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      Shadows Of
    The Past
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          Page  Three

Nicola drew her wool sweater around her shoulders
a little closer about herself as night fell. There
wasn't another set of headlights anywhere on
the mountain above them that she could see.
"Do you think they've already evacuated the
valley's highway because of the warning? I'm
not seeing anybody out there."

"Check with the sheriff. He said Doctor Frick's
got a CB radio in his car that can link with the weather
station." Roy replied, handing Ms. Sommers the
police HT he had used earlier to talk to Lopez
and the Doc.

Nicola palmed the radio, and hailed. "Sheriff, got
your ears on?"

##Yep. As if I'd EVER not have them tuned in, little lady.##
he answered back from the red station wagon behind
Nate's car. Despite some stress, his voice still sounded
cheerful to Nicola over the walkie talkie.

"How're the roads on the broadcast radio, Bittner?
The way ahead looks deserted to us on the higher
grades." she asked.

##They are. Just got word from Mable. No driving
is advised. People who were stuck in town are taking
shelter at the hospital to wait it out.##

"So they know we're coming?" Nicola asked double checking.

##Absolutely. The fire department's waiting on the outskirts,
set for an intercept. They'll be the manpower we'll need
to switch out our patient transport vehicles. I've ordered both
ambulances to report, too.##

"Ok, Nicola out." and she released the talk button.
She tapped Nate on the shoulder across the driver's
seat. He turned his head. "Just us out here. You
won't have to worry about people coming down
the mountain at us, Nate. Blaine's just confirmed it."

"Great. Clear sailing. Did you hear that, son?" he said.

"Mmmm.." Aaron mumbled sleepily.


The river between the mountain and the town
was an angry morass of brown and froth. It
lapped at the foot of the bridge span hungrily
as it spun shattered debris and trees against
the girders.

Nate Johnson slowed his acceleration and flashed
his lights so the two cars behind him would know
to do the same. "No police barricades yet. Good,
we can go across."

"Nate, wait. I don't think I've ever seen the river
this high before. Something's not right." Nicola

Roy looked up from where he was holding
the sleeping Aaron in concern. He drew up a hand
and rubbed out a steamy place on the window to
look out. "Do you see cracks on the bridge asphalt?"
he asked Sommers.

"No.. it's it intuition guys. I don't care. I think
the flooding's higher out there than it looks."

"Let's take a vote.." Nate said. "Radio the others."

Soon, everyone knew about Nicola's misgivings.

But then Mary said. "Please, Darren can't wait.
He needs rest somewhere warm and safe. This
car's no place for a newborn. I say we go on
and into town. The sooner the better."

##All right, Mary, if it's what you want." said Sheriff
Bittner over the radio. #Nate, you heard the lady.

The three cars travelled cautiously onto the small
steel and concrete bridge stretching across the
valley. Just beyond, they could see town.

The first car got to the other side. There, the banks
were already overflowing the wetlands at the bridge's foot.  
To Johnson, the sheeting water just looked like a thin
veneer over the road.  He inched forward.

Suddenly Nate's car dropped into the swift water over the road.
It was far deeper than he realized and the Porsche
began to slide sidewise off the highway with the flood water
up to the bottom of the car doors. Mary began to scream.

"No!" yelled Doc Frick, who floored the gas on
the heavier station wagon. His momentum missed connecting
with the Porsche in an attempt to push the lighter car
to high ground, and he overshot Nate, screeching
across the wet exposed road just beyond.

The doc and sheriff leaped out of the red car to run to the
edge of the water where Nate's car was floating away.
"Nate! Roll down your windows. Before you sink!"

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Johnny gunned his gas pedal, to reach the safety
of the far bank like Frick had done.

But the country bridge's concrete bed suddenly
dropped on its cables, its suspended road way tilting
sharply when an unseen submerged house hit it with its
full water logged weight. The force jolted Johnny's land rover
over the edge and into the river's depths.
Soon, the sheriff and the doctor, were alone by
the red wagon, perched precariously on the drowning
highway partially swallowed by the raging river, screaming
the names they knew at the night, listening for a reply.

There was none returned except the full throated
roar of the flood as it destroyed the river bridge.

