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Brendan Egan

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  The Devil’s Land


1. Chapter 1

My name is Augustus Abel, I was born in Munich, Germany, 1906. Life was tough growing up in a poorly run environment. Living in a shitty homemade cottage out in the middle of nowhere. You couldn’t even use the outhouse without running 7 blocks, getting attacked by wild animals, or stepping in human or animal feces. I lived in a highly dysfunctional family. Dad owned a fruit stand in the middle of Düsseldorf Square and Mom worked at the Munich Lodge, a home for people who have gone mentally insane and can’t take care of themselves. I went to a school where if your family wasn’t involved in politics, you were the biggest piece of shit in the school. That kid was me… I was punched, thrown into the Isar river, and tripped. My parents didn’t care about what had happened to me. My Dad was abusive. He would beat up my Mom and whip my sister and I. 1921, my parents had gotten a divorce. Following the divorce, Dad drank himself to death. Mom was depressed, taking care of my younger sister was her biggest priority. The job that she was enthusiastic about turned into a hole of nightmares. Once Mom quit her job, she stayed in her bed all day and all night. She eventually overdosed on her depression pills and ended up killing herself. We couldn’t afford a funeral, a proper burial, or cremation, so we had to bury her out in the field.

When I was 17, I had my thoughts, “Was this it?” I dropped out of school to take care of my sister. We did everything and anything to get myself and my sister off to college. My sister, 14, took over the fruit stand.

The stand was doing poorly, the pharmacy I worked at Roosevelt & Co, a pharmacy that was about to go out of business due to the owner’s recent death. Life really did suck! Living night to night in an extremely cold house. One night, my sister started with a barky cough, after ransacking the shelves of Roosevelt & Co Pharmacy for cough medicine. My sister began having seizures, which led to a visit to the local hospital. Rose was diagnosed with encephalitis. Symptoms include major coughing and seizures, Eventually, you will either die or have severe brain damage. How the hell am I supposed to pay for the house, food, and now medication.

How could this happen to her?! How could this happen to us!? It was either we both die or she dies. After several trips back to the doctor, it was said that she had 7 months left to live. After the visit, Rose left the building crying her eyes out. “I will never have a family”, she cried out. “I will never have children of my own.” I knew I couldn’t afford the medication to help her. All I could say was “I’m sorry”. After the news, Rose sat in her bed for almost a whole month. Doctors were worried about her depression on top of the encephalitis. Rose was slowly dying in that bed. She hadn’t gotten up to use the bathroom in about a month. The bed had a strong smell of urine. But, She didn’t seem to mind the smell too much.

February, 22, 1922

After a long day at work, I come home to see a pile of blood on the ground. I yell “Rose!” I ran across the house to the living room to find bloodied sheets and a bloodied knife. I sprint over to her bed, lift up the sheets, “Rose?” Rose’s eyes, wide open, foam oozing out of her mouth. That cold wave of air had hit me. Goosebumps plummet down my spine. I lay my head down on her bloodied sheets. My body suddenly became numb. The only thing I could feel was the single tear making its way down the side of my cheek. “Why me?” I whisper to myself, “Why me?” Blood drips off of her arm and into her glass of water. Once the ambulances arrived, I was asked to leave my house and never come back. The memories from my childhood slowly slip my mind as I walk across the desolated cornfield I once had ran across as a kid. I feel the fresh grass stroking my feet. I look back at my decaying house. My childhood memories surge throughout my whole body. I walk through an abandoned forest that was once the home of “Camp Abel”, snow glistens as it softly lands on the dirt ground.

I see the remains of what used to be the Winsel Paper Factory. The sky fills up with dark factory smoke. “Here I come, here I go.”

August 19, 1922

Summer is peaking, It has been 6 months since the death of my sister. I have been running a bread stand across from the courthouse and next to O’Malley’s. The stand isn’t doing that well. I sleep in any alley way I can possibly come across. Most nights, I sleep next to a WW1 veteran, Carter. Carter was a soldier during WW1, his family had passed away, he was shot in the leg, and partially lost his hearing in an explosion that killed his whole clan, with him being the only one to survive the blast. After work, I bring him the leftover bread from the stand. He is very grateful of the fact that someone has considered him to be a normal human being. Everyday before I leave for work, Carter tells me a famous quote written by a famous poet. “The course of true love never did run smooth”, “Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.” In his spare time, Carter reads famous playwrights, Othello, Macbeth, Winter’s Tale, and The Tempest. He keeps a big, ratty, notebook by his side at all times. Nobody knows what is in the book. Carter carries around crumpled up sheets of paper in his pocket that state Jewish prayers. He recites them out loud before he goes to sleep every night.

