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Purple Hearts - Combat! Fan Fiction

 

 

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A Giant of a Man

Combat! Fan Fiction
by
Mary Wright "Eagle Lady"
eaglelady80010@netzero.net

 

          Saunders stumbled down the faint trail, his Tommy gun cradled loosely in his arms.  His mind was a haze of exhaustion, grief, and pain.  His entire patrol had been killed, all fairly new men who'd panicked and ignored orders, and he'd caught a bullet that had torn out a chunk of his hide just below his ribs.  It wasn't a serious wound, but it had bled heavily and hurt like hell.  He hadn't eaten in two days, hadn't slept for three.  He had escaped the German ambush by falling into a ravine after getting shot, and it had taken him a couple hours to climb back out.  He wasn't sure he was going the right direction, but habit and instinct kept his feet moving.

          Suddenly aware that he wasn't alone, he stopped and squinted ahead.  Standing in front of him was the biggest Kraut he'd ever seen  even bigger than Littlejohn.  Reactions slowed by exhaustion and loss of blood, he belatedly swung his gun up toward the Kraut, watching as the Kraut's huge hand lifted in seeming slow motion to slap the Thompson out of his hand.  The blow knocked him off his feet and he scrambled for the gun, only to feel the Kraut seize the back of his jacket, lift him off the ground, and fling him in the other direction. Landing on his injured side, he cried out and curled up, clutching the wound.  The Kraut lumbered toward him and Saunders forced himself to lunge at his legs.  Easily stepping aside, the huge man again grabbed the back of his jacket and lifted him into the air, tossing him into the long grass where he lay on his back, barely conscious.  He tried to roll onto his side, to get up, but his battered body refused to obey and he could only lay there and watch as the Kraut stomped toward him again. 

          The huge hands reached toward him and he closed his eyes, expecting those hands to close around his neck and end his life.  Instead, the hands that had just tossed him around like a toy became gentle as his jacket was unfastened.  He felt his web belt being removed and his jacket being opened the rest of the way.  The bloody bandage on his side was pulled away and cold water was poured over the wound, making him gasp with pain.  A fresh dressing was applied and he was lifted gently as a bandage was wrapped around his body to hold the dressing in place.  He opened his eyes to find the man kneeling beside him, his expression gentle as he tied off the bandage and closed the jacket.  The big hands closed on his shoulders and he was lifted to his feet where he stood reeling.

          "Geh Fort."  The Kraut ordered.

          Saunders took two steps and went to his knees, head hanging.  The Kraut wrapped a hand in the back of his jacket and pulled him back up, continuing to hold onto his jacket as he forced the weary man to walk.  Dimly, Saunders realized he could hear a vehicle nearby, but couldn't tell whose or what it was.  The Kraut jerked him off the path into the thick trees, the abrupt movement forcing an involuntary cry of pain from him.  He was jerked back against the Kraut's chest, and a huge hand closed over Saunders' mouth.  He watched in bewilderment as a German half-track passed by less than fifty feet away.  The Kraut eased back further into the trees, dragging Saunders with him.  He was having trouble breathing and weakly fought against the hand holding him.  When the Kraut tightened his hold, cutting off his air completely, the blackness that had been threatening for hours finally won over and he went limp in his captor's hold.

////////////////////

          Eric watched the American soldier coming toward him.  The man was obviously very tired, walking with his head down, not paying attention to his surroundings.  He carried his gun in his arms, not ready to use.  This will be the one, Eric thought, stepping out into the path in front of the soldier.  It took a moment for the American to realize he was there, slowly bringing up his gun.  Eric swatted it out of his hands, unintentionally knocking the man off his feet at the same time.  When he reached for his gun, Eric picked him up by the back of the jacket and tossed him away from the gun.  The American let out a cry of pain and curled up, clutching his side.  Intending to see if, and how badly, he was injured, Eric moved toward him.   To his surprise, the soldier lunged toward his legs.  The move was so slow and uncoordinated that Eric sidestepped easily, again catching the soldier by the jacket and flipping him over onto the long, soft grass.

          The American landed on his back, feebly trying to roll onto his side.  Spotting the spreading bloodstain on the American's side, Eric approached him, the American watching him.  There was no fear, just a kind of grim acceptance of his fate.  When he reached for the soldier's jacket, the American closed his eyes.  Eric pulled the jacket open to look at the wound, then took the soldier's web belt off and opened the jacket the rest of the way.  He gently pulled off the bloody bandage, revealing a nasty-looking deep gouge in the man's side.  The man, although still conscious, didn't move while Eric pulled out his canteen and poured water over the wound, making the American gasp with pain.  Eric applied a dressing and wrapped a bandage around the man's body, gently lifting him to do so.  When the man's blue eyes fluttered open, Eric took hold of his shoulders and lifted him to his feet.

          "Walk."  Eric ordered him.

          The American took two staggering steps and went to his knees, his head hanging and his eyes closed.  Sighing, Eric seized the collar of his jacket and pulled him back to his feet, holding him up as he tried to walk.  Eric lifted his head at the sound of an approaching vehicle, a German vehicle.  Not wishing to be seen, Eric stepped off the path into the trees, pulling the American with him.  The American cried out in pain, and Eric pulled him back against his chest, clapping a hand over the man's mouth.  When the American tried to fight him, Eric held him tighter.  A few seconds later, the man went completely limp, his dead weight nearly making Eric drop him.  He released his mouth and grabbed him around the chest before he could fall and alert the passing half-track.  The man hung slackly in his grip, not reacting at all when Eric pinched him to see if he was faking.

          Eric remained where he was until the vehicle was out of sight and he couldn't hear it anymore, then lowered the American to the ground on his back.  He squatted by the unconscious man for a moment, thinking.  He wanted this man alive, but it appeared that if he didn't get his wound taken care of and the bleeding stopped, he wouldn't be alive for long.  He picked him up as he would a child and continued down the trail until  he'd put a mile behind them, then started looking for a place to hide.  Finally spotting what appeared to be a cave, he headed that way. It turned out to be one of the caves for storing cheese that dotted this part of the country.  Carrying the man inside, he found that others had been there before him.  There were a couple blankets, none too clean, and the remains of a fire.  Eric laid the American down along the wall and shook the blankets out then spread one out close to the fire circle.  Returning to the American, he worked the man's jacket off, folded it up for a pillow and stretched the soldier out on one blanket, covering him with the other.  Figuring that the man wouldn't go anywhere while he was gone, Eric went outside to gather wood for a fire.

