Author's Note: The characters aren't mine, but the story is! I know I said that I was probably never going to feel confident enough to write a war-era fic, but irony works in mysterious ways, and after reading that the full moon did indeed fall on Halloween in 1944, this fic idea lodged into my mind and refused to leave, so I went with it. The Danse Macabre/jamboree joke must be credited to LuckyLadybug, and thanks to Kim for catching that Schultz would say "Kommandant" instead of "Commandant."
"Roll call!" Schultz's voice boomed through the area. "Everybody out for roll call!"
The occupants of Barracks Two were already awake before Schultz had even sounded the call that morning on Halloween. Hogan and his Heroes were all staring at one of their number, who was refusing to get out of his bunk.
"Newkirk, are you sure about this?" asked Carter, as the Englishman continued to lay there.
"There's no turning back now," said Hogan, with a sigh. "Oscar Schnitzer already gave the special delivery to us, and we need to get those underground agents we snuck into the rec hall to London before Hochstetter gets wise to the fact that they're here." Deep down, he was worried that Hochstetter was suspecting that already and was on his way here. Scares were to be expected on Halloween, but this was one that Hogan could do without. He glanced at Newkirk. "This had better work."
"Oh, sure; put it all on me," said Newkirk. "I didn't even intend for it to go this far; if I 'ad me way, it would be over and done with before they knew what 'ad 'appened. You were the one who decided to--"
"Alright; Schultz is getting antsy," sighed Hogan. "Carter, LeBeau, you stay with Newkirk." He led the other men in the barracks outside as Schultz counted them up and frowned as he realized that three were missing.
"Colonel Hogan," he said, nervousness creeping into his voice. "There are three men missing."
"You don't have to worry about them trying to escape," Hogan assured him, putting on a worried expression of his own. "Poor Newkirk isn't in any condition to go anywhere. LeBeau and Carter are looking after him, but it doesn't look like it'll do much good."
Schultz looked shocked. "Newkirk is ill!?" Concern was in his voice; the men of Barracks Two were, in effect, his best friends, in spite of him being on the side against them.
"No, not exactly," said Hogan. "He seems to have inherited a unique condition from his father that seems inescapable."
"If he can get through today, he'll be fine," said Kinch. "But he's not doing too well."
"A unique condition, you say?" Schultz asked. "Should I send for the doctor?"
"More like a family curse," said Baker, with a convincing shudder. "A doctor won't be able to help in a case like this."
"Ohh, I must go and see how he is!" Schultz gasped, going inside.
Newkirk was lying in his bunk, his eyes following Schultz as he entered. LeBeau and Carter were by his side.
"'Allo, Schultzie," he said quietly, with a weak smile.
"Newkirk, what is wrong, Mein Freund?" Schultz asked, also softly. He took note that the Englishman's face looked as though he hadn't shaven in days—which made no sense, as he had been perfectly clean-shaven the day before.
"Oh, it's just rotten luck on me, Schultzie," Newkirk said, wincing. "The odds of it 'appening to me were one in thirty-one; who'd 'ave thought it'd actually 'appen?"
"What has happened? I don't understand," said Schultz. "Colonel Hogan said that it was something to do with your father."
"Yeah," said Newkirk, as LeBeau began to utter a French prayer, holding onto his friend's wrist. "I… I didn't want to tell anyone this, Schultzie, but me dad was the Werewolf of London."
"I thought that was a film," Schultz said, puzzled and stunned.
"I wish it were only a film," Newkirk replied, ruefully. "But it was based on a true story—me dad's. And as 'is son, I was fortunate; the curse didn't make me change every month. But Mum warned me, she did. 'Peter,' she said. 'Peter, you and Mavis need to be wary. Should the full moon ever fall on 'Alloween, you will fall, for one night, to the same curse what plagued your father!' And 'ere it's 'Alloween, and a full moon, and look at me," Newkirk groaned, pulling his arms from within the bedsheets to show how much hair had grown on them overnight. "And look at me face! This is fur, this is!"
"Newkirk, you can't give in like this!" Carter exclaimed, as Shultz stared, horrified. "Just because your dad was a werewolf, it doesn't mean that you have to be, too!"
"Oui, Pierre," said LeBeau. "You must concentrate on your will to remain human! Perhaps some breakfast will make you feel better; what can I make for you?"
