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Reveling in the fickle nature of fangirlishness

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Old Fanfiction - War of the Worlds - Texture of Darkness - Part 1/2

Texture of Darkness

Written on December 14, 1989

Part 1:

Suzanne, feeling tired and interrogated to death, returned to the hotel room and collapsed on her bed. Washington always gave her a chill. Too many memories of those first years of marriage with Cash were here. Though she loved visiting Uncle Hank to update him on the progress of the project and the current status of the scientific experiments and their conclusions, she couldn't shake the fond memories of her and Cash and the feelings of regret on how it had all ended. Usually these trips were with Harrison, but this trip it was with lronhorse. He had come in to talk to Uncle Hank as well to give him a report about the tactical situation. She called his room to report in, as he always insisted that they all do, but there was no answer. A prickle of worry hit her as she let the phone ring, still not getting an answer. She had been trying on and off all day to call Ironhorse to keep him apprised of where she was as he had asked her to, but she never got a hold of him, leaving messages that apparently he had never picked up. It was not like him to diverge from routine. She hung up slowly and apprehensively. As soon as she did, it rang, startling her.


"Suzanne, this is Harrison. How are things going there?"

“Oh, Harrison, it's going fine ... " She trailed off.

"Is something wrong? You sound worried."

"Well, I've been trying to call Paul, but he hasn't been in his room all day and that's not like him.”

“You're right about that, but give it some more time, I'm sure that he'll report in. We can't always jump to the conclusion that an alien is behind everything."

"What? This from the one-track mind of Dr. Blackwood? You sound more like Paul."

"Maybe I am. If anything happens or doesn't happen for that matter, let me know.”

"I will.”

Suzanne hung up and decided that Harrison was right. Working with the project had made her suspicious of everything and everyone. She climbed into the shower to wash away the bureaucracy of the day, coming out feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. Deciding to try Paul's room again, she noticed her red light was on. She felt relief and excitement, thinking that it must be Ironhorse finally checking in. She had promised herself that she would tease him no end for breaching his own security rules. She called the front desk.

"Front desk, how can I help you?"

"Are there any messages for room 518?”

"I'll check, mam."

There was a rustling of papers in the background and then the clerk returned to the phone.

"You have a message from Paul lronhorse asking that you meet him at the Lincoln Memorial as soon as possible."

"Thank you very much."

She got dressed in a casual pair of jeans and a white cotton shirt, her hair still wet from the shower; her concern overriding fashion and comfort for the moment and the secure feeling she had felt earlier was melting into apprehension. She braided her hair up to keep it from dripping down her back then looked into her purse to check for the presence of her gun to reassure her.

She had begun to carry it since the close call with Katara; the security of it cemented itself in her consciousness. She had even asked Ironhorse to teach her to use it with accuracy which he
willingly gave of his time to do. He had thought it was important that everyone learned how to defend themselves, feeling no egotistical indispensability, or wanting to, about defending them
alone, but Harrison's pacifism, Norton's resistance and up until recently, Suzanne's own apathy and avoidance, hindered and overworked Ironhorse to his limits at times.

She was filled with foreboding. Her greatest fear was that of one of the team becoming an alien and capturing and killing the others. Uncertainty was their biggest enemy against the aliens. She
left the hotel, hailed a cab, climbed in and gave the driver the destination. She tried to rationalize that she was overreacting, but working with the team had endowed her with a preternatural sixth sense and she felt that there was something wrong, but she had nowhere to turn, but ahead to face her fears. She prayed inwardly that she was just being silly.

The cab arrived at the Lincoln Memorial and Suzanne stepped out, paid the driver, and ran to the Memorial. She looked around her to see if she could find that familiar uniform. Her eyes scanned
worriedly. She felt herself rising to a panic stage and she hated that feeling. Where could Ironhorse have gone?

Suddenly, she spied him pacing in front of the gigantic statue of Lincoln sitting majestically in his chair, almost as if watching Ironhorse pace; his face taking on a quizzical look from a distance. Ironhorse looked up and saw her heading toward him. He waved at her as if he was signaling her, expecting her.

Suzanne's relief at seeing that he was all right, slowed her clipped running and she saw that he was waving at her. She waved back, and headed toward him.

"Paul, thank God, you're all right." Suzanne said.

“Why wouldn't I be all right?" lronhorse asked.

"When I got your message I --"

"My message? I didn't leave you a message. I thought you --"

Suddenly Suzanne felt a sharp pain at the base of her neck and grabbed it, but before she could examine what it had been, she felt the world spin in front of her and she blacked out. lronhorse caught her in his arms and frantically looked around him. He laid her carefully down and began to reach for his gun, but he, too, felt a sharp prick at the base of his neck. The drug's effect was just as immediate on him as it had been for Suzanne, but his last thoughts weren't of wonder, but of recognition of having been drugged.

A crowd began to gather at seeing two people collapse in front of the Memorial and just as quickly, the arrival of two ambulance attendants with stretchers gathering them up into them and wheeling them to a nearby ambulance. The crowd looked on curiously, but hardly suspicious and when the ambulance drove off, they began to walk again, as if nothing had happened.

