Primal Hunger – Chapter I

I am hungry.

Dieter Müller opens his eyes.  His breath condensates.  Why is it so cold in here?

I am hungry.

Dieter looks at his watch; 4:17 am.  It’s too early; too dangerous.  There will be another selection tomorrow   Where are my blankets?  Why am I dressed? 

I am hungry.

Dieter sits up, and rubs his eyes.  What the hell?

His bunkroom is coated with a thin layer of ice.

Dieter shivers.  How can it be cold?  It’s Spring.

I am hungry.

I heard you.

Dieter slips out into the dimly lit hall.  It seems too long somehow.  Snow blankets the floor.  He straightens his coat and cap, lest he run into an officer, then heads for the exit at the end.  His heart races inside his chest.

This is all wrong.

Every bunkroom door hangs open.  Snow drifts gather against them.  Dieter peaks in the rooms.  All the guards lie in their bunks, their bodies frozen in contorted poses.

My men…  Where’s Colonel Höss?  Why hasn’t someone done something?

I am hungry.

I know.  I’m going.

Outside is frigid.  Dieter looks up.   A full moon shines in a clear sky.  Snow falls in defiance of the impossibility.  The wind blows it about in swirls. The trees and shrubs are flush with thick, green leaves.  The flower garden of the Commandant’s villa blooms.

This is madness.

At the gate to the prisoner compound two guards stand frozen, staring at Dieter.  Blood pools at the threshold from dripping above.  Blood icicles hang above from the iron sign across the gates that reads:

“WORK MAKES YOU FREE.”

auschwitz-entrance

Dieter splashes across the bloody threshold, leaving crimson boot prints behind him.

Music, carries on the wind.  He knows the tune.  It’s changed somehow; deceptive as its sinister intent.  The prisoner band stands rigid where they always play for new arrivals, with instruments in hand.  Their eyes follow Dieter as he passes.  The music plays on.

Something’s amiss.  The blood, the band.  Why is it so hard to think?

I am hungry.

I’m going.

Dieter heads for the political prisoners block.

No.  A Daughter of Israel.

Dieter alters his course.  A number 10 hangs next the door to the building he enters.

He turns the light switch in vain.  Only the moon illuminates the scene.

Blood on the floor runs like quicksilver, and flows down the hall and up the stairs.

He follows.

The blood makes its way to cell door 15-B, then flows under into the room.  Dieter unlocks it, and steps inside.  With a flashlight he looks at the sleeping women.

They’re not frozen like my men.

The blood spreads across the floor.  Dieter splashes in it as he inspect each woman, not knowing what he seeks.

The youngest.

Dieter finds a girl of maybe sixteen.

Humiliate it.  I want screams.

Dieter’s now in the downstairs office, hitting the girl on the back of her head with his pistol, his teeth bared in a grimace.  She’s naked and he thrusts into her from behind.  Her pale blue flesh is ice-cold.

Dieter stops.

Wait.  I know where I am.  I know her.

He turns the girl over.  Her dead, hemorrhaged eyes stare.

Why am I here again?

The girl blinks.  She raises an arm.  The movement rips her rigor mortised muscles; the sound echoes through building.  Dieter retreats.  Her fingers crack and pop as she points.

Dieter shrinks back.  “Stop it.”

The girl cackles, the laughter belonging not to a girl, but to something vile and putrid.  She curses him in Yiddish.  Black bile flows from her mouth.  The curses turn to gurgles.

Dieter yanks his pants up and flees.  She shambles after him, cursing, and cackling.  Dieter runs slipping and sliding on the frozen hall until he falls through the door, and lands in the snow outside.

Beams from a hundred flashlights shine down on him.

“An Oberscharführer of the SS sullies himself with Jew whores?  You’ll be court marshaled for this, Müller.”

This shouldn’t be happening.

Wake up, Dieter.

What?

Wake up.

Dieter wakes on a bed of layered clothing in the bottom of the bomb crater he has made his home.  A small pile of embers glow.  He sits up.

I was dreaming again.

You have a penchant for it of late.

The far side of the impact crater is littered with bones, boots, belts and shoes.  The crater is covered by a make-shift roof of rubble.

I am hungry.

So am I.  He sifts through the bones.

I am hungry, Dieter.

I heard you.  Can’t I feed myself first for once?

Your resistance disturbs me.

Dieter ceases his searching.  “I’m not resisting, Goddamnit, I just … fuck it, never mind.”

Dieter climbs up the slope and pushes a sheet of metal aside.  Sunlight pierces the dark crater through the hatch.  Dieter shields his eyes.  He grabs his Gewehr infantry rifle and crawls out.

