A Year In Seattle
Thursday, September 7th, 2056 – A shooting range.
Casey and I got to the station around 4:00. It was probably for the best because that was the last thing to go right all night. First call was an officer-involved shooting. Of course, dispatch failed to mention that the shooting was still going on, and there were a lot more people involved than just the officer.
A sniper had set himself up on one of the high rises and just started shooting. Right at rush hour, with at least three hours of daylight to back him up. By the time we’d gotten there, he’d already gotten at least 20 people.
As we pulled in, we got a very serious reminder that the ambulance is not an armored vehicle. One bullet went through the roof and lodged in the floor about 2 feet from the ‘jump’ seat, where I was sitting.
Ray called dispatch with a ‘situation’ report, and we were informed that dispatch was fully aware of what was happening and that the situation would be dealt with accordingly. We were to remain in the area and help once the area was secured.
They weren’t spelling things out, because they didn’t want people to panic. So instead they simply pretended it was a normal call. Meanwhile, people were getting hurt.
What happened next was pure chaos as another sniper opened fire from the opposite side of the street. All the people who had taken cover from the first sniper were now sitting ducks for the second.
Without thinking about it, or discussing it, all three of us went into action. Ray backed the ambulance back into an alleyway while Casey and I started putting on bulletproof vests. Another addition to our gear that I really didn’t mind. All too often snipers spell medic ‘T a r g e t ‘. Not this puppy.
We were about to exit the truck when Ray whistled for us. We looked out the front window and Casey and I smiled at each other. There was an armored car on the edge of the target zone. One quick call to dispatch, and they took care of the rest. The driver moved over and let us load our gear. Now we were armored, and we had something we could work with.
As we worked several other armored cars began coming in, and we managed to evacuate most of the stranded motorists. It was tough, tense, intense– and exactly what I love about my job. We made a difference out there. We did our job and the Star did theirs.
And for once, people didn’t complain about us damaging vehicles
Friday September 8th 2056 – 15 minutes, or thank you Andy Warhol
It was all over the news today: the shooting, stories of courage under fire, the men who ‘Held the City Hostage’ for 3 hours and the men who stopped them. It was a media feeding frenzy. Three-hour specials with a full analysis of how the snipers were able to take control, full graphical simulations of what was happening and how the Star was helpless to stop them until the choppers arrived.
I think they interviewed every man woman and child in a 30 block radius of the site. All told we had 57 injured, 27 of whom were serious and another 6 who were critical. there were also 13 fatalities, including the snipers and three officers.
Loomis, Wells-Fargo, and InnerSite Armored Car services were cited with saving the day. They tried to cite Citiwide with the idea, but that didn’t last too long. They were the heroes, and we were incidental. I don’t really mind, especially after seeing the reporters pounce on two of the Wells-Fagro drivers. Man, they were worse than the snipers, and there were a lot more of them.
Casey was amused by the whole thing, and I was relieved– until we reached the station. Then we got ambushed as well. Everybody wanted ‘our story.’
“Our Story.” Right, they wanted something they could use something touching, or traumatic or something from the ‘shame’ file. Thing was, we all knew that if we didn’t supply a good enough story, odds were, they’d make one up for us.
Great place to be when you’re supposedly under federal protection and laying low. Fortunately, they decided we were way too boring for the viewing public, and moved on to the ‘real heroes.’
We got a laugh out of that one, but of course, we waited until they were well out of sight. No need taking chances. Things were pretty sedate tonight, which is a relief.
I did find out that I’m needed downtown tomorrow morning to testify in Doc River’s Grand Jury hearings. They were going to send a Federal officer around for me, but since Casey’s already following me around, it looks like I’m going to drop by on the way home in the morning. That means I try and get some sleep tonight and hope that nothing happens.
(Which means I’ll catch a few 15-minute naps here and there if I’m lucky.) I will be so glad when this is over.
Saturday, September 9th, 2056 – Blind Sided
As soon as we got to the Federal Building, I knew something was wrong. I couldn’t really put my finger on it, but something just radiated from the place, especially the room where the Grand Jury was convening.
Casey gave me an encouraging smile. It was almost as if he couldn’t feel it, but after living with the man for less then two weeks, I knew better.
As we moved into the room he whispered, “stay close, be ready to move.”
I nodded, Neither of us had any way of knowing what was wrong, only that something was wrong. We both felt it and went in hoping that would be enough.
As Casey led me in from the back of the room, Doc Rivers turned, only it wasn’t Doc Rivers. I froze, backing up just a little. Casey looked at me and then at Doc Rivers, as his face melted, transformed. He was no longer even human, he was huge, female, and very familiar.
It was Big and Blobby from my nightmares. She threw River’s attorney to the side as she stood and started to move in on us.
