The original draft was written on a mechanical typewriter, and sat on the floor of my bedroom until the dog peed on a corner of it. It was an attempt to rewrite the original as a novel, but I never made it that far. Think of this as the beginning of a would-be prequel. I also seem to have been under the impression that, since novels were longer than short stories, they had to contain more padding. All spellings, punctuation, capitalizations, etc. are as in the original.
The origin of The Messiah, let alone his powers, is still uncertain. Before the Great Escape of 1943, The Messiah was virtually unknown and unheard of. But afterwards, The Messiah had hundreds of thousands of "followers" from all walks of life, each hoping to learn and master his powers within five minutes and then never see him again. I suppose a lot of people are like that.
The key to the enterprise had to be the fabled Powerbelt, an item which The Messiah continually spoke of, yet never showed in public. He always claimed that this 'belt did something-or-other to his brain, allowing him to become The Messiah he was then. And yet, no one knew precisely what this belt did, or how it was made (except The Messiah, of course).
The Messiah's power, as you may or may not have already guessed, resided solely in his mental abilities. No, not as a scientific genius or human computer, but in the form of, essentially, psychic powers. The simple concepts of extrasensory perception were left far behind The Messiah; he was a user of some of the strongest mental forces known, from changing others thoughts all the way up to moving mountains (or at least hills).
In order that The Messiah's fame be justified, as he is usually very humble, a detailed description of the Great Escape of 1943 must be shown. The accounts mentioned here are only from the survivors of the incident. The Messiah was not available.
The day was March 22, 1943. A Monday. No one was certain what prompted The Messiah's journey to Poland that day, yet most say he had a great desire to release some prisoners of the Nazis.
Well, whatever the reason, the Messiah had come to a small airport in New York to "hi-jack" a transatlantic airplane. A DC-3. And if it wasn't transatlantic at the time, The Messiah would surely remedy that.
He had no luggage, but something with about six pointed edges was bulging in one of his pockets. Ignoring the words of any and all flight guards, he rushed boldly through the terminal, out onto the airstrip, and finally up the steps of a Northeast Airlines' DC-3. As he opened the door, he was greeted by a stocky pilot armed with a flare gun. How about that? The same item that can signal your position and thus save your life could also be used to take the life of someone else! I suppose all things are like that, in a way.
"Hold it there, buster!" The pilot had an Irish accent. "You'll not be gettin' by me that easily!"
The Messiah thought: "Hmph! That's what he thinks!" He raised his right arm, palm facing the pilot, and began his form of relaxed concentration.
The pilot immediately laxed his grip on the flare gun, and it tumbled to the ground below, both ruining it and setting off its one flare harmlessly down the taxiway. In added effect, by the will of The Messiah, the pilot said, "Welcome aboard, sir."
Isn't that just like everyone? Always wanting to put their own personal touch on everything. I guess that means The Messiah is human too.
And yet another important human quality is getting back to the business at hand. Which is precisely what The Messiah did. Wasting no additional time, he stepped through the entryway, entering the plane's fuselage. In practically no time, he had found a seat (a window seat, of course), and sat down.
The pilot was a good man at "Following Orders," as The Messiah called it. Already he had removed the steps from the airlock door, and had begun to close it. After he had done so, and The Messiah had made certain it was secure, the pilot was commanded into the flight control cabin.
"Take this plane to Poland," The Messiah announced aloud.
Immediately, the high-pitched whistle of the engines starting sounded throughout the plane. As usual, the whistle dropped in pitch quite rapidly, as does the cry of some birds. Then came the chunk-chunk of the starboard engine's propeller blades just beginning to turn. In practically no time, the engine was up to its full speed idle.
Then another whistle, equally as high as the first, and dropping in pitch equally as fast as the first. The port engine was starting. This made the Messiah think on an interesting subject: the terms left wing and right wing. He had envisioned these terms before; they would come into play in the mid-1960's. But now they could be used equally well for meaning which side of an airplane.
And if these terms could change so drastically in both connotation and strength, think of what could happen to a term that litterally meant "Happy." It was not a gay subject to think on.
And then, the final blow — when "Bad" comes to mean "Good."
The future held a lot of problems, yes — but as The Messiah had told himself, and a few others, "The future may never come. The present is already here." And so, the present it was.
All the thinking he had just done happened in the blink of an eye — he had trained himself to think that quickly. However, the blink of an eye was just enough time to release the brakes. The DC-3 was already edging forward, weighted down by a mere 150-pound cargo. Soon, it would be off to the land of Polish sausage.
And what would the people in the control tower be thinking? A DC-3 taking of with no booked passengers off schedule? And what of those poor soles waiting for that flight? According to The Messiah's always-accurate prediction, this was a flight to beautiful, sunny Mexico. At least that's what it was called in the travel brochures. At that very moment, it was probably pouring rain in Mexico City.
And, lastly, the big crowd of people gathered at a large picture window overlooking the airport runway. They were probably saying: "Why isn't the pilot doing anything?" "Why would anyone willingly take an unarmed man to a foreign country simply because he asked him to?" "Could he have done anything to the pilot?" "Nice day for flying, isn't it?"
The plane picked up speed. It was beginning to turn off of the taxiway and onto the main runway. As always, the shock absorbers on the wheel weren't worth their weight in lead, and every bump on the road carried through to pilot and passenger alike. But this was an airplane; in a car, a ride like this would be unbearable, but the feel was only for now. Within a few minutes, possibly less, the DC-3 would be completely disjoint from the Earth's surface.
Now, at last, they were on the runway, and cleared for takeoff by The Messiah. But there was something strange about this takeoff; something that seemed unusual.
Of course — the plane wasn't accelerating. And why not? The Messiah had given specific instructions to the pilot to "take off." And yet, nothing happened. The Messiah dug deeply into the thought patterns of the pilot. Why wasn't he responding to the orders?
There — the center of the problem. A trained mind. He had convinced himself that the throttle control was actually not the throttle control, but the self-destruct mecanism. Ingenious! The Messiah could never command anyone through that type of mental blockade. He would have to speed the plane up himself.
He focused his attention on the throttle control, and laxated his mind, thinking only of "up ... up." The control creeked, jolted a quarter of an inch, then crept upward until it was resting at the setting marked "takeoff." The engine pitch raised by a full half an octave, the DC-3 accelerated down the runway.
