MacsJeep & Rocket
8.20: Part One
Phoenix Foundation Local Reserve
his arms dangle over the fence loosely as he watched the
wild mustangs grazing in the distance. It had been months
ago now that he’d saved them from certain death
at the hands of local ranchers, and every now and again
he liked to come out and visit.
This time, he’d
brought Sam along to meet his favorite stallion –
a horse that had saved his life during a brushfire.
I get the feeling you could retire out here right now
and forget L.A. even exists?” Sam teased, taking
a bite out of a sandwich he’d brought along as he
too watched the mustangs. “I guess they are kinda
interesting. Maybe I could do an article on them sometime…”
He set down the sandwich, picked up his camera and began
to take a few random shots.
He lowered the
camera again as one of the horses separated from the herd
and walked over to them. The horse leaned over the fence
and MacGyver reached out to stroke his nose.
The horse’s ears swiveled and he snorted softly.
“You remember me, don’t you?” He stroked
the horse’s neck and turned to Sam. “This
guy saved my life. Bravest thing I ever saw.”
Sam reached out to stroke the horse too, but the stallion
snorted and stepped back. Sam hurriedly withdrew his hand.
“OK, no touching!” The horse stared at him
for a moment longer, then stepped forward and deftly stole
The horse stepped back out of reach, chewing. “Did
you see that, Dad? He stole it! I didn’t think horses
even ate cheese!”
guess this one does!” MacGyver laughed, watching
the horse turn and saunter back to his herd. Sam sighed
and picked up his camera again.
I can photograph him, thief that he is!”
watched Sam at work and smiled. It had been a good idea
to come to Nevada for a couple of days. It was weird,
but out here he felt so alive, so free from any burdens.
He hated to admit it to himself, but just lately he felt
like age was catching up with him. Nothing specific, just
the odd headache here and the odd eye strain there. Maybe
I need to get out of the Aurix Project and back into some
good old fashioned field work where I can get some fresh
for the thoughts going through that inexplicable head
of yours?” Sam had stopped taking pictures and was
staring at his dad intently. “You know, you’ve
been a little too serious lately?”
just the assignment Pete has me and Nikki working on,”
MacGyver admitted with a sigh. He turned away from the
panoramic view, leaned his back against the fence and
shook his head wearily. “There’s a couple
more weeks of it yet, and its all red tape and paperwork.”
He pinched the bridge of his nose. “It’s one
big headache, literally!”
Sam grinned knowingly. “Paperwork was never your
thing. Anything I can do to help?” He stuck in a
new roll of film and clicked his Canon shut.
winced. “Nope, it’s an external audit on an
electronics company specializing in avionics. They’re
doing some work for N.A.S.A., and N.A.S.A. basically wants
to know they’re getting top grade circuitry after
what happened to the Challenger shuttle.”
at least the N.A.S.A. part sounds interesting,”
Sam prodded. “Anything you can give me a scoop on?”
There was a teasing grin on his face that suggested he
already knew the answer.
Not unless you want a few hundred shots of diodes, PCB’s,
resistors, coils, IC’s, solder wire…”
Sam held up his
hands in defeat. “Okay, I agree, it sounds boring!”
The grin slowly faded from his face and he became a little
more serious. “You know, speaking of work…”
the tone and the expression instantly. Sam had an assignment,
and he knew his dad wasn’t going to like it. “You
have a job, huh?”
my editor rang before we came out here.” Sam looked
apologetic, but there was also a spark of excitement in
his voice. “It’s overseas. I won’t be
gone too long, but I kinda might be incommunicado for
a few days.”
There was an
awkward pause. Mac wanted to say Sam shouldn’t go.
Heck, he wanted the kid to have some nice nine to five
office job that never put him in peril unless the coffee
machine exploded. But then, how could he ask that given
his own lifestyle? Eventually, he patted Sam on the back
and forced a wan smile even though his mind was screaming
by the sounds of it we should both be about finished the
same time. What say we do another road trip on the bikes
afterwards? I know I could do with the break and fresh
air, minus the plane crash this time, though.”
“Yeah, definitely minus the plane crash!”
