Title: Into The Fire
Spoilers: None. Takes place sometime in season 4
Summary: A child is trapped in a burning house. Who will save her?
Disclaimer: I don't own Early Edition, I just want to play with the characters for a bit. I promise to but them back where I found them. Early Edition, its characters and whatever else is owned by Tri-star and CBS. No copyright infringement is intended and no money is, was or ever will be made off of this.
The dark gray smoke was the first indication that this wasn't a good idea. The second had to be the orange and yellow flames that danced violently before him as they charred everything in their path. The third had to be the heat, he actually felt like he was baking. Despite all that he pressed on, with a thin shirt sleeve covering his nose and mouth.
Adrenaline coursed through his veins. All he could hear was the crackling of the fire, but he knew there was something more. He stopped and listened. Tears streamed down his face as the smoke irritated his eyes. He hoped that it wouldn't do any permanent damage to them, his entire career, after all, was based on his ability to see.
He pushed that thought far from his mind and staggered onward.
"Hey!" he yelled. "Where are you?"
He heard no response, just the sizzle of the fire and a small explosion in the distance, probably in another room.
"Hey…" he wheezed between coughs. The smoke was finally getting to him.
A few minutes before…
He was on his way back to the office, driving a couple miles over the speed limit down a residential road to avoid the stoplights. It was now dark, but he spent his day in the hazy sun covering an art festival for the Sun-Times. All he had left to do was develop the film, pick the ones he wanted, and leave them in his editor's box. That would take no more than an hour.
He was almost there when something caught his eye as he waited at a stop sign, thick gray smoke coming from a house further up the block. Being the newsman he was, he pulled over in front of the house and started to snap pictures. After all, he was a photojournalist and this was a story.
Swinging the camera to the attic portion of the house, he thought he saw something moving in a second floor window. He snapped a couple more pictures from a different angle. A little voice in his head kept telling him there was something there. He quickly switched to a different lens, one with a stronger magnification and took another look. There was someone still in the house, a small figure, most likely a child.
He pulled his cell phone from his pocket and tried to call for help. The cheap phone produced a "no signal" message and he angrily tossed to the ground. It had been doing that all day. The phone shattered into pieces, failing its owner for the last time.
He tossed his camera into his car, via the open driver's side window, and then rushed into the house.
Leaning on a wall, he stopped a moment to catch his breath and take in his surroundings. It would have been easier if his eyes would stop tearing. Everything was a bit too blurry. He was able to make out some objects, a banister connected to a staircase, which led upward. The stairs weren't on fire and there wasn't too much smoke on the landing where he stood. After taking a few deep breaths, he rushed up the remaining steps. The smoke was much thicker up here. He fell to his knees and crawled through the hallway.
"Hey! I know you're up here. I'm here to help you!"
"There's nobody here!" A voice cried from the room just past. He backtracked a bit and saw two small hands peaking out from under a bed.
"I can see you…" He laid on the floor and peered under the bed. The small figure retracted further away from him.
"I'm not suppose to talk to strangers…"
"I'm Miguel," he said trying to coax her out from under the bed. "What's your name?"
"Sara," she said hesitantly.
"We're not strangers now."
"Where's your mom and dad? Is there anyone else here?"
"They went out. I'm by myself. They thought I was sleeping…"
"You're here by yourself?"
"Do you know how the fire started?"
She shook her head. "There was this weird noise and this funny buzzing sound. I thought it was a monster so I hid under Mommy and Daddy's bed."
"Come on, it's not safe here," he said extending his hand to her, "lets go and find your mom and dad."
Sara crawled to him and latched her arms around his neck.
Miguel cradled the girl in his arms and made his way for the staircase. He was about to run down them but they suddenly collapsed.
"Damn! Is there any other way out of here?"
The girl shook her head no.
Miguel ran down the hall and found another staircase.
"Where does this lead?"
There was nothing but boxes in the attic. On the farthest wall there was a small window. Miguel pushed the little girl through the window and forced himself through it. Now that they were outside, he had to plan their next move.
Grabbing Sara he peered over the roof's edge to see who was calling him.
"Hobson, I don't know what you're doing here but I'm glad you're here. Get help!"
"The fire department is on their way."
"Yeah, but not fast enough."
Miguel cradled the child in his arms as he sat on the roof. He felt the roof shift slightly beneath him. The fire had already reached the attic.
"Hobson, do you think you can catch the kid if I drop her to you?"
