All Hallows' Eve

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.

“Two no-trumps,” declared Lt. Algy Lacey, laying his cards face down on the table before him as he tilted his chair on its hind legs and stretched out his arms. “I say, chaps,” he added, enthusiastically. “D’you know what day it is tomorrow?”

“No,” said Captain “Biggles” Bigglesworth, who was seated to his left. “What day is it?”

“It’s All Hallows' Eve, of course!”

Biggles paused in the act of arranging his cards to consider the statement. “So it is,” he conceded. “What of it, anyway? Are you planning to knock on General Fishface’s door to ask for some boiled sweets?”

“No,” said Algy promptly. “I thought we could have a bit of a party. Fancy dress and all that sort of thing, you know.”

“That’s an idea,” said Biggles. “We could all dress up as officers of His Majesty’s Flying Corps. Easy costume to find, and appropriate, given the circumstances.” His lips twitched in a half-smile.

“I can tell you who’ll be seeing some boiled sweets tomorrow,” promised Captain Wilkinson, of 287 squadron, who had joined them for an after-supper card game. “I’ve got some gigantic ones earmarked for the lovely Huns at Aerodrome 36. It’s time someone showed them what this war’s all about.”

“You’re all taking this war too seriously!” complained Algy. “What’s wrong with a bit of fun and games once in a while? I wouldn’t mind a spot of toffee as well, to be honest. Our gardener’s wife used to make toffee for All Hallows Eve.”

“For goodness’ sakes, Algy,” said Biggles wearily. “You’re not ten anymore, and there’s a war on. Try to pull yourself together. That’s a harebrained scheme if I ever heard one.”

“Are we finishing this rubber or not?” demanded Mahoney, the fourth occupant of the card table. “I’m up five francs, so personally I don’t mind either way.”

“You’re not getting away so easily,” snapped Biggles. “That’s my five francs you’ve got, and I jolly well want ‘em back.”

Algy picked up his cards again and sighed.

&&&

Algy, having been sent into Amiens to deliver a message for Major Mullen, was whistling as he strode back to the tender. He paused, mid-step, as a shop window caught his eye. “A sweet shop!” he said to himself. “That’s a stroke of luck. I wonder what they have?”

A few minutes later, the pocket of his flying jacket bulging with his new purchases, he got back behind the wheel of the tender and set off for 266 squadron.

He was surprised to find the aerodrome deserted as he pulled up in front of the squadron office. “Where is everyone?” he wondered to himself. Striding briskly towards the sheds, he called to an NCO, “Hi! Flight! Where has everyone gone?”

“Dunno, sir. The CO came running out about a quarter of an hour ago and took everyone with him. Must be some Huns making a nuisance of themselves as usual.”

“Well, of all the cheek!” said Algy indignantly. “They might have waited for me, at least. They knew I was coming back.”

“I think something came in from Wing, sir.”

“Oh, well.” Algy took a sweet out of his pocket and put it thoughtfully into his mouth. “Get my Camel out, will you, Flight? I don’t see why they should have all the fun.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Have some?” Algy dipped into his pocket again and held a handful of brightly colored sweets out to the Flight Sergeant, who dutifully selected one before turning away to attend to Algy’s Camel. “Shan’t be long,” promised Algy, as he clambered into the cockpit. “Just a quick jaunt over the Lines.”

&&&

He crossed the Lines at ten thousand feet, exchanged waves with an SE pilot going home, and flew on towards Mossyface Wood. It was cold in the cockpit, and he instinctively huddled deeper into his flying jacket as he scanned the sky for Huns, or possibly other members of his squadron.

“They can’t have gone that far,” he reasoned. But after five minutes of finding nothing he decided that it was a lost cause. “I’ll give it another five minutes and then I’ll go home,” he concluded. “It’s too cold to be hanging about doing nothing.”

Putting a hand in front of his face, he squinted into the sun, looking for enemy planes. It was so much of a habit for him by now that he was not often conscious of doing it. “Ah ha!” he breathed, as a black speck came into view. “There you are.”

He fired a quick burst to warm his guns, then swung the Camel up in a violent zoom. “Let’s see what you’ll do when your rabbit becomes a fox,” he murmured, a faint grin playing on his lips as his thumb closed over the firing button.

The Albatros—he could see it was an Albatros now—dived down on him, guns spitting double streams of tracer. It overshot him but turned back with lightning speed, guns blazing.

Algy fired, wincing as bullets ripped through his right wing. He felt the Camel lurch abruptly under his hands, rocking like a sailboat in rough seas. Gritting his teeth, he fought to hold the plane steady, even though in his heart he knew that it was a futile attempt at best. He had been shot at too many times not to know what it felt like when a plane was about to crash.

