Paramedic Dean Flynn flipped the switch on the ambulance dashboard and the red and white light bar on the roof started its dance of flashing strobes and LEDs. The emergency call came in just before noon for a behavioral emergency downtown in an office complex off of Hopewell Boulevard.
The dispatcher upgraded the 911 response protocol for this particular dispatch. The voice on the radio notified the crew to run in Delta Response which meant to run with full lights and sirens. Dean reached out to activate the siren as they approached the first intersection. It was strange for this type of full-on emergency response for an agitated subject and Dean wondered what could have triggered the dispatcher to raise the severity level of the call.
Dean’s partner, Barry, who was driving, must have wondered the same thing.
“What’s with the Delta Response? It’s only a crazy person. They know ramping up our response this way puts us and the public in greater danger.”
“I don’t know. Pay attention to the road and don’t run through any intersections without checking they’re clear first. It’s the middle of the day. The roads are going to be plenty congested.”
The Station U ambulance squad was housed in an industrial park outside the city. It always took them a few minutes to get to the more congested city streets of the downtown business district. In the middle of the work week, it took even longer.
There were closer ambulance stations to the city’s center but the Station U team was special. They treated the supernatural creatures, called Unusuals, who lived and worked in secret alongside their human neighbors in and around Elk City.
Dean picked up the mic and called in to dispatch.
“Ambulance U-891 to headquarters.”
“Go ahead U-891.”
“Do we have any additional information on the current situation?”
“All additional information we have is being sent to your data terminal now.”
Dean flipped open the newly installed laptop sitting on a swivel mount between the driver and passenger seat of the ambulance. He turned it in his direction and checked the screen after logging in.
Thirty-seven-year-old female. Co-workers report agitated behavior on return from a restaurant with carry-out lunch. She is now locked in an office conference room and threatening suicide. Police en route.
“It’s a woman who’s threatening suicide,” Dean told his partner. “We’ll need to be careful. People who want to harm themselves sometimes end up hurting others even if it’s by mistake.”
“You don’t have to tell me twice. Any clues about the Unusual connection? Don’t know, but there must be something that triggered them to alert us at Station U rather than one of the closer ambulance units already downtown.”
Dean shrugged. He didn’t know any more than Barry did about the connection. The two paramedics would find out soon enough.
They pulled up on the street outside a four-story office building. A frantic man greeted Dean as soon as he opened the passenger door to get out.
“Thank God you’re here. Stacey is acting crazy up there and we’re all afraid she’s going to hurt herself.”
“Easy, sir,” Dean soothed. “Which office is she in? Which floor?”
“She’s up in the Global Traders offices on the third floor. Please hurry, this isn’t like her at all.”
“We need to grab some of our gear and then we’ll have you lead us upstairs, alright?”
The man nodded and Dean pulled open one of the side cabinet doors on the outside of the ambulance. He grabbed the trauma and med bags. Barry would already be grabbing the oxygen bag and the heart monitor from the back, along with removing the stretcher from the rear compartment.
Stacking the bags next to the oxygen and the monitor on the ambulance cot, Dean closed and locked the vehicle, then he helped Barry lift the stretcher up over the curb and followed the impatient man inside.
“Sir, I’m paramedic Dean Flynn and this is my partner and fellow paramedic, Barry Winston. And you are?”
“Sorry, I’m Fred Tanner. I’m the office manager at Global.”
“Can you tell us anything else about what happened? What set her off?”
“I don’t know. It was her turn to go out and bring back lunch for the rest of us. She came back just like any other time and set the food down in the conference room. Then she grabbed her head and started screaming. When we tried to help her, she started hitting us and throwing things at us. Then she locked the conference room door.”
“We received information that she threatened to harm herself.”
“She said she ‘needs to pay for what she’s done’ and she ‘had to die for her sins.’”
Barry jumped in with a question.
“Has Stacey ever acted strangely like this before?”
“No, never. She’s been with us since we opened the offices here in Elk City. Stacey would be the first to tell you she’s painfully normal and boring. There’s never been anything that would make me think she was dealing with any mental issues.”
