'Johnny in the Lion's Den' - by Emma Peelfan

"Cap, we gotta get her out."

Me and my big mouth. I should have known that since I was the one to say it, I'd have to be the one to climb down there to get her. I mean, how stupid can one person be? Those stupid fences are there for a reason. She wants a good picture of a lion; she shoulda bought herself a copy of 'National Geographic!'

Cap starts yelling orders as I go for the equipment in the squad.

"Johnny, get the bio-phone," Roy calls to me as I leap back over the fence.

Did he honestly think I'd forget it? I grab the bio-phone, drug box and a rope and hop back over the fence. Okay...rope tied securely? Yank it a few times...yep...good. Okay, here goes nothing!

The girl's pretty...at least she would be if not for the contusions and abrasions on her face. Stupid! Okay, leg doesn't look broken, so let's get 'er straightened out. Gotta stop that bleeding though.

"I'm gonna need a Curlix and a pad!" I yell up to Roy.

He takes the requisite materials from the drug box and tosses them down. My eyes track their path to the ground and I am suddenly reminded of where I am.

OH SHIT!

That lion didn't like something else being thrown into its cage. You know, that roaring is never nearly so scary when you're on the other side of the fence.

The girl is moaning now. I don't know if that will antagonize that lion any more, but I ain't takin' any chances. I put my hand over her mouth.

"Stoker, if he starts to charge, hit 'im with a stream," Cap's voice filters down from above. I hope a stream is enough. That is one big-ass cat!

I know Roy must be scared to death right now. I'd really like to look up and see those blue eyes about now. Sometimes, there's nothing more comforting than eye contact with my partner, you know? But at this precise second, there's no way I'm turnin' my back on that animal. I have no desire to become lunch.

Finally, that big son-of-a-bitch calms down but I'm not ready to look away; I'm keeping one eye on the beast.

"Alright, bring down the stokes," I say in a low voice - I am NOT gonna upset that cat any more than I have to. Then, I finally get to wrapping her leg. Still, I ain't gonna look away from that cat. I feel kinda bad not being able to devote my full attention to her, but my full attention won't help when we're being eaten alive.

The guys lower the stokes slower and gentler than I've ever seen. I guess they don't want to antagonize him either. God, I love those guys sometimes!

I carefully move the stokes into position and do my best to unhook the ropes without looking at them. Can't stop watching that cat for nothin'! I gently lift the girl into the basket and start to do up the straps. I hear myself murmuring things to her. Damned if I know what I'm saying, probably something comforting. All those stupid platitudes are second nature - probably a good thing right about now.

I re-hook the ropes (also without looking!) and listen to the roaring. He hasn't stopped recently and it's really making me nervous now. Once all the lines are hooked up, I motion to the guys to start pulling her up. I am NOT gonna make any more noise than necessary. My life ain't worth it!

They pull the stokes up and I stay down to make sure the rope doesn't get tangled in my climbing rope. For a brief moment I almost forget where I am. When old Leo makes himself known again.

OH SHIT! He's heading straight for me! Up the rope - faster than I think I've ever climbed anything. SAFE!

Once up top, I become a complete professional, relaying vital signs to Rampart as though this were an everyday occurrence. Of course, now that I don't have to worry about gettin' any appendages bitten off, I can act normal.

The ambulance has arrived now. I help Roy put the stokes on the stretcher and then hop over the fence.

"I didn't know you could climb a rope that fast," he says to me as he hands me the drug box and bio-phone. The relief in his eyes is evident.

"Neither did I," I respond with a grin, thankful that I COULD climb the rope that fast.

Man, this was one for the books! I know one thing's for sure. I ain't gonna pick up an issue of National Geographic anytime soon.

End.