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A Tale of Dark Shadows
MOONLIGHT OVER VIENNA
Copyright © 2006
Original Title: Dark Shadows Over Vienna
Vienna, Austria, 1943 -- Chill autumn winds sent leaves scattering across the cobbled alleys of wartime Vienna. The stately city's medieval buildings were dark and somber, their only color being blood-like slashes of red that denoted Nazi banners. Sentries in coal-scuttle helmets trod the streets, making sure that Hitler's orders for a Greater Germany were being carried out. Most businesses were closed, either from wartime shortages, or a fear of keeping lights on in case of allied bombers.
Silently, almost like a being brought to life from the black shadows, Quentin Collins passed from a darkened doorway toward a small tavern near the edge of the city. Vienna, for years the crossroads of spying, was keeping its distinction no matter how rigorous the counterintelligence forces of Hitler's Gestapo worked. Quentin Collins, under the assumed name of Quentin Douglas, had enlisted as a special agent for the OSS, his duties being to gather information on scientific experiments performed by the Third Reich.
So far, his work had been well-received. A stint in his old stomping grounds in Egypt had led him to Tunis, where he managed to get some documents before Rommel's men destroyed them. These documents brought him to Vienna, the heart of medicinal research in Europe. The city of Freud, of Mozart, and seat of the Holy Roman Empire was also host to one of the Nazis' most learned scientists, Dr. Reinhardt von Horst. Von Horst, known as the "Kindertodt", or "Death Child", was a prodigy. He had graduated from medical school at twenty, and now, at twenty-two, was given unlimited means to pursue his research.
Quentin had been nosing around in Vienna for three weeks trying to learn about Von Horst's experiments. He had established contact with a Franz Buber, a half-Jewish banker who had been able to duck Nazi clutches. Buber was providing chemicals for the Nazis, his expertise at scavenging keeping him out of a concentration camp. He was sick of Buber, though. The man was unhealthily portly, even during the privations of wartime. Buber had been helpful in establishing that Von Horst was nearby. He was running a facility south of Vienna, near the border of a little postage stamp country called Vasaria. Tonight, Buber was to meet Quentin and give him some more details.
Of course, the risk was tremendous. Quentin, however, being immortal, found normal risks to be mundane. He had outlived his brother Edward, and would probably outlive his favorite nephew Jamison. Quentin had not visited Collinwood in some time. He knew that Jamison had married and sired two children, a boy and a girl. This he learned from a wounded sailor named Sam Evans who was recuperating stateside after being wounded at the battle of the Coral Sea. Sam was working behind a desk, faking documents for the Oss with uncanny talent. Not letting on he was a Collins, Quentin got the idea that Roger Collins, the heir apparent, was growing up to be an arrogant snot, while Elizabeth was following in the footsteps of his late sister Judith. He wasn't missing much.
Quentin shook off the ghosts of the past and threw open the tavern door. Dim light spilled out to meet him, accompanied by the sounds of scratchy oompah music. He half expected to see fat men in lederhosen prancing about with girls wearing twin pigtails. Instead, the crowd was thin, gaunt, and wolfish. Three years of war had turned them into a hard race, lean and suspicious. Their clothes were well worn, in general looking homespun. Most were men, the majority in their fifties and older, and an assortment of women. Quentin pulled the brim of his slouch hat low over his eyes and stepped down the stone stairs, taking the measure of the room. It was an old tavern, with ancient brick supporting naked beams thick as a man that ran in parallel lines across the ceiling. Down a row of booths, Quentin spotted Buber. The gross banker was hunched over a chipped stein. Quentin slid into the worn bench across from Buber. The informant glanced up, a glistening film of perspiration coating his face. He looked like a short Oliver Hardy to Quentin, even down to the little mustache. Checking about for listeners, Quentin quickly got down to business.
"You have the information, Herr Buber?" He demanded in whispered tones.