“Well, if I’m going down, someone else is going down with me,” he grated, forcing the Camel to turn towards its attacker, ignoring the whine of protest that rose up from the machine as every wire was stretched to breaking point. He knew that he did not have long; minutes at most before he lost control of the Camel altogether.

Taking the Albatros in his sights, he fired one last, desperate burst.

&&&

The nose of the Albatros jerked violently, an almost sure sign that he had hit the pilot.

But there was no time for self-congratulation; the Camel was falling out of his hands like water through his fingers. Algy snatched a glance at the ground, judging the distance. His own squadron’s aerodrome, and even that of 287 squadron’s, could obviously not be reached. “I should just be able to make it over the Lines, at least,” he thought, with some relief. “Looks like she’s going to be a write-off, though.”

The Camel bumped to a wobbly landing on the uneven ground below, and Algy leapt out of the cockpit even before the wheels had finished their run, the possibility of fire ever present on his mind. And sure enough, seconds after he had stumbled to a safe distance, he turned to see the Camel go up in a sheet of fire behind him with a loud whoomp.

“Strewth!” he breathed, wiping at his brow with his sleeve. “I’m lucky to get out of that! Another second and I’d have been roasted alive!”

He backed away from the heat, which had quickly become quite oppressive, and turned to see a row of Tommies regarding him curiously. “Hullo!” he greeted them. “Sorry about the mess.”

&&&

A corporal appeared behind the row of Tommies. “Are you all right?” he asked, looking Algy over with mild anxiety.

“Yes, thanks.” Some more Tommies, armed with Pyrenes, hurried forward to extinguish the burning Camel. “Did you happen to see what happened to that Albatros I hit? The black-crossed machine?”

“You mean that plane?” The corporal pointed.

Algy stared. It was the Albatros, apparently undamaged, sitting in the middle of the next field, just a few yards away. He started forward curiously, the corporal and several Tommies at his heels.

They approached the plane warily. “Do you have a spare gun?” asked Algy, in a whisper. Without a word, the corporal pressed an army pistol into his hand. Algy pointed the muzzle of the gun steadily at the cockpit of the Hun machine. “Any of you speak German?” he whispered.

“No.”

“Never mind. We’ll have to try English then.” Raising his voice, he called out, “All right, Jerry! Come out of that! We’ve got you surrounded!”

There was no reply or movement from the plane.

Algy took a step toward the plane, but was halted by the corporal. “Sir—”

“I’ll take a look. Have your boys ready to shoot if he tries anything.”

Algy strode purposefully to the plane and swung himself up. One glance was enough. The pilot was dead. He had the corporal and two Tommies lift the man out of his seat.

“We’ll handle it from here, sir,” said the corporal, who had obviously dealt with such things before. “Will you need a car to take you back?”

Algy was looking at the Albatros thoughtfully. “Actually, I think I’d like to fly back,” he said slowly, the seeds of an idea forming in his mind.

“Sir?”

“Someone’s got to take it to Wing, anyway,” continued Algy, warming to his theme. “It might as well be me. I’ll fly it back to my squadron—266—and have the RO ring up Wing from there. No doubt they’ll send someone over for it.”

“If you’re sure, sir.” The corporal looked doubtful.

Algy clapped him on the shoulder. “Leave it to me. Here.” He dug in the pocket of his jacket and produced some sweets. “Have some?”

&&&

There were several things that had been in Algy’s mind when he had offered to fly the Albatros back to his own squadron, the main one being curiosity. It was rare for a British pilot to have the opportunity to examine a German plane at close quarters, especially one that was intact and in relatively workable condition.

He clambered into the cockpit and preoccupied himself with the controls for several minutes before taking off. “It’s not so bad,” he concluded to himself, after a minute or so in the air.

Algy was about to set a course for 266 when a sudden thought struck him. He would be passing quite close to 287 squadron, and no doubt the pilots there would be more than interested in his new acquisition. “Old Wilks will be tickled to death by this,” he murmured to himself, with a faint grin. “He’ll be hopping mad none of his boys managed to bring a Hun down so neatly.” He glanced at the dial of his luminous watch. “I’ve plenty of time before supper, and anyway, who even knows if the others are back yet.”

He settled back in his seat and made for 287 squadron.

&&&

It took a few minutes before his destination came into sight. “They seem to be getting awfully excited about something,” he observed, somewhat doubtfully, seeing the tiny ant-like figures below rushing to and fro. “Anyone would think they’d seen a Hun coming in to bomb their aerodrome.”

