Thursday, September 29, 2016

Monday, September 26, 2016

Next update Moskau (Alternative History Thriller) by G. Zotov - Chapter 7

Chapter Seven

Benito Pizza

The top floor of Viking TV

THE BUILDING WAS RATHER OLD, from 1957, with plaster peeling from its corners. Its entrance was barricaded by massive concrete blocks. Behind them, surrounded by piled-up sand bags, the German Phoenix zonderkommando unit hunched up over their machine guns. The motors of armored vehicles were growling in the back yard. Sniper teams kept watch on the roof: guerrilla units had repeatedly attacked the Ministry of Propaganda and Public Education. The twenty floors of this concrete behemoth housed state television, radio stations, a dozen newspaper offices, a souvenir shop and the pretentious Thule restaurant. The corridors inside seemed to snake every which way. That and the eight elevators each leading to a particular department made losing one's way extremely easy.
The TV channel took up the five upper floors, the best and most sought-after ones. In order to get inside, any visitor had to show his or her ausweis to the security guards behind their bulletproof glass, then walk through a turnstile. From there, Viking TV workers were in charge of the visitors. To get in, you had to first press your hand to the scanner next to the sliding doors.
Opposite the elevators, a banner under the ceiling quoted Dr. Joseph Goebbels:
We always tell the truth. Well, almost.
In accordance with the Moskau Reichstag directive, the television received 20% of the budget: same as the army. And they were worth it. The Triumvirate leaders had had plenty of opportunity to convince themselves that television could be much more effective than tanks and missiles. Throughout human history, even the strongest of armies had had trouble suppressing mass uprisings. But the TV screen allowed a much harsher mind control than any amount of street patrols. TV officers' ranks began at Scharführer; even their junior correspondents enjoyed the equivalent of Generals' salaries and free luxury food parcels. Their equipment made their colleagues worm with envy: all those excellent cameras, expensive cars and high-speed Shogunet.
The marble lobby featured the bronze bust of Hans Ulrich Rudel with his illustrious bald patch: the first man in space who'd raised the Reich's flag on the Moon in 1952. His international fame, endless autograph-signing sessions and half-naked female fans who besieged the astronaut even on restroom trips had made quick work of Rudel's career. He'd drunk himself into an early retirement within a year and a half, a record time. He'd been grounded and transferred to a boring but cushy job as the head of Berlin TV.
Hans Ulrich had zealously attacked his new job which became a pleasant surprise for his superiors. He joined the Adolf Temperance Society and didn't sleep nights coming up with new ideas for talk shows, planning quiz games, and working on new stories for popular soap operas like The Woman of My Dreams. It was he who'd turned the entertainment TV into the proverbial kraken entangling the minds of billions of Aryans. A 1965 law demanded that every citizen of the Reich swore an oath to watch at least three hours of TV daily. Factory workers began installing special timers on all new televisions they produced. A number of laws had been canceled since then... but this one was still in force.
"Achtung! Newstime in ten minutes! Everybody get ready!"
Sergei glanced at his watch. He still had time before rapping out the latest news, grinning inanely into the camera. That was peanuts. Now the briefing at the TV Direktor's office in half an hour, that was a dirrefent story. All news broadcasts were pre-recorded in conveyor-belt fashion. The anchors had a list of prompts to choose from, lying in a special recess on their desk: "a temporary drawback", "decrease in radiation levels", "economic growth" and "the relative growth of the reichsmark against the yen". The list had a special set of phrases adapted to incidents of Schwarzkopf attacks: "needless cruelty", "civilian casualties" and "terrorism has no future".
The camera with a silhouette of Rudel on its side pointed at Sergei.
They may say what they want but Hans Ulrich is a genius, Sergei thought, mechanically touching his Versace tie. Much smarter than Goebbels. The Nazis didn't sleep nights trying to come up with the very best ways to promote their propaganda but achieved only the opposite: everyone was sick and tired of politics. And this alcoholic astronaut has come up with the simplest thing: if you want to control the human brain, you need to soften it up first. When all you watch is a sequence of inane entertainment played out to mindless laugh tracks, you don't think. You don't have to choose, only to react, like Pavlov's dog. Give him a beer and switch the TV to Tonight with Marlene Dietrich - and you're free to press his buttons.
Sergei wasn't afraid to admit (mentally at least) his dislike of the Triumvirate. He considered himself an intellectual; he used the Shogunet to read banned books online; he even left cautious anonymous comments supporting the Schwarzkopfs' activities. In all honesty, so did most of Viking TV workers. Passing a bottle of schnapps around after work, the journalists would curse the "invaders" political and economic dominance with the strongest of expressions. Once back in the office, however, they condemned "guerrilla terrorists" with a double zeal.
"I don't know what to do anymore," Sergei's fellow anchor Vasily Kolpakov, the Political Department's Sturmführer, had admitted to him ruefully once. "I think I've developed a reflex. I take my seat, I see the camera and my mouth just opens and starts to speak. I can't help it. The moment I see the Führer's portrait on the wall, I can't stop myself."
Every TV worker had a similar set of excuses comprised of clichés similar to those they had to use on air, "I need to feed my family", "Somebody else will take my place" and "At least we have some stability under the Krauts".
The sound of female laughter made him startle.
A manicured finger gave him a flick on the nose. "Serge darling, what's this for a beak? Did your parents lose a bet with God?"
