A New Captain Scarlet Christmas Story
This fan fiction is dedicated to Sky who unfortunately slipped away on the 23rd December
As a child, I was told a great deal of things, but the one thing I learned and know too well now in the present, is that those who have died never abandon you for a second.
“Dammit it! Not Again!”
This was Captain Scarlet’s initial reaction when he realised what had happened. Once again he was free of his body. Once again he was a ghost.
He tried to recall what had happened to him on this occasion that allowed his soul to be released from his body’s normally strong grip. At that precise moment in time, his memories seemed determined to evade him, deny him access to the recollections of his latest death. On Christmas day of all days! Why couldn’t the Mysterons take a holiday like humans did?
That triggered his memories. Scarlet was able to recall everything. He had chased a Mysteron agent through a car production line when a second agent had activated some lasers. Lasers that quickly went out of control when she smashed up the console controlling them. The lasers had sliced through him several times before he got his hands on the female agent and succeeded in getting rid of her, drowning her in a large vat of boiling liquid. He didn’t notice the second agent sneak up on him and throw him into the path of a laser. It sliced straight through his body armour and burnt his skin and flesh. Weakened, Scarlet didn’t have the speed to counter the male agent’s next attack but was able to kick him into the path of a laser and he was sliced in two.
But that wasn’t the end of it. Fine, the lasers had seriously injured him, and would’ve caused him to bleed to death, but that couldn’t possibly cause him to separate from his body. The injuries weren’t severe enough. Scarlet’s next blurry memory was of a bomb ticking down its final seconds. His final breathing memory came to him. He remembered a bright white flash. The bomb had detonated. There was no chance he could have survived the blast of the explosion. He was too close and too injured to be able to save himself.
They say you should celebrate Christmas with a bang, but it wasn’t the type of bang Scarlet would have chosen. Now he was stuck in ghost form for a few hours. Plenty of time to think over what Dr Gold had hypothesised after the previous happening.
Dr Gold had been extremely useful in helping Captain Scarlet understand why this ‘separation’ happened. He’d always closely monitored the agent whenever he was dead, and with that monitoring, he had come to a conclusion.
When a death was due to extensive injuries, Scarlet’s retrometabolism ‘kicked out’ his soul so it can draw on all his body’s strength to start healing the internal damage. Gold had hypothesised that the body retained energy to keep his soul within it, but in dire times, this energy was required for the retrometabolic process. On the third occasion, Dr Gold had observed that during the time Scarlet was disembodied, his retrometabolism was at its most active. When all internal damage had been fixed, his body regained its strength and called his soul back.
Scarlet would then regain a pulse and heart rate, along with cerebral activity and wake up a few minutes later, drained of energy and visibly marked with any external injuries. Given a few hours, these would fade. There were a couple of things of the process that Dr Gold found puzzling and continued his investigations. The one being that on several occasions, Scarlet’s body had twitched or moved slightly, but the reason was unclear. Another was how exactly his soul was called back.
Scarlet looked down and saw his body, lying dead and broken, covered in blood-stained bandages. The monitor next to him showed only flat lines. He was dead, yet his unconscious self was ‘alive’ in a way never witnessed before. Scarlet allowed himself a small smile. His retrometabolism had finally kicked in. Given a few hours, his body would be pulling him back from wherever he was and a few minutes later, he would wake up, very much alive.
Dr Gold walked right through him and shivered violently.
“Sorry Doc! Didn’t hear you come in,” apologised Scarlet, but he knew it was pointless doing so. Dr Gold couldn’t hear him, let alone see him, but he could sure detect him.
Gold looked in Scarlet’s direction. His expression was visibly relaxed. “So you’ll be back with us soon then? That’s good news, Captain, now kindly stick to the agreement we have, I would hate for anyone else to receive the shivers if they come and check on you.”
Scarlet touched Gold’s arm twice to say he acknowledged him, before heading for his quarters. That was the agreement. Scarlet had given Gold and other members of the medical team cold spells by accident on previous occasions, so he had agreed with Gold to go and wait it out in his quarters.
