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Within Sight
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        Page  Ten

They fell back against something smooth, and
cool.. "The pole! Ben, we've got to climb up."

"I can't.. I'm too....*cough*  ...weak.."

"Come on, you've got to try..!"

"Wait.. Jeremy,.. the bell.." Ben exclaimed, his
cataract cloudy eyes getting wider.

"What? You're not making any sense, Ben,
just climb.. Pleas-se..." the boy sobbed
pulling on Old Ben's arm where he lay
against the fire pole.

"No, listen to me, boy. I know what I'm talking
about..*choke* Get on my shoulders.."


"Just do it. I'm going to lift you up and you
are going to ring the bell.. Just pull the string.
L.A. will hear us. Remember, I repaired the

Jeremy cried out as the old man shoved him
up the pole. Inch by inch, the boy's fingers
got closer to the satin rope. Then ...they...
reached and Jeremy found that he had just
enough strength to pull it down .


A ball of fire landed against the wall in the
pole space above his head, incinerating the
bell's rope instantly.

"No, you don't! I like to see my burns through
to completion if you don't mind." challenged

Screaming, Jeremy patted out the flames in
both his and Ben's hair as they both tumbled
back down to the stoney floor. Scrambling,
Jeremy knelt by his friend's ear. "It's ok, it's ok,
Ben, I put it out.. Get up.. Get up!.. I thought of
something else.. You've got to make it to my
dad's office. Get to the red door..It leads into
the yard..  *gasp*  Go, Ben, they'll find you...!"  

"A fireman never leaves his v----" But Old Ben
started coughing violently in the heavy smoke.

"Just go!  Back the way we came.
I'll try to draw him off!" Jeremy scrambled
away from Ben and then back up the scalding brass
pole. Half way up, he swung over to the flaming,
disintegrating stairwell and up into the bunkloft at
the top without a second glance back.

When Ben got his wind back, he opened
his eyes. He found that Jeremy was no
longer at his side. "Jeremy!" he called out.

Seconds later, the flames crawled too close
for him to continue to look for the boy and
Old Ben was forced to drag himself into
the office despite what he wished.

Once, there, to his horror, he found that
Jeremy's plan for quick escape, would
never hold any water.  

Torch had bolted the outer door with chains
and padlocks.....from the inside.

Hot, breathless and scorched, the exhausted
ex-firefighter began to pound frantically on the
door but Old Ben soon blacked out onto the
floor and his body rolled limply against the metal
of the barricaded door.  


At L.A. headquarters, Sam Lanier saw a light
go on that he hadn't seen in seven years.
::What th? It's old station nine.:: He thought.
::That's an in-house emergency signal coming
from the mainpole's bell box..:

His mind flashed back to the night of the earthquake
when a fire captain by the name of Conners had
rung the very same bell ....for the last time.

By their own volition, his fingers toggled the
tone call of the station nearest that area.


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##Station 51. Truck 127, Batallion 14. Automated Fire Call.
2049 East 223rd Street. Cross street, Wilmington Ave.
2049 East 223rd Street. Cross street, Wilmington Ave.
Time out :  18:26.##     (Get where this is? :) )

"That's d*mned peculiar.." Cap exclaimed, recognizing
the location. "Say Lopez, isn't that the firehouse that
came down in the quake of--"

"Sure is, Cap.."

"Let's go.."

Victoria rose in her seat. "Oh, no. Not there."

"What's wrong, Vic? This is probably just a milk
run. Sometimes the wires beneath the old
buildings in that neighborhood, get cross
connected and the random power surges do
some pretty strange things." Stoker told her.

"No, no no. You don't understand. That's where
Jeremy Conners' father died. Tonight is the seventh
anniversary of his death.."

Mike Stoker whirled towards Victoria as the guys
rolled out top speed in the engine and squad.


Jeremy remembered leaving behind the fire
and the heat. He only had focus enough, to find

Rats ran frantically across the floor of the second story
bunkhouse and in many places, the floor was rotting
and unsafe. But Jeremy knew where the solid
timbers were and he leaped across to them nimbly.

He didn't speak, knowing that any noise from him
could be lethal. Torch's personality always digressed
far beyond sanity while he was attending a burn.

