Sunday Post – 2

I’m revisiting the writers-group prompt from January for this month’s Sunday Post. We won’t meet again until April (we’re a quarterly cabal), but I transcribed my written notes from last month.

Since Microsoft acquired Nuance, the maker of Dragon Naturally Speaking, I’ve found the Word ‘dictate’ tool much improved. I disable Grammarly and Word-editor to use it because if I don’t, it freezes up, noting errors as I speak.


CHARACTER: “Berek”

In 1939, Lebensraum initiative scouts posing as wealthy women giving out candy approach BEREK KOZAK, a green-eyed blond boy living in German-occupied Drawkso (renamed, Dramburg.) 11-year-old Berek runs home to his mother, but scouts enter and seize him before his mother can hide him.

Berek arrives at a hospital where he undergoes a physical examination by Doctor Kleindienst, who deems him ‘Aryan.’

Taken to a Volksdeutsche School outside of Rybarzowice (renamed Reibersdorf), Berek meets Headmaster Wagner, who informs him that he will speak German by next month. Nurse Beck takes him and a few newcomers to their room, and when one boy begins crying, she calls Headmaster Wagner, who beats the boy in front of the others. Nurse Beck takes him and a few newcomers to their room, and when one boy begins crying, she calls Headmaster Wagner, who beats the boy in front of the others.

Renamed ‘Boris,’ he excels at German yet endures harsh discipline from his instructor, Miss Muller, for privately speaking Polish to his classmates. Headmaster Wagner also beats him for using his real name. Berek lashes out at Nurse Beck one day, earning him a brutal beating from their physical education instructor, Mister Scheldt.

A year passes, and ‘Boris’ is favored by Mister Scheldt yet feared by the other boys. His grasp of German is exemplary, as is his behavior. Headmaster Wagner places Boris with the Vogel family, wealthy German transplants now living in Lezno (renamed Lissa.)

Mister Vogel lives with his wife and the elder Misses Vogel. They present ‘Boris’ alongside their three blonde daughters as their natural son. When the old woman asks if he’s from Sweden or Denmark, he tells her he is Polish; from then on, she treats him with disdain. ‘Boris’ accompanies Mr. Vogel to his candy shop in town and realizes that German men like Vogel now run many businesses that once belonged to Jews.

Berek empties the cash register and flees the village by train.

Scharführer Horn apprehends Berek at Poznan station and out of the city, pulls over, and beats him senseless. ‘Boris’ recovers from his injuries back at the school, and in 1941, Nurse Beck declares him fit for a new placement.

The 13-year-old moves into the townhouse of a less-affluent family outside of Opole (renamed Oppeln). Mister and Misses Lang have one daughter, another Lebensraum girl who acquiesces when Berek speaks to her in Polish. Both attend public school in 1941, where ‘Boris beats down the class bully and aggressively pursues his little brother as a friend. When Mister Lang discovers him shaking down other children for money, he immediately notifies Headmaster Wagner.

Scharführer Horn appears again, but Berek flees into metro Oppeln with the Lang’s daughter Eleanor (Eliana.) Horn apprehends the 14-year-old and murders the girl in front of his eyes. Frightened into compliance, Berek joins twelve other problematic boys on a bus bound for a National Political Institute of Education in Sztum (renamed Stuhm). Upon arrival at the camp, their brutal commander, Richter, orders the newcomers to attack one another. When none of them move, he shoots one—telling the boys he will keep shooting down the line until they comply.

Berek attacks the boy beside him, compelling others to do the same. Richter watches until ‘Boris’ is the last one standing. Considered ‘the best,’ Boris is given a room, uniform, and a rifle. He trains to use it with a battalion of other ‘bests.’

Upon turning 15, ‘Boris’ and his troop is driven to a hotel where dozens of German girls serve drinks and make their intentions clear. Disinterested in women, Berek avoids going upstairs with any of them—but at night’s end, fellow cadets Krause and Hummel push him into a room with one of the girls. Unable to perform, they tell Richter, who then suspects ‘Boris’ may be homosexual.

The next day, Gestapo officer Haas visits to assess ‘Boris.’

A hidden homosexual, Haas empathizes, and instead of sending ‘Boris’ to a death camp, he orders him to a labor camp. During transport, however, Berek escapes his handlers. He travels the rail lines and makes it as far as Elblag before his recapture. Berek languishes in solitary confinement after Lebensraum officials parse his identification number. No longer a ‘citizen of the Reich,’ Berek is assigned to a farm in the Borderlands.

Haas personally escorts him for the drive, but just outside their destination in Kolno, Haas parks and rapes Berek. Defeated and demoralized, Berek joins eight other Lebensraum failures in laboring for a cruel antisemitic farmer named August Jarosz.

Several months under Jarosz’s abusive yoke finds ‘Berek’ and the others planning an escape. After beating the 16-year-old for refusing to service the man’s wife, he ties up Berek in the barn like an animal; the others revolt, but the farmer sets traps, killing most of them. When Jarosz begins murdering the remaining mutineers, his wife calls Haas, who sends two infantry officers.

News of the Soviet invasion in 1944 finds the ‘problematic’ group under Horn’s care sent to Warsaw. The officers arrive in time to save Berek, but Scharführer Horn is with them. Unwilling to give up on the tall, handsome blonde, Horn keeps the boy awake for days at an installation in Pultusk and reconditions Berek to accept his ‘Boris’ identity.

