It was now March 2019, four months after the horrific events with Pacific Walk-in Clinic occurred. The winter had been mild, not much snow had fallen. Ashley had received a response from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia. It was a general response, acknowledging that the letter had been received and her complaint would be looked into. She would hear back once the investigation was completed. However, even though it was four months later, Ashley couldn't forget about what happened – she was still apprehensive of seeing any physician that she didn't already know, she was afraid they would be like Peter. She felt this way, even though she tried to let it go. She was even having nightmares about Peter. This was something she wouldn't tell anyone. In fact, she had just woken up from another nightmare about Peter.
Ashley looked at the time. It was 6:30 a.m.
"Are you ok? I heard you talking in your sleep. You rarely talk in your sleep." Wendy was sitting up in her bed, reading. She had been awake since 3:00 a.m.
Ashley looked at Wendy. "Did I wake you up?"
Wendy shook her head. "No. I couldn't sleep."
"I'm glad I didn't wake you up. What was I saying?" Ashley hoped that whatever she was saying wasn't too bad.
"You were saying 'Go away Peter' and 'he won't find me here.'"
Ashley sighed. It was time to tell Wendy about the nightmares.
"Do you remember Peter Zylbergold, the doctor that was rude to me?"
"I have been having nightmares about him since the incident. I also don't feel comfortable seeing any physicians that I don't know – I'm afraid that, if I see a physician that I don't know, he or she will be like Peter." Ashley was emotionally exhausted. She normally didn't feel emotionally exhausted after nightmares but the nightmares about Peter always had her waking up, feeling this way. She told Wendy this too. Wendy, who did not know that Ashley was still affected by what happened in November, looked at her with concern. "Did you tell anyone else about this?"
Ashley shook her head. "No. I don't want anyone thinking that I am unable to let this go. I'm trying to but my conscience won't."
"Maybe you should talk to someone. Talk to Matt."
Ashley shook her head. "I would rather not. Besides, telling you might help. It might stop the nightmares."
Wendy smiled. "I hope so. What are the nightmares about?"
"Believe it or not, nothing medical. I usually dream that he's chasing me through some random place. Last night it was the woods. I had hidden behind a tree when I woke up. I will wake up either while running from him or after finding a place to hide."
Wendy nodded. "Even though the dreams aren't medical, they sound intense. I hope talking to me puts a stop to them."
"So do I. However, if having a medical dream not involving him – like the medical dreams I used to have – made me forget about him, I would accept that. I have been uneasy about medical things for years but I would rather dream something medical than dream about him."
Wendy knew how Ashley felt. She felt uneasy about swimming after a traumatic experience she had 20 years ago. Wendy would always wake up feeling like she was choking on water whenever she had a nightmare about swimming.
Meanwhile, Ashley would wake up feeling like whatever medical thing happened in her dream – such as getting a needle – happened in real life. It would usually take the entire day for the feeling to go away. Only Wendy knew about this. Ashley was also the only person who knew about Wendy's dreams.
"I don't feel like talking about Peter anymore. I think I'll get up and have breakfast."
Wendy looked at the time. It was 7:30 a.m. "I'll join you. I have to shop for my dad's birthday gift anyway. His birthday is on the 22nd." Wendy's father, Warren Waters, who was both the director and chief dispatcher of the Rescue Heroes, would be 59 then. He worked at the Space Command Center, aka "The Hexagon". Wendy planned to visit him on his birthday.
After having breakfast, Ashley went into the main room of the Mountain Action Command Center. She saw Rocky on his laptop. "Hey Rocky, what are you doing?"
Rocky looked up. "I'm on iSketch."
Ashley smiled. She introduced Rocky to iSketch; it was an online version of Pictionary that had various rooms, such as English Easy UK and Animals (Easy). It was a lot of fun to play.
"I think I'll get my laptop and join you. What room are you in?"
"English Easy UK."
"Ok. I'll be back in a few minutes." Ashley went to retrieve her laptop.
A few minutes later, she was back. She turned on her laptop and logged into English Easy UK. Eight other users were in the room. One user drew, then another. Both Ashley and Rocky correctly guessed what the drawings were: a caterpillar and a fountain. It was now Rocky's turn. Rocky had to draw a veterinarian. Ashley was the first person to correctly guess the word. Most of the users were either misspelling the word or guessing "doctor" and "physician". They could not see how Ashley spelt it; correct guesses were never shown – the only way anyone would know that a user correctly guessed the word was when it was announced that the word had been found and the round would end in 20 seconds. Each user that got the word right would receive a certain number of points; the usernames that got the word right would also be highlighted in red until the end of the round. After 10 rounds, the game would end. The user with the most points would be declared the winner.
