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A Road to Hope (Challenge)

A Road to Hope (Challenge)
by:  Snickersmobo

Rating: PG-13
Warnings: Well, for the newbies, I never write anything fun and exciting. It's all angst, but the time frame for once leaves it in a dubious note, but yet a good one since it's pre-TAT television.
Can be depressing so if you are in that mood leave this story alone for later.  Though not nearly as depressing as my other stories.
Disclaimer:  Not mine,  I know who owns them, but I wish it was me.
Oh, and forgive the bad grammar and lack of dialogue. Then again, most of ya will know my writing. Hope you enjoy and others take up the challenge, too!  You can find the challenge on the ATSB2 list.


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He was cold. So very cold. The night air had a chill in it, but the man couldn't remember the last time he was warm. He couldn't remember anything. Not even his name. The newspapers he stuffed inside his clothes were not keeping him warm. The steam coming out of the vent had quit hours ago. Little did he know that the owners of the building turned off the heat at night since there was no night shift. It would be hours before the steam would come out of the vent. Others before him must have known this and that's why no one was bothering to steal his little place of civilization.

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The van was stifling hot. The three men in it were bundled in layers, ready at the first sign of military police. Three days ago they went over the wall at Fort Bragg running for their lives. Somehow it seemed like hours to the men in the van. Fear, worry, stress wore on all three faces. Through a convoluted route they ended up in the cemetery in Kansas, not even knowing why or where they were going. Ray had contacted them a week earlier in a note written in code that Murdock was in trouble.

The white haired man called Hannibal prayed he interpreted the code correctly, for what he read deeply disturbed him. He looked at BA driving and snuck a look in the rear view mirror and knew he hadn't misinterpreted it. BA's knuckles were write and holding the wheel and he hadn't made a sound since Face scammed the van and he took over the driving. Face hadn't shut up in the beginning until even he ran out of words. There was nothing to say until they met up with Ray. They were hoping he had the answers they were looking for.

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The man didn't remember falling asleep, but he must have as he heard noises all around him. He drew himself closer the concrete next to him, hoping to keep everyone at bay. Steam was rising once again and his stomach rumbled at the delectable smells also coming through the top of the concrete block.

His hunger overrode his fear and he headed for the dumpster hoping to find himself something to eat. He couldn't remember the last time he ate. Suddenly voices were shouting at him, some English, some foreign, maybe even Chinese or Vietnamese. One man hefted a huge knife and he thought he understood "no food here. You go. No food here." It was the knife that the man feared and he ran as fast as his strength would allow him to go. For him it was another day just like all the rest.   The restaurant owners, the other homeless, and the American's who saw his jacket forced him to keep moving if he wanted to stay alive. He must have wanted it so, because it was another day to find food and shelter in an area as foreign to him as Vietnam was. The only difference was that now he was alone.

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The van pulled into the cemetery at the coordinated time and place. Hannibal, Face, and BA were all nervous, but anxious also. The code was strictly A Team so there was a sense of security, but it was minimal. Face scouted the trees and quietly pointed to Hannibal a shadow that seemed more manmade than natural. And it was, as Ray slowly came out from hiding. Quietly hugs were exchanged before they settled down to business.

Ray had been keeping tabs on Murdock for the team. He knew Murdock had been sent on a CIA mission while they were in jail and somehow things went desperately wrong for him. Murdock ended up another POW camp for a few months before being rescued. Ray's contacts had put Murdock in a psychiatric hospital in California for a month before releasing him. Records reflected that Murdock was very sick, but there was no room in the hospital for him so they released him. Since his release no one had heard from him since.

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The man stuck his hand in the dumpster and pulled out something. He wished he hadn't. The dismembered hand he was holding, he quickly dropped and he ran again. It seemed all he was doing lately was running. Running from and not to. He had no place to run to at all.

His hideaway for this evening was a under a large patch of bushes well hidden in the park. The benches were all taken by those more experienced in homelessness. His strength was fading fast as he was now afraid of searching for food in the dumpster. The severed hand had brought back so many bad memories, he was terrified of looking for any more food in them. He couldn't beg for handouts. People frightened him. Especially those with Asian features. He stuffed more newspapers inside his clothes in hopes of becoming warm, all the while knowing it was useless.

The only thing keeping him going was a vague memory of a blond man. He couldn't remember his name, but it was the only memory he had that was good. All the other memories were jumbled, confused, as he couldn't keep anything straight in his mind. His sense of self was completely lost as he tried to sleep under the bushes.