Snow covers the war-ravaged ruins of Stalingrad.  Not a single building stands intact.  Sporadic rifle reports echo from far north.

Dieter heads south, dashing from cover to cover.  He moves, hides, checks his surroundings, then moves again.  A half mile south of his crater he pauses.

This is where we found the old woman.  Maybe there’s more.  An old woman can’t survive alone.

You proved that.

I meant she’s got to have family near.  Can you sense anyone?

Yes.

A shot rings out exploding into the brick wall only a foot from Dieter’s head.  He dives to the ground.

That’s a Gewehr rifle.  Why didn’t you tell me?

I did.

“Hold your fire.  I’m German.”

“You hit?”

“No.  I’m coming out.”  He peeks around the wall.

Three German soldiers look down from a large hole in the second floor wall of the building across the street.  Dieter hurries over and heads up the stairs.

He find the trio huddled around a large, tri-pod mounted MG-42 machine gun.  The guilty soldier holds his Gewehr rifle up apologetically.

“I’m sorry, brother.  You looked Russian.”

Dieter looks himself over.  He had forgotten he was wearing Russian boots and wool pullover cap.

“I took them off some Reds I retired.  Their winter boots are better.  Finding ones that fit is the tough part.”

“Who you with?”

“24th Division, 4th Panzer, Group-B.”

“Stuck inside the perimeter with us 6th army fools.  Lucky you.”

“Yeah, lucky, that’s just how I feel.  General Hoth’s a ruthless bastard but, I wish I was with Group-A now.”

“Where’s you squad?”

“I’m alone.  Can’t find anybody.  We’re all split up.  I’m glad you didn’t open up with the 42.”  He gestures to the big machine gun.

“Wouldn’t waste the ammo on one lousy Red.” the machine gunner says.

The would-be-sniper looks to his comrades.  They each give a nod.  He turns and offers a gloved hand to Dieter.  “I’m Gregor.  This is Alfred, and Eckhart on the MG.”

“Dieter.”  He shakes Gregor’s hand.

I am hungry.

“I have tobacco.”

They all look at Dieter disbelieving.  He digs a pouch out.

“It’s Russian, but it smokes.”

Gregor slaps Dieter on the shoulder.  “I guess you can stay then.”

Dieter sits on a pile of bricks and rolls a cigarette.

I am hungry, Dieter.

I am trying.

Do something.

I will.  I’ve got to get away, then we’ll…

Now, Dieter.

They’re Germans.

Now.

There are three of them.

It has been weeks since the old woman.  I am famished.  You know the bargain; do it, or suffer in their stead.

Dieter hands Alfred the smoke.  “There’s not enough room at this position for us all to get a firing lane.  Gregor, you and I should take a position upstairs.”

“You have the tobacco, you lead and I’ll follow.” Gregor replies.

Excellent.

The stairs go up a flight to a landing, then turn right and continue up to the third floor.

Some of the roof has caved in.  Part of the forward wall has collapsed, and nearly half the back.

“This doesn’t look too safe, brother.” Gregor says.

“This is Stalingrad; nowhere is safe.  I’ll roll us a cigarette, you look out the rear.”

Gregor nods and lays prone behind debris at the back wall.

Dieter looks at the soldier’s back, his heart pounding, threatening to explode from his chest.

Feed me, Dieter.

The others, they might hear.

Do it.

He’s German, Goddamnit…

Do it.

I don’t…

Kill it.  Kill it.  KIIIIILL IIIIIIIIIIIIT….

Dieter pulls a length of rope from his coat.  He wraps it tight around his hands.

Forgive me, brother.

He drops a knee into the small of Gregor’s back as he whips the rope around the prone soldier’s neck, crosses the lines, and pulls.

Gregor instinctively reaches up to his neck with both hands dropping his rifle.  He thrashes wildly, fighting to survive.

Yes.

Dieter bares his teeth as he arches back.  Gregor manages to turn his head, and with one bulging eye, looks back at the man choking the life from him.

Dieter sees the fear of death in Gregor’s pale blue eye, and the unmistakable question; “Why?”

Dieter’s strength falters.  He relents a moment.

Finish it.

Dieter thrust down with his knee again and pulls with all his might on the rope.

Gregor’s purple tongue protrudes from his mouth.  Veins pop in his eye as it hemorrhages and rolls up into his head.  Gradually he grows weaker; his struggles lesson, then finally cease.  His arms drop limp.  His head lolls forward.

Dieter release the rope and steps back and inhales in a great gasp.  Beads of sweat run down his face in spite of the cold.

Come, my sweet.  Come to me now.

