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  1. #51
    Count / Countess Quaxo9 is offline Quaxo9's Avatar
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    Gerhard Einsbrect

    Their fear and confusion was palpable, but could he really have expected otherwise? No, he was also afraid and almost as surprised by his actions as they were. He gingerly took the postcard from Sara's hand, and waved it back and forth a few times to aid its drying before tucking it back under his jacket. Once back to the city, he'd address it to Gilda and toss it into a local bin for delivery. Now there was just the matter of somehow trying to put the Fishblatt's minds at ease - at least in regards to his efforts. How honest should he be?

    "Herr Fishblatt, I seek no compensation. I did what I thought was right. A Doctor Kraus had taken an interest in you two and I thought it best that you not be at home when his soldiers came to call. I forged paperwork saying that you had been executed today, so you should be safe from him as long as you stay out of sight and give no one reason to check your identification. It is my hope that Isaac will be able to come for you soon and that you can leave this country together in safety."

    Of course, he knew that Isaac was planning to stay and help the Resistance...but he didn't know that his parents were now in a position to leave the country quietly. Perhaps that would sway him to choose a safer path. It pained Gerhard that with the Fishblatts here, he may not have opportunity to bring Berta, but he knew in his heart that she'd think it was worth it to save these two people from torture and death.
    Winner of the dubious Vaarsuvius Award for Verbousness!

    I support altruism.

  2. #52
    Hirsch and Sara Fishblatt

    The Fishblatts had no idea who this Dr. Kraus was, or why such a man would be interested in them specifically. They had not seen Isaac since he was taken away to what they thought had been his death - they had no idea what had befallen him in the hospital basement. They didn't need to know who Kraus was to know they didn't intend to come anywhere near him, though. A Nazi doctor could not mean them any good.

    It was still not clear to them what connection Isaac had to this young officer... and it didn't seem the moment to press the subject. They could find out from their son - now that they knew he was alive. His life was the most important thing.

    "We will stay hidden, sir," Sara assured Gerhard. "We will give them no reason to look for us here. Your kindness will not go to waste."

    Ordinarily, Hirsch would have shaken the other man's hand in such a situation. But these were not normal times. As a Jew, one did not simply reach out and grasp the hand of a Nazi officer - even if that officer was currently being kind and helpful. The uniform still stood as a barrier that the Fishblatts could not cross.

    Hirsch nodded awkwardly instead. "We will never forget this, sir," he said. "May God bless you."
    "Sleep to dream, and we dream to live..." -Great Big Sea

  3. #53
    Count / Countess Quaxo9 is offline Quaxo9's Avatar
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    Gerhard Einsbrect

    Had he really forgotten his manners so quickly? Gerhard tugged the glove off his right hand and extended it to the elder gentleman. He had seen the man's arm twitch and the decision made to hold it fast. How the uniform changed things - no, the menace behind the uniform.

    "May we meet again in better times, mein Herr." He wanted to say something along the lines of "God willing", but Gerhard didn't know how true the words would be coming from his mouth. Certainly he hadn't thought about God very much lately - perhaps because He seemed to absent in these days. Nodding politely to Sara, Gerhard ducked out the door and back into the car.

    The long ride back to the city was vile and lonesome, giving him way too much time with his thoughts. Had he done the right thing? Undoubtedly. Would he get caught? He had taken many precautions and laid his path well...so probably not. If he could keep it together, that was. His vision was blurry and he felt hot, but he chalked that up to being out in the rain and having a long, troublesome few days. He managed to send off the postcard on the way to the inn after dropping the vehicle off in the compound. Gerhard didn't even completely undress before falling into his makeshift bunk.

    Unsurprisingly, he didn't wake fully refreshed. Gerhard stumbled dizzily out of his bed to the wash room, garnering a space at the sink for his morning routine. The dreams he'd had last night were all but forgotten as they were really only a series of disjointed pictures. He had already forgotten about them as he started to shave, thought about being careful not to cut himself, then recalled the cut he'd given himself on his finger. His blood ran cold when he saw a perfect digit instead of one with an angry purple slice. How? It worked. It...worked. Gerhard had a moment of panic. If the serum worked...then he was like Isaac. And if he was like Isaac...then Dr. Kraus would want to do his experimenting on Gerhard...this would not do.

    A calm fell over him as the answer looked him in the eye. The shaving razor bit into his finger, drawing blood. He watched it bead. How long would it take? Unfortunately, he didn't have the time to do a proper experiment himself. He was due at the hospital in a little under an hour for his check up with the 'good' doctor. It was barely enough time to wash up and iron out his uniform. He skipped breakfast and made his way to the hospital. Just outside, he inspected his finger again. It was looking a little too healed up for his tastes, so he broke the skin open again with a pen knife, washed the fresh blood off in under the gutter spout, then bound it up like it had been before. Hopefully it would be enough.

  4. #54
    Doctor Hermann Kraus

    Doctor Kraus was in a wonderful mood when Gerhard arrived. "Good morning!" he said with a smile on his face. "So wonderful to see you looking well, Gerhard!"

    As he sat Gerhard down and Kraus prepared to examine him, the doctor was jovial and energetic, offering both witticisms and encouragement... but then he saw Gerhard's finger. Kraus' face fell, and his voice lost all animation.

    "Well, Gerhard," he said with an exhale. "This is very disappointing. It's not your fault, however."

    The tone suggested that it might, in fact, somehow be Gerhard's fault.

    "It seems our treatment didn't take. Perhaps you were not the ideal candidate after all." With bravado that came off as extremely forced, he clapped Gerhard on the back and said, "You'll just have to get back to your training extra hard, hm?"