"Ja," Buber rasped, taking a large quaff from his stein. "The location of Von Horst's laboratory, and the list of chemicals he has been using." As he drank with pudgy hand, Buber slid his other into his coat, producing a folded piece of paper. "Now, ze money I vas promised."
It was Quentin's turn to reach into his coat. He removed a large envelope and sat it on the table. From it, he took a large wad of Reichsmarks. They had been produced by Sam Evans' artistic skills, but Buber didn't have to know that. A gaunt waitress with a single braid and a faded dress came up bearing a tray.
"A drink?" She asked, interest in her eyes when seeing Quentin's handsome features.
"Ein bier, bitte," Quentin replied, hoping his accent held up. The girl smiled and moved off, thin form undulating. Quentin felt no desire, however. He was focussed on his mission. She returned with a foaming stein as Buber discreetly counted his payoff.
"It is all there," he confirmed. "You vill find a map with the list. Now, I must take my leave."
Suddenly, Quentin was aware of a presence at his shoulder. Looming over the table was a man in a black uniform. Quentin was chagrined to see the silver deathshead emblem on the fellow's peaked cap. He was more chagrined to see the Luger P08 automatic pistol in the man's leather gloved first. Behind the man were two individuals in German field gray uniforms, each with a Mauser rifle in the present arms position.
"So, Herr Buber," said the black-clad one in a snarling tone, "who is your drinking companion? We have not been introduced."
"A business associate, Captain Steiner," Buber stammered, sweat now pouring from his plastered hair.
"Conrad Veidt, at your service," Quentin greeted. "Herr Buber and I were just finishing a loan arrangement."
"Perhaps you would like to explain this at Gestapo headquarters," Steiner offered, grinning wolfishly.
"That may not be necessary," Quentin stated, sliding his hand into his envelope. "I may be able to make it worth your while not to take such drastic measures."
"It is against the law to bribe an officer of the Reich," Steiner admonished. "Still, you may attempt it."
Quentin smiled and fished around in the large envelope. Steiner watched, and then got a surprised look on his face when the report of a gun emanated from the envelope. With an uncomprehending gasp, Steiner saw a black, burnt hole had appeared in the envelope. Worse, a dark stain was spreading across the middle of his uniform blouse. Steiner clutched at the wound, then collapsed across the table. With a heave, Quentin shoved him at the two guards. In his left hand was Buber's paper, in his right was a Broomhandle Mauser automatic pistol, which he had placed in the envelope along with the money, on the off chance something might spoil his meeting. The little pistol cracked twice more, sending the startled guards flopping to the floor. Using the confusion, Quentin dashed from the tavern and vanished into a dark alley as police whistles began to sound.
Adrenaline gave Quentin a light-headed rush as he examined the alley. It was a narrow affair, with water lying between the cracked cobblestones. Quentin retreated farther down it, finding a pile of garbage and old boxes to hunch behind. Once hidden, he produced a tiny spring powered flash and cranked it until a thin yellow beam shot forth. Quentin stashed his papers and gun, then took out a minature compass and studied it in the flash's radiance. Orienting himself, he decided to follow the alley and then work his way to the edge of town. After a tortuous journey, Quentin made it to the less dense suburbs.
He found a large tree to crouch beneath and unfolded his prize. He thought of Buber. If the greasy banker did not flee, then he probably would face a firing squad in the morning. Quentin studied the list of chemicals. Some were normal, like sulfur, but others were unusual. One word escaped him. It was an item called Lehm. He didn't know what that meant. He had been prepped to understand the German equivalents of most chemicals, but that one threw him. Not only that, but Von Horst had ordered a ton of it. Whatever it was, Von Horst wanted plenty. Stashing the list, he checked the map. The laboratory was in an old granary a few miles from his present location. He had to find a road called Vasariastrasse. Vasaria was south of Vienna, towards Hungary. Checking his compass, Quentin moved off. The beer was beginning to wear off, and all this walking was making him thirsty.
