A story inspired by Castello di Briolio - Episode 47 - Johannesen needs to escape
For a story that was conceived during those long boring hours flying in a steel cocoon, striving to keep away the thoughts that the plane and everyone in it could just simply disappear as planes have in the past, it has come a long way.
Whilst I have always had a fascination with what happened during the second world war, not the battles or fighting, but in the more obscure events that took place, I decided to pen my own little sidebar to what was a long and bitter war.
And, so, it continues...
Johannesen went to find Wallace. He had seen Jackerby leave the castle alone, which couldn’t be a good thing. He had also noticed most of the Resistance members had gone too and had considered going back to the dungeons,
If he had been picking team members, Jackerby would not have been one of them. He might act British and speak perfect British English, but he was a Nazi at heart, perhaps more Nazi than the Nazis’
It was not unsurprising. The file Wallace had on him along with one for all of them, wasn’t exactly describing a life of roses. His grandparents were German, and the British had killed them during the first world war. There was no doubt he had based his whole life on one day avenging them, and this war had given him the opportunity.
To be a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Johannesen guessed that was an apt description of him. He was a devoted follower of Mosley and the English Fascists, openly supporting Hitler until it came to choosing a side. That was easy, become part of a fifth column, Worthing from within/
And when the Reich became the all-powerful country when they won the war, there would be a position for him, a war hero.
Losing the war hadn’t figured in the story, but despite the successes, there were more failures, and tactical errors, like trying to invade Russia, and he could see that it was going to be the reason Germany lost. Superior weapons were not going to staunch the losses, and it was only a matter of time.
Time he would use to figure out how not to get shot as a spy and somehow get back on the other side.
But, not today.
Wallace was trying a new wine, have the same thirst for wine, but not as swill as those Resistance members like Leonardo saw it, a deep coloured red.
“You should try a glass, Johannesen. It’s an exceptional vintage.” He picked up the bottle and looked at the label, then cleaning the dust off the label, said, “1907 no less. Bastards never sold any of this to us to try. We should liberate the cellar, and share it with our compatriots after the war. At a price, of course.”
Like all the soldiers he’d met along the way, always looking to make a profit. Goering and Hitler steal all the paintings, and they were talking the wine. What did the people finish up with?
“Not really a red man, sir.”
“That’s because you’ve never had one like this.”
Wallace poured him a glass.
Johannesen sipped it. Wallace was right, it was better than any other he had tasted, not that he could really remember the last time he had the opportunity.
“It is quite good, sir.”
“It is. You know Jackerby says you are a double agent, which is pretty rich coming from him. Strictly speaking, he wouldn’t be a double agent, but a triple agent, if that was the case. You’re not, are you?”
The smile on Wallace’s face didn’t extend to the eyes. He was not amused, or annoyed.
“That’s the problem with our situation. We’ve been lying to everyone for so long, it’s hard to tell what is the truth and what isn’t. At the moment, the British don't know where my allegiances lie, they think I’m the sleeper in this group, and Atherton, well, he's not sure if that’s the case or not. No doubt Jackerby told you about my trip to the dungeons to get the woman to talk. Jackerby offers the big stick and that isn’t going to work on these people. She’ll die before she gives up any secrets. They all will. And by all accounts that brute Leonardo was executing her compatriots in front of her to make her talk, and all they are is dead, and we’re no closer to anything. What do you think I am?”
“Clever. But that isn’t going to be my problem in,” he looked at his watch, “two hours. We have a new commander, and a few more people arriving to weed out this elusive Atherton and the few members of the resistance that are left. People higher than me want Meyer returned to Germany. Whatever you are, Johannesen, you might have to plead your case to someone else far less understanding.” He stood. “Enjoy the wine. It might be your last.”
Reading between the lines, Johannesen got the impression Wallace no longer cared what happened. For all of them, it had been a long war, and it was dragging on with no success in sight.
And it was becoming abundantly clear he picked the wrong side. Now, all that was going to happen was that he would end up in the crossfire. Perhaps he had known all along that the German notion that no one could ever be trusted, that everyone should be treated as a traitor first, was going to be the death of all of them.
He had no doubt the new arrivals would be Waffen SS, battle-hardened, and sent on this mission as a sort of holiday. They would find Atherton and the remnants very quickly and snuff out a problem Jackerby couldn’t.
Or, if Jackerby knew the Waffen SS was coming, had he left, knowing his loyalties would be called into question. Pure German soldiers versus double agents, Johannesen knew who’d he believe first.
For the first time, Johannesen knew he was not going to see the end of this war if he remained in that castle, or if Germany had any hope of winning. Not if the news coming out of the BBC was anything to go on, and he was more inclined to believe that rather than the propaganda Germany was telling its people and the rest of the world.
He needed a plan of escape, and that woman in the dungeons was the only one who could help him.
© Charles Heath 2022
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