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…
Jackerby came back and sat down. It was clear he was annoyed his lunch was interrupted.
“Atherton’s not among those Leonardo brought back.”
Johannsen silently breathed a sigh of relief. While he was still outside there was hope he would not get hurt. If he had the sense to keep his head down. Anyone else, Johannesen would not have cared.
“Who did Leonardo bring in?”
“Some woman called Martina, the one he says is in charge of the resistance. He said he raided their last stronghold, killed everyone except the three people he knew were in the resistance. They’re now in the dungeons.”
“We should be down there asking questions.” A pointed glare from Wallace carried the message, what are you doing here?
“No use. He nearly killed them, and it’ll take a while for them to recover.”
“To find out where Atherton is?”
“It seems that was the least of his concerns. Apparently, she apparently humiliated him so he was more interested in payback.”
“It wouldn’t be hard to humiliate a fool like him,” Johannsen muttered.
Wallace glared at him. “You should have more faith in our Italian friends, Richard.”
“My faith in him extends only to the fact he will drink the cellar dry.”
Wallace shrugged. “Once he’s served his purpose…” and left it at that. “Have you got onto London and asked them for further information on Mayer?”
“I think, by now, they would have tumbled to what’s going on here. Especially after I saw Atherton come out of the radio room just before Jackerby arrived. I asked the operator, and he gave me a coded message, but it’s not like any code I’ve seen.”
“And you’re telling me this now?”
“At least he didn’t smash it, which is what I would have done. We haven’t heard any more from High Command other than to say the traitor was thought to be heading for Innsbruck and coming over the mountains near the Brenner Pass. They’ve got people looking, but nothing as yet.”
“Now we’ve lost Carmichael, do we have a description of him?”
“Good. At least something is happening.”
After lunch, Johannsson went down to the dungeon to check on the prisoners. Wallace had assigned their ‘welfare’ to him. It was a difficult assignment seeing they arrived both exhausted, weak, and then subjected to an initial interrogation that determined whether or not they got medicines or food.
Most were left to starve. Any women were sent to the soldier’s barracks, where they were out of his control. None had ever come back, and he was ordered not to go check on them.
All told, there were 12 still in cells, with three due to be executed later that day. All had worked in an armaments factory and had admitted to having information about the bombs that were being dropped over England.
Another six had yet to say what information they had, and had been subjected to severe torture, the handiwork of two of Jackerby’s men, and who Johannsen thought had been trained by the Gestapo. In fact, he believed they were Gestapo, and that Jackerby, though he didn’t have the uniform, was a ranking SS officer.
Not a man to cross. Leonardo would find that out soon enough.
The most recent three, the resistance fighters were put in separate cells next to each other. The guards had been told to listen to any conversations they had, and report. As yet, none of them had spoken.
Considering the condition they arrived in, that was no surprise.
He stood outside the cell holding the woman they called Martina.
She hadn’t moved from the moment she had been dropped there.
A guard appeared beside him.
“Nothing yet?” Johansson asked him.
“I doubt they’ll speak again. If that’s what Leonardo does to his so-called countrymen; I’d hate to see what he does to his enemies.”
“You let me know if she says anything.”
The soldier nodded, then went back to his station.
The other two were men, one old, one younger. An odd group to be part of the resistance. The woman he could understand and was the key.
He now believed Atherton would come to rescue her. Like any good British soldier, his empathy would be his downfall.
© Charles Heath 2020-2023