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…
We gathered up what food there was to take with us. There were no weapons left behind. Leonardo had assumed correctly we would have used them if they’d been left there.
Carlo had changed slowly into an automaton, and I guess if I could read his mind, I’d know exactly what he was thinking. Enrico had attached himself to Carlo, and I knew Carlo would look after him.
When I said that the burials would have to wait, Carlo agreed.
We had a short discussion on what we would be doing next, and in the first instance, we would be going back to the other soldiers and the church. There, with both of our knowledge of the castle, its entrances, secret or otherwise, and the internal passageways which I knew Wallace and the others there were not too familiar with, we would formulate a plan to go in and pick them off one by one.
It seemed a good plan when we first talked about it, but on the way back to the church, and I had time to consider how it would work, it seemed we would only get an advantage once, and we would have to kill or capture as many as we could in the first raid.
Then it was going to be difficult.
Unless Carlo knew of more places we could enter the castle without being seen or heard.
I only knew of three.
And the first post we had to hit, and silence, the radio room.
My war had not been as start or as terrifying as most of those whom I’d known or worked with. My part was more selective, finding and eliminating spies, informers, and enemy cells on home territory.
Sometimes that would extend into enemy territory, particularly France where, as one who could speak French fluently, I found myself working with the resistance, using intelligence gathered by a network of spies we had, not only in France but in all parts of enemy territory. That also meant, sometimes, accompanying weapons and other supplies into enemy territory.
It hadn’t included anything like what I’d just seen back at the underground cavern.
I’d been told, often, about the enemy executing whole villages, and large groups as retaliation for resistance operations that killed German soldiers, and particularly officers, but I’d not seen it first-hand.
Now I had.
I’d been told, along with the others who had been at the training camp way back at the start of the war, that we would inevitably see atrocities. Those instructors, men who had survived the first war, were speaking from experience. We were told it would make us angry. It had. I had this immediate thought of doing as much damage as I could to the perpetrators of that massacre.
But we had also been told that we had to harness that anger, and use it to drive our actions, bot in a reckless manner, but with a measured calm and with planning. Blind rage, which had been predicted, would only get us killed.
I had left the cavern at the blind rage stage, but the walk to the church wore some of that off, and I began to piece together the seeds of a plan to get our revenge. We were only a small group, but even so, we could work more efficiently than those at the castle.
Leonardo was not going to tell Wallace that he hadn’t captured or killed me in his ambush, but it might make Wallace think that my ability to retaliate would be weakened. Leonardo would know that Carlo and I were still alive. He would not know about Blinky and his men.
It would be interesting to see if Wallace would commit any of his men to hunt us down, send Leonardo back out to finish the job, or just wait until Meyer turned up. His contact in Gaole would know about the castle’s change of allegiance, but he would not know that Martina was not going to be there to greet them when they arrived in the village.
That was several days away. We would have to be there, but it was going to be dangerous unless we found a way to neutralize the castle. So far, in my head, we’d neutralized the radio and got as far as the dungeons before meeting enemy resistance.
The same had happened in the next six scenarios, after playing out the last we had arrived back at the church.
Chiara was resting as comfortably as the Sergeant could make her.
He had made a more thorough assessment of her injuries, and aside for the severe beating, she had sustained a few cracked ribs and several broken fingers. The broken fingers were a surprise. The sergeant had reset them as best he could.
Other than that, she would recover physically. Mentally, he said, would be something else. She was lucky, he said, her torturer was an amateur, and Italian. Had it been the German Gestapo, she would be dead.
She was lucid and I told her we would make Leonardo pay for what he’d done. I thought it best not to tell her about what had happened back at the cavern. She had enough on her conscience without adding the senseless deaths of the villagers.
Then we had a meeting, where I asked Carlo to draw a plan of the castle and the places where we could breach their defenses and give us an element of surprise.
He had one that I hadn’t known about, one that might give us a fighting chance.
© Charles Heath 2020