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Helen and the Angel

The late spring sun was beating down on the back of Reginald Walker as he was working the ground of the flower garden of his home. His blue cotton shirt was showing stains of sweat and the odd splash of dirt. Outside of a few friends and acquaintances, most people would have never taken him for someone who enjoyed gardening. Most people who knew him only saw the stiff, proper business side of him.

The rumble of his phone he had in his trouser pocket interrupted his work. Reginald pulled one of his gloves off and then reached into his pocket for his phone. After seeing who the message was from, he put his phone back in his pocket. He walked over to the shed and put the hoe and his gloves away before going inside.

Once inside, he went to his study and sat down in front of his computer. When he glanced at the screen, he saw there was a group call waiting.

Reginald picked up his spectacles from beside the computer and put them on before unlocking the computer and hitting ‘connect.’ After a few seconds, the computer connected to the virtual conference room. Waiting for him was one other person. The picture showed a generic graphic of a woman with Greek letter iota underneath..

“Good day, Mr. Walker. I hope I did not interrupt anything important,” the computerized woman’s voice said.

Sitting up straight in his chair, Reginald said, “No, ma’am. I was just doing some gardening. How may I be of assistance?”

“Something has come to my attention. I don’t think it is enough to warrant involving all the others yet, but I would like a second opinion.”

“I’m sorry ma’am. My duties exclude me from involving myself in deciding what items we research. I can only facilitate in gathering information on approved research matters.”

“If requested, can you see if any of the others are available?”

Reginald leaned back in his chair for a moment. This was a strange request, especially when coming from one of the Alexandrian. When he took the job as their liaison forty years ago, he did not know the type of research they did, or the requests they would make.

The Alexandrians, themselves, were a mystery. In his time working for them, he had met none of them in person, or at least not that he was aware of. He only knew them by their aliases. Letters of the Greek alphabet. When he communicated with them, their faces and voices were masked. Except for Iota responding to “Ma’am,” Reginald did not know if Iota really was a woman.

For all their secrecy and seemingly limitless resources, outside of set times or rare emergencies, they never contacted one another. This made Reginald one of the few people who could reach out to them at almost any time.

Sitting back up, Reginald said, “Do you wish for me to see who is available, or did you have someone specific you wished to talk with?”

“I would prefer Tau or Chi, but any who are available will do.”

“One moment ma’am.” Reginald reached back into his trouser pocket and pulled out his phone. He scanned the list of the Alexandrians to see who was available. “I’m reaching out to Lambda. It seems he is the only one currently available.”

“He will do.”

“I never took you as a flower person, Mr. Walker. What types do you have?”

“No flowers, just vegetables. Something my mum instilled in me as a boy. My grandmother and her kept a victory garden during World War II and they never stopped. You may say I’m carrying on a legacy.” he said in his dry, business manner as he tapped away on his phone.

The animated image of Iota nodded slightly. “I have met some older Brits who would rather keep a vegetable garden than flowers. I had thought it was mainly because of the connection between flowers and funerals. It is refreshing to hear that there is a more practical reason for it.”

Just then, the screen changed as a new caller joined. Like Iota, this person was represented by an animated character of a man, but with the symbol for lambda.

“Good day,” came the automated voice that sounded like the synthesizer that Dr. Hawking had used. “I don’t want to sound rude, but I have a flight to catch in an hour. If we can not finish by then, I will send Mr. Walker my schedule for the next couple of days so we can resume.”

“Thank you Lambda. I think this shouldn’t take that long,” Iota said.

“So Iota, Mr. Walker said you needed a second opinion on something?”

Iota’s image nodded as they seemed to reach towards the camera. “Yes. I just sent both of you two files a Miner came across. It is a report of an incident with an American bomber and it crew during World War II. I am sorry the document has not been fully revealed yet.”

The Miners. Individuals highly skilled at scouring the internet for information out in the public domain. If something ever passed through the internet, the Miners could find it. Though independent of the Alexandrians, they often provided them with information.

Reginald opened the report file he just received and looked at the letterhead, which bore a stamp of ‘top secret’ and showed someone had removed its redaction. This was not the first time Reginald had seen a document that had redactions that the Alexandrians had unmasked.

Lambda said, “It looks like an after action report. Is there some significance to it?”

“Office of Special Actions? I am not familiar with them,” Reginald said as he read the report.

“Exactly, neither am I. That is, in part, why I wanted a second opinion. If you would read the hi-lighted portions.”

Department of War

Office of Special Action

Date: 13-July, 1944

File: 944192-0021 – Document 7

Ref: After action report on B-17 423482 from 9-Jul, 1944

Below is the transcript of the interview of 1st Lt. Andrews regarding events that occurred on 9 July, 1944. Wing Commander Cheatum (RAF) and Major Dewey (US Army Air Corps) conducted the interview on 11 July at . Also in attendance was the stenographer, 2nd Lt. Howe (US Army).

Major Dewey (Maj.): Lieutenant Andrews, at ease and please sit down. I’m Major Dewey of the OSA. This is my British counterpart, Wing Commander Cheatum of the RAF. Before we begin, would you like something to drink? Coffee or tea?

