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…
When Carlo heard the shot, he stopped his ‘interrogation’ and sent a soldier over to investigate. To avoid getting shot inadvertently, I came out of the woods with my hands up, and, thankfully, was instantly recognized.
I went over to the barn and looked at the man on the ground. “Do he have anything to say?”
The other man, awaiting ‘interrogation’ was visibly shaken by the events. Two dead including Leonardo, and one a bloody pulp on the ground, with a very angry Carlo standing over him, his outlook was very bleak.
“You speak English,” I asked him.
“Who are you?”
“Alberto, sir. I didn’t agree with anything Fernando did. A few of us refused to kill any of the villagers. That was Fernando. He was the one who beat up the women.”
“You could have stopped him.”
“You know the bastard, Carlo. Not even you could, and you tried.”
Carlo grunted. To make sure the men on the ground were dead, he shot them again, and emptied his gun into Fernando, adding a curse with each bullet.
I glared at Alberto. “Pick a side.”
“I’m with you. There are several others, back in the castle. We would be able to help if you were planning an attack.”
“The last person who told me that is out there in the woods with a bullet in his head. I’m sorry, but I don’t believe you.”
“We can help.”
“And, you will. When we decide to go, we’ll take you with us. You double-cross us, the Carlo gets his five minutes. You try to run away, Carlo will hunt you down and kill you. Understood?”
“Fernando?” The man sent to find the defectors had come back.
I shot him before he could make any sort of move, just as he realized what had happened.
I motioned to the soldiers to get the defectors, who, hearing the shots, had started to flee. Two shots in the air stopped them. Two of them were small children, who would not have survived if they’d been taken to the castle.
All four were visibly frightened by what they’d seen, and of what their fate might be. I assured them, they were now in safe hands, and we were going not to the castle, but to a different place. Desperate people in a desperate situation, I couldn’t imagine where they’d come from, or their journey from Germany with nothing on a promise of safety taken at face value.
“We go to the castle now,” Carlo asked.
“Soon. We need a plan. Let’s go back and make one. But, yes. We go to the castle now.”
Storming the castle might have worked if I had a hundred men, not about ten. Granted Carlo would be the equivalent of another five, but in a hail of bullets, he would not last long.
I had to put myself in Wallace’s shoes and figure out how he would defend the castle once he realized Jackerby and the resistance members were dead.
Panic would be my first thought. Then, when rational thought returned, block off all the known entrances and exits, and post sentries outside. We had about twenty men to deal with, but a dozen were hardened battle soldiers, and that would make a difference. The fact they were inside covering most of the entrance points would make the job harder.
If we had to use the known entrances.
When the time came, they were going to get a surprise because Carlo knew of two others no one but he, and the owners of the castle, were the only ones who knew about them.
But, first, we had to even the odds if possible.
For that, one of Blinky’s team was a sniper, and with him was a sniper rifle and suppressor which meant we would be able to pick off the sentries without anyone hearing the bullets coming for them.
We were only going to get one shot at it because once Wallace discovered the sentries, he wouldn’t post anymore, and would know of our intent.
But, in the end, none of that mattered.
We just got a short communication that Meyer was in Florence and his arrival would be in two days’ time. We were charged with making sure he arrived safely and passed into the pipeline. The only issue with that was that we needed the castle to complete the process.
That meant we had to move up the plans to retake the castle, and there were always problems when details were missed. We had the advantage in our knowledge of the castle and its underground passageways, but would that be enough?
Then there was the surprise. It had just been learned that a very high-ranking Nazi officer was coming to the castle to personally take Meyer back to the fatherland. That meant we had to be in the castle when he arrived, so he could be sent back home for interrogation.
Both men, it appeared, had the capacity to turn the tide of the war in our favour.
Blinky simply shrugged when he got the news, then said, “We could do with some more men.”
Stating the obvious.
“It’s the war, you know. Shortages of everything.”
“Didn’t envisage this at Prep school, did we? Seems the world was a different place, but my father said it couldn’t last.”
“Nothing ever does. It’s going to be interesting when this ends if it ends. There are days I wake up and I can’t remember what it was like, before all this.”
”Well, maybe we get this done, and it’ll be a step closer. At least, we have to believe that.”
I nodded. “Good pep talk. As I remember, you were always trying to talk me into doing something stupid.”
Carlo had been listening to us was a puzzled look. “Are all you English like you two?”
Blinky answered. “No. We’re unique.”
Clearly, he had no idea what that meant. Blinky was going to try and explain but instead, shrugged. “Let’s go kill some Germans.”
That Carlo did understand.
© Charles Heath 2020-2022