Billy Bunter looked in the mirror.Two years had passed since he left school. Greyfriars school for young gentlemen had finally made a man of him.
Back then he was an obese, corpulent, extremely fat boy. He had survived his education. If those beastly young men who bullied him mercilessly could see him now.
Billy had turned eighteen when he left school and had found employment in a small back street power-lifting gym.
A good head for figures had landed him a job running the accounts. It was here he met an old man, William Wilson, who took him under his wing and trained him in the art of nutrition and body building.
Incredibly Billy lost the weight rapidly and discovered he was an athlete. All six foot seven of him was a lean, muscular, lithe physique.
Wilson was a fellow Englishman with a mysterious background. He was an old man and yet looked remarkably young. He became a mentor for Billy and would play a significant role in the life of Billy Bunter.
War had broke out over Europe and Billy enlisted in the British army. Now he was private Billy Bunter of the Queens Own 17th Hussars. One more proud glance in the mirror.
'If ****** wants Old Blighty that badly he better have an appetite for a lion.
We will show that old rotter a thing or two!'
Just then his fellow new recruit, Thomas Cowardman walked in.
A sleek young man of equal height to Billy, Cowardman was an officer and Billy was assigned to be his batman.
'Steady on old chap!' he said
'Your first thoughts will be to ensure I survive this war, Bunter!'
If even a hair of my brylcreamed head is knocked out of place it shall be you who is to blame! Understand Bunter?!'
Billy had met his type before in Greyfriars and knew how to handle him.
"Yes sir! If you get the honour of a Victoria Cross it will not be posthumous'
'That's the spirit Bunter! said Cowardman
'Glory and honour for England and all that, eh?'
'That's it sir! Billy responded.
'Look here sir, I have made you a brew of your favourite tea. Earl Grey sir'
'Good man Bunter. Now remove yourself from my quarters.
You are beginning to annoy me old chap.
Is that a smell of body odour I detect?
Go on and scrub up wont you?
It wouldn't be seen for me to have an unhygienic batman would it?
Billy was as fresh as a new dawn and had only taken a shower. He knew Cowardman was setting out his place in the hierarchy.
'Good idea, Sir!'Billy said.
Suddenly a young woman knocked on the door.
Yes? said Cowardman
'Private Bunter is required immediately by Major Wilson'
'Well Bunter, hop to it!'
Billy left the room and Cowardman was alone with his thoughts.
'What in God's good name do they want with an ignoramus like Bunter?' he thought.
'Well, what of it. If that bufoon Wilson wants a word with Bunter I will worm it out of that moran. Billy Bunter? What in the name of all that is unholy. Billy Bunter. What kind of a peasant is he?'
All these thoughts ran through him. Lifting the cup of Earl Grey he gently poured a slug of gin into it and sipped it back.
'I hear he went to that decrepid grammar school with Caruthers. Greyfriars! he snorted with derision. What has become of the empire? A sneaky chuckle emitted from his pale thin lips.
Greyfriars? Bunter? The Empire?
What a howl.The flower of England is it? Haw haw haw!
Chapter two: --------------------------
'At ease Bunter' said Major Wilson.
'Sir! Yes, sir!
Two other men, in civilian clothing, sat beside Wilson. One of then wore an eye monocle. He glared at Billy as though he were an insect beneath a microscope.
A serious looking fellow in a pinstripe with an elegant handlebar moustache.
The other chap was a rugged looking man. His eyes pierced Billy's with fierce intensity.
'Well Bunter, who would have predicted the war eh?'
'From what I hear sir, Prime Minister Churchill read their cards from their very beginnings.
'Odious vermin' I think he called them. Rightly too sir! The jackboot of **** Germany will not stomp on England's fair fields if I have my way sir!
'Excellent Bunter, well said old fellow!'
The two men in civilian clothes remained silent.
'Now to business, Bunter'
'You are here because I have made contact with the War Office'
'I have met directly with Churchill himself'
'Before I say another word you must first be sworn into the Official Secrets Act'
'These two gentlemen will speak to you in detail once you have done so'
In that moment Billy Bunter became a covert agent in the Secret Service.
His mission was explained in full detail.
'Now, old chap' said the monocled gentleman.
'Your role as Batman to Officer Cowardman, an unfortunate appellant, is a cover only.
'We, along with our Czech friends, have decided to take out, that is, assassinate Reinhard Heydrich'
'You, Bunter, will be a part of the assassination team'
'As will Cowardman whom we shall speak to next'
'You will be sent to a secret military base and given full training in weaponry, spying and hand to hand combat'
Billy Bunter was shocked to the core. Here he was, a Greyfriars graduate about to explode on the map of History.
