Disclaimer: The characters of the television show Emergency! are copyright of Mark VII Production and Universal Studios. No copyright infringement is intended, nor is any profit being made through this piece of fiction. All original characters and events are the property of the authors.
"Go back to sleep, Johnny, before you wake the whole crew," Roy said, irritation evident in his voice. "It's the middle of the night."
"I can't," Johnny complained." It's that dream again. I could swear that there's someone standing at the end of my bunk, watching me."
"Not again," Roy moaned. "Just go back to sleep. When this happens with my kids, I sing them a lullaby. Do you need one?"
Johnny grunted. "Thanks a lot. I thought I could get a little sympathy. But, Roy, I'm not making this up. It was so real."
The groan of aged bedsprings could be heard across the dormitory. Someone snorted. "We believe ya' Gage, now shut up and go to sleep." Chet Kelly's comment was followed by a chorus of agreement from Mike Stoker, Marco Lopez and Captain Stanley.
In befuddled silence, John Gage lay in the darkness, staring at the ceiling. How much longer until morning, he thought.
The A-shift of Station 51 slowly shuffled their way into the dayroom, to find John Gage dressed and seated at the far end of the table. His index finger circled the rim of his coffee cup, while he seemingly studied its contents.
"Hey, John, any visits from the Bogey man?" Chet teased as he took a seat at the table. Marco Lopez slid into the chair beside him and snickered.
"Shut up, Kelly."
"Seriously, John," Captain Stanley began," this is two nights in a row. Something bothering you? Do you want to talk?" He poured himself a coffee and took a seat at the table across from Gage. Roy DeSoto sat beside his partner, while Mike Stoker remained leaning on the counter. They looked at the younger paramedic intently.
Johnny suddenly became self-conscious. "I'm not nuts. It was just a bad dream." Pausing, Gage knew he had committed himself to the story and with a look of resignation on his face, began to relate the events. "Like you said, Cap, it started Monday night. We'd just come back from that run at the nursing home. You remember the one where that lady went into cardiac arrest."
"I remember that one," Mike said. "This old guy kept trying to sit in the engine. Good thing I had my helmet on, he hit me with his cane. I was only trying to help him and he hit me!"
"Right Mike, I can just see the headlines now, " Chet sneered. "Firefighter attacked with loaded cane. 80 year old sought in beating."
"Ah, I think we were talking to John, gentlemen?" Cap interrupted.
"We resuscitated twice. It was a bad one, right, Roy?" Gage looked to his partner for confirmation. Desoto nodded.
"Then, we got her to Rampart and the doctors took over. I remember getting back to the station, feeling drained. So I think I went to bed. That's when I saw him, it. I don't know. But this is the freaky part, I'm sure I was awake."
Johnny surveyed the faces of his shiftmates. The jovial expressions know turned serious.
"Cap, do you think we had an intruder in the station?" Marco asked.
"No, I doubt it. And if we did, why is Gage the only one that has seen him?" Stanley lowered his head for a moment, drumming his fingers on the table. He looked up at Gage. "John, did this guy say anything?"
"No, Cap. Nothing. But I do remember one thing. It made me sad. I wasn't afraid but I felt sorrow. This makes no sense. I had to be dreaming."
"Engine 51, Squad 51, Truck 8. Fire at costume factory, 666 Coven Road. Time out 10:15."
"Station 51, 10-4. KMG-365, " Captain Stanley responded curtly into the microphone. He handed a copy of the directions to Roy DeSoto, who sat in the waiting squad. Walking briskly to the engine, Stanley took his seat beside the engineer.
As the squad pulled out from the station, John Gage turned to his partner. "Is this some kind of joke? Look at the address, 666, and on Halloween? It's probably a witches' coven too."
Roy DeSoto simply rolled his eyes. He had suffered his partner's rants before. "It's a costume factory John, relax."
The paramedics arrived to find the building partially engulfed in flames. Captain Stanley approached to deliver instructions. "I spoke with the superintendent and he accounts for all but one employee."
"Ok, Cap," Roy acknowledged. Both he and his partner shrugged into the turnout gear and adjusted their air tanks. Cautiously, the two paramedics approached the front of the building, with Gage exhibiting more trepidation than usual.
Gesturing to his partner, DeSoto headed towards the stairs. "Let's start on the top floor," Roy said. Reaching the third floor, a storage area, the paramedics could see little through the thick smoke. Taking a few steps, Johnny noticed a darting movement from the distant corner. Quickly tapping Roy's shoulder, he pointed in that direction. Both men hastened to that area, Johnny moving swiftly ahead of his partner. Reaching out, he grabbed at the figure which had caught his attention. The face of "Dracula" stared back at him with empty eyes. Blood covered fangs gleamed, despite the billowing smoke. It took Gage a moment to realize that he was embracing a mannequin, but he soon acknowledged that fact when he caught sight of a second flash of movement. Tossing the mannequin aside, which narrowly missed hitting DeSoto as he approached, Gage gave chase.
