The following years had a full moon on Halloween night: 1875, 1894, 1925, 1944, 1955, 1974. I included 1875, 1894, 1974 for the purposes of the story.
The Lighthouse Affair
Mid October 1974
Napoleon Solo grabbed the large pile of manilla folders tucking them under his arm as he left his office. He needed to discuss with the Old Man the current manpower shortage in Sections two and three caused by a severe outbreak of influenza. He only had to walk a few steps before reaching the reception area outside of Alexander Waverly’s office.
“Go on in, Mr. Solo, he’s expecting you.”
“Thank you, Lisa.” Napoleon chuckled to himself. Lisa Rogers had always called him by his given name when he worked in Section 2. But Napoleon had retired from the field two years ago and moved up to the floor that housed the Section 1 offices. He was promoted to Assistant Chief of Section 1. From that point on Lisa started addressing him as ‘Mr. Solo’ out of respect for his elevated status. He kind of missed the more familiar, less formal greeting.
The pneumatic doors leading to Mr. Waverly’s office slid open. Mr. Waverly looked up from the files he was reviewing and beckoned his second-in-command to join him at the round conference table.
“Please come in, Mr. Solo. Mr. Kuryakin will be joining us shortly. Help yourself to the coffee cart if you’d like.”
Before Napoleon could do so, the doors opened again as Illya Kuryakin, his former partner, entered the room. Illya had filled the vacated Section 2, CEA position when Napoleon moved up to Section 1. While the Russian was no longer field certified, his in-depth experience in the field enabled him to effectively advise and lead his Section 2 agents from his office.
It didn’t escape Napoleon’s notice that his friend leaned slightly on the ebony cane that he kept in constant reach for the past two years. After he had been hit by a Jeep during the “Last Commandment Affair” doctors held little hope that Illya would be mobile without the use of a wheelchair.* However, the man stubbornly refused to accept such a prognosis and with hard work and a tenacious drive he proved them wrong. Illya rarely needed the cane anymore, but kept it in hand should his leg act up. His leg or hip must be bothering him, today, Napoleon surmised.
“Good morning, Mr. ah Kuryakin. Please join us.”
“Thank you, Sir.” He nodded to Mr. Waverly. “Good morning, Napoleon.” He smiled. He didn’t get to see Napoleon as often as he liked now that they were in different offices on different floors. They tried to meet at least a couple of times a week for lunch or dinner, but their schedules didn’t always permit it.
“ ‘morning, Illya.” He pointed to the cane. “How’s the leg this morning?”
Illya patted his left leg and smiled wryly. “It is fine. It tends to get a bit stiff in all this wet weather.” He chuckled. “Of course, tripping over the landlady’s cat this morning did not help it any.”
“Ah, yes, gentleman, if we could get down to business.” Alexander Waverly redirected his men’s attention.
“Of course, Mr. Waverly.”
Each man sat in his customary chair. Illya sat to the right of Napoleon just as he had for the past eleven years. Before each of them lay a folder. In each were a series of photographs and a map of Lake Michigan. They both spent a few moments studying the material before the CEA of Section 2 looked up.
“Mr. Waverly, how old is the intel in this report, Sir?”
“That is the problem, Mr. Kuryakin. Some of the information is fairly recent, however none of it can be truly considered reliable. That’s why it is imperative to get some of our people into the area so the alleged activities can be verified and monitored.”
Illya Kuryakin thought for a moment considering which of his agents were already on assignments and who was available. “I could send Agents Ridenour and Bronstein. The doctors tell me they are both recovered from the flu and are to be released this afternoon.”
“No, I think not, Mr. Kuryakin. I already have someone in mind.”
“Who, Sir? I can check to see if they are available.”
Mr. Waverly, who had been fiddling with his pipe, paused with a lit match over the bowl. “You, Mr. Kuryakin. I want you assigned to this mission.” He paused to draw the flame into the packed bowl. Satisfied when the pipe was lighted he waved the match to extinguish the flame and tossed it into the ashtray.
Illya was stunned. He truly missed being out in the field but knew his medical status made it unwise for him to be active. “Me, Sir?”
Napoleon was equally surprised. “Illya, Sir?” He looked over to his friend and rested his hand on Illya’s arm. “Sorry, Illya,” he apologized for what he was about to say. Turning back to the Old Man, “Sir, do you think Illya is physically able to work on such a mission?”
“What would you have me do, Mr. Solo? Most of our agents are on sick leave and those that aren’t are already out in the field. Besides, Mr. Kuryakin’s scientific background and knowledge make him the most qualified to investigate the matter.”
“Of that I’ve no doubt, Mr. Waverly, but he’s been out for over two years! Remember he’s not a fresh agent anymore! You’re asking an awful lot.”
