Rain is pouring down on the buildings of the M*A*S*H* 4077. Most of its denizens are vast asleep after another long, boring day without casualties and everything is quiet. Wait, not everything is quiet. A dark figure emerges from the shadows near the jeeps, rain cascading down his oilskin as he slowly makes his way towards a specific olive-green tent. Its careful sidling gait gets interrupted when Corporal Klinger ambles past, clutching a rifle in both hands and a handbag swinging from his left wrist. The skulking figure waits impatiently as Klinger totters away on high heels, shawl flapping wetly in the wind. When the squelching sound of Klinger's shoes in the mud dies away, the figure advances toward his intended destination.
A soft light shines from within the tent, despite the late hour. The figure sneaks up to the door and puts his ear to the wooden surface, trying to hear what's going on inside. A sly grin spreads over his face when he hears a woman humming to herself, she is blissfully unaware of what's going to happen next.
He counts slowly to three for maximum dramatic effect, then yanks the door open at the same time lightning snakes through the sky. The result is magnificent. Major Margaret Houlihan shrieks when her door suddenly flies open and a dark, dripping creature stands in the doorway, illuminated by lightning and accompanied by rolling thunder.
"Guard! Klinger!" She screams hysterically.
"No! Margaret! Wait!" The creature squeaks, hastily closing the door behind him and taking off the cowl that protected his face from the rain.
"Frank?" Margaret asks incredulously, her voice still slightly trembling from fright.
"Margaret darling, I wanted to surprise you." Major Frank Burns steps forward in the light of the single bulb hanging from the ceiling. He giggles nervously under Margaret's stunned gaze. "So... uhm... surprise!" He finishes lamely.
"You... I... surprise me?" Margaret stutters, her brain finally kicking into gear.
"It's just that it was raining and storming so hard, and well, I couldn't stop thinking about you and then one thing led to another..."
"Oh Frank, how dear of you." Margaret smiles and reaches out for Frank's dripping form when, for the second time that night, the door slams open and a gust of wind and rain comes in, followed by a soaked Klinger who has his weapon at the ready.
"I heard you yelling, Major! What's going on? Do you need help?" He points his gun at Frank.
Margaret laughs sheepishly and waves Klinger away,
"There's nothing going on Corporal. I just got startled by the thunder, is all."
"That's all eh?" Klinger eyes Frank warily, "Then what's he doing here?" Then his face brightens and he grins slyly at the couple.
"I get it, I get it." he says, "You two were meeting up secretly for a romantic randai foot, weren't you?"
"Absolutely not!" Margaret replies brusquely, but Frank's brow furrows.
"A randy what?"
"He means a 'rendez vous' Frank," Margaret snaps, "And we were not. Major Burns simply rushed to my aid when he heard my scream."
"Hm, is that so? Rushing, you say? Very well then, I'll continue my round." He salutes both Majors and steps back outside through the door.
"Tell me though, Major," Klinger asks, before closing the door, "How did you rush so fast? Your tent is over on the other end of the compound and I was just around the corner. I never did see you come past me."
Frank's face turns scarlet with rage.
"That's none of your beeswax, mister!" He sneers, "And get out of that dress! You're a disgrace!"
"Out of my dress? You perv!" Klinger replies with disdain, slinging his shawl back over his shoulder.
"What did you call me?"
"Sorry sir. You perv, sir!" Klinger salutes again and marches off, hips swaying and head held high.
"I... he... did you hear that Margaret?" Frank demands, stuttering in anger.
"I heard, but just let it go dear. He's gone and we're together now, that's all that matters." Margaret coos, closing her mistreated door. "Take off your oilskin Frank, you're dripping on my floor."
"Oh!" Frank giggles, "Sorry." He unbuttons the oilskin and takes it off, hanging it over a chair before pulling Margaret close in a embrace.
"Oh Margaret, I missed you so!"
"But Frank, we saw it each other this afternoon in the mess tent!"
"I know darling, but seeing isn't the same as holding! Oh, to hold your soft, warm body like this. To smell your silky smooth hair. It smells like strawberries, you know."
"Oh Margaret!" He passionately starts kissing Margaret's face all over, making little smooching noises as he proceeds. When a thought strikes him he stops, a puzzled look on his face.
"Why were you so startled anyway?" He asks, peering down on Margaret, "It's so very not you to be frightened so easily."
"Haven't you heard?" Margaret's eyes widen, "They say there's a creature running amok on the compound. Several of my nurses woke up with this, this thing hovering near their beds as they sleep. The locals say it's a Dokkaebi, a monster. I've been hearing these tales all day now and I can't get it out of my head, so when you came bursting in..."
"Oh Margaret, you're so silly. Monsters aren't real!" Frank laughs, rubbing Margaret's back comfortingly.
"I know Frank, but I can't help but wonder if there isn't some truth in it all. After all, no less than six nurses came to complain!"
