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The Deja Vu Affair

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Agents Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin were returning from a long but highly successful mission in northern Maine near the Canadian border.  After driving for several hours along the Maine Turnpike, the agents crossed the Piscataqua Bridge which connected Maine and New Hampshire. The two men decided to stop at a small restaurant that offered dining on its patio.

 

The little diner offered the two men a chance to take a break from their long drive and get a little sustenance before they headed back down the road. They sat at an outdoor table in the shade of a large gaudily colored umbrella.  It was unusual to be able to sit outside for a meal at that time of year. Usually, by the end of October, the weather in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, was quite chilly. However, the New England towns up and down the coastline from Rhode Island up to downeast Maine had been enjoying a delightfully mild Indian Summer.

 

The two men sat in companionable silence as they ate their lunch listening to strains of "Big Girls Don't Cry" drifting through the window from the Jukebox inside. Napoleon, senior agent and CEA of Section 2 of the United Command for Law and Enforcement or UNCLE, glanced at the local paper while his partner and good friend called in a report to UNCLE headquarters based in New York City.

 

"Yes, Sir. Thank you, Mr. Waverly."  Illya capped his communicator and returned to his seat. "Well, Napoleon, I have good news, bad news, and good news."

 

Putting down his sandwich in mid bite, Napoleon looked up and waited. When his friend didn't continue he spoke up. "Well, don't keep me in suspense, partner! What did the Old Man have to say?"

 

"He is quite pleased with the results of our mission. The clean-up crew has gone in and rounded up the remaining birds and they found a hidden vault that contained more codes and secret documents beyond what we discovered.  A courier will be taking the remaining materials to the Quebec office."

 

Swallowing his bite, Napoleon pressed Illya for more information. "Great! So what's the bad news?"

 

"According to the National Weather Service there is a dangerous nor'easter heading for the coast. The temperature will plummet and blizzard conditions are predicted. People up and down the coast line are encouraged to stay where they are and take shelter."

 

"Well that's just terrific!" Napoleon groaned. He hadn't been looking forward to another five or more hours of driving to reach New York City to begin with, but driving in the middle of a strong storm on Interstate 95 would be pure hell.  "So do tell, Partner, what is the rest of the  good news?"

 

Illya looked at him, his lobster roll half way to his mouth, a smile gracing his face. "You were not listening very well, Napoleon. People up and down the coast line are encouraged to stay put!  Mr. Waverly has given us orders to find a room here in Portsmouth and wait out the storm."

 

The senior agent looked blankly at his friend for a brief moment then grinned widely. "OOOhhhh, you mean we get to stay overnight, maybe two nights, and we won't have to spend five more hours driving today?"  He paused, "Darn! What a disappointment!"

 

The two men looked at each other and laughed.  As they finished their lunch, Napoleon continued reading the newspaper sharing with Illya the mundane local news. Suddenly he sat up, placed the paper on the table smoothing the page before him. "Hey, Illya, here's a bit of excitement."  He read the headline aloud. "Escaped inmate from the Portland State Hospital Has Been Found".  He read the opening paragraph: 

 

Brian MacHeath, the escapee from Portland State Hospital who had been on the run  for the past two weeks, was killed last night in a shootout with local police and State  Troopers. Local residents who have stayed behind locked doors were relieved to  be able to move freely about.

 

He paused as their waitress stopped by. "Can I get ya anything else, honey? More tea? Dessert, maybe?"

 

"Ah, no thank you..." Napoleon glanced at her name tag..."Sissy. Say what's this about some guy escaping the psychiatric hospital?"

 

"What?" Sissy looked puzzled. When Napoleon showed her the article she laughed. "Oh, my," she giggled loudly. "Someone always falls for it. See, look at the date, honey."

 

Napoleon checked the date in the banner. October 31, 1959. "Oh. I'm afraid I don't understand. Why would you keep an eleven year old newspaper around?"

 

"Oh, honey, it's for Halloween kicks!" Sissy's high pitched and raucous laugh was getting on Napoleon's nerves.  "The the local newspaper republishes the story about that guy every year to give the tourists something to talk about. And every once in a while some tourist will swear they saw the guy's ghost walking the hallways of one of the hotels chasing the guests and threatening them with a knife. But not to worry, honey. The story isn't even true."

 

"Hmm...I see.  If you would give us our check we'll be on our way."

 

The waitress left to get their ticket.

 

As the two agents returned to the car, Illya stopped at the phone booth to look up available hotels listed in the Yellow Pages and make reservations. After several calls he finally replaced the receiver on the hook and returned to the car.

 

"Any luck, Illya?"

"Yes, sorry that took so long, Napoleon. It seems that most of the hotels are booked up due to the storm. But I did find one down on Court Street that still had some rooms available. They have two rooms available for us."

