A story inspired by Castello di Brolio - Episode 6

This is a story inspired by a visit to an old castle in Italy. It was, of course, written while travelling on a plane, though I'm not sure if it was from Calgary to Toronto, or New York to Vancouver.

But, there's more to come. Those were long flights...

And sadly when I read what I'd written, off the plane and in the cold hard light of dawn, there were problems, which now in the second draft, should provide the proper start.

On the way back I decided to call my enemies the holy trinity.  Jackerby, Johansson and Wallace.  It would be interesting to see who took the lead.

Back in the main hall, I was told to sit in one of the antique chairs.  No one bothered to tie me up.  No need.  Three of the guards were strategically placed so I couldn’t escape, or if I tried to attack any of my captors, I would be shot.

At first, it was Jackerby and three guards, men from the landing party looking no different than they would on any mission.  If they were English, which they were not.  No one spoke.  I guess there wasn’t much to talk about.  It is told me that Jackerby wasn’t the man in charge.

If there was a separate man in charge of the stormtroopers, he didn’t show himself.

By the time Johansson joined us, I’d deduced it was he who was in charge of this operation.  Wallace was referring to him and was not showing his face.  He was in situ, he had been left in charge of the castle, and in the ‘end of war’ scenario, using it as a staging point for filtering enemy scientists and experts who were leaving quickly before the war ended, making sure they found their way to the allied side.

Of course, since he had taken up residence, those people fleeing the war had dried up to a trickle, and it was now understandable why.  Now that it was clear to me he was working for the Germans, he just wasn’t letting them all go.  If they were going to lose the war, then the victors would only get some of the spoils.

The question was what was happening to everyone else who didn’t make it.

Back in London, someone realised something was going terribly wrong, and so they sent me.
Someone else had said there might be a nest of traitors; another described them as double agents, on both sides of the channel.

My job was to find out what was happening, and now I had.  The possibility that I might get killed in the process had been flagged as a risk, but that hadn’t been a deterrent.  I had visited the castle before the war as an archaeological exercise and had been keen to come back and take another look.

Unfortunately, I had not had time to file a report, but up till now it would not be much, and given my current circumstances, I might not be able to inform them, but at least I knew the investigators in London were right.

And it looked like it was true Johansson had friends in London because my arrival had been telegraphed.  One attempt to blow me up, and now, nothing less than a dozen enemy storm troopers to make sure I didn’t leave.

“London finally realise what’s going on here?”

“In a manner of speaking.  They weren’t sure, but I guess we now have proof.”

“You have circumstantial proof, but basically nothing actionable.  They really have nothing, and won’t until you return, or report, neither of which you are going to be able to do for a while.  Not until we finish here what we started.”

I was tempted to ask what that was but knew better.  Another day.

I glared at him.  “Why?”

“I assume you are referring to myself being a double agent?  I was caught up in London just as the war broke out.  There was no question what side I was going to be on, it just meant getting into a good position, and then using it for the good of my country.  There’s quite a few of us, actually.”
I didn’t doubt that.

“So you let quite a few through to set up your credentials, and now, in the dying stages of the battle, when the real experts are trying to leave, you’re preventing them.”

“Not the best solution to a problem.  I’m sure, if you were standing here and losing the war, you’d be doing the same.  You’d hardly want those secrets in enemy hands.”

“The war’s over.  It’s just a matter of time.”

“This one, maybe.  The next one we’ll win.”

I admired his confidence.  It also explained the syphoning of boffins.  They may have missed their opportunity in this war, but regroup somewhere and prepare, who knows what might happen in another ten years time.

No one in London had come up with this sort of doomsday scenario.  We knew what they were capable of, more sophisticated air force with jet fighters, far more deadly and wide sweeping bombs, by some sort of miracle we’d stopped them this time, but the next?

 “What happens now?”

“You behave, you’ll live to fight another day.  You make trouble, we’ll execute you.  To me, you’re just another prisoner of war, but I’m not sending you to Germany.”

Simple choice.

“Why should I believe you?”

“I am an officer of the army, who serves his country with pride and honour.  You have my word; that should be enough.”

Oddly enough, I believed him.

“I assume my accommodation awaits?”

A flick of his hand, and Jackerby and two guards, escorted me out of the room.

I had thought surrender was going to be a lot more difficult than that.

© Charles Heath 2019


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