Author's Note: The typing of this interlude was delayed. Pretend my latest story (He Who Save's One Life…) isn't done yet. Okay? Also, this is really embarrassing. Oh, well. Why not?
"Hardware held Hostage"
With the court's permission, Susan had returned home. I have to let out my dog, she pleaded. One look at her picture of her mutt and the judge was putty in her hands. She returned to court shortly afterwards with a box of loose English tea, a Brown Betty teapot and her laptop.
"Mason didn't listen to me." Susan had snuck out during a break to call her sister and bring her up to date on the trial's progress. "They're still sticking with the old 'I didn't kill anyone' defense. I don't know how the jury is going to take that. Although, some of the witnesses were very effective on the stand."
"Well, I could find you another lawyer," Ruth responded. "But Martindale -Hubbell doesn't list fanfiction as a jurisdiction."
"Very funny." Susan answered.
"Have you thought about making a deal?" Ruth asked.
"No way," Susan countered. "I'm innocent. I didn't know."
"Maybe if the plaintiffs get to know you better, they'll drop the charges against you. Have you thought about approaching them?"
Susan thought about that. Normally that wouldn't be kosher, but this trial was being run like a zoo. One defendant was already cozying up to Hochstetter and she had spied another wrapped around Hogan's arm. Now, that really bugged her.
"Go after Newkirk," Ruth advised. "You have something in common, and he can get you close to the Colonel."
"All right." Susan observed that as usual no one was paying attention to what was happening in the spectator area, so she headed for the area where the soldiers were congregating and attempted to attract Newkirk's attention. "Psst. Peter."
Peter turned around. "Me?" he mouthed. Susan nodded.
"I have something for you. Here." She held out the box of loose Typhoo tea and the Brown Betty teapot. "I didn't know if you get real tea in camp, so I brought you this."
Newkirk was surprised. How could a person they were suing show such kindness? "Real tea, luv?"
"Loose tea and a pot. My Dad's British. You look like you could use a cuppa."
"Thanks." He took the pot and the box. "Where's your dad from, then?"
"Well, he's been in the States since '49," Susan responded. "But he's an East Ender. Whitechapel. My Grandfather was a Cockney."
"Was he in the war, then?"
"Navy. For the duration."
LeBeau snuck over to see what Newkirk was holding. "Hobnobbing with the enemy, mon ami?"
"Hey Louis, she brought me some tea, lay off."
"I'm not the enemy." Susan nervously faced the short, but angry French corporal. "I told you, I was sorry."
Hogan was watching this conversation with a slightly amused look on his face. He gave a slight nod to one of his men and stood up. "I need a break from sitting. Perhaps a little walk." The Colonel headed towards the lobby.
"Ma'am." Carter was whispering in Susan's ear. "I need you to come with us."
Susan's intuition suddenly gave her a warning signal. She looked at Carter and noticed the gun hidden in his jacket.
"Hey, how did you get that past security and don't point that thing at me," she angrily whispered back. "Besides, you wouldn't use it on me. You just don't do stuff like that and why do you want me to come with you, anyway? Hey, where are we going?" Carter had grabbed her arm.
"Luv," Newkirk was now talking. "The Colonel wants to have a chat with you. You might want to be concerned about this." He opened his jacket. Susan could see a hint of gray hidden underneath.
"My laptop!" Newkirk filched my laptop. "Hey, give that back. It's not mine. It belongs to work."
"You'll get it back, Ma'am," Carter said, "If you come with us."
The Colonel's posse brought Susan out into the lobby. Hogan was seated comfortably at a small table outside the coffee bar. He was attempting to decipher the coffee menu. Langenscheidt was hovering nearby, not seeming to care what his charges were up to, as long as they stayed within his eyesight.
The five men and the now extremely nervous author attempted to fit six chairs around the table. Hogan sent LeBeau and Carter up to the counter for refreshments and then flashed a charming smile. The Colonel opened up the laptop right in front of Susan. He was clever enough to power up the computer, but then hit a brick wall. "What's your password?" he ordered.
