See Chapter One for disclaimers.
Madison argued as the EMT's fastened the cervical collar around her neck, and then straps on the longboard around her waist and legs. Her head was completely immobilized, having been strapped the to spinal board as well and she could only look into the darkened sky as the Paramedisc placed her into the back of the waiting ambulance. "I'm fine Steve really, it's just a few scratches, please let me up." Her head throbbed and although the doctor suspected that she had sustained a mild concussion when a piece of debris from the explosion hit her in the head, she was more concerned with finding out what happened to Logan. Dammit, I don't even know if she is alive.
The doors slammed and her favorite EMT slid into the jump seat to begin his evaluation and call in the report to Mercy. Frantically searching his eyes, she took hold of his wrist. "Steve, the other woman, where is she?"
The EMT looked at the doctor, and shrugged his shoulders. "You were the only one we were dispatched to Doc. As far as I know there wasn't another victim."
Struggling against the restraints, Madison felt the EMT's hand on her shoulder as a blinding pain wracked through her head. "Doc, come on now, be still, you know the rules." Tears streaked down Madison's face as stared at the ceiling of the speeding ambulance. Sighing heavily, Steve patted her shoulder. "Okay settle down, I'll radio dispatch and see if there was another call, but damnit Doc, you have to be still for me. You have a knot on your head and probably a concussion to go with it."
Madison cut her eyes towards the man, as the pain tore through her head. "Thanks Steve." God Logan, please be okay...please baby, I just found you. Don't leave me now. She listened as Steve called into dispatch. A few moments later, he hooked the mic back onto the radio, turning back to his favorite doctor. "Sorry, Doc. There wasn't another call for a woman, just a man...a firefighter from the same scene, and he's being transported to General."
Fighting frustration, she cooperated as the EMT asked her questions, trying to evaluate her level of awareness. "That board that hit your head knocked you for a loop there, Doc. Can you tell me what day it is?"
Although she had difficulty concentrating and it took some time, Madison answered all of his questions. Her vision was still slightly blurred and the ringing in her ears was becoming maddening. Finally her patience running out, she tried to lift her hand to grab his collar only to have the restraints hold her solidly to the backboard. Cutting her eyes in his direction, she glared at the man and growled. "I swear Steve, if you ask me one more stupid question, I'll slug you as soon as get up from here."
Shocked, Steve watched Madison, trying to evaluate her condition more thoroughly. Never knowing of the doctor raise her voice to anyone, he decided the concussion was worse than he had first thought. "Doc Madi, don't make me have to restrain you any more than I already have. You just calm down and we'll be at Mercy in a few minutes."
She tried to relax as a wave of nausea washed over her. "I'll tell you one thing Stevie boy, if old Doc Ferguson is on call tonight, I'm going to see to it that you suffer dearly." The EMT sat back and radioed his preliminary report into the hospital ER as Madison lay quietly on the gurney, a single tear streaking her face.
The memory of the firefighter falling through the roof returned. Madison knew she had a slight concussion, she was still having trouble concentrating and her vision was blurry. Closing her eyes, she tried to concentrate, focusing on the events that led up to now. The fire, the fire engines... no. no. no. Logan pushed me out the window first, and then the fire engines came. Okay what next. The police officer. She couldn't think, the memory was jumbled somewhere in her brain. Wait, I remember. The firefighter fell through the roof, then...Oh God, the explosion. The doctor released a painful moan as she remembered the fiery explosion; realizing there was no way anyone inside could have survived.
The insistent beeping of the back-up warning alarm resounded in Madison's head as the ambulance backed into the ER bay at Mercy Hospital. The door flew open and in a flurry of motion, she was being wheeled into a brightly lit exam room and immediately saw old Doc Ferguson standing patiently awaiting her arrival. "Well Doctor, it looks like you got yourself into a little mishap tonight."
Even as Madison argued, the senior physician continued, "Now, now Doctor, don't cause me any trouble. It won't hurt for me to do a simple exam just to make sure."
