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      Shadows Of
    The Past
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          Page  Two

Johnny tried desperately to regain an open path
but failed.  He withdrew his hand and stood,
lifting Mary's hips higher onto the pillows. He began
pushing on Mary's lower abdomen gently, firmly around
the contraction, until he felt the baby internally slide
backwards through Mary's skin.

The pulse returned into the loop of birthing
cord that he could see.

He peeled off his now dirty gloves and put on
another sterile pair before he reached in and
regained a hasty path to the outside for the baby
to breathe in. He no longer felt the tiny hiccups
in the baby's neck. "Baby's quieter Roy. No
movement. But the cord pulse's back."

He nodded getting a new BP on Mary.
"It's down. 90/52. Something's changing."

"Not from here. There's still no blood."

Right then the Sheriff burst through the door
with Nicola, peeking his head through. "I was
in the kitchen. That was the Doc. He's on
his way."  He paled when he saw Mary
lying so silent with sweat covering her features.

"How far away?" Johnny grunted, keeping the
tenuous length of space over the cord so
it wouldn't be sealed off again.

"Stephen's Road." Bittner mumbled, staring in

"That's two minutes away.." Nicola added, her
sculpted face equally stunned as Blaine's. "Oh, and
I forgot to tell you, Mary's a diabetic.."

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"What?!" Gage said, glancing up at Sommers sharply.

Roy and Johnny and Cap saw a pair of hands drag
the two speechless Santa Rosa citizens back out
of the bedroom and the door quickly closed shut again.

::That's a little medical history a little too late. Good riddance.
Last thing we need is another pair of fainters. Thank you Marco,
Mike and Chet.:: Gage thought. "Smell anything on her, Cap?
Any ketosis?"

Hank bent low, lifting the moaning mother's 02 mask
and he sniffed lightly. "No.. her breath's not sweet."

"Hypoglycemia?" Johnny said looking at Roy.

"Most likely."DeSoto said, looking at Mary's
eyes under a penlight."She's working pretty hard here."

"Yeah, and she's too out to give her any oral glucose
paste. Where's the Doc when you need him?" Gage
said sarcastically, eyeing up all the IV bags and needles
that they presently didn't have the authorization to use.

Roy's hand reached for a bag of Ringer's and tubing,
and a glucagon syringe.

"Roy, don't. We can't.. Not yet.."

DeSoto had almost touched them when the bedroom door
flew open to reveal Doctor Frick himself, covered in blood.

Roy snatched up the bags in a quick report. "Diabetic.
Prolapse on the baby. Fetal heartbeat's up to 170. Hers
is at 140. Real tachy. Her LOC's dropped 4 Glasgow
points and the baby's quit moving.. What happened to you?"
he added, eyeing up the doc's soiled sweatshirt.

Dr. Frick said."IV Ringer's one arm TKO.  500 ml
of an IV D5W on the other at 200 mls an hour
and give her all of that glucagon in a push. Another
little boy got worked over by the pack of feral dogs
Nicola and the Sheriff have been trying to hunt down.
He's gonna live. I got him in the living room being
watched by your firefighter friends out there on
an oxygen tank."

"Feral dogs?" Cap asked. "Is that what we were
hearing last night?" he asked in horror.

"Yes. We've been hearing them every night." Doc Frick
said gloving up rapidly and he kneeled next to Johnny.
"What do you got?" the long haired hippy like
moustached doctor asked Gage.

"Prolapse, four minutes old. Lost a pulse in the
cord once. Felt the baby attempt respirations but
now I can't feel anything. Not one twitch since
that happened about two minutes ago."

"All right. Getting tired? We can trade off. You
can hand me supplies as I need them." said Frick.

Johnny unencumbered and stood back, peeling off
his body fluid slick gloves and trading them
for a third clean pair.

"Ok,.. Both IV's and the glucagon is in, doc.
I've marked down the time and rate on the bags"
Roy said.

"She's an insulin dependent diabetic, fellas.
Most likely, she skipped lunch for being excited
about this being another birthday. That injection
and the IV's will bring her around shortly."
The doc took his place maintaining the baby's
birth canal and cord integrity. Then he reached in
more fingers. "Got the baby's chin." and he reached
in a tip of a pinky into the baby's mouth. Immediately,
he felt sucking. A huge smile erupted from his face.
"We got ourselves a fighter! Roy, get a new fetal heart
rate for me, would you?"

From the bed came.. "A fighter?. " said Mrs. Caine
weakily as she recovered from her blackout. "I thought
you said my baby was a dancer.." she smiled..

"Yeah well one's just as good as the other.."
Johnny smiled right back at her. "Feel like some
pushing? The doc's here."

"Oh, is he?" Mary asked around Cap's hands
cradling her face to help her breathe easier.
"Anytime. I wanna surprise Jack when he gets...

Roy announced. "Doc, the rate's 220 on the baby."
he said urgently.

