Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons is a Gerry Anderson creation licensed by Carlton/ Granada. Gerry Anderson’s new Captain Scarlet belongs to Anderson Productions.
I am a little late with my Christmas challenge this year. I simply ran out of ideas. However, on Christmas day I watched the brilliant new Dr Who. I liked the idea of the menacing Christmas tree. Also more and more people seem to be going over the top with lights and decorations outside. Boxing Day TV was boring so I decided to write. Belated Christmas wishes to all.
Colonel White hadn’t had a Christmas furlough for the last three years, not since the threat of Mysteron attack hung menacingly over the World’s unsuspecting population. But now Christmas Eve had passed almost without incident – almost
The personnel on board Spectrum’s Cloudbase were still on red alert. At the Christmas Eve dinner everyone had been on tenterhooks. Alcohol had been forbidden, and the substitute alcohol-free wine had left the supposedly festive occasion falling rather flat. Captain Magenta, of course, was on fine form but then he no longer needed alcohol and having been a heavy drinker in his miss spent youth had vowed never to touch it again.
Every mouthful of poached salmon and asparagus mousse was swallowed with the expectation that at any moment an alarm could signal a call to action. For the past two Christmases the Mysterons had attempted to cause disruption to the planet Earth in retaliation for a misconstrued ‘attack’ on Mars.
After the pudding, Colonel White longed to be able to retire to his quarters with a good port wine and a book; but the uncertainty meant that he had not been able to go home to relax in his own home with the company of his loved ones, nor had any of his field agents.
“They’re going to do something soon I’m sure.” he remarked to the Captains Ochre and Magenta.
“Well, by my reckoning they have only another five and a half hours left. If they are planning something they usually announce it on Christmas Eve to ensure maximum chaos. ” replied Ochre.
Magenta nibbled at a mince pie. “Maybe even the Mysterons get bored with the same old routine at Christmas. They make a threat. We race around like blue-arsed flies while they sit there and laugh their socks off. Maybe the joke’s wearing a bit thin.”
“You assume that these alien beings have a sense of humour?” questioned Colonel White.
Magenta answered, “I think that if they had wanted to they could have destroyed us all the very moment Captain Black fired on their city.”
“Yes, Captain Magenta, that thought had occurred to me.”
“They even rebuilt their God-damned city in the space of ten minutes. What did they lose? Did Captain Black actually kill any of them?”
“I doubt that the city ever existed in the first place. I suspect it was some kind of hologram,” voiced Ochre.
“We now know the Mysterons’ limitation. They lack flesh and blood; that is both their strength and their weakness. They have to replicate our human bodies in order to survive in our world, without us our planet would be as useless to them as their own,” explained the colonel.
“Do you think that their ultimate goal is to take over the Earth?” asked Ochre.
Colonel White frowned. “Ask yourselves why a superior species would go to such lengths to instigate a war with us. We know their planet is barren and wasted; their species has evolved to the extent where it no longer has the need for a body. If you are an endangered species, living on a ravaged and plundered planet, what would you do if you had the technology?”
“So it’s a question of when, rather than if? That’s a very sobering thought for Christmas.”
The epaulettes on Colonel White’s shoulders began to flash. The colonel activated a tiny microphone secreted in his lapel. Lieutenant Green’s voice could be clearly heard.
“Colonel White, Captains Blue and Scarlet have just returned from their reconnaissance flight.”
“Anything to report?”
Colonel White rose from the dining room and made his way to the control room where Captains Blue and Scarlet were waiting.
“I think we can stand down to amber alert. We have Harmony and Melody Angels on standby. Rhapsody and Destiny are resting. Captain Scarlet, I would like you to take over until I return.”
“Sir, does this mean that you will be re-instating Christmas Leave?”
“Yes, Captain Blue, so if you would like to spend a little time with your family, you have my permission.”
“Thank you, sir.”
“As for you, Captain Scarlet, only you and Captain Grey will know of my location over the next few days.”
“Enjoy your holiday, Sir; you’ve earned it.”
“Holiday? It’s not exactly a holiday. I have family commitments.”
“I see, Sir.” Captain Scarlet was well aware that Colonel White had been widowed in his early fifties and had no children. However he did have an elderly father who lived alone. The colonel’s eighty-two year old father was once an eminent Professor of Mathematics, but now his forgetful and erratic behaviour was causing the colonel concern.
Colonel White retreated to the privacy of his quarters and changed in to civilian clothes. He hastily threw a few things in to a holdall. He glanced at his watch - it was seven-forty-five. He then put out a call to his father, via his encoded private line. His father seemed to be in good spirits and was especially pleased to have his son home for the Christmas festivities.
After speaking to his housekeeper and ensuring that his father had taken his diabetic medication, Colonel White sat at his burnished walnut desk. A wave of exhaustion swept over him. He had a stack of routine paperwork to plough through before his flight. He shuffled a pile of papers, put on his reading glasses and started to wade through four pages of an incident report.
