Return To The Theatre Chapter 5

British Intelligence

Whilst John and Alexandra were in Vienna, things continued as normal back at the british headquarters in London Colonel Graham sat at his desk fearful for his agents in Vienna eagerly awaiting any news, Moira sat at her desk typing her letters sparing a thought for John and alexandra, hoping they were alright and envying them for being in the action.

How she wished she could go into the field, if only the colonel had let her go as well she thought pausing from her typing and sighing then she sat back and began to type again, in his office colonel graham was speaking to miss coldstoves she had a document for him to sign, he did so and she left returning to her desk to type some more dreary letters to who ever.

Colonel graham stood up from behind his desk and walked over to the London Street map that hung graciously on the wall he stared at it for a moment and then began to light his pipe he spoke to himself “stage, thorn in my side, where are you hiding?” he said gazing at the map.

Then Moira entered the office holding a cup of tea for the colonel, he turned round and asked “ any news from Vienna.” Moira smiled “only what I told you before sir, they landed safely and made contact at the rendezvous point, I am sure we will here from them soon sir.” she said .

The colonel smiled and turned back to face the map Moira placed the cup of tea on his desk and took her leave from his office, as she closed the door she whispered “come on John.”

Minutes felt like hours slowly dragging away by the sound of ticking coming from the clock that hung on the wall of colonel graham`s office constantly reminding him that time was of the essence. Suddenly the telephone began to ring colonel graham rushed to answer it hoping it was news from Vienna “hello, hello.” he said anxiously a voice echoed “hello, colonel graham, chamberlain here,” the colonel stood up instantly to attention “hello sir,” he replied.

Mr chamberlain spoke again “ any news from our friends in Vienna colonel?” he asked nervously. “they landed safely and made contact with our agents, but I’m afraid thats all we know so far sir,” said the colonel anxiously “very good colonel, keep me informed wont you?” said the prime minister and then he hung up..... An hour or passed and Colonel Graham was still at a loss as he wandered round the office, he felt so useless just standing waiting for news, how he wished he was there with them like the good old days, he sat down and thought about ‘stage’ how he hated this man and yet respected for evading capture for so long.

Moira returned to the office holding a document in her hands the colonel smiled “any news ?” he asked anxiously wishing that there would be some closure to this uselessness he was feeling inside “ I am sorry sir but still nothing but I am here on a different matter, one of our contacts in Prague was arrested an hour ago sir.” she said looking at the colonel “who?” asked the colonel calmly “Tin man, sir.” she said the colonel jumped in the air “but how, no one knew about him, nobody knew, he was one of our top agents.” he said Moira took a deep breathe “stage sir,” she said nervously. the colonel went into a rage he picked up the cold tea that had not been touched that moira brought earlier and he threw it straight at the wall smashing into a thousand pieces upon impact. “that damn man, I hate him” shouted the colonel in quite a rage, Moira was a little shocked by the colonels actions and took her leave quickly whilst the colonel began to through other things around his office. As Moira closed the doors miss cold stoves approached her and said “ I have a document for the colonel to sign.” Moira looked at her and said “ i should give him a few minutes if i were you, he is not in the best of moods right now.”

Miss cold stoves gave a sigh and stormed back to her desk and began to type furiously, Moira shook her head and walked away down the corridor to her desk.

When she returned to her desk a man was standing waiting for her “a message from firefly, for the colonel,” he said and saluted her he asked her to sign for it and left.

Moira excitedly rushed with the envelope straight up the stairs and headed straight down the corridor she was so excited she knew this was what they had been waiting for.

She flew straight passed miss cold stoves and barged straight into the colonels office, he was a lot calmer and reading a news paper, “Sir, colonel, news from Vienna its firefly.” she said anxiously, like a spring the colonel dropped the paper and grabbed the envelope he ripped it open and revealed the message “ Colonel..... Baron and Baroness Von Gottard dead........heading to meet friends at theatre..........firefly.....”

