Scott and Virgil wake up one morning and find Tracy Villa deserted. Could it be because it's Halloween..?

Written for the 2004 TIWF FicSwap Challenge.

My brother 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.

But my brother is only human, and just like the rest of us, he occasionally has an off day.

Like he had on the last day of October.

The 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.

Did I 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.

He stood 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.

Once he 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 disappeared.

Then he 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!"

Scott 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."

The apparent non-sequitur deflected whatever retort I'd been trying to formulate. "A what?"

Without 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.

I gathered 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..."

A few 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.

The loss 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 development.

The best 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.

Usually, a 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.

As we 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.

In the 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.

Scott 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.

We were 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.

I swallowed several times before I could make my voice work. "What the hell was that?" I finally got out in a whisper.

Scott 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."

The eerie sounds repeated, but now it sounded familiar...

We turned, 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. "That you?"

The 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.

With the 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.

Later, we 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.

Brains 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.

<< Back to RL Bird's Page
<< Back to Thunderbird Two's Hangar