by John Little
A man's world falls apart around him
|Between the crumbling walls of a once great city, a low haze of dust hung over the streets of Berlin. A dry whistling wind drifted through like a ghost looking for peace.
SS Obersturmführer Karl Schlaeger gazed down the street, imagining where the coffee shop had once stood. Sipping a cup of coffee, reading the morning news of the war - that was the extent of his desires now.
Schlaeger strode down the wide boulevard, picking his way around the rubble, watching for errant bricks, falling from great heights. This was more dangerous than combat, Schlaeger thought, and far more foolish. The past is the past and we should be looking to the future - isn't that what He always says? Even now He struggles from some bunker outside the city, building a new German future.
Schlaeger looked around, grunted. Well. There are certainly plenty of building materials here to work with. He turned the corner and nearly tripped over an old gypsy wrapped in a dirty red shawl. He gave her a swift boot and went on, ignoring the sign of the Evil Eye she cast at him.
Superstitious stupidity, he thought. That is what we struggle to leave behind.
A couple hours later, Schlaeger was ready to give up and admit defeat - he would never find that coffee shop in this mess. A young corporal called out to him and rushed to the SS Officer.
"What is it, man? Speak up!"
"Herr Obersturmführer! Haven't you heard? He is dead! Der Führer ist tot!"
"A couple hours ago! I must go! The Russians! Can't you hear the tanks?"
As the man bolted in terror, Schlaeger thought he saw a flash of red disappearing around a distant pile of rubbish.