51 comments

Historical Fiction Fiction Sad

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

Warin believed he could fix anything.

He'd repair any gadget he could get his hands on. Watches, radios, toys. His neighbours brought him their broken trinkets—he would take them apart and put them back together, good as new. When his mother found him an electronics magazine, he thought he could be the next great inventor.

He couldn’t fix the dead body of his brother, returned home in a coffin.


- - -


Emeline adored her bakery. It had belonged to her grandfather, passed down to her father, and finally to her. She awoke every morning at first light to heat the ovens. She’d wash trays, prepare muffins, and bake a dozen kinds of bread. The locals lined up as she opened.

She would be the one to take the store a step forward in the world. 

Renovations and expansions. 

Her family would be proud.

Yet, as Germany’s war efforts faltered, soldiers showed up and demanded her wheat. She had no choice but to comply. Then, they asked for her pots and pans—they’d be melted down to make bullets. She argued, unwilling to let them in.

They broke her nose with the stock of a rifle.


- - -


Velten’s life led up to defending his home. The winds howled in mid-February. He shivered, sitting behind the twin barrels of an anti-aircraft cannon. His allies set up their searchlights. Another prepared to feed the weaponry ammunition—although the army provided little for defence. 

The light of the city ahead dimmed. Street lamps and traffic stops shut off. Windows were boarded over with dark panels. Air raid sirens sounded their distorted, haunting wail, and Velten waited, breathing slow.

Dresden, as black as pitch, faced hundreds of British warplanes.


- - -


Warin kept close to his mother, his hand intertwined with hers—he would not lose her too. He pulled her arm as they ran for the shelter. Planes droned overhead. Bombs hissed, shrieking as they fell, reducing buildings to rubble on impact. Warin coughed against the dust, raising an arm to cover his eyes.

He needed to find the subway station.

A barrage of explosions rocked the earth. His teeth chattered. A nearby cinema groaned, caved, and collapsed, an avalanche of rock and metal. A wedge of loose debris struck his mother’s head. She dropped to the ground.

Warin couldn’t pick her up.

The surrounding fires brought light to the hulking beasts in the sky. He found a rock, threw it as high as he could, then fell to his knees. Tears welled in his eyes.

“What have I done to you?” he cried.


- - -


Emeline stumbled through the wreckage of her city. The bombers had retreated—far from routed—and left infernos in their wake. Her eyes grew dry in the rising heat. The fire brigade worked around her, spraying hoses of ivory-white water, calling to one another. Inaudible amidst the chaos. Buildings collapsed by the second.

Ahead stood her bakery. 

Reduced to ash and rubble.

A century of memories erased.

She fell to the ground before it, breathing in smoke, digging through cinder and stone. Cuts nicked her hands. If she could salvage the photos on the wall, the ones of her parents and grandparents, it would be okay. She would recover.

Yet, the smoke made it hard to think.

She coughed, hacking from her lungs. A fireman rushed to drag her off.


- - -


Velten walked with his head hung low. The sun dawned on a ruined city. A woman sobbed, laying down by the remains of a house, a broken stroller resting beside her. A man played a sombre tune on a violin. Others worked to drag out what remained of their possessions.

Children cried within triage tents, surgeons fixing what they could.

He couldn’t face any of them.

The British had overwhelmed the night. He’d shot down one plane before ammo ran low, his cannon making clunking noises as it fired blanks, his boots held down on the pedals. Not a dent to the enemy forces—a loss in all terms of the word.

They’d left his people distraught.


- - -


Warin held a rifle at his side—the weapon over half his height. He stood in a palace garden, far away in Berlin, alongside boys his age, all dressed like soldiers. Orphans. Beige uniforms with red armbands. They would all be taught, trained, and sent off to defend the front lines of the city against an invasion.

A chance for vengeance.

Adolf Hitler walked down the line of soldiers. They broke into salutes. The Fuhrer consoled each of the youth, patting their shoulders, assuring them of victory. Bags reposed beneath Warin's eyes. His arms shook in jolts. He longed for the battlefield.