Sergei forced a smile. Having swayed her hips one last time, Masha the makeup lady disappeared round the corner of the corridor. Wretched bitch! Saying something like that in front of everybody! Someone was bound to put two and two together. Then it would start all over again: visits from the SS Race and Settlement Office: 'How did you manage to get past us with that kind of schnozzle?' Again he'd have to submit his family tree, pass blood tests and undergo phrenological control. He'd have to grease their palms once again, too, because they were bound to discover that his maternal great-grandfather was half-Armenian. Being a non-Aryan wasn't just bad form: it was plain uncomfortable. To get any job these days, you needed a certificate from the Race Office.
Sergei knew quite a few people who had sunk all the way to the gutter, living in one of the Arbeitslagers - barracks for forced migrant labor employed for the Reichskommissariat's needs. The statute of Moskau forbade all Aryans to do menial work like sewage cleaning, railtrack laying or even the selling of fruit at village markets. A special agreement with the Nippon koku allowed the importation of millions of Chinese slaves who didn't cost anything and worked 24/7 for a bowl of rice. This was the kind of life awaiting all non-Aryans.
Sergei shuddered.
Oh, no. He'd rather become a brothel supervisor. Anything but the arbeitslager.
He switched on the mike. The countdown had already begun on the plasma screen. Three, two, one...
"Dear Damen und Herren, welcome back to Viking TV! Let me begin with our headlines. The Reich's cities are being consumed by a wave of renaming. The citizens of Veliky Novgorod demand their metropolis be returned its 9th century Swedish name of Holmgard. This event is supposed to coincide with the building of the temple of Loki - the Scandinavian god of fire - in the city's main square. Yesterday the population of Krasnoyarsk sent a petition to the ruler of the Nippon koku, asking his official permission to be called City of Fragrant Chrysanthemums. A sushi festival held for the Reich tourists by the new Shichō - that's Mayor to the rest of us - of Uradziosutoku has been a resounding success. The guests received balls of rice topped with slices of grayling, dogfish and omul[i]. Abdullo von Zimmerblut, the Führer of the Reichskommissariat Turkestan, finished Friday prayers in the Ashgabat mosque by issuing a statement threatening the pig farms of the Reichskommissariat Ukraine with airstrikes. Meanwhile in the Crimea, Prussian colonists have celebrated the beginning of the holiday season with fireworks, simultaneously tripling their rent for the holiday makers. Apparently, this is how they start every summer season which is why last year tourists chose to ignore this traditional holiday destination. The new Oberkommandant of Moskau has pronounced traffic jams part of our national heritage, officially refusing to do anything about them. In Hollywood, Japanese producers have begun shooting Episode 57 of their blockbuster Godzilla. This time the giant sea monster is about to head off to Greenland to destroy an Eskimo village, the last place it hasn't yet been to. Stay with us! After the commercial break, my colleague Fräulein Irina Nosov will continue with tonight's news."
A commercial began, showing a very happy, very fat housewife in a frilly dress who looked like a native of Bavaria, Russland and Ukraine all rolled into one.
"When I make my wurstsalat," she chirped, "I always use Eva Braun, the only mayonnaise which offers my food the taste of the Reich's victories. Low radiation levels, only the best artificial coloring, and lots of safe anti-cholesterol additives. Eva Braun: the eggs that taste like those your Wehrmacht granddad stole from the poor old village lady!"
It was followed back-to-back by an ad for the Benito pizza chain. Its cooks had topped international rankings with their "Duce pizza": tomatoes, mozzarella and a cooked carrot fashioned as Pinocchio's nose. In Moskau, pizza and sushi were in close competition. The ad was nothing new: shots of steaming pastry and deliciously runny cheese followed by the promise of a twenty-minute delivery time.
The closing shot showed an actor impersonating Benito Mussolini, with bulging eyes and a tightly pursed mouth.
"Benito pizza!" he shook his fist at the camera. "Immortal like the Reich!"
Irina began reading the news, her voice ringing with enthusiasm. She'd only been working for a couple of months. Normally, new workers gave it their all.
Funny people, these Italians, Sergei thought. They make even a dictatorship look like a circus show. While all we have is the labored drama and haughty airs. Why is our regime even trying to fight the Resistance when it's perfectly clear that the Forest Brotherhood can't be defeated? Why can't they admit that every empire needs an enemy, otherwise it reduces itself to a street sausage vendor? The kind of affairs happening in the 1940s! Those were the days! Bolshies, Semitic plutocrats, Wall Street tycoons... We consciously decided to stop blaming the Semites while they had always been humanity's perfect scape goat. As were the Bolshies - another dream trademark. So convenient to blame our problems on.
The news edition was over. Sergei scooped his papers up from the desk. The weather forecast began.
"Have you got your radiation meters on?" the slim, tall blonde weather girl asked cheerfully. "Well, you shouldn't have! Today we expect radiation levels to drop considerably. It might have something to do with the activation of two new sarcophagi around the nuclear power stations in Voronezh and Kostroma. The temperature is ninety degrees which is quite normal for December. Enjoy the sun!"
Between the global warming and radiation leaks, Sergei thought, the inhabitants of Moskau wouldn't know what to do with snow if it jumped on them. What kinds of times are these? We wear shorts in December; air conditioners sell like hot cakes. The Reich's plant breeders promise everyone to start banana plantations. That would officially make us what we've been for quite some time: a run-of-the-mill banana republic.
He heard footsteps and rose. Two officers in gray business suits were walking toward him, followed by the news Oberst, pale and buttoning up his suit jacket as he walked.
"Sergei Kolychev?" one of the strangers asked, a seven-foot giant.
He nodded, feeling his insides turn to ice. The Gestapo. Did that mean they already could read human thoughts?
"We need to ask you a question concerning one of your ex-colleagues."
Sergei was confronted with a small picture. A pencil sketch.

