Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Concentration (07/24/08)
TITLE: A Remnant
By Michael Walker
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The fat Nazi guard that the prisoners had nicknamed " the Toad" had rousted them from the barracks an hour earlier; two hundred souls in this group of Jews, some had survived for the past 4 years, while others were new to the camp. Now, with the rumors flying that the Americans and the Russians were closing in on every front, no one wanted to be the last to die. They had seen family, friends, and strangers come and then disappear as if they had never existed. Some were gone on the same day that they had debarked from the sorrowful train that brought them; while others remained until they were of no more use to their jailers. Albert had survived.
"Concentrate little one concentrate. Make every stitch like it's the only one that will show." Childish hands pulled needle and thread through the fabric forming what would become a decorative edging to a young girls blouse. She worked slowly and deliberately, wanting the embroidery to be pleasing to the eye but also wanting to please the old man who encouraged her. As he reached to help her, she noticed six faded blue numbers on his forearm. "What are those numbers for grandpa?" she asked. Smiling and patting her head, he answered " Oh, that was an old telephone number of mine." They both laughed. " No, really it is something from a very long time ago. Lets take a little break and I will tell you all about it."
The guards herded the inmates into the darkness of the compound. Many slipped and fell as they were prodded towards the open yard area. A reeking horde of walking skeletons, wracked with hunger and disease, most could barely keep the hurried pace that was being demanded of them. Over there a man fell and was clubbed by one of the guards. The sickening sound of a rifle butt smashing bone and flesh made Albert nauseous, but to try to help the fallen would elicit the same treatment to him. Gray light was beginning to creep into the sky as the group was halted. There was no talk among the guards and only coughing and wheezing from the inmates. A heavy metallic click of rifle and machine gun bolts broke the silence as the guards chambered ammunition into their weapons. His ears felt as if they would burst as gunfire exploded all around him. Men screamed, blood flew through the air spattering his face. A hammer-like blow struck his head, a blinding flash, then darkness and silence.
" I always keep a remnants of cloth around, he said, just in case I might need it for something special. Just like in the old days, there was always a remnant of the Jews who God allowed to survive and return to our homeland. He showed the little girl a bolt of fine white fabric.
"Someday this remnant will become a wedding dress for a certain little girl ! " he said lovingly.
Albert could hear voices, but could not make out what was being said. The weight of many dead bodies pressed upon him, making it impossible to move. "Am I still alive?, his mind asked. I must be! I can't let them know it. I have to be still. Concentrate..concentrate..if you want to live you must keep still!" Through slitted eyelids he could see bright sunlight. "The sun is up, how long have I been here?" He could hear more voices now. Men were pulling at the dead piled around him. He felt a strong hand clasp his wrist and pull his body into the light. His eyes flashed open, he tried to scream, but nothing came out. Who was this man? His clothing was strange, it was not a German uniform. "Hey Sarge! We need a medic over here. This one's still alive!"
"Yes my darling, God allowed me to live while so many others died. I became a part of the remnant that would form the new nation of Israel, " he said proudly. "I'm a tough old bird, he snorted as he danced about the tailor shop, tougher than an old piece of canvas !" " Oh grandpa, you're a hoot! " the child laughed.
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