A Dying Breed

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Arno is trapped and must soon escape a town on the verge of decimation to find refuge. Kai and her father evade German patrols, endangered by their identities.

This short story is inspired by Markus Zusak and the world of the book thief. Its a piece I wrote when I was fifteen, I wish to write a similar styled piece and would love some feedback to help establish some groundwork for my next work.

Submitted: June 17, 2016

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Submitted: June 17, 2016

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A Dying Breed

 

It must have been the smell. Surely it was this that brought the most torment. Or perhaps the sounds, more so the lack of. The silence of the outside world; its failure to mask the short ragged breaths of my brother. A small blade of twilight sun pierced through the rubble and rested on his tired body, his chest heaving upwards on every draw of breath. The light was a trifling consolation from the outside world, like the offer of water to a starving prisoner.

Perhaps the first raid should had taken him, like the others. Is it not better to lose it all at once than twice? Or if I had been with him, in the crumbled concrete burrow beneath our former home, when the bombs came falling for the second time, like sadistic monsters intent on pain. The loss could have been lesser. Countless days of scrounging scraps of rations, dragging food back to where he lay prisoner beneath the rubble, only to lose him. The siren came as a scream piercing the night.

Time was a commodity I couldn’t measure. For how long I ran from that town I cannot know. My desperate hunt for refuge drove my legs with the power of a frightened mare. Directed by terror I found my way to a squat wooden farmhouse that sat in the broken landscape. I could hear the screaming of shells falling in the distance behind me as I approached the door. The paint was peeling and corroded like dried blood, revealing the stark grey of the rotting timber beneath, grey as the night sky’s clouds illuminated by a sheltered moon.

A gentle hum of voices and laughter resonated through the entrance. A warm light glowed between the door and its frame. With my energy reserves exhausted and adrenaline all but dissipated I scratched desperately at the hardwood door and it was her who answered my cries.

“Papa! Es ist ein hund!” A gentle voice for a gentle girl. “Kommen in Kai.” Her father’s voice commanded her inside. Kai reached out slowly and cautiously rested her small hand on my face. I didn’t flinch. She reached further down around my nape and lightly pressured me forward, inside her home.

Kai and her father rarely left the farmhouse, especially under daylight. Their host family lived further up the winding lane hidden by a barrier of trees on either side. Eager to thank their proprietors, Kai’s father would do what he could from within the old farmhouse. A carpenter by trade, he had restored much of the recently decrepit building. The farmer often brought wood for daytime repairs and fuel for the fire at night. Apart from the two’s daily deliveries of rations and other such supplies we never saw anyone else. Until now.

19th April, 1941

…Arno, Papa and I have been in the farmhouse for weeks now. I call him Arno, which was our old neighbour’s name before they took him, before we had to start hiding. Papa tried explaining why we had to go but it still makes me sad, thinking of home...

 

Kai climbed the steps at the rear of the farmhouse that led to a small suspended platform where they slept, with a small candle lamp in hand, and Arno by her side. The two had bonded quickly after that first night. Kai lay down on her bed of dried hay, rustling as she rested her small self along its width. Arno shuffled closer and lay across her lap as they had every night. Only Papa wasn’t there. Papa and the fire. The cold air accompanied the almost total darkness, sending shivers through little Kai. She wrapped her arms around Arno’s neck and calmed as she felt his warmth.

Arno raised his head, suddenly anxious at the sound of voices nearing the farmhouse. Their peace was shattered when the door burst open. Standing behind it was a friend and a stranger. A uniformed stranger. The soldier stood with a rifle on his hip, its strap running up his right shoulder. In his left hand was a P80 German Manufactured pistol. Pressed against the head of our farmer.

Papa neared the farmhouse, holding his wounded chest as firmly as he could. He continued quickly down the winding lane. Then he heard the scream. Papa sprinted around the final bend before the farmhouse. Thoughts of his injury were replaced by shots of fear for his daughter. He ran through the entrance of the building, fleeting by the body of his old friend. The moonlight shone on a second corpse. The corpse of a soldier. A surge of reprieve washed over him. A gentle cry from the platform above where the soldier had fallen alerted him once again as he rushed up the stairs to find his daughter.

Kai lay over Arno. Her body shaking as she sobbed quietly, still suppressed by fear. Her warm tears fell upon Arno, who lay still, his chest heaving upwards on every draw of breath. Wet blood dampened his fur. Papa sat down beside Kai and held her close. Arno took his final breath.

 

Shammy


© Copyright 2017 Shammy. All rights reserved.

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