BRITISH COMICS

(Adventure Homepage)

THEY’LL TRY IT AGAIN!

First episode taken from Adventure issue: 1129 March 24th 1945.

We didn’t finish the Germans in 1918

They rose again in 1939

If we don’t finish them in 1945

THEY’LL TRY IT AGAIN!

WASHINGTON—1965.

“Senator Travis is engaged at the moment, but will see you when he is free. Will you please wait?” The clerk was civil enough, and he waved an inviting hand towards one of the window seats which gave a fine view of the Potomac River, yet Captain Jarvie Rhodes, as he grunted and turned away, gritted his teeth with impatience. It was always the same. Wherever he went in Washington, the United States capital, he was told to wait. It was always a question of coming at some other hour, on some other day. Nobody, in any Government department, was willing or able to receive him at once. They did not seem to realise that his business was urgent, and that the fate of the country itself might depend on the information he had to give. Washington, and particularly the numerous departments in the Capitol, was top-heavy with officials. There seemed to be ten doing the work of three. It was always necessary to see three minor officials before meeting the one who could deal with any important matter. He seated himself heavily, a tall, lean, well-knit young man of military appearance, in spite of the fact his navy blue lounge suit was of the best London cut. He might have been a young member of the British Embassy, or the representative of a Government Buying Commission, but he was none of these. In his right hand trouser pocket Jarvie Rhodes fingered a silver button about the size of a shilling. On the front of that button was embossed the inter-mixed flags of a dozen different nations. On the back were the simple letters—I.S.P. Jarvie Rhodes was a captain in the International Security Police. Since the ending of the Second World War, with the Allied Nations as the victors, an effort had been made to prevent any such catastrophe as a world war ever occurring again. An international force had been organised to see that country plotted to make war on its neighbour. Affiliated with this purely military force were the International Security Police. Their task was that which had been carried out by the Secret Services and Intelligence Departments of nations before the war, but whereas these services had worked only for their own country, the I.S.P. worked in the interest of world peace. The members consisted of picked men from all the Allied countries, from Britain, the United States, Russia, France, and the smaller nations which had shown themselves interested in the cause of freedom and democracy. The police force worked secretly, and was entirely international. In each country there were members who were not native born. There were just a many American agents in Britain as there were Britons in America. Jarvie Rhodes, though a Briton by birth, had worked in the United States for five years, attached to a New York department.

His work was chiefly connected with immigration. There had been a great lowering of barriers between Allied countries after the war, and it was now much easier for a person from one country to move to and settle in another. Yet the Governments kept watch on those who made there moves, for it was known that there were subversive elements trying to cause trouble between the friendly nations. That had been Captain Rhodes’ special job, and here he was in Washington, this hot afternoon in the summer of 1965, anxious to make a report to the head of the U.S. Immigration Bureau. “Will you please wait!” he repeated, disgustedly. “I suppose when my time comes I’ll be told that Travis has gone to lunch, and when I come back this afternoon I’ll be informed he’s gone to a conference at the White House. Anyone would think they didn’t want to hear what I have to tell them. Doesn’t it interest them to know that a hundred thousand Germans have slipped into the United States under non-German passports during the past six months?” He watched a queue of helicopters come in from the residential suburbs and wait their turn to land on one of the big overhead concrete parking places near the centre of the city. These helicopters, with slow landing speeds, were very popular for short distance and urban travelling, but for really long distances work the rocket planes were the vogue. The latter needed a much bigger space for a take off, and for that reason were confined to the out of town aerodromes. A low flying plane passed too close to the Capitol, and a warning rocket was discharged from one of the aerial traffic directors’ posts. Low flying was forbidden over the centre of the city, through aerial accidents were now very rare. The Capitol was one of the few buildings in Washington which retained the old fashioned ability to open its windows on pleasant days. It was because of this that Jarvie Rhodes could hear the noises outside. Most other buildings had air conditioning, which operated even though they were hermetically sealed. No sounds from outside penetrated such buildings as those.

