Pairings/Characters (this chapter): Robert Hogan, Hilda Schindler, Unnamed Contact, Girl, Boyfriend, and Soldier, Johann Schingelheimer, Marcus Kringle
Fandom: Hogan’s Heroes
Genres: Angst, Drama, Mystery
Rating (this chapter): PG-13
Warnings: Major character deaths; Descriptions of strangulations
Summary: Hogan and his men encounter the Hammelburg Strangler.
Chapter Summary: The Hammelburg Strangler strikes again.
Date Of Completion: January 6, 2015
Date Of Posting: January 28, 2016
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, Paramount does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1065
Feedback welcome and appreciated. Author’s Notes: This one took me awhile as I hit a major logjam so it lay untouched in my notebook for 11 months until the Muses cooperated. Please heed the warnings!
All chapters can be found here.
January 16, 1943
Hilda’s Hofbrau was noisy and crowded. Hogan threaded his way through the tables and dancing couples. He glanced around and wondered who his contact was in this madhouse.
He sat at a table close to the kitchen, affording him a view of the entire room. He smiled at Hilda, and she lifted a beer mug. He nodded and she brought a brimming mug over.
“Danke.” Hogan sipped his beer as Hilda went off to take a new order. He rubbed his eyes and wished he was back in camp. He was tired, tired of missions, of the war, of losing lovely young women to stone-cold killers.
He rested his chin on his hand. He had been depressed since Helga’s death. Her replacement was a nice girl, but he missed Helga.
Somehow the irony of people getting killed by a crazy strangler in the middle of a war doesn’t escape me.
He sighed. He could feel a headache starting. Hopefully this contact would approach him soon and he could go back to camp, curl up in his bunk and get some sleep. Until contact was made, he would nurse his beer. People-watching was a valuable thing to do in his line of work. The better you could read people, the better for your work as a spy.
Most of the tables were occupied by young couples but other tables contained small groups of soldiers on leave, middle-aged married couples, and even a family: mother, father, and two grown daughters enjoying an evening out.
He wondered how many people were fervent Nazis. Not even soldiers were automatic Party members. Did some of these people hate Nazism, but were keeping their heads down to stay out of trouble? Or did some of them like the pomp and circumstance and the military victories, not true believers but willing to reap the benefits? How many were Underground agents? He didn’t know everyone in the network. It was safer that way in event of capture.
The door opened and a man entered, letting in a wave of cold air. The man quickly closed it and got his bearings as he looked around. Unremarkable in appearance (perfect for an agent), he was dressed like any other middle-class citizen of Hammelburg: good, solid winter coat, a fairly new homburg, and a suit that was beginning to enter the category of ‘seen better days’, but of course new clothing was hard to come by these days.
The man patted his brown hair and wended his way through the crowd. He casually approached Hogan’s table and asked, “It is very cold tonight. Might be snow.”
“Ja, I can feel it in my bones.”
The other man smiled slightly and sat down. “The codes are getting craftier.”
“Or we’re getting punchier.”
The contact laughed, understanding the sentiment if not the collaquialism. He ordered a beer and laid his coat on an empty chair, sliding a folded piece of paper over to Hogan, who quickly put his beer on top of it as Hilda approached.
“Your beer, sir.”
Hilda did not bother to correct him on the salutation. Instead she smiled and returned to the bar.
“The information is sound,” muttered the contact.
“Good.” Hogan sipped his beer.
His companion drained his mug and said, “Danke for a pleasant chat, friend.”
Hogan nodded. He watched his contact leave and causally scanned the crowd. No one seemed interested in the agent’s departure or himself. Hogan relaxed slightly. He ordered another beer, nursed it for fifteen minutes, and then slowly finished it.
The jukebox was playing a cheerful tune and nearly covered the argument at the next table. A young blond woman stood up and said through gritted teeth, “Enough with your jealousy, Heinrich. Ach, such a dummkopf!” She grabbed her coat off the back of the chair and stormed out, leaving her annoyed boyfriend to finish his beer alone.
Hogan paid his bill and went outside, turning up the collar of his coat. It would be a half hour’s walk to camp but the exercise would do him good.
The German girl was several yards away, her anger giving her the energy to set a good pace. It was a nice, clear night with twinkling stars. Hogan began the turn toward camp when he heard a muffled scream. He whirled and saw no girl.
“Hey!” he shouted, running toward the last place he had seen her. “Fraulein, you all right?”
A sobbing blond burst out of the woods, massaging her throat. “He tried to kill me!”
Hogan grabbed her by the shoulders. “Which way did he go?”
Hogan followed her trembling finger as she pointed. Whoever the killer was, he was fast. Hogan could find no trace of him as he went into the woods.
He stumbled and saw something glint in the moonlight. He bent down and picked it up with his handkerchief.
It looked expensive. He slowly went back to the main road, too late realizing that people from The Hofbrau had spilled out after hearing the girl’s screams. A soldier hurried over to Hogan.
“What have you got?”
“Possibly a clue.”
“Detective Kringle is on his way.”
Hogan recognized the name. Underground! “Is the girl all right?”
The blond soldier nodded. “She was lucky.”
“Aren’t we all?”
The police arrived in record time, their car parking in front of the tavern. Two men got out, and Hogan remembered that they had a second man on the force. The younger man interviewed the girl while his partner talked to Hogan.
“Thanks, this watch is our first break.”
“Yeah, I had a hard time seeing anything out there. Out in the woods I felt like Goldilocks trying to find Papa Bear’s house.”
Marcus lifted an eyebrow. “Danke for your statement, Herr Stromberg.” He glanced back at the crowd. “You may go, sir.”
Hogan nodded. He managed to disappear in the woods before anyone declared him a hero.
As he walked, he thought of the watch. It was good quality, and not something that a middle-class man could afford. That might give the detectives something to work with in this investigation.
Too late for Helga, but at least other women like this one tonight might be safe.
He hurried toward the safety of Stalag 13.