The Stalag Zone
2005 Papa Bear Awards - First Place
2005 Papa Bear Awards - Nominated
Best Short Story
This story was written in
response to the Byron Buckles challenge issued by Netrat.
However, this response doesn’t really answer the challenge as Byron Buckles
never appears in the story. However, Hogan does go
This story takes place during the episode “Hold That Tiger.” If you’ve watched the episode, you’ll notice several interesting things about the episode. It was the first episode after the pilot episode, and the most notable thing you can see is that LeBeau is wearing a blue sweater instead of his trademark red sweater. But what if that wasn’t the only strange thing about this episode. What if there was another little secret hidden between the actor’s lines. What if …
* * * * * * * * * * *
“Colonel Hogan, we’ve had some very strange occurrences in this camp,” said Colonel Klink.
Bemused, Colonel Hogan replied, “We have?”
“Yes,” continued Colonel Klink. “Can you suggest an explanation?”
“I could suggest one, but you wouldn’t like it,” replied Hogan.
A voice screams out, “CUT!!!”
Both Bob Crane and Werner Klemperer looked over at director Robert Butler. “What’s wrong, Bob?” Werner asked.
“I don’t know,” the director said. “Something is just not right with this scene. Here we are, filming our first episode of this brand new show, we’ve got humor throughout – a female underground agent, Tiger tanks crashing through the rec hall wall, and this final scene just falls flat in comparison.”
“What do you suggest?” Bob Crane asked.
“I don’t know,” replied the director. “Maybe we should wrap it up for the evening and try again tomorrow. By then maybe we can come up with a more humorous ending. Okay, it’s a wrap everyone!”
“Bob, how about a bite to eat?” Werner asked.
Bob answers, “Thanks Werner, but Ivan, Richard and I want to look over the barrack set. That trap door under the bunk is pretty interesting.”
Imitating Klink, Werner replied, “Hooogaaaaan, I know nothing about a trap door under the bunk in the barracks!” Both men started to laugh. “Perfect Werner! See you in the morning!”
Bob made his way across the set to the barracks. “Ivan! Richard! Where are you?” he yelled. He heard a muffled voice say “We’re down here Bob. Climb on down!”
Bob made his way to the bunk and looked over the edge. Ivan Dixon and Richard Dawson were at the bottom. “Hi guys, I’m coming down,” he said as he climbed over the edge and put his foot on the makeshift ladder. It felt a little flimsy.
“Watch your step Bob,” Richard said. “One of those boards is …” He hadn’t finished the sentence when he saw Bob’s foot slip. “Loose,” he finished.
As his foot slipped, Bob felt a strange sensation. It was almost like he was suspended motionless in midair for a second. The feeling passed quickly and was followed by the sickening feeling that he was about to hit the floor below … very hard. He tumbled down the stairs, trying to grab something to stop his fall. The last thing he remembered was the thud he felt as he hit the floor below. Then the world went black.
* * * * * * * * * * *
[Suddenly, a well dressed man appears in the door of the barracks.]
Bob Crane. Former radio disk
* * * * * * * * * * *
Kinch looked at the man lying on the ground in the tunnel under the barracks. He was worried. The Colonel hit his head pretty hard and seemed to have blacked out. “Colonel Hogan, can you hear me?” he asked, shaking Bob’s shoulders.
Bob groaned. “I think he’s coming around,” Newkirk said as he knelt beside Kinch. Kinch shook Bob’s shoulders again. “Colonel Hogan, can you hear me?”
Bob opened his eyes. “Yeah Ivan, I can hear you.”
Newkirk shot a glance at Kinch. “Blimey,” he said, “’E must have hit ‘is head pretty hard. He thinks you’re a Russian!”
Bob looked at Newkirk. “That’s good Richard, always in character.”
Newkirk looked worried. “Beggin’ the colonel’s pardon, but what character?” he asked.
Bob sat up quickly, a little too quickly. He almost fell back down again. Slowly he looked around. This doesn’t look like the studio set. Where is the framework of the barrack set above us? It looks like we’re actually underground! Slowly he asked, “Where are we?”
“We’re in the tunnel under the barracks. You took a pretty nasty fall on the ladder coming down the tunnel to check how the tank assembly is progressing in the rec hall,” Kinch replied.
Bob was flabbergasted. Uh oh, either the crew is playing a practical joke on me, or … could it be? No. It couldn’t How could this be real. It’s only a television show. This must be a practical joke. “The tank? Yes, the tank. How is it coming … Newkirk?” he asked hesitantly.
