Like any good-natured and truthfully contributing member of society, Francis Draft had always suffered from semi-frequent bouts of hallucinations. These were not of the in-your-face, cartoon pink elephant montage, snapping demons on the subway variety. They were much more subtle, and sometimes even appreciable, if Francis was in a good mood. Passers-by giving strange, often frightening glances that were in truth imagined. Perhaps a third eye appearing on their forehead or one of their cheeks, a live-action breathing Picasso.
A close-knit group of four friends who call themselves “the vacationers” have been anticipating their ski trip for months. The group is known for feeding on adventure and expects this trip to be the adventure of a lifetime. They are planning to stay at a ski mountain resort, affectionately called the Snow Lodge, where they will reside for one week and enjoy activities like skiing on mountain slopes, snowboarding, and ice-skating.
Rhythmic shocks along my spine pull me from a dreamless oblivion; disoriented, I slowly register the shocks as a proximity alert. Rolling onto my stomach, I pull up the orbital stream, my right eye rolling towards the back of my skull to investigate the alert. I find the video segment I need, projecting the image onto the ceiling of my home.
The morning of February 18th, 1945 was a day I had been waiting for my entire life: my sixteenth birthday. The moment I woke up, I discarded my Hitler Youth uniform and childish tin medals, and stepped forward to defend the Fatherland side-by-side with German men. I was the last boy in my family to enter Hitler’s war. I felt left behind and restless. My father was an Obersturmführer in the Waffen-SS; my brothers Franz and Götz had been fighting since 1939, and were both in Russia.
The third Tuesday in September had such an ordinary beginning. Sylvia’s husband, Omar, left for work before dawn. The Hartford Courant lay in the driveway, delivered as promised. The kitchen countertop was smudged with germy paw prints from the cat’s nocturnal shenanigans. And, according to the jokers on the radio, Hell had not yet frozen over.
“It’s okay, Mom. He’ll be back soon.” Not the words she wanted to hear at Dad’s funeral. I may have been an eleven-year-old kid who didn’t know a whole lot, but I did know that dead things don’t always stay dead. Dad was alright, as dads go. He showed up at all of my school plays (when he wasn’t on the road for work), he took me to piano lessons on the days that Mom couldn’t (again, when he wasn’t on the road), and he helped me with my math homework (even when he was on the road, thanks to the internet).
She been alone in this place for a long time, how long she wasn’t really aware now. Sometimes, it seemed like it been a short time, other times it seemed like years. Things seemed fuzzy and hard to keep track of now. Her mind wasn’t the same as it used to be. It happened when she was thirteen, the accident that got her in this state. It often flashed in front of her eyes. It was so painful, it was hard to think of.
I was the best. Not ‘one of the best’. The. Best. The Best Jest. What am I saying? Was. Am. I am The Best Jest. It says so on the curtains. The curtains I’m currently hidden behind. The huge red velvet drapes conceal me from my audience. The tension is starting to bubble. I can almost taste it. Like candyfloss. There for a moment on your tongue then gone. The sweetness. I need more of it. So, I put on shows every night.
Have you ever noticed that time passes faster when we aren’t aware of it? I sneak a look at the antique clock on the wall, vaguely aware of the loud kids and their poor parents as they hurriedly move past or rather are dragged away by their children. 2:45. Just fifteen more minutes.
“Don’t blink, don’t breathe, don’t move,” Milo told himself over and over standing at the window. For fifty-one nights he stood this post, whispering his chant and staring out into the dark void of the woods surrounding the cabin. “Don’t blink, don’t breathe, don’t move.”
I am writing this report with the hope that someone someday will find it and still be able to read. My wish is that my words will explain what happened and give the reader some insight as to how things went so terribly wrong.