The Colonel his wife and two sons Timothy and William loaded into the car destined to Fort Withers.
“Dad it’s not fair we have to move now.”
“Anything for the Commander In Chief, if he says move, we move.”
“What William means to say, is that it’s not fair we have to move during the school year. We’ve never moved during school before.”
“Timothy, you and William are second to my career. I have to go where the President sends me. Moving during this fall break is a good thing. You two won’t miss any school days.” The Colonel had been reassigned to Fort Withers to plan for the reopening of the base. Due to country’s deficit the Defense Department had to shut down the base for the last twenty years. With recent terrorist threats and bombings of across the nation the President wants to reopen it.
The Colonel drove all Sunday up and down the winding hills of the north. The hills were decoupage with tree full of fall foliage. The Colonel reached the installation gate at almost midnight. The gate was made of iron with concertina wire on top attached to a fence that went around the post. The guard shacks were damaged boarded up structures. The ostentatious guard sauntered up to the car while the two other guards walked as though they were possessed back and forth the entrance to the post. On leashes were German Sheppard dogs with muzzles on them, yet somehow they still managed to growl at the car.
“Good evening, I’m Colonel Abbot.” He handed the guard his military identification card.
“You’re the advanced party?”
“Welcome Colonel, I’m with Stronghold Security Forces. The post is still vacant. When do you expect the troops to arrive?”
“Well, since most of the houses and structures on the base were built during WWII. It’s going to take awhile to get things up to date.”
“I’ve taken the liberty of procuring the key to your residence.”
“Thank you, but no need for such formality when addressing me.”
“Granted, but to not speak in such matter would undermine my demure. You will notice many of the windows of the structures and residences on the base are bordered up. The only new facilities on the here are the museum, commissary and gas station. Those facilities are regularly frequented by the retirees from the neighboring community. Words of wisdom Sir, keep your boys home so no one gets hurt.”
The following afternoon, Timothy thirteen joked with his younger brother William that their newly renovated house was haunted. William, only ten, was a little skeptic of the historic two story colonial style house that was to be their new home. While the boys were busy upstairs unpacking there was a thumping sound coming from the attic.
“Timothy did you hear that?”
“Yeah, it’s squirrels running across the roof.”
“Ok then believe the other story. It’s an old civil war ghost, boo-hoo-hoo!” Timothy taunted. The boys began to throw boxes at one another. Bam! One of the boxes dropped from upstairs walkway to the downstairs entry.
“You broke something.”
“Did not! It was your fault Timothy.”
“Boys what’s broken?” asked the mother.
“Uh, I’m not sure. William did it.”
“That’s not what I asked. Can you please see what’s broken?” The boy’s mother was kind and gentle. She loved her boys dearly. She understood that boys would break things, fight and get into trouble.
“Noooo! You go”
“I’m not going down there by myself.”
“Man, that’s not cool. Come on Timothy! Come with me!”
“Fine twerp!” Timothy was the first to walk down the stairs. William stayed close behind. At the bottom the boys noticed the floating smoke filled bubble the size of a basketball. The boys stood still. The orb first moved towards Timothy. Then it moved in front of William.
“Ahhhh, ahhh…” stuttered William.
“Mom! Mom, come here!” shouted Timothy. The orb continued to float between both boys. Their mother made her way towards them. Then the orb just vanished into thin air.
“There was a ghost right here.” Timothy pointed.
“There’s no such thing as ghost.”
“Yes mom! I saw it too. It floated here. First it went to Timothy and then in front of me.”
“Boys, I understand this old house can be ominous. The empty post can seem eerie too, but the house is not haunted. I think you two just need some fresh air. Timothy why don’t you take your brother to the museum? The walk could do you both some good. I hear they have lots of new displays.”
Timothy and William nodded in agreement.
“Here’s five dollars so you can get a drink. Your father will be home by five so be back by then.”
“Yes mom.” Timothy said.
“William, obey your brother.”
“Yes mom.” He kissed her on the cheek.
Both of the boys were still a little shook up. “Timothy do you think it was a ghost?”
“Na, mom’s right. The house is not haunted, just old.”
“But what’d you think we saw?”
“It probably was just some smoke.”
“But there wasn’t anything burning.”
“Maybe it was just smoke from the box hitting the closet door.”