“Should have stayed at home,” she growled at me.
Casey moved forward, placing himself between her and me. As he concentrated on her, I felt a hand on my shoulder. My mind started to swim like it had when I’d blacked out: the Thin Man, Eleanor Kapisniak’s mind reading sidekick.
I was starting to gray out, there was no time to think, no time to do anything but react. I dropped like I was passing out, but as I hit the ground I kicked my legs together and spun around. I was on the ground, but at least so was he. I managed to surprise him, but I knew that wasn’t going to last.
I knew that if he recovered, there was nothing any of us could do. Without thinking I put him into a sleeper hold and prayed that I lasted longer than he did. My head was swimming as he fought to regain control. I almost grayed out again before everything cleared up.
As it did I heard a scream from the room. It was as if everyone had unfrozen at that instant. Without the Thin Man controlling what they saw, they got a sudden dose of reality.
Finally, people were moving. Security was closing in on us, on Casey and the Orc woman who was trying to tear him to pieces.
As they moved, Big and Blobby growled incoherently and threw Casey to the side. I could see her debate between me and the door.
I guess the door was too far, or she was just too ticked off to care. I heard the gunshot as her fist connected with my head.
Next thing I know, I’m in the back of an ambulance with Walter checking my pulse and my pupillary response. I don’t know for sure, but I was probably registering about an 8 on the Glasgow scale.
(The Glasgow coma scale is used to establish the degree of consciousness in a patient… its based on response to stimuli. Ratings range from 3-15 with 15 being the highest)
|To Verbal command||3|
|Best Motor Response|
|To verbal Command Obeys||6|
|Painful Stimulus Localizes pain||5|
|Oriented and converses||5|
|Disoriented and converses||4|
By the time I woke up the worst of it was presumably over. The police had found Rivers under the bunk in his cell. It looked as if he’d been scared to death, except from the huge hand sized bruises around his neck. Casey filled me in as I stared at the sling holding up his right, heavily casted, arm.
I remember groaning something intelligent like, “sorry.”
He just smiled at me and shook his head. “Trouble magnet,” he teased.
I think my scale rating slid a bit at that point, I was muttering incoherently. That lasted until a small voice yelled “Dad!” and a whirlwind of arms and legs barreled into Casey.
He knelt down and was hugging what turned out to be a little boy. Then a woman, who could only be his wife (ex-wife actually) came in. It was hard to tell which of us she disapproved of more, Casey or me.
I found out it was definitely me. Seems she ‘knew all about me’ from a pair of Feds that had stopped by to ask her some questions.
That set both Casey and me on edge. The woman may have been ticked off, but she was alert enough to notice the change. “You aren’t an informant are you?”
I shook my head slowly. “Jess Miller… Paramedic… material witness,” I said, introducing myself. I was really regretting trying to shake my head at that point.
I could see the change in her eyes. She wasn’t angry at me anymore. She was startled to find out that the real threat had been in her home; that she had let them into her home. She was angry: angry and scared.
“Dammit, Jase!” She swore as she glared at Casey, then looked worriedly at their son.
I could see the tension between them. They may disagree about a lot of things, but it was obvious that their son came first. I could see Casey trying to work his way out of this one. He couldn’t protect them and me.
“Case,” I called. “Call Andrews… or Jonathan… they’ll take care of me…”
I could see the relief and worry in his eyes. I was giving him a way out of this and, as usual, he hadn’t missed a thing. He nodded briefly, then met my gaze.
“Jess, make sure you aren’t alone at night,” he warned. “That thing will be back if you are… stay with someone. I don’t know how long the summoning will last, but as long as its out there, it will be hunting you.”
I wanted more information, but I knew there wasn’t time: Casey was already making calls and once again, everything was in turmoil.
Sunday, September 10th, 2056 – Seventeen
They say doctors make the worst patients… According to the nurses I’ve dealt with today though it’s us medics. I think I’ll have to agree with her. I make a lousy patient.
Andrews stayed with me throughout the night, Jonathan through the day. I found out from Jonathan that there was nothing Mrs. Walker could do for me… seems magic has its ‘golden hour’ as well.
My jaw is sore, I look like I’ve been through a meat grinder and I can’t seem to think straight. The doctors are concerned about that. Concerned enough that they slated me for all sorts of tests and scans for tomorrow. I have to admit, if I wasn’t worried before, I am now.
Citywide’s concerned ‘cause I’ve missed too many days for a medic who’s only been on the job a little over two months.
Now, most of the absences are directly involved with an actual ‘on the job incident.’ The problem is most of those absences were legal oriented, not medical. Medical would have been acceptable and as far as they’re concerned, this is legal, not medical. I don’t entirely follow their reasoning, but since I was injured during a Grand Jury hearing, its legal.