The colonel frowned “they got the von gottards,” he said to Moira who eagerly replied “ John and alexandra?” The colonel smiled “ there is no news of them so far, firefly is going to meet them now, we can only wait.” Moira nodded “ order the plane to take off to the rendezvous point within the hour.” commanded the colonel. “Yes sir, I will ring the air base now sir,” she said.

“I pray they would come home safe sir” she said the colonel looked at her and said “ I do to.”

As Alexandra lead the way down the alley toward the side of the theatre suddenly a wall faced them “Bugger, who put that there?” she said John laughed at Alexandra who was looking at this wall, “right then” she said “there is only one thing we can do John and that is to climb.” she walked over to the wall and joined her hand s together bending her legs John looked at her as if she had totally flipped and said “What are you doing?” Alexandra looked at him and said “ We have to climb John the door is on the other side.” John looked up at the wall and then at her

“Its silly supposing we fall.” Alexandra looked at him and ordered “ Its this way, or gestapo headquarters John, which one will you choose?” John shook his head “ I hope your right.”

He said he climbed onto her shoulders and on top of the wall once he was secure he pulled Alexandra up clinging onto her hand, they then climbed down the other side. Alexandra was right the door was still there luckily it was not boarded up so she opened her bag and took out her knitting needle she fiddled with the lock for a minute and then like magic the door opened.

“ There you go, haven`t lost my touch ” said Alexandra. John held the door open and they walked inside he closed it quietly so not to make any noise they continued along the old halls to the stairs “This way” said Alexandra and they climbed up a spiral staircase it was dark and derelict but they had to do it Alexandra knew this theatre inside out even in the dark she knew where she was going at the top of the staircase was a door she gently opened it and it lead into the wings they walked through, She was overwhelmed as remembered the old days how it was full and the crowds of people cheering right up onto the balconies and when she looked it was now a cobweb ridden derelict and deserted building. They walked onto the stage the lights were still on but the day light was seeping through the boarded windows half lighting the room she noticed a blood spatter on the stage and a pill capsule she knew instantly it was Ludwig`s she turned away crying tears streaming down her face “ My poor Ludwig” she said and a tear formed John held her “ You can do this Alexandra” he said she took a deep breath drawing strength from Johns faith that he had in her she pulled herself together and John then spoke “ Which board is it” he asked. Alexandra thought for a moment and said “ Its near the front, it has an x grooved into the middle of it .”“If Ludwig has hidden it what`s so important that we must find it now.” asked John

Alexandra thought back to the message and the letter “ There is something for me in there” she said. out of the corner of her eye she noticed a light at the end of the stage it was tinted on the lense “John this one is different” she shouted John turned round “ turn it on” he said she found the switch and the light came on and the light shined to the exact board where the lever was hidden.John followed the light to the board he then knelt down finding the x that was grooved he pressed the board downwards which forced the board to open inwards like a door.

John spotted the lever “bingo” he said proudly as he then pushed it, suddenly the column door opened Alexandra walked over to the column she looked inside she found a map, several letters in a bundle, a big brown envelope, a photograph of Ludwig and her and a little box she placed all the items in her bag as she opened the little box inside was a gold ring with three diamonds the middle one being the largest. Suddenly John said “Quiet. I can here something, Sirens headed this way, run!! ” Alexandra dropped the ring in her bag and John grabbed her they ran back through the wings and back down the spiral staircase. At that exact moment the doors to the front of the theatre burst open the germans were swarming the place Von Ostbruk walked in “Find them, their here somewhere!” he said Alexander and John were running down the corridor suddenly they heard the back door that they had come in from burst open she found another door and they ran inside and shut the door. Alexandra looked round she smiled “ Ludwig`s office” she said.

John looked at her “ Were trapped” he said. They heard banging and doors been kicked open, Alexandra remembered something and looked at the book case she smiled “ John this bookcase is a door.” she said “there is a cellar underneath, I remember Ludwig hid his wine down there.”

