Dementia

Disclaimer: Nothing UFO is mine. Dagnabit.

Synopsis: There are people who think redeeming Mary is not possible. I have, in the past, tried to prove them wrong. Sometimes, even dragon blows the call. g

Time: Somewhere between now and then

Place: Not where you think it is.

Dementia: Day One

The trim blonde woman smiled as she lowered the high-powered rifle. The body of the silhouette at the end of the firing range was practically obliterated. She set the rifle down, picked up the five round shot gun, took careful aim at the face and let fly with five rounds of 00 buckshot. The Styrofoam form flew apart under the impacts.

She smiled in satisfaction and activated the mechanism that would bring the form, what was left of it, forward. She tripped the lever that would drop the last bits and allow her to set another target. She picked up the form, a manic grin stretching her lips into a pain filled grimace. She gazed into the distance-focused eyes of her target.

"Do you have any idea how much I hate you, darling?" she asked conversationally as she set the target. "Do you? No? I suppose not." She stood there staring up at the face of her tormenter, the man she hated more than anything on this earth. Platinum blonde hair combed into a precise helmet framed the face she knew so well. The body was encased in that stupid Nehru cut suit that suited him better than more modern ones would.

She giggled, a little hysterically. The suit suited him. She chuckled, then broke into laughter until her sides began to ache. She sobered abruptly. It was time to play "kill the ex-husband" again. She picked up an 8-inch butcher style knife, the blade shimmering wickedly under the lights.

She drew it across the photo, neatly slicing it on a diagonal from hip to just below the armpit. She liked the sound of it passing through the paper and foam, so easily. She looked up at his face again, a dreamy look softening her features. God, that face, those eyes, those lips - once those lips had been hers. But he didn't love her, didn't love her at all.

Rage surfaced in a rush.

"Why?" she screamed at the inanimate form, slashing at it, stabbing it in a frenzy of frustration. "Why couldn't you love me? Why? What did I do? Why did you leave? Why did you take Johnny from me? Why? I loved you! I would have killed for you! All I wanted was for you to love me! Just me! Why couldn't you do that? Why couldn't you love me? Why? Why? Why?"

With each "why" her voice raised until it was an incomprehensible shriek, the photo enhanced form reduced to tatters and specks under her assault. She sank to the floor muttering and crying, tears leaving black streaks of mascara down her face.

A muffled sound caught her attention. She looked around. Oh, yes. One last thing to take care of here and she could get on to the big production. She wiped her face, frowning at the black on her fingers. Oh, no. She must look a sight. She couldn't finish up here looking like a hag, or a fool. No, she must look beautiful.

She walked out of the room past the man bound and gagged on the weight bench. He struggled, imploring sounds issuing from behind the gag. A few moments later, she returned, her hair falling in loose curls around her shoulders, her makeup perfect, a smile pasted on her lips that did nothing to warm her cold, cold blue eyes.

She leaned over the man on the weight bench and placed a gentle kiss on his forehead. "I'm sorry," she whispered. "I know, you love me, you've always loved me. But you're not my knight in shining armor. He is. He will always be. I will always love him," she said sweetly as she swept the razor edge of her knife across his throat, severing both jugular and carotid as well as his esophagus.

She watched as he died, a soft sighing sound escaping from the throat, bright red blood pumping out to spray the floor and the nearby wall. She frowned. It was taking longer than she expected for the light to go out of his eyes. That wasn't right. She neatly punctured each of the soft brown orbs to clear his sight of her, then plunged the butcher knife into his belly and left it there.

"I'm going out for a while, George. I'm not sure when I'll be back. Don't wait up," she called over her shoulder as she left the room, frugally turning the lights out after her.

Dementia: Day Two

Keith Ford, tired after an extended period of 12-hour shifts, frowned at the knock at the door. He tried to focus on his watch, only to discover it wasn't on his wrist. Oh, of course not, he was just out of the shower. Damn, he did need sleep.

The knock came again, a little impatient sounding this time.

He padded bare foot across his junk food carton bestrewn living room, hitched the towel a bit more securely around his waist and opened the door. A blonde woman of middle years stood on the other side of the door, her bright look turning to a slight frown.

"Oh. You're older than I thought. Oh well."

