Tormented

Edna Phillips

E Mail address: stargatesg1971@aol.com

Author: Edna Phillips (Mrs Stargate/MacGyver Obsessed)

Status: Complete

Summary: MacGyver’s sick and an old nemesis decides to take advantage of it.

Category: Action, adventure

Spoilers: None

Rating: PG 13

Authors Note: This story is dedicated to the owner of this site and myself.

Disclaimer: The character MacGyver does not belong to me (I’m sad to say) I only borrowed him for this story.  No copyright infringement intended. This story is written for fan entertainment only (especially Beth’s and mine) and no money has exchanged hands. This story is the property of the author and may not be posted anywhere without the authors consent.

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MacGyver had noticed that whenever he’d finished an assignment for The Phoenix Foundation he was usually tired out.  Ready to sit at home, play his guitar, listen to music, catch up on some reading, or maybe do a little fishing, for at least three or four days before facing the world again.  However, this time, he was convinced that it was going to take a couple of weeks to get him out of the houseboat and back into circulation.  He was exhausted and felt ill.  He wasn’t sure if it was something he’d eaten or if he’d picked up a virus from somewhere.  He just felt ill.  He’d a splitting headache and couldn’t stop shivering, despite the fact he was hot.  As with most people when they don’t feel well, all he wanted to do now was to go home. 

He was glad this assignment was over.  In fact, he’d wished it had never begun.  Everything about it had been a disaster.  

 

The assignment had been to meet with two US contacts in Gorky in Russia where he’d gone posing as a tourist.  He was to bring back information they had acquired with regard to a group of ‘agents’ living in the US who had been sending top secret data to the Soviets.  From the moment he had arrived at his hotel he’d had the continual feeling he was being watched.  Nothing tangible, just a feeling, but that feeling also told him his room at the hotel had been searched.  Professionally searched.  No sign of entry, nothing missing, still he was sure things had been moved, only slightly, but nonetheless moved.  Then everything started going wrong.  His first contact was found murdered and the police turned up just as Mac arrived. Fortunately, he saw them outside the house and walked away.  Also fortunately, the contact had already passed the computer discs on to his colleague and they were now safely tucked away in Mac’s jacket pocket.  However, when he returned to his hotel there were a group of policeman outside and he was unaware as he walked towards them that they were looking for him.  As he approached the entrance, one of the officers spotted him, pulled a gun and shouted he should put his hands in the air as he was under arrest.  Mac turned and ran and they gave chase.  As he ran, his brain went into full throttle as he ducked into alleyways and side entrances in a desperate bid to lose the police who were firing at him whenever they thought he was in range.  He had no time to stop, no time to do anything to slow them down as they began to gain ground on him.  Then, his head spinning wildly, he saw his way out.

A large group of French tourists being shown the nightlife were chatting and laughing as they spread out along the sidewalk enabling him to use them as a shield as they walked towards the pursing police officers, who had now put their guns back in their holsters while they passed. Once clear of the officers MacGyver headed for the train station, but by the time he arrived feeling the worse for wear, the police already had it covered and were checking papers and looking for anyone who matched his description.  He turned and walked quietly away before they saw him. He was safe, for the moment.  Nevertheless, he now found himself sick, alone, wanted by the police for some reason, with nowhere to go.  His passport, airline tickets, everything except his wallet and what he had in his pockets back at the hotel. 

=====

As he walked further away from the centre of the city, he looked for a telephone booth.  Then checking the change in his pockets he realised he needed to get some in order to use one when he found it.  Passing a parade of stores he was surprised to see how many of them were actually still open, even though it was 8 pm and away from the main tourist area. 

“Just what I need,” he said to himself as he spotted a hardware store.

 

Although it was taking a chance, Mac had no alternative.  The storekeeper looked a little surprised at the condition of the American tourist who appeared unwell and he thought should be back at his hotel and not wandering around the city, but he didn’t ask any questions because he did not want to lose a sale.  Still he was curious as he watched Mac leave the store carrying the backpack he’d bought, a large water flask, some duct tape and various other items the shopkeeper thought more in fitting with a fishing holiday than a trip around some of the cities the tourists usually frequented when they came to Russia.  He was still wondering about him when a woman entered the store shortly after he left.

 

“Business is good tonight,” the man said to himself as he went to serve his customer.

 

As he left the store MacGyver noticed a drug store on the other side of the small street and decided to get something for “This flu, or whatever it is I’ve picked up on my travels,” he said to himself as he crossed the road and entered the store. 

The lady behind the counter was most helpful and concerned that he looked unwell and allowed him to use her telephone while she got together various headache tablets and medicine which she assured him would bring down his temperature.

 

“If you go to your hotel and rest,” she told him sternly, but with kindness, as he went to leave.  MacGyver thanked her for her concern. 

 

As he walked up the road away from the store, the woman who had followed him into the hardware store now crossed the road and walked towards the drug store.

 

“Right.  Marcus said to go to the coach station, which thank goodness isn’t too far away, get on a local, not a tourist coach, which takes a slightly longer route but should get me into Leningrad in about three days.  Boy am I thirsty,” he said aloud to himself as he studied the map he’d bought then stopped, because looking down made his head spin.  “From there to Finland.  With Marcus’ help of course,” he added as he continued walking, unaware he was being followed.

By the time he’d reached the coach station, he was feeling awful.  Or, as his friend Jack Dalton might put it, “like death warmed up.”  As soon as he arrived, he headed for the men’s room to fill the water flask.  He wasn’t too sure about drinking water from the tap in there but had no choice.  He was hot and sticky and his throat was dry and sore.  After taking a long drink, he washed his face and tried to straighten the unkempt look he’d acquired before he went back outside.

“At least there aren’t any police here yet,” he said aloud as he watched the guy at the ticket office.  “Still he’s bound to tell them I bought a ticket for Leningrad if they do show up.  I’m not exactly the kind of traveller he sees every night, so he’s certain to remember me.”  It was then he noticed a young women with two small children. 

As the coach to take him to Leningrad was already standing outside waiting for its passengers, he wondered if she was actually going to buy tickets for it and not waiting for one to come in.  No, she had a case. He had to take a chance, so he approached her as she walked further into the coach station.

“Excuse me Maam,” he said as he came up to her.  She jumped.

“I don’t mean to scare you,” he continued holding his head as it was spinning again.

“Do you understand English?” he asked.

“Just a little,” she answered to his great relief.

“Well I’m hoping you will do me a favour,” he said as he saw the sweat on his hand.

“Yes, what is it?” she asked as she moved forward and deposited her large bag and the two children on a bench.

“I’m not feeling too well at the moment,” he told her as he watched her sort her things out.  “And I don’t speak very good Russian, so I was hoping you’d get my coach ticket for me while I go to the men’s room for a moment.  I really don’t feel well.”

“Where do you want to go?” she asked as she gave her children some sandwiches.

“Leningrad,” he told her as he sat down next to her, glad of the rest.

“We are taking that coach,” she told him watching him with some concern.  “But you should be at your hotel resting.  You look very sick.  You look like you have a...now what is that the word?  Oh my English is awful,” she added smiling.

“Your English is great,” Mac told her admiringly.  “A lot better than my Russian.”

“My cousin taught me,” she told him.  “He was at the London School of Economics.  We are very proud of him,” she continued as she watched him.  “I think you have the flu...or maybe you have picked up the germ that has been making everyone ill.  We have already had this sickness.  Now I am taking the children to my mother’s in the next town because she is sick and needs me very much.”  She watched him as she spoke.  “Yes I think you have the sickness. You are not well at all.  I will help.  I will get you a ticket,” she said as she took the offered money.

“Thank you,” MacGyver answered as he got up and headed for the men’s room once more.  “Just need to get myself a drink,” he told her as she walked to the ticket office.

 

In the men’s room, he once again had a long drink, and then refilled the flask and washed his face, appalled at the sight that met him in the mirror.  As he left the toilets and headed back towards the woman, she came to meet him as he muttered under his breath as he caught sight of his reflection in a window. “God Mac, you look dreadful.”

 

“You’re right there MacGyver,” whispered a female figure hiding in a dark doorway.

“I’ve seen you looking better, but never mind.  “I have just the cure for what ails you.”

========

The Coach

The only people boarding the coach at that particular point turned out to be MacGyver, the woman and the two children.  With no luggage compartment on the extremely old vehicle the woman had to take her case with her.  Mac took it from her as she ushered the two children on board and smiled as the driver told her.

“Your husband doesn’t look very well.  Perhaps he would be better off lying down on one of the long seats at the back.”

The lady thanked him and smiled kindly at Mac.

“That is a good idea,” she whispered as he put her case in the luggage rack. “You’ll feel much better if you are lying down.  These coaches never get much people when they go this way; there will be plenty of seats for those who come later.” 

Mac nodded and made his way to the back of the coach and gratefully sat down.

“The sickness does not last very long,” the woman added as she placed some sandwiches in his backpack.  Three maybe four days, but you must make sure you get much rest.  It will last for many days longer if you do not. Try to eat when you feel better. We will sit here,” she told him as she sat her children down on the long seat opposite.  “We do not go far and the children will be quiet.  I will look after you.”

“Thank you Maam,” said Mac as he drank some water then stretched out and placed the backpack under his head as a pillow.

“You are most welcome,” she said as the coach started up and he fell asleep.

 

‘MacGyver slept the sleep of the sick.  Things drifted past his vision, as he slept and woke, slept and woke again.  He knew one thing though.  He was cold and hot at the same time.  He awoke slightly when the coach stopped twice to pick up more passengers, but other than that, things weren’t making too much sense to him.  Once he thought he heard someone speaking English, but was too tired to open his eyes to see who it was.  He slept better when at last the shivering became less violent.  Still, the world wasn’t making that much sense. The mission spun through his head as he dreamt deliriously of being followed, always being followed, by a dark menacing shape that haunted his dreams.  Suddenly he felt himself being moved violently sideways and then the movement stopped.  Trying to drag himself awake sent his head spinning, but he knew something was wrong; something had changed.  Instinct pulled him to the surface of sleep and he opened his eyes. 

“Excuse me.  No, hang on a minute. Cht spuchayetsya? ‘What happened?” he asked the coach passengers who were all over one side of the coach and looking out of the windows, in the best Russian his befuddled mind could muster   No one answered.

“Cht spuchayetsya,” he repeated again, as he sat up slowly.

“Now you take it easy young man,” said one of the women as she turned away from the window and came towards him.

“You’re American,” said MacGyver as she stood in front of him.

“Same as you,” she answered with a smile.  “You should lay back down now.  You’ve been really sick.  You should rest.  I’m Ruth by the way.”

“My name’s MacGyver,” he told her.  “Where’d I get this?” he asked, indicating a large black coat that was covering him.

“Oh I borrowed that from the relief driver,” she answered as she handed him a drink.

“You were shivering badly when my daughter and I came on board.  I’m a nurse,” she said as she watched him.  I’ve been taking care of you.  I hope you don’t mind.”

“Thank you Ruth,” Mac answered giving her the water bottle. “What’s going on?

“Oh some idiot going too fast ran us off the road,” she answered angrily.

“Some of the men are digging the wheel free so was can get out of the ditch.”

“That should do it,” said a young women who got back on the coach and came towards them.  “At least the tyre wasn’t down too deep or it might have been a different matter.  Crazy driver.  Just carried on going, didn’t even stop.”

“Mr MacGyver, this is my daughter Helen,” said Ruth as the girl sat down on the long seat opposite him and he realised that the woman who helped him had gone.

“Hi.  Glad to see you looking a bit better,” Helen answered as the driver returned and started up the engine.  “Here we go.  I hope my idea works.”

“Your idea?  What idea?” Ruth asked.

“Oh I told them to put branches and leaves stuff like that behind and in front of the wheels to give it some grip,” her daughter answered as she looked out of the window to watch the men who were going to give the coach a push.

“Good idea,” said Mac lying down, as his head was spinning again. 

“Saw it in a TV programme,” Helen answered smiling broadly.  “I just hope it works.  At least it’s getting light out there.  Sick and tired of travelling in the dark.”

“What time is it?” Mac asked looking at his watch and not being able to focus.

“About 4 am,” answered Ruth as the coach lurched, came free of the ditch and pulled onto the road.

“I’ve been asleep for ages,” Mac added, as the men who had been pushing returned.  “But I certainly don’t feel like it.”

“Well that’s because you’ve been ill,” Ruth told him, covering him over with the coat again.  “You’ve had some pretty horrendous nightmares.”

“How do you know?” he asked.

“You’ve been shouting a bit, not much, just a bit,” answered Helen.

“I didn’t scare anyone did I?” Mac asked as he watched three children who were travelling on the coach, ushered quickly back to their seats by their mother.

“I’m sure you didn’t,” Ruth answered and then spoke in Russian to the children’s mother.  “In fact the little girl wants to give you something.”

MacGyver sat up as the little girl walked towards him smiling, then stopped, looked back at her mother.  Her mother nodded and smiled.

As the child walked towards Mac once more, she spoke in a dialect he couldn’t understand.  He looked at Ruth questioningly as she held out her doll.

“She says,” Ruth told him, “if her doll Judy will keep the bad dreams away, you can hold her while you sleep.”

Mac took the offered doll for a moment and smiled for the first time in days.

“What’s her name?” he asked Ruth.  “The little girl.  What’s her name?”

“Sonya,” Ruth told him.  “Her name is Sonya.”

“Would you thank her,” said Mac, not sure exactly what to say to the child, “and tell her,” he said, holding out the doll, smiling once again, “that her offer to leave her with me is very, very kind and makes me really happy.  But now my bad dreams know she and Judy are watching over me.  I’m sure they will stay away.  Could you tell her that for me please?” Mac asked as Sonya took back the offered doll.  Ruth grinned and bent down to explain to the child in broken Russian what MacGyver had said.  The child nodded her understanding, smiled at him and went back to her seat.

“What a lovely thing to do,” Mac said to Ruth as the bus continued on its journey.  “I’m embarrassed,” he told her, as tiredness swept over him again.

“Don’t be,” said Ruth, as she looked at him in admiration. “There’s been quite an epidemic of this virus and one of the symptoms is a very high temperature.  Everyone has nightmares when they have a high temperature.  And what you said to Sonya was really sweet.  You are a real puzzle to me Mr MacGyver.”

“Why’s that?” he asked as he struggled to keep his eyes open.

“I suppose it’s because you just don’t act the way you look, that’s all,” she answered.

“The way I look?” asked Mac, as puzzled now, as she appeared to be. 

“Never mind,” Ruth said as she sat down. “You get some rest.”

“It’s a shame you couldn’t have put off your journey until you were feeling better,” Helen commented, wondering what her mother meant by her remark.

“I wasn’t that sick when I got on the bus.  I was sick but not... I’ve had an emergency. Had no choice but to travel.”  Mac answered hastily.