Gregor’s body shimmers.  His glowing spirit ascends out of his corpse.  He looks at Dieter, his countenance fearful and confused.  He points at Dieter accusingly.

Dieter’s body shutters, then emanates an ethereal black mist.  From out of him a shadow rises and takes shape, monstrous and menacing.  Amber eyes glow in its looming darkness.

The essence of Gregor sees the horror, and turns to flee.  The demon lashes out with its shadow talons and snatches Gregor’s spirit.  It howls as Gregor screams; an ecstasy and agony only Dieter can hear as he turns away from the murder of Gregor’s soul.

The demon-shade devours the wailing spirit of Gregor, swallowing his light into its darkness.  Gregor’s screams fade as he is pulled down … down into nothingness.

The shadow-demon expands, moaning in sweet rapture, then is silent, and retreats back into Dieter.

The others.

No.  No more.  I’ve done what I must.

The others.

“No!” he shouts aloud.  Dieter freezes, realizing what he’s done.

Well done.  You have no choice now.

Dieter hears someone coming up the stairs.

“Gregor, what’s going on.”  Alfred inquires from the below the landing.

The demon chuckles.

Dieter tosses the rope aside, then grabs Gregor and hurls him off the building.  The body thuds on the ground three floors below, just as Alfred turns the corner to the landing.

“Everything alright?”

Dieter looks down at Gregor’s body.  “He fell.”

“What?”  Alfred hurries up the second run of stairs and looks over the edge.  “How did he fall?”

“I don’t know.  He just slipped and went over.”

“He lies.” Eckhart shouts from behind them.

Dieter and Alfred turn to see Eckhart on the stair landing pointing his pistol at Dieter.

“I just saw Gregor’s body fall.  He’s killed him.  He’s a Russian impostor.”

Alfred looks at Dieter confused.

Kill them now.

Dieter hip-fires hitting Alfred in the abdomen and ducks behind the wall of the stairway as Eckhart fires grazing him in the shoulder.

Dieter points his rifle around the corner and blind-fires down the stairwell.  Eckhart cries out.

Alfred fires a half second after, hitting Dieter in the right leg knocking it out from under him.  Dieter falls to the ground, his Russian cap flies off.  He rolls over to aim at Alfred.

Alfred, severely wounded, teeters to his left and fires again, and hits the floor near Dieter’s face.  Bits of the shattered round and concrete pepper his forehead.

Dieter returns fire, hitting Alfred in the left shoulder.  Alfred spins back and falls out the opening of the wall.  He screams briefly until he hits the ground with a sickening SMACK.

Dieter sits up.  Blood runs down his forehead and into his eyes.  He wipes it away only to have more pour down.  He tries again in vain.

Get down there.

Wait…

They’re not dead.  I want them.

Wait.

Dieter scoots against the stairwell wall and listens.  He hears grunting and movement from below.  He unbuttons his coat and tears a thick strip of a shirt away.  He wipes at his face again then ties the cloth around his forehead.  He grabs his cap and pulls it down low.

He peeks around the corner to find the stairwell empty.  He stands favoring his left leg and limps down to the landing.  He hears Eckhart grunting loudly now, in obvious pain, and something like metal scraping on concrete.  Dieter peeks around the corner down the next flight.

All clear.

He limps down.  At the bottom of the stairs he give a quick look around the corner into the 2nd floor.

Eckhart lies on the floor aiming the big machine gun at the stairwell.  He opens fire.  The five-second burst sends 240 7.92 mm rounds blasting into the brick wall of the stairwell, and half of those ricocheting in all directions.

Dieter dives back up the stairs and crawls to the landing.  Ricochets graze his hip, left arm, and ear.  He scrambles around the corner and up to the 3rd floor, then rolls clear of the stairwell.

Eckhart ceases fire.  “How do you like that, you Russian pig-fucker?  You still alive?  Huh?”

Dieter pulls off his coat and layers of shirts to check his wounds.

His arm is a grazing shot just below the deltoid.  It did hit bone though and hurts terribly.  If it fractured the bone, even a little, it could be a real problem.

The hip is a little worse.  The destroyed fragment of the MG round struck bone there too, and is embedded in his abdomen.  Not deep though.  The ricochet took most of the punch out of it.  Dieter can feel it right below the skin.  The wound won’t kill him, but an infection will if he didn’t get it out treated properly.

“Come on down you Red bastard.”

If only I had a grenade.

“That was fun … let’s … do it again.”

He’s fading.  I couldn’t see where I hit him but he obviously can’t stand.  I’ll wait it out.

No.  I want it.

I can’t get down there.  He’s covering the only way.

Find another.

There is no other way.

Your refusal has caused this.  Now find a way.