The Briton sometimes thought this was over doing things. It seemed uncanny to have such quietness. Then he cocked his head on one side, and frowned. There was an unusual noise, rather like that of a great wind approaching. The roaring shriek came louder and louder, until he rose to his feet and craned his neck to try and see above the building. Whoo-oomph! The downward rush of the invisible missile created a terrible noise. Then came a dull thud, the building trembled and the windows rattled vigorously. Next minute there was another mighty roaring noise from the sky, and yet another dull thud which caused the ground to tremble. Doors opened, and men came running out. Jarvie Rhodes could hear telephones ringing in agitated fashion. He longed to ask what was the matter, but everyone seemed too busy to deal with him, and he did not wish to lose his place outside the door of Senator Travis. For some reason he felt chilled, and buttoned up his jacket. He had not expected to feel cold in Washington today. They usually had too much heat in the city these days. Staring glumly from the window, he suddenly noticed that people were turning up their collars and putting their hands in their pockets. Yet the sun was shining brightly. “Must be an exceptional wind,” he murmured. “Brr-rrr-rrrrr! The temperature’s dropping faster than it does in the tropics after sunset. Anyone would think it was January, instead of August.” Hardly had the notion entered his head, than there was the noise of express trains rushing through the air close by. He leaned out of the window to see if some super heavy machine was passing overhead, but saw none. Whoom-ph! Whoo-ooomph! The ground jolted and jerked twice as two separate objects landed somewhere not far away. The second jerk caused Rhodes to knock his head against the raised edge of the window through which he was leaning. He was still rubbing his skull when a bald headed man with spectacles dangling on the edge of a black ribbon, came rushing out of the Senator’s room and made for the corridor. “What are those noises?” shouted Captain Rhodes, too curious to remember his manners. “We don’t know, sir, but some sort of missiles appear to be coming down. Maybe they are shooting stars or meteorites. One has destroyed the Central Railway Depot….I should say it would be wise to stay in here, sir,” gasped the man, as he turned into a side passage en route for the Presidential apartments. Jarvie Rhodes frowned. He had never heard of a rain of meteorites in this part of America, especially in the middle of a summer’s day, but more puzzling than this tidings was the even greater fall of temperature that was occurring. He began to feel numb, and as he reached to close the heavy window he saw people in the streets pausing to bang their hands and stamp their feet. The air seemed to have taken on an unusual sparkle. It stung when it was drawn into the lungs.

The cold was eating into his bones. It made him feel sleepy. “This is crazy!” he said, aloud, as he stamped up and down the tiled floor. “It’s an almost Arctic cold, and in August. The temperature must have dropped eighty degrees in a few minutes. It can only be some atmospheric disturbance…” He suddenly gaped when two passing cars ran into each other. They did not overturn, neither did the drivers get out. They seemed to be sitting sleeping at their wheels. The Potomac River was taking on a glittering, glassy appearance, and loud tooting came from numerous sirens. Rhodes stared, then rubbed his eyes with fingers that were going as white as snow. “This is crazy!” he said. “The river’s freezing. The air’s sparkling with frost. People are huddling down in corners, and leaving their vehicles. There’s a dog cowering to the ground as though frozen stiff, and—yes. It can’t be true, but that fountain out there is already frozen solid!” A comfortable numbness gripped him, and he lay back on the padded window seat to lapse into a sleepy coma. Silence brooded over the Capitol. No longer did messengers hurry along the corridors. No longer did bells ring and voices sound behind the doors. Gradually the centre of Government administration in the United States became as still as a tomb.

INVASION!

