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DAVID WRIGHT O'BRIEN

RESURRECTION FROM HELL

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First published in Fantastic Adventures, September 1942
This e-book edition: Roy Glashan's Library, 2020
Version Date: 2020-03-24
Produced by Paul Sandery, Matthias Kaether and Roy Glashan

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Fantastic Adventures, September 1942, with "Resurrection from Hell"


Illustration


The madman of Europe came back from Hell in the flesh, but he came back minus his soul—and Rudolph Hess, rotting in an English prison, went mad when he saw what was in the eyes of this resurrected corpse!



IT was in the spring of 1935 that I cabled the yarn about the hidden munitions and plane plants scattered around the German countryside which resulted in the terse communication from the Press Office of the Third Reich saying, in effect, that I was to pack up my portable and get the hell out of the land of Strength Through Joy. And with alacrity too!

They were extremely gentle about it, those D.N.B. gentlemen who, with hurt feelings and sad firmness, assured me there was no other course open to them after I had displayed such marked "unfriendliness" toward their "aims."

My paper, on the other hand, found a spot for me in Paris, ordering me to hang my hat there no later than six days after I'd received my walking papers from Naziland. This cut down what was left of my stay in Berlin by four days. For the Gestapo had permitted me ten days in which to clear out. None of which hurt my feelings in the slightest. For my usefulness in Berlin was officially at an end, and there would have been no point in my hanging around even ten days longer since I was unable to file any more dispatches. I'd have left the morning after the eruption if it hadn't been for the fact that there was to be a gigantic Nazi Party conclave in Berlin just two days later, and my curiosity concerning certain information about friction between two of its leaders just itched to be satisfied.

By staying on a few more days, I knew, I could pick up some hot stuff for a non-fiction book I'd promised to do for an American publishing house some day. So I took my time packing my portable, and pretended to ignore the two stolid gentlemen who had been standing watch across the street from my little apartment for the twenty-four hours since I'd had my clear-out notice from the Gestapo.

I was feeling very smart about taking literal advantage of the ten day order, and exceptionally smug about what a hell of a news story I'd unearthed to cause all this trouble.

Feeling very smart and smug, that is, until Blake Pearson dropped in on me on the afternoon of the eve of the Nazi shindig. Blake was the Berlin man for International Press Features, and we'd been close friends during the three years we both covered the German capital.


BLAKE was big, rawboned, towheaded. His features were angular and he'd been born in the Arkansas hill country. He was plenty worried as I let him into my apartment.

He didn't waste any time getting to the point.

"Listen, chum," he told me, walking over to the window to look out at the two Gestapo shadows across the street, "you're on a spot—but hot!"

I didn't get it, and I grinned, waving him to a chair.

"You mean those clucks out there?" I said. "They've been standing by ever since yesterday morning when—"

Blake didn't sit down. He cut me off.

"Hell no. I don't mean those guys. And I don't mean anything about your get-out-of-town instructions from Himmler. This is something worse than that. Something I picked up from Jessert just two hours ago."

"Jessert?" My eyebrows went up a notch. He was Blake's special stool. A German who hated the hell out of the Nazis. Every correspondent has several such grapevines.

Blake Pearson nodded. "Jessert got it from a cousin in the Gestapo. Your neck is on the block. They don't want you to get out of here alive!"

I got very sober and felt suddenly chilly along the spinal column. Naturally. I fished for a cigarette with hands that just wouldn't stay steady, and sat down before my knees gave out.

"Well," I said weakly. "Well, well."

"What in the hell did Krommer tell you?" Blake demanded.

Krommer was my special stool. He was a young Austrian whose sister had died after an attack by a Storm Trooper. He'd never thought much of the swastika swine after that.

But I hadn't seen Krommer in over forty-eight hours. I'd cut connections with him and wiped out traces immediately after I'd gotten in hot water with my yarn about hidden plane and munitions plants. It had been the one break I could give him.

"Krommer hasn't seen me since I cabled that story," I said. "He hasn't told me anything."

Blake put his hands on my shoulders.

"Look, chum," he said. "I don't want your damned story. Whatever he told you is no concern of mine. But don't try to tell me he hasn't tipped you off to something plenty hot, and within the last twenty-four hours, too!"

This was getting damned involved. "On the level, Blake," I told him. "I haven't seen Krommer in two days!"

The insistence in my voice convinced him. But his expression was grimly worried. "Then he had something for you, some information, which he tried to get through," Blake said half to himself. "Whatever it was, it must have been dynamite."

