Disclaimers: The characters of Xena & Gabrielle belong to MCA/Universal & Renaissance Pictures but seeing as how these are Uber characters - they're MINE. Copyright 1999 XenitBiker.
This a sample of General fiction. Feedback can be directed to: XenitBiker@aol.com
This is a poor attempt at showing what a Search & Rescue person
goes through on any given day for the sake of victims of violence. Nothing
I could possibly write would capture the respect I have for the persons
& animals that risk so much for so many others.
Dateline- New York City, NY. July 5 NY Times:
A bomb threat was called into the Reynolds Bldg at 7am. By 8:15am a mere 11/2 hrs later, an explosion ripped through the cold clear Eastern sky. By 4pm, 70 people were recovered from the rubble of the bldg. An estimated 30 more are presumed dead or missing.
It had been long day already. Tiana Mathews had gotten the call to assemble her SAR team early that morning & fly out from her Pa home. Her ever-present "shadow" at her side. Debris hung everywhere from this mornings event. Making her way carefully through the rubble that was once a proud, old building Tiana paused a moment to reflect back on this morning.
8:20am - An annoying ring roused the occupant of the cherrywood bed.
One long arm reached out from underneath the blue comforter & grabbed
for the offending noise. "Hello".
"Tiana?...We need you to get your team ready" ,came the low male voice on the other end.
"Where is it Scott?" a dark head now appeared out from under the warmth of the blanket.
"NY?...why dont you call the Amer Rescue Dog Assoc? My team *just* got in." The form of Tiana Mathews now sat up straight in bed already preparing herself for the trip. Blue eyes scanned the room in search of one object that she couldnt leave without. She half missed Scott James' answer as a large mass of blackness suddenly eclipsed her vision. Shadow, the 2 yr old black German Shepherd picked that opportune moment to jump up on the bed landing directly on her owner. "Oooof, down you beast!" Always diligent, the dog layed down....completely on Tiana.
"Okay, I'll get the team & fly out asap." She absently said into the receiver as she scratched the soft black ear of her companion.
"Thanks 'Tee', you know I only called because your the best. The N.Y team is on their way but I think you should be here too."
"Yeah, yeah...tell me I'm the 'best' to get a vacation after this Mr James & maybe I'll believe you. Give me the details....".
Kylee Jensen didnt know what hit her. One minute she was standing at
the desk waiting for a photo release to be signed & the next thing
she knew a loud, deafening noise assaulted her ears then....blackness.
Everything had gone like clockwork. Tiana's 8 member team flew out from
the airport in a little under 1 hr & placed them smack dab in the Big
Apple. Now, 9 hrs later the rescue was underway with outstanding results.
There had been quite a few casualties but as always it could've been far
worse which was a God-send given the time of day.
A tall, muscular man accompanied by a young, strong Golden Retriever made his way over to Tiana." 'Tee', we found a few more bodies but it looks bad. The last ones we pulled out weren't alive."
The tall woman's shoulders slumped a little at that revelation. She hated not being able to get to the people in time. The dogs would be stressed out if all they pulled out from now on were dead bodies. "What's the count Mark?"
"We're at 89 with a growing number of deceased at 20, another 60 injured."
Tiana could see the hours were taking a toll on her team & the dogs. Each member had just gotten back home a day before Scott called them out again."Okay Mark, tell Matt, Shari, & Judy to give their dogs a rest. You, Jim, Kelly, & Elaine start in wider circles & see if you can pick up anyone else. I'll get Shadow a drink & join you." The tall blonde acknowledged & walked off toward the rest of the group.
Looking down at the dog near her legs, Tiana reached down for the leash. "Come on girl, we're almost done". The shepherd gazed up at her with soft golden eyes as a long pink tongue escaped the furry muzzle to run along canine lips. Together the duo made their way to the provisions tent set up at the far end of the rescue site.
Slowly, Kylee opened her eyes, or at least she thought she opened them. What surounded her was complete blackness & tomb-silence. Her head hurt, her arms hurt, God, what *didnt* hurt. Trying to get her bearings she realized she was pinned. Resisting the sudden urge to scream out in her panic, Kylee bit her tongue & tried to slow her racing heart. 'Okay, calm down. I'm alive, I dont think I'm badly hurt. So, my only problem is no one knows I'm buried under here..buried alive.' With that thought she could feel her fear reaching out to strangle her. Closing her eyes, she tried to adjust her mind to the situation,'There has to be people looking for survivors. I just have to try & let someone know I'm in here.' Kylee tried to move her arms but as she did a sharp pain shot up to her shoulder.'Uhhnnn, I cant move.' With this realization she responded to her dilemma in the only way she knew she could rely on. 'Please God, help me.'
Tiana & Shadow had regrouped with the rescue team & chose to
search the farthest corner of the site. "That area's clear Tee, no one's
there." Tiana remembered Matt saying."While we're here, I just want to
make a final check. You tell the group to spread out & go through EVERYTHING
again." The red-haired man had nodded once & moved off to relay her
message. Walking through the rubble Tiana didnt know why she had chosen
this area to search but something drew her, almost like a physical pulling
on her body. "Who's here Shadow, eh girl? C'mon girl, find what we're looking
for & I promise you a dinner you wont soon forget." Suddenly, the dog
began tugging on the leash. "What is it girl? Did you find something?"
