The Woman in Red: 17. The raid
It was in the middle of the night. The night that followed the day Jean-Pierre had thrown his life upside down. He dreamt he was walking on a white beach, just above the high water mark. Shells and seaweed as long fingers were witnesses of the tides. The warmth of the sun scorched his naked shoulders. Suddenly he felt the earth shaking.
Then he woke up and looked in Katarina’s startled eyes who was shaking him. ‘Come, quick. We have to hurry. The General left us a message there would be a police raid. Put on your clothes quickly. We have to escape to another place.’
Jean-Pierre’s eyes look was very surprised. Just not fully awake, he wondered what this all meant. A raid on the castle. Then his brains began to function again. Obviously the authorities weren’t too happy about the successful activity of the Baroness and her companionship. The fear and panic jumped over upon Jean-Pierre. How should he explain his presence? They probably had seen him together with Katarina. He wasn't here against his will. No, if he didn't want to do jail time, he had to go with Katarina.
After he had dressed, Katarina took the escape route through the secret panel in the wall. She pushed a hidden lever in the corridor, and the entrance closed again. Lit by a bar-shaped lamp, they hurried away using the passage. It didn't take long before they saw a long stair down in front of them.
‘This way,’ Katarina whispered. It wasn’t an easy job with her stiletto heels to take this obstacle, but obviously it wasn’t her first time. Even faster than Jean-Pierre, she went down the stairs. It was a lot cooler at the bottom. Jean-Pierre noticed the underground and the walls existed of solid earth supported by massive rafters. Here they had to walk beneath the surface.
Katarina stopped for a moment putting her finger on her lips, a sign to Jean-Pierre he had to be silent. 'I hear nothing, we have escaped. Come with me, this corridor leads to an open place in the woods where we'll find ourselves on ground level again.
It was an unrealistic picture. Two of them, under the ground, scarcely lighted and walking half bent because the corridor was less high here. Jean-Pierre felt quite uncomfortable. It made him think of a war movie he had seen about people of the resistance who undertook actions behind enemy lines. However, he didn’t feel like such a hero. Maybe the police were waiting for them in the woods, and they would shoot at them. They used real bullets, not props.
Katarina reached the end of the corridor where a little step ladder led to a double sided lid with a padlock on of which she, fortunately, possessed the key. She pushed both halves of the cover open, and Jean-Pierre smelt the green of the forest. It was very dark because of the dense clouds. The moon now and then shined through the cloud cover and at that time he saw they had arrived at an open place in the forest.
‘And now what?’ Jean-Pierre asked in a loud voice. Probably the fear talking, however Katarina didn’t pay attention to it. She apparently thought it was safe. Otherwise, she should remind him to stay silent.
‘About five hundred meters from here, there’s a road. The General actually should have taken care to leave a car there..., in any case that's what I hope. Otherwise, we have to walk at least five kilometers until we reach the next village.' She removed her shoes and walked barefoot through the wood. Jean-Pierre looked very surprised at her. That must feel painful to her feet. Katarina didn't complain and was almost out of sight. Jean-Pierre rapidly followed her. He didn't want to be left alone on this dark place.
Indeed, after five hundred meters they were on that road. However, there was no sign of the car Katarina had mentioned. Therefore, they couldn’t but walk to the next village. Not an adventure without a risk, Jean-Pierre suspected. The police would have a search for them when they realized the birds had flown.
After a five minutes’ walk, they heard a grumbling behind them. Two lights in the distance indicated a car was approaching.
‘Quickly, here behind the bushes,’ Katarina yelled while she ran away after the shrubbery at the roadside followed by Jean-Pierre. With trembling knees feeling their heart beating in their throat, they sat there, bent in their hiding-place, waiting till the car had passed.
The black passenger car stopped a bit farther from the spot they were hiding. A man with a hat left the car and looked around. 'Hey, where are you, the General sent me. I've seen you on the road, come out. I know you're there somewhere.'
‘Katarina and Jean-Pierre were both relieved. Bruised by branches and berry bushes where they were hiding behind, they left their refuge. ‘Here we are,’ Katarina shouted and waved at their rescuer.
The man turned around and then Katarina recognized him. ‘Jacques? Is it truly you, what are you doing here? I thought you were…, dead?