The Eve Of Destruction
"I wish you wouldn't talk about things like that," said Face as he took the gun out of Murdock's hand.
"Why Face, wouldn't you like to know all your affairs were in order and all your things went to the right people?" answered Murdock.
"Well, yes, but talking about it now... well, it makes me nervous, that's all."
Face returned to the radio, they were waiting for Hannibal's signal. They were on air support, ready to provide cover for the Colonel, B.A and Frankie when they came out with the information Stockwell wanted. The country they were in was not very friendly towards Americans, most especially those trying to steal the codes their armies used in transmissions to their communist friends.
The signal came through.
"All right Murdock, you'd better crank her up, Hannibal's ready to move."
"Roger," said Murdock getting up from his seat and hurrying out to the Huey standing outside the cabin which had been their base.
Face checked the guns and ammunition, then carried it out to the chopper with the radio. He hopped into the back of the Huey and set up the M-60, then signaled Murdock to go. The Huey rose into the air and sped off to work.
B.A. had his foot to the floor as the jeep he, the Colonel and Frankie tried to out race their pursuers. Then they heard the familiar pounding thunder of an approaching chopper.
A spurt of fire from the M-60 slowed their pursuers down, even put one right out of action. The pursuit continued on only for a short time because the helicopter was getting in their way.
Murdock could see the Colonel's jeep would now escape pursuit, but he continued to harry the other jeeps to make sure.
The men in the jeeps started firing at them once they saw their quarry was too far away. Face had exhausted the M-60's ammunition supply and was on to the AK-47 then the M-16's, but soon they would have no firepower left.
Murdock took the chopper down for one final strafing run. While he did this bullets spat into the chopper, he lifted up and sped away in the direction to that which Hannibal had taken.
It was not until they were well away from any trouble that Murdock called Face. Face came forward and got into the vacant seat on the left side of the chopper, it was then that he saw that Murdock had taken a hit in his right arm.
"I know, I know. Now listen Face, I can't hold on too much longer, you're gonna have to handle the collector for me."
"Down beside you on your left side, that stick controls the collective pitch on this baby, the vertical lift. Now it's not so important right now, but when we go down boy, you're gonna have to do it. I can't."
"Yes you. This can be your very first flying lesson."
"No thanks Murdock, I'll do what you need done --"
"And what if I black out?"
Face turned to him in panic, and then nodded.
"Now I am going to have to take the cyclic controls in my left hand, 'coz my right arm is killing me. What you have to do is put your left hand on the collector, and do everything as I tell you, okay, ready?"
Face gulped and moved his hand into position, he was terrified, but he could see Murdock's arm was bad.
Murdock switched hands and for a moment Face panicked and the chopper lifted a little.
"Whoa boy, gently now," urged Murdock.
They went on for a while that way until a warning signal started going.
"Yeah, I see it. Damn," and he swore under his breath. "Flying lesson over. I've got to take her back. We gotta get down and fast."
With some difficulty he took control again and began heading down. Face could see the pain it was causing, but he knew he could not land the crippled chopper.
Murdock had to shake himself to force himself to keep her going. He knew they were going down too fast and the only clearing he could see, gave little room.
"Face, get in the back."
"Please get in the back. If anything happens you'll be safer there. Now please get in the back and strap in, hurry."
Face could see the ground coming up to meet them and he saw the look in Murdock's eyes. His first reaction was to stay, but instinct for survival always got him and he obeyed.
They weren't far from the ground when Murdock knew he could not hold on much longer. The chopper nosed up and the tail hit the ground unbalancing the chopper. The rotor hit something and broke off, so the body finally hit the ground hard and one of the skids collapsed sending her over on her right side where the long blade hit the ground and shattered.
Face had been held in place by the belts which he released as soon as he thought it was safe. Debris blocked his way into the cockpit, so he was forced to reach up and open the side door. He climbed out onto the side of the chopper and looked down into the cockpit.
