Michael T. Weiss as Jarod
Andrea Parker as Miss Parker
Patrick Bauchau as Sydney
Jon Gries as Broots
Paul Dillon as Angelo
Jamie Denton as Mr Lyle
Lenny van Dohlen as Mr Cox
Alex Wexo as Young Sydney and Young Jacob
Ryan Merriman as Young Jarod
Jake Lloyd as Young Angelo
Richard Marcus as Young Dr Raines
Andrea Parker as Catherine Parker
Cole Mitchell and Dylan Sprouse as Very Young Sydney and Jacob
Nicholas Cage as Jean-Michael Ritter
Pam Ferris as Greta Ritter
Nicholas Cox as Josef
John Neville as Wolfram Leiden
Benjamin Bratt as Young Wolfram Leiden
Holly Marie Combs as Julie-Ann Hueber
Randy Quaid as James Eaton
Sarah Michelle Gellar as Rebecca Eaton
Martin Zeller as Werner Krieg
Hart Bochner as Young Werner Krieg
Keanu Reeves as Henri
Sydney shivered as he tried to find a warm place in the bed. The number of people he and Jacob shared their blankets with had now increased from only each other to more than ten. However, even all the people crowded into such a small space couldn’t reduce the feelings of terror they had, with only each other and Henri to confide in.
“Are you scared too?”
Sydney turned his head as his brother whispered in his ear so that only he could hear. “Yes. Very.”
“Do you think they’ll select us tomorrow?”
“I don’t know. Do you?”
“I don’t know either.”
The two boys huddled together, trying to get warmth from each other as the winds threw snow against the windowpanes and howled around the building. A red glow lit the sky, showing through the window about their bed.
“Does it still hurt?”
In response to Jacob's question, Sydney pulled up the sleeve of his jacket and showed a strip of bruising, once dark brown but now slowly fading to green and yellow, the bruising having lasted longer to the malnutrition that was beginning to affect both boys. “Not much any more. How about your foot?”
Jacob shook his head, trying to ignore the throbbing pain that still coursed its way up his leg as a result of a meeting that the two boys had had with one of the camp’s most brutal guards some days earlier.
“Why…?” began Sydney quietly.
“I thought we agreed - no more ‘why.'” Jacob closed his eyes and turned slightly away from his twin brother.
Sydney sighed. “I’m sorry. You’re right.” He turned over and tugged gently on the blanket, to no avail. Sighing again, he shut his eyes and tried to go to sleep.
“Jacob?” Sydney, sitting on the steps outside block 8 and waiting for Henri to come out, nudged his brother with his foot. “Are you okay?"
Jacob sat on the step below, his knees drawn up under his chin, and his eyes focused on a point on the floor. Through his parted lips, his breath could be heard: a harsh, rasping sound that made Sydney shiver as he lowered himself carefully to the ground. He reached over and touched Jacob on the shoulder. He could feel the heat coming off his brother and, eyes wide, Sydney stepped back for a moment. Only three days before they had been moved out of the block and into a private room in Block Five. One of the other people in their bed had had the same fever and, on the morning that they had been taken to their new living quarters, several of the room’s other occupants had dragged the dead man’s body away, to be burned with the others in the crematorium. Sydney crept in close to his brother again, wrapped both arms around him and held him.
“Jacob, please. I need you. I can’t let you go. If you go, I’ll be all alone. Don’t leave me in this place, without you. I need you.”
Sydney never heard the door open but he felt the motionless figure of his brother lifted out of his arms and looked up to see Henri cradling his brother.
“Henri, he isn’t…?”
“Not yet. Come with me, Sydney.”
The doctor looked up in annoyance as the door to his room slammed back against the wall.
“Pardon me, Herr Doktor,” the guard began to speak. “I tried to prevent them disturbing you, but…”
“Dr. Leiden,” Henri stepped around the guard and displayed the limp body of Jacob to the stunned doctor. “I don’t know what it is, but I think…”
Henri nodded in agreement and Dr. Leiden glanced up at him as he took the now unconscious body of Jacob out of the man’s arms. “You know something of medicine?”
“Yes, Herr Doktor.” Henri straightened to attention. “I was a doctor in Paris before I came to Dachau.”
“Hmm,” the doctor considered as he rubbed his clean-shaven chin with one finger. “And you have been taking care of my boys?”
“Yes, Herr Doktor.”
“Where have you been working?”
“Herr Doktor, I beg to report that I have no specific job.” Henri spoke reluctantly, knowing that it was always such people who were given the worst work - or else no work at all.
“Good. Then you can help me with my boys in the laboratory. You will report for work tomorrow morning here in this block at six o’clock.”
Henri allowed a smile to pass fleetingly over his face. “It will be my pleasure, Herr Doktor.”
The doctor eyed him snidely for a moment before turning back to Jacob. “Your pleasure? Well, we will see about that…”
* * * * * * * * *
The six-year-old boy was led back to the cell, his mind still buzzing with the information he had had to absorb for the most recent simulation but still feeling that something was missing. He was lonely. There were times when his mind went back over the people whose acquaintance he had made in his short life and he wished most sincerely to see some of them again. Like that lady that had visited once but had never come back. The one who had made him talk about his family and had given him hope that he might one day see them again. But the memory of those faces, voices and other sounds and smells that had been associated with home were gradually beginning to fail as well. He was thrust into the room by the strong arm of one of the sweepers and allowed himself to drop onto his hands and knees as the door slammed shut behind him. Curling himself up into a ball on the cold, hard floor of his cell, he shut his eyes and tried to imagine how it felt when his mother held him.
The feeling of panic built in him as he realized that he was unable to recall how it had felt. He wrapped both arms around himself and, sitting up, began to rock himself gently from side to side, humming softly the songs he vaguely remembered being sung to him. But the memory evaporated almost as soon as it appeared and Jarod was left with only a vague hint of it in his mind and the tightening of grief in his chest. He rolled over so that he was again on his hands and knees and crawled over to the bed, pulling the blanket over him and trying to hide underneath it, to try and find a source of warmth and comfort where there was none. He had no idea that as he lay, wracked with pain and sorrow, fighting against the urge to allow himself to sob, two pairs of eyes were watching. One peered in through the bars of the air vent, eyes glinting in the darkness as he felt the sorrow that Jarod was also suffering. The other pair of eyes watched from a room far above this scene of anguish, shining with unshed tears. It was not only a child that remembered the pain of having lost a family. Sydney, too, remembered how much he had suffered at such a loss. He turned and abruptly left the room.
Sydney entered his office to find his brother waiting for him, hands linked in front of him on the desk and his eyes fixed on the door. Not perceiving his twin at first, Sydney jumped violently when he finally noticed him.
“Waiting for me? Or just trying to haunt my office?”
“Keeping an anniversary.”
“Really?” Sydney growled, dropping papers onto his desk and preparing to leave again. “Which one?”
“The death of our parents.” His brother spoke quietly and pulled a photograph out of his pocket and tossed it across the desk. The photograph showed the boys as babies, being held by their parents at their home in Belgium, prior to their flight into France. Sydney glanced down at it and then dropped into the chair behind him with a groan.
“What do you want, brother? Why are you tormenting me with this?”
“Because I asked him to.” Another figure slipped out of the shadows and stood behind Jacob.
“Mrs. Parker? What are you doing here?”
“I need your help, Sydney.”
“Understand?” Jacob stood and began to pace the length of the room. “You never did, my brother, about things as important as this. You wouldn’t admit to yourself the truth about what we went through as children and now you deny this. You’ve been working with that boy for two years…”
“So that’s what this is about.” Sydney mentally kicked himself for not realizing it earlier. “Jarod.”
Catherine turned to him, a pleading look on her face. “You have to help me to get him out of here, Sydney. You saw what he was going through.”
