The Swiss chalet was large and comfortable, obviously a family home. A series of framed photographs stood on the Grand piano, showing the various members of the family. Starting with a wedding group the collection had grown to encompass the new members as they had been born and later, started school. There was even one, taken only a few weeks ago, showing the whole group skiing in the nearby Alps.
Now, save for the lone figure watching the News Programme, it was empty. None of the items made an impression on the figure until the World President appeared on the screen. The figure concentrated hard as the President started to speak.
“My Fellow People of Earth, I have decided that, on account of their continued resistance to my orders and the attempts on my life made by two of its members, the Spectrum Organisation is to be considered a subversive organisation and all equipment is to be impounded immediately. In addition, all Spectrum personnel are to surrender to the security services immediately. Failure to do so will result in their immediate arrest.”
The figure sank back and relaxed. Things were working out just fine.
The Programme Controller at the television station allowed herself a small moment of displeasure. It had been a good broadcast but that new vision mixer hadn’t been quick enough cutting away from the picture of the President. The audience out there might have seen him sag as he’d finished his speech. Then again, the old boy didn’t look all that well anyway. He looked as if he was under strain.
She shrugged. She’d probably find it a strain doing his job.
On Cloudbase, the News broadcast had been watched in horrified silence. Lieutenant Green’s normal smile had vanished, to be replaced by a worried frown. No-one said a word. With no one to defend them, the peoples of Earth were doomed. The Mysterons would win. All this because a politician had changed his mind. Or, as Captain Scarlet surmised, was persuaded to change it. Something started to niggle at the back of his mind. Something he’d just seen had started an alarm bell ringing somewhere in his subconscious.
“Lieutenant Green,” he said slowly, “Do we have recordings of all the news broadcasts over the last twenty-four hours?”
“Yes Captain Scarlet,” Green replied. “They are recorded as a matter of course,”
“Play them back.” ordered Scarlet.
“All of them?” Green asked in disbelief.
“All of them.” Scarlet confirmed.
“What are you looking for?” asked Captain Grey.
“I don’t know for certain,” admitted Scarlet, “But there’s something in one of
these broadcasts that feels wrong somehow and I want to know what it is. Whilst Captain Grey and I are reviewing the tapes, try and contact Colonel White to advise him of the situation.”
“S. I. G.” replied Green and pressed a switch.
Scarlet and Grey started to watch the video screens.
“He’s WHAT?” thundered Colonel White.
“That’s right sir,” Green’s voice sounded apologetic over the radio. “The World President has just announced that all Spectrum personnel are to surrender to the Security forces immediately.”
“Thank you, Lieutenant.” White shut off the call. “First we cost too much, now we’re subversive.” he muttered, lapsing into thought.
“Geneva ten minutes away, Colonel.”
“Thank you, Captain,” replied White.
At that moment, the radio crackled as a channel was opened.
“Spectrum Jet,” said the voice, “This is Flight Seven Three. You are under
arrest. You are to land at Geneva airport. Any deviation in flight path will result in your being shot down. Over.”
The Two Officers looked out of the cabin windows. On each side they could see World Army Viper aircraft, upon which the Angel aircraft had been based. They had no alternative. “Flight Seven Three,” Blue responded. “Will follow you to Geneva. Out.”
“Try and contact Cloudbase, Captain,” ordered White.
“S. I. G.” replied Blue, reaching for the radio switch. The pilot of the lead Viper was obviously monitoring their radio, for as soon as Blue had opened the channel, his voice came back over the radio. “Flight Seven Three to Spectrum Jet, You are to make no unauthorised radio calls. Failure to comply will result in your immediate destruction.”
Colonel White had had enough. “This is Colonel White, Commander-in-Chief of Spectrum. By whose authority are these orders?” he demanded.
“The World President’s,” came the apologetic reply.
A new voice came over the loudspeaker, “This is Geneva Control to Flight Seven Three and Spectrum Jet. You are clear to land on Runway Two-Seven.
Captain Blue had no choice.“Roger, Geneva Control,” he acknowledged.
The Passenger Jet banked onto Final Approach. The sun was just rising over the hills. It would be another fine day. Colonel White was in no mood for sunrises.
Captain Scarlet yawned, stretched and looked at his watch. Six a. m. He and Captain Grey had been working half the night. The first part had been easy, editing out the other news items of no interest such as the Trans-Alpine tunnel report. That just left them with two hours ‘ worth of Political news.