From :  Cory Anda <>
Sent :  Thursday, July 1, 2004 12:39 AM
Subject :  Separation

Johnny felt the land rover shift under his
hands. "We're going over! Watch o--"

But then the white truck was plummeting down
like a stone underneath the wild night river's surface.

Cap gasped when the car landed on its side
on the river's bottom. His ears hurt from
the water pressure but he could still see lightning
reflecting from the sky down to them. "Everyone
all right?!" he coughed, feeling in the pitch blackness
for movement in the seats around him. "Tell me you're all
still conscious.. Hey..sound off!" he shouted over the
hiss of water seeping in gushes from the window
cracks into the cab of the rover.

"oh my g--"
"What happened?"
"*sputter choke* Still here."

"The bridge gave way and we fell in. "
Cap said, spitting mud and water out of his mouth.
"Gage? You ok?"

"uh,, yeah.. I'm not pinned."

"Good cause we're gonna get out of here. Now.
Before we get hung up on any debris on the bottom.
Stoker. Grab that tire iron. Take a window out. My
side's turned up. Feel it?" Hank strained as he cut
himself lose from his seatbelt with a pocket knife.

"Yeah.." coughed the engineer. "How far's the surface?"

"Not too far. I'm seeing a glow from the lightning."

Kelly was terrified, "Not....ready..." he cried softly.
"I ...can't breathe.."

Marco grabbed him by the shoulders and hauled
him into his arms. "You're fine. You aren't hurt.
I already checked ya. We'll go up together."

"No.. please just wait. I ...can't. I don't think I
can do this." Chet gasped, hanging on tight
to Lopez's arms from where he lay across the car seat.
Water rained down on his face, blinding him.

"Ok.. ok.." Cap said, floating nearer the top end of
the rover's cab as the water grew deeper around them.
"We got rope in here?"

"Yeah. " Lopez said.. "I'll go get it." and he dove underneath
the black water to the back of the rover in the storage area.
He shot back to the top with a coiled length.

Gage snatched Chet's head and pulled him onto his shoulder,
floating both their faces in the remaining air space above them.
"Chet. Start to hyperventilate yourself.. You're gonna need
to because you're getting yourself worked up."

"What? *gasp* Of course I'm getting worked up! We're
about to drown in a raging river who knows how deep and--"

"No one's gonna drown cause we're gonna tie ourselves together."
Cap thundered. "Marco, here. Get him secured and Gage too. I already
got myself anchored in a hitch. Set? Ok, Mike, pop it open. On the count
of three."

"Too soon.. I'm not--!" Chet sputtered, tight in Johnny's grip.

"One.." Hank nodded grimly to Stoker.

"Cap.. don't .. I--" Chet pleaded.


"....can't catch my breath. I'll suck down water
for sure and die.. I just need a little more t--"  Kelly begged.

"THREE!"  Cap shouted.

Stoker swung at the window above them with
all of his strength.

" AghhhhHHHHHH!" Kelly screamed as
the river flooded in. The five hapless firemen were
swept out of the under water land rover and carried
downstream inside the twisting river's under tow.

Swimming blindly, Cap felt a yank on his rope
as they were all tugged and tumbled in the current.

A hidden tree limb smashed into his ribs and he lost most
of his air. Desperation made him kick frantically in the
direction that his escaping bubbles were now travelling in
the water.


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Hank's head broke the surface into a storming,
fast moving h*ll.

The pine forest rushed by as the river carried the
firemen swiftly in its grip. Near them, the great bulk
of the sunken house that had ruined the bridge, paced them
at their same drifting velocity.

He moved away from the house, worried about
getting himself and his men crushed against it when it
finally ground to a halt on a shallow bottom.

One by one, the other heads of his men shot
to the surface, and he heard them begin to gasp
as they struggled to replenish precious air back
into their burning lungs. "All here?" Hank asked.

Gage shouted. "Cap! Chet's out cold."

"Did he get nailed by something on the way up?" Hank
said as all of them linked arms, passing the limp Kelly
into the center of their floating circle so they could keep
his mouth and nose up into the air more easily.

"I don't think so, nothing got me." Johnny said.
"Maybe he just fainted. He was pretty scared down

"So were we all. Keep tabs on his breathing. The rest of
us'll kick for shore. Gather the rope's ends back up. I
don't want us to get dragged back under on a snag."

