By Virginia Carraway Stark
“My name is Mary Oslo. I am from a small town in Norway”
I was repeating the words I had been told. Right now, it was hard still to shake my German accent. Hard but integral if I am ever to be allowed to be anything but a prisoner. I had found it was easier to slip into a Norwegian accent and thankfully, Norse was one of the languages that I spoke.
The Vril Swastika and ‘Maria’ who has been missing since 1945.
I shook my head in frustration and put my head in my hands.
“You’re doing very well, Mary. You’re making great strides.”
“My accent won’t fool anyone who is actually from Norway, I can slip a little there but the German sticks. I can hear it.”
“Mary Oslo is just an interim identity until we can get you more integrated into society. I have every confidence that within a few years you’ll be passing for an American woman,” he smiled at me. He was my diction coach but right now he was coaching me on a bit of everything. I was frustrated and knew I would never pass for a real Norwegian. This was absurd.
“Integrated into society? And then what? What will be asked of me?” I demanded. It was something I had been demanding since I had surrendered as our cottage was surrounded by the incursion of American troops. They had known we were there, they hadn’t acted like soldiers approaching a small cottage in the middle of nowhere, they had acted like soldiers storming a fort.
There were three of us in the cottage and two little girls, Skolda and Mist. My two sisters were taken from me but I held onto the children and begged to be taken with them and when the Americans saw that we were only scared, slight women with large eyes and trembling lips, they agreed. That was how I came to keep the two girls who were now call Sarah and Maisy. They were all I had to hold on to. We had lost the war, we had lost everything. This was not supposed to happen. None of it. I had seen Adolph succeed and win the war, I had seen it in my dreams and in my visions, I had seen it flawlessly again and again. I had never seen failure in our future, how was it possible that I had been so wrong?
“I don’t know what will be asked of you, Mary. I know that you did nothing wrong except to be on the wrong side of the war. You committed no crimes and it is for your own protection that we are teaching you how to blend in,” He soothed me but I was no fool, I was a prisoner here.
We continued our diction lessons and lessons in local customs to the area I was to have come from in Norway. I quieted, I wanted to be careful, I had lost everything except Skolda and Mist. I must not anger the Americans and have them taken from me as well.
Finally, the lesson over, I was taken from the room with the metal table in it and the mirror that hid those on the other side. They thought it hid them, but I could see them. I could see them and how they reacted to the things I said and did, I had only realized when I was caught staring at them that I wasn’t supposed to be able to see them. After that I pretended it was only a mirror.
My handler took me back to the little house I now called home. Skolda and Mist, who I must remember to call Sarah and Maisy, were still at their own lessons. They would not learn to pretend to be Norse, they were only five and eight years old respectively, re-teaching them would be so very easy.
The house I now lived in was painted beige and black. Cement stairs lead to a screen door that creaked open. I had left the inside door open, it was hot and I didn’t want to come back to the little oven that the house turned into most days. Instead I had to deal with dust. Dust was everywhere, only little weeds straggled to life at the edge of the grounds where the chain link fence was. It was the only place anything green could live here. There was little water in this desert place and much tromping of men and machinery. This was no place for two special children, this was no place for me.
The cottage we had lived in in Germany was small, its roof very old fashioned thatch. We had found our Vril had better reception when we slept on natural fibers and liked to surround ourselves in natural things. The little log cabin was warm in the winter and cool in the summer and we always knew that our needs would be met. Fresh wood chopped and food brought to us. A well with crystal clear water was near the house although we had running water inside in addition. When the weather was good we preferred the water from the stream the best. We drank and bathed in it and the little lake where it emptied into.
Except for the occasional plane flying overhead, there was no place for the war there. There was no war for us. There was only peace and serenity. It was what we required to receive our transmissions from our home world of Aldebaran and Adolph and Heinrich were extremely considerate of our needs. We were happy there, we had no idea of the suffering the war caused in our insular world but even if we had known, we would have continued because it was what the transmissions said was right to do.
We were the Vril Maidens. There were others of our kind, I myself preferred not to travel whenever possible and that was how I had happened to be at the cottage during the invasion. What happened to my sisters who were on various missions I daren’t speculate.
What I did know was that I had been, if not actively an enemy combatant, then at least an enemy commodity and commodities were meant to be used. The Americans had plans for me and the children. They knew of the ships we had built, I had captured little fragments of that information from their minds. I worried that they had people who could read our minds as well but I soon learned that they did not. Their avid questions on our meditation exercises and general ignorance proved this to me.
