From: patti k (firstname.lastname@example.org)
10/27/10 10:44 AM
"Are they awake?" Arnold asked the panting woman.
"Yes! They just can't get out. The doors are jammed!" she gasped.
Rosalie finished her fast sweep
for injuries. "Johnny, it's just her
legs. There's nothing else." she replied as pushed away the
last of the woman's clothes that she had cut off. "No misalignments,
no other bleeding." When she
was through examining everywhere,
she stretched out a couple of warm blankets, one on the ground,
and the other around their patient, snugly. "She's clear."
"Start her on
O2. I'm going to lay her down flat. Her pressure's
dropping." Gage said as the woman's eyes began
to roll upward.
"Please!" begged the soldier woman.
"Shh, easy. Easy. We'll get there.
Even if the water's high, the van
will float for a time. It's seawater."Johnny shared. "What's your
Can you tell me that?"
"I'm....Karen. Third division, with 109's. Serial numberrrr--"
Rosaline interrupted urgently.
"What happened to you? Do you
remember?" Arnold asked, wondering
about what had caused such serious fractures of her upper legs.
"I... fell." she whispered through the oxygen mask.
"From up there?" Rosalie asked, peering
up at the tiny circle of light
visible at the top of the shattered caisson tower. She could just barely
make out a length of military issue rope tied off to a secured carabiner
above their heads.
nodded, trying to relax her shivering body. "Trying to climb for help.
I...think my rope broke on...something
sharp." Karen told them. She
shut her eyes as she began to feel her broken thighs. She cried out.
"Easy. Try not to move your legs." Gage told her firmly.|
Johnny uncovered one of the woman's arms,
dragging a pack closer.
"We'll give you something for the pain right now. But I need to start
I.V. on you first." Johnny told her as Arnold quickly checked the
for pulses in both of the woman's
bare feet. She nodded to Gage about
intact circulation remaining in the limbs.
soldier mumbled. "Guess I lost some blood."
"Not too much. You did a good job with these partial
far did you fall?" he asked, very concerned about major internal injuries
such an impact.
"Not ...too far, thankfully." Karen joked weakly. "Maybe fifteen feet."
you hit your head?" Gage asked, swabbing down a place on the
inner bend of the woman's arm and elbow.
"No." Karen said dully. "It's only...these legs. How..how bad am I?"
"You're doing fine
here, Karen. Neither femoral artery's been torn."
Gage told her, glancing at the shattered bone ends
he could see
through her ripped skin. "But you might come out of this a few inches
the doctors are through with you." he joked.
"Wonderful. Knocked down below five foot two." she
"You'll walk again if you're stubborn." Johnny smiled, quickly getting an
flow. "Rosalie, tape this off." he said, snatching for the drug box.
"Karen, I'm going to be giving
you some morphine,..M.S. Are you
allergic to any medications?"
"..no.." she hissed, jerking
as her injured legs' muscles began to
spasm. She screamed.
"Hold her down." Johnny told Rosalie.
"Karen? Karen, give this a minute
or two. It'll start to work immediately." Gage promised as he drew
a correct ten milligram dose from an ampoule. He slowly introduced
just part of the narcotic
into a rubber port on her I.V. line through the
needle, carefully leaving the whole impaled syringe
dangling there for
later use. "How's that?" he asked, returning a glance to her face.
sighed, sobbing in relief. Frightened tears stained her dusty cheeks.
"...better. It's better." she
said, finally going limp.
"Good... Rosalie, watch her breathing." Johnny told Arnold. Then he
back to grasp one of Karen's cold hands. "Karen, can you still hear me?"
woman opened suddenly sleepy eyes.
"Rosalie's going to be staying with you while I check out
that family. If the pain
gets worse, let her know, and she'll give you more pain killer a half a
at a time until it backs down again, okay?" he said, both sharing his care plan
giving orders to Arnold.
The soldier woman nodded.
Rosalie smiled as Karen's panting
died away from its desperate pace and began
to even out into normal. "I'll get some vitals and splint
her up to get her legs off
all this cold ground."
"Good deal." said Johnny, grabbing both
of their flashlights. He also snatched
up the rope drag harness and the pipe. He took a few seconds
to pound its
thin metal into a wedge at one end with a heavy piece of steel to make an
prybar. He gave Rosalie and Karen one last look. "I'll be
back as soon as I can."
the fallen slab blocking the second hole aside and began to crawl
quickly towards the sound of rushing
"Be careful." Rosalie called out after him.
"I'll tie off a life line to something
solid before I get wet." he promised.
