From: "Roxy Dee" <email@example.com>
Date: Wed Sep 1, 2004 3:46 pm
Subject: The Shriek Box~~
Johnny Gage came whistling
into the kitchen area and
helped himself to a hefty portion of Dale's Everything deep
which was Cap's meal offering for his turn at KP
food detail. "Must be Thursday afternoon." he said
one in particular, "I can set my watch by when the delivery
guy comes with these."
for yourself." Roy said, overhearing from his checkers
match with Marco Lopez by the television table.
so good at guessing time of day by activity that I can guess
the actual minute by
that pizza's physical temperature.." he
bemoaned. "It's exactly 2:15 in the afternoon." he sniffed.
Gage huffed in amusement around a food stuffed cheek.
"Huh, don't blame me for the slow week we've
dispatch and headquarters. They're so worried that we'll scuff
up the crown jewel of
the fire department that all we've been given
is medical calls."
"I wouldn't say Ivory is the
crown jewel of the department." said
Stoker from where he was doing the dishes. "She's more like..
a backup while we're waiting for Ol Red to finish up in the repair shop."
"Believe what you like.
I'm just hoping you guys aren't bored and all
with being support O2 and bandaid backups for Roy and
I when we
do get out of the station.." he emphasized.
"Things balance out, Gage. Give it time.
It always does. " Hank
said from where he was working on a miniature ship in a bottle
model that he
had been fawning over for two days. "I don't know about you. But I'm enjoying
the light week of duty. I haven't seen a
stretch like this since Woodstock
The guys laughed.
"Well, at least we're
getting in some good hobby time." Johnny decided.
Then Gage suffered a bout of deja vu when he spied
Kelly bent with industry over the same pile of gadetry and wiring
that he had been working
upon on the day that Ivory the white engine
Being sly, he walked slowly and silent
past Kelly so he could
get a good eyeful without being caught prying his nose into
professed secret invention again. Johnny spied
a new device that looked for all the world like a
mini handy talkie
with a large red light attached to its face and a very long
radio antennae, longer
than what the Battalion Chiefs used on
their high powered HTs at a fire scene.
in an unbearable curiosity, Gage sidled away
from the table to sit by Henry on the couch to check
EKG monitor on the harness he was wearing around his torso.
The holster was about to
send a cardiac reading to Doc Coolidge
at the animal shelter.
Roy noticed and excused himself from|
his game. "I'll be right back, Marco. This'll only take a sec."
"Fine by me. I thought it was time for Henry's betablocker pill."
"Nah, that's at three. Forty
five minutes from now." DeSoto
"Glad you're keeping Henry's rehab schedule straightened
in your head. I'm totally confused on what he needs and when still."
Lopez complained with
"It's a paramedic thing, Marco. " said Johnny from
where he was connecting Henry's
canine EKG module to
the new phone they had rigged on the magazine table by
the brown leather couch.
"To keep track of treatments and
med deliveries. It kinda becomes second nature after a while.
I'll admit, having Henry as a patient for this long's novel."
Henry looked up
and whuffled in excitement as he saw the two
men moving to fuss over him again and he rolled over
for a belly
rub, making it hard for Roy to connect the phoneline feed to the
you crazy hound.." Gage said, scrubbing Henry's ears.
"Back onto your belly. Roy's trying to get you
Chet fixed the problem by tossing Gage Henry's favorite huge
rawhide bone without
looking up from his busy project building.
He announced its airborne trajectory with a whistle.
Gage barely caught the bone with which to lure Henry's attention.
"Thanks." Roy said when Johnny
only glared back at Chet for
The gray phone next to the couch rang. It was Barney,
the shelter vet.
DeSoto picked it up and set it onto the table while he
plugged in the EKG wire
from the readout into the module
wired to the send only phone.
A few minutes later, the transmission
of Henry's nightly cardiac record
completed and Roy hung up the phone receiver again. "Hope the
happy with Henry's progress. I know I am. He's had no PVCs in four
days now. I think he was right
with that diagnosis of arrhythmogenic
cardiomyopathy on him. His heart's no longer acting like an
Gage disconnected the holster wire from the phone and wrapped it up
again into its
bundle compartment on the side of Henry's EKG monitor
harness. "He's eating fine, drinking even better.
