Captain Jennings' blood froze in his veins as the wail sounded through the still night. Several of the men moved restlessly as the terrible cry having unnerved them. Many of the soldiers looked back towards Jennings for reassurance. The captain merely motioned for them to lie back down and remain silent.
It was not long after the inhuman wail died down that the scouts hurriedly returned to the raiders. Reynolds crawled over to where Jennings hid near some underbrush.
"Sergeant, is everything alright?" Jennings asked in a worried voice.
"Yeah, cap," the sergeant answered. "Everything's deserted. The fort's gates are shut, but there aren't any Krauts to be seen."
"Do you know what made that awful noise?"
"It weren't an alarm if that is what you are worried about. It came from the other side of the clearing. Damn near turned my blood to ice," Reynolds continued.
"Okay, get the men ready we are going to the fortress."
The fortress was the product of German pride. The thick stones for the walls and the heavy steel double doors of the gate came from the "Fatherland." It was painstakingly shipped and assembled here on this hilltop. A tattered red flag with a black swastika in a white circle danced in the breeze upon a metal flagpole.
The raiders met no resistance as they entered the compound. Even when they sent some men to scale the walls in order to open the heavy gate, there was not a soul to sound an alarm. Once the gates were open, the remaining raiders spilled in and the gates quickly closed behind them.
The men milled around the compound's courtyard. Discarded paper and a sundry of debris floated along the flagstones. There were a few motorcycles, a kubelwagen and even a stout Opel Blitz truck parked in the courtyard in front of the huge manor of the fortress. The towers resting atop the wall still housed new MG42 machineguns and the searchlights used for the defense of the fortress.
The fortress obviously appeared abandoned. However, Jennings did not take any chances. Sergeant Reynolds and the bulk of the raiders would stay in the courtyard taking up defensive positions while Jennings would take the remaining men to search through the manor.
The search of the manor was relatively uneventful. The small search party did not encounter any Germans or for that matter another living soul. The men moved methodically from room to room, up and down stairs, and through hallways unmolested.
Three of the rooms caught Jennings attention. The first was the generator room. After making sure nothing was booby-trapped and that everything was in working order, Jennings gave the order to start up the gasoline generator. In a flash of brilliance, the lights of the manor came to life.
The soldiers who were used to the dark had to cover their faces until their eyes adjusted. The party left in the courtyard felt a moment of dread. They feared that the Germans had appeared from their hiding places and were now bathing the courtyard in light to locate the raiders. A friendly "hello" from a window by one of the scouts put them at ease.
The second room of interest was the armory. Strangely enough, the door was unlocked and left ajar. Though much of the stores were missing, there remained a substantial amount of weapons and munitions. The Germans evidently were prepared to defend their small island from all invaders.
The third room of interest puzzled Captain Jennings. The steel door refused to budge apparently locked from the other side. The small embrasure also resisted any attempt at opening it from this side. However, the most intriguing part about the door was the single word hastily painted upon it in crude lettering.
"Say Captain, what do you suppose ‘untoten' means?" Private Williams asked.
Jennings' German was good, however he did not ever recall coming across this word before. The captain stared at it for a while before giving up. He shook his head. "I don't really know," he replied after a long silence. "The root ‘tot' means dead."
"Ah, man. You think we found their morgue?" Quaid asked further down the hall his M-1 ready for action.
"Only one way to find out, let's get some explosive from the armory. We'll blow the door down," Jennings said leading the men back towards the armory. "Driscoll you better get to the sergeant and inform him we are going to be making some noise here."
In a matter of minutes, Jennings had expertly place the explosives. In a cloud of flame and smoke, the door flew off its hinges. As the thunder echoed down the hall, the soldiers uncovered their ears and slowly approached smoke-filled opening. The captain halted the curious men and motioned for them to have the weapons ready.
Leading the way Captain Jennings poked his head into the now open and still cloudy room with his Tommy gun ready for action. He coughed a couple of times and waved the smoke and dust away from his face with his free hand until enough of the air cleared to grant him an unobstructed view. There in the middle of what appeared to be a laboratory with cluttered tables full of jars and test tubes lay the body of a man in a lab coat.
Posted by deg at September 3, 2008 8:29 PM