Roy turned a one eighty in place, keeping a hand on a fireman's|
jacket for reference, and shouted
again in the direction of
the second side of factory ceiling walkways. He took a breath
his mask as he listened tensely for any reply.
"Megan!! Shout if you can so we can find you!"
He was about to motion the search team to move up
to the next level when a treble echo of sound filtered
through, bouncing off angles and hollows, barely audible
over the snap and crackle of the nearby
"Hold it. Hold it.. Did you hear that?" Roy asked
the other firemen. They all nodded
that they did,
and the lead man started shutting off the hose
to listen, too.
Roy shouted again, turning slightly to
his left in the choking darkness.
Then the cry came
again, clearer and more
frightened. "Help! Help! I'm over here!"
"Keep shouting! We're coming!"
Roy said, pulling
on his mask again as they all picked up the heavy
hose in double time to beat
out the flames between
them and the little girl.
"H-Hurry.. I .. Howard's gone.. He...He slipped
fell away from me. I can't see him anywhere.."
came Megan's weak, strained voice.
doesn't know that he was killed.:: Roy thought.
::Good.::"Megan.. what's around you?" Roy shouted
her. "We're trying to get nearer to where you are."
"A roof crane is hanging down. It's
got a burning box on it!
I'm.. I'm scared! I want daddy.."
All three men whirled, studying
the flame rippling ceiling
until they spotted the only ceiling lift, still swaying in the heat
a chained payload. It was sixty feet in front of them.
"There.. There!" Roy pointed. They could
reaching out to them from where she lay on her stomach,
partially hidden in the smoke.
Her white clothes stood
out under their flashlights.
The firemen ran. But the head hose man
dropping the spraying hose to suddenly press them all back
into the fiery stairwell
where they had just come from. "Hold it
hold it.. The floor's gone! " he shouted, urgently peeling
steamed air mask.
The others all did the same to hear and see him better as the
man pointed downwards with a gloved hand.
They all had come two steps away from joining Howard
A section of the suspended metal mesh walkway was missing,
melted clean away by
the intensity of the fire's heat, burning far
below them. Fifteen feet of yawning space separated
the groggy little girl.
"Now what?" Roy hissed in frustration. "We don't have time
back for any belts or rope. She isn't gonna last that long."
"Let me think.." said the
lieutenant who had been leading the hose
team. He studied their surroundings carefully, rubbing
chin. Roy felt valuable seconds scrape by like an unwanted
As they watched and yelled out encouragements |
to Megan to hang on just a little longer while they
how to reach her, Megan's grasping hand slowly dropped
as she passed out from the
"Megan?" Roy shouted out to her. But the little girl's
tiny form, stayed
still and unmoving.
The swaying walkway suddenly shifted as its chains
weakened and the unconscious
little girl slid along the
grating until her head and arms flopped over the edge of
precariously, as she rolled.
All the firemen on the other side flung out arms as if to
her."Oh, no.. Don't you dare!" shouted the lieutenant,
By some miracle, the large
buckle on Megan's rainbow
colored belt caught on a torn off bolt and halted her forward
before her waist, too, could go over the edge,
and she jerked to a halt, her sooty blond hair swaying.
The firemen let out the breaths they were collectively holding.
Roy started to breathe faster
in worry. He was
already sweating. "Look. Let's cut our lifeline
and use that to rig a harness.
We can tie it off over
that beam up above and swing across." he suggested,
taking another breath
of air from his mask.
The lieutenant's head canted. "Cut our lifeline? It's
our only means
"What other choice do we have?" Roy said angrily.
"The next chain that snaps
may be the one that
dumps her. Besides, she's already out and you know
how fast kids go down when
they quit breathing. One
of us has to get over there to her to prevent that. Now."
no longer delayed. He got on his HT.
"HT 10 to Battalion 14."
##Go, HT 10.## came the fast
reply from the chief.
"We've located the third victim and a child. He's
the fatality that came
out to you a few minutes ago
and she's still inaccessible! Chief, we're going to use
line to reach her.."
A long pause followed over the open frequency as
Battalion 14 weighed
the risks. ##All right. Do what you
have to do, men. I'm sending in another team to meet
a new line that you all can follow out. What's your
Roy lifted his HT. "About
the middle of the main room,
at the top of the only metal stairway not collapsed yet.
above where Johnny Gage was trapped."