Johnny shook extra water out of his hair.
"Ok, Stoker,.. open his shirt. I wanna keep tabs on him
by feel. Marco, make sure he isn't bleeding anywhere."

"Right." they answered.


Nate was horribly frightened. "Freeze. Everybody don't move!"
he panicked as the vibrating lurch of his tires dragging sideways
ended. In a blur, he saw the red station wagon and Doctor
Frick and the Sheriff recede into the distance as his car
was gripped by the flood.  "Get the baby out!  Aaron?!"

Mr. Johnson reached for his son as water spilled violently
into the car.

Roy hefted the infant over his head, wrapping Darren
up in the plastic covering that had been over the drawer.
"Mary.. get out the window. I've got him. Nicola?!"

The Porsche slammed into a tree trunk and hung there,
canted sharply up stream. Roy got out and found
the water was to his waist. He held Darren in his
arms and Mary waded out, terrified but watching
DeSoto holding the baby.

A shout from the shore showed Doctor Frick and Sheriff
Bittner flinging a rope in their direction. Roy grasped it
and handed it to Mary. "Go. I'll hand him off..." he
ordered, fighting to stay on his feet in the swift water.

Mary went and Roy tossed Darren over his head
to land safely in Bittners wide arms. The baby squealed
in fright but soon calmed down as he was taken up
by his mother's soothing hands.

Roy waded back out to the car where he could
see a partially submerged Nate shoving his
son out the driver's window. Of Nicola, there was
no sign. "She still in there?"

"I ...I...I don't know.." sputtered Nate Johnson.
"I think she got out."

Roy made a grab for Aaron's arms and snatched
the boy up to the shore. "Take him." DeSoto told
Bittner. " I gotta get--"

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Then the Porsche suddenly rolled out of sight, carrying
a screaming Mr. Johnson and an invisible Ms. Sommers
with it. "Nate! Nicola!"  The power of the current startled him.

DeSoto dove back into the swollen river,
tying the sheriff's rope around his waist. He ducked under
the waves, holding his breath, and felt the car slip over a
muddy bar and away from him downstream.

At the same time, a shard of bridge material shot by and
sliced his safety rope in two with knifelike precision.

Roy disappeared.

Sheriff Bittner and Doctor Frick ran down the shoreline,
tracing where they could see the tumbling silver Porsche
log rolling in the rapids, calling out to them frantically.


Nicola Sommers coughed and roused. She was on her back,
at the very edge of the raging river. She barely remembered
pulling Nate Johnson free of the car before it sank into the depths.  

Dimly, she remembered that she had heard a loud sound on shore
after she had dragged a limp Mr. Johnson onto the bank.

It had been a dry rasping buzz that made her recoil in fright.
Soon after, something unseen in the darkness had struck her
left hand sharply.

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Groggily peering down, Nicola saw only a small smear of blood there.
The slight wound she found burned only faintly, but her heart
was pounding.

::Where is he?:: Sommers wondered, dizzy, about Nate. She
winced, when a lump the size of a grape on her temple, argued
with her louder than her throbbing hand. ::And what's that awful
smell?:: she thought, shaking her head to come more
fully awake.

With her eyes, muzzy and unfocused, she realized that she
was just below the water treatment plant. It was
still  completely storm unscathed and the raw sewage stench
coming from the reservoir pools swirling at the top of the hill
was as strong as ever. Nicola gagged.

Sneezing, she flipped over onto her hands and knees to
clear her mouth out of foul tasting mud.

Her right hand bumped into Nate Johnson's waist.
He was lying motionless and blue next to her under a knot
of severed electrical wire. "Oh, G*d." she cried and scrambled
for his head. "Mr. Johnson?!"

He didn't react to a firm chest rub so she leaned down and listened
over his cobalt lips, opening his airway carefully. ::Hypothermia?::  

No sounds of active breathing rewarded her. "It's worse
than that? Nate. Don't do this." she mumbled to herself.

Nicola gave him two breaths of air mouth to mouth and then
she dug a set of fingers into his neck. She verbally snapped,
angry, but also half fearful. "Nate. Cut it out and breathe.
You gotta live for your son. No way am I gonna let you
stay and almost drown like this."

