It was back in 1945, the spring had just begun and blossoms were all around us. My parents were from Koblenz, Germany, and even after father was stationed at the Riechstag my mother stayed in Koblenz. There was this old mineshaft near the town, the kind you're told not to play in as a child, but as the allies were coming ever closer some of the more loyal Nazi members had the idea to hide away deep in the shaft until after the war to start anew. It was a silly idea, even as a child it seemed silly to me, but my mother believed in her party very much so we couldn't talk her out of it.
I'll never forget that day, the shaft had been expanded so that heavy equipment such as vehicles could get in, though we still went in on foot. There was even a tank, well it seemed like a tank to me, it was more of a half track on review, held together with string and a prayer at that. But none the less, into the shaft it, and we, went. My mother was talking to one of the SS officers about some sort of glorious return that we would have. I was already thinking it would be glorious to return to light and trees and open spaces.
For how long we walked into the mine, I'm not sure I'll ever know. At one point there began to be rumors that someone was following us, a dark figure staying mostly out of sight. Talk began of British or Soviet spies, trying to ruin our great plan. I wasn't too partial to that theory, since we would need a great plan to ruin in the first place. Still I wondered for a long time about the dark figure, why would they follow us, and what did they want? The answer was unexpected, and I still have trouble believing it myself sometimes.
It started with distant sounds, but recognizable, gunfire and screaming. Then some very loud shots that must have been the half track firing, that stopped soon, but the gunfire and screams didn't- They just got closer. My mother tried to protect us, made me huddle with my brother while she stood with her back to us, I just stared at the frill of my dress and wondered if we'd actually make it out of this. Mother started yelling at something, and then cussing while backing up to my brother and I. Finally she screamed as I watched this massive blade rip into her, and when she finally fell to the ground and my sight was unobstructed I could see the terror so clearly. It was a woman, a tall woman wearing some sort of grey armor and carrying a spear with a massive tip.
She stared at us for what felt like ages. Just looked and looked, with those strang yellow eyes, like she was trying to make up her mind about something, then she just turned and went deeper into the tunnel. The gunfire and screams returned, and then after a while it was just screams, which also died out eventually. We waited a long time, brother and I, before we finally stood up and wandered back out of the tunnels, running into some of our friends along the way. I was told later that all the children had been spared.
What most stays with me though was the image of that half track, since we passed on through it on the way out. You see, it had been cut clean in half, with each half compressed against one of the walls, and the whole area just sort of stank of dead people.
"I told you it was a weird story," Lanie said. Resting against the side of the couch her grandmother was sitting on. The modern living room, with contemporary furniture around them seemed to form a strange counterpoint to the tale of yesteryear. The twenty year old had heard the story many times over, but no 'meet the parents' was complete without getting 'the story' out of the way.
"Lanie, don't call your grandmother's stories weird," her mother, Elise, chided her from out of sight in the kitchen. The two rooms were seperated by wall, but her mother heard everything, she could probably hear a pin drop from two blocks away.
"It's actually pretty cool, can't say I've ever heard anyrhing like it!" Desirea was, as always, fitting right in and playing peace keeper. Definitely trying for girlfriend of the year award, Lanie thought to herself.
"These days I only tell it if someone asks, after a while I just got tired of the strange looks." Lanie's grandmother looked wistfully out the window as she spoke. Ursala Gothe had aged well over her long life, keeping the general figure of a tall, imposing woman, though lately she had seemed to soften somewhat. "As we grew up, I left the Reich, the Nazis, and even Germany behind me. But not Gerald, no, he just couldn't see the nonsensical dreams of a murderous madman for what they are."
The room was real quiet for a few moments, just the sounds from the kitchen to keep it from being unbearable. "Ahh, but now I'm spoiling the mood! So tell me about yourself, Desirea, what do you do?"
"Well, I'm a production sound designer, which just means..." The conversation buzzed back and forth for a while until dinner came. Her mother got in on the questioning then, the two women drilling her on family, education, politics, and finally trailing off into philosophy where the questions disappeared into debate. Evening became night, and energetic debate turned to playful banter, finally breaking into quiet excuses and long goodbyes. Then it was just two young women, driving home on a warm summer's night. The strange breeze in the air still so subtle that anyone could be forgiven for missing it.