DYING IN MY DREAMS
Mist-filtered sunlight streamed through the open lanai doors. Unnatural golden filaments spiced the office, washing the walls and people with fuzzy auras. The room seemed crowded although only a few people -- unidentifiable shadows -- stood in front of his desk. Centered in the bath of light was a dark smudge of a man -- Pele Burdock -- eyes reflecting the name -- glowing red with dancing flames.
Slowly Steve McGarrett moved from the lanai, out of the office, trudging down the main staircase of Iolani Palace. Sunlight beams followed the little party -- McGarrett in the lead, Burdock surrounded by shadows, the flaming eyes sizzling above the droning noise of mumbled conversation from Burdock's bodyguard-shadows. Steve could feel the heat of the flames on his neck as he preceded the troupe out the doors of the Palace. Without turning around he -- sensed --smelled -- the shadows were incinerated shells -- walking corpses -- bodyguards -- Five-0 and HPD officers -- already dead.
When he walked onto the top landing of the concrete steps the world exploded in a flash of light. McGarrett and his shadows collapsed to the ground. Burdock towered over the Five-0 officer, the flaming eyes consuming McGarrett.
Gasping, McGarrett's eyes flew open.
A dream. The terrifyingly real scene was a nightmare. A vivid, horrific night vision. No stranger to nightmares, he felt this one so intensely he rubbed the back of his neck to ward off the imagined heat from the burning flames. Sitting up he sipped cool water from the glass at his bedstead and rubbed nervous fingers through his hair, over his face. Hands shaking, he pressed palms to his eyes to wipe away the images, but the tingle of remnant fear lingered. As nightmares went this one was incredible -- surreal in its images, but palpable in its emotional content.
Peter "Pele" Burdock was being extradited today. Media attention on the infamous criminal seemed as high as the emotions surrounding the leader of a gang of killers. Burdock and three friends were wanted in five states for murderous sprees.
Wanted for murdering a police officer in Honolulu last week, Burdock had gone into hiding somewhere in the islands. On a hot tip from one of Duke Lukela's informants, HPD and Five-0 had cornered Burdock on his home turf on Maui. Only Pele was captured, his three confederates still at large. As soon as the Feds heard of the arrest they started a high profile court battle seeking custody of Burdock for his first killings in Nevada.
After Five-0 held Burdock for two days, the FBI succeeded in obtaining custody. Over McGarrett's strong objections -- he wanted Pele for murdering the HPD officer -- Five-0 was to turn over the vicious killer to Federal agents. McGarrett pulled strings, railed against the governor, the Justice Department, the state's attorney general to no avail. At eleven AM Five-0 would meet authorized Federal agents at Honolulu airport and custody of the killer would be handed over to the FBI.
McGarrett hated to lose anything, but criminals who murdered cops were on the top of his personal hit list. Losing Burdock was a personal aggravation, but it hardly qualified as the stuff composed of night terrors. After washing his face in cold water Steve went to the living room and threw open his lanai doors, gazing out on the dark hulk of Diamond Head. Drawing calm from the cool, misty, morning air, his nerves settled. The searing shadows of nightmare images faded to outlines. Shivering -- with chill or fear -- he slumped into a lanai chair and waited for the sun to rise.
The scrape of his shoe soles on the asphalt scratched along Dan Williams' eardrums in reverberating lacerations of sound. Every step echoed and magnified until his head ached. More than feeling the Trade Winds on his face he could hear the breeze brush against his surprisingly hot skin. From the angle of the orange sun it was morning, but the heat, the color of the sky and everything in sight was all wrong. Everything seemed intensified and hot. Somewhere -- behind, ahead -- all around him -- came the pathetic moan of someone in anguished pain. Louder than the crying was the squeak of high-pitched laughter.
Dan entered the backseat of a dark sedan. In front of him Chin Ho Kelly sat behind the wheel and Duke Lukela in the passenger seat. His fellow detectives were talking in unintelligible words -- slurred sounds. Off to his right an elongated statue of black charcoal disintegrated ash by ash in the wind. The sight froze him with unspeakable terror.