[i] Grayling, dogfish and omul - types of fresh-water fish indigenous to Lake Baikal.

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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Check out new chapter 6 - Moskau (Alternate History) by George Zotov

Chapter Six

The Angel

The Richard Wagner pedestrian zone, #22/7

THE GEHEIME STAATSPOLIZEI (Gestapo) Special Isolation Facility was situated at the very end of Wagner lane - or Arbat, as die-hard Moskauers still called the little pedestrian street. On the outside it was a two-story book shop. Its sign read Spirit's Delight - a name admittedly more befitting an alcohol store.
Inside its spacious premises flooded with light, sleepy and bored salesgirls helped the few shoppers to choose the Reich's newest literary masterpieces. In the shop windows, the latest bestsellers were gathering dust: the coloring book The Childhood of the Führer and a how-to book from Leni Riefenstahl, How to Make it as a Movie Star. Few people bought books these days - most downloaded them for free from the Shogunet. Mein Kampf had been in the public domain since 1944 anyway. All other books had to pass a meticulous integrity check by the Ministry of Propaganda and Public Education.
The Gestapo's electronic department had their hands full with the Shogunet, blocking those of its sections which allowed users to upload illegal translations of banned authors like Jack London or Hemingway, and especially the dreaded Leo Tolstoy: an anti-war extremist whose books could earn you two months in the cooler. Not that it helped. The numbers of illegal download links to the works by the likes of Tolstoy and Margaret Mitchell mushroomed by the hour.
In order to make readers buy the book, you need to ban it first, Pavel thought, forcing open the glass door embossed with an emblematic eagle. Prohibition is the best promotion.
A salesgirl in an SS Bewerber uniform flashed him a professional smile. "Welcome to our shop, mein Herr. How can I help you?"
Pavel cast a wary look around. Actually, there was no need for it. The shop wasn't too popular: its prices of almost a thousand reichsmark per title would scare anyone off. Only a frail old man standing with his back to him shuffled from one foot to the other in the back next to a thriller stand, studying a volume of Stephanie Meyer. Pavel remembered the authoress' name: she'd recently been commended by the Neuer York gauleiter himself for her series of spy thrillers Abwehr Vs NKVD.
Pavel leaned toward the Bewerber girl until he almost touched her lips. "My number is seven eight nine five double-two one six," he mouthed.
Still smiling (Pavel had the impression that the smile was painted on her face giving her the semblance of a shop window mannequin), the girl punched the number into her cash register. Its screen lit up, offering Pavel's number, Gestapo rank and clearance level. The girl clicked her heels softly as she pressed an electronic card into his hand.
"You can collect your books over there," she pointed at a door at the end of the corridor. "Please don't forget to give our worker your discount code. Thank you for shopping with us! Danke schön!"
He used the card to open the door, then locked it again behind him. Inside the narrow room was an elevator booth. Pavel pressed the single button on its control panel. The elevator moved downwards, heading toward the cellar.
They were already expecting him. A hungover overweight Volksdeutsche checked his ID, rearranged his own SS hat with an emblem of the medical corps, then made a phone call. A soldier in a black uniform took Pavel out of the room and along a concrete corridor dimly lit by a row of red light bulbs.
All the mental hospitals in Moskau had long been closed (as had they been in all other reichskommissariats); all the medical personnel had been dismissed. If someone happened to lose their marbles, they were sent directly to the isolation block. Once its doctors were finished with the patient, he was deported to Africa.
The isolation block's commandant looked bored in his office. He was sitting under an emblem of the Reich with its swastika thoroughly blotted out, concealed under several coats of plaster at the center of an oak wreath.
The commandant nodded to Pavel. He didn't bother to rise, only flung a file across the desk toward him.
"All the paperwork and the pictures are inside. You wanna speak to him? No idea how you're gonna do it. Two of the researchers are basically vegetables. They don't react to anything. We use an IV drip to feed them. The third one is a bit better but... he won't speak to anyone. Sometimes at night he screams his head off. We have to inject him with downers by the bucketful."
"It's all right," Pavel said with a small smile. "He'll talk to me, don't you worry. I'm taking the file. Give me his cell number and don't bother with an escort. It's a personal conversation," he fell silent, peering at one of the pictures.
