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  Crazy Days
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        Page Four

"Charlie, think about it. Your overall condition,
if anything, has improved. Greatly. That angioplasty
you underwent this morning was a complete
success. You have gone a step forward, not
backwards." Joe said with a gentle smile. "You should
know. Life always changes. And that can be a
blessing in disguise sometimes even if we
don't realize it right away. And your whole
changing situation here is no exception. Your time
as an active on duty mechanic may be over, but that
doesn't mean that you have to stop hanging around
your old haunts like you usually do."

"Say, doc.. That's a lightbulb of an idea. I really like
that. A lot. You're giving me some dandies already.."
Charlie chuckled. "I'm gonna go see EVERYone,
first thing, when I get released in an hour. That's
ah, only if you allow it with this groin stick and
all." Charlie fussed, gesturing to his waist

"It's ok.." Joe laughed. "You'll be fully recovered
from lunch by then. Sorry for that casserole. It usually
has some coffee with it that makes it palatable,
but we're currently fresh out. Your catheter
puncture will be fully clotted in about half an hour."

"Good. Cause Charlie the mechanic's got people
to see. Places to go. Know what I mean?"

"Yeah.. I know what you mean.." Joe said.


Dr. Brackett had long abandoned his grid locked
car along the margin of the freeway for a phone.

"Dix? Yeah, it's Kel." he held the receiver away
from his ear when he heard his head nurse start
to moan about her coffeeless state and question
about his now long overdue ETA. "Sorry, Dix.
Traffic jam. Probably another fog pile up by
Long Beach. You know how far these traffic snarls
can back up around here. I'm gonna haveta take
the rest of the night off. Would you inform Doctor
Bender that I won't be coming in?" he asked.
"Thanks. You're a doll. I promise I'll get some coffee
to ya sooner rather than later. Tonight."

Kel hung up the payphone at the Shell station
and wandered back to his car for the long wait
for the jam to clear out.


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Charlie the mechanic knew the best ways to sneak
up on firehouses when firemen least expected it.
It was a habit he had developed so he could
really see the wear and tear the guys inflicted
on his beloved vehicles.  

He let himself in with his master key through
the rear door and he stealthily saundered
across the garage.

First thing, his eye fell on Squad 51's tires,
checking for curb scuffs from all the sudden stops
she had to make during each run. "There, you go,
sweetie." he said, patting Squad 51's hood while
another finger swept over her front grill chrome
looking for grime.

"Looks like my tyrannical temper tantrums are finely
having an effect, aren't they? Your wheels are perfect
darlin !  Your chrome, too. But there's no way in Hades
that I'm ever gonna stop blowing off steam on your
behalf at those crazy firemen. You deserve the best and
don't you ever forget it. I'll make sure the new guy
learns that lesson quick." Charlie said.

A voice from the far side of the bay echoed through
the high rafters overhead. "Charlie? Is that you?
I thought I heard your voice.."  said Captain Stanley
as he exited his office door. He immediately noticed
Charlie, not wearing his department uniform.
"It's your day off? I thought you had a double inspection
load on Wednesdays." Cap frowned.

"Yeah, well. I've got some news there." Charlie said
circumspect and suddenly serious. "Looks like I'll
have a whole lotta days off from now on.."

Cap wasn't surprised, for he had been on the rescue
call that went out for Charlie a week ago for
heightened chest pain. "So, it's come to that, eh?
Your ticker ok?" he said casually inquiring.

"Oh, yeah. The docs at Rampart fixed the plumbin
real fine. I'm good to go. But I gotta get out of
the fast lane they've been telling me."

"Retirement?" Cap asked.

"Yeah.. Hate that word. Makes me sound like I'm
being put out ta pasture.." Charlie said, reaching
for a back pocket that no longer held an oily rag.
He stopped himself before he was too obvious
in his reaction about being out of uniform. "So, I
uh, hope ya don't mind me comin over to say goodbye
ta the guys like this. Heh. Seeing my beauties I'd
done anyway." he said throwing a careless hand
at the Ward and Squad behind them. "Had to check
up one more time on my babies. I had ta come
back.. Know what I mean?"

"Yeah, I know what you what mean.." Cap grinned.
"How about coming in for a cup of coffee? Stoker
brews a mean pot."

