The night held no terrors for me now. What is fear? A stimulus response to some perceived distressing event? It is just a mechanism for the survival of the human life- and endless cycle of propagation for the selfish needs of the human genome before its inevitable death.
It is curious that only after one’s own death the whole concept of fear seems ridiculous. There is nothing to really fear except the feeling of fear itself- for I have found the true nature of it. Fear is just the distress perceived before we cross into the unknown. Knowledge...the gift and folly bestowed upon all men from the dawn of creation by the gods-or one god- I truly don’t know, even now in this true eternal after life. Knowledge can build a man up in his own society…and destroy him just as swiftly. If knowledge is truly man’s greatest gift then why do they run from it so? Why do they fear death when it is knocking on their door? Cross into the unknown I say, and receive the gift of your birthright…the unknown.
For myself, I went willingly into the unknown, into the dark strangers familiar hands-like a lover once long lost and now returned… and I awoke enlightened. It has been near 60 some odd years and I remember it like it was just yesterday…
German Interior -1945.-Front Line-The Battle of Berlin.
The shells boomed with the thunderous echo of the wrath of heaven. The Nazi strong hold of Berlin had been bombarded steadily by the Red Army for what seemed an eternity now-in reality it couldn’t have been more than a few days. The war for control of the capital was not going well.
Back then I was part of the Hitler-Jugend, now known in most modern English speaking countries as the Hitler Youth. I wasn’t much older than I seem now…about eighteen or so. With the heavy casualties that the SS army had sustained from Allied attacks, we were recruiting younger and younger-some boys merely as old as twelve years of age could be seen fighting amongst the broken ruins of shelled buildings in their Nazi chic blood stained brown shirts, proudly flying the swastika on their bright red armbands and screaming defiance in the face of the oncoming tide of red. I find it funny now how their blood had matched the color of their arm bands as they lay in a pool of their delicious, life giving essence-something I would never have noticed in the life I then lead.
Even during that time I wasn’t a supporter of my own people. The Nazi party had swiftly swept across the country I once called home in 1933, eventually seizing total control over the peasantry and common people. At the time the change in Germany’s interior politics and national identity seemed to make amends of the great shame the people had suffered after the Great War. The rebuilding of the superior German over the disadvantaged German of a few years prior seemed like a dark nightmare, that was finally proven as a thing of fancy and fright that one experiences when asleep. The long night was over. The German people could hold their heads up at last and rebuild. Little did they know that the sweet promise of a new direction in the lives of the ordinary people would eventually turn into brief, misguided glory for most, and a hellish nightmare with no reprieve- save death itself for any deemed “inferior” than the idealized Aryan image of the time.
It began slowly with the boycott of Jewish doctors, lawyers, and shop owners in 1933 and eventually culminating it what is now known collectively as The Holocaust from 1940 to 1945- with the extermination of hundreds of thousands of German Jews in any German controlled area. The war that ensued between the major powers of the world at the time was nothing short of bloody and hideous-the fate of the average man decided as mere lines of battle on a map, as the whims of a few people in control played out over the course the next five years.
Day and night the shells from the artillery guns and planes bombing from above echoed in city streets across Europe, like some song of a sick and demented other worldly choir- much as it did that life altering day in Berlin. The music still plays in what passes for my dreams in this life now, though it grows fainter with each receding decade as I slip into my current state of affairs more completely and willingly.