"I just hope you squeeze him for whatever you want to know," the commandant deftly swatted a fly on the table. "Go ahead, bitte schön. You have all the time you need."
The isolation cell lived up to his expectations. Twelve by twelve feet, it was padded with soft white felt to make sure the patient didn't break his head when having a fit. A light bulb and a surveillance camera under the ceiling completed the setting. The camera's red eye went out the moment Pavel entered the room. They weren't filming the visit.
The patient in the room paid no heed to him. He was small and disheveled, with tousled ginger hair. Good for him. Carrot tops didn't have to dye their hair to pass for Aryans. The man was sitting on his cot mouthing something and rocking from side to side. Impressive. Well, let's do it.
"Hi there," Pavel said gently while cracking a folding chair open. He stood so that the light from the bulb fell onto his face.
The patient's gaze shifted toward him. He burst out coughing. "You... you... you... how is it possible... you're... you're-"
"Dead," Pavel finished the man's thought for him. "True, it happens sometimes. But, by Thor's hammer, it can't prevent us from talking, can it?"
Beads of sweat erupted over the man's brow. He was shivering, feeling around himself blindly as if the padded wall could part and swallow him.
"I'll only be a minute," Pavel assured him. "And I'll leave straight away, I promise. You understand you have no choice, don't you? Tell me the truth... and it'll be over quickly."
The man gave a robotic nod. Pavel sat down.
"It was horrendous," the man whispered frantically.
"You managed to get a glimpse of it," Pavel reminded him. "Just tell me: what did you see?"
"I saw what can't be," the lunatic burst out coughing. "I thought I was hallucinating. But it was real! I touched it... it... was so real. The portal it came from is closed now, isn't it? You've locked us up to make sure we don't speak... but it won't be long before everybody knows... Don't you understand what's coming? We're all going to dissolve like melting snow. It's coming for us."
The prisoner spoke hotly and feverishly. Pavel was calm: an observer might have thought that he was bored by the man's story. He even sighed a couple of times, glancing at his trendy Swiss watch: a limited-edition Apel with the picture of Horst Wessel on the lid.
"I got it," he finally said. "Did you manage to work out what had caused it?"
The lunatic fell silent for a while, mouthing something. "A fiery figure. A flash. I went blind in one eye. Blinding light. It's an angel."
Pavel wasn't surprised. What else did he expect a madman to discuss, quantum physics? The main thing was to keep him talking.
Pavel nodded, his whole body projecting his interest. "Keep going."
"The moment we entered the impact zone, it walked right past us. We saw it. Unbearably bright. The heat! Hermann's brains got cooked and leaked out through his nose. And then... it disappeared. I saw it clearly. It's about to swallow us. We'll all be fragmented."
"Do you remember its face? The angel's? Think you can draw it for me?"
The prisoner snatched the notebook from him and began drawing in broad, sharp pencil strokes: a face framed by long hair, an aquiline nose, thin lips.
He can draw, that's for sure, Pavel thought. That's life for you. Why do we have to push pencils in the office for a pittance instead of developing our God-given skills? Having said that, where did I see art in Moskau? The Reich needs minimalism and clear-cut lines, Schwarzenegger-type beefcake heroes - no unwanted subtleties. If you want fine art of ikebana and calligraphy, you need to go to Tokyo.
The lunatic raised his head from the paper. His eyes were tearful. "It was so real that I could sense it breathe. It breathed fire."
Pavel adjusted his e-funk and took several pictures of the drawing from different angles. He sent the images off, then asked a few more questions but didn't find out anything new. The madman's mind was going in circles: he kept seeing the flashes of fire going through the air, his dying colleagues, and the fiery angel.
Having wasted another ten minutes, Pavel rose from his chair. He knew exactly where it had happened. But now that he'd heard the story, he wasn't looking forward to seeing its horror for himself. He'd better concentrate on finding some protection from the trigger agent. It didn't seem to enjoy unwanted company.
He reached into his shirt pocket for the pill. "Here, take this. It might make you feel better."
The lunatic exploded in laughter. He knew. "Excellent! All this time I've been waiting for it... Finally! Valkyries, come to me!"
The folded chair in hand, Pavel walked back up the corridor while the walls of the isolation block shuddered with the lunatic's laughter.
Pavel's e-funk vibrated. He opened the message and chuckled.
Come now. I know who it is.
Behind his back, the laughter broke off.

