No one answered til a commercial came on. |
Then, Chet turned and said, "You had to see
appreciate it, Gage."
"See what?" the impatient P.M. demanded.
Kelly completely ignored
the question and
continued, "I mean, it was really amazing!
stammered, not turning
his gaze from the TV's screen. "Oh...yeah...
it was amazing...absolutely!"
Gage gasped in exasperation and turned to
Stoker, "What happened, Mike?"
hit a grand-slam homerun!" the
Engineer obligingly answered. "I can't remember
who else did what,
but the Dodgers got ten
runs in the second inning!"
"We missed it!" John lamented, "For a
cancelled call! We missed it!" The sportscaster
came back on and announced the score.
"Twelve to nothin'?! How one-sided can you
get?!" the peeved paramedic declared and
"Where yah goin'?" his partner pondered.
"To work on the Log Book," Gage glumly
replied, "It'll be more exciting."
His crew mates glanced at one another and
A-shift filed into the dorm of Station 51 six
hours and three
"Lights out in five minutes!" an extremely
tired Captain Stanley warned his equally
The men stripped down to their t-shirts and
boxers and, after setting
up their bunker pants
and boots, collapsed--gratefully--into their beds.
They were asleep the
moment their pillows
hit their heads.
They stayed right where they laid until just |
after eleven...when the alarm went off.
Stanley and his crew threw their covers off and
began climbing out of their bunks and
bottom half's of their turn-outs.
"Man down...unknown type rescue...213
Morrow Drive...Ambulance responding...
Two-One-Three East Morrow Drive...Time
On the way to the garage, the firemen
exchanged mystified glances. Then they
shrugged their suspenders
into place and
scrambled up into their trucks, still sliding
jackets and helmets on.
51...KMG-365," the Captain
acknowledged the dispatcher. Stanley shot
his paramedics a rather
puzzled look, before
crossing the bay and climbing up into the
DeSoto took the
copy of the call slip he was
handed and passed it on to his partner, "I
thought you said Mr.
Fajou was in Florida..."
"He is!" John adamantly stated, "He's visitin'
some old friend a'
his from the film studio
who's retired in Miami. Won't be back for
another two weeks..."
Roy's look of confusion quadrupled.
"Talk about 'deja` vu'..." Mike Stoker
"The FIRST time we went
to 213 East Morrow Drive, the Dodgers
and Padres were playing a double-header,
Stanley shot his astute Engineer an amused
glance and clipped his copy of the
to the dash.
Moments later, both trucks pulled out onto
the street in front
of the Station, lights
flashing and sirens blaring.
so it was that the men of L.A. County
Fire Station 51 found themselves--once again
--up on the
ancient-looking mansion's moonlit
front porch...waiting impatiently while their
leader rang the
eerie 'go-ong' and rapped
the big, bronze door-knocker.
"The yard looks nice..." Hank commented,
just for something to say.
"Thanks, Cap. Reggie's got--Mr. Fajou has
this really cool
riding lawn mower," John
enthusiastically announced, "24 horse...with
a three blade deck and
a 52 inch cut!"
"And electric hedge-trimmers!" Marco added,
sounding equally excited.
There followed several seconds of uncomfortable
"This is just TOO weird!" Chet Kelly
finally putting what everyone was thinking into words.
Stanley considered saying
'Well, we can't stand out here all night.' But
then quickly reconsidered it.
Instead, he just
grabbed a hold of the knob and twisted it.
Just like the first time, they
found the front
door to be unlocked. "Fire Department!" the
Captain called into the dimly lit
"Anybody home?!" Just like the first time,
he received no reply. "All right!" Hank
throwing the door open wide and stepping
aside, "You all know the drill..."
The paramedics set their equipment down |
in the entry hall. Roy and Marco immediately
for the upstairs. John and Chet began
making their way into the back kitchen and
door, while Mike followed his
Captain off to explore the first floor.
John jerked the creaky portal open, "After you..."
he invited with a wave of his arm.
his companion's mustached mouth opening in
protest, he quickly added,"I went first
"All right," Kelly reluctantly conceded, "But I
should probably warn
you...You'd better be
ready to get the hell out a' my way! Because...
if I see even so much as
a mouse...I'm gonna
go screaming into the night! And I'll be plowing
through anything--or anybody--that
my path!" Chet shot his chuckling chum an
annoyed glare. Then he drew in a deep breath
and begrudgingly began descending the stairs.
The two men made it down about two steps,
then stopped, hearing their Captain calling
for them. "This is just TOO weird!" Kelly
as the two of them re-retreated.
"Yeah, Cap?" John inquired
as he and his
associated slid to a stop in front of Stanley.
"Upstairs!" their Captain prompted
the pair of new arrivals the paramedic
equipment, "First room on the right!"
grabbed the cases he was handed and
took the stairs, two steps at a time.
