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If Hitler Had a Son
Author's note: I love WWII. I got the idea after having a nightmare. I dreamed that the Nazis (with the help of my 9th grade Social Studies teacher) took over our middle school.
Blood oozed from the hole in his chest in waves as she cradled his head in her arms. This wasn't supposed to happen. He wasn't supposed to die, but that was inevitable; he had been shot in the lung. “What a way to die,” he rasped. She stroked his short blond head.
“Hush, darling,” she whispered. “Save your strength.” Their eyes met and for a moment, for only a moment before he stared off into the distance. With his last breath, blood poured out of the corners of his mouth. A tear fell from her eye and onto his forehead, shining in the dismal light. A shadow loomed over them as a man approached them up from behind.
“Who did it?” he asked as rage consumed him.
“He did,” she replied, shakily pointing a finger at a smirking SS soldier. The sound of a bullet rang through the air, followed by the sound of footsteps quickly retreating into the distance... and a thud.
The train was moving fast now. There was only one way to describe it: it was long, really long.
Arthur slowly opened his eyes to be greeted by a blank, tan ceiling above. As he sat up, his eyes scanned the compartment. Through the large window he could see an open field with a grey sky above. Just what he needed to darken his mood. The walls of the compartment were made out of study wood. There were two long benches for seats. They were long enough to make a descent bed for Arthur’s scrawny six-foot frame. The floor, of course, was covered with carpet. The people who designed this train clearly had no taste, for the carpet was an ugly shade of puce.
As he ran his hand across the seat, a yawn struck him, forcing him to close his eyes. It had been a long night. He stood up, smoothing out his wrinkled shirt. Arthur made a mental note to himself not to wear nice clothes to bed. He shook his head in disbelief as he changed into a white t-shirt and a pair of jeans. He wasn’t normally that lazy. He moved closer to the door.
He opened his door and was bewildered by the mess—beer bottles strewn across the floors along with a couple of men who never made it back to their beds. The smell came at him like never before; he wanted to puke but he forced it back down. Slowly he worked his way down to the food car where the mess was at its worst.
The food car was a disaster. In fact, it was barely recognizable. The carpet was torn in several places, garbage covered the floor, the walls were smeared with the previous night’s dinner, and beer bottles of all shapes and colors were protruding from the ceiling. Arthur stared at the beer bottles for several minutes, trying to come up with a logical reason for their current location. None came to mind.
Arthur worked his way to the far corner where he could see someone sleeping. It was a young man close to his own age, with a shaved face and dirty pants. There were rough edges on his shirt where sleeves were supposed to be and blood all over the front. Arthur followed the path of the blood up the man’s torso all the way to his nose, which was swollen and blue. He gently shook him, attempting to wake him up. “Heh, dude,” Arthur shook some more. “Wake up, man. Are you ok?’
“Huh?” the guy mumbled, oblivious to what was going on, but as he came to, he became outraged. “What the heck did you do to me?” he screamed at Arthur. Then he winced as he felt his nose. “What the heck did you do to me?”
Arthur was in the wrong place at the wrong time. “I didn’t do anything. You’re just a little drunk. Shall I help you up?”
“If you didn’t do it, explain this!” he yelled, pointing at his face. When Arthur didn’t reply he said, “I thought so. You’re going to pay for this!”
Arthur tried to reason with him: “I-I-I I have nothing to do with this. What makes you think I did this? When do you think I did it?”
This only made the situation worse. As the man stood up, Arthur was finally able to see what he was dealing with: at least 210 pounds of muscle and fat towering over him at 6’5”. The guy weighed at least fifty pounds more than Arthur. “Who do you take me for? A fool? I know you were at that party last night you puny little shrimp!”
Everything fell into place: the beer bottles all over the floor (and the ones dangling from the ceiling), the men who were asleep in the corridors, and the man’s bloody nose. “Look, I never went to that party! I didn’t even know there was a party! I was sleeping!!”
The other guy just wouldn’t buy it. “Excuses, excuses, excuses. Of course you’d want me to believe that you didn’t go! As I said, you’re going to pay!”
He didn’t believe anything bad would happen, but he wasn’t taking any chances. He flew across the room and into the corridor, but he wasn’t too far ahead. In fact, Arthur could feel his opponent’s breath on his back. He darted into the closest compartment, barely locking the door before it began to shake violently.
