I did not want to wake up this morning, but when I did-- my adrenalin was pumping full force. It was well after 0800 and I still hadn't heard a peep out of Bri. I hit the BabyMonitor for her room and it was empty.
I didn't know how she could have gotten out- until I got out to the living room. Bri was watching the trid... sitting in her daddy's lap.
Case smiled at me. I could tell that he was really tired, but that somehow being there with our daughter was doing him a lot more good than anything else. I wanted to ask him about it- but I could tell it wasn't something he could really talk about.
So I curled up wit the two of them and watched trids.
Case ended up grabbing a shower and collapsing in bed and I ended up reading to Bri. I just hope she never learns that Merick's is not true bed time reading material.
After I put the terror down for her nap, I broke out one of her favorite toys and spread it out in front of the trid. It's a 1/43rd scale map of downtown. She likes to play with my cars and ambulances- truth be told so do I.
I have a collection of maps setup so that I can track the calls and review positioning and response time in varying levels of traffic. Sure I could use a computer mock up, as a matter of fact I do- but sometimes having something physical adds a touch of reality to it.
Besides- the more different perspectives you have, the better your chances of understanding the full implications.
Case keeps threatening to get me blow up buildings.
Case was off today- from the looks of things he really needed it. I was going to take the terror with me, but he told me it was fine. Something in his eyes told me he needed it. I have to admit, sometimes the kid reminds me of what its all about- looks like she does the same for Case.
The folks at the office were worried when I showed up without my side-kick. Worse, no matter what I said-- I couldn't convince them that she was fine. They didn't really believe until Case and Bri showed up to take me to lunch.
I felt like saying: 'See? '
Lunch wasn't anything fancy, it was more about time away from the office than nutrition. It was a nice break and I could see that Case was doing a lot better. When he noticed I was studying him he just winked.
Sometimes we all need a little time to just veg.
I hadn't heard from PC and was about to call him, when he called me. It was 1730. He kept the call simple and didn't go into too much detail, just that he managed to record one of the ghost calls- and that a friend across town recorded the same message but didn't get the same message.
He said it was almost like radio skip- except that parts of the calls matched up. He told me he'd keep listening and let me know if he gets anything else.
I, in the meantime, have requested the tapes from dispatch. This whole thing is getting freakier by the day.
Needless to say, I was thinking about the calls quite a bit during the shift. It wasn't like there was much I could do about them other then worry- but that didn't stop me.
One of the night's calls managed to take my mind off of it at least for a while. A kid got caught between the monorail and the platform. He was small enough that we actually managed to get him out with minimal trouble- unfortunately he was also small enough that the blood loss was a major concern.
Cases like these it doesn't matter how fast the medics arrive- its how fast the rescue team can get there. All I could do for a while was hold his hand and try to keep him among the living long enough to be extracted.
Those are the calls that tear you up inside. You have to keep the victim calm and talking. Keep him from thinking about just how bad things really are- give him hope, all the while knowing that his odds are getting slimmer and slimmer.
It was touch and go. The pressure from the train kept the bleeding down, but it also kept him trapped. Once he was cleared of the train, the big threat was having him bleed to death before we could get things under control.
When I got home- Case was waiting up for me. He'd heard the call and knew I'd need some company afterwards. I'm really glad he's a part of my life. I don't think I could take this insanity if he weren't.
I was still thinking about last night's calls when I reported in. I made a quick call to the hospital-to check on the boy, Bobby Philips. All they could tell me was that he was in stable condition.
Two hours later I was visited by the police. Of course by now, I think everybody at Lone Star has at least heard of me. I was surprised about the reason they wanted to talk to me. They wanted to know why I'd called about the kid- not because they thought it was odd, but because they just knew that if I was interested in the case that something was up.
I had to laugh.
"Guys, it's not that bad is it?" I asked.
They just looked at me. It was that 'you have got to be kidding' look that only cops seem to be able to make. Sometimes I think that's what they teach folks in Lone Star- how to look stern, unamused and jaded.
"Okay," I assured them. "This is just a case of having something emotionally at stake with the patient. Nothing weird, no nagging feeling in the back of my skull- just a straightforward interest in a patient.
They seemed somewhat mollified, but I could tell they were still going to follow it up. I honestly went through it in my mind and reviewed everything I'd seen and thought throughout the call, but there was nothing- nothing except for wondering how he'd managed to get pinned, but its happened , granted each time it does, they come up with extra precautions to guard against the exact same circumstances from happening again.
I got three more visits over the course of the shift: one from the Transit Authority, asking about the details of the entrapment and extrication; one from an ambulance chaser hoping to represent the kid in an obvious case of negligence; and a final one from the boy's parents.