"Why do you say that?" I demanded.

"Krommer died. This morning. An overdose of castor oil. Gestapo headquarters."


I SAT there stunned. After a minute I was able to mutter, "Good God!"

"And the brownies evidently are sure that Krommer got to you with whatever he'd picked up," Blake said quietly. "For you're next on their list."

"They could never get away with it!" I said desperately.

"Couldn't they?" Blake said acidly.

I didn't answer.

"They'd have a tough time putting you under arrest, officially," Blake went on after a moment. "That would cause a hell of a stink. You have a little too much push behind you to make framing you wise. But there are other ways in which a correspondent could be rubbed out."

"Such as?" But my question was just a formality. I knew them, lots of them.

"Accidents," Blake said. "Cars run over people. Men have been known to get dizzy and fall from tall buildings. Electric sockets can play hell if the current's jazzed up."

I held up my hand. "Don't bother about the sub- classifications," I implored him. "I'll admit them."

Blake lighted a cigarette, and I burned my fingers on the one I'd dragged down to a stub. But I didn't mind the burn. It reminded me that I wasn't dead. Yet.

There was a silence while Blake walked over to the window again and moved the curtains back slightly to have another look at the two splendid examples of Nordic brutality standing across the street.

He let the curtains fall back in place and put a hand in his pocket. His cigarette dangled loosely from the corner of his wide mouth and he squinted at me through the smoke.

"They sharp?" he asked.

I looked up.

"Those cauliflowers across the street," he amplified. "Have you tried shaking them yet? Have you been able to leave here without their catching on?"

I nodded. "For three hours last night," I said. "I slipped out just for the hell of it. Had a few drinks and came back. They never got wise. I got a big laugh out of it."

"Someday your sense of humor is going to kill you," Blake predicted dryly. "How'd you slip them?"

"At the end of the hall," I nodded toward the door, "there's a passage up to the roof. This building is jammed up against another just the same height. There are four roofs after that of the same height. The last one has a fire ladder running down from it to an alley. I went out and came back that way."


BLAKE made a discouraged face.

"All for a beer," he said.

"I was thirsty."

Blake shrugged his shoulders helplessly. "You're so coy," he observed. He sighed, then. "Think you could make it that way again?"

"Don't know why not."

Blake looked at his watch.

"It'll be dark in another two hours," he said. "There'll be a car waiting for you in that alley. Motor'll be running. Keys'll be there. You can send it back to me when you get across the border."

I got a lump in my throat, choked it back.

"You're taking a big chance, Blake," I told him, "for me."

Blake made a smoke ring and punched one of his long, big knuckled fingers through it.

"You'll find papers, identification and all, in the glove compartment," he said. "I figured they've already taken your other papers away."

"They have," I admitted. "I was going to be personally escorted to the border as soon as I was ready to leave. They told me my Gestapo escorts would preclude any necessity for me to have papers."

Blake Pearson nodded. "And they weren't kidding, chum. You don't need a visa to hell."

I ignored the unflattering conception of the place from which I'd cable my last dispatch.

"I'll never forget this," I told him.

He grinned suddenly, rubbing his jaw. "Maybe I won't either," he said.

I tried to reassure him. "If they pick me up before I can make the border, I'll tell 'em I stole the car and had the papers forged myself."

Blake really grinned this time.

"My, my," he drawled. "You're not only coy, you're naive!"

The limousine was a low-slung, rebuilt British job, with a Roll's motor and ninety miles an hour under its black hood. The alley was deserted, and the keys were in the ignition.

When I put my hand in the glove compartment, I felt the forged papers there and something else. A German Army pistol. It was in fine shape, and Blake had wrapped a note around the barrel of it.


"Chum: This thing is loaded for bear. Good luck."


GETTING out of Berlin proper wasn't too easy. For, as I said before, it was the eve of the Nazi Party conclave, and the place was lousy with brownies, whooping it up and getting underfoot at every intersection you encountered. Those who weren't stinking drunk and chasing ten year old girls, were stationed at the important road crossings leading in and out of Berlin. They carried leaded clubs and scowled darkly at all passing vehicles, looking for any excuse to vent the spleen they felt at being left out of their comrades' none too clean fun.

But I knew the city, and managed to keep out of the way, and in something less than forty-five minutes, I was roaring out of the last suburbs of Berlin and onto some of Adolf's best country roadways.


OF course I kept off the main highways. They were too well patrolled, for it was along one of them that der Führer was expected to make his majestic journey into Berlin from his mountain retreat. And there had been rumors that he would arrive in Berlin that evening, for he was slated to open the Nazi, convention with a speech on the morning of the first day.

