A Captain Scarlet & The Mysterons short story
Lady Dianne ‘Rhapsody’ Simms gazed around the untidy and dusty room and sighed. She pushed a stray hair back from across her face and discovered that the rubber band she had used to secure her hair had worked loose. She pulled it off, wincing as it caught on and caused some of the fine red strands to break. Not finding a brush handy she once again roughly pulled her hair back into a ponytail and looped the rubber band around it several times until it was tight.
Overall, the years had been kind to her. True, her face was no longer as smooth as it was in her youth but the lines were slight, her skin was clear, the colour of her hair had dulled a little but there was no sign of grey, and her large clear blue eyes with those impossibly long lashes had remained her best feature. People still noticed her eyes.
It is very hard work dusting off the cobwebs, she thought dryly, having brought yet another box of indeterminate documents or photos or something down from the attic. Dianne wasn’t sure what was in the box but she had set herself the task of clearing out the attic prior to sale and this was the last ‘UFO’ - Unidentified Forgotten Object - to be examined.
In the room were two clear piles - items to be retained and those that could be thrown out. Dianne was pleased to see there were more things in the ‘throw out pile’ than the ‘to be retained’ one. She’d been sorting through boxes all day. By the early evening it had begun to grow dark and a little cold. Using a fair amount of the ‘to be discarded’ paperwork, she had lit a fire and paused for a moment in front of the old fireplace to watch the growing flames. Dianne pulled a chair closer, sat down and reached out towards the warmth. She was quite alone and the fire caused strange shadows to dance around the walls, but familiarity made the room seem cosy and welcoming to her. I will really miss this place, she thought regretfully.
Nevertheless, after a week of sifting through a lifetime of memories, Dianne was also quite glad that it was finally coming to an end. Moving to a smaller house had been the catalyst and she had believed, quite naively, that it wouldn’t take her very long to be packed and ready to go. Certainly when she had lived on Cloudbase space was at a premium, and she had got into the habit of questioning every item she considered buying. Was it really necessary, and more importantly, where was she going to store it if she did buy it? But that was a long time ago.
Once she retired from Spectrum and moved back to the family home, over the years she had gradually and unconsciously added to the inherited collection of furniture, silver, china and crystal, paintings and assorted miscellaneous items that generations of the Simms family had acquired.
Now it was time to let go.
Everything of value had been sold, given to friends, or in some cases, donated to grateful museums. Anything not of significant value but still useful had been donated to charity. She kept only what mattered to her, a few favourite pieces to decorate her new home, and photos and documents relating to the Simms family. Dianne had drawn up a will to ensure they would go to a distant branch of the family at her death, for she was the last of her line, having never married.
Now for this box, Dianne squared her shoulders with determination. With practiced ease she ran the knife through the bands of packaging tape and pulled back the flaps. It’s full of old newspapers, she thought with disappointment, wondering why she felt so deflated when sorting through the box would probably be a quick and easy task. I suppose it’s a bit anticlimactic, considering this is the last box, she concluded wryly. Yellowed with age and fragile in places, fragments of the papers showed evidence of insect damage and more. Carefully she lifted up the first few editions and discovered one issue had been encased in a protective sleeve and was therefore not nearly as fragile as the rest. Gently she eased the document out of its yellowed covering and gasped. The colours on the front page were as fresh and vibrant as when they had been printed.
Dianne gazed at the solemn features of a man she had not thought about in years. Captain Scarlet. She let her thoughts drift back to when she was in Spectrum. We had such high hopes and plans for the future, she thought. But the Mysterons put paid to that. She let the paper slip through her fingers as she shook her head sadly as though to dust off more of those cobwebs. It was a long time ago and any bitterness she might have once felt had gradually changed to dull acceptance. The future they had planned together simply wasn’t to be.
For a moment Dianne closed her eyes tightly and in her mind’s eye lived again what had been Spectrum’s most important mission. The mission that had sent Paul to Mars. The Mysterons had issued a threat so serious that Colonel White had wondered if they had grown impatient with their ‘war of nerves’. The World Government came to the same conclusion and the World President authorised another investigation of the Mysteron Complex, this time with a ‘secret weapon’. One that all the scientific minds were confident would work. And of course, it was a forgone conclusion that Captain Scarlet was the man to undertake the mission. And he was keen to go, she thought tenderly. Dianne remembered his final words to her; that after it was all over and the Mysterons were finally destroyed, Spectrum could return to its original purpose and maybe - just maybe - they could get married. Laughingly, she had agreed.
She was on duty in Angel One when Scarlet left Cloudbase. It didn’t worry either of them as they had said their goodbyes the night before, and besides, he was ‘very confident of success’ and would be back on Cloudbase very soon. And he was right, she admitted, about the mission being a success, anyway.
What the secret weapon was exactly, Dianne never knew. It worked though. That last Mysteron threat came to nothing and deafening silence was all they ever heard from Mars from that moment on. But the mission wasn’t quite over, as Spectrum waited and she waited. And gradually the realisation came to all of them that Captain Scarlet was never coming back.
But life had to go on and just as Paul had predicted, Spectrum returned to its original purpose of fighting terrorism. Dianne Simms had stayed on as Rhapsody Angel, eventually exchanging her usual flying duties for those of senior flying instructor. In the end though, even that had palled, and she resigned her commission and returned to the family home and the job she was originally qualified to do - law.
And now here I am, she mused. Ready to begin a new phase in my life.
Calmly she reached down and picked up the old newspaper, and with one last glance at the man in the scarlet uniform, she threw it into the fire.
Author’s notes: This story is based around one of my favourite TV21 covers - Issue 141.
Any comments? Send an E-MAIL to the SPECTRUM HEADQUARTERS site