A Spectrum short story by Marion Woods
Why have they left me here alone? True, they’ve given me a cup of tea and a couple of Rich Tea biscuits, but they’ve left me all alone. Maybe they are watching me, though – through hidden cameras or that mirror? I hope they believe me. I’ve told them everything I can – everything I saw. It was almost the whole truth, as well.
They can’t expect me to willingly confess what I was doing at the scene, can they?
Maybe walking the dog isn’t a brilliant excuse, but it happens to be the truth. I wonder if they took Lu-Tze home? They’ll have had to tell Marjorie where I am, I expect. She’ll be astonished and she’ll want to know why they brought me here; they must have told her something, I hope they tell me what they said - when they let me go…IF they let me go…
That American chap – Captain Blue, he said his name was – said I shouldn’t worry; it was being taken care of. He seemed like a decent enough chap; for an American. The other one – that so-called, Captain Ochre - he was nothing but a bully. Who’d he think he was anyway? Shoving me around like that – he’d no right to do that. I’m not a terrorist and he’s nothing but a jumped-up policeman, after all.
Citizens have their rights and I know my rights. I’m as willing to help them with their enquiries as any law-abiding citizen could be – but I won’t be pushed around by someone like him.
I pay his wages, after all.
Mind you, Captain Blue explained that everyone near the scene had to be treated as a potential terrorist. He was most apologetic that his colleague had been so heavy-handed. A very polite young man, I thought. His associate’s manner was obviously an embarrassment to him. That Ochre-chappie could learn a lot from him about how to deal with honest citizens.
Oh… I wish I hadn’t got involved. If I had only resisted temptation I’d have been at home with Marjorie now, having my cocoa in front of the tele.
I know they always say that Spectrum move against terrorists wherever they find them, and those terrorists are dangerous and the public shouldn’t interfere. And I quite agree- it is what we pay them for. But I never imagined Doctor Lassiter could be a terrorist. I’ve never seen any sign of it before. She’s always been a good neighbour, ever since she moved in a year or so ago. Mind you, I said to Marjorie that her new boyfriend wasn’t quite the thing… what did she call him that time I saw them in her garden? Conrad – that’s it. Sounds foreign to me - and he was very dark and grim-looking… could’ve done with a decent shave. She could do better for herself, I said. Nice girl like her, there must be plenty of decent Englishmen who’d be interested – that’s what I told Marjorie. Not that she cared, of course… Marjorie didn’t like Doctor Lassiter much.
Hardly surprising; Doctor Lassiter was an attractive young woman. Such a beautiful body… so toned, with long legs, a trim waist and such pretty breasts….
Tcha! This damn tea’s gone cold… I bet they won’t give me another one, even if I ask – besides, there’s no one here to ask.
They can’t know why I was there, can they? I mean Lu-Tze had gone under the hedge, just as he always does when we walk past Doctor Lassiter’s house. Damn dog was bright enough to learn that trick, at least. His disappearance was enough to explain why I was at the top of the bank, watching the house… I was looking for my dog. And the nature reserve is only a quarter of a mile further on – so that’s a perfect excuse for my having a pair of binoculars with me…
I must calm down.
They can’t know that you can see the conservatory at the back of the house from there… the little gymnasium the Doctor used and the sauna and the sunbed next door. She was a creature of habit – a session in her gymnasium and then a sauna and a session on her sunbed – perfecting that all-over suntan…
I wish I’d never discovered what you can see from that bank, all those months ago. I knew it would get me into trouble eventually…
I don’t really understand what happened today, as I told that sympathetic Captain Blue. I saw her working out, as usual, and then she went for her sauna. I always use that time to walk around the back and then I wait until she comes out and gets on her sunbed. No need to hurry, she always has ten minutes front and back… This time there was that bright flash of light and that weird green glow… I hurried over to the far side of the bank – I thought her sunbed might have short-circuited or malfunctioned… I was only trying to make sure she was all right.
I was relieved when I saw Doctor Lassiter standing by the sunbed; she looked fine to me – exactly the same as usual – and I should know. But there was a second person there – someone she dragged off the sunbed and into the sauna. I couldn’t see who it was.
