London, December 2128
In the 80 years since the brief British Civil War had laid large parts of central London to waste, much of the area had been carefully reconstructed and regenerated, until many of the famous landmarks looked as if they’d never suffered aerial bombardment. In the Strand, the Savoyard Palace Hotel had been painstakingly built on the old site of John of Gaunt’s palace and like its namesake it was justly famous for its opulence and comfort. For almost 240 years the hotels on this site had served the great and the good, and were still doing so with so much success that there was a waiting list to take afternoon tea in the public tearoom.
Steven Powell, Professor Emeritus at the New England Institute of Technology’s Svenson School of Advanced Science and Mathematics, had long planned this visit and nothing had been left to chance. He had tried to anticipate every potential circumstance and make contingencies for every possibility; but now that he was here and the reason for his visit was fast approaching, he felt nervous.
He glanced at himself in the mirror by his bedroom door and nodded. He was still an upright, sprightly man and despite his white hair, he carried his seventy years lightly. He adjusted his tie nervously and straightened the waistcoat of his three-piece suit. He couldn’t recall feeling this edgy since the first time he had presented a paper at the World Government’s annual Scientific Symposium.
He steeled himself and left the room, taking the lift down to the ground floor, where he crossed the foyer to the tearoom. Glancing at the clock, he saw there was about 10 minutes until the appointed time for the meeting, but he was making sure he wouldn’t be late. He wanted to get comfortable and try to feel at ease before his guest arrived.
The Maître d’ recognised him and welcomed him with a gracious inclination of his sleek head.
“I have a table booked,” Powell said, his voice sounding shaky to his own ears, although the Maître d’ showed no reaction. “I’m expecting a guest at half past.” He gave his name and room number and the man smiled.
“Of course, Professor; please follow me. We have reserved a table that meets your requirements; you should not be interrupted or overheard.”
The table was close to the wall with a clear view of the rest of the room and the entrance. He smiled in satisfaction – he knew the discretion would be appreciated and he wanted this to go well. He sat down, leaving vacant the chair that would allow his guest to keep the room under an unobtrusive surveillance. Asking the hovering waiter to bring him a glass of water, he explained he would order in full in due course.
Glancing at his watch again, he sipped the chilled water and tried to calm his nerves.
Colonel Scarlet had changed out of his uniform in a cubicle at the London Headquarters of the Spectrum Organisation. The brief for the meeting stated that it was to be in a public place and was ‘covert’ to the point that the contact did not want to draw attention to himself, or to Spectrum. He dressed smartly, aware that the Savoyard Palace was one of the few places that still had a dress code.
It was good to be out of uniform; the year had been busy and he had not had time for a break since the early spring. As usual, he had gone to Winchester to enjoy the daffodils and the spring lambs and had walked in the countryside from dawn to dusk. He always felt reinvigorated by the beauty of his childhood home and had – on the Sunday – watched the Metcalfe family going about their business and walking to the local church, just as he had walked with his parents and, later, his family in previous years. He had even slipped into the back of the church for the service, leaving just before the end without attracting attention.
He glanced down for the final time at the personal information about his contact on his official scanner. The Professor was known to Spectrum Intelligence, had done research for them and was considered a ‘sound’ ally. He had won many academic prizes and had a list of important papers and publications to his name. American, orphaned as a teenager, married, three sons. He stared at the face, memorising it for the meeting: it seemed vaguely familiar, so he conjectured that he might have met the man before. Maybe at some conference or other where Spectrum had provided the security? He couldn’t recall when or where though. Still ruminating, he slipped a miniaturised Mysteron detector into his jacket pocket – there was no point taking risks.
It wasn’t that far from the HQ to the Strand, so pulling on a black woollen coat, he set out to walk through the dark, wet and busy streets. He liked London – he always had done – and many of the streets and squares had personal memories attached to them. Trafalgar Square, with its traditional Christmas tree – a gift from the people of Norway – and decorations, was where he had welcomed in the New Year with friends and family so many times. For a brief moment he felt a surge of sadness for those now lost to him forever. He quickened his pace and focused on the forthcoming meeting.
