Guten morgen! We’re up to part three of Comrade today, which is a shorter part than the other ones I’ve shared so far, but it’s exciting because the next chapter you get to meet two more very important characters 😀 Let’s go!
“First things first. Strip off those clothes.”
I stared at him, “You want me to undress, right here and now?” I demanded, heat washing over me.
Ben Simeon frowned at me. “I’ve known you ten minutes and I’m already finding you exasperating. Yes, I want you to get undressed, right here and now!”
Perhaps it wouldn’t have bothered anyone else, but it bothered me. It’s awkward stripping yourself naked in the middle of the forest, with your mortal enemy looking on.
Simeon snorted, then he dropped a bag at my feet, placed his lantern on the ground and walked away. “I promise I won’t look.” He called over his shoulder. “There’s a shirt and a pair of trousers in there. Put them on and we’ll deal with your clothes.”
Shuddering, I stripped off and put on the white shirt and worn beige trousers. Both articles were too big for my slim frame and required some wrestling to make them stay on.
“All right, you can come back,” I muttered.
Simeon reappeared, took one look at me and barked out a laugh. “You’re nothing but skin and bones, boy,” he mocked.
I blushed again. “Don’t make fun of me,” I pleaded. Shivering in the cold night air, I bent down and picked up my flying jacket.
I had got one arm into my jacket and was feeling warmer already. “Why?” My voice came out more like a whiny child’s than I wanted it to.
Exasperation flickered over Simeon’s face. “Oh, I have a brilliant plan.” He rolled his eyes. “Let’s just walk into London wearing a German flying jacket. Oh no, what do you mean, I’m not an enemy pilot at all, I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
I dropped the jacket.
“Identity discs?” Simeon held out one hand.
“Small, silver. Got your name on it.”
“Oh. Yes.” I searched around my neck, then slipped the chain containing my identity discs over my head. I clenched the chain in my hand for a moment, then I handed them to him, wondering what he wanted them for.
Simeon took and examined them, then eyed me, “Do you have anything else that identifies you as Wolfe Verick?”
I hesitated then pointed to my leather jacket. “In there is a photograph of me, it has my name on it.”
Simeon rifled through the voluminous pockets in my jacket. Finally, he found the picture of me, taken when I’d enlisted. He stuffed it, along with my discs, into his breast pocket. “All right. I’m burning your clothes. You’ll be a new man, Wolfe.”
I cast a mournful glance at my jacket and rubbed the goose bumps that prickled my arms.
“You wait here.”
I watched as Simeon strode away, my flying jacket and suit over his arm, a mixture of emotions touching me. I was grateful for the way Simeon had appeared as a gruff, sarcastic angel, but I was also annoyed by him. Very annoyed.
Fifteen minutes later he reappeared and faced me. “You need a new name. An alias. Yes?” He didn’t wait for my opinion. “Alan. Yes. Alan Bennett.”
“Bennett?” I spat out the name, my tongue twisting around its foreign sounds. “I’m German!”
I bit my tongue, unsure of how I felt about that. I changed the subject. “I hate to question you, Simeon, but how are you planning to get me back to Germany?”
“Don’t ask questions.”
“Why? Why would you do this for me?” I demanded. “Why would you do such a risky thing for me, when I’m only a German boy?”
Simeon stiffened. “I already told you. We owed you one.”
I tilted my head, watching him. That wasn’t all there was to it. It couldn’t be. I rubbed a hand over my eyes and felt my rush of adrenaline fade away, leaving me exhausted. “Ernst,” I muttered under my breath. “Ernst. The plane burnt.” I looked up and found Simeon staring at me. “Will you give him a proper burial?”
A genuine smile, pale though it was, touched Simeon’s mouth. “The boys have already seen to it.”
I smiled back, feeling more affection for this man than I had felt a moment ago. “Danke.”
“Hurry up. It’s almost dawn. I need to be back at barracks.”
“What about me?” Panic flared up in my stomach and I took a quick step toward him then cried out as I twisted my ankle.
I found myself on the ground again, sweat on my forehead as I forced back nausea.
Simeon crossed his arms and glanced down at me. “You’re going to a hotel.”
“Hotel?” I forced out between clenched teeth.
“You’ll have a bath. I’ll fix up your wounds. Don’t make a squeak or you’ll find yourself with a bullet in your head. The MPs will be turning England upside down for you by morning.” Simeon shoved his hands into his pockets and then added. “Dover tomorrow and I’ll get you some clothes.”
I couldn’t walk on my own, but Simeon assured me it was only a quarter of a mile to the nearest town. So, with his help, I hopped and staggered my way there in the most painful fashion imaginable.
He got me a room with a little trouble, told me to lay down on the bed and he pulled out a medical case, which I was sure he had not had before. As soon as I lay down, Simeon braced himself and tore off my flying boot. I screamed. I couldn’t help myself.
Then I fainted.
How are things progressing? What do you think will happen next? How’s your writing?