2019 RAOB Halloween Story


The Promise


Copyright: Original story, copyright 2019 by D.J. Belt

Comments: dbelt@mindspring.com

Disclaimers: No violence, no sex. Rats. Still, I think it’s worth a read. It’s a nice, short spooky story for Halloween.



Grafenwoehr, Germany. 31 October 1971. NATO military installation, about twenty miles west of the former “Iron Curtain”.


An American Army truck squealed to a stop in the approaching dusk, and a soldier wearing a helmet, a sergeant’s chevrons, and a sidearm dropped from the passenger side of the cab. He walked to the tailgate, gave a whistle and a gesture, and shouted, “Gottlieb! Front and center.”

A young soldier stepped over the tailgate and dropped to the ground. The sergeant pointed toward a distant, forlorn-looking gate, and they walked in that direction. As they did, the sergeant spoke.

“This is your post. This is your shed, and the field phone’s inside. Walk your post, and I’ll be back from time to time throughout the night to check on you. And if I catch you sleeping –”

“You won’t,” Gottlieb said. “I know better.”

“That’s not what your file said,” the Sergeant of the Guard snapped.

Gottlieb faced his sergeant as he slung his M-14 rifle over his shoulder. “You talking about that thing in Vietnam? I wasn’t sleeping, Sarge. The court-martial board cleared me – after I spent an extra month in country because of it. Let it go.”

The Sergeant of the Guard eyed him cautiously. “What I said goes. Any questions?”

“Yeah,” Gottlieb said. “What’s the challenge and password for tonight?”

“The challenge is “Witch’s”, and the password is “bloomers”.

Gottlieb snickered. “Witch’s bloomers? In honor of Halloween being tonight, huh? Jesus, what moron thought that up?”

“I did,” the sergeant answered. “You got a problem with that?”

Gottlieb shot his sergeant a good-natured grin. “Hey,” he said. “Great challenge and password. I love it.”

“Good. One more thing.” The sergeant pulled a fully loaded twenty-round magazine from his pocket. “I can’t believe we’re actually giving you live ammo,” he said, as he handed it to Gottlieb. “Lock and load.”

Gottlieb snapped the magazine into his rifle. “Live ammo? What, is there a war on around here?”

“Yeah. It’s called the Cold War, in case you haven’t ever heard of it.” The sergeant pointed East. “You guys keep forgetting that the Russians and the Czechs are only twenty miles that way.”

“Hell, Sarge. It’s been like that for twenty-five years, and we haven’t shot each other up yet.”

“There’s always a first time,” the sergeant said. “And watch out for trick-or-treaters tonight. They’re as thick as fleas over in the housing areas. There’s no telling where the little bastards will show up.”

Gottlieb laughed as he walked toward the ramshackle guard shed. “That’s what I like about you, Sarge. You got a kind word for everybody.”

“Gottlieb!” The voice barked. “Halt right there.”

Gottlieb stopped, turned around, and cast a questioning glance at the sergeant, who approached him with that ‘I’m about to mess with you’ look. “You got your General Orders card on you?”

Gottlieb pulled the card from his pocket. “Right here.”

The Sergeant of the Guard took the card and glanced down at it. Printed on it were the three General Orders that all soldiers were required to memorize.  The first order read: I will take charge of my post and quit my post only when properly relieved. He shot a hard glance at Gottlieb and asked, “What’s your first General Order?”

Gottlieb snapped to attention and recited, “I will walk my post from flank to flank and take no crap from any rank.”

The sergeant smiled despite his mood and handed the card back to Gottlieb. “That’ll do,” he said, as he walked toward the truck. “Remember: Witch’s bloomers. Oh, and fix your bayonet, Gottlieb.”

“What’s wrong with it?” Gottlieb asked, as he glanced down at his left hip. The bayonet was neatly sheathed.

“No, numb-nuts. Fix your bayonet to your rifle.”

“Oh.” He slid the rifle from his shoulder, rested the butt on the top of his boot, and clicked the bayonet onto the end of his rifle barrel. “Is this in case I get attacked by all those ferocious Czechs out there?”

“It’s orders,” the sergeant said. “The Old Man wants it that way. Remember, ‘witch’s bloomers’. Don’t freakin’ forget it, or they’ll dock you a week’s pay.” With that parting threat, the sergeant walked toward the truck.

