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Face signalled to Murdock and the pilot loosened the ventilation
shaft. It came open easily; he stood on the table and looked up into
the dark hole. He couldn't see a thing but gradually his eyes
adjusted to what little light there was. He'd just about be able to
fit in here.
They were in the laundry room; Face had got them in using the classic
safety inspection scam. It had worked a treat and they were already
working on how to get Karen out of the building. Face only hoped
that they'd get far enough to use the ventilation shaft as an
escape. He'd already seen some of Carl's sidekicks and they looked
mean and armed.
Murdock got down from the chair and nodded at Face. 'Yeah, I can fit
in there, might be a tight squeeze but I'll make it.'
Face nodded and they moved things back to where they had been when
they'd entered. The door of the laundry room could be opened from
the inside so they wouldn't have to worry about anyone locking it.
Now that the escape route was mapped out all they had to do was
figure a way of getting into Carl's apartment and getting Karen out.
Not an easy task, Face had already been to the apartment but Carl's
heavy's hadn't let him in at all. He'd literally had the door
slammed in his face.
'Murdock you go on back to the apartment, I've got some things to
do. I'll meet you back there.'
Murdock nodded, he had a feeling that the 'things' that Face had to
do were really a woman but he didn't question his friend. His mind
was racing, running through everything that he had to do to get Karen
out of there and all the possible scenarios he might have to have
He walked up to their new apartment with his hands in his pockets,
Billy trotted at his ankles but Murdock barely noticed him. He
unlocked the door and walked in, waited for Billy to enter and then
closed the heavy door shut behind him.
He headed towards the bedroom where they'd put Katie. He opened the
door and peeked in, there was a hump under the bedclothes; she was
still asleep. He crept in and put a finger to his lips to signal
Billy to keep quiet. He stood by the bed and reached out to put a
hand on her shoulder but his hand froze in mid air as he realised
that there was no sound of breathing.
A horrible kind of certainty stole over him and he pulled back the
bedclothes revealing pillows arranged to resemble a person. The
oldest trick in the book, one he'd practiced on more than one
occasion and he'd fallen for it, almost anyway. And if she wasn't
asleep in bed that meant there was only one other place she would
He all but flew to the window searching Carl's apartment for her but
he could see nothing it was too far away. He grabbed the binoculars
that were in his bag and looked through them. There, he saw her
being shoved onto a sofa by Carl who was obviously offended by
something she'd said or done.
Murdock didn't have time to think; he just acted. He ripped off his
cap and stuffed it in his back pocket, grabbing the bath robe from
the back of the door he donned it, tying it as tight as he could so
as not to show his leather bomber jacket.
Next he grabbed paper and a pen, scribbling down a note he left it on
the bed and was halfway out the door when he turned around.
'No, Billy, stay here. It's too dangerous, just stay here and guard
the note, make sure no one steals it, very important job, only you
can do it Billy.' The dog looked up at him with intelligent eyes and
Murdock nodded at the empty air where he saw the dog.
He left the apartment at a run but slowed down as he crossed the
street. He raced up the stairs and then began a slow shuffle to
Carl's apartment. Fumbling in his pocket he pulled out a key and
fitted it in the lock. It being the key to the apartment in the
building he'd just left it didn't open the door but still he
continued trying to unlock the door, finally he gave it a hefty kick.
'Mary, did ya change the locks again?' He bellowed in his gruffest
voice. 'Mary! Let me in woman!!!'
The door was yanked open and he nearly fell over. 'What the hell do
you want? This ain't your apartment you nut.' The guy was big,
bigger than BA and he looked meaner, if that was even possible. 'Now
'What you doing in my apartment?' Murdock asked angrily. 'That's my
apartment, get out before I call the cops.'
The man rolled his eyes and poked Murdock in the chest. 'I said,
leave you nut. Jeez, why do we have to get all the crazy's.'
Murdock shook his head regretfully. 'Oh I really wish you hadn't
done that, I like this robe.' That said he punched the guy. The man
reeled backwards but recovered quickly. Not quickly enough, however,
because Murdock was in the doorway like a shot.
The other guy smacked his fist into Murdock's stomach and then
opening a door he threw Murdock through it and into the room beyond.