He worried about patrols, but so far the night was silent. He found the Vasaria road a little past midnight. A gibbous moon aided him. Tomorrow it would be full, Quentin knew. The tug was there, but he knew that his curse was damped by Charles Delaware Tate's magic painting. He wondered where the painting was. Well, it did not matter, as long as it did its job. Skulking in some bushes, Quentin prepared to take the road when he heard voices in German to the south. That meant trouble. He checked his gun. Then, to the north, he heard the creak of a wagon. Quentin waited, and out of the gloom trundled a gypsy wagon, pots clanging on its sides. On the wooden seat guiding the horses was an ancient crone, her face seamed and withered. A gypsy shawl was thrown about her shoulders, and blue eyes cast about suspiciously.
The figure at her side was a study in contrast. Where she was stooped and bent looking, her companion looked healthy and robust. He appeared to be a man in his thirties, wearing a more mundane coat and jacket. His face was wide and his features open, but they were cast in a pall of gloom. Quentin needed some help, though, and this unlikely pair seemed his only solution.
"Excuse me," he said, stepping from the brush as the old woman pulled up on the reins of her horse in surprise, "I wonder if you could help me. I need a ride." His German was adequate, for the woman obviously understood him.
"What did he say?" The large man beside her muttered in English. This shocked Quentin. What was an Englishman doing in the middle of an enemy country?
"I said I needed a ride," Quentin translated. "Could you help a fellow ally?"
"You wish to hide from the Germans," the old woman stated in heavily accented English. "Very well, they are no friends of mine. You will find some clothes in the back of the wagon that used to belong to my son. Put them on."
Grateful, Quentin went into the back of the cramped wagon and found a chest containing some garish gypsy clothing. He was at once reminded of Sandor and Magda, both long dead. Those two gypsies were crooked as the proverbial dog's hind leg, but they had their own honor, and had some compassion in their theiving breasts. Donning a shirt with a flaring collar, he threw a scarlet sash about his waist and shrugged into a heavily brocaded vest. Replacing his broad hat with a black bandana, his disguise was complete. Tucking his pistol into his sash, Quentin eased forward to converse with his new companions.
"I appreciate your trouble," he said.
"We are all likely to be arrested," the gypsy woman hissed. "The Nazis hate gypsies. They have put many in concentration camps. We shall see."
"I have a gun, if need be," Quentin offered. "My name is Quentin Douglas."
"I am Maleeva. This is my companion Larry Talbot."
They were now approaching the patrol, which consisted of two Germans in fatigues and forage caps. Each carried a Mauser rifle. Quentin ducked into the shadows of the wagon's back. With a bit of luck, perhaps he and his unlikely companions would get by.
"Halt!" came the shouted German command. With creaks and groans the wagon came to a stop. "Your papers please,' the voice continued.
Maleeva said something in Romany, which Quentin had heard Sandor and Magda use. She was apparently trying to convey that she spoke no German, hoping the Nazis would think her harmless.
"She is some sort of gypsy trash," one soldier said to the other. "She speaks no German apparently. They both belong in a camp."
"It costs the Reich a lot of money to transport trash to a camp, Metz," the other observed. " Let's just shoot them and inventory their belongings."
Quentin decided to try another bluff. After all, it saved ammunition. Coming forward, he climbed between Maleeva and Larry. The Germans brought their rifles up and pointed both at him.
"Do not fear, noble soldiers of the Reich!" He called in what he hoped sounded like the flamboyant pattern of gypsy speech. "We are certainly not worth the cost of bullets to shoot us. Permit me to introduce myself. I am Sandor Rakosi."
At the sound of that name, Maleeva seemed to freeze and her eyes stared wildly at Quentin. Undeterred, Quentin continued. "This is my mother, Maleeva, and my mute brother Eduardo. We have been entertaining the glorious armies of the Reich with our many skills."
"Then show us one," the first to speak, Metz, snapped.
Quentin was stuck that time. He didn't have one trick up his sleeve.