“You were watching?”
She nodded. “You can’t let him go on suffering like that. It might destroy him completely and then the Centre would have no further use for him. Do you know what happens to people who are of no use?”
“Yes,” Sydney's voice was strangled. “I know.”
* * * * * * * * *
Jarod threw his arms instinctively over his face and felt the wave of heat force the sleeve of his jacket onto his arm. Sinking to his knees, he heard the flames roar above his head as he reached out an arm in the darkness. After several seconds, his hand found the smooth leather of the shoes of the office’s only other occupant. With his hand on the leg of the desk to use as leverage, he used much of his strength to pull the unconscious man along the floor and finally towards the door, which was lit by the green emergency sign that, fortunately, had not been extinguished by the fire. Slamming the door shut behind him and blocking out the flames, Jarod took in several deep breaths and tried to suppress the urge to cough until he saw stars.
Leaning over, he quickly assessed Eaton’s condition and found that he was still alive, breathing and his heart beating somewhat slowly but regularly. For several moments, forgetful of the danger only a wall away, Jarod tried to wake him -- but the doctor remained unconscious. Standing, Jarod pulled an extinguisher off the wall, opened the door and stared wildly around him. The fire was almost completely gone. The fact that the air conditioning was turned off and also that the door had prevented oxygen from getting to the fire meant that only a few small places were flaming and these Jarod destroyed with the extinguisher before looking around again. Only traces of it now remained - ashes on the desk that has been a notebook, a scorch mark on the ceiling and the crumbs of glass from the broken test tubes and beakers on the burnt wooden surface, all covered with foam but still visible through it. The room was also incredibly hot and Jarod could still feel the heat rising up to his face.
About to turn back again, Jarod saw something out of the corner of his eye and, bending down, picked up the needle and blackened spoon that lay on the floor, the heat making him drop them again rapidly. A metal casing showed what was, before the fire, a cigarette lighter and told Jarod much more than he needed to know. With a heavy heart, he turned to go back to the man that lay on the floor outside the burnt room.
* * * * * * * * *
The doors flew open as Miss Parker strode briskly down the corridor to Broots’ office. He looked up as she entered and considered making a glib comment about the amount of time it had taken but her expression dissuaded him.
“What is it?”
“Well, Lyle was looking around Sydney's office to get some information and it gave me the idea to start searching through personnel files to see if this person already had a connection to anyone in the Centre.”
“He was interested in Kronos I.”
Miss Parker's face took on a look of amusement, her minding having temporarily forgotten the reason for her return. “And what did you tell him?”
“I…I told him where we found the information about it when we were looking.”
“And did you tell him why we were looking?” Miss Parker's voice made Broots jump.
“N…no. And he didn’t ask.”
Miss Parker thought for several seconds about that before dismissing the thoughts of her brother from her mind.
“What did you find after he left?”
“Well, it took me a while to find anything, what with all of the information that’s available in those things…”
Miss Parker banged a fist on the table in front of him, making him jump. “What did you find, Broots?”
He turned the DSA player to her and slipped in the disk that was lying on the desk. “There was a link in Lyle’s file and I found this DSA hidden away in the archives under something called Leiden.”
“Yeah. It’s a German word. Apparently it means ‘suffering.'”
Broots started up the player and sat back so that Miss Parker could look over his shoulder.
A young Lyle, about twenty-five years old, sat on a laboratory stool and peered into a microscope. Words at the bottom of the screen read Die Fakultät.
“What have you discovered?”
The words were spoken in a slightly broken English and Miss Parker's eyebrows shot up, recognizing the tone of it.
“If you use the product I’ve created, there should be no difficulties in completely removing the conscious barriers that your subjects could put forward in an attempt to avoid answering your questions.”
The man stood with his fingertips pressed together and nodded.
“Good, good. And side-effects?”
“Nothing permanent. As requested, a temporary amnesia will be produced and will last for approximately eight to ten hours after the administration of the drug, depending on the speed of the individual’s metabolic rate.”
“And in what state will they be to answer our questions?”
Lyle glanced back to the pages in front of him but somehow Miss Parker was convinced that it was for effect.
“The body will relax into a state of some sedation, but will be able to think and speak as normal. The conscious mental barriers will be broken down and the individual will have no reason not to answer the questions you choose to ask.”
“Good. We will test it now.”
Lyle smirked and looked around, presumably for the poor volunteers. His face fell when he realized that he and the doctor were alone and that the doctor had picked up the syringe.
Broots glanced up, shocked but expecting Miss Parker to make some snide remark, but found her to be staring at the screen, her face wearing an expression that was close to sympathy. In the meantime, the figure of her brother had rapidly slumped in his chair, with only the gleam in his eye showing that he was aware of his surroundings.
“Will the drug be infallible?”
“It has a failure rate of 0.04%.” His voice was dreamy.
“Under what circumstances?”
“Certain genetic traits.”
“Tests have been unable to determine.”
“How long have you been testing the fallibility rate?”
“The last eight hours.”
The doctor rocked back on his heels and stared thoughtfully out of the window for several seconds.
“A number of subjects will be handed over to this project. You will be assisted in this by one of our other researchers.”
Turning, he left the room. Immediately the door was shut behind the doctor, the two people watching the tape saw Lyle get up and walk over in the direction of the camera.
“Mr. Raines, sir,” he began, looking directly into the camera and Miss Parker gasped aloud at the tenacity of seemingly double-crossing one of the Centre’s partners.
“Mr. Raines, I designed the drug Lethe as we planned. Its actual failure rate is more like nine percent but can be improved to almost 100% with certain improvement that I will inform you of when next I see you. However I have one major limitation to report and one that, I believe, cannot be overcome. The substance has no effect whatever in the short term on pretenders. I have had no opportunity to perform long-term studies but I believe that the effects there would also be negligible. I have been working to overcome it but have, so far, been unable to do so.”
The tape faded to black here and Miss Parker got up from her chair and began to pace the length of the room.
“So Lyle was working with this mystery man, whoever he was, and Raines seems to have been playing the organization he worked for - Die Fakultät - off against the Centre. But this still doesn’t tell us who the man is.”
”We could ask Lyle.”
“Might as well suggest that we ask Raines, wherever they’ve put him since Faith broke his mind.”
Miss Parker continued to pace for a few moments more, then looked up, an idea seeming to dawn in her eyes. Walking over, she grabbed Broots’ collar and pulled him up out of the chair. “Repeat what you said.”
“Well, I…I just said we should ask Lyle…”
She let him go and he slumped in his chair in relief.
“Ask Lyle, no. But we could look in his file…”
She walked over to the computer that stood on the table in his office and typed in her high-level security password. Immediately a list of staff files appeared on the screen in front of her. Broots watched, his mouth slack, as she opened the one belonging to her twin brother.
“How did you get that…?”
”Jarod,” Miss Parker responded over her shoulder.
“What?!” Broots’ voice rose to a shriek and he leapt up from his chair as though he’d been shot. “Jarod?!”
“Broots, calm down. I was joking. Daddy gave it to me, during the time that he actually was willing to do things like that for me. I thought he would have changed it. Seems like he didn’t.”
“Oh.” Broots sat himself in the chair again, wishing he hadn’t left it. After a few moments, he looked up again. “Did you find it?”
“Almost…” Miss Parker ran her eyes over the screen and then pointed a finger to a date and a name. “Here…” Her eyes widened and she looked across at Broots in shock. “Would you believe it? Look here…”
* * * * * * * * *
“Dr. Eaton? James, can you hear me?”
Jarod watched as the man lying on the bed slowly opened his eyes and looked around passively for a few moments before he finally realized where he was.
“It’s okay. You’re going to be fine.”
