The Chase

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His breath came out in ragged gasps. All he could hear was the blood pounding in his ears and his feet pounding the pavement as he ran. He stopped for a moment and frantically peered through his blonde sweat soaked hair at the alleyway he had run into. The boy’s legs burned from running for so long. Every cell in his body was screaming for him to stop and sit down, and for a moment he considered it. Then he heard the sirens again. He didn’t want to acknowledge it, but the boy knew it was the Raubtiere. Still in the distance, but growing closer during his brief respite.
The exhausted boy summoned the little strength he had left and began running again, fueled by pure adrenaline, like an animal fleeing from a predator. As he sprinted down the pavement the cut on his arm throbbed more and more with every step. The blood had seeped through the fabric of his white school uniform, making it look even more tattered.
He had grown up in this city, and played in these alleyways his entire life. Hours of playing tag with his friends paid off as he let his instincts take over and carry him farther away from his pursuers. As the boy ran he let his mind wander back to the events that led to this chase.


•••

The boy’s name is Tim, and the entire world had gone to s***. The year was 1952, and World War II was still going strong. The lines had been drawn, and there were no more neutral countries. Everyone was either with you or against you. Roosevelt and the United States were the unofficial head of the Allied Powers. Of course, Hitler and Germany were heading up the Axis of Powers in Europe, conquering the nearby countries and enlisting their citizens into their corrupt quest for power. For the past several years the battles have been escalating to a frightening level. The Allied forces had made several attempts at peace but it was never enough for the Axis of powers in the west. They wanted it all and would take nothing less, or die trying.
Tim hated war. He hated all the death and destruction that came along with it. Now Tim wasn’t the only one who felt this way, but he was the only one who was so vocal about it. It was just common sense, in Berlin you don’t anger the government or bad things happen. He had a reputation around his high school for being somewhat of a loner. People never saw him with friends or talking to anyone. Just keeping his head down and never saying much. Then one day during class he exploded.
The teacher was spoon feeding them the usual government issued propaganda. Tim was sitting in class when it happened. He glanced around at his classmates, all of them uninterested and barely paying attention. Mr. Werner droned on, “We are the superior group, the second we end this war the United States and Allied Powers will turn to nuclear warfare to end us.” He continued his tirade, unaware that the loner in the corner desk was gripping the desk so hard that his knuckles were turning white. “Their peace treaties are a lie. Our Fuehrer knows what is best for us, and if we are chosen to pilot the suicide planes, then the Fuehrer honors us!” Tim couldn’t take anymore. His 6’2 body sprang from his desk, kicking it over in his rage. “You’re spewing garbage Werner!” He screamed in the teachers face. Tim’s piercing blue eyes met the teacher’s and he continued, “The Fuehrer doesn’t know s*** about what is best for our country, he only cares about his own selfish goals! I can’t take any more of this nonsense!” Tim stopped, and for the first time noticed the rest of the class’s reaction to his outburst. They were deathly quiet. He saw the fear in their eyes. Not for their own well being, but for his. Several years before another boy had spoken out against the Fuehrer during class. School officials said he transferred but they knew the truth. He was in prison now, or worse. The government doesn’t let people speak against them. Free speech incites rebellion, and rebellion can cause them problems.
Tim’s focus snapped back to Werner. His taught skin was pale white and stretched too tightly over his skull. His normally tidy comb over had fallen askew across his forehead, and his nostrils flared in his rage. It was barely a whisper, but the entire class heard what he said next. “Get out Tim. Now. There will be severe consequences for this.”

Then the panic set in. Tim looked in to the faces of his classmates, confirming what he already knew. They were going to come for him now. The Raubtiere were going to come for him.

•••
Tim‘s focus came back to present day, as he continued navigating the backstreets and alleyways of Berlin. He knew that other people talked of rebellion, he just had to find them and he could get some protection. The government was currently fighting with a rebellion group called the People’s Revolution. The teacher’s all talked about them in school, saying they did horrible things, but Tim had never believed it. There were whisperings that they met underneath an overpass about 7 miles north of his high school. That’s where he was heading to now. Tim thought to himself, he would never let the Raubtiere take him. To a prison or anywhere else. He had to find the rebellion.
He had come out of the back alleyways and was heading through a residential neighborhood now. All the houses looked the same. He looked down at his arm and saw it was still bleeding. He tried to go home after running from the high school, but the Raubtiere were already waiting for him, four of them standing side by side blocking his front door. They looked just like the rumors said. All black three piece suits, and white masks. They terrified him. When the loner saw them he turned and ran in fear and immediately tripped on a curb, cutting his arm on a rock as he fell. He heard them shouting to each other and begin chasing after him. Tim took off, steadily outrunning them until there was a good amount of distance. He turned his thoughts back to finding this meeting place. For the first time he noticed that the street he was running down was compltely quiet. He didn’t know why but this unsettled him. He noticed that there were no side streets for several blocks, just a long straightaway. Tim looked down at his arm again, and put pressure on it with his free hand. He noticed that both his shoe laces had become untied as he had ran, so he knelt for a moment and retied them. When he looked up again they had suddenly appeared in front of him. The Raubtiere. At least 15 of them all in a straight line. With two black vans behind them. Every thought in his brain told him to run! Tim whirled around, ready to flee and ran straight into another man. He had on a black three piece suit and a white mask. Tim’s insides went cold. He felt like everything inside of him died, all in one tiny moment. The Raubtiere agent grabbed his wrist. His hands were like steel, both strong and cold. Tim slowly looked up into the man’s eyes, knowing that he was beaten. The agent’s own eyes stared back at him through the eyeholes of the white mask. They looked almost identical to Tim’s own. But there was a key difference. The agent’s eyes did not convey any emotion. Not anger, happiness, or even triumph at catching his prey. They were just cold. Cold like Tim had always imagined the Fuehrer’s own eyes must be.

Tim had a sudden surge of strength. He wanted so badly to get away from those eyes. He struggled against the man’s steel grip and tried to pull away. But the agent didn’t budge. He heard the other agents behind him begin to close in. All stepping together, perfectly synchronized. Tim could actually hear his fate coming for him. He had been foolish to run, he made it worse on himself. He radiated fear and resignment to his fate, and the agents loved it more than anything else.

Then a miracle. Tim saw someone waving to his right in his peripheral vision. There was a bald man, crouching in the bushes. He was mouthing something. What was it? Close? Close your eyes! Tim felt hope for his situation, something he thought he would never feel again, and screwed his eyes shut, with his wrists still in the agents steel grip. He heard a loud clang, like a metal ball hitting the hard pavement. He heard a sharp intake of breath from the agent holding on to him. Then a huge explosion and Tim could tell, even through his eyelids, that there was an amazingly bright light. Brighter than anything he could imagine. He heard the Raubtiere around him screaming in agony, blinded by the light. Tim felt the agent let go of his wrists. Probably to try and cover his eyes.

Tim kept his eyes shut tight, but heard a man calling him. He walked toward the voice. A new thought racing through his mind with every step.
Am I dreaming?
Step.
How can this be real?
Step.
Am I dead?
Step.
Did they shoot me right there in the street?
Step.
I don’t care.
Step.
Anything is better than going with them.
Pause.

The voice stopped. He felt a hand take his own, and lead him forward. Whether it was leading him toward his new life, or if it was his imagination, or if he died. He didn’t know. But he went with it. Forward. Tim went forward.





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