A Contest Entry – Reader x Norway
Near Trondheim, Norway – October 1942
The word was shifting through the houses and the bleak approach of winter was making it all the grimmer. Despite the fact the Nazis had already destroyed Telavåg and sent its population (those that survived) to an interment camp, there seemed to be no trusted between them and the Norwegian locals. In some ways they were right – the Norwegians didn’t like them but punishing a whole village was atrocious, something at first they’d believed was just the fate of the eastern countries that had been occupied. But now the shooting of two German policemen, not to mention its use in Oslo for a brief period, had encouraged Josef Terboven, the Reichkommissar of Norway, to impose Martial law on Trondheim – at least that was the rumour.
As you hurried back home from finally getting your food requirements, you felt eyes watching you and you skin began to crawl. A pair of policemen were strolling up the road, checking the houses and seeing what was where. Being the only resident in your house now that your brother had joined Milorg and was assisting in the take down of Vermork Hydroelectric Plant, and your mother had succumbed to her pneumonia only last month – it never felt safe to be seen going into your house. Perhaps it was all the thoughts running through your head that they could hurt you and no one would protect you or that they could dig through your home and find anything they felt was proof against them. You shuffled inside, going slowly and as nonchalant as possible so that they did not clue in on your anxiety, but inside was something startling.
“Lukas?” You had spotted the scribbled piece of paper on the surface nearest the door. To anyone else it looked like you were writing down things you needed to replace, but it was the sign from the resistance members that they were in your basement. You’d been assisting them the moment your brother had brought a poor Jewish neighbour bleeding to the house and found that Norway himself was able to get him to Sweden with the help of the resistance groups.
You felt your spine tingle with even more fear – the note was actually a very safe idea you’d come up with, for everyone had a shopping list around the house and it was the only thing you didn’t do yourself. You knew he was not going to answer but you were not going to suddenly become suspicious and disappear. For some reason you always felt that there needed to be some kind of routine in your house that you had to follow so that, if a neighbour became a collaborator, they always saw the same thing and nothing unusual. So you took your food supplies to the clean but terribly empty kitchen and took out a tin of meat you’d been picking at slowly (if only because it was whale meat – the one thing that never seemed to be rationed) and the little section of butter, well it looked and taste more like grease, to the table that was in full view of the kitchen window. You sliced three pieces of bread and settled down to a depressing sandwich of bread and blubber – the humour of that phrase long gone.
Gently you patted your stomach to make sure the secret letter from one of the merchants in town was still there before tapping your foot on the ground a few times and waiting for the response knock. Each number of knocks had a meaning and when only one was returned back, you breathed a slow sigh and tried not to regurgitate your food – it was just Lukas today.
Slicing up another disgusting sandwich, dreaming of having salmon instead of whale, you strolled towards the entrance to your basement, little more then a hatch under a rug that held a very rusty lock. Inside was a secondary lock which was hidden by a broken beam that needed to be ducked when going in – it meant if someone was in there, they could lock themselves in and any investigation would just shown broken beams. When you heard the click you lifted up the wood and slowly stepped along the narrow and broken steps into the basement. Firstly you saw only the old whaling equipment of your grandfathers and your mother’s old paintings and easels. It was little more then a cupboard of junk and excess tinder and the Norwegian police generally assumed it as such. But strolling toward one of the massive canvasses that were coated in dust you spotted Lukas in the shadows and immediately he turned the old oil lamp on.
“I’m not going to ask how it’s going for you of course – but I’m going to say that you should consider trying to coordinate with the British SEO or whatever it’s called. If you do that then I think some of the sabotage works would have gone better.” You grunted, sitting down on an old chair and passing the sandwich to your country. From the tall elegant man that had been at King Haakon’s side the whole time, a skinny and dirty man sat huddled and dangerous with a gun close by and a knife gripped in one hand. He stabbed the sandwich with it just in case, before devouring it greedily, the only shine of joy coming from the touch of food in his dry mouth. You wanted to burst into tears for seeing him like that, but Lukas was strict about emotions in this situation – if you wept or screamed, you’d be pointed at and watched.
“Perhaps you’re right – but I heard something disturbing was due in Trondheim and had to find out what is going on here first. They were saying in Bergen that Terboven was planning to come to Trondheim by train on the 5th. Do you have any idea what’s going on?” Lukas gulped, pausing from the eating only to take a breath and not caring how rude or vulgar the image of him speaking and eating was. But you didn’t care about that and gently you nodded your head.
