And here is episode two of The Home Guard Project. Have fun!
Episode Two – Patrol
Date: March 18, 1941
Smoke filled the air in the pub, creating a toxic haze that lingered like an ominous fate. There was a tinge of hatred in the air that was almost tangible, a series of eyes focusing on one stool at the bar.
Fazer sipped his half pint of ale, his mouth tingling from the bitterness of its hoppy body. He lifted the glass up in front of his face and gazed at the dim lights behind the bar through an amber film. It wasn’t that bad, but he yearned for something from back home in his hand. Now they were proper beers in his opinion.
He could feel the scorning looks from the other drinkers in the lounge burning into every part of his body. Anything more intense and he would have gone up in flames. He looked out the corner of his eye and down to his Bren gun which was leaning up against the bar. No matter what happened he would never use it against his allies.
‘Hey you…’ A tall blonde man tapped his on the shoulder.
Fazer rested his drink down on the counter and breathed out slowly. ‘Can I help you?’ he asked in a throaty, accented voice.
The guy sniffed heavily. ‘You a German, right?’
He knew exactly where this was going. He turned to look at the guy, who was dressed in a mottle-grey suit and wearing a light brown cap. He was sturdy and looked like he could handle himself alright. ‘I am from Germany, yes.’ He stared at the man, dead-eyed.
‘Why don’t you get out of here and go back home, eh?’ The man pointed to Fazer’s Home Guard uniform. ‘You shouldn’t be wearing that either.’
Fazer sighed wearily. ‘I don’t want an argument or a fight. Can you leave me alone? I want to finish my drink.’ He went back to concentrating on the bar.
‘Is this your gun? Nice model.’
Before he could react, the man had picked up his Bren gun from where it was leaning and was testing its weight. ‘That’s not yours.’
‘Terribly sorry,’ the man replied sarcastically. ‘I could give you the bullets back if you want them?’
Fazer glanced around the lounge and saw a mixture of faces, some expressing hostility and others horror. It was then that he saw a familiar figure approaching the well-suited man from behind like an ill wind.
‘Hey, you look at me, OK?’
‘OK.’ Fazer smiled, his eyes lightening.
The man froze as a gun was cocked and pressed against his temple.
A hot, heavy voice breathed menacingly into his ear. ‘Word of advice… you should take the safety off on the gun.’ Dad looked at his friend reassuringly. ‘I think you owe Fazer an apology, yes?’
The man stood silently, his hands beginning to shake.
Dad forced the gun harder against the man’s head and grabbed the Bren gun off him. ‘Sorry is the word you’re after.’ He laughed heartily.
‘S…sorry,’ the guy blurted out, his face nearly drowned by tears. He skittered away, encouraged by Dad’s boot.
‘Hey Fazer, you OK?’ asked Dad, holstering his pistol.
His friend snorted with amusement. ‘I am a lot better at handling myself than you think.’
‘That’s what my wife said last night, isn’t it?’
They both laughed, ignoring the uncertainty of the people around them.
‘We should get going,’ said Dad, patting Fazer on the shoulder. ‘We’ve got a job to do, mate.’
‘Yes. This beer is terrible.’
The roar of the motorcycles echoed down the dirt track road as Dad and Fazer cruised along their allocated patrol route; plumes of dust rolling up behind them, the sun beating down with a fierce gaze for springtime. Fresh budding trees blurred past their eyes before changing into the abandoned fields of local farmers and livestock owners. A few decaying corpses of cows and horses were dotted around, picked bare by scavengers.
‘Ah, it’s a goddamn wasteland,’ remarked Dad as he slowed his bike down to observe the area a bit more thoroughly. ‘This is not good.’
Fazer slowed down to a crawl and looked over his shoulder. ‘It is not good at all,’ he replied matter-of-factly. ‘Dad?’
‘Do you miss it? Holland, I mean.’
Dad rolled alongside Fazer and gauged his eyes, if not for a brief moment, and saw the deepness of his buried sorrows. ‘Of course I do, mate. I miss the lovely scenery, my family, and the great beers.’ He gave a warm smile. ‘You remember the bike rides we did up to the mountains occasionally?’
‘Brilliant times, Dad.’ Fazer chuckled. ‘Sit in a bar, have some jokes, play games, relax… it was great.’ He paused.
‘What about you?’ asked Dad. ‘You miss your home?’
‘I miss how Germany used to be. I couldn’t live there while the Nazis are still about – it’s the whole reason I left in the first place. Being a German fighting on the English side is hard to be honest.’
‘I can imagine.’
‘We need a good ride up into the mountains to take our minds off it.’
Dad looked off into the distance, a reflective look forming in his face. ‘We’ll do it again, Fazer… I promise you.’
‘If you don’t then I may have to kick you.’
Dad laughed but suddenly stopped. ‘Wait…’ He said sharply, his head angled to one side trying to focus on something in the distance. ‘You hear that?’
