Author's note: The characters aren't mine (except for the OCs), and the story is! This fic was written in response to Hubbles' Halloween challenge, which was to end a fic using one of the prompt words; the word I chose was "feet." As it's a Halloween story, there are going to be some supernatural elements. Lastly, this story takes place in the Halloween of 1943; Carter wouldn't have been with the team in October of '42, and I already wrote a story that took place on the Halloween of '44 some time ago.
Minor edits made; thanks to konarciq for pointing them out!
Traversing the woods near Hammelburg was a challenge on any given night, but it was on one particularly foggy Halloween night that an Englishman, and American, and a Frenchman were returning from a routine mission.
"Cor blimey, it's just like 'ome, it is!" the East Ender exclaimed, as the thick fog obscured everything outside of a limited radius of visibility. "'Ave you ever seen a fog like this, Andrew?"
"You mean you like this pea soup?" the young American replied. "Hey, Louis, can you believe him? …Louis?"
Carter and Newkirk glanced behind them. They couldn't see their French comrade, but they could certainly hear him cursing in his native tongue from a point some distance behind them.
"You've got to watch out for those tree roots, little mate!" Newkirk called out to him.
LeBeau, covered in dirt and bits of twigs and leaves, now caught up as he glared indignantly at his younger friends, daring them to laugh.
"Am I amusing you?" he inquired.
The suppressed laughter of the others provided him with an answer he could have done without.
"I still do not see why it required all three of us to go into town and get these radio parts," LeBeau went on. "Two of us could have gotten them."
"We decided that we'd get all the pieces in one go," Newkirk said. "And we needed a man standing guard outside the 'ofbrau, didn't we?"
"Yeah, and be grateful you're not the one carrying the equipment," Carter said, carrying half of it in his pockets. "I can't even afford to fall over; if I came back with the new equipment smashed, Kinch would never let me hear the end of it!"
"None of us would," Newkirk vowed, carrying the other half in the pockets of his own civilian outfit.
"Oui; I am not coming out in this weather again!" LeBeau vowed.
"What's wrong with it?" the Englishman asked, teasingly. "I just don't feel like making the walk again."
Carter was about to say something, but noises up ahead of them caused him and the others to freeze.
"There're people up ahead," Newkirk whispered, peering through the thick fog. "I think there are three… no; four of them."
LeBeau and Carter exchanged utterly baffled glances; they couldn't see a thing through the fog; they could just barely see each other. And the moon offered only the tiniest sliver of light that couldn't even hope to penetrate through the fog; it was a thin, waxing crescent, and with the fog, it may as well have been a moonless night.
"How does he even see—?" Carter wondered, whispering.
"Do not even try to understand," LeBeau advised, sagely.
"They're coming this way," Newkirk went on, still staring straight through the fog as though it wasn't even there. "Come on; we'll 'ave to take a detour. Follow me."
He banked right, the Frenchman and the American following as quickly as they could; if Newkirk pulled ahead too much, then the two of them were as good as caught.
"You think it's a patrol?" Carter whispered up to Newkirk.
"With only five men?" LeBeau responded, under his breath. "That is rather small for a patrol, non?"
"I didn't want to wait that long to see what they were," the Englishman quietly admitted, as he led them onward. "It's possible that they may 'ave been part of a patrol that got separated in this fog. I can quite easily believe that; you two would be running 'round in circles now if I wasn't 'ere."
LeBeau would have countered with volleying a quiet insult right back to him had he not been so preoccupied with keeping up.
"Right, when you get a little bit ahead, mind your step. You don't want to trip over any of the smaller gravestones," the Englishman said, quietly and casually, as he led his companions along.
"Oh, sure; we wouldn't want…" Carter began, but trailed off, staring at Newkirk in slight horror. "Gravestones?"
"Pierre, where have you led us?" LeBeau hissed.
"Well, I 'ad to take a new path to get us away from those men coming for us, didn't I?" Newkirk hissed back, defending his actions. "This place is just one of those old Bavarian forest cemeteries. Mind the stone angel over 'ere, too."
