A cut on his head was bleeding, the blood running down between his blue eyes, which were swollen and bruised. His blond hair was a sticky, dirty mess. Dressed in just an under-shirt and pale pants, he was stripped of his uniform, but not of his dignity.
He was my reflection. I was tied to a cold metal chair, my arms numb and my wrists bleeding from the ropes. The room was cold. The concrete floor on which my bare, cracked feet were planted was like ice. A dirty, gray, brick wall in front of me was interrupted by a one-way mirror. I was surrounded by walls on all sides, the reflections told me that. But there was also a door to the right of the mirror, an old, splintering, yet stable wooden door. It was locked from the outside. I knew they were in there, watching me. Though I could not see any cameras, I was sure there had to be one somewhere.
My name is Baldric, and I was a prisoner of war.
I was a pure-blooded German, a Nazi, a soldier, and a loyal follower of our great Fuhrer Adolf Hitler, and I had been captured by a British patrol while sneaking across their borders. My job had been to go in and assassinate the British commander, but I had failed miserably. They ambushed me and I barely had enough time to spit in their faces before they beat me half to death. When I awoke, I was in that cold room.
I was afraid, but I was not going to show it. I was a German, one of Hitler's chosen men! I was not going to show any weakness.
After a few moments, the door clanked unlocked, and a man walked in the room. He seemed to be of medium rank, though he wore no uniform.
He looked at me with disgust and shut the door. I heard it lock behind him. He walked over to me and stood directly in front of me, towering over me as if hoping to intimidate me. I had been through far too during the war. I was not afraid of that man.
"Do you speak English?" He asked slowly, squinting at me.
He had blue eyes. It shocked me at first to see that, but then it angered me. He had no right to wear the eyes of the Germans! I spat in his face. He flinched, and it filled me with delight. He wiped off his cheek with a white gloved hand before striking me in the face. I winced but did not cry out. He would have to do much more than that to make me squeal.
"gehen Sie zum Holle!" I hissed at him.
He struck me again, harder. I felt my teeth grind together and blood filled my mouth as a tooth split away from my gums. I swallowed it so he wouldn't see.
"You do, don't you?" He snarled at me.
"Deutschland uber alles!" I sang.
He punched me in the jaw, and my lip tore open and began running out with hot, hot blood. I stared up at the man with hatred and amusement, licking my lips. I could tell he was getting frustrated with me. So soon, too. I admit, I was a bit disappointed that he was such a quitter.
"das Fuhrer wird ewig Regel." I told him confidently.
I could tell he understood me by the wrath pouring into his eyes. He reached behind him and grabbed a riding crop from the back of his pants. He raised it up, a wicked grin spreading across his face. I did not turn away. I gazed up at him coolly, daring him to do it.
And he did. He swung down and brought the crop across my chest, ripping open my shirt and cutting into my flesh. I tensed up and leaned over slightly, holding my breath. Then I sat back up and flickered my blue eyes up at him.
"Feigling," I goaded him.
The crop whistled through the air. He struck me again, then again. My legs were bleeding now. The man's hot breath made my fresh cuts sting. His anger was growing. He was upset that I had not succumbed to crying out. He raised the crop again, and it dripped with my blood.
"Enough," Said a stern voice.
The man whirled around. A British general stood in the doorway. He wore his uniform with pride. I could tell by his manor that he was a man greatly respected by his men. I was ashamed I had not heard him come in.
"I will take care of him." The General interrupted.
The man nodded, saluted, then left the room quickly. The door shut behind him.
I stared at the General curiously. I wondered if his approach would be any more different. He stepped up to me and knelt down so that we were at eye-level. His eyes were milky brown. Though my vision was fuzzy, I slowly realized that this was the man I had been sent to kill.
"What's your name, son?" He asked me calmly.
Ah, so that's how it was going to be. I could tell he knew everything about me just by looking at his face. He appeared amused and regretful at the same time. He knew I could understand him.
"Baldric." I answered.
He smiled easily. "Good," He stuffed his hand in his pocket and pulled out a wad of paper. "Can you read English?" He asked.
He unfolded the paper and held it out to me. It was a map, a faded, yet very detailed map of the border area.
"Can you read these places?" He pointed at various points on the map.
"Ja," I replied. I knew those grounds well.
"Good, now can you tell me what you were planning on doing?"
"Ja, I can," I said. He nodded happily. "But I won't." His face fell. He looked twenty years older.
"Don't you want to make this as quick and painless as possible?" He asked. "If you cooperate with us, we will let you go! Not back to Hitler, of course, but we can give you some money and send you to America."
"Nein. No." I said stubbornly. "Unlike you British hogs, we Germans are loyal to our leader."
The General scoffed. "What leader? That mongrel just has you all brainwashed! You're his slaves!"
