Chamber of Horrors,
Part Two

 

home / season five / episode twenty / act IV

   

Dachau Concentration Camp
Munich, Germany
April 29, 1945

“They’re coming, Jacob! The Americans are coming!” Sydney danced around the end of his brother’s bed and watched as a smile slowly crossed the other Ritter’s thin face, deeply lined from his illness and slightly gray, but still smiling in the way that he always had.

“Go out, Sydney. Go out and meet them.”

Sydney turned to face his brother, concern on his face. “Are you sure? I don’t want to leave you alone.”

“No, no.” Jacob slowly shook his head. “Go out and see what’s happening. Go and find Henri.”

Sydney smiled, nodded and flew to the door. Turning back, he looked again at his brother. “Don’t go anywhere.”

“Promise.”

Sydney slammed the door behind him and ran down the steps of the barracks, glancing quickly from left to right to ensure that there were no guards around. A slight suggestion of fear still haunted him and being the only person moving in the whole camp was enough to make him nervous. For a moment he stopped, hidden in the shadow of a tree, and glanced around. His eyes took in the watchtowers; from all but one flew a white banner, signaling their capitulation, but in the last Sydney could see several figures moving. He felt something inside him twist and he had to clench his hands to prevent himself from calling out. It seemed that, even now, there were so people so enamored in their Führer that they would rather die than surrender. He looked over at the chimney of the crematoria, finally missing the cloud of smoke that usually surrounded it. The previous night had been strangely dark when there were no longer bodies being burned, littered though the camp was with them. His eye was caught by a glint of something on the hillside and he watched it for a moment before remembering his errand. Staying close to the buildings, he ran along, reaching the door of number 8 and yanking it open, thankfully disappeared inside. He ran up to Henri’s bunk and stood looking down at him.

“They’re here, Henri! The Americans!”

Immediately the men of the barracks looked up and he found himself the subject of several hundred pairs of eyes.

“What did you say?” A man got up from the bed, came over and turned to the young boy to face him, his eyes shining from the hollows into which his eyes had sunk, his bones protruding clearly as he loudly repeated the question.

“I saw them, on the hillside. Well, I saw something shining as it moved so it has to be them.”

The man opened his mouth to comment again but the harsh cracking of guns distracted the attention of almost everyone in the room.

“The Americans!” “Die Amerikaner!” “Les Americains!” “Los Americanos!“ “De Amerikaner!” “Američani!” “I Americanos!“ “Amerikaik!” “Americanii!” The identical words came in many languages from the thousands of people in the camp as out from the buildings poured waves of humanity into the Appellplatz. Sydney would have joined them but, turning, his eye was caught by a view of Henri.

The man lay on his bunk, his face damp with sweat and his breath coming slowly and with difficulty.

“Henri?”

Sydney stretched out an arm and gently touched the man’s shoulder. Henri opened his eyes and, with difficulty, focused on the boy in front of him.

“Did you hear, Henri? The Americans are here!”

The man tried to smile. “That’s good, Sydney. It means you will be safe. You can go home now, you and Jacob.”

“And you too, Henri. You can go home and become a doctor again.”

The man shook his head with an effort. “No, Sydney. I only have one home left to go to. My last home.”

“You’re - dying?” The boy whispered the words and dropped to his knees beside the bed, his bones making a loud crack on the wooden boards in the otherwise silent building. “Now? Henri, we’re so close. They’re just a few metres away. How can you die now, when we’re so nearly free?”

“Sydney, it’s just one of the things that happens.”

“No, Henri.” The tears began to slip down Sydney's face and dropped onto the hands that held Henri’s in a tight grasp. “No, please. We need you. Jacob and I need you. If we don’t have you, we won’t be able to get home.”

“Nonsense, Sydney.” The last hints of authority were evident in Henri’s voice. “I know that you and Jacob will make it home. And I’m going home too. So, you see, there’s no reason to be sad for me.” He smiled a little and then looked back towards the window and in the direction of the Appellplatz where the sounds of celebration and cheering could be clearly heard through the thin walls and Sydney couldn’t help looking towards the door.

“Tell Jacob how glad I was that I could help him; that I could help both of you. Good luck, Sydney.”

Sydney turned back to see that the color had faded completely from Henri’s face, leaving it gray as well as gaunt. The eyes closed as, with a final sigh, death took its first of many liberated victims.

