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Synopsis

THIS IS CHAPTER ONE. The Story Of The Man is a surreal picaresque piece intended for adults. With regard to tone, it juxtaposes between the mundane and the extreme whilst also underpinned with an ironic dark humour.

It’s written in first person from the point of view of a nameless, naive, good natured young man who finds himself in a harsh alternate dystopian version of present day Britain. He appears to have no agenda and similarly approaches all situations from a neutral journalistic manner. This contracts greatly with most of the pivotal characters who are introduced with nightmarish back stories.

As the story progresses he is presented with a Faustian bargain whereby ultimately he must follow what he believes to be morally correct and suffer the consequences or either be coerced into leading a more materially comfortable but corrupt existence.

-It doesn’t end particularly well.


Chapter 1

Employment

‘EARN BIG MONEY FASTER THAN YOUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS’– No experience necessary. Call today.

Initially I was put on hold for a few minutes before I spoke to my prospective employer, Mr Rainbird. It was a brief conversation whereby he asked me only two things, my age and if I could hold the attention of a complete stranger whilst simultaneously treating him as though he were an inanimate object. I replied that I wasn’t sure but I would certainly try. He then instructed me as to where we should meet so we could discuss the advert in further detail.
And so I found myself sitting in a busy upstairs restaurant on the top floor of a retailing establishment. As I ate my carrot cake and drank my coffee a middle aged gentleman with greased back black hair and orange complexion arose from beneath a table that was situated in front of me.
‘Greetings,’ he says with a grin. ‘Are you the vacant person I spoke to regarding the position?’
‘Pardon?’ I reply.
‘Oh sorry. Please excuse me. I meant to say are you the person I spoke to regarding the vacant position?’
‘…yes. That would be me. ‘
I extend my right hand to greet him. Without any warning he suddenly throws himself forwards, holds me in a firm headlock and grapples me on the floor. Despite my screams of protest not one of the other diners lend any assistance however thankfully it’s not long before Mr Rainbird relinquishes his grip and stands up. and straightens his tie.
‘Can I buy you another coffee?’ He asks, straightening his tie and patting down his immaculate white suit.
‘No thank you, I’ve just finished one.’ I reply, glancing down at the broken cup.
Apprehensively, I sit down at the table and watch as he takes out a futuristic looking handgun from his brown leather briefcase.
‘Mr Rainbird please, I haven’t done anything.’ I remonstrate.
‘You are mistaken.’ He says. ‘This is no weapon of ruin. It is something quite more powerful altogether. Here, let me show you how it works.’
He slips two small batteries into a slot at the end of the holster causing it to make a soft whirring noise.
‘This machine is called the Stress Relievant. It is, to put it simply, a hand held body massager that offers the utmost therapeutic relief and peace of mind to all that use it …although it’s a definite plus if they also suffer from a muscle or joint related ailment. It works when the phallus or proboscis is applied around the area of discomfort. It discharges a series of vibrations that encourage blood circulation into the area which in turn stimulates the patient into a state of euphoria. We all know what happens then don’t we? The Stress Relievant also works on three different speeds, normal, fast and heavy-fast. That’s not all, there’s even something for our more discerning customer. The Stress Relievant comes complete with different attachments each with one designed to create a slightly tailored and more intimate experience that can reach all those nooks and crannies that most people don’t even know exist! That’s right my friend, the Stress Relievant really does have no shame!’
At this point some of the other diners in the restaurant have begun to take notice of Mr Rainbird’s spirited dialogue and have gathered around our table.
‘My husband has a medical condition and suffers from brittle bones in his feet,’ declares a woman. ‘Can it do anything to ease his pain?’
‘Of course madam,’ retorts Mr Rainbird. ‘All he needs is a pulse!’
In a flash, Mr Rainbird is at once helping the woman’s husband to a seat and is hoisting both his feet onto the table top.
‘I have never met you before have I sir?’ Asks Mr Rainbird, whipping off the man’s shoes and socks.
‘You most certainly have not!’ Replies the startled man.
Mr Rainbird then appears to be in deep concentration as he gently presses the vibrating machine head against the underside of the man’s right foot. It’s only a matter of seconds before his eyes begin to roll and his head starts to slowly nod.
‘Mmm …good …mmm.’ He murmurs.
‘And now ladies and gentlemen. As you can see the patient is now nicely warmed up and in a moist pleasant state. I will now turn the Stress Relievent up to it’s maximum power setting.’ Mr Rainbird says.
The soft whirring hum changes to a more insistent mechanical judder causing the gentleman to respond most dramatically. His eyes are now fixed upwards to a spot on the ceiling and his soft groans have given way to a stream of unintelligible noises that I can only describe as being like some sort of wail that’s gone wrong.
‘Snaaaaarhhhhh …Yayayayaya …Mmmmmmmnmnmsshhaaarhh …Kchuuuu!’
I’m intrigued by how, in just a matter of seconds this gentleman has thrown all manner of social etiquette to the wind. He is shaking his head back and forth whilst tapping his fingers feverishly onto the surface of the table like he were a lunatic pianist playing along to some sort of obscene symphony. Furthermore, I could not help but notice that some of the onlookers seem to have been affected by this spectacle.
‘That’s it! Take it, take it! Right between the toes.’ Says an animated red faced middle aged woman.
‘Kwaaarrrrhhhh!’
‘Now he knows what it’s like when mummy’s coming home!’ Declares another. 
‘Woooaaahhh!’
Mr Rainbird gives the smile of a champion. As he turns off the machine with a sharp flick of his thumb the gentleman pants softly, slumps forward and gently begins to weep. Presumably he’s now in a state of intense relaxation. The crowd merely stand watching silently spellbound whilst Mr Rainbird calmly unplugs his instrument and packs it back into his briefcase.
‘Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Stress Relievant. This amazing device is available to buy through our internet site for a very competitive price at just one hundred and seventy-five pounds. It comes with all the attachments as well as a complimentary bottle of massaging oil and an instruction booklet however, if you would like to buy one from me today then I can exclusively offer you one at a bargain price knock down price of just one hundred pounds. Yes that’s right ladies and gentlemen, your ears did not deceive you.That’s one hundred English pounds! But please remember, the Stress Relievant is a very popular product and has been selling at a most alarming rate leaving me with only a limited number available with me today so I would suggest that you act quickly before they all go because when they go, they really do go!’
There’s spontaneous applause from the crowd followed by much pushing and shoving as they try to get closer to Mr Rainbird.

