Justice, Unfinished Business, To Help - Dizzy Dolphin

 

 

Started as a short Halloween story, then just kept going.

 

Warning for violence and some gore, but neither excessively described.

 

 

 

What do you mean you need to borrow Captain Crane? Why him? You have lots of full-time agents, use one of them. Admiral Nelson bellowed over the vid phone at Admiral Jones of ONI.

 

Jones sighed to himself, ever since a rather explosive meeting with Nelson awhile back, hed tried to stay away from using Crane. He didnt need another broken nose.1

 

Look Nelson, you know ONI has the authority to use Crane, it was part of the deal when the Navy released him to you. He doesnt object to taking assignments for us. Im just honouring your request that I tell you first. I dont understand why we have to go through this conversation every damn time!

 

We go through it every damn time because when I get my Captain back its usually 2 weeks to 2 months before hes healed up enough to resume duties here. Hell it can be that long before you even find him after youve sent him out, Nelson fumed at Jones.

 

This isnt one of those types of missions, and we do not lose him nor are we responsible for the fact that he occasionally gets in the way of bullets, knives or bombs. Its uncanny the way he can ferret out the hot spots and get inside of them. The places hes been and the things hes done, its amazing that hes still alive.

 

In retrospect Jones realized that was probably not the best comment to have made.

 

And I intend to keep him alive, Jones, despite you and frequently him. If you want my Captain I need a whole lot more information about the mission to judge its danger level to him.

 

You dont get to judge anything. If you arent using him hes ours for the asking. Like I said before, this is a courtesy call, not a mother may I.

 

Well hes busy here, I am using him, as you put it.

 

Bullshit Nelson. Seaview isnt going out again for a month, theres no reason we cant have Crane.

 

He has other duties here at the Institute when Seaview is docked.

 

Yes, I know. Someone else can push the paper around his desk for him, this is more important.

 

Nelson glared at the screen, he had a feeling he wasnt going to win this one.

 

*****

 

Chip sat on the edge of Lees bunk on the Vanora2, and watched him stuff various items into a duffel bag. He took some comfort in the fact that he didnt see Lees black ops clothes going in.

 

Lee had been trying to reassure him that there wasnt anything to worry about this time. Not that he doesnt tell me that every time.

 

A simple meet and greet, Chip. Honest. No flying bullets, knives or bombs, nothing to worry about.

 

Youll manage to dig up some sort of trouble to get yourself into, you always do.

 

Lee sighed. Look, only normal clothes, not even packing a weapon. Piece of cake assignment.

 

They dont send a top agent out for cake. If you arent taking a weapon that just means that its been arranged to stock you up wherever youre headed.

 

Lee couldnt very well deny that, he knew there would be a Glock waiting for him, or possibly a Walther PPK/E. Even though either of the handguns were relatively easy to conceal it could be quite awkward if he had to try to explain having a gun to airport or border security.

 

While tucking the last item into his bag he paused and looked over rather speculatively at Chip.

 

What? Why are you looking at me that way?

 

Hmm, it is an easy assignment; I am allowed some discretion as to how I want to handle it. Could really piss off both of the Admirals though, oh well, nothing like living dangerously!

 

Tell you what Chip, if you want to, and if you can pack fast enough, you can come with me.

 

I can! You mean it?

 

Yes I mean it. Two friends going to the Fair will be less conspicuous than me wandering around on my own.

 

Fair, what Fair?

 

Ill fill you in on the way, that is if youre coming.

 

Hell yes Im coming! Someone has to watch your back.

 

Lee shook his head and rolled his eyes as he picked up his bag.

 

Fine, lets get to your place, there isnt much time before we need to be at the airport and I still have to get you a ticket.

 

*****

 

What do you mean no one can find Mr. Morton? I realize hes on leave but he cant be that far away. Nelson grumbled at his admin assistant, Angie. When Lee was off on an ONI assignment Nelson frequently liked to talk to Chip about this or that, right now he didnt care if Chip was on leave or not. He always felt closer to an absent Lee when Chip was around. At least Chip was someone who worried about Lee the same as he did, not to mention that occasionally Chip would hear from Lee first.

 

Angie squared her shoulders. He gets as grumpy as a bear with a sore paw when Lees away. Well Sir, apparently Mr. Morton left word that he would be out of contact for awhile. Seems for about the same period of time that Captain Crane is, ah, busy. Duck and cover time.

 

Nelson frowned, HUH, thats suspicious. He wouldnt be.....nah.....would he? Lee wouldnt....would he?

 

Angie, get me Admiral Jones on the line, NOW!

 

Right away, Sir.

 

*****

 

Chip had been surprised when Lee told him where they were going. Hed accused Lee of using the yacht race3 hed invited the Admiral and himself to crew in a few months back as a cover to prepare for the mission, but Lee had insisted that it was a total coincidence.

 

Well mostly, I knew that Todd was on assignment in the area but it didnt have anything to do with me, at the time.

 

Honest Chip, I think that Admiral Jones just decided to send me because Id been up here and knew the area. Todd and I have worked together before so it just made sense.

 

*****

 

They travelled to Vancouver Island by a different route than when they were there in the yacht race. Instead of the ferry from Port Angeles to Victoria Harbour, they flew into Lynden, Washington and picked up a coal black Jeep Liberty that was waiting for them.

 

Nice ride Lee, we going off road?

 

Not that I know of, but it looks like we could if called for. Mostly I think they gave us this to blend in; there are a lot of them around the area.

 

There seems to be some stuff in the back already. Chip reached back and took a couple of Western hats out of a bag, one black, one brown. He tossed Lee the black one, Yeehaa pardner.

 

I dont think they really talk like that, Chip.

 

Chip grinned at him then pulled the brim of his hat down over his eyes and reclined his seat. Let me know when we get there.

 

O no you dont. Lee pushed a button on the console and Chips seat sprang back into the upright position.

 

Hey, 007, warn a guy before you hit eject will ya!

 

I dont believe he ever has.

 

The two of them bantered back and forth about various Bond movies during the 30 minute drive to the Peace Arch border-crossing into Canada. From there they drove to the Ferry terminal and caught the Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay ferry and 1 hour 35 minutes and 24 nautical miles later, they arrived at the Swartz Bay terminal. A short drive from there brought them to their lodging for the next few days.

 

Chip threw his bag down on the bed at the motel.

 

So when do we meet Todd?

 

We dont. Hes only expecting me and I dont want to spring you on him without warning. The Fall Fair starts tomorrow, the meet is set up to happen there.

 

Youre not going without me, Lee. Thats the whole reason I came.

 

Dont worry Chip, you can come to the Fair, Ill even buy you some cotton candy and take you on a ride or two.

 

Chip lobbed a pillow from one of the beds at Lee, Smart ass, you know what I mean.

 

Todd likely wont show himself if he thinks I have a tail. Ill park you someplace inconspicuous until I can explain things to Todd, then you can join us.

 

OK, but the parking spot had better be where I can keep an eye on you.

 

Lee figured hed be able to conceal Chip in the crowd somewhere, although Todd had a bit of a 6th sense when it came to being watched.

 

Ill do my best, in the meantime Im hungry and I dont need to ask if you are. Im told that the Prairie Inn has the best food around here. What say I buy you their Belly Buster Burger?

 

Sound like a good starter.

 

As they were about to leave Lee reached under the mattress of one of the beds, and pulled out a Glock and shoulder holster. He motioned for Chip to check under the other mattress, where he found a Walther PPK/E and shoulder holster.

 

This place has a hell of a maid service, Lee. Howd they know which room to leave these in?

 

Trade secret, you ok with that one or do you want to switch?

 

Oh, I think Ill be just fine with the 007 model, Chip smirked.

 

The men pulled their jackets on and headed for their vehicle.

 

You know its not exactly the same model as James, Chip.

 

Close enough Lee, close enough.

 

*****

 

Angie could hear Admiral Nelson quite clearly from her desk, she suspected she wouldnt have had any trouble hearing him from halfway down the hallway.

 

He did what? On whose authority?

 

Jones wasnt sure if Nelson was referring to Crane or Morton.

 

As I said Nelson, Morton went with Crane on the assignment. I gather it was a bit last minute, but Crane can choose to take someone with him if he feels its required. I havent got all the particulars; well both have to wait until they get back to find out the details.

 

It would have been nice to have been informed that you were taking my XO as well as my Captain.

 

Youre not listening Nelson. I didnt know about it until they were flying out, a memo came across my desk that Crane had requested and received a second ticket for the flight, for Morton. I gather Morton is on leave so can go where he likes.

 

Jones couldnt figure out why Crane took Morton with him. The mission was nothing that would have required a backup, and if it did, Crane should have requested a trained agent. Crane can be damned annoying, but he knows what hes doing, damn fine agent. Guess he had his reasons, theyd better be damn good ones.

 

Given the situation Jones, I think youd better tell me where my men are and what they are doing. Dont bother arguing with me, if I have to, Ill fly to Washington, and we can discuss it, face to fist.

 

Jones thought about the last time hed met with Nelson and quickly decided that there was really no reason not to fill Nelson in. Hell, if Nelson wants to follow after them he can, Crane can just jolly well deal with the consequences of his actions himself.

 

*****

 

Weve been waiting a long time, wonder when this Todd guy is going to show up.

 

Chip felt someone bump against him not that that was anything unusual in the crowd, but he also felt something hard and pointed pressing into his lower back. A voice whispered in his ear. Dont move a muscle. You seem awful interested in that fellow on the other side of the ring. I cant help wondering why.

 

Chip gulped. Dont know what you mean, Im just watching the draft horse teams.

 

Un huh, sure you are, tell you what, were just going to move nice and slow over to the side here, then over to the exit gate.

 

Chip couldnt think of a move he could make at the moment, anything he did would end up with the knife shoved deep into his back. He had lost sight of Lee shortly after the man behind him had made his presence known. He scanned the crowd on the opposite side of the ring hoping to see Lee and that Lee would see that he was in trouble. He couldnt spot him anywhere.

 

Just as he was about to do as hed been instructed the knife was gone and he heard the man behind him give a surprised low grunt of pain.

 

Chip heard Lees very welcome voice. Youre slipping Todd, used to be I couldnt come up behind you like this. I see youve met my very good friend, Chip.

 

Chip took a step forward and turned around. Lee had his arm around the mans neck, in what could have been a playful greeting, except Chip could see the tightly bunched muscles in Lees arm, he also noted that Lee held the other mans right wrist, bent inward between them, concealing what the man was holding in his hand.

 

Lee spoke again in a friendly tone, So, we all good here Todd?

 

You vouch for him?

Like I said, hed my very good friend.

 

Ok, then, were good.

 

Lee released Todd who quickly flipped the switchblade closed and pocketed it. Then he swung his left arm around Lees neck, pulled him down, and messed his hair with his right hand, Youve been practising, bucko!

 

Well it wasnt really that hard with all the people milling around. I was hoping to talk to you before you and Chip met, should have known better. In any case, Todd, Chip, Chip, Todd.

 

They shook hands, each taking the measure of the other and decided that despite the unconventional first meeting, they liked each other. Todd was older than both Lee and Chip, his hair brown, speckled liberally with white, his face deeply lined around the eyes and mouth and well tanned.

 

Todd gestured to his left, Lets find us some space. The three men moved off together. As they walked, Todd asked Chip how long hed known Lee.

 

Off and on for a number of years, but the last five.... Todd gave Chip a quick elbow to the diaphragm.

 

What the Hell! Chip gasped and glared at Todd, barely suppressing his urge to punch him.

 

Todd looked over at Lee, who was shaking his head, and trying hard not to laugh.

 

I take it, Lee, that this pup isnt, ah, trained yet?

 

Not in the way you mean, Todd.

 

Lee moved between Todd and Chip and curled an arm around each of their necks and the three continued walking.

 

Chip, Todd was just stopping you from saying what weve been doing the last few years. Certain words could cause certain ears to prick up if theres anyone cruising the crowds looking for us. So, no references to anything that could identify us with specific people, places or activities.

 

Chip looked a little chagrined, he hadnt thought about that. Right, got it. Although, Todd, I think you could have picked a better way to shut me up than elbowing me in the gut.

 

Worked didnt it? Todd grinned at him.

 

Dont feel bad Chip. Ive learned a lot from Todd over the years, and he used the same method. Believe me; he never has to make the same point twice.

 

Chip had absolutely no problem believing Lee.

 

They headed over to the larger of the horse show rings and climbed up to the top of one of the bleachers.

 

Always can count on having a bit of privacy up here, most of the folks arent willing to climb up to the top.

 

They had the top row to themselves and between the announcer, the horse noises and the person hollering at the riders in the warm-up ring to get ready for their class, whom Chip learned was called the whipper in, the three men could say what they needed to say without worrying about been overheard.

 

Their conversation might not be overheard but they could be seen, especially by the man standing at the corner of one of the barns behind the bleacher, and the one much further away with a telephoto camera. He took one shot of all three men, then close-ups of each of them.

 

Todd pointed to one of the horses entering the ring, Will you look at that, must be 17 hands and just a little kid on him. Pretty gutsy.

 

Looks like a draft cross, maybe with a Quarter Horse. This is an open show so lots of variety.

 

Chip looked at the horse and rider. Yeah, its a big horse and a little kid, no clue how they can tell what kind of horse. They all look the same to me, head, tail and four legs.

 

What do you think, Chip? Lee asked his friend.

 

I think the kid had better not fall off.

 

Both Todd and Lee laughed. Im sure hell try hard not to. Lee responded.

 

After a few more general comments about the horses and their riders, Lee brought the conversation around to the matter at hand.

 

So whats got you hanging out here, Todd?

 

Oh a little of this and a little of that, and right now a whole lot of nothing.

 

Lee continued to watch the horses in the ring while they talked, Thats too bad, I was sort of hoping youd have something for me.

 

That was the plan, seems things are a little tight right now so cant give you what I owe you.

 

You going to need a little help?

 

Naw, Ill work things out, if you dont mind waiting a bit.

 

How long we talking?

 

Maybe a month or two.

 

I see, well Chip and I cant hang around here that long, have to come back later. Got a date in mind?

 

Ill get back to you on that, probably end of October.

 

Lee nodded his head.

 

The three watched the horse show for a bit more then climbed down.

 

Sounds like the country band is getting revved up, lets head over to the stage and have a listen. Todd nudged Lee, Who knows, maybe you two can pick up a couple of dates for the rest of the Fair.

 

Lee chuckled at the suggestion, Chip was thinking that things were looking up. Hed seen plenty of pretty girls go by, and more than one of them had given Lee the once over. His friends tall, lean, muscular form was attired in a pair of tight fitting distressed jeans, a snazzy shirt featuring narrow stripes of white, alternating between wider multi-toned blue and multi-toned orange stripes, the first three buttons down the front were open, and the sleeves were cuffed back to mid arm. That, plus his black cowboy hat and leather boots, and it wasnt surprising the female heads turned. Doesnt really matter what he wears, hes a chick magnet.

 

Chip was oblivious to the fact that an equal number of females were checking him out as they passed. He was dressed in butt hugging distressed jeans, a blue and white chequered shirt, open partway down the front like Lees, a tan cowboy hat, and leather boots. Add to that his blond hair, blue eyes and solid muscular build, and you had another male that would never be overlooked by the female population.

 

The band turned out to be pretty good and when they started Boot Scoot Boogie a couple of young women tried to get Lee and Chip to join them in a line dance. Todd gave both of the men a shove. Dont be so bashful you two, go.

 

Chip wasnt sure of the steps but the women on each side of him were more than happy to show him what to do. He looked over to where Lee was, When and where did he learn to line dance! Lee was doing just fine with the steps and by the end of the song Chip had the hang of it too. They headed back to where they had left Todd but there was no sign of him. Lee didnt appear surprised.

 

Lee, youre not worried that something has happened to him?

 

No, I was a bit surprised that he hung around as long as he did.

 

The two men each suddenly felt a firm hand grip one of their shoulders. They turned and came face to face with Admiral Nelson. He was wearing a slightly worn farmers straw hat, green chequered shirt, and jean overalls.

 

Lee nodded to Nelson, Wondered how long it would be before you came over. I spotted you in the crowd a while back.

 

Nelson understood why Lee didnt end the comment with a formal Sir or Admiral.

 

Chip, who had had no idea that Nelson was there, almost blurted out Admiral Nelson when he turned and saw him, but the memory of Todds elbow was a lesson well learned.

 

Nice to see the two of you, bit of a surprise though, finding you both here.

