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The Price of Failure

The Price of Failure
by Cathy Fisher

Rating: PG-13
Warnings: Angst, violence, non-graphic torture -- see more specific warnings at the beginning of each chapter.
Summary: There is a bomb threat at the VA hospital and Murdock disappears, leaving the A-Team clueless as to his whereabouts or whether or not he is still alive.
Disclaimer: I do not own the A-Team or make any money off of them. This is purely for enjoyment.
Comments: This story was written over a 10 day choir tour in April. It has subsequently been pilot tested on another list. Thus, I'd like to thank the members of ATFF, particularly Wallygator and Wendy for giving me their input and encouragement and helping me to make this the best story possible. Thank you to Stephanie, HM fan, and Beth for help with airplane info and Italian titles, and Danielle who helped me find a place to put my bad guy. A big thank you goes to my family who read it and helped me to fix some major plot holes. I'd also like to thank a friend of mine who begged to be written into the story as the Abominable Dr. Phebes. Don't believe it's possible in a serious story? Read and find out.

 

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Part 1

 

Karilyn Janzen stepped behind the nurse's station with a sigh. Stripping off her gloves, she walked to the sink and washed her hands thoroughly. This had just not been her morning.

Daniel Jones had started off her shift at 6 a.m. with a hysterical nightmare, complete with flailing fists and ear-piercing screams that woke the whole building. She rubbed her arm, gently massaging the bruise she had received when she had failed to move quickly enough.

She had no sooner gotten Mr. Jones calmed down, when Lester Quirney had started screaming that the aliens were coming for him again. At the same time, the door alarm had sounded when one of the newer patients had somehow escaped an orderly and tried to walk out. As she had led him back to his room, the poor man kept pleading with her to take him home.

While she dealt with the "escapee," Ned one of the male orderlies on duty tried to calm Mr. Quirney down. When they had finally got everyone quietly eating breakfast for a change, she had thought everything was going to get better -- until Matthew Shorney vomited everything up. She had just finished cleaning up that mess.

It did not help that two of the nurses had called in sick. She was the nurse-in-charge on this floor until 10:00, when an emergency replacement had agreed to come in. So, it was up to her and three orderlies to get the entire floor up and ready to face the new day. She was already tired, and it was only 8:00. And to top everything else off, Murdock was getting restless again.

It had been a month since his last "disappearance," and he was starting to act like a caged lion, pacing around his room, holding animated conversations with himself. He had also decided to be as uncooperative with the staff as possible. Murdock was usually a lot of fun, but if he acted up this morning, he was going to go directly into a straitjacket.

She sensed that he was due for another 'kidney transplant' or 'experiment on the effects of hair loss to the psyche.' She laughed softly at that last one. She wasn't sure how she felt about that, but since Dr. Richter had unofficially sanctioned those 'outings' she had no desire to interfere. Besides, she had noticed that while the Captain did need the security of the VA, if he remained here too long, he actually began to regress, getting worse instead of better. She was no psychiatrist, but she figured he probably needed his time in the real world in order to make use of the time he was here. Still, she hoped the pilot's partner in crime, the good looking conman, didn't show up on her shift. She simply did not want to deal with the inevitable paper work that came with Murdock's jaunts into the real world.

She sighed again as the phone rang. Drying her hands on a paper towel, she picked up the receiver.

"Veterans Administration Hospital, Physchiatric Wing." She frowned when there was no reply. "Hello?" She was about to hang up when a gravely voice came over the line.

"Listen carefully. I am only going to say this once."

"Who is this?" She demanded.

The caller ignored her, continuing to speak in his soft, but deep voice. His next words made her go pale.

"I have hidden a bomb somewhere within the main building of the psychiatric wing. Don't bother asking where, because I won't tell you." Karilyn closed her mouth and instead reached for a pad of paper and a pencil to record everything that was said. She dropped the pencil when she heard what he had to say next.

"The bomb is set to go off in twenty minutes. If you value your life or the lives of your patients, I suggest you evacuate everyone immediately. This is not a prank. I will destroy the building in twenty minutes. It is up to you to decide how many lives go with it." There was a deadly seriousness in the voice that made Karilyn's heart pound faster.