'Congratulations, old chap!' said Wilson
'Now go and get Cowardman. Do not say word until he is briefed'
Billy returned to Cowardman's quarters.
'Your presence is required in Major Wilsons office Sir'
'Is it now?'
'Polish my boots old chap and have them gleaming when I return'
Cowardman looked at Billy with disgust.
Perhaps I am getting a new batman he hoped.
Cowardman knocked on the door of Wilsons office.
'Come in Cowardman!'
The door of History opened and **** Germany were in for a rude awakening.
Chapter three : following soon-------
At ease, Cowardman. At ease'.
'Yes sir Major Wilson'
'Has Bunter said anything to you?'
'About his meeting just now'
'Good. A fine splendid fellow'
'What do you think of him, Cowardman'
'If you don't me speaking candidly Sir?'
'Well Sir, I feel he is insufficiently educated to be an officers batman. His diction and vocal inflection are to be desired. I fear he is cannon fodder and to continue with that phrase perhaps a loose cannon.
'Anything else Cowardman? '
'If I may sir request he is transferred elsewhere. After all isn't it beneath my station, an Oxford graduate, to be subject to the dregs of society'.
'That will do Cowardman'
'I will ask you to keep in mind that your Country is at war. Any man willing to shoulder a rifle is deserving of respect.
If Bunter dies in this war, his patriotism is no less than yours'
'Do I make myself clear, Cowardman?
'Sir! Yes Sir!'
Cowardman's guts were churning. He knew he had overstepped his position. Wilson looked flush with anger and was red in the gills.
'I have chosen you Cowardman for a dangerous mission. It may be that you do not survive it such is the nature of warfare.
I believe though that you will survive it'
'I believe further that Bunter is the reason you will survive'
'I know character when I see it Cowardman. You may yet redeem yourselve in my standing.
'It is because you speak German as good as the Fuhrer that I have chosen you. Also you are an educated man and you will be ideal in the circles of the upper society of the *****. You are going to Germany, Cowardman'
'Now, before I say anything further we must first swear you into the covert agency. The official secrets act will be applicable'
Cowardman's face blanched. He felt his stomach churning and a nauseaus feeling crept into his gut. This was horrible news.
He felt he might pass out.
Was that buffoon Wilson out of his ****** mind. The fool! An old **** who had drank at the deep cups of life. While he, Cowardman, a young man only starting out.
This couldn't be happening.
**** Wilson! And this war he thought. **** Bunter too!'
The room started to spin.
'Sit down old fellow won't you?'
'I can see you are bursting with pride at this opportunity to bring honour to your country and your family name'
'Well done old boy!'
Wilson poured a scotch on the rocks for himself and a plain sparkling water for Cowardman.
'Your good health, Cowardman!' said Wilson
Cowardman was seething with fury. He was sworn in and briefed about the mission.
'Good Christ! Are they mad? Assassinate Reinhard Heydrich? ******'s man with the heart of iron! In **** occupied Prague.
It's a suicide mission he wailed inwardly.
Those Nazis were tough mother ******* and enjoyed the killing.
By God, he thought, Bunter will suffer for this
'I will punish him for the hell of it' he thought to himself
'Now Cowardman, remember Bunter is a batman as a cover only. You are both of equal rank in the old boys network. You know how it works'
Cowardman was raging. 'Outrageous! was what he wanted to scream.
'When do we set out, Bunter and I, for training Sir? '
'You will be flown to the training camp in a Hawker Hurricane.
'How exciting is that!'
'A Hawker Hurricane Sir? '
'What did you expect, Cowardman?'
'A Spitfire perhaps Sir?'
'Splendid! Splendid! guffawed Wilson
'The fellow has a sense of humour after all'
The room exploded with gales of laughter.
Cowardman tried his best to put on a brave face. But bravery and Cowardman were polar opposites. He was trembling at the prospects of flying into the training camp let alone **** Germany.
'Bunter, he thought, you will be my body guard old boy' By God you will make sure I get out with my skin intact'
'Dismissed till nine a.m Cowardman'
'Thank you Sir for placing your confidence in me'
'Not at all my boy!'
Cowardman left the office with his lily white liver in his cowardly throat'
Even his footsteps felt sorry for him as he paraded down the hall back to his quarters.
Chapter four - to follow
A nod to Charles Hamilton and George McDonald Fraser