Heck he even went
after a few of Stoker's ball tosses in the yard this morning, without getting
of breath even once." he said, playing tug of war with Henry and the bone.
Cap smiled from where
he worked. "Of course he is. He's in the best
paramedic firehouse in the whole county. I wouldn't
expect any results
less than perfect from my men on a medical patient that stable."
That brought up a question from Chet. "Hey Cap, are we getting billed
at the station for Henry's Mayfair
ride to the Animal Shelter last week?"
"Nope. Doc Coolidge found some dog loving sponsors at a
school to cover our costs. All it'll take is letting those kids visit Henry
once he's back
on a clean bill of health to get the money." Hank
"Nice. How'd they hear about Henry
getting sick?" Marco asked.
"One of the nurses walking by the ambulance that day saw us working|
on resuscitating him out in Rampart's
driveway, and took up the cause
on her own through friends and relatives. And I believe that new medical
resident you guys tangled with the day that old woman was burned was
very instrumental in bailing
our butts out of Henry's treatment bills, too."
"He was?" Gage said, surprised. "That's incredible."
"Yeah, Dixie McCall said that he felt guilty for being so new to
answering calls at the base station
that he wanted to make it up to us
somehow for making us work her airway needs around him without
Captain Stanley related. "Miss McCall called and told me the whole story
after we got back from that seizure call."
"And Brackett ok'd that?" Gage said, incredulously.
"Why not?" Roy smiled hugely. "Maybe that resident's on probation for
endangering his patient
and finding funds for Henry could've been
Brackett's version of assigned community service as his
"Yeah? Well what about the official one?" Gage complained, remembering
the risk he took that day acting as a paramedic first with Brice without
medical residents have immunity against incriminations
for their first six months working solo. That
old woman suffered no
lasting ill effects." Roy reminded his partner.
"For that time, maybe."
Gage interjected. "But what about the next time we
get him on the biophone line?"
"We'll just have to repeat our findings. Twice if we have to,
and...help him out. I've already talked
to Brackett about having a senior
physician standing by next to him when he does take another of
medical calls. So you can say that yes, I thought of you at the last
paramedic's meeting, you know,
the one you missed for having to
stay here with Henry on his first night back from the animal shelter."
"Thanks." Gage said appreciatively. "Brice'll sure be a lot happier
with that arrangement."
Right then the kitchen side door rang. Chet Kelly left his work table
to go answer it.
McCall came into the station. She was dressed in earthtones
and her hair was down.
gang rose to their feet.
"Hi Dixie.." Roy said. "What brings you out here?"
"Oh, I wanted
to see my favorite mascot.. that's why.." she crooned,
sitting down next to Henry and smooching his
ecstatic freckled face
deeply. "How are ya doing, baby?" she asked, holding his head.
tail thumped loudly on the couch cushions as he ate
up the attention.
Then Dixie looked up at Roy and Johnny. "Got copies of Henry's|
latest EKG strips handy? Dr. Brackett
admitted to me last week that
he wanted to see how he's coping on Coolidge's rehabilitation plan."
"No kidding.." Hank said. "The way he grumbled last week, I didn't
think Dr. Brackett cared a
bit about him."
"Stand corrected, Captain Stanley. " Dixie demurred. "Kel's just a big softy
at heart once he's been proven wrong about a patient. Even if that patient's
cute, fuzzy and has big
long floppy ears.." she said, smooching Henry's
silky head loudly where it nestled on her lap in between
her arms. "Oh,
he's looking a lot better today." she crooned. She leaned over to look
at the table
side of the couch. "And you boys have stopped hoarding the
spare defibrillator down here. Guess his
cardiac readings are checking out?"
"They sure are." Roy said. "We just sent today's
reading in a few minutes
"Well, I've got to go get to work. I only had a few minutes
"Here." Johnny said, scooping up the paper bag with Henry's old
EKG strips in it.
