Sunday, December 30, 2007

New Short Fiction: Hitlerland

Nina was your typical American 17 year old girl: Blond, petite, loved rock music and history, did well in school, had a line of steady boyfriends and even attracted the attention of a few older men here and there, much to her own delight.

But unlike most typical American Girls, Nina had a sort of twisted sense of humor; she would giggle at inappropriate times, like during her history class's viewing of "Schindler's List" or two years ago when a classmate died in a car accident and she started the rumor that the accident was caused because the classmate was giving the driver head. It was later told to her that it had been her father driving the car, which only made her giggle harder.

So imagine Nina's rapture when Hitlerland announced it was finally going to open in nearby Huntersville, a short two hour drive from where she lived.

Hiterland was exactly what it sounded like: A theme park which, as it's creator and chief executive officer Don Marty was quick to dance around, celebrated World War Two and primarily the history of Adolf Hitler.

Of course there was a whole storm of controversy that followed the idea of Hitlerland, from Jewish Leagues, Veteran's Societies, People With Good Taste, etc. Don Marty pushed hard for three years before finally being able to sell the idea as a "historical" theme park. With some funding from less than upstanding groups, Hitlerland was set to open this weekend.

Nina could barely contain herself. The whole idea, even to this twisted young lady, seemed completely ludicrous. How could this thing ever be built? She wondered to herself as she thumbed through the park's webpage. She couldn't stop giggling when she would read the ride descriptions: Himmler's Science Lab, The Holy Grail Cup Ride, A Night in Eva's Bunker, and it went on and on. Most of what she saw in the pictures was typical of most theme parks she had been to. A few stock photos of roller coasters, smiling children with pink puffs of cotton candy on sticks, with the captions that no actual photos from Hitlerland were available yet. Ticket prices were modest, a day pass would cost her forty bucks. Nina picked up her little cell phone and started calling numbers.

To her surprise, no one, all eighty-seven contacts on her phone wanted to go with her this weekend. Some of her friends laughed and asked if she was serious, her other friend, a young lady by the last name of Goldstein hung up on her. She just thought her friends were stuck up and needed a laugh.

I mean, it's a theme park about Hitler! She thought, it can't be taken so seriously!

The next morning Nina got up and got dressed. She had a thin little body, with tiny breasts, her blond hair cropped just below her ears. She put on her usual amount of eye liner, which was way too much, but it's what the popular kids did these days, and put on a tight pair of low rider jeans and a white tank top. It was just getting close to summer and she had a feeling this wouldn't be her last trip to Hitlerland before school started up again in a few months.

She hadn't told her parents about her planned trip because deep down she knew they would object, and likely make her stay home and do chores. It was eight am, and the park would be opening at about eleven. She figured if she took her time, she would get there right before the gates opened.

She picked up her keys, her camera, her little bag and bopped out the door, her parents not even noticing her leave. She got into her older brother's old Camry and drove off towards Huntersville.

When she got to Huntersville, traffic snarled wickedly. She thought to herself, wow, a lot of people want to check this place out. As she inched her way through the coils of cars on Rt 9, she began to notice the crowds and cars. Some of the bumper stickers on the cars were downright filthy, messages of hate were the theme on a lot of them. She snickered at one that said "My Child Bombed Your Child's School" in relation to the honor roll student bumper sticker that had been around forever. Another one was slightly less pleasant "If you let niggers and jews into your town, you're letting in disease and strife." Well, there was nothing really funny about that one, was there? She frowned and turned up the music in her car.

The people in the cars were disturbing as well: Fat bald bearded men in white tank tops, kids with scruffy mullets, shaved heads, women looking tired and worn out, smoking cigarettes between long withered fingers. Everyone looked poor and cheap, cars were more than ten years old and kept in poor condition, cracked windshields, loud hate filled heavy metal being blasted out of the open windows where children and dogs leaned way too far out of to be safe. A few big black motorcycles roared up the sides of the breakdown lanes. The men on the bikes were big, dressed in all black, with big Swastikas on the backs of their jackets. Nina's stomach suddenly turned as she wished she hadn't come alone.

