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After China

After China
By: Cabaret

Rating: NC17
Summary: Sequel to 'After the End'. Murdock has been transferred to the CIA against his will after the war ended in Vietnam. He has been on a deep cover mission to get information from and assassinate Vietnamese war criminals hiding in China and find out information on China's military and communist movements. Murdock believed he found his way back to Vietnam and after asking for help from what he believed to be a nun he passed out. The story picks up from there and is about Murdock going home to America.
Warnings: Angst, swearing, some torture.
Author's note: This story is going to jump around a bit, please bear with me and let me know if it works or not by the end.
Disclaimer: The A Team are not mine. The poem 'Do not go gentle into that good night' is Dylan Thomas', not mine. This story is not a reflection of China, the CIA or the Army.
Comments: Yes please.


Part 1

"Siz beck chilailack."
Ayo! Sis beck Cullin."
"Who beck cullin." The man laughed.
"Who beck toidem."
"Siz beck cullin!"

The woman playfully hit the man.

Murdock had been staring at the ceiling for some time now. The voices had increased as the light had faded. They were unfamiliar voices, their language choked and rolled with a hard Spanish like 'r' and deep throated 'ch'. Somewhere in him the voices had been making sense and it was breaking through to the surface of Murdock's thoughts, he replayed their conversation in his mind.

"You are beautiful."
"Oh! You are thick faced." Murdock had worked out this meant 'cheeky'.
"He is thick faced."
"He's had enough or suicidal." Murdock hadn't worked out the exact meaning yet.
"You are thick faced."
Murdock assumed that body language had accompanied the exchange as the two people were now laughing and running around the large tent.

"One day you might marry me, but you'll have to do a lot more to impress me than that."
Murdock turned the translations were coming through faster now, the language melted into him. He smiled as he saw the man prance in a dance that was his reply.
"Is that the best you can do?" The woman said. She took five water filled bowls and saucers from the table and stacked them on her head. She then began spinning around in time to the music and dipping her body at the music's intonation that was being played outside. The man flayed his arms and swayed his body back as he continued to dance around her. The woman didn't spill one drop of water, which she proved as the music ended by taking off each bowl and tipping the water back into the barrel that was standing solid in the corner.

"Well I guess you're too good to be a wife of mine then."
The woman laughed and collapsed into the man's arms. They fell onto the floor and slowly turned their heads to Murdock.
"Assalamualaikum." Murdock offered, shocked at seeing such forwardness from an unmarried couple.
"I told you he was one of us! Alaikumsalam brother." The man said excitedly. This was the standard Muslim greeting, the first meaning 'peace be on you'. The second being 'on you be peace.'
Murdock felt like he needed some more of these greetings.
"Where am I?"
"Don't worry, you're safe here. You're in East Turkistan."
"East Turkistan?"
Xin Jiang." The woman said.
"There is nothing new about this country." (Xin Jiang means 'New Country.') The man spat out.
"Please forgive me, I have a headache and it's been a long time since I spoke Uyghur."
"I guess they really bashed you up in jail. What did you do?"
"What?!" Murdock sat up, then fell back down quickly. His head spun and his stomach was looping and threatening to make an appearance.
"Maybe you should eat first." The woman offered as she brought a damp towel for Murdock's head. "We'll have a feast tonight, now that you're awake, but I have some kaubaozi and nan bread if you like now."
"Thank you." Murdock had no idea what was being offered to him, but his stomach was telling him the time to eat had long since passed.

The woman gave him a small parcel of hard savoury pastry that Murdock discovered had mutton and onion inside and was peppered with indescribable spices. The flavour was much stronger than he had eaten in a long time and he choked involuntarily on it.
"It's too dry! Bring him some yogurt." The man said quite mortified.
"I'm sorry, here, drink this. I can add sugar if it's too bitter."
Murdock drank the yogurt, it tasted like fresh live Greek yogurt, rich with flavour and texture.
"I'm so sorry, are you ok?" The woman asked earnestly, to provoke a reaction in her guest like this was so shameful.
"No please. It's me, I think my eyes are bigger than my stomach. I should eat slower."
"I guess they didn't feed you much in jail."
"Yeah, and nothing quite as wonderful as this." Murdock wondered just when he had been in jail. He was so sure he had just been in Vietnam. He looked around the tent to see shadows of ghost soldiers lining the walls of the tent. The stared at him coldly, with blood dripping from the open wounds in their heads down their eyes. Then they were gone.
"Why were you there?"
"Torgunay, don't be so nosey!"
"It's ok. I-I'm not really sure to be honest with you. Maybe I have something wrong in my head." Murdock looked up to see the nun cross herself above him.
"More like something wrong in your blood and skin. You're obviously Uyghur."
"I think it's more than that." Murdock muttered. His mind desperately searching for a clue from itself. "Look, I don't want to lie to you, but I don't know if I can trust you."
"Of course you can trust us, we too are Uyghur, Muslim and are your family." The man said indignantly.
"Thank you for your hospitality, but I have another family I must return to."
"I think…" The woman, Torgunay, placed her hand on the man's shoulder to stop him from saying anymore. "We should go to eat and then you may stay the night. After that you may go your own way."
"But we can help him." The man said.
"This man has something to do Abubakir. We shouldn't try to stop him."
"Yes, as ever dear lady you are right. What is your name?" The man, Abubakir, said with a sigh.
"That's just it, I don't know anymore." Murdock tried to ignore the bloodstained hand tugging at his arm. He yanked his arm free and wrapped it around his chest.
"Well I guess you were lucky to get out alive, it's something to be thankful for." Torgunay said.
"Not many have been so lucky." Abubakir looked down.

Murdock felt the sense of loss swirl around the tent. Torgunay left to help prepare for the feast after some time. As she left she gave Abubakir a long deep kiss and whispered in his ear.
"He doesn't need to know about your family. He looks like he has enough troubles."
Abubakir nodded and held the brightly dressed woman close. Murdock was shocked to see such openness between the unmarried couple. He knew he was no longer in China now.