It was late evening when Colonel White found himself getting out of a taxi in a familiar North London Street. A light dusting of snow had fallen, the streets were filled with Christmas revellers, and many parties were in full swing. It was good to be home again.
He hoped that his housekeeper would have a roaring fire waiting for him. His father had taken up residence in the spare double room. His father’s carer had the room across the landing. The colonel’s arrival would give her the opportunity to spend some time with her own family.
Colonel White paid the taxi driver, who smiled broadly as he received a large tip.
“Thank you, Sir, Merry Christmas,” he called.
“Likewise,” replied Colonel White although he hadn’t really enjoyed the taxi ride. The back seats of the taxi had been covered with protective plastic covers, in preparation for all the drunks the taxi driver would have to ferry home later that evening. Colonel White had slid from one side of the taxi to the other with every roundabout his driver negotiated. However, he did not wish to draw attention to himself by arriving in a Spectrum staff car.
Colonel White stopped in his tracks. The house should have looked familiar but it didn’t, for a moment he wondered if he was in the right street.
“Good Lord!” exclaimed Colonel White.
The large semi-detached Georgian house in front of him was festooned with garish coloured lights. A ten-foot inflatable Santa Claus, pinned down by tent pegs was wobbling on the front lawn. Next to the giant Santa was a giant snowman with a maniacal grinning face. A rope of strobe lighting illuminated the guttering. A cut-out Santa and three reindeers were picked out in white lights as if they were galloping across the rooftop. The whole display was set off by fake snow. Colonel White could not have been more shocked if he had found a Mysteron space ship parked on the front lawn.
“What the hell is going on?”
“Surprise!” Colonel White’s father opened the door to welcome him.
“What have you done to my house?”
The old man beamed proudly. “I wanted to make it look Christmassy.”
“You climbed up on to the roof?” Colonel White shook his head in disbelief. “You could have broken your neck!”
“Of course I didn’t climb on the roof, I had help.”
The colonel began to fear that his father really was losing his marbles.
“You shouldn’t have gone to all this trouble. You really shouldn’t.”
“Son, this is the first Christmas you’ve had at home for ages.”
“Well, I could be recalled at any moment.”
“It doesn’t matter. As far as I’m concerned Christmas starts now. Come inside; I’ve arranged a surprise. I’m going to make it the best Christmas ever.”
Colonel White groaned. With cries of ‘surprise’ long-lost relatives leapt from every corner of the woodwork. Colonel White would have given anything for a Mysteron red alert.
A tipsy, elderly aunt planted a kiss on his cheek. “I haven’t seen you since you were sixteen,” she cooed.
Who were all those people?
He recognised a few, but they couldn’t all be relatives. So much for worrying that his elderly father was going to spend Christmas alone.
He drew his father aside. “Who are all these people? What are they doing in my house?”
“You don’t mind, do you? The more the merrier, I say. This is a big house, too big for the two of us. It needs the sound of laughter. To tell you the truth, I found it a little spooky when I was here on my own. So, I invited your Aunt Ethel, Cousin Barry and his wife, Marcia with their children: Miles, Hamish and Ruby. I couldn’t invite Ethel without inviting Flora and George, and I couldn’t invite Flora and George and leave out Hannah and Peter.”
“So who are the rest?”
“Flora’s in-laws, Pamela and Martin, and a few of my friends from the ‘Evergreen Club’.”
Colonel White was unimpressed. “I was hoping for a spot of rest and recuperation.”
“You work far too hard. You need to let your hair down once in a while.”
“So where is Mrs Braithwaite?”
“I gave her the night off, but she left a cold buffet if you’re feeling peckish.”
“No, I’m not hungry. I thought we would be on our own. I was looking forward to some peace and quiet.”
“Not being a party pooper is he?” said a tipsy pensioner smelling strongly of sherry. She placed a red party hat on top of Colonel White’s thatch of silver hair. “There, that’s better. Put the carols on, Edna, let’s get the party started.”
“What would you like, Audrey?” called Edna.
“Anything by Cliff Richard; have you got ‘Mistletoe and Wine’?”
“I’ve got the wine. But who’s got the mistletoe? Who is that handsome man you’ve got your paws on, Audrey? You’re not going to keep him all to yourself, I hope.”
‘Oh, good grief,’ thought Colonel White, although he masked his misgivings with a forced smile.
“It’s Harry’s son, Charles; he’s home for Christmas.”
“How rude of me!” exclaimed Colonel White’s father. “You must allow me to introduce you.”
“If it’s alright with you, I’d like to freshen up a bit and unpack my things.”
“You go straight up. See you later.”
Colonel White sought sanctuary in his room. He put his head in his hands and sighed. He really didn’t need this. His bedroom faced the street and was lit up like Blackpool illuminations. Heaven knows how he was going to sleep with those infernal strobe lights flickering, and it must be costing a fortune in electricity. He would have words with his father after the party and try to persuade him to turn them off. Colonel White pulled the curtains together but the light still shone through. It was beginning to give him a migraine. He drew them again and decided to throw a blanket over the curtain pole. Then something caught his eye. The snowman had moved.
