Allegiance - Part Two
Invasion of the Mind
It was easy for the exhausted Colonel to dismiss his hands slipping off the rungs of the ladder as a nuisance. Even clipping his foot climbing out of the tunnel and smashing his shoulder against the adjacent bunk was brushed off as a mere annoyance.
But when the short walk to his quarters turned into a woozy navigational feat, Hogan gave rise to his anger and slammed his door shut.
"I did you a bloody favour!" boomed down the passageway of tunnel five, immediately followed by the sound of a body being thrown against the tunnel wall.
Shocked by what he believed was an unprovoked attack, Garner lunged at his aggressor. "I'm no spy!"
"And I ain't no prisoner of war," Newkirk retorted, shoving their prisoner forward to where Kinch was straightening an overturned chair.
Another push from Newkirk and Garner all but fell into the chair. "What's wrong with you? I blew up a Kraut," he countered, squirming when Kinch pushed his arms behind the back of the chair and began binding them.
"Never crossed ya mind who'd be caught in the crossfire, did it, mate?" Newkirk asked caustically, waving the revolver he'd confiscated earlier.
"We're in the middle of a bloody war!" Garner spat back. "Every man and his dog is caught in the crossfire!"
The sound of the revolver being cocked caught Kinch's attention, along with Garner's sudden intake of breath.
"And which category would you fall into?" Newkirk asked, holding the revolver before his eyes.
"I blew up a Kraut. What did you do?"
"Tell the Colonel we have Garner secured," Kinch told Newkirk, deliberately moving to stand before him.
Every nerve ending cried out for release. Newkirk knew very well what he wanted to do, but instead, lowering his arm and muttering a simple "Yeah," to Kinch, he turned and left.
"I did you a favour!" Garner yelled after him, craning his neck to see around Kinch. "You don't have any idea what's happening out there! How could you? Safe and sound in your own private camp being pampered by –"
Suddenly a force slammed against Garner. Grabbing him by the collar, Kinch twisted the material in his hand until Garner's face reddened from lack of oxygen. "One more word out of you –" another pull, cutting off the moan about to escape his lips, "- and I'll do us all a favour!"
Standing at attention outside the Kommandant's office, Sergeant Schultz pondered the recent horrific course of events and toyed with the idea that maybe he should give the compound one final inspection, and while he was performing that duty, use that time to inspect the prisoners in the medical hut. After all, he thought to himself, it was his duty as Sergeant.
In fact, the more he thought about it, the more it made perfect sense, so much so that he shouldered his rifle and had just taken two steps away from his post, when Major Hochstetter charged out of the Kommandant's office and collided with him.
"Herr Major – Kommandant Klink has ordered – "
"What?" Hochstetter yelled. "Why aren't you patrolling the camp? WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?"
"Herr Major? Jawohl, Herr Major, just what I - "
But Hochstetter wasn't interested and letting out an exasperated "Ahhhhh!" stormed off.
Schultz sighed, then, relieved, took another two steps away from his post when -
General Burkhalter rushed out of Klink's office, straight past him and into his own staff car.
Schultz didn't move any more than he had to – until the staff car sped off. Then, the portly sergeant cautiously pitter-pattered the few remaining steps to the door and –
Crestfallen, Shultz dragged himself back to the Kommandant's office.
Hogan was at a loss.
Unable to fight what was clearly incapacitating him, he lay down and in frustration threw his arm over his eyes. Sudden sharp, shooting pain sped down the length of his arm to his wrist, reminding the Colonel of his earlier collision with another bunk bed. "Damn!" he groaned, but he kept his eyes shut and his arm where it was.
Then, as the physically and mentally exhausted Colonel succumbed to an enforced state of repose, long buried horrors blurred the line between nightmare and war.
Cradled in his arms, he felt her shiver.
He held her, though she was bruised and bleeding from grotesque wounds inflicted all over her body, relaxing his grip only when he thought the very act of holding her may cause her more pain. Bloodshot eyes stared directly at him, anguish and sorrow reflected within them. "You're safe," he heard himself say. As if in acknowledgement the eyes closed, with a lone tear escaping to fall down her blood-smeared cheek.
They had to get out.
He, Newkirk and Carter had never expected to find the women alive and they never expected to be confronted by a mother and son who lured and tortured men and women then passed them onto the Gestapo.
The son's wails rang in his ears; even in his sleep he felt himself flinch at the memory – "No, mamma. You said I could keep her! You said! You said!"
The injured woman in Hogan's arms groaned.
He stiffened. He had to get out. He had to get them all out of there.
Bile churned in his stomach.
Jolted awake by a sickening sensation, Hogan’s eyes flew open. His stomach lurched to such a degree that he rolled off his cot, stumbled to the basin outside his quarters and immediately threw up.
Coughing and spluttering, Hogan held on to the sides of the basin until the retching stopped. But even when it did, spots played before his eyes. His grip faltered; his legs buckled -
"Relax, I've got you," a voice behind him said, as strong hands grabbed his upper arms, holding him steady.
Relieved, Hogan shut his eyes, feeling every ounce of energy he had left drain from his body.
Doc felt Hogan's body sag. "Let's get you back to bed," he said, wrapping one of Hogan's arms around his shoulder and his own arm around Hogan’s waist.
The idea had merit, Hogan thought as he allowed himself to be assisted to his bunk. The mattress did little to cushion his aching limbs. " – need to speak to – "
"Later," Doc cut him off, seeing Hogan perspire just from the walk back to his quarters.