“Open the door!” the man screamed. “You will pay for what you did to me! You will pay!” Arthur believed him. Why not? The man was drunk!
The door continued to shake. Arthur cowered in the far corner, not daring to move in hopes that he would be forgotten. The door stopped shaking, and for a moment, it seemed, that Arthur had indeed been forgotten. Unfortunately, that was not the case. His heart was throbbing in his chest as he watched the lock slowly turn. His eyes widened and his breathing almost stopped completely.
The door slammed open, a grin stretched across the drunken man’s face. “Heh heh heh. Heh heh heh. I’ve got you now.” He stumbled forward, an object in his hand. Arthur couldn’t tell what it was but it didn’t matter. He saw a flash and all went dark.
Arthur floated in and out of consciousness as if in a dream. He could even almost see her, his mother. Her face radiated with a golden light. Then it all came back to him and her face turned gray. It was a flashback of a moment just a couple weeks ago.
It was a clear summer day and only a couple days until August. They were in the backyard; Arthur was standing and his mom was in the hammock. A gentle breeze rustled the leaves and made the temperature tolerable at a nice 75 degrees. The bees landed on the flowers, pollinating and collecting nectar. Arthur and his mom had been fighting.
“You will not be going on that field trip! I have said it a million times and I will say it again! You will not be going! That is the end of it!” She always looked pretty when she was yelling at him. Her long, blond hair fell down to her waist and it waved in the wind. When the sun shone through, her hair turned to gold. It didn’t help that her skin was as lovely as could be, and Arthur was honored to have such a beautiful mom. He really loved her as a son should love his mom, but that doesn’t stop the fighting.
“But, Mother,” He always called her Mother when he was trying to get his way. “You can’t expect me to bail out now. Everyone is depending on me to show up!”
“Tough luck honey. You’ll just have to tell them you can’t go. You will not be going!”
Turning his back to her, he muttered, “Fine. Not that it’s going to matter anyway. I just wanted to do one more thing before I left.”
“What did you just say? Not that it’s going to matter anyway. What do you mean? What are you planning?” she screamed. It was at times like this where you could really hear her German accent come out. Arthur didn’t reply. He only dropped his head down in shame. “Answer me!” she exploded. Her face was red and her eyes were bulging.
“Well,” he said scanning the scene. “Do you really want to know?” he asked, glancing up. She frowned. “Mom… I’m leaving.”
“What?” she shrieked. “Where are you going? You’re my baby! You CAN’T leave!”
“I’ve joined the army Mom. I’m leaving in a week.” Her expression went blank. “I have to Mom and you can’t stop me! They bombed Pearl Harbor only last December. For all we know, we could be next.”
Then she collapsed and broke down into tears. Her cries could be heard from miles away, at least that’s what Arthur thought. She beckoned him to come to her. He didn’t move. “Baby, baby, baby. You can’t go. You’re only seventeen. You’re not ready for the world. Someday but not yet.”
“I don’t care what you think!” he screamed back at her. “I’m going! I lied about my age, ok. YOU CAN’T STOP ME!” He even through up his fists for emphasis.
“I see,” She was still distraught. “Go to your room!” she exclaimed, her accent kicking in yet again. Arthur turned to leave. “Wait,” she said. “What does your father think?” She didn’t have to ask, for she already knew the answer. “He doesn’t know. Does he?” Arthur didn’t know the real reason why his mom didn’t want him to join the army. He would never know.
The rest of that week, they spent apart. They didn’t speak. They didn’t even go into the same room. The night before he had to leave, Arthur packed his duffle bag. He didn’t pack much, just a few pairs of pants, shirts, and whatever else he thought he would need.
Finally, it came time to leave. Arthur and his mom stood in front of the house. His dad was at work and had no idea that he would never see his son again. Arthur’s mom stood in front of him crying, so he grabbed her hands to comfort her. She pulled away and turned her back to him. His head drooped, for he was terrified to say good-bye.
He also wondered how she would survive without him. It was only because of him the daily harassment of his mother had stopped. It would surely continue once he left. The young men of the town loved to torment his mother who was German. They wanted her gone. It was only a wonder why they didn’t pick on him too. It was probably because he learned at a young age to speak with an American accent.
“Mother,” he said, grabbing her hands once more. “I love you. I’ll miss you.” She turned away yet again. She was distraught, even more than before. There was something she wasn’t telling him.