“I would have thought a train or maybe a plane would have been better.  In an emergency,” Helen said, giving him a suspicious look.

“Don’t like flying much,” Mac lied, as he sat up and took a drink.  “There are no direct trains.  You have to keep changing and there are long waits between connections.  This seemed the best idea.  At the time.”

“Are you going far?” Ruth asked as she looked out of the window.

“Leningrad,” Mac answered, taking another drink.  “I’ve got friends there.”

“We’re going to Leningrad,” said Helen.  “Then Finland.  Mum has friends in Finland.  She wants to visit with them before we go home to the US.”

“Wouldn’t a train or a plane been better for you?” Mac asked, playing the daughter at her own game, as he rested his head on his backpack and fought to keep awake.

“It would have been,” said Helen nudging her mother as she did.  “Except my dear mother here hates trains.  Scared stiff of them and she wanted to see a bit of the countryside before she left Russia.  Said she couldn’t see the countryside from an aeroplane.  So here we are, bouncing up and down in the oldest coach left on the planet and being run off the road by a maniac.  I told her we should fly. But no!”

“Really Helen, you’re giving Mr MacGyver the third degree,” said Ruth nudging her daughter back.  “Leave the poor man alone.”

“Well you started it,” said Helen. 

“I was just worried he didn’t have anyone to take care of him when he gets off the coach,” answered Ruth as she saw Mac drift off to sleep.

“Always the nurse mother.  You are always the nurse,” answered Helen as she too closed her eyes. “Still you’re right in what you said.  He doesn’t act the way he looks.”

=========

“Where is everyone?” Mac said aloud as he woke up some five hours later and realised the coach wasn’t moving and he was the only one left on it.  Struggling to his feet, he looked through the window and was relieved to see the other passengers milling around outside.

“Must be stretching their legs,” he said as he draped the large coat around his shoulders and headed for the door.

“Mr MacGyver,” shouted Ruth beckoning to him as he stepped off the coach.

“We’ve broken down,” said Helen as he came up to them and before he had chance to speak.  “Broken down!” she repeated, glaring at her mother as if it were her fault.

“Perhaps I could do something,” Mac said as he headed for the front of the coach.

“I’m pretty good with engines.  Sometimes.”

“Well it couldn’t hurt.” Helen answered impatiently as she followed him.

“Where’s the driver?” Mac asked as he realised the man was missing.

“We passed a small village some 10 maybe 12 miles back,” she told him.  “The driver said it was quicker for him to go there and get help than it was to walk to the larger town about 20 miles further up this road.  Some of the passengers went with him.”

“The relief driver is still here though.  I’m sure he’d be glad of your help, if you’re feeling up to it.”

“I feel a lot better,” Mac told them as he lifted the hood of the coach and looked down at the engine.  “Thanks to you ladies.  Well that looks fine to me,” he said after a few minutes tinkering.  “Now where’s that smell coming from?”

“What’s wrong?” Helen asked as she saw his worried expression.

“I’m not really sure,” he answered as he bent down and looked under the coach.  “There’s our problem,” he said as he stood up, tottering slightly as his head spun.

“You Ok,” Ruth asked.

“Yeah, I’m alright Ruth, just got a bit giddy for a moment that’s all,” he answered.

“So, what’s the problem?” Helen asked impatiently.

“There’s a hole in the fuel line,” MacGyver answered as he handed Ruth the coat then laying down on the floor pulled his head and shoulders under the vehicle.

“Now how did that happen?” he said aloud.

“How did what happen?” Ruth asked as he pulled himself out and got to his feet carefully.

“I can’t be absolutely sure,” he told her as she saw him shivering and gave him back the coat.  “But I’d swear that fuel line has been cut deliberately.”

“Cut?  Deliberately?  You’re kidding right?” Helen laughed nervously.

“Whoever did it wanted this coach to breakdown,” Mac told her as he shivered again.

“Who the heck would want to sabotage a broken down old coach like this?” Helen asked.  “What for?”

“You said we passed a village,” said Mac looking back into the engine.  “Did the coach stop?”

“No, but we did stop at a town about two hours ago, you slept through it,” Helen said.

“How long for?” Mac asked looking up and down the road.

“About half an hour,” Ruth answered.  “Why?”

“Where did you stop?” Mac asked.

“The only place too stop,” Ruth told him as they moved away from the other passengers.  “The coach stop.  They have a coach stop there.  We went to the ladies room and then bought some sandwiches.  The others did the same.”

“Look MacGyver if this is some kind of a game, it’s a sick one,” said Helen angrily.

“No game,” he told her, “and I could be wrong.  Did the driver say why he thought the coach had stopped?”

“Not really,” Ruth answered.  “He and a couple of the men took some gasoline cans and headed off up the road.  He said he’d be back in a few hours and we were to stay near the coach.”

“So?” said Helen as her temper began to give out.  “So the driver knew about the fuel leak.  That doesn’t mean he suspected the line had been cut.  He didn’t climb underneath like you did.”

“I understand that,” said Mac as he headed towards the door of the coach to get his water bottle. 

“So?” Helen asked again as he reappeared and realised the bottle was empty.

“Well,” he answered indicating they should follow him to one side away from the relief driver who was watching them carefully.  “I’ve seen spark plugs that need cleaning and battery connections that look a little loose.  But that’s not what stopped the coach.”

“Yes?” Said Helen, her hands on her hips.

“I’ve also seen breaks in fuel lines before.  But that fuel line didn’t just break.  It has been cut with a sharp knife,” he told her, looking up and down the road.     “MacGyver, you are driving me round the twist.  I know you’re still not feeling too good.  Are you positive you’re not overreacting?  Why would someone cut the fuel line?  What possible reason could they have?” Helen asked angrily.

“To stop the coach,” he answered.

She took a deep breath and looked at her mother.  “What the heck for?  To steal it?  They’re welcome.  It’s a rust bucket. Why go to all that trouble just to strand us here in the middle of nowhere?  They could have stolen the darn thing when we were at the coach station, if that’s what they wanted,” she said throwing her hands up.

“No they couldn’t,” Ruth told her.  “Don’t you remember?  We took it in turns to go into the coach stop. Half went and half remained aboard. Then vice versa.”

“This is nuts,” said Helen as she glared at him.  “I’m not saying you’re lying to us

Mr MacGyver, but...”

“That’s just it,” Mac told her, shivering as he did. “I’m not and I’m not overreacting either.  I know what I’m talking about.”

Helen blew out her cheeks and looked at her mother.

“I said we should take a plane.  But no, you insisted we take the coach and now look at us.  Stuck here in the middle of nowhere, with a broken down rust bucket, being advised by a raving lunatic.  Nice going mother, good stuff.”

“Calm down Helen,” Ruth told her, as she gently touched her daughters arm.

“Calm down!  Calm down?” Helen answered as she walked away from them.  “Look mother, I know you think this man is real nice and everything, but he’s totally insane.  This thing is just falling too bits.  It has nothing to do with somebody trying to steal it. It’s just a heap of junk.  Unless of course Mr MacGyver here knows of any reason someone may have to stop him or any of us getting to Leningrad.”  She gave Mac a suspicious look as she said this then carried on angrily.

“No?  You’re sure?” she asked, as he shrugged his shoulders.

“Right then.  We go with my last statement.  He’s sick, not just physically but mentally as well.”  She stopped shouting as her mum smiled kindly.  “Either that or this blasted coach really was sabotaged by some idiot who thinks it is worth stealing.”  Helen paused as her mum began to walk away up the road.  “Where are you going?” she asked as she headed after her, followed by MacGyver.  Ruth stopped.

“Where am I going?  I’m going to get some water,” she answered.

“I wonder if insanity is catching,” Helen muttered as she looked from MacGyver towards her mother.  “Water?  From where exactly?  Isn’t this dangerous?” she asked.

“Typical of the youngsters today,” Ruth said as she continued walking.  “This has to be the most unobservant generation ever born.  Help me with this backpack.”

“No Helen’s right,” Mac told her as he caught her up and stopped her.  “You shouldn’t be wandering off right now.  If I’m right and...  I’m coming with you.”

“I’m not wandering off,” she told him as she held up his water bottle and indicated to the relief driver and the passengers that she was heading up the road to fill it.  “We passed a river just ten minutes or so up the road.  I’m going there.  You don’t have to come,” she told him.  “In fact you should stay on the coach and rest.  You’re still shivering now and then, I saw you.  As for protection, well you’re not really up to it.”

“I never saw any river,” Helen protested, as her mother carried on walking.

“That’s because my dear you just don’t look,” Ruth answered good-naturedly.  “Honestly, how that long suffering husband of yours puts up with you is beyond me.”

“Just who’s side are you on?” Helen asked as MacGyver caught them up after putting on the relief driver’s coat.  “I still say I didn’t see any river.”   

“Who’s side?  At home or here dear?” Ruth asked.

“Both,” Helen answered shaking her head.

“Well at home I’m on your David’s side of course because he needs support dealing with you.  And here?  Well here I’m on Mr MacGyver’s.” Ruth told her smiling.

“Crazy or not, he’s a lot better looking than you are.  A lot better looking.  Cute too.”

“Honestly mother behave yourself.” Helen said as she saw Mac blush. “You’re old enough to be his mother.”

“Of course I am, but at least you noticed something.” Ruth said as she grinned at him.  “There’s hope for you yet child.  Hope for you yet.”

======

As they rounded the first bend and were out of sight of the coach and the passengers, who, unlike Ruth didn’t think it strange or dangerous for her to go to the river they had all seen, MacGyver noticed Helen giving him strange looks.  A little while later as she walked alongside as they both lagged behind Ruth, who had taken off up the country road at a pace way too fast for him, he could stand the silence no longer.

“What?” he asked looking at her.  “Is something wrong?”

“You could say that,” Helen answered, the suspicion in her voice obvious. 

“I think you do know who it was who wanted the coach stopped.  Mum’s wrong.  You are probably exactly the way you look.”  She stopped walking and glared at him.

“I didn’t know what your mother meant and I don’t know what you mean either,” Mac told her honestly.  “What’s wrong with the way I look?”

“I didn’t say there was anything wrong with it,” Helen answered and began walking again as she saw her mother waiting from them to catch up.  “It just doesn’t match up with who you’re trying to make us think you are.  As for being mum’s protector.  In the state you’re in.  Now that’s funny.”

Mac shook his head and wished he hadn’t.

“Look I know I’m not...not better yet...as you said.  I still feel pretty awful, but are you implying I’m putting up a front, a face, for some reason?” he asked.

“You got it in one Mr MacGyver.  If that’s your real name,” she answered.

“Are you two coming or not?” Ruth called adjusting her backpack as she waited.

“Yeah, we’re coming,” answered Helen.  “Mr MacGyver and I are coming.”  She looked at Mac again and he could see the distrust on her face.

“Let’s face it Mr MacGyver, she said emphasizing his name as she did.  “A young man like you, travelling in an old coach.  Not exactly typical is it?  Your type are usually flying around the roads in a two-seater sports car with a dumb blonde by your side.  I wouldn’t think being nice to little girls,” and she emphasized the word ‘little’, “is your style.  So yes, I think you’re putting up a front and I’m positive you know exactly what is going on with the coach.”  She walked away from him and headed towards her mother quickly.  Mac stopped.  He wasn’t sure what she was on about, but he had the distinct impression he’d just been ‘insulted’.  Highly insulted.

“Wait up just a moment,” he called to her as they watched him approach.

“My name is MacGyver and I don’t own a sports car.  I’m not saying I wouldn’t like one, but I drive around in an old jeep.  I don’t have a dumb..., not at the moment that is and I love kids, I don’t need an excuse to be nice to them.”  He stopped speaking as a wave of giddiness swept over him.  “I don’t know who sabotaged the coach and I’m sorry if the way I look doesn’t fit in with your image of someone who cares.  I wasn’t about to let your mother go wandering off in some strange country was I?  Especially not after the way she’s taken care of me. And even if she hadn’t, I still wouldn’t let her go off by herself when I think there’s someone...”  Mac stopped talking and nearly fell.  Both women caught him before he did and made him sit down on the ground.

“What on earth have you been saying to him?” Ruth asked her daughter angrily.

“I was just trying to figure out what he’s up too,” Helen answered.

“You see how he looks.  He’s just too good to be true.”

Ruth handed Mac her flask and looked at her daughter.

“Helen,” she said quietly.  “Not every young man who looks like him,” she pointed to Mac as he struggled to his feet.  “Is... Look I know what you’re thinking.  I thought that myself at first, just for a while, but not now, so please leave him alone. And I don’t want to talk about it all anymore, so let’s get some water.  Are you feeling better?” she asked Mac, a concerned look on her face.  He nodded.  “You’re sure you don’t want to go back to the coach?”  He shook his head then caught Helen’s arm as she began to follow her mother.

“Look,” he said shivering slightly.  “There’s obviously something about me that is bothering you, but there is also something about you two that is bothering me.”

 

She looked at him, then pulling her arm from his grasp said.  “Yeah, like what?”

“Like what are two American women doing traipsing around the country roads of Russia?  It’s not exactly usual is it?” he said as she walked away and he did his best to keep up with her. She stopped and he noticed she took a deep breath before she spoke.

“Nearly four years ago my father was killed.  Murdered,” she told him her face tense.  “He was a school principal.  He loved his work and loved the kids in his care.  One day when mum was helping out at the school.  She gave up nursing a long time ago.  She was helping to organise the play for the Senior Graduation Prom when.”  She stopped for a moment as they at last came in sight of the river.  “When one of the pupils burst into the school hall carrying a gun and started firing.  At first, it was just at one student.  Then he went crazy, reloading and shooting at everyone. When he turned his gun on the group mum and dad were trying to shelter dad pushed mum down and fell on top of her to protect her.  Two of the bullets he fired went through him and into mum.  She and two of the kids she pulled with her as she went down were the only ones out of a group of 22 students who survived the attack.  Dad was killed.”  Mac looked at her questioningly.  “The student who killed them looked like you.  Tall, handsome.  A real baseball hero.  Popular with the girls, as I imagine you were and Mr Success.”  She paused for a moment then continued.

 “Six weeks before Graduation Day a student was raped and killed.  The girl was the only girl he’d ever asked out who turned him down.  She wasn’t like the fluffy girls that usually hung around him.  She was quiet, studious and extremely religious.  Not his type at all.  It only came out later how much he loved her.  Somehow, he found out who it was that killed her.  One of the guys on the baseball team.  A friend of his.  He saw Maria as a challenge, so he followed her home from the library one evening and turned nasty when she wouldn’t let him kiss her.”  Mac waited.