"Here we go.." Doc Frick said, gently pulling as
the baby's head advanced, until it had emerged
into the open to the neck. Johnny rapidly suctioned
out the tiny baby's nose and mouth with the bulb.

The doc pulled another loop of cord he discovered
from around the baby's neck with a couple of fingers.
He frowned when he didn't find it beating.

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"Roy, there's nothing now." he whispered without
sound about a pulse rate. Then aloud he said.
"Mary..pant now and don't push anymore.. We have to
let the baby's head rotate around for delivery. Won't take

"....*gasp*...kay.. Just say ......when.." she groaned.

A minute went by before another powerful contraction
spun Mary's child into the proper position. Frick's eyes
jerked over to the resuscitation gear and then at Roy in
a subtle hint to get ready for some new trouble.

DeSoto rose and got things ready.

The baby's face had turned blue.

"Ok, Mary. Push.. Push as hard as you can!" Frick
urged. Cap let Mrs. Caine use his chest as a support
and he held her up as she strained one last time in
a supreme effort to finish the job.

The baby's shoulders came easily with a lift and shove
from side to side by the doctor. The baby's limp body
slid out of Mary in a rush of fluid onto the bed. "It's a boy
Mary! Nice job.." Johnny said, forcing a smile onto his face.

"How is he?" she panted. "Can I see him?" she said
through her O2 mask as Cap eased her back down onto
her back.

Again there was more suctioning. Gage quickly threaded
in an infant airway as Roy attached a neonate ambu bag to the
end of it.  They both clamped off the cord with two clips as
the doc checked for a baby's pulse quickly with a stethoscope.

"Got one." Frick said at last.
"He needs only those vents. Turn the O2 to 100%
and hyperventilate him until he pinks up Roy.  I think
your son only needs a little brisk encouragement, Mrs. Caine.
Give us a minute to cut the cord." Frick said."What's your new
son's name gonna be, Mary?"

"Darren. Darren Joseph Caine." she sighed.

"That's a wonderful name. Same first name as my grandfather's."
he said, snipping the cord in two between the clamps.
"Now, how  are you feeling? Your blood sugar got a little low there
at the end."

"Perfect.." Mary said muzzily, drifting into a happy sleep.

"Well so is he..." Hank grinned. "He's got all his fingers and toes
so rest easy. We'll stay to watch over you until the ambulance

Tiny puffs of Roy's pure oxygen into Darren's lungs from the ambu
finally drove away the deep blue from the baby's face, trunk
and limbs. He actively began to thrash his arms and
legs, gurgling, entirely flushed a healthy reddish pink.

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Doc Frick tugged out the airway and drained Darren's
lungs of their remaining fluids. Soon, the baby's back was slapped
as he hung by the ankles and that brought a thin powerful cry
out the gaping mouth. "That's more like it. Apgar 2 to
a 10. Welcome to Santa Rosa County, Darren Joseph."

And the baby wailed anew when a great peal of thunder
crashed just outside the Caine house as he was laid
across his mother's breast in a cocoon of warm white

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From :  patti keiper <>
Sent :  Saturday, June 26, 2004 2:17 AM
Subject :  Guess Who's Coming For Dinner?

Sheriff Bittner was on the phone again, trying to
get an ETA of the ambulance long overdue to arrive at
the Caine house.  His voice was growing in volume and frustration
when he learned from Mable the switch board operator, that
the storm warning had elevated to flash flood warning. "I don't
care WHAT it takes to get them here, Mable. Just do it.
I have a badly injured child now that the doc brought in
as well as Mary and soon, her new baby, and they can't be delayed!
No sirree. Now get on it and call when you get through to
them.".. his pudgy flushed cheek twitched when he got
another wail of panic from Mable. Blaine toned down his voice
to a quiet calm level and he added."Maybe you can call up one of those
new fangled helibirds from the southern counties to make a flight up here
when the weather clears. Now I've got to go. The doc and
the good fire boys who came with us need me. Do the best you
can." and he clicked the phone down onto its receiver.


Out in the living room, Chet Kelly, Marco
Lopez, Mike Stoker and the resort owner Nicola Sommers were
all clustered around the small boy that Dr. Frick had entrusted to
their care.

He was stretched out on the couch on his back and his arms and
neck were liberally wrapped in ace wraps and kerlix. Kelly was making
sure that the oxygen he wore still flowed from the small tank at his feet.
Marco was busy wrapping the rain soaked boy snuggly in afghans.
Stoker was taking a pulse on the boy while he slept with his father seated
by his head.

The man was upset and talking, twisting the hem of the quilt covering
his son in barely contained anger. "I told Aaron not to go to the
swimming hole until the Sheriff said those pack dogs were all trapped and
killed. He knows better! As soon as the storm breaks, I swear to
G*d that I'm going to go out and put a bullet between the eyes of every
snarling mongrel I run into. Look what they've done to him!" he

Nicola rose from her crouch. She had been making sure that Aaron's
pressure dressings were still tight and controlling his bleeding.
"Mr. Johnson, calm down. Now I made a promise to this town and to the
Sheriff that I'd do everything possible to make these woods safe again
for our kids. And I absolutely mean to do that. But a hunt of this size takes
time, .." she said empathetically spreading her hands wide, "...resources.."
We're going to have to do it Bittner's way or soon there will be more than
just our town's children getting maimed out there. Stealth is the answer,
Nate, quiet stealth. These are DOGS going wild out there, not wolves or
coyotes! They most likely KNOW about people and how to avoid
traditional hunters."