Murdock sprawled on his back could only see the brass light fittings
and white washed ceiling. A figure loomed over him and pulled him to
his feet; in one swift movement he hit Murdock.
Murdock reeled back, his lip split and bleeding but when he had
regained his balance he looked at the man who had hit him. The guy
was medium height, dark haired with a beard and a scar on his right
cheek. It took Murdock a moment but he remembered the guy, younger
and with longer hair but still the same man, still with the hard look
in his eyes that meant he thought he could take on the world and win.
'Carlos.' He said and spat out a mouthful of blood. His eyes
flickered to the sofa; Katie was sitting there with a terrified
expression on her face.
Murdock winked at her and then turned back to Carl. 'I really missed
ya Carlos; I never got a chance to tell you how sorry I was for what
I did. I just want you to know that I don't blame you for a being a
low-life scumbag.' He smiled jovially and rocked back on his
heels. 'They've been teaching me all about forgiving at the VA, I've
been evaluating my feelings towards you and I think I have some
repressed anger that I need to get out. Just wanted to tell you that
and that I think you're the biggest piece of filth I ever laid eyes
on. You're head's way too big and you have this personality issue,
probably 'cos you don't have a personality.' He smiled his biggest
grin and was rewarded with another punch. He moved aside but didn't
quite make it, Carl's fist connected with his jaw and Murdock fell to
'Stop it.' Katie yelled. 'Just stop it.' She sounded near tears
and Murdock knew he had to think fast.
'You think you can come in here and start talking that crap, forget
it Captain. You're crazy and I'm gonna treat you exactly the same as
I would any other crazy person.' He kicked Murdock in the stomach
and the pilot curled up trying to curb the pain. He gritted his
teeth and forced himself to get up.
'You should come down and see us sometime Carlos, you'd be right at
home. And as one nut to another can I just say that I liked your
hair better when you wore it long, hid that nasty scar, love the
beard though.' Murdock grinned. 'Oh you know I'm really enjoying
this but I'm gonna have to leave the party early, as much as I love
you I've got a damsel in distress to rescue, well actually I have two
now but anyway, I gotta love ya and leave ya.' He blew Carl a kiss
and ducked away from the punch that was aimed at his face. He
managed to avoid another one aimed at his ribs. Hell, being the wise
ass of the group always seemed to help Face keep his cool, why
couldn't he try it once in a while.
Katie launched herself from her seat and flew at Carl. 'Leave him
alone.' She said forcefully. 'He's nothing to do with this, you
want money from my step dad, you're keeping my mom hostage but
Murdock is nothing do with any of that.'
Murdock felt almost proud, she was obviously scared but she kept her
head and managed to yell at Carl. Still, it was a stupid thing to
do; this guy was almost as unstable as he was and in a bad way.
Instead of venting his rage on the girl though, Carl just
laughed. 'Oh baby, you really don't know anything about this do
you?' He touched her hair gently and stroked her cheek with one
Murdock holding his stomach pushed down the urge to slug the guy, he
didn't have the energy for a fight anymore.
'You're the reason he's here; you're the reason they're all here.
You hired them just like I knew you would.'
Katie turned pale, she didn't move and Carl continued to caress her
cheek with his slender fingers. He leaned forward and whispered
something that Murdock didn't hear.
'Leave her alone, she's just a kid.' Murdock tried the sane
approach, that one seemed to work quite well in the movies, or then
again maybe it didn't, Murdock couldn't really remember right now.
Carl laughed. 'Jeez, you never change do ya; I mean you're crazy now
but you've still got to be the one with the morals. You must just
love it in that place, all locked up, fighting with the A-Team is the
only way you get to fly isn't it? I mean why would they let a crazy
nut like you fly, you'd probably end up killing someone.'
Murdock's blood boiled over, they could hit him and hurt him, they
could call him crazy but they could say nothing about his flying,
flying was all he had. He yanked the gun out of the bathrobe and
aimed it squarely at Carl.
'You're right Carl, I am crazy, I see stuff that isn't there, I talk
to myself, I sing a lot and I have dog that no one else can see. I
have about a thousand friends that aren't real and I fly as if I have
death wish but I haven't killed any innocent people yet. Still, once
you get past all of that, I can point and shoot just fine.'
