the-geisenberg-conspiracy-1

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Subject: The Geisenberg Conspiracy Chapter 1 The Geisenberg Conspiracy by Vincent Appleyard A story set in East Germany in 1965 Chapter 1 Corden came down from the treeline and made his way, purposefully now, along the rutted track which led to the farm. He had stashed his car carefully behind a little copse of apple trees which were starting to brim with young fruit. For some minutes he had taken cover there himself and watched through binoculars for movement around the farm buildings. There was no sign of life except that a wisp of smoke waved lazily from the chimney of the main dwelling as if beckoning him. He thought about this for a moment but was not anxious; the heat of the late Summer had already begun to be met by a definite chill in the air. He swept his glasses round and surveyed the countryside, concentrating on the narrow loops of road that wound up and down the surrounding hills. He was content. He had taken all the usual precautions, his principle being, as always, to prepare thoroughly and once prepared, to abandon oneself to whatever it was that lay ahead. He placed the binoculars in the pocket of his overalls and stood there, thinking. From the high ground, he could vaguely make out the town of Adorf some kilometres in the distance. He also gave particular attention to the small dairy herd a few fields away and briefly wondered how Rudi Wagner managed to provide for his young family. Collectivisation was hitting smallholders hard and Rudi only managed to scrape by with the little bit of private enterprise that his good standing in the Farmer’s Party allowed him to get away with. Corden’s mind flashed momentarily back to his own rural childhood and the relative abundance he had enjoyed; the richness of the produce, the magnificent herd of Jersey cows his own father had owned. He had grown up as Thomas Eric de Barnier Corden, the exotic part of his name due to a distant strain of French aristocracy on his mother’s side. But here he was Gunther Erlich, at least for the duration of his visit. He forced himself to adopt a casual, tired gait even as his concentration on the farmhouse intensified as he approached. He swung an empty jerry-can in his right hand. He had made a point of bringing it from the car and now used it as a prop, letting it be seen, on the understanding that he would be observed. When he reached the large wooden door, he stopped as if suddenly unsure of himself. He made a show of looking about for signs of life before knocking timidly, then again, more boldly. He cleared his throat and waited, wondering if Rudi was watching him from some hidden vantage. He had recruited Rudi in ’63 and run him more or less without incident for nearly two years now. His value was his access to economic intelligence as a trusted member of the local Party hierarchy. He had produced some decent results over the last 18 months; nothing spectacular, nothing, to be honest, of any great importance but good, solid, reliable information. Enough, just about enough to keep Corden engaged. His last couple of reports had even been acknowledged in London as having provided “potentially significant insights” into the re-structuring of East Germany’s agricultural planning. They had sent Corden back to ask for more. But that was over six months ago and in the end, the intelligence had come to not very much after all. Most of it had eventually been picked up and reported on in the local Party newspaper, a fact that Corden had cursed, regretting the payment he had secured for Rudi and London’s subsequent displeasure at having the paid-for goods made so freely available. When the door finally opened, Corden was surprised to see Karl and Johann standing doubtfully in front of him. He wasn’t sure that they would recognise him. It had, after all, been many months since they had last seen him and then only briefly, fleetingly, from a distance as he chatted with Rudi. They looked at him with a kind of awe. “Is your father in?” asked Corden. They looked at each other before Karl shook his head. “I had some trouble with my car. I broke down…well, not broke down exactly but I’m very close to running out of petrol. I was hoping I could buy some from you…from your father. I’ll pay a good price. Just enough to get me going again.” He had prepared this cover story as a routine precaution against a nosy neighbour, against anyone who might be suspicious of his sudden, unannounced arrival. “Can I come in?” he asked with an encouraging smile, raising the jerry-can to shoulder height and turning it slightly in his