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The air surrounding Bełżec was dry. To accompany the dryness, a strange silence had overcome the entire camp. That night, there was no crying over loved ones or pleas of mercy; if there were, no one could hear them, for they were no more than a murmur. Northwest of the camp, the staff living quarters sat in the middle of the woods. If there was to be some sort of commotion within the camp that night, no one within the quarters could hear it and the night shift staff would have to clean up whatever mess was made. Within the living quarters, a poker table sat in the middle of the common room. It was late and most people within the building were sleeping, except for the select few that currently resided at the table.
There was Gerhard, a barbarian who found little sympathy for anything. The prisoners in the camp feared Gerhard the most, even when they did not beg or even try to act out, he would bludgeon people at random with the butt of his rifle. This was not all that he did. After the victim had fallen to the ground from the blunt force trauma inflicted by what Gerhard called his “boomstick”, this fiend would stomp on the helpless soul’s stomach and/or face. Depending on whether or not the prisoner survived, Gerhard would take him or her and force the victim to literally lick the mud off his boots.
Gerhard found no pity in the endless tears or cries of pain and the more the victim suffered, the more he enjoyed himself. However, he found that if he did this more than twenty times a day, he became exhausted and needed to rest. That day, Gerhard needed to do more than rest. He had tortured forty-one prisoners. Gerhard could hardly sleep though. This is what made him an excellent soldier. He rarely slept. The most he did to recharge himself was a quick two to three hour slumber and a dose of Gurchen.
Gurchen was the most recent medication introduced to the staff at Bełżec. It was required to be ingested twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. The medication supposedly created excessive bursts of energy and stamina in a soldier while it slowly coursed through the system. An unfortunate side effect, however, was the increased risk of heart failure and the deprivation of anxiety or emotion. While the heart disease was a risk the high powers in the Nazi party were willing to take, the sociopathic trends associated with the medication only increased the need for prescription amongst the soldiers.
Sitting on Gerhard’s left was Horst, a lean and slender man who had just recently been transferred to Bełżec after surviving the bombing of a small church. He and a few other soldiers were placed near the church and their orders were simple: question the priests and nuns about the locations of any Jews and if any Jews were in fact found, call in the destruction of the church and all nearby buildings. Horst and his men did in fact find Jews hiding in the church’s wine cellar.
Upon calling it in, the soldiers had approximately five minutes to evacuate the area, yet due to a miscommunication, the bombing took place two minutes after it had been called in. Horst and his men were on their way up the stairs of the cellar when the buildings started to collapse. Horst managed to grab one of his men and drag him through the falling debris, but they were both crushed by a fallen archway. Several stones broke Horst’s legs and the comrade Horst attempted to save had his skull crushed in. After his recovery, his service was honored and as a reward, he was given a much more settled position as a guard, specifically at Bełżec.
Across from Gerhard were the brothers Lothar and Rolf. Neither said much and not many people knew their history. Some people said that the two enlisted in the Nazi party after murdering their entire family in Czechoslovakia; others have said that the two burnt down an orphanage and used the Nazi party as a form of refuge to avoid being convicted by the authorities. The point was, regardless of Lothar and Rolf’s background, the two were a violent pair. Not violent in the mannerism that Gerhard lives in, but in the way that Lothar could easily force a father to strangle his own son to death, while Rolf calmly stood by and watched. Not a single emotion flickered in the eyes of either brother. Not a single twitch of remorse shook their attitude. They felt nothing, because there was nothing to feel. It was just work to them. Work was not given to create emotion; it was given to be completed. There was nothing else to it.
“You know,” Horst whispered, “I’ve been hearing a lot about some of these crazy experiments that were being performed at Auschwitz.” Horst put his cards down. There was no need to play at the moment.
Gerhard scoffed. “There’s a lot of things you hear about Auschwitz. It doesn’t make them true.” He began to loudly shuffle his cards, indicating to Horst that the game was nowhere near over.
“Of course we hear weird things. But it’s usually the same old stuff. Twin manipulation, freezing, nerve transplantation, astral projection…but this…I have never heard anything like this.” Horst stared at Gerhard. He looked over at Lothar and Rolf. No one at the table seemed to care about what Horst was saying.
Gerhard raised an eyebrow. “Horst, I highly doubt it’s anything more than a failed twin experiment or something of a similar –ˮ
“Corpse reanimation,” Horst interrupted Gerhard.
“You’re lying," Rolf said.
Lothar looked at his brother. He thought about what was being said and was surprised to see his brother take such an immediate stance on the entire subject. The subject of corpse reanimation was of course nothing other than pure fantasy, but it would be interesting to hear the concept or supposed story of whatever took place at Auschwitz. There was no reason for Rolf to shut the idea down so quickly. “Just give him a minute, Rolf,” Lothar said.
