Friday, November 5, 2010
Vernichtung Treatment Part Two
So, here's the second part of the Vernichtung Treatment. If you'll recall, the inmates are staging a Treblinka-Sobibor style revolt, and the black foam just got Wirth, who's so friggin' evil that he promptly took control of the stuff:
At the main gate, the inmates are breaking through; the guards flee. Confronted by a group of escapees, JAEGER and FREITAG offer no resistance, and SCHIFRIN prevents his men from killing them. JAEGER looks at SCHIFRIN, shaking his head.
"I never agreed to your terms," SCHIFRIN says.
"No you didn't," JAEGER replies.
"Why don't you just leave?" JAEGER asks.
One of SCHIFRIN'S men thrusts an MP-40 at him. "Where?"
"In custody," JAEGER says. "Really, it would be better all around if you let me keep him. Just go."
SCHIFRIN points his own machine-pistol at him, decides JAEGER probably won't crack--- they drag a wounded German up and ask him.
"His own room," the man answers. "Cuffed to the bed."
SCHIFRIN dispatches three men into the building.
A series of screams ring out.
Out of the building comes a dark figure. SCHIFRIN'S men race towards the steps.
We see that the figure resembles a man in Mongol armor.
Then it assumes the form of WIRTH.
Realizing that his quarry has been devoured---only to take control of the thing which has eaten him---JAEGER stares in horror and disbelief.
There is, of course, no time to warn the inmates what they're up against; seeing their tormentor at the top of the steps, they open up with submachine guns and rifles. Dozens of dark splashes erupt from the figure, which swiftly disintegrates.
But over the steps washes a flood of black glistening foam.
JAEGER, SCHIFRIN and FREITAG dodge back. Others are caught by the foam, which pauses to dissolve them utterly. SCHIFRIN and the surviving escapees rush back through the gate, into the inmate lager; as a dense ground fog begins to crawl out of the surrounding pines and into the camp, JAEGER and FREITAG rush to the truck containing the disinfectant. The motor's still on; the driver and another man are slumped in the front, shot. JAEGER and his assistant toss the bodies out, then climb in. JAEGER swings the truck round, tries to drive past the foam. But the thing blocks their way. FREITAG jams on the brakes, throws the truck into reverse. The foam rushes after them, driving them back into the inmate lager, in among the barracks.
Passing fleeing inmates, they manage to outrun the foam, but the truck quickly sputters to a halt; they get out of the cab to discover that a bullet has penetrated the petrol-tank, which is empty now.
We hear screams and wails; flashes of gunfire light up the fog. Silhouettes come racing through the miasma, dash by.
"We should try to get into one of the barracks," JAEGER tells FREITAG. They start towards a building, halt as several inmates rush between them and it, screaming, turning and firing; a vague outline in the fog, one of the inmates drops, blasting away with his schmeisser, staccato flashes of light illuminating the mist. JAEGER and FREITAG flatten themselves against the truck. We hear bubbling and splashing, then the sound of a long liquid mass flowing along invisible in the near distance.
Once it passes, JAEGER says: "Back to the gate."
But hardly have they started back there when they hear the liquid returning through the fog; they enter a barracks-hall and close the door. We hear the liquid approach---as JAEGER and FREITAG hide under bunks, we see shadowy shapes like ocean swells moving outside the windows; the waves pause, press up against the glass as if the foam is looking inside, then sink down again. We hear the fluid pass beneath the barracks, see the floorboards heave upwards in spots, vapor curling up from between the planks. Then the bulges vanish and the sounds fade.
"It's Wirth now, isn't it?" FREITAG whispers to JAEGER.
"Yes," JAEGER replies.
"But how? Wasn't it---mostly---Zevi's followers? How could Wirth control them all?"
"By controlling Zevi," JAEGER answers. "Zevi was under this thumb when he was still alive."
"What about Zevi's powers?"
"Wirth might simply be the stronger personality---"
"There's got to be more to it than that," FREITAG says.
JAEGER shrugs. "Did you see the way it looked at first? On the top of the steps, before it took Wirth's shape?"
"Right out of one those plates in Ostmann's book," JAEGER says. "Who knows how many Mongols were in that grave?"
"And now they're Wirth's?"
"Or he's theirs. Perhaps he tipped the balance in their favor, or woke them up….Himmler always said we were their successors. What difference does it make? That thing has a reason to kill everyone in this camp, Jews, Germans---"
"The righteous and unrighteous alike---"
FREITAG breaks off as a door bursts open; in rushes SCHIFRIN with his daughter and several other inmates.
"Close the damn door!" JAEGER whispers, crawling out from under the bed.
SCHIFRIN rushes up to him, wild-eyed. "What is that thing?"