“Mother, what’s wrong? Are you afraid I’ll die? I won’t die. I promise.”
“You’re too young!” she shrieked, facing him. “You don’t know what you’re getting yourself into!”
“Like you do?” he screamed right back at her. “You don’t know any more than I do.”
“Arthur,” she said, leaning against the house. “I’m feeling faint. Get me a chair. Now! Do as I bade you.” He obeyed, bringing her a garden chair and helped her to the seat. “I know more than you think. It’s a dangerous world out there!”
“Good bye Mother. I love you.” He gave her a peck on the cheek and left, walking down the road, never looking back. The words hung heavy on his heart.
Arthur awoke to find himself on the bottom bunk of one of the green bunk beds with a white pillow beneath his head. There many other beds just like his in the sleeping quarters but there were only two in this particular car, only one of which was not occupied. Seeing this Arthur thought, I’ll kill myself if that drunkard maniac sleeps here.
Above his head, Arthur could hear someone singing a familiar tune, though he could not put his finger on what song it was. He rustled beneath his sheets. Out of nowhere, a head popped upside down saying, “Howdy!” Arthur nearly leapt out of bed.
“Geez,” Arthur whined. “You nearly gave me a heart attack! I don’t need to die twice!”
“Many pardons my good sir. My name is Davis. What’s yours?”
“Howdy, I guess. My name is Arthur.” He threw off his covers and climbed out of bed, only to find himself on the floor staring at the ceiling.
“Whoa partner. It’s best you not try to do nothin’ yet. You ain’t ready.” He held out his hand to help Arthur up.
Arthur plopped onto his bed and collapsed, overcome by a sudden wave of nausea. “What happened? I’m so confused.”
“I thought you’d be. Well, what happened was this. That good-for-nothing Ryan fellow done hit you with a beer bottle, knocked you out and was beating you up and stuff. I heard he cut you with a knife too.” As he explained what happened, Davis was waving his hands about trying to act it out. To Arthur, it was just a blur of hand motions.
“What? Who? Who is this Ryan you’re talking about? A beer bottle? A knife? How long was I out?” He proceeded to ask more questions but Davis stopped him, holding up his hand.
“Questions, questions, questions. I didn’t know someone who just woke up from a beating would ask so many questions. You know what? I kinda like you. You kinda feisty. What do you say? Friends?”
“Sure, sure, whatever. But what happened? Who is this Ryan you’re talking about? A beer bottle, a knife? How long was I out?”
“Ok! Hold your horses! I was gettin’ to it. Anyway, Ryan is that guy you found with a bloody nose. You know… the drunk guy? He thinks he’s so fine!” Davis imitated Ryan strutting about the train. “So… after he knocks you out with that beer bottle, he begins slapping you silly. Must’ve been nice not to be awake to feel the pain.” He paused and stared off into the distance. “Then he gets out his knife and stabs you, at least he tries to, but that’s where I come in. I heard all the commotion and went to see what was happening. When I saw what was a goin’ on, I pull him off you and yell for help and help comes. After that, we move you to a bed so as not to have you fall and hurt yourself while you sleep. That’s it.” After finally finishing his story, Davis sits back in his chair and sighs as if he was the one lying in bed all beat up.
“Yes, yes, I get that. How long was I out?’
“Man, do you not care that you just got beat up? Well… it happened Tuesday and today’s Thursday, so I would say almost two days.”
Arthur sat there amazed. Two days he had been asleep. Two days! Then it hit him. What if he was not well enough to get off the train? What if they sent him back home? Arthur’s eyes widened.
His new companion saw the worried look on his face and asked, “Afraid they won’t let you train? That they’re gonna send you back blubberin’ like a baby to your mom?” Arthur gave a quick nod and Davis continued. “”Don’t worry. You’ll be just fine. Who knows… they might not make you train or else very little.
He gave Davis a queer look, his eyebrows raised. “You pulling my leg Davis? What do you mean I might not have to train? Then how will I be ready for war? They won’t do anything with me!”
With a chuckle Davis clutched his belly and replied: “Oh, my friend. You have a lot to learn. Didn’ your daddy explain it to you?”
“No, he didn’t.”
Ashamed, Arthur replied, “I didn’t tell him.” He yearned to tell the rest but they caught in his throat causing him to choke up and cry. The salty drops of water flowed down his face and over the numerous cuts and sores that covered his face. He winced as he felt their sting.