Gottlieb watched the truck pull away, then fumbled in his pocket for a pen and his notebook. “I’d better write that down,” he muttered, as he scribbled the words on a page. “I’m already tired and I’ll be here until dawn, so I’ll forget it sure as anything.” He tore off the page and tucked it in his pocket for quick access, then wandered toward the ramshackle guard’s shack. “Guess I’d better check in.”

Inside, he found the field telephone, lifted the receiver, and ground the crank on the side of the box. After he listened for a moment, he pressed the button on the handset and said, “Hey! Anybody there?” Silence greeted him. He shifted the box and found one of the telephone wires loose. “Well, darn,” he muttered. “Just like the Army. We’ve got a million bucks worth of shit that don’t work.” He reattached the wire, ground the crank again, and said, “Hey. Post thirteen reporting in.”

A grainy voice responded. “About time, Thirteen. You’re one of the last ones to report in. What’s your malfunction?”

“I was one of the last guards deployed, and I had to fix your damn telephone. It wasn’t working.”

“Is it working now?” the voice asked.

Duh, Gottlieb thought. We’ve got some real winners in this man’s army. “What do you think?” he asked.

“It’s working, smartass. Okay. Report in if anything happens.”

“Understood. Out.” Gottlieb rested the handset on the counter and left the shack. It was almost dark, and the air had a refreshing, cool quality about it. He breathed deeply, relaxed, and adjusted the rifle sling on his shoulder until it felt comfortable. Then, he began his stroll.

The location appeared to be old warehouses or barracks of some type, now rather decayed. Train tracks cut the area but obviously hadn’t been used in some time, judging from the vegetation winding across them. A few distant lights shone down from telephone poles, lending a spooky, shadow-laden aura to the scene. Gottlieb shivered at the sight. Creepy place, he thought. He wondered what it used to be, then decided that he really didn’t want to know. Why he had to guard the place all night, he couldn’t fathom, but it was just like the Army to have him up all night walking a guard post over nothing. On Halloween, as well, he thought. Halloween, the traditional night of the dead. He remembered the tales his grandparents had told him, the spooky Bavarian stories of ghosts, vampires, and ghouls who roamed the dark, wet forests on such nights. A nearby owl’s hoot startled him from his thoughts. “Great,” he said aloud. “A forest full of critters to keep me company.” He began walking his post as he studied the buildings and the forest around him. The slow, rhythmic tread of his boots on the ground seemed to echo from the nearby buildings as he walked the perimeter of his post along a tall, ramshackle chain-link fence. Here and there, he noticed, the fence had gaps in it. “Yeah,” he said, “real secure.” He cast another glance away from the fence, toward the buildings. The walls towered silently above him, two-storied but with broken windows and damaged roofs. No sign of life echoed around him, except for the occasional sounds of animals in the woods. The gate behind him was ajar and the road into the area, past his little shed, was deserted and forlorn, sparsely lit by the distant lights or streaked in black shadows. Gottlieb shivered at the sight, then focused on performing his duty. It promised to be a long night.

On his third or fourth trip along the fence, he paused and studied the nearest building. For some reason, he felt that it invited him inside. Perhaps it was his innate curiosity calling him. He slid the rifle sling from his shoulder and held the weapon across his body as he nudged the door ajar with his boot. He stepped inside, then pulled the flashlight from his web belt and turned it on. His eyes followed the beam of white light as it danced across the floor and along the walls, but he saw nothing of interest until he focused on a sign on the wall. In German, it read, “Occupancy 120 persons”. He flashed the light’s beam around the interior of the building and studied it in more detail. “A hundred and twenty people in here?” he wondered aloud. “Doing what, for the love of God?” He walked through the room, out a far door, and found himself standing on what appeared to be an old train platform. Rusted tracks ran by the platform, then stretched into the night. As he returned through the room, he shone his light across rows of hooks, of the type upon which one might hang clothing. His flashlight’s beam hit the occupancy sign again, and he stopped in his tracks. A wave of cold emotion washed over him, and he uttered a few soft profanities under his breath as he quickened his pace. In a moment, he was outside. He turned and faced the open door as he backed away from it. He did not even realize that his rifle was pointed at the building until he backed into the chain-link fence. That broke whatever spell captivated his thoughts. He snickered nervously, then slung his rifle on his shoulder. “Man,” he said, “what’s up with me, getting spooked by an empty building? Good thing nobody else saw that, or I’d never hear the end of it from the other guys.”

