8.2: Part One
MacGyver shifted uncomfortably as he slept.
It wasn’t a bad dream, simply the sense that although
his body needed rest, his mind should be up and working
on a new problem.
quite remember, though, what it was that was so urgent.
of memory began to creep back into his fatigued brain.
An airliner on
its way to L.A. that had a mind of its own and a man onboard
that wanted to do something…something bad.
Mac moved again,
his slumber disturbed by his own subconscious. He could
see the bad guy’s face, but he couldn’t quite
recall who he was, or what he’d done.
Then, in an instant
an image of Sam filtered through, an image of his son
lying in his own blood on the floor of the plane.
bolt upright, awakening with a start at the painful memory.
And then he realized
that it was over. He had been sleeping on a chair at Sam’s
bedside in the hospital all night, and the images were
all in the past.
He blinked, rubbing
at his eyes – eyes that were still so tired from
events on the Boeing. Then he quickly shifted his gaze
to the bed he was sitting next to.
Sam was still
hooked up to a monitor, but it beeped a comforting rhythmic
tone that said all was well. He still had an I.V. in too,
but MacGyver knew that was to be expected considering
what he’d been through.
As Mac assessed
his son, it suddenly occurred to him that he was not the
only one scrutinizing someone.
Sam was awake
and staring back at his dad, the mischievous spark that
had dwindled the night before, back in those deep eyes
of his. He was still pale but smiling wanly.
Sam almost whispered. “Don’t you have some
place better to be?”
curled into a small smile of his own. “Nope. I needed
to make sure you didn’t get yourself into anymore
“Maybe you should go look in the mirror. You look
worse than me.” There was actual concern in his
voice. Enough, in fact, to make MacGyver force his weary
body up from his chair and check himself out in the mirror
at the side of his son’s bed.
His hair was
bedraggled, he needed a shave, and his eyes looked like
he’d been on a week-long party at the beach.
Apparently, Sam had a point.
you go get cleaned up dad,” Sam suggested. “Maybe
let me get some sleep…”
from the mirror to see that Sam had already drifted off
back into oblivion. He was obviously exhausted, and the
sleep would do him good.
Mac glanced at
the chair at his son’s bedside, his heart wanting
to stay, but common sense begging him to leave.
chose the latter and made his way to the door, quietly
closing it behind him.
Atkins, one of Phoenix’s best operatives was standing
guard outside. He nodded to Mac as he exited and then
reached into his jacket pocket.
said to give you this, sir.” Atkins offered up a
hotel key. “The address is on the chain there.”
He tapped a plastic fob that the key dangled from. “He
also left a message that the Sacramento police have you
scheduled for an interview at 10a.m. this morning at their
local office in Fair Oaks, and that he’ll catch
up with you later for a chat. He said you’d know
Pete Thornton was nothing if not persistent. He wanted
Mac back with Phoenix, and he wasn’t about to say
no. “Yeah, I know,” he answered, giving nothing
away. “I’ll talk with him this evening.”
and moved back into his “on guard” stance.
He reminded Mac of the Grenadiers in London outside the
palace. He was all about duty – not much personality
in there that I can see…
Mac looked at
his watch as he moved off down the antiseptic smelling
corridor. It was nine already. He guessed there was no
time to shower before his interview, so he headed straight
to the local police office.
he looked, he just hoped he didn’t get locked up
for being a vagrant first.
* * *
The hotel Nikki
had found was actually outside of Antelope, and it hadn’t
taken MacGyver long to realize he was going to need transport
to visit Sam, not to mention, get around for other essentials.
Despite it being
just two days until Christmas, he’d still managed
to rent a half-decent Buick. Not exactly his usual style,
but he was mobile.
The hotel itself was like walking back into the past.
The place was family owned, clean and very welcoming.
Mac had soon
realized, however, that he actually had no luggage –
and therefore no clean clothes, no nothing. He’d
managed to bag a few items like a clean shirt and jeans
from the local store, but he still felt kind of naked
without his own items.
And that was
when it had hit him.
climbed out of the shower and was rubbing at his hair
with a towel when he’d spotted the date on the bedside
It glared at
him, taunting him with the fact that all his things had
gone up in smoke when the Boeing had exploded.
And that included
Sam’s Christmas gift.
been so careful choosing a present for Sam, and had finally
decided on a high end camera that he knew his son could
use for pleasure as well as work.
Said camera was
now probably a pile of molten metal and plastic, and even
if it had survived, it was evidence in an ongoing investigation.
