In front of a huge advertising panel, a small boy tried to read each of the flashy sentences, which danced on the screen, before others would replace them. ‘RFID for home-use’ ‘Scape your dinner with Cornucopia’ ‘The latest must-have is not a nPad – get an’ The last words disappeared and he stared annoyed at the big smiling face of the stupid salesman.
Suddenly a man jostled him rudely and yelled at him. Achille stepped a bit back and looked away. It wasn’t his fault, idiot, he thought. Again someone pushed him further away of the ad. It got even busier than before. “Sure a Maglev train came from inland”, he mumbled.
The grown-ups didn’t even care about him. They were all so concern about themselves that they bumped him or hustle him with their arms. The boy tried to avoid them and to get away from the open square. But when he finally got a bit of space, someone graped him and picked him up. Before he could even scream, a hand pressed on his mouth. They were running. Then he saw an old and scratched skycar. White hands stretched out towards him and pulled him in. It was dark inside and a woman spoke. Something hard was pressed on his face and he heard a strange buzz. Where did it home from, thought he, but in the next moment he was asleep.
Achille felt sick. He opened his eyes and turned his head to the little night light glowing next to him. A clock began to peep. Peep. Peep. Peep peep. Peeep peeep peeep. It got faster and faster.
Then the door of the small room opened and a woman came in. She smiled at him, but he could hear someone swearing loudly. A man. She closed the door and the peeping seemed even louder. When she came over to him, he tried to move away from her. He didn’t know her.
“Oh come on, let me stop that.”, said she laughing and gaped gently his wrist. A green flashing tape was around it. Where did he get it from? She opened it, removed it and as she did, the peeping faded away.
“Whheream?”, stammered the boy.
He glazed at her uncertainly and she smiled again. Her voice was soft and sad, “You know, … your parents got some really important work. Again. And, oh dear, they just couldn’t take you with them. You understand that, don’t you?”
He squinted up his face and burst into tears. They did it again, he though and turned to hide his face in the pillow. He howled loud. Why was he left-behind again? Again and again. He tried to yell that they didn’t care about him, but all he got out was a long wail.
He heard some knocking and screaming, then the white gentle arms set him up and nervously wrapped around him.
“Oh, no no no.”, said she trembling, but he didn’t care. “Listen to me! Stop howling! You are a big boy, yeah a big boy, aren’t you?”
“Thhee leff ff fagaan.”, he bawled.
Something knocked again.
“They left again? Oh, noo, oh, no no.”, she hold him a bit away and continued, “You know, it’s like that…”
She looked at the door and then back at him.
“Oh, yeah, they said that you would get something.”, he tried to say something, but she didn’t stopped, “Only if you are a good boy, you know? Only good boys get something.”
“Fhe flast fon thaid thaat tooo.”, sniveled he, while rubbing his eyes.
“No no, this time, yeah, it’s something… awesome! So, so stop that howling and stuff. I’ll tell you. Promised! But stop it, you know?”
He nodded and tried to calm down. Maybe his mommy and daddy really had something special this time. It was the first time they didn’t tell him and left him with a baby sitter all alone.
When he just wheeze a bit, he looked at her expectantly.
“You wanna know?”
He nodded fiercely. She sighed.
“Something. Yeah. Reaaally awesome… which a kid like you don’t have…”, she stopped and looked around. He leaned forward with excitement. As she turned and blazoned forth: “It’s a cat.”
“A cat?”, said he with big eyes, “A real cat?”
“Of course a real cat, do you want a fake one?”
“But, a, but… is it… and you can’t have a cat… I think.”, stumbled he.
“You know you can have one, if you want. And you want one, don’t you?”
He nodded again and said: “Yes, I want to, I want to!”
She looked really happy and smiled, “But only if you are a good boy.”
“I’m a good boy! I’m a good boy!”
“Oh, that’s good. I’ll tell your parents if you are a bad boy, you know.”
“No, no, I’m really good. I’m already five years old.”
“Really? So you can take care of a cat?”
“Yes! All by myself!”, said he proud.
“Oh, then tell me, what stuff can you do?”, asked she him while standing up and turning the light on.
“I”, he took a deep breath and thought about what he should say. She grinned and sat down on a chair.
“I, I… can already read! I can read stories for the cat! Also in French! I can speak French!”
“You no say, say something!”, she laughed.
“Ma mère et mon père m’ont appris là-bas.”
“Oh, dear, you can really speak it!”
“Donc, je peux enseigner le chat lui aussi. Je peux prendre soin d’elle. Tout seul!”