" – Kommandant – thin mattress – "
"When you're back on your feet and fully recovered, you can speak to whoever you want."
He stared at Doc, but Doc wasn't done fussing over him yet. "Enjoying flexing ‑" his throat was sore.
Doc held a glass of water to his lips. He drank a little—then continued with what he was saying "- those military muscles?" forcing a smile. The stern look on Doc's face reminded Hogan about something else he wanted to say, but –
Doc watched the Colonel's eyes close. Then, pulling up a chair to begin his vigil, he muttered, "No. Can't find much to enjoy lately."
Inconspicuous fragments of earth systematically loosened, dropping from roughly hewn walls to the dirt ground. Coupled with muffled voices and the ominous play of shadows, the tunnels beneath the compound emitted an eerie ambiance.
Stumbling from the safety of her own enclosure, Johanna trudged down the dimly lit tunnel, lured by the angry sounds reaching her. "I'm no spy!" She stopped; she recognized it – the voice of the man who had grabbed her earlier. She continued walking towards it. "I did you a favour!" she heard a little more clearly. She stopped again. Her hands began shaking. Dear God, she prayed – that voice.
Gunfire. Screaming. Someone threw her to the ground – fell on her. "You've got the wrong man..." sounded through the commotion.
"No," she gasped, throwing her hands to her ears as the tunnel walls became a cocoon amplifying her thoughts in all their horror.
"…I'm no spy!"
Johanna fell to her knees.
She couldn't move. Even if she wanted to, she couldn't. The weight had her pinned to the ground where all she could do was listen to the screams and see feet running, bodies falling then lying still in pools of their own blood, and black boots - so close to her face she could smell the leather. All of a sudden, the weight lifted and she was forcefully grabbed and dragged out. When she dared to glance behind her, she saw the body of the café owner where she had been.
"No," she begged the darkness surrounding her.
"I killed a Kraut!" she heard with clarity.
There was no mistaking it – it was one and the same. Stumbling to her feet, Johanna walked towards the voices and turned an alcove just as Kinch's threat to Garner reached her ears. Clutching her gloves, Johanna stepped out of the gloom and, staring at the man now restrained in an old chair, she said, "I must speak to your Colonel."
"Begging ya pardon- " Newkirk said to no-one as he opened the door to the Colonel's quarters and stuck his head in.
And that was all Doc was going to allow before grabbing the handle and scowling at the humble Englander.
" 'Ere right, Doc. Don't kill the messenger. Got word the lady we have down below has to speak to the Gov now," Newkirk hastily explained.
Doc kept his hand on the door. "He's not going anywhere. If it's that important, bring her here."
And the door shut.
But in no time, three small taps were heard and when the door opened, Johanna stepped into Hogan's quarters.
Hogan stirred and then, embarrassed, sat up-- very, very slowly.
"I need to – " Standing before the bunk bed, Johanna couldn't help but notice his disheveled appearance, the dark, almost purple, circles under his eyes. "…speak to you," she finished, stepping away until she backed into the wooden desk. Embarrassed, she didn't know what to do. She had suspected he wasn't well earlier but never gave it another thought. "I'm sorry," she hastily added, tearing her eyes from Hogan to Doc.
There was that stern look again, Hogan noted. "I'm fine," he said simply, but even he knew that he sounded drained.
Doc and Johanna exchanged concerned looks.
"Sit down," Hogan directed to Johanna.
Again, she glanced at Doc before doing anything.
Hogan ran his fingers through his hair. "I promise I won't move," he said to Doc, who was still holding the door slightly open. "And if Johanna sits down, I won't have to exert any energy looking up at her."
Johanna sat. "It's important," she hastily added.
"You wouldn't be here if it wasn't."
"I won't be long," she told them both, noting how awkward Hogan’s movements seemed as he adjusted his shirt.
"No, you won't,” Doc agreed. “You'll be –" He glanced at his watch. "- exactly three minutes. I'll be outside. Counting."
As soon as Doc left, Hogan tried to rise. Immediately, Johanna shot out of her chair to help him but he quickly staved her off, opting instead to use the edge of the bunk to stand. Once on his feet, and painfully aware that every movement contributed to his light-headedness, the Colonel leaned his weight against the bunk for support and decided to delegate. "Do me a favour – stick your head around that door and ask my men to get you a strong black coffee."
"I don't drink coffee," she informed him, confused.
"No, but I do," he said, leaning further against the bunk. "And I sure could use a cup, now.”
Johanna did as she was asked and was almost immediately presented with a hot cup of black coffee, which she held just out of Hogan’s reach. Concern in her voice, she said, "Only if you sit down."
There was no missing it: the brief, lopsided grin – just before he sank onto his bunk. "The man you have in the tunnel; the one who attacked me," Johanna began, handing him the coffee, "I don't think he's who he says he is."
"We know that," he agreed, holding the cup tightly.
"That's not going to make you sick, is it?" Johanna asked concerned.
A raised eyebrow was all she got in reply.
"It's his voice," she explained. "I remembered it," she quickly added. "I know I've heard it before – elsewhere – away from here."
In between sips, Hogan noticed her wringing her hands; the same way she did when she revealed her ordeal of being a prisoner of the Kriminalkommissar. "Sit down," he calmly said, but she ignored him. "If you don't sit down and you collapse, I can't lift you. Then we'll both have Doc on our backs," he repeated, a smile in his voice.