No way would it be released back to them in time for Christmas
about it. Sam was alive, and he was going to be okay,
did it really matter about a gift?
But then, this
was their first Christmas together. His first Christmas
as a dad.
Heck, yeah, it
mattered that he had something for his son.
Mac quickly pulled
on the new clothes he’d bought and grabbed the phone
book from the bedside table.
He flicked through
as quickly as possible, but there were no shops in Fair
Oaks that were likely to have a replacement camera for
Sam. It was a professional piece of equipment, after all.
further, but it looked like he was going to have to drive
back into Antelope at the very least. Maybe even a trip
into Sacramento was on the cards.
He grabbed his
wallet and the hire car keys and quickly left the warmth
of the hotel room behind.
on a mission, and he wasn’t going to give up until
he had the perfect gift for Sam all wrapped up and ready
for Christmas morning.
* * * *
MacGyver hadn’t been driving long when he’d
become conscious of the fact that he probably shouldn’t
be driving at all. His eyes were bleary, and no amount
of rubbing at them was going to help.
Truth be told,
he’d only had about an hour’s sleep in Sam’s
hospital room, and fatigue was rapidly catching up with
His body ached,
and his mind screamed for him to turn the Buick around
and go to bed.
The problem was,
even if he’d wanted to, that might be a little difficult.
Mac had rushed
out of the hotel so dang fast he’d forgotten to
get a map, and he’d definitely not had the good
sense to ask for directions.
The road signs
should have been enough, right?
Except, he was
exhausted, and somehow out here in the boonies, he’d
missed a turn.
Mac was mentally
chiding himself as he slowed the Buick, looking for anything
that might tell him where he was.
The road he was
on was rough and unkempt, and there didn’t appear
to be any signs.
He took a sharp
left and then slowed again, this time not because he’d
let off the gas.
engine had cut out.
getting dark, I’m in the middle of nowhere, and
now the car has to die on me. What kind of Christmas spirit
the hood and took a quick look for any obvious signs of
the breakdown, but the car seemed in perfect condition.
There was gas in the tank, charge in the battery, and
yet it was dead.
He dropped back
behind the wheel and cranked again, but the engine wouldn’t
even turn over.
Mac sighed. It
looked like he was going to have to walk, but which way?
Normally he could
have at least figured which way was north with the stars,
but typically, it was a cloudy night.
He locked the
Buick and was about to start to walk when a pair of headlights
shimmered into view in the distance.
The car bobbed
violently on the rut-filled road, and it took a further
two minutes to reach him.
It slowed without
Mac even needing to wave it down, like it, or rather its
driver, had anticipated someone being there.
It was an old
beast. A bright red Pontiac station wagon with white-walled
tires and a rather horrific dent in the rear.
As Mac watched,
the driver’s window rolled down, and he was greeted
by the smile of a young and very curious woman’s
shouldn’t be out here, you know? Didn’t you
see the signs?”
a little sheepish. He was so tired he hadn’t seen
any signs. “Um, no ma’am,” he admitted.
“I got a little lost, and then my hire car just
gave out on me.”
She looked him
up and down as if assessing him. “I guess I could
give you a lift back into town. I can’t leave you
out here all night now, can I?” She jerked a thumb
towards the passenger door, indicating he should get in.
Mac was so cold
and weary, he accepted gratefully. It must have been quite
a risk for her to take a complete stranger into her car
on a lonely back road like this, and he appreciated the
seen me before the shower, she might not have been so
trusting, he inwardly chuckled.
The woman pulled
away and the Pontiac began its rough and tumble journey
back down the damaged highway. “My name’s
Molly Gregson,” she introduced herself.
as if she’d known that. “So what are you doing
lost on road like this at Christmas, MacGyver?”
She navigated around a pothole and the car swayed.
was just heading out to Sacramento for a gift for my son.”
Mac thought about Sam lying in the hospital bed. He deserved
his dad’s time and effort after having no father
for all those years.
How many Christmas
mornings had Sam wished to have his mom there, or the
father he didn’t even know?
it kind of late, didn’t you?” Molly prodded.