... The Japanese by the bookstand watched Pavel leave, his gaze indifferent. He turned back to the shelves and resumed his perusing of Stephanie Meyer's new release.

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Saturday, September 3, 2016

Alternative History - Chapter #5 Moskau by G. Zotov

Chapter Five. Daifuku

Hindenburg Lane, next to the Berlin store

“You’re pale. Look at your face, it’s drawn. You’ve got dark circles around your eyes. Would you like a glass of wine?”
Oh no, lady, thank you very much. I don’t drink wine, anyway. Definitely not after what happened earlier today. My whole body is aching like hell. It’s as if they took me apart, limb by mechanical limb, then handed my body parts over to a drunken plumber to reassemble and wrangled some horses over me before throwing me into the path of an Eicher tractor. You wouldn’t want to feel what I’m feeling, girl, that’s for sure.
I blink. “Thanks. Odin’s priests are obliged to celebrate a monthly Vegetarian Day to remember the Führer. So today it’s cabbage patties and Karlsbad mineral water for me.”
She sniffs, then makes a show of helping herself to a slice of turkey. The Schwarzkopfs zealously stick to their diet which is supposed to reflect their convictions. They avoid pork (without even considering the fact that we have Muslims serving in the Idel Ural Legion and the Croatian SS Kama Division), they don’t drink beer (even though the production of Rhine vineyards isn’t limited to grape juice) and ignore sausages, even veal ones. And in view of the Führer’s vegetarian practices, some of the die-hard Schwarzkopfs even refuse vegetable foods. If they eat salad, they make sure it has meat in it: and not the sophisticated Alpine wurstsalat, but an obnoxious local dish which Russlanders call Olivier although the appellation Titanic might have been more apt: a pile of chopped veg and chicken hugging each other in terror as they drown in a sea of mayo.
The bubbles in the water tickle my tongue as I gulp it down. My tablemate has chosen a rather revealing dinner attire: a hugging purple dress with a deep décolleté exposing almost all of her braless cleavage. Her nipples are so stiff they almost pierce the fabric. She must be cold in this airconned room.
Poor girl. Hasn’t she had enough of her own games?
The Schwarzkopfs measure everything with their own yardstick. They think that every priest is dying to have sex, dreaming about it in his wet dreams, closing his hands around his... well, his blanket. Especially if the priest is a Catholic of an Orthodox monk. But I am one of the Waidelottes: the ruling caste of Viking priests (also known as the Legend Keepers). I can have a harem of twenty if I want to. Only Aryan women, unfortunately: the Moskau Priest Council has allowed the servants of Odin, Loki and Thor to take wives, provided they’re natural blondes. Which is a problem to a degree, of course.
But marriage aside, a Waidelotte can sleep with who the hell he wants to.
“Some of humanity's most abominable murderers were known for their sentimentality,” she says, sinking her teeth into the turkey as if it were the Führer himself. “Your darling leader was a vegetarian, he loved dogs and even doted on other people’s children... while hating their parents. This is ridiculous! The whole of Europe is being governed by a ghost! While the authorities pretend this is exactly how it should be.”
Aha, that’s what she’s driving at. Actually, I have to agree. At the end of the Twenty-Year War the Reichskommissariats unanimously decreed that the Führer was to remain the Reich’s supreme leader despite his tragic death. Which meant that officially he was feasting with the fallen Einherjar in Valhalla instead of drinking blood in the underground caves of Hel's, the goddess of the dead. Which in turn also meant, according to the Priests Council memo, that its members could enter a state of trance in order to contact the Führer in Asgard and transmit his orders back to us. The Führer’s decrees were printed in Gothic font with a nice-looking facsimile signature. This state of affairs suited every Reichskommissariat's Triumvirate perfectly: while presenting no threat to their own position in power, it provided them with a convenient front person whenever things went awry. And what better scapegoat than a nominal deadman ruler?