“The guy who killed dad.  They found his diary, after he turned the gun on himself.  They think he only meant to kill the student responsible for Maria’s death. Then he just went berserk.  His diary spoke of Maria and the pain and grief no one, not even his parents realised.  After all, no one even suspected he had a hidden side.  A gentle side that Maria obviously touched. How could they?  For most of the time, he was just the way he looked.  Mr Success, Mr Popular.” She paused again.  “Well Mr Popular killed 21 people. Mum stayed in the house after it happened and it was a year and half before she fully recovered from her wounds and the breakdown she’d had.  She only came here when one of her Russian doctor friends, who runs a clinic for the poor, just outside Gorky, asked her to help.  She’s been here two years now and I came to take her home.  She hardly ever talks about it, but since she made that remark about you, I’ve watched her.  When she looks at you, it reminds her of what happened.”

Ruth had already seated herself alongside the riverbank by the time Mac and Helen reached her.  He could see she knew what they had been talking about but she said nothing.  After they filled both water flasks, they sat for a while to rest.  Despite the heavy coat he was wearing, Mac still continued to shiver every now and then and wished he was at home in bed.

“Did anyone hear that?” Helen asked as they sat watching the water.

“I thought I heard a coach engine.”  They all listened.

“Where was it coming from?” Mac asked her as he got to his feet.  “The sound, where was the sound coming from?”

“Across those fields over there. I’d swear I heard...”

“Well that’s the right direction,” Mac said looking towards where she was pointing.

“You don’t suppose the driver was given a lift back and they forget to tell him where we’d gone?” said Ruth looking worried.

“Not if he went to that village mother,” Helen answered.  “If he got some gasoline and was given a lift back to the coach they would have come past us, the driver said this is the only good road along this stretch of country and nothing’s come past us.”

“Helen’s right,” Mac told Ruth. “Perhaps she heard a farm tractor.  I mean let’s face it that old coach did sound more like a farm tractor than it did a coach.” 

“And he’s right too,” Helen said, smiling at him for the first time since their conversation about her dad.  “I knew the dratted thing reminded me of something.”

“Well we’ll sit for ten minutes or so to give Mac here, is it alright if I call you Mac?” Ruth asked.  He nodded.  “To give Mac a good rest then we’ll start back.  As you said when the driver comes back to the coach, he has to come this way.  We can’t miss him.  If a farmer has found the coach and fixes it, they will tell him where we’ve gone and they’ll wait for us and he needs to rest or we’ll have him collapsing on us.  Youngsters,” she said wagging her finger at him.  “I told you to stay at the coach didn’t I?  No one ever listens to a nurse.  Everyone listens to the doctor, but no one listens to the nurse.”

“You’re the one nagging him now,” Helen said, coming to Mac’s rescue.

“I’m a mother,” Ruth answered proudly.  “That’s what we do.  It’s our job,” =========

“Unless I’m hearing things as well,” said Mac as he got to his feet some fifteen minutes later. “I’d swear I heard a car.  There it is again.  Across the fields.”

“Well I think we should start back,” said Ruth as she got up.  “We don’t want to miss the coach do we?  And it looks like there’s rain on the way.”

“Did you have to say that mother?” said Helen as they started up the road.  “You sent a cold shiver right down my back.”

“I don’t think they’ll leave without us,” MacGyver told her reassuringly. 

=========

“The coach is just around that bend,” Mac said as they headed towards it.

“Drat,” said Ruth as she stopped and sat down on the roadside.  “Blasted stone in my shoe.  Keep going,” she told them as she tugged at the laces of her shoe.

“Oh give your foot here,” said Helen as she bent down to help.

“Won’t be a moment,” she told Mac.  “We’ll catch up.”  He nodded and walked on towards the bend in the road.  As he reached it, he stopped dead in his tracks.

It had gone.  The coach had gone.  In its place was a large car.  Standing by the side of the car and waving at him was the last person in the world he ever wanted to see.

“And about time too MacGyver.  I’d nearly given you up.” The man said as he pointed a P50 automatic weapon at him.

“I bet you’re surprised.”

“Murdoc!” said Mac in total disbelief.

“What’s wrong MacGyver?  You don’t look happy to see me,” said Murdoc as he moved towards him smiling.  “Still sick I see.”

“What are you playing at now?” Mac asked as he caught sight of the two women walking towards him but still out of sight of Murdoc and gestured behind his back that they should stay where they were.  “How long have you been following me?” he asked loudly so they could hear him.

“Since you arrived in Russia,” answered Murdoc.  “I was at the airport about to take a plane to Germany when you walked right past me.  Of course, you didn’t realise it, because I was wearing one of my wonderful disguises.  But you can imagine how I felt when I saw you.  A golden opportunity old boy.  You know me, never one to let an opportunity slip by, MacGyver, right within my grasp.  What more could I ask?”

“My first contact,” said Mac as realisation set in.  “It was you.  You killed him.”

“What do you mean?” said Murdoc in disgust.  “I never went near him. 

I was right behind you when you got there and saw the police the same as you did.  Someone else must have been after the computer discs.  They killed him.  He was no good to me dead.  I must admit to finishing off the second guy, after he told me, somewhat reluctantly, why you’d gone to see him of course.”

“You what? Mac yelled angrily.  “So it was you who sent the police after me.” 

“Me?” said Murdoc in disbelief.  “It wasn’t me old chap.  That was entirely your own fault.  You left a trail behind you a child could follow.  Led them straight to you.  Now I know you were feeling really lousy at the time, but you were seen by two witnesses when you left that house.  After I’d been there and they found his body, quickly with a little help from me of course, they came forward.  A simple check of all foreigners staying in the tourist hotels was all it took to locate you.  You really should do something about your appearance you know.  You stand out like a sore thumb.  To keep you running, I informed the police you killed the other guy as well.” 

“Everybody is picking on the way I look,” Mac muttered under his breath.

“And here we are,” Murdoc answered waving his hands around.  “I followed you when you bought your backpack and then to the drug store, as you call them.  Watched you board the coach and it was a simple matter of cutting the fuel line so it broke down near to where I wanted it.  You going off for a walk actually helped me arrange my little surprise.  It all worked out just perfectly.”

“Your little surprise,” said Mac.  “What little surprise?”

“Oh you’re really going to love this one old chap,” answered Murdoc. “Gives you a chance to shine.  Be a hero, all that sort of stuff.  A game of give and take.”

“You’re mad,” said Mac loudly as he saw the women coming nearer.

“Well you see, I want those discs,” Murdoc shouted.  “Call it a sort of bonus for my trip.  Now I know you’re not about to hand them over.  Of course, I also want you.  Want you dead that is.  Can’t be helped, has to be done.  Duty bound.”

“Get on with it,” Mac told him angrily.

“Just savouring the moment old chap, no need to get all uppity.  It’s quite simple really.  I’ve set up my little game in a field, over there, through those trees.  If you win, you get to keep all.  If you lose, I take those discs. Give and take, as I said.”

“What all?” asked Mac as Murdoc walked back towards his car and opened the door.

“Well all of course,” answered Murdoc waving his hands around as he did.

What all?” shouted MacGyver loudly as he began walking towards the car.

“Isn’t it obvious?” said Murdoc. “You get to keep the discs and you get to keep what is missing.  If you win that is.”  With that, he got into the car and drove away.

======

MacGyver watched as his arc enemy drove off up the road.  As soon as he was out of sight, he signalled it was safe for the women to join him.

“Was that guy for real?” Helen asked and added as she saw the coach was missing, along with its passengers.  “Where’s the coach?”

“Your guess is as good as mine,” Mac told her as he looked up the road.  “Perhaps that was a tractor you heard.  Maybe he towed them out of here.  Who knows?  You alright Ruth?” he asked as he saw how pale she was.

“That awful man wants to kill you,” she answered quietly.

“I know,” he answered gently, aware she was shaking like a leaf.

“Right then, what are we waiting for?  Let’s go,” said Helen as she pulled her mother by the sleeve with one hand and pulled MacGyver by the sleeve with the other.

“Go where?” he asked, surprised at how strong she was.

“Back to the village.  To get the police.  That maniac has to be stopped,” she told him dragging them further along the road.

“I can’t,” he answered pulling his arm free.  “I have to go and see what he is up too.”

“Well it’s pretty obvious to me what he’s up to.  He wants to kill you,” said Helen.

“I know that,” said Mac.  “He’s been trying to kill me for years.  He’s put me in the hospital a couple of times, but I’m still here.  As you can see.”

“Put you in the hospital a couple of times?” said Ruth appalled.  “This Murdoc has put you in the hospital a couple of times.  This is crazy.  Helen’s right.  We go to the village and get the police.”

“No.  You two go.   I have to see what he’s up too,” he told them.

“Why?  Why do you?  What’s the point?  He’s going to try and kill you,” Helen said angrily pulling him by his sleeve again.

“Please Helen,” Mac said releasing his sleeve from her grasp.  “Take your mother and go to the village.  You can send help from there.  I need to see what all this is about.”

“As Helen just asked,” Ruth answered looking up at him.  “Why?”

“Because I know Murdoc.  I should do by now.  He implied I’d lost something.  It has to be important or he wouldn’t have said it,” Mac told them both gently.

“So?” said Helen impatiently.  “So what?  Let him have it, whatever it is.”

“I can’t do that,” Mac answered, feeling like the conversation was going around in circles.  “Look ladies I know you mean well but Murdoc and I go back a long way.  If he says he has something I’m missing then it must be something important.  I can’t think of anything I’ve lost.  I have to go and find out what it is.  Don’t you understand?”   They both shook theirs heads.

“You go back to the village, get help.  I’ll be fine,” he told them as he walked away.

“Just don’t be surprised if the police turn up here and arrest me instead.”

They didn’t move.

 

“Please Ruth, please take Helen and go.  This guy is crazy,” he told them.  “He’ll do anything to get too me.  Use anyone, even you, if he gets his hands on you.  You have to go to the village.  You’ll be safe there.”

“What do you think mum?” Helen asked ignoring what he’d said.  

“Well I think you’re right dear,” Ruth answered looking at Mac.  “He’s totally insane.

But if he thinks for one moment that we are going to leave him here alone, when he’s still sick, with this Murdoc person after him, he’s sadly mistaken.”

“Helen Please,” said Mac realising he was losing the argument.

“Lead on,” Helen told him waving him forward.  “Wither thou go, we will go.  Isn’t that right mother?” she asked.  Ruth nodded her agreement.  

“Ok Musketeers, let’s go,” she said as she stepped into the field.

Realising he had lost.  That he didn’t stand a chance up against these two women Mac smiled and followed her into the field, beyond which they could see a wood.

“See, that wasn’t so hard, was it?” Helen asked him as if he were a small child.

“Ok then,” Mac said as Ruth caught them up.  “But only as far as those trees.  No further.  Promise me you’ll stay hidden in those trees, that you won’t do anything to draw Murdoc’s attention.”

“But,” said Helen stopping and looking at him, her arms folded defiantly.

“Ruth?” asked Mac.

“Well, maybe...” Ruth answered her arms folded like her daughter’s.

MacGyver looked at them.  “Promise,” he said sternly. “Promise or we go nowhere.”

 

“Oh alright,” they said together.  “We promise.”

“Good,” he answered as he continued walking.  “Honestly women,” he muttered under his breath as he walked along rubbing his arms, as they were cold.  “I never have trouble with animals, cars, computers, anything to do with machinery.  No trouble at all.  But women, God!”  He carried on walking shaking his head.

“I think he’s a bit upset,” said Helen as she walked alongside her mother.

“Never mind dear, he’ll got over it, men always do.  They have to put on this big brave front, it makes them feel good, but he’ll be fine.” Ruth told her smiling.

“When you are right mother of mine, you are most definitely right,” Helen said.

“In what way dear?” Ruth asked as they caught him up.

“He just doesn’t act the way he looks,” she said grinning.

“Do you two mind?” Mac said as he continued walking.  “You’re giving me a complex.  Just to those trees.  You promised, remember.”

=======

As soon as they entered the small wood, MacGyver stopped and looked at the ladies expectantly.

“Here, you stay here. Ok?” he said.

“Well stay right here in the wood,” Helen answered.

“Right then,” smiled Mac as he handed them the coat.  “No noise and don’t let Murdoc see you.”

“Yes dad,” said Helen smiling as he walked away.  “We stay in the wood and we don’t make any noise.”

MacGyver gave them a second look as he walked away, not sure, they were going to stick to what they had promised.  They waved as he turned, then he walked on.

=======

“Now what can I do with these?” he said aloud to himself as he took out the computer discs he was carrying.  “Ah, just the place,” he said. “No way I can miss that.  Better than a sign post.”  Putting the discs safely in their hiding place, he walked on rubbing his aching arms and kicking himself mentally for forgetting the water bottle. 

 

A bit further in he could see through the trees into the adjoining field.  He stopped.  A building, he could see a building.  A large barn about 12 yards from the edge of the trees.  Well he thought it was a barn.  It didn’t have any windows, none that he could make out.

“Now what?” he thought to himself as he looked around. 

 

Then he saw Murdoc as he stepped from the other side of the barn.

“Here we go,” Mac said aloud as Murdoc indicated he should follow him and then disappeared behind the barn again. 

“Glad to see you took up my challenge,” said Murdoc as Mac came around the front of the barn and saw him standing by his car.

“Well you didn’t leave me much choice did you?” Mac answered as he moved quickly towards the man and came face to face with the P50 automatic weapon.

“Now, now, let’s not forget who has the weapon around here,” Murdoc told him, smirking as he did.

“So you got me here.  Now what?” Mac asked, tired of the game already and wanting to sit down.

“Patience, patience,” Murdoc told him.  “No rush is there.  You don’t have an appointment or anything like that do you MacGyver?  Nothing to rush home for?”

“Will you please get on with it,” Mac told him angrily.

“Oh by the way,” Murdoc said waving the gun in his face.  “What happened to those two women you were supposed to have gone off with today?”

Mac didn’t say a word, just glared at him.

“The passengers, the coach passengers, they told me you’d gone off with two American women to get some water.  I was just wondering what happened to them,”

“They decided to walk to the village, where the coach driver went.  I didn’t feel up to it.  I haven’t been well, as you noticed.  It was too far.  I was returning to wait at the coach with the other passengers,” Mac answered, hoping his voice didn’t betray anything.

“Just curious old man, just curious,” Murdoc said.  “Shall we get on with it then?”

“Please do,” said Mac sarcastically.

“Well, as I said on the road back there.  I want those discs, just as a bonus of course and I know you’re not about to hand them over,” Murdoc told him smiling.  “So I thought you might like to swap them for something you may think of as having a much higher value.  To you that is.  Not to me of course.”

Mac stared at him.

 

“The passengers old boy.  The passengers from the coach.  I’m sure you, being you, think of them as worth more than a couple of computer discs. Yes? No?  For goodness sake MacGyver, say something.  Do you want to give me the discs or not?”

