The flame poles spluttered and crackled angrily as the wind picked up, throwing the snow across the frozen land like grains of sand. At the far side of the camp, almost invisible against the dark backdrop of the night, the snowmobiles sat silent and abandoned.
The five riders that had accompanied Fisher still stood on the outskirts of the small circle of light, their faces hidden by their voluminous hoods. Closer still to the pool of light a pile of jackets lay just out of reach of the three figures, huddling together for warmth.
Templar shifted on the ice, trying to regain the feeling in his toes, feeling the cold metal shaft of the handcuffs rub against his bare skin. He tried his best to stop his teeth from chattering, but could not. The temperature was dropping by the minute as the wind built up, but still Fisher was showing no signs of compassion. Instead he was watching them from above, the glowing tip of his cigar the only sign of movement. Templar turned his attention to the group of bystanders. There was something familiar about them, something he had seen somewhere before…
‘Puh-please’ Brannigan stuttered, ‘I’m freezing’
‘Shut the fuck up Mark’ McKenzie snapped, ‘We’re all freezing’
‘Compassionate as ever Claire’ Fisher moved closer for the first time since the handcuffs had been applied to their arms, his grin widening to show the teeth, ‘and here I was thinking you were a changed woman’
‘I am’ McKenzie replied, her gaze meeting his, ‘thanks to you’
Templar cast her a quick glance, but said nothing. He wondered how much of her attitude was bravado and how much of it was down her past. He watched Fisher as he leaned closer into their faces and saw no hope of survival in those eyes.
‘Well,’ Fisher was continuing, ‘There’s so little time and so much to talk about – where shall we begin?’
‘Give us back our jackets and we’ll talk’ Templar offered
‘Fuck that’ McKenzie spat, ‘the second we tell you anything you’ll slit our throats – so you’ll get nothing from any of us’
‘Oh I don’t know’ Fisher replied, ‘Blood is so difficult to get out of clothes – even if you do a pre-wash’ he leaned in closer to Brannigan, so close that the glowing tip of the cigar threatened to scorch the skin, ‘Besides, ‘ he said, ‘I think I’ve found the weakest link in your chain’
‘I haven’t told him anything useful,’ McKenzie scoffed, ‘and threatening him won’t make me tell you anything’
‘Perhaps’ Fisher stood up and looked at the night sky. Flashes of blue lightning were ripping across the storm-filled sky. He glanced at Templar, ‘Time is running out Charles. You above all others know what will happen if we don’t get inside soon…and yet you haven’t said anything?’
‘Give us warmth’ Templar repeated, his tone never changing, ‘and I’ll tell you what you already know’
Fisher laughed at this, ‘True, true’ he said, fishing the cigar from his lips for a few seconds, ‘But I’m still curious to hear your side of things’ he moved back over to Brannigan and delivered a swift kick to the side, ‘So come on boy,’ he said, ‘Tell me what they told you’
‘Puh-please,’ Brannigan repeated, ‘I’m freezing’
Fisher kicked him again, this time in the stomach, causing Brannigan to double over in pain. Fisher waited patiently for all of five seconds before grabbing Brannigan’s chin between his thumb and forefinger and pulling him up straight, ‘I always find a bit of pain sharpens the mind’
‘Leave him alone John’ Templar said quietly, though his eyes were still fixed on the night’s sky. The flashes of blue seemed to be growing, twisting into shapes before his eyes. He wondered if it was the cold, hoping that his darkest fears were not true.
‘Oh I don’t think so,’ Fisher replied, ‘Not unless Claire feels like begging?’
McKenzie’s silence was answer enough and Fisher grinned again; ‘So tell me, my friend, what did they tell you?’
‘Look,’ Brannigan spluttered, still gasping, ‘All I know is that the plane took off sometime in 1944 from Germany.’ He paused to cough and shake his head, ‘The rumour was that Oliver Postgate was trying to hide religious artefacts from the Germans – but something went wrong.’ He coughed again, gesturing towards McKenzie ‘That bitch there hired me, telling me I would be needed to date artefacts. She suggested that there was a connection to Christ’
Fisher moved back, gazing at him for a long time, then he nodded and removed the cuffs, throwing Brannigan his coat, ‘And you believed that DaVinci Code bullshit?’ He turned towards McKenzie, ‘Really Claire, you always were a bad liar’
McKenzie said nothing, but her eyes were full of hatred as she spat into the snow next to Fisher’s feet. Fisher gestured towards one of the five men in shadow, who had still not spoken or moved, and the remaining cuffs were removed. As Templar shook the life back into his arms he turned again towards the horizon, watching the light show
‘I think we may have left it too late’ he muttered
‘It’s still alive?’ McKenzie asked, her voice showing a hint of fear for the first time.
‘Oh please Claire,’ Fisher interjected, ‘Your theatrics may fool these two, but you forget – I know what you came here for’
McKenzie shook her head, ‘No John’ she replied quietly, ‘If you had even the slightest clue what I was looking for out here then you’d never have come’
Templar took hold of her shoulder, ‘Claire…we really should move now…’ he gestured towards the horizon where the storm seemed to be turning into something else. Now even Fisher managed to look concerned
‘What the fuck?’ Brannigan said. The blue lightning was growing into a ball of energy, seeming to define a dark shape against the horizon. If you looked close enough you could swear that the form was moving.
Fisher reached for his shotgun, made to focus on the shape, but something in Templar’s eyes stopped him from firing. As the shape seemed to grow on the horizon Templar gestured towards the cold metal frame of the plane, ‘Everybody get under cover, NOW!!!’
To be continued
...And that’s it until after Christmas I’m afraid. It’s funny how this is developing in my head – I had so many ideas, but they all seem to have moved around and worked in slightly different ways: not a single episode has gone entirely where i thought it would go. However, we’re getting closer to the end of the story now with only 1 or 2 more episodes, but I didn’t want to quite show my hand yet as to exactly what is going on.
A note to myself is that if I were writing this story off line and editing I would re-write Fisher a few times, as he doesn’t quite sound the way I originally envisaged him. My apologies to anyone who doesn’t like stories with a Sci-Fi/mythic angle –again if I were to re-write this I would put a few larger hints into the earlier episodes
For anyone interested a few of the influences on this story:
Doctor Who: The Seeds Of Doom
The X Files: Ice (almost exactly the same plot as the Dr Who story)
Forbidden Planet (and the associated musical Return To The Forbidden Planet)
Although having said the above I have tried not to make this too derivative of any of these stories.
Finally – I’m starting to regret the choice of title for this story. I wanted to give it a title fairly quickly so that I wouldn’t have to worry about it, but the more the story has developed the less apposite the title seems.