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The Element of Water by Stevie Davies MACHER and five butchers were escorted to Donitz's presence.

'Please,' requested the admiral, 'read it for yourself.' Himmler, heir-in-waiting, read the wire pronouncing Donitz head of the Thousand Year Reich, paled, sat down, rose, bowed, then called into play his old-world formality and aloof geniality.

'Allow me, then, my Leader, to be the Second Man in your administration.' Through the night, as Donitz and Himmler confabulated, Michael drank Hennessy in the mess with their aides, Ludde-Neurath and Kremer, in company with Dahl and his fellow filths. All night the Little Admiral hung from a beam directly above Michael's increasingly squiffy head on a thread, a deus ex machina peering down with detached amusement on the insomniac crew and their games of double bluff and murderous camaraderie.

Michael heard enquiries after Paul Dahl's family. He watched Paul weep.

'I shall never believe it. I shall never believe our beloved Leader can die. I shall be loyal to the grave.' Michael turned upon the blotched face the hag-ridden sleeplessness of his insight. He got a clear view of the void at the centre of a man who is loyal to the grave.

'But your family, your immediate family. Are they in a safe place?' Paul shed tears. 'The Fuhrer is my family. And if he should fall, I am an orphan. We are all orphans. Where could we go? Where would be our home?' Michael's teeth began to twinge.

Horror thrilled round the nerves of his jaw, a mouthful of corruption.

As he looked up, wincing, he got a swift view of Dahl's bared teeth, flawlessly perfect.

And the stuff at Minsk all came up: the bloodying, blooding, of his memory. Michael had seen that, that which was not named, which was simply 'that'.

> The Element of Water by Stevie Davies is published by Parthian in the Library of Wales series CONTINUES TOMORROW

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jan 7, 2019
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