The Fuhrer reached out a hand.

Their goals of retaliation aligned. As the last of his family, he would do his part in setting everything straight. Warin shook hands with Hitler, his grip firm, and shouted,

Sieg Heil!


- - -


Emeline worked shoulder to shoulder with another woman. A silent one. Not that it mattered—neither could hear the other over the factory’s hammering. Emeline lowered her mask, sparked her welder, and brought the adhering flame to the tank’s hull. She followed the guidelines as taught.

A plate welded.

Down the assembly line.

Onto the next.

Her hands grew thick with calluses. Dozens of light tanks left the factory by the day. She’d attach cables, wave to a foreman, and they’d send the tank to the next station. Soon enough, she took the position and commanded the work orders herself.

The factory did little in taking her bakery's place.


- - -


Velten would not fail again. He marched in unison with a hundred others, each step the sound of thunder. The insignia of a dual lightning bolt painted the right side of his helmet—another on his collar. High power and high rank. The elite force of his country.

Men and women waved Nazi Germany’s flag as he passed through the town square, and Velten kept a straight face of confidence. He raised an arm alongside his comrades in a salute. Soon, he’d fight the enemy head-on. There’d be blood to spill on his homeland’s soil. 

He would protect his people.

By all means necessary.


- - -


Henry would get revenge for London at any cost.

For fifty-seven days straight, the Germans terrorized his home. Their fire-bombings destroyed landmarks, museums, and libraries. History razed without remorse. Houses damaged beyond repair—thousands upon thousands of innocents torched within the fires.

His people, throughout the air raids, kept their spirits high.

Like thorns in the paw of a lion, their fortitude could not be deterred.

As Churchill said, they would fight until the end without surrender.

Henry flew alongside hundreds of Royal Air Force bombers. The raid on Dresden would decimate German morale. Destroy their confidence. Give them a sharper dose of the miseries they’ve showered upon mankind. 

Thousands of feet above, he pulled the lever.

Bombs whistled below.

January 26, 2022 17:34

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

51 comments

Alex Sultan
17:35 Jan 26, 2022

In regards to the prompt, I found my character names here: https://blog.reedsy.com/character-name-generator/language/german/

Reply

Show 0 replies
Tommie Michele
19:27 Jan 26, 2022

I really love the new style on this story--the short alternating POV's gives a really nice flow and perspective. The way you were able to have four well-developed characters, with so few words devoted to each, is amazing. Best of luck in the contest, friend!

Reply

Alex Sultan
10:17 Jan 27, 2022

Thank you! This one was very challenging to write. I didn't want to go over the line with controversy, which I always feel I border with these stories, and I reworked some of the POVs quite a bit. I appreciate the read and comment - I'm a bit busy at the moment, but I'll try to leave notes on your newest story before the deadline :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
19:41 Feb 04, 2022

Alex, great writing once again. I really liked the style and alternating character view points. You have such a unique flow to your work. Very precise and descriptive …no extra or unnecessary words. Great work.

Reply

Alex Sultan
22:37 Feb 07, 2022

Thank you, Heather. I appreciate the kind words. I'd like to think I have a unique style to my works, and I'm glad it came across in this one 🙂

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 2 replies
Felice Noelle
19:51 Feb 04, 2022

Alex: I loved this story...so much so I can't critique it. I have a daughter-in-law whose mother was a small girl at the time of Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. Before she died she shared some interesting perspectives on WW2. After your story maybe I can research some more and try to get her story told. She spoke of rice and bean aprons that her mother sewed up and had them wear so they could fill them full of beans and rice to keep them from starving when they ran up into the mountainside to escape the allied bombings around Hiroshima...

