That night, Hogan, Newkirk, and Carter, dressed as civilians, left the camp, and headed out to try and retrieve the watch. We were not told how they planned on doing this, but just to wait in the tunnels and to try and keep busy.
Keeping busy was the last thing on my mind while we waited for the three to return. Thoughts of complications and what could possibly go wrong kept swimming through my head. My nerves were making me a wreck. This led me to talk…constantly.
"What if this Swiss guy cleaned out his safe and left?" I was bothering Kinch at the moment. LeBeau has already grabbed Ruth to exchange memories of Paris or something.
"If that happens, we'll come up with another plan." Kinch was too polite to ditch me, but I could see he was getting annoyed.
"You have contacts in Switzerland?" I asked. Realizing that was a dumb question, I apologized.
'Look…I know you're nervous. Why don't you go to bed?"
It was 10 o'clock.
"Would you be able to sleep if you were in our predicament? Actually, I bet you stay up all hours when some of you are out on a mission."
Kinch turned and gave me a small smile. "You're correct. It's hard waiting around." He then went back to cleaning his equipment.
I decided then to forget about the mission and conduct some research. Hopefully, I would get some answers.
"Was this operation started on purpose or by accident?"
Kinch turned to me again and asked, "What do you mean on purpose or by accident?"
"Did the Allies set this up beforehand and drop Colonel Hogan in, or did he…um…seize the opportunity?" I asked.
"Okay." I tried to think of another question, but was interrupted by one of the medics.
"We could use your help, ma'am…while you're waiting."
"Of course." Thanking Kinch, I followed the medic back into the tunnels. Everything seemed quiet. I surmised the medics were trying to keep me busy.
I spied Ruth handing out more blankets. "Here, you can help," she said as soon as she saw me.
"No problem." I took a pile of the itchy woolen blankets and started to tuck some of the men in.
"I heard you may be leaving us, ma'am," one of them said. He propped himself up on his arm.
"Hopefully. We don't belong here."
"No, ma'am." He replied. "But it's been nice having you here."
I couldn't help but smile. "Thanks. Here put this up to your chin. It's chilly."
"The dogs are down!" Ruth said happily. We both rushed over and were greeted by wet kisses.
"Come on," I said after LeBeau deposited them in our care. "Over here." I patted my thigh and they obediently followed. After getting them settled, Ruth and I went over to our cots.
"Should we get changed?" She whispered.
"I think that's putting the horse before the cart. Don't you think?"
"If they don't come back with the watch…I think I'll have a nervous breakdown," she answered.
"Join the club."
We were interrupted by the arrival of Captain Stein. "How are you two making out?" he asked jovially.
Ruth shrugged and I mumbled, "fine, I guess."
"Well, tomorrow we are moving a few more men up top. Thanks to your care, and with the help of the dogs, I think we are making some extra progress. Woman's touch!" He winked.
We accepted the chauvinistic compliment nicely. No point in dealing with sexism in this time period. Besides, I do think we had helped.
"I know you two are antsy. Do you want something to help you sleep? There's no telling when they'll be back."
Not willing to take any chances with 1940's pharmaceuticals, I declined, as did Ruth.
"Good. I don't believe in taking medicine if it's not necessary. But do let me know if you need anything. I'll be down here all night."
We thanked the captain and tried to get comfortable, but it was colder than the previous night. So cold and damp, that Ruth and I ended up on the same cot to try to keep warm. LeBeau took pity on us.
"You poor things. So cold. Come up. We'll sneak you into the colonel's office. It's warmer up there.
I protested. "You know what Colonel Hogan said. We need to stay below."
Ruth agreed, although she was shivering. "Too dangerous," she chattered. "Not for the whole night."
"No. Don't be concerned. We've hid all sorts of people in that room. Besides, when he comes back with the watch, you'll have to change back into your cute pajamas."
Kinch had overheard part of the conversation and gave his okay. "Go ahead. Can't have you two coming down with pneumonia. You'll blab to the others about how we didn't take care of you properly." He smiled.
With Kinch's okay, we gave in and headed up top. It appeared, like us, the men in the barracks were nervously waiting for the team to return. Despite the hour, no one was asleep. Several were reading in their bunks, reminding me of my youth, when I would be up way past my bedtime, using a flashlight to read under my covers. There were plenty flashlights to go around. A couple of men were playing solitaire, while a game of candlelight gin was going on at the table.
LeBeau hustled us into the office and pointed to the bunks.