"Give these to Kel when you see him. We'll pick
them back up again next rescue call."
do that. Thanks, fellas." Dixie said, leaving back out the side
door and waving.
came all the way out here from her apartment to
see Ol Henry?" Gage said.
Chet quipped. "Yeah.
Unlike some people I know, Henry's a real
popular guy for a dog."
"Very funny. "Johnny said,
squinting his eyes at Kelly.
"So what have ya been working on all week? The guys and I
busting out all over with curiosity over those things. Right
No one else spoke up in
support over Johnny's admission.
"Ok, ok. I'll admit to being the only one. So what is it?" he
pegged, poking a finger at Chet's shoulder in emphasis.
Chet Kelly looked up from the metal dust
and oil he was
rubbing off of his fingers with a cloth rag to see all
of his crewmates regarding
him eagerly for an answer.
"All right. All right, ya nosy bums. I'll let ya in on it, seeing
none of you have the capacity nor the desire to put
any inventions on the market like I do."
motioned them over to the table. "Come on over
here and I'll explain a few things to ya. Only don't
anything. Gage, that goes double for you.."
The gang gathered around.
Kelly slipped into lecture mode which actually suited him|
this time since he was so passionate about
was working on. "You guys all remember the incident with
Moreno two weeks ago. Where we
went rushing into
a vertical fire thinking that he was still in there, only he
wasn't, just his
"Yeah, I remember that very well. " Hank said. "Stoker,
Lopez and Gage here
took in more smoke than necessary
searching pointlessly for a man down who wasn't even inside
"Exactly, Cap. That's exactly the word I'd choose. Pointless. Pointless
dangerous. We all would've been a h*ll of a lot better off
if we knew as a department where everybody
was at all times
without tying up the radio so much checking in to central command
every few minutes
with position reports. That's always been real messy.
Now I was stuck in traffic the other day and
I saw a bunch of surveyors
working in a ditch. You know the guys, the ones who measure how
the roadside ditches slip after all our earthquakes we get all
Chet went on. "Well I had a long look at them while they were working
and I saw something interesting
when one of them got himself caught
in a land sink by the legs and fell down. I was gonna rush out
and help him get free when his crewmates, ones that couldn't even see
him at all, suddenly
arrived and got busy with their shovels."
"How'd they get there so fast?" Gage asked, entranced
with the story.
"He sure as heck didn't use his radio. That got buried when the sand
I noticed something when they finally got the guy out. The man
reached down and touched something
on his belt and I saw a light
go off. Bingo! I thought. That's how he did it." Chet said, sitting
the edge of the top of a chair. "It was a sheer revelation guys, I'm
telling ya. The whole
way home I kept thinking,.. why is it that the
fire department's always be nine steps behind the other
guys? It's not
fair. So I figured, we can make that kind of invention work for us, too!"
rest of the guys scratched their heads. Johnny finally spelled it
out for Chet. "I don't get it."
"He had a locator on him, Gage. Plain and simple. About yey big
and attached to his belt with
wires sticking out of it. Antennaes,
Hank's forehead creased. "Ah, I see, a motion
Chet nodded eagerly. "Yeah, one that knew that he had become
still and sounded an
alarm. That thing on his belt must have been
some kind of personal alert safety system that kicked
in the moment
he got into trouble."
"Wow.." Marco remarked. "But how does what you saw apply
us, Chet? We don't work with land surveying, not often anyways,
unless we're called to a cave
"I'm getting to that." Kelly said. "Just hush a minute and let me
show you what I've got."
and he pointed to the two or three black
boxes on the table including the modified HT that Johnny
noticed earlier. "Now I figured out a few things on my own.
A simple motion detector that works
can run on a tiny 9 volt
battery in a nested compartment here. Reads anywhere, even
I tested it in the shower."
"The shower?" Gage chuckled.
Kelly held up a hand. "Hear me
out. Just hear me out. Where
else was I gonna find safe smoke? Steam works just as well.
test out heat bearing ability, too."
"Well how does a motion sensor help us as firefighters, Chet?"
DeSoto asked reasonably.
Kelly held out a small box, "Here, put this on." he said.
walk around and don't stop until I tell ya. Just flip on
the little switch on the side until that
red light comes on."