 

Lee and Chip had no trouble understanding the subtext of the comment.

 

Are you about finished here? He noticed Chip sending Lee a sideways look; he had to cover his smile with a fake cough.

 

Were done with the essentials I guess. Lee answered him, looking down and shuffling his feet a bit.

 

I take it you still had plans though. Let them sweat a bit, Nelson grinned to himself.

 

Sort of.

 

Nelson watched Chip squirm at Lees side, obviously hoping that Lee was going to work this out.

 

Oh go on with you. I can see those two young ladies waiting for you!

 

Chip didnt need any more encouragement than that, he grabbed Lees arm and starting tugging him towards the two women, the same ones that had pulled them into the line dance earlier. They had been standing together whispering to each other and throwing looks and smiles at the two men. Looks Nelson had obviously noticed.

 

As they reached the women, they heard Nelson call after them, Just dont be too late getting home, Ill be waiting!

 

Lee and Chip looked back and replied together with a smile, Yes sir.

 

The two women, whose names were Sandra and Jennifer, giggled, and Jennifer asked, Is that your Dad?

 

Lee and Chip shared a glance and with a big grin answered, Yep, darned strict too!

 

The foursome headed over to the ticket booth for the carnival rides.

 

Their dates proved to be just as interested as they were in going on the more challenging rides.

 

After riding the Hellevator4, Revelation, Drop Zone, Corkscrew and finally the Atmosfear they tried some of the games. Lee won a huge stuffed giraffe for his date fairly quickly, Chip was having some trouble with the games. When Sandra and Jennifer left briefly to use the facilities, Lee motioned for Chip to follow him over to a relatively quiet area.

 

OK, Chip heres how you win. The games are rigged, sort of. For the Balloon Dart Throw, the balloons are under inflated and the dart tips are dulled, so throw them as hard as you can with an arc. Dont aim for the middle balloons, most people do that so the better prize tags are under the balloons on the outside edges. On the Basket Toss, throw the softball gently and put on some backspin, aim for the inside upper lip of the basket. For Basketball Free Throw, the ball is over-inflated, the hoop is smaller than regulation size and slightly oval. The backboard is plywood making it extra bouncy, dont try to rebound it, you need to do a perfect swish. Milk Bottle Throw, the bottles are leaded, super heavy. Dont go for the middle, take out the bottom two. Climb the Ladder and Ring the Bell, push your feet against the ropes between the rungs, dont climb directly on the rungs themselves, pull yourself up with your arms.

 

All through Lees rushed instructions, Chip was looking at him with his mouth slightly agape.

 

Where on earth did you pick all that up Lee?

 

Long story, look here come the gals back.

 

Keeping in mind Lees advice, Chip quickly racked up some impressive wins at the games and some suspicious glares from the operators. At the last game the carny5 kept staring at Lee.

 

Hey bud, dont I know you from somewhere? Werent you a flyer6 with.....

 

Nope, you gonna give my friend his prize or not?

 

Yeesh, chill, have to score it first. The carny tried to do a fast count7 on Chip but Lee was on to him.

 

Oh no you dont Gazoonie8, he high scored.

 

Who you calling names?

 

You dont really want to start a clem9 do you? Give him his prize.

 

The carny muttered something under his breath but gave Chip his choice of the high score prizes.

 

Wow, you really know how to talk to these guys, Lee, observed Jennifer.

 

Want to tell us how that is, Lee? Chip asked as he handed Sandra the giant stuffed seahorse.

 

I think we should blow this place and head into town for dinner. Lee neatly avoided answering Chips question.

 

It was after midnight before the two returned to the motel. They didnt know which room the Admiral was in, or if they were expected to check in with him. There was only one room with a light on when they pulled up. The light went out as they climbed up the stairs to their room.

 

*****

 

Two months later word had come through to ONI that Todd had requested another meet with Lee. Admiral Jones hoped that this one would be more successful than the last time. Now to tell Nelson that Im taking his Captain again. Wouldnt you know it, they just have to be at sea.

 

Admiral, Sparks here, I have a top level call for you from Admiral Jones, he requests Captain Crane be present as well.

 

Nelson punched the button on the com unit on his desk. Thank you Sparks, Ill take it here, in my cabin. He double clicked the unit to open a channel to the Control Room. Nelson to Control Room.

 

Aye Sir, Morton here.

 

Chip would you have Lee come to my cabin please.

 

Yes, Sir. Hes already on his way.

 

Fine, Nelson out.

 

It didnt come as any surprise to the Admiral that he barely had time to close the com link than he heard Lees knock.

 

Come.

 

Lee entered and was about to sit in the chair in front of Nelsons desk when the Admiral motioned for him to bring the chair around to sit beside him.

 

I dont imagine you need to be told whos on the line.

 

No Sir, Ive been expecting the call any day now.

 

Nelson harrumphed and hit the button to open the call on the monitor. Admiral Jones appeared on the screen, looking a little miffed, he didnt like being kept waiting.

 

Nelson didnt wait for Jones to begin. Ok, when do you want him and for how long?

 

Well this is going better than I thought it would. Jones thought.

 

A Seahawk chopper will rendezvous with you in two days to get him. He shouldnt be gone longer than 3-4 days.

 

You mean the chopper will be here to get them.

 

Them?, both Jones and Crane echoed.

 

Mr. Morton went with Captain Crane the first time; I want him along this time as well.

 

Lee beat Jones to the protest, Sir thats not necessary, I dont....

 

Nelson cut Lee off, I wasnt asking your permission Captain, and before you start Jones, Im not asking yours either. If you want Captain Crane, you get Mr. Morton as well.

 

You might want to rethink that Nelson, this isnt quite the simple meet the last one was.

 

In that case I most definitely want Mr. Morton with Captain Crane. Nelson glared at Jones through the screen. Jones couldnt see it but Nelson had also gripped Lees knee giving it a firm squeeze to warn Lee to keep quiet, he wasnt going to change his mind and he wouldnt appreciate Lee arguing with him in front of Jones.

 

Jones was obviously not happy but appeared to accept the condition. Fine, have it your way Nelson. I need to talk to Crane now; you might as well stay where you are to save me repeating it all to you later.

 

Appears the man is learning. Nelson smiled to himself.

 

Captain Crane.

 

Yes, Sir.

 

Nelson moved his chair back so that Lee could centre himself in front of the screen.

 

As you heard, you...and Morton will be airlifted from Seaview Sunday, October 30th. Youll be transferred to a commercial flight for Victoria, there will be a vehicle waiting for you at the Victoria airport. The usual accoutrements will be concealed in the back. This is where things get a little odd.

 

Nelson leaned forward in his chair.

 

You are to go to Galey Farms Festival of Fear that night and go into 3 attractions, in the following order: Cornfield of Horror, Madam Isabellas sance and Carnevil. You will be contacted with further instructions at one of those. Any questions?

 

No, Sir. Lee answered, At least not that Im asking you. This is not how Todd typically sets up a meet, something is up.

 

Good, Jones out.

 

Nelson noted, with amusement, that he hadnt been asked if he had any questions.

 

Lee looked at Nelson, So, does Chip know anything about coming with me?

 

Not yet, but I dont anticipate hell balk at the idea.

 

Have you thought about the fact that both your Captain and the XO will be off the sub while shes out on a mission?

 

Are you implying that I cant handle my own boat on a simple charting mission, a boat that I designed and oversaw the building of, Captain?

 

Lee looked a little uncomfortable, No Sir, Id just feel better if Chip were here with you.

 

More importantly Lee, Ill feel better knowing hes with you.

*****

 

Chip was in the radio shack, hed been talking to Sparks about a proposed improvement to the equipment when he happened to look up in time to see Lee striding through the Control Room. His blue eyes met Lees golden, green flecked ones, he had just opened his mouth to say something to Lee when Lee barked an order at him.

 

Mr. Morton, with me, now. Lee kept walking.

 

Aye, aye Sir. Mr. OBrien you have the con. The Captain and I will be... Chip realized he didnt know where Lee was taking him.

 

In my cabin, Mr. OBrien. Lee supplied as he headed up the forward ladder. Chip had to move smartly to catch up with him.

 

Once they were inside his cabin Lee gave an exasperated sigh, running his hand through his hair and rubbing at his temple, all signs that he was unhappy and stressed about something. Chip knew those signs well.

 

Not a pleasant meeting?

 

The meeting was ok, at least no one was yelling this time. Todd is ready to meet again.

 

So were here in your cabin because.....

 

According to the Admiral, I need a babysitter. He insists you come with me.

 

Chip was a bit surprised; he wanted to go with Lee, had been trying to figure out how to get invited along again but hadnt expected Nelson to insist on it. I really dont think the Admiral would have called it babysitting.

 

Lee is that what the Admiral actually said?

 

About you coming with me, yes. He didnt exactly call it babysitting.

 

So whats the problem, you suddenly tired of my company?

 

Lee started to pace, another bad sign.

 

Chip the meet just doesnt feel right, theres something wrong. Either Todds in trouble or he suspects hes about to be. Lee hadnt shared his misgivings with the Admiral, he didnt want to worry him.

 

All the more reason you shouldnt go alone. Todd and I have met; he wont be surprised to see me with you. I can be useful you know.

 

Ya I know, sometimes.

 

Excuse me, sometimes?

 

Lee was grinning as his XO stalked towards him, along the way grabbing a pillow from the bunk...

 

As Nelson strode along the corridor and passed Lees cabin, he heard a loud thump against the cabin door, followed by the sound of something or someone landing on the floor. He paused to listen.

 

Get off me.

 

Not till you admit that Im always useful.

 

There was another thud and then the sound of someone landing heavily on the cabins bunk.

 

Ah, appears a little stress reduction therapy is taking place. He might not have told me that he was worried about something, but I could tell. Seems Chip is dealing with it. Whistling quietly to himself Nelson continued down the corridor.

 

*****

 

Nelson watched from the Sail as Lee and Chip were hoisted aboard the Seahawk from Seaviews deck. Lee still hadnt said anything to him about what was bothering him about the mission.

 

At least he has Chip with him, with them looking out for each other maybe I have a chance of getting them both back in one piece.

 

*****

 

The trip back to Victoria was uneventful, they checked into a Motor Inn in Sidney. This time, rather than retrieving guns from under the mattresses they removed them from the hidden compartment in the Jeep, it was the same Jeep model and colour as the one they had last time.

 

Chip hooked their laptop up to the station in their room. He tapped out a quick message to Seaview, Ghost Rider and Phantom Boy have arrived.

 

Last time I let you pick code names, Morton.

 

Aw come on Lee, its Halloween, well almost, theyre perfect.

 

We dont need to get to the farm until 2100, want to do anything until then?

 

Eat, Im hungry.

 

When are you not! Id recommend you go light, we dont know how much activity might be involved tonight.

 

Lee seldom ate much on missions, between the adrenalin and the need to be at his sharpest he wanted his blood in his brain, not his stomach. Still, Chip managed to nag him into having a salad and coffee.

 

*****

 

They pulled into the farms parking lot and managed to find a spot even though the place was packed. As they approached the ticket shed, they noticed that there were men scattered here and there with jackets that had the word Security emblazoned on them. Two of them were patting down a couple of teenage boys. This could be a problem, if they check us theyll find the guns.

 

Lee?

 

Try to look innocent. Lee replied in a low voice.

 

Right, cause that always works.

 

They purchased their tickets and headed towards the entrance for the Cornfield of Horror. As they passed the two security men who had checked the teens out Lee paused.

 

Having any trouble tonight, noticed you checking out two boys?

 

Way not to draw attention to us Lee.

 

The guards smiled, the one Lee had looked at when he spoke, answered him, No, no problems but we always randomly check the teens for firecrackers or sacred herbs, keeps em honest. You two enjoy your evening.

 

Thanks, we plan to.

 

Lee saw Chip giving him a puzzled look.

 

Sometimes, Chip, the best way to not draw attention to yourself, is to go say Hi. Obviously we arent hiding anything, or we wouldnt have approached them. As a bonus we learned that they are checking the teens, not the adults.

 

Uh Huh, Chip responded, rather dubiously.

 

They could hear shouts and screams coming from the corn maze as they approached. The ticket takers wore black robes, skeleton masks and gloves. As they took Lee and Chips tickets one of them whispered, Beware the hollow men! Shape without form, shade without colour...

 

Ah, ya sure, ok, thanks, Chip muttered back.

 

They stood for a minute looking at the maze; there were a number of entrances.

 

Lee, did you hear what that...whatever, said?

 

Uh huh, from a T.S. Elliot poem called The Hollow Men.

 

So that wasnt some kind of message to us?

 

Not that I know of, but keep an eye out for hollow men, just in case.

 

Sure, funny Lee, very funny.

 

Lee threw Chip a grin and shrugged his shoulders. Pick an entrance buddy, Ill just follow along behind you. That way you can be first to find anything that goes boo.

 

Chip wasnt sure he wanted Lee behind him, lord only knew what stunt Lee might pull.

 

He watched a young couple go dashing past one of the entrances and decided that it was as good a one as any to enter the maze.

 

There had been dim lighting at the entrance, but in the maze the only light was from the nearly full moon, which sporadically disappeared as clouds scudded across it.

 

The pathways were trampled cornstalks, somewhat slippery, as they were damp from the recent rain. The mazes cornstalk walls rose at least 8 feet high. People of all ages intermittently ran past them, some going their way, some the other way.

 

Lee isnt there some sort of trick to get through a maze?

 

Dont know if its a trick but there are various methods, marking, string, left-hand10 etc. I think the glow sticks weve seen tied here and there to a stalk is someone trying to mark their path. I suspect well do just fine with the Random Wandering Around method. The maze isnt designed to be difficult to get through.

 

It was taking a little longer than Lee thought it would to find the other side and at one point he and Chip got separated when a crowd of kids ran into them at a cross-point and they each ended up going different directions in the confusion.

 

Where the hell is Lee, he was right beside me when that pack of kids ploughed into us. I dont want to start hollering his name, dead giveaway, unless....

 

Lee cringed when he heard Chips call.

 

Hey, Phantom Boy, were did you get lost to?

Im so going to kick Ghost Riders butt when we get back to Seaview.

 

Chip was just going to call again when he felt a hand close over his mouth. He twisted in response and lost his footing on the slippery stalks, landing hard on his backside. He looked up and saw Lee standing in front of him with his hands on his hips.

 

You called oh nimble footed one?

 

Lee gave him a hand up. Mind keeping the noise down.

 

I didnt know what had happened to you, besides everyone is yelling and screaming, one more isnt going to matter.

 

Lee knew Chip was right, but it was the principle of the thing.

 

Fine, follow me. Lee turned back the way he had come.

Whats wrong with my direction?

 

Nothing if you want to keep wandering around. I spotted the exit down this path.

 

In a few short minutes they came out into the Ghost Town. They saw another corn maze on the other side. Theyd arrived at the centre. There was a bridge of sorts in the town. Climbing up it they had a view of the maze theyd just come through and the second half. Lee made a mental note of the quickest way through it. There was a graveyard at its exit point.

 

They took a quick wander through the Ghost Town; there were vampires, witches, ghouls and blood aplenty.

 

They both jumped when looking into the butcher shop as a huge axe chopped down with a thunderous thwack, hitting the wall just above their heads.

 

Taking a few steps back and a good look they spotted a guy-wire running from the corner of the butcher shop to the haunted mansion across the street, theyd already gone through it. They watched as some new people examined the butcher shop they saw the ghoul at the entrance to the mansion pull a lever and the axe, which had retracted up the wire, shot forward again and a board slapped against another one creating the exaggerated sound effect. The people jumped back, and giggling, ran off to the next display. The ghoul gave Lee and Chip a nod and placed a finger to his lips.

 

The two sent him a nod in return, theyd keep the secret. Something caught their eye as they walked down the lane to get to the entrance of the next half of the maze. Looking up they saw a billowing ghost floating high above their heads, crossing the lane.

 

Hey Lee, why did the ghost cross the road?

 

Im going to regret this, ok why?

 

To get to THE OTHER SIDE. What kind of street does a ghost like best?

 

I give up.

 

A dead end.

 

Youd better start running Morton.

 

Chip sprinted to the maze entrance with Lee in hot pursuit, both of them laughing.

 

They made much better time through the second half of the maze. As they moved through it, they could hear soft singing in the distance, the voices of children:

 

One, two, Freddy's coming for you.

Three, four, better lock your door.

Five, six, grab your crucifix.

