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back at his office in the Safety Equipment Development Section near the front
of the plant. "Where've you
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ration.txt been?" Franz, one of his colleagues, asked from the next desk.
"Have you heard the news?"
"What news?"
"There's some kind of security flap going on. The SS are here checking all the
gates.
Instructions are to stay put. That's what the sirens were about. Didn't you
hear them?"
"Oh, I thought that was a drill. Any messages?"
"Your wife called."
"Okay." Knacke sat down at his desk and dialed an internal number.
A few seconds later a girl's voice answered, "Works personnel office."
"Is Marga Knacke there, please?"
"Just a moment."
Gustav drummed his fingers nervously on the desk. A few seconds went by that
seemed like forever. Then Marga said, "Hello?"
"Gustav."
Marga's voice dropped. "What's happening? You've heard the news?"
"Yes. But they're having their picnic, anyway-a change of plan, I gather. If
Erich calls again, tell him they're supplying their own things."
"Yes, all right. I hope the weather stays fine."
"So do I. Must go."
"Take care."
Knacke rose, picked up the sack again, and walked on throu~h the office to the
laboratory area beyond. One of the technicians was working at a bench in the
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room where the oxygen rebreather units were kept. Knacke fussed around with a
test assembly across the room for a minute or two, and then sent the
technician on an errand. With the room empty, Knacke stripped one of the units
off the dummy head and torso on which it was assembled, took the other unit
down from where it was hanging on the wall, and bundled them into his sack,
along with some of the oxygen bottles from the shelf above.
Then he went out into the passageway again and reached the storage rooms at
the rear, where he closed the door behind him and began checking the closets.
As he recalled from some tests he'd been involved in once, there ought to be
several of the olderstyle gas masks here somewhere-
the type used in the Great War, with concertina tubing running down to a
filtration pack worn above the hip. He needed only three in addition to the
two oxygen units, since it had been decided in a hasty conference that
"Cricketer" wouldn't be going down the shaft because of the condition of his
leg; instead, he would remain at the shaft head as a rear guard to cover the
way out. The
Americans still thought they had a chance of getting out-or at least, that was
what they had told
Knacke. He was through arguing. He stuffed the three masks and a spare into
the sack, added a box of clean filter inserts, and then moved around a rack of
storage shelves to the back of the room and opened the window
Cassidy was standing in a doorway on the opposite side of the yard below. A
sentry had been posted a short distance away at the end of the building, but
he was facing the other way and watching the roadway. Cassidy stepped quickly
out, nodding up at the window. Knacke tossed down the sack. Cassidy caught it
and walked away. After closing the window, Knacke went out of the room, walked
downstairs, and left the building by a back door. On his return to the waste
plant, he made a detour to borrow a dolly from one of the materials stores,
and used it to pick up a couple of empty oil drums.
Ferracini and Payne were inside the brick hexagon, waiting to open the inner,
steel shaft-
head chamber, when Cassidy returned with the oxygen units and masks. They had
changed their regular clothes for oiled boilersuits, balaclavas, and woolens
put on over a thick layer of grease. A hose had been run outside from one of
the valves on the chamber wall to bleed off the excess pressure before they
removed the cover. Ferracini was making a sounding line from a copper float
stolen from a men's room and some cord knotted at measured intervals with the
aid of the tape from Lamson's toolbox.
The clothing and grease, along with several hand-lamps and seemingly miles of [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]