 

"Two rooms? Oh, Mr. Waverly isn't going to like that!"

 

“Well, it seems that each of the rooms have only single twin beds, and I for one, my friend, am not sleeping on the floor after riding in a car for over six hours! Don’t worry, I’ll even spring for the cost of the extra room.”

 

“Now I know the world, as we know it, must be coming to an end,” Napoleon chuckled. “It must be if you’re willing to let loose some of that hard earned money!”  He shifted the car into drive and pulled out into the street.

 

 

The two agents signed the guest register of the Sise Inn and accepted their keys. “Mr. Solo, you are in room 204, and you, Mr. Kuryakin, are in the adjoining room next door.” The hotel clerk batted her eye lashes at the blond agent. “I’ll be here until midnight if you should need anything, gentlemen.”

 

Kuryakin smiled, “I know Mr. Solo will be sure to call on you if he needs anything.” He glanced around taking in the richly polished wood paneled walls and antique furniture. “But I am curious. This inn is beautiful and your prices are more than reasonable. I was surprised to find that you had some rooms available when all of the other hotels were booked full.”

 

“Oh, well you see, sir,” the clerk answered, “there are two types of people who stay here. Those who are ghost hunting and those who don’t know about the ghost.”

 

“Ah, which ghost would that be?” Napoleon asked.

 

“Oh, I guess you two are of the latter type of guests. Why the ghost of Brian MacHeath,” she said. “He was known as Mac the Knife after the song that was so popular at the time he escaped and then killed! It’s rumored that he roams the hallways dragging his knife along the walls looking in different rooms for the people responsible for incarcerating him in the hospital. You see the judge and prosecutor were staying here during the trial.”

 

“Really? Well, did he?”

 

The clerk looked at him blankly. “Did he what, sir?”

 

“Find what he was looking for?”

 

“Oh, I don’t know! It’s only a ghost story. You look like an intelligent man, Mr. Solo. You don’t believe in ghosts, do you?”

 

Illya grabbed Napoleon by the elbow and steered him away from the desk. “Of course he doesn’t, Miss. Come on Napoleon, I’m tired and want to get to my room.”

 

 

When they reached their rooms, both men, as was their custom, did a security check looking for listening devices and booby traps. Neither really expected to find anything, but it was the cautious agent that lived to see another mission. Illya placed his battered suitcase on the luggage stand and only unpacked his Dopp kit. He saw no point in unpacking his clothes if they stayed for only a night, maybe two. Then, unlocking his door that joined the two rooms, he knocked on Napoleon’s door, waiting for him to open it.

 

Napoleon unpacked his suitcase after casing his room. Twice, as he looked behind the curtains and under the bed, he had an eery feeling that he was being watched. He stopped each time to look behind him and saw nothing. He shook his head, chalked it up to the wind rattling the window panes from the approaching storm and the ridiculous discussion about the ghost. “Get a hold of yourself, Solo!”  He startled at the light tapping on the door between the two rooms. He unlocked the door and let Illya in.

 

“How’s your room, partner?”

 

“Just fine, my friend. I am looking forward to turning in early and getting a good night’s sleep.” At that moment a strong wind gust brushed a branch against Napoleon’s window as the wind whistled through the cracks in the sash.

 

Napoleon laughed. “Do you think you’ll get much sleep with all of that going on, Tovarisch?”

 

“My room is quite comfortable, Napoleon, and my window sash is tighter so I do not get the wind whistling like you do, nor the draft.” He shivered slightly as he felt cool air brush the right side of his face. My friend, would you like to switch rooms?  You know I can sleep through anything. The draft and the wind whistling will not bother me.”

 

The American agent chuckled. “No, thanks anyway, Illya. I’m tired enough that the storm shouldn’t bother me.” He checked his watch. “It’s 9 o’clock. We’re both tired and if the storm clears we’ll have a long drive tomorrow. I think I’m going to hit the sack.” He clapped Illya on the arm. “See you in the morning. I’ll wake you around 8 o’clock.”  Each bid the other good night and shut their door and turned in.

 

The old inn groaned and creaked as it stood against the storm, one of many it had endured over the last 85 years. The roof might lose a shingle and the windows and doors rattle, but the building held firm. Its occupants were all tucked in for the night. All of them, save one. 

 

On the third floor, a shadowy figure drifted out of a darkened corner and stood intently listening for the sounds of anyone who might be awake. He would have to approach his victim carefully. Slowly, he withdrew his blood stained hunting knife from the pocket of his oversized trench coat. It was his favorite knife, the one he used the most to kill the sinners that crossed his path. 

