Summary: A recurring nightmare haunts Alan Tracy during his latest tour of duty aboard Thunderbird 5.
Author's Note: This was one of the earlier "Thunderbirds" stories I wrote, and it's been archived on the Tracy Island Chronicles.
It's like a twisted version of Thunderbird 5...it's like every single voice is crying out for help, not just the normal chatter. 5's deserted...like an end-of-the-world scenario where help is needed at every corner of the globe but nobody's there to help them. There's no one on 5 but me and I'm helpless, I don't know what to do, everyone everywhere is begging for help, begging to be saved, and I don't know where John or Dad are, I don't know what's happened to IR, to Base.
Even the Hood is crying out for help from Malaysia, begging to be saved.
Wait, I'm on Base now. It's deserted. It's so...eerie. The eyes are blinking and beeping in all the portraits, radios are crackling in the Lounge. There isn't a soul in sight. It's just like they all disappeared, POOF, just like that.
I'm calling out to them by name. Brains! Gordo! Virg! Scott! Dad!
But no one answers.
1 is there, silent and alone in its hangar. No Scott.
Same with 2 and 3. No Virgil. No John.
It's like things were dropped. Like someone was standing with a cup of coffee...the cup is on the floor, broken, the coffee all over the place. The person just disappeared.
I'm turning on the monitor now, by Dad's desk. Oh, God, it's terrible. Fires, earthquakes, tsunamis...it's utter devastation. I'm in disbelief. I can't cry, I can't do anything. It's like I'm a robot. I can feel the despair, the helplessness, but I can't get the emotion out of me, can't react.
Waves are crashing into the island.
Like bibbidi-bobbidi-boo POOF. Everyone's gone. Nobody's here. I can't figure it out. The bedroom suites are empty.
There's something burning on the stove, just left there. I turn the stove off.
Have you ever heard of the Rapture described in the Bible? It feels so much like that. Like a movie I saw about it once in church as a child, we used to go, me and John and Gordon. For a while we did, until we saw this movie.
It goes that there will come the Rapture, which is that God descends upon man and takes those who are righteous, leaving the unrighteous behind. A man and a woman will be sleeping in bed together, and the man will wake to find the woman has vanished. Children will be playing on the street, and will disappear just like that, jump-ropes dropping to the asphalt.
What happens in the aftermath is that all those left behind must make a choice. You can choose to live, but if you choose life, you have to be branded with the mark of the Devil, which means you will live out your life but will burn eternally in Hell when you die.
Or you can choose God, but to do so means you must die immediately by beheading, like on a guillotine. But then you will be with God.
But this disappearing of them, of International Rescue...of my family...that's what it feels like, like they just vanished, like the hand of God just reached down and took them.
That movie just plays over and over in my mind. I know the purpose of it was to reinforce the importance of leading a righteous life so that we wouldn't have to suffer the choice to live branded by the sign of the Devil or die a horrid death just so we could be in Heaven. But now it haunts me as I walk through the roundhouse, through the cliffhouse, through the hangars, around the island...all deserted.
Father's desk. A few papers...there's something else, too, a book of some sort. One paper is an order form or packing slip of some sort for a piece of bulkhead. Another one looks like a letter.
Oh, God. Oh,God! A wave just broke through the window wall! I must run. I must escape the waves.
I'm running up...up stairs...I'm out on the roof of the house. The waves are so high. So high. Wave after wave. Higher. I must go higher.
Now I'm climbing up the dormant volcano face from the roof. My hands are bleeding, my clothing is tearing. But still I can't cry. I don't understand what's happening, where everyone is. I just keep repeating, "Help me, help me, help me."
The skies are dark and angry. A lightning bolt. A lightning bolt strikes the house and there are sparks, fire...explosion. It burns my back but I keep climbing. I'm halfway up. I'm almost at the top. Most of the island is submerged now. It's almost as though it was never there.
I get to the top and I just stand there. Petrified. Alone. Scared.
Where is everybody? The water's higher. I'm gonna die.
I don't wanna die. I'm not ready to die. Where is Gordo? Where's Scott? Dad? Tin-Tin? Somebody please help me, tell me what's happening.
Despair. Utter despair. I sink to my knees. The waves are almost reaching me now on the mountain top.
And then...I hear a voice calling out to me. Whose voice? Can it be the voice of God come to take me? Take me like He took my father, my grandmother, my brothers...is it possible? Is what I saw in that movie possible? It can't be. But that voice. I want to go towards it. I want to be with it...with him, whoever it is that's calling my name.
It's fading. The storm, the lightning, the crashing of waves. I don't hurt anymore. I can feel something wet on my cheeks. I open my eyes to find I am crying. I'm crying alone. My bed on Thunderbird 5. I'm alone. Alone on 5. I weep silently into my pillow as I realize what it was.