“No, Henri.” The boy sobbed now, loudly in the silent room, his chest heaving and his face wet with tears. He stroked the hand that lay in both of his and then pressed it gently to his cheek for a moment before laying it back on the bed. He stood and backed slowly away from the bed, standing for a moment with his back to the door before opening it and running frantically out of the room.

* * * * * * * * *

The Centre
Blue Cove, Delaware
October 27, 1971

Jarod looked up from the results of the simulation he was reviewing to find Sydney wheeling a Victrola into the room.

“What are we doing?”

“Finish the simulation.”

Jarod tried to ignore the sternness in Sydney's voice, knowing that it usually meant he was trying to hide some other emotion.

“I have finished it. I just checked over the results and I think I have everything.”

“Good.” Sydney walked over and picked up the bundle of pages, glancing at several figures before slipping it into the relevant folder.

“What are we doing now?”

Jarod tried to keep the excitement out of his voice and struggled to prevent his eyes from glancing over at the object in the corner.

“One of our clients has expressed an interest in studying something that we feel you would be very capable of knowing a great deal about.” Sydney paused, a look of pain crossing his face briefly. Jarod allowed himself several seconds to deal with the fact of what he was hearing. An introduction to a simulation? That never happened. He was always told exactly what he had to do and how he had to do it. He waited for Sydney to continue.

“I am going to play a piece of music to you. This is a very special piece for me because it was one that my parents used to play often. It’s one of the few things belonging to my family that exists anymore.” Sydney shook himself and looked down at Jarod. “When you listen to it, try to imagine what the composer was thinking about when he wrote it. Try and understand his emotions and feelings at the time. I want to know what you come up with.”

Sydney pulled a chair up to the table and Jarod sat in it, finding himself with a pad of paper and pen in front of him. He watched out of the corner of his eye as the psychiatrist walked over to the corner and put on a particular record. The first strains of the song echoed through the room which, not having been built for such a function, had terrible acoustics and Jarod winced as the first notes came back in a way that was almost painful to him. Despite the slight distortion, however, an image gradually appeared in the child’s mind and a sense of power and, most of all, of freedom swept through him. He could feel himself, as he had once in his dream, take over the mind and feelings of a bird. This time, however, he also had the strength of an eagle and he could feel the wind rushing past him as he soared, high above the limitations that his current situation imposed. He felt the music thrill through him and he allowed himself to get swept away by the emotions that were gradually piling up within him…

Jarod sucked the end of his pen thoughtfully and tried to work out exactly what it was that Sydney wanted from him. Usually Jarod could understand what he was being asked for, but not in this case. Did they want the composer’s emotions? His thoughts? His feelings? All of these were separate, with no logical way of connecting them that could be understood. He, Jarod, could feel them but he had no way of expressing them.

“What is it, Jarod? Is there a problem?”

“I don’t know…what it is you’re asking me for.”

Sydney pulled up a chair and sat in it. “We want to know how Mozart was able to write something like this.” Sydney's hand tapped the record that was sitting on the desk in front of him.

“You want to know about genius?” The word came abruptly from the child’s mouth and he watched as Sydney nodded.

“We want to know what made him different from everybody else. We want you to tell us that.”

“Is my next simulation to reproduce it?” It was a strangely perceptive question from a twelve-year-old and Sydney glanced at him sharply before firmly negating the answer.

“Don’t be foolish, Jarod. We simply want a greater understanding of what makes a person develop the traits of genius.”

Jarod thankfully put the pen down in front of him. “But I can’t do that, Sydney.”

“Why not?”

“Because genius isn’t one particular thing that can be described or seen. It’s innate, inborn, something that is part of these people when they come into the world. You can’t reproduce it.”

“And what makes you so sure? Genius appears at different times…”

“…for different reasons, usually because of opportunity. Mozart’s father introduced him to music early on, and he had the chance to develop his ability. If you want something specific, it doesn’t matter how much genius a person has. Without opportunity, he will never excel. You’ll never be able to reproduce genius.”

