I am going to tell you a story about my life, but I am not its protagonist. This isn't a love story or a story of adventure. There’s no great discovery or deep philosophy in my words. They are simply words written on a page; nothing more and nothing less. These words, this story, are my purpose.
I was born in 1872; into the newly formed Imperial Germany. My mother was a handmaiden for a wealthy aristocrat, although she wasn’t very good at her job. Her master only saw her fit to be a tool of pleasure and used her often while his own wife would be away. I was the outcome of these encounters and she gave me the name Franz, supposedly after her own father who had died many years before I entered the world. Franz Hinrich Haas was my name.
I’ve been told that no one can remember their first few years of life, let alone their birth; but I remember. That stifling constriction of her womb and how she sang to such a small insignificant thing. If everyone was right, and one could not remember this period of their life, why did she do such a thing? Why comfort a thing that could not understand nor remember these acts? The answer is simple once you look past all the lies that you tell yourself and others. You do such things not to comfort the insignificant but to comfort yourself. You comfort your own insignificance. In my years I have seen many women sitting, rubbing their hands across engorged stomachs, singing to unborn children. I remember when I wished she had sang to me that way, maybe then my purpose wouldn’t have been to make others sing as she did to me during my first moments in the world.
The day she left me with those people I was given another name, Nichts. I was nothing. For the next seven years I was beaten, starved, and tortured at the hands of this family. The nobleman would drink to the point of collapse before using his cane to hit me. “Worthless abomination!” When I would resist or cower, I was shackled to the wall so he could take better aim. His wife had a fascination with the functions of human anatomy, more specifically the reproductive organs, but her use for me ended quickly after those organs were removed. “A thing like you wont need these…” Their son, my elder half-brother, would take me into the forest to train his hounds. “Run little rabbit!” He would yell before releasing the three Bullenbeisser. I will tell you from many experiences that their name, bull-biter, is indeed accurate. I don’t know if it was a blessing or a curse that allowed me to survive these things, back then I wished I hadn’t.
I slept in a small kennel next to the same hounds that hunted me. I was forced to learn how to steal small scraps from them quickly, less I lose a finger which almost happened on more than one occasion. The summers of the countryside were unbelievably hot and I passed out continuously. If it weren’t for a servant of my owner’s house I may have been allowed to die. She would pour the water from the wash directly behind my kennel turning the dirt to mud. It would drain and pool inside which I could scoop up with my hands. Winters were worse. I remember overhearing their son speaking with a few of his colleagues, “Ha! Mother already plans to cut off any digits that don’t survive, then it’ll look even more like a dog.”
I don’t know what happened. I was running like he told me to and then I just...stopped. I couldn’t hear the pounding of my heart anymore. My muscles didn’t burn and my scars didn’t ache. I knew one of the Bullenbeisser had bitten down on one of my arms, but I didn’t care. I watched as the blood spilled from between its lips. It growled and tried to shake its head like it normally did, but I didn’t move. There wasn’t any pain. No fear of what would happen and my mind began to wonder. I remember the first true thought I ever had: ‘What would happen if I…’
The hound released its grip and yelped out in pain as I slowly pulled my thumb into its eye socket. It was surprising how easily it entered and how quickly the pain seemed to occur. Was this how I looked when I was in pain? It tried to pull away but I had grabbed onto a tuft of fur with my remaining fingers and it couldn’t escape. I couldn’t tell you where this strength had come from. I was a small and weak thing; an ant holding onto a giant.
Another of the hounds growled from behind me, but I was too busy to react. I had reached into my neighbor’s maw and taken hold of a tooth. Once again I was surprised by how easily I was able to pull it out. The second hound lept on my back and dug its fangs into my upper shoulder, but I didn't fall or even stumble. At some point the third had bitten into my thigh, but I only noticed after I had finished defanging my first assalent. What a sight that must have been. Something that looked like a small boy standing roughly 166 centimeters and weighing no more than 47 kilograms handling these beasts as if they were defenseless puppies.
“Come now rabbit, the dogs caught you quicker today. If you don’t start doing better we’ll hav-”
The son had found his pets. I honestly don’t remember how exactly I killed the others, but the first one must have bled to death. Another’s neck had been twisted almost to the point that one more turn would have popped it off. The last one had had its stomach pulled out through its mouth. Their master showed several emotions that didn’t make sense to me: surprise, anger, sadness. Anger was common, but he had never shown sadness for them before. Why did he cry for their deaths? Was it because even though he beat them almost as much as his father beat me, he still cared for them? Or was it because in fact, he was sad because he wanted to kill them himself? I decided to ask him.