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PART ONESPIESJanuary-February 19441The weather was very bad, even for this time of the year, and Dieter Schey, alias Robert Mordley, was more than a little concerned about the rendezvous. The wind blew snow from the northeast, and he had to bend forward against it as he trudged along the beach at the head of Frenchman's Bay, south of Bangor.He hadn't heard a thing from his control at Hamburg for three and a half weeks now. Twenty-seven days of wondering what the hell would happen if the sub could not get here. If the FBI closed in. If he could not get away from Oak Ridge long enough to make the drop.They were asking a lot.Schey was a ruggedly good-looking man, who at thirty-three could pass, and often had, for ten years younger or ten years older, depending upon the clothing he wore, the way he parted his hair, the expression on his face, and how he held himself. He was blond, and fair of skin, his eyes a deep blue that, he was told, turned almost steel-gray when he was angry. This evening, however, he didn't give a damn what image he projected. Not out here. Not in this bloody storm.His last communications with Hamburg had been on the fifth and sixth of December, when he'd reported that he had important films to send out. The reply came back the next evening:U293 TO GRID 158-277 2.1.44 2300 UNTIL 0400 REGARDSThat had been it. A simple rendezvous order giving the time, the date, and the grid reference, which was here, on the Maine coast.Three times since then he had driven out of town, back up intothe Cumberland Mountains of Tennessee, had set up the portable transmitter, and had sent out messages. But Hamburg had not replied. It was as if they no longer existed."Most of the time you will be very much alone, very much on your own resources," his instructors at A-Schule West, in Park Zorgvliet, had drilled into his head. "Never rely on your cover-identity friends. They'll betray you the moment they suspect who you really are. Even your wife, if you follow our advice and take one, must be guarded against. Vigilance is the price of freedom."He stopped again to peer into the darkness out to sea, but in this weather he could not even make out the lights of Bar Harbor, four miles to the south on Mount Desert Island, nor the Naval Reserve Station across the way at Winter Harbor. But the U293 and her officers and men would have to make it undetected between the two. So it was just as well the weather was bad.Three miles back, Catherine and the baby were sleeping. They had had a tiring three days getting here by train and then by bus. Catherine had not even moved when he had carefully climbed out of bed, got dressed, and left the cabin.He touched his pocket. The film was there. A thousand miles to the southwest his job as a machinist at the Oak Ridge Manhattan District project was waiting for him."Damned funny time to take a vacation, if you ask me," Tom Riley, his foreman, had said. It was the only difficult moment. If too much of a fuss was made, someone would be coming around to take a closer look at him."I have nowhere to go in the summer that I like any better than here," Schey said. His English was so Oxford-perfect that he had to work constantly to inject a nasal twang into it, an accent that most people suspected was Connecticut Yankee."Where're you going, anyway? Don't you know there's a war on?" Riley had complained. He was from Biloxi, Mississippi. Everyone working on the huge project was from somewhere else. It was what had attracted German intelligence to Oak Ridge in the first place.Schey shrugged. "Maine. I just want to get away with my wife and kid. Haven't had a vacation in eighteen months.""You know people up there?""No. Just heard it was a nice place. Got cabins for rent. Cheap this time of year. It'll be just me and the family."They were in the main machine shop to the southwest of thegigantic gas diffusion building with its miles of piping. There was a lot of noise. Riley looked around at the work going on. Everyone seemed to be racing at a feverish pace. He resented being pulled away like this."What the hell am I supposed to do without you?"Schey laughed with just the right inflection. If worse came to worst, he'd have to quit. It would cause a lot of suspicion, but he was going to have to make the rendezvous. No matter what. It was vital that the photographs and drawings get out. The Americans were not too far now from their new bomb."If it wasn't for the board, I'd hit you up for a raise after a remark like that."Again Riley shook his head."Well? Do I get my ten days or do I have to arm wrestle you for it?""Go on," the burly foreman had said finally. "Get the hell out of here before I find my overtime board and sign you on."He came to the frozen creek that crossed under the highway a few hundred yards upstream, then looked at his watch. It was a couple of minutes after eleven. He looked