"Yeah? Well that's not good enough Ms. Sommers.. Just how many
little boys have to get shredded like my son here to prove to you
and Blaine that this little domestic wildlife problem's a little more than  
just an isolated incident?!" said the angry father.

There came a moan from the couch. "Daddy?.." said Aaron sleepily.
"Are ..are they really gone? I'm so scared.." and the boy started
crying. "My arms and neck hurt so bad." he sobbed.

Nate Johnson leaned down and cradled his eight year old son and
kissed his forehead. "Shhh. Easy Aaron. The doc will be right out
to give you medicine to make that pain go away. I promise, but right
now he's a little busy with...."

A slap and then the cry of a baby came through the bedroom door that
everyone could hear audibly.. Smack! " Wahhh....*gasp*  WahhhHHHHhh!"

"Now that's more like it..." celebrated Sheriff Bittner as he returned
to the living room. "I tell you the Caines always have fine strong
children when they have a mind to.. Hehe." he chuckled.

Everyone's faces lit up with joyful smiles. Included Mr. Johnson's.
"Do you hear that son? Mary's baby's finally here. Just think. In
a few days, we can invite the Caines over for dinner and ..and
then you can get start to get to know another future playmate.
How does that sound?"

But Aaron was beyond consoling. His terror from the feral dog
attack was still very fresh in his mind. He didn't open his eyes
and he began to tremble. Marco Lopez rose to start a fire
in the Caine's wood stove.

Nate stroked his son's forehead and didn't care when the rain
water from his hair mingled with his tears as he let loose
all his emotions quietly.

Bittner observed Nate and silently motioned to Nicola to join
him at his side. She did, grabbing a sweater and
jeans to slide on over her skirt and plaid top that
she had grabbed from her hastily snatched backpack on the
way into the house earlier. Blaine's face was grave.
"The ambulance might be delayed. Now we're gonna haveta
figure out a way to get all these folks outta here and into town
so the boy can get the surgery the doc says he'll need
to repair his injuries."

"Sheriff, just how bad is the weather out there?" she
asked softly.

"Bad enough. The valley lowlands are most likely to be flooded
out. Probably already are. Mable mentioned warnings of the type."

Nicola threw her head up in frustration after pulling on
the thick woolen sweater over her head. "If only we were
at my resort. I've plenty of survival gear and a solid Power Wagon."

Blaine chuckled. "That's my girl. That's why you make such a
good sworn deputy. Always the provider.."

"Well, I'm not providing enough. Blaine, the boy's border line
shocky according to what we've found. If the doc medicates
him, he's not going to be in any shape to go anywhere." she

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A new voice spoke up from the living room door. "He'll be ready,
Ms. Sommers. " said a newly shirt changed Doc Frick. "I'm
going to start an IV on Aaron right now since my first priority's
been taken care of.. It's a boy..." he said aloud to the room.

Again smiles and celebration filled the air.

"How's he doing?" asked Sheriff Bittner with undisguised glee.

"Terrific. He's a big strapping example of the solid Caine family line."
Frick said proudly." I wouldn't be surprised if he tips the scale
at over nine pounds when we finally get a chance to weigh him."

"Mary?" Nicola asked.

"No complications. At least not birth wise. She became hypoglycemic
because of all of her labor but a good hot meal should take care of that."
Frick admitted.

"Looks like I'll get a chance to fix one, Doc. We may be stranded. The
storm's gonna flood the area up to our eyeballs.." Ms. Sommers said

The doctor's face fell into concern. "Really? I thought this was just
a little downpour."

"Of biblical proportions according to Mable.." Blaine huffed.

"Ok.. uh... I'll get started making Aaron more comfortable right now."
Frick said, scratching his hippy beard absently.

Johnny Gage and Cap quietly crept out of the bedroom and closed
the door behind them.

"I'll go get dinner on." Nicola said, eyeing up the black iron stove
and antique kitchette across the room where they stood.

"I'll help." Stoker volunteered. "Doc, his pulse's been in the 120's
the last few minutes. But that might be because he's still upset."


"Stoker. Fireman Mike Stoker. Nice to finally meet you. Gage
and DeSoto have told me all about you.." he said secretly,
with a wink and he took Doc Frick's hand up in greeting
for a second before joining Nicola huddled inside the frig.

Doc blinked briefly."Looks like my reputation's preceded
myself again I guess. I'll be glad to tell you the REAL stories
Mr. Stoker. Later. Just to set the records straight."