I kept my eyes open and my fingers crossed during the next several hours. And finally, when I figured my luck had been holding out for just about as long as I could expect on those particular highway stretches, I found a fairly decent but lesser travelled route and turned off onto it gratefully.

It was a narrow roadway, not new, but still in good condition and just wide enough to permit two cars heading in opposite directions to pass one another without collision.

Checking on several of the road maps I'd brought along with me, I found that it would add from two to three hours time to my border destination. But that was all right with me. Plenty all right. Just as long as it kept me out of close contact with the brownshirts.

An hour later I found the road skirting into thickly wooded sectors, hilly, winding and steep, and I was forced to slow down a bit. Thick forest preserves were more and more frequent until at last the route was continually banked on either side by trees, and the road itself was arched in an avenue of leafy, intertwining branches.

The sky was blotted from view, by now, and it wasn't until I heard the first rumblings of thunder that I realized bad weather was on the menu.

It wasn't long before the rain started. Lightly at first. Then with greater intensity, until at last it was a relentless downpour. I thought of the festive Nazis in Berlin, and smiled at the realization that this would make a wet mess of the ceremonies they'd planned for the next day.

And then I stopped smiling, as I realized that this was showing signs of making my own plans damply uncertain. Showing very definite signs of it; for already the road itself was some six inches under water, with the torrent continuing unabated and promising much, much more.

I cursed myself roundly for having taken this route that had at first seemed so clever. Any other roadway in less hilly and non-irrigated sectors would have been better than this.

Somewhere up ahead of me there would be a washout. There was scarcely any reason to hope otherwise. For by now the rain had reached deluge proportions, and I was already splashing through occasional sections lying as much as two feet under water.

I thought of turning back. But there was little sense in that, even if it wouldn't have been additionally hazardous. The roadway I'd already covered on this route was just as liable to be washed out as the sections that lay ahead.

"You're a bright boy," I told myself sickly. "A very bright boy."

My palms were damp, and I'd take first one then the other from the wheel to wipe them dry against the front of my trench coat. My forehead was beaded with sweat and I listened to the smooth hum of the motor with sick suspense. Waiting. Just waiting, for the awful splutter that would indicate those motor points had been drenched into uselessness and that the limousine had stalled.


I WAS navigating the more frequently occurring washed-under sections much more slowly, now. But there was little comfort in such caution. For they were getting deeper with every mile.

Once I stopped the car to get out those road maps in an effort to figure out where in the hell I was. But where they'd once seemed crystal clear in my scanning of them, I now found it utterly impossible to line up any of the landmarks I'd passed in the last hour with what I saw on the maps.

I remembered several forks in the road that had cropped up, and thought of the confident assurance with which I'd taken what—in each case—had seemed the obvious continuation of the route.

Now, I wondered if I'd been right. Maybe the other way had been the correct one. Maybe there were recent detours added. Maybe—

I didn't want to think about it. I didn't even want to recognize it as a possible factor. But finally I said it aloud.

"Judas—I'm lost!"

Now, I began to wish frantically for signs of the one thing I'd prayed desperately to avoid up until now: cars. Any cars and all cars. Anything with four wheels and someone in it to get me straightened out and clear of this forest labyrinth. Hell, I'd have been glad to take the chance of brazening through any suspicion or demand for identification.

And then I came to the tree lying straight across the roadway.

It was a gigantic, massive trunked affair, one side stripped white of bark by the jagged flash of lightning that had felled it.

I had to stop. I couldn't get around, over, or under that tree. It blocked off the entire roadway. All out. End of the line.

Thunder crackled gutturally and the rain continued to drench down relentlessly. I sat there behind the wheel of the limousine, staring out through the waterfall cascading down my windshield like a half-witted mute.

What now? What to do? What in the hell to do?

I reached into the glove compartment, and without quite being aware of what I was doing, stuffed the papers from it into the inner pocket of my trench coat. I removed the German Army pistol also, placing it in the pocket of the coat.

Then I climbed out into the driving rain.

Slogging through the three inches of water that covered the road, I went around the car out in front of the white glare of the headlights. I tried to move the fallen tree.

In two minutes I was soaked outside by the rain, and drenched inside from the sweat of my futile exertions. I hadn't moved the massive trunk an inch.

I went back to the car, switched off the headlights, and removed the keys. Then I returned to the fallen tree, looked sickly at the grim, unyielding bulk of it, and stepped around it to the other side.


