Thanks as always to my Sweet Inspiration blackrandl1958 for her guidance and of course her editing.
Nathan woke up in a cold sweat.
He had the dream again. THAT dream.
The endless lines of grey people: men, women, children, shuffling past, casting their accusing looks at him.
He was frozen in place, unable to turn away, as they moved past, gradually moving closer until he started awake.
The dream started soon after the liberation of Buchenwald. At first, it was very vague, just snatches of scenes, as if in an avant-garde movie. Just as it was beginning to become more coherent, he met Sophie, and she seemed to be a calming influence, the short scenes only rarely making their presence known.
There was a disturbing reoccurrence around the eighteenth anniversary of the liberation, and he almost sought psychiatric help, but Sophie was able to settle him down.
He was looking forward to the arrival of his family for the Passover Seder. It was always a joyous time for Nathan, when his big empty house was filled with the sounds of life instead of the echoes of death.
It was now 54 years since the liberation of Buchenwald, 18 years since the death of his beloved Sophie, and the dream was coming more often. Even when he didn’t have it, the fear of it kept him from a restful sleep.
He had spent the last couple of days going through the house, making sure it was cleaned of chometz, the leavened foods unfit for Passover. Whatever was useful was donated to the local food-bank, the rest either thrown away or tossed out for the birds.
All was ready. All he needed to do was wait. Wait and wonder if this would be the end. His end.
Nathan’s great granddaughter Judith had taken up painting a few years previously, and she enjoyed the feeling of letting go and just painting what she felt, rather than trying to reproduce a specific image. It was a great stress relief from the burdens of her college classes, and she wished that she could allow herself more time, but it was time to go, so she packed up her paints and headed out.
She hummed softly to herself as she walked along, enjoying the early-spring New England weather as she headed to her Kabbalah class.
While raised in a Reform Jewish family, in college she had been drawn to studying the Kabbalah, especially Practical Kabbalah, the white magic aspect, and had recently started more formal studies.
Oddly, the class was held in the study of the local Unitarian Universalist Church. rather than a Jewish Temple. Apparently, the group leader had run afoul of the local Rabbis, and found a welcoming space at the church; in fact, several of the students were members of the church.
Judith found a comfortable chair, set her bookbag down and pulled out the text that they were going to be studying that evening.
Suddenly, the door opened and a young man entered. He appeared to be around her age, and was quite good-looking, but with a great sadness in his eyes.
He shook hands with the leader, and found himself a seat.
“Class,” the leader said, “This is Jakob Wise. He is relatively new to the study of the Kabbalah and will be joining us. Please make him feel welcome.”
There were the usual murmurs of welcome, then they all returned to their own thoughts, but she found herself somehow drawn to him. She had to shake it off as their leader began the class.
At the end of the class, she exchanged a shy smile with Jakob as they went their separate ways.
There was something about the sadness that seemed to surround Jakob that was somehow affecting her.
She started having dreams, troubling dreams. Not nightmares, exactly, but not pleasant dreams either.
Could her Kabbalah studies have brought them on? She hoped not; she really enjoyed the classes, and truth be told, was quite taken by Jakob!
After Jakob had come to a few classes he got up his nerve and asked Judith to join him for coffee after class. Hoping that she didn’t seem too anxious, Judith accepted.
“So, what bring you to the study of Kabbalah, Jakob?” Judith asked.
Jakob was hesitant.
“Please don’t think I’m weird, but I’ve been having some strange dreams. Nothing that I can put my finger on, and I’m hoping I can get some insights.”
“That’s funny, because I’ve been having some strange dreams as well,” Judith said.
“Can you describe yours?” Jakob asked.
“Not really. Like yours, they’re very indistinct.
“So, tell me about yourself, Jakob.”
“There’s not much to tell. I come from a typical middle-class Jewish family. I guess you’d call my family Reform, but we’re actually pretty much lapsed. The Holocaust pretty much crushed our belief in God.”
“I know what you mean. My great-grandfather just barely escaped before coming to America after the war.”
“For me, it was my grandfather, Simon Weismann...”
