The Secret of Highway House

Highway House is a name that, if things had been different, every one of you would have heard of, every one of you would marvel at and every one of you would know the story of. Why there might even have been a Highway House day, or a Lizzie McMorely day! But you don't and there isn't, and this is why.

Lizzie McMorely, newly graduated from Oxford, is recruited to train as an assassin at Highway House. But when sent out on her first ever mission; the assassination of Adolf Hitler, several factors Lizzie hasn't been trained for come into play: luck, betrayal and love.


16. D-Day

They were silent for the most part of the journey back; Lizzie didn’t know what to say. What if he asked why they were looking for them? Or what if he asked how it was that she could drive? Or how she managed to keep calm? What should she tell him? Eventually Karl spoke up. “Are you ok?” He asked.
“I...” Lizzie paused wondering what the answer should be. “Yes I suppose I am.”
“You were amazing back there.” He told her. “The way you kept calm and managed to get us out alive. It was incredible.”
Lizzie shook her head. “It was luck. If they’d turned around we’d have been dead.”
Karl frowned. “They must have been spies, Russian maybe, or British.”
“They probably wanted to get information out of us.” Lizzie agreed relieved that she had not had to come up with a suggestion as to why those men had tried to attack them.
They pulled up on the side of the road and Lizzie got out whilst Karl slid across into the driver’s seat.
“Perhaps we should stick to something more traditional and boring next time. That was a bit too out of the ordinary.”
Lizzie nodded. “That’s probably a good idea.”
She said goodnight and started walking back towards her hotel. She had never got Karl to drop her off at her hotel, she wasn’t sure why she just liked to walk in the cool night air; it gave her a chance to think. They must have been followed she supposed, she hadn’t seen anyone but she was more than happy to admit that she hadn’t been at her most observant earlier tonight. She replayed the scene in her head but couldn’t make any more sense of it. In the end she resolved not to continue worrying about it but just to make sure that it didn’t happen again.
The next few days ticked by quickly, too quickly for Lizzie’s liking. The closer the upcoming trip to Poland got, the less well prepared she felt for it. It felt strange not to be planning the execution because this wasn’t really her task it was Nadia’s, she Lizzie, was essentially an accessory, and that felt strange. The morning of the trip came and Lizzie felt almost sick with nervousness, she had woken up several times in the night sweating, after dreaming of several disastrous turns of events, one of which included a pack of rabid dogs emerging from Hitler’s compartment when she tried to get in there. She decided against bringing her own weapons, knowing that if Nadia was caught and she was found to be carry weapons then they would realise that she was part of the plot. And if she was caught today it was game over, correction it was life over. She shook her head, she couldn’t think like that. Today was going to be a success.
The train station was already packed when Lizzie arrived. She was glancing around desperately trying to find Nadia when she felt a tap on her elbow. She turned around to see Nadia, except she didn’t look like Nadia as Lizzie knew her. She was dressed in a royal blue skirt which reached to the floor and was embroidered with tiny jewels, and a white chiffon top which was most covered by a blue silk jacket, and her hair was washed and styled to fall in ringlets about her face. The transformation was incredible. She looked wealthy and elegant, and easily passable as first-class; Lizzie wouldn’t have recognised her were it not for those large, black eyes.
“We’d better get going then.” Nadia whispered in her ear. Lizzie nodded and they both proceeded to the train which was already sat in the station, as if they were two strangers who just happened to be walking the same way. They reached the first class sector without any trouble but when Nadia, with Lizzie walking behind her pretending to be looking for her own compartment, attempted to enter the first empty compartment they came across she was stopped by a young security guard.
“Excuse me Miss I have to search everyone’s bags before they can enter.” he said apologetically.
“I’m sorry?” replied Nadia sounding horrified.
“I have to search your bag Miss.” he repeated.
“Do you know who I am?” demanded Nadia. “I am Mrs Braun! I am sure you are familiar with my daughter Eva, the girlfriend of The Führer. I have been invited as a special guest of The Führer himself and you ask to search my bag?” At this point Nadia’s voice was so high Lizzie feared for any glass objects nearby.
The poor guard looked terrified. “I’m so sorry Miss, I had no idea. Please go ahead.” Nadia tutted loudly and entered the compartment whilst Lizzie continued past the security guard who let her through without even attempting to check her bag, and into a compartment further down. At the end of the corridor she could see a roped off section of the first-class sector and two armed guards stood by the door; that must mean that Adolf Hitler was the other side of there.
Lizzie settled herself down on an armchair and waited for the others to arrive. She hadn’t been sat there long when Anneliese appeared at the door and sat down in a chair opposite her, shortly followed by Karl’s arrival and then Katja and Klaus. Despite Lizzie’s mounting nerves she forced herself to join in the chatter of her friends as Anneliese and Katja fantasised about what the dress shops in Warsaw might be like.
