Mice and Men
Rebecca Cloud

Papa Bear Awards 20062006 Papa Bear Awards - First Place
Best Portrayal of a Canon Character - Sergeant Carter



No ownership of the Hogan’s Heroes characters is implied or inferred. Copyright belongs to others and no infringement is intended.


This story takes place immediately following the episode "Operation Briefcase".



Chapter One



Carter had to admit, he’d been pretty darned good.


Not one to blow his own horn or dwell on his successes, Sergeant Andrew Carter made an exception tonight and let the prior evening’s events play in his mind. A private smile played across his face as he absentmindedly fingered the cheese he had hidden in his pocket. The cooks in the mess hall would never miss it, and it would be a well-deserved treat.


The door to Barracks Two opened a crack as Carter peeked in to make sure no one was inside. Seeing the coast was clear, he walked quietly over to his bed and knelt down.


"I have something for you," Carter whispered. He reached underneath his bed and gently pulled out an old box. Slowly opening it, he looked lovingly at the bright little piece of cloth that lined the bottom of it. His face fell almost immediately, however, when he saw that there was nothing else in the box.


Carter laid down flat on his stomach and swept his hand under the bed. "Felix? Come on, boy. Come on out, Felix. Felix?" After searching high and low, he tried to fight the panic that was building inside of him as he realized he was totally alone in the barracks.


"Oh no…"


The lid was thrown on the box, and the box shoved quickly under the bed as Carter heard voices coming from outside the door.



----------     ----------     ----------     ----------     ----------    



"Ow!" The sock Carter had been mending was thrown onto the bed as he quickly stuck his bleeding finger into his mouth.


Corporal Peter Newkirk’s head popped up from the bunk above him, and he leaned over to see what was going on. "Why, Carter, I do believe that’s the first word I’ve ‘eard you say all day!"


"Mm mmm mmm."


"Take it easy, mate," Newkirk sighed. "Take your finger out of your mouth—then try to talk."


Carter obeyed. "I said, nothing’s going right."


Corporal Louis LeBeau exchanged a silent glance with Newkirk. "Here, Carter," he said as he dipped a spoon into the pot on the stove. He, too, had noticed Carter’s downcast spirit. "Try some of this. You will soon forget all about your finger."


"No thanks, LeBeau. I-I mean, it smells great," he stammered, misinterpreting the scowl on LeBeau’s face. "I know I’ll want some later. I’m just not hungry right now, that’s all."


"That’s all right, Carter."


"Hey!" Carter’s face lit up. "I bet Newkirk will taste it for you!"


"Hmpff!" LeBeau turned back to the stove. "What would an Englishman know about fine French cooking?"


"I know more than I want to as it is," Newkirk shot back.


LeBeau rolled his eyes as he untied his apron and laid it on the table. "Carter, what did you mean, nothing goes right?"


"Oh," Carter sighed, as he picked up his sock. He stuck the needle through one last time, then laid it down on his lap. "You know, like the mission last night. I mean, none of that went right."


"Now, Andrew," Newkirk said as he jumped from his bunk. He sat down next to Carter. "I know lots of things didn’t go the way we wanted them to."


"Like Hercules getting killed," LeBeau said sadly.


"Yeah." Newkirk was silent for a minute. "But you know, these things ‘appen."


"That’s right." All three men turned to the voice, and saw Colonel Hogan standing in the doorway to his room. He walked into the common room and sat at the table next to LeBeau. "In the end, the main objective of the mission didn’t get accomplished." The room fell silent as everyone considered what they didn’t want to believe. While the briefcase they had provided General Stauffen had exploded, it hadn't done its job. Hitler was still alive, and the mission had failed.


"But you can’t beat yourself up over what you can’t control," Hogan said with a pointed look at Carter. "There was a lot that could have, and did, go wrong with this mission, but you guys did all that you could do. You kept up your end of the bargain."


"We did keep that bomb from blowing up General Stauffen," LeBeau said encouragingly.


"That was a close one!" Carter agreed. "And LeBeau and Kinch did do a great job making those lights go out and switching those briefcases!"


"And Carter ‘ere was a ruddy genius!" Newkirk grinned, all too willing to break the tension that rested heavily on the room. He gave Carter a hearty pat on the back. "The way you ‘ad that guard on ‘is ‘ands and knees, looking for a lost little mouse—why, it was brilliant!"


"And it was just the diversion we needed," LeBeau said encouragingly. "I don’t think I could have done better myself if I had tried."


"I don’t think anyone’s gonna argue with you on that one, mate," Newkirk said, dodging the apron that came flying at him. "Tell you what. Bring ‘im out ‘ere, Carter, and we’ll ‘ave LeBeau make ‘im a special treat."


"A gourmet chef?" LeBeau cried in mock outrage. "Cook for a mouse? You have to be kidding."


"Of course I’m kidding," Newkirk retorted. "We want to reward the little guy, not poison ‘im."


"All right, all right!" Hogan brought an end to the good-natured teasing when he noticed that one person didn’t seem to be enjoying the conversation. "What’s the matter, Carter?"


"Well, sir, I wasn’t pretending. I mean, I thought I was pretending at the time, but it turns out I wasn’t pretending after all, and I just thought I was, and now…"


"Come on Carter, spit it out," Hogan prodded.


"Felix is gone and I can’t find him!" Carter let it all out in a rush. "A little while ago I tried to bring him a piece of cheese, and he wasn’t in his little box where he belongs." Carter stopped abruptly. A grown man shouldn’t be so worried over a mouse, of all things! He forced himself to smile. "But I’m sure he’s okay."


Newkirk put an arm over Carter’s shoulder. "Now don’t you worry, Andrew. Why, I’ll wager the little guy 'as already found 'imself a cute field mouse and they’re out painting the town red even as we speak!"


"Oui, he will probably sneak in through the window in the middle of the night and be here when we get up in the morning," LeBeau added with a grin.


Three knocks rang out, and Carter got up and walked towards the bunk that hid the entrance to the tunnel system below. "I don’t know why you guys are making such a big deal out of it," he said as he gave the frame of the bunk bed two hard thumps. "I mean, it’s only a mouse."


"What about a mouse?" Sergeant Ivan Kinchloe asked as he climbed out of the bunk. He saw LeBeau shake his head, and he knew to quickly change the subject. "Colonel Hogan, I’m just about ready to send this list of supplies to London."


Hogan quickly scanned the list. "Looks like you’ve talked to Wilson." Kinch nodded. "I don’t see anything from you here, Carter," Hogan added as he continued to read. "Do you have everything you need?"


"I sure do, boy! Um, I mean, Colonel. Why, I have enough stuff to make you any kind of bomb you could ever want!"


"Good, good." Hogan muttered as he continued to read. Finally, he handed the list back to Kinch. "Looks good, Kinch. Go ahead and send it, then let me know when they’re sending the drop."


"Sure thing, Colonel."


"Speaking of bombs, Carter, how many do we have ready to go right now?"


"I don't think we have any more made," Carter replied. "We used the last of what we had already made to blow up that railroad tunnel, and then things got so busy with the last mission..." Carter trailed off. "But I've got plenty of stuff to make 'em, Colonel!"


"That's good, Carter."


"What’s on your mind, gov’nor?" Newkirk asked. " ‘ave we got another assignment?"


"No, but we should always be ready. Carter, I want you go to down in the tunnel and make a couple of bombs. They don’t have to be anything fancy. We just want to have enough so that if something came up on short notice, we'd be prepared."


"Yes, sir!" Carter exclaimed eagerly as he headed towards the tunnel entrance. "I won’t let you down, sir!"


"I know you won’t," Hogan said with a smile. "Now, Newkirk, I want you to go down and make sure all of our German uniforms are clean and in good repair. You’d better check the civilian clothes, too." Newkirk followed Carter into the tunnel.


"What do you want me to do, mon Colonel?"


"Are you low on supplies, too?"


"Oui, Colonel. We are short on flour and sugar, and I could always use some fresh vegetables."


"Who’s on duty outside the officer’s mess?"


LeBeau opened the window a crack. "Sergeant Schultz," he answered with a smile. "It must be our lucky day."


Hogan reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out two chocolate bars. "I have a feeling it’s going to be his lucky day, too."



Chapter Two


I hope this works. Carter very slowly poured a small amount from a vial of bright red liquid into the beaker sitting on the counter, then quickly backed up as far as he could in the small lab. …eight…nine…ten…




Carter, feeling a tap on his shoulder, opened his eyes and took his fingers out of his ears. “Oh, sorry, Colonel.” He grinned sheepishly as he straightened to his full height. “It’s just that these chemicals are sometimes unstable…”


“That’s all right, Carter.” Hogan ignored the young man’s bright red face. Instead, he focused on the vial of red liquid. “Looks like you’re doing good work.”


“Thank you, Colonel. Give me enough time, and I'll have enough to blow up every bridge in Germany!”


“Well, let’s not overdo it,” Hogan said with a grin. “We just need enough to blow up one or two. How much do you have left to do?”


“I think I’m about to finish here.” Carter answered as he unsuccessfully tried to stifle a yawn.


“Don’t stay up too late, okay?” Hogan asked as he patted Carter on the back. “I don’t want you to fall asleep and blow the rest of us to Kingdom Come.”


“Yes, sir. I mean, no, sir. I mean…” Carter stopped and grimaced. “I won’t, sir.”


“Good night, Carter.” With that, Hogan left Carter alone with his explosives, and his thoughts.


Boy, I sure do hope Felix is okay. Carter opened a jar of powder and reached for a measuring spoon. I mean, he’s got to be okay. Mice live by themselves all the time. He measured two scoops into the beaker. Yeah, mice lived for thousands, maybe even millions, of years without people to take care of them, and talk to them, and put them in nice warm shoe boxes, and give them bits of cheese. He stirred the powder slowly into the liquid, watching as it dissolved. Yeah, he’s okay. He’s got to be okay.


He looked at the beaker sitting in front of him. Surely it would be okay to leave it for a little while. Rummaging through the lab, he soon found all the supplies he needed. With arms and pockets full, he headed quickly down the tunnel.



----------     ----------     ----------     ----------     ----------    



Klink turned off the radio with a heavy heart. Now the man thinks he’s invincible. Unable to sleep, Klink had gone to his office to listen to the radio, hoping to hear some news of the day’s events.


Five conspirators already dead. Klink had no doubt that this was just the beginning. The executions would continue until everyone who had so much as thought a word against Hitler would be gone. How many hundreds would die? Thousands?


He immediately tried to banish these thoughts from his head. He was a loyal German officer. A soldier from a family whose history of service and honor was impeccable.