Murdock was obviously unconscious and up against the door on the ground. His right leg had been caught over the cyclic controls and Face realized he was lying on his wounded arm.
He jumped off the chopper and moved around to where Murdock was, trying to figure out how to get him out. The Plexiglas had shattered, but not broken, but where it held in place had bent so he could grab under and try to pull it off wholly.
It took time and much effort, but he managed it. He could also smell fumes building and was worried that the chopper could blow at any time. But he reached it and as carefully as he could, he hauled Murdock out and dragged him away from the chopper.
As he was checking Murdock he heard something fuse and then the explosion happened. The Huey burst into flames sending flowers of twirling metal all over the place. What was left of the ammo soon joined the cacophony and it was like a small battle in itself.
Face got back to business, glad he had thought to grab the ship's first aid box. Murdock had a bullet in the upper right arm and it was bad. Face was forced to destroy Murdock's precious flight jacket to apply pressure to the wound. There was also a gash on Murdock's
forehead that had to be tended to. Apart from that, Murdock hadn't broken anything that Face could find.
He worked quickly remembering that pursuit might be on the way and they did not want to get caught. Face had to bring Murdock around and then they would have to move.
Murdock took some getting to; he had lost a lot of blood already which was going to complicate matters. Face also realized that apart from his .45. They had no other weapons; they had gone up with the chopper.
"Come on Murdock, we've got to get moving. The chopper will bring them here and they'll kill us, come on, you've got to get up."
Face pulled him to his feet. Murdock was very unsteady and was clearly having trouble getting his eyes to work.
"Getting dark Face, and I don't feel good."
Face frowned. It was only a little after two, the sun would not go down for about four or so hours yet.
"I know you don't, but we have to move. Come on, buddy. Don't give up on me now."
They started moving; Face half carrying Murdock as they stumbled through the forest.
Face looked for a place to hide, he knew Murdock could not walk much further and he could hear jeeps in the distance. The only place he could see was a dry gully, so he headed for it and let Murdock down.
He checked Murdock's arm. It was still bleeding and he had to change the dressing. It was too high for him to apply a tourniquet and he was running out of bandages.
"What time is it, Face?" Murdock asked weakly.
"Ah, I don't know, why?" lied Face.
"I was wondering if you had anything to light our way, it's so dark."
Face felt himself shiver. Murdock could not see. The hit on his head must have been worse than he thought.
"I don't need a light, got good night time vision, Murdock. Besides, we are being followed they'd see the light."
"It's still so warm; I thought it got cold here at night?"
"Ah, I think you've got a bit of a fever, Murdock," Face had to lie.
"I'm thirsty, Face."
Face had no water, "I know, but we haven't got any supplies, we lost everything in the chopper."
"I lost my bird?"
"Yes Murdock," Face answered as he watched Murdock's eyes close.
Face wanted to scream in his helplessness. There was not much he could do to help Murdock and he hated being forced to lie to him, but he had no choice. If Murdock knew the truth, he might give up and Face was determined not to let him.
Face let Murdock rest and he scavenged around for a source of water. All he found was a small pool, which did not look very clean. He took some of it though and returned to his friend.
He used the water to wipe Murdock's face. He really did have a slight fever, which would get worse. Face checked his watch. It was near rendezvous time. Once Hannibal saw they weren't there he was sure to find a way to come back for them. Of that Face was sure. He only hoped Murdock could hold out that long.
He could not hear the jeeps any more, so he forced Murdock to his feet again, and they moved on. Face was trying to keep to the regular pattern in the situation like this. The Colonel had a plan for such things happening to the team being split up. They were to head in a specific direction if they could, from a position that could clearly be seen. The chopper would be the base and the Colonel would see it as such, so Face followed the prescribed direction, luckily it had been undercover so far.
Face was practically dragging Murdock after a while, they would have to stop again, but a suitable place had to be found. The area was getting rockier and trees less frequent. He found a space between two large rocks and lay Murdock down, letting his head and arm rest in his lap.
Murdock was humming softly to himself.