“Yeah, maybe” The boys continued to walk across the base towards the military museum. The shrubbery was unmanaged. Sidewalks were cracked. The streets were crumbled. The sky was getting dark with storm clouds. The winds were kicking up. The fall leaves were blowing around. They were crunching under the footsteps of the boys. Kkk-iii-ccc-bbb-aaa! A loud thrash of thunder went off.
“Come on Willie! We need to cut through the cemetery before the storm hits.”
“I want to go around.”
“By the sound of things we don’t have time to.” Timothy grabbed the arm of William’s sweatshirt and led him into small Civil War cemetery behind the museum. Rain drops began to sprinkle. The boys jogged the rest of the way into the museum. At the front desk sat an oversized older man. His hair was in a long braid down his back with a feather on the end. He wore a white cowboy shirt with a skull and cross bones bolero tie with a black leather vest embellished with many army unit patches sewn on it.
“Sign in here” grumbled the old man.
“Uh-um, Sir I forgot my new address.”
“Put your old one.”
Timothy wrote down: 101 North Main Street Fort Riley, Kansas. He sat the pen down. William was distracted looking at an Indian medicine stick leaning on the desk. He was just about to touch the eagle feather when the man glared down upon him. The man guffawed so hard his belly shook with mirth. “Haa-haa-haa! You’ve boys are in for a real treat. You’re not in Kansas anymore. Haaa-haaa-haaa!”
Timothy grabbed William’s sleeve pulling him towards the exhibits.
“What’s wrong with that dude?”
“Shh, just ignore him. He’s probably some old war veteran that likes to scare kids.”
The museum was dark. The exhibits were of the military infantry units from the Civil War to the invasion of Iraq. BBBAAAMMM!!! Lighting struck again. Then the rains began to pelt the roof.
“I want to go home.”
“We can’t now. We have to wait till the storms gone. Let’s check out all the stuff.” The boys were soon were distracted looking at the displays. The boys glanced through the Civil War and WWI exhibits. Then a case caught the boy’s attention. They noticed weapons used in their video games. This weapon case had a MG42, MP40 and the Luger PO8. While William stood there gazing upon the weapons Timothy heard what sounded like the whispering of a Gregorian chant coming from the floor. He didn’t want to scare his brother more than he already was, so he led him towards another case.
“Look at that hat. It looks like dad’s hat but it has the skull and cross bones.”
“Yeah, it’s a Nazi. Creepy, huh?”
“There is a lot of Nazi stuff here. I feel like we’re in a Nazi museum instead of Armor museum.”
“Come on Willie, let’s go look at the vehicles.”
The two boys were getting inside the helicopters, jeeps, humvee, ambulance and armored personnel carrier. Suddenly, there was a loud crash. This time it sounded like a bomb went off. The boys were shook so hard that William fell and hit his head. It started to bleed. The lights went out in the entire building. The reflectors inside the Personnel Carrier lit the cabin up enough so the boys could still see. “Are you ok?”
He shook his head in agreement. “I can hear people talking. I thought us and the Indian guy were the only ones here.”
“Shhh…” Timothy searched around the vehicle. He saw a two feet by four feet footlocker. He leaned over to whisper to William. “I’m going to put you in this footlocker. You’ll be safe in here. Just hold your sweatshirt on your head to stop the bleeding.”
“I’m not sure, but until I find out, you need to stay safe. I’ll come back. I promise.”
William nodded his head in agreement. He got inside the footlocker. Timothy locked it and put the key in his hand. That’s when the smoke bombs went off. Then the men began to holler.
“We know you are in here! We’ll find you!”
Timothy slid out of the bottom hatch and quietly locked it back. Then he low crawled to the next vehicle. The men popped smoke. Timothy had never been in a gas chamber before, but he knew without a mask he would not be able to breathe. He began to cough. His airways tightened. The mucus from his nose began to run down his face. It felt as liquid pepper was running down mouth and throat. He wanted to vomit. His eyes and skin was burning. He began to gag along with coughing.
“Found him! He’s here!” A tall muscular man with a gas mask on pulled Timothy out from under the vehicle with the neck of his shirt.
