A(nother) Year in Seattle – Week 32 – Maintaining an Even Strain
A(nother) Year In Seattle
Sunday – February 1, 2060 – Field Trip
After church Case took Bri to the Aquarium– it’s still a little too crowded and enclosed for me to deal with… so of course… I did the sensible thing and came here.
Here being the underground– sometimes I worry about me.
It’s just…I can’t really be free of this until its over but that’s just not going to happen anytime soon, I can tell. Its already been over a month, Chinese new year is tomorrow and I can’t even feel good about that…
Its supposed to be a time to clean out all the troubles and problems of the old year and to welcome in prosperity and good fortune. I’m beginning to think I’ve over spent my allotment of good fortune in getting out.
I didn’t have it nearly as bad as the people we’re caring for now. I wouldn’t have made it this long and there are still people in there. I’m beginning to think somebody’s talked to Dresden– he’s not coping an attitude with me.
Still– I get to go home at the end of the day and be with my family. Believe me, that that is a very important difference.
Monday – February 2, 2060 – Boise
Its been a busy day– between the paperwork, and the calls and everything else. I’ve never been so… satisfied with what I’m doing with my life than I was today. It was one of those days where everything falls into place and you’re just in the right place at the right time to make a difference.
There’s nothing like that feeling. It almost makes up for all those times where it doesn’t make a difference. At the very least it balances it out.
It wasn’t all nice– as a matter of fact, a lot of it was downright evil. Chinese new year– a time for cleaning house only the Yak’s decided to help the Tong do a little of that… Like there isn’t enough trouble in the world.
The sad fact is that whenever something like that goes on… an innocent bystander always loses out. Always. This time it was a little boy– not much older than Bri. I almost lost him… no pulse… no breathing– but the kid’s a fighter. Nobody ever puts a face on the victims.
Maybe that’s what I’m here for… maybe this is the ‘why’ in the madness– to put a face on the victims… to stop them from being statistics and start being people.
Funny I usually spend my Mondays tabulating the caseloads and changing those cases, those people into statistics. Sometimes I wish I could keep the cases as individuals… maybe if I worked someplace like Boise.
Tuesday – February 3, 2060 – Fiji
Tahiti. Forget Boise… I want to go to Tahiti– or Fiji… yeah… Fiji… and get some sheep and a cow… raise horses. Just me, Case, Bri and the cats.
Nothing really new or exciting but between snow, ice, shifting traffic problems, tourists– ticked off military people and the frustration at how slow things are happening with the arcology– being anywhere else is starting to sound really good.
Warm is good.
Wednesday – February 4, 2060 – Showers
I’m soaked. Everything I own is soaked– my gear, my uniform, my socks. That in and of itself is miserable, but add to it the outside temps and the fact that I’m now chilled to the core…
I just want a hot soak. As soon as I briefed Smiley on the day’s cases– I attached myself to the shower nozzle and didn’t move from it until my body temperature finally evened out. After that, I just wanted to crawl under the covers, but of course, that wasn’t to be.
The folks from Renraku Corp. Sec. Were waiting for me with “just a few more questions.”
I’d stopped for a hot cup of tea at the corner Stuffer Shack when they descended upon me. They had pulled out all the stops this time. Pleading to my sense of duty, my guilt over getting out– “Don’t you want to help the other people stuck in there?”
I don’t think they were ready for what hit them– I know I was surprised. It was as if… everything I’d held inside– all the anger and frustration came pouring out. I couldn’t strike out at Deus, but I could lash out at them.
I don’t know how true it is, but in my book– they’re the ones that created this monster and they still believe they can control it. They don’t care about what it’s doing– only about what they can do with it once it’s theirs, but it never will be.
They just don’t get it. At least I think I made my point clear– they can’t control me.
A hollow victory at best– but at least it was a victory. And to the victors belong… the showers!
Thursday – February 5, 2060 – Light of Day
It’s amazing how much better things can look in the morning… especially when you have a warming trend and the sky is actually … dare I say it?… sunny!?
I’m still a little off from yesterday’s chill, but I’m drinking plenty of hot tea, taking my vitamins and resting every chance I get– which hasn’t been often.
There’s always a batch of folks who forget about that bright shiny orb in the sky and how it affects and effects things… like your vision.