"Ok," Roy said and he did what Chet asked.
The guys watched Roy move
around the table in circles.
"Nice invention, Chet." Hank quipped. "Now we'll be able
just how many miles we cover each week to measure up
to how bad our aches become." he said sarcastically
"I'm not finished, Cap. Hang on a minute." Chet motioned.
"Ok, Roy. Now go down on the
floor. Like you were in
a fire and a roof fell on top of ya."
Roy crouched down and got onto
his belly. "Like this?"
"Yeah, like that.." Kelly said. "Now don't move for 30 seconds."
he didn't say anything and simply pointed to the second radio
like device that he had switched on
that rested on the table. It had a
yellow light that was blinking on top of it.
the large talkie device on the table had a loud
shrieker device go off that just about shattered all
Henry protested in earnest with howls of his own.
Kelly scrambled and apologized,
turning down the device's volume
control. "Sorry about that, guys. Sorry, Henry.. I forgot I tested
receiver outside this morning."
"Congratulations on inventing an airhorn, Kelly. I'm proud
of ya." Gage
said thoroughly unimpressed and shaking out his ears. He moved
to the pizza platter
again for seconds after helping Roy back
up onto his feet.
"No, wait Gage. Come back here.
It's not done cycling yet. Listen."
A speaker came to life on the side of the unit and started
message in Sam Lanier's voice that they all recognized as having
a relay from the main dispatching offices.
##Mayday. Mayday. Mayday. Detector number two has been
Attempt radio communications to locate a fireman detected in a
and motionless for longer than 30 seconds.
May day. May day. May day. ##
Captain Stanley startled.
"Wait a minute there Kelly. You mean to tell
me that you linked that funky radio gadget straight to
"No, Cap. This is just a side band that Sam and I rigged on a spare
We're off the official air. He was just as enthused about
this whole man locator device I learned
about, as much as I was. In
fact, he was the one who was all gung ho making this recording
airing it from work with his manager's full approval." Kelly said.
"We're unofficially calling these
things shriek boxes."
"Shriek boxes?" Gage asked, chewing.
"Yeah, well I knew nobody would
warm to the idea of
naming them Kelly boxes. Especially you, Gage."
"You're right about that."
he said without barbs.
Now the gang was mystified, when the transmitter kicked|
on a light on the belt unit that Roy wore,
telling him that
the message had been delivered to the tower.
Cap picked up the broadcasting
radio receiver and switched it
off. "Just what kind of range do your belt things have to reach
transmitter?" he asked in a hushed voice.
"I don't know, Cap. I haven't tested it yet in the field.
Sam and I
are still pulling the paperwork to get these testers approved
by the chiefs to work at
an actual scene." Chet said.
Stoker was frank. "Cap, if the bugs are ironed out, do you realize
how many firefighter lives this device of Kelly's could save?"
"I'm trying not to get too excited."
Hank admitted, peering at
the device in his hand, marveling at the simplicity of it.
Then he met
Chet's eager eyes. "Can we do that live test again?
I mean, is Sam ready for it?"
was a pre recording on automatic frequency set to
channel nine. The same nine on our handy talkies.
to use that channel for another three days he said. That's why he
left the loop open
when he went on vacation. Yeah, we can do another
live test, anytime. As long as we're under Sam's
home repeater tower
umbrella. That's the only one he's allowed access to for this home project of
"How does it work with water? I mean does it still work, getting
wet? We are usually
swimming in hose wash." Marco asked.
"I haven't tested them yet that way either." Chet said.
"I only got to
the level liquid mercury switch to activate on that remote announcement
the bubble hits either of the terminal brackets inside.
I used old transistor radio chips to serve
"Let's go find out, shall we?" Hank said, motioning for Chet
to gather his tester
units into a bundle. "Who wants to
be the lost man to wear the belt unit? We can rig the reel
from Ivory for a light spray out in the backyard."
Everybody's hands went up just as the call
tones went off.
From : patti keiper <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent : Thursday, September 2, 2004 10:33 AM
Subject : [EmergencyTheaterLive] The Markers Move
##Stations, 18, 36, 99, 24,..51. Library fire. 12400 Washington.