He put his camera away in his holdall and his eyes turned
just a little watery. “Glad I found you dad…even
if it did take awhile.”
his arm around Sam and squeezed just a little. “Not
as glad as I am, kiddo.”
* * *
MacGyver peered through the special glass of the clean
room, watching intently as the employees within worked
meticulously on tiny, but very important PCB’s.
At his side, Nikki Carpenter was almost as mesmerized.
The lights were bright, and MacGyver squinted against
the glare, feeling a headache starting behind his eyes.
The room was
where the RCS thruster control circuits were being manufactured
for the latest space shuttle, and everything had to be
“surgically” clean. The area looked more like
a hospital lab than a factory, with two glass walls for
The workers inside
all wore white coveralls, shoe covers, white hats, masks
and blue latex gloves. There was special matting on the
floor to pick up any dirt or dust from people who entered,
along with a special air filtration system to ensure everything
was squeaky clean. Hi Tec seemed too loose a description,
but the safety measures were very necessary.
to say, this is pretty impressive,” Nikki offered,
taking her eyes from the room to turn to Mac, arms folded
in front of her.
nodded. “Yeah, but it’s not what it looks
like, remember? It’s about the whole process from
goods inwards to shipping. If any one process fails to
meet N.A.S.A.’s criteria…”
knowingly and was about to make a comment when their guide
from Aurix, Michelle Brewer reappeared from the nearby
offices. She clasped her hands together and beamed just
a little too pleasantly. “Everything in order?”
help but smile back. Michelle was a very pretty blonde
with a figure that matched her radiant expression. That
didn’t, however, detract him from his mission. “Looking
good here,” he answered. “Can we have the
records for quality audits done on all the components
fitted to the RCS thruster controls when they entered
goods inwards next please?”
a brow but scurried off back to the offices.
a whole lot of paperwork to sift through,” Nikki
winced. “Do we really need them?”
all this cleanliness and static free environment is pretty
useless if the parts weren’t up to scratch from
the supplier.” Mac jerked a thumb back to the clean
room. “Seeing isn’t always believing,”
he pointed out.
“Yeah, and the devil is in the detail.” She
looked a little sheepish. “Sorry, I’m just
getting tired of the red tape side of things. I don’t
know how Pete does this stuff 24/7.”
he’s a saint.” Mac pinched the bridge of his
nose with a sigh as Michelle returned with a huge pile
of printouts. He took them with another smile. “Thanks.”
Then he glanced at Nikki apologetically. “Would
you mind if we headed back already? I hate to admit it
but my head is splitting in two. I can take the printouts
home and check them later. There’s nothing top secret
about quality control figures, after all.”
patted his arm. “Be my guest, especially if it means
I don’t have to dig through them all.”
She let out a sigh. “To be honest, I’m tired
too. Paperwork is more draining than field work. Who knew?”
Mac nodded. He
knew alright. That was why he usually avoided it like
the plague. He let Nikki take point out to the parking
lot, dumping the computer prints on the back seat before
climbing behind the wheel. Nikki hopped in beside him
and stuck on her belt.
James,” she teased, patting the dash.
like he should make a sarcastic comment back – it
was how they worked together, but today, he just didn’t
have it in him. He wasn’t just tired, he was dead
of talking, it took all his concentration to turn on the
ignition and pull out onto the highway. His hands felt
strange on the steering wheel, like they weren’t
even attached to his arms. I should pull over…
at this point, his limbs didn’t seem to want to
obey his mind anymore. He blinked and shook his head,
hoping to clear it, but the movement spiked pain in his
forehead and his vision blurred. He tried to tighten his
grip on the wheel, but his fingers felt rubbery and indistinct.
I should slow down…
you OK?” He heard Nikki’s voice, but she sounded
very far away.
Mac tried to
press the brakes, but his foot wouldn’t budge from
the accelerator. In fact, he was actually applying more
gas, because his legs were now simple dead weights he
“Mac? MacGyver! Talk to me! Are you Okay? MAC!”
in the back of his aching brain, he heard Nikki scream
out a warning about a bend, and then abruptly he was sleeping
– dreaming about mustangs, and being finally free.