Alone inside the new tunnel, Johnny began to pant with exertion as he worked
of asphalt and wire. Then he caught sight of the van. Its
front tires were still hanging on to a grossly
tilted chunk of pavement. The rest
of it was beginning to bob in the rising tide underneath it. "Hey!
hear me in there?!" he shouted across the roiling pool of seawater separating
A silhouette of an old man's face briefly flashed in one of the van's cracked
side windows. He
was wet and pounding frantically and screaming through
the glass he could not break the rest of the
Johnny sprang into action. He tied off his rope to a grid of firm rebar poking
some shattered concrete and slipped into the water, lunging for the
van with his made pipe tool,
from the sides of the pool. He banged on the door
of the van to alert the family inside that he was
there. He looped off another
section of his waist tied rope to a door handle on the van to use it
as a butt sling.
Then he placed both feet onto the sides of the chassis using it as leverage and
jammed the bar into the sliding hatch crack just above the door's securing latch.
With a powerful grunt, he wrenched the sliding door ajar. He pulled it open|
and a rush of water from
inside gushed out. "How many?!" he shouted over
the noise of the violent waves around them. He tossed
the tool back into
the tunnel through which he had arrived.
"Three. My wife and I. Get my nephew
Joshua. He can't swim!"
"Is anybody hurt?" Gage yelled.
"Grab this rope end
and tie yourselves to it! After I get him to safety, I'll
pull the rest of you across!" Johnny told
him, swiping away waves of
water that were hitting him in the face.
The nearly crushed van
lurched and submerged a little deeper with a
horrible groan of sliding metal as the tide began to
float it off the pavement
underneath it. Johnny and the old man gripped the door frame reflexively
until it jolted just as quickly to halt.
"Hurry!" Gage told him. "The tide's rising fast!"
Nodding, the old man reached into the darkness behind him and thrust a
young, frightened boy of
ten into Johnny's arms. "My name's Johnny.
I'm gonna get you out of here! But you're going to have
to hang onto me.
Hang on real tight!" he told the child.
Scared, the boy just clung and choked
as waves struck him repeatedly
in the face. Johnny locked the fingers of one hand on the boy's shirt
bodily lifted him higher so he could breathe again. "Cough it out!" he
shouted. The boy finally
got in a few good gasps. "Better?"
The nephew nodded, instinctively knowing what to do next.
"Don't let go!" Gage told him as he felt the boy grab him around the neck
and start to float behind
his back. Johnny reached behind for the rope
and began to pull himself and the boy back across the
pool to the safety
of the tunnel hole, partially swimming, partially dragging. He got the boy
the edge of the pool. "Climb up there and crawl to the very end, to my
partner! She'll take care
of you. I'll go back for your aunt and uncle!"
Once he pushed the boy's rear into the dark hole he quickly returned|
to the van to repeat the whole
process. He wasn't surprised to see
the old man tying off his wife to Johnny's safety line first.
Can you swim?"
"Yes." said the sixty something year old aunt.
me." Johnny said. "There's a tunnel on the other
side of the pool!" he said, spitting seawater out
of his mouth that
was getting tossed at his face.
Gage got the woman across and safely headed
up the tunnel.
He was about to lunge back for the van when it jerked sharply
roof frame of the open hatch hit the old man
on the head and he was knocked out and shoved underwater
as the van suddenly and violently sank. "No!" Johnny shouted,
taking a deep breath of air.
dove deep underwater to pursue it and his last victim.
The edge of metal he snatched for slipped
through his cold
numbed fingers and suddenly disappeared into the murk.
Johnny began to struggle
downwards even harder to catch up.
He had no idea how deep the bay was beneath him. ::He's gonna
if I don't--..:: A deep rending roar belched underwater as a
chunk of bridge debris, dislodged by
the falling van, struck Johnny
full in the stomach, bearing him downwards, in mid thought.
was carried quickly into the depths helplessly, his mind doing
a mental scream.
From: patti k (email@example.com)
10/28/10 12:19 AM
Subject: By Any Means Necessary...
"Johnny?!" Roy shouted, shooting bolt
upright from a sound sleep
in the R&R tent at Staging. He was filled with a nameless terror.
rolled copiously down his face in rivers. His heart was
still thudding in his chest as awareness slowly
Craig Brice was in mid sip when he locked his hand to prevent
getting a burn from
his hot coffee at the loud shout. He looked up
in mild surprise.
Bob Bellingham slid over to
sit on the side of DeSoto's cot. "Hey,
easy, Big Guy. We may be living a nightmare, but you don't
to dream one, too." he joked, offering Roy a chilled canteen.
It took several seconds
for Roy to remember where he was. "Oh.
I'm still on break." he grunted.
"Here." said Bob, holding
out the water patiently. He was very
empathetic of Roy's emotional fallout and it showed on his
DeSoto took it as soon as he was able. "Sorry. I just got the most
feeling, you know?" He drank deeply. "Thanks. I'm parched."
"That's why we're in here." Bellingham
shrugged. "D*mned Safety Officers."
Then he confessed truly what his opinion was. "I couldn't sleep
he mumbled sympathetically. "..knowing what's out there." he said softly.