“For the passengers?” Mac asked.  Murdoc nodded.  “In exchange for the passengers? You want me to believe that you have the passengers from the coach,” said Mac.

“Exactly,” answered Murdoc smirking again. “Didn’t you realise they were missing?”

“No I didn’t,” said Mac.  “So where are they?  I don’t see them.”

“Of course you don’t see them,” answered Murdoc.  “Unless you’ve developed x-ray eyes while you’ve been sick.  But they are close, very close.”

“Where?” asked Mac, his voice showing his annoyance.

“As a matter of fact they’re right there,” answered Murdoc pointing to the barn.

“You’re telling me that you’ve got the passengers from the coach in that barn?” Mac asked and began walking towards it.

“Oh I wouldn’t get too close if I were you MacGyver,” Murdoc advised him.

“Why not?” asked Mac, stopping as he did.

“Because it’s wired, that’s why,” Murdoc answered proudly.

“It’s.  You’ve put explosives in the building?” asked Mac.

“Not actually in the building, more like on the building, around the building,” Murdoc answered as he watched him carefully.

 “Just my little game.  Just a game of give and take.”

“What are you Murdoc?  Some kind of sadistic madman?” shouted Mac angrily. 

“Now, now, careful MacGyver,” said Murdoc. “You may upset me.”

“Upset you, upset you,” Mac continued shouting.  “What’s wrong with you?  Those people have nothing to do with me.  Let them go.”

“Can’t do that,” Murdoc answered.  “Well I can, strictly speaking of course.  When you give me those discs.”

“Alright, alright,” MacGyver answered.  “I’ll give you the discs.  Just get those people out of there.”

“Ok, give me the discs,” said Murdoc.  “Now MacGyver, I haven’t got all day.”

“You don’t think I’d be stupid enough to carry them on me do you?” Mac asked.

“No I didn’t think so,” answered Murdoc.

 

MacGyver turned and began to walk away.

“Where do you think you’re going?” Murdoc asked, poking the gun in his back.

“To get the discs,” Mac answered.  “Where the hell do you think I’m going?”

“Just hold it right there,” Murdoc told him angrily.  “Don’t move or I will shoot.”

“I thought you wanted the discs?” Mac said angrily.

“Oh I do, I do, but as I’ve already told you.  They’re just a bonus in my little game. The biggest part of my game is you.  You see I don’t just want to kill you, well I do, but shooting you?  Now where’s the fun in that?  I could have shot you down on the road.  In fact I could have shot you a couple of times over the last few days.”

“Then why didn’t you?” Mac asked.

“No sport in it old man.  No challenge?” Murdoc said.  “No satisfact...”

He didn’t have time to finish the sentence because MacGyver spun round knocking the gun from his hand then dived at him.  The two men hit the ground and a violent struggle took place.  Mac pulled him to his feet and swung with his right.  Although landing Murdoc full on the chin, the punch was landed at half the strength it would normally have been and Murdoc barely moved backwards.

“What’s wrong MacGyver?  No strength.  Is that the best you can do?”

Mac swung another punch but using both hands this time, both hands clenched together to make one large fist and putting his full weight behind it he knocked his opponent to the ground where the man lay still.  The force he had to exert in order to knock Murdoc out sent MacGyver crashing to the ground as well.  Getting to his feet, he staggered slightly as he looked down at him.  Then picking up the gun, he went to the edge of the trees and with all his strength threw it and then returned to the barn.

“Hello,” he shouted loudly.  “Anyone in there?”  The only sound he could make out were some faint rustling noises.  “Hello in the barn,” he called again.  Still no answer.  “This is ridiculous,” he said aloud.  “Why don’t they answer?”  He moved to the far side.  Still no windows.  “Each wall.  He’s wired each wall.” He said as he moved completely around the building.  “Where’s the detonator?”  Then he heard something.

 “Hello,” he called.  Still no response.

“Right let’s take a look at these wires.”  As he got close to the wall, he heard the rustling noises again.  “Perhaps he told them not to speak or it would set off the explosives.  Just the sort of thing that madman would think of,” he thought to himself. 

He examined the explosives on the wall where he was standing and drew in a deep breath.  “C4.  How am I supposed?”

Going back around the barn to the large front door, he passed the prone body of Murdoc without even noticing it, or noticing the fact the man was moving slightly.  He stopped and examined the explosives.  The detonator attached to the blocks of C4 strapped to the chain and padlock on the door were familiar to him, he had seen this detonator somewhere before.  Attached to the detonator was a timer clock showing the exact amount of time he had left before the whole thing blew.  

“Five minutes, five minutes before it detonates.”

MacGyver knew there was no way he could remove the detonator without setting it off, so he followed the wires around the building in the hope there was a way of removing the other explosives.

“Murdoc you mad...” he stopped.  The car.  He heard the car start up.  Running back around the barn he was just in time to see him drive away across the field.

“God!” He said as he looked at the timer that showed less than five minutes.  “This is impossible.  Crazy, he’s just crazy. Wait!” he said aloud.  “Wait, I know this, I know this detonator.  Easy now Mac,” he told himself.  “Think just think for a moment.” 

It was no good, his mind refused to function properly.  It wasn’t the stress of the situation, he’d been in stressful situations before, he was used to stress.  No, something else was happening to his exhausted body.  Sickness; sickness was stopping his mind functioning properly.  He looked frantically around.  More rustling noises.  He was sure he heard a child.  Was it a child?  He couldn’t decide. There it was again, faint noises from inside the barn.

========

As with most virus’s the patient often suffers a relapse if not enough rest and care is taking during the recovery process.  The virus within MacGyver was no different.  He had been on his feet for far too long for someone not fully recovered and the added stress he was under caused it to once more surge through his system. 

========

“Not now” he shouted inside his head as it began spinning.  “Please not now.”

He could see his hands shaking as his eyes blurred.  “Steady Mac, you’re alright. Just take a deep breath and...  God I wish my hands would stop shaking.”  He drew back from the timer for a moment trying to remember. 

“White Cloud. White Cloud,” he muttered, as a memory flashed into his mind.  “Counter pin, I need a counter pin.”  He looked frantically around.  Two minutes, only two minutes left.  Then he saw it.  A pigeon’s feather.  Just off to one side.  Bending down to pick it up he almost toppled over as he stood up again.  “Steady Mac, steady,” he thought to himself as he looked down at the timer and the detonator. 

“Keep calm, keep your hands... One minute, one minute to go.”  He was shivering now, cold and hot and shivering. 

“No!  I have to keep my hands steady,” he yelled inside as he could see the feather moving in his trembling hand.  But it was no good.  He was shivering so much he couldn’t insert the stem through the hole where the original pin had been. Everything seemed to be happening in slow motion. Everything that was, except the indicator hand on the detonator as it moved relentlessly around the beaded circle.

 

Voices, he heard voices. Ten seconds.  He tried desperately once more but his body was shaking so badly there was nothing he could do to stop it.  Taking a deep breath, he tried again.  Still no good.  Five seconds.  He had no choice but to run. 

“I failed.  All those people are going to die because I couldn’t keep my hands steady.  My fault, it’s my fault,” his mind screamed accusingly at him as he tried to get away, tried to run but in his weakened state only managing to get a few feet away by the time the hand switched off the last red bead and the first explosion happened. He turned as it did and saw the wooden structure of the building explode in a sheet of flame that lifted the roof high into the air as he was blown off his feet.  He thought he heard someone call.  Then he was hit by flying debris from the roof as it crashed down onto him.  Before he lost consciousness he saw what was left of the barn disappear completely as it dissolved into a mass of smoking flame.

“How long do you think we should stay here?” Helen asked her mother as they sat on a fallen tree waiting for MacGyver’s return.

“We promised Helen,” Ruth answered looking at her daughter.

“We only promised to stay in the trees.  We didn’t promise to stay right here, on this spot.  If we’re careful we can move to the other side without being seen.”

“Oh I don’t know Helen,” said Ruth scratching her head and standing up.

“Look mother, you started all this you know.  Why do you have to take pity on every sick person you bump into?” her daughter asked as she also got to her feet.

“Me.  Well I like that,” answered Ruth her hands on her hips and glaring indignantly.

“What about you.  Every sick and stray animal...”  Helen interrupted.

“Of course I look after sick and stray animals, I’m a vet and I’m married too a vet.  It goes with the territory.”

“Not when you were little it didn’t,” Ruth answered laughing.  “I bet we had more animals in our house when you and your brother were small than they had down at the local zoo.”

“You exaggerate mother, we only had a few animals.  We didn’t have that many,” protested Helen.  “And you are as bad as the both of us when it comes to animals.

“A few?  That’s a laugh,” Ruth paused.  “I surrender,” she said laughing.  “When it comes to sick people or animals we just can’t help ourselves.”

“This is true,” said Helen smiling.  “So what do we do about MacGyver?”

“We go!” they both said together.

=======

“I can hear shouting,” Helen said as they moved as quietly as possible in the direction he had taken.  They stopped, not really sure if it was safe to go on.

“No it’s not shouting, it’s someone talking, listen.  That sounds like him.”

“Well don’t just stand there move,” her mother told her as her stomach curled itself into a knot.  The kind of knot she wanted to forget.

“What’s wrong?” Helen asked as she stopped.

“Panic attack,” answered Ruth as she bent over.  “It’s Ok; I can handle it, just keep going.  I’m alright.”

Helen looked at her mother’s white face and the admiration she felt for her increased in leaps and bounds, knowing what she was going through.

“Did you hear a car?” Ruth asked as she gasped for breath and fought to control the terror in her mind.  “I thought I heard a car.”

“Nearly there now,” said Helen pointing ahead.  “I can see some kind of building. Mum look.”  She pointed down and Ruth saw the weapon MacGyver had thrown into the trees.  Moving forward carefully, she picked it up.

“I can hear him speaking again,” said Helen, as they ducked down.

“Yes I can hear him too,” answered Ruth breathlessly, her voice shaking.

“But where is he? I can’t see him.”

“He must be around the other side.  Perhaps we should...”  Helen didn’t finish what she was saying because they both saw him as he emerged from in front of the barn.

“What’s he running from?” she asked as the first explosion stopped any reply that Ruth was about to give and they watched in horror as the roof rose high into the air on a funnel of flame.

“MacGyver” shouted Ruth as she saw him thrown violently backwards and realised the descending debris from the roof was about to land on top of him.  “Mac look out!”

Helen pulled her mother back as the woman made to run out of the trees.

“Mother wait!” shouted Helen as the final explosion blew the remains of the building into a mass of smoke and flames.

“Careful Helen,” Ruth told her daughter as they lifted the smouldering planks off MacGyver.  “Try not to move him.”

Helen nodded her face white as they cleared away the last of the wood.  “He’s hurt bad mum, real bad.”

“Help me with my backpack dear,” Ruth told her as she knelt beside him.

“My first aid kit is in there.”

“I’ll never say another word against this backpack of yours,” Helen said as she took the pack and rummaged inside for the first aid kit.”

“It’s alright,” Ruth told MacGyver as he opened his eyes as she began to clean the blood from his face.  “Lay still, we’re here, just lay still.”

“People,” he said his eyes almost closed, “people in the barn, explosion. People in the barn.” He began coughing and she saw him cringe in pain. .

“What’s he talking about?” Helen asked looking towards the remnants of the still burning building.

“People,” Mac said trying to get up.  “My fault, my fault, people...”

“Do you hurt anywhere else?” Ruth asked as she heard him fighting for breath. “Mac do you hurt anywhere else besides your head?” 

“Chest,” he moaned hugging himself. “Chest hurts.  Ruth there are people in the barn.  Help them...Failed.  My fault...” his eyes slowly closed as he repeated.  “My fault.”

“God mum, what people, what’s he on about?” Helen said looking in horror towards the smoke and flames.

“I don’t know dear but we have to get him inside,” her mother answered as she examined him.  “I think he’s busted some ribs, but I can’t be sure.  Helen!” she shouted as she became aware her daughter was standing in shock still staring at the flames.  Helen! Listen to me.  We have to get him out of the open.  It’s going to rain.  We have to get him inside.”

“What?” Helen answered shaking herself back too the moment.  “Inside where?”

“The farmhouse of course,” answered Ruth as she covered MacGyver with the drivers coat she’d rolled and was carrying on top of her backpack.

“Mum he looks awful,” Helen said as she looked down.  “What farmhouse?”

“The one over there,” Ruth answered gently touching her daughter’s arm and pointing.  “There’s obviously nobody there.  See if you can find something we can carry him on.”

“How do you know there’s nobody there?” Helen asked as she watched her mother place a large plaster over the cut on Mac’s forehead.

“Wake up Helen,” Ruth answered loudly.  “If there was anybody there don’t you think they would have noticed their barn blowing up?”

“Yeah, sorry mum,” Helen answered.  “Wasn’t thinking.  I keeping wishing this is a bad dream and I’m about to wake up in a moment.”

“Helen please,” Ruth said gently.  “See if you can find something we can put him on or in, anything.  We need to get him to the house before this storm descends on us.”

“Right mum.  You going to be Ok?” Helen asked looking around worriedly.  “What if that Murdoc character turns up?”

“We’ll deal with that if it happens,” Ruth told her as she pushed the last of her panic attack to a bearable level.  “Right now we need to get him to some shelter.”

 

“I won’t be long,” Helen told her as she moved away and began running towards the distant farmhouse.

“Oh and Helen,” Ruth shouted after her.  “Keep your eyes open for Murdoc.”

“You too,” Helen answered as she kept on running.”

Although Ruth tried not to worry as she saw her daughter disappear behind the farmhouse, she couldn’t help herself.  Mac opened his eyes as she waited and she smiled reassuringly.  He tried to say something and then his eyes closed again.

========

The flames from the remains of the barn were down to mostly smoke by the time she saw someone moving away from the farmhouse.  The figure looked peculiar.  But she was relieved to see it was Helen as it came closer.

“What on earth is she riding?” she said aloud to herself and watched fascinated as her daughter got nearer and nearer and waved as she saw her watching.

“What the heck is that?” she asked as she got off the bicycle.

“It’s a man’s bike,” Helen answered puzzled.  “Lucky I’m wearing trousers.

“No that!” her mother said pointing at what was attached to the back of it.

“Oh clever yes?” Helen asked.  “You said find something we could put him on.  I found this old bicycle in an outhouse.  There are several small buildings, stables I think, the other side and I found this in one of them. It’s perfect.”

Ruth didn’t speak, just shrugged her shoulders.

“I saw it on that TV programme that Jeffrey used to watch all the time, when we were kids.  You know that one where that guy does all that stuff to help people.”

Ruth shrugged her shoulders again and brushed some dirt off her own slacks.

“You remember,” Helen told her as she took the bricks from off the cart she’d strapped to the back of the bike.  “Jeffrey would watch his programme one week and I would watch Lassie the following week. You liked that actor in it and dad used to get jealous. What the hell was that guy’s name?” she added, handing her mother a blanket and trying to take her mind off the awful situation she hoped was just a bad dream.

