The Devil's Blessing

The Devil's Blessing by Tony Hernandez

Book: The Devil's Blessing by Tony Hernandez Read Free Book Online
Authors: Tony Hernandez
because they all secretly understood, and agreed.

    ❧

    "So what do you think?" Wernher asked Otto. The two men were now outside the basement and outside the house.
    They stood on the side of the house, next to another home that was just as damaged. The weeds had grown up to their thighs, but they were easy to navigate, and it gave them the air they needed while still offering protection.
    "I don't know," Otto said. “I mean, I think she's right. I mean, I know she's right. All the more reason for us to leave."
    "I don't know," Wernher said, looking at the falling snow ahead of him. "Maybe this plan isn't the best. These stories of the Red Army could be just that—stories. Are we so sure that the British and Americans would be so kind? They might be monsters, even more so than the Russians, except that their stories haven't made it out. I don't know. Sometimes I think a bullet would be the best thing to happen to us."
    This gave Otto pause. Perhaps Wernher was right. Maybe they were running from one horrible death to another that was even worse. Plus, Wernher hadn't even brought up the French. They had humiliated and tormented the Russian people, sure, but the French—they had that entire country under their control. They had had their way with all their women and wine; surely they were a more vengeful people. They had made up their minds, however, and Otto still felt that a life under Allied control was better than a Soviet one. But maybe Wernher was right. Maybe a bullet would be the best thing to happen to them. Better than all this unknown. That was the good thing about death. You at least knew what you were going to get.

    ❧

    Wernher took a few steps away from Otto. He had to relieve himself.
    He was a little surprised that he didn't mind Otto’s company. It was no secret that he didn't think too much of the man; he thought him a coward, and everyone knew it, because he didn't keep it a secret. He practically wanted the world to know how much of a coward he was. He knew he wouldn't do anything about it. But now, for some reason, he felt a kinship with him. Maybe it was because they were now in the same precarious situation. Maybe he was just feeling a little--
    Werhner heard the gunshot before he felt it. The bullet hit the right side of his body. He wasn't sure if that was where his liver was, or how far into his body it had hit. All this he thought as he looked up and realized that he was now on the ground, bleeding.
    It was as if Wernher were sleeping in a forest and looking up to the sky, only instead of high trees, there were weeds and tall grass. It was a strangely calming moment within another one that was filling him with panic.
    Then, a giant came over the forest. It was Otto.
    "Come on!" Otto said, as he grabbed Wernher under the armpits, pulling on him. "Can you walk?"
    "I..." Wernher paused,trying to get his footing. He could walk, but it felt as if the bullet had struck a part of his body that held his energy. He was ready to collapse, and his legs felt like a newborns, filled with a desire to walk but with no strength to do it. "Yes," he finally said, draping one arm over Otto. "Just need a little help."
    The two men rushed over as fast as they could to the front door to the Beltz's house. Then that's when they heard it—a sound worse than the gunshot. Russian.
    As Otto opened and closed the front door, they entered the house. For a moment, Otto's panic grew even larger, as he realized the trapdoor was all the way shut this time, making it invisible. Just as he was about to curse, the floor cracked open and a familiar feminine hand pushed it ajar.
    Otto nearly threw Wernher down the stairs as Knef and Lafenz appeared to catch him. As Otto went down the stairs he quickly shut the trapdoor above him, and then he froze on the stairs.
    The Russian voices were so close now, he feared his steps might alert them. They were about to die.

    ❧

    As they scrambled down the stairs, trying to make as little

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