* * *
know how long he’d been out of it, but as his eyes
opened up and struggled to focus, he realized he was in
a hospital room with the window blinds closed and the
He tried to move,
noted it hurt his head far too much, and that he was hooked
up to an I.V. even though he couldn’t feel any physical
injuries bar his headache.
his eyes close momentarily, tried to remember exactly
what had happened, and when he couldn’t, he dared
to reach over and press his bedside buzzer. Even that
movement made him dizzy. He recalled the one time he’d
gotten drunk as a Kid – the one time that had put
him off alcohol for life – and even then he hadn’t
been half as “out of it” as he felt now.
the corridor made him pause any reminiscing and he squinted
painfully as the door opened and the room lights automatically
A female in a
white coat entered, and before Mac could say anything
introduced herself. “Ah you’re awake, welcome
back Mr. MacGyver. I’m Doctor Helena Curtis, the
neurosurgeon assigned to your case.”
taking in the words, but it was hard to let anything sink
in. “Neurosurgeon?” He frowned as if it would
help. “What happened? Where’s Nikki?”
was in the car when..?
face said it all before she even answered. “It appears
you blacked out at the wheel. There was an accident and…I’m
afraid your friend…”
every muscle in his body sag. He blinked up at the doctor
and shook his head. Nikki couldn’t be dead! They
were just talking, just griping in fact, about how the
Aurix audit was hard work. He rubbed at his temple and
closed his eyes.
“There must be a mistake…”
The silence stretched
as MacGyver tried to piece together what had happened.
He fought past the pain and the fog in his head, retracing
the journey. He’d felt ill, set off in the Jeep
with Nikki, and then…
he’d lost control.
hands bunched in the sheets and he screwed his eyes shut,
the pounding in his head deafening, hot tears pricking
behind his eyelids. Curtis walked closer, stuffing her
hands in the pockets of her white coat. It somehow made
her seem slightly intimidating when Mac finally reopened
his eyes and accepted what she was saying. “I’m
so sorry, she didn’t have a chance. Your Jeep careered
off the highway and down a steep incline. It’s a
miracle you escaped with cuts and bruises.”
swallowed, fighting for control. It really wasn’t
about cuts and bruises, he didn’t care what had
happened to him; it was about the why this had
happened. It was the usual story of everyone around him
ended up dead or hurt and he walked away unscathed.
tired. I should have asked Nikki to drive.” The
words and tone were sharp and bitter. Right now he hated
himself more than any man on earth. He clenched his jaw
against the scream trying to escape and hunched forwards.
her. It’s all my fault.” MacGyver’s
whisper was harsh and strained, and Dr. Curtis had to
lean in close to hear him.
wasn’t your fault,” Curtis was apologetic
now, like she had more bad news. But that was probably
because she did. “You didn’t just black out
through fatigue Mr. MacGyver, it was because you’ve
developed an aneurysm – from looking at your notes
I’d say it was caused by a fall you took some time
ago off a multi-storey car lot?”
looked up at her and shook his head as if it wasn’t
possible. “That was a few years ago. I’ve
been fine since?”
that’s often how these things work. You often don’t
know you have one until it leaks or bursts.” Curtis
was talking slower, and her eyes watched MacGyver for
every reaction. “Have you had any headaches lately,
blurred vision, anything like that?”
Mac ran a hand
through the front of his hair and found the motion hurt.
He wasn’t sure if he’d bumped his head in
the crash, or if it was from the aneurysm itself. “A
few headaches,” he finally admitted. “But
that was just work?”
The doctor shook
her head. “No it wasn’t.” Her eyes suddenly
moved to the linoleum floor. “I’m afraid there’s
Could this really get any worse?
from the size and the position of the aneurysm that it’s
inoperable. And given the headaches, the blackout and
scan results we’ve just taken, we think its leaking
and could burst at any time.” Curtis put a hand
on Mac’s forearm. “I know this must be a shock,
too much to take in even. I’ll leave you for awhile.”
his mouth to tell her not to leave, but it was too dry
to even make a coherent sound. In the end he just nodded
and slumped back onto his pillow.
