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Spadina Literary Review  —  edition 13 page 13

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Prisoner 19 jumped to his feet. A large truck crawled toward them. Weighed down by its load, its muddied wheels sank into the ground. It made a slow, looping turn, until its rear end faced the two prisoners. The back of the truck opened. Bodies poured out, one on top of another, the corpses slapping each other as they hit the ground, causing a sickening sound that made the two men shudder.

There must have been a hundred bodies, and it didn't take long to surmise that they were the men, women, and children who participated in the short-lived rebellion.

A guard stepped out of the cab of the truck and scowled at the two prisoners. "Burn them,” he ordered, “Burn them all, make sure there is nothing left of these swine."

Neither 75 nor 19 responded. They stared at the bodies, most of them riddled with so many bullet holes it would have been a miracle if even a drop of blood managed to stay inside them.

The guard returned to the truck. It drove off, lighter and faster now, relieved of its dead weight.

"Do you still think it was worth it?" said 75, his eyes fixated on the body of his old partner, prisoner 22, lying at the top of the heap.

Prisoner 19 didn't answer.

"I tried to tell him, and the person who recruited him, that what they did already happened, that history already revealed the result, but they wouldn't listen to me."

"What are you talking about?" said 19. "This never happened before. I heard this was the first time anybody revolted in this camp."

Prisoner 75 shook his head. "Not here, not this camp, but in Birkenau, the camp that inspired the creation of this camp."

"What the hell is Birkenau?"

"Birkenau was the name of the second, much larger part of Auschwitz."

"Wasn't that sixty or seventy years ago?"

"Eight-two years ago," replied 75. "Eighty-two years ago that place was exterminating everybody who entered, and just like this morning, a group of people, knowing they would die, decided to stand up and fight. They managed to blow up a single crematorium, leaving four, just like this morning. They killed some guards, too, leaving hundreds left, just like this morning. And just like this morning, every single one of them was executed after the rebellion was crushed."

Shaking his head, prisoner 75 knelt down and grabbed prisoner 22's wrists.

"Grab his feet," he told his new partner, "this one's heavy."

Jonathan R. Rose's novel Carrion is available on Amazon. His Facebook fan page is https://www.facebook.com/JonathanRRose.