|Subject: Chapter 201 - Part 1 (16 and above)
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Date Posted: Wednesday, July 27, 07:27:52am
In reply to:
's message, "Dreams in the Dark - Chapter 193 and onwards" on Thursday, July 07, 07:06:24am
Extra warning: There are some mild swear words here. I'll rate it 16 and above, just to be safe.
Dreams in the Dark (201/?)
by Katherine Gilbert
Somehow, it wasn't quite the banner day everyone had been expecting--or, rather, that so many of them had been hoping for. True, the press and the famous were gathered, the decorations in place, the couple in question quite ready to begin. But, instead of the wedding march, many of the celebrants were gathered around the radio. And the news it was conveying didn't sound good at all.
Three people in particular were caught by the report--Michael, Helmut, and Rene all still, their ears trained only to what they were hearing. While they were supposed to be in the final seconds of preparation before the actor's arrival at the end of the aisle to await his bride--Helmut's home so beautifully designed to celebrate the day--they were, instead, focused utterly on this. No matter what their more personal concerns, there was no way to think into anything else.
They had been listening for several, long minutes now, their attention called to the news by a report from one of the guests. While there was little they hadn't already heard--nothing original the press had learned, since they had started listening--they still stood in shock, as the serious announcer said again, "If you've just tuned in, the news is grim. Despite his promises, Germany's Chancellor Hitler has invaded Poland. The city of . . ."
It was Helmut who turned the radio off; they had all heard it too many times--knew it would do no good to have it repeated again. Still, there was the shock, Rene the first to speak, once any of them found their voices--even if the answer to his question seemed much too obvious to them all. "What do you think will happen?"
"War." Michael straightened, his look almost blank, too overwhelmed by the seriousness of the day; he turned away, walking toward a window, as he spoke his thoughts out loud. "It can only end in war."
This was already clear, all of them feeling the shock. Still, Rene kept questioning, not entirely willing to see the larger scope of events for himself. "And America?" He was looking at his partner. "Do you think we'll be part of it?"
It was this puzzle Helmut had been worrying over for many days now--for many months, really. For so long, part of his soul had told him that this would happen, that--no matter what the attempts at appeasement--war would come again; he flinched slightly, scarred by the truth, on so many levels. Still, he managed to answer. "Probably. Not today or tomorrow." There were too many people who didn't want it, who felt they could outlast the world's madness, that they would be safe if they kept to themselves. They were fools. "But it will come."
He sat down, the three men all lost to their myriad thoughts, making an odd tableau. Helmut simply rested there in his armchair, staring somewhere into the future, while his partner paced the room, thinking of so many he loved who could be so terribly affected. But the truest silence emanated from Michael, the groom, whose day this was supposed to have been; his elbow leaned against a window frame, his finger rubbing absently over his lips--his gaze a holocaust of fear and doubt. None of them spoke, could think of anything to add. All any of them knew clearly was that the world had just taken a dangerous tilt on its axis. Any little event could spin it entirely out of control.
In some ways, this had already happened, all three men stunned at the enormity of events. And, as was so often true in such cases, most of their thoughts were personal ones, were fears about the effect of such events on their own lives. For Helmut, especially, it was all too reminiscent. And all the memories it recalled were painful in the extreme.
It was impossible not to think back to the war now--the Great War. They had even made a habit of capitalizing it since, so many believing that such horror couldn't happen twice--certainly not in the same lifetime. But they were here again, were perched upon another precipice. And this one was going to prove even more deadly than the last.
He had no doubts about this insight, could see it all too clearly--bringing back so many old fears. And he had to wonder whether the same anti-German hysteria would grip the country, whether his life--or, rather, the lives of those with similar names but far less money to protect them--would become unbearable. The country had gone mad the last time, had attacked anything which reminded them of their enemy--people, stores, even dachshund dogs. Everything even vaguely Germanic had been a target; something in him clenched. And they hadn't even had such a true enemy to hate.