Seven, eight, gotta stay up late.

Nine, ten, never sleep again.11

 

The song floated eerily over the corn stalks and gave both men the shivers.

 

They soon came out at the wire-fenced graveyard. Lee thought he spotted some motion behind a broken down mausoleum and pressed up against the fencing trying to get a better look. As he was concentrating, there was a whoosh as a decaying corpse suddenly flew up out of the ground to stare him right in the face. He jumped back and bumped into Chip who once again found himself on his butt on the ground.

 

Geesh Lee, I thought your nerves were better than that.

 

The people standing to the side snickered at the comment.

 

Ya, well next time you can get up close and personal with whatever.

 

Lee again helped Chip up. They looked over the rest of the graveyard, keeping a safe distance back from the fence. Numerous other things popped into existence but neither Lee nor Chip was taken unawares again.

 

To get to Madam Isabellas they had to go back they way they had come but this time they skirted the maze.

 

Inside the sance room was a round table and 4 chairs. Something was in the middle of the table, concealed under a cloth. Lee and Chip sat beside each other; there was a mother and her young teenage daughter at the table with them.

 

They listened to the instructions from the operator, Do not leave your chairs no matter what happens, you are only safe as long as you remain seated. Take each others hand, and do not let go. The man then closed the door to the room with a resounding thunk.

 

Lee thought hed leave out the hand holding part but the girl grabbed his hand and her mothers, the mother had taken hold of Chips left hand so Lee shrugged and took hold of his other hand. Chip ducked his head, trying to conceal his smirk.

 

The girl looked at her mother, Theres really nothing to be afraid of right Mom, its all just fake?

 

Lee could tell she was nervous, the mother looked a little uncertain as well.

 

He was about to reassure both of them when the lights started to flicker and went out. The table began to vibrate, suddenly the cover in the middle flew off revealing a garishly lit plastic dome containing a cadaverous, swivelling female head with bulging eyes and wearing a grey turban with a silver pentagon pin attached to the front of it.

 

Hellooo Madam Isabella, Chip murmured with a grin.

 

The head stopped swivelling and started to shriek, They are coming, they are coming. She continued on with a tale of murder most foul and restless spirits. Madam Isabellas story came to its end and she fell silent, the dome went dark. Suddenly the pictures in the room started to bang rapidly against the walls making an incredible racket. The girl started to whimper. The room was now bathed in red light.

 

Its just a lot of noise, theres nothing to worry about. Lee tried to console her.

 

Oh my god, look, the mother yelled.

 

One of the marble busts in the room had started to spin, it elongated into the form of a woman and stilled. The pictures stopped their banging.

 

Im guessing the deceased lady of the house. Like to know how they did that. Lee wondered to himself.

 

Chip nudged him and he looked over his shoulder and saw that there was now a similar figure forming behind him, but this one was male.

 

The girl starting saying that she wanted to leave but kept a tight hold on his hand.

 

The figures began to speak, how their time together had been cruelly cut short, that they were doomed to forever wander in spirit form. Lee didnt catch the rest of it, the girl had climbed up onto her chair claiming that something under the table was trying to grab her. Lee hadnt felt anything but there was fog coming up out of the floor. He looked at Chip, who shrugged.

 

The red lighting went out, the normal lights began flickering and the pictures resumed their banging, that settled the girl back in her chair.

 

Then it was over. Apparently none too soon for the mother and daughter who hastily departed as soon as the door opened.

 

Lee, did you get any sort of message out of all that.

 

He shook his head no and the two of them left.

 

They were down to the last venue, Carnevil. If Todd didnt contact them here then either theyd missed his message somewhere along the way, or Todd hadnt made it to the farm.

 

*****

 

Lee felt like an idiot, this was the second wall hed walked into. Should have brought night vision goggles. He swatted at something that he felt dangling around his head, then it was gone. Hed either walked into something suspended above him or something had been dropped down and pulled up again.

 

He wasnt the only one having his moments in Carnevil. He chuckled at the memory of Chips reaction to the gigantic striking cobra, mouth spread wide, fangs glistening and dripping with venom. It had reared up and out of a suddenly lit up alcove. Lee had quickly sidestepped as Chip leapt back, smacking himself into a wall, which had a concealed drop window that opened allowing a ghoul to pop out, shrieking and reaching boney, flailing arms out to grab Chip. That was why he was now in the lead instead of Chip. Turns out Chip didnt much like snakes or surprises in walls. Lee had a feeling that his friend had been one second away from pulling out his gun and shooting both of the things to pieces. He recalled that hed been one step away from taking the head off the gruesome clown that had jumped out at them earlier. He didnt like regular clowns, much less those covered in fake blood and swinging bloody knives at him.

 

Fine pair of agents we are, stumbling around in the dark, scared by a few monsters that arent even real. Of course part of the damned problem is that if someone did want to kill us, this would be a great place to do it. By the time we realised the attack was for real probably be too late.

 

They paused in one section; the dancing skeletons in the pit were actually quite beautiful under the ultraviolet light. Not to mention that Lee found Chips hair colour to be quite interesting.

 

As they moved out of that area, the dark column at the end suddenly morphed into a zombie who grabbed Lee. Lee was about to throw him when a voice he recognized growled into his ear, Inside Glamorgans Last Stand, 2200 tomorrow. The spook then pushed Lee away. Chip reached out to steady him, You ok Lee? What was that about?

 

Later Chip.

 

Just then, as they passed a door, a white robed and blood spattered figure ran out brandishing a chainsaw, apparently intent on cutting them into bits and pieces. They dashed through the door in front of them, which turned out to be the exit.

 

Well that was fun but not what we came for. I hope Todd is ok. Chip remarked as they headed for their Jeep.

 

Oh hes just fine Chip and probably quite enjoying himself.

 

Huh?

 

That was him at the skeleton pit, we have another rendezvous tomorrow night.

 

*****

 

On their way back to the Inn they stopped at a local pub for a couple of beer and something to eat. Chip watched as Lee pushed his french fries around on his plate.

 

Something bothering you Lee?

 

Cant shake the feeling that something is off. Some sort of 6th sense keeps nagging at me.

 

Chip knew better than to discount Lees feelings about these things.

 

Is there any way you can contact Todd before tomorrow night?

 

No, wouldnt risk it even if I knew where he was.

 

Well then buddy theres nothing we can do but wait until tomorrow. Of course we still have to figure out where or what Glamorgans Last Stand is. I dont suppose theres any chance that its a whiskey distillery.

 

Lee snorted, I highly doubt it Chip.

 

*****

 

The man ran the video tape once more, watching the Skeleton Pit and the brief interaction between the zombie and one of the two men passing through. He turned the volume up; just to be extra sure he had it right. He heard again where the man was told to go and when, but couldnt hear if anything else was said as the skeletons started making a ruckus, banging and clacking bones around. He switched the recording off and looked over at the man in blood-spattered clothes, watching him sluice the blood off his chainsaw to run across the floorboards. He wasnt pleased with the complication that his overly enthusiastic lackey had caused. His conversation with the man was short.

 

Get anything useful.

 

Nothing.

 

Ok, we know from the tape where those two are heading, well be waiting.

 

*****

 

As soon as they got back to the Inn Lee jumped in the shower and Chip fired up the laptop. He wasnt encouraged by what he found.

 

Whatever it is Lee, its run by something called BrainEaters. he called to his friend.

 

Lee came out of the bathroom in only his PJ bottoms, hair towel dried, damp and curly. Your turn.

 

As Chip headed to the bathroom, Lee took his seat to look through the website.

 

Swell, looks like were spending another night with ghosts and ghouls. Lee said as Chip came back into the bedroom, also dressed only in PJ bottoms. While he didnt have Lees curly hair gene his blond locks were a damp, messed snarl on his head.

 

Well after all Lee, it is...

 

Dont finish that sentence.

 

Really and what will you do if I do finish it...Lee?

 

It was an open invitation and Lee pounced on it, quite literally.

 

He tossed Chip onto a bed and gained a headlock that Chip squirmed out of before Lee could give him a proper noogie12. Chip grabbed Lee trying for an arm lock but Lee twisted away going for a leg scissors. That didnt quite work out and in the process of getting loose Chips PJ bottoms came down.

 

Ooops, full moon is a little early, Lee teased as Chip tugged them back up.

 

Lee had turned around to give Chip some privacy but he soon found himself grabbed around the waist and flung onto the other bed, unfortunately his head banged into the wall. There was a loud answering thump from the other side of the wall. Lee and Chip both turned red and thanked their lucky stars that it wasnt the Admiral next door.

 

Ah, guess wed better quiet down and hit the sack.

 

Chip nodded his agreement.

 

*****

 

They spent the morning and early afternoon of the next day looking around Sidney and Victoria. They both enjoyed going through the Ocean Centre and learning about the ecosystem of the Salish Sea. Lee made a mental note to mention it to the Admiral, might be worth bringing Seaview up for a look around.

 

As hard as he tried Chip couldnt get Lee to tell him who hed purchased the lovely necklace for in the Mineral Shop.

 

They drove the scenic loop around Victoria and stopped at Willows beach to eat, having picked up some takeout sandwiches from a bistro near there. They arrived back at the Inn around 1500 and decided to try to sack out to be well rested for the evening. Lee knew he wouldnt be able to sleep but was amused at how fast Chip dropped off.

 

Lee rested for a couple of hours and then quietly slipped out.

 

*****

 

Chip was awake when Lee got back, toting in a couple of shopping bags, one quite a bit larger than the other.

 

Whatcha got there, Lee?

 

Lee tossed the larger bag to Chip, who pulled out a Rastafarian wig, a bead necklace colored black, green, yellow and red, black face paint, a black shirt and black cargo pants.

 

Whats with this stuff?

 

Call me overcautious but we need to do something about that blond mop of yours. Wig should take care of it, face paint will take care of your oh so Nordic skin. Tonight, youre Bob Marley.

 

Wouldnt Jacob Marley be more appropriate?

 

I did give some thought to the Igor costume.

 

Chip made a rude noise at Lee.

 

Lee relied in kind and emptied his own bag, which contained a set of camo fatigues and black and green face pain.

 

So how come I cant be Commando Rambo?

 

Cause you need to wear a wig and I dont. Now shut up and change, then Ill put the makeup on you.

 

Hey mon, all fruits ripe!13

 

Lee rolled his eyes and started to put on his costume.

 

There was a brief discussion over the application of Chips face paint.

 

I can do it myself.

 

Itll look better if I do it, its easier for someone else to get it on evenly.

 

It doesnt matter if its even, its dark out.

 

Stop squirming and let me do this.

 

Only if I get to put yours on you.

 

I can make it an order.

 

Like to see you try.

 

OK, fine, you can put mine on me, now sit still.

 

*****

 

As they were leaving the Motor Inn, Lee heard an eerie voice chanting softly in the lobby.

 

Ghostly whispers fill the air,

Chanting omens to beware.

Shadows stir in candlelight,

Then rise to prowl the dead of night.

Spirits lurk within these walls

And wander these unhallowed halls,

Cursed to haunt this dark domain,

Where mortal woe and sorrow reign.

 

You hear that?

 

Um, ya, why wouldnt I, Lee?

 

Just checking.

 

You feeling a little spooked tonight? Chip teased.

 

The girl at the lobby desk was dressed as a black kitten with a pink bow. She smiled at the two men, Do you like Nox Arcana? Its whats playing on the sound system right now, their Darklore Manor CD. Super spooky stuff.

 

Oh ya, ah great choice, Chip commented to her. He glanced at Lee and could have sworn he detected a faint shudder.

 

The girl watched the two men leave. Interesting face paint job on the commando guy.

 

Once inside the Jeep Chip asked Lee if hed heard of Nox Arcana before.

 

Ya, I know their stuff, just drop the subject.

 

Thats odd, but a discussion better left for another time, he clearly doesnt want to discuss it right now.

 

Lee, why are we leaving for the place so early? We arent meeting Todd until 2200.

 

I want to have a real good look around. Get the layout so we know what to expect.

 

Isnt the point of a Haunted House or in this case barn, to have stuff thats unexpected?

 

Yes, and a good agent always expects the unexpected, a great agent finds it out before it happens.

 

Chip mulled that over for a minute. So how do you explain all the unexpected injuries youre usually sporting when you come back from an assignment?

 

Never said I was a great agent, or that knowing about it coming means you can prevent it from happening.

 

Chip decided to drop this subject too, before he got Lee mad. Lee tended to be a bit touchy on the subject of his many injuries.

 

Chip squirmed in the seat; his gun was pinching him under his costume. He envied Lee in his Commando outfit; he had his gun out in plain sight, along with a nasty looking knife. Chip was pretty sure that it wasnt the prop plastic Rambo knife that came with the outfit. Looks like a KA-BAR14, dont remember seeing that in the back of the Jeep.

 

Lee turned off the highway onto a lonely stretch of road; there was deserted farmland on both sides. There wasnt much around in the way of street lights. They both noticed the scarecrows, very easy to spot in the desolate, harvested fields. The wind had come up and the hollow men shook and rattled on their stakes.

 

Great place for ghosts and ghouls. Chip remarked.

 

A stanza from an old poem passed through Lees mind and he spoke it aloud:

 

Have you ever heard the wind go Yooooo?
Tis a pitiful sound to hear!
It seems to chill you through and through
With a strange and speechless fear.
Tis the voice of the night that broods outside
When folk should be asleep,
And many and manys the time Ive cried
To the darkness brooding far and wide
Over the land and the deep:
Who do you want, Oh lonely night,
That you wail the long hours through?
And the night would say in its ghostly way:
Yoooooooo! Yoooooooo! Yoooooooo!15

 

Yeesh Lee, thats a little creepy!

 

Seemed to fit, Lee replied, looks like were almost there.

 

The road, deserted up until now, had cars parked along both shoulders. Lee slowed down as they passed a long, winding driveway. There were flickering, lighted pumpkins lining it and something dark huddled at one corner of the entrance.

 

They found a parking spot a little further up the road, pulled into it and sat for a minute.

 

Something on your mind, Lee.

 

Dont suppose youd be willing to stay in the Jeep?

 

Uhno. Where you go, I go.

 

Lee hadnt been able to shake his unease, Todd was a one stop shop agent. To have to go to multiple spots before getting the item did not bode well.

 

Lee stared at Chip for a moment more, seeing in his eyes only resolute determination to stick right by his side.

 

Lee reached over and poked at Chips head.

 

Hey, stop that.

 

Bit of blond hair sticking out, try not to scratch your head.

 

Cant help it, the wig itches.

 

Self control Chip, keep your hands away from it.

 

Lee opened his door and got out, Chip did likewise, and then they headed back down the road to the entrance of the evenings entertainment.

 

As they approached, they saw that the dark lump at the entrance was a figure robed in black, sitting in a chair. The figure stirred sluggishly, leaned forward and extended a withered, shaking hand towards them.

Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate! Turn back, turn back, while there is still time.

 

The figure settled back into the rickety chair.

 

Chip nudged Lee, I got the last part, what was the first?

 

Italian, from Dantes Divine Comedy, its the inscription over the gates of Hell. All hope abandon, ye who enter in, often mistranslated as Abandon hope all ye who enter here.

 

Charming. You know Lee, it scares me sometimes, the stuff you know.

 

Lee gave a shrug as his only response.

 

These pumpkins arent the friendliest Ive ever seen, Chip commented, as they walked down the driveway toward the barn. He pointed to one that had its guts spewing out of a snarling mouth, and another fanged one that was chewing on a smaller screaming pumpkin. Geesh Lee, what sort of twisted minds carved these things?

 

The kind that have rigged that, to scare the pants off of people.

 

Lee pointed to the large, dilapidated looking barn that they were approaching. They could hear screams coming from inside, along with other noises. What appeared to be blood was running down the weather bleached and cracked boards of the structure.

 

As they came closer a previously concealed door burst open and 3 people came running out, the first one, a young man, stumbled and fell, the two girls behind him tripped over him. All three lay sprawled on the damp earth. Maniacal laughter came from the doorway, muahahaha, watch your step, it could be your last muahahaha and was quickly followed by a snarling, crazed, deformed thing. It was clothed in tattered, blood soaked rags and waved a roaring chainsaw through the air, fresh meat, fresh meat, drink their blood and gnaw their bones, it screamed as the three scrambled to get to their feet and run. It then backed up through the door, going back into the barn and the door slammed shut.

 

That answer your question about the pumpkins, Chip?

 

Ya, pretty much.