Carter nearly collided with the old, stone angel. The angel, along with the rest of the cemetery, had obviously been here for quite a while; when Carter took a closer look at the statue, feeling its features, he was surprised to see that time had worn away the features on the angel's face.
"Wow, she's going to end up just like Standing Rock," he whispered, his eyes wide.
"What is a Standing Rock?" LeBeau whispered back.
"It's a Sioux legend," Carter quietly explained. "There was this woman whose husband had gone off with the rest of the tribe—he had taken a second wife, and the first wife had stayed behind because she was jealous. After a while, when they came back for her, they found out that she had turned to stone, waiting for him."
"Cor, she married a ruddy louse, didn't she?" Newkirk mused.
"Guess so," the American agreed. "Anyway, they took the stone with them, and over time, she wore down to a rock. The stone's really there, you know; when the war's over, you guys have to come to the States, and I can show you. If you look hard enough, you can kind of see the shape of a woman, with her hair all down—"
He was cut off as he crashed into LeBeau and Newkirk, who had stopped short just ahead of him.
"Hey, what's the hold-up?" he asked. "Those guys we ditched aren't that far back; they might catch up if we don't get… going…"
He trailed off as he saw what the corporals were looking at—an odd light shining through the fog up ahead. The soldiers could have easily dismissed it as a flashlight or lantern, had the light not been an eerie blue.
"Feu follet," LeBeau whispered, his eyes wide with fear. "My grandmother warned me about those when I was a child."
"What?" Carter asked, looking at the light.
"Will-o'-the-wisp," Newkirk quietly explained, frowning. Being the cynic and skeptic of the group, he had never taken much stock in such stories and legend.
"Wow, you mean a ghost light?" the American whispered, his eyes widening.
"Grand-mère always said to never follow the lights," LeBeau said, his voice hushed. "Pierre, we must go back!"
Newkirk gave his French companion a look.
"I'd expect Andrew to say something like that, but you?" he asked, quietly. "Look, we need to go around this ruddy cemetery if we want to get back to camp before anyone notices we're gone. Just stay behind me and remain calm; we'll take this detour and make an arc to get back to the main path we just left, going around those people we saw coming this way."
No one seemed to think twice about a corporal ordering a sergeant around; Carter gave a nod and followed him. It was LeBeau who didn't think too much of Newkirk's idea, but the Frenchman stuck by his two younger comrades all the same, not taking his eyes off of the ghost light.
He was the first to notice when the lights were joined by four more lights, coming from the direction where they had come from. LeBeau's mouth fell open in stunned silence; had those four "people" Newkirk had seen been the condemned souls of the French legends?
"Enough; I will lead!" he hissed, slipping ahead of Newkirk.
The Englishman didn't protest initially to the Frenchman's sudden takeover, but as he and Carter both glanced back to see what had upset their friend and saw the other four lights, Newkirk turned back to address LeBeau, only to see that he had, in his haste, started pulling away from them.
"Where'd he go?" Carter asked.
"I can see 'im," Newkirk assured him. He raised his voice to as loud a whisper as he dared. "Oi, Louis! Get back 'ere!"
LeBeau slowed down, but didn't stop walking, turning his head and watching the five lights convene out of the corner of his eye.
Newkirk's annoyance quickly turned to worry as he looked ahead and saw what LeBeau could not.
"Louis, right in front of you!" he warned. "There's a—!"
LeBeau's right foot suddenly met the empty air of an open pit; the Frenchman desperately tried to put all his weight on his teetering left foot. He let out a quiet yelp, waving his arms around like a windmill in an attempt to regain his balance. He was unable to recover it, however, and began to pitch forward…
…Until the Englishman's arms suddenly wrapped around him, catching him just before he fell forward into the pit. LeBeau was suspended over the pit for a moment, gasping as he saw something glowing green in there—a different color than the lights they had seen, but an abnormal glow all the same. Newkirk soon pulled LeBeau back, breathing out a silent sigh of relief.
