The remainder of our trip through France was uneventful. The second we reached the Belgian border our eyes were met with a very disturbing sight.
There were bodies hanging in trees lining the motorway, according to Sophie they appeared to be the bodies from coloured people, going by the clothing they were more than likely Muslims.
I couldn’t help but thinking of that haunting Billie Holiday song “Strange Fruit”
“Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees”
It became apparent that the population of Belgium had turned to vigilante justice and had adopted the mob lynch executions so often portrayed in stories and movies about some southern states of the US.
It was true that the Islamic state had spread the disease, but this group of barbaric fundamentalist only represented a tiny percentage of the Islam.
Muslims all over the world had become victims like everyone else on the planet.
One of my favourite TV shows and I was delighted to find out there will be a second season called Deutschland 86, because it is set 3 years later.
I only lived literally a walking distance from Germany in 1983 and in fact most of my life. Growing up as a kid I didn’t really think anything of it but in hindsight it was kinda bizarre.
Little did I know then, that we were really not that far away from the ‘battlegrounds’ of the cold war, even though the fact there were plenty of staff of the AFCENT (Allied Forces Central Europe Netherlands) in town and surrounding cities. One of the former coal mines was actually used as part of their HQ.
And surely the AWACS planes (a Boeing 707 type plane with a radar dish on top of it) should have been a give away.
Oblivious I just went about my business without a care in the world. Naively I felt quite safe where I lived, because often I had seen American Marines marching between Geleen and Heerlen(two municipalities in the south of the Netherlands), chanting stuff like “I like working for Uncle Sam” In fact I thought it was cool, and in a way it was I suppose.
Not realizing those very soldiers were there to assist the Dutch army in case of a potetntial WW3 breaking out.
The Germans though were a funny bunch particularly when it came to their music. From the 50’s to the early 80’s there music was really Schlagers, it can only be described as German folk music I suppose, I would call it crap but it is still very popular with some people who I don’t want to offend.
At the start of the 80’s though a new direction of German music emerged, it was called ‘die Neue Deutsche Welle, New German wave and it brought a few great bands and songs to the front. Bands like Nena,Trio,Bap and indeed Peter Schilling whose song Major Tom is used as the theme for Deutschland 83
One of my favorites of the NDW is a Cologne band called BAP , the song is about the Kristal Nacht (in english known as the night of broken glass) from a dark period in German history. The band sings in the local Cologne dialect which is very similar to the Limburg dialect. I will leave it with that. I hope you enjoy this little peace of history. Enjoy the song.
I was born in a small town in Limburg, the most southern province of the Netherlands.
The name of the town is Geleen, it was a mining town until 1967. In 1967 the mine Maurits,which was the biggest in the country and up to 1958 the biggest 2 shaft mine in the world, closed. However that is not what the forgotten history is about.
On October 5 1942 approximately 30 bombers of the RAF carried out a bombing raid between 21:55 and 23:10, killing 83 and severely injuring 22 other. Leaving about 3000 people homeless.
The intended target had been Aken just over the border in Germany.
Due to bad weather those 30 bombers which were part of a squadron of 257 bombers had deviated from their direction thus resulting in the bombing of Geleen. Killing 83, wiping out 57 houses, severely damaging 227 more house and causing further damage to another 1728 homes.
A further 13 coal miners were killed in the raid, the Maurits was heavily damaged and it took fire crews from several cities to help extinguish the fires caused by the bombing. There were even fire crews which came from Rotterdam which is about 200 KM away from the mine to help with the fires.
The Maurits was mistaken for the mine Anna, which was near Aken.
Ironically more damage was done by the allies then was done by the Germans during WW2, in Geleen.
Frank Johnson an ordinary family man, married with 3 children, lived a reasonably ordinary life.
Until due to a degenerative eye disease he turned blind.
His life had changed but he was determined not to be defeated, he was going to be ready for anything that life was going to throw at him.
With this determination and the help of his family and a guide dog called Faust, Frank was ready for anything, even an apocalyptic event that would change the lives of everyone on the planet.
This is a tale of suffering and despair but above everything else also a tale of hope, love and endurance, or in short a tale of life.
Chapter 1 Coping with Blindness.
I didn’t know that they actually used Rottweilers as guide dogs, however I found it intriguing and decided to go for it. I always did pride myself to be a bit different after all.
It took 2 years for my dog to be trained, he was called Faust after the German word for fist, why he got that name I don’t know, maybe it is because he had the attitude of a fighter.