The car shook. Through the windshield an HPD squad car exploded into the air, shattering around him in thousands of sizzling firebombs. Behind him a Five-0 sedan erupted like a volcano.
Where was McGarrett?
Dan's flesh sizzled as the balls of flame torched everything they touched. Next to him hysterical laughter drowned out all other senses. Already gripped with fear, he trembled as he turned, looking into the face of Pele Burdock, held transfixed by the glowing red eyes of the criminal.
From the periphery of his vision he saw camouflage-fatigue dressed men shoot flaming bullets from glowing weapons. Chin, then Duke, disappeared behind a wall of flame. Unable to move, Williams watched Burdock shrink into the corner. Then a faceless man fired a rifle through the window. An inferno ball slammed into his face and everything went white.
Bolting up, Dan Williams wheezed out a cry of horror. Slowly his breathing and heartbeat decreased to a near-normal level. Rubbing his arms and face he tried to scrub away the residual chill of alarm as prevalent as the sweat beading his skin. Moaning, he stopped when the involuntary sound echoed too closely the dreaded nightmare that felt and sounded so devastatingly real.
He wanted to talk to someone -- hear a voice -- an anchor to latch onto. Glancing at the clock, he sighed to read it was not much past four AM. Call Steve at this ridiculous hour? Because of a nightmare? Not a chance.
Stumbling through the living room he opened the glass door to the small lanai and sank into a lounge chair. The wind off the nearby ocean chilled his perspiration-coated skin and he shivered. The shock treatment stabilized his nerves and breathing returned to near normal, but his body still shook from the panic of death.
Minoring in psychology in college, he understood motivations, symbolism and the distorted horror possible in nightmares. Intellectually comprehending mental twists and turns did not help now. This was beyond a normal bad dream, way past subconscious fears of the terrible crimes he had seen, or the subliminal fear of dying. His senses told him he was there; feeling, hearing, and seeing doom around him until it came to stop at his death.
Now shivering from the cool spring wind off the whipping waves below his apartment, he stood at the railing breathing in the clean, wet air. Never superstitious -- how could he be and function as a cop? -- he did rely on instincts. Cop sixth sense was almost a necessity working in Five-0 and Dan had learned to hone valuable instincts by following McGarrett's lead. Some impression deep inside told him this nightmare was more than just anxiety over transporting Burdock to the airport.
Could the dream be a premonition? As a cop he couldn't afford to think fatalistically, only believe that he would live through each day. That optimism -- the reliance on his skill -- had kept him alive for the fifteen years he'd been a cop. Not an easy task, especially as a member of Hawaii Five-0. Every day, however, had to be lived as if it would be his last because of his dangerous occupation. Did a vivid nightmare really make any difference? In some dark, macabre pocket of buried subconscious, more real than flaming bullets, he feared -- really feared -- he would die today.
Not yet five in the morning, no pre-dawn glow even tinged the sky around the extinct volcano of Diamond Head. Despite the early hour Steve knew he could not return to sleep. The dream had been too frightening. Why, he analyzed? What made it so real? The multi-senses of sound touch and smell? The distorted reflection of an event about to happen?
A morning breeze swept disheveled hair across his forehead and he shivered. Steve never believed in Fate, Destiny or premonitions, although he believed in his instincts. Perhaps his sixth sense was telling him that there was danger today transporting Burdock. That didn't explain the charge of fear tingling his spine as he tried, and failed, to push away the horrifying memories of his blazing death.
Was he afraid to die?
Certainly he feared the repugnant murder methods of Pele Burdock. Burning his victims -- that was how the insane criminal came by his nickname from the goddess of volcanoes.
Was he afraid to die?
McGarrett had faced death many times. Some felt his incredible instincts bordered on the level of extra sensory perception. Could this be a premonition of his death?
Was he afraid to die?
Without waiting to rationalize his impulsive actions, Dan returned to the warmth of his apartment and sat down at the kitchen bar, quickly dialing a phone number. A sigh of relief escaped his suspended breath when he heard a bright, familiar voice say hello.
"Morning, Aunt Clara."
"Danny? Oh, my, what a wonderful surprise. How nice of you to call. Isn't it early there?"