Part 2


"Well I suppose you need a name then."
"It would help." Murdock half laughed.
"How about Ishmel? That was my brother's name. I think you will wear it well."
"Thank you Abubakir, for everything you've done."
"Really, it's nothing. You are my guest and it's a pleasure. You can rest for an hour, then we must dress for the feast." Abubakir stood up.
"Please! Don't leave me." Murdock gasped, his hand stretched out and searching for a reason why this stranger shouldn't leave him alone.
"Ishmel, don't worry yourself. You are safe here. We'll keep you safe."
"I'll protect you lil brutha, not gonna let anythin happen to ya." BA gripped Murdock's shoulder in support. Murdock turned his head and looked BA in the eye. He tried to breath but the air wouldn't go past his throat.
"Ishmel? Are you ok?"
"I don't know what's real and what's not." Murdock whispered.
"I'm real Murdock, you can trust me." Face said with a grin. "Now get this chopper up."
"Leave me alone!" Murdock shouted as he gripped his head.
"Wow they must have fried you up good and proper." Abubakir said quietly. "Did they find out you were Muslim?"
"I don't know, I don't know anything anymore." Murdock said through clenched teeth. He was so sick of not knowing, he strained his mind to open a door but nothing happened.
"Hey, take it easy. They use electricity to burn out your memory in the jail. They believe it will cure you of religion and just about anything else that's illegal. It's probably why you've lost your memory. It'll come back."
"How do I know you're real?"
"Maybe we should take a walk Ishmel." Abubakir wasn't too sure how to deal with this. The man had to be possessed. He kept flinching and jumping, perhaps there were fleas in the tent? Or the food did not agree with him?
"I'm not going anywhere until I know what's real. Oh man! I need to get out of here!" Murdock jumped out of the bed and was stopped by Abubakir.
"Calm down man, look we can take a walk by the river, get some air."
"No, it's an ambush, they'll be waiting by the river. The tunnels run alongside it, I saw the maps. I memorized them, some one wants the maps. I must draw the maps. They'll blow the tunnels. But no one's there now. The LZ is by the river, but they're in the trees. They're aiming for me, I gotta be quick but the soldiers take so long to get to the chopper. I can fly closer, but that brings me into a clearer shot. I gotta get down to that tree line. I gotta howl an go with it. I'm a river, a river mountain. I… I…"
Abubakir slapped Murdock.
"Ok. We go for walk by river. There is no, how you say… ambush in this place."
"You…. You speak English?"
"A little. Why are you so fluent?"
"Who are you?" Murdock pushed Abubakir away from him.
"You are American, yes? Or perhaps English?"
"I… I don't know. Where are we?"
"Come, let's go to the river, we can watch the last of the women washing their yogurt off." Abubakir switched back to Uyghur now. He couldn't keep up with this man's English and it seemed to upset him more than comfort him.
"What?" Murdock followed suit and switched back to Uyghur.
"The women, plaster their faces in yogurt to work in the fields, then take it off after the day. It keeps their skin fresh and stops them from burning in the sun. The last few should be washing it off about now."
"I did not know that." Murdock said shocked.
"Not many men do. Torgunay told me when I caught her putting the yogurt on one day. Sometimes I sneak up to watch them wash it off. Their skin is the most beautiful when the yogurt comes off."
"I didn't know any of that."
"So then I must be real."
"Murdock, you can stay alive by catching the bugs and eating them, you can eat the grass too. When they come to take you away, bite down on your watch strap. It hurts less."
"I knew that Face, you're not real." Face faded away, his hands grabbing and grasping to hold on to Murdock in vain. "I'm sorry for my outburst Abubakir. Please forgive me. My head is broken now."
"It will get better. I will stay with you throughout the feast. Now you know you can trust me."
"Yeah, you're real."

Ishmel and Abubakir walked along the river bank. They returned an hour later and changed into soft linen white clothes. Abubakir was true to his word and stayed with Ishmel throughout the feast. No matter how many times Torgunay begged him to dance he remained seated by Ishmel's side and took him back to the tent when it was time to sleep. The next morning they woke early. Ishmel's stomach groaned from eating so much food, but it was a great kind of ache, one that he hadn't had for a long time.

"The boys need you Murdock, I need you. No one can fly a chopper like you. Come back to reality kid, we'll look after you I promise. Come back to the team. You weren't made to rot away in a hospital like this."
Murdock looked around the prefab of a hospital, he couldn't make out who was talking to him, but there was a sickly smell of cigar smoke in the air.
"You can't smoke that here Colonel. You should let him get some rest."
"It's ok, I can put it out but I won't leave Doc. You gotta get my boy up an mobile again."
"Liar." Murdock whispered as he chewed the sides of his cheeks.
"Morning Ishmel."
Good morning Abubakir."

"I think today you should leave. I will travel with you to Kashgar, try to get you home from there."
"You can do that?"
"It'll be hard, but we can only try and pray. I used to know a man there who could contact the Americans. If he's still there he will help us."
"Thank you, you are a true brother Abubakir."
"I don't know your business, but Allah is looking after you so I must help Allah."



Part 3

"Abubakir, can't you stay?"
"I must go back, my friends, my family need me there. Aziz will take care of you now. It was a pleasure having you as my guest but you must continue on your journey." Abubakir felt bad about leaving the strange man, but he couldn't risk having him in his home any longer. The army would be looking for him for sure.
"I have contacted the Americans they will arrive tomorrow." Aziz said with a smile.
"Please never forget our country Ishmel. We don't have much, but the people still feel that we are a country."
"I do too Abubakir. I won't forget." Ishmel shook hands with Abubakir to part their ways. He knew that he had to be alone again.
"You may rest here Ishmel." Aziz showed Ishmel into a small room. "It is my children's room, they will sleep with me and my wife tonight."
"Please, I don't want to put you to any trouble."
"It's no trouble." Aziz smiled.

Murdock lay on the bed, voices swirled around him, voices of the past jabbed and nibbled away at him. He had long since closed his eyes and was startled when they shot open. There was the dog again. He was pulling at Murdock's sleeve with a determination that didn't match his strength.
"Fuck off Billy. You lied to me." Murdock muttered in a hushed tone.
"He saved you, you idiot." Face threw a cigarette onto the floor.
"You fucker Face!" Murdock said as he scrambled to retrieve the butt before it burnt into the thick carpets of the house. "I'm goin home, you ain't gonna fuck this up for me. Whichever part of my twisted imagination you came from, fuck right back off to it." Murdock snarled.
"And yet you think that cigarette is real?" Face said smugly. "A least get a sense of continuity here Howlin'."
"Leave me alone!" Murdock touched the dog's head and petted him without thinking. He was thrown back instantly. "What…..?"
Murdock saw himself laying in the sand of the river bank. He saw uniformed men, directed by his last boss collect his body and throw it into a truck. Murdock felt the thick oily fog begin to creep into his sight. He could hear barking, always barking. The dog was never quiet, it howled at night and growled through the day. Murdock longed for it to be quiet, but it never stopped. He couldn't sleep, couldn't wake, he just heard barking.