Extraordinary as it may sound, he had momentarily forgotten the fact that he was flying an Albatros, not his usual Camel, and so it was with the greatest astonishment that he veered wildly out of the way as the airmen below began firing on him.

“What the dickens!” Algy’s thumb instinctively closed over his guns, only to pause as he remembered who it was that was firing at him. “For goodness sakes! These poor skates have odd ways of expressing their humor,” he growled to himself, as a shell burst just under his wing, making the plane rock violently from side to side.

The truth did not dawn on him gradually. Rather, it burst upon him like a match bursting into flame. “Dash it! They think I’m a Hun because I’m flying this kite! I didn’t think of that. Better get out of this.”

But even as he began to ease the machine away from the danger zone, the daredevil in him rebelled. “I don’t see why they should have it all their own way, anyway!” he snapped in annoyance, diving back down. “Take that, you hound, and that!”

“That” was a series of well-aimed humbugs, scattered one-handedly as he held the plane steady with the other hand. Algy started to laugh at the expressions of outrage on the airmen’s faces as they were pelted with the sweets. Wilks, who had the misfortune to catch one of the makeshift bullets between his teeth, spat it out instantly and staggered away from it with such a look of horror on his face that Algy could not help throwing back his head and roaring with laughter despite the desperate situation he was in.

Pandemonium reigned for several minutes as the occupants of the aerodrome rushed about, trying to avoid the falling sweets while at the same time trying to get in shots of their own at the Albatros in their midst.

“Better go while the going’s good,” decided Algy. It was a miracle that nothing had damaged the machine yet, although the longer he stayed, the smaller the chance he had of remaining airborne. “Just one more thing.”

Swinging low just in front of Captain Wilkinson of 287 squadron, he lowered his goggles and thumbed his nose in the time-honored tradition before making his getaway back to his own aerodrome, still chuckling.

&&&

The aerodrome of his own squadron soon came into view, and it was with no small satisfaction that he made for it like a homing pigeon. “I wonder if the others are back yet,” he murmured to himself, with a faint smile. “They’ll be surprised to see this.”

Some sudden instinct made him turn. The sight that greeted him nearly made his heart stop. A cluster of Camels were bearing down on him, like a pack of hounds chasing down a fox.

Algy grated out an expletive through set teeth, frantically shifting the rudder bar from left to right as the first bullets began to fly. He was horribly aware of how vulnerable a position he was in, but as he had no other alternative, he began hedge-hopping desperately, racing for the aerodrome, never staying on the same course for more than a second or two.

Bullets thudded into his wings. He winced as the windshield shattered in front of him, and then winced again as a bullet passed uncomfortably close to his nose.

“Dash this for a fool’s game!”

He kept close to the ground, knowing this was likely to deter most of the pilots behind him from getting in too close for fear of overshooting their mark and running themselves into the dirt.

However, there was always one pilot more daring than most, and Algy groaned aloud as he twisted his head back and saw the solitary Camel diving down on him like some bizarre avenging angel. He recognized it easily. “It’s Biggles, of course it is. He always likes to go one step further than everyone else,” he growled bitterly to himself, at the same time imagining, with grim amusement, the horror Biggles would no doubt feel when he discovered that he had shot down his best friend.

The Camels behind him were redoubling their attack, no doubt anxious to prevent the Albatros from bombing their aerodrome. The lone Camel that was Biggles was all but destroying Algy’s tail unit. It was a wonder he was even flying at all, now. The only thing holding the Albatros together seemed to be the will of the pilot.

Of all the landings Algy had made, this was definitely the most spectacular. He skidded into a cross-wind landing, making most, if not all, of the mistakes that turn the hair of FTS instructors gray. The Albatros finished its run just an inch in front of the sheds. Algy could see NCOs running towards him, brandishing weapons of all descriptions, shouting as they went.

Wearily, he clambered out of the Albatros and dropped limply to the ground beside it. His legs felt as though they had turned to water. His hands were shaking so badly that he found he could not reach for his cigarette case.

A boot nudged him in the leg. “Here, you!” snapped a familiar voice. “Get your hands where I can see ‘em. And don’t try any funny business. I’ve got a gun pointed at your head.”

“Shut up, Biggles.”

It was one of the rare occasions when Biggles seemed at a complete loss for words. “What—how—why--?” he spluttered. “Why in the name of all that’s holy are you flying a German kite into our squadron?” he demanded, when he had finally regained the power of speech. “And where did you get it, anyway?”

