And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed.
Young Gefen felt the rumble of the tracks through his noodle hard legs. He only stood because the car’s floor was wet and sticky with his urine and feces mixed with droppings of the other two hundred Polish Jews packed in around him. Without the pressure of their thin bodies he wouldn’t have had a choice in his stature. They were the only thing holding him up. Maybe there would be food. They promised that there would be.
Maybe his mother and father would be at the camp. He’d heard the German soldiers talking about the thousands that had left before him. They it was a one way ticket. That was ok with Gefen. Why would anyone want to go back? For a long cold month he’d slept on the street. February was always cold, but this year was the worst he could remember. Before that he’d lived in a closet were friends of his mother kept him hidden and fed him a mouse’s rations of bread. It was more that he ate in the ghetto. The constant fear of being found could have only ended by actually being found he thought.
“No, no! There is no one,” Annett tried to convince the men who’d smashed down her door.
“Now, now,” her husband told her. Gefen never thought the man wanted him there. In the darkness he could here doors opening and closing and dogs snarling. It was terrifying. All at once it was bright as the closet door came open.
“Now go. You have him,” Nicklas said.
A man in grey looked him in the eye and said, “Traitors to the Reich, are not simple left to repeat there crimes.” Then he raised his black gun and killed her.
For Gefen things just kept getting worse. A man a few feet away from his was retching now. It was hot in the car, despite the cold outside. So many bodies and the sun pounding down hour after hour made it an oven. He thought the man still erect at his left shoulder was dead, but simply hadn’t found the opportunity to fall. Maybe they would have food; food and a place to bath. Still the train rumbled on.
Four hours later he felt the car’s momentum reverse. He was pressed forward and those behind him pushed against him. Brakes screeched and the sound of barking dogs erupted. Germans liked dogs. Gefen surged forward with the crowd, hoping his legs would still function. His first test was stepping over a man that had fallen dead near the door, and not slipping in the process.
“Forward! Forward!” Someone yelled. The Germans never game them a chance to rest, never. The train lay in a line to his left, blocking his view. To the right were rows of fencing and a few broken skeletons of men three sections back. One naked man hung by a rope from a pole, his leg looking gnawed upon.
“Forward!” He followed the surge of dying men as the column turn into the compound. They passed rows of wooden barracks and beyond them a large brick building spewed black smoke into the sky. Following a river of foul drainage from the resident’s quarters, they continued deeper into the camp. Maybe to the kitchens for some bread?
“Forward! Forward!” Gefen saw they were approaching something; a long stone wall a hundred feet long. The ditch diverted away and for the first time in days, the boy caught a wiff of fresh air. He’d forgotten how wonderful, it could be. It was quieter, his eyes darted around. They’d left the dogs behind, now only soldier in grey guided the way. Men who would shoot for no reason; killing just for fun.
“Forward!” Walking into through the wall’s gate, the boy lost all understanding. Inside the wall was a depression filled with a large reflective saucer shaped something and the column of men led right across a gang plank into its open maw. Shadows moved across its shine, like faces on the other side of thick glass. He was inside before he knew resist. What did it matter, the time for fighting back was long past. Invisible walls sprung up, herding him into close confines again. Couldn’t they at least give him a bit of bread? His feet became cold as something wet hit them. Then his ankles, his shins, his knees; all this just to drown, he lamented. There was nothing to say, he just looked into the eyes of the man closest to him.
“There is no beginning without an end,” the man said as the liquid overtook them.