‘Now steady on! Please don’t all rush me at once.’ He shouts before glancing at me. ‘Look at them!’ He whispers ‘You see how easy it is to sell these things? We can make an absolute killing! So what do you think? Have you got what it takes for my company?’

‘I’ll try and do my best Mr Rainbird.’ I reply.

‘Excellent! You can start by helping me bring down some Stress Relievant’s from the boot of my car.’ He says, with a wink.

________________________________________________________________

So here I am working in one of the most successful department stores in the country. I’m looking ever so professional in my crisp white shirt and black tie, pressed black trousers and long white doctor’s overcoat as I stand there positioned next to the cosmetics counter. I mentally go over Mr Rainbird’s instructions on how to attract a member of public – first you must block their path, that way there’s no way they can avoid you. After smiling warmly at them the salesperson should recite the following speech of which Mr Rainbird has kindly written out on a piece of paper…

‘Good morning/good afternoon sir/madam. Let me introduce you to the Stress Relievant. It’s a wonderful appliance and similar to the kind of apparatus that an osteopath would use. Do you suffer from any aches and pains? This machine can help you whether it’s angina, arthritis, muscle spasm or if you just want to unwind with your partner after a hard day at work. Don’t be shy sir/madam come and take the weight off your shopping. Let me give you a free demonstration. Did you know at least half of the over fifties population suffers from poor blood circulation?’

