Friday, February 27, 2015

Dark Storm Rising---Part 4

Two weeks later on a beautiful spring Friday, Major Ramond strode down the hall. A pleased smile on his face, as he stretched out his hand to shake that of his longtime friend Major Ubel.
“It’s good to see you! trust you had a safe journey?”
Major Ubel nodded. He stood a couple inches shorter than Major Ramond, but his a thick and muscular build and hard, steel gray eyes dared anyone to stand in his way.
“I did. It seems there’s nowhere I go that this uniform isn’t honored!”
Major Ramond grimaced. “Vell, that may change now zat you’re here in Austria. Ze people here aren’t to excited about the Anschluss. Or zeir new German protectors. Have you see Wilhelm yet?”
“No, I haven’t How’s he doing?”
“He is doing vell. We have been working together for the last couple veeks to try and find the informer that is working here.”
“Have you found him?”
Major Ramond sighed. “No, not quite yet. Ve are still monitoring everyone.”
“And what about those two kids? Helen and Max? “
“Helena and Max.” Major Ramond corrected. “Zey are still here. Perhaps you can try to talk to them. I’m under the impression zat zey are still hiding something. “
“Well, we can’t have that! They must learn that they are to obey the Reich! Unquestionable obedience is all that Hitler asks!”
Major Ramond nodded. “I know you are right. But enough about the children. How are you doing? Vhy are you here?”
“I was sent here to help you.”
“Me?”
“Yes. We were notified, as you have already said, that there may be problems with the Austrians accepting us. I was sent to be a help to you in getting them to submit. How are the plans going?”
“Vell, they have been put on hold because ve were trying to find the informer. Ze last time ve planned a raid, someone varned them and nearly everyone escaped.”
Major Ubel frowned. “We can’t have that happen again.”
Their talk was interrupted by approaching footsteps.
“Major Ubel? What are you doing here? It sure is good to see you!” Lieutenant Wilhelm walked over to them, his hand extended in greeting.
“Wilhelm. It is good to see you again.” Major Ubel exclaimed.
“Why are you here, Major? Last I heard you were working in Berlin.”
“I was. But as I just finished telling Ramond here, I was sent to help out in Austria. Actually quite a few new troops were sent.”
“Well, welcome! What is your first order of business?”
“We were just on our way to see Max and Helena. Ramond here said that both of you have had trouble getting them to say anything. And Ramond think’s they’re still hiding something.”
At this Daniel inwardly groaned. Yes, as Lieutenant Wilhelm, he counted Major Ubel as one of his friends. As Daniel, the Major was one of his worst enemies. No one had a more infamous record of getting people to talk. . .and making sure they would never talk again when he was finished. He was one of the Third Reich’s most trusted and dependable Majors. He was dedicated to Hitlers cause, and nothing would get in the way of “A pure aryan race” if he could help it.
It’s time to get going. He thought Helena and Max will never survive long around this man. He is the complete opposite of Ramond.
But even with that thought, Daniel knew. If it came to siding with him or the Reich, Major Ramond would choose the Reich. He may not have been as notorious as Major Ubel, but he was still dedicated to the cause.
Putting on a smile, he gave an acceptable answer. “Well, I’m sure that if anyone can get them to talk, it will be you.”
He turned to Major Ramond. “Just wanted to let you know that I won’t be here this weekend. I’m visiting my parents.”
Major Ramond nodded. “So you’re leaving now?”
Daniel shook his head. “Tonight. I’ll be back Sunday night.”
“Okay, vell let’s get Major Ubel in to meet the children before you go.”
************************
Helena sat on the bed, reading another book Major Ramond had gotten her from the library. Her back had improved, and she could now sit up without any pain. Her leg was another matter. It was still in a cast, and the pain was still there. The doctor had said she could start using crutches, but even as much as she hated depending on Major Ramond, she hated the thought of falling even worse.
At that moment, the door opened and Daniel walked in, followed by Max. As Helena looked at Daniel, she realized this was different from the other times he had come. There was an urgency in his eyes that hadn’t been there before.
“Okay, listen quickly.” Daniel began. “There is someone new here. Major Ubel.”
Helena and Max both looked confused. ‘Another Major? Why?” It was Max who asked the question.