John spotted the pipe it lead down the wall to a grill at the side of the bookcase. John gently and quietly lifted the grill up and it revealed a lever he pulled it and the book case opened suddenly John left go of the grill and it made a crash John grabbed Alexandra and they ran through the passage that the bookcase revealed, the germans had heard the noise and began to break the door down they ran there were lights but this cellar had been turned into a tunnel suddenly John heard the door of the office burst open behind him as the door came off its hinges and crashed against the wall then the germans found the tunnel and were in hot pursuit of John and Alexandra.

John and Alexandra were running faster than ever they seen someone up ahead a woman she was running towards them casually dressed in a suit covered by a black fur coat “Major Banks” she asked “ Now is not the time the whole german army is behind us.” The woman nodded and ran in front “this way” she said and they turned right running up some stairs and out into a courtyard a car was waiting Hans was driving it they jumped into the car and Hans put his foot down suddenly gun shots went off as they speeded away forcing the windscreen to completely shatter they all crouched down out of sight whilst Hans drove like a maniac away from the scene.

When they were out of sight the lady introduced herself “Im Fire Fly.” she said Hans drove the car down an alley and she rushed out to open a gate then they drove into a courtyard. She closed the gate behind her fast as the sirens were getting near to them and then they drove passed so for the time being they had given the germans the slip.

They ran into the house Alexandra noticed the brandy so she poured them all one, she brought them through to where John, Hans and the lady were she tried again “I’m firefly, Major. Have you got the file” she asked “yes” replied John. “Good, now then your too rendezvous with the plane at eight, colonel graham wants you back as soon as possible.” she said. John looked at her and said “ This whole mission has been jeopardized from the beginning, its as if they were waiting for us the whole time.” Fire fly spoke as she lit a cigarette and said “ Stage is not working alone Major, there is an accomplice who is helping him all I know is that its a woman.” she said and then she told them something “ Before Ludwig was killed he told me something he had found a lead that would deliver stage on a plate, now we know he had a contact in Von Ostbruk`s head quarters who was going to deliver the photograph of this lead.” Then Alexandra remembered the brown envelope she pulled from the column she opened her bag and it was there she took it out and opened it and pulled out a photograph. “My god” she said as she looked at it

“Miss cold nose, a real Marta Hari” she said John took the photograph and said “ I wish you had taken those knitting needles and shoved them in her.” Alexandra agreed then the phone began to ring Hans answered “it is Ernst” said Hans then he paused he looked at John and Alexandra and hung up the phone.“It seems Von Ostbruk is sealing off Vienna” he said “ There are road blocks on every road leading out of the city.” Suddenly Firefly had an idea “ Hans, Anna at the hospital she is with us isn’t she?” she inquired, then Hans said “ to the end” Firefly looked at Hans “right see if you can get a nurses uniform and an ambulance” she ordered Hans left he knew what he had to do and he had an idea he knew what firefly was up to but she had always been a silent one that`s why he loved her so much. Firefly brought some bandages and told John to lie on the floor as she wrapped them round him “ its the only way” she said he agreed and allowed her to do it Alexandra helped, half an hour later Hans returned with an ambulance and a nurses uniform he ran into the house. Firefly handed Alexandra the uniform “ get dressed” she ordered Fire fly had forged a hospital transfer document and an exit pass that allowed them to travel to Salzburg Hospital and hopefully would fool the check point guards. Alexandra returned in her nurses uniform Hans had secured John to a stretcher and they went in the back of the ambulance Fire fly told them she could not radio in until tomorrow so they would have to get the pilot to do it for them. She wished them luck and closed the doors of the ambulance John lay on the stretcher and Alexandra sat on the side. Hans got ready in his drivers uniform and then got into the ambulance, suddenly they began to set off Fire fly opened the gate and Hans drove out into the alley way and then onto the main road. In a cell in the gestapo prison Gretal was sitting with her father she was crying she looked out the window and notice the baron and baroness being lead in to the courtyard by a firing squad. There faces were all bloody and they were holding onto each other knowing full well what was about to happen the officer pushed them over to the wall and he walked away then he assembled the men “Attention” he said the gaurds stood to attention.