"Who is this?" She asked, as calmly as she could manage. "Why are you doing this?"

The click of the receiver was the only reply. For a moment, she stood in shock before her training took over.

Grabbing the intercom, she punched the button. "This is a code white. Repeat, this is a code white."

Ned came out of a room near the nurse's station and walked quickly over to her. "What do you want us to do?"

The various scenarios that she had been trained for flashed through her head and were discarded. Normally she would notify the hospital administrator of the problem, and he would decide whether to evacuate. But he was out of town today and there simply wasn't time to track him down. Quickly she made a decision. She would deal with the consequences later if this were a false alarm.

"I want you to start evacuation immediately." Ned started to protest, but she held up a hand to silence him. "I know it's not standard procedure, but we have less than twenty minutes."

Ned's ruddy complexion paled considerably, then he nodded. "I'll get the orderlies and get on it immediately."

As he raced down the corridor, she grabbed the phone, rapidly dialing the police and hospital security.

 

 

Part 2

 

Face rolled over with a groan as the phone rang again. Burying his head in his pillow, he tried to ignore the shrill sound that invaded his sleep-fogged senses. The caller was persistent, however, and the conman finally reached over and grabbed the phone on its tenth ring.

"Hello?" He snapped grumpily.

"Good morning to you to, Faceyman," came a bright and cheery voice.

"Murdock," Face growled, "It's 7:30 in the morning. What are you doing calling me this early?"

"Face, you gotta help me out here." The bright cheerfulness had changed abruptly to an almost desperate whine.

The lieutenant groaned. "What happened? Billy get stuck in the toilet again?"

"No, really, Face. You gotta help me. I gotta get out of here. The walls are closing in. The air is getting stuffy, and I'm about to strangle the next orderly that threatens to put me in a straightjacket. Please? I'm desperate here. Billy hasn't had a walk in ages. Thunder wants to get out and run," he gave a neigh like a horse. "See, hear him? All my pet cockroaches have been dancing on my head singing 'Ring around the Rosies'. Face, please! If you have any compassion at all."

There was no doubt about the desperation in Murdock's tone now. The pilot must really be claustrophobic. Face ran a hand through his sleep tousled hair and racked his brain for a way out of this. He had a beautiful date planned for tonight and there was nothing guaranteed to spoil a romantic evening faster than a lunatic pilot in one's apartment.

"It's Friday. Doesn't Dr. Richter take you out every Friday?" Face flopped back on the pillow, holding the receiver with one hand and using the other to shield his eyes from the sunlight coming in through the drapes at the foot of his bed.

"He's on vacation. He won't be back til next week. Please, Faceman? I promise I'll be good, and I won't let Billy chew on your expensive shoes again. You won't even know I'm there."

Face rolled his eyes at that and sighed heavily. If he said no, Murdock would probably just escape on his own, then show up in the apartment at the most inopportune time. Maybe he could get Hannibal or BA...no, Hannibal, to take him tonight. That thought cheered him up and he grudgingly gave in. "All right, Murdock. I'll be over to pick you up at..." he glanced at the clock again, "...9:30."

There was a whoop on the other end of the phone that made Face jerk the receiver away from his ear. He grinned and shook his head.

"Thanks, Face. See you at 9."

"Don't push it, Murdock. 9:30. Good bye."

"Thanks, Face. You won't regret this." There was a click as the pilot hung up.

"I think I already do," the coman said to the dial tone before hanging up the phone and heading for the shower.

@@@@@

Murdock danced a jig as he hung up the phone. "Did ya hear that, Billy?" he asked the bundle of air lying on his bed. "Face is coming to get us this morning."

Grabbing a gym bag from his bottom drawer, he stuffed a few pairs of clean underwear and socks as well as one extra change of clothing into it. Face always had extra clothes for him around his place, so he didn't need much.

Whistling the tune "We're off to see the wizard," he pulled open the cabinet above his sink and added a few toiletries to the bag. Face didn't really like him using his razor and aftershave lotion, and he couldn't forget his Big Bird toothbrush.

