Misinterpretations & Malevolence
Military Aircraft Enroute to Toronto – Shortly After the Call
The imperturbable General Braddock was striding back and forth. He had bellowed and demanded until he was hoarse for them to move quicker. They were able to shave time off but not near enough to appease him. He had to be there NOW. He needed him NOW. Why couldn't he be there NOW?
He had heard the howling screams in background. He knew, he knew, he absolutely knew who was screaming. Screams he had never wanted to hear again. He needed to be there NOW. He had to hold him NOW. He could not fail him NOW.
Many of the men around the General were scared shitless and sat very still trying not to attract any notice of themselves as the man thundered passed them back and forth. The General was in one hell of a rage. A short call in which he had said nothing turned him into a total raving maniac. If looks could kill they'd all be dead for telling him they could not get there faster. They wished they we there NOW too, if only to be relieved of this livid, fuming General.
One brave soul ventured to communicate with him. "Sir we will get you there as fast as possible. We are at max speed. We have gotten clearance to land at a closer airport. We have arranged a helicopter to get you to your destination within ten minutes of landing. Sir you will be there in two hours tops. Please try to calm yourself. There is nothing more we can do."
Damn the guy must have a death wish. He told the General to calm down. You didn't tell a General to calm down. Everyone ducked their heads as he stormed past again.
A man near the back sat staring at the raging General captivated by what he saw. He thought the General was hurting again. He smirked, it must be something to do with his only soft spot. He was told it was the only thing that could make the General lose his cool. He would get kudos for reporting this. He couldn't wait until the landed.
The General continued to stride back and forth. There was no way to calm down. Two hours was too long, he needed to be there now. Sam needed him now. Holleran said there was hope. God please let there be hope. Let me finally be able to right my wrongs. Please I need my boy back.
SRU HQ - Inside Briefing Room
The initial onslaught of sound had reverberated in the room. Nothing any one said or did had penetrated the barrier that trapped Sam. Everyone was afraid, truly afraid for Sam and did not know what to do.
After five minutes of gut wrenching howling, Patch placed a frantic call to Dr. Fraser requesting a strong, fast acting sedative be rushed over. That had been ten minutes ago and although the howling had shifted to a lower keening the body shakes were not abating.
Patch was worried how much more Blondie's physical body could take. His vitals were not good, His blood pressure, heart-rate and breathing rates increased significantly and his temperature had not fallen at all. He needed the sedative NOW.
A loud knocking was heard at the side door. Thank god the sedative was finally here. Patch ran to the door and opened it a crack. Winnie stood there her face pale and nervous holding a package. She shoved the package to Patch then quickly closed the door. All eyes in the room watched as Patch administered the sedative via the IV.
Within the space of a minute all was dead quiet. Sam's body still shook, likely due to the rush of adrenaline and effects of the fever. But thank goodness he was no longer howling.
Patch checked his vitals still not good but improving. His heart rate and breathing were slowing and blood pressure was lowering. Patch exhaled deeply. Listening to Blondie's desolate cries for the past fifteen minutes had completely drained him.
He had switched to medic mode to try and tune it out but it had not worked. It was Blondie after all. His empathetic connection with the kid was strong and deep. When Blondie hurt, he hurt almost as much.
Ed, Blaze, Spike, Wordy and Patch moved Sam back to the gurney. Jules covered him with the blanket tucking it snugly around him.
SRU HQ - Outside Briefing Room
Members of other teams had heard the howling and had initially run toward the briefing room prepared to help whatever the emergency was. They were shocked when Inspector Davis was roughly thrust from the room and it was sealed quickly. The screaming did not cease.
It was disturbing even muted a bit by the walls. They had no clue what the hell was going on. Team Two was glad when they got a hot call; it was too excruciating to listen. Team Five quickly left for the gun range knowing that Team One was handling it. They needed to get away from the horrifying screams.
