Scott and Virgil wake up one
morning and find Tracy Villa deserted. Could it be because
Written for the 2004 TIWF FicSwap Challenge.
Scott has nerves of steel. I mean, I consider myself a
competent pilot and can operate any of the machines that
International Rescue has at its disposal. But sometimes even
the most straightforward rescue can go bad and then his calm,
even voice issuing orders from Mobile Control is the lifeline
that I and the rest of my family can hang on to.
brother is only human, and just like the rest of us, he
occasionally has an off day.
had on the last day of October.
previous rescue had gone well. Only the Mole had been
required, so only Scott and I had been needed. We returned
tired but satisfied, late in the night, or early that morning,
depending on your point of view, and fell into our respective
beds for a much-deserved night's sleep.
mention that my older brother only sleeps four hours at a
time? So I should not have been surprised to learn that he
awoke before it was yet noon ready for action. Only problem
was, he also woke me shortly after he did. And it is
well-documented that I am NOT an early riser.
over me, shaking me incessantly, and would not let my protests
over being awakened so soon after falling asleep deter him.
Once the shaking helped clear away some of the sleepy cobwebs
that infested my brain, I realized that he was shaking
himself, and the look in his eyes got my attention.
knew I was fully awake, he launched into an incredibly
frightening tale: all the power on the island was off, contact
with Thunderbird Five and my brother John was lost, and the
rest of our family and friends that lived on the island had
told me it was all in a bad dream he'd had.
I was, I
thought, understandably upset. "You woke me out of a sound
sleep because you had a bad dream?" I exploded. "And just what
do you want me to do? Turn on all the lights, tuck you back
into bed, and show you the bogeyman isn't under it?" I threw
open the curtains of my bedroom window, blinding the both of
us with the bright tropical sunshine that poured in. "Look at
that!" I shouted sarcastically. "It's broad daylight, and
everyone knows the monsters only come out when it's dark!"
seemed astonished at my reaction and let me finish my tirade.
Then he spoke again, in a quiet voice that he rarely used. "Virg,
listen to me," he said sincerely. "It's not just a dream...
The power really is off, I can't raise John, and I can't find
anyone on the island." He paused, and took a deep breath. "And
there really is a hearse in the pool."
apparent non-sequitur deflected whatever retort I'd been
trying to formulate. "A what?"
another word, he grabbed me by the arm, pulled me after him
out my door, down the hallway to the lounge, and out onto the
patio overlooking the pool and the beach beyond. Sure enough,
floating on the surface of the pool was large, black, Lincoln
automobile with somber, ball-fringed curtains in the windows
of the elongated rear section. After a moment of astonished
staring, I realized that we were both standing barefoot on top
of bits of ceramic and a darkly wet stain that was all that
remained of a cup of coffee that had been dropped on the
patio, not an hour previous.
my scattered wits. "Okay," I said at last. "There's got to be
a reasonable explanation for all this." I glanced over at
Scott and remembered we were both still in pajamas and bare
feet. "But first, I think we better get dressed..."
minutes later, properly garbed, I confirmed for myself that
all was as Scott had described. The communications link to
Thunderbird Five was dead. Not too surprising, since there was
no electricity going into the unit. Indeed, no household
appliance or motor had any power, including the accesses to
Thunderbirds One and Two and the various lifts, hidden and
otherwise, to the hangars under the house. And we were the
only people visible on the island.
of contact with John was easy enough to explain since power
outage was island-wide. How that could have happened was the
greater mystery. The house, International Rescue's
sophisicated communication system, and each of the hangars and
workplaces below ground had their own transformer and power
grid. This was part of the island's design, so that even if
power to the house or any of the other systems failed,
International Rescue would still be operational. For the power
to have failed everywhere seemed to indicate some sinister
chance for determining what happened to the family was John in
Thunderbird Five, and the best chance to communicate with him
was in re-establishing power to the communications array. That
meant we needed to find the source of the power outage. Scott
and I each found a flashlight and met at one of the hidden
doors that led to the underground complex.
hidden switch activated a small servo set in a track on the
back of the door. As the servo rotated in the track, it slid
the door open. Now, without the energy to operate it, we had
to muscle the door open without benefit of any type of handle.