"Nope. No more coffee. Doc's orders.
But I could sure use some of that clam
chowder I smell on the stove. Must be yours
cause the cream's not overpowering the clams

Cap ducked his head at the compliment.
"Glad someone appreciates my chowder.
I thought that Joe Early was my only
chowder fan."

"Yeah? Well add one more. Me.." Charlie
said jerking a thumb at his chest.
"Take me to your chowder." he joked.

"You know the way.." Hank beamed.


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Men from three firehouses turned up for Charlie's
retirement party that his bosses threw
at his old workplace only five hours
after Charlie was discharged from Rampart.

Only Cap, Johnny and Roy and Chet
could find replacements for themselves to be able
to attend, but Cap felt that his three from Station 51
was a good showing considering the high density
of runs that usually came during that part of summer.
As for himself, he wouldn't have missed Charlie's final
send off for the world. He still remembered the days
when HE was cringing during one of Charlie's tune
up inspections as a regular fireman. He knew he
was going to miss Charlie more than he realized.

"And this, is the main repair bay. Where we fix
all the damage you boys do to the engines.." Charlie
said, his voice rising higher and higher in a familar
tirade. He stopped himself before his blood pressure
shot too high. "Oops.. gotta watch myself. Well, you
know the speech. Ain't gonna preach to the choir
here. I'm a free man!"

Cheers erupted from the three groups of station
firefighters mingling in with station 51's four.

Charlie shot them all a suspicious look when he
couldn't tell whether the guys were cheering for his
newly liberated state, or the fact that they wouldn't
be cringing over any of his hundred proof lectures
anymore.  "Hey! Pipe it down.. There are working
joes over there. They can't hear themselves think
over that kind of racket."

The firefighters quieted down and continued
eating their cake and vanilla ice cream.

Chet's mouth was still hanging open. His eyes
were still bugging out at the long row of cracked
open fire engine chassis that were angled up
on hoists away from their motor assemblies from
the rigs lined up next to them, in the huge
space surrounding the party tables.

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Charlie noticed.  "What? Did you think I worked
in a three pump mom and pop gas station on
the corner? This joint's the size of a small airport!"
Charlie said proudly.

He proceeded to lecture to his hungrily eating
captive audience on how, his long and
varied career as an FD mechanic, began.

He finished with an historic account of how
his plans had been turned into blueprints and
then later eventuality with the construction
of the half mile long pit stop facility that Los
Angeles County now used for all of its
vehicle maintenance.

Johnny Gage swiped some cake crumbs off of
his dress uniform tie and mumbled from the corner
of his mouth to Cap. "Say, does this mean we can
slack off a little on vehicle detail? "

Cap grimaced. "Eeooww. This is awful.." looking
down at his paper cup and then just as quick
at something over the heads of all the retirement
party guests.

"The coffee?" Johnny asked.

"No, you twit, the squad! I can see the soot
on her windshield from here.." Cap said.

Roy and Johnny then realized that maybe they
wouldn't be getting off scot free so easily with
Charlie's departure from active duty.

Roy leaned over and said. "Wanna bet Cap'll
have us polishing by sundown after we get
back to the station?"

"No bet.." Johnny sighed.

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Dr. Brackett was just turning onto Curson Avenue
near sundown, when his emergency services CB
radio, went off.

##Eeeee  OOooo EEeeeeeee.. Station 51.
Unknown type rescue. 5801 Wilshire Blvd. Cross
street Curson. 5801 Wilshire Blvd. Cross street
Curson. Time out, 18: 12.##

::That's only a block from here.:: Kel thought.

He turned his wheel towards a new construction
site he could see to his left.

::Maybe I can help out some..::


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From : "patti keiper" <>  
Subject : [EmergencyTheaterLive] Samaritan Snare..  
Date : Tue, 13 May 2003 13:39:17 +0000  

Acknowledgements to

Lt. Stuart C. Burrows
Hazardous Materials Team Coordinator
Paramus Fire Dept., NJ  for the information
about natural kerosene risks..

       --      --      --

 Dr. Brackett made good time down the weaving
road. He saw a man, full of black ooze leaning
heavily against a parking lot post. He was obviously
the one sent out to intercept the responding fire
unit to show them where the emergency was.

