Murdock continued to rock back and forth in the van as his eyes glazed over once again.
“I don’t like this Hannibal,” BA fretted. “Crazyman’s seen lots of bad stuff, if he’s actin’ this bad.Face must be hurt real bad, dead or somethin’.”
“Quiet, BA! Don’t talk like that,” Hannibal ordered but he had the same suspicions. Murdock had faced many unspeakable horrors, in ‘Nam and beyond. He knew that his pilot could handle most situations without going off the deep end. Murdock’s “crazy act” was exactly that, an act. Hannibal knew that most of the time Murdock was just a scared little boy inside a grown soldier’s body, dealing with the events in his life the best way he could. So, he marched to the beat of a different drummer,but when Hannibal needed him he knew Murdock would be there ready to do what ever was necessary to accomplish their mission.
“Right back.. wait here..right back,” was all Murdock repeated as he sat in the van curled up in the corner. His knees drawn to his chest and his arms hugging them so tightly to it, it looked as though he was trying to turn himself into a little ball. A ball that could be put in someone’s pocket and hidden from the rest of the world.
Hannibal looked at Murdock for a moment studying him, noticing little things about him that he never noticed before; the way his brow creased as he concentrated on his impossible task of disappearing. The fear in Murdock’s chestnut brown eyes overshadowed the rest of his face and Hannibal knew that BA was right. After all, how many times had they been held hostage by Decker or kidnapped by some blundering bad guy threatening to “kill the team” for something they had done to stop them. No, this time it was different, something terrible, horrible must have happened to Face for Murdock to be reacting the way he was.
“We can’t just sit here Hannibal and wait for this crazy fool to tell us what happened to Faceman,” BA interrupted the Colonel’s reverie.
Hannibal searched his mind for a plan of action. It was obvious to him that Face was no longer on the beach, or for certain they would have spotted signs of him by now. Something, anything that would have told them what happened.
“OK, BA, this is what we are going to do. Let’s phone Amy and have her meet us back at the house. She can sit with him, while we try to figure out what is going on,” Hannibal instructed and closed the van door. BA pulled away from the beach the tires spewing sand as they sped away.
“Right Hannibal, I’ll meet you there in 20 minutes,” Amy said into the phone as she turned to get her jacket and purse. She hurried down the steps from the news building and jumped into her car. Her mind wandering to the thoughts of the last time Face and her had been together. They had gotten into a silly argument over something. For the life of her Amy could not even remember what it was about. All she knew was they hadn’t left things on the best of terms and now she wondered if she would get her chance to work things out with him. The street traffic seem to disappear as she concentrated on only one thing getting to the house, seeing the team and figuring a way to find Face,where ever he was.
BA pulled the van into the driveway and quickly went around to help Hannibal get Murdock out of the van. Just then a small white puppy came romping through the front yard, coming to a stop at Murdock’s feet. Murdock looked down at the puppy and instinctively picked it up. The puppy began licking his face, chewing on his nose and wagging his tailincessantly. Murdock laughed and Hannibal was glad to see that this wiggling ball of fur seemed to be arousing Murdock from his state.
“Hi, Mister,” the beautiful little girl said as she came running breathless up to the team “Thank you for finding my dog,” she smiled.
Murdock looked down at the little girl and immediately began to sway. Hannibal grabbed the puppy from the captain’s hands as BA caught Murdock mid-fall.
“Here ya go, sweetheart,” Hannibal said as he handed the little girl back her dog. “Let’s get him in the house, BA,” he ordered.
They took Murdock into the house and led him over to the couch. At this time Amy had arrived and immediately went into the house.
“She looks just like her Hannibal.she looks just like her Hannibal,” Murdock repeated over and over again.
“Who looks, like who?” Amy asked confused as she came in the house and heard Murdock’s cries.
“The little girl Amy. She looks just like the little girl that Face tried to save.he couldn’t Amy.he couldn’t. He tried, but he couldn’t. they killed her Amy.they killed them both.” Murdock became hysterical as the team tried to shake the shock over Murdock’s words from their systems.
“Captain, calm down and tell us exactly what happened,” Hannibal said sternly sensing that using an authoritative voice may keep Murdock lucid enough to get the details from him.
Face blinked his eyes and opened them. A wave of panic hit him as he found himself surrounded by darkness. His mind raced back to Vietnam *No, I can’t be back there, I just can’t* he thought as he tried to stand up. A pain shot through his side immediately causing him to sit back down. He gritted his teeth and worked his mind and body through the pain. Just like he had done so many times before, especially in ‘Nam where pain, both emotional and physical, was plentiful. As the pain subsided, Face moved his hand from his side and felt that it was wet.*Blood* he thought and quickly ordered his mind not to panic. A small wimpering sound aroused him from his thoughts. He looked around to see if he could figure out where it was coming from. He cursed the darkness that prevented him from seeing two inches and front of him. Fighting against the pain that threatened to overwhelm him, he followed the cries, reaching out he felt the tear stained face of a very frightened little girl.
“Are you hurt?” he asked, searching her body for signs of injuries.
“My arm hurts,” she winced in pain as Face felt her right arm. Pulling his hand away, he felt the blood dripping through his fingers and down his hand. He fumbled in his suit pocket for a handkerchief, bringing it out he wrapped it around the little girl’s arm applying pressure to stop the bleeding. The little girl hissed with pain at Face’s touch.
“I know it hurts, sweetie, but we have to stop the bleeding,” Face said and reached out to comfort her with his free hand. “Can you tell me about yourself? What’s your name?”
“Why, that is the most beautiful name I have ever heard,” Face smiled wishing he could see exactly what he was doing.
“I hate it! Most people call me Penny,” the little girl said and wrinkled her nose.
“Well, I like Penelope. Makes you sound like a grand fine lady,” Face replied.
“Really?” Penny asked amazed.
“Really, so, if you don’t mind, I think I will call you Penelope.”
Penny didn’t say anything, but reached out and put her small hand on top of his squeezing it for strength.