The man pulled himself up into a sitting position and saw Jarod sitting in a chair by the window holding a medical folder in his hand.
”Luckily I happened by your office in time to see the fire. Any idea how it started?”
Dr. Eaton looked away for a couple of seconds, considering an appropriate lie that wouldn’t sound too unrealistic but, looking back at Jarod, noticed the gleam in his eye and guessed that he already knew all there was to know.
”Just about all your research was destroyed in the fire. Luckily I was able to contact several universities early this morning and they agreed to sell you the information again, like they did last time. Of course, the price has gone up a little by now. Inflation, you know…”
“But…how do you…?”
“Know? The same way you know about me.” Jarod help up a tape player that he had been concealing behind the medical folder and played it. Immediately the sound of the discussion between Dr. Eaton and the Centre contact filled the room.
Sydney rolled up his sleeve as Henri approached, bearing a syringe in his hand and a sympathetic look on his face. “I’m sorry,” he whispered, allowing the mental fang to slip into the young skin and draw out the deep red blood.
“It’s not so bad.” Sydney hardly flinched as he felt the needle enter, the daily injections and blood tests having immunized him to the pain. “At least, not when you do it.”
“Well, and how is my little test subject this morning?”
Sydney looked around Henri’s broad frame to see that Dr. Leiden had entered the room, followed by Dr. Krieg. The other two occupants in the room remained silent while the two German doctors conversed about tests and treatments. It was the next sentence spoken that caused Sydney almost to stop breathing.
“The other has two weeks. If he isn’t either recovered or dead, he will be sent for special treatment to Hartheim Castle.”
Dr. Leiden made a movement of protest and Dr. Krieg turned on him, a savage expression on his face. “Don’t get too attached to those boys, doctor. If you do, you might be taking that last ride along with them, provided that the Herr Kommandant Weiss actually does what the Herr Himmler ordered him to and destroys this camp and everyone in it.” Dr. Krieg turned on his heel and marched out of the room, leaving the other three occupants staring after him.
“Will they really do it?” Sydney whispered as he and Henri walked down the hall to the twins’ room.
Henri shook his head. “I don’t know. It’s possible.”
Arriving in the room, Sydney slid onto the bed. “But why? We’ve survived so long and now, at the end, they kill us all?”
Henri slipped an arm around Sydney's shoulder as he sat down next to him and, turning, Sydney buried his head in Henri’s jacket and soaked it with hot tears of frustration and despair. “Sydney? Sydney, listen to me. It may not happen. The Americans…”
“How can the Americans save us? They haven’t done anything to help us since the war started and so why would they start now? What are we to them?”
“I don’t know why they haven’t done anything - nobody knows. But perhaps they didn’t want to kill us.”
“We’d be better off.” Henri heard the adult words come from the child’s mouth with an inner shudder. He was about to respond when his chest constricted and he was forced to cough in order to clear his throat. Stopping, he found Sydney looking up at him with a concerned expression on his face.
“Are you okay?”
Henri nodded. “I will be.”
“What’s wrong with you?”
“I don’t really know.”
Sydney turned away with a dissatisfied expression and Henri, despite the pain in his chest, tried to hide a smile. Regardless of his efforts, however, Sydney noticed and turned immediately, his eyes demanding an answer.
“What was that for?”
“I can’t help thinking that, one day, when this is all over, you’ll have to make sure you work with people. You would never be happy working at a desk. You need interaction, mental stimulus. You can understand people so well.”
Henri got up from the bed, smiled and left the room. Sydney remained where he was, thinking over the remarks. Only one part of the comments jarred against his feelings. All over? Would this ever really be over? And what would life be like when it was?
* * * * * * * * *
Sydney sat beside the comatose figure of his brother as the first rays of the sun lit the room and pulled out a picture from his wallet. Unfolding it, his eyes looked down at the image of Catherine and Jarod, footage that was now almost six years old. He had watched that night as she had crept inside and provided the comfort that he was afraid to give. And now she was dead. And Jacob… He leaned over the bed and put his mouth close to his brother’s ear. “You were right, Jacob; you and Catherine. I swear to you, if somebody is doing something to him, I’ll find out.” Opening the door, he left the room.
Jarod fell to the floor as the simulation ended and refused to look up at the sneering face of the man above him.
“What are you waiting for? The day’s work is finished. Get back to your room.”
He turned back and glared down at the boy, lying prone on the floor.
“Please, help me.” The words came out in a gasp but the man merely sneered, turning and walking away. It was another figure that stepped out of the darkness and helped the boy to his feet, with an arm helping to hold him up.
“It’s okay, Jarod. It’s all right.” He smoothed his hair and wiped the sweat, mixed with tears, out of the boy’s eyes. “You’re safe. I promise you, you’re safe now.”
“Yes, Jarod. I’m here.”
“What are you…doing…back…?”
“I came to see you. I came to make sure you were okay.”
“Is he the one who came to you, the first time after I left, and of whom you were so scared?”
“Is he going to get the chance again…?”
The series of unanswered questions halted when Sydney picked the boy up in his arms and carried him out of the Sim Lab.
“Good morning, Jarod.”
The boy looked up from a book he was reading to where Sydney stood in the doorway of his room.
“Sydney!” The boy scrambled out of the bed and ran to hug the tall man. “Is this really mine? This room?”
”Yes, Jarod.” Sydney prevented himself from responding to the boy’s caresses and gently freed himself, remembering the discussion from the night before.
“What is it that you want to put to us, doctor?”
“I have a complaint to make, gentlemen.”
“What is the nature of this complaint?”
“Why was I not informed that Dr. Raines would have control of J…my test subject in my absence?”
“The doctor stated that he had consulted with you and that you had agreed.”
“That is untrue, gentlemen. We had no such discussion and I made so such deal and feel, in fact, that damage may have been done.”
“In what way?”
“The boy is hesitant before pronouncing his findings, nervous and less attentive when taking orders, as though he were waiting to be beaten or knocked around. I believe that, if this goes on, it may compromise the results that we make available to our clients.”
“And so what do you believe should be done?”
“In addition to removing him completely from Dr. Raines’ care, I feel that leaving the boy in his current environment is limiting his chances for further development. If he is given a wider range of stimuli - perhaps a larger living quarters, similar, I might suggest, to the room in which he sometimes performs his simulations, thus providing a further sense of continuity…”
There was a moment of silence, during which time Sydney wondered if he had overstepped the mark.
“Doctor, your request seems reasonable. Your subject shall be given the opportunities you have mentioned and we will see what chance he makes of them.”
Sydney blinked and brought his mind back to the present time to find Jarod showing him some of the nicer aspects of his new quarters. He smiled slightly to himself as he followed the excited boy around the room.
* * * * * * * * *
“Leiden. Dr. Wolfram Leiden.” Miss Parker looked back over her shoulder at Broots. “I think we found Mystery Man.”
“So this guy is - Leiden? So what’s his connection with Sydney?”
Miss Parker opened Sydney's file and proceeded to run a search on the name Leiden. The computer began to hum and Miss Parker rapped her fingers on the desk impatiently. “Come on, come on.”
“Uh, Miss Parker? You started a detailed search.”
“So, Sydney's file contains almost 35 gig of information, including his childhood and everything. And the search program looks through every variation of ‘Leiden’ including an abbreviated version of it.”
“So what are you saying?”
”A search like that could easily take up to twenty minutes, if not longer.”
Miss Parker glared at him. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“You didn’t ask,” answered Broots reasonably.”
Getting up from the chair, Miss Parker began to pace the length of the room.
* * * * * * * * *
In the hospital room, Dr. Eaton was silent and Jarod turned off the tape and pulled a photo out of the folder and threw it onto the table in front of him, wheeling it around so that James Eaton could see it.