It was ironic
really, how it had taken all those years for Sam to find
him, and now this was going to happen. But then he always
did hurt the ones he loved – that was why he’d
never settled into marriage – it was too risky.
And what about
was too much to accept she could be gone like a candle
extinguished in the night by some random breeze. She was
too strong, too sassy, and too alive.
should have died back then when I took the fall onto that
car. It would have been cleaner, less messy. No Sam to
upset. No Nikki to kill…
But then fate
had always been cruel that way, and now the good old reaper
was going to finally collect what was his.
And right at
that moment, MacGyver didn’t care.
* * *
horn startled MacGyver into a waking state, and he rubbed
at his eyes. The nightmare of the hospital room was thankfully
gone, replaced by the view from a liner’s wooden
deck. He couldn’t recall why he was on a ship, but
it was far better than the dream he’d been having
about aneurysms and Nikki’s death.
Mac blinked and
looked around him. There were passengers milling everywhere,
and some of them seemed strangely familiar. He stepped
closer to the safety rail and leaned over just enough
to catch the name of the vessel he was on, emblazoned
on a plate.
It took a moment
for realization to dawn. This was the liner that carried
souls across to the afterlife – at least that was
what his mind had shown him after the fall a few years
back. He’d met his mother and father here, and Grandpa
the hospital was real? Am I dead already? Did I die in
backwards, stunned, his mind reeling with questions.
MacGyver, so nice to see you again!” A voice from
an upper level caught his attention, and when Mac looked
up he saw the captain of the Osiris peering over
a rail at him. “Why did you have to go to Aurix
Aeronautics Mr. MacGyver? What did you need to investigate
for? There was nothing to see, and now Nikki Carpenter
is dead because of you…”
captain stepped back to reveal Nikki looking out across
the horizon, back to the land they were fast leaving behind.
Reality and life that they were leaving behind.
Mac backed away
until his shoulders hit the stark coldness of an outer
cabin wall. He tried to close his eyes to it all, but
even through the darkness, his mind filled with images
of the Jeep speeding off the highway at a sharp bend and
tumbling wildly onto the rocks below.
voice droned on. “Why Mr. MacGyver? Why bother with
Aurix? Was it your idea? Well done! You killed a friend…”
MacGyver yelled, arms flailing out of control, until after
a few seconds he realized he was back in the hospital
room in the darkness. He fell back against the pillows,
panting heavily as sweat dripped from his brow. His mind
was hazy, and his skull felt like it was ready to explode
– but then maybe it was.
turned into minutes, he eventually felt composed enough
to shakily press the buzzer again. He wasn’t sure
he liked Dr. Curtis, but then maybe that was because she
was the bearer of bad news. Right now, though, he needed
more answers, even if it meant they were from her.
It took awhile,
but eventually Curtis appeared. As she entered, was that
a look of annoyance on her face? It was fleeting, and
MacGyver wasn’t even sure it wasn’t his imagination
and fatigue filled eyes playing tricks.
think I had some kind of nightmare or…I don’t
know?” MacGyver pushed up onto his elbows. “It
was like…like before, when I was in the hospital
with the original head injury, except everyone in the
dream, vision, call it what you will, they were yelling
about Aurix, about Nikki about…”
it being your fault?” Curtis nodded and helped him
into a sitting position. “It’s the aneurysm,”
she explained. “It’s causing pressure –
that coupled with your subconscious reliving recent events,
and you have a very heady cocktail. Maybe it would help
to talk to someone about it?”
Mac cocked a
brow. Seeing therapists had never been his thing. “You
mean see a counselor?”
and there it was again, that little tinge of insincerity
that was gone in the blink of an eye. “Something
like that. It might help after all you’ve been through.”
any point?” MacGyver watched the doctor’s
expression. “I mean, why bother, if I’m dying?”
He sucked down a breath, wishing he wasn’t so negative.