Black furry paws clawed at the exposed earth...digging...a mournful howl
erupted from the animal's throat..."Arooooowwwww......." The tall woman
pulled on the collar & leash trying to stop the black dog from digging
in the glass that was littered throughout the dirt & debris... once...
twice... she pulled harder & harder. Blood from the rescue dog's paws
seeped into the dark soil.
Pulling the dog away, Tiana bent down to survey the prize Shadow had been feverously trying to unearth. Tenitively she called out, "Can anyone hear me? Is anyone in there?"
Kylee thought she was dreaming, she heard a little whimper. Was it herself?
Did she cry out ? No, it WAS a whimper...or a whine...a dog? A rescue dog?
Kylee tried to call out to the dog & the very probable human rescuer
attached to it. "I'm here, I'm in here. Someone help me." The sound suddenly
stopped, she didnt hear anything....no digging..no whining....nothing.
'Oh no...God, please no....' And then...
"Hello, can anyone hear me. Are you alright? If you can hear me please try to answer me."
Kylee's voice came out as a weak squeak, "I'm here..." but got stronger, "Can you hear me? I'm in here...". She waited to hear the voice she heard once before. And it came, "I hear you. Are you hurt?".
Kylee closed her eyes a second & offered up a silent prayer then answered, "I'm pinned. My arms hurt, they're numb."
Tiana's mind clicked into gear. Cautiously she knelt down to the black shepherd,"Girl, go get help. Go..." The shepherd's ears flicked back once then forward & off the canine charged towards the rest of the search group.
Gathering her thoughts together, Tiana slowly started digging through the fallen debris until she found a small hole. Peering through the hole Tiana reached back & picked the small flashlight out of her pocket. Shining the light into the hole she tried to see the person who belonged to the small, frightened voice. Blue eyes landed on wide, hazel orbs staring back at her. Tiana took a look at the scratched, young face covered in dust & dirt. "I see you. You're going to be alright. Do you hear me?" She could see the young woman's eyes blink once then squint & release the tears she'd been holding. The tears flowed freely down the dirty face, in their wake leaving a clean path. "Hey, listen to me." Tiana's voice grew softer as she continued, "Listen, why dont you tell me your name so I know you're still thinking proplerly huh?" Slowly, Tiana reached her arm through the hole & brushed her thumb across the woman's cheek. "We'll get you out of here I promise. Trust me okay?"
Kylee's eyes adjusted to the sunlight filtering past the woman's shoulders & her nerves began to settle. She didnt know why but she believed the dark-haired rescuer. It was something about her voice, so confident & reassuring, that for the first time in many hours she felt she would be okay...really okay. "My name's Kylee Jensen, I'm a freelance photographer. I was waiting for some photo releases to be signed when there was an explosion."
The statement caught Tiana off-guard & a puzzled look crossed her face,"No one told you there was a bomb threat called in?"
Kylee shook her blonde head back & forth once, then twice, a disbelieving look on her face. "No, I guess they forgot I was down in the basement. I had been waiting a very long time but it isnt abnormal to have to wait for releases." Kylee's thoughts started to tumble over & over in her mind, & a slight quiver appeared on her lips.
Tiana saw the change in Kylee's features & lowered her body down to lay flat out on the ground so she could see better into the hole where the woman was trapped. "So, out of the boughs of Hell you arose like a Phoenix eh?" A slight smirk appeared on the angular, chiseled face.
The blonde couldnt believe what she was hearing. This person was making fun of her situation. She was buried in the ground, scared out of her wits, hurting like crazy, & oh happy day, she has the precedented luck to get a smart aleck for a rescuer. Hazel eyes turned a deep green & scorched a path of emerald fire toward the stranger smiling down at her. "I dont think its very funny that I'm trapped in here like this!" Kylee could feel anger start to burn deep within her.'She has a lot of nerve.How do they train rescue workers now, just give them a book by the Marquis deSade?'
Tiana noticed a faint flush increase to a deep shade of red on the previously pale face & another thought hit her,"Well I could've said, whats a nice girl like you doing in a place like this."
The loose hold Kylee had on her temper broke, "You know lady, I appreciate the fact that you have nothing better to do than crack jokes at my expense but I'd appreciate it more if you'd do it on your own time. I HAPPEN TO BE STUCK IN HERE!"
'She has spirit, I'll give her that.' Tiana thought, then said, "Well Ms Jensen, you are the perfect captive audience but if you must know, the nice rosy tint you have to your face now is a much better color than the pale, going into shock shade you sported a few minutes ago." A smirk formed on her lips again.
Kylee's eyes narrowed , "So you goaded me into anger? Is that textbook logic you use Miss....eh....?"
Tiana smiled, "Mathews, Tiana Mathews. Nope, just something I was born with."
Kylee smiled, "Well, you do know what they say about paybacks dont you Miss Mathews?"
Tiana's left eyebrow shot up into her hairline & then she said, "Hmm, if I remember correctly, paybacks are supposed to be ....."