“It’s nothing but superstitious nonsense,” Rolf snapped. “I don’t want to hear any of it.”
“God, will you calm down? You usually don’t get worked up about things like this.”
“Or anything for that matter, you emotionless freak,” Gerhard muttered.
“What did you just say?” Rolf asked.
“I didn’t say anything,” Gerhard answered.
“Yes, you did. You called me something.”
Gerhard gave Rolf a cold, blank stare. “I was praying to my lord and savior, Jesus Christ. I thanked him for the wonderful day he gave us.”
“That’s it!” Rolf shouted. “I’m not going to take this bastard’s attitude and I don’t want to hear this idiot’s ghost story!” Rolf pointed at Horst and stood up. He walked away from his chair and started to leave the room. While he passed Gerhard, Rolf elbowed him in the shoulder and gave him a menacing glare. He left the room.
“I honestly do not know what happened,” Lothar broke the awkward silence.
“I thought you two had one emotion, and that was apathy.” Gerhard looked at Lothar. Lothar laughed. “Yes. We usually don’t show emotion. It’s a sign of weakness and it makes you more vulnerable to connecting on an empathetic level with the prisoners.”
“Makes sense,” Gerhard replied.
“Can I finish my story?” Horst asked.
“As long as blank face over here doesn’t freak out like his brother,” Gerhard said mockingly.
Lothar sighed. “I can assure you, I will not freak out. I find this to be very interesting. Please continue, Horst.”
Horst leaned back in his chair. He interlaced his fingers and bent them back, cracking his knuckles. “All right, so we all know the story of Frankenstein, right? Well apparently, there was some sort of study done at Auschwitz within the past three months. A small group of the scientists usually associated with twin experimentation got together with two or three nerve transplant scientists and decided to study the supposed concept of reanimation.
“The probability that movement could be achieved in a corpse after death is very probable. This is done through nerve manipulation and through the work of sending electrical charges throughout the cadaver in order to stimulate movement. It was done about a year ago in the Soviet Union with some severed dog heads. Scientists successfully got the dog head to blink and even lick its nose as if it were still alive. It wasn’t though; the head was merely going through the common movements the nervous system was used to when it was alive.
“The scientists at Auschwitz, however, saw that more could be done. The electrical charges were being sent through the head to affect the nerves, but the organs needed to be stimulated as well. If the blood could start flowing again, and successfully course throughout the entire body and reach the organs, along with nerve stimulation, there may be enough activity to restart the brain and recreate life. So that’s exactly what they did.
“The creature was made out of some of the best parts available in Auschwitz. Apparently an entire truck loaded with human cadavers was shipped into the camp, just so scientists could pick out the perfect parts and reassemble them into the perfect soldier.
“The whole point of the experiment was to see if the perfect soldier could be created, if a corpse could be reanimated, or a soldier could be reanimated, but with the strength of ten men instead of just one, then our army would be unstoppable.
“So some of the parts the scientists used were from soldiers; other parts were from prisoners. The more intelligent Jews, like the doctors or lawyers, were the potential candidates for the head. It was done differently than the movie. In the movie, a brain was chosen and then put into the head. It would be too difficult to achieve that due to the spinal cord and all of the reattachments that would have to be made. Of course, spinal cord reattachments are going to happen regardless, but attaching a neck to a stump is easier than attaching a brain into a spinal cord.
“Eventually the whole experiment was sewn together it was deemed as a medically accurate cadaver. The whole reanimation process took place and it seemed to not be much of a success. I forgot to mention that the whole event took place during a lightning storm, that way the scientists could channel enough voltage from the lightning into the creature. Well, it was done in the same style we have all seen in the movie, and in the end, it appeared to be a failure. That is, once the corpse was lowered, and all vital signs were checked, there was a power outage. A booming crack of thunder shook the camp. The blackout lasted no more than thirty seconds, but upon the restoration of power, the experiment was gone. The medical workbench had been knocked over and the door was open.
“An entire lockdown of the medical facility had been initiated, but the creature was never found. It somehow escaped Auschwitz and is roaming Europe.” Gerhard and Lothar stared at Horst. They had never heard anything so ridiculous in their entire lives.
“You, are an idiot,” Gerhard said coldly.
Lothar began to laugh hysterically. “I can’t believe my brother got upset because of a story like that! How can something that was just reanimated escape a place like Auschwitz? That’s like a newborn baby escaping from a hospital and travelling to France in a zeppelin without anyone noticing!”
“It’s just what I heard!” Horst said in defense. “That doesn’t make it true!”
“But it could be true.” Rolf’s voice came from behind the group.