“Wait a minute,” Judith said, “I thought your name was Wise.”
“It is. It got changed by immigration. What’s the problem?”
“My great grandfather’s name is Nathan Weismann. Could we be related?” Judith said hoping that it wasn’t true.
“I don’t see how, though it’s an amazing coincidence.”
“What do you mean?”
“My great grandfather’s name was also Nathan, but he died in the camps, so unless there’s some distant connection, it must just be a coincidence.”
Judith nodded her agreement, though she felt an odd chill run through her.
“Will you be at class next week?” Jakob asked.
“No, we’ll be going up to my great-grandfather’s place in New Hampshire for Passover, but I’ll definitely be back the following week.”
“Great, I’ll see you then. Happy Passover.”
“Happy Passover to you, too, Jakob,” she said as they went their separate ways.
That weekend, Judith went to her favorite spot to work on her paintings, but she was troubled.
Usually, her paintings were light, full of bright vibrant colors. Recently, however, all her paintings were dark: shades of black and grey, with occasional splashes of red.
The subjects were indistinct, vaguely, but not quite human. She couldn’t seem to paint what she wanted; it was like she was under someone else’s control.
She couldn’t understand it, but it was a problem for another day, it was time to go.
Judith packed up her paints, folded up her easel and headed off home.
After dinner Judith tried to return to her studies, but thoughts of Jakob kept intruding. Finally, she closed her book, rubbed her eyes, and tried to rest.
Her meditations had been increasingly bringing her into a mystic state, and of late she had been sensing a ... presence. It both frightened and intrigued her, and her curiosity far out-weighed her concerns.
She dimmed the lights in her bedroom, lit a candle, and settled back into the pillows supporting her at the head of her bed.
Closing her eyes, she had just settled into her meditation when she felt it, stronger than ever. She resisted the urge to open her eyes, then felt it again. It was the faintest fleeting touch, as if a feather had been drawn across her nipples. She sighed and reclined her head into the pillows. It came again, and she felt her nipples growing erect, crinkling as if exposed to cool air. Her pussy was starting to moisten when she was drawn out of her reverie by a knock on her door.
“Judith,” her mother said, “don’t stay up too late. We have to hit the road early; it’s a long drive to Grandpa Nathan’s.”
“Yes, Mom,” Judith said with typical teenage exasperation.
Frustrated by the loss of the moment, she blew out the candle. She pulled her favorite vibrator out of her nightstand drawer, and brought herself to a couple of satisfying orgasms, but she was still on edge as she fell into a fitful sleep.
Jakob was having his own troubled dreams.
Ever since his twin brother was killed the day after their double Bar Mitzvah, he felt haunted by him, especially in his dreams. Recently the dreams were of a sexual nature, and he often woke up to find that he had come in his sleep.
More recently he thought that he could sense a female presence, but no matter how he tried, he couldn’t seem to make contact.
As he told Judith, the dreams were what had driven him to the Kabbalah classes, hoping that they would help him make some sense of them.
Judith was an added complication. He felt a connection with her that he had never felt before, even though they had just met. The similarities in their family backgrounds both fascinated and scared him; he could already see a possible future for them, but was concerned about the possible blood relationship.
Hopefully, that would be resolved before things went too far.
“Slap, slap, slap,” went the windshield wipers, barely keeping pace with the rain on I-95 as Joshua Weismann, his wife, Leah, and daughter, Judith, made their annual pilgrimage to his Grandfather’s estate in New Hampshire for the Passover Seder.
He hated this trip. Although it defied logic, it seemed like the weather always sucked. A crack of thunder followed closely by a flash of lightning brought his mind back to his driving.
He could never figure out why his grandfather bought the monstrosity of a house.
It was in the middle of nowhere, and for an observant Jew, it was odd that he chose to live isolated from any Jewish community. The only concession he made to normal Jewish life was to visit some of the nearest temples on the High Holy Days, and the Passover Seder that he presided over every year.
Joshua often wondered why Nathan didn’t join one specific synagogue.
