A serial fiction story for your enjoyment

written by James Rada, Jr.

3: Planning

A hand shook Brian Johnson’s shoulder, and he opened his eyes. The first thing he realized was that it was still night. The second thing he realized was that Lt. Harcourt was standing beside him.

“You have five minutes to get ready and be out front,” the lieutenant said. “Don’t turn on the lights or wake the others.”

Brian rolled out of his bunk in the OSS training camp and scrambled to get his clothes on in the dark. No one else was moving. He was the only recruit in this building being ordered to get dressed and report outside.

Had someone discovered Brian was a German spy? If so, they might be preparing to interrogate him.

He didn’t have any weapons on him he could use to defend himself. Ironically, he would have to use the skills he was being taught as a U.S. spy and guerilla fighter to escape from this camp if need be.

Lt. Harcourt glanced at his watch when Brian came out of the building. “You now have 10 minutes to get to the spook house. You’ll have to run to make it in time. Go.”

Brian took a second to absorb the unexpected order and orient himself to where the building called the spook house was located. He took off running in the dark and quickly realized he couldn’t run at full speed or he was likely to trip. What little moonlight was out was being obscured by the trees around the camp. He jogged in the right direction, trying to remember where the trails were so he wouldn’t chance tripping on a stone or root.

He cut it close, but he made it on time. He stopped in front of a soldier standing at the door.

“Recruit Adam,” Brian said, using the name the OSS had given him when he had first been brought here. “I was told to report.”

The soldier said nothing. He knocked on the door. When a voice inside said, “Enter,” he opened the door and waved Brian inside.

Brian walked into a dimly lit room. A captain sitting at a desk said, “Recruit, inside this building, you will find Nazi soldiers hiding.” Nazis. Real Nazis? It couldn’t be. “Your job is to eliminate them before they eliminate you.” The captain laid a .45 pistol and two clips of bullets on the desk. “This is what you’ll use.”

Brian picked up the pistol. He loaded one clip and put the other one in his pocket. This had to be a test of some kind.

“Recruit, there may be others in there, as well, be careful to not shoot any innocents,” the captain said.

The captain motioned to the door behind him. Brian walked over, took a deep breath, and entered the room.

The hallway he found himself in was dark except for a dim light showing at the end about 15 feet away. He started forward, only to realize the floor wobbled beneath him. He balanced himself and moved forward more cautiously so as not to twist an ankle.

He held his pistol at the ready, unsure of what to expect. He paused at the end of the hallway and swung around the corner. He saw a small empty room with a single light on. A paper target made of the photograph of a German soldier popped up from the ground. Brian fired twice as he had been taught. The target didn’t move, but he saw the bullet holes in it.

He moved from room to room, checking doors, and treading carefully in case a trap door opened beneath his feet. As the targets popped up or swung out from the walls, he fired at them.

In the last room, he saw a dummy dressed as a German soldier, sitting in a chair and holding a lighted cigarette in his hand. Brian fired twice and went out the door behind the soldier.

He was back in the original room.

“Very good, Recruit Adam.”

“Thank you, sir.”

The pistol was still in Brian’s waistband. He had been hoping to find a weapon to use to kill President Roosevelt when he visited the area. This might be it.

Then the officer said, “Leave your weapon here and return to your bunk.”

Brian hid his dismay. He removed his pistol, ejected the clip, and set both the clip and pistol on the desk.

“By the way, if you hadn’t shot the dummy at the end, you would have failed this test no matter how well you did throughout the rest the spook house,” the officer said. “You must be willing to kill or you will be killed.”

Brian had nothing to say to that. He was quite aware of the need. It had already been taught to him.

“Don’t say anything to anyone else about what, happened here this evening. You’re dismissed.”

Brian headed back to his bunk, climbed under the wool blanket, and quickly fell asleep.

He dreamed of how he could execute his plan. Not having a weapon was his first concern. Weapons were kept in the armory and accounted for when not in use. If he couldn’t find a firearm or an explosive, he would need to get close to the president to stab him.

Brian would have to find the presidential retreat and get into the area. He knew from Col. Smith’s phone call that it had to be away from the spook house but close enough to the firing range for the shots to be heard. Brian would start searching near there. He would need to sneak away from his other recruits, perhaps making detours on the way to use the latrine.

Once he had answered both questions, he would go hunting.

The next morning before breakfast, Brian decided to take a run. It was unusual given the extent of the physical training they were undergoing, but it wasn’t something that was disallowed. Also, it gave him a chance to be alone.

He checked his watch to figure out when he needed to be back so as not to create unreasonable suspicion. He started jogging through the camp along the established roads and trails. Between the camp buildings and the camp entrance when he was out of sight of everyone, he veered off and started searching for a fence line. Even if the training camp didn’t have one, he was sure the presidential property would.

He found it about ten minutes later. It was a long section of wire fencing. He stopped running and approached it. He listened for any humming and heard nothing. So he darted his finger out to touch one of the strands of wire. It wasn’t electrified. He didn’t think it would be, but he had to be sure.

He ran along the edge of the fence trying to find some sign of the president’s home of the other side. He heard voices and stopped. He squatted down and watched for movement. He saw Marines walking along a path, patrolling the property on the other side.

This had to be the president’s property. Brian would need to add shears or a hatchet to his list of needs. He had to find a way to cut through the fence, but he wanted to make sure he knew where he was going on the other side.

He was running out of time.

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