IF I DON'T ANSWER, THEY'LL JUST BURST IN ANYWAY.
A sudden hammering was heard at the door.
Lilia drilled her fingers into her pulsing temples, wishing the soldiers would go away, but the pounding and shouting escalated.
Virginio’s body was utterly weak. It didn’t matter what the Germans were after—their loud voices made him give in to his only impulse, which was to run and hide.
Horror-struck, Lilia watched as her father, wheezing and trembling, scampered under the bed, then hid in the closet before attempting to climb out onto the terrace. But there was no way out—Virginio realized he was too frail. He crawled back under the covers and prayed to the Almighty that he would be spared from the soldiers’ clutches.
Lilia crept down the stairs, her heart leaping violently with every bang on the door.
If I don’t answer, they’ll just burst in, anyway. And maybe if I do…if I show them we’ll cooperate, they won’t hurt us…
Lilia bravely released the latch, letting in the hounds of hell.
Four armed soldiers stormed in at gunpoint and tore up the stairs, causing Lilia to flatten herself against the wall. A burst of adrenaline jolted through her body. Without hesitating, she rushed after them and to her father’s side.
The Germans found Virginio quivering in his bed, gulping for breath.
“Get up!” the officer in charge barked as he prodded him with his rifle. ”We are taking you to headquarters for questioning!”
Virginio had no choice but to follow orders. With four guns pointed straight at him, he pulled himself up from his bed as he gasped for air. Lilia had pinned herself to the darkest corner of her parents’ room. Every ounce of her being shook with loathing, rage, and terror…but she could do nothing except watch and wait. Her eyes slowly shifted toward her father. She watched him struggle to stand. His legs wobbled. Urine trickled down to his bare feet, soaking his pajamas and pooling into a puddle on the floor.