He then looked towards the two prisoners that were about to be executed leaning onto each other shivering unable to speak with the trauma they had endured and the realization of what was about to happen. Suddenly the sun shone down into the cold grey courtyard then the voice “Baron and Baroness Von Gottard by order of colonel Von Ostbruk you have both been found guilty of aiding enemies of the reich the sentence is death. The Baroness and Baron began to cry they were exhausted, beaten and had been badly tortured then the officer stood back and the firing squad came forwards the officer then gave the order ”fire!“ he shouted suddenly all the guns went off and the baron and baroness fell to the ground dead.

Gretal jumped back and covered her eyes tears fell at what she had witnessed, suddenly the cell door flew open colonel Von Ostbruk walked in to cell ”ah Professor Buler and Gretal Buler, bring them!!“ he shouted two men came into the room they took them out of the cell and into the interrogation room they wheeled the professor to the desk and the colonel sat down Gretal was held behind him in full view of the professor. The colonel lifted his hand and the two men stripped Gretal ripping her clothes off and slapping her as she resisted, a female guard sat at a desk next to the door ready to type a confession. Gretal screamed as they tore off her clothes, she had to stand naked shivering in front of her father the two guard that had hold of her were aroused by her fear as she trembled. The professor jumped. ” Now professor, said the colonel only you can make this stop if you give me a name.“ The Professor looked at him and said ”what name?“ The colonel raised his hand the first guard stood behind Gretal holding her whilst the other one punched her straight in the stomach, she screamed in agony winded by his punch but he did not stop she was double over he then brought his knee upwards and hit her straight in the teeth. Blood spattered everywhere and two teeth fell out of her mouth onto the floor She screamed again. The colonel raised his hand again the guards stopped ” Do not play games with me professor, I want the name of the woman that has helped the two british agents hide!“

The professor looked at his daughter and began to cry the colonel raised his hand again the guard grabbed Gretal by the hair and brutally bent her over the table in front of her father whilst the other one wheeled her father backwards forcing him to watch, the colonel stood up and left the room he hated watching their dirty work it made him feel ill to order such measures. He closed the door and went into another room putting the radio on. Sitting at a table in this room were two other men playing cards and laughing their white shirts smeared in blood. The colonel suddenly felt sick and then suddenly he heard a scream from the gretal, the guard made Gretal bent over the desk he then tied her hands to it then he found his cane. He lashed her naked back with it gently the first time and then he got harder she screamed in pain begging him to cease but he did not her back began to bleed. She kept screaming and screaming it was agony as the man continued to cane her splitting her skin and inflicting great pain onto poor gretal, when he had finished caning her he then swapped places with the other guard standing with her father. The other guard walked to the table where Gretal lay her back smeared with blood where the skin had split, she was near unconscious he then picked up a bucket of water and threw it over her to wake her up She groaned in agony and traumatized by her ordeal, there was no more screaming left in her thought the guard but he did not stop there a table was opposite where the secretary was typing it had all sorts of tools on it he walked to it and picked up the biggest one he smiled to the other guard who handcuffed the professor to the table. The first guard leaned over Gretal holding her shoulders from behind and the other one took her tied hands he fixed her finger nail to his tool he had in his hand and he pulled. She screamed louder than ever before the guard had pulled her finger nail out of her finger blood poured onto the floor. The professor cried and vomited ” You Bastards.“ he shouted the guard holding her down removed his grip on her and slapped the professor across the face, he gave a loud sigh and he vomited again on the floor at the sight of his daughters fingernail as the guard dropped it on the floor in front of him, then the guard took her next finger securing her nail to the tool suddenly the the professor shouted ”enough! I will give you the name if you let my daughter go, I don’t care what you do to me.“ The guards stopped and fetched the colonel he returned coming back into the room with a smile feeling really happy as he was going to get the confession that would save his honor. Sitting back down in the chair he ordered the guard to untie Gretal who was groaning and crying holding onto her hand that was pouring with blood and he then threw her to the floor. ” Well professor, I’m waiting“ said the colonel ” Hannah Shenke“ he said tears poured down his face as he looked at his daughter. The colonel then said ” What is the address.“ He lifted his arm again the second man grabbed Gretal by the hair and smacked her head of the table she groaned as she fell to the floor. The Professor said ” twenty three Kurt strasse“ the colonel smiled and said ” You have been most helpful professor“ he looked at the guards and said ”keep them here for when I get back.“ The colonel left in a hurry he rushed out of the interrogation room he felt sick, he hated what he had done knowing fine well that the two guards had enjoyed every minute of it. He then ordered his car to arrive and he climbed in. A lorry joined them with some soldiers inside they drove to the address with the sirens going. Firefly was listening to her radio she began to drink her brandy that Alexandra had poured earlier she hoped they would be safe as she relaxed in her chair. Suddenly she heard the sirens as they got nearer and nearer she knew, she seen her gate open and a truck pull into the courtyard she ran into her bedroom and opened her draw she picked up her gun looked in the mirror she heard their voices as they were kicking her front door down then a gun shot and all fell silent in the house. Von Ostbruk headed into the bedroom Firefly lay on the bed dead her blood was up the walls but she had a smile on her face, which seemed to annoy Von Ostbruk as he stormed out.