The Messiah quickly resumed mental command over the still-dazed pilot. Closing his eyes, The Messiah could "see" everything before himself on the one-mile stretch of runway ahead — all at once. No traffic whatsoever. The takeoff would go more smoothly than The Messiah had expected; he was never very good at clairvoyance.
They say everyone has at least one fault. Lack of clairvoyance was obviously The Messiah's one fault. Although most scientists claimed that clairvoyance couldn't exist, that it broke the laws of physics, The Messiah knew this wasn't true, for he could sometimes receive brief flashes from the future. The only problem was that he couldn't just flash on his own; they usually came when least expected and least wanted.
The airspeed had reached a hundred mph; more than enough to take off with. The pilot gently eased back on the joystick, and the rumbling from the fron wheels ceased. They were half off the ground.
The angle of elevation for this takeoff was thirty degrees, or a mild uphill slant. As the DC-3 was completely in line with this angle, the rear wheel was off the ground in no time. The crew and passenger were completely airborne.
The loud roar of the engines dulled considerably once they were clear of the runway and no sound was being echoed back to them from the ground. They began to gain some altitude... one hundred feet, three hundred, a thousand. Nothing could stop The Messiah now.
The Messiah looked out of his window for the fiftieth time that hour. Yes, the Atlantic Ocean was still there. And so was the wing. The engine was still spinning the propeller at its usual faster-than-eye pace, spewing out minimal traces of partially visible exhaust. With a quick mental picture, he took a fuel reading. The DC-3 had more than enough fuel to cross the Atlantic.
There was one more subconscious mental "check" he had to make. He reached over to his front pocket. The bulge was, of course still there; not that it would've left or ceased existence in the form of matter. That bulge was the second most important thing he had to take across the Atlantic.
The most important object of this mission was the DC-3 itself. The Messiah had long before mastered the art of sustained high-speed flight; he could've crossed the Atlantic without it easily. Yet it had a vital purpose, and without it the crossing would be completely futile and pointless.
It was going to be a long flight, since the cruising speed of a DC-3 is only 240 miles per hour. The Messiah decided to recline in the seat designed for such a function, and read one of the magazines from the slot in front of him.
To his expected dissatisfaction, all the magazines were DC-3 ads. One was a diagram of the emergency exits on the plane, one was a two-page ad for the airline, and one — and this is really bizzare — was the schematic diagram of the engine metering system. There were a few others, but nothing worth mentioning at the time.
(By the way, if you're wondering how I know all this just from witnesses' heresay, I'll tell you right now that he had a few people as his friends, to whom he did devulge some of these occurences. And these people were just as willing to devulge them to me. However, I have no intention of devulging these names. Yet.)
Everything was going smoothly. What else could he do? He leaned back in his seat, and soon fell asleep.
When he awoke, he was already flying over France. As he had expected, he was nowhere near the Eiffel Tower. The chances of a particular landmark being along his flight path, let alone there at the same instant he woke up, were smaller than anyone bothered to conceive.
However, it would have been nice to do some sightseeing during that mission of mercy. But there were more important things on The Messiah's mind right now. Such as the fuel reading.
With a quick mental strobe of all the little gauges in the flight cabin, he came across the fuel meter. The reading it gave was not a relieving one. At most, it would propell the DC-3 half way into Germany, which I don't have to tell you was not a very good place for an American plane to be during the second world war.
The wait wouldn't be a long one; an hour at most. Then the DC-3 would become, essentially, a glider. This would make any ordinary human throw in the towel, but The Messiah was hardly ordinary. He wanted to save as much fuel as possible (power for a second take-off), so he put his mind to work on his secondary plan.
He focused his mind on three things simoultaneously: the spinning propellers, the fuel lines, and the annoyingly accurate gauges in the control cabin. He put forth his will, and the fuel lines abruptly ceased their deliverance. The engines, however, did not slow down in the least, nor did the instruments fluctuate from their current setting. The Messiah was now the plane's silent engine.
Two hours passed. Even though the DC-3 should've run out of fuel an hour before, the fuel gauge remained rock steady at a small fraction of "full". And this gauge was not lying, as were so many others.
They were directly above Posnan, a garrisoned Polish town. With a quick mental command, the pilot quietly brought the plane out of its cruising mode, and into a virtual power dive. Command over the engines would be to intricate for The Messiah to command at the time; he opened the fuel lines, restored truth to the instruments (so the pilote couldn't try the same trick he'd tried before they took off), and let the engines spin on their own. The plane was once again in control of itself.
Almost instantly, the engines changed their speed. The pilot knew more about what he was doing than did The Messiah controlling him.
The DC-3 banked sharply so that it could intersect a large, barren strip of land heading straight into what was apparently a populated section of the city. Once more, the engines slowed, only this time accompanied by the outcropping of front-wing spoilers. The front of the plane tilted upward by a few degrees, and once again the engine slowed.
A small whirrrr came from the underbelly of the plane. Obviously the landing gear being lowered, since that particular switch had just been flipped by the pilot. And once more, the engines slowed.
They were quickly eating up the altitude. Less than five hundred feet remained.... four hundred ... two hundred ... one hundred ... fifty, et cetera. And finally came the "skreek" of the tiny rear wheel touching the ground at almost a hundred miles per hour.
This sound was soon followed by the louder echo of the front two wheels, both much larger than the rear one. Engine power was cut completely as brakes were applied. All they had to do was coast to a stop.
As soon as the DC-3 came to a complete stop, The Messiah removed all control from the pilot, who immediately lept from his seat and dove for the door. With the flash of a few handles, he had it open, and had made the entire jump from the elevated cabin to the ground far below. The Messiah knew the jump didn't kill him, for he heard the unmistakable sound of a man scrambling to his feet and dashing away with probable panic.
The place he had landed was about half a mile from the city, where Nazis would probably never scout, yet The Messiah had to be certain the plane wasn't discovered. As he made the virtually effortless leap from cabin to ground, aided by his mind generating a little anti-gravity, he put a weak mental cloak over the entire DC-3. This prevented it from being seen, but it could easily be felt by any passers-by. And, possibly worse, the mental cloak would be instantly deactivated once it was touched by solid matter, even if it were only a bird flying into it.
Although a stronger mental shield would have prevented its dissipation and/or ability to be felt, the weak cloak required less energy to create or sustain. And even as The Messiah looked back toward the object he had just devisualized, he knew that, although he could see nothing, it would inevitably be brought back to view.