“He’s here to help Major. And his first assignment is getting you two to talk. They’ll be here any minute. I just thought I’d warn you. Remember, I’m Lieutenant Wilhelm. No one else.”
Both children nodded their heads as the door opened.
“Ahh, good, Wilhelm. You brought Max here.” Major Ramond noted.
Major Ubel took his seat in the chair next to the bed.
“So, you two are the children who were ou the night Austria and Germany became one.” Major Ubel said with a sneer in his voice. “So, question number one, why were you out?”
Helena sighed.. “Sir, we’ve already been through all this with Major Ramond.”
“SIlence!”
Helena flinched, startled by the anger in his voice.
“If you ever address me again, it will be by my proper title, MAJOR UBEL. That’s not so hard, is it? Secondly, I didn’t ask If you’d been asked this before, I simply demanded an answer. Is that clear?”
Both Helena and Max nodded.
“So, what were you doing?”
“Just getting fresh air.”
“Just getting fresh air.” Major Ubel mimicked. “We both know that’s not true. But, never mind, we’ll move on to the next question. Who were you warning and what were you warning them about?”
“Warning, Major Ubel?”
“Yes, Warning.” Major Ubel repeated in a menacingly low voice.
“We. . .we were just enjoying the beautiful night.” Helena whispered.  “Surely you remember that night, Major Ubel. It was beautiful.”
“Yes, I remember it well.  It was a night of great rejoicing for me as I saw my country unite with another, all one step closer to a New Germany, one without the jews.” He spat out the word.
A shudder went through Helena as she listened to him. This man was nothing like Major Ramond, this man was pure evil. He was for everything her father was against.
Major Ubel leaned back in the chair. “So, you don’t want to answer my questions.” He stood and placed a hand on his holster as he said. “Well, I’ll be back. And I’ll get the answers out of you one way or another.”
****************
Closing the door behind him, Major Ubel turned toward the other two men.
“You were right. These are remarkable children. Had all that stubbornness been for Germany instead of against we could have greatly used them to our advantage. But never mind, I’ll get it out of them before tomorrow is over.”

Not if I have anything to do with it. Daniel thought.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Dark Storm Rising---Part3

Helena woke to the sounds of the birds chirping outside the window and the cool morning breeze filling the room. Clearly the Major loved the outdoors.
“Vell, I see you’re up bright and early. Did you sleep vell?”
Helena nodded. “Could--could I go outside today? It’s so beautiful!”
The Major leaned against the wall and crossed his arms. “I don’t see what harm it can do. I vould like some fresh air myself. Ada will come and bring you some breakfast and help you vith vhatever else you need. Vhen I am finished vith my breakfast, I vill come get you.”
‘And, Sir?” she hesitated as he opened the door.
“Yes? Vhat is it?” he replied rather impatiently.
“What about Max? Will I be able to see him?”
The Major gave her a withering look. “Vhat did I tell you just yesterday? Or have ve already forgotten? Do not speak unless I ask you a question first!” With that he slammed the door, and Helena could hear his footsteps moving rapidly down the hall.
*************
Max sighed as he rolled over on the narrow cot in the small room he had been given. A small window high on the wall let in a bright beam of light. Max quickly made his bed, then paced the room.What will happen next? He was relieved to know that Daniel was here. Someone he could trust in all the confusion. Plus, Leisel will be more than happy to know that he’s well and alive, though she will worry about him being in here. I can explain it to her when we got home. “If we get home” he whispered.
************
“Vell, are ve ready to go?” The Major walked into his room.To Helena’s suprise, he actually had a smile on his face.
“Yes.”
He walked over to the bed and bent down to pick her up. “Okay, vell then, lets go.”
Gathering her in his arms, he took her out of the room and down countless hallways to the door. Helena smiled as the sun hit her face. Excited, she tried to sit herself up, but once again fell back as the pain shot through her.
“I’ve got you.” The Major exclaimed. “Don’t move.”
Helena reluctantly let herself relax.
“I know you don’t like me, but you can’t fight me, and trying vill only hurt you worse.”
“What are you? A mind reader?”
He chuckled. “My occupation is a Major in the Third Reich. But I’ve had plenty of time to study people.”
