The Stand, Sister Story
Part 1: Captain Tripps
Just a regular flu, they had said. Those miliary types with the stiff upper lip, dismissing the enevitable battle of good and evil, only logic and strategy. Wipe out a town, kill off the bug. Well it didn’t work. And Colonel whatzizname, the ‘big guy’ at the top of the US Army had blown his head off with a ladypistol just to piss the unit off real good.
Just for the purpose of introduction, let me do the honours. I’m blonde, got blue eyes, and I’m called by my peers and subordinates by the name of Face. I have seen a war which I thought would soften the impact of any future wars or battles I would encounter, well I was wrong.
Nothing like the battle against Captain Tripps, which savaged the earth like a tidal wave, slowly picking out even the remote areas, in time most people either were affected directly by it, or knew someone immediately around them who was.
This was no ordinary war, you understand. You couldn’t just pick up your old AK-47 and blow the attacker to bits, and add another medal to your name. It was ironic that the war that mankind almost lost attacked us from within.
With ferocity humankind hadn’t seen since the Black Plague, and with the assurance of death to those susceptible. To this day, I am completely amazed that the other members of my team and I survived the initital onslaught.
However, one of the team did fall prone to Captain Tripps. Our fifth member Frankie caught the virus three days after a local radio station had been destroyed and the people inside killed to prevent a rising panic which manifested itself on the streets of LA. The military started to clamp down, started to cull the hysteria with more death. They were wrong, but they were scared. And most of them were sick too.
I nursed Frankie in those last hours he was with us, saw the scabs on his face, saw the drunken pain in his eyes. He kept telling me over and over again that the ‘Dark Man’ was coming. When I saw BA looking worridly beside me, I assumed Frankie had seen him vaguely.
When he died we were all there, sitting in a cold silence, Hannibal held his hand. Very strange to see the Colonel holding Frankie’s hand as if he was a small infant, but his eyes were completely distressed. He looked almost vulnerable for an instant, and I felt a protective urge pull at my heart. I reluctantly reached across, and put my hand on his shoulder. Hannibal smiled, and then let go of Frankie’s hand. He was gone. Most of the people in LA had died now, the rest were looters, vagabonds, insane.
We buried him on route of Boulder, Colorado. Hannibal and BA were having some crazy dreams of some little aged black woman strumming a guitar. I only saw fire when I slept, and visions of the man beside me, calling me his ‘instrument’, his ‘Lieutenant’. When I looked at Murdock, I knew he had had the same dreams as myself. We kept silent about our dreams, and implied that we were having the same dreams as Hannibal and BA.
The A-Team van was in a state of disrepute, and I looked over at BA who was singing the words - faith we have in jesus, and Hannibal was strumming a pretend guitar. I turned away, feeling uneasy. I hated the words, and I hated the song. It felt like these dreams were increasing the team’s vulnerability, and each night my own particular brand of dream became stronger.
"What’s your name?" I had asked him. The man with the red eyes, the ‘Dark Man’.
"Flagg, Randall Flagg" He had replied. "You know something, Face?"
I shrugged my shoulders, trying to seem uninterested, but the man had my heart. I knew it. I would die for him.
"Your units gone soft. They keep dreaming about little mother Abigail" Flagg grinned manically at me, and I smiled back. His words reflected my thoughts.
"Except Murdock" I said protectively. "He’s never soft"
Flagg laughed. "I know that Face. But you know what you have to do. You have to leave your unit, need to come and work for me"
I sighed, it was what I had been expecting, but I hated to admit that I needed to leave the team. "Alright. Myself and Murdock will leave them tonight, head over to Los Vegas"
Flagg nodded and looked at me suddenly. "Your going to be my Lieutenant, Face. My glorious Lieutenant. You will be giving my orders, and seeing that they are carried through. You and Murdock"
I nodded. "Thanks for giving me the chance to prove myself, Flagg. Won’t let you down"
Flagg smiled. "I know you won’t, Kid. But, you have to leave tonight"
I nodded and began to think in my dreams, trying to figure a way for myself and Murdock to escape tonight. It would not be easy, but one nod from Murdock told me that all the support I needed was there with him.
It would be a piece of cake.
Part 2: Las Vagas is where the action is!
Murdock and myself slipped unseen past Hannibal and BA who were sleeping, and humming that idiotic tune to themselves. I hotwired the van becuase BA had taken to sleeping with his keys, and Murdock and myself pulled out quietly.
"Where do you think your going, Face?" Hannibal’s voice rang out in the darkness, both BA and himself were armed, both guns aimed at us. I got out and slammed the door.
"Hannibal, we don’t belong here." I explained. I walked up to Hannibal and he hit me, sent me reeling to the ground where I lay wheezing for a moment. Murdock jumped out of the van, and immediately stood by my side, asking me if I was alright.
I nodded angrily, glaring at both Hannibal and BA in turn.
"Lucky Ma Abigail told us to be careful of you two" BA said, his voice full of regret. in my anger, I failed to notice that.
"Its our choice to leave. We can go" I said, determined to make a stand. Hannibal sighed deeply.
"That’s fine Face. Just don’t think of taking the van, if you do I’ll kill you" Hannibal turned his back, and walked away, leaving Murdock and myself stunned. I saw him put his arm around BA and lead him over to the van.
"Come on Murdock. Lets go home to Flagg" I said, turning away in the opposite direction. It felt wrong to leave on this note, after fifeteen years of the four of us fighting side by side. After being on the lam, and even further back, together in Nam, but I had to do it. I was not the A-Team’s second-in-command any longer - I was Flagg’s.
Three days we walked along the road, feeling like we were in a desert, our survival training was keeping us alive. Then the man with the tattoo’s and sidearms gave us a lift all the way to Vegas. I was smiling, I was glad. One half of my confused state-of-mind thought it was right to be finally meeting the man himself. Another half of me told me I was wrong, and that nag of conscionce was keeping me from proper sleep and making me irritable towards Murdock.
Upon reaching Las Vegas, we noted the changes immediately going on around us. People in their thousands were cleaning up the streets, taking away the rotting dead bodies to be burnt. The smell of the dead burning reminded me strongly of Nam when Nepalm was dropped from the sky. I remembered the combined smells of the rain, the nepalm and the rotting bodies - that paralleled the smells here. I almost gagged.
Flagg’s headquarters jutted strongly like a fortress in a wilderness of confusion, providing me with the only reason to keep going in this same direction. I walked up to the main entrance and pulled open the doors and walked inside. Murdock was following me closely, I could hear his steps directly behind me.
Then I saw him, and I stopped dead in my tracks. How many dreams had I dreamed of this man? How much hope and faith had I put in this demon with the soft flowing brown hair who turned to me and smiled.
"Facey, good to see you" Flagg came over to me and pressed me in his arms. It felt wrong suddenly to be embracing him, but need and desperation made me clutch to him as if I were a child. Flagg pulled away and closed his hand into a fist in front of me. When he opened it, a small necklace with a single black stone in the centre appeared.
"You are my Lieutenant" Flagg said, lovingly placing the necklace around my neck.
"I love you" I said, trying to find the words to explain the crazy emotions I’d been feeling ever since the dreams of him had invaded my reason.
Flagg nodded. "I know that, Face. You were always mine, you and Murdock"
I grinned, and turned to Murdock who looked back at me with equal satisfaction.
Flagg became serious. "I need you Face. I need you and Murdock to do me a favour"
I looked into Flagg’s eyes and felt any resistance, how small it would have been, fade into nothing but trust and love. "Anything ......"
TO BE CONTINUED ....
(This fiction is in the process of being written - please check back from time-to-time)