He looked out along the road he would soon be walking. Although the town at the other end looked completely deserted, his mental eye could see numerous SS soldiers patroling the area; Nazis of the Third Reich. His plan was working perfectly.
He lept high into the air, about thirty feet, using no mental power at all. Body control was another big thing of The Messiah's. When his mental concentration came in was when he remained in the air, and started accelerating forward. He was going to fly the first eight hundred yards or so.
Then, so as not to attract the attention of his special powers to the Nazis, he came to the ground and walked the rest of the distance. None had seen him ... yet.
He took a stand just on the edge of the town. The patrol of SS men was certain to take notice of him from this close range, but he wanted to be sure. Focusing on a three-pound rock near his feet, he hurled it into the patrol with a little mental levitation. That made a few heads turn.
Two of the SS men began running in approach of The Messiah, probably by orders from their superior officers. The Messiah didn't even budge at the miniature onslaught, for everything was going according to his plan. When the guards were about twenty feet away, they stopped, and raised their guns to be ready at an instant's notice.
"Who are you?!?" one of them asked with a heavy German accent. "What are you doing here?!!?"
The Messiah said nothing. Instead, he reached into his front pocket, and producted the bulge I have spoke of so much. It was of highly polished chrome-plated steel, and reflected the sunlight back into the eyes of the Germans sharply. The image it burned on their retinas was that of a skeleton six-pointed star; a Jewish Star of David.
The Germans immediately raised their guns to a firing position, fingers unresting on the triggers. Suddenly, The Messiah shot his left hand forward, attacking their ego with a stinging wave of mind power.
"Hold it!" The Messiah commanded.
The Germans lowered their guns.
"You don't have to shoot me, do you? Of course not! Why not just take me as a prisoner to one of your concentration camps? I'm sure they'd know what to do with me there."
The SS men turned to each other, and began conversing in what was apparently German. The Messiah didn't understand what they were saying, and didn't intend to find out, either. After all, in order to psychicly "translate", he'd have to actually decode the high-speed binary messages of their brains, which was an extremely complicated and tiring process.
And it was probably just as well. The Messiah had commanded them to do his bidding, and they weren't likely to back down. Command of one's brain is command of oneself.
The two half strode, half marched over to The Messiah, grabbed him firmly by the arms, spun him some 110 degrees to the right, and marched forward. About a fifth of a mile ahead was the camouflage-green truck that would carry him to the nearest concentration camp.
The SS men said practically nothing on the way to the concentration camp, being under firm control of The Messiah. Nor did any of the other omnipresent guards, as he was being hauled away to one of the largest concentration camps in the vecinity. The driver of the truck could've never gotten a word in edge-on, since he wasn't only under the influence of psychic powers, but had to keep all of his eyes fixed on the randomly changing roadway before him.
The concentration camp looked like most do in Germany ("Welcome to wonderful Killerland"), and didn't seem too large at first. But as The Messiah was driven into full view of the place, its normality diminished. The place was huge! It appeared to be large enough to house almost a thousand prisoners of war. But then, what can you expect? This was Poland, land of the Nazi regime; anyone in the surrounding area who was not of Ayrian descent was either brought to one of the concentration camps, or shot.
The green truck came as close to the camp as it had to before beginning to traverse along its exterior walls. It seemed evident that this was one of the concentration camps with the prisoners' entrance in the rear. This would have very little effect on The Messiah's plans, yet it still had to be accounted for.
Finally, the truck reached the rear entrance. It stopped abruptly, accompanied by that high-pitched squeal which indicated the need to replace the brakes. Since the truck wouldn't be needed for a little while, the engine was shut off to save a little fuel which was quite abundant at the time. The German soldiers exited the driver's cab, and went around to the rear to transfer their prisoner of war from one enclosed prison to another.
As the SS men had expected, The Messiah was still there. He was sitting up erect, and if there was any expression on his face at all, it was a smirk. The soldiers didn't pay heed to this, of course, but simply grabbed his arms and heaved him out of the truck. Everything was running smoothly.
He was taken to the front of the rear entrance, where two burly Germans, both probably in their fourties, interrogated him with the usual questions.
"Name?" one of them asked.
The two of them gathered around a hard bound book labeled, "German to English and vice-versa." After about a minute of careful searching, they disbanded and regrouped about The Messiah.
"Messiah isn't a name," the first one said, "Messiah is a word. And you certainly can't be what that word describes! Now," — he pulled out a gun — "What is your name?!!"
"You shouldn't play with guns," The Messiah said as he took temporary control of the interrogator's central nervous system, "They could hurt someone."
The Messiah released his control as soon as the gun was replaced in its holster.
"Now then," The Messiah continued, "My name is The Messiah. That's all you're ever going to know, that's all you'll need to know. You'll consider yourself lucky when you realize you've met someone who'll go down in history books."
The interrogator shook his head in the fashion of, "Ho boy, another tough one." He pulled out a pre-marked file card, and wrote out "Messiah, The" under the heading of "Namen;" Afterwhich he looked back up at The Messiah, and continued.
"Rank?" he asked.
He quickly scrawled this down. "Country?"
The interrogator nodded and grinned as he wrote this information down, then continued with a straight expression. "Religion?"
He looked down to the highly polished star of David he still held in his left hand. "Uh, you might say I'm ... er ... Jewish, since I'm holding a Star of David. But don't be too sure."
This time, the interrogator shook his head slowly as he wrote this information on the card. The Messiah read his mind as saying, "You bet I'm not too sure. Nobody in the U.S. is a Jew nowadays. I suppose it's out of style."
The interrogator grabbed the card in his right hand, the pen he was using in his left, and stood up. Using his arm, and without saying a word, he got a hold of The Messiah's right elbow and dragged him further toward the inside of the concentration camp.
They ended up in a rather small chamber in which about five people were sitting, each armed with some odd make of stylus. A quick glance into their minds revealed what they were. These people were professional tatooists for the Third Reich, although apparently no too artistically inclined.
The Messiah was seated near the one closest to the entrance. The tatooist took full hold of The Messiah's left arm, and placed it near his chest for viewing purposes. First, taking an object that appeared to be a razor, he sheared off most of The Messiah's arm hair. Now he was ready to go to work.
