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Note to readers: Please e-mail me with what you thought of the story. Remember it is fiction and written for reading enjoyment. (hopefully) :)
Johnny wiped the sweat from his brow with the back of a gloved hand. He licked his dry lips as he gazed over at Roy, who had the victim secured to his lifebelt. Now they were just waiting for Big Red to pull them to the top of the cliff. Johnny was glad they did not have to make the climb without the engine’s aid. It was too damn hot. He could feel the sweat trickle down his back as they waited.
It had been a fairly easy rescue so far with the victim more embarrassed than anything. She had been trying to hang glide but before she could even get off the edge of the cliff, her glider had become entangled in some shrubs. As she pulled and tugged she hadn’t realized how close she was to the edge and had tumbled over. She was harnessed in and only suffered minor scrapes and bruises. It was luck that a tourist helicopter had spotted her hanging over the edge and had called it in.
Johnny and Roy had cut her out of her harness and Roy had buckled her onto his lifebelt.
“Ok John, Roy, we’re ready to pull you up.” Cap boomed from over the edge.
Johnny braced himself as he felt his line begin to tighten and he began the climb.
They were about 30 feet from an outcropping beneath them and beyond that was another 50 foot drop. Johnny braced his legs against the side of the cliff and grabbed the rope as they began to ascend. Suddenly his line broke free with a loud snap and, to his horror, he began to fall.
“JOHNNY!” Roy screamed and the young woman in his arms gasped as they watched Johnny tumble down the side of the cliff.
Cap and Chet peered over the side, not knowing Johnny’s rope was fraying and about to break. Their eyes widened in panic as they saw Johnny’s horrific fall, arms desperately trying to get a handhold and finally coming to a stop at the edge of the outcropping.
Roy, who had finally reached the top with the girl, unbuckled himself and ran over to Cap.
“Cap, let me go down and get him,” he pleaded. “He is going to need immediate medical care.”
“Roy, what about your victim?”
“She is fine, just some cuts and scrapes and we are too far out to wait for another squad.”
“Ok Pal, but Chet is going with you and for God’s sake, check the ropes first.”
As Johnny fell he grabbed at the side of the cliff trying to grasp anything he could. His fingers raked against rocks and scruff as he desperately sought a handhold. He managed to slow himself down some as he grabbed ahold of some weeds for a brief second but the momentum of his body was too much. In what was a couple of seconds, Johnny slammed into the outcropping and desperately dug his fingers into the dirt. His helmet bounced off his head and continued its descent to the bottom of the canyon floor.
Johnny’s leg caught on a rock and he felt and heard the snap of the bone as he tumbled hard and finally came to a rest at the edge of the outcropping. He lay there for a second trying to catch his breath and determine where he was. His leg was throbbing in agony. He tried to push himself up but as he put weight on his arm it gave way with a sharp pain that shot up into his shoulder. He was covered in scrapes and cuts. He could feel blood and sweat trickle down his face.
“Oh God.” He groaned as he lay there, the sun beating down on his battered body.
Each breath was agony as he felt sharp pains throughout his entire body.
“Roy?” He weakly asked.
As he squinted up into the sun, it started to morph into 2 suns, then 3. The few clouds in the sky began to dance in a strange waltz around the suns and they danced faster and faster.
He squeezed his eyes shut and turned to vomit in the dry dust beside him. As he did, his body contracted and he panted in agony. The pain was too much. He blacked out.
Chet scrambled to get his safety gear on as Marco and Mike double checked the ropes.
“They look good.” Mike stated.
“Where is that ambulance anyway?” Cap pondered with a scowl as he looked down the road. “It should have been here by now.”
Although the girl was not badly hurt, an ambulance had still been called as a precaution. Cap was thankful, since Johnny would be needing it, if he was still alive.
“Roy, check him out and we will send down a stokes and supplies. And both of you, be careful.”
Roy nodded as he and Chet began their descent over the side of the cliff, their ropes secured to Big Red once again.
Roy and Chet carefully propelled down to Johnny and made their way to his side.
“Johnny!” Roy called as he knelt by him, “Can you hear me?”
Johnny did not respond as Roy felt for a pulse.
“Thank God.” He sighed.
He continued to feel Johnny’s neck and spine and down his extremities. He carefully unbuckled the safety harness from around Johnny’s slender waist.
“How is he Roy?” Chet asked concerned.
“His arm is broken and you can see his leg.”
Chet nodded glumly as he saw the white bone sticking from Johnny’s ankle, his foot at an awkward angle.
“He might have some broken ribs and he has a pretty big gash on his head. Not to mention all the cuts and scrapes.”
“Will he be ok?”
“I don’t know. We need to get him help fast.”
As Roy finished his assessment, the stokes was lowered down. Roy put a C collar around Johnny’s neck. He then splinted his arm and leg the best he could. He was thankful Johnny was not awake to feel it. Finally, he wrapped a bandage around the gash on his head.
They carefully packaged Johnny in the stokes and gently made their way up the cliff, with the help of Mike guiding Big Red.
“LA dispatch to engine 51.”
“Go ahead dispatch.” Cap spoke into his walkie talkie.
“Engine 51, ambulance responding to your location has been delayed due to mechanical issues. Another ambulance is on route... ETA 45 minutes.”