Lt. Andrews (Lt.): No, sir. Do you have a problem with me smoking?

Wing Commander Cheatum (WC.): Go ahead Leftenant.

Lt.: May I ask what this is about? I’ve already filed my report about what happened back at base.

Maj.: We will get to that in a moment. This interview is being conducted into the events on 9 July, 1944 involving a US Army Air Corps B-17G bomber, tail number 23482.

Lt.: The Helen, sir.

WC.: The Helen, Leftenant?

Lt.: Yes, sir. Some of us have a Helen, wife or girlfriend, back home, so we decided to call our bird ‘Helen.’

Maj.: Tail number 23482, also known as Helen. This interview is being conducted on 11 July, 1944, at approx 0810 Zulu by Wing Commander Cheatum of the RAF and Major Dewey of the Army Air Corps. For the record Lieutenant, please state your name, rank, and serial number.

Lt.: Andrews, Marcus Leonidis. First Lieutenant, United States Army Air Corps. Serial number .

Maj.: Lieutenant Andrews, please be aware any false statements you make here will result in prosecution to the fullest extent of military law.

Lt.: Yes, sir.

WC.: Very well Leftenant. Please describe the events of that day.


Maj.: After your bomb run, what happened next?

Lt.: After we dropped our bombs, our formation opened up some to help protect against the flak. The plan was to maintain thirty-thousand feet and a heading of three-five-zero until the last group hit their target. Then we would turn left to return to the rally point and hopefully link up with B Group to return home.

Approximately three minutes after we dropped our load, we heard the call for bombs away for B Group and started to make our turn. The flak we were taking was still heavy, and we could hear it bouncing off of Helen. During our turn, a round went off near Helen that shook the whole plane. The left wing felt like it was dragging. (RWG) reported smoke from engine number four and (CP) noticed that the manifold pressure on it was dropping.

Lt.: In order to compensate, I pulled the throttle back on number one and increased on the other two. It was already clear we couldn’t hold our spot in the box. By the time we had completed the turn, we had already fallen back in the formation.

Lt.: As a precaution, if we lost number four, I started feathering it and number one. By the time we reached the rally point, we had completely fallen out of formation and were down to twenty-eight thousand.

Maj.: How far back were you from your group at this point?

Lt.: I would say about three miles.

Maj.: And how far from B Group?

Lt.: They were a mile to the east of us and below. They made their run at twenty-five thousand.

WC.: Did you try to link up with B Group?

Lt.: No, sir. I was concerned about keeping altitude to get over the mountains and didn’t want to descend at that time unless I had to. Helen was struggling to hold altitude.

WC.: Very well, continue.

Lt.: It took us about fifteen minutes to make it to Austria. We had dropped to about twenty-three thousand. I gave the order to ditch our guns, ammo and anything else we didn’t need to lighten Helen. and I discussed turning west for Switzerland as we were still losing altitude and number four had next to nothing for manifold pressure. Fortunately, it didn’t seem like we were losing any fuel.


Maj.: In your initial report, you said four German 109s attacked you from ‘one o’clock.’ Please elaborate.

Lt.: Yes, sir. (FE) was up in his turret and made the call. I guess they were patrolling at around twenty thousand feet. Initially, we thought we might get by them as there was some cloud cover around them.

Maj.: And your altitude at the time?

Lt.: About sixteen thousand.

Maj.: Go on.

Lt.: As I said, I thought we might have given them the slip, but then we noticed them roll over and dive on us. I had never been so scared in my life. We had no guns and Helen was doing all she could to hold altitude. I was sure we were all going to die.

WC.: What happened next, Leftenant?

Lt.: (RO) called out two more bandits from above and behind us on the right side. (RWG) also spotted them and corrected that they were friendlies, jugs.

WC.: ‘Jugs,’ Leftenant?

Lt.: Sorry, P-47’s. I think they were from the 99th as their rudders were painted red. Anyway, these two P-47’s made a pass at the 109s intercepting them. They got a hit on the lead as he started to trail smoke.

Because the P-47’s caught the Germans off guard, they pulled out of their initial attack on us, but quickly regrouped and tried to bear down on us again as the P-47’s had to circle back around. They came around from our left to right and met the German’s head on.

I’ve heard that those P-47’s can deliver a punch, but I could never imagine it could do what it did. They tore that lead 109 to shreds like it was paper. But the other three 109’s got their payback.

They were determined to get past the P-47’s and to get to us; they opened fire. The lead P-47 just exploded into a fireball. I had never seen something so bright and it was as if I could feel the heat off of it.

Maj.: Go on Lieutenant. Tell us what happened next.

Lt.: You are going to think I’m crazy, but I swear to you this happened. I thought we had one chance, and that was to turn into those German fighters. Just as I was preparing to turn, (FE), (RO), and (RWG) were all saying something about an angel.

About that time, I saw it. Honest to God, it was an angel. His skin was black, but he was wearing a white robe that had a red tail to it. In one hand, he had a spear and in the other; he had a shield.

He took up a position between us and the Germans, as if he was trying to defend us.