“We used to argue all the time because you said one TV was enough.”

“I remember that dear, they were on different channels at the same time,” Ruth replied, “but Helen, where did you get this blanket from, it smells clean?”

“From the farmhouse.  I broke in,” Helen replied her face going red.

“You broke in?” her mother asked, her voice showing her disbelief.

“I had too,” she answered.  “You said to find something to put him on or in.  Well I found the bicycle and this, whatever it is.  Must have been used to pull along bails of hay or something, that’s why it has wheels and I knew it would do just fine to carry him, as long as I could weigh it down with something so it didn’t toss around.”

“Helen!” Ruth said knowing her daughter was trying to change the subject.

“It’s Ok mother.  The farm is up for sale,” Helen answered as she looked down at MacGyver.  “There’s a big sign outside.  I think it’s being sold lock stock and barrel, because when I looked through a window I could see furniture, things like that.  So I broke one and climbed in to look around.”

“You broke a window?” Ruth said her voice showing her shock.

“Well how were you intending to get in?” Helen asked her hands on her hips.

“I hadn’t even thought about it.” Ruth answered. “I suppose I was just a little taken aback, but how are we going to get him onto that cart?  He’s not exactly your average size, is he?”

“That’s what the blankets for,” Helen told her smiling.  “We get the blanket under him and then we can take a couple of corners each and lift.” 

“You clever girl,” Ruth answered proudly.  “Where did you get...?  Don’t tell me.  I think I’ve guessed it.  From Jeffrey’s favourite programme.  Right?”

“Right first time mother dear,” Helen laughed.  “I wasn’t aware I’d taken that much notice of it at the time, but for some reason it keeps popping into my head.”

“I’m glad it does,” Ruth told her as she opened out the blanket. “Jeff will be pleased.”

By the time they’d placed MacGyver onto the cart, along with the rest of their things, including the gun, the storm clouds were almost completely covering the sky.

“Not so fast,” Ruth told her daughter as the cart bounced along the dirt track.  “Careful Helen.”

“I’m sorry mum,” she answered. “I’m doing my best.”

“I know you are dear,” Ruth said as she walked alongside the cart trying to hold Mac’s unconscious body still.  “I’m just concerned about his ribs.  Broken ribs can puncture a lung remember.”

“Not far now,” said Helen as they came around the front of the house.  “How is he?”

“Not good,” Ruth answered as the cart came to a halt.

“Remind me again will you?” Helen asked as she opened the door she’d left unlocked.  “Why are we helping this guy?  I mean we don’t know anything about him.  He could be a dangerous killer.  Perhaps he’s some kind of spy.  I mean you heard them talking as we got closer, something about computer discs.  Yep. I bet he’s a spy.”

“Well I’m sure he’s one of our spies, if he is one, that is.  But it doesn’t really matter at the moment does it?” Ruth said as they lifted the blanket and carried him inside. 

“It matters if he’s one of their spies,” Helen told her indignantly. “They’re the bad guys, remember?”

“Bad guys, Helen really,” Ruth replied as she struggled to keep hold of the blanket.

“Yes mother, bad guys,” her daughter said as they entered the kitchen area staggering slightly.  “That door at the back.  I found a bedroom there.  Must be the parents room.  I’ve already cleared away the dustsheets and made it ready.  Lucky it’s a double bed.  This guy is almost a giant and boy, is he heavy.”

“You never cease to amaze me,” Ruth told her daughter as they put Mac down on the bed.  “How’d you get to be so organised?  You weren’t organised as a child.”

“David taught me,” Helen answered, giving her mother a quick kiss on the cheek.

“Well let’s get his jacket off so I can have a proper look at those ribs,” Ruth told her.

“His head’s bleeding again,” Helen said as they tried to get his jacket off without jerking him about too much.

“Yes, well the cut is very deep.  Steady Mac,” Ruth added as he opened his eyes.

“Just trying to get your jacket off to make you more comfortable.”

“Ruth the barn,” Mac said, his face showing the pain he was in as they removed his jacket and made him lay back down.  “I have to get to the barn.”

“I’d like to see you try,” Helen told him smiling.  “Now that would be interesting to see.  At the moment Mr Spy, you can’t even sit up.”

 “What makes you think I’m a spy?” Mac asked gritting his teeth as Ruth examined his ribs. “That hurts!” he said, clenching his fists tightly.

“Well aren’t you? Helen asked, trying to distract him from the pain.

“You could say that, yeah I suppose you could say.  God Ruth, don’t...” he gasped, as his eyes rolled and he passed out.

“Sorry Mac,” Ruth apologised. “I didn’t mean to...”

“Mother be careful,” Helen shouted.  “For goodness sake be more careful.”

 “I’m being as careful as I can dear,” Ruth answered as she covered him over and looked at the cut on his forehead. “I had to check properly.  As far as I can tell, he has a couple of broken ribs on one side and I suspect some cracked ones on the other. I just hope there’s no internal bleeding, but I can’t tell, not yet anyway. We’ll need to find something to strap his ribs.  I don’t suppose you saw any bandages or running water while you were nosing around?” She paused as Helen passed her the first aid kit.  “Spy indeed!  What on earth possessed you to say that too him?”

“I was trying to take his mind of you torturing him,” Helen replied indignantly.

“But he is a spy, I just know it,” she muttered under her breath.

“As for water?  There’s one of those old-fashioned water pumps in the kitchen but I couldn’t get anything out of it when I tried earlier and there are some sheets in a large box upstairs.  We could tear them into strips.”

“I don’t suppose the owners will mind if we tell them why,” said Ruth.

“That’s the spirit mother,” Helen said handing her mother the first aid kit.  “We can always leave some money behind.  I saw a Well near one of the stables.  I’ll see if I can get some water from it.  Hey, mum.  Just like in Little House on the Prairie.”

“I’m beginning to think I let you watch far too much television when you were younger,” Ruth laughed, then frowned. “Helen don’t forget...”

“I know,” Helen shouted back as she left the room.  “Watch out for that Murdoc character.”

=========

It was raining heavily by the time Helen Quinn came back into the farmhouse, soaked to the skin and carrying a bucket of water.

“I’m not sure which is wetter, this bucket or me,” she told her mother as she put it in the sink.   “I’ll get some more later.  It’s lightening out there and you know me and lightening,” she added.

“Why don’t you use the pump?” asked MacGyver as he stood at the kitchen door.

“What are you doing up?” Ruth asked as she got a chair and made him sit down.  “You should be resting.”

“No, I’m fine Ruth,” Mac answered, grateful for the offered chair.  “Thanks to you two.  I’m beginning to wonder how I ever got on without you.”

“If you carry on like this all the time Mr Spy,” smiled Helen as she hunted for something to dry her hair with.  “I’m amazed you’ve lived to be as old as you are.”

“Not so much of the old,” Mac said.  “So why don’t you use the water pump?”

“I tried earlier,” Helen answered, as she discovered a cupboard containing some hand towels.  “I couldn’t get it to work.”

“Let me have a go,” Mac told them as he got gingerly to his feet.  “I’m pretty good with things like this.”

“Engines and now pumps.  You’re quite the handyman,” Ruth told him as she came up to him and folded her arms.  “However, until I’ve strapped those ribs, you’re not doing anything.  So sit down, please.”

“Is she always this bossy?” MacGyver asked Helen as he sat down again.

“You have no idea,” Helen answered.  “Well I’m off upstairs to see if I can find something to wear while my clothes dry.  These people seem to have left loads of stuff behind.  Perhaps they left some clothes as well.” 

As she moved away, the room was lit up by several flashes of lightening followed almost immediately by a loud clap of thunder.

“MacGyver what’s the matter?” Ruth asked as he she saw him go rigid and a strange look appear on his face.  A look of sheer horror. 

“Mum what’s happening?” Helen asked as she too saw his reaction to the lightening.

“Mac, what is it, what’s wrong?” Ruth asked again as he drew back away from her.

“Explosion,” he answered as his mind replayed the images of the barn blowing up.  “My fault. My fault, I can’t do it.  They’re in the barn they’ll die.  It’s my fault.” 

“Why is it your fault?”  Ruth asked as she tried to make him focus on her.  “Mac look at me.  Who was in the barn?”

For a moment, he continued to see the burning barn, then the image dissolved and he saw Ruth’s face and tried to get to his feet, but she stopped him.

“Tell us,” she said her face white. “Helen get him some water.”

Helen opened the cupboard where she knew the cups were, filled one and handed it to Mac.  They could see his hands shaking as he held it.  After taking a drink, he looked at both women and they saw him shudder.

“The people from the coach,” he told them as Ruth began to tear the sheets she’d found into strips.  “Murdoc said he’d put the people from the coach in the barn.”

“What for?” Helen asked dumbfounded.  “What would he do that for?”

“He said they were the thing I was missing and he would exchange them for some computer discs I have.” Mac answered. 

The women waited while he hugged his painful ribs as he coughed.

“He’d wired the barn with explosives and the timer was already running when I found it.  I tried to stop the detonator with a feather.”  He paused as he saw their puzzled faces.  “Tell you later,” he said.  “The detonator...” he stopped and swallowed hard.

“Just take your time,” Ruth told him as he took another drink.

“I couldn’t do it,” he told them, his face showing the horror he felt at the memory.  “My hands kept shaking.  The virus, I couldn’t keep them still.  I couldn’t get the feather inside as a counterbalance.  I kept trying, but I just couldn’t stop shivering....” he stopped.  “I could hear them; I could hear movement inside the barn.  The child, I thought I heard the little girl...”

He stopped as his mind brought the images again. “I failed, they’re dead. My fault.”

“It wasn’t your fault,” Ruth told him as she laid a gentle hand on his shoulder. 

“It was Murdoc’s fault.  He’s the one too blame, not you.”

MacGyver shook his head.  “No it’s my fault.  I’ve done it before.  I should have been able to do it.  If it hadn’t been for me, Murdoc would have let them go.  I should have taken the discs with me.  I knew he wanted them, but he also wanted to watch me squirm first trying to turn it off.  It’s the way he is, sadistic.  Don’t you see?” he asked quietly.  They shook their heads in response to his question. “I’d knocked him out.

I couldn’t turn it off, but he could have.  I should have given him the discs straight away.  It’s my fault.  Those people are dead and it’s my fault.”

 

By the time he’d stopped talking, Ruth was fighting off another panic attack and both women were almost in tears, though trying not too let him see it.

“Right,” she said taking control of the situation as the lightening and thunder continued to roll across the sky and the rain poured down outside.  “Let’s get those ribs strapped.  Helen you get upstairs and find something to wear or wrap yourself in until we can dry your clothes.  Then you, Mr Spy, as Helen keeps calling you.  You see if you can fix that pump so we don’t have to get water from outside, but slowly mind, or it’s straight back to bed with you. You shouldn’t have been up in the first place.”

“Yes mum,” both he and Helen said at the same time.  Then Helen laughed and Mac laughed hugging his ribs, which eased the feeling of sadness in the room.

“Go!” Ruth shouted kindly at her daughter.  “It’s bad enough with this walking disaster, without having you on my hands with a chill as well.”

 

“What?” Ruth asked Mac as Helen went upstairs and she saw him looking at her.

“You really are the kindest women I’ve ever met,” he told her as she began to strap his ribs with the strips of sheet making him cringe at the pain it caused.

“Oh tish tosh,” she answered, her face showing how embarrassed his comment had made her.  “I told you before, I’m a nurse.  Still more than that, I’m a mum.  It’s our job looking after you youngsters when you get yourselves in a mess.  It’s what we do. I have to say it though, you’re worse than my son Jeffery for getting into trouble.”

By the time Helen came back downstairs dressed in clothes that were much too big for her, Ruth had finished strapping Mac’s ribs and he had taken the pump apart and was looking at it. They both laughed when they saw what she was wearing.

“It’s all I could find,” she told them as she came over to see what they were up too.

“Well they are a bit long,” Ruth said as she watched her daughter with amusement.

“Whoever owns these clothes must be a giant,” Helen said pulling up a chair and sitting down to watch.  “I mean I’m not exactly little, neither are you and Mr Spy here, well he’s almost a giant.  I mean no disrespect by saying that,” she told him.

He looked at her with a puzzled expression on his face.

“I don’t understand,” he said frowning.

“Which bit,” she asked.  “The giant or the disrespect?”

“Both,” he answered as he continued to put tape around the end of the pipe.

“Umm,” she said scratching her head and refolding the sleeve that had fallen down and was now covering her hand.  “In the Bible it mentions that the fallen angels came to earth and their children grew into giants, Nephilim they were called.”

“And?” asked Mac.

“Well that means the only giants to live on the earth, were fallen angels.  Bad guys.

So to call someone a giant is a bit of an insult really,” she told him grinning.

Mac looked at Ruth questioningly and she raised her eyebrows.

“Don’t look at me,” she told him smiling and handing him some more tape.  “I’ve no idea where she gets this stuff from.  Probably a television programme.”

“Well it’s true,” Helen muttered under her breath. “What are you doing?” she asked.

“When you pull down the pump handle it’s not creating a vacuum,” Mac told her getting up as he did and walking to the sink.  “So I’ve put something around the end here to make it air tight.  Hopefully,” he added placing the piece in his hand back inside the pump itself, “if you two can push it down tight enough while I replace the screws, hopefully it will work.  If I’ve got out all the wrinkles that is.”

Ruth watched as her daughter pumped the handle up and down and Mac made sure the screws were tight.  At first, it made a clanking noise, then a gurgling sound.

“It works,” Helen exclaimed in disbelief as water gushed from the pipe.

“You clever old thing.”

“Hey, I said not so much of the old,” Mac told her as he sat down exhausted.   “It’s bad enough you think something’s wrong with the way I look, without the old.”

“Well I think you’re a genius,” Ruth told him as she rummaged through her backpack.

“I suppose being a spy you have to be a bit on the clever side?” Helen commented as she watched her mother.  “What are you looking for now?” she asked.

“I’ve got some sandwiches in here somewhere.  I don’t know about you two but I’m starving and I’d love a cup of tea.”

“Coffee mother, I’ve told you, American’s drink coffee, not tea,” said Helen.

“I don’t....” Mac’s voice trailed off as images flashed into his mind.  Images of explosions and smoke and the sounds of a child.

“Mum it’s happening again. Look!” Helen shouted.

“It’s alright Mac,” Ruth told him as she saw the look on his face.

“Look at me,” she told him gently.  “Mac focus on me, listen to my voice.  “That’s it,” she said as he blinked and screwed his eyes tight shut, then opened them again.

“My fault,” he muttered his eyes glazed and staring.  “My fault.”

“Please do something!” Helen pleaded as she watched his look of horror.