"I will tell your fortune," Maleeva offered, her face once more inscrutable.
"No tricks," Metz pointed out. "We will shoot your son down."
"I have lost one son," Maleeva stated as she reached back into the wagon. "I have no wish to lose any more.."
She produced a crystal ball on a square of black velvet. Muttering in Romany, she passed one hand over it. She gazed up at Metz.
"You will do. I see in the crystal that you are a man who has come far in this war, a hero."
"That's right," Metz agreed. "I killed seven Russians."
"In their sleep, no doubt," his companion snorted.
"Your reward was an assignment here," the gypsy continued.
"That's also true!" Metz gasped in amazement. "She does know how to tell a fortune. What is my future, then, witch?"
Maleeva put both hands under the orb and stared into it fixedly, her eyes growing larger and larger. Then, with a shriek, she held the crystal high above her head.
"What?" demanded Metz. By now, both he and his partner were enraptured. "What is my future?"
"Death!" screamed Maleeva, hurling the crystal ball at the stunned Metz. It crashed into his forage cap and sent him reeling.
This was all Quentin needed. Metz's companion was slow to return his gaze to Quentin, who launched himself from the wagon and brought down the German in a flying tackle. Wrenching the Mauser from the startled Nazi, Quentin brought its butt down on the soldier's skull with a heavy thud. The man stopped any further activity. Metz, however, had regained himself and was pointing his weapon at Quentin's unprotected back.
"No!" Larry Talbot shouted. He began to climb off the wagon.
"Ein Amerikaner!" Metz snarled. He turned his rifle toward Larry and fired point blank into Larry's chest. Quentin had no choice but to whip out his pistol and splatter Metz' brains all over the Vasariastrasse. He then ran over to Larry, who was hunched over by the roadside in pain.
"Are you okay?" Quentin demanded. He could see smoke curling from Larry's shirt. The point-blank shot should have blown a huge hole through the man. Quentin saw where the flame had burned the shirt, but he saw only an angry red scar where the bullet had penetrated. To his amazement, even that faded to pink and then disappeared altogether.
"What are you, a vampire?" Quentin knew that his cousin Barnabas was similarly immune to normal weapons.
"Just as bad," Larry Talbot admitted. "I'm cursed with a curse that is too horrible to have to live with. The funny thing is, I can't die. You see, every time the moon is full, I turn into a werewolf. I've even had my brains bashed in with a silver-headed cane. It just doesn't work. I was put in a coffin full of wolfsbane, but that only kept me sort of frozen until some graverobbers opened up the coffin and brought me out of it. Since then, I've been trying to find a cure for my curse. I ran into Maleeva, here. It was her son who bit me when he was a werewolf, and turned me into this monster. I've got the blood of lots of innocent people on my hands. You can't know what that's like."
Quentin's heart went out to the fellow, who seemed rather unprepossessing. "Yes, I do understand about having the blood of innocents on my hands. I understand only too well. Is that why you are here, looking for a cure?"
"Yes, that's right." Larry continued.
"We will find nothing but death if we do not hide these bodies and move along," Maleeva interrupted. "Someone is bound to have heard those shots."
"She's right, agreed Quentin. "Larry, let's drag them into the bushes over there."
This they did. Quentin appropriated their Mausers and bayonets and tossed them into the wagon. Larry was kicking dirt over the bloodstains while Quentin retrieved Maleeva's crystal ball and handed it up to her. The velvet had kept it from being scratched, and by some miracle it had not shattered against Metz' skull. The old gypsy was lucky they were wearing forage caps and not steel helmets.
"So you knew Sandor Rakosi," Maleeva commented as she put away the orb. "I thought him long dead. He was about my age."
"He lived at my family's estate for a while," Quentin explained. "And yes, he is dead. So is Jenny Rakosi, if you knew her. I don't know what happened to Magda."
"Hmph! You knew them all. A devilish lot. They would cheat and steal you blind."