Then she got dressed.
It was only natural I should be concerned … I wanted to make sure she was all right. I’d hardly reached the garden gate when that Spectrum helicopter landed nearby and the two officers jumped out and raced across to the house. One was Captain Blue – I know that now – and the other man – the man in red, was Captain Scarlet; that’s what Captain Blue called him. I watched him shoot the lock off the front door as Blue ran round to the side door of the house.
I still can’t believe what happened next.
Doctor Lassiter; nice, neighbourly, Doctor Lassiter, appeared in the doorway, with a gun. She shot Captain Scarlet – she damn near blew a hole right through him with that gun…. A magnum, Captain Ochre called it – just like those ice creams Marjorie likes so much…. Poor chap, he fell like a tree. Stone dead in a matter of seconds – he had to be. Then Captain Blue appeared behind Doctor Lassiter and shot her with that strange cannon thing he had slung over his shoulders.
Ugh, even now the memory of her screams goes through me and makes me shiver.
That’s when Captain Ochre grabbed me even though I wasn’t doing anything wrong – I was walking my dog and being neighbourly, that’s all.
I have my rights – I don’t have to take such man-handling. I gave him a right piece of my mind… Still, I suppose Americans do things differently. The shoot-first-ask-questions-later school of policing. I was damn lucky he didn’t shoot me before he knew I wasn’t one of the terrorist group… what was it they called them? Mysterons… that’s it… Never heard of them, but they must be dangerous. He was just doing his job, I suppose – but he was much too rough – he virtually frog-marched me into the helicopter - and he was so rude... Shoving me into the seat at the back… I couldn’t see a thing after that.
According to the newspapers, they work hard, these Spectrum agents - and it can’t be easy seeing your colleague gunned down. But, I ask you, do I look like a terrorist?
I suppose I’m going to be a bit of a hero when this gets into the papers? I was on my way to help Doctor Lassiter, after all. And this will be something to tell the chaps when Robinson starts his ‘I saw an armed robbery at the bank’ story again… Robinson made a statement at the local police station – he wasn’t whisked away to a place like this high-tech, hovering aircraft carrier…
They won’t tell Marjorie everything, will they? Please God, they won’t tell Marjorie what I was doing… I’m sure she’s had her doubts about my regular walks on Sunday afternoons and my sudden interest in the local wildlife…
But no, I must remember; they can’t prove anything - she can’t prove anything either – as long as I stick to my story: I was looking for my dog that’d run off under the hedge when I saw a strange light coming from the house.
This is all very well – but I wish someone would come and tell me when I can go home.
Colonel White glanced at Captains Blue and Ochre as they joined him in the observation room and peered through the two-way mirror at their ‘guest’.
“Well?” he asked.
“He’s as clean as a whistle. No record of any trouble, apart from a parking ticket fifteen years ago,” Captain Ochre said.
“He’s clean on the Mysteron Detector too,” Blue added. “He’s just a regular guy walking his dog.”
“A regular pervert, you mean.” Ochre grinned. “He must’ve been gawking at Joanna Lassiter’s workout and nudie sun-tanning session from a vantage point outside her garden.”
“You can’t prove that, Captain,” White replied, “and it’s largely an irrelevance to us anyway. What he saw today and how we explain it is of far more importance.”
“S.I.G., Colonel, but take it from me - he was watching her – probably always did. Call it a cop’s instinct, if you like, but he damn near admitted as much to Captain Blue when he finally mentioned her ‘regular weekly workout routine’. Besides, he’s terrified we’ll tell his wife.”
“What did we tell Mrs. Peplow?” White asked with interest.
“I sent Lieutenant Cobalt to take their little dog back and he said ‘Mr Peplow is helping with our enquiries’. Not that inspired, but it’ll do,” Ochre admitted.
“Hmm, we cannot keep him here for long then,” White mused. He turned to Captain Blue. “Is Scarlet conscious again?”
“Yes sir. He’ll be up and about in the next hour or two,” Blue replied.