That left only Winnie and Inspector Davis outside the room. Winnie was in shock. If she could leave she would just like Team Five but she couldn't and she had to hear the howling that would not end.
When a paramedic had rushed in with a package saying it was for a Sam Braddock she immediately took it. She ran to the briefing room door and knocked as loud as she could hoping to be heard over the heart-wrenching sounds. When it finally stopped, Winnie felt tears of relief running down her face. She brushed them away as a small shutter coursed quickly through her body.
Inspector Davis was distraught. He had slumped into one of the chairs in the waiting area and tried to tune out the terrible sound. Never in his wildest dreams would he have thought to get a reaction like that. He had only wanted to help Braddock, not hurt.
If a picture could scream, that is exactly what he would imagine the one of the little boy would sound like. Hell it was that little boy, only nineteen years older. Davis was immovable now, thanking god that the howling had finally ceased and praying the young man would be okay.
SRU HQ - Inside Briefing Room – After Sedative
Even though the wailing had stopped their ears were still ringing with the remembrance of the sound. Sorrow permeated the room each trying to process their own emotions at witnessing such an alarming episode. Something in the note had been the catalyst but for what all but one wondered.
Holleran had not moved from Sam's side the entire time. Unable to get through in any way he just stood there watching and lightly patting his back. Memories from the past mingled with the present. Often seeing the little boy instead of the man as he fervently hoped that this would be cathartic instead of hurtful.
Greg picked up the picture of Sam and stared at it as tears slid down his face. He imagined that was the same cry heard that day. That hit deep. He had allowed exactly what he told Sam he didn't want to happen to actually happen. He caused more hurt. What was this all about? How could they help?
Ed and Blaze had bloodied their fists punching the concrete walls in their frustration and inability to cut through the barrier to rescue Sam from his torment. After helping put Sam on the gurney they resumed storming back and forth. They were both trying very hard to dissipate the fury of helplessness that engulfed them.
Winds had remained in the same spot the entire time. He stood dead still, silent, unresponsive and staring out the window. He was thinking was it all too much? Did Blondie just lose the last piece of his soul? Is this what it sounds like when the body lives but the soul dies? Did the General finally kill his son in the worst way possible?
Jules had sought out Wordy's arms for fatherly comfort during the screaming. It was so crushing. She couldn't bear to see this man in so much pain. In the past twenty-four hours he had waded through hell and come out strong and smiling.
To see him laid low by written words was just too much. She could not fathom what could do that to him. After covering him with the blanket, she stood next to Sam unconsciously stroking his hair as she gazed sightless out the window.
Wordy had found strength and solace himself by being able to help at least one of his teammate as he hugged Jules. He had tried desperately to figure out something or some words that would help Sam.
When Jules released her hold on him he helped move Sam. He had now picked up the file folder and found there were other pictures in it. He found one of a lovely blonde headed, green eyed little girl with a beautiful smile. Wordy thought, so this is your Sara, you have the same smile. New tears slid down his face.
Spike had pulled a chair next to the gurney, sat down and refused to let go of Sam's hand. Silently he was telling Sam over and over he wouldn't let go. Spike's face was etched with fear.
Lou had his hands on Spike's shoulders offering added strength. He could see that Spike was on the edge too. He hated to see his brothers in such pain.
All was silent for over forty minutes. No one could bear to say anything. Soothing silence was preferable to any sound.
Winds finally broke out of his near catatonic state. He suddenly turned, aggressively stepped toward Holleran and said in a voice of barely contained rage "You damn well better explain something to us now or I will kill the General when he gets here. Because I assume that is who you called. You know something about this. I know the General, he will never explain. So if you want him to live you will explain NOW."
All faces ping ponged between Winds and Holleran waiting for him to respond. Holleran expelled a weary sigh as he dropped to a chair. "It's not really for me to share but ..."
