Estimated reading time — 11 minutes
By Brandon Gulling
Latvia SSR, 6 January, 1942
Johannes Wulf, M.D.
My stomach aches and churns from hunger. I feel the acid slowly eating away at the lining, like lava carving a canyon through a mountain. Even the rats feel the pain of hunger, violently picking at their fallen kin, as mange sets in. Supply routes are shut down from the storm, leaving us stranded. The wind howls overhead, bringing clouds of gray with an icy promise that seals us in a tomb of misery, and panic sets in. Buried, we survive on left over rations. I dive further into my studies, pushing away the hunger, fascinated by the work of Dr. Albrecht Faust. Upon demand from the Third Reich, he is ordered to Latvia with a team of medical scientists to carry out and document his experiments.
“In order to achieve the perfect race, we remove any imperfections within the patient’s genome. The desired cells are injected into the old, unwanted cells, attacking them like a virus. These new cells change the makeup of the patient’s genome enabling the patient to pass this down to future generations…”
The hunger devours me again. I can’t concentrate.
Latvia SSR, 7 January, 1942
Johannes Wulf, M.D.
They barricaded the southwest section of the compound, where the medical wing lies, allowing us access to the basement and sub-basement levels. The first floor is the quarters of my colleagues and I, along with the medical ward, where we treat our wounded or sick soldiers. But, the “Judecca Ward”, on the second level, is where hell becomes reality. Endless screams carry through the walls, like a grenade shattering your eardrums, and I suffocate, slowly treading the melancholic depths of depression. I try to overcome my despondency by reminiscing the times spent with my former lover before that ill-fated night death took her from me.
She died young giving birth to a premature stillborn that would have been our first child. Her beauty was mesmerizing, comparable only to an angel that gracefully soars amongst the clouds, forever holding my heart in heavenly bliss. Her almond shaped eyes were as blue as sapphire that could illuminate an entire room, even in the darkest of hours, like fire flies dancing in a grassy meadow on a warm summer night. I long for her warm embrace when holding her tight between my arms before bed, kissing her soft lips that, like a fine wine, left a fragrant memory lingering long after the affair ended, assuring me that our love would stay true. But these are all now just memories fading in and out. Alas, my reality is here awaiting an uncertain freedom to the outside.
Latvia SSR, 8 January, 1942
Johannes Wulf, M.D.
As I wander through the damp corridors of the crypt like basement, the porous walls are clogged with clumps of blood and fingernails ripped from inmates as they battled their escorts in a final effort to break free. The grounds upon which I stride are stained with vomit and excrement released upon medically induced traumas. I try not to stare at these people round up like dogs only to dispose of their frigid bodies in a harrowing masquerade of shame. Their frames are weak and pale, their flesh hanging from their bones, and when they attempt to stand, they groan in protest. They all look so helpless.
When the blizzard hit, we were only expecting to go a week without supplies. The storm did not subside, and now, here we are rationing our supplies with the prisoners to keep them alive for our research. The few SS we have down here for security are complaining that we should be keeping the rations for ourselves to “let them starve like the abominations they are”, but I disagree. If we can make this breakthrough, I know we will forever change history, making Germany the “mecca” for medical advances, and, hopefully, one day, we can use these findings to help people instead of hurting them.
The generators will be depleted soon, so we will be without power. We will be forced to use the few lanterns we have left and eventually, work by candlelight. The cold is starting to seep in, holding its tight grip of icy misfortune, penetrating through my bones like a dull rusty dagger digging its way in deeper and deeper with each torrid thrust. In a way, I embrace it.
Latvia SSR, 11 January, 1942
Johannes Wulf, M.D.
I can’t take the stench anymore. My head swims from the decaying human waste littering the holding cells in the sub-level, and, with no ventilation, the smell permeates, like a thick fog rolling through a heavily forested valley. I question the conditions under which we keep our subjects, but I’m assured in order for these experiments to work this is the way it must be done. Any indication we are helping or conversing with the prisoners is grounds for immediate execution.
I performed a bone transplant earlier this evening between two subjects, in a vile attempt to discover whether it is possible to regenerate donated bone. Watching these people get tied down and cut open without so much as a drop of morphine to suppress the pain is killing me on the inside. I watched a man bite his tongue off, because we were not allowed to even offer him a scrap of cloth to clamp down on. That, along with the horrific screams of agony and cries for mercy, makes me wonder if our work is really as revolutionary as I had been lead to believe.
Latvia SSR, 14 January, 1942
Johannes Wulf, M.D.
My journal is my only solace in this madness, as I cannot speak out against these heinous acts to my peers or superiors, but I must be strong and continue my research, as I do not want to disappoint my mentor. I hope the roads clear soon, because, by the end of the week, we will have gone through the last of our rations. What, then, will we do after that? Starve to death?
