Thought I'd try my hand at something more suspenseful. This is actually the first story idea I came up with last spring. Hope you like it!
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the Hogan's Heroes characters. Friedrich Wagner is my own creation, and any resemblance he may have to anyone, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
He sat at his desk; absently drumming his fingers on the report he had just received from headquarters. He knew he was going to get called to task for this; ordered to stand in front of his superiors, told to explain something that he had no explanation for. And what would they do to him? Demote him? Send him to the Russian Front?
How? Friedrich Wagner, Gestapo Captain, thought to himself for the umpteenth time. How could the Allies have gotten their hands on the information I was carrying?
Suddenly he balled his hand into a fist and slammed it down on the desk with a loud "Thwack!" It's impossible! I had those papers in a briefcase chained to my wrist! The only time they left my side was at Stalag Thirteen; but I put them in the Kommandant's safe myself!
He thought back to his trip two weeks ago, when he had been travelling from Berlin to Dusseldorf; a courier for the top brass, the information in his possession classified Top Secret. He didn't know what was contained in the briefcase anchored to his wrist, but he knew he was to guard it with his life.
On his way across the country, it started to snow; and then, almost instantly, a storm descended upon him; making his trip more and more difficult. As the sun set and the dim light receded, the storm broke out into a full-blown blizzard. He couldn't see twenty feet in front of him, and was trying desperately to figure out what to do, when he noticed a prison camp just up ahead. Gratefully, he turned in, and after the guards let him through, he headed for the main office.
Once inside, he found himself face-to-face with a Luftwaffe Colonel named Klink; a rather nervous fellow, but more than willing to accommodate him. He was told that the Gestapo was always welcome, and that he could use the guest quarters for the night, which he thankfully accepted. He had suddenly realized that the briefcase was still attached to his wrist, and became uncomfortable at the thought of sleeping without being able to keep his eyes on it, when Colonel Klink suggested he keep it in his office safe for the night. Wagner had acquiesced, and after the Kommandant opened the safe, he unlocked the handcuff from his wrist, and placed the entire thing inside. He watched as the Colonel closed and locked it, and then headed off to the guest quarters, a Sergeant Schultz showing him the way.
When he woke up, the storm had passed. He got up, dressed quickly, and headed to Colonel Klink's office to retrieve his briefcase. The Colonel opened the safe for him, and he saw that the case was in there, exactly as he'd left it the night before. He removed it from the safe and chained it to his wrist once more. Then he left; getting into his car and heading for Dusseldorf.
The rest of the trip was uneventful. He had arrived in Dusseldorf just in time to deliver the information to the high-ranking Generals that were holding a secret meeting there. With his mission accomplished, he had grabbed a bite to eat and rested up for a bit, before getting in his car and driving back to Berlin.
And then today he had received the report that was now sandwiched between his fist and the top of his desk; staring up at him accusingly, and he knew he was in very serious trouble.
According to the report, they'd had a ship in Norway that was carrying German atomic research material, and the information contained in the briefcase he'd been transporting revealed not only the location of the ship, but a detailed list of what was on board. The Allies had apparently obtained that information, because two days ago, the ship had been sunk by British and Norwegian commandos. (1)
And they were blaming him!
It's not possible! He thought, yet again. No one could have seen what was in that briefcase; not while I was carrying it, anyway. And then it dawned on him; could someone have gotten into Colonel Klink's safe, and made a copy? But that would be the work of a spy, and Stalag Thirteen was a prison camp! Certainly none of the prisoners could be responsible; which left the Kommandant himself.
I wonder… could Colonel Klink be a spy? He mulled it over briefly, and then dismissed the idea. No, he doesn't have the temperament for it. He was contemplating, trying to remember something; something that he'd heard from Major Hochstetter at one of those dreadful excuses for a party that the Gestapo periodically threw; something about a Stalag, and suspicious activity occurring there. Was it Stalag Thirteen? It did sound familiar, come to think of it. Well, there was one way to find out. He picked up the phone and called the Major's office.
"Ja, this is Major Hochstetter speaking," a familiar gruff voice stated through the receiver.
"This is Captain Wagner, Herr Major," he said, "I am…reorganizing a number of files here at Berlin Headquarters, and I need some information from you regarding Stalag Thirteen."
"Why, has something happened?" Hochstetter asked suspiciously.
"Not at all, Herr Major," he coolly responded. I am simply verifying the accuracy of our records. Now, if you could tell me what you have reported so far about the activities going on there; I just need to check it against our files here."
"You want to know what's been going on at Stalag Thirteen?" Hochstetter exclaimed heatedly, "I'll tell you what's going on there!"
