the adam and eve project
by Donna Dawson

In the underground bunker the voices bounced hollowly, like floating apparitions of sound.  It was 1940 and the German war machine was smashing its way boldly through Western Europe.  Poland was occupied.  The Germans had flanked the Maginot line entering Holland without as much as a warning.  Britain sat itself squarely in Belgium, like a steadfast bulldog prepared to guard new territory.  Japan turned its eyes on the vastness of the South Pacific, hungering for the expansion of her mighty empire, and Italy ceased waffling between the Axis powers and the Allies, firmly deciding to join with the nearest geographical might.

But in the bowels of the earth, none of this was of importance at the moment.  No one knew of this particular hole in the dirt.  Far below the titanic conflict that threatened to destroy all that lived and moved in this European corner of the world nestled a conglomerate of rooms tied together by narrow and dimly lit halls.  Each room was proportionate only to the ability of its stabilizing structures in the effort to keep the tons of dirt above from swallowing it.  But even still, they were large enough to host small groups of scheming and heavy-thinking men who enjoyed their strutting and crowing before the red and black banner of the Nazi movement.  The thick language of the German people chopped through one room in particular, anger and dissatisfaction crashing against the steel walls like relentless mortar shells.

“What do you mean, you had to stop The Project?  How do you know for certain that anyone is aware of the complex?”

The Fuehrer jumped to his feet, knocking the chair back in his tirade, a lock of unruly dark hair flopping across the tense forehead and spittle flecking the corners of his mouth.  His eyes were wild with an instant fear and fury as he faced the possibility that his lifelong dream might be discovered by the enemy. Drawing a calming breath, the man struggled to control his infamous temper, and reached down to upright the chair.  He sat slowly again, like a snake lowering itself into its coils before the strike.  Glittering eyes scanned the faces in the room, noting with a strange satisfaction that no one would return his intense stare.  That was good.  They feared him.

The young officer who had brought the message stood straight as a rod, but Adolph Hitler could see that the lad was terrified.  He wouldn’t be the first one the leader of Germany had shot for delivering an unfavourable message.  Hitler narrowed his eyes and looked closely at the young man.   Perfect.  Beautiful.   Foundation stock.  Why is he not part of The Project?

He eyed the second lieutenant like a predator would assess its next meal.  The man was easily six feet tall and built solidly.  Deep azure eyes drilled holes in the far wall, never wavering.  Hair, so blonde—almost white—and silky, covered his head in a thick and wavy carpet.  His skin was fair like a woman’s and his cheeks were tinted with a bright red, telling all in the room that he feared the attention of his Fuehrer.

“What’s your name, Leutnant?”  He pronounced the German equivalent rank as ‘loy-ten-nant.’

“Eric…Mien Fuehrer.  Eric Schneider,” the young man said in an even, steady voice.

“What part do you have in The Project?”  The words purred through the room and a few of the Generals shifted uncomfortably in their seats.

“I was in charge of security, Mien Fuehrer.”

“I see.”  He was suddenly amused by the craftiness of The Project’s chief scientist.  The fat old man was a genius in diplomacy and politics as much as he was in his particular scientific field.  If the French had discovered the whereabouts of the experimental laboratory, it was because of this young man’s inability to do his job correctly, and the aging scientist would make certain the punishment didn’t land on his own doorstep.  Pity such a lovely specimen of the Aryan race had to be so incompetent.  He watched as the man swallowed hard, the fine forehead beading with perspiration.

“So because of you…” Hitler rose to his feet, clamped a hand behind his back and, stroking his chin with the other, slowly circled the young man, eyeing him thoughtfully, “…my most prized project must stop?”

“Yes, Mien Fuehrer.  I take full responsibility and await your decision on my discipline.  I don’t ask for mercy.  That is weakness.”

Hitler stopped his circling and looked directly into the Leutnant’s hooded stare.  He was surprised by the response.  And strangely proud.   This is a true Aryan.  He remained brooding and silent for a moment longer and then he smiled.  It sent a chill through the heart of the soldier standing at attention before him.

“You will not die today, young Leutnant.  Your answer is the right one.  You show true Aryan pride and dignity.  For this I will reward you.  Your genetics will be added to The Project, and your family line will live forever.”

A muscle in the man’s face twitched as he thought of some of the cruel and seemingly unnecessary experiments that took place in the name of The Project.  Through his mind flitted a momentary thought of escape followed by defeated acceptance.  He wouldn’t get more than five feet from the door before being cut down by the guards in the room.  Snapping his heels in resigned salute, accompanied by a raised arm and a strained “Heil Hitler,” he turned sharply and marched toward the door, flanked on either side by two SS-Oberschutz.

The smile faded from the Fuehrer’s face as he watched the brutal “black-shirts,” his elite killer soldiers, usher the next guinea pig for The Project through the chamber doors.  Let’s hope the good doctor uses only the looks and bravery of this man and not his intellect, the cruel leader mused.

He seated himself once again and remained still for some time, his mind working through the problem that had been laid out before him, finally rousing himself as a gentle cough shattered the silence of the room, leaving its harsh echo to fade into silence again.

“Yes, General?” he said.

“I wish to offer a suggestion, Mien Fuehrer.”

“Go on.”

“The French have been a thorn in your side since the beginning,” the General said, encouraged by the Fuehrer’s silence.  “You want to conquer France eventually, but if we strike now, perhaps we can speed up your supreme reign in Europe.  If we can intimidate King Leopold of Belgium, maybe he will surrender.  We can then enter Northern France and drive the French into the English Channel.  Once we own France, your project is safe again.” 

The General sat waiting in silence, hoping he wouldn’t be the next victim of The Project.  Who knew where the whims of the mad leader would take them.  Hitler dropped his chin into his hand and remained silent.  The tension expanded.  And then the Chief Commander of the Third Reich lifted his gaze to the General and smiled his stiff grin.

“Yes.  It’s a good plan, General.  It will also advance our eventual conquest of England.  And the rebuilding of the Aryan race won’t be interrupted.  Very good.  Very good, indeed.”