fiction

Juvenilia: Sink den Bismarck! (An Unwilling Time-Traveler becomes the Nazi’s assistant), Part 1)

I wrote this between my freshman and senior year of high school.  I believe I finished it early in 1990, during my junior year; the first part was written probably in 1987.

My favorite TV show at the time was Hogan’s Heroes; not only did it inspire me to take German, but I liked to imagine myself at the POW camp with Hogan’s group.  I wanted to write a story which explained how I would end up in a POW camp in the 1940s.

I wrote the first part while listening to the album Reconstructions by AD, a Christian band from the mid-80s which included two members of Kansas: Kenny Livgren and Dave Hope.  So now my story and this album are forever linked in my mind.

While researching the third part, I sat in front of my open bedroom window on an unseasonably warm night, listening to the local pop station, and looking through beautiful pictures of the Alps in an encyclopedia.  “Hippy Chick” by Soho came on.

Though I didn’t hear the song again until sometime in 1991 or 1992, I remembered it, and connected it with a warm evening and pictures of the Alps.

My BFF (senior year of high school) and my boyfriend (freshman year of college) loved this story.  Though they weren’t too happy with the ending of Part II (I won’t spoil it).  My boyfriend, a ninja who was really into the occult and science fiction, even pondered making an actual time card.

Since this is science fiction written by a teenager in the days before the Internet, when what I could learn about POW camps was mostly limited to television, it probably isn’t in the least plausible.

Also, both in college and now as I review it again, I can see that it desperately needs editing and lengthening: more scenes, more showing, less telling.  But that’s why I stuck this with my “juvenilia.”

I revised the story in college for a writing class.  Since there are three different versions, I’ll give you the best for each passage.

I do make changes here and there, where the original versions are egregiously bad, or an improvement screams at me.  But for the most part, this is as written.

Though after typing it up and reviewing it for this website, I start wanting to finally write that longer version, 28 years since I wrote Part I…..

Sink den Bismarck! 

Written by Madge on January 11, 1990

Who says time travel isn’t possible?  It has to be, or else I dreamed this whole thing, and I know I didn’t do that, since there’s proof it really happened.  My friends’ testimonies, for instance.

There’s also this great memory of mine that tells me there’s no possibility of it being just a dream.  I tell you, this was no dream.

I’ve got to get this all down on paper while it’s still fresh in my mind.  It began just a few months ago, during the last days before fall 1989.  After the nice, hot summer it was a little too cool for my taste.  I was a junior in high school in South Bend, Indiana.

Our cat’s not an outside cat, but she thinks she is.  I let her outside while I took out the trash, then found her on the lawn on the side of our corner house.  As I reached down to pick her up, a man appeared in front of me–in a flash, out of nowhere, just like a genie popping before me.  I straightened up and stared.

He was close to my dad’s height, which is six feet tall.  He had white hair, almost all there, but few wrinkles.  He wore small, round, wire-rimmed glasses and a white smock.

“Who’re you?” I said.

“Wilhelm von Bismarck, German inventor,” he said with a thick German accent.  Since I was in my third year of German, I hoped he would speak some.

“How’d you appear in front of me like that?”

“I traveled in time from the day of my fifty-first birthday–in December of 1941–to today.  This is my first experiment in time travel, but surely we have made great advancements in that technology by now which I can learn about.”

“No, we haven’t.”  I smiled.  “You’re putting me on.  You know as well as I do that no one knows how to time-travel yet.”

“What?”  His face scrunched up in confusion.  “What is today’s date?”

“September 14th, 1989.”

“Good.  That part works, at least.  What country is this?”

I laughed.  “America, of course.  How’d you do that trick, really?”

“Just how I said.  See this card?”

He showed me a metal card in his hand.  On it were many dials and a button about the size of his fingertip.

“I programmed in the date and coordinates I came from with these dials–” he pointed to the ones on the side labeled von— “and today’s date with these dials–” he pointed to the ones on the side labeled zu.

He pointed to a large red button.  “Then I pushed this button and was transported here.  I programmed it to go to Germany, but obviously it has a fault.”

“Prove it.”

“Give me your hand.”

