It had all started with a lie. A lie that had been made by an unnamed government official who was rumored to have the ear and confidence of the President of the United States.
Then the rumors started. Rumors that the A-Team had somehow escapedexecution, and were on the run again. Nobody had seen the bodies of John “Hannibal” Smith, Templeton “Faceman” Peck, or Bosco “B.A.” Baracus except for Colonel Roderick Decker, a man who had chased the team for three years. Nobody, not even Sergeant Baracus’ mother, had seen the bodies, or were told where the A-Team had been buried. “How could they not tell me where my baby is buried?” Mrs. Baracus had asked a TV reporter during an interview. “It’s bad enough that they convicted him. It’s even worse that they kept me away from him while he was in jail, not letting me see him. Now, they won’t even tell me where he’s buried!” And Mrs. Baracus started to sob. Things were made worse by the fact that nobody could find out where the teams bodies were. The US government had in fact, lost the bodies. WHERE IS MY CHILD? The headlines screamed. The public were enraged at what many people thought of as a sham trial. And the military were humiliated.
That’s when the rumors really started. A-Team sightings were reported from California to Russia and everywhere in between. As one late night talk show host put it: “There was another sighting of the infamous A-Team in Spokane, Washington yesterday evening. That puts them in direct competition with sighting of the Virgin Mary and Elvis Presley.”
Shortly after the Thanksgiving Holiday, rumors that the A-team had retrieved the diary of A. J. Bancroft, a fugitive embezzler who had fled the country more then twenty years before, surfaced. Bancroft had died, but in his diary he had named Jacob Edwards as a coconspirator, backed up by dates and notes of business dealings done by the two men before Bancroft left. The diary brought the political career ambitions of Jacob Edwards to a screeching halt. When questioned, Bancroft’s daughter Elinor commented that she had nothing to say concerning Jacob Edwards or her father. She quickly disappeared from the public eye and was forgotten.
Then recently, there had been rumors that the team had foiled an attempt on the US Attorney General’s life at a downtown Washington, DC restaurant. There were rumors of one person being shot, but it was never proven. The witnesses were apparently placed under a gag order, ordered not to discuss the matter until a full investigation was completed. News reports that the owner, an older gentleman, had single handily outwitted and out maneuvered three men half his age, had saved the Attorney General’s life and everybody else in the restaurant. Not having any other information, the public accepted the story with a grain of salt, the old man became a hero, and the little restaurant became “the” place to go.
‘Shows how gullible the public really is.’ The man thought, taking a bite out of his sandwich. He had never believed the stories about the old man. To him, the very idea was ridiculous. Nor had he given much credit to the other rumors. Whether a plane had disappeared from the Soviet Union or the team saved a teen-aged girl from a group of Russians didn’t concern him. But, he did believe that the team was alive. He had seen the Van.
It had been a stroke of luck. He had been hunting up in Vermont a month ago when he had seen a familiar black van with a red stripe on the side. He had seen with his own eyes the A-Team get out of the van, followed by a young woman, a young man who looked Latino, and Colonel Decker of all people. Smith and Murdock seemed to be supporting Peck, who seemed to be clutching his stomach and crying. He had tailed the team the entire time that they were in Vermont.
Later, he followed the team back to Langley, Virginia. The young woman and Decker both left. Shortly thereafter, the team left for a short time too. That’s when rumors of the team saving a young teenaged girl from the Russians surfaced. But the team returned shortly afterwards, and everything seemed to settle into a routine. The only new thing now was that Captain Murdock had also moved into the house, whereas before he lived in a nearby apartment.
With his state of the art binoculars, the man was able to get the layout of the house, as well as the security assigned to the A-Team. ‘What a joke,’ The man thought. ‘This security doesn’t look like it could gaurd a group of cub-scouts, let alone the A-Team. I wonder why they don’t just escape.’
The man thought about his plan of revenge. Hannibal Smith had made him suffer, and now he was going to pay. Pay with the life of one of his men. He discounted Baracus immediately, he was too strong. Before he had moved into the house, it would have been easy to grab Murdock. But the man suspected that the Captain was a lot smarter and stronger then people gave him credit for. He didn’t know who the young Latino man was, and doubted his missing would hurt Hannibal Smith very much. No, the weakest link was Templeton Peck. Physically the weakest and the most vulnerable, he also didn’t always think with his head. And on top of that, he was the apple of Colonel John Smith’s eye.