He had to close his eyes--the horror, the disgust, rising through him. The very thought of Herr Hitler made him ill, the man's ideas a poison which seemed to infect all around him far too quickly. No one of German descent that he knew applauded him, half of Hollywood apparently here just to get away from his madness; he almost laughed--would have, had there been any humor left in his soul. It had certainly improved the stable of many a studio--but it wasn't the sort of cause which could be thanked for very long.
It was partly these worries, these memories, which caught him, but there was far more to fear. He knew about his brother's--his family business's--involvement with the creation of weapons for the last war, understood too well what a boon this would be. Soon, they would no doubt be turning out thousands of tanks, warplanes, guns--all those machines which had been created only to destroy; he winced, his long-distance stare returning. And then all the killing would start once more.
His horror, his guilt, at his part in this had never died; it was why he had gone into banking long ago--allowing his brother to continue the dirty work alone. Perhaps the world would need weapons--and good ones--to fight this threat, but that made none of it any better. The very thought of the wasted lives which would come seemed far too staggering to endure.
He wasn't the only one who feared this, who could nearly see the bodies, the mass graves--but it was only partly this terror which was coalescing in one of his friends. Michael had seen the pictures of all the carnage of the war, had fortunately been too young to be part of it--as had his nearby companions. Now, as well, he was probably too old; his sigh went deep. But he had no idea whether this was for the best or not.
He was still overwhelmed by these current events, couldn't quite grasp what was happening--no matter how many clues there had been in recent weeks. He had been too wrapped up in his life, in his need to look after Nikita, to think into them deeply. The film they were making was where his thoughts normally focused--taking so much out of each day. They were only half-done with it, still had so much left to shoot; there was a small snort. He could only hope that was a positive truth now.
It was difficult to say what he was really thinking, his mind in a thousand places, all of them screaming for primacy--and part of them weren't what he would have imagined. While he would have been unhappy to serve in the last war, had seen little reason for it, his feeling about what would come were shifting. He simply had to wonder whether this one might be more just.
He shook his head a moment later, his arms folding, as he leaned his shoulder against the wall--knowing the ridiculousness of his thoughts. "Just"--no war was just. The many veterans he had met had taught him that. It was only a series of bloodbaths, some entirely pointless--every man doing his damnedest solely to get out alive; his eyes narrowed. But this one did have an enemy far more real than any other, one to make the blood boil, to make the fear rise up the backbone. And that alone made him wonder whether that man's enemies didn't deserve all the help they could get.
This truth was lingering somewhere in the fringes of his mind, some need to protect growing in him. It wasn't patriotism, though--to America or France or Canada. What would be the reason for it? The former country loved him only for the characters he played, had no knowledge of, or interest in, his true self; the middle he had never even seen. And the latter? There was a small snort. Well, if it came down to protecting some of the bastards who had made his youth a living hell, who had tormented him daily simply because of his family background, because of the language he spoke, he wasn't at all certain that he would bother lifting a finger to help.
It wasn't any of these causes which formed these feelings, then, no particular devotion to flag or honor moving him. But still the need lingered, somewhere he couldn't quite identify--one truth clear. If unstopped, this madman would take over the world, turning it into his own private Hell; Michael's eyes stared desperately out the window, visions of his beloved nearly blurring his sight. And there was too much beauty, to parts of this planet, at least, to allow it to turn into a wasteland.
He couldn't entirely take these truths in--wasn't certain where the thoughts had formed. Maybe it was partly in his new practice with a gun, the--occasionally terrifying--knowledge that he could indeed kill, if he had to. Maybe it had been brought about by the cold fire he had discovered somewhere low in his stomach at the thought of anyone doing damage to his beloved. After all, there was a world out there filled with people who would die, who were dying, in Hitler's various attacks--and many of them were just as precious to someone as Nikita was to him.
This last truth made him blink, his mind turning back to the original intent of this day--something in him clenching. For a few seconds, part of him hadn't been entirely focused on her; the anger boiled. And he wasn't certain whether that were healthy or a betrayal.
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