Zipping up the bag, he sat down on the bed and looked at his watch. 8:00. He had an hour and a half before Face showed up.

'Wonder if I have enough time to beat level 10 of Space Quarks," he wondered aloud, stroking the air next to him. Shaking his head, he walked instead to the TV and turned it on. Flipping channels until he found cartoons, he vaguely heard Nurse Janzen's voice over the intercom calling some code or other.

'Someone probably slipped in the bathroom or something,' he thought idly. Turning up the volume, he settled in to watch some Woody Woodpecker reruns until Face got there.

Less than 5 minutes later, Murdock became aware of voices and large groups of people walking past his door. This continued for some time, and just as he was about to get up and check what was going on, the door opened. A new orderly the captain had only seen a few times walked in with a straightjacket in one hand. Murdock narrowed his eyes, all his senses suddenly on alert.

Switching off the TV, the orderly approached him calmly. "Come along, Mr. Murdock," he said soothingly. "Put this jacket on. We need to take you downstairs for a little bit."

Murdock's eyes narrowed further and he stubbornly folded his arms across his chest.

"Why," he said sullenly, watching the orderly carefully for any sign of what was going on. "I want to finish watching Woody Woodpecker."

The orderly, Fred, Murdock thought his name was, licked his lips nervously and glanced toward his watch before returning his gaze to the pilot a pleading look in his eyes.

"Please cooperate, Captain. We don't have much time." His eyes begged Murdock not to cause any trouble.

"Time for what," Murdock replied instantly. "What's going on?" He could still hear people walking up and down the hallway outside. He put his arms out and allowed the orderly to slip the straightjacket on.

"There's nothing to worry about. Everything's being taken care of. It will be over and you'll be back in your room in no time." The orderly tried to sound bored, as though this sort of thing happened all the time, but Murdock noticed that the man's hands were shaking so badly he could hardly get the straightjacket on properly.

The classic "Nothing's wrong" line. "I'm okay, you're okay." As if he hadn't been exposed to that garbage all his life. He might be crazy, but he wasn't stupid. Something didn't feel right about this whole thing, but he could see he wasn't going to get anything more out of this man.

Shrugging, he decided he'd go along with it. For now. Maybe he really would be back in his room in a few minutes. He only hoped all this died down before Face arrived. If not, maybe he could slip out in the confusion.

Outside the room, they joined a smaller group being guided out of the building by various nurses and orderlies as well as hospital security. It looked as though they were part of the last few groups to leave the building. A quick look over his shoulder showed a nurse going from room to room, checking for stragglers.

He frowned. If he didn't know better, he'd think this was a fire drill. Maybe it was a fire drill only with no alarm. He knew well enough what alarms did to certain psychotic patients. Maybe they didn't want to sound it for that reason.

Murdock instantly began talking, his mind and tongue racing from subject to subject as he eyed his escort out of the corner of his eye, trying to gauge his reaction. Fred, however, ignored the pilot, guiding him along behind the larger group and glancing at his watch every few seconds.

Abruptly the orderly slowed Murdock down with a tug on his arm. Ahead of them, the rest of the group was entering the stairwell leading down to the first floor. The pilot started to follow them, but Fred instead guided him to the left down a hallway.

"We'll use the stairway down here," he said, a slight tremor entering his voice. "Not as crowded." Alarm bells went off in Murdock's head, and he tried to twist around to see if anyone else was around, but the orderly guided him swiftly forward.

"Hey, what are we doing? Why are we leaving the others? What's going on?" The orderly ignored his questions and continued to pull him along until they reached a door marked 'Utility Room. Employees Only'.

Inserting a key, the orderly opened the door and jerked Murdock inside. They were met with very familiar sounding clicks as two men with ski masks stepped out from behind some boxes. They held guns with silencers in their hands, both cocked and ready, and both pointed directly at them.

 

 

Part 3

 

"I brought him, just like you asked." Murdock looked at the orderly beside him in confusion and concern. Things were starting to get out of hand, and he didn't like that. The orderly was bouncing nervously on his toes.