What could Steven Powell want? SI had not been able to give him any guidance, for they were not working with the Professor at the moment.
“Maybe he has some new idea to pitch?” he’d suggested to his contact in SI, adding, “in which case he’d have been better going to the Head of SI, rather than insisting on meeting a field officer.”
The technician had shrugged: ‘Could be, Colonel, but you know how the public likes to associate with celebrities’.
The comment had not gone down well; security was an ever-increasing problem and such precise demands as Powell’s always raised his suspicions. His codename was not unknown to the general public – of course – because he’d been involved in so many of Spectrum’s greatest missions. Not all of them successes, by any means, although – thank goodness – the majority had been. The world’s media loved a good story, and ‘Colonel Scarlet’ was a mystery and an enigma and, as such, they tried hard to fathom ‘what made him special’.
Scarlet gave a dry grimace as he considered the last attempt to reveal his identity and explode his cover. That woman had tried everything – everything – and for a brief moment he had been tempted. He recalled the sharp sense of disappointment he’d felt when he’d realised she was a reporter; he’d thrown her clothes at her and ordered her out of his hotel room even as she struggled to get dressed. He was a little ashamed of his vitriolic tongue-lashing, but still felt justified. She’d played him for a fool and whatever else he was, Colonel Scarlet was nobody’s fool!
He realised he was approaching the Savoyard Palace and focused his mind on his forthcoming mission.
A movement just beyond the entrance to the dining room caught the Professor’s eye and he exhaled sharply. A tall, dark-haired man with an unmistakable military bearing emerged from the foyer and spoke to the Maître d’, who once more inclined his head graciously and started to lead the newcomer towards Powell’s table.
“Mr Redmond has arrived, sir,” he said to the Professor.
Powell stood. As the Maître d’ retired, he extended his hand towards his guest with a brief smile.
“Colonel Metcalfe, I’m delighted to see you.”
Scarlet took it and shook it in a firm grasp. The use of his real name, rather than his designated cover, fired his sense of alarm.
“Professor Powell, I fear you are under a misapprehension, sir. My name is Redmond. I am the representative of the World Government’s Research Council.”
“Yes, I know who you are. I invited you here and it is at my insistence that you are their representative, Colonel.” He gestured towards the seat that gave the view of the room and the exits. “I’m so pleased you were able to come, and on this particular day as well. I have taken the liberty of buying you a birthday present, I hope that is permissible and that you still like a good single malt?”
“How did you know it’s my birthday?” Scarlet asked, frowning at the rectangular parcel about a foot in height, which Powell had placed on the table before him.
Warily, he sat down. His fingers manipulated the Mysteron detector in his jacket pocket and he pressed the button. After a few seconds he heard the quiet bleep that meant ‘all clear’.
Well, that’s one worry dismissed. Now to find out what he thinks he’s doing and – more importantly – what he wants.
Powell was continuing to make conversation in a friendly and unthreatening tone. “If you have any doubts over my vital status, Colonel, please feel free to check me out with the Mysteron detector. Although, you may have already done so? Ah, I thought as much: the miniature MD makes a very distinctive bleep, once you know what to listen for. I can reassure you I am not a Mysteron.”
“I know, sir.”
Powell smiled. “Well, not in the normal way.”
“You really don’t remember me, do you? I guess there’s no reason why you should, but I know a great deal about you, including that today is your birthday. I hope you do still enjoy a decent single malt? It’s been many years since we met, but people don’t often change that much.”
Scarlet frowned, but was prevented from responding immediately by the approach of a deferential waiter. With a questioning glance, the Professor ordered the top of the range teas for two.
“You always had a healthy appetite,” he said to Scarlet, with a smile.
Scarlet was still racking his brain and trying to place why the professor’s face had seemed familiar. He said, “Professor, I really think you must be confusing me with somebody else, sir.”
