Disclaimer: The characters and concepts in this story are the property of Stephen Spielberg, George Lucas, and their wonderful affiliates are Paramount and Lucasfilm. This is an amateur writing effort meant for entertainment purposes only.
Summary: While recovering from a horrific car accident, Mutt is haunted by the form of his late stepfather Colin Williams. His investigation into the events surrounding his father's demise leads him to discover the dark truth about Colin's time overseas and even darker truths about the Nazis and the nature of evil.
Author's Notes: At long last, it is finished. I apologize for the delay. Between school and writer's block, I felt like this chapter would never get finished, but after finding some time this weekend, I put the finishing touches on it, sent it off to my fabulous beta (who read through it in RECORD time - seriously, someone get Guinness on the line), and got it ready for posting. I hope you all enjoy it!
To my beta, who is so fabulous, thank you so much for plowing through this as quickly as you did. Your comments were truly appreciated. The early drafts of this chapter needed a lot of retouching. Without your keen eye for narrative and character, this installment would have reigned supreme as substandard tripe. For your comments, suggestions, and support, I thank you.
It was as if he had completely shut down inside. He could see, he could smell, he could taste, he could touch, but he couldn't really feel anything except the emptiness, and it felt cold to him. Lying there on the living room couch he knew, the second he opened his eyes, that the hollow sensation occupying his body was all there was to the world. Something had changed inside of him, but he couldn't quite put it into words.
Mutt took stock of his surroundings apathetically. Someone had lain him down on the couch and covered him with a blanket. Sunlight streamed through the window, painting the room a cheery shade of gold. The image was made all the cheerier by the sounds of birds singing, dogs barking, and children laughing merrily. Meanwhile, he was empty in utopia.
"I shouldn't have done it."
His father's voice drifted out of the kitchen. The tone it had taken on was unfamiliar to Mutt. Indy never sounded so mournful, so utterly ashamed.
"Well, there's nothing you can do about that now," Marion replied. Her voice was gentle despite its bluntness, and even Mutt - in all his apathetic glory - could feel himself falling into it, reassured.
For a moment, at least. The bitterness hit him quickly after that.
He sat up immediately and searched the room. Someone had put a glass of water on the end table nearby, along with his daily dose of pills. The sight was like a fan to the flame. Mutt felt his fury rise to a fever pitch. He threw the blanket from his legs and stood, barely giving himself the chance to wince as he put weight on his injured leg. Nabbing the glass and pills from the table, he stormed off to the kitchen.
Mutt moved so quickly neither Marion nor Indy noticed his presence. They were standing by the sink staring sightlessly out the window in silence. Marion had her arms wrapped around her husband from behind, the only form of comfort she had left to offer at that point in time.
The sight of them together…Mutt's insides churned. He slammed the glass and the pills onto the table, rousing them from their reverie. "Thought you'd give me a choice this time?" he demanded.
"Mutt," Marion sighed, releasing Indy from her grasp. She rounded the countertop and approached him.
"Stay away from me, Mom."
She stopped as he requested but still seemed to lean towards him, desperate to close the distance that was growing steadily between them both physically and emotionally.
"Honey," she said, "Mutt, I want you to listen to me. Last night…"
"Oh yeah, I'll tell you what happened last night: Daddio decided to slip me a little something. You dosed me. You dosed me! I can't believe you!"
For a moment, Mutt saw a pained expression cross Indy's face as the accusation struck him full force from across the room. It disappeared beneath his usual stoicism just as quickly as it appeared. "You were hysterical," his father replied. "What else was I supposed to do?"
"Well, you could have not drugged me. How's that for starters?"
Indy's temper flared. Apparently, he had taken the drugging as personally as his son had. "And have you take another jog around the block? I don't think so, kid. You think I didn't see the state your leg was in last night? You almost ripped your stitches! Again!"
"You had no God damn right!"
"Henry!" Marion snapped.
"And stop calling me that. Jesus!" Mutt shivered involuntarily. If the name hadn't been a bother before, it certainly was now. The image of Colin's heartbroken face flashed through his mind along with that name, nothing more than a whisper on a dead man's breath.