"I don't care who you are. You can't go around stealing my stuff." Susan responded.
He grabbed the laptop and held it out over the floor. "You know," Hogan said. "My hands aren't what they used to be. They've been broken and my wrists have been mangled so many times, it seems I may have lost my grip."
"Too many times in handcuffs, I reckon." added Newkirk.
"No! Don't drop it! Here." Susan wrote her password down on a napkin. Hogan entered it and the computer screen lit up.
"Neat!" Carter said. "Look at that!" He and LeBeau had come back with a tray of hot drinks. They began handing out the cups.
"Thanks." Hogan said cheerfully. "Now, where's the rat?"
"The what?" Susan was momentarily confused.
"The do-hickey, that makes that thingy move." Hogan pointed to the curser.
"Oh, you mean the mouse!" Susan started laughing. She couldn't help it. "You don't need a mouse for this computer. You just move your hand and push…here let me show you." She grabbed Hogan's hand and started moving it around the pad.
"Aha." Hogan started perusing the icons. "What are these things that look like folders?"
"That's exactly what they are. Folders. They hold information. Here, click on that one, it will open." Susan pointed to a folder labeled homework.
"Ooh, that's boring," LeBeau said.
"What else do we have?" Hogan started moving the icon over folders. "What should I click?"
Not the documents, not the documents. Phew. Susan let out a small sigh of relief as he ignored the folder. No, not the pictures.
"Pictures?" Hogan turned to Susan. She looked nervous. He clicked.
"Aww. Le petit chien!"
"That's my dog." Susan explained.
"Cute." Hogan said. "And this?" He clicked. The boys started to laugh.
"Nice shot of you, Sir." Carter chuckled.
"You seem to attract older women, Colonel." That was Newkirk.
"Hey, I'm not that much older," Susan protested. Well thirteen years is a bit much, but who cares. "Besides, I don't think you were born in 1910. You were born in 1905. It says so, on the forums."
"All right, knock it off." Hogan turned towards their captive author. Her face was turning beet red. "Care to explain this?"
"That's my avatar. It shows up next to my pen name. I'm not the only one," she mumbled.
"Kinch?" Hogan passed the laptop over to his radioman, who deftly took over. Within seconds, he had pulled up the fanfiction site.
Hogan did not want it known that he and his team had discovered all of the authors' passwords, so he asked Susan to log in.
"I don't really want to."
"Please type in your password." He pointed his gun at the computer.
What's with all these guns! "Put that thing away. You want to get us all arrested!?" Susan hastily typed in her password.
"Hogan!" Klink and Schultz came barreling into the lobby. "I knew you were escaping!" Klink shook his fist. "Hogan, when will you ever learn, no one escapes from Stalag 13!" Klink then noticed the author sitting next to the Colonel. "Excuse me, Fraulein. Hogan, what are you doing out here with this author?"
"Drinking…What is this LeBeau?"
"Drinking Café Mocha. Kommandant. Care to join us?" Hogan offered Klink a cup.
"No, I don't care to join you."
Hogan shrugged. "Suit yourself. Oh, don't worry, we're not going anywhere. See?" He pointed to Langenscheidt.
Klink took another close look at the author. He whispered to Hogan. "Is she the one who…" Klink made a cutting motion across his throat.
"Fraid, so, Sir. We're conducting an interrogation," Hogan whispered back.
Klink nervously backed away. "Oh, well, then. Just be back in time for when the trial resumes. Come Schultz."
Hogan, who had Snooky's fanfiction account open in front of him, started firing questions at the author.
"Why have the side effects decreased all of a sudden?"
"I think it's because most of us are too involved with the trial. We're too busy to update." Susan glanced at the first page of stories. "The other thing is the competition. A lot of new stories and new authors have popped up lately. I've read some of the new stuff and it's pretty tame."
