Quiet was, of course, a matter of opinion.
Joe guessed that in the opinion of the soldier pushing up the hatch on the tower’s roof, he hadn’t been quiet at all.
The soldier stared up at him, and slammed the hatch shut.
Joe guessed he’d been recognized, and wondered what that might mean. The fact that he’d run might be a good thing. It might mean that he knew they didn’t have anything that could stand up to his armor. On the other hand, it might mean they had Nazi supers around, and he was going for help.
Joe wondered what the Germans called supers. All Aryans were supposed to be Übermensch, so they couldn’t call them that. Besides, Hitler didn’t have any powers. That’d make him an Untermensch.
Deciding not to worry about it, he grabbed the handle on the door, pulled up, and realized it was locked.
Standing up, he brought his armored boot down on the hatch, shattering the wood. Then he ripped what was left out of the way and threw it over the battlements. Pointing his right arm into the air, he fired off a few shots. Al would know any chance for stealth was over, and he might as well move in.
Checking downward through the doorway, he saw that the stairway ran around the wall, and that the room was empty except for some chairs and beds. He started down the stairs,
From outside, he heard automatic weapons fire, and a big explosion that had to be the bridge. These boys weren’t getting reinforcements unless they could fly.
And with any luck, flying reinforcements were busy somewhere else. That girl in Casablanca (What was her name? Geistmädchen?) could have killed him if she’d flown faster.
She’d had a nice figure though.
Thinking about it wasn’t the main reason they shot him, but it couldn’t have helped.
He’d been cautious as he started down the stairs to the next level, but he couldn’t see the whole room. The next thing he knew, he was knocked into the wall, pushed by the force of the bullets. Finding his footing, he jumped off the stairs, landing on the wooden floor.
Four soldiers in grey uniforms pointed guns at him.
On their faces he saw every emotion he’d ever felt in combat–determination, anger, fear, hope…
They fired at him, and he fired back. They had a mixture of pistols and rifles. He had a modified .50 caliber M2 machine gun hanging under his right arm.
It did what it always did. It made holes in people.
When he finished, he stepped over the bodies, and walked through the doorway behind them.
He’d walked into the building next to the tower. It didn’t look like a castle in a film. It looked like what it was–an old fortress that no one ever bothered to make pretty. The reddish-brown wooden walls had cracks, and so did the stone and mortar outside walls.
He couldn’t believe the Nazis were building a weapon here. It didn’t make sense. If he were creating new technology, he’d want tools, a workroom, assistants, and storage rooms full of materials.
After checking every room on the floor, he didn’t see any of that. He saw beds, clothes, and weapons. The Germans plainly had people living there. He shot a few more, wondering how many people he’d killed during the war so far, and hoping he’d never find out.
The last room was different.
It looked just the same as the others–faded paint, and cracked plaster, but this one had a circle painted on the floor. Strange symbols surrounded the circle.
Something hung in the air in the middle of it. Joe got an impression of a smoky, reptilian body, eyes, teeth, and indescribable wrongness. He turned his head away, and shut his eyes.
He did not scream, but he wanted to.
Then it started talking.
In unaccented English, it said, “You’re Joe Vander Sloot. Your great-great-great-great-great-grandfather worked for the Dutch East India Company. I liked him, and do you know what? I think we can make a deal that we’ll both get something out of.”
Still trying to stop himself from running out the door, Joe could only think, “Goddammit, when did I step into a Bela Lugosi movie?”