"Don't talk to your mother like that," Indy was moving around the counter now. "You wanna be mad at me? Go right ahead. But don't take this out on her."
"Fine," the younger man stated. He wrapped his arms around his chest, partly out of frustration and partly because his blood had gone cold. Suppressing his anxiety, Mutt focused on the anger instead. The thought of Indiana's betrayal made his blood boil, warming him to the core until his whole body felt like it was filled with hellfire.
The doorbell rang, breaking some of the tension. After a moment's hesitation, just long enough to ensure neither father nor son were going to make a move for the kitchen knives, Marion left to answer it.
Indy and Mutt didn't take their eyes off each other. It was the younger man who finally broke the silence.
"I can't believe you would do something like that."
Every syllable felt like a knife going through Indy's skin. The kid had forced the words out through teeth clenched so tightly the consonants were sharper than sword points, but that wasn't the only reason they had left a mark on him. He had watched Mutt submit to the drugs the night before; he had seen the look in the young man's eyes, the accusing stare that followed the initial shock of drug-induced lethargy. Even as Mutt's body went limp, Indy could feel his son's eyes upon him, boring into his soul with a look of such pure condemnation that the sensation would no doubt haunt him for the rest of his life.
Mutt's eyes narrowed on his father's face. His blood boiled anew. "You had no right to do that to me. None."
"Yeah, well, sorry doesn't cut it. I mean, Christ – you followed the instructions of a crystal skull! A crystal, alien skull! I thought out of everybody, you'd have my back in this, not go and take a stab at it."
"You were hysterical. You were having a panic attack. You were chasing a dead man, for God's sake! I didn't know what else to do!"
"I was working it out!"
"Mutt," Marion's voice cut Indy off. She reentered the kitchen with a confused expression on her face, one she immediately shot towards her son. Lifting her hands from her lap, she offered Mutt a brown envelope she had retrieved from the porch.
"It's a little early for mail," Indy said.
"It didn't come through the post office," Marion replied. "Whoever sent it rang the doorbell, left it on the door mat, and high-tailed it out of here before I could even catch a glimpse of them."
The adrenaline collected so thickly in his bloodstream he could practically taste it. Mutt barely contained himself. He moved quickly to his mother's outstretched hand and took the envelope from her. Marion retreated without being asked, but he could tell by her body language that she didn't intend to go far.
The envelope bore his name, but it was written in a script he had never seen before. None of his friends could write in cursive as meticulously or elegantly as the sender had. None of them would have done it with a calligraphy pen either, he noted, scanning the fine lines of the letters for any other clues before tearing open the seal and pouring the contents into his hand.
The bright, white backs of photographs greeted his eyes. Mutt tossed the envelope on the table and brought the pictures close to his chest, hiding them from his parents' view, before flipping them over.
This time when the doorbell rang, Mutt didn't hear it. He didn't see his mother pat his father supportively on the shoulder, didn't watch her walk out to answer. He couldn't sense the curious expression working its way across his father's face and didn't bother to look up even as the elder man spoke his name. There was no world outside the black and white world of the pictures; no emotion, no thought, no breath. He was back in his black hole again, wide-eyed and speechless at what he found.
It was a slightly crowded frame, but the photographer had been talented enough to leave the background a blur of shadow, choosing to focus on a single individual. A man stood alone amidst the blackness. His face was turned away from the camera, focusing on something outside of the frame. Yet even from the profile, Mutt knew who the man in the picture was, and every inch of his body responded in kind. The fury that had once saturated his veins with fire chilled, and he shivered despite himself.
Fingers shaking, he peered at the second photograph in the envelope. The man was facing the camera this time, giving Mutt a perfect view of his face. It was a face that had only appeared in a handful of photographs, including one that, up until a week ago, had sat on the night table in Mutt's bedroom.