Using the stylus, the tatooist made a few slow and painful blue marks near The Messiah's elbow. The marks conformed to the number one. Following this, the tatooist scribed five more digits on his arm which no one at the time cared to remember. The Messiah had just been branded, like cattle, with an I.D. number.
The interrogator reclaimed The Messiah, bringing him to a standing position. As usual, The Messiah showed no resistance, which the interrogator pretended not to notice. He dragged him out of the tatooing chamber and back into the main hall which obviously led to the interior "housing" quarters of the concentration camp. That was going to be perfect.
At last, the great hall ended. As he gazed into the large concentration chamber, he tried desperately to suppress a look of sheer horror. Never before had he seen such maltreatment of his own species for such stupid reasons; reasons like, "Their hair is not blond" and "They're Jewish — isn't that bad enough?". The Messiah had thought about probing the minds of the various guards previous to this so that some of the direct shock would've been relieved, but it was better this way. Now his plan had more cause and meaning.
But no matter how badly everything may look, he had to play this thing out carefully. Continuing with his plan, The Messiah placed an artificial smirk on his face and strode gallantly into the chamber. This was going to be his home for a little while — a very little while.
It must have seemed odd — no, phenomenal — to see anyone stride into a Nazi death camp with such a look of pleasure and pride about him, let alone smirking. And the words he said, those were the strangest parts of all: "Oh, no! You're not going to drive me crazy in a place like this! No sir, I know my way around that!"
The interrogator led him down the final leg of his journey to one area in a small room. The rooms were not jail cells; the Germans were too cheap to afford bars and locks. Instead, the jail cell was one vast chamber, dividing off into secluded areas which would be home for the prisoners.
The Messiah's plan was turning out beautifully.
The Messiah was letting himself go in a sort of half-dreamlike state, neither completely asleep nor completely awake. He was letting his mind transgress over the perfect fulfillment of the first half of his plan, remembering most of it from start to finish. His mind was completely at ease until he remembered the weak shields he had put over the DC-3. Was the shield still there? And if it had been deactivated, had anyone seen the plane? Quickly, he sent out a sort of psychic seeker, looking in the direction he had come from. When he came to where he had left the plane, he was relieved to see the scintillating glow still surrounding its hull; although the plane was invisible to normal eyesight, psychic vision was another matter. In his mind's eye, the sight shield only made the DC-3 more visible.
While The Messiah was in the "psychic search" mode, he had failed to notice the arrival of his new cellmate. He had fair skin, brown hair, blue eyes, but The Messiah was not quite certain of his nationality. A quick mind reading confirmed what he had suspected: he was from the United States. How and why he was captured were unclear at the first mental glance, but his name stood out boldly: Eric Reekor.
No point in sustaining this any longer; The Messiah had to get to know this guy. "So," he said, beginning a conversation, "You're Eric Reekor."
"Yeah, that's right," said Eric in good American English. "...Hey, how'd you know my name?"
"Oh, I have my ways. Never mind that now, anyway. How'd you get here."
"Aah, it's a long story. But somehow, they think I'm a jew."
"You too? That's how I got in here!" The Messiah reached into his front pocket, only to discover that his Star of David was missing. How could he have been feeble-minded enough to let the SS men have it, let alone reach into his pocket for it?!
"Say," began Eric, "I didn't catch your name...."
"Oh, well, my name's Th—" A chill came over him. Should he let him know his real name now? He knew what devastating effects could come from the name's implications. He decided against it.: "You'll discover my name in due time. For now, just remember me as your cellmate. Or, if you prefer, you can remember me by the number on my arm."
The Messiah displayed the six-didgit number to Eric, who replied with a simple, "Uh — no thanks."
And then came the occurence that would set his plan into action. Four armed German guards came into the room, marching some forty or fifty prisoners of war in front of them. They were being marched across the vast, multicellular room to a large, metal door at the back. The door was labeled with the word "showers," but The Messiah wanted to check this to be certain. Closing his eyes, and letting his psychic vision go far beyond the normal "visible" light spectrum, he obtained a hard-X-ray picture of what was inside that room: shower heads.
So it was a shower. Yet, something didn't seem quite right in this situation. Why more than forty people in the showers at one time, fully clothed, and in the middle of the day? The big, metal, air-sealed door also held some question. But there was something else wrong, something else in the design of the shower room that The Messiah couldn't quite place.
One of the four armed Germans turned the circular handle that dominated the metal door, and let the door swing open, revealing the naked shower room inside. The Messiah looked once more into the X-ray spectrum, eyes still closed, so that he might reveal something new about this room. There — of all the things, the shower heads were poorly designed, at least with respect to water pipes. Those pipes weren't designed to carry liquids, they were designed to carry .... Suddenly, the whole idea fell into place.
"That isn't a shower room," said The Messiah, softly at first, then growing in intensity; "That's a gas chamber!"
The Messiah promptly took to his feet over the uncomprehending stare of Eric. He raised his right arm in the air, with his open palm both before and slightly angled upward from him. And with this, he yelled, "Hold!"
As the crowd froze staring at him, he announced in a voice only slightly softer than before, "Stay back from there! All forty of you ... or how ever many there are. These four men aren't going to have you cleaned, they're going to have you gassed! If you go in there, you may never come out!"
Two of the SS men were shocked by the truth of this remark, so much so that The Messiah needed to put forth hardly any mental energy to hold them fast. The other two, however, were beginning to shoulder and cock their rifles. That problem would be remedied easily.
The Messiah took the vertically pointing fingers of his right hand and pointed them at the two attackers. With only a slight stiffening of the muscles in his arm, he sent a wave of muscle contortion off to both SS men, giving them severe cramps. They had to pull themselves into little, tight balls and release their weapons to satisfy The Messiah's control.
"Don't ask me how I do it," said The Messiah with his fingers still pointed at the two SS men, and beginning to include the other two. "I have looked into the pipes of the shower room opened before you, and I have discovered their true purpose. They are made to transport gasses, not liquids. In fact ..."
The Messiah quickly scanned the pipes for any lingering gasses. There was the usual Nitrogen-Oxygen combination that made up the atmosphere, but still lingering in one catch pocket was just what The Messiah had expected.
He continued. "... In fact, it's poisonous gas. Haven't you been wondering about the people who enter that place but are never seen coming out?"
