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The chained groups milled together below the platform until soldiers motioned for them to move past it. Moving in awkward clusters, they were guided to a set of wagons by the train and stopped there. As the new hostages watched -- and were watched by armed guards -- people in pale yellow shirts and pants emerged from behind the train station and offloaded the supplies from all six of the cattle cars. The supplies were a wide variety of items, and the people doing the work were just as varied, though they mostly had the common theme of not-white. They quietly piled the supplies in large, wheeled carts. Though their clothing matched, they each had a large triangle on their back in various colors, mostly green. Once the carts were full, the soldiers pushed the chain gangs into motion. In short time, both ends of their chains were connected to the front of the cart. “I think we’re mules now,” Carl muttered to the others as he eyed their wagon loads. “I think mules would be treated better,” Graham growled, taking a grip on his chains. Jenny and Jeannie looked down at their high heels and then at each other, their expressions scared. “What happens if we can’t pull?” Jenny whispered to her sister. “We’ll help,” Sean said. “We’ll cover for you.” The future wives were left in a bunch on the platform with the other soldiers hovering nearby them. The four men who had traveled with them looked as lost as they did, although they were also clearly excited and eager for whatever came next. Siobhán spent a long time looking for the producers, or their assistant, or even a visible camera so that the operator could get her someone in charge. No one materialized however, and on one sweep around the area, her eyes fell on a familiar face. Even as she registered Juno’s presence, a loudspeaker clicked on and a voice spoke in rapid German. “What’s going on?” Sarah asked, her voice warbling with fear and tears. “What are they saying?” The blond Nazi cleared his throat and said, “It’s the Major in charge of this station, and he’s telling us to stay close to the soldiers. Um, he’s telling the ones pulling the wagons to focus on hauling and they’ll be fine. And of course, to be strong and courageous.” A final order was barked out, and all the soldiers snapped off a Nazi salute. Their translator finished as he lowered his arm, “And you can guess what that is.” “Shitheads on parade?” Sarah asked, then clapped a hand over her mouth and turned scared eyes to the soldier. “Oh, god, are you going to put me in a concentration camp for saying that?” “Me, personally?” The blond man shook his head. “Don’t worry, the Major made it clear you’re allowed to speak your minds.” He smirked a little. “Some might even find it sexy.”
The regular clack of wheels on a rail drummed their way into the drugged minds of the unconscious bodies on the hammock. The slings swung softly as the train rolled down a long hill. The rough wool of army blankets covered their bodies, staving off any cold air from the unconscious bodies. Warm air, tinged with the scent of woodsmoke, drifted over exposed skin. The smell of warm bread drifted through the room, and a soft orchestral piece drifted through the air, muting the rhythmic clatter of the train. Occasionally, cool air crept in from somewhere outside the comfortable train car, bringing the slight smell of wood rot. Rough toilets had been installed at the back of each cell, with curtains that could be pulled as needed. Folding chairs hung on hooks on the wall, ready for when someone wanted a seat. The scent of bread didn’t help with the hunger as each of the women in the room woke up. Their shoes and boots were on the floor at the foot of the pole holding one end of their hammock, but all their other clothing was intact. The second red flag (the first being no idea where they were) were the needle marks and bandages on their arms, the latter covering two small stitches. The car was bisected by iron bars with a door, and four men in Nazi uniforms reclined in their own hammocks, their shiny black boots at the base of the support pole and their hats hanging neatly on hooks. A small wood stove provided the warmth in the air. A table had been built into the bars, milled so that the wood fit around the metal perfectly. Fresh loaves of bread in a basket sat on each side of the bars, with two coolers zip-tied to the table’s legs. Inside were chilled deli meats, sliced cheese, fruit cups, and fruit-flavored fizzy waters. Siobhán woke up in the first hammock on the right side of the car. Her purse had been tucked in under her arm, but she could feel it was thinner. One of the Nazis stared at her from his hammock, his expression glazed with confusion. He was young, white, and dark haired, and with a severe Jersey accent, he said, “Hey, I know you.” Morgan was in the second hammock on the right, and she woke up with a jerk, ready to continue her fight. There were no combatants in her reach, just a young brunet in the third hammock, wearing a Northface parka who had started to shake and cry. “What’s going on?” parka girl asked hoarsely, her eyes darting around in fear. For Teagen, consciousness also brought the pain of a corset digging into her sides. When she’d been grabbed or moved, the garment had shifted and never been moved back into place. Her gown was otherwise unmolested, with it’s layers of silver-white and ice-blue draped over both sides of the first hammock on the left. Her cloak lay over her under her blanket, leaving her a little overheated. The women in the remaining two hammocks hadn’t woken up yet.
The regular clack of wheels on a rail drummed their way into the drugged minds of the unconscious bodies on the floor. Rough wood pushed into their exposed skin, the wide slats barely sanded. Worse, the wood stank of human waste and sweat; the rank odor of trapped, frightened mammals. Cool air puffed over skin occasionally, gusting in from the widely-spaced wooden slats that made up the walls. Beyond the walls, it was completely dark. The air smelled wet, with an underlying tinge of rotten wood. The car slanted down at a steady grade, apparently on a long hill. Some of the imprisoned were hungry; others had already soiled themselves once their bodies couldn’t rouse them to handle the urge personally. All were thirsty and stiff from their undignified spawls on the floor. Two large buckets sat in the far corner of the cell, their purpose clear from the stains on them. Soreness in their arm matched two needle holes and a bandage covering two neat stitches. A dozen unconscious people had been stacked as they would fit into a space no larger than an elevator. The car was larger than that, but the other half of the interior sat behind bars. A locked door marked the entrance to the other side of the car, where six men in Nazi uniforms leaned against the far wall, swaying with the car. The uniforms were the gray from the movies and bore the double lightning bolt of the Schutzstaffel on the collar. They were armed and watched the slowly-rousing prisoners with some interest. A modern Igloo cooler and a distinctive gray Walmart bag rested at their feet. Juno lay with her right shoulder pressed to the wall, and next to a middle-aged woman with Mediterrenian tones in her skin. The woman’s dress was bright red and inadequate to the current temperature, though her waist-length faux fur jacket helped stave off hypothermia. An elderly Latino man in oil-stained coveralls and jacket had his head resting on her shin. Juno didn’t see Siobhán anywhere. When Ali woke, it was with more aches and pains than being on the floor. His left arm had been knocked against something, hard enough to leave a knot. He’d been surrounded by people; leaning against a white man with silvered hair in a suit on his right side, he had a black woman about his age flopped across his lap, and a black teen boy pressed against his left side. All were dressed for being outside on New Year’s Eve. James came awake when his sore head lolled against someone else's skull. The pain was enough to get past the drugs in his system. Hissing through his teeth, he found a homeless white man propped against his left shoulder and a young black man on his right side. Both were warmly dressed, which was more than the twin Asian women dropped across his legs could claim. They had very short dresses, and James could see that at least one of them wore a thong. Their jackets were decorative, not functional.