|The gateway... draped with the conquering symbols.|
The short approach road to the main building was walled on either side, not meant for large vehicles. The staff car in front, swept through the archway of the imposing building, and on into the ancient cobbles of the inner courtyard. Following suit, the trucks behind fanned out, braking loudly, their engines roaring in grizzly echoes between the four high walls. Suddenly a thousand faces were at windows, looking down as the trucks disgorged their human cargo; a hundred of Germany’s finest, jackbooted and coal-scuttle helmeted. As they spread out, their machine guns held at the ready, they looked cold and imposing.
|The iconic image of Edinburgh Castle,|
The officers filed into the main entrance, their grim-faced soldiers behind.
“I am Captain Schoenberg. You have an hour to empty the building.” His expression did not expect protest. The generals behind him smiled in anonymity, looking smugly around. The soldiers were already filing into corridors on either side, and up wide staircases. The headmaster, roused by the commotion, soon made his way to the entrance, only to be buffeted outside into the courtyard. “What do you think you’re doing?” he protested, only to be nudged heartily in the ribs by a machine gun butt.
The haloed halls echoed with men’s guttural orders, their stereotypical brevity made no less forceful by the pupil’s and teacher’s understanding. “Raus! Raus! Schnell!” The boys had been brought up to Capt. W. E. Johns’ Biggles adventures, but now the cries were here, in their classrooms and hallways, forcing them out of classes and out into the courtyard.
Schoolboy cries soon joined the German ones, protests, screams, the plaintive cries of the younger boys.
It made no difference… just a thousand yards from the battlements of Edinburgh Castle, the infamous George Heriot’s School building had suddenly become the German headquarters in Edinburgh.
As a writer, it's quite strange when a story takes over your imagination and writes itself. The above was one such case.
In my new Avenging Steel Alternative History series, I had decided that my character was going to George Heriot's School to a clandestine meeting. He walked past Greyfriar's Bobby on Forrest Road, and turned the corner onto Lauriston Place. I was remembering the imposing entrance to the school, thinking of its tall railings, the school grounds, the playing fields, the wonderful square baronial building with its interior courtyard... then the words just appeared on my page... the German trucks rolling through the archways, the noise in the courtyard, the jackbooted terrors kicking the pupils out onto the street... it made perfect sense... George Heriot's building would make the perfect Headquarters building in Edinburgh...
My character would have to make his clandestine meeting somewhere else.
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