Powell laughed. “Please don’t keep calling me ‘sir’. I should be calling you that.”
A waitress appeared with a large tray of sandwiches and two silver pots of tea. “Professor Powell,” Scarlet began, waiting until the delicate china cups had been laid out and they were alone again. “Please explain yourself.”
Powell poured himself a cup of tea and sipped it appreciatively. “Nobody makes a good cup of tea like the English do,” he remarked. “Please don’t panic Colonel, or get alarmed. I pose no threat to you or to Spectrum. In fact, I owe Spectrum a good deal and I am indebted to them for providing me with a safe and – I hope – useful life. I have certainly tried to repay my debt to them over the years through my work with Spectrum Intelligence.”
“I am aware of that, sir,” Scarlet reassured him.
“What you don’t seem aware of, Colonel, is that I am indebted to you for my life.”
Scarlet hesitated. Had this man been part of some mission years ago and was he a survivor from some Mysteron threat he’d been party to defeating?
“In what way, sir?”
Powell grinned, clearly enjoying ‘the big reveal’. “You, Colonel Metcalfe, are my father.”
Scarlet stared at his companion for some time as everything began to fall into place: the shape of his face and the dimple in his chin, the blue eyes behind the metal-rimmed glasses and the luxuriant white hair. But it was the smile that clinched it – he had not seen that grin for almost thirty years. There had only ever been one man with a smile that lit up his face like that: Captain Blue.
The years stripped away and Scarlet relived the mission that had led him to other universes, including the one where he had met a young woman by the name of Eva Svenson and her friend Paula Metcalfe, two young women working for Spectrum and code-named Cadenza and Sonata Angels respectively. It had quickly dawned on him that this universe contained many differences to his own, but the biggest shock had been that in their world it was Eva who had been Mysteronised, broken free from their control and retained the ability to retrometabolise.
Despite the shock and understandable confusion, his friendship with Eva had been the one constant between the realities: it had mirrored the intensity of his relationship with her ‘identity’ in his own world – Adam Svenson – but it had also been bolstered by the shared experience of retrometabolism and the power of the Mysterons. Such had been the empathy between them that there had been a brief night of sexual dalliance – which even now he could recall with pleasure - before he had left that universe and found his way home to his own place and time.
Then, some four years later and safely back in his own reality, he had been confronted with the consequences - their twin teenage sons: Michael and Gabriel. This, coupled with a new Mysteron threat, had seen Scarlet and his colleagues attempt to revisit the ‘portal’ to his children’s reality. The events of that episode were complicated and distressing. One of the twins – Michael – had escaped the Mysterons’ vindictiveness, with little choice but to seek sanctuary in his biological father’s ‘reality’. Spectrum Intelligence had created a new identity for the youth – one of which he and all of Spectrum had remained in ignorance – and taken him to live his new life in obscurity.
Everything fell into place and Scarlet murmured, “Mike.”
Powell’s grin expanded. “Yes, when you first met me my name was Michael Turner. My codename was Ensign Tyrian and my mother was – is – Eva Svenson.”
Powell nodded. “Like you, she has the ability to retrometabolise. I don’t imagine she’s any older than you are, never mind dead.”
Scarlet nodded thoughtfully. “You’re probably right about that, but given the situation you escaped from, I hope she’s found a life worth the effort.”
“Did you ever go back?”
Scarlet heard such longing in Powell’s voice that he was almost sorry that he had to shake his head. “The tunnels leading to the portals are out of bounds but after so many volcanic eruptions in the area, I suspect most of them are blocked by now anyway.”
“Were you never even tempted to try?” Powell persisted.
“I’m a soldier, Mike; an order is an order.” He stared at his companion and asked: “You never tried to get back there, did you, Mike? I know you were warned about the dangers…” He gave a dry snort and continued: “Mind you, I never listened to advice or orders when I was the age you were then.”