Colin Williams. The name burned like a flame in Mutt's mind. He took a deep breath and held it, staring madly at his stepfather's face in a search for answers. As far as he knew, mom had cornered the market on Colin photographs after his death, but these weren't like any he had seen before. All the pictures she had collected were from 1930s and prior. Colin's appearance seemed relatively the same in these photographs, yet these were unlike any pictures he had seen of his father before and were printed on new photo paper, no less. More importantly, Colin's pose and expression seemed familiar somehow, despite the fact that Mutt was certain he had never seen photos of his stepfather like these before.
A camera flashed across the street…twice.
Bishop's Park, Mutt remembered, and the thought nearly took his breath away. Somebodymust have seen him at Bishop's Park.
His heart raced. A thousand thoughts passed through his mind at once. Someone hadn't just seen Colin at Bishop's Park; they had recognized him enough to take a photograph. More importantly, Mutt's breathing quickened as the realization dawned on him, hallucinations and ghosts didn't photograph. Colin Williams had been in the park, though how or why, Mutt hadn't the faintest.
He opened his mouth to hail his parents, but was interrupted.
He tore his gaze from the photos in surprise. Marion had returned to the kitchen, accompanied this time by a middle-aged gentleman Mutt had never seen before.
"Mutt," his mother gestured towards the stranger, "this is Dr. Everett."
Her sudden silence was deafening. Normally, she would have offered some kind of explanation, shown him some kind of credentials but not today, not for the good Dr. Everett. He didn't need an explanation or credentials, and the reason for it shook Mutt to the core. Either Everett was one of his many attending physicians – an unlikely possibility, since the young Jones knew for a fact only Jenks was on his case now – or his credentials were of a specialty no member of the family, least of all his mother, wanted to discuss.
Mutt tightened his grip on the pictures and cast a glance between his mother and father. They'd ambushed him twice now – once with the drugs the night before and now with a physician the morning after. And not just any physician, his lips pursed into a thin line and his hands balled themselves into fists. This one isn't for the leg is it, mom?
His eyes began to burn with fresh tears, but his rising anger managed to keep them at bay. "This day just keeps getting better and better," he said in a feeble attempt to loosen the mood if there ever was one. Mutt's fury ran deep. He would have taken on Indy in a boxing match right then and there if he'd had the chance. Shaking his limbs a little to free the tension, he glanced between his parents and demanded, as cockily as he could, "You gonna have me locked up in a padded cell, too?"
"He just wants to talk," Marion replied. Her voice had taken on that defeatist quality, the one that had made Mutt's insides crumble since he was a child. God Himself would have moved mountains if Marion had asked him in that voice.
But Mutt found his resolve was stronger now that all eyes were on him, especially the eyes of his Benedict Arnold parents. He turned his gaze to Everett. The doctor was built quite a bit like Indiana but with softer edges. He had the same fair, gray hair, the same blue eyes, and the same chin. He had similar sized shoulders, chest, arms, and legs. He even wore the same type of spectacles and suits as Dr. Henry Jones Jr. Everything about his appearance urged Mutt to trust him unconditionally. Here was the type of man he could tell his deepest secrets to, all his thoughts and fantasies. Here was a man who wouldn't slip him drugs in the midst of a panic attack or ambush him with a trip from a psychiatrist first thing in the morning.
No, Mutt thought, he'd just haul me off in a straight jacket and toss me in a padded cell instead.
Everett gave a small wave. "Hi, Henry."
"Alright – Mutt," the doctor corrected himself pleasantly. "Your mother was telling me you've had a rough couple of weeks."
"They don't seem to be getting much better," Mutt replied, glaring at his parents.
Everett smiled, an effort Mutt believed was to lighten the mood. The doctor took a step towards the table and set his briefcase down. Placing his hands on his hips, Everett's presence became much more approachable. He could have been another student in one of Mutt's classes or a teaching assistant with that demeanor. Mutt recognized a ploy when he saw one though. You're going to have to work harder than that to get me to talk, Doc.
"Look, I'm not here to pass any judgment." Mutt suppressed the urge to roll his eyes at the doctor's statement. If he wasn't here to pass judgment, what the hell was he here for? "I just wanna hear your side of things. Think you're up to a conversation?"
