The sound of the ticking clock was a security, somehow something familiar. The softness of the blankets and bedding seemed like they were out of childhood -- warm, holding him close like a mother's embrace. It was safe here. He slowly opened his eyes and as they focused, everything around him felt like it was from another time long past --a secure and safe time. The room was only semi-lit from a low-wattage light on the bedside table. The walls were old, dark, wood paneling covered heavily with old landscape and still life paintings and embroidery. The old desk and chair seemed to be where they should be, a short stack of books neatly to one side on the desktop.
Where am I? How did I come to be here? It all seems right, natural, but why am I frightened? He continued his visual assessment. Although the room was old, neatly cluttered with evidence of the past, there was something unusual and different that he could not place. The drapes were drawn over the window, but it felt like it was night outside. At last his gaze came to rest on the rocking chair near the foot of the bed and on the one who occupied it. She was breathtakingly beautiful some somehow familiar. The dark long hair fell in graceful curls around her neck. Her complexion was fair and seemed a little pale or perhaps tired. Her face was at peaceful rest as she slept, turned towards him resting on the small pillow.
You are beautiful, but who are you? He felt ashamed. This lovely being seemed to be waiting for him, giving up her night for him as for a sick child and he had no idea who she was. But then -- who am I? This is all so familiar, but where am I? Why am I here? Who am I? Careful so as not to awaken the woman, he moved back the blankets and got out of bed. Unsteadiness washed over him as he stood to his feet. I am weak. I have been lying down for some time. I am uninjured. Nothing hurts, yet I cannot escape the nagging suspicion that something is very wrong.
He moved to the desk and glanced through the book titles. Arabian Nights, The Source, The Sun Also Rises. I know these titles. I like these books; I know the authors' names. I can tell the plots of all of these novels. Why don't I know who I am? He could feel the knot of fear tightening in his stomach.
"My dear," came a gentle voice, "what are you doing up?"
He spun at the sound of the voice.
The beautiful woman was out of the chair coming towards him. "How are you feeling? You really should be in bed."
He stared at her, uncertain about a response. Should I admit I do not know who she is? Is she friend or foe?
Her smiled gradually faded. "You don't remember, do you?"
He ran a hand through his dark hair and managed a momentary grin. "I'm afraid not. Should I recall this place?"
"Come back to bed," she said quietly.
Obediently, he followed her over and sat on the edge of the mattress.
She sat down on the rocker, facing him. "Dr. Sakar said it wouldn't help, but I had hoped bringing you back to your father's home would help you remember things."
"My father?" he whispered. He stopped, catching a glimpse of his reflection in the base of the light. The dark, straight, disheveled hair, steel blue eyes, and square jaw stared back. How odd to look at a stranger in the reflection. He could not resist the urge to touch his face as the mirror image confirmed he looked at himself. He turned back to the woman. "My father is dead. He died when I was thirteen."
She looked broken hearted. "He died last year -- in his sleep."
He scowled, confused. "No, that's not right."
She reached out to take his hand. "Paul, it's all right."
Paul? Paul? Is that who I am? No, that's not right either. What is my name? --Steve. It's Steve. "No, I am not Paul. Who are you?" Suspicion sprang up in his tone and on his expression.
"Oh, Paul," she whispered, tears in her eyes. "We were making such progress."
"It's Steve," he replied firmly.
She shook her head sadly. "That's what they told you. They brainwashed you; made up a whole life in your mind."
"They? Who is they?"
"There were Communist agents. You were captured on a recon mission two weeks ago. They drugged you and brainwashed you into believing you were a completely different person with a totally different past."
"That's impossible," he murmured, confusion mixing with his fears.
"I would have thought so, too. I wouldn't believe anything could erase our love from your mind, but they did it."
He stared at her again. Love? What is my relationship with this woman? What is her name? He glanced at her left hand -- a ring on the fourth finger. She is married to someone -- me? "Look, I am really sorry, but none of this -- the room, you -- none of it is what I know." He wanted to be kind, but he wanted to get to the root of the matter. "What is going on? Please, what is this place?"
She flashed a momentary smile. "Well, that sounds like you, Paul. Getting right to the point. Get all the facts sorted out. They couldn't take that out of you." She got up and walked to a bookcase and returned with a photo album. "Here." She handed it to him.
He accepted the brown leather volume and opened the cover. The first picture was of a young couple posing for wedding pictures, love glowing on their faces. The young woman he immediately identified as the one who was speaking to him. The man he knew with a moment's hesitation -- himself. "My wife?" he whispered. His head swam in confusion.
