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This page last viewed: 2017-06-23 and has been viewed 1340 times
RATING: G. It's pretty harmless.
SUMMARY: Response to the 'Characters Favourites' challenge/exercise from the SB-2 list.
Set around and after the end of the episode _Bounty_ (mostly because I wondered what book Murdock was reading)
WARNINGS: Well it's a bit soppy
"You can live a lifetime and, at the end of it, know more about other people than you know about yourself."
Murdock let the book
dangle against his knee and stared reflectively across the lawn. He could probably recite the whole passage if
he put his mind to it, but after the past few days it rang so true it nearly
He'd known almost without
a doubt how the rest of the team would react to his--he hesitated to say
'kidnapping', not liking the implication of helplessness it conveyed. He'd known instantly that once they found him
gone, and out of contact, that they'd try for the radio trick they'd used
before. Known with absolute certainty
that they'd find him, and later that they wouldn’t hesitate to go back for
Yet he hadn't, and still didn't, truly know what he would have done had anything happened to her. Hadn't even been able to tell whether the freezing, sick feeling in his stomach was fear or fury.
He raised his book again.
Maybe he didn't want to
"You learn to
watch other people, but you never watch yourself because you strive against
loneliness. If you read a book, or shuffle
a deck of cards or care for a dog, you are avoiding yourself."
He dropped the book to his side again. Too close. Too accurate.
He closed his eyes and
lifted his face slightly into the breeze.
He just wasn’t in the right mood for this book, much as it meant to him
"Murdock, you have a
"Huh?" For a moment it was difficult to untangle
himself from his own thoughts and he responded automatically with a dazed sort
of waffle about bills. He had turned back
to his contemplation before he realised the young
doctor hadn't gone away.
"It's not a bill
collector--it's a lady."
The world suddenly snapped
into sharp focus.
lady? Where is she?"
Murdock picked the last of
the melted cheese off the bottom of the pizza box. He avoided meeting Kelly's eyes even while
feeling guilty about doing it. After her
quiet invitation to tell her his 'long story' she hadn't pressed and he hadn't
volunteered and he felt guilty about that too.
"What are you
reading?" Kelly asked as the silence started to become uncomfortable.
Murdock closed the book
and pushed it towards her. He gave a
small inward smile at the though of the way Face would shake his head at the dishevelled state of it.
Murdock was one of those who believed books were there to be read--not
arranged on a shelf to be admired. He
mercilessly bent back the spines and folded down the corners of pages to mark
his place and read in the bathtub.
Kelly picked up the battered volume with what seemed like inordinate care given its already dog-eared state, and looked at the cover picture.
A small, oddly
squat-looking plane flew low over an almost black sea, its stubby landing gear
almost touching the tossing waves where the reflection of its running lights
Murdock shrugged almost in
embarrassment as he watched Kelly looking at it.
"Bit of artistic license there," he admitted. "Pretty though."
"West With The Night," Kelly read the title aloud. "What's it about?"
Murdock shrugged slightly
again. "Flying. Mostly." He leaned forward to tap the author's
name. "1936 she flew non-stop
"No!" Murdock reacted without thinking and Kelly jumped, startled. "No, no that's not what it's like. It's... I don't think I can explain it as well." He stared off into the distance for a few seconds before continuing. "Being alone in a plane isn't like being on your own on the ground. It's... You're not responsible for anybody except yourself. Y'know? And nobody is responsible for you, except yourself. Its... comforting. And liberating. At the same time..."
He grinned suddenly. "I'm making no sense at all here am I? Anyway even if you're not coming over all introspective it's a wonderful adventure story. I loved it when I was a kid. Bush flying and crashes and near misses and safaris and races. Great stuff!"
His gaze drifted off again.
flying. Really understands it. I don't mean the physics and aerodynamics and
engines and lift and all that stuff. But how it feels.
What it's like up there."
Murdock picked up the book
and after a glance down at it, looked up to met
Kelly's gaze. His smile this time was
heartfelt and almost playful.
"She even knows why
all us pilots are a bit loony. 'Cause there's no logic in flying you
know. The things that make people
think it's dangerous--the speed and the height--are really the things that keep
you safe, keep you airborne. When your
engine quits and all you want to do is avoid hitting the ground, the only thing
you can do to recover is dive towards it.
Gotta take off into a headwind, but what you
want to speed you along is a tailwind.
No wonder pilots are contrary."
Kelly smiled at him.
"I don't think you're
Murdock half dipped his
head away, trying to keep his tone light.
"Ah, you don't know me yet."
Kelly followed his movement refusing to let his eyes slip away from her's
"I feel like I
do. I want to."
After a moment her tone lightened
and she smiled.
"Maybe I should start
with reading that."
Murdock hesitated a moment then slid the book across the table towards her.
Her hand lingered a moment
against his as she reached out for it.
"I'll bring it back
next time I visit."
Murdock felt a silly
uncontrollable grin spread across his face.
course," Kelly said firmly.
"Didn't think you could disappear on me that easily did
you?" She grinned suddenly. "I can be just as unreasonable as any
Without warning she flung
her arms around him in a fierce hug which left him too startled to return it
until she prodded him in the ribs and demanded, "Is that all right with
Still grinning, Murdock
nodded. "Absolutely." He returned the hug.
Notes for the curious
The Night by Beryl Markham, is pretty much everything Murdock enthuses
about in this story. It absolutely
should be read by anyone with even the faintest liking for flying, for adventure
or just for downright beautiful, poetic prose.
The title came from
both my own fondness for reading as a form of escapism and from the memory of
one of the more memorable quotes from the book which observed that: "Flight
is but momentary escape from the eternal custody of earth."
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