When Schultz brought him the dispatch from Berlin earlier today, revealing that there had been an attempt on Hitler’s life, Klink had reacted as any good German would. He was shocked. He was angry. They would certainly catch whoever was responsible and bring him to justice.


Now the Fuhrer was on the radio, promising his people the same thing. Revenge. Victory.


And now he thinks he’s invincible.


Klink knew he should be happy right now. He should be overcome with joy that the beloved Fuhrer had escaped this attempt on his life. Filled with confidence in the future of his leader and his country.


So why wasn’t he?


Without answers, Klink put on his coat and hat and decided to go for a walk.



----------     ----------     ----------     ----------     ----------    



He had to be careful. He didn’t want to hurt Felix, and he didn’t want Felix to be scared. Of course, he might still be scared. This wasn’t exactly a nice warm shoebox. And it was big out in the woods. There would be a lot of noises, and Felix wouldn’t be able to see what was out there. Carter knew he’d be scared if he was trapped in a big box in the woods—if he were a mouse, that is.


Carter smiled and pulled a cloth out of his pocket. He was glad he had remembered to take it with him. It wasn’t the cloth Felix was used to, but it smelled like Carter now because it had been in his pocket.


Carter put the finishing touches on the trap. There. Finished! No mouse would be able to resist it!


As he tiptoed towards the tunnel, a loud crack resounded through the quiet woods. Carter froze, trying to identify the sound, then almost panicked when he realized he had caused it by stepping on a twig. Still frozen, he willed himself to become part of the shadows, and listened carefully for a sign that anyone had heard him.


He heard the sound again. It hadn’t been him stepping on that twig! His eyes scanned the area around him, and he saw Klink pacing along the fence line. Of all the nights for him go for a walk! Klink turned around on his heel and started walking the other way, apparently lost in whatever thoughts were keeping him up this night.


Two voices, speaking rapidly in German, sounded out in the woods. Out of choices, but praying he was making the right one, Carter sprinted towards the tree trunk.


As he pulled the lid down over him, he made one final check to make sure he was unseen.


Whew! Carter leaned his back against the tunnel wall and took in deep, gulping breaths. He’d have to be more careful next time. He took deep breaths, trying to slow the pounding of his heart, and headed back to his worktable.


Author’s notes:


On July 20, 1944, an attempt to kill Adolf Hitler with a bomb placed inside a briefcase failed when the briefcase was inadvertently moved. Although he was injured, a table shielded Hitler from the force of the blast.


Within hours, five conspirators were arrested. Four of them were court-marshaled and executed almost immediately, while one was allowed to commit suicide. Many others would follow, including Field Marshal Erwin Rommel and Admiral Canaris, head of the Abwehr.


Shortly after midnight that night, Hitler gave a radio address, telling the German people about what had happened, and vowing vengeance.


In the end, over 5,000 people were executed.



Chapter Three


Man, that feels good. Franz let himself sink into the bed, or as far as he could in the thin mattress. Still, after a long night stomping around in the woods, it felt great.


It wasn’t that his job was hard; the prisoners in this camp were quite well behaved, and that was perfectly fine with him. But the hours were long, and he certainly wasn’t getting any younger. When he got back to his barracks in the early morning, he was always exhausted.


He supposed it could be worse—a lot worse. He was different than most of the soldiers he knew. They were eager to fight for their country. And while he loved Germany, and didn’t consider himself a coward, he did not share their sentiments. Fighting wasn’t high on the list of things he liked to do.


“Hey, you don’t want breakfast?” asked a voice from the doorway. Franz rolled over to see his friend Johann, another guard at Stalag 13 who lived in the same barracks. The constant cheerfulness of the younger guard wore on Franz’s nerves on mornings like this.


“No. Too tired,” Franz mumbled. Did I have that much energy when I was young?


“If you don’t want yours, I’ll eat it.”


“Fine.” Almost every morning was like this. Franz would go into the barracks and lie down. Johann came in, ate Franz’s breakfast, and then washed his socks—those stupid socks!


“You are too superstitious, Johann.” Franz grimaced as he watched his friend take off the same pair of socks he wore every night on guard duty.


“Superstitious? No, my friend. I’m lucky. Every time that I have worn these socks, I have been safe. Nothing bad has happened to me.”


“That’s because everyone and everything wants to stay away from you and your smelly feet.”


“I wash them!” Johann answered indignantly. “Besides, you’re just saying that because you’re jealous.”


Franz rolled his eyes in disgust. “Oh, very jealous. I have always secretly wanted a pair of magic socks.”


“Not magic, Franz. Lucky.” Johann said as he carried the socks to the sink.


“Humph.” This interplay was not uncommon between them. When Franz was first stationed at Stalag 13, he and Johann had hit it off almost immediately. It was a good job. Not being a ruthless or mean man, he had a hard time in the past fitting in with other soldiers. He just wanted for the war to be over, and to go home. Now, stationed here, he could live in relative peace. He considered himself lucky to be assigned to the same post with the younger man—not that he would ever admit it to anyone.


“Admit it. I haven’t been in any kind of trouble since I started wearing these.”


“Well, neither have I, and I don’t own a pair of magic…excuse me…lucky socks.”


“That’s because you’re with me.”


“Face it, Johann. You’re crazy.”


“Maybe. But I’m lucky, too.”


“Whatever you say,” sighed Franz. “You just make sure you and your socks stay quiet. I’m going to get some sleep.”



----------     ----------     ----------     ----------     ----------    



Major Wolfgang Hochstetter slowly stretched his neck, trying in vain to work out the stiffness that had settled deep into his muscles. He hated waiting to begin with, and being cramped up in a small car did not make it any more pleasant.


In this case, though, he was willing to bear it. Hochstetter had his prey on the run, and now he just had to wait and see where the chase would take him next. If his suspicions were correct, and he knew they were, his patience would pay off.


A very slight movement captured his attention, and he lifted his binoculars to his eyes in time to see a shadow flit across the window of the abandoned farmhouse. “That’s him, I know it!”


“Then let's arrest him,” said Edwin Richter, the young Gestapo agent who sat next to Hochstetter. A dismissive gesture from Hochstetter stopped him from opening his door.


“Nein. Let’s see where he goes next.”


Richter sighed. That’s all they had been doing. Waiting. Following.


Hochstetter caught the restlessness of his young companion. “Have patience. I assure you, it will be well worth the wait.



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“What’s up, Carter? You didn’t come outside with everyone else.”


Carter took his head out of his hands and looked at the door. LeBeau closed it behind him and plopped down on the bunk beside Carter.


“Oh, it’s, nothing,” Carter sighed. At least, it was nothing he wanted to share. He missed Felix, but that wasn't all; he was wrestling with questions about what to do about it. Should he quit looking? He wouldn’t want someone to give up if he were missing! No, he couldn’t give up. A person just didn’t do that to a friend, even if the friend was only a mouse. He did feel a little bad about going out alone last night. But he had only gone a few feet. And he hadn’t hurt anybody. Besides, sometimes Colonel Hogan let them go out, even if there wasn’t an assignment from London.


“Come on, Andrew,” LeBeau said, interrupting Carter’s thoughts. “I can tell something’s wrong. You’ve been really distracted lately. Besides, it’s not like you to keep to yourself like this.”


Carter answered with a smile.


“Okay, Andrew. You don’t want to talk, and that’s fine. But you know where to come if you do.”


“Thanks, Louis. I know.”


“Good.” LeBeau stood up and smoothed the wrinkles out of his uniform. “You know, Colonel Hogan talked you out of those ten days in the cooler that Klink wanted to give you. You should take advantage of it. It’s a beautiful day.”


Carter smiled. “Thanks, LeBeau. I think I will.”



----------     ----------     ----------     ----------     ----------    



Thirty-one. Thirty-two. Thirty-three. Hogan caught the baseball as it bounced off the side of the barracks and absentmindedly threw it again.


“Colonel, check it out. It looks like we’ve got company.”


Hogan turned at the sound of Kinch’s voice, then scowled when he saw to whom the Sergeant was referring. “What’s he doing here?”


“It’s a cinch he didn’t come here on a social visit. He probably wants us to get him out of Germany.”


“Oh swell! And he’s trying to announce it to the world.” Hogan slammed the ball into the mitt harder than he should have, but he ignored the pain. “He has to know what’s been going on in Berlin. Hitler’s had everyone who was involved in that plot to kill him shot, and then some!”


“Everyone that he knows about so far, that is,” Kinch said dryly.


“This is trouble,” Hogan said as he watched General Stauffen follow Klink into his office.


Kinch turned to leave. “I’ll go warm up the coffeepot.”


“Hold it!” Hogan said, grabbing Kinch’s arm. They watched in silence as two black cars rolled into camp. There was no mistaking the flags that flew from the hoods.




“Make that big trouble," Hogan corrected.


Newkirk, LeBeau, and Carter rushed up to join them as the doors opened and Major Hochstetter jumped out of the car. The Gestapo agent practically ran into Klink’s office, four heavily armed guards at his heels.


“What are we going to do, Colonel?” Carter asked.


“I don’t know yet,” Hogan said as he handed his mitt and ball to Kinch. “Hopefully I’ll figure it out by the time I get there.”


He hadn’t even made it halfway before Sergeant Schultz stepped out of the office. When he saw Hogan, he broke into a run. “Nein, Colonel Hogan! All prisoners are restricted to barracks!”


“Come on Schultz,” Hogan pleaded as he tried to sidestep the German Sergeant.


“No, Colonel Hogan, you do not understand!”


“I understand perfectly, Schultz. I understand that I need to see Klink, and you are in my way.” Hogan stepped around the Sergeant and kept walking.


“Schmidt! Gruper!” Schultz called out, and within seconds, Hogan found himself facing the business end of two machine guns. Schultz grabbed the angry prisoner by the arm and led him away from the guards and through the now deserted compound. “Please, Colonel Hogan. It is for your own good.”


“All right, Schultz.” Hogan craned his neck and managed to catch a glimpse of General Stauffen being literally dragged towards the car by two of the guards. The two remaining guards took positions outside the car.


“I think this time,” Schultz said as he pushed Hogan through the door, “it is good if we both see nothing, and know nothing.”


Hogan took off his cap and joined his men, who had been listening to the drama playing out in Klink’s office. “No luck,” Hogan explained. “Every guard out there is on edge—even Schultz. Hochstetter’s got the Krauts running scared.”


“I don’t blame them,” LeBeau said sourly. “Right now I feel the same way.”


“Hochstetter’s already asking a lot of questions,” Kinch said somberly. “Hard questions.”


“And it won’t be long until he’s back here, demanding answers,” Hogan agreed.


“Stauffen didn’t even have a chance!” Carter lamented. “Are we gonna do anything to help him?”