“Just what are we looking for?” Captain Grey had asked as they were starting.
“Something, anything that seems out of place.” replied Scarlet. So they had watched the video over and over again, forwards and backwards until they both felt that they could recite every word that the politicians had uttered that day. “Yesterday, now.” thought Scarlet grimly.
“Come on,” he said to Grey, “Let’s go and grab some coffee.”
“Good idea. I could do with a break,” agreed Grey.
As they walked down the corridor, Grey said cheerfully, “I don’t know what sort of people become politicians, but they all seem to say the same sort of thing. Take the World President for example. I always thought that he was a nice guy, but he seems to have changed his whole attitude in the past few weeks. He’s even been going on about Spectrum the same way that Senator Grayson does. It’s almost as if they have the same speech writer.”
The alarm inside Scarlet’s head ringing again. Faint though it was, it was clear. He now knew that he’d have to concentrate on the President.
“I’m going to have another look at the Presidential broadcast,” he told Grey.
“But what’s the point?” protested Grey, “We’ve both watched them until we can recite every word verbatim.”
“I know,” agreed Scarlet. “We’ve been obsessed with what’s being said. I think we should be checking on what isn’t.” He turned on his heel and started back down the corridor. Sighing to himself, Grey followed him.
“This is ridiculous, Colonel,” fumed Captain Blue. “These guys are treating us like common criminals.”
“Unfortunately, Captain that’s just what we are, as far as they’re concerned,” replied White calmly.
As soon as the Passenger Jet had landed and rolled to a halt, it had been surrounded by heavily armed security guards. On stepping from the aircraft, the two officers had been arrested, their equipment seized and were now locked, in the absence of cells, in a small rest room in the Control Tower of the airport.
Colonel White had immediately demanded to see the World President.
The Guard Commander seemed rather uncomfortable at having to arrest Spectrum officers. In fact, for a few moments, he had looked as if he was about to say something, but then thought better of it. He had promised to see what he could do. That had been two hours ago. Since then, they’d heard nothing.
“If only we could get to see the World President,” began Captain Blue. He was interrupted by the sound of the door being unlocked. White stood to welcome the visitor. The door opened and a guard entered, followed by a small, bespectacled man, carrying an attache case. The guard saluted and left the room. They heard the door being locked.
“Good morning, gentlemen. My name’s Johanssen. I shall be your defence counsel. Now, I have already put in a plea of not guilty for you both, but I shall need to hear your side of the matter in order to proceed further.”
Captain Blue was the first to break the stunned silence. “Defence Counsel? You mean we’re on trial?”
“Quite so, Captain. A full Court Martial,” replied Johanssen. “Now, as I was saying -”
White interrupted him. “Mr Johanssen, what exactly are we charged with?”
Johanssen looked uncomfortable. “I’m afraid the charges are very grave indeed, Mutiny, Treason and Armed Insurrection.”
“Armed Insurrection!” thundered White. “What the devil are you talking about, man?”
“I’m afraid so, Colonel” Johanssen replied. “The Prosecution will be pressing for the maximum penalty.”
“Which is?” asked Blue uneasily.
Johanssen shuffled uncomfortably, took off his spectacles and polished them as if to put off the fateful moment. “Let me put it this way, Captain,” he replied sheepishly, “No-one’s ever been found guilty twice!”
“There!” Scarlet’s voice was triumphant.
The two officers had spent another two hours peering intently at the flickering screen in front of them. This time they were concentrating on the Presidential address, running it backwards and forwards. Captain Grey felt his eyes beginning to twist in their sockets with the strain.
Finally, Scarlet had stopped the tape and then started to play it frame-by-frame. He knew he’d almost got it. He’d reached the last few seconds before the end of the broadcast. Just a few more frames, slower and slower until…
“We’ve been over this tape and found nothing,” protested Grey, “Let’s face it, we’ve been barking up the wrong tree for the last few hours.”
“That’s just it,” replied Scarlet. “The evidence has been under our noses all the time. Watch carefully.”
Scarlet rewound the machine a few frames and then pressed ‘play’. “All Spectrum personnel are to surrender to the security services immediately.” the voice on the tape proclaimed. “Failure to do so will result in their immediate -” Scarlet stopped the tape and switched to single-frame.