Jarod lay on his bed later that day with his hands clasped behind his head but his mind a long way away. In his imagination, he had once more become the eagle that he had felt when listening to the record earlier that day. He could feel himself soaring through the clouds; breathing the fresh air and having the sunlight warm him. As he fell asleep that night, his mind took him on a journey into open fields and bright, sunny days. It showed him the world spread out below him and seemed to invite him to join in but, as much as he tried, something always stopped him from doing so, no matter how much he fought it. Jarod felt himself being dragged slowly but persistently upwards, away from the world that called to him from below. A wall began to appear between himself and this world - slowly at first, then ever faster and thicker until his view was obscured by the image of gray stone. Jarod could feel the tears in his eyes and he reached out to try and push away the walls around him. He could feel the cold surface under his palm and struggled against its unyielding exterior. He beat upon it with his fists, wanting to join the world that he knew was out there, just beyond his reach.

The boy woke up in his dark room to find his hands beating uselessly against the wall of his room and tears streaming down his face. Glancing around, the dim light making items still visible, he shivered and picked up his coverings, cowering under them as though he could escape reality…

* * * * * * * * *

10:32am Washington International Airport
Washington, DC

Another twenty minutes passed in silence while a broad range of emotions passed over Sydney's face. Miss Parker sat silently, turning over in her mind the information that she had just received. Finally, one question jumped out at her.

“I still don’t understand something.”

As he looked up at her, Miss Parker could tell that Sydney was still lost in the past that he had been reliving. She snapped her fingers in front of his face and watched as he jumped and then focused on her.

“What is it?”

“You’ve as good as admitted that Dr. Leiden saved your life with all of the things he did for you. So what made you so angry to see him among the other members of the Triumvirate?”

“Exactly that.” The warmth crept back into Sydney's voice as he spoke and he squeezed his hands together in an attempt to stop the anger that was building within from exploding. “If he’s involved with the Triumvirate, then he hasn’t given up doing the same types of things he was doing to us in Dachau. Remember the Fountain project? How could you forget what you saw - what you smelled - in that room? Didn’t it occur to you just how much like the projects of Nazi regime that was? It means that not only was Leiden never punished for what he did but that he’s still doing it. I don’t even know how long he’s been doing it for. Even Krieg had given up on things like that.”

“But you can’t leave, Sydney.”

“Why not?”

“Because if you do, who’s going to stop them?”

Miss Parker reached into her pocket and pulled out the DSA that Angelo had thrown at her earlier. Sliding it across the table to Sydney, she reached over and squeezed his hand before getting up and walking rapidly away from the table.

Sydney sat for a moment, staring down at the disk that reflected the lights from the ceiling and glittered like a grotesque prize on the table in front of him. The waiter stepped over to the table and dropped a slip of paper onto the surface, walking away as rapidly. A group from another table left at the moment and passed between the table, where Sydney sat still, and the bar. Without thinking, Sydney picked up the slip of paper and fingered it for several minutes, alternating his gaze between the disk and the photograph of Dr. Leiden that remained on the table. Finally, however, he focused on the page that he held in his hand. Instead of a list of items and their relevant prices was written a mobile phone number and a name - a very familiar name. Sydney started in his seat, fully woken out of the dream of the past in which he had been indulging, and cast an eager eye around the small airport café. He had little doubt that he would not find the object of his search and he was correct. The area around the bar was empty. Sydney stood up, slipped the disk, the photograph and the bill into his pocket, picked up his suitcase and made his way out of the terminal.

* * * * * * * * *

Mayo Clinic, Research Center
Scottsdale, Arizona

“Well, well, well, looks like a day or two away from the desk really can work wonders. I should try it myself some time.” Jarod thus announced his entrance into the room and Dr. James Eaton turned with a smile on his face and his hand outstretched.

“It’s good to see you again, Jarod. What have you been doing with yourself?”

“Oh, this and that.” Jarod avoided the potentially dangerous question and instead focused on the papers that Eaton had spread on the table in front of him and then back up at the doctor. “This looks interesting. Shifting the focus?”

“For the moment. I’m hoping that a change of direction might give me a break and provide a new alleyway to explore.”

“Well, I sure hope it works.”

“Hey, I can only try, right?”

“Absolutely.”

“Can I run some of my ideas past you?”

Jarod sat down in a chair beside the bed, feeling suddenly that the tone of voice with which the doctor was speaking seemed somehow familiar. As the relatively complicated explanations began, Jarod finally managed to recognize it as a tone in which he himself had spoken soon after his escape from the Centre, when he, too, believed that he could solve the problems of the world and atone for the wrongs he had, albeit unknowingly, committed. Time, he thought briefly, had made him wiser. Unfortunately with wisdom came a loss of something else. Like innocence…

* * * * * * * * *

The Centre
Blue Cove, Delaware

Sydney settled himself into the seat behind his desk and loaded the DSA into a machine that faced him. Starting up the disk, he picked up the phone and dialed the number with which he had been provided.

