The Machine
Chapter 3

The sound of laughter and singing came to Jack's consciousness. He opened his eyes to find that he was seated in a railway carriage with Susan beside him. In front of him was a round-faced man who was singing along with the music.

"Oh I do love to be beside the sea-side ... I do love to be beside the sea..." he was singing. He looked to where Jack was blinking at him. "Oh, hello. You're awake then," he said, and then added, "Celebrated with getting drunk, I wouldn't wonder." He laughed. Indeed, the headache that Jack had was reminiscent of a hangover.

Jack looked around and saw a drink dispenser. He got up, clutching his head and stumbled to the dispenser. Taking a paper cup, he poured some water into it and drank it down. He refilled the cup and went back to where he'd been sitting.

Susan winced at the sound of the singing and looked around. Jack handed her the cup, which she took and drank gratefully.

"Where are we, Jack?" she asked.

He shook his head. "I don't know; I mean, it's some train carriage, but ... Excuse me, sir, but where are we going?" he asked the singing man.

"Eeh, don't you know? We're off to the holiday camp. You know – Auschwitz. Me and the missus won a place to go there along with the rest of t'own," he said.

Jack looked at Susan. "Holiday camp? Where is it?" he asked the man.

"Oh it's in the Fuhrerland, in Germany somewhere. It looks grand. I've got a copy of the brochure," He said, and he handed over a glossy magazine titled 'Auschwitz - holiday of a lifetime!' Jack raised his eyebrows at Susan as he read further.

He read further. 'Auschwitz, the brainchild of deputy Reichführer Himmler, is the leading holiday destination for all ages. Here, we have rest and relaxation for those who need it. Is your knowledge of the Fuhrer's language lacking? We will have classes you can attend to improve it! Education of all people in the Reich dependencies is our aim.' Indeed, there was a picture of people lying in the sun tanning; the next one showed smiling people with headphones over their ears.

In the next photograph were naked men and women queuing up at a doorway. Again, they all had smiles on their faces and were waving to the camera. Underneath, the caption read: 'Cleanliness is high on the Fuhrer's list, so when you arrive you will be expected to shower first before making your way to the complex. We know how this can be, so all families shower together'. The next picture showed the open door to the Auschwitz complex with people around the entrance smiling and seeming to invite the reader in. 'You are sure of a welcome here at Auschwitz'. Jack couldn't read any more. He just looked at Susan, who was shaking her head.

"It looks wonderful, Mr ... err." Susan addressed the man.

"Oh, I'm Joe; Joe Higgins. And this is my wife, Hilda," Joe said, tugging on a woman's arm. she turned around and smiled.

"How'do?" She said. "Did you win the prize as well?"

"Prize? What prize?" Jack asked, puzzled.

"It was in all the newspapers. A whole town winning the grand prize. I'm surprised you didn't know about it," Hilda said

Susan shook her head. "It's all a lie. You're being sent to your death!" Joe laughed at her.

"Oh you. You've been listening to that daft British propaganda stuff. It's all nonsense, you know; as if anyone would kill us. Why, we haven't done anything to them, and they've been so nice to us." Joe said waving off Susan's protest.

"But believe us, it's true. The Germans used it in the war to kill of the Jews and Gypsies," Jack said.

Joe's brow wrinkled. "I don't know what you mean. They've been packed off to some barren land to make their own life, away from us normal people; and anyway, it's all history now. You're just jealous that you didn't get your picture in t'paper, that's all!" he said, and then turned away from them.

Susan looked at Jack, who shook his head. "He won't listen to us. He's been indoctrinated to believe whatever the Germans have told him. I think you'll find the others are going to be just like him."

Susan looked down the carriage at the number of people singing along with the tannoy system and then back to Jack. "But a whole town? People would notice!" She insisted.

"In the North of England, in these days? I suppose someone would ask, but then he said it was in the papers, so they go off to Germany to have a holiday. What would be more normal than they wanted to stay in the country?" He shook his head, "What am I saying? I should be getting up and shouting, but all I want to do is just sit here," he said. Concentrating, he got to his feet.