His parents and his brother and sister’s families lived in Nashua, the closest city to Nathan’s estate, and had tried for years to involve him in the Jewish community there, but eventually gave up.
Joshua happened to glance at his gas gauge. It was nearly empty! How could that be, he had filled up before they left Connecticut? Ah, well, there was nothing he could do about it now except to look for a gas station.
There didn’t seem to be any rest areas along this stretch of the highway, but he saw a sign for a gas station up ahead, right at their exit.
It was rather run down, it didn’t even have “pay at the pump,” but it did have an attendant who spared him the bother of getting out in the rain.
“Fill ‘er up, sir?” asked the attendant.
“Yes, please,” Joshua said.
“So, where you headed; we don’t get much traffic these days.”
“We’re heading for my grandfather’s house for Passover.”
“Passover? We don’t have many Jewish folks around here. Just old Mr. Weismann.”
“That’s right. That’s my grandfather, Nathan Weismann.”
The attendant’s face went pale and he looked at the pump, seemingly to try and will it to pump faster. He breathed a sigh of relief when it clicked off, and ran into the office to run Joshua’s credit card.
He ran back out and shifted uneasily from foot to foot while Joshua signed the slip. He handed the receipt and card back to Joshua and was never so happy to see a customer take off.
He hadn’t been to church for quite awhile, but crossed himself and made a promise to go to church the very next Sunday.
While nobody could ever say anything specific, the Weismann house spooked a lot of people. His brother nearly lost his job when he refused to deliver a pizza the previous month. He said a silent prayer for the family in the car, then hustled back in out of the rain.
Joshua was puzzled by the way the attendant acted, but decided it wasn’t really his problem, and went back to concentrating on his driving.
Finally, the house came into sight. Despite Grandfather keeping it in a good state of repair, somehow, it always looked like a good wind would knock it over.
As usual, they were the last to arrive. When they lugged their suitcases up onto the porch, it creaked.
When his brother Amos opened the front door, the hinges squeaked as always. He made his annual request that Nathan get some WD-40, and Nathan insisted that he had just oiled it, but still it squeaked.
As Judith passed through the door she felt a strange, but not altogether unfamiliar presence. How it got there she would have to deal with later.
Judith was not alone in her feelings, as Kabbalistic energy surged through the house, rousing the spirit within, giving it renewed strength and power.
Despite the housekeeper’s best efforts, the house always had a musty smell. Nathan’s family kept looking for cobwebs to wipe away, but they were never there, just a creepy chill that never seemed to go away.
After putting their luggage in their rooms, Joshua, Leah and Judith joined the rest of the clan for dinner. It was a relatively quiet affair, despite the number of people, as everyone was brought up-to-date on their lives.
“I don’t know about anyone else, but that drive took a lot out of me. I think I’m going to make it an early night,” Joshua said, and the rest of the family followed soon after.
Judith was tired and ready for bed.
Her parents had allowed her some wine, not too much, but it was enough to give her a slight buzz. She lit her candle, opened her book on the Kabbalah and began her meditation, but was soon asleep with the book open on her breast.
She nearly awoke with a jolt when she felt his presence. His presence? She had never thought of it as having any particular sex before.
The presence was very strong, even stronger than the previous night. A gentle hand seemed to stroke her cheek, urging her back to sleep. The feather’s touch was replaced by a firm, cool hand, once again causing her nipples to grow ever more erect.
In the dream, she wandered, feeling those feather-light touches, the caresses becoming firmer, more insistent. Heat built within her and she felt his fingers trailing down her body, over the rise of her mons, as if she were unclothed. The breath of sensation moved over her and she could feel his body, the heat of him, and a strange chill as well.
Her moisture began to flow and the fingers traced their way through her slickness, her need rising and overwhelming all else. She needed him, this lover, and in her drifting on the waves of passion the thought of being taken, possessed, was so powerful that she spread her thighs, giving him access. She was ready, beyond ready, writhing and in heat for this lover.