/////////////

          Saunders slowly realized he was awake, and even more slowly realized that he was being carried in someone's arms.  With a great deal of effort, he forced his eyes partway open.  The Kraut was carrying him.  Even in his fuzzy state, Saunders knew that didn't make sense.  The Kraut should have killed him, not be carrying him.  He felt the Kraut lay him down on the hard ground, and heard him moving around nearby, but didn't bother to open his eyes.  A moment later, he was lifted and moved.  This time he could feel the scratchiness of a blanket beneath him and the welcome softness of a pillow under his head, then felt another blanket being spread over him.  Hearing the Kraut move away, Saunders forced his eyes open enough to see the huge man walking out of what appeared to be a cave that he lay in.  Instinct more than thought had him rolling over onto his good side, and he dragged himself away, not realizing he was going away from the only entrance to the cave.  He made it about ten feet before his strength gave out and he collapsed on his face, breathing hard.  He was so tired, and hurt so bad, he wanted to just give up and stay there, but something deep inside him refused the easy way out and he dragged himself on.

////////////

          Returning with a large armload of wood, Eric dropped it by the wall and turned to check on his prisoner.  He stared at the empty blankets for a moment in surprise.

          "He is a strong one, this American."  He said in admiration.

          After waiting another couple of minutes for his eyes to adjust to the darkness, Eric moved on into the cave, the only direction the American could have taken.  He found him almost at the end of the cave, lying on his face, apparently out cold.  Very gently, he turned him onto his back, slid his arms underneath him and carried him back to the blankets.  He laid him on his back, his arms at his sides and tucked the top blanket tightly around him.  While the American lay still and quiet, Eric lit a small fire and set water to heat in his mess kit.  When it was warm, Eric cleaned the prisoner's dirty, sweaty face, then pulled the blanket loose and cleaned and rebandaged the wound, replacing the blanket when he was finished.

////////

          Too weak to speak or move, Saunders felt the Kraut pick him up again, then felt the blanket under him. The other blanket was tightly tucked around him, effectively preventing him from moving anything but his head. To his surprise, he felt the Kraut washing his face, his touch gentle and almost soothing, then the blanket was pulled away and his side was being bathed with warm water and re-bandaged.  As the warmth of the blanket and the fire reached his battered body, he drifted off to sleep.  A long time later, he realized he was awake again.  The huge man sat beside the tiny fire, reading a book he held close to the flames.  Saunders was hot, and very thirsty, and his side felt like it was on fire.  He tried to ask for water, but all that came out was a whisper.  Apparently, the Kraut heard him because he laid the book down and came around the fire to kneel beside him.  He slipped a massive hand under Saunders' neck and lifted his head to give him a drink of cool water, waiting patiently when he coughed, then giving him more water.

          "Sprechen sie Deutsch?"  The Kraut asked.

          Saunders managed to shake his head slightly, his eyes drifting closed again.

          "Ah."  The Kraut sighed. "Ich spreche kein Englisch."

          Saunders felt the German lower his head back to the pillow, then a gentle hand patted his shoulder as he slipped back into sleep. 

//////////

          Eric heard a slight sound and looked up from his book to find the American watching him.  The man's face was slick with sweat and his eyes dulled with pain.  Laying aside his book, Eric moved over to the man's side and lifted his head, holding a cup of cool water to his lips.  He drank, choking on it, then drank again.

          "Do you speak German?"  Eric asked him.

          The American's eyes drifted shut as he shook his head.

          "Ah."  Eric sighed in frustration.  "I don't speak English."

          He lowered the American's head again, and patted his shoulder reassuringly.  For the next several hours, he fought the American's fever and delirium.  His wound looked inflamed and he began to fear the man would die.  Desperate to save this man's life, Eric paced the small cave, trying to find a solution.  Finally coming to a decision, he searched his belongings, then the American's until he found what he was looking for.  Reluctantly, but having no other choice, he knelt by the American's side and pulled back the blanket.  He tied his unresisting hands together, then using the American's belt, he bound his ankles together.  Cutting a narrow strip off of the end of the blanket, he forced it into the American's mouth and tied it behind his head, then covered him with the blanket again.  With one last look, he left the cave.

/////////

          The medic looked up at the line of men in front of him, then down at his foot. He had a small, very annoying stone in his boot and wanted it out, but didn't want to fall too far behind the group.  What the hell; they hadn't seen any Germans for two days and it wouldn't take long to catch up.  Dropping to the ground, he took off his boot and dumped the stone out with a sigh of relief, then put his boot back on and stood up.  The next thing he knew, a hand had been clapped over his mouth, an arm like a steel band had closed over his chest, pining his arms to his sides,  and he was literally lifted off his feet and carried away into the trees.  He tried kicking his captor's legs, but all that resulted in was being swatted upside the head hard enough to make him see stars.  After awhile, he was dropped to the ground and prodded in the back with a bayonet.

          He was forced to walk for nearly two miles without ever seeing who was behind him, then was shoved into a cave.  A heavy hand closed on his shoulder and he was held in place for a couple minutes.  Gradually, his eyes adjusted and he saw a man lying on the ground a few feet in front of him, covered to the chin with a blanket.  He was shoved to the ground beside the man and his captor stepped across to kneel beside the motionless figure.  The doc's jaw dropped as he stared at the biggest man he'd ever seen, American or German.  He continued staring at the man in stunned disbelief as the Kraut pulled back the blanket, revealing the prisoner's bound hands, which he freed, then he removed the gag. 

          "Sprechen sie Deutsch?"  The Kraut looked over at Doc.

          "No, I don't."  Doc shook his head.

          With a grunt of frustration, the German reached across the prisoner, grabbed the medic's wrist, forcing his hand onto the prisoner's forehead, then pulled the prisoner's shirt open, revealing the bandage on his side.  Grabbing the medic's bag, he handed it to him, then pointed at the prisoner.  The medic stared at the Kraut as he built up the fire, finally tearing his eyes away to look at the prisoner.

          "Sarge?"  He asked in bewilderment.

          The sergeant's eyes fluttered briefly as he shifted position with a slight moan, one hand moving aimlessly.  The Kraut shook Doc's medical bag, then pointed to the sergeant again.

          "Okay, okay.  Take it easy."  Doc waved him back out of the way.

          With the big man watching closely, Doc gently twitched the bandage loose and examined the wound.  It was ragged and ugly, but didn't look infected.  He cleaned it, and dusted it librally with sulfa powder before re-bandaging it.

          "Wird es angesteckt?"  The German sounded worried.

          Not understanding what he said, Doc shrugged, shaking his head.  Muttering something that sounded like it might have been a curse, the soldier dug in his pockets, finally pulling out a piece of paper and a pencil.

          "I don't read German, either."  Doc told him.