ABOUT twenty yards down there was a sharp bend in the road. I would have driven on past that bend if it hadn't been for the catastrophe of the tree across the road. Now I decided to walk on up to it, on the chance that there might be something of help to me—what, I had no earthly idea—beyond that bend.

A minute later and I'd climbed the ascension of that road bend. It formed a little hill perhaps twenty feet higher than the forest levels on either side of it, and there were crude railings on both sides to remind travelers of the roadway that the turn was none too safe.

One of the railings, the one on my right, was shattered.

It took perhaps half a minute for me to see the twisted wreckage of the once sleek, long, black limousine that lay overturned twenty feet down beneath the shattered guard railing.

Sliding on the slick clay of the embankment, and catching at bushes and branches to keep from falling headlong, I let myself down that drop until I stood beside the wreckage of the limousine.

A brief search of the car and the broken underbrush around it showed me that the occupants, whoever they had been, were no longer around.

There was nothing about the car itself that would serve for any identifying purposes. Except, of course, that it was new, expensive, and had had luxurious furnishings.

I climbed laboriously back up to the top of the bend and stood there looking around.

It was then that I caught first sight of the castle.

Perhaps half a mile back from the roadway, topping an enormous tree sheltered knoll, it stood gaunt and forbiddingly black against the white glare of the lightning flash that brought it to my attention.

And with the brief illumination of that lightning gone, I had to strain my eyes to find it a second time. But there it was. It hadn't been illusion. Dark, blackly majestic, a landmark of the ancient, feudal teuton era.

My eyes were accustoming themselves to the darkness of the night and the torrential veil of the ceaseless rain. And now I saw the four pinpoints of light glimmering from the upper turret towers of the castle.


FOR no longer than two or three minutes I debated my next move. And then, once I'd settled it in my mind, I started out toward that castle. There would be people there. Who they'd be, I had no way of knowing. But neither did I know where I was, or how I'd ever manage to make the border before being tracked down by the Gestapo.

With my forged credentials and a slightly plausible story—which I'd have to invent along the way—there'd be some chance, my only chance. Perhaps, if the castle was inhabited by some rich old peer, there'd be servants and land- tillers to help me move the tree from the roadway, and directions that would help me find my way to the Polish border.

It was a risk I had to take.

I found a muddy lane leading off the roadway, up the huge knoll through the trees, to the grim old castle. It took me more than ten minutes to cover this. And when I finally emerged from this lane into the wide, lawned clearing around the castle, I caught my breath.

There were two sleek black limousines, similar to the wrecked machine I'd discovered below the shattered guardrail along the road bend, parked before the vast, flagstone entranceway to the ancient castle.

I stopped dead, staring breathlessly at them while my heart went through a series of somersaults. My hand had instinctively gone to the pistol in my pocket, and the touch of it was reassuring, reminding me of what had to be done.

It took me fully a minute to make certain that there were no occupants in those limousines, and all of another minute to decide that there was no one present in the open area around the castle grounds.

Cautiously, then, I crossed the clearing, carefully skirting the parked machines, and made my way up the flag-stoned stretch to the huge front door of ancient timber.

I stood there then, less than three feet from the castle door, listening.

Save for the rumbling of thunder in the distance and the torrent of rain washing down from the blackened sky, there were no sounds.


I STEPPED back several paces and craned my neck upward, gazing at the pinpoints of light which still lanced forth from the four turret tower windows at the top of the castle.

Something prevented me from calling out. Something stranger than a sense of caution.

Silently, I moved back to the great old door. And now, for the first time, I became aware that it was slightly ajar.

I stepped up to it, pressing gently inward with my hand against its ancient iron reinforcements. It gave slowly, without betraying noise.

I stepped inside, into a long, stone, barren hallway. A hallway illuminated but faintly by an ancient wick lamp. There was no one in the hallway, and just to the right of the door I saw a narrow stone staircase leading upward ... to where?

Again I paused, holding my breath and listening anxiously. There was no sound but the fury of the storm outside. I hesitated, eyeing that staircase, weighing the implications of the silence and the cars out front. The lights came from the tower windows. The occupants were up there.

Quietly I moved across the hallway and started up those stone steps. The staircase turned sharply with the tenth step, and I saw another ancient lamp on a landing just above it.

I moved up to the landing, hesitating as I looked up and down another dim hallway leading off of it on either side. The stairway continued on, and I decided to follow it.

And then I heard the footsteps and voices up above me. Hard, ringing, boot-clad steps!