Just her chipper tone made him grin, easily imagining her smiling face and quirky mannerisms. "I'm up early, Aunt Clara. Have a lot going on today. I just realized we haven't talked in a while and . . . " his excuses, his voice, faltered. "I might not get back to you too soon. So I wanted to call and say hi." His voice caught at the knot in his throat. "You know things around here. Don't know when I'll get to call next."
"Well, Danny, it's very sweet of you to call, but why don't you let me call you back Sunday night. Then it will be on my dime. Is that all right? I was just on my way out for a breakfast a meeting."
Dan cleared his throat to hide the gruff disappointment. "Yeah, sure. You sound busy, Aunt Clara."
"I am, dear. Just rushing out the door to meet with the summer stock committee. They're trying to postpone Midsummer Night's Dream because our lead is ill. I'm fighting for another actor. Life must go on, you know."
"Yes, you're right. Well, I'll let you go, then."
"Fine, dear. I'll call you Sunday. Aloha."
"Aloha, Aunt Clara."
Steve was sure the dream came from a natural abhorrence of Pele's torching of the HPD officer and six other victims across the states. Naturally his subconscious feared such a death from the lurking danger of Burdock's three cohorts. That explained the dream. Why was the vision so extraordinarily detailed? He had no idea. Something he could ponder when he jogged off the trailing wisps of dread yet clinging to his nerves.
Crossing to the phone he picked it up, leaning in the lanai doorway as he dialed a number. He would call his second-in-command and discuss the possibilities of Burdock's gang causing trouble. After all, if he couldn't sleep, no reason to let Danno get a full night's rest. Never in a million years would he admit that he needed to hear a reassuring human voice -- needed to connect with some solid comfort and known reality -- to completely sweep away the tendrils of dreamy anxiety.
Receiving a busy signal he looked across the rooftops of the Waikiki skyscrapers, past the dark tip of Diamond Head to Williams' sea front condo. Glancing at the clock, he hung up and redialed, staring at the point where the land met the sea only a few blocks away, wondering whom in the world Dan Williams could be talking to at four-forty-eight in the morning.
By ten after five AM McGarrett was dressed in jogging clothes and stretching his muscles. Finishing the deep knee bends he picked up the phone and dialed again. Still busy. Now his concern about Williams was mounting to serious worry. Who was Danno talking to at this hour? Was the phone off the hook? His imagination leaped to all kinds of possible, mostly violent, scenarios. Should he take the car for the few-minutes drive over to Danno's beachfront apartment? Steve hesitated to appear foolish with impulsive concern, yet remained anxious about the mystery.
Frustration deciding for him, he slammed down the phone and left. He would jog to Williams' place, thus relieving his tension and his concerns simultaneously. By the time McGarrett stalked along the outside walkway to Williams' door -- the last apartment on the floor -- he felt invigorated by the run but more anxious than ever about his friend. Above the choppy blue ocean the sky washed gray with reflected sunlight, white frothy clouds billowing at the horizon.
Knocking on the door with more force than he intended, the knuckles on wood seemed loud in the early hour. With each passing moment of silence his concern rapidly advanced toward desperation.
"Danno!" He pounded with his fist. "Danno!"
One more minute and he would break the lock. Stepping to the end of the walkway he looked down to the ocean nine floors below. There, in the rocky surf, a lone person swam in the churning waves. From the distance and dim, heavily overcast reflected gray sunlight, it was hard to tell who it might be, but McGarrett was certain it was his friend. Moments later he was down on the beach waving to Williams.
The wet sea spray carried on the wind was cool. The water was also cool; water temperatures low for Hawaiian spring. McGarrett wondered what madness brought his friend out on such a dull morning. When Danno headed toward shore McGarrett motioned him over. Picking up the towel on a nearby rock, he met his friend coming out of the surf.
"Steve, what are you doing here?"
"Jogging. What are you doing out so early?"
Both laughed at the inane dialog and Williams quickly toweled off as they walked back to his apartment. After the initial greeting they said little. McGarrett prepared coffee and toast while Dan changed.
"So, something up?" Dan sat down at the bar counter and sipped his coffee, grimacing at the strong mixture. A sure sign McGarrett was in an aggressive attack-the-morning mood. That could explain his early morning arrival on the beach. "Jogging this early is extreme even for you."