“Forget it. They’re going to have him under extremely heavy guard, and it won’t be long before they’re replacing those handcuffs with a firing squad.” He sat down heavily on the bottom bunk. “I’m afraid it’s out of our hands now, boys.”



Chapter Four



“You are making some very serious accusations, Major.” General Albert Burkhalter puffed on his cigar as he leaned back in the chair behind his desk. “I will have to give it some thoughtful consideration.”


“With all due respect, General,” argued Major Hochstetter, as he gave the General the closest thing he could manage to a smile. “We do not have the time for, as you call it, ‘thoughtful consideration’. The Fuhrer is quite anxious to get this matter resolved—as I’m sure you know.”


Burkhalter scowled as the Gestapo Major’s words hit their intended mark. “Of course I know. Naturally, everyone close to the Fuhrer is under suspicion.” Burkhalter leaned forward in his chair, gazing at Hochstetter intently. “I need your word, Major, that you have more than just your suspicions in this case. We have seen how successful those have been in the past.”


Hochstetter bristled, and quickly bit his tongue to keep back the words he wished he could say to the arrogant man sitting in front of him. As much as he hated it admit it, he needed Burkhalter’s cooperation. “I assure you, I will have all the evidence I need to convict Stauffen, and I will flush out everyone who has helped him.”


“Very well. You may proceed as planned.” Burkhalter slowly ground out his cigar. “But bear in mind, Major, that you alone will be held accountable if anything goes wrong.”



----------     ----------     ----------     ----------     ----------    



“We’re placing this in your hands now, Papa Bear.” Colonel Alfred Wembley stood at the console of the communications center and listened to the heated objections coming over the line. “I understand your concerns, old boy,” Wembley said. “But you need to understand that the information General Stauffen has is vital to the Allied war effort. It could save the lives of thousands of our boys. We need to get him to England as soon as possible.”


Suddenly, Wembley pulled the headset away from his ear, holding it at a distance as a tirade of words could be heard across the room. A young woman looked up from her console, raising an eyebrow when she heard the flood of angry protests coming from Papa Bear. When she saw the scowl on Wembley’s face, however, she quickly turned back to her work.


The clipped tone of Wembley’s voice betrayed his irritation. “I understand that you want to protect your men, Colonel.” Wembley sighed, and continued in a much softer voice. “Look, I’m sorry we have to ask you to do this for us; I really am. But there is no one who we trust more to do it right. We’re counting on you and your men to pull through for us on this one, Hogan.”



----------     ----------     ----------     ----------     ----------    



Hogan’s men knew it was bad when they heard him yelling down in the tunnel. Not even the noise of a spirited poker game had been able to cover up the fact that their commanding officer was hearing something he was not happy with. The game quickly died as each person listened to see if he could hear what was being said. Even when Newkirk finally worked up the courage to get closer and listen, he didn’t hear anything, and he had to scramble back to his seat as the Colonel came up the ladder.


They knew it was really bad when Hogan climbed up from the tunnel, stormed into his office, and, without a word, slammed the door behind him. Now, thirty minutes later, they were still waiting for him to come out and explain what had happened.


“Boy, Colonel Hogan’s really upset,” Carter whispered. Like the others, he knew that anything that affected Hogan like this would affect them all.


Finally the door opened, and everyone in the barracks sat up, waiting expectantly. Hogan came out looking very tired. “Kinch, LeBeau, you’ll go and get the supply drop Wednesday night.”


“Okay, Colonel,” Kinch replied.


Hogan poured himself a cup of coffee, noticing how loud the coffeepot sounded in the silent room when he placed it back on the stove. Slowly, he turned to face the questioning gazes of his men.


“The Krauts are taking Stauffen on a little trip to Berlin Tuesday night,” he explained. “And I’m willing to bet he hasn’t got a return ticket.”


“And just how do we fit into this?” Newkirk asked, even though he was certain he didn’t want to hear the answer.


“It’s up to us to save him.”



----------     ----------     ----------     ----------     ----------    



Schultz tapped softly on Klink’s door. Although he knew he was risking the Kommandant’s wrath—Klink had a standing order that no one was to disturb his sleep, and he had found himself in trouble many times for breaking it—the Sergeant was pretty sure that sleep was the last thing Klink would be doing.


Hearing the soft reply from the other side of the door, Schultz opened it quietly, and found Klink gazing out the window. “I brought you some more warm milk, Kommandant.”


Klink did not turn around as Schultz set the milk on the nightstand and took the empty glass. Sleep evaded him tonight, as it had last night after Hochstetter left the camp. And tonight, as last night, Klink sat and stared out the window, watching the moonlight reflecting on the snow and listening to the wind wailing pitifully in the night.


He could understand why the Gestapo had questions. That someone who had been in the room with Hitler was at Stalag 13 before the explosion might not have been suspicious in and of itself; the fact that this same man came back after the attempt had failed made suspicion a certainty. And Klink for the life of him could not understand why Stauffen had come to see him.


“I thought it might help you sleep,” Schultz continued uncertainly when he got no answer from Klink.


The wind’s longing cry echoed the despair Klink was feeling. Who could sleep?


“Thank you, Schultz.”



----------     ----------     ----------     ----------     ----------    



Colonel Hogan hadn’t been kidding when he said they’d all be busy tonight. It was almost three o’clock in the morning, and Carter was less than halfway through with the explosives he had to make. Fortunately, they had tomorrow night to work, too, since they didn't have to go get Stauffen until Tuesday.


The tunnel had been a flurry of activity all night, each man busy with his assigned task, and Colonel Hogan making the rounds, checking to make sure that everything was going as planned. Only in the last few minutes had the others called it quits and gone upstairs for the night. Carter was ready for his bed, too; it has been a long week, and he was exhausted. He just had to finish one last thing before he could call it a night.


He tried to keep himself from getting his hopes up as he lifted the lid off of the mousetrap he had hidden so carefully in the woods. He hadn’t been able to help it, though, and his heart fell when he looked at the still empty box.


Oh, Felix. Where are you? Why don’t you come home?



----------     ----------     ----------     ----------     ----------    



“I’m not crazy!” Johann proclaimed defensively. When Franz didn’t answer, Johann sighed in frustration and rolled his eyes. Grabbing his gun, he turned to leave.


“All right,” Franz placated, catching up to his young friend. “You’re not crazy. But you have been rather skittish lately.” He gave his friend a sideways look. “I mean, hearing noises, seeing shadows, and every time there has been no one.”


“There has to be an explanation,” Johann said. “I mean, just because we can’t see anyone out here doesn’t mean that that there isn’t something out here.”


“Don’t be ridiculous!” Franz admonished the younger guard. “You know as well as I do that…” He quit talking mid-sentence when he saw a slight movement from the clearing to his right. But when he turned to look, he saw nothing out of the ordinary—only snow being kicked about by the strong wind, floating across the ground and swirling around the tree stumps that sat in the clearing. When a particularly strong gust of wind blew, it seemed as if the trees themselves were moaning. Franz shivered involuntarily. Suddenly, he didn’t feel like being in the woods any more.


He realized that Johann was waiting for him to finish his sentence. He looked quickly at his watch. “Our shift is over. Come on—let’s get out of here.”



Chapter Five


 “Raus, Raus! Roll call! Everybody up!”


“Hold it down, Schultz.” LeBeau grumbled. “Don’t you know people are trying to sleep around here?”


“Yeah, keep it down, Schultzie.” Newkirk pulled his blanket up to his chin and turned his back to the German Sergeant. “The neighbors are going to start complaining about all the ruddy noise you’re making.”


“No!” Schultz grabbed Newkirk’s blanket and ripped it off the bed. Pulling on the Corporal’s jacket, he pleaded. “Colonel Klink is in a bad mood this morning. Already I have been in trouble two times!”


“Then you’d better get out there in a hurry, Schultz,” Kinch suggested helpfully.


Schultz was just pulling the door open when he realized he’d been duped. “No,” he growled. “You have to go out with me!”


“All right, fellas.” Hogan emerged from his room, yawning as he zipped up his brown jacket. “What’s all the ruckus about?”


“Roll call.” Schultz sounded almost desperate as he pleaded with Hogan. “Kommandant Klink will be angry.”


“Is that all?” Hogan asked as he yawned once more, lazily stretching his arms over his head.


“Please, Colonel Hogan.”


“Sure thing, Schultz.” As Hogan followed the men out, he turned to the flustered guard. “See what can happen when you ask nicely?”


As the last man walked out the door, Schultz took a final look around the barracks and saw a lumpy figure lying in Carter’s bed. “Carter!” He shoved the form under the covers. “Carter, wake up!” From outside, Schultz could hear Klink yelling.


“Repoooooort!” Klink strode up to the gathered prisoners, swagger stick tucked smartly under his arm. He wanted this roll call to be a short one. The day had been too long already, and the sooner he could get the day started, the sooner he could get all of his paperwork done and then try to get some sleep.


“What is going on here?” Klink demanded as he saw Schultz pushing Sergeant Carter out the barracks door. “What was this prisoner doing inside?”


“S-sorry, Herr Kommandant. He was sleeping.”


“Sleeping?” Klink walked up to Carter, standing nose to nose with him. “Don’t you think the rest of us would like to be sleeping, too, Sergeant?”




Carter’s sleepy reply only served to anger Klink further. But as he studied the American’s pale face and droopy eyes, he took an instinctive step back. “You’re not sick, are you?”


“No, Colonel,” Carter said with an obviously stuffy nose. “Just a little cold.” He finished his response with a sneeze.


“Schultz!” Klink jumped back involuntarily, quickly rubbing his hands on his clothes as if he could wipe the germs away. “Put this man on report!”


“You can’t punish a man for being sick!” Hogan protested.


“I can, and I will,” Klink retorted. “And one more argument from you, and you will be joining him!” Turning to Carter, he said, “In the future, you will come out when called, and I don’t care how sick you are. Is that understood?”


“Yes, sir.” Carter answered meekly.


“Colonel Klink, that’s not fair and you know it!” Hogan exclaimed.


“Enough!” Klink did a quick about face and walked up to the front of the formation. “Colonel Hogan, your men are dismissed. I want to see you in my office in an hour.”



----------     ----------     ----------     ----------     ----------    



“I’ve been talking with General Stauffen. You remember him, don’t you Klink?”

“Yes. Yes, I remember.” Hochstetter’s arrival at Stalag 13 was something Klink had been expecting, and dreading, for days now. He took threats from the Gestapo seriously, and had no doubts that Hochstetter would keep his promise to return. Still, he was not prepared, and he had to concentrate on keeping his knees from shaking.


