A Darkened Dock
It is a miserable night in the New York City docks as a slender, forlorn figure strides down the steps of the newly docked cargo ship. It is a cold, damp night in late October of 1942 and the ship in the docks has just returned from Liverpool having dropped supplies to England for them to continue the fight against the Nazi powers. The ship's crew are beginning to clean the ship down after a long, hard voyage full of narrow escapes from Nazi U-boats. In their concentration, no-one has noticed the dark figure edging his way towards the city from the boat.
Anatoli Demidov reaches a cargo container and stops to draw breath. Even for a man brought up in the cold tundra of Siberia, the late autumn nights in NYC can still provide a chill to the bones. Tonight is one of those nights and Anatoli pulls his dark overcoat closer around his shoulders. The perimeter fence is in sight. Safety beckons only a few hundred yards away. At no point does Anatoli even consider the possibility of capture; why would he? After all, he has evaded capture from the ship's crew during a perilous four week voyage across the Atlantic Ocean.
"Americans," he thinks to himself, "what do they know about spying?". A torch appears, startling Anatoli slightly and causing him to duck into a nearby alleyway. The elderly watchman approaches and, without realising, gains a look of utter disdain from the shadows. Pearl Harbour was attacked little under a year ago and many of the younger men have entered the draft or volunteered to fight for their country. The docks original watchman was one of these young men and his position was taken by an Italian-American who was too old for military duties. Hence, the new watchman at the docks.
The guard stops, pauses and lights his pipe. He continues his walk towards the ship to meet the crew who he hasn't seen for a few months. Anatoli checks the way to the perimeter fence is safe and begins a quick walk, through the shadows towards the gate. Other his shoulder he can hear the watchman talking to the boat crew.
"See any Krauts this time boys?" he calls to the exhausted crew.
"Few, here and there, didn't stand a chance against us though!" they holler back, partially out of relief.
Anatoli, on the other hand, is now through the gate and slides away in to the relative safety of the New York City night. He is a Russian spy and has only one task while he in the United States. He has been tasked with investigating anything and everything to do with the nuclear research that is being carried out in the country and to report it all back to his seniors. The Manhattan Project is only in its infancy but sometimes in war nothing remains a secret. This black project certainly hasn't remained a secret to Moscow
He has been practising for months. As one of Russia's finest spies, it was always anticipated that he would be assigned to the US during this most brutal of wars. Initially, no-one knew what the assignment would be but, as time went on, it became clear that Anatoli's mission would be to investigate the nuclear research and, with any luck, capture some industrial secrets for his bosses in Moscow. In his haste to reach the underground safehouse he mentally goes through the briefing letter given to him by a Red Army general only a month ago.
"Dear Anatoli," he thinks to himself, "Dammit, foolish mistake, I must remember that this name doesn't exist anymore. My name is Frank Simmons and I am not a Russian anymore."
Needless to say, he now possesses a flawless Upper East Side accent. However, he doesn't intend to use it too much as the goal is to keep out of the public eye as much as possible. As he walks past the people and sights that are so unfamiliar, but yet must become familiar to him, noone bats an eyelid. Meticulous detailing means he looks just like any other American dressed in a raincoat and wide brimmed hat. One block, two blocks, three blocks, Anatoli continues to follow the route that he memorised all that time ago. Finally, he spots what he is looking for. To the untrained eye, nothing would appear amiss. Yet to him, he finds exactly what he has been looking for. There, so low down, out of the usual eyeline is a tiny carving in the green wooden door. A small square with a pattern resembling a mushroom has been carved into the door. Anatoli knocks three times on the door and waits.