The blonde resigned herself to the inevitable and allowed the old Doc the cursory exam, swearing to herself the entire time. If he cops a feel, I swear I'll deck him right where he stands. It was common knowledge around Mercy that Doctor Henry Ferguson had roaming hands during an exam. Several lawsuits had been filed over the years from patients, but the hospital administration had always found a way to make the case disappear.
Now as she lay in the ER, a patient of the 'letch' himself, she fought back the nausea that rolled in her stomach. The emergency physician quickly examined Madison, diagnosing a Grade 2 concussion and a few minor scrapes and lacerations. After the technician completed a quick cervical spine x-ray and the doctor received an all-clear, he released the straps from the spine board and removed the cervical collar from around her neck. "I'm ordering a CT Scan as well, just to make sure everything is alright, Doctor. When the report comes back, if everything is clear then we will talk. Nancy will get you all cleaned up Doctor and I'll be back in a little while to check on you."
The attending nurse began cleaning and applying bandages to the wounds when Madison suddenly covered her mouth and began frantically looking around the room. Grabbing a nearby plastic basin, the nurse held it under the doctor's chin as she vomited.
Wiping her mouth with a damp cloth, the nurse eased the suffering doctor back onto the stretcher and continued focused her attention on dressing the wounds. A few moments later, she placed the call button in Madison's hand and left to check the status of the CT scan the ER physician had ordered.
Closing her eyes to the throbbing headache, all she could do was moan as another wave of nausea washed over her. The ringing in her ears intensified and the voices beyond the curtain turned into a jumbled echo. As she reached out for the railing, an arm gently held her up, turning her over towards the basin while she once again violently vomited the contents of her stomach.
When she no longer had the strength to sit, the warm arm held her up and a soothing voice whispered in her ear until she had expelled everything she could into the tiny plastic basin. Lying down, she opened her eyes and looked into the familiar face of her friend, Julie Ellison.
"I heard you were coming in and thought I'd come down and say hello, although I didn't expect this kind of greeting." Taking her penlight, Julie flashed it into each of Madison's eyes. "Well, kiddo, from what I hear, you have a concussion. 'The Nukes' are going to get a CT scan just to make sure there's nothing going on in that brain of yours, but we all know the answer to that one, right?"
Seeing the tears flow down the soot smudged face of her friend, Julie reached out and took hold of a trembling hand. "Hey Madi, are you okay. Tell me what hurts."
The tender voice of her friend only made her sobs worsen and she dropped her head into her face. "I've lost her Julie, I just know it."
Confusion danced in the doctor's head as she tried to discern what her friend was talking about. She hadn't spoken to Madison in a few days, but she knew there was no one in her life at the moment and couldn't figure out who she was speaking about. It's probably just the concussion. Turning she spoke to one of the nurses, asking that she tell the doctor of Madison's continued confusion and asked that the CT team respond stat, then turned back to her friend. "Madi, who are you talking about."
In her mind, Madison knew she was confusing Julie, but she couldn't form the correct sequence of sentences. "The fire, Logan, I've lost her."
Julie was glad Madison couldn't see the shock on her face as the reality of what her friend had just said, hit her. The detective, that must be the person that was DOA. Wiping her tired eyes, Julie held the doctors hand as she cried, not knowing how to respond to her friend's obvious pain.
The CT team came in about an hour later and wheeled Madison out. Julie released a long sigh as she mulled over the information. Walking quickly from the room, she found the nearest phone and dialed a familiar number, waiting impatiently for the voice on the other end to answer. "Hey. Yeah, sorry I woke you, but I just heard that the detective you were asking about the other day got killed tonight in a fire." She listened for a few moments, glancing around to make sure no one could overhear the conversation. "Yes, I know. Me too. Okay, I have to run, but I'll let you know if I hear anything else. I love you too baby, talk to you tomorrow." After ending the call, the doctor quickly left the emergency department, walking swiftly towards the elevators.
