by Katie Hart
The dawn would break his cover. Alain knew he must move now, before any hope of rescuing them disappeared. Nice and slow. He didn’t want creaking old joints or cracking branches to alert the guard.
The soldier’s gangly limbs bespoke youthfulness, but his prisoners were far younger – annoying girls with flighty ways and little sense.
Pink stained the sky as Alain crept closer. The penknife he used to trim his vines cut their bonds easily. Yet only demi-sommeil seemed to embrace the German. Two teenagers could not outrun a gun.
Using the forest’s diminishing camouflage, Alain stole to the other side of the camp, where the Boche dozed by a dying campfire. Once there, he deliberately stepped on a dry twig.
The German awoke with a shout. Alain began to run. Zohn, his Jewish charges had called him. They should see the old man now.
He shouted insults as he ran, taunting the soldier to follow him so the girls could escape. Heavy breathing and the crackle of dry brush satisfied his wondering. He forced his tired legs further.
The sky brightened as the woods thinned. No cover. A gun’s report sounded and hot metal slugged him in the back, twisting him around and down. He hit the ground as the fiery pain consumed him.
On his back, he struggled for breath and prayed his girls got away. For a second he saw their impish faces in the treacherous dawn-filled clouds above him. One zohn was a fair exchange.