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Spadina Literary Review  —  edition 13 page 09

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The shooting continued longer than usual as more people, as soon as they stepped off the train, began running frantically, screaming at the top of their lungs. The guards had no issue putting each one of them down — to them it was sport. But what 75 couldn't make sense of was why the new arrivals kept trying to escape, considering they had seen what happened to those who made the attempt before them. How could people so easily ignore the lessons of recent history?

"It's going to be a long night," said 22.

"Every night is a long night," answered 75.


—♦—


"How many bodies do you think we tossed in today?" said 22.

"Hell if I know," replied 75. "Less than yesterday, more than tomorrow, what does it matter?"

"I was just curious."

"The number doesn't matter, it never did. One, one hundred, one thousand, one million, the minute we tossed the first one in, we were finished."

"Finished? What do you mean? The guards said if we did this job, we would be allowed to live, since nobody else will do it."

"And you believe that?"

"Why else would they feed us so well? Why would they give us our own private barracks? Let us shower? Let us wear clothes different from everybody else?"

"To make us happy."

"Why make us happy if they were just going to kill us like everybody else?" said 22.

Prisoner 75 smiled, shook his head. "Hansel and Gretel, my friend. Hansel and Gretel."

"Who are they?"

"It's a story, written a long time ago, about a boy, a girl, and a witch — you know what, never mind, don't worry about it. It doesn't matter, nothing matters, all that matters is that what we did today we will do tomorrow, just like what we did last week we will do next week, and next month, until there are no more bodies to burn."

"There will always be more bodies to burn," said 22.

"But when there isn't, and all that's left is us and the guards, who do you think gets tossed into the ovens next?"

"Who's going to do it? Them? Have you seen how shiny their boots are? Last night I saw one of the guards having his boots shined by not one, not two, not three, but four women! Two shining each boot. You think men like that will ever pick up a body and toss it into an oven? No, they need us to do what they won't do."

"Hey guys."

Prisoners 75 and 22 looked at each other, unsure if they heard the voice they believed they heard from the other side of the door.

<CONT...>