“Nor the Years Condemn” – An Historical Fiction by Justin Sheedy (continued…)
April 1943, South-East England
In the Hornchurch dispersal hut, table tennis was the game. The gen said pilots back in the Battle of Britain had played between scrambles – not only good for the reflexes but an escape from the dreadful tension of waiting. Quinn fingered the graffiti scratched into the table, surely enough, J.J. 1940.
‘F-fancy a game then?’
It was here, soon after his return to Hornchurch, that Quinn met Stephen Maddox.
‘Not against the reigning champion, no bloody thank you,’ Quinn smiled, and put out his hand. ‘Daniel Quinn.’
For Quinn, it was a delight to talk with an Australian again. Maddox was twenty, a Flying Officer from Dulwich Hill in Sydney. As tall as he was thin, his eyes lifted only fleetingly to meet anyone else’s, the forward lean in which his frame seemed set causing him to brush a cowlick of black hair from his eyes almost constantly.
Quinn had already perused Maddox’s personal file: He’d attended Newington College on an academic scholarship, where, with no previous experience, he’d captained the Rifle Team. After graduating Dux, he’d been in First Year at Sydney Uni when his parents gave him permission to join up.
‘How would you like to fly wingman for me, Stephen?’
‘Be a privilege.’
Quinn sensed commotion down the end of the room, a few pilots on standby huddling around the hut’s radio-phonograph: ‘Shut up, shut up,’ insisted one.
‘What’s up?’ Quinn angled towards them.
‘Shut UP,’ pleaded the young pilot, the only sound now the vacuum valve hum of the speakers increasing in volume…
This is the BBC Home Service… Here is the news… In the House of Commons today, the Foreign Secretary, Mister Anthony Eden, has told the House about mass executions of Jews by Germans in occupied Europe…
As the voice continued, Quinn’s mind flashed to Mister Reiser. His friend. The graceful old man with his thoughtful religion.
Then another face came to him. Eyes so coldly empty of humanity. Yet so maniacally certain. And with a life-long ambition.
‘Jesus… It’s happening…’
According to the newsreader, the Nazis were carrying out Hitler’s plan all across Europe. Exterminating old men. Young men. Women. Children. At this very moment…
‘Bar-barians,’ exclaimed one of the huddle.
As the BBC voice moved on to the next item of news, Quinn peered back at Stephen Maddox. Maddox held his stare, finally speaking.
‘F-funny where History p-places you, isn’t it…’
‘I hear you’ve got good eyes.’
‘Just b-born lucky, I s’pose.’
‘Looks like we’ve been handed a singular use for them, Stephen.’
* * *
To read more of Nor the Years Condemn (INTO ACTION), click HERE