The border: separating love from hate and life from death.

More chapters from Night Side of Dark

A VG Serial: Night Side of Dark

Episode 54

Man is forever confronted by borders, those thin, imaginary lines drawn in the dirt, more likely across his mind, always fading in and fading out, separating here from there, hope from desperation, love from hate, black from white, today from tomorrow, light from dark, life from death. He runs and the border traps him. He escapes and fights to get back.  The border stands in his way. It was with him, then against him. He inhales here and exhales there. Night lingers on one side of the border, day on the other. Borders are walls and barbed wire and gravestones where man leaves his name, his day of birth, and little else. A border stands between the hope of being remembered and the reality of being forgotten. He leaves the trace of his footprints on both sides of the border until the winds come and erase them. None of the footprints ever last long enough.

Ambrose Lincoln had reached the border.

He lived there – separated by lies and truth.

He understood the lies.

He did not trust the truth.

Truth had told him too many lies.

It had been midnight for twenty-eight minutes and sixteen seconds when the train reached the border and came to a grinding stop, the glow of sparks ignited by rusty wheels complaining on rusty rails. Thick, foreboding clouds masked the stars in the sky, and the sight of a moon was a distant memory. Lives had begun and ended since the moon had touches the snows of Germany.

Lincoln stepped down from the train.

Celia had fallen to her knees.

The moans that passed from her lips were not unlike a kitten in pain, a whimper that fell from the throat before dying.

She was dressed in rags.

Her blonde hair was streaked with dirt.

Blood had dried on her lips.

Her eyes with wide with fright, pleading for someone to save her and realizing that she had been discarded and left to take her place among the condemned. Everyone faced such a moment. Few faced with bare feet buried deep in the snow.

Celia’s hands were bound with chains.

Lincoln held the chains tightly as he watched the miserable dregs of society stumble to the ground.

The train was throbbing in the night cold..

Smoke was acrid and thick enough to suffocate them all.

The passengers marched one after the other to the gate that separated Poland from Germany.

Men.

Women.

Sleepy.

Dazed.

Frightened.

Children did not know why they should be scared.

But their mamas and papas did.

So they were scared as well.

An old woman was moaning, or was it a song?

Another was praying.

No one listened to the song.

Lincoln doubted if anyone heard the prayer.

The wind silenced them both.

Lincoln stepped toward the gate, dragging Celia behind him. He was dressed in the uniform of a German infantry Major, a size too small for him. But, in the dark, no one would notice.

He was betting on it.

He was betting his life.

The black leather boots with ox hide souls hurt his feet, but he would get used to it. He pulled his black wool visor hat with white piping down to hide his eyes.

Celia screamed and fought the chains.

Her body was trembling.

He ignored her.

The guards at the gated snapped to attention and saluted when they saw him approaching out of the night.

“Sieg Heil,” they said.

“Sieg Heil,” Lincoln said harshly. He returned the salute.

One of the guards leaned down for a closer look at Celia.

She spit in his face.

He slapped her.

She spit again.

The guard kicked her in the ribs.

She crumpled to the ground.

He laughed.

Lincoln laughed.

“Who’s the girl?” the guard asked.

“Partisan.”

The guard arched an eyebrow.

Lincoln searched his memory to phrase the German words just as Celia had taught him while the train roared through the polish darkness.

“You know Pulawy?” Lincoln asked.

The guard nodded.

“You heard about the bridge exploding?”

Again the guard nodded.

“The girl set the dynamite,” Lincoln said.

“Why is she still alive?” the guard asked.

“She will die slowly,” Lincoln said. “She will die in the Gendarmenmarkt with the world watching.”

“The Gendarmenmarkt is in ruins.”

“She and those like her are the reason.” This time, Lincoln slapped Celia, and a spray of blood and spittle covered his boots. “She will be an example of what we do to traitors who foolishly attempt to stand against the Reich.”

Her shoulders sagged.

She was crying.

“Does she have papers?” the guard asked cautiously. There was a quaver of nervousness in his voice.

“The girl does not need papers,” Lincoln barked. “She is in my custody.”

“May we see your papers?” the guard asked. He was even more cautious now, treading on ground that might be dangerous. His eyes glanced from the insignia on the hat back to the Major’s face.

Lincoln stared at him.

Hard.

His dark eyes flashing.

His jaws were clenched.

The Major was choking back anger.

He had sworn to kill the girl, the eyes said.

He might kill anyone, the eyes said.

His eyes were those of a serpent

The guard turned away.

There were others to consider, others who were not wearing the rank of Major on their shoulders, others who were out of place and trying to escape from home or to home or wherever the guns were no longer firing. Most did not belong in Germany, and he began to cull them out, one by one.

Lincoln and Celia walked past the gate and onto the empty streets of Dalldorf. Somewhere behind them, on the edge of a forest, a man who had once worn the uniform lay beside the track.

By morning, he would be encased in a grave of new fallen snow. With the rains, it would turn to ice.

No one would find him until the spring melt.

Chapters of Night Side of Dark will be published on  Saturday and Sunday.

Please click the title, Night Side of Dark, to read more about Caleb Pirtle III and his novels on Amazon.

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