George Whitfield, the Fire Inspector picked up the charred remains of one of a dozen small gas cans strategically placed around the perimeter of the house. The latex gloves he had slipped over his large hands an hour earlier were now covered with soot and mud. Blowing out a low whistle as he turned to his assistant, he tilted his head to the side, trying to stretch out the tensed muscles. "Someone wanted this place down...and fast. Sweet Mary, there was enough fuel here to burn down city hall and with this old house being nothing but good kindling, I'm surprised it stood as long as it did." Turning, he walked towards the minivan he used as an office and dug the cell phone from the glove compartment.
After looking around to make sure no one was within hearing range, he punched in the familiar number. As he waited, small beads of sweat began dotting his forehead. Jesus, I hate reporting to this asshole. His thoughts were interrupted as an impatient voice echoed in his ear. "Yes, Mr. Langston...yes sir...no but...I know." Wiping his brow, he continued to listen until he was given a chance to respond. "I know sir. My preliminary finding will be arson. Yes, sir. No, I don't have any information on the two victims as of yet. Yes sir, I will, but you have to remember, I'll have no power if this turns into a murder investigation." Hearing the distinctive click on the other end of the line, the inspector closed the phone and tossed it back onto the seat before, sighing heavily and returning to the smoldering ashes of what remained of the house.
Phil Dvorak stood close by as the technician examined the phone cable leading to the house. They'd already concluded that the alarm had been disarmed prior to the fire, and by the looks of the wires hanging from the side of the house the phone line had as well. Luckily, a neighbor noticing the flames and called the Fire Department, but couldn't get through to Logan. Scratching his head, he moved on to the next order of business
Kneeling down beside the confused dog, Dove wondered to whom it belonged. He knew Logan had Clancy, but had never heard her mention any other animals. Looking up he saw the volunteer from the animal shelter walking towards them and stood. "Hey, Umm, I think we know who this guy belongs to now. I'm sorry we got you out here for nothing, but he won't be going with you."
Frustration, swept the woman's face as she ran a hand over her sleepy face. "Well, thanks for calling so I wouldn't have to drive all the way into the city, asshole."
As Dove watched her storm away, he smiled down at the honey colored lab. "Geez, I'm glad you're sticking with me, fella. She doesn't' seem like a great choice for a late night date."
Taking hold of his collar, Dove led the dog to his car and put him in the back seat wondering what he was going to do with the dog. "I'll figure out something boy. If Logan had you then that's all that matters, you're not going to the shelter." Rolling down the windows, he spoke to the panting canine. "Stay, sit, or whatever the hell you're supposed to do. Just don't leave."
Moving gingerly through the scattered debris, he walked over to the temporary command post set up by the CSI team. Looking around, he spied the next order of business and walked over, his stride displaying his ever-waning patience. "I have the dog in the car, are you ready to go?"
The soot-smudged face that lifted bore through him like a knife. "In a minute."
Throwing up his hands, he stalked away from the command post and back to the car, leaning impatiently against the fender as his foot tapped an angry cadence on the sidewalk.
Madison returned from the Nuclear Medicine Department after having the CT scan and sat impatiently for the results. The nurses hadn't allowed her to dress in case there were other tests to be ordered, so she sat on the stretcher drumming her fingers on the railing, waiting. After another hour, she had reached her limit, and decided she wasn't waiting any longer for the 'letch' to return. Jesus, remind me never to make my ER's wait again while I finish my paperwork. Sitting alone in the room, her fear turned to anger and she threw back the starched sheet, carefully lowering herself from the stretcher. She was slipping to top to an oversized pair of scrubs over her head when Julie came into the room.
"Whoa, sorry there kiddo." Walking further into the exam room, she eyed her friend with suspicion. "So I guess old Doc Ferguson decided to spring you huh? I figured he would want to keep you overnight for observation."
As the doctor rolled up the legs of the scrub pants, she growled, "Well, I wouldn't know. I haven't seen him in over an hour and I'm not sitting around here any longer." She headed towards the door, then stopped and turned back towards her friend. "Umm, I just remembered, I don't have a car can you drive me to...?" Tears sprang to her eyes realizing there was nowhere safe she could go, Madison began sobbing. "Damn, I don't know where to go...what to do."