Fuck you.  I can’t.  I won’t.

So be it.

A piercing shriek tears through Dieter’s head.  His hands cover his ears.  He screams and rolls around in the dust, the agony unbearable.  The shrieking rises in pitch and volume; like a thousand razors, it cuts through his mind.

“Stop.  Stop.  STOOOOOP!”

It ends as abruptly as it began.

Dieter lies on his side still holding his ears, panting heavily.  Tears stream from his eyes, sweat from his face, mucus from his nose, and spit from his mouth.

Downstairs, Eckhart laughs.  “You don’t sound very well, cocksucker.  My MG put a few in you, huh?  Come down here, I’ll fix you right up.”

Find a way, Dieter.

Dieter only nods.

He crawls over to his clothes, and pulls his shirts and coat back on.  He sees the rope he strangled Gregor with, grabs it, and goes to the hole at the front of the building.  He ties the rope to a twisted length of rebar jutting out from the shattered section of the floor there.  He leans out and looks down to the next floor.

The opening where the MG was set up is over to the left a bit, but a shattered window may provide a line of fire if he can’t swing over to it.

Damn it.  If I had my pistol.

He snatches up his rifle and wraps the shoulder strap around his forearm, and tucks the butt snug in his armpit.  He grips the rope with all his strength, and edges out the hole.

He drops down, kicks off the building, and swings into the hole onto the second floor.

Eckhart sitting behind the machine gun looks behind as Dieter lands.  ”You sneaky Russian motherfucker.”  He snatches up his pistol with his free hand and snap-fires back as Dieter levels his Gewehr and shoots.

Eckhart’s shot grazes Dieter’s ribs under his left arm.

Dieter’s shot punches through Eckhart’s neck.

Eckhart’s pistol-hand fires a three-round reflexive burst high and wide as the MG-42 roars and fires up the wall and across the ceiling the other way, until Echart’s hand slips off the stock.  He drops the Luger as his body slumps over.

Dieter stands over the dying Eckhart who rolls to his back and looks up at him.  The machine gunner coughs up blood, the crimson spray spewing up and raining down like a crimson geyser.  He raises a shaking arm and points at Dieter, then with sheer force of will manages to speak a final time, blood and saliva spraying as he spits his hatred out.

“Fuck-ing Russian … you’ll burn in … Hell.”

He was right on one count.  Dieter saw no need to correct him on the other.

Eckhart’s arm drops and his head lulls to the side.

Yes, come now…

Eckhart shimmers, and his soul rises up from his corpse.  It stares in horror at the phantom fiend rising out of Dieter.  The spirit points with the same finger, shaking its head.

“No.”

Dieter closes his eyes.  The demon laughs as it devours Eckhart’s soul.

The other one alive?

It’s gone.  They’re yours now.

 

Continued in Chapter II

 

Thank you so much for reading!

I REALLY WOULD LIKE TO GET FEEDBACK ON EACH CHAPTER OF PRIMAL HUNGER, PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT REGARDING YOUR THOUGHTS OR EMAIL WITH THE LINK PROVIDED IN THE SHARE SECTION,  chrisshawbell@gmail.com    — THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT

-Chris

nazi-floric

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4 Comments

  1. Chapter 1 has me intrigued as to what happens next. It was a little hard to follow at first, but I attribute that to my unfamiliarity with combat stories. After the dream, I was able to grasp and follow. Conversations between characters were extremely realistic. The input of the colloquialism “Reds” lends credence to the character personalities. Overall, I think it was very well done and makes me want to read the next chapter. 🙂

    Reply
  2. Reblogged this on Tortured Sleep and commented:
    Chris is a driven and hugely talented writer, as well as a close friend. If you’re here and you haven’t already read it, this is Primal Hunger. Enjoy.

    Reply
  3. ltdalin

     /  January 13, 2013

    I don’t know if I’m terrified, or in love, with this piece.

    I agree with Rocco613 about the dialogue. It feels very natural, I , for one, completely understand his submission to the Demon.

    You built suspense well by not initially making it clear what was happening. You set the tone for the piece by allowing the dream to serve as a starter, which tipped me off as to what I could and should expect from the rest.

    That being said, I neither expected or anticipated any of it, so as far as originality goes, you nailed it.

    One thing I was especially impressed by, was the gun-scene involving all of them. It was quick paced, orderly, and informative. It could very easily have been chaotic, but you paint a very clear picture.

    I’m hopping over to part II now.

    Reply
  4. rocco613

     /  December 2, 2012

    Really good writing Chris. The dialogue between Dieter and the demon is fluid and feels natural. Good start.

    Reply

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