Gage paced over to the Doc's side. "Do you want me
to start Aaron's IV? Roy says Mary's just about delivered
the baby's placenta."

"Yeah, go ahead. I'll go draw up his Versed for an IV push.
It'll be better than MS if we're going to be packing it out
of here."

"We are?" Johnny startled.

"Yeah..Flashflood's due any hour now. The roads might
wash out before the ambulance gets here." Frick said, with

"Marvelous.. Now I know why I moved to L.A." Gage admitted.

"Why, because of those wonderful ripping Santa Ana
winds you guys suffer every summer?" Frick asked wryly.

"No, because of the lack of Noah's flood coming every spring
like it seems to do up here." Johnny rejoined.

Hank Stanley couldn't help but overhear. He frowned.
Then he turned and got the other firemen's attentions.
"Gang. Go turn the rover around and unload all
the camp gear we got in it. That'll be our
backup ambulance if they aren't here within the hour."

"Right, Cap." Marco said, motioning to Kelly go
come with him for a fast dash outside to get
the white vehicle set for travel. Then he turned to
the doctor. "Will the baby be all right in all this

"He'll be fine. We can offset any further breathing
trouble he might have by making an incubator out
of a dresser drawer and a dry cleaner's plastic bag
with an O2 tank. Roy's keeping tabs on his
condition while Mary finishes up with the afterbirth."

"Want that too?" Gage piped up.

"Yeah, it'll make Mary's ob gyn exam later easier.
I want to make sure she's got through delivery as well
as I think she did."

"ok, I'll take care of it after I get to Aaron."

"Good deal." Cap said.

Hank waited by the door until a soaking Kelly
and Lopez returned from outside.

"Man, it's raining torrents now." Chet said,
shaking off rivers of water from a raincoat he
had thrown on from the rover. "Johnny I brought
this coat and your spare for Mary and Aaron if
we need em getting out to the truck and we
parked it at the head of the driveway."

"Thanks, Kelly." Johnny said, hanging up the
I.V. he had begun on the dozing boy onto the
edge of a lampshade above his head. "Doc,
all set for ya."

Doc Frick kneeled to give the boy the medication.
"Nate. This isn't a sedative. This will simply help
Aaron,....not remember his discomfort as soon
as he feels it."

"Thanks, Doc. I appreciate it." Mr. Johnson said.
His eyes were dry and he was calmer now that
a plan of action had been formulated.

"Gage." Frick said.


"Mark down.." and he looked at his watch.
".03 mgs Versed into that D5W at 16:09 hours.
After his drip runs in an initial 20cc's bolus,  
turn it TKO. He only lost around 300 cc's blood
from his bites before I bound them up. None had
arterial damage. Have a Ringer's on standby piggy back
if his pressure drops below 80 systolic. No need
for a survey. I already know his history."

"Right." Johnny said, using one of his green pens
that never left his side. He grinned at the luxury
of having a live doctor at hand instead of just a voice
on a phone. "You'll be fine, Aaron. Just give that
medication a chance to work it's magic." he
said to the child.

Aaron Johnson sighed in his sleep and rolled over
a little deeper into his pile of blankets. Nate began to snore,
too, from where his head drooped onto his chest in an armchair.

Gage rose and began to pack up all the
sheriff's medical gear to take with them.
::I sure hope we don't have to rely on that
ambulance. The rover's far far better at roughing it.::

The thunder booming around them began to recede,
with a drenching solid rain taking its place. Nothing could
be seen outside the windows.

Image of cottagefront.jpg Image of hippy.jpg
Then the sounds of howls and clicking, pacing claws
on the wood walkboards outside the house, began.

"Oh, no.." Nicola said from where she froze by the stove.
A snarling doberman was glaring at her through the window.
"Looks like we have company for dinner."  

Date: Sat, 26 Jun 2004 16:03:54 -0700 (PDT)
From: "Sam Iam" <>  
Subject:  Tooth and Nail

"Dag nabbed varmit!" shouted Sheriff Bittner angrily.
"I knew I should have shot the blood hound in
the pack when I had the chance! "

Nate Johnson sat bolt upright in his chair, wrenched
from sleep from a dog's impact on the wall
behind his head. "Aghh! Aaron?" He was horrified by the
snarling dogs milling around outside. The man picked up
a fire place poker to stand over his son nervously.

Nicola addressed Blaine's comment. "How do you mean?
Why didn't you?"

"I wasn't sure if he was Elmer Rackett's dog sent out
to work out a quail that night or not. I couldn't tell. It was too dark."

That disturbed the whole gang. Even Roy came out
of the bedroom, pulling the door open from where
Mary was nursing her newborn baby. He was immediately
drawn by the look of remorseful regret on the sheriff's face.

"Blood hounds never lose a scent. They've tracked the
boy here." Sheriff Bittner said, drawing out his pistol.

Sure enough, the dogs excited barking was punctuated
with the baying of a coon hound announcing that
he was locked on.