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Face came out of the hospital with Murdock's medical records. He could hardly contain his anger at the system, the war, the doctors, everyone around him. It was clear Murdock was very mentally ill and shouldn't have been released. Murdock had a week's worth of medicine and no known job, or close relatives in the area. He could be anywhere. How were they going to find him in LA?

Hannibal's plan was to start searching the homeless shelters and areas where the homeless lived on the streets, parks, and empty buildings. BA and Face couldn't think of anything better so they with the shelters. No one had seen him.

On a whim, Face snuck into the orphanage where he grew up. He spent countless hours in the POW camp telling Murdock about the Father and his life. Maybe some part of Murdock would have found it. Hannibal would kill him if he knew he was going to the orphanage. Even as he snuck in just like before, he could see the military police across the street watching the front door. The front door was for Hannibal, Face used the side windows for his entrance.

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For once he was warm and cold. Sometimes he was sweating so hard he thought he'd die from the heat and then he'd be so cold, even colder than before. He knew he was sick with a fever, but what did it matter. He had no where to go. He curled up under the bushes even harder as he felt his body shake with fever and cold.

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Hannibal's angry expression when Face returned melted as Face told him and BA that Murdock had been there. The good father offered refuge, but Murdock had been paranoid, scared, and fearful the CIA was after him and would figure out he'd been there. He'd put Face's home in jeopardy and he couldn't do that. Murdock left with as much food as the orphanage could spare. No one knew where he'd gone.

No one had seen Murdock at the shelters. The team watched other homeless people. Watched them take things out of the dumpster's, beg for food, stand around restaurant's hoping someone would give them the 'doggie bag'. Following them, they noticed that most slept in the parks or near buildings that had heat coming out of them.  It was dark and the parks were many and large.  Everyone was wearing dark clothing.  It seemed fruitless to start searching for Murdock in the dark.  Everyone looked alike sleeping where normal people don't sleep. Hannibal suggested they start searching the parks the next day.

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He was too tired and weak to move. He needed warmth, real warmth and not fevered warmth.  He needed food, medication and friends.  He needed it all, but stayed under bushes because no one had asked him to leave yet.  For once, he wasn't running, and even if he should have, he had no energy to do so. Somehow, he knew he was dying and yet he wasn't ready. He hadn't said goodbye to friends. He didn't remember them, but he knew he had them. He remembered his blond friend holding his head in his lap, shedding tears on him, but yet his name still eluded him.  He knew his blond friend would miss him, but how would he ever know he was dead.  He wondered what his obituary would read because he didn't even remember his own name.

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The man on the bench reeked of cheap whiskey. Face being the less threatening of the team went forward to speak with him.  It had to have been his 20th time today and the team was no closer to finding Murdock.  No one wanted to give up.  Murdock had saved their own lives so many time in 'Nam, flying when no one else would, disobeying orders to bring men home, cracking wise in the camps.  He was a hero and deserved so much more than homelessness.  Face was never going to give up until he knew Murdock's fate.

Cheap whiskey or not, the man on the bench said there was someone in the bushes off to his left.  Face could see no one, but in sheer desperation went the way the drunk pointed.  He pushed back branches and climbed over and under some when he saw him.  If Face hadn't seen Murdock in the camps before he wouldn't have recognized him now. The long matted hair and beard, the smell, the clothes. He knew it was Murdock, but what he hoped was that he was alive. From Face's point of view that was debatable.

Face pushed forward softly calling Murdock's name.  No answer.  He put his hand on Murdock's neck and sighed in relief at the pulse he found.  It was weak, but there.  He put his hand on Murdock's forehead and knew his fever was very high.  There was nothing more he could do than get Hannibal, BA and the van.  Murdock needed medical attention and fast.

Out of breath, Face reached the van parked out of site of the road. No words were needed as Face beckoned with his hand to follow him. BA stayed with the van as Hannibal followed Face into the brush. Hannibal's intake of breath startled Murdock briefly as he fell back into his fevered state.  Hannibal picked up Murdock, noticing he weighed maybe less than he did at the camp, as Face made a path to the van.

They all agreed to take Murdock to the local emergency hospital where they could sneak in and monitor his progress.  All three were lost in their own thoughts as Face tried to cool Murdock's fever with cool clothes, while BA drove, and Hannibal was thinking up a plan to get Murdock well.

There was nothing more any of them could do for him.


Snickers


A Road To Hope (Challenge) by Snickersmobo

 

 


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