"Being obedient does not make you a slave. We are servants and soldiers, willing to die for our Fuhrer. It is an honor to die for das Fuhrer!" I retorted hotly.
He frowned at me and stood up. "Fine." He said at last. "If that is how you want to play it, then let us play."
Bending down, he pulled a knife out of his boot and caressed it gently with his thumb. A small line of blood appeared. The knife was extremely sharp. He looked at me darkly and pointed the knife at my throat. I felt a slight prick, like an ant bite or a bee sting, as the tip of the blade poked into my skin. I sat completely still. If he was going to kill me, then I would die with my honor. Only cowards beg for their lives.
He looked down at my arms, which were tied behind chair. He walked slowly, deliberately, around to the back of the chair. I sat still and quietly, gazing into the mirror, seeing the General bend down. He began messing with my hands, and I let him. He untied my hands, then tied one hand back to the chair, leaving the other one free. He then walked back around to face me. His boots clunked dully at each step. My neck began to itch where the drop of blood was drying. I resisted the urge to scratch, moving my right arm around, stretching it, bringing it back to life. The General watched me for a moment, then held out his hand.
"Give me your hand," He ordered.
I studied him for a second, then offered him my hand. He snatched it up and held it tightly by the wrist with his right hand, the knife in his left.
I watched him calmly as he brought the knife down to my fingers. I kept them perfectly still, determined not to show alarm or fear. With the edge of the blade, he carefully slide the knife under my thumb nail, cutting into the skin and the nerves. I winced slightly and gritted my teeth against the sharp pain. My thumb began to bleed profusely, streaming down over our hands, making it warm and slick. My muscles spasmed and my hand twitched: The knife went in deeper. He suddenly seemed to go into a rage, and he dug into my thumb with the point and jerked it around violently until the nail was torn away from my skin. My thumb nail followed the river of blood and hit the concrete with a soft, wet sound. My chest was tight and my legs were stiff, struggling against the pain. It felt as if he had torn off my entire thumb, though I knew better.
He pulled the knife away and let my hand go. My arm slapped into the hard metal chair, going completely numb for half a second. I raised my arm slowly and let it rest in my lap, watching the General with a bitter expression. My thumb dripped blood into the floor with a wet, tinking sound.
"Baldric, is it?" He asked after a long minute of eerie silence.
"Ja, it is." I answered easily.
"Well, Baldric, if you don't want to feel that kind of pain on every single one of your fingers, then I suggest you tell me what I want to know. Right now." The General snapped, flicking the knife at me for dramatic intention, my own blood flying off and dotting me in the face.
"No danke, General," I said. "As much as I'd enjoy keeping my fingernails, I simply refuse to tell you anything." I looked down at my hand, wiggling my fingers slightly. My thumb was on fire.
The General jerked my hand roughly and stabbed into my index finger with the blade. He missed my nail, striking straight into the bone in the knuckle, but I don't think he minded. The breath caught in my throat and my head spun with sudden nausea, but I didn't move or make a sound. Then I felt something very strange, and I watched as the top two knuckles of my index finger dropped to the ground. I couldn't stop staring at it, even as he rammed the knife into my middle finger. This time he went for the nail, digging into the soft flesh with the blade. He drug it on forever, the whole nail-tearing thing. He would pause at every cut, every stab, looking at me, waiting for me to speak up. But I did't. Then he completely sliced my pinkie off, just out of irritation, I believe. My hand was a gushing, nasty, disgusting mess. Blood was everywhere, all over him, all over me, and all over the floor.
He was panting and sweaty by the time he let my hand go. I still hadn't uttered a sound. He looked at me with wild eyes, bewildered and angry that I hadn't cracked. He struck me in the side of the head with the butt of the knife before walking over to the door and knocking once to be let out. He left, and I was semi-alone, once more. I moved my arm around and stared at my hand. It was quite repulsive to say the least. And painful, did I mention painful? The door banged open suddenly and another British man walked in. I could tell he was a very low rank. He turned green at the sight of all the blood. He skittered over to me and very quickly grabbed my hand and tied it back around the chair. Nervously, he stood up and walked to the door, slipping in the blood and catching himself against the mirror. He left a hand-print of my blood on the dark glass. He rushed out of the room and the door shut once again.
I was in there for a few hours. My blood continued to drip into the floor. Eventually a massive clot formed, and scabs began to grow over the wounds. My whole hand throbbed with pain and misery, but I slowly grew used to it, or perhaps the pain was merely subsiding. Three men in simple brown garments came and untied me and shoved me along a narrow hallway. I passed by a few rooms, but all the doors were shut. At the end of the hall was another door, and one of the men opened it to reveal a dark staircase. I went down. As I went down, the temperature dropped at least twenty degrees. A lantern was lit nearby, and I followed the rays of light until I found the source. A man was sitting at a table, in front of a iron cell. He stood up when he saw me and the other men, and he opened the cell door. Then I realized I was going to be staying here for awhile.