Making his way to the interconnecting door, he tried it, but it was locked. He tried to open the window, but found the glass was immobile. He walked down the carriage to the other door and was again blocked.

He returned to Susan, who was watching him, and shook his head. "No go. We're locked in here, so we're stuck unless you have an escape plan in your head."

Susan looked blankly at him and sipped the water. "Nada. It's strange, but I can't seem to focus on anything at the moment. In fact, I'm starting to hum along with the music ... if that's what it is."

Jack looked up to where the emergency cord would be, but the space was covered over with a warning not to remove the cover as it would bring BDM 1,000 penalty. He tested it anyway, but the rivets were unyielding.

Jack slumped back into his seat. "Sorry, Susan. I can't think what to do," he said.

She draped an arm around him. "Don't worry about it. Have a drink of water to clear your head." She offered him the cup.

Jack took it and was going to drink from it when he stopped and looked in the paper cup. The bottom of it was fizzing. Either it was a way of making lemonade, or ... He threw the cup away.

Susan looked at him quizzically. "Why did yoo do that?" Her voice slurred slightly.

"The water's been drugged; that's why we can't think. We're going to have to stop drinking, and then..." his thoughts were brought to a shuddering halt as the train started to slow, its wheels squealing as the brakes were applied.

"Ehup? We're nowhere near t'unnel; wonder why we're stopping here?" Joe was saying. "There's people outside, and they've got guns. What are they doing?" He asked, looking out of the window.

Then there was the sound of gunfire and people were screaming. "Oh, shit! It's the blasted British Free Forces!" Joe said as he ducked down under the window.

On cue, the doors were opened up and a man jumped into the carriage. "Looking for Adams and Prague! Adams and Prague, where are you?" He shouted, not knowing why both Jack and Susan put their hands up only to have them grabbed and pulled along out of the train.

"You've got to stop them; they're going to their deaths and they don't care!" Jack protested.

"We can't do anything. We've no room for them, and it would cause such a stink that we'd be rumbled," the soldier said, dragging Jack and Susan along, since their legs didn't seem to want to move.

They were put into a small car and driven off. The man seated beside the driver handed them a flask. "Drink this. It's an antidote to the drug you've taken. I'm Captain Lloyd of the BFF. We're taking you to a safe house," he said.

"Thank you, Captain. I'm sorry, but I'm still not sure what's happening." Jack said, holding out his hand. "I'm Jack Adams and this is Susan Pulse," he said.

Lloyd looked at the driver. "You fool, Perkins. You grabbed the wrong girl! You were told to get Prague!"

"Sorry Sir, but I did call out for Adams and Prague. They were together and said they were the ones." Perkins replied.

Jack spoke up quickly "It's all right, Captain; Susan is the one you want. It's just that her name is Pulse, not Prague. It's a long story," he said, feeling his head clearing as the antidote took effect. "We're not really from around here," he added.

Lloyd frowned. "But you worked for the cops here. You're known for your hard attitude toward prisoners," he said.

Jack shook his head again. "That wasn't me. What I've got to tell you will sound outrageous, but I assure you it's true: we don't come from this world. Where we're from, the world is different."

The car lurched as it pulled up near a truck. "I'd like to listen, but we need to change transport. You never know who's been watching," Lloyd said.

The driver opened the door for Jack and then went around and opened Susan's, and before she could protest, he quickly grabbed her wrists and put a handcuff on them. Susan went to protest, but a gag was quickly pushed into her mouth and then a hood was put on her head.

Jack started to go to her aid but was stopped by Lloyd, who had produced a pistol and was shaking his head.

"I don't want to kill you, Adams, but I have my orders - and I'm sorry." He said, looking apologetic.

Puzzled, Jack never heard the driver approach him. He was spun around and then there was a quick flash of a fist before everything went dark.

His last thought was, "Here we go again..."

Jack opened his eyes to find he was again handcuffed to a chair, naked. "This is getting old!" he called out.

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