Taking a bite of his sandwich, the man willed himself to be patient. He had waited for over two years for his revenge, he could wait a little longer. At some point, Hannibal Smith would make a mistake.
With a smile on his lips that never reached his steely blue eyes, Major Doug Kyle (retired) watched and waited.
“I’m telling you, Hannibal, something is wrong. I feel like I’m being watched all the time,” Face told his commanding officer and friend. It had been over two weeks since they had saved Paula Anderson from the Russians, who believed that she had the plans to the “Star Wars” project in her hands. And with help from a group of senior citizens, the team had been able to protect the girl and return her to her father.
Hannibal looked at the younger man, and willed himself to be patient. It had been a rough few months for Face, rougher then on the rest of them. He’d had nightmares a while ago that almost forced him to leave the team. Shortly after that, he’d found out that AJ Bancroft was his father. Unfortunately for Face, it had been after the man died. Then he’d been shot at that restaurant last month. And only a month ago, he’d found out that his own grandmother had turned her back on him after his mother, Samantha, had died.
It was enough to bring the already insecure young man to his knees. Face started having nightmares every night, his cries waking up the entire household. Hannibal had spent many nights in Face’s room, holding and comforting the sobbing, terrified young man after a nightmare. When Hannibal had told Murdock about them, Murdock gave up the lease to his apartment and moved into Face’s room. It was he that comforted Face now when the nightmares came.”You’re being paranoid, Face,” he said, then realized his mistake. Before he could say anything, Face exploded.
“THERE WAS A TIME WHEN YOU TRUSTED MY GUT INSTINCTS, HANNIBAL! BEFORE WE CAME TO THIS POSH SQUIRREL CAGE, YOU’D AT LEAST LISTENED TO WHAT I HAD TO SAY!”Face shouted angrily, his hands clenched into fists. His face was a bright red, and his blue-green eyes, that usually held a hint of laughter, flashed with anger.
“Face…” Hannibal began, stepping towards the young man. He was dismayed when Face stepped away from him.
“Forget it!” the younger man spat. “I’m going out for a walk.” And forgetting the feeling of being watched because of his anger, Face grabbed his jacket and ran out the front door. Hannibal didn’t see the tears that had come to the blue eyes.
“Dammit!” Face cursed as he left the house. “Why doesn’t he trust me anymore? Why does he believe Stockwell and not me?” He angrily wiped the tears from his eyes. It was the same old story. Nobody believed him or in him. He’d been a fool to think otherwise. Despite Faces gift at stretching the truth, Hannibal had always trusted him. That is, until Stockwell had forced his way into their lives.
Feeling his car keys in his jacket pocket, Face decided to go for a drive instead. An old friend from the orphanage had been able to bring his little red and white corvette to him. It took a lot of talking to convince his friend that it was indeed Templeton Peck calling him, and not a sick joke.
Face jumped behind the wheel. It felt good to be in the little car again. He started it up, and it purred like a kitten. Glaring at the so-called security, Face waited for them to open the gate. They were so intimidated by the icy glare that they immediately opened the gate. They would much rather deal with Stockwell, or a King Cobra, then they would the angry young man burning rubber away from the mansion. @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ @@@@@@@@@@@@
From his lookout, Dougie Kyle watched the red and white corvette speed towards him. He had seen the red, angry face the young man wore, and wondered what had caused it. Kyle wondered briefly if he had just had an argument with the Hannibal. After all, the two were of the same cloth. In fact, sometimes Kyle wondered about the real relationship between the two men.
Kyle shook himself out of his musings. It was of no concern to him about Pecks paternity. And if Smith was Peck’s father, Kyle’s revenge would be twice as sweet.
Kyle jumped down from his lookout to his car below. The sportscar sped past. Kyle gave it a few seconds, then started his pursuit. with an evil smile on his lips, Kyle followed his victim. @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ @@@@@@@@@@@@
Oblivious to the danger he was in, Face turned up the radio full blast as he drove down the road. Driving his little Corvette always made him feel better. So he forgot how unhappy he had been just a short time ago. It was one of the few things that Face felt he had any control over. ‘I wish I could just keep driving.’ He thought. Even though to most people he was a superficial, self-absorbed young man, he was actually a very sensitive young man whose scars and insecurities ran very deep. Not even his best friend, Murdock, had the amount of insecurities that Face had. And he was a former mental patient.
