I do not own any of the characters from the series Hogan's Heroes. An alternative viewpoint to "A Klink, a Bomb, and a Short Fuse" (Series 2).

"Carter, how long would it take you to make a bomb?"

"Well, gee, I don't know. I'd have to fix up some kind of explosive..."

"I don't mean a real bomb. I mean one that looks like a bomb, ticks like a bomb, but doesn't go off like a bomb."

It should have been easy. All Carter had to do was dummy up a bomb casing, fill it with whatever bits of junk he had lying around, fit some kind of ticking mechanism and get it out into the middle of the prison yard for the guards to find. And somehow, he'd still managed to mess it up. Again. Or so he told himself, as the dust began to clear.

He raised his head slowly. When the first crack of breaking timber had alerted him to the impending tunnel collapse - they all knew and dreaded that sound - he had reacted instinctively by throwing his body across the bomb, to protect it. Which was just stupid; it wasn't like it was a real bomb, after all.

Come to think of it, trying to shield a real bomb would have been even dumber.

Carter coughed as some of the dust got into his throat, and then squinted around, trying to make out how bad things were. Through the lingering haze he could see a few weirdly reddish patches of light, where some of the lamps around the walls were still burning in spite of the disaster. Behind him, the way to the radio room, and the barracks above, was blocked by a massive tumble of earth, with splintered timbers poking through the surface. The side tunnel leading to the recreation hall appeared to be inaccessible, and the emergency tunnel didn't look promising, either.

"Oh, boy," he said aloud, and his voice sounded very small in the enclosed space around him.

They're going to be so mad at me, he thought.

Of course, he knew the cave-in wasn't his fault. Probably the structure of the tunnel had been weakened by last night's bombing raid, which had been very close. That was what had given the colonel his brilliant idea, to distract the Krauts by planting a phoney bomb in the middle of the compound so they would forget to monitor the radio transmissions from the tunnel. Which would have given Kinch enough time to contact London by radio and send them the new German code they'd been at such pains to get hold of.

And now it had all been blown out of the water, because Carter had taken so long to get the ticking sound just right. For Pete's sake, it was only a fake bomb, it didn't have to be perfect. If only he'd gotten it done half an hour earlier...

"Carter? Are you okay?"

It was Kinch's voice, muffled by the debris which lay between them. Carter took a deep breath, choked as the dust hit his lungs, and started coughing again.

"I'm okay, Kinch," he croaked, as soon as he could speak.

"Where are you?"

Carter peered around. "Just by the workshop, and the recreation hall tunnel."

"Can you get out that way?"

"Not a chance. Emergency tunnel, maybe, but I'd have to dig, and I got nothing to prop it with."

"Don't even try," said Kinch sharply. "You could bring the whole lot down on your head. Just stay where you are, we'll get you out from this side."

"Hey, Kinch?" Carter's voice faltered. He hated having to admit to another failure. "I didn't get the phoney bomb into the yard. I was just on my way out with it when..."

"Never mind that, Carter. As long as you're not hurt, that's the main thing. We'll come up with something else. Stay there, and we'll have you out before you know it."

At least Kinch wasn't mad at him; that was something.

There was a standard procedure for this situation. Carter went round his prison, extinguishing all but one of the lamps to preserve air quality; then he sat down next to the bomb, and prepared for what he expected would be a long wait.

Kinch headed up to the barracks, more concerned than he had let on. A tunnel collapse was always a serious business; it left the rest of the structure unstable, and a second roof fall could be fatal for anyone unable to get out. And that wasn't even allowing for the risk of suffocation, if the air flow was completely cut off. He wasn't sure how much space Carter had around him, but from his knowledge of the layout, he suspected it wasn't much, so they might not have a lot of time.

He emerged from the tunnel but stayed on the ladder, brushing the dirt from his sleeves. "Where's Colonel Hogan?" he demanded tersely.

"Schultz came and got him a little while ago," replied LeBeau.

"What's up?" Newkirk, looking out of the window, didn't even turn his head.

"Part of the tunnel collapsed. Carter's trapped down there. He was just coming up with the phoney bomb."

That got Newkirk's attention. He turned from the window, the look of disbelief on his face matched by the expression on LeBeau's. "Carter's in the tunnel with the bomb?"


"Well, what's that bomb in the yard?"

"Bomb...?" Kinch stared at him, then ascended a couple of extra rungs to reach the window.

There was a bomb out there, all right. He could see Colonel Hogan, standing less than two feet away from it, his expression of calm amusement at odds with the anxiety displayed by the Kommandant and Sergeant Schultz, and the peevishness which was General Burkhalter's usual response to any situation which brought him into contact with Kommandant Klink. Kinch moved back again, appalled. "That's a real one."

His spatial awareness was very precise, and it took him barely five seconds to assess the position of the bomb, relative to the network of tunnels below the camp. He didn't mention it to the others; no point in giving them anything extra to worry about at this stage. Anyway, it wouldn't take either of them long, once they got underground, to work out it for themselves.

Kinch made a snap decision. There was nothing he could do to assist Hogan right now. "Come on, let's dig Carter out."

"Cor blimey, what a mess!" Newkirk, reaching the bottom of the ladder, gazed in shock at the confusion in the radio room. Whether the explosions overnight had caused it, or the vibrations from the collapse further on, something had brought the shelving on the wall crashing onto the desk, followed by a large quantity of earth from overhead. "What about the radio?"

"I'll tell you when we find it," replied Kinch grimly. "Right now, it's the least of our worries. But even if Carter had managed to get the fake bomb into the yard, we couldn't have sent the code anyway."

"Is he hurt?" LeBeau asked.

"He says not. But if there's a second cave-in, he's in real trouble."

Kinch still didn't mention exactly where Carter was, but as he led the way he heard a startled exclamation from LeBeau, as he suddenly realised where they were going. "Mais..."

Almost at the same instant, Newkirk broke in. "Kinch, he's right below..."

"Yeah, I know," Kinch interrupted both of them. "He's directly under that bomb. We need to get him out, fast. But we'll have to be careful; if we go at it too hard, and there's another collapse, the shock could set off the bomb and take out Colonel Hogan as well as Carter."

"It'll take out the whole bloody lot of us, if it goes," muttered Newkirk, but with no indication he was thinking of retreating.

At sight of the mass of earth, stones and timbers blocking the way, he was dumbstruck; when he finally regained his faculties, the first word he uttered was not one he'd learned from his mother.

"It will take us hours to dig through that," whispered LeBeau, staring at it.

Kinch was studying the obstruction. "There's been another fall," he said suddenly; then, raising his voice. "Carter, can you hear me?"

There was no answering call. Not a sound was heard but the soft intermittent trickle of moving soil.