The wind blew hard from the east, buffeting the two men as they walked across the compound, the powdery earth rising in swirls about their feet. Usually the wind blew from the west and dropped off around sundown. That was when the dust of the day would grip the edge of the sky and twirl it into a magnificent blaze of magenta and orange, but not this night. A strange opaque color permeated the void beyond the camp, making Rudolf vaguely uncomfortable.
Helmut said he wanted to write a letter to his wife before going to sleep, so Rudolf walked alone toward the Crosscut Canal and lit a cigarette he bummed earlier off Werner, cupping his hand over the match, with his back to the wind. Inexplicably drawn to the compound fence where freedom beckoned, he could hear the wind whistling through Hole-in-the-Rock nearby. It was an eerie sound like no other he consciously remembered and, in that moment, a crippling fear gripped his stomach, making him suddenly queasy. Rudolf hurriedly pinched the end of his cigarette—to save it—and put it into his pocket; he desperately needed the safety of his barrack.
As he headed back, he remembered uneasily that this unreasonable fear had pounced on him throughout his life like a stalking mountain lion, in the oddest of situations. He felt the same when he was 12-years-old and had to summon the courage to ask his grandfather if he could join the Hitler Youth. Why the moaning sound in the middle of the Arizona desert would affect him so, he could not imagine.
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