The rattle of the field telephone in the guard shack caught his attention, and he trotted to the shed. When he held the phone to his ear and said, “Post Thirteen,” the voice on the other end was harsh.

“Where were you?” he asked. “I called a couple of minutes ago, and you didn’t pick up.”

“I didn’t hear it,” Gottlieb said. “I was at the far end of the fence, I guess.”

“Don’t let it happen again. If you hadn’t answered this time, I’d have had to get my butt into a jeep and come down there. And I get really irritated when that happens. Got me?”

“Got you,” Gottlieb said. “I’ll hang out closer to the shed.”

“Good. Base out.”

With a curse, Gottlieb slammed the handset down onto the base. “Jerk,” he intoned, then stepped out of the shack. He studied the building again; it seemed to beckon to him, inviting him, pleading with him to approach it. He shook off the feeling. “Freakin’ building,” he said. “What’s the matter with me, anyway?” He turned away from it, took a few steps toward the gate, and froze as he squelched a cry of shock.

He was not alone.

Two figures stood about ten feet in front of him, considering him with curious, wide eyes. He judged them to be a boy and a girl, about twelve or so years old. They were dressed oddly, not in Seventies-style clothing at all, but as people were in old family pictures he’d seen of his parents and grandparents when they’d lived in Bavaria. They huddled closely together, as if afraid of him, but fascinated with him, as well. Were they trick-or-treaters who’d gotten lost? American Army brats living on the base? Local German kids? He needed to identify them, as they were interlopers on his post. He attempted to speak, but his voice squeaked. He paused, cleared his throat, and spoke again. “Are you two lost?” he asked in English. “What are you doing out here? This area is off limits.”

The boy responded to his question with an outstretched arm. In his hand, he held two pocket-sized booklets. “Our papers,” he said in German. “Do you wish to see our identity papers?”

“What are you doing here?” Gottlieb replied, in German. “You shouldn’t be here.”

“Some soldiers brought us here,” the boy said. “And left us. We don’t know what to do.” Again, he offered the booklets. Gottlieb stepped toward him and lifted the booklets from his hand. As he perused the covers of the identity booklets, an icy cold brushed his spine and the hair seemed to bristle on his neck. The covers had the eagle of the Third Reich imprinted on the cover. He had seen shadows of the eagle perched upon a Swastika, still visible twenty-five years later on the walls of buildings from which they’d been pried at the end of the war, but this…

He flipped open the booklets and studied them, then glanced at the children. The pictures were identical to the two faces staring at him. “Stefan?” he said, then looked at the girl. “Ursula?” To both questions, he got cautious nods. He noted that the last names were identical. “Brother and sister?” he asked. Again, they nodded. “Where are your parents?” he questioned.

The siblings glanced at each other for a moment, then back at Gottlieb. The girl answered, “We don’t know.”

Gottlieb grinned. “Oh, I understand. This is a joke, huh? You’re trick-or-treating, right? I’ll bet that Sanderson sent you out here to mess with Gottlieb’s mind.” He tapped his chest to indicate himself. “Everybody knows that ol’ Gottlieb isn’t quite right in the head.” Ever since Vietnam, he silently added.

Again, the two youths glanced at each other. Gottlieb could see the question in their expressions. More, he could feel uncertainty radiate from the two interlopers. Finally, Stefan said, “We don’t know what that means.”

Gottlieb’s gut knotted in panic. “No,” he said. “Sure, you don’t.” He perused the booklets again. They seemed genuine, but such booklets hadn’t been carried for twenty-five years. He asked, “How old are you?”

“Twelve,” Stefan answered. “Ursula’s Eleven.”

“Then these aren’t your papers. Here, it’s written that your birth dates are in 1933 and 1934. That would make you and your sister, let’s see … thirty-six, thirty-seven years old now.” He studied the booklets again, then handed them back to Stefan. “Very interesting. Are these your parents’ booklets, from when they were young?”

“No. They belong to us.”

Gottlieb sighed. This was getting him nowhere. He decided to be blunt. “What do you want?” he asked.

“We want you to take us to our new home.”

“What new home?”

“Take us to our mother,” Ursula said.

“The Russians, they were coming,” Stefan explained. “We were put on a train to the west, to go to a new home. Away from the Russians, perhaps where the Americans or English were.”

