A matter of life and … what’s worse than death – Episode 14

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 world 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…

 

When I woke it was almost dark, and cold.

Was it night?  I was in a room, on the floor, and the only light came from a light bulb.

I tried to sit up, but any sort of movement made my headache.  Then my memory returned.  In the forest, a man, then a woman, then nothing.

Then I heard a noise from the other corner and looked over.  Jack.  He’d been lying on the floor, possibly waiting for me to wake up.  He came over and lay down next to me.

Had they tranquilized him too?  It would have been interesting to see what he had done in the forest when they tried to take me away.  I was surprised he had not run away, and waiting for me to return like he had the last time.

Were we back in the castle?  Around me smelt musty, so it was possible I was back in the castle in one of the more remote dungeons’.  But, there was no iron door, or wooden door to the room, just a passage outside, equally badly lit.

So, I was not exactly a prisoner.

A let another half hour or so pass before I tried to get up again.  This time, my head hurt less, but the effects of the tranquilizer still made me a little unsteady, and it was necessary to remain near the wall for support.

After I’d taken several tentative steps, Jack joined me.

At the doorway, I stopped and looked out.  A passage, with several other rooms off it, and leading to a larger one where there was a table, chairs, and several cupboards.  A storage area, or a barn?

I walked slowly, if a little unsteady, down the passage and into the room.  At one end of the table was the woman “I’d seen in the forest, the one that had shot me.  Behind her, with a mug of coffee, or something else in his hands, was the man.

The watched me as I crossed to a chair at the end of the table, and sat.  Jack sat next to me.

The woman spoke first.  “Giuseppe tells me your name is Sam Atherton?  Your rank?”

I was hoping for an apology.  “Captain.”

“The name of the officer who sent you?”

“The one working with the men in the castle, or the man who sent me?”

“The one who sent you.”

I took a moment to consider what might happen if I did.  I guess it wouldn’t make much of a difference if the Germans found out who he was if they didn’t know already.  There was not a lot they could do.  And he already knew and had doubtless dealt with the traitor.

“Colonel Forster.”

I could see, now, the man had his hand on a gun beside him, and was ready to use it.  My answer, obviously the correct one, had eased the possibility of getting shot.

“You passed step one, Mr Atherton.  But, if you are not who you say you are, you will be summarily shot.  I suggest you don’t make any sudden movements.”

“I’m fine with that, but I have a question for you.”

“How do you know we are not working with the Germans?”  She leaned back in her chair and I could see she, also, had a gun, under her hands.

Exactly.  But, in order to make contact with the right people, the Colonel had sent their leader a phrase, one to use to prove their identity.  Since my pursuers were following me to find the remaining resistance members, I had to assume these two were part of that group.

“A phrase was sent two days ago.”  I think it was two days ago.  “Maybe three.”

“The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog, I believe is that phrase.”

It was.  Only the Colonel and I, as well as the resistance leader,  knew it.

“And you?”

“Around the rugged rocks, the ragged rascal ran.”  I don’t know who came up with them, but I hoped I hadn’t mixed up rugged and ragged.

She smiled.  Giuseppe looked a lot more at ease.

“Welcome to our nightmare.”

 

© Charles Heath 2019

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