Carl grabbed Katie by her neck and pulled her in front of him. 'Go
on shoot, kill her like you killed her old man.'
Murdock fired the gun. The bullet whistled by Carl's ear and broke
the glass mirror just behind him. Carl snickered
sarcastically. 'Sure you can shoot just fine.'
'That was supposed to miss, idiot.' Katie told him rolling her
eyes. 'He's not going to shoot me.'
'Oh I know that princess, I know that.'
Murdock tossed the gun behind him and it hit the floor with a
thump. 'You're not going to make me sing are you Carl, please don't
make me sing. I'd just hate for us to part on unfriendly terms
here.' He shrugged off the bathrobe, pulled out his cap and set it
on his head.
'Of course, parting on unfriendly terms like sending a friend to
prison, yeah you and Tony did real good there, Murdock, I just loved
my time inside.'
'I've heard the food's good there been meaning to try it out but
never got round to it.'
'Ok, enough with the talk.' Carl pulled out a gun and pushed Katie
towards Murdock. He put his arms round her.
'You ok, muchacho?'
Katie nodded and Murdock moved in front of her, shielding her if Carl
decided to fire the gun.
'Oh, please, enough with the heroics, I have work to be getting on
with and I really don't want you trying to play the big guy taking up
too much of my time. If I have to shoot you Murdock, I'll do it,
maybe I'll just pump a few rounds into the kid too.'
'Touch her again and you'll regret it. And that's a promise not just
crazy talk.' His hand tightened on Katie's arm and he tried to
indicate to the back of his jacket. She was clinging to his jacket
tightly. Again he put a small amount of pressure on her arm and she
finally caught on to what he meant.
Carefully she eased the gun out of the waistband of his trousers. He
hadn't come in here with just one gun; he understood that he couldn't
hope to beat Carl that way. Even when he hadn't known that was Carl
was someone he knew, he'd known that he couldn't just pin his hopes
on the one gun.
Katie hefted the gun and whirled round and put a shot into one of
Carl's heavies, it got him in the leg. Murdock was impressed but had
a feeling that it was really a fluke. Still, for first-timer she'd
managed to hit something. Not that it was a good thing that someone
her age was handling a gun.
The other man ran at her and Murdock had the gun out of Katie's hand
in seconds. He clubbed the guy over his head and a shot rang out.
Carl had used his gun, shattering the glass in the TV set.
The distraction was enough for a red-haired man to kick the gun out
of Murdock's hand. The guy's leg came at him in a roundhouse kick
that caught Murdock on the chin; he fell backwards smacking his head
on the edge of the stone fireplace. Everything faded away and he was
only just aware of Katie screaming out his name.
When he awoke he was in a small room, Katie was sitting with her back
to him, rocking back and forth muttering under her breath. That was
bad news, he'd seen people do that at the VA, they were usually so
far out of their minds that they couldn't even begin to find their
way back. Murdock was always thankful that his craziness hadn't
extended that far, not yet anyway and certainly not now. He had to
think and thinking was hard when the purple wobblies came a-knocking.
'Katie?' He asked sitting up and rubbing his head where it had
connected with the rough stone.
Her head whipped around so fast he thought she was trying to attempt
an Exorcist twist. She threw herself at him and hugged him with
relief. She'd been terrified that he'd been seriously hurt. He let
out a sound that was half laughter and half pain. He took a minute
to look at her and make sure she wasn't hurt; she seemed fine.
'God, don't do that to me.' She told him. 'I was really worried, I
thought that was it for you.' She closed her eyes. 'And it would
have been all my fault.'
Murdock frowned. 'What're you talking about?'
'Carl never wanted money from Eddie, my stepfather, he wanted you,
he's got a grudge against you for something that you and Dad did to
him years ago. He wants to kill you and then turn the rest of the
team over to the Feds, he's hoping to get a lot of money out of it.'
Murdock took off his cap, smoothed his hair and then replaced it back
on his head. 'He's on the run from the Feds himself, they'll just
throw him back in prison.'
'He's gonna get Eddie to turn them in.'
