by Doc Quantum
Uncle Sam woke up once again in pain as he had for the past few days. He was drained and weakened from lack of contact with the country he shared a mystical bond with. And he had even nearly given up any hope of regaining his freedom. They’d kept him in isolation since that first day when he awoke and they’d put him on display, bringing him out every once in a while for propaganda purposes.
From his position he could barely glimpse the passing figures of the odd SS officer as they passed the cell door in the hallway. There was a single guard posted directly outside of his cell. Uncle Sam knew what he would do if he could get himself free, and once again he cursed his helplessness.
Now he heard murmuring behind the door. Someone was paying him a visit.
The door clicked open with a robotic whir, and an imposing-looking SS officer dressed in a black uniform walked in through the door. He looked very familiar.
“Herr Onkel Sam,” said the man in black. “I am Count Helmut von Stauffen. Although we never met in person during the war, I am sure you must have heard of me.”
“The Black Knight,” Sam breathed.
“You are correct,” said von Stauffen, who spun around and backhanded Sam in the face as hard as possible. “I do not, however, tolerate a prisoner speaking out of line. Remember this, and you will live.”
Von Stauffen studied the stoic face of Uncle Sam and smiled. “I can see that you are wondering why I am here. What they have in store for you now. Well, wonder no further. You are to become a crucial part of the German offensive against America. And you will no longer care by that time, one way or the other.”
“When pigs fly,” Sam weakly rebutted, blood dripping from his now-bleeding mouth.
Count von Stauffen laughed as he keyed in the numerical sequence for the door to open, and said as he walked through the door, “We are working on the flying pigs problem even as we speak.” He laughed heartily at his own joke as the door slammed shut and locked.
Uncle Sam was fuming. What was the point of that visit? Just to taunt him?
He shifted slightly and realized that his metallic bonds gave way, just a little. He tried his legs, and then his arms, and found that they were all slightly loose.
Now this is a mighty interestin’ development, thought Uncle Sam.
“Why aren’t we already trying to rescue Sam?” said Tom Wright, the Freedom Fighter known as the Black Condor. “Who knows what plans the Nazis may have for him? I say we rescue Sam, the sooner the better.”
“Tom, I just don’t think that rushing into it like that is the best way to go about it,” replied Darrel Dane, the Doll Man. “The Nazis have just got to be expecting a rescue mission of some kind by the rest of us Freedom Fighters, and we’d just end up walking into a trap. We should at least try to find the others, and the best way to do that is to stay right here, where they’re bound to show up. They all know where Martha and I live.”
Tom silently cursed. “I just hate waiting, Darrel. Sam could be in real danger over there. We have no idea what those Ratzi bastards are doing to him right now. It’s been a few days since he was last used as a propaganda display against the U.S.”
The telephone rang, catching the attention of both Darrel and Tom.
Martha answered. “Hello?” she said. “Oh, hi! How are you? … Oh, I’m doing just fine. Violet’s growing like a weed… Yes, Darrel’s here, and so is Tom… No, I don’t know where Roy is… Sure. He’s right here, I’ll let you talk with him. Talk to you again soon!” Martha put her hand on the receiver. “Tom! It’s Sandra. She wants to talk to you. She’s calling long-distance, and she says it’s urgent.”
Count Helmut von Stauffen arrived at the Chancellery as ordered. As the Black Knight, von Stauffen was known as Nazi Germany’s greatest Intelligence agent. He had inherited the title from his father, who had been Hitler’s right-hand-man from the 1940s to the 1960s, when he died. The current von Stauffen took over his father’s role as the Black Knight in more recent years with the Nazi Underground, and he had quickly become a trusted member of Hitler’s entourage.
The Black Knight walked down the long hallway to the Fuhrer’s office, passing a series of paintings portraying Hitler himself as a Teutonic knight, a series which he had begun in the ’40s and continued until the late ’50s, by which time his age was finally catching up to him.
However, if the rumors were indeed true, and Hitler was suddenly young again… No. No, these could only be rumors. Not even Nazi Germany possessed the technology to either transplant a brain from one body to another, or rejuvenate an old man to be suddenly young. It was an impossibility. This could only be Dr. Minerva up to her old tricks again.
And yet, when the Black Knight entered the Fuhrer’s inner sanctum, he saw standing before him a vision of the past. “Mein Fuhrer!”
Adolf Hitler was young again. He looked to be about forty years of age now, a stark contrast from his actual age of ninety-six. And yet he was in better shape now than he had been at the age of forty. He looked to have some extra muscle tone, and no signs of fat were evident on his body. He even appeared to be about two inches taller than his height at age forty.
“Ahhh, my Black Knight!” said Hitler. “I can see by the questioning look on your face that you have not heard the news. Your Fuhrer is a young man again, and the dream of the Thousand-Year Reich is truly inevitable now!”
“Mein Fuhrer — this is… this is indeed wonderful news!” sputtered von Stauffen. “But how… what–?”
“It is a miracle!” Hitler said exuberantly. “Dr. Minerva has created this new body for me from a mere blood cell. And it has been genetically enhanced, as well. I’m stronger than I ever was as a youth, and I will never catch another cold or flu again.”
“Wonderful news,” Von Stauffen repeated, although he wondered exactly how much of a hold this Minerva had on his Fuhrer, if indeed this was his Fuhrer.