##10 - 4. Watch for the others and be careful. We're talking
demolition out here if the fire spreads out much more than it
already has. The high risk rooms
are now in serious jeopardy. ##
came the gruff worried reply. ## You have six minutes. Tops.
I'm ordering you all out of there.##
"Understood.." Roy answered. "We'll radio once we've
to her.. HT 51 out.." and he pushed down his radio
antennae to shove the talkie back into his jacket.
"Six minutes..." he mumbled to himself. "That's no time at all.."
From: "Linda Taggatz" <email@example.com>
Thu Oct 16, 2003 10:39 pm
Subject: Megan's Rescue.
Outside another idea was hatched.
using the snorkel to rescue her.
"How?' asked Captain Stanley.
raising it to where she's caught and lowering
a line down to Roy and helping him get to her.
"Good idea! Let's try it."
Captain Stanley got on the H.T. and requested it.
snorkel was moved into place and the line lowered
to Roy. He hooked his life belt on to the line
across to Megan.
He checked her. The pulse was faint but there. He quickly
her and put his oxygen mask on her. Then he signaled
on the H.T. for the snorkel to lift them out
Date: Sat, 18 Oct 2003 06:01:11
From: "Sam Iam" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: The Towering Inferno..
::I owe someone a huge dinner for this idea.:: Roy thought
as he adjusted the portable oxygen
tank more firmly
into the lowered stokes for Megan's emergency lift out. ::Someone
on their toes when they thought of including that
lifebelt, too, with the stokes. I was stupid for
not bringing one
in with me:: Roy sighed in relief as he hugged her against his
chest. A paternal
pang gripped him unexpectedly. ::She feels
just like my daughter.:: came the thought, unbidden and
his grip about her tightened protectively as he continued
to feel how effectively she was breathing.
Just as rapidly, Roy's professional side kicked in.
::Cool it! The clock is still ticking down
before the chief
orders that complete evac of the building. Don't lose
this opportunity for Megan
by getting lost in your emotions.
Extricate her and move on...:: his practical mind
::Mull over it later.::
Gasping, Roy did the work. Then he lifted his head, sighting
the swaying rope as far as he could through the column
of smoke disappearing into the midnight sky.
"HT 51 to Snorkel
One. I've got her strapped down and on the O2!" he shouted
through his own
air mask over the roar of the distant fire far below.
"She's breathing and set to go! Take up the
slack!" And he
started to hook his belt's fastener onto the stokes line.
The reply back from
the basket was a very welcome
surprise. Mike Stoker answered, immediately easing
stress over his still very real and present
danger. But that quiet calm voice was tinged with an
unmistakable stab of worry..## Affirmative, HT 51. Hold
up on tandem rappelling. The snorkel engineer
at maximum reach and extension and on the edge for balance.
We can only take your
victim!## his voice crackled through
the heat from the talkie's speaker.
DeSoto could just
imagine Stoker's masked
figure leaning over the edge of the basket trying
to peer down through
the thick billowing smoke
rising up between them. ::I wonder how he fanaggled
that company for
the ride up? Most likely, Cap pulled
some rank because I'm still in here in the hot seat.::
realized. ::They must be real tippy reaching
this far over the factory to the hole in the roof. No
Megan's first and no one with me will debate that.::
Quickly, Roy connected the
four stokes straps without
hesitation and he yanked on the guide lines firmly to
he said open HT. "Understood. She's
secured and good for go!" he shouted, tugging three
on her stretcher's rope over his helmet. Then
he swung back across the gap using the snorkel's
line and off the rickety walkway back to his
companions in the stairwell. "They'd better move fast.
If the rest of that roof goes, the sparking plume and
fire resulting from that will catch them." he
The lieutenant grinned. "I'm Irish, 51. And I've got
watching over me that says that roof's
gonna park until we clear ourselves completely."
grinned as he watched Megan's stokes get
hand to hand rope lifted out of the blazing warehouse.
that a hundred patron saints, 10. I'm Irish, too.
Come on, let's get out of here before we boil."
