Dinner Time (443 words)

His thoughts elsewhere, Karl Bielig tugged absently at one end of his handle-bar mustache, unable to hear the desperate battle that played out on the other side of the glass, and only barely aware of the melee.

“Karl Bielig, Brigadeführer, SS.” He whispered the words to the empty room. He tried it again, more loudly this time. “Brigadeführer Karl Bielig." It has a nice ring to it, he thought, proud of his new rank of Brigade Leader.

A body hit the plate glass hard as a violent skirmish suddenly erupted, drawing his attention away from his self-regard. Daily rations had just been dolled out and the resulting fracas always made for interesting viewing. They knew from long experience there would be no more today, and not always the next day either, depending on his schedule. No morsel of food went to waste. Only the barest minimum was provided, resulting in regular clashes. They seemed to manage though; none had died recently and, besides, more were readily available. They were cheaply and easily replaced. As a collective they served as a source of amusement, but as individuals they meant nothing to him.

He mused at the god-like quality of his responsibility to them, ruling, as he did, over every aspect of their inconsequential lives. He decided what time the lights came on and when they went out. They ate only if he fed them and their environment was cleaned upon his word alone. The strong survived; the sick and feeble were left to fend for themselves, while the others circled, eyeing the failing flesh speculatively.

A knock came at the open door.

“What is it?” asked Bielig, without turning from the spectacle.

“Sir, your dinner is served. Where shall I set it?” Private Otto Lenz entered, carrying a tray laden with steaming meat and vegetables, set on fine china. The clearest of spring waters was kept cool by ice that tinkled lightly inside thick-cut crystal glass. Heavy silverware was rolled in a pristine white linen napkin, and all was carefully displayed.

Bielig turned, slowly pulling himself from his reverie.

“Put it there,” he said, pointing to the desk.

Lenz was more than a little awed by the reputation Bielig had as a fearless commander whose unflinching actions had rocketed him through the ranks of the SS. Lenz was proud to be working under his direction and felt he could learn a lot from this man. Setting the tray on the desk, he turned to leave.

“Schütze Lenz,” Bielig addressed the young man, who stopped, waiting for more. Bielig walked toward the desk and waved a careless hand in the direction of the large fish tank he’d been observing. “See to it that’s cleaned while I’m away tomorrow afternoon. You are dismissed.”

Dinner Time (443 words)


Geneva, United States

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