"You all right, Louis?" he asked, looking back and blinking to see that the lights were now gone.
"Oui. Merci, Pierre," the older corporal replied, willing to swallow his pride after his narrow escape. "I did not even see the pit."
"Pit, nothing!" Carter responded, in an excited whisper as his fingers felt a headstone near the pit. "It's a grave! Someone's digging a grave!"
"No," Newkirk whispered, his eyes narrowing as he ran his fingers over the stone and felt the distinct numbers that dated it to the 1800s. "Someone's digging up a grave. This cemetery is old; no one should be digging around, if you ask me. And the dates on that gravestone, along with the fresh dirt, prove that someone dug this up not too long ago."
"And they found something, too," said Carter, picking up a piece of gold-inlaid coffin wood that the thieves had dropped.
"Grave-robbers…" LeBeau whispered, his nervousness over the ghost lights quickly being replaced with anger. "No wonder there are spirits out tonight; those feux follets are probably seeking revenge!"
"You really think so?" Carter asked LeBeau. "Boy…" Even the young American looked upset. "Gee, isn't anything sacred anymore?"
"Apparently not. And as for why I really think that it is the ghosts… why else is there that odd glow in the opened grave?" LeBeau responded, lying flat on his stomach so he could take a peek inside again.
Sure enough, something was glowing green in the bottom of the pit; he had not merely imagined it.
"Cor blimey, those look like bones glowing down there," Newkirk murmured, being the only one able to discern what they were.
"I'll bet this smashed coffin piece belongs to whoever's down there," Carter whispered, somberly. He gingerly placed the piece of wood down, not wanting the spirits to get angry with him for meddling with it. He shuddered, feeling goosebumps forming on his skin. "Hey, let's just get back to camp; this place is giving me the creeps!"
"I want a closer look at those bones," Newkirk said, still staring at them. He looked back at the five ghost lights, which were ignoring them completely and congregating together still. "Right; each of you grab 'old of one of me ankles and lower me down—and for 'eaven's sake, do be careful about it!"
He laid himself on the ground, waiting. The others didn't move, however, and Newkirk looked over to them to see them looking at him as though he had just sprouted wings and had flown away.
"I'm getting the distinct feeling that you don't quite care for me idea," the Englishman observed.
"What was your first clue?" LeBeau asked, dryly. "Now is the time for us to leave—while the feux follets are preoccupied and have not noticed us."
"I 'ave me doubts about them, too," Newkirk replied. "Never mind about them. Lower me down."
"Hey, I'm the sergeant around here," Carter realized. "Where do you get off telling me what to do?"
"You do not even know if that light down there is from the spirit spending time guarding the bones!" LeBeau hissed.
"And so what if it is?" Newkirk replied. "Surely the spirit knows that I'm only 'ere to 'elp. Now lower me down, or I'll be asking for one of you to take me place. If there's going to be funny business going on around 'ere, we need to report it to the Guv'nor so 'e can figure out what to do about it."
Carter and LeBeau exchanged glances again, and then looked into the glowing objects in the grave.
"All right, we'll lower you down," Carter said, quietly. "Come on, Louis."
The Frenchman nodded in agreement, but was holding a tight grip on Newkirk's ankle as they lowered him down into the grave.
"I was right," he announced, once he had gotten closer. "The bones are the ones that were glowing."
"The spirit must be trying to get back into its body," LeBeau said, shuddering.
"Pull me up," Newkirk said, after briefly feeling the glowing skull to make sure it was real. And it was, indeed, a real skull—though the Englishman was at a loss for an explanation regarding the glow.
"Did we really have to go through all this?" Carter asked, as he pulled Newkirk up.
"I wanted to get a closer look," the Englishman responded, once he was back on the ground. "And I found out that the bones are real. What do you make of that?"
"All I know is that it is most unnatural for bones to glow like that," LeBeau whispered, casting an uneasy glance at the remains. "I still think we should leave—"
"Holy smoke, Peter! Your hand—look at your hand!" Carter exclaimed in a loud whisper.