Well, when you put it like that,the edges of Mutt's mouth curved into a slight smirk. This guy was good, there were no doubts there. Anyone else would have been putty in his hands. The photographs clutched to Mutt's stomach were like a siren's song, though, one the younger man couldn't ignore. He had to get out of the kitchen. He had to figure out what his next move would be, because it sure as hell wouldn't be spilling his guts to a shrink.
"Yeah," he nodded, forcing his voice into the same defeatist tone as his mother had moments before. The ashamed looks on his parents' faces and the makings of a smile on Everett's told Mutt his façade was working for the time being. Picking up the envelope and drawing it and the photographs to his side, Mutt went in for the kill. "You uh…you mind if I go change, Doc? I just woke up."
"Not at all. Take your time." Everett smiled like a used car salesman. I've got all day to figure out how crazy you are.
Mutt turned back to the living room and headed for the stairs.
The second his door shut, Mutt gave himself over to the panic that had been building in the kitchen. He paced the length of the bedroom several times, running his hands frantically through his hair to get his thoughts moving productively.
I could show them the pictures, he thought to himself. That would certainly clear up some of the confusion over whether he was out of his mind or not. It would also be enough to send Everett on his merry way. Two birds with one stone, Mutt thought happily and headed for the door. Done and…
He stopped short, his hands hovering several inches from the door handle. "What the hell am I thinking?" he asked himself bitterly and whipped back around to resume pacing. The whole scene looked ridiculous in his mind's eye: Mom, dad – I appreciate you calling a shrink and all, but Colin actually was in Bishop's Park, as proven by these photographs. True, he hasn't aged a day since the war, the location is pretty nondescript, and they were left by an anonymous donor who can't corroborate with my story at all, but he was totally there. So how 'bout we just forget about this whole psychiatrist thing and you let me get back to finding my stepdad – sound like a plan?
Mutt rolled his eyes. "Yeah," he scoffed. "Like that'll fly." Colin hadn't aged a single day in the pictures. There were a number of other possible explanations, each one more plausible than the notion that long-dead Colin Williams had been perfectly restored to the land of the living. The prints could have come from old negatives. But where the hell would someone have scored the negatives? It wasn't like Dad was front page news, least of all in the States. He pressed his fingers into his temples. And if they were old prints, why give them to me now? And why not wait around at the door for a thank you or an explanation or something?
He came to a stop in the centre of the room. Someone could be messing with him. There wasn't a single student on Marshall Campus who hadn't heard the reason Mutt ran into traffic in the first place. Mutt didn't like that explanation either, though. Even if someone had found the old negatives and made prints, as a prank they reached a new low in adolescent mischief, and Mutt couldn't imagine someone being that cruel.
Sighing, Mutt dropped onto the bed and tried to channel his thoughts more productively. True, he could take the pictures to Mom and Pops, but what would that accomplish? His episode the night before had worried them past the point of no return. Pictures or no pictures, there would be no getting out of his meeting with Everett. Worse, any sign of evasion might be misconstrued as another bought with hysteria, forcing Mutt even further into psychiatric care.
Which left only one other option: find out who took the pictures.
Mutt thought hard, focusing hard on the memories of that day. Bishop's Park existed in his mind as it did in the photographs: nothing more than a mess of shape and colour. The camera flash was an autonomous light. It had a source only because logic dictated it must be so, but who that source was faded behind screaming crowds of children and the image of Colin Williams standing amongst them.
Grabbing the pictures, Mutt scanned them for any identifying marks. There were none. The photo paper was generic, plain white. Which means these weren't processed at a drug store, he took a deep breath. It means they were done privately.
He paced again. Photo developing was a pretty big gig. You needed a dark room, the chemicals, the trays, the space... That rules out most homes, Mutt thought. He walked back towards his bedroom window, willing his brain to work faster. Where else was film developed privately?
A single name emerged from his mouth: "Chloe." She had been a photography enthusiast ever since she realized pictures were an integral part of the journalistic process. If there was anyone available to tell him where the pictures were developed, it would be her.