          He watched the big hands fly over the paper, amazed at the detailed drawing forming.  A man who was clearly intended to be the sergeant was lying on his back, the wound in his side carefully rendered.  A thin line ran from the wound to the man's heart.  Looking up to be sure he had Doc's attention, the German pointed to the thin line, then drew a skull and crossbones.

          "Pirates?"  Doc frowned, then grinned when he caught on. "Poison!  Blood poisoning.  Infection.  I got it!"  He shook his head. "No, it's not infected."

          The German sat down with a sigh of relief, pantomiming wiping his brow.  Very confused now, Doc decided to figure out the German later, and work on Saunders now.  He dug some aspirins out of his bag and pulled his canteen from his belt.  The German slid a hand under Saunders' head and neck, raising him a few inches.

          "Sarge, can you hear me?"  Doc asked.

          "Mmmm."

          "I'm gonna give you some aspirin, ok?  Swallow 'em."

          " 'kay."  He mumbled.

          Doc popped the pills into the sergeant's mouth, then gave him a drink.  When the German lowered him back to the ground, the injured man shivered, trying to pull the blanket up.  Doc slipped out of his jacket and laid it over Saunders, then sat back, unable to do anything else for him at the moment.

          "I gotta get him to the aid station."  Doc told the German.

          "Eric."  The German said, clapping a hand to his chest.

          "Eric, huh?  Nice to meet you, Eric.  Why don't you go learn some English?"  He muttered.  "I'm Doc."  He clapped a hand to his own chest.

///////////////

          Moving as quietly as he could, Eric headed for the American lines.  He needed a medic, but how to get one alone?  He didn't want a fight.  Hearing American voices, he dropped flat behind a thick bush.  As big as he was, that was the only way he could hide; a tree just wasn't big enough.  Amazed at his luck, Eric watched the medic stop to fix his boot, letting the other Americans move on ahead.  Holding his breath, he eased forward until he was just a few feet from the oblivious medic.  As he straightened up, Eric grabbed him, lifting him from his feet, one hand over his mouth to stifle his cry of alarm.  As Eric hurried back into the trees, the medic kept trying to kick him, which made walking difficult.  After one lucky kick caught his knee, Eric released his hold on the man's mouth long enough to cuff him alongside his head.

          The American must have gotten the message because he quit fighting him.  Judging they were far enough from the others, Eric set him on his feet and prodded him in the back.  Reluctantly, the medic started walking.   Eric breathed a soundless sigh of relief when he spotted the cave just ahead.  Just inside, he seized the medic's shoulder, holding him still until both their eyes adjusted to the gloom, then he pushed the American to the ground beside the sergeant.  Stepping over the injured man, Eric knelt beside him, happy to find he was still alive.  Aware that the medic was staring at him, Eric pulled back the blanket and removed the sergeant's bonds and the gag.

          "Do you speak German?"  He glanced over at the medic.

          "No, I don't."  The American said something, shaking his head.  The only thing Eric understood was the word 'no'.   Frustrated at the language barrier, Eric grabbed the medic's wrist, forcing his hand to the sergeant's hot forehead.  He pulled the shirt open so that the medic could see the bandaged wound, then thrust the medic's bag at him, and pointed to the sergeant.  The medic didn't move, just staring at him as he built up the fire.  When the injured man moaned and the medic still didn't move, Eric shook the bag at him and thrust a large finger at the sergeant.

          "Okay, okay.  Take it easy."  The medic waved him back and finally bent over the wound.  Eric watched as he removed the bandage, cleaned the wound, dusted it with powder and re-bandaged it.

          "Is it infected?"  He asked anxiously.  He didn't want this man to die.

          The medic shook his head and shrugged, obviously not understanding him.

          "Stupid language."  Eric muttered, searching his pockets for his last piece of paper and his pencil.

          "I don't read German, either."  The medic said, watching as Eric drew a picture of the sergeant, then traced out a line of blood poisoning heading for his heart.  Making sure the medic was watching, Eric pointed to the line, then drew a skull and crossbones, hoping it meant the same in English that it did in German.

          "Pirates?"  The American frowned at the drawing, then his face lit with understanding and he grinned and shook his head  "Poison!  Blood poisoning.  Infection. I got it!  No, it's not infected."

  At last they could communicate!  Eric thought. He sat down with a sigh of relief,  pretending to wipe his brow in relief, both for the lack of infection and the ability to communicate.   The medic frowned again, then started rummaging around in his bag, bringing out a couple small white pills.  Ah, medicine for pain.  Eric lifted the sergeant's head and neck, supporting him while the medic spoke to him and helped him with the pills.

          "I gotta get him to an aid station."  The medic said.

          Well, Eric thought, they weren't going to get far this way.  Maybe they could at least figure out each other's names.

          "Eric."  He thumped himself on the chest.

          "Eric, huh?  Nice to meet you, Eric.  Why don't you go learn some English?  I'm Doc."  The medic put his hand on his chest.

          Eric frowned, understanding only his own name and the word 'English'. 

          "Doc?"  He questioned, pointing to the medic. 

          When the medic nodded agreement, Eric indicated the sergeant, and raised an eyebrow in question.

          "Saunders."  The medic said.

          "Saunders?"  Eric repeated, receiving another nod of agreement.

          Fine, Eric thought, now they knew each other's names.  That wasn't going to be much help in getting across what he wanted.  He'd just used his last little piece of paper. Wait a minute!  His sergeant carried around a small notebook; maybe this one his knees in his excitement, apparently scaring the American, because he jumped a foot.  Ignoring him, Eric started searching the sergeant's pockets.  When he discovered a pack of cigarettes and a fancy silver lighter, he paused long enough to light a smoke and admire the lighter, which he then returned to the sergeant's pocket. 

          "Ah ha!"  Eric pulled the notebook from the sergeant's pocket and started flipping through it, looking for blank paper.

          He was startled when the medic suddenly snatched it from his hand, apparently angry, judging from his tone of voice.  Eric frowned at him, wondering what he was so mad about, then it dawned on him.  He thought Eric wanted whatever secrets the sergeant had written in his book.

          "I can't read English, idiot."  He chuckled at his own foolishness in talking to someone who couldn't understand him.

          He reached for the book, but the medic jerked it out of reach.  Unable to explain what he wanted, Eric did the only thing he could think of.  Reaching out with one hand, he seized the front of the medic's shirt and jerked him across the sergeant's legs.  Still holding him with one hand, Eric closed the other huge hand over the medic's wrist, squeezing until the medic cried out and dropped the book.  Instantly, Eric released him and snatched up the book.  He rapidly flipped through the written-on pages until he found the beginning of the blank pages.  With a grin, he ripped out the used pages and stuffed them back into the sergeant's pocket, aware that the medic was looking at him like he'd lost his mind.  Well, maybe he had, at that.