 

Limping heavily, he slowly shuffled down the hall way. As he moved, he dragged the point of his knife along the wall, stopping at each door. Thump, drag, scrape. Thump, drag, scrape. He moved through the portals and stood at the edge of each bed, evaluating if the person laying there would be his next victim. But none qualified so he moved on. Only people who lived violent lives could hear his approach.

 

He reached the middle of the hall, only five more rooms to go. Would he find one tonight? He continued on. Thump, drag, scrape. The ghost of Brian MacHeath neared rooms 204 and 205. He paused. Sniffing the air he could smell the odor of not one but two unsettled souls emanating from both rooms. Tonight was his lucky night. Two potential victims laid beyond the doors. He must rid the world of such beings. He must.

 

 

Napoleon lay quite still. Keeping his eyes closed, he slowly reached under his pillow for his firearm. He waited, motionless, trying to assess what woke him. The wind and rain still lashed against the window panes, but he was sure that was not what alerted him. During a lull in the wind, he heard it. Thump, drag, scrape. What was that? Thump, drag, scrape. The sound stopped at his door. He jumped out of bed and stood to the side of the door waiting. He waited for at least five minutes and when the sound didn’t reoccur he slowly undid the lock and chain on the door and peered out. Nothing. He stepped out into the hallway and looked about…nothing.

 

“Damn!” he muttered. “I could have sworn I heard something.” He went back into his room, relocked the door and hooked up the security chain. “I’m getting to old for this shit.” Putting his firearm back under the pillow, Napoleon pulled up the bed covers and tried to go back to sleep. 

 

He must have dozed for a short time before he was again wide awake. This time the temperature in his room had dropped at least a good twenty degrees. He looked up at the window to make sure it was still shut, when he saw the shadow of someone standing at the foot of his bed. He sat up abruptly. “Who the hell are you?” he whispered. “What are you doing here?”

 

I am Brian MacHeath, and I’ve come for you and your ilk.  There was no sound. The apparition spoke directly into the senior agent’s mind.

 

“I don’t even know you!” Napoleon argued, raising his voice so Illya could hear him.

 

I know you or at least your kind. You are evil. You have killed and so now you must be killed.

 

The ghost approached Napoleon who jumped out of bed to avoid making contact. As he moved away he found himself backed into a corner. MacHeath came closer. “I don’t even believe in ghosts!” Napoleon yelled. “Illya! Illya wake up!” He hoped his voice carried through the walls.

 

He threw his hands up to ward off the ghost’s advance, but his arms went right through the force which completely enveloped him. Napoleon tried to scream, but the coldness took his breath away, and he fell to the floor momentarily stunned.

 

Awareness slowly returned. Napoleon reached out to the chest of drawers next to him and levered himself up. He had never felt so cold, so wretched. What happened? He stumbled into the bathroom and looked in the mirror. The reflected image was not his own. It was the image of Brian MacHeath. The man whose photograph was in the paper at the diner.

 

His hand flew to his face. The skin was cold and complexion bluish gray. Crazed eyes stared back at him. He was wearing an ill fitting trench coat and in his other hand he held vicious looking, bloodied knife.

 

“What’s happening to me?” the agent wailed.

 

I am happening to you! Before I kill you for your sins, I will kill your friend for his, only you will help me.

 

“No! No, I won’t. You can’t make me!”

 

Oh, but I can and I will. You have no control over your body, now.

 

“No. No.”

 

The doors between the rooms flew open as Illya rushed in with his firearm. “Napoleon, I heard you yelling. What is wrong?”

 

As Kuryakin appeared the ghost morphed back into the image of Napoleon, but his force was still in control.

 

Kuryakin lowered his UNCLE Special. “My friend, you look like you have seen a ghost! Are you ill?”

 

Kill him, kill him, now. He is a sinner and must be destroyed. Kill him, now.

 

Napoleon leaped forward taking his best friend by surprise pinning him against the wall with super human strength. He reveled in feeling the smaller man struggling. Kill him! He is evil, he has killed others. Kill him, now!  Raising the knife he brought it down slashing the man’s chest. He stabbed and slashed over and over again screaming, “You must die, you must die!” Blood was everywhere. Napoleon had severed Illya’s aorta causing blood to spurt in all directions as the Russian struggled to hang on to life. His large hands weakly grabbed the material of Solo’s pajama top. As the light in his eyes dimmed, Illya looked at his best friend and whispered, “Why?” before collapsing, lifeless, to the floor.

 

“No! Illya, no! Oh God, what have I done?” Napoleon’s eyes flew open as he felt tears streaming down his face. He looked around, his eyes wild with fright and dread. Illya came running out of the bathroom, a towel wrapped around his waist.

 

“Napoleon, are you all right? I heard you yell.” His friend sat before him, pale and drenched in sweat. He was tangled up in the sheets. “My friend, you look like you have seen a ghost!”