Kel made sure his car was out of the way of
any hydrants, against a fence line off the road
and he leaped out of his car, rolling up his
sleeves. He grabbed a folded blanket he
had in the back seat from a basket of clean laundry
he had there. "I'm Dr. Brackett. I heard there was
trouble out here needing the fire department. Are
you hurt?"

The gasping, soaked man coughed. "No.. I'm fine."
he said, as Kel grasped him around the shoulders.

"Sit down here. I'll watch for them." Dr. Brackett
said. "Here. This will help warm you up." he said,
wrapping his blue blanket around the man. "What
happened?" he said trying to find where the trouble
was near them by turning in a circle and looking.

"It's the pit. Pit number 91. I'm on an excavation
crew. *cough* I don't understand it. The construction
team told us the supports were strong enough. E..I-I..
the whole wall caved in on Aragorn, the lead archaeologist.
She was working on an incredible Bicus Gravus.."

"A what?" Dr. Brackett said, watching the exhausted
man gather his strength back. He tried not to think
what was covering the man. Already, his own clothes
were black and sticky. "Just take it easy. Help's on the
way. Who's with Aragorn right now? Anyone else involved?"

"No.. I.. Half of us left because of the danger but
half stayed with her. I don't know for sure.."

Dr. Brackett was ready when the man suddenly blacked
out. He caught him and carefully lowered his head
to the grass. He set his hand on the man's shivering
stomach to monitor his ragged breathing.

In the distance he could hear the sound of approaching
sirens and it wasn't long before Station 51 screeched up
to the curb by his side.

Chet Kelly bailed out of his seat, opening the side door
of the Ward and into a miasma of stench. "What is
that smell?!" he said, covering his nose.

Marco was equally effected and both Kelly and Lopez's
eyes located what appeared to be a small lake at
the foot of a white highrise bank on the other side
of the partially constructed parking lot. They could
just see rising steam coming from it and could hear
a loud copious mass bubbling.

Before they could wonder further, they spotted their
first concern. Two people smeared in black gel like
stuff a short distance away.

Stoker commented. "Smells like asphalt." Mike
theorized, not even slowing down as he
hit the anchor feet switches on the engine to ready
her for hose work. He kicked a board under each
piston as it lowered to the concrete.

Captain Stanley shot out of the cab after announcing his
company's arrival to the scene to L.A. "Good call Stoker.
This might be a chemical spill. String some hose, long
enough to reach that partially built building over there. But
don't prime it yet. Not until we know exactly what we're
dealing with here." He took an experimental
sniff, relying on instinct to make a judgement call. "Skip
the SCBA for now. This stuff doesn't seem caustic."
Then he paused in his tracks. "Dr. Brackett?" he
exclaimed when he realized just who was with the only
victim in eyeshot. He tersely waved Marco to go get the
spare O2 apparatus from the engine's side compartment.
"Whatcha got, doc? Johnny! Roy! Man down. Over here.
Skip the resuscitator. I had Lopez grab ours."

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He watched his two paramedics nod and scramble to get
their equipment. He noticed them making faces at
the stench in the air but they remained all business.

The Rampart physician looked up from his unconscious
patient and he rubbed his nose with his forearm to avoid
getting some dark gunk that was covering his hands,
onto his face. "He's fine. Just fainted. His pulse's
strong and regular. He said there was a cave-in
somewhere nearby.." Kel said. "In a location called Pit 91.
Sounded like it was an archaeological dig or something."

"Need anything more than this?" Hank asked as Marco plunked
down the O2 cylinder and rack and got out a clear flowing
O2 mask for the limp man.

"Nah.." Kel said, seeing Roy and Johnny rushing over
from the squad, heavily laden. "Johnny and Roy have
everything I'm gonna need."

"Ok." Cap sighed in relief. He cast his head about,
looking for a likely spot for a cave in. He then
noticed a sign saying,'Page Museum, opening June,
1977. Come see a Woolly Mammoth.'

A vague memory tickled the back of his mind and a word
came up into recall, unbidden. "La Brea.." he mumbled.

"What?" Dr. Brackett said, making sure the O2 was
securely over the man's nose and mouth. He gave a
few orders for Roy and Johnny to get primary info and to look
for some ID for any possible medical history clues.
He nodded when Johnny and Roy verbalized the man's
vitals to him.