          Now he had the paper.  Where did that pencil disappear to?  It was lying right here a minute ago. 

          "Eric."  Surprised at the sound of his name, Eric looked up to see the medic hesitantly extending the pencil toward him.

          "Thanks."  He nodded.

/////////////////

          Doc nearly jumped out of his skin when the German suddenly rose to his knees and started going through Saunders' pockets.  He found Saunders' cigarettes and took one, using the sarge's favorite silver lighter to light it.   To Doc's surprise, after admiring it, Eric returned the lighter to the pocket and continued searching the rest of his pockets.  With an exclamation of success, Eric pulled Saunders' notebook from his pocket, and started flipping through it. 

          "Hey!  Put that back!"  Doc snatched it out of Eric's hand.  Saunders had a lot of information in there that he probably didn't want the German to read.

          "Ich kann nicht Englisch, Idioten lesen." Eric said, chuckling, then reached for the book. 

          Doc jerked it back out of reach.  The next thing he knew, Eric had seized the front of his shirt and dragged him forward over Saunders' legs.  His huge hand closed around Doc's wrist and he started to squeeze.  Although it felt like his bones were being crushed, Doc held on to the book as long as he could.  When he cried out in pain, Eric released him immediately and grabbed the book and thumbed through it till he got to the blank pages.  Doc watched in amazement as the huge man grinned, ripped out the used pages and stuffed them back into Saunders' pocket.  He started fumbling around, obviously looking for something.  Realizing that he must be looking for the pencil, Doc reached over and picked it up.

          "Eric."  He said quietly.

          Startled, the German looked up.  Not sure if it really was the pencil he was looking for, Doc held it out hesitantly.

          "Danke."  He nodded.

          Taking the pencil, he braced the small notebook on his knee and started drawing, his hand flying over the page.

          "Doc."  Saunders mumbled.

          "Yeah, Sarge.  I'm right here."  Doc bent over him.

          "Thirsty."

          Picking up his canteen, Doc realized it was nearly empty.  He hesitated then tapped Eric on the knee, shaking the canteen when he looked up.  Nodding, Eric got to his feet, indicating with gestures that Doc was to remain where he was.  Receiving an affirmative nod in return, Eric took Doc's canteen, as well as his own and Saunders', as well as  his weapon and left the cave. 

          "Doc?"

          "Yeah, Sarge?"

          "Where are we?"

          "In a cave."

          "What's going on?"

          "I don't know yet.  You just lay still and rest.  There's nothing you can do about it, whatever it is.  You've lost a lot of blood and need to rest."

          "I'm thirsty."

          "Yeah, I know, Saunders.  He's gone for water."

          "Who?"

          "Never mind.  Just take it easy."

          A couple moments later, Eric returned, handed the canteens to Doc, and settled down with the book again.   Doc helped Saunders drink, then used some of the water to sponge his face and neck.

          "Try to get some sleep, Sergeant."  Doc urged, pulling the jacket back up to Saunders' chin.

          The sergeant watched the German, who was oblivious, for a few minutes then drifted into a restless sleep.  Doc tried to see what Eric was drawing, then his gaze fell on the book Eric had been reading earlier.  Curious, he picked it up.  Realizing it was written in German, he replaced it, catching Eric grinning at him.  Eric handed him the notebook, watching for his reaction.  Doc stared at it in wonder.  It was amazing.  On the little page, Eric had created a beautifully detailed drawing.  It showed Doc helping Saunders walk, with Eric in front of them, his hands in the air.

          "You want to surrender?"  Doc asked.

          Eric reached over and flipped the page.  This page showed Eric on a boat that was approaching the Statue of Liberty.  Without waiting, Doc flipped to the next page.  Eric was seated at an easel, painting.  When he glanced up at Eric, the German held up one finger, then pointed at the book.

          "One more picture?"  Doc turned the page.

          The man's ability was stunning.  This page was covered with the result of war, dead bodies, burned houses and bomb craters, planes firing at each other above.  In the midst of it stood Eric, his hands fanned over his face.  In between the fingers, Eric's expression of horror was clearly drawn.          

          Doc closed the book slowly and handed it back to him.  Eric accepted it, watching Doc's face.  Apparently satisfied with what he saw, he smiled.  Indicating the sleeping sergeant, he pantomimed eating, then raised an eyebrow.

          Doc thought for a moment, then held up his watch, his forefinger acting as a minute hand, and moved the finger around the watch to indicate 'later'.  Eric nodded, then pointed to Doc and again pantomimed eating.  To Doc's embarrassment, his stomach chose that moment to rumble.  Breaking into quiet laughter, Eric pawed through the pile of stuff at the foot of the blankets Saunders lay on and tossed Doc a box of rations. 

          Saunders started moving restlessly again, plucking at the blanket and muttering about different battles.  Setting aside the food, Doc resumed sponging the sergeant's face and neck.  Getting Eric's attention, Doc laid a hand on Saunders' forehead, then jerked it away as if he'd been burned.  He pointed to his watch then held up one finger, then two, with a look of inquiry. 

          Eric looked at his own watch, then at the sergeant, obviously thinking.  After a moment, he held up 4 fingers.

          "He's had a fever for four hours, has he?"  Doc said, drawing a look of puzzlement from the German.  "We'll have to try to get it down." 

          He pulled his jacket off of the sergeant and opened Saunders' shirt, wiping his chest as well as his face and neck with the cool water from the canteen.  Eric watched anxiously, then asked with gestures if he could help.  Doc shook his head, continuing to work over the sergeant. 

          Eric watched as the medic fought the man's rising fever for hours, always talking to the sergeant, although it didn't appear that the sick man was listening.  When the medic's arms started to tremble with weariness, Eric pushed him aside and took over, indicating that the medic should sleep.  Reluctantly, Doc lay down a few feet away, his eyes on Saunders' face.  He wasn't aware that he'd fallen asleep until he opened his eyes to find the sergeant sleeping peacefully and the big German sitting watch on Saunders' other side.  Seeing that Doc was awake, Eric grinned hugely as he pointed to Saunders.  He lightly touched the sergeant's forehead, then lowered his hand.  Pointing to his watch, he held up two fingers.

          Sitting up, Doc scooted closer and checked Saunders for fever.  His skin was warm and dry, and he seemed to be breathing easily. 

          "Doc."  Eric's deep voice drew his attention and he looked up, automatically reaching for the cup of coffee the German was handing him.

/////////////////

          Taking the pencil the medic was holding out to him, Eric began to draw.  How to draw what he wanted to say?  He heard the injured man mumbling, but ignored him and the medic, concentrating on his drawing.  Feeling a tap on his leg, Eric looked up to find Doc shaking an obviously empty canteen.  Nodding his understanding, he got up, telling Doc with gestures to remain where he was.  When Doc indicated his agreement, Eric gathered all three canteens, took his weapon and headed out for the stream he knew was nearby.  Hoping the two Americans were still where he'd left them, Eric quickly filled the canteens and returned to the cave.

