Author's note: A short three-chapter set of missing and extra scenes for the episode "Reservations Are Required" that I wrote back in March.
Chapter 1: First Hour
I sigh heavily as the heavy solid cooler door closes behind me with an iron whine, hearing next the loud clank of the lock turning just as I turn around to look at that now-bolted door. I also hear a second door clanging shut just across the corridor: that's my best buddy, Corporal Jim Davis, being locked into his cell. Next I hear the guards' booted footsteps tramp back down the hallway and climb the stairs, and then the distant slam of the building door. It's quiet in the cooler now. Real quiet.
"Barnes?" Davis's voice is kinda muffled by the walls and heavy metal doors between us, but I can hear it well enough to make out okay what my friend said.
"Yeah?" I call back.
"Can you explain to me exactly why we're in here, hunh? I mean, one minute we're standing around the compound with nothing to do, then we're part of a diversion – and I hardly know what we were diverting attention from – and then the colonel calls us into the barrack and dumps a bucket of water on each of us, and next thing we're being marched in here. And jeez, it's cold and I'm completely soaked!"
I sigh again. I'm sopping wet too, courtesy the bucket of water Colonel Hogan dumped over me – though at least I had a moment's warning, having seen the Colonel throw the first bucket over Davis. Not that knowing it was coming really helped. Davis's heavy flight jacket probably shielded him from the water somewhat better than my own cloth coat did, but that wet leather is going hold the water longer. Either way, we're both going to be wet – and cold – for hours. The one good thing is that most of the water landed on my head and chest, so my boots didn't get too wet and my feet are pretty dry.
"I mean, why us?" Davis continues plaintively.
"I think we were just the closest ones to the door when he called us."
"Then next time we're helping in a diversion, let's be sure we're on the far side of the group from the colonel, okay?" Davis is apparently dripping sarcasm as well as water.
"You got it. Look, we'd better keep walking around these cells," I advise. "If we sit down, we'll get our mattresses and blankets wet, and we'll just get even colder. So keep moving. We'll dry out faster that way."
"Yeah, it'll only take six hours, instead of seven or eight," Davis grouses.
We're silent for a while. I discover that I have room to make five steps each direction before having to turn and come back. I've always wished I was taller, but for once I'm blessing my own shorter height. Davis has a good five inches on me, and since most of that height is in his legs, my lanky friend can probably only make four steps in his cell.
Five steps and turn. Five steps and turn. Five steps and turn.
I can't count the number of times I've lain on my bunk and watched Colonel Hogan pace back and forth in the barrack when he's been frustrated over something that hasn't turned out right or when he's waiting on news. Unlike the Colonel, though, pacing like this has never come naturally to me: I just don't have my C.O.'s restless nature. My Ma has always called me her calm and sensible boy, which is about right, and I'm usually able to wait out problems without getting too twisted up inside over them. But right now pacing is the only hope I have to keep warm, so pace I do, making myself walk and turn and walk and turn, over and over again in the small stone cell.
I can't help thinking about what got us into this mess – the twenty escaped guys from Stalag 9 who've been holed up with us for the past couple of days. The Colonel's operation has never had so many escaped prisoners to handle at once: we all just about fell over in surprise when LeBeau told us how many of them there were. Kinch, Newkirk, and Carter have been working round the clock and pushing all the teams hard to get the clothes and papers ready for a quick departure for all twenty of them, while LeBeau has been pilfering, organizing, and stretching the food he cooks to cover twenty extra mouths.
Me, I'm not high skilled, so I'm not on any one team; I float and just do whatever needs doing. So I've been assigned a lot of odd jobs to help get this big bunch of guys ready to go. I'm not great with a needle, but Newkirk has taught me how to baste hems for him, to save him and the other tailors time so they can do the fancy work. And I've spent time helping Kinch organize the forged papers into batches so each man would have the whole set he needed. I was part of the group that carried dinner last night and breakfast this morning down to the tunnel for all those guys to eat, and then carried the dishes back up afterwards and got them washed. And of course I took my turns as lookout. We've all worked really hard to get those guys ready to go out – and in record time too.
So I can still hardly believe that two of the Stalag 9 guys could have been so stupid as to jeopardize the safe getaway of all their fellow escapees – not to mention risking the lives of all of us at Stalag 13 who're helping them. But Braden looked like trouble to me from the first time he came up from the tunnel into Barrack 2. I mean, challenging the Colonel the way he did! And Mills is thick as thieves with him. If anyone was going to make trouble, it was those two, and they sure did.
And now Davis and I are paying for their idiocy.
I wonder what's going on right now back in Barrack 2. I suppose Colonel Hogan is dealing with the aftermath of the supposed escape attempt.
After thinking about that for a moment, I call over to Davis, "You know there are worse situations to be in than this."
"Oh yeah? How?" Davis demands. He sounds even more steamed than earlier, not cooled off at all.
"We could be those two guys from the tunnel that the colonel used us to cover for."
"And just how are they worse off? They aren't locked freezing wet in the cooler!"
"No, they're facing the Colonel at the moment."
A long moment's silence. Then Davis's voice cuts through the quiet chill.
"Yeah, you're right. I think I'd rather be in here."