Our tale of deception continues from the standpoint of an infiltrating soviet spy.
A swarm of putrid sticking vermin, scurrying from the war, this human filth would not be looked upon kindly by my masters, you fight for your home, and you fight to the last. You never run. I am trapped amongst them. But not for much longer.
Refugees flock to their European masters like flies to a bloated carcass, feeding themselves while they still can. Paris is no different, whole neighbourhoods have been reoccupied after the original inhabitants had scarpered at the onset of war. The camps encroach on the secure sectors of the city, the sheer weight of people bearing down the barricades and checkpoints. The daily alms handouts generate queues miles upon miles long, those that queue for breakfast end up receiving their dinner. That is my means of infiltration into the city, through an endless, daily line of hunger and despair.
The alms are distributed in a plaza adorned with such culturally important architecture that it must have once attracted rich and curious tourists, now it draws only the starving. Broken fountains and benches lay disused and forgotten meanwhile mosaic stonework remains cracked underfoot. A vast shopping complex surround two sides of the square, a grand colonnade casts the approach in shadow, hiding the state of disuse it now exists in. On the other two sides stand tall and imposing alabaster apartments blocks with lines of Parisian terrace balconies ordered tidily.
I reached the square via the refugee entry route coming from the east, on the left the apartments towered high over the long line meanwhile on the right sat the now vacant shops. Ahead the line snaked round, repeating on itself countless times until finally reaching the ration distribution beside the refugee exit street heading west. The only over route connected to the square came from the north, a boulevard underneath a broken archway, which led to the high security military district of Paris. This was my target, my mission. The crowds around me jostled nervously as the starving hordes were merged into line, the panic and despair born from this squalid scenario was evident, and had it not be for the visible security presence then the human desire for survival would be causing anarchy. All the better for me. Squads of stormtroopers watched impotently, eyes glazed as more refugees passed on by them, their black leather trench coats flapping softly in the breeze and their MG42’s hanging loosely form their straps, untouched. I had heard nothing from the comrades ahead of me, passing a covert message without suspicion would have been hard enough given the circumstances but there was no sign whatsoever, I just had to hope that the button on my dull ear piercing would work when activated. Timing was paramount; my position amongst the crowds would have to be accurate when I activated the two devices stationed in the apartments.
I waited patiently, my urge to be away from the unconverted infidels kept in control, winding up and down the square and then realising I’ve only physically moved several metres over the course of an hour, with it taking another hour to reach the centre of the crowds. Dusk had transformed into dark during the time I was in the square, shadows had slinked their way out of existence and the angry red sky had become an all enveloping black. I suddenly felt much pressure on my soldiers, the Soviets seek any opportunities on their European enemies, so when we heard that one of their top spies had gone rogue and has come out of hiding to confront the generals that he had once aided, the resources committed to a retrieval operation were unquestioned. Cracking the nut of Paris would be unenviable no matter. And that’s why I find myself where I am, doing work for the homeland behind enemy lines.
So with great anticipation I pressed the piecing stud in my ear.
No one knew that the mastermind bioengineer of the Latin Junta had a protégé, nor does anyone know that Santiago Cruz had taught an apprentice so capable with explosives that he could create an explosion to exact specifications. Since I was prior to the sad knowledge that some of his last great works were about to detonate, I watched the apartments intently to see whether hype lived up to expectations.
What actually took moments to enact seemed like eons as mechanics as unknowable as nature itself were tuned before my eyes.
A great inhale of air smashed all the remaining windows inwards, the panes being ripped violently from their frames entirely. A whooshing sound was then trailed by a sudden inner glow that buildings had not had before. Refugee heads now began to swivel and the snowballing commotion. Flames began to spread towards the apartment’s extremities, licking threateningly like a clawing beast. As the inferno reached the open air beyond the balconies the fiery fury unfurled like a mythic beast, surging outwards through walls and ceilings until the entire building was alight. Like two square beacon pyres. From where I stood I could not hear the blaze, the sound of terrified refugees encapsulated me, fearful that the whole district would quickly be engulfed at the current rate of spread. I knew that was not true of course, the propellant used in the bomb needed neighbouring buildings to be directly attached for the fire to spread further, since the apartment blocks stood alone and proud there was no risk of this.
The terror spread as quickly as the fire had, the towers burning so bright in the night time, corralling the refugees away from the streets that the fires neighboured. The crowds quickly herded north, the only remaining direct escape route, towards the restricted zones soldiers quickly tried to bar the way by flocking to the makeshift barricade that was already swamped. The resistance only spooked the crowds more as they suddenly became trapped between an inferno and armed soldiers. The front of the horde faltered as the rear continued to push with myself simply following the tide of people, the pressure against the barricade was beginning to heighten drastically as the tens of storey high blaze contuse to roar aggressively.
