Algy and the Rescue Flight: Chapter 7. Bertie Gets In A Fix

By Sopwith

Disclaimer: I do not own, or claim to own, any of the Biggles series characters used in this work. This fan fiction was written for entertainment purposes only and should not be considered part of the official storyline.

With two days of free time on his hands, Bertie saw no reason to stay too near the Iron Curtain. Therefore, once he had dropped off Biggles and Ginger, he headed back for France, with a view to getting the machine refueled and getting a bite to eat.

Once he had done these two things and booked a comfortable room in a hotel, there was really nothing to do but wait for the agreed-upon time to arrive.

The second hand on his watch seemed to have stuck; every time he glanced at it, he was astonished at how little time had passed.

Looking over his maps, he judged that Biggles and Ginger had had ample time to reach their destination. Algy, too, assuming that he had survived the crash and the manhunt, should also have had time to reach the rendezvous point. With luck, the two parties had met up as planned and were even now making their way back to the pick-up point.

Bertie soon grew weary of waiting, and with nothing else to do, he soon found himself growing increasingly irritated with his forced inactivity.

But all things come to an end, and two days later he paid his bill, left the hotel, and took a taxi to the aerodrome where he had left the Percival.

The afternoon sky was cloudy, but that did not worry him, for he would obviously be crossing the Iron Curtain in the dark.

He was feeling quite cheerful as he turned off his lights and glided silently towards his destination, but a sudden rattle of guns jolted him out of his good mood.

Was someone shooting at him?

Someone was indeed shooting at him, two someones, in fact. Bertie scowled as two monoplanes closed in on the Percival from either side. A commanding voice boomed through his radio, but as the words were in a language unknown to him, there was nothing he could have said even had he wanted to do so.

How or why the other planes were there he neither knew nor cared; he was only concerned with getting the Percival down intact. Biggles and the others were counting on the machine to get home.

Twisting and turning to spoil the pilots’ aim—not an easy task in such a big machine—Bertie took the plane down as low as he dared, hedge-hopping ahead of the monoplanes, just barely skimming the ground.

A tree loomed up in front of him, and he flinched, banking away just in time to avoid a crash. Still the monoplanes followed, like dogs hard on the heels of a fox. Bertie growled. He muttered. There were guns on board the Percival, but he loathed to use them, not wishing to spark off an international incident. However, “These blighters really are asking for it,” he murmured to himself. “It’s too jolly steep, by jove!”

The end came suddenly—and unexpectedly. The Percival’s engine emitted a high-pitched whine, refused to respond to any of the controls, and, literally, fell out of Bertie’s hands.

&&&

The Percival hit the ground with an almighty crash and went to pieces, much like a house of cards collapsing in on itself.

For a minute Bertie sat stunned, trying to make sense of what had just happened. Then, he muttered peevishly to himself and tried to find his monocle, which had fallen out of his eye during the crash. This was a task made all the more difficult as it was dark inside the plane.

Finally, after several minutes of groping aimlessly around him, he found the small sliver of glass, and was both relieved and satisfied to find it intact. Feeling that things were looking up, he polished the monocle on his sleeve, and popped it back into his eye.

This done, the next step was to get out of the plane, which was not as hard as it sounded, for the impact with the ground, or perhaps some of the bullets that had been fired, had somehow torn a gaping hole in the side of the Percival.

Bertie felt around until his questing hand fell on his torch, and then he proceeded to fill his pockets with as many useful items as possible from inside the plane. It did not take a genius to realize that the machine would have to be abandoned. No plane could fly when it had a gaping great hole on one side.

Having filled his pockets, he proceeded to clamber out of the hole, onto the ground outside. What he saw there did not encourage him. There appeared to be nothing around for miles, nothing except trees, and grass, and possibly an animal or two. There were not, for example, any cars, or shops, or any other forms of civilization.

Bertie growled some choice phrases for the unknown monoplane pilots who had shot him down. The thought that Biggles and the others could, even now, be waiting for him to turn up at the agreed spot, sent him into a mild panic. He racked his brains, hoping to come up with some sort of plan, but then realized that the best thing to do was start walking, and get as far away from the ruined Percival as possible, before the monoplane pilots and their friends came to investigate.

With this in mind, he tried to make up his mind which way he should go.