“I don’t know how he made it to General.” Hochstetter casually traced the outline of Klink’s humidor as he talked. “The man is weak. A few well placed ‘reminders’, and he was quite eager to talk.” Klink mentally compared the expression on the Major’s face to the way a lion might look right before it pounced on its dinner. “And do you know what, or should I say who, he talked about, Klink?”


Klink had resolved to be strong, but he was quickly losing that battle. He backed up until he found himself behind his desk. “What? I mean, who?”


“You, Klink!” Hochstetter placed his hands on the edge of Klink’s desk. Leaning across the desk, he got as close as he could to Klink, who at the same time was backing up to the wall.


“Me? Why would he be talking about me?”


Hochstetter straightened to his full height. “Oh, I think that’s rather obvious, Colonel. We both know you were involved.”


“But Major, I swear, I know nothing about it.”


“Is that so?” Hochstetter sneered. “Then tell me why, Klink, did General Stauffen came to Stalag 13 before and after he went to a meeting with the Fuhrer—a meeting that ended with an explosion. Tell me, Klink!”


“I don’t know.” Klink hoped he didn’t sound as defeated as he felt.


“And he had a briefcase when he came to see you, didn’t he?”


“I didn’t really pay attention…”


“And yet,” Hochstetter said as he started pacing in front of Klink’s desk, “he did not have that briefcase when he was arrested. Can you explain that, Klink?” When he saw that no answer was forthcoming, Hochstetter continued. “And, can you explain why you set up a roadblock to stop General Stauffen immediately after he left here?”


“I did not set up that roadblock to stop Stauffen,” Klink explained frantically. “One of our prisoners escaped, and we were trying to find him.”


“You expect me to believe that?” Hochstetter mocked.


Klink saw a glimmer of hope. “Yes, it’s true. You can ask Sergeant Schultz. He and Colonel Hogan took the truck to go and bring him back.”


“You let Colonel Hogan out of this camp to go and look for an escaped prisoner?” Hochstetter shouted. “Klink, even I do not believe that you could be that stupid.”


“But Colonel Hogan gave me his word as an officer that he would not try to escape,” Klink explained lamely.


“Hogan gave you his word—Klink, I will tell you what I think of Hogan’s word. I believe it even less than I believe yours!”


“Major Hochstetter, I don’t know what to say to make you believe me. But I promise you, I didn’t have anything to do with the explosion. I am a loyal officer!”


“Yes, and so was Stauffen. Soon you will both see what happens to ‘loyal officers’ who decide they are above the law!” Hochstetter snatched his gloves off the desk and whirled around. Yanking the door open, he found himself face to face with Hogan.


“How nice to see you again, Major.” Hogan made sure he gave Hochstetter his most ingratiating smile. “You know, I was just saying to Colonel Klink the other day, ‘It’s been a long time since Major Hochstetter’s dropped in.’ We miss you when you’re not here, you know.”


“I wasn’t here to see you!” Hochstetter snapped. But then, his lips curled up into a predatory smile that turned Hogan cold inside. “But don’t worry, Colonel Hogan. We will be spending some quality time together very soon.”


As the door slammed shut, Hogan watched Klink, looking pale and drawn, fall into his chair and put his head in his hands. Quickly, Hogan filled a glass of schnapps to the top. “Here, Kommandant. You look like you could use this.”


“Thank you, Hogan.” Klink downed it in one shot.


“You wanted to see me, Kommandant?” Hogan asked hesitantly. He didn’t need to ask what had happened; he had been able to hear it all through the door, and he hadn’t liked what he heard. Now that Hochstetter knew Hogan had been out of camp when Stauffen was stopped at the roadblock, it wouldn’t be long before he was able to start connecting the dots.


“Did I?” Klink looked at Hogan as if the senior POW had just appeared out of thin air. “Oh yes. I suppose I did. No, I don’t need to see you. You are dismissed.”


On the way back to the barracks, Hogan walked as slowly as he could without drawing attention to himself. He knew that there were men waiting in the barracks who were looking to him for guidance.


There were several reasons he hadn’t wanted to accept this mission. Not the least was the danger it would present to his men. Although he knew they would willingly rise to any challenge, he didn’t want to order them to do what he considered to be a suicide mission. And yet, when he had asked for volunteers, not a single man had hesitated.


It wasn’t the actual mission that posed the biggest threat. With Hochstetter sniffing around, and getting so close to the answers, they were in enough danger of being found out as it was. Now, to rescue the man who had thrown so much suspicion on them in the first place, and to do it in such a close vicinity of their camp, was basically inviting the Gestapo to come and arrest them all.


When he reached the barracks, he found it empty. Thankful that he wouldn’t have to face his men just yet, he walked into his office. Leaning against the door, he closed his eyes and made a conscious effort to breathe. Suddenly the walls of his quarters were too close, too confining. He knew that his men would obey any orders he gave them. He just didn’t want to think about what that obedience might cost.



----------     ----------     ----------     ----------     ----------    



“Werd' ich bei der Laterne steh'n, wie einst Lili Marleen.”


Richter took another sip of his beer as the song, barely audible over the clinking of dishes and the sounds of laughter, finished playing. Beside him, a waitress flirted shamelessly with a German Captain, no doubt hoping that by helping him forget about the trials of the war for a while, he would in return help her with a generous tip.


“Oh, danke.” He smiled at the pretty young brunette who handed him his plate, and was rewarded with a smile in return. As he ate hungrily, he looked at the plate sitting across from him and noted that the food must be getting cold.


Several minutes later, Hochstetter appeared and took a seat.


“Is it all arranged?” Richter asked as he speared another forkful of vegetables.


“Ja. Soon we’ll have Klink right where we want him.”


“Major,” Richter asked, “may I ask why you are so interested in Kommandant Klink? From everything I have seen and heard, the man is an idiot.”


“That he is,” Hochstetter answered. He set down his fork, having taken only one bite of his wienerschnitzel, and reached for his beer instead. “But Klink is not the one we’re after.”


“Then why are you pursuing him?”


“Because,” Hochstetter answered, "once he is out of the way, we can get to the man we really want.”


“And who is that?”


“Colonel Hogan.”



Chapter Six


 “Stalag 13, Kommandant Klink’s office.”


Hilda looked shocked as she listened to the person on the other end of the telephone line. “I’m sorry, can you please repeat that?”


Newkirk and LeBeau exchanged glances from their positions in Klink’s outer office, where they were finishing up the cleaning job they had been assigned. They both had many things they needed to be doing down in the tunnels to prepare for tomorrow night’s assignment, but with the extra attention being given to the camp, and the high level of tension among the guards, all the prisoners made it a point to be seen carrying on business as usual.


“Just a moment, please.”


Newkirk and LeBeau slowly gathered up their cleaning supplies and moved towards the exit as Hilda knocked tentatively on the Kommandant’s door.


“Colonel Klink?”


Klink set his pencil down impatiently when his secretary entered the room. “Fraulein Hilda, didn’t I give instructions that I was not to be disturbed?”


“I’m sorry, Kommandant,” Hilda said uncertainly. “General Stauffen is on the phone. He wants to talk to you.”


Moments later, Newkirk and LeBeau burst into Barracks 2. “Colonel, you’ve got to hear this phone call!” Newkirk exclaimed, out of breath, as LeBeau ran to the bunk bed and quickly opened the entrance to the tunnel below. Hogan, hearing the urgency in Newkirk’s voice, wasted no time. Not asking for an explanation, he leapt up from the table and followed LeBeau down the ladder. Within seconds, they were all listening in on Klink’s conversation.


“General Stauffen!” Klink exclaimed breathlessly. “But you…you’re under arrest.”


“I escaped this morning,” explained the other man, desperation obvious in his voice.


“Escaped? How?”


“I was in the back of a truck, and there was an accident ahead of us. I took advantage of the confusion and overpowered the guards.”


There was a moment of stunned silence. “Where are you?”


“I can’t tell you that,” was the haunted reply. “Not yet. They have every man in Germany looking for me. I need your help.”


“Absolutely not. The Gestapo has been here already. I won’t be involved.”


“That’s just it, Klink. You are involved, whether you want to be or not. Hochstetter has been asking me questions about your security, how you run your camp. He said it was only a matter of time before you were in prison with me. He’s after you, Klink.”


“General, I don’t think…” Klink’s voice trailed off.


“That’s not all, Klink. There’s more.”


“What?” Klink practically whispered.


There was the briefest pause before he answered. “I can’t tell you over the phone.” When there was no reply, he continued. “It’s your life, Klink.”


“What do you want me to do?”


“I can’t come out tonight. It’s too dangerous. Meet me tomorrow night in Hammelburg. There is a burned out farmhouse on the Old Hansel road. Come alone.”


After Klink hung up the phone, there was a stunned silence in the tunnel. Hogan closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose.


“What are we going to do now, Colonel?” LeBeau asked.


“I guess we won’t need those bombs after all,” Carter offered. “We can just go and pick him up.”


“I don’t buy it.” Hogan crossed his arms and started pacing in the small space. “It’s a trap, I can feel it.”


You think Stauffen is setting a trap?” Newkirk asked, confused.


“Kinch, get on the line with London. See what you can find out about Stauffen.”


“Right, Colonel.” Kinch darted off to obey the order.


“No,” Hogan continued as he paced, talking more to himself than to his men. “This has Hochstetter written all over it. The question is, what is he after?”


Hogan was sure that Klink was being set up. But his instincts told him that Hochstetter wasn’t really interested in Klink. Although he obviously enjoyed harassing the Kommandant, he didn’t have much to gain by his arrest.


“Do you think ‘e knows we helped Stauffen?” Newkirk asked.


Hochstetter’s threat from the day before still resounded in Hogan’s mind, and he had no desire to spend any kind of time with the Gestapo agent. “No, he’s fishing. If he had proof, he wouldn’t bother going through Klink.” He'd go straight for me.


“You were right, Colonel.” Kinch reappeared with a paper in his hand. “Stauffen is still at Gestapo headquarters, and he will be transported as scheduled.”


“Now what?” Newkirk asked.


“Now we have to save Klink and Stauffen.”


“But Colonel, how are we going to do that?”


Hogan stopped pacing and smiled slowly as the solution came to him. “You know what Klink needs? He needs have some fun—forget about his problems.” He looked at his men, seeing only bewildered faces staring back at him. “We’re going to throw Klink a party.”



----------     ----------     ----------     ----------     ----------    



Newkirk stretched his neck, trying to work out the kinks he’d developed during the long hours doing the meticulous work required to make forged papers. Finally, he was finished. And not a moment too soon, he thought as he blinked his eyes. I can barely see three feet in front of me. As he put his foot up on the ladder, he changed his mind and decided to check up on Carter. Their resident explosives expert had been working especially hard the last few days, in spite of what appeared to be a miserable cold.


