Eric came rushing down the stairs from Ops, stopping briefly on the landing to remove the Batman mask he was wearing. He’d caught the death stare Sam had shot at him, all of them practically walking on eggshells around Deeks this Halloween.
“What have you got, Eric?” Callen asked, watching for any reaction from Deeks.
“Uh…got a hit on our suspect heading into a carnival that just set up this week in a vacant lot behind the airport,” he said hesitantly, glancing at each of them, but settling on Deeks as he nervously toyed with a pencil.
“A carnival?” Sam questioned.
“The Great Hobgoblin Carnival to be exact,” Nell said, all business as she walked briskly into the bullpen.
“Does Marley have a connection to someone who works there?” Kensi asked as she came to stand beside her partner, setting a cup of coffee down next to his hand.
“We’re checking on that, but he did work at a carny before he joined the Navy, so it’s possible,” she informed them.
“Are there clowns?” Deeks asked with a growing smile as he swiveled his chair around to look at Sam.
“Deeks,” Sam warned, pointing at him. “Don’t you dare go there.”
“You gonna freeze up on me Sam?” Callen laughed. “If a big guy in a frizzy wig, wearing a red rubber nose and big shoes pulls a gun on me, you gonna run screaming from the scene? Maybe I should take Kensi as backup?”
“No way, G man,” Deeks said quickly. “You’re not sticking me with Sam, especially today.”
“Not a problem, Mr. Deeks,” Hetty announced, quietly surprising them. “You won’t be going.”
“Seriously? Why not?” Deeks asked, his eyes questioning and darkly angry.
“Do you really have to ask, Mr. Deeks?” She replied, holding his gaze, her mouth tight.
“So you’re punishing me for what happened an entire year ago?” He said, his voice rising with his anger.
“It’s been two Halloweens in a row, Deeks,” Callen reminded him. “We need to catch this guy.”
“And my freaky ghost of a father showing up would be a distraction,” he said softly. “So does this mean you don’t think I’m crazy?”
“If you’re crazy, then so are the rest of us,” Sam said softly.
“Not sure that makes me feel better or just nervous we’re all living The Nightmare on Elm Street,” he replied, forcing out a hollow laugh. “So, what am I supposed to do while you go catch the bad guy?”
“Find a link between Marley and someone in that carnival,” Hetty told him.
“Isn’t that Eric and Nell’s job?” He asked, his surliness catching everyone’s attention.
“Now it’s yours, Mr. Deeks,” Hetty’s voice full of icy resolve. “Do you have a problem following my orders?”
“No, of course not,” he said softly and dropped his head to stare into his cup of coffee.
Sam gently squeezed his shoulder as he got up, but Deeks didn’t acknowledge him.
“I’ll send you a link to their website,” Eric said quietly. “It’s pretty cool. They have a super sideshow, with acts like The Rubber Man, the Human Pincushion and even a sword swallower. Oh and my personal favorite…The Great Nippulini.”
“Do I even want to ask?” Callen smirked.
“His nipples are pierced and he can lift up to fifty-five pounds…” Eric stopped talking as soon as Kensi punched him solidly in the arm and glared at him.
“I once went undercover as a sideshow performer in Paris,” Hetty reminisced. “I was a fire-eater.”
“Why am I not surprised,” Callen breathed out.
“Did you have a cool name?” Eric asked, clearly excited by this new information.
“I was known as The Dragon Lady,” she replied.
“Still are,” Deeks snapped as he rose from his chair and pushed past everyone as he headed up to Ops.
“He knows we’re only trying to protect him, doesn’t he?” Nell asked, seeing the doubt in all their faces.
“Kens? Any texts?” Sam asked.
“No.” She shivered involuntarily as she recalled the frightening threats about Deeks she’d received the past two Halloweens.
“Mr. Callen. All of you. Please be careful out there,” Hetty reminded them. “We believe this man is responsible for the grisly deaths of two Navy Lieutenants and the carny can be a dangerous place. Those people protect their own and if Mr. Marley is one of them, you may have more to deal with than just one criminal.”
“We’ll be fine if they don’t have any clowns,” Callen sniped as he smiled broadly at Sam.
“Just one,” Eric popped out.
“That’s not funny,” Sam turned to face him.
