The survivors make an horrific discovery… part four of The Veil.
“There’s no way out?”
Neumann shook his head grimly. They had discovered the wall an hour ago and set off in pairs to track its boundary. “We didn’t find a single opening,” he informed Hauser. “What about you?”
Hauser didn’t answer, there was no need. Impenetrable and invisible, the wall held them trapped with an enemy that had already murdered the rest of their platoon, sparing only the four of them. Now it seemed there was to be no escape.
“It must be between… one and a half to two kilometres around by my estimate, ” Kleffel offered.
Neumann frowned. Kleffel was the only survivor to have seen whatever it was that was hunting them, and the experience had left him almost catatonic. Suddenly he seemed back to normal.
Then Grenadier Lehmann asked nervously: “Did you see… anything…?”
Before anyone could reply there was a rustling in the bushes. The four soldiers instantly drew their weapons.
“Don’t shoot you idiots, it’s me, Kluge,” came a familiar voice.
“Come out – slowly,” ordered Hauser.
Kluge stepped out, showing his hands. “Alright?”
Hauser exhaled heavily and lowered his weapon. It was good to see Kluge, he was an old dog of a soldier and it was no surprise to find that he’d also survived the attack.
“Anyone else with you?”
Kluge shook his head. “So we’re trapped, eh? What are we going to do about that then?”
“We’re here…” they heard Kleffel whispering.
“What’s that?” asked Kluge.
Kleffel simply pointed past the bushes. About a hundred meters away, past where Kluge had been hiding, they could see a grey bunker jutting out of the ground. It lay at a strange angle to the ground, its smooth walls shining peculiarly in the sunlight.
“That’s where it killed Wiesler,” Kleffel said softly. “Near that bunker. It’s all because of that bunker.”
“Let’s get the hell away from here then,” Lehmann pleaded.
Kluge shook his head. “No. We’re trapped anyway. We might as well get a closer look, right Hauser?”
Lehmann and Kleffel shared a nervous look, but Hauser agreed: “Lead the way.”
Following Kluge, they crept through the foliage until they reached the edge of a clearing, at the centre of which sat the silver-grey building.
“We found the bunker yesterday, Wiesler and I,” Kleffel began. “We were looking for Stoetz. There’s something in there. It killed Stoetz, it killed Wiesler, now it’s trying to kill all of us.”
“How do we know Wiesler and Stoetz are dead?” Neumann asked. “We haven’t seen their bodies.”
“Of course they’re dead!” Lehmann scoffed. “Why would he lie?”
“You tell me.”
“Do you know what’s inside there?” Kluge asked Kleffel.
There was a movement at one edge of the bunker. The soldiers flattened themselves to the ground and aimed their weapons.
“Hold your fire,” Kluge ordered.
Something was emerging from the bunker. It slowly placed its feet on the ground, then steadied itself against the outside wall. Finally it stood to full height.
It was a soldier.
“No…” Kleffel gasped.
Quickly the soldier turned in their direction, as if he had heard Kleffel.
“What’s he got on his face?” Lehmann asked.
“Looks like a cloth,” Hauser whispered back, peering closer. Whatever was draped over the soldier’s face was white and had two eyeholes cut out. Hauser tried to persuade himself the effect didn’t suggest a human skull.
Then it started walking towards them, slowly, heavily, as if each step took a supreme act of will.
“Shoot it,” Kleffel hissed, seemingly frozen in terror. “Whatever it is, shoot it!”
“No! It could be one of our men,” Neumann urged. “Look at the uniform. What if he’s wounded?”
Lehmann joined in: “Kleffel’s right, it’s a trick, shoot it, shoot it!”
The soldier lurched closer, his rifle held out but directionless.
“Identify yourself!” Kluge called out.
The soldier stopped, searching around, the weapon now ranging from side to side.
“Identify yourself, now!” Kluge repeated.
The soldier started walking again, closing the distance between them.
“Shoot! Before it’s too late,” Kleffel demanded, with Lehmann joining the chorus.
Kluge aimed his weapon, glanced at Hauser.
A third hole appeared between the eye sockets of the figure’s ghastly mask and it collapsed to the ground.
Hauser waited a moment then scurried out from the bushes. The others followed, crouching low. He reached over to the cloth mask, looked at the others, then pulled it off.
“It’s Wiesler!” Neumann said, horrified.
“You said Wiesler was dead,” Lehmann said flatly, turning to Kleffel.
Kleffel shook his head, confused. “He… it got him, I saw him die… there was nothing I could do…”
Kluge frowned. “What got him?”
“I believed you…” Lehmann started.
“What shadow?” Kluge asked.
Kleffel began to stammer, the fear rising again. “It k-killed Wiesler, then Captain H-haase… maybe all of us…”
“How do we know you didn’t kill Wiesler,” accused Neumann. “And Captain Haase to escape court martial.”
“I didn’t kill anyone!”
“Enough!” Kluge roared.
A shot rang out.
Kleffel stared at Lehmann in shock then fell to the ground, dead. Lehmann lowered his gun.
“Put your weapon down, soldier,” Hauser ordered, aiming his own rifle.
Lehmann knelt down to put the gun on the ground. With horrifying swiftness Wiesler’s corpse sat upright and grabbed the young soldier’s head, twisting until there was a sickening crack.
Kluge instantly switched his weapon to automatic and opened fire, Hauser and Neumann followed suit without hesitation. After a minute both Wiesler and Lehmann’s corpses had been blasted to pieces.
“Wiesler was dead,” Kluge said quietly. “I shot him right in the head.”
Hauser and Neumann just looked at him, the scene beyond both their powers to explain.
Kluge gritted his jaw. “Whatever it was it came from that bunker. So, we’re going to head back to the camp, we’re going find whatever weapons we can, we going to bring back whatever we can carry.
And then we’re going to attack that bunker.”