“Monkey, take three. Where do you think he might be?” Captain Bishop asked me.
“Attic, sir,” I replied. I knew he wasn’t in the furnace room. I’d have seen him. “Mann, Carter, Smith, and Stokes,” I said, pointing out each of them. I went around back of the CQ counter, pulled open the drawer, and grabbed another packet of batteries. I left the heavy-duty one there, my little issue one was my friend, it wouldn’t fail me. It was an issue, but a gift from a friend in AIT. Long story short, she shoved it in her snatch on a drunken bet. I lost the bet. The flashlight was my buddy, it wouldn’t fail me.
“Check the attic. And, uh, Monkey?” I looked at Captain Bishop, “Protect your men.” I nodded, and took the .45 out of my pocket. He nodded, and I turned around.
“Let’s go.” I said, and didn’t even bother looking behind me to make sure they were following me. It didn’t seem weird, that I was a PV2 with less time in than these guys and gals had spent in the field, and they were listening to me. I liked Mann, he was a good guy, and a hard worker. Smith had a wry sense of humor, and I trusted him to have my back. Carter didn’t strike me as the type to let me down, and he wouldn’t run. Stokes, she was looking for redemption. I don’t know why I knew it, I just did. Maybe the time I spent as Basic Training platoon sergeant? Maybe the time I spent as Class Sergeant in AIT.
We went up the stairs, to the third floor, and I checked the door. Locked, but that didn’t mean shit. I was willing to bet Cobb had a key. He’s been here all alone for two weeks.
The memory of his lunge to my throat suddenly came to the front. Wait, didn’t someone vanish? Wasn’t only he and one other guy here, and that guy supposedly vanished? My throat gave a dull throb.
I held my hand up and clicked off the flashlight.
“If you see Cobb, don’t fuck around, kill him if you have to, but don’t trust him.” I ordered. My eyes were adjusting to the darkness, I could feel them around me. “I think he’s got cabin fever.”
“You’ve got to be kidding.” Stokes whispered. “He’s never hurt me.”
I pressed the .45 in her hand. “You move slower than us. Don’t fuck with him, shoot him in the goddamn knee and scream.” I put my hand on the push-bar of the door. “Let’s do this.”
I eased open the door, and looked around. There was a huge emblem painted on one wall, and moonlight was streaming through the windows. The storm was over us, and I could see clouds slowly moving toward us. We wouldn’t have light for long.
The room was empty, and the same layout as the floor below. I ghosted through the room, and tried the first set of doors.
Locked. Damn it.
I unlocked and opened the door. I could see wires hanging down from the walls, desks, another goddamn Nazi mural. There was dust on the floor, with some footprints, but no Army boot prints.
He hadn’t been in here.
Each of the other rooms were the same. Desks. Typewriters. Murals. Telephones. It was like the Nazi’s had just got up and left for lunch and never come back. I picked up a clipboard and looked at it. German, and I didn’t speak a bit of it. It could have been a nasty note specifically to me, and I wouldn’t have known it.
Still, something about it sent goosebumps down my spine, and I set it down.
Something bad had happened here.
We met back up in the main room. Stokes was leaning against the wall, the windows over her head, and the pistol held in both hands. The clouds were rapidly approaching, and I knew we were going to run out natural light soon.
He’d found two pistols, who was to say he didn’t find more? And now that you mention it, who the hell was to say that the armory key wasn’t “missing” but rather riding in Cobb’s pocket?
I knelt down and drew the SS dagger from my boot.
“What?” Stokes asked.
“Who put the locks on the armory?” I asked.
“Cobb, but the key is... oh. shit.” Stokes answered.
“Back us up, Stokes.” I handed the knife to Mann, who shook his head. I handed it to Smith, who took it and looked at me.
“What, because I’m black I can stab someone?”
“Fine, give it back.”
“Fuck you, it’s mine now.” I chuckled, and moved over to the door.
“Smith, you and Carter go down and check the armory, then report back. If you’re not back in ten minutes, Stokes, Mann, and I will mount a rescue mission.” I said.
“Be careful, Monkey, Cobb’s a bad motherfucker. He knows Karate.” Mann said. I snorted, remembering the feel of Cobb’s nose smashing against my forehead.
“Cobb’s a punk.” I said. “He’s all fucking talk, just get on him and hurt him. Stokes, Mann, stay here.”
We split up, and I ghosted down the hall. I was good at it, moving silently. Less than 2 years before, during hunting season, I’d gotten close enough to a deer to thump it on the nose. I doubted Cobb would be as sensitive as a deer.
I checked each of the doors, ignoring the moaning. The moaning was of the dead, I was hunting the living. They were all locked, and each one I silently cracked open and moved in silently.
The clouds had come back in, but there was still enough light to see.
Muttering to myself, I headed back down the hallway. Everyone was back.
“Cobb wasn’t down there. The arms room was still locked.” Smith said, offering me back the knife. I took it. “I’m telling you, that cracker is long gone.”
“No, he isn’t. He wants to leave, but he can’t. He’s in here somewhere.” I told them. “He’s got cabin fever. Come on, help me find the attic access.”
It took us about twenty minutes, but we found it in an office. Smith stood on the desk and pushed up the hatch, telling us that if he got killed, his “black ass” was going to haunt us forever.
“Holy fuck.” he whispered.
“What?” I asked.
“The whole attic is full of more of those goddamn boxes.” Smith told us.
Below us, we heard the crashing of boots, and a scream drifted up through the vent.
“Fuck this, he’s not up here. Let’s head back to the CQ area.” I said. Everyone agreed, and we left the hatch open when we headed out.
Downstairs, everyone else had reformed up, but nobody had found Cobb.
“Everyone in the dayroom. We’ll search for him tomorrow. Monkey, you’ve got first watch.” Captain Bishop ordered. I nodded, took the master key and flashlight, and went out to the CQ area.
It would be dark, the storm would cut off most of the moonlight, but my eyes would adjust.
Crazy white man, or dead Nazis. Something was in here with us.
I had the weirdest feeling everything was about to come to an end.