Otto Krauss looked at the pack of matches he had been given. He didn't smoke, so it wasn't much good to him. He pocketed it anyway. Scratching the fleas which had begun to roost on him, he walked into the courtyard. Roll had already begun. He snuck into his position just as his name was called.
"Hier!" he called out.
The German sergeant continued on down the line. Krauss breathed a silent sigh of relief. Men and women had been killed for not reporting to roll on time, because the dogs were released anytime a prisoner was found to be absent. It was a maximum security P.O.W. camp for important commanders on the order of generals and admirals. A single lost prisoner was of inestimable value and concern. No one had yet gotten out of the Stalag alive.
"We have a new friend for you today," the commandant was saying when Krauss suddenly began paying attention again, "A man who will probably soon be leaving you. Usually war criminals are not put in ordinary prison camps, but everything is a little odd these days. This is former General Dimitri Igoumensita."
The famed Greek joined the ranks of the other officers there. He happened to be standing right next to Krauss. The commandant went on with his daily tirade, then left. The guards dispersed the ranks. Krauss found himself walking alongside Igoumensita.
"You're Krauss, aren't you?" Igoumensita asked, displaying his polyglot once again in German.
They had probably seen each other from across a room, and heard about each other in reputation, but never actually met.
"No need to call me that. You know, I disagreed often with your commander."
"It's understandable, sir."
"You don't seem like too bad of a man though, Krauss," he said, patting the other on the back, "Tell me, when did they hold Metzger's funeral? I would have liked to have attended, if only out of respect for the man bringing together the Coalition."
"It hasn't been held yet," Krauss said, "It's being put off until a less tumutuous time. In other words, they're going to wait until the war's over when every Ally will be so busy celebrating they won't be offended by Metzger being buried in Germany."
"Ah, yes, I had heard about that. A very interesting request."
"It was his last."
"I see. You'll be spending the duration of the war here, then?"
"I probably won't. I'll have to answer for my atrocities rather soon, I'm afraid. I'm surprised they're not charging you at all, considering your close association with Metzger."
"I'm surprised myself. It seems the American's tied their own hands legally by declaring The Claw and Washington D.C. a legitimate country. Most of the Claws could be charged with something from a prior criminal record. I was the pinnacle of righteousness before joining The Claw, though."
"I see. I'd offer you a cigar, but it's my last."
"Thank you. I don't smoke."
"Tell me, do you have a light by any accident, anyway?"
Krauss struck a match on the sole of his shoe and lit the fine cigar which Igoumensita had placed into his mouth. So, they had come in handy. Apparently useless things tended to do that on occasion.
"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."
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