Copenhagen, Summer 1940
Christian Nielsen walked along the pavement, careful not to attract attention. He looked about, slyly, to ensure no one was watching then slid down a narrow gateway to a backyard leaving behind the bustling sunny streets of Copenhagen.
He looked back at the light in the street before entering yet another backyard and turning toward the entrance to the basements.
So much had happened these last few moths. If one took a look at the streets one would not notice at first, it was a bright sunny day, people were out shopping, the stores still sold the latest dresses. He shook his head, it was in all the little details one should find the change. There were fewer cars on the streets now, more bicycles.
He smiled bitterly, yet still people didn’t see what was happening, already some things were hard to get, he tapped his pocket, the cigarettes were still there, but he refused to light one, they would have to last. He could still buy some, but soon, soon it would be over. Soon silk fashion from Paris would be unattainable to anyone but a select few, soon tobacco and petrol would be a memory only to the majority. And yet, they seemed not to care.
His mind drifted back to the street he had left as he descended the steep concrete stair into the basement. There were more visible sign of the changes. On the corner, on the corners of many streets, where people suddenly chose the other side of the street, where a large vacuum suddenly opened up. There they where.
He reached up and pressed the light, a dim bulb on the far end of the corridor blinked to life and he started out towards it.
They just stood there, silent, courteous, not doing anything, but they were there nonetheless. In their impeccable uniforms. He shook his head sadly, and fished a key out of his pocket. Bending over he opened a wooden door to one of the storage rooms of the apartments above. Retrieving a brown parcel he quickly secured the door again and moved further into the basement.
He edge by a few old baby carriage and turned right at an intersection, his had softly touching the bulb making it swing slightly sending strange shadows across the floor and walls. They just stood there, the German soldiers. He ground his teeth unwittingly at the thought as he started up another set of stairs. Denmark had been invaded in the spring, and as the dog she was she had rolled over at the first sign of fight. He opened the door and exited out into yet another backyard were the sun never came.
His shoulders trembled slightly as he clenched his hands at the thought crossing the deep shadows towards the gateway. He couldn’t in honesty blame the military for not fighting. A few had fought and died before the order to cease fighting came, but truly, truly the nation would not have stood a chance.
He stopped in the gateway and took a deep breath before putting his hands on heavy door pushing it open. Surely the mines in the belts and harbours would have prolonged the fight and needless blood would be spilled. He could not blame the army, not even the government for surrendering. He sighed; he could blame the politicians, the Social Democrats for ten years of not preparing for what he and a few others had seen as inevitable, for not setting aside money for the army.
He entered another backyard, this one just as gloomy though the houses that shielded the nice early summer sun were more upscale. He shook his head in sadness for those few that had tried to oppose the Germans in Sønderjylland, armed with machine guns, bicycles, and outdated light field guns had they attempted to stop the Germans and defended their headquarters and barracks.
He exited unto a more quiet street than the one he had left, four hundred meters as the crows flies, or as the man who knows the shortcuts walks he thought wryly, but a long roundabout for those not aware of the connecting yards and basements.
He was so caught up in his gloomy thoughts that he accidentally bumped into a man passing by, almost dropping the parcel, he hefted the heavy pack in the last minute before it slipped from his grasp and mumbled an apology, hurrying along the street, berating himself for his carelessness.
He quickly turned a corner then another and opened the front door of an innocuous looking apartment building bounding up the steps and locking him self in. The air in the apartment was stuffy and stale with the sun beating on the high windows all day. He placed the heave parcel on the small table and shrug of his grey coat hanging it neatly on a hanger before scurrying through the rooms looking for telltale signs and opening the windows.
Finally coming to rest in his small office he allowed a deep breath and a moments rest. Nobody had been here since he left, he was being paranoid they would not be looking for him yet, no not yet. He was missing from duty, and as such a refugee, but doubted anyone would report it, some might know why he was gone, some might guess, but none of those would report it. At least he hoped so.
He leaned back and sat a few moments with his eyes closed. Finally he sighed deeply and went to get the package in the small hallway. Picking it up he hoped everything would be inside he had asked for. He felt the familiar shape and weight, smiling humourlessly he knew that something he had asked for was there.
Back in the office he set the package on the table with a low thud, staring for a long moment at the brown paper reluctant to open it. He left it one the table and went through the rooms once more undoing his tie and opening his shirt he ended up in the kitchen. Leaning on the table he looked across the roofs of Copenhagen. He would have to decide, and soon, would he be like the others, abiding by the commands, docilely submit, or hopefully biding their time or should he act, follow his instincts and his heart?
He straightened up, his decision made, he opened the icebox and pulled out a Tuborg, and opening it he took a long pull and strode purposefully towards the office. Setting the bottle on the table he pulled out his pocketknife and in one swift motion cut the string holding the package together. He quickly flipped open the brown paper revealing a number of smaller packs wrapped in newspaper. Berlingske from the day before yesterday he noted absentmindedly. He pocketed the knife and took another pull of the beer, then almost casually he picked up the largest package weighing it slightly in his hand before unwrapping it.
Unwrapping it he looked at the content for a while without moving, as if the opening of the package, releasing the contents into his hands had somehow sealed his fate, decided the course of his life to be.
He set the content on the table, careful to have the paper beneath the slightly oily surface. A gun, standard army issue, the heavy steel shining dully on the table in the light from the window.
Finally he grabbed the handle sending a familiar feeling through his fingers and he quickly operated the bolt securing the gun and checking no bullet was chambered before setting it down again. He quickly unwrapped the remaining packets; spare clips, a few packets of ammunition, and gun oil, all you needed to keep the gun at ready.
He drained the beer, and quickly wrapped the packets again tying a knot where he in his haste had cut the string. Leaving the parcel on the table he stood on a chair and removed a number of book from the high cases that covered the walls, behind then a small panel appeared almost in line with the wall, unnoticeable by the casual observer, even with the books gone. Prying it open he lifted the parcel up to rest behind another similar shaped box. He smiled as he saw it, the official gun, the one he would have to hand over if they came to claim it.
Restoring the books to their previous place he looked about the room. First step accomplished, now he had time to spare, waiting time, nothing would happen until he was ready. Nothing he could control at least.