hand, pantomiming its emptiness. He was rather self-conscious of his accented German. He had first encountered the language as a 10-year old during the war when a pair of twins, Jewish refugees smuggled out of Berlin, were billeted at his family farm in North Devon. They were far enough away from the bombs that fell on Plymouth and Exeter and to him the war was a long, fantastical adventure made stranger still by the presence of Ruth and David. Over nearly three years they had taught him to speak German and to an attentive listener, he was sure, the clipped drawl of their Berliner style of speech was still evident in his short vowels and over-enunciated consonants. The boys looked at each other again. They were very alike in some ways; blond and fine-featured, although Karl, at 12, was leaner and somehow darker, more intense and ashen. Johann, two years younger was still round with puppy-fat, his features alert and eager, his eyes bright and confiding. Karl already had a reserve, was already set apart in his own mind and withheld himself accordingly. Neither spoke but they moved aside, rather grudgingly, to allow Corden to enter. He moved swiftly to the centre of the large living room and looked about, trying to sense a presence in one of the other rooms, the kitchen maybe or at the top of the rough wooden staircase; if not Rudi, then Anna. His gaze finally took in the big open hearth where a badly-constructed fire was dying slowly. “Are you alone?” he asked. Again, neither boy spoke. Johann regarded him keenly, a rather excited glint in his eyes, a flush to his cheek. Karl, by contrast, looked positively hostile. He reached out a hand and pulled his younger brother back towards him. Johann, in his eagerness, had taken an involuntary step towards Corden but was now drawn back into the protective orbit of the older boy. Both were dressed alike in worn T-shirts, faded cartoon bears advertising a popular fizzy drink and very short, tight running shorts which clung around the tops of their pale legs. Both were barefoot and looked pretty filthy and in need of a bath. “Do you remember me?” Corden said. “Gunther. Gunther Erlich. I’m a friend of your father’s.” Corden spoke his assumed name loud enough for anyone listening upstairs to hear it clearly but still there was no response. Rather at a loss now, he could only think to try and prompt the boys into answering pursaklar escort him although he didn’t truly expect he would get anywhere. “The harvest should be good this year,” he said casually and waited for a response. For a few seconds he was very aware of the large ticking of an elaborately-framed clock on the wall to his right. Then Karl spoke. “That’s what the experts say,” he said in a quiet monotone. Corden looked at him carefully. “The only expert I trust is my grandma,” he replied and waited as the clock boomed out a thunderous quarter-hour. “Me to!” exclaimed Johann with a sudden, shy grin and a little wind-milling of his arms. “I only trust my grandma, too!” This odd exchange was one of half a dozen word-codes that Corden had insisted Rudi learn by heart to be used to establish the security of a meeting. Any deviation from the agreed wording would signal that something was up. Rudi had complained about the whole rigmarole and mocked the stupid, supposedly innocuous phrases that they had come up with but Corden had insisted and finally, Rudi had acquiesced. Corden was somewhat alarmed to discover that Rudi had entrusted his sons with this much information at least and he wondered vaguely how much they actually knew and understood about his relationship with their father. He was also aware that Johann’s final response had not been word-perfect but on balance, he considered it close enough. “So…are you alone? Where’s your father? Is mummy here?” The brothers exchanged a quick glance before Karl finally opened up. “Our mother is out. She took the car to Adorf. It’s market day. She won’t be back for ages. I’m in charge.” “And your dad?” “Daddy’s gone,” blurted out Johann. Karl shushed him urgently, showing that he was, indeed, in charge. “No, he’s not!” he said lamely and blushed at the lie, suddenly looking more like his younger brother than he would have cared to admit. “You knew what to say. About the harvest. About only trusting grandma. I’m impressed. Your father must have taught you that. Do you know what it means? Why we say it?” Both boys looked anxiously about them, suddenly serious and a little scared. Corden sensed their immediate reluctance but also, behind that, their ultimate desire to engage with him. He saw for an instant just how beautiful they were, poised