Author: Stealth Dragon PM
What once was only a bad dream becomes all too real for Danny. Can he handle it? Isnpired by the episode A Man A Mile. PG though it is a little gross in one part.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Adventure/Angst - Chapters: 4 - Words: 12,960 - Reviews: 19 - Favs: 27 - Follows: 6 - Published: 03-19-05 - id: 2312781
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: How is CSI like a ferret? I don't own either one, but I like them both.
Danny is forced to live out a nightmare and face his fear. Inspired by the episode A Man A Mile. I know nothingabout explosive devices so please do not nit-pick about it.
The body wasn't going anywhere. It would never go anywhere again. Danny passed his eyes over the body in search of the answers bodies sometimes held. There was the empty inhaler, blood oozing from a crack in the skull and abrasions all over the body caused by falling rocks. The man was a mangled mess.
Danny did not know why he was here. This case had already been solved, it was over, the body shouldn't even be here let alone Danny. Danny looked up then over in the direction of the tunnel entrance where pale sunlight cast a sickly glow on the walls. He had kept seeing the light out of the corner of his eye with the certainty that it would always be there. However, the moment he looked up, the light was gone. All he saw ahead of him was darkness thick as spilled ink, congealing into a wall that seemed palpable and unyielding. When he turned to face the other way, he saw the same. The only light was the one shining down on the body from an unknown source.
" Mac?" Danny called, his breath coming quick. " Aiden, Stella, Dr. Hawkes?"
He did not know why he called all their names. He and Mac were the only ones working the case.
What case? It was over. They had the killer. Why was Danny even here? Where was the light? Where was anything?
The darkness was closing in. The light over the body was fading. The air became thick and stale, impossible to breathe. Danny took several deep breaths trying to capture the remaining oxygen. His heart hammered, his lungs screamed, then the light went out… and Danny woke up.
The universe was not being kind to Danny this day. He could not call it irony, since irony tended to be something one could laugh at later in life. Of course, maybe he would laugh about this later, but at the moment he found it more sickening. It was true; life did tend toward having a cruel sense of humor.
It was not the same tunnel, but it was being created for the same purpose, so it's depth was pretty much the same as well. There was a different foreman, since it was a different crew working in a different area, so no one was familiar. The urgency was the same. Work needed to continue since water was being diverted, so no one was happy.
What was different besides the crew was the tunnel itself and the body found within. It being a new tunnel, it was smaller farther in and continued to shrink until one was forced to duck. The body, very much unlike last time, was the body of a young woman. Or at least that was what Dr. Sheldon told them. The body was three steps away from total decay, with the lower half buried so that moving it would cause it to tear apart. So instead of bringing the body to him, Dr. Sheldon had come to the body.
He was kneeling next to the corpse now, cutting open the outer layer that had once been clothing but now looked more like the skin.
" How do you know it's a she again?" the foreman, a heavy-set New Jersey man named Stan Johnson, asked. He didn't need to be down in the tunnel with them, yet he seemed unable to allow himself to leave. He wasn't as bad as most foremen Danny had encountered. Yes, he wanted things to hurry along, but he at least had the decency to be troubled by the body found nearly buried in his tunnel.
" The remaining hair was kind of a give-away," Dr. Sheldon said, lifting up a few of the left over strands with the tip of the scalpel. " But not a certainty. The purse still strapped to her shoulder confirmed it. I still can't give you a name though. The bag's empty."
He continued cutting the clothing away. The smell was practically stifling, making the air thick as though toxic.
Danny watched for a moment as Dr. Sheldon worked, but his attention kept drifting back up the tunnel where daylight was still visible as a ghostly halo of itself, seemingly on the verge of fading. Danny's gaze then moved up toward the uneven rocky ceiling made slick and glossy with moisture. A shudder ran through him like ice water.
He could not deny his apprehension about being this deep underground, and he doubted he could hide it if he tried. The first time they went down into one of these tunnels, when they had found the body of the workman, Danny had been uneasy but it had been a simple thing to shake off, especially once work got under way. Now, this being the second time, he found it a little less easy to brush aside.
Still, it did not stop him, nor truly distract him from what he needed to be doing. It just took him a moment to pull his attention away from the fact that he was back at where he did not want to be.
He turned his mind back to the body and studying the area around it.