Illya snorted and glanced over in his friend’s direction. He wasn’t sure if he should be grateful for Napoleon’s concern or angry that he didn’t think Illya could take care of himself. Mr. Waverly caught the nonverbal
communication and smiled.
“You needn’t worry about Mr. Kuryakin, Mr. Solo. I wouldn’t have him venture into the field without competent backup.” Turning to Illya, Mr. Waverly continued, “You, Mr. Kuryakin, will have assistance from one of our finest men.”
Somewhat mollified, Napoleon eased back on his objections. “Well, that’s better. Who did you have in mind, Mr. Waverly?”
“You, Mr. Solo.”
This time Illya protested. “But, Mr. Waverly, Napoleon has been out of the field almost as long as I have. Besides, as your assistant and being next in line for your position, he would be at greater risk if captured!”
“Gentlemen! Your objections are duly noted, however my mind is made up. You leave in a week so I suggest you make yourselves familiar with the files and maps and develop a strategy. I expect to be briefed on your plan in the next three days. Dismissed!”
Both men stood in unison, “Yes, Sir.” They gathered their materials and left for Napoleon’s office.
“According to recent intel, Napoleon, the unusual activity is occurring in the vicinity of the Beaver Island Archipelago.” Illya punctuated the statement with a stab of his finger on the map laid out before them. The Beaver Island Archipelago was comprised of a few large islands and several small unnamed islands. “Apparently the measurable electronic activity increases dramatically the week before each full moon and has been doing so for the last six months.”
“What could they possibly be trying to do that would require a full moon, especially from the northern part of Lake Michigan?”
“Some of the scientists in Section 8 think that THRUSH is trying to find a means of creating ocean-like tides in the Great Lakes. If they are successful then they could play havoc with the fishing and shipping industries. Such tides would very likely have adverse effects on the ecosystems along the shores, as well.”
Napoleon shook his head in disbelief. “What could they gain by that, Illya?
The Russian shrugged his shoulders. “Napoleon, I have long given up trying to fathom why THRUSH does half the things they do. But, as always, it is important that we stop them from succeeding.” He returned his attention to the map. “It is doubtful that THRUSH would use the large islands as they are more inhabited than the others. I suggest that we concentrate on these small islands to the northwest of Beaver Island.”
The two agents pulled into the parking lot of a small marina in Naubinway, Michigan, to inquire about boat rentals. It felt good to get out and stretch their legs after hours of driving along Route 2. It had been a pleasant drive as the last of the autumnal coloring clung stubbornly to the trees. The crisp cool air of the last October days foretold of the change of seasons.
They made arrangements to rent a twenty foot inboard/outboard motor boat for the next week and to pick it up the next morning. Finished with their business at the marina they crossed the street to a roadside diner.
The screen door creaked as they opened it and slammed behind them as they entered.
“Hello, boys! Seat yourselves and I’ll be right with you.” The pig-tailed brunette waitress snapped her gum as she turned away to serve coffee to the only other customer.
Napoleon pointed to a back booth near the emergency exit and both men made their way to it, sitting in the dingy, torn yellow vinyl seats. Napoleon grabbed a couple of paper napkins from the dispenser and wiped away the remnants of the last customer’s meal. Illya watched with amusement as his partner’s curled lip in distaste as he wiped up spilled coffee and hamburger grease. He chuckled.
“Definitely not one of your fancy New York restaurants is it, Napoleon?”
Napoleon gave his friend a sour look. “Ah, hardly, Illya.”
“Okay, boys, my name is Debbie. What’s yer pleasure?” She looked up from her pad and gave Napoleon a wink. Illya rolled his eyes and shook his head.
“What would you suggest?” Napoleon asked.
“Well, today’s special is the meatloaf, mash potatoes, and green beans. It’s pretty good.” She leaned closer to them and whispered. “Whatever you do, stay away from the goulash.”
“I think I’ll order the meatloaf. Illya?” The blond looked up from the map he was studying and nodded. Solo continued, “Make that two, please, and lots of coffee.”
“Sure, honey. I’ll be right back.”
Both men were poring over the map where Illya had circled several of the small islands to the northwest of Beaver Island. The waitress returned with their platters of food and noticed the map.
“Are you planning to travel to those islands?”
Napoleon glanced at Illya as he took the plate from Debbie. His partner nodded indicating he thought it would be safe to say, plus they might get some helpful information.
“Well, Debbie, you see we’re writers from Michigan History Magazine and we decided to do a little research for an article about the Beaver Island Archipelago. We’re going to take a boat and explore the smaller islands, maybe mix business with pleasure and do a little camping.”