Powell stared back. “Part of me yearned to – the Metcalfe in me, maybe? But the Svenson in me said ‘no way, José’ and I always did do what my mother told me. I stayed put, like a good little boy, but part of me always hoped she’d find a way to get here. It’s cost me a great deal, emotionally, over the years and now I often wonder why I didn’t try.”
“Then thank God for that Svenson pragmatism. There’s no way of knowing what could have resulted from too much criss-crossing through the dimensions.”
Powell nodded and sat quietly drinking his tea for a few minutes. As the silence grew oppressive, Scarlet asked:
“Why did you want to see me?”
“Some thirty years ago a middle-aged man, suddenly considered himself to be newly-orphaned, and vowed that if he reached seventy he would look you up again.”
“I knew you’d still be alive. When General Blue died, strange though it may seem, I felt orphaned all over again. I know he was no relation to me in the normal sense, but he was the closest I had to ‘family’. While you and he were in the world I felt as if there were at least two people who understood what I was going through and – maybe – gave me a thought occasionally and wished me well – however obliquely.”
“His death was a sad loss to us all,” Scarlet remarked quietly. He had lost not only his best friend but his wife in the same Mysteron attack and it had taken him what had felt like an eternity to come to terms with it. He had not been the only one, but it had never occurred to him that the pain might spread much further than their immediate circle.
“The day SI took me from Cloudbase, I was told I could never see you or Adam again; told that to even try to do so would place you, him and myself in great danger. That was hard, Paul. Very hard. I couldn’t share the secret I carried with anyone – even the woman I loved and married, even my sons.”
He looked at his companion as if expecting some assurance that his predicament had been appreciated by those in the know, but Scarlet remained silent.
Powell continued: “I saw snippets about you and Adam on the newscasts – Spectrum missions, of course. I saw him make Commander-in-Chief of Spectrum, saw the wonderful job you both did in ensuring the Mysterons could never affect this world as they had affected mine. It felt like enough and I was – for most of the time - at peace with my situation. I thought I’d grown immune to any more pain, but his death brought it all back.”
Scarlet bit his lower lip but said nothing. Over the years he had struggled to suppress the memories of the twin boys who’d turned out to be his sons. There had been times when he’d ached to find Mike and check out that he was doing okay. Marriage to Dianne and the birth of their two children had gradually eased the pain of losing his ‘eldest’ children, but like lees in the bottom of a glass, the feelings were easily stirred up.
Powell continued: “I went to the funeral. I saw you there. Oh, nobody saw me, I stayed well away, but I had to go. When everyone had gone, I went and laid a single rose on the grave – a white rose, my mother’s favourite flower. It was then that I vowed I would seek you out before I died or if I reached 70, whichever seemed more likely to happen first. I manoeuvred myself into a position to work with SI on various anti-Mysteron devices and I cultivated contacts in the organisation. Spectrum found me useful and they’ve treated me fairly. When I said I wanted to speak to you – only to you - they agreed. I may have intimated that I had some new device in mind, but I was not specific – I promised them nothing.”
“SI said that they weren’t aware of any ongoing research project you were currently involved with,” Scarlet confirmed dryly. “But they did recommend we agreed to the meeting, so I presume your assumption is correct.” He paused a moment before adding, “They did a good job in hiding you if even they weren’t aware who you are.”
“They may be very well aware,” Powell replied, “but they’d never let on to you or me if they are.” He hesitated and reached for another sandwich. “I rather think they compartmentalise everything and the firewalls between who can access the information are impenetrable. From what I remember, Lieutenant Green was an extremely gifted computer programmer.”
“He was indeed.”
The silence descended again while both men rather self-consciously sipped their tea and nibbled at sandwiches. An outsider glancing at them could not have missed the family likeness between them and might’ve considered as them father and son, although, the true nature of that familial relationship would have surprised them.
Finally, Powell spoke. “I’ve counted off the years since I decided to ask for this rendezvous and for the past 18 months or so, I have been planning this day.”
Scarlet smiled. “I hope you’re finding it worth the wait.”
Powell shrugged. “Aren’t you going to open your birthday present?”