" This body hasn't been here long," Dr. Sheldon said. " It's pretty dry for all this cave moisture. And though you probably shouldn't quote me on this just yet," he carefully lifted the head of the victim to turn it slightly, " it looks as though her neck had been broken. So she wasn't crushed, not like with your last guy."
" Last guy?" Stan said, then perked. " Oh yeah, I heard about that. I'll tell ya this much, and don't take it wrong or anything, but we haven't had any women on our crew for a while now. Not a lot of 'em care to apply. There is Cassy, but she handles paper work and data entry. Plus, she's still alive seeing as how I talked to her fifteen minutes ago. And I may not be a doctor but I doubt anyone can rot in fifteen minutes."
Dr. Sheldon smiled wryly. " Oh, don't be too sure. You'd be surprise what's possible these days. You're right in this ladies case, though. She's been dead for quite a while now."
Danny tilted his head to one side as he regarded the corpse. " I'm thinking a crappy attempt at burial. Someone was trying to hide the body. Actually, get rid of the body." He looked at Stan. " You're planning to widen this tunnel, right?"
Stan twitched his head in a nod. " Yeah, soon as this gets cleared up."
They heard the scrape and crunch of footsteps and looked up to see Mac coming toward them, trailed by another workman. Like Danny and Dr. Sheldon, Mac was wearing CSI standard coveralls, the kind normally used to go through garbage and other dirty aspects of a case. The guy behind him was wearing a heavy bright orange safety jacket with reflective tape, thick jeans, and thick work boots all stained with splatters of mud. He was a broad-shoulder, square-jaw kind of guy with dirty blonde hair and the beginnings of a beard. He looked annoyed as though he would rather be anywhere else in the world than here.
" I contacted Stella," Mac said. " She's bringing people over to help us dig our vic out."
" Sure we can't help?" Stan asked.
" It would be better if no one else handled the corpse except those authorized to. It shouldn't take long."
Stan shrugged, but the man in the orange coat seemed annoyed. He was keeping several feet between himself and the body, but moving about as though trying to get a better look.
" Somethin' you want, Dave?" Stan asked with his own annoyance hinted in the flat tone of his voice. Dave looked over at Stan, startled as though he had not realized Stan was there.
" Um, yeah. Some of the guys wanted to know if this means we can get off early."
Stan's features darkened. " What do you think, Dave? We still got work to do. Someone needs to check those explosives."
" Yeah again. Somehow we ended up with one too many on the last blast. I don't want that happening again."
Stan turned away, ending the conversation. Before Dave left he shot a nasty glare at the foreman's back.
Danny had watched the two exchange words and was certain Dave had more to say but had thought better of it. When compared to the rest of the workers Danny had seen milling about, Dave appeared fairly up tight. His stance had been rigid, and had it not been for the dark look he had given the foremen, Danny would have thought Dave afraid of the boss. It all probably meant nothing. Some guys were more wound up than others. Danny would be too if he had to work everyday under tons of rock, fiddling with explosives.
" I'll head back out," Mac said, " and wait for Stella."
The sudden desire to volunteer to wait topside struck Danny like a blow. The words almost spilled from his mouth without bidding but he checked himself just in time, giving himself a mental berating. The unease he felt was nothing more than an annoying little phobia, and to give into it now would only make things worse, not to mention bring any respect anyone had for him down a notch.
Danny kept his mouth clamped shut and nodded in understanding. But instead of leaving, Mac stood there for a moment, studying Danny's face.
" You all right?" he asked.
" Yeah, why?" Danny replied a little too quickly.
" You look a little pale. Sure you don't want to go up? I can take over down here."
Danny shook his head, trying to maintain his mask of perfect calm. " Nope, I'm fine. Just not used to this yet. No big deal."
Mac continued to stare at him for a moment, then turned and left. Danny turned back to the body and saw Dr. Hawkes looking up at him.
" What?" Danny said, the words coming out more defensive sounding than he had intended.
Sheldon shook his head. " Nothing." Then went back to the body. He had removed the clothes and placed them in a bag. He looked the brown mess of decayed flesh that had once been a body over, shaking his head again.
" I'd really rather deal with this back at the morgue."
Danny lifted one shoulder in a shrug. " Wait then. I don't think she's going anywhere any time soon."
