Short story: Operation Ages or The Great Man’s War

I stood there as they lowered my grandfather into his grave. My mother cried while Dad held her. The blasts of both the rifles and the trumpet signaled the farewell of a friend. Me? I just stood there. I knew I would see him again.

Call me a nice Jewish boy, but I knew I would see my grandfather again. He shared something with me that could have meant his death if the reaper hadn’t come calling by then anyway. Something so unbelievable that it had to be true.

I entered my apartment, my tie loose and my jacket held over my shoulder. Dropping my jacket across the back of my chair, I cracked open two beers and looked at the last thing my grandfather willed me before he passed.

It was an old manila folder with a yellow spade icon on it. It’s stationery read as being from the Office of Strategic Services or O.S.S. The cover was stamped “TOP SECRET” and “CLASSIFIED” though the red ink had faded with age. Wetting my finger and thumb, I peeled back the pages to read the files within.

Operation Carlyle

Name: Dr. Thomas Wainwright

Date: April 30, 1942

Subject: Recounting and overview analysis of anomalies

As a scientist, these recent developments are exciting to sat the least. If it’s possible to study the origins and methods of these displacement events, the applications could change human history. Though in fairness, they are already somewhat.

The earliest report is that of a Royal Military Police unit discovering what looked like an unconscious young man near the perimeter of his jurisdiction barracks. Nothing appeared out of order with the man aside from his wardrobe. He was dressed in clothing that seemed to originate in the Elizabethan Era. What may have just been a man at a costume party who passed out while wandering was turned into something far greater when the clothing was tested and carbon dated.

They were the genuine article. Fresh seeming as any clothing store could offer you today, but by all scientific divination, old as the fifteenth century.

The man eventually came to in the army’s medical care and immediately seemed disoriented and even frightened by his surroundings. He asked if this was Heaven. When asked who he was, the man identified as William Shakespeare.

The anomalies have manifested consistently with what is now dubbed “The Shakespeare model.” The historical person in question is found near a military 3settlement in their country of origin, unconscious but otherwise in their physical prime, and with their memories intact. This includes up to the point of their perceived death. Any other existing forms of this phenomenon have not been documented as of yet.

The resurrected playwright was brought before the royals and Prime Minister Churchill. The current war with Germany and the peril England faces made apparent to him. Shakespeare offered his services in whatever capacity he could, and was assigned to propaganda duty under a pseudonym.

Since then, Shakespearean anomalies have occurred, those found being dubbed “Greats.” While the Greats are enlisted through various means to fight against the Axis, it is my job to ascertain the cause of these occurrences.

End of report.

Name: Captain Elis Demone
Date: November 18, 1942
Subject: Personal journal following the success of Operation: Torch.

They didn’t teach most of us this in officer school. It was mainly about protocol, and we had, maybe two classes, on strategy or tactics. I’m not afraid to admit I was completely out of my depth with it all when the shit hit the fan. The men under my command looked at me, expecting an answer, and order. All I could do was tell them to hold position or press the attack.

That all changed when General Bonaparte arrived. True I was, for all intents and purposes, reduced to a water boy but I honestly did not mind. Relaying commands and attending to the General was much easier than being expected to command myself. General Bonaparte’s liaison and partner was General Patton. By the talk of it you expected the two to shoot each other on sight so big were their respective egos, but when they actually met, it was an oddly pleasant affair.

General Patton greeted his counterpart in French and addressed General Bonaparte with a kind of respect I think he reserved for his superiors. For the General’s part, he seemed both surprised and delighted that someone besides me even spoke French. When going over the strategy to retake Casablanca, the banter was lively and electric. These two men discussed war the same way children talk about baseball.

The operation was a two pronged attack. General Bonaparte’s hand picked artillery corps. strategically struck at the German stronghold targets with minimal collateral to the city. Such precision would be breath taking were in not for the theater by which it was exercised. The actual assault was conducted by General Patton and his tanks, but honestly, by the time he got there the Germans were so disorganized that any kind of counter attack was brief and easily dealt with.