“Of course. Thank you – you shouldn’t have.” He prized open the wrapping paper and saw the familiar packaging of The Gailbhinn whisky and repeated: “You really shouldn’t have!”
“So I remembered it right!” Powell smiled with pleasure. “Happy birthday, Paul.”
Scarlet realised how close he was to abandoning all pretence of formality in his pleasure at seeing the man again. Drawing a deep breath he said, “Thank you, Professor.”
Powell’s face fell a little. “You’re mad at me for arranging this, aren’t you? Do you have no curiosity about what happened to me at all, Paul?”
Scarlet considered how to reply. His military training, and the fact that he was generally always busy, had prevented him from ever making the time to discover where Tyrian had been sent. Soon after they had removed him from Cloudbase, SI had informed him that the young man had been settled and was being well cared for. Initially both Blue - who had felt a certain shared responsibility for the youngster who was, albeit in a different reality, part of his family – and he had agreed that to seek the boy out would complicate things and probably make his transition to a new life more difficult. As time had passed, they had given the matter less thought, although there had been occasions when they had discussed it and speculated on Michael’s well-being.
Scarlet had wondered if, once he had been made Commander of Spectrum, Blue had accessed information about Mike. This was entirely due to a reference Blue had made, in passing, to ‘his children’ – and given that Blue’s only known child was the illegitimate daughter who had eventually married Paul’s son – Scarlet had found it a telling slip of the tongue. Nevertheless, he had not pursued it.
Powell was waiting for a response and Scarlet drew a deep breath. “We knew you were alright, Mike. Adam had access to every confidential record as C-in-C. We knew. But neither of us felt it was a good idea to drag up the past – for you or for us. Like I said, everything to do with that mission was out of bounds and we were used to obeying orders.”
“Yes; I understand that; I spent most of my childhood on Cloudbase with my mother and step-father – both military officers – obeying orders was in-bred into me.”
Scarlet was pleased to see that his ‘little white lie’ seemed to have provided Powell with the reassurance and comfort he craved. He continued:
“I saw your personal records before I came here, as you must be aware. It says you have a family of your own. I’m glad to know that you were able to settle down here… in this ‘reality’.”
Powell’s face lit up and he spoke with real affection in his voice. “Yes, I was lucky. I met a wonderful woman and we had thirty-five years of joy together. I lost her four years ago.”
Scarlet mumbled his sympathies, but Powell didn’t seem to hear; he continued:
“We had three sons: Gabriel, Conrad and Evan. I have two wonderful grandchildren and there’s another one on the way. They’re good boys.”
“Tell me, Mike…” Scarlet hesitated, searching for the words to ask the question that was dominating his mind. “How’s your health been? I mean, I have two children - and numerous grandchildren – but my wife – their mother – was… fully human. None of them have shown any sign of retrometabolism, yet, on the other hand, they’ve all been the picture of health all their lives. Of course, Eva and I both shared that particular attribute and, although neither you nor Gabriel ever tested positive as Mysterons, I can’t help thinking that if there was any hereditary element to Retrometabolism, you and he would’ve been the most likely to have inherited it.”
Scarlet was relieved to see that Powell didn’t take any offense at the question; in fact, he seemed to consider it as a valid one. He nodded his head and after some thought replied:
“I’ve never had a serious illness. Only time I’ve had broken bones was skiing, five years ago, and my arm healed cleanly and quickly – but nothing so spectacular that the doctors commented on it. The boys all had the usual childhood sicknesses, but, even then they weren’t ill for long. It may be that there is some inherited ‘boost’ to my immune system that they’ve also benefited from, but I can’t say I’ve ever been in a situation where I would notice retrometabolism in action.”
Scarlet nodded. “Sounds like my two.” He smiled. “I’m glad, in a way. Retrometabolism is a marvellous thing, but it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. I’ve experienced some things that no human should have to suffer and certainly, wouldn’t have survived. The judges are still out on the long-term consequences, Mike. I wake some nights and feel like screaming at the prospect of an eternity living without those I’ve loved.”