          Handing the canteens to the medic, he sat down and resumed his drawing.  It was hard to convey in pictures what was so easy to say in words.  He heard the medic talking to the injured sergeant while helping him drink.  A few minutes later, the movement of the medic picking up the book Eric had been reading caught Eric's attention.  Eric couldn't help grinning when the American realized the book was written in German and put it back down.  What did he think it would be written in?  English?  After adding a few last details to his drawing, Eric handed the notebook to Doc.   Had he made it clear enough?  Would the medic understand what he was trying to say?

          Doc stared at the first page, then looked up at him, his expression awed. 

          "You want to surrender?"  The American asked.

          Not understanding what he said, Eric leaned over and lifted the first page to reveal the second drawing.  This was a picture of Eric sailing to America, far away from Hitler and the war.  Doc turned to the next page, studying it.  This picture was to show the medic what Eric wanted to be doing  painting beautiful pictures; not killing people.  Doc looked up at him, and Eric held up one finger.  The most difficult picture to draw, and the most difficult to express his feelings, was yet to come.  The American stared at the next and last picture for a long time, then closed the book and gave it back.  Taking it without glancing away from the medic's face, Eric waited for the reaction.  It seemed that the American understood what he was trying to say.

          Satisfied for the moment, Eric pointed to the injured man, then pretended to eat. The medic held up his watch, telling Eric that the sergeant would eat later.  Eric asked the medic in gestures if he was hungry, laughing when the American's stomach rumbled.  Leaning over, Eric pawed through the packs piled at the end of the blankets, found a box of rations and tossed it to the medic.  Before he even opened the box, the injured man started mumbling and moving around.

          His expression worried, the medic laid the rations aside and began sponging the man's face and neck.  Waving a hand to get his attention, Doc pretended to be burned by touching the sergeant's forehead, then pointed to his watch, holding up one finger, then two.  What was he trying to say?  Oh!  The fever.  How long.  This was getting easier all the time, Eric thought.  He pointed to his watch, trying to remember when the fever had started to rise, then held up four fingers.  Four hours ago.  The medic said something as he removed his jacket from the sergeant and unbuttoned the injured man's shirt.  Eric watched anxiously as the medic began sponging the man's chest as well as his face and neck in an obvious attempt to lower his fever.

          Wanting this man to live, Eric tried to ask if he could help, but the medic shook his head without stopping what he was doing.  Feeling useless, Eric watched the medic fight the rising fever, always talking to the patient, although it appeared that he couldn't hear.  After hours of sponging and talking, the medic's arms began to tremble, and his voice grew hoarse.  Enough of this, Eric thought.  He pushed Doc aside and took the cloth from his hand.  He pointed to the ground and pantomimed sleeping.  Obviously reluctant, the exhausted medic finally lay down, falling asleep almost instantly.

          Eric continued working over the injured man for what seemed hours until the fever finally broke and the sergeant slipped into a normal, restful sleep.  With nothing else to do but wait, Eric made more coffee and retrieved his book.  A couple hours later, Eric realized that the medic was awake and looking at him.  He grinned and pointed at Saunders, indicating that the fever had gone down two hours ago.  Apparently not believing him, Doc sat up and checked him himself, watching him sleep with a relieved expression on his own face.  Eric poured a cup of coffee and held it out to the medic.  He had to call his name to draw his attention from the patient, handing him the cup when he looked up.

/////////////////

          Doc sipped the hot coffee gratefully, immensely relieved that Saunders' fever had broken at last.  There wasn't much he could do for a fever out in the field.  If he could just get the sergeant back to an aid station, he would be alright.  A stomach cramp reminded him that he hadn't eaten so he set the coffee aside and picked up the box of rations that Eric had given him earlier.  Taking his book with him, the big German moved over to sit with his back against the wall of the cave near the entrance, leaning over slightly to take advantage of the late afternoon sunlight streaming into the cave.

          Doc watched him for a moment, smiling slightly when he realized that Eric had positioned himself so that nobody could slip past him.  Did the German think he was going to throw the injured sergeant over his shoulder and run out?  Come to think of it, just what did the man have in mind?  Was he planning to stay here until Saunders was healed?  Was he expecting Doc to carry him?  If so, they wouldn't get very far.  The sarge was bigger than he was and Doc wouldn't be able to lug him any distance.  Maybe he was planning on waiting till Saunders could walk with help?

          Shrugging, Doc opened the box and dug into the contents, so hungry that he didn't pay any attention to what he was eating.  When he finished, he laid a gentle hand on Saunders' forehead, checking for fever.  The sergeant stirred slightly and opened his eyes.

          "Doc?"  His voice was rough from disuse.

          "Yeah, Sarge.  It's me.  How do you feel?"

          "I'm okay."

          "Liar."  Doc grinned.  "Tell me the truth."

          "Tired."  Saunders managed a faint grin.  "Sore.  Thirsty.  Hungry."

          "That's what I thought.  I'll get you something to eat and drink, give you something for the pain, then you can sleep some more."

          While Doc rummaged around for another box of rations, Saunders looked around, his gaze stopping on the German, who was paying no attention to them.

          "Doc?"

          "Hmmm?"

          "Do I see what I think I see?"

          Doc glanced up at him, then went back to what he was doing.

          "Yeah.  That's Eric."

          "Eric?  What's going on, Doc?"

          "Well, Sarge, it's a little complicated.  He apparently captured you, then me, but he's going to surrender and be our prisoner."  He held up a ration box triumphantly, then scooted over to sit Indian-style beside Saunders.  "Can you sit up, Sarge?"

          "Yeah."   Despite his best effort, he only managed to lift his head a couple inches.

          The big German set his book aside and lumbered to his feet.  Joining them, he slid his huge hands under Saunders' shoulders and eased him to a sitting position. Ignoring his protests, Doc fed him while Eric supported him.  Doc helped him drink, then gave him a couple more aspirins.  Eric gently lowered him back to the blankets and returned to his book.  Somewhat bewildered, the sergeant stared at the oblivious German.

          "Don't worry about it now, Sarge.  You need to rest.  Go back to sleep."  Doc urged.

          "We need to get outa here, Doc."

          "You're in no shape to move, Sarge.  Get some sleep.  I'll be right here."

          "Doc..."

          "Saunders, you can't even sit up alone right now.  How are you planning on getting out of here?  Crawling?  Forget it and go to sleep."  Doc snapped at him.

