Echoes of Honor Pt. 18 “I Will Fear No Evil…” Pt. 1
Okay. You may be thinking why on earth is this post called Echoes of Honor Pt. 18 “I Will Fear No Evil…” Pt. 1? Because there will be two parts within Pt. 18. “I Will Fear No Evil” Pt. 1 and “I Will Fear No Evil” Pt. 2. There’s just too much story info to shove into one story part today, so I decided to split it.
Here we go…!
“I’m worried about her.” Karl thumped onto the chair next to Wilhelm and folded his arms across his chest. “She’s still staring at the wall.”
Wilhelm leaned back against his chair and stretched out his long legs. “I know. I had hoped making plans to rescue Marie would get her out of this stupor.”
“If she were my brother I’d drag her out of bed and knock some sense into her.” Karl looked down at his leather shoes. “It wasn’t her fault.”
Wilhelm leaned forward and rested a hand on Karl’s shoulder. “It wasn’t your’s either.”
“I should’ve been able to save him.” Karl’s voice broke. “Some doctor I would have made.” He tried to blink back the tears that threatened to slid down his face. He was unsuccessful. “Watching a friend die like that…It makes me want to give up.” Karl went to slam his fist down on the table, but Wilhelm caught his arm.
“Hitting things won’t make the pain go away.”
Karl put a hand to his face, and let his head drop. “We weren’t prepared. I led you all into a death trap.” Sobs shook his shoulders. It wasn’t until now that Karl realized he hadn’t cried in a very long time. It felt good and humiliating at the same time. He was a man, and men didn’t cry.
Arms went around Karl as Wilhelm hugged him. “I made it a goal on my thirteenth birthday to never cry again.” Wilhelm paused and cleared his throat. “When this war started, that goal has been impossible to keep.”
Karl felt his friend squeeze his arm.
“Cry, Karl. It will help.”
Her brother was crying, so was Wilhelm. How strange life had become. Sophie remembered only one time she had heard Karl crying…The day he had been suspended from school after their father had been imprisoned for his speeches against Hitler. Karl had tried to brush it aside, pretending that nothing going on around him affected how he felt, but Sophie had known better. As she passed by his bedroom door that night, she had heard him sobbing into his pillow. She had gone into his room and sat on the bottom of his bed, as he, through tears, told her what dreams had been broken for him that day. It had been a moment she would never forget. A moment, though painful, that had made their brother and sister relationship more beautiful.
Beautiful…Would anything be beautiful in this world again?
Philippe’s death had been like a bucket of icy water thrown on her faith. If God loved them like He said He did, why was everything crumbling around them?
Eyelids heavy from crying, Sophie drifted off into a troubled sleep.
Wilhelm felt like he had to keep everyone and everything together. He dumped the contents of the wooden crate he held out on the table and stared at it. Where was he supposed to put everything? Thankfully another Resistance group had taken in Petr for the time being. The kid needed someplace cheerful to live for a few days.
After last weekend’s trouble, the Resistance leaders had moved the four of them to another hideout in the country, giving them strict orders to lay low. Wilhelm didn’t know how well one of them, the most stubborn, would obey those orders.
Wilhelm knew Karl well. No matter what grief he was experiencing now, his stubborn streak would return, and they’d be making plans tomorrow to rescue Philippe’s sister, Marie.
Technically, rescuing someone’s sister didn’t go under the Resistance leaders’ jurisdiction, so they weren’t disobeying any orders.
What on earth were they going to do about, Sophie? Philippe’s death had crushed her. Where was she going to find the strength to get up out of that bed and help them make plans? Wasn’t her Bible supposed to comfort her during times like this?
Wilhelm’s stomach twisted into a knot as he stared at the table. One of the things he had dumped out of the crate was Sophie’s little leather Bible. Did he dare pick it up and read a verse or two?
Slowly, he pulled the Bible out of the pile and opened the cover.
“What’s the matter with you, Wilhelm? Why on earth do you keep smiling like a that?”
Wilhelm thumped the Bible down in front of Karl. “I’m not saying this book is making everything suddenly better, but something about it—I can’t stop smiling. I stayed up all last night to read it.”
“Good for you.” Karl wondered at his friend’s sanity. Wilhelm had never been openly against the Bible reading Sophie had made them sit through each morning, but Karl had seen the uncomfortable look in his eyes.
“I thought Sophie was crazy for reading it. It’s just a book, but I don’t know. Something about it makes me feel peaceful.”
Karl snatched the book from his hands. “Look at this carefully, Wilhelm. It’s leather, paper, and ink. Nothing special.”
Wilhelm scowled. “I’m not saying we should run off to church, Karl, but maybe we should explore this book together. There might be something to learn. Something that could make us feel better.”
“The only thing I want to learn right now is how to rescue Marie. Sophie said before that the soldiers are guarding their house.” Karl smacked his hand to his forehead. “This is ridiculous. We don’t ever know where she lives.”
“Karl.” A soft voice said from behind the two boys.
Karl turned in his seat. “Sophie.”