Blond hair and blue eyes went a long way in those days. I guess I should have been grateful back then that I was fortunate enough to be blessed with both, for they ensured my survival just long enough for the change to occur. For many who were not born into the perfect image of man,-as decreed by the Fuher- they were quick to met the unknown journey that all men made throughout the course of human existence. My only boyhood friend, Geoff-at least I think his name was Geoff, the memories are becoming fainter and fainter as my transformation becomes more complete- was not one of the fortunate ones to be born blond haired and blue eyed. Being born of Jewish decent with dark watery eyes and a mop of stringy thin black hair over a pallid complexion framed by a chubby face, his early end was all but predetermined. I still vaguely remember the day they came for me to join the youth movement that had swept the nation. I was conscripted just a few days after I had turned fourteen. The soldiers had lead me from the home of my parents- their names and faces now barley an inaudible whisper in my mind-speaking of the glory and honour in being chosen to be the future of a greater and more civilized Germany. Across the street where Geoff lived, troops were storming the slightly run down three story apartment building, rounding up all residents and putting them to the question of the origins of their decent. As I got into the back of an old Mercedes whose model I can’t currently recall, I remember seeing Geoff being pushed down the steps amidst his family and other detainee’s. I still remember the look of fear in his watery brown eyes. Whatever happened to him then I do not know, for the car drove off, and I was being introduced to two other boys like myself in the midst of the swirling cloud of dust vehicle kicked up as we departed from that place I once called home. Whatever happened to Geoff in the end as history has shown could not have been anything pleasant. I can probably assume with confidence, that whatever shred of human morality that still resides within me in this after life, is thanks to the look of absolute terror on the face of a fourteen year old Jewish boy that I had once called a friend.
In four devastating years of endless war for the rest of the world, I had trained and listened to the propaganda of the Hitler Youth movement. The more I learned from my teachers at the time the more and more deluded I became. I even once got to meet the man the movement was named for. I can recall him standing there with his wispy comb over framing his increasingly weathered face. He looked like a man who never stopped thinking, and never stopped plotting. He stood there and smiled a politician’s smile-all pleasantness and cheer as he surveyed the ranks of boys standing at attention- wrinkling his nose in feigned pride and amusement, causing his funny moustache to twitch. I remember being awed by the man who would become one of the world’s greatest leaders; one of the world’s greatest murders in truth, and I remember thinking I wanted to be just like him when I became a man. Well…ironically, I got my wish, of sorts.
As the war waned down to its final months I was sent to the receding front lines of the German front. It was there I celebrated my eighteenth birthday among a sea of desolation and fire. As we were beat back by the Soviets to the East, and the British and Americans to the West, the day of my fate culminated amongst the battle for Berlin. It all happened so quickly. I was trying to move from the blasted out wall that had been my shelter to a building across the street when a Soviet soldier stepped out from the doorway I had desperately been running towards. Raising his rifle to aim for my chest, I still remember the hungry look that came into his black eyes as I froze at the sight of his raised weapon. In truth, I wasn’t ready to die right then, and somehow I like to believe the solider knew that, for in that instant he dropped his rifle to the ground and launched himself at my paralyzed form with the speed and power of the mythical.
“This will be over quickly. You will not suffer,” his voiced rasped in perfect German inside my ear, as I fell to the stone covered ground from the force of his impact.
That is when I felt his teeth, sharp as the needle my mother use to sow my shirts with, sink into the artery in my neck like a hot knife parting butter. Then the pain hit. It was unlike anything I had ever experienced. A thousand fires had been lit inside my body, burning every cell as the Soviet gorged his appetite on my life-blood.
When he had his fill, the Soviet Solider stayed for a time to watch me die. I remember the blood dripping from his mouth and his cold black eyes staring into mine. Then he did the most unexpected thing in the chaos. He slit open his own wrist with one of his fangs, and gently squeezed drops of his own blood into my limp mouth.
“This on the other hand will hurt a lot...” he rasped once more into my ear, before he disappeared into the chaos that consumes the city.
And hurt it did. For hours I lay on the ground convulsing in spasms as my internal organs began to wither and change shape, as my bones grew stronger and more hollow, rearranging them for my new life. All this time I could not scream as the battle for the city raged around me, for the venom in his bite had burned my vocal chords to ash. Two days I lay like this on the stone floor as the Allied Forces slowly worked their way into the city. In two days I was dead. In those two days, I was reborn a vampire....and I was hungry.