An hour passed, and the thermometer in a corner of the hall cracked and dropped. The mercury had gone blow the lowest point of registration. An icy stillness held everything in bond. The street showed no motion. Thousands of people lay like corpses where they had first seated themselves and then stretched out as comfortably as possible. Here and there had been car collisions, but remarkably few. Out on the river a blazing ship was wedged with others in ice that was ten feet thick. Just how it had come to catch on fire, there was no means of knowing. Flying boats from the other side of the Atlantic were trapped in the same ice. No helicopters passed overhead. The intense cold had driven pilots to seek refuge on the nearest landing place. Not even the sea gulls sported in the air above the river. Washington was like a city of the dead. Then came a low, purring hum, and out of the eastern sky came a helicopter of the trans-Continental type, a fast streamlined vehicle capable of holding fifty or sixty people. In direct contravention of all city laws, it alighted easily enough in the middle of the square before the Capitol. The doors slid open, and men appeared. They were heavily clad in what appeared to be aviators’ garments. Such insulated suits, fitted with electrical heating, were used by the pilots and crew of the mail planes which sped through the Stratosphere in many parts of the world. But in this case each man bore a Swastika on his breast, the crooked cross of the one time Third German Reich, and each man was armed to the teeth. Forty of them emerged, lined up, and looked about them arrogantly. They had three of their number who were evidently higher than the others, for the remaining two raised their hands to him in the former Nazi salute. “All is ready, Herr Obermann!” said one of these. From the depths of the insulated helmet his voice came with metallic harshness. “Then forward to the Capitol!” growled the one so addressed. “It looks to me as though V.21 has done its work well. All four missiles landed in the right place. It was good work from a two hundred miles range. Stiffly the party moved forward, stepping over the prostrate citizens of Washington, who knew nothing of their passing. The breath of these protected men escaped by way of small exhaust pipes, and turned to steam in the icy air. Obermann Schofold led his force up the imposing steps and into the Capitol. The guards on the door, the watchman and the messengers, lay or sprawled about like frozen corpses. The newcomers’ eye glittered with triumph. In the great hall at the foot of the curved staircase the leader of the band turned. “See how well our scientists have served us!” he growled. “Was not the Fuehrer II right to trust in them? If the first Fuehrer had only lived to see this day!”

There were low growls from his listeners, and they passed on to the Presidential apartments. President Wilcox had been hard at work when the icy cold had struck Washington. He was now huddled at his desk, with his advisers and secretaries around him, all motionless, their skins dead white, their eyes closed. In some cases frost and ice had formed about their mouths, especially on those who had moustaches. Without hesitation Obermann Schofold walked to the chair of the President and lifted the ruler of the United States in his powerful arms. With a contemptuous grimace he dropped him heavily upon the carpet, and took the vacant chair. “Take him away and keep him somewhere safe!” he rasped, in his own tongue. “Remove all these others. Hernig and Bauer stay here. The rest of you go about your business. You know what to do. Remove the heads of all departments, and put our own men in their place. The underlings do not matter. They will do as they are told when they recover in a few hours’ time, but let all dangerous men be put under arrest. I charge you with this, Eber!” “Ja, Herr Obermann Schofold, I will carry out your orders as I would the orders of the Fuehrer himself!” rasped the thick necked man addressed. He and his heavy footed companions could be heard tramping all over the Capitol. The Obermann looked about the panelled room where so many Presidents of the United States had sat, and his eyes glinted with pride. On the walls were portraits of all those Presidents, freely elected by the people of America, but now for the first time there sat in that chair one who had not been elected, one who was there as a representative of a man who intended to rule the world by force. “Strange how easy it all was, when the time came!” murmured Obermann Schofold. “I am surprised that all their spies and Security Police did not discover more about our preparations in Germany during the past few years. They must be fools!” “Nein, Herr Obermann, not fools, but cleverly misled by the genius of Fuehrer II,” corrected the man called Hernig. “The International Security Police have been keeping watch on Germany itself because they knew we schemed revenge, but they took it for granted we were likely to plan a blow against Britain and France. They watched for the signs. They forgot we would have learned a lesson.” “Ja, twice we Germans tried to dominate Europe without first settling with America,” agreed the man who had taken over from the President of the United States. It was a mistake, and our great new leader realised that. He insisted that although we must make ready to destroy those accursed British, we must first make sure America cannot come to their aid. He was wise. Once we have seized the United States, and prevented her from sending aid to Britain, then we can strike over there with paralysing effect. Our new weapons will wipe out everyone in those islands.” There were low growls of approval and satisfaction from his companions.

