Originally penned under the nic: Murdock's Doc (I am seriously thrilled that I found some of my old stuff!)
Warnings: Anguish, Mental Illness, Suicidal thoughts and maybe a tiny bit of foul language.
Summary: Richter changes Murdock's medication hoping to work through his patient's fixation with trash bags, and the result is a mentally unstable patient suffering from depression, delusions, and thoughts of suicide. When Murdock escapes a desperate call is made to the team. Will they be able to save their friend from himself?
Disclaimer: I don't own them, I don't profit from them, I just love them.
Where were they? Why hadn't they come? It had been too long and he needed to escape, he needed to be alone. Not the aloneness that the VA offered, no there were too many people, too many screams, too much noise. The opening he needed to get away was coming. The only thing that gave him any comfort was the trash bag he held tightly in his hands.
"Denial, acceptance, and recovery are all a part of the process Captain." Doctor Richter said evenly as he watched his patient for signs of a response.
"Leave me alone!" Murdock shouted while shrinking into a tight ball beside the bench outside the VA hospital. Richter had suggested that they hold their therapy session outside and Murdock happily agreed since it met with his plans to escape.
Doctor Richter frowned and wrote a short note in his writing pad. The nurses had complained that the change Murdock's medication was having adverse reactions. Or, the Doctor thought, maybe he wasn't taking any medication at all. "Have you been taking your medication?"
"Which part of the process is that Doc?" Murdock said sarcastically as he griped his trash bag tightly. The hum of his chariot to freedom was coming closer, he could hear it.
"Murdock, why the games?" Richter said patiently. "You need the medications in order to maintain a proper chemical balance."
'Don't look at it or he'll know,' Murdock thought desperately as the sound of the bus came closer. "Or maybe they create an imbalance, right doc?"
"Murdock, we've gone through this several times. I thought we were past your paranoia about the medications," Richter said gently while silently impressed with Murdock's ability to self-diagnose.
'It's here!' Murdock screamed to himself silently. "Sorry doc, gotta run!" Murdock screamed out as he unfolded himself and took off at full speed towards the approaching bus.
Richter's mouth dropped open and it took him several minutes to comprehend what was happening. When he finally realized that Murdock was escaping, he screamed out for the orderlies to catch the Captain. Unfortunately, Murdock had managed to jump on the bus before the orderlies could organize themselves.
"Damn it," Richter cursed. In the past weeks they had made a medication change to go with the breakthrough in the Captain's therapy and until he worked through the feelings he was a threat to himself.
Murdock changed busses several times before finally ending his journey in the center of Los Angeles. He'd rather go to the beach, but Face had a habit of scamming a place on the beach and he didn't want to run into any of the team right now. It had been over a month since he had seen or heard from any of them and if they didn't want to see him then fine, he'd go out of his way to make sure that didn't happen.
Stepping from the bus, Murdock tucked his trash bag inside his jacket, stuffed his hands into his pockets, lowered his head and began to wander the streets. Unhappily, he found that although he avoided the stares of pity the feet he watched hurry out of his way. The scurrying feet moving to the left or to the right, or even worse the ones who hurried across the street told him everything he needed to know. 'Avoid me, ignore me, discard me, I don't care. I died long ago.' he thought to himself, numbed his feelings to the sight of the people moving away from him.
"Who's in denial," Murdock muttered aloud. The sound of his voice only caused those around him to move away further. 'You deny my existence by avoiding me and I accept that I didn't survive. Who's really crazy around here," the former Captain thought to himself. Quickly, he wiped a tear from his eye and continued his wandering.
Afternoon passed away into night and slowly the beautiful people disappeared, leaving the streets silent for the dregs of society to wallow in their misfortune. No, not misfortune, he quickly corrected himself. It was natures cruelty to allow so many to exist in the space between a real life and the peace of death. So many people and all alone in their misery. Murdock felt so alone at times it was hard to forget hadn't survived. Too often lately he had begun to feel as if he had been reincarnated as an umbrella, something that was tucked away in a closet and only brought out into the opening when needed. This time a tear escaped an eye and trailed silently down Murdock's face. At least he was dragged out of the closet occasionally, at least until recently. Hunching his shoulders and hanging his head lower, he reminded himself that he should feel grateful to have been at any use at all.
Back at the VA, Doctor Richter softly closed his door and locked it. Hours of searching had turned up nothing and he was at the point of desperation. Murdock had to be found, or at least he had to find out if the Captain was safe. Taking a deep breath, the Doctor quickly crossed the room and sat down at his desk. Reaching under his desk Richter pulled the business card that had been tucked away for emergencies. Without hesitation, he reached for the phone and dialed the seven numbers listed on the card.
"Lou's delivery, we pack em, we move em."
"Hannibal this is Doctor Richter." The Doctor said quickly, "I need to know if Murdock is with you."