out into the bay, and an almost overpowering feeling came to him that the submarine was there. He strained to listen, but he couldn't hear a thing except for the wind in the trees and rocks behind him and the waves washing up on the beach at his feet. But the boat was out there. He could almost smell the diesel fuel.He pulled a large flashlight out of one of the pockets in his dark pea coat, pointed it directly south, and sent four flashes. He waited thirty seconds, then sent four more flashes, and followed them one minute later with a final four.The answering sequence came almost immediately. Perhaps no more than a couple of hundred yards offshore. It was possible they had come that close. The water was very deep here. He had heard the local fisherman talking about it this afternoon, when he had gone into the country store for some food.From the charts he had seen back at the cabin (he supposed they had been left there by the previous tenant, a fisherman), the sub would probably have come up the east side of the bay, well away from Bar Harbor itself, before angling back to the west to Peck's Point.There was a very brief flash of red light, as if someone had opened the wrong hatch or something, and then, over the wind,Schey was certain he could hear the sounds of oars dipping in the water, and someone grunted.He looked both ways along the beach. There were coastal watchers here. Or at least along a lot of coastline there were old men with nothing better to do than snoop around at night. He wasn't really afraid of them; he just didn't want the nuisance.The sounds of someone rowing a boat came much clearer now, and Schey flashed his light a couple of times for them to home in on as he waited impatiently. Every minute he was here like this, he risked exposure. There was too much work yet to be done for him to have to run. There was another reason he did not want his life turned upside down at this moment, but he pushed that thought to the back of his head.He had not had enough time to find out for sure if beach patrols were maintained on a regular basis in these parts. A mistake on his part, he thought with recrimination, but it was too late now to do anything about it.The rubber raft, with four men all dressed in black, their faces corked, materialized from the darkness, and Schey helped pull the boat up on the beach. All four of the men jumped ashore. They had huge grins on their faces."Die Vereinigten Staaten. Wir sind hier!""Welkommen," Schey replied."Heil Hitler," one of the men said, raising his right arm in salute.Schey returned it, a sudden surge of pride coming over him. It had been a long time since he had been among friends and had been able to use that greeting. Power. The destiny of Germany. Brotherhood. Authority. It bespoke a rich patina of all those feelings and more for him."Hamburg sent us. You must be Captain Schey," the naval officer said. He was young, probably twenty-five, and wore a short, well-trimmed beard.Schey nodded. "U293?""Right. Lieutenant Kurt Voster, communications and security officer. You have something for me, sir?"Schey pulled the tightly wrapped package from his pocket. "This is very important, Lieutenant.""You don't have to tell me, sir," Voster said, taking the package and pocketing it. "We came all the way across theAtlantic to pick it up. Do you realize what that means these days?""Sorry," Schey said, and he meant it. "How are things at home?" He did not trust the news he was getting here from the radio and the newspapers. There was too much propaganda."Not good, let me tell you."The three crewmen had wandered up the beach. When they returned home, they'd be able to brag to their friends that they had actually invaded the U.S."They talk about bombing. Is it true?""Unfortunately," Voster said. "The bastard Americans come over by day, and then at night the British come. We have the Norden bombsight--or at least that's the rumor going around--but that doesn't do us any good."Schey was sick at heart. "Berlin, too?"Voster nodded. "Dresden. Köln. Munich. No place is safe." He looked over toward the diminishing figures of his men. "There's a gag going around. I heard it when I was home on leave for Christmas."It hurt hearing this, but Schey said nothing, letting the man go on."They're asking what's the shortest joke. When you say you don't know, they answer: 'We're winning the war.'""That bad?""I'm afraid so, sir. What about you here? How much longer will you be able to hold out?""That depends upon the photographs and drawings. It's up to the Admiral."An odd expression came over Voster's face. "Perhaps not," he said enigmatically.Schey was about to ask him what he meant by that, when the crewmen raced back, waving their arms frantically, but making absolutely no noise.Voster spun around and pulled out his pistol. Schey held him back."No!" he whispered urgently."There's someone up there," one of the crewmen gasped, out of