A Year in Seattle – Week 14 – Getting in Step

A Year In Seattle

Week Fourteen

Thursday, September 21st, 2056 – Third wheel

I checked on Casey in the morning; Therese was there to drive him home. I figured they have things they need to discuss, so I vamoosed. With nothing better to do until shift started, I headed back to Lynwood and the clinic.

I figured it was about time I checked in on Trina and see how things were going there. I think it’s the first time I really noticed the work people had done when they rebuilt the clinic. The walls were ever so slightly thicker, and the glass had been replaced with some sort of Poly that looked virtually unbreakable.

It was amazingly well done, and barely noticeable. I started feeling guilty about not being there all that much, but that didn’t last long. It never does where Trina’s concerned.

I gave her the low down on everything that happened. She made me sit on an exam table as she checked me out herself. When she was satisfied that no lasting damage had been done, she let me off the hook and the table.

I helped out until 4:00 and then headed for the station. It felt good to ride there on my own– good, and yet slightly… wrong. It’s amazing how quickly I got used to having company. I got to the station and reported in for duty. Ray was really relieved to see me, after a week of Walter I can understand.

“You ready to work, Miller?” Cap growled at me. “Or are you just visiting these poor slobs?”

“I’m here to work sir,” I answered with a nod.

“‘Bout time,” he was still growling, but I could see the smile on his face. “Got anything on the side I should know about?”

I thought for a moment. “Not that I know of.”

“Good,” he answered. “Let’s see if we can get some work done around here then.”

It was nice to lose myself in routine. We reviewed the day’s cases and Ray brought me up to speed on what I’d missed.

He noticed I was still wearing my vest but didn’t say anything. Then I noticed he was wearing his too. We both got a laugh out of that. I briefed him on the simulator and he agreed that it was probably a good idea. The only problem is when you’re in a simulator, you know it’s a simulator. You aren’t going to die. In the real world, you could.

We both know that, but we also both know that the more you do something the more second nature it becomes and sometimes that’s what keeps you from going down.

It was a good night’s work. Seven accidents, a stabbing, a woman having trouble breathing and only one cardiac. I was back in action, and loving every minute of it.

Friday, September 22rd 2056 – Always on duty

The day started out quietly. I’d forgotten what that could be like. I woke up around 2:00, stopped by the clinic, spent an hour helping out, then headed on into work. I was taking my time, enjoying a nice sunny day.

I had my scanner going, so I heard the call: a shooting about 5 blocks from where I was. I wasn’t officially on duty, but let’s face it, I was on duty. I was close enough that I got there even before DocWagon. Now that’s rare.

With all their equipment and money, they can afford to be anywhere, anytime– full response, full cover. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I’d been tempted to join them. Better hours, better pay– but I like to feel like I’m helping people, not just the people who can pay.

When I got there, the man who looked like he’d done the shooting had been dispatched by a rather angry looking Asian man. He was still holding his sword in what Matt called a ready stance. Something that doesn’t look too threatening, but can be in a matter of seconds.

As I moved forward to check on his companion, he stepped between us. “DocWagon has been called.”

I nodded, then shook my head. “They’ll be here, but in the meantime, I’m a paramedic,” I carefully pulled out my ID and showed it to him. He was singularly unimpressed. I could tell by the sound of his companion’s breathing that he had a sucking chest wound. Once you’ve heard it, you never forget that sound.

“Look,” I told him. “Your friend has a sucking chest wound. The sooner treatment is started, the better off he’ll be.”

I studied him for a moment and realized that he was not this man’s friend, but his bodyguard. It was just something in the way he carried himself, reminded me of a guy I used to date in Baltimore.

“My guess is, you’re sworn to protect him,” I watched as he made a half nod at my statement. “I’ve sworn to preserve life… right now, our goals are the same…”

I could see him waver for a moment, and then finally he nodded. I was immediately on my knees working on his boss. It wasn’t easy to ignore the sword that was carefully placed so that he could dispatch me, should the need arise, but I did my best.

I’d gotten the entry and exit wounds sealed and was about to administer oxygen when the DocWagon, High Threat Response Team ™ showed up.

One of their security types demanded that I move away from the victim. I looked at him and sighed. “Chest wound, pulse 40 and thready, pupils non-reactive… get a medic, NOW!”

