For The Sake Of Our Lives

3rd in the 'Story Writing Comp 2000' competition

I could not hear him, but I knew he was there. Soundlessly I got out of bed and stood in the middle of the room, listening intently. Sounds of Anton, Josef and Wenzel’s rhythmic breathing confirmed that they were sound asleep. From the floor I took my coat and put it on. Taking my shoes I hung them around my neck, their laces being tied together. Silently, I moved toward the window. Thankfully, while opening, it made no squeak. I hauled myself up onto the sill and gracefully as a cat I slipped out, descending to the gravel not far below.

“Johann, Shhh”, Matthias whispered a hiss for silence once I’d landed.
“Where are you!” I couldn’t see.
“Here. I know you can’t see yet, your eyes will adjust soon”.
In seconds I could see certain shapes, blurred contrasts of black and white. Matthias stood before me, his pale face sunk back into shadows where his deep black Slavic eyes were.
“Come on”. Matt was slightly impatient, I didn’t blame him.

Matthias led, I could just see him. I guessed, from the surrounding shapes I could see and the feel of the earth beneath, that we were now trudging through the forest. We walked for ages, not speaking.

Suddenly Matthias grabbed me, shoving me to the earth.
“What….”?
“Shhh”. Obeying Matt’s command I guessed he knew what he was doing. We lay side by side, face down in the marshy ground of the decomposing leaves. There was pure silence for but a moment, then the squish of big black boots on mud, getting closer. My mind went dizzy, the world became like a blur, we’re going to be caught! Fear ran through my veins, I could do nothing. I knew the boots had trod on Matthias. I thought that was it, but Matthias made no sound. My body relaxed again as the boot sounds disappeared. Daring not to move, I waited for Matthias to speak. Suddenly, he stood up pulling me up also.

“They’re out there, we’ve got to run”, Matthias whispered desperately. We did run. I was scared, so scared. Fear fed my legs power to run, my heart thumped ferociously. Lights were up ahead, I could hear dogs. The soldiers were there.

I heard the powerful gushing of a stream. Not expecting it at all, a rough push shoved me into the stream. Freezing cold burned my body. Struggling, I forced my head above the surface.

“Duck, NOW!” Over the noise of the deep stream I heard Matt’s yell. Ducking with all my strength, my eyes tight shut, I didn’t know what to expect. Then I knew Matthias and I had passed through the border safely. We were free.

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