“Help him mother; you’ve got to help him.”

“I killed them Ruth, I killed them,” he said as the pictures in his mind faded.

“You didn’t kill them,” Ruth told him gently.  “Murdoc killed them.”

“How is he?” Helen asked as her mum came back into the kitchen area.

“He’s sleeping, for the moment,” Ruth replied sitting down exhausted.

“It’s what kept happening to you after dad was killed, isn’t it?”  Helen said her voice full of concern.  “I saw it on his face.  He’s having flashbacks.” 

Ruth nodded. “We’ve got to get him to a hospital,” she added quietly.

“I know Helen,” Ruth answered.  “You’ve been busy,” she said as she watched her daughter strike a match and light an old-fashioned lamp she’d placed on the table.

“Well the storms gone, but it’s still raining hard and it’s getting dark,” she answered looking at her mother with concern.  “I found these in the cellar.  It’s through that door.”  She pointed to a doorway Ruth hadn’t even noticed.  “There’s all sorts of stuff down there.  Look what I found as well.  A primus stove and a gas cylinder to work it.  Now if you dig down in that faithful old backpack of yours I’m sure you’ll find some teabags.  I know you have some because I saw them when I got out the first aid kit. Then I’ll make you a nice cup of tea.”

“You are an absolute wonder,” Ruth told her daughter as she got up and began searching through her backpack.

“Get it from my mum,” Helen smiled as she lit the primus stove she’d placed on top of the cooking range.

“I didn’t know you could...” Ruth paused.  “Another TV programme I take it? You learned how to do it from another TV programme?”

“Nope, same one.  Jeffrey’s favourite.  Now what is the name of that programme? Weird title.  I have no idea why it keeps popping into my head.  It just does.”

They both looked up as they heard MacGyver shouting.  Ruth reached him first and Helen came up behind carrying a lamp. 

“It’s Ok,” she told him.  “It’s just a nightmare.  Lay down and go back to sleep.  It’s just a nightmare.”

“My chest,” he muttered as he lay down. “My chest hurts.”

“I know,” she said as his eyes closed and his face relaxed.  “Go to sleep now.”

=======

“We’ve just got to get him a doctor,” Helen said as they came back into the kitchen. 

“Are you sure it’s safe to leave that lamp in there?”

“It’s well out of harms way,” Ruth answered as she placed a pan of water on the primus stove then looked at her daughter as she took a packet of biscuits from her backpack.  “Ok, out with it my girl.  I know you, what’s on your mind?”

“In the morning I’m cycling to that town, the one 20 miles away and I’m getting a doctor and the police,” Helen replied.  “No milk I’m afraid.”

“At the bottom dear, several packets of dried milk,” Ruth said sheepishly.

“Might have guessed,” Helen laughed.

“I’m not sure about the police though,” she told her daughter.

“What do you mean not sure about the police? Of course, I’m getting the police.  That maniac killed all those people.”

“Remember what MacGyver said,” answered Ruth. “He said we shouldn’t be surprised if the police arrested him.  He’s obviously not telling us everything.”

“That’s because he’s a spy mum.  I’ve told you that.  They’re probably looking for him for spying.  But we have to tell the police about Murdoc.”

“We’ll see,” Ruth replied taking the water off the stove.  “After all...”

“After all what?” Helen asked.”

“After all dear, MacGyver is an American and one of the good guys.  We don’t want him getting arrested do we?”

“I don’t believe that just came out of your mouth,” Helen told her shaking her head.

It hadn’t been daylight for very long before Helen began making her preparations to cycle to the town.

“At least my clothes are dry,” she said.  “Did you get any sleep at all?” she asked.

“Enough,” Ruth answered as she got up from the mattress they’d placed on the floor in the kitchen so they could hear MacGyver if he called.

“Well he only woke up once while I was down here,” Helen told her.  “Did he wake up when you took over from me?”

“Twice,” Ruth answered as she lit the primus stove.  “But he seems to be sleeping peacefully now.”

“Good,” said Helen.  “Have you decided anything about telling the police yet?”

“I think we should let Mac decide,” her mother answered.

“Mac decide what?” MacGyver asked as he came slowly into the room.

“There’s just no keeping you still is there?” Ruth laughed, indicating he should sit down.  “How are you feeling?”

“Better, a lot better,” he answered.  “Thirsty though.”

“Tea?” Helen asked.   Mac looked surprised.

“Mum’s faithful ole backpack,” Helen told her smiling.

“I’ll have some water,” he said as he got up to go too the pump.

“I’ll get it,” Ruth told him.  “You sit down.  Boy what a fidget you are.”

“He’s worse than Jeffrey,” Helen said as she put a pan of water on the primus.

“I told him that yesterday,” answered Ruth.

“Ok ladies.  Let Mac decide what?” he asked.

“I’m cycling to that town 20 miles up the road to get you a doctor and to bring the police back here,” Helen told him.

“Err Helen, I don’t think the police are a good idea, not right at this moment,” Mac told her as he took the drink from Ruth.

“Why not?” Helen asked suspiciously.  “They’re looking for you aren’t they?”

“Yes,” Mac answered.

“See I told you he was a spy,” she told her mother.

“I wished you’d stop calling him that,” Ruth answered.  “Why Mac, why will the police arrest you if she brings them here?”

“Because they think I killed a man in Gorky and Murdoc told them I’d killed another man as well.  Just to keep me running,” Mac answered.

“And did you?” Helen asked.

“Helen!” Ruth shouted.  “Don’t be so rude.”

“No I didn’t,” he answered.  “I’m not a killer.”

“I’m glad to hear it,” she told him as she made her mother some tea.

“And besides that, they may arrest you two as well,” Mac informed her smiling.

“That’s ridiculous,” Helen told him angrily.  “Why would they arrest us?”

“I think he’s talking about a little matter of breaking and entering.  Destruction of private property,” Ruth added highly amused, “and goodness knows what else.”

“Umm, hadn’t thought of that,” Helen answered handing her the tea.  “So now what?  We have to get you to a doctor and we can’t let that man get away with mass murder.”

“What about your friends?” Ruth asked.  “Can’t they come and help?”

“Yes they can, but it will take them at least a day to get here,” Mac answered.

“Right then,” Helen said getting to her feet.  “When I get to the town I’ll hire a car.”

“Where’s your passport?” Ruth asked her.  “You left it on the coach remember?”

“You know I had to show my passport when we hired that car the other day.”

“Ok then, I’ll steal a car,” Helen answered raising her eyebrows.

“Helen Joanna Quinn, I’m ashamed of you for thinking such a thing,” Ruth told her. 

“Oh mother calm down,” Helen told her grinning.  “Only if it’s the last resort.  I do know how.  It’s just a matter of touching the blue and red wires under the dashboard and you’re in business.  Alternatively, perhaps you should go, you do speak Russian and you also have your passport with you in your backpack.  No one is going to suspect a nice little old American lady is up to no good.”

“Have you noticed the way she keeps using that word ‘Old?’” Ruth asked Mac.

“However, you forget one thing, Miss I’m going to organise the world,” Ruth told her as she sat down.

“What’s that?” Helen asked.

“I can’t ride a bicycle,” she answered.  “And how do you know how to start a car without a key?  Don’t bother,” Ruth, told her.  “I think I can guess.”

“So now what do we do?  Any ideas?” she asked Mac.

“Well as you said without her passport she won’t be able to hire a car.  So I think it’s best she rings my friend Marcus, tells him about Murdoc and what’s happened and asks him to come and get us,” MacGyver answered.

“Then what?” Helen asked.

“He gets us to Finland and then home,” Mac answered looking at her strangely.

“What’s this ‘gets us’ business?” Helen asked noticing the look he gave her.

“Well you’ve lost your passport the same as I have, how exactly were you intending to get back to the States?” he asked.

“The American Embassy,” she answered.  “There has to be one in Leningrad.  I’ll just tell them what happened to my passport, that it was left on a coach and ask them to get me home.  After all,” she continued, “the police aren’t looking for me are they? Though I think if we stick around with you much longer they will be, so it should be all right.  We don’t have to give them any details; just it got left on a coach.”

“Then what?” Ruth asked.  “What about Murdoc and all those people he killed?”

“We ring the police anonymously from the Embassy and tell them about the barn and who we think is responsible and leave it for them to sort out.”

Ruth looked at MacGyver and he smiled.

“Some imagination you’ve got there,” he told Helen.   “Where’d you...?”

“Don’t ask,” Ruth told him hurriedly. 

“Well it could work,” he said taking her advice and stopping Helen before she had chance to tell him what programme she’d got it from.  “We can give it a try.  With me in this condition there’s nothing else we can do.  We can’t exactly hitchhike.”

========

One hour later, after a breakfast of biscuits and the odd stale sandwich, MacGyver and Ruth watched as her daughter cycled away down the farm road towards the main road.

“I do hope she’s going to be all right,” Ruth said.

“She’s very resourceful,” he told her.”

“Yeah I know,” she answered.  “She had to be I’m afraid.  After my husband was killed, she took over all the arrangements.  Our son Jeffrey was devastated by his father’s death and found organising things too painful.  Helen did everything.”

“What does you son do?” Mac asked.

“He’s a movie stuntman,” she answered. “Travels all over the world. He was always throwing himself around the house and thinking up dangerous things to do when he was young.  He’s broken more bones that I’ve have hot dinners.  But he loves it.” 

Mac smiled.  “Quite a family you’ve got there,” he commented as he walked to the side of the farmhouse. 

“Yes I think so,” she answered. “Where are you going?”

“I thought I’d go take at look at the barn,” he answered.

“Err I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Ruth told him as she grabbed his arm making him flinch.

“Why not?” he asked.

“Well for starters you have no idea what you are going to find over there.  I know you want to go see for yourself, because your mind wants it all to be a mistake, that it didn’t really happen.  I tried that when my husband was killed.  I wasn’t ready for it.  It was too soon.  That’s when I had a breakdown.”

Mac looked at her strangely. “Ok maybe you’re right, but I need to retrieve those computer discs, I hid them in the wood.  What?” he asked as she stood staring.

“I was just wondering what this Murdoc character did with the coach,” she replied looking towards where the barn had once stood.  “It must be way overdue at its next pickup point so they must be out looking for it by now,” she answered.

“He would have dumped it,” Mac told her his face taking on the strange look again.  “All those people are missing so I expect the police will turn up here eventually.  Perhaps Helen will hear something in town,” he added.

“I suppose so,” Ruth answered as she noticed the look on his faced and frowned.  “Right you tell me where you put the discs and I’ll go get them. You’re in no...”

“Mac what’s the matter?” she asked as he looked towards the shape of what was left of the barn in the distance.

“Nothing,” he answered, though she knew he was lying.

“Well, while I’m getting the discs perhaps you can see if you can find anything to eat in the house, but be careful, no rushing about.” she told him.

=======

Ruth didn’t think there was any food in the farm as Helen had already looked, but she thought it best he kept his mind occupied while she went to get the discs.  She had the awful feeling that something was happening with him.  Something going on in his head besides the flashbacks and the mental trauma.  It made her shudder when she thought about it, but she couldn’t quite put her finger on what it was.  She stopped for a moment and looked back.  He was still standing where she left him, watching her.

“Well I’m not going too close to that barn.  I’ll go through the wood here,” she said aloud as she turned and gave him a wave.  He waved back and then she saw him go around to the front of the house.

=======

“Oh very clever,” she said aloud to herself.  “He’s quite the resourceful young man.  What a great idea.” She stepped back as she spoke.  “A tree house.  An old tree house.  Must have belonged to the children who once lived on the farm. 

“Now where?  Oh there it is,” she said as she pulled on the rope that began a small bag descending from up above.  “Just like the tree house Helen and Jeffrey built.  It’s even got a food carrier.”  She opened the bag and took out the two computer discs tucked safely away inside, then turned and made her way back to the farmhouse.

========

“Mac!” she called as she stepped back inside the house.  “I’ve got them. Mac?  Where the hell is he?” she asked herself as she entered the back bedroom.  “Mac!  What are you doing?”  He didn’t answer, just stood staring down at the gun he was holding.  Murdoc’s gun.  He looked up at her with a glazed look on his face. 

“Give me the gun,” she told him as she took it out of his hands.  “Nasty things guns.  I’ll just put it back in the cupboard out of harms way.”

“It’s Ok Ruth,” he told her.  “I don’t like guns either, in fact I hate them.  I was just a bit surprised to find it here that’s all.”

“Helen found it in the wood,” she told him as she left the room with it.

“I found some tins of soup,” he told her as he watched her put the gun away.

“That’s good,” she answered, aware the strange look was back on his face. 

“You don’t have any soap in your trusty backpack do you?” he asked.

“As a matter of fact,” she laughed.  “Could do with a wash myself.”

“Well I’m going to have a shave,” he told her.

“How?” she asked.

“I’ll use my penknife,” he answered as he lit the primus stove. 

“You didn’t watch that programme that Jeffrey used to watch as well did you?  What was the name of it?  I can see the guy now.  Real cute he was,” she said smiling.

“I don’t think so,” he answered. “It’s alright; I’ve done it before,”

“Well try not to cut your throat.  I can’t stand the sight of blood,” she laughed.

“I’m off for a short nap.  Call if you need me.”  

He nodded.

=========

“My legs are going to make me pay for this tomorrow,” Helen told herself an hour and a half later as she peddled into the town.  “Not to mention my poor backside.  Now let’s find a telephone booth.  There has to be one somewhere,” she said aloud as she got off the cycle.  “Lucky MacGyver’s friend speaks English. Now I wonder?”

“Excuse me,” she said to an old gentleman walking past.  “I don’t suppose you speak English do you?”

“As a matter of fact I do,” he answered smiling.  “I learnt it after the war.  How can I help you?”

“Oh thank goodness,” Helen said.  “First I need to make a telephone call and then I need to find a drug store, you know a chemist.”  The man gave her a worried look.

“Are you ill?” he asked.  “Only there has been a lot of sickness around.”

“No, I’m Ok, but a friend of mine isn’t too well; I need some medicine for him.” 

The man smiled and gave her the directions she needed. 

“I hope I have enough change in my pocket for this phone call,” she said as she stepped inside the booth and dialled the number that MacGyver had given her.  She could see the old man watching as she made the call to Marcus and gave him a small wave.  He waved back and continued on his way.

“Our first bit of luck in days.  That is brilliant,” she said aloud as she came out of the booth.  “Now where is this ‘they have everything’ drug store he told me about?  He said it was just up here.  Boy, this place is busy.  Must be market day or something.”  She stopped. “Here’s the store.  Not too busy thank goodness.  I hope they have something for aching legs and sore bottoms.”