"That one must be the alpha male now." Nicola said.
"I shot the old alpha, a pitbull, who attacked the first town boy,
a few days ago." Her face twisted in anxiety. "I..I..thought our
problems were ended after I did that. Feral packs always
disband and die off once they lose their leader. They
don't have the same survival instincts to save themselves
like wolves do."  Her eyes fell on Aaron, lying awake now,
and terrified under his oxygen mask. "I'm so sorry.."
Ms. Sommers whispered, tears filling her eyes.

Nate Johnson rose nervously and immediately went to the
woman's side. "It's not your fault. No one could have predicted
this." and he caressed her arm in forgiveness.

Roy hushed Mary with a gesture when she began to
ask a question. "Cap. What's going on?"

"Remember that lovely chorus of supposed coyotes we were
serenaded by last night?" Hank asked wryly.

"Yeah. They ruined all of our sleeping."

"They weren't harmless coyotes. They're dogs gone
wild. Little Aaron here was their latest target. And
now they're here to try and finish the job." Cap said
low and tense.

"Not if I can help it." Bittner said from where he was
watching the door. "We've got protection." and he hefted
his gun.

Nicola scoffed, rubbing chilled arms around herself, through
her sweater. "Oh, please.. with six bullets? We don't know
how many of them are out there."

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"Easy way to find out." Chet Kelly piped up. He turned
towards the bedroom where Mrs. Caine lay on her bed.
"Excuse me, maam?" he asked from where he could
see her. He dipped his head. "Uh, congratulations about
the baby." he broke off, uncomfortable with bothering
the exhausted new mother.

Mrs. Caine nodded, encouraging him to go on with
his question even as she hugged Darren to herself  
tighter as her fear grew.

"Do you have an attic upstairs?" Chet went on.


"May we go up there to look around?" he asked.

"You don't have to ask me for anything, sir.
Do what you must. Keep my baby safe." she

Kelly turned to Cap, who still hadn't put two and two together
yet. "We can open the upper story window and get
on the roof to see how many there are. I know there's one
over the half roof because I saw it when we got here.
Maybe we can even secure the sheriff out there with ropes
so he can shoot down a couple. Might scare the rest off."

"Bound to be slippery." Cap said.

"I'm willin to risk it." Blaine replied instantly.

Hank angled his jaw, nodding the more and more
he mulled it over. Then the rising din coming from
the scratching, digging, hunting pack made up his
mind for him. "Lopez help the Doc get Mary and Aaron set to
move. Gage, Stoker, Kelly, come with me and we'll get things
started in the attic. We don't want them still out there
when those ambulance attendants arrive. In fact, we're
no longer gonna wait. Bittner can radio town to cancel the call.
We'll take them out ourselves. It's too dangerous
here now with those animals and all the localized flooding
going on."

"Right." they answered.

The five men ran up the wooden stairs as fast as
they could go with the sheriff hastily loading his gun.

"Nicola? Would you get the baby into that drawer incubator
the doc talked about.." Gage said as he rushed after

"I sure will." she said, untying her apron and turning off
the stove. She hurried into the bedroom to join Roy
at Mrs. Caine's side. "I know my way around medical gear so
maybe I can help out that way, too." she told DeSoto.

Roy nodded. "Now, first things first. We have to get
both of them in as many warm clothes as possible."

Doctor Frick did likewise with his patients in the
living room to get ready to flee with Aaron and Mr. Johnson.


"Easy now! We got ya.." Gage grunted as he, Cap, Kelly
and Stoker hung onto the makeshift line holding the sheriff
fast on his feet on the rain streaming roof. The sheriff was
soaked and bedraggled but his aiming eye was true.

He soon ended the life of the questing blood hound in
a second. The gang winced at the yelp that echoed up
to them. Bittner's face was grim. "I got five shots left.
Let me watch them for a while to figure out who are
the aggressive leader types. If I get them, the rest'll run."

Hank nodded. "Take your time. We can hold you all day."

"I know ya can.." Bittner said with confidence and an
undisguised affection for the firefighters. "I've read all
about the kind of training you guys do down in the big city."

The gang watched, uneasy, as the sheriff started assessing
the pack's members. "See that greyhound? She big, but shy.
Her tail's down. She's a follower. Now that German Shepard,
he's been wild a while, his coat's full of burrs and it's patchy
from a fire. Hasn't been one here since last winter. The huskies
are new. They're still wearing their collars. They're no threat and
just along for the game. Probably joined up with the rest of them
this morning. Now there's one. See her boys? That great big
black dane's rallying them."

Image of dogpack.jpg Image of rosajohnaskclose.jpg

He began to squeeze the trigger with the snarling dog in his
sites who had locked eyes on him. A mat of shingle moss gave way
under Bittner's right foot and he went down, his shot going wild,
and he skidded over the edge of the roof. The milling dogs converged
into a knot, racing to where he was falling.

