What will become of mankind when we no longer have the power to hope?
The fate of humanity rests with a sociopathic concentration camp commander. Having spent a lifetime chasing the enemies of Germany, he finds himself on the verge of his crowning achievement—ultimate extermination.
Discover “The Last Elf” by T. Fox Dunham
Hans Fisher had come to believe that the Obersturmführer he’d been assigned to was insane.
“Place the butter, the bait,” Obersturmführer Lehr ordered. “Then we’ll set another lure at the south gate.”
Rottenführer Hans Fisher set a plate on the frozen soil at the base of the guard tower. He cut a wedge of butter from the tin and spread it on the plate. He hadn’t seen butter since the war began, and when the Oberst turned his back, he licked the knife. His mouth salivated at the salty flavor, the smooth texture.
Fisher followed him along the fence to the next trap. He set the butter. He looked up and read the phrase Arbeit Macht Frei—Work Makes Free—molded in cold iron letters above the gate. Wagner blasted over a speaker hanging from the guard post, one of many strung on the many barracks and towers, the fences and gates. The speakers butchered Die Meistersinger into a tinny racket.
They followed the fence to set the next trap. Lehr surveyed the barren hills around the camp with hawk eyes.
He thought the Oberst must have had powerful friends to be allowed such a large ration of butter, used merely to spoil in the air on the errands of a madman. Fisher didn’t understand their work, but he preferred serving under a madman to fighting in southern Russia. The gods had reprieved him with that special transfer, pulling him off the troop train.
“It’s good to be home,” Lehr said. “I’ve been all over the greater Reich, hunting. Now, eyes sharp. For a fox. It may be wounded, limping. This kind of factory sickens their souls, weakens them.”
“A fox?” Fisher said. “Is this for sport?”
“No,” Lehr said. Hail spit from his eyes.
“Fox is a code word? We hunt an escaped inmate? A spy?”
Fisher couldn’t break the proclivity to interview, having worked as a reporter for a couple years in Berlin before the war. Asking questions only lured trouble. Citizens of the Reich always kept one eye closed. He bundled up in his green coat against the clawing of the winter wind.
“No, Fisher. We hunt a monster—a true goodness, an evil. It came from the dregs of Pandora’s jar. I know he is here. I know this elf, knew he couldn’t resist. So many souls without hope drawing him. An addict. I can feel him close by. See the signs.”
Elf? Was it code? Maybe he meant a communist spy or a downed American pilot.
Lehr pointed at the ground.
“Thyme sprouting up in dead winter? Growing overnight? Sprouting at his footfalls. See the trail? He’s here.”
Once the Oberst had called the herb patches tracks, Fisher could see the markings of a trail, but a madman can perceive patterns in anything.
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More About DREAD
DREAD is a unique volume of dark fiction containing stories chosen solely by fans and featuring an array of award-winning authors and masters from the horror, science fiction, fantasy and speculative fiction genres.
DREAD contains nightmares from some of the most accomplished authors writing in genre fiction today, including New York Times bestselling author and multiple Bram Stoker Award® winner Jonathan Maberry; Grand Master of Horror Award winner Ray Garton; Stoker award recipients John Everson and JG Faherty, and nominees Michael Laimo and John F.D. Taff; Shirley Jackson Award nominee Tim Waggoner; Pushcart and Rhysling awards nominee Edward Morris; Nightmare Award winner Trent Zelazny; and leading fiction authors Bracken MacLeod, William Meikle, John C. Foster, T. Fox Dunham, Rose Blackthorn, Chad McKee, Martin Rose, Jane Brooks, Peter Whitley, J. Daniel Stone and Jonathan Balog.