Slowly, the three firefighting men retraced the route
down through the inky smoke along the shaky
infrastructure until they met up with the second team
Battalion 14 sent in to fetch
them on a new buddy line.
They were six strong and moving on ground level|
when a hail came out. "Battalion 14 to HT 51 and
Snorkel 1. Got your victim clear?"
##Affirmative!## Roy replied at the same time that
voice echoed the same from the lowering
Then just as fast, a priority break-in-transmission
over their HT open frequency with a harsh squeal.
##To all units! Get clear! Get clear! The
in over the labs! ##
An immediate reply from the new firefighters with
and his team, anticipated Battalion 14's next
hail and beat it coming. "Team Two to Battalion
We're ok. We're with Team One.."
##Copy..## said the chief from outside. ##Find
a way outta
there. The demolition crew's almost
completed their setup. They have to blow their
charges to snuff
out that side of the fire before any
of the labs integrity seals are compromised. I give you
:: The east exit's blocked off? Oh no..:: Roy quailed
in his head.::That was our
only known way out.:: The
lieutenant and the others pounded down the stairs,
abandoning the charged
water hose like a spooked
puppy with a live snake. Their air bottles and tanks rattled
as loudly as the fire's flames as they ran for
Roy didn't even think about what
kind of h*ll would
greet them when they reached the bottom of the stairs....
led the way to the last landing. He
paused, setting a bare hand on the door once more
around on its metal surface for sensations
of heat. He grimaced and pulled his hand away before
dragged it twelve inches. "It's hot.. Go back up. We'll
try the dolly freight. I remember passing
it just before
we found this stairwell."
The men ran, trusting their superior's memory of the
"There..!" said the irish lieutenant, pulling off his mask
and pointing. Only a little
debris and a few flaming
timbers lay across the door. These the firefighters
kicked away and rapidly,
they took out their jacket
halligans and jimmeyed the double metal doors ajar
to lift the cage barrier
of the elevator. "In! In! We'll
crank her to the ground level and wait it out!"
"Wait what out?" he asked. The faces
on the others reflected his dismay.
the lieutenant said grimly. "According
to my watch we have less than a minute and a half
and there's no way in h*ll we're gonna do that."
DeSoto nodded, biting his lip. "If we close these
all this metal will provide some shielding."
The Lt. nodded. "Uh huh.. and it won't
matter if the
shaft cables snap in the concussion because we'll
already be at the bottom.. Come
on, put some muscle
into it!" he roared at the men on top of the car,
using their halligans to release
the brake enough for
the car to slide with a thunk to the ground stops.
"Now, in!! Get that ceiling
panel shut. Lock it off
with a tool. The back pressure may blow it free."
Soon, the freights
doors were jammed tight with
tools and rope and they were flung into total darkness.
One of the
team switched on a jacket torch and all
eyes focused on where ever its beam wandered.
radioed out. "We're in the elevator shaft
under shelter. Good to go." he reported to the Battalion
## Read you. Glad you thought of the shaft. Stand by.##
there was a pause. ## I don't
have to tell you men that
you may become trapped inside of there by debris
landing in front of
the doors. Your air bottles may run
out before we can cut you free..##
"Better carrion than
char, Chief.. You'll get us out.
New bottles for us can be lowered down the shaft
using the snorkel
after the debris cloud dissipates."
##Good luck, Lt.##
"Same to you. Let's hope those demolition
really know their stuff.. Team One and Two, out."
##Battalion 14, out. Forty five
Roy felt the countdown through every fiber of
his being. His thoughts turned to
and his family. He only dimly heard the lieutenant
been through one of these once before. The building,
if it goes down, will spare collapsing the elevator
like they usually do chimneys in these things. Now crouch
down, and open your mouths and
plug your nose or the
pressure wave will shred your eardrums!"
One of the younger men looked
pale behind his
air mask as they all placed their backs against
the wall. "Will it hurt much?"
he said with a brave
"Only if you forget to do what I just instructed."
pulled off his mask and took in
an experimental breath of air before Roy could
stop him. "Air's
still good. Try to conserve your
bottles afterwards." he said putting his mask back on
down in his jacket and helmet.
