A Nebulous Retreat

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
This piece was written for a Booksie contest that was conducted by Violet Moon. It entails the lives of two German citizens during the end of World War II, who are now being forced to retreat from the unrelenting pursuit of the American army.

Submitted: October 17, 2009

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Submitted: October 17, 2009

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“Hurry Cacilia,” I turned and whispered harshly, “We haven’t much time my dear, they are not far from here now,” I paused to catch my breath, “And when they find us, they will surely kill us.” It was unbelievable how quickly our sweet luck turned sour. The fact that it was storming greater than I’d ever seen in Berlin didn’t help the case. “Maybe – maybe they’ll spare us if we tell them we were only following orders?” She interjected. “Daerik, I’m scared.” I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I was scared too. I had to be strong for her. “We’re war criminals Cacilia,” my grip tightened on her wrist, “Do you know what they do to war criminals in America?” She and I both knew it was a rhetorical question. Before she could provide me with a viable answer I tugged her in my direction, leaving the protection of our 1920 red Mercedes. The rain drenched us almost instantaneously.

I knew very well that taking the main roads in and out of Berlin would be suicide, an option I’d been considering the moment Hitler’s death and similarly, Germany’s downfall was announced throughout the airwaves of our glorious nation. “It is the end for us,” the frightened radio announcer spit, “And Hitler is to blame!” At the time of the announcement – being a Berlin issued member of the Gestapo – I was standing post at the border. After the announcement hit, it didn’t take long before chaos struck like a thunder bolt painted in the ol’ red and white stripes. Needless to say, I fled immediately and located my beautiful wife, because it was very true what she had said earlier; we were just following orders from the high chain of command. It was very difficult to make a comfortable living without the luxury of being a member of the Gestapo. Like any decent human being, I wanted the best for my family. I didn’t know it would condemn us to death at the hands of the Yanks.

“Are you listening to me?” Cacilia asked with a hint of desperation, tugging at my arm and releasing me from my reverie. “What now? Where are we supposed to go?” I looked her in the eyes. Those murky pools of blue had long lost their brilliant shimmer. They were now deeply inset, accented with dark halos from the years of neglect she’s suffered on my part, and now this. It wasn’t enough that I had to be away from home so often. I had to endanger our lives by becoming a war criminal, too. “Daerik!” she spit. “What’s the matter with you?” Once again, I was caught daydreaming. “Let me think!” I snapped, taking both of her hands into mine, allowing my fingers to weave on to hers. I looked her in the eyes once again, but this time with sincerity. Her naturally rosy cheeks deepened in color when I did. It had been a long time since we were at all intimate. Her curly bob of auburn hair was matted down by the rain, giving her a sort of boyish appearance. “There’s nowhere else for us to go, at least by vehicle. We need to continue on foot into the forest. There must be some place we can hide –anywhere – as long as we elude them,” I whispered gravely, my face solemn, “But if they find us, you have to promise me one thing.” I could feel her hands tense. “What is it, Daerik?” She asked. “I’ll do anything you ask of me.” I was almost afraid of that. “Simple,” I said. “If they find us,” I reached into my pocket to retrieve my Luger P08 pistol, “Shoot me, and then you. If they capture us alive they will torture us, and we will soon enough wish for death.” At this, she gasped. I slipped the Luger into her hands and with it, a magazine clip. She placed the magazine clip into the left pocket of her checkered long coat. She placed the Luger in the other.

She nodded in my direction, and without a word, I knew that she understood. “Let’s go.” I took Cacilia by the hand and led her away from the Mercedes, and into the dark, unwelcoming forest ahead of us. To my delight, much of the rain was being diffused by the massive trees that inhabited the forest, all the while sheltering us from the harsh, biting winds that accompanied the storm. The flashes of thunder were our only dependable source of light as we struggled through the enveloping darkness. From behind us, the chug-a-lug of enemy vehicles became apparent. It wouldn’t be long before they caught up. “We’ve got to hurry!” I cried, tightening my grip around her wrist as I paced faster and faster, until we were full-blown running. Cacilia nearly stumbled over a tree stump in the process – something we could not afford at this point, as the deep, earthly thump of footsteps, much like a galloping horse or a wayward elephant, came into focus. The only reason I was being pursued so fanatically was because of my status as member of the Gestapo, and believe me, that made a world of difference. It occurred to me that there were at least two dozen American soldiers pursuing us, with attack dogs nonetheless. The ravenous, guttural baying of those man-made killing machines made it painstakingly apparent. “Look,” Cacilia thrust her finger in the direction we were running, “An opening!” She was right. Such an observation didn’t necessitate a reply.

