This story was written for the
2006 TIWF Halloween challenge and took me to an unknown territory
once again I've never written horror before. I tried to make
it scary, but I don't think I succeeded; it's more weird than
The lights were humming and
Gordon was sure that the bloody handprint on the wall hadn't
been there before...
smelled very, very nasty.
the first thing that came to Gordon's mind as he slowly opened
his eyes. The stench made his eyes water and left him feeling
nauseous. Gods, had he forgotten to take out the rubbish
again? But no, it never smelled that bad; there was something
akin to acid in the air, burning painfully in his nose.
curse he rolled around and winced as something sharp prodded
in his side. Why as he lying on the floor? The last thing he
had been doing well that was...he couldn't remember?
those glass shards?
eyes flew wide open as his mind finally connected with the
sensory input. In one fluid motion he sat up and regretted it
immediately when a swirling headache threatened to let him see
his dinner for a second time that day. He clamped one hand
over his mouth and waited for the nauseous feeling to pass.
Only his willpower prevented him from spewing all over the
hell?" he muttered, his eyes sweeping around the room. It
seemed to be a lab of some sort, a scientist's dream come
true: distillers, blinking screens, test tubes and Erlenmeyer
flasks filled with obscure liquids, bunsen burners of all
sizes, petri dishes with strange cell cultures, and other
objects he dimly remembered from his own, long-passed
chemistry lessons at school.
himself was sitting on the ground amidst a huge mess of glass
shards and a puddle of some clear liquid. His hands were wet,
as was one side of his face. The pungent smell seemed to come
from the numerous chemicals around him.
trash then. That was a relief.
cut ran along his left hand, not deep enough to be a bother,
but enough to hurt. He frowned at it, as though it was solely
to blame for his predicament.
no one around, he was all alone. That was strange; Gordon had
always expected a place like this to be full of people who
hustled and bustled and did all kinds of weird things, like
sewing ears to mice and inventing unmeltable chocolate.
he asked, but his voice only echoed through the lab. No
down at himself, Gordon realized that he was in his IR-Uniform,
though it looked a bit worse for the wear. His torch lay not
far away from him and he grabbed it, glad to have at least
something familiar nearby.
So he was
probably on a rescue, he reasoned, and had somehow passed out
in this room. An accident? Maybe he had hit his head somewhere
that would explain the headache. But honestly, that was
embarrassing! The others would never let him live that down.
Well, not that he intended to tell them.
to his feet, Gordon grabbed the small headphones that had
fallen to the ground and settled them on his ears. "Gordon to
Mobile Control," his voice interrupted the eerie silence. But
nothing came back, not even static.
He glared at the offending puddle on the ground, which must be
the reason why his communication device wasn't working any
more. Well, he could always use his wrist watch, that one
should still be okay, though it wasn't as handy as the
Mobile Control," he repeated, while he was slowly making his
way towards the door. The lab was creeping him out, even
though he couldn't say exactly why. Maybe it was because he
couldn't remember coming here; everything was fuzzy, as though
he was seeing it through some sort of milky screen. They had
been on a rescue, and it had been a fire, that much he
remembered; but from then onwards it all became hazy, a
sequence of pictures that didn't make sense.
came to life with a crackling sound. He could hear Scott's
voice, giving strict orders and sounding tense. "Mobile
Control?" he prodded again.
Gordon, I'm rather busy is it an emergency?"
blinked. "Naw, not really-"
later. I've got to deal with this first." The connection was
cut before the redhead could even reply. Scowling at the
watch, he grumbled to himself. "Great! Thanks a lot Scott,
that really helped me!" But he couldn't help feeling a slight
spectre of worry. What was going on that had made Scott sound
wasn't a Tracy for nothing. Standing around here and worrying
wouldn't help matters at all, besides it would give him
wrinkles and he really didn't want to have a permanent scowl
attached to his face. And after all, he had a job, didn't he?
right. He was here to rescue people, and that he would do, no
matter how bad the smell. There had been no one in the lab and
no sign of danger, but who could say that about the rest of
that led out of the room were thick and sturdy; it was
apparent that they had been designed to withstand fire and
explosion. With all the chemicals Gordon had seen in the
cupboards, this didn't come as a surprise. Chemistry had never
been his favourite subject, but he knew that even the smallest
amount of some rare materials could wreak havoc. They didn't
even need to be rare, just the right combination of
some household items was enough to create a bomb as Alan
could prove formidably every time he managed to bring a
kitchen utensil to the point of melting.
chuckled to himself. Okay, he had to admit that the last
kitchen explosion had been halfway his fault as well, after
all he had placed the firecrackers in the toaster; but Alan's
face had been worth it.
wasn't locked, but quite heavy to open. Gordon pushed with all
his strength and slid through the opening.
hallway that greeted him was dimly lit (was it already dark
outside? How strange. The windows were black) and empty as
here?" Gordon called, but with the exception of the echo of
his own voice there was nothing to be heard.
fluorescent lights hummed above him; one of them was damaged
and flickered on and off. Gordon sent it an annoyed glare. He
hated it when those things got damaged; the flickering was
enough to make him aggravated. John had once told him that
some people could get epileptic fits from watching a
stroboscoping light too long. Seeing it now, Gordon could
perfectly understand why. Even when he wasn't looking at it,
he sensed the flickering and it was driving him nuts.
expensive building and they can't even afford proper lights?
What a waste." It was a relief to talk, even if he was only
addressing himself. With a shrug, he walked down the corridor,
suppressing the feeling of unease that grew in his stomach.
stairway was separated through a fire door. It was unharmed,
like the rest of the building, and no smoke could be seen.
Gordon sniffed the air, but found that his nose was still
blocked by the acid smell. That was strange. What was the
rescue for if not a fire?
the doors open and stepped into the stairway. This one was
brightly lit and none of the lights flickered, much to his
relief, though the humming sound stayed. It was almost like a
beehive from far, far away; threatening and moving.
went downward quite a bit, and yet there was no sound. It was
couldn't remember the last time he had had a silent rescue.
There were always people screaming in pain and fear, buildings
groaning, things exploding, the noise of the machines, the
orders over the communication link and all kinds of random
noises that simply belonged to a rescue.
silence? No. Silence meant death. If things were silent, then
that usually meant that International Rescue had come too
late. So far, Gordon had only witnessed that twice, and he
really didn't want to experience it again.
he asked again, just for the sake of hearing his own voice.
hummed constantly. It was really getting on his nerves, that
constant humming sound, and that was strange, because he was
used to the waves on the shoreline and this really wasn't all
that different...Gordon paused in his tirade. Something had
caught his attention.
he saw the handprint.
glistened in the bright light, a sharp contrast to the stark
white wall. He narrowed his eyes and stepped closer. It was
indeed a handprint; smaller than his own, but no doubt there,
wet and slick and burning red.
a sick feeling he realized that it was blood, not dirt or mud
or something else, as he had first assumed, and he wondered
where the unfortunate person was that had left it. Maybe he
or she? - was lying somewhere in this stairway, unable to
move, because he, Gordon, had managed to knock himself out
somehow? This was unacceptable!
He started down the stairway, spotting another handprint at
the corner. "I'm from International Rescue, I've come to
glared at the lights. "Shut up, you, I'm trying to do my work
them flickered. He passed it with his gaze firmly fixed on the
handprints led him three floors down and then they stopped.
Gordon looked at the closed door and at the stairway. He had
two possibilities; either the injured person had gone into the
corridor, or he had followed the stairway further down.
Without any more prints to follow, he had no other option; he
had to check both.
bone-weary, Gordon pressed down the handle, using all his
strength to push it open. Damn it, why did those doors have to
be so heavy, anyway? He wasn't exactly a weakling and yet it
seemed impossible to open them with one hand only. Softly
complaining about stupid architects and fate that chose to put
him in such a situation, he entered the hallway. Like the one
above, it was dimly lit. Most of the overhead lights had
stopped working, but there were a few that continued humming,
and one of them flickered.
sighed, ignored the light pointedly and switched on his torch.