"What's that?" asked Face as he wiped Murdock's brow.
"Oh, it's just an old song I remembered. It seemed rather appropriate."
"How do you mean?"
Murdock was quiet for a time. "I heard my watch Faceman. It's only after five. It's not night time yet."
"You've had a knock on your head, that's all."
"I know," he smiled, "But it doesn't matter. Are you okay?"
"Okay. What do you mean?"
"Not hurt or anything."
"No Murdock, why?"
Murdock was silent again, "I can't feel my arm and I'm blind, Face. And I don't think I can walk any more either. You got to leave me man."
"Don't be ridiculous. Hannibal will already know something's up. He'll be on his way by now."
"Leave me, Face. Go now, please."
"No Murdock. I can't leave you here. You wouldn't make it on your own and Hannibal would never forgive me."
Murdock closed his eyes, "He will. I want you to go and find him, then you can bring him to me."
"No Murdock. I can't do that. How would we find you in the dark?"
Murdock was shaking and not because the air was turning cold. After a long period of silence his eyes shot open.
"Ssh Murdock, I'm right here, you're safe with me."
"Leave me please."
"Don't start that again."
"I don't want you... Go find the Colonel before it's too late."
"It's not too late."
Murdock stopped shaking which scared Face.
"Murdock!" he checked his pulse. It was getting weaker.
Murdock's eyes fluttered.
"Hum a song for me."
Murdock did so, then the words came out in a whisper.
It was only then that Face recognized it.
"Ssh Murdock. Things aren't that bad, you've got to hold on."
"Remember what we talked about before at the cabin?"
Face felt himself shudder and he tried to hold on, but his words came out in a forced manner, "Yes."
"Do what I had planned, for me, huh?"
A tear slid down Face's cheek.
"I told you not to talk... about that." His voice was strangled.
"I'm sorry Face. But this time we are on the eve... the eve of destruction."
Face cried out, "No Murdock, we aren't. Don't give up, Hannibal will get here."
"Yes, he'll get here... I love you Face," then he closed his eyes.
Face pulled him up to him, "No Murdock don't... don't leave me."
He put his hand to Murdock's neck. The pulse was still there, but it was so weak.
He heard a jeep coming closer, but he didn't care if they were caught now. He just held Murdock to him and waited.
The jeep stopped close by and without hearing anyone approach he felt a hand on his shoulder, and he looked up into the eyes of Hannibal. But he buried his head on Murdock's shoulder.
The Colonel had come too late.
Face was in a daze, he did not know how he got to be sitting in the house at Langley, and it was only because the Colonel shook him that he acknowledged his presence there.
"Come out of it, Face."
Face looked up into the Colonel's eyes and recalled the last time he had done that.
"Murdock is dead, Colonel."
Hannibal kneeled down on front of him, "We know that Face. That was a week ago. You have to let go."
"He wanted me to do that. He wanted to leave him so I wouldn't... but I couldn't... I didn't want to... He told me he loved me. He never said that right to me, it was the last thing he said."
Face fell into the Colonel's arms and cried himself out.
"Where have you been, Face?" asked the Colonel, "You've been gone a whole week without a word.
"I had things to do. I made a promise I had to keep."
"But you look like you're going out again."
Face smiled and looked skyward and in a weird but perfect imitation said, "Up there."
The Colonel did not understand. Then he heard a helicopter coming in.
Face rushed out to meet it.
B.A. and Frankie joined the Colonel as they watched in amazement. Face was learning to fly.
It was a little red and white Hughes 500, which was a perfect match for the corvette in detailing.
Stockwell joined the trio as they watched Face take the chopper up.
"He owns it," said Stockwell and three pairs of eyes grabbed him. "He sold his car and used his inheritance to buy it."
"Inheritance?" said B.A.
"Yes, from Murdock. It appears he left nearly everything to Face. So he bought this helicopter. He calls it Eve."
"Said it had something to do with a song Murdock liked."
The eyes turned up to the slowly disappearing helicopter.
"The Eve of Destruction."