It was rather ironic. Before the team had been captured by Stockwell, Face took care of Murdock. Now, since being declared sane, Murdock took care of him. So, even though Murdock still had some problems, it was him that comforted Face when Face’s fears and insecurities manifested themselves into a full blown nightmare.
Suddenly, a deer bolted out in front of Face’s car. Face swerved, narrowly missing the animal. But he hit a patch of water, lost control of the car, and went down an embankment in a roll. Face screamed, and put up his arms to protect his head and face. He hit his head, and all went black. @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ @@@@@@@@@@@@
Kyle couldn’t believe his luck. He’d been wondering how to overpower the young man when he’d seen Peck’s car inexplicably go off the road.
Knowing that he didn’t have much time, Kyle quickly parked his own car. Then made his way down to the little corvette.
Peck was out cold. Kyle checked his carotid pulse. It was a little fast, but that’s normal after a fright. Kyle checked for other injuries. Finding none that were life threatening, Kyle unfastened the young man and lifted him out of the car. Peck started to come around, but Kyle put him back to sleep with a right cross and a hypodermic needle. Kyle pushed the car into the fast moving creek. Then he picked up Peck’s limp body and started carrying it back to his car. @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ @@@@@@@@@@@@
Back at the house, Hannibal was beginning to worry. “Dammit, where is that kid?” he asked outloud as he looked out the front window for the umpteenth time. In the state of mind that he’d been in, anything could have happened to Face. Hannibal wanted to make up with the younger man. He hadn’t meant to hurt Face’s feelings. Hannibal would rather cut off his arm then do that. After all, he knew that Face had endured more then his share of pain in his young life. And Hannibal didn’t want to add to it.
Hannibal willed himself not to go after Face. BA often accused Hannibal of being overprotective of Face on more then one occasion. “Ya gotta let him work things out fer himself, Hannibal. Ya might not always be there to pick him up, ya know.” And Hannibal knew that this had been building in Face for a long time, ever since they had made a deal with Stockwell more then six months ago. And Hannibal knew that if he went out to find him, Face might take that as further proof that Hannibal didn’t trust him. ‘He just needs to blow off some steam.’ Hannibal thought. ‘In an hour or two, he’ll come walking through the front door, all apologetic. And I’ll assure him that everything is fine between us. And that everything will be fine in the near future, after we get our pardons.’ And with that thought, Hannibal took the steaks out of the freezer. It was Face’s turn to cook tonight, but Hannibal figured that he wouldn’t be back till dinner. So he started to prepare the meal that Face had planned.
It had been a quiet dinner. Usually, the team discussed things over dinner, ranging from politics to Woody Woodpecker cartoons. Or BA and Murdock would get into an argument, and either Hannibal or Face would be called upon to keep the peace. Or all four veteran A-team members would gang up on the newest member, Frankie Santana. But there was none of that at the dinner table tonight. Face hadn’t come home.
Face’s dinner sat uneaten at his place. Hannibal had kept looking at the wallclock throughout dinner, and now looked between the clock and his watch between sips from his coffee cup. Murdock looked between the clock, to the empty space next to him, and to his commanding officer. Silently, he begged Hannibal to do something.
BA tried to look calm, without any success. His heavily muscled body looked like it was ready to spring into action the moment that his commander gave the word.
The newest member of the team, Frankie Santana, looked nervously from one team member to the other. He had seen the team tense before, but not like this. Last time, it was because Face had been shot that the team was so tense. This time, it was because Face was missing.
Not knowing what else to do, Frankie pushed his chair back and grabbed his empty plate. As he passed Face’s place, he grabbed Face’s plate and proceeded into the kitchen. There he wrapped seran wrap around the steak and put it in the freezer. He put the salad in a Tupperware bowl, and then put the dirty dishes in the dishwasher. He then cleared the rest of the table.
He had not sooner sat down again when Hannibal pushed his chair back and got up from the table. BA, Murdock, and Frankie sprang to their feet. They followed Hannibal out to the van, and drove off into the night in search of their missing friend.
Forty-five minutes later, the A-team returned to the mansion, pale and shaken. They had arrived just in time to see their friends corvette dragged out of a fast flowing creek nearby.