Blaze did not hear the 'but' and he flared red hot in a manner that all could see matched his nickname "I DON'T CARE IF IT IS FOR YOU TO SHARE. TELL ME NOW OR I WILL KILL YOU TOO!"
Ed placed a bloodied hand on Blaze's shoulder and squeezed then said simply "Let the man talk."
The touch and simple words banked the fire in Blaze a bit. Enough that he was able to walk to the far corner of the room, a safe distance from Holleran and slump to the floor his back against the wall. Ed joined him, a symbolic gesture to their earlier connection.
Holleran sat a moment to determine how to explain. "I'm not sure where to start. It is messy and confusing because human emotions are involved so it might be best if I start with a problem statement and try to tie everything back to it."
He looked at the concerned faces before he started again "The problem simply stated is that Sam does not think his family, especially his father loves or cares for him. He believes all his father ever wanted was a prefect soldier not a son. He also believes that he is responsible for Sara's death and that the General blames him too. That because he failed to protect her he is not accepted. Their relationship over the past nineteen years has been one miss-step after another. Each one trying, in their own way, to fix something, to prove something but nothing has worked."
Holleran stopped to give them time to register his words. "The General believes that the events of that day and the several following ones are key pieces to a complex puzzle but there have always been a few missing pieces. The General knows exactly how his failures contributed to the problem. But has been trying so long to figure out how certain things got into Sam's head. Things that are unaccounted for by the General's words or actions."
Taking a small moment to control his emotions he then said "I have always felt if we could figure out the mystery, the how or why, that there would be hope for them to mend their relationship. The suicide note gave insight to the final unknown pieces of the puzzle."
He continued "Today I think Sam's adult brain might have recognized some fallacies his nine year old brain had latched onto and convoluted when he read the note. I think what we witnessed was the pain of lost years spent living under that misconception."
His voice a bit shaken but hopeful he stated "I'm hoping that when he awakens that he understands the truth. That he can finally release the pain he has felt for years living with the false perception that his family rejected him and that he was unworthy and responsible for Sara's death."
Holleran stopped needing time to figure out what to say next.
Turning and focusing her eyes on Holleran, Jules stated "If we are going to help Sam, we need to know what the puzzle pieces are. So we can help him put it together and see the picture they create."
Holleran grabbed a water bottle and took a sip "Okay, I'll do my best. Let's start with the pieces the General are certain play a part of the problem. His own actions. As I told you the General is a hard man, but was never cruel."
Blaze, Winds and Patch all grunted at that knowing just how cruel he had been but chose to keep their mouths shut for now.
He looked at them but continued "The day of the accident and the several following ones he became fully aware that his insistence that Sam call him 'Sir', drilling him to follow orders and the way he dealt with the boy when he messed up were all contributing factors. As were his exacting high expectations of the boy."
"He always expected him to behave in an adult manner even though he was a boy. When he messed up the only acceptable responses were 'Yes Sir', 'No Sir', 'I'm sorry Sir', 'My fault Sir' or "Won't happen again Sir' or any combination of them. But by the time he recognized this certain behaviors had become so ingrained in the boy that they would not change."
"Sam only addresses his father as Sir or General. He always takes responsibility when things go wrong. Even if they are not his fault he thinks he could or should have done something to prevent it. Any mistake made must never be repeated. And finally orders must always be followed."
Everyone nodded. They had all seen evidence of those ingrained behaviors.
"How did he know these were pieces of the puzzle?" Greg asked.
Sitting up a little in his seat, Holleran began "By the way Sam reacted. When we got to the accident scene the General was devastated by what he saw. His beautiful Sara bloody and laying on the ground dead. His beloved boy covered in Sara's blood clutching her shoes. Sam was howling in the same manner we just experienced but also screaming Sara's name" said Holleran his voice shaking now as the sights and sounds he witnessed that day assaulted him.