Coming forward, Sophie placed an envelope down on the table. “I found this in Philippe’s things. There are a few family photos from before the war and a scribbled note from Marie to Philippe. There’s a house address on the back of one of the pictures.” Sophie reached into her dress pocket and pulled out the locket. “Make sure Marie gets this.”
Karl’s brow furrowed. “You aren’t coming?”
“How on earth can you ask me that Karl Hoffman?” Without another word she turned and disappeared into her room.
“She has a point,” Wilhelm said softly. “We’ll have to be the ones to rescue this Marie girl.”
Sophie was so tired of crying, but she couldn’t stop. She was huddled next to the stove in a heap, a cup of hot tea in her hands.
While the boys had left at sunset to rescue, Marie, all Sophie could do was sit in dread. What if something happened to either boy?
Sophie opened her eyes and looked around the dark room. She scowled at the candle she had lit earlier. The only thing it illuminated was the glossy leather cover of her Bible. She was tempted to get up and move the candle away from it. She didn’t want to see that thing.
Shutting her eyes tight, she leaned up against the wall and fell asleep.
“Where are all the soldiers Marie’s letter talked about?”
Hiding in the shadows outside a row of houses, both Wilhelm and Karl strained their eyes in the dark as they searched for any living soul.
“There’s something wrong here,” Wilhelm whispered. “It feels eerie.”
“I know. Chills ran up my spine a second ago.” Karl rested one hand on his knee and used the other to point. “Some of the windows in these houses are wide open. No one would leave their window open this time of year.”
“I feel like we’re being watched.” Wilhelm shifted on the rocky ground and squinted in the dark. “Karl.” Wilhelm lowered his voice. “There’s someone in that house. I saw movement by the upstairs window.”
“I thought the same thing.” Karl looked from the paper he held in his hands to the house. “Coincidentally, that house is Philippe’s family’s.”
“Should we check it out?” Wilhelm asked, doubt in his voice.
Karl shook his head. “No. That house could be filled with soldiers for all we know. Let’s stay hidden for a while.”
An hour later, Wilhelm nudged Karl awake. “Someone is coming out of the house!”
“Does it look like a soldier?” Karl asked.
“No.” Wilhelm shrugged. “Just a young boy with a sack. He was probably looting the house.”
“Think he’d be a threat if we stopped him?” Karl started to stand up.
“Why would we want to do that?”
“He just came out of Philippe’s family home. Maybe he saw something.” Karl pointed towards the direction the boy was headed. “You block him from the front, and I’ll block him from behind.”
Wilhelm nodded, looking skeptical. “I can’t believe we’re about to tackle someone that may, or may not have a weapon, or may just happen to be connected to the Gestapo in some way.”
“Your Echoes of Honor group is all about rescuing kids. Just think of this as a rescue mission.”
“I can’t believe you are still alive, Karl Hoffman. You must have given your parents grey hair.”
Karl shook his head. “You have no idea, Wilhelm.”
“I’m sorry, Karl. Didn’t mean to make bad memories come up.”
Karl shook his head, and for the first time in a long while, Wilhelm thought he saw a smile tugging at his friend’s mouth.
The boy with the sack stopped dead in his tracks when he saw Wilhelm coming towards him. Karl squinted in the dark.
Why had Wilhelm suddenly stopped walking as well? And why was his mouth hanging open? The whole point was to grab the kid, not analyze the situation before it was too late.
Thankfully, the boy made his own move and whirled around in the opposite direction. Ignoring his friend’s behavior, Karl leaped out of the shadows and grabbed hold of the boy’s arm.
You would have thought he grabbed hold of a rabbit from all the kicking and squealing that followed.
“Let go of me!” The boy hollered, trying to pry his arm away from Karl’s hold. “You’ll be sorry if my older brother ever finds out that you hooligan grabbed hold of me like I was some common criminal!” The boy accentuated his words with a lame punch at Karl’s face.
Karl looked wildly around for Wilhelm’s help. This boy was a lot stronger than he looked. Wilhelm stood off to the side, arms folded across his chest.
Karl caught the boy’s other arm. “Stop hitting me! All we want to do is ask you a few questions. Wilhelm would you help me!”
Wilhelm cocked his head to the side. “It’s more fun to watch you get pummeled by Philippe’s sister.”
The boy stopped struggling and turned to look at Wilhelm. “What did you say?”
“You’re Marie. Philippe’s sister.” Wilhelm said matter-of-factly.
“What if I deny that?” The boy asked.
“You won’t. You look exactly like your brother. Are you twins?”
Karl felt his eyes get large and he quickly dropped the boy’s arms. “Hold on a second, you’re—“
“You are a very perceptive young man.” The boy cut Karl off. “More perceptive than this hooligan who would’ve torn my arm off if given a chance.” Reaching up to his head, the boy pulled off his cap. Long dark hair fell down in waves. “I’m Marie, how do you know my brother?”
Karl stumbled back. “Y-You’re a girl?” His face turned red. “I was about ready to punch a girl?”
“You were.” She said dryly. “And I would’ve punched you right back.”
All for today!