Cross street Milton.
12400 Washington Ave. Cross street Milton.
Citizens report persons are trapped. Time out. 14: 27.##
Johnny Gage quickly grabbed some of Henry's dog food and
wrapped up his pill and tossed it to
him on the way out. "Early's
better than later, Roy. He's set."
"Sounds like it's gonna be
a hot one this time." remarked
Chet. "They probably had no one else to spare for a fire call. Looks
like we're going to be polishing Ivory up a storm come supper time."
Not having any place better
to put them, Kelly hung onto the four
shriek boxes and radio transmitter device, bringing them with
as he ran for the garage.
"Looks like." said Mike Stoker, throwing on his jacket and running
over to the white engine. "I promise I won't get picky about the chrome."
Cap snapped out an order.
"Gage, DeSoto. Follow in the squad.
With all that paper, this is going to be a real fast fire with
kind of smoke. We'll need your spare air bottles and lifelines. Go call
us in, Roy."
"Right, Cap." and he picked up the acknowledging mic. " L.A.,
Engine 51-A and Squad 51 are responding.
Soon, they were charging down the boulevard to the east where
already a plume
of ink stained the sky, adding a widening tail to
the city's smog belt.
In route, Captain
Stanley overheard another engine get to the
scene. ##L.A. This is Station 24. We've multiple victims
smoke inhalation. Respond three additional ambulances and
a sixth alarm. Fire containment's
a priority!## called out that
captain. ##Engine 51-A, what's your ETA on your aerial cannon?##
"Stoker?" Hank asked.
"Four minutes." the engineer replied over the roar of the engine
Hank gave the estimate over the air and stated that extra paramedic
gear and oxygen
was arriving with Squad 51. He heard Craig Brice's
entire station called out for the sixth assignment.
Then, they were there.
People were scattering like milling pepper from the stricken three|
story glass and steel structure
and fire crews already on scene were
hard pressed to get them clear of exploding glass. Cap pulled
his HT from his jacket pocket. "Engine 51-A and Squad 51, on scene."
##Station 51, Your
time in : 14:36.## bookmarked L.A.
Captain Stanley spied a chief's car and he pulled off his mirrored
sunglasses. "Battalion Nine, where do you want us?" he asked
over the HT.
##Hank. Cover the
west side, main entrance. Most of the victims are
being recovered through there. Have your engineer
rig your four incher
from Engine 99 for a heavy attack and I'll send another over to man your
water cannon. Tell your men going in to use caution. The roof is
unstable. We've had multiple explosions.##
"10-4. Setting up on the western exposure." Cap nodded.
Then he contacted Roy
and Johnny over their vehicles' band.
"Engine 51-A, Squad 51. Join the paramedic search teams with
full air gear. Marco and Kelly will dog you on an anchor hose from
Ivory. I want solid life belts
on all four of ya, doubly knotted."
Johnny, Roy, Chet and Lopez all copied Hank's barked order
over their radios and rushed to carry it out.
While they were gearing up in the shadow of the
jogged over, passing out his novel shriek boxes. He clipped one
onto the SCBA harnesses
of each of them. "Don't rely on these at
all. This is the water test fellas. Sorry it's gonna be such
If you drop to crawl around flames, tell Cap on channel nine
and he'll reset your unit
manually. I already got him monitoring the
transmitter's band. The units are tagged one through four
label themselves. I got three, Marco's four, Roy and Johnny's are one
and two respectively.
Johnny grinned as he fitted into his face plate and tested
the air flow out of his
regulator. "We're gonna do this testing
thing around the chief?"
"What better way to sell something
than to demo it
up front, eh? Cap's all for it cause this fire's just begging a
greater than normal. He said that he'll take any
insurance he can get. " Kelly quipped.
these things are gonna work?" Gage asked Roy
on the side when Chet was busy replacing his helmet
out of earshot.
"Who knows. Trial by fire, I guess." DeSoto smiled craftily.
"If they don't
work, it won't matter. We've more than enough
fire crews milling about to bail us out. Hey, looks
like Brice and
Bellingham are on our quad's team. We're gonna be totalling
six very soon."