"What?" I looked at the twitchy youth who was standing the doorway. He saluted me and I waved at him dismissively.
"Sir, we moved the German captive down to the cell like you asked." He said, each word louder than the last.
I stared at him tiredly. "Very good, Private." I turned away.
"Sir, I'm... I'm a Corporal, sir." He said uncertainly.
"All right, Fine. You're dismissed." I grunted.
He saluted again and marched out of the room. I sighed and gazed around my office. Files and stacks of paper were everywhere. This war was putting a great strain on my nerves. That German, that Nazi, Baldric, he seemed more trouble than he was worth. Though I wanted to know more than anything what he was up to, I was starting the think that perhaps putting a bullet into his skull would solve my problems much faster.
A week went by and I lived in the cell without food or water. I had a bed, but it was stiff and had hardly any cusioning, and no blanket or pillow. It was freezing down there, and the air was stale and dry. I began growing weary and thin. By the second week, I thought I would die. However, the man I was supposed to have killed, the General, came down to see me.
"Good morning," He said pleasantly, sitting on the table in front of the cell.
I nodded respectfully but said nothing.
"How are we feeling today, hm? A bit thirsty, are we?" He mocked me.
"Ja, a bit." I agreed, my voice cracking.
"Well, I happen to have a canister with me. If you're thirsty, you can have it." He held up a good-sized canister, shaking it lightly. I heard the water slosh around inside.
I stood up and walked over to the bars, reaching through with my left hand. I had torn part of my shirt off to make a bandage for my right hand, and all the padding rendered it just about useless. I kept it behind my back. My left hand reached, but couldn't reach far enough. The canister was just out of reach.
"Ja, please, General." I said stiffly, my fingers straining just to touch the bottle.
He unscrewed the top and tilted the canister. Water began to flow out, spashing onto the floor and making a dirty puddle. I stood there watching dejectedly, lowering my hand. He chuckled and screwed the top back on and handed me the canister, which was more than half empty, now.
I took it quickly, but drank slowly, savouring the cool liquid.
"You want to tell me what you were doing out here, now?" He asked.
"Nein," I replied.
Suddenly he snatched the canister from my hand. His face was red with anger.
"Tell me what the hell you were doing out here!" He shouted, throwing the canister to the ground. The water spilled out and was ruined by the filthy ground. I hesitated, then looked at the General.
"I would rather die than tell you, Sie Sohn des a Hure!"
His eyes narrowed. "That can be arranged!" He snarled.
He yelled for the guards, and soon four of them came down and gathered behind him. He ordered them to tie me up, and I didn't resist, not even when one of them punched me in the stomach. They tied my hands behind my back and tied my legs so that I could still walk, but not run. Two of them stood behind me and then one on each side. The General smirked, standing in front of me.
"What do you have to say for yourself now, German dog?" He asked hatefully.
"My only regret is that I did not finish the task I was sent out to do." I answered sorrowfully.
The General frowned and turned away, walking back up the stairs. "Come along!" He called back to his men.
The men shoved me forward and I went with them quietly. I knew that at each step, I was getting closer and closer to my death. I was not afraid to die. You won't mind dying once you've seen what's on the other side. Even if it's something terrible.
That German scum was going to pay for his stubbornness!
I led my men up the stairs and they followed me loyally. I wished that he had told me what I wanted to know. But I suppose you can't win every battle. You just have to be prepared for the war.
I led them outside to the camp ground and stopped by the side of the building. It was a sunny, yet chilly day. I was glad I still had my uniform jacket on. I had put on a gun-belt before I went down to the cell, in case Baldric had tried to do anything. Too bad he hadn't. I fingered the gun metal of the gun, watching as my men sheparded the Nazi over to where I stood.
He just stared at me. It made my stomach tighten the way he was looking at me. His eyes were so blue... they really stood out, since the rest of him was such a dirty, bloody mess.
"On your knees," I told him. My four men stepped back automatically. They knew what came next.
The Nazi boy knelt down slowly, so he wouldn't fall over. His hands and feet were still tied. Still, he looked up at me as if he was expecting something. I frowned at him, perplexed. I wondered vaguly if any of my men would have been as loyal to his leader as this Baldric guy was. I wondered if I could have been so loyal. I took out my gun and cocked it suddenly, to chase the thoughts out of my head. I pressed the barrel of the gun into the German's forehead, and my finger found the trigger. The gun went off, and a spray of blood erupted behind him, coating the wall. He slumped over onto his side. I truely believe that he was not afraid of death, but he should have been. Everyone knows Nazis go to hell.
I put away my gun and went back inside, telling my men to clean up the mess.