The house was still hot but now it was dusty as well. A plane roared overhead and came down on the runway in the small military base where I had been put after being moved several times after my capture. I worried that the Americans would be brutish to me and the children but we had so far been treated with dignity and respect.
I let my long hair out of the horse’s tail that I kept it in whenever possible and combed the dust out of it. Hair snapped from the dryness and the sun. This was no place for me. Surrounded by metal, the constant noise of planes and jeeps and men, always men calling orders. Other than a couple of secretaries me and the girls were the only women here.
I decided to nap for awhile, the girls would be home in a few hours most likely and I liked to question them carefully on what they had learned that day. Much of it was simple schooling but I recognized much of it for indoctrination. Already I had heard the girls speaking of ‘The Axis’ and ‘Hitler’, rather than Herr Hitler or Papa Adolph as they had called him when he had come to visit. I wondered how they could forget so soon, but they are children, quick to learn, quicker to forget. They learned American history, stories of American bravery during the war, the national anthem, the pledge of allegiance.
I wept into my pillow. How I longed for moss under my feet and streams.
I sat up abruptly, someone was rapping at the screen door. I wiped the tears from my eyes, “Who is there?” I asked, my accent was still so thick, the girls hardly sounded German anymore although their eyes lit up when we spoke it in secret over dinner when we were alone.
“Sergeant Montgomery, are you busy?”
I was surprised. It was rare that any of the men on base spoke to me although several of them had watched me walking and others brought toy and candies for the girls. To my knowledge there were no orders that we shouldn’t speak with the men. I had never been told such, yet there was a veil over us and it was little notes with pictures of puppies and candy or teddy bears for the girls left just inside our door or a single flower on the table for me from some unknown, unseen admirer.
I put my hair up quickly, I felt naked with it loos around my shoulders, scandalous even in front of a strange American.
I didn’t answer him but slowly walked to the door. I saw a heavy-set man with bright blue eyes and black hair looking through the screen. I had never seen him on base before. I didn’t open the door but spoke through the screen, “I don’t know you,” I said.
“No, Miss, you don’t. I waned a few words with you, may I please come in?” He asked politely.
I opened the door in answer, he had to step down off the step for me to open it enough for him to come in. He looked around. The house was bare, the few attempts to make it homey for us made it look more sparse and sad. To my surprise, he closed the door behind him, “If you don’t mind?” He asked, after the fact.
He bent to take off his boots and I shook my head, “Please, the house is so dusty, leave them on, you’ll only dirty your socks.”
“Are you sure?” He asked, cocking an eyebrow. He had a cheerfulness to him that was contagious. I had learned that American charm was different from what I thought of as ‘charm’. Whatever this man had, it was something else.
“Yes, sit,” I directed. I was off my footing and my English sounded rude but I didn’t try to soften it, what did I know of this man? Perhaps behind his grin was a knife to stab me. He may be an assassin sent by the scattered remnants of the Reich. Better that I be dead then a tool of the enemy.
But I was thinking like someone who was still at war. There was no longer an enemy, there were only the victors and us, the losers. “I can make tea, or coffee,” I offered.
“Coffee would be grand,” He replied. It was hard to imagine such twinkling eyes could harbor and enemy, but then it was hard for the American soldiers to believe that three women and two children in the woods had been one of the Third Reich’s most secret and, Adolph and Himmler assured us, their most powerful weapons. How could someone be so beautiful and so powerful? I later heard that Olgun had not gone peaceably when she had been taken and had killed a dozen men and wounded more before they took her.
I fiddled with the pot, until it worked. I had nothing but some hard cookies to offer with the coffee. I felt a need to be a good hostess despite the man’s intrusion, with a shock I realized how lonely I was for someone to talk to.
I sat across the table from him after putting the pot and the cookies on the table. He looked at it for a long time and then stood up and opened a cupboard and brought out two cups. I had forgotten, it was so hard to remember everything.
He said nothing but took a bottle of milk from the fridge and a bowl of sugar from the cupboard and then found spoons in one of the drawers. I sat rigidly watching him. My face was sunburned or he would have seen my flush of embarrassment. Of course I had forgotten all the things a human needed for coffee.
He poured a cup for me and him, putting ample amounts of sugar and milk in both of them. He put my cup in front of me and then helped himself to the cookies.
“Not from around here, are you, Miss?”