Taking several calming breaths he continued "It took the General and me nearly a half hour to get to the accident scene. The officers said that Sam had been screaming like that the entire time. No one could get through. Just like now. As the General approached Sam a photographer took that picture" his finger pointed to the one they had viewed earlier.
"The General was very protective and did not want his son photographed in such torment. He was so outraged he punched the man, knocking him out stone cold. Before returning to Sam, he knelt by Sara, stroked her hair, kissed her forehead and whispered to her" Holleran sat silent absorbed in the memory.
A soft sob escaped from Jules as she said "Sam did those same exact motions with Sara Clarry yesterday." The team nodded.
Holleran started again "The General then went to Sam. He was still screaming. He tried everything to get through. He pleaded so many ways using soft words, he was crying himself. Sam would not let him hold him the only touch he allowed was stroking his hair."
"After ten minutes of trying to get through with no success he tried the last thing he could think of. He used his booming commander voice and ordered Sam to stop and to come with him. It broke his heart that Sam immediately stopped screaming, stood at attention and said 'Yes Sir'."
Ed softly said "I know the sick feeling doing that. I had to yell at Sam at the bank. It was the only way to calm him down so he could get a breath in after the hit knocked the wind out of him."
Nodding his head in response to Ed's comment Holleran said "Sam was so traumatized he said nothing on the way home. When William and I got him home, Sam walked straight into the living room. He stood at attention in the spot that the General usually dressed him down when he did something wrong. Sam just stood there. The General could not get him to budge. He didn't want to yell again or force him after such a trauma. So he decided to just wait and see what happened. Give the boy some time to sort through things."
Holleran stood and walked over to Sam and placed a hand on his leg, tears in his eyes. "This is the part where the missing pieces come into play. He had been standing there for over an hour when he started speaking. The words confused us. He said things like It's all my fault. I failed to protect her. My job to protect her. I failed. No crying allowed, stop the crying now. I'm not worthy. I should have been hit not her. I'm so sorry."
"The General quickly knelt in front of Sam, eye to eye, and tried to counter everything Sam would say. Trying to get him to understand it was not his fault, that it was okay to cry, that he did not fail and he would never wish Sam was hit. But again nothing got through."
"It was breaking the General's heart hearing his boy say things like that. We had no clue where words like that were coming from. They were things that the General would never ever say to his kids. He was hard but he was never cruel like that. The General called the medics. He knew his boy needed help he couldn't provide."
Visibly shaken he walked back to the chair, sat and put his head down on his arms on the table "Give me a minute to regroup."
Everyone took several cleansing breaths in and out. The tension was thick and heavy.
After several minutes, finally blowing out a deep breath Holleran continued "Sam stayed like that repeating those words over and over until the medics arrived. They sedated Sam. William stayed in his room all night as Sam slept."
"Early in the morning he had stepped out to get a cup of coffee, gone only a few minutes. When he got close to Sam's room he heard the screaming again. He threw open the door and found three large orderlies physically restraining a thrashing Sam. The boy had a terrified look in his eyes."
"The General was livid they would be handling a little boy, his boy in this manner and bellowed at them to 'stop now'. All four stopped moving following the order instantly. Sam's face was still terrified but his little body was motionless and completely rigid. The General then loudly dressed-down the orderlies telling them 'get out, you do not belong, you are not family, you are utter disappointments'."
"The doctor came in and quickly sedated Sam again apologizing profusely for the orderlies' behavior. They felt it best to keep Sam sedated for several days. The General held Sam in his arms the entire time. He only put him down for the few seconds needed to use the facilities. When they finally let Sam awaken he had a blank lost little boy look."
Tears were in everyone's eyes as they looked at Sam.
"After that things were never the same between them. Over time the General deduced that Sam's traumatized mind had twisted events. Twisted them to the point Sam believed it was his father that told him those things he said in the living room."
"The General just didn't know where those words came from. He also realized that the dressing down he gave the orderlies in front of Sam had been twisted too. Sam's traumatized mind interrupted it as William telling Sam that he did not belong, he was not family and that he was a disappointment."