Outside the city, ‘Boris’ is placed with a Volkssturm unit headed by a sadistic man named Engel. They are to protect Germans hiding in bunkers, those unable to flee before the arrival of the Soviets. One day, he intervenes when Engel beats a younger boy and kills him. When the others turn on Berek, he kills them as well.

Berek crosses paths in war-torn Warsaw with a group of Soviets soldiers. He earns their trust by telling them where German civilians are bunkering throughout the city. He tells them about being taken from his mother and forced to ‘be German.’ Horrified, the soldiers allow Berek, now seventeen, to raid homes and bunkers.

Vasiliev, their leader, assigns Berek to a Polish officer named Wozniak as they cross into Germany. His bloodthirsty behavior impresses Vasiliev, but a concerned Wozniak tries mentoring the teen.

One night, after drinking, Berek kisses Wozniak, who tells the boy never to do anything like that in front of the others. Frightened that the other might kill Berek, Wozniak feeds the teen false information about Poles from Poznan imprisoned at Oranienburg.

He leaves at night for Oranienburg and discovers the camp abandoned but for the sick. He goes through the German records and discovers his mother was never there. He returns to the Soviets to confront Wozniak but finds the man lynched outside Morwitz with a placard around his neck, signifying him as a homosexual deviant.

Berek flees south and arrives at the Polish Red Cross Hospital in a partially bombed-out castle outside Bötzow. He smothers a young man on a stretcher, takes his place, and gets brought inside. He sweet-talks the nurses into letting him stay after he’s deemed healthy enough to leave; one of them, the matronly Miss Koblencja, puts him to work cleaning sheets and scrubbing bedpans.

A group of survivors from Sachsenhausen camp arrive; one is a pink triangle prisoner. Berek curiously checks in on the patient and is shocked to find it’s a boy, not a man. The nurses wonder how anyone would consider a young boy to be homosexual. One of the nurses faints while stripping the boy. Miss Koblencja rushes Berek outside and closes the door. He learns from a younger nurse that Soviet soldiers found the boy in the camp medical ward, fully castrated. The idea of a complete castration excites Berek, who has developed a fetish for scars.

Driven to see what a complete castration looks like, Berek sneaks into the triage room and peeks under the boy’s bandages. The boy has no penis and testicles, only new sutures. Compelled by feelings he doesn’t understand, Berek attempts to lick the stitching, but the boy wakes.

A storm begins outside, prompting Berek to help the orderlies hang wood panels over the glassless windows. He climbs to the triage ward on the third floor to attach panels over the wind-beaten plastic and spots the 12-year-old out of bed.

The boy smiles at the lighting and thunder, mesmerizing Berek. Without warning, the boy walks off the precipice of a broken wall. Berek rushes to the ledge when he hears the screams. He looks down to find the boy floating in the flooded swimming pool. A doctor carries him out of the water and hands him to Misses Koblencja.

Soviet soldiers arrive the following day, and among them is Vasiliev.

The men miss Berek and celebrate seeing him again, and when Vasiliev gets him alone, he asks if Wozniak ever touched him. He tells Berek that they caught Wozniak with a civilian man and strung him up for being a pervert. Berek masks his rage and assures him that Wozniak never touched him. That night, however, when Vasiliev goes to piss from too much drinking, Berek emerges from the darkness and stabs him with an empty syringe, killing him.

Invigorated by vengeance, Berek excitedly crawls back to his bed, and the next day, he leaves with the Soviet soldiers.

On his nineteenth birthday in 1946, Berek arrives in Leba and applies for placement in the job corps. When the port comes under Soviet control, his grasp of Russian earns him an apprenticeship with national rail. It takes five years for Berek to become a train operator, and in time he discovers that officials murdered his mother. He visits the mass grave and collects her ID, dress, shoes, and hair ribbon.

Now a young man, Berek’s route takes him into eastern Germany.

While in Potsdam, he spots the former Miss Muller (now Mrs. Constance Steinmetz). Berek stalks the woman, learning her routine before breaking into her townhome. He ties her up and forces her to eat until she vomits—he then forces her to eat the vomit. He kills her, leaving a written note about her involvement in Lebensraum and the Germanization school.

Next, he visits the passenger rail center and flirts with the girl on duty. After a few sexless dates, he gets her drunk and takes her office key; he then goes through the rail pass records in her office, looking for the people on his ‘Kill List.’ Edgar Kleindienst, Lena Beck, Byron Scheldt, as well as Johan Krause and Klaus Himmel…

Berek kills many on his list before taking a permanent assignment with Polish National Rail’s freight line in 1960. The new route takes him from Berlin to Poznan to Warsaw, and while passing through Skierniewice, he sees Ruta Koblencja’s obituary notice.


I’ve jotted down notes for Arik Tarski’s history – he’s the secondary protagonist who gets caught up in Berek’s quest for vengeance; Arik becomes Berek’s silent and reserved lover, and he thinks that once Berek kills everyone on his list, they will settle down and live a decent closeted life.

:/ Sadly, that’s not how things work out.

Berek wants what Arik wants – but if you’ve ever seen Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, then you know men like Berek cannot change. Hopefully, my Arik won’t end up like Becky did in Portrait of the Serial Killer. 0_0

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