"They were trying to share one narrow cot to keep warm," LeBeau explained to the two officers using the top two bunks.
"Sorry to disturb you," Ruth apologized. "But they insisted we wait here."
"No problem, ma'am." One of the officers hopped down, handing us his extra blanket.
I checked out the bottom bunk. "We can fit together on the bottom," I said. "It's wider." And so, here we were, sharing Hogan's quarters with two lieutenants. Eventually, we dozed off.
" Ladies, wake up. They're back."
LeBeau was shaking us both awake. Ruth and I jumped off the bunk, narrowly missing bumping our heads. The lieutenants in the two upper bunks followed.
"Does he have it?" Ruth asked LeBeau.
"Don't know. I just got word from one of the lookouts that they were heading towards the tree stump. Stay in here."
The lieutenants, who did not know we were from the future, followed LeBeau out of the office.
Not wanting to get changed, Ruth and I paced around the office for several minutes.
A moment later, he returned with a broad grin on his face. "I told you they wouldn't let you down."
"Oh, thank you." I started crying in relief, as I gave the Frenchman a hug.
Olsen poked his head in. "You ladies may want these." He handed us our pajamas. "Get changed. They'll be right up."
"Everyone clear the barracks," I heard Hogan order. Through the door, we could hear the men drop down from their bunks. It became really quiet and then there was a knock at the door.
"Evening," Hogan said, as we let him in.
He was standing there, a broad grin on his face. Kinch, Olsen, LeBeau, Newkirk, and Carter were behind him. Hogan and his team had taken the time to put their uniforms back on.
"Oh, thank you. I hope it wasn't too difficult." I said.
"Not too hard, ma'am," Carter said.
"Just a few close calls," Newkirk added.
Hogan glanced at our pajamas. "You two ready to go home?"
"Yes," we both said.
He handed over the watch and the pin. "Set it. Oh, and before you go. One order. Don't send this out to anyone. Please."
"Colonel, I swear I won't send this out to anyone. I promise."
He nodded. The next moment was a bit awkward as I prepared to set the watch back to the time we left my house.
"Um, thanks for your hospitality," Ruth broke ranks and gave LeBeau a hug.
"Merci, madame." He kissed the back of her hand.
Hogan held out his hand. "Thanks for your help down below."
I took his hand. "You be careful, okay? Bye guys." I waved.
"We are always careful," Hogan replied seriously. "And you two…have a nice life."
"Ugh. I call the shower!" was the first thing I said, once Ruth and I realized the watch had indeed worked, and we were back home.
"I need some real coffee." Ruth headed for the kitchen.
After we had cleaned ourselves up, we sat around the kitchen table and contemplated what had happened.
"I'm taking the watch and putting it in Mike's vise. Smoosh."
"Are you sure you really want to do that?" Ruth asked.
"No." I was being honest. I sighed.
"Still want to file an FOIA request?" Ruth asked. (freedom of information act)
"Definitely. I want to find out what happened. It's crazy, that after all the research I've done, there's no mention of the sub camp, the operation, the men. Nothing. They've kept it under wraps. And considering the CIA was involved when the original time travelers returned, I'm not surprised. I just hope they all survived the war."
"Maybe," Ruth said. "Maybe we should notify the CIA that there are other watches out there." Ruth and I had already figured that out. I had no plans to send the watch to anyone, and since Hogan had said people had dropped in before us, there had to be other watches involved. That was the only logical explanation.
"Well. Starting to poke around should gain their attention. Don't you think?" I was almost gleeful at the prospect.
"Oh, yeah!" Ruth rubbed her hands together. "I love a nice juicy mystery! We can start tomorrow."
"Yes." I bent down and gave my dog the last piece of my sandwich. "Tomorrow."
I'm not sending the watch to anyone. Hogan doesn't need any more of this, and our little trip was terrifying, and uncomfortable. WW2 is bad enough in the movies and in books. Don't go.
But…It is obvious that other watches exist. I mean, Oboe found one in a collection, I recall. So there has to be more out there that are found by us authors. And some of you do show up, as Hogan said. So anyone is free to continue the story.
And: We still don't know what happened to the operation and if they survived. We don't know what Hogan did when he was in the future (besides watching a little TV), nor how he and Klink got back. Obviously something made Klink forget about all the women, and the fiasco that took place in the original story. Hogan doesn't recall being in the future. So those questions remain to be answered. So…who's next to take this up?