She sat but solemnly looked at him. "He was at the café," she said, "I know he was. I heard him. You said the Gestapo knew of our network – my team. The Resistance wanted us to get someone important out. All we were told was that we had to get him out of the country and that the café owner would direct us to him. I know voices. He was there. He was the one we had to get out."
Hogan brought the cup to his lips, sipped then stared at his empty cup. He'd finished his coffee and never even noticed.
"You don't believe me," Johanna said, when Hogan went quiet. "You said my team was betrayed, that the Kriminalkommissar knew about us. Well, they knew about him, too. They even called him by his code name when they arrested him."
Hogan's head shot up. "What code name?"
Darkness Before Dawn
London, England – In a cul-de-sac near the London office of Military Intelligence …
For years, the Old England Pub hugged the entrance to the modestly housed cul-de-sac, weathering the effects of the bleak English weather along with the many new publicans that felt they could bring new life to it. But as Fate would have it, it was not a new landlord that gave this tavern renewed life, but the outbreak of war.
Wiping down the bar for the second time in as many minutes, Bartholomew scanned the sea of military personnel and noted with wry amusement how the smoky haze and dim lights gave his patrons a somewhat ethereal glow. He chuckled at his own sense of humour – ethereal glow in a pub.
When a young woman entered, Bartholomew replaced his forced smile with a more promising seductive one, his eyes following her every step. "Tell me you need a friendly ear to talk to, darling, and I'm yours all night," the bartender cooed.
But Captain Jeanine Bruyere merely smiled as she made her way to the lone officer at the corner table. "Why the smoke and dagger, Marcus?" she asked.
Commander Davidson poured himself another drink. "I ran out of the good stuff. Did you bring the file?"
Jeanine handed over her file.
Marcus pushed his glass over to Jeanine. "The waiters here take forever."
Jeanine sat down. Her gut clenched as a familiar knot of anxiety took hold.
"Johanna Ducet has been compromised. Your network is now an open target."
Hogan threw open the door to his quarters and collided with Doc.
"Going somewhere?" Doc asked his unruly patient.
"I need to get to the bottom of this. You know that, Doc," Hogan explained.
Doc glared at him. "Ever heard of delegation?"
"Can't do that, Doc," Hogan said, zipping up his jacket. "We might have Papa Bear himself as our prisoner." Hogan caught Kinch and Newkirk's bemused looks.
Doc merely folded his arms and stood his ground. "You can have a five star General as a prisoner. That still doesn't absolve me or my responsibility to you. And while we're on the topic, let me remind you that the health of every single man in this camp is my concern. Do you know how many prisoners were injured? How many refused treatment? As Senior Commanding Officer, shouldn't you be setting an example?"
Hogan stopped short of crossing his own arms, instead opting to hook his thumbs in his jacket pockets. All eyes and ears were on him and Doc, he knew that. He also knew that Doc deserved his respect, especially now and yes, he knew how many of his men were in the medical hut. He also knew that for Doc to be by his bedside meant that he wasn't with his men – with Carter. "I know, Doc. But we have an imposter in the tunnel. If you have any suggestions how I can get to the bottom of this and still follow doctor's orders, I'm all ears."
"I already told you. Delegate," Doc suggested. "You need to rest."
"Core, right, Doc," Newkirk said, stepping forward. "Boys here can watch over the Colonel while me and Kinch give our imposter the once over," Newkirk explained, smacking his fist into his open palm. "Right, boys?"
A rising murmur of agreement sounded around Hogan.
Hogan craned his neck and glared at Newkirk, while directing his answer to Doc. "I'll rest. After we interrogate Garner."
Doc nodded. "Then take these," he said, handing Hogan two aspirin. "And hopefully, you won't need to call me in the morning."
Newkirk hit the access tunnel. "Right, Doc. Let's get on with it then. Sir, whenever you're ready."
"When I need a nursemaid, I'll ask for one," Hogan fired back at Newkirk, and everyone else that was watching him intently. "Don't you have anything to get on with?" he said as men milled about.
Doc smiled, a relieved, genuine smile. "Guess I'll make sure Johanna gets back to her cot."
Hogan looked back at the departing Doc. Was he chuckling? His shoulders were moving up and down as if he was laughing to himself. Hogan could feel every man in the room watching him. Yes, Doc was chuckling. He didn't have Newkirk and Kinch as his nursemaids. He now had the whole damn hut!
The passageways of Tunnel Five echoed with the sounds of many angry voices.,none more resonate than the prisoner that called himself Garner.
"Remove those dog tags," Hogan ordered Newkirk.
Newkirk yanked the dog tags from around Garner's neck, breaking the chain in the process. "The least we can do is get these back to the poor bugger you took them from."
"You can't pin that on me! They were given to me so that I could get in here," Garner declared, his eyes darting from one accuser to another.
"Ever thought of being shot down?" Kinch asked sarcastically.
"How many times I have to tell you? I'm not one of them!" Garner said.
"And you're not one of us," Hogan stated.
Garner jerked against his restraints. "I killed a Kraut!"
"You're a prisoner of war with someone else's dog tags. That makes you an imposter. You blew up the Field Marshall's car – "
"He was no Field Marshall," Garner said.
"- and injured my men," Hogan continued. "I can hand you over to our illustrious Kommandant, who I'm certain will contact the Gestapo, " the brief look of fear on Garner's face didn't go unnoticed by Hogan. "Or I can just shoot you," and in one fluid motion, Hogan produced a revolver and aimed between Garner's eyes.