“You speak German, but you have an accent,” Ursula noted. “You’re not Russian, are you?”

“No,” Gottlieb said. “American.”

“Oh, Stefan!” Ursula said. “We’ve made it.” She looked at Gottlieb. “Please, sir. Can you take us to our new home now? Can you help us find our mother?”

Gottlieb held up a finger. “Wait a minute,” he said. “Let me make a telephone call. I’ll come back in a moment.” He waited until he got nods of the head from both Ursula and Stefan, then stepped into the guard shack. He picked up the telephone handset and ground the crank. When a voice answered, he asked, “Post Thirteen. Where’s the Sergeant of the Guard?”

“Hang on,” the voice said. A second later, the sergeant’s voice answered. “Gottlieb,” he said. “You got a problem?”

“Yeah,” he answered. “Damnedest thing. I’ve got two German kids out here insisting they’re lost and wanting me to take them home.”

The sergeant’s response was profane. When he finished cursing, he said, “They’re trick-or-treaters messing with you. Kick them in the butts and send them on their way. That’s an order, Gottlieb.”

“Sarge, there’s something really weird about these kids. I think we need the German Polizei out here.”

“You’re not paid to think, Gottlieb. Get rid of them. That’s an order.”

“But Sarge –”

“Don’t make me come out there, Gottlieb. If I have to come out there, you’re going to be sorry.”

Gottlieb sighed. It was the equivalent of talking to a brick wall. “Okay, Sarge. I’ll deal with it.” The line went dead, and he stepped out of the guard shack. Ursula and Stefan were waiting, expectant looks on their faces. Gottlieb pondered the situation for a moment, then asked, “May I see those identity booklets again?” Cautiously, Stefan held them out, and Gottlieb perused them again, this time beneath the beam of his flashlight. The pictures were the spitting images of the two children in front of him, all right. The handwriting was neat and stylistic of the handwriting taught in German schools during the Nazi regime. The booklets were either totally authentic, he decided, or masterful works of forgery. These kids didn’t do this.

He considered Stefan and Ursula again. They peered up at him with large eyes, almost hopeful expressions on their faces. He studied their clothing; it was woolen, worn, patched, and of an old style. “Where was your home?” he asked, as he paged through the thin booklets.

“Hof,” Stefan said.

“And what is your mother’s name?”

“Gisela,” Ursula answered. “Gisela Engel.”

“Gisela Engel, of Hof,” Gottlieb mused. The kids had it down. The booklets said the same thing. “And your father?” he asked.

“Dead in the war, a year now,” Stefan said.

Gottlieb sighed. “I’m sorry for you.” He looked away, suddenly overcome with sadness. The building beckoned him again, and he gestured toward it. “Did you come from there?”

They looked at the building. “Yes,” Stefan said. “The train brought us all.”

“All?” Gottlieb asked. “Are there others?”

“Yes,” Ursula answered, as she pointed down the road. “See for yourself.”

Gottlieb looked in the direction she’d indicated, and he felt his chest tighten. On the road, there were vague images of children of all ages, unmoving, smoky vestiges of what once must have been human beings. They did not speak or move; they considered Gottlieb with hollow gazes. Their black eyes penetrated to his soul, it seemed with their sadness and resignation.

“What in the name of God?” Gottlieb gasped.

“They were with us,” Ursula said. “But now, they’re not. Not anymore.”

“They’re mostly girls,” Gottlieb said. “No older boys. Where are they?”

“Every boy fifteen or older has been conscripted for the army,” Stefan said. “They didn’t want me.” He looked down at his feet. “I’m too young.”

“Be glad,” Gottlieb said.

Gottlieb felt Ursula touch his sleeve. Against the olive green of his uniform, her hand appeared thin and pale, almost a ghostly white, and very cold. She peered up at him. “Please, sir. Can you find our mother for us?”

Gottlieb stared down at her for a second, then abruptly turned away. He fought to control his emotions, even as he wiped his eyes with his sleeve. When he had regained control of himself, he turned back to her. “I will try,” he said. “Is she still in Hof?”

“We don’t know,” Stefan said. “When we left, we could hear guns booming in the distance. She stayed behind.”

Gottlieb glanced down the road again. The smoky figures were fading. As he watched in astonishment, they disappeared. He started visibly at that, then looked at Stefan and Ursula. “What happened?” he asked. “Where did they go?”

