Lieutenant Karl Schneider, Germany, 1941

Lieutenant Karl Schneider, Germany, 1941

A Story by Lee Maddison
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The second of two one off stories I've written for my play group.

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Berlin, 1941
Lieutenant Karl Schneider, an SS operative specialising in covert operations, sat in the waiting room. A young man in his mid-twenties, he fully believed in the cause behind the expansion of Germany and her patrons. He had just been debriefed on his involvement in an incident in a little known French village, an incident that had nearly cost him his life. Luckily for him, even with the untimely arrival of the British soldiers he’d been able to make his escape and collect the artefact he’d been sent for, a small pendant said to hold the keys to the darkest corners of Hell itself. Having met Hel before he didn’t believe in such nonsense, he knew that it would take more than just a pendant to see into her soul. Karl was no fool; he knew what the reasons behind this war were. He knew of the Aesir and had been told that they were involved in a greater war amongst others of their kind, in a similar way to what was happening in this Second World War. And he liked it. The idea that the world could be rewritten for the better based on the whims of people; people like him, gave him every reason to fight. The door to the office opened, and a voice called for him to enter. It still unnerved him to this day when he was asked to report his efforts to his father. It wasn’t that Karl didn’t respect the man, on the contrary he did. It was just that his father was a cold person in more ways than one. The office was decorated in the same manner as al the offices of the inner circle, battle maps on the wall, swastika flags by the windows. And a man, older in more ways than one, sat behind an ancient wooden desk. The snow was still melting on the floor around his chair.
“Lieutenant Schneider reporting as ordered, sir.” Said Karl, snapping off a textbook salute to the fuehrer with practiced discipline.
“Thanks, my boy.” Said the officer, returning the salute, but with much less resolve. “Do me a favour will you and turn the heating up, it’s the middle of winter up near the Russian border.” He said, rubbing his hands. Although his uniform didn’t reveal it, the man was shaking a little, snow still falling from his leather boots. Karl went to the heating control, turning it up enough for it to be warm, but not uncomfortable.
“Ooh that’s good. Trust me on this one Karl; you don’t want to be up in the north right now. That’s bitter weather up there, even by my standards. Still, war is war and we can’t complain about the weather too much. We’re not British now are we?” he laughed a little at his own joke, a hearty laugh full of feeling, “Karl, sit down will you, and tell me what happened in France.”
Northern France, a few weeks ago
The weather was turning for the worse now, the sun having given way to rain which was now giving way to snow. The ground, muddy and soaked from the rain already was becoming steadily worse the further he worked his way into the country. Still if his mission was to be a success then it would have to be done. And his mission was important. Very important. Only a few days ago he’d been up in Berlin receiving what some would laughably call orders. To say that the orders were vague would have been an understatement: ‘Proceed to a village in the north of France, roughly 50 miles to the north east of Paris. Once there recover the Star of Hel and return to Berlin.’ There was an image attached to the orders, a copy of a piece of art from long forgotten times, which showed a beautiful woman with half her face missing wearing a pendant shaped like the northern star. He looked at the picture once again before returning it to the inside of his jacket. The sun was starting to set, and he didn’t want to be caught out in the open in the middle of the night, especially as he didn’t know where the enemy forces were. Concentrating for only the briefest of moments he started to run, accelerating past the point at which the human body could normally travel. He could see the village, his destination, in the distance. As long as he could make it there by nightfall he’d be fine.
The village was a mess, rubble and debris lying all around him. Buildings were missing walls; roofs had collapsed inwards or had been blown off into the middle of the street. The general amount of wreckage and destruction was unlike that which Karl was accustomed to when travelling through what should be a Nazi controlled area. If he didn’t know better he could have sworn that a tornado had ripped through the village, destroying everything in its path. But he knew it wasn’t, there was only one thing that could have done this. Artillery shelling. Walking through the ruined streets he noticed something hanging from the remains of a window, a scrap of cloth blowing in the evening air. As he came closer he discovered it to be the burned remains of the swastika, the flag and badge of the Nazi forces. There was now no question in his mind as to who had caused this.
“The British, when will they ever learn that they cannot stand in our way?”
 Karl murmured to himself. The sight of the burned flag reminded him of why he was here, that he had a job to do, a mission to complete. He could deal with the British another day, right now he had to find the pendant. Looking around the small village he made note of a few relevant buildings that could have stored it; the church, a local inn and what could have once been a ruling lord’s manor back before the internal disputes that led to the revolution years ago. Since the manor was the least damaged of the buildings he started there, taking care as he entered. It may have been the least damaged, but it didn’t mean it was the safest of buildings to be in. Withdrawing his luger pistol he made his way into the manor, wary for anyone or anything that could be in here. Karl wasn’t a paranoid man, he was just very careful when the enemy was this near. Quickly and as quietly as was possible he went through the house, looking for jewellery cases, safes built into walls and trap doors leading to cellars. Clichéd as it seemed to him, Karl had a fair understanding that if you were going to hide something as important as the Star then you weren’t going to leave it in plain view. After much searching he came to the library, by which time the light was so bad he’d had to start carrying a gas lamp he’d found in one of the bedrooms. Books were strewn around the room, though it didn’t look like the after-effects of the recent shelling but more like the upheaval that was left behind after someone had been searching through the room. He knew it had to be another person that had done this, having just recently ripped apart a four-poster bed with his own hands in search of the pendant. Holstering his pistol he started reading, hoping to learn what it was that the last person in here had been looking for, but also for the location of the Star.
The sound of an incoming shell awoke Karl from his slumber. Shaking off the groggy morning feeling from sleeping on a pile of books he looked around to get his bearings. He was still in the library, the rays of the early morning sun shining through one of the large windows and into the room. He picked up the book that he’d used as a pillow the night before; it had been the diary of one of the residents from some years ago. Luckily for Karl it held the whereabouts to the pendant he had to find. Looking out the window at the dawning of the day his eyes were drawn to a few small specs of darkness that seemed to be getting closer.
“You have got to be fricking kidding me!” he swore, nearly falling over a pile of books as he started running towards the door, any door. If the shell landed near the manor he’d be on for some big trouble, even though he could survive most things he didn’t want to test and see if he’d survive a building being dropped on top of him. Passing the kitchen on his way down a set of stairs he noticed a door, and not caring what was on the other side he dove through it, landing in a roll before running a little further into the surrounding tree line behind the manor. The shelling had started, though not on the manor as Karl had first worried about, but on the church. Not knowing much in the way of artillery tactics he didn’t know the reason behind this, and so he sat with his back to a tree and continued to read the diary.
The shelling lasted for the better part of the morning, with only a brief respite when the guns changed from shelling the church to shelling the manor. It was enough reason for Karl to move from his seated position, worried that a shell could easily catch him instead of the building. He ran, quick as he could out of the village and around the eastern side of it until he was no longer near enough the manor to be in immediate danger. Unfortunately the building he needed to get to was now in an even worse state than it had been the night before. He stepped into the church through the ruins of one of the walls; the damage from the shelling had made the building as structurally unsafe as was possible for it not to fall apart. Though a strong wind would have probably finished it off, Karl thought. He checked the diary once again;
I have given my mother’s necklace to my dearest sister, who now lives as a nun in the local church. I miss her dearly at times, but know that she is happy and content in the hands of Almighty God.”
The diary had was only a few years old, so maybe the woman hadn’t left when the fighting had broken out on her own doorstep. It wasn’t uncommon for the local peoples the stand in the way of the righteous cause that they were now part of, misguided as they were. Karl continued with his thoughts as he once again started to look through a rubble strewn building. It wasn’t until he came to stand behind the altar that he noticed something. Or, as the case was, someone lying in a doorway. Drawing his pistol once more he crept over towards the door, nudging it open with his foot. The body was that of a German infantryman, his legs crushed beneath some fallen masonry from what turned out to be a set of stairs leading to an upper floor. Although Karl at first wanted to just ignore the body there was something about it that struck him as odd; most basic soldiers were not allowed to wear jewellery of any kind. Reaching down to the man’s neck he pulled the collar open to reveal a golden chain, upon which hung a silver star. He’d found it, and now he could leave and return home. A sound caught his attention, or more to the point the lack of sound. The shelling had stopped, though for how long he couldn’t be certain. Picking up the dead man’s rifle he climbed his way to the second floor and to what looked like a storeroom for the church below. The sun had finally raised high enough into the clear blue sky, allowing anyone to see into the countryside for miles around the village. But it wasn’t the view in the distance that caught his immediate attention, beautiful as it may have been. A group of soldiers, no more than half a dozen men were walking up the street towards the church. Even from this short distance he could tell they weren’t German troops. They were British, calmly walking up into the ruined village they had destroyed over the last few days. Checking the rifle was loaded Karl braced himself against windowsill before taking careful aim at the man who seemed to be leading the group. He fired.
 