A heavy door slammed shut somewhere up there, and the footsteps, growing louder, were coming down toward me.

I looked wildly right and left for refuge. There was an alcove in the center of the dim hallway. Quickly, I moved down to it. It proved to be the door to another room. I tried the door and it was locked. I pressed back hard against the door, taking full advantage of its scant concealment.

The footsteps rang heavily down toward me now, and I heard deep, worried, guttural voices speaking in the German tongue.

Then the steps were at the landing, and continuing down the first flight of stairs. I poked my head out quickly—and saw the backs and steel helmets of two Nazi soldiers.

They disappeared down the staircase, and I heard the sound of their hard-heeled boots ringing across the first floor hallway, moving obviously toward the door. Then they stopped.

The Nazi soldiers had obviously taken post at the door.

I was, quite obviously, trapped!


FOR fully a minute I had all I could do to calm the frantic efforts of my heart and stomach to switch places. Only then was I able to step softly out of the doorway alcove and move ever so cautiously down the dimly lighted hall to the staircase landing.

I didn't realize it then, but my instincts of caution and sanity were losing their ancient and bitter grudge feud with my instincts of newspaper curiosity. My heart was hammering now through excitement and a burning desire to find out what this was all about, rather than through fear.

The soldiers, the limousines outside, the lights and voices up in the tower, the wrecked limousine down at the road bend below the shattered guardrail.

All those things fitted together, even though I couldn't explain how or why, into something that my sixth sense told me was dynamite. My sixth sense—a flimsy thread of hunch. But it had never failed me before, and now it was screaming to be followed.

There was no going down. Not down those stairs. Nazi soldiers stood post there now. I'd have a hell of a lot of fun passing off forged papers on suspicious Nazi soldiers.

I started up the second flight of stone stairs. Another turn, another landing, another flight continuing onward. I didn't hesitate. I went on.

The stairway came to an abrupt ending at the fourth floor hallway. A hallway just as long, just as dimly illuminated as the other two below it. But there were three massive timbered doors immediately to the right of the last stone step. And from the cracks at the bottom of each of these streamed light.

I stood there scarcely breathing, as from behind those doors came mumbled conversation. German voices.

And then I heard the sound of the automobile motor coming up into the courtyard before the castle outside. It must have been heard by the occupants of the rooms just to the right of me. Their voices grew louder, and I heard one of them say in German:

"Thank God, he has come!"

I didn't wait. Whoever had just arrived would be coming up here to this floor, would be coming to see whoever was in those rooms. I thought I heard footsteps from behind one of the doors moving toward it as if to open it.

Swiftly, as noiselessly as I could, I started off down the hallway to the left. There had been a doorway alcove two flights before. There had to be one now!

But there wasn't.

Not another door in the hallway, save those three back to the right of the staircase ending. I moved on desperately. I was coming to the end of the hallway. And then I saw it—a tiny alcove just to the right of the very end of the hall.

It was another staircase, leading upward. Cobwebbed and thick with dust. Long unused. Down below, I could hear voices and footsteps starting up the first flight of stairs.


I HEARD the nearest door at the end of the hallway squeak as someone inside started to open it. There was no hesitating now. I ducked up the narrow, dusty little staircase, pushing my way through the heavy tangle of cobwebs. There were some fifteen stone steps to the little stairway, and I covered them in less than many seconds.

They ended at an opening which revealed a dark, cold, vast sort of attic. It, too, was layered with dust and veiled by cobwebs. I pulled myself up through the aperture until I was standing there at last, cold with sweat and shaking with excitement.

Below I could hear the sound of voices and footsteps, muffled footsteps; muttering, guttural voices. I'd moved none too quickly.

Standing there, I heard the door on the floor below me close—at which instant the voices suddenly seemed much more distinct!

I frowned, getting snatches of Germanic conversation, trying to figure this out while I adjusted my eyes to the darkness. And by the time I was able to see fairly well around me, I had figured out the reason for the new proximity in voices.

The place in which I was now standing was the castle's equivalent of a loft. It was the top story, and it extended over all the rooms on the floor just below it. Which meant there was an aperture of some sort in the floor of this loft, above one of the rooms from which the Nazi soldiers had come, and in which the other unknown occupants and the new arrival now were assembled. An aperture through which those voices now were coming.

And then I saw it. By "saw," I mean the pinpoint of light lancing up through a small slotted grating in the center of the loft quarters in which I now stood.

Very cautiously, fearing any echoes that might be set up in this empty, stone floored loft, I moved over toward that tiny ribbon of light.