::That's if we're still here..:: Roy's mind added
More quiet advice, calmed him
and the others.
"Cover your face with your arms and huddle down.
Bound to be a lot of dust. Tie off with rope if you have
to. The lift may jostle more than just a
Roy hooked his gloves on a grip bar above
his head and held on.
...tick.... ::Nineteen. Eighteen. Seventeen..::
thought Roy. He had been counting ever since the
chief's numeric cue over the HT.
DeSoto jumped when his bottle started sounding off
a low air
hooter. He shut his off and held his breath.
::I'll buddy breathe with someone else when this is
The men fell silent, alone with only their own thoughts
as sweat fogged up their masks,
rendering them blind.
Roy opened his mouth...and closed his eyes.
::See you soon, Joanne. It's
just another day at the office.::
A horribly deep, gurgling
growl of air belched like
a demonic beast around them, heralding the arrival
of destructive forces
unleashed by the demolitions team.
The firemen flinched as a gust of non air ripped around
from all four sides inwardly towards them. The pressure
kick whitened out their retinas making them
gasp in pain when
an intense searing stab of yellow light preceded it.
A wash of heat cooked
the walls in a blast and made
the men recoil from their firm surfaces as the elevator
and jerked from the brunt of the explosion.
There were five blast waves, the last of which was
violent. It left them bruised and battered.
Roy opened his eyes and realized that
bed had canted. "The whole shaft's been tilted. Don't
touch that panel! It's sparking!"
he said when he heard
spitting electricity from the direction of the phone box
near the floor.
He felt an air mask being pressed into his gloves
from a neighbor and he took a grateful
breath of rushing air.
He tried to pass it back but a voice said. "No, keep it.
I'll share with
Karl here. You need it more than I, being
a medic. The situation's changed completely."
Roy slid the new mask back on to see through
the choking dust. His hands and legs were shaking so
bad with shock that he could barely move. "Sound off!"
he ordered, hunting for casualities. He wondered
their team leader was so quiet.
The young, scared fireman shouted. "The Lieutenant!
"Here. Follow my voice. I got my hand on his stomach."|
"Is he breathing?"
The flashlight's circle of light moved to Roy's left,
illuminating a yellow Pasadena jacket. DeSoto
felt up the man's neck and located a bounding carotid
and another sweep of the light revealed a small
cut on the man's head.
Roy's simple move to open the man's airway made him stir.
"Easy. You're fine. You must have hit your head on a wall.
It's over..." Roy soothed, he turned his
head as if
he could see in the thick dust floating in the air around him.
"Anyone else hurt?"
he asked, taking over charge
of the two teams. "Say yes or no.."
All "no's" spoke up in the
Roy kneeled, getting closer to the lieutenant
and he peeled off the man's air mask
he accepted the flashlight someone handed him
and tried not to tremble. "Lieutenant?"
"Please,, call me O'Malley.." he mumbled.
"P-Patrick..." he groaned, keeping his eyes
from the brightness of the torch.
"Do you hurt anywhere else besides your
head? Here, breathe
through this mask by
hand. I just had to loosen these straps so
I could check you out."
think I'm fine.. Just...just..not yet all there."
"You just rest easy. They'll get us out in
order.." Roy sighed. "Try not to sleep.
You may have a concussion from what I'm
"Got it.." the man whispered. "Am I the only one
with a few lumps?"
Roy nodded. "Yeah.."
"Good.. I'll have some battle scars to go with
my other ones.. Oooo.." he said, squinching up
in sudden pain.
"What? Your head?" Roy asked him quickly.
"No..*gasp*.. both my shoulders.
under my collar bone. Hurts..."
::That's belly involvement..:: DeSoto pegged
Roy moved the flashlight down and
several hands unbuckled O'Malley's
jacket to bare the area.
Roy found some
dark stains spreading in the dimness.
::Blood... There's trouble here all right..::
Then his bare hand found why. Patrick
had a halligan impaled through his side.
You've stabbed yourself.."
"What?" O'Malley groaned, breathing shallowly,
inside his mask.
"A halligan. The one from your jacket. Doesn't
look too bad. Upper left quadrant. It's buried
only about three inches down."
"Take it out!" Patrick quailed.
