Disclaimer: The characters of Mel Pappas and Janice Covington are the property of Renaissance Pictures and MCA/Universal and are used without permission. This is a work of fan fiction and there is no intention (or possibility) of profiting from the writing of this story.
Warning: This story contains some violence. The relationship between the two main characters is "subtextual." There is no graphic sex..
The young boy, tall and gawky, appeared perched both on the edge of manhood and on the edge of his seat. His Uncle Mischa reached over and pulled the boy's ear. "Go, Herschel. See if our auntie will come down now."
Herschel didn't need to be given a second opportunity. He leaped up the open
stairway, then paused outside a closed door to smooth the coat of his new black
suit and to make sure his red, white, and blue tie was straight. A quick check
that the ever-present cowlick at the back of his part was
under control, and he was ready to knock. He did so gently, two times, and then listened. Nothing. Shyly, he pushed the door open just enough to peak in. He saw the woman Uncle Mischa called "auntie." She was sitting upright in the armchair beside the guestroom bed. Her eyes were closed.
The boy cleared his throat. She didn't stir. Hesitating to do more to wake her, he studied this woman his family held in such awe. Although to a boy of thirteen, her forty-some years qualified her as ancient, he noticed that her black hair held no gray, and her pale skin few wrinkles. He knew that she was very tall, towering even over Uncle Mischa. His father referred to her as "a real beauty," and even Herschel could see that this was probably true. He cleared his throat one more time and, when she slept on, he backed through the door and closed it gently. He walked down the stairs to look into the clear gray eyes of his uncle.
"Is Auntie coming down?" he asked.
"No, Uncle," the boy answered. "She's sleeping."
The older man nodded. "Probably tired from her long flight from Turkey.
She needs to rest, but it seems there's always one more dig to visit, one more
inscription to translate, one more course to teach. I was hoping she would come
down to watch the inauguration with us. Oh, well, she'll see
the new president tomorrow when he gives her the prize."
The boy stepped off the last step and realized, with a start, that his eyes were almost level with his uncle's. "Will we all really get to see the president?"
"Yes." Mischa seemed to realize also that his nephew had overtaken him in height. At thirteen, the "boy" truly was a man. "The award is from our people, but the first Irish Catholic president will present it. That seems fitting, don't you think?"
A woman's voice called, "He's about to take the oath of office. Better hurry. Oh, isn't Jackie's outfit beautiful! What a lady!"
"We're coming, Rachel." With a smile, Mischa put his arm around his nephew's shoulders and walked with him into the apartment's living room.
Mel was looking down upon red-gold hair, bright despite the lack of sun. The
eyes that met hers held concern. "Mel, are you all right? Snap out of it."
A lorry passed, and Janice grasped the sleeve of the taller woman's coat and
tugged her back onto the curb. "We're supposed to be at the
Ministry at 9:00 a.m, and it's almost that now." When her friend continued to stare at her, Janice asked again, "Are you all right?"
"I'm fine." Mel found herself smiling, not sure of the reason for her distraction.
"Mel, I know you wake up slow, but this is ridiculous." Janice turned her attention to the grim-looking brick building across the quiet, London street. She stepped off the curb again and, when Mel didn't follow her, pulled her across, this time brooking no hesitation.
"I woke up with a bad feeling about this meeting," Mel explained.
"Don't you feel all this is kind of unusual?"
Janice spoke carefully. "Early this morning, as usual, I left our hotel and had a breakfast of bangers and potatoes and came back to wake you up. As usual, you protested until I offered a little cold water to help you along. Then you got up, dressed in that cute red number you're hiding beneath that blanket of a coat. . . ."
"This fog is cold. Besides, you're wearing work pants, a leather jacket, and that old hat to keep you warm."
"Fog is just moisture. It isn't cold," Janice corrected automatically
before continuing. "Then we walked here to keep our appointment with Mr.
Ranscomb and see what the devil he wants from us. With me having to practically
drag you to get you to keep up. As usual. Why, when your legs
are almost half again as long as mine, you can't keep up. . . ." Her voice trailed off as Mel's usual gentle gaze turned to a glare.
"What's unusual is this appointment itself. Why would we be invited to meet with a man you call the boss of spies?" She arched an eyebrow in suspicion. "Are you sure you don't know what he wants from us?"
Janice shook her head. "Not a glimmer. How about you?"