The two officers watched the President as he mouthed the word arrest in slow motion. Then, the clue Scarlet had been looking for; the President’s head appeared to drop and his eyes to close. Unfortunately, the programme cut back to the studio before they could be certain.
“Well?” asked Scarlet expectantly.
Grey thought for a moment. “He looked very much to me,” he said slowly, “like a puppet that’s just had its strings cut.”
Yes, and did you notice his eyes? They looked glazed.” replied Scarlet. “I think he was in some kind of trance, as if he’d been drugged.” He rose from his seat. “Come on, let’s report this to Colonel White.”
The figure in the Swiss apartment sat down to breakfast and opened his newspaper. He smiled when he saw the headlines:
SPECTRUM COLONEL ARRESTED
He read the report carefully. Yes indeed, things were working better than he could ever have hoped.
“What do you mean, you can’t raise them?” Scarlet snapped angrily at Lieutenant Green.
“That’s right, Captain Scarlet,” he replied unhappily, “I can’t make contact with either Colonel White or Captain Blue.”
“Keep trying,” ordered Scarlet. He had the strangest feeling that something, somewhere was horribly wrong.
Breakfast completed, the figure stood and prepared to go to work in his office in Geneva. From his smart suit and neat attache case, it was clear he was a man of power and influence. He paused for a moment in front of one of the photographs on the piano. Vague, half-forgotten memories stirred gently in his mind. He turned away and picking up his case, left the room.
Later, when he had time, he’d dispose of the photographs. They belonged to a past he no longer cared about. He got into his car and drove away. The annoying thought crossed his mind that he’d have to take the mountain road now that the tunnel was closed. Still, it had been necessary. It cost far too much. At least, that was the reason he’d given for its closure. The real reason, only he knew.
Not far away, another figure was waiting, binoculars trained on his quarry. It was bitterly cold that high in the mountains, but the figure was oblivious to it. Only humans feel the cold. Once, as Conrad Turner, he had been a hero in the struggle for world peace, one of Spectrum’s finest officers. Because of this, he had been placed in charge of the Zero-X mission to investigate mysterious signals that had originated on Mars. Now, because of a tragic error of judgement in destroying the Mysteron city, he had not only brought the wrath of the Mysterons upon the earth, but had also become their agent, a puppet totally subservient to their wishes. His name – Captain Black.
Through the binoculars, Black could see the elderly gentleman kiss his wife and children, climb into his car and then drive away. He knew what he had to do. He put down the binoculars and reached for the long bundle beside him. Unwrapping the bundle revealed a high-powered rifle with telescopic sight. Putting the sight to his eye, he waited.
“I still can’t make contact, Captain,” reported Lieutenant Green unhappily.
“Keep trying,” Scarlet replied grimly. Something was definitely wrong. The Colonel wouldn’t miss a report willingly.
At that moment, a light flashed on Green’s console. He pressed a switch.
“This is Spectrum Control. Go ahead,” he said, trying to hide the worry in his voice.
“This is Spectrum agent Five Three Five. Security forces are hunting me.” The message came as a hurried whisper. “Colonel White and Captain Blue have been arrested and are being held in Geneva airport pending Court Martial.”
“Court Martial!” echoed Scarlet in disbelief.
“Hang on,” whispered the agent, “there’s something going on.” The Spectrum officers heard the microphone being put down. For a few moments they heard only background noise.
“What’s going on?” muttered Grey.
“I don’t know.” said Scarlet. “I suppose we’ll have to -” he was interrupted by the radio.
The agent was now panic stricken and made no attempt to whisper. “Oh my god! They’ve found me. There’s someone with them. It’s the Pres-” There was a burst of automatic fire, a scream then silence. The Spectrum Officers looked at each other aghast. If an agent had lost his life in getting that snippet of information to them, the stakes were high indeed.
The President kicked the body lying on the floor of his office. “Get that out of here,” he ordered.
“Yessir,” replied the new Guard Commander. He turned to his men. “Right, you heard what the President said, get that body shifted.”
Grunting a little at the strain, they dragged the body out, leaving the President and the Commander alone.
The President dismissed him. “Thank you Commander, that will be all.”
“Yessir!” The commander saluted, turned on his heel and marched out.