"Not on your life. That
may be stopping a lot
of internal bleeding and it probably missed
everything major. I still have
good pulses in
your legs and the bleeding's only sluggish."
Patrick lay still.
"Well, looks like I'll have to
listen to you for the rest of this one."
"Looks like. Don't
worry. We both have something
in common here." Roy smiled large enough for
his patient to see through
both their masks.
"We're both good at not losing people. You physically
and me medically.."
Patrick smiled and laughed. He immediately grimaced
when the halligan moved.
"Don't make me laugh.."
"I certainly won't make you cry.." DeSoto promised.
on it.." Patrick grunted.
"You're doing fine.." Roy said, then he
looked up as cool night air
suddenly filtered down
inside the elevator shaft and washed away the
suffocating plaster dust they
"We're in the open, that's outside air coming in.
We can take off our masks. The rest
of you not
helping me, see if you can reopen that door."
Twenty five minutes later, all the firefighters were|
free and a very dusty Roy sat next to his partner
the Mayfair rig en route to Rampart.
Johnny Gage opened his eyes and wrinkled his
at the plastery sour smoke smell coming off
Roy's shirt. "Wough.. Somebody needs a shower.
Roy smiled. "I'll get one. Can't stay smelling like
roses when you're waiting for a powder
keg to go
off under your feet.."
Johnny paled. "You were inside when those guys
fire around the labs?" he said, his
eyes getting wide inside of his long board's wraps
"Yep.." Roy grinned.
"Oh, Roy... Joanne's gonna kill you when she finds out."
"Because if she does, I'll tell her the reason why I was
in the first place."
It was Johnny's turn to smile. "You guys found Megan."
"Well, all right.." Johnny said, trying to lace his fingers
around the back of his head, but his
IV line and backboard
encumberances prevented him from doing it. He grunted
in frustration, giving
it up. Then he eyeballed the red stains
on Roy's jacket and hands. "Any of that yours?"
Lt. O'Malleys. And he's gonna be fine after a little
patch up surgery."
"He argued with the wrong end of a halligan while the explosion
was going on. It got him through the
Johnny gripped his own stomach in sympathy. "Ooo,
that's gotta smart
getting stuck down there.."
"Not according to him. Patrick said he just had some
pain going up into his shoulders and that's all."
"huh.. gotta remember those symptoms.." Gage
"Speaking of symptoms, how are you doing?"
"Fine. How's the little girl
you got out?"
"You mean whom Stoker got out.."|
"Yeah,... he commandeered a snorkel bucket
we stretchered her out before the demo
guys blew out the building."
"Heheheh. That's thinking
on your feet."
"Yeah.. I was impressed." Roy admitted.
"Megan's gonna be just fine. She was
just a little suffocated from all the bad air
she took in. She's headed to Rampart
with Squad 10."
"That's good. Then I'll probably get to meet
her in the hallway or something waiting to
seen. I remember how busy the ER
was before we got this call. It might still be
"Yeah, well, I don't think you're gonna be waiting
too long, partner. You've had a history of
and unconsciousness." Roy chided.
"I feel fine.."
"I'm not the one who needs convincing.
to the doctors.."
"I will, believe me.."
"Of that I have no doubt.." Roy said,
up his skin with some saline from a bottle.
"Try to get some rest. We're almost there."
From: Katherine Bird <email@example.com>
Thu Dec 11, 2003 5:48 pm
Subject: Right Moves and Night Moves...
to Audrey, WolfLynneKK@aol.com,
the ETL Pediatrics Consultant for her aid in helping
me with smoke
inhalation lab work and with the temperment
and personality of nine year olds in general.
"Roy,.. how's she doing?" Dr. Brackett asked
as he met the rolling gurney holding the
nine year old Megan from the explosives fire in a nest
of backboard straps, O2 lines
and IV tubing.
Roy indicated Dwyer to his left. "Better ask
Stan here. He's the one who brought
I had Johnny."
Kel looked up at the man from Station Ten.
"Meagan's doing fine,
so far, doc." Dwyer piped up.
"She's still pulling air. Glasgow's five though.
BP's 84 over 60.
Rate off the bag here's ten.
Pulse 132. Pupils still sluggish but equal and reactive."
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