A serial fiction story for your enjoyment
written by James Rada, Jr.
Navy seaman Brian Johnson and the nine other sailors looked around at where the army truck had dropped them off apparently in the middle of nowhere. They were in the woods standing in front of what looked to be a log cabin a long way away from a place one would expect to find a sailor. This was like no other military camp Brian had ever seen. Then again, since this group of sailors had been dressed in Army fatigues, nothing was as it appeared.
That was certainly true for Brian, too.
“Fall in!” Lt. Harcourt ordered.
The 10 sailors formed a line in front of the lieutenant, facing the cabin. The lieutenant then walked down the line and handed each sailor a pin with a name on it. The one he handed Brian read, “Adam.”
“Pin them on your shirts. That is how you will be known from now on,” the lieutenant said. “Do not share personal information, including your real names, with anyone here, even the officers.”
A tall, broad-shouldered man walked out the door and stood on the front porch staring at the men. He wore no insignia on his own fatigues. He didn’t need to. It was obvious he was in command. It showed in the way he carried himself.
“Attention!” Lt. Harcourt said.
The sailors straightened up.
“Welcome to what we call, Camp B,” the commander said. “My name is Colonel Smith. It is not my real name. It may not even by my real rank. No one here is to know your real names. The names you have been given will be how you are known. Learn them. Remember them. Respond to them. This is for your safety and the safety of your fellow recruits. What you don’t know, you can’t tell the enemy. As for any rank you may have had before you came here, it no longer exists. I am your commander and you are my recruits and will be referred to as such.
“You men have all volunteered to become members of the Office of Strategic Services. We have been tasked with intelligence gathering, resistance training, and sabotage of our nation’s enemies.”
Brian nearly chuckled. It took all he could do to keep from smiling. What were the chances that one spy agency would recruit a spy from another agency?
“The things you will learn here will prepare you to operate behind enemy lines. Some things you will be familiar with from your basic training, but other skills are outside of the purview of the military, which is why we operate in conjunction with but not as part of the military.
“The work will be grueling and challenging, both physically and mentally. If you succeed in your training, you be part of your nation’s secret weapon.
“The lieutenant will show you the grounds and your quarters. Acclimate yourself to where everything is today. Tomorrow morning your training begins.”
He saluted. The men returned the salute. Then, Col. Smith turned and walked back into what Brian assumed was his office and quarters.
This was an opportunity for Brian to serve the Fatherland, but only if he could find a way to relay what he learned to his superiors. That seemed very unlikely at the moment. He did not even know where he was, let alone how he would contact anyone.
The lieutenant marched the men over to the quartermaster building where they were issued clothes and hygiene items. They were then taken to a larger building that 12 bunks inside along the walls.
Each man took a bunk and laid the pile of items the quartermaster had issued them on the mattress.
Lt. Harcourt then walked them around the camp and pointed out various buildings; the mess hall, the latrine, the classroom, armory, and a few others. One building off by itself was called he called “the spook house,” although he didn’t elaborate on what it was. Another area was a training area made of telephone poles with cables and nets strung between them.
Brian didn’t notice any fences, but that could have that Harcourt didn’t take them near the edges of the camp. He did see patrols of soldiers walking around, and he wondered how many men were stationed at this camp.
Just how many spies and guerrillas was the United States training?
Brian knew one thing, though, they were going to tell their secrets to one German spy.
The next morning he began his training along with the other recruits. He was given a sledgehammer and sent to break up a pile of small boulders into gravel. He didn’t see the point of it. He wanted to object that it was a waste of time, but he went to work on the pile. He wasn’t the only one working at it. There were multiple piles of boulders that they pounded with their sledgehammers.
The recruits tried to talk to each other, but the work was grueling. He soon had his shirt off as it was soaked in sweat. Brian felt like he was a convict on a chain gang.
Other than taking breaks for meals and water that was all he did for the first day. He was in fit condition, but the next day his shoulders and back ached, and he had blisters on his hands.
“Do you all hurt this morning?” Lt. Harcourt asked when he saw them in the morning.
When the recruits in Brian’s group admitted they were sore, the captain said, “Get used to it. The rocks were just to show you how monotonous the work you can do might be. It requires patience and focus… and preparedness. If someone had attacked you while you were doing the work yesterday, how do you think you would have fared?”
Brian had to admit that he doubted he could have fought anyone off, especially near the end of the day.
“My job is to help you survive whatever may come your way. You will learn unorthodox fighting as well as code breaking, safecracking, and explosives. We will train both your body and mind, and both will be better for it at the end your time here.”
Their next work was on the firing range where their instructor showed them a variety of weapons from standard military handguns and rifles to machine guns and derringers. The derringer was small, but it was easily concealed and could be useful in close combat fighting. It was not a soldier’s weapon.
Brian kept looking for chances to get away from his group and explore the camp, but they were hard to come by. At lunch, he excused himself to use the latrine.
He was walking by the commandant’s building when he heard someone talking inside. He paused near the open window trying to look nonchalant. He looked around to make sure no one was near and moved closer to the building.
“Yes, sir, I’ll see that it’s done,” one man said.
“How much rearranging of the schedule will it require?” the commandant asked.
There was a pause. “Some. We’ll just close the firing range and explosives area for a few days, although I think we can still use the spook house. It’s indoors and on the other side of the camp from the President’s compound.”
President? Was he talking about President Roosevelt? What President’s compound? They weren’t anywhere near Washington. At least he didn’t think so. Washington wasn’t so forested.
“That is acceptable.”
“Once he leaves on Sunday, we will just concentrate on the training we had to postpone while he was here.”
“Good. President Roosevelt comes to the mountain to rest and get away from the politicians in Washington. He doesn’t need to hear a lot of gunfire and explosions,” Col. Smith said.
Brian stepped away from the building and hurried on. He had heard enough. He knew that President Roosevelt was coming to stay somewhere near enough that gunfire would disturb him. He also knew the President would be here soon and staying until Sunday. That gave Brian a small window of opportunity.
He knew what he can do to further the cause. Kill Roosevelt.