“You know, you were right.” Jarod nodded at the photo. “I should have asked you about Rebecca. She was your daughter, after all. But then I would never have found out the whole story. I probably would never have learnt about your dependency on heroin, nor the fact that you use the money you get in grants to feed your addiction. I probably would also not have learnt about the way you do your ‘research.’ But maybe you don’t know me as well as you think you do. Out here in the world, no one feeds me information. I have to find it out for myself.”
Jarod picked up a sheet of paper and dropped it on the desk in front of the doctor. “What I find interesting is that, despite having a letter from the Centre informing you of my escape and asking that, should you have any contact with me, you let them know immediately, you never turned me over to them. Why was that, James?”
* * * * * * * * *
The night air was cool and the grass bent gently under its light breath. The lone figure sat with his knees drawn up underneath him as the images continued to bombard him from all sides with no hope of escape. He was completely alone, the stars shone coldly out of the cloudless night sky and the moon sailed blithely above him, slowly passing from one side of the sky to the other. His hands convulsively clutched at piles of rubble under his hands, cutting the skin and making it bleed. An owl alighted on a tree that acted as part of the field’s fence line and hooted softly into the cool night air. The figure on the ground made no movement - it was unlikely that the sound even penetrated his consciousness.
Barbaric images filled that imagination and tortured that mind as the man sat, his hands now clasping each other as though trying to drag the thoughts out of the depths to which they had sunk. The hours that passed meant nothing. What are hours when lifetimes are being contemplated? What is life when death itself ceases to have meaning? What is failure when that and its brother, success, are met with the same brutal rewards?
Slowly the sky began its daily metamorphosis - a chameleon-like adaptation to meet the golden ball of fire that will traverse its broad expanse each day. As if responding to a signal, the mind also began the gradual upward journey, out of the pit of fire into which it had sunk and towards that saving light. The gentle breezes whispered soft and comforting words to the one who had lain awake all night on the cold ground, his thoughts yet colder. Finally, exhausted, he drew himself up by stages, to his knees and then finally to his feet; standing to look over the long grasses that had been his bed and comfort. Energy was at its lowest ebb and yet, as the light became every minute stronger, the tide turned and a new and different type of power and determination could be felt to trickle and then flow through every limb. Finally the feet turned towards the road. It was time to continue…
* * * * * * * * *
James Eaton sat up gingerly in the bed and then, his thoughts briefly distracted, stared at his hands in astonishment.
“Waiting for the shaking to start, James - or the sweating - the way it usually does, a few hours after your last shot of heroin?”
Jarod waited for an answer that didn’t come. The two men sat in silence for some moments before Jarod extracted a used syringe from his pocket and laid it flat on the palm of his hand.
“It’s amazing what a little research can do, isn’t it? Nobody else knows about this discovery, James. I found it while performing a simulation during…let’s see now, when was it? Do you know, I think it was in 1968?”
“And do you know, James, who I was working for during that time in 1968? You, Mr. James Eaton. I was trying to discover a cure that would save your daughter’s life and found that in the process.” Jarod held up the syringe and examined the contents in the light before putting it back down again. “So tell me about her.” Sitting back in his chair, he crossed his arms and sat silently watching the doctor to speak. Finally the man broke the silence.
“I lost Rebecca in September of 1968. I was told that it had been impossible for a cure to be found and that, unless great advances occurred in medicine, there never would be a cure.” He swallowed painfully. “After her death - I just got so angry. How fair is it, Jarod, that a nine-year-old girl should die like that?”
“How fair is it, James, that a nine-year-old boy be asked to cure the disease and be blamed when he couldn’t succeed?”
“I never knew that you would get the blame for that. I never even knew who was working on it. How was I supposed to imagine that an organization like the Centre would use children to do their research?”
Jarod nodded. “No, you never really knew Dr. William Raines.”
“I never even knew his name. At least, I never knew it until I got that letter.” Eaton nodded at the piece on paper on which Jarod's hand rested.
“Yes,” Jarod picked it up. “What about this letter? Did you answer it?”
“At the time, I did. I said that if I ever saw you, I would let them know.” Eaton’s voice dropped. “That was in 1996.”
“September,” Jarod agreed.
“In 1996, everything was going as well as could have been expected. But you have to understand; in 1968, after Rebecca died, my life fell apart. My wife and I had been having some problems and our daughter had been the sole reason for us staying together. After she died, we separated almost immediately. My wife remarried within twelve months of the funeral - and I was introduced to heroin. It was great. I could forget everything for a while and pretend that life was as it had been. A few years later I gradually found the strength to wean myself away from the drugs. For my daughter’s sake, I studied medicine and became a researcher at Mayo. I’ve been here for almost thirty years. I should have retired years ago but I couldn’t. I kept hoping that maybe, one day, I would find the answer. Most of that work,” he nodded to the file that Jarod had on the table, “is my own research from several years ago. I shared it with my contemporaries and was proud of it, so proud. And then I was introduced to Julie-Ann…”
* * * * * * * * *
A computer’s electronic beep broke the thick and oppressive silence that had been filling the office for the past twenty-five minutes. Broots wiped a trembling hand across his damp forehead and was about to look down at the computer screen but found that Miss Parker was quicker. Her eyes greedily scanned the information provided and finally alighted on one item and she read the data aloud as though disbelieving.
“Sydney Michael Ritter and Jacob Alfred Ritter were subjected to tests under the guidance of Dr. Werner Krieg but under the direct hand of Dr. Wolfram Leiden for seven months during the period 18 September 1944 until 25 April 1945. The concentration camp Dachau was liberated by American troops on the 29th of April, 1945, at which time it was discovered that both aforementioned doctors, along with many members of their team and, more importantly, all of their results, had disappeared.”
Miss Parker resumed pacing and Broots took her place in front of the computer, his brow furrowed. There was a few moments of silence before Miss Parker turned and headed briskly for the door.
“W…where are you going?”
She turned around and looked thoughtfully at the computer and then him. “I know enough now. It’s time to find Sydney.”
* * * * * * * * *
“When I met Julie-Ann, I saw everything that Rebecca had been during the first few months of her illness. The new medicines meant that she was healthier for longer and I really thought I might have a chance to find what I needed and save her life. But I couldn’t do it. After she died, I hit a wall - and I went back to the drugs. Then I heard about her father dying and I thought that it was a sign that I would never succeed in saving people, no matter how hard I worked.” James blinked several times, staring hard at the blankets, and then looked up at Jarod. “Did you ever think that you could make everything okay? Fix all of the world’s problems? Of course you did. Young people always think like that. One day, Jarod, you’ll find that you can’t do it. You can’t make it all right for everybody. And then you’ll understand what I’m going through. And there’s always the problem of time. There isn’t enough of it in my life or in yours. One day you’ll realize that it just can’t happen. And then you’ll understand.”
The doctor’s mouth closed firmly and his eyes traveled from Jarod's face to the window, where a spring storm was raging outside, lighting the room with bright flashes and emphasizing the conversation by occasional growls of thunder.
“And me?” Jarod's voice broke across the silence in the room. “Where do I fit into the picture? You get a letter telling all about me. So will I leave the room and find a team of sweepers waiting for me? Or maybe the Chairman and a set of manacles, made to measure.”
“I need you, Jarod.” The doctor’s voice was an almost inaudible whisper. “I could have handed them over to you, but I need help. I can’t get over my problem this time. I’ve known, ever since Julie-Ann died, that my strength wouldn’t be enough to get over it on my own.” He looked back at Jarod, a pleading expression on his face. “Please, help me with this. If you do, maybe I can finally find something that will make sure that nobody’s daughter has to die any more.”
* * * * * * * * *
“And if I could have your passport, sir?”