“Hello Sydney.”

“How did you know?”

“Know what? Where to come? I’m not sure. I was driving past an airport, heading for Delaware, and something told me that was where you were."

“Did you hear it all?”

“Would it surprise you if I said ‘yes’?”

Sydney let a smile cross his face briefly as he listened to Jarod's voice. ”Not really. If I had given the matter any thought, I would probably have realized that you would have found out about it somehow.”

Jarod’s voice lost some of its lightheartedness and became more serious. “Are you okay?”

Sydney looked down at his hands, still dotted with tiny cuts from his night in the open air. “Not yet. It’s too soon. But maybe one day…”

“Are you going to talk to anybody about it?”

“I made an appointment with Dr. Shafton for tomorrow.”

“It always helps to talk…”

“I know.”

There was silence for a few moments, but it was now friendly, with none of the tenseness that such a situation might once have created.

“Why didn’t you leave?”

Sydney considered for a moment, trying to soften the blow of his answer but suddenly realized that his protégé wanted truth and not comfort. “No matter how far or fast I run, I can never get away from what happened: what I did or what they did. And if I left…”

”…who would stop them? Miss Parker was right. I heard her.”

“I had to do something.”

“I know.”

“You felt that way once, too.” It was a statement, not a question. Realization suddenly came home to Sydney and made him fully understand the emotion that had sent Jarod into the world five years earlier.

“Have you ever felt that you could change the world, Sydney?”

There was a short pause and Sydney swallowed hard, knowing that he couldn’t avoid this question, although he had denied to truth to himself for a long time. “I used to think - after we got out of the camp - that I had to do something so that my time in that place wouldn’t have been worthless. Yes, Jarod, I thought I could change the world. I knew the names of the men responsible for sending my parents to their deaths at Mauthausen and Hartheim. I hunted them down and handed them over to the authorities; watched the life squeezed out of them by the legal processes that first tried and convicted them and then killed them. I used to dream that I killed them myself with my own hands. I thought that, by getting rid of two of the men who had caused so much suffering, I would, in my own way, be able to change the world. But there are so many of them. I can’t ever get rid of them all.”

Sydney's eyes were drawn back to the DSA player by a series of familiar figures that could be seen on it. Reaching out, he paused the machine and the screen froze. His eyes took in the long table: himself, Jacob and Catherine Parker on one side and Mr. Parker and Dr. Raines on the other. Another figure was visible, standing in the shadows behind the two men but out of sight of the three figures facing them. Sydney zoomed in on the face and recognized it immediately.

“How was it that Leiden could go from just another scientist employed by the Centre to a member of the Triumvirate?”

“Perhaps he learnt to play be their rules. You never did. Thank God.”

Sydney swallowed and then reached out his hand and gently touched the two figures that sat on either side of his younger self.

“Catherine, Jacob - both dead. When will it be my turn?”

“I don’t know.” Jarod's voice was quiet, full of an unstated pain. “Neither do you.”

“I just wish…there was something I could actually do.”

* * * * * * * * *

Mayo Clinic, Research Center
Scottsdale, Arizona

Jarod sat in the chair behind his desk and his eyes focused on his computer. His gaze also took in the group, thanks to an email from Angelo that Jarod had received only that morning. Reaching out a hand, Jarod allowed his finger to rest gently on the younger image of Sydney. Silently he nodded and then spoke. “I wish things like that every day.”

“Is it ever possible to truly make a difference?”

“Sometimes, it can feel like you do make a difference to people’s lives.”

Jarod looked out of the window of his office to where he could see Dr. Eaton sitting on a garden bench and enjoying the sunlight that had followed the previous nights’ storm.

“And - does that help?” Sydney unconsciously assumed the role of student to his former student and the tone of his voice betrayed his desperate desire for some word or hint of comfort.

“Yes, Sydney. It helps. Things like that always help.”

Both men disconnected the call at the same moment and Jarod buried his face in his hands with a moan. Taking a deep breath, he straightened, put his shoulders back and stood up. Stepping over to the window, he allowed the last of the sun’s setting rays to pass over his face and he opened the window to let in the first of the evening’s cool breezes.

“Yes, it helps. But it hurts too.” Jarod groaned again and turned away from the window. “And it can hurt so much…”

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