A Captain Scarlet and The Mysterons short story for Halloween
“So, what are you doing for Halloween?” asked Captain Blue.
Dr Fawn rolled his eyes, it was not the first time he’d been asked that question. “Not a damn thing,” he replied cheerfully. “In fact I won’t even be on Cloudbase for the, um, festivities.”
“You won’t?” asked Blue, surprised.
“No, Captain,” Fawn replied, “I’m taking some leave. I’m going to look up an old friend from my university days.”
“Going back home then?”
“Not exactly. Well, I’ll be in Australia but not home as such,” Fawn admitted, “I’ll be staying in Melbourne for just over a week or so.”
“Melbourne?” queried Captain Blue. “Wouldn’t a holiday further north be better? Sunny weather…sand and surf…the Gold Coast for instance, Brisbane perhaps…or somewhere even on the Great Barrier Reef.”
“No thank you. That would probably be too humid for my taste, even at this time of year,” replied Dr Fawn firmly, remembering his time at Brisbane University. “Anyway there are beaches in Victoria if I wanted to visit any, which I don’t. I have other plans.”
“It’s still fairly warm though. You could have a nice day out in the sun, where you could...” started Blue with a glint in his eye.
“Don’t say it Captain!” warned Fawn.
“…throw a shrimp on the barbie,” concluded Blue with a grin.
Dr Fawn groaned. It was an old joke, the origin of which was seemingly lost in time. Dr Fawn was firmly of the opinion whoever first thought up that line should have been shot. “You and your bloody shrimp! It’s prawns, Captain!”
“I know,” replied an amused Blue, having spent many holidays in Australia. He couldn’t resist saying it though - knowing Dr Fawn would always take the bait. “Why do you Aussies have to be so different?” he added for good measure pronouncing ‘Aussies’ with a noticeable double ‘s’ sound.
“We Aussies,” replied Fawn giving the word its distinctive ‘zz’ resonance, “can’t help it if you Yanks don’t know any better!” And that, thought Fawn, concludes the joke. I hope.
Captain Blue seemed about to reply when Dr Fawn gave him a long stare, “Well Captain, perhaps you’re here for some medical reason? Let me just look up your file…” Dr Fawn had the satisfaction of seeing the sky-blue clad Spectrum captain beat a hasty retreat. Works every time, he thought smugly as he walked back to his quarters to pack for the trip.
Dr Fawn, having arrived in Melbourne, collected his luggage, checked out of Tullamarine Airport and caught the shuttle service into the city. It was less than a week away from Halloween but unlike the captains and Angels’ decorating efforts on Cloudbase, there were no brightly coloured signs nor any typical Halloween images proclaiming the fact. What Fawn did see were banners advertising Melbourne’s Spring Racing Carnival, the recent Grand Prix Motorcycle Race and a few large posters for an opera to commence in the forthcoming week.
He looked around with interest. Melbourne might not have been his home but he’d been there a number of times during his post graduate work and later as part of the World Medical Organisation where he had taken part in many international conferences. Dr Fawn, just plain Edward Wilkie for this trip, bought a newspaper and settled into his hotel for the rest of the night. The day had been mild and the night was expected to be too. In fact the whole holiday period carried the prediction of fine weather. Just what I need, he thought, glad to breathe in crisp clear air after months of soaking in the filtered air on Cloudbase.
Dr Fawn spent the next few days visiting the sights - everything from a trip to the Penguin Parade on Philip Island to putting in some shopping time at Myer and some of the smaller specialist shops in the city. The shopping component turned into something of a trial. He had thought of buying a few momentos of the trip but finding something appropriate - that wasn’t made elsewhere in the world - or at the least could be described as ‘typically Australian’ was a lot more difficult than he imagined. It always was really, he admitted with a sigh of exasperation. He settled on a few small but select pieces of local Aboriginal art after having to conclude, regretfully, that buying any of the larger bark paintings from Arnham Land - the type commonly known as ‘x-ray art’ - was out of the question. They were simply too big to transport to Cloudbase, never mind the fact he didn’t have a wall large enough to do them justice. Dr Fawn wondered if his next trip should include visiting Arnham Land despite the certainty of stiflingly hot weather.
Pleased with his purchases nevertheless, Dr Fawn returned to the hotel and found he had several messages. The first from the senior Nursing Officer on Cloudbase had him wondering if anything was wrong. With the call put through he was greeted by the astonishing sight of a witch, or more correctly a hag, complete with fake warts, a couple of blacked out teeth and straggly greenish hair. She wished him a Happy Halloween. Fawn blinked in confusion. Truthfully, he’d forgotten all about it. “And Happy Halloween to you,” he returned laughing, noting also the pointed black hat, “I hope you are not going to visit any of my patients in that costume.”