She turned the page to where a white paper napkin had been preserved. Embossed on one corner it read: "Paul and Cathi Garrett, April 1972. Together forever." There was a wedding invitation below it.
"Cathi? Cathi Ryan?" he whispered, looking up to stare into her face. Yes, there is a Cathi. I loved a Cathi. He mind recalled an image, but it escaped his grasp. Cathi died. I remember the agony. She died because of me. . "You died," he murmured
"I'm right here, Honey." She took his hand in hers. "They told you I was dead."
He felt dizzy with confusion. "I remember it," he murmured. "It was so real." Images of a woman dead -- the woman he loved murdered. Distorted and disconnected pieces. He gazed back at Cathi again. Why can't I remember your face? I recall the pain, I know it was real. He looked at the album again.
"Dr. Sakar says if you can talk about what you remember, we can filter out what is real from what they planted."
"You are Cathi," he repeated slowly. "And I am -- Paul Michael Garrett?" McGarrett, his mind corrected. Steve McGarrett. "McGarrett," he whispered.
"What?" she asked. Her face brightened. "You remember what Chuck called you?"
"Chuck?" He felt the moment of gasping reality slipping away from him.
"Chuck is the only person who ever called you Mike. He was your partner. Mike Garrett -- you remember that!"
He scowled. "No, I don't remember a Chuck. Steve McGarrett, that's my name."
Paul," she said gently, "that's what they told you. They kidnapped you, drugged you. Chuck died in a rescue attempt. You don't remember any of this?"
"How long ago?"
"Two weeks. Weve had you back three days now, but its like there is a short circuit in your mind. Whenever you go to sleep, you forget it all." She went to a side table and brought back a cup of hot tea. "Here."
He accepted the steaming cup. The smell of citrus stung his nose. "Orange pecot tea," he murmured.
"Yes! Your favorite!"
I've had this many times with someone else. Was it my favorite or his? His? Yes, it was a man -- an older man. We used to discuss something -- religion? -- and drink orange pecot tea. Chinese Proverbs, CHIN HO. "Chin drank this," he corrected.
Her joy fell. "Who?"
"Chin Ho. He died a six months ago, Undercover," He squinted. "I remember now. Five-0. I am head of Five-0."
"No, Paul," she said with mild urgency. "It was Chuck who died. They have twisted everything. There was no Chin -- it was Chuck."
"Was he oriental?" he asked sharply.
She blinked in surprise. "Why yes -- yes he was."
The cloud of confusion swept back over him. Where is reality in all of this? What is real? What is not? Is she the fake? Is everything I recall as so real just a trick? Is she lying? He sipped the tea, trying to analyze Cathi's expression. He began to feel tired. The urge to sleep was irresistible.
"Don't sleep," she begged. "I'll lose you again!"
He fought to keep his eyes open, but it was a losing battle. "Cathi," he murmured, "got to sleep."
"Please say you won't forget me again," she pleaded, hugging him.
Any response was lost, for he was asleep.
Duke Lukela glanced out of the window of the C130 military transport as it circled Manila, Philippines, for the third time. He wished he was already on the ground and trying to make some sense of things. His contact would be Inspector Strickland from Hong Kong and Chief Sanchez of Manila -- and only them. Strickland he knew; Sanchez was only a black and white photo that he now looked over again.
Duke was brought back to the present as the plane's wheels dropped down and the rumbling of descent began. I have already made it farther than Danny did, he thought fatalistically. Just how does one disappear in the middle of a flight anyway? There's nowhere to go.
Fifteen minutes later, Duke was escorted under military police guard down the steps of the C130 directly to Inspector Strickland who stood out on the tarmac waiting for him, flanked by a Manila police officer on each side. It was raining in a soft mist and was cooler than Duke had anticipated.
"No problems?" Strickland asked in his thick British accent as he extended a handshake.
Duke shook hands. "None." He followed Strickland to the canvas roofed jeep and got in. The driver pulled away, headed for the far side of the airport where a huge 747 sat surrounded by military guard. "Have you made any progress?"
Stickland gave a sigh. "Very little I'm afraid. The local law enforcement is certainly no Five-0 team."
Duke refrained from commenting. Perhaps I haven't been here long enough to have an educated response.
They were met by Captain Sanchez as the jeep splashed to a halt near the steps that led up to the open doorway of the empty jetliner. Sanchez gave a broad smile as he was introduced to Duke. "It is an honor to have a member of the celebrated Hawaii Five-0 team here."