I did this, holding my cat with the other hand, and he pushed the button.  What could be the harm in it?

With a flash of light, our surroundings changed to a street lined with half-timbered houses and German signs.

My cat squirmed.  The people on the street wore forties clothes and hair styles and spoke in German.  I let go of Mr. Bismarck’s hand and went up to a wall to touch it to see if it was real.  I returned to Mr. Bismarck and took his hand.

“All right, I’m convinced,” I said.  “You can take me back to my house now, Herr Bismarck.”

He took me back.  My cat looked confused, and squirmed to be let down.

“Is Hitler still alive, or has he been replaced?” said Mr. Bismarck.

“Huh?”

“Who is your country’s leader?”

“President George Bush.”

“An elected president?”

“Yes.”

“This is allowed?”

I snorted.  “What in the world are you talking about?”

“On what day did the Allies surrender?”

“Never!”

He frowned.  “So who won the war?”

“We did, of course.”

“You mean–Germany lost the war!”

He sounded like a Nazi sympathizer, but it was wrong to judge without knowing the facts.

I said, “Of course.  Hitler’s dead.  He didn’t get rid of all the Jews, and I even know several.  I guess I won’t tell you everything, so you can see for yourself what happens when you go back to your own time.  Enjoy your defeat.”

Mr. Bismarck stood speechless for a moment.  Then he glanced at my clothes and said, “This is what women wear in 1989?”

“Well, what teen-age girls wear,” I said.

“At least I see a girl’s hair is still worn the same.”

My long brown hair was in two braids wound around the top of my head.  “Oh, no, this is just how I wear it sometimes.”

“And what is that on your pocket, a radio transmitter?”

“No, it’s a Walkman: a radio and tape player.  It plays music just for me.”

“I don’t know what all this means, but I am anxious to learn.  What’s your name?”

“Madge Rush.”

“Would you like to be my assistant, Madge?  I’d like to stay in this time period for a while, find out what it’s like to live here, find materials I wouldn’t be able to get in my time.  I need an assistant for my time travel experiments.  I will pay you.”

My face lit up.  I’d always wanted to travel in time, and I had no proof that he sided with Germany.  “Sure.  But the card already works, doesn’t it?”

“Not all the time.  As I said before, I set it for Germany, not America.  I need to improve it.”

For several months I assisted Mr. Bismarck.  He spoke little about Nazi Germany, only hinting here and there about escaping Hitler’s hypnotic mind-games.

He traded in some coins and rented a house with the money.  The coins were part of a collection he started after 1910 for just such a situation.

Whenever I had nothing better to do–and even when I did–and he didn’t need my help in an experiment, I had domestic chores:

I mowed the lawn or cleaned house with all my parents’ “modern contrivances,” such as the power lawn mower.  I could have taught him how to use them, but he believed women should do all the housework.  I grumbled.

He often kept me up into the wee hours of school mornings helping him with experiments.

My lack of sleep, loss of concentration, and hours of work cleaning his house caused my grades to suffer.

My teachers talked with me or sent letters home.  My parents, of course, were not happy.

I tried to get Mr. Bismarck to lighten up his demands on my time, but I figured that even refusing to work would do no good.

But then one day as I put away Mr. Bismarck’s vacuum cleaner, working up the nerve to quit, he said to me, “Do you know any Jews?”

“Yeah, several,” I said, a little wary.

“I’d like to have them over for tea or dinner.  I want to make up to them for what Hitler did to their people–promote healing for the past.”

Relieved, I extended Mr. Bismarck’s invitation, for 5:00 a few days later.  Most could come.

As I dusted the coffee table just before the guests were to arrive, I found my guest list lying on it and, only thinking of neatness, put it in my pocket.

Mr. Bismarck hadn’t told me to make food or even tea for the visit, yet I saw him do nothing for it.  In the back of my mind burned a suspicion.

I finished my dusting and found Mr. Bismarck sitting at the desk in the research room.  I said, “Herr, am I supposed to make any tea or anything for the visit?”

“Don’t fret yourself.  I’ll take care of the refreshments.”

“Then shouldn’t you get them ready now?  It’s almost five.”