As he marched away, he reflected on how drawn the old guy was looking these days. Pressure of work, he thought to himself. As the door slid shut, the President’s head sagged onto his chest. His head ached. Things were wrong, he knew, but the more he tried to think, the greater the pain. Things had been fine until… until… but the memory just wouldn’t come. Mind still churning like a boiling liquid, he fell into an exhausted sleep.
The elderly gentleman was enjoying his drive to work despite the slipperiness of the road. “One would have thought,” he pondered, “that by the latter half of the twenty-first century they could have come up with a better way of keeping the mountain roads clear of snow. Ah well.” He contented himself with the fact that, since he would be retiring after this case anyway, he wouldn’t have to worry about it much longer. He drove steadily, enjoying the bright sunshine. Yes, he thought, it had been a great idea to move to the Alpine cottage. Away from the bustle of the City, but only half-an-hour’s drive from it. It was one of the perks of being the chief Judge in Geneva. That he was the oldest and most respected pleased him immensely.
As he motored sedately down the mountainside, his thoughts turned to the case that he’d have to sit today. A Court Martial. It made a nice change from all that fraud and robbery. A shame too, that such eminent officers should be brought before him. “Thus are the mighty fallen,” he mused. Lost in his thoughts, he passed a sign without noticing it. The message it bore was simple:
On the hillside above, Captain Black lined up the cross-hairs precisely, then squeezed gently on the trigger. The motorist had no chance.
With a roar, the charges, laid by Captain Black, exploded and started an avalanche. The driver was shaken from his reverie by the sound. He looked up and saw the avalanche thundering towards him. His foot stabbed at the brake pedal, but to no avail. Wheels locked, the car began to skid uncontrollably. The sound of his scream of terror was lost as the wall of snow and ice, moving faster than an express train, engulfed the car and swept it over the precipice into the gorge below.
Black made his way down the mountainside.
The last flakes of snow settled on the now buried wreckage of the car and driver. As Black watched, twin circles of light spiralled down from the sky and came to rest briefly before disappearing. He looked up to see the judge standing next to him, his re-created car a little way behind. In a lifeless monotone, Black asked, “You know what to do?”
“Yes,” the judge replied lifelessly, “I know what I must do.” With that, he got into his car and drove away.
“Well, gentlemen,” said Johanssen, “I think that’s all I can do for the moment. Obviously, I’ll need to see the relevant Spectrum records in order to check the veracity of your statements.”
“I’m afraid that’s out of the question.” said Colonel White gruffly, “Security, you understand.”
“Colonel White,” Johanssen sighed, “Tomorrow, you and Captain Blue will be fighting for your very lives. I need some evidence for your defence. Judge Kemsley, is a very fair man, but he is going to need convincing that these Mysterons are more than a figment of the imagination.”
“Very well,” White grunted. “What sort of information do you require?”
“Oh I don’t know, really, some case notes perhaps. For example, the assassination of the Director-General of the United Asian Republic.
“But how-” Blue began in an astonished voice.
“-are we going to retrieve the records?” White continued firmly, cutting off Blue’s question with a barely perceptible shake of the head.
“Ah, I’m sure we could fly to Cloudbase,” Johanssen replied with a smile. “Myself and one of you, that is. One of you will have to stay here as a gesture of goodwill.”
“A hostage, in other words,” said Blue sarcastically.
“Please, Captain,” replied Johanssen, “I am trying to help you. But in order to do so, I need your help. One of you must fly to Cloudbase with me.”
“Very well,” White sighed. “I shall remain here. Captain Blue, you will fly Mr Johanssen to Cloudbase. Give him any information he requires.”
“With respect Colonel-” began Blue.
“Captain Blue,” White rebuked him sharply, “We may both be under arrest, but until we are both cashiered, I am still your commanding officer. You will give Mr Johanssen every assistance.”
“S. I. G. sir,” Blue replied sheepishly.
“Would it not be better if you came with me, Colonel? After all, you would know exactly what evidence we could use.”
“No, Mr Johanssen, I have every confidence in Captain Blue. In any case, I would have more hos – GUEST value.”
Johanssen looked as if he was about to argue, but then thought better of it. “Thank you, Colonel,” Johanssen smiled weakly. He went to the door and knocked on it.
White gestured to Blue and they both turned their backs on Johanssen.
