They’d burnt the crypto within seconds of learning the General’s intentions.
“I’m gonna fire those birds, boys. Light up those god-damned Commies and nuke ’em back to the fucking stone age!”
He’d forced his way into the Battle Management Room, taking out our Air Commodore with a single shot. No, no-one was able to explain how he’d sneaked a loaded weapon into the bunker either.
Lots of RAF Police had tried to stop him. They made a rather nice ornamental torso pile near the door now. And he had amassed a collection of 9mm Brownings from them.
General Messing was on high alert now, anyone who even looked vaguely hostile earned themselves a terminal dirt nap.
But he took no notice of me. Innocent me, the guy who delivered his signals every hour, on the hour. I’d nearly bought the farm the first time, earning my survival pass by waving my handful of paper, showing I wasn’t.
At least that time I wasn’t.
As the hours had drifted past, it became clear to us that General Messing was determined to launch, codes or not. He’d spent every moment trying to brute force them, and by sheer luck he’d already happened onto half of what he needed to light up Russia.
3pm, or rather 1500 Zulu. The hourly signal run.
Messing’s gun was raised as I opened the door and immediately dropped to the table on seeing me. “Ah, the signal wallah. Enter, enter.”
I’d been the only living person to get anywhere near him, and it had given me an idea. “How goes the war sir?” I was trying to make idle conversation, mostly to distract him.
“I’ll get there sooner or later. Shame they destroyed the codes. So what’s this then?” Messing looked down at the paper I’d placed on the desk before him.
“Classified signal sir, needs your signature. Do you need a pen?” I offered him a ballpoint pen, my favourite Bic.
General Messing waved it away, pulling a rather nice Mont Blanc from his jacket pocket. Then he made his last mistake. He looked down to sign the log.
And I stuck the ballpoint into his ear, jamming it in as far as I could, killing him instantly.
General Messing, or least what was left of his corporeal being hit the table face first.
I called the RAF Police from his desk phone, they got there in less than three minutes. They were surprised, but full of praise. “You’re a bloody hero! They’ll give you a medal for this!”
I shook my head. “No they won’t. I’ll be lucky not to go to prison for killing a General.”
They protested, “But you’re a hero!”
I smiled. “No I’m not. I’m just a clerk with a pen. He never saw me coming. Bloody good job too.”