“10-4 LA. We have a Code I here at our location and we may need to transport on the engine and meet the ambulance.”
“That is just great!” Cap sighed as put the walkie talkie back in his pocket.
Roy and Chet were just getting to the top of the cliff, guiding the stokes.
The rest of the crew ran to join them, Marco carrying the oxygen with Mike the drug box and biophone.
“How is he Roy?” Cap asked.
“Not good Cap. He has multiple broken bones and he has not regained consciousness yet. Can you contact Rampart?”
“Ok... more bad news too... the ambulance is delayed. We might have to meet them.”
“Yeah Cap, the sooner he gets help the better.”
Cap had knelt down to open the biophone when he heard a normally quiet Mike ask, “What the hell is that?”
All eyes turned to see a huge dust cloud rumbling towards them, followed by gunshots and loud hoots.
Coming at them at high speed were two run-down rusty jeeps filled with what one could only describe as hillbillies.
They came to a screeching halt near the crew with guns aimed at them. There were 6 men, each carrying some kind of pistol or rifle. They made their way towards the firemen and wide-eyed girl who Marco stepped in front of protectively. Each man was dressed in tattered clothing and covered in dust and dirt, sporting greasy hair and rotten teeth.
“See Reg, I told ya I saw a big fire truck go by awhile ago.” A tall skinny guy stated as he wiped a filthy hand across his face.
“Guess so Bobby...well now... this could be lots of fun.” Responded Reg as he made his way towards the group.
The stunned men were not sure what to do. Cap began to continue to open the biophone and Roy started to make his way to get his medical equipment.
“Now hold on... no one is moving around. We have guns here and we will use em!”
Reg warned as he waved his rifle. His bald sweaty head glistened in the sun. He sneered, revealing 2 brown teeth.
“We have a hurt man here.” Roy replied gently. “He needs help right away. Please let us help him.”
“Now I see... hmmm...what should we do? Might be fun to take this engine for a ride...I don’t care nothin about your hurt man. He can die for all I care. All you fancy people in the city think you are better than the rest of us.”
His fellow grubby friends nodded and jeered as Reg spoke.
“Well, we might just shoot all of you and take your fancy red trucks how is that?”
“Look, if you want the trucks, take them, but leave us the medical equipment.” Cap suggested as he stood, hands open.
“I will take what I want, when I want and do what I want!” Bellowed Reg.
“Hey Reg,” another hillbilly spoke up, “Doesn’t Cindy want to be a nurse? Maybe we can take her this hurt guy and the drugs and stuff and she can fix him!”
Roy tried not to shout out his anger. There was probably not one brain between the 6 of them.
“Yeah, my Cindy would make a great nurse. Might be kind of fun watching her practice. Maybe we can bring him and the trucks and leave the others. Heck, they are miles away from anything... they’ll probably die in this heat anyhow.”
Just as Reg was making his plans, Johnny began to stir. He opened his eyes to slits and managed to see Roy standing by his side. He hurt everywhere but his leg was in agony.
“Roy,” he panted, “please, it hurts so much...” Tears formed in his eyes.
Roy started to kneel next to Johnny.
“Don’t move, fireman.” Reg warned, and fired his gun at Roy’s feet. Everyone jumped and stood their ground.
“What is...going on...Roy??” Johnny panted out, trying to see but he was packed so tightly in the stokes he couldn’t move much.
Roy looked down at Johnny. “Shhhh...we have some visitors right now that are not allowing me to treat you. I’m so sorry Johnny.”
Johnny tried to lift his head to see what was going on but everything started spinning again. He lay back, squeezing his eyes shut tightly and listened.
“That’s right, fireboys, you listen to me and you’ll be ok... I think my Cindy would enjoy playing nurse on this here guy and I know we would have fun taking your firetrucks for a ride.” He chuckled.
“Ok boys,” he said to his gang, “grab the hurt guy and that box of stuff they have. Sam, you drive the big truck and Cal you get the little one.”
“Reg, can’t I drive the big one? Why do I get the little one?” Cal whined.
“Shut up and do as you told,” Reg growled.
“Bobby and Sam, let’s get put the hurt guy in the jeep.”
Bobby and Sam made their way to Johnny and began to roughly pick up the stokes.
Johnny moaned in pain.
“Now wait!” Roy stated. “He needs medical help that needs to be given professionally. I know how to do that. Take me with you and I can help.”
“Wouldn’t you like that fireboy?” Reg sneered as he came close to Roy.
Roy tried not to gag as Reg breathed in his face. “You fancy city people think that we are stupid and can’t do nothin right huh? My Cindy can fix him up good. She can figure out how to use all your drugs and such. She is a smart woman.”
“Look, I’m sure she is, but it is better to know for sure. I can show her how to do it, what drugs to use to make sure she doesn’t use too much. Please...”
“Ok fireboy...I’ll let you come too but don’t try nothing. I have killed rich folk like you and I’ll do it again. Maybe once Cindy is done fixin up your friend here we can beat you up real good and she can tend to you. I bet she’d like more than one patient.”
Reg sneered again, chuckling.
“Yeah,” Bobby laughed, “I can beat him up for ya Reg. I like to beat up rich folk.”
“You’ll get your turn Bobby. Now let’s get goin.”
Johnny had heard the exchange and was worried about Roy’s safety.