 

OK, lets have a look around.

 

Uh huh. Chip, not thinking, scratched under his wig, a few strands of blond hair peaked out.

 

They scouted around the perimeter of the barn, it was barricaded on the sides but they slipped past the two teens that were supposed to be preventing people from doing just that. There was nothing unusual in the back, they spotted some ghouls obviously taking a break. There were some tall trees off to one side; otherwise empty farm fields surrounded the place.

 

Todd watched Lee and Chip from the trees, it was too risky to try and make contact outside, and he wasnt strong enough yet, once they were inside it would be easier.

Lees doing what a good agent does, having a look around before committing to going in. Checking for ways out or places to hide if needed. Yep, hes a good agent alright, better than good, sure going to miss him. Wish I could warn him, hell make it, hell take care of Chip too. Ill do what I can to help them. For now I have to wait.

 

*****

 

The man stationed to watch the people buying tickets was getting bored. So far he hadnt even had to look at the picture, the people showing up were mostly teens, a few older people and one or two families that had thought better of taking their kids inside once theyd got a look at the place. He was sitting behind the young man selling the tickets, supposedly there in case he needed help. At least thats what hed told him, the kid hadnt questioned it.

 

As Lee and Chip approached to buy their tickets the man got a little more interested. Hmmm, the tall guy looks about right, same build, but he should be with a blond guy. As Lee and Chip walked away he noticed the few strands of blond hair that had come out from under the back of Chips wig. He told the kid he was going for a break and went around to the rear. He took out his cell phone and quickly punched in a number. Boss, I think Ive got them, or at least as close to the picture as Ive seen all night. One of them has a wig on but theres blond hair under it, and hes the right size and with a taller, dark guy. He listened for a moment. Ya, they bought tickets, theyre in line now. He listened again and then closed his phone and returned to the front.

 

Hey, kid, Ive got some great news for you and the others.

 

The young man looked up, Ya, whats that?

 

Boss says you guys get to leave early. Hes sending another crew in so you can all go and have some fun.

 

Really, wow, thats great! Ill let everyone know.

 

Ya, you do that kid.

 

Damn good thing you dont want to check with the owner, would have been real unfortunate for you, all of you.

 

*****

 

Lee and Chip were now the next in line to go in. The people were admitted at timed intervals and there had been quite a long line-up. Lee glanced at his watch, coming up 2200, thats when Todd said to be here.

 

The burly guy from the ticket shed came over and spoke briefly to the kid at the entrance door. The kid left and the burly guy smiled at Lee and Chip. Just be a couple more minutes dudes, making a little adjustment inside.

 

Inside the regular cast was exiting through the back and handing over their costumes to a group of men. The men had their own accessories, which one kid thought looked a whole lot more real than his.

 

Once the kids were gone a man exited a black sedan and the motley group of men, some tugging on bits of the costumes, gathered around him.

 

OK, you know the drill but heres a reminder. Dont kill them, if the item is in there we need them to find it for us, if they dont then we need to find out what they know about where it is. They stay alive until I say otherwise, just make all scary but hands off. He sensed a ripple of disappointment among the group. Well it is Halloween. Fine, you can rough them up a bit, once I have what I need then you can kill them any way you like. The mood of the men lightened considerably.

 

*****

 

Lee heard a cell phone go off, the guy at the door pulled his out and listened for a minute. OK, you two can go in now.

 

As he closed the door behind Lee and Chip he pretended to listen to his cell phone again. He looked at the people waiting in line. Sorry folks, just got told that those two are the last for tonight. You can come back tomorrow or get a refund later. There were disappointed murmurs but the people left. They noticed as they walked out to the road that the greeter was now sitting in the middle, stopping anyone from coming in. There was a big CLOSED sign up.

 

*****

 

Bit dark in here Lee. Chip was tapping on the walls around them. Seems like were in a box of some sort, and not a very big one.

 

Lees warning senses were tingling like crazy. Chip I want you to stay behind me. I mean it, something isnt right.

 

Geesh Lee, were in a haunted barn, I dont think the plan is for things to feel right. Not to mention that I cant see you or a door, so no clue if Im in front of you or behind you.

 

With a loud snick a panel slid open in one of the walls, they stepped through it into a brightly lit room. It was rough finished; there was a painted, white door on the far side, with a ratty flower basket hanging off it.

 

Well seems plain enough what we are supposed to do. Chip walked up to the door, turned the handle and gave a tug. Nothing happened.

 

I thought I told you to stay behind me, Morton. Lee walked up to him as he gave the door a tug.

 

Dont see what youre worried about, empty room, one door, and it wont open. Chip yanked on the doorknob one last time, and it flew open. Chip stumbled back. A gaudy, leering clown leapt out and swung a long bladed, serrated knife at him. Lee shoved Chip hard and as Chip spun away Lee felt the clowns knife slash down his left upper arm and felt the flow of hot blood begin. He quickly turned and grabbed the clowns wrist giving it a sharp twist and was rewarded with the sound of snapping bones. The knife fell to the floor. Pivoting he drove his right elbow hard into the clowns solar plexus, turned again and landed a powerful right uppercut, knocking the clown against the far wall, unconscious.

 

Chip rushed to Lee, he heard him muttering, Damn Pennywise wanna be. Always have hated clowns, cant trust them.

 

Lee, let me see your arm, its bleeding pretty bad.

 

There was no time for Chip to see anything further, the room was plunged into darkness, another snick sounded and over in the left corner they could tell that the blackness wasnt quite so black.

 

Looks like another panel has opened, this time Chip stay back. Let me lead.

 

Not bloody likely Lee and I do mean bloody. Youre wounded; if anyone leads its me.

 

Lee would have argued further but Chip started moving towards the new opening. Along the way he ripped off his irritating wig and tossed it aside, along with the beads.

 

Chip, keep low, the walls will have sliding panels; anything could come out of them.

 

Their eyes adjusted to the semi-darkness and Chip looked towards Lee, noticing that he was holding his left arm tight to his body and bent across his stomach. Chip stopped and looked pointedly at Lees stomach. You hurt anywhere else besides your arm?

 

No, its just across my stomach because it hurts less that way.

 

Chip nodded. Hed accept what Lee was telling him, for now.

 

They could hear ghostly moans and groans as well as chains rattling.

 

As they moved carefully forward Chip felt Lee grab his shirt and pull him back, at that moment the walls exploded in shaking skeletal figures, somehow springing out of the wood and accompanied by blood curdling screams. A soft chant started and grew louder. Blue tinged flames suddenly seemed to dance among the walled skeletons:

 

From the beginning of Time,

To the threshold of Death, and beyond,

Hell calls upon Hell

Out of the darkness,

Remnants of an ancient flame burn anew

By the rite of Blood,

You must die, so that I may live eternally

You are dust, you shall return to dust

Behold the way of Death,

And endure the inheritance of the Damned

 

 

Chip looked at Lee with raised eyebrows.

 

Lee whispered to him, More Nox Arcana stuff. Seems the walls along here are made up of rotating panels, at least these are just animatronics. I thought I felt us trigger a pressure pad in the floor. If we keep to the side we might be able to avoid triggering any more of that type of stuff.

 

So keeping low and to the side they continued.

 

Lee wasnt sure if Chip realized it or not, but he was sure they were being tracked by cameras. There was always overhead surveillance at these places to spot any problems that might occur. While he and Chip could possibly avoid triggering the automatic stuff, the bad guys would still know exactly where they were.

 

They came to a heavy black curtain hung across the hallway, carefully moving it aside they saw that the next section was fairly well lit, it appeared to be empty. That is empty if you didnt count the portraits of rather deranged looking people cluttering the walls.

This doesnt look to bad Lee; lets get to the middle, the light is brightest there. I need to get a look at your arm.

 

Moving as cautiously as possible, they made it to the midway point without incident.

 

Chip gently pulled the ripped fabric away from the gash on Lees arm. Its still bleeding pretty badly, I need to wrap it. Chip noticed the trail of blood on the floor of the hallway. Damn, hes been bleeding like this all the way along, no telling how much blood hes lost.

 

Chip ripped Lees sleeve all the way off and used it to tie up the wound, crossing the material back and forth along the length of the ragged gash, trying to close it and stop the bleeding as best he could.

 

There, at least now youre only seeping blood.

Thanks Chip, Im fine.

 

Chip snorted and looked around. You notice anything peculiar about these portraits?

 

Aside from the fact that the eyes have tracked us ever since we entered and are staring at us now, no not a thing.

 

Chip was glad to see that Lee hadnt lost his sense of humour, however misplaced he might think it was at the moment.

 

Chip replaced Lees arm across his stomach, prodding gently as he did so, just to be sure there wasnt anything amiss there.

 

Lee glared at him, What, you dont believe me that theres nothing else wrong?

 

Of course I do, its not like youve ever lied about being hurt before. Chip smarted back at Lee. Lee dipped his head at the reproof, he did have a bit of a reputation for downplaying or denying injuries.

 

They started to move again. When they got to the end of the hallway they saw that the door was actually another curtain, patterned to look like a regular door.

 

Any guesses whats next, Lee?

 

Nary a one, Chip. Are you sure you dont want me to go first?

 

Very amusing. Stay close.

 

They moved through the curtain and were instantly disoriented. Strobe lights flashed and they could only get glimpses of where they were. They tried to go back through the curtain but discovered that a wooden panel had closed over the opening. There was no way to get back into the hallway. The background noise in the barn had, up until now, been mostly sound effects. In this room Lee recognized the theme music from the movie Halloween. He spotted movement off to his right but before he could say or do anything, something slammed into him, knocking him into Chip. They both went down. Lee felt himself being dragged up by his injured arm and tried not to yelp in pain. A fist connected with his stomach, once, twice. He felt his right wrist being twisted and heard a voice snarl, This is for the clown. He knew that the man intended to break his wrist and he brought his left knee sharply up, in what he hoped was the mans groin. He was rewarded by hearing a loud &(*%^16 and a thump as the man hit the floor.

 

He spotted Chip, briefly, in the strobbing light, he was struggling with his own adversary. Lee moved in that direction but tripped over something on the floor and went sprawling. It turned out to be advantageous as Chips attacker tripped over him and hit his head hard enough on the floor to knock himself out. Lee couldnt get a good look but it appeared that the man hed decked was still curled in a tight ball on the floor.

 

Lee, where are you? Chip called, slightly panicked.

 

Right here Chip, at your feet, no need to yell.

 

They found the exit to the room by accident as they felt along the wall and came to another thick curtain. They stumbled out and Lee almost barfed.

 

They were standing on a mesh metal walkway that ran through a rotating tube. At least it appeared to be rotating. Various coloured circles of light travelled swiftly counter clockwise around the surface of the curved ceiling, walls and floor. Standing on the walkway it was as if they were suspended in the middle of a rapidly spinning tunnel.

 

Chip Im gonna be sick.

 

No youre not, close your eyes, keep your hand on my back and follow me.

 

Lee decided that now was not the time to argue about who should be in front. Closing his eyes helped but as he suspected his stomach wasnt rebelling just from the visual effects, the punches to it and his throbbing arm were making their own contributions to his nausea.

 

Lee, when we get out of this, I think you should have a talk with your friend about his choices for meeting places.

 

Amen to that, Chip

 

Lee was wondering just where the hell Todd was. Had he been caught, or worse?

 

Were out; you can open your eyes now.

 

As Lee did he saw Chip grinning at him.

 

Dont know what youre so happy about, looks like youre going to have one heck of a black eye. Probably need a couple of stitches to close that cut on your cheek.

 

I was just wondering what ONI would think of their wonder agent having to close his eyes so he wouldnt puke while I led him through a tunnel.

 

Extenuating circumstances.

 

Uh huh. Lee let me look at your arm, the bandage has been ripped loose, youre bleeding like a stuck pig again.

 

You have such a great way with words, Morton.

 

Chip quickly redid the wrap but this time, when he pressed the arm to Lees stomach, he heard a grunt. He looked quizzically at his friend.

 

Just a bit sore, nothing to worry about. Took a couple of punches is all.

 

Chip added it to his list of things to tell Jamieson about when they got back to Seaview. He couldnt wait.

 

They moved quickly through what appeared to be a small bedroom, an emaciated hand darted out from under the bed. Lee and Chip both stomped on it, it was plastic and they didnt really accomplish much but they felt a bit better for doing it. They also tossed the bed across the room just in case there was someone under it, but the hand had been on a spring-loaded metal rod.

 

They stepped through the next doorway into darkness, after a couple of steps the floor beneath their feet began to shift and slide, try as he might Lee couldnt keep his balance. He instinctively reached out with his left arm to break his fall and yelped in pain both from the sudden movement and from his arm making contact with the rollers that had replaced the floorboards.

 

Lee, you ok? Lee? Chip called as he too lost his balance and went down.

 

Define ok. Lee responded, Who the hell thinks this stuff up!

 

They both managed to maneuver into a sitting position on the rollers just before they shot through an open doorway and skidded to a stop on their butts in another room. The room was filled with fog that was pumping down from overhead nozzles. The only illumination was a red light, pulsing in time to a thumping heartbeat. There was a definite chill to the air.

 

Wonderful, anything could be in here with us and we wouldnt know it until it was too late, ran through both mens minds.

 

Lee had wondered why the thugs hadnt just shot them, there had certainly been enough opportunities.

 

Chip, why do you think these goons havent just killed us?

 

The question has occurred to me too Lee, but been a bit too distracted to dwell on it.

 

Seems they want us alive, that has to mean that they dont have what they are after yet. They must be waiting for our contact to show up, and then theyll grab all of us. Right now they are just playing with us.

 

That makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. Todd isnt coming is he, Lee. He knows its a trap or wed have seen him by now.

 

Im not so sure of that. He could still be undercover with these guys, maybe.

 

Lee noticed the fog to his right moving in an odd way. Chip I think something is moving around in here with us.

 

Ya, I spotted it too Lee.

 

With the pulsing red light they couldnt track the movement very well. It seemed at times to be everywhere and then nowhere.

 

They rose to a crouch, ready to move but still wanting to use the fog for cover as much as possible.

 

Lee felt an icy chill run down his spine.

 

Lee Im here, dont turn around. It was Todd whispering into his ear.

 

Todd, Ive got a lot of questions but not now. Do you have the package?

 

No. Listen carefully, theres not much time. Go to the cemetery, find Nevermore, look below the anchor. Hurry, youve one more room to get through, ware17 the chainsaws.

 

Todd, what about you? but Lee could sense that Todd had left, just as mysteriously as hed arrived.

 

Lee, who are you talking to?

 

Todd was just here.

 

Lee I think youre losing it buddy. I didnt see anyone or hear anything.

 

Would you, in this fog, I cant even see you most of the time.

 

Good point, but I would have heard him.

 

No, he was whispering pretty softly, even I had a hard time hearing him with that blasted heart thumping away. He said theres one room left, then we have to go somewhere, Ill explain later.

 

Hes not coming with us?

No, my best guess is that hes still undercover with them and playing along. Hell break away as soon as weve completed the pickup.

 

Dont suppose he mentioned where the next door is?

 

Nope. He did mention that we should watch out for chainsaws.

 

Just then a breeze moved through the room, parting the fog briefly to show a door to their left with the next blood pulse of red light.

 

Ready, Mr. Morton?

 

As Ill ever be, Captain Crane.

 

The two men barrelled through the door, tucked and rolled and came up fighting. Or would have if theyd found anyone in the room.

 

Damn, another strobe room, hate them. Lee grumbled to himself.

 

O Fortuna

 

What did you say Lee?

 

Thats the name of the music playing, its from Carmina Burana.

 

Lee Im never going to understand the way your mind works. Who cares what the music is.

 

Before he could come up with a suitable reply Lee heard the angry roar of chainsaws. It seemed to come from all around them but he couldnt see where they were. Then he heard a deafening shrieking sound and saw sparks flying everywhere. Sounds and looks like theyre running those things against metal.

 

Chip.

 

Right beside you Lee.

 

They stood back to back.

 

Chip I dont know about Glamorgan but I get the feeling this might be our last stand. Dont take this the wrong way but I wish you hadnt come.

 

Its ok Lee, I love you too bro.

 

The shrieking and sparks stopped and the two men watched in morbid fascination as three figures approached in broken stop action, circling and swinging their roaring chainsaws up and down, back and forth. In an odd way, it worked quite well with the crescendoing music.

 

Only a matter of time, even if we can dodge them for a bit they are bound to get us. Chip reached for Lees hand and gave it a squeeze, Been a pleasure, Captain.