“I knew what you were going to say just now,” murmured White. “That’s why I interrupted you.” He nodded towards Johanssen who was deep in conversation with the guard. “Keep an eye on him.”
“S. I. G. Colonel,” replied Blue.
“Coming Captain?” called Johanssen. Without another word, Blue followed him from the room.
White gazed out of the window Far below him, through the thick plate glass window, he could see the tiny figures of Blue and Johanssen as they climbed into the Spectrum Passenger Jet. Moments later, It taxied onto the runway and then took off. Soon it had banked over the mountains surrounding the city and disappeared into a bank of cloud. He turned away from the window, lost in thought. Why was Johanssen so set on going to Cloudbase? How did he know about that particular case? Obviously, there was more to Mr Johanssen than met the eye.
Twenty minutes later he was disturbed by the sound of the door being unlocked. It was pushed open by a security guard carrying a tray which he put down on the table in the centre of the room.
“The condemned man ate a hearty breakfast,” thought Colonel White grimly.
“Oh!” exclaimed the stranger at the door, “I was expecting to see two of you.”
“Who the blazes are you?” White demanded as the stranger closed the door behind him. There was an audible click as the guard locked it.
“Nielsen, Alexander Nielsen,” the stranger replied, putting down his briefcase and offering his hand. “I have been appointed your Defence Counsel, but I was told that there were two of you.”
“What did you say?” White asked him slowly.
“I said that I have been appointed as defence Counsel for you and Captain Blue,” replied Nielsen. “Where is he?”
But White hadn’t heard him, his mind was racing. Vague ideas were coalescing into horrifying certainties even as he thought about them.
“Mr Nielsen, I need you to get me out of here,” White said quickly.
“I’m afraid that’s out of the question, Colonel,” Nielsen replied sympathetically. “I was told that there was no chance of bail being granted in your case.”
“Mr Nielsen,” White said firmly, “I need to contact Cloudbase urgently.”
“I’m sorry Colonel, but I was told that you were to be kept incommunicado until tomorrow.”
White reached over and grabbed Nielsen by the lapels and shook him.
“Listen,” he thundered, “If I don’t warn them in time, everyone on Cloudbase is going to die.”
“Warn them of what?” Nielsen asked still shaking from White’s grip on him.
White told him.
“Strange,” thought Blue to himself as he flew the Jet towards Cloudbase, “The old boy’s a bit quiet. I’d have thought he’d have been chattering like a monkey, this being his first flight in a Spectrum jet. Ah well.” He concentrated on contacting Cloudbase. Beside him, in the co-pilot’s seat, Johanssen sat motionless. No flicker of emotion crossed his face. He just sat there, like a Waxwork. “Captain Blue to Cloudbase, Captain Blue to Cloudbase, Come in Cloudbase.”
With a smile of relief, Lieutenant Green reached over and pressed a switch on the panel in front of him “Go ahead, Captain Blue,” he acknowledged.
“We are en-route to Cloudbase. Please confirm your location.” Blue’s voice came over the loudspeaker
“We are seven hundred miles south of Geneva,” replied Green “Travelling at low-safe cruising.”
“S. I. G.” acknowledged Blue.
“Is the Colonel with you?” asked Captain Scarlet, who was standing just behind Green.
“No, Captain Scarlet,” replied Blue, “he’s still being held to ensure my return. I have our defence lawyer with me. He’s going to help us to collect evidence.”
“S. I. G. Captain Blue.” Scarlet signed off. “I’m going back down to the archives.” he informed Green. Something that Captain Grey had said had struck a chord. The World President was being influenced, that he knew. But by whom?
“Mr President. Mr President.” No reply. The guard began to tap on the door. Perhaps the old boy had fallen asleep in his office.
No reply. Worried, the guard knocked harder. Soon, he was hammering on the door. Inside, the World President was oblivious to it all.
The guard tried the door. Locked. In desperation, he reached for his radio and called for reinforcements. Within minutes they had arrived. “It’s the President,” the guard explained hurriedly. “I think he’s in trouble.”
The Guard Commander unholstered his gun, took careful aim and fired.
Ordering “Cover me!” he kicked the door open and dived through the opening. Rolling on his shoulder as he hit the floor, he came to rest behind a sofa. Cautiously, he peered around the side. What he saw made him leap to his feet. The President, slumped back in his seat, appeared lifeless.