Kelly latched onto
the oxygen tank and the
remaining case, and quickly followed.
They entered the first doorway
on the right.
The dimly lit room was a library--judging by
all the books it contained. There
was an elderly
lady lying, motionless, on an ornate, oriental rug
--which covered about a third
of the room's
hardwood floor. John's partner was kneeling
beside the nonmoving woman, performing
his initial patient survey.
"Heart?" Gage wondered, dropping his gear
and himself down
next to DeSoto.
Roy replied with a quick shrug of his shoulders.
"She's got a goose-egg the
size of my fist,"
he announced and began opening and emptying
equipment cases, "Apparently, she
hit the back of her head--probably on the
edge of that thing..." he added, motioning
to the large oak desk resting on the floor
in front of one the room's wall-to-wall
John tossed his helmet up onto the desk
and donned his stethoscope.
His partner finished
his preliminary exam and
began reaching for their bio-phone, "Let's get
her patched in and we
might be able to
determine what caused the fall..."
Their Captain poked his head into the
"Ambulance is here," he announced, "You
guys got everything you need from the Squad?"
Gage gave him a nod and then frowned, as a
sternal rub and a dose of smelling salts produced
results in their patient. "Cap? Can you check
the medicine chests and nitestands for any
meds? Oh, and try to find her
purse, too. There may not be any pills in it,
but her wallet might
contain some helpful
"You bet! Chet, you get the bedrooms!" their
relegated, "Marco, you get
the bathrooms! Mike and I will handle the
the firemen exited, the ambulance
attendants entered, towing a gurney.
Kelly was the first man back. He returned
empty-handed. Lopez followed, a couple of
minutes later, with his helmet full of pill
bottles. Gage dumped two thirds of the
into an 'urp' sack, and
then placed the paper bag on their patient's
"According to her driver's license," Stanley |
stated, as he and Stoker re-entered the
Mrs. Margaret Bentley. No
medical info and no 'scrip's," he added,
sounding almost apologetic.
"Thanks, Cap!" Roy acknowledged, as he
accepted the purse that was passed to him.
snatched up several cases and
followed the attendants as they towed
the packaged patient from
"I wonder where Mister Bentley is?" Marco
queried, and stood there, staring glumly
down at the two plastic pill bottles still in
his helmet: Mr.Norman Bentley's
"Yeah," Chet chimed in, "Someone had to
call this in..."
"Chet's right, Cap,"
Mike Stoker concurred,
"This is just TOO weird! The rescue doesn't
even match the call!"
"It's the full moo-oon..." John jokingly
determined, trying his level best to sound
sinister. But a broad grin
betrayed him. He picked up the remainder
of their paramedic gear and
out into the hall.
Stanley and his Engine crew exchanged
"C'mon!" Hank urged,
"There's a bed back at the Station, with
my name on it!"
Bentleys are Reggie's--Mr. Fajou's
relatives..." Marco mumbled under his breath
and set Mr. Bentley's
scrip's down on a lamp
stand. "O-or, maybe Reggie--Mr. Fajou had
hired himself a couple of house
sitters? " Lopez
exhaled a resigned sigh and followed his
fellow firefighters from the library.
John finished stowing the gear. He closed the
on the Squad and stepped
up to the driver's door. "Doggone it!" he
exclaimed and slammed his
open palm into
the side of the truck.
Hank Stanley, who was half-way into his
the paramedic's angry explicative,
and winced. "What no-ow?!"
"Ah, Cap..." Gage regrettably
replied, " I forgot
"That's the third time this month, John!" his
Captain realized, "Why can't you
just leave it fastened to your head?!"
"It gets in the way
of the phone and my
"Never mind!" his Captain quickly cut in,
"Just go get
it! We'll wait for you. Kelly,
go with him!"
"Ahhh, Cap...Do I have to?" Chet whined.
"Move it, you two! Or do you WANT to find
out what the penalty is for making your
his sleep?!" Hank added, seeing
Kelly dragging his feet.
Chet picked up his pace. In fact,
helmet retrievers went running back up to
the mansion's front door, and quickly
Stoker turned to Stanley, looking curious.
"What is the penalty?"
know," his Captain confessed,
"But I assure you, it wouldn't be pleasant!
I can get awfully cranky
Mike and Marco grinned.
Kelly halted in the entrance hall. "I'm waitin'
right here! And, hurry it up, will yah! This place
gives me the creeps!"
"I'm hurryin'! I'm hurryin'!" John assured
his creeped out companion,
and took the
stairs two steps at a time. Gage reached
the dimly lit library and glanced around.
spotted his helmet, setting on the desk,
and smiled. As he crossed over and
to pick it up, he happened to
glance down. There, on the floor behind the
desk, was a strange,
curved scratch mark.
