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Shadings of Grey
Alright, I’ve done some bad things in my life. The main thing is; I didn’t realize they were wrong until it was too late and I had ended up being rightly accused of crimes against humanity. Looking back at the things that I did is sort of like looking back at one’s middle school pictures and say, “I can’t believe I looked like that thirty years ago,” in front of your teenage kids who are making fun of your funky, outdated hair cut and braces.
I remember the day when the camp I guarded was liberated like yesterday; I was afraid of getting caught so I hid like a coward. I was never the best at hiding. So I choose the most obvious hiding place in the entire camp; in the cabinets in the Kommandant’s office. I didn’t fit anywhere else, being about 6”2. Like I said, it was the most obvious place to hide so it took about twenty minutes for the US troops to find me. They broke into the room, which I had locked, and started to search. Well, it took those soldiers about two minutes to find the cabinet and open it to find me crouched down, and with this expression on my face that was sort of like, “Oh crap, I’m really screwed,”
“Alright, stand up,” the first soldier told me.
I nodded and stood up nervously, “Alright, what do you want with me,”
There were three US troops in the room and they huddled on their decision. One of them turned to me, “Well, we’ve reached to a decision,”
I sighed and readied myself to embrace whatever they had planned, “Alright, what will you do with me then,”
The second soldier there pointed a gun at my forehead, “Men like you only belong in one place—and you’ll find out very shortly where it is,”
I felt a sharp pain directed at my forehead, and then moved to brain. I couldn’t think for a moment. My brain had been shot; and if your brain is shot, then everything else just shuts down and you’re dead. I felt myself drifted downward away from my cold, icy shell of a body. The last I saw myself was me being carried away by the Allied soldiers. I heard that near death experiences were usually when you see yourself, go through a tunnel, meet a dead relative and go to a tropical paradise of some sort. They usually recall it as a positive experience. Though this didn’t feel right—usually they saw that you see yourself while you’re going upwards. Though, I was going downwards. That in it gave me a chilling feeling. Was I going to Hell? I went to church whenever I could and I had been baptized. I should’ve been forgiven for things that I did. Did I ever ask for forgiveness in a prayer?
The plunge of my soul continued until I left the Earth’s atmosphere and it accelerated until I was just surrounded by stars; far, far, away from Germany. Then, I ran into a woman sitting on a planet. She had in her arms seven scrolls and a watch on her arm. Her hair was electric blue and had bright yellow eyes. She had her hair in pigtails and the bands holding them were in the shape of crosses. She wore a beautiful and probably very expensive Victorian dress. She had a pair of wings on her back that was as graceful as it was creepy. Her ears were the oddest shape ever—they resembled sheep ears.
I stopped floating, “Who are you,”
“I am the lamb with the seven scrolls,” She answered, “What do you want,”
“Well, I’m confused. Where exactly am I going? I’m lost. Um, you don’t happen to have any directions or a map or any knowledge of where I’m heading to?” I answered.
The lamb paused, “Well, you were a Nazi guard, according to one of these scrolls, am I correct?”
I nodded, “Yes,”
“You’re going to one of the lairs of the Seven Deadly Sins for your sinful actions and refusal to confess. I’m guessing Wrath. Other than that, I’m as clueless as you are,” she answered.
“Wait…hold on,” I paused, “Are there any other suitable places for me to spend the rest of eternity? Any other vacancies at all,”
“Well, the horseman of War is getting bored. Perhaps you could be her little human to occupy her until Armageddon,”
“What…the horseman of War is a woman? How is that possible,” I asked.
“I believe we have a filled vacancy for that spot now,” the lamb smiled.
“Who,” I asked. The lamb smiled like she was going to cause some trouble.
The lamb opened the scroll slowly and carefully to unveil a swirling portal. It was multi-colored and was memorizing and basically could allure something or someone very easily into its grasp. I was confused on how that was hiding in a scroll. I began to move towards it uncontrollably. I tried to move away with all the man power I had, but to no avail. The portal was too strong. I blacked out in a matter of seconds, perhaps maybe a matter of milliseconds. The mere matter of the portal could break anything I could think of. I expected after a matter of a few minutes for there to be nothing left of my soul.
Though somehow, the leftovers of my former self survived.