They remembered how they had waged underground war against the armies of occupation for many years, until their leader had secretly risen amongst them—the man they called Fuehrer II. He had preached a new form of war, a war which could not be checked by the Arms Commissions and Controllers of the victorious Allies. He had pointed out that it was not necessary to have millions of men, hundreds of thousands of tanks and guns, and vast fleets of bombers. Specialised weapons of terrible power could be produced in secret and employed when the right moment came. Something of the possibility of these weapons had been learned in 1944 and 1945, when the famous V.1 and V.2, had been used against Britain. The new Fuehrer had set scientists to work, and for nearly twenty years they had been labouring to perfect the devices which would enable a Nazi Germany to arise as a new Colossus to bestride the world. The determination to remove all risk of the United States again interfering, had caused Fuehrer II to plant Nazi “cells” in every American town. Secret weapons had been installed on private estates near every large American city, and now that the signal had been given they were being used. The attack on Washington was simultaneous with attacks on other Government centres in the country. Freezing bombs, capable of stilling all life over an area of several square miles, had come whistling out of the sky in many places. The entrance of one of the section leaders of the insulated Nazis interrupted the triumvirate as they sat around George Washington’s desk. “All has been accomplished, Herr Obermann. We have made contact with those from the two other planes which landed in other parts of the city. In every case things have gone according to plan. There has been no hitch.” “That is excellent!” exclaimed Obermann Schofold, tugging at his uncomfortable helmet. “I suppose it will be a couple of hours or more before we dare remove these outfits. Have you put men in to staff the International Television Service?” “Ja, Herr Obermann. I had a report three minutes ago to say they can put you in contact with Fuehrer II any time you wish. The screen is in the smaller ante-room.” He pointed to a corner door, and the three Nazi bosses rose, walking ponderously across the polished floor to the adjoining chamber. It was from this room that the president had been in the habit of addressing his countrymen over the chain of television stations which had sprung up throughout the United States and Europe since the last war. Seated at a table, he could both be seen and heard by the millions of owners of sets in their own homes.

Recently trans-Atlantic television had been perfected, and now the heads of Governments in Washington could speak with the heads of Governments in London as readily as though across a room. Obermann Schofold had no intention of speaking to London. When he barked instructions, and someone ran to the control room to tell the radio engineers, it was to a certain remote spot in the mountains of Bavaria that they directed their “beam.” Suddenly the screen, some ten feet by eight, became fully illuminated. Trees whirled across the line of vision, the roofs of pleasant wooded chalets, mountain peaks capped with snow, and finally there came a view of a massive building which appeared to be carved out of solid rock. It was the hidden retreat of the new German leader—Fuehrer II, whom the International Security Police had sought for several years past. The scene dissolved to that of a small room, bare, spartan in its furnishings, but for the Swastika flags which draped the walls and ceiling. Only on one wall were there no flags, and there hung an immense map of Europe showing the countries and areas which had been occupied by the Nazis during the height of Hitler’s conquests. The new Fuehrer kept this map before him as an inspiration. At first there was no sign of life in that room in Bavaria, but presently the door at the back opened, and those three Nazi officers raised their hands in the salute which had come to be abominated throughout the civilised world. “Heil, Fuehrer, heil!” they chorused. “Heil!” came from the figure on the screen, and his voice, though thin and metallic, was clear. Nearly six feet in height, with a square, close-cropped head, and face marked by saber cuts, he was utterly unlike the man who had first been acclaimed as Fuehrer. Less than forty years of age, he had been only a boy when he had fought in the Hitler Youth at the tail-end of Germany’s last struggle against the victorious Allies. His hard jaw jutted out firmly, and his lips seemed to bite off the words. “Well, Comrades, what news have you for me?” Obermann Schofold nearly burst with importance. His voice became hoarse and shrill as he reported—“The very best, mein Fuehrer! All your plans have been carried out exactly. Washington is ours, and the seat of Government in America is now in our hands completely. V.21 proved itself to be the most potent weapon yet used. We had no opposition. It was like coming to a city of the dead. We hear that simultaneous blows are being struck at other cities, and—” “Never mind about other cities, Obermann!” snarled the man who hoped to rule the world in the name of a Nazi Germany.

“Concern yourself only with your own task. You have taken Washington. Good! Now use it as I ordered. See that nothing happens to upset our hold on it. Use all the appliances and artifices that you have at your disposal, and above all—break the people to my will! You understand? Break—the—people!” “Ja, Herr Fuehrer, ja, we will certainly do that. There will be no trouble here,” promised the Obermann. “You can rely on us.” “Good! Now I have to listen to the report from New York. Get through to me on the same wavelength at the same time tomorrow.” A switch must have been pushed over, for the screen suddenly became dark. Somewhere outside the trickle of water could be heard. A thaw was setting in. The strong summer sunshine was dissipating the effect of the terrible freezing rockets.

