George turned up his nose at the bowl of soup and accompanying cheese sandwich before him. Recoiling from the woman to his left as the unappealing gloop dribbled down her chin. Their captors glided around them in crisp uniforms with cheerful smiles plastered across their deceitful faces. Some prisoners even smiled back. Indeed, he thought, they must be suffering the effects of Stockholm syndrome. How could anyone be confined in this urine-soaked hell hole and smile? They might believe they belong here, but he knew the truth.
He’d been planning for this moment from day one. His brow furrowed as he tried to recall precisely how he’d come to be in this wretched place. He eyed the soup and his debilitated cellmates. Still trying to remember a life before this prison, he lifted the bowl of sludge to his nose and narrowed his eyes as he gave it a short and deliberate sniff. Just as he thought, drugged. Why else would they feed them? He lent back and surveyed the room. This was his chance. Wishing he had taken the time to learn the poor soul’s name, he apologised while gently nudging a bowl towards the table’s edge. The woman next to him’s eyes glanced to the gruel and back, pleading with him to stop. The bowl hit the floor, and the woman’s lap was soaked in foul-smelling, lukewarm sludge.
A guard shuffled between George and the woman, she was unaware of George’s shaking fingers as they unclipped the key from its holder at her waist. George still thought it strange that they were using women to guard their prisoners but who was he to understand how these box heads think.
Edith raised an accusing finger, but George was already gone. He hoped she wouldn’t be punished too harshly for his crime and shuffled his way towards the door with his heart racing. A soft click preceded a sigh of guilty relief as George took one last look at the allies he was leaving behind.
A hand much younger than his own gripped his arm firmly.
“C’mon, let’s get you back to your room.”
George summoned the last of his strength and pulled his arm free.
“I’m not going anywhere with you, Nazi scum. Shoot me if you must, but I’m not spending one more damned minute in that stinking cell!”
“But George –“
George turned. He could see the crisp snow and feel the cool morning air through the open gates ahead. He shouldered past two people and was feet from freedom when a young woman’s voice stopped him in his tracks.
“Dad? Where are you going?”
He swallowed and turned. The German guard’s uniform lightened. The medals transformed into fob watches and ID. Before him stood his daughter, she was a little older than he remembered, but her voice was as familiar to him as his own. A tear fell, following the many crevasses of his face as he read the sign over the front desk.
“Welcome to Riverside Lodge Care Home.”
By Stacey Potter