I had no clue on how she meant by being the horseman of War’s “little human” to occupy her so she doesn’t get bored until Armageddon. Maybe she needs a sparring partner to practice whatever fighting skills she must have? I didn’t know. I never really found out what happened to my colleagues in the Reich once they were trialed and executed. Did they descend into the realm of the Seven Deadly Sins?
If the Horseman of war wanted someone to fight with, I wouldn’t mind that. That’s all I knew from the time I was born. I never knew how to love or care for other people. I was raised to hate and to fight by my parents and all those around me that had any sort of influence. Any sort of empathy that may have stirred in my heart from the time I was born was easily put out.
I gained whatever the ghost version of consciousness was after what seemed like hours. When I opened my eyes; I was floating in an ocean. The water wasn’t cold like the Baltic Sea. It was more like the sea around the cape of Naples. The water was so much warmer and the beaches were more like soft, Asian silk or a dream-like cloudy pillow that adjusted to your skin. It was an ocean of fresh water because my eyes didn’t burn when I opened them. I’m confused on how that’s scientifically possible; but I was a soldier, not an engineer. The sun shined from the surface. My hand was suddenly grabbed by an unknown source. I looked up to find a beautiful, delicate woman pulling me up to the surface. I was unsure at that point to see what she looked like.
Once we reached the surface, we both took a deep, long breath. The woman had deep, jade green eyes and long, bright Irish hair. She had tanned skin from the sunshine and tropical climate and a strong body type. After all, she had the strength to pull up a full-grown man. She wore a headband that was jet black. I stared around at the scenery. There was Tropical Island in the distance and it was now approaching sunrise. Other than the island, there were no planes, submarines, boats, civilizations or any land masses of any sort. I was far away from anyone except for me and this woman who rescued me—not that it would matter; I was already dead, anyway.
“Who are you,” I asked.
“My name is Kiki,” She answered, “I’m the Horseman of War,”
“Are you the only one living on the island,” I asked.
“No, I have three siblings—Gina, the Horseman of Death, Thanatos, the Horseman of Famine, and Nicothor, the Horseman of Conquest. Thanatos and Nicothor control the West half of the island and me and Gina control the east half.” Kiki answered.
“So, are there any other islands around,” I asked.
“No, there’s only this 200 square mile island in this scroll. All the rest is an ocean made up of all the tears that every human has ever cried,” Kiki answered.
“That’s weird,” I commented, “So how long have you people been living here,”
“Since the beginning of time, basically,” Kiki answered.
I heard someone call from the shore, “Kiki, I’ve got the ingredients for breakfast,”
“Coming,” Kiki turned to me and asked.
“Yea,” I nodded.
The beach was like a soft, calming spa treatment. Each grain of sand made you ten times calmer than you were before. The sound of the ocean waves crashing on the shore was like a tape made to wash away your troubles. I took off my army boots, my feet sore as heck, and began to relax. Soon, the beautiful sunrise of various pastels gave unto a bright morning sun. I felt Kiki trying to wake me up.
“Oh, hello,” I greeted, “Is this in the scroll,”
“Yep,” Gina answered, “We’ve been stuck in here for an eternity. We visit earth every so often; but only for a brief period and under assumed names,”
Gina had magenta-colored hair. She had golden-colored eyes and pale skin that made her look like a corpse. She had various tattoos and had a pair of demon wings on her back. Gina wore a skimpy, leather swimsuit and wore a hair clip that symbolized the Templar cross. She had an emotionless expression on her face. Kiki was cooking over a bonfire of some sort.
“Quesadilla,” Kiki handed me a flatbread dish with cheese.
I didn’t know it, but I was so hungry that I ate that thing up like an Indian street dog. I didn’t know how long it was before I last ate anything in the mortal world. I stared up at them.
“You should be hungry. It’s been a year on Earth since you died,” Gina answered, “I’d expected you to want something to eat,”
“A year,” I exclaimed, “Do you know what happened to my colleagues in the Reich,”
“Different things happened to them—many of them are dead. I don’t exactly know what happened to them afterlife-wise. Probably like what was going to happen to you. Why did you do those things?”