“Spoilsport,” she returned good naturedly, “I already have and they all seemed to have survived the experience. You don’t look exactly dressed for Halloween, Edward. Not playing the role of party pooper are you?”
“Who, me? Perish the thought,” he returned, choosing not to explain - again - that he wouldn’t be celebrating the occasion.
“Hrrumph,” she answered sceptically, adding, “next year you are going to be here on Cloudbase for Halloween. OK?”
“Yes nurse,” he answered meekly, a slight smile threatening to break at any moment.
“Oh you!” she laughed. “We all miss you. The Angels and captains have asked about you too.”
“Even Captain Scarlet?” snorted Fawn. “That I don’t believe.”
“Even him,” she returned. “Uh oh, gotta go - they are forming a conga line. See you in a week Edward.” She rang off.
There were a few more calls wishing him a Happy Halloween, all of which he dutifully returned.
The final call was from his old colleague from university. Dr Joshua Greenwold worked for a prestigious international institute which specialised in cancer research. They agreed to meet the next day at his favourite eatery in Collins Street.
The next day Dr Fawn caught a tram into the city and wandered around the Block Arcade for a while, admiring the historic and very decorative mosaic tiled floor. After a quick glance at his watch he walked down the steps to the Melbournian - Josh’s favourite self-service restaurant. The Melbournian was not an exclusive establishment but a somewhat understated place done up in the style of a smorgasbord eatery of the 20th century. In fact Dr Fawn had heard it was named for and modelled on just such a popular place that had once existed nearby sometime during that era. Dr Fawn looked around and recognised his friend.
“What on earth do you see in this place?” he asked goodnaturedly, taking in the vinyl tiled floor and equally unfashionable circa 1950s style tables and chairs. Probably reproductions, he thought.
Dr Greenwold considered the question seriously. “Well,” he replied, “the food is great, it’s close to work and best of all, I can be sure of having my meal in peace as I’m certain none of my work colleagues would be seen dead here!”
“Fair enough. I suppose that makes some kind of sense,” grinned Fawn, “I notice it’s, ah, somewhat inexpensive too.”
Greenwold shrugged. “I guess so, but that’s not the reason I like it. There’s something about the ambience…”
Dr Fawn took a second glance around the room and gave him an incredulous look. “I think you must have rocks in your head,” he grimaced.
“Is that a medical opinion, Doctor?”
“Absolutely, Doctor! Now let’s go and chose a meal.”
They talked about their university days and the subsequent careers of fellow students, then about their current work. That is, Dr Greenwold did most of the talking on the subject, and Fawn said very little.
“That’s enough about me. What are you doing these days, Eddie?” Josh Greenwold asked, having finally realised he’d done nearly all of the talking for the past hour or so. “I know you left the World Medical Organisation. Still working in robotics? You seem to have vanished off the radar for a while.”
“Robotics? Not as much these days. I have my patients, but I’ve kept up with various fields of research too,” replied Fawn.
“Really? Who are you working for now?” asked Greenwold.
“Still with the World Government,” answered Fawn evasively.
“Hmmm. Not allowed to say much about it, eh?”
Dr Fawn shrugged, having decided to blur the issue a little. “It’s all the research that’s hush-hush - got to watch out for industrial espionage and the like. I’m sure you understand. There must be lucrative returns in medicine patents and so forth from any successful results of your work.”
“True enough,” agreed his friend, “I won’t ask any more questions.”
“Thanks Josh, I appreciate it.”
“Say no more. Will you be here for the Melbourne Cup?” Dr Greenwold asked.
“I’ll still be here in Melbourne but I wasn’t intending to go to the Cup, if that’s what you mean,” replied Fawn.
“But you must! I’ve been invited to attend one of the more exclusive pavilions. OK it’s got some boring old medicos and a smattering of politicians and such, but the view of the race is magnificent and the food they lay on is just fantastic. And I have a second ticket - say you’ll come along.” Greenwold enthused.
“Oh I don’t know, Josh. Horse racing is not really an interest of mine, as you know.”
“Well I’m no punter either but this is different! It’ll be a huge event,” his colleague continued, “a five star chef will be in attendance and the wine will be the very best. It’ll be fun. I went last year and had a ball.”
Fawn raised an eyebrow. “Really…?”
“Oh well, I had a ‘lady friend’ who was in the entertainment industry,” he admitted. “Very well known too, so of course she was expected to attend. I went along as her official escort. Doctors are a popular accessory you know,” he winked. “I made a few contacts, hence this year’s invitation.”