McGarrett shrugged, not meeting his friend's eyes. "Couldn't sleep."
Dan played with the toast, breaking it into little pieces, pushing it around on his place. "You're worried about his gang, aren't you?"
"They're something to keep in mind. From what we can tell they didn't accompany him to Hawaii. How loyal are they? Will they bother to try something as stupid as a break out? On an island?"
Dan shook his head, feeling better with the logical conversation. Leave it to Steve to bring things out in the open -- cold facts into the bright light of reason. He felt foolish for letting a dream spook him so badly. "More likely they'll make a try on the mainland. If they try anything at all."
McGarrett agreed, yet still pondered the possibilities. Finishing a second cup of coffee he came to a conclusion. "Well, I'll see you at the office in a few hours. We'll go over final arrangements then. Thanks for the coffee, Danno."
"Sure." He walked with his friend to the door. Almost stopping Steve, he hesitated too long and the moment of confession/inquiry was gone. "Anytime." Why had Steve really come out here so early, breaking his usual jogging pattern? Because he couldn't sleep? Plagued by a frightening nightmares, just as Dan had been? Unlikely. Dan couldn't bring himself to ask and risk looking foolish in front of his boss. "I'll see you at eight."
McGarrett arrived at the office by seven thirty. Obsessively he studied the plan for the exchange, going over every detail of the route, the cars, the officers, the airport. Should he change the plan and go with more men? More cars? Being the boss meant he wouldn't have to explain his quirk of modification, but his men -- Danno -- would ask, would know something was suspicious. Could he tell them it was all based on a night terror? Not in this lifetime. His pride was too absolute to give in to anything that embarrassing.
When the outer office door slammed Steve glanced at his clock. Seven forty-one. Danno was in early, too. Nervous about the day? Why else was he blowing off steam with an early morning swim? In a way it seemed a relief that Danno was keyed up about the exchange also, but on the other hand, both of them nervous about a case meant they should give their concerns serious attention.
"I hope you don't expect overtime for coming in early." Steve meant it as a joke, but the delivery was flattened by his preoccupation. Dan's usual light response never came, sober features conveying solemn thoughts. Pushing back from the desk, McGarrett gave his colleague his full attention. "Burdock's really got you worried." For the first time he noted Williams seemed tired, distracted, as if he hadn't slept well. "Anything specific?"
For a moment Danno's blue eyes were distant, then they focused on McGarrett. "Not really. I guess his gang, but it makes no sense that they'd try a rescue here."
"True." Steve glanced over the itinerary again. "I'm thinking about changing the plan for Burdock's transport to the airport."
Williams sighed -- in relief? "Really? Like what?"
Good question, Steve thought, mentally blank. The original plan was for Burdock to be secretly transported to the Palace holding facilities early this morning. At ten-thirty they would move him from the basement, via a two-car caravan, to the airport. There McGarrett, Williams and the HPD officers would meet FBI agents with a private jet. Burdock was too dangerous to risk transporting on a commercial flight.
McGarrett had several options, but nothing formulated. And how could he make decisions based on a nightmare? Bad dreams would not be allowed to dictate his life! Pele's flaming eyes were the stuff of too much spicy Chinese food too late last evening, not omens of the future.
His responsibility was the safety of his men and the people of Hawaii. Didn't he need to be there, overseeing the whole operation to make it work? No, he didn't. Danno could easily handle the operation and had done so before with dangerous criminals. Sending Danno in his place would change his dream and he would avoid direct hazards. Placing Williams in the line of fire. No, he couldn't send his men out to face something he feared.
"Steve? What did you want to change?"
"I -- uh -- haven't decided yet."
Williams strove for casual, but his voice seemed tight. "How about leaving Burdock at HPD until the last minute?"
HPD, not the Palace. More direct line to the freeway, close to the airport, and not in his dream. "That's good, Danno." Nodding, the new plan quickly formed in his mind. "We'll take three cars. You and Burdock in the middle, an HPD squad car in the lead and I'll be behind you in my car." Williams paled. "Danno?"