Roy found a towel and dried the cold sweat from his head and neck.|
He was still trembling in reaction
to the dream. He looked up at the others.
"Some days I feel like Johnny, about all the rules and regulations."
agreed, trying to smile, but failing. "The chief said we were getting
tired. Yes. But more than
Brice set aside his coffee. "Battalion had a point. USAR personnel can
spell each other
on long term search and rescues. We can't. And we've
been handling this disaster for fifteen hours
straight now. Two hours of
a rest period isn't that long of a time to wait." he remarked.
glared at him. "Yes, it is." he frowned, his eyes going for the millionth
time back to the sight of
the brightly lit pile that used to be the Vincent
Thomas Toll Bridge, glittering in the darkness.
Even from the hilltop, Roy
could see search dogs slowly picking their way back and forth across
rubble. "Every second feels like an eternity." DeSoto muttered dully,
still shocked at the whole situation.
Craig, Bob and Roy turned suddenly at the sound of Dixie McCall's voice
as it came closer,
talking on a radio. "Yes, I'll tell them! Mayfair One, out."
She hurried inside and suddenly they
could see her. She spotted her
target. "Roy.." she shouted softly so she wouldn't wake up other
off duty rescue workers. Her face was pale, drawn. But then
DeSoto shot to his
feet to join her. "What? Did they--" he began, anxious
"Yes. They think they've
found the ambulance." she said, hopeful.
"They think?" Brice asked.
"No." she corrected
herself. "They know. They found a pocket of elevated
oxygen levels. But.." she trailed off, her fortitude
"Dixie, whatever the news is, I'd like to hear it a.s.a.p." DeSoto said softly,
her hand in a grip that showed her the depth of their long friendship.
McCall gave his fingers
a little squeeze in gratitude as she finally looked up
straight into his eyes with blue ones that
were full and watery. "It's the...
cadaver dogs. Both of them. They're on point over the same area."
DeSoto closed his eyes in surprise pain but he didn't move or let go,
clutching her hand. He composed
himself with an effort and smiled. "He's not dead,
Dixie. He... I .. all of us at the station, we
would know." he insisted. The doubt
on his features fiercely fought with faith in a mental battle.
Then he gently
fixed her running mascara with a couple of thumbs while he softly cradled her
chin in his palms. "Don't give up. I'm not."
She sniffed and hugged his hand with hers and turned
her cheek into
their interlaced fingers. "All right." she sighed. He kissed the top of her head
fighting angry tears at his own fears. "It is too soon." she agreed.
Roy's resolve grew. "Come on, Bob. Let's go. It's been close enough to|
two hours in my book." DeSoto
growled, striding for the MP guarded tent
"D*mn*d straight." Bellingham agreed, joining
him eagerly, knowing what Roy
was about to do. Swiftly, he gathered up both of their turnouts and
and made a beeline after DeSoto's retreating back.
Dixie quickly left for another exit
cleared for hospital staff and returned to
Nearby, Brice was still fingering his unvisited
green triage tag. "Good luck."
he said wistfully to his two stationmates. Then he rose from his chair
a sudden plan in motion. He awakened Jon Baker, who had been asleep
on a cot next to him.
"Huh?" Jon grunted, instantly alert but guarded. Jon sat up, already clutching
his radio. "News?" the blond haired CHiP officer guessed.
Craig nodded solemnly.
"Go find your
partner, Poncherello. USAR's I.D.'d a positive dig site."
Jon grinned, big. "He'll be ecstatic!
Early just cleared him as only superficial
earlier this evening." He toggled his handy talkie. "Seven
Mary Three and
Four to Central."
##Go ahead, Mary Three.## replied their female dispatcher
Jon winced for his coworker in sympathy, but not for long. He became all
"Central, tell Sarge. We're 10-8 to the Bridge. The possible
missing Mayfair has been tentatively
located." he shared. He rushed off to
tell Frank, who was in the Mess Hall, filling a newly hungry
Brice smiled and knew that their learning a final outcome, would just come that
faster, for the recruitment. "And I'm probably the last tag still waiting
for a doctor. Oh, well.
They can't miss what they don't see." he decided.
He abandoned his coffee to go find Captain Stanley
and the rest of the
gang, currently relegated back to standby, to share Dixie's update from USAR.
DeSoto was six foot one inch tall. The MP never had a chance. Roy flashed
him the authorization
card hanging around his neck for only a few seconds.
"Soldier, the two of us are leaving now. And
nothing short of a bullet is going
to stop us." he said, squaring off next to Bob Bellingham with
The National Guardsman actually tried to bar their way. He didn't succeed.
was bowled over and elbow caught by the two of them and dragged along
backwards to the Accountability
table in the parking lot.
Roy and Bob arrived in front of an astonished African American
handling personnel counts. They neatly spun their Guardsman
escort around and brushed off invisible
lint from his camo uniform's now
rumpled and manhandled collar.