Colonel White knew he was stone cold sober. The snowman had definitely moved. It had been facing the road and standing next to the giant inflatable Santa, but now it was facing his window, almost as if it was watching him with its cold black eyes. Its lurid red mouth set in a twisted grin. The colonel shuddered; the ridiculous thing was going to come down the very moment he had finished unpacking.
He felt angry with Mrs Braithwaite, who was supposed to be looking after his father. How could she have let him do this? His so-called friends must have put him up to it. His once brilliant father now had an almost child-like naivety. Colonel White had tried to hide his father’s condition as best he could, but this would surely have made him the laughing stock of the whole street.
Having secured the blanket, he pulled the curtains to. He noticed that the Santa Claus was now facing the same direction as the snowman. The wind must have moved them, he concluded, either that or I’m in the early stages of Alzheimer’s too.
Colonel White took as long as he could to unpack, anything to delay having to go downstairs and face Edna with her bunch of mistletoe. He had a wash and a shave and noticed how the temperature had suddenly dropped. He turned the light off in the bathroom; he might as well try to save electricity where he could. He noticed lights travelling slowly across the bathroom wall, circular like car headlights, but they were not headlights – they were green.
This is the voice of the Mysterons. You will not escape us Colonel White. We know where you live. We will be avenged.
Colonel White ran back to his bedroom and pulled back the curtains. The snowman’s face was pressed close to the glass, distorted in a grotesque way. Colonel White took his communicator and called Cloudbase.
“Lieutenant Green. This is a red alert. I am under attack from the Mysterons. I need immediate assistance.”
“Sir, I have Harmony and Melody Angels standing by. What is their target, Sir?”
“A giant snowman and a Santa Claus in the front garden of 25 Fortesque Gardens, NW2.”
Lieutenant Green nearly fell off his chair laughing. “Good one, sir.”
“This isn’t a joke, Lieutenant. Let me speak to Captain Scarlet.”
“He’s gone to bed, Sir.”
“But he’s supposed to be in command. What about Captain Ochre or Captain Grey?”
Suddenly there was a static crackle and all communications failed. Downstairs there came a piercing scream.
Colonel White raced downstairs to find a prostrate Edna lying in the hallway. Her friend Audrey was kneeling down beside her, patting her hand.
“She opened the door for a breath of fresh air … and ... and …there was this horrible thing…”
“Don’t open the doors. Close all the doors and windows. Nobody must go outside,” ordered Colonel White.
“What was it?” asked Aunt Ethel in alarm.
“We are under attack from an alien life form that is able to replicate any human being, but first it must kill.”
Ethel let out a shriek, her glass of rum and blackcurrant fell to the floor. A sticky red stain seeped into the parquet flooring.
“Now, we mustn’t panic. Help is on the way. We must keep them out of the house.” Colonel White dragged a display cabinet across the hall and put it in front of the door. “Everyone help me. We must stop them getting inside. Barricade the French windows. Someone check on the back door.”
“The letterbox!” someone screamed.
Colonel White turned to see white icy fingers snaking through the letterbox. He could hear the sound of fingernails scraping on the door.
“Dammit, we need Harmony and Melody!”
“This is a fine time to be complaining about the carol singing,” remarked Cousin Barry. “If that thing gets inside we’ll all have to start singing ‘Abide with me.’
Colonel White made a desperate attempt to contact Cloudbase again. “We need assistance now. This is an emergency.”
Suddenly the icy fingers retreated through the letter box. The scratching stopped. It all went quiet.
Colonel White’s attention was drawn to the hearth. Flames from a coal fire were flickering in the grate. As he watched, the flames started to die down. Soon they were extinguished. Suddenly a heavy soot fall startled him.
“They’re coming down the chimney,” Ethel screamed.
“Light the fire. Light the fire,” yelled Cousin Barry.
“It’s too late … look.”
Two large black boots appeared in the grate. The ten foot tall inflatable Santa Claus squeezed itself out of the fireplace. When it drew itself up to its full height its head touched the ceiling. Aunt Ethel fainted.
A deep voice rumbled from the effigy’s fat red belly. “There is no escape, Earthlings. People of the Earth will surrender to the Mysterons.”
“Never!” shouted Colonel White. “We will never surrender!”
“Colonel White,” it was Captain Scarlet.
“Thank goodness!” muttered the colonel.
“I’m sorry, sir. I didn’t quite catch that.”
Colonel White shook his head. The first thing he saw was the pile of papers on his desk. When Captain Scarlet had opened the door some of the papers had been wafted on to the floor.
“I… er …”
Captain Scarlet smiled. It was obvious to him that the Colonel had momentarily nodded off. “I just wanted to let you know that Captain Grey has the Spectrum helicopter standing by… when you’re ready.”
“Very good, Captain Scarlet. Tell Captain Grey I’ll be with him in a minute.”
“Just as long as you don’t nod off again, Sir,” replied Scarlet impishly.
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