"Do you think that's a good idea?"
"You have some objections, obviously."
Slowly, Williams shook his head, denying what was evident in his stiff demeanor. "I -- well -- maybe you should -- what about three HPD marked cars? You know, a show of strength."
McGarrett stared at his associate, his tone uncompromising. "Want to tell me what's really wrong?"
The sour expression on the younger man's face indicated he did not want to do anything of the sort. "Don't laugh, but I think I'm paranoid about this case."
"That's not in the least bit funny. I'm getting some bad vibes about this myself."
Williams' eyebrows shot up. "You are? Me, too." He sat on the edge of the desk. "What do you want to do about it?"
McGarrett leaned back in his swivel chair. "We come up with a plan that gets Burdock to the airport with the least amount of danger to police or civilians."
Easier said than done, he knew. How could they interpret murderous criminals? How desperate were Burdock's friends? Instead of trying to second-guess the bad guys, Steve chose to work with an eye to protecting the good guys. Commandos could strike at any place or time, but a well-prepared police presence should be sufficient to ward off any attack. His people were good -- better than Burkock's. He was staking their lives on that. He refused to lose any of his friends for the likes of this scum.
Coordinating with HPD, McGarrett decided to pick-up Burdock from the downtown jail and proceed directly to the airport. A Five-0 car would lead -- that would be McGarrett -- choosing the route as they traveled. A squad car would follow then a Five-0 sedan in the middle (with Burdock), with patrolmen and Williams. Followed by a patrol car, then a Five-0 vehicle with Lukela and Chin Ho -- four cars comprising the caravan. Such a plan put Williams more directly in the line of fire, which made Steve hesitate with the new option. Who else would he trust to stick with Burdock? If there was a hit, Danno might be the most protected of the bunch since he would be with Burdock.
No matter what it seemed a no win situation. The new plan at least offered the most protection with the most officers. And the least resemblance to his dream. Not that he was worried about the dream. Danno, as usual, had voiced his concerns, bringing the suspicions and fears out of the shadows and into the open light of reason. Talking things through, he no longer feared those spectral possibilities -- they lived only in his deepest, darkest nightmares, not in the bright warmth of the Hawaiian sun.
Checking with the FBI office in LA, they learned the agents had already departed LAX and would arrive approximately ten-thirty-five, FAA confirming the ETA. When Chin and Duke arrived McGarrett explained the change in plans and gave new assignments. The Five-0 detectives would be at HPD before ten to finalize the operations. Everyone agreed it was a sound and effective strategy.
As the others discussed details, Williams stood back and observed the process with strange detachment. The scenario was similar, but different from his dream. Did it mean anything? Contemplating the dream and his still reactionary emotions Dan knew the details of the plot meant little. Deep in his heart the fear had returned. He would die today.
The officers separated to their cubicles to complete work before they left. Williams made phone calls, checked up on odds and ends from other cases, and cleaned his desk. Setting things in order. With a sense of closure he felt prepared for whatever dangers he faced, save a few very important matters.
There was no way to say proper good-byes to his friends, but perhaps he could do his best to warn them of the impending peril. If only there was a way to get McGarrett out of the way.
For the remainder of the morning he felt disassociated with his duties and those around him. Reality failed to completely overshadow the memories and fears of the intense nightmare. Fighting against the fatalistic mind-set, he yet felt death hovering around him.
Spread out across Steve's desk were FBI and police files from the crimes committed by Burdock and his gang. Immolation was the favored mode of death to the unfortunate victims, but automatic weapons and grenades were also used for the killings. Because of his vivid nightmare, McGarrett felt an added ability to of foresight into his enemies' minds. The more he read the more convinced he was that the gang would make a flamboyant attempt at a rescue while here in Hawaii. The airport would seem the easiest choice for an attack. Plenty of places for concealment and immediate escape.
The airport. The obvious place for an ambush. What if Five-0 got there first?
Rushing out to the main office, Steve rapped his knuckles on the glass of Williams' cubicle. Calling the other detectives to join him, he sat on the corner of Dan's desk and outlined his new plan. It was simple and his instincts told him he was on target. As he revealed the plan to his officers they approved, agreeing it was so obvious they couldn't believe they didn't think of it before. Chin and Lukela left to make preparations. Only a silent Williams remained with him -- an abnormally quiescent second-in-command.