"That'll be a whole h*ll of a lot safer. Now I know why I love
Battalion Nine's style of command.
You take Brice. I got Bellingham."
Johnny groaned. "I don't think I can stomach Craig picking apart
Kelly's invention once he gets wind of it."
"Protective of Chet's little gadget, aren't we?"
"You're d*nmed straight I am. What happened at the station's
I think the idea'll spread through the whole
entire fire department like wildfire, Roy. And not only
"Gage, the raging optimist."
"I'm not the only one. Look at Chet. He's
grinning like a kid
in the candy store."
"About picking a flank man." Roy teased. "You're gonna
whom you're gonna get."
"Ok. Anchor's in." Marco said, passing Kelly the uncharged
inch from Ivory's bed already laid out from Ivory where Stoker
had mated her to the Y line from 99's.
"Mike's set for us. We're
enabled for full pressure on demand when we want it. I just verified
"Let's do it." Kelly said, getting ansy as he saw two more firemen
leave the stricken
building with multiple walking wounded for
the ambulance crews. As yet, there were no criticals being
to warrant immediate paramedic attention. The team of six stayed
on the job as a point to
point search team.
Roy glanced back as the blocks and feet on Ivory were extended|
for the ladder's deployment. It was
a soothing comfort to feel the bucket's
looming presence hanging over all their shoulders. Soon, a
force arch of water stabbed into the fire's gut and split the worst
of the roof burn into
two weaker halves.
Desoto heard the snarling blaze's growl falter into a belch of steam.
point for us. I'd rather it rain runoff on us in there instead of
all that burning chaff from the
ceiling tiles.:: He gripped his ceiling
hook even tighter as they approached the flame pocked library.
Then, they felt the perimeter firefighters shove them in the right
direction towards the axe
gutted main doors of the library.
Roy sighed in relief when he saw that body sheets weren't dotting
the sidewalk before lurid smoke swallowed them up.
Craig Brice's glove gripped Roy's shoulder.
"To the left.
I see some doors that aren't chalked off yet."
DeSoto nodded, giving Chet and
Marco behind them
a sharp signal, showing them where he and Brice were
headed to next.
their right, Gage and Bellingham branched on the parallel
row of doors to that side of the ascending
fire engulfed staircase.
Bookshelves and carpetting both, were alighted with hungry
and Chet had their work cut out for them. They
set their nozzle to the largest fan and snuffed out
for both parties to navigate through. All the while, Kelly
kept one eye on the uppermost
story ceiling. So far, no smoke
seeps or heat stains were warping through the grid of
above the darkened suspended chandeliers.
"Man, what a shame.." Chet shouted to Marco. "This is
a classy Victorian building. Must be a hundred years old, at least."
"It is. We passed
the foundation plaque on the way in."
Lopez replied. He snapped back into a close attention of
way ahead when a gust of smoke visually smothered all four
paramedics' locations. Chet drove the hose
fan over their
heads to push the smoke up away from them.
When it cleared, he saw five doors were open and yawning fire |
as the two teams kicked them ajar
one by one beneath
the stairway and fresh hot pink chalk marks glowed in the firelight.
he heard Johnny over channel nine.
"Shriek Two is crawling, Cap. I think I see something!" he
Hank, monitoring the safety unit's transmitter channel.
Johnny didn't move until he saw the yellow
reset light flash
on his shriek box. Then he dropped down to the floor
and crept under a studying
desk. There he found a man,
unconscious, lying unmoving on his back. "I got someone!"
and he pulled
off his glove to feel for a neck pulse. "He's alive.
Cap send in a team fifty feet forward. Tell em
a left ninety behind the grand stair case. I'm at the third door."
said Captain Stanley. ##They'll be
there in thirty seconds. Stay inside. Roof's fine out here.
squad's here to take over your man's care.##
Gage shared his air with his found victim while Bellingham
shared his with Johnny as they monitored the man's
struggling breaths. Then the reply team arrived
take him away and they helped lift him onto a large
firefighter's shoulders for the trip out.
Gage let go of
his carotid reluctantly.
