LDA: Judith Gervasi’s door wasn’t locked. At mid-day there came a
knock, and Amanda Chase entered the area of the lab set aside as
Judith’s living space to find her eating lunch. Amanda herself
brought a white cardboard box that had been given to her by Dr. Trochmann.
LDB: “Hello, Judith? I’m Doctor Amanda Chase. I came to have a look
at you but they said you were having lunch, so I thought I’d have my
lunch too before we started. If you’d rather eat alone just say so,
and I can leave.” Judith merely smiled and waved at a second chair.
LDC: Dr. Chase sat down and started unpacking what they had given her
to eat. She looked across to Judith and asked, “What are you having?”
“I’m having what passes for roast beef, in America,” she said. “But
I’m not really complaining. In the army I’ve had much, much worse.”
LDD: “In the army? Were you in the British army, or the Israeli?” “I
hold the rank of Sgan Aluf in the Tsva ha-Hagana le-Yisra’el, or the
Israeli Defense Force. This puts me above a major but below a
colonel, but none of that really matters if I’m the last one left alive.”
LDE: Amanda’s eyes sank to her food, and she said, sheepishly, “I’m
sorry.” Amanda saw that she, too, had been given a plate of roast beef
wrapped in foil, along with potato wedges, greens, and a small can of
pineapple juice. She ate for a bit, then laid eyes on Judith again.
LDF: “Your chart says you were born in 1928. I don’t know how you
managed it, Judith, but I was born in ’48 and frankly, you look like
you are my age.” “I did not lie about my age, Dr. Chase. I have
passports from two countries that were satisfied with other documents.”
LDG: “Aside from that, after we have lunch and you give me the
physical you came to do, you will find the indelible evidence of my
stay at Ohrdruf-Nord, which would indicate I was born before the end
of the War, at the very least. And you will be glad you ate first.”
LDH: Amanda was much chastened. She said, “Please, Judith, I did not
mean to imply you were untruthful. But your youthful appearance is
absolutely remarkable. If I look like you do in twenty more years it
would be a most happy state of affairs. I wonder, how do you manage it?”
LDI: “There is a trick to it,” Judith said, “but Roland and Trochmann
have already asked you to believe in six impossible things before
lunch. You are here to evaluate my health, including my cognition,
and if I told you my secret there is a chance you would misdiagnose me.”
LDJ: “Very well, Judith, if my own cognition does not fail me I shall
not inquire about this subject again, and your concern for a possible
misdiagnosis, by itself, argues well for your mental health. I shall
make a note of that. Fair enough?” And Judith nodded with her assent.
LDK: So they finished their lunch with only small talk, then Amanda,
with Judith’s permission, proceeded to the examination, starting with
her vital signs. She was also checking for any damage Judith might
have allowed to happen to herself by the ability to ignore pain.
LDL: “They told me you can choose not to endure pain,” Amanda said.
“Is that true?” “Yes, it’s true,” Judith replied. “It seems to be
part of the position description for the B’nei Elohim.” “The B’nei
Elohim?” “Yes. That is Hebrew for ‘offspring of the holy ones.’
LDM: Think of it as my coping mechanism. I like to think there is a
purpose to what happened to me. At any rate it sounds better than
White Brain Disease.” “Well, Judith, pain is also a coping mechanism.
It’s how your body, once damaged, avoids further damage. It’s a gift.
LDN: I can tell you that people born without the ability to feel pain
rarely live to see their twentieth birtday. If you have the ability
to turn pain off at will, it does not bode well for a long life.”
“I have learned that pain is a gift that can be abused,” Judith said.
LDO: “So think of my adaption as a defense mechanism against that
abuse.” When Judith lifted her blouse to allow Amanda to listen to
her breathe with a stethoscope the whip scars were revealed. Amanda
could not stop herself from taking a sudden gasp of air at the sight.
LDP: There were at least a dozen cross-crossing weals, and some were
raised as long unsightly ridges called keloids. “This happened to you
in, where did you say it was? Nordruff?” “Ohrdruf-Nord,” corrected
Judith. “April 1945. Nothing in my life prepared me for this. Nothing.”
LDQ: “Have you ever talked through this with anyone before?” “Oh yes,
there is a certain acquaintance who has helped me in so many ways I
cannot tell. After the war I wanted to hunt down the rats who did this
and got away, but hy convinced me that the army was a better choice.
LDR: “But the one who did this.” Judith made a gesture to the scars
on her back. “I did her a treat, oh yes I did, on the day the camp
was liberated.” “How did you come to be there, Judith? Germany?
Poland? I thought you were a subject of Her Majesty.”
LDS: “My family lived on the Isle of Wight, in the English Channel.
We were abducted, my mother and I, and taken to a camp in Cherbourg,
France. That camp was just a camp. But before it could be surrounded
by the invading allies we were taken further east to a work camp.
LDT: The allied armies kept coming, so we kept moving, and ended up
in the kind of work camp where you were worked to death. And still
Patton came on. That’s how we ended up at Ohrdruf-Nord, which was a
satellite of Buchenwald. No more work, just a living hell, until death.”
LDU: “I’m not really a student of history,” Amanda said, “but all this
sounds so horrible, Judith. I don’t know how you came through it.” “I
like you, Dr. Chase. I want you to remember that when this is over
and I’m no longer here to tell you.” “What do you mean, Judith?
LDV: “Do you imagine something is going to happen to you?” “You are
going to add David and Jerry to the ranks of the B’nei Elohim, and
after that we’re all going to walk right out of here.” “Do you really
think so, Judith?” “Why not? Three others did precisely that.”
LDW: Judith smiled at the sheer naivete of Amanda. “I’m here under
official quarantine, am I not? How did Kimberly Shybear and Sofie
Krause escape? Were they cured and released? And why did Tolson let
Rebekah Redstar go? You’re not asking the right questions, Dr. Chase.”
LDX: “You must be mistaken, Judith, at least in part. I’ve seen what
Director Roland claims are the remains of Kimberly Shybear. So she must
have died in quarantine, no?” “No. Germany was not the only country
to operate concentration camps. Kim was once held in an American one.
LDY: Weren’t you even curious what happened to the previous subjects
of this particular research project?” “Dr. Trochmann told me only
that they ‘lost contact’ with two of them.” “What a strangely
passive way to put it,” Judith said. “Wouldn’t you like to know more?”
LDZ: When Amanda had no answer, Judith said, “I believe in your heart
of hearts that you do. At the very least, it will keep you from being
entirely blindsided when three B’nei Elohim walk out of here in
our usual spectacular fashion, right under your very noses.”