Seconds later, she confirmed that Mr. Johnson's heart
had stopped. "Nate! You're out of the water!" she shouted
"Come on. Snap out of it." and she began to administer CPR
after freeing him from his mud smeared shirt.

After the next set of breaths, Nicola shouted for help into the
dripping, still functioning HT dangling around her wrist.
"Sheriff?!  Doc?!  Nate's down! No pulse. I'm just south of
the bridge junction about... two hundred yards. Right
below Pig's Eye Plant. He either drown or a power line
got him."

##Any sign of Roy DeSoto?##

Nicola shifted around, searching, as she continued her

"No. None... I haven't seen him since the bridge fell."
Nicola gasped as she continued to maintain Nate.
"Hurry. I don't think I can keep this up much longer.
I've hit my head among other things."

##We'll be right there!## the sheriff promised.
##The wagon's intact..##

Nicola counted off a minute, two minutes, then five
as the world narrowed down into a tight focus until it was just
the lifeless man lying underneath her palms. "Nate.. Come back."
she gasped. "You picked a stupid place to die in. The air's foul.
Dead fish everywhere.  This whole beach's a complete
sh*thole. Disgusting! Pick it up, d*mmit!" she gagged,
still working hard on keeping her compressions effective.

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Doctor Frick and the Sheriff came running down the hill,
skidding and grimacing at the smell of the treatment
plant, laden with all the medical gear they could carry.

"Down here! He's gonna need an esophageal. He's getting
tight with inhalations."

Frick and Bittner soon took over for Nicola who gratefully
staggered a short distance away, finally allowing herself
to get sick onto the flood soft mud as she let her roiling stomach
take over. Then she folded into a heap, falling unconscious.


Roy DeSoto sped through the darkness in the river, his strength
waning. His outdoor clothes constantly caught on trees and
debris floating around him. So he shed all of them down
to his bare skin, including his shoes, saving only his orange rain
jacket for some protection when he finally got to shore.

Ten minutes and many bruises later, a struggling plow horse
nearby in the water got his attention and he grabbed its mane,
letting the exhausted but placid animal swim him to what
appeared to be a boat landing mooring site.

Shuddering off its excess water and mud, the big brown horse fled,
leaving Roy to stagger on his own out of the water.

A renewed roar behind him made Roy run faster away from the
flooding river as the bridge and the house that had pulverised it made
the flood surge even higher up the mountain slopes.

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He fled with icy rising water lapping at both of his bare heels.

Minutes later, after a period of unthinking panic, DeSoto realized that
he was in town, inside a city park. A sign was posted declaring a roadside
shelter a few hundred yards away.

Groaning, Roy limped slowly in that direction, wondering whether
or not his coworkers and the other Santa Rosa folks, had survived. ----------------------------------------------------------------------

Doc Frick worked on reviving Nate with his defibrillator
while Bittner gathered up Nicola into his arms to
figure out what was wrong with her. "Doc, she doesn't
look so good."

"How so?" Frick said, giving Nate another jolt from
the defibrillator. The second time rewarded him with a viable
rhythm. "Gotcha." He smiled when Mr. Johnson also began to
breathe through his EOA. "Blaine, set her down over here before
you strain yourself into another angina attack."

Bittner shrugged and set her down, placing her head into his lap.
"She's ok vitals wise. Just not awake." he puzzled.

"I'll take a look at her as soon as I take a set of vitals
on him. Why don't you get on the horn and tell those
ambulance boys to meet us here at the plant?"
Frick suggested.

"Good idea, doc." and Blaine dug the walkie talkie out
of his pocket to hail them.


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The gang had freed themselves from the flood.

They were walking down the rainy highway towards the direction
of the bridge crossing they had been swept away from almost
fifteen minutes ago.

Chet had recovered fully from his misadventure and was gabbing as
fast as he usually did to the other four firemen with him.
"So the Porsche took a dive, too?" Kelly wanted to know. "Oh man.
If they went as deep as we did, they're goners for sure. I didn't see
any tire iron in the back of Mr. Johnson's car when we were
loading it earlier."

The unwelcome speculation grated on Johnny.
"Chet.  Thank you for bringing up such an unpleasant thought.
My partner was in that car."