Newkirk let out a low whistle of appreciation as he approached Carter’s worktable. “When the gov’nor sends you to do a job, you do it!”


Carter blushed. “Well, you know what Colonel Hogan said. Not a piece of the truck left.”


When Hogan had finally filled them in on the orders from London, all of the men had been hit with the severity of the situation. Not only were they risking their lives to go and rescue General Stauffen, but they were risking the operation, too. Now, with Hochstetter sniffing around, the stakes were higher than ever.


“I can’t believe that ruddy Kraut came back ‘ere,” Newkirk grumbled. “And ‘e led the Gestapo right to us.”


“Yeah, they’re gonna put it together now for sure.” Unless we do this right, that is. It couldn’t look like the Underground, or Hogan and his men, had anything to do with Stauffen’s rescue. Arrangements had been made with London to have a group of fighters fly over, although they wouldn’t drop any bombs; the possibility of one missing its mark and hitting them was too great. Carter’s job was to create enough explosions to make it look like a bombing raid had killed Stauffen.


“There!” Carter exclaimed as he put the finishing touch on the last bomb. He couldn’t believe he was finally finished.


“Looks great, Carter,” Newkirk said as he stifled a yawn. “I’m finished, too, and not a moment too soon. At least we can grab a few hours’ kip.”


Carter hesitated for a moment. Although his trap had yielded no results, he hadn’t given up looking for his pet. But he knew deep down that there would be a point when he would have to quit looking. If his trap hadn’t worked after four nights, it wasn’t going to.


Carter put down the screwdriver and followed Newkirk. “Yeah. That sounds like a good idea.” Sorry, Felix.



----------     ----------     ----------     ----------     ----------    





“What is it?” Franz asked.


“I heard something—over there.” Johann pointed past a clump of trees and to the clearing beyond it.


Franz heard it, too. He clutched his gun a little tighter and followed Johann. Together, they moved swiftly, making no sound as they made their way through the woods. The men paused at the edge of the clearing, assessing their surroundings.


Franz motioned for Johann to move to the right, and he moved to the left. As he tiptoed through the underbrush, he silently scanned the surrounding area. Finally, convinced that there was no one in his vicinity, he went back and met Johann.


“You didn’t find anything either?” Johann asked. When Franz shook his head, he said, "I know I heard something.” They had no sooner turned around to walk back to their post than a sound in the trees next to them stopped them in their tracks.


Suddenly, Johann jumped back quickly, almost tripping over his own feet as a small figure went darting through his legs.


Franz was unable to stop laughing. “Oh, Johann. Look at you—a soldier of the Third Reich, and afraid of a little mouse!”



Chapter Seven


Carter was cold, wet, and miserable. Don’t forget stupid, he added as he mentally berated himself. Unable to sleep, he had gone out of the tunnel one final time. Not to find Felix; he had given up on the hope that he could get the mouse back this way. But all night, as he lay awake in his bunk, he could only think of that box lying in the woods. What if some innocent little animal got caught in there? What if that little animal stayed in there and died, alone, hungry, and scared, because no one was out there to check the trap?


Spying the small box, he had opened the lid; there was nothing there. With a mixture of disappointment and relief, he began to lift the box. As he did, he bumped into the tree, sending a shower of snow raining down upon him.


Just what I need, Carter thought as the cold snow coating his clothes and hair threatened to set off a coughing attack. As quickly as he could, Carter had staggered back to the tunnel entrance.


Now, standing back in the tunnel, he was kicking himself. How could he have been so foolish? Why did he think that one little mouse would find its way back to a tiny box, even if he did put a cloth in there that smelled like him?


Brushing the snow off of his hair and clothes, Carter shivered violently, then gave in to the coughing attack that had threatened him before. He would be glad to change out of these clothes, get under the covers, and put all of this behind him.



----------     ----------     ----------     ----------     ----------    



Hogan finally gave up. Some things were just pointless, and tonight, trying to sleep was one of them. He swung his legs over the side of the bunk and noiselessly jumped to the ground.


After flipping on the desk lamp and taking out some fresh paper, he could do nothing more than stare at it. This wasn’t going to help. The plans were all made. There wasn’t anything more he could do at this point to make tonight’s mission a success then he had already done.


A quick glance at his watch told him that there wasn’t much time left before roll call. As quietly as he could, so as not to awaken his men, he opened the door to his quarters and stepped into the common room.


He walked towards the stove, hoping that there would be a little bit of coffee left in the pot, though he knew anything he found would be horribly old and stale. On the way to the stove, though, he did a double take. Why was Kinch sleeping in Carter’s bed?


Then he remembered. Kinch had offered his bunk to Carter, so that Carter, still sick, wouldn’t have to sleep by a window. But when he looked at Kinch’s bunk, it was empty. Where was Carter?


The rising of the bunk bed brought his answer as Carter emerged ,eyes widening as he saw Hogan standing there with arms crossed. Hogan took in Carter’s wet hair and clothing and silently pointed to his office. Carter followed, heart pounding in his chest as he did.


Once inside the office, Hogan turned to Carter. “You know, when I saw you weren’t in your bunk, I assumed you were down in the tunnel, finishing things up for tonight.” Carter gulped. “But I can see,” Hogan said as he gestured to the wet clothing, “that’s not what you were doing.”


“No, sir, it wasn’t.”


“I’m waiting for an explanation, Sergeant.”


Carter stood ramrod straight. “Well, Colonel Hogan, sir…” He dropped his eyes to the ground. “This isn’t the first night I’ve gone out, sir,” he confessed softly.


Hogan crossed his arms and said nothing; only the hardness in his eyes and the hard line of his jaw betrayed his anger. Carter began studying a spot on the floor, unable to meet Hogan’s eyes. “I was trying to catch Felix. I put out a trap.”


“So you’re telling me,” Hogan said, lowering his voice when he remembered the sleeping men in the next room, “that you went out the emergency exit, without permission, to go and get a mouse?”


Carter once again stood at attention. “Yes, sir.”


“Were you seen?”


Carter swallowed and shook his head.


“How many times?” Hogan asked quietly.


“Five, sir. But…” Carter faltered and stood silently for several moments.


Hogan sighed and sat down, gesturing that Carter should do the same. “At ease, Carter.” When Carter didn’t continue, Hogan prompted. “But what?”


“But tonight was the last night, honest it was.” Again, Hogan didn’t answer. Carter thought that was worse than if the Colonel just yelled at him. “I had given up, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and I went to go and get the trap.” He plucked at his shirt. “That’s when I got snow all over me. I had to go and get the box because…”


“Because you didn’t want anything else to be caught,” Hogan finished for Carter, feeling his anger slipping away. He shouldn’t be so surprised. He himself had seen Carter’s reaction to Felix’s disappearance, and noticed how quiet Carter had been this week, though Hogan had attributed it to lack of sleep and the fact that Carter was suffering a cold. He was even less surprised that the kind-hearted young man sitting before him wouldn’t be willing to trap an innocent animal. And although he understood Carter’s motivation, and knew his actions weren’t done in a spirit of rebellion or disobedience, they had still been dangerous.


“Carter, why didn’t you say something? You could have asked for help. You could have figured out something else that didn’t involve you going out without permission, and at the worst possible time, I might add. Not only did you put yourself in danger, but you could have put the entire operation at risk.”


“I know, sir. I’m sorry. I guess…I mean…I couldn’t tell anyone I was upset because I missed my mouse! I know I shouldn’t have gone out there, and believe me, I wish I hadn’t. But I couldn’t ask.”


“Carter, you can always ask.” Hogan leaned forward on his stool. “You know I would never make fun of something that was important to you.”


“I know.” Carter answered quietly.


“Now,” Hogan started, but stopped when he heard Schultz come in and announce roll call. “I’m going to get Schultz out of here. You were in here sleeping tonight because you were sick. Once he’s gone, you go and change, and I mean fast, and then get out there.” He looked at Carter’s damp hair. “And make sure you put on a hat.” Hogan reached for the door, but turned to Carter before he opened it. “We’ll finish talking about this later.”



----------     ----------     ----------     ----------     ----------    



A group of angry men returned to the barracks a few minutes later. Klink, tired and obviously at his wits’ end, was in a horrible mood and was taking it out on everyone around him. The pressure was mounting, and Klink felt every bit of it. As he watched things slip out of his control, he fought desperately to keep what little order remained.


“What did he have to go and do that for?” Carter complained.


Oui. Now what are we going to do?” Le Beau questioned.


“He could have doubled the guard,” Hogan contemplated. “Instead, he just put them on alert.”


“Right, but it’s still going to make it hard for us to get out tonight,” Kinch said. “And we’ve got enough working against us as it is.”


“You’ve got that right, mate.” Newkirk scowled at Carter. “Andrew, do you think you could stop making that ruddy noise?”


“What noise?” Carter asked.


“Wait, I hear it, too,” Kinch said. Everyone listened to a scratching sound coming from the wall.


Newkirk went over to the source of the sound. Pulling out a knife, he pried away the baseboard. “Well, what ‘ave we ‘ere?” he asked as he picked up a small furry object. “Looks like the little bugger was trying to get in.”


“It’s Felix!” Carter cried. He reached down, and seconds later Felix was sitting in his cupped hand. “I knew you’d come back, Felix. Where have you been?” Carter couldn’t keep the smile off his face. “I knew he’d come back. I mean, maybe I didn’t really know, because I was kinda worried, but I should have known, because he’s a mouse. And mice are out on their own all the time. I guess Felix was used to being by himself, too, before I made him my pet.”


“I’m glad you found him.” Hogan smiled.


They spun around when the door swung open and Schultz walked in. “Colonel Hogan, no prisoner is to leave the barracks, by order of the Kommandant!”


“That’s not fair, Schultz!” LeBeau protested.


“Not fair? Why should it be fair? You are prisoners!”


“But we have to finish the soccer tournament today, and my side is winning!” LeBeau stuck a finger in Schultz’s chest. “That’s the only reason you stopped the game. You didn’t want me to win!”


“Me?” Schultz protested.


“Hey, I think ‘e’s right!” Newkirk shouted. He walked to over to join LeBeau. The other men quickly followed suit. “It’s a conspiracy, that’s what I think!”


Hogan cast a glance over at Schultz as the Sergeant tried to defend himself against the accusations being hurled at him, and walked quietly over to the door. No sooner had he cracked open the door, than he was forced back roughly.


The Kommandant stared long and hard at his senior POW, then finally turned his attention to his harried Sergeant of the Guard. “Schultz! What kind of guard are you? You had orders to keep the prisoners inside.”


“B-b-but Kommandant! They…they made me…” Schultz blabbered.