“It’s ok Johnny, we’ll be ok.” Roy tried to comfort his friend.
“Look, why don’t you just take the engine and squad like I said and leave us here. Take anything you want, but not my men.” Cap suggested.
“Shut up! I’ll do what I want!” Reg bellowed, swinging the butt of his gun at Cap and striking him in the temple. Cap fell to the ground, a puff of dust surrounding his fall.
Chet and Mike began to make their way to his side as Marco put his arm around the girl.
“Stay where you are!” Reg aimed his gun at the firemen and girl while his men did the same.
“We are gonna take these 2 fireboys here and the trucks and none of you can do nothing about it. You can walk outta here, if you can, and drag him with ya.” He spat out, indicating Cap, who was knocked out cold.
The men froze as the guns were aimed at them. They wanted to go to Cap’s side, but knew their own safety was in danger.
Bobby and Sam made their way to the jeep with Johnny’s stokes. They slammed it in the back, and Johnny screamed in pain as his leg was jostled about.
“Shut up, you wimp,” Sam ordered.
Johnny panted in pain, trying not to cry out again.
Bobby grabbed the drug box.
“Wait,” Roy began, “Cap might need some of that first.”
“Too bad...he ain’t getting none,” Bobby stated. Bobby threw the drug box in the back and ordered Roy to get in.
As the men started to get into the vehicles there was another call from the radio.
“Engine 51, what is your status?”
“What is this all about? Your status huh? I’ll tell them your status.”
Reg went over to Cap and dug the walkie talkie out of his pocket. He put it on the ground and smashed it with the butt of his rifle, shattering it in pieces.
“There is your status.” He chuckled as he made his way to the jeep.
“Have a nice walk.”
He and his men loaded into the jeeps, Big Red and squad and tore off in the direction they came, leaving the men and girl stranded in the dusty canyon.
“Yippee!!” Sam screamed with glee as he slammed on the gas pedal of the big engine, roaring through the dusty roads of the canyon.
“Engine 51, report your status.”
Sam reached over and clicked off the radio.
He flipped on the lights and siren and made his way towards the mountains where he and the men made their homes, followed by the squad and jeeps.
The jeep Roy and Johnny were riding in bumped and jolted it’s way along the rough road. Roy hung onto the stokes as tight as he could, afraid it would fly out as they went over the bumps.
After only a short distance, Johnny had passed out. The pain from the rough ride was too much for his body to handle.
Back at the cliff edge, the men gathered around their Captain. He began to moan and struggle to sit up. Chet helped him into a sitting position while Marco tore a piece of cloth from his shirt to stop the blood flow from Cap’s temple.
“What the hell happened?” He groaned as Marco applied the pressure.
“Those hicks didn’t like your suggestion Cap.” Chet offered, supporting his back.
“Where are Roy and Johnny?”Cap asked looking around.
“They took them, along with the engine and squad, and bandages. Sorry there isn’t much we can do Cap.”
“Don’t worry about me,” Cap moaned again.
“I’ll be ok. I’m more worried about Johnny and Roy.”
“I’m so sorry. This is all my fault.” The young woman stated, coming closer to the group of men. “If it wasn’t for me, you wouldn’t be out here to begin with.”
“It’s ok miss, it’s not your fault,” Marco suggested, trying to be supportive of her. He knew she was scared.
“My name is Lindsey. If I wasn’t way out here this wouldn’t be happening.”
“How did you get way out here by yourself anyway? I don’t see a car around?” Mike asked.
“I had a friend drop me off. They had plans in the city and I told them I’d just spend the night out here. I have my gear over there.” She pointed towards a cluster of trees. “I don’t have much, but I do have some water and a small amount of food.”
“Some water would be great. Where is that damn ambulance? It has to be at least an hour since they sent the second one?” Chet wondered.
Just as he asked that question, they faintly heard the siren in the distance.
Sam brought the engine to a screeching halt at the entrance of a narrow trail.
Jumping out he said to his fellow men, who had also stopped their vehicles, “Guess it’s just the jeeps from here. The others won’t fit.”
“Yup.” Reg said as he got out of the squad.
“We’ll take the jeeps in from here. Won’t Cindy be surprised by our visitors?” He grinned his 2 tooth grin.
The men piled into the 2 jeeps and once again made the bumpy journey further into what had now become woods. Trails criss crossed throughout the woods. Roy realized how easy it would be to get lost.
Roy checked Johnny’s pulse. It was rapid and weak. He knew he was probably going into shock. He needed IV’s started fast.
“Hey, do you think we can stop so I can administer some IV’s for my friend?”
“An I what? He can wait...Reg is gonna want Cindy to tend to him anyhow.”
After what seemed like 10 more miles, the jeeps finally pulled into a small cluster of cabins, which to Roy looked more like shacks. They were crudely put together and falling apart. Some were in the clearing and he noticed a few more further back in the woods.
Three tattered women gathered on one of the small porches, standing as the jeeps approached.
“Where you been? And what is all that?” One of them questioned.
“Cindy honey, this is a patient for ya. These here are firemen and one of em got hurt. We brought their drugs so you can fix him.”
“Oh really?” Her dirty face lit up with a huge toothless grin. “How fun! I always wanted to be a nurse.”
She peered at Johnny lying unconscious in the stokes. “Oooh...he’s a cute one too.” She giggled.