"I have a pretty good idea," Mel admitted and stopped. Janice waited, her hand on the tarnished doorknob of the Ministry. "I think we're going to be asked to do something dangerous. And I think we should say no."
"Even if we're given a chance to help the war effort?" Janice asked.
"Even then. Let someone else do it, someone trained, not us. Not you." Her soft voice and gentle face carried a determination that impressed her friend.
"Well, let's hear Ranscomb out. He probably just has a question about some archaeological site or something." She laughed to break the tension. "To bomb or not to bomb, that is the question."
It was Mel who reached out this time, tugging on the worn leather of Janice's jacket. "I mean it. Whatever he wants, say no. If you care about me. If you want us to stay together."
Mel knew she had gone too far when her friend's face settled into its familiar stubborn lines. "I'll do what's right." She pulled away and, as she neared the door of the building, she said gruffly over her shoulder. "Don't ever use our relationship to control me. It won't work."
Tears springing to her eyes, Mel hurried to catch up. The dreary interior hallway perfectly matched her mood.
Ranscomb, always the gentleman, stood as the two women were shown into his
office. He motioned them to the two straight-backed chairs opposite his desk
and sat only after they did. Mel noticed that the other occupant of the room,
a man who wore civilian clothes but with the posture of a
soldier, stood beside a wall map to the right of the desk and did not sit or acknowledge their presence. Janice focused all of her attention on Ranscomb.
"Are you enjoying the city, Dr. Covington, Miss Pappas? I believe this
is your second or third visit since the war started." Ranscomb was a nervous
man, nondescript, seeming like what he was not, a minor functionary in an unimportant
ministry of the British bureaucracy. He was a pale man dressed
all in brown. Thinning hair. High voice with a public school accent. A small man working in a shabby office in a depressing building.
Janice had discussed Ranscomb with her stepfather and knew him to be a man of unbelievable power, the power of life and death over thousands, maybe millions, as he and his department gathered and dispensed intelligence across western and southern Europe. This powerful man was now offering tea. "All I can offer, I'm afraid," he apologized.
"No, thank you," Mel answered but Janice glanced at her, surprised by the edge in her voice, as if the polite Southerner already disliked this man.
Tearing her eyes away, she said, "Maybe you could tell us why we're here."
Ranscomb nodded. "To the point. I was told to expect that." Before Janice could ask who his informant was, he gestured toward the standing man. "Brinton will fill you in."
Brinton's expression indicated he considered this a waste of time, but he pointed
to a section of the map and explained, "This, as you probably know, is
Rumania." He said it as if he doubted they knew anything at all. "It
is a country that was formed after the first world war by combining three
distinct regions, each with a mixture of ethnic majorities and minorities."
"Wallachia, Moldavia, and Transylvania," Janice interrupted just to wipe away his superior smirk. "Magyars are the most important minority."
He raised an eyebrow and continued in a more respectful tone. "With the Nazi sympathizer Antonescu in power and the country occupied by SS and Gestapo, it matters little that most of the citizens hate Hitler and the Germans. Opposition is quickly crushed, and the agitators are executed or sent to German factories as forced labor."
"Or to the camps," Janice added.
"We don't know anything about any 'camps,' " Ranscomb put in hastily.
"Right." Janice kept her attention on Brinton while responding to his superior. "Is there a significant resistance movement?"
Brinton glanced at Ranscomb, who nodded. "It's spotty and deep underground." He pointed to a place in the central Carpathian Mountains. "Here, near Lake Snagov, there seems to be a resistance cell. We haven't been able to pin it down, but we're depending on its existence."
"We?" Janice asked.
"Dr. Covington." Ranscomb directed her attention back to himself. "From this point on, anything you're told must stay in this room. Whether you agree to help or not. Miss Pappas, that warning includes you. Do you understand?" Both women nodded, and he said, "Brinton, continue."
"For a few weeks, we've been getting reports about a new German weapon, something more powerful than even the "secret" weapons, the rockets we've detected along the French coast."
"Brinton, remember 'need to know.' "
"Just drawing a comparison, sir." He turned back to the map and pointed again to the middle of Transylvania. "The Soviets have heard the same rumors, and they seem to center on this region."
"The same area as the resistance cell," Janice observed.