The beam, though small and narrow, comforted him somehow;
after all, it was his light and he could control it as
he wanted to. Glancing around, he discovered a huge sign right
beside the doorway. "Biomedical Research Department" it read,
and under that, in smaller writing, "Professor Humphrey's
office is temporarily located in Room 213". Hm, maybe
Professor Humphrey was the one that had left all the bloody
prints? It seemed highly unlike for a professor to do, but
then again, people that were injured rarely acted in a
Gordon called out, received no reply, and entered the first
door of the hallway.
It led to
a broom cupboard.
in need of rescuing in there." He closed the door again
and continued his search.
door was big and heavy again, probably leading to another lab.
When he opened it, it revealed a dark room full of shadows.
Pressing the light switch didn't help much; only one of the
rows lit up, the others stayed dark.
anything working in here?" he frowned at the ceiling. "Hello?
Anyone here? I'm from International Rescue, I'm here to help."
He was slowly growing tired of shouting at empty air. Maybe he
should ask Virgil to make a scan of the building to discover
thermal activity, then he could save himself from all the
trouble...speaking of that, why hadn't he thought of that
earlier? It was a damn good idea!
saw the handprint.
it wasn't on the wall, but on the floor, the blood already
drying. It seemed as if the mysterious person had pushed
himself up; the blood was smeared along the ground and small,
red droplets were splattered all over. Gordon frowned and
knelt down to examine the tracks. How weird.
humming of the lights began to seriously irritate him. Was it
only his imagination or was it becoming louder? It became
almost a buzzing sound, like a bee that was somehow caught in
his eardrum. Gordon felt his eyebrow twitch as he passed by a
window that led to an adjoining room. Goddammit, what kind of
hell-hole was this? Man, was he looking forward to going back
to Tracy Island.
he spoke into his wrist device, but received only static.
Uh-Oh. That was weird. Those things were designed to withstand
No need to get afraid. He'd just look around the room, find
the injured person and carry him or her out to the rescue
site. Gordon nodded, glad that he had established a plan of
there's anybody here, could you please reply? Or make a
stepped around a row of tables full of incomprehensible
apparatus. The room was huge, but due to the various machines
and glass walls, it was impossible to see the other end.
Manoeuvring around the obstacles, he felt like walking through
a labyrinth; and a damn eerie labyrinth it was. Places like
this were supposed to be brightly lit and full of people in
white coats. Seeing them gloomy and full of shadows only
reminded him of old horror movies.
quite a few items laying around that indicated that someone
had been here recently. A half-filled cup of coffee; scribbled
notes, interrupted in the middle of writing; a sandwich,
shoved hastily in a drawer (probably due to the big sign 'No
Food allowed' that was featured an almost every wall;
scientists, so Gordon deducted with an amused smile, weren't
any different from normal people); and a computer that was
still running, the screen saver blinking at him in an almost
mocking fashion. Out of curiosity he moved the mouse, but a
password request popped up, so he left it as it was.
half-smile he turned around (John would have loved the
challenge, given the time) and froze in shock. There was
the..." Gordon stepped backwards, narrowing his eyes in
suspicion. The handprint wasn't on the floor this time, but on
the window that allowed the scientists to look into the next
room. However, Gordon had walked past that already but he
was sure that it hadn't been there at the time!
meant that it must have appeared while he had been playing
around with the computer.
in turn, was seriously creeping him out.
swallowed through the lump in his throat. There's no need
to be afraid, Gordon told himself. I just didn't see
it. I must have been occupied with something else. Yeah. I
must have overlooked it. I'm sure there's a reasonable
explanation for all this.
the torch tighter, he made his way towards the door that led
to the adjoining room, his eyes never leaving the bloody
print. Illuminated by the torch beam, it seemed almost black,
mocking him in his nervousness.
such a chicken," Gordon reprimanded himself, not liking the
fact how he was reacting. With a resolute frown on his
normally so cheerful face, he almost yanked the door open and
pointed the light inside. "Hello?"
His fingers searched for the light switch and found it almost
immediately. A soft click, and then brightness filled the
room, so hard and white that he had to close his eyes against
it. The humming sound hurt his eyes as if the lights were
about to explode at any given moment.
blinked until the red spots disappeared from his eyes. He
switched off the torch and hung it on his belt, taking the
time to look around the room he had discovered.
was white, even the cupboards. The floor was made of grey
concrete, with a huge metal sink in the corner and a table in
widened as he realized what kind of table it was. "Shit."
a cloth covering the whole length, and as his eyes became more
accustomed to the light, he could recognized faint outlines
under it. Outlines in a human shape.
examination room? Or...one used for autopsy? Or maybe a victim
had tried to hide in here and lost consciousness?
wasn't afraid of the dead he had seen far too many of them
for that to happen. So he crossed the room in three swift
strides and lifted the cloth of the body.
eyes stared back up at him. Once he must have been the same
age as Gordon; now he was a symphony of marred flesh and
lacerations, the blonde hair matted and filthy, green eyes
wide open and glassy looking. Even though it was obvious that
this person had been dead for more than a couple of minutes
(the stink of formalin filled the air), the aquanaut checked
for a pulse and was disappointed when he didn't find one.
then...who had left the handprints? The blood had been fresh,
they could be barely more than thirty minutes old! Yet there
wasn't anybody else in this room. It couldn't be...
took a step backwards from the corpse. No! Dead people didn't
walk around and leave prints all over the building. There had
to be an explanation for this. Maybe the victim was confused
and wandering around aimlessly...but why had he come in here?
And where was he now?
questions ran in a circle in his head. As much as he usually
liked figuring out mysteries, this one was growing a bit
crazy. He wiped sweaty hands at his trousers and pulled the
cloth back over the body.
around once more, he made sure that there really was nobody
else in the room (he even opened the cupboard, though no one
could be hiding in the small space unless he suffered from
serious anorexia). Then he made a swift exit and locked the
door shut. Only after his fingers had snapped the bolt into
place, he realized what a foolish action that had been. There
was no way in hell that the dead man could get out of there.
So why had he done it?
his head, he cut off that train of thought and consulted his
wrist comm again. It took his fumbling fingers a while to find
the right switch (for a moment he even forgot which one it
was; now that was strange), but then the comforting crackle of
static filled the air, sounding sharp and loud in his ears.
"Scott, you out there?"
profound relief, a voice immediately answered. "Gordon! Where
are you? You didn't reply!"
raised his eyebrows. First Scott brushed him off and now this?
"I'm okay, Scott."
His older brother actually sounded relieved. "Listen, you'd
better get out of there. Virgil has finished evacuating his
part, and you were finished as well, weren't you? Things are
getting a bit hot out here."
I think there might still be a person inside."
Scott sounded confused. "But you said earlier that you had
brought everyone out of the building!"
Gordon couldn't remember. That was really strange. "Maybe I
did, but I've seen signs of someone running around. There are
some really strange things going on here-" A sharp noise
startled him out of his explanation. It was an almost clacking
sound, so loud that it pounded in synch with his heart.
didn't get it. "Strange things? Gordon, are you really okay?"
clacking intensified. Gordon tensed. "Sure. Listen, Scott, I
gotta go, there's something happening."
can't just cut off-"
redhead did exactly that. After severing the conversation (oh
man, Scott would be furious), he made his way towards where
the noise was coming from with determined strides. What kind
of sound was that? It seemed like rhythmic tapping, something
musicians did unconsciously whenever the listened to some
music. It followed a certain pattern, one Gordon couldn't
figure out, because really, music was Virgil's thing and not
you?" he questioned, switching on his torch again to help him
look. A soft giggle weaved through the air, raising the hairs
on his neck.
the lights flickered. Gordon flinched and covered his ears as
suddenly the humming seemed to increase tenfold and then it
stopped. What...? He looked up, but the lights were still on,
and if he listened closely, they were humming, just not as
loud as before. Had he imagined it?
suspicious glance over his shoulder, he quickly finished his
inspection of the room and stepped out on the hallway to go to
the next one. The whole building was a maze, the rooms
twisting and turning in themselves so that one could never be
sure where exactly one was, especially with the light that
bad. Gordon did the sensible thing and followed his hearing;
the noise became louder as he made his way towards it.
something really, really wrong." he told himself and
shuddered. Maybe it was some kind of prank, played on him by
his brothers? But no, they'd never do that on a rescue, never
mind how furious they were. "But damn, I'm going to find out
what it is."
hallway ran past another door. The sounds seemed to come from
within the room it led to. Ignoring the dreadful feeling in
his stomach, he put his hands on the cold metal and pushed.
tapping stopped just as Gordon hurried through the opening.
The green emergency light was the only thing glowing in the
room; that and the beam of his torch. It seemed to be a
storage area of some kind shelves adorned the walls, and
there was a thick door at the other end that looked as if it
might lead to a giant refrigerator. Well, he certainly hoped
that his mysterious victim hadn't shut himself in there. But
there were no bloody prints to be seen at all, so he guessed
he was safe.
all kinds of boxes, glass jars and containers, some
see-through, some made of solid metal. It was difficult to
make out what exactly they were, but Gordon didn't really care
anyway. No signs of a living person; so what the hell had
produced the noise?
bodiless voice made him jump so that he stumbled forward and
almost crashed into the rows of shelves. Then he realized that
it came from his wrist and felt a bit sheepish.
answered, trying to calm down his racing heart. Gordon didn't
like to admit it, but the surroundings scared him more than
any earthquake disaster scene. Seriously, he wanted to get out
hell are you doing, cutting me off like that! And why weren't
you responding before? Are you in trouble?"
amazing how Scott managed to change from severely pissed to
extremely worried in the span of mere seconds. Gordon blinked
in a daze. "I don't really know," he replied in a distracted
fashion, still looking for anything that could have made the
tapping sound. Maybe one of the lids wasn't screwed on
properly so that something was falling on the ground? But no,
that wouldn't be so rhythmical. So, what else? It had come
from in here, and it had stopped just when he entered...maybe
something in the ventilation shaft?
again, the voice shocked him. "What?!"
blinked. "Ah. Not really. It's just that
flickered at the edge of his vision. Gordon narrowed his eyes
and inched closer.
worry in Scott's voice could be felt even over the long
distance. "Gordon, did you get hurt? Where are you? I want you
to come back right now!"
replied automatically, his mind going into the
being-lectured-at-mode, which meant that his mouth made
appropriate comments while his mind focused on different
tasks. He was absolutely sure that there had been something
where you are!"
That was a
command, and commands were to be obeyed. "Uh...somewhere in
the Biomedical Department," was Gordon's vague reply. He
peered around a big box and saw a row of glass containers.
Scott continued babbling into his ear, but he ignored him,
intent on finding out what was annoying him so much.
were only glass containers. Nothing could move...
it happened again. Something swished just before him, a mere
flicker in the half darkness. Gordon whirled around and
pointed his torch into the direction it had come from. He
froze. There was indeed something moving. And it was. Inside.
stumbled backwards, eyes wide, before he recovered himself and
laughed nervously. "Ah I bet I know what it is...it must be
fish, an aquarium."
because, well, it couldn't really be anything else, could it?
Scott, obviously, didn't understand anything. "Gordon, that
settles it, I'm sending someone in after you, stay right where
of the sentence was drowned out by the sudden rush of noise in
his ears. Gordon inched closer to the container, trying to
prove himself that it was only fish only to find out that
there weren't any fish, nor an aquarium for that matter.
found himself staring at an oblong glass container with a face
in it. And the face was looking at him.
very cold trickled down his back. There was no denying it. The
face stared right back at him, hell, it even blinked! A slow
smirk spread over it. A long, thing finger appeared out of
nowhere and tapped against the glass.
had been the noise. Gordon's hand startled trembling. The
smirk grew wider, and then the face opened its mouth, as if it
wanted to say something and...
so horribly distorted that it was impossible to make out
whether it was male or female. He yelped in fear as it went
right through him, to his very core and seemed to shatter
something inside his heart. Suddenly, he smelled acid and the
nauseous feeling came back.
giggled. He had never heard a more hollow sound in his life.
the only thing he could think of. He bolted.
slipped on the cold tiles, caught himself just in time and
skidded around the corner with less grace than normal. Heart
pounding in his chest, Gordon raced all the way back to the
stairway which, unlike the rest of the building, was still
illuminated. The sharp, white light helped to bring him back
to his senses; touching the wall with one hand, he stopped and
doubled forward to catch his breath.
hell had that been? It had winked at him! And then the noise,
oh so dreadful sounding...
were humming again, sizzling, as if they were laughing at his
expense. One of them flickered, then another one, reminding
him that he was a victim to their will. The thought of being
alone in the darkness gripped at his heart with icy fingers.
someone whispered close to his hear. He stumbled sideways,
looking at empty air and thrashing around. "Leave me in
flicker. For a moment, he was plummeted into darkness. He
thought of the bloody prints, of the corpse, of the moving
thing, and his breathing quickened. Gordon wasn't one to be
frightened; watching horror movies with his brothers was more
of a laughing matter (who could point out the most mistakes?)
and common terrors such as death and darkness didn't faze him
much he saw far too much of it in the course of his work.
Actually, he had always taken pride in his ability not to be
scared easily; something of dire need to him, with all the
pranks he played on everyone.
though, he found himself drenched in cold sweat, pressing
against the wall as if the devil himself was haunting him. The
humming became louder and louder, until he pressed his fists
against his ears in an attempt to escape the noise. But it
seemed to penetrate every fibre of his body.
He had to
get out of here. That was the only thought that vibrated
through his head. He had to escape, and fast, before he lost
his sanity (or the last shred that had remained of it).
stumbled down the staircase, careful to make a wide berth
around the next handprint that presented itself on the
railing. To his horror, the stairway stopped in front of a
heavy, metal door that seemed to be locked. Rattling on it
didn't help. Rather, he just jerked his hands back because the
handles were too hot to touch.
only his imagination or could he smell smoke?
had been a fire after all! Glad that at least this
memory wasn't failing him, Gordon leaned his back against the
wall. He must be in the cellar, he supposed; that's why there
were no windows. Which meant that the level above was the
ground floor, and that meant he shuddered - that he had to
cross it in order to get out. Walking right past the damn room
with the smirking face.
Gordon had never been as sensible as Scott or as rational as
John, he was alert enough to realize that one didn't normally
see faces preserved in a glass jar. And even if there might be
some, one didn't expect them to be alive and smile at him.
what the rational part of his brain screamed, but much to his
regret, that part was drowned out by the feeling of cold dread
that grew stronger and stronger, threatening to overtake his
whole body. Once more he tried the door and winced when it
burned his palms. Over him, the lights flickered as if to
a pussy," Gordon reprimanded himself, appalled by his coward
behaviour. Setting his jaw, he faced he stairs.
as if he had never been scared before in his life. No, fear
was a very real factor of his work, and even before
International Rescue he had been more than familiar with it.
He'd be a fool not to admit it. There had been instances when
he had been afraid as a child; had been so scared that he
couldn't move at all.
when he had had his hydrofoil crash...during the few fractions
of a second the craft had been flying through the air, he had
been more scared than ever before. It was a feeling that would
never leave him; the frozen numbness in his limbs, the sound
of his own heartbeat loud in his ear - even louder than the
crashes, than the alarms shrilling and the voices screaming at
him and then there had been searing hot pain, like a glowing
poker in his side and he...
was the fear for someone else; fearing for Alan when he was
dangling on a thin line, trying to rescue climbers while
risking his own life; fearing for Scott when went ahead to
take the brunt of the danger himself; fearing for Virgil, when
he was stuck in the Mole under massive debris, unable to move.
afraid belonged to the job, because if you weren't afraid, you
made mistakes, and you could not afford to do that when lives
depended on you.
Gordon knew all about fear.
it was giving in to the fear that Gordon wouldn't
allow. He had seen what happened when people were consumed by
fear. And he really didn't want to experience it himself, no
why, even though his heart was beating and his limbs felt like
lead, he forced himself up the steps. He refused to be scared
by something like this. Or, at least, he could try his best
not to show that he was scared.
hallway looked the same as before. Dark, gloomy, full of
used the torch to point into every corner. He felt a bit
sheepish for doing so, but it wasn't as if his brothers would
know and besides, wasn't he supposed to be looking for
brow furrowed. Damn, he had somehow forgotten about that.
Unforgivable! Survivors were the first priority! Disconcerted,
he pressed a hand against his throbbing head, wondering why it
was so difficult to think. Somehow, he felt all fuzzy.
humming noise was back, cutting like ice needles into his
brain. "SHUT UP!" Gordon bellowed, but it wouldn't listen. It
throbbed, like a heart that was beating, and then the lights
flickered again, mocking him, laughing at him, making fun of
the pathetic coward he had been reduced to.
his teeth, stumbled onwards with a stubborn look on his face.
"I'm not afraid, I'm not afraid, I'm not afraid," Gordon
repeated like a mantra, just as he had done when he had been
younger and scared of the wardrobe at night. But just like
then, it didn't help much. Instead, it only seemed to make him
more aware of the fact that yes, the shadows were getting
darker, and yes, there was something moving just at the edge
of his vision, right behind him and yet he couldn't place a
finger on it.
alone!" He whirled around, but faced empty air. Trying to calm
his racing heart, he ran a hand through his copper hair,
tangling it up in the process. With swift steps, he hurried
down the corridor, hoping to escape the unsettling feeling. A
chill ran over him as he saw the door that led to the room
where he had made his dreadful encounter. Then he shook his
head, once again appalled by his own behaviour, and passed it
in quick, hurried steps.
Tracy, you are becoming a wimp.", the redhead scolded himself,
finding relief in the sound of his voice. "Here you are,
behaving like a baby just because the lights are flickering
and you saw some strange things."
whisper hissed through the air, made him freeze up like a
mouse transfixed by a snake. Something reflected the torch
light to his right. An invisible hand closed around his throat
as he realised that he was standing next to another window. At
first he thought it was his own reflection that he saw; but
then realization trickled in: he didn't have black hair, nor
broad shoulders like that.
It was a
face that had been burned deeply into his memory. They hadn't
been close friends - more rivals, really. But it was a
companionable sort of rivalry, the thrill of finding out who
was better, stronger, faster. They both knew that the other
could be trusted to be fair and honest.
also a face that he hadn't seen in a long time, only when it
was haunting his dreams, as it did after strenuous rescues.
swallowed. "No...it can't be...this must be a dream..."
was the reflection of a man who had died a long time ago.
Gordon." Thins lips stretched into a crude smile. "How nice to
widened. "My, how perceptive we are today, Mr.International-Rescue.
I am flattered."
Was it his
imagination or was water dripping down Tom's face? Lots and
lots of water. Running down in rivulets, forming a puddle on
the floor. And then he felt it on him, too, soaking through
his clothes, running down his cheeks just like tears. Like icy
tendrils sneaking around his body.
unknown for Gordon to feel chilled by water. He thrived on it;
he loved diving into it, no matter what the temperature.
Swimming was his life.
And yet he
found himself shivering at every drop that found his body.
are you doing here?"
became darker. "Why, I'm haunting you, of course!"
he wasn't on the other side of the window any more, but right
in front of him, much to close for his comfort. "Don't you
remember me, Gordon? Don't you remember the day I...died?"
swallowed. What a question to ask! Of course he remembered
there wasn't a day when he didn't! It had taken him quite a
while to accept Tom's death. But then again, the real Tom had
never looked that...mean. No, he had always been sparkling;
his humour not as outgoing as Gordon's, but still there, a
cheerful way of taking life as it was.
Only to be
crushed on that fateful day.
hand reached out to him. "And now I will make you feel the
same horror I endured." Tom whispered, his voice like the
rasping of icebergs. Gordon watched in horror as the familiar
features melted into something else. Skin became paler and
paler, seemed to rot away right on the bone. Where there had
been eyes, there were holes blinking back at him all of
sudden. A rancid smell filled the air.
you made of me, Gordon," a distorted voice garbled.
opened his mouth, but for the first time in a long while he
found himself at a loss of words. Tom's body no, corpse
seemed to be rotting right in front of him. What had once been
an acquaintance, a friend, a rival, a...human, suddenly
shifted and morphed and twisted until it became something
else, so dreadful and horrible that it made his stomach
turn around. Claw-like hands stretched out to him, aiming at
his neck. Millimetres before they brushed his skin, Gordon
jerked back and whirled around. A wretched sound escaped his
lips it could have been a sob, it could have been a curse.
Foul stench surrounded him, the smell of decay and death and
filled his throat. Behind him, Tom cackled as though he was
enjoying the sight. Eyes open wide with terror, Gordon opened
the next available door. Another whiff of...death encircled
him, and this time his stomach really did turn around.
Spotting the sink in the corner, he dashed over, emptying the
contents of his stomach into it just in time.
retched, feeling more miserable than ever, the water mixed
with the tears forming a puddle on the floor. Where was it
to be a bizarre dream. The dead didn't come alive. Not even
Tom. And he couldn't have meant...no.
Gordon breathed and wiped his mouth. It was the only word that
summed up his situation. His knees wouldn't hold him any
longer and he sank to the ground, exhausted. From far, far
away Scott seemed to be calling him, but he was far too
exhausted to reply. Instead, he fell backwards and focused his
gaze on the ceiling.
raining down on him in rivulets. The sprinkler, he noticed
dimly through the fog in his mind, it was just the sprinkler.
relief didn't come.
had been pounding on him for quite a while now. He probably
should get up, Gordon mused, but couldn't summon the energy to
do so. So he watched the water droplets, raining down on him
in a never-ending pattern, glinting in the light of his torch
which was lying somewhere on the ground. He was at the end of
his wits. Didn't understand anything. Didn't know, didn't
He was too
tired to ignore them. Instead, he fixed his gaze on the next
available light. The humming sound was always there, clawing
at his sanity and slowly succeeding. "Leave me in peace!"
Gordon ordered, unaware of the waver in his voice. Closing his
eyes didn't help; holding his ears shut didn't, either. It was
as if the noise was deep within himself, shut in the darkest
parts of his body and only now starting to escape.
effort, he eased himself up on his arms - to come face to face
with another bloody handprint.
whole body seemed to react to the sight. His eyes were
transfixed on the bloody mess, taking in how it slowly got
swept away by the running water.
"I need to
get out." Gordon told himself, overcome by the need to see
sunlight, and scrambled around for the torch. "I'm mad. I'm
drunk. I'm concussed. Whatever it is, there is NO WAY IN HELL
I'M STAYING HERE!"
to his feet, he crashed right into the wall, the room tilting
precariously around him. Cradling his aching shoulder, he
searched for a kind of exit, any kind. But what he saw were
shelves and no windows at all and huge machines that looked
scary in the dark and white containers with skulls on them and
a lot of things that didn't make sense at all, like the dark
stain on the ground, for example, and no exit.
There has to be an exit." Panicked, he scanned the room for
the green sign that had to be there, somewhere, because this
was a modern lab and all modern lab had emergency exits, damn,
there were rules for this, so why couldn't he find one?
had something to with the fact that his vision was swimming in
and out of focus, or the water that kept running into his eyes
and blinding him, stinging a bit, or with the panic that had
somehow managed to drive its clutches into his mind, making
his thoughts slow and sluggish.
difficult to walk on the slippery ground, and more than once
he almost tripped, managing to grab some table just in time.
Once, he imagined hearing a voice, calling out for him, so he
hurried away from it, intent on not meeting Tom again at all
costs, even if he had been a hallucination, though a pretty
Gordon swallowed through his dry throat. The noise had been
right beside him, very close to his feet, and he didn't dare
to look down, oh God, what if it was something bad, what if
the face, or Tom, or, and, and...and he was a Tracy, dammit,
he wouldn't be reduced to some whimpering fool, because that
wasn't what his father had raised him for, he was stronger
that that, yes, he was!
more effort than it should, but finally he managed to steer
his eyes downwards.
tense, he didn't move at first. Better yet, he couldn't. It
was everywhere, it surrounded him and he had no idea where it
had come from or how something like that was possible, unless
this was some kind of perverted joke.
around his feet had changed its colour. Instead of being clear
and shiny as water was supposed to be, it had become a darker,
much more sinister shade. Gordon's fingers trembled as he
pointed the beam of his torch downwards. What had looked
almost black before was now coloured in a deep crimson,
swapping around his feet in an almost lazy fashion, colouring
the rim of his uniform in a reddish, murky colour. Red, and
thick, and smelling of metal, just like...just like...
second time that day, Gordon bolted.
slipped over the tiles, creating a path of dark footsteps
behind him. He jumped over a table, not caring that he smashed
several test tubes in the process. There was a door not far
away and he steered towards it as if it promised heaven on
earth, though he honestly had no clue where it was leading.
And one of
them exploded right above his head. Gordon yelped, covered his
face with his hands and winced as shards pieced through his
skin, drawing blood.
was at the door and threw his full weight against it. It
didn't move, so he tried the doorknob instead, but it didn't
budge either and he sensed that there was something behind
him, because the humming became louder and louder and his
hairs stood on end, a tingling feeling in the back of his
spine he tried the knob again and realized that he had been
moving it in the wrong direction. The door gave way, all
resistance gone, and he stumbled into the room, falling on his
escaped his lips that would have sent his grandmother after
him with a bar of soap to wash out his mouth.
his frustration, the room was a dead end, a tile-covered thing
that had no other exit, just cupboards and a sink and a
operating...table...in the middle of the room...
heart sank as he realized that this was the same room he had
been in earlier. The one with the corpse. But hadn't he locked
it? And, much more important, where was the corpse?
the table in front of him proved shockingly empty. Even the
white cloth was missing.
mouth went dry. It seemed as if he had found out what had been
leaving the handprints.
all his willpower not to scream. Instead, he stepped back,
closed the door like a good young boy and leaned his back
against it to think. Or at least he was trying to
easy with his brain screaming at him, to run, run, run!,
because there was a zombie on the loose and if zombies were
real then all the other nightmarish things probably were as
well, which he really didn't want to find out for himself.
Grip." He ordered himself, gritting his teeth.
believe in zombies.
believe in the occult, either.
if the occult didn't care?
himself to walk in a slow and deliberate fashion, Gordon made
his way through the labyrinth. His head held high, he tried to
ignore the humming and the flickering lights, hoping that if
he was concentrating enough, he'd be too occupied to notice
all the strange things that were going on around him.
worked, because he didn't notice anything else until he stood
outside on the hallway, under one particularly annoying
fluorescent light. Taking a deep breath, he forced himself to
stay calm. Panicking never helped. Panicking made things
worse. He, Gordon Tracy, wouldn't panic. He would deal with
this in a logical and sensible fashion.
logical and sensible didn't help him much when, once again,
something moved just at the edge of his vision. Whirling
around, he was able to make out a figure that was coming from
the staircase towards him.
It was as
if someone had poured ice water on him. Even the air in his
lungs became cold, his fingers too numb to move, his eyes wide
mirrors of the fear that was clawing at his heart.
that was walking towards him was definitely human. In the dim
light of the corridor, he was unable to see more than shapes,
but even in the gloomy surroundings he saw the blonde hair,
glinting in the darkness.
ghost, the whisper of a memory flew past him, telling that a
certain corpse had blonde hair as well, and that maybe all
those occult stories weren't as occult as they were made to
be, because really, a story had to come from somewhere, didn't
the spot, Gordon couldn't help staring at the man corpse?
Zombie? Ghost? that was walking (or was that more of a
lurching?) towards him in a threatening manner.
The voice boomed across the corridor, mixed with the humming
of the lights and seemed to pierce right through his soul. The
pace of the...thing quickened, and only then did Gordon
remember that he had feet and that just maybe he should use
them. Stumbling backwards, he cursed as he slipped on the
ground, loosing precious moments fumbling for balance.
The shout, louder now, was what propelled him into action.
Without sparing one glance at his follower, he started running
down the corridor, away from the stairway, away from the
bloody thing that was sure to kill him if it ever reached him.
The humming followed him, pounded in his ears in rhythm with
his beating heart.
a curse (did ghosts curse?), and steps followed him, far too
close to his back for his liking.
just like in a dream. Or a nightmare, to be more precise. Even
though he was running, he felt as if he was moving through
syrup, his legs not reacting in their usual, reliable manner.
More than once, he stumbled, crashed into walls that seemed to
move away from him. The shouting became an incoherent blur in
his ears, but it was coming closer and closer and that alone
gave him enough strength to continue, even though there was
greyness tugging at the edge of his vision.
Gordon yelled at the lights, but once again, they refused to
obey. He crashed through a door (where had that come from?)
and found himself on another stairway, this one smaller and
darker as the first. The shadows seemed to whisper to him, but
he had no other choice, because there was...something hunting
him and he really preferred to stay alive, thank you very
the first direction that presented itself to him, which
unfortunately was upstairs, but he realized the foolishness of
that choice too late.
thundered through the door, shouting something
incomprehensible and started following him in a determined
fashion. Gordon didn't even look around, took three steps at
the time, his breath going far too fast for his liking. Hell,
he was in a bad shape. The stairway kept twisting around him
and for a short moment he had the feeling that vertigo had
somehow changed and the walls had became the floor; at least
it felt that way.
moment, he was plunged into darkness and fear closed around
his throat, then the light flared again, blinding him. Noises
thundered in his head, so many by now that he couldn't
distinguish between them.
feet moving on their own accord, tumbling up the slippery
steps at a dangerous speed. Was that smoke he smelled, or
acid? It burned in his nostrils, jerking him back to reality,
only to realize that he had gone too fast, too haphazardly and
that his feet were slipping.
there wasn't anything under his left foot and he pitched
forward, colliding hard with the metal railing. The impact
drove the air from his lungs.
crumbled on the ground, all-too-aware of the danger behind
him, but he couldn't move, it hurt, it burned, and why was
everything shaking, why was the noise becoming so loud, he
the thing was there, throwing itself on him with
inhuman speed, pressing him against the wall. Fingers dug into
his arm, keeping him firmly in place. Gordon saw blonde hair
and bloody hands and screamed, a high-pitched sound filled
with terror and dread. Gathering all his force, he threw
himself forward, to escape that grip. His attacker was
startled and he managed to wrench himself free, only to be
brought to his knees once again by a sudden attack of nausea.
words were directed at him, but they didn't make any sense at
all, so Gordon flapped his hands as if this might help to get
rid of the uncomfortable noise. Then his attacker was there
again, closer than before, gripping his shirt with unrelenting
hands. He felt hot breath on his neck, the pungent smell of
smoke in the air, mixed with blood and sweat, and something
else he couldn't quite identify.
difficult to focus through the haze in his mind. But one thing
he knew: he had to get away.
hands left him Gordon couldn't believe his luck the thing
turned away, its attention focused elsewhere. The aquanaut
took his chance, twisted his body away from the other's grip.
were leading upwards and so he scrambled on, unnoticed at
first, but after two steps, he heard his name being called and
he broke into a full-fledged run.
became even more difficult, what with the stairs tilting and
the lights shining so bright that he couldn't see at all, but
somehow, he managed to do it.
a door at the top of the staircase (another one? How many were
Again. Was it only his imagination or were there two of
them now? Dammit, that thing was multiplying! Too scared to
look back, Gordon pounded shoulder-first into the door and was
relieved when it opened with only a little resistance. Cold
air greeted him, smelling faintly of smoke.
reached some kind of roof.
yells fluttered to his ears, far away from his current
position. His earlier assumption that it was night had been
correct. It was entirely too dark for him too see anything,
but after the bright lights of the stairway, this only came as
was no time to linger. The pursuers were close on his heels.
felt...strange. He was quite certain that he had been on roofs
before, but so far, none of them had looked like this. The
outlines were the same; a flat, concrete surface with a wall
surrounding it. It was rather long, the straight lines
interrupted by the occasional skylight. Hell, it even felt the
same, with the cold breeze touching his skin, making him
smoke, a lot of it. Even in the darkness it was possible to
see the churning dark clouds, moulding into each other and
forming strange shapes in the cold night air. It twisted and
turned and seemed to grow bigger on the roof, creeping towards
him in a lazy, but determined manner.
stumbled forward, torn between two ways. Behind him were his
attackers; in front of him, a dark cloud that looked as if it
would swallow him up at any given moment. He cursed his bad
luck for bringing him into this situation and careered
sideways, where he saw a small hole in the billowing smoke.
The shout echoed over the roof, vibrated in his ears. A wince
creased his features, then another one as he noticed that his
wrist watch was beeping. Were those bastards calling him over
IR lines? With a snarl, he ripped the device away from his
hand. It fell to the ground with a resounding thud. There were
collective gasps behind him. Serves you right, thought Gordon
in satisfaction and coughed. The smoke was penetrating.
that he had stopped running, he urged himself forward again,
only to crash into a small wall. The smoke seethed and
gathered around him, forming a dense cloud above his head.
Gordon threw a fearful glance at the blackness. He had no idea
what would happen if it swallowed him, and he really didn't
want to find out.
It was a
nasty sound. The same sound that had echoed in his ears when
the face had looked at him; the same sound he heard every time
the lights flickered; and the same sound that chilled him to
the bone, freezing him on the spot.
felt a tight band constricting his chest, making it hard to
draw breath. This wasn't funny anymore. It was a nightmare!
he screamed, his voice hoarse. Laughter was his reply, along
with distorted shouts. Two shadows were running towards him,
faces almost black, eyes glinting madly.
move!" he could discern over the garbled noise everything
seemed to make. Gordon could only laugh. As if he would stay
still when faced with such opponents!
backwards, he felt cold stone push against the back of his
legs. Damn, the wall was constraining his movements. Where
could he go? On his right and in the front, the black cloud,
on his left, two zombies, intent on ripping his throat out or
whatever it was that zombies did. He was stuck, and he didn't
like it at all.
AWAY!" Gordon screamed, his voice breaking. Much to his
surprise, the two shadows obeyed, stopping a couple of metres
away from him. One of them opened his mouth to say something,
but Gordon tore his gaze away. He didn't want to see them, had
had enough of the terrors. He wanted to go home!
cloud had inched closer. Facing it instead of his pursuers,
Gordon realized how huge it was; and how dense. This wasn't
normal smoke. But nothing was normal anymore, so he shouldn't
really be surprised.
of blackness reached out to swirl around his feet. Gordon
yelped and jumped away, but he couldn't, because there was
that damn wall!
in horror as smoke touched his feet like fingers, slowly
sneaking upwards. A foul stench filled his nose and he gagged.
Panic clawed at him. This...thing was going to smother him! He
didn't want to die, not here, not like that, not without
trembling hands, he heaved himself onto the wall, which barely
reached to his hip level. Two shocked gasps came from his
left. "No!" one of them screamed, throwing himself forward,
only to be held back by the other.
away!" Gordon didn't know who he meant, the cloud or the two
shadows, but it seemed to help. At least the two stayed at a
safe distance. Not the cloud, though. It was balling up above
him and...were those eyes blinking at him? The hairs rose on
his neck. Yes, those were eyes, myriads of them, glaring at
him with red orbs, dangerous and hungry. He whimpered, wanted
to retreat, but his hand met only nothingness.
AWAY!" The scream was torn from his throat in desperation, but
it had no effect. The blackness tumbled onto him and then he
couldn't breathe anymore, couldn't feel, only the burning of
acid in his eyes, his mouth, his lungs. His hand clawed at
it, his brain supplied in panic, this was how Gordon Tracy met
his end. Stuck on a roof in a fricking horror show, devoured
by either a zombie or a stupid cloud with sentience and too
many eyes. No heroic death at all.
hell!" The curse that left his lips was shouted with more
conviction than he felt. "I'm not giving up like this!"
would get him! Nobody!
the weakness in his limbs, he stood up, balancing precariously
on the thin wall. Everything tilted and shifted and for a
moment he saw double, but with the stubborn determination that
was his and his alone, he held himself upright, ignoring the
many shouts that were directed at him. He couldn't understand
them anyway, as if he had cotton in his ears. The fuzzy
feeling was back, making it difficult to get his bearings.
shadows were there again, screaming at him and holding out
their hands, but he slapped them away, growling like a
dangerous animal. One tugged at his leg, but he kicked at it,
almost losing his balance in the process. It seemed to
surprise them, for they stayed back. Maybe they were afraid of
him? Yeah, right. While Gordon was sure he gave a frightening
first impression uniform soaked, ripped apart, eyes wide
with terror, sweat soaking his dirty face it was nothing
compared to a walking corpse and...whatever his companion was.
was laughing again, but this time it was himself, a
harsh sound that startled Gordon, because he hadn't even known
that he could laugh like that.
what going mad feels like.
appeared in front of his vision, as the smoke cut off his
thought it would be more spectacular. Or that I wouldn't even
notice. Shouldn't I think these things are normal? Crazy
people always think that they are normal, just the rest of the
world isn't. I've never been normal, but I don't want to be
screams were much closer now, shouting his name in a panicked
frenzy. Gordon furrowed his brow. Was that fear in
want to be mad. Being mad means that I can't pilot Thunderbird
blackness was there again and gods, he couldn't see, couldn't
hear, couldn't escape, the only free path was behind him, so
he looked down and his eyes widened as he realized where
exactly he was standing...
want to die either.
was on the edge of the roof. And behind him, it was going
straight down. Several floors. Make that a lot of floors.
there, everything seemed to crawl.
wanted to die. Dying is the easy way out. I don't like the
should he do? Gordon was at a loss. He, who always had a Plan
B, or even a Plan Y for God's sake, stood frozen while the
smoke sneaked its tendrils around him like an octopus. His
feet were dangerously close to the edge, and now he knew why
his hand had only found emptiness before, because there was
nothing under him, just a long, long fall and certain death.
the garbled words reached him even through the thick wall of
want to be here.
trembled. Even with the adrenaline pumping through his veins,
he felt weak, lost, disorientated.
this is, I want to wake up.
were there again, reaching for him, trying to convince him to
come down, to get away, to please not jump because he would
die and he didn't want to die, did he, and if he would just
listen...Gordon blinked through the tears that were blurring
his vision, but remained where he was, because he really
didn't trust his legs anymore, and why was it so dark, why was
the floor moving like that?
headache pounded and he felt queasy again.
another hand reached out to him, this one white and shining, a
light in the darkness. Almost out of instinct, he took it and
followed numbly as it led him down the wall, away from the
crawling, from the smoke and the blackness, and right into the
arms of the two zombies.
they look like that? Why should a zombie look worried? And was
knees gave way and he crashed to the ground. Strong arms
caught him just in time, but by then, his mind was already
was the last thought he had before the darkness devoured him,
this zombie looks just like Virgil.
of you guessed right :)
like dreaming, and yet it wasn't.
weren't supposed to be full of pain. They weren't supposed to
feel as if someone was pouring hot acid down your throat, or
holding your head under water, or making your bones hurt
(damn, and how they hurt!).
been nightmares as well, but they had been different from the
ones Gordon was used to. Instead of pictures, they came in
feelings, and that was much scarier than the usual stuff.
Damn, he could feel how the acid bubbled down his
throat, dissolving flesh and making him gag on his own blood.
Then there were brief moments where he was sure he was awake
only to see the world tilt around him, merge into swirling
colours, or disappear altogether.
woke up to find himself retching into some silver basin.
Someone was holding him, wiping his sweat-covered brow, the
only constant in a world that was moving like a ship in a
thunderstorm. Without the firm grip on his arms, the aquanaut
would have toppled over for sure. Never before had his limbs
been that uncooperative.
have liked to look at the helpful person, maybe even thank
him, but his eyes fell closed of their own accord. There could
have been a voice, urging him to stay awake, but the words got
lost in the haze of his mind. Gordon felt miserable, his
stomach cramping even though there was nothing left in it.
Eventually, the nausea passed, but the pain remained. His
muscles developed a will of their own and soon he found
himself shaking and trembling, his hands clenching into fists,
nails digging into his skin.
shouted at him, but he was lost again, tumbling into the
abyss. Why did it have to hurt so much? He needed...he
needed...he wasn't quite sure what he needed, just that it
wasn't there, and it hurt...
while, the pain began to recede, bit by bit. His awareness
returning, Gordon was able to make out words, though he felt
too worn out to reply. Someone gave him water and he drank it
eagerly, only to throw it up again. Tears prickled in his
eyes. This was hell!
were times when he was shouting he knew, because he had
begun to listen to himself but he didn't know what about.
Sometimes, people would laugh, as if he was telling them
something funny. Gordon would have frowned at that if he had
the energy left to do so. Honestly, why were they laughing at
to listen closer, but his ramblings didn't make much sense at
all, almost as though his mouth wasn't connected to his brain.
It seemed to be working on its own accord, something which
Gordon found quite annoying. All his life, he had depended on
his mouth, and now it was betraying him? Surely that wasn't
himself into a snit about that matter seemed to help; his
thoughts focused and the blurriness left him.
snapping open, he stared at the all-too familiar ceiling of
the infirmary. A groan left his mouth. No. Infirmary meant
that he was sick, and he didn't want to be sick, because that
meant no swimming and no swimming was bad. Then again, he
should have expected this; nobody could experience dreams like
these and not be sick.
look who's gracing us with his presence." A familiar face
loomed over him. Virgil, from the looks of it. "Do you
recognize me this time?"
blinked. This time? And why shouldn't he recognize his own
think I'm stupid?" he replied, lolling the words on his heavy
face brightened. "Just a little bit. But you didn't before,
redhead scrunched up his face. "Huh?"
mind." Virgil leant back and Brains popped up as well,
adjusting his glasses and looking relieved. "H-Hello G-Gordon.
H-How are y-y-you f-feeling?"
the exception of an enormous headache, a sore throat and an
aching body. God, he felt like an old man. What the hell had
happened? He remembered a nightmare...being hunted? Dark
clouds? Suffocating? Had that really happened or had it been a
awake?" Another head appeared, this one with neat blonde hair.
At the sight of Gordon's open eyes, the face bloomed into a
happy smile. "Hi Gordon! It's good to see you."
To be quite honest, Gordon was getting a bit freaked out. What
was all the fuss about? He lifted himself up and was relieved
to see that he had no serious injuries apart from the
headache, a couple of bruises and a bandage on his hand. "Are
we having a party?"
just celebrating the return of our one-and-only trouble-making
brother." Virgil grinned.
Why was everybody so intent on confusing him?
his annoyance, they reacted as if they hadn't even heard him.
Brains was the only one that looked at him, a calculating
expression on his face. In the background, he could see a
digital clock past three o'clock on the morning. But which
scientist turned. "S-Shall I go and w-wake S-Scott?"
him sleep," John shook his head. "He's been here the whole
night and yesterday afternoon. He deserves the rest, and I bet
he's going to be back in a couple of hours, anyway."
only left after you slept peacefully." Virgil told Gordon.
"Before that, you behaved like a raving lunatic."
quite a sight, wasn't it?" John sat down on a chair, putting
his arms on the headrest.
filmed every single second of it," Virgil agreed with a
satisfied look on his face.
became suspicious. "You filmed what?"
venture into the madhouse, dear little brother."
apparent confusion, the two exchanged meaningful glances while
Brains checked the readings in the background. The scientist
muttered to himself, and then, before Virgil or John had the
chance to say anything, turned to Gordon. "The d-drug should
have left your s-system by now. Everything y-you're feeling is
an a-after-effect of the hallucinogenics a-and should s-soon
pass; although y-you'll have t-to expect s-some w-withdrawal
s-symptoms, b-but not a lot, s-since it w-was y-your first
First time for what? And drugs? He didn't do drugs! His
pride as a sportsman wouldn't permit him to, and besides,
drugs were for losers!
continued, oblivious to the stir he was causing. "I'm g-glad
to see y-you're f-feeling b-better. That w-was quite a n-nasty
c-cocktail in y-your s-system, t-though it had interesting
r-results. I s-shall g-go and s-see y-your f-father now; he
w-wanted t-to know as s-soon as y-you w-woke up." With those
words, the small man shuffled out of the room, frowning at the
medical papers he was carrying.
watched Brain's retreating back with something akin to horror
and then turned towards the other two remaining people.
"I like it
when he's angry," Virgil grinned, his eyes sparkling, "Then
his face colour matches his eyes." The smile disappeared from
his face and he suddenly became serious. "Tell me, what do you
not the question he had expected. Raking a hand through his
unruly hair, Gordon tried the best to bring some semblance of
order in his mind. It was quite difficult, because he wasn't
an orderly person to begin with, but after a few seconds, he
managed to recall certain events. Though they didn't make
sense at all.
things I remember could have been taken out of a horror
movie," the aquanaut finally admitted sheepishly.
you see?" Curiosity filled John's open face.
Gordon shook his head. "First you tell me what the hell
Virgil paused, searching for the right words. "...were stoned
out of your mind."
snickered. "That's one way to put it."
"I...I...was WHAT?" Gordon clutched the bedsheets. "I don't DO
drugs, Virg! How can you say something like that?"
down." Thunderbird Two's pilot held his hands up in a
pacifying gesture. "You remember the rescue, don't you? The
there was some vague recollection in the back of his mind. "In
the university laboratories?"
one. Well, we don't have all the facts either, because you
were the only one there, and by the time we reached you, you
were pretty, uh, out of it. Anyway, from all we gather, you
evacuated your part of the building beautiful job, only
minor injures, no casualties at all and made one last round
to check whether you had missed anyone. None of us knows what
happened then. Scott lost contact with you for quite a while,
because he was busy with the local authorities and the very
real danger of chemicals leaking into the river. When he
finally managed to get you on the comm, you sounded strange."
strange," John nodded and continued. "I was just packing up
and overheard most of it. You sounded distracted, and all of
sudden, you would start yelling as if the devil himself was
after you. Then nothing."
worried, of course, so he sent John after you."
scratched his head. "I was screaming?" Yes he remembered.
There had been a face in a glass jar, and it had been
winking at him. But surely that must have been a dream?
so." John's eyes had a faraway look. "In fact, the closer I
came, the more worried I became. You didn't sound coherent at
all, started talking to other people, even though we knew the
building had been empty the last time you checked in. It
worried me. I told Virgil to come up as soon as he was
finished; I didn't know what we were dealing with and I
thought maybe some terrorists had caught you; the police
warned us that 'suspicious subjects' might use the fire to
Terrorists? The redhead snorted. He would have loved
terrorists. They would have been a pleasure cruise compared to
the things that had been hunting him. Here in the bright light
of the infirmary, it seemed like a dream, but he only needed
to think of the creepiness of that place and his hands
continued, unaware of the reaction he was causing. "I came
after you. Your last position had been the Biomedical research
Department, so I went there. That place was a real maze, I can
tell you! You must have wandered all around there, no idea
I even found two autopsy rooms, one of them complete with
a corpse. And a lot of blood, probably from the guy the
paramedics treated he had smashed his hand through a window.
Anyway, I finally discovered you, standing on the corridor,
completely drenched. The sprinklers had gone off, which meant
that the fire had reached that part of the building and that
we had to hurry to get out. So I ran towards you, but
you...you yelled when you saw me, turned around and fled."
"I...fled?" Gordon couldn't believe it. "From you?"
John managed to look insulted. "I thought that maybe you had
mistaken me for someone else easy to do in those bad
lighting conditions - and started to follow, screaming your
name all the way surely you would recognize my voice! but
it only made you run faster."
didn't make sense. The only thing that had been following him
had been that, well, thing. Gordon couldn't remember
John at all! But then...horror crossed his features, as he
realized that the zombie-thing had had blonde hair, just like
John. And he had never taken a real good look at his pursuer,
so scared that he had escaped immediately. It couldn't be,
been running away from his own brother? Thinking that
he was a fricking corpse?
humiliation! Schooling his expression, Gordon did his best to
appear as if the story John was telling wasn't new to him at
all and that he had a sensible reason for his actions (even
though he had no clue what that might be).
time I caught you, I realized that something was wrong with
you," John continued, "And I urged Virgil to go faster,
because I needed help. I managed to tackle you on the stairs,
but you didn't recognize me at all and started to fight like
crazy. I thought you had been dropped on your head and were a
bit disorientated, but...you were out of your mind with fear!"
The look on the astronaut's face clearly told that this hadn't
been a pleasant experience.
Gordon blinked. "So what was wrong with me?"
look was exchanged between the two. "Well, as we found out
much later (though we started to suspect it during our
struggles to get you to come with us), you had somehow
managed to, well, drug yourself. There was a cut on your hand,
and according to Brains, the chemical entered into your
bloodstream, causing severe hallucinations and paranoia."
that had been the liquid he had been lying in when he woke
up...and that explained the nausea and the blurriness and the
"So I was
just hallucinating?" Gordon inquired, wanting to be sure.
"Because it felt damn real to me."
noticed." Virgil rubbed his jaw. "You sure pack a punch."
him. You managed to get all of us," John admitted ruefully.
"And I didn't know you could fight that dirty. You bit
me! The last time you did that, you were four years old!"
it wasn't nearly as good as when he started confessing."
Identical smirks appeared on both faces. Gordon inched
backwards, not liking the change of mood at all. One reason
why he didn't like drugs was because a person could never
control their actions and by the looks of it, his actions
must have been very amusing. "What did I do?" he asked in a
confessed," was the smug reply.
to what?" Gordon was on his guard now.
"Everything. At first, we were surprised you were so out of
it, we didn't think you'd wake up. But after the vomiting
stopped, you were kind of...talking in your sleep-"
is the better word," Virgil interjected.
in your sleep while you were lying in the sickbay on TB2,"
John continued without a beat, "And confessing all of your
misdeeds, telling us that you were sorry and asking if we
could please stop making the lights flicker because it made
your head hurt. I must say, I always thought it was Alan
who set fire to my wardrobe when I was ten, but now I find out
that it was you!"
grew wider. "That, and a lot more."
only one word to sum up his situation: "Shit."
How had he gotten from the stairway to Thunderbird Two? Hadn't
there been a roof involved? And lots of smoke? Were his
brothers avoiding that particular part? Gordon turned steely
eyes towards the chuckling duo. "What happened on the roof?"
silent at once. Amazing, he reflected, if it only worked that
way all the times. Virgil sighed, his face serious once again.
"You...almost killed yourself."
Yourself. The words entered his brain, echoed around a bit and
finally swam to the surface of his consciousness.
Gordon objected flatly, because even in the most horrid of
times, he had never thought of suicide, so why start now?
"Unfortunately, it's the truth." John turned serious eyes at
him, guilt written all over his features. "By the time we got
up there, we knew that something was wrong with you and we
even suspected drugs it was a chemical lab, after all but
we had no idea how bad it was. You didn't recognize us at all!
You...ran away from things that weren't there! And then you
jumped on the wall, almost giving me a heart attack. We were
on the seventh floor, Gordon! The seventh floor!
Falling down from there would have been certain death! And you
were standing on the wall without any safety line, like a
tightrope artist, the only difference being that you were
swaying around and shouting incoherent things at us!"
couldn't get close to you every time we tried, you started
to shout and escape, which brought you even closer to the
edge. So we stayed at a safe distance and tried to talk to
had taken its toll on his brothers; upon remembering it, they
both looked flustered and distraught. Gordon tried to place
himself in their position he would have felt the same.
Watching a member of his family risking his life and with no
way of helping? It would have been torture.
paled as he realized how close to death he had been. Seven
floors? Damn, the impact would have killed him almost at once.
And just because of some stupid accident, some goddamn drug
that he hadn't even wanted to take...He swallowed. "So if you
hadn't helped me down in time, I would have died."
you talking about?"
fluttered back to him. "Weren't you holding out your hand and
helping me down?" Gordon saw it clearly now; the slim, white
hand urging him to step down. Something had compelled him to
take it, and after that...there was only darkness.
sent him a strange look and shook his head. "You were all on
your own. We were at least three yards away from you when you
suddenly stepped down from the wall and collapsed."
of you gave me your hand?"
weren't even close to you. Every time we came near you, you'd
It took some while to process that thought. So neither of them
had helped him? But he was so sure that he had seen a white
hand or had that been another one of his hallucinations?
hard to think with a brain that seemed to be filled with mud.
But somehow, Gordon managed. "So, to sum it all up, I was
stoned out of my mind, almost killed myself and got rescued by
you two?" The expressions on his brother's faces told him
enough. "I guess I should thank you."
definitely should," Virgil crossed his arms, "It was no easy
task to drag you back to TB2. You were unconscious at first,
but then you started screaming and fighting like a madman.
Scott came to help, but you gave him a black eye you should
have seen the look on Father's face when we told him that."
smiled at the memory. "He wasn't very happy. Honestly, what
did you see to make you freak out like that?"
Gordon stalled for time. Normally, it would have been easy to
think of a good excuse, but in his current state, every ounce
of mischievousness seemed to have been drained by that damn
drug. "Scary Things. Lots of scary things."
raised an eyebrow. "Scary things?"
really want to talk about it." Gordon shuddered. Even though
he knew now that it had been a mere illusion, the fear had
been real. He was going to have nightmares for weeks. "Just
think of it as a really bad horror movie."
tapped his lip in a thoughtful gesture. "Anyway, I'm glad
you're back to normal. It was
disconcerting to see you like
that. That drug really did a number on you; you were either
puking or raving. Only when we settled you in the infirmary,
you calmed down somewhat but that was when you started
"Entertained us for hours." Virgil admitted with a smug grin.
"Even Dad had to smile at some of your statements."
especially liked the 'Help me! Giant striped rabbits are
trying to eat my toenails!'-bit."
favourite was the 'I'm sorry Scott, I never wanted to make
Ludmilla Thornton believe that you were gay, it just sort of
happened'-bit. That left him speechless."
groaned. "I didn't really say that, did I?"
If it had
been possible to grin wider than your face was broad, the two
Tracys would have probably done so at the moment. John smirked
and held up a small, black device. "We've got it all on tape."
leaned back and sighed happily. "After the first excitement
passed, Alan realized the blackmail qualities of your
statements and urged us to tape them."
mouth fell open. Horror fluttered through his stomach. Heaven
knew what he had told them in his intoxicated dreams this
wasn't fair! He hadn't wanted it!
realize that this calls for revenge." He glowered and tried to
snatch the tape. But John was far too quick for his dulled
reflexes, standing up before the aquanaut was even halfway
there. "Now, we'd better leave you to your rest, dear little
want you to be in full health to see through your, ah,
revenge," Virgil added with a superior look on his face.
wouldn't laugh so much if you knew what I mistook you
for," Gordon muttered under his breath and flapped down on the
aquanaut sighed. "Just go and bother someone else."
We shall watch this beautiful video. Over and over again.
Until we know it by heart." They laughed and were already out
of the room when Gordon chucked his pillow after them. It hit
the doorframe with a dull thud, slid to the ground and lay
there in an innocence that only a pillow could portray. The
door itself, another creation by Brains, closed slowly,
without any noise. Just before it clicked shut, Gordon saw
something behind it that made his heart skip. He hid a bit
deeper under the covers, though he wasn't afraid just
just his imagination or had there been a white hand waving at
I once dreamed that I was
stuck in a maze full of pink rooms, and I was being followed
by this huge, grey, rolling stone that was surely going to
flatten me. It was the most horrible nightmare in my life. So
I can understand Gordon's fear about the striped rabbits.
Really, I do.