I don’t know how, but when the Germans opened up on us, nothing hit us. We saw some rounds hit this angel, but they just bounced off. As they passed over us, this angel swung its spear at them like he was Paul Bunyan. When I looked out the left side, I first noticed part of a wing, then the tail section of one of the 109s.

WC.: We’re not here to judge you, Leftenant. Just get the facts. Did you see where this ‘angel’ came from?

Lt.: No, sir. But (FE) had the best view from his turret. He says the angel came out of the fireball when the P-47 exploded.

Anyway, the other two Germans peeled off. I don’t think they had any more stomach for trying to finish Helen. After they turned tail, the angel and the remaining P-47 got in formation with us until we got closer to Italy.

Shortly before we got to Italy, the angel flew in front of us and, I guess, saluted us.

Maj.: Saluted you? How?

Lt.: Like I said, he was in front of Helen, and looking back at us. Then he raised his spear to his face before lowering it and flew off into the sun. About five minutes later, two more P-47’s picked us up and led us back to base.


WC.: Other than the gunfire and explosion, did you see any other lights or anything unusual?

Lt.: Unusual? In what way?

Maj.: Strange aircraft, unusual clouds or weather conditions.

Lt.: I tell you I’m not crazy. All of us saw it.

WC.: No one is saying you are crazy, Leftenant. That is for medical personnel to determine. We are here to verify reports and gather facts. There are a few more things that Major Dewey and I need to investigate.

Maj.: The Wing Commander and I are trying to determine if what you saw was a natural event, or a man made one. And if it is man made, is it friend or foe? You are not the first to report something unusual and we have returned everyone else to their duties.

It will probably take a few days, so try to relax and enjoy the R and R.


Addendum, 13 July, 1944.

The crew of B-17, tail number 42-3482, the “Helen”, have been advised that the events on 9 July were inaccurately reported.

The actual facts are that after there were two flights of P-47’s that defended 42-3482. After the loss of Lt. Carol’s aircraft, the second flight of P-47’s engaged the remaining German aircraft. The crew of 42-3482 suffered trauma and hallucinations because of the explosion of Lt. Carol’s aircraft, which led them to believe they saw an angel, which in fact was the second flight of P-47’s.

The crew remains sequestered at this time.

Addendum 17 July, 1944.

Currently, this incident is under review by the OSA board. It is the recommendation of field personnel that this incident, and all relevant material, be struck.

“Angels? Quite intriguing Iota. Have you tried to authenticate this?” Lambda asked.

“Yes. I can find no mention of the Office of Special Actions, Wing Commander Cheatum, Major Dewey, or Lieutenant Andrews. When I search for the plane’s tail number, it is as if it does not exist. I found a Lieutenant Carol of the U.S. Army who was a pilot with the 100th Fighter Squadron and is listed killed in action on July 9, 1944.”

Reginald looked at the date of the incident. “Same day.”

Lambda shook his head. “Most likely a hoax. It seems highly improbable that something like this could be covered up so well. I wouldn’t spend resources on it. Besides, it is probably just another case of ‘foo fighters.’”

Iota nodded and said, “I would agree, except for the photographs.”

Reginald began opening up the pictures that Iota had sent with the report. The first picture he opened was a picture of an American B-17 looking like it may have just come off the assembly line. His finger twitched as he started to click to bring up the next photo, when something caught his attention. He saw the tail number: 23482. He looked at the other pictures. They were of a B-17 showing the damage it had taken during its mission. Some pictures showed the tail number 23482.

“Incredible. Are these authentic?” Lambda asked.

“All examinations say they are,” Iota responded. “And a different Miner found them than the one who found the document.”

Lambda leaned back and folded his hands in front of his mouth. There was silence for several seconds before Lambda suddenly leaned forward. “Mr. Walker, do you have any teams that would be suitable to investigate this should we need them?”

“Yes, Lambda. Do you wish me to make this an official case?”

“Not at this time,” Lambda said, shaking his head. “For now, let us send a notice to the Miners to see if we can get more information. There appears to be at least six more documents on this.. Iota, let us bring this up at our next meeting. Do you mind if I share this with Xi? I am to meet with him tomorrow to discuss something else.”

She nodded and said, “Yes. I will send you my personal notes on this as well.”

“Thank you. Since there is nothing else.” Lambda’s screen went black before a red ‘disconnected’ message appeared.

There was a moment of awkward silence before Reginald spoke. “Ma’am. I have an old friend whose grandfather was an American officer during the war. A Lieutenant Colonel Dewey. I will reach out to my friend, to see specifically what his grandfather did during the war.”

“Do you think there is a connection?” Iota asked.

“Most likely just a coincidence of names. But supposedly the Lieutenant Colonel and my friend’s grandmother first met when she was working at Fighter Command Headquarters. When my friend was stationed at RAF Bentley Priory in the 1970s, he asked if she would like to come see him on holiday. She said she would like to, as she had never been to Harrow.”

Iota shook her head. “I don’t see a connection.”

Reginald cleared his throat some and said, “RAF Bentley Priory was Fighter Command Headquarters during World War II and is in Harrow.”

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