Seeing that his colonel was starting to come around, Newkirk answered, “Almost done and on schedule sir. I’m on my way to the rec hall now to check on things.”
Kinch helped Bob stand up. “Colonel, we should get back up there in case Schultz comes in,” he said.
Bob brushed himself off. This I’ve got to see! I don’t know what kind of practical joke this is, or how they made this set so realistic, but I’ll play along. “You’re right Kinch,” he said. “Newkirk, report back to me when you find out how things are going with the tank.” If they can play their roles, then so can I!
Bob emerged from the tunnel entrance and looked over at LeBeau. They even got Larry and Robert involved. But something is a little different. How did Robert get that red sweater? He had on blue today when we were filming. “Rob … um, LeBeau, where did you get that red sweater? You had on blue earlier,” he said.
LeBeau hesitated a moment. He hadn’t worn a blue sweater for years. “Colonel? I’ve had this sweater since I was captured. It got ripped when the dirty boche brought me in,” he told his Colonel. He turned and showed Bob the hole in the shoulder of the garment. “See?”
Bob looked at the garment. “Yes, now I remember,” he said. That was a quick recovery Robert. I’ve never seen you wear this red sweater before. But I’ll keep playing the game here. I want to see just how far you guys will take it.
Kinch was still standing over by the tunnel entrance. “Maybe you should sit down, Colonel,” he said. Bob turned around to see the bunk slide shut, hiding the tunnel entrance. Clever, very clever. They even have functional props!
“I think I’ll sit outside the barracks Kinch,” Bob said. “I think the fresh air will do me good.” This should put an end to this practical joke. They wouldn’t want me to go “outside” when there IS no outside to this barracks!
Carter looked at Kinch and opened his mouth to speak. Kinch gave him a quick shake of his head. “Good idea Colonel. We’ll make sure things are all set at this end,” he said.
Now that’s strange. He should have stopped me from going outside. Well, if they want to keep the charade going, I’ll keep playing along. Bob walked over to the door, opened it and stepped … outside!
Outside? How can I be outside? I’m supposed to be on
a television set in
Inside the barracks, Kinch told Carter and LeBeau what happened. “Should we cancel the mission?” LeBeau asked. Kinch shook his head, “No, I don’t think so. The colonel looks like he’s coming around. I think the fresh air will do him some good.” He paused, wondering if they really should scratch the mission. “Besides,” he continued, “everything is all set. General Hofstader will arrive here at camp in a little while, Newkirk will unleash the tank, and Tiger will escape with the blueprints.”
“Piece of pie!” said Carter.
“That’s cake, Carter!” LeBeau corrected, giving Carter a little shove. “Now get moving, we have an escape to run.”
* * * * * * * * * * *
Bob sat on the bench outside the barracks. This really is a barrack. This really is a
prison camp compound. There are guards in the tower, machine guns, barbed wire
and search lights. It looks like the camp in the studio lot, but somehow this
feels different. Bob shivered. I
don’t know what is going on here, but it looks like I am in a prisoner of war
Bob sat for a while, taking in the sights and trying to come to grips with his current situation. At times, various prisoners walked by and greeted their Colonel. Well, it looks like they don’t suspect that I’m not the real Colonel Hogan. I might as well continue this mission. It’s so strange though; this mission is exactly like the one we’ve been filming. If I remember the script right, the panzer general will come to camp to harass Klink about his missing tank, and then the tank will come busting out of the rec hall and lead everyone away from camp so that the French underground agent Arlene Martel, I mean Tiger, can get away. Well, here goes nothing!
Bob stood up and entered the barracks. He looked around and didn’t see any of his men. Ah, they must be in the Colonel’s office. No wait, make that MY office. He walked over and entered his office. LeBeau saluted as he was leaving. “Oh, General Hofstader’s on his way Colonel. He’ll be here in a few minutes,” Kinch said, wrapping the electrical cord around the coffeepot.
Just like in the script. Think Bob, think. This is not the time to forget your lines! “Alright I guess we’d better get back to the tank,” he said. “Newkirk, get over to the rec hall. It’s all set to go.” Bob picked up Colonel Hogan’s black leather jacket and started to put it on.
“Yawohl, mein Colonel,” said Newkirk as he turned to leave.
“And knock off the phony accent,” Bob said. That was pretty bad. Richard does a better German accent than THIS Newkirk does!
The next few minutes were a blur. LeBeau brought Tiger into
the office to show the Colonel the new uniform that was made to hide the
blueprints. Bob’s mind was reeling as he tried to accept the fact that there
were no cameras in the background, and no director to yell “CUT” to stop the scene.