“Get an ambulance!” he yelled to the guards who had started to enter the room. He went to the President and started to look for vital signs.
The Spectrum Passenger Jet touched down gently on the flight deck and with a roar of reverse thrust, came to a halt. Captain Blue shut down the engines and followed by the still silent Johanssen, disembarked.
“We’d better go to the Control room first, Mr Johanssen,” Blue informed him. Still Johanssen said nothing. He still had the blank expression that Blue had noticed before.
“Perhaps he’s ill,” thought Blue to himself. “Perhaps I should get Doctor Fawn to look at him.” Turning away from Johanssen for a moment, he pulled down his cap microphone. “Doctor Fawn, this is Captain Blue. Do you think you could spare a few moments to look at Mr Johanssen. He looks a bit off-colour.”
“Certainly, Captain,” replied the doctor. “Bring him down to Sickbay.”
“S. I. G. Now Mr Johanssen -” Blue’s voice tailed off. Johanssen had vanished.
“Come on man!” Colonel White growled impatiently to himself.
Nielsen had been away for half an hour already. White had managed to convince him of the urgency of his request. But Nielsen had yet to convince the Guards. Unaware of Captain Scarlet’s actions, and their consequences, he consoled himself that Captain Blue would still take another thirty minutes to reach Cloudbase. So long as Nielsen could get a message to Lieutenant Green within the next half hour, they could prevent a disaster.
He was interrupted in his thoughts by the sound of the door being unlocked. Nielsen rushed in, clearly agitated. He reached into his case for an object and calling “Catch!”, threw it across the room to White. To White’s surprise, it was his Spectrum cap. He donned the cap and pulled down the microphone. “This is Colonel White to Cloudbase,” he began.
On Cloudbase, Lieutenant Green’s smile at hearing from the Colonel faded, when he heard his message. Then it was his turn to convey bad news.
“He’s what?” White thundered in disbelief.
“That’s right sir,” Green’s voice sounded apologetic. “Captain Blue landed ten minutes ago and Johanssen’s disappeared.”
White was appalled. “You’ve got to find him at all costs. Use every man we’ve got. White out,” he said signing off, his microphone swinging back up onto the peak of his cap.
“We’re too late!” he told Nielsen.
Lieutenant Green pressed a switch. His voice was relayed throughout Cloudbase. “This is Lieutenant Green to all Spectrum Personnel. I have just received a call from Colonel White. There is reason to believe that there is a Mysteron agent aboard Cloudbase posing as Mr Johanssen, the lawyer. He must be located immediately, repeat immediately!”
“How did you manage to get my cap?” asked Colonel White gratefully.
“When I left here,” began Nielsen, “they took me up to the Guard Commander’s office. He wasn’t there. They told me that he’d been called away to the Presidential Palace on urgent business. In fact, they all
seemed to be running around like headless chickens.”
He noticed the plate that had been left some time before “Oh! You haven’t eaten your breakfast.”
“I’m not hungry,” replied White.
“May I?” asked Nielsen politely. “I missed out on breakfast this morning and it’s a shame to see all this going to waste.”
“Please do,” invited Colonel White, “but it’ll probably be cold.”
“Oh, I don’t mind.” replied Nielsen airily. At that he picked up a sausage and bit into it. “Mmm, It’s good,” he said rather indistinctly.
“Can we return to the story?” White asked patiently. “You mentioned that the guards were in a state of confusion.”
“Oh yes,” said Nielsen finishing his mouthful, “there was a rumour flying around that the President was critically ill in hospital.”
“What’s wrong with him?” asked White.
“No-one seemed to know very much,” replied Nielsen
“But the official line seemed to be pressure of work.”
“Mm, I see,” said White pensively.
“Anyway,” Nielsen continued, picking up another sausage from the plate and biting into it, “they put me in a room where Captain Blue’s and your caps were being kept. It was a simple matter to slip them into my case while no-one was looking. Unfortunately, your guns weren’t there otherwise I’d have brought those too.”
“Well, I’m very grateful for all you’ve done Mr Nielsen, You ran a great risk. I’m sure that if anyone can get us acquitted, it’ll be you -,” his voice tailed off “Mr Nielsen? Mr Nielsen, are you all right?”
But Nielsen could no longer hear him. The half eaten morsel dropped from lifeless fingers. Eyes staring, his body pitched forward and fell to the floor.