"Yes. We've tried to contact that group in an attempt to get more information,
but our attempts have all failed. Fatally, we believe." He faced the two
women. "We've sent in seasoned professionals, men who have been trained
in infiltration and insurgency." Janice didn't imagine that he stressed
the word "men." She and Brinton locked eyes. "None have sent
any word or returned to meet the vessel that brought them in. Our belief is
that they were killed, either by the German forces or by the native
population, which is not known for its trust of outsiders."
"Peasants with torches and pitchforks?" Janice asked sarcastically.
"Exactly" was his response.
Mel, who had been quiet throughout Brinton's recital, finally spoke up. "What do you expect us to do?" She said it wearily, having already guessed the answer.
Ranscomb did not surprise her. "We think you, Dr. Covington, and you,
Miss Pappas, can do what those men could not. We think you can enter that area,
and, right under the noses of the SS, gather intelligence about that secret
weapon, find out at least whether it exists or not, and bring that
information out." Brinton's expression showed he didn't consider himself part of his superior's "we."
"I appreciate your confidence in us," Janice replied, "but what are you basing it on?"
"On this," Ranscomb said. He handed Janice a photograph, which she studied intently and then handed to Mel, whose jaw tightened. She handing the photo back to her friend as if eager to get rid of it. Ranscomb continued, "And on your facility with the German language, Dr. Covington."
"This woman looks a little like me," Janice observed. "Who is she? And what does she have to do with this situation?"
"The resemblance is superficial," Ranscomb admitted, "but close enough for our purpose, since no one in Transylvania has actually seen her. That is Margethe Berndt, also known at the Monster of Montmere. She is Hitler's favorite interrogator. Makes the Gestapo look like Boy Scouts."
Janice studied the photo again and then gave it to Ranscomb. She slouched in her chair. "So?"
Brinton spoke up. "She has been 'working' in France and most recently in Greece. Now she has been dispatched to Rumania to help crush the resistance there before it can gain momentum. Hitler's very worried about what will happen if the Rumanians and the Hungarians forget past quarrels--and catch his eastern army between themselves and the Soviets."
"What do you want me to do?"
"We want to place you in Rumania--as Margethe Berndt," Ranscomb answered.
Janice laughed. "Won't the SS notice if there are two Monsters roaming around? Even in Transylvania."
"Margethe has been. . . .detained," Brinton explained. "By us. You'll be the only Monster there."
"Where is she?" Janice asked.
Brinton smiled for the first time. "Here. In the basement of this building." Mel, noting that smile, shivered.
"I want to meet her, make sure I can carry this off," Janice said.
"That's a good idea," Ranscomb agreed. "Then you'll do it?"
"No, Janice," Mel began. "This is a bad idea. What chance do we have of pulling this off when their spies have failed?"
"There's no 'we' in this," Janice responded. "I'm going in alone, and I will be coming out. I've done it before, and that was through the front door."
"Yes, you finally told me all about that, remember? And about how you almost died." Mel caught the warning look Janice gave her and stopped.
"Miss Pappas, we do desire your participation in this mission," Ranscomb said. "Some of the information we've received has been. . . .shall we say, odd. We believe your skill as a translator may come in handy."
"Oh?" Janice asked. "And how would you explain her presence? I suppose you have another German she resembles? One who doesn't even speak her native language."
"No," Ranscomb answered, "but Fraulein Berndt has certain proclivities
that are well-known--and that she often practices on women of the indigenous
populations. It won't be considered unusual for her to be accompanied by an
attractive Greek. . . .conquest. You do speak Greek, don't you, Miss
Pappas? The modern variety?"
"Good. There we are then."
"I'm going," Janice said with finality. "Mel isn't. Now I want to meet the woman in that photograph."
Brinton led the two women down three flights of stairs to the lowest basement
of the building. He flicked a switch as they reached the last landing and pulled
an overhead chain to bring dim illumination to the darkness below. Stepping
aside, he motioned for his followers to proceed
him. Janice and then Mel soon found themselves in a cellar room that contained a narrow open space bounded on one side by three barred cells. One bare bulb provided feeble light from the rough ceiling in front of each cell door. By this light, they could see that only the center cell was
Mel paused at the foot of the stairs, but Janice approached the bars. "Don't get too close," Brinton warned, and she stopped about a foot from the cell door. A young woman, her fair hair in a tangle around her face looked up, blinking, from where she sat on a bench apparently bolted into the back wall. She ran the fingers of both hands through her hair, brushing it out of her face. And she smiled.
