Call At A Church

By The Flaming Dragonfly

Disclaimer: I own nothing connected with Emergency!

A different kind of story for me. I tried to keep this as true to the series as possible while exploring some aspects of Johnny that were never really covered during the show.

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As the squad rushed to the scene of the latest call, Johnny tried to remember if they had ever been called to a church. It seemed that he could recall once, maybe a year or so ago, when an older man had developed chest pains during a service. He couldn't remember the outcome, however.

He turned to Roy. "Roy, do you remember a call to a church about a year ago? A man with chest pains?"

Roy glanced over at his partner. "No. Why?"

Johnny shrugged. "Just wondering. I can't remember how it turned out."

"Well, let's just hope that this call turns out okay."

"Yeah." Johnny scanned the buildings. "Should be right up here."

Sure enough, a modest, brick church with an overly large steeple appeared in the middle of a patchy lawn. Since it was a Monday morning, the parking lot was empty except for two cars. Roy parked the squad next to them and joined John in fetching the needed gear.

The call had indicated a possible drug overdose, and the men had all looked perplexed when the address was given as First Baptist Church. The paramedics knew that they'd be busy explaining a drug overdose at a church when they got back to the station.

Roy, carrying the biophone, led the way to the door that was situated closest to the parked car. Johnny knocked.

The door opened almost immediately, and an older woman ushered them inside. "Thank goodness you're here!" she exclaimed. "The pastor wanted me to take you to him." She turned and led the way down a long hall that housed rooms on both sides before stopping before a closed door.

"Wait here," the woman instructed. "I'll get the pastor." She slipped through the door.

A moment later the door once again opened, and the woman emerged followed by a middle-aged, dark-haired man. He held out his hand. "Hello, I'm Angelo Aducci. I'm glad you got here so quickly."

First Roy and then John shook the hand of the man. "What's the problem?" Roy asked.

Aducci pressed his lips together. "It's a young woman. I've been counseling her. She's…had some difficulties. I don't believe she'd hurt herself, but I thought…" The pastor's voice trailed off, as though not wanting to admit that he might be wrong. "I think she took something. Drugs. She's very agitated."

"Where is she now?" Roy questioned.

Aducci turned and nodded toward the door he had just come through. "She's in the sanctuary. That's why I wanted you to meet me out here, so we don't scare her. She's sitting toward the rear of the room. I'll go in first and talk to her…let her know that you're here."

The older man pushed the door, and before it swung shut the paramedics got a glimpse of rows of empty pews and stained glass windows.

Johnny glanced at Roy. "Wonder what she took?"

"No telling. I just hope we're in time."

They waited, and just when John was about to push his way through the door it opened and Aducci gestured for them to come in.

They walked quickly down the middle aisle, toward the back doors. Aducci stopped at the last pew and stepped aside.

A girl in her late teens huddled against the wall, her hands and legs visibly trembling. At the sight of the paramedics, she jumped to her feet.

"Stay away from me!" she shrieked. "Stay away!"

Aducci placed his hands on the back of the pew and leaned toward her. "Laura, these men are here to help you. We all want to help you."

The pastor's words seemed to have a calming effect on the girl, for she sank back into the pew. Johnny cautiously sat on the pew and slid toward her.

"Laura? I'm Johnny and this is my partner, Roy. We're paramedics and we just want to help you."

Laura eyed him warily. "Who called you?" she demanded.

Aducci spoke up. "I did, Laura. I want to help you, so I called in someone who can take care of you."

"Laura," Johnny said, "what did you take?"

The girl shrank into the wall. "What do you want? I don't know you."

"I'm a paramedic," Johnny repeated calmly. "I want to help you, but I need to know what you took. Can you tell me?"

Laura glanced up at Aducci. "Nothing…I…I didn't take anything. I don't do stuff like that."

John pressed on as Roy unobtrusively set up the biophone. "Did you take pills, Laura? Speed?"

"I told you," Laura said, tears beginning to slip from her eyes, "I don't do stuff like that."

"How many did you take?" Johnny asked, his voice just above a whisper.

The girl wiped her cheeks, once again looking up at Aducci. "I just wanted somebody to pay attention," she said. "They didn't have to do that to me. And when I tried to get them to listen, they just ignored me. I just wanted them to see."

John had managed to move close enough to reach the girl. "Laura, I'm going to take your pulse, okay?" He gingerly took her wrist, then managed to monitor both his watch and the girl for any negative reaction.

"I've got Rampart on the line," Roy said quietly.

John nodded. "Pulse 140. Laura, I'm going to take your blood pressure now, okay?"

"I just wanted them to see," the girl said again. She drew her arm away. "Don't touch me!"

Johnny immediately withdrew. "Laura, it's okay. We're here to help you."

Laura stood up. "Don't you understand?" she cried, thrusting her hand into her pocket. "No one is listening to me!" she screamed, pulling an object from her pocket.

"She's got a gun!" John shouted.

Everyone stared at the gun in Laura's hand. Aducci stumbled back, falling into the pew. Roy started to get to his feet, then ducked, his hand reaching for the handi-talkie. Johnny flung himself to one side, nearly lost his balance, then reached up and grabbed Laura's wrist. The girl wrenched back, almost pulling away from John, but the paramedic's superior strength and weight brought her down into the pew. Together they wrestled for the gun, both driven by desperation.

The inevitable retort of the gun shattered more than a stained-glass window; it also destroyed the stunned silence of the participants. Johnny shouted at Laura, Roy barked into the handi-talkie, and Angelo Aducci, still huddled on the pew, called on God. Roy dropped the handi-talkie and leaped into the fray, but just as he tried to reach the gun, it once again discharged.

Aducci's quavering voice broke into a cry. Roy shrank into himself, flinching as the gun retorted once more. And Johnny sank to the floor, his eyes wide and stunned, his blue shirt suddenly plastered with his own blood.

Absolute shock. He saw the ceiling swirling madly, pulsing in time to the pain that he felt somewhere…someplace on his body. Strange sounds found him, whimpers really, and for a moment he actually thought that they were coming from his own throat. But that couldn't be. It didn't make sense. None of it did.

A sudden retort startled him. Another gunshot? He couldn't be sure. He wasn't sure of anything.

He floated, set back down, lifted again. He closed his eyes. Come with me…come with me.

Walking…floating.

Johnny!

Wings. Whirring, whistling. I hear you.

Johnny!

Where are you? I don't see you…I don't see anything…

Coldness, wet and biting, slithered through him. Coldness and darkness. He blinked, harder and harder, but nothing would materialize before him. Nothing but an emptiness that voided everything that he thought he understood.

The darkness descended, heavy and cold, suffocating him. He struggled somewhere, but his attempts were futile. Slowly, with absolute certainty, he watched death approach.

No! I don't want to go!

Grasping, clawing, fighting to escape the smothering specter. Away from it. But it kept him, refusing to free him from the darkness. He flailed, cried, but still it held him.

And then a voice came.

God is with you.

Please help me! It's got me! I don't want to go!

I know. God is with you.

It's trying to take me! I'm scared!

I know. God is with you, son.

I don't want to die.

It's all right. Just know that God is with you.

Somehow the darkness lightened. Colors swirled, danced, then took shape. A figure holding a lamb…cradling the small animal…protecting it. He stared at the picture. Arms cradling the lamb. Protecting it. Carrying it. The picture moved into him, merging with long forgotten memories. Warmth…love…peace. God is with me.