Julie caught the woman as her legs weakened and she began sinking towards the floor. "Hey, come on. You're going home with me." Holding the blonde tightly in her arms, she stood rocking the tired and bruised woman waiting until the sobs turned to weak whimpers. "Come on Madi. Let's get out of here."
Against Doctor Ferguson's protests, Julie signed Madison out under her care, promising she would return with the woman the next morning for a comprehensive follow-up. Pushing the wheelchair out the sliding doors, they made their way across the cavernous ambulance bay. Cursing, Julie jerked back quickly on the wheelchair as a blue sedan, with a flashing red light on the roof, sped into the bay, screeching to a halt. "Freaking cops, bet they cause half the accidents in this city."
Rolling the wheelchair to the car without any further incidents, she stopped beside the passenger door, set the brakes and unlocked the door. Assisting Madison into the car, the magnitude of what she was doing hit her. Closing the door, she walked around to the other side and climbed inside, glancing at the woman next to her. Jesus, I hope this works. As she slowly began driving towards her apartment, she wondered just what she had gotten herself mixed up in this time.
Femur became frantic as Dove stopped inside the ambulance bay. With no time to comfort the animal, he bolted out of the car running through the sliding doors yelling for assistance. "I have an officer down in the parking lot, I need help now."
He was pushed aside as a nurse commandeered a gurney from a passing orderly and raced out the door. Moments later he stood watching as the gurney reappeared with Logan lying motionless. The nurse who he had first seen was riding along, her feet on the bottom rails of the speeding gurney, pumping air into his friend's lungs.
Leaning against the wall, Dove recalled the frantic five minute ride to Mercy. Refusing to leave the scene until she had some solid evidence, the detective's breathing became more and more labored as the minutes passed, until finally, Lieutenant Beaudry had ordered her to report to Mercy for a full examination. Her shoulders and arms were marred with red burned patches of flesh where the debris had seared her skin. Dove knew she was lucky and thanked whatever gods were listening for the life of his friend.
Talking with the attending firemen, he had pieced together the recent events of the evening. Logan had undoubtedly helped her visitor escape from a window and then remained in the burning structure intent on saving the animals trapped inside. Her luck had come when the fireman that had fallen through the roof came crashing down upon her. Sustaining a broken leg and multiple lacerations, he had remained conscious and radioed to his comrades outside their location in the house and then immediately felt a waterfall descend on them as the hoses were directed towards their location.
Dove knew if it hadn't been for his heroic efforts Logan would probably be at the city morgue insted of in the ER. After a few strong words and finally and order from the Primary Investigator, she had reluctantly inhaled the oxygen the paramedics offered. She handed Clancy over to Mr. and Mrs. Arrington, the neighbors next door, only after giving the frightened cat a thorough examination to make sure he was okay. Femur had fared better than any of them as his rescue had come as soon as the firefighters reached the back of the house. His frantic barking led the men to his location and he was immediately extracted from the burning structure, and tied to a tree far away from danger.
The firefighter was immediately loaded into an ambulance and taken to General for treatment. Logan, obviously in pain and having difficulty breathing, refused to be taken away from the scene, demanding to be allowed to stay and help with the investigation. Once assured that Madison was being take care of, she had searched through the smoldering remains of her house alongside the inspector.
The detective's reasoning that Madison would be safe inside the hospital, made her ignore the searing pain that swathed her body as she searched. Dove had accepted his friend's determination after making her promise to let him take her in after she was satisfied everything possible was being done to catch the person responsible for the destruction.
Raking a hand through his hair, Dove couldn't help but feel guilty for the condition Logan was now in. Damnit Logan, why are you so stubborn. The detective's plan had been foiled as her breathing became labored, forcing her to abandon the search and have Dove drive her to the hospital. Two blocks away from the house, Logan had rolled down the window, gasping for air and all Dove could do was speed up and watch in panicked silence as his friend passed out on the seat next to him.