We cut to the SCHEISSMEISTER, who's sitting on his stool by the latrines, listening to the gunshots and watching the flashes of gunfire. An inmate rushes by him in the fog, smashes into one of the latrine doors and propels himself partway through the wood. Screaming, unable to extricate himself, he looks around wildly. The SCHEISSMEISTER comes over and tries to free him.
"What's all this, Isaac?" he asks.
"Something's after me," ISAAC says as the SCHEISSMEISTER pries him free.
"It's hunting Jews?" the SCHEISSMEISTER asks.
"Everyone!" ISAAC replies, and dashes off.
We hear something bubbling out in the fog, glimpse a dark unstable mass. The SCHEISSMEISTER hurls his clock at it, ducks into one of the latrines and closes the door. We hear the foam outside, sloshing closer and closer….
Cut back to the barracks. JAEGER is saying:
"If we can just hold out till morning…"
"You think it's afraid of light?" SCHIFRIN asks.
"So far, it's only been active after sunset," JAEGER says. "Some bacteria can't abide strong light---"
"Bacteria?" JUDITH demands. "Is that what we're talking about?"
JAEGER goes on: "These spirits, ghosts, whatever you like, have embodied themselves in the residue from the tests…"He pauses. "That must be why the thing attacked the experimental chamber. Destroyed the disinfectant…."
FREITAG says: "If we could lure it into a gas chamber…"
JAEGER nods. "And pump in disinfectant rather than carbon monoxide…"
"We should stay here and lie low," says SCHIFRIN. "You said it yourself, if we can hold out till dawn…"
"What if that thing survives?" JAEGER asks. "Suppose my superiors find it, and put it to use?"
"I think we don't have a chance to kill it," Schifrin says. "Escape is the best we can hope for."
"There is the matter of attaching the hose from the truck to the gas-intake," FREITAG says. "It would be quite a coincidence if they mated…"
"No," says the PIPE-FITTER, one of the inmates. "I worked on the test-chamber. They used the same design as the gas-chambers. All the intakes in the camp are standardized, and the one for the aerosol mated with the hose from the truck…"
"We'd be crazy to go out there," SCHIFRIN says.
"No need for everyone to go," JAEGER says. "Is there any petrol stored nearby?"
"Shed near the gunshed," the PIPE-FITTER replies. "Groundskeeping equipment. Couple of small tractors. They must have some petrol there."
"You're thinking of refueling the tanker?" FREITAG asks JAEGER. "What about that hole in the petrol-tank?"
"We'll just have to get to the gas-chambers before the petrol runs out," JAEGER replies, then asks the PIPE-FITTER: "Will you come with us?"
"How are you going to lure that thing into a gas-chamber?" the PIPE-FITTER asks.
"I think I know a way," JAEGER says---then cocks his head to one side. We hear sloshing outside; everyone gets down, slips under bunks. The waves reappear outside the window, sink down. We see the door opening, just glimpse the top of something black and glistening moving along behind the beds. We glimpse a dark mass between one inmate's back at the bottom of a bunk as the foam slides near; he thrusts himself up shrieking, knocking over the bunk----from a distance we see him flailing about wildly, black fluids flying from his arms, before he flops back down.
Looking to one side, JAEGER sees an inmate a few yards away scrabbling towards him under the beds; then a black gush slides over him. JAEGER climbs out from under, scrambles onto a bunk----FREITAG and the remaining inmates are doing likewise. We hear fluid rushing along underneath the bunks; suddenly the stuff bursts into view at the end of the hall, striking the wall and splashing up over the ceiling, doubling back towards JAEGER and the others…
Leaping from bed to bed, JAEGER and FREITAG bolt for the door; they manage to escape, along with JUDITH, her father, and the PIPEFITTER. Dashing through dense fog, they crawl under another barracks, losing the foam for the moment.
The PIPEFITTER leads the group to the equipment shed. It's padlocked, but SCHIFRIN'S got his lockpicking tools. He opens the shed. JAEGER, FREITAG, and the PIPEFITTER go in looking for petrol.
As SCHIFRIN waits outside, we see the grass near his feet withering, bubbling fluid rising out of the ground. He howls with pain; we see his pantlegs darkening, black stains crawling upwards. Judith rushes towards him, stops in her tracks; black stains open over his stomach, and we can see his clothes swelling as the foam eats into his abdomen, penetrating him.
"JAEGER," he says.
JAEGER emerges from the shed with FREITAG and the PIPE-FITTER, the latter carrying a jerrican.
"Go," JAEGER says.
They dash off.
"No one will ever know, Jaeger," says WIRTH, from inside SCHIFRIN. "You'll die here, tonight, your scandal stillborn. I'll present myself to the higher-ups, and they'll be delighted to use me. I'll be Hitler's darling again. And you---you'll be in here with me. With us---"Vapor bursting from its throat, the corpse starts forward.