Although Johnny's progress was impeded by smoke and debris, he managed to catch up to the departing figure. Grabbing hold of the man's sleeve, Gage yelled through his air mask. "What's the matter with you? We're trying to help you." Johnny quickly released his grip. Standing before him, was the spectre that had haunted his dreams for the past two nights. Staring at Gage, the figure didn't speak, but turned and proceed down the tunnel of boxes. Johnny continued his pursuit but the spectre seems to vanish in front of him. He felt his feet slide forward into nothingness. An arm reached out and pulled him backward, sending Roy DeSoto and himself crashing to the ground.
"Johnny, are you crazy?" Roy yelled. Gage looked at his partner and then turned to look in the direction of his adversary. All that stood before him was an empty elevator shaft.
The rain fell harder, turning the dark Halloween night gloomy. Clouds filled the sky, blotting out the stars and the moon. Staring out the passenger window of the squad, John Gage watched mirthlessly as children ran from house to house, shrieking with delight. The silence hung heavily between the two paramedics.
" So, are you going to tell me what you were doing back there?" Roy asked. His partner only shrugged his shoulders in response.
Stopping for a light, Roy turned in his seat. "John, the whole reason we're making this supply run to Rampart is to give you a chance to talk. I haven't said anything to Cap, because I wanted to hear it from you first. But, if there's a problem, I've got to tell him. Hell, I'm your partner. You owe me an explanation."
"It's nothing, Roy. I swear," John said pleadingly. "It was the smoke. I got confused."
"Okay, John. Okay," Roy said in frustration.
Pulling the squad into the Emergency parking lot at Rampart General Hospital, the partners were greeted by Nurse Dixie McCall.
"Hey," Johnny said, "red carpet treatment. You coming out to greet us?"
Smiling, Dixie shook her head. "It's not what you think, I'm afraid. Do you two remember the woman you brought in from the nursing home? Intensive care called. Gladys, the patient, has been asking to see the man who saved her. All she could recall is he had dark hair."
"She wants to talk to me?" Johnny asked bewildered.
"Would you have time now to see Gladys? Her condition has deteriorated. She suffered another stroke last night and the doctors aren't sure how long she has."
"Ok," Johnny said hesitantly, "But why me?" He looked at Roy who seemed as much confused by the request as him.
Entering the intensive care ward, Johnny approached the night nurse. Under more favourable circumstances he would have been much more able to appreciate the striking features of the woman. His mind was still busy trying to understand the reason he was standing in this ward.
"My name's John Gage. I'm here to see Gladys."
"It's good that you're here. She's been asking for you," the nurse responded. She directed him to Gladys's bed. Walking away, the nurse looked back at Johnny and gave him a reassuring smile.
Leaning over the bed, Johnny spoke Gladys's name softly. Her eyes opened in a flutter, causing Gage to jump back.
"You really came," she breathed.
"Yes, Gladys. The nurse said you wanted to see me."
Reaching out for Johnny's hand, she smiled. Her touch was cold and clammy. "I don't have long but I wanted to thank you for helping me to cheat death. But now, my time has come and I must let him win."
"No you don't have to do anything, Gladys. You can fight it. I know you can."
Gripping his fingers tighter, she continued. "No, it's time. I've seen him, here in my room, he's waiting for me." Johnny's face paled.
"You've seen him too? When?" Gladys asked.
"Ah, well, I saw something, I don't know. It was last night, and the night before. But it was just a dream, wasn't it?"
Gladys smiled once more. "You see, by saving me, you cheated death too. I don't think he likes to be kept waiting. Death, like life, has to keep moving. Maybe you interrupted his schedule." She chuckled softly. "But I'm ready to go now. He won't bother you anymore." She paused. "Look, there he is."
"She must be rambling. Gibberish." Johnny thought.
Stepping back from the bed, Gage could hear someone shouting something about a Code Blue. Walking briskly from the room, he raced down the hall, to the waiting elevator. Hesitating, he entered and slammed the floor button for the Emergency department. Johnny found his partner sitting in the doctor's lounge.
"How'd it go?" Roy inquired.
"Well," Johnny started. 'I don't know where to start."
"What do you mean?" Roy prompted.
"I've never experienced anything like it, Roy. Gladys passed away tonight, as I was talking to her. She's a very sweet woman, to whom I owe a great debt."
Roy looked at his partner in puzzlement. "Johnny, are you dreaming again?"
"No, Roy. Tonight I plan to sleep. Really sleep."
The rain had stopped and the clouds had drifted away. Stars lit the sky to usher in a new day.
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