“Hey, that’s nothing to be ashamed of.” Davis leaned forward in his seat. “You were probably just afraid. You never know how some dads will react.”
“That’s not the problem.” Arthur said in an almost inaudible whisper.
“You didn’t kill him,” Davis paused, “did you?” He was half joking, half serious.
“Are you mad?” Arthur accused. “Take a look at me.” Davis looked at Arthur. “Do I really look like the Devil?”
“Let me think about that for a minute.” Davis jokingly replied. “The Devil? Not quite. Hitler? Yes.” A grin spread across his face.
“You most certainly must be mad!” He was outraged now. “I look nothing like Hitler! That man is the Devil!” Arthur shouted, preparing to stand up.
“What did I tell you about getting out of bed?” Davis inquired. “And not so loud. The whole train will hear us!” He said in a loud whisper.
“Tell me I don’t look like Hitler!”
“But you do!” Davis argued. “You have his eyes and now that I think about it, you have his nose and mouth too.”
“Stop mocking me!”
“I’m not! You really do look like him.”
There was a pause. Neither of them spoke for several minutes until Arthur broke the silence. “Davis, where are you from? You have a bit of an accent, at least compared to the way I speak.”
“Me? Well, me, I’m from Oregon. Yes-siree! That’s the place to be. How I miss my home.”
“Oregon? Really? You don’t sound like you’re from Oregon. I live up in Washington, but I have a cousin who lives in Oregon.”
“Oh. I’m the only one in the family to talk like this. The rest of them think I’m weird.”
“Really? Well… I like it,” Arthur said, hoping it would cheer up his new companion. Davis looked up and smiled and then his gaze fell to his watch.
“Yowzers! Look at the time! We best be gettin’ to lunch,” he exclaims, looking at Arthur. “Oops. I forgot. Would you like me to bring you something?”
“Sure,” Arthur replied, trying his best not to sound depressed. Davis catches the hint anyway.
“I’ll only be gone for a little bit. We can talk more when I bring you lunch.” Then he turns to leave for lunch. When Arthur thinks he’s gone, he hops out of bed, but seconds later, Davis’s head pops back into the room, forcing Arthur to quickly hop back into bed. “And don’t forget… STAY IN BED!” With those last few words, Davis finally leaves.
When he was absolutely sure that Davis had left, Arthur slowly got back out of bed. Now that he was alone, he had time to observe his surroundings. As it turned out, he was in a small car at the end of the train. There were only three beds: one was his, one belonged to Davis, but who did the last one belong to, if it belonged to anyone at all? Above each bed was a sturdy, wood shelf. Arthur saw things packed on the shelf above the mystery bed, so he came to a conclusion that there was an inhabitant of the mystery bed. On the far side o the car was a window, right about eye level, and through it he could see the land quickly moving behind them.
Upon conclusion of his observations, Arthur hopped lazily back into bed and just stared at ceiling, waiting for Davis to come back with a bite to eat. He dozed off and was overcome yet again by another flashback.
A strange man stood over him, examining him closely. His mother stood nearby. Arthur gazed up and asked in an innocent voice, “Where are we Mutter?”
“We are in Germany young man,” the stranger replied. The stranger had dark hair and was kind of short. Arthur smile back as well as any five year old could. “Stand up. I must have a proper look at you.”
Arthur eagerly obeyed. The stranger circled, looking intently at Arthur’s physical features, particularly his size. “Has he always been this small?” the stranger asked his mom.
“Ja, I’m afraid so.”
“What’s your name?” Arthur quietly asked.
“My name is of no importance. As for you, what is your name?”
“Peter. His name is Peter,” his mom said, fear in her eyes. Arthur was confused; his name wasn’t Peter. It was Arthur.
“Mutter, my name’s not—” Before he could finish, his mom interrupted.
“Hush darling.” Her eyes were really wide now.
“How dare you lie to me! What is his name?” the stranger shouted. This took Arthur by surprise. He did not know grown-ups could get so angry. “What is the boy’s name?”
“Arthur,” she meekly replied, “his name is Arthur.”
What happened next would be forever engraved in the five-year-old’s mind. The stranger walked up to Arthur’s mom and struck her. The blow knocked her to the floor. Helpless to do anything, Arthur was forced to watch as the stranger proceeded to beat his mom. He froze in horror. The stranger kicked his mom several times in the stomach and she gasped in pain, trying to hold back the tears so Arthur wouldn't see her pain, but he could see it anyway. He could see it in the way her eyebrows furrowed deeper and deeper into her pale face.