“No rubber nose or big feet on this one, Sam,” he replied quickly. “He’s more of a scary clown. A skeleton with a witch’s hat and black and white striped knee high socks…Oh, and a big red painted on smile.”
“Feel better, partner?” Callen said as he gave Sam a push toward the door.
“As long as we don’t meet the ghost of Halloween past, I’m fine,” he said.
The three agents walked out into the unusually still night that felt almost claustrophobic from the low clouds hanging overhead. An occasional flash of lightening illuminated the dark clouds as they made their way to Kensi’s Cadillac, great rolls of thunder following as they drove away.
Eric and Nell tried to keep Deeks’ spirits up as he searched through the web site for any possible connection to their suspect, but he would barely grunt out a reply to their comments and they finally just left him alone.
“Found something,” he said and the two techs came up on either side of him as he hunched over his laptop in the dark blue of the room.
“This show was in both towns the same time the murders took place,” he told them, but he could see they already seemed to know that, which added to his feeling of being handled. “Do you also know The Great Hobgoblin’s real name?”
Both techs looked at each other and then nodded with embarrassment and Deeks slammed the lid down on his laptop, running a shaky hand through his hair as he walked away and stood staring at the big screen.
“Marley’s his cousin, but you already knew that and I’m assuming you passed the info onto the team,” Deeks’ voice was low and rough with barely concealed anger. “So why don’t I just play ‘World of Goo’ on my tablet and stay out of the way until the others bring the guy in. You’re obviously just babysitting me until they do.”
“Sorry man. Cool game, though,” Eric said by way of apology and went back to his chair. “Wait. This is weird.”
“What is?” Nell asked. “Oh…”
Every screen in Ops suddenly became filled with green noise, incoming information scattering across the displays into strips of words that slowly formed into sentences.
“Can’t get to you, Marty Boy, but I can get to your friends…Trick or Treat. Want to play a game of Whack-a-Mole? You liked to play that dumb game when you were little…remember?”
Deeks jumped as if hit, stumbling back against the center table as the sound of deep laughter echoed through the room, underscored by Eric and Nell frantically typing on their keyboards.
“We’ve been hacked, big time,” Eric breathed out as he continued to try and get back control of the system.
The big screen was suddenly filled with a video of the carnival just as Sam and Callen walked into view, followed by a very wary Kensi. The three agents were moving past a colorfully painted, old fashioned looking banner showing the Human Pincushion. They didn’t seem to know they were on camera and Deeks quickly dug his comm out of his pocket and shoved it in his ear.
“Kensi!” He shouted out, but got no response, the two techs yelling as well. “Sam! Callen!”
“They can’t hear us,” Nell whispered nervously. “What the hell is going on?”
“Time for some fun…who should I whack first, Marty Boy?” The sentence forming slowly on a strip of white across the screen
“Leave them alone!” He shouted into the tense air of the room.
“Where’s the fun in that…it’s Halloween. Are you scared? I hope you’re scared…You should be scared you little shit…You don’t deserve to have friends.”
Deeks was drawing in deep gulps of air as the message disappeared, leaving him staring at his three friends walking around the fluttering banners and tents. A skeletal figure wearing a tall black conical hat and striped socks entered the frame holding a large club that looked as if it came out of a Wile E. Coyote cartoon. Deeks began yelling into his comm as the figure swiftly came up behind Sam and knocked him off his feet. The figure turned toward the camera and doffed his hat and then ran.
“One down…two to go. You might be able to save them if you hurry.”
“Deeks no,” Nell said as she stepped in front of him. “Hetty said to stay here.”
“You think I’m just going to stay here while some crazies take out my team?” Deeks pushed her aside and strode out of Ops, checking his weapon as he moved.
“That’s my stupid boy…”
The laugh that followed through their comms was chilling and Eric work feverishly to get the system back, while Nell pulled her phone and called Hetty as she stared at the dark video of the carnival.
“You have to see this. It’s happening again.” Then she hung up and waited, wrapping her arms around herself at the sudden coldness of the room.
