It started as a normal day. Normal for a prisoner at least. Well, for us at least. Life is different here at Stalag 13. Like the secret tunnels underneath our barracks. Or the radio, where Kinch and Hogan were currently receiving a transmission from London. The rest of us were in the main room. LeBeau was trying to figure out what to make with this month's Red Cross packages, and Newkirk and I were playing cards.
"Schultz is coming!" Someone called from the window. Newkirk quickly got up and blocked the door when the large guard tried to get in.
"Let me in!" Schultz sang jovially.
"Not by the hairs of my chinny-chin-chin," LeBeau yelled back.
Schultz laughed, playing along. "Jolly jokers, let me in little pigs"
"We should be offended. 'E called us pigs." Newkirk smirked as Hogan and Kinch came through the hidden tunnel entrance.
"He's the one calling himself a wolf. He's the big bad wolf," Hogan replied as he quickly closed the bunk entrance and nodded to Newkirk to let Schultz in.
"Sergeant Carter...Where is he?" Schultz's face suddenly became almost sad.
I looked at Colonel Hogan as I stood from my place at the table. Hogan looked just as confused as me! I looked back at Schultz. I had no idea he wanted me. The Colonel? Well sure, but me? "Howdy, Schultz!" I waved making myself seen.
"Come with me," Schultz said very deliberately.
Newkirk sent me a concerned glance. "Why all business, Schultz? Sit down enjoy yourself! Come on mate, you know you want to..."
"No. I was told to get Carter. Now," Schultz interrupted, suddenly looking serious and stern. This was surprising because he almost never took things seriously, except when it was about food. Whatever this was, it was serious.
"Colonel?" I asked tilting my head. Why would anyone need me? I was just a sergeant. I was a nobody.
Hogan stood up, "Then let's go."
"No!" Schultz shouted blocking the exit, "I have been ordered to bring him alone."
I looked worriedly at the colonel.
Hogan looked accusingly at Schultz. "As senior prisoner of war officer, I have the right to-"
"Nein!" The guard yelled forcibly, then softening, "Please Colonel Hogan, the Kommandant has been in a very bad mood. Just let me follow my orders."
The Colonel gave a nod of reassurance; then I followed Schultz out of the barracks and was led into the Kommandant's office.
"Sergeant Carter," Klink said, looking disturbed.
I offered a lopsided grin, trying not to let the fear build up inside of me. "Hiya, Colonel Klink; shouldn't Colonel Hogan be here? Doesn't the Geneva Convention say something about a senior officer being present or something?"
"Sergeant," Klink interrupted. "I have been ordered to turn you over to the Gestapo." My heart stopped. The Gestapo? Why me? What did I do? I suddenly understood how the colonel must have felt every time he was told that.
I knew he was listening. They all were. And they were all probably wondering the same as me. Why me? What did I do?
"K-k-kommandant?" I stuttered, not able to stop my terror from showing through my voice.
Klink sighed. "I do not know why Sergeant, only that the orders were passed through, and that they will be here in a few minutes."
"But Kommandant...!" I began to panic.
All he could offer me was a shake of his head. "I don't know Sergeant; I simply do not know."
At that moment, Colonel Hogan burst through the door, Schultz protesting until Hogan closed the door behind him.
"Kommandant. I protest. As his commanding officer, it is my right to accompany him when he is interacting with you. And Schultz here tried to keep me away!" I thought I saw a spark of fear in his eyes, fear for me. That made me even more nervous.
"Hogan you are not needed here. Go back to your barracks," Klink said, suddenly becoming very firm.
Hogan made his way directly across from Klink and crossed his arms. "I want to know why you need Carter."
"It is of no concern to you, Hogan," Klink assured.
"If it concerns my men, it concerns me!" Hogan insisted.
Turning to me, he asked, "What does he want?" I could tell that he knew. That's why he was here. He knew and he was going to do everything he could to stop it. But this was the Gestapo!
"He-he's turning me over to the Gestapo," I whispered. I guess I had never realized what a good actor he was. His face contorted into a mix of shock and anger. He turned to Klink.
"Do you care to explain, Klink?" He nearly spat.
The Kommandant looked as if he was about to yell at the colonel for not properly addressing him, but he deflated." I have been ordered to turn Sergeant Carter over to the Gestapo."
"For. What." Hogan was seething. I had never seen the colonel this angry.