"No! Don't drop me!" she screamed in terror. Latching her arms around Miguel's neck, she hugged tightly, cutting his air off.
Sara loosened her grip a bit. "I wanna stay with you."
"It's okay. That's my friend Gary. He's a good guy and won't let anything happen to you."
"Are you sure?"
"Hobson, ready?" Miguel slowly made his way to the edge of the sloped roof. He looked down to find Gary standing by the house reading a newspaper. "Hobson, now is not a good time to read the paper!"
Gary ignored Miguel's angry glare and quickly stuffed the paper into his back pocket. "Hurry up, Diaz, the roof is going to collapse."
I wonder how he knows that, Miguel thought to himself. A shrill cry from Sara snapped his attention forward. He held the five year old over the roof's edge. After a quick prayer he closed his eyes and let her go, hoping that Gary would catch her.
Miguel looked down. Sara had landed safely in Gary's arms. "Nice catch."
The two on the ground looked up at Miguel who still laid on the roof's edge.
"Diaz! Get off the roof…" Gary called from the ground.
"That's easy for him to say, he's on the ground", Miguel griped to himself.
He stood up and weighed his options. Jumping was the first one to come to mind, but the ground looked a bit too far and he doubted that Gary would catch him. He would probably survive with a couple of broken bones, but that was a little drastic. He could try and jump across the gap between the houses, but that was a far leap. The only one he could think of was to go back through the house, but Gary said something about the roof collapsing and he did have this knack for being right.
"Any ideas Hobson?" Miguel called from the roof.
Miguel looked back towards the ground, but Gary was gone.
"Hobson! Hobson! Where did you go...?"
He scanned the immediate area and saw Gary running towards him with something round and bulky in his arms.
"Miguel! Where are you? I just had to get something." Gary called out.
"I'm still here, Hobson."
"JUMP?" Miguel looked down from the roof. Gary was standing next to a kiddie pool filled with stuff.
"There's no time! Just jump!"
Miguel hesitated. He just couldn't bring himself to jump. The roof beneath his feet began to creak and it shifted slightly. Miguel could feel the heat through the roof and see smoke rise from it. He began to panic.
"Just jump already will ya!" Gary called from the ground. "It's filled with bubble wrap and packing peanuts! Just jump!"
Miguel slid his body off the roof and clutched the lip with his hands. Even with his life in danger he still couldn't let go of the roof. He could feel the heat strongly from the fire from where he dangled.
"What are you doing? Come on!"
Miguel felt his grip slip from the shingles and as he fell downward, his mind whirled. He half expected his life to flash before him. But it didn't.
"Stop being so melodramatic," he scolded himself "it's only three stories."
Miguel landed in the kiddie pool, sending hundreds of packing peanuts into the air.
Gary quickly helped him up and led him away from the house. The roof collapsed on itself and shortly afterward, three fire engines pulled up to the house.
Sara's parent's showed up an hour later to find their house on fire. At first they seemed more concerned that the house was burning rather than what had happened to their daughter. It was only after Miguel told them that their daughter was okay and that the paramedics took her to the hospital for a check up, did they remember. Enraged Miguel tried to take a swing at Sara's father but was quickly restrained by Gary.
The firefighters worked for two hours to put the fire out, but in the end the house was reduced to nothing more than smoldering ash and rubble.
He was going to take more photos, but he saw Gary trying to sneak away.
"Yeah Diaz?" Gary slowed his pace to a stroll.
"Let me guess you have to rush off and be somewhere else…" he said, as he matched Gary's stride.
"Actually, I was going to go home. I had a really long day."
"So... Hobson, how did you know I was in trouble? Telepathy? Got my car on Lo-Jack?"
"Speaking of Lo-Jack, did you know that a TV star had has his daughters stuffed animal Lo-jacked?"
"You're changing the subject"
"Have you and Laura set a wedding date? I still get to be best man right?"
"We're talking about you. Not my personal life…"
Miguel sighed. He wasn't going to get anything out of Hobson today. It was clear to both of them that he was hiding something, but Gary was being tight lipped as usual. Resigning for now, he headed for his car. "Can I give you a lift anywhere, Hobson?"
"No thanks, Diaz."
Miguel started the engine and shifted into drive. "Oh, and um, Hobson... thanks... for you know..."
"I'll find out one day how you know."
"But not today?"
"Yup." Gary smiled, and then walked away, leaving Miguel to ponder the mystery that is Gary Hobson.