Bombs whistled in the air. My nostrils became enveloped in the lingering scent of gunpowder and the ashes burned my eyes into a bloodshot red through the cracked door. My mother was sleeping on the boiling floor that shook with each bomb, and I realized that I had awoken.
I jumped from underneath the blanket and grabbed my satchel, ready to go to work.
“Mother,” I hissed, “Get up. You need to eat.”
“Adler go get dressed,” she said as I looked down at my bloomers.
I found a pair of decently clean trousers among a wet pile of gray and brown clothes in the corner of the room. By the time I’d gotten them on, my mother was up and about as she shuffled around to find me a cloth to cover my face.
“Here,” she said throwing me a pair of dingy, brown socks, “rip them into cloth for your face.”
“Okay,” I replied as I wet the socks to further protect my face.
“Twelve Reichsmarks for milk. Now, go to work,” she said as she tousled my short, sleek, black hair.
I leaped out the door of my tiny grey shack. The brown socks smelled pungently of turnip and gruel as I covered my mouth and nose. The bombs continued to whistle in the distance and I looked around for something to eat. I walked down the street thinking about how to finish my article in the paper.
I began to run when I caught a glimpse of the Gestapo’s dogs. Their dark green fur covers every inch of their thin, skeleton-like bodies and was only broken by their bright red eyes. Those who’d been attacked by the dogs said that their eyes are red because of the blood they’d feasted on. All the dogs’ victims who’d lived had called them “the blood-eyed dogs.”
I watched in horror as the dogs were biting and clawing at a little girl who writhed and twisted as dark red blood ran down her face.
“Help me!” she cried in a broken German, as though it were one of the first times she’d spoken it.
I turned my head as I saw an older woman walked out of the market. Her neat black bun was undone as she was pushed away from the little girl. The girl’s yellow Star of David clattered on the ground around the dogs until there was a silence.
The girl’s mutilated body laid still as the older woman kneeled over the girl and sobbed. The girl’s eyes seemed to be stapled open as the dogs licked her limp body. The Star of David broke with a morbid crunch under the officer’s glistening black boot.
I walked over to the woman and comforted her before seeing the bread in her bag.
I shouldn’t take her food, I thought, but she won’t need two loaves if her daughter is dead. I grabbed the bread and quickly leaped back when the blood-eyed dogs snarled at me. I bolted down the cobblestone streets and coughed as the bombs continued to go off. The Gestapo realized what happened and sprinted after me.
The tall, slender, pale officer yanked me back and dawned a look of surprise. He muttered something to the shorter, more muscular officer who looked up at me in utter shock.
The officers yanked the dogs away from me as they motioned for me to follow them to their car. I was thrown into the car and we began to drive.
The car rattled and shock as we drove across the bomb lands. The small number of trees there had all turned into a discolored white or gray. Once we got out, the grass crunched and cracked with each step we took. I gaped at the building that proudly stood before me.
“Walk, junge,” the tall, pale man spat as he shoved me through the grandiose black doors.
I continued to look around the large building. And was completely awestruck by the photographs and paintings of Herr Hitler. A short, old woman walked up to me and took me by the hand.
“Are you,” she said hesitantly as she looked down at her notes, “Adler Schmidt?”
“Yes, ma’am,” I said in a deep voice
She knocked on the door and a frail man’s voice spoke before we entered
“Do you have the boy?” the voice asked
“Yes, Herr Hitler,” the old woman answered.
“Eingeben,” he beckoned.
The woman pushed me in the room and slammed the door on her way out.
I glared around the room that was surprisingly large for a man in a dirty blue bed. The glossy wood floors created an echo with each step that I took, and the arched window let the smallest amount of sunlight in to reveal smudges all over the bed frame
“Adler?” the frail man hissed
“Sir?” I said back
“Sit down,” he said motioning to the chair next to his bed.
My footsteps continued to echo as I made my way to the chair. I was in shock to see who’d laid before me.
“Are you?” I gasped
“Hitler?” he said with a deranged smile, “yes, I am.”
The hem of his white robe and his greying toothbrush mustache shook as he laughed at my look of surprise. That, however, was nothing compared to what happened next.
I watched as Herr Hitler’s laugh turned into a wet, hoarse cough and extended my hand in an offer of support. Instantly, however, he waved it away.
“Stand up, junge,” he commanded between coughs.
“Should I be worried, Herr Hitler? Did I do something wrong?” I asked in a rushed voice
“No, no,” he laughed, “is it wrong for a dying man to want to meet his son?”
“Y-your what?!” I yelled
“Adler,” he said warmly, “when we won World War Two, I realized what was happening. I could rule Germany, Europe, even the world, but I couldn’t do it alone. I realized that I wanted a family.”