As he listened to Hochstetter go over every incident, real or imagined, that he had presumably witnessed there, an idea began to form in his brain, and he slowly smiled.
"Aw, c'mon Schultzie, how much longer do we 'ave to bleedin' stand 'ere?" Newkirk asked loudly, shifting from one foot to the other.
"Yeah, Schultz," Carter piped up from the back row, "I'm freezing!"
"Oui, me too!" LeBeau added, practically jumping up and down in an effort to keep warm.
Schultz looked at them guiltily. "I'm sorry, but you have to wait for the Kommandant to dismiss you," he said, with more than a little sympathy.
"But we didn't even get to finish our dinner!" LeBeau exclaimed, "Why did Klink have to have a roll call now, anyway?"
"I don't know, cockroach," Schultz answered, "I only know that he wanted you all out here right away."
"But we're all 'ere, aren't we, Schultzie?" Newkirk informed him; hugging himself, rubbing his hands up and down his upper arms. "Why don't you tell the Kommandant that, and let us go back into the barracks to thaw out?"
Just then Colonel Klink came out of his office, and walked swiftly to where the prisoners were lined up. "Report, Schultz!" He shouted, obviously in a hurry.
Schultz turned to Klink and saluted. "Kommandant," he stated, "All prisoners are present and accounted for."
"Very well," Klink replied, visibly shivering, "Dismissed…"
The word had barely left his lips when they all heard a car approaching from the gate. Every head turned as one, watching it roll up to the front of Klink's office and stop. The driver's side opened, and out stepped a Gestapo Captain, who immediately looked in their direction.
Klink shot a quick glance at Colonel Hogan, who had been quietly standing in his usual spot, and repeated irritably, "Dismissed!" He turned around and headed for his office, wondering what else he was going to have to endure before the day was over.
As the men returned to the barracks, Hogan ushered the four that worked directly under him into his office. Kinch went straight for the coffee pot, plugging it in so they could listen to Klink's office. The rest of them circled around, waiting to hear what a Gestapo Captain was doing there at this time of night.
"…And I was hoping that you wouldn't mind putting me up for the night; just one more time?" They heard a familiar voice say.
"Not at all, Captain Wagner!" Klink exclaimed nervously. "In fact, I see you have another briefcase with you; would you like to keep it in my safe overnight?"
"That's very kind of you, Colonel Klink," Wagner responded. "I would appreciate that very much."
"Hey," Carter said to the group, "Isn't that the Captain who showed up here two weeks ago, during that big snow storm?"
"Yeah," Kinch answered, recognizing the voice, "We got some pretty valuable information from him last time, didn't we, Colonel?"
"Yes we did, Kinch," Hogan replied, "And it looks like he's leaving some more goodies for us in the safe tonight. Newkirk?" He said, turning to look at his English Corporal, "You think you could slip over to Klink's office later, and find out what the Captain is carrying with him?"
Newkirk smiled. "No problem, sir. Klink's safe and I; well, we've got an understandin' between us, you know?" He gave Hogan a wink.
Hogan smiled back. "I know, Newkirk. That's why I keep you around!"
Later that night, when the camp was quiet, and everyone appeared to be fast asleep, Newkirk crept out of the barracks and moved stealthily toward Klink's office. He waited until the searchlights had swung the other way, having their pattern memorized a long time ago, and quickly unlocked the outside door. He slipped in unnoticed, closing the door behind him. Then he snuck quietly into Klink's inner office, and moved over to the safe against the wall to his left.
He put his ear to the front of the safe, and spun the dial. "It's just me again," he whispered, "You remember ol' Peter Newkirk, don't you? Now, you just hold still; this won't hurt a bit…"
He turned the dial, concentrating on hearing the tumblers inside. A faint sound reached his ear, and he stopped and turned the dial the other way, listening intently. After another quiet click, he turned the knob back. Finally he heard last tumbler fall into place, and grabbed the latch, swinging open the door to the safe. Smiling, he grabbed the briefcase nestled inside, and stood up; then walked over to Klink's desk, depositing his prize on top of it. He opened the case easily, using his lock picks, and pulled out the papers contained within; spreading them out on the desk. In his coat pocket was a small camera, which he now extracted to take pictures of the information that lay before him.
Suddenly the door leading to Klink's quarters flew open. Newkirk whirled around, and his heart instantly sank into his stomach. There stood Captain Wagner, holding a pistol aimed directly at his chest.
Wagner looked at him furiously. "So, you're the reason that I'm in all this trouble!"
(1) This incident actually happened on February 20th, 1944; at least, according to my WWII calendar. The circumstances leading up to it; however, were entirely made up by me.