"Well, thank goodness for small favors." Hogan scrolled down the page. He began to get concerned. "But there has been some updating going on, even after you people found out what's been happening to us."
Susan moved in a little closer, to get a better view of the screen. "Yes, I'm sorry, but these authors are in control of their own sites. If they want to update, that's their call."
"But you encourage each other!" Hogan pointed to the amount of reviews posted on some of the latest angst-ridden sagas.
"Well, it's nice to get resolution, isn't it?" Susan snapped back.
"When did this stuff start anyway?" Hogan asked.
"Not sure," Susan said. "Here, go to the last page. There it is." She pointed to the first story. "Wow, 1999."
"Hey, I remember that. We saw Mrs. Schultz at that Christmas Ball." Carter was scanning the screen.
"Didn't that happen right after you tried to start the avalanche with that jam session?" Kinch was skimming the story descriptions.
"Yeah, that's one of the missions you missed out on, Kinch."
"Wait a minute." Susan got the guys attention. "The avalanche. That was from Look at all the Pretty Snowflakes. It was the last episode filmed. You mean to tell me nothing happened to you in between that and this story?"
Hogan thought. "No. We went right from there to the Christmas ball. That was our next mission."
"And then this one, Sir." Kinch pointed to the second story posted.
Something about this seemed not only odd, but important. Susan stuck this information in the back of her mind.
Hogan started to absentmindedly rub his side. "Never mind those older stories. You're taking your sweet time getting us all out of camp, aren't you, Susan?"
"That's right!" Carter jumped up. "I've been in and out of those gates on that truck so many times, I'm getting carsick!"
"Sorry," Susan mumbled. "I do have a life! I can't write 24 hours a day, you know. Besides, my back hurts and I'm trying to stay off of the computer."
"Yeah, right." Hogan had Kinch return to her account. "What's this? Click on it!"
"No!" Susan cried. "That's nothing. Those haven't been posted. In fact, I was going to delete them." She started talking real fast. "See, that's why I grabbed my laptop. I didn't…"
"You didn't want us to see these? Kinch." Hogan motioned for him to open up the document manager.
"No." Susan moaned and laid her head on the table.
"Hey! There's Wilson!" Newkirk exclaimed. "You gave him his own chapter!"
"Yes, but I'm not ready to post that yet. Please don't click on that!"
"Oh, sure, you give the medic his own chapter, but, moi, non." LeBeau let loose a bunch of French curses.
"I haven't started you yet." Susan tried to explain. "Sorry. I have to wait for my muse to hit."
"Pull this one up, Kinch."
"No, Colonel, don't. That's not done. Please." Susan was now beginning to panic.
All five of the men started to chuckle. "Why don't you post more like this one?" Hogan, his eyes twinkling, his laugh lines showing, looked at Susan. She started to melt, again.
"I am, I mean, I will." All right, that's enough. "Hey, Colonel?" He stopped. "That's private property. Give it back, or I'll, I'll yell."
Wow, Hogan was impressed. "So you do have some backbone in there. Tell me," he walked over and put his arm around her. "What do you think about these other authors?"
"You should know," she answered. "You've obviously seen my reviews. You've already hacked into my site, didn't you?"
That took Hogan by surprise. "Aha, you're smart!"
Susan smiled. "I figured it out, 'theboysfrombarrackstwo!' Really."
"Well, miss know-it-all, what do you think of their excuses? We don't exist. I didn't kill anyone. They got better and that's all that matters." Hogan moved in closer. He was practically whispering in Susan's ear and getting way too close to her neck.
Sorry guys. "I think it may be true." Susan silently apologized to her fellow authors. "But I don't think it's a good excuse." If you don't exist, then I'm in serious trouble right now. "Is it me, or is it hot in here?"
"Sir, I think you should see this." Kinch interrupted. "This might explain those disappearances."
The five men crowded around the computer.
"What disappearances?" Susan asked warily. Unfortunately, she already knew the answer.
