1944

London

"... Just the, Qassim's forty thugs burst in, armed to the teeth and only too eager to rip poor old Sinbad to ribbon, who, I should mention, at the moment lay in bed, completely naked and unarmed, except for, well, I need'nt say it. I, myself, was in the next room, hardly any more decent, but with access to my Durrendal. So then, shedding what little attire I had on, hoping to attain a modicum of the element of surprise, I burst out and-"

"Did the paper come in, old chum?"

The tall, slim man sitting in bed with his hands behind his head sighed and rolled his eyes. He looked toward the man by the window of the army hospital room, sitting in an arm chair, his head wrapped in gauz from a recent injury that put an end to his fighting days, the Sunday newspaper in his lap.

"It did, Major Gowan. An hour ago. It's in your lap."

"Ah! Splendid!" proclaimed the major with smile as a mad glint shone in his eye.

"Anyway, as I was saying..." continued Orlando, but his tale was interrupted when the door to the room opened and a man in air force regalia walked in, bearing the insignia of a Captain.

"Aah! Bigglesworth!" said Orlando cheerfully, "Hope you remembered to bring a bottle of Amontillado."

"I'm afraid not, Orlando." said the Captain.

"A cigar, then?"

"Oh, alright." said Bigglesworth as he produced a matchbox and a cigar which he presented to his fellow aviator who went on to light it and take a strong drag of smoke.

"How are things on the front?"

"Not good. There is a war going on, after all. Hobblethwaite is missing, shot down and landed sausage side... Listen, this isn't a social call. You're needed."

"Oh? Good! Though I must admit, much as I'm eager to get back into a Spitfire, I thought the idea was for me to wait enough time so that my healthy return would arouse as little suspicion as possible."

"Well, you're not getting back into a spitfire."

This picked Orlando interest, he took a few consecutive puffs of his cigar with his eyebrows raised and then said, "Well? Dispense with the suspense, where am I needed, if not in the air?"

"I'm not really supposed to tell you..." said Bigglesworth, eying Major Gowan.

"Don't worry about him, he's harmless. Right, major?"

"When did the newspaper get in?" said the major in wonder as he lifted the copy of the Daily Brute up.

"Well, between you and me...." said Bigglesworth, and then lowered his voice as he said, "Churchill's Secret Army."

"Really?" said a bemused Orlando, "The Executive?"

"Yes. Now hurry up, the car's outside."


Next Chapter, the valiant Captain Orlando is introduced to a Sergeant of the United States Millitary.