As he was talking, they had entered a beautiful garden. Helena gasped as her eyes eagerly took in the red roses, white and yellow daisies, blue daffodils, and pure white lilies.
“Who would have thought there would be a place of such beauty here!” she exclaimed.
The Major sat her carefully down on a bench swing.
“Now you can rest here and get some fresh air. Is there anything you’d like?”
“Well, could I have some flowers?” At the Majors questioning look she hastened to explain. “To take back to the room and put on the table by my bed. It would brighten up the room so!”
The Major nodded. “Very well, I’ll have someone pick a bouquet and take them to my office.”
“Just one more question?”
He nodded.
‘What's your name?”
At this his eyes once again hardened and the smile left his face. “That Is no concern of yours.”
“And why not? You know my name, in fact, you seem to know everything about me! Would it be so hard to share something of yours?”
“If I vere you, I vould remember who takes care of you and learn to listen and obey him!”
“I don’t have to obey you!”
He chuckled, a sinister chuckle, all of the earlier friendliness gone from his face. “Vell, you can’t do anything vithout me, can you? Remember that.” He glanced at his watch. “Ve’ve been out here for over fifteen minutes. It’s time we go.”
Immediately Helena regretted her outburst. Another day in the same room would be torture.
Once again, for the second time that day, the Major seemed to read her thoughts.
“But, I’m am not a tyrant. Ve can stop at the library on the vay back to my office and you can choose a book or two to read.”
Helena sighed as she let the Major once again lift her. a book would be nice, much nicer than sitting all day doing nothing. But nothing, nothing could beat the outdoors and the fresh air. She took one last fleeting glance at the beautiful flowers as the Major carried her back inside.
“Will I be able to see Max?”
A look from the Major silenced her, and she resigned herself to another day alone. . .well not quite alone. As always, the Major would be there.
******************
The Major cleared his throat. Helena sat on the bed, propped up on the pillows. Her face toward the window, a faraway look on her face. The book that was in her hand had fallen, unnoticed, on the floor.  
At the sudden sound Helena jumped and turned toward the Major, who was standing with his arms crossed.
“I. . .I’m sorry.  What did you say?”
“You have a visitor. Make it fast, we don’t have all day.
“A visitor? Is this a hospital or a prison?”
The Major pretended not to hear as he opened the door. Max stood there, accompanied by Daniel.
“Wilhelm, thank you for bringing Max. I vill call you vhen we are done here to take him back to his room.”
Wilhelm nodded and stepped back as the Major closed the door.
“Vell,” the Major walked over to his desk. “I vill give you two a moment to talk, then ve can have a chat. I know how much ve all enjoy them.”
Max shot him a glare as he walked over to the bed.
“Are you alright, Helena? Have they been treating you alright?”
“They? You mean the Major. The only other person I’ve seen is Ada, who comes and helps a couple times a day. Why does he insist on keeping me here? With him?”
“Well, I think part of it is that you know something. Something he can’t let out. By keeping his eye constantly on you, he is assured that you can’t tell anyone. Plus, you do  need help with everything.”
“Don’t remind me!” Helena shuttered. “That’s the worst part of it. I depend on him and Ada for everything. And he holds it over me. What have you been doing?”
“Sitting most of the day. Dani-- I mean Wilhelm got me some paper and I wrote our parents. I also was outside a little this morning. It’s beautiful out!
Helena nodded. “That Major took me out a little this morning also. Did you see the flower garden?” She pointed to the vase of flowers on the small table. “These flowers came from there.”
“No, I didn’t see the garden, but if it was full of these flowers, I’m sure it was beautiful!” Max said, admiring the colorful bouquet.
“Do you like the flowers too?” The Major asked as he came and stood beside the bed.
“Max nodded, hesitantly. “Back home we have beautiful flowers gardens. Helena’s mother especially plants a beautiful garden every year.”
“Ahh, then that explains Helena’s delight when she saw the flowers. Would you like to go out again tomorrow? Together? Or course it wouldn’t be alone. I’d have to help Helena out and stay with you.”
Inwardly Helena sighed. Never quite alone. Always the Major is there. she thought to herself. He’s a Major. Doesn’t he have anything more important to do then babysit me?