Fazer quietened and cupped a hand behind his ear. ‘Hear what?’
A burst of gunshots sounded in the distance, birds scattering through the horizon.
‘That,’ said Dad.
‘Sounds like some fun.’ He adjusted the strap that was holding his Bren gun onto his back. ‘Gives me a chance to test the new model.’
Dad stood up in his seat and peered into the expansive wasteland of fields. ‘That way.’ He pointed eagerly along the road. ‘Let’s get over to that hill further up the road.’
Both of their engines roared and they whizzed up the route, gaining on the hill in front of them with surprising speed and determination.
They eventually reached the brow of the hill which gave them an improved view.
Fazer raised a hand in front of him, indicating the source of the disturbance. ‘There,’ he said. ‘Someone running through that field; see in the distance behind him? Looks like a group of men are after him.’
With a rev of his engine, Dad took off down the road without a word. Fazer didn’t need any encouragement as he followed suit.
Grnahh was rapidly running out of breath, his sniper rifle growing heavier and heavier every advancing yard. He had been running north for the past 20 miles or so, trying his hardest to escape the grip of the Nazi hunting team. He remembered that there were about five or six of them, armed to the teeth and dressed plainly in case they crossed the border lines into British territory accidentally. Very smart.
He dared to look behind him. He could see the small outlines of his pursuers, making his stomach wrench and sicken. He swore harshly in French and concentrated on keep his legs upright as they were crying out to him for some R&R. How he was wishing to be in a café somewhere having a drink instead of this.
It took everything he had to clamber over the fence at the end of the field, his hand pressing firmly against the pouch on his belt. He glanced up desperately and could feel a jumping sensation in his chest – there was a road ahead and two men mounted on motorcycles. He slowed his pace, expecting his inevitable capture… that was until he recognised the sound of English being thrown in his direction, albeit in a slight accent. He swallowed his nerves and ploughed onwards toward the two men.
‘Come on, mate,’ called Dad as the soldier drew closer. ‘Fazer? Give him some covering fire. I bet those Nazis haven’t realised they’ve come onto our side.’
Fazer jumped from his bike and grabbed his gun, crouching down and pressing it into his shoulder. He waited for a few moments, the soldier’s pursuers getting closer.
Dad looked at the man as he reached them, his face a sea of sweat and dirt. He had to ask him what was going on.
Grnahh rambled on to them both in his own language.
Fazer, who was now lain down on his belly, looked to one side at them both. ‘English only please,’ he grumbled.
‘Oh… I do… I’m sorry.’ Grnahh nearly collapsed as he sat on the dirt track path. ‘I’m… tired. Those Germans have been chasing me for 20 miles. I…’ He gathered his breath. ‘I have important information about the next Nazi operation – the one they’re going to use to punch through the defensive line.’
Dad mulled over what the Frenchman had just told him, rolling his tongue around the inside of his cheek. ‘Do these guys know you’ve stolen those plans?’
Grnahh shook his head. ‘No. They found me in one of the communication offices just outside London. They know I’ve stolen something but don’t know what. I photographed the plans so they won’t be missing anything.’
Fazer suddenly let loose a hail of gunfire as the Axis team were only a hundred yards away, all five of them quickly hitting the floor or taking cover behind carcasses. ‘We might run out of ammo before we kill them all,’ Fazer grunted as he reloaded.
‘Hey… what’s your name?’ Dad asked.
‘Take my gun and help Fazer hold them off.’ Dad handed him his own Bren gun and a pouch of clips along with it.
‘I ran out of rifle ammo miles back so this is no use to me now.’ Grnahh tossed the rifle onto the floor and checked Dad’s gun.
‘Fazer? Grnahh? Hold them off for a few minutes while I go for some backup. There’s a checkpoint a couple of miles down the road – they should have some spare guys there.’
‘They better do,’ Fazer croaked as he squeezed the trigger for another storm.
Dad started his bike up and sped off like a bat out of hell.
Grnahh setup a few metres away from Fazer and started shooting. ‘I am so used to using rifles and not these things,’ he bawled above the rhythm of the gun’s cries.
Fazer reloaded again, satisfied that he had killed one of the team. ‘Four left.’
‘I cannot shoot to save my life,’ Grnahh grunted breathlessly, his arms shaking as he held the gun off the ground. ‘I’m… so… tired.’
‘Keep awake for God’s sake.’ Fazer looked over at him and swore. Grnahh had blacked out, most likely from exhaustion. ‘Shit.’ Fazer crawled over like a snake on the hunt and grabbed the pouch of ammo. ‘Damn it,’ he growled as he got back to his position.