Sometimes, Blue was in Sickbay at the time and Scarlet would grab his attention the only way he knew how: touching him, which would give him a chill to the spine. Blue would then join Scarlet in his quarters and just talk. It was reassuring for both of them. However, Blue wasn’t in Sickbay at the moment.
Before he left the room, Scarlet spun on his heel and turned to look at his body once more. Dr Gold was placing an oxygen mask over his mouth in preparation for the moment he would revive.
Scarlet left. He shivered as he left Sickbay. He wasn’t cold; he was just a little scared that one day, he wouldn’t recover, that he’d remain a ghost forever, trapped in a world that wasn’t his. He walked down the corridor. He preferred to walk in them rather than go through walls and doors to get to his destination. He saw a lift ahead. All he could do was wait for it to stop on his deck, as he couldn’t operate the controls. He knew he was in luck, when he saw the lift arrive.
“Don’t worry, he’ll recover, he’ll be fine.”
Destiny Angel moved her head to the side, so she wasn’t facing Rhapsody who had her arm wrapped around her shoulders. Rhapsody smiled weakly.
“He should be here, alive, today of all days…” whispered Destiny.
“Who knew that the Mysterons would pick Christmas day, darling?”
Scarlet felt heartbroken.
“Those cruel, cold-hearted bastards. Except they don’t even have hearts.”
There was silence between the two Angels.
“Are you going to be okay while I collect my sister from the end of her shift?” asked Rhapsody.
Destiny nodded. “I’ll be fine,” she said strongly, wiping the tears out of her eyes.
Rhapsody nodded her head and left the lift. She accidentally stepped through Scarlet and shivered. She, like Gold, turned to look at him.
“Just be there for her,” she whispered to him, so low that Destiny didn’t hear her. She then turned and headed for Sickbay.
Rhapsody knew a lot about his ‘separations’. She was a close friend of Scarlet’s, and he had told her about them when he needed someone to confide in, aside from Blue.
Scarlet quickly stepped into the lift. He guessed that Destiny had come off patrol, learned from Blue what had happened on the mission, and had gone to Sickbay to see for herself. After that, he guessed that she’d gone to find one of the other Angels to talk to. Rhapsody had obviously been the first one she’d bumped into, or she’d actively sought after her. Out of the Angels, Rhapsody was the closest to Destiny.
She had been crying. Her eyes were slightly red and puffy. How Scarlet longed to wrap Destiny up in his arms and assure her that he was okay. But how were things okay? He had hoped he wouldn’t have to pass through Sickbay so he could spend Christmas Day with her, in his quarters that Destiny had insisted on decorating. She was off duty for the rest of day. It was one o’clock when Scarlet last saw the time, in Sickbay, on Dr Gold’s watch. He guessed it was one fifteen now. He and Destiny hadn’t seen much of each other because of one thing or another, and time spent together seemed to last mere seconds. The Mysterons really knew how to throw a spanner in the works.
Destiny brushed a few stray hairs away from her face. Scarlet thought about how pretty she looked. He couldn’t help it. He reached out and stroked her face. She tilted her head and smiled.
“Hello, Paul,” she whispered.
“Hello, Simone,” he replied quietly, letting his ghost hand trace her cheek. How he HATED being a ghost!
The doors opened and Destiny got off, but before she did, she pressed a button on the panel that would take the lift to the deck Scarlet’s quarters were on. He was grateful.
The lift didn’t stop once and soon Scarlet found himself in his quarters. He walked straight through the door without a second’s thought. This didn’t bother him in the slightest now. He was so wound up thinking about Destiny, he failed to notice the presence in his room.
Scarlet spun round in shock and gasped. For a few seconds, he opened his mouth but then closed it again. He couldn’t believe who he was seeing, right there in his quarters.
Tom Metcalfe nodded and took a step towards his son. Scarlet backed off a little, shaking his head.
“No, you’re not real. You’ve been dead for years, you can’t possibly…” His sentence died on his lips.
“I am real, Paul. Yes I died, but with respect, son, you’re dead too.”
Tom Metcalfe took another step forward. Scarlet was shaking, and in his unease and wish to stay away from this ghost, he walked through his desk unknowingly. He found the situation incomprehensible. Surely not, after all this time? His mind was playing tricks on him, indubitably. Tom Metcalfe was dead and buried alongside his wife, Ann. They had been killed by terrorists.