Soon, Jeremy reached the place he wanted. Bunk
Ten, his father's. The mattress was gone, but the
coils were still half woven into the bedframe.
The boy quietly paced three floor boards at its foot,
avoiding the fourth and leaped the rest of the way
to the bed.

Determined, Jeremy got up on the rusty bed springs
and started jumping up and down, cheering at the
top of his lungs.

Soon, Torch's voice filtered through the dark.
"Why are you jumping for joy, kid?
Don't you know that I'm going to finish y--"

"Yayyy! He's dead and I did it.." said Jeremy,
fiercely, bouncing closer until he was at the foot
of the bed nearest Torch.  The whole time,
Jeremy never ceased jumping.

"What?" Torch blinked, shifting a lit fire
bottle into his other hand.

Jeremy felt his breath rattle thinly in his
chest as he made his dry lips move.
"That old man. I burned him. Burned him
good..." he hissed, dropping to his hands
and knees, to laugh openly.

That halted Torch, cold. His face fell from
murderous intent to one of confusion...
Then Torch's toothless face split into a wide
grin that came slowly and he said.
"Well, all right. Didn't know you had it in
you, Red." and he blew out the fire bomb
in his grip.

Jeremy watched the rebel walk closer across
the squeaking fungus ridden boards,
nearer and nearer to bed number ten.

"Well, this changes everything, Red. Welcome
to the gang. You passed my test. Put it there, man..."
Torch said, taking another step forward towards
Jeremy on the bedsprings.

The boy looked up and saw a leather glove approaching,
offering a hand shake to him just inches away from
his face.


The fourth floor board snapped and gave
way, dropping Torch into the heart
of the blazing inferno roaring through the
main garage below. The flames' fury
cut off any possible sound he could have
made while falling, instantly.

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Jeremy's face suddenly twisted and
his eyes watered with hot tears, completely
blinding him. He felt a moan form in his throat,
but the boy who was Jeremy Conners no longer
cared about communicating. Somewhere deep
inside he was deathly afraid that he no longer had
the will to try and make it back down to Old
Ben in the Cap's office.

Heart and mind in pain, Jeremy collapsed on
the wired bedframe, begging his memory to
offer up the familiar image of his father,
Captain Conners, before it was too late.

"Dad, " he sighed.. "..get me out of here....."
Jeremy shivered and then his head began to
sink lower and lower from the dwindling supply
of breathable air.

The angry fire that had killed Torch, the gang leader,
rose through the hole in the floor, rearing up over
the bed frame where Jeremy Conners had
suddenly fallen very still.


"Marco, Charlie, Roy, John, string two inch and a halfs
and cover the west side. And be careful. Looks like
another gang related torch job. There's a Harley
in front." Cap shouted.

Then he lifted his HT.##L.A. we have a fully involved
brick and wood two story structure. Advise the power
company to kill the electricity to our one block

"Really?" Gage said as he hurried by.

Cap grinned. "Yeah, saw a spark on the power pole
over there. Looks like some half wit's jury rigged
a line into the old firehouse itself. Gage spread
the word. I want everyone in full SCBA."

"Right, Cap."

Hank Stanley saw the mess the blaze had already
made of the old gallant fire station. Already the
main tower was crumbling to pieces in a rain of
ash and sparks. Again his HT met his mouth,
##Truck 127, cover the south side. Protect
that direct exposure. Battalion Fourteen. Cover the
cross street drive and set up your command post

Hank heard the hail of 10-4's reply back to his orders.

Then he saw a very quiet Chet standing in front of
the pumper panel off Old Red. "Well, pal. Here's your
chance to shine.. Think you remember everything?"

Chet was watching the fire with a fascinated horror.
"I sure do. Mike didn't let me sleep last night at all
'cause he was quizzing me so hard. "

"All right, then. Have at it. Look sharp for
problem spots. Oh, and for look for any arsonists,
too. They usually panic and bail out in the
worst possible place for it."

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Chet nodded numbly. Then he turned back to
his chemical dials and water guages. "Man, this
is humbling.. " he said to himself. "I literally have
the lives of the hose team crew in my hands.."

"Yeah, well don't let that get to your head, Chet.."
Roy grinned, jogging by with the K-12. The blond haired
fireman already had on his air bottle.