Reg scowled. “I don’t want to hear none of that or I’ll put a bullet in his head.”
“Oh Reg, don’t you worry, you’re still my man.” She crooned and kissed his grubby cheek.
Reg grinned. “Ok, Sam and Bobby, let’s get him inside.”
Sam and Bobby roughly grabbed the stokes and brought it into one of the shacks with Roy following behind carrying the drug box.
Roy gagged as they made their way inside. The stench was horrible. The shack was covered in filth and trash. A few crude pieces of furniture were strewn about, one being a broken couch.
“Guess we can put him on the couch,” Reg suggested. Roy cringed at the thought of how unsanitary everything was.
“Get him out of that contraption so I can work on him,” Cindy demanded.
“Now wait,” Roy cut in, “I think it’s best to leave him in the stokes but I do need to start IV’s.”
“Who the hell are you? And I am taking care of him, not you mister!”
“I am Roy and this is my partner, Johnny. We are paramedics and he has been injured in a fall. He needs IVs started right away.”
Roy knew he did not have permission from
a doctor to start IVs but he was not about to watch his best friend die, if he could help it.
“You can show me what to do if you want, but I’m the one in charge and doing it. Now first, get him outta that thing.”
Sam and Bobby began to unstrap Johnny and unwrap him, taking the C collar off as well. He was soaked in sweat. He began to awaken as they transferred him onto the filthy couch.
“Arrghhhh!!!” He moaned as they lifted his legs. His eyes suddenly flew open and he searched for Roy frantically as his leg burst into agonizing pain.
“I’m right here Johnny. I got you. We are going to start some IV’s on you. I know it hurts. I’ll give you some MS too.”
“Roy...where...are we?? God it hurts...so much!” He grabbed onto Roy’s hand and squeezed. Roy knew he must be in agony and wanted to help him as fast as he could.
“Look, I need to get into the drug box and get the IVs. You can watch.”
“ I told ya, I am doing it!” Cindy demanded.
Reg stood behind Roy with the rifle and jammed it into his back.
“You listen to my wife fireboy or you won’t be around to help your friend, understand?”
“Ok, let me get what we need,” Roy suggested. He got the IVs bags, tubing and needles out and began to swab down Johnny’s arm.
“Give me that!” Cindy grabbed the swab from Roy. By now the cabin was crowded with filthy onlookers and Roy had to swallow frequently, trying not to vomit from the smell.
Roy had the needle in hand, about to insert the IV when once again, Cindy grabbed it.
“I can do it. Show me where.”
Johnny looked at Roy with pain filled eyes. “It’s ok Roy... Just show her... what to do.”
Roy nodded and guided Cindy the best he could in how to insert an IV. Johnny squirmed and gritted his teeth as she probed him 4 times before getting it right.
“I did it!”
“I knew you could honey!” Reg said proudly.
Johnny had sweat pouring down his face and was panting with the pain.
“Do you have a fan or something? It’s so hot in here.” Roy asked, not thinking clearly. As soon as he said it, he realized there would not be electricity way out here in the woods.
“Yeah and we got a big color TV in the other room too!” Bobby said sarcastically.
The crowd of hillbillies chuckled.
“Ok” Roy said, moving on, “we need to give him some MS for the pain.”
Cindy allowed Roy to administer the MS since she was anxious to look at Johnny’s wounds.
Johnny started to breathe easier as the MS took effect. Roy did not dare to give him too much since he had a head injury but knew he needed something.
Cindy began unwrapping Johnny’s leg.
“Arghhhh...” Johnny groaned weakly.
“Hey, take it easy. It‘s best that remained wrapped. It is an open wound,” Roy stated.
“What you mean open? Is there blood? This will be cool!” Cindy said excitedly.
Once she got to his ankle, she saw the bone protruding though the skin. Roy had done his best to set the leg, but Johnny needed surgery.
The crowd hovered closer as Cindy poked at it with a dirt crusted finger. Johnny cried out.
“Looky at that...the bone is poking right out!”
“Cindy please!” Roy begged and pushed her away. “It is going to get infected. It needs to be kept clean.”
“Git your hands off my wife!” Reg hollered as he shoved Roy. Roy fell to his hands and knees beside the couch. When he glanced up, his last memory was the butt of Reg’s rifle coming towards his face.
The ambulance pulled up to the group and the attendants got out with confused looks on their faces.
“I thought you were meeting us on the road and where is the squad and engine?” One of them asked.
“We don’t have time to explain all that right now,” Chet replied. “We need to get Cap to the hospital and we need to use your radio to get help. Johnny and Roy have been kidnapped!”
Roy woke up to a skinny blonde woman hovering above him, dabbing his face with a soiled rag. He was lying on the floor by the couch, pretty much where he had fallen. His head throbbed with every beat of his heart. Without even touching it, he knew his nose was broken.
“Hey there,” she said softly with a warm smile. He was surprised to see that she had all of her teeth and didn’t appear to be quite as grungy as the others.
“How are you feeling?”
“Ok I guess...considering.” He replied in a nasally voice, his nose clogged with dried blood.
“How long have I been out?”
“Not long...maybe 20 minutes. The others are outside starting a campfire and preparing supper. I need to talk to you while we are alone.”
“I need to check on Johnny,” he replied, struggling to sit up and move towards his friend. His head throbbed and he was feeling a little dizzy.