Klink was in no mood to listen. “And yet, I practically run over Colonel Hogan, who has decided to sneak out behind your back.” Klink’s angry eyes moved around the room and rested on Felix, who, frightened by all the noise and movement, had scrambled up to Carter’s shoulder.


Carter grabbed Felix, and held him protectively against his chest.


“Schultz,” Klink asked slowly. “What is the policy about prisoners and pets?”


“No pets,” Schultz answered emphatically. That question he knew he could get right.


“Then why, tell me, have you allowed this prisoner to keep one?”


Schultz looked, panicked, at Carter, who was wearing a matching expression.


“Take the mouse,” Klink growled, “and let him into the woods.”


“Kommandant, I protest!” Hogan shouted as Schultz took the mouse from Carter and put it in his pocket. “There’s nothing wrong with him having a mouse. They’re all over camp as it is!”


“You’re just doing that to be cruel!” LeBeau added angrily.


“Colonel Hogan,” Klink said, ignoring the protests, “you and your men are restricted to barracks.”


“So I’ve been told," Hogan answered icily. "What’s going on?”


“Nothing, and that’s the way I want it to stay.”


“Colonel, you can’t lock these men up for no reason!” Both officers, tired and ill-tempered, faced off. “You’re being unreasonable.” Hogan stared at Klink, not intending to back down.


“Colonel Hogan,” Klink said slowly. “In case you have forgotten, I am in charge of this camp, I will make the rules, and I have decided that you are restricted to barracks. There will be nothing going on in this camp!” With that, Klink turned on his heel and stalked out.


Schultz walked over to Carter, who was obviously upset, and reached into his pocket. Pulling out the mouse, he placed it in Carter’s hand. “You can have your mouse back,” Schultz said. “It is a get well present.”


Carter’s face spread into a huge smile as he took the mouse. “Thanks, Schultz! You’re a pretty good guy!”


Schultz lowered himself down at the table. “What does a pretty good guy have to do to get some coffee?”


“I will make some just for you,” Le Beau said as he filled the coffeepot with fresh water. “Not only that, Schultzie, but I will make you a strudel all your own.”


“Thanks, LeBeau. ”Schultz watched as Newkirk reached over to pet Felix. “It would be mean to take Carter’s mouse.” Schultz relished the chance to sit down, but more importantly, to not have to be around the Kommandant. “Besides, I don’t want to go to the woods.” He looked at the prisoners conspiratorially. “I hear they are haunted.”


“What makes you say that, Schultz?” Hogan asked.


“Well, there are two guards who are on duty at night, and they see and hear things, but always, there is nothing there.” Schultz shuddered, apparently having been taken in by whatever stories the two guards had been telling him. “And then, right before their shift was over this morning, there was a ghost. They saw it!”


“What do you mean, there was a ghost?” Hogan asked, his mind starting to put the pieces of the puzzle together.


“A white shape moving through the woods. It was there, and then it was just gone.”


Realization dawned on Hogan. “How long has this been happening, Schultz?”


“The past five nights,” Schultz answered.


“That sounds about right,” Hogan answered thoughtfully. He took a seat at the table, but not before he shot Carter a quick wink. “I’d say for sure you have a ghost on your hands.”


“You do?”


“Oh yes, but not just any ghost.” Hogan sighed and shook his head. “I wouldn’t want to be in those guards’ shoes, Schultz, I can tell you that.”


“Why?” Schultz leaned in, eager to catch every detail. Franz and Johann would want to know.


“You say that there are noises?”




“For the past five nights?”


Schultz nodded.


“And tell me, when the wind blows, does it sound like someone crying?”


By now Schultz had paled noticeably. “Yes, that is what they said.”


“Well, it can only be one thing,” Hogan said morosely. “The Wandering Widow.”


Le Beau, Newkirk, and Kinch all gasped as if on cue, and Le Beau looked as if he might faint. “The Wandering Widow?” he whispered. “Here?”


Schultz stared at them in disbelief. Hogan gazed incredulously at the German Sergeant. “You mean you’ve never heard the story?”


Schultz shook his head silently.


“Well,” Hogan started, his voice dropping almost to a whisper, “during the first war, there was a beautiful woman. A lovely thing, but young. She was just married when her husband was called to go and fight.”


“Oh, that’s terrible!” Schultz lamented.


“It gets worse. While he was away, she waited for his return. Every night she placed her lamp in the window to light his way in case he was trying to find his way home through the dark woods, but he never came. Then, one day, she got the note she had been longing for. Her husband would be coming home. When the day for his return came, she made sure everything was ready. For five nights she waited, and he still didn’t come.” Hogan saw that his story was having the desired effect, and continued. “On the sixth day, she received another letter. Her husband had been killed, days before he was to be sent home. Many young men would come and try to win her over, but she could not return their love. In her grief, she didn’t eat, didn’t sleep, and she died one year later, on the same day her husband was supposed to have come home.”


Schultz took a handkerchief out of his pocket and blew his noise loudly. “That is such a sad story.” He looked at Hogan fearfully. “But what does it have to do with ghosts?”


“That’s what I’m trying to tell you. Every year, on the same date she died, her spirit wanders, looking for her husband. Each time she chooses a new place to look, but she still hasn’t found him. She searches for five nights, and then, when she hasn’t found him….”


“What? What happens?”


“When she hasn’t found him, on the sixth night she takes a young man, some poor soul who has the misfortune of simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. But she is never satisfied. Next year, she will again be out looking for her lost love.”


When the story finished, Le Beau shook his head with remorse. “Those poor guards.”


“Poor blokes,” Newkirk chimed in. “They 'aven't got a chance.”


“They won’t know what hit them,” Kinch said. “It’s a shame.”


Schultz suddenly seemed eager to be on his way. “I'll take a raincheck on that coffee, LeBeau," he said as he hurried out the door.


Hogan watched him leave with a grin. “Gentlemen, I think we just found a way around Klink’s ‘alert’ guards.”



Chapter Eight


Klink blinked bleary eyes and tried to focus on the papers on his desk. He had been working, or rather pretending to work, all day. He was so tired; it was impossible for his worried mind to process much.


He had reason to be worried. Hochstetter was on his back, and now Stauffen wanted to meet with him. At first, he hadn’t been totally convinced it was actually Stauffen. But as time went on, his fears won over. Finding out what Stauffen knew would perhaps give him a small amount of protection in what appeared to be a hopeless situation.  Klink would go and meet him.


He had no choice but to go alone. There was no one to turn to for help. A phone call to General Burkhalter would only alert him to the suspicion on Klink. And he had briefly considered going to Hogan for help, but even the American’s ingenuity and quick thinking couldn’t help him in this situation.


Klink’s eyelids drooped and his head fell onto his shoulder as his tired body overrode his mind, and he finally slept.



----------     ----------     ----------     ----------     ----------    



“Glad to see you made it okay,” Hogan said as he shook the tall German’s hand. “Welcome to our humble abode.”


“This is amazing, Colonel Hogan.” Kurt Riesler, a member of the local Underground, had been called on to help. “Absolutely amazing.”


“It’s not much, but it’s home,” Hogan said lightly, but his expression quickly turned serious. “Is everything set for tonight?”


“Yes, Colonel. We will make sure that Klink remains at the party all night, and that he is seen by many people.”


“Good,” Hogan said, putting his hand on Riesler’s arm. “Here, let me show you what you’ll be wearing.” Hogan led the guest down the tunnel until they reached LeBeau, who was putting the finishing touches on a uniform. “All set, LeBeau?”


Oui, mon Colonel. I have made the necessary adjustments.” LeBeau, now done, held up the finished product.


“Very nice work,” Riesler said as he fingered the detail on the jacket. “Fit for a General.”


“That’s the point.” Hogan picked up the rest of the uniform and handed it to Riesler. “All right, are you clear on what to do?”


“Yes, I think so. Just one question, Colonel.” Hogan raised an eyebrow and waited. “What if I can’t convince Klink to come with me to the party? What if he doesn’t buy it?”


“Oh, he’ll buy it,” Hogan reassured. “You just have to play on two of his biggest motivations.”


“And what are those?”


“Pride, and fear. Come on, I’ll give you some pointers.”



----------     ----------     ----------     ----------     ----------    



Richter walked into the office to find Major Hochstetter poring over a map. This was not surprising. Hochstetter was a meticulous planner, and even after every detail seemed to be in place, he still analyzed the plan, looking for holes. Richter knew tonight’s missions were especially important to him.


“Here you go, Major.” Richter set a sandwich and a cup of coffee down beside the map. Hochstetter barely noticed.


“Here,” Hochstetter said as he traced a line on the map. “This curve in the road. The truck will be most vulnerable here.”


“You expect sabotage,” Richter observed knowingly. The thought had occurred to him as well.


Hochstetter took a long look at the young Lieutenant. Although he was still rather inexperienced, the Major could see some real potential there. “You can never be too careful,” he explained. “You must plan for every possibility.”


“And you suspect the Underground will try to rescue him.” Richter assumed. “He could be valuable to our enemies.”


“It’s possible.” Hochstetter stared at Richter for another long moment. Yes, it was time to give him some more responsibility—with adequate back up in place, of course. “I want you to be in charge of the transport.”


“Me?” Richter asked, stunned and pleased with the change of plans.


“Yes, you.” Hochstetter said. “It will be a great responsibility, but a good one with which to prove yourself. Prepare a team to go with you.”


“Danke, Herr Major!” Richter saluted and left quickly to go and choose his men.


Hochstetter turned back to his map and put his finger on the curve in the road. Yes, he would order extra patrols into that area tonight. If there was a point where the truck could be stopped, this would be it. Richter and his guards would have extra reinforcement, and he would be left free to take care of Klink—personally.



----------     ----------     ----------     ----------     ----------    



“Thanks, Newkirk.”


“I still don’t see why you need this bloody bag,” Newkirk grumbled as he handed Carter the burlap sack he had just pilfered. “I had to go into the mess hall, and they’re cooking lunch.” He put a hand on his stomach and made a face. “I think I’ve lost me appetite.”


“Here, hold this,” Carter said, giving one end of a hose to Newkirk. “Stick this in the bag, and then close it tight.”


Newkirk warily eyed the bowl that Carter picked up. “Oh, don’t worry,” Carter explained, catching Newkirk’s apprehensive expression. “It’s just water and some baking soda.” Carter slowly poured the mixture into a beaker.


“I don’t have to be a bleedin’ chemist to know that’s not baking soda!” Newkirk said as Carter picked up a glass jar. While he knew Carter was good at what he did, and had seen many times the success of his creations, Newkirk didn’t necessarily want to be involved in the making of one of Carter’s concoctions.