“That would be nice.” Ma answered the Major, looking at him with eyes full of curiosity. Don’t worry. He’ll be back to his mean old self in a few minutes. Helena thought with disgust.
“As for our little chat. Ve all know that Austria is now part of Germany. But some,” he looked pointedly at Max,.“Some of us do not accept that and have to be dealt with by the Third Reich. That small secret is one only you know. And that is the reason you stay here. And will stay here, until once again there is peace in Austria.”
Max clenched his fists as he inwardly felt a sudden anger at the Major. It was the Major’s fault they were here, the Majors fault they were captured.
“Don’t get upset.” the Major said in a soothing voice as he noticed Max’s fists. “You vill be vell cared for.  After all,. haven’t you been vell cared so thus far?”
“And what about our family?”
“They are being taken care of as vell.” With that, the Major stood and opened the door. “Come vith me, Max. I vill take you back to your room.”
“What about Wilhelm? I thought he was supposed to take me back.”
A flash of anger showed in the Major’s eyes. “ I vill say vhat goes. Now come.”
******
Helena looked listlessly out the window. It had been and hour since the Major met with Max, and he had still not returned. Not that it would have made much difference, he just had never been gone this long before.
Suddenly the sound of footsteps sounded in the hallway. Helena listened carefully. Yes, it was the Major, but he wasn’t alone. There was another pair of footsteps. Helena strained to listen the their voices as the stopped outside the door.
“Half the families are gone. Someone warned them of our plans.”
Another new voice answered. “Do you think it could be the children?”
The Major’s chuckle was unmistakable. “Which one? Helena, who can’t move without help or Max, who failed utterly at his assignment to warn them in the first place?”
The other man sighed. “I suppose your right. Then there's only one other explanation. Someone here isn't on our side and he’s transferring information to the enemies.”
“Remember, Franz. Ve are not at var yet.
“I know. BUt they are enemies of the Third Reich, and that’s the only explanation that makes sense.”
The Major agreed.” Ve’ll start monitoring everyone tomorrow. He must be caught, at all cost.”
Daniel! He must be warned! But how?
****************
“How soon will Max be out?” Helena asked as the Major set her down on the plush green grass. Breakfast was over and the sun was shining brighter then ever,
“Soon. I sent someone to get him.”
As the Major spoke, a Captain appeared with Max.
“Thank you, Franz. I trust everything is going well?”
“Yes, examinations are underway, sir.”
Helena froze as she heard his voice. This was the man who had been with the Major yesterday.
The Major drew Franz away from Max and Helena as they continued their conversation. Taking advantage of the time without the Major’s ever-watchful eyes, Helena motioned to Max, who had taken a seat beside her.
“We must warn Dainie!” she whispered. “They know there is a spy and they are monitoring everyone! He mustn't do anything.”  
Max sat up, a shocked look on his face. “It may be to late! Daniel told me yesterday that he was working on a way to get us to our parents. Everyone who was warned is planning on crossing the border into Switzerland next week, then they are heading to France.”
“Next week? Why not now?”
“ ‘Conditions aren't right’ is all that he said. But our parents won’t leave without us. Daniel said it may take weeks. so they’re not planning on going.  They are staying with some Daniel’s parents.”
“Daniel can’t try to help us now!” Helena whispered fiercely. “He must wait!” Suddenly Max brushed a finger across his lips. Immediately Helena fell silent.
“. .  .Hitler has plans, big plans, for not only Austria, but for Czechoslovakia, and Belgium as vell. Ve can't fail in our assignments here.”
The Captain nodded. “I’ll make sure it’s done, Major Ramond.”
“And I vhant a report vithin the week.”
“Once again the captain nodded. As he turned to Walk away, Ramond stopped him. “One more thing. Get Wilhelm to help you on this. He hasn’t been here for too long, but I trust him. In fact, he’s about the only other person I trust other than you. We can be assured he isn't the informant.”
“Excuse me sir, but how can you be sure?”
“I am the Major here! I don’t answer to you!”
“Yes, sir. Do you still want him monitored?”
“Yes, but only for a day or two and only because of protocol.”
Helena leaned over a whispered. “Why does he think he can trust Daniel?”