We burst through what was left of the forest, revealing before us a clearing that consisted of a multitude of waterfalls, all of which converged into a single vein. The water made its journey down an expanse of rocky terrain, and surrounding it was a mixture of mossy boulders, richly green grass, and surprisingly enough, very few trees. However, the most fascinating detail I immediately noticed was the rampart that was carved into the face of a cliff. I knew immediately where we would take our last stand, if there was going to be one. “Listen Cacilia,” I started, “If we’re going to make it out of this alive, we need to make it into that hole over there.” I quickly pointed it out to her, and she didn’t have any qualms with my decision, not that there was any time for debate. So hand-in-hand we went, scaling the slippery expanse of terrain that openly challenged us, and even though there were almost a few catastrophic slip-ups, desperation allowed us to persevere relatively unharmed. Upon reaching the mouth of the rampart, I could tell there was something eerie about it. The entrance gave off a weak, mossy glow, though I assume Cacilia didn’t take notice, as she was already pulling at my forearm with notable vigor.

So we made our entry as hastily as possible, and while I was relieved to see it was completely abandoned, its contents had me at an utter loss for words. The rampart itself was remarkably small, and to make matters worse it was completely empty, but its back wall was especially peculiar. In fact, there was no back wall. Instead, from floor to ceiling there was a rippling slab of nothingness, tinted moss-green, humming quietly as though it possessed supernatural qualities. “What – what in God’s name is that?” I stuttered, trying to make sense of the phenomenon before us. Apparently Cacilia didn’t know the answer either, because she just stood there, mouth agape and eyes wide as satellite dishes. “What should we do now?” She hesitantly replied. That was the million dollar question. I quickly whipped around at the approaching sound of shouting men, instinctively drawing my Walther P-38. Backing up towards the rippling mass of nothingness with Cacilia at my side, I pointed my Walther towards the entrance of the rampart, and like clockwork, American soldiers flooded the entrance, swarming with machine guns and attack dogs. It didn’t take a regular J. Robert Oppenheimer to tell that we were vastly outnumbered and outgunned. “Shit!” I cursed under my breath. The American soldier leading the platoon screamed loudly in a language I couldn’t understand, presumably English, the language barrier proving horrendous. He screamed again, this time jutting his bayonet at us threateningly. I took one glance over my shoulder, once again wondering about the jiggling barrier of nothingness that would pay witness to our deaths. I cursed again, and as a man about to face his death would often do, I let my mind wander towards the improbable. I once again grabbed Cacilia by the wrist and pulled her towards the wall with me, and to my astonishment, it began to swallow us whole. Half of our bodies were hidden from the confused platoon of American soldiers, and just as they were about to open fire and command their attack dogs to rip us to shreds, we took the next step and submerged ourselves completely. Upon doing so, my eyesight completely vanished as though something disconnected the wiring in my brain, and to make matters worse, I couldn’t breathe. I felt Cacilia’s hand slipping from mine, and before I could scream in protest, everything went blank.

The gelatinous mass completely sucked the life out of us.

A barrage of unfamiliar sounds stirred me from sleep. My eyes fluttered open, and immediately shut again at an unknown source of blinding light, which sent a shock in my brain that only worsened my already pounding headache. I went to sit up, but I couldn’t. I’d been strapped down from head-to-toe, on what I assumed to be a bed of some sort. It immediately occurred to me that the Yanks had captured us, and that the gelatinous wall had been a technological trap they set. “You’re only half-right,” a voice pierced my thoughts, one that was not mine. “Please don’t struggle, Daerik.” I writhed in protest to the mysterious voice in my head. “Now now, you’re making this difficult.” I opened my eyes again, but this time I fought against the intrusive light. It threatened to burn the retinas right out of my eye sockets. To my relief, the light dimmed to a more tolerable level, as though my will made it happen. “Hum… how’s that?” The voice asked. “My sincerest apologies, Daerik. I sometimes forget about how delicate the human body is.” Whoever my captors were, they definitely weren’t the Yanks.