ברוך אתה ה' א‑לוהינו, מלך העולם, שהחינו וקימנו והגענו לזמן הזה.

(Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, exams and Kamen and we got this time).

December 24, 1922

On January 1st, I will be shutting down the bread stand to accept a job at “Alimentaire”, a high-end pastry shop in Munich Square. Many American celebrities have visited the stand and have paid good money to eat at this place. Carter is depending on me to bring in some warmth so we can survive the winter time. Every morning, Carter gets up extremely early so he can find us some blankets laying out on streets, trash cans, and parks. The other day, he found 10 Reichsmarks in one of the blankets. He spent it on a brand new blanket and some food for us to eat. It only takes one night for the cold to take you into it‘s arms and suffocate you to the light of death, according to Carter.

December 25, 1922

Christmas Day, a day for spending time with family and friends. It has been about 10 months since the death of my sister. I have no one by my side. Carter is meeting up with some of his Jewish friends for drinks. I was left sitting in the alley way, roaming the vacant streets of Munich. As I glanced through the windows, I see families eating dinner, talking to one another, it brought back memories to when I had a family. We would talk about life, play games, and eat a lot of different types foods. Those were the good old times! We would find an empty jar and collect insects that we had never seen in our life. All of those memories, gone!

2. CHAPTER 2

June 8, 1923

Work is going well, life is going well, everything is beginning to turn around for the better. I am currently living in an actual house with Carter and his Jewish friends. Every morning, I wake up to, “Extra, extra, read all about it.” The smell of fresh bread and roasted chestnuts is the scent that gets me up every morning. For once in my life, I have my own bed and my own bathroom. The other day, Carter and his Jewish friends brought me to see a film. The film was called, “Nosferatu”, it was quite scary. That is a film that you will never forget! Mon-Fri, 7AM-7PM, I work at the cafe. Right before closing, a pretty woman walks into the cafe. Everyone in the cafe sits still and stares directly at her. A customer whispers, “Mrs. Schröder?” The woman looks directly at the customer and says, “May I help you?”. The cafe continues to stay quiet. I noticed something awfully familiar about this woman, where did I know her from? My co-worker, Phillip, comes over to me and whispers in my ear, “Do you know who that is?” He pauses to look at the woman, “That is, Greta Schröder, she has been in a lot of films.” It finally hit me! That was the woman from the movie, “Nosferatu”. I jump over the counter, pause, and slowly walk towards her. The customers look at me with shock as I slowly tiptoe towards her. Greta makes direct eye contact with me. I felt a major gust of cold air hit me, it felt like a “What’s your name?”, she says. “M-m-my name?” I stutter, “Yes, who else is standing in front of me”. “Augustus, Augustus Abel!” There is a long pause between the two of us. I couldn’t think of what to say. So I said…

“You were great in the film.” She giggles and says, “Nosferatu?” “Yes, yes, you really brought your character to life” I say nervously. There is another long pause between the 2 of us. “Can you take my order?” She says in calm tone. I swiftly jump back over the counter. I don’t remember what her order was, but I do remember how the customers and workers looked at me after the fact. Right after work let out, I sprinted down the busy streets, bumping into pedestrians, almost getting hit by numerous cars, When I got to the house, Carter was out on the patio watering his flowers, “I met her!”, Carter looks at me with confusion. “Who?” ,he yells. The name “Greta Schröder!” ripples out of my mouth. He pauses and looks down at me, “You met her?”, Carter mumbles. I couldn’t believe it! When I ran inside the house, Carter and his friends came in for a group hug. I had never seen an old man sprint so fast. They wanted to know my experience and whether she was nice or not. Tomorrow, we are going to temple, I have never been to a temple before in my life! I was raised Catholic community, went to church everyday, was taught at a the “St. Timothy’s Secondary School”. I really don’t know how to feel about this!

June 9, 1923

The morning sun peeks over the mountain tops, gleaming directly through the dirty windows, and landing on the wooden floor, lighting up the whole room. The big clock in the living room goes off. I feel a dome-like figure and a ripped up note at the end of my bed. I lift up my bed sheets to find a thing called a dome. Not knowing what it is, I take the yamaka, put it on my night stand, grab my crucifix, and put it in my pocket. I toss the sheets on the ground and see a ripped up note on my bed from one of Carter’s friends. The note reads… 

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