Sandra Knight invisibly walked right between two Japanese soldiers and through the barricades on the California-Oregon border. Two hours later, she was met by U.S. Army Intelligence officers contacted by the California Resistance movement. They were naturally suspicious, of course, but were soon convinced that this was, indeed, the Phantom Lady of the Freedom Fighters.
After a ride on an American fighter jet that took her across the country to New York, she was reunited with Darrel Dane and Tom Wright — respectively Doll Man and the Black Condor — at a military airbase on Long Island.
“Sandy,” said Tom, running up to her with a big smile on his face. “I’m so glad you’re all right. We weren’t sure how safe it would be traveling by air across the country.”
“Well, I wouldn’t worry too much about that,” she responded, hugging him. “These flyboys were definitely ready for anything. And they knew how important this mission is.” She turned toward her other teammate. “Darrel, how’s Martha?”
“She’s fine,” Darrel said. “She stayed home with Vi.” His smile was forced.
“What’s wrong, hon?”
“It’s — it’s nothing,” Darrel began. Sandy just crossed her arms and looked at him. “I… I guess I’m just tired of all this war, and — and the whole super-hero game. I just want to be able to be with Martha and raise my family. I guess I’m telling you now that — I want to retire.”
The other two were quiet for a moment. Then Tom spoke up. “Darrel, what about Sam?”
“Tom!” Sandy said, glaring at him. “Darrel, it’s OK. It’s all right.”
“I’ll come with you and help get Sam back from those bastards,” said Darrel slowly. “But that’s it. After that, I’m taking myself out of the game.”
Uncle Sam waited until nightfall to make his move. All day long he had been using what depleted strength he had left in his body to weaken his bonds, and by the time night came, he was sure he could escape from them easily.
The door would be no problem as well, for he had seen the number combination that von Stauffen casually entered into the keypad. It was perhaps a mark of his overconfidence in Sam’s evident continual imprisonment that he was so careless about it. And yet that plus his bonds becoming suddenly loose at the same time made for a strange combination of luck or fate.
Sam easily slipped out of his bonds and soundlessly made his way to the door. He carefully peeked out of the cell window and discovered to his astonishment that the hallway was entirely empty. Something was wrong, but he’d have to take this chance if he was to escape.
He keyed in the correct sequence of numbers, and the door clicked open. He wasn’t home free yet, however. Somehow this just felt all too easy, and Sam began to think he was being led around like a rat in a maze.
Uncle Sam made his way to the basement, where he figured his best route of escape was through the tunnels underground. He hadn’t seen any opposition at all, or at least none that were conscious, and he wondered who his benefactor was.
Sam now stepped into the cellar area, which was pitch black. Halfway down the stairway a match lit up, illuminating a cigarette.
Sam stopped in his tracks. The voice was somehow familiar, but he couldn’t trace it. He squinted into the darkness and watched as the match went out, leaving only a red dot where the cigarette was. “Who are ye?”
“I’m just a soldier,” responded the figure in the darkness. “An American soldier, known only to God. And I’m here to get you back home.”
Uncle Sam began to descend the stairs once again, very cautiously. This could easily be a Nazi trick. “Was it you who knocked out them guards in front of my cell?”
“Come, we will waste no time,” the man responded, flicking his cigarette on the ground, turning on his flashlight and heading toward the doors leading to the underground tunnels. “They’re bound to realize you’re gone any minute now, and we don’t want to tangle with any more Nazis than we need to, especially not the SS Ubermenschen.”
They carefully opened the doorway and stepped through into the darkened tunnel. Uncle Sam could see that the man was wearing a dark trenchcoat and a brimmed hat that shaded his head. I wonder why? thought Sam, as he thought he glimpsed wrappings of bandages around his face. He soon saw that this covered his entire face, obscuring his identity entirely. He truly was an unknown soldier.
At the far end of the tunnel, they began to see light in the dark tunnel, and crept even more cautiously than before, yet still with an urgent step. There was no time to lose, once the Germans discovered that he was missing. At the end of the tunnel, they spied a single guard taking a cigarette break. He was armed.
“Back. Behind me, Sam,” whispered the soldier, who then carefully took aim and shot the guard where he sat, in a single muffled shot.
“Why’d ye have to kill him?” asked Sam angrily.
“We’re in a war, Sam. You of all people should know that.”
Uncle Sam bit his tongue and said nothing. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it, he thought as they made their way out of the tunnel and into the German countryside toward a destination the soldier seemed to already have in mind.
The Black Knight, Count Helmut von Stauffen, marched regally through the cellblocks reserved for the Nazis’ most special guests, dressed in his customary SS uniform. He sneered at the lowly guard who jumped out of his desk and saluted, shouting, “Heil Hitler!” while clicking his heels at attention.
“At ease. Is our prisoner comfortable?” he asked the guard.
“Uh, yes,” the guard said somewhat uncertainly. “He’s in the same cell he was in when you were last here.”
“What in God’s name are you talking about?” demanded von Stauffen.
“Y-you were here only a few hours ago, Herr Count,” stammered the guard. “You went in to see him and then left.”
The Black Knight cursed loudly and ran through the corridor to the cell where the prisoner was supposed to be kept, almost tripping over a fallen guard in the process, causing him to curse louder and more frequently until he reached the cell, at which point his fears were confirmed.
Uncle Sam had escaped.
And von Stauffen screamed his displeasure.
He stormed back to the head guard’s desk and shot him, point blank, in the head even as the man was shouting, “Heil Hitler!”