fic: Letters & Papers from Prison (1/3) Rogue + ensemble
- This story can be found, in pretty html with images:
LETTERS AND PAPERS FROM PRISON
Summary: A young girl has a visit, both figuratively
and literal, with a man in a plastic prison. Rogue +
ensemble, especially Scott. c. 5800 words
Warnings: This is about one of the more disturbing
historical events of the 20th Century. Read it anyway.
When we stop telling these stories, stop hearing them,
we're in danger of repeating them. There is no little
discussion of religion in this. I'm sorry if that
offends anyone, but it can hardly be avoided, given
the topic. I think it fairly clear this isn't either
propaganda or proselytizing.
Notes and acknowledgments: In all the focus on Rogue
and Logan, I think it sometimes gets forgotten that
Marie received Erik Lehnsherr's memories, too. Now �
what does she do with them? This little piece could
fit into any or none of the various story threads I've
created. Remember, I follow the film novelization
that suggests Scott's parents are still alive.
All of the death camp events that I relate are adapted
from actual memoirs of survivors. Joseph Mengele was
one of the Nazi doctors who conducted experiments on
camp prisoners. Elie Wiesel, quoted herein, became
(along with Primo Levi) one of the great "voices" of
the holocaust. And Dietrich Bonhoeffer, also quoted
herein, was a famous theologian and minister, arrested
for participation in resistance activities against the
Nazis. He was eventually executed on April 9, 1945 at
Flossenb�rg camp. He was not a Jew. Letters and Papers
from Prison is the collection of material which he
wrote while incarcerated. Like Steve Biko, Rev. Martin
Luther King, Anna Mae Aquash, and Bishop Romero,
Bonhoeffer was a modern martyr.
Sometimes, unexpected people stand by you.
Ate Wakantanka, micante ki eciya tanhan.
It's cold out. Standing at a fence, fingers twined
through the links, I rub metal. Cold and hard. There
is a lesson in metal. I look past the other yard, out
to a field where more arrivals are marching into
Birkenau. Auschwitz II. Right off the train. The sky
is greasy-grey as men, women, and children are herded
up the road like cattle. They don't know yet that they
go to their own slaughter. At least some of them. The
weak, the old, the young. A few will be preserved, a
few who are "useful."
I spent the morning with that bloody monster Joseph
Mengele. He was trying, again, to figure out how I do
what I do. Even I don't know that. Freak. Freak-Jew.
If I could only learn to control it, I'd cut his
throat with one of his own scalpels.
An hour ago, I was released to work in the yard. Now I
see the new arrivals at a distance, plodding towards
brick walls. Exhausted after days on a train, a young
mother and her toddler cannot keep up with the group
and have fallen behind. Finally, the mother lifts the
child to carry her. The child's little raspberry hat
bobs, a spot of bright color against that greasy-grey
sky. Ash grey. Human ash. It begins to rain. Isolated
drops hit me heavy, glisten on the skin of my bared,
bruised wrists. Grey sky and blue bruises. A reversal
of the natural. That is what this world has become.
It was raining the day I arrived with my family, too.
"God is weeping," my mother had said. Before they
dragged her away.
But the child is heavy and the woman very tired. She
stumbles. Impatient, one of the soldiers pulls the
child from her arms, tosses it away into the grass and
shoves her on. At this distance, I cannot hear the
screams of mother or child except in my imagination.
The mother is dragged along with the prisoners. The
child is left in the grass. I watch her, watch the
raspberry hat go around and around in circles in the
rain until finally, too tired to move further, the
child falls down. In my mind, the unheard wails of
her mother echo a long time. My fingers stroke the
cool metal of the fence. I must be like the metal.
Metal feels no pain.
Marie woke screaming. Kitty and Jubilee were there
instantly. "Marie?" Kitty hit the light switch on her
Warm yellow drove away the grey. Marie took deep
breaths. Her right hand was clenching Logan's dogtags.
Jubilee hugged her tightly through the safety of her
nightgown. "He'll be home, girlfriend," she said. "He
told you he'd come back."
Marie shook her head. They always misunderstood. It
wasn't Logan. Someone was knocking on the door and
Kitty answered. Mr. Summers, dressed in his New York
Nicks t-shirt. The teachers took turns. This must be
his night. "Marie? Another nightmare?"
"You want to talk?"
Normally, she said 'no' and whoever had come to check
on her would go back to bed. It had become so common
in the past three weeks since the incident on the
Statue of Liberty that it was almost rote routine. She
wondered why the teachers even kept coming. She was
like the little boy who cried wolf.
But this time, she nodded and stood up. She wasn't
sure why it was different tongiht. Maybe just because
it was Mr. Summers, not Dr. Grey or Miss Munroe. Miss
Munroe was too calm, Dr. Grey too perfect (and Logan
too infatuated with her). But despite Mr. Summers'
reputation around school as a tight-ass, and despite
Logan's memories in her head (or maybe because of
Logan's memories), he didn't scare her. So she nodded
and stood up, said, "Yeah, I think I would like to
talk." She took the robe that Kitty held out to her,
one of Kitty's own. Mr. Summers stepped aside to let
"Where do you want to go?" he asked her.
