By Robert Dean

This story takes place somewhere along the coast of Norway.  Yes, I said Norway, but not the Norway that you and I have read about in our geography books or studied in history. It’s changed now. They aren’t the peaceful people that used to live there.  The mountains that were once so peaceful are filled with terror.  The fishing boats that sailed lazily around now lie at anchor or on patrol out at sea somewhere.

Let’s wander through a little town somewhere near the coast.  It’s called “Tynset.” At least it was called that before the war.  Now, well, now it’s just another town under Nazi domination.  Let’s stop in the middle of this town.  There seems to be some excitement going on around the town square.  As we mingle among the crowd, the men folk stand rigid, looking straight ahead as if there was some magnetic force pulling them.  The women stand around crying, sobbing, holding tightly their young ones, afraid of somebody taking them.  As we get closer to the center, a horrible sight meets our eyes.

Standing there are eight men and three women, stripped to the waist,with their hands tied above their heads to a beam, and their feet are nailed to the ground by heavy spikes.  The rope at the top is being pulled tighter and tighter and as this was being done, they are being whipped.  At the side of one clung a child only a year old, screaming as its mother was being tortured.  We have reached the front of the crowd.  If you dared to go any closer, you would have been machine-gunned right there on the spot.

But let’s leave the butcher place and sneak up a side street.  It’s growing dark out and it’s hard to make out faces.  As you pass by people, they never even glance at you, just keep staring straight ahead and go on about their business.  The houses are built very close together with thin, dark alleys in-between them and with death lurking in many.  Very few houses have light on and the ones that do are very dim.

Hold on, here is the house where we’re supposed to go.  This house is the head of the underground.  This is where the guerillas get their orders.  We give the secret knock.  There’s some confusion inside, and then the door opens.  It’s a beautiful young girl who opens the door.  She wears a dark pair of men’s pants and a clean white shirt which looks rather small for her.  She looks about sixteen.  After a warm welcome, we are told to walk down a long hall.  Passing by many doors, we finally entered one.  It is a rather large room but very dimly lighted.  There is one kerosene lantern hanging from the middle of the ceiling and two small ones from the far wall.  There’s a long white table standing in the middle of the room.  Seated around it are men and women of all ages.  They look up.  For a moment I stand staring and I can feel my face turn red.  I must look like a lost lamb in the middle of nowhere.

Finally, a man who was sitting at the far end of the table stands up and smiles at me.  “Come sit down and join us,” he says with a welcoming voice. “ We’ve been expecting you.”  At this, everybody who had been so strange and quiet starts talking as if nothing had happened.  I am offered a seat next to this very handsome young man whom I later found is wanted by the Nazis for helping in some escape in which several Nazis soldiers have been killed.  We start talking about many things that have changed since the war last started and how far the Germans are going to get before they will be exterminated from the face of the earth.  We talk for about twenty minutes. Then the meeting is called to order.  Being just a visitor, I sit and listen.  Different people are given jobs to do.  I remember one assignment. Everybody has to draw numbers to see who will do it.  It is a suicide mission, at least as far as I can see.  It is a job which needs courage to do and it falls upon a young man from twenty five to thirty.  As a man at the head of the table reads off the jobs that have to be done, people put up their hands to volunteer.  Another job that has to be done is this: someone has to help the commandos who are expected tonight. They need two people, so the chap who I have been talking with says he will do it if someone will help him, so brave little I say I would help him.  Here I am in the middle of a far-off country that has been invaded, and I am helping get rid of the invaders.

The meeting is adjourned soon afterwards, and people begin filing into the hall that I came down.  I get up with the other fellow and he says we will stay in his room, til it is time to go, so we go out of the room through a sort of back door. It leads down a staircase that seems everlasting.  It begins to get damper and damper.  Soon we come to a long narrow passage.  We stop for minute and the start of it is almost pitch dark and you can’t see your nose in front of you.  Soon we start a long incline.  I can see a light ahead.  Soon we are in a sort of chamber. It has solid rock walls and the ceiling is also rock.  There is a small window close to the ceiling with a ladder leading up to it.  On the floor is some straw bedding and a blanket.  “Well, here we are,” the fellow says. “By the way, what’s your name?  I forgot to ask you before.”

“Well, I’ll tell you who I am.  I’ve been sent here by the U.S. government to see how brutal these Nazis really are.  You can call me Mr. Smith.  What’s yours?”

“Call me Mr. Lucus.”

“O.K. Now that we know each other, how do we go about our job?

“At 12:30 tonight we’re supposed to meet the commandos, about one half mile down the coast.

“How are we supposed to get out of here without being seen?

“That ladder you see leading up is the way out.  When you get outside, you’ll find yourself in a clump of trees.  About 200 yards away, there’ll be a path going to the shore.  All we have to do is to tell the commandos that everything is all right and hand them this envelope, and they’ll do the rest.  But be on the lookout for Nazi soldiers. They patrol the coast for miles.  So in the meantime, let’s get some sleep.

At twelve we are climbing up the ladder.  It is dark, no moon or stars.  It rained just a little while ago, so it is an excellent night for the  commandos to come.

“Let’s hurry.” We’ve only got 30 minutes.”

“O.K.” The path is well worn and the shrubbery is bent and knocked down  along the sides.  We have been walking for about twenty minutes when Lucus suddenly stops.

“What’s the matter?”

“There’s somebody down the path.  Step over behind that tree and when that person comes up, you attack him from the rear.”

Mr. Lucus waits in the middle of the path for the unknown to show up.  It                   wasn’t long before a Nazi soldier came marching up.  He stops Lucus with his flashlight.

“Halt! What are you doing here?  Don’t you know that no one is        allowed down here.?

“I just thought I would take a walk

“Come with me and we’ll find out what kind of walk you’re going on.” There is a little commotion behind the Nazi and then a hand reaches out.

“Don’t move if you don’t want to get a knife in your back.”

Lucus reaches in his pocket and takes out a long piece   of string.

“Here’s how we dispose of rats like you.”  He wraps the string around the Nazi’s neck.  It has two handles to it.  He gives one end to Mr. Smith and tells him to pull.  They both jerk at the same time and the string cuts through the Nazi’s neck.  His head sort of wobbles to one side, then falls off and the rest of the body stands there, rigid.  The commandos get through all right and Mr. Smith goes back to England to tell just how much the people of the conquered countries are doing.  Another step toward freedom.

Posted in: 1943 Stories

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