There was a slight shake in his voice as he continued. "Now will you give me my money? I want to get out of here before the bomb explodes." His voice ended with a small squeak and Murdock gave a start.

Bomb? This was worse than he thought. All the people hurrying out of the building suddenly made sense. He suddenly felt very helpless encased as he was in the straightjacket. He ran his tongue rapidly over his lips, his eyes darting around the room, trying to take everything in.

He could tell virtually nothing about the gunmen. Both were dressed like orderlies, all in white. They were both of average height, neither tall nor short. He couldn't see anything about hair color or facial features because of the masks. The dim lighting in the room made it impossible to even detect their eye color. The main difference between the two was in build. One of the gunman was incredibly stocky, with muscles that reminded Murdock of BA. The other was slender, with a build closer to that of Face. Surprisingly, it was this man that frightened him most. There was an air about him that warned he was not a man to mess around with.

The slender gunman stepped forward and checked the straps on Murdock's straightjacket, never taking the gun off of him. "Don't worry," he said calmly to the now obviously agitated orderly. "The explosives won't go off until we are ready for them to."

While his partner kept his gun trained on the captain, the slender gunman stepped back and knelt beside a black bag that Murdock hadn't noticed before. He unzipped the bag and pulled out a lump of gray clay that Murdock recognized instantly as plastic explosive.

"Did you make sure that no one will be coming down this hall?" he asked the orderly, not bothering to look up from what he was doing.

"Umm, yes...I think so," the orderly stuttered, and the gunman looked up, eyes glittering dangerously from behind the eyeholes in the mask. "All the patients have been removed from this floor, so there shouldn't be anyone around," Fred finished in a rush.

"Good." The gunman looked down, and Murdock heard the orderly give a sigh of relief. "Are the rest of the explosives set to go on signal?" the man continued, looking up at his partner.

The stocky gunman nodded, his eyes never leaving Murdock. "Of course," he growled in a deep gravely voice. "I know how to do my job." The other gunman didn't respond, so he continued. "They've been short on help lately and they just hired several new orderlies, so it wasn't hard to move around without being challenged. When we're done, there won't be nothing left of this building."

Murdock's mind was moving in super fast forward. These men wanted him for some reason, that much was obvious. And it sounded like they were going to blow up the entire hospital as well.

His mind raced rapidly through possible escape plans. There was only one gun on him now. The door behind him opened outward. If he could move fast enough, he could avoid the gun and hit the door running. He tried to remember if it had latched behind them when they came in. If it had, he wouldn't be able to get out and would probably be in worse trouble than before. Besides, the traitorous orderly was still holding his right arm in a tight grip. He shifted slightly as he considered the possibility of twisting sharply enough to throw the orderly into the standing gunman.

"I wouldn't try anything if I were you, Captain Murdock," the gunman kneeling on the floor said quietly. His dark eyes, almost completely hidden in shadow gazed at the pilot menacingly. "My partner doesn't need that gun to make sure you cooperate, and in fact considers most weapons to be nuisances." Murdock looked at the stocky gunman and could swear that the man was smiling under the mask. His eyes, however, gazed back impassively.

"If you cooperate, everything will be over very soon," the slender gunman continued.

"Over." Murdock snorted, speaking for the first time. "Well, if you are planning to blow us all up with that little bomb there, I'd rather you just shoot me. It'd be a lot cleaner that way. I'd like to know who you are and why you want me dead before I go, though."

There was a deep chuckle as the man kneeling next to the bag stood up. "Whatever gave you the idea that we wanted to kill you, Captain." Murdock breathed heavily through his nose and eyed the gunman from the corner of his eyes as he turned his head partially away. He had guessed that the men were not going to kill him, but he wanted to get them talking, to figure out what they did want and why he was a part of it.

The slender gunman rose slowly to his feet as he continued. "I'm afraid that although you may want to die before this is all over, only one of us will be going to the Great Beyond today." Without any hesitation, the man raised his gun and shot the orderly next to Murdock squarely between the eyes.