Berlin, a few hours into the meeting
His report given, Karl Schneider waited for the man before him to finish digesting it all. A lot had happened since the village in France, and he didn’t want to rush the old man in any way.
“Well, Lieutenant Schneider, I can see the task we sent you on was of greater danger than we had first believed. Still, good of you to have survived it, although next time make sure that no-one survives such an encounter with you. You don’t want to get yourself a nemesis, they can be a bloody pain to be rid of I years to come.”
“Thank you sir, I shall remember your advice. Speaking of which, sir, may I request an assignment that allows me to deal with this Captain whilst he is still in our reach?”
“I’m afraid not, the lucky Captain has been recalled to his country for a war meeting. Don’t look like that Karl, you’ll get your chance to kill him soon enough. In the mean time though, a mutual associate of ours believes it is time to end this war as quickly as possible, we don’t wish too many deaths on our hands.”
“I see sir. How may I be of service then?”
“Here, read this,” a bound folder was passed over to Karl, the words ‘The Ultimate Reich, Phase Three Operations’ and a ‘Top Secret’ stamp adorned the front of the binder. The older man stood up, moving towards the window that looked into Berlin itself, snow still crunching under his feet.
“We need more people like you Karl; this war cannot be won without you. One day you will be called upon to fight in greater battles, against superior opponents. I know you are up to the task now, but you are just one man. Inside that folder you will find a list of men and women that are exceptional in many ways, though none of them know what it is that makes them so unique. We want you to gather them together and train them in the ways of the war. Teach them to kill without being seen, to kill without thinking about it, and to prepare them for the days when the fighting can truly end. Do you think you can do that, my son?”
Karl sat, looking between the document before him and the painting of Hitler that adorned one of the walls. He sat and thought about all that he’d been told, all that he now knew about his past, his present and what could become of his future.
“Tell me one thing father.” He said, his voice betraying his outward look of calm.
“Certainly, Karl. You know you can ask me anything.”
“When do I start?”

© 2009 Lee Maddison


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Lee Maddison
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Added on April 27, 2009

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Lee Maddison
Lee Maddison

South Shields, United Kingdom



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Hello to one and all, and welcome to my little page here. I'm fairly new to both this site and to writing general. So, I'll give you a quick idea of who and what I am, followed by my actual work histo.. more..

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