The disconnected rear car slowly trailed behind. Then stopped. Pavel noticed three men disembark and scurry across the tracks and disappear behind a brick building. He sighed with relief. When the explosion occurred, the blast reverberated throughout the coaches. Passengers howled in fear. Railway personnel rushed to calm them. Shards of debris rained down on the roofs of the railcars. But the train continued into the Warsaw station. He along with others peered through the windows along the length of the train toward its rear. Blackened red-orange flames baked the disquieted air. Finally, he and the likes of him are in hell.
“Is he dead?” Captain Hall asked.
“I don’t know,” Queenie replied. “I really don’t know! But I can say for certain that Werner identified Vaclav.” She slumped back in her seat in silence.
Eyes watered-up, Elsa clung to Richard.
“Whose smart idea was that?” Richard glared at Pavel. “It put a lot of unintended lives at risk. Wasn’t it to occur beyond Warsaw to minimize that possibility?”
“Did you not hear what Queenie just said?” Captain Hall sat beside Queenie and put her arm around her. “My bet is that Vaclav had no choice.”
The coach door slid open and two railway personnel entered. They beelined to Pavel and pulled him aside.
Grouped together, some of Elsa’s family, terrified and shaken, made their way toward them.
When the two men left, Pavel motioned for Captain Hall to join him.
“You appear troubled.” She caressed his forearm.
“I am. Our plans have changed dramatically,” he whispered. I hope my contact has something more solid than I do at the moment. “Germany invaded Poland along a larger front and scale than expected. Several Polish towns have already felt the bite from air raids”
Captain Hall pressed her lips together and sighed.
“Hey! What’s going on?” Richard disentangled himself from Elsa and her family and joined them. “Looks like some serious business is going on between you two.” Behind him, the others became attentive.
I need a moment to regroup. “Richard. Please.” Pavel turned his back to him and stepped away.
“Richard! Wait!” Captain Hall said. “Give him time to think it through. You and the others will know soon enough.” Pavel faced the group. “Germany began air and land action against Westerplatte, a Polish munitions base, in Danzig harbor, at 5 a.m. this morning. The invasion is along a wide front. Germans already occupy Rybnik, Teschen, and Frystat. They’ve also reached the suburbs of Katowice and have cut communications between Katowice and Crakow. According to the men who just left, further train travel cannot occur without permission from authorities.”
“When are the Germans expected to strike Warsaw?” an elderly man in the group asked.
Pavel drew in a deep breath. “Air raids are expected in this area shortly after dawn.”
“And the train station…won’t it be a target?” asked another in the group.
Elsa screamed out. “Surely, we can get permission?”
“I understand your concern. I can see it in all of your faces,” Pavel said. “But permission is extremely difficult. All officials are occupied with mobilization. But there...