He tried to slam the door, bolt away from the woman and the sawed off shotgun she pulled from behind her. The shot caught him in the side, ripping through his skin, sending electric surges of pain through him as he fell to the floor. He tried to crawl away, scramble to his feet, get away from this nutcase.

The butt of the gun connected solidly with the back of his head. Darkness ensued, with sound. The door was closed and locked, the bolt thrown, the chain put on and it sounded like she set the security system while she was at it.

A boot or shoe caught him in the side and flipped him onto his back. His head thumped the floor sending flashes of light through the darkness. Oh hell. He was blind. He tried to move his arms, to shift away - he hoped it was a way.

A warm body straddled him, soft cloth covering his nakedness. She lay down on him, smacking his hands away as he tried to grab her. She stared into his eyes. The pupils were dilated, making his eyes black instead of brown. She could see her reflection in the depths.

"Hmm. You're still alive. Good," she said brightly. She got up, grabbed his ankles and dragged him into the bedroom. She dropped his feet to the floor, scowling at the room. "Stupid boy. This room is a mess. What did I tell you about keeping your room tidy?"

He could hear her stomping around his room, apparently tidying things up. His side burned. He gingerly checked the damage with his opposite side hand. It didn't feel good, but he wasn't gurgling as he breathed. He froze as she stopped moving.

"Aw, did widdle Keithy-weethy huwt hissef? Let Mommy look. Oh! It's bleeding! We'd better clean that."

He smelled the alcohol just before it hit. He screamed. She slapped him. She poured more alcohol into his wounds. He screamed again. She rocked his head with a backhanded hit. The blind eyes rolled back in his head and he passed out.

Dark. Light. Dark. Light. Keith realized he must be blinking. Or the nutcase who shot him was opening and closing his eyelids for him. He shuddered. The movement made him aware of being restrained. He shifted his head. He smelled ammonia. What the?

"Ah! No moving until Mommy says you can." The smack to his head that accompanied the words was playful.

"Mommy?" he asked carefully.

"Yes, darling," came the bright answer.

"What are we doing, Mommy?"

"Why fixing your hair, dearest. Stupid George thought if he darkened your hair, everyone would think you were his. But you're not. You're Mommy's. And HIS." The last was ground through perfect teeth in a perfect smile.

Keith felt cold. Ice slid through his veins. He knew who the woman was. Carefully, he pulled against the wrist and ankle restraints that held him to his bed. They were solid. He could feel sheepskin lining. He knew the kind of cuffs that restrained him. With a sinking feeling, he wondered how long he'd been unconscious. Would anyone notice he wasn't back on duty? Was it time to go back?

She carefully washed the bleaching compound out of his hair, managing not to get the bed wet, or any of the dye into his still sightless eyes. She blew his hair dry, combing it precisely. She frowned. It wasn't quite the pale gold she wanted. She read the instructions again and sighed. No, it wasn't good to do it again immediately. It would have to do.

She smiled at him as she pulled a straight razor out of her purse. "You're such a good boy. Maybe he'll get it right this time. But I doubt it," she said with a sigh as she laid his wrists open with the edge off the razor.

He heard her walk lightly into the living room and pick up the phone receiver. She dialed quickly and waited. "Miss Ealand, please. Yes, I'll hold." She hummed to herself as she waited. "Miss Ealand? This is just the first," she said clearly, dropped the receiver to the ground and let herself out of Ford's apartment.

"Hello? Hello?" Miss Ealand, Edward Straker's very competent secretary, gazed at the phone, knowing there was an open line. She heard a door open and close. Setting the hand set down carefully, she picked up another one and called security. "This is Miss Ealand. I have an open line on Line One. I need an immediate trace."

Five minutes later, Ed Straker answered his intercom. "Yes, Miss Ealand?"

"Ford's in trouble, sir. I've alerted security. There's a team on the way over to his place."

"What kind of trouble?"

"I'm not sure. A woman called. I didn't recognize the voice. She knew my name. She said "This is the first one.", then she dropped the receiver and left the room. I heard a door open and close, then silence."

Alec Freeman, entering Straker's office, noted the frown on his commanding officer's face. "Problem?"

"Something up at Ford's. We'll hope it's a joke."

Keith could feel the blood easing out of his wrists, feel the wet stains against his legs. He was cold, so cold. He was dying and he knew it. But why? Why had she chosen him? What could she possibly hope to gain?