“All the ways look the bally same anyway,” he concluded, after a quick survey of his surroundings. “Might as well flip a jolly old coin and see where that takes me.”

For some reason, this absurd suggestion felt like good advice to him, and, suiting the action to the word, he took a coin out of his pocket. “Heads that way, tails that way,” he murmured, and flipped the coin into the air.

&&&

The coin landed on his palm. Bertie looked at it. Heads. “Righto, then,” he murmured to himself. “Toddle along this way.”

Having set fire to the ruined Percival, Bertie pulled his collar up against the cold, and began trudging along in his chosen direction, trying to ignore the cold and the worry gnawing at the edge of his mind.

How long he walked he did not know, but after what seemed like an eternity of walking, he saw a group of people approaching him from a short distance away.

It was too late to hide, for of course the newcomers had already seen him the same moment that he had seen them. Bertie debated whether to continue walking, or to stop and attempt to carry on a conversation with them. The decision was taken out of his hands, however, as the group of people halted in front of him, making it impossible for him to pass.

It was obvious from their clothes that they were civilians, peasants, or the like. They seemed to be in a state of great excitement, pointing at Bertie and chattering away to one another.

There were four people in the group altogether, two young boys of perhaps fourteen or fifteen, and two older men of perhaps forty or fifty.

It took Bertie a minute to realize the cause of the excitement was his monocle. Apparently they had never seen one before.

After a minute or so, Bertie grew bored of his inactivity and made as if to push past his audience, but to his surprise and annoyance, they refused to give way, staring animatedly at his face as if they were at some pantomime performance.

“I say, look here,” began Bertie heatedly. “This is a bit steep, what?”

The older of the two men smiled and swelled up with self-importance. “Iiingless?” he inquired.

“English, yes, I should jolly well hope so,” retorted Bertie, who by now was thoroughly tired of the unwanted attention he was receiving. “Now would you bally fellows mind letting me through?”

Still the English speaker did not budge. “Why…you…come…here?” he asked, drawing out the question word by word like a small child just learning to read. That he was proud of himself was evident from the way he kept casting little glances at his companions.

“I’ve come here for the bally scenery, of course,” replied Bertie sarcastically. “Jolly relaxing and all that sort of thing.”

This reply puzzled his listeners, who turned to each other with confused expressions.

“Where…you…go?”

“Anywhere,” said Bertie vaguely, and then decided that he might as well put his new acquaintances to good use. “I say, you wouldn’t happen to know where I could find a jolly telephone, do you?”

Apparently the man’s vocabulary did not stretch to “telephone”. All Bertie got for his trouble was a blank stare.

“How…you…come…here?”

This was getting onto dangerous ground, but Bertie saw no reason to lie to his audience. Hoping that they would go away once he had satisfied their curiosity, he replied, “I fell in from the bally sky, don’t you know.” Once again met with puzzled expressions, he put out his arms in a birdlike manner and made as best an aeroplane imitation as he could under the circumstances.

“Ah!” The man’s face lit up, and he beckoned to Bertie, pointing back further down the road.

Bertie stared at him in confusion, whereupon the man took Bertie by the arm in an overfriendly manner and began to lead him down the road.

“What—let go of me!” spluttered Bertie, but his protests fell on deaf ears as the enthusiastic man all but dragged him along, the other three following along close behind them, cutting off any chance of escape.

For perhaps five minutes this curious progression moved forward. Then, abruptly, the man halted and pointed.

Bertie looked.

He was standing a few feet away from the main gate of a fenced-in enclosure, which was guarded by two grim-faced soldiers.

Just beyond the fence were rows of aircraft, monoplanes, of a similar type to the two that had shot him down earlier.

And just beyond the monoplanes was one lone plane, an ancient, but clearly still in workable condition, Lancaster bomber.


6 comments

  1. Hmmm, a good job Bertie has fallen into friendly hands, even if he did crash the plane earlier. I suppose I should be thankful for small mercies.

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  2. But for how long? *evil grin*

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  3. I will be watching............

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  4. In which case I'd better sleep with one eye open...

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  5. The way you are recklessly endangering everyone, you might be safer not sleeping at all, Soppy...

    ReplyDelete
  6. It's not reckless. It's what actually happened. I can't help what actually happened, can I?

    ReplyDelete

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Maira Gall