“Oh, well, that sounds fascinating! I understand that there have been some strange goings on in that area. Of course, there have been strange stories about that area since the mid 1870’s.”
Illya turned to Debbie and pinned her with his intense gaze. “Really? Such as?”
The waitress took the question as an invitation to sit down with her customers. The last customer had left the diner, so she scooted onto the bench next to Napoleon.
“Well, boys, for the last half year, during the full moon, there have been reports of unusual activity on a couple of the small islands. But that’s not as weird as the stories the old timers have been telling over the past 100 years. There are rumors of a ghost island that only appears out of a fog bank during a full moon, but only when the full moon is on Halloween night.”
The two men looked at her in disbelief. “I’m sorry,” said Illya tucking some meatloaf into his mouth. “I do not believe in ghosts. There is always a scientific explanation.”
Debbie pouted at such a comment, her feelings obviously hurt. Napoleon glared at Illya. “Now, partner, we’re here to learn some of the history of the area, let Debbie fill us in with the local lore.”
Encouraged by Napoleon’s charm, Debbie poured a cup of coffee and began.
Elijah Kirkland stood on the catwalk of the lighthouse looking out upon the peaceful waters of Lake Michigan. Wisps of his long blond hair, that had escaped the ribbon tying it back, blew in the slight breeze. His eyes reflected the color of the water and clear sky. He loved this place, but he worried about his wife. For ten years, he had been keeper of the lighthouse. He was the first. The lighthouse was built the same year the War Between the States had ended. He and his wife, Isabella, moved into the Keeper’s home immediately after they married. During the first four years of his tenure at the lighthouse the two of them happily tended to the arduous duties of keeping the beacon lighted for boats and ships no matter the weather. They both faced the calm days, storm driven days, and the wretched ice storms for which the lake was known with determination and pride in knowing that their efforts kept ships safe from the rocky shores.
Sadly, the last six years wore heavily upon his wife. For several years, they tried to have a family. Finally, Isabella told him she was carrying their long awaited child, only to have their son die soon after his birth. They lived in complete isolation, and there was no chance of getting the medical care needed. Although both were devastated, Isabella grew increasingly angry and withdrawn. Matters worsened when Elijah came back from his semi-annual trips for supplies. Upon his return from those trips, Isabella would falsely accuse him of being unfaithful, then hide in the bedroom refusing to speak to him or be near him for several weeks.
Elijah took a last look over the calm waters and sighed. It was October 14th, tomorrow he would leave for another supply trip. He had to make the trip before the coming winter prevented him from doing so. Once again he would leave Isabella at the lighthouse to keep the beacon burning. He hated leaving her alone, but there was no other way. Slowly, he descended the stairs knowing the ensuing argument would leave them both angry.
The evening of October 31st, Isabella stood on the rocky shore waiting for her husband. He was late, he should have been home the day before. She vacillated between worry for his safety and seething rage because he dared to leave her alone for two weeks on this god forsaken island. Fog hovered off the shore only 50 yards out, fingers of rolling moisture reached tentatively towards the rocks then quickly receded as if afraid of the woman standing there. The full moon’s brightness pushed through the fog creating a diffused halo of light. Calm yourself, Isabella, she reminded herself. Remember you promised that you would not allow yourself to be jealous or angry. Instead, be joyous at his return. And she was.
Finally, the muffled sound of oars pulling against the current reached her ears. Elijah and his boat’s ghostly silhouettes became more defined as he neared the island. Isabella called out to him, “Elijah, Elijah, welcome home my love!”
“Hello, my Sweet!” Elijah was surprised at the unusually effusive greeting for he was expecting a scowling, bitter countenance from his wife. It made him regret finally succumbing, after all those years of being faithful, to the wiles of Rebecca, the pretty brunette at the bar.
Isabella stepped forward to grab the painter and secure it to the iron ring bolted to the boulder. She turned to find herself gathered in her husband’s strong corded arms. “Oh, Isabella, how I missed you!”
Together they carried the supplies to the Keeper’s house and stored them. Again the blond lighthouse keeper wrapped his arms around Isabella’s waist as he looked into her brown eyes. “Sweetheart, I’m going to check on the beacon, I’ll be right back to unpack.”
Isabella watched him head towards the lighthouse then she turned to unpack his bag. She knew he was tired and wouldn't have the energy to unpack. Humming to herself she sorted the clothes for washing until her hand fell upon a silk scarf, a beautiful red paisley silk scarf. What a nice surprise! He brought home a gift. She brought it up to her face then instantly moved it away. The scarf reeked of a woman’s perfume and she found a couple of long brown hairs in its folds. What Elijah hadn’t known was that Rebecca left the scarf in his bag as a keepsake. Isabella’s resolve to be happy and supportive dissolved and was replaced with a deepening rage.