THE MAN THEY MISSED.

Shivering, stiff, and aching, Jarvie Rhodes stretched and yawned. His first thought was that he had uncovered himself in bed, and that it had turned colder during the night. Then he blinked to find the afternoon sunshine in his eyes, and looked about him in dismay. The Capitol…his intended interview with Senator Travis…his long wait…his important report…then those noisy and mysterious missiles out of the sky…the intense coldness… “What the dickens has happened?” he demanded, glad there was no one in the corridor to see him unwind himself from the window seat and stretch his cramped legs. “Brr-rr-rrrr! It’s chilly in here, though the window’s shut, and outside it must—” He paused, with mouth agape, for he had just looked through the frosted window to see hundreds of vehicles at rest, thousands of people sprawling on the ground like frozen images. Even the river was frozen, through a haze over it told that a thaw was setting in. He pinched himself to see if he was dreaming, then heard footsteps behind him. Someone was striding along the corridor in purposeful fashion, head up, chest thrown out, limbs moving stiffly. Jarvie Rhodes had never seen anyone walk quite like that in the Capitol before. This clerk might have been on a parade ground. He glared at Captain Rhodes, and barked—“Yes, what are you doing here?” Jarvie Rhodes did not like his tone. He was not accustomed to being addressed in that manner, but rather than make trouble, he replied: “I was waiting to see the head of the Immigration Bureau, and—and there was some delay. But can you tell me what’s been happening outside? Surely there can’t have been a hard frost in the middle of August? The people appear to be frozen, and—” “I’m not here to discuss the climatic conditions, but to conduct visitors to the Immigration Bureau!” snapped the man. “What name, please?” “Jarvie Rhodes, but—” “Then please to follow me. The Minister is busy, but as you had a prior appointment he will no doubt see you.” Still wondering if he was in a bad dream, but glad to think his mission in the Capitol was to be accomplished at last, Captain Rhodes followed the stiff backed clerk to the big, carved door. The clerk knocked softly, someone growled an order, and Rhodes’ guide opened the door.

“A Mr Jarvie Rhodes to see you, Herr Minister!” he said. “He has been waiting for some hours. It may be something of importance.” The startled Rhodes found himself inside a room which he had visited on several occasions. Behind an imposing desk sat a stout man, and the first thing Rhodes noticed was that he wore an elaborate uniform with a golden swastika on each sleeve. Shaven headed, big mouthed, with an impressive nose, he glared at the newcomer in no very amiable fashion. “Ja, yes, what is it?” he snapped. “What do you want to see me about?” Jarvie Rhodes blinked at the uniform, and at the sight of an automatic pistol hanging at the man’s belt. Through an open inner door he could see half a dozen frightened looking clerks cowering as a burly black uniformed man with a revolver and whip stood hectoring them. “Er—there must be some mistake!” stammered Rhodes, wondering if he had a high fever. “My appointment is with Senator Travis of the Immigration Bureau.” “Sit down! Robert Travis holds the post no longer. He has been—er—removed. I am his successor. What is your business? Speak quickly, for we have no time to waste. We believe in efficiency here now.” There was not the slightest doubt about it decided Jarvie Rhodes that it was a German uniform the man wore. How in the name of wonder could a German officer in old-fashioned Nazi uniform, be sitting in the Capitol at Washington? Twice he opened his lips to speak, and twice no sounds came. The man behind the desk leaned forward and tapped his thick finger. “You seem puzzled about something, my friend, but there is no reason to be so. It is all quite simple. You were waiting out there in the corridor when something happened. The temperature began to drop, ja? You became sleepy, and finally fell asleep, ja? While you slept certain changes were made in the Government of the United States. Washington the Capitol, and every branch of the Government, has been taken over by the Fifth Reich. Go about your business peacefully and quietly, and you will not be molested, but do not waste my time, that is all I ask!” “The F—Fifth Reich!” stammered the Briton. “Is this a joke?” “A joke! Our foes will find it no joke!” thundered the man in the chair. “The blow was struck on instructions from our Fuehrer in Germany, The President has been replaced. The country has been taken over from the top, but there is no reason why business should not go on peacefully for the ordinary masses of people. All we are determined to prevent is any interference in Europe—while we settle our debt with Britain!”