'Nope.' Murdock said. 'He's not because we are on a mission and we
are going to get out of here right now.' He stood up and then sat
down again. 'Just as soon as the room stops spinning.' He looked
around. 'Ooooh, look at all the stars.'
Katie hid a grin. 'What's the plan?'
'Give me a minute, Hannibal's the creative one, I have trouble with
'Well, it might be wise to give it some time anyway.' She pointed to
the small bed in the corner. Her mother, Karen was lying on it
unconscious. Murdock could see the dark marks on her arm where
they'd injected drugs to keep her sedated. He felt a flash of anger,
they were really gonna pay now, they were gonna wish they'd never
messed with Howlin' Mad Murdock. And of course, once BA heard about
it, they were little more than a mushy pulp anyway. Boy was he gonna
Murdock walked over to the bed and looked at Karen. She didn't seem
to be too bad, just unconscious; he had to find some way of getting
her out of it. He thought for a minute and rubbed his head as it
began to ache. All this intense thought, not good for him, he was
supposed to concentrate on just two things, being crazy and flying.
Everyone else did the hard work.
He hummed under his breath as he thought; it was surprisingly helpful
especially when the brass band in his head joined in. He tapped his
feet and then caught sight of Katie's expression and stopped.
'Any ideas how we wake her?' He asked.
'I thought you were the expert on that, you told me you drug BA all
the time, how do you wake him up.'
'We don't, he usually wakes himself up, especially when we crash the
plane, then he's up like a shot. Makes life difficult sometimes, if
only he'd get over the fear and embrace the wonder of flying then we
could get on with it.' Murdock sighed and looked at Karen
again. 'Karen.' He whispered under his breath. He shook her
gently. Nothing, the woman remained as lifeless as before.
Then a thought struck him, he pulled out his invisible harmonica and
began to play it. Katie sat down and sunk her head in her hands. He
was really starting to lose it again and she needed him at least
halfway sane. She couldn't cope with this on her own.
Murdock stopped playing the harmonica dejectedly. He was running out
of ideas, short of just yelling as loudly as he could. He stood up
and then began to dance.
Katie stared at him in bewilderment; he looked funny dancing around
like that. 'Murdock what you doing?' She asked when she could find
her voice to ask.
'Rain dance.' He said still dancing.
'You want it to rain in here?' She asked incredulously. 'How is
that gonna help.'
'I dunno, I was running out of ideas, just thought it might do
something.' He stood still and shoved his hands in his pockets. He
was beginning to worry and he didn't like it, whenever he was nervous
Hannibal would always come through with a brilliant plan. Once he'd
even come up with one himself, or rather his pet roach had. Right
now though the bright ideas seemed out of reach.
He hated seeing Katie like this, he wanted to do something, and it
was bad enough that she'd lost a father now she was on the verge of
losing her mother as well.
He looked over at Karen again and in a low voice began to
talk. 'Come on muchacho wake up now.' He looked back at Katie who
was sitting against the wall, head buried in her hands.
'Come Karen wake up.' He reached over and stroked her hair softly.
Karen, who had always been like a sister, even a surrogate mother to
him at times, didn't stir. He felt angry, he knew why she was like
this and he knew now why Katie was here.
Carl had set this whole thing up, he was mad at Murdock and thought
some revenge was in order now that he was finally in a position to
dish it out. Murdock wished Carl had concentrated his revenge on
just him and not involved his friends because now Murdock had to deal
out some revenge of his own and it wasn't going to be pretty.
There was a jug of water by the bed; Murdock poured some into the
glass on the table next to the jug. He lifted Karen's head up gently
and then let some water spill out onto her lips. She began to stir
in his arms.
'There we go.' He said coaxingly and replaced the glass on the table.
'Karen, you ok?' Murdock asked as Katie's mother finally regained
consciousness. Katie was there beside him in an instant.
'Mom?' She asked shakily and Karen smiled.
'Hey, baby, you ok? What happened to your eye?' She touched the dark
mark where Carl had hit Katie.
'Doesn't matter, I'm fine.'
Karen sat up and ran a hand through her blond hair. 'God, I feel as
I've been asleep for a week.'