          Startled at the unusual show of temper from the easy-going medic, Saunders looked up at him.  Reluctantly admitting to himself the truth of the medic's words, the sergeant closed his eyes and fell asleep almost immediately.  Doc twitched the blanket up to Saunders' shoulders, then stood up and stretched.  Eric glanced up at him, then returned his attention to the book.

          "I sure wish you could speak English."  Doc glared at him, then started pacing the cave.

          After several minutes of this, Eric looked up, irritated.  He watched the medic walking from one end of the cave to the other, then from side to side, returning to his book with a sigh.

          "Sitzen Sie sich  irgendwo hin!"  Eric growled after five more minutes.

          Doc stopped pacing and stared at him blankly.  Closing his book, Eric got to his feet and went outside, returning with a double handful of dirt that he dumped on the floor several feet away from the sleeping sergeant.  He made two more trips, then spread the dirt out in a thin layer, forming a square.  Using the point of his knife, he drew rows of smaller squares within the large square.

          "Haben Sie irgendweiche Munzen?"  Eric looked up at Doc who was watching him curiously.

          With a sigh of frustration, Eric dug into his pockets, coming up with a mixture of francs and deutschemarks.  He showed the coins to Doc, then pointed to Doc's pockets.  It took Doc a minute to figure out his meaning, then he searched his pockets, bringing out a few American coins and a handful of francs.  Eric counted the coins he held, then counted Doc's coins.  Shaking his head, he started casting around the cave floor, picking up something here and there, then finally returning to sit down on one side of the square he'd made.  He motioned for Doc to sit on the opposite side, then started laying out coins in the first three rows small squares.  He then laid out small pebbles in the three rows closest to Doc.

          "Verstehen Sie?" He grinned at the medic.

          "Understand?  Understand what?  Oh!  Checkers!"  Doc laughed, nodding his head.

          Chuckling, Eric made the first move.  They played for quite awhile, both men laughing as they tried to figure out how to 'king' a pebble with a coin.   Several games later, Doc straightened up, stretching, and realized that Saunders was awake, watching them.

          "Who's winning?"  Saunders asked curiously.

          "Four games to five.  I'm ahead."  Doc grinned.

          "Good for you."

          "How you feeling?"

          "Better.  Help me sit up, Doc."

          "I'm not sure that's a good idea, Sarge."

          "I can make it an order, if it will make you feel better."  Saunders glared at him.

          "Alright, alright."

          Doc got to his feet, picked up one of the packs and dropped it beside Saunders.  Moving around behind him, Doc grabbed the shoulders of his shirt and raised him up, kicking the pack over to offer support.  Saunders' face paled but he remained in position, his hand trembling when he reached for the canteen Doc was offering.

///////////

Eric watched with satisfaction as the medic drank the coffee and reached for the rations.  If the medic didn't take care of his own needs, he'd soon have two sick men on his hands.  Picking up his book, Eric sat down by the cave entrance to take advantage of the little bit of light that filtered in.  He was peripherally aware that the sergeant had woken up and was talking to the medic, probably about him.  He watched as Doc opened another box of rations to feed to the injured man.  Saunders tried to sit up, but was still too weak, so Eric laid his book down and joined them.  Kneeling behind the sergeant, Eric lifted and supported him while the medic fed him.  The sergeant was obviously none too happy about it, but Doc paid no attention to his protests.  After he'd eaten, the medic gave him more pain pills and a drink, then motioned for Eric to lay him down again.  After doing so, Eric returned to his book, fully aware that the American was staring at him.  Startled at the medic's tone of voice, Eric looked up.  Whatever he'd said apparently surprised the sergeant as well because he was staring at the medic.  As the sergeant closed his eyes, Doc covered him with the blanket then got up, stretching.  The medic said something, then started pacing the cave.  The cave wasn't very big, and the pacing soon began to irritate him.

          "Sit down somewhere!"  Eric growled.

          The American stopped and stared at him, obviously not understanding what he'd said.  Well, Eric thought to himself, I have a book to read, and the sergeant is sleeping again.  The medic must be bored.  Maybe he would like to play a game of some kind.  What could we play that doesn't require talking to each other?  I don't have any cards.  Ah, how about Checkers?  Hmm, no board.  Wait a minute, there was a lot of loose dirt outside, I could make one.  Closing the book, he got up and went out, bringing back a double handful of dirt, dropping it on a flat spot a few feet away from the sergeant.  He looked at it critically, then made two more trips.  Sitting down, he carefully spread the dirt into a rough square, then used his knife to make the smaller squares.

          "Do you have any coins?"  He looked up at Doc, forgetting he couldn't understand him.

          Heaving a frustrated sigh, Eric dug into his own pockets, bringing forth a handful of coins, both French and German.  Showing the coins to the American, he pointed to the medic's pockets.  After a minute, Doc understood and searched his pockets, showing Eric a few coins, American and French.  They would need at least 12 of the same type of coins, if he remembered correctly.  Counting his coins, then Doc's, he came up short by six.  Americans were supposed to be rich, Eric thought, shaking his head in disgust.  They would have to use something else.  He looked around the floor of the cave, picking up small pebbles.  When he had enough, he returned to sit on one side of the square, and motioned Doc down on the other side. While Doc watched curiously, he laid out the coins on his side, then laid out the pebbles on Doc's side.

          "Understand?"  He grinned, pleased with his creativity.

          "Understand?  Understand what? Oh! Checkers!"  Doc laughed and nodded.

          Chuckling happily, Eric made the first move.  Doc proved to be a formidable opponent and he thoroughly enjoyed playing him.  Doc was the first to be 'kinged' and they both ended up laughing as they tried to 'king' a pebble with a coin.  It kept falling off, and they finally just let the two objects lay in the same square.  The American won the first game, Eric the next two, then Doc took the next two, and then Eric won again.  After stirring up the fire for more light, they resumed playing.  Doc won that game, then Eric won, then Doc again.  The American stretched his back, glancing over at the sergeant, who said something that made the medic grin when he answered.  They had a short exchange that ended with the sergeant glaring at the medic, who got up and pulled one of the packs over and helped the sergeant sit up, leaning on the pack.  Eric watched in silence as the injured man's face paled slightly and his hand shook when he took the canteen Doc gave him.  The medic talked to him for several minutes, the sergeant obviously disagreeing with him, till finally the medic threw up his hands and returned to the game.  Eric glanced over at the sergeant from time to time as the medic had his back to him.  The sergeant watched them for awhile, then fell asleep again, his neck at an awkward angle.  Eric tapped the medic's knee and pointed to the sergeant.  Doc crawled over to him, moved the pack and lowered him back to the ground, then returned to the game.