The three of them boarded the elevator up to the third floor. People gave them curious glances and started collecting in groups, trying to figure out what was going on. The doors slid closed as the bystanders congregated and the office rumor mill started just like it did every time the paramedics showed up on a location like this.
“Any sign of the police?” Dean asked.
“No, why? Do you think we need them?”
“They’re dispatched along with us on situations like this. I was only checking to see if they’d gotten here ahead of us, that’s all.”
Dean and Barry shared a glance. Dean knew what his partner was thinking. They needed to decide if they should wait for police backup or go in and try to handle the situation as it was. A violent patient could be dangerous, especially if she were some sort of Unusual supernatural creature.
The elevator doors slid open on the third floor revealing a small vestibule with double glass doors opposite the elevators sporting a round logo topped with the words “Global Traders” in frosted white letters. There were other office workers clustered together on the other side of the glass. They all looked towards the paramedics as they exited the elevator. Worried but hopeful expressions showed on their faces.
Fred held one of the doors open while Dean and Barry wheeled their stretcher and all their gear into the reception area. They heard the shouting and occasional screams right away. The woman’s voice was muffled so Dean couldn’t make out what she was shouting about but the screaming and crying was easy enough to decipher. Someone was in pain of some sort. Whether emotional or physical, it didn’t matter either way. It was up to him and his partner to deal with it.
“Dean, should we wait for police?”
“I think we need more information. Let’s see if we can assess where she is and what her physical condition is before we decide for sure.”
“Sounds like a plan.”
Dean turned to Fred.
“Wait here and send someone else down to wait for the police officers. They should be arriving soon. My partner and I are going to head back and see if we can talk to Stacey and calm her down.”
“Her best friend, Meg, is back there with her, now. She hasn’t been able to get through to her.”
“Well, we’re gonna try anyway. Wait here.”
Dean picked up the trauma and med bags while Barry grabbed the oxygen and the heart monitor. They could leave the wheeled cot where it was.
Neither of them needed a guide. It was easy to follow the sound of Stacey’s anguished cries back through the office cubicles to the conference room. A distraught woman in her mid-forties stood outside the wooden door wringing her hands. A plaque on the wall read “conference room” next to the door.
The woman turned and a look of relief crossed her face.
“Thank God you’re here. I don’t know what’s come over her. She’s gone completely insane. You’ve got to help her. This isn’t like her and I’m worried she’s hurting herself in there.”
“We’re going to see what we can do,” Dean assured her. “Please go back out to the reception area and wait there. It’ll be safer for all of us.”
“Don’t hurt her, please.”
“We’re here to help. We’ll do our best to keep her safe, I promise.”
After Meg left them alone, Barry looked from Dean to the door and back again.
“What do we do? She sounds like she’s trashing the room in there. There’s two of us and one of her but I don’t wanna get banged up by a patient today.”
Dean shook his head.
“We’ll make sure we can get out without her getting to us first. Keep the door at our backs and don’t let her get between us and the exit. That should be enough for now. No one has said she had any weapons on her. I want to see what her condition is. I’ll open the door a crack and see what happens. Based on her response we’ll reassess the situation. You ready?”
Barry nodded and Dean set his bags down and approached the door. He placed a hand on the handle and listened to the woman’s tirade on the other side, waiting for a lull in the shouting and screams. Much of what she said was unintelligible. He did keep hearing the words angel and wings. That got his Unusual radar going.
Pressing down on the handle, Dean pushed the door open a crack and leaned forward to peer into the room. A woman passed right by the door, her hands in thrust into her hair as if she were trying to pull it out. She wore a floral print dress that was torn in several places so severely it barely remained on her body and didn’t do a very good job of covering her up anymore.
Her arms were battered and covered in bruises, as was her torso, though the latter seemed older than the wounds on her arms. Dean pulled the door closed.
“It looks like she’s pretty banged up from throwing furniture around and beating on the walls but there are signs she’s taken a beating sometime recently. Her torso is all bruised up. I wonder if she might be a domestic violence victim.”
“What’s that got to do with her condition now?” Barry asked.