like that between suspicion and trust. They shone in his eyes, bright and fierce, like wild animals, their little bodies radiating energy. They gave off a natural, unmediated animal energy like a pungent stink, which ignited something in his soul. So even whilst his gaze was both drawn to and repelled by the dirtiness of their exterior – the ragged, smelly clothes, the soiled, quivering bodies – his feelings were engaged most of all by their eager, animal alertness, the curious delicacy of their connection, the boyish solidarity that they affected in front of him. They had no reason to trust him, after all and whatever was said in answer to his question would, he knew, fall short of real trust. But in the end, the allure of their sheer otherness was irresistible to him. He smiled, kindly. “It’s…in case anyone’s listening,” said Karl, carefully. Swallowing hard, he put an arm around his brother’s shoulders. Corden didn’t want to alarm the boys. He didn’t want to put ideas into their heads. He decided to play it very long and not press them. But he was desperately worried. Rudi should have been here and it was troubling to think that he had disappeared. He was thinking hard. There could be any number of perfectly innocent explanations but if, just if he had been picked up… His thoughts were interrupted by the sound of a vehicle pulling onto the parched, scrubby grass at the front of the farmhouse. All three of them froze. Corden edged sideways to the large window, across which was drawn a pair of thick, plastic curtains, red with garish, yellow flowers. He watched carefully for a few seconds, his body taut and uncertain. Then he visibly relaxed. He turned to Karl and addressed him most conversationally. “Why lie to me? You must know that market day in Adorf is tomorrow. Why the lie?” He scrutinised the lad, genuinely perplexed. “It’s your mother, by the way.” Both boys skipped on the spot and made for the door. Corden held them back with a quick gesture. “Don’t lie to me again. It’s important. Your dad wouldn’t like it, for one thing. I expect he’d warm your backside if I told him.” Karl flushed very prettily, took a big lungful of air and pouted but didn’t argue, his sudden reluctance a kind of admission to Corden’s thinking that his speculation was, indeed, correct. Johann was smiling broadly, relishing in his mind, a particularly pleasing scenario that involved his beloved elder brother being warmed very thoroughly. At the same moment, Anna walked in and did an almost comical double-take at seeing the three of them together. “Gunther!” she exclaimed, somewhat shocked. She recovered her poise quickly enough and greeted Corden with a warm embrace, kissing him lightly on both cheeks. “You can’t stop here. You mustn’t!” she whispered, urgently. It was only then that she looked properly at her children and turned briefly to the door again as if uncertain what to do. “What a state you two are in!” she said, finally. “Karl, go and put some water on to boil. Make sure the kettle’s full. And bring in a pail of cold as well. Johann, you can fetch the tin bath. It’s in the scullery. Bring it in here in front of the fire.” She gazed for a moment at the dying fire, its uselessness despite the boys’ best intentions. She smiled almost to herself and was actually laughing when she turned to Corden. “Go on, hurry up! I need to talk to your Uncle Gunther.” “Are you going to give us a bath? Now?” asked Karl. He screwed up his face and looked at Johann, slightly aghast but also somewhat sly and emboldened. “Enough of that. Just do as your told!” scolded Anna, laughing all the time as the boys skipped out reluctantly to fulfil their allotted tasks. She was instantly more serious when she turned again to Corden. She was young still, barely into her mid-thirties, a good ten years younger than her husband and nearly five years younger than Corden himself. Her face was narrow and prematurely lined. Her hair was long and yellow and tied back in a bunch which would have made her look like a teenager had her skin been better. Her children had both inherited her blue eyes and wild hair although Johann definitely had his father’s nose, wide jaw and prominent ears, so that for all the brothers had in common, Karl was most like Anna. She was a woman with very little vanity; a free spirit, full of laughter but capable of sober reflection and an unswerving obedience to a moral code she neither wanted nor expected others to share. In this too, Karl was like her, something he had become aware of only recently. It was a similarity of outlook rize escort that he treasured secretly as representative of their most