Isabella calmed herself outwardly. She picked up the scarf, hiding it by stuffing it up the sleeve of her dress. She went to the lighthouse, climbed the stairs calling to Elijah in a singsonging voice. When she reached the catwalk she walked up to him. “Oh, Elijah, what a thoughtful husband you are! What a beautiful scarf you brought home.”
As she held it up for him to see he recognized it immediately and paled. Isabella shrieked and charged him in her jealous rage. Her momentum carried them both over the railing of the lighthouse’s catwalk where they were dashed upon the rocks below, killing them instantly.
The fog rolled over the island surrounding it like a thick gray pall and hovered there for twenty-four hours. When it finally dissipated its was as if the island never existed.
October 31, 1894 - nineteen years later
Elias and Amanda Kendrick, a young couple in their early twenties, decided to enjoy the warm day of the Indian summer and take the gaff rigged sailboat out. They weren’t worried about staying out as there was to be a full moon that night. After a long afternoon of sailing in a light breeze, the couple realized it was time to head home. They had not noticed the fog bank forming off shore. Elias decided it would be wiser to land the boat on the nearest shore until the fog lifted. He pulled in the sail and began rowing to the nearest visible point of land belonging to one of many in a group of islands. However, the fog shifted, covering up the point of land and cleared off to the west revealing an island that he did not remember seeing on the charts. Elias, shrugged his shoulders and rowed the boat in the direction of the island. Amanda saw a small lighthouse on the point. Standing on the shore was a dark-haired woman beckoning to them. Elias rowed towards the lighthouse.
As they landed, the woman introduced herself as Isabella and welcomed them ashore. Elias tied the painter of the boat to an iron ring bolted to a rock. As he did so, he noticed the fog closed in around the island yet never touched the shore. When the woman retreated into the Keeper’s house the young couple climbed the steps to the lighthouse and ventured onto the catwalk.
The bright light of the full moon tried to penetrate the thick fog bank hovering fifty yards off the shore leaving a soft diffused halo with just enough light that it reflected off of Elias’s fair hair. Amanda joked that with enough light shining on his hair, Elias could do a better job as a beacon of light than the lighthouse.
“This reminds me of an old tale,” Amanda laughingly began. When Elias raised an inquiring eyebrow she continued. “The story tells of a haunted lighthouse on an island near the shore of the lake, much like this one. Supposedly, on a foggy Halloween night during a full moon the wife of the lighthouse keeper pushed him over the side of the catwalk’s railing and then jumped after him. Both were killed. I believe the wife’s name was Isa…”
A blood curdling scream interrupted her. They both turned towards the sound only to see the enraged Isabella standing and pointing an accusing finger at Elias.
“You, womanizer! You lecherous… I knew I couldn’t trust you!” she shrieked. She screamed again rushing towards them and cursing someone named Elijah. Neither had time to react to the sound of her maniacal screams as a bitter cold blast of air violently pushed them over the railing to their deaths among the rocks below. Immediately, the fog closed in on the island. Hours later when it had dissipated, no island could be seen.
October 31, 1974 Eighty years later
Illya limped across the cold, moisture laden stones of the cell floor where he and Napoleon had been guests for the past three days. His unconscious partner lay bonelessly against the far wall where the guards dumped him when they brought him back to the cell a couple of hours before.
At first, their THRUSH hosts had not realized who the UNCLE agents were and pretty much left the two alone taking them for the wayward campers the two claimed to be. However, during the second day, someone came in and recognized the two agents. It was then that the the interrogations began in earnest. As Illya had predicted, the interrogation took a particularly nasty turn for Napoleon when the idiots realized that they had Waverly’s right hand man in their midst.
Illya reached Napoleon and gently patted his friend’s face. “Napoleon.” His voice was hoarse from shouting in pain. “Napoleon! Wake up, no more sleeping on the job.” He shook the unconscious form. “Napoleon, I thought you were supposed to have my back.” He checked his friend for injuries and took inventory of the damage. Probable concussion, broken leg and wrist, and burns across the chest. “Oh, Napoleon, I’m sorry moi brat. You are not going to be very happy when you wake up.”
He sat on the floor and lifted Napoleon’s head onto his lap trying to make him more comfortable. His partner didn’t even react to the movement.
Napoleon Solo was indeed a very unhappy man when he regained consciousness. There wasn't any part of his body that didn’t hurt. He cracked open his eyes and realized that his head was pillowed on Illya’s thigh. “Hey, partner,” he whispered. “Did you happen to see the truck that hit me?”
