10 to 1
Warm raindrops pelted down around Blackwall, flooding small areas of road and pavement where the drainage systems struggled to cope with the sudden heavy shower. Sally found herself running faster that usual, in the hope of being able to make it to Blackwall Fire Station without getting too wet.
Not that it makes any difference, she thought to herself, I'm already soaked!
She didn't notice the car sneak up behind her, until a huge tidal wave mounted the pavement and soaked her from head to foot. She stopped still, totally shocked.
"Oi!" she yelled after the driver. "Moron!"
The car pulled up in front of her.
"All right Sal?" Joe asked with a cheeky grin on his face as he stuck his head out of the driver's window.
She couldn't help but smile, although she tried to hide it. "I'll get you!" she promised.
"Want a lift?" he offered.
"I don't think that's a very good idea…" she started.
"Ok then, get soaked."
"I already am!" she decided to join him in the car.
"Watch me interiors!" he moaned. "I only got it valeted yesterday!"
She punched him playfully in the arm. "It's your fault I'm this wet anyway!" she reminded him as she dripped small puddles of rainwater over the passenger seat.
They drove off towards Blackwall.
Dan saw them arrive together. He also noticed that Pearce had clocked the arrival. He wondered if the Sub would say anything. But then something else distracted Pearce's attention as Chris Hammond arrived.
"Um… sir…" Pearce ran to catch up with Chris, who was walking swiftly from his car to the shelter of the station.
"Yes Geoff?" Chris didn't stop until they had reached the appliance bay.
"I thought you ought to know…" Pearce started.
Chris rolled his eyes. When Pearce thought Chris "ought to know" something, it usually meant he was about to grass on someone. Chris decided he wasn't in the mood to listen to any of Pearce's tales this morning.
"Can it wait until later Geoff?"
Pearce looked a little put out. "Well I suppose so…"
He tried looking in Joe and Sally's direction but Chris refused to take the hint.
Chris shook his head and started towards his office, glad to be released from Pearce's pincers. He had a feeling he knew what the tale would be about too.
"Guv!" George Green collared Chris on the stairs waving a newspaper. "We won a tenner!"
"Oh," Chris failed to reach George's level of enthusiasm at that news. "Is that all!"
"It's better than nothing!" George protested. "And there's always next week."
"And the week after. The Lottery is a mug's game, George." Chris decided that if he were to ever going back to the gambling thing again, he'd stick to the dogs.
At least he could have a few pints while he lost a few quid.
"Do you want your share then Guv?" George asked, rummaging in his pocket for a few coins.
"Um, you keep it George, perhaps you could put it on again in the hope of winning the jackpot!" Chris grinned.
Blue Watch assembled in the appliance bay for role call. George had somehow managed to rope Recall and Joe into his Lottery syndicate. Chris was still sticking to his decision to have no part in it. He had to interrupt George who was now discussing numbers with Sally and Dan. The Watch quickly formed a neat line in front of him as Pearce called the role.
By lunchtime, even Sicknote had been conned into putting his quid in for a line of numbers. Pearce had decided to steer well clear, which was no surprise.
"I think us officers are best left out of this sort of thing…" he tried telling Chris.
"What sort of thing?" Chris wasn't really listening to Pearce as he pored over a fire report, which the ADO had urgently requested.
"Gambling," Pearce explained. "The lads can have their fun by all means, but it's not the sort of thing we should be encouraging…"
"Mmnn hmmn," Chris had other, more important, things on his mind at the moment. "I don't really think it's any of our business if Blue Watch want to waste their money, Geoff."
Pearce tried one of his fake, defeated grins, but Chris wasn't paying any attention. "Maybe you're right, sir."
"Are you gonna come round to mine tonight?" Joe whispered in Sally's ear.
"Why would I want to do that?"
"Well, you know… I just thought…"
"Not here…" she hissed, putting an end to their conversation before anyone else overheard, she had seen both Chris and Pearce looking in their direction more than a few times recently.
"So who chooses the numbers then?" Sicknote was asking, wondering if he was right to have parted with a one pound coin.
"You can choose your own," George replied.
"I highly doubt we'll win anything anyway," Sicknote muttered as he marked down some numbers on a piece of paper.
By late afternoon, Chris had heard enough about millionaires and lottery syndicates. The adrenaline rush in the appliance on the way to a shout lifted the volume level of the conversation in the pump ladder. Chris had to yell at them to shut up as he tried to listen to a message from Control over the appliance phone.
"…one person reported…" the female radio operator was saying. "We were in contact but the line has gone dead."
Chris relayed the information to George, the driver of the pump ladder. George reacted by putting his foot down harder on the accelerator.
"Joe, Sally," Chris turned to them as they sat in the back of the cab. "Get rigged now, I want you to go straight in when we stop."
"Guv," they both replied as they took off their helmets and started pulling on BA sets as best they could in the confined space.
A few people were milling around the scene, waiting for the anticipated arrival of the fire brigade. Chris ignored them as he instructed Blue Watch. Joe and Sally, in full BA kit, headed straight towards the flames. Joe led the way.
"Upstairs, Joe," Sally suggested.
They extinguished a path through the flames and headed towards the stairs. They came across a body in one of the upstairs bedrooms.
Together they dragged the young woman back towards the stairs. The fire had flared up again, regaining control of the path they had previously cleared.
"Take this," Joe gave the hose line to Sally. "Cover me," he yelled as he picked up the young woman in a fireman's lift.
"You what!" Sally argued.
"Just do it," was his last instruction before he disappeared into the flames.
"What the hell were you playing at in there!" Sally wasn't happy with Joe's actions during the fire, which Blue Watch were now clearing up.
"Calculated risk?" he suggested.
"Bollocks! And when did you become a maths expert!"
He shrugged. "I dunno, it just sounded good!"
She punched him, hard, in the arm. "Never, ever, do that to me again!" she warned and marched off.
Joe scowled and rubbed his arm. He then looked up to see that Chris had witnessed the whole thing.
"Guv?" Joe decided to find out what Chris was going to do, if anything, about the situation with Sally.
He ventured into the office where Chris was mulling over a newspaper.
"I was just wondering…"
"I have warned you…" Chris started.
"She was annoyed about the shout," Joe interrupted.
"And this morning?"
"I gave her a lift, it was raining… Honest!"
Chris didn't believe the story. He had already given them one chance to sort it out. That would be one chance too many if anyone from Above got to hear about it. Especially the ADO.
"If you want to transfer anyone, then transfer me," Joe begged, seeing that Chris didn't believe a word of his excuses. "Sally doesn't deserve to loose Blue Watch."
Chris looked at Joe. He was just a lad who had fallen in love with a girl, and work, as usual, was getting in the way. But rules were rules. If Joe and Sally wanted to risk their careers then that was fine, but they weren't going to mess things up for Chris. Not now he had come this far.
And if Geoff Pearce knew about it and Chris did nothing, he knew he would just be committing professional suicide, as it was highly likely that Pearce would go straight to the top with his gossip.
"I'll think about it," Chris replied.
"Thanks Guv," Joe decided to leave the office, knowing that was the best response he could hope for.
Chris looked back to his paper, which was open on the racing page. He scanned the column of the dogs running in the evening race. His eyes rested on "The Right Decision" with odds of 10 to 1. He wondered…