A Year In Seattle
Thursday, July 20th 2056 -gaslight
I woke up early this morning. Early for me when I’m working the night shift that is. I actually sat down and read the paper before rushing off to work. I think the picnic did me a lot of good. I know that getting out of the city helped immensely.
Of course, when I got back and got down to work, I was right back in the middle of too much work and too much intrigue. This time there were – I can’t even really describe it. You know how it is when you put something down and when you come back, it isn’t quite where you put it?
That was how it was today. I’d be filling in the crossword puzzle when we’d get a call, and when we’d get back, it just didn’t look right. I would have put it off to the paranoia-inducing activity lately but…
I don’t know.
The worst one was finding that somebody had moved one of the tokens on my bike. Now you’d think with the number of them hanging off my bike, I shouldn’t notice one of them being moved around, but believe me, it practically screamed at me. It was the one I’d gotten from the Warthogs of Dundalk.
I was about to dismiss it all as my own budding paranoia, but somebody had moved the token. It wasn’t even a big move, the kind that would happen if somebody took it off to look at and then replaced it.
I gave up. If they were going to muck with me, fine. I made it a game to see how many mistakes they made and started keeping track of them mentally. At least it was a game until I realized that the tokens had to have been rearranged while we were all on call…
And I distinctly remember seeing the ‘mystery’ car that’s become my constant companion. Maybe one of the guys did it after they returned and we were still at the hospital, but I don’t’ think so. So much for the nice relaxing trip out of town. The tension is back with a vengeance.
Friday, July 21st, 2056 – losing it
Okay, now there are two tracking devices on my bike and a motorcycle’s been added to the entourage. If it weren’t so infuriatingly bizarre. I think I’d actually be enjoying this.
“Lets spy on the paramedic.” Sounds like an interesting game. I wonder how many of them I can gross out?
The only problem is, I know I’m not good enough to notice everything. Are they trying to get me to notice them? Am I supposed to have reacted and failed the test because I’ve been too oblivious to their attempts to be seen.
They are going to drive me crazy. Scratch that, they have driven me crazy.
I can’t go anywhere without somebody watching me. I feel like I’m living in a docudrama where the cameras are already rolling and every move is being analyzed. Maybe I’m over analyzing it, but if I weren’t working, I’d be climbing the walls.
Work- there’s another place that’s going to drive me straight up a wall. Fridays have to be the worst. Payday, end of the week, party night- that’s Friday night in Seattle. This time at least the accidents were ‘normal.’
Its hard to be self-conscious when you’re working triage. Most of the accidents were minor ones. The worst car accident was one where a car hit a drunk who’d ‘come out of nowhere.’ At least that’s what the driver said- forty-seven times.
Thing was, he’d been going fast enough that the guy should have been hurt a lot worse than he was. One of the advantages of having your body that relaxed I guess. We got him to the hospital before he even really realized what had happened.
He tried to pick me up at least three times. The man was definitely delirious
After that the calls got rather boring. The tails were interesting though, especially when we were on a call. Still, I could really do without them.
Saturday, July 22nd, 2056 – Making plans for Monday
Hump day! No rush hour, just party goers and those who prey on them. I think my spooks are taking a rest. I haven’t seen them, but the tracking equipment is still on the bike. Can’t seem to get away from them.
I concentrated on reviewing the cases we’d been through and going over the ‘tricks of the trade’ with Ray. The hardest part for him is going to be driving like a maniac. I’ve had a good 5 years of that, and Ray’s always been the responsible one.
We’ve got a date to go dirt biking on Monday. He’s going to need it.
He looked at me kinda funny at first when I suggested it, but I told him we should practice and explained, “If you’re going to fall, and believe me you are going to fall… its best to do it in the dirt.
Don’t tell anybody, but I think he’s getting into it. It’s kinda fun watching Mr. “Law and order, do it by the book or don’t do it at all” getting a kick out of driving really fast through traffic on a bike.