I can at least say, he was bright enough to figure out what was going on. He gave the all clear as the bodyguard sheathed his sword. Three of their medics piled out and took over as I filled out an incident report and handed them a copy.

Then they were gone and I was left to gather up my gear and head on into work. After that… things seemed rather slow.

Saturday, September 23rd, 2056 – Street Fire

I got to visit Mike on the way home. We watched a few cartoons and had breakfast. It was a nice bit of normalcy in an otherwise chaotic day. Mrs. Walker suggested I just stay there and get some rest before my shift starts. I didn’t plan on it, but I was already drifting.

When I woke up, she had a simple breakfast waiting for me. She had that ‘mom up to something grin’ again, and when I got to my bike, I could tell what she’d been up to. My bike had that same ‘feel’ to it as my uniform. There was nothing visible, but I could feel the magic surrounding it. It was almost as if the bike had taken on a limited life of its own.

I looked at her and sighed. “You’re going to try and take care of me in spite of myself, aren’t you?”

She smiled and grinned. “It is a mother’s job,” she told me softly. “And you child, need more protecting than most.”

I had to laugh at that one. It didn’t used to be true. I did have a normal life once. I think I was twelve at the time. Fortunately my luck, fickle though it may be, may get me in trouble, but it’s also managed to keep me alive. I guess I can’t complain too much.

As I got on the bike, I could see Mrs. Walker’s satisfied smile. She could tell I was still wearing my vest.

When I got to the station, I clocked in and began working on the bike. I’m half tempted to take it over to Council Island and let Mrs. Walker give it the once over, especially after the way the rest of the shift went.

In the evening we had the usual problem with people enjoying the weekend a little too much. I could never understand the need to impair oneself in order to have a good time. The problem with a lot of the ‘recreational chemicals,’ is the fact that everything is impaired, especially judgment.

Things that would normally be a minor irritation become unbearable, an injustice or insult that must be handled right then and there. Problem is, when people go into that mode, even the medic is the enemy.

I managed to deal with most of them rather well. One advantage to my size and demeanor- most of the time it gets through to some functioning part of their mind that I am smaller than they are, someone to be protected. Most of the time.

One of our patients was actually smaller than me, smaller and feistier. Turns out that she was also not really human. She was a paranormal. Nothing like working on a woman who’d been in a bar brawl and have her suddenly come to- and change. One minute I’m working on a concussion with some minor cuts and bruises, next I’m trying to keep from being bitten by a very ticked off Wolf.

Sometimes I really hate what’s happened to the world. I don’t have any problem with Metahumans, magic can be a bit freaky, but right then I was really beginning to dislike shapeshifters.

The only good thing was the fact that when she shifted to her normal form, the wolf’s physiology didn’t seem affected by the chemicals that had gotten her human form into such trouble. As soon as she got a good idea of what was going on, she calmed down and trotted off.

I wish I could have shaken the adrenalin rush as easily. I was still trembling when I went back to work with Ray on the other combatant.

“Where’s yours?” he asked without looking up.

After a pause I said, “she refused treatment.”

It took me a little while to shake it off, but I wasn’t given much time to think about it. As soon as we called in that we were back in service, we were on another run.

The evening revelers gave way to the hardcore troublemakers. One gang fight, two drive-by shootings, three stabbing and a Molotov related fire with injuries.

Fortunately, they got tired too. We were finally looking forward to that 3 hour period between exhaustion and morning.

The calls had died down when Cap came in with a police scanner. Lone Star was in serious pursuit, along with security from Ares. Someone had broken out of their main office and was tearing up the town trying to put some distance between them and their pursuers.

That meant even more work for us. There had already been 3 accidents with PI reported, and from the sounds of things, a lot more coming. They were heading our way, and as we headed towards the rig, Cap held up his hand.

“Watch it, boys and girls,” he commented. “Sounds like the Ares folks want them badly enough that they’re actually taking on the Star on this one.”

I turned in surprise. Why would a security team try and take out the Star? They were on the same side, weren’t they?–Unless…

I felt my stomach fall with that thought. “Unless,” how can one word evoke so much terror? It meant the suspects had something that they did not want to be found. Something that shouldn’t have gotten out of their precious little base. Something that if we ended up too close, could make us the victims of ‘friendly fire.’

