A Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons short-short story
for the 2003 End-Credits Challenge.
by Tiger Jackson
He’d chased Captain Black into the darkened house and into a nightmare.
Nothing behaved as it should. Floors suddenly jerked beneath his feet. Yawning pits opened in front of him. Railings delivered electric shocks. And it was dark; there was hardly enough light for a cat to see by.
He heard a scraping noise and turned to see a shadow slip through a doorway. He was immediately in pursuit. He reached the doorway in time to see Captain Black stepping out through another door. Black laughed, a low, menacing sound. “Coming, Captain Scarlet?”
He lunged into the room just as the other man slammed the door. The door Scarlet has just come through also slammed shut, leaving him in total darkness.
Without warning bright light filled the room, painfully dazzling Scarlet’s dark-adapted eyes. He was in a rectangular chamber with grey walls. The walls in front of him and behind him were plain but for the outline of a handleless door. The walls close by on either side of him were covered in foot-long metal spikes. Some of them winked in the light; the others were darkened with old and fresh red gore.
Captain Scarlet retreated to the nearer door, the one he had just come through. As he’d expected, it was sealed tight. He swung back around again.
There was a sound of crashing gears and the walls slowly began to move. Captain Scarlet braced his legs and stretched out his arms to try and hold the walls back. He knew the effort might be — probably was — futile, but to presume failure, to give up without trying was not in his nature.
He heard the machinery squeal and felt the pressure against his hands increase as the walls continued their advance. He tightened his muscles and clenched his teeth as he fought against them.
He couldn’t keep it up, not without shattering his forearms or dislocating his shoulders; he had to bend his elbows, but still he kept trying to hold the walls back. The machinery had begun to screech; the walls seemed to be coming together more slowly. A little more resistance and the machinery might burn itself out.
But the walls kept moving. His arms and legs were shaking with fatigue. Scarlet could see the tips of the spikes coming closer and closer together. In a few moments, he would feel them begin to pierce his body. He closed his eyes and braced himself for the pain.
Which never came.
He opened his eyes and watched as the spikes in front of him passed each other and nearly touched the opposing walls, which were now pressed against his shoulders. For several moments, there was complete silence. Then the walls swiftly, silently, drew back.
The door in the far wall opened and Captain Black entered. He rammed his hand against a spike. It passed right through him. “Holograms.”
“Just what was the purpose of this training exercise?” Scarlet demanded, glaring at his training officer, then answered his own question. “To use caution instead of running in blindly. To recognize that appearances can be deceptive.”
“And always try every exit to see if one is unlocked or can be forced.”
Captain Scarlet groaned. It was that simple and he had missed it. After discovering the door behind him was sealed, it had seemed logical to assume that the other would be as well. There had been two deceptions and he’d fallen for both of them. “I’ll be a lot more wary in the future.”
Captain Black gave the younger man one of his rare wintry smiles.
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