I woke up in a bed I did not know. I looked to my right, and saw her staring down at me. My ex-girlfriend. The stripper my wife was so jealous of. She was smiling a wicked smile, and in a purring voice said “Don’t be afraid, you’re safe now.”
I looked around, panicked. The room wasn’t familiar to me, and I couldn’t remember how I’d gotten there. One thing was for sure, though. I knew if my wife found out where I was, there would be hell to pay.
I jumped up, and ran for the door, stark naked. I couldn’t see where my clothes were, and I was in no mood to look for them. As I ran, I heard her voice trailing behind me, “Why are you running? You might as well stay here. She doesn’t want you anymore, anyway, now that you’ve been with me.”
The words spurred me on. Reaching the door, I threw it open and dove inside, hoping to escape. Instead, I found myself in a movie house with two screens. One showed North Shore, the other Endless Summer. I heard that same familiar purring voice creep up behind me, “You see, I got some of your favorite movies, just to please you. Now why won’t you stay with me, so we can please each other?”
As she reached for me, I turned, and dove through one of the movie screens full of white surf and tanned bodies. I found myself on the other side, sitting on train tracks in the middle of a dark pine forest. There was a low-lying mist, and the grass lining each side of the tracks was lush and green.
I stood up. I could smell the creosote on the train ties, and could feel the gravel crunching under my feet as I walked. The grass bordering the tracks was neatly groomed, as pristine as a golf course. The late-Summer smell of fresh-cut grass overwhelmed me.
At first, everything seemed muffled by the mist. Then I realized that I wasn’t hearing anything at all. Except for the sound of a single child, crying. Immediately, I knew it was my nine-month old son. I didn’t know where he was, but somehow I felt he was further down the tracks.
So I started running. I came to a slight bend in the tracks, turning right into the forest, and I could hear my son’s cries getting louder.
As I rounded the bend, I found myself in the middle of a crowd of refugees. There were men, women and children, old, young, sick, healthy. They were all in tattered clothes and rags. Instinctively, I knew who they were. They were Jews, waiting to be herded into the gas chambers.
Then I realized that I was running along the train tracks into Auschwitz. Yet even though I could see the people talking amongst themselves, and could even see several men playing violins in the crowd, I could hear nothing.
Nothing except my son crying
The people all looked happy. Somehow, I knew that they all thought they were going to be freed from the ghettos. Somehow, I knew that they all felt as though they had found new hope.
I tried to cry out, tried to warn them. I tried to tell them to run, run as far and as fast as they could. To tell them that Hell was waiting for them up the tracks.
But they couldn’t hear me. It was like watching a movie with the sound turned down. Still, I could hear my own son crying further up the tracks. So I started running again. I passed through the crowd of refugees, all of whom let me move by easily, and found myself moving through a fog much more dense than before. Soon, I couldn’t see anything at all, although I knew somehow that I was walking past the gas chambers themselves.
Then, I came through on the other side. The refugees were gone, but now there was a smell. The smell of burning, the smell of death. As I opened my mouth to cry out, I was nearly choked with grey ash. I knew what it was, and tried as hard as I could to spit it out. Spurred on by the sound of my son’s cries, I kept walking. But I couldn’t see him anywhere, no matter how hard I tried.
Finally, I came to a great mountain looming before me. At first, I couldn’t tell what it was. But as I came closer, I saw. It was a mountain of skulls. Tiny, children’s skulls. I started crying uncontrollably, and dove into the pile, frantically looking for my son. Somehow, I hoped that I would recognize his skull if I found it. I picked up skull after skull, child after child, looking to find my own.
I never did.