Janice looked questioningly at Brinton, who stood beside Mel. "She was
captured by Greek partisans on her way to Rumania," he said, apparently
explaining the woman's scratched and bruised features. "They weren't gentle,
but they got out a message that they had her--alive--and we managed
to get in to pick her up."
The prisoner stood up and walked to the cell door, her walk as confident and
arrogant as if she were on the other side of those bars. She wrapped hands,
one of which was heavily bandaged, around the vertical steel of her cage. At
Brinton's gesture, Janice stepped back another pace, well out of
the other woman's reach.
"Who are you supposed to be?" the blonde woman asked in lightly accented English. "My next interrogator?"
"No, Margethe," Janice answered. "I'm supposed to be you."
Margethe studied the imposter of herself, and her smile grew wider. "There is a resemblance. Do you speak German well enough to fool anyone?"
Janice rattled off a few sentences in Margethe's native tongue.
"Yes, you are convincing, and it's even the right German, neither too
high nor too low for my upbringing. Quite. . . .respectable. . . .quite the
burgher class into which I was born." She shook her head then. "The
color of your eyes is close enough, perhaps a little more green than mine. Your
hair, however, will not do. You are a redhead, not a true blonde, not quite. . . .Aryan, are you?"
"A little bleach will help that," Janice replied evenly, "just as I'm sure it helps yours."
Margethe's eyes slid to Mel. "And you? There's no way you will pass for one of The Fuhrer's own. Your hair is too dark, features too. . . .Mediterranean. Italian? Greek? Nice pale eyes and skin, however. And very nice. . . ." Her voice dropped suggestively.
"Shut up," Janice ordered.
The prisoner's eyes slid to Janice and back to Mel. "So what is your role in this masquerade? Ah, I have it. You will play the part of poor Maria." She again let her gaze play up and down Mel's long body. "You're really much better looking than my late companion. I envy my imitator your company. For as long as you both last."
"What happened to Maria?" Janice asked, not sure who would answer. It was Brinton.
"She and this bitch's driver were killed during the capture."
"That isn't strictly true," the blonde woman corrected him. "The driver was killed in the ambush. Maria was wounded, but alive, when the so-called partisans got their hands on her."
It was Brinton who told her to shut up this time, but again she continued. "The partisans got a radio message out that they had captured us both, but the English replied that they had no use for a Greek whore."
"We didn't tell them to kill her," Brinton said.
Her eyes held hatred as she looked in his direction. "What did you think
they would do? They considered her a traitor, a Nazi collaborator." She
quickly masked the emotion in her face and voice as she turned back to Janice.
"Maria's death was neither swift nor easy. As yours will not be
when the SS or Gestapo catch you. As hers," with a stabbing glance at Mel, "will not be whether she's captured by my people or by Rumanian resisters." Mel shuddered, whether at the woman's words or her gaze, she wasn't sure.
"Have you seen and heard enough?" Brinton asked.
Janice nodded and turned away, but the German woman's voice followed her. "You will die in Transylvania or in trying to get there. And I will survive in this dark place until the war's end. My skills are valuable, and no one will waste them by ordering my death."
Janice glanced at Brinton, who shook his head. She noted his meaning, but was disturbed by the hint of a satisfied smile on his lips. She looked for Mel and saw her half-way up the first flight of steps.
Janice had found the short submarine voyage through the Strait of Gibraltar and across the length of the Mediterranean surprisingly pleasant. Never plagued by claustrophobia, she wasn't bothered by the close quarters, which had the bonus of preventing arguments between herself and Mel. Mel was too much of a lady to argue within the hearing of the sailors, and no one was ever out of earshot on that sub. Now, sitting out from the shore of mainland Greece in the choppy waters of the Ionian Sea, she felt the stirrings of nausea that heralded seasickness. Ensign Grimaldi watched the dark shore for the brief flash of light that would be their signal to go ashore. When they boarded the inflated raft, he had whispered to her that this landing would have been impossible even two months before. Then the Jerries had the pillboxes that ringed Europe fully manned. Now, with successful Allied landings in Sicily and, most recently, on Normandy, and disasters on the Soviet front, the Germans had all but abandoned this coastline.
Looking past the ensign for the promised light, Janice stifled a groan. Please don't let it be too long.
