My first impression was of pain.
Loud noises....heat...excitement all around me.....
"Chet! Get that inch and a half over here!"
"Rampart, come in, this is Squad 51..."
Squad 51.....why did that sound so familiar....
My fogged mind finally put a name to the voice and the face....Johnny......
His partner was beside me....Roy.
I knew their names, I knew their faces...but I never knew them like this before...warm, real....
But the change wasn't in them, I realised as I heard the captain yelling about radiation and decontamination.
No, the change had been in me.
When it was all over, and it was quiet again, Johnny and Roy took me home. I saw my roommate for the first time. She was larger than me, but of the same kin, I saw. I tried to talk to her, but she refused to talk to me back.
After an hour or so, I realised she couldn't. I had never felt so alone than at that moment.
Others came and spent time with me --- Dwyer and Carter.....Jackson and Marcus.....then they were back.
Johnny and Roy.
I realised they weren't Gage and DeSoto to me....they were Johnny and Roy. Unlike the others ... who fed me, gave me baths.... this pair was special to me.
They had been my first friends.
I kept trying to talk to them....but it was useless. They would talk about me...but never to me. It hurt. A lot.
So life went on this way for a few weeks....me lonely in my bright, white and red house. Johnny and Roy staying with me, but not really knowing I was there. Oh sure, they'd see me, touch me, talk about me....
But I wasn't there to them.
I think things began to turn around on a call where a girl was whacked out on acid. She came tearing from the house, Johnny in hot pursuit. I knew then the call had gone horribly wrong.
Roy didn't emerge right away --- I figured he'd been held up. I knew he'd need to get to Johnny fast when he did. So I did all I could think of doing at the moment.
The keys were still there. I turned the ignition, and the engine roared. I cried out in joy as it did. The gears slid into reverse, and the hill worked to my advantage. A second later, I applied the brakes and stopped.
Roy bombed out of the house and blinked. Hard. He reached out his hand and for the first time ---
"Where did you come from, girl?" he breathed, astonished. "I parked you in the alley!"
Yes! I cheered, and the engine revved as I did. He sees me! He sees *ME*!
I held out my arm --- the driver's side door swung open --- and he climbed inside. Together we drove looking for Johnny. He called LA and asked for police.
He tried to turn down a right hand turn, but I saw Johnny to my left, and turned that way. The girl vanished and Johnny ran up to me. We found her again though.
Soon, she was under care at Rampart. Roy came out, alone, before Johnny did. He touched me again, tenderly. "Something happened there," he whispered.
I waited. Make the connection, Roy...make the connection....
He reached for the handle, and I opened the door. Blinking, he slid inside and lay his hands on the steering wheel. "What's happening here?" he whispered.
Then his eyes went huge. "That fire..... the one with the radiation......."
Still I waited.
He hovered his hand above the key. "Go ahead," he ordered.
I turned the engine over, making sure he saw the key move.
Roy licked his lips. "Can you talk to me?"
Not yet, Roy....I haven't figured it out yet......
"Beep the horn."
He lay both hands on his mouth and nose, then removed them again. "Once for yes, twice for no. Are...are you a ghost?"
Oh, Roy... *Beep beep*
"Okay, not a ghost....You canít be the Squad herself....I mean...''
He paused. "You're the Squad?"
"You're .... you're alive?"
"Talkin' to yourself, Pally?" Johnny laughed as he slid into the seat. "I mean beeping the horn incessantly is one thing, but...."
I saw Roy glare at him. I decided it was time to show Johnny.
I wrapped the seat belts around them both. Johnny's yell of surprise was nothing compared to the shriek he gave when I pulled out of Rampart.
Roy's hands were not on the steering wheel, nor his foot on the gas.
I was driving.
Things would never be the same for us three now, and we all knew it.
Dwyer and Carter and Jackson and Marcus wouldn't know this side of me. Only these two would.
Only they would know I am alive.
Or would they?
Return to The Realm