breath.The other two were pushing the rubber raft off the beach."Probably the coastal watcher," Schey said. "Get the hell out of here; I'll take care of this." He looked into Voster's eyes."The photographs and the drawings are important, Lieutenant! Very important! Verstehen Sie?""Ja, und Gott Sie dank," Voster said. He jumped in the raft with the others, and as Schey hurried back up the beach, they disappeared into the darkness.Almost immediately he could hear someone above in the rocks, on the west side of the creek. He froze in his tracks as a powerful beam of light flashed on the beach behind him. When it swung out to sea, he raced across to a long, low outcropping of rock."Here, what's this?" someone shouted from just a few yards off the beach.The beam of the light shone on the skidmarks from the raft and the footprints in the sand. The light flashed out to sea again."Holy Mother of God!" the man shouted. "The Nazis!"Schey climbed up from the beach on the other side of the rock outcropping and quickly scrambled above where the man had been standing. But he was gone. Schey held his breath, listening, and he could hear someone farther up on the rocks, back toward the highway.If the man got to a telephone, the U-boat wouldn't have a chance. At first light the Navy's spotter planes would be up, and every boat in the area would converge at the mouth of the bay.Schey headed up toward the road, dropping all attempts at stealth, his powerful legs like hydraulic rams propelling him upwards, and recklessly he leaped from one rock to the next, mindless now of the cold and the blowing snow.The coastal spotter, frightened that he had actually spotted the enemy, here in Maine, was puffing like an old steam engine by the time he made it to the side of the road, so he had no idea that anyone was behind him, until something leaped out of the darkness on his back, and he thought it was some sort of wild animal.Schey jammed his knee in the man's back, then sharply pulled his head back, breaking his neck.It was over in a split second, although the man's legs jerked spasmodically for several minutes afterwards.Schey didn't like this at all. He looked down into the man's open eyes. He'd been nothing more than a coastal watcher. An amateur. Almost. certainly a family man, too old for active service, so he had chosen this. Just doing his bit for the war effort."Verdammt," Schey swore out loud, his stomach churning. But it was war--total war. The Führer had ordered it.Just down the highway was the spotter's old, beat-up pickup truck. Without having to think it out, Schey carried the man's body over to a spot a few yards behind the rear of the truck and laid it half in and half out of the ditch. He lined the head and neck up with the inside rear wheel.The man looked to be in his early to middle fifties, and Schey wondered what men like him would do after the war ... whichever way it went. Would they fit in? He sincerely hoped so. There had been enough suffering now; more was not needed.Back at the front of the truck, he released the parking brake, put the gear shift in neutral, and gave the truck a shove. It started back slowly at first, but then, as it angled over to the ditch, it picked up speed, the rear wheel bumping up over the dead man's face and neck with a sickening crunch.Schey hurried off the side of the road and scrambled down the rocks toward the beach even before the truck had come to a halt in the ditch.They'd find the man in the morning, run over by his own truck. A freak accident.
Catherine's body was warm and soft beneath her flannel nightgown when Schey climbed into the small bed in the front bedroom. She moaned softly, and automatically turned to him."Hmmm?" she said, starting to wake up.Schey's stomach was still churning. He kept seeing the dead man's eyes looking up at him. "Go back to sleep, Katy," he whispered.But she was awake. There was a small amount of flickering light in the room from the isinglass window in the oil burner in the living room, just enough for him to see her face. She was smiling."Did you go outside?" she asked. "You're cold.""I went out for a smoke.""Are you worried about your job?" She was always concerned about him. She was certain that she loved him more than he did her, and it frightened her at times."A little bit," he said softly.She kissed his nose and his cheeks. "Maybe we should go back. Our little house in Oak Ridge is nice."Schey smiled. Their little house was, besides the baby Robert, Junior, her source of intense pride. Damned few of the other women she knew had houses. But they had come to Oak Ridge much too late, after houses had become all but impossible to find."We'll think about it in the morning," Schey said, and he drew her closer, pulling her nightgown up so that he could feel her legs and stomach and breasts against his body.Neither of them heard the baby coughing in the other room.Copyright © 1985 by David Hagberg