I suppose I should not point out that I am actually the third member of the celebrated Hawaii Five-0 team to arrive in the last five days. I'm just the first to actually meet them. "It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance," he said instead. "I am anxious to discuss the disappearance of McGarrett and Williams."
"Yes, of course, you have a right to that," Sanchez agreed. He turned towards the jet and the guards snapped to a stiff attention. He motioned Strickland and Lukela up the stairway and into empty jet. "We have gotten some early information. There are two terrorist groups who both claim to have Williams, but I believe neither does. It would be logical to assume that he and McGarrett were both taken by the same organization, yet there have been no claims by anyone to have McGarrett. My intelligence sources say they doubt either of your men are on this island any longer."
Internally, Duke recoiled in horror, but outwardly his expression remained calm. "Are the sources trustworthy?"
Sanchez rubbed his small mustache with an index finger and glanced towards Strickland. "They are thorough."
Strickland's color reddened a little. "Captain Sanchez' police force has more -- liberties -- than that of either our or your forces," he said quietly to Duke.
Enough that they could get some poor bastard to admit to anything rather that continue torture? Perhaps the questioned would say anything be it truthful or not if it was what Sanchez wanted to hear. And would Sanchez want attention pulled away from Manila towards the outer islands? Perhaps. Duke decided to save this analysis for a little later. Steve trusts Strickland. I'll speak with him privately later. He turned his attention to the evidence before them -- the 747 jetliner.
"Williams sat here," Sanchez stated, patting the back of seat 26C.
"Have you had a lab team check it out?" Duke asked.
"Inspector Strickland requested we touch nothing," Sanchez replied. "We have guarded it for your arrival."
If that is true, I am the first on the scene of whatever is left. But Duke knew he possessed none of the sophisticated tools Che would have had to examine what lay before him. He spent several minutes looking through the seat, cracks in the seat cushions, the floor, and pockets. The only discovery was that the airsick bag was missing. That might mean nothing. He rose and looked back towards the rear of the plane.
"Something, Lukela?" Strickland asked.
He walked towards the rear of the plane and opened each of the lavatory doors and looked inside. "Is the garbage still on board?"
Sanchez nodded. "I told you it was been quarantined-"
"And the plane's crew?" Duke interrupted.
"Yes. We have them available to us as well. This is an international flight," Sanchez reminded him. "They are being housed at the Australian consulate. There are two flight crew and three stewardesses. The stewardess' initial claim was that Williams was in his seat most of the trip, but just before landing he was gone. They could not locate him. That is all."
Duke nodded as he walked forward to the galley. He poked a pen into the trash receptacle, but did not really expect to find anything.
Strickland squeezed his large frame into the doorway of the plane's galley. "You found something," he murmured quietly.
Duke glanced out towards Sanchez standing a short distance away. "Can we trust him?"
Strickland shrugged. "More than most here. It is in his best interest to answer this puzzle. He will help us."
"Does he have resources to test food from the garbage?"
Strickland nodded, his thick neck wobbling a little. "Of course. The Philippines isn't that remote. There is an American naval base here, too, if necessary."
Duke looked over towards Sanchez. "Captain Sanchez, let's have some of your lab people collect the trash containers, seal them, and get them delivered to the chemistry lab at the Naval base."
"Right away," Sanchez agreed and stepped away to give orders.
"I need to make a call to Honolulu," Duke told Strickland.
"Of course. You may use my line," Strickland offered without hesitation. "I guarantee it is secure."
"I need our lab crew here," Duke explained. He glanced around at the empty seats of the large jet. "I think I've got it figured how they removed him. The key is the person who checked the rest rooms." Duke noticed the look of question on Strickland's face. He gave a small smile. "Ever been sick on a plane? What do you do?"
"Snag the closest sickness bag and head for the lavie " Strickland stopped.
"My guess is someone laced Williams' food with something --a quick acting knock-out of some kind. It was timed so that he'd begin to feel ill just in time to make it to the rest room, pass out in the tight quarters. Whoever treated the food fixed the rest room so it would seem unoccupied from the outside, but locked. Then as the plane prepared to land, this person got the other crew members looking somewhere else for Williams. This is one big plane." He walked back to the rest room in the center that divided business class from economy. "He probably was in one of these two rest rooms. The attendant opens the hatch right here." He motioned to the small floor hatch leading to the maintenance bay below. "Opens the rest room door, drags him over and drops him down the hole."