Whoever these actors were, it was a good bet they were desperate. They’re escape was anything but subtle. Even as we prepped our equipment, I couldn’t help but wonder– what else was going on while everybody was concentrating on this. I couldn’t help but think of Fin and the little– incident with Aztechnology. The explosion had to be a diversionary thing, cover for the real action. I wondered if this was the case, or if somebody’s luck was about to come crashing in headlong into mine. At least with Fin, whatever he’d done was relatively quiet, as was Aztechnology’s retribution, this was so public it wasn’t funny…

There were another two accidents, one involving the lead Lone Star Car and an Ares security team, by the time they reached our district, all hell was breaking loose. We started rolling, figuring on being mobile when the guano really started flying.

It didn’t take long for it to happen either. We were paralleling the action, trying to avoid becoming causalities ourselves, while remaining available to help those who already were. That’s when I got an object lesson on the lethal capabilities of some of the technology available.

As I paralleled the action, I heard a faint buzz, that turned into a roar as a remote performed strafing runs down the alley I was following, like I didn’t have enough to evade already.

I swerved up a side street, which took me a lot closer to the pursuit than I wanted to be. The remote was doing its level best to stay with me, and I was doing my best to lose it, and steer clear of the ongoing carnage ahead. I was running out of room and about to willfully dump the bike rather than go any further. Right before I did, it buzzed past me and started adding to the chaos ahead.

It was over quickly with the getaway car outdistancing themselves from the Star as the drone held them off. I waited until I heard the all clear, which was given from an Ares helicopter. As I pulled out of the alleyway to survey the damage, I could see the car in flames– and an Ares team cleaning up the area.

When I approached them, I was warned off. This was their jurisdiction. It didn’t seem wise to argue with the hardware the man was packing, so I went back and worked my way through triaging the rest of the scene.

Most of the injuries were minor, whiplash, fractured bones. We had a couple of extractions to do. By the time we finished, Ares had already cleaned up the scene below. It was almost as if nothing had happened.

I couldn’t help but feel a chill. That could have been the boys, or Fin– or even me, and it was all for nothing.

Sunday, September 24th, 2056 – Hell Hounds, Ancients and medics… oh my.

Yesterday’s clean up lasted well into the morning shift. By the time we were done filing reports and cleaning up, it was too late to go home. Staying was out of the question. Sure I could have crashed on one of the bunks, but I know me. If I’m there and a call comes in, I’m not going to sleep.

I ended up crashing over at Ray’s. He’s got an apartment about 3 blocks from the station. It was a one bedroom quasi-efficiency apartment. There was a semi wall between the sleeping room and the main room. I could hear him snoring in the other room. I was tired enough that it actually lulled me to sleep.

When I woke up Ray was in the shower. I hadn’t brushed my teeth in over twenty-four hours and they felt like they were wearing mittens.

Yeah, I can look at a multiple car pile up with fatal and critical injuries, attend autopsies… but man… please let me brush my teeth!

Guess we all have our pet quirks.

While I was pondering this Ray finished his shower and tossed me a towel. After a shower and a quick bite, we were heading back to the station. We drove by the area where the chase had ended, but it was almost as if it had never happened. There were some signs of scorched pavement, where the car and those in it had met their end, but that was it.

Ray nodded to me and I turned on the scanner. Best way I know to find out what’s going on in the world. The police calls were low, which is a good sign. It is, after all, Sunday afternoon. For some people, it does make a difference, but for us– its another day on the job. There was nothing there or on the radio about last night’s chase, making it sound like it was a slow night for us, but we’d been there, we knew better.

Ray looked at me, knowing that my curiosity was running a mile a minute. He just shook his head. “Jess– one of these days your luck is going to run out, and I don’t want to be in the same state when it does.”

I tried to smile innocently at him, but we both knew it wasn’t working.

“I’ll send you a letter when it does,” I promised.

He chuckled. “Wonder what tonight has in store for us,” he muttered as he hit the gas and took us out of the area.

“If my luck holds true to form, either World War III or an ‘Injured Cat in tree’ call, let’s see how things went for first shift before we decide.”