“No!” Arthur screamed as he lurched up in bed in a cold sweat. He blinked once and then blinked again, confused as to where he was, what he was doing in a bed. Arthur took a deep breath and when he released it, he discovered he was not alone.
“Are you ok? a new voice asked. “You scared the crap out of me, thrashing in your bed. My name’s Jacob.” He held out his hand to Arthur and chuckled. Arthur instantly snapped out of his dream. He was no longer five years old, watching some stranger beat up his mom. He was seventeen years old, staring at yet another new face. Jacob’s face was like a long oval with a long nose. Blue eyes hid beneath brown hair and he sported a small beard beneath wide, skinny lips. It appeared to be a friendly face.
“Yeah, I’m fine.” He shook Jacob’s hand. So this was the other inhabitant of this car. “My name is Arthur.” He was clearly shaken up by the memory.
“Are you sure you’re ok? You look awful. Are you afraid of Ryan? I heard what happened.”
“I’m fine. Just a bad dream,” Arthur replied, trying to shake it off but was obviously unsuccessful.
For a while they just stared at each other, not bothering to speak. It was said a picture is worth a thousand words, but what about a look? Looks could say everything or nothing at all. Some said, “I hate your guts!” while others said, “I’m bored.” It was a way to speak your mind without having to say anything at all. Jacob wore a said face, an eyebrow raised, not quite sure about the message he wanted to send. It kind of looked like he was trying to say sorry. Arthur’s expression said nothing. His eyes were simply half opened and he looked like he was going to crash.
There was no chance for that because at that precise moment, Davis came bouncing into the room, a tray of food in his hands. “Howdy Arthur! I see you’ve met Jacob. I brought you some food just like I promised.”
Arthur had forgotten just how hungry he was, but that changed the minute he smelled food. “Thanks Davis,” Arthur said as he reached for the tray, which conveniently happened to be just out of reach. “Damn it, Davis! Am I not allowed to have food either?”
“No, it isn’t that. I just thought you might like a table first.”
“Did they not teach you logic when you were in school? A starving man cares not about formalities, for his only objective is to fill his aching stomach. I am that starving man!” Arthur angrily remarked.
“You’re a laugh, Arthur.” He hands Arthur the tray, which is covered with a gourmet hamburger, fries, and a glass of ice-cold milk. “Did they not also say that you shouldn’t bite the hand that feeds you?”
“Shall I bite your hand? I have my food now so it would make little difference to me. There’s more than one hand that could feed me. You alone have two hands. Do you not?”
“Yes I do have two hands. What are you getting at?”
“How many people do you see not counting me?”
“Are you suggesting Jacob would get your food? That shrimp? You need someone that can actually reach the table.”
“I would too get his food!” Jacob interjects, standing up at full height, which was only about 5’5”. “In fact… I’ll get him diner tonight! You best watch out. This shrimp is feisty. You don’t know who you’re dealing with!”
“How dare you! Do you not see the shark in me? Snap! You have become my meal,” Davis replies, a smile on his face.
“Arthur, you be the judge. Do sharks eat shrimp?” Jacob asks, eager to prove Davis wrong.
Arthur said nothing, heard nothing. He was too busy scarping down his food.
Cold and frightened, Björn sat alone in a corner watching a man, woman, and boy a couple years younger than himself. Both the women and child looked frightened.
The man was standing over the boy, a frown spread across his face. He was greatly displeased. The young boy looked bored, ready to go home. He gazed up at his mother, confused. “Where are we, Mutter?” he whined. “I want to go home!”
The room felt cramped with three people in the middle while another hid silently in the corner, sometimes holding his breath to make so he wouldn't make a sound. There were several old chairs and a bookshelf in the corner where Björn was hiding, but most of the space was occupied by a large Victorian desk.
“We are in Germany young man,” the man replied, taking a couple steps back. “Stand up. I must have a proper look at you.” The young boy did as he was asked.
Björn was losing interest in their conversation. His eyes were fluttering, just about to close when he was startled awake by someone shouting. It was the man. “How dare you lie to me!What is his name? What is the boy's name?”
“Arthur,” she meekly replied. “His name is Arthur.”