"Well, well, well. The prodigal son returns." The voice was familiar but Murdock couldn't place it.
"Where am I?"
"Safe Murdock. Now you're safe, we've come to take you home." Pete Davenshire stepped into the light followed by Aziz and the usual accompaniment of faceless agents.
"No." Murdock whispered as he turned away. "No, no, no, no, no." It wasn't a command, more of an admission of defeat.
"I thought you were coming tomorrow, you are early."
"We made good time."
"He is very sick, you can take him home?" Aziz asked worried for the stranger in his house. He had promised Abubakir he would take care of this man that looked so much like the real Ishmel had looked when he lived.
"Don't worry, we have hospitals in America that will get him all better. We take care of our own." Davenshire palmed a wad of fat bills to Aziz. "This is for your help."
"I can't…"
"And your silence on the matter."
"I will share it with the man who found him."
"I would appreciate his silence too."
"In Xin Jiang, who can we talk to? Your silence is guaranteed."
"Come Mr. Murdock. We have work to do." Davenshire called brightly as the too agents roughly dragged Murdock from the room.
"Run!" Murdock said in Uyghur. "Get your family, get out of here now. Don't trust these men. Go now Aziz, use the back door."
"What did you say?" Davenshire spun around and lifted Murdock's head by his hair so the two locked eyes.
"He is thanking me for my hospitality. It is customary to say these words in a Muslim house hold if you are a guest." Aziz pulled his children close to him.
"So you're not too far gone then? Good to see you still firing on all cylinders." Davenshire said menacingly.

Murdock was bundled into a car. The doors were closed and as they drove off an explosion shattered the horizon behind them.
"Nifty lil gadgets these." Davenshire flipped a key ring to Murdock.
"You monster." Murdock turned to watch the blazes of fire crumple into the distance. He couldn't be sure but he might have seen four figures standing at the back of the house watching their home collapse.
"I'm not the one who torched an entire school. You're still wanted for that by the way."
"What? I didn't torch any school!"
"Either way they got you pegged down for it, both sides of the pond."
"I-I didn't do anything wrong. I remember that day. I left the presentation, had a cigarette, quit, threw it down…"
"Tricky thing fuses. You never know what will set them off."
"No! It was a high frequency detonator. The packages weren't linked any other way."
"We told you to put in a back up."
"It was too risky."
"Well, it's a good thing we had a back up agent then wasn't it. You got a lot of bad guys in that blast. Good work agent Murdock."
"How do they know it was me?" Murdock said after a long pause.
"You blew your cover, the only survivor. You weren't supposed to be there. They put two and two together. Don't worry kid, we'll keep you safe."
"Thought you were supposed to be the good cop Davenshire."
So what information do you have of the Chinese prison service?"

Davenshire decided to ignore Murdock's last comment.
"Are there any American's inside?"
"I-I don't know." Murdock was confused, this was too much information coming too fast.
"You better know, and soon. A whole lot is depending on you."
"Can I go home?" Murdock was now holding his head, trying to block it all out.
"Not just yet."
"You promised!"
"I did no such thing."
"The last time I saw you, you said I could go home. I know that was real, I know it happened."
"Agent Hodges may have said that. I don't make promises I can't keep."
"Where is he?"
"Dead. Get on the plane."
Murdock looked up to see a plane on a runway prepped for take off. He gingerly stepped out and climbed into the plane. He surveyed the guts of the metal beast, one pilot, two compartments. Before he could finish his assessment he was roughly grabbed by an agent who forced him into a chair. Something jabbed him in the neck and Murdock's world became hazy.
"Just in case you were thinking of taking up your old flying hobbies." Davenshire's voice melted with Murdock's spine as he slumped into the chair and was strapped down.


Part 4


"Macau. Locals speak Cantonese and Portuguese. Here's your target. Make contact with this agent, she'll show you were the target is. You take him out."
"With my hands?"
You think I'm putting a gun into your hands? You'll get that when you make contact."

"I don't want to do this."
"You're a killer Murdock, a murderer, what's one more life gonna hurt?"
"Who is this guy?"
"You don't need to know."
"Can I at least get something to eat?"
"No time."
"Can I go home after?"
"We'll see."
Murdock was lead away, he followed obediently.

Davenshire picked up the flashing phone.
"How's our rogue agent Mr. Davenshire."
"Fucking useless Sir. I told you it was too long to leave him out there. He has flipped his lid."
"I thought you said he was tough, could handle it."
"I was wrong, he's cracked up. He's only good for assassinations now."
"Yes, I see. Did you get the information from him?"
"No. I'm easing him back into active duty. He might come back."
"What's he doing now?"
"Assassination. Simple hit and run."
"Good work, keep it up. If he cracks up completely… Well let me know how he gets on."
"I'll keep you posted Sir." Davenshire sighed as he put down the phone. He wasn't sure what he was going to do with agent Murdock. He knew the company wouldn't let Murdock go and that would make him his problem. Davenshire leafed through some files.
"What the hell do I have to do to get rid of you?" He sighed as he smacked the files down on the table.
"If only you'd give us the information we need…" Davenshire strutted around the office trying to think how he could get the information out of a pilot that had been trained all his life never to give away any information. It certainly was a puzzle.

The female agent hung up the phone and greeted Murdock coldly. He followed suit and greeted her equally. Two hours of travelling had not put him in the most welcoming of moods. They both spoke Cantonese, which was Murdock's least favourite language. It was a fine language if you wanted to argue, but it lacked the flexibility of English, the comedy value of Spanish, the romantic soft tones of Mandarin and the proud, descriptive qualities of Uyghur. Cantonese was just a loud shouting language that held no feeling for the pilot so it was easy to have little feeling for this woman.