The Russian smiled, glad to see that Napoleon was conscious. He helped Solo to sit up and lean against the wall. “No, but if you feel up to it I think we need to plan how we are going escape from here. I doubt our hosts will be any more gentle the next time around.”
On cue, two guards unlocked the cell door. “Happy Halloween, boys. Looks like THRUSH Central wants you as their treat.” Seeing their captives sprawled on the floor and leaning against the wall, the guards assumed that neither man was capable of resisting or had the strength to escape. Shouldering their rifles, the guards entered the cell and reached down to pull the UNCLE agents to their feet. Illya exploded into action. Using his right leg he swept the closest guard’s feet out from under him. As the man fell, Illya grabbed the rifle from him before handing the man off to Napoleon who grabbed the man in a choke hold.
The second guard stepped back to unsling his rifle only to find himself staring down the bore of the rifle held by one seriously angry UNCLE agent.
“I think I would rather give THRUSH a trick rather than be their treat,” Illya snarled and with a fluid motion swung the rifle butt against the second guard’s head. “Napoleon, I believe it is time to leave.” He leaned down to help Napoleon up.
“Ah, I think you had better go without me, Illya.” Napoleon’s weak voice was tight with pain. “It seems that these goons did a number on my leg.”
“Nonsense, we leave together. Mr. Waverly would not be happy if I came back without his second-in-command.”
“No, Illya, I orde…” He never saw Illya’s right hook before it connected with his jaw.
“Sorry, my friend. We do not have time to argue.” Illya lifted Napoleon into a fireman’s carry. His hip screamed from the abuse, but he ignored it as he carried his partner through the hallways.
Kuryakin was glad that the THRUSH post was lightly staffed as it enabled him to make it to the docks undetected. Several motor boats were tied up. He picked the one with the biggest engine. He stepped carefully into the boat and laid Napoleon down on the middle seat. He thanked whatever power watches over UNCLE agents when he saw the keys were in the ignition. Not wasting anytime Illya fired up the outboard and pushed away from the dock before pushing the throttle to its full open position heading in a northwest direction.
Without charts, Illya had to rely on his eidetic memory to know where the nearest inhabited island was located which was approximately ten miles to the northwest. He glanced down at his partner who lay semi-conscious on the seat and hoped that Napoleon could endure the pain as the boat traveled through the slight chop for that long of a distance.
Upon their capture, THRUSH had relieved the agents of their tools including their watches. He guessed that they had been traveling for about a half hour and judging from the sun’s position over the horizon, Illya estimated that there might be an hour of sunlight left. He did not relish the idea of traveling in the dark. Adding to his apprehension, he saw a fog bank forming dead ahead about two, maybe three, miles from their position. He knew that without a compass it would be too easy to get lost and lose his sense of direction.
The fog overtook the boat rapidly. The Russian had no choice but to slow down and attempt to steer a straight course by instinct. The last time he and Napoleon had been caught in thick pea soup fog was a decade ago during the Shark Affair. That thought did nothing to bolster his spirits. He glanced over to Napoleon, his partner was about the same, moaning softly and only semi-conscious. “Hang in there, my friend. We will get some help for you soon.” He hoped those weren’t empty words.
Illya resolutely continued on in what he hoped was the right direction. Daylight had abandoned him leaving darkness and fog pressing in on the boat.
The fog momentarily thinned allowing the full moon’s light to filter through casting a diffused light. Illya watched as wispy tendrils of moisture rolled towards him and then receded much like fingers opening and closing. A slight breath of air pushed the fog away allowing Illya to see about 100 yards in the distance. With the help of the moon’s soft light he saw an outline of an island off to the right, not more than a couple of hundred feet ahead. Over the noise of the idling engine the wake of the boat could be heard washing gently against the boulders that lined the shore.
Napoleon woke suddenly, leaned to one side and retched. They hadn’t eaten for three days but that didn’t stop his stomach from violently trying to heave whatever was left. Illya leapt to his side to steady his friend as Napoleon’s body worked through the nausea.
“Easy, Napoleon. There is an island just a little ways off of our bow. I think it best that we land there and wait until tomorrow morning to continue.”
Napoleon, gasping for air and trying to control his nausea, merely nodded his head. Illya moved back to the helm and steered the boat for the island.
As he motored within 50 yards of the island, Illya could see the outline of a small lighthouse. Odd, he didn’t remember the charts indicating there was a lighthouse in the area. He continued towards the shore when he heard a feminine voice calling to him, beckoning with her arms to bring the boat to shore. Illya, glad that there was someone who could help him with Napoleon, gladly aimed the boat’s bow towards where the woman was standing. It did not escape his notice that the fog bank had closed in once again staying about fifty yards off the island’s shore.