“Yes, I can see that would be a terrifying prospect. Maybe, in time, you’ll find peace in a new relationship? I certainly hope so, for your sake, Paul.” He reached out a tentative hand and grasped Scarlet’s arm, giving it a sympathetic squeeze.
“Have you ever speculated on your own potential longevity?” Scarlet asked, acknowledging the gesture with a smile.
“Not specifically. I know I’ve always been considered remarkably fit and healthy for a man of my age – whatever that was - yet I’ve always supposed I would get my ‘three-score years and ten’ like everyone else. Do you think this may not be the case?”
Scarlet shrugged. “You don’t look seventy.”
Powell smiled. “Remember when my twin brother Gabriel first arrived in this reality? He was fifteen and yet here, only about four years had passed since you encountered my mother. So, maybe I’m not seventy? Maybe I’m really only 59?”
“Yes, it was one reason Blue couldn’t accept that Gabriel was who he said he was. His reluctance to do so was also fuelled by your brother’s determined flirting with Symphony Angel.”
Powell’s smile expanded into a grin. “Is she still…?”
Scarlet shook his head brusquely. “I can’t answer those sort of questions; you must realise that, Mike.”
“I could look it up in the public records,” Powell snapped.
“You do that.”
The sudden coldness between them lasted until the waitress had cleared the table and returned with a large selection of cakes and desserts. Over another cup of tea and a slab of chocolate fudge cake, Scarlet sought to bridge the gap.
“I am pleased you arranged this meeting,” he confessed. “I don’t see much of my family any more – it’s hard to explain to the neighbours why your 92 year old father looks like a sprightly 30-something. My daughter never really came to terms with my… situation. My son coped far better. He married Adam’s daughter, who’d been in Spectrum too, so they both understood. We meet occasionally on neutral ground, where no one’s going to ask awkward questions.”
“Will you meet me again?”
“That’s the $64,000 question, isn’t it?”
Both men self-consciously paid considerable attention to the food on their plates and the silence lengthened.
Across the tearoom, in an ornate wrought iron pagoda that dominated the room, a pianist played easy-listening classics, and the murmur of voices grew a little louder as the room filled with diners. The chink of tea-cups and the rattle of cutlery formed a backdrop to the incidental noise and Scarlet could hear the low-hum of traffic out in the street. He paused, a forkful of cake halfway to his mouth, as he heard a disturbance coming from the lobby of the hotel. The noise grew and he looked up, towards the entrance to the tea room.
Powell had also heard the noise and stopped eating.
“What is it?” he said.
Scarlet shook his head. “I’m not sure, but it’s coming this way.” Scarlet put the fork down.
There was a scream from the lobby. He got to his feet.
A tall, bare-headed man, wearing a long black, leather coat and an orange roll-neck sweater under a leather waistcoat, stood in the entrance. In his hand he carried a large semi-automatic pistol.
“He’s got a gun!” someone shrieked, and consternation and confusion erupted across the room as people tried to leave.
Scarlet reached for his own pistol and started to move forwards to where he could confront the intruder. He knew who it was – had recognised him immediately – but he was more concerned with protecting the civilians than capturing Captain Black.
“Black!” he shouted, “Whatever you’re planning, I won’t let you do it. Get out before I kill you.”
Captain Black turned to look at Scarlet and a grim smile touched his lips. “Scarlet. I have come for the boy and for you.”
“Leave him alone.” Scarlet risked a glance towards Powell and said, “Get out, Mike – get away.”
“The Mysterons don’t take kindly to his intrusion into this dimension. He should not be here. We have searched for him for many years and now you – of all people – lead us to him.”
“Get out, Mike,” Scarlet ordered again more insistently, as he moved to shield the professor from his would be assassin.
“But I can…”
“Get out!” Scarlet roared.
“Okay – I’m going.”