The Messiah took this time to read the minds of those who had been listening to him. Most of them were thinking the same thing: 'You know, he's right; I've never seen anyone come out of that place. I thought they had something like a rear door.' But there were others who were thinking something entirely different: 'Who is this guy?'
"Who am I?" The Messiah announced, answering the untold question. "I'm the one who's going to save you people from this hellish place. Just call me 'The Messiah.'"
"Wait a minute!" said a sudden outburst from The Messiah's old room. It was Eric Reekor. "Just how are you gonna get us out of here?!?"
"With your cooperation, and my ... powers." The Messiah relaxed his expression, allowing him to control a more powerful force than simple neurons. Slowly, the four Germans he had under control lifted from the ground and hung motionless in the air. Almost everyone in the crowd was awed.
"... And that's only scraping the surface of my mental control. I can control SIGHT!"
And as he said this, he flicked the fingers of his right hand, bringing a blinding flash of darkness upon the complex. He allowed the return of normal lighting ten seconds later.
"I can control SOUND!"
Bringing his left hand into the air, and waving both hands away from each other in a curtain-opening fashion, The Messiah silenced the room completely. The silence seemed more total and absolute than any other silence that had been presented to the inhabitants of the room. It was as if they had all gone deaf. But then the sound returned....
"I can control touch, smell, and taste!"
The prisoners of war thought their bodies to go wild. They were tingling all over; they had a terrible, dirty taste in their mouths; and their noses convinced them that the entire area reeked of something every time they inhaled. But the sensations didn't last long....
"I can control forces beyond your understanding. No ordinary human can match them, let alone overcome them."
The Messiah once more focused his attention on the SS men he had under anti-gravitational forces. With the use of some relatively feeble telekinesis, he caused them to move into the gas chamber still open behind them. Just as he released control over them, he shut the large metal door and turned the locking handle. They were stuck in there, probably for good.
"Take their guns, someone. We'll need to arm ourselves for tomorrow's escape."
As four people approached and retrieved the semi-automatic rifles, a cry came from one of the people in the crowd: "Well, why don't you finish them off?!?" He was, of course, referring to the Germans in the gas chamber.
"I want to get through this while killing as few people as possible. They might be Germans, but they have as much a right to live as you have."
The Messiah looked back over his shoulder. As he had expected, someone had closed the door to the outer hall, probably by his influence. But by whatever reason, he was certain that absolutely no one outside the chamber had seen or heard any of this. The Messiah's plan was safe.
Spmething caught the corner of The Messiah's eye. As he turned, he saw the reason for the optical disturbance was Eric Reekor assuming a standing position. And then, Eric spoke words which no atheist on this world would say: "You're ... you're a god!"
'He thinks I'm a god,' The Messiah thought. 'How can I possibly tell him that I'm agnostic?'
"My dear Eric Reekor," he began, "A god can control the entire universe, and maybe even some universes beyond our own. A god is all-powerful; nothing can succomb to his, or her, or its whim. I am but a human being; I can only use the few pounds of neurons in my brain to control or guide the other, more powerful energies of the universe. I am but a very powerful psychic."
'There,' he thought. 'I've neither supported nor rejected the existence of God. I hope I'm safe.'
"Say," asked Eric, "Just out of curiosity, if we get out of here, where are we going?"
"Where else?" came the rhetorical reply. "The United States of America."
One prisoner of war, obviously of Polish descent, gave The Messiah an inquisitive look. "If it is all right," he said in poor English, "I would like to stay here in Poland and fight for my country."
"And so do I!" came a call from the back of the room.
'They want to stay in Poland,' thought The Messiah. 'That means they won't need to go on board the DC-3. I wonder ...'
"Okay, let's see a show of hands. How many want to stay in Poland?"
Eighty-nine hands quickly shot into the air, the exact number being calculated by The Messiah's speed-counting. In the entire chamber, there were precisely one hundred prisoners of war. There were ten chambers like this in the entire concentration camp, altogether housing some one thousand Jews and Poles. The total capacity of the DC-3 was one hundred, if they were lying down and stacked three or four layers thick (in comas, essentially). That meant that if nine-tenths of the concentration camp wanted to stay in Poland, that left only about a hundred wanting passage back to the U.S.; exactly few enough to fill up the DC-3. The Messiah's original plan was to rescue no more than about a hundred of the war prisoners, or the contents of the chamber he was standing in. Now, it would be able to go far beyond that....
"That many of you, eh?" exclaimed The Messiah, trying to keep his enthusiastic excitement to a minimum. "Okay, we're getting out of here tomorrow. That would be ... March 24th, on Wednesday. But we alone won't be escaping; I'm gonna free this whole concentration camp, all ten chambers.... Including the five containing the female prisoners! In other words, we're getting out of here together, with about ten times the fighting force of just one chamber. And what's more, we'll be doing all this in complete secrecy! Now then, I strongly suggest we all get a good night's sleep, but if any of you know other people from different parts of the concentration camp and can get in touch with them, be certain to let them know of me and my escape plan. The more that know, the better off we'll be. But no word of this to the German guards! This is going to be carried out with the least amount of violence. Now, since it's so late in the day, let's all turn in."
There were none there who didn't agree with his last suggestion. Since all available guards were outside the room, there was no one to push them around as they lay down in their individual cells for some much needed sleep. As The Messiah laid down in his bunk, he decided to probe the mind of Eric just before he went to sleep. 'How is he going to take us to America?' his thoughts asked. 'AAAh, what am I worried about. He's a god!' Eric still couldn't get the idea of The Messiah's godliness out of his head!
The Messiah was the only one who didn't sleep well that night.
The Messiah woke up the earliest that dat. Everyone in the chamber, except him, was quite confident that this day would be glorious, and thus felt no need for nervousness or early-awakening. He, however, was completely worried about what was to come next. He hadn't the power of clairvoyance, for practical purposes, anyway; nor had he the power of even precognition, except in the normal "plan ahead" form of high intelligence. Yet no matter what happened, this day would be almost destined to go down in history as the Greatest One-Man-Led Escape.
The sun was not yet up this early in the morning, but the glow of the approaching dawn was sufficient for The Messiah to see by without the use of his mind's eye. His first order of business was to wake everyone up so that they could get an early start over the day's normal shift of guards. And since he was the closest, the first person he woke up was Eric Reekor, his cellmate.
