Chapter Two Thousand Two Hundred Thirty
25th July 1973
Near Bad Reichenhall
When Malcolm had been given a chance to leave the bunker on the outskirts of Potsdam for a few weeks, he had leapt for the opportunity. It was something that he had forgotten that he had even applied for, Arctic training in the Heer’s prestigious Alpine Training area and the chance to go to parts of the globe that he had only read about or seen in movies. He had only told his family a couple days before he had left. Of course, his parents had understood. They had been the ones who had bought all the books about arctic exploration when he had been a child and had needed the encouragement to not give up on reading after his early struggles. Tatiana, whose opinion mattered a great deal to Malcolm due to her being his twin sister had been completely unimpressed. They had once shared in everything, but adolescence had created a gulf between them that they had been unable to bridge in the years since. Marie Alexandra had seen the romantic angle and Angelica had a whole lot of questions. Sophie had been absent, having already departed for the Summer Holiday a couple days earlier.
Upon his arrival to the collection of buildings on top of a mountain high above the tree line, Malcolm knew that he was finally doing something closer to what he wanted to be doing with his life. There were no guarantees in this. If he managed to complete the course over the Summer, there was a chance that he could go to one of Polar regions if a slot opened that fit his skillset. He would need to suspend his studies at University if that happened and Malcolm suspected that he was the only one who had no objections to that. The Luftwaffe wanted him continuing with Computer Science and his mother preferred that he remain going to University regardless of his field of study.
The last few days, Malcolm had mostly spent most getting acclimated and reading the syllabus. Beyond basic survival there was a considerable amount of training that involved skills that the Heer might have otherwise lost as technology had grown in importance that was taught here. Using equipment that was largely obsolescent but worked far better in icy climates as opposed to more modern gear that would become inoperable if it froze was a major part of that. There was also Celestial Navigation, Malcolm was not aware if the Heer taught people how to use a sextant anywhere else.
Everyone assumed that he knew what was expected of him, which was a nice change. He had figured that he would stand out, seeing that he had Luftwaffe patches on his coat. To Malcolm’s surprise, he didn’t. There were people here from all the Service Branches and there was talk about a joint expedition with Denmark and Canada to Baffin Bay. The instant Malcolm heard that he realized that it had not been an accident that he had been recruited.
Malcolm had thought that he might be able to finagle a trip to Antarctica. That would have to wait. Greenland or the High Canadian Arctic were almost as good by his measure.
Bodega Bay, California
It had been Lucia who had pointed out that they had not gone on an actual vacation in ages. Between work, school, starting a family, there had always been too much going on for them to think about anything other than what was in front of them at right that second. Lucia had far more in mind than just vegetating on the couch for a week or so. She wanted out of Los Angeles for a couple weeks, someplace they had never been before.
Years earlier, John Cassey had told Ritchie about Bodega Bay, a small fishing village north of San Francisco as a place to go if the goal was to escape from the world. With Ritchie’s mother watching Steven while they were out of town; he and Lucia had bid the heat, smog and traffic of Los Angeles farewell and had flown far to the north, to Santa Rosa and then a swift drive to the coast in a rental car.
While Ritchie had no expectations as to what they would find when they arrived in Bodega Bay, it was difficult to believe that they were in the same State as Los Angeles in the middle of the summer. It was a rugged coastline with rocky beaches, cliffs and windswept hills that were shrouded in low clouds. Lucia loved it though and that was good enough him.
Exploring Bodega Bay’s waterfront, it was impossible not to notice thousands of gulls and the smell of fish. T-shirts, refrigerator magnets, smoked salmon, and saltwater taffy were on sale in the touristy shops. It was odd seeing places like that open next door to shops geared to sell equipment to the fishing fleet that was based here.
As they worked their way down the waterfront, Ritchie noticed a man giving him a hard stare.
“Can I help you?” Ritchie asked.
“You got some nerve” The man said, something about the way that he talked was familiar, but Ritchie couldn’t place where he may have known him from. “A Dodgers cap.”
Ritchie had worn his ballcap without any thought. He had heard stories about how this was Giants’ territory.
“You don’t remember me Valenzuela?” The man asked with a smile, “Do you?”
That was when the man got into a pickup truck. He was laughing as he closed the door, started up the engine and drove off. It was only then that Ritchie remembered he was someone who he had not thought about in years.
“Who was that?” Lucia asked.
“Before I got into the Green Beret, I was in the 82nd” Ritchie replied. “He was a Sergeant in my Platoon back then.”
“Small world, I guess” Lucia said.