DeSoto smiled. "This fine
gentleman will vouch for our slightly early
release from the R&R tent. Isn't that right, lieutenant?"
he said ingraciatingly.
The National Guardsman blinked. And then nodded when he felt Bob's
paramedic fingers finding a potent nerve center in the small of his
back in a subtle reminder. "Oh,
yes. I concur most heartedly. *hmmphf!!*."
The firefighter blinked back. Then he leaned forward
over the table to look
at Roy and Bob. "We all know who you are, 51. You can unmonkey the
Joe. I personally know Johnny Gage. Go bring him home for all of us
brothers. The log book will say
you were actually here twenty minutes
from now." he said, as muscle pulsed in his cheek from clenched
Roy's face stayed emotionless and very serious. He gestured at
the fire fighter seated
before them. "That's a good man, soldier. Learn
to appreciate the strength of fire department loyalty."
He shoved the
Guardsman roughly over the table and let him go with an affectionate
"No harm done. Just don't try to bend over and tie your shoes
for an hour or so." he said about the
nervelessness Bellingham had inflicted
"Yes, sir." the MP whimpered, not moving
from where he lay bent, belly
The firefighter sitting at the table just grinned down
at him, doing knuckle
spinning tricks with his pencil. He popped his gum at the Guard and
his eyebrows meaningfully. "A fire ain't the only place we bad at."
Roy and Bob ran for Squad 51. DeSoto had to fill the air with talking.
"What'd you jab on him?"
Bob smiled grimly. "The kidney plexus. The man felt like he had to
pee in the worst way."
"I do, too." DeSoto admitted, his nervousness and worry hitting
new heights. "For real."
disposable urinal can's in the door pocket. I'll chuck it out the window
afterwards." Bob promised,
making sure he beat Roy to the driver's
side door. "Gimme the keys."
Roy made a face, gripping
"Ahh." he warned with an upright index finger. "Gimme the keys.."
said dangerously. "You know the rules. That's one fire
department policy I'm not gonna bend."
Roy finally handed them over. "I just gotta find out about Johnny."
he said, getting in and slamming
the passenger door shut.
"We will, pal. By sun up. Or there's gonna be H*ll to pay." Bellingham|
promised. He flicked on their
red lights and sirens and took off
onto the main road leading north.
Jon Baker and Frank Poncherello ran for the two new motorcycles
freshly assigned to them.
"Thank you Harlan, for pulling a few more strings." Frank grinned.
Ponch looked at his partner. "Do
you know the best way back to
the bridge? I was kinda out of it this afternoon on the chopper
"Like the back of my hand." Baker replied, pulling on his helmet
even as he ripped
off his M.D. cleared triage tag. "I know every
back road and byway."
"Let's go." Frank said,
doing the same thing. They cast the two
tags over their shoulders without a second thought and let
take them as they took off into acceleration, heading north.
Dixie was passing the
parking lot after returning from escorting a patient
to an awaiting Mayfair ambulance for evacuation
when she spotted the
two CHiP officers flashing by her with lights and sirens. "Hey, wai--" she
began. Then she saw the two officers abandoned triage tags and strings
tumbling over her shoes. McCall
picked them up and read them. She
recognized Early's signature bullsh*tt*ng sign off on both of them
the officers sooner than the usual full day of observation process normally
for vehicle accident victims. "I love you, Joe." she said happily,
appreciating the clever wool that
had been pulled over official eyes. She
turned and watched the two highway patrol officers go with
a hearty wave.
"G*dspeed, EMTs." she wished them. "You know what to do. You're on
your own now."
From: patti k (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Thu 10/28/10 10:33 PM
Subject: Brain Puke...
Dixie McCall looked down at her hands during
a brief pause of activity in
Triage and found that they were still shaking. ::What is the matter with
me?:: she thought. ::I've eaten. I've had plenty of water. I've..I've had nothing
but semi good news..
What the h*ll is it with me?:: she raged inside. :: I don't
want to see Kel or Joe or Mike. I'm not
tired... Maybe I could go to the bridge--::
Her thoughts were interrupted by a sharp roiling spike
in her emotions. Half
memories of a horrifying long ago experience suddenly filled her mouth with
She staggered against the side of a parked refueling Mayfair as she was swept
away by a
Her neighbor's screams were filling her ears. The smell of mud,
rot, and drowned
house filled her nostrils. A college aged Dixie looked up again at the unforgiving
newly cracked plaster ceiling. "Mary?! Just hang on. I can't--" she doubled over at
of her broken arm and foot still pinned underneath the section of roof that
had collapsed on top
of her. She gritted her teeth. "I can't get myself free, but I
know that help is coming! I can hear
the sirens." Young Dixie gagged at the pain
just yelling caused, still not understanding where the
water came from that was seeping
up her legs from the lower level of her apartment. ::A mudslide
that broke a pipe?