“So, you raped my mother?” I interrupted
“Once your mother had found a way to tell me that she was pregnant, I decided that I didn’t want that kind of commitment,” he retorted
“Which explains why I didn’t have a damn father?” I seethed
“Son,” he began.
“No,” I screamed, “you don’t get to call me ‘son’ or ‘junge’ or anything else. You do not know me. You are simply a man who assisted in my creation and I do not need you to be here for me!”
“Adler, I don’t care that you don’t need me,” he replied coldly, “but my doctor says I only have months to live. When your mother sent me a picture of you, I had the Gestapo on the lookout for you. In a few months, you will rule all Nazi territory according to my will.”
I backed away from the bed and walked to the door. I stared at a man who I’d only known as my leader until that day.
“Adler,” he spat, “stay!”
I violently shook my head as I delicately placed my hand on the brass knob. It shook and writhed as I took it out of my pocket, sweat running out of its pores. I looked at Hitler with cold eyes as I felt myself becoming increasingly pale.
I opened the door and ran down the winding tile hallways to the front door. My footsteps echoed with each step I’d taken. I panted as the blood rushed back into my face and my hands were clenched into quaking fists as I sprinted down the sterile marble hallway. I heard the echo of Hitler’s frustrated screams as I opened the grandiose wooden door that led to the outside world. I walked down the dingy brown cobblestone street. My ears were drowned in howls from the Gestapo’s dogs as I began to run again.
I ran into town to get to work – and away from Hitler - I ran into several people, and they were okay. Suddenly, I ran into a red-headed woman around my height with lively hazel eyes. Her camera and books clattered on the cobblestone as the chatter around us broke; I was immediately I was on my knees, still listening for the dogs.
“Oh God,” I said bashfully, “I’m so sorry.”
“It’s alright,” she replied in slow German.
“You’re not from Germany, are you?” I asked slowly.
“No,” she said as her fingers moved in the shape of a country, “France.”
“That makes sense. I haven’t seen many redheaded people in Germany,” I laughed.
“Hmph,” she said passive-aggressively, “well if all German men look like you, I should go back to France.”
“Wow! That was harsh,” I exclaimed.
“That was the nature of the French,” she replied slyly.
“So, what are you doing in Germany?” I asked brushing strands of hair from my face.
“Well, I’m a journalist who was transferred here. France belongs to Nazis, so more propaganda photos for me,” she said, “I’m looking for A Germany without Hitler.”
The sheer sound of Hitler’s name was enough to send me into a blinding rage. My whole life, I had despised what he’d done to Germans and Nazis alike, but now I’m expected to follow in that man’s footsteps.
“Doesn’t exist,” I said.
“It’s a newspaper, I hear,” she retorted.
“That’s not what it’s called,” I said, showing her my badge.
Luckily, she understood that I worked at the newspaper and that she had to say the code on my badge.
“Sandwiches without bread,” she muttered
“Meat and tomato,” I hissed back
“So, Germans don’t have lettuce?” she snickered.
“Too expensive for me,” I joked back.
She and I walked to the office as more Gestapo officers started to attack the Jewish boys in the school group behind us. This woman was obviously very experienced journalist because she whipped out her camera and took photos of the brutality.
A short, skinny officer stepped up to her and shoved her to the ground; The taller officer pointed his handgun at me.
“Down!” he shrieked
I laid on my stomach as the officer kicked me in the ribs. Warm bile crept up my throat as I watched the young woman get beaten by the Gestapo. I forced the officer off of me and backed away.
The taller officer looked at me and screamed, “Who do you think you are?!”
“My name is Adler Schmidt.” I hollered back, “Herr Hitler was looking for me and I was taken in this morning.”
The officer waved his hand commanding the short officer off the young woman. She looked up with twinkling eyes and mouth agape, obviously in awe about what she’d just seen. She crept back from the officers and got up. She turned around and continued to walk with me for a few more minutes. Abruptly, she collapsed into me.
“What happened?” I panicked
She tapped her knee, so I slightly lifted her dress to reveal a deep, rich purple bruise. It was oozing blood down her leg. I reached into my satchel and felt around for my first aid kit.
“I think it’s broken,” she cried, “Adler, it’s broken.”
“It’s not,” I replied soothingly, “you’re bending it and the bruise will heal.”
I tightly wrapped the bruise in the bandage I had in the container.
“There,” I said, “do you think you can walk?”
“I don’t know,” she winced as she let her leg bend, “but I’ll try.”
“Well, ma’am, you know my name,” I said, “what’s yours?”
“I’m Isabel,” she said, “Isabel Roux.”
“Roux?” I asked
“Yes,” she hesitated, “why do you ask?”
I simply chuckled and chortled at her name as I smiled, “Roux as in red? As in redhead?”
Isabel rolled her perfectly round, hazel eyes.
“Yes,” she scoffed, “as in redhead.”
“That’s a bit strange,” I wheezed between laughs
“Honestly, it’s not that funny,” she said pompously.