Garner paled. "I just told you. He was no Field Marshall. He was a Kriminalkommissar – a sadistic, psychopathic demon that got his kicks from torturing prisoners."
Hogan kept the revolver where it was.
"I saved your hide," Garner reiterated, his voice almost pleading as he looked from one man to the other. "I saved all your hides!"
"Or we're being set up. Johanna heard the Gestapo call you Papa Bear," Hogan informed him.
"Something else that kid's screwed up. The Gestapo asked if I was Papa Bear. The owners of the café assumed I was a downed flyer. Gestapo assumed I was this Papa Bear. Kid led them straight to me, that's all I know. One minute I was waiting for my contact to go home and the next I'm being escorted to Gestapo Headquarters."
"Papa Bear must be giving them some real grief if they're actively seeking him out," Kinch remarked.
Garner shrugged. "I wouldn't know. My incarceration in the dark, rodent-infested cell was short-lived. I was to be executed. Loaded on a truck with eight other airmen and driven to an open field."
Hogan cocked his revolver.
Garner jerked against his restraints in anger. "What part of what I've said don't you believe? I was supposed to be given passage home. I was arrested, questioned – "
"You weren't executed," Hogan deadpanned.
"I was driven to an open field! In the dead of night!" Garner yelled, the veins in his neck bulging. His face reddened as anger and frustrations bubbled to the surface. "A set of dog tags were shoved in my hand by a German officer and I was told I'd be escorted to a Prisoner of War camp. He called me his friend!" he laughed at the absurdity. "Can you believe that? A Kraut calling me his friend?" Garner repeated, falling back into the chair as if his energy and anger were leaving him. "I'm not stupid," he said, looking at Newkirk and Kinch. "Other eight airmen followed a priest. Poor bastards were probably given their last rites before being shot."
Hogan lowered his revolver.
"I was also told to deliver a message to a Colonel Robert E. Hogan," Garner continued, disgust evident in his tone of voice. "Which begs the question, sir, seeing how you're so chummy with the natives, who's the traitor?" From the corner of his eye, Garner could see Newkirk fidget, but he continued. "And how was I to know it wasn't some code? After all, you're an officer incarcerated with enlisted personnel. Not part of any Geneva Convention rules that I ever heard of,sir."
"What was the message?" Hogan asked, his mind racing through endless scenarios.
Suddenly LeBeau raced in, panting heavily. "Schultz said the Kommandant wants to see you, now. I told him you were in the medical hut."
"What are you going to do if he asks for him?" Kinch asked, referring to Garner.
"What if there's a roll call?" Newkirk asked.
Hogan gave Kinch the revolver. "If he makes any move, shoot him."
"Colonel," LeBeau said, "what do we do?"
Hogan dangled the confiscated dog tags before LeBeau. "We give the Kommandant Sergeant Garner."
"I knew it! You're one of them!" Garner yelled, jerking against his ropes again. "All of you! Cowards!"
And before Garner knew what was happening, a fist smashed against his jaw, sending him and the chair he was tied to crashing to the ground.
Hogan stared at the unmoving form on the ground. "Get some of the men to stand watch. We'll continue this after I finish with Klink," Hogan said to both Newkirk and Kinch. Then he turned and abruptly walked away.
"I'll go and get Edwards," Newkirk volunteered to Kinch. "Want me to get Doc as well?"
Kinch stopped shaking his hand.
Newkirk was smiling. "I won't tell Doc you slugged the impostor."
Kinch didn't comment, and he didn't lift Garner off the ground, either.
Pacing incessantly, Klink didn't hear Hogan knock and enter.
"You called for me, Kommandant?" Hogan called out, more so as a formality than a real comment. Pacing was something he and the Kommandant had in common. The conclusion of that pacing was another thing altogether.
"Hogan. Yes. Yes, I called you here for a very good reason. There was something important that I discovered – about Sergeant Garner."
"Really?" Hogan asked, sounding concerned.
"This Sergeant. I don't believe he is who he says he is. That's why I called you. I know who he is."
"Gestapo," Klink continued. "You may ask yourself how I know this. But I have a very sharp intellect, Hogan. Nothing happens in this camp without me knowing about it."
Hogan cleared his throat.
"I have never liked the Gestapo, Hogan. They march in here and make demands as if they own this camp. That man – Garner. I knew who he was the moment he came into my camp. Not only did he look like Gestapo, he acted like them.”
"The Gestapo in a Prisoner of War camp, Kommandant? I don't think my men would have been too pleased to share their Red Cross packages with the Gestapo." Hogan fought against smiling and bit the inside of his lip instead.
"Now, you may not know this about me, but I am a very shrewd judge of character. In just one meeting, I can tell you everything you need to know about any man – or woman."
Instinctively, Hogan raised an eyebrow. "You're right, Kommandant. I didn't know that about you."
"The Gestapo tried to infiltrate my camp – my camp, Hogan," Klink continued. "Do you know what gave Sergeant Garner away? I'll share this with you, Hogan. Officer to officer."
"It's an honour to be chosen for this special moment, Kommandant."
"Yes. Yes," Klink said impatiently. "You didn't see it. I did. He did not hide his animosity very well."
"He did glare at you a lot, sir," Hogan said.
"Not me! You! I saw the way he looked at you. In our army, Hogan, his attitude would be blatant insubordination. He would be shot. Let me tell you that in the German army, we have the utmost respect for our superior officers," Klink continued, satisfied with his commentary. "Hogan, that's why your side is losing the war – your lack of respect for your commanding officers."