 

Likewise, Mr. Morton.

 

The three approaching figures gunned their saws, they didnt care what their boss wanted, they wanted blood, they were taking these two apart, piece by bloody piece.

 

OK boys, lets make hamburger!

 

Lee thought he recognized the voice as being the guy hed ball busted earlier.

 

The lights stopped their strobbing and stayed on. Undoubtedly adjusted from a main control room somewhere so that the chainsaw-wielding attackers wouldnt have any trouble seeing their quarry.

 

Lee and Chip were preparing to dodge as best they could when one of the men looked up, swore and took a step backwards. The other two did the same. Neither Lee nor Chip cared what the problem was, they moved and moved fast.

 

Lee swept the legs out from under one of the chainsaw-wielding attackers; the saw flew from the mans hands and caught the leg of one of the other men. He howled as it gnawed deep into his thigh. He collapsed grabbing at the spurting wound. Lees sledgehammer punch to the jaw of the first man put him out for the count.

 

Chip was grappling with the third man. His chainsaw lay on the floor, the chain spinning wildly. Lee wondered what had happened to the safety feature that should have stopped the chains when the lockout switches were released.

 

Chip landed a solid punch to his adversarys nose and the man stumbled back, lost his balance and fell face down....his stomach landing on the spinning chain. Blood and tissue spattered over the floor and walls.

 

Lee grabbed his friend, Come on, theres nothing we can do for any of them. We have to get out of here.

 

They ran for the exit to the outside, which was now standing open. Chip didnt care why it was suddenly open, he was just happy to get out.

 

As they dashed out Lee glanced up in the direction that their attackers had looked in. He thought he saw someone but then was out the door.

 

Must be a catwalk up there.

 

*****

 

Imbeciles, Im surrounded by imbeciles, the man raved as he watched the chainsaw debacle on the monitor. He motioned to the three men with him to follow as he dashed from the surveillance room. If we can get there fast enough maybe we can still catch them before they get away.

 

He skidded to a stop in the final room and took a brief look around. One of his lackeys was obviously dead, although the body was still bucking as the saw continued its grisly work. He glanced at the other two and then sprinted to the door. Damn, there they are at the end of the driveway. He watched for a moment while Lee and Chip made short work of the man on guard there and headed down the road.

 

Get the car, hurry. We have to catch them.

 

What about Jason and Freddy, theyre still alive? We gonna just leave them here? one of the men asked while the other two ran to get the car.

 

The leader took out his gun, and fired twice, putting a bullet through each of the downed mens heads.

 

I cant stand subordinates who dont follow orders. Leave them. Probably make the place twice as popular next year.

 

*****

 

Lee give me the keys, youre in no shape to drive.

 

Id love to be able to argue the point but youre right.

 

Lee tossed Chip the keys, hurried around to the passenger side, and climbed in.

 

Chip gunned the motor and gravel flew as they took off.

 

Where am I going?

 

Todd said to find Nevermore at the cemetery and look under the anchor.

 

Chip headed for the highway. He had a vague idea where the cemetery was as they had driven past it when driving around the day before.

 

Lee do you know where to find whatever Nevermore is?

 

Other than its in the cemetery, no. How many anchors can there be, probably better off looking for that.

 

Chip kept checking his rear view mirror.

 

I think we have a tail, Lee.

 

When he didnt get an immediate response he glanced over at his friend, he didnt like what he saw. Most of the face paint had rubbed off. Youre paler than a real ghost. How much blood have you lost, how badly are you hurt?

 

Lee, you with me?

 

Ya, just thinking. Take the next left, then the second right.

 

Chip left the highway, following Lees directions.

 

OK Chip, now go left at the light, run it if you have to I dont see any cop cars. Turn right at the next road, ok, see the mall on the left, head into it and drive through to the other side and exit right.

 

Chip thought they might have lost the other car but then he saw a dark sedan pull into the mall parking lot.

 

Lee, they are still with us.

 

It was a long shot, not much traffic but Id hoped.....

 

Chip turned right leaving the Mall.

 

What the HELL! Chip yelped.

 

Shit, I forgot about this. This stretch of the road is supposed to have a haunted vortex.

 

What suppose to! Were on a gravel road surrounded by fields, whered everything go, what do I do? I dont freaking believe this!

 

Just keep going Chip, its only for two blocks.

 

Practically before Lee finished speaking they were back on a paved surface with houses again lining the street.

 

Quick, make another left here! If our tail got caught in the same vortex they wont know which way we went.

 

*****

 

The black sedan skidded to a stop on the gravel road.

 

Boss, you aint gonna believe this!

 

Why did you stop you moron!

 

The roads gone boss, everything is gone.

 

The man looked up from the map hed been studying in the back of the car.

 

Howd you get us in the country, we were in the city a minute ago?

 

Thats what Im trying to tell you, it just....disappeared.

 

Hes telling the truth boss, I was looking out the window and, poof, it all changed, the man sitting beside the driver confirmed.

 

The driver was thankful he had a witness, he wasnt sure he believed it himself.

 

What do you want me to do, boss?

 

Drive you idiot, I dont know whats going on but those two agents must have driven through this, and so will we, NOW GO!

 

OK boss.

 

Just as it had for Lee and Chip the roadway popped back to its expected appearance in another block.

 

I dont see them anymore. They must have turned off. At this point the driver would have been quite happy to give up the chase and get gone.

 

Slow down, check the side streets, they cant be far.

 

Yes, sir. Wait, there, I think I saw rear lights making a turn off that side street.

 

There arent many cars around so its likely them. Follow, but not so close this time, turn off the lights. I dont want them spotting us again.

 

*****

 

Lee, were getting close, where do you want to leave the Jeep? Lee?

 

Chip wasnt sure if his friend was sleeping or unconscious.

 

Damn.

 

He drove slowly past the cemetery, noting that there were cars pulled into the blocked entrances. Probably patrolled regularly tonight, thats a complication.

 

He drove along the street for a couple more blocks then parked.

 

Lee, he reached over and gently shook his friends good arm. He was tempted to leave Lee in the car and find the box himself. Trouble with that plan was that he had to wake Lee up first to make sure he wasnt unconscious, if he was then as far as Chip was concerned he was blowing off the mission and taking Lee straight to a hospital. Might not be a bad plan to do that anyway.

 

Lee groaned and squirmed uncomfortably in the seat.

 

Chip, we there?

 

Yes Lee, were here. There are guards patrolling the grounds. Maybe we should call it a night, and get you to a doctor. I can come back tomorrow, it will be easier to find in daylight.

 

No, the other side could find it before then.

 

Lee we dont know that they know where to look.

And we cant be sure they dont. We need to retrieve the box now.

 

Chip sighed. I was right, should have left him sleeping and just gone to a hospital.

 

Have you seen any sign of our tail, Chip?

 

No, but Im not convinced that they arent around here somewhere.

 

Then lets get moving. You said there were patrols?

 

Uh huh. They have their cars parked in front of the posts blocking the entrances.

 

OK, there are no vehicle entrances along the South side by the water. I think I saw a dead end lane the other day on the East side. Theyll probably patrol most frequently on the East and South sides where theyd expect people to try and sneak in. So well go in the front door, the North side.

 

Wait, isnt that the side where the Blue Angel18 is?

 

Good memory. Well go down to the other end, away from it. Maybe well get lucky and the guards will be busy with some kids sneaking in to leave a gift for the Angel.

 

Chip saw Lee grimace and hold his arm when he started to get out of the Jeep.

 

You sure youre up to this, Lee? I can go in by myself.

 

Not a chance Chip. My arm is just a little stiff and sore, didnt notice it so much when the adrenaline was pumping. Im fine.

 

Sure you are, I bet there are a few other things you didnt notice before either.

 

Chip was careful to stifle his own groan when he got out. Seems Im a little stiff and sore too, but at least all my blood is where it belongs, inside me.

 

The two crossed the street and walked along the sidewalk as if they were just out for a walk, a very late walk. They saw a couple of security guards in the small shopping plaza they were walking past, the guards were leaning against their car chatting to a pair of teens. Lee suddenly grabbed Chips arm and pulled him into some bushes beside the plazas Pub. In a minute a dark sedan with its lights off cruised by.

 

They are bound to spot the Jeep, Lee.

 

Lets move it, itll take a few minutes for them to find it and then they have to figure out where we might have gone. With any luck theyll go the wrong way.

 

They moved out of the bushes and after going a few more feet down the sidewalk, slipped over to the other side and slinking along beside one of the security cars, entered the cemetery grounds. Luck was not on their side, or so they initially thought. They heard voices and saw light coming from a very small building.

 

Great, whispered Chip, were right beside the caretakers building.

 

The door started to open and the two men moved quickly to the back of the structure and sat with their backs pressed hard against it, their knees up.

 

They listened as two people began talking in the doorway, Do you think well see any ghosts tonight, Eric?

 

Well you never know, Eddy swore that last Halloween he saw the fellow that was murdered on Christmas Eve in 1890, floating around.

 

Ya, I heard that Edna saw an elderly couple all dressed up in Victorian attire floating along the western side last year too.

 

Lee and Chip heard them chuckle. Then a womans voice joined the conversation.

 

Just what do you two find so funny? I saw what I saw, youre welcome to take the west side, Eddy and I will go East then along the south side and meet you.

 

They heard the door shut and peering around the corner saw two sets of people heading off in opposite directions, flashlights scanning the ground as they went.

 

Well that worked out well, at least we know where they are going to be for the moment. So lets have a look around here and see if we can spot an anchor.

 

Or a Nevermore, whispered Chip.

 

*****

 

Thats their Jeep, Im sure of it, boss, doesnt look like theyre in it though.

 

The sedan pulled over and the four men got out. They took a quick look inside the Jeep noticing quite a bit of blood on the passenger side.

 

The boss looked at his map and then scanned the area. Theres a park, a small plaza and the cemetery. Spread out and check out the park and the plaza but my money is on the cemetery. Ill wait here in case they come back.

 

The three lackeys started off to the park at a jog, it wasnt large and checking it out wouldnt take long. A quick sweep and then they passed through the gas station beside the park and crossed the side street to the plaza. They spotted a couple of guards in a car. They went over and made friendly, asked if it had been a quiet night and had the guards seen anything suspicious?

 

A couple of teenagers wandered by, we sent them on their way. Otherwise its been nice and quiet.

 

Well thats just changed, one of the thugs remarked as he pulled open the door and dragged the guard out, the other guard was receiving similar treatment on the other side.

 

They pushed the unconscious guards back into their car, shut the doors and did a quick check all around the plaza, front and back, nothing. They returned to the Jeep.

 

The boss wasnt surprised that they didnt find the agents. OK, Norman, you stay at the car in case they get away from us, you other two, with me. Were going to pay a visit to the dearly departed.

 

*****

 

Lee and Chip were criss-crossing the cemetery, watching for the guards on their rounds. Chip was the first to find an anchor, a small one etched into a gravestone, neither he nor Lee could see any sign that something had been hidden around it. Moving on they found a few more markers which featured anchors, and again no sign that any of them were the anchor they were looking for.

 

Well I guess gravestones with anchors wouldnt be all that unusual for a cemetery next to the ocean, on an island. A weary Chip sighed.

 

Lee touched his arm and pointed to a set of flashlights coming in their direction. Before they could move the lights winked out. Odd. I think we may have more company than the guards, Chip.

 

Not like we werent expecting them, Lee.

 

Hope the guards are OK, wouldnt put it past the bastards to have killed them.

 

They were at the South side of the cemetery and through the bushes could hear the waves lapping on the shore just across the road. The scent of the tangy salt air was better than any perfume to both men.

 

As Lee looked in the direction where hed seen the flashlights the full moon broke out of the clouds for a moment.

 

Chip, look over there, about 1100, what does that look like to you?

 

Chip strained his eyes, Youve got to be kidding. Is that a big black bird on a pedestal?

 

In answer he heard Lee whisper, Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

 

Go Chip, go.

 

They covered the distance in record time. Crouching beside the bird they saw a large, black anchor off to the right, not more than 15 feet away. It was set in a raised bed surrounded by a rectangle of black sea chain. Vines covered the ground around the anchor. The scurried over to it and started to hunt through the vines.

 

Wait a minute Chip, theres a large stone here with a cross engraved on it.

 

He wouldnt have, thats just too tacky.

 

Well, they do say X marks the spot.

 

They pulled the vines away from the rock and between the two of them nudged it out of the way, they could tell that the earth underneath had recently been disturbed. Glancing over his shoulder to see if anyone was headed their way Lee began to dig, Chip as well. They soon unearthed a small metal box, about the size of a DVD tape.

 

Has to be it, quick fill in the hole and lets move the stone back.

 

Hey boss, over here, looks like they found something!

 

Lee shoved the box at Chip, RUN!

 

A flash of light and a bullet ricocheted off the anchor.

 

Lee pulled his own gun out and returned fire. He pushed at Chip who hadnt moved from his side, Will you get going, dont go back to the Jeep, head for the road, through the bushes. MOVE!

 

Another shot rang out, Lee fired back and started to run in the opposite direction hed told Chip to go in.

 

Damn it Lee, why do I never get a choice in these things. Chip headed for the bushes and the road, not wanting Lees diversion to have been for nothing.

 

More shots rang out, both in his direction and Lees. Lee saw Chip stumble as he dived into the bushes. Please dont let him have been hit.

 

Lee ran, hunched over as if carrying something.

 

Boss, which one do you want us to go after?

 

Take out the guy still in the cemetery; I want everything hes got on him. Make it fast; the cops are probably on their way. Ill get the other one.

 

The two henchmen lunged after Lee, what they lacked in finesse they tried to make up for in bullets. They scored a hit as Lee ran towards a tree that seemed to have at least 10 different trunks.

 

Great, left arm ripped open by a knife and now Ive collected a bullet in my right shoulder. Im never going to hear the end of this.

 

He wondered why the plaza guards hadnt come to investigate all the gunshots. Probably sitting tight until the cops get here. He could hear sirens in the distance. Shouldnt be much longer, just have to keep away from these guys for a few more minutes.

 

Jack, you hear those sirens, we gotta get this guy now.

 

Whats that other sound, a jet or something?

 

Who cares, you go right and Ill go left, well get him in a crossfire. Carl yelled to his partner in crime.

 

Just be careful where youre shooting.

 

Ya ya, just get going, there isnt much time.

 

*****

 

Lee, Lee, wake up.

 

Huh, Todd? What are you doing here?

 

Come on Lee, you cant stay here.

 

Lee shivered, he felt icy cold. Must be getting shocky, guess I lost focus there for a minute.

 

Follow me Lee, come on, move your butt, bucko.

 

Lee attempted to follow Todd, must be worse off than I thought, everything is sort of hazy, can hardly make Todd out.

 

Lee lurched to his feet, barely keeping upright as the graveyard seemed to spin around him. Tombstones, tree trunks, grass, went round and round as if he was on a macabre carousel, a carousel he knew from old. Words hed thought were long forgotten bubbled up in his mind, "Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to direct your attention to center stage where you will bear witness to terrifying sights that will haunt you till the day you die. Behold the Circus Diabolique, and let the nightmare begin..."19

 

He leaned into one of the trunks of the weird tree, his left arm made contact with it and pain flared, razor sharp, slicing up and down his arm and across his chest and back. He felt himself slipping downwards. He tried to move away to follow Todd but in turning caught his bullet-punctured shoulder on another of the trunks, sending fresh shards of agony through his body.

 

Todd, I cantTodd, he whispered through the pain, trying to let his comrade know that he couldnt follow him. Todd heard Lee and quickly turned, Lee youve got to try. I cant carry you.

 

Todd, find Chip, help Chip. Leave me, I .. Lee slipped down to the ground, in his mind hearing the music of a calliope, seeing a black stallion, eyes ablaze with hellfire.19 Why am I thinking of that mission, lord I hate clowns. His mind wandered briefly down the shadowy lane of missions past.

 

He opened his eyes, Todd was kneeling beside him, a wind had sprung up, he heard the dried fall leaves crackling as they skittered to and fro over the ground and scrapped along the paved paths. The wind moaned softly through the branches of the tree where Lee huddled, an eerie, sinister sound. Suddenly all was still, the wind gone as quickly as it had arrived. Lee saw tendrils of fog creeping between and over the granite headstones, lovingly entwining around them, caressing them with cold, damp fingers. The fog seemed to be slinking and slithering from all directions at once, coming to him, for him.

