The Great Brain Robbery
Mark A Davis
The sound of water dripping from rusting pipes echoed off concrete. Grandpa Anarchy, world's oldest hero, opened his eyes. He saw a dimly-lit warehouse -- an underground bunker of concrete and steel like a parking garage. The ceilings were cobwebbed and grime-covered. A tattered Nazi flag hung from conduit.
Somewhere in the gloom, rats scuttled about.
Immediately before him were several old operating tables. Three appeared to have female bodies on them, but two were completely covered in cloth. The third's face was exposed -- that of a lovely blonde girl of maybe seventeen. She appeared to be sleeping peacefully.
In the distance, tall cylinders of steel and glass loomed in the shadows. There were two rows of these, each about nine feet tall, like round fish tanks in an aquarium. Shadowy bodies floated inside a dark green liquid. Each tank was emblazoned with a swastika.
Grandpa tried to move, to sit up, but found this impossible. He tried to look about. Slowly his field of vision rotated, until two brains in jars on a workbench hove into view. These were glass jars in brass frames, with a greenish liquid within. One lay directly in front of Grandpa's view, while the other, off to the side, had a small brass camera placed before it, and a speaker at the base of the jar.
It took Grandpa but a moment to realize that one of these brains was, in fact, him. His view was from a similar camera placed in front of his own jar.
Footsteps echoed. A young woman strode forward. She was about seventeen, with long blonde hair, fair skin, and piercing blue eyes. She wore a white lab coat, beneath which was a German military uniform. She greatly resembled the girl on the slab.
"Ah, Herr Anarchy, you are awake!" she said. "Guten morgen! You are no doubt wondering where you are and what has happened to you...."
"This is about Hitler's brain, isn't it?" Grandpa said. His voice sounded oddly mechanical.
The woman frowned. "It is most rude of you not to return my greeting," she said.
"Lady," said Grandpa, "you've stolen my body and placed my brain in a jar. I'm not here to exchange pleasantries."
"I am no lady," she said. "My name is Heinz Hanneman. Perhaps you've heard of me?"
"Nope," Grandpa replied.
Anger filled her face. "I am the foremost scientist of the Third Reich!"
"I'm sure you were," Grandpa said. "By my count at least three hundred former Nazi scientists claim that title. Really, it's hard to keep track of them all."
"Indeed?" she said. "But I am the genuine article, Herr Anarchy. Where others have failed, I shall succeed. I have perfected brain transplant technology, and am also perfecting the ability to clone human beings...."
"Lady, I hate to break it to you," said Grandpa, "but brain transplants and cloning have been around for decades...."
"Grandpa?" This was a second voice, as mechanical-sounding as Grandpa Anarchy's. "Is that true? I'm just a brain in a jar?"
Grandpa's camera swivelled to take in the second brain in a jar. "Remain calm, Panic at the Dance Hall Boy. This is only temporary I'm sure. Miss German scientist here...."
"Call me Isolde, if you must," the woman said. "It is a name I have used for over fifty years."
"Isolde here will return us to our own bodies when this is over," Grandpa said. "Probably."
"Let me lay it out for you," Grandpa said. "We've got brain transplants, clones, and evil Nazi scientists, right? They're going to steal Hitler's brain and transplant it into a new body. These types always want to revive Adolph Hitler."
"Well done, Herr Anarchy! You have grasped the very essence of our plan," said Isolde. "Even now, my compatriots Zacharias Deutscher -- known as Nina Marianne -- and Alma Isabel Schönherr -- are retrieving the brain of the Führer. In the body of the greatest hero of your United States, it will be child's play to gain access to the facility you call Liberty Estate in Greensboro...."
Grandpa Anarchy groaned. "Liberty Estate is a top secret maximum security vault," he said, "where dangerous items of power and magic are entombed -- including Hitler's brain."
"Yes! We will bring it back here to our secret bunker, transplant it, and the revival of the Third Reich will begin!"
Isolde pressed a button. Lights flooded the warehouse. Now it could be plainly seen that Isolde and the girl on the operating table were identical -- as were all the bodies in the rows of cylindrical tanks.
"You know," said Grandpa Anarchy, "you're a bit late on the revival of Hitler train. You realize that he died 75 years ago? It's 2020; Hitler's brain...."
"Hitler's brain still exists!" the woman insisted.
"Yes, I know," said Grandpa. "I've fought many Hitler clones. I even fought Hitler's brain in a great white shark once. That gave me nightmares for weeks, let me tell you.