She shrugged; he waited a moment, then said, "Come
on." And took her to the kitchen. He poured milk into
two mugs and heated them in the microwave. Then he put
honey and vanilla in them while she watched. When he
brought her a mug, she said, "Thank you," and, "That
t-shirt's about to fall apart. You might should find
He took a chair opposite hers at the little eat-in
table in one corner of the big commercial kitchen.
"That's what Jean tells me. I've had it since
"You went to college?"
He laughed at her, but in a friendly way. "Yes, I went
to college. How do you think I got my teaching
"Nobody bugged you? For, you know, being a mutant?"
"A few did. Most didn't. Believe it or not, the
average person has better things to do with his or her
time than harass mutants." He grinned at her.
"Oh." She sipped the milk. "This is good. Funny, ain't
it, how warm milk makes you sleep?"
"Must be dim memories from infancy."
"So � "
"So � "
"You having Logan's nightmares?"
"No, dammit!" She immediately put a hand over her
He seemed mostly amused. "It's okay, Marie. I've used
that word occasionally. I've used a few more colorful
ones, too, and I bet you have, as well."
That made her smile. He really was funny. He cracked
jokes in class all the time, but only about half the
students got them. Logan had thought him a wise-ass.
probably was. She thought him funny anyway.
"They're not Logan's nightmares," she said now.
"Your own then?"
She just shook her head. He didn't hurry her, let her
speak in her own time. "They're Eric Lehnsherr's.
"Oh." He seemed a bit at a loss. He and Logan might
not have hit it off, but at least they'd fought on the
"Everybody thinks it's Logan in my head. Always Logan.
That I have his nightmares. It's not that his memories
are pure as driven snow or anything." Mr. Summers
grinned at that. "But it's just � What happened to
him, happened to *him*, y'know? It was pretty bad,
but he's just one guy. Maybe there were others, too.
There probably were. But how many? Ten? Twenty? I
don't mean to sound callous, like it's all about
numbers. But it was millions in Germany, y'know? Six
million or more. What Eric lived through � It's a lot
stronger in my head. Weird, huh?" She hugged herself,
looked off at a corner of the kitchen. Someone needed
to use a vacuum under the edge of the counter. "Maybe
it's because it didn't all happen to Erik. He had to
witness it happening to somebody else.
"He was in Birkenau. Auschwitz two, they call it.
There were different kinds of camps. Some were just
holding camps. Birkenau was a death camp. By the time
the Nazi's fled and burned the books, by the time the
Russians came, he was so weak he couldn't stand up.
Just a skeleton with skin and lice. The Russians �
they didn't even want to touch him. His best friend
had died, and he was all alone. Like me."
She looked back at him, wished she could see his eyes.
"I feel sorry for him. I know why he's like he is. I
know why he tried to do what he did. I don't forgive
him, but I feel sorry for him. Do you think I'm
"No, Marie. I don't think you're horrible."
"I'm not even sure he ain't right."
"He's not right."
"But it happened once, Mr. Summers. Why do you think
it won't happen again?"
"I don't know that it won't. Human beings seem to have
an amazing ability to butcher each other over
insignificant differences, whether it's lynching
blacks, shooting Indians, beating up gypsies, or
gassing Jews. Maybe we're next. But making a
pre-emptive strike isn't the answer. And I don't
believe that having a mutant gene makes me a better
man than someone who doesn't have one. We're not homo
sapiens, *superior*. I hate that name."
She sipped more milk. "But nobody cares what happens
to us. I heard some guy got beat to death yesterday,
in Cincinnati, in broad daylight. Cause he was a
Police didn't come till it was too late."
Reaching out, he put his hand over hers resting on the
table, gripped hard. "And they don't necessarily hurry
when the person is a black alcoholic indigent, either.
A black man is far more likely to be stopped and
questioned by police than a white man. Even if the
white man is wearing sunglasses indoors. I've seen it
happen with my own eyes. To my best friend. We were
dressed exactly the same � the only difference was the
color of our skin. Those are the ugly realities,
Marie. The world isn't fair and justice isn't
color-blind. Or bribe-resistant, either. That doesn't
mean I'm going after cops in my spare time. There are
good cops out there. And honest people. And not all
Germans were Nazis. Some of them fought Hitler."
"But who's gonna fight for us, except us?"
"You might be surprised. Do you assume that this
school funds itself? Or that the professor and
Warren's father can pay for it all? They're rich.
They're not that rich. Most of the donors aren't
mutants, or related to mutants. Most of them aren't
even wealthy. They're just people. Like us."
"But we're not 'just people.'"
"Yes, we are." He tightened his hold on her hand.
"Look at me." She did as he said; saw herself
reflected in red: white streak against dark hair, dark
eyes in a white face. "Don't ever forget that we're
people, Marie. We have a slightly different genetic
code, but we're people. We're human. Don't think of
yourself as less than non-mutants. But don't think of
yourself as more, either. You have a gift � "
"I have a curse!"
"I could say the same thing. My fiancee won't see my
eyes when I say 'I will' on our wedding day. She'll
probably never see my eyes at all. Without these
glasses, I could turn this whole mansion to rubble in
under five minutes. Mostly, I don't think of it as a
curse, though. That didn't happen overnight, but it
happened. My attitude changed."