"My snugglebunny, you have nothing to worry about. I shall protect-"
It will never be known what Frank would protect, because at that moment the entire tent came crashing down on them. Margaret's screams are drowned out by Frank's squeals and shrieks as they both fight their way from under the canvas. Several people come rushing towards the noise and they all see a dark and grotesque shadow speed away, chuckling under its breath.
"I'm telling you Trap, it's a monster!" Captain Benjamin Franklin 'Hawkeye' Pierce straightens his hat and casts an approving last glance in the small mirror.
"And I shall find it." He raises his fingers dramatically.
"Find it, hunt it down and then bring it back to camp, where I shall be regarded as a hero by all the lovely nurses!" He booms.
"There are no such things as monsters. And you know it." Captain John 'Trapper' McIntyre opens one eye to look at his colleague and partner-in-crime who is completely dressed in what Hawkeye affectionally calls 'hunting-garb'. It consists of a drab-green army helmet, his red robe with a drab-green shirt donned underneath, a cane, knee high shorts and his army boots.
Hawkeye glares at Trapper, "What I know," he replies, dusting an invisible speck from his robe, "is that I'm bored out of my mind and that I can use the distraction before I go completely out of said mind!"
Trapper yawn and gets up from the cot he had been lying on, "Y'know, when this started I thought it was you dressing up like a monster to scare those poor defenseless nurses," he says conversationally as he grabs a pitcher filled with gin, "but now I'm really curious to find out who this guy is."
The gin is poured into a wine bottle, a standard preparation for any date they might have that evening.
Twirling his cane, Hawkeye turns around, "Hasn't it occurred to you that it might actually be a monster, Trap? We are in Korea! Asia is crawling with monsters!"
The corners of his mouth twitch, "And some of them might not even be humans!" he adds.
A little bottle of red food-colouring is being held up to the light, scrutinized by Trapper before he puts a few drops in the gin-filled winebottle.
"There is no such thing as monsters." Trapper repeats, "Hotlips's tent was sabotaged, not blown over by monster-voodoo. I'm telling you, there's something fishy about all this."
"Fish or not, I'm off for the hunt!" Stepping outside with the cane swung on his shoulder, he cups his free hand around his mouth and hollers, "Tally ho!" before striding away.
"And I'm off for my date." Trapper mumbles to no one in particular, tucking the bottle with gin under his arm and leaving The Swamp with a flourish in his step.
He's about halfway across the compound when he hears women screaming near the post-op. Not before long the source of the screaming come running towards him, two nurses flee away from the building. Their faces are a mask of terror as they clutch onto Trapper."Ladies, ladies. One at a time, please!" Trapper quips, putting his arms around the two nurses.
"Stop it, McIntyre." Nurse Gable slaps him on the arm, "We were just attacked by the Dokkaebi monster!"
"Oh no, not you too." Trapper sighs, letting the girls go, "Monsters do not exist. And if they do, just redirect them to Hawk. He's out hunting them today."
"Be serious!" Gable admonishes him, "We were in post-op, sorting out the supplies for the next few days, when all of a sudden this huge bear-like creature jumps out at us! It was growling and roaring. Gave me a good fright too!" The nurse shudders as she recalls the monster.
"Very well. Show me this horrible monster of yours, sweetheart. I'll protect you."
Cautiously they proceed the post-op building. It's mostly empty, due to the lack of wounded coming in these last few weeks, with the exception of two or three patients that need longer to recuperate. What the building is also clearly devoid of, is a monster.
"Sorry girls, no monsters." Trapper ducks and glances underneath one the bunks, just to be sure.
"That'll be one kiss in the supply room tonight as payment, each. I'll let you two decide which one of you goes first. Be sure to schedule half an hour for each kiss." Ignoring the scoffs, he deftly makes his way towards the exit.
"But... this can't be!" Nurse Kelly calls out, frowning at the supplies and the list in her hand.
"I'm missing two units of penicillin."
Trapper stops, "You're missing penicillin? Are you sure?" he asks, curious.
"Can't be," Gable interjects, "You must've counted it wrong!"
"I didn't count it wrong! I'm positive, I always double check and even wrote it down before the monster came in. Look, I wrote it down there. There are two units missing."
Trapper casts a doubtful, longing gaze on his bottle of gin. Then he sighs and gives up.
"It seems I've got a date to cancel." he grumbles, "and a hunter to find."
"If I'm going to be eaten alive by a monster then I'll hate you forever." A male voice hisses in the dark supply room.
"You won't hate me. You're too foul to eat." Another man hisses back.
"You don't know that, for all you know I'm haute cuisine in monster world."
"Have you ever seen, or smelled, yourself? You are absolutely not a fine dish."
"That's just mean."
"I'm only saying mean things because I love you, Hawke."
"I'm sorry Trapper, you'll have to go without my manly affection. I'm reserved for women only."
The two men are lurking behind a stack of blankets, both dressed in the hunting garb this time. The only difference between them is the colour of the robes, Hawkeye wearing his red robe and Trapper a yellow one.
"I don't know Trapper, I usually only meet women here. Not monsters. Are you sure about this?" Hawkeye whispers.
"I'm positive. We got a new batch of penicillin today, the monster will be here. Trust me."
