Nothing is Sacrosanct

By David E Balaam

Crime & mystery, Romance

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1115
6 mins

Chapter 1

PART ONE
Chapter One
1969
Daniel Mace stirred from his induced sleep. His vision was blurred, his head was throbbing with pain and he could feel a burning sensation on the side of his neck.

Somewhere in the distance he thought he could hear the faint sound of laughter and clapping. His eyes, still blurred, picked out the lined red, green and brown flocked pattern wallpaper on the stairs, although, something within his numb cerebral cortex, combined with his blurred vision, couldn't remember the pattern having a brown stripe. He blinked several times to focus, and it took a few moments for the adrenaline to kick in - and it did, as soon as he realised his predicament. Daniel Mace was tied and gagged, sitting on the first floor landing of his house looking directly at a brown rope hanging from the open loft door – unmistakably a hangman’s noose.

He looked around in fear, trying to call out to no avail. The first glimpse of his abductor was when the bathroom door opened. “Hello, Daniel. Sorry to keep you waiting.” Said a cold calculated voice.

Daniel Mace murmured uncontrollably, not knowing what on-earth this intruder was talking about. The stranger, with an unusual accent and polite smile, stood in front of Mace for a few moments looking at the pathetic man; pleased with himself he had achieved this much. He was now sure the final act would go smoothly, and his undertaking would be complete. The stranger sat opposite Mace and leaned back against the wooden landing uprights. He crossed his legs, looking relaxed as he re-stretched the Latex gloves on each hand whilst giving Mace a disturbing smile.

“Daniel,” he finally said, in a measured tone, “let me tell you why I am here.” The stranger's face tightened and his smile dissolved. “You've been naughty, haven't you, Daniel. Very naughty.”

Chapter 2

1979 December
Marcus was lying on his bed, naked, allowing Rosa to give him a massage. “I was thinking of Isabel and Charlie,” he said casually. Rosa stopped massaging his unique hairless chest. She was also naked, straddling his lower abdomen, his penis partially erect due to the massaging. Rosa looked at Marcus suspiciously. “You said it was a one-off, no more. You promised,” she said, with a concerned that touched Marcus. He leaned forward and cupped her face with his right hand. “I thought you liked them. You said they were willing and responsive . . . your words, my angel.”

Rosa sighed and took hold of Marcus’s semi-erect penis and started to massage it. She worked her hand up and down expertly, as she had been taught, and he remembered how he had found her, and how much fun it had been teaching her many things, just those five short years ago.

His thoughts drifted back to his youth and his family, and those black times during the war. He placed his hand over Rosa's hand. “Not there. Not just now, my love,” he said, sombrely. Rosa nodded, and returned to work on his chest, pouring warm scented oil on his stomach, then working her hands rhythmically over his glistening torso. He let Rosa continue her expert manipulation as he closed his eyes, remembering, as he did from time to time, how lucky he had been, escaping from occupied Austria.

The allies’; Russia, France, America and Britain had divided his country into four zones. Marcus’s family had lived in the south-east province of Styria, in the small village of Mariahof, which was in the British sector. Although remote, the allies quickly spread over the newly liberated state, and found the young Marcus alone in his parent’s large country Schloss. The commanding officer who came upon the isolated house that day in June 1945 found a woman hanging from the kitchen rafters.

Further inspection of the rooms found a young boy aged about ten years old, shivering and hiding in one of the bedrooms' dressing rooms, huddled behind a row of women's dresses. The officer who found him asked him his name. The boy had said nothing, preferring to stare into space, squatting on the floor with arms folded, shivering and afraid.

The boy was taken to an internment camp where he was cleaned and fed and then interrogated by British military officers, in particular a Major Ferris. However, at all the interviews, even with German speaking personnel, the boy refused to answer any questions. A few weeks later Marcus was informed his father had been captured by the Russians and executed as an SS Officer. Marcus showed no emotion on receiving this news, but inwardly was joyous and relieved that he was now also free of his father, but wondered why there was no word from his brother. Surely, now the war was over, Marius would come and take him home where they would be safe, and play together like they did when he was younger.

They questioned Marcus for days, wanting to know how his mother hanged herself, especially as her hands had been cut off at the wrists. Marcus acted the dumb orphan and just stared at his accusers with his bright steel blue eyes until they realised the interrogation was going nowhere.

As a minor, his captors were undecided what to do with him. Several translators were unable to get anything out of him, and stopped short of beating him. Later, Marcus thanked God he had not been in the Russian or American sectors – he was not sure how he would have fared with their interrogation methods.