Klink shook his head again, "I don't know Hogan, I'm sorry, I'm simply following orders!"
"You? The Great Iron Colonel? If the Gestapo would listen to anyone it would be you!"
I couldn't figure out how the colonel did it. One minute, he was closer to punching Klink than I had ever seen before, the next he was pleasantly flattering Klink.
He shook his head. "This is above even me, Hogan. I'm sorry."
The colonel looked like he was about to say something else when the door flew open. Two Gestapo men I had never seen before burst in. It looked like they were a major and a captain.
"This is him?" One of them asked, pointing at me. I took a step back as Klink nodded mutely. They both came forward and grabbed me. I couldn't stop myself from looking pleadingly at Colonel Hogan. He turned, slightly panicked, placing both hands on the Kommandant's desk.
"Colonel Klink, you must stop this!" He practically begged.
Klink sighed. "I'm sorry Hogan, but there is nothing I can do."
The major turned to the colonel. "And who are you?" He asked disgustedly.
"Colonel Robert E. Hogan, senior prisoner of war officer. What do you want with this, Sergeant." I was amazed at how strong his voice was. I was shaking too much to be able to even think about talking that boldly.
"That is of no concern to you." The man practically hissed.
Hogan looked the man straight in the eyes. "You're trying to take one of my men out of here, I think it does."
I was shocked when the major's answer was a hard slap to the Colonel's face. As Hogan's face jerked to the side the captain escorted me out of the room. I glanced back at Hogan and saw him nod in what he probably hoped was a reassuring manner. But it just made me all the more terrified.
I was escorted into the Gestapo headquarters in Hammelburg. Somewhere I had been many times, usually in a German uniform trying to get someone out. What if someone were to recognize me? Forget the interrogation; I could be shot on the spot! But even if no one did recognize me, if these men were so quick to slap Colonel Hogan with Klink standing right there, what were they going to do to me!
I was taken to a dark room and thrown into a chair; suddenly a bright light was shining in my face. It kinda reminded me of the lights on a Christmas tree, but they were flashier and more menacing.
"Sergeant Carter!" A voice suddenly barked.
I struggled to find my voice. "Yes, Sir?"
"You are a prisoner of war at Stalag Thirteen. Yes?"
"Yes," I repeated back, trying to see a face through the lights. The voice sounded so familiar. Who was I talking to?
"Have you ever seen, or been part of any sabotage in or around Stalag 13?"
I remained silent, as I tried to place the voice.
Whoever it was seemed to get impatient. " Answer the question! Do you help run the Underground through tunnels under Stalag 13?"
I finally found my voice. "Running in tunnels? More like..Um. I wouldn't think people would run in tunnels. That would be dangerous. Who would run in a tunnel? I walk fast. Safety is king. I know. I know this coming from the pyromaniac pyrotechnic, missing word here? but I'm very safe. This was all just a smokescreen though. I knew what they were really asking. I just hoped that they would buy my ignorance act. If not, the Underground, not to mention all the guys back at camp, could be taken by the Gestapo. Just like me.
It was hours later, and they were still asking the same things. "Answer the question! Is there an underground unit run from Stalag Thirteen!"
"What do you mean by an underground?" I asked, still playing up the act.
"Sergeant Carter! Surely you know what I am talking about!"
And for what seemed like the hundredth time, I said, "All I know is that I am Carter, Andrew, Technical Sergeant, U.S. Army Air Corp, Serial number-"
An angry growl cut me off. "I know!"
The blinding light was suddenly flicked off, being replaced by the normal, everyday type of lights. Then I knew why the voice sounded so familiar. Major Hochstetter was walking up to me with the other major from earlier. I now noticed that the major was young, tall, and had dark hair.
"Oh hello, Major Hochstetter...Long time no see, huh?" I hoped the fear I felt didn't come through my voice. Like Colonel Hogan. He was always so calm in his dealings with Major Hochstetter. I didn't think I could ever be like that, but I was gonna try.
"I see you have been taking humor lessons from Hogan." Hochstetter rolled his eyes. "You Americans always have jokes. That is a sign of weakness." He circled my chair. "Perhaps," he smiled, "perhaps we can break you, Sergeant."
I tried not to squirm too much, but it was hard. I don't know how the colonel does it! Then it hit me, why I was here. I was here so he could get Colonel Hogan. I couldn't let that happen.