DISCLAIMER: I do not own the rights to Thunderbirds, and no profit is intended from this story. It is for entertainment purposes only.
Title: Midnight Musings
Description: John Tracy reflects on the results of a difficult rescue,and the responsibilities and burdensthat he carries as space-monitor for International Rescue. One-shot. TV or movie-verse.
Archive: Sure, just give me credit please, and drop me a line telling me where you put it.
Universe: I like to think of this piece as being TV or movie-verse, so pick whichever one you want. I've used the age for the movie, but feel free to change that in your mind. John is John, in my opinion, and those minor differences shouldn't matter any.
A/N: This little puppy was born while I was writing a scene from The Winds of Advent. The Tracy brothers were dealing with a rescue situation and John was having to speak to the victims of the accidentfor the first time over the radio, a situation which I wanted to deal with directly in that story. However, as I wrote I began to realise that somewhere along the line he would also end up dealing with people who did not survive, unlike those in the chapter that I was writing. Those situations must be hard, as John explains in this monologue. So, for all of you John fans out there, here's a snapshot of his thoughts after a long and difficult day of work. I hope you enjoy.
Change. Our universe is, at least from the viewpoint of those on Earth, constant and unchanging. The ground stays the same, the sky stays the same, and the stars rotate about their axis everyday in relation to the planet. The differences that there are - in the macroscopic world - happen at such insignificant levels that we are not aware of them.
Take, for instance, the movement of the plates under the Earth's crust. Small, insignificant motions that - when compared to the size of the planet - mean nothing over a period of only five or ten years. Human beings, having only begun observing these motions recently, do not truly appreciate the grand effects that occur on a much larger time scale.
Effects that, at the moment two plates collide, are catastrophic.
There are other things that remain the same to the human eye. Space, as I mentioned before, remains mostly the same. The stars are the same, the planets are the same, and the blackness that engulfs us is the same. It is a monumental occasion on Earth the instant that a star should disappear in a supernova blast, for even that only happens every so many decades.
Humans move so quickly in comparison to the rest of the world. They are born and are gone in a heartbeat of a mountain or a thought of a sun. Sometimes they disappear even quicker than that, snuffed out by other humans or by the planet itself.
Take Earthquakes, for example. They are predictable or they are unpredictable, depending on whom you speak to. No one denies that they exist, for the results are quite obvious. Death. Destruction. Distress calls.
My mind wanders when I'm tired. Take now, for instance. I'm laying in bed with my eyes closed, trying to tune out the noises and events of the passing day. But they ring about in my head and refuse to disappear.
How did I get from 'change' to 'death' in a time period of five minutes? Sometimes I surprise myself. My mind goes off on its own for a few seconds and everything changes. I really need sleep.
But sleep I can't get, not when my mind is this active. I'm like a runner after a marathon, stumbling around, unable to walk properly. In a state of shock, maybe. The man, who can't believe what he heard, can't comprehend what he did. Only I didn't win a race.
Damn him, why couldn't he hold on? I wanted him to hold on, I told him that. It was all that I cared about for twenty minutes, keeping that man's hands attached to the side of that building. All in a sickening calm voice: "Keep talking to me, that's right. You're going to be fine."
You're going to be fine.
Like hell. The building was going down - I could see it on the tectonics display. He had twenty minutes, and then he was gone when the ground collapsed. Vanished. Removed from this world. Lost.
It's no different than the last few times that a big disaster struck . . . the freak hurricane that hit New York; the volcanic eruption in the Pacific; the explosion in Russia at the power plant. Everywhere there were the walking dead – the soon to be deceased - talking to me. Me, the last voice that they'd ever hear.
I can't get used to this. I'd be a monster if I did. Aren't I, though, so calm, so controlled, telling these people that they'll live when death is coming up behind them with a scythe?
Why did the guy have to have a transmitter with him? He just happened to have his cell phone in his pocket. I can picture it. His legs wrapped about the failing support brace, one hand holding onto the steel wall, the other holding the phone to his mouth . . .
"Please, someone help me!"
Sorry sir, but that's just not possible. Your time is up.
"Don't panic, sir, we'll have someone after you right away. Just hold on tight."
"Oh thank-you, International Rescue!"
I'm sadistic. Sick and sadistic. I should have told him to phone his wife and kids so he could say good-bye.