The grounds were devoid of people when he arrived just before eleven, a foggish rain muting the colorful title above the entrance. The Great Hobgoblin Carnival and Freakshow was spelled out in hand painted letters of yellow outlined in red that dripped down like droplets of blood. He moved beneath it, his way dimly lit by strings of small light bulbs that crisscrossed the muddy track in front of the sideshow stages. He’d tried the comms before getting out of the car, but they were still down, so he had his gun in front of him as he moved deeper inside the carnival. A west wind had come up and was blowing the canvas banners around, the flapping sound eerie and making him jumpy as they slapped against the metal poles holding them in place. The carnival didn’t feel modern, but something old and fetid, the graphics hand painted, hinting at a era that no longer existed. His throat constricted as he searched for the team, afraid to shout out their names for fear of revealing his presence to whoever might be lurking behind the empty stages and deserted rides.
He stopped in front of a game booth sporting garish colored stuffed toys hanging limply from the roof, soaked from the misting rain. The row of smiling clown heads painted on peeling boards stared back at him, their noses red balloons bouncing in the wind. “Win a Stuffed Animal”…“3 Darts 50 Cents Each” a multitude of signs taunting whoever passed by. He thought he saw movement behind the targets and took a step forward. A large dart flew out of the darkness, and he grunted at the prick of sharp pain as it stuck in his chest just below his collarbone.
“Sonofabitch,” he said angrily as he pulled it free and fired indiscriminately at the clowns that seemed to be laughing at him.
“Wanna play?” His comm suddenly alive with the deep voice of his tormenter.
“You want me, not my friends,” he said, shivering now as the rain soaked through his bloody shirt and plastered his hair to his head.
“I never wanted you, Marty Boy…never…”
Deeks took off running, needing to escape, needing to save his friends from whoever or whatever this was, stumbling in the sucking mud. He was gasping for breath when he stopped, something beneath the edge of a tent catching his eye. Shoes.
“No, no no,” he whispered as he threw the red and white tent flap back and stepped inside, the sweet smell of sawdust filling his nostrils. He choked out a cry when he saw Callen lying face down, his arm behind his back and obviously broken, his disheveled clothes hinting at his struggle with whoever had attacked him.
“Callen?” He pressed his fingers to his throat, blinking hard as he fought his emotions. “Please, man.”
His heart began to pound when he got no response, experiencing a wave of nausea as he fumbled for his phone. The screen was filled with the same green flickering noise as those in Ops, and he cursed softly, a rush of rage energizing him as he knelt down next to Callen. He gently turned him over, closing his eyes when he saw the blood on his face. He frantically searched for more serious wounds, and shakily let out his breath when he found none.
“Deeks?” Callen choked out as his eyes flashed open, fighting to rise as Deeks stumbled away from him.
“I’m sorry, brother,” Deeks’ voice low and raw. “This is my battle, not yours.”
“Three guys jumped me,” Callen told him as he sat up and pulled his broken arm to his chest, groaning softly. “And they weren’t ghosts, Deeks.”
“I don’t know,” Callen answered shakily. “The comms were nothing but static and white noise.”
“Green,” Deeks said.
“All the screens in Ops were filled with green noise and messages from my supposedly dead father,” he replied, his voice cracking. “Then a video came up and showed all of you walking into the carnival and then that black and white clown hit Sam over the head and…”
“Slow down, Deeks,” Callen said, eerily calm. “We’ll call in and get some help down here.”
“Phones don’t work either,” he said, taking another step back, needing to distance himself. “I have to find Kensi.”
“Ready for the freakshow, Marty Boy?” The comms suddenly alive with a familiar deep voice. “Your girlfriend’s waiting.”
“Where is she, you fucking monster?” Deeks screamed out into the dull air of the tent.
“Follow the yellow brick road, baby boy,” the voice taunted. “You used to sing that with your mother, remember? Disgusting shit.”
“Deeks?” Callen struggled to his feet, reaching for him as he started toward the back of the tent, an open flap beckoning to a path of sawdust.
“Stay here Callen,” Deeks croaked out. “He won’t hurt you anymore now.”
“Deeks, there’s a real live killer out there,” Callen shouted after him as he ran out of the tent.
Deeks stumbled along the sawdust path, his mind reeling with what was happening again. The wind was stronger now, the painted canvas banners flapping wildly, hitting him as he ran by searching for Kensi. The rain was blowing sideways, the sawdust sinking into the mud with each step he took.
“Kensi!” He shouted again and again, his fear growing when he heard nothing but the drumming of the rain and the flapping canvas.