A wild expression suddenly crossed Newkirk's face, and with a wolf-like snarl, he grabbed LeBeau by the red scarf he always wore and pulled the Frenchman towards him.
"Meat!" he snarled. "I want meat! Fetch me some fresh meat—bring me that chicken you keep to give you eggs for your baking!"
"Pierre, non!" LeBeau cried, gripping at Newkirk's wrists. "Let me go, Pierre, please!"
"Stop it, Newkirk!" Carter cried. He turned his head towards the door. "Colonel Hogan! Help!"
Hogan, Kinch, and Baker rushed in as Newkirk's eyes suddenly widened in shock and horror, and he released the scarf. LeBeau was shaken, but unharmed.
"Oh, Louis," Newkirk said, quietly. "I'm so sorry."
LeBeau blinked back a tear of worry and sympathy.
"Mon pauvre ami," he said, softly. "I will help you through this; I won't leave your side! I will see to it that you remain human!"
"Newkirk, is there anything I can do!?" Schultz asked, now horrified.
The Englishman looked to the Sergeant. "Yeah, there is," he said. "It's known that werewolves attack those closest to them—the ones they care for the most." He clenched a fist. "I don't want me best mates getting hurt—or worse—because of me. If the worst should happen, Schultzie, I… I think you should get some wolfsbane for the barracks—and get yourself a requisition for a silver bullet for your rifle, just in case."
"Ohh!" Schultz gasped again. He bolted out the door.
"He's heading straight for Klink's office," Kinch announced.
"Blimey," Newkirk said, sitting up on his bunk with a grin. "Did you see the look on 'is face? I almost feel bad for tricking 'im like that!"
"Did you have to pull my scarf so hard?" LeBeau asked, with a frown. "That wasn't the way we rehearsed it!"
"Oh, details," said Newkirk. "I 'ad to make it look convincing. You didn't do too bad an acting job yourself, LeBeau."
"Merci," he replied.
"So what's phase two of plan, Colonel?" asked Baker.
"Knowing Klink, he's going to want to check out the situation for himself," said Hogan. "So Newkirk had better stay right there until he does." He smirked. "I think sometime in the afternoon, we can start phase two. And when the moon rises, phase three. With any luck, we'll have those men off to London before the night is over."
"I still think we should have gone with my idea," said LeBeau, folding his arms. "A diversion based on the Danse Macabre would have been even more frightening. No one would dare go near what looked like the dancing dead."
"Gee, I don't know," said Carter. "The way you described it, it sounded like a bunch of zombies throwing a jamboree."
"That'd never catch on," Newkirk said, unimpressed.
Schultz, in the meantime, had run all the way to Klink's office to tell him the news. Klink studied the sergeant through his monocle, his expression deadpan.
"Tell me again Schultz," he said. "Why do you want to go into town?"
"It's C-C-Corporal Newkirk, Kommandant," the Sergeant stammered. "He's turning into a werewolf! He asked me to get some wolfsbane to protect the other men in the barracks, so I thought I would see if a flower shop in town might have some! He also asked that I get a requisition for a silver bullet, but I don't want to resort to that!"
"Schultz, get a hold of yourself!" Klink scolded. "There is no possible way that Newkirk would transform today when he's been perfectly human during his entire stay here!"
"His father is the Werewolf of London, Kommandant," Schultz said. He proceeded to explain what Newkirk had told him.
"Incredible," Klink muttered. "Unbelievable. Schultz, I think those men in Barracks Two are playing games with you."
"But, Kommandant! I saw Corporal Newkirk—he has fur on his arms and face!"
"Schultz, that is all. Dismissed."
Schultz retreated, wondering what on earth he was going to say to Newkirk the next time he saw him.
Klink, on the other hand, waited until Schultz had gone before donning his coat and hat, heading over to Barracks Two himself.
"Here he comes," Baker murmured after watching Schultz flee from the office just moments ago.
"I knew it," said Hogan. "Newkirk, here's where we see how good your acting really is."
"Right-o," the Englishman said. He pretended to be asleep as Klink opened the door.
"At ease," Klink said, as the men snapped to attention. He scanned the barracks, looking for Newkirk, and he blinked as LeBeau was gently wiping the Englishman's forehead with a damp cloth. "Schultz tells me that Corporal Newkirk is a little under the weather."