Illya cut the engine and let inertia carry the boat to the large boulders. Leaping from the bow onto the rock he tied the painter to an iron ring that was bolted to the stone. He turned to greet the woman who had called to him.
“Hello, Madam, my name is Illya Kuryakin.” He bowed slightly to the woman. As he did so the soft light of the moon glowing through the fog shone on his hair. He heard her give a slight gasp, but he continued, “I cannot tell you how glad I am to have found your island and you. You see my friend is badly injured and needs help.” He pointed to the boat. “Perhaps you have some place where he can rest for a bit.”
He was slightly unnerved by the odd way the woman was dressed and by her stare. At first she said nothing then finding her voice she said, “Hello, my name is Isabella. You poor dears. We must get your friend inside at once. Bring him into the Keeper’s house.”
“Is there anyone else on the island?”
“No…my husband is away on a supply run. He should be back soon.” She turned and without looking to see if Illya followed she moved towards the house.
With no small amount of effort, Illya lifted Napoleon out of the boat and carried him over his shoulders to the Keeper’s house. Isabella, holding an oil hurricane lamp, met him at the door and motioned him to follow her to a small bedroom. As he passed her at the room’s threshold he shivered involuntarily as he seemed to pass through a cold spot in the room.
Illya carefully laid his partner down onto a feather bed. He looked his partner over, not liking the pallor of Napoleon’s skin nor the cold clammy feel of it. He turned to Isabella to see her staring at him opened mouth. “Please, Madam, I need some cloths, cold water, ice, and as many blankets as you may have. My friend has gone into shock.”
Isabella continued staring a moment before responding, “Of course, Elijah, I’ll get them right away.” She turned and left the room before Illya could correct her about his name. ‘Illya - Elijah’, it didn’t matter. What mattered to him was Napoleon’s deteriorating condition.
Isabella brought blankets, left again and came back carrying a wooden bucket filled with water and some cloths. “There is no ice I’m afraid, but the water is quite cold.”
She placed the items next to the bed. Illya nodded his thanks and turned his full attention on making Napoleon more comfortable. He could feel her staring at him as he worked on placing a cold cloth on his friend’s head and checked his leg for any signs of a compound fracture.
He felt the hairs on his neck stiffen as he realized the woman was reaching for his hair to stroke it. He turned to face her, a questioning look in his eyes.
Quickly withdrawing her hand she whispered, “Forgive me,” and turned quickly and left the room. She never came back to check on her two visitors after that.
Illya continued ministering to Napoleon’s injuries. Fortunately, the break in his leg was not a compound break and seemed to only involve the lower leg, which meant he could rule out the fear of a tear in the femoral artery. He placed cold compresses on the bruise over the fracture.
Illya would shake Napoleon awake every five to ten minutes to make sure he was responsive. Unfortunately, the Russian was feeling the pain from his own interrogation sessions with THRUSH and had a hard time keeping his own eyes open. He sat on a hard ladder back chair and put his feet up on the bed and his left hand touching the American agent’s shoulder. Slowly, he nodded off.
Napoleon opened his eyes and in the dim light cast by the oil lamp saw Illya sitting by his side with his chin resting on his chest sound asleep. He reached up with his good wrist and patted Illya’s hand. “Illya,” he croaked.
His partner’s eyes flew open and he lifted his head. “Napoleon! How are you feeling my friend?”
“I’ve been better. Where are we, how did we get here?”
Illya spent the next five minutes filling his partner on what had been happening since their escape and how the island appeared out of the fog. He described Isabella and mentioned that something about her and the island seemed a bit …“off”.
“Napoleon, if you think you can stay awake for a few minutes, I would like to explore the area around the lighthouse. Maybe I can find something to fashion into a splint for your leg.”
“I’ll be fine, Tovarisch. Go ahead, just be careful.”
Illya smiled, “I will not be long.” He stood and left the room. Illya stepped out of the Keeper’s house
As Illya walked down to where the boat was tied, he took time to look around at his surroundings. While the dense fog obscured the view of anything fifty yards or so beyond the perimeter, on the island it had thinned to almost nothing allowing the moonlight to light his way over the boulders.
The island was relatively small. He would be surprised if it was more than a half mile square. The few trees that graced the island reached their dark leafless branches like empty fingers towards the lighthouse. Dormant clumps of straw-like grass moved silently in the slight breeze. The entire island was cast in a gray eerie shroud, not quite light, and yet not quite shadow either. Kuryakin stepped into the boat and grabbed one of the small wooden storage covers from the bow. He struck it against the flukes of the anchor and split it lengthwise so he could fashion a splint for Napoleon’s leg.