“It is ready.”

“It is?”  Wait a minute–it?  My eyes wandered to the desktop as I turned to leave.

There lay a box of bullets.

“Um, Herr, what is that?”

“What is what?”

“Have you decided to take up hunting or protect the house from burglars?”

He stared at me without blinking.  “Are you loyal enough to me to do anything I say?”

“Well, yeah, I guess so,” I said.  I had no courage to defy him, no matter how much I grumbled.

“Good.  I have something for you to do.  I will show our guests into the basement.  Then you will close the door and blindfold them as I bind their wrists.  Line them up, then we will all play a little game.  A nice, simple, fun game.”

Fun for whom?  My voice quivering with terror, I said,

“You’re going to shoot them, aren’t you?  You’ve just been putting up a front, haven’t you?  You said you hated Hitler, but you’re really a Nazi after all, and you want to carry Hitler’s reign of terror into this time frame since he lost.  I should’ve known, since you’re a taskmaster like the Germans in the prison camps!”

Mr. Bismarck, unruffled, just gazed silently at me.

“I won’t be your assistant anymore, and especially not in this.  I’ll take your time card away and report you to the police and–”

He sprang up and snatched my arm.  With his free hand he opened a desk drawer and pulled out a revolver.

“You little Ally,” he hissed, twisting my arm.  “This gun is loaded, so don’t think I’m bluffing.  You are going in the basement.  Now move.”  He pointed the gun at me and I moved.

Soon after he locked me in the basement, I heard him let in the guests.  I began to form a plan.

I crept down the stairs and hid in the darkest shadows in the basement, under the staircase.  I prayed and prayed that God would help me carry out my plan.

The door opened.  The guests trudged down the stairs, followed by Mr. Bismarck.  He called for me.  I didn’t answer, so he furrowed his brow.

He made the guests tie each other’s wrists, except for the last one.  He cradled the gun in his arm and swiftly tied her up.  He made them all line up along the wall opposite me, and stood facing them.

“Now, which side should I start on?” he said, slowly moving his arm until the gun pointed at the freshman girl at the right end of the line.  She gasped.  “This side?”

I shifted into a crawling position.  Mr. Bismarck moved his arm just as slowly until the gun pointed at the junior boy at the left end of the line.  “Or this side?”

I crept up behind him and stood up.

“I think the right side will do,” he said.  “I wish I had a machine gun.  It would be so much better: I could just sweep the bullets along the line and this world would be rid of your pollution in a second.”

The junior boy caught my eye and gave me a hard look.  I mouthed the words, “Distract him.”  He said in a pleading voice,

“Mr. Bismarck, whatever you do, please don’t start with me.  I don’t want to die first.  I wouldn’t have any chance to escape–Whoops, I shouldn’t have said that.”

Mr. Bismarck pointed the gun at him.  “Is that so?  You’re first, then.”

I grabbed Bismarck’s wrist.  With a strength I didn’t know I had, I squeezed until he dropped the gun.

I let go of him and snatched up the gun before he could.  I pointed it at him and stood up.  He reluctantly put up his hands.

“Do you have your time card with you?” I said.

“Yes,” he said.

“Then get back to your own time or I’ll shoot you.”

“Will you really?”

“Yes.  If I could get up enough courage to take your gun away, I can get up enough to shoot you.  Now get back to where you belong.”

Wait–If he had the card he’d be free to travel anywhere in time.

“I’ve got a better idea: Give me the card.”

“I’ll get back at you for this,” he said, taking the card out of his pocket.  “Don’t worry, you little Ally, I’ll find a way.  It’ll give me more pleasure than killing Jews, so I might give that up and just concentrate on you.”

“You can’t if I’ve got the card.”

As I put out my hand to take it, Mr. Bismarck punched the button and popped out to safety.

I sadly turned to the guests, rubbing my sore arm.

“I guess you guys are safe now,” I said, “but I’m not.  Anyone have a lighter or a knife?”

I cut the ropes from the guests’ wrists with a knife I found upstairs.  I took the list of names from my pocket, and burned it.