It was all he could do to pay attention to Tiger and respond back in the manner
she was expecting. Focus, Bob. Pay
attention to Tiger, or she’ll suspect something is wrong. We can’t have this
mission go wrong now. He almost chuckled at that thought.
“Colonel Hogan,” Tiger said. She paused to look him in the eye. “It is not likely that we will ever see each other again.” Tiger my darling, you don’t know how right you are! Tiger continued, “So we can be frank, no?”
She’s not acting. I can actually feel the emotion, the fear. She could really be shot while trying to escape. Here I am, acting a part, and she’s an actual underground agent, fighting for her life and her country. Confused, Bob replied “No.” Then shaking he head, he continued, “Oh yeah, yeah.” Tiger continued, but Bob could barely hear her words. This is impressive, a woman risking her life just to meet me. No, that’s not true, to meet Colonel Hogan. Bob, maybe this Hogan is too good for you! Bob’s mind snapped back to reality when he heard the roll call bell.
He continued to stare speechless at the agent in front of him. “Roll call?” she asked. He replied, “Roll call.” Neither person moved. If this is real, then I have to make sure that she gets away.
Kinch appeared at the door, “Roll call, Colonel.” When neither Bob nor Tiger responded, he repeated, “Roll call, Colonel.”
* * * * * * * * * * *
Bob went outside to take Colonel Hogan’s place in the roll call line. This is it Bob. Don’t mess it up. It’s time to play this part as if someone’s life depends on it. This time, it does.
Events proceeded along as if in slow motion; General Hofstader arrived at camp and proceeded to interrogate Klink about his tank. So that’s Klink? I’ll have to tell Werner to put a little more swagger in his walk. What am I thinking? I’m not even sure if I’ll ever see Werner again. I’m not even sure how I got here. It seems as if I am dreaming, but it also seems so real. Schultz performed to roll call count. Boy, John really has his Schultz character down! The tank crashed through the rec hall wall and then proceeded to crash through the main gate, leading the Germans on a merry chase. This is it. Time for Tiger to leave. I hope this all goes as planned.
“That’s about the biggest diversion we can make,” Bob said to Tiger. “You’d better be going.” Instead of leaving, she leapt forward to kiss him. Now THIS was never in the script … but maybe it should be!
Schultz came running over. “Colonel Hogan. Colonel Hogan!” he said, trying to shield the kissing couple from view. “Kissing prisoners is verboten.”
LeBeau managed to urge Tiger to leave. “Au revoir,” she said, as LeBeau pulled her away. Bob was shaken. Goodbye Tiger. I hope you make it.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Bob stood in Klink’s office. So this is the real office. He even has a Kaiser helmet on his desk just like on the set! I thought that thing was there just because the props department had it left over from a World War One movie. Ah, I’m so glad that Tiger made it out. What a good feeling to have a mission go right. You know, I could get used to this! Klink was behind his desk, back turned to Bob. “Colonel Hogan,” he said. Bob was rummaging through a bowl of nuts on the desk. He picked up a couple, put them on the desk, and proceeded to smash them with Klink’s Kaiser helmet, just as the Kommandant turned around to face his senior prisoner of war.
With an annoyed look, Klink grabbed his Kaiser helmet and set it back down on the desk, out of Bob’s reach. “Now we’ve had some strange occurrences in this camp, some very strange occurrences,” he said.
Bob continued to eat the nuts that he had picked up from the table. “We have?” he responded.
Klink was leaning on his desk. “Yes. Can you suggest an explanation?”
Without missing a beat, Bob replied, “The Gestapo.”
That got Klink’s attention. “The Gestapo?” he asked.
Alright Bob, time to make something up here. “Colonel Klink, you’ve never had an escape at Stalag 13. That’s a record not even the Gestapo can match.”
“True, but I, I,” Klink stammered.
You’re doing good Bob.
He’s starting to buy this story. “It’s a plot to discredit you in
Klink looked puzzled, “But why?”
Bob was on a roll now. “Your efficiency is showing them up!”
“No,” said Klink.
“You have a better theory?” Bob asked.
Klink was incredulous. “This is incredible,” he said. “What can I do?”
Keep going Bob. Start reeling him in. Bob started sweeping the crushed nut shells on the desk into a pile. “Well, perhaps one of these days, we might just be able to arrange an escape,” he said. “Nothing big,” he shrugged. “Fifteen, twenty men.”
“Do you realize that what you are suggesting, Colonel Hogan, is treason?” he asked as he stared at the prisoner standing across his desk.
