Expecting the end of his shift to politely knock on his window and tell him to go home and get some rest, Mike had parked the car at Stinger’s Point. The temptation to get out and stroll along the pier was deafening, but he knew he couldn’t leave the CB. Something about the ocean calmed him; if he could just be close enough to feel the breeze sauntering in from the north, to be lulled by this infinite expanse….
As if to remind him of his intrusion in this picture postcard, the CB crackled to life. It took Mike a few seconds to realise dispatch was indeed speaking English, like repeating the word ‘chicken’ over and over until it sounds ridiculous, almost alien.
Still dreaming of white horses and coral reefs, Mike sparked the ignition, flicked on the siren and gunned down the road, a dismal cascade of gravel the only indications of his fleeting presence.

Mike took a left at Picton Avenue, the snarl on his face mirroring that of the engine as the affluence of each passing neighbourhood became hard to ignore. Finally, the hallowed streets of Rosedale stretched out before him, allowing him about as much welcome as Kira had these last few nights.
Couldn’t she see that he was powerless to do anything about it? Paramedics had little room for debating the fairness of double-shifts; gun shots and car wrecks kept their own working hours, leaving the rest of humanity playing catch-up.
His first instinct as he pulled into the driveway of No. 67 was OD. Rich party, rich kids and the designer drug of choice, perhaps a little too rich. The small coterie outside the front door did nothing to change that perception; an hour ago, he’d have been surprised if anyone saw past the hairstyles and the shoes, now all he could see was the fear and uncertainty in their eyes.

They’d moved the kid to a corner of the lounge where a flustered girl sat sobbing, stroking his hair and whispering in his ear. Kid was probably not the most accurate of words, he was more likely around 23, but no one looks old when the life is draining from their body.
Ten minutes after he first received the call, Mike was checking for vital signs. The boy had dusty blonde hair, plastered to his face by the sweat of his initial convulsions, which according to his girlfriend had stopped abruptly minutes before Mike arrived. As he reached for the limp wrist to take a pulse, he saw the unmistakable sheen of a RESCOR bracelet. The key to life in a simple, translucent band.

Mike had no idea where the thought originated, but it came lurching through his mind like a freight train. Exhausted, running on adrenaline and with no clear recollection of anything earlier than three hours ago, it was the only thing he could hear. The kid’s dead. Contact RESCOR, they’ll be here in a matter of minutes and then it’s their problem. Not even much of a problem. Probably bump into the kid in the breakfast aisle of the local supermarket next week.
It was amazing how easily he gave in. And when one of the onlookers asked him why he hadn’t even bothered starting CPR, Mike simply replied, “No point. Nothing more I can do.”
Mike greeted the two Reclaimants at the door. It wasn’t the first time he’d had to call RESCOR’s collection agents, but the efficacy and fluidity with which they conducted themselves always made him uncomfortable, like being trapped in a room full of tele-evangelists. All neon smiles and crisp white suits on the outside, but beneath the surface shimmers a darkness malevolent enough to turn an angels heart to coal.
“Male, 23, suspected overdose of Methylmonoferoxide resulting in massive heart failure.” One of the Reclaimants dipped his chin in acknowledgment and made his way over to the body.
Methylmonoferoxide. Moonfox. Didn’t get you high, just made you feel like a part of your life mattered. Heroin was the poor mans poison these days. If you could afford it, nothing beat feeling relevant.
“Excuse me…”. The Reclaimants voice was measured, firm. “We appear to have a problem.
Mike cautiously approached the three figures. There was an edge to the statement he did not find reassuring.
“And what exactly is this problem?”
The second Reclaimant indicated the bracelet and slowly passed a small device across its surface.
“The scanner cannot retrieve any information.” Both looked at Mike, revealing no trace of emotion. There was something deeply unsettling about their synchronicity.
“Surely you can clear this up once you’ve taken him back to the treatment facility?” As soon as he’d spoken the words, Mike knew it was the wrong question.
“I’m afraid you don’t understand.” That measured tone again, as if this were a university lecture. “This band is fake.”
“Yes.” The second Reclaimant, who had up until know remained quiet, spoke with a lilting falsetto. “We’ve only recently become aware of the problem, but due to the status afforded our clients, these bands have become the latest desirables, and we all know that’s an open invitation for forgeries. This is one of the best we’ve seen, in fact. But the outside is so much easier to fake then what’s on the inside.”
“So…what you’re saying is……..” Mike failed to coax the rest of the words from his throat.
“We are saying that this is not a client.” The Reclaimant tried to sound sympathetic, but it was a pathetic attempt. “Save the intervention of some religious icon, this body is indeed lifeless and should be taken to the morgue at St Gabriel’s.”
“It’s a pity you couldn’t initiate CPR just a few minutes earlier.” That disarming fasletto again. Courteous, but always indifferent. And as quickly as they had arrived, the two Reclaimants melted away into the now thinning crowd.
The disbelief seemed to seep up from the ground, penetrating his feet, coarsing through his legs and exploding in his chest. Mike suddenly realised, the one rule he prided himself in sticking to, the one tenet which had pulled him through countless medical emergencies. He hadn’t even asked the boy’s name. Where was Kira, she would understand, she would forgive him. As he stood in the doorway, the flashing lights of the arriving ambulance seemed to be screaming with him.
Three days later, the aneurysm would change both their lives forever.

~ by tenmiles on August 31, 2005.

3 Responses to “112541564084117777”

  1. Oh you bugger you! This is marvellous, truly. Wonderful direction, atmosphere, just enough dialogue … and I’m so glad you turned focus back to Mike. Wicked. “Moonfox” …. 🙂

  2. As I suspected, worth the wait…

    Really enjoyed the twist with the bracelet. I’ve got to go read this again as I’m sure I’ll find even more to draw me in.

  3. That was great. Wasn’t this a good day for me 🙂 New job, new addition to the story.

    And I agree with Luke, great to focus back on Mike.

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