Newkirk held his hand out, his eyes widening as he saw his fingertips glowing the same green color as the skull.
LeBeau let out a loud whisper in his own language, momentarily harboring the idea that a spirit was trying to attach itself to Newkirk before his own common sense told him that it was highly unlikely.
"Pierre, did you touch the bones?" he asked.
"Well, I 'ad to make sure that they were real, didn't I?" the Englishman answered.
"Hold on a second, I think I've seen this kind of glow before," Carter said, his eyes narrowing.
The American took a handkerchief from his pocket and wiped his companion's fingers. The glowing green color transferred to the handkerchief. LeBeau blinked, now certain something strange was going on, and it had nothing to do with spirits. No self-respecting ghost would try to attach itself to a handkerchief, after all.
"Yeah, that's it," Carter whispered, staring at his handkerchief. "Luminous paint. I'd say that those bones were painted not too long ago, and you've got a bit of the residue on your hands from touching it."
"Paint?" Newkirk repeated. He looked back to his fingers, still unable to feel anything there; the paint had been mostly dry. He shrugged to himself.
"Yeah," Carter said. "It's some pretty interesting stuff. It's used in some clocks and watches, and you don't even have to do anything to it in order to get it to glow; it'll glow on its own."
"It does not make sense," LeBeau said, with a shake of his head. "Why would someone rob a grave and paint the remains to glow like this?"
"You thought it was the sign of a spirit trying to reenter the bones, remember?" Newkirk reminded him. "Whoever robbed the grave was banking on everyone else to think the same thing."
"Oui; I guess they could not expect that you would be mad enough to touch the bones," the Frenchman replied.
"Right; they couldn't expect…" Newkirk began, but trailed off as the stealth insult sunk in.
"They must be really desperate to cover their tracks if they were willing to use this paint," Carter said. "There's radium in it—you know, radioactive stuff? That's what makes it glow in the dark like this; there was even a lawsuit nearly twenty years back because the people who were using this stuff on the clocks and watches were getting really sick. We learned about it in my chemistry class back in high school… of course, that was before I destroyed the laboratory…"
"Oh, charming," Newkirk muttered, grabbing the handkerchief from Carter and trying to wipe the rest of the stuff off of his fingers before he sustained any permanent damage from it. He wiped his hand on the damp grass to get as much as he could off of himself.
"Oh, you shouldn't suffer any long-lasting consequences from touching the skull," Carter assured him. "You only got a little bit of the residue on your fingers; those watch painters were getting the stuff all over themselves. But, uh, just to be sure, we'll all keep an eye one you once we get back."
"I feel so relieved now," the Englishman muttered, sardonically. He had to admit, however, that it was lucky that the coat of paint on the skull had not been so wet that it would have gotten more on his hands.
LeBeau silently handed him another handkerchief to wipe the rest of the residue off, but as Newkirk diligently cleaned his fingers, the Frenchman's eyes widened in sudden realization.
"Those ghost lights we saw—they must be another trick, as well!" he whispered. "Those were the grave-robbers we saw!"
He looked over towards where the lights had been, but there was no trace of the lights now. Listening closely, though, the trio could hear the all-too-familiar sounds of shovels in dirt, having done quite a bit of digging in their time at Stalag 13.
"Those ruddy fools are digging up another grave!" Newkirk hissed. "I'll wager they'll paint the remains like they did to this poor soul, as well."
"I don't believe this!" Carter responded, anger beginning to creep into his hushed voice. "Whatever happened to respect for the dead, for crying out loud?"
LeBeau cursed, quietly. His short temper and drive had returned to him in a flash now that it seemed that the odd things they had seen had a perfectly normal explanation to them. Embarrassed by ever thinking that there had been anything to worry about, he was looking forward to getting out of here.
"Steady on, Louis," Newkirk said, quietly. "Follow me."
"What do you mean, follow you?" LeBeau hissed. "We should get back to le colonel; he is waiting for us!"