Johnny heard Roy give out a crawl warning just as
had done, and he held his breath.
But that was all that came over the radio.
No other person
had been located.
"Ok, Bellingham." Gage gasped in his air mask. "Let's keep it going."
had finally noticed the changed channel on HT and the
yellow light flashing on Roy's SCBA straps.
"What's that?" he
"A lucky charm. I'll tell you about it later." DeSoto grinned.
one of the guys cooked up. Now let's get out
of these study rooms before we cook."
whistled, off the live frequency, and it carried over
the crackling fire.
and Brice along with Gage and Bellingham
jogged back to Kelly for news, who was still on the main
fighting channel. Chet motioned for them to lean in close
and he peeled off his mask. They
parroted him for better hearing
ability. "Second floor's been searched." Kelly coughed.
and safely out. We've been ordered to go to
the third. First floor's now clear thanks to us. You just
the last final areas that were left. Ready to head up?"
The four paramedics glanced
up the carpet flaming staircase.
"Yeah.." said Gage. "That doesn't look too bad. Go ahead
Chet gave a thumbs up and slid his mask back on.
Kelly and Marco braced themselves and
swathed the wide
wooden rail staircase with cold water, snuffing the fire stripes
they saw burning
there until they were replaced with steaming curls.
They all jumped when a bookshelf from the
second story fell over
the loft rail and down to their level. Chet hit that, too, to keep their
escape route open.
Johnny and Roy pole checked each stair's surface as they climbed to
for weak spots. But there weren't any. They rose past
the second floor. Then they wrapped up to the
A set of ornate wooden doors greeted them at the top.
Brice, in the front of the team,
peeled off his glove and felt the
door for heat.
An explosion blasted them backwards and set Craig's hand on|
fire as he was reaching for the
still cool door handle.
All six firemen went down. And just as quickly, they got up again to
back the fire in the doors with an aggressive water stream.
Gage and DeSoto and Bellingham dragged
Craig into the
raining hose water to drench him down thoroughly. After a delay,
Brice began to
yell when he realized that he'd been burned.
Gage whipped off his mask and grabbed Brice's shoulders.
"Craig. *cough* Let me see you. How's your face? Easy! How's your face?!
Is it ok?"
moaning. Finally he relaxed his arm enough for Johnny
to check his left hand. "Second degree on most,
Craig. Third only on
your thumb. No, quit fighting me. We've got to keep it under the water.
gotta get the heat out of it."
Chet Kelly shouted. "How is he? Is everyone else ok?"
replied. "We're fine. It's Brice's hand. Flames caught it
just when he went for the door handle."
"Shut them back up again. Steam from the water I just
sent in will knock out all the fire in the
still alive in there. It's too hot." Kelly said.
Roy swept an eye down to all
the 51 gang's shriek boxes. They
were still showing steady red. ::Functioning, despite a bath.
point for us.:: he thought.
Marco Lopez was watching the ceiling above them grow
seeing some sag. Let's hug a wall guys. Now..
We'll have to find another way out of here with him."
The six firemen dashed with Brice supported between
to the nearest wall, just as heavy pre-flash
to below their knees.
"It's gonna go!" Gage shouted, looking up towards the
"Yeah, but which part?" DeSoto asked, gasping. "I can't see
Chet Kelly gripped all of their shoulders. "I've got an idea.|
Gimme your shriek boxes."
are you doing?" Johnny said.
"Hear me out, Johnny. I'm gonna use em as markers. There are four
pillars in the room, one in each quadrant of a square around the room,
remember? I'm gonna put
a shriek on each pillar and then we'll wait until it's over
right here, where we're safer. The ones
that finally holler after things are
done will be where the ceiling came down. Cap can tell us which ones
off! Then we'll be able to get out through the spot that's still showing shriek
won't need to see where we're going."
"*Cough* I just hope to G*d you don't get them mixed up,
we're bacon. One. Two. Three. Four. North. South. East. West."
way ahead of you, man." Chet said, crawling away from
the others on his life line with the four shriek
boxes in his hands.
