This post is our translation of an excerpt of the chapter with the same name from The Road of the Cross, book written by Aurel State.
The nightmare of that day of 12 May 1944 continued grotesquely while sleep knocked me down to the dawn of the second day of imprisonment. The fall from freedom into captivity had been so explosively abrupt that it left no linking passage, not even a descending one, between the two realms.
At lightning speed the news of the fall had pierced into the inscrutable soul. There was no way to doubt, escape or forget. The frontiers of both the subconscious and unconscious were more ruthlessly crossed than the successive positions that had shattered our delayed embarkation to home port. In the deep underground where we continued our existence objects and mechanisms were the same as in the realm we had fallen from. And places had the same names: Balaklava, Baidari… We bore the same labels, yet our broken stems were kept alive only by some external tissues and, wondrously, obscure saps still trickled through. Everything resembled what had been before, in the same way artfully crafted imitation plastic fruits resemble flavoured orchard fruits. Meanings were losing flesh though, and were honed to lancet sharpness, as if preparing for a long vivisection.
Like the original sin, our fall was irrecoverable, and we knew of no god who would send his son to redeem it. Even if the armed guard shoots me, death cannot erase the stigma of entering this existence. I felt ice-cold discovering this monstrous virginity of the soul. We were called to explore the pits, labyrinths and catacombs of our soul geology and we had no idea what was in store for us. Shall we continue our dreadful toil in the barren underground, as a reflection of the frolic in no man’s land, the land under the sun? Certainly, the similarity between the two realms entails grosser adversities for a man’s evolution and fulfilment in the ‘underground’ than in the world of tail coats, titles and conventional brightness. But what if the huge crusher roaring that I heard while sleeping towards the morning of captivity would not be suddenly stopped?
The other realm was connected to a replica plastic sun, and it was as big as human history, while the earth differed from ours by the people’s lack of beauty and occupation. Like war prisoners, they lay down and obsessed about finding in sleep an escape from their cruel fate. The roads were trodden by red ants that readily carried the bodies of the fallen ones, struggling to push them in the jaws that screeched while trying to break the diamond-like strength of spines and bones. The macabre output of ground resistances was poured into a continuous flow due to liquid jets that gargled in the crusher’s mouth. But what was really frightening was to see that people who would hardly bear the sound of a dentist’s drilling machine did not jump off the Fiolent rocks nearby, upon hearing the dreadful grinding screech.
After the nightmare we all seem to have retained the same image: the silhouette against the sky of an armed chasovoy(1) with his budionovka(2), standing in an improvised lookout tower. (Years later, in a camp in the north, a crazy war prisoner would transpose this first collective imagery drawing a circle in the sand: the earth. Then, faking the joy of someone suddenly struck by an idea, he drew at North Pole the sentry box of the big chasovoy of those times(3), whose moustache was the sole distinctive mark lent to the sketched figure. He then verbally adorned the figure’s budionovka with the northern star and, rubbing his hands in contentment, to stir my curiosity about the gist of his drawing, he girdled the earth with a barbed wire belt along the equator line.)
(1) In the original ‘ceasovoi’ – transliteration of the Russian word for standing guard
(2) Soviet star hat
(3) Allusion to Stalin