Twilight and Shadow



Chapter Five: Thief of Always

In just four hours time many things had changed for the Partridge Family. Shirley; the family patriarch had been found exactly as she had been left in the bus, staring straight ahead. She had been taken to the San Peublo Memorial Hospital where she had been looked over for an ER physician. The doctor deemed that she was physically alright but she was still in shock, so he used some rather strong smelling salts. At first Shirley had no response to the smelling salts but after 30 seconds she returned to the land of the living. Then came the confusion. Confusion at finding herself at the hospital.

The attending physician explained to Shirley how she had gotten there and then had let her see her children who were gathered in Keith's room which was located in the ICU. While he was conscious, he was far from out of danger. With the length of time that he had gone without treatment, the venom could have done some serious damage, so he was being watched like a hawk.

Outside, the storm had started and had been going ever since Shirley had been brought in. The fire department had been close to calling off the search for Chris's body but after some coaxing by the hospital they continued on. Losing a child as young as Chris was was always hard for any family and if there was any way they could find let alone rescue the boy then they would do it.

Arriving at the co ordinates that had been relayed to the nurse, the fire fighters climbed off of their rig, dressed in turnout coats and helmets.

"Up there." the station captain instructed, pointing to the hill. Since the rain had been falling it had washed away any and all evidence of the bus ever being there so there really was no way to tell if this was the exact spot, and with the water rising...especially in the abandoned well, Chris was running out of time.

The Captain, his two firemen/paramedics and the two regular firefighters of the day shift climbed the hill while the station's engineer stayed with the rig. The hill was steep and slippery but somehow the firefighters managed to make it up without slipping, and once up they went ahead in pairs of twos. The hole...given if they were in the right place...could be anywhere, so splitting up would be faster.

The Captain stayed where he was, directing the two firefighters to go to the left and his paramedics to go straight ahead. The orders given, the Captain put his hands on his hips and watched his men move out.

It wasn't long before a call came over his handi – talky. A hole and been found; complete with old, broken boards, and there did appear to be a child down in the hole. That was enough of a confirmation for the Captain because he ordered Marcos and Stanley to go grab a length of rope from the rig and meet the paramedics, Denton and Cassidy at their location.

Walking forward, Captain Sheppard made his way through a set of small trees, spotting Denton and Cassidy kneeling next to...or at least as close to a hole as they dared. Both men were shining flashlights down in to the hole and shouting something that sounded like 'you'll be alright' in to the hole.

"What have you got?" Captain Sheppard asked once he was close enough to be heard over the rain. Brown hair and brown eyed Matthew Denton looked up at his boss with eyes that spoke volumes to the older man.

"We've got an eight year old victim trapped in a hole that's about fifteen to thirty feet deep. Judging by the way he looks he's been there for awhile. From what we can tell he's got a thick chunk of wood embedded in his left arm just above the elbow as well as numerous cuts and abrasions...but that's what we can see that's above the water. Who knows what other injuries he's got, Cap." Matthew reported.

Captain Sheppard leaned over and looked down the hole, getting his first glimpse of young Chris, who was just sitting there shivering. He looked like a drowned rat, that was for sure but more than that he looked tired and scared.

"How do you want to do this Cassidy?" Captain Sheppard asked the senior paramedic on his team. Brown hair and hazel eyed Joshua Cassidy looked up at his boss. He knew that Captain Sheppard meant the rescue of young Chris. They had found the boy but that was only half of the battle. Now they had to get him out of there without aggravating his injury. There was no time to dig another well, so that was out of the question. What else could they do?

"Since I'm the lightest, lower me down there and send a stokes stretcher, equipment and blanket down after me. It's the only way Cap. In another hour that water is going to be above the kid's head." Joshua said.

From behind Captain Sheppard, firefighter's Marcos and Stanley appeared, both carrying a good length of rope.

Nodding his head in agreement to Cassidy's suggestion, Captain Sheppard ordered Marcos and Stanley to bring the requested items; stokes stretcher, the drug box and an emergency blanket. Within seven minutes Joshua was strapped up so he could repel / be lowered in to the hole and not a minute later Marcos and Stanley returned with everything inside the stokes stretcher.