Sydney slipped his hand into the pocket of his jacket, expecting to feel the firm booklet. Finding nothing, he felt through the other pocket and then opened his bag, rummaging through it. The ticking of a clock on the wall captured Sydney's attention for a fraction of a second and his awareness of the speed with which time was passing increased, as did his feelings of panic. Movement in front of him drew his eyes away from the bag and he looked up to see his passport being dangled there. At the same time, a hand came down on his shoulder and Sydney felt a strange sense of calm replace the earlier panic.
“Put a hold on that ticket. He’ll be back. Maybe.”
Sydney found himself being somewhat unwilling steered away from the counter and almost forcibly marched over to a nearby café, fortunately almost deserted at that hour. Miss Parker bereft him of his coat and hat, hanging both on a nearby stand before pushing him down into a chair and then taking the seat opposite.
“You look surprised, Syd. Didn’t you think I’d come looking for you?”
”Looking, yes. Finding, no.” Sydney's voice was cracked and harsh from the night spent in the chilly April air and, with one hand on his, Miss Parker turned and signaled the waiter to bring coffee. Turning, she pulled a stilled image from the tape made by Angelo out of her pocket and dropped it onto the table.
“I found out about him.”
Miss Parker shifted impatiently in her chair and tried to keep the frustration out of her voice. “Don’t play dumb, Syd. Dr. Wolfram Leiden. That is who you’re afraid of, isn’t it? That was what made you leave.”
Sydney sat silently, his eyes fixed on the image, as a waitress brought the mugs and placed them on the table. Miss Parker added several spoonfuls of sugar to one mug and stirred it. The movement brought Sydney out of the half-trance into which he had fallen.
“You don’t take sugar.”
“No, but you’re going to.”
Sydney made a movement in protest but Miss Parker pushed the mug in his direction and wrapped his hands around it. “For God’s sake, you’re hands are freezing and the rest of you is probably just as cold. It isn’t exactly the weather to sit around outside doing - what were you doing, anyway?”
Sydney shook his head. “It doesn’t matter.”
“You were thinking about him, weren’t you? What did he do to you, Sydney?”
He looked up at her. For a moment, hope flared in his eye but, like a match, lasted only a moment before dimming again. “I can’t tell you.”
“It wouldn’t be fair.”
“To you or to me?” Miss Parker looked at him, one eyebrow raised questioningly. “It always helps to talk.”
Sydney nodded slowly. His eyes studied the pattern of the table in a silence that gradually became longer and longer…
“Jacob and I used to wake up every morning and look out the window to see what the weather was like. Even once we arrived in Dachau, we still used to look out every morning. But instead of the weather, we used to look at the barbed wire. And we used to look and see which guard was on duty outside the barracks. We learnt early on which guards were nice and which weren’t. Once we learnt that one of our guards had twin boys at home in Berlin. He told us that we reminded him of them. He used to do a lot of nice things for us, like let us visit the rabbits that they kept there so that their fur could be used. But then, one day, somebody saw him taking us there and knew that it was against orders. We never saw him again.”
Sydney ran a hand through his hair, not noticing that his hands were flecked with dots of blood. Miss Parker's glance was caught by the tiny specks of red and followed them for a moment before bringing her gaze back to the wide and tormented eyes that focused on the table before her.
“One day we were walking - Jacob and I - to the rooms where the doctors were waiting for us. Our guard was somebody new but we had heard rumors about him from some of the other prisoners that he was somebody to be feared. This day we walked past a group of people, lined up in rows. The guard, walking behind us, made us stop and watch what happened next, keeping his eye on us to make sure that we didn’t close our eyes or turn away. I don’t know what pleasure he can have derived from making children - that is all we were - watch the more horrifying crimes of which people are capable. Then…” Sydney trailed off and his face paled. He winced as though in pain and a spasm constricted the corners of his mouth, yet his eyes remained dry.
“Then what?” Miss Parker's voice broke through the silence and arrested the tormented man’s attention.
“Then? Then the men in charge of the group pulled several men out of the line, made them turn and they, like we, were forced to watch. Guards went along the lines and the doomed men had to count, in German, aloud and together. One guard paced along the lines of prisoners. Every time the men reached the number ten, the guard would turn and shoot, in the nape of the neck, the man he was standing behind. Then the prisoners standing out of line would have to start again. Eins, zwei, drei, vier; it went on for nearly half an hour. And then my brother and I were beaten for being late to the tests that day.
“They liked us. We were the perfect Aryan children with only one flaw - there was the chance - at least they feared - that we would become like our parents.”
“What had they done, Syd? You never said that they had done anything except work and live for you.”
Sydney shook his head sadly. “I didn’t tell you everything.”
“I shuffled and equivocated.” Sydney looked down at his hands, his lips twisted in a half smile before he sighed and then glanced up once more before speaking again. “My father was a German burgher and my mother a Flemish farmer’s daughter. They met in Germany and married there but, when Hitler took power, my father decided that they should leave. They moved back to live with my mother’s family and Jacob and I were born several months later. It was very peaceful until 1938, when Hitler invaded Austria. My father remembered what had happened in the Great War and decided that it was likely Hitler would invade Belgium next. Having made friends with some of the people from the area who were also wary of the Nazis and everything they stood for, my family decided to leave. My father had brought his entire family out of Germany with him and they, as well as we, had lived with the parents of my mother but the four years had taken all four of them from us and now it was only the small group of I, my brother and my parents who gathered together one hot summer day and left the country of my birth.
“We arrived in Lyon and my parents bought a block of land and immediately my father built our home and established us in it. Although it seemed outwardly that we were content and peaceful - and, indeed, Jacob and I were - my parents were watching the actions of Nazi Germany with fear and gratitude that they had left the country to which my father belonged. Then Hitler invaded the Western parts of Europe.” Sydney stopped, passed his hand over his mouth to stop his lips from trembling and looked down at his hands, staring down at them as though they were in some way dissociated from him. “On that day, the 10th of May, 1940, Jacob and I had been playing in the fields near our house. We came home that night to find my parents sitting in the kitchen with the group of people who had accompanied us from Belgium. My parents had the newspaper laid out on the table in front of them. Some of the women in the room were crying. My own father was crying. I had once seen him break his arm and he didn’t cry then. But the thought of France yielding to the terrors of Nazism was enough to make him cry. However Jacob and I, as we lay in bed that night, heard them talking about whether they should join the resistance movement, as they had been invited to do. That was the day when two six-year-old boys became enemies of the National Socialist state.
“My parents had moved to Lyon believing that the Nazis would be less likely to go there than anywhere else, if they invaded. The Resistance - the Free French movement headed, for a long time, by Charles De Gaulle - was created almost as soon as France was invaded and my parents were co-opted. The area around Lyon managed to hold out for a long time against the ravages of Nazism. For two and a half years, until November 1942, Lyon was able to continue, pretty much as usual. But we couldn’t help hearing what was happening in the world outside. One day a man, battered and bruised, came stumbling into town. He had escaped, he told my parents and the other members of the group, from a camp away to the west - a place called Dachau. He told us terrible stories about the things that went on there; the fact that people were beaten and even killed for no reason and that people were shipped in cattle trucks with no food or water for days. I didn’t want to believe that people and things like that even existed. Jacob tried to make me listen to the things that he heard this man telling our parents but I refused to hear what he said. It’s ironic, really.”
“Ironic?” Miss Parker's voice sounded strange in her own ears, strained and hoarse.
“Ironic that, in 1942, I should not want to hear what he told me about the things that the Nazis were doing, only to have to face it only months later. And then, exactly twenty-five years later, to have an identical situation exist when we argued about the Centre. I never wanted to face the truth.”
Sydney fell silent, emotions no longer able to be kept at bay. His head sank down so that he was looking at his feet, tucked under his seat, and two tears dropped down to sit, glistening like diamonds, on the table in front of him.
