A while ago I figured out a kind of writing exercise for myself that I call Fictionalizing the News. The idea is to take a news article, preferably a less prominent one, and use it as a basis for a short story. By doing this I would practice writing fiction without having to dream up my own plot and characters right out of nothing. I set myself the goal to write one story per month. At first I wasn’t sure if I was going to publish them and if so, where but now I’ve decided I will publish them here.
Please be aware as you read this, that though it is based on an actual event, I am not attempting to describe reality or tell the truth in any way, it is just a story that I made up. The characters in this story may have names that correspond to those of real people but this is not a description of those people, they have simply lent their names to characters in a story.
And now, without further ado, I present my first fictionalization which is based on this news article. Here is The Train Station Knife Attack:
Herbert Kochler was at the station shortly before five in the morning. It was still dark outside but getting imperceptibly lighter, the temperature a few degrees above freezing, cool and crisp. He was headed to München, just like every other morning for the past fourteen years, only today he was two hours earlier than normal because he had a phone conference with clients in Beijing at six. The station was nearly deserted except for two other travelers, an older lady carrying a large shopping bag marked Lidl, and a young man in a dark hoodie restlessly pacing back and forth along a section of the platform. Herbert payed him no mind, instead he rubbed the sleep from his eyes then looked down at his phone to pass the time.
Ali Yilmaz was also aiming for the first train to München but hadn’t quite reached the station yet. He was running late since he had gone to bed late the night before and overslept by a few minutes, and was now crossing the plaza in front of the station at a brisk pace. He couldn’t afford to miss the train, if he didn’t arrive at work on time his boss would dock him a full hour of pay, even if he was just a minute late. As he entered the tunnel connecting the different platforms, he checked his watch, still two minutes left, no need to run.
Jamal Ben Omar was distraught and confused: he didn’t really know what he was doing here or even where ‘here’ was. He could remember how the police had accosted him on the street a few days ago in his hometown of Giessen and how, in order to get away from it all, he’d taken a train to München where the bastard hotel receptionist had denied him a room. Everything else was unclear, he knew however, that wherever this was, it was not München, the station was far too small for that.
He kept pacing back and forth along the platform, thinking about the past two years of his life, and how everything had gone to shit after he got fired from his job. The shame of having to live on government handouts, the sorrow he felt the day his girlfriend left him, the way he felt left out because he couldn’t afford to join his old friends anymore, and finally, how he had found solace in reading the Quran, a book he hadn’t given more than a cursory glance once in a while when he still had a job. The more he thought about it all, the more he worked himself up, his pacing becoming ever more frantic.
Klaus Schmidt and Diedrich Fessler were out on their daily morning exercise round, a roughly nine kilometer bike ride that would take them through Grafing city center, west on Ebersberger Strassse then right onto Hauptstrasse, past the stationn and Nettelkofen, all the way up to road 304 then back again along Münchner Strasse. Despite the early hour, they were in high spirits as they were making real good time, and as they turned the corner onto Haupstrasse they were almost neck and neck with the first train rolling in from Assling.
Jamal had come to a conclusion, the reason, he figured, that his life was so shit was because he was living in a country full of infidels. Everything was all their fault and damn if he wasn’t going to do anything about it. He drew the knife he was carrying ‘for security’, and just as the first train was coming in to the station he started walking towards the business man – the very epitome of an imperialist infidel – standing some way down the platform. When he was just meters away he shouted ‘Allahu akbar’ then ran up to the unsuspecting man and stabbed him in the chest one, two, three times while shouting ‘Infidels must die’, matching the rhythm of his stabs with the flow of the words. Before anyone could react he turned on his heel then bounded down the stairs to the track underpass. There he bumped in to a man who was just on his way up, and without thinking, stabbed him too, then pushed him out of the way. He kept going, and just seconds after stabbing his second victim he exited the underpass tunnel and came up on the front station plaza. Propelled forward by his momentum he careened into two men on bicycles waiting for the red light, stabbed both of them, one in the stomach and the other in the shoulder, then ran out in the middle of the road where he stopped.
He didn’t really know full well what to do now. The logical thing would have been to keep running but the energy had sort of drained out of him, gone was the sense of purpose that had prompted him to attack, he just felt detached and empty inside. He ambled a few hundred meters along the street until he found a bench and sank down on it, completely spent. It couldn’t have been more than ten minutes before he heard sirens in the distance but couldn’t bring himself to get up. Let them come he thought, they might arrest me or they might shoot me, no matter what I will be a martyr for Islam.
When emergency crews arrived on the scene they first came upon Schmidt and Fessler. Though injured they their wounds were not that serious, and the ambulance crew, urged on by the woman who had called them, rushed on towards Herbert Kochler who lay dying on the platform. They did their utmost to resuscitate him but ultimately they couldn’t save his life, he was pronounced dead shortly after reaching the hospital. The police arrived shortly after the ambulance, and immediately started searching for the perpetrator. With the help of witnesses, it took them less than half an hour to locate him where he sat on a bench, not two hundred meters from the scene. When they arrested him he seemed dazed and confused, almost as if he didn’t know what a terrible crime he had just committed.