Chapter 4

Written by: Ant Gavin Smits
Helen had almost tripped when she was pushed back against the recessed door. She drew a deep breath, steadied herself. This street was exposed to the river. The wind teased more of her hair out and chilled her face another few degrees.
 
The woman had turned her face away and Helen thought about the torch. She could pull it out, could bash her, run—
 
“Ralph?” Helen saw her brother over the woman’s shoulder. How was it possible?
 
She blurted his name and for half a breath things were all right, before she saw his face change as the woman claimed control.
 
They walked, heading for her flat as ordered. Helen sneaked a glance at Ralph, knowing the woman and her gun were half a pace behind. Her heart leaped joyously when he winked, head down, apparently cowed, face almost hidden under the thick scarf and upturned coat collar. Did he have a plan?
 
As they entered her building and the wind’s icy grip left them, Helen saw her draw out the gun again, determined, focused, ushering them towards the stairs.
 
“How did you get involved?” Ralph spoke low, so their captor wouldn’t catch it over the jumbled clomp of their shoes on the worn wooden stairs. He hissed the pronoun, emphasising it with worry and annoyance.
 
Helen didn't dare reply.
 
Once in the apartment, the woman gestured with the pistol. “Sit. Backs against the cupboard. Both hands flat on the floor.”
 
She pulled out a chair from the kitchen table and turned it, sitting where she could watch them and the door beyond that led into the hall.
 
“Lucie—,” Ralph began.
 
So, she had a name. But how did her brother know the woman?
 
At least they were together.
 
Her voice was harsh in the cold kitchen. “No talking. We’re waiting for André. And then you’ll tell us about Se Lever, your resistance cell…” She paused and the ten feet of space between them shimmered with intent “Yes, we know about your trips to France, your little tête-à-têtes with traitors hoping to aid your invasion. You’ll give us names, codes. Or we’ll kill Helen.”
 
A bang and draft of chilly air announced a new arrival; a tall figure appeared in the doorway and tossed his umbrella onto the table.
 
Helen gasped. Of course. André was the man she’d followed and lost; the cripple who had been acting.
 
“H-hello,” said Helen, looking at him, a tall, thin, threatening figure, as he moved several steps closer and seemed about to reach for her and drag her upright.
 
“Betraying your country, André?Ralph’s voice reflected the disgust in his face.
 
André grinned, nastily. “Nein, Ralph. I did evacuate with you from Dunkirk, yes. Another soldier separated from his fellows. But I was separated from my unit on purpose, to stop people like you.
 
You’re … German?” Helen couldn’t believe it.
 
André didn’t answer. He looked at Lucie. “Anything here we can tie these two with? I don’t want them loose.” 

Comments

There were some great hints for the next writer to pick up on....resistance movement and the escaped German. You opened the door to a number of possibilities for the next writer...namely me. You connected the characters and gave each a reason to be part of the story. They were real and the situation believable. The way you describe the kitchen is also easy to imagine.