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Goewin the Bard

text and pictures copyright 1995 

GoewinClip1

At the time of Beltane, near dusk, Goewin, daughter of Duncan, a young bard, sat on a tree stump to play her flute.  She was a fair maiden with golden hair and sky-blue eyes, and driven to play music on her whistle.

But, though certainly not destined to be a king, she had been given a personal geas by a druid, the seer who foretold her musical ability when she was born: She was not to play any song that would make herself cry.  Because of this, she was known throughout the land for her cheerful music and jigs, and never played sad songs.

(A geas is a taboo; breaking it brings death or dishonor.)

GoewinClip3

“Brigit, give me a poem,” she said on this day of Beltane, “something to play my music to.”  Brigit was patron to poets.  Words began to flow from her mouth:

I saw my love on the field,
Newly back from war;
His sword shining in the sun,
His helmet gleaming,
Three heads hanging from his horse.

“Where is my brother Cadwallader?” he said
As he alighted from his horse.
I said, “He went to a feast
An hour past the time,
And therefore lost his head.

“There was great rejoicing when he died.
Whether rejoicing from the mead or dislike,
I do not know!”–“No matter,” said my love;
The land is better for his loss!”

–And there Goewin stopped.  She couldn’t think of how to go on, so she decided to wander around the fields and wait for inspiration.  In a wood, she saw a small shape flitting around.  Curiosity overcame her, and she followed it to discover what it was.

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The shape disappeared near a fairy mound.  Goewin had never seen such a mound before.  She’d heard about them, but with her mind so full of her poem, she didn’t recognize what this was.

A blackbird flew over and perched atop the sidhe (fairy mound).  Goewin said to it, “Is this mound meant to give me my song?”  It began to sing, which she took as a sign.  She sat beside the bird, which didn’t fly away, and began to play and to work on her song.

As she played, a beautiful, tiny young woman appeared before her.  She had slanted eyebrows and eyes, eyes of blue-green, a pointy nose and a small mouth.  Her hair hung in red-gold spirals.  A golden torque was around her neck, and her dress looked as if made of silken leaves.

GoewinClip5

“Your music is enchanting,” she said, “and light and cheerful.  We have heard it within the sidhe.”

“Within the sidhe?” Goewin cried, finally recognizing the fairy mound.  Then hands reached from behind her and grabbed her.  The fairies carried her off and into the sidhe–their home.

So Goewin entered part of the glorious realms of the Otherworld.  At first she was frightened, but the fairies made her feel at home.

Elva, the beautiful elf with the red-gold hair, being the daughter of the king of the elves, gave her the title of chief bard to the fairies.

Goewin played for them as they desired; her happy and beautiful songs delighted them.  They had her play as often as she could without getting a sore throat or a light head, and nursed her throat so she could sing for them as well.

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Goewin found her home to be the sidhe.  Here was a place more wondrous than she’d ever imagined.  The sidhe looked so small from the outside, but within it was the kingdom of Elva’s father, Aubrey.  Goewin composed more lyrics within the sidhe:

An honor ’tis to be bard to the elves,
Fed by fairies, nursed by nixies.
Wander the world and you won’t find
The wonders of the Otherworld.

Birds of all types, birds with purple feathers, peacocks–
They flit here and there and sing with my flute.
Gold houses and a copper castle,
Green, fertile fields that know no blight.

No sweeter music is ever heard than this of the birds;
No sweeter song than the ones the gate-tree hums to you.
Tree of glass, topped with green glass leaves,
Gives you shade from a sun of gold.

And at night, a silver moon shines.
It shines on the doors of lapis lazuli
At the east, the west, the north and the south.
It shines on fairy feasts and dancing.

GoewinClip6

I go to a feast, with tables laid
With wine, pork, mutton and bread.
The elves cover me with silken, leaf dresses, yellow and blue and red;
They give me jeweled torques with gold and red gold, laurels for my head, a gold branch for my hand.

As I play, the elves dance in rings in the fields,
Little lights leaping in the moonlight.
May Day every day
That they choose.

An elfin poet named Brí, son of the chieftain Bran, soon caught Goewin’s eye–a goodly youth with hair like flax and eyes of sea green, a long nose, and muscular arms; tall for an elf, but not gawky.