Hank swiped off some of the dark smears on Kel's sleeves
and lifted it to his nose.. "Tar Pits..." he added to
his earlier comment. "Doc, I think I know what the trouble
is now. It's all falling into place.."  Cap got on his HT, and
thumbed it so all his men could hear him. "Just identified the
chemical smell, all. It's methane, and kerosene on top
of asphalt. This place must be a newly rising museum over the site
called the La Brea Tar Pits. Heard about it last year. Under no
circumstances are you to run any water on any open flames
burning on the stuff. It'll be useless since kerosene floats.
When we find the scene, go in dry. But watch for any signs
of fire. That lake can burn regardless."

##10-4. ## Cap heard from Marco and Chet and Johnny
as they scrambled to get the work done.

Cap noticed Dr. Brackett just itching to do more from
where he was crouched over the fainted man. "I can
watch him, doc, until the ambulance arrives. Go with
Johnny and Roy and my other men to see what's up if
you'd like. They'll watch your back."

"Think I'll do that. He should be waking up any time."
the doctor said to Cap as they exchanged places crouching
by the man's head."He's starting to move a little."

Johnny and Roy took Cap's cue to move on with the main
rescue scene assessment as he threw a hand towards the
quiet, scaffoulding covered building next to the bubbling
lake of tar.

Chet was still gagging on the oily stench filling the air.
He mumbled under his breath. "Sure you don't want us
to have masks on, Cap?"

Hank jerked a thumb over his shoulder. "Just go.."
with a half annoyed, half amused smile.

Kelly went."I'm gone.."

He was only two steps behind Johnny, Roy and Kel
as they hastened with belts and ropes towards the
building Cap had indicated. They  were running across
a sidewalk over looking the tar pit "lake" when they
heard a shout.

"Down here! Please! Hurry.."

Gage said, "Hold it. Hold it.." when he heard the cry.

They all leaned over the concrete railing of the bridge
above the writhing moat and peered over the edge.

Kel Brackett coughed as a wind gust drove more stench into
his lungs. "There!" he shouted pointing downwards.

They could just see another oil slicked scientist type
on the lower level of the museum, through the windows
gesturing wildly for their attention.

Roy shouted. "All right! We see ya. Just hang on..
We're coming down!" he shouted to the man
urgently pounding on the glass to get their

The oily figure disappeared back the way he
had come into the dark interior of the museum's
lower level.

Gage looked about for any sign of stairs. There
were none. Just a steeply dropping off shoreline at
the edges of the tar pit. "We don't have time to look
for stairs. Roy, why don't we try rappelling down to
the windows and breaking through.."

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"Sounds like a good plan to me.." Roy said, belting
up. He lifted his hand held radio. "HT 51 to Engine 51."

##Go ahead, Ht 51.##

"There's someone flagging us down on the lower level
of the museum, right next to the tar lake. We need
the squad to anchor rappelling gear from a concrete

##10-4, 51. Lopez is on his way with it. I'm sending
Stoker with him.##

Dr. Brackett fidgetted as he paced back and forth.
"Not much I can do from here."

"Oh, yes you can.." Johnny said. "You can help Marco
keep the lines from fraying on the concrete here once
Roy and I go over.." he said slapping the concrete
railing.  He peeled off his coat. "Here, doc. Use my coat
for that."

"Right.." Kel said, understanding the plan immediately.

Gage kept talking. "Chet, rig a line for yourself.
You're coming along.. It's gonna take three of us to get
anyone who's stuck in this goop out of that cave in."

Kelly's face widened in surprise when he realized that
he would be dangling over the surface of the methane
boiling tar pit. "Sounds like fun." he said unenthusiastically.

Lopez arrived with the squad, backing her up until her
rear bumper was next to the turnout coat draped
railing. He quickly helped Johnny, Roy and Chet secure
their lifelines to it with pulleys and figure eight knots.

"Need the stokes?" Marco asked Roy.

"Yeah, and send down just the O2 for now. We still
haven't seen where to go yet.." DeSoto replied.

"I'll get it set.."