He would never know the answers.

Paul Foster, joining the security detail from another direction, threw discretion to the winds and kicked in Ford's door. He would find out later that it wasn't locked. He smelled blood as the door slammed inward. Caution made him check the living room before he entered. Blood spatters, blood pooled on the floor, not a good sign.

Gun in hand, he eased around the blood on the floor. Silence. "Keith?" he called. More silence. He checked the kitchen. It looked like a bachelor kitchen with day old dishes and a full trash can. He eased up to the bedroom door. The door stood ajar, he pushed it in and followed, gun at the ready. He almost lost it.

"Medical!" he bellowed, but he knew from the casual angle of the head that Keith wasn't with them. Straker was going to be livid.

Hours later, Ed Straker leafed through reports and photos in glorious, hideous color. He had read through reports of alien mutilations that made this look tame. The slashed wrists looked the worst, but the blood seepage from there had not killed him. Double-ought buckshot, entering from the side, had nicked the renal artery. Between the damage to his side and the blunt trauma to his head, it was medical opinion that he was unaware of the internal bleeding. No one had any ideas to offer on why someone had bleached Ford's hair that incredibly pale lemon color and taken such pains to groom it as well.

Staring at the photo, Straker knew. Johnny's hair had been a little paler, but Mary had kept it combed just like that. But Mary? That was insane.

"Find out where Mary Rutland and her husband are."

"Yes, sir."

Alec came in as the security man went out. He looked shaken. For once, he abstained from pouring himself a drink and just sat down. His dark eyes met Straker's gaze looking for answers. He looked old, drained.

"Why Ford?" he asked the question everyone wanted answered.

Straker leaned back, rubbed his tired eyes, and sagged. "I don't know. I just don't know."

Not far away, within sight of Harlington-Straker Studios gleaming glass and steel facade, the bright blonde was looking at her list of things to do. "Keith Ford. Bleach hair. Slash wrists. Done." She marked a neat line through Keith's name. She looked at the next item. "Nina Barry. Damn. Being elusive. Gay Ellis." She picked up her binoculars and took a look at the parking lot. Where was the car Miss Ellis drove? Ah, there it was. And the lovely Miss Ellis was just getting into it. Good. She would give the woman time to get home, comfortable, settled in. She put the cap on her pen, closed her organizer and turned on the telly.

"Oh, goody. Re-runs." She settled in to watch one of her favorite soap operas.

Day Three.

Gay Ellis opened her eyes with a sense that something was wrong. Something wet fell across her mouth and nose. The scent was familiar. Unfortunately, holding breath out is much harder than holding it in. She struck out at the arm attached to the hand holding the cloth.

A second hand grabbed her hair and yanked hard. She fought the urge to gasp at the sudden pain of her hair being yanked out by the roots. She bucked under the sheet and blanket trapping her legs. Another handful of hair succumbed to the hand yanking at it.

She made a fist and lashed out at the arm, catching her assailant in the elbow. The arm bent, releasing some of the pressure. Gay came up and threw herself sideways, carrying the cloth on her face with her. She wiped it away and opened her eyes, shaking her head to clear it of the fumes.

Too late. She heard the report of the shot gun as she felt the first pellets break her skin and embed in her flesh. She doubled over to protect herself. A second round splashed the side of her face, her shoulder and her left arm. She barely heard the third round go off.

The blonde woman stood there looking calmly down at the bleeding mass of raw meat that had been her rival. She reached down and dragged Gay's head up by the hair. The dark haired woman was barely conscious. "Steal my husband, will you? Wonder what he'll think of you now, pretty girl. Oh, look, I missed a spot." Sharp fingernails tore at her untouched right cheek. "Much better." She let go, allowing Gay's head to hit the floor with a wet thunk.

Dimly, Gay tried to react to the shrieking voice in her head telling her to move. She reached out with a barely bloody hand, questing for something, anything - a purchase on the floor to drag herself away, a weapon - crunch. The heel of her attacker's shoe came down on the back of her hand, gouging flesh, dislodging tendons, crushing the fine bones of her long fingers.

"No. You're not getting away. Not at all. Harlot."

Gay lost her battle to stay conscious.

Miss Ealand's face lost color as she heard the voice again.

"Number Two." The bright voice told her.