The mark had been carved into the polished
varnished floor boards by something
'Something heavy...like a bookshelf!' the
paramedic mused, 'I'll bet there's a 'secret
passage' behind this thing!' He examined
the object carefully...pulling and pounding
probing for some sort of 'secret' lever
or button or something! 'Nothing!' he
and his shoulders slumped.
He stooped to examine the funny, curved
scratch mark again. Something
had been sliding over those floor boards,
all right! "It's got to move!" he realized
He straightened stiffly back up, and
that's when he noticed that several books
had been removed
from one of the shelves.
He reached for one of the remaining books
and found that it wouldn't
closer inspection, he discovered that it
wasn't a 'book', at all, but a solid block
of wood with a book's title painted on it!
"The Mystery On Dobbin's Moor..." he
and gave the block of wood
The bookcase moved, startling
him. John jumped back
and stared in
wide-eyed wonder as the entire shelf
swung slowly out into the room,
a passageway in the wall
behind it! "Only in the movies, huh..."
he stated rather smugly, "I
I knew it!" He stepped up and poked
his head into the passageway. It led
to a descending
stairway. Gage stiffened
suddenly and blinked his wide eyes in the
dim light. There, at the bottom
stairs, he could barely make out the
motionless outline of a man.
immediately kicked back
into the paramedic mode. "HEY, CHET!
GET UP HERE! HURRY!" he turned and
shouted. John snatched his helmet up
before stepping into the passageway.
mechanism reached the
end of its guide rail and the bookcase
stopped moving--but only for a
moment. Because the 'stopper' on
the end of the guide rail was broken,
the opening mechanism
left the track
and a powerful spring slammed the
bookcase back against the wall with
Gage heard the spring 'snap'. Then,
something struck him in the back
of the head.
There was an explosion
of light--then...nothing! Everything
went _____. He and his retrieved
helmet went tumbling down the
Kelly heard Gage calling him...and then, a
loud 'BA-ANG!' He hurried
up the stairs and
into the library. John was nowhere in sight!
"Hey, Johnny...c'mon, man! Quit
clowning! Cap' just ain't gonna see the
humor in this!" he added angrily. "Johnny?..."
nervously repeated, following a
thorough search of the room. "I know
you're in here...I've been
watching the door,
and I would've seen you leave..." his words
trailed off and a tingle went
up his spine.
"GAGE! GET OUT HERE! RIGHT NOW!"
His only answer was dead silence. Chet
and not from the cold.
"...please?" he tacked on rather pitifully.
John came to at the bottom of the hidden
stairway. He groaned and rolled onto his
he opened his eyes, he
couldn't see a thing. It was pitch black.
He picked his aching, spinning
off the floor and shook it, in an attempt
to clear some of the cobwebs and put a
to the loud, high-pitched 'ringing' in
his ears. The only thing the shaking
was to increase his
Somehow, he managed to make it
up onto his hands and
knees. He spotted a
thin strip of light and crawled over to it. He
reached up, groping in the
darkness for a
door knob. There wasn't one. So, he leaned
against the wall and tried to stand.
gave way and the paramedic went sprawling
out of the concealed room and onto the
polished marble tiles of the mansion's
entryway. Gage groaned again and slowly
back up off of the floor. He
stood there, dazed, disoriented and very
dizzy. He shut his squinting
eyes and placed
his hands over his ears in another attempt to
block out the painfully loud, and
Kelly backed out of the library
quickly down the stairs. He stopped halfway
and his mouth dropped open. There, in
middle of the entrance hall, stood his no-
longer-missing amigo. "How'd you do that?"
wondered curiously and skipped down
the remaining steps to stand face to face
with finally found
friend. "Will yah quit the
clowning, already?!" Chet pleaded, as John
completely ignored him.
Gage staggered back a few feet and then
caught his balance. He opened his eyes,
standing there and quietly
inquired, "...what's that noise?"
Kelly listened carefully. All
ears could detect was the steady ticking
of the hall clock. He stared at Gage's
bare head and empty hands for a few
miffed moments and then threw his arms
up in complete
exasperation. "That does
it!" he declared and began heading for
the front door, "I'm out a' here!
getting the Cap' mad at ME!"
Gage turned and watched in confusion
angrily stomped off. "What
happened?" he wondered in a whisper.
A sudden wave of nausea came
him and he slowly dropped to his knees.
"Man, if I were you, I'd find my helmet
QUICK!" Chet chastised. He grabbed
a hold of the knob and glanced back,
"Before Cap' comes bargin'--"
something glistening on the back of
his now kneeling comrade's hanging
head and stopped.
"Hey, Johnny! You're
not clowning!" he quickly realized and
went rushing up to his collapsed
companion. "That's REAL bloo-ood!"
He grabbed Gage by the arms and
slowly straightened him
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