"Oh, if it were only that," said Hogan, with a heavy sigh. "Did Schultz tell you exactly what was wrong?"
"He did, but I find it difficult to believe," Klink replied, leaning over the bunk.
Newkirk's nose twitched like a dog, and he snarled in his "sleep."
"I'd stay back if I were you, Sir," said Hogan, pulling Klink away from Newkirk. "He already attacked LeBeau earlier; if he'd do that to a friend, there's no telling what he'd do to you."
"I just don't know what we're going to do with him," said Kinch, with a shake of his head.
"Well, we could always let him hang out with the dogs tonight," offered Carter.
"This is not a matter to be taken lightly!" LeBeau exclaimed, getting to his feet. "Poor Pierre has enough to worry about without us abandoning him to his unfortunate family curse! I swore I would not leave his side, and I am a man of my word!"
"Ohhh," Newkirk groaned, pretending to come awake. "Oh, me aching 'ead…"
"Newkirk!" Klink said, sternly.
Newkirk winced, as though the light was striking his eyes for the first time since he was asleep.
"Newkirk, what is the meaning of this?" Klink demanded, indicating the corporal's unshaven face.
"I can't 'elp it, Sir," Newkirk said, weakly. "I've been tossing and turning since midnight, and all this fur started growing."
"Look at you, mon ami, you are so weak," LeBeau said, sadly. "If you have any hopes of beating the curse, you must remain strong." He offered him a plate with a croissant on it. "Please eat."
"I told you, I wanted meat!" Newkirk said, bitterly.
LeBeau flinched. "It's too risky to give you meat; and where would we get it from, anyway? Please, Pierre, eat this."
Newkirk glared at the croissant for a moment, but suddenly seized it, tearing into it like a wild animal.
Klink recoiled. "Hogan, you must put a stop to this!"
Hogan could only offer a helpless shrug. "My training didn't include 'How to Stop a Werewolf from Transforming,' surprisingly. Schultz said he'd get some wolfsbane; hopefully, that might help Newkirk if he gets it in time." He glanced at Klink. "…Unless you refused to send him because you didn't believe it."
Klink took a look at the American colonel and ran to the barracks door. "Schultz! Go to Hammelburg and get some wolfsbane! And get some extra for my office!"
Carter buried his face in his hands—he was too close to cracking up, and from this angle, his shaking shoulders looked like suppressed sobs.
"Pull yourself together, Carter!" Klink ordered, glancing at him. He glared back at the RAF Corporal. "As for you, Newkirk, I hereby order you not to turn into a werewolf!"
Newkirk stared at Klink for a moment, amused by how ridiculous the order sounded.
"Now wait a minute," said Hogan, with a frown. "Newkirk can't help it. I'm sure he'd rather stay human."
"Who wouldn't?" Newkirk asked, going back to tearing into the croissant.
Klink just winced and left without another word.
"Excellent work," said Hogan, once the coast was clear. "We'll keep at it. Newkirk, when Schultz brings the wolfsbane, I want you to react to it."
"Shall I just sneeze at it, or do you want me to recoil and snarl?"
"Depends on when he gets here," Hogan said. "We want your transformation to be steadily progressive. If it takes Schultz a while to get back, you can milk it for all it's worth."
Newkirk grinned. "Will do, Guv'nor."
It transpired that Schultz did not return until well into the afternoon; he had found it difficult explaining why he needed such a large amount of wolfsbane, and no one believe him when he told them the reason why, of course. Finally, flowers in hand, he returned to Barracks Two.
"Colonel Hogan, I have brought--"
He was cut off by a snarl from one of the top bunks. Newkirk had grown furrier since the morning, it seemed. His ears were now pointed, and he now seemed to have fangs (results obtained from Carter's seemingly endless store of random things; the others had never been so pleased at the Halloween gags he had stored in his footlocker until today).
Hogan and the rest of the Heroes were all crowded around the bunk, trying to calm Newkirk down.
"Colonel Hogan, what has happened!?" Schultz cried.
"What does it look like?" Hogan retorted.
"Newkirk was doing alright until lunch," said Kinch. "But one whiff of that Mettbrötchen they were serving in the Sergeants' Mess, and he lost it."
"I missed the Mettbrötchen? I mean… This is terrible!" Schultz said, glancing back at Newkirk. "Newkirk, this is your friend, Sergeant Schultz--"
Newkirk snarled at him as LeBeau pleaded with him to hold on to his human self.