“He is resting right now...listen, this is real important. We don’t have much time. You and your friend need to leave...tonight. They will kill you if you stay. And I want to go with you,” she whispered with tears in her eyes.
“Why? I thought you lived here?”
“I was kidnapped by them years ago and I would have tried to leave sooner but I am not sure if I could find my way. They blindfolded me to bring me here and I haven’t ever left. They won’t let me. My name is Beth, but they call me BettySue. My boyfriend and I were hiking the canyon and they came upon us. They killed him...” she paused, sobbing quietly, “and they will kill you too.”
Tears slid down her cheeks as she told him her story. She glanced over her shoulder, nervously.
“They will be coming in soon. I don’t know if I can get the keys to the jeep without waking up Bobby. I am his ‘wife’. Do you have anything, any kind of drug that would put him in a deep sleep? I swear he can hear a butterfly flying by he’s such a light sleeper.”
“I have some pain pills that would probably work but how are you going to get him to take them and how are we going to get Johnny out without anyone hearing us?”
“They will all be having their juice with supper. It’s moonshine and it’s pretty powerful. That, mixed with those pills should put them out. The only ones we have to worry about are Bobby, Cindy and Reg. The others cabins are farther back so I don’t think they will hear anything, especially if they get drunk enough.”
“Ok, let me get you the pills. Are you going to slip them in their drink?”
“Yeah, I’ll make sure I serve the juice and they’ll never know. They said they were going to tie you up in here for the night since Reg and Cindy have the biggest cabin. Once I know Bobby is sound asleep, I can get the keys and sneak over here to help you with your friend. It’s the only way.
Once Cindy gets tired of playing nurse, you will both be dead and it’s my chance to escape!”
“Alright, but it sounds really dangerous. But if what you say is true, we can’t wait around. Besides, Johnny needs medical care right away.”
As soon as Roy had given the pills to Beth and she had slipped them in her pocket, Bobby made an appearance in the doorway.
“I don’t understand why you are fussing over me when my men are missing! I need to be out there looking for them!” Cap growled as Dr. Brackett stitched up his head.
“Hank, stay still! I’m trying to stitch you up here. There are search parties out looking. You know that. You have a mild concussion and after I finish, you will be spending the night here.”
“This is ridiculous. I feel fine.”
In truth, his head was pounding but he was worried sick about Roy and Johnny.
“Doc, Johnny is hurt and he needs to be here now. I don’t know how much longer he can make it.”
“Roy is with him and will do his best to take care of him.”
“But doc...” Cap was cut off by Dr. Early entering the room.
“Good news,” he began, “we just got a call from dispatch that the engine and squad have been spotted from one of the search helicopters. They are sending ground searches in now.”
“Where?” Cap asked.
“On the edge of Box Canyon, near the mountains.”
“That is rough terrain through there,” Cap pondered. “A lot of hikers have gotten lost in those woods.”
The doctors looked at each other glumly. They knew that finding Roy and Johnny would not be easy.
“BettySue, get your ass out here and help with supper. Skin that rabbit and peel those potatoes. You been running your mouth too long in here.”
“Sure thing Bobby.” Beth handed Roy the soiled rag as she made her way out the door.
Roy gingerly felt his face. Yup, broken nose. At least it had stopped bleeding but he could feel the swelling throughout his face and knew he must look horrible.
He knelt next to Johnny, checking his pulse. It was still weak and rapid. He also noticed that his head had been re-bandaged.
Johnny began to stir. Blearily he opened his eyes and looked at Roy.
“Roy?” He asked, the pain starting to return. “What happened...to you? Are you...ok?”
He weakly reached up towards Roy’s face.
“Yeah Junior, I’m ok... just got a new nose job, do you like it?” He tried to smile but his face was throbbing.
“Not...funny...Pally... where are we?”
“We have been kidnapped by those hillbillies but we are going to get out of here tonight. We have it all planned out. Don’t worry. How are you feeling?”
“Hurts a lot...mostly my leg...”
“I’m going to give you some more MS. I also need to replace your IV. It’s almost empty.”
It was at that moment as Roy was opening the drug box that Reg, Cal and Bobby came
“Whatcha doin now fireboy? I told you Cindy would tend to him. Ain’t you learned your lesson yet?” Reg scowled.
“Yeah,” Cal spoke up, “are you stupid or something?”
“His IV is running low and it needs to be replaced.” He continued to open the drug box and rummage to the bottom for the IV, only to find they were all gone.
“Where are they?!” He demanded.
“Well me and the boys thought it might be fun to use them for target practice while you were napping,” Cal laughed.
“He needs those IVs!”
“Too late for that. Now you stay put while we go have our supper. Too bad you ain’t gettin none.” Reg chuckled, then they made their way out of the cabin.
“Johnny, I am going to give you some more MS now. Luckily we still have that. Once the IV runs out we are going to have to try to find some water for you to drink.”
Johnny nodded weakly, he felt sore all over. His head throbbed. His ribs and arm ached and his leg felt like it was being crushed while on fire. His body stung from all the cuts and scrapes. They had not been cleaned out and still had dirt embedded in most of them. He was anxious to get more MS even though he was worried about Roy’s safety.
“Roy, be careful...do...what they say or...you will get...hurt... again.”