"The point is, his brain has been around the block a few times already. You ask me, you don't need Hitler to recreate the Third Reich. Does nobody remember that you lost the war due to Hitler's incompetent leadership? If I wanted to resurrect the Third Reich, cloning Hitler is the last thing I'd do."
"Excuse me," said Panic at the Dance Hall Boy, "but why are all of your clones female?"
"I was wondering that myself," said Grandpa.
"There have been... difficulties with the cloning process...." Isolde began.
"These are clones of Eva Braun, I'm guessing?" Grandpa asked.
"No," said Isolde. "These were cloned from Eva's sister Ilse. Do you know how difficult it is to get genetic material from Adolf Hitler or Eva Braun? Their bodies were burned by the Germans, and then exhumed by the Soviets and burned again then crushed and tossed into a river. It's a wonder that the brain of the Führer survived."
"Especially since he shot himself in the head," Grandpa added.
"Exactly!" Isolde replied. "Unfortunately, we are still unlocking the secrets of cloning technology. These clones of Ilse Braun are all we have managed so far."
"What, you haven't stolen Eieio Empire cloning technology yet?" Grandpa said. "I thought everyone had that."
"No, Mister Anarchy, we have not! We are developing these techniques on our own! We do not have access to the superior alien tech that you do!"
"So let me get this straight," said Grandpa. "Your plan is to place Hitler's brain in the teenage clone body of Ilse Braun?"
"Only as a temporary measure!" Isolde insisted.
"Listen, I don't want to tell you how to run your Next Generation Nazi Dictatorship," said Grandpa, "but I don't think Adolph Hitler is looking forward to being a teenage girl in 2020. I'm all for getting more women into leadership positions, but this is not how you do it."
"They're going to accidentally destroy my body," said Panic at the Dance Hall Boy, "and place my brain in Ilse Braun, aren't they?"
"No," Grandpa replied. "That'll never happen."
"Grandpa..." said Panic at the Dance Hall Boy. There was panic in that mechanical voice.
"Well... probably it won't happen," Grandpa added. "Highly unlikely. Although, if I were a betting man...."
An inarticulate wail echoed throughout the warehouse.
Doors slammed in the distance. Footsteps echoed throughout the warehouse. Grandpa Anarchy and his sidekick strode into view. Grandpa wore his usual rumpled gray suit with the silver anarchy symbol stitched over the left breast. His face was contorted into an evil grimace, and he carried a large steel case in one hand. The boy beside him was muscular and wore a multi-colored spandex outfit decorated with flashing lights and glow sticks.
"Aha!" Grandpa Anarchy's body exclaimed. "Herr Anarchy, you will never guess what we have hidden in this very case...."
"He already knows," said Isolde.
"Yup," Grandpa said. "So I guess now I'm wanted for stealing Hitler's brain from the Liberty Estate Maximum Security Facility...."
"No matter!" exclaimed the Nazi in Grandpa's body. He placed the case on one of the operating tables. "Prepare the body, Isole! We will commence the operation at...."
His voice trailed off as he stared within the case. Inside was something small and wrinkled swimming in green liquid, like a single rotting raisin in a massive vat of green Jello.
Fake Grandpa Anarchy said, "There must be some mistake. This dried, shrivelled thing cannot be the brain of the Führer...."
"He's been dead 75 years," said Grandpa.
"But... without the brain of the Führer," said the faux Grandpa, his voice rising in a panic, "all of our plans are for naught...."
"Look," said Grandpa, "I keep telling you, you don't need Hitler...."
"Seventy-five years of planning," said the faux Grandpa. "Seventy-five years of hard work -- seventy five years to perfect our technology... and at least half of that time I was forced to live as a young girl... and for what?"
"Look on the bright side," said Grandpa. "Totalitarianism is a crappy political model. You ask me, you dodged a bullet."
"This is all your fault, Heinz!" the faux Grandpa exclaimed. "I wanted to steal the brain in 1964, but you insisted that we perfect our brain transplantation techniques first...."
"Zacharias, you fool!" Isolde shot back. "You know we weren't ready at that time...."
Fake Grandpa Anarchy drew a pistol and fired. Isolde screamed. He fired again, and the young girl collapsed on the floor.
"No!" exclaimed Fake Panic at the Dance Hall Boy. "Zacharias, what have you done?"
"Only what needs to be done," Fake Grandpa said, turning the gun on the fake sidekick. "The dream is over, Alma. We have failed. All that is left is to end it."
He fired again, killing the boy, then he turned the gun on himself. A shot rang out. Then all was silent, save for the echoing drip of water and the scuttle of rats.
After several long moments, Grandpa said, "Well, that was predictable. But the good news is that we don't need to worry about being transplanted into clones of Ilse Braun...."