We succeeded, but it wasn't fun, and we both lost a little
skin in the process.
descended the stairs into pitch darkness, our footsteps,
normally insignificant in the noise from the air circulating
system and the other machinery that usually was in operation,
made an eerie echo. It followed and preceded us up and down
the corridors and into the hangars as we traveled through, and
seemed to magnify our grunts and curses as we muscled open a
few more doors. It occurred to us much later, that the deeper
we went under the hangars, the dimmer our lights got.
At last we
reached the chamber that held the power grid we needed, the
one for the communication array. Scott and I stopped, shining
our lights around the cavernous space. If it had been well-lit
as it usually was, the panel that we wanted, somewhere on the
other side of the room, would have been easy to see. The dark
was disorienting to say the least. Neither of us could
remember exactly where along the wall the sliding panel was.
And neither of us could remember exactly what apparatus Brains
had set up in the middle of the room, nor were our hand-held
lights much help in illuminating what was there. Scott and I
decided to split up and go in opposite directions, following
the walls around. The first one to find it was to shout out.
dark, we must have missed it, and some misguided sixth sense
made us realize it, so that we were both walking backwards
trying to see what we missed. What followed could have been
taken direct from some old vid comedy. The moment our backs
collided, we both screamed and jumped apart. Scott's
flashlight went flying from his hands, and we heard a crash on
the other side of the room, as the dim light went out.
shrugged sheepishly, and then we both heard a sound that made
our hearts freeze. A high moaning sound that could have been a
human voice wound down through the unseen corridor across the
room from us. The sound continued for several minutes,
accompanied by a series of dull thuds. Then just as suddenly,
there was silence again.
both staring wide-eyed at each other. Almost as if on cue, the
flashlight in my hand died and we were left in pitch darkness.
I broke into a sweat and felt an overwhelming urge to bolt and
run as far in the opposite direction as the corridors allowed.
Scott either sensed what I was about to do or was too scared
to be left alone. Some inborn reaction kicked in and we
grabbed and held each other close, quaking. His grip was iron,
but his hands were just as slick with sweat as mine.
swallowed several times before I could make my voice work.
"What the hell was that?" I finally got out in a whisper.
didn't answer right away, probably struggling to speak as I
had. "That was part of the dream, too." he whispered back.
After a moment, with nothing further happening, we started to
get a handle on things. When Scott spoke his voice again was
stronger, but just as quiet. "But it was different too
...Wait. There it is again."
sounds repeated, but now it sounded familiar...
shoulders together, and, hugging the wall, returned to the
corridor we had just left. The sounds came from a closed test
chamber with large double door. "Gordon! Alan!" Scott shouted.
response was muffled, but was definitely our two youngest
brothers, Evidently Dad was in there, too, for we could hear
the gruff rumble of his voice as well, though not his words.
four of us pushing on it, we were finally able to get the huge
door open a crack. Relieved voices greeted us. Behind the
door, we found the rest of the family as well. Brains was very
subdued and self-conscious, but with the help of a flashlight
he had in the lab, we found the power grid that restored
lighting to the underground levels and the rest of the power
was quickly restored.
all gathered in the lounge. John had been frantically trying
to reach us; he'd known about the test, but couldn't make
contact. Eventually, we got around to discussing what had
happened. Evidently, Brains had completed one of his big
projects and had invited the rest down to see his
accomplishment at work, planning to show it to Scott and I
when we arose later in the morning. Unfortunately, the machine
was drawing more power than Brains had anticipated, and when
he shut it down, it created a cascading power surge that threw
every circuit breaker in every grid. Being the light sleeper
that he was, Scott had subconsciously sensed the lack of
background noise when the power shut down and that's what had
triggered the nightmare.
remained embarrassed and subdued, his stutter more pronounced
during the explanation. It took the rest of the day for us to
reassure him that what had occurred was not his fault and that
none of us held any ill will. Finally, after dinner and over
one of Grandma's pumpkin pies, Brains began to outline some
ideas to keep the incident from happening again.
As to the
hearse in the pool, to no one's surprise, that had been one of
Gordon's practical jokes that he'd cooked up for Halloween, a
holiday most of us had forgotten in the events of the day. And
the broken coffee mug on the patio? That had been Scott's,
dropped in shock when he saw the huge black car in the pool.