"I have brought the wolfsbane for the barracks, as you requested," Schultz went on, holding out the violet-blue flowers with a shaking hand.
Newkirk recoiled as the flowers were held out to him. With a howl, he leaped off of the bunk to the floor, baring his teeth at the Sergeant.
"Pierre!" LeBeau exclaimed, trying to approach him.
"Stay back, LeBeau!" Hogan ordered. "He's doesn't recognize us now, and the wolfsbane will hurt him if he gets too close to it!"
"Non, Colonel!" LeBeau pleaded. "I have to help him!"
"Peter," said Carter, also trying to approach him. "Peter, you remember us, don't you? We're your best friends!"
Newkirk snarled, charging forward, but retreating at the wolfsbane.
"This really works," Schultz marveled, glancing at the plants.
"Too well," said LeBeau, trying again to approach Newkirk. "He can't stand it. Pierre, come back to us, please!"
Newkirk gasped, as though LeBeau's words were reaching him. Slowly, he came closer, but yelped as he got too close to the wolfsbane. He now leaped out the window.
"Newkirk!" Baker yelled, running out the door. The others were right behind him, but the blue-clad Corporal was nowhere to be seen when they exited. "Where did he go?"
"PIERRE!" LeBeau cried, wonderfully faked panic filling his voice.
He was answered by a loud howl from atop the barracks.
"He's on the roof!" Carter exclaimed. "We have to get him down before he falls off!"
"He seems pretty sure-footed," said Kinch, with a frown, as Newkirk continued to howl. "He's probably going to stay up there, howling until he fully transforms."
"And then what happens?" Carter asked, his eyes wide.
"Well, he could stay up there and continue howling all night long," Kinch went on. "Or he could run around and tear the place up."
"We can't have that," said Hogan. He called up to the Corporal. "Newkirk, this is Colonel Hogan! I order you to come down this instant!"
Newkirk responded with another howl to the heavens.
"Colonel, let me try going up there," LeBeau pleaded. "I might be able to get through to him!"
"It's too dangerous, LeBeau," Hogan said. "He doesn't recognize me, and I doubt he'd recognize you."
"My orders are for all of us to stay down here and keep an eye on him," Hogan went on. And no going up there; it's too risky. Schultz, I think you should distribute that wolfsbane to all of the barracks in case he does come down and starts running amuck. Whatever happens, it should all be over once midnight rolls around and it's no longer Halloween."
Schultz nodded. "I had better give some wolfsbane to the Kommandant first," he said, running off towards his office.
Newkirk kept howling until he was out of earshot.
"Right, what 'appens now?" he asked, still keeping his face to the sky in case anyone else was looking out a window. "When can I get all these 'Alloween trinkets off?"
"All in due time," Hogan said. "LeBeau, I want you to get that wolf-dog that Oscar Schnitzer supplied us with and teach him some simple commands. Teach him a signal for jumping. When the moon is high enough, sneak him up onto the roof."
"Colonel," said one of the other men, exiting the barracks. "Your coffeepot is picking up something; Hilda just told Klink that Hochstetter is on the phone."
Hogan muttered a curse under his breath. If this was about what he had feared earlier, then Hochstetter had indeed clued in to the location of the underground agents. He headed back inside to listen to Klink's end of the conversation.
"Keep it up, Newkirk," he threw over his shoulder.
Newkirk responded by howling again.
Inside his office, Klink glumly nodded and picked up the extension just as Hogan sat down to listen in on the coffeepot bug.
"Do you really feel it a need to come and conduct a search tonight?" he asked. "I… I'm not trying to contradict you, Major! It's just that I am certain that you won't find anything here; after all why would escaped underground members come here, of all places? And the timing is terrible; one of the men…" He trailed off, trying to find the best way to phrase Newkirk's problem. "One of the men isn't feeling like himself, Major."
"Kommandant!" Schultz exclaimed, entering with the wolfsbane. "Corporal Newkirk is on the roof of Barracks Two, howling!"
The receiver slipped from Klink's hand and he crossed to the window, opening it. He stared dumbly for a moment as he saw Newkirk howling from the barracks roof.
"Get him down from there!" he ordered. "Hochstetter is on his way over here, and in spite of my best efforts, I don't seem to be able to dissuade him!"