“No, it’s sulfuric acid.” He poured this into the same beaker, then quickly secured the other end of the hose onto it. Gently, he shook the mixture. “There, that should do it.” He noticed that Newkirk relaxed when he realized nothing was going to explode. “Hey, look on the bright side,” Carter offered cheerfully. “At least you don’t have to wear that thing Louis is making.” He gave Newkirk an impish grin. “It’s a shame, too. Olsen’s not nearly as pretty in a dress!”



----------     ----------     ----------     ----------     ----------    



A rap on the door woke Klink up from his nap. As he tried to get his bearings, his eyes fell on the clock. Have I really been asleep that long? Finally, he answered. “Come in.”


Fraulein Hilda appeared in the doorway. “Kommandant, there is a General Kessler here to see you.”


Kessler—the name didn’t ring a bell. Nevertheless, Klink quickly got up and walked into his outer office, plastering a smile on his face. “General Kessler, what a privilege to meet you. What brings you to Stalag 13?”


“Ah, Colonel Klink!” Riesler answered heartily, praying that he could pull this off. Once he got Klink to agree to go to the party, the rest would be easy. “A pleasure as well. Your reputation precedes you. I hear you have never had a successful escape here at Stalag 13.”


“Why, yes, that is true!” Klink crowed. “Please, General, would you like some refreshments?” After offering the General some schnapps and a cigar, and taking each for himself as well, they sat down in Klink’s office. “So, what can we do for you here at our humble little Stalag?”


“A simple matter, really. I am in town for an engagement this evening, and I would like a place to stay tonight. It is short notice, I know. I hope it is not too much trouble.” Riesler smiled graciously, but still something about his expression made it clear that he was not accustomed to taking 'no' for an answer.


“Oh, no trouble at all!” Klink heard himself say in spite of himself. He couldn’t believe he was agreeing, not with what he had to do tonight. ”We would be delighted to have you stay with us.”


“Very kind of you, Colonel. Now if you don’t mind, I think I would like to rest before tonight’s party.”


“Oh, certainly, General.” Klink opened the door and called for his secretary. “Hilda, would you please have Sergeant Schultz show General Kessler to the guest quarters?”


“Wait just a minute, Klink,” the General said as an idea came to him. “You know, I wasn’t really looking forward to going tonight. A dull affair really—drinking, dancing—a total waste of time, if you ask me. Call it an obligation to an old friend. But,” he said, taking Hilda’s hand, “with the proper company it could be a pleasant evening. Are you free tonight, my dear?”


“Why, yes, General.” Hilda smiled coyly. “And I would be delighted.”


“I always say, the more the merrier,” Riesler said. He turned back to Klink. “You should come, too, Klink. I would enjoy the chance to get to know you better.”


“General, I’m not sure I…”


Riesler eyed him appraisingly. “You look like you could use a change of scenery,” he observed. “You have official business tonight that would prevent you from going?”


“Well, no.”


“Then, it’s settled.”


When Klink still hesitated, the General’s eyes grew cold. “I am accustomed to having my wishes obeyed, Colonel.”


Klink, with what had now become the familiar feelings of dread and a total loss of control, decided he had no choice but to accept the invitation. He would just have to find a way to excuse himself from the party at some point. “Yes, General, I will go.”


“Very good, Colonel. I had a feeling you would see it my way.” Turning again to Hilda, he smiled and asked, “And do you think you might find a friend to come with you? We wouldn’t want Colonel Klink to be alone.”


“Why yes, Herr General,” Hilda answered, smiling in return. “That should be no problem at all.”


Riesler clapped his hands. “Tonight is looking better already! Now, Klink, I would like to be shown to my quarters.”



----------     ----------     ----------     ----------     ----------    



Franz woke up from his dream with a start. Foolishness, he thought, as images of a wispy young woman gliding through the woods flashed through his mind. I’m getting to be just like Johann. He lay in bed for what seemed like an eternity, but could not fall asleep.


Finally, he threw the blanket off and got out of bed, squinting in the brightness of the room. He walked over to this dresser and stopped. No. Surely, I’m not considering this! But he opened his top drawer anyway, and pulled out a pair of socks. He looked at them for a moment, questioning his own sanity as he did, and then closed the drawer, carried the socks over to his bed, and placed them under his pillow. Just in case.



Chapter Nine


 “Don’t you dare say anything,” Olsen threatened. Feeling more than a little self-conscious in the long flowing dress LeBeau had made, he stood with the other men in the tunnel. Admittedly, he had done some crazy things since he’d become a POW, but this took the cake. He squirmed as he adjusted for the hundredth time the uncomfortable wig he was being forced to wear.


“Wouldn’t dream of it, mate,” Newkirk said, his face the picture of innocence.


“That’s right,” Hogan teased. “Newkirk knows when a girl is out of his league.”


“Okay, Colonel,” Kinch said from his post at the periscope. “They’re just about here.”


“Remember,” Carter warned as Olsen headed up the ladder, carrying the burlap sack. “Don’t touch it. It looks like snow, but it’s still dry ice, and it’ll burn you.”


“Right.” Olsen lifted the opening of the emergency tunnel, glancing around to make sure he was clear, and then climbed out. He kept a watchful eye as he started scattering the powdery substance on the ground. There was no way he would be able to explain this to the Germans if he were discovered. As he dumped out the last of the dry ice, he silently prayed that the wind would hold off just a little while longer.


When he finally finished, he darted back to the tree trunk and lifted the lid. Shoving the sack inside, he took the pot of hot water that Carter offered him. It was time to get this show on the road.


“All right, let’s go over this one more time,” Hogan said, looking at his watch. “We’ve got exactly five minutes until we’ve got to head out.”  He pulled down a map. “Now, the truck will be coming down this road here.” With his finger, Hogan traced the road on the map. “You know the Krauts are on edge about this one. They know they’ve got an important prisoner.”


“Do you think they expect trouble?” LeBeau asked.


“Possibly.” Hogan answered. “If they’re expecting an ambush, then they’ll have extra patrols here,” Hogan said as he pointed to a curve in the road. “So we will stop the truck here.” Hogan indicated a point further down the road.


“When they think they’re home free,” Newkirk added.


“Right. And by doing it here, the patrol is behind us.”


“The last thing we need is a bunch of jittery Germans standing between us and camp,” Kinch agreed.


The sound of the emergency tunnel’s lid closing interrupted the men. Olsen came back, out of breath, and wearing a big smile. “Worked like a charm, Colonel. They saw the fog and started to freak out, and then when I came out, they took off. I think the old man ran faster than the young one did.”


“Well done,” Hogan said as he looked at his watch. “And not a moment too soon.” He took a long look at his men. “You know what to do. Be careful.”



----------     ----------     ----------     ----------     ----------    



Richter felt his body tense as the truck slowed down to accommodate the sharp curve in the road. His eyes scanned the woods on both side of the road, and he jumped in spite of himself when he saw something moving in the darkness. Relief washed over him, however, when he realized that it was only a German patrol, and he was thankful for the darkness that hid his reddening face. Surely Hochstetter had them placed there as a precaution. His admiration for the Major grew as he saw more evidence of Hochstetter’s meticulous planning and attention to detail.


Several minutes had passed uneventfully when Richter saw a roadblock in front of them. Two German soldiers motioned them to stop.


“What is this?” Richter demanded.


“Are you Lieutenant Richter?” the shorter German asked.


“Ja,” Richter answered. “Why is there a roadblock here?”


“Major Hochstetter ordered it,” the tall dark-haired one explained. “He didn’t tell us why, just that no one was allowed to pass except for a Lieutenant Richter.”


“You do not need to know why,” Richter answered curtly. “You know who I am. Now let us pass!”


The German took a quick step back and clicked his heels. “Jawohl!” He signaled the other man to lift the gate.


Richter found himself smiling as they passed through the roadblock. This was easier than he thought it would be, thanks in large part to Hochstetter’s planning. He really left no detail to chance.


“What was that?” he heard the driver ask. Richter listened closely and heard the sound of airplanes flying overhead.


“Those aren’t our planes!” Richter exclaimed seconds before a fireball erupted just to their right. “It is an air raid. Quickly! Get off the road!” Another bomb exploded in the distance, then another one, closer than the other two. “You fool!” Richter shouted. “Get off the road NOW!”


The driver frantically hurried to comply, but he never got the chance.


Hogan watched as the truck exploded into a giant ball of fire. Then, knowing it would only be a matter of time before the area was flooded with real Germans, he turned his attention to Stauffen and his men, and hurried them back to camp.



----------     ----------     ----------     ----------     ----------    



Hochstetter was fuming. He had been waiting for hours, and still Klink had not shown up. He had been sure the cowardly Kommandant would come at first opportunity, but the night was quickly slipping away, and Klink had yet to make an appearance.


I will go back to that camp and take it over myself, Hochstetter thought as he shivered in the abandoned barn. There’s no way I’m letting Klink get away from me this time.


Hearing a noise overhead, Hochstetter rushed to the window of the barn and looked out in time to see several planes flying overhead. Moments later, he heard a thunderous explosion. A second one soon followed, dangerously close to the barn. The force of the explosion sent him flying into the back wall. He collapsed to the ground, unconscious.


----------     ----------     ----------     ----------     ----------    



“All right, hold it.” Hogan held up a hand to silence his men, who were rightfully celebrating a mission completed. “You fellas did a good job out there tonight. Carter, your bombs were perfect. I don’t think they’ll be able to find even a trace of that truck.”


Carter blushed under the Colonel’s praise as he received pats on the back from the other men.


“And the rest of you did a great job, too,” Hogan continued. “Now, it’s late, and you’ve been working hard. Go get some sleep.”


The men more than willingly complied, heading as a group back to the barracks. Only Kinch noticed that Hogan wasn’t joining them. “Aren’t you coming, Colonel?”


“You guys go ahead,” Hogan answered. “I need to have a few words with the General here.”


Kinch raised his eyebrows silently, thankful that he wasn’t in Stauffen’s shoes, then turned and walked back to the barracks.


“Colonel Hogan, I am very grateful to you and your men for saving my life,” Stauffen said as Hogan turned to face him, his words rushing out in his anxiety.


“It wasn’t my choice,” Hogan snapped. “London wanted you out, so we got you out.”


“Colonel, I understand…”


“No, I don’t think you do,” Hogan said as he stepped closer to the General. Stauffen unconsciously backed away from the angry American until he found himself pressed against the tunnel wall. “You could have asked and we would have helped you. But you didn’t ask.” Stauffen opened his mouth to speak but Hogan didn’t give him a chance. “Instead, you come waltzing in here, leading the Gestapo right to us, and you put the lives of every one of my men in danger!”


“But Colonel, I had no choice!” Stauffen explained. “The Gestapo were after me!”