"No, wait." The phone receiver hit the floor with a solid thunk. She heard the quick tap of heels across a floor and a door opening and closing. With a sinking feeling she called security for a line trace.

She informed security and Straker within seconds of each other. The call came from Gay Ellis' London flat.

Foster didn't bother with the caution portion of entering Gay's flat. He turned the door knob and walked in. A low moan from the bedroom told him Gay was still alive. The sight that met his eyes as he walked into the bedroom set his stomach roiling. Gay was sitting up against the far wall, her hair and nightgown stapled to the wall to keep her up. Her face, what was left of it, was painted bright clown colors mixed with blood.

He stood by and watched as medical personnel cut away material and hair to release her. His look asked about her chances. The response was non-committal. They'd know more when they got her back to medical.

Straker arrived as they were loading Gay into the ambulance. He stopped them, took a good look at what had been done and nodded. He walked into the building and went up to Gay's flat where Paul was fighting nausea as the security team went over the place with the proverbial fine tooth comb.

"Paul."

"Security system was circumvented. Job looks pro."

Straker frowned. Professional? Where the hell would Mary have learned to break into a security system. "Pro. Great."

Paul cocked an eyebrow upward in inquiry. He was relieved to have something besides the smell of blood and fear to concentrate on.

Straker met the look. "We know who killed Ford."

"Who?" Paul Foster wanted to get his hands on the animal who had done this and wanted it very badly.

"Mary Rutland." Straker's face was unreadable.

Paul felt his lower jaw drop. There simply wasn't anything he could do about it. "Mary -? That's crazy."

"So it would seem." He handed Paul a file.

Paul looked wary as he opened it. There were several black and white 8x10 crime scene photos. "Who's the victim?"

"George Rutland. Her husband."

Paul looked through the other photos, including those showing the remains of what looked like a life size photo of his boss chopped to bits. "I'll get on it." Paul started to move past his commander and stopped. "Uhm - any sign of - alien involvement?" he asked carefully.

"None. Find her. Before she gets to anyone else."

Paul was in his car before he let the last sentence sink in. His last thought as he turned the key in the ignition was to question how she was finding people in the first place. Then he and his car became a ball of fire and there were no more questions.

Mary clapped her hands gleefully, bruising her fingers on the binoculars she held in one hand. She made a face, then took a last look at the blaze claiming Paul Foster's life.

"Three down, bunches to go," she chortled to herself.

Day Four

Alec and Straker looked at each other across Staker's normally immaculate desk. They both looked tired. Security had been stepped up, key personnel moved into SHADO HQ until Mary could be found.

"Any word on Gay, yet?"

Straker was silent, then shook his head. As slim built as the youthful part time commander of Moonbase was, the double-ought buckshot had missed her internal organs, missed the renal artery, missed any immediately life threatening damage.

On the other hand, the three shots had ravaged her flesh creating damage only a very fine plastic surgeon could remedy, and that was only an 80% probability. The shot had penetrated the skull on the one side of her head. Shock and pain had taken their toll on her. For now, medical was keeping her sedated until an assessment of restoration possibilities were made. Give her very stable mental evaluation, Gay Ellis could make a full recovery. Then again, taking a look in the mirror could just destroy that evaluation after this experience.

"Mary may have succeeded in doing what the aliens couldn't."

Alec frowned at that.

"She seems bent on destroying us."

"Wasn't Ellis in one of the photographs?" Alec asked softly, referring to some incriminating shots taken of Straker and a number of the female SHADO recruits several years earlier.

"Yes."

"Barry's on the moon. So's Joan. They're safe enough for now. Who else would she hate? And why kill Paul? He wasn't even with us back then."

"Who knows. Any woman who could kill the way she has, any human who could do so, isn't thinking rationally."

Alec leaned back again and felt old. So very old.

Miss Ealand looked up for the fiftieth time. She told herself to stop that and get on with her work. Harlington-Straker's offices were quite secure. And with security tightened, she would use one of the transient rooms downstairs for the night until this was over.

The phone rang, she answered it and spoke to the caller for a moment. As she hung up, she became aware of a noise. She looked up. In the doorway was a woman with dark hair wearing a dark trenchcoat over worn jeans and scuffed boots. There was a flower arrangement in her hands and she was frowning at the card.

"Lookin' fer a - Ms. Eee-land," an atrocious low class accent told her. The voice was nasal. "Know where I kin find her?"