I helped Isabel to the doctor’s office next door to the paper. She winced with every step she took, and I was promptly forced to take her by the arm and help her walk. As she continued to wince, her long, gray fingernails dug deeper into my wrist. I was in immense pain, but I felt obligated to help her, as she would soon be working with me.
“Thank you, Adler,” she said we limped to the doctor’s door
“It’s not a problem,” I winced, “but you might want to consider cutting your nails.”
She gasped at the sight bleeding wrist and apologetically winced. She glanced at the nails on her left hand and saw the hint of red on the gray polish.
“I’m sorry,” she said, “but I do love the color blending it did.”
“Blending?” I repeated
“Oui,” she replied, “my nails are a bit wet.”
“Dammit,” I muttered as I took out the antiseptic from my bag, “now I’ve got to disinfect the wound more than usual. I can’t be wasting supplies like this.”
“I’m sorry,” she said yet again
“It’s fine,” I glared, “I’m going to work.”
I showed my badge to the receptionist and began to walk inside. The haunting sound of whistling bombs began to play, but I thought it was in my head. I then heard Isabel scream when a small green ball hurtled toward her and landed.
The grenade blew a gaping hole in the doorway of the doctor’s office. I had pushed away Isabel from the explosion. Her round face was a pale green as a little boy’s hand twitched underneath the rubble. In it was a small brown bear clutched ever so tightly. A gurgling sound came from his chest as the light drained from his eyes and a cold sweat crawled down his face. A little girl about his size was behind the front desk and sobbed. I walked over and kneeled next to her.
“Hi,” I cooed, “I’m Adler. What’s your name?”
“Emma,” she sniffled.
“Is that your brother?” I asked
Solemnly, her head lifted from her chin and put it back down, letting tears streak down her face.
“Well, what’s his name?”
“Luka,” she sobbed, “he was my twin.”
“Ah,” I said, “was he a good brother?”
She nodded solemnly fighting back tears and glancing at her brother. Her tears ran down her dark red blouse as soot settled on the ground.
“He was the best. He helped make sugar cookies for us on our birthday because the cake is too expensive.”
“Well, Emma, he sounds very nice. He’ll be okay if he is the best brother,” I soothed as I rubbed her shoulder.
“I promise,” I replied, “now go to the back. It’s not safe here.”
She crawled away as the slender shadow of a man stood in the doorway. The shadow tossed another grenade as I scooped Emma up and brought her to the back.
“Keep her safe,” I said to the doctor
He nodded, and I rushed back out to a pile of rubble.
Out of my peripheral vision, I saw the silhouette of Isabel as the man threw another grenade in her direction. I grabbed a letter opener off of the floor and rushed toward him, letter opener in hand.
“Stop!” I yelled.
The man turned in my direction and flailed as I jabbed the letter opener into his thigh. I stabbed him again in the hands as he fell. His Nazi armband was illuminated by the hint of sunlight that peeked through billowing clouds of smoke.
I grabbed Isabel, who was running across the street to an empty pub. We rushed through the door and barricaded it with the barrel of whiskey behind the counter.
We heard panting and running footsteps outside. A woman was walking around outside in a similar uniform to that of the man.
“Who did this?” she yelled, “Who killed my partner?”
Her words reverberated around my head.
Killed, I thought, Had I really killed a man? Isabel glanced at me, a glint of terror in her eyes. She couldn’t believe it either.
We heard the woman run again, but we weren’t sure why until we heard the hoarse, low growls of the blood-eyed dogs.
The doors burst open with a crash as the whiskey poured on the floor. It all happened so fast, but I remember a snarl, a slam, a scream, and darkness.
A flash of white light illuminated the pitch-black room in which I was being held. writhed and squirmed to no avail because of the heavy leather restraints.
Clobbering footsteps approached me through the sliver of darkness that was still in the room. I looked down at my arms, which had deep purple bruises in the shape of hands.
What the hell? I thought as the light reached full brightness.
The room was full of light and I managed to place a body in the footsteps.
“Hello again, Adler,” a chillingly frail voice said
“Hitler?” I exclaimed, “what have you done to Isabel? Where am I?”
“Please, Alder,” she said sinisterly, “call me Vater.” “No!” I howled, “No!”
“Ok,” he replied calmly, “but would you do it for your new friend?”
A light came on next to me to reveal Isabel, gagged and hanging by her arms. Her weary eyes met mine and she screamed and kicked as a man came behind her with a blade.
“Adler,” Hitler resumed with a malevolent smile, “you must meet my demands as your leader.”
“Why would I do that?” I asked as I focused on Isabel’s hanging body.
Hitler gestured his hand to the man behind Isabel. The blade swiped across her back and she let out a blood-curdling scream from behind the gag.
“Isabel!” I screamed as I jerked and twisted in the chair, “Stop, please!”
