Hans hated tower duty. That hadn’t always been true, but nothing was the same since Marigny.

He no longer liked the silence, or the solitude. He no longer enjoyed reading, and especially not about philosophy. He didn’t like anything that reminded him of that night. The constant pain was reminder enough. His shattered femur had never healed properly; walking was agony, and sitting was only marginally better. Breathing was still difficult; he was convinced that splinters of his four broken ribs had worked their way into his lungs, no matter what the doctors said. And he could no longer turn his head to the right, thanks to the damage done to his spine.

After his long months of recovery, he wanted nothing more than to go back to Hesse, marry Famke, and take over his father’s bakery, like he’d always planned. But there was a war on, and it was determined that he was well enough yet to serve. And if the assignment wasn’t bad enough (he tried his best to ignore the horror stories of the men who served guard duty inside the lab building; surely they must be joking!), they put him back on tower duty. He asked for a different job, pleaded even, but they wouldn’t listen. He had experience, after all.

Now he played solitaire by the flickering light of a candle. Anything to make the long, dark hours pass more quickly. Anything to make him forget his many hurts. A noise drifted into his window, distant and faint. It might have been machinery, and… were those birds? He abandoned his game and climbed the ladder to the roof. For a moment, he was actually glad of the distraction. Surely, whatever it was couldn’t be dangerous. No one even knew they were out here, in the middle of nowhere! Eager to solve this mystery, he flicked the switch on his massive spotlight…