When he returned to the interrogation cells he walked into the room Gretal was sitting on a chair blood seeping down her face and mouth he pointed to her and told the guard to “shoot the father” Gretal screamed “No!” as the guards came to wheel him away then Gretal said “ I can identify them” The colonel he then looked at the other guard “ Stop!” he ordered to the guards wheeling the professor.

The professor screamed at his daughter “No! No!, don’t do this Gretal,” he yelled suddenly the colonel himself hit the professor with his pistol knocking him out cold, Gretal shivered with fear and her hand was agony the colonel ordered “ Take him to his cell and leave him there, until I say otherwise.” The guard smiled “ Yes Sir” he said.

Von Ostbruk told Gretal to get dressed, she did crying in agony he then had her brought through the corridors and put into his car with a gestapo guard, they then drove to the Salzburg road barricade he just knew they were going to try this one he thought. In the Ambulance Alexandra was holding Johns hand she was trembling at the thought of discovery Hans put the siren on and drove along the main road heading for the Salzburg road. “Be strong” said John “were nearly there.” Hans spoke to them quickly “were approaching the barricade now.” A german officer stopped the ambulance and spoke to Hans asking to see his documents suddenly the back doors were opened and Von Ostbruk approached “Good evening sister, what have we here.” he asked staring at John who was wrapped in bandages “ My patient is a burns victim, colonel we are transferring him to the special unit at Salzburg” she said. the colonel smiled “very good sister, but may I borrow you for a minute‘ he asked. ”Certainly, but not for too long colonel I can’t leave my patient for too long.“ she said . ”Of course, I respect that sister, if you please it will only take a minute.“ he said. she took his hand as he helped her out of the ambulance Hans froze.

The colonel leaded her over to the hedge then she came face to face with Gretal who was being held by her two torturers, Alexandra looked at her face and head she had been tortured blood pouring down her face, ” Is this the woman“ asked the colonel Gretal managed to move her head upwards ”No“ she said. The colonel then said ” take a good look“ ”No it is not“ said Gretal she recognized Alexandra but she knew that even if she wanted to she could not give her away.

It meant certain death for her and her father but she was granted one thing she got see them escape. ”Are you sure“ asked the colonel he then looked at the two torturers and nodded one of them put his hand on her back pressing on where she had been caned Gretal screamed ”No! No! It isn’t her“ Alexandra had to watch them torture her again she knew she could not do anything to help and that she would probably be shot as a spy if she tried. The colonel put a gun to Gretal’s head ”Answer me!, is it her or not.“ he said with his face pressed up against hers shouting at her.

”No!“ shouted Gretal who was in absolute agony the sweat was dripping down her face

Alexandra wanted to stop it but she could not the colonel looked two men ’take Gretal away and shoot her‘ he said and he went on to say ”Im sorry sister but we had to check you see there are two spies at large and we need to stop them.“Alexandra climbed into the ambulance.