“What’s wrong with that?” I reply in a deliberately bored voice, transporting a piece of a cabbage patty to my mouth. “The Führer’s only been in Valhalla what, a few decades? Your Jesus has been absent for two thousand years and no one has seen him since, apart from a couple of nutters. This doesn’t seem to baffle you, does it? You’re quite happy to accept that he runs the Universe from atop his cloud, even though there’s no documented evidence proving that Yeshua the Nazarene did exist, apart from Flavius’ Antiquities of the Jews. And although he does mention him being sentenced to death, neither contemporary chronicles nor Pontius Pilate’s personal diaries mention his execution, let alone his supposed resurrection. Besides, how sure are you we can trust Flavius in this sensitive matter? He was a Jew, wasn’t he? Sorry for mentioning Jews at the table...”
I bite my tongue. Shit. I overdid it, didn’t I?
The girl hurls her fork at the daifuku plate. The clinking of steel against bone china sounds like a funeral bell to my ears. Great gods, Odin and Thor, save me! Now all hell will break loose.
“Have you ever asked yourself what happened to the Jews and Roma? Where are they all gone?”
Aha, so that’s what she’s driving at. Predictably so. “Gone to Africa on a Crystal Train,” I reply impassively. “As if you don’t know. Open any primary school textbook, and that’s what it says. A perfectly legal deportation, voted unanimously by the Reichstag and supported by leading cultural figures. When Africa received the status of a self-governing colony, the whole of the “black continent”, with the exception of Ethiopia, Morocco, Egypt and the South African Union, was fenced off by a concrete wall surrounded by mine fields and wound with barbed wire. All the government workers were evacuated and all troops withdrawn. From then on, the Africans had to fend for themselves. I don’t think that the Crystal Train passengers had it easy. Africa has neither the Shogunet nor television. The streets of its ravaged cities are the theater of clan wars. Starvation, epidemics, all sorts of new viruses. Still, deportation is more humane than extermination, isn’t it?”
Her face breaks out in crimson spots. “They were killed,” she enunciates. “The Jews. The Roma. The Yaoi. The drug addicts. Even the mentally ill. Why are there no mental hospitals anywhere? Why is psychiatry an illegal business, like tobacco dealing? When someone becomes schizophrenic, their families hide them from the authorities as they've been doing since the 1940s. Society has no place for the useless — or yes, this is one lesson we did learn from the Germans! The Yaoi, the Yuri[i], the schizophrenics — you’re right, they’re not executed openly anymore. You deport them to Africa through your control posts in the concrete wall. How’s that different from execution? There’re still some surviving eyewitnesses confirming the existence of wartime camps where millions of people were gassed and incinerated like rats. Ever heard about Auschwitz, Sachsenhausen, Buchenwald, Dachau? The monstrous factories that ground their way through tons of human bones every day? Here in Russland the Nazis used to burn people alive by the villageload; they had special gas wagons to dispose of hostages. Half of us were doomed to extermination, the other half were meant to become agricultural slaves for the Krauts’ colonists.”
“There’s no evidence of this,” I hurry to point out. “It’s nothing but rumors.”
The dinner is ruined. She has a tendency to do that.
“Yeah, sure,” she says with a bitter chuckle. “It’s bad form mentioning it these days. We may be a dictatorship but all dictators would like to seem hard on the outside and soft on the inside. A bit like a banana. The Triumvirate will never admit that the Führer was going to turn half the planet’s population into garden fertilizer. Did you know that they performed a total archive purge already in the 1970s? Concentration camps paperwork as well as the SS and Gestapo archives were shredded in papierwolfs, camp ovens were converted into bakeries and gas chambers into shower rooms. When you stick to the same lie year after year, people start to believe you. That’s what Dr. Goebbels used to say. Latvian researchers from the Reichskommissariat Ostland keep publishing those articles in the Völkischer Beobachter saying that all labor camp prisoners were paid for their work; that they had brothels and movie theaters, even football clubs, and that apparently Italian labor camp officials even organized free pizza deliveries for their prisoners! And how are you going to disprove it? All the ex-prisoners have been ordered to have their camp number tattoos removed. This is their formula of success, courtesy of the Triumvirate: you need to plunge people into the frenzy of consumption. Then you don’t have to conquer them. Their mental abilities will atrophy naturally. Had the Führer been a bit smarter, instead of invading Russland he could have built a chain of Drakken Kaufhof malls complete with 3D theaters. When the human brain is only used for entertaining, it just goes to mush.”