“In 1942, on the 11th of November, Germany took over Lyon and incorporated it into ‘the Greater German Reich’. Almost a year before, in December 1941, Hitler had issued a decree he called ‘Nacht und Nebel’ or ‘Night and Fog’. It was a method by which those people who opposed the system of National Socialism could be gathered up from occupied territories and sent to one of the many camps that were springing up all over Europe. When Lyon was finally occupied, the process of collecting the opponents of the regime swung into action. Because of the fact that they had two small children, Greta and Jean-Michael had never been permitted to play a large part in the process. De Gaulle had already fled to England by the time that Klaus Barbie, the head of the ‘Nacht und Nebel’ program, came to the small farmhouse outside of Lyon, on the 14th of April, 1943.” Sydney stopped for a moment and then continued, unaware of the fact that his narration was changing from the first to the third person and back again. “We were at dinner the night that they came; a special dinner - it was our ninth birthday. My father had just said grace when the door burst open and a group of men with guns entered the room. Without protest, my parents stood up. Mother took a chance to grab jackets from hooks near the door and, on a whim, Klaus Barbie actually let her do so. I learned later that somebody was shot when they tried to do the same thing elsewhere. We were marched out of the house and I remember that my father took one look backwards over his shoulder to see the building he had constructed himself. I have often since wondered whether he knew that he would never see it again.”
Sydney buried his face in his hands and a small groan escaped from his lips. A third tear slipped from between his fingers and dropped onto his jacket but its mate was hidden in the palm of one hand. “We were loaded into the back of a truck that was parked down the street. As we got used to the darkness, we could see that some of the other occupants were, like us, people who had fled from Belgium. My father was about to say something but one of the other men surreptitiously placed a finger on his lips and nodded in the direction of a man who sat with his hands pressed between his knees, looking out of the back of the truck and into the darkness. The man mouthed the word ‘spy’ and my father nodded. After that, we all sat silent and unmoving.”
“Why would the Nazis have put a spy in there with you? I mean, they knew you were working against them…”
“Of course they knew, but they wanted as much information to use against any members of the Resistance as they possibly could. Any details they could get might help them to destroy the movement itself. We often had such people with us when we were traveling, but they never learned anything from my parents. You have to understand, Parker, just how comprehensive the whole anti-Resistance system was. They had spent years refining and improving on their existing processes and, by 1943, they were experts. Their expertise extended to the regular use of normal citizens, sympathetic to their cause, to denounce other citizens. The only way that people could avoid being found out and captured was to do what De Gaulle did - flee to England.
“We spent a night in the truck outside the railway station. The next morning we, along with the occupants of other trucks that had pulled up during the night, were ordered out and into the station. I will never know,” Sydney continued softly and thoughtfully, “why we didn’t cry out or make a sound. There were people passing that station all the time. Only twenty-one members of the SS guarded us, a group of almost 100 people! If we had stood up to them, we might have had a chance to get away. But we would never truly have escaped.”
Sydney looked up, his mouth twisted in a bitter smile. “Where would we go? The Nazi spider with the crooked legs - or so we learned to call it in the camp - had stretched all over Europe. How would we know who to trust?”
Miss Parker nodded, silently acknowledging the truth of his statement. For a moment they both remained silent, feeling the power of the words that were coming from Sydney's mouth.
“In a way, we were lucky. The ride to the camp was only a short one. We were only in the cattle car, all 100 of us, for two hours.”
“Surely it takes longer than that to get to Dachau.”
Sydney shook his head. “Our first camp wasn’t Dachau. We were sent originally to a camp called Natzweiler-Struthof, a camp close to Strasbourg. There were a few children there and, for some reason, they never gave us numbers while we were there. I suppose they didn’t think it was worthwhile. In fact, all of the children lived in one barracks together. There weren’t too many of us and so we had a bed shared between only two of us. It was comfortable, too, with a clean straw mattress in each bed. We had the chance to clean our clothes and ourselves quite often. Also, bread and other food was allocated per barrack and not for each occupant, so we received more than the other prisoners. It really didn’t seem that bad to us but both Jacob and I could see that our parents were suffering. They never told us what happened to them during the time in that camp but often they would be hiding bruises or trying not to limp when we saw them. Within the first month at the camp, my father’s hair became almost completely white and my mother’s went gray. Whenever we could, Jacob or I would give them some of our bread. That situation of near-bliss - especially compared to what came next - lasted for five months.
“One morning, just as the first rains were beginning to fall after a hot summer, all of the children were gathered up in a group and marched back to the railway station near the camp. Most of the children ran to parents, including Jacob and I, but I saw that one of children, a little boy of only three, had no one that he knew. I suppose now that his parents had been killed but then, in my innocence, I asked my mother if he could come with us as, obviously, his parents would be coming later. Possibly having some idea of what would come next and not wanting to make either of us upset, she agreed. I picked him - a child by the name of Josef - up and brought him over to where we were waiting for the train. Only a few seconds later the group, accompanied by the yelling and shouting that we had almost become accustomed to, were herded into the wagons. That journey was terrible.” Sydney stopped for a moment. “The roof leaked and there was only one bucket for everyone in the whole wagon to use. After only a few hours it was already full and we were unable to empty it in any way. Puddles had begun to appear on the floor and gradually increased until almost the entire base was covered and most people were standing in several inches of cold, filth-ridden water. Although we spent several days in that wagon, most people never lay down to sleep. A few did, and most of those never got up again.
“I forgot to mention earlier that there were two trains waiting at the station. One was for the men and the other for women and children. Jacob and I were considered old enough to travel with the other men. My mother and Josef went in the other. I was picked up and shoved into the cattle car and ended up near a window. My father picked up first myself and then Jacob, allowing us to see through the small space that my mother was also able to look out. I waved at her frantically for a few seconds and then was put down. That was the last time…” Sydney swallowed painfully and stared at his hands, unable for a moment to continue. Miss Parker could see that what he had to say next was worse than anything else and that had already been bad enough. “That was the last time I ever saw her. She and Josef were sent to Mauthausen and, so I was later told, gassed immediately because of the fact that she was carrying a child. I sent my own mother to her death by insisting that we bring Josef with us.” Sydney's voice shook and the last words came out as a harsh whisper but his eyes remained dry. “The other train, ours, arrived at Dachau several days later. We stumbled out of the carriages and stood around on the platform for some seconds. We were being divided up into groups when I saw a man in a clean and neatly pressed uniform come striding towards us. My father had made sure that Jacob and I stayed with him and, by chance, we were dressed in identical outfits. He came over and asked my father if we were twins. Without hesitating, Father said that we were. Turning to a man who stood behind him with a board, on which he was taking notes, this SS officer read aloud my father’s prisoner number and then took each of us by the hand. As he started to lead us away, we both fought to get away. I think we both heard the last word that our father ever said to us. Nein. No. He wanted us to go because he thought that it would be the best chance for us to survive, and he knew that he probably wasn’t going to.
“This SS officer told us that his name was Dr. Werner Krieg and that we would be very helpful to him. Neither of us understood at the time what he meant. He led us from the main entrance gate and down the middle of a tree-lined street between rows of buildings. We were taken into a building with a large number eight written above each of the two doors. We passed a room where the walls were lined with toilets and then through a room that contained lockers and then into a room containing rows of three-tiered bunks. The men in the room were all standing at attention while several members of the SS looked at all of the beds and the floor and windows. One of the SS men came over to the doctor and asked, very respectfully, if there was anything he could do. Dr. Krieg said that he had finally managed to get a set of twins but, at the time, there was no room in the building where he was working. Thus, he wanted to find a bed for us. One of the prisoners, when ordered, stepped forward and said that there was space on one of the top bunks. The doctor ordered him to make sure that we were given the things that we needed and then left us there. This man kept us beside him until the SS men left and then, almost kindly, showed us where we were to sleep and, in the other room, which locker we could put our things into, explaining, as he did so, that there would not usually be an inspection at that hour but rather in the morning instead. Almost half an hour later, when the lights were turned off, Jacob and I spent the night clinging to each other, wondering where we were and what would happen to us.