private bond, unique and unbreakable. Most important of all, it was something beyond the scope of his younger brother’s still-childish understanding. Even when she scolded him or punished him, he approved of her damning words or actions and was content to hold himself accountable to her and her alone. He loved his father and was lavish with his attention when Rudi was around. But he was somewhat condescending to him, always a slight, disdainful smile lit up his face when his father spoke. He would watch him at work with frank curiosity, finding him amusing and worthy only of his merry sarcasm. The hidings he sometimes received as a result were more to be celebrated, he thought, than endured and made him a hero in Johann’s eyes and, strangely, in Anna’s too. It was only if she took the belt to him that he was truly penitent, leading him to gulp in shame as he lowered his trousers for her. Anna took a pace towards Corden and in a very typical gesture, she placed the palm of her right hand against his cheek and held it there momentarily. They had never been lovers but the frisson of possibility had always been there, almost from the start. “Where’s Rudi?” asked Corden. She looked at him, piercingly. “Did he ask you to come here?” she said, avoiding his question. “Did he set up a meeting? Or was it you?” She was gazing past him slightly and Corden suddenly had the feeling that this question was very important to her, that a lot might rest on his answer. He decided to tell the truth. “Rudi made contact. He said he’d be here. Everything seemed in order.” “Made contact how?” Here, Corden hesitated. He trusted Anna but knew that there were times when Rudi shared with her details of his secret life to a greater degree than Corden felt necessary or desirable. But Corden had never been married and he knew how forthright and persuasive Anna could be, especially perhaps, as a wife. “In a safe way. A very secure way. I don’t think it was compromised.” Anna laughed and flashed him a wide-eyed smile. “That, my dear Gunther, is a very good answer. A very safe answer. A very secure answer!” She paused, taking a long breath, noisily, through her nostrils, which flared alarmingly. She looked at the ceiling, the wooden beams that bisected the farmhouse interior. “I don’t blame you, you know. Blame you for involving Rudi in…in what you do. But he is involved deeper than he knows how to manage. And he does it partly for you. But I don’t blame you.” Corden watched her carefully. “What’s happened?” he asked. Finally, Anna moved, almost reluctantly, to the window and looked outside. She turned back to Corden and spoke in one long sudden stream of words; clear, unhurried and precise and very characteristic of her. “Police took him. They came this morning. Around 8am. Three of them in a black car. A very shiny, big, black car.” “What kind of police, Vopos?” “No, they certainly weren’t local.” “Were they armed?” “Not that I could see. They didn’t have any weapons on show, if that’s what you mean.” “Stasi?” “Yes. Stasi. I suppose so. They were very…polite. But insistent, you know. He went quite willingly. Well, he had no choice, of course. But he did seem surprised…but not surprised. Like he was expecting to see them… just not then. I don’t know, it was just a feeling I had.” “Was he arrested?” “No. Nothing like that. It was all rather friendly.” Corden thought hard for a few seconds. “Could they have just been…friends of his? Business people?” “Don’t forget I grew up with police. My father and three uncles were all policemen. Back when it meant something. I know police when I see them.” “Where did they take him?” “They didn’t say. I’ve been trying to find out.” “And….?” Now it was Anna’s turn to shy away from answering. “Does the name Matthias Berg mean anything to you?” Corden cocked his head to one side, aware that Anna had caught him by surprise. He spoke slowly, as if considering every word. “I know he’s one of the rising young hotshots in the Stasi. Quite the pin-up boy, I hear. Tipped to be a leading light of the new generation. Brimful of ideas, of course. Ready to throw over the old order once he gets far enough advanced. I checked him out about a year ago. Went to hear him make a speech. “The contribution of the intellectual to the worker’s struggle: how democratic socialism begins in the Kindergarten.” Something like that. Load of rot, of course but he was impressive, I’ll say that for him. Even got the feeling he actually believed some of it!” Anna smiled and put a hand up to stop Corden going on. She touched his arm and kept her fingers there a moment. “He is ideologically sound…in all important respects. He is committed to fighting American imperialism wherever it…” Corden interrupted her rudely. “Of course, he’s only young…24? 