Kelly immediately amended. "Oh, but I have every faith in
the world that DeSoto bailed all of them out. He's a big
guy, Johnny. One of the biggest. I don't see a flimsy
car window standing in the way of--"

Marco Lopez interrupted him. "I keep thinking about the

That made Chet and the others go silent.

Cap filled the pause with a quiet bit of wisdom.
"Let's just cross that bridge when we come to it.."

"We did.." Chet said furlatively. He wasn't trying
to be funny. "And look where it got us? Roy's
missing along with Nicola, Mary, Nate, Aaron and
the baby. I just hate to think of what might've happened
to all of them, not just little Darren."

Hank studied the road and just listened to the sound
of all their soggy footfalls as their water logged shoes
paced the pavement as they walked. "Ok, let's talk
about something positive, all right? What's something
that we've never talked about before, huh?"

"Gee, I don't know, Cap." Gage said quietly, trying
to smile for everyone's benefit. "Being together so
long, there really isn't anything we haven't covered."

"Yeah, Johnny's right." Mike Stoker said.

"Ditto." nodded Marco.

Hank was firm and insistent and he sighed.
"We've got at least ten minutes walking until
we get to where we lost the others. And I'd do
anything to pass the time more quickly. Don't
you? Come on, gang. We can think of something
new.  I know.. why don't we talk about....."


Image of capleanright.jpg Image of ganglaughschetgagemarcostokercolor.jpg

Date: Thu, 1 Jul 2004 10:25:59 +0100 (BST)
From: "Katherine Bird" <>    
Subject:  Fish Out of Water..

"..the fact that we're gonna find Roy before dawn.." said
Chet with sudden finality and conviction.

Hank blinked, actually pausing in his tracks.
"Oh, ..uh, yeah. That's a positive statement."

"And it's new." Marco agreed.

Johnny Gage rubbed his nose. "Scared me
for a minute, Chet. For a second there, I thought
we were going to have to fess up to each
other about how we all became firemen."
and he grinned a cock eyed grin.

"Now why would I do a dumb thing like that
Johnny? Knowing why you do what you do
for a living is sort of personal, isn't it?
I'd never violate that sacred trust." Kelly nodded

Gage stopped Chet with a finger. "Now wait
a minute. You mean all those years of..of..of
baiting me with practical jokes as the Phantom
and all that other stuff weren't abuses of the
trust between friends?" he emphasized throwing
fingers back and forth from himself to Chet in
a gesture to clarify his point.

Kelly mulled it over, wiping mud off an elbow.
"No.." he said mildly. "Come on, the big guy's
waiting." he said and he led the way ahead of
the gang along the road leading back the way
they had come. "Every second we delay is
a second longer not knowing what's happened to
him. Get the lead out!" he boomed over the thunder
sizzling around them and he swept an arm forward
to rally the rest of them.

"This coming from a man who was a snivelling
nervous wreck half an hour ago." Mike marvelled.

"That's because forty feet of muddy river water isn't
flowing over his head right at the particular moment."
Gage said wryly to Cap, shrugging.

Johnny began to whistle as he nonchalantly followed
after Kelly.


Doctor Frick was satisfied with Nate Johnson's progress
out of near death. He heard only residual rales in
the man's chest. "Most of the water's already absorbed
Blaine. I won't need albuterol."

"How's his heart? Wasn't he down a long time?"
Bittner wanted to know.

"We won't know that until we run his lab tests at
the hospital when we get there. Now.. let's see how
Nicola's doing..." he said, reaching to do a head
to toe survey on her.

"Ho! Doc! I'm all right." shouted DeSoto, jumping out
of a tan police car. He was wearing dry clothes, jeans
and a gray button down shirt. "I got a ride back from
the highway patrolman coming to barricade off
the bridge causeway. Only I told him the causeway
was already gone." Roy grinned. Then his smile
immediately fell away when he saw Nate intubated
and Nicola deeply unconscious. "What's their story?"
he said snatching up a pen light to check out Sommers
when the Doc pointed to her first.

"Nate was nearly drown. Nicola found him in full arrest
and kept him going until Blaine and I arrived with
the defibrillator. Now, she's just collapsed after
getting sick."