Murdock felt the orderly jerk. There was a look of shocked surprise on the man's face as his grip on Murdock's arm slowly loosened. He sank to his knees and toppled forward onto the floor.

Murdock let out a hiss of breath as he saw what remained of the back of the man's head. He had seen a lot of death in his time, many worse than this, but he still felt his stomach clench at the sight. He turned away from the body of the orderly to the two gunmen.

"Watch him," the one who had just fired ordered the other. "I'll finish setting up here, then we can get out of here." Murdock felt as though he was frozen in place. He licked lips that were suddenly as dry as a desert.

He watched as the one who was apparently in charge pulled out several more small lumps of plastic explosive and began to attach them to various wires leading to a black box. He placed the box on the dead man's back and arranged the plastic explosive around the body.

"I guess you are wondering what is going on," he said conversationally, glancing at the pilot before returning to his work. "You see, when this is all over, official records will show that Fred Johnson here went on a vacation in Florida yesterday where he drowned while fishing. They will never find the body. Here, however, all they will be able to find will be chunks of a human body strewn everywhere, and unfortunately, you, Mr. Murdock will be the only patient unaccounted for.

Murdock closed his eyes. This was not good. This was so not good. His mind was reeling with how quickly things were happening. He forced his mind back to the matter at hand. He couldn't lose it. Not here, not now. He tried to think about what Hannibal would do. That was easy. He would keep his wits about him and watch for the opportunity to escape when it came.

"I'm done," the gunman on the floor said, rising smoothly to his feet.

"Turn around," the other ordered gruffly. Murdock silently obeyed and he felt himself pushed against a wall to the left of the door. There was a soft whisper of cloth against flesh and he guessed that the men were taking their masks off. He felt a moment of confusion before it came to him. They did not want him to see their faces, but leaving the building with masks on would only draw attention, even in the mass confusion that was probably happening outside.

"Now listen carefully, Captain. I don't want to have to shoot you because you failed to listen to directions." Murdock felt the gun press into his shoulder. "I may not be able to kill you, but I can make it very uncomfortable for you. Do you understand?" Murdock gave a short nod. The conversational tone was grating on his nerves.

He felt like making a smart reply, but it felt like all of his craziness was gone. He did not like the helpless and deadly sane feelings he was experiencing now. He flinched as his captor continued.

"You are going to walk straight out of here. We will give you directions as we come to them. We will be right behind you with a gun trained on you at all times. If you try to turn around, we will shoot you. If you try to yell for help or escape, we will shoot you. So, I suggest you do exactly as I tell you."

Murdock nodded again to indicate his understanding. He heard the door creak open and resisted the urge to turn his head slightly in the hopes of seeing something. Before he could complete the thought however, a hand on his shoulder turned him toward the now open door and gave him a slight push. His captors remained completely behind him so that he could not see them, even in his peripheral vision. He only felt the hand on his back, guiding him when necessary.

He decided to obey their orders for now and keep looking straight ahead. These men had shown that they were more than willing to kill, and he had no doubt they would carry out their other threats as well. He didn't care to test their patience quite yet.

The gunmen guided him out of the back of the building and through the gardens. There was no one around, but he could hear shouts and sirens from the front of the main building they had just left that housed the majority of the Psychiatric Wing. He guessed that everyone was congregating out in the front parking lot.

They walked across the grounds, passing through a thickly wooded area until they reached one of several roads that passed through the extensive grounds surrounding the main buildings.

The hand on his back gave him a nudge toward a car with tinted windows parked by the curb. Murdock was so busy examining the car, that he barely felt the prick of the needle entering his neck before darkness began to crowd in.

He distantly heard someone say, "Do it," before he fell forward. There was a tremendous explosion as he hit the ground.


TBC

 


The Price of Failure 1-3 by Cathy Fisher
The Price of Failure 4-9 by Cathy Fisher
The Price Of Failure 10-14 by Cathy Fisher
The Price of Failure 15-20 by Cathy Fisher
The Price of Failure 21-26 by Cathy Fisher
The Price of Failure 27-31 by Cathy Fisher
The Price of Failure 32-27 by Cathy Fisher

 

 


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