The cock. She felt it. It seemed huge, it’s hardness on her, then sliding within her as she cried out her passion, the exquisite touch almost painful in its intensity. She felt the size and power, plunging into her as she peaked, crying out in wordless pleasure as she felt the pulsation of her lover, flooding her with his warmth as she came. She floated on the sensation, the dream ebbing, and she slept.
It could have been only moments, or it might have been hours, and she suddenly became aware. Realization flooded in and she sat up. There was nothing. Only the whisper of the breeze from the open window. Open? She was sure she had closed it before going to bed.
Her lover was gone. What lover? she asked herself. This was madness. Was she losing her mind?
Nathan’s dream, or was it a nightmare, came again, stronger than ever. There was one man, his face very familiar to Nathan, who approached very close, never speaking a word, but his accusing glare spoke volumes.
He tried to wake up, to end the nightmare, but he couldn’t. He could feel the bodies all around him, their bony hands grasping at him, beseeching him, as the familiar face continued to haunt him, coming ever closer.
At the moment of Judith’s orgasm, a surge of energy penetrated Nathan’s dream, giving his spirit demon more strength to attack Nathan. Nathan fought with all the strength in his soul, and was sure that he was about to lose the battle, when Leah’s knock on his door broke the spell.
“Nathan,” she said, “it’s time to wake up. Everyone’s getting ready for breakfast.”
“I’ll be down in just a few minutes, Leah, thank you.”
Nathan sat on the edge of his bed, his head in his hands. Would this nightmare never end? It had been 54 years, and if anything it was getting stronger.
He struggled to his feet, and unsteadily, made his way to the kitchen where fried matzoh was served, as usual on Passover mornings.
The day passed uneventfully, as everyone waited for sundown, then they all entered the dining room where the table was set with the special china and silverware that were only used at Passover.
The Seder Plate was ready with all the symbolic foods of Passover, the shank bone, egg, maror, karpas and charoset, and the entire family was seated with their Haggadahs, waiting only for Nathan to begin the ritual meal.
After his daughter Rachel said the blessing and lit the candles, Nathan said the opening blessing, and began retelling the story of the Israelites freedom from bondage that all observant Jews do every year at that time.
When it came time to recite the Ten Plagues visited upon the Egyptians, Blood, Frogs, Lice, Wild Beasts, Pestilence, Boils, Hail, Locust, Darkness, and Slaying of the First-Born, the participants poured out a drop of wine as each plague was named, in recognition that the Israelites freedom came at the expense of other’s suffering.
Nathan was horrified as each drop of his wine looked like a drop of blood as it hit the plate. He glanced nervously around the table, but he alone seemed to notice.
When Rachel told her son to open the door for Elijah, the door blew open by itself, startling everyone.
“Must be the wind,” Rachel’s husband, Matthew, said, though the day was completely calm.
As the Seder continued, Nathan noticed that the wine in Elijah’s Cup kept going down. Even though he kept refilling the cup, by the end of the Seder it was empty, and Nathan felt a chill run through him.
After the younger children were sent off to search for the afikomen, the piece of matzoh set aside for the dessert, a great chill came over the room. The electric lights flickered and died, leaving only the candles to provide eerie illumination. Looking around the room, Nathan saw that everyone was frozen in place, except for him and his great granddaughter, Judith.
“Grandpa Nathan,” Judith said, frightened, “what’s happening”
Nathan was surprisingly calm as he saw the man from his dreams, staring at him with unblinking eyes. He knew that it was time to unburden himself.
He rose up, and taking Judith by the hand, led her to a small table with two chairs and a single flickering candle.
After Judith sat down, he seated himself in the other chair and began his story.
“Oberstleutnant Hans Steiner wasn’t a Nazi in his heart,” he began. “Oh, he belonged to the Party. That was necessary if he wanted to rise in the ranks. To coin a cliche, one of his best friends was Jewish; he had even attended his wedding and yelled “Mazel Tov” with everyone else when he broke the glass at the end of the ceremony, and was one of the men who hoisted him on the chair as they danced the Hora.
“But that all ended with Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, when it was not safe to be associated with anyone Jewish. His friend was, of course, disappointed, but seemed to understand, and wished Hans well.”