Gerhard and Horst spun around. Rolf was standing in the doorway, looking calmer than before, but with the same serious attitude lurking in his eyes.
“What are you saying?” Gerhard asked.
“Tonight, while I was on my way over here. I saw something limbering around in the fields in the distance. I’m not exactly sure what it was, it was large enough to be a bear but it looked like it was walking on two legs. I do not know what I saw, but I know that it struck me as disturbing. I do not usually find myself affected by strange or grotesque sights, but upon looking at this thing wandering in the distance, I was overcome with a sense of dread and fear. I picked up the pace and got here as fast as I could.” Lothar stared at his brother in amusement. “You can’t possibly be serious.”
“I am, brother,” Rolf quickly replied. “You know me.”
The room was quiet. Rolf and Lothar stared at each other for what seemed to be at least a minute. The air grew colder with every second that passed. Gerhard looked at the two formerly brave cowards and then at Horst. For the first time in a long time, Gerhard felt slightly unsettled. “I’m going to go outside and have a smoke.” Gerhard interrupted the suspense.
Gerhard got up and pushed his chair in. He knew that even after such an eerie story there was really nothing to be afraid of, for it was perfectly safe to step right outside the door and smoke a cigarette. After all, now that the two brothers were having a simultaneous panic attack, he was the only one of the group who could be relied on as the courageous soldier. Gerhard opened up the main door and stepped outside.
The air outside was no longer dry, but very humid and cold. Gerhard’s hairs stood up on end and as he exhaled, he could see his breath. He looked out into the night. There was nothing but trees and the small road that led to the camp a few miles away. If anything were going to make it to the living quarters, it would have to cross the guard towers in the field before the woods, and then the second guard post along the road, which was about five hundred feet away from the living quarters itself. Despite how close the guard post was, Gerhard could not see it. It was too dark. The side light that hung next to the main door illuminated everything within a fifteen foot radius. Beyond that, was total darkness.
An hour had passed. Rolf and Lothar had gone to bed and Horst still sat at the poker table. Gerhard never came back inside. Horst began to panic. Something may have happened to Gerhard or someone could have attacked him. It was unlikely though, because of Gerhard’s size and stature. It would take a grizzly bear to successfully maim Gerhard. Horst decided that there was no way that Gerhard was injured and he must have gone for a walk. He got up from his chair and walked over to the main door. He opened it and peered outside into the night.
“Gerhard! If you can hear me, we’ve all gone to bed! Your cards are sitting on the table. I put them all back in the pack for you.” Horst pulled his head back inside and shut the door. He turned out the common room light and began to head down the hall to bed. That is when three brutal knocks – or impacts, rather, struck the main door.
Horst spun around and stared at the door. A sense of dread overcame Horst and he found himself unable to move. All he could do was stand motionless, facing the door. Whatever was on the other side struck the door again. It struck the door a fifth time. Horst heard the frame of the door cracking. The door itself began to split down the middle. A sixth hit was made. The door flew open in two pieces. Horst flinched as pieces of shrapnel flew past his face.
The light from outside shone in. A figure, standing at least nine feet tall, stood outside the door. It ducked down and stepped inside. The side light backlit the thing, creating a silhouette of godly proportions. Horst could not make out any features, but he could tell whatever he was looking at was not human.
It was wearing a large trench coat that covered the various rags of clothing that surrounded its upper body. The pants it wore seemed to be made partially of medical bandages and fur from a dead animal, possibly a bear or a yak. One hand was clenched into a fist, while the other, hung limp and lifeless. Horst could see through it. It had no flesh or muscle. It was just bone. The creature’s head was swarmed with a mass of hair, obscuring the monstrosity that was its face.
“BEHOLD!” the figure boomed. “I am Joachim: bringer of vengeance, established by the lord himself!”
Horst couldn’t do anything but tremble where he stood. He collapsed out of fear. The figure took two lumbering steps towards him and the whole room shook.
“I was given life from death and any chance of demise has been eliminated. I am forced to roam the earth, punishing those who violate the law of god!”
The figure got closer to Horst. Its eyes gleamed in the darkness. Horst stared into the eyes and the creature raised its arms. It reached down and picked Horst up into the air. Horst couldn’t even scream. He was petrified. The creature grabbed Horst’s upper body and legs. It began to pull. The pain swelled in Horst. Just as Horst opened his mouth to let out the most bloodcurdling scream any Nazi could ever hear, the creature ripped him in half and threw his halves to the side. It took no second glance at Horst’s torso or legs and made its way down the hall, to Rolf and Lothar’s room, and eventually every other room in the living quarters. The creature was Joachim, an establishment from God, and he was here to carry out God’s vengeance.
Written by Zach Zeman
aka The Hooded Werewolf