The main thing to remember is that the pitch must be delivered loud and quickly so the customer can’t take control of the conversation and consequently finding an opportunity to walk away. Also, it’s imperative that the member of public be treated with politeness with some flattery as this is always favourable too because it helps you to gain their trust …this would apply more to senior citizens. At this initial point if the salesperson has been successful the member of public or customer, can be enticed onto the sales podium and sat down on a chair. Here we show them how the Stress Relievant works by giving them a gentle massage on their shoulders and upper back area. If done correctly this should lull them into what Mr Rainbird describes, a false sense of relaxation. After about twenty seconds then the Stress Relievant can be switched to a higher setting. That’s when we can really go to work! You must remember however that if you over indulge the customer then there’s always the possibility that they might fall asleep! This is not good as statistics have shown that a sleeping customer will generally wont commit to a purchase. Once the salesperson has massaged the customer sufficiently he must then close the sale by persuading them that they simply cannot return to their normal daily routine without one! Unfortunately though I think my sales technique must be lacking as, despite following the sales pitchI’ve only sold one Stress Relievant in the past two days. I’m afraid it doesn’t look very good.

Then something quite unforeseen happened. I spot a thin elderly lady entering the store through the revolving doors. For some reason she’s pushing a child’s pram containing two white plastic carrier bags full of folded newspapers and three ladies handbags that bulge at the seams. With my trusty Stress Relevant cradled in my arms I take a deep breath and start my pitch.

‘Good afternoon Madam, let me introduce you to…’

‘What? Who are you?’ She asks.

‘I’m a salesperson Madam. Have you got a few spare minutes so I can tell you about this wonderful machine?’

‘But I’m on my way upstairs to for my lunch.’

‘It wont take very long. Would you like to take a seat?’

‘That’s very kind of you, thank you. I think I will but you will have to help me as my eyesight isn’t very good.’ She replies.

I have to admit as I take her arm and lead her onto my podium I begin to have my reservations about whether she can afford to buy one as frankly her appearance has been neglected. There’s a patch of white wispy hair growing around her mouth and chin, some of her clothes are frayed and dirty, her shoes particularly are in urgent need of repair. Despite all this I try not make too many presumptions as after all she does have a very posh accent. So, undeterred, I sit her down on the chair and proceed to gently massage her bony shoulders over the fabric of her blouse.

‘Do you know anything about the finer things in life?’ She enquires.

‘I’ve never really thought about it really Madam.’ I reply.

‘When I was nineteen years old I used to be quite a gifted painter you know. I sold quite a few pieces of my work and even won a scholarship to study in Vienna at one of the most prestigious Art schools in Europe.’ She says.

‘Really?’

‘Oh yes. For a short while it was considered by some that I had all the hallmarks of
becoming a great artist. Ah, Germany in the thirties, those were such fine times! I was fortunate enough to be taught by some of the countries finest practitioners who encouraged me to paint in a way that would to expose the inner psyche whilst cleansing themselves of any dead space. ‘

‘Dead space?’

‘…by this I mean anything that could be immediately recognised as being linear or of a formulaic style. The artist has to suspend all responsibility for his actions and exist only as a channel or conductor for a higher energy to flow. There is to be no lateral thinking. Do you understand when I say that truth will always become fabricated the more one tries to rationalise it into a language?’

‘Well I must admit that it’s not something I’ve ever…’

‘And to learning all this amongst a group of vibrant and intelligent young people was such a privilege for me however it wasn’t all esoteric introspection. We would find extra curricular activities to partake. Most would consist of parties and much decadence. Dear old Blighty seemed a very stuffy place in comparison I can tell you. It was at one of these parties where I met and fell in love with a young Fraulein called Eva. The first time I saw her was like being struck by a bolt of electricity. She had long blonde hair and eyes of purest blue. She was the most beautiful Aryan rose. I knew right there that she was the one for me. Sure enough later that same night the gods looked down on us and sighed as we made love under the moonlight. Over the next few weeks our relationship grew to the point where we could not bear to spend a single minute without each other. Some of my friends raised some concern over what they crudely labelled ‘my childish infatuation’ but they didn’t understand …she used to call me her little Englander!

