A metallic thwacking sound and three bare bulbs burst to life. Henry, with his hands still on the table, blinked as his eyes adjusted. He straightened an looked down at the model before him. It looked like a warehouse with tiny boxes stacked on each other and a series of pathways, but it was not very organized.
Darkness returned with a clank. The bulbs faded and another light appeared well off in the distance. Henry was standing at one end of a massive warehouse. He realized the model was a layout of what would be the battle ground. Now, as his eyes tried to focus, he could see Luna on a platform, tied to a chair. The light above her head faded.
In the darkness Henry listened for a sound, anything. He wanted her to yell to him, but nothing. Then the lights above him jumped to life and he heard the major’s voice. “The war hero, Henry Wood, so pleased to see you.”
“You’ve gone to a lot of work, here, Major.”
“I’m glad you like it.”
“I don’t, but you seem to be holding all the cards, so why don’t you deal and let’s get this game started.”
“I had hoped for some banter. You know, reminiscing between old…friends.”
“You want banter? Sure, I can do that. Why don’t you let Luna go and we can have a nice long chat. Heck, I’ll even let you have my medals, if that is what you want.”
The Major yelled, “That is NOT what I want…YOUR medals…your pity.”
“I don’t pity you. I don’t care at all. I barely knew you during the war, heck, I’d been there two days. Things got messed up and I did what I could to save my men. It all worked out.”
“If you had followed orders, my plan would have worked and…”
“And you’d have gotten the awards and promotions, I know, I get it, but the Germans didn’t see things the same way, they didn’t do what you expected, and it all went to shit.”
“It went to shit because you didn’t follow orders.”
“You’re an idiot.”
There was a long silence and then the Major walked out from the shadows, with the two men who had brought Henry to the warehouse. “Mr. Woods, what you see before you is the battle field,” said the Major, as he grabbed a long stick and pointed, “Here is your objective, your lovely lady friend.”
Henry saw a tiny platform on the map and there was a little wooden chair with a small doll tied to it.
The Major pointed to several paths through the boxes, “This central path is the quickest route, but it guarded by soldiers, here and here. They are heavily armed. The path to the right is more circuitous but we don’t know if there are any troops stationed along its path. The trail through the higher stacks of boxes and crates is dangerous terrain and could contain snipers.”
Henry studied the details of the board and it looked rather grim. “What are my resources, Major? Do I even get a gun.”
“Of course you do, in fact, there is a supply depot, here,” he said pointing with the stick and smacking it against a spot on the map that would be directly to Henry’s left.
“Okay, so when does the battle commence?”
“After the briefing there will be fifteen minutes for you to ready yourself and…”
Henry wasn’t waiting, he reached under the edge of the giant model and gave a massive heave. The edge of the table tilted up and took out all three lights. Henry pushed from the bottom of the table and felt it crashing into the Major, who was caught completely off guard. The two men standing on either side of him moved enough that they weren’t knocked down, but they were startled. Henry bolted to the right.
Though they were now in darkness, Henry had kept his right eye, which was obscured by the brim of his fedora, closed. As soon as the lights popped, he closed the left and opened the right. He had one eye that was already adjusted to the dark and it was just enough to see the edges of where the path on the right started.
He could hear the screaming of the Major and the two men lifting the heavy model off his chest. As soon as he rounded the corner, Henry took off his shoes. There was a stack of boxes near the corner behind him and he moved silently behind them. It was but a moment when he heard the heavy footsteps of two men running towards where Henry had just been. The Major shouted that Henry had taken “Charlie”, which must mean that the center was Bravo and the “Canyon” pass was Alpha.
Henry slipped around the boxes and started along the wall towards the center, where he had just been. He couldn’t see much, but the faint outline of the upturned table gave him a sense where the central path started. The supplies would be along the wall, near the far corner.
He heard a man yell, “I don’t see him” and then the beams of flashlights could be seen. Henry saw four distinct lights and it appeared that two of them had swung over from the middle. He couldn’t hear any sounds coming from the left. He reached the crate with the supplies but couldn’t see what was on it.
His hands came across a military issue .45 and felt two clips next to it. Henry quietly picked up the gun and checked, it was loaded, but he didn’t want to risk chambering a round and having the sound give away his position.
Henry, carrying his shoes still, padded back across the wall and moments later two of the men, carrying lights in one hand and hand guns in the other, came out of Charlie passage. One said to the other, “He must have doubled back, check the weapons table.” The man who was giving the orders passed his light along the back wall and Henry just made it to the safety of the corner boxes.