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The Storm of Souls

Elias awoke. The power was down again. This had been happening frequently lately, for it was late summer in Germany and there were plenty of thunderstorms at this time of year. For years people here had been awestricken by a mighty storm that approached every year and whose destructive force was unrivalled. Every year when the hurricane came, people in the cities would pray that it would not destroy their houses. And every year the storm passed them by downright gently and spared their cities, though destroying everything in its path outside the cities.

Elias left the house. He was the only one not registered on the Cybernet, the new social system. For he disliked the new system. Elias liked nature, where he could still think freely. He still found fulfilment in life and delight in his own thoughts and impressions, which dwelt only inside him and not on the Cybernet. Nature did not enrol, encapsulate or enumerate him, it enthused him.

Elias had seen that, as soon as they possess or control a thing, people cease to enjoy it and to pay it any attention or respect. They control nature and yet they are the epitome of helplessness. For they know not what they want.

Time and time again, Elias wondered whether it wasn’t a mistake for people to begin controlling nature. For when people began to control nature, they stopped loving it and understanding it, they lost touch with it. And when they began ruling over one another, they stopped appreciating and loving one another, too. In the end, they became slaves to their Cybernet and to their own machines, to which they themselves strived to measure up. When the power went down, they would rush right over to the signal heads by the wood, to the towering factories and machinery that loomed up everywhere around them, to reset them to their pre-storm state as fast as possible. They reminded him of ghosts wandering around blindly against the setting sun. Without really being able to live in this world that spread out around them after the rain and in the evening sunshine. After the rain, the sun shone and shimmered with newfound vigour. Though no-one noticed but Elias. So he was to be the only one to find out the truth about the storm.

For only he was aware that the storm was but the souls of others that had quit their bodies. And so it was their souls that rose blindly, year in, year out, to form a storm, a mighty outcry of their failure. And this was why the stormy souls had kept their distance from the people in their rooms, in their houses, in their towns. The souls . . . they were afraid. The souls never ever want to return to human bodies because they are like a prison to them. There are bound to be plenty more storms in future, thought Elias.

Translation: Walter Hackman


Artwork credit: 
张诗墨, Beijing Film Academy

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Flash Europa 28 is organised and run in cooperation with the Delegation of the European Union to China, the embassies of each of the 28 EU member states, The Bookworm, Literature Across Frontiers, and social media platforms in China.