“Excellent. It never ceases to amaze me how resilient our colleague is.”
“Yes indeed, Colonel.” Blue’s smile was one of relief.
“Very well, Captain Scarlet must meet Mr Peplow and explain that what he saw was part of an elaborate Spectrum field-training exercise. Doctor Lassiter was a Spectrum agent and, now that her cover has been compromised, she will be relocated and her house sold. The weapons used were adapted to fire special pulses that trigger targets on the personnel, to simulate real weapons. Make sure he believes it, Blue… embellish it as much as you need to – but don’t over-do it.”
“Has the house been searched?” White asked.
“Yes, Colonel,” Ochre said consulting a notepad he was holding. “Captain Magenta and Lieutenant Cobalt have found the serum and it has been returned to the Biological Research Centre where Lassiter worked, through the auspices of Spectrum Agent Hodges. Professor Wright will receive instructions in the morning from his Director to destroy the serum immediately.”
The colonel nodded in approval.
Ochre continued,” He’ll also be told that Doctor Lassiter was complicit in an industrial espionage plot to sell the serum to a Bereznian company, through an accomplice who posed as her boyfriend…”
“The man we believe was Captain Black?” White asked. “The man Mr Peplow knew as ‘Conrad’?”
“Yes sir. Since Agent Hodges went to work for security at the BRC, every member of staff has been tested with a Mysteron Detector on entry. We assume Black … courted Doctor Lassiter to convince her to steal the serum. Once she had brought it away from the labs, it was safe to Mysteronise her. That would have been the ‘flash of brilliant light and the green glow’ Mr Peplow speaks of,” Blue explained.
“Ruthlessly efficient,” White commented, shaking his head sorrowfully. “Poor woman.”
Ochre glanced at Blue, but his colleague had nothing further to add, so he continued with his own report. “Dr Wright will be told that Lassiter has fled the country to avoid arrest on the discovery of her scheme. Agent Hodges will act as her local agent to dispose of her effects. Her family – a much older half-brother out in South Africa – has been told of her death in a freak sunbed accident and that her estate will be settled and the proceeds sent to him in due course. We have his permission to proceed with burial – they were not close, apparently.”
The colonel gave a satisfied smile. “Hodges has done well. It was his discovery of the theft of the serum that enabled us to move against the Mysterons so quickly. I think we can safely draw a line under this Mysteron threat. Well done, everyone.”
“Thank you, sir,” his subordinates murmured.
“Captain Blue, you will take Captain Scarlet to see Mr Peplow as soon as he is presentable. Captain Ochre, you will then escort our guest home – taking every opportunity to impress on him that what he saw, and what he knows, must never be divulged. You may imply that Spectrum will continue to watch him.”
“S.I.G., Colonel; it’ll be my pleasure,” Ochre grinned, “but I reckon one hint that we’ll tell Marjorie Peplow where he was will do the trick.”
“I hope you’re right, Captain.” Colonel White sighed. “As the Mysterons’ war of nerves continues, we’re going to be faced with more cases where the public witness what happens,” he said and saw his officers nod their heads in emphatic agreement. “We may have to think about creating a back-up team to cover our traces…after all, we dare not hope that every eyewitness will have a guilty secret which allows us to silence them effectively - as is the case with Mr Peplow…and his dog…”
My inspiration for this story came from a conversation I had with Caroline Smith on one of our enjoyable get-togethers, so I owe her my thanks for letting me use the idea, and thanks are also due to Hazel Köhler for her impeccable beta-reading… as always, any errors in the text are all mine and almost certainly due to my incurable habit of ‘tweaking’ things that I’ve declared are ‘completely finished’….
The characters from Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons™ belong to the business conglomerate Carlton International. They were initially the creations of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson – to whom I owe a debt of gratitude for the many years of enjoyment their work has given, and continues to give, me.
Finally, but by no means least, my thanks to Chris Bishop for her friendship, encouragement and for providing me with a constant source of new fiction and debate about a topic close to both our hearts – Captain Scarlet and his world.
And my thanks to you for reading; I hope you enjoyed it.