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By Marcus L. Rowland
It was the uneasy period between the invasion of Poland and Pearl Harbour. Britain and most of Europe was at war, America was nominally at peace, although American-built Lend-Lease ships, many of them with American crews, were already ferrying arms, fuel and military equipment to Britain. All too often they were sunk before they got there. So often, in fact, that the only plausible explanation was enemy action.
Officially America was neutral and at peace, and Britain could do nothing about the threat on American soil. Unofficially...
It would be tedious to recount every stage of the voyage of discovery that led Simon Templar to Los Angeles in the guise of Sheridan Thorpe, Bostonian antiquarian. It was one of the Saint's many aliases, and one that was still more or less unknown to the world. Dressed and acting the part, with his hair dyed mousy brown and some minor cosmetic attention, he was virtually unrecognisable as he stepped off the train from San Francisco and got a taxi to his hotel, the Hyperion. He was interested in one of the residents, and once he was there he settled in to watch and wait.
Although the hotel was modern and reasonably comfortable, something about the Hyperion raised the Saint's hackles from the moment he arrived. An odd feeling of a brooding presence, uneasiness and mistrust. He had learned to trust his instincts, but couldn't find any obvious cause for his disquiet.
The object of his interest was Kurt Manfred, self-styled occultist and once a leading light of the German Bund, who had distanced himself from the pro-Nazi organisation a year before the war. The Saint's sources suggested that Manfred was still committed to the cause, and had only left it on the orders of his Nazi masters. He seemed to have ample funds and leased a suite in the hotel, with at least three henchmen in constant attendance. He also had numerous contacts in the dockyards of Los Angeles and San Francisco; workers who had access to many of the ships lost since the outbreak of the war. The FBI and British Intelligence suspected sabotage, but there was no evidence.
The Saint considered killing Manfred immediately, but his conscience wanted some proof of his crimes; even in his outlaw days as self-appointed judge, jury, and executioner of the ungodly he had tried to avoid mistakes. In any case it would be pointless if he didn't learn how the sabotage worked.
Contacts on the wrong side of the law gave Simon another tidbit of information, and the beginnings of a plan. Manfred was known to buy antiques related to the occult and rarely asked questions about their sources.
On the third day in Los Angeles the Saint made his move. Via one of Manfred's most trusted contacts a certain Doctor Jones was offering a copy of a rare occult manuscript, the Necronomicon. He finally agreed to meet Manfred and allow the book to be inspected, at a university library more than an hour away from the Hyperion.
At two that afternoon "Thorpe" went out. By three he was back, in another disguise, and in a position to see anyone entering or leaving the hotel. Twenty minutes later Manfred left with his men; as far as Simon could tell his suite should be empty. He waited a few minutes to be sure they weren't coming back, then a casual stroll took him across the lobby to the elevator and the floor above Manfred's suite. He walked down the fire stairs, pulling on thin kid gloves, and waited until a bellhop in a crumpled suit had disappeared from view. That done he listened at the suite door for a few moments, heard nothing, and made easy work of picking the lock.
It took the Saint several minutes to realise that there was something odd about the suite, apart from the books describing magic, demons, ghosts, and werewolves, the mind-numbingly awful occult statuettes that filled several shelves, and the crossbows he'd found in Manfred's desk and three other drawers around the suite. There was some missing space, about ten by fifteen feet, bounded on three sides by other rooms and on the fourth by the outer wall of the hotel. He wondered why, then guessed that there might be machinery there, something to do with plumbing, ventilation, or the heating system. Even so, it was strange that there didn't seem to be any way in. Eventually he found the answer, a bookshelf near Manfred's desk that swung out on hinges to reveal a steel door, bolted and padlocked shut and marked "DANGER 2200 VOLTS - KEEP OUT".
There was something about the sign that was almost irresistible to the Saint. He could have no more left without opening the door than he could have flown, especially when he noticed signs of frequent recent use on the bolts and padlock. It took him less than a minute to pick the lock.
