How Fragile  we are 

a “Captain Scarlet” short story


by Marion Woods



I don’t know what’s annoying me more: the bleeping of the monitor or the ticking of that clock.  I never realised how loud it is before now; but I’d guess you know.  You spend hours in the medical rooms.  I wonder that you can stand it; it must make the slow beat of those passing hours so obvious. 

And the walls are so bare – not very welcoming - hardly much of an encouragement to wake up and start living again.  I suppose Doctor Fawn would say he doesn’t want us to get too comfortable in case we don’t want to leave.  Still, it’s a kind of subtle torture to make it so plain, don’t you think?

I wonder if they’ve realised there’s a crack under that shelf, as if the drill slipped when they put it up?  I bet if I told Fawn he’d have it repaired.

It all smells very clinical, with that universal hospital smell.  Even with the flowers you can still smell it.

They are pretty flowers – from the Angels, naturally.  Soft reds, creams and whites, all tastefully arranged in that familiar glass vase.  One of Harmony’s efforts, I think – she always creates such exquisite displays.  Destiny’s flowers are more flamboyant, whilst Rhapsody’s are carefully constructed, textbook-neat affairs.  Melody’s are quirky and Symphony puts too many flowers in the vase, all lop-sided and different heights.

I can guess which one you’d prefer.


I hope they bring me a drink soon, the nurses.  When they come in to see you, they’ll remember I’m in here too.  I don’t like to ask them, in case they make a fuss and tell me I ought to go. 

I should have brought a book or a magazine.  I probably wouldn’t read it, but it would look as if I was doing something – instead of just counting the bleeps on the monitor and listening to that damned clock.

Maybe you’ll move soon?  It’s been a long time since you did.  The nurses turned you a few hours ago – do you remember?  One of them said your eyelids fluttered.  They said that was a good sign.  They said it was ‘hopeful’.

But it has been a long time since then.  Or so it seems when you’re just sitting here.


The new shift started on duty and they came and turned you again, but no one mentioned your eyelids this time.  They asked me if I was all right – of course I’m all right - I’m not the one lying there!  They brought me a cup of tea.

Why did you do it?   I keep asking myself that.  I can’t pretend I’m not glad you did, but you shouldn’t have.  You know that, don’t you?  You never listen – you can be so stubborn.  I know it annoys you when I argue with you.  I can see that spark of irritation in your eyes – I’m not blind, y’ know.  But you know it isn’t because I think you’re scared.

You do know that, don’t you?  

You are the bravest man I know.

You are like the brother I wished I’d had and the best friend I always hoped for. 

I find it hard to imagine life here on this base without you to tease and be teased by – there would be no-one to understand my jokes, nor chivvy me out of my moods.  I never used to have them, you know – these morose spells – but you ignore them and that does me good.  Without you, I could not be the me I am – In fact; I might not be at all!  It’s a sobering thought, my friend.


There!  You opened your eyes!  I’m sure of it!  I’ll tell the nurses, they’ll need to know.  

Hmmph!  They say I imagined it.  They say there’s no change yet.  But I didn’t imagine it - I know I didn’t.

They’ve assured me again that it will be okay – that you just need time.  So all I can do is sit here and watch,   remembering how the rescue team told me you insisted on returning to the building, once you were sure everyone was safely out of danger. 

Even after the first explosion they couldn’t stop you coming back for me. They said you took the brunt of the blast when we were buried by the debris.  Fawn says my legs would have been completely severed if you hadn’t managed to get me out from under that RSJ before the second explosion. I remember that explosion and I knew I had to get out, so that someone would see us.  I just had the strength to drag myself clear and attract their attention.  When they dug you out, you were unconscious.  I held on until the Spectrum helijet arrived, but when I saw Fawn running towards us, I surrendered to my pain and passed out too.

They brought us back to Cloudbase; put you in here and me next door.  It’s been almost 24 hours since then.  You are still unconscious though. 

If you could have seen the look Symphony gave me, you’d be sorry for me – I’m in definite trouble there – and then there’s the colonel – he seems to think it must be my fault you’re like this.  As if you’d let a little thing like the regulations stop you!

I can’t bear to see you looking so helpless – tossed around in that bed by nurses half your size! Come on old friend, just open your eyes, so I know it will be all right. Then I’ll go back to my own bed and let these gashes heal properly.  Until then, I’m gonna wait here for you to open your eyes and look at me.  It’s the very least I can do, but I don’t like it much…

Please, partner, you can do it - just open your eyes. 

I don’t know how you do it, time after time; because it’s driving me crazy. I never appreciated just what it must cost you to sit out the hours.  It is so unusual for you not to be there, it took me a few minutes to remember why you couldn’t be this time. Whenever I’ve opened my eyes, it seems you are always sitting there, long legs stretched out, reading some deadly serious tome or frowning over a crossword puzzle.

But then, I’ve never had your apparently infinite patience, have I?


"Paul?  What are you doing here?  Where am I?"

"In sickbay, on Cloudbase... making my life difficult as usual, of course."

"I'm thirsty..."

"I bet... I'll get them to fetch you a drink.....Oh, and welcome back, Adam...."



Other stories from Marion Woods





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