“Paul?” asked Tom, uncertain. He feared Paul would react this way if he saw him. “Are you alright, son?”
“No, Well, yes, but…you’re a ghost. You’ve been dead for years! I was at the funerals! I saw yours and Mom’s bodies get lowered into the ground!” Shock still had a strong hold of him and Tom could see this. It wasn’t very often your deceased father came back and said hello like this, or more correctly, it wasn’t very often your child would be dead for a while and then go back to the land of the living.
“And all this time your mother and I have been watching over you, Carrie and Mikey. We never stopped loving you, son.”
Scarlet stopped backing off. He knew that sooner or later he would pass through the bulkhead, and then either fall sixty thousand feet to the ground or just float around in the air: neither sounded appealing.
He was starting to make sense of the situation. He had a strong feeling that this was his father; the one and only. He stopped and looked at him; dark-haired, blue-eyed, tall and wearing his International Space Agency uniform.
“It is you, Dad,” whispered Scarlet in realisation. “I’m not dreaming this. You are really here.”
His father beckoned him to come nearer as they were currently standing at opposite ends of his quarters.
Scarlet stepped right up to his father and looked into his eyes. It was him.
“Paul… It’s been too long, son,” Tom whispered before embracing his son tightly.
Scarlet was slightly surprised that his father was ‘solid’ and didn’t pass through him, but realised at that point how much he’d missed him. A tear rolled down his cheek; Tom realised this and just held him tighter.
“It is me, Paul. Really, it is, I’m here for you.”
Tom released him and looked him in the eyes; he saw the relief in them. That relief told Tom that his son believed him. Tom Metcalfe knew about the Mysterons, and how they’d changed Paul.
“Why are you here, Dad? Why tonight?” asked Scarlet.
“I was as surprised as you were, the first time it happened. I knew if I’d tried to approach you, you would have reacted the way you did just. Your mother would have done the same thing; mind you, so would I. I had to give you time to feel a little at ease with this…existence.”
Scarlet nodded. “Do you know why this happens, Dad?”
Metcalfe stared deep into his eyes, a way a parent does when they knew something was really pestering their child. “I know everything.” He maintained his stare. “I know about the Mysterons, I know what they did to you and the war you’re fighting. I’ve always been here for you, son, watching out for you. I couldn’t just ignore your suffering.”
“I’m not suffering!” argued Scarlet.
Tom frowned and gave Scarlet some space to breathe. “Yes, you are, Paul, and don’t deny it either. You are hurting inside. This whole experience is hurting you, knowing you will wake up in Sickbay, to what? Science vultures? .” Tom walked towards the windows and looked out. Scarlet dropped his gaze. “I confess your medical officer is a fine man who respects you and does he best to make sure you don’t feel like a laboratory experiment, but is that enough?” He turned to look at his son. Scarlet’s eyes were fixed on the floor. Tom smiled sadly and used a softer tone. “I’ve seen the hurt in your eyes when you wish me and your mother were here to talk to you. Well, talk to me, Paul, I’m here. What really happens in your head after the job is done?”
Scarlet hesitated before looking up. “I just get on with the job.”
“You’re not Vulcan, you are permitted emotions and you do have them, Paul. And don’t give me the crap about military training, as I’ve been there myself, remember?”
Scarlet smirked at the reference to the unemotional alien species that appeared on the various episodes of the old TV series Star Trek. He also smirked at his father’s humour. He definitely got that off his father.
“It scares me a little at times,” he confessed.
“Why does it scare you?” asked Tom, returning to his son’s side.
Again Scarlet hesitated. “I have nightmares, sometimes, about falling under the Mysterons’ influence, losing my friends, losing Destiny, not being able to win the war. All sorts.”
“All fear,” Tom replied.
Scarlet agreed before looking at his father, puzzlement written all over his face. “Dad? Do you see me as a freak?”
Tom Metcalfe looked alarmed. “Paul, never! You by no means asked for what the Mysterons did to you. What they did was pure evil. You’re not a freak, son. Never! I’m so proud to call you my son. Come here.”