The room inside was small, dark, and warm. Simon carefully felt around the door frame and found a light switch. Inside, at one end of the room there were junction boxes, pipes, and cables. Next to them another desk, bearing a powerful radio transmitter and rolled-up charts. Above it was a framed portrait of Hitler, glowering darkly over the room, next to it a modern-looking safe. And at the other end of the room was the bed, and the girl...
She was medium height, dark-haired, pale-skinned and beautiful, wearing a simple white cotton nightdress. She was handcuffed, with her hands behind her back and the cuffs linked to the wall by a heavy steel chain, and gagged with a thick leather strap. Her ankles were also shackled to the bed. She watched Simon warily, retreating against the wall as he moved towards her.
"Don't worry, old thing," said the Saint quietly, "I'm here to help you. Turn round a little and I'll get the gag off, then I'll pick the locks and have you out of here in two ticks."
She turned warily, and Simon quickly unbuckled the strap. "Who are you?" asked the girl muzzily. She had an odd voice, a British accent with some sort of country overlay he couldn't quite place.
"My name's Templar, Simon Templar." For some reason he didn't think of lying. "Some people call me the Saint." He set to work on the handcuffs.
"Never met a saint before," she said. "used to know an angel, but he went away."
The lock was tricky, unusually so, and one of the picks snapped as he worked on it. "Might take a little longer than I thought," he said, "Meanwhile, tell me about yourself."
"The bad men took me away from my lovely William. He'll be waiting for us, waiting for Dru and Edith."
"You're Edith?" asked the Saint, trying another pick.
"Don't be silly, Miss Edith's on the bed." Simon looked around, and noticed an old china doll. "I'm Drusilla."
The handcuffs clicked open, and he set to work on the shackles, saying "Why are they keeping you here?"
"Want me to say where the ships are going. Shows me pictures, I can see them, see the pictures in my head, show the nasty man on the map. He talks to the iron wolves, and down go the ships and the sailors drown." She giggled, and with a chill he realised that she was drugged or insane.
"You see pictures in your head? A psychic?" It seemed impossible, but it was the only explanation that made any sense of her story and presence in the room. The lock clicked open. "Do you have shoes somewhere?"
"Took my shoes, took me from my William." She swayed unsteadily to her feet, and Simon held out his arm. "You're a gentleman. Miss Edith, the nice gentleman wants to take us for a walk." She put her arm through his, somehow running her fingers exactly along the eight-inch bullet scar on his arm and feeling the sheathed knife next to it, and picked up the doll with the other hand. "You're a killer," she said, without surprise or fear, but with total certainty, "always did like that in a gentleman."
Together they walked out of the room. Simultaneously the door separating the office from the rest of the suite opened, and Manfred came in, a revolver in his hand, shouting "She's out! Get in here, men!"
"Well, well, well," said the Saint, gently releasing his arm from Drusilla's and stepping in front of her, "If it isn't uncle Kurt and his playmates. Keep up the noise and your neighbours are going to notice, you know." He casually pulled out his cigarette case and selected one, without lighting it. "Fire that gun, and they certainly will."
"Herr William, you must think we are all fools." Two of Manfred's bruisers came in behind him, carrying crossbows. "My men are highly trained, and a crossbow is almost silent."
"Herr William?" drawleded Simon curiously.
"You are here, and she has not killed you. You are herr William. William the Bloody."
Behind him he could hear Drusilla starting to giggle, very softly.
"Never met the gentleman."
"This suite has magical protection, did you really think I wouldn't know if it was entered?"
"Never crossed my mind, old thing," said the Saint, playing for time and wondering what had happened to the third goon.
"Now you will tell me how you entered without an invitation."
"Did I really need to be invited?" asked the Saint, genuinely puzzled.
"Yes! This suite is my home, you needed an invitation, and I have performed the ritual to revoke all invitations."
