He felt a tug on his sleeve, small yet commanding. He expected to turn around and find his nephew, holding up some toy or creation to show him. But of course that was impossible, his nephew was grown and on the eastern front. He wouldn’t be here of all places. In time, his children’s children’s education would speak of his uncle’s great accomplishment and he’d live in a world free from the conniving juden.
When he turned, he found himself looking down a boy not too different than Heinz when he was a child.
“Bist dou, die Führer?”
Of course he was the Führer, who did this boy think he was? He looked around, wondering how this boy had made it this close to him at all. Perhaps more perplexing was his entourage, or lack-there-of. When he looked to his flanks, he noticed his Schutzstaffel were gone. He hadn’t been alone for more than three minutes since ’33 and now in the full swing of his campaign, he naught went thirty seconds by himself.
“Ja. Ich bin dein, Führer.”
The child said nothing to him. He stared coldly up at him, grey metallic eyes made him feel uncomfortable, as if being eyed by a massive predator. He looked about again, searching for a guard or soldier to call over and pull this schwein away. But when he looked out among the fenced in, barb-wire camp, he saw no soldiers. No guard in the tower, no post at the gate. All he saw were prisoners, not of war, but of race. Imperfect.
“Wegghan,” he commanded the boy, and shooed him with his hand. But the boy did not move, he stood and kept his frozen gaze upon him. His hands were balled into tight fists, his knuckles the color of a corpse.
“Ihre Zeit ist gekommen.” The boy said with such conviction it almost made the Führer laugh. He had been commanded nothing for a decade and now a boy weighing no more than thirty pounds told him “his time had come.” He raised his hand over his shoulder and brought it swiftly down across the boy’s face. A blow that would send the boy reeling into dirt.
Yet the boy stood stoic as stone, he turned his face as he was struck, then slowly turned it back towards the Führer.
(Chamber the round)
The boy’s response was inhuman. He had the insane urge to look at his hand like a faulty tool, and would have had he not noticed his surroundings once more. Somehow he was among the barracks. But he was no longer alone. He felt the feel of an entourage, the flanking of a human body and a feeling of being watched. But it was not the Schutzstaffel. He was surrounded by thousands of bodies. Husks. Men, women and children wearing striped uniforms that hung loosely over their emaciated bodies. Eyes, the color of an overcast day or steel, set deep in their heads looked at him. Their features were sunken, visages of skin stretched over bone. Cracked lips, festering wounds, bleeding sores and broken bodies: their ailments were numerous and taxing to look upon.
(The Bite of Cyanide)
“Arbeit macht frei.” They said at once, in unison, sending a zipper up his spine. He backed away from the surrounding group, only to be stopped by boney, cold hands. He turned and found more of the same. A body free from the weight of a skull stood before him. Another’s eyes had melted, streamed down a charred face like a leaky sink.
(Squeeze the trigger)
“Arbeit macht frei.” They said again, closing the circle around him. His heart quickened as the breathless shcwein moved towards him. Their chant as lifeless as their bodies. The Führer turned and turned, looking for an officer to command, a weapon to wield.
“Hilfe!” He pleaded, but for once his voice fell on deaf ears. His tool, his weapon for destruction, was useless here. None could hear the cries or commands, as there were none alive to abide.
“Arbeit macht frei.”
He felt the coldness of icicles on his shoulders, fingers found his face and limbs. Corpses from his life grasped him and took hold. He felt his heart racing, his eyes were wide with fear and anguish.
Hilfe! He wanted to cry, but could not. He felt dead fingers wrap themselves around his throat then pierce through his back, his arms and legs like tiny knives. A pain took hold in his heart so fierce he felt it might explode. The Führer felt everything. The husks surrounded him, all the while reciting their dead chant.
Arbeit macht frei.