Metcalfe quickly held close Scarlet close to him. So this was the crux of it; deep down, his son felt he was a freak. Tom just knew something grave was upsetting him, burning him deep from within.
“You’re proud of me?” he heard him mutter.
“Pride of a father, Paul,” he replied.
“Even though I didn’t follow in your footsteps?”
Tom looked his son in the eye. “You became your own man, Paul. You made a decision that was entirely your own. I’m proud you did that. I’ll always be proud of you. Human-Mysteron hybrid, I don’t care, and neither does your mother. You are our son, Paul Metcalfe, and that is who you will be forever more. No one can ever change that. Not Captain Black, not these meddling Martians on that bloody red planet. No one and nothing can change the fact you’re human, and don’t you dare say otherwise, young man! You’re no freak; you’re just a changed man. There is a big difference.” Tom watched him, in case he argued back. He didn’t.
“Now,” said Tom changing the subject, “ Paul, you’re planning to ask the big question?”
Scarlet found himself laughing. He never realised that this was what he needed, but it made him understand. His father still loved him, loved him for who he was, despite having a retrometabolised body. That was what he needed, after all this time. He had spent ages looking for that part that made him feel truly human, and it was summed up in a few words. He didn’t know how he could ever thank his father; he was dead after all.
“Paul?” asked Tom, seeing he was distracted.
“Sorry, Dad, just thinking.”
“Thinking how foolish you feel, going on the pretence that you’re a freak and should be isolated? Heck, flirting? Having friends? Falling in love? Human qualities, son, not Mysteron qualities,” he pointed out.
Both father and son shared a laugh. Tom placed a hand on his shoulder. “What would your mother say if she was here?” Tom asked him.
“Like father, like son?” suggested Scarlet.
Tom nodded in agreement. “Probably would say that actually. You think like her, always have done.”
“Where is Mom, Dad?” he asked.
“With your sister and nephew. She’s watching over them, but that is beside the point. I asked you a question, young man.”
“Yeah,” replied Scarlet sheepishly.
“Destiny Angel, eh? Nice girl.”
Scarlet looked shocked that he knew already. Tom tapped his nose. “I’m your father, I know everything.”
Scarlet grinned. “I guess so.”
“She’s a nice woman, Paul. She loves you, and if anyone is likely to think you’re a freak, it’d be her. And does she see you as a freak?”
“Exactly, you’re as human as she is. So what if you have a Mysteronized body? The fact is your soul is human, and nothing will ever change that,” Tom reminded him. “Destiny is a strong woman who fell in love with you after the war with these Martians started. You’ve seen the war from the beginning. You two are so close, and you’ve seen the chance to further bind your lives together. She’ll accept; you’ve been together long enough now. And if she doesn’t accept, then something is seriously wrong with her head,” Tom Metcalfe smirked.
Scarlet felt his eyes beginning to fill with tears. Not sad tears. Happy tears. Yes, his father, despite being a ghost, hadn’t changed in the slightest. He was the same warm character he always had been.
“Just remember to save me and your mother seats, young man, or the next time you become a ghost, you’ll have to contend with me giving you an ear full,” his father warned.
“Don’t worry, Dad, I’ll never forget. I’m glad you’re so sure.”
Tom shrugged his shoulders. “So are you. You just haven’t realised it yet.”
Scarlet frowned in confusion. Tom laughed lightly and tapped his nose. “Parents always know what their children are thinking, even if they don’t know themselves.”
Scarlet looked around his room absentmindedly. Was that a pull he just felt? He looked at his hand and saw it fade a little then return to normal. His body was calling him back. It had healed the internal damage.
“Oi! Get back here, you little rascal. I’ve not finished talking to you yet.” Tom said jokily, seeing his son fade a little.
Scarlet looked at him. “It’s time for me to return, like it or not, Dad.”
“I know,” replied Tom, smiling.
The two hugged tightly. “You’ve grown up so darned fast, but we’re so proud of you, son.”
“I’m proud of you too, Dad.”
The two separated as Scarlet faded again. Tom didn’t let go of his hand.
“Yes, the father becomes the son. Merry Christmas, Paul, and give my greetings to Destiny.”
