The change was subtle, gradual and no-one noticed. Not even those who knew him best.
The increased time he spent in his quarters was accepted and respected, without a querying of why. Even Captain Aqua - who had become his new partner when Blue had to retire seemed to be reluctant to intrude on his solitude. Maybe they just didnt realize the toll that the prolonged fight against the Mysterons was taking on him.
The taunt that their retaliation would be slow but nevertheless effective, seemed to be coming true, as far as Scarlet was concerned, as he watched Spectrums capacity to meet and thwart their threats whittling away as they lost personnel, making him and his ability even more indispensable. That was a heavy burden to bear and one that was growing heavier. So much so that there were times when he really wished he could relinquish it.
Like this Hallows eve, when he had withdrawn to his quarters after the Mysterons had managed to pull off a partial victory that caused a lot of damage and some casualties.
As he sat in one of his chairs, the seemingly senselessness of the Mysterons war kindled a longing for some peace. Except these days, it was a scarce state for him and the knowledge that they were no closer to ending the war laid heavily in his heart. Its constant presences made it hard to find joy in anything and not having Rhapsody or Captain Blue around compounded his unease.
Feeling grieved, he recalled how both of them had been seriously injured; Rhapsody, a few years back when the Mysterons caused her Angel aircraft to cash, and Blue, blinded after getting doused in industrial strength sulphuric acid, not long afterwards. Their injuries resulted in them being unable to continue their commissions which of course meant, due to Spectrums bureaucratic mindset, that there was no place for them on Cloudbase. Hell, he missed them! Oh, he could still visit them; but seeing the consequences of the Mysterons attempts to kill them made him question the value of being indestructible. What was its use if he couldnt even keep safe those who meant so much to him?
Naturally, the loss of Blue from their ranks meant a new partner for him, a Captain Aqua. Their partnership hadnt started off well, as he had found it hard to accept and adjust to the fact that Blue was no longer going to be by his side. However, in the end, he and Aqua had become a good team and their friendship had grown. It wasnt the same as the one he had with Blue; yet Aqua did try to be as supportive as Blue had been. Nevertheless, Scarlet was keenly aware of the disparity.
He was tired mentally, physically and emotionally. The long conflict with the Mysterons had taken its toll on the others as well. With sadness, he reflected on the fact that Grey had been transferred to Koala base, as time and stress had caught up with his back. Magenta and Ochre were still around but like Grey, they were no longer rated for frontline work he was the last of the original captains still able to perform full field work. Which meant new officers, like Captain Aqua, replacing those who had gone, and new officers meant new dynamics and an increase in his responsibilities.
Weariness tugged at him but he didnt want to go to sleep. Perhaps he should get up and make a cup of tea? Maybe thatd make him feel better. With a sigh, he shifted in the chair. In the end the inertia he felt meant he stayed where he was.
His solitude was disturbed by the sound of knocking on his door, followed by the voice of Aqua asking if he wanted some company.
No. The last thing he wanted was company. So he gave no reply and soon he heard Aqua leave. That reminded him once more the difference between Blue and Aqua. Blue wouldnt have left so easily; he would have made sure to at least see him. Scarlet felt the absence of his friend and partner even more deeply.
The last of the original captains Well, not really, but the last still able to go out in the field of battle, to fulfil the duty he had accepted; albeit, there was no real choice for him not to. He was a Metcalfe and Metcalfe men didnt flinch from doing what was right and just, even if it was a hard road to slog. In some respects, duty was all he had now, as everything else in his life outside and even inside of Spectrum had been slowly eroded away. Duty there would always be the Mysterons to fight. At least, thats what it certainly felt like.
That thought weighed heavily on him, making it very difficult to find peace and positively.
Man, he was exhausted. His body felt like it was made of lead. His eyes were hot and blurry and he could feel the start of a headache. Sleep would resolve how he felt, but sleep was no longer the haven of peace that it had been in the past. His dreams werent the restful refuge they once were. They had become nightmares no more than that, torture as he found himself reliving and feeling the injuries and deaths he had endured over the years.