Alas, it was not long before things changed. On one fine day in mid October as we strolled in the park we came upon some sort of procession. There were a crowd of onlookers gathered around a group of angry young men that were dressed in strange black uniforms with red trimmings. Curiously they had tied some dark haired locals to a massive wooden wheel and were whipping them over and over again. At that time nobody really knew the significance of these men or how their crazy rhetoric would shape history, of course now we all understand that they were fascists. I must make it clear at this point that whilst not condoning their actions it’s important to understand how these people came to power. Germany had lost the war and repression had hit hard. With it’s once proud people being treated like dogs by the rest of Europe it was clearly a case of for them wanting a better future.
-As the events played out it also soon became clear that my future was to be elsewhere.

Anyhow, back to the fateful afternoon. I had momentarily left Eva at the procession to buy some roasted chestnuts. When I returned I was surprised to see how animated the crowd had suddenly become with many now shouting and defiantly raising their fists. Very quickly it had all escalated into chaos. Being anxious for Eva’s safety I dropped the chestnuts and pushed myself forwards through the angry mob until eventually I saw her. She had her mouth open and was simply staring at these young firebrands, completely still but for the heaving of her bosoms against her petticoat. It was as if she were enraptured with them!’

‘Over the next few days it soon became clear that she had been influenced greatly by what she had witnessed and as a result things would never be the same again. I first noticed the changes in her when we made love. She was distant and seemed like her mind was preoccupied elsewhere, she only reacted to my touch as though it was an obligation. For me of course this broke my heart. Then the inevitable happened and my life fell apart. She left me for a young Stormtrooper called Ernst. It would seem ironic that all this would also coincide with the terrible events that would consume not just the country but all of Europe. Two months later Germany invaded Poland and the rest is as they say terrible history. I remember being stirred from my depression one morning and gazing out of my bedroom window to see a mass exodus of hundreds of people filling the streets. In hindsight I realise I should have packed my bags and returned to England there and then but I didn’t. I stayed in the vain hope that Eva would come her senses, recognise what perpetrators of evil the Nazis actually were and come back to me …I suppose by that point I was no longer thinking rationally. What transpired a few days after was that I were to lose everything. First my school was closed down after it being labelled a breeding ground for degenerates and Communists, then I was forced to give up my room or face being arrested. In the end I was homeless and reduced to selling all my paints for scraps of food.’

‘But there was a turning point for me. From those dark times grew an angry fire from some deep chamber within my heart. I made a pledge to myself that in return for them taking away my precious Eva I would not rest until I had destroyed the lives of as many of those bastard Krauts as was humanly possible! So I joined the Allied European Resistance and became one of 7,500 freedom fighters working for covert activities against the Nazi regime. I took part in numerous operations of great danger and heroism. I helped rescue British airmen that had been shot down over Austria as well as secretly delivering weapons to the Yugoslav fighters that were hiding in the mountains of Starirad …I even once commandeered a stolen tank from the Russian borders! However it all came to an end when during an operation to blow up a bridge in Frankfurt we were double crossed by our Italian contacts and turned over to the Gestapo. As we were frogmarched onto the back of a truck I caught sight of one of the communication officers. To my utter disbelief I recognised that it was Eva! Strange how life can play these tricks on you, isn’t it?’

‘To be honest I wouldn’t really know.’

‘Hmmm …no you wouldn’t. Young people today haven’t the slightest idea of what it’s like to experience hardship. Not even in your worst nightmares could you understand the sheer degradation of war.

‘But I’d like to know …if you don’t mind telling me.’

‘Oh aren’t you an inquisitive thing? No I don’t mind telling you. What took place happened such a long time ago and can never be undone. Besides, I’m so old now that one’s prudence scarecly means a jig nowadays.’