“I shot it down just over our side of the Lines and thought I’d bring it home because it shot down my Camel,” explained Algy, talking as if he were speaking to a small child with limited intelligence. “I thought you’d like to see it. Fat lot of gratitude you lot showed.”

“Well, we weren’t to know it was you, were we?” retorted Biggles. Then, after a grudging pause. “Are you all right?”

“No, and I don’t think I’ll ever be again. Strewth! The way you all came down on top of me like a load of bricks! I’ll be having nightmares about it!” Algy wiped limply at his brow, then reached into his pocket with shaking hands. He didn’t find his cigarette case, but he found something almost as good: the packet of sweets he had purchased in Amiens, somewhat depleted, which was not surprising considering all that it had been through. “Have some?”

“Where in the world did you get these?”

“Amiens.” He would have said more, but just at that moment a tender pulled up in front of the squadron office and stopped. The driver’s door opened, and Captain Wilkinson jumped out.

&&&

“Where’s that fathead Biggles?” demanded Wilks of an NCO, in ringing tones that were meant to carry.

Biggles, hidden in the shadow of the sheds, exchanged a quick look with Algy. “What have I done now?” he muttered peevishly. “I don’t remember playing any tricks on the SE crowd lately. Well, better see what he wants before Mullen gets wind of it.” Ignoring Algy’s strangled cry of protest, he got to his feet and strolled unhurriedly towards the tender. “What’s the matter, Wilks?”

“What’s the matter?” sneered Wilks. “As if you didn’t already know. Sending Algy over in the Albatros to throw humbugs at us! I suppose that’s your idea of a joke! Do you know how many bullets we wasted on that little game of yours?”

Not by one flicker of his eyelids did Biggles betray his surprise, or indeed, his amusement. “If your crowd would learn to shoot you wouldn’t have wasted any bullets,” he retorted coolly.

“Oh, I say! Did you hear that, chaps?” Wilks turned to his two fellow pilots for support. “He’s blaming us for this! You’re lucky that Sharp is on leave; if he’d been on the aerodrome you wouldn’t be here now.”

“It wasn’t his idea, it was mine,” came a voice from behind them.

Wilks turned and glared at the new arrival to the conversation. “It was your idea, was it?” he snapped, glaring at the rather pale-faced Algy. “Somehow that doesn’t surprise me in the least! What sort of game do you think you’re playing at? You could have gotten yourself killed!”

“Shot down by your crowd?” said Algy, with the faint beginnings of a grin. “There was very little chance of that! I’d shot the Hun down near Mossyface Wood, although he’d managed to shoot me down just a bit before I shot him down, so I decided to borrow his machine to come home in. It seemed appropriate, given the circumstances. Anyway, it is All Hallows' Eve, isn’t it? I thought we were going to dress up.”

Wilks spluttered helplessly, opening and closing his mouth like some sort of oversized goldfish. “You mean all this…rigmarole…was all to satisfy your pathetic need to dress up for All Hallows Eve?”

“You’re not supposed to dress up and hand out sweets, in any case,” broke in Parker, also of 287 squadron. “You either do one or the other, not both.”

“I would have only done one if you lot had undertaken to do the other,” retorted Algy. “It’s your own fault for belittling my ideas.”

Our fault?” Wilks’ voice rose shrilly. “Our fault?”

“All right,” interrupted Biggles, seeing that the conversation was likely to end in blows, “since you’re here you might as well stay to supper…”

“Like to get a dekko at the Albatros?” inquired Algy, with a mischievous grin.

Wilks wavered on the edge of curiosity and rage. “Oh, all right, go on then,” he said finally, with a feigned lack of interest. “Show us your little conquest.”

“Right this way.” Algy led the way to the sheds. Halfway there, he dug a hand into his pocket and pulled out the bag of sweets. “Want some?”

THE END

6 comments

  1. Replies
    1. Thank you, Kismet. Glad you enjoyed it :)

      Delete
  2. I really enjoyed this touch of light-heartedness, Soppy. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So glad you liked it, FB. This was posted several forums back, so you might have read it before...?

      Delete
  3. Haha, I just read this and enjoyed it too. One of the more hair-raising ideas Algy has had. Can't think if he, Biggles or Wilks has been more traumatized by the end of this story!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I imagine all of them in equal measure, although since they all do ridiculous things to each other I should think that they're mostly used to it...?

      Delete

While you are free to post comments anonymously, you are encouraged to use the Name/URL option to post so that your comment will not be filtered out as spam.

© The Algy Chronicles
Maira Gall