To Mel, Janice was only a small silhouette perched in the front of the bobbing
boat. Still, hearing the groan, she knew her friend's malady was striking again.
Poor Janice. Mel remembered their last conversation, no, their last argument,
before leaving England. They had finished a two-day briefing by Brinton and
some of his men and were in the bedroom they shared in the London townhouse
of Janice's mother--packing the clothing that had been provided for them. It
had been explained that they could take no personal belongings, since everything
must be traceable to the women they
would impersonate. Mel had adjusted the wire rim glasses she had been issued in place of her usual dark frames. Janice had patted her own hat and leather jacket and reluctantly laid these in a drawer. After some hesitation, her cigars and knapsack followed. Both women would carry German-issued knapsacks for this trip.
"We don't have to do this, you know."
"You don't have to do this" had been Janice's curt answer. "I do."
Janice had shrugged.
"This is crazy. We can go back home and find other ways to help. Ways that don't involve walking into Hitler's backyard."
Janice's eyes had blazed. "Right! We can organize a cotillion to sell war bonds. And talk the Tidewater aristocracy into turning in the tires off their spare Packards. Or maybe you want me to jump up and down on tin cans so they'll make neat bundles for the metal drive."
"You have the feet for it!" Mel had retorted. "Please, Janice, reconsider. I have a bad feeling about this."
"If you're afraid, stay here, or, better yet, go on home. I want you to."
"You're always wanting me to leave you. Or you're wanting to leave me." Mel had struggled to keep from crying. "After that last time, I would think you would have had enough danger, enough of risking your life. I know I have."
"Then don't come with me."
Janice had turned to face Mel, and Mel had known further argument was futile. Still she had tried. "The only way to get me stay in London is to stay yourself."
"Then we're both going."
"What?" Mel realized she was sitting in a bobbing boat and that she must have repeated Janice's earlier words aloud. The sailor seated beside her was looking at her quizzically.
"I said, 'when are we going?' " she covered.
Just then, the ensign whispered, "There's the light." A pause. "Yeah, that's the signal. Let's go in. We run the boat up on the shore and run to cover as soon as we land. Everybody got that? Ladies?"
There were whispers of "Aye, aye" and "Yes." The boat moved
silently toward shore, propelled now by oars, not by a motor. As the bottom
scraped the sand, everyone leaped out, and all but the two men assigned to haul
the boat out of the water crouched and ran for large rocks just up from the
beach. Janice grabbed Mel's hand and ran, expecting at any moment the flashes and retorts that would announce German machine gun fire. And answering fire from the seamen who accompanied them. Darkness and silence reigned, and the small party soon found themselves behind the tall,
>From the other side of the rocks there came a harsh whisper, first in Greek, then followed by heavily accented English, "Jeepers creepers."
The ensign answered, "Where did you get those peepers?" Then he stood up, and three people, all dressed in dark clothing and watchcaps, faces blackened, walked around the nearest rock. Two men and one woman. Each carrying a German-made machine gun.
"What's your name?" the ensign asked the woman, still making sure.
"Eleni," she answered, then added, "It's not safe here. The Germans still keep up patrols." She gestured toward Janice and Mel. "Leave them with us and go."
Janice nodded to the ensign. He acted as if he wanted to say something, then settled for a rough slap on her shoulder and a nod to Mel. He and his men melted into the darkness, the only sound of their going the faint splash of the oars. Then there wasn't even that, and the two American women found themselves alone with the Greek partisans.
"Follow," the woman ordered quietly. She and her companions turned, expecting compliance, and, as they, too, seemed about to disappear, got it. There followed a rapid march from the shoreline into the cover of rocks and brush and then trees. Seemingly untiring, the Greeks continued until, after some hours, Janice called a halt. "We need to rest," she admitted. The partisans continued for a few steps; then Eleni fell back to the Americans and looked them over. Her eyes passed over Janice and settled on Mel before she nodded. "Sit," she said and went to catch up with her companions. There followed a quiet, but rapid-fire, conference in Greek; then the two men disappeared, and Eleni returned to where Janice and Mel had dropped to the ground.
"Drink," she told them as she handed the smaller American a canteen. Noting that this was, like the guns, German army issue, Janice handed it on to Mel, who took a brief drink before trying to hand it back. Janice's look and refusal to take it caused her to take a deeper drink. Then Janice took the canteen and took a long pull on it. Eleni indicated with a gesture that she should keep it.