Johnny was the first over the edge of the concrete bridge.
"Gimme some more slack!" he shouted up as the firemen
and Kel on the bridge slowly hand over handed him down
over the lake. Gage twisted around until he was able
to kick off a bridge piling far enough to grab an exposed
plastic pipe over the "beach". He untied his line, hurrying
to the window.

Roy quickly followed, doing the same thing. And then it
was Chet's turn. Kelly wasn't so agile with his rappelling
and his gloves slipped on the way down.

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"Chet! Look out!" Gage shouted in warning.

Kelly landed with a splash into the tar pit up to his
chest. "Aghhh!! Get me out of here before I sink!"
Chet flailed. He rapidly began to sink under the lake's
surface, to his chin, to his flaring nostrils.

Roy yelled. "Marco. Toss me down his belt line!"

Lopez hastily flung the second rope to Johnny
and Roy so they could pull Chet out.

Gage shouted. "Chet, quit moving or you'll go under.."

Chet choked on fumes and ignored him.

His curly helmeted head disappeared under
the surface.

"Chet!" Kel Brackett shouted from above.

Marco got on his HT. "Cap! Kelly fell in. He's
in trouble!"

## I'll be right there! Calling in another station!##

Johnny and Roy gasped as they struggled heavily
to pull on the rope to drag Chet to shore.

They got a hand on his belt and hauled him up
onto the black edged loam and firm ground and
log rolled him over.

Chet coughed and sputtered. "Gah!! *cough*"

Roy and Johnny both ran hasty fingers over
Chet's nose and mouth to clear away the
thick tar covering his face until he could breathe

Gage grabbed his head, lifting his upper body
up to help him. "Can you breathe ok now?" he
said, pulling off Chet's dripping helmet.

Chet didn't say anything as he gagged over
and over again. Then he sucked in a huge
lungful of air and nodded.

Roy and Johnny helped him to his feet.
"Ok, let's figure out how to best crack
this window pane to get inside."

The best method turned out to be crude but
very effective. Kelly flung a fossil filled shore rock
at the twenty foot by fifty foot museum window.

A loud musical explosion of glass flooded
their sandy beach as the window came

Roy, Chet and John wasted no time getting
inside. They untied their lifelines and
accepted new coiled ones ringed tossed
down to them by Marco and they rushed
inside the lower level after knocking away
any more lingering shards with their helmets.

The rope lowered O2 and stokes, quickly

They immediately found Pit 91. It was
surrounded by orange helmeted scientists
fretting over another unconscious
woman who was buried neck deep in newly
oozing tar. Gage shouted. "How deep is it?"

Another gasping exhausted archeologist
understood immediately when his
other co workers didn't reply right away.
"The lowest digging section drops only three

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Johnny jumped in and helped the panicking
scientists encircling her to hold her face
out of the ooze. It was slimy, hard work and
it took all of them. "Hand me the O2, guys.
All this stuff's pressing in on her chest.
She's suffocating."

Chet Kelly handed down the positive pressure
mask and an oral airway pack.

Gage immediately began using them while Marco
and Roy rigged another rope set up and belt
for the woman to a concrete pillar near them
for an anchor point.  

Johnny gasped. "The rest of you get out of here.
It's too dangerous for you to stay. That wall
may give in more and you're not tied onto a
rope." he ordered. "She's gonna be ok. I got her."

The tar covered archeologists accepted Chet
and Roy's hands to climb out of the fossil
excavation pit.

Kel Brackett and Cap made a sudden appearance.
"Kelly, you ok?" Hank asked when he finally
decided who was the right slimy body to ask.

"Yeah, Cap. I'm fine. But the woman's not. She's
getting crushed by all that tar pouring in. She's
gotta be dragged out. Now. Johnny down there
can hardly ventilate her." Chet replied. He looked
almost comical, being all shiny black except for
his eyes and teeth.

Bracket had planned ahead. He had helped lug
all the medical gear down the front ramp they
had found with the guidance of an archeologist
witness and he already had laid out advanced
suctioning equipment. "Johnny, how's she doing?"

Gage spat as a splash of tar hit him in the
face. He angled his helmet to deflect the
new stream away from himself and the woman.
"She's still got a carotid. Although it's stressed.
I'm getting air in but I can't tell if it's doing any
good. Her color's hidden."

"Trust what you feel. I got suction set.
We'll do an airway sweep once she's up here.
Any C spine injuries?"

