It's a Wonderful Game
Margaret Bryan, Patti Hutchins

This effort was written in response to a challenge to include "Angels" in HH fan fiction. Itís definitely a crossover. We do not own the Hoganís Heroes characters, nor do we have any claim on Frank Capraís "Itís a Wonderful Life". This one was just for fun. And yes, we know the release date of Frank Capraís "Itís a Wonderful Life" wasnít until 1946. So sue us! (No donít. Forget we even said that!)


World War II continued. Soldiers facing death on a daily basis. Hope sprung eternal that if they were to die because of this war, that there would be something more than just a grave awaiting them. Was there something beyond this reality? Was there someone watching over them? What could they expect? Was there any truth to the afterlife? Sadly the answers stayed out of the reach of most, unless the face of death appeared.

Hammelburg, Germany, POW camp, Stalag 13,

December 25, 1944, Early Christmas Morning, 0430 Hours

Newkirk, LeBeau and Carter had just entered through the tunnel from the outside. The mission, which they had just returned from, was a success. But two of the men had had a close call. Newkirk and LeBeau had been too close to the explosives that Carter had rigged strategically along the Hammelburg Bridge. Unfortunately the explosives went off prematurely. Newkirk and LeBeau were tossed violently to the ground. Luckily for them, they had already been retreating from the bridge and were not caught in the full blast. They only suffered some cuts and bruises. But just looking at them though, could cause a heart to stop.

"What the hell happened?" Colonel Hogan asked, his heart skipping a beat. "Are you all right?" He took hold of each man and looked him up and down. He patted both men on the chest, saying "Thank God. Youíre okay?"

"Yes sir Colonel, just got a wee bit to close for comfort," answered Newkirk with a sigh.

"Oui, Oui. Everything is fine Colonel," LeBeau chimed in.

"Colonel Hogan, sir. The explosive charges went off too early," Carter said nervously. He began shaking his head. "I am so sorry guys. I could have got you both killed," Carter turned away. "Itís all my fault."

"Listen Andrew, itís okay. These things happen. Letís just be glad you all got back safely," Hogan said reassuringly. "Okay guys, go get cleaned up. I can get Wilson if you think you need him."

Newkirk looked at LeBeau for his answer. Louis shook his head. "No sir, weíre fine. Donít worry." Newkirk patted LeBeau on the shoulder. "Letís go Louis." Both men headed back to the barracks.

"Okay, good work guys," Hogan said, wanting to address all three men, but he noticed that Andrew had walked away, down one of the tunnel exits. Damn. Andrew wasnít dealing well with this situation. I guess, Iíll give him sometime to deal with it by himself. If I need to Iíll help talk him through it. I canít have any of the men doubting themselves. Now especially. The men donít know it yet, but Iíve had some private communications from London. The good news is that the War is coming to an end. But London wants us to help with some backup measures to surround German forces when the Allied invasion begins. Theyíve left all the planning to me. Iíve been spending a lot of time contemplating how we could make it work. Itís going to be an all-out effort, like nothing weíve ever done before. I really canít have anyone unsure of their abilities. Carter especially, heís going to play a vital role in this new effort. The poor kid has always been somewhat unsure of himself. That is, until he found his niche as my demolitions expert. Since then, wow almost 3 years now; heís been vital to this operation. I canít imagine what this operation would have been like without him. The Colonel pulled his eyes off the tunnel exit that Carter had disappeared into and headed back to the barracks.

Andrew had walked away from the Colonel, Newkirk and LeBeau and he just kept walking. Iíll have to turn back soon. This tunnel is going to come to an end. I canít believe I almost killed Peter and Louis. How could I have made that mistake? I checked the timers ten times, and everything seemed okay. Oh God. What should I do? Everything seems to be going wrong lately. First, it was the mishap with the film not being in the camera. Then, not remembering the name of that secret rocket base. God, What was it again? Hamleading, no Leadingham. I still canít remember it! Then, the explosion when I used too much bleach in the new formula. God, what a horrible week itís been! And now this? These guys would be better off without me. I wish I had never been brought here. Before Andrew could even identify the creaking noise, he was knocked unconscious, as the tunnel he was in collapsed.

Andrew came to with a start. He found himself sitting on the tunnel floor, up against one of the walls. "Ouch. My head hurts," he said aloud.

"Iím not surprised after that nasty tunnel collapse. You got conked pretty good by that fallen beam over there," Angel 2nd Class Lawrence Merriweather said. "I was able to pull you out though. Lucky boy."

Carterís head turned quickly to the sound of the unrecognized voice, "Ouch. Damn," he said, his head still stinging. "Who are you? Where did you come from? How did you get here?" Oh my God, this is weird. Iíve never seen this guy before. He looks like my granduncle Dave, very tall and skinny.

"Oh, yes. Let me introduce myself. Iím Angel 2nd Class Lawrence Merriweather. Iím here to give you your wish," the angel said.

"What? Youíve got to be kidding. What wish?" Carter asked, very confused.

"Donít you remember? You wished that you were never brought to this prison camp. I was sent to show you what the camp would be like if you never arrived," Lawrence said, straightforwardly. Just then the Roll Call bell went off. "Did you know that anytime a bell rings an Angel gets its wings? I havenít earned my wings yet. Thatís why Iím here. Your are my final assignment before I get my wings."

