"Squad 51. Stand by for response."
"Squad 51, 10-4," John Gage replied into the handi-talkie. "Well, Dix, I guess we'll see ya later. We're sure to be back with another victim of 'devil's night.' It's amazing what some people do for kicks."
"Yeah," Roy DeSoto said, "and it's still a half-hour to midnight." He shook his head. "I'm just thankful we don't have the Halloween shift."
Three sharp beeping tones from the handi-talkie brought their discussion to an end.
"Squad 51, woman unconscious. 1012 Woodward."
"Squad 51, responding," Johnny acknowledged. "Here we go again."
"Bye, Dix, " Roy said.
" See you guys. Remember, it's almost the witching hour," Dixie called out after them.
A large middle-aged man waited anxiously for Gage and DeSoto to unload their equipment from the squad that was parked in front of the apartment building. As they approached the entranceway, he introduced himself as the superintendent.
"My name's Harry. I take care of this building and all of its lunatic residents." He heaved his bulk in the direction of the building's doorway. "I called you. She's up on the fourth floor."
Johnny and Roy watched the superintendent as he walked in the direction of the staircase, listening to him wheeze with each step. The aroma of excessive perspiration complemented the appearance of the stained shirt that Harry wore, which failed to close over his great mound of stomach. "Elevator's out," he huffed. "We gotta walk."
"After you," Johnny said to his partner, sweeping his hand forward.
"Thanks a lot," Roy replied.
Climbing labouriously to the fourth floor, Harry ushered the paramedics to room 412. He pushed the door open roughly, causing the "2" to drop to the floor. "Is she dead?"
"Well, I don't think we can tell from here," Johnny said sarcastically.
Gage and Desoto pushed by Harry and approached the bed, where a half-dressed woman lay motionless. Kneeling beside the victim, Johnny placed his fingers against her neck, and felt a steady pulse. Reaching over to check the woman's pupil responses, Johnny turned the patient's head slightly, and noticed two small pinprick holes on the side of her neck.
"What's her pulse?" Roy asked as he began to wrap the BP cuff around the patient's arm.
"Pulse is 70. Look here, Roy." Pointing to the mark, Johnny asked, "Snakebite?"
"Possible," Roy said. "I'll contact Rampart."
"Hey, Harry," Johnny called. "What's this lady's name?"
"Helen, uh…something. I've got it in the ledger somewhere. "
"OK," Johnny said with annoyance. "Does Helen have any exotic pets?"
"She better not. No pets. That's in the lease. Nobody here has pets."
"That's because no self-respecting pet would live here," Johnny muttered to himself. His attention returned to the patient as he listened to Roy begin the report to Rampart General.
"Rampart, we have a 25 year old female victim. She was found unconscious. Pulse is 70, BP 110/75, Respiration's 20. Patient is cyanotic. The victim also has two pinprick holes on the side of her neck. No other signs of trauma."
Folding his arms across his chest, Dr. Kelly Brackett stood at the com. of Rampart Emergency's call centre, listening intently to the paramedic's report.
"51, start an IV. 1000 ml Ringer's Lactate. Is there any sign of, or knowledge of, a snake being present?"
"No, that's negative, Rampart. We've checked with the super and he said that she has no pets that he's aware of."
"10-4, 51. Stabilize and bring her in as soon as possible."
"Affirmative, Rampart. Ambulance is at scene. ETA, 10 minutes."
"So, Dix, like I was telling you. This guy was huge. And what a reek. I bet he'd never heard of a bath let alone taken one," Johnny said with disgust.
Nurse McCall chuckled softly at the paramedic's colourful, but perhaps exaggerated, description of the scene. "Well, Roy, it sounds like you two just barely made it out," she said as DeSoto approached the counter.
"I don't think I want to be making too many responses to that location. That's for certain," he confirmed. Roy walked over to the back counter and lifted an empty coffeepot. Watching Johnny raise his mug, indicating that he had taken the last cup, Roy sighed
"Hey," Johnny said, "how's the girl?"
Roy's face tightened. The doctor's are still working on her. They've ordered blood work and a toxicology report. Her condition's about the same."
"I don't know about you, I mean I hope she's okay, but that whole rescue gave me the creeps," Johnny said. "I'm just glad this day is over." Turning to leave, he and Roy stopped when they heard the door to Treatment Two swing open.
"How is she, Dr. Brackett," Roy asked.
"I'm sorry guys, she didn't make it. Cardiac arrest. It's strange, though. Her vitals had begun to stabilize, and gave no indication of any strain."
The paramedics lowered their eyes to floor. Johnny sighed heavily. "I'm sorry too, Doc."
"Were either of you able to identify her. We found nothing in her clothes. You said her name was Helen, correct, Roy?"
"That, right," DeSoto confirmed, "but that's as far as we got. The superintendent at the building probably has that information."
"Okay, thanks. I'll have to make a police report, but I'm sure they must already have what they need."
"Yeah, they probably do. Well, we better go. Shift's over," Johnny said. "Happy Halloween."