"Were you friends with them?"
"Sandor was my cousin. I heard that they had become involved with Count Petofi."
Quentin started at the sound of that evil name. "Petofi is dead, also. Burned alive, and that was too good for him."
"You speak as if you were there. I was told Petofi died nearly fifty years ago. You look barely thirty."
"I was heard of it from an eyewitness."
Maleeva gave him a strange look. "I see. Well, Larry is done. Let us be off."
Larry and Quentin mounted the wagon once more and they continued on. After a few miles, the sky began to pale with the first glimmer of dawn.
"I must take my leave, I think, " Quentin decided. "I cannot be seen by daylight, and my objective is nearby. I appreciate the help you have given me."
"We do not wish to travel by day either," Maleeva pointed out. "We are as undesirable as you are. I think we will camp in this nearby woods. You are welcome to join us. I would like to hear more of Sandor and Magda."
"Agreed," said Quentin. Maleeva urged her horse to head for a thick clump of trees that looked substantial enough to hide their wagon from prying eyes. "How do you hope to cure Larry of his curse?" Quentin's curiousity had selfish motivations as well. If a permanent cure was available, it was preferable to depending on a fragile painting, especially one that was hard to keep track of.
"We have learned that descendants of the Frankenstein family live in Vasaria," Larry explained. "The original Victor Frankenstein was reputed to have constructed a being from the parts of the dead and brought it to life. It was said that he had a book called `The Secrets of Life and Death'. If I cannot find a cure, perhaps I can find death. I find the idea of living forever to be horrible."
He obviously hasn't had time to get used to the idea, Quentin thought. Well, to each their own. The trio found a clearing in the woods and set up camp. Larry and Quentin took turns keeping watch while the other slept. Maleeva cared for the horse and cooked a simple yet tasty meal. Quentin was happy for the relative quiet of the woods and managed to fall asleep quickly. Perhaps things were looking up. If only he could do something for Larry. That business about beings made from dead parts was just a story. It sounded farfetched, but Quentin was loathe to dismiss anything, especially considering what he had been through.
At sunset, they gathered up their belongings, and Quentin once more changed into his old clothing. Maleeva directed the wagon back on to the road. After a couple of miles, Quentin saw the old mill he had been looking for.
"Well, this is where I part company for good," he said. "I need to find out what the Nazis are up to at that mill. Thanks again for your hospitality. Larry, I hope you find peace."
"So do I," Larry agreed. "Now, we've got to go. The moon will be full tonight and I need to be in the middle of nowhere when that happens. Good luck."
Quentin eased out the wagon's back and waved goodbye as Maleeva urged her horse onward. Soon, he was lost in the gloom. Maleeva reached back and retrieved her crystal ball. She gazed into it for a time, the shook her head.
"He has a past much like yours,' she muttered to Larry. "You two are alike. I think you had better follow him."
"But Maleeva," Larry protested. "You know what is going to happen in an hour or so."
"Exactly," the withered crone snapped.
Darkness enveloped Quentin as he crept up to the old mill. A few guards patrolled the perimeter, but by and large the place seemed deserted. The mill was a large stone structure, a black rectangle against the stars. Few lights shown in its streaked windows. Quentin inched forward, his automatic ready, until he was beneath one of the lit windows. Carefully peering inside, Quentin saw a large room set up as some sort of laboratory. Instruments and containers were strewn everywhere, and books were piled up or left open. Dominating the center of the room was what appeared to be an operating table, complete with straps and a rolling cart for equipment. The table was empty. Quentin could only shudder at the implications. What was Von Horst up to?
His musings were aprubtly ended as two hands that felt like steel clamps gripped his shoulders and spun him around. He was lifted off his feet by one mallet-like fist and found himself staring into a vision from a nightmare. It appeared as if a statue had come to life, complete with humanlike features. There were eyes, but they appeared sightless. It was only an appearance, though, as the dim, stone-like creature used his other fist to slam Quentin into unconciousness.