‘Life in the concentration camp was was horrendous! We were allowed only one hour of daylight, the food could only be described as inedible and the sanitary
conditions were basically merely a hole in the ground …it was no fun trying to find that in the pitch blackness let me tell you! I shared a cell with thirteen other prisoners comprising of a civilians, resistance members and captured soldiers, all of different nationalities. As you can imagine the risk of catching any number of diseases such as dysentery or typhoid was immeasurable. One day though I decided that enough was enough, if our captors wanted to treat us like animals then fine, we would behave like animals! So I decided to stir up as much trouble with the other prisoners as possible. A favourite ruse was to shout at the top of our voices in order to attract the guard, telling him that an inmate had died during the night. As he opened the door we would fling our excrement and vomit at him! How we laughed at stupid Fritz! Of course we were duly punished and starved for days. Also as though to prove a point when one of us did actually die the Germans left the body in the cell to slowly rot. Oh the stench! Can you possibly realise how bad that would have smelt in such a confined space?’

‘No I can’t say that I can. I’ve never seen a dead body before.’

‘Soon we started to believe that the end would be soon on us so we decided the best thing to do was to go out with a fight and try to take a few of the focking bastards with us. You could say that the sheer insanity of the situation had finally caught up with us. We hatched a plan whereby during the brief time we were let out of our cell two of the inmates would pretend to quarrel with each other. Inevitably our captors would intervene and then having diverted their attention a few of us would seize the moment. Hoorah! Like heroes we would force the nearest German to the ground, snatch his rifle and scatter the yard with bullets! Unfortunately that’s not what happened. One of the inmates blabbed to one of the guards, telling him about what we were going to do and so once we were in the yard we were forced to face the wall with our hands tied behind our backs and interrogated. It was decided that I was the ringleader and as a result I was beaten several times with the butt of a rifle until unconscious. When I awoke I found myself alone in a small room laying in a bed that had clean white linen and soft pillows. In those brief lucid waking moments I actually thought that all the horrors of the last two years had been nothing more than a nightmare however when I discovered that my wrists and ankles were bound I could only ask myself ‘What game is this?’ It was not long before a stern faced female nurse entered the room. I asked her where I was and what was to become of me but she merely shook her head, saying nothing. She took a hypodermic syringe from her trolley, held it upwards to flick the end of the needle before sticking it into my exposed left arm. Within a few moments I was overcome with a light-headedness followed by blurred vision and a strange dulling sensation that had the effect of placating me with an indifference of mood. I watched as two soldiers dressed in white military uniforms from the hard hats on their heads to the jackboots on their feet, enter the room and undo my shackles and lift me into a wheelchair. For a fleeting moment I wondered if I should push them away and try to escape but my body felt sluggish and heavy. All I could manage was an inane grin and an incoherent grunt. In fact quite perversely, when one of the soldiers gazed down at me and patted me on the top of the head for some odd reason I felt great affection for him and thought that I would like to kiss him! I was then wheeled out of the room and down a corridor, chuckling ridiculously at the large globe lights that passed above me. Finally we reached another room that appeared to be a rudimentary operating theatre. After being strapped down to the table I gazed on as men and women, wearing white plastic gowns and surgical face masks, scampered around me. I really had no idea why I was there, dear lord! …I was so young!’

‘…er, are you okay?’

‘Yes, I’m fine …just give me a second. Sometimes it seems so vivid in my head. It’s as if it those things happened only yesterday.

‘Can I get you a glass of water?’

‘No thank you …They all crowded around my lower torso and waist which was now naked. Then there was the feeling of warm soapy water against my genitals. Peering down over my chest I could see that they had put my legs up in stirrups and after applying a frothy cream with a small but thickly headed brush, they were proceeding to shave my hair from my body. I saw one of them passing an instrument to another, at first I didn’t know what it was but as it caught the reflection of the bright overhead lamps I realised that it was a scalpel. Through my delirium I tried to protest against this gross arbitration but all I could manage was just a low groaning noise from the back of my throat. I think this must have disturbed my hosts as some kind of mask was suddenly clamped over my face. They must have given me gas as the next thing I knew was that I was drifting in and out of consciousness, all the while there was much chatter in that awful abrasive German language. None of it made any sense.’

