Messages from the past

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They kept coming. Not every day but at regular intervals, disconcertingly regular. But, not so predictably regular that he could catch the person that left them. The messages were written on lined paper. Pages that seemed to be from the same notebook, yellow with age and with threatening jagged edges down one of the long sides where the pages had been ripped violently from the body of the book.

On the occasions when he found a note on the floor of the hall he would painfully bend over to pick it up, read it and then shuffle through to the lounge.There he would pull the curtains carefully to one side and peer out, surveying the street, studying the neighbour’s windows. He was becoming increasingly unnerved. The writer seemed to know him; know of his past life. Was the author seeking retribution or money?

The first note had said simply: ‘We have found you’. The faint, straggling longhand had given him no clue. Subsequent notes had similar brief messages or lists of long numbers in painstakingly neat columns. He knew what they referred to, but not what the sender wanted. Why now, he thought; it had been a regrettable fragment of time in his life, the larger part of which had been spent as Doctor George Simpson, unremarkably serving the community of this small American town.

****

It had snowed all day. Large snowflakes, like torn paper, floated down from the leaden sky thickly blanketing the lawns, the streets and the house roofs. It occurred to him that if a note was delivered that night a trail would be left in the virgin snow. A trail that may lead to the source of the messages, a neighbour perhaps.

In the dark, cold hallway he sat uncomfortably by the door. Waiting. The moonlight seeping through the transom window slid silently across the ceiling. The carved Bavarian wall clock had just chimed four o’clock when the letter plate rattled faintly and a folded piece of paper fluttered to the floor at his feet. He picked up the note, levered himself out of the chair, gripped his walking stick and pulled the door open to confront the messenger. There was no one there or a trail to follow. The undulating snow had a glittering crisp crust, unblemished by footprints or any other marks. Bemused, he unfolded the piece of paper; a faded picture of a young officer and a Jewish woman, a child clasped to her breast. The officer is pointing a Luger pistol at the woman………

His walking stick fell with a load clatter on the parquet floor. “Mein Got..Mein Got,” he whispered. Fear gripped him, crushed his soul and his heart. In his final moments, as he fell slowly forward into the snow, Hauptmann Georg Schneider, was thrown back into the nightmare of Belarus.

****

Our writing group were given the theme ‘messages’ as the prompt.