Alan couldn’t sleep. It was unbearably hot and the air pressed against his temples. He threw off the covers and glared up at his ceiling through the dark. Odd shadows played about his room, but he ignored them. It was probably just the moon reflecting off the water.
He swung his legs over the edge of the bed and kicked away the waiting slippers. Alan covered a yawn and stood up. He waited for any sort of sound to escape the other parts of the island. There were no warning klaxons, no frantic speech, nothing. For all the six months he’d been allowed on missions, he hated the silence.
Alan yawned again. He was bored. And now even sleep couldn’t steal that away from him.
“Hey, you!” a voice cried suddenly.
Alan jumped, spinning about to the origin of the voice. He saw his mirror, gleaming innocently in the reflect moonlight from the ocean. Alan laughed nervously. He really needed sleep. If his father suspected that he was even the slightest bit tired, he’d be stuck in his bedroom while his brothers saved the world.
“Get some winks, Tracy,” Alan muttered to himself and turned away from the mirror.
Again, he heard someone calling from the mirror. Alan sighed and looked back at it again. This time, he saw a person looking back at him through the mirror. It was definitely not himself.
Alan fell over backwards and slammed his back onto the hard floor. He tried to convince himself he was imagining things, but once he peeked back into the mirror, the stranger was still there. In a moment of hilarity, Alan decided he was dreaming. If he was sleeping, then, he’d stay dreaming thank you very much.
Instead of his reflection, there was a puppet. Alan grinned lopsidedly at it. It had curly blonde locks and glassy blue irises. He might have continued grinning with good humour, had the puppet not fixed him with a glare.
“I hate dreams,” the puppet complained. “Hell, this might be worse than that time I was left behind on the island.”
Alan glared right back at it. “It’s not as if you have a right to whine. You’re messing up my dream.”
Alan laughed. This was ridiculous. He was talking to a puppet in a mirror. Still, if it meant he was asleep...
“When I get through with you...” the puppet threatened, “even International Rescue won’t be able to crawl up that cavity to retrieve your head.”
Alan raised his eyebrows. “Oh, I think my brothers could handle that pretty well.”
The puppet frowned. “What did you say your name was?”
“I didn’t,” Alan retorted. “But it’s Alan.”
“What a coincidence. I’m an Alan, too.”
Alan decided that the puppet was making some sense now. He smiled knowingly. “Oh I get it. My subconscious mind is trying to tell me something. I’m wooden in my approach to people? Is that how you interpret dreams?”
“Am I being woodenly rude?” asked the other Alan scathingly.
“Well you are a puppet.”
“If I was a puppet, I’m sure I would know by now. Have you been watching those damn theatre documentaries?”
“Hell, no,” real Alan exclaimed. “You are a puppet. Seriously. Alright, if you are my subconscious prove it.”
“I’m not your subconscious, kid.”
“Don’t call me kid.” Alan rolled his eyes. “Dad gave me the IR wings. He finally accepted I wasn’t just a kid, so drop it already. I’m preparing to take control of Thunderbird 3 for crying out loud. Can I have another dream now?”
The puppet gave him a shrewd, calculating look. At last, it spluttered, “You’re with International Rescue?”
“It’s what I said, isn’t it?”
“And your name is Alan?”
“Then you must be my subconscious.”
“And what makes you say that, puppet?” Alan snapped.
The puppet explained, “I’m Alan Tracy, youngest son of Jeff Tracy. I take control of Thunderbird 3 for space missions in International Rescue and when Scott’s running the joint, Thunderbird 1.”
“Uh...” Alan found it was his turn to splutter. “That’s me, except for the TB1 part. And I’m sure I’d know if I was somebody’s subconscious mind.”
“You’re kidding, right.”
“Maybe I’m talking to myself in the future?” Alan suggested. “You do seem older than me...even though you’re a puppet.”
“Hang a tick,” the puppet told him and disappeared.
Alan waited, amazed at how slow time passed in a dream. Or maybe it wasn’t a dream, he reflected. He could hear vague snoring from Gordon’s room down the corridor. The puppet returned, holding a gaudy blue outfit in his hands, complete with a cute little blue hat.
Alan snorted with laughter. “And what is that?”
“I assumed you’d recognise it,” the puppet answered measurably. “The Thunderbird uniform.”
“Um...no. That looks like a silly costume from over fifty years ago. Virgil keeps us all pretty much informed about past musicals and such.”
“Hmpf. Show me yours then.”
Alan complied, pulling out the silvery uniform. He held it up in front of the mirror. The puppet’s bland eyes still managed to show horror.
“You wear THAT!” exclaimed the puppet, then fell in gales of laughter. “That’s like some old science fiction costume.”
Alan knew that half an hour ago he’d be offended. But now...he simply shrugged, “Maybe Dad changes them or something.”
“Eh, I doubt it,” the puppet Alan snorted. “He’s so conservative he threw a fit when he found me’n TinTin...ahem. You’re a kid. You shouldn’t hear stuff like that.”
“What about you and TinTin?” Alan asked, intrigued.
“You’d better get back to sleep,” the puppet suggested wryly. “I sure as hell need some. Even if I am a puppet.”
It winked and disappeared.
The next morning, Alan was distracted from devouring his breakfast with the speed he usually did. He stared at his father for a while, then said, “Dad, where’d you really get the idea for International Rescue from?”
“Well,” Jeff shifted uncomfortably, “there was this great TV show...”