Standing just above it, and looking down through the small, slotted grating, I got an almost complete view of the well lighted room below. An almost complete view which showed me that the three doors from which I'd heard voices coming all belonged to the same large room.

And, as far as I was able to discern at first, there were four people in that brightly illuminated room. Three of them wore uniforms, and the fourth wore civilian togs.

Of the uniformed three, two were dressed in the Nazi Party garb, and the third, an extremely stout, scowling fellow, wore the uniform of an officer in the Luftwaffe.

Of the two men in Nazi Party uniform, one was well proportioned and of medium size. He was handsome in a rugged, rather brutal way. The other was small, thin, with a face full of ratlike cunning and twisted ferocity.

The man in civilian clothes was small, gaunt faced, and bald. He wore thick lensed glasses, and his high forehead above his thin nose was beaded with perspiration. His mouth twitched, and there was fear in his tortured eyes.


THE officer in the Luftwaffe uniform was raging at the cowed little chap in civilian dress.

"You will do it, Eckhorn. You will do it, or else. Don't forget there is still your young son. Your wife remains at large, and your little daughter is also unharmed—for the present!"

The little civilian spread his hands in a pathetic gesture of appeal.

"Gentlemen, please, my family—they have done nothing!"

The thin, rat-faced little man in the Nazi Party garb broke in.

"Doktor Eckhorn," he spat, "we guaranteed their safety, plus your own release from the concentration camp—if you succeed in this for us!"

The little doctor seemed more shaken than before. His eyes were piteously pleading.

"But there is little assurance that such a thing could be done—" he began.

"Animals you have succeeded with!" the Luftwaffe officer broke in, his huge jowls shaking angrily. "We know that. So why not with humans?"

The perspiration trickled down the little civilian's long forehead.

"But a human being," he protested hoarsely, "it is not the will of God that such a—"

The somewhat handsome fellow in the Nazi Party dress broke in for the first time, his face flushed, his eyes fanatic.

"It is the will of Destiny!" he blazed. "You must do this thing!"

The frightened little doctor opened his mouth to protest. The thin, rat-faced Nazi cut him off.

"Your wife, your son, your daughter, Doktor Eckhorn. For them, there will be sheer horror, if you refuse!"

The trembling little doctor's last vestige of resistance crumbled.

"All right," he said thickly. "I shall attempt it. I can promise nothing. Nothing, you understand? But I shall try. You say all my old equipment was rushed here?"

"All that you will need," said the Luftwaffe officer.

"Your antiseptics, surgical gown and kit are in the next room," said the ruggedly handsome Nazi, running a shaking hand through his lank black hair.

The little doctor moved slowly out of my line of vision, then, and I heard a door open and shut as he stepped into an adjoining room.

The ruggedly proportioned Nazi turned on the Luftwaffe officer then, his eyes blazing furious condemnation.

"Your mania for speed, speed, speed was the cause of this!" he blazed. "If this fails I will personally kill you!"

The fat, scowling Luftwaffe officer glared back at him defensively.

"I could not foresee a washed-out road and such a breakneck turn," he said sullenly. I saw then, for the first time, that the big-bellied officer had a fresh bandage on the side of his head. It was tinted slightly red.

"If it had only been you who failed to emerge from the wreck," the rugged young Nazi snarled, "I would be overjoyed! But no! He had to pay for your madman's thirst for thrills!"

Part of the pattern was fitting in. The smashed limousine down beneath the shattered guardrail on the roadway turn was now accounted for.


AND then, with the sound of a door opening and closing again, another cog fitted into place as the little man they had called Doctor Eckhorn reentered my area of vision. For seeing him suddenly in a white surgical gown, and instinctively breathing the name they'd called him by, brought back in a rushing flood the recollection of who and what he was.

Doctor Hans Eckhorn was one of Germany's most celebrated surgeons. For years he had been the president of one of Europe's greatest medical universities. And in 1934, little than a year before this moment, he had mysteriously "disappeared."

"Your own release from the concentration camp." The words spoken by the rat-faced little Nazi but moments ago came back to jolt me. So that, then, was the place to which the famed little Doktor Eckhorn had vanished!

And suddenly my brain was madly sorting and shifting this wild chain of circumstances, seeking a solution. The great Eckhorn released temporarily from the hell of a concentration camp, brought here to this desolate castle, for what?

Doctor Eckhorn moved out of my line of vision until I could see only his legs and the end of a wheeled operating table. I could see the eyes of the other three men in the room watching him tensely. Then I heard Eckhorn's voice.

"How long?" he asked simply.

