A Soldier's Grim Discovery

A P-38 Lightning heavy fighter jet glides through the gray bleakness at several thousand feet. Major John Noman was on a mission to help bring an end to the world’s second great war. Military intelligence discovered that on this particular evening Hitler’s most valuable generals would be meeting in one place to discuss military strategy. The mission was simple, drop the small but deadly payload on the given coordinates. As John flew further into enemy territory, he began to feel a tightness in his neck and sweat on his face. He had been in the cockpit for so long all the dials started to look the same. The only thing that stood out anymore was the picture of his beautiful wife with her gorgeous blonde hair. Oh, Sarah, he thought to himself, I have to make it back alive.

As if the demons of misfortune had been listening in on his thoughts, explosions began to erupt all around him. Boom, Boom, Pow like giant sized popcorn popping in the air leaving small black clouds in their wake sending metallic death in all directions. The good news is that John had heard of planes being under antiaircraft fire for long periods of time and only suffering minor damage. Boom “Something’s wrong!” he yelled as the P-38 Lightning began to lose altitude and some of the instruments were whirling like small fans. He was going down and the only thing he could do was eject and hope for the best.

*****

John awoke to some not so gentle nudging. “Vake up Major,” a voice said with a strong German accent. “You are in the Nurnberg facility, this will be your home until you have received your final treatment,” he said that last part with a bit of hesitation. What did he mean my “final treatment,” John thought to himself. “And I am Dr. Göring, you know Major you have shown great progress over the past few days,” Dr. Göring said. The doctor was a tall lanky fellow with short jet black hair and tiny spectacles.

“Why am I here?” John asked.

“Your mind Major, your mind.”

“My mind?” John asked.

“Yes, we believe that we can make great strides in the field of neuroscience by treating you,” said Dr. Göring.

“I need no treatment you Nazi pig, you’ll go before a tribunal on war crimes for this!” yelled John shaking with anger. An intercom came on, “Dr. Göring you are needed in the staff conference room.” Looking at his notes to John, “There’s that anger again, I’ve been summoned and I must depart, see you soon Major.” After making a few notes in the doorway Dr. Göring closed the door as he exited John’s room. John was actually relieved that he was gone, there was some sort of instinctual relief that he felt that would probably be akin to the way a rabbit feels as a hawk leaves his area.

How long have I been here, he thought. A few days, weeks, a month, he didn’t know. He did remember a few things: his mission, being shot down, being here, the water torture, the awful food, the constant state of mild sedation, and the desire to escape. He also remembered the recurring dreams of his wife. The dreams were nearly the same, his wife would just sit there in his room holding his hand. Most of the time she wouldn’t say anything she was just there for him like an angel comforting a dying man. He wouldn’t say anything either out of fear that he would pop the bubble that was his dream, but then every morning he awakens again to the sickly clean smell of ammonia and cotton balls with a hint of sulfur in the air. He walked over to the bathroom noticing the way his body felt, many of my muscles have apparently atrophied and on top of the sedatives that they put in his food it’s no wonder that they don’t need me locked up, he thought. He felt slow like molasses running down a pine tree and his mind felt like he had spent last night trying to beat some Irish in a drinking game again like when he was stationed in England before his mission. He looked in the mirror, “My God, I look like a train wreck,” he said aloud. He noticed the honeycomb of bandages wrapped around the top of his head. Did that happen when I landed after I ejected? He couldn’t remember. Are they experimenting on me? He couldn’t remember that either. He did remember, however, that it was times like these that he would have intense sessions of internal dialogue. I don’t know what they are doing to me, he thought, did I just answer myself? “I have to get out of here, this place is driving me crazy,” John said aloud. I just need some rest, he thought as he went to lay down.

John soon awakened to the lady Gestapo Brunnhilde’s voice, “Time for dinner Mr. Noman, I vill drag you out of bed if I need to,” the portly brown haired woman said. Oh yes, John thought, out of all the foggy memories, Brunnhilde was one he remembered very clearly. She was usually the one to administer the water torture, and she would get incredibly upset with John when he had a bowel movement - or “BM” as his mother used to say - on himself. Those sedatives they’ve given me really do a number on my bodily functions, John thought. Besides the water torture and her occasional “punishment,” Brunnhilde was a mild-mannered Gestapo. Today was going to be a very different day for this nazi pig, though, a day she won’t soon forget.