“Don’t worry Johnny. We are going to get out of here soon. It’s getting dark and looks like they have already been drinking.”
Roy inserted the MS and stayed near Johnny for a few moments before he could see Johnny relax and slip into sleep once more.
Thinking of food and water made Roy lick his own dry lips. It had been since breakfast since he had any food or water himself. He knew he was getting dehydrated. He stood up, feeling dizzy.
He made his way to a corner of the room where there was a barrel half filled with water. It was warm, but at least it was liquid.
He found a tin cup nearby and dipped it in, gulping the tepid water, it dripping down his chin as he did so.
A few hours later, the rescue team had found the engine and squad. It was now dark and they knew they would not be able to find their way in the woods.
The policeman in charge, Pete Roberts, spoke up. “We need to make camp here for tonight. It is too dark. Looks like there are some tracks that lead into the woods, but there is no way we can track them at night.”
Most of the men nodded, understanding that they too would get lost trying to find their way in the rough terrain. However, not all the men were pleased with the decision. Chet, Marco and Mike had joined the rescue party. Now, being off duty, they were determined to help in any way that they could.
“Now just a minute...” Chet spoke up. “Johnny is injured and needs immediate medical care. We can’t just leave him with those... those...people! We need to find them NOW!’
“Look Kelly,” Roberts protested, “we don’t need half of my men getting lost trying to rescue your men. If you take off into those woods right now, we will be rescuing you too. From what you said, those men are dangerous. We need the daylight. You shouldn’t even be here either! You’re not trained in this kind of thing. I can send you back right now you know!”
“You’re right,” Chet admitted, running his hair through his curly hair. “I’m sorry. I’m just worried about Roy and Johnny.”
“I understand. Let’s set up camp and we’ll start looking at first light.”
Chet nodded and the group proceeded to set up camp for the night. The group consisted of a combination of policemen and rangers. Medical personnel would have to wait until it was safe. The only way the firemen were allowed to tag along was to agree to stay back when/ if things were to become dangerous with any kind of confrontation with the hillbillies.
Chet knew it was going to be a long night.
Roy struggled against the confines of the ropes tied around his wrist. He guessed it had been a couple of hours since he was propped up on a rickety wooden chair beside the couch and had his hands tied behind him. Cindy had staggered her way in earlier, hovering over Johnny and once again changed the dressing on his head. Luckily she had left the splint on his leg this time. Roy could tell by her awkward movements that she was drunk, and probably by now, feeling the effects of the pill.
There was a kerosene lamp in the corner casting eerie shadows across the room. Roy was at Johnny’s feet and tried to maneuver the chair closer so that he could better see his face.
“You’re fine where you are fireboy,” Reg slurred, “He ain’t movin anyhow,” indicating Johnny. “Sweet dreams.”
Reg staggered towards the other room which Roy assumed was the bedroom. Reg tripped and cursed as he made his way across the living room. Cindy had already gone to bed, and from what Roy could hear, was snoring loudly.
Not long after, Reg and Cindy performed a duet of snoring.
“Roy,” whispered Beth from the doorway.“Are they asleep?”
“Yeah,” he whispered back. “We need to hurry. I’m not sure how long those pills will last.”
Beth made her way to Roy with jeep keys in hand and began to untie him.
“I’m so scared. I’m shaking real bad,” she admitted.
“It’s best we not talk until we are out of here,” whispered Roy. “Can you help me get Johnny to the jeep? I am worried about his leg. I can take the upper half of him if you can support his legs, the best you can. Try not to move them much.”
Roy lifted Johnny from behind, trying to be careful of his broken arm. Johnny felt unusually warm which meant he was probably running a fever.
As Johnny was being lifted he began to moan.
“Shhhh...Junior, it’s me Roy, you need to be quiet, we are trying to get out of here.”
“Roy? I don’t want to get up for work... too tired...I didn’t hear the tones...is it a fire?”
Roy realized Johnny didn’t know where he was at the moment.
“You can sleep again soon Junior. This is probably going to hurt but you need to be real quiet ok?”
As Beth lifted his legs he cried out and they all froze and listened, expecting a commotion from the bedroom. Instead, the duet of snoring continued.
“Let’s go!” Roy whispered loudly.
They struggled to get Johnny out of the small cabin door and into the jeep. They propped him up in the back the best they could with Roy holding him from behind for support. Johnny was semi-conscious and felt very warm.
Beth turned the key and the jeep sputtered to a start.
“Wait! The drug box! Johnny will need more MS.”
At that moment Bobby came staggering out of his cabin running towards them.
“Go! Go!” Roy encouraged. Johnny would have to go without. This was their only chance.
Beth slammed on the gas and the jeep lurched down the trail.
Bobby screamed, “You bitch! Come back! I’m going to kill you and your fireboy friends! BETTYSUE!”
In the dark it was not easy to see, and more difficult for Beth since she had never seen this trail in her life.
“He’s going to follow us in the other jeep. Do you know where you are going?” Roy asked.
“No, but he can’t follow us because I let all of the air out of the tires before I came to untie you. They can’t go anywhere, unless they walk.”
“Thank God! Good thinking.”
“Do you remember which way to go?” Beth asked as she tried to stay on the rugged path.
“Not really,” Roy admitted. “I was so worried Johnny would fall out that I concentrated on hanging onto the stokes. Just drive and put some distance between us and them.”