Illya glanced to his left and saw Isabella standing on a point of rocks looking out to sea. She had changed from her long calico dress to a black one, such as one might wear when in mourning. Kuryakin started towards her when something to his right distracted him. His breath caught as two spots of light appeared on the other side of the Keeper’s house. The ethereal lights shimmered then coalesced to form the outlines of two people, one male and one female. The Russian watched as the two became more defined. This is not possible! he thought. I must be more fatigued than I realized. Illya turned back to the Keeper’s house to check on Napoleon.
Illya was encouraged to see that Napoleon was still awake when he returned, although he could see that his partner was in a great deal of pain.
He set the boards down and grabbed one of the more worn blankets and tore several strips from the bottom. “Napoleon, I need to set your leg and splint it. I am afraid it is going to hurt like hell, but it has to be done.”
Napoleon nodded and grabbed the iron rails of the headboard. “Okay, Illya, I’m ready,” he rasped.
Illya inspected the leg. “All right, I am going to count to three then manipulate the broken ends. Ready? One…two…” With a quick jerk he set the leg with practiced skill.
Napoleon screamed at the pain and the surprise of the unexpected timing. “What the hell happened to ‘three’?”
“I could feel you tensing up as I counted so I did not wait.” Illya placed the planks on either side of the leg tying them in place with the cloth strips. Already he could see improvement in the color of Napoleon’s leg.
“You need to get some rest, my friend. We are still fog bound and from what I am able to discern the night is still quite young. When it is daylight we will evaluate what to do next.”
“Can’t you make a call for assistance?”
“Neither of us has our communicators and this island has no modern conveniences, so I am afraid not. Now try and get some sleep.”
Illya watched as Napoleon fell back to sleep. His own eyes grew heavy from fatigue. He sat down and hiked his bad leg on the bed and soon was asleep as well.
The Russian woke with a start. He felt the cool caress of somebody’s hand upon his forehead. He quickly sat up. Before him stood a young woman dressed in the same old fashion attire as Isabella. Her long brown hair fell softly against her shoulders. She had a simple beauty about her.
Collecting his wits, Illya said, “Hello, I was told there was no one else on the island. I am sorry, did we take your room?”
She laughed gently, “Oh no, we don’t live here. We’re infrequent visitors to the island. My name is Amanda and this,” pointing to a young man standing behind her, “is my husband, Elias.”
Illya stood awkwardly to introduce himself. As he looked at the man, he gasped for standing before him was an individual who could easily pass for his brother. The man was the same height and build with piercing blue eyes, a shy smile, and longish blond hair.
“I am pleased to meet you. My name is Illya Kuryakin. And this is my friend and business associate, Napoleon Solo.”
“Oh, dear, how did he get injured?” Amanda knelt down beside Napoleon and put a damp cloth on his head, replacing the one that Illya had put there some time ago.
“We were camping and he fell hard on the rocks.”
Elias spoke. “Amanda is a nurse, she can help you take care of him. And you, Sir, look exhausted and injured yourself. Why don’t you take a few moments to go back to sleep. I’m sorry we woke you.”
“No, I must stay awake and keep an eye on my friend. I…”
Elias laid a hand on Illya’s shoulder. “Sit down and sleep, Sir.”
Illya could no longer keep his eyes open and did just that.
“Illya. Illya. Wake up Tovarisch. Illya!”
Illya opened his eyes and bolted upright. He hadn’t realized that he fell asleep. “Napoleon.” He saw the hazel brown eyes watching him with a mixture of amusement and concern. “Napoleon, you are awake!”
“And that’s why you are such a good spy, IK. You’re so observant.”
Illya ignored the snarky remark. “You look like you are feeling much better! How is your head? Your leg?”
“That’s the strange thing, Illya. I feel much better. My head is clear, my bruises are almost gone, and although my leg still hurts it’s not nearly as bad as before! I’ve never experienced anything like it. I think my friend, that you are in the wrong vocation. With your healing touch you should be a doctor!”
“It was not I, Napoleon. I did nothing except set your leg and keep you awake.”
“If not you, than who?”
“I am not sure. I had a dream that there were two others who came in. One of them, the woman, was a nurse.” He looked at his friend. “Napoleon, although I am happy that you are better, there is something about this island that does not make any sense.” He shook his head as if to rid himself of cobwebs from his brain. “I think I need a bit of fresh air. I’m going to the lighthouse to see if the fog is lifting off shore. I’ll be back in a few minutes.”
Napoleon nodded. He had known Illya for a long time and never saw his friend so addlepated and unsettled. “Okay, Illya, but don’t be gone too long.”