But it's a dry day outside!:: she puzzled. All the while she tried to understand
had hurt her, she tried to reach out to the woman she could hear next door.
"Try to hold your
head up a little high--"
A deep new roar of water noise that Dixie couldn't see from where she
was trapped suddenly rose into an all encompassing din of rapids and
snapping wood. Mary's cries abruptly
"Mary?! Mary? Can you hear me?!" Dixie cried out, panicking. "Mar--" Suddenly|
she knew. Her neighbor
was not going to answer her anymore. She was dead.
::She drowned?:: The realization struck her like
a blow and her head dropped to the
carpeting in a dead faint.
Just then, her front door was
battered down by a Los Angeles County firefighter
using an axe head as a battering ram. He saw McCall
lying in her living room.
"I found one! I think she's still alive!"
##Hurry up, HT 24. The
dam's really starting to let loose!## came a reply from
the fireman's rescue partner.
inside and found Dixie's trapped leg. He quickly chopped it free and
pulled her over his shoulder,
not stopping to check for signs of life. "I'll meet
you on the hill with a victim!" he radioed back.
"She's about twenty one years
Then he fled the rapidly flooding college house and
McCall returned suddenly to the present, gasping. She sagged down
the side of
the ambulance in total shock. "Mary?" she whispered. "I'm so sorry."
Paramedic Craig Brice was walking towards where the standby fire engines
were idling to find
his station's crew when he saw Dixie sitting on the ground in
the darkness. "Miss McCall?" he asked,
squinting in the dark as he crouched
down near her. "Are you okay? Is something wrong?" He shielded
from the glare of the patient care light that was still on inside of the door opened
"I...don't know." Dixie said, looking up. Her face was a morass of tears. "I.. "
Then she coughed
wetly and wiped her nose. "Yes, Craig. I think I need...some
help." she whispered, her face almost
Brice turned on a flashlight and set it upright like a lantern in the grass. "Do
you feel ill?" he asked, taking her wrist into his fingers for a pulse quality check.
just blinked slowly. "Yeah. And more than just a little."
Craig glanced around for the EMTs or
the National Guardsman assigned to the
Mayfair Dixie was leaning against, but they weren't nearby.
"They're on break. This is Mayfair Eight. I made them go on R&R twenty minutes
ago." she replied
"What happened to you just now?" Brice asked, sitting down next to her to look
her pupils with his penlight. "You're borderline shocky."
Dixie turned her head into the sour
smelling night wind and finally blinked. "I was
in a H*ll I thought I had come to terms with."
"A flashback?" he asked, counting her breathing rate with a glance.|
She nodded dully. "I.. think
so. I've....never had one before."
"Can I take your blood pressure? I can grab a kit out of the
asked, gesturing at the ambulance behind them. "I can grab out a bucket, too. You
like you're gonna puke, Miss McCall." He rose to his feet and nimbly jumped
on board without using
the bumper step up.
She groaned. "Oh, why don't you call people by their first names? It's annoying."
"It's not proper I believe, between colleagues. So, can I take a look at you?"
Brice asked. "If
you prefer, I can leave any doctors out of it." he dangled.
"Sure." she smiled weakly. "I know
I can't go back to work yet." she analyzed.
"Not like this. I'd probably kill somebody by making
a wrong decision. Better safe
than sorry. I've been telling that to my EMTs all day."
shouted from the interior cab of the Mayfair where he was fishing around for
things to care for Dixie.
"You told me that, too, when I was a paramedic student."
Dixie scoffed, smiling. "It's good advice."
she chuckled. "I was wondering why I've
been seeming to wear my emotions on a sleeve lately. Think
it's because this
was waiting to hit me?"
"I won't know that.." Craig said, jumping back outside.
"..until I've finished an examination
to rule out any physical causes." He took her arm again. "Feeling
"No, why?" she asked as he was taking her count again.
"Your radial pulse
just disappeared. I think you'd better lie down on top of
this blanket." he said, spreading the one that he
had grabbed out from under his arm.
She sighed impatiently and did as he asked. "Just take it.
I'm fine." she said irritably.
Craig grinned. "Quit being such a real life patient. You're lying
just like they do."
Dixie grabbed the bucket he was offering her and rolled onto her side to fight
some nausea that had been building.
Brice covered her up warmly except for an arm. "What's your
history?" he asked,
starting to take her blood pressure.
"Broken arm. Broken toe.. Ummmm...
I'm still aging and..I've just started menopause."
she said, daring him to comment on the last.
He didn't disappoint her. "That's not so remarkable. With an emergency this size,
I've seen even
guys screaming like girls."
She smacked him with her free hand.
"There we go. That's a
little stronger. And your BP just shot up into the normal
range again. I think your stomach'll follow
in a few seconds, don't you think?" he
asked, shoving his glasses up a little further onto his nose.