All nine tarry hard hatted archeologists milling
about the rescue team shook their heads.

"She didn't fall." one of them said. "That glop
only gushed in and pinned her.."

"Ok.." Cap said. "Get that belt on, ASAP. We'll
haul her out the fastest way possible." he said,
leaning over the edge of the excavation site.
He blinked when he realized his coat arm was
leaning on a sabre tooth tiger skull. He startled
and took it off immediately. He tried not to look
at what fossilized bones his shoes were standing

It took ten of them to break the suction of the tar
holding the unconscious scientist's legs pinned.

She finally pulled free with a hollow slurp and
her limp body was carefully guided up the wall,
with many hands supporting her O2, head and

Kel immediately got out a laryngoscope for a
peek after he jerked her oral airway free.
Roy helped hold her into the right position
for the exam with one hand while the other
stayed on her neck to monitor her carotid.
It was difficult work, the tile museum floor
made the surface under them slippery and
they were all forced to stay on their splayed
knees for balance.

Dr. Brackett said, "She's got some tar in
her right bronchial tree. But she's not
obstructed that badly." He quickly suctioned
out what he could and withdrew the
scope. "Roy.." he said unnecessarily as
the blond headed paramedic began to ventilate
her once again on the O2 to compensate
for the lost time they weren't breathing for her.

Brackett began snapping out orders for a more
secure type of airway and a precautionary IV.
"She's gonna need a pulmonary flushing when
we get into Rampart."

"Is Maureen going to make it?" one concerned
tar blackened archeologist asked.

Kel's mouthed twitched into a smile.
"Yeah, I think so. The only hurdle will be
that secondarly pneumonia. Doesn't look like
she was poisoned too much from any methane.
I didn't see any tracheal burns."
Then he noticed another skull firmly gripped
in the scientist's grasp. "You can relax now, sir.
Maureen's perfectly safe."

The shell shocked archeologist suddenly blinked
and realized what the doctor was looking
at. "Oh.. uh, this is a closed mouthed sabre
tooth head. Very rare. It was what Maureen was
tugging at when the wall gave way. She'll
kill me if she wakes up and I don't have it."
he remarked.

"Let's get her bundled up and out of here."
Cap grinned.

Soon, it was done.

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Dixie McCall's eyes bugged out in sheer horror
when she saw three tar black figures arrive onto
her newly waxed ER department floor. "Oh, no..
she sighed. "Treatment Q.." she amended,
thinking fast. That was the nearest room
to the entryway portal. ::It's also a quarantine
room. No doubt we're gonna need that negative
air pressure in there to control the stench. Yuck!::
she thought, holding one hand over her nose.
"Nice choice of cologne.." she teased Kel out loud
as he helped Roy push the gurney inside as Gage
bag valved breathed for the woman. She literally
jumped when she spotted a slimy skull on the
woman's stomach when she attempted to lay
eyes on the area to get a respirations
count for Kel while they moved her.
"Ahhh!" McCall screeched. She rocked back
on her heels, controlling her reactions.

Kel grinned toothily through his stinky slime.
"It's a souvenir, Dix.. Don't you like it?"
and he picked up the long fanged skull
and clapped its gaping jaws open and
shut in her face once or twice.

She glared at him. "I'd rather it have been
a can of fresh Columbian coffee grounds." she
said icily.

Then she held an admonishing finger up to
the two medics getting a set of vitals
using equipment she couldn't distinguish
from them because of all the tar. "You boys'd
better plan on abandoning all that stuff.
Including your clothes. Environmental will flay
me alive if I allowed you to carry that ...that

"Million year old fossilized tar?" Kel offered helpfully.

"Thank you.." Dix sputtered. "..that tar any further
into the hospital. I'll requisition a complete new
vitals kit for the squad and scrubs for you all
right now." She gingerly moved around a puddle
of ooze so she wouldn't get any onto her polished
white nurse shoes as she took a step towards the
ER phone.

Right then, Kel's nose finally had had enough of
all the fumes and he sneezed powerfully, raining
a mist of fine tarry black all across Dixie's back.

His face fell open in instant mortification
when she hunched up her shoulders and froze
the second she realized the stench in the room was
somehow, now her.

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