“They’ve lost hope,” Stefan said. “We haven’t. We knew you’d come one day.”

“We’ll show you where we all sleep,” Ursula said. She motioned toward the now-empty road. “They said we could trust you.”

Gottlieb turned his head and listened. “It sounds like a jeep is coming,” he said. Sure enough, on the far side of the gate, two headlights lit the dirt road. “Excuse me,” he said. “I have to go to work.” He approached the gate and stood near the guard shack. The jeep halted on the other side of the gate as Gottlieb held his rifle diagonally across his body. “Halt,” he called out in English. “Who’s there?”

“Sergeant of the Guard,” came the answer.

“Advance and be recognized,” he said. As a figure approached him in the dark, he said, “Halt. Witch’s!”

“Bloomers,” came the answer. “Good for you, Gottlieb. You didn’t forget.” He stepped into the light next to the guard shack. “So, where’s these kids you were yapping on about?”

“They’re –” Gottlieb turned to point them out, and he blinked in astonishment. No one was there. “Ah, I guess they’re gone, Sarge.”

“Good, Gottlieb.” The sergeant walked back toward the jeep. Just before he seated himself in the passenger seat, he said, “You haven’t shot anybody tonight, have you, Gottlieb?”

“No, Sarge. No Russians here.”

He heard snickers from the jeep. “Good,” the sergeant said. “You seem kind of tense, Gottlieb. Relax, will you? They won’t attack in the next twelve hours.”

The jeep backed up, then executed a U-turn and sped into the darkness. After it was gone, Gottlieb released a heavy sigh and closed his eyes for a moment. He was suddenly very tired. When he opened them again, Ursula and Stefan were standing nearby, watching him. He jumped in surprise, then huffed. “Where the hell did you two go?” he asked as he slung his rifle over his shoulder.

“We hid,” Ursula said. “He seems like a bad man.”

Gottlieb snickered at that remark. “And you’re a very bright young lady.” He considered the two children for a moment, then asked, “What were you going to show me?”

“Oh, yes,” Ursula said. “Where we sleep. Come with us.” She grasped his left sleeve in one hand, Stefan’s arm in the other, and pulled them both toward the building.

“Wait,” Gottlieb said. “In the building?”

“Yes,” Ursula said. “It’s quite all right.”

The building seemed once again to reach out to Gottlieb, to call to him, to draw him toward it. It was a mournful call, a pleading call. He nodded agreement. “All right,” he said, “let’s do this.”

They walked into the building, through the room that he had previously explored, and through the far door, onto the train platform. There, they stopped. Stefan pointed. “Down there,” he said, indicating the darkness into which the train tracks led. He followed the children’s lead, dropping down onto the track and walking into the darkness. It didn’t take more than a few steps.

The remnants of burned-out train boxcars sat on the tracks. Gottlieb pulled the flashlight from his web belt and lit the wreckage. It was old and decayed, obviously never cleaned up from the last war. At Ursula’s insistent tug on his sleeve, he followed them forward. Twenty feet ahead, she stopped and pointed to a raised area of ground beside the wreckage, now overgrown with grass, moss, and vegetation. “Here,” she said, and pointed.

“What?” he said. “I don’t see –” His flashlight’s beam hit a wooden plaque, half-buried in the dirt. He knelt, brushed the dirt and leaves aside, and studied it. A stark statement in German stared back at him.

“Mass grave. Fifty-seven children. March, 1945.”

Gottlieb stood up. “What happened here?” he asked.

“We were on the train,” Stefan said. “Airplanes came. Not the big ones that rumble; the smaller ones that buzz around. We hid under the seats. There was horrible noise, then nothing else.”

“And you’ve been here ever since that time?” he asked.


“Why did you come to me?” Gottlieb asked. He looked at Stefan and Ursula for an answer, any answer that would make sense out of tonight. “Why me?”

“You believe,” Stefan said. “We can tell.”

“You’re the first one,” Ursula added. “Of all of them, you’re the first one to believe.”

“You do believe us, don’t you?” Stefan asked. “You see us, after all. You have to believe.”

Gottlieb nodded. “I believe.”

For the first time that night, both Ursula and Stefan smiled. “I knew you did,” Ursula said. “Will you find our mother for us?”

“Do you know for certain whether she’s still alive?” Gottlieb asked.

They both nodded. “We are certain.”