He was never negative. He should be coming up with a plan
to live, all held together with a little hope and a dash
of duct tape. Eventually, he let the breath back out and
stared at Curtis. “Pete Thornton? My son Sam? Why
aren’t they here?”
is taking care of the audit at Aurix. It has to be complete
before the next shuttle launch in just two days, apparently,
but he assures me he’ll be in as soon as he can.
He’s also having a top neurosurgeon flown in for
a second opinion, but…”
don’t expect them to come up with anything, either,”
Mac finished for her, suddenly feeling the urge to tinker
with something to keep his hands and mind busy, except
here he didn’t even have a pen or a paperclip. “And
“I’m sorry. We’ve been trying to contact
him since all of this happened, but no luck. If you have
a way of contacting him..?”
did say he’d be incommunicado for a few days on
suddenly hit MacGyver like he’d never felt before,
not even when he was on missions behind enemy lines with
no contact with the outside world. He was truly alone,
no son, no friends, just the knowledge that he was dying,
his final days tormented by nightmares and guilt trips.
“Okay,” he gave in. “I’ll see
the counselor, if nothing else it’s someone else
to talk to.”
Curtis seemed pleased, considering it was a pointless
exercise, but Mac let her have the moment. He didn’t
have the energy not to. “She’s actually just
finishing with another patient. I’ll go see if she
can fit you in today…”
The doctor vanished,
her white coat swishing like a cape-wearing wraith in
the night, and within five minutes, she was back with
a tiny woman MacGyver could have sworn he’d seen
in a Bond Movie – and not on the side of 007. She
wore a very prim and proper plaid suit, and her eyes narrowed
like she was scrutinizing everything.
Curtis left them
MacGyver I presume?” The little woman plopped down
onto the only chair in the room and smiled far too broadly.
Didn’t she know how he was feeling? Didn’t
she know he maybe had days, hours even to live? “I’m
Dr. Sandhurst. Dr. Curtis tells me you’ve been having
nightmares. Care to tell about them?” She folded
her arms in front of her and waited expectantly.
the brusque approach worked and Mac opened up to the tiny
counselor more than he ever had to anyone – even
Pete. Or maybe that was just because of the drugs they
had him on?
keep seeing Aurix – it’s a place I was doing
an audit on before the accident – except in my dreams
I see other people, Nikki who died in the accident, my
Grandpa…and…” Mac’s voice trailed.
How could he tell this woman about his brush with death
before, and about the Osiris, the ship that took
away the dead? He bit his lip, remaining silent.
Instead of asking
him to continue, Sandhurst’s eyes narrowed. “If
you’re nightmares are about Aurix, it might be significant.
What were you doing there, Mr. MacGyver? Is there something
about the place in your subconscious you’d feel
better telling me about? Perhaps you found something there
in the audit that might be triggering that part of your
mind was too bleary, too overwhelmed by the questions.
He shook his head, trying to clear it. “No, I don’t
think so…it was just a whole lot of red tape…”
Careful Mac, remember she doesn’t have security
clearance to know what Aurix are working on…
can be so annoying, can’t it Mr. MacGyver?”
She patted his arm. “Do try to think on it. I’m
sure the key to unlocking the nightmares is this project
of yours…” Sandhurst rose from her seat, sniffed
and headed for the door. Before closing it behind her,
she looked at him pointedly. “Do call for me if
you think of anything else you’d like to get off
The door slammed
as she exited, and Mac was left feeling like he’d
just been examined by an alien nation under a microscope.
Sandhurst hadn’t tried to help him one bit, she’d
cross-examined him and then left.
isn’t just a nightmare; it’s a waking nightmare
I can’t escape from. It’s not right somehow…
There was something,
something he should have noticed on the edge of his peripheral
vision, but that was hiding just out of reach. MacGyver
tried to concentrate, but the act seemed to just make
him more tired. He attempted to fight it, but was suddenly
so weighed down by some mental fog, that he once again
drifted off into slumber.
a place he wanted to be, and yet his mind dragged him
back there. He was on “the other side” again,
walking down the deck of the liner of death. He could
feel the timbers beneath his sneakers, and smell the salty
The way his name was spoken sounded like a taunt, and
he couldn’t resist whirling around, even though
he knew who was heckling.