General Bonaparte made a proclamation to the conquered city. That he would retake France and his empire with General Patton by his side. Patton only mockingly warned him of invading Russia during the winter again.

End of report.

Name: Sergeant Micheal “Mac” Avery, USMC
Date: February 10, 1944
Subject: After Action Report

We were supposed to flank a Jap machine gun nest. Drop a few grenades and wrap it up with some bullets. The weren’t there when we got there. No they were waiting in the brush to ambush us.

We did a fighting retreat into the swamp. They wounded and killed some of our own, had to carry them through the marsh. The further we got though, the fewer were chasing us. By the time we were halfway back to the fallback position, the Japs were jumping at shadows. I found out why soon enough.

From the defensive position we took, we could see there were about seven or so of them left. There was a kind of “whooping” noise and a rustling of leaves, but then one of them drops dead or an arrow sticks from another’s neck. When their Captain was all that was left, he ran into the river, only for the Swamp Fox to burst from the water and cut the enemy’s throat with a knife.

He approached us along with his unit, a group of them Indian code-talkers only with bows and rifles instead of radios. He asked if we needed further help with the evac.

If I had not seen this man save our lives, I would have told him to go home. He was a short man and he seemed to walk with a limp. I introduced myself by my name and rank. He simply called himself Francis Marion of South Carolina. He sure sounded English though. After I declined his offer, Marines can stand on our own and all that, I asked why I’d never seen him or his men before.

He said because he didn’t want me to. True to his word, once Marion left I never saw him again for the campaign. Occasionally though I would find a body with a kitchen utensil or something and known he’d been there.

End of report.

Name: Fyodor Kamenski
Date: July 2, 1943
Subject: Commissar Oversight report to Military Committee

To you Comrades,
I think there may be a matter of concern with our alliance. The Tsar has been useful, yes. Organization and efficiency have been improved greatly by his presence. Even the name “Ivan the Terrible” silences speech and demands attention, by both friend and foe. Although his disciplinary action can be excessive at times.

We’ve made a discovery in Poland, and this likewise raises concern. It seems the evil of the Fascist Reich goes far deeper than we could even have conceived. When we stormed the base, we found the expected laborers and officers attempting to destroy intelligence files. What was unexpected were the ovens. Comrades, I shudder now as I did then to even contemplate the horrors of what I recount to you now. The Fascists were conducting industrialized mass murder, and their files lead us to believe this is far from the only base in which this was practiced.

Most disconcerting of this though, was Comrade Ivan’s reaction. After seeing the files and looking at the devices which the Nazis used to deal their sickly business, Ivan ordered the captured officers be selectively skinned and thrown into the same ovens they had once manned.

As they suffered pain beyond reckoning, Comrade Ivan simply said that despite everything he had done, today he had seen the true depths of man’s evil. My concern now is, with victory in sight, what will be done of Comrade Ivan once the Reich falls? Or perhaps more to the point, what will be done about him?

End of report.

Name: Dr. Thomas Wainwright
Date: October 10, 1945
Subject: Conclusions
There is a God. In my private life, I’ve always been uncertain about the existence of a divine will. With all that I’ve compiled, I have found no other scientific explanation that fits besides that though. The Greats appear by the Shakespeare Model, and always near a military base, ready to deploy them in a manner by which the Axis powers are crippled by their remarkable skills.

Given the discovery of the Death Camps, I’ve concluded that God sent the Greats as he did the Plagues against the Egyptians. An evil being committed, chiefly against His chosen people, is met with divine retribution. Only instead of locusts or fire from Heaven, God opted to use Heroes and Monsters arisen from humanity as His weapons.
These conclusions may not satisfy my superiors, but I make them knowing that I have done right and come to a very real truth.
End of report.

I closed the file. Many more such accounts of daring and heroics lay within. Of course the Greats existence was covered up, no Government was going to proclaim that it was God’s will that beat the Nazis and they were just a part of it. My Grandfather knew though. I looked over to the second beer I opened. It fizzed away silently, growing flat. I lifted my own can in a toast.

The End

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