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Short Story

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Through the navy-tinged skylights Johan could see the darkness gradually fading. He had finally ceased to experience fear and was overcome by an overwhelming feeling of weariness. Nevertheless, rich ecstasy had at last triumphed over the harsh years of agony. He took a deep breath and smiled. THE BOY Changed was the boy who was forced only two years ago from the little Polish village of Koszalin. His once boisterous adolescent body, overflowing with an indignant energy had been gradually replaced by a mere bag of bones, without muscle or fat, and contained only in a thin layer of gaunt skin. Johan's soft black hair had been shaved off to expose his naked scalp the first day he arrived at Auschwitz, and had since refused to grow back. His fine grey eyes had lost their mixture of innocence and gentleness, and his delicate mouth, with its expressive versatility, had hardened like the black hearts of the German officers who imprisoned him. Johan drifted about as though he was in a constant trance, and upon first impressions, one would have thought him to be sleepwalking. He had no friends or close acquaintances, and made no corrections when people would label him as arrogant or a misfit. Johan was visibly a black sheep amid a flock of pure white. ...read more.


Now that Johan's father had succumbed to the hellish flames of the incinerator, he was without a family and seemingly without a soul. His limbs, numb with cold, despite the incessant labour, his throat parched, famished, breathless, on he went. What Johan kept living for was mystery to even himself. THE PLAN Today was the day. Light came through the cracked window, trickling morning all over the ominous room. As usual, Johan slept the sleep of the restless, the sleep of taunted memories, of cold, unspoken misery, of bitter winter. But most of all, intoxicated with sadness, he slept the morose sleep of broken youth. However, he was not to sleep for much longer. Roused by the harsh sounds of the monotonous bell, Johan rose from his tattered bunk only to find his forehead bathed in cold sweat. Another morning. He had survived to see another day of destitution, another fleeting sunrise, another forgotten death. Over the dreary prison quarters the clear sky shone pale azure with the vast orb that was the sun, concealed and out of sight. Johan wandered outside and joined the long cue to receive his daily breakfast ration of tasteless, watered-down, black coffee. He looked awful. His nails where like talons, and the skin on his arms and legs, where the rags failed to cover his body, was peeling off in shreds. ...read more.


The words came from a faceless shape, approaching rapidly from the path that led to the guard's quarters. "COME OUT YOU BASTARDS! COME OUT NOW AND YOUR DEATH SHALL BE SWIFT!" With not a second to lose, Johan had to make a decision. If he were to remain concealed, the six or so prisoners that hadn't yet escaped would undoubtedly be shot dead, if not cruelly tortured. The voice of reason in Johan's conscience urged him to self-preservation, to forget about the prisoners who had only ever shown him disdainful contempt, to turn away. But the voice of compassion was louder and Johan did not heed reason - instead he leapt to his feet and ran. "GO! QUICK, GO NOW!" Sprinting past the bewildered remaining prisoners and heading in the direction of the faceless voice, Johan's whole body and manner had been suddenly transformed. He had adopted the air of an unquestioning attacker and had allowed the adrenalin that pulsated through his delicate veins to engulf his entire body. The whole world was gliding past him - his lost hope, his charred past, his soon-to-be extinguished future. He ran as if he would never run again; straight into the face of death. Stopping himself in front of the prison officer, Johan struggled to catch his breath as he took a one last moment to gaze at the heavens. He inhaled a deep breath and smiled. Johan was whole again. The snow continued to fall in thick flakes over his corpse. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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