Eric was a little restive to the arousement at first, but as he gained consciousness the memory of what was going to happen that day came back to him. "All right!" he exclaimed in a whisper. "We're finally getting out of here! So tell me, what happens next?"
"We wake everyone up.... But silently!"
The Messiah quickly left Eric's side to awaken everyone else. He could have just done a "mental alarm clock," but he wanted to be certain no German guards were accidentally aroused by being within its reception range. Henceforth, he had to awaken everyone by manual methods.
As he shook and whispered, "Get up!" in three different languages, The Messiah told each person to silently help him wake up everyone else. Soon, the entire populus of the chamber was awake and moving about.
"Okay, everybody," The Messiah began, "The first thing we have to do is sneak out of here through the front door. I know it sounds risky, but they usually station only five or six guards outside one complex; most of the guards are out patrolling the perimiter of the place. Now then, although there are only five or six keeping us from the outside, they will all be armed, probably with semi-automatic rifles. I'll knock them down or stun them or something, then some of you take what armament they have — just in case.
"Once we're outside, we'll have to stay low. I'll distract the guards as best I can, probably taking them to the other side of the concentration camp, while you stay under cover. Then I'll go to various other concentration chambers and get everyone else out who has been forewarned. You have forewarned them, haven't you?"
A large number of nods and "yes"-type moans came from the chamber. However, several people seemed as if they didn't understand what was going on, all of whom looked Polish.
"Anyone here who can translate English to Polish, kindly do so for the benefit of the present Polish population."
Eric promptly stepped up to where The Messiah was standing (which was on top of an old wooden bench) and proceeded to translate everything The Messiah had said into Polish. The Messiah telepathized to him immediately afterward, 'I didn't know you could speak Polish, Eric!' The Messiah hadn't bothered to read that far into his mind.
Eric had no idea of how to contemplate telepathy, so to him the message The Messiah had sent couldn't be discerned from one of his own thoughts. However, his mind was quick to reply, 'I had to know Polish before I came here on vacation. That's when the German raid hit, and all transportation out was stopped. How they thought I was a Jew is beyond me.'
The Messiah continued, having each sentence translated into Polish by Eric as he said it. "As I go around to various chambers, releasing the people, I'll have them group up with you guys. In addition, since I'll be going clockwise around the place, I'll have to command those 150 SS men to keep just ahead of me. Therefore, they might catch up with you, so I'll tell someone mentally — probably Eric, since I know his mind so well — exactly when to move your group all the way around to the next wall of this place.
"Finally, when we're all assembled, we'll make a break for it. We'll have to move very quickly, since at that time I'll have to release control of the 150 Germans guarding the place. I'll try to throw a temporary sheet of invisibility over all one thousand of us, but I'll only be able to keep it up 'til we reach the entrance to this land — or in this case, the exit. By then, we'll be far enough away for it not to matter.
"Form there, we walk ..." The Messiah did some quick mental calculations, along with a few psychic visions, and continued, "... ten miles due west. I know it's a long distance, but I know you'd walk three times that to get out of this hellish place. Anyway, we'll arrive at an old, abandoned, garrisoned town, guarded by only a few nazis. Those will be easy. From there, whoever wants to stay in Europe and either fight or go home can continue on, while the ones who want to go back to the States can come with me; I have a way. Well, we might as well get started. Is everyone ready?"
As Eric translated this last sentence, eager nods, yesses, and their Polish equivalents came from the room. There were a few with Hebrew accents, but not as many as would be expected in a Nazi concentration camp. And there was something else wrong here ... somehow, the audience didn't seem quite like the one The Messiah had last night. Something was missing. ... Aaah, probably the awed expression of last night was all. The Messiah simply shrugged it off.
There was no time to worry about petty things like that now. The longer they waited, the more Germans would awaken. The Messiah cupped his hands around his mouth, and in a strong yet quiet tone of voice, uttered a single word: "Onward!"
As per The Messiah's instructions, none of the people in the crowd said a thing, but simply turned and marched silently toward the main hall door, which was still tightly shut. Grasping the handles as he came to the door, The Messiah tugged hard to pull the double-doors loose. As he soon discovered, they were locked. Realizing this, he stepped back, gave a quick blast of mental energy without flinching, and let the door swing wide open.
Now The Messiah knew there was something wrong. Instead of four or five half-on-duty guards, there were fifteen, all armed and poised for attack. A German command, vaguely resembling, "Hold it right there and don't move!" came from one of the gunmen in the front. How could they possibly have known of their escape plan?
Frankly, though, there was little time to worry about that sort of thing at the time. The Messiah thought quickly over his next actions, then attaining a good stance, put them into effect. He quickly shot his right arm into the air at a 45-degree angle with the horizon, fingers together with palm vertical, and with his eyes tightly shut. Instantly, each and every gun the SS guards were posessing flew from their hands, against their unprepared will, and landed in the midst of the chamber's population. The Messiah quickly removed himself from the induced semi-trance, lowered his arm, and calmly said, "Now then, I strongly suggest you come no closer."
He turned his head towards the closely packed refugees. "Those of you who have the most weapon's skills," he half-ordered, half-requested, "Take one of their guns. They're probably all loaded, but in case they're not, use these...."
The Messiah extended his arm straight out in front of himself, and giving a finger gesture which would normally represent, "Come here," caused every bit of ammunition to fly from the guards into the crowd, along with a concealed hand pistol he'd just discovered. Now the escapee army was ready for nearly any encounter.
"Now then," commanded The Messiah, "Go into the back of this cell block, and enter the ... er ... gas chamber. We won't gas you to death, but we will close the door behind you. Now, MOVE!"
With a "come forward" gesture from both hands, The Messiah caused the group of German guards to stand and walk forward through the chamber 'till they reached the closed door at its back. Eric, having gone with them as an escort, seized the door and threw it open, saying in a calm voice, "This way, gentlemen."
As the last of the Germans protestingly marched into the gas chamber, Eric slammed the door shut and spun the locking wheel, ensuring that none inside would escape. As he mockingly brushed non-existent dirt from his hands, he muttered, "That'll hold 'em!"
Now it was finally time to let the plan go into action once again. Eric turned to the crowd of POWs and told them to take the weapons and ammo that The Messiah had talked about previously. For the last time, hopefully, The Messiah turned to the crowd, and said, "Now quietly ... onward!"