“Will do.” Tom let go of him as he started to disappear. “Merry Christmas, Dad, and say that to Mom for me, and Carrie and Mikey. I’ll visit them when I can.”
“Will do, son, have a good day now.”
Scarlet disappeared from view. Back to his body. Tom stood transfixed for a second before shifting his eyes to look at the floor and turned to look outside, through a porthole. The night was clear, the moon full and the view breathtaking.
“Incredible, isn’t it?”
Tom nodded, not bothering to look at the ghost who had just joined him. “No luck this night?”
“No, their influence was too strong again.”
“Don’t worry, one day you’ll be able to return to your body and stay there.”
“If their control over my body falters forever,” the ghost replied gloomily.
Tom turned to look at him. “Conrad, you’ll return one day. Trust me, son, you will.”
Conrad Lefkon didn’t feel any better about it. He felt worse. He hated what the Mysterons had done to him. Killed him, then used his body; but he kept fighting them, desperately trying to regain control of what was rightly his. But there was one thing he wanted more. A goal that was easier to get - or was it?
“You want to tell him,” Tom said, reading Conrad’s facial expression. “You want to tell him so badly, show him what the Mysterons have done to you, but you can’t, not without making him panic, and then of course, there is Destiny.”
Conrad nodded then bowed his head. He knew he wasn’t the original Mysteron agent; Scarlet had been. So when Captain Black had died and had watched his coffin get lowered into the ground, he hadn’t felt any anger or desperation to return to his body. He hadn’t even know what the Mysterons had planned at that point, hadn’t known what had changed about Scarlet.
But his heart did go out to Destiny and even though he had accepted her relationship with his best friend, part of him still longed for her company. He’d lost out. That would make the transition, when it came, much harder, for all of them.
“I feel like the third Christmas spirit from ‘A Christmas Carol’, the one who shows the future. He doesn’t speak, but he shows what is to come.” He looked at Tom. “At the moment, my words fall on deaf ears, because people can’t hear ghosts. So I don’t speak, if you get what I mean.”
“But I show what is to come, just by being a ghost. Sooner or later, I will return to my body, hopefully, and life as a living being will be so much harder when I breathe again. People won’t trust me, won’t believe me. That is the Christmas yet to come, the one where I will be treated with suspicion. And then there is Simone…”
“Christmas has its own magic, Conrad. Would you want Destiny to grieve over you forever?” Tom asked him.
“No,” came the quick reply.
“Christmas is a magical time. Magical time for us spirits as the gate between our dimension and the living world is open so we don’t have to squeeze through the gaps, but most importantly, it’s a magical time for the living. I will never quite forget the time I saw Paul’s face light up when he got a new bike for Christmas once, or when I got him the gaming system he’d always wanted. One day, Paul will see his children opening their Christmas presents, and feeling that lovely warm feeling all children should feel. Christmas is a time for family and for being together…”
“And Paul will be with Simone.”
“And we are here too,” added Tom swiftly. “I know you suffered an unhappy childhood, Conrad.”
“Now that’s an understatement.”
“But those you love are always there for Christmas,” Tom finished, interrupting the younger man.
“It’s not just about family and presents,” stated Conrad. Tom looked at him curiously. “Today is a special day. Jesus was born today, shepherds watch their flocks at night, the angels sang in the night sky, and the wise men travelled following a bright star.”
Tom nodded. Yes, Christmas was truly a special time, and even if some forgot the true meaning, there were those who always put it first. Conrad was one of those men.
“Merry Christmas, Tom.”
“Merry Christmas, Conrad.”
“Hey, buddy,” whispered Blue.
Destiny grasped his hand and held it tightly; looking down at the man she loved.
Dr Gold saw Scarlet was coming round and entered the room. One of his nurses was already attending to him, but Gold knew that the nurse was tried and worn out. She’d been looking after Scarlet ever since the Swift had brought him back to base.
Now Scarlet’s two tired blue eyes had emerged from behind bruised lids and looked blankly up at the ceiling.
“Have the rest of the day off, Cassidy,” Gold whispered to the nurse. She looked at him, then nodded tiredly. She finished adjusting the IV drip before leaving. Blue and Destiny both nodded their thanks at her and Nurse Foster-Finch left for her quarters. She would’ve gone off duty earlier but she placed Scarlet’s care before her own needs.