"Wow, this is a little too weird for me," Carter said. "Iíve got to go. Itís time for Roll Call." He was hoping to leave this guy far behind, but instead in a blink of an eye, he found himself standing outside in the Roll Call line.

Andrewís heart skipped a beat. His surroundings were totally different. He searched the line-up for the guys, but no one was there. No Colonel Hogan, no Kinch, no LeBeau, no Newkirk. He had been so pre-occupied that he never saw the guard coming.

The guard struck him hard in the stomach with the butt of his rifle, and then barked in German. "Auctung. Auctung."

"Oh my, what a nasty lot they are," said the Angel, trying to help Andrew.

Carter just tried to catch his breath and stand at attention. Where was Shultz? Who ever this guard is, he didnít seem to notice Merriweather. Whatís going on? Where is everyone? Carter watched quietly as the Kommandant exited his quarters. Oh my God, whereís Kommandant Klink? Whatís going on?

Carter made no further move or comment until Roll Call was over. His heart was pounding so hard. He turned to Merriweather and almost breathless asked, "Whatís going on here? What have you done? Where is everyone?"

"Donít you remember, you wished that you were never brought here? I told you that I was here to show you what the camp would be like if you never arrived," Lawrence repeated straightforwardly.

"Come on. This isnít funny. What happened to everyone? What happened to Colonel Hogan? Where is he?" Carter asked getting very panicky.

"Oh, such an awful thing. Your Colonel Hogan was executed, as were most of your other friends here. Ivan Kinchloe, Peter Newkirk, and Louis LeBeau, and many others. All executed as spies. So awful. The Kommandant was sent to the Russian Front and perished soon after his arrival. And Hans Shultz was executed as a sympathizer," Merriweather said with a sigh.

"Thatís impossible. How could that happen?" Carter asked, his heart breaking. No! How could that happen just because he wasnít here!?

"It happened because you were not here to save Colonel Hogan. You remember when you and Colonel Hogan had that close call, a year ago, on a mission into Hammelburg to exchange information with a currier, code named Toucan. You had then been able to draw the attention of the Gestapo away from Colonel Hogan and the contact. In this new reality, you were not there to do so and the Colonel had gone on that mission alone. He was captured by the Gestapo, interrogated, and then executed. Your prison camp was turned up side down. All the tunnels were exposed, the underground operation dismantled, and everyone thought to be directly involved was executed." Merriweather explained.

"No. That canít be," Andrew moaned morosely. He then stood quietly taking is his surroundings. Nothing was the same. There were more guards. The prisoners all looked worn out. The barbed wire was electrified. Everything was different, because of him. All of his friends were dead. Even Shultz and Klink. "No this is just some bad joke. They are probably just hiding in the tunnels. This canít be all my fault. Please God, make it go back to the way it was." Without waiting for any response from Merriweather, Andrew ran for barracks two. He was hoping beyond hope to find the guys hiding in the tunnels and this nightmare would come to an end. Andrew never saw the two guards rounding the corner of barracks two. He ran into them. He was struck across the face with the butt of a rifle and collapsed to the ground.

Andrew came to with a start. He found himself sitting on the tunnel floor, up against one of the walls. "Ouch. My head hurts," he said aloud.

"Oh, God. Andrew you gave us such a scare. Are you all right?" Colonel Hogan asked, giving his Sergeant the once over.

"Colonel Hogan! Itís you. Wow, this is great!" Carter exclaimed with a huge smile. He started to get up, but the Colonel wouldnít let him.

"Whoa Carter, wait till Wilson gets here. Youíve got a nasty bump. Letís make sure you donít have a concussion, okay?" Hogan said surprised at Carterís reaction. I had just talked to Carter a half an hour ago. Why was he so excited to see me? Well, at least, his attitude has returned to normal. Thatís good to see. But, I hadnít expected him to almost de-capitate himself in the process. God, Iím glad heís okay.

"Iím okay Colonel. I really am. Iím just so glad to see you. Everyoneís okay right?" Carter asked nervously.

"Yeah Carter," Hogan said smiling. "Youíve only been out for a few minutes, everyoneís fine. We heard the collapse and were here almost immediately. Just be glad you werenít any closer to the tunnel entrance. Youíre okay, right? -- Here then, let me help you up. -- Careful." Colonel Hogan helped Carter back toward barracks two. As they got to the ladder, the Roll Call bell went off. "God damn bell. Why did Klink think it was necessary to start using that bell again anyway? It was the most grating noise!" Hogan complained.

"Hey Colonel," said Carter enthusiastically. "Did you know that any time a bell rings, an Angel get its wings?"

Humoring his excited Sergeant, he said. "Yeah, wasnít that mentioned in that Ďcapturedí movie we were shown last week. What was the name? Oh yeah. Itís a Wonderful Life staring Jimmy Stewart. Nice movie."

"Yeah it was," Carter replied, as he looked up at that ceiling of the tunnel. He winked. That a boy Lawrence. Thanks a lot.

The End

Text and original characters copyright 2002 by Margaret Bryan, Patti Hutchins

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.