The Colonel took a deep breath, willing himself to calm down, and then let it out in a great sigh. Suddenly he felt very old, and very tired. “Well, now they’re not after you,” Hogan answered. “Because you died in an air raid tonight.” He saw Stauffen’s eyes grow wide as he finally put the pieces together. “Now my only job is to keep them from coming after me.”



----------     ----------     ----------     ----------     ----------    




Hochstetter awoke slowly. At first, he was aware of nothing more than the pounding in his head, and of something digging painfully into his back. Gradually, as awareness came back to him, he felt the rough straw against his skin and smelled the acrid stench of smoke.


Carefully, the Major got up and took in his surroundings. At first he couldn’t remember what had happened, or even what he was doing there. But then it came rushing back. Klink. Airplanes. Explosions.


Slowly and painfully, he made his way to the door. Peering out, he could make out fire and smoke. His groggy mind was having a hard time placing where it was coming from. “Oh no,” Hochstetter said as he finally realized what must have happened. All thoughts of Klink forgotten for the moment, he went off to find out the fate of his young protégé and his prized prisoner.



Chapter Ten


Klink awoke to a pounding headache and a very upset stomach, unpleasant reminders of the party he had been to last night. He kept his eyes shut a moment longer, knowing what opening them would do to his headache. What time is it?


Klink had made it back to Stalag 13 in the wee hours of the morning, and said goodbye to Kessler shortly afterwards, as the General had to be on his way. After roll call, Klink had determined to catch up on the work that had been piling up, but had once again fallen asleep at his desk.


Murmuring to himself, he tried to straighten up, but sleeping in the hard wooden desk chair had left all of his muscles stiff and unyielding.


Schultz, looking like the cat that swallowed the canary, came in and handed a newspaper to Klink. “What?” Klink didn’t have patience for this.


“Just read it, Kommandant,” Schultz insisted.


Klink irritably obliged and started to read the headlines, though he had to blink a few times to get the letters to focus. He didn’t know why he was wasting his time. Germany Remains Victorious on All Fronts. Conspirator in Hitler Assassination Attempt Killed in Air Raid. Goebbels Appointed Reich Plenipotentiary for Total War.


Suddenly, Klink placed both hands flat on the desk and stood up from his chair, staring down at the paper in disbelief. A name caught his eye, and he read in amazement. When he had finished, he looked up at Schultz. “General Stauffen is dead.”



----------     ----------     ----------     ----------     ----------    



Carter wrung out what seemed like the hundredth pair of pants, and then placed them into a tub of clean water. Carter figured it wasn’t so bad. He hadn’t expected to get off lightly for sneaking out of camp like that. Of all the ways Colonel Hogan could have disciplined him, laundry detail didn’t seem that bad at all.


He was wringing out another pair of pants when a car raced through the gate, coming to a stop in from of Klink’s office. Hochstetter jumped out of the car and stormed into the building. Carter dropped the pants back into the dirty water and ran into the barracks.


“Hochstetter’s here, and he just went into Klink’s office,” he announced. “And let me tell you, he doesn’t look happy—not one bit.”



----------     ----------     ----------     ----------     ----------    



Hochstetter barreled past Hilda and burst into Klink’s office without knocking, startling Klink so badly that he nearly fell out of his chair.  “Klink, stand up!”


Klink stood slowly, which only served to further infuriate the Major. “Where were you last night, Klink?”


Klink came around his desk and faced Hochstetter. He had had plenty of time to read and reread the article about Stauffen’s death. Stauffen, who had obviously never escaped from the Gestapo. Stauffen, who could not have possibly placed that phone call. The relief Klink felt, and the absence of the fear that had been so familiar the past few days, gave him an unfamiliar sense of bravery.


“Where did you want me to be?” Klink answered deliberately. “Perhaps in an abandoned barn in Hammelburg?” Hochstetter clenched his jaw and looked as if he would like to lunge at Klink. Klink, for once in his life, didn’t back down. “I know that General Stauffen is dead,” he said, waving a hand over the newspaper sitting on his desk. “I know about the air raid. So, unless you have something better to do than trying to threaten me, I suggest you leave.”


“Why threaten,” Hochstetter snarled, “when there are so many more effective ways of getting what I want?” He stepped uncomfortably close to Klink, and the Kommandant’s new-found courage visibly melted away. “You look tired, Kommandant,” the Major said slowly. “You see, I know you had something to do with what happened last night, and I will not leave this camp until I get answers! Now I will ask you once more, where were you last night?”


Klink was more than a little relieved when, at that moment, the door burst open and Colonel Hogan walked in. “Oh, sorry, Kommandant, didn’t realize you had company.” In spite of his words, the American made no move to leave. Instead, he closed the door behind him and joined the two German officers.


“What is this man doing here?” Hochstetter roared.


“I just wanted to ask the Kommandant how the party was last night,” Hogan said with a wink at Klink. “You old devil. Schultz told me all about it.”


“Hogan…” Klink warned.


“Sounds like you had a great time with General…” Hogan snapped his fingers as he searched for a name. “I forgot the name of your friend. General…”


“Kessler,” Klink finished, more than a little confused. Kessler hardly qualified as a friend.


“A party?” Hochstetter asked, bewildered.


“Must have been quite a party at that,” Hogan said, unable to wipe the grin off of his face. “I mean, why else would the Kommandant be out until four in the morning?” Hochstetter looked at Klink accusingly, but Hogan wasn’t finished. He nudged Hochstetter with his elbow. “Of course, who could blame him, with a pretty girl like Fraulein Hilda.”


“You were out with your secretary all night?” Hochstetter asked incredulously.


“No, Hilda was with the General,” Klink answered. “I was with Hilda’s girlfriend, Frieda.” Klink smiled just a little at the memory. Then, when he realized that Hogan had just provided him with a perfect alibi, his smile grew. He wished the General hadn’t had to leave so early this morning, but he still had a witness. “Would you like to ask Hilda about it? Or perhaps the other people at the party? They can all tell you I was there all night.”


“Yes, I will talk to Hilda,” Hochstetter said.


As if on cue, Hilda walked through the door. “General Burkhalter is on the phone,” she said.


“Thank you, Fraulein Hilda,” Klink answered as he reached for the phone.


“Oh, it's not for you, Kommandant. It is for Major Hochstetter.”


Hogan could hear Burkhalter’s voice from where he stood, but couldn’t make out what he was saying. I hope the boys are listening in on this, he thought as he watched Hochstetter squirm and fumble for words. Finally, his face red with fury and humiliation, the Major slammed the phone down. “We are not through here, Klink,” he shouted.


“Just a second, Major,” Hogan said as Hochstetter tried to leave. “Didn’t you need to talk to Fraulein Hilda?”


“BAH!” Hochstetter screamed as he slammed the door behind him.


“What was that all about, sir?” Hogan asked. “It sounds like General Burkhalter was pretty upset with him.”


“Do you remember General Stauffen?” Klink asked.


Hogan thought for a moment. “He was here a week or so ago, wasn’t he?”


Klink nodded. “And he was arrested for trying to assassinate the Fuhrer.”


“Wow, you sure know how to pick your friends!” Hogan laughed. Klink did not look amused. “Sorry, sir.  Bad taste.”


“He’s not my friend,” Klink stated. “And he was killed in an air raid last night. Major Hochstetter was in charge of security.”


“Well, that would explain it.”


“And to think,” Klink accused, “that Hochstetter wanted me to believe General Stauffen had escaped, and to go meet him.”


Hogan nodded thoughtfully. “Obviously a test of your loyalty, sir.” Hogan suddenly looked concerned. “You didn’t go, did you sir?”


“Of course not, Hogan,” Klink answered indignantly. “What kind of fool do you think I am?”


“I plead the Fifth ” Hogan answered. When the Kommandant looked confused, Hogan merely said “Never mind,” saluted, and left.



----------     ----------     ----------     ----------     ----------    



Hogan smiled contentedly as he leaned against the wall. He couldn’t blame his men for celebrating. They had pulled off a difficult assignment, and they deserved to let off a little steam.


“’ere, ‘ere, who wants another round?” Newkirk asked as he held up the wine bottle. He filled the glasses that were shoved towards him.


“This is good. What’s the date?” LeBeau asked.


“A very good year, my friend,” Newkirk answered. “Nineteen forty-four, I believe.”


“Mm, that was very good year,” LeBeau answered as he took another sip. Suddenly remembering something, he set his glass down and went to the stove. He returned a moment later with a pan of fresh strudel.


“Better not let Schultz get wind of this,” Carter warned. “There won’t be any for us.”


“We’ll have to eat fast,” Hogan joked as he came up to the table. Then he became serious. “You all did a great job on a very difficult assignment.”


Everyone smiled, but no one said anything.


“So, thanks to LeBeau here,” Hogan continued as the Frenchman beamed, “we can have our celebration in style.”


Happy conversation filled the room. “Aren’t we missing someone?” LeBeau asked.


The tunnel entrance opened and Kinch came up and handed a small blue piece of paper to Hogan. Hogan read it and smiled. “Congratulations on a job well done,” he shared, then scanned the rest of the note. “And they’ll be sending someone to pick up our prisoner tonight. Kinch, Newkirk, you’ll bring him in with the supplies.”


“Right, gov’nor,” Newkirk said, rubbing his hands together enthusiastically. “Let’s eat. I’m starving.”


“Andrew,” LeBeau called as the men started eating. He took a small piece of strudel and wrapped it in a napkin. “Here, for Felix.”


“But you told Peter you would never cook for a mouse."


“Well, we would not have gotten past those guards without him, so this time, I will make an exception.”



----------     ----------     ----------     ----------     ----------    



“So, you weren’t really scared, were you?” Johann asked Franz as he put on his shoes.


“Of course not,” Franz answered, offended. “What was there to be afraid of? I was just investigating a noise. You heard it, too, didn’t you?”


“What, the noise right beside the gate?”


“Yes, that noise.” Franz checked himself one last time in the mirror, then reached for his helmet. “You know we can’t expect those tower guards to do their job.”


“Of course not,” Johann smirked. “It was our duty to help them guard the perimeter of camp. They obviously didn't hear that noise!”


“Exactly,” Franz agreed whole-heartedly. “But tonight, I think we will take up our regular post. We can not do everyone’s job for them.”


“You know,” Johann said after he, too, had put the finishing touches on his uniform. “I could probably get you a pair of lucky socks—if you want.”


Franz looked down at his feet. So what if he was wearing the same pair of socks he wore last night? They were comfortable, that’s all. Besides, they were clean! And Franz figured it never hurt a soldier to have a little something for luck, just in case. Of course, he would never tell that to Johann. “That’s okay,” he answered. “Unlike some people I know, I don’t need a pair of socks to protect me from little mice!”


Text and original characters copyright 2005 by Rebecca Cloud

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.