I appear to enthusiastically munch on tasteless cabbage. Oh Hel, the Lady of the Underworld! These Schwarzkopfs are such goody-two-shoes. So empathic and sensitive they make you sick. Yeah right, shopping malls and movie theaters, how awful, how brain-numbing. But had we still been living under martial-law National Socialism with its ration cards, margarine for butter and saccharine for sugar, they’d have been the first to scream their indignation about the terrible Triumvirate starving people to death.
“Listen, what’s the point in dragging a bunch of seventy-year-old skeletons out of the closet?” I wash the cabbage down with some mineral water. “The Tatars in their time steam-rolled over medieval Russia too, pillaging cities, turning churches into stables and raping village women. You see any Russlanders losing any sleep itching to avenge that genocide? How about the French? Napoleon’s army burned down the cities of Vilno, Smolensk and Moskau — and? The Russlanders absolutely love the French culture. Never mind that Paris has been under the SS Fashion Department since 1940 in the tender care of Oberführer Lagerfeld and his assistant Hugo Boss — still any lady worth her smelling salts will gladly spend a month in a Gestapo cooler for a bottle of French perfume. Even if you presumed, for the sake of argument, that by some fantastical miracle Russland defeated Germany in the war, we’d still have already been buddying up. We love our enemy and can’t stand our neighbor. Take the Reichskommissariat Turkestan, for instance. Every time I see their legionnaires in the street, I can’t help thinking, Are these muttonheads Aryan too?
The girl is silent. She’s too busy arm-wrestling her stomach into submission. On one hand, she’s dying for a daifuku. On the other, this is a political discussion — as is our every dinner.
“Russland is under foreign occupation,” she says, casting a sideways glance at the dessert. “You’re not going to argue that, are you? We have a foreign state emblem, foreign laws... and foreign rulers.”
There, she’s already switched to the defensive. If I only could, I’d have smoked a cigarette the way some men do after good sex. Unfortunately, Odin’s priests are obliged to lead a healthy lifestyle.
“That’s an easy one,” I finish off my cabbage patty. “As far as the emblem is concerned, Russland used the Greek double-headed eagle for the last five hundred years. It also had German laws for the last two hundred. The Royal court positions were also German: Kammerherr, Frauleina, Hofmeister... The names of Russian chancellors: Ostermann, Bühren, Nesselrode, Stürmer... Might that mean that this so-called occupation has never stopped? All right, so concentration camps did exist. But who might have guarded them? In the Sobibor death camp they were Ukrainians. The burgermeisters, the auxiliary police, the journalists producing newspapers, SS volunteers, Gestapo interrogators — all of them were Russlanders wearing German uniforms. And you know what Russlanders are like: the moment a foreigner hires them, they’re quite prepared to hang themselves with zeal. The ten biggest Russlandish cities now house Wehrmacht garrisons. Five hundred each! These aren’t occupiers, these are toy soldiers. Ceremonial guards. True, we have plenty of German bureaucrats and brass hats everywhere: in the army as well as the police and civil ministries. But it was the same in the Keiser’s times! On the other hand, Russlandish businessmen have bought up wholesale some of Berlin’s most prestigious real estate. In 1984, Russisch became one of the Reich’s official languages. Who occupied whom, may I ask?”
Without saying a word, she springs to her feet. The daifuku remains untouched even though I can see it's still calling her name. I already know what’s going to happen next. First she’ll head for the bathroom to brush her teeth. Then she’ll go back to bed. Her life is boring but rather safe, if I may say so.
The bathroom door slams. Finally I can relax.
When I had come round, lying sprawled on the floor back in the Temple of Odin, I’d immediately thought: what would have happened to her had I not come back? Every morning I replace her handcuffs for a couple of sturdy thin chains allowing her to get to the bathroom. Her bedroom has a small fridge containing everything she might need. But the bedroom door is locked. She can’t escape. If I disappeared, she’d starve to death within a month. I hadn’t thought about that. My mistake. I'll have to consider installing a Zeitschaltuhr — a timer — on the lock and set it for like twenty-four hours. There are also other things I have to consider. I’ve been zoned out for two hours flat. I need to look into a couple of things.
Firstly, I need to find out where the goat is gone. And secondly, whatever has happened to the statue of Rübezahl.

