The story is a portrait of Berlin’s nightlife and Sammy, a young, effeminate man in lingerie and a raincoat, who travels from station to station on his way to Gegen: a queer space and fetish event.
The German phrase gegen entgegen means to both go against and to be gone against. In other words, to push against an oppressive force. It expresses the everyday challenges of abuse, violence and misunderstanding faced by Sammy, and the mechanisms he adapts to counter social problems.
Besides the Oberbaum Bridge, black water glistens and colourful spotlights dance. A draft starts up from the shadows and Sammy’s stockings show. He notices a loose clasp on his garter and adjusts the fixture before walking.
Five silhouettes approach over the rise, cheering in tight formation. Two of them split off and head directly towards Sammy, who stares at a lamppost at the end of the passage clenching a lighter. The men have beers and are wearing distressed jeans. They whistle through their fingers, one man’s waist exposed by the buttons popped on his shirt. They bicker as they near and slow down. Then—whilst passing—the smallest man pulls up a phone and snaps a photograph close to Sammy’s face. He knocks the men out of his way and looks over his shoulder, as they laugh deeply and call to their friends.
The story follows Risky, a rabbit who lives besides a motorway. She loves to “play deadly games with fate”, a dangerous if not admirable trait that leads to her being used by a white fox who deals in custard diamonds.
The rabbit took to playing a new game in darkness called Test the Lights. When there was no traffic around, she'd stand on the road with her eyes ajar and wait till the headlights of oncoming cars became a flat white wall. Then — as the world was crashing all around her — she'd leap off onto the grass and lay back listening to motors speed off towards Bright City.
Late one evening, she tested the lights of an enormous truck hauling a tanker of sewage. She left it too late to jump and had no choice but to fall back under the terror. Its metal innards skimmed her eyelashes and the sound of burning petrol tortured her ears, yet she survived it all, once more.
‘It’s true,’ she said to herself: the universe was on her side.
Offline Samizdat was a small circuit arts journal published in Berlin between 2012-2015 by Bianca Clifford. In Issue 1: Metaphor, Issue 2: Discipline and Issue 3: Reasons, Bianca published Simon’s first short stories and creative non-fiction, including “All the World’s a Drunken First, Every Man’s a Sullied Coin”, “ The Arbitrator” and “Donation”.
These works were inspired by observations of people Simon regularly saw in Berlin during the initial months of his relocation to the city.
As he reads the lines over again, Philip’s features distort. He mutters the words and swivels on the grass in search of his gin, which he finds empty and lobs over the water, missing the opposite bank entirely. He pulls himself up with a willow’s branch to screw his heel into the magazine’s cover until a crater forms. Then he scatters the pages out into the canal with his foot, shouting short statements about glass and hot air and women with money.
The Organ Recital
“The Organ Recital” is a bilingual short story about the end of a relationship. It was published by Hark Magazine in Issue 4: Death.
The Bible's cover is the colour of clotted blood. It triggers a series of thoughts relating to faith: faith in self-sacrifice and in the return of a saviour; faith in a predetermined life that emanates from God: a shield for pain and a reassurance for loss.
She toys with the seed in her pocket then looks to the glass wall, watching clouds thin out and break away.