"Believe me, I have a healthy respect for Stoker's
position from here on out."

Roy chuckled. Then he shouted.


"Johnny and I are going in through that red door
right there. Looks like the fire hasn't broken through
to that room yet.."

Cap eyeballed the door Roy was pointing to.

"Sounds like a plan.. Good spot to start
gutting the building. Have at it." he nodded.

Roy waved at Johnny to follow him up with Marco
on a covering hose and he put on his mask.

"This looks good.." he mumbled as he set the blade
into the door about waist high. He cut around the
horizontal bar, creating a football sized hole
in under a minute.
Then he reached inside and tried to lift the door's
latch from the interior. It didn't budge.

Grunting, he took off his glove and tried again,
feeling around for the reason why
his cutting didn't work. He shifted around to use his
other hand when he was shocked to find a smear of
red on his skin.. ::That's blood..::  He pulled off
his mask and peered through the window.
"Hey, is anybody in there?!" He looked down
and saw Old Ben lying on the ground. He
had bloodied his hands trying to claw his way to
air. "Marco, Johnny! On the double. We've a
victim in here!!"

Marco dropped the hose and came pelting
with the haligan..

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Victoria took full advantage of Mike's status
as a firefighter to get under the fire lines
nearest the scene. She pulled up her green
Matador on a safe part of the street and
quickly led Stoker to his captain's side.

Barking, Boot also jumped out of the car's
open window and ran with them.

Mike Stoker immediately told Victoria to
leave Boot with Hank and to wait by the
car for news of Jeremy.


"It's too dangerous. You don't know how to
keep safe this close to a fire."

"Boot can show me h--"

"No he can't. He'll be working, watching
the guys in case they run into trouble. He's
also on alert for any potential victims
shouting from the windows. "

"But Jeremy's still in there!" she wailed.

"Hey, now. We don't know that for a
fact." Mike said firmly.

Just then, Boot bounded across the burning
boards and hissing water puddles left over
from Truck 127's water shield, making a
beeline for Roy's hacked open door.

"They've found someone!!" Victoria shouted.

Mike had the good sense to keep his grip
tight on her shoulders because soon after,
she fought him. "It's my father, Mike! Oh
my G*d!"

"Stay put, Vic. They'll be bringing him here."

Sure enough, Johnny and Roy ran with Old
Ben, arm-draped between them, towards
the rescue squad.

"They're coming!" Vic said.

Mike shouted. "Cap!!.. Roy and Johnny got a man
out of there.."

Cap left his place by the engine and grabbed the
medical gear and 02 tank from the squad's hold.

Gage looked up as he carefully lowered Old Ben
to the ground. "Thanks, Cap. We can take it
from here."

"Keep me posted.." And Hank disappeared into
the darkness.

Vic tore away from Mike and hurried to Ben's
side. "How is he? Oh, please.." she sobbed,
afraid to touch him.

"He's gonna be fine. Looks like all he needs is
some 02." Roy said.

Old Ben started to moan as the fresh air
outside revived him. "Get...Jer--"

"What?" Johnny asked Ben. "Now just
lie still." he ordered. But Ben wouldn't.
He still seemed to be struggling to talk.
Gage bent close to make out Ben's words.
"Just keeping breathing in this oxygen..It'll
help ya focus. Now.. what is it that's so
important to tell us?"

Ben fought Gage's hands, shoving the mask
aside with bloody fingers. "Get him out..
Up....pole.." he gasped.

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"Ok, ok, ok.. Just lie back down and
take it easy... Cap!!" Johnny hollered.
"We've got another victim in there..
This man says he's on the second floor."

"I'm on it.." And Hank waved two from Truck
127's crew to gear up for an exploratory.

Just then the whole front of the firehouse
came tumbling down towards the row of
water spraying firetrucks and Victoria.

A loose stone struck her and she went down.

"Victoria??" Roy shouted. Johnny and Roy
rushed over to check her out as fast as
they could.

Chet could only watch hopelessly.

"What happened?" Mike demanded.

"Wall collapse. Victoria took a brick
to the side of her head." Roy said.

"She ok?"

"We don't know yet.."

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              Click Engine Dials to go to Page Eleven :)

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Within Sight
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