"I'm Ealand." She smiled at the roses. How thoughtful. A flicker of worry dashed across the back of her brain as the woman brought them into the office and set the vase down on the corner of the desk. "Even got ya tha water ta go wit' 'em. See." She held up a bottle of drinking water.

A vicious shove pushed the electric typewriter on the desk onto Miss Ealand's lap. Before she could do more than move back a little, the water was thrown out of the bottle. Electricity arced, shocking the secretary and slamming her back against the wall. She fell out of the chair, the typewriter falling to the floor beside her.

Her body seemed to hum with the shock she'd received. She was pushing herself up, her voice somehow stuck in her throat, when a shower of water and roses hit her. The typewriter sparked and smoked as Miss Ealand jerked again in the grip of a deadly electrical current.

A dark wig dropped onto the floor next to the woman. "That's for defending him, you bloody whore."

Mary swept a red wig onto her head, pulled off the dark coat, leaving it on the desk, and walked out as she drew on a pair of red framed sunglasses.

Harlington-Straker shut down like a prison just moments after Mary walked out the front door. She was gone before security hit the parking lot. She laughed as she drove, tossing the red wig out the window of the fast moving little car. He was paying, oh, how he was paying.

A short while later, Alec and Straker had a monumental argument.

"Dammit, Ed. It's what she wants!"

"Is it? Then let her have it. She's already proven that insanity will get her where even aliens can't manage to go."

"She hasn't been in Headquarters."

"It's only a matter of time," Straker countered. He ran a hand over his face. He felt tired, drained. "She's striking at those closest to me. I don't want your blood on my head next, Alec. If I don't try to find her - We can't just vanish."

"Then let me lure her out."

"No." Straker was adamant. He'd lost Ford and Foster, the two most acceptable candidates for his successor as Commander of SHADO. The only woman he could consider for the position was minus half her face. His secretary, a woman who had been his left hand as Alec was his right for far too long, lay on a slab in the morgue. He was not going to lose Alec to this vengeance.

"All right. Go then. Get yourself killed."

Straker's troubled gaze met Alec's eyes. "Do you really think she'd go that far?"

"Ed, she's nuts." The right cross caught Straker by surprise. He went down heavily. A second blow put him all the way out. "Sorry, Ed. I can't let you do it."

Straker came to consciousness in the infirmary. Doug Jackson, the Eastern European accented psychiatrist and some time head of security made a few checks and agreed that Straker could go.

There was only one question. Where the hell would Alec go to draw out Mary if she was as insane as she seemed to be? Where indeed?

Day Six

Alec came back to consciousness slowly. He was cold. He was very cold. He cracked an eyelid, surveyed his slightly furry chest and closed his eyes again. Naked. Not a good sign. He tried to move his arms and legs. Not happening. He tried turning his head. Also not happening.

A soft hand touched his knee. Cool fingers trailed their way up his leg, the side of his him, across his chest. He opened his eyes curiously. Oh, Hell. He closed them again. Mary didn't look like a clown. She looked like a very, very well kept up middle aged woman with a very, very mad gleam in her pale eyes. He struggled against his restraints.

"Oh, Alec. How silly. You know you don't really want to get away from me. You want to wait around and see what Ed does when he finds you."

"Will he?" He nearly bit his tongue for having taken the bait.

"Of course, he will. Most of you. A lot of you." She ran a hand over him again, this time including his genitals. He fought not to cringe away from her hand. "Oh, my. And I thought you hated me." She spent a few minutes gauging his reaction to her touch.

He told himself it was just a physiological response, nothing he could help. Nothing he could stop. He was surprised when she straddled him. He was very surprised when she - He didn't want to think about it. He prayed Straker didn't show in the middle of this. Really prayed that - Damn but this was embarrassing.

The knife, on the other hand, was frightening. Alec did not like feeling helpless and the glint in Mary's pale eyes was not reassuring. He suppressed a gulp and a shiver as he realized the knife she held was a duplicate of that the police found buried in her late husband. She was honing the edge with a single minded intensity he found disturbing. Correction, terrifying. Where the hell were the aliens when you needed them.

The door to the room opened. Mary looked up curiously. Alec tried to twist his head to look, but couldn't get any maneuvering room.