Schultz could only give a helpless shrug. "He doesn't even recognize Colonel Hogan anymore; there is nothing I can do."
Klink's brow furrowed, searching for an answer, and then giving a start as he heard Hochstetter angrily yelling over the line.
"Sorry, Major; the connection was interrupted," he said, hastily. "I… I understand, Sir. Yes, you'll be here tonight without fail to conduct the search. Yes." He gave a silent look to Schultz that clearly asked, "Why me!?"
Hogan, having heard what he needed to, sighed. What had started out as a silly prank idea from Newkirk was now a much bigger gamble than they had ever anticipated.
The hours ticked by. Newkirk continued to make a spectacle of himself on the roof, pacing on all fours and howling.
Blimey, this was fun for the first two hours; now it's a giant bore, he thought to himself. And I'm hungry, to boot.
Still, he was probably having more fun than his friends, who had to put up with calling to him from the ground. It was getting harder for them look worried as time dragged on, and they were all grateful for when the sun set and the full moon gleamed brightly in the sky. It was now 9:30.
"Alright, Newkirk, you know what to do," said Hogan, as LeBeau began to coax the wolf-dog up a staircase of crates to let him climb up to the barracks roof. "Put your hat and jacket on that dog and head into the tunnels—and to those agents in the rec hall. It's up to you to lead those underground members to the rendezvous point; Hochstetter will be here any minute."
"I've instructed the dog to follow Newkirk's scent," LeBeau said, coming onto the roof with the large dog. "When I give him the cue, he'll jump the fence and find him."
"So I can get me 'at and jacket back?" the Corporal asked, placing both articles of clothing on the wolf-dog.
"Right," said Hogan. "The dog will go to London with them; it'd be very difficult to explain him showing up here later. Once you reclaim your uniform, head back here as soon as possible, but not before midnight."
"And basically find somewhere just outside the fence to 'ave a kip until Schultzie finds me?" Newkirk finished, clambering off of the roof.
"That's the general idea," said Hogan.
Newkirk gave a nod as LeBeau whispered in French to the wolf-dog. The animal immediately began to snarl and growl.
"Tres bon," LeBeau said, patting the wolf-dog and heading down to the ground himself. "We really must thank Oscar Schnitzer properly the next time he comes by; that animal looks more like a wolf but trains like a dog!"
"We'll keep that in mind," said Hogan. "Newkirk?"
"Right, I'm out of 'ere," said Newkirk, ducking inside. He activated the bunk bed switch and clambered down into the tunnel as the sound of an approaching car filled the air.
"And there's Hochstetter, right on cue," Kinch murmured.
"Carter, you come with me," said Hogan, heading over in that direction, as were Klink and Schultz.
The wolf-dog on the roof began howling as Hochstetter exited the car. He gave a deadpan glare at Klink as he noticed the creature silhouetted against the moon.
"What is that?"
Klink swallowed hard, unsure of how to explain it. "That's Corporal Newkirk, Major."
"I'm afraid it's true," said Hogan, with a shake of his head. "Turns out that Newkirk is the son of a werewolf, and his lycanthropy is limited to whenever the full moon falls on Halloween."
Hochstetter glared at him before turning back to Klink. "What is this man doing here!?"
Both Hogan and Klink rolled their eyes.
"Major Hochstetter, Sir?" asked Carter, coming forward.
"And who are you!?"
"Carter, Sir, Andrew J.," he replied. "I was hoping that maybe you could help us help Newkirk."
Hochstetter's eyebrows arched. "And what makes you think I could help your idiot werewolf friend!?"
"Well, Sir, your first name is Wolfgang, so I thought--"
"Bah!" the Major fumed, shoving Carter aside. "Let me see this so-called werewolf for myself."
"I wouldn't if I were you, Sir," said Hogan. "He doesn't recognize any of us. Poor LeBeau is beside himself; he was the one most certain that he could've stopped Newkirk from succumbing to the curse--"
"I said I am going to see this werewolf with my own eyes, and then I am going to turn this place inside-out while I look for those missing underground agents," the Major retorted, heading to Barracks Two.
Klink began to wring his hands in worry, trying (and failing) to get Hochstetter to change his mind as Carter glanced at Schultz.
"Gee, all I did was ask if he could help," he said.
Schultz gave a shrug. He never liked the cruel Major; even Klink himself disliked and feared Hochstetter.