The gang flattened when the bullet bit a chunk of wood frame
inches away from their heads. Kelly yelped, "Don't drop him!"
And they strained to get back onto their feet. Lopez and Stoker
were the first to stand and get the rope wrapping firmly around
their wrists again to arrest Blaine's slide off the roof.

Bittner's hat fell off and hit the muddy ground below. It was
immediately torn apart by the dogs.

Cap called out. "Sheriff, are you all right down there?!"

"Yeah.. Get me up. I still got my gun!  Ahh!" he said as
the Great Dane leaped up and tore one of his pants legs.
"And be quick about it! They're reaching my legs!"

With concerted effort the four firefighters inched up Bittner's
soggy bulk, hand over sweaty hand, until the lawman could
throw a leg up over the gutter and crawl back onto his hands
and knees onto the rain streaked cedar shingles.

Thinking a moment, the sheriff threw his line around
the base of the brick chimney for leverage in case he slipped

"You hurt at all?" Hank hollered.

Blaine wiped rain out of his face and ran fingers through
his hair to get it out of his eyes. He looked down at
his shredded pants leg. "Nah." Then he drew out the gun
from his holster again. "I anchored myself round the
chimney. You boys got some purchase now. Hold me fast!"

And he aimed with great deliberation over a forearm.

Bang! Chinggg..... a bullet riccocheted off Doc Frick's
red station wagon and impacted dead center into the
black dog's ribcage. The Dane leaped up, bit her side
and then he fell down into a heap and didn't
move again. "Got you you little piece of Cain.." he whispered
with a tight grin.

"Four left sheriff.." Chet called from the window.

Blaine's sense of irony struck him and he glanced
back at the curly haired fireman with a wave. "I know.
I know young man. Thanks for keeping track.." he joked.

An emaciated Doberman looked up from the hat he
had just urinated on. He connected with Bittner's eyes
and began to growl low in his throat.

Blaine didn't break eye contact. "Sorry I gotta do this
fella. That kind of behavior's just too rude for me.
You're next in line.." And another shot snuffed out the
pack member's sad fated life.

Yelping, the others broke and ran around the house
away from Blaine when the Doberman died but
a German Shepard remained behind, standing guard over
her mate's carcass. She, too, growled a warning at the
man on the roof, her white teeth dripping.

Sheriff Bittner took careful aim.....

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Roy was just finishing getting the baby into the dresser
drawer resting on the bed, fussing with the oxygen tubing
under the plastic in with the baby, when Mary suddenly
screamed from where she was standing with Marco's help
by the foot of the bed.

A creamy white body burst through the bedroom window in
a shower of glass and water.

The growling filthy dog, knocked the new mother to the carpetting,
attracted by the scent of blood and body fluid on her skin.

Roy snatched up the baby's drawer and tossed it heavily to Marco,
who caught it with blind luck and backed slowly out
of the room. "Mary, don't move!" DeSoto said, spreading his
arms wide to stave off the dog's growing idea to chase after Lopez.

Mary trembled but lay still on the rug. She flinched when
the growling dog sniffed at her waist and set a paw on her. The whole
time, the dog kept his eyes locked on Roy, who was the only
real threat in the room.

Sniffing, the dog's attention wavered when it smelled the
afterbirth inside a white plastic bag set on the floor.

There was a sharp recoil of yellow and orange and a puff of
gun powder and the white dog flew backwards into the
wall, dying.

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Nicola Sommers stood in the doorway, feet planted apart,
with a gun firmly gripped into both of her hands. She didn't
stop pointing the gun until a book thrown at the curr failed
to rouse it. Then she saw Roy and Mary's frozen looks.
"Nice ranch house. Guns in every corner." she remarked.

Roy unlocked his muscles and knelt by Mary's side when
the woman began to sob uncontrollably from where she
lay on the floor. "Mary, are you all right? Did you hit your
head? Are you hurt anywhere?"

Mrs. Caine didn't answer, lost in a hysterical outburst of relief.

Doctor Frick and Marco Lopez peeked through the door.
"Did she get it?"

"Yeah," Roy said, sitting Mrs. Caine up and hugging her
to his chest to calm her down even as he took a pulse at
her wrist. "I think she's ok, too. The dog didn't have time
to bite her." He checked Mrs. Caine's I.V. It was all right
and still running.

"Glad I was watching you, Roy. The baby's upset but the Doc
found no bumps or bruises." Marco said. "Darren's ok, Mary.
Nate's watching him in the living room. He's ok."

Mrs. Caine just sobbed weakily, letting her arms hang limply
by her sides as Roy picked her up into an arm carry out of the
room. "Let's get her out of here. And close that door Marco.
The dog might still be alive."

"I doubt that.." Nicola quipped, rechecking how many shots
she had left in the antique revolver she had found.

Four shots from upstairs rang out in regular deliberation
faintly. Then it was quiet. Soon the others returned down
the stairs, out of breath and sweating.

Doc Frick saw Bittner's leg and greeted the sheriff with
a warm blanket which he placed around his shoulders.
"What in h*ll did you just do, Blaine. I told you no
heroics with that angina you got.. Come over
here and sit down!" he said angrily.

