A/N: I don't own Hogan's Heroes, and I don't get paid for this; it is truly a labor of love.
A whisper of snow touched the cold window, and I had to shiver a bit. The train compartment itself wasn't all that cold, but just seeing those few snowflakes made me realize that winter would soon set in.
I couldn't hardly believe what had happened over the past two weeks, and no wonder. I was darn lucky to have run into somebody from the Underground after I tunneled my way out of Stalag 5. But it sure was a surprise when he told me to meet some guy from Stalag 13! I mean, I just got out of one camp, and now I was going to get captured again?
The guy from Stalag 13 hadn't stopped to explain it to me, he just quickly exchanged jackets and caps with me and then took off, leaving me to face the dogs, and the searchlights, and the armed guards.
But being captured a second time wasn't so bad, on account of being right outside the prison camp and all. I just got hauled inside and the Krauts assumed I was Olsen, the guy I switched clothes with. I wasn't real impressed with their powers of observation, that was for sure.
After that, things moved really fast. I got outfitted with civilian clothes, maps, money, and identity papers. I even got a German haircut—at least that's what Corporal LeBeau called it—and Colonel Hogan briefed me on where to go and who I had to meet.
The Colonel sure seemed like a nice guy; in fact, they all did—except for that Kraut informer, of course, and he didn't count. And I was real grateful to them, 'cause without their help I was pretty sure no way I was gonna make it to England. Sure, thanks to Grandma and Grandpa Breitmeyer, I can speak German, but finding my way across a strange country in wartime, without some kind of preparation, would have been darn near impossible.
So while that Wagner guy was making a fool of himself with the visiting Krauts, trying to expose Colonel Hogan's operation—and getting himself a one-way ticket to the Russian front as a result—I managed to climb in the back of Oskar Schnitzer's dog truck.
Sergeant Kinchloe handed me my suitcase and Colonel Hogan wished me luck, and then the door was slammed shut, and I was off.
Schnitzer took me to the train station at Schweinfurt, 'cause taking the train from Hammelburg would've been too risky. On the ride to Hamburg I had plenty of time to think about the last few days, and as I sat in the compartment watching the snowflakes, I was thinking so hard that I almost missed the conductor announcing the station.
Fortunately the jolly little old guy had a heck of a loud voice, and I almost fell off my seat as he sounded off in the passageway. I grabbed my suitcase, put on my hat, and got off the train.
I just had time to catch the next train to Oldenburg, and I had to wonder how Sergeant Kinchloe knew the train schedules so well. I wondered even more how the heck Corporal Newkirk managed to get hold of the tickets. Well, like I told the Colonel, it was a fantastic operation!
I got off the train for good in Oldenburg and had a look around. The place was pretty deserted at that time of night, except for another old guy hanging around the station platform. Germany seemed to be full of old guys—I guess the young guys were all off fighting in Russia or somewhere. This particular old guy had his eye on me, and with a slight jerk of his head, let me know that I was supposed to follow him.
I met up with him out back of the station in a gloomy alley, and the old guy (who went by the name of Klaus) had me jump in the back of a awfully decrepit-looking truck.
The truck wasn't empty, though, not by a long shot. There were two guys huddled there, and they seemed almost as surprised to see me as I was to see them. I started to ask them a question in German, but from the blank looks on their faces I figured out that they were downed fliers like me. So I apologized and introduced myself in English.
The older of the two said his name was Captain Tucker, and the other guy was Lieutenant Fitch. They were both American, shot down over Bremerhaven and lucky enough not to get captured; they'd been spotted by the Underground right away and hidden until the sub rendezvous was fixed up.
It seemed to me that the guys in the sub were real lucky or real brave; probably both. They were gonna surface just off the coast north of Emden, and there were bound to be plenty of Kraut subs patrolling the area. And just to pick up three American fliers! Made me feel kinda guilty, actually.
But the ride in the truck didn't take long, and soon we all hopped out to find ourselves somewhere in the countryside on the banks of a canal. Klaus told us we would meet with another guy named Kurt—the guy who would be rowing us out to the sub—but he would wait with us until this Kurt guy showed up.
So that left the four of us standing there in the cold. The snowflakes I had noticed earlier had changed to an icy mist, and in that mist we could hear the spooky sound of a boat approaching in the dark, with oars dipping in the water.
I held my breath, 'cause this might not be the guy we were supposed to meet. But soon we could hear a low whistle, and we all went to the bank of the canal. Kurt tossed us a rope, which Fitch caught neatly even though it was so dark.
Kurt climbed onto the bank and stared at us. "There are three of them," he said to Klaus, and he didn't sound too happy about it.
"So?" said Klaus. "Is that a problem?"
"Two I can take to the sub. Not three. The boat is not that big, and the sea grows rough."
Fitch and Tucker looked at each other, and then they looked at me. They looked real worried because we couldn't all go, but I had this strange, bubbly, excited feeling inside.
You see, ever since I got into Schnitzer's dog truck I had a feeling that there was something wrong with me going off to England like that. But everybody had worked so hard to get me ready for the great escape and I couldn't let all that work go to waste, so off I went.
Still, I knew somehow that I belonged with that crazy bunch at the stalag. I knew that I could help Colonel Hogan with his operation, and not just because I could speak German, either. It was because I understood what the Colonel was trying to do, something that nobody else could do: support the Allied effort from behind enemy lines. And I wanted to do that too.
So I had to grin as those two looked at me, not knowing what to do.
"You guys go ahead," I told them. "I got a feeling they need me back at Stalag 13."