Lee Holt, who we had never met before, arrived promptly at Fort Gorgast on the Friday afternoon. His first words to us are The Reader’s favourites when assembled in this particular order: ‘What can I do to help?’. Help Lee did, for which we would like to thank him. I would also like to thank him for being the first to come and hang out with me in my hut in the woods on Saturday morning. We talked publishing and compared the sizes of our hangovers and it was all very pleasant. What I don’t want to thank Lee for is bringing this particular story to read at the Open Mic. It has haunted me ever since; in the hope of somehow freeing myself from it by passing it on to you – kind of like a virus, I suppose, or a bad penny – I am publishing it here with Lee’s permission. It’s dark and disturbing, and you should read it at your own peril.
I’m the kind of person who researches the hell out of things, so when I decided to come to this event, I wanted to know everything I could about Fort Gorgast. I read up on its nineteenth-century construction, its obsolescence in military terms in the face of advancing technology, and its eventual occupation by the Red Army in the closing days of the Second World War. I was struck though by the lack of history right after the fort’s construction, so I kept digging. I live in Potsdam, where the Institute for Military Research is located, and I spent some time in the archives a couple of weeks ago. And I found some things that I hesitate to share with you.