Historical Fiction Suspense Sad

The absence of windows to the outside world did not bother the Weber family, considering it had been twelve months since they first entered the relatively spacious room. The presence of eye-popping paintings featuring images of virgin forests and serene seascapes added to the illusion necessary for them to get by given the limitations of their situation.

Ursula, the unica hija, was overly thrilled when she celebrated her eighth birthday at a new place to stay. It was a far cry from their previous big house with all the maids and gardeners in stripes. Yet, this one's felt obviously safer with its thick door entrance, sturdy looking walls and ceiling, and the atmosphere that you’re inside a big, impenetrable vault. The whole thing, too, was strategically built to be hidden from easy view. Even explorers wouldn’t think there’s a bunker where it was situated. 

A year later, Ursula's mood was oppositely different knowing she spent her whole year at the same place bordered by the same walls. She was a bright kid, and she couldn’t be fooled by her parents trying their best to keep her unbored.

Her father Elimar, tall, slender, and blonde, never lost his authoritative swag despite being away from the routine of his work for such a long stretch. It was such a significant work in the thick of things and it gave him and his family an illustrious life for several years.

Mother of the house Margot, a petite, buxom beauty rapidly being reduced into a haggard, aging lady in just a couple of years, had prepared for Ursula’s special day by cooking her daughter’s favorite dish. She knelt before her daughter and asked, “Aren’t you excited that it’s your birthday today?”

Always honest with a touch of innocence, Ursula replied, “Mommy, my birthday wish is for us to finally leave this place. I was eight on the day we came here. I’m now nine!”

The soft-spoken Margot, wearing her favorite red and black one-piece dress to stress the point that it was a special occasion, assured her daughter, “Don’t worry my dear. Your wish will come true. Just keep praying for it.”

The small family was gathered on a sofa with a small glass table in front of them, filled with a variety of food concoctions that appeared unexciting to Ursula because she’s familiar with all of them and there’s nothing spectacular about the menu roster either. They're expected to taste bland without the expertise of the family's former cook who used to own a restaurant.

Elimar, dressed in his military uniform for a purpose, stood and started pacing the floor which was a sign that he was agitated.

“Margot,” he called his wife, “Come in here and let’s discuss the matter.”

The reasonably obedient wife, after holding her breath for a few seconds, asked her daughter to let go of her embrace as she needed to talk to her father. She went to the corner where Elimar stood waiting for her.

He didn’t waste time once Margot was near enough for him to whisper to. “We have to decide now, Margot. I have a feeling the enemy is going to arrive sooner than we can expect.”

Margot was trying to calm herself. “Are you sure about your comrade’s betrayal?”

“Yes. That was what I found out when I went the last time to replenish our essentials.”

“How dare your best friend inform the enemies of your whereabouts?”

“That’s nothing new,” he said, his shoulder surrendered, “Betraying the very people you’re supposed to trust is not uncommon in our ranks, especially if it’s for one’s own benefit.”

The Webers decided to hide after Elimar’s big boss gave him the bunker for a gift as acknowledgment for his services and loyalty. They didn’t let slip the privilege feeling it was only a matter of time before the war ends and everything that they worked hard for would either be deemed useless or shockingly exposed.

“The question now is whether we should do it with Ursula,” Elimar pointed out.

Margot couldn’t stop her tears from falling. She covered her mouth and then let go of her right hand to speak. “I can’t imagine our child going down with us. She deserves to grow up, experience adulthood, and enjoy her life to the fullest.”

Elimar sighed upon hearing his wife say that again. He countered, “You’re being weak again, Margot. How many times should I tell you that fear is not in our blood and surrendering is not in our vocabulary?”

The birthday girl was keeping herself preoccupied by playing with her battered doll which had always been her favorite toy. But she was noticing the serious talk going on between her parents. She knew she needed to pretend or father would scold her for meddling with adult conversations. She could notice her mother’s weeping getting louder.

Ursula couldn’t resist interrupting, “What’s the matter, Mommy? It’s my birthday today. Aren’t we supposed to be feeling happy?”

Elimar, as expected, turned to his daughter. But instead of raising her voice to warn her, he approached her and tried his best to sound as kind as possible, “You don’t have to worry my dear. Your Mommy is just feeling emotional because it is your birthday.”

