Being Inspired, Maybe - 30

A picture paints ... well, as many words as you like.  For instance:

And, then, the words:

There were eleven stormtroopers and eight on Johansson’s group. One of those would be in the communications center, leaving, at worst, eighteen men out looking for me.
I also assumed that Jackerby would approach the search in much the same manner as I would, the men in pairs because if they were alone he knew that I would have the advantage.
Four pairs would be inside, doing a room to room search, from the top down.
Five would be outside, one group in the center, one group at each of the corners, all working the perimeter, all in constant communication with each other.
In normal circumstances, I would be caught.
These were not normal circumstances.

Jack padded his way just ahead of me, stopping every few yards and both sniffing and listening.  At a junction he would stop, waiting, then make a decision which way to go.
I had to trust his instincts.
Just ahead of me there was a cracking sound followed by falling rocks and a shaft of light.
An opening in the roof where it was too close to the surface.
Jack went quite still.  Voices.
“Be careful. Or you’ll fall down that hole.  They should have told us the ground around here is on top of an old mineshaft.”
“Could be where they buried the bodies hastily before they left.”
The man was referring to the story the Germans had killed about a hundred of the nearby villagers and buried them in a mass grave near the castle.  No one had been able to verify the account, nor had anyone found any skeletal evidence.
“Let’s get out of here.  The last thing I want to see is a ghost.”

Another fifty or so feet along, I stopped at an overhead grill.  The metal was showing on the tunnel side, but on the other, I could see bushes.
I think I knew where we were.  This was where the road crossed a small bridge and headed towards the castle entrance.  It was on the northeastern side of the old battlements, and going straight under the road would take us to the eastern wall.
Whether we could get out of the castle there remained to be seen.
I took a step and saw Jack stop and turn around to look back the way we had come.  A moment later a beam of light came from the break in the roof of the tunnel.  Perhaps the man had decided there might not be ghosts in the hole.
I heard the man’s voice travel up the tunnel.  “Looks like a cavern of something.”
That something he might guess to be a tunnel.
We had to go.
I moved quickly in the opposite direction, into the dark, the sound of more rocks falling from the roof following us.

Another hundred feet or so we reached a wall, a dead end to the tunnel.  It looked to me that it had been bricked in the recent past because it consisted of house bricks, not cobblestones.
The surface was wet, and there was the sound of dripping nearby.
Jack sat on the floor.  Nowhere to go, for him it was time to rest.
We couldn’t go back.
I pulled out a knife and poked it into the mortar, and the blade disappeared when I pushed it.  The mortar was soft.
I pushed hard on the wall midway up, and it moved.  I decided it might be easier to kick at the wall, making it easier if it collapsed.
It created a hole about a foot round.  Further kicking made it bigger so that I could stoop down and climb through.  Jack went first, and I followed.
It came out into a clearing surrounded by trees.  Through the branches, I could see the forest on the other side of a paddock.
Jack once again stopped.
Jackerby and one of his men.
“I’m sure there used to be a drainage tunnel somewhere here.  Those men got into the tunnel yet?”
“Working on making a hole so they can jump down.  No long now.”
“Go back and help them.  I’ll keep an eye out here in case they find the exit.”
I heard the other man leave.

A minute passed, then two.  Then Jackerby said, “I know you’re there Sam.  I’m alone out here, and I’m on your side.”

© Charles Heath 2018


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