Dramatic historical fiction based on the Manhattan Project to develop the atom bomb in WW2
After Brandt had gained the confidence of his interrogator by exploiting both his boyish looks and the Brits’ disdain for Americans, he found to his surprise that the young lieutenant assigned to oversee his case was an Irish Republican Army spy in the British Army. “We Irish consider the British to be oppressive occupiers. We were eager for them to lose the war,” revealed Sean O’Malley, who was hiding in the British MI6 intelligence agency under the name of Eric Baker. Incredibly, Brandt learned during their conversations that O’Malley was the man who had revealed to the German Abwehr intelligence service the secret information that Brant had received from his superior.
But only after he befriended O’Malley did Brandt find out that he had not, in fact, been privy to the full scope of information that the Abwehr had on the Allies.
“Well, yes, that’s a general outline,” O’Malley had dismissed after Brant relayed what he knew about the Allies’ program. O’Malley had paused, lit a cigarette, and stared at the glowing end for a few seconds. He took a dramatic Humphrey Bogart drag, tilted his head up and to the side, and blew smoke out the corner of his mouth. He continued: “But I gave the Abwehr full details on the uranium separation work at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, the plutonium project at Hanford, Washington, and the bomb-building lab in Los Alamos, New Mexico.”
Brandt had built rapport with O’Malley by mimicking his smoking habits and throwing in an occasional: “Bloody Brits,” or: “Yanks rot in hell, I say,” in response to the Irishman’s revelations, keeping him spilling priceless secrets. O’Malley eventually regaled him with every facet of the Allies’ nuclear program. As Brandt had skillfully swung the role of inquisitor from O’Malley to himself, his mind hummed with the possibilities. This information would be extremely valuable to the Soviets. And probably to my survival as well.
And then, when the moment was right, he’d run off with all of that information in his head. Its value to the Soviets was his only chance of ever profiting from his long, hard years of being a virtual slave for the Nazi war effort. Of German heritage, but born on Polish soil, he’d been treated as tainted. Poland was the first country subjected to the Nazi blitzkrieg, and Hitler had special hatred for the Poles. Brandt knew he’d have been imprisoned or killed by the Nazis if not for his brilliance.
Now, as Brandt sat in the stately mansion with Mirov, Rikov, and Churkin, he knew that his Polish background was also a liability with them, since the Soviets were second only to the Nazis in their brutality toward Poles. That’s one detail I’ll never divulge, no matter what they do to me, he hoped.
Brandt’s mind re-focused on the present when Mirov stood and walked over to stare out the window. The colonel put his hands on his hips. “It seems everyone in the world has been looking for you. Ever since April when your lab in Hechingen was taken by the Americans,” He turned and offered a stiff smile. Stepping around behind Brandt, he laid both hands on his shoulders and gave a couple of pats. “You must be very crafty, but probably just lucky.”
“I’d rather be lucky than good,” Brandt replied, to the hearty chuckles of Mirov and Churkin.
Rikov, however, shot back a look of death. He heaved his great bulk from his chair and exploded in staccato Russian. Flying flecks of saliva glistened in the streaming sunlight. Colonel Mirov lunged and caught him by the collar just in time.
The colonel turned around in front of Brandt, bent forward, and glowered into his face so close that Brandt could feel his body heat. “Well, I do believe that you are very lucky. And today may be your luckiest day ever.” He spun on the ball of his foot and strode back to his seat. He stared at Brandt. “I can tell when a man is lying by looking into his eyes! I can tell when he is even thinking about lying. Did you know that?”
“I c-can... it would n-not surprise me, sir,” Brant stuttered.
“What would surprise you then?” Mirov toyed with his prey.
Brandt sat in panic, not knowing what to say. He didn’t even know whether to maintain eye contact or look away, finally staring at the floor.
“Hmmmm, it seems nothing would surprise you, then.”
As Brandt opened his mouth, Mirov cut him off: “Well, I’ll tell you what would surprise me, and that is if our bumbling Berlin Station Chief actually captured you. That lout couldn’t find his ass with three hands,” he said with rising anger. “I checked his story this morning, and he wasn’t even in Rostock the day he said he caught you there.”
Brandt jumped up like a boy just offered a puppy. He dropped back down when Rikov sprang from his seat. “Yes!” Brandt agreed. “He didn’t catch me anywhere! I walked in his office and gave up.” He leaned far forward in his chair, gripping the armrests behind him, eyes shifting from Rikov to Churkin, then settling on Mirov. “I couldn’t imagine being on the run the rest of my life. I have a wife and kids. What I know is of no use to Germany. Why try to protect it?” Then he leaned back and lied: “If those capitalist pigs got ahold of an atomic bomb, they’d try to take over the world. Far better that my genius helps a country like Russia that values equality over power and greed.”