The silence outside is suddenly pierced by a bloodcurdling scream, followed by footsteps hurrying towards the general location of the scream.
"That'll be our monster." Trapper whispers.
They wait. They wait a bit more.
"I don't think-" Hawkeye starts, but then the door opens for a fraction before quickly closing again. Very light footsteps can be heard hurrying across the wooden floor.
Trapper puts his fingers across his lips and motions for Hawkeye to go and stand near the door, effectively blocking the only exit.
Then he turns on the light with a triumphant "Aha!", bathing the room in the blinding yellow light of the bulb.
Two small children, both no older than five or six years, stand frozen in the middle of the supply room. When they see Trapper walking towards them they turn around and run away, but find their exit obstructed by Hawkeye.
One of the children screams when she sees Hawkeye and sinks down on her knees, covering her eyes with her hands.
"What... what is she doing?" Hawkeye asks bewildered, grabbing the other child by the shoulders and holding on to the wriggling and struggling little boy.
"Beats me," Trapper says, crouching down next to the girl, "Hey, are you okay? We won't harm you."
The little girl shakes her head and cries "Dokkaebi" while pointing at Hawkeye.
"I think she thinks you're the monster, Hawk." Trapper says, barely keeping the laughter out of his voice. The girl doesn't resist when Trapper picks her up and carries her outside. They take the children to Colonel Henry Blake's office.
When they arrive they find Henry, dressed in a robe and his personal fishing hat, in a conversation with what seems to be a genuine monster. It's at least 6,5 feet tall, covered in stubbly black hair and it smells like a bog. But upon closer inspection it turns out to be a very tall man covered in some sort of camouflage net.
When the man sees the children he abruptly stands up and spreads his arms. Trapper puts the girl down and both children run towards the safety of the 'monster's' arms.
Henry nods at the two surgeons, "Hawkeye, Trapper. Meet Mister Johnson. Mister Johnson is our monster. It seems that the 'monster' is just an act to distract us while his two helpers help themselves to our supplies. Klinger caught him and brought him in."
"Yeah Henry, we know." Hawkeye replies, extending his hand to the monster-man. "Hawkeye Pierce, surgeon and part-time monster hunter."
"Johnson, volunteer and part-time monster. How do you do?" The man introduces himself with a wry smile.
"Trapper, John. You're an American, aren't you? How did you end up dressing more fashionable than our Klinger here?" Trapper sits down in one of Henry's chairs.
"I volunteered to help the sisters out in the next village. But a lot of those kids are sick and need medicine. I figured you guys could easily miss a few units, so I had the kids help me out with this little play. I guess it would've been better to just ask, but I couldn't risk it." Johnson shrugs, a mischievous glint in his eyes.
"You distracted us so the kids could go ahead and steal our supplies." Hawkeye says, laughing, "That's genius!"
"Genius? Pierce, he stole supplies!" Henry objects.
"Never much!" Johson hastily says, "Just one or two at a time."
"Even so..." Henry's voice trails off.
"Oh, come off it Henry." Hawkeye helps himself to some of Henry's liquor, "We wouldn't have missed the supplies if Kelly hadn't written it down."
"Let's say we come with you to the village tomorrow." Trapper suggests, getting up, "We can have a look at the kids, see what we can do. That way the kids will get better and we will be monster-free again."
"That sounds like a fair deal, what do you say Johnson? We won't press charges and you get what you want." Henry looks at Johnson, who nods his consent with a satisfied grin.
"Very well, then it's now time to get some shut eye." Henry gets up and shuffles out of his office.
Johnson takes the children along and is just about to leave, when Trapper calls him back.
"Hey Johnson. Can I ask you for a favor?"
Another rainy night, another romantic evening in Major Houlihan's tent.
"Oh Frank, this is so lovely. I wish this war would last forever so we could be together until the end of days."
Frank nods, gazing in Margaret's eyes. "I know, I'm very romantic aren't I? I'm just glad this whole 'monster'business is over and done with."
"Yes, you were so brave that night, Frank. So heroic!"
"It's like I've always said, Margaret. There is no such thing as a monster."
Their conversation is interrupted with a brief knock on the door.
"Who is it?" Margaret calls out, annoyed. No answer, except for another knock on the door.
"I said, 'Who is it?'" Margaret sneers, moving towards the door. There's no answer again.
She yanks the door open and immediately starts screaming. Because there, in front of her door, stands the monster. It's huge, it smells and it's hideous. Even worse, it slowly extends its arm towards Margaret in an attempt to grab her.
"Frank! Help!" She cries out, backing away from the creature.
But Frank is already hiding underneath her bunk, "No! Get it away from me! Don't eat me! Eat Margaret, she has more fat on her bones!" he wails.
Then they become aware of laughter, coming from outside.
The monster takes off his mask, revealing the grinning face of Trapper. The laughter is coming from Hawkeye, who is outside and doubled over from laughing.
"Remember Frank," Trapper says, winking at the Major underneath the bunk, "there are no such things as monsters."