Textbook No 1.
A World Geography

The Reich Union, or the Third Reich of Greater Germany.
Founded in 2004 after the end of the Twenty-Year War. Technically represents a confederation of several Reichskommissariats: Ostland (comprising Belorussia and the Baltics), Moskau (the European part of Russland), Deutschland (Austria, Germany and the Governorate of Poland), the Caucasus (Azerbaijan, Georgia, the Kuban and the zonderkommissariats of Chechnya and Dagestan), Turkestan (Tajikistan, Turkmenia, Uzbekistan and Kirghizia), the Ukraine (including the Russlandish cities of Kursk, Voronezh and Tsaritsyn (the former Stalingrad)); Norway and the Netherlands, and Britain (excluding the Republic of Scotland). Other “special territories” belonging to the Reich Union include: Lake Baikal, the Crimea (inhabited by German colonists) and the enclave of St. Petersburg.
The countries allied with the Third Reich:
Slovakia, the Italian Empire, the Independent State of Croatia, Finland (including Karelia and Murmansk), Transylhungary, the Kingdom of Romania (including Odessa and Bessarabia), the Southern French Protectorate (with the capital in Vichy), The Federation of Spain and Portugal, and the Kingdom of Bulgaria (including Greece). In 1951, Ataturk's Turkish Republic was ceremoniously returned its old French colonies of Lebanon and Syria. It was also gifted Armenia. Restored in 1964, the Baghdad Caliphate was comprised of Iraq and the Maghreb sultanates, including Egypt and Morocco. The Free State of India (also known as Azad Hind) is under the joint protection from the Reich Union and the Nippon koku. Korea, the island of Formosa, Hawaii, Karafuto island, the Kamchatka peninsula, the Siberian cities of Khabarovsk and Vladivostok — now known under their Japanese names of Habarosito and Uradziosutoku — as well as Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore all make an integral part of Nippon koku. Technically, the Russlandish territories from Kamchatka to the Urals are also within the Japanese area of interest but in reality it is controlled by guerilla units of “forest brothers”. The Republic of Far East (with its capital in the city of Chita) isn’t independent, being a Japanese protectorate.
Japan’s satellite states are: Manchukuo, China, Thailand, the Indonesian Emirate, the Vietnam Empire, Burma and the Philippines. The Nippon koku also boasts a special territory of Australia which bears the special status of “holiday colony” where rich Japanese come to unwind on its seaside beaches. Australians have all been deported to Alaska.
The government of the United States of America signed their capitulation on April 18 1956 in Los Angeles after the 2nd SS Division Russland battled their way into the city. In 1958, the USA was divided into the California Republic (a joint protectorate of the Reich and the Nippon koku), the colonies of Neuer York, Boston, Washington and Florida (with a Japanese governor), the Reichskommissariat of Texas and the “unclaimed territories of the Wild West”: the anarchic uncontrolled ex-states of Alabama, Utah and Kansas. Alaska makes up part of the Republic of the Far East as an autonomy ruled by a Japanese daimyo. Canada has been dissolved: Quebec has been given to Southern France, the north of the country is the property of Japan while the rest of it is used to deport the Chinese.
Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia and Chile form the German Community of South America. Even before Wehrmacht troops entered these countries in 1983, their capitals had been taken by armed Landwehr colonists.
Africa received the status of an autonomy. All the racially inferior nations were deported there within the Chrystal Train campaign. African borders were turned into three-mile “security zones”, its waters separated by a twelve-mile “anti-pirate zone”. Having been conquered by Italy in 1936, Abyssinia now has the status of an “overseas territory”, as does Libya. The 1984 coup in the South African Union led to the Afrikaners deposing corrupt pro-British politicians and recognizing the protection of Greater Germany. Six months later, joint Japanese and German troops landed in the Siberian city of Tyumen which is the official ending date for a world war that had lasted forty-five years.

A World Geography. Approved by the Moskau Ministry of Propaganda and Public Education

[i] The Yaoi and the Yuri — respectively gay males and females in the context of Manga and Anime. The popularity of all things Japanese in the Third Reich has apparently lead to the widespread use of these two terms.

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