I went to speak aloud, but I couldn’t move my lips. My entire body felt numb, now that I mentioned it. My captors had drugged me, of course. “Quite the contrary,” the voice interjected. “I had to disconnect your nervous system from your brain, or you’d be unconscious again. I know this, because the human body cannot withstand the kind of pain you would feel otherwise.” My heart nearly missed a beat. So I lifted my head enough get an idea of my whereabouts – the restraints wouldn’t allow any further lenience. “Careful, Daerik. You should lie down and relax. You may not like what you see.” He was right. The figure looming at the foot of the chrome bed I’d been affixed to was incomprehensible to the human mind. It had a face like the tendrils of a slimy octopus, the eyes of a purring kitty-cat, and a body that closely resembled a muscular human’s, except scaly and green. Next to him was a device that appeared to be a clothes rack, but through observation, it served an entirely different purpose. A mass of drippy appendages had been slung over its tarnished, chrome exterior, the syrupy substance pooling into a container beneath it. I would have screamed if I could. “What did I tell you, Daerik?” The voice sounded stern, like a father scolding his ill-behaved child. “It would be a great shame if you were to enter cardiac arrest this far into the experiment. Isn’t that right, students?” The voice continued. “And to answer your question, those don’t belong to you.” I sighed with relief. “That mess belongs to your wife. She entered cardiac arrest before we could even split her open. Nonetheless, she still served as an excellent lesson.” Every curse word I could think of welled up in my head simultaneously. Tears escaped the corners of my eyes and rolled down my cheeks. I thought it was a great injustice that my captors could numb me of all physical pain, but nothing could prepare me for the emotional bludgeoning I inevitably suffered. “Impressive. I was unaware that your tear ducts could function without the biological push of your nervous system.”

It seemed the voice was completely impartial to my anger. “What is it you human beings believe in, again?” The voice playfully asked. “God, was it? The big eye in the sky?” It looked as though it was smirking at me, if you could call it a smirk. “The final resting place of all sentient beings, correct? Worry not – you will soon be reunited with her ‘spirit,’ if this is indeed the profound truth of the Universe.” The voice was evidently mocking me. “But I digress. Class is almost out of session, so we must soon begin. Enjoy the presentation while you can, human – it won’t be long before your grip on consciousness subsides.” With that, the strange creature turned its back on me. It let out a series of slurps and grunts to a room inhabited by beings I could not see – not because they were invisible, but because my view was completely blocked – and there was some more slurping and grunting in response. I began to full-blown cry, retreating into sobbing fits. I cried for my rotten luck. I cried for life’s many inequities. I cried for my mother and father. Above all, I cried for Cacilia, my wife, who was perhaps the greatest victim of all. Perhaps I would see her again in the great beyond. I sincerely doubted it, because I’d been an Atheist my whole life.

And now, the many unearthly figures began to surround me, each of them a strikingly different colour and size. They were equipped with sharp, threatening instruments that looked to me like scalpels. As they tore through my flesh and created various entry points, I could feel no pain, and this I was thankful for. One of them began to remove what appeared to be my small intestine, pulling it out as though it were the infinite handkerchief magic trick I remembered from my childhood. Another cracked open my chest with a device that bore a striking resemblance to the Jaws of Life, and from that point the whole operation became incredibly messy. The seemingly infinite supply of small intestine finally ended, becoming a heap on the expanse between my legs, and my vision began to blur as I could hear the stuttering of a buzz-saw behind me. My body rattled as it ripped through my skull with frightening ease, and the last thing I saw was my scalp rolling to the floor, before my vision blackened for good. Before my consciousness faded into obscurity, I thought I heard the voice say, “My my, what an unhealthy liver this specimen has. It appears small and discoloured by alcohol abuse!”



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