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 with 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…
Leonardo was a happy man.
It was quite a by coincidence that they had run into Chiara, and it hadn’t taken long to break her. He had thought of taking her to the castle to let Jackerby extract the information, but he was tired of them telling him what to do.
He would get the information, and then act, taking the ringleaders of the remnants of the resistance back to the castle, and expect to get that well-earned pat on the back for a job well done.
He’d said he would take care of the rabble, and he had.
Until Wallace had asked him where Atherton was.
And there was that small problem of Carlo, too, though he was not going to mention that in his report to Jackerby.
Francesco had softened the three leaders of the resistance up before taking them to the castle, taking particular pleasure in attending to Martina himself. The three could barely walk and were almost dragged up to the castle.
The first question Jackerby asked was why he had beaten them when he’d expressly been told to bring them to the castle alive and in a fit state to be questioned. None of the three was in any sort of state to do anything other than collapse.
Jackerby’s men took them to the dungeons.
The second question Jackerby asked was where Atherton was.
“That was basically the whole point of the exercise,” he yelled at Leonardo, who, by this time was getting annoyed himself.
“He’s still out there, and you can be assured he will be causing us trouble. Those three you dragged back, whilst a nuisance, hardly compare to what Atherton can do.”
“There’s only one of him. There’s no way he’s going to be able to break into this castle, by himself, and do anything.”
Jackerby shook his head. It would not matter what he said, Leonardo was just a fool, a petty little thug who quite rightly had been ostracised by the rest of the village. And when this exercise was over and Mayer was recaptured, he was going to take extreme pleasure in killing Leonardo and his followers.
“Go get something to eat, rest, then get back out there. I want Atherton found. Surely there is nowhere left where he can hide.”
There was a dozen, or more, places, Leonardo thought but he wasn’t going to tell Jackerby that. Instead, he had made up his mind to do as Jackerby asked, rest, then take a few hours the check all the entrances and exits to the castle before going back out to find Atherton.
Or at least that was what he was going to tell Jackerby.
In reality, he had had enough of these interlopers, and it was time he removed them from the castle. It was time he took over. The war was not going to end any time soon according to his sources further north, and there were worse places than a castle to hole up in until the war ended. Especially considering how much wine was being stored in the cellars.
Wallace was in the dining room and had been in the middle of lunch when Leonardo came back. Rather than talk to him, he sent Jackerby to deal with it.
Johannsen was sitting at the other end of the table, contemplating the wine. It was not a good idea to be drinking wine in the middle of the day when trouble could arrive from any number of quarters.
In fact, he was surprised that the other resistance hadn’t made an all-out attack on them. It seemed unlikely to him that those that hadn’t followed Leonardo up the hill, were of little consequence.
If anything, and of his experience of the resistance in France, one resistance fighters was worth 10 or more enemy soldiers. They had a reason to fight, for their country, and liberation for the Nazis.
Of course, Leonardo and his men were oblivious to the fact that they were working for the Germans, not the British, but to them, he thought, anyone other than an Italian was worth working for if they were prepared to pay.
Leonardo and his men were mercenaries. Guns for hire. They didn’t care who they worked for. But there was something else. Leonardo hated the villagers, and it wasn’t difficult to convince him they needed to be kept in line and report any newcomers to the castle.
Adding the reward was a bonus.
“Atherton’s not going to come and present himself at the front door, you know that,” he said to Wallace.
Then he decided to have some wine. It’s not as if the war would be arriving any time soon.
“You know him best. A fighter, an organizer, or office boy.”
“Paper pusher, by all accounts. I’m not sure why Thompson would send him other than he was desperately out of good agents. You saw how much resistance he put up.”
“Jackerby seems to think there’s more to him.”
“Jackerby sees shadows where there are none. Where did you say he came from?”
“Then he’s had too much sun.”
“A little advice then. I wouldn’t say that to his face.”
© Charles Heath 2020