“Was this man a friend of yours, Grandpa Nathan?” Judith asked. “Was he in the camps with you?”
Nathan’s eyes brimmed with tears.
“Let me finish my story, Judith. All will become clear.”
Judith was puzzled, but nodded her agreement.
“Just before shipping out he made one last visit to see his friend, but he couldn’t be found and the door to his home was smashed in. He asked a neighbor what had happened, and was shocked by the answer.
“‘The Brown Shirts came and rounded up the greedy kikes. Good riddance to bad rubbish, I say!’
“Despite his shock, Hans managed a blank look and gave the man a silent nod. Although the man didn’t recognize Hans in his uniform, Hans knew him. He was a friend of Hans’ Jewish friend, or so Hans thought; they had all hoisted many a stein of beer together.
“Hans turned and made his way to the train station. He had no idea where his friend had been taken, but he was going to find out all too soon.
“He kept hearing about something called the “Final Solution,” and was shocked that it involved the extermination of the Jews, but had no time to worry about it as he fought hard and rose to the rank of Oberstleutnant.
“He had learned enough to try to avoid his transfer to Buchenwald, but there was nothing he could do...”
Judith couldn’t restrain herself.
“He worked in the death camps? He was a monster!”
A cold chill ran through Nathan as he patted Judith’s hands to calm her down.
“The conditions were even worse than he expected,” he continued, “and his few tentative efforts to improve the treatment of the prisoners were met with such disdain that he quickly abandoned them.
“While not a death camp as such, many prisoners were worked to death, executed if they wouldn’t work, or died from disease or starvation. He was shocked at what he saw.
“He was a “good” German, and believed in the basic goodness of the German people, but that belief was sorely shaken, if not totally destroyed by the horrors he witnessed.
“There were vicious beatings, daily, for little or even no reason. Some of the guards took to shooting random prisoners just for “sport.”
“Disease was rampant, medical care non-existent.
“Hans was stunned to see his old friend shuffling along, and when their eyes met he looked pleadingly to Hans, but Hans couldn’t bear to look and turned away, guiltily.
“His guilt ate away at his fear until, despite the danger, Hans did what he could for his old friend. He tried to get him assigned to the easier work details, though that was pretty much an oxymoron, and slipped him some extra food and clothing whenever he could.
“Despite his meager efforts. Hans watched his friend wither away until the dreadful day when he approached the barracks and found that his friend had been taken away by the guards, and he never saw him again.
“In early April 1945, word came down that the Allies were advancing and to evacuate the camp.
“Hans was no fool, and had a good idea of what might happen if he were captured, and came up with a devious plan. He looked up his friend’s records, and scratched the number into his forearm, rubbing some ink into it, hoping it would look enough like a tattoo to fool people.
“He scrounged up a dirty prisoner uniform and put it on, burning his own uniform and identification.
“Taking advantage of the confusion surrounding the evacuation, he snuck out of the camp and made his way West, towards the advancing American troops. Barely escaping getting shot, he was taken in by the troops and gave them his friend’s name. He attributed his relatively good condition to working in the camp kitchen and stealing extra food.
“He eventually made his way to the US, and used his knowledge of Judaism gleaned from his friendship with Nathan to blend into the Jewish community, though he was careful not to get too close, lest his deception be revealed.”
“Wait, Grandpa Nathan,” Judith said. “You said his friendship with Nathan. Are you saying that Hans was your friend?”
Nathan looked over at the spirit, then looked down at his hands, and heaved a great sigh, then looked up with tear-filled eyes, and breathed a silent prayer that Judith would forgive him.
“No. I’m saying that Nathan was my friend. I am Hans, and have been living a lie for the past 54 years.”
Judith was stunned. This couldn’t be true. Her great-grandfather, the observant Jew who almost disowned Rachel for marrying a non-Jew until his late wife Sophie stepped in, a Nazi? One who served in a concentration camp? It was beyond comprehension.
A chill spread through the house again and the lights flickered briefly before going out again...
The spirit moved from behind Judith to float between Judith and her great grandfather.