A matter of life and … what’s worse than death – Episode 11

For a story that was conceived during those long boring hours flying in a steel cocoon, striving to keep away the thoughts that the plane and everyone in it could just simply disappear as planes have in the past, it has come a long way.

Whilst I have always had a fascination in what happened during the second worlds war, not the battles or fighting, but in the more obscure events that took place, I decided to pen my own little sidebar to what was a long and bitter war.

And, so, it continues…

 

There were tyre tracks leading up to the doorways from trucks that had recently made deliveries, or taken people away, maybe.

It was a short lane leading to another narrow roadway which I could see led away towards the front of the castle and the main road.  It was not part of the original castle and the track had been made recently, no doubt because of the need for secrecy.

We went across the laneway and continued into the trees where we would have enough coverage to reach the stream, it was a stream now but in winter I was sure it would be a river and able to allow a boat to navigate. 

Jack seemed to know where he was going, but he, like me, probably just wanted to get as far away from the castle as we could.  The undergrowth was denser as we approached the stream bank, and I had to pick my way carefully, and as quietly as I could.

It had sounded like a herd of elephants passing by.

At the stream edge, I looked at the water level.  Not very deep, and in places just thinly connected pools of stagnant water.  A boat could not be launched, not even a small rowboat.

I had previously committed a map of the area to memory, and I remembered the stream lead towards the village, veering off in two directions about half a mile before it got there.  I wanted the right branch, which I was hoping had more water in it, and hoping I might find a house with a boat.

Jack seemed nervous, coming up to me and moving his head, as if to say, let’s get moving. 

He was right.  I had no doubt it wouldn’t be long before they found me missing.

I had no idea who my saviour was, or why he had helped, but I was sure he was one of the men who’d parachuted in the day before.  How had my superior, if it was him, manage to get a man to infiltrate that group?

Or was it something else?

Had this been orchestrated so they could let me lead them to the other members of the resistance, and take care of that problem.  I doubted, with the compartmentalisation that ? would have insisted on, that the whole resistance in this area had been caught and neutralised.

Damn.

I hadn’t thought that far, or consider the possibility.

I would have to be careful.

I stopped, and immediately Jack came over to me.  His eyes were telling me, no stopping.  

Unfortunately, I would have to, and, worse, might have to backtrack to test my theory.

I knelt down beside him.  “Sorry.  I have to go back a little to see if we’re being followed.  You stay here and keep an eye open.”

He just looked at me.  Perhaps he only understood German.

I started moving back the way I had come, and he followed.  I stopped, he stopped.   Then I heard it, a laugh, and the cracking of a dry branch.  I’d been trying to avoid them.

There was a sort of track beside the stream we’d been following.  It wasn’t very distinguishable because I didn’t think it had been used in years, and it was hard to say if it was one that led from the castle to the village, but if I was to guess, it probably was the means for the castle owner to take a shortcut, as the crow flies.

No point going back now, we headed in the opposite direction, with haste, until we reached a small offshoot of the stream that leads into the woods, but there was no path beside it, so obviously there was nothing of interest along it.  I slid down into the stream and walked on the rocks in the water along the offshoot.

I hoped it covered my tracks.

Jack and I managed to get about twenty yards along, having in the last five, pick our way through the undergrowth, to a point where it stopped at the side of a hill.  Water ran down the hillside into the stream, but not today.  It was dry, but it would be a different story if it was raining, and with the rocky outcrop I suspected there might be something akin to a waterfall.

At least it proved cover and my pursuers would have to climb through the undergrowth to get to me, and then they would have to contend with Jack.

I could only hope they just kept on going.

 

© Charles Heath 2019

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