He almost spat the last few words. It was obvious he did not know Jarvie Rhodes was a Briton. All at once Rhodes remembered a whisper he had heard from one of his colleagues in the European branch of the I.S.P. about the German invention of a freezing bomb or rocket that could freeze everything over a wide area near where it had burst. In a flash he realised he was not dreaming. This was grim reality. In some fantastic way the Germans had seized the headquarters of the United States Government, and possibly many other important places as well. The very blow which he and his colleagues had been trying to fend off had happened, but instead of first falling on Britain, it had been struck at the United States. His first reaction was one of horror, then rage seized him, and he felt inclined to draw the automatic which he had hidden on his person, and to drive this usurper out of his chair. The crack of a whip, and a sharp cry from the next room, reminded him the Nazi was not alone. There would be others, S.S. men, Gestapo agents, possibly members of the staff who had been introduced amongst the loyal Americans during past years. “Well, your business, Mr Rhodes—?” repeated the new head of the Immigration Bureau, and Jarvie Rhodes could have laughed when he recollected he had come there to warn the U.S. authorities about the abnormal number of Germans entering the country. “I—er—well, the fact is—” he stammered, playing for time, and realising that on no account must he let them suspect he was a member of the I.S.P. “I am a manufacturer, and wish to import some cheap labour from Chile. There is a law against such things, but as it would benefit the country by reducing the cost of the articles produced, I wondered if an exception could be made.” “Come back in a month’s time, and see me again, Mr Rhodes!” snapped the Nazi. “By then the bureau will be running smoothly, and we shall have time to listen to your idea. Cheap labour is certainly a boon to any country, but there will be plenty of that in this country very soon. Good afternoon, and do not get into trouble before you see me again. Remember the ordinary citizen need not suffer any inconvenience as long as he sticks to his work and does not try to impede us in any way.” Jarvie Rhodes murmured something and made for the door. He was probably the only member of the I.S.P). now free in Washington, and he owed this to the fact that he had been in civvies instead of in his uniform.

He must make for the I.S.P. headquarters and try to rescue certain important papers which he knew to be there. There were reasons why those papers should not fall into the hands of the Nazis. He had plenty of work to do. At the entrance to the Capitol grim figures stood in steel helmets and Nazi uniforms, holding tommy-guns across their arms. They looked at him sternly, and he tried to look as unconcerned as possible. At the bottom of the steps others of the same corps were keeping back the crowds of citizens who were pushing forward in somewhat menacing manner. “We want to know what has happened to the President!” shouted one man. “What’s been going on? We’re not going to stand for any funny business. We’re free born Americans, and we’re coming in to see the President. I bet he can’t agree with this sort of thing. Come on!” He waved to the others, and started up the steps. One of the Nazis raised his tommy-gun, and there was a hoarse rattle as he poured nine or ten bullets into the American’s body. The crowd scattered, muttering and crying out in horror. The Nazi grinned, and winked at one of his comrades. “They’ll soon learn!” he said, in German. Swallowing down his wrath, Jarvie Rhodes hurried across the road and down a side turning. He dared not let himself see too much of what was going on. He had his duty to perform. The headquarters of the I.S.P. was in a quiet street, in a one time mansion. He must get there with all possible speed. In the doorway of the building which he was approaching there were two armed S.S. men. There was no doubt that the place had been occupied. All his colleagues would have been carried off to gaol. But what had happened to the precious File 43, which had been one of his special charges? Had its hiding place been discovered? He approached the two S.S. men, and one of them covered him with a sub-machine gun. “Is it possible to speak to—to the new chief?” he stammered, feigning nervousness. “I have some information to give him—important information about those who ran the police before you came. My name’s Muller, and I’m a good Nazi.” He spoke in perfect German, and the fact must have impressed them, for the elder of the pair growled—“Straight across the hall up the stairs, and the first door on the right. Tell the sentry we sent you.” Jarvie Rhodes stammered his thanks, and passed inside the well remembered building. A dead body lay in a corner of the hall, and he recognised one of his best friends, an American named Walters. So there had been fighting! He climbed the stairs, determined to bluff his way into that inner room where the important file was hidden. In the next few minutes he would need all his nerve and wits about him.

