فصل 04

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فصل 04

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CHAPTER FOUR

A helping hand

Hiro felt hot. The train seemed to be travelling even faster.

‘My name’s Hiro Adachi,’ he said. ‘I’m from Japan.’

‘Yes, of course,’ the Shark answered. ‘Japan is one of my favourite countries,’ he went on. As he spoke, he sat forward, held out his hand and smiled. The smile seemed even more frightening than before.

‘Pleased to meet you,’ Hiro said, taking the man’s hand. It felt cold and wet, like the skin of a fish.

‘The pleasure is mine,’ the Shark replied. ‘So, I suppose you are a student taking a holiday?’

‘Yes, I’m InterRailing,’ replied Hiro.

‘Very good. Berlin is your first stop?’ the Shark asked.

‘Yes,’ said Hiro.

‘And how many nights will you stay in Berlin? It is a very exciting city,’ the Shark continued.

‘I’m not sure,’ Hiro answered.

The Shark nodded slowly. ‘You have already booked a hotel, of course?’

Hiro had an uncomfortable feeling that there was a reason for the questions. He suddenly didn’t want to tell the Shark where he was staying. ‘Not yet. I was going to look around,’ he replied. The Shark’s eyes became very small.

‘In Kreuzberg maybe,’ Hiro added quickly. He wondered if that was enough information to give.

The Shark nodded. ‘Perhaps I can suggest somewhere. The Hotel Modena? Cheap, but very comfortable.’

‘Thank you so much. Maybe I’ll try it,’ replied Hiro.

‘I shall telephone for you. The owner is an old friend,’ the Shark said, reaching for his phone.

Hiro didn’t know what to do. ‘Thank you, but I’m hoping to meet someone in Kreuzberg… a Japanese friend… from my city,’ he said weakly.

There was silence for a moment. It was a lie and Hiro could see the Shark knew it. Hiro felt very hot.

The Shark smiled. ‘Of course. It was simply an idea.’ He watched Hiro thoughtfully for a few moments, then spoke again. ‘I must apologise to you, my friend. There is something terrible I must tell you. I am a very stupid old man. I read some messages on your phone before I understood it was not mine. I imagine you did the same?’ Hiro felt a drop of sweat run out of his hair. The lights in the train suddenly seemed very bright. ‘No,’ he said. ‘Only one. About your meeting at the Brandenburg Gate.’

There was a long silence again. Hiro wanted to brush the sweat from his forehead. The silence seemed to go on forever. Finally, the man gave another smile and looked away.


At Hannover the train was delayed for half an hour, so it was after seven thirty when they reached Berlin. It was a rainy evening and already getting dark, so the lights of the city shone all around. Hiro felt more relaxed. For the rest of the journey the Shark had slept - well, he’d had his eyes closed. Hiro couldn’t be certain he was asleep. Hiro felt silly now for thinking so badly of the old man. Obviously, Hiro’s imagination had gone wild after reading that thriller. After all, the man was old enough to be his grandfather - how could anyone like that be dangerous?

Finally they pulled into the station, a huge modern building. Hiro picked up his bag and stood up. Although he felt better, he wanted to get away from the old man as quickly as possible.

‘It was very nice to meet you,’ Hiro said politely.

The Shark also got up. ‘How will you get to Kreuzberg?’ he asked.

‘I’m going to take the U-Bahn,’ Hiro said.

‘No, no, that is not good. I shall show you the best way.’

Hiro’s heart raced. ‘It’s very kind of you, but I’ll be fine.’

The Shark took Hiro’s arm. ‘It is no problem.’

Hiro felt the Shark’s hand lead him forward, off the train. The platform was busy, but Hiro suddenly felt very alone. Even though he’d persuaded himself that his fears were just the result of a stupid book, Hiro realised he was shaking a little. Here he was in a foreign city, where he didn’t speak the language, and this old man was making him afraid.

‘Follow me,’ the Shark said. ‘I will take you to the S-Bahn, to the correct platform, then leave you there.’

Hiro knew he couldn’t argue. He tried to keep calm. ‘This will be all right,’ he told himself. ‘In five minutes I’ll be on my own again.’

The Shark led the way along the platform until they came to an escalator going down. ‘You must take the S-Bahn to Friedrichstrasse,’ he said as they stepped together on to the moving escalator. ‘It is the next stop. Then you will take the U-Bahn to Hallesches Tor in Kreuzberg. Do you understand?’

The Shark’s face was close to Hiro’s; his teeth were bright in the station lights.

‘Thank you. Yes,’ Hiro replied.

They walked across a wide hall. A family of Japanese were standing under a big clock. Hiro thought of calling out to them for help, but couldn’t think what to say. A moment later he had passed them and it was too late in any case.

They reached another escalator. This time they went up. The Shark didn’t speak. Hiro told himself, ‘Only another couple of minutes, then I’ll be safe.’

They came out on to another platform. It was wide, but quite crowded near the escalator.

‘Come, there is more room further down,’ the Shark said.

‘I’ll be fine now, thank you,’ Hiro said.

‘No, I shall wait,’ the Shark answered. ‘I must be sure you take the correct train.’

They stopped two thirds of the way along the platform. It was less wide just there because of a large seat. They were standing quite close to the edge. The sound of a train made Hiro turn around. It was coming in fast. He saw the lights on the front, the driver looking out. Hiro felt the Shark move in closer to him.

The next moment Hiro had a sudden idea of what might happen. Everyone on the platform was looking forward, watching the train. No one was looking in their direction. The Shark was going to push him. He was going to push him off the platform in front of the train!

At the last second Hiro moved back from the edge of the platform. At the same time the Shark seemed to reach out as if he was falling. Hiro felt the Shark take his arm, but Hiro was now away from the danger. The next moment the train had raced past. The scream of brakes followed. A few seconds later the train had come to a stop.

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