Brice laughed, looking up at the stars for a moment or two. "Ah,..You taught
that one. Feel proud."
"I'd feel better if I knew I could get through the next week without
my own brain
betraying me like it just did." she griped. "So what is it?"
"It was eighty over
sixty. Now it's one thirty four.... over ninety."
She knocked the bucket away. "No throwing up for me anymore."|
"Did you tonight?"
was speaking figuratively." she scoffed mildly. "It's what my brain
did to me, mentally a few minutes
ago." Dixie rolled off her side
and onto her back, accepting the coiled towel Brice curved around
the top of her head to conserve some body heat where she lay
under the open sky. "What time is it
anyway?" she asked.
"Almost four a.m. The coldest part of the night." Craig replied, finally
back down onto his butt and folding his hands across his
Dixie wiped some of
the almost-a-blackout sweat off of her
forehead with some fingers. She eyed him up afterwards, seriously.
"Have..have you ever been in my shoes?" she asked, almost timidly.
"Ummm hmm." he nodded. "I've
had flashbacks to some suppressed
memories. And when it first happened, I was a basket case for about
hours. I found I just started crying as I suddenly remembered seventeen
kids who died in
my arms in the ER that I had blocked out in college while
I was working as a nursing assistant in
Burbank. I had to relive those moments
conversation by conversation, word for word, all the smells,
sights, and sounds
of each, until they had passed me by. I didn't know I had even suppressed them
until I experienced the flashback. I was working a ranch in the mountains that
day and..I think
it was triggered by my falling over a lost horse I had been
looking for that I didn't see lying dead
and frozen in the snow. I don't remember
driving home. My mother said I just walked in the door and
curled up onto the
couch without answering any questions. All I remember of that is the fact that
was crying so hard, I had no voice left. My first conscious thought afterwards
was seeing my
mom handing me a cup of hot tea when it was over."
"Wow.." Dixie said. "That's quite a mental
Brice managed to look embarrassed. "Shh. Don't tell anyone. You're doing a
lot better than I did for a first time, suffering a brain vomit. That flashback
actually came three
years after I had left that hospital job. I had just started
going to school to become a firefighter
with the department."
Dixie didn't smile. She was still scared for her own immediate sanity. "Do
to talk to CISM?"
"Critical Incident Stress Management? I don't know. Is the flashback
"No, I only feel like I was just there, emotionally." Dixie explained.
"Then what you do next is entirely up to you. I've done my job. You're not
going to die on me here."
McCall kept looking at the stars, noticing painfully that they still looked beautiful.
"I don't know how to tell anyone. I don't think I could." she whispered.
Craig smiled down
at her, rolling the BP cuff back up to put into its
storage case. "Then you don't need to. Not yet
anyway. My body picked the
time that was right for me when I was ready to handle it. Just remember
thing if you're still afraid of seeing another flashback in the future. The past
you anymore, Dixie. It's over." he shrugged.
McCall smiled broadly, relaxing. "Hey, you used my
"I guess I just did." Craig told her with a shy grin. "I guess that means we've
just crossed the line and have finally become what I call best friends."
"Why? Is it because we
each know a few dirty mental secrets about each other
now?" Dixie giggled mischievously.
it's because we cared enough to share." he replied offering her his canteen
of hot coffee.
Craig." she said after sipping carefully from it.
"Anytime, Miss Mc-- uh, Dixie."
gonna hold you to that." she warned about using her name.
From: patti k (email@example.com)
Fri 10/29/10 8:26 PM
After answering an HT hail out of sight around the
corner of the
Mayfair to keep things quiet for Dixie, Brice carefully eyed up his
first time hospital
staff patient one more time visually, and let out a
big sigh. "So.." Craig began. "Are you going
to take a serious break
or am I going to have to tie you up inside of that blanket?"
didn't answer, her features lax, but peaceful.
Craig frowned. He had only been away from her
for a few seconds.
Brice knelt down at her side and gently gripped her carotid pulse.
It was normal.
Her eyes shot open blearily, already bloodshot. "Hmm?"
Craig smiled. "Autograph
the ground with your outline for six hours
and I won't tag ya." he promised, trying a polite compliance
Dixie's eyebrows rose even though her eyelids didn't. "I'm not
planning on going
anywhere if that's what you mean." she mumbled
"OHHhhhh. Epic lie." chuckled Brice,
pierced to the heart. "You're
acting even more like a patient now."
"Am not." she said, making
a face at him. "But I should get up and
move to the R&R tent, I've still got to turn in my Head of
vest over to--"
"Oh, you mean this work vest?" he asked, holding up the bright
orange plastic shirt with a crooked finger.
Dixie's eyes widened in surprise. She checked her
clothes out by
lifting up the blanket. Her vest was indeed, very gone. She rolled her
exasperation and let the blanket flap she was holding up
drop again. "Feather fingers." she accused,
thinking black thoughts.