A couple of times, I had trouble keeping up with him. I guess I have the advantage of knowing the equipment and how it handles and he’s got the experience of driving in the rain. Sure is enough of it around. There were a few times where I had to back off to keep from hydroplaning. But there’s no way the ambulance could have gotten where we were going in time.
Thinking about it afterwards I realized that it’s probably why there’s now a motorcycle following me – the car couldn’t keep up.
It was a good day at work, and I only got two more marriage proposals from patients.
Sunday, July 23rd, 2056 – Hello?
You’d think after a week and a half of someone driving around on a motorcycle with bright strobing red and white lights, wearing a bright reflective YELLOW riding suit, with a great big caduceus emblazoned on the helmet, somebody at the Star might have noticed.
To be fair they probably did, but nobody seemed to have mentioned it to the bike cop who decided that it was his duty to pull me over. When I didn’t pull over it became a matter of honor for him to bring me in.
The worst part of it was the fact that I was on a code 3 response to a cardiac arrest. It also didn’t help that he seemed unable to talk to dispatch and chase after me at the same time so he opted to ignore the relay from Citywide that I was a medic on response.
When I got on scene he actually drew down on me and started the takedown procedures. You should have seen his face when the officer on scene dressed him down for interfering with a medic on call. Good thing too, a minute later and I don’t think we would have been able to get the guy back. After the ambulance was gone, I was packing up my gear and getting ready to follow when he came up to me.
Even after everything else, he somehow felt that my response was inappropriate.
“You see those lights, you’re supposed to stop,” he growled at me.
I looked at him for a minute and shook my head. “I see red and blues, I stop,” I told him. “Unless I’m running my red and whites, then either you get out of my way, or you run interference for me cause somebody’s life is on the line. And next time, you listen to dispatch Jr, ’cause if you had had your way, that man would have died. You don’t interfere with the responding medic.”
I wasn’t very nice, but after all that and him still not getting the clue- I’m sorry, some people are a waste of oxygen.
He looked like he wanted to do a lot of things at that point, including arrest me, but he opted to storm off telling me that he was going to file a complaint on me with Citywide and something about me regretting it.
Cap just grinned at me and shook his head. Some people just don’t get it.
Monday, July 24th, 2056 – an assignment
This just isn’t going to work. Even in the dirt, I can’t get Ray to loosen up, and if he doesn’t he’s going to be one hurting puppy when he falls.
Yeah, when. That’s the joy of this job. Sooner or later, you’re going to go down. If you’re lucky it’s only once, but there are too many road hazards, stationary and rolling for you to never get caught in one, or seven.
I’ve had one major spill back home that laid me up for almost a month. It was another three before I was allowed back on the bike, and believe you me, it was not a fun time.
The day was pretty much a bust all the way around. Trying to teach Ray the maneuvers he’d need was hopeless. His response was erratic at best. The only reliable things were my tails. The car was there when I got up in the morning and met Ray for breakfast. The bike was there when I tried to work with Ray.
The trip home did give me an idea though. There was this arcade I passed… it advertised, ‘the next best thing to being there,’ and ‘You describe it- we’ll design it.’ Who knows, maybe some simulator action might get him to loosen up.
I took a swing by missing persons, but Saunders was gone for the day, and the clerk there had as much personality as a spaghetti noodle. On my way out Sgt. Andrews caught up with me.
“Jess,” he called.
It worries me when police officers remember my name, and they haven’t met me in my official capacity. I turned and waited for him to catch up. It surprised me when I saw the haggard look in his eyes. He somehow managed to look more exhausted than he did last week.
I think he could read my thoughts ’cause he just smiled at me and told me it was the lifestyle. I had to chuckle at that.
“We could always use another Medic,” I countered with a smile.
He shook his head. “I work better with the missing and the deceased.”
From his expression, I knew something was up. “What can I do ya for?” I asked.
Now it was his turn to be surprised. Seems I’d hit it dead on.
“I know you go to the morgue and the hospitals… doing the legwork that I… just don’t have the time for… I have a few cases,” he held up a folder and looked at me questioningly.
