Excerpts

From Johanna

Crack Between The Worlds - by Carmen Stenholm

  For Hanni, last night had been an endless torment of fear and repulsion. Uninformed about what she might expect on her wedding night, her husband’s embrace had felt cruel. Driven by lust and a need too long unmet, Walter had unceremoniously taken what he was too impatient to coax from his child bride. His strong arms and calloused hands had moved across her body with hurried force to fit her into position for his heaving release. Unable to move beneath the bulk of the man to whom she now belonged, Hanni had barely enough space beneath the rock-hard chest to breathe. Her scream as he entered her was muffled by the nightgown tenderly embroidered and smocked during evenings when she still held dreams of young love. It had been shoved up and bunched around her neck where it covered the lower part of her face and served as both a muzzle and veil behind which she pretended to hide. Her husband’s body, as suddenly as it had energized itself into a frenzy, had just as quickly flung itself next to her and ceased all movement. Only the slight tremble of his chest as he breathed gave any indication that he was still alive.

From Maria

Crack Between The Worlds - by Carmen Stenholm

  As she ran, the screams of burning women and children vied with the pounding of her heart and the relentless whine of sirens. Several people shouted and pointed through holes that had, only a short time before, held stained glass windows now blown to bits. She would not allow them to register in her brain. Her world contained only the pain of pumping legs, a chest about to burst from exertion and the will to keep going.
  Still, the bombs fell. The city was on fire.
  Sometimes jostled by other running souls, sometimes in a vacuum created by the needfulness of her mind to disengage from the horror around her, Mia reached the bridge. Others had arrived before her and a human jam had developed near the center. However, the mass of bodies was not an immovable force and with each new blast and shudder of the earth beneath her feet, she pressed her way to the center of the human throng.
  The bridge swayed furiously. The girders holding the immense structure above the roiling waters began to twist and crack. The bodies of escaping humanity mirrored the whirlpool of liquid below their feet. Coming apart only to come together again, the human flood made its painful way across the expanse of bridge and onto the other shore.
  Just as Mia set foot on solid ground, an explosion hit the bridge dead center. Glancing quickly behind her, she saw it crumble as women and children fell to their deaths. For just this moment, she could not block out the sight. Her eyes filled with tears. Almost instantly, she regained control and began to move on. She ran until she collapsed in blind, terrified exhaustion on a patch of grass out of reach of the bombs that were still aimed at whatever life was left in Dresden.

From Ella

Crack Between The Worlds - by Carmen Stenholm

  Ella had been there from the beginning. From when they first heard the rumble of armored vehicles descend upon their defenseless homes to the moment when the last boy fell, his face ripped open by the bullets his pleading and cries could not stop. Almost all the young men were gone, serving Germany’s war machine on some front. Emil had been one of the few who were not allowed to join the army due to his emphysema. Ella had known him all her life. He had lived in the apartment below hers for as long as she could remember. They had played together when they were children and, more recently, had had long discussions about becoming teachers. Emil loved children. He had two younger siblings and was often seen reading to them and playing games that the children his own age would not play with him anymore. It didn’t matter to Emil what they thought, he went right on reading and playing with the youngsters. Now, nothing would ever matter to Emil again. He died clutching his grandfather’s shoulders, shielding the old man’s chest. They had fallen in a tangle of limbs when the bullets struck and hurtled their bodies into the air before crashing them to the ground.