“Destiny,” Scarlet whispered quietly. He took a deep breath and found he was in no pain. But that was no excuse to take off the oxygen mask. He was completely exhausted. Why did he always have almost no energy when he came back to life in these circumstances?
“How are you feeling?” she asked him.
“No surprises there then,” commented Gold as he went about checking Scarlet’s stats on the monitor he was hooked up to.
“How long?” Scarlet whispered.
“Long enough, it’s five in the morning,” Blue replied. He perched himself on the end of Scarlet’s bed. Relief was radiating out of him. “Destiny told me she’d felt you in the lift.”
Scarlet looked at Destiny, who smiled; he then looked at Blue, and nodded. He could feel his retrometabolism starting to run through his systems. He was gaining energy and could feel the external injuries starting to repair.
“I was going to my quarters.” His eyes dropped. “I saw my dad.”
“You saw your dad?” Destiny asked puzzled.
“Paul, your dad’s-”
“Dead. Yes, I know, Adam. But so was I. We were ghosts, both of us.”
“What did he want?” asked Gold.
Scarlet looked at all three of them in turn. “He wanted to wish me a Happy Christmas.” A happy tear came to his eye. “It was good to see him after everything that has happened.”
“Seeing family always calms the mind, especially during war,” Gold told him, turning round.
All three officers watched as Skybase’s chief medical officer was about to leave the room.
He turned round. “Yes, Captain Blue?”
“I heard you’re going away for a few days, to visit your family. Have a great time.”
“I sure will, Captain. Merry Christmas.”
Gold left the room and smiled brightly. The following day he would head home to be with his wife and daughter, and after so many months, he would see their beautiful faces once again.
The chatter had started between Scarlet, Blue and Destiny, and they were completely unaware they were being watched. Tom Metcalfe was standing near by, watching with delight and pride. His son had grown up so much over the years since Tom’s untimely death, and Tom wished he could’ve done more than watch the years tick by; but then again, Paul would probably have made the choices he had if Tom had been there to influence him. Tom Metcalfe had seen many things but nothing was more heart-warming than seeing his son in the company of the friends he cared for most.
“Merry Christmas, Paul. Goodwill to all men.” He looked at Destiny. “And women.”
No one was out in the graveyard of St. Saviour’s Church. It was cold, the snow was falling lightly and the grass was buried under a thin white layer. The shattered grave had been expertly repaired so nobody would know of the body that had smashed its way out. Through the white snow, the spirit of Conrad Lefkon could clearly see the words engraved on the black stone of his grave: Conrad Lefkon. Killed In Action.
He had returned to the church again, to his burial site, knowing that the coffin in the ground was empty when it should’ve contained a body. His body. Somehow it was reassuring, knowing that it wasn’t really him out there, killing innocent people and doing evil deeds. But the monster had his face, and as long as it did, people thought it was him. Captain Black. Yet Conrad knew differently.
Looking at his grave, Conrad thought of his family. They were still alive, yet they couldn’t care less about him. As far as they were concerned, he was mud on the ground. His friends had thought differently, especially Paul and Simone.
Christmas was a time of magic and maybe there was hope still. Conrad knew that sooner or later, his body would prove to be inadequate for the Mysterons’ purpose and they would replace it. Maybe then, he would get it back. But given all the time in the world to think, Conrad found he was questioning his attempts. Did he really want to return to the living, to a world where his presence was considered a threat? Or was he just trying to hang onto the living?
The Writer Writes Once More
I would like to thank Chris and Marion for beta reading this story for me and putting me on course. I did write ‘Pride Of A Father’ in early December but it’s a late story, and one of heavy change. Thanks again to my good friend, Rachael, for once again helping me out when Writer’s Block struck.
I really wanted to write another story about Tom Metcalfe, and so this one was born. I’ve always believed that those who have died are still with us, no matter what. I know Sky is still with me.
I also wanted to touch upon the events in ‘Chiller’. I really liked the idea of Scarlet becoming a ghost and it’s often made me wonder the spirit world.
Some inspiration was taken from the movie ‘Batman Returns’ (1992).
Hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas and a Happy New Year