Brunnhilde wheeled John down the lengthy corridor in a wheelchair to the dining area. It was there that John saw Maxwell - a small gangling fellow and P.O.W. as well - unlike John however Maxwell had lost the will to escape. John couldn’t fathom the tortures that they had inflicted upon him. He was willing to assist John in a few minor ways to help him escape. Brunnhilde wheeled Mr. Noman, as she called him, refusing to call him Major, into the dining area. Everything seemed to be going according to plan, Maxwell had already been moved to his dinner table. They made eye contact and with a slight nod from John, Maxwell began to grip his heart and make frantic motions with pained gasps. Brunnhilde began yelling in German for other “staff” to help as she ran over to Maxwell. Left unattended, John wheeled himself over to Mrs. Brooks, a sweet old Jewish widow who John had no doubt made small talk with a few times if he could only remember.

“How are you doing this evening Mrs. Brooks?” John said with mock interest.

“Quite a bit better than the gentleman over there I presume,” she said with a numbness that came from seeing similar emergencies on a regular basis and motioned toward Maxwell’s direction. By that time Maxwell had been stabilized and was being wheeled out of the dining area. Brunnhilde returned to wheel John away. Taking the opportunity allotted him, John asked fascist overseer, “May I go to the restroom?”

“You can go after dinner,” Brunnhilde chided.

“To be honest, I’ve already gone and I just wanted to get cleaned up a bit,” John said to the oversized Gestapo who was gritting her teeth. She paused a moment staring with those dark eyes that could bore holes through sheet metal.

“Alright Mr. Noman, but you know I’m going to have to punish you for this,” Brunnhilde said. John said nothing in reply, he just smiled knowing what was to come next. On the way out of the dining hall, he overheard Mrs. Brooks complaining about something, something about “not having anything to slice her meat loaf with.”

A few moments later, Brunnhilde was helping John out of the wheelchair. Turning he looked at the chair, “Could you look at the wheelchair seat, I think there is something wrong with it.” Looking at him with annoyance and disbelief she began to sway back and forth intensely examining the seat.

“There’s nothing wrong with your seat-” her words were cut off as John plunged his newly acquired steak knife into the lower left portion of her back, John knew from his military training that the kidney held a precious nerve cluster. Brunnhilde let out a nearly inaudible yelp as the steak knife went in then turned, she crumpled to the ground. Thank you, Mrs. Brooks, John thought to himself feeling a sense of victory on the horizon, and with a swift kick to the side of Brunnhilde’s head, she was incapacitated. Now for the back door. After giving up on moving her limp yet heavy body John casually walked through the hallway. Upon reaching the back door without incident, he took a deep breath and opened the door to his freedom. He couldn’t have been prepared for what he saw next, walking toward in what appeared to be a parking lot, John saw his wife. He could see she was coming to realize who was standing out in the parking lot with her. He was sure that he had a similar expression on his face.

“What are you doing here?” he said with a cautious amazement.

“John, you’re not supposed to be outside,” she said.

John’s forehead and eyebrows worked in confusion at his wife’s response.

“John you’re sick, you need help, and Dr. Göring believes he is on the verge of curing you and discovering a medical breakthrough.”

“Cure me?! I’m not letting that Nazi psychopath anywhere near me!”

Behind him, he heard the back door fly open when he turned two male Gestapo were running toward him, dressed in S.S. uniform with the blonde hair and blue eyes. He heard his wife behind him yell something in German to the men. In futility, John ran, well, walked quickly away from his pursuers. Binding his wrists, the two noticeably strong men picked him up and carried him back inside to an unfamiliar room where Dr. Göring was waiting for him.

“It appears that cannot wait any longer to administer your final treatment,” Dr. Göring stated. John’s wife was there at her husband’s side trying to explain to him that he has a rare mental illness that affects his memory and causes him to hear and see things that are not really there. He wanted to believe her but he couldn’t help thinking that she was some kind of spy for the Germans. Nurses and doctors began to fill the room bringing equipment with them.

“Trust me, John, I love you! We’ve been married for over fifty wonderful years until you were in a car accident two weeks ago and suffered severe brain trauma,” his wife explained.

A nurse came over to him snuggly placing an oxygen mask over his mouth. Brilliantly bright lights were placed over him, flashes of memory of his childhood of his first time briefly staring at the sun.

He began to cry, “I was shot down-” he retorted.

“No dear, that was decades ago, you’re in a research facility for the elderly with mental illnesses,” his wife said desperately to explain.

Between his tears and the blinding lights he couldn’t see his wife anymore, at that moment he never felt more alone. Was she telling the truth, he wondered, am I some sick old man?

“Breath deeply Major, this vill all be over soon,” John recognized the voice Dr. Göring. Then Major John Noman slipped into to darkness.

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