“And you were figuring since I was going to be there anyway…”
I shrugged. It wasn’t like it was putting me out any and if I did this, it meant he’d have more time to work on the other angles of his caseload-angles I just can’t attack.
I nodded and asked, “can you download the images to chip, then I can cross reference them…”
This made him pause. I lifted up my hair and revealed the data and chip jacks that were well hidden. “It makes my job easier,” I explained. “I can file my reports and stats in a blink of an eye, get back out faster… Any special procedures can be chipped in.”
“Just didn’t expect a medic to…”
“Mess with their own head?” I nodded. I remember how against it my father was… but Andy had his and I couldn’t help but notice how useful it could be. I’ve been proven right on too many occasions to even think of regretting it. “It’s a big benefit, believe me… ”
He nodded. “I’ll have it for you in the morning,” he told me and started to head away.
“Tell you what,” I called after him. “How about I buy you dinner and somebody makes the copies while we’re eating?”
He stopped and looked at me for a minute. Finally, he nodded and as we walked towards the front desk he corrected me, “I’m buying.”
Dinner was nice. We talked mostly shop, but it was pleasant enough that I forgot about the tail and intrigue until I saw them on my way home. Them and a second motorcycle.
They didn’t do anything until I got home. As I dismounted the second bike turned its lights on… it was the officer from the other night- Officer Smiley.
He’d followed me from the station house, I knew that much. I’d had a long day, and now he decided that I needed a ‘safety inspection.”
I have to laugh though. He couldn’t find a thing wrong-but he did find one of the tracking units. He was about to say something when I met his eyes and gave my head a slight shake. His eyes widened, but he nodded, and then warned me to ‘keep my nose clean,’ and strode back to his bike. I could tell he was trying hard not to look for the tails.
Things just got a little more interesting.
Tuesday, July 25th, 2056 – more than meets the eyes
Officer Smiley wasn’t there in the morning, but the others were. I stopped at the diner and settled my bill at the counter. I really have to watch my money now. Payday isn’t until Sunday and I still have to keep the bike fueled and me fed for the next few days. And the cats, can’t forget the cats.
As I got ready for my ‘John Doe’ search of the morgue and the hospitals, I realized what was wrong. I hadn’t seen any of the local gang. This began to worry me a little, so I stopped by the clinic to check with Trina about it.
I was rather surprised to find Doc Rivers there. Then again, I saw the way he looked at her. I guess it wasn’t that much of a surprise. It took me a minute to remember why I came.
Trina told me not to worry too much. They’ve been known to keep a low profile at times, and that since the attack on the clinic, they’d actually been taking turns watching the clinic at night. I could tell from her tone of voice that there was more, but I could also tell it wasn’t something I wanted to ask about.
It was a half answer to my question, which I guess is more than I’ve been getting these days. I promised I’d come back around five and see how they’re doing, but judging by the looks the two of them were exchanging, I don’t think they were going to have any problems.
Dr. Chen was waiting for me. I could tell by his smile he was actually looking forward to my visit. I guess he doesn’t get that many visitors with a pulse. He showed me the week’s cases, all the time discussing the worst cases and comparing them to the worst ones I’d dealt with. I happened to see his reflection in one of the lights and realized he was mostly doing it to keep my mind off of why I was there.
I didn’t find the boys, which was a relief, but after cross referencing the retinal images and the general stats on one of Sgt. Andrew’s missing person’s cases, I knew we’d found one of them. Only now, it’s a homicide. I phoned him from the lobby and gave him the case number.
He thanked me, but I know he wasn’t really happy with it. The case was a 15-year-old girl from Council Island. Sometimes this whole thing just messes with your mind. I cross-referenced this case with the others and found out that her 14-year-old brother was missing as well.
After a quick check with Dr. Chen, I found out that she’d been found downtown. That meant I had about 4 hospitals to check including Harbor View and University. I figured I’d start with those two, mainly because if I were running a kid who’d been hurt the way she was, I’d take them to Harbor View First, University second with Seattle General and Nightengale’s very distant third choices.
