Saturday, 3 October 2015

Treachery and Triumph - An Anthology of World War II Stories

Genre: Fiction: History / World War II (Anthology)

Darkness and Light By Steve Morris
This story is based on a true account of an escape from Auschwitz


Hell. 

Is that a straight enough answer for you?

There is no other word for it. It was hell.

People ask me how it felt to escape and assume it was a wonderful feeling. I can tell you that I’ve spent every single day of my life since then thinking about the place and the prisoners in there. For that reason, in many ways, I’m not sure I ever really escaped from it.
19 June 1942

We talked secretly. Saturday morning would soon come around (although the fact that it was Saturday rather than any other day meant absolutely nothing in there).  Saturday was a work day. Saturday was a cold day, like the rest.  Stanislaw, Jozef and Eugeniusz were with me. Together we would make the four. It would take all four of us and a whole lot of luck. We had decided that Saturday was to be the day because there was always a change of routine. At noon. There was a tiny window of opportunity. We had been watching our captors carefully in our fear and our hatred. On Saturdays some SS men always left the camp to go to spend time with their families until Monday. That left gaps. The camp had grown and merged with a neighbouring camp. By then there were thousands of SS guards there. There were many more of us, but we never seemed to be around for long. The camp ran like clockwork. The clock, however was a cold ticking killing machine. 

Although I had long lost track of calendar dates and lived in a time when weekends and holidays were a long-distant dream in a living nightmare, I seemed to have lasted longer than many others. My survival for the length of time was largely due to ‘luck’ after having being given relatively light work by one of the Kapos1. I kept out of the way of trouble by means of my ‘cleaning’ job of dragging the dead to the crematorium. I worked as part of a pair. My partner carried legs, I carried the arms. That didn’t mean I escaped the constant kicking, however. Nothing was ever done quickly enough for them. In ultimate irony, work indoors often meant a better chance of survival, especially during winter where there was some warmth to be found. Seasons never seemed to change. Time meant nothing. The weather was bitter. It was always bitter. We barely felt glad to be alive. No one escaped, we were told. We also knew that a punishment for escape attempts was death by starvation.  They wouldn’t have shot us. That would have been easier for us. I’d seen it. They liked to reduce us to food-craving animals. Some lost their faith. ‘There is no God,’ they said. ‘How can he let this happen?’

Friday, 2 October 2015

Fierce Thunder - SOMMERS

Genre: Thriller / Suspense, Adventure
Author: Courtney Silberberg and Jacquelyn Kinkade Silberberg

Mountain biking at the Big Bear Ski Resort, high above the Los Angeles basin in the middle of summer, was like being on a different planet. The once crowded, manicured ski runs where virgin powder once lay were now unpatrolled, barren, mountain bike trails. An accountant, who was also an extreme sports enthusiast at the corporate offices, had realized a ski resort could run basically year round, hence, greater revenues and stronger balance sheets.
Chairlifts carried both bikes and bikers up to the top, where lodges that fed hundreds during the winter months, now worked with a skeleton staff, parading in bikinis and shorts.  It was in sharp contrast to the congested, smoggy metropolitan area below, as it was pure up there, the air and water clean. The crisp blue sky canopied any danger for the rough and tumble adrenaline junkies the trails attracted, making for an exhilarating place to go, as it was supposed to be fun.
It probably wasn’t fair. At least that’s how Dr. Brad Sommers saw it in that glimpse of time and space that passed before he was forced to react. Of course “fair” wasn’t one of his favorite words at the moment.
An athlete, the twenty-nine year old Sommers was riding hard, too hard, stressing the mountain bike to its limits, pointing down a narrow, winding chute. The gravel and sand rooster-tailed up from the trail as his rear, knobby tire found grooves and then hopped between them, inches from peril.
Sommers tightened the muscles in his strong arms, gingerly maintaining and sensing his precious balance… shifting, leaning. He was a good biker, instinctive, but it was almost futile, as this downhill ride was equivalent to gliding over shiny black ice, and going down or catching an edge here meant falling off the mountain. But Sommers didn’t care about that. He was on a mission, trying to forget, cope maybe; with the odd hand fate had dealt him.
The phones kept ringing in his head and cryptic messages about appeal decisions, court dates and where his case was headed if he didn’t respond bounced around in his brain like his tires skirting between the ruts for precious traction.
His case.