“I was brainwashed by Hitler,” I told them, “I was completely brainwashed. I was forced to be turned into an evil bastard,”
“Yea, that’s basically what you are,” Gina nodded and stood up.
“Thanks,” I sighed, “Any idea how I could become a human being again?”
“Well, after years of brainwashing that’s going to take a while to degut all that propaganda out of your system the old fashioned way. That’s why we appointed you this position and why we’re going to do this,” Gina held out her scythe.
“What are you doing, Gina,” I trembled and backed away from her.
“I’m going to erase all the propaganda and all the things that brainwashed you out of your mind,” Gina threatened.
My mind felt an electric zap. I blacked out…again. I’m not quite sure how many times I blacked out so far. All I could think of was the beach. The waves rolled in, and rolled out. That’s all I could think about while I was asleep. I heard Gina’s voice, “Breathe in, breath out,”
“You can wake up now,” Kiki smiled.
“What the heck did you do,” I screamed.
“Hey, I just helped you,” Gina exclaimed, “Let’s see how bad it really was…what you did after your shift the last night before the camp you guarded was liberated…,”
I tried to remember, but it slipped my mind. It seemed like yesterday when the camp was liberated; but I couldn’t put a finger on what I did the night before.
“Gina, do you realize how screwed I am now,” I exclaimed, “Over half of my memory is lost now; thanks a lot. Yeah, that’ll help. All I can really remember now is that my name is Frankie von Medemeyer, I was twenty-three when I died, I died when someone shot me and apparently I helped kill people,”
“That’s what I was getting at. I don’t want you to remember anything about who you were. Your memory will slowly return to you; you’ll soon remember what you did the night before. What country you are from. Who your parents, siblings, aunts, uncles and friends were. Though the reason will never come to you unless mentioned by another person—then, all those memories of why you did that will come back.”
“Yeah, I’m starting to remember what I had for dinner the night before,” I paused, “I drove from this awful prison of which I was forced to guard. I apparently had not kept the prisoners’ health in good condition. Why I wanted to guard that place is…oh…yeah…I can’t remember why,” I sneered at Gina. She just hissed at me like a snake.
“We’re just trying to help you,” Gina grinned, “You see, me and Kiki are planning a trip to Paris in 2012,”
“…and,” I asked.
“We’re thinking if you can behave yourself we’ll let you come back to Earth for a while. There’s going to be a girl in the future that’s going to need all the help we can provide,” Gina grinned.
“What’s she like,” I asked.
“She’ll be the exact opposite of you—your heart is coal-infected black, her heart is pure, wind mill fueled white. She likes art and peace; you like violence and war. My job here is to help you two find an equal shade of grey—the perfect area where sin and virtue is equal among one’s soul. I’m going to help her to take control over her father’s business and for you…you to not be so cruel.” Gina smiled menacingly.
“Great…,” I sighed.
“The Book of Revelations was edited so much so it could even make the cut into the Bible,”
“What does that have to do with anything,” I asked.
“I’m talking about a cut-out verse that predicted that two mortals would assassinate the envious Horseman of Famine after his reign of terror was over. You and this girl,” Gina answered.
“Great…,” I sighed.
Time passed by slowly on the beach in the scroll. Days turned into weeks. Weeks turned into months. Months turned into years. Years turned into decades. I regained most of my memory back, even some of the reasons why I helped kill those people. Yet it still didn’t make much sense.
Something was still always missing. With each answer came so many questions. Before I knew it, Gina turned to me one hot summer day and said, “C’mon, Frankie, we’re heading to Paris,”
“What,” I asked.
“It’s September 2012, we’ve got to get moving,” Gina smiled, “You’ve proven yourself. I can trust you. In fact, once we get there; I’ll back all your memories. What, no thank you,”
“Yea…thanks…I guess,” I was still timid to be around the horseman of Death. She had been a bit strict on what to mention, topics around the campfire, and just about everything. Gina was pretty much the creepiest woman I ever remember being strongly connected to.
Though before we left, I saw her pull out a photo of a man and a woman together. I wasn’t close enough to describe their physical features, but I heard her whisper in Latin. I don’t remember a lick of Latin that I might’ve learned at any point; but I could tell it was either Latin or French. That was the last that I ever saw of the scroll beach.