“In the canteen. All safe here.”
“Observatory. All safe here.”
Silversmith grinned in anticipation. Any minute now…
The duty officer paused in his roll call, and when he spoke again his urgent tone was replaced by something closer to panic. “Henkel?
Silversmith relished a vision of Henkel jerking like a landed trout as he tried to get at the intercom.
“Henkel? Henkel, answer immediately!”
The thought of the ruckus at Peenemünde control made Silversmith laugh again.
The intercom fell silent, which meant the duty officer had gathered the other two Luftwaffe crewmen together and they were on their way to the communications pod with at least a couple of SS browbeating them onward. They would have to open four emergency doors before they got to him, which would take at least ten minutes. Somebody could shut off the broadcast stations on the ground, but Silversmith doubted that anyone would take responsibility for switching off the Führer’s favourite program until several people had demanded what the hell was going on from people who wouldn’t have a clue. A few minutes were all he needed to show the Reich the cost of its dominion in the stars.
He changed the film for one of a man undergoing slow decompression. He pulled himself back to the door to retrieve his bag, as much to get away from the images as because he needed his bottles to hand.
Laughter took him again as he loaded another film. Even if they turned off the broadcast in the Reich, the ring of relay satellites would continue broadcasting across the entire world, in America, China, India, the Japanese empire. Some of the images were bound to find their way to the partisans in Arabia and Russia. And to Argus. Silversmith wished he’d see what he was starting. Or whether he was starting anything at all. He pushed that thought away. He’d never been more than a small cog in the mechanism of resistance, and it wasn’t the lot of a cog to know what direction the machine was moving in. He could only change the film and abandon himself to a vision of the Reich crumbling beneath the rage of its own citizens. If only…
A door slid open. A pair of black jumpsuits hurtled into the pod. He recognised their electric truncheons from the films.
Pity it didn’t last a bit longer. He smashed the thiocyanate bottle against a bulkhead and followed it with the hydrochloric acid. There should be a good cloud of cyanide gas around him in time to welcome the two SS officers. The fumes began to burn his throat.
“Welcome to the party, boys.”
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Cover by Manda Benson