"The colonel also wants us to keep an eye out on civilian and military activity whenever we go out on missions," Newkirk reminded him. "Besides that, we need to get past them to get back to the path that leads back to camp."
He crept along, keeping low to the ground as the others followed in almost exactly the same way to avoid being spotted.
"Oh, blimey; look," Newkirk murmured, suddenly stopping dead. "You see the five blokes up there?"
"I can't even see 'one bloke' through the fog!" Carter whispered. Gee, I wonder what happened to those blue lights they had. All I can see are ordinary flashlights and lanterns coming from them now…
LeBeau nodded in agreement, still wondering how Newkirk could do it.
"They're just young lads—the oldest one is no more than seventeen or eighteen," the Englishman replied, rolling his eyes at his two companions. "And while I obviously can't recognize them, I wouldn't be at all surprised if they're probably robbing these graves for items to sell and pick up extra money. Life must be difficult for them."
"Bon; now we know. And that means we can now return to camp," LeBeau quietly insisted.
"I told you, steady on!" Newkirk repeated, grabbing the Frenchman's arm to stop him from getting separated. "For one thing, we can't let them see us, even if they are lads. We'll go one at a time past that stone angel over there. Once we make it back to the path, we're in the clear, and we can report all this to the Guv'nor."
"You think the Underground can get out here and stop those boys?" Carter whispered. "I mean, I know they're just kids desperate for money, but we really can't let them get away with this…"
He trailed off as he saw more ghost lights appearing in different spots, from all directions. Some of them were the same blue that they had seen earlier, while the others were all sorts of different colors.
"Hey, Peter? Not for nothing, but are you sure you only saw five of them?"
Newkirk and LeBeau looked up from their argument, mouths agape as they saw the lights appearing right before their eyes.
It suddenly became all too clear that while the painted bones were a trick, the ghost lights most certainly were not.
One of the five grave-robbing boys suddenly let out a panicked shout, causing the three soldiers to nearly leap out of their skins.
"Flieht! Schnell!" the boy cried.
There was a clatter as shovels hit gravestones as they were thrown aside, followed by a metal clang and a splash as the luminescent paint can was knocked over, spilling some of its contents on the grass.
The teens scattered in all directions, one of them heading straight for the trio. He tripped spectacularly over LeBeau, who, out of sheer reflex, cursed in his own tongue. Newkirk elbowed the Frenchman in the ribs as Carter seized the teen's ankle.
The teen, immediately thinking he had been seized by a participant in a zombie jamboree, screamed and shouted for help, but his four partners in crime had abandoned him. Not even noticing that one of his captors had cursed in French, he began to plead with them.
"Please, let me go!" he cried, in German. "It was all their idea—I did not want to do this! I will never rob the graves again! Please, have mercy on me!"
"Calm down," Carter responded, slipping into one of his flawless German impersonations. With his civilian clothes on, the boy did not suspect a thing, but he was now concerned with who had caught him.
"Are you the cemetery caretakers?" he wondered. "We only started this a few days ago; we only dug up one grave. We had started on another one, but these lights appeared. I swear, I did not do the actual digging. My father used to run a watch factory; all I did was bring the paint to paint the bones!"
He, along with the trio, ducked as a ghost light swooped at them.
"That still makes you an accomplice," Newkirk snarled, in a gruff, no-nonsense voice. "Besides that, you know of the curfew! You should not be out here!"
LeBeau kept quiet; his French accent was often too thick for him to pass as a convincing German; though he had done it before in desperate situations, he wasn't sure that, given the concern he had for the ghost lights all around them, he would be able to pull it off this time around.
The four mortals froze as a horrified scream came from up ahead.
"Günter!" the boy gasped. He tore off in the direction of the scream.
"Wait!" Carter said, accidentally speaking in English. He caught himself, and, thankfully, the boy was so concerned for his companion, he didn't even notice. However, Newkirk did give Carter an elbow in the ribs as he had done to LeBeau.
The trio took off after the boy; Newkirk grabbed his arm as the ghost lights swept by them, pulsating with an aura of anger.