"They're probably working for the park," she said to herself, her mouth dry, the thought that she was in the wrong place at the wrong time worming it's way into her brain.

By 1230, she finally found a parking space for twenty dollars about a mile away from the park entrance. She had pulled off of Rt 9 and parked where someone had opened up their front lawn to motorists with a homemade sign on white clapboard and red paint.

Nina hadn't worn the most practical shoes for walking, so by the time she had made it to the ticket booth her feet were throbbing and blistered. Just outside the gate were a sea of protesters with their own home made signs. Most called owner Don Marty an anti-Semite, a monster, an opportunist, etc. Nina found it very difficult to wade her way through the crowd to get her all-day pass.

But she did, after being called a number of not-so-nice names, and she was through the big red and black wrought iron fence with barbed wire adorning the top. Her eyes were wide and a little wet as she was marched through the gates and into the park. Suddenly Nina didn't think this was all that much fun.

The interior of the park was littered with more people she saw in traffic, in jackboots, shaved heads, white suspenders off their shoulders, tight white tank tops eating ice cream and wandering about. Her all-day pass was a bracelet that was covered in stylized Swastikas and she desperately wanted to take it off. Around the park were loud speakers on poles that blasted period music, mostly slow crackly jazz, which intermittently was cut off by the sound of a needle being taken off of a vinyl record, and a loud heavily German-accented voice would bellow out the park rules. This happened about once every twenty minutes and soon was very grating.

"YOO VILL NOT TAKE UNTA PHOTOS IN ZEE PARK, YOO VILL ENJOY YOURSELVES, ACH, YOO VILL EAT SWEETENS, UND YOO VILL HAVE UNTA GOODEN TIMEN, ACH" The voice screamed out. Nina wandered over to a section of the park called "Ceremony Walk Way" where elaborate Nazi decorations hung from high pillars along a walk way which lead to a giant stage. On the stage, big projection screens displayed old film footage of Hitler giving speeches, which would subtitled for the layman's advantage. At center stage, a large plaster life-like statue of Hitler himself, in full dress stood, pointing out towards the small crowd of obvious white supremacists that had gathered to take in the media propaganda. Nina raised her digital camera to take a shot of the scene, when from behind her, a heavy gloved hand fell on her shoulder.

"Sorry Fraulein, no photographs," the voice, which was very midwestern sounding, said from behind her. She turned and looked up at a very tall and very blond looking young man, maybe a year or two older than her, dressed in a black Nazi SS uniform. Her lower lip quivered, utterly impressed with this sight before her. "I'm going to have to take that from you," he continued, and held out his gloved hand.

"But it's a Cannon, it's a 300 dollar camera..." she said weakly, knowing there was no way she was going to win this argument.

"I don't even know how you got it through the gate, but I gotta take it from you."

"Well, can I get it back?" She asked up to his square chin. He glanced around, about fifty yards away two more, she guessed they were security guards dressed up like Storm Troopers, were watching them.

"I don't know, give me your name, and I'll put it on a slip of paper and keep it in the office here," and she gave him her name and asked where the office was. The SS man pointed towards the giant gothic-looking church at the center of the park. "Go in there and tell them that your camera got taken when you're ready to leave." She nodded dumbly and he walked off.

She wandered around some, getting more and more sick at what she was seeing. It wasn't funny anymore, especially the "It's A Perfect World After All" which was a play on the Disneyland's "It's A Small World After All" where sing-song little Aryan dolls sang about the Third Reich and eradicating those who had less than pure blood. She was ready to go.

As she made her way to the big gothic-looking church to retrieve her camera, she came across something rather peculiar for a theme park themed on such an ugly aspect of world history:

Batting Cages.