 

It didn’t take her long to find the things she needed, chatting away to herself as she did.  “Some bandages to strap Mac’s ribs and sticking plaster.  Painkillers.  Tea, coffee, some balm for my aching legs and sandwiches, loads of sandwiches.  Our second bit of luck. This shop is like a small hardware, grocery shop,” she said aloud, not realising someone had been watching and listening to her every word. The shopkeeper put the items she’d bought into a bag for her as she tried to work out how much money to give him and then giving up, loaded her hand with coins and held them out to him, hoping it was enough.  He smiled and began counting the money.

“I don’t believe it.  It can’t be!” she said at the top of her voice as she looked out of the shop window.  “It is; it is,” she shouted excitedly grabbing the items she’d bought and rushing from the shop, leaving behind an astonished shopkeeper holding out her change.

“Americans” he said aloud, “Americans are just crazy people.”

“MacGyver!” Ruth called as she came downstairs.  “Mac!”  There was no answer.

“Now where is he?” she said aloud as she checked in his room.

“Oh please don’t say he’s gone...”

It was then she heard a crashing noise from down in the cellar and headed for the door.  Down at the bottom of the steps she could see him struggling to get to his feet.

“What happened?” she asked as she went down to help him.

“Another one of those dam flashbacks,” he told her.  “I walked straight into the wall. All I could see was that barn on fire.  Nearly knocked myself out.”

“You are definitely worse than Jeffrey,” she told him as she sat him carefully down on a chair stored there.  “Let me look...”

“I’m alright,” he told her, pulling away. 

“I’m sorry I hurt you yesterday,” she said.  “I had no idea; I didn’t mean to push down so hard.  I’ll be more careful, I promise.”

“No really, I’m fine,” he told her.  “Or I will be when these flashbacks stop.”

“Well mine took ages,” she told him as she helped him to his feet.  “It wasn’t until I came to terms with what happened that they began to fade.  But it takes time.”

“Yeah, well something has to be done about Murdoc,” he told her, a look of extreme anger crossing his face.  “It’s one thing his coming after me every chance he gets, but...” he stopped talking and his face eased.  “Have you ever noticed,” he said changing the subject.  “How stairs always look steeper when you’re injured than when you’re fit?”

“Yes I have,” she answered, upset that he wouldn’t let her help him.  “Just go slowly.”

“Shouldn’t Helen be back by now?” he asked as they reached the kitchen.  “As far as I can tell she’s been gone five hours. I hope she didn’t try to steal a car like she said and got herself arrested.”

“I wish you hadn’t said that,” Ruth told him as she put some water on to boil. 

“Just joking Ruth,” he told her.

“Well I must say you look better after a shave.  Not so...Never cared for face fungus myself.  Yep you look a lot better now.”

“Face fungus?” he laughed.  “I’ll think I’ll sit out front and wait for Helen,” he told her heading towards a chair.  “Get some fresh air.”

“Leave it!” she said loudly.  “I’ll get the chair. You make the tea.”  He stopped.

“Do you carry everything in that backpack?” he said, as she picked up the chair and headed for the front door.

“A habit I picked up from my husband when we used to go fishing.  Took everything but the kitchen sink.  Just in case, he used to say,” she answered.

“I like fishing myself,” he told her as she came back inside for another chair.

“We all used to go,” Ruth said. “Jeffrey enjoyed fishing and Helen was in her element chasing rabbits and trying to make friends with any wildlife we came across.  Used to give me heart attacks she did, but they never hurt her.  She has a way with animals.  She’s a vet, so is her husband.  Me I used to sit and enjoy the peace and quiet and watch the water.  I did try once and I actually caught a fish.  Then I got so upset that the hook was hurting it; my George never let me try again.  We had some fun though.”  Her face showed the joy and the hurt she was feeling at the memory.

“Well I think I’ll stick to water for the moment,” he said watching her as she picked up the second chair.  “I’m sure Helen’s fine.  In fact I think the police are more in danger from her than she is from them.”

“Oh goodness!” Ruth said looking worried.  “That programme Jeff used to watch had people shooting guns.  She wouldn’t, would she?” she asked.

MacGyver shrugged his shoulders and winced.

“Can you hear a car?” Ruth asked an hour later as they sat outside the farmhouse.  “I’m sure I can hear a car.  Oh she didn’t, please say she didn’t.”

“I can hear it too,” Mac said, getting to his feet.  “And it’s coming this way.”

Then they could see it as it came around the bend.  A pickup truck heading towards them fast.  Just before it reached them, Mac recognised the driver.

“Murdoc!” he said loudly.  “Ruth get in the house.”  She got up and went inside.

“Well, well, well,” said Murdoc as he got out of the truck and slammed the door behind him, aiming a gun at MacGyver as he did.  “I knew I should have gone back to check that you were actually blown up.  But there didn’t seem much point at the time.  Looking for bits of you lying around all over the place wasn’t my idea of fun.  I see you didn’t come off unscathed though.  You look worse than the last time I saw you.”

MacGyver didn’t answer, just stared at him.

“Where are they?” Murdoc asked loudly.

“Where are what?” Mac shouted back angrily.

“The discs.  Now don’t tell me you’ve forgotten our bargain.  You owe me the computer discs.  You obviously didn’t stop the barn blowing up, so I win.” 

As Murdoc spoke, Mac moved threateningly towards him.

“Stay right there,” Murdoc said as he aimed the gun.

“You murdering son of a ...” MacGyver uttered, as he kept moving.

“I said stay there,” Murdoc interrupted firing a shot that narrowly missed him.  “Honestly MacGyver, you surprise me, using such language in front of the ladies.  Oh yes sorry, I forgot,” he added moving towards the rear of the truck.  “You are always losing things.  I’m always returning the things you’ve lost.”  As he finished speaking, he let down the tailgate on the truck and came back towards the house dragging Helen with him, her hands tied and her mouth taped.

“Helen!” shouted Ruth as she saw through the window what was happening and came running out the front door.

“I thought the other one was around somewhere,” Murdoc said sarcastically.  “You know MacGyver you always seem to find women to help you.  Every time I try to get rid of you, some female turns up to take care of you.  You attract them like a magnet.”

“You let go of my daughter,” Ruth yelled at him.

“Gutsy too.  Now I see where this one gets it from,” said Murdoc smiling. 

“Madam, if you would care to throw me one of those chairs I’m sure your daughter would like to take the weight off her feet.”

Ruth picked up the chair and was just about to throw it at him when he stopped her.

“I wouldn’t contemplate it if I were you dear lady.  I don’t want to have to shoot.”

Ruth tossed the chair towards him.  Then keeping a careful eye on her and MacGyver he dragged Helen towards it and sat her down.

“Right, now let’s get down to business shall we?” he said looking at them both.

“I have what you want and you have what I want.  A fair exchange,” he grinned.

“Oh and MacGyver, would you please ask your lady friend to stop looking at me as if I were some kind of a monster.  I’ve been getting the same looks from her daughter here. What have you been telling them about me?”

“If you think for one moment I am going to...after what you did,” said Mac quietly.

“You have no choice old man,” Murdoc answered.  “What’s wrong MacGyver?  Not used to failure?  Always the winner.  You think you can do anything.  Not this time you couldn’t.  I heard the explosion and saw the barn go up before I left. So I win.”

“You maniac,” Mac answered as images flashed into his mind almost knocking him off his feet.  “You killed them, you killed those people.”

“Not me MacGyver,” answered Murdoc.  “You. It was you who killed them.  I gave you every chance. But no, you just had to be the hero.  You failed and they died.  Now give me those discs or your precious friend here joins them.”  As he stopped speaking, he pulled Helen to her feet and turned her sideways revealing the explosive device he’d attached to her back and then sat her down again.  “Just a little incentive.  It’s not activated, not yet you understand, so let’s get this sorted and we can all be on our merry way.”

“You’ll let us go?” Ruth asked disbelievingly.

“You have my word,” Murdoc answered.

 “MacGyver too?” she asked. 

“Well it goes against my better judgement dear lady, but yes, MacGyver too.  I can always catch up with him again later and at the moment, let’s face it.  It wouldn’t really be a victory, not with him in this sorry state.”

“I don’t believe you,” Ruth answered as she saw the strange look back on Mac’s face. 

“Ask him, ask your new friend.  He knows.  I always keep my word, don’t I MacGyver?” said Murdoc.  “In my own way I always keep my word.  He’s very quiet,” he added looking at him.  “Perhaps a little brain damage from the explosion.”

“You expect me to hand over those discs and let you walk away, with the blood of all those people on your hands,” Mac said moving forward again.  “Forget it Murdoc.  This time you’ve gone too far.”

“I don’t think so,” Murdoc told him aiming the gun straight at him.  “As I’ve already told the lady.  You give me the discs and I give you Helen.  Fair exchange.  If you want to keep the discs, I pull the pin and well, let’s face it.  You failed before, what makes you think you’ll succeed this time?  The choice is yours.”

MacGyver didn’t move, didn’t speak.

“Oh I know what you’re thinking,” Murdoc told him mockingly.  “You’re thinking you’d be able to get the device off her before it goes off.  But why take the chance? Come on, it’s no big thing.  Just give me the discs and I leave the pin where it is.  It’s better for you.  Better for me and if she could speak, she’d agree it’s better for her. 

It’s a shame I had to shut her up but you should have heard the names she kept calling me.  Honestly, Helen’s mother, you would have been ashamed to hear the things your daughter called me.  I’m crushed that she thought so badly of me and we’ve only just met,” he said as he pushed Helen forward so he could reach the explosives.  “What’s it to be.  Discs or daughter?  Daughter or discs?  It’s up to you.” He paused. “Oh do come on, I haven’t got all day you know.”

“How comes you’re still around?” Mac asked.  “I thought you’d be long gone.”

“Just tired old boy.  What with all the excitement and rushing around.  Thought I’d take a day off.  It was sheer chance.  Now where are those discs?”

“I’ll get them,” answered Mac, his voice shaking with anger.

“No I’ll get them,” Ruth told him moving towards the house.  “You keep an eye on this maniac.”

“That’s a good idea dear lady.  You get the discs and you stay where I can see you.”

A few moments later Ruth reappeared carrying two discs and Murdoc walked forward to take them from her outstretched hand.  As he did so he moved in front of Helen and unknown to him, she pulled her legs back and then kicked out, catching him in the back of his knees and sending him crashing forwards down onto the ground, the force knocking the gun out of his hands and towards MacGyver, who bent down carefully and picked it up.

“Get up Murdoc,” he told him firmly.  “But move anymore and I swear I’ll shoot you.”

“You, shoot me?” Murdoc said smiling, as he struggled to his feet.  “Now that would be a first.  Come on MacGyver, you know it’s just not in your blood.  You couldn’t fire that gun if your life depended upon it.”

“I mean it Murdoc,” Mac told him his face showing the horror he felt as images filled his mind.

“Go on then fire!  Go on!” Murdoc shouted, confident he wouldn’t.

 

MacGyver did just that.  He pulled the trigger.  Sending a bullet into the ground directly in front of Murdoc making the man freeze, more in surprise than fear. 

“Move over there,” Mac told him his face taking on a glazed far away expression as he indicated where Murdoc should go.  “Ruth untie Helen and be careful with those explosives.”

“I told you to move over there!” Mac shouted at Murdoc.  “Now move!”  He fired the gun again and this time the bullet hit the ground just in front of his feet.

“Just calm down,” Murdoc told him as he moved in the direction indicated.

“Hold it right there,” Mac said.  “I said hold it!” he shouted as Murdoc went to move again and this time the bullet he fired did not hit the ground, it hit him in the arm.

“Ok, ok,” Murdoc told him as he reeled back under the shock, holding his arm.

“Mac are you alright?” Ruth asked as she carefully untied her daughter’s hands and then began to pull the tape off her mouth, jumping as each shot was fired.

“MacGyver?” she said again.  He didn’t answer, just stood glaring strangely at Murdoc.  “Mac what’s wrong?” she asked as she began tearing off the tape that held the explosives in place.  Still he didn’t answer, just continued to glare.

“Mum, he’s having one of those flashbacks,” whispered Helen as she watched him.

“What’s wrong with him?” Murdoc asked the panic in his voice now apparent.

“This is your doing,” Ruth told him as she at last freed her daughter from the explosives, her hands shaking. “Those people died and he blames himself.  Look at his face.  You did that.”

“But he didn’t,” Murdoc said.  “I didn’t.  Nobody died.  I swear nobody died.”

“You’re evil,” Mac said as he advanced on the man trying to see him more clearly through the flashes of memory.  “You killed them.  They were innocent.  Why did you do that?  What is wrong with you?  I don’t understand.”

“I didn’t.  They’re not dead,” Murdoc yelled, backing away from the angry figure of MacGyver.  “Tell him, you’ve got to tell him,” he shouted at Helen.

“You killed them,” Mac continued, his mind playing again the scenes of the explosion as he fired another bullet into the ground making Murdoc stand still.

“I didn’t, they weren’t there.  Tell him!” he yelled at Helen.  “For Gods sake tell him they’re not dead.” 

Mac fired again, closer this time.

“I heard them, I can hear them now,” Mac answered, as he tried to take a grasp on reality but the images filled his head once more.  “You don’t deserve to live.  You’re an animal, no worse.  Animals only kill to live; you kill because you enjoy it.” 

He fired again.  This time the shot caught the end of Murdoc’s shoe.

“Why should I tell him?” Helen said as she watched him. “You have no idea what he’s been going through thinking he failed those people.  Failed a little girl who was kind to him when he was sick.  He’s right, you deserve...”

“What does this man mean they’re not dead?  How do you know they’re not dead?” Ruth asked her daughter. “Look at his face, oh God Helen; I’ve seen that look before. 

On the face of the man who killed your father.  He’s losing control.  If they’re not dead, tell him.”

As Helen hesitated for a moment Murdoc made to move towards the truck and MacGyver, responding to the sudden movement, sent a hail of bullets into the ground in front of him.  He froze.

“Tell him!” he yelled at Helen.  “He’s crazy.  You have to tell him.”

“He’s telling you the truth MacGyver,” Helen told him gently.  “I saw them, they’re alive. They’re all alive.”

“No, he killed them,” Mac said moving again.

“He didn’t.  They’re alive.  Mac please listen to me,” Helen begged.

 

For a moment, he hesitated as his mind caught some of what she said, then the images closed in and he lost his hold on reality once more.

“Murderer,” he said as he fired towards the blurred figure of Murdoc. 

“No Mac don’t,” Helen, pleaded.  “I swear to you, they’re all alive.  I saw them in the town; they’re waiting for the coach to be repaired.  I even saw the woman and little Sonya.  She’s been looking after my bag for me, waiting for us to get to there. They said a man told them he was going to pick us up.  They have been waiting for us.”  She stopped speaking, as it became obvious MacGyver wasn’t hearing her, the look on his face growing angrier by the minute.