"What color are your eyes, anyway?"
Why on earth had she asked *that*? It seemed to catch
him by surprise, too. Then out came his quirky grin
and he went with the subject change. A body could be
serious only so long. "They're blue."
"Light blue or dark blue?"
"Light blue, Miss Nosey. That kind of flat blue
She smiled and pulled her fingers out of his. "Oh, my.
It's a good thing you got the glasses, then, or you'd
turn a few hearts to rubble instead of the mansion."
He just laughed. "Well, if I can ever lose the shades,
I'll hide behind Jean."
She finished her milk. It was almost cool now. He
watched her. "I think I'm ready to go back to sleep,"
she told him.
"Okay." And he walked her back to her room. Outside,
he took her by surprise by hugging her tight in one
arm and pulling some of her hair across her forehead
to kiss her quick through it. Brave guy. But she
supposed that was why he was leader of the X-Men.
"Sleep tight, don't let the bed-bugs bite, kid-o. Or
the nightmares. Come find me, if you need to talk
again. You know where I live."
She grinned up at him. "I do. Thanks, Mr. Summers. And
I won't tell Jubilee what color your eyes are."
Laughing, he headed back to his own room and the woman
who couldn't see his eyes but loved him anyway.
The next day, as he walked into math class, he passed
by her spot on the end of a long table and dropped two
books in front of her. LETTERS AND PAPERS FROM PRISON
by some guy named Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and a thin
little book by Elie Wiesel that she recognized from
Eric's memories. Eric had known Elie Wiesel. They'd
both been teens in Auschwitz. And survived. Once,
later, they'd met again. She opened the front of the
book. It was signed by Wiesel himself, and on the
other side, across from the title page, Eric had
written, "To Charles. So you can understand." She had
the memories of the day he had given the book to the
After class, Mr. Summers said, "You can return the
books to Professor Xavier, when you're done with
". . . . The Oberkapo of the fifty-second cable unit
was a Dutchman, a giant, well over six feet. Seven
hundred prisoners worked under his orders, and they
all loved him like a brother. No one had ever received
a blow at his hands, nor an insult from his lips.
"He had a young boy under him, a pipel, as they were
called � a child with a refined and beautiful face,
unheard of in this camp. (At Buna, the pipel were
loathed; they were often crueller than adults. I once
saw one of thirteen beating his father because the
latter had not made his bed properly. The old man was
crying softly while the boy shouted: "If you don't
stop crying at once I shan't bring you any more bread.
Do you understand?" But the Dutchman's little servant
was loved by all. He had the face of a sad angel.)
"One day, the electric power station at Buna was blown
up. The Gestapo, summoned to the spot, suspected
sabotage. They found a trail. It eventually led to the
Dutch Oberkapo. And there, after a search, they found
an important stock of arms.
"The Oberkapo was arrested immediately. He was
tortured for a period of weeks, but in vain. He would
not give a single name. He was transferred to
Auschwitz. We never heard of him again.
"But his little servant had been left behind in the
camp in prison. Also put to torture, he too would not
speak. Then the SS sentenced him to death, with two
other prisoners who had been discovered with arms.
"One day when we came back from work, we saw three
gallows rearing up in the assembly place, three black
crows. Roll call. SS all round us, machine guns
trained: the traditional ceremony. Three victims in
chains � and one of them, the little servant, the
"The SS seemed more preoccupied, more disturbed than
usual. To hang a young boy in front of thousands of
spectators was no light matter. The head of the camp
read the verdict. All eyes were on the child. He was
lividly pale, almost calm, biting his lips. The
gallows threw its shadow over him.
"This time, the Lagerkapo refused to act as
executioner. Three SS replaced him.
"The three victims mounted together onto the chairs.
"The three necks were placed at the same moment within
"'Long live liberty!' cried the two adults.
"But the child was silent.
"'Where is God? Where is He?' someone behind me asked.
"At a sign from the head of the camp, the three chairs
"Total silence throughout the camp. On the horizon,
the sun was setting.
"'Bare your heads!' yelled the head of the camp. His
voice was raucous. We were weeping.
"'Cover your heads!'
Then the march past began. The two adults were no
longer alive. Their tongues hung swollen, blue-tinged.
But the third rope was still moving; being so light,
the child was still alive . . . .
"For more than half an hour he stayed there,
struggling between life and death, dying in slow agony
under our eyes. And we had to look him full in the
face. He was still alive when I passed in front of
him. His tongue was still red, his eyes not yet
"Behind me, I heard the same man asking: 'Where is God
"And I heard a voice within me answer him: 'Where is
He? Here He is � He is hanging here on this gallows .
. . .'
--Elie Wiesel, from his autobiography, NIGHT. The book
Eric had given to the professor. These particular
pages had been dog-eared: 74-76. Marie wondered who
marked them. Eric, or Charles?
Beneath, at the chapter's end, was written: *That
child wasn't a Jew.* A smooth, fine hand. Different
from the one in which the dedication had been written.
*** Continued in part II ***
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