Desperately slapping at the clock on the nightstand, John Gage laid on his bed, berating himself for setting the alarm. He must have set the clock from habit, forgetting that this was his day off. Lying in bed a moment longer, Johnny tried to will himself back to sleep. After several failed attempts, he sat up and swung his feet to the floor, heading towards the bathroom for a shower. Finishing there, Gage next shuffled to the kitchen, plugging in the kettle and dumping a teaspoon of instant coffee crystals into a cup. Food would come later.
With coffee in hand, Johnny plopped himself down on the sofa and lazily reached for the power button on the television. Raising the cup to his lips, he sipped the hot liquid while flipping the channels. Settling for the morning news, Johnny sat back. Lifting the cup once more, he stopped when a familiar face flashed across the screen. Gage reached over to raise the volume.
"… the police report states that the dead woman's name was Helen Everson, a Carmelite nun that had been reported missing from her convent two days ago. Ms. Everson was a novice at the convent, and was preparing to take her final vows next month. The cause of death remains unknown. The body had been discovered by the apartment building's superintendent. No further details are available at this time. Foul play has not been ruled out. In other news…"
Blowing out a low whistle, Johnny ran his hand though his hair. So, they think this may be a homicide! Reaching for the phone, he dialed Roy's number.
"Hi, Roy. It's Johnny. I …?"
"Do you have any idea what time it is?" Roy yelled quietly into the receiver. "It's our day off, remember?"
"Sorry, Roy, but I had to call. I was watching the news and there was a report about that woman last night."
"Which one, John?" Roy said through a stifled yawn.
"You remember, the one in that apartment building. With the bite marks," Johnny said excitedly.
"Oh yeah, what about her?"
"The police think that maybe she was murdered."
"Oh?" Roy said with more interest. "Hold on, Johnny, Joanne's awake." Johnny could here muffled words coming from the other end of the phone. A few moments later, the two men resumed their conversation.
"What else did they say, John?"
"Get ready for this. She was a nun, and she'd been missing for the past couple of days." Johnny listened to the silence at the other end of the line. "Roy?"
"I'm still here. Hey, have you had breakfast yet?"
"Meet me at the diner on the corner by the station in about an hour. We'll talk more there."
"Sure, see ya later. Bye"
Placing the phone back in the cradle, Johnny headed to the kitchen for another coffee.
"So have you decided?" the waitress asked somewhat distractedly.
"Morning Special, eggs over-easy," Johnny said giving her his most winning smile.
"I'll have the same," Roy added.
"Fine." She grabbed the menus from the men's hands and left.
Johnny opened his mouth to comment about the waitress, but his partner waved him off.
"So, what else did they say?" Roy asked his friend.
"Not much more, except that she was dead when she was found."
"Why would they do that?"
"I'm sure our smelly friend Harry could explain that. You don't get your name in the paper for discovering someone who's been injured," Johnny snickered.
"Yeah, I guess so."
Gazing over at the booth across from them, Johnny's eyes were drawn to the picture on the front page of the newspaper, which had been left by its previous occupant. Leaning over, he grabbed the paper and read the caption under the photo. "HELLFIRE". Johnny snorted in disgust. "Roy, do you remember that old warehouse on Stuart street?"
"Well," Johnny said, "it isn't there anymore. Burned down last night."
"The Fire Marshall is investigating, but that would be my guess."
Lowering the paper, Johnny watched the waitress approach. "Here comes "chuckles" with breakfast," he said in a low voice.
The waitress carelessly placed the dishes down in front of Johnny and Roy, sending the food sliding to the plates' edges.
Roy shrugged his shoulders. "I hope the food is better than the service."
"Yeah," Johnny said. Raising the paper once more, his eyes came to rest on another headline.
"Incredible," he said, keeping his head buried in the paper. "There was another murder last night, right here in the city."
"Unfortunately, that's not so incredible," Roy commented.
"It's how this guy was killed," Johnny said, paper still raised. "The article says that this guy was ripped apart. Blood all over the place. Oh man, the guy's neck had been severed, ear to ear." Johnny lowered the paper. "Isn't that incredible?" Looking at the expression on his friend's face, Gage became contrite. "Uh, sorry."
"It's okay. I wasn't hungry anyway," Roy said while pushing aside his plate of ketchup laden eggs.
"I can't believe I got latrine duty again. I wasn't really late," Johnny complained to his partner.
"Well, maybe you should have thought it was your day off and set your alarm so that you could get up at the crack of dawn," Roy laughed.
"I said I was sorry, didn't I?" Johnny said.
Roy smiled. "Yeah, you did. John, before you get too involved in cleaning toilets, maybe we should go to Rampart for a supply run. Last shift must have been busy, and left us a little short. That is, if you can tear yourself away from the latrine."
"Gee, I don't know, but I'll try. Anything for a friend." Johnny grinned.
"Okay, I'll go tell Cap," Roy laughed.
Johnny and Roy approached the nurse's station of the emergency ward to find Dixie McCall and Kelly Bracket in deep discussion.
"Hi guys," Johnny called out.