It was now Ashley's turn. Her word was astronaut. Even though Ashley isn't a very good artist, she would usually win because, not only could she correctly spell words that others couldn't – such as xylophone – she could also type fast.
Rocky, along with four other users, correctly guessed Ashley's word – because she drew a moon behind a poorly drawn astronaut.
After her turn was over, Rocky spoke. "I just noticed something. You haven't gotten any medical or human body words in a long time."
Ashley nodded. She used to get words such as syringe and intestine frequently, even though she would be in English Easy UK. "I noticed that too. The last time I got a medical or human body word was before Halloween. Before I saw Peter for the first time."
"Did you tell anyone else what happened?" Rocky doubted that Ashley told anyone else; however, it was strange that Ashley had not received any medical or human body words since October, especially since those word were common for users to get, and both Rocky and Ashley frequently played iSketch. He thought maybe she told someone on iSketch.
"No. I'm glad I haven't had to draw anything like a syringe or intestine. I find drawing words like that gross."
"Do you think it's because someone on iSketch saw your review?" Rocky was teasing her and she knew it.
Ashley laughed. "No. I doubt anyone on iSketch saw my review – either the first or second review. Nobody from BC is on here, except for us." Ashley knew this since it stated, in each user's profile, where they were from.
"Well TheBlackCat, I'm glad that you're happy that you don't have to draw words like syringe or intestine. Who knows? Maybe someone on here did find out what happened and are afraid of what you might draw if you get a medical or human body word. Maybe they know your real name." Rocky was teasing her again and she knew it.
Ashley laughed. She decided to call Rocky by his username too. "Very funny, Climber. I wouldn't draw anything bad. But if it is somehow tied to what happened, I'm glad. There's a silver lining in every cloud. This must be the silver lining for seeing Peter. Who knows? Maybe someone is afraid that I would draw something bad."
Rocky grinned. "I know. I'm just kidding. But you never know. Everything happens for a reason."
Shortly after, Ashley and Rocky logged off. They were going to go down to the training facility when the big monitor on the other side of the room suddenly announced that there was an incoming communication. Rocky and Ashley walked over to the monitor. Billy entered the room and stood next to them. Warren Waters appeared on the screen. Like Wendy, he also had red hair. He had a red moustache too.
"Billy, a fire broke out at the local Loblaws. Local firefighters are there but they need help."
"Thanks Warren. We're on it."
After Warren signed off Billy turned to Rocky and Ashley. "Let's go. I'll let Wendy, Jake, and Jack know. The more people, the better."
"Let us know what?" Wendy entered the room. She was followed by Jack.
"A fire broke out at Loblaws. Local firefighters are there but they need help," replied Billy.
"I'll let Jake know. He's in the basement, cleaning his motorcycle." Wendy paged Jake and informed him about the fire. After speaking to him, she turned to the others. "He said he'll follow us in his police car."
Billy nodded. "Great. Let's go!"
When they arrived at Loblaws, they got out of the firetruck. Jake got out of his police car.
Billy approached Thomas, the head of the local firefighters. Thomas, a man in his mid-forties, was trying to put out the fire that was on the exterior of the building. Billy noticed that many of the windows in the building were broken. The fire had reached the outside of the building. "What's the situation?"
Thomas turned to Billy. "Explosions were heard. The manager called. Most of the people are out of the building but some are still inside. I sent in a few firefighters but the fire is hindering efforts to reach anyone inside. There's not enough manpower."
"It's a good thing we were called. With our help, the fire should be put out and everyone should be saved in no time." Billy then turned to his team. "Ashley, Wendy, and Rocky, go into the store. Help put out the fire and try to reach the people inside. Jack, Jake, and I will assist putting out the fire out here."
"Ok. Let's go!" replied Wendy. She, along with Ashley and Rocky, headed inside.
When they got inside, Wendy turned to her teammates. "Let's split up. Ashley, check the clinic and see if anyone's inside. Rocky, head to the right of the building. If you find anyone, bring them out." Wendy paused and looked upstairs. She heard people crying for help. "I'll go upstairs. I'll put out the fire on the way."
Ashley nodded. "We'll do the same as we go to our assigned areas."
They then split up.