25? He’s only just finished his military service. Straight out of bloody Potsdam, for Christ’s sake! He’s brilliant but he’s a fool. The older generation – the real bastards – they’ll just wait for the right moment and pick him off. All of them – all these young reformers, these radicals – pick them all off one by one.” Corden seemed to run out of invective. He added, in a conciliatory tone: “From what I hear, he’s decent enough. What’s he got to do with anything?” “He’s a friend, that’s all.” Corden stared at her in incredulity. “He does a lot of good work round here,” she continued, more passionately. “He’s in charge of the Party youth organisation, for one. I suppose, being cynical, you’d say it was just recruiting young minds to his way of thinking…shaping the future Party in his own image.” Corden remembered that both Anna’s sons were enthusiastic members of the Young Communist League and often attended special camps they had arranged in the forests along the Czech border. He imagined them as somewhat like his own distant scouting days only with socialist indoctrination rather than enforced allegiance to the British Empire. At that point, Johann came in carrying the tin bath on his back, comically, like a turtle. He was followed by Karl, stepping carefully with a steaming kettle in his right hand and a bucket of cold water in his left. All these items were dumped on the rug in front of the fire and the boys stood back regarding their mother with looks of frank consternation. “Go and get some clean clothes. And towels. And get something warm…were going on a journey.” “Where to?” asked Karl, excitedly. “Never you mind. Just go. There are some fresh towels in the airing cupboard.” Both boys hurried out and Corden followed the sound of their footsteps as they raced each other up the stairs, giggling. “Where are you going?” he asked Anna. She looked down briefly before replying. “To find my husband. To find out what it is Matthias ankara rus escort Berg wants with him. It was his people took Rudi. I’m sure of it. I don’t know them, didn’t recognise any of them but…” “But what?” Anna sighed and hugged herself, as if for support. “Rudi dropped a hint. He’d told me that he’d met Berg three days ago. In Adorf. He came down specially. In secret. At night. I don’t know what they talked about, Rudi wouldn’t say but he did…hint…that it was the start of something. That Berg’s people were likely to be in touch very soon. That’s all I know.” “It fits. Rudi contacted me two days ago saying we needed to meet urgently; something was up. It must be connected somehow.” “He wouldn’t betray you!” Anna had balled her fists and pressed them down her sides. Her sudden passion did nothing to hide her evident anxiety. “He might not have any choice in the matter,” said Corden, drily. “Either way, it’s too dangerous for you here. You must go. I’m taking the boys to Geising. Matthias is holding a camp there this weekend. It’s just south of the Geisingberg. It’s for older boys…Young Leaders…Karl is insanely jealous!” She turned away from Corden only to find her sons lined-up, staring at her, towels and fresh clothing at the ready. She flashed a knowing smile to her elder son but he just scowled in Corden’s direction. “You have to be thirteen – 13 to 21. Next year, maybe.” She smiled a different, rather sad smile that still lit up the room. “The point is…if Matthias is there, that’s where Rudi will be! One way or another, I’ll find out what’s going on. Rudi can contact you later…if… if that’s still possible. You have to assume your cover’s blown. You need to keep your distance…for now, at least!” “I’ll need some petrol,” said Corden gently. He picked up the jerry-can from the floor, where he had placed it. “I don’t actually need any, you understand – I’m just being careful. It’s cover for my coming here. My car’s hidden up the slope. Once the boys are done, I’m driving you to Geising. I need to see Rudi to debrief him. Just five minutes, that’s all I need. You have to find a way of getting me alone with him. Five minutes is all!” “But what if it is a trap?” “This is to cover the petrol, if anybody asks.” He handed her a small bundle of low denomination currency and smiled at Anna, a gentle, rather sweet smile but one that wouldn’t be contradicted so she simply took the money and told him where he would find a number of containers in the small barn. He could help himself to petrol from one of those. He went out without another word. On his return, Corden saw that