As I lay my head down in the confines of my room, I discover I am unable to find comfort from the bellows of misery coming from down the hall. I give myself an intravenous dose of 5mg of morphine to drown out the unrelenting shrills. They sound like what could only be heard in the darkest depths of hell, something that should never be allowed to walk this material word. They sound demonic…unnatural in the mortal realm, I didn’t even know it was possible for a human to make such appalling reverberations. This combined with the putrid stench of shit that has been lingering amongst me makes me believe maybe I really am in hell?
Latvia SSR, 20 January, 1942
Johannes Wulf, M.D.
Our security has drastically been downsized due to sickness or death. There are only a few able bodies left to help contain the prisoners from overrunning the medical staff. My colleagues and I are also riding the coattails of starvation. We are completely out of food and have been forced to eat rats coming from the sewer lines which are few and far between. I can feel my insides twisting and slowly being eaten away by the stomach acid that resides in my abdominal wasteland. One member of the SS has been cutting off his extremities, cauterizing the wounds, and eating the flesh from his cold, dead fingers. We placed him in the medical ward with heavy sedation awaiting further evaluation for his psychological prowess to rejoin the remaining security detail.
I wonder what human flesh tastes like. Is it a satisfying delicacy that many do not partake because of the social segregations it may cause amongst our peers? Or is it the fact that mankind would rather not delve into the lost mores of barbarianism? One patient in particular has been the subject to this quarrel, Subject 6372, isolated into confinement and forced to eat nothing but the remains of his fellow comrades. Over the course of 4 days Subject 6372 has been showing signs of delirium, irrational thought processing, and outbursts of rage. In unsuccessful attempts to calm the subject down we administered multiple injections of a new experimental drug and threw him to the gas chambers. To our fascination, it failed and only seemed to grow more violent, lashing out in blind fury against us, breaking the first layer of reinforced glass in the viewing room’s window and speaking undecipherable tongues that seemed to curse our existence. It’s already pale skin grew peculiar markings I have never seen before, etched in blood, scarring over just as fast as they appeared. In awe, my colleagues and I stood watching this strange phenomenon occur, hoping it would not break through the armor-plated barrier. For hours we analyzed every possible outcome that may have caused this calamity but, upon intensive research no hypothesis could be concluded. We secured the door and closed off the area barring it from existence and our minds.
Latvia SSR, 22 January, 1942
Johannes Wulf, M.D.
The bodies of dead prisoners have begun to reach the final stages of livor mortis, thus bringing upon the graces of putrefaction and in due time they will slowly begin to rot. This and many other factors have started to take a toll on everyone. Morale is low as it draws closer to the end of the month and there have been internal altercations between the entire staff, including myself. I believe everybody is starting to feel the effects of isolation, un-willfully making threats against one another and making false accusations of thievery. We are trying to hold on but it gets harder with every passing minute. There is still no word from the outside and thus started to seal off sections of the sub-level that contain infectious inmates brought on by improper care of their surgical afflictions. In spite of these ailments I continue my research but my attention has turned to something more alarming. While lurking through the underbelly of the compound my curiosity got the best of me and wondered into an area marked for elite SS members only.
I lit one of the candles and headed toward an altar that sat in the middle of the room. On the surface, a black leather bound book engraved with incomprehensible hieroglyphics laid shut. I opened the book. Odd equations and texts in a language I could not understand lined the brittle coffee stained pages of which I held in my hands. I dare not say anymore for I fear something terrible walks among us.
Latvia SSR, 26 January, 1942
Johannes Wulf, M.D.
I welcome the warmth emitting from the pyre of bodies set ablaze to expel invasions of hypothermia while I roast my first meal in days. The tenderness of the meat is almost comparable to a fine cut of veal. Its succulent flavor brings me happiness where I cannot find in any other outlet of sanctity as I chew past a tendon that gallantly gives between each incisor. Even though not many of us are left, the experimentations continue through countless mantras made of death. As I finished my spoilage I drudgingly wondered down the corridor into the psych ward to evaluate our subject that had been diagnosed schizophrenic. As we laid her down to administer shock therapy she caught my gaze and held me there as a plea for mercy before convulsing into epileptic fits. The contraption from which she was bound was far from reputable, rigged with a car battery and rusted defibrillators; she let out a whimpering moan that slightly aroused me. Her spasms grew more violent with each increment of electricity administered, heightening my excitement to a magnitude of extreme delight. Lifeless, she could take no more punishment as foam and blood flowed from her mouth. ***
I hear things, things inside my head that won’t leave me alone, whispering voices in the dark, taunting me. What do they want? What are they saying?