Strickland looked down the dark hole. "Would have to be someone strong."
Duke shook his head. "No. If he was unconscious propped against a wall in that tight space, whoever it was just grabbed under the arms, pulled him out three feet and let go. And Williams doesn't weigh over 160."
Strickland looked down the hole again. "Interesting. Someone in the baggage crew then just loads him up and off they go."
"Yeah." Duke sighed. "Go where?"
Strickland nodded. "And at least one of those Aussie crew members is in on this. Looks like I have my work convincing the Australians to cooperate with your people," Strickland concluded. "Good work, Lukela."
Duke did not reply. We may have our first baby-step, but we have a long way to go, especially if Sanchez is right in his statement about them being off the island. The Philippines is made up of over 7,100 islands spread across 3,000 miles. Where do we begin? I haven't even seen the room Steve was taken from yet. I really need Che here now. And who took Steve in the first place and why?
It was cold, bone-chilling cold and damp. Dan Williams slowly lifted his head from where he lay prone on the concrete floor of the cinderblock cell. His mouth was parched dry, he recognized the aftertaste and achy grogginess as the after effects of a heavy sedation. I was drugged somehow. He looked around, trying to clear his head. He shivered again from the cold. He sat up and realized he was clad only in thin, baggy, white cotton pants, the kind he sometimes saw used in mental institutions. He wrapped his arms around his naked upper body against the damp cold.
His awareness rushed back now and from where he sat, he took in his surroundings. He was in some kind of cell made of cinderblock with a smooth concrete floor. The room was not quite seven by ten with a steel door at one end, undoubtedly locked. The only light came from one small barred window high up on the opposite wall that opened to the outside. It was raining and water was dripping down the wall contributing to the cool humidity. In the dim light, he could see no signs of electric lighting or plumbing. There was a small metal bucket in one corner. In the semi-dark, his gaze settled on another figure clad much as he was, crouched in the farthest corner from him. It startled Danny to realize that he was not alone. He could not deny that the emotion was one of mild relief as well. Here was someone who might be able to tell him something about what was going on.
"Were am I?" he demanded of the person.
The figure stretched out its legs, but did not speak.
"I asked you a question," Danny snapped. "What is this place?"
"I am Perez," replied the slow, accented voice in the dark. "The place is hell."
Danny felt his skin crawl, but shoved the primitive fear away. Thinking and planning is on my side. I must learn all I can. He got to his feet, rubbing his arms against the cold. "Who brought me here? I was bound for Manila."
"Manila?" Perez gave a little chuckle. "You took a wrong turn, friend."
Danny missed any humor. "Why are we here?" he asked, mild anger in his tone. He decided to let this man know he intended on taking control of the situation. I may not have a clue about what's going on, but that doesn't mean I have to act vulnerable. But at the same instant a small voice warned him about just how defenseless he was.
Perez sighed. "I am here because I made the error of having been born into the wrong family. Do not ask too much -- you will know all you need to know soon enough."
Something scraped against the door outside, a key turned in the lock.
At last I'll get some answers here! Danny turned, arms crossed in a defensive way, to face whomever would come through the door.
The door opened and two huge men dressed in a uniforms Danny could not identify and armed with automatic rifles stepped boldly into the door, weapons ready. A tall, thin Polynesian man stepped in after them to stand between them. His dark hair was thinning, he bore a thin mustache. He also wore some kind of uniform and held a riding crop that he flicked in the direction of one guard.
The man raised a large electric lantern that threw blinding light across the cell.
Danny blinked in the brilliant light and shielded his eyes. The moment was intimidating and he had no doubt it had been planned that way. This is like something out of a Nazi movie. It is nothing but a show being put on for me. He was aware that Perez was cowering in the corner like a frightened animal hands over his face. They won't get that out of me. He stepped bravely towards them. "I am an American citizen," he stated loudly.
"That is irrelevant," the leader snapped. "What is your name?"
Certainly they already know that. "Dan Williams," he replied boldly.
One of the guards punched Danny in the stomach with the gun butt. Stunned, he collided with the wall, bent double.
"Your name," the officer repeated.
"Williams," he answered breathlessly.
The guard struck him again.
"What do you want from me!" He demanded hotly.
Both guards closed on him striking him repeatedly on the back and shoulders with their weapons. When the officer declared, "Enough!" they stepped back, leaving him in a crumpled heap on the cold concrete. The leader jabbed his riding crop against Danny's shoulder. "I will return. Next time have better answers."
End part 1
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