After four weeks of intensive questioning, an army doctor intervened. He had been supervising Marcus’s condition since his arrival, and insisted on being present during the questioning. He also spoke some German so was able to communicate with Marcus on a different level, as a friend, rather than an inquisitor.

He would bring chocolate bars and treats to Marcus in his dormitory and talk to him quietly, gaining his trust. Marcus distrusted any close associations after his enslavement by his parents. He assumed all adults were child molesters, no matter how caring they seemed to be.

But Dr. Nathan Star was kind and compassionate to Marcus, and slowly gained his trust. He gave him errands to run and tried to keep him busy, until he gradually succumbed to a more normal way of life, if that was even possible in what was nothing less than a detention camp for displaced people.

After a while, Dr Star gave him a job as an orderly in the medical unit. There he had access to fresh clothes, regular hot meals and even started to interact with other normal decent people. By now he had learnt some English and was able to converse a little - with those he chose to. The population of the displacement camp dwindled over time when relatives had been found or they were allowed to leave having been cleared of any atrocities. One day Dr Star took Marcus to one side. “Marcus, they want to hand you over to the police, in Vienna.” Dr Star spoke slowly so Marcus could understand what he was being told. “The death of your mother is still unexplained, but Major Ferris says it is now a civil matter.”

“I will not go,” is all Marcus would say, looking Dr Star defiantly in the eyes. Rosa was still massaging him, and he sighed with pleasure at her gentle touch. Dr Nathan Star had argued on behalf of Marcus as to why the boy was to be handed over, but he was stone-walled every time. “Don’t interfere, doctor. See to the sick.” Was the retort from the commanding officer.

Dr Star’s tour of duty was coming to an end and he was looking forward to going home – back to his wife and five year old daughter, Barbara, whom he had not seen for over a year. The day came. Several of his colleagues were travelling with him and they were to depart by bus to Graz, then a plane to Berne, and finally a flight back to London.

Accompanying them were two gravely wounded men; one a soldier and one a civilian, who needed urgent treatment at the Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead in England, where new and successful techniques were being carried out on burns victims. However, the day before departure the young civilian patient died in the middle of the night from trauma. Dr Star was called but nothing could be done for the young man, but there was something he could do for someone else.

With the help of a trusted nurse they swapped the identities of the dead patient with Marcus’s, and bandaged Marcus’s face and arms so he could not be recognised. Six medical staff and two patients left the camp the following day as planned, and arrived back in England four days later. As Marcus's stretcher was carried out to the waiting truck, an orderly was overheard to say, “Blimey, this guy weighs a ton.”

Marcus stayed with Dr Star and his family in Surrey as their adopted son, although nothing was officially recorded. He went to the local school and sung in the church choir, and was very quick to learn. By the time he was eighteen he was fluent in five languages and had a good head for maths. In 1953 an old friend of Dr Star, who worked at the London Stock Exchange, took Marcus on as an apprentice 'Trader'.

A few days after Dr Star's departure, Major Ferris requested his sergeant to bring Marcus to him for transfer to Vienna, but was informed he could not be found. “What do you mean, sergeant? He has to be here somewhere. Bring me Doctor Star.” He bellowed. The Sergeant seemed unmoved by his superiors’ outburst. “Sir, Dr Star left four days ago to return to the UK. His replacement has not arrived yet.”

Ferris stared momentarily, analysing this information. “Who left with him, sergeant?”

“Doctor Freeman, nurse Anne Cowell, nurse Sally Peters, anaesthetist Raymond Smith and two patients on stretchers, being transferred to a burns hospital in England, sir.”

“What were their names?” Ferris asked.

“Private Banner and an Austrian civilian, Herr Rosenberg. He was badly burnt in a fire two weeks ago if you remember, sir.” Ferris sat thoughtfully tapping his fingers on the desk. “Sergeant, do a thorough search for Marcus von Hartstein. He has to be somewhere in this camp.”

Nathan Star and his wife were the only ones who knew Marcus's true story, and they took it with them to their graves when they died in a car crash in 1956. Marcus knew he would tell Rosa, as he had Barbara, the same story one day – when the time was right.

It seemed longer than five years ago since Marcus had rescued Rosa from her own nightmare in Armenia, and wondered what would have happened to her if he had left her there to fend for herself.

He felt the warmth of Rosa as she manoeuvred herself into him. “You were asleep I think,” she said playfully. “What where you dreaming about? You started to mumble something.”

“I was . . . remembering. I was remembering how lucky I have been. I do want to help those two young people, Isabel and Charlie, and I want you to help me. Will you do that for me, my dear Rosa?”

Rosa cocked her head to one side and smiled. “You know I cannot refuse you anything, Marcus. When do we start?”



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