Powell started to move towards the emergency exit, which had been opened by a member of staff to allow diners to flee. He had barely gone a dozen paces when Black fired. Simultaneously, Scarlet fired at Black and the noise reverberated around the tea room.
Both bullets hit their targets, but Black barely flinched. He turned his cold gaze on Scarlet, aimed and fired. The bullet shattered Scarlet’s eye-socket and he fell, dead before he hit the floor.
The wail of police sirens grew louder as the people still trapped in the tea room sobbed and screamed, those who could not get to the exits cowered behind tables and potted palms. Black walked over to where Powell lay, bleeding from a leg wound.
The Professor looked up into the face of the man who was the doppelgänger of his mother’s husband – the man he had considered his father. He knew that in this reality Captain Black was the prime agent of the Mysterons, whereas his own step-father had been the Commander of Spectrum and had fought the aliens with determination and valour. Nevertheless, the sight of Conrad Turner filled him with nostalgia rather than terror.
“Hello, Conrad,” he murmured.
Black did not reply. He aimed the gun at his head and fired.
The atmosphere in the tea room grew oppressive and an eerie green light appeared travelling across the floor to where Michael lay. Moments later, a replica of the dead man appeared beside Black and the original body vanished.
“You know what you must do,” Black said calmly.
“The Mysterons orders will be carried out,” ‘Powell’ confirmed.
For one moment their eyes met and then Black vanished. Powell went and knelt down beside Colonel Scarlet, and as the emergency services arrived, he called out:
“Over here! Quick! He’s very badly hurt!”
“Okay, sir – you leave him to us. Now, are you okay? You’d better come with us and get checked over – that looks like a nasty wound in your leg. Do you know him?”
“He’s my… son.”
“Well, it’s amazing that he’s still alive. We’ll do everything we can.”
“Thank you, doctor. I am sure you will. I’d better make a phone call. There are people who need to know where he is.”
“If you say so. We’ll get him into the ambulance and come back for you – all right?”
Powell had produced a mobile phone and keyed in a pre-set number. He glanced up. “Fine. I’ll wait here.”
As the medics took Scarlet to the ambulance he heard his phone call answered.
“Spectrum’s London HQ? My name is Powell; I had a meeting with Colonel Scarlet this afternoon. I’m afraid there’s been a terrible accident. Scarlet’s being taken to London Hospital with a life-threatening injury. I’m going with him. I will meet you there.”
He closed the call, pocketed his phone and smiled a tremulous welcome to the medics who were there to help him.
“Thank you; I want to stay with my son all the time.”
“No problem, sir. He’s a strong man, I’m sure he’ll be alright.”
“I’m so glad you think so.”
Powell hobbled out between the two medics and an eerie silence settled in the blood-soaked tea room.
Watching from across the street, Captain Black smiled to see the Professor get into the ambulance.
Maybe this time, the Mysterons’ plan to rid the world of Colonel Scarlet would work…
The premise for this story has been lurking in the back of my mind for some time, although I was never sure if I wanted to write a definitive ending to ‘Synchronicity’ and ‘Tesseract’. I have cut myself off from possible stories by writing my timelines too precisely before now…
Discussion – constructive, friendly and immensely valued – with my beta-reader Skybase Girl, Chris Bishop, with additional input from Hazel Kohler, convinced me it was worth a shot. I hope I have done a good enough job to satisfy everyone!
My thanks go to Skybase Girl – an author whose stories inspire and delight me – for her perceptive and constructive suggestion; to Chris Bishop for her support and encouragement and to Hazel Kohler, for her erudition and continuing support.
As ‘Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons’™ reaches a significant milestone, it is reassuring to know that there are still fans who enjoy both versions of the TV show (the original and New Captain Scarlet) and playing in the wonderful universe, created 50 years ago by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, which is peopled with such fascinating characters.
I don’t own ‘Captain Scarlet and The Mysterons’™, I’m just enthralled by it. My thanks go to everyone involved in bringing the concept to fruition and to you, for reading this short story.
Happy Birthday, Paul Metcalfe!
17 December 2016