          Eric won this game and raised an eyebrow, asking if Doc wanted to play again.  Doc shook his head, studying him curiously.  Eric understood that the medic was as frustrated as he himself was.  He knew the medic wanted to ask him questions but couldn't make himself understood.  Eric pulled out the notebook he'd taken from the sergeant and offered it to the medic, along with the pencil.  Doc took it slowly, frowning in thought.  Laughing at his lack of artistic ability, Doc drew two stick figures holding a tiny stick figure.  He pointed at the tiny figure then to himself, then wrote 1921, the year he was born, and handed the book back to Eric.  Eric grinned at the crude drawing, then wrote 1924, pointing to himself. 

          So the medic was twenty-two years old to his own twenty years.  Eric drew a stick figure, then another next to it wearing a skirt.  Underneath them he drew a hand with a wedding ring, then a question mark, and handed the book back to Doc.  Doc shook his head and looked at Eric, raising an eyebrow.  Eric also shook his head.  Eric retrieved the book, working over a drawing for several minutes.  Doc moved around so that he could look over his shoulder.  Eric had drawn a picture of the sergeant, stripes and all, sleeping next to the pack, then below that he was working on a drawing that showed the sergeant walking beside the medic who wore a helmet with the red cross. 

          "Sick."  Eric said, pointing to the first drawing.  Turning his wrist, he pointed to his watch, then to the second drawing.  "Healthy.  How long?"  He pointed at his watch again.

          Doc took the book and drew three sunrises with an arrow from the sunrises to the walking sergeant.

          "That's too long.  We can't wait three days."   Shaking his head, Eric drew another picture, this one showing the medic supporting the sergeant as he walked, then indicated his watch again.  Doc looked at the picture then studied the sleeping sergeant for a long minute.  Taking the book back, he drew a single sunrise.

          "In the morning.  That's much better.  Good.  In the morning we will go find the American lines and I will become a prisoner of war and go to America."

          They would need to eat and sleep before they left, Eric realized.  They had eaten all of the rations, so he would have to go find them something to eat.  He would have to tie up the medic while he was gone and probably the sergeant as well.  He didn't want to take a chance on them trying to get away while he was looking for food.  He had to have these two to surrender to the Americans.  He knew that tying them up would probably destroy what little trust had been built between them, but he had no other choice.

          He got to his feet, trying to move casually, and walked around behind the medic.  Quickly seizing the medic's arms, he pulled his wrists behind his back and tied them with the rope he'd used for the sergeant's hands.  Startled and angry, Doc tried to fight him, but Eric easily subdued him and soon had him lying on the ground with his hands and feet tied, and had a gag in his mouth.  Ignoring the medic's angry glare, he bound the sergeant and gagged him as well.

          Eric left the cave without looking back, and moved out into the fading evening light.  He made his way to a nearby farm without encountering anyone on the way.  Carefully, he worked around to the other side of the barn where he had seen a small flock of chickens when he'd passed this way a few days ago. Luck was with him and they were still there.  He squatted down in the grass and waited patiently.  Eventually, two of the chickens wandered within reach on their way back to the barn for the night.  With lightning fast speed, he snatched them, one in each hand, breaking their necks instantly.  Tucking a bird under each arm, he hurried through the darkness back to the cave. 

          The fire had almost burned down to embers, but the glow was enough for him to see the two men were still there.  Dropping the chickens beside the fire, he fed the embers till the fire was bright again.  Both men were glaring at him.  Well, he couldn't blame them.  He wouldn't be happy in their position, either.  Leaving them bound, he proceeded to pluck the chickens and prepare them for cooking.  He placed a pack on either side of the fire, and used a green stick as a spit, setting both chickens on the fire to cook, using the packs to support the ends of the stick. Kneeling beside the sergeant, he removed the gag first, then freed his feet.  Planting one massive hand on the sergeant's chest, he cut the bonds holding the sergeant's hands, quickly moving back out of reach, not that he expected the wounded man to be able to do much.  Turning to the medic, he cut his hands free , leaving him to free his feet himself.  Expecting them to be furious, he paid no attention to the words the medic was spitting at him.

          Returning to the fire, he turned the chickens so they would cook evenly.  To his surprise, the sergeant managed to sit up by himself, apparently looking around for the weapons, which Eric had hidden before he'd left.  Finally running out of things to say, the medic sat down near the sergeant and contented himself with glaring at Eric. 

          

///////////////

          "We've gotta try to get outta here, Doc."  Saunders said.

          "Yeah?  How?  You can't even walk."

          "You could help me."

          "I suppose we're just going to waltz right past him?  And he'll let us?"

          "Where's my gun?"

          "Haven't seen it.  You need to rest, Sarge.  Lay back down and get some sleep."

          "I've had enough sleep."  Saunders growled.  "I'm sick of laying down."

          "Sit then."  Doc threw up his hands in disgust and returned to the Checkers game, ignoring the sergeant.

          A short time later, Eric tapped Doc's knee and pointed toward the sergeant.  Glancing over his shoulder, Doc saw that he'd fallen asleep again.  He was tempted to leave the stubborn sergeant where he was, but if he did that, his neck would be stiff and sore when he woke again.  Not bothering to get to his feet for the short distance, Doc crawled over and laid the sergeant down and crawled back to the game.

          The German won it easily and raised an eyebrow.  Too agitated from his exchange with the sergeant to concentrate on a game, Doc shook his head.  What he'd really like to do is talk to Eric, to find out what made him tick, and what he had in mind for them and when.

          Apparently feeling the same way, Eric dug out the notebook again and handed it to Doc.  He took it, trying to think of a way to convey in pictures what he wanted to know.  Chuckling at his crude drawing, he drew stick figures holding a baby.  He pointed to the baby then to himself, writing the year he'd been born, then gave the book back to Eric.  Grinning, Eric wrote 1924.  So that made him three years younger.  The big German drew two figures, using Doc's stick method, one of which wore a skirt, under which he drew a hand with a wedding ring and a question mark then tossed the book back to Doc.

          Doc shook his head and raised an eyebrow, asking Eric if he was married.  Eric reached for the book and started one of his involved drawings.  Curious, Doc moved around and watched over his shoulder.  He drew a detailed picture of Saunders sleeping, then another of the two Americans walking together. 

          "Kranker."  Eric pointed to the sergeant in the first picture, then pointed to his watch, then indicated the second drawing. "Gesund."  He said, followed by what was obviously a question.

          Doc studied the pictures for a couple minutes, finally realizing that Eric was asking when Saunders would be able to walk.  Taking the book, he drew three sunrises.  The German shook his head, muttering something, then drew another picture, this one had Doc supporting Saunders as they walked, then he pointed to his watch again.  Doc looked at the picture then studied the sergeant.  He was improving quickly now that the fever had passed.  One more day should do it, he decided and drew a single sunrise.