Gretal was screaming as they dragged her away ”but you promised, you promised.“ she shouted they dragged her down behind the hedge the screams and cries could be heard more and more until gun fire and her cries fell silent.

”Good bye sister, see you again“ said the colonel as he closed the doors to the ambulance ”everything is alright here, let them through.“ said the colonel.

The barrier was opened and the ambulance drove through and headed away from Vienna Alexandra sat very still in the corner in shock at what she had just seen, she was lifeless, tears streaming down her face. John sat up taking off his bandages to see Alexandra sitting in complete shock ”What happened?“ he shouted at Alexandra but she did not speak she could not it was as if she was not there as if she had died.

John shook her and shook but she did not move she just stared at the doors.

Hans told John ”leave her alone, she needs time.“ John looked at Hans ”did you see what happened?“ Hans looked at him and said ”Yes, Gretal is dead because she did not give Alexandra away John.“ he said John looked at Alexandra and sat next to her he put his arm round her and cuddled her ”the plane will take us home and we will be back in London soon.“ he said. Alexandra began to snap out of the silent state she had been in and spoke ” That poor girl, she did nothing wrong and that evil nazi bastard had her shot.“ John spoke sharply ” Did he suspect you?“he asked desperately shaking Alexandra repeating the question over and over until Alexandra said ” I think so, but with out the evidence he could do nothing.“ John spoke ” She and her father were the only ones that knew our identities.“ said John Alexandra still shaken said ”What would have happened to us?“ John looked at her and said ” We would all have ended up in front of a firing squad.“ Alexandra spoke ” She died in my place John.“ she said John shook her and said ” You must not think like that?“ Alexandra spoke again ” I will avenge her one day.“ The Colonel telephoned head quarters he spoke to the his second in command ”take out the professor and shoot him wont you, tell him he is going to join his daughter“ He then spoke to his superior officer ” I want an armored car sent here now General I believe that the countess is on her way to meet an aeroplane, somewhere between here and Salzburg“ he said . The General said ” no and told the colonel to focus his attention on the Swiss road or he would find his self on the Polish front. The colonel saluted sending everyone to the Swiss road but he knew that sister from somewhere, so he kept one car and three men and headed in the direction of the ambulance.

The car pulled into the town where it had all began then Ernst climbed in, “How is Fire Fly?” asked Alexandra. Ernst frowned “she is dead Nightingale.” A silence fell inside the car nobody could speak the Hans drove to the field Ernst heard the plane he jumped out and ran to signal it.

The plane came into land and within minutes was on the ground waiting for Alexandra and John who said good-bye to Hans and Ernst. Suddenly a spotlight appeared and a car drove on to the field “Stay exactly where you are?” came a voice “Nazis” shouted Ernst and Hans who opened fire John ran with Alexandra jumping in to the plane Ernst and Hans followed shooting at the germans who rapidly approaching firing back suddenly Ernst shouted “Im hit and fell to the ground” John grabbed Hans and pulled him into the plane thinking Ernst was dead.

The plane took off and descended high into the sky the germans still shooting at it as it disappeared into the clouds, Von Ostbruk looked down at them and shouted “Idiots, you let them get away.” One of the men ran to where Ernst lay “this one is alive” he shouted the colonel smiled “Bring him to me” he said. When the germans dragged Ernst towards the colonel in agony as the bullet was lodged in his stomach the colonel suddenly smiled “ Well, Well, Well, its Ernst isn’t it, General Von Geigers son, my goodness you have been a naughty boy haven`t you.” said the colonel very patronizingly to Ernst then the colonel laughed “ To think your father dared to threaten me with the polish front, and all the time he was helping the enemy.” Suddenly Ernst broke free of his captors and pulled the rifle from the guard knocking him to the floor, Ernst turned round fast, the colonel drew his gun and at the same time they both fired at each other Ernst and the colonel both fell to the ground.

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