"Here he comes, LeBeau; work your magic," said Kinch, as Baker attempted to coax "Newkirk" into calming down.
LeBeau gave the dog instructions to wait until the Major was close enough, and then to jump. He then proceeded to put on his worried façade, calling for "Newkirk" to remember him.
Hochstetter strode up to them. "Out of my way," he said, shoving LeBeau aside now, who cursed him in his own tongue. The Major glared up at the creature on the roof, unsure if that was a costume or not. "Corporal! You come down here this instant!"
He soon regretted those words. The wolf-dog lunged from the roof with a howl, heading right for him. The Major yelled and turned to run, and the animal instinctively gave chase, thinking it was a game. The dog was only being playful, of course, but Hochstetter certainly did not know that.
LeBeau and Carter ran after the wolf-dog, trying to get "Newkirk" to stop.
"Hogaaaaaan!" Klink exclaimed, running over to him as Schultz sought cover within the barracks. "Hogan, do something!" He shuddered; it was true that he did not like Hochstetter, but he couldn't stop from wondering if there was a way he could be sent to the Eastern Front for this.
"I warned him," Hogan said, with a shake of his head. "I warned him not to get too close; Newkirk was manageable on the roof, but who knows what's going to happen now?"
"There is one way," Hogan said. "We'll have to lure Newkirk outside of the gates until midnight; we can bring him back in once he turns back to normal. Knowing him, he'll try coming back the moment he regains control of his senses; you know he'd never try to escape and make you look bad…"
"Let him out!?" Klink repeated. "Absolutely not!" He winced as he heard Hochstetter angrily yelling for him to do something. "Alright, alright. But who's going to let him out?"
"LeBeau and Carter can; they are the ones least likely to be attacked by Newkirk," said Hogan. "But I need a guarantee from you—when Newkirk returns to normal, you won't send him to the cooler for what transpired here tonight. He didn't even know what he was doing."
"Why should I promise that?" Klink asked. He flinched again as Hochstetter yelled again. "Alright, alright; I won't hold anything against him, but have your men do something!"
"That's all I wanted to hear," said Hogan. "LeBeau! Carter! There's only one way—get Newkirk over that fence!"
LeBeau understood perfectly. He removed his scarf, waving it like a flag. "Pierre! Look at me, Pierre! We are your friends!"
The wolf-dog looked back. Ah, there was the signal that he had been taught! He playfully bounded after the Frenchman, who pretended to cry out in fear.
Hochstetter gasped from both relief and exhaustion.
LeBeau attempted to climb the fence, and the wolf-dog leaped, clearing the wire completely and running off into the night.
"You know, André?" LeBeau said quietly to Carter. "I shall miss that dog."
"Yeah, me too," said Carter. "Good old Peter II…"
"Major!" Klink exclaimed, running over to Hochstetter with Hogan in tow. "Are you alright, Major?"
Hochstetter glared at Klink.
"Is this your idea of a joke, Klink!? I can assure you that I will write a full report about this!"
"You seem to have forgotten that we all tried to convince you not to go near poor Newkirk," said Hogan. "And I'm not so sure what a report about a werewolf will do to your credibility in the eyes of your superiors."
Hochstetter glared at the American colonel, realizing that both points were correct, before turning back to Klink.
"And what about the escaped Corporal!?"
"Believe me, Newkirk will be back as soon as he returns to normal," Hogan insisted. He checked his watch. "It's 10 PM now; the transformation should reverse at midnight."
"Klink, why is this man speaking for you!?" Hochstetter asked.
"Well, Major, what he says is true," said Klink with a shrug. "Why don't you come into my office? You can have some coffee and recuperate from your harrowing experience." He looked around. "Schultz!?"
"K-Kommandant?" the big man answered, nervously peering out from Barracks Two.
"The second it turns midnight, I want you to go find Newkirk!"
Schultz barely managed a nod.
"There we are," said Hogan. "Problems solved."
"Oh, no they aren't," Hochstetter said, glaring at Hogan again. "I haven't forgotten my search; we're looking in every single building here for those underground agents!"
"By all means, search away," Hogan said, suppressing a smirk.
Newkirk had made excellent time through the tunnel while removing the false fur and ears as he headed to the trapdoor in the rec hall floor. Quietly, he led the underground agents out through the tree stump exit and along the path to the rendezvous point.