There was a long pause on the phone and Colonel Smith dropped the gruffly disguised voice. "We stayed away like you asked Doctor, now tell me why the hell you're asking if Murdock is with us."
"Colonel, he's escaped and it's critical that we get him back before he hurts himself." Richter said urgently. "Where can I meet you?"
"Be at the back service entrance of the hospital in twenty minutes." Hannibal said sternly, "And Doctor if this is a trap . ."
"No!" Richter interrupted, "It's the truth. We have to find Murdock."
Something in a window caught his eyes and Murdock stopped for a closer look. A bookstore he distantly noticed as his eyes passed over the overwhelming display of the latest top sellers. Finally the Captain's eyes focused in on the book that had caught his attention. It had been the title that had caught his attention. "The Thunderbirds - Americas Finest." So long ago that had been his world. "How far the mighty falls," he said sarcastically aloud. Suddenly echo's of the past roared in his ears.
"Call it Thunderbird One!" Called out the pilot from the right wing.
"Roger that, vertical on three - One - Two - Three!"
"Noooo" Murdock groaned as he reached up to cover his ears. He didn't want reminders of what he lost. Turning, he ran blindly away from the cursed book and straight into the street. The desperate screech of wheels gripping the road in an attempt to stop filtered through the fingers covering his ears and on instinct Murdock jumped and rolled away from the oncoming truck. With the danger of hitting a pedestrian past, the truck continued on without stopping, leaving behind a sobbing man who was wishing he hadn't jumped to safety.
Whimpering beside a parked car, Murdock shivered violently, overwhelmed with a sense of loss for the chance to end his ghostly existence. How pathetic he silently scolded himself, loose a chance to end your misery and you save yourself based on a hope to be useful one last time. Struggling to his feet, Murdock weakly limped westward determined that he would not waste another chance for peace.
When the sleek black van arrived at the back door of the VA, Doctor Richter threw professionalism out the door and ran towards the van before it came to a stop. When the side door opened he pushed his way in. "Murdock took off this afternoon," he said between gasps for air.
"What happened," Hannibal said, turning around in the front seat enough to see the Doctors expressions. "When you called last month you said that Murdock had made a breakthrough and you needed time to work through it without him skipping out for a few days."
"You didn't even want us to stop in to visit, you didn't want us to distract him." Face said accusingly.
Richter took two deep breaths. He was almost too afraid to tell them the rest, but it was too important to keep to himself. "His medication was changed a few days after I spoke with you. It was supposed to help him get past the depression and inhibitions that normally go along with a breakthrough of this magnitude."
"Whachu talkin about." BA shouted gruffly from the drivers seat. "What you do to the fool?"
Richter sighed, "I'm sure you are aware of Murdock's fixation with trash bags." When all three nodded, Richter continued. "And I am also sure that you are aware that what I am about to tell you is confidential patient doctor information." Again the three men nodded, each uncharacteristically silent. The Doctors voice lowered, as someone would when telling ghost stories around a camp fire. "Murdock spent a great deal of time flying medivac flights when he wasn't occupied fulfilling missions for your team."
"We know that sucka, get to da point." BA said finally unable to take the suspense.
"He carried more than his share of body bags." Richter said quickly in order to avoid the wrath of the obviously angry sergeant. "Several times he had to help put bodies into the bags after a wounded soldier didn't survive the trip from the field. One incident that affected him deeply was the sudden revival of a soldier that he had helped to place in a body bag."
"Oh my God," Face said in a whisper as he visibly paled.
"Just as Murdock was zipping up the bag a bloody hand shot out and grabbed his wrist." Richter said lowering his voice as he remembered Murdock trembling as he described the incident. "The soldiers last words were 'no trash bags for survivors'. Over time, the incident began to eat away at him and when he began to feel as if he hadn't survived the terrors of war the need for trash bags developed. It's a rather complicated association and . . . "
"We understand Doctor," Hannibal said softly as he turned to Peck, "Face, do you have any idea where he would go?"
"He usually goes to my apartment when he escapes on his own." Face said.
"Right, BA . . " Hannibal said urgently.
"On my way!" BA shouted.
Businesses gave way to parks and homes as Murdock wandered west without thinking. For the first time in hours Murdock lifted his head as he caught the faint aroma of salt in the air. "You still there trashy?" Murdock whispered as he peeked inside his jacket. "We gonna be together soon. I promise."
Murdock limped on, suddenly anxious to reach the beach and the water beyond. He could hear the waves calling him, whispering promises of freedom. Behind him screams chased him, growing louder with each step until he was forced to run in fear of being caught in the torment of their agony. 'I died! Let me rest in peace!' Murdock silently screamed as he raced towards the sound of waves in the distance.