“Don’t hurt her, please,” he finally whispered as he stopped in front of a looming painted facade.
The sign above the entrance read ‘The Great Hobgoblin’s Famous Freakshow’, surrounded by flashing theater lights, the wall covered in faded painted panels illustrating each performer and their particular claim to freakdom. He slowly climbed the rickety stairs to the small stage in front of the undistinguished black door and stopped, jumping in surprise at the sudden flash of lightning and the ominous boom of thunder that followed.
“Scared yet, Marty Boy?” The low and menacing voice no longer sounding like his father at all. “She makes a beautiful freak…Wanna see? Come inside and experience my world. It’ll be fun.”
The harsh laughter that followed was chilling, but Deeks pushed the door open and took a tentative step inside, needing to find Kensi, his fear for her growing with each step he took. The air inside was dense and warm and very still. There was no sound, just a dullness in his ears as he moved through the darkness, his hand skirting along the wall as he followed the narrow hall deeper into the labyrinth. He could feel his own heart beating and his hand was sweaty as his grip tightened on his gun. He had no idea what direction he was following as the empty black hallway twisted and turned, taking him deeper inside. He slipped on something and fell to his knees, his hand landing in something warm and sticky and his heart began to race when he smelled blood.
His scream reverberated off the claustrophobic black walls as he rose and ran, bumping along the curving walls until he saw the glimmer of flashing lights ahead of him at a crossroad of passageways. He stopped unsure which way to go, the walls now covered in mirrors that distorted his body, making him dizzy and angry.
“What do you want?” He whispered.
“You took something from me and now I’m taking something from you,” the hollow voice whispered behind him, a dark visage reflected in the mirror. “Did you think I wouldn’t make you pay? Trick or treat…you little bastard.”
He turned to confront what he thought was there, but he saw nothing but his own reflection, his face distorted by the fun house mirror. The soft touch of something on his shoulder made him turn quickly and then another crawled up his neck and he turned and fired his weapon, shattering the mirror in front of him. A slithering sound resounded through the narrow hall, and his heart was pounding in his chest as he searched furtively for something to focus on in the dense darkness.
Suddenly, shrill calliope music shrieked through the enclosed space and he quickly covered his ears, startled as flashing arrows directed him down a winding passageway. He sensed something close by as he moved forward, but as many times as he turned to check, he saw nothing. The slithering sound he’d heard before seemed to be following him, making his anger rise, so he turned and fired back into the darkness, hearing a soft chuckle in reply.
“If you’ve hurt her, I’ll kill you,” he said, suddenly calm and determined not to freak out.
“You were always such a silly little boy,” the words booming through the comm still in his ear.
“And you were always an unholy sonofabitch,” he shouted back.
“Still am, Marty Boy.”
A door creaked open before he could reply and the smell of blood on a breath of warm air made him turn to see a stream of dim light across the floor. He reached out and pushed the door open, fear sending icy chills down both arms, the hair rising as he entered the room beyond. Foul smelling old drapes of red velvet hung down in great sheets from the high ceiling, the only light in the room coming from a crystal chandelier hanging over an old iron bed. It was also draped in red velvet, and their suspect was lying sprawled across it covered in blood from two gunshot wounds in his chest.
“Kensi?” He moved to the bed, unnecessarily checking the man’s pulse before closing his staring dead eyes.
He sensed movement and looked up to see the drapery moving as if someone was sweeping it back, but he saw no one, and then suddenly felt hands on his arms and he turned to fight. A massive hand closed over his mouth as other hands grasped his arms and legs, the light from the chandelier growing dimmer until all he saw were shadows. He struggled against the people holding him and he felt the gun taken from his hand, and he wondered why he hadn’t fired. He felt their breath on his face and the smell of greasepaint and sweat as his hands were pulled behind him and held tight. Strange people stepped out from behind the hanging draperies and moved toward him. Not one looked normal and he wasn’t even sure they were human at all. He recognized The Lizard Man from a painted banner he’d seen when he first entered the carnival, but now his face was contorted, his teeth sharply pointed as he laughed in his face, his green tinted hands stroking his throat. A high-pitched scream made him jump, but the others showed no sign they had heard it. He was being pushed past the drapery into the dark and he began to panic as breathing became difficult, the giant man holding him cutting off most of his air. The passageway was lit occasionally and he caught glimpses of the strange creatures around him, some wearing bizarre costumes and evil looking masks, one had a face with three eyes and all of them pulling at him with desperate fingers and contorted, grimacing faces, their eyes glowing with green fire.
