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.

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14. The Heist

She had got herself a cover for the trip to Poland, and it was one which should hold up if something went wrong, and she had booked the train tickets the morning after the party but she was yet to get her hands on a murder weapon. She had her own gun of course but Nadia had been insistent that she get another one for this job so that if it failed she’d still have her own weapon. She could make a bomb but Nadia had said that she wouldn’t use a bomb again; they were too temperamental. No, she was going to have to acquire something new, the trouble was what it should be and where she should get it from. Something told her not to risk going back to the garage where she had collected the gun she had now, it would make her easy to trace. She thought back to her training at Highway House, anything that might help her here at all, and she found herself remembering the test that had allowed her to be here and how her and her roommates had commandeered a truck for the event. Perhaps it was time for another heist.
It was 1941, the middle of the war, there were men with weapons everywhere, all she had to do was steal a gun off of any one of them; or that’s what she told herself as she stood on the doorstep of Central Berlin’s police station. This was risky she knew; if anyone there knew who she was they could easily find an excuse to arrest her, but right now she couldn’t think of a better plan. So she took the dark brown wig she had purchased earlier from a fancy dress shop, out of her bag and put it on. She couldn’t risk blowing the identity of Julia Wreath who was so key to her position in Berlin but she could be Mary Jenkins again without a problem.
She took a deep breath and pushed open the door. The brilliant white paint on the walls of the room she stepped into dazzled her for a moment and made the place feel more like a hospital than a police station, but for the desk in the centre which had metal shutters hovering above it waiting to slam down at the slightest warning. The man sat at the desk looked up at her. “What can I do for you Miss?”
“I’d like to report a crime.” Lizzie announced making her voice quiver a little.
“Right and what is this crime?” He asked.
“A theft.” Lizzie said loudly sounding on the edge of hysteria.
“And do you have any idea who committed the crime Miss?”
“Yes!” Lizzie squealed and promptly burst into tears. “It was me officer, I am the thief!”
“You wish to turn yourself in?” asked the man disbelievingly.
“Yes I do for I am a thief and so should be punished! Only I didn’t mean to officer I swear, she lent them to me and I didn’t know she was moving away and now I have no way of giving them back to her, so I am a thief.” Lizzie began sobbing once more.
“Shhh now.” said the man awkwardly. “Tell me the whole story.”
“Well it all started with a party last weekend. My cousin lent me these chandelier earrings,” she said between sobs holding up the ones that she had bought at the airport, “to go with my dress because it was lilac you see and not many things go with lilac, but then I didn’t know that she was moving to the very west of Germany, to Duisburg, yesterday - I thought it was next week and now she has gone I have no way of giving these earrings back to her so now I have effectively stolen them!”
“Now don’t worry Miss, you haven’t stolen anything. You have to have intended to steal it to have committed theft so don’t worry you are completely in the clear.”
“But come and look! They are ever such expensive earrings, I have deprived my cousin of them and that must be a crime.” She said desperately.
The police officer got up from his desk and came around to pretend to examine the earrings to appease Lizzie who was quite enjoying playing the distraught and slightly barmy young lady. He even reached back over his desk to fetch a magnifying glass and it was at this precise moment that Lizzie saw her opportunity. There was a shiny silver pistol sticking out of his back pocket and as he leaned over Lizzie slid it out and stuffed in her inside coat pocket. The man examined the earrings and handed them back to Lizzie. “Trust me Miss I’ve been doing this job for twenty-five years and you aren’t a thief.”
“Oh thank you!” Lizzie exclaimed and hugged him briefly before hurrying out of the station and away from the scene of a crime that she had actually committed.
Lizzie slipped through what was left of the cobbled back streets of Berlin, glancing over her shoulder now and then to check that she wasn’t being followed. Eventually she recognised the two small children sat in the middle of the street as the same two who had been playing in the glass last time she had been brought here by Nadia. Unsurprisingly the boy now had a strip of blood-stained cloth wrapped around one of his feet. She recognised the make-shift shelter that Nadia had led her to last time on her right, the bed sheet now entirely caked in mud, but for the several holes that had appeared in it. “Nadia?” she called out softly, it felt rude just to enter, as if she were just breaking down someone’s door to their house and walking straight in. Those large black eyes appeared through a gap in the material and Nadia pulled back the would-be curtain to beckon Lizzie in.
“Everything is ready?” was the first thing that Nadia asked.
“Yes I have the tickets.” Lizzie drew them out to show her. “I’ll meet you at the station half an hour before the train leaves and we’ll get you in a compartment somewhere on it before I go and join my friends. I’ll create a diversion say an hour into the journey giving you the chance to use this.” She pulled out the silver pistol stowed deep within her pocket and hesitantly handed it to Nadia. She had taken the woman’s advice and didn’t want to appear too keen to trust her. Nadia took the pistol from Lizzie weighed it in her hands for a moment before stuffing it under a pile of cloth in the corner of the shelter. Then she tilted her head up to look at Lizzie.
“Who is he?” she asked.
“Sorry, what?” Lizzie asked puzzled.
“It’s written all over your face Lizzie. Who is he? The boy?”
Lizzie blushed, was it that obvious? “Just a journalist.” She sighed.
“Well I can tell it’s too late to try and stop you from seeing him but do be careful won’t you. Love is a weakness. You won’t ask the questions you would if it was anyone else, you don’t know you can trust him Lizzie, so don’t take it for granted that you can just because you love him.”
Lizzie could feel cheeks burning, was she in love? They had only been on one date. Yet there was still something she couldn’t quite put her finger on that made her think about him almost constantly. Perhaps it was love? She couldn’t be sure but Nadia was right she had let her guard down and that couldn’t happen.
“Well bear that in mind anyway. I’ll see you soon.” Nadia added.
Lizzie took that as her cue to leave and departed the shelter all too grateful to avoid any more embarrassing questions.​

 

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