“No, I am from Norway.”
“No, you are from Germany and your name is Maria Oslik.”
“I am Mary Oslo.”
I wondered if this was a trap, were the Americans testing me to see if I had learned my lessons?
“Sorry, Miss, but you’re lying. You aren’t very good at it either.”
“How dare you come into my home and call me a liar?” I demanded as cold as ice.
“Because I can get you out of here and I’m not going to be able to do that if we spend the next few hours arguing about your name.”
“Who are you?” I demanded.
“I’m a friend. I was sent by others- there are many people who want to help you. My friend Walter knows all about the plans to find out all the German secrets, you yourself are one of those secrets.”
“Why should I trust you?” I asked, my arms folded, my chin held high.
“Because I’ve given you my real name and the real name of someone who wants to help you, the girls too if my sources are accurate and they’re here too.”
“Sarah and Maisy,” I spat. How I hated those names. They had had such proud names, the names of the Valkyries and now they were named, ‘Sarah and Maisy’ and talked about the war as though they had always been American and had never put a daisy chain on the Fuhrer’s head and kissed his cheeks.
“I didn’t know their names,” He said, apologetically.
“This is a trap, I am a loyal American now. I was forced in Germany against my will to take care of children orphaned by the war…”
“And I’m the King of France,” He drank his coffee back. I took a sip of mine.
We were silent. The only sounds the sounds of machinery and men yelling orders outside the house. Finally he broke the silence, “I need you to trust me. I know the truth, I know you are a Vril Maiden, I know that you put a man on the moon in 1942 using blueprints that you channeled and wrote down in detail through a transmission from a planet in Taurus.”
“I don’t know what you mean!” I interrupted him.
He stood up and came around the side of the table, he knelt before me, “I know that you aren’t human and I know that you need to get out of here or soon, bad things will happen to you. We’ve had a hell of a time keeping track of you and if they move you again or separate you from the girls we could lose you or them forever. Please. Just listen to me.”
“What do you want?” I asked, he held my hands in his, they were warm, mine were cold despite the heat of the day.
“I want you to let us rescue you.”
He shrugged, “And then life goes on, but you’ll be with friends, friends who can give you a better life than this… Mary. Unless you’re taking to it here, if so, I’ve made a terrible mistake. We’re both in a way to betray the other, but let me tell you something, ‘Mary’, I don’t belong here and all it would take is one scream from you and I would be betrayed.”
He looked at me square in the eyes and I could see no lie in them, “I’m not here to fool you, Maria. I’m here to find out, if we organize an escape, will you come with us? Do you want to? Or have you found a new home?”
“I used to live in the forest. I lived by a beautiful stream and I could run naked down to the lake without any fear. I used to be happy.”
“And now?” He asked.
A tear rolled down my cheek and he gently wiped it away with the side of his index finger, I had to take a deep breath before speaking. What I spoke was my confession, “And now, I am not happy.”
“We will come for you, I can’t say when but wait for us and when we come for you be ready, and have the children ready as well.”
I nodded and looked away, he stood up and finished his coffee, he had cleaned the cookies from the plate I saw with surprise. He stretched and patted his belly in satisfaction, “I should get going now, the longer I’m here the longer they have to look into my credentials.”
I followed him to the door, the door burst open and with greater alacrity than I would have given him credit far he jumped into the closet that was hidden behind the suddenly open door. The two girls came running in, ‘Sarah’ was carrying a doll, “Look! Look what the nice man gave me!”
“What nice man?”
She shrugged, “Just some man, he had a lot of medals.”
‘Maisy’ amended her ‘sister’s’ statement, “He was a General, but he said we could just call him ‘Ken’ like his own daughter does.”
“We’re going to get a puppy!” Sarah exclaimed.
“Oh, are we? I don’t think this is a good place for a puppy.” I said disapprovingly, I didn’t like where any of this was headed.
“We won’t be here though, we’re going to a place with a yard.”
“And a swimming pool!” Sarah exclaimed.
“Puppies and swimming pools! Such big promises, perhaps your new friend will want something in return.”
“No, he’s nice,” Maisy said.
I looked at the two eager faces. How easily English was coming to them! How easily they were bought!
“Go wash up, you’re both covered in dust and they will bring us dinner soon.”
“Everything is covered in dust,” Maisy lamented. She took Sarah by the hand and the two girls walked to the bathroom.