She couldn't believe it, and she wandered over to it, where mostly little boys were lined up with helmets and baseball bats. It seemed so out of place in a theme park that celebrated the existence of hatred.

Nina loved baseball, she was a rabid Royals fan, even though they were perennial cellar-dwellers. She stood in line and when she came up to the rack of bats and helmets, she took one of each and waited for a stall to open. When one did, she walked over towards it, but was stopped short by a big sweaty palm across her small chest.

"Whoa, hold on there missy, where's your gold coin?" A slow drawl spoke over her. She wasn't sure what she was most offended by, the hand lingering across her small chest or the smell coming from it's owner. She looked up and tipped back her helmet and dropped her jaw. Standing over her was Mick Gilpatrick, long time Royals catcher. What was he doing here?

"What're you doing here, Gil?" He was known by fans affectionately as 'Gil' and he had a wad of chew in his cheek as he slowly withdrew his hand from his fan's chest.

"Aw hell, they made me a deal, that if I came down here and you know, stood around, signed a few autographs, shit like that, they'd give me a hunk of change here," he leaned back and spat a long jet of black. "Now where's your gold coin?" Nina felt all the eyes in the line behind her burning holes into her body, which didn't help the fact she felt dumb for not having this gold coin on her person so she could swing the bat. What made matters worse was that one of her childhood heroes was standing over her, clearly not impressed.

"I, uh, don't have one, I didn't know I needed one," she stammered. Gil slapped a sign overhead that read, in three inch gothic letters "One Gold Coin Per Round."

"Oh," she said, her voice felt numb leaving her mouth.

"You get them over at the booth there, you ask for a gold coin, but they give you these silver ones. These are just as good," Gil said.

"So why doesn't the sign say silver coins? Why does it say gold coins if there's only silver coins?" She asked up at her hero. He looked over at the booth and rubbed his chin.

"How about an autograph then, just so you don't walk away here empty handed?" And Nina beamed, and the major leaguer avoided answering the question. This was the first thing that made her even remotely happy since walking through the big scary gates. She nodded, her eyes bright. Gil produced a Sharpie from his back pocket, and without saying a word, simply leaned down and scribbled his signature across Nina's white tank top. He pressed in hard across her breasts, even slyly cupping one to get a better surface to write on. Nina stood in shock, and before she could protest, Gil stepped back admiring his work, a black streaky scribble across this jailbait's chest. "There you go little missy, now get out of the way so we can get s'more batters in here," and dumbly Nina stepped out of the way, amid the snickers of some of the adolescent skinheads in line.

She was on the verge of tears when she finally made it to the gothic church and pushed her way through the heavy doors. This was such a bad idea, she thought to herself as she approached a big dark wood desk, a sharp looking, very serious woman in female SS dress sat behind it. Nina, in her ruined tank top and eyeliner-streaked face stood shaking a little in front of the desk, feeling tiny. The woman on the opposite side of the desk looked up at her from over her rimless and cold eye glasses.

"Vat," she said more than asked.

"Um, I was told I could pick up my camera here by a ... guy. He took it from me, and I gave him my name and he said I could, could," she swallowed hard, "get it back here. It was a very expensive Cannon Digital." The woman made a show of shuffling around paper work on her desk and then looked up at Nina.

"No camera was turned in unto us, I'm sorry," she said quickly and coldly.

"It was a three hundred dollar camera! It was a birthday present from my mom and dad!" She was getting loud and whiny, making the woman behind the desk shoot a glance to someone behind her. Nina spun around and saw two men dressed in SS garb walked towards her. Their boots clicking loudly on the stone floor, and terror struck Nina hard in the stomach.

She puked a little and it ran down her shirt, over the Gilpatrick autograph.

Nina soon found herself in a jail cell somewhere beneath the church. She was crying hysterically, scared out of her mind. The cell was cold and drafty, wet and dank, where you'd expect political prisoners of the Nazi Party to be held as they waited to be dragged out to the woods kicking and screaming before being shot in the back of the head while standing over a shallow ditch hastily dug by some Nazi underling.