They didn't talk much, she got Murdock into position and he waited. They were in a small rice storage room over looking the street below. Murdock's target owned the casino opposite the street. Murdock had a clear view of the back entrance where the target would enter to collect the profits. He looked down the sights of the gun. It would be easy from here.
"So why aren't you doing this then?" Murdock turned himself around under the window and looked at the woman. She was Chinese, but something hadn't sat right with Murdock since he'd first met her. Something in her manner or her stance and her language was flawless, too flawless. After two years of observing these people, he knew how to spot a fake.
"Just do your job." She snapped.
"No really, I wanna know. I mean you look the part, have the attitude. Why aren't you pulling the trigger?"
"You're not looking out the window. You could miss the target."
"Like I give a shit."
Turn around." The woman pulled a knife and approached Murdock. "You must take the shot." She lunged threateningly at Murdock who caught her arm and drew her in close to his body.

"Why won't you take the shot?" He whispered in English as he pressed his cheek up to hers.
"Let me go!" The woman whimpered.
"Only if you cut the bullshit and drop the language sister."
"Why can't you just do your job?" The woman said in English as she relaxed her body and fell limp in Murdock's arms.
"Knife please."
The woman gave up the knife.
"And I'll take that gun that you have on your hip… Or are you just glad to see me?"
"Shut the fuck up." The woman sulked as she gave up her weapons. "If they hear us speaking English we're dead meat."
"So why won't you take the shot?"
"Because my operation wasn't as successful as yours." The woman spat out. "Will you let me go now?"
"On what?"
On if you still gotta mind to kill me or not."

"I wasn't gonna kill you."
Murdock raised one eye brow.
"You're too valuable, I'm here to protect you."
"Blind leading the blind here huh?"
"I'm not totally blind. I see in blurs and shadows and I've been studying Kung Fu for five years. You don't need to see too clearly for everything."
"Perfect CIA agent. And yet, you couldn't stop me? Cut the crap lady."
"Someone like you doesn't present a target."
"Oh and why would that be?"
"Cos I know that wasn't a gun in your pocket." The woman cocked her head to one side slightly. Game, set and match. Murdock was too shocked to do anything.
"I, uh, I better get back to the window." Murdock switched back to Cantonese.
"You know he's not due for another hour."
"Then why were you so keen for the job before?"
"Wanted to see what moves you had." The woman stepped towards Murdock and pressed her body against his.
"Don't try to seduce me." Murdock pulled away and kneeled in front of the window pressing his chest into the long range rifle as he squinted through the sights. "Especially in Cantonese." He added with disgust.
"I'm just following suit here sailor."
"I was not trying to seduce you, I was trying not to get killed. And it's pilot."
"How long you been in China the pilot?"
Murdock wondered why he'd just told her he was a pilot. "Too long."
The woman leaned over Murdock. She put her arm over him and circled her finger behind Murdock's ear. "It's a lonely country huh?" She whispered close into his ear.

Murdock felt his heart pound inside him, her breath was hot and moist. He could feel her soft breast pressing against his arm. Murdock realised his chest was damp from sweat as his shirt was clinging to his body. Murdock ran his fingers through his hair and blew out his cheeks. This wasn't quite the image the CIA advertised.
"Look our target's coming any minute now."
"He's not due for an hour."
"Just let me do my job."
"You need to learn to relax a bit."
"What is with you? First you wanna kill me. Then uh…" Murdock lost his words as the woman ran her hard tongue up the side of his neck and nibbled his ear. "Oh come on! That's not fair!" Murdock sighed with defeat.
The woman pushed him over with little effort and grabbed his crotch.
"You gonna try and tell me you don't want this? Why ya gotta fight everything?"
"Just made that way I guess. What's your story?"
The woman was now sitting on Murdock's hips unbuttoning her shirt.
Murdock breathed heavily, gasping for the air that would give his body relief. He didn't know how she did it, but this woman had turned on every switch in his body in one deft move. Had it been so long? All reason had been turned off as she began unbuttoning his shirt. Murdock moved his hands up her body, his thumbs rising over the contours of her skin, his hands smoothing her back and pulling her down towards him. A small voice inside him threw up its hands and walked away in exasperation, Murdock was no longer listening.

"Five years of sleeping with Chinese ass holes makes a girl want a lil more, if you know what I mean."

Murdock swallowed hard. She was sliding down his body now. Murdock drifted away, his body was alive and he flinched with every touch. He could feel his mind shutting down and all other senses waken within him. He closed his eyes, there was something familiar about this, but it had been so long ago, before China. Murdock's mind searched to remember something before China. Could there have been anything outside China? The country was so overwhelming, it was all too easy to forget another world existed outside the boarders. Murdock told himself to stop thinking.

"Don't you miss other Americans?" The woman bit Murdock's chest as she pressed her now naked body into Murdock's silky damp skin.
"Right now?" Murdock almost squeaked.
"At least the company."
Uh I dunno."

"I guess you weren't as isolated as me." The woman slid gently onto Murdock and let out a soft groan. "In the North, there were Americans, weren't there?"
"No, in the prison… there were…"
"But it's not the same…"
"Oh yes…"
"Not like this…"
"No women then…"
"Keep talking…"
"Fuck talking…" Murdock let out a soft cry as the woman rocked above him.
"Ssshh!" The woman covered Murdock's mouth with her hand. "You have to keep it quiet or we're both dead."
Murdock pulled her down to lay on top of him.
"Keep talking, keep thinking, it'll stop you losing control." The woman whispered as she quickened her pace.
Murdock spun the woman round so that he was on top of her now, he pinned her arms down and looked into her eyes, they were black and soulless, an abyss of deception.
"No, no women, just men." Murdock said in a low voice, he controlled the pace now.
"How many Americans?"
Oh uh… Four… Six…"

"Oh yes…"
"Or maybe less… Maybe none…"
"What do you mean?"
"Well it's so hard to tell these days…"
Murdock finished, he stopped moving but he still held the woman down. "Just who's on your side and who's not."
"You bastard!"
Get dressed." Murdock said with disgust. The woman tried to struggle up but Murdock pushed her back to the floor, then pulled on his clothes.