I have to admit… I almost couldn’t find my RayBans it’s been so long. At least that’s the way it seems. It’s not like I really see the light these days. Sometimes though… you need to surface for air– I just know with me… that’s when the pressure really hits.
Maybe I’m afraid to take that breath. I mean… surfacing is nice– but you’re more of a target that way. Case took that decision and fear away from me with a picnic basket and a bouquet of flowers.
Of course, there were military plans in the flowers… Still, he could have just handed them to me and left out the flowers.
Friday – February 6, 2060 – Murphy.
Today was a case study in the effects of Murphy on an otherwise normal person. Scratch that– I’ve never been normal by anybody’s standards…
Okay… I’m perfectly normal for an overworked- obsessed paramedic who’s been through some pretty… stress-inducing situations lately.
You know– reviewing my journal I can see where even Tahiti might prove too exciting for me. Perhaps a nice padded room in a private convalescent home is more in order.
But I digress.
There was a minor fire at the hospital when they test fired their generators… Seems some birds had decided to nest there and they didn’t bother checking the schematics or with the local planning commission.
The fire in and of itself would have been fine, but… and there is always a ‘but’… Smoke got into the air ducts… people panicked. We ended up having to transport a lot of the elderly patients to other hospitals.
After that, the day just sort of deteriorated. A fire drill at the local high school turned out to not be a drill– only nobody knew it until someone saw the flames and then all the training and drilling went out the window and pandemonium reigned
Since the drill had been scheduled dispatch knew to ignore the signal from the school’s alarm system– which means that the fire was a lot worse than it would have been if we had responded when the call came in.
By the time the evening rolled around I was ready to head home– after a quick stop at my new favorite restaurant in the underground… only that wasn’t to be.
I ended up working a second shift since nobody had heard from Dwight. I was a lot more worried than the others since I knew he was with Lee-Ann today… I tried to grab dinner in the underground– but the restaurant was closed and the sign in the window just said that there’d been a ‘family emergency.’
Maybe it’s nothing– maybe things just took an unexpected turn… maybe the ‘family emergency’ was just that… I won’t be able to find out until someone comes and picks me up– or re-opens the restaurant.
I hate waiting.
Saturday – February 7, 2060 – Getting Worse
My birthday. I didn’t really feel like celebrating, which is just as well since I really didn’t have the time for it. Hugh came to pick me up this morning. I was worried when it wasn’t Dwight, and of course– he couldn’t tell me what was going on until we were on our way to the underground.
The hardest part was explaining to Bri why she couldn’t go with me.
Sorry honey… but there’s no way mommy’s letting you anywhere near this nightmare.
Fortunately, Ethan showed up and since she sees a lot less of her brother than she does of me, he provided a good distraction. I feel bad not spending more time with Bri– but… This has to be done.
Ethan did question me about the sense in going back like this– about stretching myself too thin and the fact that Bri needs me. Interesting lecture to get from your husband’s teenage son.
I know he’s right but– I also know that I won’t be much good for Bri if I don’t fight my own demons. Looking at Ethan I can see what this life has done for him. His mom and Dad… and me for that matter… we’re always on the go, always pushing, always working.
He understands it now– but I think he remembers how it felt when he was Bri’s age… I guess it’s his job as big brother to remind us.
I was back by dinner time– but man… what a day.
Hugh briefed me on the way over… it seems that Renraku Security had been all over the underground and applying pressure wherever they thought they could. Not that it really stopped anybody– it’s a rather tight-knit community in the underground.
But that only added more stress to an already dangerous situation. One of the recovery teams had been trapped inside.
Dwight had been with that team.
It was hard remaining calm, but we both knew that Lee-Ann couldn’t risk giving away the position of the tunnel– and any communications they sent would be intercepted. And so it became a waiting game. I could see what the wait was doing to Hugh and I knew all too well what hiding out in the tunnels was like.
When they finally got back, it was too late to help two of the victims– one was a little boy, the other his father. We found out that the boy had been carrying a doll with him– it exploded, compliments of Deus.
Dwight had done all he could for them– but they’d been too close to the blast… as it was we were lucky that it had only taken out the two…
I keep telling myself to take the victories where you can… but this is unacceptable. I just wanted to rip something apart.
The funny thing is– Dresden was the one to counsel me on anger management. That was priceless.
Copyright 2001 M.T. Decker
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