"Yes, Kommandant," Hogan nodded, relief flooding through him. "Does that mean you won't be sending out a search party to look for him? Being Gestapo and all that," Hogan continued.
"Dismissssssed!" Klink shouted.
Hogan left, only to open the door ajar and glance back to see what the Kommandant was doing. He smiled as he watched the Kommandant shuffle through the files on his desk, all the while muttering to himself, "I don't even have all the transfer papers."
When Hogan returned to the interrogation point, Edwards had to nudge Garner awake.
Garner grunted. "Come back for round two? I told you what I know."
Newkirk and Kinch joined the Colonel, relieving Edwards of duty. Kinch had his right hand in his pocket.
"Untie him," Hogan told Kinch.
Garner was surprised and guarded.
"Our iron fist Kommandant is convinced you were a Gestapo agent sent to infiltrate his camp and spy on him. He's decided to handle this just like he handles every other drama – pretend it doesn't exist." Hogan began pacing, a little. His equilibrium still hadn't made peace with him. "So, technically, you don't exist."
Garner was massaging his wrists – and stopped. "I blew up that sadistic bastard and you're interrogating me! Which side of the fence you leaning on, Colonel? Are you all in on it?" he directed at Newkirk and Kinch, who gave each other a brief confused look. "I saw your tunnels. I thought you were all planning some mass escape, but now I'm inclined to think you've all built yourself a nice little hideaway to live out the rest of this damn war!"
Newkirk stepped forward, insulted. His fists clenched. Kinch flanked him, ready to use his right hook again.
Hogan raised his hand slightly. Garner saw it. "Calling off your goons?"
"What was the message?" Hogan asked.
Garner ignored Hogan, opting to stare at Newkirk and Kinch. Kinch had removed his hand from his pocket.
"You never passed on the message. What was it?" Hogan repeated.
"No, I didn't, did I? I just dealt with the issue. But as I see it, maybe I should have minded my own business," Garner replied, malice in his words. "You wanna shoot me? Fine. At least I can look in the mirror when I shave and know I'm no traitor to my country!"
Garner stood, ready for the onslaught.
"Newkirk!" Hogan called out.
Newkirk stopped just inches in front of Garner. "Not everything is as it seems, mate."
"The priest was not giving the eight airmen their last rites," Hogan explained. "He is a member of the Resistance. Those men are mostly likely home now. The German officer was most probably Captain Daniel Ehrlichmann, and the message he gave you was important enough for him to get you into my camp."
Garner sat down. "The message was that Gestapo was setting a trap – going from camp to camp executing prisoners of war under the guise of saboteurs."
"They would never have gotten away with it. We're protected by the Geneva Convention," Newkirk added.
Garner looked at him, as if seeing him for the first time and Newkirk saw a different type of anger in his eyes. "They did." Garner merely stated, in a voice devoid of emotion.
"Who are you, son?" Hogan found himself saying.
"I was a prisoner of war. At Chieti, Italy. After the overthrow of Mussolini, there was confusion in the Italian Prisoner of War camps. One day the guards were there, the next, they weren't."
"You escaped to Berlin?" Newkirk asked, incredulous.
Garner began rubbing his wrists, not because of the bindings, but from nerves. He had to do something – anything. "No. I was head of the escape committee. No-one got out. Word came through to 'stay put' and our Commanding Officers thought that a mass breakout, even though it would be through the countryside and mountains across to Switzerland, would be suicide. We were ordered to do nothing. Exactly three days later, Krauts arrived, executed most of the Commanding Officers and shipped the rest of us to Berlin. I, myself, jumped train and decided to stop at a café for a quick coffee before my second leg of the journey."
No-one spoke. Hogan had heard of the 'stay put' order, but until now, no-one had ever confirmed that it was all true. A mistake by a top brass? They had a chance to run for freedom. Hogan had to swallow hard. His stomach turned. So what was their imposter's position? An enlisted man who was ordered to stay back? It answered his revulsion and disgust for military officers.
"Welcome to Stalag 13, where under the guise of lowly prisoners of war, we run espionage and sabotage missions with the assistance of the Underground. When we're not interfering with Hitler's world domination, we're assisting Allied personnel to get back home."
Garner coughed, masking the emotion that threatened to come to the surface. He stood, "Captain Christopher Matthews, sir." and he saluted. "My friends call me Mat."
Hogan smiled. "At ease, Captain. My friends call me Papa Bear."
Is The Enemy Of My Enemy My Friend?
In the gloaming...
Hogan paced the radio room, stopping to read over Kinch’s shoulder, as Kinch took down the latest message from London.
In the gloaming...
Doc walked around the beds of the medical hut. Many of his patients were anxious to leave and return to their barracks and it pleased him. If they could scheme, they could think. If they could sneak out, they could walk unassisted. Most did. One still could not.
In the gloaming – darkness - ruthless in its obliteration of light...
Hogan swore under his breath.
Doc sat vigil at the bedside of his last remaining patient and prayed.
Dawn barely broke through bleak clouds. Bitter winds forced pristine white snowflakes to fall and marry with soot and ash still fixed on the wreck of the Field Marshall's staff car. No-one had been ordered to remove the still smouldering wreck, yet every single prisoner in the camp made a point of walking past it.
"Colonel Hogan. Pleeeeeese, tell them to stop," a frustrated Sergeant Schultz begged.
But Colonel Hogan merely removed his hat and savoured the sensation of snow on his almost non-existent headache. "Come on, Schultz. Don't you have any respect for the dead?"