“It’s a long story, but the gift I originally
bought him got destroyed yesterday. I need to replace
to think about it. “No you don’t,” she
offered. “You don’t need to buy your son anything
at all. The greatest gift you could give him isn’t
a present; it’s not a physical item at all. It’s
family. It’s love.”
across to her and was surprised to see how philosophical
she’d become. Her face was stern and her eyes glassy,
like she’d turned into a human version of “Yoda”.
kinda…um, deep,” he squirmed. He didn’t
know why, but Molly was suddenly creeping him out –
and Angus MacGyver normally didn’t do “creeped
Of course, he
understood what she was saying, and in an ideal world
she was right. It was just the way she’d said it,
like she’d been through some experience that had
shaped her into a slightly bitter, but resolved individual.
to sense his mood. “Oh, don’t take any notice
of me. I guess I’ve listened to one too many sermons
on the radio out here.” She smiled wanly. “So
what are you getting him?”
Mac relaxed just
a touch. “A camera – he’s a journalist.”
do with a good journalist around these parts.” Molly
took a turn and MacGyver finally recognized the road.
“Reporters around here tend to miss things, let
things slide that shouldn’t, and before you know
the brakes and pulled the Pontiac over, leaving the engine
running. The sign they were under said they were entering
as far as I can go,” she apologized. “But
I hope you and your son have a good holiday.”
out, shut the door and then leaned back in through the
half-open window. “Thanks, you really helped me
out tonight. Maybe I’ll see you again sometime?”
but it was the strangest smile Mac had ever seen. A knowing
smirk that sent a shiver down his spine. “I’m
sure we will…and maybe you’ll be able to return
more, she gunned the gas, spinning the station wagon around
and heading out back into the night.
Mac watched her
go until the Pontiac’s tail lights were just a fuzzy
red mark on the darkening horizon.
know why, but he couldn’t shake the feeling that
something weird had just happened, and that it wasn’t
quite over yet.
* * *
about ten minutes to walk from where Molly had dropped
him off back to the hotel. It wasn’t exactly a great
distance, but by the time he was shuffling through the
front entrance, his legs were aching.
At some point,
and soon, he was going to have to get some sleep, or keel
Right now, Mac
didn’t think he was far from the latter.
he needed to grab a bite to eat, and he needed to check
on Sam again. Then, he’d collapse on his bed into
nothingness for awhile.
the hospital had left any messages, he stopped at the
front desk to ask the owner’s wife, Pamela. She
was a petite brunette of about fifty that seemed very
shy given her profession.
he nodded amiably. “Have there been any messages
Pam thought about
it before replying. “Only that Mr. Thornton is waiting
for you in the dining room.”
He thought the world of Pete, but he really wasn’t
in the mood for discussing his return to Phoenix. He really
wanted to check on Sam.
He nodded to Pam and reluctantly headed to where he knew
Pete would be waiting.
As he slid into
a seat opposite his old friend, Pete smiled. “About
time, Mac, I thought you’d stood me up.”
how did you know it was me?”
Pete tapped his
nose. “I’ve been honing my skills. They do
say a blind man’s other senses improve, you know?”
have tried that before I showered,” Mac chuckled.
“Although after the afternoon I’ve just had…”
eyes narrowed as if he could still see and was intrigued.
“Oh? Wasn’t last night on the plane enough
that’s what started it all,” MacGyver explained.
“I realized the camera I bought for Sam for Christmas
had been destroyed when the plane exploded. So, I set
out to go into town to buy another – and kinda got
smile returned. “The great Angus MacGyver got
and not just because Pete had used the dreaded first name.
“It gets worse,” he admitted. “I got
lost, and then my car broke down.”
maybe I should rethink whether I want to hire you or not.
Talk about bad luck!” Pete was chuckling now. “So,
how did you get back?”
with two drinks that Mac assumed Pete had ordered earlier.
A Scotch and an orange juice. Mac took the orange juice.
“I got rescued. A woman named Molly in a really
old Pontiac Bonneville station wagon took pity on me and
gave me a ride.”
Pam almost dropped
the tray she’d been carrying, and every drop of
color drained from her face. She didn’t seem to
care that she wasn’t part of the conversation, and
joined in anyway.
red Pontiac you say?” Pam was shaking as she asked
the question. “Driver named Molly? Not Molly Gregson..?”
“Yeah, I think that was her name, do you know her?”
Pam pulled a
chair over from an empty table and flopped on it as if
her legs wouldn’t hold her. She fidgeted with her
hands, almost as if she was scared. “I did know
her. You see Molly went missing last Christmas Eve and
no trace of her was ever found – not even that bright
red station wagon of hers.”
his head. “That can’t be right. I saw her
just tonight. Long dark hair, pretty eyes, and I’d
recognize that Bonneville anywhere.”
not saying you didn’t, but…well, everyone
in town pretty much knows Molly is dead. She had a husband
and two kids, she’d never just leave them, not unless…”
the police look for her?” Pete interrupted.