“The next morning we met the person who would be kindest to us during our time at the camp. His name was Henri. On that first morning, he gave us a package containing what seemed at the time like a small amount of bread. Of course, later, we would discover that that had been a very substantial amount, but it was only about half the size of the palm of my hand. At six o’clock that morning we were called out to the Appellplatz for roll call.” There was a moment of silence. “Can you imagine it, Parker?” Sydney's voice became soft with an expression almost of wonder. “There were almost 100,000 prisoners at Dachau by September 1944. Can you imagine a square filled with 100,000 men, all wearing prisoner’s rags and standing at attention? And those 100,000 men were crammed into a space meant only for 5,000. It was amazing and I had plenty of time to admire it. That morning, the count was two people short. We had to stand on that square for almost three hours until finally two SS guards went into one of the barracks and dragged out the two missing men. Both were dead. They had died in the night and the block leader hadn’t noticed. We continued to stand there while one of the guards pulled the block leader out of the line. He was set upon by a group of seven SS men. They only stopped when he was lying, unconscious and bloody, on the ground. Next, as though nothing had happened, they allocated various people to work in different areas and a guard came and led Jacob and I away from the square.
“We were taken into a building. Dr. Krieg was standing there with another man, both of them dressed in white coats. He turned and angrily demanded to know why we were so late. The guard explained that roll call had taken longer than normal and the doctor declared that, from now on, we were exempt from roll call. He explained to us that, when everybody else went out, we should stay and wait for a man to come and collect us and bring us to block 5. Next, he explained that, so the doctors could tell us apart, we would have to be numbered. We were, he said, the only children in the camp and, for this reason, very important. The fact that we were twins made us even more special. Despite the fact that our parents had attempted to betray the Reich, he hoped that we would never try to do such a thing and had been brought to Dachau to make certain of the fact. It meant, also, that we would hopefully atone for the crimes of our parents by helping the Reich to create perfect people. He picked up to white pieces of material, on each of which was written a number. Calling in a prisoner from another room, Dr. Krieg watched as this man gently sewed the numbers onto the backs of our jackets. Then, sending the first man out of the room, Dr. Krieg called in another, who pulled up the right sleeve of our jackets and tattooed the same number onto our arms. I still remember that I hardly felt the pain. I was more shocked by the fact that it could happen at all. A third man came in and attached a red chevron - an upside-down triangle - to our jackets and, above that, another white patch containing the number that was engraved on our arms. Then another guard was called. He came and led us back to the block. It seemed that they weren’t ready for us and had to set things up before we could be beneficial to the Reich.” Sydney's voice was bitter as he finished the sentence.
“Back in the barracks, we found Henri. To this day, I don’t know why he wasn’t at work with the others but it was possible that he had to stay behind so that we wouldn’t have a chance to escape. We didn’t have to wait too long until the same guard reappeared and, dragging us down off the bunk where we were waiting, brought us back to block 5. Dr. Krieg was there again. He gave our names to another man who stood there, also in a white coat. Then, turning, he walked out. The other doctor nodded at the guard and then picked us up and placed us on a long table. He explained that his name was Dr. Wolfram Leiden and that we were going to be his special subjects. He said that we would play games with him and that the results of those games would be of great importance. Of course, the games weren’t quite what boys of ten imagine that they are going to be.” Sydney fell silent, opened his mouth as though he was going to say something else but evidently thought better of it and closed his mouth again without further explanation.
“I suppose, eventually, we started to get used to the pain. They continually took blood from us, trying, as I once heard, to work out what made us to special, both being twins and having Aryan blood in us. We had been in Dachau four months - tests day in and day out - when a flood of people began to arrive. In the weeks prior to their appearance, rumors had been circulating of two great events: the defeat of the German army in Russia, with its associated rush of the Russian army towards Germany itself; and also the landing of troops on the coast of France. Then, one day, we began to see lines of figures appearing on the hills, marching in the direction of Dachau. People who left the camp daily to go out and work, either in the gravel pits, or the moor express, or, and this was the most preferred option, in the munitions factories began to tell stories about these people - that they came from other camps further east and west, that the lines had been ten or twenty times longer when they had started but that many hundreds had died or exhaustion or had been shot when they couldn’t keep up with the others, or that the lines had been strafed by American and English planes. It was also about this time that Jacob fell ill.” The color had drained from Sydney's face and, as he made this last statement, he stopped speaking and bit his lip. Slowly a red drop began to grow between his teeth, swelling slowly and eventually slipping down his chin and dropping onto the table where it shone like a ruby on the dark wood.
“With so many newcomers to the camp, the beds were filled with ten or more people at once. It made sleep impossible, no matter how exhausted people were after working all day. And with these people came vermin - lice and rats. So many lice, in fact, that when newcomers took off their clothes, the items would move of their own accord. The SS tried to disinfect the blocks - after all, they didn’t want to get sick themselves - and ironically they used Zyclon B; the same gas that they had been aiming to use to the prisoners of the camp. Not that it worked, though. The numbers of vermin continued to grow as the numbers in the camp grew. Thousands arrived every day but thousands died every day too. Finally there reached a stalemate. Bunks were filled to maximum capacity - and the food rations we received every day started to decline. By now, of course, it was more obvious every day that the German army was going to be beaten. Still the work went on. The crematoria burned day and night. And Jacob and I managed to escape from the overcrowded blocks.
“I told you that he was sick. At the end of March, he developed typhoid. We were almost immediately separated. Jacob was send to the infirmary barracks and I stayed in Block 5. It was also about now that the tests stopped, too. One morning, the day after my 11th birthday, I waited to be brought from the room that had been set-aside for the two of us - now occupied only by myself - to the testing room. Nobody came.” Sydney smiled reminiscently. “I waited for two whole hours in that place.”
“How did you know that it was so long?”
Sydney shook his head, amazed at himself. “I thought I would have mentioned it before. There were days when Dr. Leiden would be in an absolutely terrible mood and would beat us or knock us around. On other days, he would be like a father to us. He knew, for instance, that the 14th of April was our birthday. On that day he gave me a present and told me that he also had one for Jacob. When I opened it, I found a watch. It wasn’t only that, though. Often, before he would inject us with something or take blood, he would give us chocolate or bread. It was wonderful to have things like that. Before we got moved out of the barracks, we could use it to buy other things like warm socks or a toothbrush. And we were, as Henri told us on the first morning in Dachau, under good protection. It happened, of course, that one morning one of the guards founds the things that we had ‘bought’. You have to understand that having extra things, other than that handed out at the start of time in the camp, was forbidden. Still, the guards knew that barter with items from the camp stores went on. It was completely understood and, oddly enough, welcomed. Often, during the morning, a search would be conducted. Guards knew of any places that people could hide things in the barracks and went to these places to find the treasures that prisoners had for themselves. Well, one morning a guard had just managed to find the hiding place that Jacob and I had created for ourselves, hiding the soap and other items that we had ‘bought’ with the extra food we got from Dr. Leiden. He had just gathered up the items in his hand when the doctor himself appeared in the doorway, with several other guards behind him.