Thankfully, the phenomenon had only started to be really bad recently; however, Scarlet knew that if it carried on, the consequences could be very bad for Spectrum. Not to mention, for him as well.
The constant wear and tear on his emotions often caused him to wonder on one question: if he wasnt still needed to fight the Mysterons, would he still want to live? He wasnt so sure anymore. Nonetheless he could not ignore Spectrums need of him.
Jaded and disenchanted, he rubbed his face. He couldnt help but feel trapped. Trapped by fate, which had put him in this position. Trapped by the fact that there had seemed no other option for him, but to stay in Spectrum after his run-in with the Mysterons. Trapped by the responsibility placed on his shoulders, because he had become virtually indestructible.
Trapped, as much as he wished for it to be otherwise, for there seemed to be no end in sight, but most of all, because others needed him to carry on the same as he always did, even as things changed around him.
No let-up, no respite.
Something was going to give, unless he could figure out how to change how he felt. But could he change anything, or was he too lost in the tangle of his thoughts and emotions? Was there a way to change things?
With a sigh and a shake of his head, Scarlet contemplated his options. At first none offered themselves to him.
And then he grimaced as finally, a solution came to mind; it would at least restore his physical energy temporarily, but for the long term
No. This state of affairs wasnt going to be something he would be able to solve on his own. Reluctantly, he accepted the fact that he was going to have to talk to someone eventually. Doctor Fawn was still around, although he had given the supervision of Cloudbases sickbay to Doctor Tan.
Scarlet had the feeling that Fawn was only sticking around because he still hadnt been able to crack the secret of retrometabolism. However, Scarlet knew that Fawn really did care about him. It was just that, for part of him, it went against the grain to realize he couldnt deal with this problem alone. Also, he couldnt see what exactly the good doctor could do that would improve the situation. Was there anything that could be done, in any case? Could it end up making the situation worst, might the fact that he was causing Fawn concern, make the anxiety he already felt more intense? Not to mention the concern (for him and because of him) the others would have once they found out about it.
He just did not know.
Anyway, that was in the future. Right now, he needed to do something as the combination of exhaustion, disenchantment, grief and despair threatened to engulf him. Besides, he doubted he had the energy to make the trip to sickbay in order to see Doctor Fawn.
Recalling his previous thought, he summoned some energy and headed to the place where he might achieve a temporary respite.
Entering his bathroom, he removed his clothes and made his way to the shower. But it was not so he could use it, although he would later. No, it was because it was easy to clean.
Once inside the shower, he took a hold of his razor. It was a cut-throat razor, a gift from Rhapsody so long ago. He stifled a nervous chuckle, reflecting that she would probably disapprove of what he was about to do. But it was perfect for the task.
It was something that he knew would temporary provide a respite from his overwhelming feelings.
He sat down on the floor of the shower cubicle and took a steadying breath.
Then with a swift smooth movement, he ran the blade over his right wrist and with a quick transfer of the razor to his right hand, did the same to his left.
He still felt some melancholy, as his awareness started to leave him, because he knew that in a few hours things would not have really changed. But at least his physical energy would be restored.
A sad smile came to his lips as the colour that had come to represent him so well, flowed down his skin and into the drain.
I hereby state that I know that the copyrights and all the other legal mumbo-jumbo concerning Captain Scarlet and the rest of the gang belong to someone else and not me. This story has only been written for my own and others pleasure of reading. Therefore theres been no increase of my bank balance.
Now that thats aside.
A thank you once again to Colonel White (ah, Colonel Chris) for being the beta-reader of this story (no easy task with my writing) and Marion for her input. I would like also to express appreciation for Gerry and Sylvia Anderson (plus all the others who helped) for creating the world of Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. (Oh, and I take full responsibility for any missteaks I mean mistakes in this story.)
Any comments? Send an E-MAIL to the SPECTRUM HEADQUARTERS site