A dream. The dream. Tears continue to fall. I have this dream a lot. It isn't the first time and I know it won't be the last. I know why I have it, too. Why I dream that everyone's gone but me. It's my greatest fear. Being alone. I never have this nightmare when I'm home. Only when I'm here on 5.
I can't tell anyone. I can't my father. He'll be so disappointed in me. Nobody knows what happens sometimes when I'm alone here. Not even Gordo. And he knows me better than anyone. I want to call him. I just wanna call him, but I can't. I don't want him to know. If he sees me now, he'll know I was crying. I can't let him see. I can't let anyone see.
But I want to. I want to tell someone. There's no one I can tell. I want to tell Gordo, but I don't. I want to tell Father, but I can't. The one I really wish I could tell is Scott. I wish I was tough like him. Tough like Scott, strong and silent like Virg, jovial like John, laid-back like Gordo. They don't get scared like this, like little girls. No wonder they treat me like a baby. They must know I hide this fear inside, way deep down inside. They must sense it, that's why they treat me like a kid.
How would it look if they knew how deep this fear went? Dad wouldn't want me to go out on rescues. Virgil would be sad for me, he'd try to cheer me up with a song on his piano. Gordon would try to get me into mischief to make me feel better. John would be sarcastic and bust my chops trying to make me laugh. Tin-Tin would treat me like an infant, mothering me. So would Grandma. Brains would come up with some psychobabble gibberish and try to make me understand where this fear comes from.
But I already know where it comes from. And, I think, there might be just one other man who could understand it. But I can't destroy the image he has of me, I can't show this weakness to him. I idolize him, and if he thought me a wimp I'd never be able to face him again. I have to continue to let Scott think I'm strong. I can't let him know this. I want to. I can't.
"Help me. God, help me."
I know Scott gets scared like this. Whenever Virgil gets hurt, he gets scared. I can see it in his eyes, but I know he doesn't want me to know. That's why I know he'd understand. He's afraid to be alone, too. I think he felt alone after Mom died...after I was born. Virgil told me Dad wasn't around for us much for a few months, that Scott bore the brunt of raising us even though Grandma was there to help.
But how do I tell him? Should I? Can I? No.
What's that? What's that sound? It's Base. Base is calling me. No, not now. Please not now. I'll put it on audio only. That way they won't see me, whoever it is. They won't see I've been crying like a child.
I flip on the vidphone. I select Voice Only. "This is Thunderbird 5," I say. I'm trying to make my voice sound strong, but it isn't and I know it. Please don't let it be Dad. Please don't let it be...
My heart freezes. "Scott?"
"Hey. Why the Voice Only? Come on, turn on the vid."
He can't see me like this. Then again, it's dark in here. Maybe he won't be able to see me. I flip on the vid. My eyes widen. Scott looks awful. He looks like he hasn't slept all night. I look at the chronometer. It's nearly four o'clock in the morning island time.
"Scott, what's wrong?"
"I was about to ask you the same thing."
"Why'd you call? Did something happen?"
"No, everything's fine. I called because...I don't know. Are you okay?"
I can't help myself. I sniffle to keep my nose from running onto my lips.
"Al? Have you been...are you crying?"
Shit. Goddammit, he knows.
"Nothing big, Scott. Just tripped and hurt my toe but good. You know how it is."
His brow furrows. He knows I'm lying. "Alan, turn on the light."
"Turn it on."
All at once he's my commander, not my big brother, and I obey. I reach over and press the button. The lights come on first level...quite dim. But he can see me now.
"You have been crying. I knew it."
"That's why I called."
"I just felt like something was wrong. Tell me."
I just shake my head. I can't tell him. I can't.
"Al, I'm alone in my sitting room. It's just you and me. Talk to me."
I shake my head again. I can't look at him.
"Al. Whatever you tell me stays right here between me and you. You had a nightmare, didn't you?"
I jerk my head up and look into his eyes. How could he know that? Nobody knows. Nobody.
"Gordo told me you looked like hell last time you came home from 5. I was on a four-day leave, remember?"
"Yeah," I whisper. "With Virg."
"By the time we got back, you seemed fine. But Gordon was worried about you. He said you didn't look like you'd slept a wink in the month you were up there."
"I didn't realize anyone had noticed."
"He notices everything, you know that. He just never lets on. Alan, tell me the nightmare. Come on. Like when we were kids, remember?"
Yes, I remember. I had nightmares as a child. I'd wake up screaming and Scott would be there instantly. Always. He'd hold me and shush me as I blubbered about this monster or that disaster. He'd rock me back and forth until I fell asleep. I can only nod at him.
"Al, just 'cause we're grown men doesn't mean we don't still have nightmares. Maybe if you tell me..."
I look into his eyes again. He's right. I know he's right. I wanna tell him. I know he'll keep it between us. And maybe...just maybe...it will help.
I take a deep breath.
"Scott...it's horrible," I begin, already feeling a weight lifting from my chest. "It always starts out the same. I'm alone on 5. It's deserted..."