Schultz blustered, his face deepening in shade. "Colonel Hoooogan. I am on duty."
"And a good thing. Can’t have my men paying their respects to such an important member of the Third Reich with just anyone on duty.”
Schultz opened his mouth to protest when a familiar bellow sounded across the compound.
"Schultz! What are these prisoners doing around the staff car? Why aren't you guarding it?" Klink shouted from the steps of his office.
Hogan shrugged his shoulders. "Guess I'll have to break it to the men that we won't be holding the memorial service."
Schultz froze, his face changing from the red of frustration to the pallid hue of sheer panic.
"I know, you want to thank me," Hogan told the retreating sergeant.
Kinch picked that time to join Hogan, his hands thrust in his pockets in a feeble attempt to ward off some of the cold. "Tell the men to return in pairs every time Schultz is on duty. They know what to keep their eyes out for." Hogan told Kinch. But before Kinch could comment, they were interrupted by a commotion just outside the medical hut.
“What do you think is going on?” Kinch asked.
They both watched as the medical hut door was flung open and three men pushed their way through the doorway.
Hogan smiled. Two men were supporting one man and walking very quickly away from the hut and towards Hogan. “I really do need to have a talk to Doc about his bed side manner.”
By the time the three medical hut escapees reached their commanding officer, they were out of breath. Propped steady by his two accomplices, Carter stood at attention and yelled, "READY TO RETURN TO DUTY, COLONEL."
Hogan smiled. He wanted to laugh out loud, but that would make Doc mad at him for encouraging his men to commit insubordination! Nodding, he just opened the hut door and allowed his men to go first. There were cheers and back slapping and jubilant cries as a member of the team finally returned home. Hogan stepped into the hut and gladly joined his men in their high spirits.
"Looks like he never left," Hogan assured a concerned and still angry Doc.
Carter sat on his bottom bunk, pencil poised in mid-air as he thought, then scribbled quickly, only to shake his head and again, just as had been his practice all morning, scrunching up the piece of paper he was writing on and throwing it to the corner of the bunk to meet its family of equally crumbled, unsuitable letters.
"It may not be permanent," Doc explained. "The explosion took a lot out of him, and to come out of it with what may be a temporary auditory loss – "
Hogan looked at him.
"I'd say he's lucky to be alive," Doc finished.
Newkirk rose from
his game of cards and began harassing all the men in the barracks. "Come
on. 'and them over," they heard him demand. One by one, each man grumbled
but passed on his precious writing paper. When one man parted with a single
sheet, Newkirk kept his hand out. "Your mother never taught you to share,
"Hey! Keep my
mother out of this. That's really all I got,"
Newkirk raised his hand to Davis's eye level, his head cocked to the side in an impatient manner. Davis angrily threw the covers off the end of his mattress and pulled out the small wad of sheets he'd been collecting. "Writing a book are we?" Newkirk asked, sarcastically. Davis didn't answer.
Some time later, coming full circle and back at Andrew's bunk, Newkirk proudly handed over the generous stack of donated writing paper.
"THANK YOU," Andrew yelled out, placing it beside him and continuing with his important letter.
Standing before Andrew, Newkirk watched. Then, when Andrew just kept writing and demolishing more priceless paper, Newkirk returned to the unoccupied seat at the common room table and began shuffling cards. Within minutes, LeBeau handed him a coffee, but Newkirk just shook his head, his eyes downcast on the arrangement of his cards in what was becoming his ritualistic game of solitaire. LeBeau merely squeezed his shoulder and walked away.
"I'm sorry I couldn't do more," Doc quietly said.
Hogan craned his neck and cringed. "Wanna tell me when these headaches will stop?"
Doc remained silent.
"Great. Not only do I have to deal with disgruntled prisoners and a paranoid Kommandant – my own medical officer is giving me the cold shoulder."
That did it. Doc lowered his cup and growled, "How am I supposed to get my patients to obey orders when you won't? Do you know how close you came to not waking up? I am a doctor, you know!"
those sleeping tablets in our next shipment from
LeBeau approached the two men with the coffee pot. Doc declined but Hogan gladly held out his cup for the umpteenth refill.
"Thanks, LeBeau," Hogan said.
LeBeau nodded then joined Newkirk at the table with his own cup and watched Newkirk's concentration wane. "Now, what could he possibly find so hard to write? Not that I'm complaining or nothing like that but, well, at the rate 'e's going I'll have to go through the entire camp before 'e writes two words."
LeBeau smiled, watching Carter discard another piece of paper. "L'amour," he muttered, almost to himself.
Newkirk's head shot up, shocked. "Our Andrew? In love?"
"You English are so blind," LeBeau criticized. "He has been through a very difficult time, and it has made him think of those he loves. We French do not need to be reminded."
Picking up one of the discarded notes and seeing nothing more than the word 'Dear Mary Jane', Newkirk replied, "Quite all right. Maybe you can remind our young in love sergeant over there how to write, and we might all save ourselves a right royal begging session around the rest of the camp tomorrow morning."
"Well, that's a fine thing to say about someone who was almost killed. For your information, Newkirk, I'll have you know that I went to one of the best universities around and English was my best subject," Andrew piped up, pencil poised, the paper on his lap still untouched.
LeBeau and Newkirk stared at their friend, dumbfounded. He heard them? And he wasn't shouting anymore. In fact, he was just simply making a comment to a comment he had overheard!
