Manuscripts Burn


MANUSCRIPTS BURN

"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov

Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Last War: Chapter 64, Part 9

"The Germans have left the city and are waiting for our formal surrender," said the Basilisk with icy contempt for Krauss.

"Good," said Krauss, who was still wearing Metzger's cap and holding his baton, "We still have one or two things to deal with before then."

Krauss turned to face the spy. He was in manacles and guarded by two burly Claw troops. He looked like a little ferret. The spy was trying hard to hide his emotions, but Krauss could see the little man was terrified.

"Name?" asked Krauss.

"El Nariz," answered the spy.

"The Nose? Give me your real name now."

El Nariz now showed his emotions. He was bewildered and scared.

"I...I don't know," he said finally.

"Understandable enough," said Krauss, "Spies are in the business of trickery. Sometimes they end up tricking themselves."

Some of The Claw men around him laughed. He walked over to them and stared them down.

"This is not a joke. This is a very grave matter. Do you understand me?"

The Claw men nodded, seeming as scared as El Nariz.

"Good," he said, then, turning back to El Nariz, "You don't look Brazilian. I assume, then, that you are Coalition since Brazil is the only major non-Coalition South American country."

"Yes. Colombia."

"A turncoat coalie," said Krauss, contemptuously using the derogatory Alliance term for his own side, "A traitor. A spy and a traitor."

The congregation of Claw troops around him booed and hissed.

"The Alliance won't have you. I suppose they promised you freedom to return to Colombia in exchange for killing our leader. I'm certain they didn't promise you sanctuary."

"No," confirmed El Nariz, in his madness forgetting that the Americans had promised him such things.

"Well, the Alliance won't have you. But don't worry. We will have you. On a pike!"

The Claw troops cheered macabrely.

"Take him away and have him hung," said Krauss, turning from the spy in distaste, "And bury him in a shallow, unmarked grave in front of Congress."

The Claw quickly and efficiently carried out his orders. As the troops were leaving, Basilisk approached Krauss.

"Excuse me, general," he said, his military politeness almost boiling away with hatred, "But I request permission to leave Washington D.C."

"Explain, colonel," said Krauss, folding his arms over his chest.

"Some of the troops - not many, but some - are not willing to admit defeat yet. They want to escape down the Potomac, the same way that Colombian spy and most of the other joiners came in. I am among them."

"Well, Basilisk," Krauss said, sighing, "I won't order you to stay, but I will tell you it's suicide to try to go. There are Americans waiting all along the rivers for just such an attempt. They weren't going to go in and steal the glory from the Germans, no matter how much they wanted to, but they will be waiting to kill any of our men who try to escape."

Basilisk nodded.

"I understand. I still want to go."

"Then take your cowardly friends and go."

Basilisk's yellow eyes seethed with rage. He left, and a small number of other Claw men followed him.

"Now we must officially surrender," said the new Master of The Claw.

An invisible dark cloud hung in the air as the entire Claw assembled into ranks and files. At the very head of the parade stood two Claw men in carefully made and polished Nazi uniforms. Between them they carry the burden of Lars Metzger's body, prettied up somewhat by a coroner. Over Metzger's body lay folded a flag of both The Claw and Germany. Directly behind the pallbearers stood Krauss in a dour, gloomy pose. He gestured to begin to move out.

Slowly and morbidly The Claw filed out of the gates of Washington D.C. They soon reached the assembled German troops. They were all clean, happy, and uniform. The two forces strikingly contrasted each other.

Krauss approached their commander, a Motorradkorps captain.

"I have but one term for our otherwise unconditional surrender," he said in German, "That we be allowed to bury Marshal Lars Metzger in his native soil."

Marianne Totschl├Ąger contemplated this very deeply for a moment. Finally she outstretched her hand and Krauss took it.

"He was a worthy foe," she said, "I can't deny him that. In death, at least."

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