"Hey I was just following orders."
"Good for you. Tell me, how's it feel to be a high priced CIA hooker?"
"Fuck off."
"What am I? Your first? You haven't been working for the CIA for five years and you haven't been here that long either. You should have started questioning sooner. You had me at the whole whispering in the ear thing." Murdock knelt before the rifle and waited.
"I did?" The woman pulled on her shirt.
"Yeah, I'm easy." Murdock smiled. "As is this shot." Murdock leaned forward, he was clear and focused.

He could see the target clearly. The room zoomed away from him. He was standing in front of the target now holding the gun to his head. He could see the target's eyes, small and beady, flit around searching for Murdock. But of course he couldn't see his killer. Murdock squeezed the trigger. The bullet flew like a jet leaving a carrier. Murdock saw the ripples of air as it cut through the atmosphere. Then it struck, burying itself into the target's skull. Blood surfaced in front of Murdock, the target looked him in the eye. Then the man dropped. Murdock took one last look at his handiwork, then fell back into the room and ducked down beneath the window ledge. He breathed for the first time as chaos broke out in the street below him.
"Did you get him?"
"Of course I got him. We better move out, this place'll be swarmin with VC any minute now."
"Move! We can cut through the jungle and tree hop til we get to the LZ. I'll be waiting for the pick up. If I'm not there, hold on as long as you can, I'll be coming. Use red smokes to signal me in if you change the LZ." Murdock jumped up and dragged the woman with the gun across the room.
"What the fuck are you doing? What are you talkin' about?" The woman pulled away from Murdock's grip.
"Is this because I fucked you?" Murdock said in a patronising tone.
"We stick to the plan." The woman's face flushed red.
"It's not safe here."
"This is not Vietnam."
"Maybe, maybe not, but I know when a situation's not safe."
"I leave with the gun, you lay low and get picked up in half an hour."
"Do I have 'shot me' written on my skull? Come on." Murdock dragged the woman out of the room. they hit the street and ran down a back alley away from the commotion.
They jumped into a car and Murdock held the hand gun to the woman's stomach.
"Take me back."
"I don't know the way."
"Bullshit, take me back or get me to a boarder. Or you join our friend the target back there." Murdock glared at the woman, his eyes intense and mixed with flares of angry colour.
"Ok, ok. I'll take you as far as the boarder, I can't get into China on my papers."
Murdock sat back and began buttoning his shirt.
"Hey big boy, wanna leave that undone? We could make an unscheduled stop."
"You are unbelievable! I am not fallin for that twice. Jeez I'll never understand woman."
"It was just a thought, I did mean what I said back there."
"Bollocks did you."
"Well if you don't wanna believe it fine. But you got something goin on."
"Then perhaps you should take up being a nurse."
"You seem to have a thing for guys who should be in hospitals."
"Maybe I just like your tan."
Murdock looked down at his chest. He hadn't realised it before, but his skin had returned to that reddish olive colour he'd had when he first entered China.

Women may be complex, but you are way past understanding."

"Me?! You're the one that's wanting your own personal baby farm here."
The two agents fell silent as the situation dawned on them.
"Shit, what if you get pregnant?"
"They didn't tell you, did they?"
Murdock furrowed his brow at the woman, who was now emanating pity.
"Agent Hodges liked to keep a close eye on his agents, especially the ones on deep cover missions. I know I'm sterile…" She trailed off.
The car fell into silence. Murdock watched the ancient structures pass by them, a cathedral, a terrace of Mediterranean looking houses with balconies. Fish markets and fruit sellers. He blinked back the tears that were beyond retrieval, rolling silently down his cheeks. Macau was beautiful, the perfect blend of China and Portugal, but all Murdock could see was a dark grey corridor crowned in a tissue of lies.
"So what did happen in that prison?"
"Just drive." Murdock mumbled without turning his head.


Part 5


"Futian. It's a small village outside Hong Kong. You will meet this man. Take him across the boarder. Contact this agent in Hong Kong at this address, he'll take the man off your hands."
"How am I supposed to get him across the Hong Kong Boarder? It's like the Berlin Wall there."
"Use your imagination. The boarder guards are all on the look out for him, so don't try to fake an ID."
"Can I go home after this?"
"Yes or no Davenshire."
Look every time you come back from a mission you're a different man Murdock. We still need the information about the prison and you're still claiming to know nothing. You bust up your room when you're not active and talk to yourself about all kinds of shit, but you come together for missions. It's the only thing that's been consistent with you over the last two months. It's not much incentive for me to send you back, is it?"

"I need to go home."
"Murdock, you were built for active duty. If you go home, they're gonna lock you away in the nut house and you'll rot there for the rest of your life. What's worse?"
"I could settle down. Lay low. Maybe start a family."
"Guys like you don't settle down, trust me Murdock, I've seen it before."
"Maybe because guys like me can't cos o guys like you."
"How many times? You saw the test results. You're not sterile Murdock. I told you, Hodges only did that with the women, with their consent to avoid complications on missions. I dunno why you're so worked up about this."
"Why is it the more you talk the less I believe you?"
"Can you do the mission or do you want another holiday in the isolation room."
"No I'll do it." Murdock said and hastily grabbed the file. "You'll send me home soon though right?"
"Soon enough."

Murdock watched the sunrise through the tall fence. He swept the road tracing the boarder fence checking the towers that were built every ten meters apart and within view of every angle of the boarder. This was going to be impossible. Murdock looked up at the horizon of his reed hat. There it was. A long narrow sewage pipe ran alongside the fence from the village. The reservoir was on the other side of the fence. It had to cross over at some point. Murdock wondered how big his contact was. If he was a big man then this idea was out. Murdock shuffled a slow walk along the fence. The guards in the towers turned to watch him, their guns slung over their arms and following their line of sight. Murdock was hunched over leaning on his road brush. From above he looked like an old crippled man, his height deceptively short. Any skin that showed was dark red like a Chinese road worker. The guards were only mildly interested in the presence of this man. He was of no threat to them. Murdock finally saw what he was looking for, the pipe crossed the fence and poured into the reservoir. A slow dredge of sludge trickled into the brown green water. They must have had plans for this village as the sewage pipe was far too big for a village this size. There were thick rushes of tall grass around the pipe leading down to the water and on the other side of the reservoir Hong Kong stretched out in a collection of islands. It would be hard, but it was possible.