"I know you've all gone to a lot of trouble getting the paper for me, and I really do appreciate it, but…" Carter began fidgeting. "You know – well - I've never written a – you know – one of those romantic kind of letters to my girl before," he finally admitted.
Newkirk dropped his cards. "Why didn't you say so, mate?" he exclaimed sitting next to Carter. "We English have the greatest poets in all of 'istory. I can tell you what to write that will keep your Mary Jane –"
LeBeau deposited his coffee on the table and joined Carter and Newkirk. "Since when are the English the experts on l’amour?" LeBeau interrupted, leaning across Carter to criticize Newkirk. "Have you forgotten that we French invented it?"
"Now, Louis, let's not get carried away. Invented it? If I recall my English history, it was the English who influenced the early development of Romanticism…"
"Newkirk's right," Doc whispered to Hogan. "It was the British poet James Macpherson who influenced the early development of Romanticism."
Hogan was impressed. "You know your poetry."
"I certainly hope so," Doc blushed, "spent the better part of two years at college engulfed in it."
Hogan smiled widely. "Redhead or brunette?"
Doc cleared his throat uncomfortably, "Blonde."
Hogan chuckled. "Two years, huh?"
Doc poured himself another coffee and sipped it very, very slowly. "Best two years of my life," he admitted.
Hogan slapped him on the back contentedly and returned to his quarters.
Doc watched the men still argue French and English poetry, throwing names at each other. Yep, he thought to himself, in between drawn out sips, the very best two years.
Newkirk allowed the caress to travel down his shoulder blades - soft smooth hands that could only have been professionally manicured; nails ever so teasingly light. He could smell the French perfume. "I will begin my countdown from ten and then you may remove your blindfold," the velvety voice behind him whispered seductively in his ear. "Ten," the French accent practically purred in his ear, "nine," shivers of anticipation travelled through every nerve ending and then some more, "eight," his fingers flexed in anticipation, "seven," palms perspiring. How much longer could it go on, he sighed…
The sound roared through the barracks, throwing Newkirk off his bunk, moaning and cursing.
Hogan stepped out of his quarters still fully dressed. By the sounds of the continuous explosions, he was certain their little additions during their work detail had now found themselves in the furnaces of the latest oil refinery and taken hold.
Outside, searchlights trawled the camp, dogs barked incessantly and still the roar of smaller explosions invaded the night.
Walking to the stove, Hogan helped himself to another coffee and, turning around proudly said, "Well done," then returned to his room.
Newkirk was still lying on his back on the floor. Kinch extended his hand to help him up. "Do I need to tuck you in?" Kinch asked.
"Why now? She was just counting down!" Newkirk complained to Kinch
"She?" Kinch teased.
"Yeah," Newkirk said, almost heartbroken, but as he stood up, he saw Carter smiling in his sleep. Disgusted, he turned to Kinch and whined, "Why didn't he fall out of bed?"
Berlin, Germany – Office of Military Intelligence.
The thoughts of Captain Ehrlichmann, Abwehr, were rudely interrupted by a sharp knock on the door. Not turning away from the small window in his office, he bellowed, "Was wollen Sie?"
A sergeant threw the door open and roughly pushed a young man into the room. "Herr Hauptmann, we intercepted this man on the train to Berlin."
Ehrlichmann turned to face them. "Congratulations, Sergeant, but tell me how you apprehending a young man on his way to Berlin has anything to do with Military Intelligence?"
"Herr Hauptmann?" the guard stammered, confused.
Ehrlichmann glared at the Sergeant. "You barge into my office and state that you have apprehended a young man on his way to Berlin. Why? What did he do? Who is he? What brought him under your scrutiny? Is it your duty to bring all young men to my office?”
The Sergeant froze. He didn’t expect this. He was doing his duty. “Herr Hauptmann?”
“What is he? What does he do?” Ehrlichmann now made a point of looking the man before him up and down, almost feeling his anxiety.
The sergeant reddened. "Herr Hauptmann, we have been under orders since the explosions that destroyed the oil refinery to check all trains, especially those travelling to Berlin."
"And you found this person suspicious?"
"Jawohl, Herr Hauptmann," the sergeant agreed, pulling himself up to full attention, faltering when Ehrlichman raised an eyebrow in response. "It was his papers," he added. His embarrassment quickly replaced by conviction, the sergeant handed over the confiscated papers.
Captain Ehrlichmann opened up the flimsy document and glanced at it before returning to his desk. He removed a magnifying glass from his desk drawer. The sergeant immediately stood straighter. "Hmmm," Ehrlichmann murmured, leaving the magnifying glass to the side and reading the document before him. Twice he reached for the magnifying glass, then thought better of it and continued scrutinising it. Finally, he picked up the magnifying glass and held it over the official stamps.
The sergeant moved closer to the desk, leaning closer.
When Ehrlichmann finally lay down the magnifying glass and looked up, the sergeant was leaning over his desk. "Bitte, Sergeant. Show me what you found to be suspicious," Ehrlichmann said, sliding the document across the desk to the Sergeant and holding the magnifying glass out for him.
The sergeant blanched; however, he accepted the magnifying glass and stared at the papers before him, blinking repeatedly as the blurred image intensified with his trembling hand.
With each passing minute, Ehrlichmann grew more and more impatient, eventually straightening and ordering, "Sergeant, you are dismissed." The sergeant flinched but didn't move. It was there – in the papers, he was certain of it. The magnifying glass shook in his hands as he raised and lowered it – anxious to locate something. "Unless I can interest you in checking the trains departing for a colder climate?" Ehrlichmann threatened.