“Daniel said he knew Major Ramond in Munich. They used to be friends and they entered the army together, but then something happened between them. “
“But that doesn’t make much sense. Why do we know him as Daniel and Ramond knows him as Wilhelm?”
“Helena, think. Haven’t you noticed anything different about Daniel?”
Helena gave him a puzzled look. “He’s the informer?”
“Think, Helena! His hair is darker, and his name? Daniel is a jew. He was adopted when he was just 5 and his parents gave him the German name Wilhelm. Only his family, my family, and now you know his real name.”
Helena sat back, shocked. “Wow, a jew working inside the Reich?”
Max gave her a warning look. “No, Helena. Wilhelm is the son of a respectable German family, and he is a respected lieutenant in the Third Reich.  That’s the end of it.”
Helena nodded.
“Vell, what have you two been talking about?”
Helena and Max turned instantly.
“Uh, just. . .home.” Helena answered. Did he hear anything we were saying.
“Home? And vere is home for you two?”
“You already know that. Where do you live?” Max inquired.
The Major sighed as he sat down beside them. “My family used to live in Munich, but a couple years ago we moved here, to Innsbruck. “
At the same time as Daniel’s family. Helena thought.
“Can I pick some flowers?” Max asked. “For Helena.” He was quick to explain at Ramond’s questioning look.
“Vel, she already has plenty back inside. But I'm sure a few more vould be alright.” He hastened to add as a look of disappointment spread over Helena’s face.”
“Which ones are your favorite?” Max asked turning to Helena.
“Why don’t we play a game.” Helena said, her eyes full of mischief. “I’ll choose a flower, then you go and guess which one it is.”
Ramond gave Helena a knowing grin. Helena shook her head slightly, motioning him not to say anything.
Max, who hadn’t noticed the exchange, smiled. “Okay.” He hurried over by the daisies. “These?”
“No”
He crossed the garden and pointed at the roses. These?”
Helena shook her head. “Nope.”
Six flowers  and six “no’s” later Max walked back to Helena.
“Is there some other flowers I can’t see?”
At this Helena laughed, and , to both Helena and Max’s surprise, the Major  laughed as well.
Max, finally catching on, joined in. “Okay, okay.” he said when he caught his breath. “It was a good joke.”
Helena turned to Ramond. “How did you know what I was doing?”
“ I used to do that to a friend of mine a long time ago.” Then the smile left his face. “Ve’ve been out here long enough. It’s time to go back in.”
“Please, can Max just pick a few flowers?” Helena implored.
“Vell, he must be quick. He vould have more time if you hadn’t played the joke on him.” The way he said was as though he was scolding her.
Helena kept quiet and let the remark pass. She had spent enough time trying to figure Ramond out. He was simply a mystery. As he bent lifted her into his arms, Max returned with the flowers.
“Those are beautiful!” She exclaimed as Max handed her the daisies.”Of course, just about any flower here is beautiful.”
They went back inside and Ramond lay Helena down on the bed, then left to get a vase for the flowers.
As soon as Ramond left, Max hurried over to the desk and shuffled through the papers.
“Max! What are you doing?”
“Looking for anything about the ‘plan’ He talked about.” Suddenly he stopped as his eyes quickly read the paper laying in plain sight.
“Helena! He gasped. “We must get out of here before this happens!”
“What? What is it?”
“Everything Hitler has said is a lie. He is planning to take over Czechoslovakia and Belgium, and everything here will change. Austria will change. And Helena. The jews. He’s getting rid of the jews!”
“Daniel! What will he do?”
“He will be fine. Wilhelm  isn’t a jew. He’s a German citizen.” Max sternly reminded her. “And that’s the way it must always stay, do you hear? Always!”

The intensity in Max’s voice startled Helena. “Alright. He’s Wilhelm, a German lieutenant.”

Friday, February 13, 2015

Dark Storm Rising--Part 2

Enjoy!