Just then, the crunch of footfalls returned, and Dave emerged from the pale daylight, hurrying toward Stan.
" Um, hey boss? I – um…"
Stan rolled his eyes then turned abruptly on Dave. " What is it Anderson?"
" It's about the explosives – um… I think… there might have been more used in the blast."
Stan started back incredulously. " What? That can't be, this end of the tunnel isn't wide enough. Besides, how would you know? You weren't gone long enough to check anything."
Danny observed Dave closely. The man was clearly agitated, even afraid, and that in turn caused Danny's own nervousness to escalate. His heart that had already been thudding a little too hard suddenly picked up its pace.
Dave had begun talking in low tones, and was even directing Stan away from Danny and Hawkes, deeper into the tunnel so they could not hear. Danny tapped Sheldon on the shoulder and gestured to the two workmen when the doctor looked up.
" I don't like this," Danny said.
Dr. Hawkes shifted his position to look at the two. He then stood, setting his scalpel back into his bag. Both he and Danny slowly approached the two workers, careful not to alert them to their coming. Dave was talking about numbers, feet, and about taking detonator counts yesterday. He was talking fast, so fast even Stan could not comprehend him.
" Dave, slow down, what are you saying?"
Danny, his hands shoved in the pockets of his coveralls, stepped closer.
" Is there something going on we should no about?" he asked, sounding calmer than he felt.
Stan looked at Danny and shrugged. " I don't know. Dave thinks we may have used extra explosives or something for the recent blast. Nothing to worry about."
Dave looked from Stan to Danny, then back to Stan, sweat beading his brow. He was even more agitated now than he had been a moment ago. The way he was acting reminded Danny of suspects trying to explain something without giving too much away. Dave obviously had something urgent on his mind, but he was holding back for some stupid reason.
" We have a problem, Dave?" Danny asked. Dave opened his mouth, still looking from one to the other, but said nothing.
" Spit it out Anderson!" Stan snapped.
" I think…" he began, but before he could finish an ear-cracking sound split the air as though they were standing in the very spot where thunder was created. The four men cringed, covering their ears when the sound hit them like a wave, so strong it could be felt slamming into their bodies. The cave shuddered, the thunder continued, and a great cloud of dust raced toward them.
" Back, everyone back!" Stand shouted. They hurried deeper into the cave as bits of rock and dust rained down around them. The dust cloud drowned out the lights that were sparking and sputtering out. It filled the men's eyes, mouths, and noses until they could not speak let alone breathe.
Then, all at once, the thunder ceased. Dust continued to hang thick in the air, keeping their coughs from echoing off the wall.
" Is everyone okay!" the foreman shouted.
Danny removed his glasses to wipe his eyes. " Hey doc, you still with us?"
Sheldon coughed several times before answering. " So far."
" What happened?" Danny asked next. Instead of responding, Stan hurried back up the cave. All but two of the lights had gone out, and those were further in. Stan clicked on the light of his helmet, only to stop short when he encountered a ceiling-high pile of rubble. He slapped his hand to his head, stumbling back with his mouth gaping. Danny also looked up at the pile with a slack jaw, his heart feeling as though it had nose-dived into his stomach.
" Oh no," Dave whimpered.
Still staring at the newly formed wall, Stan raised his hands. " Now just relax everyone. This is no big deal. This kind of crap isn't unusual, it'll just take a little time for them to dig us out."
Stan removed his radio from his belt and began talking into it. The radio crackled, but a voice responded from the other end.
" We've got four men alive down here," Stan said. " How is it on the other side?"
There was static, and a voice responded though it could not be understood. But it did not matter. Danny heard it all as something distant and unreal. Everything around him seemed suddenly unreal, like what was seen and heard in a dream. Too much like a dream, in fact. After the last case with the man in the tunnel, Danny had spent several nights waking up from the same nightmare of being alone in the tunnel, with no daylight and no way out. The only difference with reality was that he was not alone. Everything else was the same, and suddenly the air became thick and difficult to breathe, the darkness in front of him solid enough to touch...
" Danny. Danny!" he heard a voice hiss from next to him. He snapped his head around, wincing against the light of Dr. Hawkes' helmet. " You all right?"
A part of Danny's mind managed to scramble back into reality. He quickly shoved his trembling hands into his pocket and nodded once.
" Yeah, fine. Just fine."