"Danno, what do you think?"
Leaning back in his chair, Williams studied the floor. "I think you're right. They'll be at the airport. And this is the best way to stop them."
With a rueful smirk Dan looked at him. "It's dangerous for you. What if you're wrong and they hit you on the way to the airport?"
McGarrett's voice reflected his grim thoughts. "Then I'll have blown it big time. But I'm sure I'm right. And you're the one I'm counting on to watch my back."
Hovering above the streets of Honolulu, Williams marveled at how this new wrinkle changed his entire perspective. Creating a new plan -- removing everything from the dream sequences -- McGarrett, typically, altered the whole game board. As the helicopter swung around to face the front of the HPD building, Williams scanned the streets through binoculars.
Truthfully, he knew the new plan was not the complete reason for the vanquishing of his dread. McGarrett, again typically, had placed himself squarely in danger. That realization focused Williams' horror onto his friend's life instead of his own. It enhanced his level or alertness and performance. No detail went unnoticed.
So far the finalized scheme ran smoothly. An HPD decoy team left the building moments before, trailed by two squad cars, and encountering no problems. Just now McGarrett's sedan pulled out from the underground garage of the police building with Burdock and two officers in the car. The helicopter followed, Dan checking the area carefully, pleased at no signs of danger.
Once McGarrett hit the freeway, Williams had the helicopter fly ahead to the west side of the airport where the private jet and FBI waited. Already in hiding were Chin, Duke and several HPD marksmen. Skimming the area, things looked clear and Dan directed the pilot to return and follow McGarrett on the highway. The chopper dogged the Mercury until it exited at the airport off ramp. No signs of anyone following the sedan.
Circling around to an empty tarmac, Dan scanned the area again. An airport maintenance truck drove around the far side of a hanger and barreled straight toward the FBI jet. Grabbing the M16 at his feet, Williams told the pilot to block the truck. Aiming at the front of the truck, Dan loosed several bullets into the windshield, then the front tires. From his periphery vision he saw Chin and Duke's teams converging on the errant vehicle. The truck kept coming and the pilot lifted the chopper, banking to the left. Keeping the truck in his sights, Dan was first to pull the trigger when the driver of the truck jumped out and aimed a rifle at them.
The driver flew them down even as pings exploded into the helicopter. The front glass shattered and with a cry the pilot tipped the helicopter down and away. The wounded chopper only partially responded and it plunged to the earth. As the ground flew up to meet him Williams understood that he didn't have to dream about death to find it -- death would come for him without foreshadowing.
McGarrett careened the car around the hangar to see a blur of activity near the private jet. Agents near the jet, Five-0 and HPD officers from hangars and buildings surrounded a damaged truck. Two bodies were still on the asphalt. The HPD helicopter was banking away.
Screeching to a stop, Steve observed the mayhem for a moment before the picture turned disastrous. The helicopter dropped, falling flat and much too fast for a controlled landing. McGarrett held his breath in the few seconds it took the aircraft to plummet. No! He thought he had everything planned! This was not supposed to happen! It was nothing like the scenario in his dream -- the plan too different for any of the dangers or deaths to touch him or his men. In a split second he knew how tragically wrong he had been and that death could come whether he dreamed beforehand or not.
Ordering the officers to get Burdock away, McGarrett gunned the engine and raced across the runway and dirt separating him from the crashed copter. Barely waiting for the car to stop it's skid in the dirt, McGarrett leaped out and ran to the craft. The pilot and Williams stumbled through the dust and McGarrett grabbed onto his friend's arm, helping him clear of the danger zone.
"Danno, you all right?"
"Yeah. Okay." Gasping for breath, he fell to his knees in the dirt. "Not the ending -- I was expecting -- thankfully."
The comment startled McGarrett. So nearly it had been the ending he had feared. "What?"
"Nevermind. I'm just glad it's over."
"Like a bad dream."
Williams stared up at his boss, nodding slowly. "Yeah, like a bad dream. Now it's over."