Refugee by Alan Gratz Read Online (FREE)
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Josef Landau shot straight up in bed, his heart racing. That sound—it was like someone had kicked the front door in. Or had he dreamed it?
Josef listened, straining his ears in the dark. He wasn’t used to the sounds of this new flat, the smaller one he and his family had been forced to move into. They couldn’t afford their old place, not since the Nazis told Josef’s father he wasn’t allowed to practice law anymore because he was Jewish.
Across the room, Josef’s little sister, Ruth, was still asleep. Josef tried to relax. Maybe he’d just been having a nightmare.
Something in the darkness outside his room moved with a grunt and a scuffle.
Someone was in the house!
Josef scrambled backward on his bed, his eyes wide. There was a shattering sound in the next room—crisssh! Ruth woke up and screamed. Screamed in sheer blind terror. She was only six years old.
“Mama!” Josef cried. “Papa! ”
Towering shadows burst into the room. The air seemed to crackle around them like static from a radio. Josef tried to hide in the corner of his bed, but shadowy hands snatched at him. Grabbed for him. He screamed even louder than his little sister, drowning her out. He kicked and flailed in a panic, but one of the shadows caught his ankle and dragged him face-first across his bed. Josef clawed at his sheets, but the hands were too strong. Josef was so scared he wet himself, the warm liquid spreading through his nightclothes.
“No!” Josef screamed. “No!”
The shadows threw him to the floor. Another shadow picked up Ruth by the hair and slapped her.
“Be quiet!” the shadow yelled, and it tossed Ruth down on the floor beside Josef. The shock shut Ruth up, but only for a moment. Then she wailed even harder and louder.
“Hush, Ruthie. Hush,” Josef begged her. He took her in his arms and wrapped her in a protective hug. “Hush now.”
They cowered together on the floor as the shadows picked up Ruth’s bed and threw it against the wall. Crash! The bed broke into pieces. The shadows tore down pictures, pulled drawers from their bureaus, and flung clothing everywhere. They broke lamps and lightbulbs. Josef and Ruth clung to each other, terrified and wet-faced with tears .
The shadows grabbed them again and dragged them into the living room. They threw Josef and Ruth on the floor once more and flicked on the overhead light. As Josef’s eyes adjusted, he saw the seven strangers who had invaded his home. Some of them wore regular clothes: white shirts with the sleeves rolled up, gray slacks, brown wool caps, leather work boots. More of them wore the brown shirts and red swastika armbands of the Sturmabteilung , Adolf Hitler’s “storm troopers.”
Josef’s mother and father were there too, lying on the floor at the feet of the Brownshirts.