They just wanted to thank me, and to tell me that they appreciated everything I did. I could tell they didn't mean just the medical assistance.
Times like those are few and far between, but they really help. I think it helped all three of us.
I stopped by the hospital on the way into work and checked on Bobby Philips. His parents were happy enough to see me, even if the police did show up to try and find out what I was up to.
Yeah, I don't have to convince them of my innocence in the case- I just have to convince them that there isn't a case. At least not as far as I'm concerned.
It seems I have quite a reputation with Lone Star. On the bright side, I'm not a suspect every time something goes wrong now. Most of the time the interviews boil down to a good natured: "All right Miller, what cockamamie story do you have for us this time?"
Its quite a relief after dealing with investigators that were so sure they were going to bring me down for whatever imagined crime I'd committed. These days, I've had more than a few officers ask to be reassigned when they found out that I was somehow involved with a particular case.
I don't understand it really, it's not like I bite or anything.
I wanted to ask Bobby's parent's about what happened, if only because the police were there. I mean, now they have me curious about the whole affair and that can be dangerous. It almost makes me wonder if that was their plan in the first place: get me curious about the case so whatever's involved will attach itself to me so that its easier for them to track.
Thing was, Bobby's accident was just that as far as I could tell. There wasn't anybody near him when it happened. At least that's what he said. Maybe I'll check the security tapes of the station platform...
By the time I got home this morning-- plans for investigating Bobby Philips' case was the last thing on my mind. We got three more phantom calls and two of them tied up my medics enough that we barely made one of the real calls of the night.
That was the last straw. I called Ray, PC, Central Dispatch and the CEO of Citywide and arranged a meeting for tonight before shift. When I got home I told Case about it.
I could tell by the way his eyes narrowed and his jaw muscles started twitching that I'd hit a nerve. I was about to call him on it when he just sagged into a chair and started shaking his head. He honestly hadn't thought of asking me if we'd gotten any 'weird' calls-- well, weirder than usual anyway.
"Jess-- it was some anomaly in the dispatching system. I never thought... "
I shook my head. "We're meeting at 1630," I told him. "Think you can round up your people for a pow-wow."
Case just nodded and smiled at me. "We really need to talk more," he sighed.
I just grinned and nodded as he started making calls.
"I better get a bigger room," I sighed him after he'd finished his fifth call. "I think this problem has gotten a lot more interesting."
Case just grinned at me and winked. There was something questioning in his eyes as he watched me and I finally couldn't take it anymore.
"Detective Young wants to know if this has anything to do with the 'Philips' case."
"There is no Philips case," I whimpered as I hid my head under a pillow. "No case!"
I could hear Case chuckling as he started dialing again. By the time the meeting rolled around we had representatives from LoneStar, Citywide, DocWagon, the Agency, Knight Errant, AZT Emergency Services and Renraku Emergency Services, City Dispatch Services, not to mention a very nervous PC.
I could tell he really hated facing that many law enforcement agencies at one time, but he was our consultant on this. He tried to get me to disguise his voice and let him hide behind a screen, but a) we weren't equipped to do it and b) he was having way too much fun with it. He ended up giving me the results of the call monitoring he and his friends had been doing along with copies of our videos and then beat feet out of there.
It wasn't the most productive of meetings but at least we'd gotten everybody on the same page. Sometimes that's what it takes.
Most couples find babysitters so they can get a break from their kids and go and do something romantic-- not Case and me. No, we get a sitter so we can take our work home with us and try to make it make sense.
Still it is kind of romantic-- since we're trying to keep each other alive.
Case was rather upset with me for not telling him about my 'encounter.' Ray's was a lot worse, but it didn't bother him half as much as mine. Kinda sweet-- archaic, but sweet.
I glared at him for a minute and then shook my head. "'Hello? Marshall Reese? Yes, this is Jessica Miller, Case's wife. Oh fine... yes, I know he's working on a case and is incommunicado right now, but when you can talk to him, could you please tell him that I was almost run down by an imaginary truck, and that I hurt my bike?' That would go over really well, don't you think?"
Case looked at me and finally recanted. I did have a point.
"You know," he finally answered with a chuckle. "I think I'm beginning to understand how Therese felt."
I had to grin at that. Once we got our 'issues' out of the way we actually did manage to come up with something.
When we started going through last night's calls we found something. Out of two calls to the Star, one for DocWagon and the three we got at Citywide, one set of calls overlapped.
There were elements of the same calls-- but they were also very different. Tapes of the scanner calls revealed four variations on the calls. It all seemed to be where you were in the city when the call came through. That meant that if confirmed our calls through our dispatch and the Star's we'd have a better chance of I.D.-ing the ghost calls.
Now all we have to do is figure out what's causing them
Copyright 2000 M.T. Decker