by Lizabeth S. Tucker
John Gage was tapping his fingers impatiently on the steering wheel of his Land Rover, caught in traffic during the thunderstorm sweeping through Los Angeles. If he could just get to the next light, he'd be out of traffic and might be able to make it to the station before roll call.
He inched closer and closer to his goal, unable to whip by the traffic lining up to turn left off the road. His car was too big to squeeze through the small openings the others left.
As he turned his head to watch a pretty girl in a yellow Pacer, Johnny heard a lot clap of thunder, was blinded by a bright light that surrounded him and felt a tingling as the world exploded around him.
"Roy, where's your partner?" Captain Hank Stanley asked his paramedic.
Roy DeSoto shrugged. "I don't know, Cap. With this rain, he's probably caught in traffic."
Mike Stoker, Station 51's engineer, came running in out of the rain, late himself. "I think Johnny comes the same way I do and it's bumper to bumper, Cap."
Stanley frowned, but acknowledged the truth of the statement. Angelinos did have a habit of panicking whenever it began to rain, driving erratically from the first drop. Either they were racing along at 70 miles per hour or creeping at less than 15 miles per hour. It was a recipe for disaster either way.
"Cap, I can stay until he gets here," Dwyer offered.
/Station 51, accident with injury at the intersection of Las Palmas and Torino Parkway...intersection of Las Palmas and Torino Parkway...time out 0742./
Captain Stanley acknowledged the call, handing a slip to Roy while keeping the other. The engine followed behind the squad through the still pouring rain.
Getting to the accident was a nightmare, cars either refusing or not able to move out of the way. When they finally arrived, the nightmare intensified.
"Roy, doesn't that look like..." Dwyer's voice trailed off as they got close enough to see the gaping hole in the glass.
"Yeah. Yeah, it does." Roy parked the squad carefully, then took a deep breath. He and Dwyer quickly got the equipment out of the storage compartments, then hurried to the car. The rain poured down on them, their turnouts the only protection from the chilliness.
Stanley also recognized the vehicle, closing his eyes for a moment in pain. But there wasn't time for that. He could see smoke rising from under the Rover and directed his men to check for gas leaks.
As he walked to the car, he looked for signs of a wreck, but the only thing he saw was a shattered windshield. He looked into the car and saw his missing paramedic slumped to the side and a burnt section of upholstery near the middle. "Roy?"
"He's alive, Cap, but he's unconscious. I can't figure out what happened." Roy continued checking Johnny for injuries while Dwyer got on the biophone to Rampart.
Stanley turned to see Marco waving at him. He was surrounded by gesticulating bystanders, so excited that they didn't seem to care that they standing in pouring down rain. The fire captain joined his man and was amazed by what he heard.
"He was hit by lightning? In his car?" Stanley asked. "You're certain?"
"I saw it all," claimed a man who had been facing Johnny's car, stopped by the traffic. "I was looking right at him when it happened. Scariest thing I've ever seen."
Others joined in with their eyewitness accounts, but essentially agreed. The white Land Rover had been struck by lightning, the strike entering through the windshield and passing through the car's undercarriage, narrowly missing hitting Johnny himself.
The ambulance had finally arrived by the time Stanley had received the accounts of Johnny's encounter with a bolt of lightning. He could see the smile on Roy's face and knew that Johnny had once again beat the odds.
"Minor, Cap. He has a few cuts from the glass and a bad burn on his hip from the smoldering seat, but other than that, he's fine."
"Yeah, I'm fine," came a voice from inside the car. "So why don't we skip the ride to Rampart?"
"John, you're going in." Stanley fought back a smile of his own when he saw the disgruntled man trying to convince Dwyer he could climb out by himself. "If the doctors clear you for duty, you can come back to the station and relieve Dwyer."
"Hey, Gage, I can use the overtime, so don't hurry," the blond paramedic from C-shift said, the rain dripping off his helmet.
Roy and Dwyer were met by the rest of Station 51's men when they returned from Rampart. Anxious faces waited to hear the verdict.
"Chet, could you let me out of the squad?" Roy asked, amused.
"Oh. Yeah, okay." He moved one inch back.
Sighing, Roy slowly pushed his door open, forcing Chet to back up.
"Well?" Chet snapped.
"Yeah, Roy, how is he?" Marco asked.
Roy was tempted to drag it out, but knew their concern was genuine and didn't have the heart to tease them over this. "He's fine. Brackett wants him to stay off for this shift, but it looks like he dodged the bullet once again. The worst was the first degree burn on his right hip."
Relieved smiles broke out among the men.
"Does he have to stay at Rampart?"
"No, Cap. Brackett said that he didn't have to stay the night, but he won't release Johnny until later this afternoon."
"How is he going to get home, Roy?" Marco asked.
"Yeah, considering his car is kinda fried," Chet chuckled.
"I called Joanne. She's going to pick Johnny up from the hospital and drive him home."
"Only Gage would have his car hit by lightning." Chet shook his head, laughing. "The Phantom is gonna have a lotta fun with this."
"I don't want to know anything about it, Kelly," Cap commented, one eyebrow quirked.
"How about some breakfast?" Dwyer asked. "I can whip some eggs up."
Marco walked with him, suggesting cheese and chili, an argument that continued after they entered the kitchen. The others followed, the day seeming a little brighter, despite the continuing rainstorm.