"Four hours," the rugged young Nazi answered hoarsely.

"There are no scars, no mutilations," the Luftwaffe officer put in. For the first time his voice was shaky.

"An internal concussion was the cause of his death," I heard Eckhorn's voice say. "How did it occur?"

The Luftwaffe officer answered again, hoarsely.

"An automobile crash. I—I was at the wheel. We were doing close to a hundred. Through a rail guard on a steep turn."

I could see the eyes of the rugged young Nazi Party man boring hatefully into the face of the pot-bellied Luftwaffe officer as he spoke.

"Four hours makes it almost a certain impossibility," Eckhorn's voice declared. "Had I been able to attempt it sooner after the dea—"

I saw the rat-faced little Nazi draw forth a nasty looking German Army pistol and point it in the direction of Eckhorn as he cut him off.

"You will succeed," he grated.

"On animals you have succeeded in cases which have been over six hours gone," the Luftwaffe officer began.

"Shut up!" the young Nazi blazed furiously, his rugged features twisted in agony of torment.

I saw Eckhorn's legs move, as he turned away from the operating table to face the Luftwaffe officer.

"The respiratory-surgery machine," he said quietly.


THE Luftwaffe officer and the young Nazi moved out of vision to a corner of the room, while the rat-faced little Nazi still held his pistol on the doctor. I heard wheels squeaking, and suddenly the young Nazi and the Luftwaffe officer came back into my focus of vision, pushing a huge, cumbersome machine. They wheeled it around beside the operating table until it, too, was just in the edge of my vision area.

Then they returned to join the rat-faced little chap with the pistol. All three pairs of eyes fixed intently on the drama in that corner of the room, then, as Doctor Eckhorn's legs moved out of vision and he began his preliminary routines.

Minutes passed. Endless minutes broken only by the faint sounds of activity coming from the corner of that room where the celebrated German surgeon was working with desperately incredible brilliance.

All three of the uniformed men were sweating profusely, their faces frozen in granite-like hypnosis as they stared at the corner of that room.

The time continued to crawl by, until every bone in my body was aching from the strain of the vigil, and my nerves were tautening to the breaking point.

It must have been twenty-five minutes after he had started that Doctor Eckhorn's utterly fatigued voice broke the terrible silence.

"It is accomplished," he declared. "He breathes. Life has returned."

Tears welled in the eyes of the ruggedly handsome young Nazi, rolling down his cheeks unashamed.

The rat-faced little Nazi looked evilly triumphant.

The Luftwaffe officer's face wore a curiously unfathomable expression. He licked his tongue across his dry, fat lips.

"The machine," Doctor Eckhorn's weary voice said, "remove it. It is no longer necessary."

He came into my line of vision, taking a surgical mask from his face. His eyes, beneath his thick lensed glasses, were utterly weary. And there was something else written in them. Something sickly terrified.

"He lives," he repeated dully. "But in what manner I cannot say. I can make no promises as to what will happen when the ether wears off. I can make no promises as to what will arise from that operating table."

The rat-faced Nazi grinned contemptuously at him.

"Fool talk," he spat. "You have brought him back from the dead, Eckhorn!"

Doctor Eckhorn nodded slowly.

"He was dead four hours. Now he lives and breathes again. Shortly he will walk and talk once more. I have brought his life back into his body, but I do not know if it was too late to recapture the soul for that body."

"The soul!" There was scorn in the word as the rat-faced Nazi hurled it at the doctor. "Such rot from a man of science!"

Doctor Eckhorn answered.

"I have tampered with things man was never meant to touch. I have resurrected. I have defied the law of creation and death. There is a penalty for such things. In animals, my experiments were but for purposes of scientific curiosity. In this, my first human resurrection," he shrugged, "I cannot predict the result."

"You are a fool!" the rat-faced Nazi blazed. "He lives—and we will see that he never dies again. He is as before!"

Doctor Eckhorn turned his back on the rat-faced Nazi at that instant, peeling off his surgical gloves.

I am never sure, in thinking back, whether or not the thin, rat-faced little Nazi pulled the trigger through a sudden mad impulse, or according to previous plan. But the shots, three of them, blasted forth nevertheless.

Little Doctor Eckhorn fell forward to the stone floor, his head pillowed in his own blood. He looked ironically peaceful and at rest.

The younger Nazi and the bloated Luftwaffe officer had wheeled at the sound of the first shot. They watched Eckhorn crumple to the floor impassively.

The rat-faced little Nazi returned the smoking gun to his pocket with a grin.