His eye was keen like that of the eagle that perched on his shoulder, little Craig as he called it.  Brí wore a leaf tunic, leather shoes and a magnificent tuigen (poet’s mantle)–the lower part made of swan skins, the neck of a swan hanging down from the collar and down the back.  In his hand he carried a gold branch.

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Though Goewin’s own tuigen was made all of swan and her dress was made of the finest silk leaves, this tuigen made her eyes widen.  Here was a chief poet, worthy of her; whenever she saw him, her songs turned to love ballads.  She hoped to work a kind of love charm on him through her music.

One day, Goewin saw Elva gaze after Brí when he passed by, and heard a sigh that showed she loved him, too.  Goewin knew it would be risky to compete with Elva, but she had never seen so worthy a youth as Brí.  She would fight for him, even with the daughter of the king of the elves.

Elva soon realized she had a rival, and that her rival was preferred.  This enraged her.  One evening at a feast, as Goewin played and the fairies danced, Goewin began singing a love song.  It described Brí, though it did not name him.  Brí recognized himself in it, and danced over to her.  After the song, he kissed her.

Elva leaped from her purple glass chair, rage in her eyes, and said, “I invite you to my father’s kingdom, and this is how you repay me?  You steal the man I wanted to make my husband!”

“No one, mortal or fairy, will do such a thing to my daughter,” King Aubrey said.

“Banish her forever from the sidhe, father!” Elva said.

“So I shall.”

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He called over a black horse, which carried Goewin out of the sidhe and dropped her onto the ground.  She began to sob when she saw the horse disappear into the mound, and the entrance hide itself from her.  Her silken clothes turned to the frock she’d worn before entering the sidhe.  Her head and throat ached with tears.

She found her way back home, and discovered that what had been months to her, were centuries to her people.  Her family and friends had long since died and turned to dust.  She ran back to the mound, all alone in the world, separate from Brí and even from the world of the sidhe.

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She calmed herself and sat top the mound as she had once before, and began to play her flute.  She hoped to comfort herself with music, but played along with her grief, until she began to play a melancholy melody.  She composed lyrics for it in her mind:

Gone, gone, all are gone;
All my life has gone with them.
My family’s gone, all from the earth;
I can look, but never find them.
I’ve seen their tombs.  My house is crumbled.
The people have all forgotten me.
Goewin daughter of Duncan, who is she? they say.
My cheerful, charming melodies have not survived.
I am the chief poet of the elves!
Or I was.  And my songs have gone with the wind to the Cailleach.

Oh, the agony of being forgotten as if I’d never been.
The elven world is closed to me–
My love is exiled from me.
No more shall I play for the elves–
For the fairies who loved me,
For palaces of purple glass,
For trees that hum my tunes.
I’ll die before a day is gone for them,
And I’ll be gone–gone–forgotten
By the elves I made happy–

And here a tear fell from Goewin’s eye.

Thus Goewin daughter of Duncan broke her geas, and died.

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Her body lay over the mound, and Brí carried it off to bury it.  Elva felt terrible about her death, and allowed the fairies of the sidhe to mourn for her.  In time, Brí forgave her because of her abject heart, and after a year they married.

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“The Rapture”: Left Behind Review, Part 1 (also goes into smacking kids upside the head)

by Tim LaHaye & Jerry Jenkins, Tyndale House Publishers, ISBN 1414305818, available practically anywhere Christian books are sold:

A plot summary is here.

FINALLY, the last prequel.  So only one more book is left!  (I’ve been reading these books for more than five years now.  😛  Though that’s nothing compared to how long the Slacktivist has been doing this.  😛  )

It’s comforting, on pages 13 to 14, to see Irene’s new Christian friends and pastor counsel her to stop nagging Rayford into getting “saved.”

Another pleasant surprise comes on page 16, when their son Raymie asks, “Mom, is Dad going to hell?” and Irene answers, “Frankly, I can’t tell where your dad is on all this.  He claims to believe in God, and it’s not for us to say.”