Eric whispered the Polish equivalent of "Shhh," and the mob quickly crept out the door, making as little sound as possible.
Strangely enough, every room alongside the exit hallway was empty of German personnel. Somehow, word had gotten out about their escape plan. But how? ...
The Messiah strained his mind into the past of the day before. Nothing was out of order from now, except that only one person was missing from the cellblock which was now escaping under his command. Nothing was particularly strange about that, except ...
Putting his perceptive powers to the ultimate test, The Messiah probed into the mind of someone who could only be probed into from yesterday's vantage point. Straining his nearly perfect memory, he brought the intentions and thought patterns of the one man into the present. What he saw was so obvious that the only reason he neglected it before was that it was too disgustingly horrid for thought.
The one who had left was a German informer.
In the light of this newfound fact, The Messiah mentally scanned the outside area. Sure enough, the Germans had decided to double the guard. 'Poor misguided souls,' The Messiah thought. 'Even if they quintupled the guard, we could still make it out of here nearly unseen. I'll just have to compensate for the added number of people by doubling the importance of the disturbance that's going to happen on the other side of this concentration camp.'
From the explanation he'd given earlier, it seemed as though The Messiah was going to distract the guards by showing himself and jumping up and down or barking or something. Only The Messiah and his previous thoughts believed and knew otherwise; that he was going to use his mental powers to build up a slowly moving distraction of some sort that would be of importance to every guard there. This wasn't going to be difficult to a great extent, but it certainly wasn't going to be easy.
At the end of the hallway, The Messiah and company found the outside door to be closed. Obviously, the ones outside were waiting in ambush. The Messiah quieted his followers, and began the concentration ritual that would make their presence seem to be elsewhere. He covered his eyes with his hands, and began to exercise his gray cells while completely relaxing his body.
He felt and heard the doubled guard rushing to the other side of the concentration camp. He removed his hands fonm his eyes, and grabbed the opening bar-lever to the door. As soon as he was certain it was absolutely clear outside, he pushed on the bar and opened the door.
He poked his head outside and looked around just to make certain that his vision had not misled him. Yes, it was clear. The Messiah turned his head back toward the crowd, and whispered, "The coast is clear! Come on!"
As Eric translated this line into Polish, a whisper of protest rose from one of the English speakers: "Hey, I thought you said you were going to distract them yourself!"
"I did distract them; but not with the presence of my owr body. They think we're escaping through the front exit of the concentration camp right now."
'But they won't think that for long, I hope' The Messiah thought.
As The Messiah exercised the ancient art of walking silently, the mob followed him, mistakenly using their tiptoes to walk with as little noise as possible, which did absolutely nothing in the way of lowering their audibility; the floorboards still creeked and their feet still stomped equally as much.
Soon, they were all outside. The Messiah told the mob to stay where they were, and move at his mental command. Eric didn't need to translate this time, since he saw that The Messiah never moved his mouth as he was saying it; the message was in the universal language of thought.
The Messiah once again began walking silently as he moved toward the next cell block of P.O.W.s. As he entered through the outer hallway, not a German soul was in sight of eye or mind. This cell chamber was of all women prisoners who were reluctant at first but needed little coaxing to want to leave their little piece of hell behind. Once they were all outside, The Messiah gave the order for his own group to catch up with him, and for the guards on the other side of the camp to go further along in cyclic fashion, the "disturbance" having been moved.
During that last excursion, The Messiah had been utilizing a mental "sound shield—" a field of force that stopped any molecular vibrations from going further than its limit. This in effect kept all sounds inside the field, allowing none of it to escape to the ears of the German guards. Since this was the first time in a long while The Messiah had used this, it was a bit "out of tune" to say the least, for the shield was constantly fluctuating, and occasionally letting out bursts of fairly silent, meaningless sound.
The next time he tried it, however, it was much more effective at keeping the sound inside the limits. The next cell block he'd come to was all men, and it was at this point The Messiah realized that there would be no room for any sexual desire during this escape. But then again, the P.O.W.s would probably be too worried for any of that sort of thing.
The Messiah and company continued on in cyclic fashion counter-clockwise around the concentration camp. The only regularity he noticed about the different cell chambers was that they alternated men-women-men-women. Aside from that, there was no regularity whatsoever with respect to the interspersion of different human traits; i.e. religion, skin color, nationality, etc..
Ah, how ironic is fate. It seems that all the near successes were put down at the last moment after days, months, or even years of planning and hard work. And this was precisely the case of the Great Escape of 1943. If only The Messiah had a few more minutes, he could've freed the last P.O.W. chamber and have left for the DC-3. But instead, one man interfered a bit too early.
Because The Messiah was concentrating on so many different things at once, one man had been able to evade his psychic vision and get within spying range; the old informer that had once been a member of his own cell chamber. It didn't take much observation for him to discover that something was amiss. Why weren't these countless dozens of people under careful watch by the now doubled guard?
He reached into his well-stocked utility belt, and pulled out a communications device, which was later to be nicknamed a "walkie-talkie." He pushed the large black button on its side, and began talking into the speaker in plain, unaccented English.
"This is informer 129 at camp 98. Come in, Major...."
"Ya, vot ist zee passvordt?"
"Ungowa beans. Now then, why isn't anyone guarding that humongous horde of P.O.W.s?"
"Vot humonguss hoardt?"
"You mean you don't know about them?!"
"Know about who, fer Gott's sake?!"
"Hmmm ... I think you'd better send the guard around to the north face of the concentration camp, and fast! Informer 129, over and out."
'I just love American communication jargon!' the informer thought.
The Messiah stopped dead in his tracks. He could sense the radio waves nearby, and had successfully deciphered their message. He and the group he was leading would soon be in a lot of trouble.
Nevertheless, he was almost through. He finished evacuating the last chamber (all female), moving at double speed since now the sound shield didn't matter.
The soldiers on the other side of the concentration camp finally received the message, and immediately dropped what they were doing. The once-concentrated mob of guards quickly disbanded and headed toward the other side. The long-awaited battle that The Messiah had feared was imminent at last.
The Messiah swallowed hard, nearly panic-stricken by what he saw with his mind's eye. He came out of the corridor of the last chamber, a hundred women starving behind him, and shouted to the crowd, "Men.... prepare for battle! We're in trouble!!"
The men in the group each gave a surprised and shocked look at each other, then at The Messiah, and reluctantly readied their commandiered guns.