Mary smiled. "Ed. How good of you to join us. You know Alec, don't you?"

"We've met."

"Oh, good." She stood up, the skirt of her lace trimmed, sheer silk nightgown slid down her long pale legs. She ran a hand possessively over Alec. "We've been naughty," she told Ed. "But you know all about naughty, don't you, Edward, dearest." The final word was pure venom as she threw herself at him, slashing with the knife as she came.

"Don't you? Don't you?" she screeched. "You know all about not loving me! Bedding all those others! I hate you! I hate you! I hate you!" She slashed and slashed and stabbed and stabbed until she was exhausted. She slid down him, sobbing, muttering, demanding to know why he couldn't love her, why?

She leaned against his legs feeling sorry for herself. "Why? Why couldn't you love me? What did I do wrong? What? Why did you take Johnny away from me? Couldn't you leave me that much? Just that much? Just that little bit? -"

"How long has she been this way?" Ed asked the doctor next to him. He couldn't tear his eyes away from the reinforced glass window in the door separating him from his ex-wife.

The doctor consulted his notes. "About three weeks. It took some time to straighten things out, Mr. Straker."

"Diagnosis?"

"Severe depression. Hallucinations. Internally psychotic episodes."

Straker blinked. "Internally -"

"She believes she killed her husband - Mr. George Rutland. She has gone through the motions, mentally, of destroying a number of people, none of whom seem directly connected to her." The doctor sounded puzzled.

"Did she?

"Did she what?"

"Kill Rutland?"

"No. Oh, no. We believe that may be the shock that sent her over the edge."

"Someone else killed him?"

The doctor frowned. This man should not be taking this so calmly, should he? "No. Mr. Rutland suffered a massive coronary. According to autopsy, he had little or no warning and was dead before he felt much of anything. He was found on the weight bench in a small workout room."

"And?"

This was the part the doctor didn't care for, but the man wanted the information. "It looks as though Mrs. Rutland was out shopping, came home, found him dead and lost it, so to speak. He had been dead several days when the police investigated. He did not show up to work. The phone was unanswered. They found her crouching next to the wall near him, talking to him. There was a good sized butcher knife stuck in his stomach. Report says it was inserted long after he was dead. It took a while to find out who you and "Johnny" were -"

"Our son."

"So I understand. Apparently she blames you for the boy's death."

That got a silent nod.

"Our biggest problem is her family seems to be gone. There's a sister in the States somewhere, but we haven't managed to locate her yet. You seem to be the closest thing to - family - we can locate here."

Another silent nod. As he watched, Mary pulled herself together. She sat up, looked around, ran her hands through her hair. She caught sight of his face in the window. She shrank back against the padded walls and hid her face in her hands, shaking her head in some sort of denial.

"I'll take full responsibility for her, doctor."

"We really weren't -"

The cold, hard blue eyes looked around at the doctor. "I'm aware of what you were asking, doctor. I will take responsibility for her."

"Thank you."

A few weeks later, Mary was calm enough to receive visitors. Her eyes widened at Ed's entrance. He took a seat opposite her.

"Mary," he said quietly.

"Ed. I - I - don't think I understand."

"You had a breakdown. You know that?"

She nodded brightly. "I know. I - I killed George and fell apart." She frowned. "No. Wait. I - I -"

"You didn't kill George."

"I did't?"

"You didn't."

"But he died all the same." She fastened her eyes on him. "But you didn't You wouldn't die. I sliced and sliced and cut and cut - and you - wouldn't - die!" She yelled. She tried to throw herself at him, but the restraints kept her in her seat. She struggled against the cuffs. "No! George is dead. Johnny is dead. You have to be dead."

"And then who?"

Her head snapped up. He sounded tired. So very tired. He looked tired, too. Tired and drawn. He didn't look very good at all. She considerd his question. If Johnny was dead and George was dead and Ed was dead ... then there wasn't anyone else except - her, was there. She frowned. "Me," she answered him. "But, I don't want to be dead. I don't want you dead. Or George. Or Johnny. But they are ..." Her face crumpled. "I don't want anyone to be dead," she wailed. "I don't want to be alone!"

After the interview, he spoke with the Doctor again. Yes, there was some hope that they could help her. It would take time, but she might manage to climb out of the abyss she'd fallen into. He wondered if the man before him wasn't trapped in an abyss of his own.