He held up their identity booklets. “May I have these? It will help me find her.”

“Yes. We don’t need them anymore,” Stefan said.

“God bless you, Soldier Gottlieb,” Ursula said. “We will not forget you.”

Both children disappeared. Gottlieb stood, slack-jawed, for a long time, pondering what he’d just heard and experienced. To check himself, he glanced down at the identity booklets in his hand. They were there, and they were real. He shone his flashlight beam on the wooden marker again and read it slowly, as if convincing himself that it was, indeed, real. Then, he turned and walked toward the guard shack.

God bless you, Soldier Gottlieb, Ursula had said. A sudden emotion overcame him, and he wept. After a few minutes, he withdrew his handkerchief from his pocket, wiped his face, and took several deep breaths to relax himself and regain control. He tucked the identity booklets into his chest pocket for safekeeping, then began walking his post again. In silence, he walked it for some time; for how long, he had no idea. Finally, he shone his flashlight on his wristwatch. It was shortly after three o’clock in the morning. Another four hours, and he could grab breakfast at the mess hall, some sleep, and then begin to figure out how to keep the most important promise he’d ever made to anyone in his life. In all his memory, there was only one promise he’d ever made that was as important: the one he’d made to his mother to come back to her from Vietnam. He’d kept that one. He would keep this one, too. By God, he would. Somehow.


A week later.


A ragged Volkswagen Beetle stopped in front of a small, pleasant stone house on the outskirts of Hof. As Gottlieb turned off the ignition and stepped out of the car, he noted a neighbor glance at his green license plate denoting him as a member of the American military, then study him. Gottlieb gave him a smile, a slight bow, and a greeting, and the man replied with a cautious nod. Even though Gottlieb was of German descent and spoke German, he understood all too well how the residents of this country regarded being occupied by foreign armies.

He checked his notebook, and he noted the address. This was the place. He approached the door and knocked. A few moments later, a woman in late middle age opened the door. As she wiped her hands on her apron, she studied him in puzzlement. “Yes? What are you doing here?” she asked, not unkindly.

Gottlieb was struck by her face; in it, despite the careworn marks of age, he could see Ursula and Stefan. “Frau Gisela Engel?” he asked. “My name is Franz Gottlieb.”

“Yes,” she replied. “What’s this about?”

“I found something recently that I think would be very dear to you. I wanted to return it.”

In answer to her puzzled expression, he held out the two identity booklets. She took them from his hand, opened them, and burst into tears. She wiped her face with her apron as she spoke. “Oh, I’m so sorry. Excuse me, please, for crying so.” She looked up at him. “Where did you find these?”

“It’s a long story,” Gottlieb said.

“How – how did you find me?”

“The German Polizei were very helpful,” he said.

She remembered herself and stood aside. “Come in, please. I’ve just made some hot tea. We can talk.”

“I’m not disturbing you, Frau Engel?”

“Never!” As he entered, she said, “You speak rather good German, for an American soldier.”

“My parents and grandparents are German.”

She eyed his American army uniform. “And what happened to you?”

He laughed at that. “I’m still trying to figure that one out.”

“Well, no one’s perfect. Come, sit at the table. I so want to hear this story.”

“It’s a fantastic one. You might not believe it.”

She studied him for a second. “I’ve seen a lot in my years. War. Peace. Family. Loneliness.” She smiled, a sad smile. “You have too, have you not?” She indicated the ribbons over his left chest pocket, but she could see it, as well, in his eyes. She seated herself next to him at the little kitchen table and poured two cups of tea. “I think about them every day, you know.” She glanced up at him. “Ursula and Stefan. My husband, as well. How I miss them.” She sipped her tea. “I hid in my basement, you know, for three weeks as the Russians came through here. I almost starved. They didn’t find me, thank God. Then they left, and the Americans came. I searched for my children after the war, but no one knew anything.” She fell silent for a moment, then said, “Tell me this story. Do not fear; from you, I’ll believe it.” She mused, “These booklets, they bring my children alive. It seems now that they are almost beside me again, that I can feel them near.”

Gottlieb sipped his tea as he considered her expression. His gaze wandered from her face to the living room, behind her. In the doorway, Ursula and Stefan stood.

Gottlieb said nothing for the moment. He smiled, sipped his tea, then said only, “I understand.”

The End.

--djb, October 2019.

Bard's Page

Back to the Halloween Special

Back to the Academy