This is longer than my usual ‘short’ story. If you haven’t read the earlier part, I really suggest you go to ROCK Part 1. Otherwise, this one may be a little harder to follow than you’d like!
The scene is the Gibraltar fortress in WW2. The two Abwehr saboteurs – Ulises Lope Guiomar and Gonzalo Olegario, having killed a US soldier, have just avoided being discovered by the Black Watch corporal ‘Braw Wullie’ McEwen and his simian companion ‘Hairy Wullie’ – a most unusual Barbary macaque.
Ulises jumped down from the back of the truck. “Thanks, buddy,” he said, already taking on the accent he’d learned in southern California.
With the brisk step he’d adopted, he stepped smartly across the parade ground, carefully not following the Scottish corporal and the monkey. He was startled when a sergeant major from one of the engineering companies shouted at him.
“You there! Soldier! Get your hair cut!” the pompous RSM ordered.
Guiomar stopped in his tracks and saluted perfectly. “Yes sir! Right you are, sir! As soon as I get off duty, sir!”
“See that you do!” The officer gave a curt nod and continued on his way.
Gonzalo Olegario realised he’d been holding his breath as he watched the little exchange. The soldier who’d just come over to buy some oranges looked at him in concern. “Are you okay, mate?” he asked in a voice that might have just left the East End of London.
“Eh? Oh, si. Sorry, senor. I was distracted by one of the apes – no, monkeys they are, si?”
The Londoner laughed. “You’ve been talking to that mad coot McEwen, haven’t you? Don’t worry about the monkeys mate – you get used to ‘em around here. They’re harmless, if you keep an eye on ‘em.”
Ulises had been much less concerned than Gonzalo. He moved and worked with absolute confidence, an air that gave nobody any cause to doubt that he was the GI he presented himself to be.
There were a number of entrances to the tunnel complex in the section of the Rock that he was approaching. He selected one that had a numeral 5 on a small sign mounted on the rock face. A British soldier was guarding the tunnel entrance – a man that Guiomar was confident had not been among his customers and thus would have no chance of recognizing him.
He saluted the guard and said, “Been ordered to HQ”.
The rifleman gave him a wry smile and replied, “You’ve picked the long way, matey. You oughta use Tunnel Number 7. More direct. Take you a good three quarters of a mile or more, this one.”
Guiomar squared his shoulders and offered a practiced smile. “Reckon I need the exercise,” he said.
“Suit yourself, matey,” said the guard and waved him on his way.
As soon as he was well inside past the guard the Spaniard broke into a run. He was remarkably quiet for a man in heavy boots inside a tunnel. He’d spent a lot of time practicing a running style that saw him seemingly glide, rather than slamming his feet to the ground.
Once clear of the daylight streaming in at the entrances, Gibraltar’s tunnel system was a gloomy place. Long stretches of tunnel were only sparsely lit by small bulbs, feebly penetrating the darkness. The holes punched in the limestone had not created high ceilings or wide corridors. In some places groundwater seeped through the stone above and dripped slowly onto the floor.
Guiomar stopped outside a closed door, poorly illuminated by a flickering light. Evidently the wiring to this socket was faulty and the charge wasn’t getting through properly. The Brandenburg smiled, rather like a shark. This was clearly a storeroom of some sort. With luck it would contain something volatile behind the locked door. He reached into his blouse and extracted one of the packages from the special vest. He squeezed and felt a small piece of copper buckle under the pressure of his thumb. He felt more than heard thin glass crack.
It had begun. He had about two hours to finish the job and get well clear. He wedged the first package into a cleft in the rock wall near the door, and then took off along the corridor at a steady pace.