The wolf-dog had joined them partway, and Newkirk was very reluctant to let his "alter-ego" go once it was time for the agents to continue on without him.
"Mind that they take good care of 'im in London," he requested. "I expect to see 'im again when the war's over."
"We'll see to it, Corporal," one of the agents assured him. "Our thanks to you and to the Colonel."
Newkirk nodded, giving a wan smile as the wolf-dog glanced back at him one last time as the agents continued on. After a little more travelling, they would arrive at the submarine. But Newkirk still had work to do, and he headed back towards camp, checking his watch. The time had gone so quickly; it would soon be midnight. He pulled his jacket and hat back on as he ran. There was quite a bit of dog hair on both articles, but he decided that it would look more authentic that way.
The woods began to look more familiar as he drew closer to the stalag. Seeing the lights of the watchtower, Newkirk chose a patch of soft brush to lay himself down on. A few minutes later, he began to hear Schultz ordering some of the lower-ranking guards around, and so he shut his eyes, as though the transformation rendered him unconscious.
Footsteps approached him, followed by a triumphant exclamation. Schultz was running over to him now—even with his eyes shut, Newkirk could tell it was him by the heavy footsteps.
"Newkirk!" Schultz exclaimed, shining a flashlight into the young Englishman's face. It was remarkable, the sergeant thought. Newkirk even seemed clean-shaven again!
Newkirk stirred and groaned. "Schultzie? Blimey, where am I? What 'appened? The last thing I remember was smelling that Mettbrötchen, and the rest is all a blur to me…"
"Oh, Newkirk, we have all been so worried for you," Schultz said, gently helping the Corporal up and guiding him back inside camp. "You fully transformed due to your father's curse--"
"Pierre!" LeBeau exclaimed in apparent relief as he ran forward to hug his returning friend. "You are yourself again!"
"What, you thought I'd leave you lot just like that?" Newkirk asked.
"Everything alright, Newkirk?" Hogan asked.
"Everything, Guv'nor," Newkirk said, sensing that Hogan was really trying to ask about the mission's success. He blinked as Hochstetter stormed out of Klink's office, with Klink himself right behind. "Well, almost everything…"
"Corporal!" the Major snarled, glaring at him.
"Now wait a minute," said Hogan, getting between the two. "You can't blame Newkirk for what happened."
"Can't I!?" Hochstetter retorted. He was obviously irked at not being able to find the escaped underground members, and was determined to get recompensed for being chased by the "werewolf."
"He wasn't in control of himself," Hogan said. "Look at him." He gave a pointed glance to the RAF Corporal, who was keeping an arm around LeBeau to support his tired self. "This transformation was more taxing on him than it was for you."
"Oui," said LeBeau, supporting his friend. "He attacked me before, but wouldn't do so now!"
"And it's not like he's going to transform again anytime soon," said Carter. "I mean, what are the odds of the full moon falling on Halloween again?"
"One in thirty-one," Kinch answered.
"If you ask me," said Hogan. "I'd let this bizarre matter drop, seeing as though there's no harm done, and seeing as though no one will ever believe it."
"Bah!" Hochstetter snarled again, storming away to his car.
Newkirk sighed with relief as Klink just looked around and retreated to his office, relieved that there had been no successful escapes on his watch.
"Alright, lights out!" Schultz ordered. "Get inside the barracks! Lights out!"
"We're going, Schultzie, we're going," Newkirk said, as they headed inside. He dropped the tired act as soon as they were all inside and the door was closed. "Mission accomplished, lads!"
"Thanks to you," Carter said, with a grin. "You should check in with Hollywood after the war and see if they'll cast you in the next Wolfman movie."
"No thanks," the Englishman replied. "I've 'ad enough of playing wolf to last me a lifetime. I'll tell you what I could go for—some grub! I 'aven't eaten since lunch!"
"Un moment," LeBeau said, with a smile. "I'll get you something."
"And you've earned it," said Hogan.
Newkirk grinned again, but blinked. "Blimey, I forgot to take the fangs out," he realized. He did so now.
"Lucky for you they didn't notice," Baker said, with a shake of his head.
Newkirk shrugged and tossed them into his footlocker.
"You're keeping them?" asked Kinch, his eyebrows arched.
"Sure," the Corporal replied. "They could double as vampire fangs." He smirked to himself.
He was already planning a prank for next Halloween.