Tuesday, April 20, 2010

New Beginning 745

Nina read the words on the pale green card for the last time. Name: Nina Krenkel. Birthdate: 07-08-1924. Birthplace: Vienna. Hair: brown. Eyes: green. Race: JEW.
Then she opened the furnace door, and put it in. The flames flared and ate the words in long licks. It was a ghost-card of curled ash, the words still visible for a moment, slowly fluttering apart in the wind of the fire's burning. Nina watched, transfixed, as her name fell away into flakes on the glowing coals.

“Nina! You did it?”

She whirled to face her younger brother. “I promised. And you promised too.”

“But we never got the fake ones!”

“He said we had to do it anyway. We have to, Gustav. We have to do everything he says.” Her eyes burned. She stood, pulling herself up by her crutches. “You want to go up there and tell him we're not doing it? And let him die knowing that?”

“But Nina—Uncle Samuel—”

“Uncle Samuel is WRONG!” she shouted. “Did you hear what he said? He said crazy. Is he crazy, Gustav? Tell me.” She looked him in the eye. “Do you honestly think Father is crazy?”

Gustav looked at her, his brown eyes wide. “I—” He shut his mouth, and looked down at his shoes. Shoes that Father had made him. “No,” he whispered. “He's not crazy.”

“I know it's scary, Gustav. I'm scared too. But he knows.” Just look in his eyes. Did you ever wonder if dying people can see the future? It scares me, Gustav, it scares me so bad, what he looks like he knows. “He says we're safer if we go. He knows. So we're going.” She stood leaning on her crutches, looking at him; then she held out her hand. He looked back at her for a long time, put his hand in his pocket, and pulled out a pale green card. She took it, and bent again to the furnace door.

"Nina!"

She pulled her hand back from the flames and looked up toward the voice.

"Nina. What have I told you about coming down here? And Gustav, too. You should be ashamed!"

Nina stared at the floor. "Sorry, Uncle Samuel."

"Doctor Samuel, if you please. Now come back up to your rooms."

"Where is Father?" Nina asked.

"If, by Father, you are referring to Johann, he has locked himself in the ladies room again. Now come on."

The old lady pushed herself up on her crutches and headed toward the steps. Gustav, bent-backed, shuffled along behind her, the tissue boxes on his feet scratching along the cold basement floor.


Opening: Heather Munn.....Continuation: anon.

8 comments:

Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuations:


Heartstring, the little Labrador puppy, sat in the warm glow of the furnace, his ears pricking as he listened to the conversation, looking from wide-eyed, innocent Gustav to his tragically crippled sister and back. He thought about their "mad" father, their Uncle Samuel who didn't want any trouble, and it occurred to him that on balance, if he didn't come up with a plan, things weren't looking to good for himself, either.

--anon.


Nina stopped. Her cellphone was ringing.

"Hello? Uncle Samuel?"

Nina shot Gustav a look, cutting him off before he could speak.

"No, I haven't seen it."

Gustav shifted nervously, watching Nina's face.

"I haven't seen any of Granny's refugee stuff since you brought it over."

--eMonkey



Uncle Samuel is old fashioned," Nina went on. "He does not understand how things are changing. Daddy understands. If Blockbuster Video demands all this information, and then gets our birthdays wrong, well, we're better of downloading from Netflix instead."

--anon.


"But--" Gustav said, blinking, "Why don't we just say we did it? He'll never know, he'll die happy, and we'll still have our identity cards."

Nina bit her lip. "Damn. I wish I'd thought of that a minute ago."

--Batgirl



After one more short pause, Nina flicked the card into the flames. Father was right: They had to leave; to disappear. The world was no longer a safe place for them. No, with his piercing stare and menacing scowl and his thrusting, bony finger always pointing, it was Uncle Samuel and this pointless war in Vietnam and the drafting of Green Card holders that was madness. And these poor immigrants even spoke better English than Uncle Sam.

--anon.



Suddenly an SS officers leapt out of the dark and shot Nina and Gustav in the head.

"Thank you," said Uncle Samuel smiling at the money. "If you have another hundred, I know where there are two more Jews who are burning their papers as we speak."

--anon.


The flames devoured the card in seconds.

"Now," Nina told him, "it's time to go."

Gustav struggled to help his sister back up the stairs. Just as they reached the kitchen, Nina heard a gentle tapping at the back window. She cracked open the door.

"Are you ready?" the woman outside asked her. Nina nodded. "We have to leave now." Nina began to open the door wider. "We'll be going over the-- Schei├če! Liesl said nothing about this." The woman stared at Nina's crutches. "Fuck this, auf wiedersehen, goodbye."

The nun disappeared into the darkness.

No one knows what became of the Krenkels, but nor did the world ever hear about the true nature of the Nonnberg Abbey nuns.

--anon.

Evil Editor said...

This could use some speeding up. Even if these kids would say everything they say here, there's no need to report every word they say.


“He said we had to do it anyway. We have to, Gustav. We have to do everything he says.” could just be "We have to do it anyway."


“Uncle Samuel is WRONG!” she shouted. “Did you hear what he said? He said crazy. Is he crazy, Gustav? Tell me.” She looked him in the eye. “Do you honestly think Father is crazy?”

could just be:

“Uncle Samuel is WRONG!” she shouted. “Do you honestly think Father is crazy?”


“I know it's scary, Gustav. I'm scared too. But he knows.” Just look in his eyes. Did you ever wonder if dying people can see the future? It scares me, Gustav, it scares me so bad, what he looks like he knows. “He says we're safer if we go. He knows. So we're going.”

Could just be:

“Did you ever wonder if dying people can see the future, Gustav? He says we're safer if we go. So we're going.”

enewmeyer said...

Great story and I adore the twist in the continuation. Fantastic!

Anonymous said...

Do you know I try to do continuations as often as possible. This opening touched me deeply and I didn't have words to dignify it. Great job writer. I believe you have a grand story here, Best, Bibi

Anonymous said...

Writer and Evil, you two took my breath away on this one. Bibi

Dave F. said...

I'm with EE. When this first went up on the "continue an opening" page, I couldn't put words to why it felt off to me. EE's right. It's too slow or perhaps unwieldy. Speed it up a bit by cutting the excess.

Anonymous said...

This feels off to me for all the reasons EE mentioned. Also I think it's relying on the emotions that the Holocaust elicits to create drama and tension, but it's not coming from the writing.

put it in- Some of the verbs in this, like put, are weak. Tossed, threw, or dropped, are all better choices. Later got is used instead of received and the tense is funky- I think it's past continuous but I'm sure someone will correct me. Either way, because this is middle grade I'd change it to "But we don't have..." which keeps the kid tone and is in present simple tense.

While I do like the concept of the fire eating the words, I think by mentioning it three different ways in three different sentences, (yet, same paragraph) that the idea becomes redundant. I would reword the paragraph into one strong sentence.

whoever said...

I didn't think the dialogue was believable...especially the way she says "Gustav" about a billion times.