‘Okay, that’s the first incision. We mobilise the testicles away from the skin of the scrotum. Cut the cord of the testes and put them in the bin. Once this is done, we turn our attention to the penis. The foreskin is carefully cut from the penile tissue as it will be turned inside and sown up …it’s a bit like skinning a rabbit isn’t it? Next we will dissect the penis however first the glands or tip must be isolated from the neurovascular bundle as this is to be tidied up and made into a clitoris. It’s important that we retain the nerve and blood supply as it may be possible for the patient to feel orgasm. Now pay attention. Here’s something you haven’t seen before, the removal of the entire penis! Pass me those scissors. After the clitoris is shortened and the Urethra are sown into place a cavity has to be forced between the rectum and prostrate. We have to be careful here though because if a hole is made in the wrong place then we could have a temporary disfunction and will have to fit the patient with a colostomy bag for three to four months to prevent faeces pouring out of the wrong place. Next, making the labia. Here the skin is cut and then pulled back up into a higher position in order to form the ridges. Finally with Gender Assignment complete the vagina is then packed in dressing, soaked in antiseptic so as to prevent it from collapsing.’

‘…and then I drifted off into the black sleep.’

‘Oh no!’

‘On waking, I found myself once again strapped to the bed in the small room. There was a dull sensation in my loins. After some time the nurse returned accompanied with a group of males dressed in white coats. I demanded to know what exactly they had inflicted on me but they ignored me. When the hypodermic syringe was once more presented I became hysterical and pleaded with them not to drug me, telling them that I would fully comply with them however it was to no avail as within a matter of seconds I felt myself drifting to back to that dispossessed place.’

‘As we can see our subject is recuperating. He …sorry, pardon me. She will be monitored under our care for another for ten days. At this stage it’s important that we prevent her from disturbing the work we have done. It may interest some of you to know that we recently had one post operative patient who was such a prolific smoker that when she coughed she blew her bloody vagina off from beneath her! But joking aside, there are further duties to perform. The new vagina must for instance, be dilated daily with a 8″ vibrator to prevent it from healing over. Let me demonstrate. First some lubrication, now I’m inserting the vibrator. As you can see it’s going in quite easily and there’s no resistance from the tissue. She’s taken about five inches, that’s a decent size! After a few weeks the vagina will still look a little swollen but once the pubic hairs grow back and later when the scars begin to fade it will look identical to that of any other. Just look at the workmanship of that clitoris! It’s even slightly hooded. Isn’t that fantastic? Finally, once a pair of silicone breast implants have been fitted and we’ve administered the correct dosage of Oestrogen pills our subject will then be complete.’

‘They had used me as a guinea pig for one of their experiments They had turned me into a woman!’

‘I didn’t realise. I thought you were a woman all along.’

‘I beg your pardon.’

‘I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to offend you.’

‘I sometimes dread to think what havoc Histler would have caused had he won the war.’

‘Who’s Histler?’

‘Don’t you know anything? Go to the library and read the history books!’

‘Sorry Madam.’

‘And so during the coming weeks as the effects of the drugs took hold it was difficult not to that feel that my physical body was conspiring against my identity as a male. I developed various external female characteristics such as a lack of facial hair growth, a concentration of weight gain around the hips and thighs, even my voice changed to a higher tone. With the healing of the surgery I noticed that I was now treated with some degree of hospitality. I was fed well and moved to a larger fully furnished room complete with a wardrobe full of the latest fashions. In order to be more feminine they suggested that I should change my name to that of a lady, grow my hair long and wear make-up. I resisted at first of course amidst many tears and a number of dramatic tantrums but eventually I gave in. Actually I soon got the hang of the eye-liner and rouge. Consequently when I looked in the mirror I was rather pleasantly surprised to see that there was quite an attractive woman staring back at me. As for the name, there was only really one that came to mind …Eva. Ironically as it transpired it was being a woman was probably the only thing that stopped me from being killed.’

‘How do you mean?’

‘I had attracted the attention of an admirer. His name was Klaus and was a guard that brought me my medication and apparently I reminded him of his very first fraulein. It had been a long time since anyone had shown any genuine kindness to me and for that I was grateful but don’t misunderstand me, there was not the remotest chance that I could ever reciprocate his affections. After all, I was being held captive and Hun was Hun! I was all too aware of my limited chances of survival in that place so I decided to use Klaus to my best advantage and did what any other girl would have done in my situation.’

