Today was the first chance Case and I had to discuss the events of the last few days. He hadn't gotten anything from the mages other than, "it's over, don't worry about it."
Saying they were tight lipped about the whole mess would be the understatement of the year. Only one of them even seemed slightly interested when Case mentioned that I'd seen our ghost friend again.
According to Case even that didn't mean anything since all of them insisted that whatever the ritual had been about was long since over and the ritual could not be performed for at least another four or five months.
That did a lot to soothe my nerves. Part of me wants to avoid the arcology at all costs– and part of me wants to find out what this is all about.
Its hard living with those instincts, because I know that curiosity is going to win. It always does. Maybe that's why I always end up in so much trouble.
Still, looking at Case and Bri– I can honestly say its worth it.
Have I mentioned how much I hate paperwork?
Its review time. I have to go over all the cases for the year, collate our statistics, compare them to last year's response time/call type. Its all a case of number crunching and arranging the data so that it stands up against the last set.
Its not really difficult, just tedious as hell and I tend to dread the results. Its not like I really need to worry about it. Between Ray, Smiley and several other of the ‘old timers' we've been coming up with innovations that have helped. Like having the motormedic patrolling on really bad nights.
It took most of the day, but when the reports were finally finished and tabulated, one thing became clear: we had improved our response time by 5%.
We could have done better if the administration had let us tag repeat customers with a tracking device so we could just follow them around and wait for them to need us.
On the serious side the margin is getting tight. I'm not sure we can cut the response time any further– not with the way the populations is rising.
As for call increase, that's increased by at least 10%, not including ghost calls. So– I think we've justified our existence for another six months.
Mr. Maroshi called me this afternoon– he needed some clarification on my notes and wanted me to meet him at the Arcology. I was so busy looking for excuses not to that I hadn't realized that I was doing it until after I'd hung up with him.
We're meeting tomorrow morning.
Thinking back, I don't know what got into me. I don't know if I was just tired, or if seeing my friend in blue just set me on edge. All I know is: I really don't want to see him again.
Needless to say, I was pretty much up after that. I got a few things done around the house, picked Bri up at daycare and handed her off to Case before heading to work.
Since I have to be downtown for tomorrow's meeting, Case suggested that I crash out at my office instead of the station– he had a point. If I crash at the station and a call comes in– I'm going to take it, no way I can't.
I promised him I would and then headed off to work.
Here I am worrying about a meeting tomorrow morning and the real trouble happens tonight-- not on the road, or on a call but at the hospital as I'm handing off a patient. It was an accident victim– female, mid 20's, brand new car with way too much power.
She wasn't in the best of shape– would have been better if she'd been wearing her safety belt. But as I headed out of treatment, there was a clatter to my right and the curtain was almost torn away as a patient drove one of the interns through it. He followed throwing trays, and trying to get to the door.
The door that I was now standing in. I barely got out of his way as he ran out of the room and into the hallway. I was just recovering when he backed back into the room followed by a very large, familiar brick wall: Mac.
The guy made a grab for me and I would have gotten away, if I hadn't tripped over one of the trays he'd thrown. He grabbed me by the wrist and I could feel something snap. It hurt.
Worse, he didn't let go but kept his hand clamped on my wrist as he yanked me up and then switched to a head lock. He was trying to use me as a shield against Mac, backing away from the door. I just wanted Mac to drop him.
Instead the intern he'd thrown earlier got him from behind with a hypo, and that took care of our friend– by the time he fell to the floor though, he was in better condition than the rest of us.
The intern had a concussion, I had a fracture– not one of my better nights. With a broken arm and a sprained wrist I get two days unconditional time off– but the real kicker is– I'm not going to be able to ride for a few weeks.
Normal riding is fine, but emergency response riding– no way...
It was great when I called dispatch for a flatbed to go and pick up my bike. Joe, the chief mechanic, came on the line demanding to know what I'd done to his bike.
"Calm down hon, you're going to blow a gasket or something," I urged with a chuckle. "The bike's fine– it's the rider that' broken."
I held up my inflatable casted hand and waved it at the video monitor.
He shook his head and muttered something about fools and children, then hung up on me. I was still laughing when I called Case.
When I saw the relieved look in his eyes I could tell he'd already heard, and was about to leave. I had to talk him out of coming to get me right then and there.
It took some talking, and I could see he wasn't entirely happy with my plan. He did talk me into getting a hotel room instead of just crashing out in the office. I think it gave him a little more peace of mind.
I'm beginning to think I'd have been safer in my office– it definitely would have been quieter.
Just another day in Seattle I guess.