Hitler let out a sadistic, maniacal, sickening laugh at her pain, as well as mine.
“Meet the first demand,” he spat.
“Vater, stop, please,” I reluctantly begged.
“Good,” he retorted, “but now you must meet the second demand. Ask your little girlfriend why she’s really here.”
“What do you mean?” I asked, “she’s here to work at the paper.”
“Remove the gag,” he told the man.
Isabel gasped for air through tears once her gag was removed
“Adler,” she began
“Did you lie?” I seethed, “Why are you really here?”
“I came to work at the paper,” she said.
Hitler gestured to the man, and the blade ran down her legs. Another unbearable scream escaped her lips.
“Tell the truth!” Hitler roared
“Adler, please forgive me,” she sobbed
“What have you done?” I said
“I’m a covert operative from France who was sent to kill Hitler and any other possible leaders,” she blurted through sobs
Hitler’s menacingly cold gaze fell upon me with the same sinister grin.
“Would you like Vater to release the restraints?” he teased
A boiling rage rushed to my skin I was writhing and twisting, shrieking and screaming, all from what I’d just seen and heard.
“Let us go, bastard!” I yelled
He walked up to Isabel and snatched the blade out of the man’s hands. Isabel writhed and twisted in the air as he cut liar into her shoulder.
“Adler, I’m sorry!” Isabel cried
“Why should I believe you, Isabel?” I growled
“Because I love you, Adler!” she said.
“You what?! I just met you,” I replied.
“I’ve kept tabs on you for years,” she explained, “you’re funny and smart, not very athletic, but fast. Adler, I know you better than you know yourself.”
“Stalking, lies, and rouses is not what love is you bitch,” I spat.
“Adler, I’m sorry!” she cried
“Vater,” I said coldly, “I’m ready to accept your last demand.”
“Really?” he asked excitedly, like a young child on Christmas morning.
“I’m ready to take your place.”
Hitler released the hefty leather restraints from around my wrists and ankles as he led me down a dimly lit marble hallway. We paused at a small, grimy window, and Hitler’s sinister grin returned.
“As of today,” he sneered, staring sadistically out of the window, “this is all yours, Adler. You now rule Nazi Germany.”
I was blinded by rage towards the lies I’d been fed by a person I believed I could trust. Isabel’s betrayal rung in my ears as we crept down the hallway, but I had an inkling that this was wrong. As a 20-year-old, I shouldn’t be leading several countries; it’s not right.
“Are you certain there isn’t training or something I need to take before all of this?” I asked hesitantly
“No,” Hitler replied brusquely.
We paused yet again at a small wooden door with a gleaming brass knob. I turned the knob to find the source of the rampant scuffling behind the door. There were a group of armed young boys going through my bag.
“Hey!” I shouted, “what’s going on?!”
“Adler!” Hitler barked, “those are our volunteers. They were taking care of your belongings.”
He slapped a guard sleeping in a rickety iron chair, who woke with a snort and a grunt. Three rapid pops came from his handgun, the young boys all fell with a thump. “They shouldn’t have rifled through the bag, however,” Hitler politely stated.
I realized that this wasn’t something I should do; it had been done purely out of spite and rage towards Isabel, but I couldn’t leave her there to die.
I snagged the gun from the man’s frigid hands and ran back down to the frightening black room in which I’d been held. Isabel was still hanging by her wrists and screamed she heard my footsteps. Hitler screamed after me and I soon heard the blood-eyed dogs’ hoarse, grating barks. I cut Isabel free and carried her to the hallway.
“Adler, what’s going on?” she panicked
“Isabel, I’m sorry for getting mad, but I’ll give you a choice now,” I said abruptly, “You can kill me and run to fulfill your mission or let me live and leave with me.”
Her bloodied hands grabbed the gun I’d held out to her.
“I love you,” she said one final time, tears rolling down her soot covered face.
A shot rang out and scared the dogs off as my eyes opened, my ears ringing from the shot.
“Dammit! Why didn’t you shoot me?” I whined, my eyes burning
“Because,” she replied with aplomb, “I shot him.”
I turned as she gestured to Hitler, the copper bullet wedged in his forehead. The window crashed behind us as one of the dogs jumped out, either scared or catching a hint of Jew, as Isabel raced down the stairs.
The uniform thudding of Gestapo boots was coming in my direction and I stood, paralyzed. I knew I’d much rather die than be forced into Hitler’s abhorrent hierarchy. I leaped the banister if the staircase and landed softly on the hardwood.
The monumental oak door pushed open with a sigh as the wintry air nipped at my scarred, bare hands. My arid mouth was unexpectedly warm as wind whipped my tousled hair while I plodded up the dirty cobblestone streets. I ran as I saw Isabel’s fiery hair amongst a sea of bland blacks and browns and blondes, but her head then dropped and the crowd around her scattered.