It was the ship’s
captain again, and he was shaking his head like he was
scolding a naughty child. “Mr. MacGyver, you know
you really shouldn’t have left last time. Your place
was here all along, on the trip with Harry.”
his head. This wasn’t real, it was a dream, and
all he had to do was wake up and it would be over, wouldn’t
it? Except part of him believed it. Were his mom and dad
here to greet him this time?
tut, who will look after Sam now that you’re going
to die?” The captain continued his tirade, and two
crewmen had joined him, there stance suggesting they wouldn’t
allow MacGyver to try and leave without a fight. “Was
Aurix and what you found there really that important?
Just what did you find there, Mr. MacGyver? Why
were you even looking? Who was it at N.A.S.A. that put
in the request? You see, it’s all their fault don’t
away, cradling his head in his hands, the pain in his
skull was so intense. His brain felt like it was ready
to melt down and his vision was so blurred he saw three
of everything. Could you actually feel like that on the
not giving up on me again, are you, Bud?” The words
were scolding again, but this time there was a tinge of
affection too, and Mac could have recognized the gruff
voice anywhere. It was Harry.
his hands away from his head and dared to open his eyes.
Harry was looking
back at him, and he looked angry. “You shouldn’t
be here, not then, not now. I told you before, it’s
not your time. Now go get back where you belong and sort
out this mess, Bud, before I have to take my boot to your
behind and kick ya there!”
Mac smiled wanly.
Somehow, the ticking off from Harry had made him feel
better – stronger, and his head was clearing too.
Maybe he could fight this, maybe…
shouldn’t be here, not then, not now. I told you
it’s not your time…”
voice repeated the words over and over, fading slowly
until he was gone, and the Osiris and her crew
along with him.
blinked and noted he was staring at the ceiling of his
hospital room in the darkness, and he was panting. What
the heck just happened? His mind wanted answers,
and for once, his body seemed willing enough to want to
help him find them. From somewhere, he pulled the strength
to roll over, mindful of the needle in his hand and the
line snaking up to the drip stand. He felt for the tube,
but couldn’t find it.
And then it hit
him – he’d been writhing in his sleep so much
he’d somehow pulled the I.V. from the back of his
hand. How long had it been out? And more to the point
wasn’t it meant to make him feel better? So why
did he actually feel more alert, now it was out?
Mac pushed up
onto his elbows and tested his body. His head ached, but
it was a duller pain, and he was still groggy, but somehow
he felt different. He pushed up further, swinging his
body onto the edge of the bed. Dare he try to stand?
He let his feet
slide to the floor and was surprised how cold it was to
his flesh. He shivered, and then realized he was standing
without any assistance. There were slippers by the bedside
chair, and instinctively he slid them on. Barefoot was
never good in an unknown situation, and this was fast
becoming just that.
what about Pete?
don’t care about how important the Aurix thing is,
he would have been here for me!
stumbled to the cupboard across from his bed, using the
wall for support until the feeling of Jell-O in his legs
abated. Gently teasing open the door with shaking hands,
he expected his personal things, clothes at least, but
there was nothing. Great, stuck in a hospital gown and
slippers. Not my day, or night, whichever it is!
Being in a gown
didn’t mean he had to be stuck in the room, though.
He wanted details now that his mind was clear of the chemical
induced fog. What hospital was this anyway? Who were these
He stumbled to
the door and gripped the chrome knob, twisting with what
little strength he had, but it was locked. What kind of
hospital locked patients in, apart from mental facilities?
What if there was an emergency?
so what about the window, there are always alternatives…
Mac turned himself
around and again used the walls to navigate the room.
With each step, though, he was feeling better and his
headache was clearing. That shouldn’t be happening
with an aneurysm, now should it?
The blinds on
the window were closed – in fact, now that he thought
about it; they had been since his arrival. Originally
he’d thought it was to help with the headaches he’d
been suffering from, but was that really the reason?
pulled the cord to open the blind, but what he found wasn’t
what he’d been expecting, and it certainly wasn’t
a view of L.A.
window had been carefully boarded over from the outside.
And there was
no hospital in the world that did that.