"Now we must destroy the machine," he said. "No one must ever know of this. After that, we can call Doctor Henzel. We must tell him only that there was the accident, and that he miraculously escaped with his life. Doctor Henzel can nurse him back to strength."

The pot-bellied Luftwaffe officer and the young Nazi moved out of sight toward the operating table and the weird machine. They moved the latter back to the opposite corner where it had originally been.

The rugged faced Nazi spoke then. His voice was tremulous.

"Let us look just once at his face," he said huskily. "At his face, alive and vital once more."

The rat-faced Nazi nodded.

"If you wish, Rudolph."

The Luftwaffe officer followed the rugged young Nazi to the operating table, with the rat-faced Nazi bringing up the rear. I could now only see their legs as they grouped around the person on that operating table.

"He breathes, oh God. I dared not hope for this!"

The exclamation was torn from the young Nazi, Rudolph.

"His eyes," said the voice of the rat-faced Nazi suddenly, "are fluttering. They open!"


I HEARD the simultaneous gasp from the throats of all three, then. Sharp, jagged, horrified.

It was the voice of the young Nazi, Rudolph, that cried out.

"Mein Gott, his eyes, his eyes! What has happened?"


Illustration

"Mein Gott! His eyes! His eyes!"


It was the voice of the Luftwaffe officer that said hoarsely, horrified, "Gott im Himmel, they are the eyes of the Devil!"

It will always be a matter of undying regret to me that I never saw the body lying on the operating table in that mountain castle in Germany; the body that was brought back across the black gulf of Death itself, to live and breathe once more.

For I had a gun in my pocket, and I'm certain I'd have used it to send that creature back to the abyss of Hell into which his death from that automobile wreck had sent him.

But I had to use that gun rapidly and well, in the next thirty seconds when two German soldiers burst in on me in that castle loft. I had the advantage of darkness. Their flashlights gave them away. My aim was excellent. It had to be.

Finding the small door that led to the castle roof was sheer luck. But find it I did. And one of those incredibly huge trees provided the ladder by which I made my way to the ground.

I'm certain that those two soldiers were the only others in the castle save those I'd watched in that room. And it must have taken the Luftwaffe officer, the rat-faced Nazi, and the black haired young Rudolph considerable time to locate the sound of the shots and find the bodies of their guards.

I was gone by then, in one of their limousines, leaving the other two with punctured gas tanks. Even today, I cannot reveal the names of the peasant farmers who helped me across the Polish border.

But I can reveal the names of the men in that room. And it is not too hard to speculate on what has happened among them thereafter. Much of it is recorded history.

The fat man in the Luftwaffe officer's uniform was Hermann Goering.

The young Nazi with the given name of Rudolph had the surname of Hess.

The thin, rat-faced little Nazi was Joseph Goebbels.

And I submit that the creature on the operating table, the thing called back from the black voids of Death to live again, was Adolph Hitler!


CHECK the newspaper files concerning that Spring Nazi Party gathering in Berlin, 1935. Der Führer was "suffering from a cold" and put in no appearance.

Check, too, if you will, the sudden tremendous increase in Nazi atrocities and brutalities through Germany itself from that Spring of 1935 until the day the Terror flamed quite suddenly across the world with the invasion of Poland.

The man whose soul had fled the dead body lying on that table in the lonely mountain castle on the eve of that Nazi Party conclave in 1935, was a vicious, sadistic bully, an underhanded politician, a most cunning opportunist. That was the Hitler who had died.

The thing that was resurrected from the very pits of hell itself, on that same evening, was nothing human, nothing earthly. It was the incarnation of Evil; a hideous, slavering monster in human form. A monster that is at this moment grasping for the world.

I know not what thing it is that inhabits the shell of the petty beast who met his death that night. I only know that Adolf Hitler died in the spring of 1935. Died in the smashed and twisted wreckage of a car driven by the speed-crazy Goering, who somehow escaped alive.

I only know that Germany's most brilliant surgeon, a man who had brought animals back from death in "curiosity" experiments, made life pulse again, that night, in the body of a tyrant he despised. And I recall his words of warning before that monstrous resurrection:

"I can make no promises as to what will arise from that operating table if I succeed."

And I can still recall the shrill scream from the lips of Rudolph Hess as he looked into the eyes of the thing that had struggled back from slime of hell to breathe once more on that operating table.

A Rudolph Hess who is rumored to sit this very day in the black corners of an English cell—quite impossibly mad.


THE END


Roy Glashan's Library
Non sibi sed omnibus
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