That coupled with last Tuesday’s hearing is enough for them to flag my file and put me on probation if they want to. I don’t think they will, but it’s one more thing for me to worry about.
We haven’t heard from Casey, but Jonathan and Andrews both assure me that he can more than take care of himself. I know they’re probably right, but it doesn’t mean I’m not worried. It really bothers me that these two would stoop so low as to even indirectly threaten Casey and his family. I think we both know that they wanted Casey to feel threatened; to leave me unprotected, to make him choose between me and his family.
Hopefully, they didn’t count on Jonathan and Andrews. Then again, they were probably counting on me being at home, or on the job, not in the hospital. It’s a good thing that everybody out to get me didn’t decide to just start working together. If they did, I’d be toast.
The really big problem with all of this is the fact that I have way too much time to think. Being in a hospital, I’m leaning towards contemplating my mortality. A lot. I need to be at work, it’s the only thing that lends a sense of order to this chaotic existence I call my life.
Walter visited me in the evening. He told me that I was the ‘best’ concussion he’d had in a while.
I asked him about my Glasgow rating on the ride in and he laughed. He told me I was… ‘happy.’ And when he asked me how I felt I kept asking him if he’d gotten the number of the truck that hit me.
He told me the oddest answer I’d given was when he’d held two fingers in front of my face and asked me how many fingers he was holding up. I’d answered, ‘seventeen.’
I had to laugh at that one, but I could see the worry in his eyes.
“Don’t do that to me again, Baltimore,” he told me gruffly.
I smiled. I have no intention of a repeat performance. Then again, I didn’t plan the premier either.
Monday, September 11th, 2056 – Nothing but a headache
I didn’t sleep well last night. It’s probably a combination of the warning Casey had given me and anxiety over today’s tests I guess.
I hope that’s all it is.
I heard the cat cry again last night. I know it set Andrews on edge. I wonder if Casey told him about it. If he did Andrews didn’t say anything about it.
Jonathan took over the role of my guardian around seven this morning and sat with me through the barrage of tests that took up most of the morning. They didn’t do much to reassure me, I can tell you. By the time they were done, I was more than a little irritable.
The first battery was inconclusive and so they’d moved on to more comprehensive tests. By lunchtime, I had had enough of it. They said they’d have the test results in a few hours but I still hadn’t heard from the doctor by dinner and things were getting worse.
I was still having trouble concentrating and I could feel a headache building up behind my eyes.
I knew something was very wrong and waiting for the doctor only seemed to make things worse. Finally, when he did show up, he pulled Jonathan aside to talk to him.
I nearly blew a gasket I mean, *I* was the one who they were discussing. It wasn’t until Jonathan came back with the doctor that I began to understand.
“Jess,” the doctor called to me gently.
“What’s wrong with me,” I snapped.
“Jess,” Jonathan urged calmly. “Nothing is wrong…”
I’m pretty sure I glared at him after that, but the doctor only seemed to accept this as further evidence. When he told me his prognosis, I was offended, angry, practically belligerent but finally– I realized he was probably right: post-concussive syndrome.
The test results had come back negative, because there was nothing for them to find– nothing physical that is. It was literally ‘all in my head.’
The insomnia, the lack of concentration, the headaches, it was all my mind’s way of coping, or not coping with what had happened to me.
Oddly, I was relieved. Now that I know what’s wrong, I know what I’m up against. My own mind is causing the problems and I need to get it back under control. It’s that simple really– that simple and that complicated.
Balance. I need to relax and get over this… all of it. I need to find whatever my mind can’t cope with and then find a way to cope with it.
Until I do, I’m not doing myself or anybody else any good.
Only thing is– I don’t know if I can do this alone. Then again, with Jonathan, Andrews, Mario, Trina and everybody else, I’m not really alone. It’ll take some time, but now I know I’ll be all right, and that makes it bearable.
Tuesday, September 12th, 2056 – Sunshine, fresh air, and Mrs. Walker’s cooking
Well, they kicked me out of the hospital this morning. I could see the relief in the nurse’s eyes when she handed me the release forms. Can’t say as I blame her.
Like I said, I don’t make a very good patient. I’m still fighting monster headaches, but at least I can force myself to concentrate when I have to. I think things will be a lot easier once I’m back to my regular routine and I don’t have time to think about it.
Casey showed up to escort me from the hospital. He looked tired but satisfied. I could tell by his expression that his family was safe and that he was back, not only to protect me but to see to it that these two never have a chance to threaten his family again.
I agree completely with him on that, and on the idea of them never bothering me again for that matter.
He smiled and wheeled me out of the hospital. It felt good to be out of there and I was looking forward to going home. I was surprised when Jonathan drove up and opened the doors for us. I’d forgotten, part of my agreement with Casey involved me staying on Council Island between shifts. I have to admit, it should make it harder for anybody to get to me, it just means my life is once again on hold.