The man walked up to Arthur’s mom and struck her. The blow knocked her to the floor. Helpless to do anything, Arthur stepped back as he was forced to watch as the stranger proceeded to beat his mom. He froze in horror. Björn felt pity for him, but there was nothing he could do, so he just sat there, safely hidden in his little corner and waited.
Finally, the man stopped and allowed the mother and Arthur to leave. Björn looked up as they walked by. Arthur’s mom caught his eye. Her face was all bloody and her clothes were torn. For a moment, he feared she would give him away, but she did not. It didn’t matter anyway.
“Dummer junge, you stupid boy! Get up, out of that corner.” the man snapped as soon as the others were out of the room.
“Me?” Björn asked in surprise as he obeyed.
“Yes, you. Explain yourself! I would have dealt with you earlier if I didn’t have business to attend to.” His icy blue eyes bore into Björn, waiting for a reply.
“What happened to that poor lady?” Björn asked timidly. “She looked so nice. Did she do something wrong?”
The man just stared at him. “Did she do something wrong? Yes, you stupid boy. She did something wrong! She lied to me and she got her just punishment. Liars are not to be tolerated. You hear?”
“Yes, sir.” Björn mumbled, staring at his dirty shoes.
“Now tell me. Why are you here?” the man said, repeating his previous question, a look of content on his face. He stroked his mustache as he waited for Björn to speak. “Come on now. I don't have all day.”
“Well,” said Björn, “My parents need to meet someone here and they said I could look around.” His voice began to falter. “I got lost.” He dropped his head again.
“I see, but why did you come? Why didn't your parents just leave you at home with a baby sitter?”
“It’s my birthday. We are going out to dinner after their meeting. I turned seven.” Björn replied, holding up seven skinny fingers on his hands.
“In that case, I’ll let you go. Don’t let me catch you in here again. Got that?” the strange man asked, lifting up his eyebrows. Björn was sure he even winked.
“Yes, sir.” Björn started to leave but stopped in mid step. He forgot he was lost. “Excuse me kind sir, I would most gladly leave but I’m lost and don’t know where my parents are. Could you help me please?”
“Sorry my boy, but I cannot. I’m too busy as I have more business to attend to. Go out into the hall, turn right, and find door number three on the left hand side. Ask for Herr Drei. He’ll help you.” The man than proceeded to sit at his desk to rifle through papers. When he looked up he found a nervous seven-year-old still standing there, still waiting to be shown the way.
“Well, are all little boys in Germany incapable of following simple instructions?!”
“No, sir. I just… I just… I was just going.” Björn replied drooping his head in shame.
“Be gone then! I have work to do.”
Björn turned to face the door, took a deep breath, and pushed out into the hallway. Turning right, he counted slowly as he passed the majestic mahogany doors on the left hand side. “Eins… zwei… drei…” Upon reaching the number three, he stopped, gazing at the enormous door before him. Nine golden little letters sprawled across the door to spell out Auskunft, Information.
Lightly nudging the door, Björn stepped inside. It was not a large room. In fact it was rather short and skinny. He took a short breath closed his eyes. He could feel the walls closing in on him, but then he remembered why he was there. Björn wished to make his presence known. “Entschuldigen Sie! Herr Drei? Excuse me!” He waited and soon after, a tall, skinny man with brown eyes and spectacles came scuttling in.
“Guten Tag, Herr…”
“Knapp.” Björn added politely.
“Ahh. Young Herr Knapp. I grew up with up with your father and think most highly of him. I talk to him from time to time and he tells me you are doing well in your studies. What are you doing here?” He motioned for Björn to take a seat and sat in a chair beside him. He took that as a time to get a better sense of the room. He saw light peach walls adorned with many posters he couldn't read. He also saw that there were more doors leading to other rooms. Satisfied in his observations, he did as he was told.
Björn recounted what happened and how he some how ended up in the room across the hall and told, somewhat reluctantly, about the beating he witnessed. “Who is that man, the one in the room across the hall? He would not give his name and sent me here to find my way back.” Björn asked tentatively.
Leaning forward in his seat, Herr Drei frowned contemplating what to say. Finally, after several moments of silence, he spoke. “I do not know who that is. I wish I could tell you, but I should really get you back to your parents.” Herr Drei looked worried. Did he really know who that man was? Was he reluctant to tell Björn for fear he would say something? Björn knew those questions would never be answered, at least for awhile.