“Listen to her!” screamed Murdoc as he leaned against the truck.  “She’s telling you the truth.  What you heard must have been the rats; there were rats in the barn.”

“Murderer,” MacGyver uttered again and fired once more, the bullet hitting the bonnet of the truck this time and missing him by inches.

“MacGyver you hate guns, you don’t use them.  Stop shooting.  I didn’t kill those people.  You didn’t kill those people,” Murdoc shouted desperately.

As he caught some of Murdoc’s words, MacGyver tried to clear his mind, to take control.  Just for a moment, he succeeded and then he raised the gun once more.

“Mac don’t do this,” Ruth’s quiet voice cut through the memories crowding back. ‘Sounds and rustlings’.  “Listen to Helen,” she continued gently. “You didn’t fail those people.  They weren’t in there.”  She saw him blink hard and then he glared back at Murdoc.  More memories, ‘a child’s doll, a woman’s kind smile.’ He moved.

“No Mac, no!” she said stepping into his line of fire.  “He’s not worth it.  Listen to me; he’s just not worth it.  Please don’t,” she held up her hands to stop him. 

“Ruth,” said Mac, as his mind cleared and he saw her.  “Ruth get out of the way.”

“Why?” she asked.  “So you can kill him, shoot him in cold blood, is that what you’re going to do?  Helen told you.  Those people are safe.”

“And that makes it right?” Mac asked as he fought for control. “Every time he’s tried to kill me it’s involved someone innocent.  It has to stop Ruth, it has to stop.”

“I know,” she said holding out her hands for the gun.  “But not like this, not his way. Give me the gun. You hate them remember. Don’t let him make you like he is.  You’re our friend; we want you to stay the way you are, if you do this dreadful thing it will change you, you’ll never forgive yourself.”

For a moment, he stood rigid and then she saw the look of hatred ease from his face as he focused fully on her, then he smiled as reality returned and stayed.

“It’s Ok Ruth,” he said.  “I’m Ok.  I’m not going to shoot.  I’m alright.”

“You’re sure?” she asked, not moving.  “You promise?”

“I promise,” he answered.

“Thank God,” she said as she moved to one side.

“MacGyver look out!” Helen shouted as she saw Murdoc lunge towards him.

Her warning came too late.  Murdoc despite his injured arm slammed into MacGyver with all the force he could muster and the two men hit the ground. 

Pain shot through MacGyver’s ribs as he hit the ground and then lashed out; the movement only proving to anger Murdoc more and he caught him on the chin with a right hook.  Mac’s head hit the ground and the world began spinning.  Murdoc struggled to his feet and looked towards the fallen weapon, but before he had a chance to move, Helen stopped him.  “I wouldn’t touch that if I were you,” she said as she came out of the house carrying the other gun. “Don’t even think about it.”

“And who’s...” Murdoc looked up and saw the weapon pointing straight at him. 

“I think I can guess where you got that from,” Murdoc said grinning at her.  “And you want me to believe you’d actually fire it.  After all those things your mother said.”

“I’m a vet,” she told him her voice cold and stern. “When I see a sick animal that needs to be put out of its misery, I don’t usually hesitate and you Murdoc are about the sickest critter I’ve ever come across.  So get away from that gun or I’ll shoot.  I don’t intend to kill you, but there are certain areas of your body that make a fine target, if you get my drift, and I never miss.  When it comes to target shooting, I’m the best, even better than my brother is. Ask my mother.  Now move away!”

Murdoc looked at her for a moment and then down at MacGyver who was trying to get up, then he turned and ran for the truck.  Jumping in he reversed quickly almost knocking into Ruth as he did, then he spun it around and took off up the dirt road.  “Leave him Helen,” Ruth told her as she aimed the gun at the truck.”

“But mother,” Helen said as she lowered the gun, disappointment in her voice.

“Your mum’s right,” Mac said as he straightened up.  “He’s not worth it.”

“You alright?” Ruth asked him anxiously as she reached his side.

“I think I busted another rib,” he answered, the pain showing on his face.  “You two ladies are really something, do you know that?”

“I had a good teacher,” Helen answered proudly putting her arm around her mother.

“Are you sure those people are Ok?” MacGyver asked as he hugged his painful ribs.

“Yep, saw them in town.  I’m guessing it was that Murdoc creature who arrived with some fuel for them.  They assumed the driver had telephoned and he’d come from the depot to fix the coach.  He chatted while he did, asking about you.  They told him we’d gone with you to get some water and he said he’d pick us up.  At least that’s what I gathered from two of the men from the coach who could speak a bit of English.  He must have followed me.  He drove me off the road...  It’s all right mother,” she said as she saw her face. “I paid for the truck.  I didn’t steal it.”

“Let’s get you inside,” Ruth told MacGyver, “before you hit the deck again.”

As they walked towards the house, there came the sound of a distant explosion.

 

“What the hell was that?” Helen asked as they looked at the smoke rising from somewhere on the main road.

“Ruth, what did you do with the explosives?” MacGyver asked curiously.

“I threw them in the back of the truck as he was leaving,” she answered innocently.

“You threw them in the back of the truck?” MacGyver asked hugging his sides.

“Yes,” she answered.   “Mind you this thing got caught.”  She showed them a ring with a long pin stuck on her index finger.

“Ruth, that’s the detonator pin,” MacGyver told her.  “You blew the truck up.”

“Oops,” answered Ruth her hand covering her mouth.

“Oops,” said Mac trying not to laugh.  “Oops?”

“There’s a car coming this way,” Helen told them worriedly.

They watched anxiously as it pulled up in front of them before they could move.

“Is that any way to greet a friend who has driven all these miles to rescue you?” Marcus asked as he got out of the car and found himself staring at a gun.

“I can’t believe the trouble you managed to get yourself in,” Marcus told MacGyver as they drove past what was left of the truck.

“I nearly drove off the road when it exploded just before I reached it, but I did see a guy jump out and get in a car parked along the roadside just before it blew.”

“So Murdoc’s still alive then,” Ruth said quietly.  “I suppose the saying is true.  The devil certainly takes care of his own.”

“So that was Murdoc,” Marcus said.  “He’ll try again, you know that don’t you Mac?”

“Yeah I know,” answered MacGyver winching as they hit a bump in the road.

 “At least you had these nice ladies to take care of you. You alright in the back there?” Marcus asked.

“I just hope the owners of that farm understands our note,” Ruth told them, not wanting to think of Murdoc anymore.

“Oh mother stop worrying,” Helen told her.  “We left them all the money we could scrape together and we cleaned up.  They’ll understand.  If they don’t they can hardly come looking for us can they?”

“That’s not the point dear.” Ruth answered.  “Mac you alright?”

“Just trying to stop my maniac friend here from busting any more of my ribs with his awful driving,” he answered.  “How come you’re here anyway Marcus, how did you know where to find us?”

“I told him,” Helen answered.  “When I rang his house I spoke to his wife and she said he’d already decided to meet the coach and take you off it. She said he was well on his way and should reach us sometime today.  I told her where he could find us.”

“I got the shock of my life when I rang from the town and Helga told me what had been happening,” Marcus laughed.  “Typical MacGyver.  Master of chaos.”

“Well he needs a doctor,” Ruth said, “so stop picking on him.”

“First we’ll drop you two off in town,” Macgyver told the women, “then...”

“Oh no you won’t,” Helen answered.  “I’ll pick up my bag from the coach depot and then we’re coming with you.  I want to make sure you don’t get yourself in any more trouble.”

“I don’t have a passport Helen,” Mac answered.  “Marcus has other ways of getting me to Finland.”

“As far as the border then Mr Spy,” Helen told him sternly. “As far as the border.

========

3 Weeks Later

 

“It’s nice to see you,” Helen told MacGyver as he stood at her front door.  “Don’t just stand there man, give me a hug,” she said throwing her arms around him. “Ribs still sore I see,” she said, as he gasped in pain.  He nodded.

“And just what’s going on here wife?” asked her amused husband as he came up behind them.

“Oh leave off David, this is MacGyver,” she said smiling.

“Well I gathered that,” David answered shaking Mac’s outstretched hand.  “So you survived your encounter with my wife then?”

“Barely,” Mac answered laughing.  “She’s quite formidable.”

“You’re telling me,” David said.  “Well come in, come in.”

“Where’s Ruth,” Mac asked.  “Is she any better?”

“She’s getting there,” she answered.  “She had another panic attack after I spoke to you yesterday, that’s why I’m insisting she stays with us for a while, till they settle down again.  But she’ll be fine.  She’s in the lounge reading and cuddling our dog. He’s better for her than any medicine.  I’ve kept your arrival as a surprise.”

“Who was that at the door dear?” Ruth asked as Helen came into the room.

“Someone to see you mum,” Helen answered as she beckoned Mac into the room.

“Well just look at you,” Ruth smiled, putting the small Cairn terrier down onto the floor and getting to her feet.  “Don’t you scrub up nicely?”

“Mother really,” said Helen.  “What a thing to say.”

“It’s true,” said Ruth.  “Not bad, not bad at all.  If I were twenty years younger...”

“Mother!” Helen said, shocked.

“Oh lighten up,” Ruth told her.  “David sort your wife out.”

“She’s your daughter,” he answered, “I just took her off your hands.”

 “Well don’t just stand there Mac, where’s my hug?” Helen asked smiling.

“Ribs still painful,” she said as he gave her a hug.

“Just a bit,” he answered, as she disentangled herself from him and wiped the tears from her eyes.  “Helen tells me you’ve been unwell since you got back.”

“Talking about me behind my back aye?” said Ruth pretending to be put out.

“No seriously Ruth, I’m sorry I got you involved in all that business,” he said as she indicated he should sit down.

“Oh tish tosh,” she answered picking up the dog and sitting down with it on her lap.

“I’ll be fine.  Oakey here will make sure of that.  Won’t you Oakey?” she said hugging the small animal.  “Well?  Was I right?  Two or three broken ribs?”

“Three,” he answered.  “Though I think it was two until Murdoc sent me crashing to the ground, that’s when it became three, one of the cracked ones broke.”

“Right mother go get yourself ready,” Helen told her, interrupting them.

“Ready for what?” Ruth asked.

“We’re going out for a meal.  I’ve laid your best suit out so off you go.”

“Been plotting behind my back has she?” Ruth asked David as she got to her feet.

“Don’t look at me,” he told her in his own defence.  “It’s these two and a friend of his, they’ve been whispering over the telephone for three days.”

“We’re going for a meal and then I’m taking mum to meet someone.  MacGyver’s friend Pete helped me arrange it,” she told him.  “Mac doesn’t know anymore about it than you do, so stop stirring it.  Mother go get ready and don’t forget to put some perfume on,” she shouted as Ruth left the room.

“Helen,” Mac said as she sat down opposite him.  “It’s been driving me crazy.  How on earth did Murdoc find out where we were and that I wasn’t dead, any ideas?”

“Oh that,” answered Helen.  “I think that was my fault.  I was trotting around a store getting the things we needed and I was talking to myself, a habit when I’m shopping, I hate shopping.  I vaguely remember seeing him in there and I think I said bandages to strap Mac’s ribs with, or something like that.  He said that when I rushed from the store, when I spotted Sonya and her mother outside with some of the others, he followed and listened.  I told them you were still sick and we’d join them shortly.  He ran me off the road just before I got to the farm.  Honestly, does that guy always carry explosives around with him?” she asked.

“Usually,” MacGyver answered.  “Well don’t you look nice?” he said, getting to his feet as Ruth came back into the room.

“Thank you,” she answered.  “Now where are we going?”

“Don’t be so impatient woman,” said Helen smiling. “What I want to know is how Mac here got out of Russia?”

“Trade secret,” he answered.

“You mean spy stuff,” said Helen. “Talking about spy stuff, it’s a shame Murdoc got away with those discs.”

“But he didn’t dear,” Ruth told her.

“Yes he did mother, perhaps you forgot.  You gave them to him, remember?”

“No I gave him two computer discs, but I didn’t give him Mac’s discs.”

Ruth answered smiling secretively.

“I saw you,” MacGyver told her, intrigued by the look on her face.

“As I said, I gave him two computer discs, but they won’t do him any good.  Not unless he has a passion for the story about Tsar Nicholas and his family, oh and about cooking for the beginner, which I was bringing back for Helen.  She’s a darling girl, but unless it comes out of a packet or a tin, she has nothing to do with it.”

“I’m not that bad,” Helen protested loudly.

“So if you didn’t give my discs to Murdoc, where are they?” Mac asked.

“Right here in my purse,” Ruth answered proudly.  “Does this make me a spy do you think?” she said opening her purse and handing them to him.  “That’s why I said I’d get the discs.  I was carrying the other two in my faithful old backpack.”

“Why you sneaky old thing,” Helen told her laughing proudly.  “What a spy.”

“Well I think this man has been a bad influence on you two,” David told his wife.

“Oh yes Mac, I remembered the name of that programme, the one that was giving me all those ideas,” Helen said proudly ignoring his remark as Mac took the discs and gave Ruth a kiss on the cheek.  “You know the one with that actor that makes mum go all sparkly when she sees him on TV.”

“I do not,” Ruth protested her face going red, “and she didn’t remember at all.  We hadn’t been back five minutes and she was on the telephone to Jeffrey.”

“Yes you do go sparkly.” Her daughter laughed.  “Boy was dad jealous of that guy.  Anyway, it was because of Murdoc I started remembering bits of it.”

“Why’s that?” Mac asked as he noticed Ruth’s red face.

“Because of the name.  Not the name of the character mum likes, but another guy in the programme.”  They waited.

“For goodness sake tell him,” said Ruth.”

“Doesn’t go sparkly, just look at you, the mere thought of him makes your face go red,” teased Helen.  “Murdoc,” she said and waited.  “The name Murdoc.  One of the characters in that programme, his name was Murdoc.”  Still no one spoke.

“The name of the actor mum likes is George Peppard.  Hannibal Smith?” she said and waited.   “The programme was called The A Team, you must remember it.”

“I used to watch that,” said MacGyver smiling.  “George Peppard.  Hey, Pete knows that actor.”

“Yes I know,” said Helen, “he told me.  And that’s who you’re going to meet after we’ve eaten,” she informed Ruth, who was blushing furiously.

“You’re kidding!” Ruth said, her face now going pale.

“Nope,” answered Helen.  “A thank you from Pete for looking after MacGyver.”

 

“The A Team?” said Mac as they walked towards the door.  “I thought you were talking about that other programme, the one with that guy who did all that clever stuff.  You know, made things from bits of nothing.”

“Nope, don’t remember that one,” Helen said as she watched her mother walking down the path.  “But I’m really pleased that my plan to keep your arrival and her special treat a secret has brought the smile back to her face.”  She took Mac’s arm and grinned at him mischievously.

“As Hannibal Smith would say.  I just love it when a plan comes together.”

 

THE END