Life hadn’t been easy for me, due to some freak set of circumstances I had turned blind. It felt as if my whole world had collapsed around me and I was being sucked into a black hole, often I had contemplated killing myself but what good would that do, it would only result in my family suffering and picking up the pieces. So suicide was the one luxury I couldn’t afford.
A therapist had lined out all my options to still have a productive life, it was through him I got in contact with the guide dog association.
I have had Faust for 5 years now he’s quite literally my eyes. He was a member of the family, my kids love him, but my wife was sometimes still scared though. I couldn’t blame her because he was quite some animal, and very protective of me.
Faust did make my life much easier, I got some of my independence back because of him. Things that seemed impossible before were now possible again.
Prior to my blindness I had never been a great dog fan or any other animal for that matter, my 3 kids took up all of my time. Two boys and a girl, they really changed my life for the better. Everything was just fine until the day the retina became detached in my right eye, I had to have an emergency operation. This was just a few weeks before Christmas. Initially the surgery appear to be successful however during my 1st check-up it emerged that the retina had re-detached and a 2nd operation was needed. This time everything went wrong, during surgery my eye ball caved in and my face swelled up and became disfigured like that of a creature from the Lord of the Rings. I lost sight in the eye
The swelling did disappear and my face did become normal again but a year later the same thing happened to my left eye, although I did keep some sight in the eye it did leave me virtually blind.
I still hear the Surgeon say “Mr Johnson in all my years as an Ophthalmic surgeon I never seen anything like this, not the same condition in both eyes”. Little good that did me.
They say that when you lose one of your senses the other senses get strengthened. Believe you me that is the biggest pile of crap you will ever hear. When you lose your sight you don’t suddenly get a super hearing.
Nothing can prepare you for blindness but it doesn’t mean it is the end of the world either! It just means it is the end of the life you led till then, you’ d be amazed the things you can do when you set your mind to it, even when your blind.
It didn’t see it always like that of course. The last few years had been hard but I endured and with the help of my family and my trusted 4 legged friend life was worth living again.
“Mr Johnson, Mr Frank Johnson you have won the whole back catalogue of Led Zeppelin” I heard the voice saying on the radio. I had entered a competition and had won the price. The question was what the name of Led Zeppelin’s drummer was, I had answered John Bonham. It’s not like I am huge Zeppelin fan but Stairway to heaven is my favourite song of all time.
My kids often complain about my taste in music, but what do kids nowadays know about proper music.
They interrupted “Misty mountain hop” on the radio for some breaking news. An aggressive virus had apparently broken out in Tunisia, thousands had been affected and it was spreading rapidly. The WHO described it as something worse than the black plague. The Nato had sent warships from several bases in Italy, Greece and Turkey to Tunisia to ensure the virus wouldn’t reach Europe.
Thankfully we were far away from the Mediterranean, so I felt very save.
The following morning DHL delivered the Zeppelin albums. I picked “Physical Graffiti” from the bundle and called my oldest son Luke, he loved the 1998 Godzilla movie, and put on the song Kashmir. I asked him if he recognized it, “that sounds like that song in Godzilla” he said. He was referring to the P Diddy, Jimmy Paige song “come with me” I said “that’s right but this is the original, so what do you think of your old daddy’s taste of music now?”
I think I may have brainwashed Faust somewhat, he appears to like my music quite a bit. It sometimes sounds like he is barking to the tunes.
Later that day there were more news bulletins on the radio about this virus, it really sounded horrendous. It seems like it was a lot worse than anything encountered before. There were a few cases where some people actually resurrected after they had died from the virus. The scientist said this was just the neurological system just kidding itself the body was still alive.
Not just a guide dog is the story of the Johnsons who lived an ordinary suburban life Frank and his wife Marie and their 3 kids, Luke, David and Claire didn’t have any real worries. They weren’t rich by any stretch of the imagination but they were comfortable enough.
Alas disaster struck, due to a degenerative eye disease Frank lost most of his sight. With the help of a guide dog called Faust and his family he was able to make most of his life.
The life of everyone on the planet got changed by the outbreak of a virus which turned human beings into living dead or soulless cannibals. This was exploited by Isis who had turned it from a local epidemic to a global pandemic.
The only safe places were the regions near the arctic and Antarctic Circle. But harsh choices had to be made. Leaving anyone with a disability behind. This resulted in Frank and Faust being separated from the family. With the help of his loyal guide dog Faust and some kindred spirits he meets on the way , Frank goes on a quest to re-unite with his family, fighting his blindness, ravenous ‘undead’ and self-proclaimed leaders of men.