Taking his place at the side of the hole, Joshua made sure everyone was ready on his rope before lowering himself over the edge; plunging in to the wet darkness of the hole. Rain kept hitting his helmet, which was just getting a little annoying but he couldn't take it off, no matter how much he wanted to.

After what seemed like months Joshua was close enough to reach out and touch Chris, so he called up, "Alright I'm there. I'm going off rope."

Undoing the rope that was around the belt, Joshua dropped the short distance in to the cold murky liquid, landing right beside Chris.

Kneeling down, Joshua took in Chris's countenance. "Hey buddy, how are we doing?" he asked the boy.

Chris studying the firefighter for a moment, wondering if this was a dream or not, but when Joshua didn't fade from view, Chris knew that it was real. He was finally getting out!

"M'cold and I want to go home." he said through chattering teeth. While the rain itself wasn't all that cold, whatever they were standing...or in Chris's case...sitting in was rather cold and the boy had been there for several hours already!

"Well we'll see what we can do for you. Now, let me see this arm of yours." Joshua said, gently taking Chris's arm in one hand and shining a beam from his flashlight on it with his other hand. The chunk of wood that was embedded in the skin was thick, like something you'd find at a playground, but from the look of it it hadn't caused any major damage...yet.

Glancing up, Joshua yelled, "Send the stokes down!" Looking back down at Chris he could tell that the boy was scared. What the hell was a stokes and why was it coming down?

"Hey little man it's going to be alright. Here..." Joshua said as he removed his helmet and put it over Chris's head, "You can be my assistant. How's that sound? Now, I got down here alright but I am going to need a bit of help getting back up the hole, do you think you can help me?" Joshua asked. He just wanted Chris to relax and keep talking, and from the small smile Joshua got in reply to his request, he knew that Chris was finally least as much as possible.

"Now, how about you tell me your name kiddo?" Joshua asked. As he waited for Chris's response, he gently took Chris's left arm and cradled it gently. He couldn't just yank the wood fragment out because it would probably cause more damage if he did so, so the fragment would have to be supported and the arm wrapped before he could be brought up.

"C...Chris." Chris said through chattering teeth. Upon hearing the name, Joshua nodded his head, glad of the conformation.

Glancing up, Joshua grabbed the bottom of the stokes and helped guide it down. He couldn't put it down crossways because it wouldn't fit. Okay, getting young Chris in would be difficult and beyond that, no IV could be set up until they got him out!

Undoing the clasp and rope that held the drug box and blanket in, Joshua took the items and placed them on top of the cold liquid. At least it was thick enough; whatever it was that the drug box and blanket didn't sink to the bottom!

"Okay Chris, here we go!" Joshua replied. Bending down, he gently picked Chris up and placed him in the stokes. Because of the way it was situated, Joshua had to hold Chris in place with one hand while strapping him in with the other. When he was all strapped in, Joshua took his helmet back and went about wrapping Chris's arm; making sure the wood was supported.

After that was done he put a splint on his neck and a c-collar around the boy's neck. In hind sight he knew the c-collar should have gone on first but oh well...if he had done any damage it was too late to repair it.

All in all getting Chris packaged and ready to go took ten minutes, but after everything was done and the stokes was being raised to the surface, the rest of the rescue went quickly and smoothly. Up top Joshua's partner Matthew took charge of Chris while the others began to raise Joshua up from the well.

Matthew got in contact with the San Pueblo hospital and got orders from the doctor to start several IV's; mainly D5W TKO and normal saline, and transport as soon as possible. Once the IV's were set up, Matthew and Joshua walked beside the stokes stretcher while firefighters Marcos and Stanley carried the stretcher to the waiting ambulance that was down by the rig.

"I'll ride in with him." Joshua told his partner, climbing in to the ambulance was the stokes was secured to the regular gurney. Matthew nodded his head to his partner and handed him the drug box before he closed the back doors to the ambulance and gave the customary two slaps to signal to the ambulance attendants that they could take off. Two seconds later the ambulance did just that.