TRAPPED ON THE ROOF.

The door he wanted was not on the right, but on his left. He made for it without hesitation, as though he had a perfect right to be there, and the solitary German sentry at the end of the landing scarcely glanced his way. Rhodes heart was thumping madly as he boldly opened the door and walked in. If the room had been occupied, he would have pretended that he had made a mistake, but it was empty. There were not enough of these Nazis so far to fill the building. There was his desk, his chair, and one or two of his favourite pictures on the wall. The drawers of his desk had been dragged open, and some papers had been scattered on the floor, but his glance went at once to a reproduction of an oil painting of the Adirondack Mountains. It had not been disturbed. He sighed with relief, and closed the door. He made for the mountain picture, and swung it aside on its cords. A wall safe was revealed, with a combination lock which he rapidly turned this way and that, until the thick, circular door finally opened. The colour returned to his cheeks when he saw the small but fairly thick file inside. He snatched it and carried it to the desk. The only heating in the room at that time of the year was an electric fire which could be switched on at will. He put it on, let the filament glow red hot, then commenced tearing out page after page from the file and tossing these on to the heater. The paper turned brown, smoked, and finally burst into flame. Very soon he had a miniature bonfire. Each time a page was destroyed, the life of a man became more assured. Finally, only the file itself was left, and at that moment the door was flung open. A bull necked individual in civilian clothing put his head in and sniffed. “Fire!” he called over his shoulder. “Something is burning in here, and—” He caught sight of Jarvie Rhodes of the empty file, and of the pile of glowing paper. “Hi, Gerhart! Robius! Come here, quickly!” There was a clatter in the corridor, and two men arrived at his shoulder, two men who wore the uniform of the International Security Police. One of them was a lieutenant whom Rhodes knew by sight. “Who is it?” barked the civilian. “What has been burning?” Captain Rhodes saw there was need for quick action. Lieutenant Gerhart as least would recognise him. Evidently the Lieutenant was in the pay of the Nazis, perhaps planted in the I.S.P. by their order. Already the man was dragging out an automatic. Rhodes had only one missile within his reach—the steel bound file. He snatched it from the desk and hurled it with all his might at Paul Gerhart’s head. It caught the man on the cheekbone, and sent him reeling back against his comrade in uniform. Rhodes was across the room in a moment, and slammed his fist to the jaw of the first intruder. It was a neat blow, and the civilian dropped.

Before anyone could recover, Rhodes was out in the corridor, running to the left. He had remembered there was a staircase to the next floor. A shot rang out, and some plaster was chipped from the wall at his side. He turned the bend, and raced up the stairs, hearing hoarse shouts both in American and German. He realised there had been traitors in the I.S.P., just as there had been traitors everywhere else. Up the staircase and along a narrow corridor raced Rhodes. He knew the hue and cry would be raised, and that he was now a hunted man. By being in civilian clothing he had managed to bluff those Nazis at the White House, but here it was different. Lieutenant Gerhart and some of the others knew his real identity. They would denounce him. Whatever happened now, they could not learn the contents of File 43, but Jarvie Rhodes wanted to live long enough to accomplish more than this. By a miracle he had avoided the first round-up of the loyal members of the I.S.P. It was up to him to make the best use of his luck. An open window at the end of the corridor, and a glimpse of the steel fire escape, offered temporary refuge. He was through the window and up the fire escape before anyone else arrived on that floor. Running lightly and swiftly, he reached the flat roof, and dodged across to the further side of some ventilating shafts. There was plenty of cover, and he got as far away from the fire escape as possible. Crouching behind a parapet, he had a good view of a large section of the city of Washington. Here and there columns of black smoke arose. In a few places buildings had been demolished by the arrival of the V.21, but for the most part Washington was as it had been at sunrise that morning. Traffic still filled the streets. People blackened the pavements. Out on the river steamboats moved, for the ice had vanished. Immediately below him was the street at the rear of the police headquarters. A streamlined bus had just halted at one of the usual halting places, and a dozen or more passengers had descended. They stared inquisitively at one of the uniformed S.S. men who stood nearby. Maybe they had come from the outskirts of the city and had not yet seen one of their new rulers. Voices were inaudible at that distance, and what words were uttered Rhodes could not tell, but the S.S. man suddenly singled out a stout, well dressed individual, and shot him in the thigh. The victim fell to the ground, and everyone in the street crowded towards the spot, forming a circle at a discreet distance. Their expressions were distinctly angry, and there was little doubt they were telling the S.S. man what they thought of him. Just what the lone Nazi did, the watcher on the roof could not see, but within ten seconds a helicopter came speeding over the roofs of the nearest skyscraper, and dropped swiftly into the wide thoroughfare.