It didn’t take us long to figure out what kind of day they’d had. Every vehicle had been serviced, washed, and waxed. Yeah, we get the hard night and they get the easy stuff. Figures.

Ray and I just looked at each other and in unison agreed: “World War III.”

I think if I worked in a normal place, no one would have understood the exchange, but Walter looked up at us and sighed. “Come on kids, it can’t be that bad…”

We listened to their briefing and got more and more concerned about our shift. They’d gotten the CIT call– that could only mean trouble for us.

I think because we expected it, the trouble never really got started. There was a minor gang skirmish between the 405 Hell Hounds and the Ancients. It was more a like a rolling gang war, where they’d fight in one place for a few minutes, then drive on to the next target area. Keeping the battle on the run so that nobody could catch up with them.

We caught up with the ones that were unable to keep up. We treated, or tried to treat the injured, but neither side wanted anything to do with us, probably since we’d have to report their injuries, but still–

One of the Ancients quaintly told me that he did not need the assistance of one whose parents had been of questionable lineage. He tried to walk away and got maybe three steps before blood loss caught up with him.

“I think you do,” I told him when he came to.

He groaned, but at least this time, we were able to take care of him.

They finally got tired of their game, but by then 5 Hell Hounds and 3 Ancients had been sidelined. And I thought football was rough.

Monday, September 25th, 2056 – An easy job.

I dropped by the station and records on the way home. Doughnuts in hand I waited behind a mob of people in front of the desk sergeant. It was the most chaotic I’d seen the place since I’d been here.

As one man yelled incoherently at the hapless sergeant, he looked up from his books and called out my name. Surprised, I moved forward. He tossed me my pass and told me that Andrews wanted to see me when I was done.

That only seemed to annoy the first man more, but the sergeant seemed immune to his abuse. As he buzzed me in, I could see him give me a weary smile. I nodded commiseratively and headed for records.

The crowd in front of me was almost as bad. I understand how they feel, but taking it out on the folks trying to help isn’t going to get you anywhere. I looked guiltily at my doughnuts for a moment and shook my head. I reminded myself that it wasn’t a bribe, just a bit of civility in an otherwise uncivilized world.

Okay, the gentleman, an elf, in front of me probably had enough civilization and culture for the rest of us and then some, but even he was at his wit’s end. He got to the counter and almost lost his cool when Saunders explained to him that he had to fill out the request forms to the left before he could be processed.

Instead of getting louder, like the man next to him, he grew more civilized, more cultured, more formal. I could see the look in his eyes as he turned to go file his forms knowing that he would have to start all over again with the line.

I gave Saunders a wink, and the bag of doughnuts. “Watch these for me, will ya?” I asked and then went over to the counter where the man was busy being overwhelmed by the form.

“It’s a bit complicated at first,” I commented gently. “But after you fill out enough of them, you get used to it.”

He looked at me, a raised eyebrow the only indication that I’d made him even the slightest bit curious. He sighed. “I do not need the help of [translated: a woman of questionable parentage]”

I just love the way you can say something like that in their language and make it sound so– melodious.

I just grinned. “My parents were married when I was conceived,” I informed him. “They just couldn’t stay that way.”

That did surprise him. I didn’t think expected a round-eared, Homo Sapiens-Sapiens to understand him, let alone respond.

Lets face it, you learn a lot of interesting words in the back of an ambulance where you’re treating someone. This can come in handy at times.

He lightened up slightly, but not much. I showed him the key parts of the form, explained that the more information he supplied the easier it would be to check. And I passed on the wisdom that Saunders had given me. “You may also want to check the hospitals.”

He studied me for a moment. “Is that not Lone Star’s job?”

I nodded. “Problem is, they don’t have that much time in the day to check everything. Some things do fall through the cracks, and every little bit helps. There were,” I paused to scan the disk Andrews gave me. “47 new missing person’s cases last week and only 5 old ones cleared from the week before.”

He studied me for a minute. “Then you help… search for missing persons?” I could see the hope in his eyes.

“Not that much,” I said softly. “But if I see him, I’ll let you know.”

“I can pay you,” he offered. “Please.” He nodded and pulled out a likeness of his brother, the missing person.

I looked at the picture for a moment and then at him. Before I could say a thing, he was offering me money. “1000 credits for anything you find on him.”