Who am I kidding, my life’s been on hold since I came out here.
By the time we got to Council Island, I was working on my third headache and was a little more anxious than I really wanted to be. I guess I keep waiting for the next bomb to fall.
I’d like to say that *that* is all in my head, but I know better. Trouble’s been doing a really good job of finding me and I don’t think she has any intention of stopping anytime soon.
Mrs. Walker watched over me as I ate and then made me go to bed. I wasn’t really tired but I knew I needed it. I could hear her humming in the next room and I could smell something fresh and green and just a little smokey wafting through the room.
I woke up about three hours later feeling much better. Mrs. Walker just smiled at me and sent me out to play with Michael. She told me I don’t play enough.
I certainly got my share this afternoon. I’m tired enough that I should sleep well tonight, I think that’s her plan at any rate.
Wednesday, September 13th, 2056 – A matter of security.
I woke up this morning and for the first time in three days, my head wasn’t pounding. That alone was enough to make me smile. I could feel some of the kinks unwind as I got up and took a shower. I was smiling when I reached the kitchen, but then the tension was back. One look at Jonathan and I knew something had happened last night.
“What?” I asked. I could feel myself starting to lose it again. Normally I can roll with the punches, but they’ve been coming so fast and furiously that I can’t miss ‘em all. The courtroom was a perfect example.
Jonathan came over and gave me a gentle brotherly hug. “They tried to bully their way through security,” he told me gently. “Nobody was hurt, but they got away.”
I nodded woodenly, but he wouldn’t let go of me. Not until I stopped trembling. I hate being like that. I’m used to taking charge of my life, not being the ‘frail little flower’ that needs protecting.
Jonathan let go of me when he heard a slight growl escape my lips.
“Jess?” he asked questioningly as he looked into my eyes.
“I’m fed up is all,” I told him. I know my voice was strained, but it was there– the ramrod down the spine. I can only be pushed so far, and I’d reached my limit.
“So,” Casey asked from the other side of the kitchen table. “What are we going to do about it?”
I looked at him and then at Jonathan, who gently led me to the table and let me take a seat. They’d been waiting for that I think. I was about to ask for a map when Casey brought out an electronic map and placed it in the middle of the table, then hit the switch. A map of the Island and the surrounding parts of Seattle sprang to life.
He’d placed it so that the display would be facing me. But he seemed perfectly comfortable dealing with a mirror image of everything. With a stylus, he pointed out where they’d tried to come across, but there were other bridges and ferries that come here all the time. Those at least are regulated. They could still try and boat here on their own, or worse, go for an aerial attack.
I really didn’t like that idea, especially since Mike and I had been out playing just the other day. “If they’re going to attack,” I finally sighed. “We want to be someplace where we can control the field. They’ll be picking me at my most vulnerable…”
Casey nodded. “I figure that’s when you’re on a motorcycle call.”
I nodded. “Yeah, I’m alone for five to ten minutes, sometimes more, but there’s usually a police officer nearby.”
“So they’d have to hit you from a longer distance if they wanted to get away,” Casey agreed.
“Or flash their badge,” I reminded him. Communications between agencies had always been a problem and these two had already used it to their advantage. I thought about that for a moment then looked back at Casey. “Any word on what those pictures were about– what they were smuggling? Why these two are so hell-bent to eliminate me even now that it’s too late?”
Casey shook his head. “They say that it’s a security issue.”
I couldn’t help but notice his derisive snort, or sharing it.
After reviewing the map, we realized that if they were going to try something her, last night was it. They’re smart enough to know that security has locked down on me. The only other thing they could try would be something like a sniper from the water, or from a remote. The remote was unlikely since the security procedures here included a field that would disrupt the controls for a remote. Still, I don’t think I’m going to be going outside the next few days.
I’m still on medical leave. Two more days and then I go back and get checked out, and hopefully declared fit for duty. In the meantime, I think Ray’s partnered with Walter.
The immediate covered, we started trying to work out the next phase: how to get me at work. The firehouse itself could be a veritable fortress, and probably the last choice for a simple hit. The question was, were they willing to sacrifice a few innocent bystanders to get to me?
I didn’t think so. I mean, their threat to Casey’s family was veiled, more of a ‘see what we could do if we wanted to’ sort of thing. Cat and mouse games, not a direct attack.
Casey nodded as I thought. He was thinking the same thing. We worked on it off and on throughout the day. There was no way for us to control the calls we got, or how we handled them really, all we could do was be prepared.
I wasn’t really in the mood to play bait again. I’ve done that enough lately, thank you.
Copyright 1999 – M.T. Decker