Fawn shook his head. “Wonders never cease. I’m not sure though…”
“Have a think about it anyway. A few well known research fellows will be there. Professor Kleinemann…”
“Kleinemann? I’ve just read his paper on cell regeneration!” exclaimed Fawn. “Are you sure he will be there? I’d very much like to meet him.”
“Yes, he’ll be there. He’s actually a guest of the research institute. I can guarantee he will be there.”
Fawn wavered. “OK Josh, you win - I’ll go.”
“Great! You won’t regret it Eddie. I’ll get the ticket and have it couriered to you at your hotel tomorrow.”
The night before the Melbourne Cup Dr Fawn sat up in the comfy bed of his hotel room and cheerfully planned out his itinerary for the next day. So far his holiday was going well but tomorrow might just be the icing on the cake. The night had turned colder than he expected so he turned on the heater a fraction as he sipped his cup of tea. It might be fun, he reflected, to see ‘how the other half lives’ - with the best champagne, food and goodness knows what else. The pavilion was probably sponsored by one of those big multinational pharmaceutical companies. Dr Fawn realised he had forgotten to ask. No matter - he had received the promised invitation and there was no way he was going to miss this event. Maybe he would even get the opportunity to speak privately to Professor Kleinemann about his research. He quickly jotted down some notes - just a few questions to ask the Professor if the opportunity arose. Tomorrow, thought Dr Fawn as he sleepily settled into bed, was going to be the best day ever.
The Mysterons’ tampering with the gas heating system was swift and effective. He didn’t suffer but death was inevitable, given the level of carbon monoxide. In the early morning light Fawn glanced dispassionately at the cold and stiff body lying on the bed. He had much to do.
Everything was going to plan. It was turning out to be ‘the best day’ just as he’d predicted.
A Mysteron threat had been issued the night before and Spectrum swung into action, puzzled by its meaning and completely unknowing of Dr Fawn’s fate. He had been contacted of course and had promised to cut short his leave and return to Cloudbase as soon as he was able. But the Mysterons had done well this time - Spectrum didn’t connect their message with the visiting dignitaries at the Melbourne Cup. Nor did Dr Fawn inform Spectrum he was attending the Cup Day event. It was also one of those rare times when the Mysterons’ message was full of their usual rhetoric but short on actual detail.
While Spectrum scrambled to solve the puzzle Dr Fawn arrived at the pavilion at Flemington Racecourse a little late, briefly apologising to his friend for his tardiness. “I see a few familiar faces here,” he said, “I’ll catch up with you again later.” Dr Greenwold nodded and raised a glass of champagne in toast. Dr Fawn surveyed the invited guests and noted the various personal possessions that many of the guests had carelessly placed around their seats or tucked away in the shadows and corners of the pavilion. It was going to be so easy, and once again came the unbidden thought - it would be a perfect day. Fawn noted not only were there many well known people from the medical world, but political figures including the newly appointed Minister of Health and, he noted with satisfaction, a few other senior members of both the Australian and World Governments. Professor Kleinemann didn’t rate a second glance.
Then the moment he had been waiting for arrived. As the Melbourne Cup race got underway and the horses sprang from the barriers, everyone started cheering them on. With betting slips and raised glasses of bubbly waving about in equal abandon, the noise was almost deafening as members and invited guests alike cheered and shouted encouragement at their favourites, urging them to win. Dr Fawn seized the opportunity and set the Mysterons’ plan in motion. It was quite simple and owed much to the manner of his own death. After all, it had worked so well the night before, though this time the method used wasn’t carbon monoxide. In any case before the invited race goers choked under the poisonous gas from the small but effective timed cylinders he had concealed around the pavilion, he was already well away, having vanished into the loudly applauding crowds.
This time the Mysterons won and with the possibility of further success within their grasp they ensured Fawn left Melbourne ahead of schedule. A quick call on his part ensured he was on his way back to Cloudbase itself well within the allotted 24 hours - giving him plenty of time to implement the second part of the plan.
He arrived at Spectrum Headquarters soon afterwards. The Mysterons knew it wouldn’t be long before Spectrum had all the facts and their agent would be discovered but there might just be enough time... From the shadows Dr Fawn watched with disinterest as the captains and Angels made their way to the conference room for the debrief after the news of the deaths of several prominent government figures was relayed to Colonel White. As Dr Fawn purposefully headed towards engineering, he gazed impassively up at one of the air conditioning ducts. He really didn’t like filtered air…and he had on him the means to eliminate it from Cloudbase once and for all.
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