the two boys were both in the process of getting undressed as their mother readied the bath for them. They both looked up sharply as Corden entered although Anna didn’t react at all, concentrating as she was on sprinkling some kind of powder into the steaming water which, when thoroughly stirred about, began to form a very satisfying mass of bubbles. Johann had his T-shirt off already and grinned widely in Corden’s direction as he pulled his shorts down. He was not wearing underpants and he simply handed his shorts to his mother, who glanced at them briefly, tutted at the stains and put them to one side. Corden’s eyes momentarily rested on Johann’s naked body. He was a slightly rotund child, plump and ruddy. His backside was plump and his thighs fleshy. His penis was large, almost indecently-so in a child his age and swung gently at every move. His small undeveloped testicles were a mere fleshy sac obscured by the long, soft thickness of his cock, which ended in a luxuriant ruffle of foreskin. Johann seemed completely at ease in the nude, a thoroughly natural animal, a pig, happy to enjoy his pig-like body although Corden concluded that the degree of exhibitionism was mainly for Karl’s sake, to raise the stakes in their never-ending, private game of brotherly one-upmanship. He stepped boldly into the foam, accidentally splashing Anna who gave his bottom the lightest of slaps in admonition. He grinned even more, looking directly at Corden. Karl, by contrast, was more hesitant. Although he had already removed his shorts and underpants, which were discarded carelessly on the floor beside him, he had, on Corden’s entrance, pulled the hem of his T-shirt down tightly to cover his privates. Corden could not decide whether the boy understood just how provocative this manoeuvre was – probably he didn’t – but the effect was immediate and it might have been the most calculated of acts. Corden felt himself stirring at the sight of the elder brother, squirming and wriggling his thin, twisty frame, pantomiming reluctance and giggling deliciously at Johann. In a quick movement, he wrestled the T-shirt over his head, where it lodged for a second, masking the boy’s features. His ribs were clearly defined, his body lean and mobile and entirely smooth. His little cock was thin and puny compared to that of his younger brother but it was also held tight by a dainty pair of balls that had recently emerged, like new fruit on an apple tree. His buttocks were small and delicate and he stepped delicately and quickly into the tub alongside Johann. He had already covered himself again with both hands cupped over his genitals and he stood there shrugging, blushing deeply and waiting patiently for his mother to wash him. For the next ten minutes, Corden watched fascinated as Anna tended to her boys. Her hands soaped their little bodies relentlessly, cupping their limbs and working with enormous care and precision around their tenderest areas. With the quickest of light movements, she ran her hand underneath them, cleaning them between their legs, wiping them thoroughly. At various points, the boys pushed themselves into each other, Karl’s little penis rubbing briefly against Johann’s rump or Johann sticking his bottom out so that it touched that of his elder brother in a way that Corden could see was most pleasing and entertaining to the both of them. Anna kept up a whispered conversation, murmuring gently, lovingly. At one point, Karl reached down and brushed Johann’s cock with a finger, whether accidentally or not Corden couldn’t decide. Either way, it seemed to him that the ease and naturalness of the contact was ultimately indicative of a great tenderness between the brothers. Eventually, Anna was satisfied with the boys’ cleanliness and with a little slap, she encouraged each of them to step out of the bath and onto the towels she had laid out for them on the floor. Karl instantly wrapped himself in his towel as if suddenly overcome with shyness and he moved to a corner where he could dry and dress himself with more privacy. Johann displayed himself frankly in front of his mother and stood, impassive, watching Corden, as she rubbed at him and pulled wide a clean pair of pants so that he could step more easily into them. Corden glanced out of the window. The light was just beginning to dim outside. His mind turned, almost reluctantly, to the journey ahead. It was over two hours drive – more like three and, as he reflected gratefully on the cosy, domestic scene he had just witnessed, he realised that he had no idea what to expect at the other end.

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