Don’t let up now. You’ve got him. “See, you’re too perfect!” he said. Bob then reached for the wine bottle on the desk, and poured himself a glass. “That’s why they hate you.” Amazed at the boldness, Klink just stared at the man helping himself to his wine. Time for the knockout punch-line. Bob lifted the glass in a mock salute to the Kommandant. “For after dinner,” he said as he drank the contents of the glass.
Bob quickly set the empty glass on the desk, grabbed a handful of nuts from the bowl and saluted the German Colonel. Stunned, Klink saluted back then angrily grabbed the pile of broken nut shells as Bob left the office.
Exiting the office into the compound, Bob flipped up his jacket’s collar and walked back to his barracks. Wait a minute Bob, what are you thinking here? This is not your barracks. This is not your jacket. These men are not your responsibility. But why did it feel so good to have successfully completed the mission? Oh well, since I am stuck here in this place, wherever, whenever it may be, I might as well make the best of it.
Bob walked into the barracks. Carter and LeBeau were at the table talking. Carter looked up as his Colonel walked in. “How did it go with Klink?” he asked.
Whatever you do Bob, don’t call him Larry! “Carter, Klink is easy. You just have to know how to handle him,” he said. “Now I want to see more of these tunnels!”
Carter and LeBeau exchanged confused looks. Colonel Hogan knows those tunnels as well as anybody. “Oui, mon Colonel,” LeBeau said. “Kinch and Newkirk are already down there.” As he finished the sentence, the bunk opened up. “In fact, here they come now.”
Bob made his way to the bunk and looked over the edge. Kinch and Newkirk were at the bottom. “Hi guys, I’m coming down,” he said as he climbed over the edge and put his foot on the makeshift ladder. It felt a little flimsy.
“Watch your step Colonel,” Newkirk said. “One of those boards is …” He hadn’t finished the sentence when he saw Bob’s foot slip. “Loose,” he finished.
As his foot slipped, Bob felt a strange sensation. It was almost like he was suspended motionless in midair for a second. The feeling passed quickly and was followed by the sickening feeling that he was about to hit the floor below … very hard. Oh no, not again! He tumbled down the stairs, trying to grab something to stop his fall. The last thing he remembered was the thud he felt as he hit the ground below. Then the world went black.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Ivan Dixon looked at the man lying on the floor underneath the barracks set. He was worried. Bob hit his head pretty hard and seemed to have blacked out. “Bob, can you hear me?” he asked, shaking Bob’s shoulders.
Bob groaned. “I think he’s coming around,” Richard Dawson said as he knelt beside Ivan. Ivan shook Bob’s shoulders again. “Bob, can you hear me?”
Bob opened his eyes. “Yeah Kinch, I can hear you.”
Richard shot a glance at Ivan. “Blimey,” he said, “’E must have hit ‘is head pretty hard. He thinks we’re still filming!”
Bob looked at Richard. “That’s good Newkirk. Much better than the phony German accent you used before.”
Richard looked worried. “Beggin’ your pardon, but what phony German accent?” he asked.
Bob sat up quickly, a little too quickly. He almost fell back down again. Slowly he looked around. Wait a minute. This doesn’t look like the tunnel. Slowly he asked, “Where are we?”
“We’re under the barracks set at the studio. You took a pretty nasty fall on the ladder coming down here to look at the set,” Ivan replied.
No. It couldn’t have been a dream. It seemed so real. Tiger. The tank. Colonel Klink’s office. Bob suddenly had an idea. “That’s it!” he almost yelled.
“What’s it?” Richard asked, feeling like he was missing something.
“I got it. You know that final scene that we were having trouble with? I know exactly how we can do it,” Bob replied. “Do you think Richard Powell and Robert Butler are still around? I’ve got to tell them about it. It’s perfect!”
Ivan and Richard helped Bob to his feet. “Are you sure you’re OK?” Ivan asked. “You took a pretty bad tumble there.”
“Yes, I’m fine,” Bob replied. “Now let’s go find our writer and get this episode finished.” Then he had another thought. “And I think Robert should change his sweater. He looks much better in his red one.” Bob walked off in search of the show’s writer, not noticing the looks Ivan Dixon and Richard Dawson were giving him.
* * * * * * * * * * *
This story includes direct quotes from the dialog of the episode “Hold That Tiger”, written by Richard M. Powell. I make no claims on the Hogan’s Heroes character, the Twilight Zone TV show, or any of the dialog that appeared in the original Hogan’s Heroes episode.
Text and original characters copyright 2004 by Jeff Evans
This copyright covers only original material and characters, and in no way intends to infringe upon the privileges of the holders of the copyrights, trademarks, or other legal rights, for the Hogan's Heroes universe.