“I think this boy will do.” The group of masked men began to laugh. Timothy tried to fight off the men. He was swinging his arms and kicking. One of the men punched him so hard in the gut he vomited. They began to drag his almost lifeless body down a set of hidden stairs. There was a wax statue of Hitler with the Nazi flag in the front of the room. There were some chairs. Most frightening was a large bronze bull in the center of the room with firewood underneath it. Timothy had learned about the brazen bull from the Pergamon Alter. It was a torture device used for executions in ancient Greece. Now, Timothy was being locked inside. He managed to keep the key to the footlocker hidden in his fingers. He hands were bound. His head was forced into the head of the bull. The CS gas was still affecting him so he could not smell. He was shaking with fear.
The blackout affected the entire base. All the buildings, traffic lights and street lamps were off. The Colonel left the office and went to the new house. His wife was sitting on the porch. She was upset.
“Where’s the boys?”
“I sent them to the museum over two hours ago. If I’d known the storms were coming I would have never sent them. Can you go get them?”
“I’m on it. Stay here, in case the boys come home.”
“Honey, I’m scared.”
“It will be ok. The boys are safe. I’m going to bring them home.” He kissed her on the lips and left. The Colonel parked in front of the museum. The doors were locked. The lights like the rest of the base were off. He worried the boys were locked inside. He called the military police. The fire trucks and police came with sirens and lights on.
“Colonel, what’s going on?”
“Chief, I fear my boys have gotten locked in here. We need to open it up. Do you have access?”
“The retirees run the museum. Have they given you a key?”
“No Chief, otherwise I would have open the damn door myself.”
The Provost Marshall intervened. “You have no warrant to open these doors.”
“My boys are in there!”
“Chief, this a hunch, no evidence points otherwise.”
Then they heard what sounded like a shot from a handgun.
“Is that evidence enough?” hollered the Colonel.
The provost Marshall nodded his head in agreement as the Fire Chief signaled to the firemen to break open the glass doors. CRASH! Glass shattered everywhere. There was smoke coming out to the door.
“Men, that’s CS gas!”
The firemen and the police officers put on their gas mask. The Chief tried to stop the Colonel.
“You can’t go in there! We don’t have a mask for you.”
“I’m a Colonel. I can handle a little gas. My boys need me!” He ran in the building. There was a large blast. BBBBAAAMMM!!! KKKIIICCCCKKKBBBAAA! Lightning struck the building again. Afterwards, the electricity came back on with all the lights. The search party looked in all the rooms, bathrooms and cabinets for the boys. They were nowhere in sight. Then the Colonel heard the noise of metal against metal. I sounded like a distress call “. . . – – – . . .” again and again.
“SSSSHHHH!!! Everyone stop and listen!” shouted the Colonel
“. . . – – – . . .” “. . . – – – . . .” “. . . – – – . . .” Timothy struggled to focus his mind on creating the distress call on using the key from the footlocker he locked his brother inside of. He heard his captives leave running up the stairs when the glass shattered. His only hope of escape was to grasp the attention of the newcomers.
“It’s SOS! Find where that call is coming from!” directed the Provost Marshall.
“It’s over here!” A military police officer pointed towards the floor. Everyone rushed over there. Clearly the signal was coming from below. “Look for a hatch! The boys are down here.”
The search party was panic stricken now they knew the boys were down below.
“There’s a secrete passage under the wing of the Stuka. Come help me push this airplane. Everyone gathered around the wing of the airplane and they pushed it just enough to get inside the hatch. The Chief lifted it. Inside was a staircase leading into an underground bunker. The Indian man from the front desk was lying on the floor at the bottom of the stairs with a bullet hole in his forehead. The SOS call was louder. It was coming from the inside of bronze bull statue. The Colonel opened it. Inside was Timothy. He was crying. “Dad, you saved me. These men locked me in here. They were going to light a fire but stopped when they heard the glass shatter. Dad they were going to kill me! They said they were going to sacrifice me to the Devil!” He continued to cry.
The Colonel embracing his son said, “I’d never let that happen.” Where’s William?”
“I hid him upstairs in a footlocker inside the Armored Personnel Carrier. He’s safe.”
The search crew went upstairs to look for William. Sure the footlocker in the Armored Personnel Carrier remained locked. The CS gas was unable to get in the seal of the vehicle. Timothy handed his father the key that was still in his hand. He opened it. William was unconscious, but ok. The minor cut on his head had stopped bleeding.
The Colonel had his two arms around his sons. “Come on boys were going home.”
“Dad the house is haunted.”
“That’s why were going to pickup mom and drive back to Ft. Riley, Kansas. The Defense Department needs to reconsider opening this base. The safety of my family always comes first.”