Summary: Chapter 28, Enslaved
The Bird seems ecstatic about having Louie and the others at his camp, which he says he will run the same way he ran Omori. The three hundred or so POWs here are mostly Australian. The barracks are not equipped for the frigid weather, with a frozen river just below the building, holes in the roof, and a vermin infestation. Cremated remains of dozens of Allied soldiers spill out of boxes against one wall.
Louie learns that the Bird (Wanatabe, whom the Aussies call “Whatabastard”) had brought Louie and the men to him on purpose, with the intention to torment Louie. Louie was partly saved from his wrath by working outside the camp eighteen hours a day. When the spring starts to come, Louie and others become farm laborers. On April 13, they see the first B-29 on that coast, the first sighting of such a plane by the Australians. The Bird reacts badly to this and sentences the officers to hard labor. They will load coal onto barges.
The men survive this slave labor with small acts, including reciting speeches by Shakespeare and Churchill and by stealing food and other items. One day Louie is knocked off a ramp by a guard. He badly injures his leg and is forced to stay in the camp with the Bird. Sickened and starving, he begs the Bird for work and is given a new assignment. He must clean up the pig’s sty with his bare hands.
Summary: Chapter 29, Two Hundred and Twenty Punches
On May 5, 1945, a B-29 circles Naoestsu. Inside the mill where the POWs are working the furnaces, there is a crash, which the foreman says is a transformer blowing. It was, in fact, a bomb dropped by the B-29. Soon after, four hundred POWs arrive from slave camps in Kobe and Osaka, where bombs had already hit. The new arrivals inform Louie and others that Germany had fallen, and that the Allies are now entirely focused on Japan.
The Bird starts to work in another camp as well, called Mitsushima, where soldiers nickname him “the Knob” and plot to kill him. They successfully sicken him, but he recovers and returns to Naoetsu. When some fish is stolen, the Bird accuses Louie and other officers and orders them to punch each other in the face. The Bird watches all of this with pleasure. Louie, already weakened and sick, is punched over two hundred times and for several days can barely open his mouth.
As he has done before, Louie keeps hope alive by daydreaming of the Olympics and by praying. Food is extremely scarce. Around him, Louie sees that the Japanese civilians are also sick and starving.