What would you do if you woke up to see a living, breathing, tiny, glowing, pink elephant? If you’re anything like Schoch, who lives on the streets of Zürich and is decidedly down on his luck, you might well think it’s time to put away the bottle before your hallucinations get any stranger, and go back to sleep.But what if the tiny pink elephant is still there when you wake up? And clearly needs someone to take care of it? And what if you discover that it’s been created through genetic engineering, by a group of scientists who just want to use it to get rich and don’t care about the elephant’s welfare? And that they’re in cahoots with a circus and will stop at nothing to get it back?What if this little elephant is about to change your life?
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This eBook first published in Great Britain by 4th Estate in 2018
Copyright © 2017 by Diogenes Verlag AG Zurich
English translation copyright © Jamie Bulloch 2018
Cover design by Heike Schüssler
Martin Suter asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work
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Source ISBN: 9780008264314
Ebook Edition © May 2018 ISBN: 9780008264291
For Ana and Margrith
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Also by Martin Suter (#litres_trial_promo)
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12 June 2016
It couldn’t be withdrawal syndrome as he’d had plenty to drink.
Schoch tried to focus on the object. A child’s toy, a tiny elephant as pink as a marzipan piglet, but more intense in colour. And glowing like a pink firefly, right at the back of the hollow, where the ceiling of the cave met the sandy ground.
People sometimes stumbled across Schoch’s cave, a hollow eroded from beneath the riverside path, and he might find the occasional junkie’s gear, condoms or fast-food packaging. But he’d never seen evidence of a child’s visit before.
He closed his eyes and tried to get something like sleep.
But then he had a ‘merry-go-round’, which was what he called those states of inebriation when everything started spinning the moment he crawled into his sleeping bag. In all these years he’d never managed to put his finger on what caused drunkenness to become a merry-go-round. Sometimes he was certain it was the volume consumed, while on other occasions he suspected it was down to the mixture of drinks. And then there were days like today when – so far as he could recall – he hadn’t drunk more than yesterday, or anything different, and yet everything was still spinning.
Maybe it was something to do with the weather. On the way home the Föhn wind had chased the thick clouds over the river, intermittently tearing them apart to reveal a full moon. Full moon and the Föhn: maybe that was the reason for his merry-go-rounds, at least a few of them.
He’d never found out whether it was better to keep his eyes open or closed either.
Schoch opened them. The toy elephant was still there, but it appeared to be a little further to the right.
He closed his eyes again. For a moment the little elephant spun beneath his eyelids, leaving a streak of pink.
He immediately wrenched his eyes open.
There it was, flapping its ears and lifting its trunk into an S-shape.
Schoch turned over onto the other side and tried to stop the spinning.