I found her brother at Harbor View. He’d been messed up pretty bad and was still in a coma. I put a call into Andrews. I stayed there going through his file until Andrews got there with the boy’s family.
By the time he got there, I knew where they’d found him– about 5 blocks from where they’d found his sister. In addition to his injuries were chemical traces of a rather powerful date-rape drug, popular with the club set back home. I figured I’d take a quick look down where the kids were found and scope out the area.
Again Andrews read me– I’m really going to have to work on that.
He pointed out that I was getting side-tracked from my objective and I just shook my head. “No.. I just don’t want to see another kid like this… ” I think he understood, but it was hard to tell.
How do you explain to someone how my brothers and I are? I mean, we’d lay down our lives for each other without a second thought, but when it comes to kids… innocents… kids come first.
The boys are adults, they can take care of themselves, but kids… kids are sacred.
I think he understood.
As I rode downtown, I reviewed the case in my mind. They were both found in the shadows of the Renraku Arcology, within a few blocks of 4 of the city’s more prominent clubs including Penubra.
I tried to get on with the JD search, but something kept bothering me. Finally, I went to Citywide dispatch and started going through the records.
Within the past four months, there had been 9 similar calls, but this was the first one with a fatality. Each of the other victims had been identified so all of them had been classified as random acts of violence. A shiver went down my spine when I called Andrews with the information.
He told me to come down tomorrow and file a report. There was something in his voice I couldn’t quite identify, but I figure I’ll know tomorrow.
I’d like to say I got somewhere on my search for the boys but I ended up back at the condo with no more answers than I’d had that morning. I checked back at the clinic, but let’s just say they didn’t need me hanging around. I treated myself to a long hot soak and went to bed.
Wednesday, July 26th, 2056 – clay pigeons
I actually slept in. Or at least I started to. I was tired enough that the phone startled me when it rang. It was Sgt Andrews. I’d forgotten that he wanted me to give him the details on my ‘investigation.’
After a quick shower, I headed downtown. I didn’t see the car this time, but somehow– I knew it was still there. The motorcycle, on the other hand, seems to have developed a rather distinctive misfire in the engine.
I have to admit I was feeling a little more self-assured than I should have under the current circumstances. As if to prove that point, I found that the car was already at the station when I arrived.
This made me more than a bit nervous, but before I could say anything, Sgt Andrews was there leading me deeper into the station. Instead of taking me back to his desk he took me to a bank of elevators. He pressed Sub Basement 3 and smiled as the elevator headed down. He didn’t say a thing until we reached the bottom and the doors opened.
“Do you know how to shoot?” He asked as he gestured towards another door and guided me onto a shooting range.
I nodded still unsure where everything was leading. It turned out it was leading to the shooting range. There was another man there. Sgt Andrews nodded towards him and a then man pressed a button. I tensed as I heard the mechanisms activate and then I saw a barrier raising from the ground.
“This room is soundproof,” Sgt. Andrews informed me once the barriers had finished closing.
I looked around warily. “Why?”
He smiled at me innocently. “So no one can hear the gunfire.”
I gave him my best ‘yeah right,’ look and he smiled. Then he nodded to his friend. “This here is Jonathan. He’s from Council Island.”
He gave me a slight smile and then bowed slightly. “Thank you for what you have done on behalf of the Walker children.”
I shook my head. “I haven’t really done anything,” I answered. I hadn’t either. I just did a little of the ‘legwork’ on the case.
“No… you have taken an interest and you have endangered yourself on their behalf.”
I had to object with that one. I hadn’t done anything dangerous. The biggest danger I faced was traffic and I said as much. I really didn’t like the amused smile he exchanged with Sgt. Andrews.
“I am sorry,” Jonathan said when he noticed my look. “Sgt Andrews had told me that you were a warrior at heart. It is refreshing.”
I shook my head, still not knowing where this was leading.