The poor kid wanted to go to her mother and console her. But Elimar was obviously keeping her from seeing Margot cry uncontrollably.

“I’m okay, my dear. I’ll be with you shortly,” Margot assured Ursula as she wipes her face with the cloth in her hand. She always carried a hanky, or anything she could use to wipe her sweat or tears. The year-long stress of living in a bunker produces either of the two. Once cabin fever took its toll, she’s either feeling tired or lonely.

Last night’s intense conversation between her and Elimar replayed in Margot’s mind like a nightmare. In bed seated, unable to sleep, the two of them started playing the blame game. She was confronting her husband for leading a life that would put their family in seclusion and ultimate danger.

Elimar argued angrily, “Don’t you ever question my decision to join the Party of our Fuhrer, Margot. That changed our lives beyond our imagination and you and our child enjoyed the perks of my association with the Third Reich!”

“But you fooled me into thinking nothing was wrong with our leader,” Margot shouted back.

 “There was nothing wrong in waging battle against our enemies?”

“You call those innocent people stripped of their possessions and evicted off their shelters enemies?”

Margot paused for emphasis. “And worse, you took their freedom away. You yourself led men to persecute them, terminate them. You urged soldiers loyal to that evil little create the culture of hate, of murder!”

Elimar’s blood boiled after hearing his wife say things against his comrades, his men. “In an all-out war, there is no murder, only victors and conquests.”

It was his turn to make a point, or so he thought, “Shame on you Margot! You partied with Nazis and their families. Don’t tell me you never learned about the camps. You wore jewels owned by Jewish aristocrats. We had paintings taken from their houses. We lived in a house that used to be owned by a Jewish merchant.”

“Yes, I’m aware of all that! Margot screamed. “That’s why I am taking the cyanide with you!”

The couple fell silent after that. They wondered if their argument could have awoken their sleeping daughter.

Margot’s thoughts came back to where she really was, as she and Elimar anticipated the arrival of the Allied soldiers any moment.

It was relatively long for Elimar and his family to have remained undetected for a year now. His traitor-friend made sure that their enemies would do the raid on Ursula’s birthday. It was kind of an exact vengeance on him being the officer in-charge when this friend’s little boy was mistaken for a Jew while playing in an area near a concentration camp. Elimar apologized to his Party-mate after the latter’s son was incinerated along with prisoners. Turned out it wasn’t enough. His vengeful friend plotted to reveal the Webers hideout in exchange for his freedom, that of his wife, and a surviving son.

Elimar and Margot knew it was time and they sat on the sofa along with Ursula. He gave his wife a long look. He said to Ursula, who’s dressed in her ballet outfit as she requested to her mother, “Don’t worry, daughter. We are making sure this is your last day here in this place. Why don’t you say a prayer? It is your birthday and you can move a mountain.”    

Margot embraced Ursula tight, tighter. Elimar took out the medicine vials off his pocket.

In less than an hour, four Allied soldiers stormed the bunker after forcing open its door. The leader of the pack quickly saw the family inside. Elimar and Margot were holding each other’s hands in their final positions on the sofa, obviously lifeless. They were being awoken by Ursula.

The leader of the uniformed and heavily loaded pack looked to one of his boys as they all observed young Ursula quietly cry over the dead bodies of his parents. “This should be your lucky day, childless soldier.”

The soldier in question stooped down and attempted to speak to the child.

Ursula gestured to him, and sadly said “They took something and went to sleep quickly. They wouldn’t wake up."

The soldier felt sorry for the young girl and tried to assure her that things are going to be okay. “Worry not, child. You’ve just been liberated. I promise to take care of you, and your doll.”

March 11, 2021 02:41

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


H Bolton
22:16 Mar 17, 2021

Hello Yugel, we were paired in the critique circle. I was shocked by the twist that they were Nazis and the title has a dark humor to it now that I know the full story -- nicely played. For me, it would have been helpful to describe the bunker further, I did not realize what time period it was until the twist. I didn't really connect with Ursula's emotions at the end; what was she supposed to be feeling?


Yugel Losorata
04:04 Mar 18, 2021

Hi, thank you for saying that the twist and title were “nicely played.”


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply