This story was written in
response to the 2008 Tracy Island Writers Forum's 'Halloween
Three brothers in a graveyard.
A legendary dark iron statue. A mystery no-one can explain.
Not the nicest way to spend Halloween, no matter how old you
- October 31
had seemed like a good idea, yesterday. Yesterday, he would
have done anything for the chance to be out here. But
yesterday was yesterday and today he had to be a man and go
through it. All of a sudden his good idea wasn't looking like
a very good idea at all.
looked around at his surroundings uneasily and listened to the
broken old gate creaking precariously on its hinges. The moon
was full. A dog howled in the background. He tried to ignore
the strands of rusty barbed wire holding the fence posts
together as they moved backwards and forwards on their own.
This place was enough to give any kid the creeps. All he
wanted to do, right now, was feel safe helping Grandma with
Grandma wasn’t home at the moment and he knew he couldn't
chicken out. Not now, when they'd finally agreed he was old
enough to come out here with them. They were standing there
together looking around with their hands shoved deep in their
pockets. They didn’t look like they were the least bit spooked
by what they were about to do. Scott even looked like he could
hardly wait to do it. So how come his heart was
pounding so hard and fast that it felt like it was in his
taken a lot of convincing before they’d allowed him to tag
along. When he'd first knocked on their bedroom door, they'd
told him to go away and to come back later. Something about
ten year olds not needing to hear more than they needed to
hear, Scott had told him. He’d quickly made a point of
reminding Scott that in fifty one point five six weeks he'd be
eleven and on his way to twelve.
refused to leave their bedroom and that didn't please them at
all. He hated being the kid in the middle all the time. Too
old for Al and G; too young for them...where was a guy
supposed to go if he thought he had a problem?
right, so what’s your problem, then?” Scott had demanded from
his dominant position on the bed. “And it had better be good,”
he added in warning, “Virg and I have things to do.”
squared his jaw defiantly and stood up as straight as he
could. “I've decided to tell Grandma that I’m not going trick
or treating this year," he’d announced. “I’m far too old and
she can’t make me.” The determination on his face and folded
arms soon got their undivided attention.
told him to keep his voice down and frantically motioned him
to shut the door. The lecture from Scott began immediately
after. What was he actually trying to do? Was he a little
crazy or something? He should know by now that Grandma didn’t
have the tolerance for any disobedience or signs of rebellion.
With Father away, she’d been left in charge and that meant
deciding who did and didn’t do what around here.
Grandma’s the boss but I don’t want to go. Scott, I’m ten.
Dressing up and knocking on doors is lame.”
lame, Johnny,” Virgil said, trying his best to sound honest.
of us were expected to do it when we were ten,” Scott reminded
him, clearly not sympathetic.
lecture re-commenced again and this time Scott really let him
have it. What was the point in trying to fight the inevitable?
Making waves around Grandma would not only cause trouble, it
would also guarantee him a one hour tele-call from Father in
Japan. Surely he remembered what happened the last time
Grandma told Father it was time for an attitude adjustment in
“Yes, I do
remember, but I’m still not going. Grandma can go right ahead
and call Dad if she wants to.”
looked anxious. "You don't mean that, Johnny.”
"Oh yes, I
intervened. "Oh no, you don’t. The last time Grandma
had to call Dad about you, I was the one who got
into all the trouble.”
final words bought the argument to a close. He was going with
Grandma and that was that. The two little guys had been
looking forward to Halloween all week and whether he liked it
or not, he wasn’t going to spoil their fun.
How can you call that fun? Have you seen what Grandma
expects me to wear in public?"
merely shrugged him off. Of course he’d seen the get-up and it
wasn’t so bad; at least not as bad as he was making it out to
be. No-one was going to recognise him once he got the cape and
mask in place. If he looked on the bright side, it was almost
an honour. Batman had been a real hero back in Grandma’s day.
kidding me? How many heroes do you know go running
around dressed in a cape and tights?"
burst out laughing then and said he was glad he wasn’t the one
who had to wear it. A guy could live with the cape and tights
but the chastity belt Grandma had been working on since
breakfast was really something else.
belt?” Scott spluttered from beside him. “Batman wore a
utility belt, you dope!”
ten minutes were taken up with pleading that they had an
obligation to protect their poor little brother. Trick or
treating in a Batman costume would not only mess with his head
but with his life. Kids in his class got beaten up for less.
Did they want his two black eyes to be on their consciences
you guys; please let me stay home with you. I promise I won’t
get in the way. I’ll do anything you want. Just don’t make me
go trick or treating. I hate it. I really do.”
moment he thought that the pleading had worked. He’d watched
as they’d exchanged worried glances. Virgil looked like he’d
agree with a little more encouragement. But the final say was
Scott’s and he remained steadfastly silent.
that you’ll be in our way, Johnny,” Virgil started; looking
like he felt the need to explain. “It’s just that Scott and
other plans,” Scott interjected followed by a long, hard glare
interruption made him instantly suspicious. Whatever their
plans were, he could bet his life that Grandma didn’t know
anything about them. They’d hardly said a word when he asked
them what was really going on. The shrugged “nothing much” and
“none of your business” soon became the lifeline for his
don’t tell me, I’ll go down and ask Grandma right now. I’ll
bet she’d like to know what you’re up to.”
they’d chorused in a horrified unison. He’d never seen Virgil
move to barricade a door so fast.
better keep your mouth shut if I tell you, Johnny.” The tone
of Scott’s voice said it all. “One wrong word out of you and I
swear I’ll personally see to it that you don’t make it past
the sixth grade.”
better not. That’s all I’ll say, Johnny.”
started off reluctantly. If he really had to know, they were
planning to go to the old graveyard. Rumour around school was
that the grave underneath the “Dark Angel” opened up every
Halloween to free two dead kids. Scott said he didn’t believe
a word of it and he wouldn’t believe it until he got to see
the kids climb out of the grave himself. Virgil said he wasn’t
keen to see it happen at all but admitted he had to go with
Scott, because he wasn’t allowed to stay home by himself.
awesome, you guys,” John had breathed in wide-eyed
excitement. His imagination had already run away with him.
What could possibly be cooler than spending Halloween in a
graveyard? They could count him in. He’d love to go.
head immediately shook from right to left.
That’s not the way it is, Johnny.”
absolutely no way he was taking a ten year old anywhere near a
graveyard. He was far too young to be walking around at night
and the last thing he and Virgil needed was the responsibility
of looking out for him if the stories about the Dark Angel
was all John had left to try. He’d sulked and tried to push
past Virgil. If they didn’t agree to take him, he’d go
straight down and tell Grandma everything. Then who’d
be the ones getting the vid-call from Father in Japan?
wouldn’t dare,” Scott openly challenged him. “I meant what I
said about you not making it past the sixth grade.”
dare. You just watch me.”
push him, Scott. You know he will.”
gritted his teeth. “Yeah, I know he will. Why do you think I
didn’t want to tell him?”
another exchange of worried glances. Scott and Virgil both
knew if he blabbed to Grandma they were sunk. John waited for
the verdict. Virgil shrugged silently in Scott’s direction.
Scott groaned, “you can go.”
been yesterday. Now Scott was groaning again. Why hadn’t he
just kept things all to himself and come out to the graveyard
alone? Anything beat babying two little brothers who were
scared at the sight of their own shadows.
didn’t say I was scared of anything,” Virgil bristled back
from beside him.
didn’t say I was scared of anything, either, “John added,
deciding it was a good idea to pretend to be offended too.
them got to pretend for long. When John heard it, he glanced
at Virgil. Then both of them looked at Scott, their eyes wide
open with fright.
was that?” John stammered, hoping for a logical explanation.
rolled his eyes and looked down at him. “What was what?” he
sighed loudly and shook his head.
Johnny, is nothing but an owl. Look over there…in that tree.”
right. A quick look at the tree nearby revealed the outline of
a large owl sitting on one of the lower branches. Almost on
cue, it hooted again; a black shadow lurking in the eerie glow
of the moonlight.
breathed a sigh of relief and relaxed. “Whew. For a minute
there I thought it was a ghost or something.”
shuddered. “Or a zombie.”
those dead kids.”
rolled his eyes again and began to move in the direction of
the graveyard gates. “Sometimes I wonder how I could possibly
be related to you guys. I’m going in. Grandma’s due home in an
and turned back to where both Virgil and John stood
motionless. “So, what’s it to be? Are you guys coming with me
swallowed hard and nodded reluctantly. John felt the contents
of his stomach lurch. He knew he was expected to nod, too. As
they followed Scott into the graveyard, Virgil caught at his
wrist and murmured words of support. There was nothing to
worry about. Scott was in charge. If they all stuck together
they’d be fine.
tried a little harder to be convincing. “Yeah, I’m sure,” he
said. “Scott always knows what he’s doing.”
he handle a ghost?”
I guess he can, Johnny.”
about a werewolf?”
aren’t any werewolves in Kansas.”
want to know that.”
doesn’t make me feel any better about this, Virg.”
moonlight didn’t indicate their path for long. Scott was
forced to use his penlight for direction as the street lights
disappeared from view. Rows of thick maple trees soon formed a
canopy around them. They blotted out the stars completely and
it didn’t help that they were rustling.
silence marked the appearance of the gravestones. Some were
crooked; others down. Scott manoeuvred the penlight to make
sure they stayed on the pathway. It weaved to the right and
left and back again, with gravestones on either side.
see anything, yet?” Virgil eventually found the courage to
Scott whispered back. “But from what they said at school, the
angel’s near the centre, somewhere.”
“If I knew
that, we’d already be there.”
people always whisper in graveyards?”
Virgil, how am I supposed to know that? Maybe they don’t want
to wake anybody up, huh?”
stopped and moved the light in another careful half-circle.
The concentration of headstones seemed to be greater to the
right. “I think it’s this way,” he said, and they deviated
from the pathway. The unkempt grass parted around their knees
as they walked.
Scott veered to the side to avoid another fallen headstone.
John failed to see it and stumbled forward awkwardly in the
you to watch where you’re going,” Scott snapped as he grasped
John’s arm to steady him.
didn’t,” John fired back. “You didn’t tell me to do anything,
telling you now; watch where you’re going.”
see where I’m going. You’re the one with the light.”
hard not to notice that the wind had picked up speed. The
rustling of the maple trees had grown louder. Another owl
called unexpectedly into the darkness. Something screeched.
The shadows moved.
like it out here.” John’s voice held a hint of panic.
a reassuring arm around his shoulders. “It’s OK, Johnny. It
won’t be long now.”
“I want to
Scott’s awestruck whisper...
crap, there it is!”
Angel stood like a sentry right in the middle of the
graveyard. It towered at least six feet over the small grave
it guarded. It had huge iron wings, covered in thick green
moss and empty eyes that gazed sightlessly over the rows of
gravestones in its path. It was fearsome and dark and without
a doubt, the most daunting looking creature the three of them
had ever seen.
right behind it was coming the most frightening, ghostly moan.
that?” This time it was Virgil panicking.
the light and motioned them close. “I don’t know,” he
admitted, looking worriedly around him. “And somehow I’m not
so sure it’s a good idea for us to stick around long enough to
moaning seemed to be coming from nowhere; long, low wails that
emphasised death as they echoed across the graveyard. They
huddled together, too scared to move. Scott wasn’t quite sure
what he should do.
“I want to
go home,” John whimpered, again.
Scott,” Virgil joined in the pleading.
remained silent, trying to figure out a plan.
the wind suddenly stopped and the graveyard was still. Even
the owl in the tree fell into a silence of anticipation. They
looked at each other. Was something going to happen?
it did, they had never run so fast in their lives.
Island – October 30 – 14 years later
lay on his side staring at the alarm clock, wondering at what
point his eyes would get the message that his brain was
demanding them both to close. Three in the morning and not an
ounce of sleep…for crying out loud, what was going on with
position and rolled onto his back. The frustration burned as
he stared at the ceiling. Who was he kidding? He knew what was
going on with him, all right. Father’s latest decision was the
reason for his insomnia. The decision had seriously pissed him
Father’s opinion, he wasn’t ready to resume his normal duties
in the satellite. Father still wasn’t convinced he was over
the accident properly and he didn’t want to take any chances.
He would be staying at the base until he could demonstrate
he’d recovered. There would be no further discussion on the
relived the accident from two weeks before and decided to make
a pact with himself to reform. The next time Scott yelled
“duck”, he was going to do it and not waste time asking
questions. The resultant concussion had left him with two
black eyes and a suspected fracture of his right cheek. Not to
mention a headache that could only be described as gargantuan
and an ego that was nearly as battered and bruised as he was.
It wouldn’t have been so bad if he’d been injured during the
course of a dangerous rescue operation. But knocked out
helping Scott and Virgil renovate the pool deck? That was past
the point of a man’s embarrassment.
accident had also cost him the opportunity to visit Harvard;
his only lecturing opportunity for the next six months. He’d
spent hours the previous month researching the Boomerang
Nebula and the Canus Major Dwarf Galaxy as his subject
material for the lecture. He’d also spent a good deal of time
trying to convince the Dean’s new secretary that she had at
least fifty good reasons to go out with him.
for what? For Father to sit him down the night before and
inform him he wasn’t going anywhere until he was in a fit
condition to be in control of a high speed aircraft.
no sleep and the clock blinking almost four, John rubbed his
eyes and tossed back the covers. It wasn’t much use lying here
feeling sorry for himself. Better off brewing himself some
coffee and calling Five to see what was going on. Or at least
calling Five to see if Alan was still talking to him. Alan
hadn’t been too impressed last night when Father canned his
hadn’t even seemed to notice the frown that followed Alan’s
curt nod of compliance or the look on his face as the
discussion ended and he disappeared from view. Of course Alan
didn’t mind manning the satellite for a few more days; Father
had reassured everyone over dinner. Alan and Tin-Tin were only
planning to attend some costume party on the mainland.
right, isn’t it, Tin-Tin?” he’d questioned from his place at
the head of the table.
Tracy,” she’d responded carefully. Father obviously hadn’t
recognised the look of disappointment on her face, either.
pulled on his t-shirt and padded down the hall, heading in the
direction of the kitchen. On second thoughts, he’d leave the
situation with Alan alone. Alan would still be sulking over
the rotation for sure and after John’s own heated exchange
with Father on exactly the same subject, the last thing any of
them needed right now was to be involved in another argument.
you all right, son?” The authoritative voice that came
from behind him sounded concerned. John turned back to see the
shadow of his father, who was standing bleary-eyed in the
sleep,” he replied abruptly; a little too abruptly. He saw the
shadow stiffen a little and immediately recognised the signs.
“I’m sorry, sir, “he decided to add in a hurry.” I didn’t mean
to wake you. “
didn’t. I was already up. So where are you headed, then,
kitchen,” John felt himself shrugging. “I thought some coffee
might clear my head.”
good. I think I might join you.”
something about drinking coffee at four thirty in the morning;
especially when it was with the man who had taken up temporary
residence on the opposite side of the bench. It was the one of
many things John found reassuring about his father. Last night
he’d pounded on the desk, defending an unpopular decision.
This morning he was back to his usual self again; eager to
talk about the tropical storm that had passed over the island
decided to make the most of the amiable situation as he filled
their coffee cups to the brim.
sure Alan didn’t mind you changing his plans for tonight?” he
enquired, still concentrating on the task at hand.
frowned a little before acknowledging the leading question
with a slight inclination of his head.
fine with it. I’m surprised you need to ask me again. It’s not
like you deliberately planned all this, John.”
I know. But I figure Al would be pretty disappointed, what
with his big date with Tin-Tin and all.”
knows that he has a job to do and he’s happy to do it. They
can go to the mainland another time.”
nodded and handed him the cup, unsure whether it was safe to
push the issue any further. He weighed the consequences and
decided it was worth taking the risk. After a few small sips,
about last night…”
looked across the bench at him in silent expectation. John
felt himself squirming but continued on.
realise I shouldn’t have lost my temper and I know you don’t
want to hear my side of things again, but honestly, I think
you’re overreacting about my fitness to resume duty on Five.”
Tracy’s face remained devoid of all expression. He calmly
reached over and spooned sugar into his coffee. “I’m very sure
you do, John,” he eventually replied. “Last night you made it
more than clear to everyone in the room that you didn’t agree
with the decision that was made.”
moment John felt a little encouraged that there might be room
to negotiate. At least his father hadn’t said no again, yet.
that I doubt your decision-making, Father, “he admitted.” I’m
just really itching to get back into action, that’s all. It’s
boring being stuck here at the base. Like I said last night;
I’m more than capable of handling things on Five. What I
and corrected himself. “I mean…what I would like, sir, is the
opportunity to prove it to you.”
took another sip of coffee. Jeff Tracy’s eyes remained firmly
fixed on the bench.
sorry, John,” he replied and his tone was firm. “As far as I
am concerned, the answer’s still no.”
down his cup and tried to explain. John sighed impatiently as
he listened to the logic.
agree with you,” he interjected with his father still in
mid-sentence. “I’m telling you right now, there’s absolutely
nothing wrong with me. “
it was Jeff Tracy’s turn to breathe the sigh of impatience.
His voice became stern.
tell me whatever you want, John. You should know me well
enough by now to know I’m not going to change my mind.”
the time to justify his decision again. While John was still
getting the headaches, his place was at home on Tracy Island.
When the blurred vision improved he could go out on rescue
with his brothers. If he coped with that, he could return to
Thunderbird Five and complete the balance of his rotation. No
more discussion. No more argument.
already made myself clear, John.”
stared into his coffee. It was pointless arguing any further.
was the only word he trusted himself to say.
– October 31
Delaney was a typical seventeen year old guy and there was
nothing wrong with a typical seventeen year old guy planning
to spend his Halloween in the arms of a typical sixteen year
Mary-Sue Ryan was typical. She was far from the stereotype, in
fact. With her long blonde hair and dark green eyes, she was
the closest thing to a goddess Jimmy had seen. He couldn’t
believe his luck when she agreed to go out with him, let alone
make the suggestion it would be nice to go somewhere private
in his brand new second hand car.
had purchased him a car during the previous summer vacation.
It was to be his means of transport to college, he’d said.
Jimmy still wasn’t sure if he actually wanted to go to
college, but the car was certainly coming in handy while he
was making the final decision.
like parking in cars, Mary-Sue?” he’d asked her over lunch in
doing anything you like to do,” had been her quick and very
when he knew Mary-Sue Ryan wasn’t typical. He’d planned the
entire evening based on that unexpected statement. He’d
take her for a bite to eat at the local burger joint first;
then take the car for a spin and show it off around the
district. They’d finish the night out on the old church road.
Lots of kids made out behind the maple trees at the back of
the old graveyard.
thoughts drifted towards that creepy old place. It was the
oldest in the county and isolated as hell. There were hardly
any lights and nobody went in there if they could help it.
also the home of that freaky “Dark Angel” that everyone in
high school was afraid of.
had been circulating for years about the Dark Angel and all
the strange things that were supposed to happen around
Halloween. No-one he knew had actually seen anything and last
year, when Jimmy had tried to suss things out for himself,
he’d been too scared out of his wits to stay.
couldn’t explain the moaning he’d heard. What were those
shadows he’d seen moving beside the gravestones? Why did the
wind suddenly stop like that? Did he really see what he
thought he saw?
fingers tapped the steering wheel of the car as he waited out
the front of Mary-Sue Ryan’s.
going out there at Halloween wasn’t such a good idea after
Island – October 31
Tracy had already made the announcement, twice, that a certain
blond in the family had absolutely no sense of humour. Not
only had John been acting like a bear with a sore head since
Father had deferred his rotation, he was now threatening to
jam a pumpkin up the ass of the very next person who tried to
involve him in any Halloween preparations.
latest rant was occurring over his lunch plate. What in the
blazes was going on around this place? Everywhere a guy went
he was accosted by crap…rubber bats hanging in
closets…pumpkins smiling at him from the bathroom floor. Hell,
he’d even found a set of vampire teeth in Thunderbird 3 when
he was trying to concentrate on a fault that had developed in
the electronic equipment.
“This is a
not a difficult statement for you to comprehend, Gordon,” he
continued through clenched teeth. “Listen carefully to what
I’m saying. I don’t like Halloween. I don’t do
silence followed the slamming down of the orange juice and the
resultant glare across the table.
don’t get is why you refuse to “do” Halloween in the first
place,” Gordon eventually responded. “You haven’t had your
heart in Halloween for as long as I can remember.”
strangled his napkin and snapped up his fork. Moments later he
was stabbing at his potato salad. “Maybe it’s because I’m not
a child anymore,” he shot back, making no attempt to hide his
irritation. “So why don’t you and your rubber friends take the
hint and leave me to “recover” from my accident in peace?”
a guy prefers it on Five,” he grumbled under his breath. The
potato salad was stabbed and stabbed and stabbed again.
lighten up, why don’t you?” Gordon frowned at him, annoyed.
”Halloween is fun for most of the population.”
is not fun.”
refused to let the matter drop.
is, Johnny. Your problem is that you’re out of sorts right
now, because Dad won’t let you back on Five to play with your
not out of sorts,” John argued hotly. ”I’m just sick to
death of you constantly acting like a five year old about to
go trick or treating.”
liked treat or treating.”
this guy’s fault you turned out weird.”
back at the head of the table and tried to keep the smirk on
his face from developing into a full-blown grin. Watching the
dynamics between Gordon and John was always interesting
entertainment. John had zero tolerance for Gordon’s unique
sense of humour and his tolerance level had nosedived even
further since Father had deferred his rotation.
really bad about the accident. He and Virgil should have
gotten a firmer grip on the decking timber before they lifted
it above their heads. He could still hear the sickening crack
to John’s skull when he turned around to see why they were
yelling at him to duck. John was knocked out clean; head
backwards into the pool. He’d been one sore and sorry
individual when he finally came around. He’d also been
extremely difficult to live with, which was made more than
obvious by the heat of the current conversation. Just as well
Father had eaten lunch earlier and was down in the laboratory
being a royal pain, but he was absolutely right about John not
having his heart in Halloween. John had withdrawn from
anything to do with it since the night they saw the two
shadows climb out of the grave in Kansas. At least that’s what
they thought they’d seen, Father had said and rather sternly.
Imagination could be a useful thing when it came to making
excuses for their irresponsible behaviour. They should never
have gone to the graveyard in the first place and if they knew
what was good for them, it had better not happen again.
hadn’t wasted any time picking up the vid phone when they’d
informed her of their little Halloween adventure.
Virgil had chosen to forget about it; grateful when the three
months of extra chores came to an end. But Johnny was
different. He had to have an explanation for everything. He
spent every spare moment chained to his computer until Father
stepped in and said enough was enough. It wasn’t always
essential for possibility to equal probability and there would
be no need to question it in the first place if he’d done the
right thing and gone trick or treating with his brothers.
“I mean it
John,” Father had insisted firmly. “I don’t want to hear
another word about your theories on graveyards, Halloween, or
that blasted Dark Angel.”
smiled to himself and relived the memory. They’d all been so
scared of the Dark Angel that night. In hindsight, it had been
a ridiculous thing to do. Common sense said graves only opened
with human intervention. It was a medical impossibility for
bodies to rise from the dead. It was laughable that he’d even
had such a morbid fascination with the subject.
broke through as John left the table, still arguing the point
wondered how many other kids would be out there, tonight,
doing exactly the same thing that they’d done.
– October 31
were hot and heavy in the back of Jimmy Delaney’s car, and it
had nothing whatsoever to do with the unseasonal warmth of the
dark October night in Kansas.
parked the car in a clearing near the river, making sure it
couldn’t be seen from the road. He didn’t want the sheriff
showing up and asking what the heck they were doing. Sheriff
Kennedy played golf every week-end with his dad.
remoteness of the area had unnerved Mary-Sue at first, even
though she was the one who had made the suggestion. Howling
dogs and hooting owls were not very conducive to getting to
know him, she’d shivered. But a little liquid encouragement
soon helped her to adjust to her surroundings. One little
drink wouldn’t hurt either of them, he’d said.
“Mary-Sue,” Jimmy Delaney groaned into her mass of thick
she replied and closed her eyes to his exploration.
rustling of the maple trees went unnoticed, courtesy of the
radio turned down low on the dash. The moon had risen and
climbed high above the trees, bathing the car in an uncanny,
then that Mary-Sue startled from beneath him. “I think
someone’s out there,” she whispered into Jimmy’s naked chest.
lifted his head and scanned the darkness outside. The maple
trees moved gently in the warm Kansas breeze. There was the
sound of the river rolling nearby. An owl or two hooted but
that was nothing unusual.
he breathed. “There’s no-one around.”
hummed on and they were soon distracted. The moon rose higher.
An old gate began to creak.
them were prepared when the unexpected came. They both nearly
died with fright at the tapping. There, at the window, was a
small child looking at them through the glass.
to help me,” he begged. “My brother’s in trouble. He’s stuck
in the graveyard and he can’t get out.”
looked worried as he sat bolt upright and fumbled around in
the dark for his clothes.
two kids be out here in the middle of the night?” Mary-Sue
feigned innocence. “I don’t know.” But there was no doubt in
his mind the kid and his brother had been in the graveyard
checking out that stupid Dark Angel.
continued to ask for help. He was too small to get Billy out
himself. They had to come. They had to come quickly. Didn’t
they understand Billy was in a lot of trouble?
he pleaded. “I need somebody to help. It’s cold and it’s dark
Delaney looked at Mary-Sue Ryan and noticeably swallowed; his
past Halloween memories still fresh. He’d sworn the last time
he came out here that he’d never go near the Dark Angel again.
But he couldn’t just leave a little kid wandering alone in the
middle of a graveyard, either His conscience tugged him in
right,” he nodded. “Give me a minute.” He reached forward to
grab his flashlight.
doors and keep them locked,” he instructed a very frightened
come now,” the child demanded, and turned to walk back through
the gate. “Billy doesn’t have much time left.”
Thunderbird Five – October 31
cape, fake fangs and a cross; lost for hours in her long dark
hair. That had been his plans for a happy Halloween on the
mainland. It would have been good to attend the costume party
with his racing buddies and be alone with Tin-Tin again.
accidents happened, Father had told him on the com-link, and
by what Alan had seen of John in the background when he said
it, Thunderbird Five was going to be home for at least the
next two weeks. At least he was lucky that Tin-Tin had
understood when he called her to apologise for the last minute
been a long, slow month for International Rescue and Alan had
been looking forward to the welcome return from space. He’d
only picked up two rescue calls in the last ten days. The days
and the nights had dragged.
it was, October 31, and he’d screened eight potential calls
already. They’d all been from kids fooling around in the dark
with the exception of an inebriated teenager who’d gotten lost
on the way to his girlfriend’s Halloween party.
he got the opportunity to go to one,” Alan sulked as he viewed
the earth from the satellite.
attention soon returned to the console in front of him. There
was another situation he’d picked up earlier and was currently
monitoring with interest. Some kid called Gregory Fisher who
kept asking for help for his brother. The signal was coming
from an old graveyard in Kansas. Alan had recorded the details
but was yet to decide if the kid was on the level.
made it very clear earlier in the evening that he wasn’t in
the mood for any bogus calls.
Delaney simply couldn’t figure this out. No matter how fast he
walked he never seemed to walk fast enough to catch up to the
kid who called himself Gregory Fisher. When he walked fast,
Gregory Fisher walked faster. When he slowed down his pace,
the result was exactly the same. It was downright strange, and
his uneasiness was magnified ten times over by the rustle of
the maple trees overhead.
been almost fifteen minutes since he’d left Mary-Sue alone in
the car and he still hadn’t found any trace of the missing
Billy Fisher. As he continued to follow Billy’s brother deeper
and deeper into the graveyard, he started wondering if he was
about to become the victim of some elaborate Halloween prank.
His high school buddies were renowned for shit like that. It
was so tempting to forget he’d seen Gregory Fisher at all and
get the heck out of here.
they’d come so far that they were almost in the centre of the
graveyard. The fallen gravestones and narrowing path only
meant one thing to Jimmy. One hundred feet and a few more
trees would bring him face to face with the Dark Angel.
turned towards him when he hesitated at the sight and the
sound of the intimidating moss-covered statue.
over there,” he said, pointing directly in front of the Dark
Angel. “You have to come closer and help me get him out.”
stood completely still. He couldn’t go any closer. He simply
couldn’t. He didn’t know what he’d find.
the monotone of Gregory Fisher called to him. “Please. You
have to help me get my brother Billy out.”
flashlight followed the ground as he forced his legs to move
forward. His rapidly beating heart and frazzled nerves told
him this had to be a big mistake. Any moment he expected
something from the earth below to grab at his ankles and drag
him into hell.
flashlight caught the inscriptions on the stonework at the
base of the Dark Angel.
Patrick Fisher “
David Fisher “
in Peace, our darling Angels.”
when the ground opened up completely and Jimmy Delaney fell.
this is probably going to sound kind of crazy, Father, but
I’ve just received a distress call from a girl in Kansas. The
only name she’ll give me is …errr…wait for it...Mary-Sue.”
heard that one before.”
Tracy’s face dropped to express a combination of annoyance and
disbelief. “You got us all out of bed for something like this,
Alan? I thought I made myself very clear that you were to
exercise your discretion tonight when you received those types
coloured and looked at his brothers who had been hurriedly
assembled in the lounge. Scott only wore a pair of wrinkled
boxer shorts. Virgil’s hair stuck straight up in the air. John
stood half-asleep with a pillow in his arm-pit. Gordon hadn’t
even made an appearance.
been exercising discretion, Dad,” Alan protested over the
monitor, clearly unhappy at the admonishment. “It’s just that
her call ties in with some other really weird things I’ve been
monitoring at the same location.”
as?” Jeff Tracy folded his arms and nodded at him to
continue. Alan took the nod as a gruff acknowledgement that
maybe calling had been the right thing for him to do.
Mary-Sue said she was trying to contact the local sheriff from
her cell phone. For some strange reason the phone wouldn’t
connect with the network so I picked up the call from Five.
She told me that she was alone in a car about three miles from
our old farmhouse. She and some guy called Jimmy Delaney had
been out by the river...you know…um…celebrating Halloween.”
ignored the smirks from his brothers at his obvious discomfort
and continued to explain the situation to his father.
“Apparently Delaney went into the graveyard to help a kid
called Billy who’d gotten into some kind of trouble. Mary-Sue
said he’s been gone for almost two hours. I figure Scott
should go and take a look out there, Dad.”
eyebrows knitted as he viewed the image of his youngest. He
could hardly believe what he was hearing at eleven thirty five
in the evening.
person is absolutely no reason for us to offer our services to
anyone, Alan. Surely by now you have enough experience to
interrupted him before the dressing down went any further.
“Please Dad, allow me to finish. I thought the same thing
too…at first. ”
Jeff bit back, trying hard to contain his impatience.
I’ve also been picking up another signal for most of the
night. It’s a kid who keeps saying his brother Billy needs
exactly are you saying, Alan? “snapped Scott, who was sick of
the puzzle. “That you think it’s the same Billy?”
didn’t flinch, his belief in his intuition firm.
that’s exactly what I’m saying. It’s the same frequency and
almost the identical location. And get this; ten minutes
before I picked up Mary-Sue’s call, the kid told me a Jimmy
was in big trouble, too and both of them needed our help.”
of their hoverbikes cut the air as they scoured the length and
breadth of the graveyard. There was nothing to worry about,
John Tracy kept telling himself. There were no open graves
with dark figures climbing out. What they’d witnessed fourteen
years before had been a figment of their imaginations.
Of all the
rescues to prove his fitness, Father had to select him for
this one. He’d nearly turned green when Father decided a third
crew member should go along in case they needed to operate any
machinery. Machinery in a graveyard. Wouldn’t that be a load
of laughs? Gordon sure knew when to stay in bed with a stomach
ache after too much pumpkin pie.
seems pretty straightforward I think, but John can join you as
a precaution,” he’d said to Scott and Virgil before
despatching them full speed to Kansas.
you’re up to it, son?” had been aimed in John’s direction.
I am. There’s nothing wrong with me, Father.”
choice did he have if he wanted to go back on rotation?
on his hover bike slowly scanned the distant outline of the
Dark Angel as it towered over the graveyard. He wasn’t ashamed
to admit that the stupid statue still scared the crap right
out of him. Virgil was doing a pretty good job of trying to
pretend the whole thing didn’t worry him. However, a closer
observation of his tight-lipped expression told John a very
leave the area near the centre until last,” Virgil decided,
turning his bike and motioning John to follow him.
relaxed a little and began to chuckle. “Not scared of
anything, are you?” he teased as they headed in the other
flashed him a disapproving frown. “Since when did I say I was
scared of anything?”
the last time I said I wasn’t scared of anything, either,”
John grinned back.
on, Johnny; we were only kids back then.”
that’s why we’re searching the Dark Angel last, right?”
went to respond but was interrupted when Scott joined them
from where he’d been searching at the other end of the
boomed in the stillness
hopeless. We need to split up. I’ve already spent the best
part of thirty minutes grappling with trees and overgrown
grass over there and so far, I haven’t found anything.”
up?” John questioned him, doubtfully.
not serious, are you?” Virgil added.
immediately swung his hover bike around to look directly at
his two younger brothers.
serious. Why wouldn’t I be serious? You know what we’re
expected to do.”
Scott... we all know what we saw that night.”
wasn’t in the mood for them to revert to their childhood or
start questioning his decisions.
something straight right now. There are two kids in trouble
around here and we need to find them and fast. I’m sure you
still have reservations about this place, but we are no longer
the teenagers who ran home and confessed everything to
Grandma. And before you say anything John…” Scott lifted a
finger to warn him, “… don’t even think about trying to be a
wiseass. After what Dad said to me, I should remember more
than anyone, that you were only ten years old at the time.”
always been a pretty good mind reader. John closed his mouth
and gave the expected nod of compliance. All three of them
remembered who’d borne the brunt of the terrified confession
to their grandmother. Father had been so angry he’d returned
home from Japan to deliver the lecture to Scott in person.
he’d made his point, Scott continued, explaining what he
wanted them to do.
going to check the area up above those trees,” he said. “I
want you guys to spread out here and sweep up every row of
gravestones until you reach the Angel. Look carefully for any
trace of ground disturbance. If you find anything, no matter
how small, call me on my wrist communicator, OK?”
flinched at the mention of ground disturbances and glanced
apprehensively towards the Dark Angel.
he grimaced uncomfortably.
Scott demanded when he received no reply to his instructions.
indicated the communicator firmly strapped to his left wrist.
“Shouldn’t you also be reminding me to watch where I’m going
at this point?”
glared at him, less than amused.
think so,” he snapped abruptly. “This time you have your own
light. How about you use it and help me find those kids?” Then
he shot his hover bike off in the other direction, expecting
his orders to be obeyed.
can’t help yourself, can you Johnny?” Virgil chided as Scott
disappeared into the blackness. He gave a resigned shake of
the head to indicate he was annoyed.
sensed the disapproval. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
exactly what it means, Johnny.”
to give me a break.”
need to give him a break. A simple FAB was all that was
for Jimmy Delaney then resumed in an air of awkward stiffness.
But contrary to Scott’s orders, they remained together,
steadfastly side by side.
want to miss anything,” was the agreed-upon excuse. It had
nothing to do with being in a graveyard at midnight with the
Dark Angel lurking nearby.
there has to be a logical explanation for all this,” John
offered, their sharp exchange already forgotten.
scooted lower to the ground to check a large indentation.
always has to be a logical explanation for everything in your
world,” he observed, offering a quick smile to offset the
mean it,” John continued earnestly. “I’ve thought about this
Dark Angel thing for ages. A grave just doesn’t open up by
learning.” Virgil moved on from the indentation to the next
row of trees. “Nothing here, either,” he said. “Let’s move it
over towards the west.”
row of weathered marble revealed nothing; then another and
another and another. Twelve more rows and they’d be face to
face with the imposing, black cast iron statue. The close
proximity of the Angel started John off all over again.
frowned at him. “So, what?”
do two walking, breathing individuals just disappear right in
the middle of a graveyard?”
actually,” Virgil corrected him. “Don’t forget the kid that
Alan was supposed to be monitoring.”
expression altered at the mention of Alan’s name.
well that’s another thing that I don’t get. I don’t know what
he’s doing up there but he should be able to pick something
up with the tracking equipment in the satellite.”
shrugged his shoulders.
what he told Scott on the radio. The only heat mass that’s
registering up on Five is the girlfriend sitting in the car.”
defies all logic,” John argued back, refusing to acknowledge
Alan’s report to Scott was correct. ”If they’re alive, there
has to be a heat mass. It’s as simple as that.”
you more than anyone should know that trying to be logical and
argue with Alan at the same time is not an easy thing to do.”
Angel loomed closer as the search continued. Almost in unison,
they pushed the hover bikes higher. It gave them a better
overall view of the graveyard, they decided. Being safely
above the statue had nothing to do with moss covered metal,
strange noises or sightless eyes.
to my original question…” John broached the subject for a
third time. “How is it possible for anyone to disappear in the
middle of a graveyard?”
sighed, a mixture of tiredness, worry and frustration. “I
don’t know, John. How about you tell me?”
aren’t left open overnight.”
it’s Halloween. And you heard what Dad said about it, too. We
didn’t see what we saw that night.” Virgil seemed to be
refusing to allow himself to re-live the memory of the night
the three of them were spooked.
did see it and that’s my point. Two shadows climbed out of the
ground in front of us and if it wasn’t a grave, there’s no
doubt in my mind that it had to be something else.”
tunnel, I figure.”
dropped his hover bike to the ground.
tunnel?” he frowned. “Has it occurred to you that if someone
dug a tunnel though here, they might not like what they’d
John dropped his bike down to the ground, prepared to defend
his theory. “And has it occurred to you that I might
have done a bit of research on the subject of tunnels being
dug through old graveyards in the south?”
you even bother with something as bizarre as that, Johnny?”
am still determined to find the answer for something our
father told us was complete improbability at the time!”
caught his reaction and immediately felt foolish. It was the
reaction of the ten year old child he had been when they were
creeping around in the dark fourteen years before.
Virg,” he continued, embarrassed at the outburst, “you know
how much I’ve always liked the challenge of solving puzzles.”
nodded without a word and waited for him to explain further.
John pulled himself together and continued on.
of years ago I read an article about the slave trade in the
Kansas Territory. Some of the things the slaves devised to
escape from their masters were pretty darn amazing,” he said.
“One way was by tunnel to a nearby river where they escaped in
it be dangerous descending the river bank in the dark?”
but they still took the risk. Hundreds of them escaped like
that. What’s interesting is the fact that most of the tunnels
started near a church and all of them had working graveyards.
There isn’t much research available for the graveyards around
this part of Kansas but in my thinking it might be a
possibility. After all…” He pointed to the church and then the
river, “...we’ve got both of the necessary ingredients right
thought for a moment. ”Yeah, you could be right. It would kind
of explain things, I guess.”
is, but nevertheless I think we should inform Scott right
away. He’s somewhere over by the old church.” He lifted his
wrist to speak into his communicator.
three wrist communicators could malfunction at once was
completely beyond their comprehension. All the communicators
had been working perfectly less than five minutes before.
Virgil tried his backup. Like John’s, it was completely dead
really weird, Johnny,” Virgil said uneasily. “I don’t think I
like being out in a graveyard in the middle of the night with
absolutely no means of communicating.”
we’ve got more important things to worry about at the moment.”
had started to pick up speed and something behind the Dark
Angel was moaning.
tell me you have a theory for that as well,” Virgil quaked at
the dreadful sound coming from behind the statue.
swallowed hard while he tried to recollect anything he’d read
or heard. “How about it’s the wind blowing through the cracks
in the statue?” he offered.
the last time you and I heard moaning like that we both saw
something we didn’t want to see.”
Scott. We’re no longer three kids in a graveyard.”
three men without any wrist communicators”
not what I want to hear right now, Johnny.”
hard to ignore the angel as it moaned, but they knew for Jimmy
Delaney’s sake, they had to forget their childhood fears and
continue. They forced themselves to sweep the rear of the
statue. Just when they were convinced there was nothing to
worry about, the wind disappeared and the entire graveyard was
John thought he saw something move to his right. He motioned
with his head and silently removed his gun from its holster.
Virgil drew own his gun when he saw the movement too.
happening again and they weren’t imagining it. Someone was
climbing out of the grave on the other side of the Dark Angel.
took aim at the slowly moving shadow. He didn’t needed to be
reminded what it took to defend himself in the middle of a
graveyard. John did the same, his finger steady on the
trigger. One wrong move and whatever it was would be dead
before it hit the ground.
the shadow swore and began to splutter and cough.
could get blasted claustrophobia down there. Hurry up, fellas.
We’ll need a stretcher. Delaney’s broken his leg but he’s
Dark Angel.” The glasses lifted in unison.
all those who impersonate her.” The glasses lifted again
those who reveal their theories in graveyards.” It was a
salute to John.
those who are so desperate at the time, they have no option
but to believe them,” John laughed, raising his glass to
the lack of sleep and the new dawn on Tracy Island, the three
eldest Tracy brothers were happy to sit through the necessary
debriefing with their father before heading off to bed.
“You did a
good job, boys,” Jeff Tracy smiled, amused at the
light-hearted ribbing amongst his sons. “ No-one had any idea
that old tunnels existed in that graveyard. Delaney was lucky
to escape the situation with only a broken leg.”
have ended up in worse shape than Delaney,” Virgil grumbled in
Scott’s direction. “I hope you realise I had my gun aimed
right at you.”
“And in a
graveyard, I tend to shoot first and ask questions later,”
John added to support Virgil’s complaining.
swallowed his scotch, caught Virgil a bear-hug and then leaned
forward to ruffle John’s blond hair. “Nah, you wouldn’t have
shot me, you guys.”
what you think,” John growled back. “Whatever happened to the
order to keep in touch if you found any kind of ground
pleased to see his comment had the desired outcome from their
communicator went dead, Father,” was Scott’s explanation to
the questioning frown. “So when I saw the rotted door in the
ground at the back of the old church, I had to take the gamble
and go down there. The hardest part was trying to find Delaney
in the tunnel. That tunnel ran nearly the whole length of the
graveyard. I was on my hands and knees for most of the way. By
the time I found him I think both of us were delirious. It’s
not a good feeling, believe me.”
weren’t the only one delirious,” Virgil berated him. “I swear
my heart still has two rows of teeth marks on it after seeing
you come out of that ground.”
doubt that was what you all saw that night when you shouldn’t
have been there,” Jeff Tracy acceded. “Two people horsing
around in that tunnel who decided it was time to call it
silence as Scott, Virgil and John pondered on their father’s
statement and how they’d felt that terrifying night when the
ground opened up right in front of them and two children
climbed out into the graveyard.
who scared the crap out of us fourteen years ago?” Virgil
said, shaking his head.
something cold crawling down John’s spine. He forced out the
words he really, really didn’t want to say. “Guys…we
never did find any trace of Greg or Billy Fisher tonight.”
Virgil stared at him. John saw the same unwanted realization
hit them both.
wrenched his gaze around, looked at his father instead.
“Delaney was adamant that he was following Greg Fisher through
the graveyard, Dad. But I never saw anyone but Delaney.”
been leaning forward, sucked into the moment by the tension
that ran between his sons. Then he seemed to catch himself,
abruptly sitting back and shaking his head. His expression
made his thoughts very clear. Oh, no, you don’t. We’re not
doing this again!
ended the debriefing with one final statement.
a life, boys. That’s all that matters. Let’s just leave it at