          Eric nodded, mumbling to himself.  He got up, slipping the notebook into his pocket.  As he moved behind him, Eric suddenly grabbed Doc's arms, jerking his wrists behind his back and tying them tightly.  What on earth?  Doc thought, futilely trying to pull free.  The huge German ignored his struggles and Doc found himself on the ground, tied hand and foot, a strip of blanket forming a gag.  Eric then proceeded to do the same to the sleeping sergeant, waking him in the process.  As the German stalked out of the cave, Doc caught Saunders' accusing glare and looked away.

          Quite awhile later, Eric returned.  The fire had almost burned out, but they could see him drop something beside the glowing embers.  When he pushed more wood into the fire, the objects were revealed as two dead chickens.  Paying no attention to Saunders' angry grunts, Eric sat down and plucked the birds, spitted them, and propped them over the fire, using packs to hold the ends of the stick.  He knelt beside Saunders and pulled off the gag, and untied his feet.  Using one hand to hold the sergeant down, he untied his hands and stepped back out of reach.  He cut the rope binding Doc's hands then went back to the fire, letting Doc free his own feet and remove the gag.

          "What the hell's the matter with you?"  Doc demanded angrily.  "That wasn't necessary!"

          Saunders managed to sit up, leaning on the nearby pack.

          "Where are the weapons, Doc?"

          "Beats me, Sarge.  I thought we were getting along!  He didn't have to tie you up like that!  What did he think you were going to do?"  Doc was so angry that he was nearly spitting as he sat down by Saunders.

          "Get away, what'd you think?  I sure wasn't gonna sit here and wait for him to come back."

          Ignoring them, Eric concentrated on turning the chickens so they would cook evenly.  When they were cooked, Eric broke the stick, handing one chicken to Doc and keeping the other himself.  As an afterthought, he tossed one of the canteens between the Americans.  Doc and Saunders split the chicken, eating eagerly.  This was a lot better than Army rations.

          "Too bad we don't have potatoes and gravy."  Doc grinned.

          "Yeah.  And apple pie."  Saunders agreed, licking his fingers.

          When they'd finished, Eric pointed to them and pantomimed sleeping.  Saunders shook his head.  He'd had enough sleep.  Doc also shook his head.  He wasn't tired.  With a sigh, Eric pulled out the book, drew a quick picture and tossed the book to Doc who showed it to Saunders.  On one side of the page, Eric had drawn himself, sleeping.  On the other side, Doc and Saunders were sitting back to back, ropes binding them.

          "I take it he wants to sleep?"  Saunders asked.

          "Looks that way.  He wants to tie us up again, too."

          "No way."  Saunders snapped.

          "Considering his size, and your condition, just how are you planning on stopping him?"

          "Both of us could take him."

          "You're delirious, Sarge."

          "Whichever one of us he goes for first, the other has to jump him from behind."

          "Sarge"

          "You heard me, Doc."

          Eric got to his feet and picked up the blanket that had been covering Saunders, easily ripping it into strips.  Holding them in one hand, he sighed and moved toward Doc.  Doc slowly backed away, carefully not looking toward Saunders.  Teeth clenched, Saunders staggered to his feet.  Without even looking around, Eric swung his arm back, knocking the sergeant back to the ground. Doc lunged forward, intent on stopping Eric from hitting the injured man again.  Seizing Doc by the arm, Eric flung him to the ground on top of Saunders, who had just rolled onto his back, clutching his side.  Eric quickly tied Doc's hands behind his back, then his his feet.

          "Ich entschuldige mich."  Eric said repeatedly as he lifted Doc to one side and bound Saunders' hands and feet. 

          Taking hold of the front of Doc's shirt, Eric pulled him to a sitting position and more or less forced him to drink from the canteen, then did the same with Saunders.  Eric laid Doc on his stomach and Saunders on his back next to him, securely tying their left arms together, making it impossible for them to untie each other.  He gagged them, then lay down on the other side of the fire and closed his eyes, waking several times during the long night to check on his prisoners.

          When the morning sun brought dim light to the cave, Eric sat up and stretched.  Moving over to Saunders, who appeared to be sleeping, Eric helped himself to another cigarette, again admiring the lighter before returning it to the sergeant's pocket.  He cut both men free, his expression sympathetic as they slowly stretched stiff muscles.  Doc climbed to his feet, his movements stiff and awkward.  Eric bent and lifted Saunders to his feet, steadying him until Doc stumbled over and took his arm.  Digging in his pocket, Eric looked at and dropped several drawings until he found the one he wanted.  He held it out to Saunders, who squinted at it, then handed it to Doc.

          "What's he trying to say, Doc?"

          "He's surrendering to us, Sarge.  He wants to be a prisoner of war and go to America."

          Eric walked over to the wall of the cave, returning with his rifle, which he handed to Saunders, then he raised both hands over his head.

          "Let's get going before he changes his mind."  Saunders said.

          "Sarge, are you up to walking yet?"  Doc asked.

          "Let's go."  Saunders insisted.

          Doc pulled Saunders' arm over his shoulder, and slid the other around his back for support.  The sergeant lightly prodded Eric in the back with the rifle, and the three of them moved out slowly, all blinking in the bright sunlight. 

          "Which way?"  Saunders asked, looking around.

          "Amerikaner."  Eric said, helpfully pointing to the west.

          "Sounds right."  Doc shrugged.

/////////

          They'd walked for a little over an hour when they heard a shout.  In German.  Then they heard another shout.  This one was in English.  Eric shouted something, stepping between the two German soldiers at the edge of the trees and the two Americans behind him.  Just as the unseen American yelled for them to hit the dirt, the two Krauts fired.  Doc and Saunders heard the sickening thuds of the bullets slamming into the huge German in front of them, then he'd fallen backwards, taking them to the ground with him.  Overhead, an M-1 spoke and the two Krauts went down. 

          Doc got to his knees, his hands automatically trying to stop the bleeding from the multiple wounds in Eric's chest.  Gasping for breath, Eric put a hand in his pocket.  He pulled out a crumpled piece of paper and pushed it into Saunders' hand, then his eyes closed and he was still.  Saunders smoothed out the paper and stared at it.

          "Oh, hell."  He said softly, handing it to Doc.

          Doc looked up at Saunders, startled, then slowly took the paper.  It was a picture he hadn't seen before.  He and Saunders and Eric were shaking hands and smiling, with the Statue of Liberty in the background.

          The End

 

Story Copyright Mary Wright. All Rights Reserved.

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The CombatFan web site thanks Mary (aka "EagleLady") for letting us share these fan fiction stories on this web site.

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