 

Solo looked up at his dripping wet and very alive partner. He shuddered as the build up of adrenaline slowly ran its course.  “I think I have.” He reached out to touch Illya, to reassure himself that his friend was, indeed, still alive.  “Wow! That was one hell of a nightmare.” Even as he spoke the last vestiges of the hellish images were now only a fuzzy, dissipating memory.

 

“Do you want to talk about it?”

 

Napoleon shook his had hard trying to clear the cobwebs from his brain. “I, really, don’t remember much, Illya, except that you were killed by a knife….and…and…I think I was responsible.” Another shudder passed through his body.

 

Kuryakin, smiled patting Napoleon’s shoulder. “Well, my friend, as you can see I am quite alive and well. And hungry! The shower is yours. As soon as you are ready and we have eaten breakfast we should get on the road. It is about a six hour drive to Portsmouth. We can stop and have an early dinner there, before heading on to Boston.

 

 

The drive from Fort Kent, located on the northern most border of Maine, to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, took every bit of the six hours Illya had predicted. The agents crossed the Piscataqua Bridge which connected Maine and New Hampshire. They rolled into town about 4:00 pm to the sound of Illya’s stomach rumbling.

 

Napoleon laughed. “I think we need to stop and feed the Russian bear.”

 

Illya glared at him and then smiled. “Yes, please do. I am starving.” 

 

The two men decided to stop at a small restaurant that offered dining on its patio. The little diner offered them a chance to take a break from their long drive and get a little sustenance before they headed back down the road. They sat at an outdoor table in the shade of a large gaudily colored umbrella.  It was unusual to be able to sit outside for a meal at that time of year. Usually, by the end of October, the weather in Portsmouth was quite chilly. However, the New England towns up and down the coastline from Rhode Island up to downeast Maine had been enjoying a delightfully mild Indian Summer.

 

The longer they stayed at the restaurant, the more ill-at-ease Napoleon Solo became. Memories of the nightmare were coming back to plague him. Illya came back from his conversation with the Old Man.

 

"Well, Napoleon, I have good news, bad news, and good news.

 

“Mr. Waverly is quite pleased with the results of our mission. The clean-up crew has gone in and rounded up the remaining birds and they found a hidden vault that contained more codes and secret documents beyond what we discovered.  A courier will be taking the remaining materials to the Quebec office."

 

Swallowing his bite, a flash of the nightmare engulfed him. Ignoring it Napoleon pressed Illya for more information. "So what's the bad news?"

 

"According to the National Weather Service there is a dangerous nor'easter heading for the coast. The temperature will plummet and blizzard conditions are predicted. People up and down the coast line are encouraged to stay where they are and take shelter."

 

"Well that's just terrific!" Napoleon groaned. He hadn't been looking forward to another five or more hours of driving to reach New York City to begin with, but driving in the middle of a strong storm on Interstate 95 would be pure hell.  "So do tell, Partner, what is the rest of the  good news?"

 

Illya looked at him, his lobster roll half way to his mouth, a half smile gracing his face. "You were not listening very well, Napoleon. People up and down the coast line are encouraged to stay put!  Mr. Waverly has given us orders to find a room here in Portsmouth and wait out the storm."

 

The senior agent looked blankly at his friend for a brief moment. A sense of deja vu swept through him leaving a pall of dread and fear. More flashbacks of the nightmare came to him.

 

“Ah, Illya?” Napoleon swallowed nervously. “Do you believe in premonitions?”

 

“No, my friend, not per se. But I have high regard for the ‘gut feelings’ we both have been known to experience.”

 

As they finished their lunch, Napoleon continued reading the newspaper sharing with Illya the mundane local news. Suddenly he sat up, placed the paper on the table smoothing the page before him. He pointed to the headline. "Escaped inmate from the Portland State Hospital Has Been Found".  “Let’s go, Illya. We’re leaving now!”

 

“But, Napoleon, I have not finished eating!”

 

“I don’t care, Illya, we’re leaving, now! We’ll drive down to Lowell, Massachusetts, and find a room there.”

 

Illya started to protest, however seeing how pale his friend was, he acquiesced to Napoleon’s sense of urgency. He tossed a tip onto the table while Napoleon paid the check. Wiping his face and placing the rest of his sandwich in a napkin to eat later, he followed Napoleon. Strains of an old Bobby Daren song from the Jukebox followed them out the door.

 

Oh, the shark, babe, has such teeth, dear

And it shows them pearly white

Just a jackknife has old MacHeath, babe

And he keeps it, ah, out of sight

Ya know when that shark bites with his teeth, babe

Scarlet billows start to spread

Fancy gloves, oh, wears old MacHeath, babe

So there's never, never a trace of red….

 

Mack the Knife is back in town…