"But here I am. Puzzling, isn't it." He snapped the case closed and used the lighter at one end, then casually put it back in his pocket. As he did so he flicked the cigarette towards Manfred. It exploded in mid-air, a bright flare that left Manfred and his goons temporarily blinded. Simultaneously the Saint drew his gun and pushed Drusilla behind the heavy mahogany desk and down to the floor, hoping that it would cover her, then dove to one side as one of the goons fired his crossbow wildly. The Saint's automatic fired once, twice, killing one of the goons, then jammed on the third shot. Without hesitation he dropped it and drew his knife, throwing it at Manfred's heart. It struck something metallic and bounced off.
Manfred fired his gun again, the bullet hitting the floor an inch from the Saint's foot, and said "And now we stop playing games. These are silver bullets." Without lowering his gun Manfred pulled an ornate gold watch from his pocket, shrugged, and dropped it back again. "Herr William, you have lost. This room has excellent soundproofing, and if anyone was going to sound the alarm it would have happened by now. You live so long as you satisfy my curiosity. How did you get in without an invitation?"
"Easy, you wanker," said a voice from the doorway, another English accent. "You just shouted 'Get in here' with the door open." Standing there was the bellhop Simon had seen earlier, his arm locked around the third goon's throat. "Nice of you to invite me, I was wondering how I was going to get to my girl." He twisted the goon's head with his other hand, breaking his neck without apparent effort, and dropped him to the floor.
"Get back!" shouted Manfred. "These are silver bullets!"
"Are they indeed?" said the bellhop, walking towards him with a smile.
"Get back," shouted Manfred, and fired the rest of the clip at him.
The bellhop staggered but remained standing. "That was bloody painful, you ignorant tosser. Everyone knows that silver is for werewolves." Manfred screamed as the bellhop's face twisted into a hideous fanged mask, and he lunged at Manfred's throat.
Unnoticed the other goon had reloaded his crossbow. As Simon watched Manfred die, in fascinated horror, he fired. A white hand plucked the crossbow bolt from the air a few inches from Simon's chest, and Drusilla handed it to him with a smile. "My turn now," she said and leaped for the goon, her face changing as she reached him.
The bellhop, William, looked up from the corpse, blood dripping from his fangs. He had glowing yellow eyes. "What about that one, pet?"
Drusilla looked up from the body he was draining. "Leave him, William, he's a hero and a gentleman and a saint. He rescued me for you. The stars say he lives. Miss Edith wants him to live." She returned to her meal.
"Does she indeed?" His face twisted back to handsome youthful features as he dropped the drained corpse to the floor. "Wouldn't want to upset Miss Edith or the stars, now would we," he said indulgently. "You planning to tell anyone about this, hero?"
"Who'd believe it?" said the Saint, shakily lighting a real cigarette. "Besides, I just killed someone myself."
"Fair enough. Got another of those?"
"Here. Not the ones on the left, they're booby-trapped. Mind if I ask..."
"Vampires, of course, what did you think?"
"Got a name, hero?"
"Templar. Simon Templar."
"Oh, I've heard of you. She said you were a saint, should have guessed. So what were you doing with Manfred the amateur warlock?"
"He's been tipping off the Nazis on the movement of British ships. Apparently your friend told him where they were..."
"Drusilla, you've been a naughty girl again, haven't you."
"Wouldn't give me blood unless I told him," she said sulkily, finishing with her victim.
"You could have lied, you daft cow. Never mind, not the end of the world. Let's go, pet, we've a lot to do before morning."
"In a moment."
She left the body and stood in front of Simon, swaying slightly and humming a tune he couldn't quite catch. He began to feel oddly drowsy...
* * * * *
The Saint picked himself from the floor, and tried to remember how he came to be there. There'd been a girl, and a fight, he remembered that much, and the bodies were there to tell him he'd won. As for the girl... gone, must have escaped during the fight. He tried to remember her face, then frowned as he realised he couldn't. Must have been hit on the head...