I smiled and shook my head, he didn’t need to pay me for the information that followed. “As of 4:00 AM he was at University Hospital.”

He looked at me in a combination of confusion and indignation. I could tell he thought I was belittling his situation.

I sighed and met his gaze. “I’m a paramedic,” I explained. “My partner and I took him to University.”

He gasped slightly. “Where… how… what….?”

It was good to know that his facade could be broken. “Downtown, he was in a gang fight, he was stabbed. He’s going to be fine, but he needs to rest and regain his strength.”

He nodded and pulled out a credstick. I had to wave him off on that. “All part of what I do,” I told him. I could see that he wanted to thank me, but that he also wanted to see his brother. “Go on… “ I urged.

Then it was back in line for Saunders. Nothing new– except somebody else had noticed the case at McChord. I could see Saunders was trying to encourage me, but we both knew how little that really meant.

We had breakfast and then I headed upstairs to see Andrews. He had the new list and a warning. Seems some Yaks have been looking for me.

This one surprised even me. “I haven’t ticked anyone off lately, I swear…”

I’m not sure if I was trying to convince myself or him.

“Just be careful Jess,” he urged.

“I thought I was before I came here,” I answered in a half complaint.

He laughed, but I knew we were both worried about it. As if I didn’t have enough to worry about. That was enough for me. I headed home and buried my head under the pillow wishing for the roller coaster to stop so I could get off and catch my breath.

Tuesday, September 26th, 2056 – Just another day

I got up around 8:00 this morning and started going through things at the condo. Mario had been taking care of the cats for me, but there’s so much else I’ve been neglecting. The mail had piled up and the cats were not happy with me. I haven’t been around much, and when I have, I’ve been preoccupied. It’s not like I really had a choice in the matter, but still…

I was amazed by the amount of dust and almost empty condo can collect in a week. Dusting and vacuuming helped me get my head together enough for the rest of the day. Once I was ready to head out, I reviewed the open cases and compared them to the ones already on file. There were no changes.

That in itself was a relief. I headed out with a new list and a renewed vigor. It was good to be doing something, even if it did seem futile most of the time.

Dr. Chen was his usual self. He seemed both relieved to see me and to see that I was alone. He made a comment about my ‘shadow’ and I told him that I’d send along his regards. I was able to identify one of Andrews’ missing persons, a woman about 40.

After a rather futile afternoon, I dropped by the arcade. PC was happy to see me– well, he was happy to show off the progress on the simulator. He said he’d tried it out himself and its real enough that he doesn’t envy me my job.

I checked it out, it was just what the doctor ordered. I could feel every bump, push, slide… I gave him the thumbs up and he grinned. He figures he can have a ‘helmet’ version later on this week. I gave Ray a call about it.

He didn’t sound quite as excited about it, but he’s willing to give it a try. We’ve got a date for tomorrow night to try it out.

That finished, I stopped by Casey’s to see how he was doing. Therese’s car was in the driveway, so I figured it probably wasn’t a good time to visit. Its funny– I think it the first night I really felt alone since I got here.

Wednesday, September 27th, 2056 – Quiet Reflections.

The day went rather slowly. Funny how that happens where there’s no international conspiracy following you around everywhere you go. I wondered if this was how things were for normal people as I headed over to the clinic.

Yeah, it was about then that I realized that my life was anything but normal, but it helps pass the time. At least I’m meeting my neighbors, and a lot of them seem more– receptive to me now. I still get an occasional glare but for the most part, people seem to have gotten used to me.

I am worried about Trina though. Ever since the incident with Doc Rivers– she hasn’t left the clinic. I don’t know if she’ll ever trust anybody to ‘fill in’ for her. Not that I can really blame her, but she really needs to take some time off.

Hell, I’d take some time off if I knew how.

I met Ray at the arcade around 7:00 and we spent the next few hours tweaking the input/output until we had something that was realistic enough to satisfy all of us. The only thing it lacks is pain feedback, which is a good idea since the entire idea is to get Ray to relax.

When we finished I drove by Casey’s place again. Therese’s car was still there. Guess they figured things out.

Ah well, tomorrow’s a workday.

Copyright 1999 – M.T. Decker

June 22, 2018

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