"Where are you taking us?" Janice whispered.
The partisan squatted beside the other two women. "There's a. . . .place to keep animals. . . .a barn near here," she explained. "That's where that woman's. . . .automobile is hidden."
"Margethe Berndt's?" Mel asked.
"Yes." Eleni rose. "Can you go on? It is not far. And you will be safer there."
Janice reached out to help Mel up, but the taller woman rose on her own. As Eleni led them through the trees, her two male companions appeared from the surrounding darkness and joined them. "Not far" proved to be a couple more hours' walk, but they made it without stopping again.
As Eleni had said, the building they finally approached appeared to be a barn, apparently abandoned when the nearby house, its position now indicated by only a chimney, had burned down. Eleni gestured for a halt before entering the clearing. The two men left them, one walking to the left, the other two the right, circling the barn. The door in the front of the structure suddenly opened, and one of the men emerged to wave the women in. Eleni ran at a crouch to the door and inside, and Janice and Mel followed in the same posture, the silhouette of Mel's long body still towering over her smaller companions.
Inside the barn, black paper and dark rags had been used to cover the chinks
between the aging boards, and the two men efficiently covered the spaces between
the barn door and its frame with similar materials. Only then did one of them
light a lantern that had been hanging from the wall.
The interior, thus illuminated, revealed a small square table and four mismatched and much repaired chairs. And, farther into the barn, still almost hidden in darkness, the shape of a car, a German touring car, the driver's seat uncovered, but the passenger seats under a high roof and surrounded by windows.
"That's Margethe's automobile?" Janice asked. At Eleni's nod, Janice
approached it. Then she could see that the front seat had been damaged and recently
repaired, closely matching rags sewn over what were probably bullet holes in
the driver's seat. One of the side windows was completely
broken out. Janice looked at the man who stood beside her.
"No. . . .glass. . . .to fix," he said in halting English.
Eleni approached as Janice opened a side door of the car and peered in. The American saw no sign of damage to the interior of the car. "Both women survived the capture?" she asked, keeping her voice neutral.
"Yes." Eleni seemed about to leave it at that. Then she added, "My group did not capture."
"Would it have made a difference?"
The other woman looked at her levelly. "No." She was holding the
lantern, and she used it to light Janice's face. "I have the Monster's
papers. You match close enough." Mel had sat in one of the chairs, obviously
exhausted. The partisan indicated the seated woman with a gesture of her
head. "She's supposed to be the. . . .the coll. . . .the coll. . . ?
"The collaborator?" Janice finished for her. "She's supposed to be the Greek woman who was traveling with Margethe. Yes."
Eleni spoke carefully, this time not because of difficulty with English. "Is she . . . . Can she do it? She seems. . . ."
"She'll do fine," Janice informed her sharply. "She always does."
The Greek woman ducked her head politely, showing she meant no offense to this woman's comrade. "In the morning, another man come. He wears uniform of driver. Washed and holes fixed. He drives you and her to Kilkis. You call him Dieter. He is Greek, but knows German. You talk to him in German only. Yes?"
"In Kilkis, you show papers and get on train. Go through Macedonia. You know Macedonia?"
Janice chuckled. "Yes, I know Macedonia."
"You take train to Rumania, where your orders say."
The blonde woman sobered. "Won't the dates be all wrong?"
"We fixed." She reached inside her close-fitting black jacket and
came up with a black document wallet, which she handed to Janice. Janice took
out a sheaf of official-looking papers and scanned them. The date Margethe left
Athens was now only three days before, but she could not detect the
"Good work," she commented.
"Resisters, live ones, got many skills," Eleni remarked seriously.
"Greek saying?" Janice asked.
"Never mind." Janice started to return the papers, but the Greek woman stopped her.
"You keep." Janice slipped the wallet into a pocket. "In morning, you put on the Monster's uniform. Your friend put on Greek woman's dress. Now you rest." Holding up the lantern, she led Janice to a couple of pallets on the other side of the car.
"Mel," Janice called. Her friend's arms were supporting her head on the table, but now she looked up. "Come to bed. You'll be more comfortable." Mel rose wearily only to drop onto one of the pallets. She was asleep as soon as her head touched the blankets. Janice lay beside her, and used her blanket to cover them both. Then Eleni and the light of the lantern were gone. It was Janice who tossed and turned her way through the night.
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