"I've had men disappear from the courthouse, and I've received reports from camp that more have vanished."
"Oh, no! It's started." Susan now dreaded what was about to happen.
"What did you do?" LeBeau was apoplectic. "Delete it, delete it!" he yelled.
"Oh God. I'm sorry. I started this before the trial, then stopped updating!" Susan started to panic. "No, you can't delete it. It's too late. It'll have to play out. If we stop it now, it will be worse. Trust me."
Hogan turned pale then sat back down. "You men keep reading. I can't look."
The men kept reading. "You friends with Robin?" Kinch asked.
"I just know her from some e-mails."
"You seem to have something in common," Kinch replied. "Well the good news, Sir, is you don't get hurt."
"Or killed?" Hogan asked.
"Well that's all right then, isn't it?" Susan added cheerfully , breaking in before Kinch could give Hogan the bad news. "Can I please have my laptop back?"
Hogan grabbed the computer and closed the top. "Here. You sure you won't make a deal and testify for the prosecution?" Hogan had tried to sweet-talk Susan into switching sides. Although she had killed them off, she had shown remorse and promised not to do it again.
"No." she was adamant. "Like I said, I didn't know. I didn't do anything wrong."
Hogan tried again. "Look, you followed the other authors' trends. They corrupted you."
Susan laughed. "I'm not corruptible, Colonel. Here, Peter. Don't forget your tea. I hope you can find real milk, so you can make it the right way."
"LeBeau, I promise I'll start on your chapter as soon as my back feels better. Si on pouvait aller danser...?"
"Carter? Are you still mad at me? "
"Not as much."
Now tightly clutching her laptop, Susan turned and faced the Colonel.
"Well, this has been a real education, Miss Snooky."
"You wouldn't consider taking me off the list of defendants, would you?"
"No," Hogan said. "You've killed me twice."
Twice? Susan smiled. "I like a good cry, Colonel. I guess I'll see you back at the trial then." She attempted to shove aside her fantasies, left the lobby and headed towards the courtroom.
The defense attorney spotted his client. "Susan, were you talking with the plaintiffs?" What a zoo, he thought. Some of these women.
"Yes, but I think I may have discovered some useful information."
"Their first memory after the show ended is actually the very first story posted. And then their next memory was the second story. It's almost as if we're responsible for their existence." Susan was beginning to get excited.
"That's very interesting." Mason was impressed. This could be very useful, indeed. "This merits further investigation. I may have to call you back to the stand."
"If you have to, I guess that's okay."
"Thanks, Susan. I have to make a few phone calls."
The two separated. Susan headed back to the courtroom. Mason found a quiet corner and called his office.
More author's notes:
Martindale-Hubbell is an attorney's directory. Although now available on-line, the set of books was and is also useful. It weighs a ton and could be used as doorstops, stepstools, weights, flower-presses, you name it!
Typhoo is a brand of English tea. It comes in a pretty red box. The loose tea is fabulous. I think they sell it at Wegmans. I get it shipped over from sympathetic relatives.
A Brown Betty is a teapot made from red clay only found in a specific area of England. Many feel these hand –made pots make the best tea. They are still being made today. The pot dates from the late 1600's. You can order these pots on-line in all different sizes.
Milk. Well you all know what milk is, but what you may not know is that it is traditional to have milk with your English tea. But, you must pour the milk first, then pour the tea. That way, the tea warms up the milk, not the other way around. Oh, and if you are using a pot, pour some boiling water in it first to warm it up, then put the tea leaves in., then the water and let it steep for about 3 minutes.
Newkirk and Susan's dad most likely would not have known each other. First, London is huge. Second, Newkirk would have been older and he was in the RAF. Sue's Dad grew up in the East End in what was then the Jewish Ghetto. Newkirk probably lived in a different area of the East End. Whitechapel was an area notoriously known for the Jack-the-Ripper murders. The East End was heavily damaged in the Blitz.