He was shoved into another room, the giant’s hand slipping from his mouth and he gasped as he saw Kensi tied spread eagle to a large wooden wheel painted with a red and white spiral target, harsh spotlights illuminating her body. She was dressed in a blue velvet costume like a trapeze artist would wear, her arms and legs bare and her face covered in white greasepaint, a garish smile painted in red around her mouth, her cheeks painted with perfectly round black circles. They had put a feathered conical hat on her head and he struggled forward, praying she was still alive as he searched for signs of blood.
“Why are you doing this?” He shouted, only to be struck from behind and knocked to his knees.
“Deeks?” Kensi yelled and then struggled against the ropes that held her.
He was yanked to his feet as a tall figure stepped from behind the wheel, and he was unsure if it was a man wearing an elaborate mask or some other sort of creature. Its head was an oversized orange pumpkin, its eyes ringed in black and its teeth colored red. The creature was wearing a black tuxedo with tails, his long hands deathly white and his nails black. The thing turned to look at Kensi, his hand caressing her face and then down her throat until the backs of his fingers rested on the tops of her breasts.
“So beautiful to die so young,” his voice the same one Deeks had heard earlier, causing him to violently shiver.
“Who the hell are you,” Deeks demanded, trying to get to him, but held fast by many hands.
“Didn’t your daddy tell you?” He asked as he walked slowly toward him. “I’m the Great Hobgoblin and this is my freakshow, Marty Boy.”
“Let her go,” his voice growing stronger as he spoke.
“She needs to answer for her crimes, just like you,” he replied, dragging the black nail of one finger across Deeks’ lower lip.
“She killed a member of my special family,” he accused, stepping closer, his voice grating and his breath foul. “Gordon said you tried to kill him. Such a bad little boy.”
“Your cousin was a murderer,” he said.
“Aren’t we all,” the Hobgoblin laughed. “You wanted to kill your own father. What makes you any different?”
“My father was a terrible human being,” he said breathlessly. “He was evil.”
“I know a thing or two or three about that. Now, shall we get on with the show as they say?” the creature replied flippantly, mocking him in a singsong voice. “Meet The Amazing Major Sharp, knife thrower extraordinaire. If he’s perfect, your little girlfriend lives. If not… Well, he has been drinking, so his aim might not be quite that good.”
“Don’t do this,” Deeks pleaded.
“Don’t tell me what to do,” he replied, his voice deep and rasping as he gripped Deeks throat, his nails digging into his flesh until blood seeped out around them.
Deeks struggled to breathe, his vision blurring and distorting as if he were looking into the fun house mirrors again. Something tore at his shirt and he let out a strangled cry as sharp nails clawed into his back, a soft giggle buzzing in his ear. He was slowly pushed to his knees and then down until he was being pressed face down in the mud. Dark images swirled in his mind and he wondered if he’d been drugged. He thought he heard Kensi yelling his name, but there was a roaring in his ears that dulled the sounds around him.
“If you hear her scream, he missed,” the singsong voice whispered.
Deeks struggled to raise his head to look as the Great Hobgoblin started the wheel turning that Kensi was tied to. He saw the sudden fear in her frantic, defiant eyes and he closed his to block out the otherworldly scene, refusing to believe what was happening. The heavy thud of each knife hitting the heavy wooden board, made him flinch and then he began screaming her name and fighting the hands that held him down. He heard Kensi call out his name and then a pained cry that had him fighting even harder.
“I’ll kill you all,” he screamed as he managed to get to his knees.
The sharp edge of a knife pressed into his chest made him stop and he looked up, swearing he was staring into the face of his father, but he shook his head and closed his eyes to the laughter all around him. He felt no pain, just the warm flow of blood down his chest and the sound of Kensi’s voice calling his name. He felt lightheaded, but relieved that Kensi was still alive. As he weakened, his face was once again pressed into the cold mud by a powerful force he could no longer fight.