‘What did you do?’

‘I led him on by the nose like the fool he was. There were many times when he would secretly visit me for a few stolen moments of intimacy, I did what I had to do and yes I do admit that he was a most considerate lover. Anyhow I digress. One night as he presented himself to me I noticed that he looked rather chop fallen. He told me that he had heard terrible things from the other soldiers, rumours of masses of prisoners from from all over the country that were being taken to the execution camps at Krakow and Belsen. Klaus believed that if this was true then it would only be a matter of time before the inmates in our prison joined them. He then told me that he was in love with me.’

‘Did you tell him that you used to be a man?’

‘Of course I didn’t. I wasn’t going to ruin things by telling him a damned stupid thing like that!’

‘What happened next?’

‘I recognised Klaus’ pain as I too had gone through similar emotions for Eva. I also knew that he’d do anything that I asked even if it meant risking his own life. So I seized the moment and asked for him to help me escape.’

‘What did he say?’

‘He didn’t say anything at first. He just stood there blubbering like a bloody imbecile. I will never forget his expression as he contemplated his options. If he helped me, it would surely mean that couldn’t see me anymore and alternatively, if I stayed then it would mean I would soon be executed. Either way he would surely lose me and bear the brunt of a broken heart. In the end he agreed after I told him that our parting would only be a temporary measure, that once the war was over we would be together. All lies, you understand.’

‘How did you escape?’

‘Klaus told me that it was not uncommon for some of the local frauleins from a nearby village to provide beer and service the night guards in return for a few Deutsche Marks. This sort of practice was not strictly in accordance to the prison regulations but it was known that the commandant would turn a blind eye. Klaus had the idea that I could pretend to be one of these ladies. It wasn’t something either of us were comfortable with but we realised it was the only way.’

‘When you say these women would service the guards what do you mean exactly?’

‘Don’t be so naive! These men had been away from their families for a long time and were obviously very frustrated. Can you imagine trying to win the war with a regiment of celibate soldiers? Morale had to be high and needs had to be met. When the time came I was taken aback by how easy the whole thing was as most of the soldiers were just boys that couldn’t hold their beer and subsequently had fallen in a drunken stupor. I have to admit there was a temptation to take one of their rifles and shoot the lot of them but I resisted as I knew the commotion would have attracted attention. One of the other girls who went by the name of Lotte realised that I was a prisoner and decided to help me. It turned out that she hated the Nazis as much as I did due to them setting fire to her parents home. So after we had finished off the last soldier we were simply escorted by one of the sentry guards to the perimeter gates. After nearly three years I was finally free!’

‘Did you ever see Klaus again?’

‘No. I stayed with Lotte only for a short time before fleeing the country. By this time it was late 1944 and despite that the war was drawing to an end I was still extremely careful not to attract too much attention to myself so I travelled alone on foot and tried to stay away from the roads. Of course there was so much devastation wherever I went, towns were in virtual ruin and the people were now destitute and starving. There would be talk of how the German soldiers were being outfought and surrender to the Allied forces so in many places complete disorder had broken out. I remember seeing a whole German garrison outnumbered and torn apart by an angry crowd comprising of man, woman, child and animal. When the first of the Allied soldiers arrived in that place they must have struggled to comprehend exactly who was being liberated from what. Anyhow, I managed to reach Brussels where I was taken under the care of Her Majesties Forces and transported to a hospital in France. That was when I began to experience terrible sickness and stomach cramps. On examination I was told that I was six weeks pregnant.’

‘Pregnant?’

‘It just goes to show how advanced the German scientists were doesn’t it?’

‘Did you tell the hospital staff about the sex change operation?’

‘No. As far as they knew I had been a female prisoner of war and that was exactly how I wanted it to stay. I knew that if the truth came out that I would be carted off to some laboratory and dissected in a medical journal as though I were some kind of freak of nature. I just wanted to go home and live my life in peace.’

‘Did you give birth ?’

‘Yes. I had a baby boy.

‘Was Klaus the father?’