"Hi," Dixie and Kel said in unison.
"What's going on?" Roy asked, noting the concern on their faces. "Something happen?"
Looking down at the chart resting on the counter, Dixie took a moment to respond. "Well, it seems that we have a thief in the hospital."
"Again?" Johnny asked. "Didn't that happen a couple of years ago?" He poked Roy in the arm. "That cop, what was her name?"
"How should I know? You went out with her," Roy said.
"Oh yeah. That was one bad scene. The date was a disaster. Maybe that's why I can't remember her name."
Roy rolled his eyes. "What's missing, Dix?"
Dixie looked at Kel and sighed. "Blood, several units of O positive."
"Maybe it's just a miscount?" Johnny offered.
"No. We thought the same thing," Kel said. "It's definitely gone."
"Wow," Johnny said. "Why would anyone want to steal blood? On second thought, maybe I don't want to know."
"The police have already been contacted. They're working on the premise that this has something to do with Halloween being a couple of days ago," Dixie offered.
"Do you know when the blood disappeared?" Roy asked.
"We just heard about it, so I'm not really sure how long it's been missing," Kel answered while folding his arms across his chest.
"This has been one freaky week," Johnny commented.
"How so?" Dixie asked.
"Well, first, that woman we brought in on Devil's Night, turns out to be a novice nun, and they think that maybe she was murdered. And now the blood count's out." Scanning his friends' faces, Johnny apologized for the unintended pun.
"I read about that," Dixie said. "Yesterday's paper carried an article that said she had been a bit despondent and had just disappeared. No one knows how she ended up in the apartment building, though."
"Maybe Harry does," Roy said.
"Who's Harry," Kel asked.
"The super," Roy replied. "Not a very pleasant person."
"Yeah," Johnny added, "and you could smell him a mile away."
"Sorry I never had the chance to make his acquaintance," Kel laughed.
"Don't be, Doc, " Johnny said. "Hey, Roy, we better go."
"That's right, John. Toilets await." He and his partner waved good-bye as they turned to leave.
"It's about time you got back," Chet called out to Roy and Johnny as they exited the squad.
"What's your problem now, Kelly? You miss us?" Johnny snickered.
"I don't think I'll ever be that desperate," Chet said. "You guys got a package and I want to know what's in it."
Roy and Johnny looked at each other and then quickened their pace into the dayroom. A small box wrapped in brown paper sat on the table. The package had been addressed by hand in jagged lettering.
"What do you think?" Johnny asked Roy.
"Well, I think you should open it," Chet suggested.
Reaching for the box, Gage lifted it gingerly and gave it a slight shake. Removing the paper, he opened the lid. Johnny looked quizzically at his partner.
"I don't get it," he said.
Reaching into the box, Roy removed a small gold medal. Upon closer examination, he realized that it was a religious medallion. The writing on the back stated that it was from St. Joseph's convent.
"Uh, John. You don't think that this belonged to that woman, Helen, do you?
"Roy, remember what I said about this whole thing being weird?"
"I'm beginning to agree with you."
"Well, will someone tell me about it?" Chet asked.
As Johnny began to relate the details of the last shift the expression on Chet's face changed.
"Wait a minute guys," Chet said, "are you talking about that woman who was killed in the apartment building?"
"Yes, why?" Roy asked.
"Because it was just on the news this morning. The cops arrested the superintendent. The news said that the police went to this guy's apartment and found some of that woman's clothing. But here's the cool part. When they searched the kitchen and checked the fridge, guess what they found?" Chet asked excitedly.
"Blood," the paramedics chorused.
"Yeah, that's right," Chet said, a bit surprised. "It seems this guy was a self professed vampire wanna-be. He had false teeth, two sets. The eyeteeth were filed down on one of them. I'm guessing he botched it when he tried to kill the girl, and got scared. So he called you." Chet paused. "Who would have thought, Count Dracula the Super. But I guess the cops put the bite on him."
"Shut up, Kelly," Gage said.
"Okay, okay. I know when I'm not appreciated." He turned towards the door.
Johnny inwardly shivered. "Roy, do you realize how close…"
"Yeah, you don't have to tell me. That's just what I was thinking."
"But, why would he send us the medal?" Johnny asked. "Some kind of joke, maybe?"
"Maybe," Roy said. He studied the medal in his hand. "John, we better turn this in to the police."
"Good idea. The latrine will just have to wait a little longer."
Leaning his arm out the passenger side window of the squad, Johnny watched the passing traffic. He turned to Roy as his partner brought the squad to a stop in front of the red light. "I am sure glad that's over. I mean, how, why? Drinking blood? Yuck."
"I don't know, John. It takes all kinds, I guess," Roy said.
"Guess so." Johnny glanced out the passenger door window once more. His gazed came to rest on a petite young woman, strolling casually down the sidewalk. She looks familiar. Where do I know her from? He pondered a moment longer. A look of recognition crossed his face as the woman turned and looked directly toward him. Pulling the scarf away from her neck to reveal two small red welts, she smiled.
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Halloween Stories Stories by Northlander