“I don’t know for sure but maybe whoever is beating her is also the one responsible for her wigging out the way she is. There’s no sign she’s an Unusual herself which leads me to believe her condition is a side effect of contact with one. There are several types of supernatural creatures out there who have various powerful psychological effects on humans. We’ve both seen them.”
“So what’s the plan?”
“I’m going to go in. Stay behind me and keep the door open. If things get too hairy, I’ll try to disengage and you can pull the door shut behind me to keep her contained in there.”
“Alright, but you be careful.”
“Don’t worry. I have no plans on being any kind of hero. I have to try and talk her down, though.”
“We could wait for police,” Barry noted.
“Let’s try this first. If it doesn’t work, we’ll pull back and regroup while we wait for more help.”
Dean grabbed the door handle again, took a breath and then opened it, stepping inside the conference room.
The woman whipped around as soon as he stepped into the room. She snarled with rage and started to open her mouth to say something when her eyes softened and her face relaxed.
“You’re just like him,” Stacey said, pointing at Dean. “I can see it all around you. It’s beautiful but not exactly the same. Can you help me get him to stay longer.”
Dean didn’t understand what the woman was talking about but he wasn’t going to complain either. She’d settled down and whatever it was she saw, she wasn’t attacking him or hurting herself.
“Stacey, I’m Dean Flynn. I’m a paramedic with the city fire department. Do you mind if I talk to you for a little bit and see what’s got you so upset?”
“He was mine. I found him. I made him better. He should not have tried to leave me the way he did.”
“Who, Stacey?” Dean asked.
“Reggie – uh – Reginald. He’s been staying with me while he gets better. I thought he liked me enough to stay longer but he doesn’t want to. He tried to get away this morning but I was able to keep him here. That’s alright, isn’t it? He’s mine. I found him.”
“I’m confused, Stacey. Is Reggie a dog or a cat?”
Stacey laughed. “No, silly. Reggie’s an angel.”
That took Dean by surprise, even given the words he’d overheard earlier. It made him reassess the origin of her wounds. Maybe she got them struggling with someone else and she was the aggressor. It was unusual, but then, in this line of work, that was the name of the game.
“I’ll tell you what, Stacey. If you come with my partner, Barry, and me, we’ll take you somewhere you can talk to people who will help you with Reggie. The only thing is, you have to tell me where Reggie is now?”
“I don’t know if I should tell you. What if you try and go see him and he gets away. I found him. I nursed him back to life. I should get to keep him.”
“I just want to make sure he’s not hurt like you are. You don’t want him injured and hurt without help, do you?”
Stacey shook her head. “I don’t want him hurt. I nursed him back to health. You can check on him but promise you’ll lock up after you seem him so he doesn’t get away?”
“I’ll make sure nothing bad happens to Reggie, I promise.”
Dean was careful to never lie to patients, even in situations like this. He hadn’t promised not to help Reggie escape, if escape was what Reggie wanted. Luckily, Stacey heard what she wanted to hear, just as Dean hoped.
He extended a hand towards Stacey and she started towards him, placing a battered and bloody hand in his. Together, they walked out of the conference room. The police officers from their law enforcement version of Station U had arrived and waited in the hallway for them.
“Hey, Jimmy,” Dean said. Officer Jimmy Shorter was a cop who’d worked with Dean on cases before when violence was involved. He also knew about the existence of Unusuals in Elk City.
“Dean,” the officer nodded. “I heard the tail end of that. It sounded like she —“
Jimmy stopped when Dean shook his head.
“Jimmy, this is Stacey. She is going to go with us while we go and check on a friend for her. Can you follow along behind us while Barry and I go and help her with her problem?”
Jimmy looked a little unsure of what was going on but he followed Dean’s lead. They’d worked together enough that he knew Dean was trying to help the distraught woman. Treating people in these situations was seldom straightforward.
“Sure, Dean, but shouldn’t she go to the hospital or something?”
“Maybe not. I’m going to check with the docs over the radio first then I’ll explain when we get there. Just follow us, alright?”
The police officer nodded and they all walked with Stacey back to the lobby where the stretcher was located.