* * * *

lronhorse awoke feeling groggy and though his instinctive reflexes wanted to snap up and assess his condition and location, his nerve synapses failed him and he just laid on the cot he was in, feeling an oppressive push from some imaginary weight keeping him down. He tried to focus his thoughts to try to figure out what had happened. He had been drugged and so had Suzanne, but where was she?

Suddenly he heard a moan from somewhere in the same room where he laid. The effects of the drug were weakening their hold on him and he managed to turn over and pull his legs over the edge of the cot. He got to a sitting position with difficulty. The room spun wildly for a second, but steadied. Ironhorse looked around him and saw that Suzanne was laying on a cot on the
opposite wall of the small cell that they shared. He tried to rise, but couldn't without causing another wave of dizziness.

“Suzanne?" He half-whispered.

She groaned again and slowly turned to face him. Other than a grimace of discomfort, which he could certainly identify with, she looked unharmed.

"Suzanne? Can you hear me?" Ironhorse asked.

Suzanne heard the voice and her eyes fluttered open. They squinted at him even though the room was fairly dark except for a barred window and for the first time, he had noticed, a barred door like one would find in a western jail.

"Paul?" Suzanne intoned with a rasp in her voice.

"Yes, are you all right?"

"Other than a hangover the likes of which I have never experienced, I seem to be in one piece. How about you?"

"I'm okay."

"What happened?" Suzanne asked as she rose to a sitting position as slowly as Ironhorse had.

"We were drugged... " lronhorse paused, forcing himself to remember. "I had gotten
that message from you at the hotel .... "

"Paul, I didn't leave --" Suzanne said aghast, "I got a message from you --"

"I didn't leave a message either. All this was a trap." lronhorse spit out with anger. "Damn! I should've known!"

"How could you have known?" Suzanne asked, hoping to rationalize to ease Ironhorse's noble sense of self-recrimination.

"Who could've done this? The aliens? Why? They can't possibly know who we are."

"Who could know?" Suzanne asked.

As if to answer her question, the sound of footsteps approached the prison door. The shadows cast against the outer wall seemed a monstrous mutation of a human form and Ironhorse swallowed hard from the uncertainty of their fates.

"I would, Suzanne," said a very familiar voice.

Out from of the shadows came the bulky figure of Cash McCullough, her ex-husband, who had nearly blown the cover of the project with his journalistic nosing around a few months ago. He
had sworn not to reveal the project's existence, but only because revealing it and the purpose of its existence would destroy his credibility, such as it was, but lronhorse had always felt uneasy about that bargain. He had felt when the time came, Cash would betray them. He was never sorrier to be proven right.

"Cash?" Suzanne said, shocked and angry. "What is this?"

"McCullough, what is the meaning of this?" lronhorse said, trying to contain his own anger.

"It's about aliens, Colonel.”Cash taunted.

"What about them?" lronhorse said, bracing himself for the bombshell to come.

“Cash, let us out of here. What do you want?" Suzanne demanded, despite her own fears of what Cash had in store for them. He could be a dangerous enemy armed with information.

Cash produced a gun from his pocket, headed to the door with a key and opened it. He aimed the gun at Ironhorse, keeping him at bay.

"Suzanne, come with me." Cash instructed calmly.

"What are you going to do?'" lronhorse demanded angrily, helpless against the gun pointed at him. Any move that he made might get Suzanne hurt or worse, killed.

"It's all right, Paul.”

"You were always smart, Suzanne."

"Something I didn't get from you."

lronhorse watched as Suzanne walked out of the cell and Cash locked the door again. Ironhorse gazed through the bars and Suzanne looked back at him, fear streaking her face. She and Cash
walked away from the cell, but Cash stopped and turned back to face it again.

“What is it?" Suzanne asked, curious as to why Cash was focusing his attention back to the cell and lronhorse.

Suddenly, three other human male figures materialized from out of the shadows. Suzanne stood and watched as Cash handed one of them the key to the cell.

"What is this?" Suzanne asked, her fear rising. "What are you going to do?"

Cash was silent and she turned to see one of the men open the cell door. She felt the gun press against her back as Cash poked it to remind her that he wouldn't hesitate to use it and she was
paralyzed to do anything.

"Suzanne, no matter what happens to me, don't tell them anything." lronhorse said as he began to back away, seeing them come toward him. "Suzanne, do you understand?"

"Paul, I -”

"Answer me, Suzanne." lronhorse insisted.

"I understand ... " she said, choked with emotion and helplessness.

"Cash, what are they going to do to him?! Tell me, you bastard!" Suzanne shouted, as she looked back into the cell.

The other two figures walked in and the one with the key followed them, closing the door behind him. Suzanne heard sounds of struggle and the need to want to see what was happening was overwhelming, but when she tried to move, Cash took her arm and held her back.

Suddenly there was silence.


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I so enjoyed reading this first part - and I'm so curious to see what will happen! :D

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