Pam nodded. “Of
course, and they suspected what happened to her too, but
could never prove it. Hank Riggs was the town drunk. He’d
taken to harassing women drivers after he’d had
one too many at the local bar. They always thought Hank
went too far that night with Molly, but without evidence…”
know where she was last seen?” Mac prodded. I
can’t have been rescued by a ghost. I don’t
even believe in ghosts!
doing some last minute shopping on the south side of town
– right near Hank’s favorite bar.”
of town, heading anywhere near the back road with the
bridge that’s out?” Mac was putting things
together, but then the evidence was pulling his theories
near there,” Pam agreed. “But if that’s
where you got lost, you’re real lucky. There are
no signs for that bridge, we’ve been telling them
about it for months, and if you’re not from these
about it. He hadn’t known the bridge was out, and
he would have carried on driving if his car hadn’t
It was kind of
ironic that Molly, or whoever she was had happened along
right at that time.
But he still
didn’t believe in spirits, even if they were the
heroic type of spook.
There had to
be a rational explanation, and now, he needed to find
Mac looked at
Pam – she really thought the supernatural was at
work. “Don’t worry. I’m going to find
out what just happened, and who that really was in the
Pontiac. I know there’s an answer, a logical one.”
He patted her shaking hand to try and reassure her.
Pete raised a brow.
Mac nodded. “Yeah,
if you’ll lend me Nikki in the morning to drive
me back out there. I need to try and get the hire car
Pete agreed. “Although I’m not sure what Nikki
is going to make of all this…”
* * * *
MacGyver hadn’t much felt like discussing work after
what Pam had told them, and Pete had seemed to understand.
Either that or he sensed just how exhausted Mac had been
and didn’t want to tire him further.
Mac had made
a quick phone call to the hospital about Sam, and then
crashed into his hotel bed.
Now, while he
wasn’t exactly ready for a marathon, he at least
didn’t feel like the living dead anymore.
are we looking for out here?” Nikki probed as she
drove the Phoenix Crown Victoria out of town.
Mac studied the
terrain they were passing through without looking back
at Nikki. He had a feeling if she knew the whole story
she’d think he was going nuts, or had imagined things
due to fatigue.
up the hire car and…”
for a dead woman,” Nikki concluded.
told her everything.
if she is actually dead,” Mac countered. “C’mon,
they never found a body or the car.”
“So she’s been driving around for a year and
nobody but you has seen her? And she’d leave her
Nikki had a point,
but then that led back to the supernatural theory Pam
seemed to have been suggesting.
The hire car
came into view and Nikki pulled up beside it. The hood
was still open, and in the light of day MacGyver still
couldn’t find anything wrong with it.
On a whim, he
slid behind the wheel and cranked the ignition just like
he had the night before. It roared into life without even
her eyes. “Are you sure you didn’t make this
up to get me out here all alone? She teased.
It was the usual
bickering game the pair liked to play.
what?” Nikki put a hand on her hip as if she had
far better things to do. In fact, she probably did given
how much she helped Pete these days.
back, I’ll catch up with you. There’s something
I’ve got to see.” MacGyver went to close the
car door, but she grabbed it.
do you get rid of me that easy. I thought you knew me
by now.” She jerked a thumb back to the Ford. “I’ll
Mac gave in and
nodded. But he wasn’t about to wait. He spun the
hire car around and headed towards the collapsed bridge
as fast as he dare on the hole-filled road.
It took about
five minutes to find what he was looking for.
The bridge was
one of the old wooden, covered top designs, and it had
long since given out in the middle.
of timber dangled precariously like taunting rope ladders
to the roaring river below.
Mac left the
car and carefully edged to the brink of the abyss the
buckled bridge had created.
Lying on his
stomach to get a better view, he scrutinized the remains
that were hanging and swaying in the breeze.
From the marks
on the timbers, the bridge had originally given out many
years previously. But then, on timbers closer to the edge,
there were new marks, if only he could get close enough
to examine them.
to his feet and assessed the situation as Nikki finally
you were looking for?” She asked, taking a peek
over the edge herself and squirming.
but I need to get down there to be sure.” He pointed
to the dangling, broken beams. “I don’t suppose
you have a rope in your car?”