Meekly, the dripping sheriff did so.

"Now open your shirt.." Frick ordered, slipping on a stethoscope.
"How do you feel?"

"Terrific. The worst of them are all dead. And the others
won't be coming back."

"Shh!!" Frick hissed, listening to Blaine's chest.

Chet Kelly's eyes got huge. "You mean we let a man with
a bad heart hang from the roof just now?"

"Shhh!" Cap shushed. "Let the doc get in his exam."

"It was all my idea. You're free and clear young man.."
Blaine said as he struggled to slow down his breathing
rate. He was smiling but then his face twisted into one
of pain as his hand absently gripped his gray maned chest.

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"Hmm.. thought you could fool me, huh.." Frick said, reaching
into his pocket. He pulled out a bottle of nitro pills and he dug
out one. "Here.. Melt this under your tongue.. Gage, could
you get a pressure on him. We'll see if he needs a second once
after we get our initial BP."

"Sure, Doc. uh... Is he ok?"

"Blaine here? Oh, yeah. He's fine. Did his open heart surgery myself.
A quadruple bypass. He's unlikely to have another M.I anytime soon.
That is, if he ever stops thinking he's some kind of Superman.
That was a really stupid stunt you just pulled on these boys mister

"Sue me old bones. Those feral dogs aren't ever gonna seige anyone
else ever again." Sheriff smiled closing his eyes as Stoker set him on
some oxygen. "All thanks ta me."

"And me.." Nicola glared with mock outrage. "What an ego.
Geesh.." and she crossed her arms together tapping a leather
booted toe on the rug.

"Ok. ok.. I'll give Annie Oakley over there some credit, too. She
killed the original alpha male, a big rottweiler, when it dragged down
a prize steer last autumn at the Fair Grounds. That's how we
found out about the whole sorry feral dog mess in the first place."

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Roy said. "Chalk up one more point for Nicola, Sheriff."

"Huh? What for?"

"She took out one that came through the window at us
in the bedroom."

"It was the cream, Blaine. I told you he was brains behind
the whole pack. He leaped through the glass and got inside
to get at us just like I said he might do."

"Ooo. well, ok.. You called me on that particular
nasty brand of dog, too. I stand corrected."

"And I'm grateful to BOTH of you." Mary said quietly from her
arm chair where Marco sat with her. "You get better and recover
fast, Blaine. You've got a christening to go to." she scolded.

"Thank you, Mary.." the sheriff said instantly, cowed.

Gage sat back from where he had taken the sheriff's
blood pressure. "That nitroglycerin lowered his pressure
a little bit. What is it usually?"

"140/98." said doctor and patient simultaneously.

"Well it's twenty millimeters mercury lower than that now.."
Johnny grinned.

"Fine. Blaine, have a second pill. You're still clenching
your teeth." Frick fussed. "Come on now, open wide."

"Aw, Doc. I hate the taste of those things."

"They're better than baby aspirin." Gage quipped.
"Those'll be next if your angina doesn't settle down."

"Nope. Ain't gonna."
Bittner grumbled, shaking his head and fighting
the doc's attempts to put the pill into his mouth.

Roy smiled. "Say, doc. Got an EKG/Defibrillator
in that red station wagon of yours? Maybe we
can jolt him into compliance."

Frick rolled his eyes. " I don't think we need it. He's just
being mule headed. I can wait a little longer." he said
parking the pill onto a napkin in his hand so that it wouldn't
start effecting him. "His pulse is very regular. And it'll stay
that way if he stops carrying on like a crazed maniac
at every little crisis cropping up in and out of town."

"Doc, I'm the sheriff!" Blaine protested.

"Who's got a sworn deputy who's so bored for
something to do, that she's redesigning a resort
into a bed and breakfast. Come on. You're sixty nine
years old. And I've already ordered you medically to start
easing off the job responsibilities. Try another little cack handed
stunt like ya did on the roof just now and I swear I'll
turn a report into the Board tendering a request for your
early retirement.." the doctor warned.

"You wouldn't dare.."

"Just watch me.." Frick said without looking away or
lowering his finger.

"Hey,, Blaine. Go ahead and do something stupid.
I kind of like the sound of my future title. Sheriff
Nicola Sommers. It's got a nice ring to it."

Blaine stuck a tongue out at Nicola.
And Doc Frick immediately tossed in the second nitro pill.

"There's a good boy. Now stay quiet for
ten minutes. Thanks Nicola. That little
schtick works every time."

"Nothing like a man with an overblown pride for his profession."
the young woman grinned toothily.

Blaine's face screwed up at the bitter taste
in his mouth. But he obeyed and didn't say
anything else as he dissolved it and swallowed.

Hank tapped the Doc on the shoulder. "So he's stable.."

"As a rock. All of this is just precautionary." said Frick
absently of Blaine's oxygen and the nitro pill bottle he
had in his hand.