“That sounds wonderful.” Björn agreed, standing up. Herr Drei stood up and led little Björn out of the room into the cold, desolate hallway. At once they set off to find his parents but to no avail. They roamed the halls for at least a good half hour before they finally found them.
They were standing in the most ironic place, right across the hall from Herr Drei's room. Their meeting had been with the strange man.
Björn ran to hug his father, but stopped halfway, confused. He couldn't understand the look his father gave him. One of hatred, rejection, and agony. Seeing this, Björn slowly inched up to him. “Father?”
Björn woke to sunshine in his eyes, trying to forget that ridiculous dream. It had been nearly twelve years to the day since he'd been there, since he had seen that boy's face. It was a face would never forget.
Kicking off his covers, he sat up in his small bed. His uniform stared him in the face. All black, it was outdated but it served it's purpose, a secret purpose. It was the uniform for a secret group with no name and no ranks, except for one: The Führer. It was a big day. The day they would get their missions.
He reached out and fingered the rough black material. He couldn't believe it was finally happening, after so many years. Why had they picked him? That was a question he had constantly asked himself since they had picked him on that cold, but cloudless day in 1933. Björn closed his eyes and allowed himself to be overcome by another memory.
There was not a single cloud in the sky as Björn followed the rest of his classmates into the school gym. It was the only place in the entire school that could hold all 723 of them. Constant noise and chatter filled the room. Björn took a seat in the middle of the crowded bleachers and looked around. He was surrounded by students, most of whom were about his age. Even though he was only eleven, he could sense the feeling of uneasiness that hung in the air. That certainly wasn't a good sign. The only times they were all gathered together like this was when the principle had bad news, very bad news.
They were right, at least a little, for after several minutes of waiting, their principle came in, followed by men in black uniforms. The principle was a man in his 50s. Already he had grey hair, but all the students thought it just made him look smarter. Clearing his throat, he began to speak. “Thank you for waiting patiently. I have an important announcement to make today, one that will likely affect some of you very much. But there is something else I must do first. If I call your name, please come down and stand next to me.” He paused before continuing.
Björn didn't pay much attention to what the principle said until he heard his own name. Stunned, he stood up and worked his way down the bleacher. “Me?” he asked when he got to the front of the gym.
“Yes, you.” replied the principle. “But excuse me. I really must finish.” He only had two names left. In all, only 12 names were called, all boys, no girls. That surprised Björn greatly. What could they have been chosen for where no girls where needed? Sports? Who knew. They would soon find out anyway.
“I'm sure you're very interested in why your names have been called. These men have come to choose, and have chosen, 12 fine young boys for their special school in Berlin. You have been chosen because you intelligence and athletic abilities far exceed many others in the area. They will train and teach you to be heroes. You will bring your country honor.”
Björn didn't like the sound of that. Leave home to move to Berlin? Leave all his friends? Start a new life? But as the principle said, he would bring his country honor.
“Herr Knapp? Herr Knapp? Wake up!” Björn blinked his eyes several times as he tried to process what was going on. He knew two things. One, he was on the floor staring at the ceiling. Two, someone was shaking him awake.
“What happened?” he asked, rubbing the back of his head.
“I get in here and you're on the floor, asleep.” The young man was not much older than Björn, yet he was treated with the respect of someone much older.
“I must of bumped my head,” he said, tenderly rubbing a lump on the back of his head. “What time is it?”
“It's ten minutes till nine.”
“Scheisse! I'm late! Leave! Now! I must get dressed.” The young man left without hesitation. He looked around. He couldn't find his uniform. Where did it go? He remembered seeing right after he had gotten out of bed this morning. Where could it have gone? Of all days to misplace his uniform, he had to choose this day. To his left was a table. It wasn't there. To his right was a bookshelf. It wasn't there either. Lastly, Björn looked by the door where the coat hanger was. It wasn't there. Standing up, he fell backwards on his bed, stretching his arms in fustration Moments later, his hands came upon a rough material. When Björn turned around, he saw his uniform folded neatly on his pillow.
After quickly changing, he stood before the mirror on his door. Everything was perfect. His uniform was clean and wrinkle free, and a sharp black swastika on his blood red armband. Yes, everything was perfect, except for his boots, for it was covered with scuffs and dirt marks. Björn made no attempt to clean them. On such an important day, who would care if his boots were a little dirty. Grabbing for the knob, he flung open the door and he was off.