"The building, it's shaking! Help me, someone!"
"Keep your hold as long as you can. It's just a minor disturbance."
A minor disturbance? What was I thinking, telling him that? What I should have said, what was in fact running through my mind the entire time, was: 'The plate underneath you is moving again. Do you know how tiny the building is in comparison to what's under the ground? There are forces involved that even we can't combat.'
"Oh my god!"
And then it happened. Crashing, screaming . . . the sound of breaking glass and falling concrete. It happens every time. Scott's voice jumps in, apologising, yelling, he couldn't get there fast enough to save the guy, the kids were on the ground and he had trouble getting them out. There was a school nearby, and they were able to evacuate it before it was sucked into the Earth.
Not that man, though. No, he hung there until his dying breath, thinking he'd be rescued, trusting my promise for a rescue that would never come. His last thoughts were probably born from confusion. He probably wondered where his saviour was, probably wondered why I had lied to him - because that's the truth.
I lied to him. I had to, of course. What else was I supposed to do? Would it have been more humane to tell the man that he was about to be crushed under a thousand tonnes of steel? No one wins in those types of situations.
But, damn it, why can't we save everyone? It's just not fair. Who makes these choices for us? No one should have to, really. We're humans, not gods. So who plays fate for us?
"Scott, grab the kids first. I'll talk to the guy, keep him calm. Maybe you can get there before the building goes down."
Unbelievable. I still don't know how I said those words. How I calmly wrote the man down on the causality list, how I discarded his life for the sake of a hundred others . . .
It makes me sick.
There it was - the voice of some perverse almighty being. That's what I am.
And whose idea was it to trust fate to a twenty-five year old kid who hardly has the experience to make a choice like that without regretting it later?
I forgot. It was mine.
I'm getting tired. I need sleep. I've been awake the last forty-eight hours, and I'm thinking way too much. My brain is fried, body is exhausted, and soul is ready to turn in for the night. Tomorrow it'll seem like a memory. It already does. Damn it John, I think, stop watching cheap B-grade disaster films in your spare time. That's what it all seems like now. Reruns of some old television show from last century, faded to the dark and whites of the greyscale, butchered with distorted sound and imagery.
Tomorrow I'll remember the good parts of the movie. I'll remember the kids that Scott pulled out, and the seniors that Virgil dragged from the retirement complex. I'll remember why I do this, why I force myself to sleep on the nights when I'd rather do anything but. I'll see their faces in my mind, from the images that Scott sent to me, and know that the sacrifice was worth it. Weigh it in your mind, I think. One-hundred to one. One death, and one-hundred survivors in the area that we worked in. That's a great ratio, don't you think?
Tomorrow . . . tomorrow I'll file that man away in my mind and try to forget about him. But compassion is powerful, and to forget is to not care. Maybe I don't really care then, because if I carried the guilt of every person that I sent to death on my shoulders I'd be dead with them. So he'll disappear like the rest of them. He'll never have existed in my mind. And the rescue? What rescue . . .
I'm so close to sleep, yet one more question gnaws at my mind, begging to be answered. I think about it a lot, and even though the answer is always the same, I constantly find myself repeating it over and over again in the hopes that one day I'll remember it for good.
Who am I? I don't really know the answer to that. I used to be able to answer it so easily. John Tracy, I'd reply quietly. I'm studying science. I want to fly into space. I want to touch the moon if I can. I want to study the stars. But that's not what happened – that's not the answer anymore. Those are cosmetic answers at best, for the real answer is now far more complex.
For the few minutes every day that I do my job I'm the voice of hope for those who are destined to die. The rest of the time I'm a twenty-five year old trying to forget those moments when his job is less than desirable. Everything else is simply window dressing; sustenance to fill in the emptiness that so often lies between the grief and the contentment.
Desensitised. Sometimes I wonder if I am, especially during those long moments when I find myself managing the horrific half of my duty. Sometimes I wonder if I'm even human anymore, if I can even feel for those people who I cannot see with my own eyes.
I wonder this often . . . except on the nights like this after a long and draining rescue, when I cry and scream as loud as I can without opening my mouth, keeping the fury bottled up in my mind for only me to hear. It is nights like this that I know that I still care.
I guess that some things never do change. Maybe human beings, who can be given birth or death in an instant, are more constant than I thought.