'Closer than you think.' Murdock laughed.
Karen's attention was suddenly focused on him and she put her arms
round him, hugging him tightly. 'What are you doing here, you're
supposed to be in a mental hospital in LA?'
'When you went missing, Katie called us, we're on a mission to get
'Us? You mean the A-Team?'
'The one and only.'
'This is amazing, you guys took time out from avoiding the Feds to
come get me.'
'Yeah, pretty much. Can you stand?'
'I'm fine.' Karen got to her feet and put a hand on Murdock's
shoulder to steady herself.
Murdock looked at her worriedly. 'Karen, we're getting out that way,
think you can make it?' He pointed to the ventilation shaft in the
'Easily.' She said defiantly.
'Karen, be honest with me. I'm not leaving you behind here and once
we get up there, chances are, we can't come back, not that I'd want
to. My point is and I do have one, I'm not sure we can get you out
if you collapse on us. If you can't make it I'll find some other way
'I can make it Murdock. I'm just a little woozy, give me a minute.'
Her brown eyes flashed in anger and he smiled to see it.
'Good to see you again, Karen.'
'And you, you have no idea how good.'
'Oh, I have some idea.' He helped her sit down on the bed and then
grabbed a chair from under the window. Placing it underneath the
ventilation shaft he stood on it. Removing the grill he handed it
down to Katie and got down again.
'Ok, Katie I want you to go first, Karen you go next and I'll be
behind you. Then wait and I'll go ahead.'
Katie nodded and swallowed hard; she didn't relish the idea of
crawling into that dark, cramped space. But now wasn't the time for
this, they had to get out and this was as good a way as any.
Besides, Murdock knew what he was doing, he usually did.
Murdock laced his hands together and Katie placed a foot into them.
Using his hand a leverage she placed her hands on his shoulders and
pulled herself up to the dark space above her. Murdock gave her a
leg up and she was soon sitting in the ventilation duct. As quietly
as she could she eased backwards waiting until Murdock would help her
Murdock lifted her mother up and Katie grabbed hold of her and got
her into the ventilation shaft. Next Murdock handed her the grill,
she put beside her and gave him a hand to get himself up. He sat
opposite her, his legs dangling down into the room below. She gave
him the grill and pulling his legs up; he replaced it. Turning round
wasn't an easy job but he managed it and led them on into the dark.
Murdock went first, Karen behind him and Katie took the rear. They
passed several more grills and Katie looked down into the rooms
below, in one of them an elderly couple were playing Go Fish, in
another a young guy was making dinner for his girlfriend who was
trying to help but was only succeeding in getting in the way.
She was glad for the distractions; it helped her forget about how
closed in they were. She suddenly realised that they'd stopped.
Murdock had come to a dead end, there was a wire mesh grill barring
their way and it wouldn't budge no matter how hard he tried. The
ventilation duct widened here and he managed to get past Karen and
crawl in beside Katie.
'We gotta find another way out.' He whispered as low as he could.
'One of those rooms was empty, we could try that.' Murdock nodded in
approval and she slid forward as silently as she could.
It didn't take long to reach the room that she'd seen earlier, it was
little more than a closet but it would have to do, better that they
emerge from a broom closet than in a room where people were waiting.
Removing the meshed grill she set it aside and dropped down into the
Next up was Murdock who hit the floor silently, he reached up and
helped her mother down. They stood together in the small room and
Katie turned the doorknob. The door was locked, she could have cried.
'It's locked.' She said trying to keep desperation out of her
voice. Murdock tilted his head and eyed the door thoughtfully.
'Anyone know how to pick locks?' Karen asked and Murdock grinned
suddenly. Katie realised that she didn't like that grin, it was
similar to the one she'd seen on Hannibal's face when he'd been
telling about his great idea for finding out where Carl had gone.
The great idea that had included Murdock dressing up as a woman.
Murdock reached under his t-shirt and fumbled around for a moment.
When he withdrew his arms he was holding a bra. Katie blinked; it
was the one he'd been wearing last night.
'Murdock, that's my bra!' She said indignantly. Karen's eyes
'Sorry, it was just so nice, I thought I'd just wear it for a day or
'I said you could wear it, I didn't say you could keep it.'