"Not surprising with that around.." Roy said,
throwing a head toss towards the treatment
plant. "Gotta love that country air.." he quipped.
"Speaking of a hospital. The ambulance crew following
us encountered Mary and Darren and Aaron.
They're already on their way into town. They'll be
back for all of us.."

"That's a relief. I haven't checked Nicola over yet beyond
the primary." Frick told him. "Could you finish up?"

"Sure will." Roy said, grabbing shears out of a bag.

The CHiP was speaking to Blaine a short distance
away about the ETA of the two ambulances Roy
had promised them.

"Can I help?" said another voice. It was Johnny.
"My are you a sight for sore eyes." Gage sighed in
relief when he got close enough to see who clustered
on the beach. He crouched right away and began to
cut away Nicola's sleeves and pants legs next to Roy.

"Two are faster." Roy smiled. "Her story's a mystery.
Doc here says she was lively enough to perform some
CPR on Nate over there but then blacked out soon
afterwards. Doc said that she became extremely nauseated
fairly quickly." he told Gage.

"Not the air?" he said wrinkling his dirty nose.

"Nope. It's something else.." Frick said. "Bad smells don't
make people faint."

"But bad sights do." Cap said as the rest of them caught up
with Johnny from the road.

Kelly cleared his throat nervously. "Aww, Cap. Do you have
to tell him?"

"Fraid I do, Chet.  Syncope's nothing to shake a stick at,
especially when one was under water doing it." Hank said.

"Chet fainted?" Roy frowned.

"Yeah." Marco said. "For a whole six or seven minutes.
We had to swim him ashore."

"Chet, is your chest clear? How's your head?" DeSoto
asked rapidly.

"Yes and fine. Concentrate on Nicola and Nate buddy boy.
I'm far from being a casualty." Kelly said no nonsense,
setting some O2 over Sommers face from the doctor's

"Hang on a minute Chet, I have to check something."
DeSoto said. He crouched over Nicola and peeled back
her lips to find cyanosis and a growing ecchymosis building
along her gums inside of her mouth.

Johnny saw it, too, holding the young woman's mask.
"A toxic exposure of some kind?"

Image of womancavesfaintedit.jpg Image of chetbyrover.jpg

"Who knows in that water.." Marco said.

"The water treatment plant's perfectly fine, Marco, or it
wouldn't still be in operation." Chet told him. "Gotta be
something else."

"Bingo.. " said Johnny. "Doc, take a look at this."
and he shivered. "Thought I smelled one on her."

"Smelled what Gage?" Mike Stoker asked, kneeling
by Nate's head to monitor him.

"Snake. Looks like a bite on her left hand. And it's
bleeding freely."

"Into a vein.." Frick said, taking a look. "Most likely a
rattler. We've got a ton in the river bottoms. The flood
must've washed one out from under the bank hollows."

Frick noticed Johnny's complexion. "You ok?"

"Yeah, I'm fine. I...just have a bad history with snakes.
That's all. It was a rattler that nearly kept me from
reaching my twenty eighth birthday."

Frick nodded. "Constricting band. And lower her arm
below her heart. Start an I.V. Ringers on her and run it
wide open. Her vital signs are shocky and her rate's
well into the AV tach range."

Roy said. "Got it here. Want me to lance this and apply
suction?" he said, indicating the snake bite on the woman's

"Nah, it's too late at this stage of the game. She was
exerting herself and anything the venom's gonna do, it's
already well on the way to doing it." Frick sighed.
"I'll be sure to get ten to twenty vials of antivenin set once
we get into the ER."

"What kinds of tests do you want?" Johnny said
holding Nicola's head back so her harsh breathing came
more easily. "I can tell them once we get there to free
you up."

"Oh, the same as what your city docs usually order. A CBC,
PT, a PTT, electrolytes, glucose, and a renal function
study series." he said.

"Don't forget to mark my skin at the leading edge of the bite
with a pen every 15 to 30 to find coagulopathy and progressing
edema.." mumbled the woozy girl on the ground.

Gage smiled. "Welcome back." he said releasing her head.
"Now don't make me have to tell you to keep still or to keep
this oxygen on your face." He held her down when she
remembered Mr. Johnson.

"Nate?!" Nicola shouted, her memory returning.

"Nate's fine. He's got a pulse and he's breathing on his own."

Nicola fixed Roy and Johnny with a stare. "Now why do
I have to keep from moving? I didn't hurt myself."