No one moved or made a sound, for the usual fear of being heard and losing the advantage. Of course, it would make little difference, since The Messiah had thought ahead and cast a sound shield over the entire group.
The Messiah shut his eyes hard in an attempt to think of a way out of this via his own powers; however, this process does exactly the reverse of its intention by inhibiting the thought process, leaving its user only thinking about the fact that his or her eyes are tightly shut. As usual, The Messiah was unable to think of his next move.
And before he was able to relax, it was too late. The platoon of some hundred-and-forty German soldiers had finally made their way around the corner, and the battle had begun.
Instantly, The Messiah released the sound shield from around the group so that they'd be able to hear what they were doing, along with what the soldiers were doing. The armed men in the group, totalling about twenty in number, immediately opened fire on the few Germans that had come around the corner. More than half of this small group was shot before it could react, while the rest managed to get in a clean or a near miss before being hit themselves.
The Messiah didn't want to kill any of the Germans, but he knew what he had to do to preserve the escaping group of almost a thousand P.O.W.s. He half-jogged, half-ran over to the samll, concentrated group of Germans, putting a shield of mental force up in front of the remaining troup around the corner. Going to each German individually, he retrieved their rifles one by one.
Along the way through the pile of slaughter, The Messiah could barely stand to look at the people. Here were these native Germans, some not even twenty years old, in the process of dying because of the ways of a single, crazy man. Some of the soldiers were already dead, but most were writhing on the ground, holding their wounds in agony. There was no other way for them to go besides a quick, mind-erasing death from The Messiah.
As The Messiah walked back to his group with an armload of some fifteen rifles, he was not only in truck-shock from seeing the carnage of the Germans, but he was also under considerable strain from keeping the mental force field up so long. When he had first done that, so many years ago, he was only able to keep it up for a fraction of a second under the strain; he had been dealing with a higher form of matter control.
As he came up to the group, he dropped the guns at his own feet, and looked up. Eric Reekor was showing more empathy for him than anyone there. Nevertheless, about twenty unarmed men walked quickly up to The Messiah, fifteen of which took a gun apiece. The Messiah then walked slowly over to a wall of the concentration camp like a sick man, placed his forearm against the wall parallel to the ground and released the mental force field, shouting "Let 'em have it!" reluctantly as he did.
Eric quickly translated the message into Polish as a larger and more prepared wave of German soldiers came around the corner, brought up in the rear by the entire rest of the group.
The scene that followed looked like one of the pre-American revolution battles between European countries. Two armies were standing up, guns aimed at each other, with the only intent being that of mowing down the others. The P.O.W.s quickly took cover along the ground or behind whatever was available, but the Germans, being a bit slow to think, stood for a few vital seconds while half of their troup got blown away by rapid-P.O.W. fire.
Which is not to say that any of the P.O.W.s emerged without a scratch, either. Ten unarmed men and women were struck down before they were able to get to the nearest shelter or hit the dirt.
The Messiah did exactly as he had done before, by way of setting up a mental barrier, only this time telekinesing the guns of the Germans to the hands of the P.O.W.s. The next wave was going to be a little easier.
The Messiah uttered, "GO!" released the mental barrier, and let the third wave begin. As he began to relax, thinking that soon it would be all over, his mind's eye caught a glympse of something much worse than what had happened.
Down the road about a quarter of a mile, and marching toward the camp on the double, was a platoon of five hundred Germans; half the number of men and women The Messiah was looking over as P.O.W.s.
Fifteen of his own people were dead — a pitifully small amount when compared with the hundred-and-fifty Germans who lay lifeless on the ground. But if he engaged them again, this time the enemy might not be the only ones to die. He had seen enough bludgeon and carnage for one day; this time he didn't want to have to look.
Once again, The Messiah summoned up his mental energies to strike down his foe. This time, however, the means of destruction would be more subtle; they would be the ones to kill themselves. He concentrated his thought on a single soldier in the platoon, and caused his gun to fly up and hit the face of a fellow trooper while the gun was still in his hands.
"Hey, watch it!" the other trooper shouted to the first.
Now the pattern was set. The Messiah proceeded to cause a nearby rock to come to life and hit the one who had just yelled on the back of his head. Now the trooper was furious.
He took his gun and whacked the first soldier on the back of his head, yelling, "I told you to watch it!"
The first had no idea of what had happened, except for the fact that he didn't like getting hit just below his helmet. He moved his rifle so that he was holding the barrel, and let the second have it under his own will.
This little incident promptly erupted into a big brawl between the two of them, each swinging their guns and hitting each other with the rifles' butts. Soon, several men from their sides joined in, saying the German equivalents of, "You can't do that to my buddy!" and the like while beating each others' brains in.
'Ah, to have them destroy themselves,' The Messiah thought. 'I hate having to get rid of them, but at least now I don't feel quite as involved,' which was absolutely true.
The Messiah was no longer involved in the affairs of that bunch. As soon as he had expected, the first shot amongst them was fired. And even there the fighting did not end. With-in a matter of a few minutes, everyone in the group was dead.
The Messiah turned his attention back to the group of P.O.W.s he was leading so well. He did a quick mental scan of his general area, and after making certain that it was safe, shouted, "Ok, people, let's get out of here!"
As Eric Reekor translated that line into Polish, a cry rose up from one of the Polish men. It was not in English, but Eric didn't have to bother translating it; The Messiah had an idea of what it meant, and confirmed this with a look into the Polish's mind: "Where are we going?"
The Messiah held up a hand to prevent Eric from translating, and looked around with his mind's eye. He had lost his bearing from the mental encounter with the incoming platoon, but quickly regained it as he looked at the DC-3. He pointed northwest and shouted, "Thataway!"
The mob gave a riotous shout, and as soon as The Messiah was in front of them, began to march. All the while, The Messiah was keeping a continuous 360-degree eye out for any trouble.
They were no more than half a mile away from the concentration camp when the first bit of trouble was sighted. Somehow, word had gotten out that the platoon hadn't finished its duty, and that the group of P.O.W.s was still alive; for coming up on them from the direct front was a rather large group of jeeps and tanks, all loaded with heavily armed men.
And that was only the beginning. Some way off, up in the sky about ten thousand feet altitude, was a squadron of three bombers and twelve fighter planes, all heavily ladened with the markings of the Luftwaffe.