Max sighed as he leaned against the cold cement wall. Question after question raced through his head. Where had the Nazis come from?  Why had they used the old dirt road and not the new one that had just opened? But the one question that haunted him was How was Helena?  How she had fallen he still wasn’t sure. But one thing he was sure of. She had been hurt. Badly hurt. The ditch that ran along the road had never been deep, but this time someone had dug a hole. Why he didn’t know. But it had been deep, deep enough to cause more than scratches and bruises. Why didn't we notice the hole before? This had all gone totally wrong. First, why had they been captured by the Nazis? And why had there been spies? Austria was not at war with Germany. On the contrary, the Anschluss had been signed just the night before, uniting Germany and Austria as allies. This is what father and the others were worried about. The Anschluss has already broken the Treaty of Versailles. Who knows what else Hitler Is planning to do.
Max sighed and reached into his pocket. The folded slip of paper was still there. Taking it out, he opened it. “Ack, this isn’t the right one. This is that lousy report card” he exclaimed reaching once more into his pocket, taking out the right paper, he turned it over and looked at it. He had been told not to read it. Only that it was important and that it must not fall into the wrong hands. What was so important?  Making a decision, he opened it and read the few words printed on the inside.
Contact says Hitler is sending spies into Austria. There is also a plan to kill all those against Hitler by the end of the month. Everyone must be warned.
Max felt his heart beat faster. The end of the month. Today was March 13, the day after the Anschluss. There were only 18 days left. They have to be warned! This message must get to the captain!
Placing the paper back in his pocket, he sat back down on the wooden chair. He had to think. There must  be a way to get the message delivered.The door opened and the Major walked in.
“Vell, Peter, or should I say Max, How has your stay here been?” he asked, seating himself in the empty chair.
Max narrowed his eyes. “That’s not my name.”
The Major laughed. “You can’t fool me. Your friend asked vhere you vere. . .” he leaned forward. “And she used the name Max.”
Max lowered his eyes.
“So, Maxwell Autenburg, why were you and your friend out last night?”
Max looked up, startled. “How do you know my full name?”
The Major smiled slyly. “I know quite a lot about you and your friend. In fact, I even know vhy you were out last night. Please, hand me the paper in your pocket.”
“I have no paper, sir.”
The Major gave him and annoyed stare. “You and Helena really enjoy these games, eh? Vell, to be quite frank with you,  I don’t.  Give me the paper.”
Max didn’t move.
The Major glared at him. “Now I’m curious. Must be a pretty important paper if you are so reluctant to let me see it.”
Slowly Max reached into his pocket. Suddenly he remembered his report card. Carefully he shoved the important paper to the bottom of his pocket and drew out the folded report card, which he handed to the Major.
“”Ahhh, thank you.” The Major placed it in his pocket and stood. “Have you eaten since ve brought you here last night?”
Max shook his head.
“Well, that will shortly be remedied. I’ll will see to it that you are brought some food and water.”
“Please, sir. Where is Helena?”
The Major opened the door and turned. “She is in good hands.” He then exited the room and closed the door behind him.
Once alone he sighed. This wasn’t getting easier. “Someone has taught these kids vell.” he muttered.
“Private Ralph” he called to the man who sat in the lobby. “See that the boy gets some food. Now.”
Ralph saluted and hurried off to do the Major’s bidding.
Suddenly remembering he had left Helena in the room alone. He hurried down the hallway.
Putting the key in the lock he chuckled to himself. “She can't even sit let alone walk, and I locked the door?”
Opening the door he saw that the breeze from the open window had scattered the paper and his desk and over half of them lay on the floor.
Helena appeared to be sleeping, her face turned away from him.
Walking over to his desk he closed the window, then began walking around the room and picking up the papers that had been scattered by the wind. Gathering them all he sat once again at his desk. Carefully he sorted, and folded the papers. When he was finished he looked over them once again, startled. It had been on his desk when he left. Where could it be now?
Once more he sorted everything, not finding it he walked around the room, this time looking under the bed, chair and table. As he stood he realized his riding whip was missing from the table.  Maybe I set it in the drawer. Opening it he gasped, yes, the riding whip was there, but so was the missing map.

***********************
Lieutenant Wilhelm opened the door and ushered Max inside. Entering the room, Max saw the Major sitting at his desk, and Helena was laying down on a small cot.
“Helena, are you alright?” Max rushed over to her bedside and gave her a  concerned look. “Why are you laying down?”
Helena gave him a weak smile. “I’m alright. I can’t sit without help, but I think I’ll be okay. You’ll have to ask the Major, he hasn’t told me what’s wrong with me yet.” she whispered.