Reply

Alex Sultan
22:36 Feb 07, 2022

Thank you, Maureen! I appreciate the kind words, and I'm glad this story resonated with you. You should definitely try to get the story told! It'd be really interesting to read as a short story. I'll check out Edward Rutherford's work - I've been trying to read more historical fiction. Thanks again for the read and kind comment.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply

Have you heard of the sinking of the children's ships, when people in the UK sent children to other countries during WWII, and several of the ships were sunk? If you write more historical fiction from this period, I think these would be great stories in which to include a German POV.

Reply

Show 0 replies
22:28 Feb 03, 2022

I'm simply in love with this structure, which is simply just well-woven, and just sparks an image, a pretty damn clear one, of every character's struggle, then passes to the next, and the cycle repeats with beautiful prose all over again throughout the text. I salute you. Good luck.

Reply

Alex Sultan
22:24 Feb 07, 2022

Thank you, Ismail. I appreciate the kind words - this was a very new and different style to write in. I'm glad it worked out.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Karen Kinley
22:42 Feb 02, 2022

Excellent snapshot of several perspectives during a very dark part of history. I applaud the use of various POVs. It helped to see the war from several angles. I agree that the line about the brother at the beginning was a little off. But well done!

Reply

Alex Sultan
18:36 Feb 03, 2022

Thank you, Karen! I appreciate the kind words and the feedback. I've wanted to try writing multiple POVs in one story for a while, and I'm glad it worked out. I do agree, the brother line at the beginning could use some work - it's definitely something I'll keep in mind for the next story I write. Thank you, again 😁

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
15:26 Feb 02, 2022

Wow! All of the perspectives in this story work so well together. You learn so much about each character in just a few words. Great work!

Reply

Alex Sultan
18:36 Feb 03, 2022

Thank you, Katelin! Your comment is very kind. I appreciate you taking the time to read through my story.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Keya Jadav
17:21 Feb 01, 2022

The story very well takes back to one of the biggest scar in history. I liked how the struggles have been delivered through different souls, each trying to overcome their losses by the end. The idea is great and put well to words. I love the last perspective, very smart of you to include that.

Reply

Alex Sultan
18:43 Feb 03, 2022

Thank you, friend. Firebombings were awful. London, Tokyo, Dresden, Coventry, Warsaw - war is terrible for everyone. I'm glad the message came across clear. I appreciate the read and comment as always.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Graham Kinross
21:44 Jan 30, 2022

Powerful story. It’s sad that carpet bombing became so common during World War Two. War is ridiculous enough as it is, then the generals have to destroy civilian lives to make their points. It reminds me of two things mainly, seeing the painting of Guernica by Picasso and the story behind it and secondly the scenes of Dresden in Slaughterhouse 5. Great story.

Reply

Alex Sultan
18:40 Feb 03, 2022

Thank you, Graham. I appreciate the comment and kind words. Firebombings were awful, all over the world, in Tokyo, Dresden, and London. I'm glad I could get the message across effectively - war is terrible for everyone. Thanks again.

Reply

Graham Kinross
21:23 Feb 03, 2022

Exactly, hopefully the conflict in Ukraine doesn’t escalate. Might makes right is still a popular mindset all over the world.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Mae Stroshane
16:00 Jan 30, 2022

Brilliant story, Alex! The changing POVs, rich historical detail, and passionate narrative really drew me in.

Reply

Alex Sultan
18:41 Feb 03, 2022

Thank you, Mae! I really appreciate the kind words. This one was tough to write - and while I'm not too fond of it, your words are inspiring. All the best 😁

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Philip Ebuluofor
10:18 Jan 29, 2022

The pacing and connection is something else really. Fine work

Reply

Alex Sultan
18:42 Feb 03, 2022

Thank you, Philip. I appreciate the read.

Reply

Philip Ebuluofor
18:59 Feb 03, 2022

Welcome.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Delia Tomkus
21:46 Jan 28, 2022

I loved this story and really liked how you captured both sides of the war. We are learning about the Holocaust in school, and while it was obviously really terrible, I've been enjoying learning about it. This story was well written and easy to get into. I feel like people need to understand the horror of the Holocaust so that we will never again repeat our mistakes. Anyways, nice job!