Suddenly, the sergeant's complexion paled and droplets of sweat started appearing on his upper lip. With no hesitation, he saluted and left.
Ehrlichmann retrieved the papers and, with no hesitation, removed a stamp from his desk drawer and pressed it firmly on the bottom left hand side of the document, then initialled it. He then folded it, careful to use its original crease marks, and held it out to the still-silent, but clearly anxious man before him. The unwilling visitor did not take it. “Your papers are missing this seal, Herr...Schmidt,” Ehrlichmann said pointedly. Then, with a knowing stare at the man said: “Do not make that mistake again.”
The young man swallowed audibly, then reached out a trembling hand and retrieved his document.
“You may leave.”
“Jawohl, Herr Hauptmann, Danke, sir.” The man turned on his heel to escape as quickly as possible.
“Herr Schmidt,” Ehrlichmann called, then shook his head when the man didn’t respond to the name on his papers. “Schmidt!”
Now the man jerked around, obviously shaken, “Herr Hauptmann?”
“See that the right people get that piece of paper. I wouldn’t want to see more of you in here with incomplete paper work.”
The young man – Schmidt - lowered his eyes, almost bowing in relief and acknowledgement, then turned and walked out, closing the door behind him.
Daniel Ehrilichmann returned to his view.
Suddenly the door was flung open and a short stubby man in a Gestapo uniform marched in.
Pursing his lips, Ehrlichmann turned. "Yes?"
"I am Major Hochstetter. You will do me the honour of accompanying me to Gestapo Headquarters, bitte."
Surrounded by the smell of burning candles and incense, François scanned the interior of his small church, satisfied himself that all was in its proper place, and then knelt before the altar.
He prayed with his head – not his heart.
His heart left when his sister committed suicide and, even though he was an ordained priest and on his way to help her, he could not get to her in time. How many times did he ask God why? How many times did he witness the carnage and horror around him and ask why? So, for the same reason he donned his Cossack, he prayed – all to do with his head – definitely not his heart.
Suddenly the silence was broken by the sound of marching feet.
"The correct form of respect is to kneel when facing the altar of our Lord Jesus Christ," François stated, watching the soldiers march down the aisle. "God does not discriminate."
"We are not here to pray, priest," Major Hochstetter belted out, his stride putting him well ahead of the three soldiers that accompanied him.
François smiled. "It is not a difficult thing to learn."
"You will come with us, bitte," Hochstetter ordered, but François ignored him, choosing instead to face the soldier that was raising his rifle. "You bring weapons into the House of God?" François asked.
"Enough. Arrest him!" Hochstetter told his men.
"How old are
you?" François asked, walking towards the young soldier. He was just a
young man, François thought to himself. What was this war doing to the young
The soldier flinched.
"Eighteen? Just out of school? And you raise your rifle to a priest in the house of Our Lord? Tell me – "
The soldier fired.
The smell permeated through the very walls of the dark rodent-infested cell he was just thrown into. His side burned where the bullet had grazed him. He knew exactly why the young man fired. Fear. Wasn't that what was keeping this war alive – fear?
"Stop praying. You're not dead yet!" Ehrlichmann knelt beside his brother and inspected his wound. "And don't tell me how you got this. I know it would have to do with your righteous holy stupidity."
"Who do you think betrayed us?"
Ehrlichmann didn't answer, but his head gave him only one name – Major Overmier, as he was first introduced to him, better known as Colonel Robert Hogan of Stalag 13.
"Bitte, Herr Hauptman," the Gestapo Major gestured to the chair across from his desk.
Shoved into the room by a German guard, Captain Daniel Ehrlichmann stumbled, falling against the Gestapo Major's desk. "You must have something very important to ask me?"
The Major smiled. "Sit. Please."
Ehrlichmann reluctantly sat.
"Allow me to apologise for your accommodation - Cigarette?" the Major offered, interrupting himself. Ehrlichmann merely shook his head. Working one into its holder, the Major lit it then sat back in his chair and continued. "Where was I? Yes, I was apologizing for your accommodations," Ehrlichmann noticed his smile deepened; a smile of self satisfaction. "These are American," he continued, holding the cigarette up to the light. "Since your detainment we have had an influx of 'guests' and we needed more – " he laughed; coughed, "- accommodation."
Daniel felt a cold trickle of dread form at the base of his neck.
"I trust the priest wasn't too bad a roommate."
"He prays a lot," Daniel deadpanned.
"Of course, how callous of me, what is it that your file states? Atheist?"
A sliver of hope sprung in Daniel. "You put the priest in with me to torment me?"
The Major's smile broadened. "On the contrary; I was hoping he would administer the last rites." Removing the orders from his desk drawer, the Major walked up to Ehrlichmann and handed them to him. "An attempt was made on our Führer's life. These orders are from the Führer himself calling for Abwehr to be disbanded." Ehrlichmann read them; recognized all the seals, the signatures. They really were orders from the Führer for disbandment and – "You, Herr Hauptman, will be executed tomorrow morning."
Before Daniel could fathom what was happening, two guards flanked him.
The Major retrieved his orders and sniggered, "You should have allowed the priest to give you your last rites," and he motioned his guards to take him away.
But when they reached the door, Ehrlichmann turned, enough to catch the Major’s eye. "You didn't tell me if the attempt was successful." Blinding pain was mercifully followed by oblivion.
Text and original characters copyright 2014 by Teresa Strati
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.