“So, you’re both here. Vell, are ve done talking?”
‘Sir, What happened to Helena?” Max asked.
The Major stood and walked over to them.
“Helena vell be fine in a couple of veeks. Her ankle is sprained and she injured her back vhen she fell and broke one of her ribs. But it vill heal and it vill be fine.”
“Fine? It will be fine? This is all your fault!” Max exclaimed, his anger showing clearly in his eyes.
The Major raised his eyebrows. “My fault? Vas I the one climbing trees vhen I should have been delivering a message?”
Max gave the Major a confused look. “What message?”
The Major grinned. “Well it certainly wasn’t and message of failing grades I’m talking about.”
“I don’t understand what you mean about any message. I gave you the paper in my pocket and you saw it. It was just my report card.”
“Yes, you have been taught vell, really vell.”  But you can’t play games with me. I vant the real message.”
Max gave him a blank look while Helena still looked confused.
The Major glared at Max. “I vant that message, and I’ll get it. Now--”
A knock on the door interrupted the Major. “Wilhelm stepped in, saluting the Major. “Sir, One of the spies has just returned. The Captain is requesting you in his office. I’m supposed to stay with them.” he said, motioning to Max and Helena.
“Ack! I just started here and I’m called away.” He stood, his anger showing in his eyes. He turned to Max.  “I’ll be back. Don’t you doubt it!” With that he hurried out, closing the door behind him. The moment the door clicked shut, Wilhelm hurried over a took the Major’s chair.
“You are Max Autenburg. Correct?”
Max nodded cautiously. “How does everyone here know my full name?”
“The Major knows everything! The only reason I know, is because I am your contact. I gave the message to Helena’s father who said he would have a young man named Max Autenburg deliver it. When you were brought in last night, I assumed you were that boy. No one else would have been out last night. When I saw you I was sure. Has the Major gotten the message from you? Have you told him anything?”
Max shook his head. The message is safe, but not for long. The Major is getting frustrated.”
“Do you have it with you?”
“Max nodded and patted his pocket.
“Give it here. Quick, before the major gets back!”
Max put his hand in his pocket to draw it out, then hesitated. “How do I know you’re telling the truth? Not just someone trying to help the Major?”
“My real name is Daniel Wilson.” he said taking the hat off his head and brushing his black wavy hair down over his forehead.
Max eyes opened wide. “Daniel? This is where you have been?”
Helena interrupted. “Who is Daniel Wilson, Max?”
Max turned to Helena. “Him and my sister, Lisiel, are engaged. You remember last year, when we visited Vienna? I told you about him.”
Hemela nodded. “You look just like the picture Lisiel showed me.”
“Anyway, I need the message, Max. Now, before the Major returns.”
“Max handed him the message, which Daniel hurriedly tuck inside his shirt.
“When the Major returns act as though you still have to message. If not He’ll know something is up. “
Max nodded. “I think I can handle the Major as long as I really don’t have what he’s after.”
“Be careful” Daniel warned him. “The Major will stop at nothing to get the information he wants. When he knows you don’t have what he’s after, I’m not sure what he’ll do. “
“Daniel, I saw the Major’s map. Are the Nazi’s really after all those poeple?” Helena asked.
“You saw the map? Does he know you saw it?”
Helena bit her lip. “I think so.”
Daniel shook his head. “That can’t be good. I answer to your question, yes, Hitler calls those people a “danger to future of the Reich” so they will be gotten rid of. I’m just trying to do whatever possible to stop it.”
The Major’s steps were heard in the hallway. Daniel hurriedly put the hat back on his head.
“Remember, If either of you ever see me, you don’t know me. And if for any reason you have to address me, my name is Wilhelm.”
Both Helena and Max nodded.
“I’ll try to let your parents know that you are here.”
The door opened and the Major entered the room.
“Vell, are ve ready to get back to business?” The Major asked. “How vere they, Wilhelm?”
“They just sat here, sir. I didn’t have any problems.”
“Gut. You may excuse us now. We are going to finish our little chat.”
He resumed his seat in the chair.
“Vell, Where were we? Oh, yes, the message. Give it here.” he put out his hand expectantly.