‘I don’t know. He could have belonged to a number of dead German soldiers …the Fatherland. That’s rather apt isn’t it?’
‘Well madam that was quite a story. Thank you for sharing it with me.’

‘And I enjoyed your machine very much. I’ll take one. How much are they?’

‘Oh, one hundred pounds. It also comes with these four attachments and…’

‘You’ll have to help me with my money as my eyes are very weak. Now, if you pass me over one those bags. I’ve just withdrawn my allowance money that I’m awarded every year by the Secret Service, for all my efforts during my years in the resistance. I prefer to look after my own savings as I don’t trust the banks.’

‘Okay Madam I’m unzipping one of the bags. It’s completely full of bundles of ten and twenty pound notes.’

‘That’s right. Each one should be a thousand. Take one out and count out a hundred pounds for me.’

‘I’m taking off the elastic band. Ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, sixty, there’s a twenty pound note. Eighty, ninety and one hundred pounds. Okay Madam I’m putting the remainder of the money back in the handbag. I’m zipping it up and placing it back with the other bags. There, all done.’

‘Splendid! I’m going upstairs to the restaurant now to have my lunch.’

‘Don’t forget your coat. Here let me help you.’

‘Oh yes, thank you. So kind.’

‘Now I hope you take care with all those bags of money and have a safe journey.’

And with that I breathed a great sigh of relief and watched as she trundled down the aisleway amongst the other shoppers. I had just made a sale.

________________________________________________________________

It’s half past nine on Monday morning. I’ve been called away from my job and told to wait outside Mr Rainbird’s office. I’m a little down hearted with this as I believe that with a little more time I could prove myself an asset to the company. I hear Mr Rainbird’s muffled voice asking me to enter so nervously I reach for the door handle. He’s sitting behind a large desk. To his left is a row of grey metal cabinets and to the side of that is a…

‘Yes, yes, yes! Stop looking around at my office!’ Bark’s Mr Rainbird. ‘Hurry up and sit down. I have a busy schedule and I don’t have time for this. So if you don’t mind!’

‘Of course.’ I reply, sitting down opposite him.

‘Do you have any idea why you are here today?’ He asks.

‘No sir. I do not.’

‘Well then I’ll be blunt with you. My superiors at head office have notified me that they are very unhappy with your progress. After some deliberation they have come to the decision that you are no longer required.’

‘What does this mean?’

‘You failed us as a salesperson. We have to let you go. Here’s a cheque for services rendered. On behalf of the company please accept our best wishes for the future.’

‘But what did I do wrong? I sold some Stress Relievants didn’t I?’

‘Not enough for the busy times we live in.’

‘Shouldn’t I have received some sort of a warning?’

‘Certainly not! It was felt that you just did not have the right stuff that it takes to survive in this industry.’

‘But I think that I do. Would your company possibly consider giving me a second chance?’

‘I shouldn’t think so. Do you remember a customer you served on Friday afternoon? a lady by the name of Evelyn?’

‘Well, yes …but I made a sale with her.’

‘She is not what she seems. She works for us as a spy. Her role was to monitor your progress.’

‘I thought I was very polite to her.’

‘It turns out you were too polite! Let us look at the facts. You were presented with an elderly member of the community that was practically blind, physically weak and in the early stages of senility. This would make her extremely vulnerable, yes? It transpires too that not only was she wealthy but she also carries practically her entire life’s savings around with her. A person with guile would have seen this as a most opportune moment. They would have charged her at a higher rate or perhaps even slip a couple of thousand pounds into their pocket but you never did that did you? You let her get away with all her money intact!’

‘Yes, that’s right.’

‘You are a fool to yourself and you are wasting my time.’

‘Pardon?’

‘I would like you to leave my office now.’

‘I don’t understand.’

‘If you don’t go then I’ll have you thrown out.’

‘Okay. Just one last thing Mr Rainbird. That old woman told me some strange things about her past. I’d like to know if it was all true?’

‘Of course it was. I should know. That old woman just so happens to be my father.’

And with that I was dismissed.

________________________________________________________________

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Paul Kristovic

Thornton Heath, united_kingdom

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