"Ok. We'll leave when he's pain free again, splitting
up into the three cars. Mr. Johnson's just agreed to help
get Aaron into the hospital using his vehicle."

"And I got the extra hand held radios we'll use."
Sheriff said, raising a finger, in addition.

"Sweet." Frick said. "Thanks Nate. So the Porsche'll
get a little muddy. So what? It's for a good cause."

"Speaking of cars getting messed, there's a new bullet hole in
your car, Doctor Frick." Chet said. Mike Stoker slapped him
on the arm for his bold line.

But the Doctor was unsurprised. "Oh, another one? It's not
the first time, boys. The ding'll just add more character.
If it got on target bouncing off my fender, all is fine with me. "

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"It did. The head b*tch went down without a hitch."
Blaine nodded.

"Hey, did he just swear a curse word?"
said little Aaron. "Dad, we should tell ol Mable on him."
She'll wash his mouth out with soap for sure."
And the tiny boy started laughing hysterically.

"That the Versed talking?" Nate asked Roy.

"Uh huh.." said DeSoto, burying a chin into his hand.
"Don't worry. It'll wear off in a little bit."


Twenty minutes later, the three laden cars slowly
made their way onto the highway almost invisible
under a flowing sheet of rainwater.

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From:  "Cassidy Meyers" <>
Date:  Wed Jun 30, 2004  3:41 pm
Subject:  Let the River Run..

"Geez," said Chet at one particular deep section
of water lying across the road. "I hope they know
where they're going up there." he bemoaned to his coworkers
in the land rover about the silver porsche in front of
their three car convoy. They were last in line, following
Frick's eccentric red wagon. Johnny didn't say anything,
thoroughly concentrating on the road ahead of them.
Already, it was barely visible in the building rain and darkness
surrounding them.

Marco still clutched the handy talkie that was one of three
that linked Nate's silver porsche, Doc Frick's red
station wagon and Gage's truck all together.
"Johnny, Roy says that the baby, Aaron and Mary
are doing just fine. He's already gotten permission from Doc
Frick to discontinue the two I.V.'s on the boy and the mother."

"Thanks." Gage replied, not moving his eyes from
the car in front.

Cap sighed, keeping his eye as well on the red fender of
the station wagon Frick was driving. The doc had Sheriff
Bittner as a passenger so he could keep an eye on
his heart pain.  "Nate Johnson said that he knew the high
places to travel during storms like this. We're just going
to have to trust him to know what he's doing men. If
you think about it, only a local would know their way
around these parts come nightfall."

"Doesn't mean I have to be comfortable with it." Kelly
grumbled. "You should've sat with them, Cap."

"Not my place to. The Sheriff's in charge of this rescue
operation. Whether we like it or not, we're just along for
the ride." Hank added, rubbing his damp nose.

Mike Stoker gripped Cap's seat back and said.
"Let's just hope we make town as soon as possible.
I don't like the look of the mountainside to our left.
Last sign we passed said  'Danger, Rockfall.' "

"You're a bundle of comfort, Stoker. That's my side
of the car." Kelly quipped, sinking down into his seat
a little lower under his rain gear.

"Better than my side near the drop off." Mike replied

Gage said loudly,, "Hang on!" and he swerved the
five firefighter's rover around a fallen tree trunk.

Chet hit his head. "Owww! Gage. Watch it!"

"I AM watchin it. " Johnny panted.  "Just shut up and
let me drive or maybe you'd like to do this instead?"
Gage glared into the rear view mirror.

"Cut it out you, two." Cap ordered. "Kelly, he's doing
fine so hush. Make yourself busy with reading a map
or something if you're bored."

"I'm not bored.." Chet parroted. "Lopez, did I say
I was bored?"

"Not exactly, but you're a little too fidgety for my liking."
admitted the spanish fireman.

"Thanks alot, amigo, same to you. If you roll down
that window one more time checking to see how
hard it's still raining I'm gonna--"

"Do nothing, Chet. And I mean now..!" Hank snarled.

All the men crowded in Johnny's muddy rover piped
down. They knew when they had crossed a line
when they heard that voice from Hank, on or off duty.

"Thanks, Cap. Now maybe I can avoid obstacles a little
easier.." Johnny huffed. "Is his head ok?" he asked
of Kelly.

"Right as it's ever gonna be." Hank admitted, still
pinning Chet into vocal silence with his glare.

"Ok. Just asking.." Johnny said, missing the joke
entirely as he fought road and water.
"Just passed a sign giving mileage distances.
Looks like we've only got nine left to go before
we hit town."


Roy continually checked with Mary Caine and
her new baby still inside the improvised dresser
drawer incubator sitting on Nicola's knees. He had
little Aaron in his lap where his body heat
could keep the child warm and away from the
chilled seat leather of his father's Porsche.

"We've only one bridge crossing to go, Mr.
DeSoto, then we'll gain some elevation
away from all this flash flooding." Mr. Johnson
said as he gripped his cow skin wrapped steering

Roy nodded.

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