Suddenly, someone lunges at it from the side, swinging a piece of wood; the corpse's head splatters in an explosion of foam. JAEGER gapes in shock.
He's just been saved by the SCHEISSMEISTER.
But the SCHEISSMEISTER is ankle-deep in bubbling mud, and sinking fast; JAEGER reaches towards him, tries to pull him clear; there's a horrible, gurgling roar, and a huge mass of foam gushes up, enveloping the SCHEISSMEISTER.
JAEGER dashes away, the foam gushing close behind him.
We cut to FREITAG, JUDITH, and the PIPE-FITTER. The jerrican they found is barely one-third full; after shoving a rag into the hole in the petrol-tank, they pour the gas in. FREITAG leaps behind the wheel, JUDITH beside him, the pipe-fitter clinging to the cab on the passenger's side.
We see the rag in the gas-tank---it's synthetic, and the gas melts it through in a matter of seconds.
FREITAG starts the truck up---just as he pulls away, gas streaming from the petrol-tank, JAEGER runs up, and jumps up onto the driver's side running board.
Outdistancing the foam, plowing through barbed-wire fences, FREITAG gets the truck into the totenlager just as the gas is running out---as the engine sputters to a halt, he pulls up alongside the bank of Soviet tank engines that have been used to fill the gas-chambers with carbon-monoxide.
Our protagonists scramble to attach the hose from the tanker to one of the gas intakes; then, as the PIPEFITTER takes up position by the truck and the foam approaches through the fog, JAEGER sends JUDITH and FREITAG into the gas-chamber block, then stands at the entrance, in front of the veil which reads: This is the gateway to God; the righteous man shall pass through.
As the fluid crawls near out of the mist, it suddenly descends into the earth, as though sensing a trap; JAEGER steps back through the veil and over the threshold.
All at once the stuff comes gushing up inside the veil, pouring through the door; as JAEGER retreats, it takes the form of a huge open-mouthed face, which shifts back and forth between WIRTH'S countenance and what might be the face of a Mongol shaman---JAEGER backs into an open chamber at the end of the hall. We see him retreating across the floor, finally coming up against the steel wall; through the door comes the face, a huge mass of foam sliding in behind it---in his hatred for JAEGER, WIRTH casts caution aside and enters the trap.
We cut to another gas chamber, where FREITAG and JUDITH are watching through the porthole of the not-quite closed hatch. Seeing the last of the foam slide into the first chamber, they rush out to pull the other hatch shut. As the door begins to move, the thing realizes at last what's happening; it starts to swing round, too late. The door booms to, the wheel turns, the lock engages.
The thing turns back towards JAEGER. He's still up against the wall, calmly lighting a cigarette.
The huge face eyes the drain in the center of the floor; the thing realizes, apparently, that the hole's too small for it to escape in time. Then, venting an awesome roar, it shoots towards JAEGER, who sneers, takes a puff of his cigarette---and vanishes under a tidal wave of black foam.
"Now!" FREITAG shouts. "Now!"
Hearing FREITAG'S cries, the PIPEFITTER fires up the pump on the truck. Inside the hose, then the intake pipe, we see disinfectant shooting towards the gas-chamber---FREITAG and JUDITH look in through the porthole in the door, see disinfectant gushing from the showerheads. The foam begins to heave, to twist upon itself, shrinking, as the gas-bubbles burst. The black mass begins to hurl itself against the walls, the ceiling, the door. We see WIRTH'S face, and the MONGOL'S, crashing into the porthole and splashing apart, again and again---each time they re-form, the features grow less distinct. Finally the chamber fills with greyish vapor as the now-lifeless liquid flows down the drain.
The PIPEFITTER comes up the hall."Did it work?" he asks.
FREITAG nods, takes a last glance through the porthole. We see ghostly shapes in the vapor, JAEGER, SCHIFRIN, the SCHEISSMEISTER, a host of others.
"Look!" Freitag tells Judith.
The phantoms linger an instant longer. Then they melt from view.
The scene fades to the Swiss border at Constanz; FREITAG, in civilian dress and carrying blank marching orders, crosses over and asks to meet with the British Consul. In a subsequent meeting, he tells British and American representatives what he has seen. When they refuse to believe a word of what he has to say about the extermination system, he doesn't even bother to tell them about the events at Poniatowa, and returns to Germany to carry on JAEGER'S work.
In a postscript we learn:
"From mid 1943 till the end of the war, the SS Special Court ZBV indicted eight hundred concentration camp personnel on charges ranging from corruption to the murder or inmates, securing two hundred convictions; among those sentenced were commandants of Hertogenbosch, Plascow, Warsaw, Buchenwald, and Dachau, and the head of the Auschwitz Gestapo, who oversaw the gassings at Birkenau."