“You don’t deserve to be loved, Marty Boy,” the familiar voice taunted him in the darkness. “Your little girlfriend will be dead and your friends will desert you after this…you’ll be all alone and then you’ll understand, Marty Boy…then you’ll know what it’s like.”
“You’re dead,” Deeks said without inflection as his mind and body numbed in the sudden seeping coldness.
He felt himself lifted by many hands and his mind floated as his body was carried out into the rain. His will to resist was gone, his mind unable to process the craziness around him. Grotesque faces peered at him, screeching laughter and clawing fingers pulling at his clothes made him dizzy, but he could no longer fight them, his body not responding to the rage he felt. They laid him in the mud with his head resting on a round piece of metal, and he looked up into the falling rain to see a vertical tower rising high into the stormy sky, height measurements painted along its length. He jerked involuntarily at the sudden memory. His dad had taken him to a carnival once when he was seven or eight, and tried to prove how strong he was by showing off at one of the attractions called the High Striker. He’d tried to ring the bell at the top, slamming the huge rubber mallet down again and again until sweat poured off of him. Deeks remembered laughing each time he failed, remembered the frustration and growing anger on his father’s face, the defeat in his eyes, but he couldn’t stop laughing and he had paid for it when they got home. Now he knew he would pay the ultimate price for that laughter he couldn’t hold back so long ago.
“You remember don’t you, you little mongrel?” The cold sounding voice filling his ears. “Not laughing now are you, Marty Boy?”
As hard as he tried, he couldn’t move as the Great Hobgoblin bent his head down to look at him, a large mallet clinched in his ghostly white hands.
“Don’t.” He whispered into the weeping rain.
“But your daddy asked me too,” The haunting voice now hollow and harsh.
He saw the thing raise the mallet above its head, its dark rimmed eyes burning with malevolence, and a familiar green glow. Deeks stared at it, unwilling to look away, wanting to face his own death bravely. When the thing’s head exploded he gasped as the mallet fell harmlessly next to his head, the smell of rotting pumpkin clogging his nostrils and making him gag.
“Deeks!” Sam boomed out, but he couldn’t stop laughing as his familiar face appeared above him.
“This is definitely not funny, Deeks,” Callen’s voice causing him to finally let out a long sigh and close his eyes.
He spoke her name reverently, whispering it softly to himself, knowing she was probably dead and knowing it was his fault. He felt his own warm tears streaming from his eyes as he began to scream. Long heartrending cries he couldn’t stop even when Sam lifted his head and shushed him like a child, holding his shivering body in his arms.
“I got her killed Sam,” he finally said wearily. “You should have let that thing kill me.”
“Don’t be an idiot Deeks,” Kensi’s sharp remark jolting him.
“Kens? You’re alive?” He opened his eyes, hoping against hope he wasn’t hallucinating.
“Dead people don’t talk Deeks,” she said softly as she brushed the wet hair out of his eyes.
Her comment started him laughing hysterically again, unable to stop until a paramedic pushed a needle into his arm, his last thought was of his father and the haunting look of hurt he remembered seeing in his eyes as he laughed at him all those years ago.
“How’s your arm, Mr. Callen?” Hetty asked as she walked up beside Deeks’ hospital bed.
“Broken,” he snipped.
“And your state of mind?”
“It’s gone,” she said quietly, reaching out with a shaky hand to grip his good arm.
“The Great Hobgoblin Carnival,” she replied tightly. “Disappeared in the middle of the night and no one saw them go.”
“How is that possible Hetty?” He whispered.
“How was any of this possible, Mr. Callen?” She questioned. “All that’s left is the dead body of our suspect, now in the morgue. The Great Hobgoblin’s body is nowhere to be found. No blood either, just remnants of a rather large pumpkin scattered in the mud around a lone carnival game in the middle of a vacant lot.”
“Deeks keeps saying he’s sorry over and over in his sleep,” Callen murmured.
“Of course. He blames himself for what happened to all of you,” Hetty replied.
“I don’t think he was saying it to us,” Callen said softly.
“Then to who?”
“His father,” Callen said, pulling his broken arm closer to his body as if chilled. “He kept repeating ‘sorry, daddy’ over and over, even after they sedated him.”
“I think we both believe a person can be haunted by their past,” she said. “But this enters the realm of the occult…the black arts. Supernatural beings beyond our understanding.”