Quentin awoke to the sensation of straps biting into his arms and legs. He opened his eyes and saw a ceiling made of rough-hewn beams festooned with cobwebs. Harsh unshaded bulbs in truncated, conical fixtures hung about the beams. Quentin turned his head and found pain arcing along his skull. Whatever that thing was, it hit like a ton of bricks. To his horror, he found that he was in the very room he had spied upon, and was strapped down to the operating table. Strange, pungent smells wafted to his nostrils. As he drank in his surroundings, a door creaked open.
In stepped Dr. Reinhardt von Horst.
Quentin recognized him immediately from his photographs. Tall and spindly like an animated Punchinella, the Death Child moved with an insectoid grace. His hair was long and blond, hanging in unruly ribbons about his angular face. Watery blue eyes flanked a sharp wedge of nose that jutted over thin, cruel lips. An ill-fitting lab coat hung over his elongated frame, and whitish spidery hands appeared at his cuffs. He approached Quentin with the air of a man who has discovered a twenty dollar bill lying on the pavement.
"Well, my snooping friend, you awaken," von Horst sneered in a thin, reedy voice. "I suppose you are some sort of Allied spy or saboteur."
"You'll get nothing from me," Quentin promised.
"Oh, I don't want anything from you in the way of information," von Horst continued. "Whatever you know is probably hardly worth discussing anyway. You sound like an American by your accent, even though your German is very good. I suppose you are the person responsible for the death of two SS men and their commander in Vienna, as well as two Wehrmacht soldiers on patrol not many miles from here. You see, you need tell me very little, since I can determine your career quite well. A search of your person revealed some nicely counterfeited Reichsmarks, a Mauser machine pistol, a list of chemicals that have been brought to my facility here, and a map of the area. So, what am I to conclude, hein? You have bought information about myself, and have been willing to kill to get to me. You were very, very clever, but you did not count on the results of my work here."
"That thing? That is what you are working on here?"
"Well, Willi is the first. I hope to produce an army of them, but the ingredients are difficult to procure. Especially the exact type of clay. I have had to import most of it from Slovakia and handle it with special gloves."
Quentin picked up the word Lehm, which von Horst had used to mean clay. What sort of clay could produce living statues?
"Of course, it is not just radioactive clay," von Horst elaborated. "There are also all the accursed Jewish rituals involved. How my brain aches to go over them, then press the Hebraic symbols into Willi's forehead."
Quentin peered around again, casting for some item that would win him freedom. As he did, he saw outside a window above a fire hose that the moon was coming up. It was big and full, shining like a whitish disk against the streaked glass. Then, to Quentin's consternation, a humped shape passed before the moon. As he watched, the glass window burst in as a figure dressed much as Larry Talbot had been leaped into the room amid a cascade of glass and wood fragments. A low growl bouched against the stone walls as Quentin realized that while it was indeed Larry Talbot, it was not the same Larry that Quentin had parted from earlier. Shaggy coarse hair covered the creature's face and hands. Quentin recognized the fang-mouthed bestial face as being not unlike his own when he had seen his changed form in a pool of water. Larry's hands were now tipped with jagged claws. It was a werewolf that had crashed Von Horst's party, not a human.
"Gott im Himmel!" Von Horst shrieked, clawing for a Luger that was hidden beneath his lab coat. "Willi! Get that thing! Take it alive. Such a specimen should also serve the Reich!"
The huge golem shambled to obey. Adroitly, the wolfman dodged the outstretched arms and dove for Quentin's table.
"Larry!" Quentin snapped. "Get these straps off me! Do you understand?"