A woman's voice came from behind,"TIANA ! TIANA! Hey, we have the team here. How's it look?."
Forty minutes later, a stretcher was carrying Kylee's bruised but safe body towards the awaiting ambulance. A loud, persistant barking stopped her journey as the black shepherd nosed her way through the people attending to Kylee & put her front paws on the stretcher. The injured woman slowly turned her head & was awarded with a lick from the cheerful dog. Smiling, she reached out to pet the soft, black head. A shadow fell across her face & she looked up into the eyes of her new friend & immediately felt a smile tugging at her face, "Hey."
Tiana moved closer, "Hey yourself." She gave the stretcher attendants a look that translated to 'Give me a minute' & the 3 men moved off to the side. Shadow put her paws on the ground again but still stayed well in range of Kylee's touch.
"It seems I'm going to have to stay overnight at the hospital for observation. Is that really necessary?" the blonde woman asked.
"I think its a good idea. You could very well have a concussion. Is there anyone I could contact for you?"
Kylee shook her head & answered, "No, my folks live in Texas & this isnt anything serious so I'll call them when I get back home from the hospital. No kids - no pets - no plants, so I'm fine."
Tiana was silent a minute before she spoke, "I could stop by to see how your feeling, maybe bring you a magazine to look through."
Kylee's eyes darted away then came back to rest on her rescuer, "I'd like that." Never one who was comfortable with silent moments she asked," Do you think you could smuggle a hamburger in with you?" Her face taking on a pleading expression.
Tiana couldnt stop the laugh that burst from her, "I suppose I could see to that."
Kylee sombered a moment, she looked up into the sky picturing the words written somewhere on the clouds," Umm... I havent said thank you for rescuing me back there." Her head turned back to stare into eyes the shade of the sky itself, "I was really scared...I thought this was 'it' for me you know?...I thought I was going to die under there." She took a deep breath, "I want you to know how thankful I am to you. You found me & for some reason after that I knew everything would be alright." Embarrassed, Kylee turned her focus on the black shepherd who was still enjoying the attention the young woman was giving her.
Tiana could see Kylee was uncomfortable with this heartfelt expression."Shadow found you actually...I couldnt get her away from the spot." Glancing down at the rescue dog she extended her hand & caressed the shepherds muzzle, a long pink tongue appeared & momentarily wrapped around her finger ." I knew I was there for some reason but I didnt know why."
A rustling to her left broke the momentary silence."Well, I'll let you get moving. I'll see you soon."
Backing away a step,Tiana bent to pick up the leash near her feet.Upon straightening, blue eyes met green & they both smiled.
Tiana watched as Kylee was loaded into the waiting ambulance & whisked
away to the hospital. Turning ,she saw a small figure running towards her
& instinctively knelt to brace for the rushing weight coming towards
her. Smiling, she prepared for the onslaught of questions,"Hey Billy."
A sandy blonde-haired boy rushed into the open arms of his mother, "Mom...I saw everything on the news! Wow...everyones talking about it. You & Shadow found the last person huh?"
The exuberance of the 10 yr old washed away most of the cares of the day; gone was the tiredness,gone were the tensions, gone was the need for rehashing things that could have been done differently this day. The only thing she saw was the brightness of her childs eyes." Yes, we did.What do you say we go out for burgers tonight?"
"Thats cool. Can we rent the movie, Air Bud? You know the dog did all his own stunts...."
The pair, followed closely by their canine companion, walked over to
the turquoise Honda Valkyrie setting off to the side of the site. Placing
Shadow in the sidecar, Tiana readied the motorcycle for their trip home.Pulling
on her jacket & making sure Billy was secure behind her, Tiana reached
for the helmet that was hung over the mirror.
"Pap & I watched the game today, before he dropped me off here, you know the Marlins won 24 -16! I think they'll do it this year Mom, I think they have a shot at the World Series."
Tiana tightened the strap of her helmet as she listened to the chattering of her son. She realized how much peace this awarded her; for another day, everything turned out right...everything was calm again.
Pressing the electric start button, the motorcycle rumbled to life. Tiana thought about how it could have ended & momentarily raised her eyes to the sky. "Thank you." she breathed into the air.
"Whats that, Mom?.... Hey, can we get shakes with our burgers?"
Glancing over her shoulder at the small helmeted figure, she replied "Yeah...we'll even pick up one for Shadow." Hearing her name, the shepherd lifted her head & licked her lips.
Pulling away from the arena of death, pain, & sorrow, the search-&-rescue worker released all the cares she could do nothing about & focused on what mattered - friendship, family, love, & life.
Dedication: There were a lot of people involved in different stages of this story. After not having written for a long time I was hesitant to start this madness again but with the help of a friend who flattered me with praise(whether I believe it or not is another thing ;), I continued with this little experiment in insanity until it was completed. I thank you for your friendship Kjay.
I have to also include the inspiration for the character of Billy. This was someone thrown in at the last minute because my son actually thought there should be a character of that name & description. Although we're not bonded by blood, we do have a deeper commitment & that is by the soul. I love you, Billy.
Go against the flow <><