    On second thought, he didn't particularly want to see the young man around every day. He had nothing personal against Gerhard, but his pride as a medical professional was inexplicably stung by his guesses all seeming to prove wrong.

    "Actually - no, I think you would benefit from a vacation. I'll send a note to your superiors excusing you from duty for a week. Go to the country and get some fresh air. Just promise me that you'll be sure to get laid. That's a medical directive - you're too uptight. You need to spend some time with a girl. It'll do you good."

    Even when he was in the depths of disappointment, some things about Kraus would never change.

  5. #55
    Gilda Engel and Isaac Fishblatt

    Gilda retrieved the mail and started started sorting through it. There wasn't much of interest... until she got to the postcard. A seaside scene. Wish you were here...

    She had spent enough time in the Resistance to recognize such a specific coded message when she saw it - though she was impressed by how cleverly it was done. It wouldn't appear that way to anyone else. The initial it was signed with was G. Gerhard, then. Had he brought his sister to the cottage after all? But if so, why would Gilda's presence be required?

    Showing it to Isaac shed a different light on that subject. He took the card from her nonchalantly... and then his hand started shaking so badly he almost dropped it. "My mother," he said, half words and half just a gasp. He managed to pull himself together a bit to clarify, "That's my mother's handwriting. She's still alive. Gerhard must have found her and taken her to the cottage. I can't believe he would... that's such a risk to take..."

    Isaac was grateful for what Gerhard had done to help him escape Kraus. Of course he was. But it had been very much a decision based on opportunity - it had not been a deliberate rescue mission. Isaac had not assumed that Gerhard would go so far out of his way to rescue anyone else.

    "I'll take you to her," Gilda said. "I have a car."

    There was also the matter of how to feed an increasing number of people on only Gilda's ration coupons. Gilda ate very little - far too little, truth be told - but the supplies intended for one person went only so far. Gilda managed to flirt and bat her eyelashes into enough extra rations and black market goods to keep them going for now, at least.

    Traveling with Isaac would be a huge risk. But she couldn't deny him the opportunity to see his mother's face, after all that happened. The promised false ID from the Resistance for Isaac had arrived. With that, a hat, a turned-up collar, and Gilda's skills at smiling manipulation, they made it past the perfunctory checkpoints en route - Gilda had used the cottage as a safehouse before, and knew which roads to take to minimize contact with the authorities.

    As they got closer to the cottage and the sight of patrols became less frequent, Gilda's adrenaline started wearing off and a new sort of fear replaced it. She and Isaac were newly in a relationship, and she was about to meet his mother - possibly his father too, if fate was kind. What if the Fishblatts didn't like her? Surely they would disapprove of their son... now suddenly an only child... taking up with someone like her. The thought of their hatred, their disgust - it was crushing. What could she do to make them like her?

    Gilda abruptly pulled over in a field. "Just a minute," she told Isaac. She ran out and picked a hasty bouquet of wildflowers. It wasn't much, but at least she wouldn't be arriving empty-handed.

    As they pulled into the cottage drive, it started to rain. Isaac scarcely seemed to notice, though. He made it from the car to the door as swiftly as his injured, emaciated body would allow. "Mama?" he called as he pushed open the door and stepped inside. "Papa?"

    "Isaac?"

    His parents ran to him, and they all embraced. Tears flowed from all of their eyes. Then Sara took a step back and looked at her son. It was clear that the time apart had not been kind to him. He had not been sent off to his death, as they had feared - but close to it. He had lost an alarming amount of weight that he couldn't afford to lose. There was grey in his hair. His nose had been broken repeatedly. Suffering haunted his eyes...

    But he was alive. Their Isaac was alive. The condition he was in scarcely mattered.

    "I couldn't save the others," Isaac said sadly, his voice full of abject regret. "Rachela. Benjamin. Salomon. There was nothing I could do..."

    "Of course you couldn't," Sara replied. "We knew you couldn't. We never expected that you could."

    "We're just... so glad you're alive," Hirsch said, emotion choking back the words. "Truly, it is a miracle."

    Isaac wiped his eyes and indicated the other person in the room - who so far had been silent, gripping a wilting bouquet of wet flowers and trying not to be noticed. "Mama, Papa, I'd like to introduce you to someone. The person I'm seeing. This is Gilda. She's my girlfriend now."

    The confident, charismatic Gilda who shone at parties and effortlessly captured the attention of Nazi officers was nowhere to be seen. In her place was a terrified mouse, as intimidated as though she were meeting royalty... because this time, she actually cared. These people actually mattered to her. She so desperately and genuinely wanted their positive regard that for once, she couldn't conjure a way to make it happen.

    "These are for you," Gilda said, pushing the flowers awkwardly at Sara. She felt like a fool. Like the awkward, lonely adolescent who had found it so difficult to connect with anyone. She could only imagine how Sara and Hirsch saw her. Pathetic. Contemptible. Trying to win their affection with a handful of dead weeds. "I'm sorry. It was stupid. I'm so stupid..."

    Gilda was near tears. But Sara was... smiling back at her? "No, they're lovely," Sara said. "What a thoughtful idea. You're a lovely young lady, to have done such a thing for us. We'll put them in some water. First, though, let me welcome you properly. We are so pleased to meet someone so important to our son."

    Sara wrapped Gilda in a hug and held her close for a moment, then kissed both her cheeks. Hirsch followed suit and hugged her too.

    For the first time in her life, Gilda could truly imagine what it felt like to be part of a family. She had never experienced such acceptance. The affection - first from Isaac, and now from his parents. She had managed to forget how lonely she was - but now it was starting to ease. She was starting to feel like she was no longer alone.
    Last edited by Monkey Kitty; 04-05-2020 at 08:43 AM.

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