Reply

Alex Sultan
10:19 Jan 29, 2022

Thank you for reading! WW2 is definitely interesting to read about - the widest conflict our world has suffered. There'll always be, to this day, a lot of ground to cover in learning and reading through it. I appreciate the comment as always, Delia.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Annalisa D.
20:44 Jan 28, 2022

This story has a nice pacing to it and it's interesting seeing the different perspectives. Emeline's story stood out the most to me, personally. I think the emotions came through strongly for me in that. With different perspectives, different ones will appeal more to each and that's nice. It gives all different people a way to engage. This could be just me and not something others agree with, but although I liked the line "He couldn’t fix the dead body of his brother, returned home in a coffin." and it's tie in to the introduction of that...

Reply

Alex Sultan
09:44 Jan 29, 2022

Thank you, Anna! Your comment is very kind. I do appreciate the feedback, and I get what you're saying. It does make a lot of sense the way you wrote it and I see it too - however, I wanted to go for complete shock value. Like a strong hit of reality that could act as a hook to the story. It's too late to change it, but it is something I will definitely note for the next story I write. I've been around the clock busy lately, but I look forward to reading your recent two stories when I get the chance. All the best 😁

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Anna Nonymous
19:36 Jan 28, 2022

Great work as usual, Alex. I love how quickly we cycle through snapshots of these characters' experiences - it provides a slightly frenzied pace that perfectly reflects the nature of war and their rapidly changing existences. I'm glad you thought to approach this from a German perspective. A lot of WWII lit out there, but mostly from an Allies perspective. Loved this line "Bags reposed beneath his eyes" and the moment when Warin threw the rock at the plane - oof. I just... felt for that kid. And that, I think, is the power of your writing. ...

Reply

Alex Sultan
09:46 Jan 29, 2022

Thank you, Hannah. I'm glad the style for this story worked out! It was challenging to write - it is the first story where I've written everything out of order and pieced it together at the end. I do like writing from and balancing an Axis/enemy perspective in my stories. While I feel I'm always on the border of controversy, it does make for a unique take each time. Thanks again for the kind words 😁

Reply

Anna Nonymous
12:11 Jan 29, 2022

I'll have to read back in your catalogue for this "controversy" you speak of - I don't see it here! I don't think it's controversial to acknowledge that the enemy were people too, who also suffered a great deal of material and human loss. I think it's important to acknowledge that not all Germans were Nazis, and that some of them who were (Warin) didn't have much choice in the matter. I think you nail the balance of not glorifying the enemy while still humanizing them. No controversy here!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
18:07 Jan 28, 2022

I am new to Reedsy's short story contests, so I love looking at the stories that others are writing. I like your use of several POV to tell different aspects of the same situation. It made the story more exciting as it is just a short story and not a book. I am not a huge fan of war stories, but I really enjoyed reading yours!

Reply

Alex Sultan
10:24 Jan 29, 2022

Thank you for reading, Rebecca. I appreciate the kind words. I tried a new style with this one - rotating POVs - and I'm glad you liked it. I do agree, war stories are not for everyone, but there is an interest in how our world was a lifetime ago.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Sage M Brownell
15:12 Jan 28, 2022

Hello Alex, I have been reading your stories for a while now and I'm impressed on how great of an author you are. Keep up the good work! :)

Reply

Alex Sultan
09:58 Jan 29, 2022

Thank you, Sage. I appreciate the kind words - I will keep on doing what I am doing 😁

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply

[They broke her nose against the stock of a rifle.] Perhaps instead {The stock of a rifle broke her nose.} [twin barrels of an anti-air cannon.] Perhaps instead {twin barrels of an anti-aircraft cannon.} [Cuts scraped her hands.] I’m not sure about this line. Something doesn’t seem right, but I’m not sure what. Maybe make it {Cuts nicked her hands.} 🤷‍♀️ [Others worked to drag out what remained of their apartments.] Maybe make it {Others worked to drag possessions out of what remained of their apartments.} [Onto the next.] Perhaps ins...

