8.18: Part One
street was empty, the afternoon sunlight edging the old,
wood windowsills and dented gutters of the tall buildings.
A warm wind stirred the street grit and swirled it around
the sneakers of the tall man walking around the corner.
He carried a sports bag over one shoulder, a battered
hockey stick poking out of the top. He hitched the bag
up and stuffed both hands into the pockets of his jacket,
glancing into the mouth of an alley as he passed.
He didn’t see a darker shadow detach itself from
the alley gloom.
He didn’t hear the man step up behind him.
When the rough bag dropped over his head, he dropped the
sports gear and struggled violently, kicking out, using
feet and elbows and knees. But the man from the alley
pulled him backwards, stealing his balance and wrapping
a choke hold around his neck. He tightened the hold, easing
his prey down to the ground and crouching behind him.
He waited while the struggles grew weaker, leaning in
close to his prey.
“You know the drill, MacGyver. Tap, snap or nap.”
He waited a moment longer and the struggles stopped as
MacGyver slid into unconsciousness.
“Nap. Good choice.” His voice was calm, conversational.
He rolled MacGyver over and zip tied his hands. Then he
stood, gripped MacGyver under the arms and dragged him
into the alley.
The wind blew the street grit around the sports bag, and
a discarded playbill fluttered where it had been trapped
by the fallen hockey stick.
Further down the alley, a door slammed.
And the street was empty again.
* * *
There was a moment when the world swam back into focus.
MacGyver was aware of moving, his sneakers scraping backwards
up a step. He tried to get his feet under him, blinking
in the darkness as his head cleared. Somewhere nearby,
he heard a door slam. He wobbled to his feet, heard one
soft footstep and a blow to his temple put the lights
* * *
The hood smelled of dust. MacGyver took a deep breath
as consciousness returned. He blinked, his eyelashes fluttering
against rough fabric.
He blinked again, shook his head to clear it and tried
to move, fear flooding cold through him as he discovered
he was bound. He was sitting in a chair, his wrists fastened
tightly to the cold metal frame. He breathed in, smelled
dust, and felt the coarse fabric of the hood press against
his face. Light filtered through the cloth, dimming briefly
as someone crossed in front of him. MacGyver heard the
scrape of another chair, and the light returned as his
captor sat down. His heart thudded loud in his ears. Who
would do this? Who had he upset recently? Could it be
Mariotte? He was in serious trouble if so…
“What do you want?” MacGyver’s voice
came out croaky and he coughed.
“Not 'where am I?’” His captor sounded
amused. “I believe starting with ‘where am
I’ is traditional, soldier.”
Inside the hood MacGyver frowned, trying to place the
voice. Not Mariotte, at least…
“What do you want?” MacGyver flexed his wrists
against the chair, feeling narrow bonds biting into the
skin. Cable ties, perhaps.
“Still not playing the game, Corporal.” The
voice was less amused now. “Thanks to you, I lost
everything I ever wanted, so I’m having to settle
for you instead.”
jumped as his captor kicked the chair leg. “Imagine
The voice was familiar, even muffled by the hood. MacGyver
concentrated, replaying the conversation in his head,
trying to remember how he’d got here.
‘Tap, snap or nap’. The phrase echoed up out
of his hazy memory. The man had called him ‘soldier’
and ‘Corporal’. Someone from the DXS?
No. Further back.
Someone from Vietnam.
‘Tap, snap or nap’. The memory of a sweaty
arm around his neck and a tanned face grinning down at
him as oblivion darkened the edges of his vision.
“Very good.” A hand seized the hood and pulled
it off, leaving MacGyver squinting in the light.
“Why?” MacGyver shook his hair out of his
eyes. “What do you want with me?”
“What indeed…” Sergeant Cooper studied
the man in front of him. “I received some unexpected
mail this week. Seems like a lot of dirty secrets are
coming to light now that Tricky Dicky’s no longer
with us.” He paused, watching MacGyver’s expression.
“OK…” MacGyver frowned, confused.
“I received a report. A blast from our shared past
in South East Asia, from a colleague with an unnecessarily
guilty conscience. He had some information he felt I needed
to know.” Cooper bent down, removed a file from
a bag beside him and threw it onto the table between them.
As he turned, MacGyver could see the gun on his hip. Cooper
saw him looking at the gun and smiled, faint and thin.
The file slid towards MacGyver, who glanced down and then
spread his hands, waggling his fingers.
“If you want me to look at it…” MacGyver
trailed off as Cooper took a knife from his pocket and
flicked open a blade. Cooper stared at the blade for a
moment, then took two swift steps behind MacGyver and
pulled his head back, laying the blade against his throat.
“How could you!” Cooper leaned in close, his
voice a savage whisper, “They were civilians. They
were innocents and you killed them!” His knuckles
whitened on the knife and MacGyver tried to lean away.
Cooper’s grip tightened in MacGyver’s hair
and he felt the steel cold against his skin.
“She was two years old, you bastard.” Abruptly,
Cooper let MacGyver go, spinning around to pace across
the room. MacGyver released the breath he’d been
“Sergeant Cooper, I have no idea what you’re
talking about. You gotta believe me.” MacGyver flinched
as Cooper stepped in front of him again, the knife catching
“Liar!” Spit landed on the table and Cooper
wiped his mouth with a shaking hand. “You killed
them. I knew it wasn’t some tin-pot, home brewed
bomb, not that amount of destruction. It was you. You
ordered an mortar strike against a village full of civilians.
They had no idea. No warning. No chance to get out.”
He paused, breathing heavily. “When you ordered
that strike, Corporal MacGyver, you killed my wife and
my daughter. I swore then that I’d find the son
of a bitch responsible for it if it took me the rest of
my life, and now I’ve found you.” MacGyver
jumped as Cooper trailed the knife up his neck, the point
pricking under his ear. “You stood in my office
and you told me you were sorry for my loss. And I believed
felt the knife press against his skin, cold and sharp.
“Sergeant Cooper, listen. I never ordered a mortar
strike! I certainly never ordered one against civilians!
You know me, you know how much I hate violence. I would
never…” he broke off as Cooper slid the knife
onto his cheek, staring into his eyes.
“Read it.” Cooper cut one of the cable ties,
freeing MacGyver’s left hand. He stepped around
the table and sat down, with his hand on the gun, his
eyes fever-bright in his pale face. “Read it all.”
MacGyver reached out and opened the file, scanning quickly
through the pages. He lifted one out, reading it again.
“This is wrong.” He glanced across, finding
Cooper staring at him. “It didn’t happen like
“It’s an official report, soldier!”
MacGyver flinched as Cooper leapt up, yelling into his
face. The point of the knife stabbed down into the pages
before them. “An official report! Handed in by the
artillery officer who actioned the strike you ordered!
Who approved the strike because he thought he was taking
out a nest of the VC and doing his goddamn patriotic duty!”
Cooper paused, breathing hard. MacGyver could smell him,
the scent strong and bitter. “You ordered it. Right
there.” He pulled the knife out of the table top
and stabbed down again, piercing the ‘M’ of
a familiar, typed name.
“That’s not what happened.” MacGyver
might as well have not spoken. Cooper leant forwards.
His face inches from MacGyver’s. He yanked his knife
“You killed them, you son of a bitch. You killed
them and now you’re going to die for your crimes.”