"My brother! That was my little brother!" the teen protested. "Something has happened to him!"
"Something is about to happen to us, too!" Carter said, nervously, as the ghost lights were now diving at them with a greater zeal.
LeBeau let out a strangled yell as he was hit by one of them, which attached to his sleeve and would not let go. Another one stuck to the lapel of Newkirk's jacket, and the boy found several of them sticking to his hair and clothes.
Vengeance will be ours tonight, a voice hissed in Carter's ear before another light stuck to the collar of his jacket.
Well, that can't be good… the sergeant said to himself. He shut his eyes, trying to recall the tales from his family—tales of rituals that the Lakota traditionally did to purify the souls of the deceased.
Newkirk brought him around with a sharp punch to the arm as the teen ran forward, not even bothering with the ghost lights. He ran ahead, gasping as he saw several of the lights attaching themselves to a trembling, unconscious figure on the ground.
"Günter! Günter!" the older boy cried, trying to brush the lights off of his brother.
The lights did not budge; more and more of them began to attach themselves to the brothers and to the trio of soldiers. Within moments, the older boy had fallen unconscious next to his brother.
"What is… happening…?" LeBeau asked, as more lights attached to him. He could feel himself getting weaker, with no explanation—except for his grandmother's warnings of the feux follets, and how they would drain the energy off of those they cornered.
Newkirk and Carter seemed to getting weaker, too; all three of them being brought to their knees.
"We've… got to… get out of 'ere…" Newkirk said, trying to crawl forward. His mind was trying to wrap itself around what was happening; it didn't make sense that these were real ghost lights, and that they were proving themselves to be more dangerous than the radioactive paint he had touched.
"Yeah… no kidding," Carter said, struggling to keep his eyes open. "Think we can… make a break for it?"
Both corporals gave him a look. LeBeau opened his mouth to say something, but nothing came from his lips. His eyes rolled backwards as he slumped to the ground.
"Louis?" Newkirk asked, his heart pounding and robbing him of what little energy remained in him. "Louis, wake up!"
Carter turned, horrified to see that the lights had rendered the Frenchman completely unresponsive, just like the two teens. And judging by how pale the Englishman's face now was, Newkirk was not likely to last much longer.
"Peter, you've got to stay with me!" Carter pleaded, shaking him by the shoulders. "You can't quit on me, too!"
He was already feeling bad about the fact that they had no choice but to leave the two young brothers behind; he could not leave his closest friends, as well!
But Newkirk swayed, his eyes shutting as he thought about the irony of the situation. After all the successful missions and narrow escapes, was this the way it was to end? He cursed his own curiosity; if he hadn't dawdled with investigating what the boys were up to and instead gone in the intended detour to get them back to the main path as LeBeau had kept begging him to do, they may have been able to slip past them and would have been back at Stalag 13 by now. It was an error in Newkirk's judgment that was now likely going to cost LeBeau and himself their lives.
"I'm sorry, Andrew…" he whispered. "Please… get out of 'ere…"
"No, Peter!" Carter gasped, as Newkirk slumped to the ground beside LeBeau.
The sergeant now saw more lights coming for him now that his two comrades were down.
"Stop! We didn't mean any harm!" he said, feeling them drain him even more. "We're not with those kids at all; we're on your side!"
This is our one night for vengeance… a voice hissed.
If we let you go now, others will come back to rob us! another screeched.
And how do we know that you and your companions had no ill intentions? a third asked.
"You… have my word…" Carter said, struggling to stay on his knees. "We came because… we thought those kids might be soldiers." He gritted his teeth, banking on sheer will to stay conscious; things were going blurry around him, and he had to shut his eyes. "We got distracted by what they were doing—and we never condoned it!"
Desperate, he began to whisper a couple of Lakota prayers—one to give him the strength he needed, and another to show his reverence for the dead. He gripped one of each corporal's wrists in his hands. He was either going to leave this place with them, or would suffer the same fate.
The cemetery sloped downward. Ignoring the angry hisses and whispers of the lights, he used gravity to his advantage, pulling his two friends down the slight slope, being forced to rest at several intervals.
