Categories > Movies > Incredibles > Skeletons

Four

by RapunzelK 0 Reviews

Not every victim of war is on the receiving end.

Category: Incredibles - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Angst, Horror - Characters: Other - Warnings: [?] [V] - Published: 2006/05/22 - Updated: 2006/05/22 - 1244 words

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It was the twins that did him in. The poor little things, so thin and tiny, hardly a hair's breath taller than he was himself, their chestnut curls only beginning to recover from being shaved to the scalp. The were eight-and-a-half years old each. (Halves were very important when reckoning ages under thirteen.) Karl had the feeling they would have been joined at the hip before this, but there really had been no need to render the expression literal. The girls had been flayed and then stitched together starting at the hip and continuing all the way down to the ankle, forcing them to walk as if in a perpetual three-legged race. They'd pulled the stitches, there was really no way to avoid doing so, what with being eight-and-a-half and patched together like a flour sack dress.

It wasn't hard to separate them. They didn't cry much as he clipped the stitches and gently peeled them apart. Each held an end of the towel over themselves as little salty drops fell from their soft brown eyes as they talked to him about how they missed their mama, and their sister, and their dog Shortcake, and their dolls. He told them they were very brave and wished he had a lollipop to give to each of them, though peroxide would have been better. Each girl's leg had become badly infected. There was little hope for either girl. He risked some raised eyebrows and sacrificed a roll of bandages in order to shield their raw flesh from the mud outside and the pathogens it carried. It would do absolutely no good. The girls legs eventually had to be amputated, but that was not the worst of it. The head surgeon ("butcher" was a better term in Karl's opinion) would be repeating an attempt to conjoin the girls by stitching the stumps of their legs together. All medical staff members were supposed to observe this momentous leap of medical science and Karl, his genius with a scalpel widely known, was supposed to help.

He lasted about five minutes into the surgery. The sheer ludicrousy of the operation coupled with the fact that it was actually going to be performed was appalling. Especially since neither of the girls had been drugged beforehand. If they lay limp and unflinching on the table it was because they were too exhausted and ill to do otherwise. His vision swam, the room spun and everything went black. Karl had rather hoped the blackness might last a while but he awoke all too soon, his brain forced to restart by the reek of smelling salts. He jerked upright and gagged, yanking his mask off and pressing a hand over his mouth. A bucket was shoved in his face and he made use of it while hands dragged him out of the operating theatre and into the hall. He didn't take his head out again for what seemed like a long time though he brought up nothing worse than bile and mucus, having not had much of an appetite in the last few days.

"Stench get to you?" one of the other white coats asked. Karl nodded, glad to have an excuse provided for him.

"It will do that," the man went on. "You'd better take care of yourself, Shorty. Don't want you falling ill on us. Mengele might be coming to visit next month." He'd smiled, but it had been that of a snake. Karl shivered with the coldest chill yet to freeze his insides. He had to get out of here.


"And you wished to be transferred back to a field unit?"

"I do."

The director frowned thoughtfully. "But why? You've proven yourself an excellent physician. You have been very useful here."

Karl had his doubts about that.

"I am not sure I am being as useful as I could be. Few of the experiments are successful and it pains me that we have made so little progress. I feel I would be better employed where I could make full use of my talents."

"I have asked you again and again to join the surgical staff."

Karl inwardly cringed. "And I am flattered by you generous offers. However, my strength lies in putting people back together, not in taking them apart. I could better serve the Reich keeping its soldiers alive."

The director thought about that and nodded. "You may have a point. I will put in the request for your transfer."

As it was, there was no paperwork to process, much to the bafflement of the Buchenwald clerical staff. Since Karl's impressment had been at gunpoint, he had no official records of either joining willingly or being drafted by the German army. Not waiting to see if his request would be turned down or not, Karl brushed off his fatigues and kit and left with the first unit that came through. The director assumed the paperwork had been processed, the clerical staff had no desire to raise a stink, and consequently nothing was said about it. So it was that Karl escaped the frozen pit of hell where the devil's own breath rose in black clouds from flames fed by the bodies of God's people.

The mines and shells and bullets flying overhead were a welcome respite from the insanity. At least this chaos made sense. He marched with a different unit than the one that had brought him under the grim, concrete eaves of /Buchenwald/. Still, they thought of him as sub-human and treated him as such until they discovered he was a necessity. He didn't care. Insults and curses bounced off him harmlessly and he shrugged off the kicks, trips and intentional shoves. It wasn't worth rising to their provocations. They were only trying to goad him into giving an excuse to do him real harm. He never gave it to them. In its own way, it was a small and bitter victory that he savored to himself.

They laid off a bit as things got grimmer for the German forces. They'd been routed by French and American troops several times already. It was obvious wherever they went that the allies were on their way. Because of that, Karl's group became more desperate. Prisoners were not taken, no witnesses left behind, not even civilians. Entire villages were massacred for the sake of neutralizing one enemy soldier or spy. Karl was not allowed to treat the injured. Instead they hauled him off to the next destination, leaving the wounded to bleed. Karl's own heart bled in sympathy, agonized that he could not help them.

The rules of war thus thrown out the window, Karl began looking forward to the day that he might be shot. He was playing for the wrong team though he had not volunteered, but the Allies would not know that. Karl would have given anything to trade sides but imagined it was far too late. He'd done too much. If they put a bullet through his brain he would have deserved no less than that and would have been thankful for it. He'd had enough. It was therefore something of a surprise when faced with just such an instance that he felt no bite of lead but instead the removal of the cold press of steel as the rifle barrel was lowered away from his temples.

".../Karl/?"

Lifting his eyes and lowering his hands, Karl could only gawk stupidly. It was Julian.

He burst into tears.
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