'I didn't know it was yours, I thought Face got it with the dress.'
'Someone like to explain what's going on?'
Katie looked at her mother's face and bit her lip. How the hell did
she begin to explain this?
'One of Hannibal's crazy ideas.' Murdock supplied before she could
open her mouth. 'He thought if I dressed up as a hooker, we'd be
able to get information out of Carl.'
'I lent him my bra and he seems to have taking a liking to it.'
'Not for much longer.' Murdock said. 'Shame, I liked it. Pretty.'
'You don't need it Murdock, you don't have breasts!'
'You know you keep yelling like that, we can forget about getting out
of here.' Murdock told her. He ripped the bra and pulled out the
under wire. Katie's expression was one of profound displeasure.
'Good job I kept it or we'd have to use the one you're wearing.' He
put the wire into the lock and turned, nothing happened the wire was
too thin. Carefully he bent it and tried again, the door unlocked
and Murdock treated them to a smug grin.
Shaking her head Katie opened the door and stepped out into the
hall. 'I know you're crazy Murdock but that was bordering on gross.'
'You're not even going to say thank you are ya? Just like BA, you
always focus on the bad things I do, never the good stuff.' He
jammed his hands in his pockets and walked off dejectedly.
'I think you offended him, sweetheart.' Karen told her daughter.
Katie gave her a look of amazement.
'You don't see anything wrong in that do you?'
'We're talking about Murdock, honey, he's crazy.'
Katie shook her head and followed Murdock towards the staircase. He
was running down them as fast as he could and she saw him leap over
the banister. Halfway down he stopped and looked up at her.
'You mad at me?'
She didn't answer just carried on walking down the stairs, she waited
until she was a step above him before answering. 'Mad? No.
Worried? Yes. It's weird.'
'I am weird, along with crazy, insane, a fool and nuts.' He smiled
and Katie felt her angry resolve melting.
'Just as long as you don't decide to become a woman permanently.'
She walked past it.
'Wouldn't dream of it darling.' He said. 'I guess since you're mad
about the bra I shouldn't mention the panty hose.'
Katie whipped round and saw the expression on his face. He was
grinning, he'd only been teasing. Karen stood beside him and
laughed. 'Murdock, stop it, Katie don't listen to him, he's only
'Can we just get out of here?' She said and then saw a figure walk
out from the door behind her mother and Murdock. He raised his gun.
'Hold it right there.' Carl said, the gun was aimed straight at
Katie's mom and she saw Murdock's grin slip right off his face.
Karen had frozen to the spot, raising her hands to shoulder height so
that Carl could see she was empty handed.
'Carl…' She began.
'Quiet.' He growled. 'Now turn towards me, slowly.'
While Karen was turning, Murdock inclined his head towards the
staircase. He was telling Katie to go. She shook her head and
mouthed no at him. No way was she going anywhere while this creep
had her mother at gunpoint.
'You too Captain and raise your hands, don't want to find you're
hiding a gun there.'
Murdock smiled. 'Wow, you really are better at this than I thought.
You should be given a medal, hey maybe when they give it to ya,
they'll realise you're crazy and put ya in the VA. We might even end
up sharing rooms.'
Carl just laughed sardonically. 'Well, I don't think you'll be
around for any of that and if your little girl there moves even one
inch without me telling her to, her mother'll be so full of bullets
it'll take them a month just to get them all out.'
Katie felt the cool, metal of a gun being pressed against the back of
her head. 'Now if either of you two make a move, Danny boy there
will blow her head off. So lets take this nice and slow, you all walk
towards me, none of you do anything stupid and you'll all live,
They moved up the steps towards Carl who was illuminated menacingly
in the harsh florescent lighting. Katie couldn't believe it, all
that just to end up back at square one.
She could see Murdock gauging the distance between himself and Carl.
She hoped he wouldn't try to do anything heroic, he was just going to
get a bullet in him if he did. That was the last thing they needed.
'Now, we're going to go up to the roof, then you'll all get in a
chopper and we'll go on a little pleasure trip someplace where you
can't trouble me anymore.'
They followed him out the door and into the elevator.
To Be Continued....
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