Posted: Tue Mar 20, 2018 3:45 pm
Birrien, France 1942. Eight Months into the German occupation.
In the small farming town of Birrien in north western France, the German's occupation has had little effect other than taking rule of the district from the mayor and the imposition of tithes on the farmer's produce.
Like all across France, the bulk of their produce is commandeered by the Nazi's to feed their armies and navies.
Armand Gosse, the local leader of the resistance cell in the area broke his leg and was unable to meet with a British agent to receive a cipher book for the code phrases the British would broadcast.
Instead he sent Alphonse Dufour the local butcher.
Private Harry “Houdini” Munroe was disliked by his sergeant who selected him to replace a man taking a code book into France.
Their plane was hit and by sheer luck crashed near to where it should have landed. The crew was killed, but harry survived mostly unhurt.
He was stranded in France, unable to speak the language and surrounded by the enemy.
The crash caught the attention of English ex-patriot Thomas D'Veric whose Aunt's farmland adjoined the field in which the plane went down.
Thomas and Alphonse discovered the slightly bewildered but mostly unharmed Harry and hid him away in a cabin in the woods.
The Germans inevitably came to investigate the crash, and searched the local area but found nothing as Harry was very adept at hiding.
After a while Harry was moved to the farmhouse of Madam Flourence D'Veric, Thomas' formidable Aunt. Harry was put to work on the farm where he steadily learnt the basics of the French language.
Thomas was haunted by the ghost of a little girl in a red dress, who seemed to be looking out for him.
Similarly, Harry started getting visions of an elegant German woman who lived in a huge castle-like mansion. He travelled there in his dreams.
Alphonse continued to help the townsfolk as best as he could.
Then, one night, another group of Germans arrived. They were searching for someone. These men were ruthless.
Thomas observed a German on his land acting very strangely.
They were searching for a girl.
Alaina Guerre. She, along with her father had fled Paris.
Her father was injured. The two had stumbled onto the D'Veric farm where they were cared for. The father was too ill to go on.
In D'Veric's attic they made a startling discovery – Alaina appeared to have the ability to stop time.
After some consternation and debate, it was decided that the three unlikely companions would escort the girl to Brest where she was due to meet up with members of the resistance there.
Cautiously the group made their way west, avoiding contact with anyone where possible.
Their route brought them to a quarry where they witnessed several members of their home town who had been 'recruited for work' by the local German commandant in very poor health essentially being worked to death.
Circumventing the quarry they were forced to cross the river that flowed from that place. They found the bloated rotting corpses of many of their countrymen at the bottom.
Appauled they moved on and witnessed a bizarre event. Strange lights in the sky coming from the direction of Birrien.
D'Veric was overwhelmed with a sense of forboding and the group's subconscious was transported back to the village where they saw the Germans round everyone up and machinegun them all.
Horrified, Alphonse led them on through the countryside, his knowledge of the local area being a vital to them avoiding contact.
They came to a rail line and followed it. It passed behind a small boatyard where they were forced into a confrontation but escaped.
They stole a boat further down river and used it to travel the rest of the way to Brest.
After some scouting, they moved into the city and rented rooms in a quiet part of town.
The three discussed what their best course of action should be, and they decided that they should get Alaina smuggled to Britain.
They set about trying to arrange passage out of France, which brought them to the old harbour....