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"Ok.. uh, would you like to split up the kids and
have my men take one or two each to show
them around the firehouse?" Hank asked.

"That would be wonderful..Might work out
better separating them like that. They can be
a handful.." she laughed. " The kids were
so excited about coming here for their
annual field trip.."

"No problem.. They know to rejoin you
immediately if the call tones go off for us?"

"Yes. We've rehearsed that just before coming

Chet picked two of the older boys and said,
"Right, You and you. We get to play with
the sirens first..Race ya!!" and the curly haired
firemen with his two shadows headed off
in a mad dash for the La France..

"Aww, man.." said one boy not picked,
watching them go..

Roy picked him up. "We'll all get a turn.
Just be patient there. What Fireman Kelly
doesn't know is that MY group gets
to wear the helmets first.... Who's coming....?"

"Me!! Me!!" came a girl's voice,  a blond child
dressed in blue and red.

"Ok, looks like we go with this young lady here
all right..?.." he said, setting down the
disappointed boy. Roy and his two children
trundled off to the garage shed after Chet's
group of two. "Marco, why don't you come
with me?" his voice floated back. "We'll get
out our two helmets from the squad.."

"Sure thing pal.." Lopez said, giving the elementary
teacher a jaunty wave of departure. And he, too,
disappeared through the kitchen door.

Johnny took two more girls, twins, to show
them the hoses in the back yard so they
could play man the hose by the old engine
parked out back. His two children eagerly
ran up to the antique and climbed on board it.

Cap saw where they were through the kitchen
window and grinned when they all heard the brass
bell go off as the two girls experimented..

Then he looked down at the final child, a
very tiny boy with glasses, still holding his
teacher's hand. He knelt by his side. "Hey
son, why the long face? I'm the only fireman in this
whole station house who's the captain.."

"Wow.." he said, eyes getting really big..

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"Yeah, so it looks like you and
me are the only ones left.. That means we
get to do the best thing before any of the others..
Mike's gonna stay back and chat with Miss Thorne here
while we get to go do the tour..
Have you ever seen a dispatch radio before?"

Cindy, Cap and Mike all grinned, thoroughly captivated
by the cute awed expression on the boy's face when
he slowly shook his head from side to side in hushed

Cap went on.."Well, I can let you talk to Sam, the man
who calls out all the firemen everywhere to
respond on rescues if you'd like.."

"Wow.. can I really do that?"

Cap winked at Cindy.. "It'll be the afternoon station's
check.." he said aside.
"Right this way.." Cap said, bending over
and taking the herostunned boy's tiny hand
into his own big one.

They disappeared out to the garage too,
to the radio substation alcove by the big
LA County map.

Stoker was left with Miss Thorne by the table
"Well, have a seat. This may take a while. The
gang gets pretty entertaining whenever school
tours stop on by...."

"I can just imagine..." Cindy said.. as sirens
and engine hoots and antique pumper bells
filled the air punctuated by animated laughter
from both children and firemen alike..

Then she heard a subtle whining that she
hadn't noticed before because of her student's
happy noises.....  "Do you have a station dog
around here, Mr. Stoker? I think I'm hearing one."

"Oh, yes, That's Bonnie. She's having an off
day today. She just started carrying on about
two minutes before you and the kids arrived.
It's nothing. As far as we can tell there's nothing
wrong with her. She's right there under the couch."

"Poor thing. She doesn't sound too happy
right now at all. One would think that she was
upset because of the kids.."

"oh, no, Miss Thorne. She's usually running around
playing tag with them full throt--" Mike broke
off his sentence when Bonnie's crying suddenly
ceased abruptly.

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A subtle low rumble rose from the ground and
trembled into a great belching roar that slammed
into their ears, shaking Station 51 up to the
rafters .

Laughter turned to screams from the children
as the full teeth of a sudden earthquake threw them
to the ground whereever they were from truck
or hose like paper dolls.

Out in the garage, the tremor burst open the
main doors and they squealed in metal
shrieks as they rose in their tracks until
the fierce shuddering split them apart.


In the fire engine..Chet grabbed his two boys and
shoved their heads down onto the
floor as he himself ducked as the ceiling
came down in the garage, lights, rafter,
roof and all, on top of the LaFrance only
narrowly missing Roy's side of the rescue


Roy had his two students under the squad,
and all three were choking on dust from the
walls and from the stove's ruptured gas line
pouring from the darkened kitchen.
He hugged the children's helmeted heads
tightly to himself and started to pray..


Cap shouted but couldn't be heard over
the roar of violated earth moving beneath
the foundations. He yanked his terrified
student deeper into the comm's alcove
and pushed him against the wall to cover
him up with his own body as the garage
roof caved in behind them over the engine
and part of the squad.


Simultaneously, out in the yard, Johnny
managed to grab the two girls with him off
the old engine and he brought them
to the ground into the only open area
away from the yard's brickwalls, before
they swayed, disintegrated and collapsed
around them.

In his worry for the girls, Gage,
wasn't fast enough to get himself into
the clear.

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Only twenty feet away, the kitchen was
remaining intact, shaking and shuddering.
Mike Stoker and Cindy crawled
under the swaying, shifting table,
with Cindy screaming all the while
for the children at the top of her voice.

Dust and tremendous destructive
noise filled the air everywhere, for
about a minute more, before silence fell over
the place where six firemen, seven children
and one teacher had been playing so
joyfully a short time before.



Cars on the boulevard outside Station 51,
skidded out of control and screeched brakes
as their equilibrium was thrown off as the
earthquake sputtered and writhed around
them. Then an awful quiet fell over stopped
traffic as people, one by one, staggered
from their halted vehicles.

One driver looked up and couldn't believe
his eyes. The firehouse he normally
drove by everyday, had its garage
collapsed down on top of its
rescue squad and engine until only
its outer walls were standing.

"Oh my god..!" he said, "The crew must still in
there!" and he and others rushed forward,
but the earthquake had sent the water from
burst hydrant out front, high into the air and
smothering clouds of dirt and dust kept them
from getting closer to the partially
downed firehouse.

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Click Rescue Squad to
  Goto Page Ten :)

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