"No, but a certain scaley one did Ms. Sommers. A snake got
your hand."

Nicola let her head clunk back onto the ground. "Oh, so
that's what it was.. a diamondback."

"You certain of that?" Dr. Frick said, drawing a red top
from Nicola's arm when he started to hear the sound
of sirens growing in the distance.

"I'm more than sure. I heard the d*mned rattling before
a tree limb landed on my head." she said empathetically.
Then she winced when Roy applied a tourniquet to her
forearm above the bite. "How's Mary and Darren?"

"Safe. Most likely in a warm hospital bed as we speak."
Blaine said, turning from the CHiP officer he had
been speaking to about everyone's adventure in the flood.

"Boy that sounds good." Sommers sighed, falling asleep.
"I think I'll doze and make it happen faster."

"Roll over on your side, Nicola. In case you get an upset
stomach again." Frick told her.

Nicola was beyond hearing already, so Gage and Roy
gently turned her underneath the blankets that the highway
patrol officer had given them.

"She goes first. Nate's stable." Frick told the paramedics.

Johnny and Roy nodded.


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It was four days later and it was nearly the end of the gang's
luckless vacation week.

"Boys, " said Blaine over chili at Rosie's. "Let me make it
up to you. There ain't no finer fishing guide here than Ms
Sommers." he professed.

Nicola cradled her arm in its sling, blushing."Well, what else
have I got to do but fish in the summer time. It's not like
I'm busy in school or anything then." she admitted.
"I'd be happy to take you out on the lake. I know where
all the holes are. Like lake trout?" she said leaning into

Hank swallowed dryly. "Uh, maybe that's a question for
my men, Ms. Sommers.  They're the ones who think
they can eat em.."

Nicola redirected her eyes at the gang.

"Oh, I like them just fine, maam." said Marco.
"Sure do.." said Chet.
"When I can catch em.'' Johnny chuckled honestly.
"Only when my wife fixes em up." Roy admitted.
"Or when I do..." Stoker followed up on the cooking

"How do you boys prepare them?" asked Doctor Frick.
"You haven't lived until you've slathered them in Pabst
batter and have them deep fried on a griddle over a camp
fire. Maybe we can do that tonight at the campsite."

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"Sure.. It'll take at least until morning for the rental
car company to run another truck out to us to
haul the camper back to L.A. on Saturday." Hank
accepted for his men.

"Great. It can be a beach party."

"Just as long as I don't have to get wet or
anything like that to attend." Kelly goggled

"Not unless you want to." Nicola soothed.

"Or unless the boat tips over again, dumping
us in like it did last time." complained Lopez.

"You guys tipped over that night?" Gage said,
smiling like a hawk over a rabbit.

"Yeah, off the point. Guess we must have been
out of eye range." Marco detailed.

"Kelly, no wonder you were so cagey when you guys raced
up the beach to help us with Stoker's outhouse fire.
You had just had another water scare. Explains why
you overreacted today in the river."

"Not very d*mned funny Gage." Chet said with only
half heat. "Ask anyone here. I didn't overreact at all."

"Oh yeah? Then why were you the only one who
checked out getting free of my rover?" Johnny challenged.

"I.......I... had trouble breathing, that's all. Stoker wailed
out that window faster than I could get ready for it."
Chet said defensively.

"You were breathing fine when we all hauled you
up to the top.." Stoker chipped in. "You didn't sound
like any dypsnea case I've ever heard. He had smooth
pipes, Gage. Real smooth. The whole time."

"Thanks for sticking up for me, Stoker. I'll remember that
the next time you draw chrome detail before a monthly
inspection." Chet gestured pointedly.

Soon, the gang was debating semantics with each other
at the top of their lungs, gleefully and deadly passionate,
while a contented Hank watched on.

Dr. Frick reached over and shook Cap and Roy's hand.
"Looks like you've been thoroughly initiated by Santa
Rosa County now. You've been baptized in our waters."

"Some more than others.." quipped Nicola, making a face
as she remembered the Pig's Eye plant.

"Well, be that as it may. I'm sure glad we stopped by." Hank
admitted. "You were just what these city fireboys ordered."


Episode  Eleven, Shadows Of The Past, Season Two

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