Illya climbed the stairs to the top of the lighthouse and stepped onto the catwalk, breathing in the cool moist air. The fog still hovered offshore, a solid wall seemingly waiting for permission to come closer to the island. Illya hoped the fog would be gone soon as he didn’t relish staying any longer on this island than was necessary.
Illya spun around when he felt a cool hand upon his shoulder. He had not heard any foot steps on the metal platform of the catwalk, but standing before him was Amanda, the woman in his dream.
“I’m sorry, I did not hear you coming. I…I thought you were part of a dream.” He continued, “I suppose it is you I should thank for the improvement in my friend’s condition. I reall…” He stopped in mid-sentence when he saw a terrified urgency in her eyes.
“You must go. You must leave and take your friend, now! Isabella is…”
A blood curdling scream interrupted her. They both turned towards the sound only to see the enraged Isabella standing and pointing an accusing finger at Illya.
“You, womanizer! You lecherous bastard! I knew I couldn’t trust you!” she shrieked. She screamed again rushing towards him while cursing someone named Elijah. Illya had no time to react to the sound of her maniacal screams as a bitter cold blast of air violently pushed him over the railing.
“Your friend needs your help!”
Napoleon had dozed off and jumped at the sound of a man’s voice. He looked up and saw a young man who could easily have been mistaken for Illya if not for the old fashion style of clothing and the lack of an accent. “Pardon me?”
“Hurry there is no time. Your friend is in great danger. He needs your help or he will die.”
Napoleon didn’t wait another second. He climbed out of bed and limped towards the lighthouse stairs. The pain in his leg combined with the encumbrance of the splint made climbing the steps difficult and frustratingly slow.
As he reached the catwalk, he saw a woman screaming and rushing towards Illya. Before Napoleon could shout a warning, a violent, cold blast of wind knocked Illya over the railing.
“No! Illya! Oh god, no.”
The woman turned to see Napoleon and faded from sight. The American agent had no time to think about what had happened. He rushed to the railing, afraid that he would see Illya below dashed upon the rocks.
“Here, Napoleon!” Illya’s strained voice came from just below the railing. As he went over the railing his reflexes enabled him to catch hold of the bottom bar. Normally, he would have been able to hoist himself up and back onto the safety of the metal platform. However, the strain of the last several days had left his energy depleted and unable to do more than hold on for dear life.
“Hang on, Tovarisch!” Napoleon lay down on the platform and reached with his good arm. He grabbed Illya by his shirt collar and pulled. Inch by inch the Russian climbed up the railing closer to safety. Napoleon made a desperate grab for Illya’s belt and heaved. Both men landed on the decking too exhausted to do more than catch their breath.
“That was too close, Illya. I was afraid I’d lost you.”
“Yes, well suffice it to say I thought I had lost me, too! Thank you, my friend.”
As they lay there they both heard a voice. “Listen well.”
“That’s Amanda,” Illya said. “She’s the one you helped you, Napoleon.”
“You must leave this island immediately. Look! The fog is coming in. When the island is shrouded by the fog all who live will die and the dead will be doomed to stay forever.”
Illya looked over the railing. The fog was indeed moving in at an alarming rate. He reached down to help Napoleon up. “We leave now, my friend.”
As they descended the stairs Amanda’s voice followed them urging them to move faster.
“Do not go into any of the fog that comes ashore. Run, get away while you can.”
Neither man needed further encouragement. When they reached the motor boat, Illya all but threw Napoleon into it. “Start the engine, Napoleon, I’ll untie the boat.” As he reached down to untie the painter from the iron ring, he felt extreme lethargy overtake him. Illya looked back over his shoulder. Tendrils of fog were coming in from the far side of of the island and a wisp of it wound itself around his leg.
“Illya! Come on, now. Jump into the boat.”
But Illya didn’t move. He heard a singsonging voice calling. “Elijah, forgive me. I’m sorry. Stay here with me.” He turned to move towards the voice enchanted by its siren quality. He felt his life’s energy ebbing away, but he didn’t care. He wanted to move closer to the voice.
“Illya! Come back!”
A sudden invisible force knocked Illya down hard onto the rocks momentarily distracting him. It was enough to break Isabella’s spell. He scrambled to the boat and pushed off. Napoleon immediately threw the engine in reverse and opened the throttle.Illya took the helm allowing Napoleon to sit and rest his leg. Neither man spoke as the fog lifted and they headed back to Naubinway.
Behind them the fog surged over the island completely shrouding it. When it receded several hours later the island was gone as if it had never existed. If someone happened to pass by early on November 1st, they might have heard the wind soughing across the surface of the water and they might have heard the sound of a woman calling, “Elijah!”