Half an hour ticked by, then forty five minutes and Lizzie knew it was time to act. Claiming she need to use the bathroom she picked up her handbag and headed out into the corridor. She only had to walk a few carriages when she stumbled across a carriage that was apparently the kitchen from what she could see through the small circular pane of galls in the door. She waited until she couldn’t see anyone around and slipped inside. She ducked behind a work surface to make sure she wasn’t seen by any of the chefs hard at work just a few feet away on the other side of the carriage. She was in luck; just above her head on the work surface was a glass jug of water. She reached her hand on to the work surface, slid the jug off towards her and crept back out of the carriage. Sidling into an empty compartment she got her tin of mints out of her handbag, dug out the ones with a small dent in them leaving one in there just in case, and remembering what Sophie had said about the shoelace dropped them into the jug of water. The water instantly began to bubble and the glass jug began to heat up to ferocious temperatures. Picking up the jug with her the sleeve of her jacket she returned to the corridor and dropped the jug on the floor. Speeding down the corridor to get away from the smoking liquid behind her, she had almost reached the door of her own compartment when she turned back to see a green tinged gas rising from the melting carpet that lined the corridor. Mentally crossing her fingers that it would be enough she rejoined her friends who were casually discussing a party that was happening the following week. Five minutes passed before anyone seemed to realise the scale of what was happening just down the corridor from them, which Lizzie was thankful for as it detached the event from her leaving the room. However before long security guards were hurtling down the corridor shouting at each other and making a complete commotion.
“I do wonder whatever’s going on out there.” Anneliese frowned as half a dozen more soldiers sped past the door to their compartment.
A moment later a flustered looking young soldier came into the compartment and insisted that they open the windows.
“We can’t do that, we’ll get cold!” said Katja appalled.
“Miss I’m afraid you don’t have a choice, everyone in this section of the train has to. It’s an order.” he said.
“You can’t order me to do anything! How dare you-”
But Katja was cut off by a spectacularly loud bang from further down the train, a bang that Lizzie recognised as a gunshot and she was sure, by the reaction of the soldier as he sprinted out of the compartment and back down the corridor, that he did too. The compartment was silent for a minute.
“What was that?” asked Anneliese nervously. Lizzie joined the others in shaking their heads and looking bewildered, as she prayed that it had been Nadia who had fired that shot.
A few minutes later Anneliese said, “Is it just me or are we slowing down.” They all turned to look out of the window and Lizzie found that Anneliese was right. Her first thought was that perhaps that meant that Nadia had succeeded. Adrenaline coursed through her veins, she was itching to find out if Hitler was really dead. Security guards were darting up and down the corridors outside until the train made a loud squealing noise and ground to a halt and the stern guard from before entered their compartment.
“No one is to panic. The train will be stopping briefly whilst a thorough search of everyone on board takes place. There has just been an attempted attack on The Führer. Don’t worry,” he added seeing Lizzie crestfallen face at the word “attempted” and mistaking it for concern for Hitler, “he has not been harmed and the woman who made the attack, whom we believe to be Nadia Kozlov, is dead.” He began to search their bags and Lizzie, had she not been so horrified at the news, would have felt relieved that she had had the foresight to leave her own weapons behind. Nadia was dead. Nadia Kozlov, the woman who had lived amongst bombed out rubble just for this chance, the woman who had sacrificed everything, the woman who was probably the bravest person Lizzie had ever know, had died. It wouldn’t sink in. And the worst part was that she had to act like she was relieved that Hitler was safe and alive when all she wanted to do was grieve for the only true friend she had in the whole of Germany.
“I can’t believe it,” gasped Anneliese, “an assassination attempt on this train!”
“Thank goodness it failed!” said Klaus.
“It’s crazy!” said Karl. “And the one time I don’t have my typewriter!”
The train stopped for half an hour while it was searched before moving on again, nothing more was mentioned to the passengers onboard. Lizzie never saw Nadia Kozlov’s body. The train didn’t arrive in Warsaw until the evening giving Lizzie an excuse to go to bed as soon as they got to their hotel. Once she was alone she sat on her at the little desk beside the bed, without even unpacking her suitcase and composed a letter.
Dear friends and relatives of Nadia Kozlov,
I am sure by the time you read this you will have already heard that Nadia died whilst attempting to assassinate Adolf Hitler. I am also sure that the German newspapers will write some dreadful and disgusting story about her as a person or the circumstances in which she died. I cannot comment on the details for I do not know exactly what happened, however I can say that Nadia Kozlov was the bravest woman I have ever met and she deserves to be remembered as that. She knew that her death was a distinct possibility when she took this job and she asked me to tell you all, should she die, that she died trying to make the world  safer place for you.
My sincerest sympathies,
A friend
She resolved to post the letter to the Russian embassy in the morning and hope that it would find its way to the people Nadia intended it for. Then, exhausted from the day’s events, Lizzie curled up on the large four-poster bed and finally let the tears flow for the friend that she had appreciated greatly in the short time she had known her.


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