"Can you swim?" Murdock asked after he received the correct answer to his password.
"Can you swim?"
"Yes, but I'm not swimming to Hong Kong!"
"Do you wanna get there or not?"
"Yes but swim?"
"Oh it's not the swimming we gotta worry about on this one."
"What is it we have to worry about then?"
"Let's just say, I'm glad you're a skinny man." Murdock crouched in the dirt behind the building and drew in it with a stick. "We're here right?"
This is Hong Kong and this is the boarder fence."

"Now there's no way to get across officially cos the guards are expecting you to make a run. Through, under or over the fence is impossible due to the tower guards and the perimeter guards walking the fence hourly."
"So how do we get across?"
"Well, and this is the genius part of my plan, there's a sewage pipe running from the village to the reservoir on the other side of the fence. We get in here at nightfall cos the stench will be too much in the heat of the day. Crawl along it to here, slip out and swim to the nearest boat, commandeer said boat and sail off to Kawloon. The boarder is British run there and we should have an agent waiting for us to sort out the paperwork and hopefully a shower."
"I should never have trusted the Americans. This is madness!"
"It's our best shot as far as I can see."
"Ok, what do we do if anything goes wrong?"
"Pray that nothing does. Hey, how come your English is so good? You're not from China are you?"
"Wow you're good, most Westerners can't tell the difference. I'm Vietnamese. I learnt by helping the Americans in the war."
You're Vietnamese? I wouldn't have guessed."

"I wouldn't have guessed you are American. You look you are from Tibet or anywhere but America."
"I guess this is why they're helping you out then?"
"Yes, they said if I can get myself to China, they will arrange my exit to the USA."
"We shouldn't be talking about this. Get your things together, we move in ten minutes."

Murdock lit a cigarette and looked to the setting sun sinking rapidly behind the Wu Tong Mountain. Something pulled him back into the shadow of the building. Murdock stumbled back and fell to the floor.
"Whatch you playin' at here sucker?"
"Wha…? BA? No, you don't come on missions. We agreed, just Billy. You guys leave me and lie to me, I can't think straight when you're here. Go away BA, please go away." Murdock closed his eyes and started counting to himself. This usually helped it all go away.
"I ain't leavin, you gone soft in the head here fool? They only keeping you goin as long as you keep goin."
"I-I gotta finish the mission, you'll all come back when I finish, cos then I can go pick you guys up."
"We long dead fool. You gotta save yo self."
"You don't know that for sure. I just gotta get to the Bank of Hanoi."
"Even if we were there, you think we'd stick around waitin for you?"
"You're right. I fucked it up. But you left me. Let's just keep that clear. I wanted to go, to wait an pick you guys up. Hannibal made me go back to the base."
"So it Hannibal's fault then lil brutha. Listen to me before the rest come."
"They're coming now?" Murdock grimaced, he knew he'd be surrounded by a killing field any minute now and the bodies would be dragging him down with them.
"Yeah, commin' fast lil brutha. Listen, you don't have to finish the mission. This guy can get himself out, he knows the plan. You can shut down now, you done more than your tour of duty. The army'll find you. Take you home, get you better then you can fly again."
"Yeah… it'll be easy huh BA? They gotta still be lookin' for me."
"They are fool, they are. Your tour is over, gotta lie down now."
"I'm so tired BA."
"Don't sleep, never sleep, just wait. Safer that way lil brutha."
Murdock looked over to see BA had one leg missing and was bleeding through his green vest.
"They took you down?" He said weakly.
"Even I'm not strong enough for this war."
"Then I can't be." Murdock saw the bodies being dumped around him. Some fell from the sky, some rose from the ground. They clutched onto him and pulled him down to the soft warm pools of reddy brown that surrounded him. Murdock heard nothing but the screams and the gun fire. No choppers were in the sky, no rescue was in sight. Billy stopped barking, he lay beside Murdock and rested his head on his chest. Murdock could see the sky in the far off distance, it was a long way away, but it was a beautiful clear blue.



Part 6


"Boarder line malnutrition, but there's…"
"He should be awake now…"
"Another cat scan…"
"Can you hear…"
"I can't understand…"
"Perhaps we missed…"
"Check him…"
"He needs to start…"
"He could eat if…"
"Wake up!"
"Not a prisoner…"
"Agent Murdock!"
Lights are on…"
"Nobody's home…"
"Agent Murdock!"
Up the…"
"Not a…"
"Good idea…"
"Not working…"
"One week…"
"Agent Murdock!"
"Up the…"
"Agent Murdock!"
"Agent Murdock!"
"Try this…"
"Do you realise just how many dollars he's wasting?"
"Agent Murdock!"

"Agent Murdock!"
"Agent Murdock!"
"Agent Murdock!"
"It was destroyed with the rest of the files."
"What about the agents who worked with him?"
"One disappeared, the other two were killed."
"So what's our options here Doc?"
"Well he's not responding to anything I'm doing. I'd say his brain is fried."
"That your professional opinion?"
"I pulled his files from the army, he's listed missing in action."
"So they don't know about us?"
"Not officially. It also says that he was going off the rails then. He was all set for an honourable discharge and a one way ticket to the funny farm. Hell of a way to treat our war heroes huh guys?"
"It's the professionalism I admire in you Doc."
"Yeah thanks for the lay man's terms Doc."
"How did we get him back anyway?"
"He showed up in Hong Kong, a fisherman thought he was a dead body, pulled him in and left him in a local hospital when it turned out he was breathing. The British were all over it, his picture was plastered all over the papers. We sent an agent in who'd worked both sides of the boarders, just in case he was one of ours. She confirmed he had been working the China side of the boarder, gave us some background. Apparently this guy blew up a school and is holding out on information."
"God knows what they were thinking of when they brought him on board. No wonder he blew the school. He was well far gone by the time he was sent there."
"I just don't understand where he got the explosives from."
"Ex-army, current CIA, it wouldn't have been difficult to make a home brew."
"One hell of a home brew. What the hell do they teach you agents?"
"Need to know Doc."
"Well there's nothing I can do with him."
"What do ya reckon?"
"Dump him in the nearest harbour with a Vietnamese ship with his name, rank and number. Pay off the Captain to take him to the local army station States side. They can sort him out in one of their VA hospitals. We can monitor him from there, when he comes to, we'll drop by get the information we need and assess his status then."
"Good a plan as any. Cargo's coming in today."
"Can we get tags made up in time? What's his blood type Doc?"
"Oh I have it in the files in my office. I'll arrange for him to be ready for travelling, we can go sort out the paperwork now."


