A matter of life and … what’s worse than death – Episode 20

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…

 

Wallace was furious, and despite his attempts to stay clear of his commanding officer, Thompson discovered he couldn’t hide forever.

“Where is Atherton?”  Wallace asked the moment Johannsson walked into the room.

It was a question he couldn’t answer and had been equally as furious as Wallace when he learned of what had happened.  It was not supposed to go the way it did.  Atherton was to lead them to the remnants of the Resistance, and then Burke and Richardson had orders to kill them all.

The first part of the plan had worked as Burke had said it would.  It was his idea to ‘break’ Atherton out and then he would lead them to the resistance.  London would know where they were, and Atherton would also know, nay not exactly where they were, but how to contact them.  There were only about six left, according to Leonardo.

But he had been wrong before.  He’d labelled the remnants of the resistance as useless but to his chagrin discovered they were anything but.  He had three dead men to prove it.  And given the restraints on his current mission, he couldn’t go into the village and execute a like number of villagers for those men.

That would give away the fact they were not British, but Germans in disguise.  Best, he had been told, to let the matter be until their current mission was completed.  Then, Wallace told him, he could do what he liked with the villagers.

But like all plans, this one had gone awry.  Burke had lost Atherton approaching the village, and a thorough search of every building hadn’t found him.  Atherton, according to Burke, had completely disappeared.

Now Wallace was on the warpath because he didn’t like loose ends and not one as dangerous as Atherton.

“My men lost him by the time they reached the village.  They did a thorough search but he wasn’t there.”

“And you believe that?”

“I trust my men.  Atherton is a fully trained soldier with a few extra tricks up his sleeve, otherwise, London would not have sent him out.  There is a positive in this if he’s out of the way he can’t stir up any trouble.”

“But those so

Called remnants of the resistance can, and I assure you, will.  And more so now they know that we’re not exactly the British liberators they were hoping for.”

“You can’t believe that he found them.  We’ve seen none of them since Leonardo defected.  He told us he killed them all.”

“Well, he’s a liar.  Here’s an idea, get him and tell him to take his men down the hill and find them.  Promise him anything, as long he brings back Atherton and the rest of them dead or alive, preferably dead.  Unless you think you can do a better job.”

“Sir…”

A soldier came running in, then stood to attention until Wallace addressed him.  “What is it?”

“Carmichael hasn’t returned.”

“What do you mean, hasn’t returned.  I thought everyone was confined to the castle?’  He turned around to look at Johannsson.  “What the devil is going on?”

“Some men don’t exactly respond well to curfews.  Carmichael was one of them.”

“Carmichael?  Isn’t he the one who knows the Reich Marshall by sight?”

“Yes, sir.”

“And now he’s missing.  You still don’t think there is resistance out there, and making us look like monkeys?  This has Atherton written all over it.  How much did he find out?  I thought you had that situation covered.”

“I couldn’t exactly put him under house arrest, could I, not unless you wanted to hand out a sign that said German outpost.”

“Don’t get snippy with me Johannsson. Just get a team of five or six and find the bastard.  And while you’re at it, find this Carmichael.  Take those two fools that lost him, and if you accidentally shoot them, we’ll call them casualties of war.”

“Yes, sir.”  And how long before I share their fate, he thought.  Blame was transferable, so he’d kick it down the line.  “Jackerby,” he yelled out.  I’ve got a job for you.”

© Charles Heath 2019

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