Beth nodded and continued on their way. After a few miles a deer suddenly jumped out in front of the jeep. On instinct, Beth turned the wheel sharply and the jeep veered off the trail, smashing hard into a clump of trees.
Beth slammed her head into the steering wheel and was knocked out cold. Roy and Johnny were thrown from the jeep, and into the brush. Roy landed in a heap, right on top of Johnny. He felt a snap in his wrist and white hot pain as he tried to brace himself and keep his weight off Johnny as much as he could.
Then all was silent.
“Johnny!” Roy staggered to get up and knelt next to his partner. He gently turned him over and felt for a pulse, with the one good hand that he could move.
There was a faint pulse. Johnny also had new cuts and scrapes added to his face and arms, but had no other serious injuries that Roy could see. The brush they landed in had broken their fall.
Roy struggled to get to Beth in the driver’s seat.
“Beth?” He asked gently. He felt her neck and shoulders, once again with the one good hand that he could move. As he did so, she began to moan. There was a welt forming on her forehead from her impact with the steering wheel.
“What happened?” She asked slowly, blinking, trying to clear her vision.
“A deer jumped out in front of us and you swerved off the road. Looks like you got a good bump on the head.”
“What?!” Becoming more aware, she realized what was going on. “Oh God, they are going to find us...they are going to take us back and kill us!” Her head pounded.
“We have put some miles between us. It would take them a long time for them to find us, especially in the dark. By now, there has to be search parties looking for us. The best thing we can do is wait until daylight. We won’t be able to see anything in this dark. It’s ok. Now let me check you out.”
Beth calmed down some and allowed Roy to check her over.
“How is Johnny? Did I kill him? My God, I’m so sorry!”
“He’s not dead, but he’s very sick. To be honest, I don’t know how much longer he can hang on.”
“Roy, you are hurt too aren’t you?” Beth noticed Roy favoring his arm.
“It’s just a broken wrist, I am fine.”
“Well you don’t look fine.” She could see his haggard appearance in the glow of the jeep headlights, between the broken nose, black puffy eyes and now broken wrist he did not look “fine” to her.
“We had better turn off the lights on the jeep,” Roy suggested. “We don’t want to give Bobby and the others any help in finding us.”
Beth agreed and turned off the lights. The only remaining lights they could see were the bright stars shining above through the canopy of the forest trees.
At the first sign of daylight Chet was ready to go. He, Mike and Marco had not slept but instead talked about all the great times the crew of 51 had together. They couldn’t wait to begin the search for their missing men.
They made their way over to a group of Rangers who had a map pulled between them.
“There are miles of woods here that probably have never been seen by humans. The last time we were out this far we did see a few trails but figured they were made by hunters.” Ranger Cliff Smith admitted.
“I think the best thing to do is send out 2 parties and meet back here. It’s important we keep marking our trail so we don’t get lost ourselves. Keep in contact with each other through the walkie talkies. Agreed?”
The other men nodded in agreement and began to pack up their guns and supplies.
“Which group should we go with?” Chet asked Mike and Marco. “Should we split up?”
“I’ll stay here with the squad and engine,” Mike volunteered. He was relieved his engine was not vandalized. “That way I can be here if one of the search parties finds them and brings them out.”
“Ok Marco,” Chet added, “I guess we should split up between the two. I’ll go with Ranger Smith’s group. Ok?”
“Sure thing. I hope we find them, and they are ok,” Marco replied glumly.
“Yeah, me too Pal,” Chet agreed, and made his way to Ranger Smith’s search party.
As the sun rose, so did Johnny’s temperature. Roy could feel the heat radiating off of him as he lay next to him.
Roy lay a gentle hand on Johnny’s hot forehead. It had been a long night with Johnny in and out of consciousness, not knowing where he was. At least Roy was thankful he was not feeling any pain, that he was aware of.
Roy stood up stiffly. His eyes had swollen more during the night and it was difficult to see. His wrist was twice its normal size and was throbbing. His stomach rumbled with hunger and his lips were parched and cracked from thirst. His head swam as he made his way a few steps to the jeep where he gently shook Beth, who was asleep on the back seat.
“Beth,” Roy croaked. “You need to wake up. We need to try to find some water.”
Beth began to stir and then listened as she heard an odd but familiar noise. It was a buzzing noise and it was growing louder by the second. Her eyes grew wide with panic.
“That sounds like a dirt bike,” Roy commented.
“Oh my God! Cal’s dirt bike! I forgot about the bike! It must be Bobby! We have to run and hide!”
Roy looked from her to Johnny. He knew that they didn’t have time to move Johnny and even if they did, it would not be far.
“Go! Run and hide! I am going to stay here with Johnny! Go!”
Beth hesitated, but she knew she had to try to save herself, and maybe find help. She leapt off the jeep and into the dark forest beyond.
A few short minutes later Bobby arrived at the sight of the jeep with Roy standing over an unconscious Johnny.
“I see you didn’t get far!” He yelled over the roar of the dirt bike. He turned off the motor, rifle waving in the air. “Where is that bitch?” He said, looking around. “She cut a nice neat path with that jeep so it was easy to find ya. Now what to do with ya?” He circled around Johnny, then poked him with the rifle. “Is he dead?”