Noise. Too much noise. Shouting and talking all around. Black. Silence. Back to the war with familiar sounds of silence that Murdock could sleep through.

"Mr Murdock?"
"Mr Murdock, can you hear me?"
Who is that?
"Mr Murdock, you're safe here, I want you to blink twice if you can hear me."
It's a trap! Don't move a muscle. You're not home yet. You can't trust her.
"Ok, send him up to ward B. The doctor will be along in the morning to assess medication."
"Should we tranquilise him?"
"I don't really want to do that without knowing his condition. Put it on stand by, in case he wakes up and makes problems."
"Alright Sister."
Oh and better restrain him just in case."

"Ok Sister."

Murdock was mildly aware of movement, then a tightening.
"Try to get some sleep now Mr Murdock." It was a young female voice with an unfamiliar accent. "Lord only knows what you been through la." The sheets were briskly ruffled and tucked in. "Don't worry, we'll look after you now."
Will you make the promise too I wonder? Will you leave me too? Or are you an angel? You have the voice of an angel, I must be dead. Stay down just in case. Wait until you know it's safe.
The lights were turned off and the angel walked slowly down the hall humming to herself.

"So we've no information on this man, just that he was a pilot, fought in Vietnam and he's been missing in action for about two and a half years. Then he turns up on a cargo ship, but is catatonic and because he has dog tags is brought here. Is it just me or does this story sound just a bit far fetched to you as well."
"Oh come on Doctor Andrews, you got to'ave a bit of imagination."
"Aye well, you Taffs are all aboot tha'."
"Oi cheeky! It's Welsh to yew."
"I tel't ye, somethin's fishy here Angharad. I guarantee the army is behin it."
"Well yew can play sewper detective else wherre bach, this boyo needs tew get better. So what do we doo Jock?"
"Hoi! Now whe's bein cheeky? Ah wis only jookin aboot tha Taffy thin ye knaw."
"Would you two talk properly! I swear any time you two are alone together it's accents at dawn. You're in America now, get a clue! We haven't the faintest what you're on about! You, less of the Welsh. And doctor, please cut out the broad Scots."
"Sorry Sister."
"Aye, sorry Sister. It's jus natural for us."
"I just wish I could do it!"
The three laughed.
"Trust me, when you get going in your slang, we don't ave a Scooby… uh clue."
"Well maybe we shouldn't be talking about this in front of the patient ladies."
"Well it might confuse him enough into waking up."
"Well it's a new therapy I guess Sister."
"Ok, so Ah want a full cat scan, reflex tests, the whole nine yards. Let's see if we can reach him. If that does'nae work. We'll try him oen tha' new therapy, the insulin shock therapy. Ma guess is this has happened recently, or at least in the last two or three years, if we can get past tha', then we'll be in business."
"Yes doctor."
"Yes doctor Andrews."
"Sister, see what else ye cun dig up about his past. The more we know the better chance we have. Angharad, I want you tae keep a close eye oen him."
The three people left.

"Do ya think you're back kid?"
"Fuck off Hannibal. You are not my friend." Murdock buried his face in the pillow, just to make sure he didn't make a sound. He was sure he wasn't speaking aloud, but he couldn't be sure of anything these days.
"Well you have new information, Welsh people are called Taffs or Taffy. And your angel is called Angharad. That's how you're working these days isn't it? New information means reality?"
"Yes, but it doesn't count for you."
"I'm just sayin, maybe you should give this a shot. I've never liked any treatment with the word 'shock' in it."
"Billy, here boy." Billy jumped to the bed and Murdock stroked his soft fur. "We don't have to listen to him Billy. Now you stand guard and don't let them get me." Murdock looked nervously at the filling room of zombie soldiers and agents walking slowly towards his bed. Billy growled and bared his teeth, but he didn't bark.



Part 7


Murdock's body was sweating. He was lifted and placed on a rubber mat, strapped down and then a thick rubber plate forced into his mouth.
"Any change?"
"Only physical. Before the treatments, he starts sweating a lot Doctor Andrews."
"Does he make any noise during the treatments?"
"Well at least it's a small change."

Murdock felt the cotton swap touch his arm, the sharp smell of alcohol stung his nose. Then the pin prick needle entered his blood stream. It jagged into him and sucked back a droplet of blood, then slammed home the insulin. Murdock's body instantly reacted. It jumped up as much as the restraints would allow it. Murdock felt the numbness eat away at his body as the insulin froze him in time. Then his mind was thrown out of his body. It was too painful to stay inside his body and feel it die slowly. Murdock floated above his body and felt the grabbing of soldiers crying out for him to come back and pick them up. He saw the eyes of the snipers line with his own, between them, the barrel of a gun. He tried to move but now his mind was also frozen. Then he fell. Like a bird shot down in the sky he plummeted to the ground and lay there waiting for his burial.

Murdock never knew how they brought him back from his temporary death. He knew he didn't like it, any of it. He always forgot who the people who visited him everyday were. But it was always his angel's unusual sing song accent that triggered the memories. She would always come to take him back to his room, it disturbed him that he never knew who she was until she had tucked him back into bed and had talked to him for about ten minutes.

"Well, Morris is feeling better, I asked him if he'd come visit yew naw. I think he will, but I'll'ave to hold his 'and. He was in Vietnam too. He might know yew if he sees yew. Mind yew, your skins always changing colour I sometimes don' recognise yew. Your like a chameleon boy! If I wasn't here to know where yew are in the day, I'd swear you go out to sunbathe! Mind yew, I know the feeling la, I got freckles yew see, can yew see them? Every time I go in the sun I look like a puzzle of dot to dot! My Dad always said it was Wales calling me back, but then he's an old romantic about the country. I don't really miss it, all slate an coal mines there boy. What isn't mined is farmed. It's terrible boring I tell yew. Duw duw! (good God!) when are yew going to talk back? I'm only from a small village, what else can I say to yew? I suppose I could sing… No, that's just too silly and Taffy. I'm done with all that nonsense la. Tell yew what though. Tomorrow's Christmas, I'll share one of my presents with yew. How's that then? Hopefully my Mam is a bit more inventive than the perfume she sent last year! Now that would be a sight! She might complete the set an give me make up! Don't worry your head Bach, I'm no gonna do anything too girly to yew. Well I might if you don't start talking soon. It'll'ave to be that or I start singing and I'm a big city girl now, so no chance buster." Angharad paused to look out the window and fix the drapes. Murdock flinched in the bed.