Mutt grabbed a clean shirt out of the drawer and began tugging off his old one. First, he needed to get in touch with Chloe; then he would find out who took the pictures. After I get down the stairs, of course… …and get my bike…and get out of the driveway…all without being seen or heard by the parentals or their psychiatrist. Ah, crap…
He started pacing again, ignoring the pain building inside of his leg. God, he needed a way out! Where the hell can I go? What the hell can I do? He was an eighteen-year-old car accident victim with a bum leg; there wasn't anything he could do.
Unless… Mutt remembered the tree outside of his parents' bedroom window. The branch nearest the house had been large enough to support him if memory served him correctly, and he could climb out with using his injured leg. So long as I don't fall off, he cringed at the thought. His leg gave a painful throb in agreement.
"Better than nothing," Mutt decided, and shrugged on a clean shirt.
The second Everett had a cup of coffee placed in front of him Marion excused herself from the kitchen. She tried to tell herself it was just to go check on Mutt, but deep down she knew her sudden departure was more than that. The kitchen had shrunk several sizes the moment she introduced Everett to Mutt, and it was getting smaller by the second. With Indy entertaining the good doctor, she rushed to the foyer, bypassed the stairs, rounded the corner into Indy's study, and came to a sudden halt, her back pressed tightly against the wall. With the whole world out of sight and out of mind, Marion pressed her face into her hands and began to weep.
God, she wanted to scream! What was she doing to him? "He's not crazy," she insisted breathlessly. "My son is not crazy."
"Oh Christ," Marion spat under her breath. She ran her hands across her face, furiously wiping away the tears. What but? There are no 'buts' about it: my son is NOT crazy.
Yet the anxiety lingered, and Marion was gripped with fear. Memories haunted her, half-forgotten fragments from what seemed like a lifetime ago. There she was, a newly widowed mother, alone in an unknown city, worlds away from everything she had come to know. Nevertheless, she found herself trailing after her son as he chased the ghost of his father wherever they happened to go. One day it was the park, the next it was the grocery store, the next in…God, Marion couldn't remember. She had all but forgotten about those experiences, dismissing them as the byproduct of Mutt's overactive imagination.
Overactive imagination…the thought should have come as a comfort to her, but it didn't. She knew now just as she had known that first day in the hospital that this was more than an overactive imagination to explain. Mutt had seen something that had shaken him to the very core and then some. No, this isn't just his overactive imagination at work, Marion told herself. This is something bigger and far worse than anyone can imagine.
But what is it?
She sighed. "I don't know," she whispered with a mournful shake of her head. Tears began to well in her eyes again. "I just don't know."
With that settled, Marion brushed away her tears. "I don't know, I don't know," she repeated. It was in no way a comforting mantra, but for some reason the very act of saying it aloud helped her focus. She took a deep breath and left the study.
Mutt's door was closed when she finally got up the stairs. I'm the last person he'll want to see, she though with a sigh. Nothing less than I deserve, but still, he's my boy. I just want to know that he's alright, that we're getting through this. Is that so wrong of me? Is it?
She stopped short in the hall and balled her hands into fists to release the growing tension in her body. What have I done? Marion pressed a hand against the wall to steady herself. What have I done to you?
Lied to him.
Okay, so I'm not mother of the stinking year! she crossed her arms. But I am his mother. And I am doing the right thing for him.
Marion knocked on the door.
"Mutt…" she knocked again. The silence emanating from inside her son's room was deafening. "Mutt…" her voice quieted, "Mutt, please just answer me. I know you're upset about this. Lord knows I'm not happy about it either. It's just…" words failed her. Marion swallowed the growing lump in her throat and pressed on with her explanation. "He just wants to talk. Please, Mutt, he just wants to talk."
Nothing. Not so much as a scoff in response. Marion half-expected her words to barb Mutt into saying something. It was unlike him to allow such a loaded statement to go without response. Marion pressed her ear against the door and listened hard. There didn't seem to be any sounds coming from her son's room at all.
"Mutt?" she knocked again. "Mutt? I'm coming in."
Marion expected the door to come to a sudden halt after a few inches, but it didn't. Instead, the door swung freely on its hinges, revealing an empty room beyond.
Happy reading everybody!