He gritted his teeth, his view of the team lost. They had taken the opportunity to move when he had stopped firing. Where the hell had they gone? Fazer guessed a flanking maneuver was on the cards. He lifted himself up to a crouch and stayed by Grnahh’s unconscious body. ‘Wake up, please, wake up.’ All he needed was a few minutes to hold them off until Dad returned.
A few minutes passed.
A movement to his right caught his attentions. He fired his Bren gun, unloading an entire clip until he heard a scream. He stood up after the few seconds he took to slot a new clip into the top of the gun.
Damn it. It was only one of the team he had killed… the other three Nazis had gone the other way around.
Fazer gulped, trickles of tension running down his forehead.
A shot rang out and he yelped, his leg taken out from underneath him before he could turn. His body slumped to the floor; gun clattering to one side, his hand grabbing his bleeding thigh. The pain seared up through his body, burning with hell’s own fiery rage. His eyes went fuzzy from the shock and he gasped as the pain grew worse. He fought back tears.
‘We got him. The spy is out cold here.’
Fazer lifted his head as he heard the words spoken in his own tongue. ‘You will be sorry,’ he sneered loudly in German.
A shadow quickly overpowered his view. ‘You speak German?’ asked the Nazi.
‘You are a disgrace,’ Fazer spat.
‘And why is that?’
‘You serve that psychotic maniac! Look what he has done to our country’s honour.’
‘Oh so you are German.’ The Nazi crouched down, looking at the wound in Fazer’s leg. ‘You are on the wrong side, my friend. You disgust me. We are on the winning side.’
Fazer saw his other two team mates walking up behind him, keeping a distance of a few metres. ‘You… you are on the side of someone who cannot win. Hitler cannot take over the world – he is mad.’
The Nazi stood back up and called back to one of his team. ‘Have you found the stolen articles on the spy?’
‘A roll of film, sir. He must have photographed something.’
‘Do you know what the best thing about the British is?’ asked Fazer, his voice softening.
‘Do tell me before I kill you.’
Fazer glanced down the road and sighed. ‘They do not give in and follow a dictator.’ He laughed. ‘Welcome… to your fate.’
A gunshot rang out from the distance. One of the Nazi team went down. Another shot. The other collapsed in a sea of gasps as his throat was blown out.
The Nazi standing over Fazer turned around without hesitation and shot off a few rounds from his rifle. He darted over to his fallen comrade and grabbed the film from his dead fingers without a care for his demise.
Dad raced on in front of the armoured patrol car, his bike raging onwards like a bull. He felt a sharp pang of anger as he saw his friend on the floor, writhing in agony. ‘Damn you, you Nazi scum!’ he screamed as he angled his bike, aiming for the fleeing German.
It was a rough ride down the grassy slope. The Nazi turned to fire his gun.
The bullet missed Dad as he flew through the air, his bike toppling over. He landed on his enemy like a ferocious lion, wrestling the gun out of his hands and discarding it.
‘Bastard,’ he cried as he thumped the man in the face with such a force that it broke his nose. He pummelled him relentlessly, the Nazi not being given a chance until his life was beaten out of his body.
‘Dad? Dad!’ Bjorn ran down the hillside, dropping his sniper rifle, and pulled Dad out of his white rage. ‘He’s dead already.’
‘What about Fazer? Is he OK?’ Dad asked frantically, his voice breaking as he calmed himself down.
Bjorn looked up at one of his men, who nodded back at him. ‘He’s fine by the looks of it,’ he explained soothingly. ‘So is that Frenchman you told us about.’
‘Thank God for that.’ Dad looked at the badly bloodied corpse in front of him and noticed something clutched in the man’s hands. He prized it out and looked it over. ‘It’s the roll of film that Grnahh mentioned.’ He looked at Bjorn. ‘Good thing we got here when we did, eh Bjorn?’
‘Yeah, sure is.’
They made their way up the hillside and back to the road, the air stinking of petrol fumes and gunpowder.
Dad kneeled at Fazer’s side. ‘What are you doing on the floor, Fazer?’ he joked.
‘Well I am wondering what took you so long.’
Dad hung his head. ‘Yeah, sorry about that, mate.’
Fazer laughed. ‘You arrived just in time. One more minute and I would have been dead.’
‘Well that’s OK then. Come on, we need to get you into the car and get you to a medic.’ He took his friend’s hand and lifted him up, wrapping his arm around his waist for support. ‘Have you put weight on?’ Dad chuckled.
‘Yes I have, but you’ll carry me to safety anyway.’
‘That’s because you’re my friend, Fazer. We don’t do those bike rides for nothing, you know?’
‘You’re like a brother to me, Dad.’
Bjorn stood next to the car and watched Dad carrying Fazer toward him. ‘Look out men, there’s some male bonding going on.’ He smirked and ran his fingers through his hair.
Dad looked up at him. ‘We’re all brothers, Bjorn,’ he announced.
Fazer smiled to himself, eventually laughing.
Thanks for reading. Episode three will be here next week!