"Wass that? Don't worry, I'm still ere. Yew are a funny one Mr Murdock."
Murdock especially liked it when she said his name. She rolled the 'r' in it softly so you'd almost miss it if you hadn't been paying attention. She did this in her own name too. Murdock liked that, there were no hard or harsh sounds with Angharad, she spoke gently and very lively, her voice often swirled around him like musical notes to a tune he didn't know, but it was a tune he felt safe in.

Murdock knew so much about her now, she was called Llinos Angharad Morgan. She had told him that Welsh people always used their second name. She had one older brother called Rhodri, he was a miner like his father. Angharad's mother was apparently a National Eisteddfford champion. She was now a house wife and the village gossip. If anything happened in Pant Y Cruig, Anwen 'the coal' would know. Murdock also found out that in Wales, people didn't refer to themselves by their last name, they called themselves by the father's job. Murdock was glad of two things. One: that he'd never been to Wales, because he knew now that he would have been more lost than in China. They didn't even speak English where Angharad came from. They spoke Welsh, which was the language Angharad would sometimes burst into when she decided Murdock needed some poetry. Two: that he'd never been to Wales, because he could confirm that Angharad was real every time the insulin therapy made him lose his short term memory. Although Murdock had never been to Wales, he promised himself that he would try to go there in his next therapy session. He had been reliving the same nightmare in Vietnam for too long now.

"I'm just looking at the city, oh I wish yew could see it la. This place has really come alive now that it's Christmas. I got to go finish my rounds. But don' worry Mr Murdock bach." This was a pet name she had given him. Apparently in Wales they call people who are dear to them 'bach' which literally means 'little', but used in the context of 'love' as a friendship term. The word was said with a soft 'ch' sound that lingered in Murdock's ears.
"I'll be back first thing tomorrow, my family's not 'ere for Christmas either. It's times like this I wish I 'adn't come over 'ere to study being a nurse, but at least I got yew to spent it with."
Angharad stroked Murdock's hair. "Goodnight Mr Murdock bach. Yew sleep well naw."

Murdock smiled and closed his eyes, he could sleep when she said that. Sometimes she said "Yew 'ave sweet dreams now." Murdock could always sleep when she said that too. But he never slept well or had sweet dreams.

"Oh my God!"
This means big news.
"Yew will never believe it!"
She's early.
"My mother sent me a Dylan Thomas Omnibus book! Isn't that fantastic bach?!"
She's gone mad again, who the hell is Dylan Thomas?
"Well look lively Mr Murdock bach and happy Christmas!"
Look lively? Maybe she's got the wrong room.
"Yew know most people say happy Christmas back."
You are not tricking me into speaking. I'm not allowed.
"Yew could at least smile la."
Ok, a smile I can do.
"Oh my God!"
Big news.
Yew smiled! Can yew hear me Mr Murdock?"
Hey what happened to my 'bach'?
"You bloody can! Cheeky bach!"
Ah that's better. Why do I feel like a circus seal here?
"Well now yew 'ave to listen. This is important."
Yeah yeah yeah, get to the guy, who's Dylan Thomas?
"Ok, Dylan Thomas is totally my favourite poet ever ever ever."
Oh he's one o those ever ever ever poets.
"He also did plays and short stories. Then he went mad, became an alcoholic and died. So just before I start work, I thought I'd tell you a poem that's you."
I'm not a poem, God I hope it's in English.
"I think it's his most famous, so pay attention and show some respect.

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light."
I don't see how this is me, I'm not old. At least it's in English.

"Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightening they
Do not go gentle into that good night."
Their words always fork, but I know where the lightening is.

"Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light."
Why didn't I fight more? I stopped at the enemy, I didn't know how to
fight the friends, just the foes.

"Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night."
I caught the sun in flight, is it too late now?

"Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light."
No, it's not too late, I won't let it be. I will fight more, I wasn't
blinded, she was. I blazed. I still have that sun.

"And yew, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light."

If there's really an angel out there, I'll show you just how fierce I will be. It won't beat me. Wash it all away, I don't want these memories anymore. I'm raging, ranting and raving from now on.

"Don't yew see Mr Murdock bach? It's yew! Yew think you're dying, or dead already. But you're not. Yew gorra fight it, rage against it, beat it up. Don' just sit there and rot away here. Hold on to the light an' never let it go."
The tears finally escaped from Murdock's eyes. He lay motionless, his face awash with salty tears and filled with emotions. Angharad read the poem so well, he could see now why she called Wales the country of the Bards. Poetry was ingrained into her soul and she read with such feeling and accuracy, how could Murdock not feel anything?

"Oh Duw, I'm so sorry! I didn't mean to upset yew." Angharad produced a tissue and cleaned Murdock's face. "Please don't cry Mr Murdock bach, yew'll get me into trouble. Yew could open your yap and speak to me if yew like. Look I gorra get to work. I'll be back later." Angharad hurried out of the room, afraid she'd get into trouble for upsetting the patients.

Don't go, please don't leave me. I'm happy, I wasn't upset. Who were you talking to? Please come back angel. Billy's gone for a walk. I'm all alone. Please come back, they're closing in, coming out of the trees and zeroing in on our position. They're camouflaged, I can't see them, can't make a target. I don't have a gun, I'm a sitting duck here. The team's gone, I don't wanna go back to that POW camp. They'll know I'm a pilot. Please come back, take me away from here. No…. Gotta get out! NO! NO! NO!

Murdock felt the icy grip of unconsciousness take a hold of him. He felt himself falling into a deep abyss of grabbing arms and blackness. Then he knew no more.





After China by Cabaret
After China 8-14 by Cabaret
After China 15-21 by Cabaret



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