There was no sign of Templeton Peck.
Face woke up slowly, groaning at the pounding in his head. he slowly opened his eyes and looked around. It was pitch black. Taking a few deep breaths, Face waited for his eyes to adjust to the darkness. “OK, Face,” he muttered to himself. “While your eyes are adjusting, use your other senses to get your bearings.” Face gently felt around his wrists, and found that he wasn’t tied up or shackled. “Thank God for small favors. Now I know that I won’t chafe my wrists. Now, let’s see about my legs.” Face slowly brought one knee up towards his chest, knocking his foot against something above him. He realized that his legs weren’t tied or shackled either.
“What is going on here?”He asked outloud, while feeling above his head. He appeared to be in a wooden box, though he couldn’t tell how big. Face swallowed a knot of fear. He had had claustrophobia since he was a small child. Once, as punishment for being bad, one of the priests had locked him in a closet and left him there. Because of old wiring, there had been an electrical fire. Face had almost died of smoke inhalation. Then in Vietnam, Face had spent some time in “the box.” Hannibal had spent much time holding him when he was released, forcing water down his throat and comforting the terrified young man. It had brought the two men closer then ever.
Face fought back the tears when he thought of his commanding officer and friend. His parting words came back to haunt him. Hannibal had always taken care of him and protected him as much as he could. And Face felt that he had taken Hannibal for granted.
Face shook himself. “This isn’t helping, Face,” he scolded himself as he felt along his sides. He found a small, rectangular, plastic box. Feeling along the sides of it, he discovered some knobs, indicating it as a tape recorder. Face pushed a button, hoping he had pushed “play.”
“Hello, Lieutenant Peck.” A voice came out of the tape recorder. Faces blood ran cold when he recognized the voice of Dougie Kyle.
“I hope that you like your accommodations. I had them designed especially for you, so I hope that you appreciate them,” Kyle said sarcastically. Then went on. “You are in a coffin, exactly six feet underground. Above your head, there is a airhole leading to the outside. That is your only source of air, so prey that it doesn’t become clogged. The results for you can be most…unfortunate. In effect, you are buried alive.”
“I have left you some food and water, to show how much of a humanitarian I am. But, I wouldn’t recommend using the water to bath. It is all you have. Thank you, Mr. Peck. I hope that you enjoy your stay at Chez Kyle.” The message then stopped.
Overcome with terror, Face started to scream. “NO!” he cried. “NO!NNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!” @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ @@@@@@@@@@@@
Sitting in his car, which was parked nearby, Kyle leaned back in his seat, looking up at the stars. Listening to Faces screams, he smiled. @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ @@@@@@@@@@@@
Far away in a house in Langley Virginia, two men, one with silver hair, the other with brown, sat up in their beds listening intently. Both men believed they had heard someone screaming for them. Now though, there was absolute silence.
In his room, the silver haired man kicked off his covers and went to stare out the window. He stood there for a long time, staring out into the darkness and feeling empty. He felt like part of his soul had been ripped away from him. Sighing deeply, the silver haired man lit up a cigar and started to pace.
In another room, the brown haired man gazed at the empty space next to him. There was usually a body there, curled against him seeking emotional and mental comfort. Now, there was an empty space on the pillow where a fair head usually rested.
Using his very active imagination, the brown haired man pictured the usual occupant of the now empty pillow. Stroking the imaginary hair, he started singing a lullaby.
In his hole, Face had screamed until his throat was raw. Finally bringing himself under control, Face found a water bottle. It appeared to be about a liter. Because of his raw throat, Face was tempted to gulp down all the water. But Kyle’s words came back to him. If he wanted to survive, he would have to conserve it.
Face pulled his jacket tighter around him and laid down. He imagined he could feel Murdock gently stroking his hair and singing a lullaby to him. Like he’d done on many nights of late when Face woke up from another nightmare.
Determined that he wasn’t going to call this hole either his grave or coffin, Face decided he would call it his “space.” He could hear the wind blowing over the opening of his airway. The wind sang a sad lullaby that mixed with Murdock’s clear tenor voice.
Face curled up onto his side, like he’d curled up against Murdock, softly crying. He was terrified, and wanted to go home to Hannibal, BA, Murdock, and Frankie. Closing his eyes, the last thing he imagined he felt before sleep claimed him was Murdock kissing his tears away.