“N...yes, he died just a short time ago. No thanks to you and your men. Another murder to add to your list. He could have been saved if he was brought to a hospital.”
Roy was finding it harder and harder to stand. His head was spinning and between the injuries, exhaustion and dehydration he didn’t know how much longer he could stay on his feet.
Suddenly, with his swollen eyes, he could make out a figure moving in behind Bobby. It was Beth and she was holding a large rock above her head, quietly sneaking up on him.
“Yeah,” Roy continued, trying to speak louder to hold Bobby’s attention, “And then what are you going to do with me? Kill me too? Then Beth? When does it end? Or does it ever end?”
Just then Beth jumped out behind Bobby, who heard the commotion and turned just in time to see Beth lunge at him with the rock. At that moment, Roy dove for Bobby and the gun, causing it to go off. The bullet hit the ground. The rock in Beth’s hand grazed Bobby’s head, but it was enough to knock him off of his feet. Roy grabbed the gun, striking Bobby across the face, knocking him out.
Roy fell to the ground beside Bobby, his wrist throbbing in agony since he was forced to use it. He struggled to sit up as Beth came to his side but his vision faded to pin points, then all was black.
“Did you hear that?” Chet asked the fellow rescue team, who were stopped for a brief break. They had been searching for hours with no luck.
“Yes, that was a gun shot.” Ranger Smith
said. “Let’s go!”
Beth stood among 3 unconscious men, not knowing what to do. She tried to rouse Roy but he was out cold. She didn’t want Bobby to come to, but was prepared if he did. She had the rifle aimed at his chest. She glanced at Johnny who she could see was visibly shaking with fever. She was afraid he would die before help arrived. She was pondering what to do. Kill Bobby and take the dirt bike and try to find help? Just when she thought that was her plan, she heard engines in the distance. She knew it couldn’t be the rest of the gang because the other jeep was disabled. Could it be search parties?
“Hello? Someone called.
“Here!” She screamed and shot the rifle in the air. “We are over here!”
Soon, Chet’s search party were among Beth and the injured men.
Chet ran and knelt next to Johnny, feeling for a pulse. It was rapid and faint and his skin was on fire. He then knelt next to Roy, who was beginning to come around.
“My God Roy. Are you ok?” Chet took in Roy’s injuries. The blackened swollen eyes, broken nose encrusted with blood, dry cracked lips, and swollen wrist.
“Chet?” Roy croaked. “Is that really you?”
“Yeah Pal, we are here now and you’re going to be ok.”
“You need... to help...Johnny. Chet...help...him.”
“We will Pal. Just take it easy. It’s all over now.”
Cap was discharged later that morning when Johnny, Roy, and Beth were brought to the hospital.
He paced in the waiting room as Chet, Marco and Mike filled him in on what had happened during the rescue. Bobby, they told him, had been treated and brought to prison where he would await trial for multiple murders. The rest of the search party was continuing to search the woods for the hillbilly camp and they had called in re-enforcements.
Suddenly Dixie appeared to the weary men.
“I wanted to give you an update on Roy, Johnny, and the girl.”
The men gathered around her eagerly waiting.
“ Beth has a mild concussion and is resting. We will keep her here overnight for observation. Roy is dehydrated and exhausted, has a broken nose and wrist, but should be fine. He will be our guest for a few days. Johnny is critical. His leg is infected and his fever is very high. If we can get him stable, we will be taking him to surgery to try to repair his leg. He also has some cracked ribs and a broken arm. Not to mention a large gash on his head and numerous cuts and scrapes. It is amazing he survived this long in those conditions. Kel and Joe are doing all they can.”
The men nodded glumly...now all they could do was wait and pray.
Three weeks later Roy, sporting a cast on his wrist, was sitting next to Johnny’s hospital bed chatting away. Johnny’s leg was in traction. They had been able to save it but he had suffered a severe infection and had fought for his life for several days. His arm was in a cast from his bicep to his wrist and the gash on his head was healing nicely.
“Excuse me,” Dixie said as she opened the door to see Johnny and Roy smiling and engaged in animated conversation, “but you have a visitor.”
Behind her, Beth peered over her shoulder.
“Beth!” Roy greeted her, opening his arms wide. She eagerly embraced him.
“Roy, so good to see you, and you too Johnny.” She added, smiling at him.
Johnny did not have any memory of Beth, but Roy had told him how she had probably saved their lives.
“How are you? What have you been up to?” Roy asked, grinning.
“Well, after I told the police who I was they did a search and found out that everyone thought I had died. I was in those woods for 6 years! I had lost track of the time. Then they contacted my parents for me and well, as you can imagine, they were shocked to hear that I was ok! It was an awesome reunion. Now I can start putting my life back together.”
“That is wonderful Beth!” Roy smiled.
“Beth,” Johnny added, “did you hear that they found the camp and that Reg and Cal were killed in the raid, but the others are awaiting trial?”
“Yes I heard. I am so relieved that no one will have to go through their torture again.
Look, I have to go, but so good to see you both! Here is my new phone number, please keep in touch.”
She handed the number to Roy and waved as she made her way out the door. He knew they would always have a special bond between them.
“Hey Pally, she means a lot to you huh?”
Roy gazed after her, deep in thought.
“Yeah Junior...she sure does.”
Posted to Site 3/26/17
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