I was not very rested by the time I got up and went to meet Mr. Maroshi. I had to take a cab since I'd left my bike at the station. Looks like I'll be driving for at least a little while– I just don't have the control I need to feel comfortable on the bike.
When I got to the Arcology, he was waiting for me. He only gave me the slightest of raised eyebrows when he saw the cast, then led me upstairs to the management offices. He briefed me about the problems and questions they had.
I didn't really understand until he opened the door and passed by the main office. The door was opened and a man was sitting there talking to someone via phone. It was none other than Dr. Sherman Huang, the man in pretty much responsible for the whole operation. He gestured us in as he finished his conversation, then stood and smiled.
What ensued next was the standard comedy routine. I started to offer him my hand, and realized that I had the cast on, so I opted to bow– meanwhile he started to bow, saw my hand come up and switched to handshake mode.
He gave me a slight smile as we both settled on a bow.
"I wished to thank you for your thorough analysis of our needs," he told me. "It is rare to see someone willing to put in such an effort instead of just giving us the guidelines and a simple stamp– it is obvious you thought over many problems and issues."
I tried to pass it off as nothing, but he simply shook his head. "No– it is clear that you care about what you are doing and that is indeed appreciated. I believe Maroshi has a few logistical problems that he needs to discuss with you."
I nodded and gave him another bow.
He smiled and returned it, his eyes never leaving mine. It was– interesting.
The rest of the meeting was relatively uneventful. There were some wiring problems with the suggested placement of the defibrillators on the first and second floors, and one or two access problems elsewhere.
I verified the wiring problems and found secondary locations that was still accessible and within regulations. With Maroshi's help we managed to find places for all the required equipment– an average of twenty call boxes, eighteen first aid stations and one defibrillator per floor.
I just can't get over how huge the whole thing is.
After I finished there I headed back to the office and found out who was available to fill in for me. Dwight was busy, but Ray was available– so at least tonight's shift is covered. We'll have to see about the rest of the week.
It felt weird not working last night– not that I was really awake for most of it. The pain killers they gave me for my wrist were mislabeled. They said "May cause drowsiness." They should have said "Forget trying to do anything more complicated than watching Trid."
Come to think of it, even that was a bit too taxing. Case seemed perfectly happy tucking me into bed and rescuing the cats from the terror's latest fascination– cat tails.
I am happy to report that I didn't see my friend in blue.
I stopped taking the pain killer during the day. I just can't risk being so out of it– especially not with our daughter running around. If I did, the cats would be bald by the time Case got home.
I got Hugh to cover tonight's shift and settled in to watch the afternoon news. They were talking about the mistreatment of patients at Harbor View. That got my attention. Tonight's focus: cases where patients were man handled by security.
They showed a very imposing picture of Mac as he strode down the hallway flanked by two of his security team. Talk about one sided– they didn't mention the hospital or rescue workers saved– or the fact that people sometimes get violent– no, its all security's fault.
"Why do we need security in the emergency ward?" The prim reported demanded of the listening audience.
I raised my hand angrily at the screen. I wonder if she's spent a day on the street without a camera– or a make-up artist.
Why do we need security? Because its an insecure world. Why do medic's carry guns? Because a dead medic can't help anybody.
Injured people react differently– some are cool and coherent– some are angry, even violent. Add the cause of their injury and you get a better idea. If drugs or sim-chips are involved... forget it, you're going to need someone to sit on them until you can get them restrained.
Shooting victims? You always have to worry about who shot them and the possibility that there may be another try while you're working on him. Some people don't care that you're in the way...
I'm not condoning excessive force when it comes to patient care, don't get me wrong. Its just that I know Mac and his team and I know they're getting a bum rap..
Today we headed out to Council Island to visit the rest of the family. When Mom Walker saw my hand she started scolding me immediately as she dragged me off to her back room.
Sometimes I think I see that room more than anybody else on the island.
"Jessica," she scolded me. "You know if something like this happens you should have me look at it... now you've waited too long..."
Its amazing how she can make me feel so much like an errant child and so loved at the same time. By the time she finished with my wrist was doing much better, but most of the afternoon had passed.
When she finally allowed me to return my wrist was slightly stiff, but the resistance in the cast had been turned down enough that it was supporting my wrist instead of immobilizing it. Case smiled at me as I came in and offered me a seat.
He'd been talking to Jonathan about the ghost image and once I was there, Jonathan started questioning me directly about the images. He was practically grilling me from then until Mrs. Walker called us to dinner.
I didn't like the intensity of his gaze– but I really didn't like his unwillingness to talk to me about it, or about his suspicions.
I know he wasn't trying to protect me, that he wanted to wait until he had something concrete to go on– but with my arm's current condition I'm most likely going to have time on my hands for research.
Copyright 2000 M.T. Decker