To the right and left he saw rows and rows of body bags. Each moved as if the occupants were struggling to escape their fate. "You're dead!" Murdock shouted accusingly, "Your dead," he whimpered. Tears streamed down his face and the images projected by his mind wavered. Desperately Murdock wiped the tears away with the sleeve of his jacket.
Body bags envisioned on both sides of the path Murdock ran along shivered violently. Suddenly holes opened in the bags and rows and rows of rotting arms burst through the holes and reached out accusingly. Murdock eyes grew wide and he screamed in terror. One hand reached out and grabbed a shoe and the Captain fell hard. Still screaming Murdock urgently kicked off the shoe and scrambled to his feet at a run.
Slowly traveling along the ocean, three members of the A-Team searched the shoreline for their missing friend after failing to find him at Face's apartment. "There he is!" Hannibal shouted while pointing at a man running across the street.
B.A. slammed on the brakes, threw the van into park and was out the door in less than a heart beat. Hannibal followed in the next heart beat.
"Be careful!" Richter called out as Face pushed past him and followed his friends in pursuit of their friend. "He won't recognize you!"
Pumping his arms to build speed like a locomotive, B.A. chased his screaming friend across the beach. "Stop fool!" he called out as he ran. When he neared to a few feet behind Murdock, B.A. launched himself in the air, catching the crazed man's shoe. When they both tumbled to a stop, the bulky black man looked up and was startled by the raw fear blazing in his friends eyes. "Hannibal!" B.A. called out, realizing that he would need help to contain the pilot. Before help could arrive, the pilot was up and running again and B.A. was left holding a shoe.
An instant later, the sergeant stumbled to his feet as Hannibal and Face flew past him. Still holding Murdock's shoe, BA watched his team mates launch themselves into an airborne tackle. The pitch of Murdock's scream grew madly hysterical and he began to buck the weights holding him down.
"Knock him out," Hannibal grunted as he fought to hold his pilot down.
Face grunted in return, "I got my hands full Colonel, my God I didn't know Murdock was this strong."
Hannibal looked up and saw B.A. hurrying Doctor Richter along. "Doc, what can we do?" The Colonel asked, clearly upset.
Puffing, Doctor Richter dropped down on his knees and pulled open his bag. "Sedative." Richter gasped. "Gimme a second," he added as he pulled out a syringe and a small bottle with clear fluid. Skillfully Richter inserted the needle into the bottle and pulled the plunger to draw the medication into the syringe. A second later, Richter leaned down and inserted the needle into Murdock's arm. "He should settle down shortly."
Seconds passed and slowly the struggles weakened, and the screams died into whimpers for trash bags. Richter closely monitored his patient's condition, checking his pulse and his pupil reaction several times before finally sitting back. "You can let go now, he's out," he said in relief.
Suddenly, Doctor Richter found himself on his toes being held up by his collar. "What you do to him!" B.A. demanded.
Sitting back in the sand, Hannibal looked up, unsympathetic to the doctor's plight. "I think that's a fair question Doctor."
"I told you," Richter said pulling at his collar, "His medication was changed. There was no way to predict that he would have an adverse reaction this severe."
Face, who had been attempting to sooth his whimpering friend looked up. "If you hadn't kept us away we might have been able to see the changes." He snapped out, then regretted his harsh words as Murdock whimpered fearfully. "Shuuuush, it's okay Murdock. We're not going to let anything hurt you."
B.A. shook Richter. "He gonna be like this from now on?" Growling, he added, "If he is you dead."
"We need to get him back to the hospital." Richter said with more authority than he felt. "He'll need to be monitored and kept sedated while the effects wear off."
"B.A. let the Doctor go," Hannibal said coldly. "We'll have more time to talk once Murdock is taken care of."
With one last growl, B.A. roughly release Richter. "You remember what I said sucka."
Three days later Richter stepped into Captain Murdock's room and found his patient staring into the morning light filtering through the window. The Doctor felt his eyes water when Murdock turned to the sound of the door. "Hi Doc," Murdock whispered hoarsely.
Richter smiled and crossed the distance to the Captain's bedside. "How are you feeling HM?"
"A little tied down," the Captain whispered as he looked up at the Doctor silently pleading to be released. In short order, Richter released the restraints. "What happened doc, did I wack out or something?"
Patting Murdock's shoulder gently, Richter sat down on the bed. "No, nothing like that. You had an adverse reaction to your new medication."
"Oh," Murdock said weakly as he rolled over on his side to get comfortable. "Guess that's why I'm so tired."
"Get some rest H.M." Richter said. "I'll come back and check on you later."
"Thanks doc," Murdock said with a peaceful yawn.
Closing his eyes, Richter released a sigh of relief not only for his patient, but for himself as well. When it came to Captain H.M. Murdock, adverse reactions to medication was dangerous to both the patient and the doctor.