The spirits now left the two brothers alone, convinced that they could not escape in their condition, and now focused on the sergeant and his two unconscious companions.
Carter's heart was pounding from the strain he had put upon himself by insisting on taking the two Europeans with him. Though his body screamed and pleaded for him to lie down, even for a moment, he knew he could not. He knew very well that if he were to lie down now, he would never get up again.
The pathway, which was just outside the cemetery, was still a few yards away, though the fog wouldn't even let him see that far ahead. Even worse, the ground was now flat; he did not have the advantage of gravity to help him anymore.
Had you left them behind, you would have made it out by now, a spirit taunted. If the ghost light had a face, it would have been sneering.
Carter ignored the voice, uttering his Lakota prayers again as he desperately pulled the corporals along. He yelped as he came across a gravestone in his path. Sweat pouring from his face, the sergeant made a detour around it.
I've got to be getting closer… I've got to be…
He was becoming aware of how cold Newkirk's skin was feeling beneath his fingers. LeBeau had a pair of gloves on, so Carter couldn't tell with him, but the fact that Newkirk seemed to be worsening was no comfort to the sergeant, who was already being pushed to his limits.
"Come on, guys," he pleaded. "They can't keep you two down; you can't die on me now!"
He uttered another Lakota prayer, this one to give strength to his comrades.
Shutting his eyes again, he kept crawling. The lights were all gathering around him and the corporals; he could feel the bright light shining from behind his closed eyelids.
He changed his tactic, now rolling LeBeau ahead first while still holding onto Newkirk's wrist.
He opened his eyes as LeBeau suddenly gasped. The Frenchman's eyes had suddenly opened, and it took Carter a moment to realize that he had successfully pushed LeBeau over the edge of the cemetery; the ghost lights on him had left, still concentrating themselves around Carter and Newkirk.
The sergeant now turned his attention to the Englishman, summoning the last of his strength to shove him over the boundary. Newkirk now awoke, a line of British curses issuing from his lips.
Carter smiled to himself as he felt his own awareness fading. They would be fine.
The angry lights surrounded him as he heard the corporals calling his name from what seemed like far away.
As he fell forward, two pairs of arms reached across the invisible boundary, catching him before he hit the ground and pulled him over to safety.
Carter's eyes suddenly snapped open again as his strength began to return. The ghost lights vanished, realizing that the young American mortal had, amazingly, defeated them.
"What just happened?" he wondered aloud.
"You saved our lives, mon ami," LeBeau said, his voice rich with gratitude.
"And you're a ruddy fool, as usual," Newkirk said, trying to cover up how worried he had been, seeing Carter collapse so close to safety. "Why didn't you listen to me when I told you to save yourself?"
"Easy," Carter said, with a wan smile. "I outrank you."
Newkirk rolled his eyes and was about to reply when the calls of Günter and his elder brother reached their ears. Since the ghost lights had been so preoccupied with trying to stop Carter from taking the corporals out, they had all but forgotten about the two brothers, who had revived and had weakly crawled to the cemetery edge closest to them. Once their strength had returned, they followed the cemetery boundary back to the main path.
"Glad to see they made it out, too," Carter murmured, as they approached.
After the boys thanked them, and after Newkirk and Carter gave them a stern warning to never do this again (not that they hadn't learned their lesson already), the boys ran back along the path to Hammelburg.
All was quiet now as the trio took a moment to recover from what had happened. After making sure that they were all okay, and that the radio parts had, miraculously, survived the adventure just as they had, they headed back to Stalag 13.
"Wonder what the Guv'nor will think of this mission report," Newkirk said, wryly.
"If you ask me, he will not believe a word of it," said LeBeau.
"Oh, I don't know," said Carter. "The colonel is very understanding…"
He trailed off as a single ghost light appeared near them, just within the boundary of the cemetery. The three soldiers exchanged the briefest of glances and tore down the path, the only sounds for the remainder of the journey being their own running feet.