Chapter Two Thousand Eight
1st August 1970
Schwielochsee, Spreewald National Park
The previous year, Marie Alexandra had spent the Summer Holiday in Canada and spending it with her paternal grandmother had not been a great experience. This year was supposedly going to be different, unfortunately for Marie her mother’s intervention had blown apart whatever plans she might have had if she had made any. Instead, she had wanted weeks of unstructured time to just pursue her muses. Her mother had had none of it, she was going to camp with Sophie and that was the end of it. To Marie’s complete shock, she had found that every other adult in her life had presented a united front against her. Idle hands are the Devil’s workshop Aunt Marcella had said. And besides that, had it ever occurred Marie that her parents were looking forward to not having their children underfoot for the Holiday so that they could get personally reacquainted? Marie’s Great Aunt did have a point, sort of, but the images that came to mind that involved her parents… Marie found that incredibly gross.
Suse Rosa and Josefine had told Marie that she ought to be looking forward the spending the summer in the Spreewald, she was old enough to be a guard as opposed to one of the prisoners. She hadn’t quite gotten what that meant at the time and she was certain that Suse and Jo were up to something. Just they were older, in their 20’s, so unless it was something major Marie’s mother didn’t want to hear about it.
When Marie had arrived at the camp on the shore of the Schwielochsee, she had been told that as a fourteen-year-old she was responsible for minding the younger girls in her section. That included the cabin that Sophie and Ziska shared with Lina and Ilona. Mostly that included keeping them busy as much as possible, because as Marie had been warned keeping twenty girls who ranged in ages from seven to twelve out of trouble was difficult if she failed in that task. She had tried to get the girls interested some of the plays that she loved, without much luck so far, and had mostly been involved in exploring the forests and wetlands of the Spreewald with them. That didn’t mean that Marie was immune from involving herself in the very sort of tomfoolery that she was supposed to be preventing others from engaging in. Something that she was starting to have misgivings about even when she was in the process of doing it.
Maja, the girl who Marie was sharing a cabin with, knew about the gap in the hedge when Marie had asked her if the rumors were true. So, that was how Marie found herself stumbling through the dark on the second Saturday in which she was on holiday. This was decidedly not her idea of fun.
Everyone had all seen the lights of the camp next to theirs and were curious about who was there. The trouble was that a hedge of thorny bushes grew from the shoreline to the road that was backed by a tall wire mesh fence that was nearly impossible to climb. There was one gap in the hedge that allowed the fence to be approached and there had been talk about just what happened there at night if they happened along at the right moment. Maja said that she had done this the year before.
Leaving the tree line, Maja and Marie crept up to the fence, listening intently for signs that they had been discovered. The reason why Marie had been reluctant to do this in the first place was because it was impossible for the adults to not have heard the same rumors that she had, but it seemed like there was no one else around. Pushing through the narrow gap towards the fence in the starlight she felt a branch on the thorn bushes snag the hem of her dress and was reminded anew how stupid this was. Something about the arrangement bothered Marie, she started to say something, but she was interrupted by Maja.
“Is anyone there?” Maja asked in a stage whisper.
“Nobody here, except us chickens” A voice on the other side of the fence said. Marie wondered exactly what she had gotten herself into here.
“Shut the fuck up Adi” A different voice said.
“I was just joking around” the first voice, presumably Adi, replied.
“Is it just you tonight?” The second voice asked.
“I got Marie with me tonight Ferdi” Maja said, “You remember me from last summer?”
“Yeah, I guess” Ferdi replied.
This was even sillier than it had sounded to Marie when Maja had described it to her. Adi and Ferdi had come out here in the off chance that someone might happen along, and they could talk through the fence? What was the point in that? It all seemed so perfectly random.
“Does this Marie have anything to say for herself?” Adi asked.
“Other than being a bit annoyed and wondering what the big deal is” Marie said crossly.
“Never mind her” Maja said, “Marie’s been in a mood since her parents had her shipped here for the summer.”
“You could do worse Marie” Ferdi said, “Could you imagine spending all summer in the city?”
That was exactly what Marie had wanted. Sleeping in until noon everyday and watching television until something else caught her fancy. All while not being responsible for anyone or anything else. That would have been a proper holiday.
It was then that they were caught in the beam of a powerful flashlight. It was the thing that had bothered Marie, the gap being where it was happened to be a predictable location for this sort of interaction, a purpose made trap. Marie heard Adi and Ferdi running off on the other side of the fence, but there was nowhere for her to run away to because of the thorn bushes.