"He tried so many things over the years to get Sam to see it differently. Never finding the right words he tried to show it by actions. But that didn't work either. Somehow things always got screwed up or twisted." He blew out another long breath clearly emotionally taxed.
"That is a lot to take in. We need a break" Wordy stated simply.
"The General should be here in a while, we will resume then" Blaze said totally confused because the General he knew did not fit at all with the General that was just described. His gut was screaming again. Well actually it had never stopped.
Military Aircraft Landing in Toronto
After almost two hours of pacing the General had taken a seat for landing. He was still mulling over the little Holleran had said. He knew how and why; that there was hope. How did he find out? It was something he had been trying to understand for a long time.
He knew he was at fault, it was entirely his fault but he could not put all the pieces together. Hope, was there really hope? The screams, Sam's screams, his heart was ripping apart again. He had failed so miserably. Could there really be hope? Could he fix this? He had tried and failed so many times.
He needed to be there NOW. He would not fail AGAIN. It would kill him if he did. He pulled out his phone and dialed "I just landed, be there in ten" and hung up.
A man in the back pulled out his phone and dialed "We just landed. You're going to love what I have to tell you." Then he proceeded to tell the person on the other end how the General had behaved on the flight.
The occupants of the briefing room were startled from their quiet contemplation when a booming commanding voice bellowed "WHERE IS MY SON?"
Holleran went to open the door knowing it was the General and he would break down the door to get in if needed and called out loudly "Sam is in here."
Everyone hastily gathered in the corner farthest from Sam to give as much privacy as they could without leaving the room. They all stared. No one spoke.
The General strode rapidly to his sedated son and gathered him into his arms. Distress was clearly shown on his face. He held Sam tightly with one arm; cradling his head on his shoulder and stroking his hair as he whisper words no one else could hear.
Hotel Room in Toronto
The man just got off the phone with his lackey and was now feeling giddy as he gleefully thought the General was hurting again. He knew it had to do with his only soft spot. That was the only thing that ever got him to lose control.
His nickname was Badass, but it wasn't due to irrational behavior. No one could make to that rank and be mentally unstable or cruel. He was badass because of his exacting high standards which he demonstrated himself and expected his ranks to emulate and his ability to dress you down if you failed to meet those standards. His words hard and to the point telling you exactly how you failed could burn.
It was also because he was hard to kill. He had been in several tight spots and always came out alive. Much like my toy soldier he thought and sniggered. Though he thought his toy soldier was actually more resilient and resourceful, maybe a badass 2.0.
He found the soft spot by pure accident ten years ago. Was looking for a way to make the General pay for the last in a long line of humiliations he suffered from him, the first being twenty years ago. He did an internet search to find ammunition to use against him. The picture he found told him exactly how to hurt him the most. However, it took years to use that information. He was so thrilled when he was lucky enough to get ahold of his toy soldier.
He had had a nice long run with the toy soldier. He thought about his past attempts to hurt the General by knocking over his toy soldier. There were so many and he always failed. The toy soldier just would not fall; he always stood up again.
Although in some ways those failures were just as satisfying because they had caused them both pain. Wished he hadn't lost control of him, he hadn't expected that to be the result. It burned that the toy soldier was still around but not in his control. He had been bored since he was gone and had difficulty finding ways to hurt the General without him.
He had really, really liked playing with him to make the General suffer. It never mattered to him that the toy soldier was innocent. But now his toy soldier was no longer innocent. He had personally harmed him now. The toy soldier now had to suffer and pay for his crime.
A satisfied smile played over his lips as he decided which one would go first. Need to make the General suffer more, so of course the toy soldier goes first. I'm tired of playing with him anyways since he is out of my reach now and he has to pay for what he did yesterday. Time to think, how best to make it happen? Time to plan. I don't want this one to fail.