Pages 17 and 18 inspired me to write this post on my blog, which I will copy for you here:

I’m currently reading the Left Behind book “The Rapture” for my series of Left Behind reviews.  My reviews and the Slacktivist describe the bad, ungodly behavior of the Christians in the books.  But what I read last night, really burns me up:

A good Christian woman, Lucinda Washington, middle-aged, who is not afraid to show her faith and is respected by all, is also Buck’s favorite colleague, a mentor of sorts.

After witnessing the dramatic, supernatural defeat of the air forces sent to decimate Israel, he comes to her office looking for answers.  He plops down in a chair with his feet on the desk and she says,

“If you were my son I’d whup you upside the head, sitting like that, tearing up your spine.”

“You don’t still smack Lionel, do you?” Buck said, peeking at the photo of the smooth-faced youngster [he’s 12].

“Can’t catch him anymore, but he knows I can still take him.”

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Excuse me, this isn’t set in 1950, but in 21st-century America, some indeterminate time after the present, right before the Rapture–and the book was written in 2006.

This barbaric practice should be universally condemned as child abuse by the time this book takes place.  It’s already illegal in some places.  And even 100 years ago, people knew that smacking kids anywhere on the head is dangerous.  I go into this in great detail in these posts:

Child Abuse, Examples of Child Abuse, Hitting Kids Upside the Head is ABUSE, Slapping Kids Upside the Head Causes Traumatic Brain Injury, and  …Because slapping kids on the head is ABUSE!  STOP THE VIOLENCE!

And this is the woman we are supposed to admire as a great woman of God?  A FRICKIN’ CHILD ABUSER????!!!!!

Here, I describe how two narcissistic “friends” turned out to be child abusers, whom I eventually reported to CPS because I could not get through to them, and who then threatened and began stalking me for calling them child abusers.  One of the things they did which most enraged me, was smacking their little kids in the head.

I also unfriended some old high school classmate a while back for advocating beating children on her Facebook status.  Then, a few months ago, unfriended (and eventually blocked) a girl in my social circles who said parents should beat their children.

Now, after all that, and enduring the stress and emotional anguish of being threatened and stalked for calling this child abuse, I’m supposed to read this “Christian” book and accept that a godly woman would abuse her child by smacking him upside the head?  I’m supposed to like this character after knowing this?  She’s just another hypocrite like the rest of the series’ Christians!

On page 26, Irene has turned into a Stepford Wife, even setting out Rayford’s clothes as if he were a child.  Since badgering him into converting doesn’t work, she’s taking the opposite tactic–still manipulative, but I guess she doesn’t see that.

But it drives him crazy, because he knows her various problems with him (church, his use of time, not spending enough time with their son) are still on her mind.  He’d rather argue than pretend they don’t exist.

On pages 63 to 66, Rayford explains to Raymie what many of us have realized over the years: that just because you don’t belong to a particular religion or sect, does not necessarily mean you’re going to Hell.  Raymie replies,

Wow.  You sound just like the people Pastor Billings talks about.  People who think they have it all figured out, but they don’t really believe in Jesus.

Say what?  Just because you have a different idea of who goes to Hell, you don’t really believe in Jesus?  Also, Raymie’s words have a distinct vibe of “Oh, you’re one of those people,” said with a curling lip.  ARGH!

And double-ARGH to the last few paragraphs on page 66:

Rayford…overheard the boy talking with Irene, who had asked how things went.

“Dad’s going to hell,” Raymie said.  “He doesn’t think he is.  He thinks he isn’t.  But he doesn’t believe in Jesus.  Not really.”

Meanwhile, back in Antichrist land, pages 71 to 74 depict a Mafia-style punishment of the family of a guy marked by Fortunato, Nicolae Carpathia’s right-hand man.  It’s full of evil and angst.

Where the heck was this kind of writing in the rest of the series?  If we see this along with Carpathia’s public image as a nice guy, we’ll know he’s evil.  No, all we get in the first books is that Carpathia wants world peace, which doesn’t sound so bad.

But if we got more of this behind-the-scenes evil instead of endless pages of traveling itineraries and phone conversations, the first books could have been awesome, instead of dull trudging wondering when this book will end.

To be continued.

Find all my Left Behind book reviews here.