Excerpt for ASCHEMORGEN: A Novel

Christen’s finger taps nervously- or by pinched nerves– against the steel snare of his MP-44 assault rifle’s trigger guard.

Standing in illusory consciousness before the musty assembly of fifty neglected Jewish women and children, Sturmbannführer Michel Weils eyes Christen and his three adjacent squad members from behind as they tote their rifles in omnipotent ascendancy mulling between their victims’ lives, latent death, and the imminent numbness. Christen cannot battle that numbness while looking into the sea of hopeless faces, or he will burst into a fit of angry tears. . . .

New York’s skyline stretches into a despondent cloud of apt smog; the blinding palor of the backlit-vapor causes the skyscrapers to materialize like hellish columns from their nonexistent crests down to silhouetted stubs of black pillars, ashen ground and lead waves. Christen follows these distant columns from across the harbor down to the sudden image of a petite brunette child carrying what seems to be her mother’s vacant shoe against her striped shirt, cradled by both arms. A gaze of despairing reminisce shrouds her young, rotund face with a lonely grimace as she stares at the ground… as if to wish away the sudden-appearing firing squad and petrifying shock of her older Jewish blockmates who join her.

Christen does not want to move on from this moment. He does not want to know what will happen next. He cannot imagine the caprice thoughts of the prisoners in this group; foreign killers terraforming their isolationist utopia into a jailed hell. Hell, besides the risen guns, disappearance of their family men and tales of horror from across the quiet ocean, Christen wonders if the prisoners can even comprehend what is happening as Herr Weils bellows to his Nazi litter of dogs and examines the familiar detainees before issuing his imminent order to shoot. God-damn it. The Major confers aloud to his comrades, as dumb-founded prisoners listen, in German.

“Hopefully after this day, the rest of the women from Block D will discover what it means to revolt…”

Arrête de charrier Christen screams in his native French mind, knowing that most of these innocents had no hand in the prominent September 24 Revolt [leaving a Private strangled and several unarmed weapons temporarily stolen]. Seeing as gaunt as they are, Christen knows that this is no punishment for the crime, rather, a mass slaughter of malnourished, over-worked, unloved human beings.

“…leave them where they will lie for the day to come. Make these braves an example of the consequence of malfeasance against our just third Nation.”

The faces, some now in heavy wailing, stare and search for some sort of hopeful elucidation beyond the guns at the lanky Major before he issues his final, English-rendered order. Christen feels his heart sink as his drawn-out breaths stir heavy eyes and profound ache in his chest and head.

Fire.”

The demonic barks of gunfire rattle and shake, ripping through the thin bodies of the tousled women and little children. The sound of overpowered screams and quaking flesh echo under the streaks of hot metal and suppressed booms of raw, physical evil.

Christen remembers the frozen countenances haunted by disbelief and shock and pain staring awe-struck into the icy sky that afternoon; he wishes that the blood which dampened the painted ground were of his own, and the bastard pig of a Sturmbannführer, if he even carries any life in his veins.

He wants nothing more than to give that now-limp frame of the little girl holding a shoe again her mother, her happiness, her life; he can only pay tribute with violent heaves and self-condemnation in his woolen bunk, now lying hundreds of meters away from her unsheltered and rotting carcass, with her lifeless friends and relatives heaped under the gelid dark sky of the unforgiving autumn night, hoping that by some grace of her Semitic Deity she now rests with all. . . .

ASCHEMORGEN

________

Sometimes, I don’t think I can write this. It takes too much strenuous patience and tolerance to imagine the horrors of Holocaust.

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