2003 Papa Bear Awards - First Place
Best Short Story
Disclaimer: "Hogan‘s Heroes" and other related characters are all properties of... um... someone other than me. No infringement is intended. This story, such as it is, was written as a sign of respect and love for the characters, the show, and their creator. I claim no ownership of the aforementioned show and characters.
Feedback: Comments and helpful criticisms are always appreciated.
He looked down at his hands, almost expecting them to be stained red with blood. God, what had he done? Yeah, they had been forced to kill people before. With their “line of work,“ it was expected. Still, he had never had to do it himself. He hadn’t ever before had to look into their eyes and see the fear, pain, realization... He closed his eyes for a moment, trying to erase the image that had suddenly appeared in his head. “God, what did I do? What did I do?”
It had been a typical mission. Go in, bomb the bridge, and get out... They never could have imagined what would happen. It shouldn’t have happened. Everything had been going according to plan, until...
“Are you al’ right, mate?” He started slightly when he felt a strong hand place itself on his shoulder. With blank eyes, he looked up at his friend. He gave a weak grin and slowly nodded his head. “I’m fine.”
With a skeptical look on his face, Newkirk took a deep breath. “Whatev’r you say, chum. Tell you what, if you want to talk later...” He trailed off, letting the rest of his offer hang in the air.
“Sure... Maybe later.” With his response, he let his friend know that the discussion was closed. With one more skeptical look at him, Newkirk walked off.
“Why would I want to talk later? There’s nothing to talk about.” With a hollow laugh, he let his mind wander back to several hours earlier.
The charges had been placed under the bridge and all of the detonators had been set. Everything had been going according to plan. The trucks that they had been waiting for had shown up, and it was almost time to blow the bridge. Then the German soldiers had climbed out. There had been about a dozen of them. Enough to put a stopper in their plans if they didn’t hurry.
With a nod from Hogan, Carter had set off the charges. They barely had enough time to duck for cover before the bridge went up in flames. As soon as some of the smoke had cleared, they had gotten ready to sneak back to camp. It had seemed like they had gotten away, until the bullets had started flying past them.
They didn’t have time to see how many Germans had survived. All they had time to do was split up and run. They all went in separate directions - Hogan, Newkirk, LeBeau, Carter, Kinch... They had ran as fast as they could, but it hadn’t been fast enough...
“How are you doing?” With a quick jerk of the head, he looked behind him. LeBeau was standing there, a worried smile on his face. “Perhaps you would like to talk about...”
“There’s nothing to talk about,” he quickly interrupted. “Really, I’m fine. Don’t worry about me.”
LeBeau looked at him for a moment, a troubled look in his eyes. Finally he nodded and walked off. Looking behind him as he went, he saw his friend hunch his shoulders and lay his head down on the table in front of him. “We cannot help you if you will not allow us near you,” he whispered quietly as he turned the corner.
After they had split up, he had thought that everything was going to be fine. The gunfire that had been right behind him was fading away into the distance. Suddenly, his ears picked up just a little. Was it him, or did he hear something different about the gunfire he was hearing? He stopped breathing for a moment when he realized what he was hearing. The gun that he could hear being firing wasn’t German... It was one of theirs. Without stopping to think, he ran off into the direction
He gasped as someone placed their hand on his arm. “Hey, how are you holding up?” Kinch looked down at him with a worried expression on his face. “What happened was pretty rough...”
“I’m fine... Don’t worry about me.” He looked up at the worried man standing over him. “Trust me, there’s nothing wrong.” Kinch looked down into the eyes of his friend. He had never seen him like this before, and it was scaring him to death. “Fine then. If you want to talk later...”
“I’ll find you...” Kinch nodded his head in silent agreement as he walked off. He didn’t know what to do about this... Maybe the others would have an idea...
As soon as Kinch had left, he looked back down at his hands. Was it him, or did they seem just a little bit more red than usual?
The blackness was overwhelming, but he pressed on. He could hear the sound of gunfire in the distance, growing louder as he got closer. As he ran, he silently berated himself. Why had he run in the opposite direction of the others?