“Do I look
like the kind of girl who has a rope in her car?”
roguishly. “Maybe…” He didn’t
take no for an answer and popped the Ford’s trunk
Inside, was a
mass of tangled electrical wiring and bulbs, that he realized
were heavy duty Christmas lights.
supposed to be for the tree outside Phoenix’s offices,”
Nikki explained. “But they were faulty so the supplier
sent another set. I was supposed to take these back. Except
you interrupted with your doomsday plane fiasco and I
Mac ignored her
and began to pull the lights out, laying them out as straight
as possible on the ground. He tugged on them, assessing
what kind of weight they would take, and then pulled out
can’t damage them. I still have to take them back!”
no notice and sliced into the cabling anyway, cutting
several lengths the same size. When he was happy he had
enough, he started to weave them together to make a stronger
him, her expression saying she was slowly realizing what
he was about to do. “You’re going to climb
down there?” She pointed. “Using that? How
on earth can you say you’re afraid of heights?”
Mac looked up.
“I just face my fears rather than run away. And…I
need to know for sure what happened out here.” He
finished up his impromptu “rope” and tied
one end around his waist. Taking the other end, Mac wrapped
it around the front of Nikki’s car. “I need
you to lower me down there real slow.”
as you don’t expect me to go over the edge with
you like on that mountain…” Nikki climbed
back behind the wheel of the Ford and started it up.
had gotten into position on the bridge, she gradually
let the car creep forwards, giving him just enough slack
to begin to climb down, whilst taking the bulk of his
Mac stepped carefully
on the wood as it hung almost vertically.
The rotten laths
creaked and groaned as his boots fell against them, and
here and there, he could feel the wood wanting to give
way. He ignored it, moving down to the section that appeared
to have caved in more recently.
There were marks
on the wood here that at one time would have been the
brink of the timber precipice – and to MacGyver,
they looked like the dark rubber streaks left by tires.
Someone had tried
desperately to brake up on the bridge to stop themselves
going over the rotting edge.
Mac swung carefully
to the collapsed side section of the structure to examine
further. There were more marks, like a car had scraped
along the overpass’s barrier’s, or had been
forced against them.
And the paint
his eyes and remembered Molly’s Pontiac. The huge
dent he’d seen in the back was consistent with another
car ramming into it and forcing it forwards.
He could almost
see the station wagon being pushed over the edge of the
bridge with Molly inside.
snapped back open and he shivered. This was all conjecture
if he couldn’t find enough evidence. Taking out
his knife and an old envelope he had in his pocket, he
scraped some of the red paint inside. That was possible
proof that Molly had been here, if it matched her car.
Pam at the hotel
said a local named Riggs was a suspect, but had he left
anything behind to link him to this place? That was what
they needed most.
off from the delicate timbers and tried to sway across
to the other side of the fallen bridge. There were marks
there too and he needed a closer look.
As he swayed,
he felt the line he was on give just a little and he dropped
Mac felt his
stomach do a flip as his gaze locked with the rushing
cold water below. It looked angry and wild, white frothing
eddies swirling over sections of rock and green algae.
|He could only
imagine what Molly had felt as her car had fallen to its
doom here – if that was what had happened.
He shook away
the thought and began to scrutinize the other marks he’d
discovered. Another car had definitely hit the barrier.
But could he match it to Riggs’s?
away more paint, this time a shade of bright yellow, and
was relieved when his job was finally done. He yanked
lightly on the “rope”.
to come on up!” He shouted loud enough for Nikki
to hear over the roar of the river.
slowly dragged Mac back to the remains of the bridge that
were still on terra firma, and he clambered back onto
solid ground gratefully. “Santa?”
“Did you find anything?”
up the envelope. “There are tire marks on what would
have been the road surface of the bridge, like someone
braked hard. And these two colors of paint are
on the side barrier sections as if they’d scraped
at the remains of the bridge that were intact. “So
the local cops were probably right? Riggs chased Molly
out here, got spooked and forced her off the already damaged
want to admit it, but all the evidence he’d found
pointed to it.
And that meant
the locals were right about something else – Molly
But that couldn’t
be right, because he’d met her out here. She’d
stopped him going over this very bridge, and she’d
given him a lift back to town.
But the Pontiac
was dented, you saw it yourself…right where it would
be dented if someone had…
He always dealt in reality, not this.
to sense what he was thinking. “If Molly went over
the sentence for her. “Then I’m either nuts,
or a ghost gave me a lift home last night…”