"I got it off of you while you were 'dozing'." he explained, drawing
finger quotes in the air around the word. "It was more like dead
to the world on the one to ten scale
of napping." he shared. He changed
tact. "Why not stay here? It's decently out of the wind."
me your canteen of coffee and it's a deal." she said, wiggling
eager gimme fingers at him.
unslung it from over his head and a shoulder and handed it over.
McCall possessively snugged it
under an armpit to benefit from its
still radiant heat, and reclosed her eyes again.
cocked his jaw at that, rose to his feet, crossed his arms, and
just stood there until an eye on
his patient finally peeked open in the hope
that he had already gone. "Nailed. To. The. Earth." he
emphasized to her
with a firmly downward pointing finger.
She stuck her tongue out at him,
but he remained, unwavering.
Dixie finally flipped over and soon after, began snoring softly, for
real, in scant seconds.
Shaking his head ruefully, Craig dropped an already filled out green
triage tag onto a pillow that he had given her that she hadn't had the
faculties to discover
even being there under her head yet. Brice was
convinced of her recovered emotional stability so
he decided to go find
Engine 51 to get recruited. "Might as well." Craig said softly.
gone." he mumbled in amusement. "They probably thought
I'd be on the potentially injured medical
observation list the full twenty
four hours." He was doubly reassured when Dixie let loose a huge
and started rubbing her nose absently inside of a blanket hole that
suddenly opened up to
allow in fresh air.
Whistling without sound, Brice left to hand off the vest to the Chief Medical
Officer and to file his latest report.
On his way, he shushed a noisy, returning group of
firefighters as he
pointed to Dixie's silhouette. They began tiptoeing dutifully past her,
very evident great respect for the plainly exhausted, sleeping nurse.
Ten minutes later, that buffering protective bubble was shredded by
the livid voice of Kel Brackett,
running up the hill. He was dragging
a random first aid gopher by the ear. "The next time you learn
one of my hospital staff makes the triage list, I wanna know about it
sooner than yesterday!"
The man attempted to stutter but Kel had already forgotten him.
shouted worriedly as he came closer to where she
McCall jerked upright in rude awakening,
involuntarily throwing aside
her warm, wooly world inside of the ambulance blanket. "What?!
Her eyes struggled open. "Oh, it's you. I'm
not your hospital staff, Kel, I'm your girlfriend." she
glared, still startled
greatly and quickly growing cranky. "I guess that makes a big difference
in the Kel Brackett worry book department I see. What were you trying
to do? Give me a heart attack?!"
"Oh, honey, I'm so sorry. Are you okay?" he asked, feeling automatically
for a brachial pulse.
He frowned a few seconds after he touched her.
"This is kinda fast."
"Small wonder." she spat.
"So are you?"
"Yes, and--" she broke off. "..no." she replied, suddenly noticing something
on the ground near her. "Look what a paramedic did to me!" she commented,
getting mad when she
recognized Craig's writing on the triage tag that he
had left behind, with her name on it in bold
print, anyway. The bottom half was
missing, already sent to the powers that be.
half was being clutched so tightly in between Dr. Brackett's
fingers, that it was almost a crushed
wad of unrecognizable paper. "Who
was it?" he demanded.
His ire finally got on Dixie's still
delicately unbalanced nerves. "Someone who
took the proper steps, given an acute emergency, a pyschogenic
snapped back, surprising even herself. "Wow, I must be better already. I'm
my staff like usual." she muttered to herself.
"Pyschogenic?" Brackett ansed, fauning over her,
with the doctor part of
him fully forgotten. He gave her a quick hug of reassurance.
Remember the day we met?" McCall asked, wrapping herself
up again in her dropped blanket and his
"How could I forget?"
"Well, apparently, neither could I." she grumbled, her lower
lip quivering. "I
felt completely helpless, Kel." she half sobbed. "And I couldn't stop it."
said, tears welling in her eyes.
Brackett apologized again and fussed with her blanket, pulling it up until|
it veiled her face like
a shawl around her head for maximum warmth. He
snapped his fingers at the long-time-doctor-suffering
orderly who had been
forced to come with him. The man dropped a very full and heavy advanced
support bag down onto the ground right next to Dr. Brackett, only
staggering a little as he did so.
He seemed very glad to be rid of its weight
and out of Kel's direct attention sphere.
unzipped it, reached in, turned something on, and then trailed
a cable and a set of alligator clips
out to Dixie's fingers. "Here, put these on.
Did you lose consciousness?" he asked, worried and hovering
"Kel." McCall groused. "I don't need an EKG.." she snorted.
"Just answer the d*mn*d
question!" he punctuated, no nonsense.
Dixie considered, growing a little disturbed the more
she thought about it.
"Well, I don't know for sure. I can't remember certain parts.." she said
"She was sleeping." said a new voice. It was Craig Brice, rejoining them.