“You think last night was sorcery? Black magic come to nest in Santa Monica?” Callen smirked.
“If you don’t, explain how all of our systems went down at the same time; the screens taken over by an unknown force, sending messages we all heard and saw?” she asked. “Mr. Beale and Miss Jones have no explanation for what happened in Ops. Everything came back online one minute after midnight…”
“Hetty. The men who attacked me weren’t ghosts,” Callen stated firmly. “Sam’s concussion wasn’t caused by a witch and Kensi’s leg was cut by a very real knife. And Deeks had an almost lethal dose of some obscure poison in his system he probably got from that dart he took in the chest. It sure as hell made him unable to fight back, and probably caused him to hallucinate. He wasn’t in his right mind.”
“What about my mind, G?” Sam asked as he walked into the room. “You think I imagined that creepy guy with a giant pumpkin for a head about to crush Deeks’ skull with a mallet? I blew its head off, G and now it’s gone in a puff of smoke.”
“So are you’re saying it was a real hobgoblin?” Callen laughed.
“No, he was too big,” Kensi stated, limping quietly into the room, her eyes on Deeks as he slept.
“You are all seriously creeping me out,” Callen said, shaking his head.
“There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy, Mr. Callen.”
“Shakespeare? Hetty, come on. You’re quoting Shakespeare as a way to explain this?” Callen asked, almost choking on the words.
“No…as a way to explain that there is no explanation,” she replied.
“Now you’re not making any sense,” he said, shaking his head. “None of you are.”
Deeks’ monitors started going off all at once, the beeping sounds unnerving the team as they watched him begin to thrash, his back arching and his breathing becoming ragged as his fists clutched at the bedding around him. The doctor and several nurses rushed into the room, pushing between the agents as they hurried to check his vitals and push anti anxiety meds into his IV. He suddenly jerked awake, his eyes wild and unfocused, his face flush with sweat as he searched their faces.
“Run,” he pleaded. “Get away from me. He’ll hurt you again.”
“We’re all fine, Deeks,” Callen said, trying to maintain his calm.
“You won’t be if I stay,” Deeks voice sounding strangled and odd. “He hates me and now he hates you because you tried to stop him.”
“What do you mean, if you stay?” Kensi asked, taking his hand in hers.
“I have to leave so you’ll be safe,” he said, his words slurring as the medicine began to take effect. “He only left because it was after midnight.”
“That’s the drugs talking Deeks,” Callen said, trying to reason with him.
“I laughed at him once. I hurt him.” he mumbled, his eyelids drooping closed, his confession coming out slowly as his head sank heavily into the pillow. “Please leave them alone…daddy…I’m sorry.”
His apology sounded desperate and childlike and Kensi gripped his hand tighter and Sam put a comforting hand on his knee, worry plain on his face. Hetty was gently patting his shoulder as Callen backed away from the bed, his eyes staring up at a point on the ceiling.
“Get the fuck out,” he suddenly yelled, causing all of them to jump and turn to look at him.
Callen was breathing hard, his face rigid, but it was his eyes that scared his partner. They were wide with fear and something he’d never seen in them before. His eyes were fixed as he stared up at the ceiling, almost unseeing in their intensity. The heavy door to Deeks’ room suddenly slammed shut and Callen stumbled back against the wall, Sam reaching for him as he slid to the floor.
“What the hell just happened, G?” Sam asked as he knelt down in front of him.
“I saw him Sam,” Callen rubbed his trembling hands over his face. “I don’t know why, but I saw him.”
“Deeks’ dad, I think. His ghost. It was so dark and just hovering over the bed,” he whispered. “I was the only one who didn’t believe all this hocus pocus stuff. So why me?”
“You’re scarin’ me G,” Sam said as he helped him up.
“He’s not safe,” Callen said as he pushed Sam away and went to Deeks. “We can’t let him leave Hetty. He’ll be vulnerable if he leaves.”
“I don’t think he wants to leave, Mr. Callen,” she replied as they gathered protectively around his bedside. “He has friends here.”
“And next time we’ll know what we’re dealing with,” Callen said.
“Will we, Mr. Callen?”
Happy Halloween to one and all…Trick or Treat…you decide…but be careful…it’s scary dark out there.