Roy radioed to the outside on channel nine. "Cap. We're gonna
a flash. Looks like the ceiling's gonna cave centrally."
##Get out of there!##
Not yet. Brice's injured and we'll be too slow to
reach the entry doors. We're along an exterior wall
safe enough and we've got a plan, now listen close..." Kelly
gasped, taking a breath of
air out of his loose dangling mask.
A low growling rumble made the ceiling fire ripple and the
monster backflash finally came.
All five firemen fell onto Chet's rope as a furnace
belch of fire rolled low over their backs. Marco lifted it
away from them with the upturned hose water
fan as it passed by,
yelling in defiance.
Then it was over and the smoke thinned and lessened.
"Chet!" Gage called, tugging on the rope snaking across
His grip on it was tugged back. Twice. Gage|
smiled. "He's all right out there."
" Bellingham said, holding Brice's injured hand
under water where it trembled, to cool it. Brice began
"Hey. hey..hey.." Johnny shouted. "Stay up, Craig. Fight it." he told
gonna haveta help us get you out. It's bound
to be a longish climbing obstacle course out there. I'll
out once we're outside."
"U- Understood.." Brice mumbled as his partner gripped
face to encourage him back to full consciousness.
Kelly crawled back into their arms just
as the ceiling fractured.
All six firemen felt the air gust and change color around them
all that tonnage hit the carpeting. The smoke went from
orange brown to gray black and the temperature
dozens of degrees.
Chet pulled up his legs to his knees as a main beam from
ceiling bounced on top of where he had just scrambled.
"OH, that was too close.. Ahh. I hate this
job! " A few breaths later,
he delivered what they all wanted to hear. "It's done guys.
in place. Keep an ear out on that HT band on nine."
Soon, Hank Stanley's voice called out shakily
over the HT. ##Kelly, Units one, four and three are barking. Your
butts still intact in there?##
All six souls. Gotcha. Moving out to the south. Thanks
for the info, Cap. I owe you more than one.
##Quite the reverse, pal.## said a very relieved Captain Stanley.
Roy added onto Chet's
transmission. "Craig's going shocky.
We'd appreciate some med gear to use when we get out there.
It's Brice's hand and he's suffering possible explosive impact effects."
##Consider it done.##
Johnny Gage and Roy DeSoto finished loading up Craig Brice|
into the ambulance and into Bellingham's
The groggy paramedic had checked clear of any internal injuries
and was only
on light O2 with just a precautionary I.V. His hand
was badly burned but they all thought it would
prove fully salvagable
in a few months time.
The 51 gang watched his Mayfair depart.
Captain Stanley set a supporting glove on Chet Kelly's
shoulder. "I'm sorry your pet project had to
burn. But you sacrificed
them for a very good cause. That was one of the smartest ideas I've
heard come out of your lips, Chet."
"Thanks, Cap. I appreciate it."
"So do I. " said Gage
as he and Roy cleaned up where
Brice had been treated to get set for the next walking
"What shall I do with this?" Cap asked Chet, holding up
the shriek box tower transmitter.
"Give it here. I'll give it to Sam next time I see him. Maybe
he can put it up on his fireplace
mantle or something as a souvenir.
I'm done playing the mad inventor. But it sure was nice while
he grinned, rubbing some soot off of his face.
"There's always next time, Chet.
Those shrieking things were a sound
idea." Gage smiled. "Promise me that you won't give up on it
Chet studied the ground with disappointment showing bright on his
weary and flushed
"There's always someday." Roy reassured, laying along side Johnny's
someday I guess." Chet Kelly sighed, then he looked
up at the smouldering gutted building thoughtfully
a sparkle returned to his gray blue eyes.
"Maybe when I'm older. And grayer."
the ticket." Johnny quipped, turning to
greet their next victim being helped to walk by the
arms of Vince Howard, the policeman.
"How does it feel to be a future millionaire, Chet?"
know. I've got too much soot in my eyes to even
think about it. Right now, the only thing I can picture
hot shower, a soft bed, and maybe a rivetting chess match for
later. Are you game? I'm officially
"Right after I win my match against Roy." said Johnny.
Episode Thirteen- The White Engine
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