 

Lee tried again, Todd, go, find Chip, help him.

 

Lee, Chip is fine, hes safe.

 

Lee nodded, he didnt know why or how Todd would know, but he believed him.

 

Im really cold Todd.

 

I know Lee, I know.

 

The fog now billowed along the ground, growing thicker and thicker, coming closer and closer. Forms rose up from the cold ground, floating within the fog. The first tendrils reached Lee, encircled him and wrapped gently around him. It entered inside him as he breathed and his pain faded away. The billows arrived, covering and concealing him, enfolding him in sea mist.

 

Todd, Lee called sleepily to his friend, can you see the people?

 

Yes Lee, they wont hurt you, rest now, rest.

 

*****

 

Carl and Jack were trying to find Lee, but all they could see was fog.

 

Damnest stuff Ive ever seen, I cant see a thing below it.

 

Can you see him anywhere?

 

No, but he has to be around the tree somewhere, fog seems to be extra thick there for some reason. If we both fire a couple of clips all around the tree weve got to hit him.

 

OK, lets get at it then, cops are sounding way to close.

 

As they were preparing to saturate the area with bullets, they suddenly noticed people in the fog. A couple embraced in a waltz, hearing music only they could hear, floated past.

 

What the hell was that? they both screeched, taking identical steps back.

 

Other ethereal figures floated towards them, arms outstretched. They felt something trying to wrap itself around their ankles.

 

A figure rose up out of the fog in front of the tree.

 

They opened fire.

 

*****

 

Chip dived for the bushes just as a bullet caught him in the thigh. He tumbled down the embankment, regained his feet and made a hobbling dash across the road. Just as he was going over the low sea wall, he heard someone crash through the bushes and a bullet ricocheted off the wall on his left. He dropped down from the wall onto the rocky shoreline and dived behind some logs that lay jumbled together on the shore. He drew his weapon and cautiously peered around the end of one of the logs. A bullet flew into the rocks on his right and he returned fire. The clouds that had been passing over the full moon cleared away and he was able to get a look around. Other than the logs there wasnt much in the way of cover. He spotted some motion on the sea wall and fired another round.

 

At least with the moonlight Ill see him if he comes over the wall.

 

Chip heard a familiar whine pass overhead. He didnt have time to ponder the hows or whys of it as a bullet buried itself in the log close to his head.

 

Damn, hes moved along behind the wall until hes above me.

 

Chip crawled closer to the logs and tried to dig down a bit into the sand and rocks. He kept a close watch, the next time the guy popped up to take a shot he planned to be ready. However, it was a long wall and he couldnt watch all of it all of the time. It was possible the shooter would get over the wall and he wouldnt see it. He heard shots from the cemetery and briefly glanced in the direction of the sound, he prayed that Lee was ok.

 

He heard rocks crunching to his right and turned just in time to see a silhouetted figure aiming a gun straight at him. He also heard that distinctive whine again and suddenly the beach lit up from a strong overhead spotlight. The gunman instinctively raised his arm to shield his eyes and Chip took his moment. His shot was true and the man crumpled to the ground. The spotlight was gone as suddenly as it had appeared; Chip saw FS1 circle, preparing to land in the bay.

 

Suddenly there was heavy gunfire from the cemetery, Chip tried to get up to go help Lee but his leg buckled under him, dropping him to the sand on his rear. Getting to be a habit.

 

He hadnt really noticed his wound much before but now it was throbbing painfully. He saw that his left pants leg was soaked in blood from mid-thigh all the way down, including his shoe. He tried to get up again and made it with the help of the logs to lean on. He didnt get far however before two men came flying over the seawall, ran right past him and waist deep into the frigid water. They stopped suddenly, and seemed to be confused about where they were. They spotted Chip, and sobbed, Please help us, dont let him get us!

 

Huh? What the hell did you do in there Lee?

 

Chip desperately wanted to climb the sea wall and find Lee but between his leg and having to keep an eye on his two prisoners, who had finally come out of the water, he wasnt able to do anything but sit back down again. He hoped that Lee would find him but so far there had been no sign of his friend.

 

In a very short time, Chip saw a rubber raft heading towards him. The Admiral, Sharkey and Kowalski were in it, all three paddling to get to shore as quickly as possible.

 

The Admiral was the first out of the raft, Chip, are you alright? Wheres Lee? Who are these two?

 

Chip had to laugh at the rapid questions. He wasnt sure if he found it funny that that they were asked with no time given for him to answer them, or if he was just so relieved to see the three rescuers that he was a bit hysterical. He figured it was likely a mix of both.

 

Sir, Im fine, maybe need a bit of stitching in my leg. Lee is probably still in the cemetery, its over the sea wall and across the road, I dont know what kind of shape hes in. He picked up a knife wound in his left arm earlier tonight. Ive been trying to get these two to make some sort of sense. Chip nodded his head in the direction of the two shivering captives. They just keep babbling about ghosts appearing out of the fog and floating body parts.

 

While Chip was talking Nelson had motioned to Kowalski to have a look at Chips leg. Kowalski helped Chip into a more comfortable position and then ripped the pant leg open, swabbing away some of the blood to get a look at the injury.

 

Whoa Mr. Morton, youre going to need more that a bit of stitching. At least the bullet isnt still in there, youve got entrance and exit wounds, Sir.

 

Chip felt a bit dizzy and wobbled slightly, a hand closed on his shoulder, steadying him and gave a comforting squeeze.

 

Easy Chip, well have you patched up in no time, Nelson reassured him.

 

Yes Sir, but Ive got to find Lee. If he was alright hed be here by now.

 

Chip tried to get up but Nelson and Kowalski held him sitting.

 

Chip you let Kowalski do what he can for you. Sharkey and I will find Lee.

 

Ski opened the first aid kit hed brought from the raft and began flushing the wounds with sterile water, then quickly dried the areas. He applied two pressure dressings and started to wrap a bandage around the leg to hold them in place.

 

Sharkey came over just as the Admiral was turning to go get him. Hed been trying to question the frightened men.

 

Sir, its like Mr. Morton said. Those two arent making any sense. They say the cemetery is full of fog and all sorts of dead people were chasing them. Theres no fog here that I can see.

 

Fog, dead people or whatever else is in there, were getting Captain Crane out.

 

Yes Sir, my thoughts exactly.

 

Lets go, Chief. Kowalski you stay with Mr. Morton and keep an eye on those two. Nelson inclined his head towards the two men huddled on the beach, eyes still wide with fright.

 

Aye, Sir.


Admiral, wait, take Kowalski with you, Im fine. Ill watch the prisoners, its a big cemetery youll need him to help search for Lee.

 

As much as Ski wanted to go help find his Captain, he knew that Mr. Morton wasnt up to being left alone, especially if either of the two prisoners decided to cause trouble. From behind Chip he shook his head no to the Admiral.

 

Kowalski stays Mr. Morton.

 

Aye Sir. Chip knew better than to argue, and he had to admit, if just to himself, that he was starting to feel dizzy again.

 

Chief.

 

Aye Sir. Sharkey double-timed it to keep up with Nelson.

 

The two climbed over the wall and surveyed the bushes. They could see where they had been pushed through by someone making a hasty and none to careful exit.

 

Without a word Nelson started in, Sharkey close behind him, both with weapons drawn and safeties off.

 

*****

 

Lee, Lee, time to wake up bucko.

 

Hmmmm, what? Lee opened his eyes slowly, then blinked several times as everything seemed to be blurred. Fog, thats right, I saw the fog come in.

 

Todd?

 

Right here Lee.

 

Who are the other people?

 

New friends Lee, nothing to worry about.

 

The answer didnt make much sense to Lee as he watched the new friends floating around in the swirling, pearlescent, moonlit vapor.

 

Lee was feeling a little light-headed. The fog looks kind of like liquid silver in the moonlight, doesnt it? I like your friends costumes, very Victorian.

 

Lee watched as an elderly couple floated by and nodded a greeting to him. He saw two older men in top hats and tails going towards a mausoleum, they seemed deep in discussion. He saw others, some were children playing, then they all seemed to become part of the fog, then the fog slowly began to thin and sink down into the ground.

 

Todd, that was really strange, did you see.Todd, wed you go?

 

Lee looked around as best he could but he couldnt see any sign of his friend.

 

He heard voices and saw flashlights in the distance, and then he heard voices that were closer, voices very familiar and welcome to him. Geeesh I know Todd doesnt like being seen by a lot of people, but youd think hed of at least stuck around until they found me.

 

Admiral, over here. Lee called out, although it wasnt much more than a loud whisper as he gasped for breath. With the disappearance of the fog the pain from his wounds had returned full force. He tried to push himself up, using one of the tree trunks for support, Admiral, here.

 

*****

 

As they entered the cemetery, Nelson instructed Sharkey to move off to his left but to keep him in sight. From the sounds of the sirens the police would be entering the grounds soon and he really wanted to find Lee first. He called Lees name but there was no response, he heard Sharkey calling as well. Captain, Captain Crane, where are you?

 

There was no fog around, Nelson wondered just what the two men on the beach had seen, or thought they saw.

 

Not trusting that all the bad guys were out of the cemetery Nelson and Sharkey kept a keen watch for any movement and strained to hear any sound out of the ordinary. At one point Nelson paused as he thought he heard an answer to his call for his friend, but he heard nothing more so continued on. The moonlight was both friend and foe. While it did provide some light, the headstones, markers and trees cast ink black shadows where anything could be concealed.

 

It was while peering behind one rather large headstone that Nelson heard Sharkey give a yelp.

 

Nelson headed over to the Chief, Sharkey, you ok?

 

Feeling rather embarrassed, Sharkey nodded, Im fine, just that this big bird startled me. Didnt really notice it until I was right beside it.

 

Nelson had to agree that it was rather fierce looking. He saw a large anchor just a few feet from the bird. He walked over to it, having noticed something about it.

 

Sharkey, over here, look. That looks like a fresh bit of damage, maybe a bullet hitting it.

Yes Sir. The ground is kind of chewed up around here. It has definitely seen some action tonight.

 

Nelson called again, Lee, Lee can you hear me?

 

Lee raised his head, Nelson sounded close but he had no strength left to answer him.

 

What the hell, whats one more loud bang tonight.

 

Lee lifted his gun, pointed it straight up and pulled the trigger.

 

Sharkey and the Admiral dove for cover, but not before theyd seen the flash of fire from the guns muzzle.

 

Taking a chance Nelson got up and running low, headed for the oddly shaped tree where hed seen the fire flash. Sharkey followed. There were no further shots.

 

They could hear sirens and voices from the far east end of the cemetery and a dogs eager, harsh barking.

 

Damn, police dog, thats all we need.

 

As he circled the tree Nelson thought he could make out a body on the ground in the shadow. He didnt waste any time.

 

He skidded to his knees, Lee! He dropped his gun and placed the finger tips of his shaking right hand to the side of Lees neck, just beside his windpipe, seeking a pulse.

 

Sharkey was crouched beside him, holding his breath.

 

Theres a pulse Francis, but its way too fast and weak, hes in shock.

 

Nelson noticed that the hand he had rested on Lees shoulder felt wet, when he held it up in the moonlight it looked black. A quick check told him that Lee was soaked in something, and he could guess what that something was. There wasnt time to investigate further.

 

You, under the tree, put your hands up where we can see them. Do it now or we release the dog.

 

The police had arrived. A handheld spotlight lit the tree area. What the police saw did not bode well for Nelson and Sharkey. Two men, one with a gun in his hand, leaning over a third, covered in blood.

 

Nelson almost lost the contents of his stomach when he saw Lee in the light. Lees camo top was saturated in blood, his face devoid of all colour, except for some smeared face paint and the blue tinge to his lips. A truly ghoulish sight.

 

Looking at Lee he only vaguely heard the police telling Sharkey to drop his gun and for the two of them to lie face down on the ground. The command was repeated and he felt rough hands shove him down.

 

As he felt the cuffs go on, he heard one of the officers requesting an Advanced Life Support unit, for all the good its likely to do him, the officer muttered. He continued to speak into his mic as he looked Lee over, appears to be a deep laceration to his left arm, crude bandage over it, its still bleeding. He has a bullet wound to his right shoulder, looks like it bled a lot but has slowed down, the bullet is still in him. Pulse is 130 and weak. Lips and nail beds cyanotic, doesnt look good. Youd better get here fast. One of the other officers brought over a first aid kit and opened it up. Dressings were applied to the wounds and a mask with a small oxygen cylinder attached to it by tubing was placed over Lees face.

 

Nelson and Sharkey had been brought up to their knees, hands cuffed behind their backs. Sharkey was trying to explain to the police who they were.

 

Look you guys, this is Admiral Harriman Nelson. Look at our uniforms.

 

Ya ya, real nice leather jackets and his even has boards, amazing what costume stores sell these days.

 

Nelson shook his head and regained some equilibrium. Hed been watching the limited medical care that Lee was receiving. Realizing that it was the best that could be done at the moment, he hoped and prayed that it would be enough until the ambulance arrived.

 

Officer, if youll look in my pocket youll find my Navy ID. Check Chief Sharkey as well.

 

Uh huh. Doesnt prove squat mister, ID can be faked. Well find out who you are when we get you back to the station.

 

NO, Im not leaving Lee!

 

That the poor guys name that you tried to kill?

 

We didnt try to kill anyone; we were trying to help him. Sharkey ground out.

 

Another officer walked over, ah Sarge, you might want to have a look at what they found on the beach. Well need another ambulance.

 

Great, and it was looking like a quiet Halloween for once. You two, take these men and get them in a squad car and down to the station.

 

As they hauled Nelson and Sharkey to their feet, the paramedics arrived. The police had taken down the pole barricades and moved the car that had been in front of the poles so the ambulance was able to enter and stop within a few feet of where they were.

 

Nelson started to struggle, Get your hands off me, I told you, Im not leaving Lee.

 

Sharkey also started to resist, Take your hands off the Admiral, you cant do this!

 

You can come with us the easy way or the hard way, but youre coming. One of the officers held up a hand stunner.

 

*****

 

On the beach the Sergeant looked around, not quite believing what he saw. Another wounded man, black face paint smeared all over his face, two men scared out of their wits and begging to be arrested and taken someplace safe, and a guy in a black leather jacket and red jumpsuit that had had to be wrestled to the ground. There was also a dead body. However, the strangest thing was the yellow craft bobbing in the water just offshore.

 

As he contemplated all this his radio went off again, Sarge, weve found a bunch more people, four of them look like the cemetery watch, they were knocked out but seem to be coming around. One of them is mumbling something about ghosts. Weve got a couple of unconscious mall guards in their car at the plaza and weve also picked up a guy that was down the road trying to make a run for it.

 

And a partridge in a pear tree, the Sergeant mumbled into the mic.

 

Pardon Sarge, didnt quite catch that.

 

Roger that, weve got two ambulances on the way, guess youd better request a third and the coroner. Send a car down to the beach now and one of the ambulances when they arrive and radio the coroner to come down the road by the water. Out.

 

Holy cow, I dont get paid enough for a night like this one. Admiral Harriman Nelson, oh boy. Now the uniforms and IDs can be faked, but that baby out there on the water that has to be the real deal. Ive read about it, seen pictures. Just great, I cuffed and stuffed THE Admiral Harriman Nelson. I soooooo dont want to know what has gone on here tonight.

 

As he considered just where his career might be headed after this night he heard two ambulances arriving at the cemetery and one leaving.

 

Officer Bennet, let that man up. Ski shook the officers hand off his arm and scowled at him.

 

You, he pointed at Chip, how do you fit into all this?

 

Chip wasnt sure how to reply, he decided that until he could figure out if they were still undercover hed better say as little as possible.

 

Not at liberty to say.

 

The police car hed requested arrived, followed by an ambulance.

 

OK, well well take you to the hospital under guard and sort things out from there. Bennet take the other three down to the station.

 

Sergeant, did you find a man by the name of Lee in the cemetery?

 

There was no mistaking the concern with which the blond asked the question or the look of appeal in his eyes.

 

Yes we did. Hes in pretty bad shape, already headed to the hospital. Before you ask, we found two other men as well, friends of yours?

 

Maybe.

 

Real talkative type arent you.

 

The Sergeant headed back up to the cemetery.

 

As he was being loaded into the ambulance, Chip looked over toward the logs. He didnt know what he should do about the box. Hed buried it as well as he could. Do I leave it here and hope for the best? Its well concealed, but theres always a chance someone will find it.

