A Dark and Stormy Night

"Are we there yet?"

Hannibal and B.A. glanced to one another in the front seat of the van as they drove along in the night. It was a question expected to be asked, but never they would've thought, from the person who actually asked it. Hannibal turned in his seat to look at the two men in the back of the van; Murdock was curled up in his seat engrossed in a book of scary stories that he'd been reading since dinner, but Face sat upright in his seat and looked straight ahead, with eyes tired but hopeful.

"No we're not 'there yet' Face," Hannibal told him, "What's the matter with you?"

"What's the matter with me is it's late, I'm tired, I want to go to sleep and I'd like to be able to do it without getting carsick."

"Hey Face," B.A. said in a warning tone, "You throw up in my van and I'm gonna break your face."

"I'm too tired for that to intimidate me either," Face insisted, "Come on, Hannibal, can't we stop somewhere for the night?"

Hannibal sighed but turned front in his seat again and said to the man driving, "He's got a point, B.A., we've been on the road for 10 hours and the last four have been nonstop. Let's find a hotel we can stop in at for the night."

"Fine," B.A. grunted, "But Faceman better be able to get us some good rooms."

"Anything to get out of having to spend another night crammed in this van with the rest of you," Face replied snidely.

Hannibal rolled down the window on his side and stuck his head out to get a look at the sky. "We may be getting out of here at just the right time, looks like it's going to storm." He sucked in a large inhale and added, "Smells like it too."

Murdock was completely oblivious to the conversation, his eyes were wide as he took in every word of the story he was reading, an old Japanese story about a furniture maker who couldn't bear to part with a leather chair he'd made, so he took out the insides and traveled around in the chair, and the woman who bought the chair was an editor who had received a large manuscript by delivery, except it wasn't a manuscript, it was a confession by the man who was occupying the inside of her chair.

"Murdock!"

"Ha! Wha—" Murdock shot up in his seat and looked frontward and realized Hannibal had been saying something, "What'd you say, Colonel?"

"I said we're at the hotel, time to get our stuff and head in," Hannibal told him.

"Oh, right," Murdock recovered from his jolt and picked up his book.


The rain was just starting to come down when everybody piled out of the van, by the time they got in the hotel's front doors they could hear it pouring straight down outside, and were thankful that they were already in where it was dry. Face was talking to the woman at the front desk trying to work his charm to get them some good rooms for the night. While they waited to see what the outcome was, Murdock paced around the lobby and looked around at everything. It was a small hotel, nothing great by any means, but it was the best they could come up with on short notice, probably 3 stars at best. But that could work in their favor too because the cheaper the hotels were, the more lax the security was so it was easier for them to slip in and out without anyone really noticing.

They turned the corner and headed to the sitting area while they waited for Face to wrap everything up. Murdock stopped frozen in his tracks and felt his heart jump to his throat when he saw in the middle of the room was a large, black, leather chair. And before he could even fully process his thoughts, he saw Hannibal move to sit down in it and he screamed out, "No Hannibal, don't sit there!"

Hannibal froze halfway to sitting in the chair, he straightened his spine and asked the captain, "Is something wrong, Murdock?"

"Uh…no," he replied, "Just don't sit there, okay Colonel?"

Hannibal looked to B.A., then back to Murdock, shrugged cluelessly and said, "Alright, Murdock."

B.A. leaned over towards Hannibal and murmured low, "Hey Hannibal, I think it's getting about that time again."

"Time for what?" Hannibal asked as he sat down on the couch and fished a new cigar out of his pocket.

"Time to get Murdock back to the crazy hospital," B.A. answered, "He's acting crazier than usual, and I didn't even think that was possible."

Hannibal chuckled and replied, "You're overreacting, B.A."

"Oh yeah? You think so?" B.A. asked.

"I'm positive," Hannibal said.

"Only fools are positive," B.A. told him.

"You sure about that, B.A.?" Hannibal asked.

"I'm—hey! You tried to trick me, sucker."

"Almost succeeded too," Hannibal said with an amused smirk on his face.

Murdock was slowly circling around the leather chair in the lobby to observe any signs of movement in it, when Face came back with some keys.

"Well we got in right under the buzzer," he told the others, "They're just about full up, I got us the last two rooms available."

"Good work, kid," Hannibal said, "How many beds?"

"Ah…two," Face answered less enthusiastically.

"In each room?" B.A. asked in a borderline threatening tone.

"No, two beds total," Face said.

Both Hannibal and B.A. grunted when they heard that. Murdock stopped pacing around the chair and asked, "Both doubles I hope?"

"Yeah," Face said, "That's the one upside to it, that and the rooms are right next to each other, so if there's any trouble we'll be right by each other."

"Well that's something I suppose," Hannibal responded, "What floor?"

"Second floor," Face answered as he handed Hannibal one of the room keys.

"Alright, let's head on up," Hannibal told his men.

Murdock stayed with the little baggage they'd brought in, and dug through one of them until he found what he was looking for, a small crowbar. He stayed behind from the others long enough that he was able to sneak back to the lobby, and since it was a low key place, eventually the woman at the front desk went off somewhere else and the lobby sat empty. So Murdock tiptoed back over to the leather chair, went around it a couple of times to check for any sign of sudden movement on the chair's part, and when it didn't move, he swung the crowbar like a bat and hit it right in the back. Nothing. He went around and hit the chair in the front, again, nothing. So then he tried the right side, then the left side, still nothing. For good measure he hit the chair a few more times, still nothing, not even a moan.

By that time, the others had figured out that Murdock hadn't gone with them to their rooms, so they came doubling back down the stairs to the lobby, and showed up just in time to see Murdock start to walk away with the crowbar in his grip like a baseball bat; then out of nowhere he spun on his heel and hit the chair once more with enough force that it fell on its side.

"Okay," Murdock said as he turned to the others, "I think it's safe to sit in now."

B.A. just rolled his eyes and grumbled under his breath, "Crazy fool."