Never mind, there were more important things to do. He set about gathering up his gun, knife, and cartridge cases, and rearranging the scene to make it look like they'd died fighting each other. He still didn't know exactly how they'd been sinking the ships, but with all of the evidence in the back room the FBI should be able to work it out. His alibi for the evening was already prepared, and with luck nobody would pay attention to him anyway. He called in an anonymous tip to the police then went down to his room, a stiff drink, and a good night's sleep.
Note On The Saint
This was previously a separate chapter but has been added to the story to comply with fanfiction.net's rules:
've had a lot of feedback on this story, mostly from people who are unfamiliar with the Saint books or unaware that the character existed before the recent film, and wanted to know more. Here's a little history:
Leslie Charteris (1907-1993) was born as Leslie Charteris Bowyer Yin in Singapore, and in 1928 changed his name to Leslie Charteris. He moved to the USA in the late 30s or early 40s, and became a US citizen in 1946.
The first Saint novel (Charteris' third, after two flops) was Meet The Tiger (aka The Saint Meets The Tiger), published in 1928. After that Charteris wrote at least a hundred novels and stories about the character, including several with supernatural or SF-related themes, although from the mid 1960s onward most if not all of these stories were ghost-written or rewrites of TV scripts by other authors.
The early Saint was known as "The Robin Hood of Modern Crime," a professional criminal who robbed other criminals and gave the money to charity, less expenses and 10% for himself. His methods included outright robbery, fraud, and extortion, and he was soon one of the most wanted men in Britain. He also had a habit of killing drug dealers, white slave traders, and other "dirty" criminals who came his way, methods ranging from bare hands, knives, and guns to remote controlled bombs. Templar's main alias was the Saint, but he used many others, the most common being Sebastian Tombs. He usually signed messages with a picture of a stick-figure man with a halo over his head.
The Saint's standard equipment included a cigarette case containing smoke and flash bombs as well as genuine cigarettes, with a concealed razor-sharp edge for cutting through ropes, the throwing knives Anna and Belle, and a variety of hand guns. He was expert with all these weapons and with several forms of unarmed combat, and a skilled escapologist, pickpocket, card sharp, locksmith, pilot, driver, actor and, of course, thief. His personality seemed similar to that of Bertie Wooster or Lord Peter Wimsey, but his apparent light-heartedness concealed a razor-sharp mind with a talent for crime.
Eventually Templar was suspected of being the Saint, and finally unmasked while saving a policeman's life. He then went on the run, briefly visited Europe on the trail of foreign agents, and returned to Britain to uncover a plot to assassinate the King and start a war. As a result he was pardoned of all crimes. After this his criminal career continued, but he had to take much more care to avoid arrest. During this phase of his career he visited most of Europe and the USA.
During WW2 the Saint was active as a British agent in the USA, thwarting numerous enemy plots. After the war his career was global, and stories were set in Britain, Europe, the Far East and the USA.
Associates of the early Saint included his girlfriend (and later mistress) Patricia Holm, 'Orace his servant, American gangster Hoppy Uniatz, and several friends, at least one of whom, Norman Kent, died heroically during one of his adventures. His main nemesis in this period was Chief Inspector Claude Eustace Teal, but he also had a long feud with Rayt Marius, an arms merchant responsible for the plot against the King.
The WW2 Saint mostly worked alone or with Hoppy Uniatz and (rarely) Patricia Holm. His main official contacts were Inspector Fernack of the New York Police Department and "Hamilton", an official in an (unspecified) US intelligence organisation.
After WW2 the Saint had numerous girlfriends but no permanent relationships. He tended to work more on the side of the law, although he never entirely gave up his habit of murdering people he particularly disliked.
There have been numerous films about the Saint, from 1938 onwards, with TV series starring Roger Moore (1963-68) and Ian Ogilvie (1978). The most recent film is probably the least true to the original character.