Pacing the floor, he waited for what seemed like an eternity until a doctor walked through the automatic doors leading to the exam rooms. Eying the disheveled officer, he walked over, as he slipped his stethoscope from around his neck and tucked it into a pocket. "Are you with the officer that was just brought in?"
"Yes, how is she?" Dove was practically screaming as he felt the last of his patience depart.
"I need to see her family, do you know where I can find them?" The doctor stretched his neck as he waited.
Dove fought the urge to back the man against the wall and focused on retaining some measure of control. "She doesn't' have any family, I guess, I'm as good as you're going to get." Raking a hand through his hair, he glared at the doctor. "Listen, look in her wallet if you don't believe me, my name is in it as an emergency contact. Now tell me how she is before I go in there and find out for myself."
The doctor led Dove to an adjoining consultation room and sat on the sofa as he detailed the detective's injuries. "She has first and second degree burns on her arms and shoulders, but what I'm more concerned about at the moment is her pulmonary distress. There is a significant amount of edema, which was causing her labored breathing. We now have her on a ventilator and will be transferring her up to ICU in a few minutes."
Dove felt like he had just been sucker-punched listening to the doctor. Just an hour ago, Logan was barking orders to everyone around her, now she was on her way to ICU. "I'm sorry Doctor, but I don't understand all this medical talk. Could you please just tell me how she is, in simple words?"
Sitting back into the cushions of the couch, the doctor took a deep breath, resigning himself to a lengthy consultation. "Okay, it's like this. Your friend inhaled a lot of smoke that damaged her bronchial passages...her airway. The cells in her airway became, ummm, leaky and that is what caused the edema, or a buildup of fluid in her lungs." Looking over at Dove, he saw the man was still following along and proceeded. "There is nothing we can do to stop the edema, but we can help with her distressed respirations...ahh, breathing by placing her on a ventilator."
Holding up a hand, Dove stopped the doctor as the vision of Logan entered his mind. "You mean she can't breath on her own. Is she going to die?"
Shaking his head, the doctor realized the man sitting next to him was more than just a friend to his patient. "No, I didn't say that. What I said was, she was having a difficult time breathing and we placed her on the ventilator to assist her respirations so that her body can rest and use it's energy to begin the healing progress." The doctor knew he had an obligation to present his finding as honestly and openly as he could. "At this time, I can't tell how much damage was done to her lungs. The next twenty-four hours and how her body responds to treatment will give me a better idea of what to expect. For now, I suggest you go home and get some rest. I have Detective McGregor sedated so the ventilator can do its job and she will be asleep the rest of the night." Standing up the doctor moved towards the door. "Come back tomorrow morning and if she is doing better, I'll let you in to see her, okay?"
Dove sat in the empty consultation room for a long while after the doctor left. He and Logan had been through a lot together in the past, but this was worse that anything they had ever faced. Standing, he stretched the tired muscles in his back before leaving the quiet space and returning to the car. Sliding in the front seat, he met the expectant eyes of the lab sitting in the passenger seat. Scratching the dog under the chin, he released a frustrated sigh. "Well kid, I guess we better get back to work." He was about to start the engine when he remembered the woman that had been inside the house with Logan. She had been brought here by ambulance and Dove knew they would have her contact information at the desk.
Exiting the car, he made his way back through the sliding doors and waited patiently beside the glassed in reception area until the clerk returned. After a lengthy debate and the assistance of Logan's doctor, Dove returned to the car with the information he had needed. Pulling his cell phone from between the seats, he dialed the number and waited. After a few rings, the answering machine picked up and he listened to the confident and strong voice of Doctor Madison Cavanaugh. When the beep prompted his reply, Dove left a brief message and his phone number asking the woman to return his call as soon as possible, then pressed the off button and tossed it on the seat.
Looking out the window, the detective decided to head home for a long hot shower before returning to Logan's house to help with the investigation. Backing out of the parking space, the detective and the dog rode off into the early morning hours, both unsure of what the future would hold for either of them.
Continue to Chapter Twenty of Code Blue
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