 

The decision was made for him, as one of the paramedics gave him a shot of something and the world faded away.

 

*****

 

By the time the Sergeant got to the station there were more than police uniforms in attendance. Must have half the naval brass from the base here.

 

As he entered, one of the police Lieutenants beckoned to him. The Chief wants to see you in his office, now.

 

Wonderful, 1330 and the Chief is here.

 

As he walked towards the stairs leading up to the Chiefs office a man, that he was now sure was indeed the Admiral Harriman Nelson, was coming down, he was flanked by two Admirals from the local base. The man that had been apprehended with him and the one in the red jumpsuit from the beach were following behind him. He also saw, coming up from the cells below, the other two men from the beach and a third, all heavily chained and being escorted out by Naval MPs.

 

Oh ya, my butts in a sling alright.

 

He moved well back, hoping to go unnoticed.

 

Nelson had seen the Sergeant slink out of his line of sight. Not his fault, only doing his duty, but if anything has happened to Lee or Chip while Ive been held up here

 

*****

 

The three Admirals, Chief Sharkey, Kowalski and a couple of naval Lieutenant Commanders arrived at the emergency entrance of the hospital as if storming a beachhead.

 

The emergency staff, while quite used to dealing with upset, irate, unreasonable family members and friends, was not quite prepared for a military invasion.

 

The Admiral hit the desk first, followed closely by the others.

 

Two of my men were brought in a short while ago, Commander Lee Crane and Lieutenant Commander Chip Morton. Where are they and how do I get there?

 

Are you family, sir? the young nurse asked. She wasnt sure what information she could release to this man, or the others. She was saved from Nelsons explosion when a senior staff member stepped forward. She had a husband in the forces and recognized brass when she saw it. There was a lot of it in front of her right now. Must be quite the story, two of our Admirals, a US Admiral and an assortment of others.

 

Excuse me, youre an American Admiral I believe?

 

Yes, and I want to see my men NOW.

 

The authority in the voice was unmistakable. Hes an Admiral all right.

 

She looked over at the other nurse, Do we have anyone admitted under those names?

 

No, Nurse Chapel. Weve had the usual for Halloween. Fireworks burns, a couple of knifings, kids with upset stomachs, and two unidentified men with gunshot wounds. They had a police escort.

 

Thats them. Where are they? Nelson leaned formidably through the reception window.

 

Nurse Chapel noticed that hospital security had turned up, in force, and was keeping a close eye on how things were going.

 

Im sorry Admiral, without proof that these men are under your authority, I cannot release any information to you.

 

Nelson felt a hand on each of his shoulders, restraining him. The two Canadian Admirals stepped forward.

 

Nurse, we would like you to take a close look at our credentials, they both withdrew ID wallets and held them up. Nurse Chapel wasnt sure if she had the knowledge to authenticate the IDs. Thankfully, she didnt have to wonder for long, security decided things were now in their ballpark.

 

The head of security stepped forward and examined the IDs. He looked at Nelson, who took the hint and displayed his. While he desperately wanted to get to Lee and Chip, he had wisely decided that a brawl between hospital security staff and naval brass would not be the best way to accomplish it. However, he hadnt totally ruled it out.

 

Nurse, this looks to be all in order. Im satisfied that they are who they say they are.

 

The Chief of Security couldnt override hospital regulations around the release of patient information, but it was a relief to Nurse Chapel to have the Chief take care of authenticating their identities. Now if someone could just confirm their association to the two patients. I guess I could just take their word for it, being Admirals

 

Again, the nurse was in luck. The police officer that had been assigned to remain with Lee and Chip exited the elevator and spotted the contingent at the desk. Wow, that doesnt look like a happy bunch. Hed heard about the mess around arresting a US Admiral. Seeing an opportunity to score some points with his own brass, he approached the group. Singling out Admiral Nelson by the difference in his uniform he addressed himself to him.

 

Excuse me, Sir. Would I be correct in believing that you are Admiral Nelson?

 

Nelson ran his hand through his hair. Now what!

 

Yes, but Im in no mood for further discussion of my status. Thats been settled at your headquarters.

 

Yes, Sir. Im aware of that. Ive just been notified to report back as your two men are not under detention. I thought youd like to know. Were very sorry for the mix-up.

 

Nurse Chapel interrupted, Officer, can you confirm that the men you brought in are under Admiral Nelsons command?

Yes Maam, thats what Ive been told.

 

Thank you, youve been a big help.

 

The officer looked pleased, nodded and again spoke to Nelson, I hope your men are alright, Sir. He left anticipating telling the Chief that hed been of some help to the US Admiral.

 

Nurse Chapel punched in a code and some additional keystrokes on the computer keyboard.

 

Admiral all I can tell you right now is that your two men were taken straight into surgery. One for a serious gunshot wound to his thigh, the other for a gunshot wound to his right shoulder and a deep knife laceration to his left arm. She frowned and hit a couple of more keys. The surgery on the man with the leg wound is going well, he should be out of surgery soonthere appears to be some complications with the other man.

 

Nelson felt the blood draining from his face and his breathing became shallow. Sharkey and Ski moved up to stand beside him, having noticed the sudden loss of colour in his face and the slight tremble of his hands.

 

What sort of complications, Nurse? Nelson asked.

 

I have nothing specific here, other than that they have stopped their procedure and have requested an orthopedic surgeon. Shoulder wounds are never simple. At the moment your man is stable and being kept on the operating table.

 

How long before the surgeon is here? The thought of Lee lying in a cold, sterile operating room, likely with his shoulder sliced open, while everyone waited for a specialist, was pure agony for Nelson.

 

As the nurse was about to answer a man came flying though a set of automatic doors and ran past them to a waiting elevator.

 

Admiral, Id say that Dr. Simmonds should be there in about 30 seconds.

 

I take it that was Dr. Simmonds? He looks younger than Lee.

 

Yes it was your man is very fortunate that Dr. Simmonds is our specialist on call tonight. Hes an excellent orthopedic surgeon.

 

Lee Crane.

 

Pardon Sir.

 

Thats who youre talking about; his name is Lee Crane, Commander Lee Crane.

 

Nurse Chapel updated the record with the name, and the name of the other man?

 

Chip Morton, Lieutenant Commander.

 

She nodded and recorded the information.

 

While she was doing this one of the other Admirals suggested that Admiral Nelson might like to come back to the base with them now that hed located his men and knew that they were being treated.

 

We have very nice visitors quarters, Im sure after a night like this youd like to rest, maybe have something to eat. Well quarter your Chief and senior rating as well. The hospital can contact the base if they need any other information. Well have one of the secretarys call for an update on their condition for you in few hours.

 

Sharkey and Ski took a judicious step back behind Nelson.

 

The Admirals were somewhat taken aback by the Nelson shocking blue glare they found themselves the focus of.

 

Thank you for your kind offer. I will be remaining here. I will not be leaving until Comander Crane and Mr. Morton are both out of surgery and I have had a chance to see and speak with them. Nelson told them with clipped formality.

 

The two Admirals glanced at each other, they had heard about the unusual devotion among the members of Seaviews crew. Still, an Admiral shouldnt be waiting around in a hospital just because two command crew members were injured. They started to voice a protest, thinking that Admiral Nelson just needed a little encouragement to come with them. They hesitated when they saw his facial expression set like granite and his eyes go cold, glacial blue. They might be Admirals as well, but neither of them was willing to take Nelson on over this.

 

Ah yes, well, ummmm, Conners here will stay with you in case you need anything. The Admiral indicated one of the aides, who saluted and fell in behind Nelson.

 

Your Chief and seaman...

Will be staying right here with Admiral Nelson, Sir, Sharkey provided. He knew he was speaking out of turn but wanted to make the point to ALL the Admirals present, that neither he nor Ski was leaving.

 

Nelson, smiled, he had expected nothing less.

 

Once the two Admirals had left, Nelson, his men and Conners were taken to a waiting area by one of the hospital staff.

 

Someone will come to update you as soon as there is anything to report. As you know, Mr. Morton is expected to be out of surgery soon. Mr. errrr, rather Commander Crane, will be a little longer.

 

Thank you. Can you tell me how soon after that we will be allowed in to see each of them?

 

It will be up to their doctors, I believe the expectation is that Commander Crane will be in ICU for a while and likely not conscious for several hours after surgery. That doesnt mean that you cant see him while hes there, but it will be a longer wait than for your other man. He will likely go from recovery to a regular room.

 

Nelson nodded his understanding. He took out his cell phone to make a call but was politely reminded that cell use was not permitted in the hospital. Fortunately, there was a courtesy phone in the waiting area.

 

*****

 

Two hours and numerous cups of coffee later, Nelson was finally able to see Chip. Sharkey and Ski were allowed in as well, Conners declined. He didnt know Chip and wanted to give the Admiral and his men as much privacy as possible.

 

Nelson laid his hand on Chips right arm, he was still out from the medications but Nelson hoped that somehow hed feel his presence. He had the customary IV line in his hand, feeding him fluids.

 

So pale and still, but they said hed be ok, just take time, rest and lots of good food. Hell like that last part.

 

A nurse was taking his vitals.

 

He should regain consciousness soon but he wont be very coherent, probably not until tonight. You can stay awhile if you want. Well let you know about your other man as soon as we can.

 

Nelson thanked her and pulled up a chair. Before sitting down Sharkey and Ski each spoke a word or two of encouragement to Chip, just to let him know that they too were there.

 

Francis.

 

Yes, Admiral?

 

Would you please tell Conners that hes dismissed, theres no need for him to be stuck here.

 

Aye aye, Sir. Sharkey left but was soon back.

 

Nelson wasnt sure how much time had passed when he heard a soft moan from the bed. He watched as Chip moved his head slightly. Sharkey and Ski immediately came over.

 

Easy Chip, its Nelson. Youre in the hospital.

 

Chip moaned again, louder this time and raised his arm slightly, then it dropped back down onto the bed.

 

Chip, dont move your arm, youve got an IV line in. Nelson put his hand on Chips arm to stop him from moving it again.

 

Admirals voice. Hospital, IV. Lee, where is Lee?

 

Chip forced his eyes open, everything seemed blurry at first but eventually Nelson, Sharkey and Ski came into focus.

 

In a voice barely above a whisper he asked, Admiral, Lee ok? Here?

 

He started to panic when Nelson didnt answer him right away.

 

Easy Chip, easy. Lee is here. There have beencomplications, as far as we know hes still in surgery. Hell be fine Chip.

 

Chip squirmed a bit and the men noticed lines of pain on his face.

 

Nelson pushed the call button by the bed and a nurse was quickly there.

 

Hes awake and in pain, can you give him something?

 

Soon. The nurse picked up the phone and punched in a code and paged Chips attending physician. In a matter of moments the Doctor was there.

 

Well I see youre finally with us. Im just going to ask your visitors to leave for a few minutes while I have a look at how youre doing. Then Ill give you something for the pain and youll take a little nap, ok?

 

Chip merely nodded and Nelson and the others took the doctors hint and left the room, assuring Chip that they wouldnt be far away.

 

As they entered the hallway, they saw a familiar and very welcome figure striding towards them.

 

I got here as quickly as I could Admiral; thankfully I was in Seattle, so not far away.

 

Sharkey and Ski were beaming.

 

Chip has just woken up Jamie, his doctor is in with him now. We Nelson had to clear his throat, we dont know much about Lee, other than that there were problems during his surgery and they had to call in a specialist for his shoulder.

 

I see, is he still in surgery?

 

As far as we know.

 

What happened to them? Your phone message didnt give much information just that theyd been injured and needed me.

 

Chip took a bullet in his thigh. Lee a bullet to his right shoulder and a knife wound to his left arm.

 

Ill try and find out just whats going on with him. You stay with Chip. Ill be back as soon as I can.

 

Thanks Jamie.

 

Sharkey and Ski had been quiet while Doc and the Admiral talked but now added their own sincere words of welcome and relief that Jamie was with them.

 

As Jamieson left Sharkey turned to Nelson, Youll see Admiral; everything will be just fine now that Doc is here.

 

I hope so Francis, I hope so.

 

*****

 

Theyd been back in Chips room for about an hour before Jamieson was back. Chip was still sleeping so they kept their voices low.

 

Jamie began his report without preamble.

 

Lees out of surgery and in recovery. The knife wound needed irrigation and debridement. It required a lot of careful stitching to repair the damage. The shoulder wound was the most serious. There was both good and bad news there. The bullet entered high on his shoulder, angled down. It miraculously missed the joint and the major arteries and nerves in the shoulder but it did fracture his clavicle and imbedded itself in the scapula, cracking it. Thats why they needed the specialist, to get the bullet out without doing further damage and set the fracture. Its not a quick procedure, great care must be taken to avoid damaging nerves, and blood vessels, there was also some ligament damage that needed to be repaired, a very fine, delicate procedure.

 

Jamie paused to allow the men to absorb what hed detailed so far. He was glad they were all sitting as Nelson didnt look to steady, come to that Sharkey and Ski were on the pale side as well.

 

Nelson spoke first, You havent said if hell be ok, he will be, wont he?

 

In time Admiral. Hes lost a great deal of blood and both wounds are very serious. Hell need therapy for both his shoulder and arm but he should regain full function of both. The shoulder wound will be giving him quite a bit of pain for some time.

 

There was a soft groan from Chip, the men looked over to find him staring at them with not quite focused eyes.

 

Jamie stepped quickly up to him and began to check his vitals.

 

You, Mr. Morton, are not supposed to be with us for some hours yet. Go back to sleep.

 

Lee...

 

It wasnt a question or a statement but more a plea that Chip uttered.

 

As I just told your visitors, Lee is now out of surgery, and expected to fully recover. Thats all you get for now. Sleep.

 

Chips eyes lost what little focus theyd had as his lids slid slowly over them and he slipped back into dreamland.

 

I wish I knew how he and Lee do that. They are never as out as they should be. Lee especially claws back to consciousness amazingly quickly. I really should mention that to the staff here.

 

Sharkey, not known for shyness around officers, stepped forward, Doc, how long before we can bring them home?

 

Ski chimed in, Ya, you know theyll want to be out of here as soon as they are all the way awake.

 

Nelson tried to hide his smile, Theyre right Jamie. What do you think?

 

Jamie sighed, Mr. Morton, probably could be moved within a couple of days, very carefully, but the Captain...thats going to take longer. Maybe in 4 or 5 days, if things go well. Theres still the risk of infection for both of them. Gunshot wounds can be dirty things. They are both receiving antibiotics in their IVs.

 

Nelson laid his hand on Chips forehead.

 

He feels a little warm to me. A bit flushed as well.

 

Thats just a post-op fever, normal and nothing to worry about. Theyll be watching him closely, it should be gone in a day or two. Lee will have one as well.

 

The door to Chips room opened and a nurse came in.

 

Dr. Jamieson, you wanted to know when we were moving Commander Crane. Hes going to be shifted to ICU in about 15 minutes.

 

Thank you, Nurse. Id like to be with him when hes moved. Ill be along shortly.

 

She nodded and left the room.

 

Jamie, it never ceases to amaze me that whatever hospital we end up in, in whatever country, you always seem to be able to make yourself at home. Not that Im not grateful for that, but it does puzzle me some. Nelson couldnt help but chuckle as he made the observation.

 

Jamie turned slightly red, The medical community is a chatty one, Admiral, and we tend to keep tabs on each other. I seem to come across doctors Ive met at symposiums or other hospitals who are willing to vouch for me wherever we go, so far. The computer age helps too; my medical practice and insurance records can be checked quickly.

 

I imagine you have quite an impressive record Jamie, they probably would like to make you an offer once they see it.

 

Jamie flushed brighter red.

 

Oh, I see. Nelson grinned at his friend.

 

I might have had one or two along the way. Ive got to head over to Lee; I take it you will all be staying with Chip awhile yet?

 

At the unanimous affirmative response, Jamie opened the door to leave.

 

Ill let you know as soon as Lee is settled and you can see him.

 

*****

 

Beep, beep, beep, beep, beep.

 

Oh ya, I know that sound, heart monitor, sounds ok, nice and regular. Shoulder feels funny. Nothing hurts much. Someone just touched me.

 

Lee, Lee, can you hear me?

 

I know that voice, the Admiral.

 

Lee, dont try to move but can you open your eyes?

 

Different voice, Jamie???

 

Dreaming, they heard Lee mumble.

 

No Lee you arent dreaming. Youre in the hospital. Admiral Nelson is here, Im here, Sharkey and Kowalski are outside.