Snarling, the werewolf seemed to grasp Quentin's instructions, and slashed apart the straps with razor-sharp claws. Quentin barely managed to roll off the table as Willi's vast bulk smashed down, turning the steel frame into a twisted wreck. Lab instruments flew in a deadly vortex as beast and golem plunged and careened around the room. Larry climbed on Willi's broad back, but could find no place for his claws to inflict damage. Finally, as a bear dislodges hunting dogs, Willi rolled his massive shoulders and plucked Larry from his back with a gallon-sized fist. Von Horst covered Quentin before the latter could jump him. Quentin backed away to stand beneath the broken window. A glance told him that it was too high to jump, even if he could balance himself on the fire hose and its mechanism.
"Too bad," Von Horst chortled. "Both you and your hirsute acquaintance are now trapped. How interesting and how nice of you to bring me a live werewolf. If the curse is true, then I should be able to have him bite some loyal soldiers of the Reich and turn them into an army of invincible creatures that will sweep the Allies from Europe. Beasts and men of clay will free the Reich to be able to pursue its destiny. What do you think of that, Herr -- what is your name?"
"Max Schreck," Quentin fibbed. He mulled over Von Horst's diatribe. How do you defeat a man of clay. He can't be shot or burned. Maybe a direct hit from a cannon might destroy him, but Quentin did not have one available. He looked again at the firehose. He remembered the old expression about men of iron with feet of clay. Would it work?
"Very good, Von Horst," Quentin admitted. "Your man might be invincible, but you aren't. If Larry breaks free, can your creature stop him?"
"I don't think that will happen, Herr Schreck, if that is your name, and I think you lie. First, I will have him locked in a cell nearby, then I will put you somewhere so that I can study you later. Willi!" He called to the golem. "Take the beast to one pen and take this man to another."
The golem moved to obey, momentarily blocking Von Horst's line of sight. Quentin used the opportunity to unsnap the fire hose and give its wheel a hard crank. Water gushed out of the hose's brass nozzle in a torrent that covered the golem's lower torso. Quentin aimed the jet of water at the golem's feet and saw with satisfaction that the rock-like legs and feet were beginning to dissolve. Von Horst tried to snap off a shot, but it ricocheted off Willi's still solid ribcage. Willi swiped at Quentin, but he ducked and shot the clay creation full in its face with his powerful stream.
The golem tried to recover, but its feet were crumbling to muddy lumps. It swayed, tried to regain its balance, and then fell backward. Von Horst dived out of its way and Willi came crashing down, smashing into various fragments as it hit the stone floor of the mill. Quentin heard a gust of banging at the laboratory door and guessed that the guards had heard the commotion. Hastily, he put a chair under the doorknob and then turned to Von Horst. The Nazi scientist had backed into a corner, his Luger covering Larry, who was recovering from his fall with Willi. Shaking off fragments of clay, the werewolf sprang to his feet and snarled at Von Horst. Quentin used this distraction to set the twisted operating table against the wall under the broken window.
"Back, you devil, back!" Von Horst screamed. "I'll shoot!"
"I guess I'll leave you two alone," Quentin commented as he vaulted up the bent legs of the table to catch the window ledge. With an easy swing, he was outside and running. Behind him he heard a fusilade of shots, then nothing until he heard some horrible shrieks that sounded like Von Horst. Quentin did not stop or look back but continued to run until his lungs were ready to burst. Stopping to catch his breath, he looked up again at the bloated moon, hanging benignly in space.
Somewhere beneath that same moon, mothers were putting their children to bed and lovers were embracing. Somewhere people went about perfectly normal lives. Here, however, in the midst of a war-torn land, beneath the orb of night stalked death. It shown upon the dead and the dying, the killer and his prey. Quentin's heart went out to Larry Talbot, his fellow traveller under the curse of the wolf. He hoped Larry found the death he was searching for. For Quentin, the search was for peace, something his restless soul had long denied him. For now, his thoughts were of escape. To the west was the Adriatic coast, where he could find sympathetic fishermen who might be willing to get him out and over to Italy, where American forces were pushing up the boot in their fight for freedom.
He gave a glance back toward the mill, and with a final salute, plunged into the dark shadows and towards home.