They jostled positions, running when they were told, stopping when they were told. Like cattle. It was demoralizing to watch. The soldiers would yell, “To the barber!” and they would respond like cows. disheartened, broken, dejected. I couldn’t watch, but I had to. I followed one boy, barely fifteen, as he clung to man I assumed to be his father. There was a glow to him and his father. I wanted to whisper encouragement, to tell them it was all right, but, alas, I could only follow helplessly. I could hear soldiers up ahead, asking questions. I drew away from the boy, finding another man. I willed him to follow me, compelled him to save the boy.
I smiled fleetingly as I made him interrogate the two. “Hey, kid, how old are you?” he asked the boy. “Fifteen,” the boy responded. I shook my head and placed a ghostly hand on the man’s shoulder. “No, you’re eighteen,” I made him say. “But I’m not,” the boy said quietly, “I’m fifteen.” I smiled at him. Such innocence, it is no wonder his light is so bright in all this weariness. “Fool,” my man said, “Listen to what I say.”
I looked at the boy’s father, so alike the boy. I had to save him too. Again, the man asked the father, how old are you? “I’m fifty,” the man responded. I sighed quietly. I must have influenced the man, for he sounded angry now as I willed him to say, “No. Not fifty. You’re forty. Do you hear? Eighteen and forty.” I had made the man distressed, so I led him away. I made sure he would survive too.
By the time I returned to the boy and his father, another inmate was harassing them. I frowned, but did nothing. “Sons of bitches,” the man was spewing, “why have you come here? Tell me, why?”
I did not like this man. His aura was dark, too far gone into madness to realize he could still survive. I whispered into a man’s ear nearby, and he said loudly, “What do you think? That we came here of our own free will? That we asked to come here?”
The other seemed ready to kill him. “Shut up you moron, or I’ll tear you to pieces!” I floated ominously toward the man. “You should have hanged yourselves rather than come here.” I glowered at the man. How dare you. “Didn’t you know what was in store for you here in Auschwitz?” he continued. “You didn’t know? In 1944?”
I looked to my boy and father. They were transfixed by the man’s words. I rushed to them, kept their glow alight, hating the man for ruining my wards. But the man was not done.
“Over there. Do you see the chimney over there?” Do not look, my child! “Do you see it?” Do not see it! “And the flames, do you see them?” There are no flames, boy, do not look! My heart broke as the boy stared at the chimney. “Over there,” the man I now despised said, “That’s where they will take you. Over there will be your grave.” Silence you fool! “You still do not understand?” Let them have their ignorance, please! “You sons of bitches. Don’t you understand anything?” I was upon him with the wrath of the gods. “You will be burned! Burned to a cinder! Turned to ashes!”
I normally am very benevolent. But at that instant, my boy’s glow extinguished. I silently screamed at the man who ruined everything. I dangerously circled him, staring deep into his soul. I made sure he knew I was there, and I hated him. With no remorse, I pluck his soul from his body. It glowed red, already burning. I tossed it anyway toward the chimney. I had no guilt for the man; he was dead long before I came.
My boy was lost. He drudged forward toward another man, one every one of my people recognize with severe loathing: Dr. Josef Mengele. We all wanted to destroy him like we could with lesser beings, but his power prevented that. He all watched him with the deepest abhorrence for such a man, a true picture of evil. He stood smug, director of lives, issuing deaths with no thought of consequence. I had seen too many twins taken from Earth by his uncaring hands. A “White Angel” indeed, he held not even a remote association with that renowned order.
My boy was nearing Mengele. I flew to him, wrapping my arms around him and his father, hoping Mengele would be merciful.
“You’re age?” The Angle of Death asked.
“In good health?” I gave Mengele a look would kill any normal human.
“Farmer.” I knew he lied, but I smiled with all my heart for the boy.
Mengele pointed left. I reluctantly let go of the boy as he moved. Now for his father. Mengele pointed left again. I could see the relief on the boy’s face, and pride swelled in my ability to keep them together. I could not help but notice other’s looks as they went left. All were worse than those who were chosen to go right. I followed the boy and his father closely, an affection guardian for my wards.
A man came over. “Satisfied?” he asked, his voice laced in sarcasm. Someone answered yes. “Poor devils,” he said knowingly, “you are heading for the crematorium.”
My heart skipped a beat. No. But it was true; ahead, flames roared like lions, and I could just make out small bundles being tossed in. They looked familiar, but I couldn’t quite place—
I tried to block the boy’s view, but too late, he had already seen the babies. My shoulders slumped, I gave up. They were too powerful. No matter how my people acted, no matter what we did, they always stole our wards. This war was terrible, this camp was terrible, and why had I ever thought I could fight it?
“What a shame, a shame that you did not go with your mother…” the father lamented. “I saw many children your age go with their mothers…” Yes, foolish me. Why had I not kept the boy with his mother?
My boy’s glow was gone, and an ever creeping blackness threatened to engulf him. I watch sadly. He was broken, and so was I.
He told his father someone would save them, that such a crime would not go unpunished. I smiled desolately, knowing that such a hope is what drew me to this boy in the first place. “The world?” the father answered harshly. “The world is not interested in us. Today, everything is possible, even the crematoria…” I tried to comfort the father, but I had nothing left.
“Father,” the boy said, “If that is true, than I don’t want to wait. I’ll run into the electric barbed wire. That would be easier than a slow death in the flames.” I wept for the loss of such a brilliant child. And I was not alone. Everyone was crying. They recited Kaddish, and I could only smile angrily. We were here, listening to your prayers, but we cannot do anything either.
But I saw hope. I was desperate. The guards were uneasy with the overwhelming misery around them. I flew to them, willing every pitying thought I had into their minds. They waivered, looked at each other. I soared to another group of soldiers, willing them as well. I passed my message to everyone I could find. It took everything I had. I could feel myself draining, my body becoming more and more transparent. One last shot, one last hope to save the boy and his father.
That was it. I had given my everything, and as I slowly faded away, I watched the two turn away from the crematorium, away from the flames, away from death, toward cold, unwelcoming barracks. Maybe I hadn’t saved them; maybe I had only sentenced them to years of suffering and misfortune. But maybe, just maybe, I had saved my little boy.