Then it came, the great relief, as enough European soldiers faltered that the entire barricade had to be abandoned, the squads of professional and experienced individuals fleeing before trampling mass that was one step behind. I felt the immediate effect as the crowds flooded forward, none were trampled underfoot as all the refugees were equally eager to flee. I kept wary, if I did not remain in the flow of the mass I would surely be swept underfoot, I could not also be lost in its spirited chaos as I needed to reach an alley on the left of the street.
I saw the required gap between the building that funnelled the refugees forward, it was five metres ahead and I had managed slip and jostle through the crowd enough that I would be able to dive into the necessary alley. At that fateful moment, fortune swept against me. Someone somewhere fired into the air in an effort to stop the stampede, it didn’t, and in fact it did the complete opposite. The sound of gunshots so close to the fleeing civilians drove them into frenzy, people clawing in all directions to get as far away as possible. Many lost their footing in the carnage, or were shoved over by those trying to get past them; great bundles of bodies popped up as one fall would snowball causing many more in concurrence. I couldn’t escape the madness, immediately being shoved down out the way of another individual, losing my balance I turned the fall into a roll. I nearly found my feet again, but I was caught side on by more refugees in the crowd and was carried along for a few yards before falling again, this time was harder to recover being trampled on several times before being able to roll out the way of more stamping feet. Once upright again, I quickly dive off into the nearest adjoining street, expecting to reach the alley I aimed for, I found myself caught before a checkpoint I was particularly trying to bypass.
The street was a narrow off shoot of the boulevard, dimly lit, lined either side by old French terraces drained of colour. The checkpoint was nothing more than a minor sandbag encampment with a poorly concealed mounted weapon, but it was one of the primary obstacles between me and my target. I had planned this operation to take place during a period of shift change in case I had not been able to reach the alley; such was the case now that I was thankful for my for-thought with only a single figure manning the checkpoint. He approached, his interest piqued by my sudden appearance, but as he draws closer, the night hiding his details, I discover with dread that he is an officer.
The sheer quantity of refugees lurking around the outskirts of Paris has caused many of the local soldiers have become compassionate and complacent towards them. Most would feed a frightened and injured and send her on her way, of the course the less salubrious characters would probably take said girl to some dark corner where she could open his throat for being the vile pig he is, either way has worked to my gain when slinking around this city. Officers are a different breed, arbitrary and sticklers of protocol, their biggest human complaint does work greatly when it comes to security. I do not stand a chance of getting by this one; he may well search me, detain me, interrogate me or even take me by armed escort into deeper parts of the city. All in all I will miss my window of opportunity. And I will not let that happen.
“Halt, identify yourself”, he announced in a clipped German accent, oh joy was the first thing that came to mind after I realised that fact, his boots made peculiar tapping sounds as they hit the paved street, his long sinister coat already parted to reveal the handgun in its holster.
With the realisation that my only escape route is behind me, and that running would be a sure sign of guiltiness in the officer’s eyes, I had no choice to reply, “I am sorry kind sir, I am nothing but a poor refugee”, I answer in my eastern European tone, an area of particular suspicion for both the Soviets and the Europeans, “there was a fire, some shooting, I was trampled in the rush, I think my ankle’s broken, could you help”. Another step forward, he’s curious, plus he has not drawn his sidearm.
Still splayed across the floor, I rose, making it seem as uncomfortable as possible before purposefully falling again and whining like a feral cat caught in a vice. The act was compelling enough to urge the officer to aid me, he instantly forward and put his arm round my shoulders to help me up. I threw him over me head first, followed by a rewarding snap. I turned to the body and spat vehemently, “my apologies infidel”.
I considered hiding the body but I had little time to, I had not spotted the two sharpshooters concealed by rooftop chimney stacks, sniper rounds hit the brickwork around me and the chatter of the officer’s radio revealing the buzz I had caused from being discovered. I ran, with the sound of tiled footsteps behind me as they chased along the roofs. I knew I had to keep on my toes; I would be entering more secure territory while being chased by killers who could box me in. Sandbags exploded as I vaulted the barricade in the street. Down alleyways, across junctions and through gardens, the buggers stayed stuck on my trail, my escape came from an unexpected means.
Sprinting out of a gulley between two terraces, I find myself in a rather verdant park amidst the grey of the city. In the adjoining street is a passing cart laden with luggage and belonging being pulled by a chain gang of republican prisoners, guarded by a minor escort. I formulate a plan, if I can unleash some chaos then I may well be able to disappear into the night. I run into the street, flipping a coin bomb onto the cart which then promptly explodes. Prisoners, guards and luggage alike are thrown by the blast. The prisoners free and enough carnage to cover my tracks, I disappear into the night and the military district of Paris.