Sgt Andrews handed me a gun and pointed towards the end of the range. It was a Walther palm pistol, a holdout gun really. It was also the kind I carried back in Baltimore. I think I glared at Sgt Andrews after that. I do not like how much they knew about me, even though it was all on record.
Most medics carried at least a holdout. Like I said we have a team that protects us, but its nothing fancy and their response time isn’t all that fast. If you need them, you better have something on you. Something I’d left at the station back in Baltimore: my concealed carry permit was for Baltimore and I hadn’t been sure about transporting it to Seattle. It really would have helped me with Aaron.
I took it and emptied the clip at the target. Most of them were good, but a few of them missed completely.
Sgt Andrews nodded and inserted a clip into his own gun and chambered a round. “Tell me about the other victims…” he prompted as he began shooting at the target.
“Nine other cases, all reports of an unconscious woman in an alleyway. All young… most looking underage. Alone…”
“How do you know they were underage.. Or appeared that way?”
I had to smile at that. “When we call in the stats, if we don’t have an age, we estimate. Almost every estimate was ‘Female, 16-25.’ I looked at Jonathan. “This is the first call with two people involved, and one of them dead.”
He nodded. “I thought so. Michael is… young enough that he…”
“Could be mistaken for a woman?”
He nodded again.
I looked at them both for a minute, a chill going down my spine. “You want me to go in…” It was a statement more than a question. Again, they exchanged that smug look.
Part of me wishes I could have walked out at that point but they were right. I didn’t like people preying on kids and given an opportunity to do something about it, I would.
“When?” I asked in a resigned voice.
“Tonight.” Sgt Andrews answered as he handed me a piece of paper.
I looked at it, expecting an address, but instead I found a concealed carry permit.
“I owe you at least that much,” he said with a smile. “Jonathan will be giving you cover… all you have to do is be yourself… and be careful.”
I gave him a lopsided look. “Which do you want,” I asked wryly. “Cause I can’t do both.”
It took him a minute and then he chuckled. “Guess you’re right.”
Yeah, if I was being careful, I wouldn’t be letting them set me up as a clay pigeon.
I’d like to say it was a wonderful evening, but whoever had attacked the Walker kids seemed to have been satisfied with whatever he’d gotten. I had a few offers to dance, but mostly I just hopped the clubs in the area.
I was feeling rather let down as I left the last club in the area, Penumbra. I signaled a cab and let out a sigh as it pulled over and the driver waited for me to climb in. I felt something prick the back of my neck and then– everything was hazy until I woke up in a tubful of hot water.
I was shivering, and a rather kindly woman was watching over me, pouring warm water over the towel I was wrapped up in. She smiled at me when I groaned.
“Here,” she told me as she handed me a cup of hot liquid. “Drink.”
She sounded like Mario when he’d order me to “drink” one of his concoctions. At least this tasted good. I tried to ask what happened, but she simply shook her head. “Let their poisons wash from your system, then we will talk.”
I tried to focus on her, but I was drifting again.
I think it was several hours later when she pronounced me well enough to get up and helped me dress. I was feeling less groggy now, but I still didn’t know what was going on. Once I was dressed, she carefully handed me my pistol. It was a gentle gesture to assure me that all was well. It helped.
She led me to a long house and there were several men and women gathered there. At the far end, I saw Jonathan and Sgt. Andrews. They both stood and seemed very relieved to see me up and around truth be told, I was glad too.
I could also tell they’d managed to find something. I waited expectantly until the meeting was called to order and Sgt Andrews and Jonathan explained what had happened.
Organ leggers. If that didn’t give me pause nothing would. They were harvesting organs from young women coming to the clubs in the area. And they were being very particular. I looked at the needle hole in my arm and realized they’d taken a tissue sample… to see if I matched any of their customers.
Of all the possibilities I’d come up with I hadn’t even thought of this. The council wasn’t happy to learn what had happened, but at least we knew and the people who had attacked their children had been caught. It wasn’t much, but it was something.
Copyright 1999 – M.T. Decker