(Fangs of the SS) CHAPTER 3: Not One Of Us


The light of the rising sun shines through a window and illuminates a US Army Colonel seated behind his desk. With its cheap fake antique furniture and faded print of a Parisian street scene, the office shows signs of having been requisitioned from the French colonial administration. His coffee steams and he tries to tighten his jacket around his paunch against the winter cold that inhabits the room. He takes a sip of coffee, winces, sighs, puts on a pair of glasses, and starts going through a pile of reports.  He looks up as the door opens and an Army Intelligence officer, tall, WASPy, enters. He’s carrying a handful of flimsies.

“Colonel Morehouse, I’ve just received reports of another attack by those Nazi monsters on one of our fuel convoys.” The intelligence officer has the American aristocratic accent that guarantees his attendance at one of the Ivy League schools.

“Dammit! Casualties?”

“Not as bad as it could have been. That special detachment from Camp Cuckoo,-” His voice becomes tinged with a combination of disbelief and distaste. “-the Fightin’ Rabbi and his walking statues, showed up and drove the monsters off before the convoy was completely destroyed.”

“That’s a bit of good news at least.” Morehouse takes his glasses off, sips coffee. “But, Duvall… these special detachments from Camp Cuckoo… They make my skin crawl.”

“I understand, sir. And it’s not just Captain Maccabbee and his statues. There’s those shapeshifters, Greenway and his engineers building that giant tank man, and all the rest. Seriously strange, all of them. Like ghost stories come to life.”

“That’s precisely it, Major. You’ve hit the nail on the head. How can anyone trust them? And now I’ve got Eisenhower breathing down my neck to wipe out these Nazi monsters. How am I supposed to do that with troops I can’t trust?”

“I think that I have an idea, sir.” Duvall comes around the desk to stand next to Morehouse. He lays out a couple of the flimsies. “According to these preliminary reports on last night’s action, there was a soldier in that detachment from the 9th that was doing convoy protection. He knew what the statues were, they were somewhat familiar to him. I propose we make him our eyes and ears on Maccabbee.”

Morehouse looks up at Duvall. “This soldier isn’t part of Camp Cuckoo in any way?”

“Not at all. Just an ordinary soldier. Well, he’s Jewish, but we can’t have everything.” He goes to the window and looks out. “In fact, there he is now.”

Everything’s distant to Mirsky. He’s been here before; he knows that he’s tired and in shock; but he just can’t make himself care. He also knows that it will all pass and he’ll be back to normal soon, but he can’t make himself care about that either. He sits in a Jeep, keeping a firm grasp on the stretcher attached to the side. One of the drivers of the fuel trucks, badly burned, moans in a morphine haze. Mirsky doesn’t care about that either. He doesn’t see the Army base around him, a chaos of tents, vehicles, soldiers. He doesn’t see the ruins of a small Tunisian village that’s been occupied and shot to shit by several different invading armies in the last couple of years. All he sees are the fangs of the Nazi vampire. All he sees is it not dying when he shot it. All he sees is Maccabbee shooting Simco in the head.

It takes the guy driving the Jeep shaking Mirsky’s shoulder to bring him out of it. “Hey! Mirsky! We’re fucking here. Give us a hand!”

Mirsky shakes his head and comes back to the present. He’s more than a little disgusted with himself, acting like some nebbish who’s just done his first hit. But all of these monsters, they’re real and pretty fucking weird. But he pushes it all aside for the moment and helps unloading the wounded and taking them into the medical tents.

Once that task’s finished, Mirsky walks away and makes his way through the noisy chaos of the camp to his tent. It’s a big tent, 10 cots running along the sides. Fisher, who didn’t go along on the convoy detail, a young guy from some small town in the interior of America, jumps to his feet as they enter. “Shit! You guys back already? Where’re the others?”

Mirsky answers while he heads to his cot and starts shucking his gear. “The ones that are still alive are over in the hospital tents getting patched up. We got hit by those monsters and got … fuck, I was gonna say chewed up…” He sits on his cot, his gear piled around his feet, and sighs heavily.

“What happened?”

Mirsky takes a minute before answering. “It was bad. And not normal bad. This was monsters in the night, statues with machine guns weird bad. And then Simco…” He shrugs.

“Aw, fuck. Not him. He was a good guy. The monsters got him?”

“In a way, I guess.” In a lower monotone, as if talking to himself. “ If that mad bastard of a rabbi can be believed.”

“What’re you talking about?”

“Listen, Fisher, it’s been a really rough time. Go bother one of the others, they’ll tell you all about it.”

“Yeah. Sorry. Hey, before I forget, there was mail call while you were gone. You got a letter. I put it on your pillow there.”

Mirsky turns his head, sees the letter, grabs it, studies it closely, trying to decipher all the postmarks and redirections scrawled on it. “Holy shit, it’s from Leah. Where the hell is she? It came from New York, before that, what’s this say, is that Turkish? so maybe Istanbul, before that, looks like Budapest…” He carefully opens the letter and begins to read.

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