“I’m going to go to Trondheim with the other bank workers to witness it. We’ve got not idea what’s going on really, but my brother’s friends in Oslo said he was going to try Martial Law here. They said we’re not going to like what will happen and I don’t suppose we will. He’s shutting down the newspaper and enforcing a curfew, there are already more policemen on the streets and it’s getting dangerous to meet anyone at my house. Although most of my neighbours help you guys out just like me – when the fingers starting reaching out it’ll be everyone for themselves.” You sighed fearfully. Although you had a tunnel in this old basement that your father had made in order to sneak to a fishing point and escape your mother’s rampaging anger, there was no doubt that if anyone spotted it they wouldn’t care for the humours of the Norwegian family. “I’ll have to block the tunnel with random things after this – but the pond at the other end of the tunnel has an old troll cave near it. I can leave whatever food or information I have there when I go there once a week to tend my parents’ graves. Would that be alright for you all?”
“I wouldn’t want to put you at any more risk then you already are – any help is good, but we’ll make sure to come at night only so that you aren’t there and you aren’t spotted with one of us.” Lukas grunted gently, thinking over it hard and suddenly feeling his heart sink. He stretched out a hand to yours and gave you a gentle and firm squeeze. You looked to his hand, blush forming on your cheeks and heat filling your body with hope. You looked to him and your eyes locked for a moment before Lukas lent forward and gave you a gently kiss to the lips. “I will go now and I won’t see you again before this thing is over – but I will remember your kiss.”
You blushed even more heavily as he lent forward and kissed you even more firmly. This time you nearly hooked your arms around him to keep hold, but it would be too dangerous to stay in the basement any longer. You let Lukas get into the tunnel before giving him a few old pickaxes to knock the tunnel in after he was through. You filled your end of it with old debris and then grabbed some fire wood before returning upstairs… you couldn’t help but feel sick and pitiful for having to close off your home to them.
A few days later and the Nazis representative in control of Norway, Terboven, did arrive but you were indoors with the other bank staff and listening through the windows rather then standing in the square with nothing but policemen. His words were precise and harsh – he was scary to hear as his voice rattled through the loudspeakers, and then you were told about something horrible. Already that evening ten people had been executed from the area with no trial – one of them had been your own bank president Gunnar Sandberg Birch. You could not believe that they had done something so horrible and killed someone so close to your mind that you could recognise without fear. Your body churned with terror for what could be done to anyone else and anger as he termed their deaths an “atonement sacrifice”.
It was little more then a prelude to what was to take place, though thank God you’d stopped the basement being used when you had. People were sent to Falstad Concentration Camp, much further north then your little home and there a killing ground existed in Falstadskogen. It was a name everyone heard and shuddered at, the situation was terrifying and rumours of what the executed had been forced to do, dig their own grave, before being shot were being whispered through the lines for rations. You did what you could to leave food and were happy to find that the trolls of your youth that had lived in the cave still remained and were eager to hide the food and scare people away. The martial law was only in place for six days, but the Jews in your area were gone and thirty-four people were dead.
Everyone was afraid but everyone was hateful, and thankfully no one ever pointed at you for anything….
* * * * *
Near Trondheim, Norway – May 1945
You were exhausted but had not been able to stop yourself from running towards the small hut in the woods where Norway had been expecting to meet you again. You had no doubt in your mind that he would be waiting today – the war was finally over! As you ignored the clacking noises of the spring time rituals of the capercaillie cocks, the world around you seemed to be exploding with glorious spring time flowers and the universe was alive again. In the distance you could swear you heard the sound of some of the wolves returning, though it might have just been a stray dog running about. Either way, the land of the north was alive again!
Galloping down to the old troll cave and spotting the great creatures shuffling about and looking excited, you gave a shout of greeting. They gave grumbling noises of excitement and shuffled towards you, swiftly you passed the newspaper to have a look at – not that they could read it. As they fumbled over and even argued about who got to hold the important document, you lurched into the cave and spotted Norway, sitting down and looking grim.
“Have you seen the news Lukas?” You questioned, nearly collapsing as you forced yourself to suck in the air. You stepped over to his side and looped his arms around him. He took the embrace longingly but for the first time you were sure there were tears in the corner of his eyes. The country whose own parliament had resisted and tried there hardest to keep the Nazis away was looking sad. You kissed his cheek, unsure what was bothering him. “What’s wrong Lukas? We’ve made it to the other side.”
“That bastard Terboven blew himself up so he couldn’t stand trial for his crimes. There will be no justice for those who have suffered, there will only be sympathy….” Lukas growled, sinking down into his lap. But you just shook your head and gripped your arms around him tightly, letting him burst into tears against your chest. He’d needed to do that for five years… perhaps that was the true sign that it was over and they were free.
“But we’re out of it now… its time to start over and in this we are not alone…”