The dark was suddenly shattered by an bright light. Ducking behind a nearby tree, he watched the scene in front of him in shock. Two Krauts were standing in the shadows of the trees. For a moment, he thought that they were alone. Then he saw the third one break through the barrier of darkness - holding a gun to the head of a very familiar man. Colonel Robert E. Hogan.
As he watched, he felt fear wrapping around his heart. What were they going to do with the colonel? His questions were soon answered as a loud noise came from somewhere nearby. His eyes widened as he recognized the voice as Newkirk’s. He was trying to get their attention so that Hogan could escape!
The men looked at each other for a moment, and then two of them ran off in the direction of the voice. However, the one who was holding the gun stayed. Hogan stood still for a moment, an undecided look on his face. Finally, his face relaxed, and he let his body go slack.
The German didn’t know what as going on until it was too late. Hogan broke free of his grasp and tried to rush off into the forest. Before he could get into the shadows, however, the Kraut grabbed his gun and aimed it at the back of the retreating prisoner. Squinting his eyes slightly, he cocked the trigger.
With a sudden realization, Carter jumped up from his hiding place. “Colonel Hogan, look out!” Hogan threw himself to the ground, just as the Kraut turned around and shot at the young Sergeant.
As the Kraut rushed towards him, Carter fumbled with his gun. With terrified eyes, he watched the German come closer and closer. In almost slow motion, he saw Hogan pulling himself off of the ground.
Suddenly, the Kraut was standing over him. Aiming his gun right at Carter, he pulled back on the trigger. Without thinking, Carter pulled his gun up and pulled the trigger. His gun went off a few seconds before the Kraut’s, but it had been enough.
He felt the blood splatter on him as the soldier’s face contorted in fear. With shock, he realized that he hadn’t been hit - but the Kraut had. With wide eyes he stared at the pain and fear in the Kraut’s eyes. “Carter!”
With a shocked look in his eyes, he looked at Colonel Hogan - who was now standing over him with amazement on his face. “Carter? Are you okay?”
Taking gasping breaths, he gave a weak smile at his worried commanding officer. “Yeah... I’m fine. I think.” As the other three men ran up to them, Carter could see the shock on their faces. “Everything’s fine,” he whispered quietly as he embraced the peace of being unconscious.
“Carter, look at me.” The young man looked up briefly at his commanding officer. He started just a little at the pale, worried look in his eyes. Then he looked back down at his hands. He felt like they were bright red - shining like a banner - showing anyone who looked at him that he had taken a life. He had taken the life of a Kraut - no, a boy - who was even younger than him.
Hogan walked up to him and placed his hand on the young Sergeant’s shoulder. “Car... Andrew, look at me.” With a weary sigh, he looked up.
The officer looked down at the dead look in the man’s eyes. With a weary sigh, he sat down beside him. “Andrew, I wish that I could tell you that everything was going to be ok - but I can’t. I know what you’re going through, and trust me, it is never ok.”
“I know, Colonel Hogan. I know... But why me? Why did I have to be the one to...” Carter looked up at him, a slight bit of unknowing showing in his eyes.
Hogan shrugged his shoulders before responding. “I guess that it’s because fate likes to sneak up on you and just kick you in the ass every now and then. Other than that, I can’t give you a reason.”
With a smile that seemed to be a little brighter than before, Carter stood up slowly. “Thanks Colonel Hogan. Thanks for just listening.” He took a shaky breath. “I guess that I should go talk to the guys... I think that they’re a little worried about me.”
Hogan gave him a gentle smile. “The pain will fade, you know. It will eventually fade.” Carter looked at him with a weak grin. “Maybe...”
As he walked off, he turned back one more time. “Colonel Hogan? Do you remember back at Christmas when you told me that ‘Santa’ wasn’t going to come if I didn‘t leave you alone, and I said that I wasn’t a kid anymore?”
Hogan nodded, knowing where this conversation was going. Carter looked at him, with not a bit of joking in his eyes. “Well, I was wrong. I was a kid back then. Back then...” He gave a hollow laugh. “I guess that I’m not one anymore though. I guess that I’m not one anymore...”
Text and original characters copyright by Settiai
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.