"With all due respect,
sir. You're making enough noise to raise the
dead. The red tags are hearing you." he explained.
"Brice, they don't care! They're too busy being half dead!" yelled Dr.
Brackett. "Are you the paramedic
who gave this to Nurse McCall?" he
asked, holding up the green Triage tag.
blanched a fair shade of white. "Well, uh,..I-"
Kel's hand reached out slowly. "Great job!" the
enthusiastically shaking Brice's palm in vigorous gratitude. "I don't
I'm ever gonna repay you for watching out for such a
stubborn piece of female a--"
blurted out, shocked and embarrassed.
"Well, it's true! You never take care of yourself when it's
especially not when you're sick a--"
"..and DON'T know it?" she glared right back.
Brackett looked about ready to swallow his tongue. "...y-you didn't?.."
he immediately simpered,
in the tiniest voice he had, ansing nervous
Dixie's mouth narrowed into a firm line.
"Brice thinks I had a nasty
first time flashback. And I...I.. think he's right." she finished lamely.
Kel pouted his lips and re-gathered her into a deep hug, finally abandoning
his medical pack's
myriad devices and analyzing gear. "What of? Korea?"
"Did I ever
tell you about that?" Dixie asked, warming her hands in his.
"Only when I dragged it out of you
in the Triage they had set up after the
dam had finished breaking." he replied. Then he looked up.
you can go." he said crisply. "She's not downgrading."
The man melted away in the
night's sea fog instantly.
All three of them did a double take at the speed of his hasty escape.
Dixie lifted up a finger. "Kel. Darling. Have you been abusing the rest
of the staff in my
absence?" she crooned, affectionately dangerous.
"Dix, it's only been about half an hour since
I last saw you!" Brackett roared
"Uh, excuse me, Dr. Brackett, Dixie.. If everything's
well in order.." Brice
began, then he beat an even hastier retreat than the orderly, by becoming
one with the fog, too.
Brackett turned to stare at the girl of his heart thoughtfully. "Did he
call you.. Dixie?" he wondered, pointing in Craig's direction.
"Well, yes. I guess my
Mayfair company training's starting to work. You
know, open door policy in all friendship.." she
said, not meeting his eyes.
"Dix. Shut up. He doesn't work for you, I read the roster."|
"Oh. Sorry." she said, hiding under
"You lie like a carpet!"
"No, I lie like a patient, according to Brice."
corrected the lump.
"Lie down!" he ordered with a ground pointing index finger.
lump flattened out onto its back.
Kel was so mad, he couldn't laugh. At all. "Stop making up crazy
stories to hide the details because I'll only find out about
them from the shrink later on."
"A shrink?!" the lump cried out in protest.
"Tell me about the one I missed or I'm gonna have
to sedate you for
your own good!" Brackett warned. "I can do that. I'm in charge of every
in Triage. Guess who inherited the spot!" he glared, opening up
his white coat, showing her the Head
of Triage vest he had hastily thrown
The lump peeked out, very meekly, and
saw the evidence. Sighing, Dixie
took in a deep breath, uncovered her head, and began telling him
happened from the very beginning; from Moment One, when she had
remembered the memory
suppressed death of her best college friend,
"Kel." said Dr. Morton, tapping him on the shoulder to get his attention,
back in Triage. "Kel.."
he prompted again, tapping harder.
"Hmm?" Brackett acknowledged, looking away from the dry marker
that was surprisingly currently free of hanging red tags and their written
out chief complaints
and vital signs.
"What's the matter with Dixie?" Mike asked, looking as if Kel should have
his mind before he had to even utter the question in the first place.
"I just found out about her
a minute ago from Accounting." he said, holding
up a chit copy of the green triage tag of Dixie's
that had so alarmed Kel
"She's fine." Brackett shrugged, still studying the board.
"What do you mean she's fine?!" Morton gruffed. "You can't make a solid
enough diagnosis off a
triage tag. These are just paramedic notes!"
Brackett merely smirked, and then he corrected his
admirably fiery colleague.
"Mike, calm down. Those are Brice's notes. Have you ever found him to
wrong about a patient's diagnosis before? About any patient's? Ever?"
"Oh. Well,.." Mike
said, cowed and muttering under his breath. "The
answer's--." he said reluctantly. He faintly shook
his head from side to side.
"What did you say? I can't hear you." asked Brackett, cupping an ear
"The answer's no!" Mike finally fessed up.
Brackett was good enough
not to rub it in any farther. He merely beamed.
"To answer your question, Nurse McCall will be fine
after getting in a
good measure of sleep. I left her where she was. She seemed comfortable
Now..," he said, turning back to the triage patient board. "Where
were we?" he asked, rubbing his
"About to panic."
"Why-- what now?" Kel asked, finally paying Dr. Morton
his full undivided
"Kel, I've just heard from the fire department dispatcher. There's
set of waves on the way in."
"When are they gonna hit?"
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