LONDON'S BURNING
Flight of the Phoenix
Part 3 - Scapegoat (Hyper's Story)

Hyper had known very little about Adam's past, his tangled family life had been the topic of Blue Watch conversation not so long ago, but his past performances with the female species had been kept well under wraps. Well, apart from the stuff he wanted everyone to believe. He wasn't too keen to relay the list of people who might be after him for one reason or another to the police.

Hyper had his own thoughts on the identity of "Phoenix" as, like everyone else, he still had a couple of skeletons in his closet. Everyone does stuff they want to forget, some more than others.

He had transferred away from his last station when he admitted to being gay, much to the dislike of the rest of the Watch who then started behaving very childishly and refused to even speak to him. His own life had been jeopardised when one of them refused to buddy breathe with him, probably concerned (ridiculously) that he might catch something. But it was something else that had spurred him into making the decision to leave, not that he would have stuck around with people who wanted to see him die for what he was. They had been looking for a scapegoat, which had turned out to be him.

They had taken to referring to him as "Nancy" or "Bender" for want of any original words. They didn't care if he heard them or not and often liked to voice their hatred very loudly. Except near senior officers of course, they weren't that stupid.

Some time had passed since he had "come out" and things weren't getting any better. He had tried to kid himself that they were just getting used to it. But after the buddy-breathing incident, he knew he was never going to be able to work with them. He had applied for a transfer. It was his last Watch, and even though the others were glad to see the back of him, they couldn't resist giving him a leaving present he wouldn't forget.

It was Leading Firefighter Dave Keller's fault. But only he and Hyper knew the truth of what really happened and not the lies Keller had convinced everyone of.

An inferno was raging above them. Scorching heat spread across the ceiling as jets of flames pulsed over their heads. They had to make a split second decision, well Keller did as he was supposed to be the senior officer, not that his rank made him any more of a man. People were trapped high up on the 12th floor of a block of flats. Keller and Hyper, in BA, had entered the blaze (Keller had tried voicing his opinion of that, but no one listened).

They recovered two casualties and were dragging them back towards the front door when they came across a locked door leading off to the right inside the flat. Hyper tried the back of the hand test, but Keller stopped him.

"We've got the casualties, come on."

"But I think we should check in here as well," Hyper argued. "You never know, the witness might be wrong."

They had only been told that two people were in the flat. But the person who had told them hadn't even been in the flat, so how would they know?

"But it's locked, you muppet," Keller pointed out. "Help me get these two outside and then we can come back, if you really want! Now come on, unless you want to be barbecued!"

Hyper had no choice.

It turned out that there had been a young woman inside the room. She had locked herself in the bedroom for some reason. By the time Hyper and Keller got to her, they were too late. Hyper couldn't help wondering if they had got to her sooner, would it have made any difference? What if he had gone into that room when he'd had the chance?

There was an inquest. Keller tried to make out that it was Hyper's idea to leave the flat with the two casualties, but the Brigade had then pointed out that Keller was the LF so he had shouldered part of the responsibility. The Brigade might have been on his side, but the rest of the Watch would rather believe Keller's version of events.

"But what does that have to do with anything?" Sally had been listening to his story.

"I'm getting to that part," Hyper assured her. "I wouldn't have trusted Keller to put out a fire in a tea pot, and that was before I told him I was gay!"

Having got away with it once, Keller tried his scam again, this time on another unsuspecting colleague. He was fairly new to the job and didn't know what Keller was like. Unfortunately Keller had gone to far this time, resulting in the young bloke committing suicide.

"What did he do?" Sally was asking.

"Dunno," Hyper replied. "But that's not the end of it. The Watch wouldn't stick by him this time, they knew he had gone too far."

"What happened to him?"

"They slung him out. Anyway, last I heard he was blaming me."

"But what does it have to do with you?" Sally was confused.

"Nothing, he's a nutter, Sal, Phoenix sounds exactly like something he would do," Hyper felt convinced.

"Hmmn," Sally wasn't too sure.

"I didn't like him from the moment I set eyes on him. I reconsidered hundreds of times before telling them."

"You shouldn't be ashamed of it."

"I'm not. But it's scary that someone wants to try and kill me just because he doesn't like what I am!"

"He does sound like a nutter," she admitted. "Did you tell the police about him?"

"I don't really want to start blaming him especially if he's got nothing to do with it."

"Why not?" she demanded. "After all he did?! It's the least you can do!"

London's Burning – Flight of the Phoenix - Scapegoat © Karen Moody 11/06/2002