 

Lee tried to draw a deep breath, the pain he didnt think he was in made itself known. A startled moan escaped from him and he tried to roll onto his side. He felt two sets of hands steady him, preventing the movement.

 

Not a good idea Captain. I said dont move.

 

Chip, where.....

 

He didnt get the question finished before another spike of pain hit him and he sucked air in through his teeth in a hiss. The pain succeeded in bringing him the rest of the way awake. His opened his eyes and he saw Jamie and Nelson leaning over him.

 

Jamie nodded to a nurse standing by the IV line and Lee saw her inject something into it.

 

The pain will be gone in a minute Lee, youll be going back to sleep as well.

 

Dont want to sleep....questions...where...how... Lee felt the pain ebbing away and a pleasant lassitude start to envelope him.

 

Nelson stroked his hand through Lees hair; he knew what Lee needed to hear in order to rest.

 

Chip is fine Lee. Hes here, theres nothing for you to worry about.

 

Chip, ok...youre here, Im fine, Lee muttered as he gave up the battle to stay awake.

 

Interesting Admiral, the way he processed that information. I thought it would at least be another day before he started claiming he was fine.

 

Nelson continued to slowly stroke Lees head, loath to break physical contact with the man that had come to mean so much to him. He hoped that his touch imparted some comfort and reassurance to Lee.

 

You know what he really meant, dont you, Harry?

 

Jamie only used his first name when what he was about to say was going to be very personal.

 

Hell never come out and say it, any more that you will but you both feel the same way. You love each other, trust each other completely, and feel that as long as youre together, you can make it though anything.

 

Harry saw no point in denying the statement. If hed had a son he could have done no finer than Lee, couldnt have loved him more than he did Lee. He felt, hoped that Lee regarded him as much more than a good friend.

 

Jamie left Harry with Lee, one of the staff had brought a chair over for him. Jamie knew from experience that it would be a long time before Harry could be cajoled away from Lees side.

 

Sharkey and Ski greeted the news with great joy that their Skipper had been awake briefly, and knew they were there. Jamie knew that they wouldnt stray far until they were sure their Captain was well on the way to mending.

 

*****

 

Lee had a mystery visitor the second day after his surgery, it was a brief visit and the Admiral was in attendance. The Admiral and the man then went to see Chip, after which the man left.

 

You buried it under the logs on the beach?

 

Yes Sir, seemed like the best plan at the time.

 

You could have mentioned it when we arrived.

 

Yes, Sir, had other things on my mind.

 

Hmmmmm. Well ONI can dig it up for themselves. Any idea what was in the box?

 

No, Sir. I dont think Lee knows either. We were just supposed to get it from Todd and hand it over in Washington. Guess we sort of messed up.

 

Things messed up alright, but not from anything you or Lee did. Todds cover was blown. They knew he was the one that took whatever it was, they had people watching him to see who he contacted, they were planning to get the item back and kill some ONI agents as a bonus.

 

Swell, has anyone heard from Todd, did he get away clean?

 

Nelson didnt have time to answer as two nurses came in and wheeled out the other bed that was in Chips room. It was a double room but so far Chip had been the only occupant.

 

Hmm, looks like you might be getting a roommate Chip.

 

Jamie strode in, Yes he is Admiral. Hopefully he wont feel to put out about it. The hospital is a busy place and we cant always have a room to ourselves.

 

Chip was about to point out that hed never said he had to have his own room when his roomy was wheeled in. He couldnt see the person as there were a lot of staff clustered around the bed, making sure it didnt bang on anything and the IV didnt get tangled. One of the nurses pulled a curtain across between the beds to provide some privacy. Chip noted that Jamie was on the other side of the curtain. There was only one reason that Chip could think of that Jamie would be involved with the new person.

 

Admiral, is that who I think it is?

 

Jamie didnt say anything to me Chip but I think it is.

 

Nelson and Chip stared intently at the curtain, watching the shadows go about the business of checking vitals and arranging medical equipment. It looked to Chip like someone emptied a syringe into the IV line where it connected to the hanging bag. Finally Jamie popped back to Chips side and pulled the curtain back.

 

Chip grinned but then looked solemn. Jamie and the Admiral had assured him that Lee was making good progress but this was the first time hed had a chance to see his friend. He could get a good look as Lee wasnt wearing a hospital shirt and the sheet and blanket were folded down to Lees waist. Lees right arm was secured across his chest and the shoulder was heavily swathed in bandages. His left arm from the elbow to the shoulder was also fully bandaged, but it was lying by his side, an IV fed into the top of his hand

 

Lee, buddy, can you hear me? Chip called softly.

 

Hes been sedated Chip, youll have to wait awhile before you two can start conspiring to get out of here.

 

No he wont Jamie, Lee groggily muttered, without opening his eyes.

 

Damn I wish youd stop doing that Lee. You should be out like a light.

 

Yes, mother.

 

Chip tried unsuccessfully to stifle a chuckle.

 

Nelson was having trouble keeping a straight face himself. Lee, Jamie told you to go to sleep, I suggest you do so. You can visit with Chip later.

 

Lee yawned, Yes, Dad. Sleeeppp.

 

Nelson knew it was the meds confusing Lees mind, but he couldnt help the warm feeling that blossomed through him when Lee called him Dad, or the moisture that gathered in his eyes. Coughing to hide his reaction, he swiped his eyes clear. Neither Jamie nor Chip was fooled.

 

Jamie looked at Chip, Chip you should be resting as well. Admiral what say that you and I go out for dinner, I dont know about you but Im tired of the hospital cafeteria food.

 

Sounds good to me, Chip Ill be back later to say good night.

 

Yes, Sir. Enjoy your dinner.

 

The two men departed, but first Nelson had rested his hand on Lees head and given his hair a gentle ruffle. Hed then bent down and whispered something in Lees ear that neither Jamie nor Chip could hear, not that they would try to, it was obviously personal.

 

Chip looked over at his sleeping friend, or was he?

 

Lee, you called the Admiral Dad on purpose, didnt you?

 

Uh huh. Lee answered, albeit quite groggily.

 

Meant a lot to him, you mean a lot to him.

 

So he said, Lee smiled, then let go of his tenacious hold on consciousness and allowed the sedative to pull him under.

 

*****

 

The next day Lee was much more alert and queried Chip about what had happened to him when theyd parted company in the cemetery.

 

Chip gave him a blow-by-blow account.

 

It was the craziest thing, Lee, those two thugs leaping over the wall and running into the sea, yelling about how ghosts were after them and how the arms of one of the ghosts separated from its body and flew through the air trying to grab them.

 

Lee shook his head, It was a strange night alright, did you tell the Admiral about the road changing?

 

Ah, no. Im not sure I really believe it myself. There must be some sort of explanation. What happened to you after we split up? Did you see ghosts in the graveyard?

 

Just then Nelson entered the room.

 

Ghosts? What are you two talking about? He pulled a chair over so he could sit between the two beds. They are both looking a lot better today, even if they are still flat on their backs.

 

I was just asking Lee what happened to him in the cemetery, Sir.

 

"I think it's time I heard all about your and Lee's experience, right from the time you arrived in Victoria. If youre both up to it.

 

Chip told the bulk of the story; Lee interjected pertinent details now and then, both men skipped over the road vortex experience. Nelson could tell that there was something missing in the account of their journey from the barn to the cemetery. Have to pry that out of them later.

 

Lee yawned, Thats about the whole story up to the cemetery. I didnt make the connection between Nevermore and Poe until I spotted the bird. I was looking for a headstone with Nevermore, carved on it, or maybe a mausoleum. Once we found the bird the anchor was easy to see.

 

Nelson smiled at Lee and quoted:

 

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,

By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore.

"Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou," I said, "art sure no craven,

Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the Nightly shore-

Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!"

Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

 

Lee nodded, I dont think it really was a raven, but in the moonlight it did look like a big, black bird, guess Todd figured it was close enough for me to figure it out. We found the box and then all hell broke loose. I gave the box to Chip and ordered him to leave.

 

Chip sent Lee a glare, which Lee ignored as he carried on with his account.

 

The bad guys shot at me, I shot at them. You know the results of that. Im afraid some of the headstones are a bit worse for wear. I dont remember much after I got to the tree, I was pretty woozy. Good thing Todd arrived and the fog.

 

There wasnt any fog at the beach or the road, are you sure you werent sort of hallucinating it? Chip asked.

 

To tell you the truth Im not really positive of much. At one point, I could have sworn that there were hands in the fog, caressing the gravestones, there seemed to be people moving around in it too. Todd said I should go to sleep, that everything would be all right. There was something very restful about the fog, it made the pain go away. I know it was just my imagination, but as covered me, it felt like, youre going to think Im nuts, but it felt like arms wrapping around me, I felt safe.

 

The Admiral cleared his voice, You say Todd was there Lee, I didnt see him.

 

Hes not big on hanging around, Sir.

 

You havent asked yet why I was there.

 

We have been wondering, Sir. Lee inclined his head towards Chip.

 

Admiral Jones called to tell me that Todds cover had been blown, that you and Chip were in danger.

 

I was worried about that but in the haunted barn when Todd told me where to find the box, he didnt leave with us so I thought he was still ok.

 

Lee, Im sorry but thats just not possible, Todds body was found in a cornfield in the early morning of that day. Nelson didnt feel it was necessary at this time to add that the body had been strung up as a scarecrow, the arms barely attached to the body. The coroner had speculated that a chainsaw had been used. Lee deserves to know what happened to his friend, but that can wait until hes further along the road to recovery.

 

"That can't be right Admiral. ONI has got their intel wrong. On the night of the 31st I saw Todd twice, once in the barn and again in the graveyard.

 

Nelson looked both sad and speculative. Lee, I know you think you saw and talked to Todd after the 30th, but son, theres just no possible way. ONI has a positive DNA match on the remains that were found. While he was speaking, he reached out to gently stoke Lees lower left arm, his hand travelling slowly up and down. He gave Lees arm a comforting squeeze, waiting for Lees reaction.

 

Lee looked perplexed, I hear what youre telling me Admiral, but.....Chip you saw Todd too, didnt you?

 

Lee, Im sorry but no, I didnt. You told me he was there and what hed told you, but I didnt see him. Chip looked at Nelson, Of course Admiral I was somewhat distracted and the room was full of fog, I could have missed seeing Todd. As you know I was already out of the cemetery when Lee says Todd was with him in there.

 

Lee, Chip, weve seen some astonishing things on our missions. Ive heard it said that when a person dies a violent death that their spirit may remain until their attacker is found and brought to justice, that some spirits can be trapped here if they have unfinished business, or they may want to convey useful information to the living, to try to help them. There are a million theories, and whos to say which if any, are right or wrong.

 

He stayed to help us, to see the mission through.

 

Maybe Lee, who knows. If it helped Lee deal with Todds death then Chip was willing to go along with it. Like the Admiral said, weve seen some mighty strange things...

 

Sharkey and Ski had flown the Flying Sub back to Seaview to resume their duties on board once it had been clear that both Captain Crane and Mr. Morton were recovering. Nelson now had some good news for both of his officers, Seaview had arrived and they were being transferred, under Dr. Jamiesons care, to the subs Sick Bay.

 

There would be a period of convalescence for both men, but they would recover from their injuries.

 

By the time they reached Santa Barbara Dr. Jamieson felt that Chip was well enough to be released into the tender care of the Morton family.

 

Lee protested that he, himself, was just fine and quite well enough to be on his own on Vanora, but neither Nelson nor Jamieson were having any of that. They didnt trust Lee to go easy on either of his injuries and certainly didnt feel that letting him hightail it to his sailboat was a good idea. While Lee wouldnt be physically able to hoist the sails and take off on one of his jaunts, they didnt put it past him to try. Not to mention the fact that Lee shouldnt be driving yet either.

 

Lee, you can either spend time in the Institutes medical facility until Dr. Jamieson assures me you can be on your own, or you can come home with me. Those are your only two choices, Captain. Pick one.

 

Lee sighed inwardly; its really a no-brainer, heck the Admirals place is practically my second home. Be nice to spend some personal time with him. Dont want to be too obvious though. Reputation to protect and all that.

 

I really dont see the problem in letting me go home, but if that isnt an option, he paused.

 

The Admiral filled the silence, Its not.

 

Then home with you Sir, if youre sure you can stand having me around.

 

Nelson smiled broadly, That will never be a problem Lad, you know I enjoy your company. I still have a couple of questions about things that happened on your assignment, and you can help me brainstorm on a couple of upcoming projects.

 

Jamieson interrupted, Just make sure he takes it easy, gets lots of rest, eats properly, shows up for all his physio sessions and check-ups. Well you know the drill Admiral; youve been through it enough times before.

 

Lee frowned at Jamieson in mock indignation.

 

Indeed I do Doc. Lets get you home then Lee.

 

Aye aye, Sir.

 

As he couldnt clap Lee on either shoulder without causing him pain he settled on a gentle pat on the back as they exited Sick Bay.

 

 

To be continued.

 

 

As I was walking up the stair,
I met a man who wasnt there.
He wasnt there again today.
I wish, I wish hed go away.

- Hugh Mearns

 

 

1 My story Thunder Rolls. Nelson loses his temper with Jones and belts him in the nose.

 

2 Lee is currently living on his 39 foot cutter sailboat, moored in a secluded bay along the Santa Barbara coastline.

 

3 My story By The Lee.

 

4HELLEVATOR - 4.5 G's of total fun! Riders are secured in seats, surrounding a 202-foot vertical tower, where the seat cart shoots upward at 75 kph and then free falls back towards the ground, providing an added free-falling force of negative 1 G on the way down.

 

REVELATION - Designed like a giant airplane propeller, the Revelation holds two to four riders comfortably in the cockpit seats at each end of its 160-foot arm. Riders take off quickly spinning up to 100 kph and experience the same intense "G" forces as fighter pilots! The combination of the rotation, tremendous height, high speed and the rush of wind will definitely reveal the intensity of the ride. Not for the faint of heart, the Revelation is for the ultimate thrillseeker!

 

DROP ZONE - The 100-foot free fall of the Drop Zone will definitely get your adrenaline pumping. Riders wear specially designed flight suits that connect to cables suspended from two steel archway towers. Fliers are lifted to the top of the towers and are in charge of pulling their own ripcord, hurling themselves into an unforgettable free fall. Fly solo, in a pair, or a threesome.

 

CORKSCREW - High velocity rollercoaster ride, features a thrilling double helix inversion as it twists and turns around its track.

 

ATMOSFEAR - swings 360, while going 70km/hr, at 218 feet high!

 

5 Carny - someone who works in a carnival.

 

6 Flyer (flier) - Trapeze performer.

 

7 Fast Count - A score tallied so quickly that the player cannot confirm the result.

 

8 Gazoonie - The lowest form of carny.

 

9 Clem - fight between townies and carnies. Can also refer to a mark, gullible rural local.

10 The Left-hand Method - If you place your left hand on the left-hand wall upon entering a maze, and follow that wall all the way around, never removing your hand, you will, after a tour of numerous culs-de-sac, arrive at an exit.

11 Freddy Kruegers song from the movie Nightmare on Elm Street.

 

12 Noogie, rubbing of knuckle, fist, or hand to someones head. Generally causing hair displacement and mild cursing.

 

13 Jamaican slang for everything is great.

 

14 The contemporary popular name for the combat knife first adopted by the United States Marine Corps in November 1942 as the 1219C2 Combat Knife (later designated the USMC Mark 2 Combat Knife or Knife, Fighting Utility), and subsequently adopted by the United States Navy as the U.S. Navy Utility Knife, Mark 2.

 

15 The Night Wind - Eugene Field poem.

 

16 Expletive of your choice.

 

17 Verb - ware (third-person singular simple present wares, present participle waring, simple past and past participle wared)

  1. (obsolete) To beware of something.

18 Full angel made from marble with spread wings. Rumoured to cry during a full moon. Victim of a blue paint bomb many years ago and became known as the Blue Angel. Popular meeting spot and it is said that if you leave gifts for her she will comfort the lovelorn. Young girls frequently visit her with flowers or candy. Halloween being the most popular night to do so.

 

19 NOX ARCANA - Carnival of Lost Souls

 

 

For those that noticed, and those that didnt. Where the names of the bad guys came from.

 

Pennywise the Clown- IT (Stephen King)

Jason - Friday the 13th

Freddy - Nightmare on Elm Street

Norman - Psycho

Jack - The Shining

Carl - Re-Animator

 

The boss, remains nameless.