“Stop, stop, I don’t get a word.”
He looked at her mazed.
“You don’t know French? But it is really important here! Mummy always says so!”
“Oh, I heard, it was, it was. But you know, nowadays everyone speaks English. Also I don’t live here.”
“You don’t live in Djibouti?”
“No, just for business. Yeah, I’m here just for some business.”
Achille thought about it. His father told him about the many people coming here for their business and also that this matter is really important for mommys and his work. What was their job again? ECT? ICT?
When he looked back at her, she was smiling at him.
“What is my mummy and daddy? ICTs?”
“Oh, you mean CITs?”, corrected she him and he clasped his hands.
“ICT. Yes, that… and what was it for?”
“Commissioner for International Trade”, told she him and said to herself, “What a boring career.”
“So, what do you wanna be if you are full age?”, asked she him a bit louder.
“I wanna be a pirate! Si, Pirates!”
He tried to impress her and also he thought that pirates were cool, since he heard a lot of stories from his last baby sitter.
“A pirate?”, she laughed, “That’s really something! You know, I’m kinda something like that, right now, I guess.”
She winked and wanted to stood up, but he graped her shirt.
“Really?! Soo cool! Your pirate name! You have to, yeah, have one! What is your pirate name!”, shouted he energised.
“Quiet down a bit, just a bit. It’s Kathy. Just a normal name.”
“But, but, it sounds pirate-like! My is Achille. Doens’t sound like a pirate at aaaall.”, said he disappointed.
“I’m gonna get you something to eat. So what do you want? You know, we got a Cornucopia.”
She laughed again and patted his head. “Unusual request, but I’ll get you one.”
When she opened the door, Achille saw an angry looking man, who shouted at her. He didn’t speak clearly, but he used many swearwords.
Again he looked around in the room. It was a rather strange room. The corners were round and the walls were edgeless and made of some white metal. He was sitting on a slim bed and there was a tiny table next to him with two metal chairs. In the other wall were a cupboard embedded or at least it seemed to be one. Should he stand up and try to open it?
He flinched as he heard something break. A scream. It sounded terrible. Then something bounced against the door. This time it sounded hollowly. Then the thing scratched on the metal door. What is going on, thought he and slip away from the door to the opposite wall.
The door opened and he saw Kathys red hair.
“Ya fucking cock jockey. Ya really think, I’m fucktard? Jerk!”
Someone pulled she away and she screamed.
“Fuck, such a munter and gob shite piss me off. Ya twat, I’m gonna slay ya next!”
The door swing up and he saw the angry man from before kicking Kathy in, yelling “Bugger off!” and pulled the door close.
The boy starred at the door, while Kathy gasped on the floor, than he jumped up and looked at her. Blood was all over her left ear and face.
“You, you are blee-bleeding”, babbled he.
“This fucking cunt… torn out my earing.”, mumbled she, nearly weeping, while pressing her palm on her ear.
Someone shouted again and they heard a shot.
“Fuck!”, screamed she and stumbled across the room, hitting the door and then pressing herself against it.
“Hide!”, hissed she.
Achille crawled crying under the bed, starring at her feet, trying to stay calm and not making any noise. His breathing went faster and faster, like the peeping before. He heard men screaming and yelling. A couple of other shoots. He didn’t understand anything. What happened here?
Then it got quiet for a moment. Are they all gone? Kathys feet didn’t move.
Again, voices. But not angry anymore. Someone knocked at the door and said something. Kathy didn’t moved. He couldn’t understand who was speaking or what, but he heard a mutter.
Kathy kneed down and signed him that he should stay under the bed, then she stood up and opened the door.
“Fuck, are you ok?”, said a men, “Call an ambulance, now!”
“… wear an earing with this earlobe.”, stammered she full of pain.
“It’s ok, we’ll do something.”, becalmed he Kathy.
It got louder outside, something was going on again.
“Is the boy with her?”, another voice.
“We got informed that they got a kid? Was he with you?”, said the first men again.
“Yeah”, said she, “ya can come out.”
He hesitated. He didn’t want to come out. It was scary and there was blood and Kathy was hurt. The man was hurting her. Where is the man?, thought he.
“Have you found my kid yet?!”, heard he screaming his mother.
Suddenly he forget about everything. He yelled “Mummy” and crawled as fast as he could out of his hide-out and right into the arms of this mother, who pushed away all police man in her way.
“… think, you have to get a cat now.”, said Kathy before she left with the police man.