I have run out of morphine, using it to suppress my hunger and mental anguish. I grow restless as time wears on. I do not know how much longer I can carry on. “They”, loathsome voices, viciously encircle my thoughts, suffocating me and trapping me inside their vicious cycles of fear and paranoia, invading my subconscious. I try to talk back but they do not answer. This room becomes smaller by the minute. Each breathe grows more painful. I would do anything to get a meager breath of fresh air.
I have lost track of time. Any hope of being rescued has vanished.
I have locked myself inside my room, sheltering myself from what havoc lies behind these walls. The images of what I have witnessed and participated in haunt me in my dreams. How could we do this to these people and live with ourselves?
I see “Them” now, dark silhouettes dancing by candlelight to the symphonies of necrotic misery. They plead for me to follow them beyond the walls of my room, but, I refuse to surrender.
There’s something at my door. Steady, prolific knocks slowly eating away at my psyche. Nervously, I try to convince myself not to open the gate into my sacred asylum. It must be “Them”. Playing tricks on me, trying to lead me into an unpleasant trial of interrogation for the abominations of which I have helped create. The knocking came again, this time as a steady prolixity pounding into my skull begging me, taunting me, torturing me. I lashed out at the nuance beyond the wall before it broke into a full barrage of pandemonium, cursing it to leave me alone. I tried to ignore it but it grew louder and more menacing with each knock…knock…knock reaching into my soul, raping me of my solitude. I submitted and opened the door, revealing nothing but the hollowness of the darkened hall. I slowly stepped backwards scanning my peripherals, being careful not to disturb anything that may be lurking in the shadows, closing the door in front of me. Before I could turn around an awful cracking of limbs came from behind me. I promised myself I would not look but, the sound grew more menacing with each unsettling crunch. Reluctantly, I turned around. There she stood, a necrotic silhouette of my former lover, cradled between her arms a very small, dismembered child. My stomach churned. I tried to get away but I was too petrified to move. Then she spoke,
What’s the matter dear? Aren’t you hungry?
Trying to break my paralysis I fumbled for the door handle, unable to seek its grasp.
You must be starving?
As she progressed towards me her vibrant blue sapphire eyes changed into dark pits of misery and her face slowly decayed, shedding pieces of flesh and exposing the same markings found on Subject 6372.
She took another serving from the small, mutilated carcass, licking her lips between each sinew she consumed as the lacerations carved themselves into her skin.
In a frantic struggle for my escape I finally caught the latch and fled down the hallway.
I must have blacked out, for I awoke in a different room. Thoughtlessly, I felt around to find a lantern with some kerosene left and hastily turned it on. A lifeless child no older than ten sat in the corner holding her twin sister, sewn together from the torso, inflicted with multiple wounds across their withering bodies. Instantly, I vomited.
They look most elegant in the shimmering light of the dying lantern. Their secured smile, fastened with sutures, brings joy to my heart once again. My needle gracefully passed between each puncture into the skin as I repaired the damage once bequeathed upon them. They are grateful for our new found friendship, as am I. They are the only thing keeping me sane. I fear I am trapped here for eternity. The Scornful, omnipotent beings controlling and judging my every move, are keeping me alive, punishing me for my misguided actions. Death dares not wander these halls.
We stay up for hours talking about life beyond the wall and sing to keep “Them”, The Scornful, away, “…Here comes a candle to light you to bed, here comes a chopper to chop off your head. Chip chop chip chop the last man’s dead! Here comes a crow to watch you cry, here comes a raven to watch you die. Tick tock tick tock your soul is mine.” Of course, these malicious beings that inhabit my conscious would want to take that away from me. “They” try to get inside the heads of my friends telling them treacherous and appalling lies about me. I beg my friends not to listen, that The Scornful are jealous of our friendship because we do not include them in our daily colloquies. I’m afraid they did not heed my words.
My new friends have succumbed to The Scornful. In a dazed, outburst of fury I frivolously stabbed my legs with a scalpel to drown out the cackling inquisitors that have betrayed me. In my moment of bloodlust, my screams were shared with others faintly coming from down the hall. I stopped the ritual of self-mutilation and crawled to the door to hear the commotions that ended my maiming.
The screams grew louder, echoing throughout the halls, sending me into a spiraling fluster of dread. The turmoil drew near, bringing with it bodies being ripped apart with ease, breaking under the punishing strength of their executioner. I begged for it not to find me as it released a blood curdling shriek. It escaped… the horrible twisted being we so thoughtlessly engineered, forged by our sickest imaginations has been released, seeking revenge on every last one of us for the nightmare in which it was spawned. How can I live knowing that I helped construct the terror lurking beyond the wall? Viciously, “They” remind me that I am their slave, heckling me relentlessly, making sure I will never forget our nightmare made of flesh. I am forever trapped in this maze of torment where madness reigns and insanity dwells.