After she was alone for about ten minutes she heard a whisper from behind her, she stopped sniffling and turned her head towards the sound.

"Hey," came a sharp short whisper.

"Hello?" She said in reply. The whisper shushed her and she crawled on her hands and knees towards the far wall. "Hello?" She whispered.

"Hey," the whisper came back. "I'm in the other cell,"

"Why are you here?" She asked.

"I was handing out these," and a small white pill came rolling into her cell from between the wall that separated the captives. She ducked down and tried to peek through the crack where the pill came from. There was a little light but not enough to see. She picked up the pill and looked at it.

"What is this?"

"Try it and see," the voice came back.

"No! How do I know this isn't a drug!"

"It is a drug, but try it, you'll feel better," the voice was strangely soothing. She looked at the pill with a sense of dubiousness and blew the dirt particles from it. She slipped it into her mouth and dry swallowed, coughing a little. The voice came back from the other side of the wall.

"Prepare for lift off," and before she could ask what that meant, the wall to the cell melted right before her eyes, and on the other side stood a giant toad smoking a cigarette. Suddenly Nazis marched past her on the other side of the bars to her cell, goose stepping, rifles at right shoulder arms, each one staring at her with glowing yellow eyes. It was like she was watching a very real version of Pink Floyd's "The Wall," which she'd only seen parts of with her older brother when he was home from college last year.

She couldn't taste anything, but she could smell something burning, and instantly thought it was her brain. Her head was on fire she figured, that would explain the burning sensation in her scalp. She began to wither and she fell to the floor of her cell, and around her the floor rippled like a pond and she was a pebble. She let out a scream but it came out too deep to be her voice. She felt another charge of vomit working it's way up her throat but she couldn't seem to work it past her trachea, and she committed to the idea she was going to die on the floor of this wet cold cell, choked to death on her own drug-induced vomit that was handed off to her by some racist Nazi skinhead piece of white trash.

Why had she gotten herself into this mess?

Nina woke up in a hospital room with a tube in her nose and machines surrounding her. She jumped with a start and panicked but then settled down. It was night time, the lights were off in the hallway that made up the hospital. Her mother was asleep in the chair to her right, her dad was no where to be found. On a tiny table next to her was her Cannon Digital.

Her hand felt like a thousand pounds but she manages to reach the camera and put it on her chest. She opened up the little panel on the side and dug around for the memory stick, but couldn't find it. Well, she thought, at least I got the camera back. Just then, her mother stirred and came awake.

"Nina?" She called softly.

"Momma," she replied. Her voice was weak and throat sore. She glanced over to the table and a blue cup of water with a straw sticking out of it rested there. She motioned for the cup and her mother was on her feet in a second. She handed the cup to her daughter and patted her head.

"The police brought you here," she started. "They say you were passed out along the side of a road over in Huntersville? What happened?" Nina couldn't avoid her mother's eyes and at the same moment she loathed this woman for prying into her personal hell, she had never felt more secure in her life. "You didn't try to go to that... that.. park out there, did you?" What could she do, a lie would be obvious at this point. She looked out into the hallway from her bed, took another sip of water and looked back at her mother.

"Yes," she said softly. Her mother looked absolutely horrified, but not surprised. She sat back down in her chair, which she had pulled closer to the edge of the bed.

"But why?"

"I wanted to see what it was like, I guess," Her mother simply sat looking at her.

"We won't tell your father about this, you know how upset he'd get. He'd probably march down there and set the place on fire," and to Nina, that sounded like the best solution for Hitlerland. Burn it to the ground with everyone inside. Give them a taste of their own medicine. And make sure if Mick Gilpatrick or Don Marty ran out of the flames, trying to escape Hell itself, daddy takes them out with a rifle blast to their heads. She let a slow smile spread across her face but hid it quickly when she noticed her mother looking at her funny.

"I'm ok mom," she said softly.

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