No Place To Go

The streets were not as kind as Camille had imagined them to be. It was pitch black and she almost had to feel her way around. No French citizen would be willing to help out anyone who might turn out to be a German spy. And these days you couldn't tell who was French and who was German. It was dangerous for the normal people, let alone the run-aways. For there were a lot of them. Beggars lined the streets, and there were refugees backed up from here to Calais. Or so Camille had heard. She, herself had never dared to venture outside the capital city. But she knew if she was to escape from the terrors of the war, she would have to take risks. Camille may have lived in one of the wealthier arrondissements, but she had certainly not been molly-coddled. As tough as old boots, she could withstand anything the world could throw at her. Or so she thought.

Camille ended up, after a great deal of twisting and turning, getting lost and generally confused, in a narrow street. She had to pick her way through the filth and squalor of the place, and an unearthly stench wafted about her, forcing her to bury her head in her coat. What looked like a bundle of cloth blocked the door of an abandoned  house. It was only when the bundle moved and shouted, "Go away!" in a very gruff voice, that Camille found it was a person. Surely this could not be how the people were living?

It was only then that Camille realised what a sheltered life she had led. She had never been exposed to such horror. This must have been why her mother was so reluctant to leave. She knew what it was like. It was all because of the war. It was tipping people over the edge of sanity. And the "government" had surrendered without a fight. They couldn't have known what was to happen. Or could they? It had happened to the Poles, and the Dutch, and the Danes. Overnight their countries had turned to... words could not describe it. Camille had heard of a secret society, trying to overthrow the Germans in France. Most likely it would be full of adults, but at the moment they probably needed all the help they could get. And wasn't she the daughter of one of these radical heroes? Michel Blanc was for the freedom of the French from German rule. The Gestapo had been after him for a while, but he hadn't been caught. If only they had move to a different, less conspicuous district. The neighbours were always hunting around, waiting for something to gossip about. It was just Camille's luck that they had found that long-awaited topic.

Her father was a wanted man, and there was a price on his head. Money was tight, so if anyone had any information about him, they sold it on to the Germans. Never mind looking after one's fellow citizens. That rule had been almost completely wiped out since the start of the trouble with the Nazis. There were still some honourable people, this mainly consisted of the friends and family of the resistance, so it didn't really count. The Boche had turned her world upside down. Nothing was the same any more. Her school was flattened down to the ground, and most of her friends had left the city ages ago. Her situation was hopeless. So, for the first time since her father's death, Camille slumped against the dirty brick wall and burst into tears. 

The early morning sunlight woke up Camille several hours later. She looked around at her surroundings. She had not dreamt it. She was sitting in a Parisian alleyway with the pile of cloth/person opposite her. The advantage of the light was that at least she had some idea of where she was. In the dark she had thought she was just walking cluelessly around, with no idea whatsoever where she was going. Then it suddenly hit her. The society! This was their headquarters. It obviously had to be somewhere that wouldn't be noticed easily. This slum-like street fit perfectly. Not even the good-for-nothing Germans would purposefully wonder down here. And this must be a set-up. The squalor and general disgustingness of the place would be enough to keep anyone away. Anyone, except from maybe a girl who had just seen her father's dead body and was desperately searching for anyone who might be able to help her.

Now that she thought about it, the place did seem familiar. A few years ago, she and her father had been walking along the river. She had been distracted by a butterfly that was flying around her head, and he was muttering to himself about the politics in Germany. Camille had been only seven years old at the time, and had not been paying attention. Without warning, her father was nowhere to be seen. Camille supposed she had been in one of her daydreams and simply fallen behind. Then a figure, his head covered by a balaclava even though it was early June, came out of nowhere, took her by the hand and started to run. Even though Camille had never seen this man before, she somehow knew that she would be safe. He had taken her into a back alley and through a chipped painted door. Inside, her father and other men were sat around a long table, seemingly discussing something very important. Camille never found out what. The man in the balaclava pushed her inside and her father looked up. He didn't seem at all worried. Somehow he knew one of his colleagues or friends, whatever they were, would always be there for his daughter. And that building where Camille had first seen her father at "work" was where she found herself now.

Camille jumped up with a gasp. The person under the cloth was beckoning to her. She crept cautiously to him. He signalled for her to come even closer, then said into her ear, "Are you Camille Blanc, daughter of Michel Blanc?" She nodded yes. The man under the cloth said, "Then you'd better come with me."

The End

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