The crowd scattered before the whirling vanes, and the machine alighted within ten yards of both the S.S. man and his victim. Figures in uniform leapt out, and the wounded American was carried aboard. Then came a volley of sub-machine guns, over the heads of the threatening bystanders, who very wisely scattered. Jarvie Rhodes sighed. He could hear angry voices on the stairs, and knew his pursuers were working towards the roof. He fingered his hidden automatic, and wondered whether it would come to a fight to the death, there on the roof top. Then, from away across the Capitol Square, came the booming voice of a stentorphone, a loudspeaker with such volume that it must have been audible over most of the city. As far as he could gather, it was attached to a red and black helicopter which hovered over the Government centre, with a giant swastika trailing below it. “Achtung! Attention! Listen everyone!...Today your city has been taken over by the forces of the Fifth Reich, and you are under a new rule. From the Fuehrer himself we deliver a message.” The voice was resonant and clear. Each word was spoken deliberately, and without German accent. Captain Rhodes felt sure an American was being employed to read the proclamation. “Each and every citizen of Washington must go about his business as he did before. There must be no slackening, no idleness, no striking. Any labour troubles will be dealt with ruthlessly. Anyone who incites workers to stop work, or to lessen their efforts, will be shot. Life must go on as before. There will be only one major difference…” There was a pause. It was almost as though the entire city was being made to hang on the next words— “We, who here represent the Fifth Reich, know all, see all, and hear all. In the streets, in your offices, in the factories, or even in your own homes, we know what we are saying. We even know what you are whispering. We almost know what you are thinking. If anyone preaches sedition, he will be given only one reward—Death! If anyone complains to his neighbour, and compares the regime unfavourably with anything that is past, he will be rewarded with—Death! If anyone tries to communicate with any place outside the regional zone, he or she will merit death! We tolerate no criticism, no opposition, no interference. Behave yourselves, go about you ordinary affairs, and you will not be molested. But if you defy us, obstruct us, or talk against us, the penalty is—Death. From time to time further proclamations will be made, by loudspeaker, by radio, or in the press. Obey them promptly, and you will be left in peace. Heil the New Fuehrer!”

The voice ceased booming, and a bullet whipped past Jarvie Rhodes’ head. While he had been listening to this arrogant speech with growing irritation, half a dozen S.S. men had reached the roof. They had seen him in his corner. Ducking behind the concrete cupola of a lift shaft, he ran swiftly to the eastern side of the roof, where he had seen some large steel cisterns which would offer him cover. “There he is—!” shouted someone, in German, and there was a rush towards his new position. Jarvie Rhodes had waited for this. His automatic barked twice, and two of the men in tight fitting uniforms rolled over under the feet of their comrades. It was the first time the Nazis had realised this fugitive was armed. They hurriedly dived to right and left. Bullets clanged against the sides of the cisterns which shielded Rhodes on three sides, and water spurted through the holes so made. “If they keep doing this they’ll flood the roof and the building below,” he thought grimly, and wondered how long it would be before they summoned one of the helicopters which they were using to police the city. There was no cover against bullets from above.

 

THEY’LL TRY IT AGAIN! 14 Episodes in Adventure issues 1129 – 1142 (1945)

© D. C. Thomson & Co Ltd 

Vic Whittle 2007