Max crossed his arms. “I’ve already told you.” I have nothing else in my pocket.”
The Major narrowed his eyes. “No, you never told me that. Not until now. You merely said you had given me the message.”
Max’s heart began to beat wildly as he realized his mistake. I just did what Daniel warned me about! He can’t get into trouble.
“So,” the Major continued. “Vhere is the message now? Perhaps Helena has it? Or you hid it somevhere else?”
Max shook his head, praying the fear didn’t show in his eyes. “I don’t have it. The paper in my pocket was the one I gave you. The report card.”
The Major, clearly losing patience, stood up and grabbed Max roughly by the shoulder. “Ve’ll se about that!” He shoved his hands in Max’s pockets. Finding nothing, he knelt down still he was at eye level with Max. “Tell me now! Vhere did you hide it?”
“I hid nothing!” Max exclaimed, trying desperately to pull away from the Major’s iron grip. “And I didn’t give it to Helena, or hide it anywhere. As I told you before, I gave you the paper!”
The Major took a deep breath as he let go of Max and slowly stood. “Vell, that’s rather unfortunate. See, if you had had it, ve vould have just taken it and let you go. But ve can’t let you go now. Not vithout knowing vhat you know.”
He walked over and opened the door. “”Whilhelm!” At his shout, Daniel appeared almost instantly. “Take this young man back to his room.” he said, motioning to Max “And make sure he is comfortable. After all” he chuckled “Ve are not at var and they are not prisoners. Whilhelm nodded as Max was ushered out the door. Suddenly the Major turned “Heil Hitler!” he said, with a salute directed at Max. Max looked at him, puzzled. The Major grinned. “Oh, I seem to have forgotten. You are now a part of Germany. It is mandatory for citizens to reply to their superior vith that salute.”
He raised his eyebrow and glared at Max.
Max reluctantly raised his arm in a salute. “Heil Hitler. But not for long.”  He muttered to himself.
“Vhat was that you said?”
“Oh, just es lebe Deutschland .”
The Major glanced at him curiously. “And I agree. Long live Germany!”
The Major once again entered his office and closed the door firmly behind him.
“Such children. Are they telling the truth?” He muttered as he closed the door.
He turned to Helena “Your friend speaks german vell. You two are really remarkable. But now that it is just you and I, ve must talk, about this.” He pulled the map from his pocket.
‘And this.” he placed the riding whip on the table.
“It’s a handsome riding whip.” Helena acknowledged. “Do you ride often?”
“Yes, quite a bit, actually, but that is not vhat I vant to discus. I found this in the drawer along vhith the map  vhen you vhere sleeping. You vouldn’t happen to have any idea how it got there, voud you?”
What should I say? How much does he know? Helena wondered.
“It blew off your desk. The window was open and there was a breeze. I thought you would not want it to get lost and I put it there for you.”
“Vell, that is interesting, especially since vhen I Came back to the room none of the papers that vhere on the floor vhere close to the bed. And ve both know you can’t valk. But the papers vhere close enough that you night have reached them vhith this.” He held out the whip.
Helena sighed. He knows everything! And I’m at his mercy. He knows I can’t move without his help.
As if reading her thoughts, the Major smiled. “Don’t worry. I vill not hurt you. I simply vant to know the truth. Did you read it?”
“It’s in German.”
“I think ve both know that vouldn’t stop you. What did you see?”
Helena swallowed. Best to just tell the truth. He already knew enough.
“I saw some of the neighborhoods here in Innsbruck. Some of them were marked with an X”
“And vhat else?” the Major leaned forward. “Vhat else did you see?”
“I saw one word at the bottom.”
“And vhat did it say?”
Ausrotten,” Helena whispered.
The Major leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms. “So you do know. I thought as much.” He stood up and paced the room before stopping by the door. “It’s supper. Are you hungry? I vill bring you some food vhen I come back.”
Helena looked up, startled. That was all? No yelling, no shouting? Just. . .supper?
“Uh, danke.”
The Major smiled. “bitte schön.”



Then he walked out, closing the door behind him. For the second time that day, Helena heard the lock turn in the door.

The Tomb is . . . empty.

Matthew 28:1-9 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mar...