“Dr. Leiden rounded on this guard and demanded that he give back the items that he had taken from us. I remember seeing several of the other prisoners, who had been jealous of the ‘special attentions’ we received and who had been thrilled at seeing our hoard uncovered - who had, in fact, probably been the ones who told the guard where it was - stand with their mouths open and a look of shock on their faces. It was usual for anybody to be allowed to keep their illegally gained property and they couldn’t believe that a Nazi doctor was standing up for us. To be quite honest, neither could we. I’m certain to this day that Leiden knew what was going on. There wasn’t a great deal that he missed and I think that was the reason that the room in Block 5 ‘suddenly’ became available for us. But Jacob only had a few weeks to enjoy it with me. As soon as he got sick, Dr. Leiden insisted that he be moved. They used to test me every day to see if I would catch it. When I didn’t, I remember once hearing them mention ‘innate immunity’. The tests redoubled after that day until they stopped the day after we both turned 11.
“That morning, after I had waited for a long time, I opened the door to my room and stepped out into the hallway. Through one of the windows, I could see snow lying on the ground and I remember looking down at my shoes - given to me on the order of Dr. Krieg soon after we arrived - and seeing that they were held together by means of string that I had ‘organized’ just before leaving the barracks. The only person that I could see was a guard I had got to know very well. In fact, as the only children still at the camp in 1945, we were often treated exceptionally well by the guards. I went up to this person and asked, in my best German, if I could go and see my brother. He was hesitant and said that he didn’t want me to get sick as well. I reminded him that I had been sleeping in the same room as Jacob when he got sick. The guard said that that was true and then, quickly, escorted me the few hundred meters to the block where he was. There were no SS men in the block at all, or any nurses taking care of the sick. Actually, I should say, the dying. Most of the bed I passed contained not people but bodies. When I found Jacob, he begged me to help him get out of there. I still don’t know whether what I did was right or not but I agreed to help him. We snuck out of the block together and, somehow, managed to run over the deserted ‘street’ together. When we finally got back to our room, Jacob fell onto his bed and coughed so much that I thought he was going to die then and there. I pulled the blankets off my bed and covered him with them. Then I wandered through the deserted block for most of the rest of the day. There wasn’t much left. Fortunately for me, the other doctors that remained were not in the building. I never knew where they went but they managed to mingle with other SS guards until the Americans arrived, twelve days later.”
Sydney's eyes filled with tears and he swallowed several times before he was able to speak again. “That was such a great day. We had been living, especially in the last few days, on rumors and gossip - that the camp would be destroyed, that the Americans would bomb it before they arrived or that the SS would blow it all sky-high as they left - and then, finally, the Americans came. The camp’s resistance movement had secretly been making flags from each of the more than twenty-five nations represented among the camps inmates.” Sydney's voice lost some of his excitement and lapsed back into sadness. “I didn’t think that Jacob would live to see it. After he came back to our room, he got worse and worse. When one of the American doctors came to see him, the day after liberation when the medical teams arrived, I could tell that he expected him to die.”
“But he didn’t.”
“No. We were lucky, in a lot of ways. The extra food that we had been given by Dr. Leiden gave him enough strength to fight the disease. Perhaps, if the Americans had taken longer to get there, he might have died anyway. However, thanks to God, he survived. We left Dachau in July, after finally being given the all clear by the Americans after the quarantine for the many illnesses suffered by people in the camps was finished, and made our way back to our house in Lyon. You know what we found when we got there.”
“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.”
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.
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.
* * * * * * * * *
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.”
“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…
* * * * * * * * *
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.”
“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.
* * * * * * * * *
“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?”
“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…
* * * * * * * * *
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.
“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…”
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.”
“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.”
* * * * * * * * *
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…”
The figure walked along grass, feet making a temporary indentation in the ground that vanished almost as soon as it was created. The world was dark and the person could see nothing of what was around him. However the wind that had started off as a pleasant whisper was growing into a great roar and, away to the left, a grand crashing of waves could be heard. If the individual walked too close in that direction, a gentle spray of water could be felt that mingled with the tears that were now found to be rolling down the cheeks in streams. On into the darkness walked the form, unable to see or be seen, able only to hear, feel and experience emotion. Finally the storm that had been building high overhead broke and, at the same instant, the figure stumbled and fell…
Lying on the ground, struggling to regain breath and repress emotion, the figure looked up as the first flash of lightening illuminated the sky. Another one stood next to the first, eyes shining out of the darkness and reflecting the flashes of light that were blinding. The second figure held out hands to help the first to their feet and finally the two stood, face to face. After a time that could have been a few moments or a few centuries, the two began to walk, continuing in the direction that the first had been travelling. Neither spoke, although there was a lot to be said. Neither cried, although there was a lot to be felt. Finally they stopped, their feet on the edge of the cliff that led down to the water, an infinite distance below them. Spray came from the crashing waves below and gently dampened their faces, allowing their hair to shine in the lightening.
The storm gradually began to die away in the indeterminable time; the flashes of lightening become less frequent and less brilliant, the thunder becoming softer and less angry. Finally, all was still and dark. The two faced one another again, unable to see but still knowing that the other was there. As they stood, a single beam of light broke through the thick band of clouds and shone onto the waves of the ocean below them. In that beam was a single boat, badly battered by the storm, its sail hanging in rags, its mast broken but still floating on the waves that had been so brutal but were becoming gradually more gentle and caring.
“What is it?”
“That is Hope.”
“And what is Hope?”
“Hope is what you cling to when there is nothing left.”
“Does Hope always exist?”
“Hope always exists.”
In the dim light of Hope, the two could see each other. Defects and lines were washed away by the faintness of the glow, leaving only the pure and innocent, the young and untainted. The second figure smiled and, as it happened, the clouds broke apart again and the moon sent her own beam down on to the two figures standing there.
“And what is this?”
“This is Love.”
“Love is stronger than Hope?”
“And does Love always exist?”
“Love, like Hope, always exists, even if you can’t see it at first.”
“And what is the darkness?”
“The darkness is Pain. It contains both Hope and Love that help to assuage the problems caused by Pain.”
“And what are the clouds?”
“The clouds are Despair. They block out Love and Hope.”
“And who are you?”
“I am Courage.”
“What is Courage?”
“Courage is that which will lead you through Pain and Despair to find Love and Hope.”
“Are you always here?”
“I am here when you ask for me. When you need Courage, I will help you find the other things that you seek.”
“Did I ask for you now?”
“Your heart did.”
“And what is my heart?”
“Your heart is Determination. Determination when combined with Courage can do anything and can take you anywhere.”
“Can Determination help me to escape my past?”
“No. Determination will help you face your past. That is what it is for. When you face your past, then and only then can you really be free."
In the darkness of the room, the figure stretched on the bed, the mind still caught up in the vision that had been created there. Outside, the trees bent under the gentle breeze that seemed to whisper great secrets. The sky was clear and black, stretching on for miles and miles. The world was still and unmoving, as though awed by what existed in itself. The moon shone in through the window, revealing the figure as it lay, arms wrapped around itself, comforting and holding itself. Time passed slowly and the figure remained unmoving, its face peaceful at rest for the first time in so long. It lay, face wearing no expression, until, slowly, a smile began curling its lips…
To all those who suffered under the Nazi regime, the author hesitantly dedicates this work in the hopes that it will not offend…
* * * * * * * * *
1My cry goes up to you, O Lord, my Rock; do not keep back your answer from me, so that I may not become like those who go down into the underworld.
2Give ear to the voice of my prayer, when I am crying to you, when my hands are lifted up to your holy place.
3Do not take me away with the sinners and the workers of evil, who say words of peace to their neighbors, but evil is in their hearts.
4Give them the right reward of their acts, and of their evil doings: give them punishment for the works of their hands, let them have their full reward.
5Because they have no respect for the works of the Lord, or for the things which his hands have made, they will be broken down and not lifted up by him.
6May the Lord be praised, because he has given ear to the voice of my prayer.