The Escape by Andy Marino

The Escape by Andy Marino

Author:Andy Marino
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.

After a troubled sleep, Max’s eyes snapped open. His bedroom in the auberge was very dark. Albert’s measured breathing came from the room’s second bed, while Mutti, Gerta, and Kat shared the adjoining room. It took a moment for Max to realize what had torn him from sleep: noises from the inn’s first floor, directly underneath the bedroom. Men speaking German, muffled laughter, and then an outburst in French.

Adele, Max thought, sitting up in bed. He held his breath and listened. He couldn’t make out the words, but it was clear by the pitch of her voice that she was in distress. Another peal of laughter and a dull thud—the sound of something striking a wall—sent Max out of bed, fumbling in the dark for his knapsack. Quickly, he pulled on his trousers and an undershirt and crept barefoot from the room, shutting the door behind him with a soft click. He paused in the corridor.

“This champagne is swill!” one of the German men said. “Bring us something better.”

“Maybe she’d like to try it herself?” a second German asked, laughing.

Adele protested in French. Then he heard Colette cry, “Arrêtez!”—stop!

Max hurried to the top of the stairs and peered over the railing, down into the auberge’s front room. Adele was sitting in one of the worn leather chairs. Looming over her were two uniformed SS men. One had his hand clamped down on her shoulder, trapping her in the chair. The other held an open bottle of champagne above her head.

“Open up!” he said, tilting the bottle.

Colette rushed at the man. He struck out with his empty hand and dealt the girl a glancing blow that staggered her. Adele cried out.

Without thinking, Max bounded down the stairs. A red haze obscured the edges of his vision. The champagne bottle paused in its tilt as the soldier turned in surprise. Max hit the bottom of the stairs, sprinted at the man, and knocked the bottle from his hand.

Time slowed. Colette’s wide eyes found his.

The bottle shattered, splashing the desk with fizzy liquid. The room erupted into frenzied movement. The soldier took his hand from Adele’s shoulder and aimed a wild swing at Max. Adele sprang from the chair, scooped up Colette, and pulled her toward a corner of the room, out of the fray. Max ducked away from the incoming fist and felt the air whoosh past his face. The smell of alcohol, roasted meat, and sour sweat hung heavily about the soldiers. The second SS man actually laughed, harsh and gruff. He moved behind Max, between the leather chairs and the kitchen door.

The man who had swung and missed regained his balance and squared up to face this boy who’d rudely interrupted his evening’s sport. He was young and broad-shouldered, blond haired and blue eyed, sprung fully formed from the Nazi mold of Hitler’s dreams. Max was breathing hard. As the blond man eyed him with contempt, a smile played at the corners of his lips. Max realized that his drunken sport wasn’t ruined, it was just changed.


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