Once they were gone the man I knew as Sergeant Montgomery opened the door that was blocking the closet, “We will come for the three of you soon. I will tell them it must be in the next few days.”
“Where will we go?”
“California,” He said and slipped out of the door before the girls could see him. He walked around the corner of our sad little house, looking like just one more American soldier.
I was scared for those few days. The children came home each night talking about their new home and what sort of puppy they wanted. They had been given a book of dog breeds and looked through it each night imagining what sort of dog they wanted and arguing with each other. Nothing was said to me of a new home and when I asked I was simply told that it wasn’t their department but that they would look into it for me. They would separate us soon.
I woke up one night and Montgomery and two other men were with him, “Get dressed,” He said quietly.
I got dressed, I had nothing to take with me, nothing but the locket that I always wore around my neck and the clothes I had been given. I woke the girls and said, “Girls, tonight we go to look for puppies, get dressed. Quick and quiet.”
“You’re not supposed to speak in German,” Sarah complained. She was always a cranky child to wake.
“Schnell, schnell,” I reiterated. “We have to go tonight before all the puppies are gone.”
The girls slowly got dressed and I hurried them along, Maisy complained that it was too dark, “Why are the lights all out? I can’t see to get dressed.”
“There’s plenty of moonlight, come girls, you can see by the moonlight, surely?”
The girls continued to complain and drag their feet, their voices were getting louder. A man with a square jaw and lightly salted hair and a dark tan took out a syringe from a case and filled it where the girls couldn’t see. I was afraid, what would they do with us? But the girls were getting louder and when the man came into the room he asked in a friend voice, “What’s going on here, girls? Don’t you want to get your puppies?”
“Two puppies?” Asked Maisy.
“Yes, one for you both,” He knelt down and helped Maisy with her top. “What’s your name?” He asked.
“Maisy,” She replied without a pause, what’s yours?”
“I’m Archie, here, I’ll carry you to the jeep,” He picked her up and injected the syringe into her neck so quickly I nearly missed the movement.
“Ouch!” Maisy cried out and slapped at her neck as though a bug had bitten her.
“What’s wrong?” Sarah asked Maisy, the other man stepped in behind her, Maisy was already asleep against the man who had named himself as Archie’s shoulder. He put a hand over her mouth when she started to scream as he grabbed her.
Montgomery quickly filled a new syringe and put it into the struggling child’s neck. The man who had covered her mouth and nose held her until she stopped struggling and then picked her up. Montgomery turned to me, “We’ll have to run, can you run?”
“Yes, I can run,” I replied.
They had cut a hole in the fence that surround the base. Other than the occasional guard and the locked front gate there was little security. Two children and a woman, what could we do? Montgomery held the fence aside and I ran out first followed by the men carrying the girls and then Montgomery himself.
“We’ve got to run a little ways, here, take my hand,” He said, reaching for my hand in the darkness. It wasn’t as dark as I would have liked though, I worried that a guard would see us and could see from our rescuers occasional backward glances that they were worried too. There was a clump of trees about 500 meters from the fence, we were headed towards it.
By the time we got to it I was glad for Montgomery’s hand, I was tired, I wasn’t used to running and doing things anymore. All I did all day was study Norse and English and answer endless questions, many of which I did not know the answers to. After awhile I wished I did if only so I could tell them something and they would quit asking.
I climbed into the jeep in the front, the two men with the child in the back, “Why California?” I asked.
Montgomery smiled his cheeky grin, “Why, because it’s got the most puppies and pools of anywhere I know of.”
With that he jammed on the gas and we headed away into the moonlit night, our headlights off until after a while we came to a regular paved road and not a military tract. I heard Archie exhale a sigh of relief in the back seat. Whatever came next, I doubted puppies and pools would be at the center of it and I wondered what manner of men I had run away with and what adventure this strange land would hold for me next.
That was many years ago now. Now I can speak and sound like an American and I once more have a place that lets me receive messages from Aldebaran. What strange company I find myself in, government turncoats and celebrities and animators. It’s California and the start of my strange new life in a future that I never saw. Each day I wake up and feel a deep sorrow without knowing why and then I remember and it all comes back in a flood. But here I am and Walt is wonderful to me and loves the girls who are now young women. He did go out that very day we arrived after a whispered conversation with Montgomery and bring home two mongrel puppies that the girls loved better than any thing you could pick out of a catalogue.
He already had the pool and the girls fell in love with the ocean as quickly as I did. For now, this is home.