Ashley headed toward the clinic. On her way there, while putting out the fire, she noticed that most of the overhead lights were broken. It must have been caused by an electrical malfunction, she thought. Ashley reached the clinic. After putting out the fire outside the clinic's entrance, she went inside. She decided to check the whole clinic, since someone might still be inside.
Ashley was near the end of the hall at the back of the clinic. So far, no one was inside. She then reached the break room. She saw a fire blocking its entrance. Fire was also coming from the microwave. After putting out the fire that was blocking the entrance, she saw that the fire coming from the microwave had spread across the room. She also saw the last person she wanted to see – Peter Zylbergold. He was standing in the far right corner, coughing.
You have got to be kidding me, Ashley thought as she quickly put out the rest of the fire. When the fire was put out, she approached Peter.
"What are you doing here? Are you going to save me?" asked Peter.
"I'm a Rescue Hero. It's what I do." Ashley grabbed Peter's hand. "Come on. Let's get out of here." Since the clinic didn't have an emergency exit, Ashley had no choice but to go back through the same way that she came – through the store. The fire was now put out. She saw two firefighters, in front of her, also leave the building as she and Peter left.
Two minutes later, Ashley and Peter were out of the building. Ashley led him over to the paramedics. He needed to be treated for smoke inhalation. Afterwards she headed over to Billy. He had just finished putting out the fire. Wendy and Rocky were also there.
"Did you find anyone?" asked Billy.
"Yes. I found Peter, actually. He was the only one inside the clinic."
Rocky looked at Ashley. "I guess you weren't happy to see him."
"I wasn't. However, even though I don't like him because of what he did I still saved him. It's what Rescue Heroes do."
Billy nodded. "You're right. It's what we do."
"Did the firefighters say what caused the fire? I think it was an electrical malfunction." Ashley told Billy about the overhead lights.
Billy nodded. "The firefighters think so too. They noticed faulty electrical outlets, along with some frayed wires inside."
"The microwave inside the clinic had also exploded. The only fire inside the clinic was inside the break room. I think that fire was caused by the microwave."
"How could a microwave explode?" asked Rocky.
"Probably because something that shouldn't be in there was. I'm going to ask Peter." Billy walked over to the ambulance. Peter, who had just finished breathing into an oxygen mask, looked up. He recognized Billy right away.
"Hello Peter. It's been a while."
Peter turned red. He recalled when Billy babysat him. He also knew that Billy was a Rescue Hero. He had a feeling that not only did Ashley tell Billy about the fire, she also told Billy about the last time she saw him. Peter didn't say hello. He remained silent.
Billy spoke again. "I heard that a microwave exploded. Do you know why?"
Peter hung his head. He felt embarrassed. He had not been paying attention when he put his Chinese noodles inside the microwave. "I had opened a container of leftover Chinese noodles and was putting it in the microwave when my cellphone rang. I laid it down answered the phone. My hand had knocked a magnet off the fridge into the container. I then put the container in the microwave. By the time I realized what happened, it was too late."
Billy was not pleased. He hated when people were careless. "You should have been more careful. You're lucky that you only had minor smoke inhalation. Things could have been much worse."
Peter looked at Billy. "I know. I'll be careful from now on. Now, if you don't have anything else to say, I'll go." Before Billy could say anything else, Peter was gone.
"I spoke to Peter. He told me what happened." Billy told the other Rescue Heroes about his conversation.
After Billy finished, Ashley spoke. "He passed me on the way to his car. He saw me but didn't say anything. He didn't look sorry for his actions in November or what happened today."
"Did he apologize inside?" asked Rocky.
Ashley shook her head.
"It seems he hasn't changed. However, I'm proud of you Ashley," said Billy.
Ashley was surprised. "Why?"
"Because you rescued him. It may be our job, however, rescuing somebody you have difficulty getting along with isn't easy. Believe it or not, that takes courage. You were the bigger person."
Ashley smiled. "I felt some anxiety when I found him but I didn't let it get to me. Peter will never know that's how I felt. He was surprised to see me; he asked why I would save him. I said it's because I am a Rescue Hero. It's what we do."
Billy nodded. He then looked at his watch. It was almost noon.
"I think we should all go out for lunch. We deserve it."
His teammates agreed.
"How about we go for pizza? Straight Outta Brooklyn NYC Pizzeria has the best pizza in Vancouver," said Rocky.
Everyone agreed that pizza was a good idea. Before they left Ashley made a private wish that she would not say out loud: I wish that I would never have another nightmare or dream about Peter ever again.
Somehow, she knew that her wish would come true.