Reply

Alex Sultan
10:00 Jan 29, 2022

Thank you for the feedback! I've implemented most of your suggestions. You have a very good eye for this. You're right about '[Cuts scraped her hands.]'. It definitely feels off, but I didn't catch it myself. Same with the 'anti-air' cannon. I appreciate the comment - I'm looking forward to your next story 😁

Reply

Glad I could help. Historical Fiction is one of my favorite genres to read, and yours is very vivid and moving, with often unexpected viewpoints. Sorry that last comment was abrupt, I was in a hurry when I wrote it!

Reply

Mae Stroshane
15:56 Jan 30, 2022

Excellent feedback to Alex's story! One comment: His spelling of "stock" is correct, not "stalk."

Reply

Whoops. I didn't think he spelled stock wrong, I made a mistake when I typed it in that comment the second time. I was in a hurry. Thanks for pointing that out! I have now edited that comment.

Reply

Show 0 replies

Alex gives me excellent and helpful feedback on my stories.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 2 replies
Show 1 reply

Thank you so much for reading my stories and critiquing them. You really help me to make my writing better, and you always give critiques in a helpful, friendly, non-threatening way. I'm extremely grateful to you.

Reply

Alex Sultan
18:44 Feb 03, 2022

Of course! You'll have to let me know when your next one comes out 😁

Reply

Hey Alex! I posted something new. Not a prompt-based story.

Reply

Alex Sultan
22:16 Feb 07, 2022

When I get the chance later on this week, I'll read it over and leave my notes.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 2 replies
Show 1 reply
19:00 Jan 27, 2022

Hi Alex, A few thoughts: It should never be thought that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime. - I think the story would open better if you cut this line. It is a deep and meaningful thought, but it doesn't reflect the tone of the following paragraph and I think the next line: Warin believed he could fix anything. Does a better job of getting us straight into the character. If your current first line could be tied to an action or a character's thoughts or a bit of dialogue or something more anchored in the stor...

Reply

Alex Sultan
06:25 Jan 28, 2022

Thank you, Katharine. I appreciate you taking the time to look over my story. I edited in your suggestions, and I agree, the first line felt way too disconnected from Warin's pov. I think your take on it is good and I removed it. My original idea for the story was to have it be on the blitz of London, hence the fifty-seven day's line, but I couldn't find the voice for it as compared to Germany. I'lI did some research and it does say Dresden was retaliation for Coventry, to an extent. I may or may not change it - I'm on the fence about it. ...

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
J.C. Lovero
01:45 Jan 27, 2022

Hi Alex, I loved this story. As previous comments have mentioned, you definitely have a grasp of writing in historical fiction. I think back to my history classes and remember the dates, the places, and the people, but you manage to capture the feelings in your stories, which is what makes them magical to read. I also love multiple POV stories, and your ability to execute them within the short story limit AND make them feel fully fleshed out is amazing.

Reply

Alex Sultan
03:31 Jan 28, 2022

Thanks, J.C. I appreciate the kind words. While I prefer writing fantasy, I find putting in the research to these historical fiction stories(half the task of writing them) very interesting. The multiple POVs were different to write - I wrote each character story in full before mixing the order. Thanks again for reading!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Rachel Smith
18:02 Jan 26, 2022

Hi Alex! You really do have a flair for historical fiction. I thought it flowed really well and highlighted the tradegy of war with lots of personal details. Those brought each character to life despite them each only having a few words. Great first line, it encapsulated the whole story. Well done and good luck!

Reply

Alex Sultan
03:17 Jan 28, 2022

Thank you for reading, Rachel. I appreciate the kind words - I've wanted to write this story for a while but needed a prompt to line up with it. I'll have to look over your newest story when I get the chance :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply