Through the Floor
I crept around the corner, peering down at the floor below, where Pixie stood, washing the appliance and humming to herself. It had been a hectic day so far, and we’d only been back for about half an hour, but ‘project surprise’ was underway, and only a few minutes from touchdown. Keeping as quiet as I could, I tiptoed back towards the kitchen, swinging the door open and joining the others grouped around the table.
“Alright, she’s still downstairs. How’re we doing?”
“Presents are all set.” Cain said, piling a bundle of wrapped gifts onto the table.
“Coming through!” Heidi announced, parting the crowd as she walked forward with a huge, beautiful, pastel coloured, pixie themed, birthday cake.
“Right, places. I’ll go call her up.” I grinned, darting back towards the door, hearing everyone scrambling into place behind me.
Back out on the landing, I crossed to the edge and shouted down to her:
She turned around, her expression immediately turning thunderous.
“Heidi needs a hand in the kitchen, can you come up?”
She threw the sponge from her hand, leaving it to land on the back step of the appliance.
“Are you kidding me?” She shouted. “You guys all ditched me to finish up here, you help her!”
I had to fight down a laugh at the fury in her voice, she always did look remarkably cute when she was angry. We’d let her believe that we’d forgotten all day long, and it appeared to have done the trick.
“I can’t, we’re having a competition in the gym. Just get up here, please. I’ll owe you one.”
“Thanks!” I cut her off, hastening back to the kitchen, and running inside, switching the lights off as I ran. “She’s coming.”
We could hear her footsteps getting nearer, the sound of her muttering under her breath becoming louder, until the door thudded open:
“What the-” She started.
We held our positions, as she stepped into the room, the click of the lightswitch being our signal to leap out, and shout:
Her responding yelp, was soon smothered into silence as we barged her and swept her up into a group hug.
“You assholes.” She sobbed, getting teary when we released her and she saw the cake and gifts. “I thought you’d forgotten.”
“We know. Was sort of the point.” Dodger added sarcastically from the side, patting her affectionately on the shoulder.
She threw him a scathing look, before giving in and laughing as he pulled her into a hug.
Sitting at the table, she tore into the presents, the stack of wrapping paper falling to the floor as the tower of gifts got taller. With a quick birthday toast, we all got comfortable, slicing the cake and digging in.
“What are you and Johnny doing to celebrate?” I asked, taking a bite of the cake, a strong and delicious lemon tang hitting my tongue in an instant.
“Nothing. Not until the weekend anyway.” She sighed, sounding disheartened. “He’s on doubles until then.
“Well, I’m sure he’s got something up his sleeve for then.” I smiled.
“Who we talking about?” Will chimed in, coming up behind us and grabbing another slice of cake.
“The boy in blue.”
Pixie let out an exasperated sigh at my side, sweeping her hair out of her face. She glared at us with the familiar disapproval she often wore when we discussed Johnny.
“Come on, do we really have to do this every time?” She whined.
“Aww, but you know we tease him out of love.” Dodger added, sweeping in from nearby.
“Really?” She asked.
The three of us exchanged looks, grinning as we turned back towards her.
“Nahhhh.” We replied in unison.
The responding laughter was drowned out by the sound of the bell, and with a loud groan, we all dragged ourselves up, running down to the appliances, climbing on boars, and heading out into the night.
Arriving at the nightclub we’d been called to, the first thing that could be heard was the screams. The dull thudding of music was still pouring from the open doors to the club. The street had been cordoned off by the police officers that were already on scene. A bunch of them were guiding injured parties to the nearby paramedics, or helping them across the street, away from danger.
“Will, grab the tools,” Alex said as he studied the scene. “Let’s get in there.”
We started forward, sidestepping the casualties. We’d almost reached the doors, when a copper walked out in front of us, his brown hair and familiar face were flecked in a light coat of dust, and blood tinged the front of his uniform.
“Johnny?” Pixie shouted, rushing forwards and into her boyfriend’s arms.
“Cassie, I’m okay.” He soothed her reassuringly as we looked on.
He peeled her off him with a gentle chuckle, sighing as she cupped his face and looked him over, searching for any signs of injury.
“You’re covered in blood? You’re hurt?” She gasped.
“It’s not mine,” He assured her, looking past her towards the rest of us. “I’m glad you’re all here, it’s a mess in there.”
That much was obvious, judging from the people still exiting the building. The majority of the walking wounded appeared to have minor injuries to limbs, occasionally someone being assisted with a head wound.
“What happened?” Dodger asked.
“Balcony collapse.” Johnny answered, “The club was reopening tonight, they refurbished a few months back, tonight was set to be a big hit. Looks like they didn’t pay attention to how many people they allowed in.”
“Or looked the other way and let them in anyway.” I mumbled.
Johnny nodded, shrugging slightly.
“I wouldn’t be surprised, this place has a record with incidents. It’s packed in there. Too many were on the balcony, it gave out underneath them. We’ve evacuated most of them,” He stepped aside to let a fellow officer past with a staggering woman. “Evacuation is ongoing, but we’ve got two people known to be trapped, and one fatality so far.”
“Alright, thanks.” Alex replied. “Will, get that music off, and then I want you, Sam and Pixie to search for any other casualties. Rebel, you and Dodger, and Rosie and Hustler, get to work on freeing those that are trapped. Jax, you’re with me.”
With our orders clear, we entered the building. I’d barely made it into the room, before a complication arose.
“What is it?”
I squinted in the glare from the neon lights, and pointed up ahead.
His eyes scanned the room, following the direction that I was indicating. I heard him groan and hiss out a curse under his breath as he saw what I was pointing to.
“Looks like it caught that beam when it gave out, it’s taken the lighting rig with it. It’s not going to hold long, and it’s too far out of reach for support beams.” I explained, looking around for inspiration.
“But we might be able to buy some time if we secure it with a line.” Alex mumbled in thought.
He turned to Jax, who understood and dashed from the building. “We’ll secure it from the second floor, you guys work fast, but be careful.”
“Sub.” We all replied, splitting into our teams.
I locked eyes with Lacey for just a second as we parted ways, taking the opportunity to mouth:
“Help… please?” A woman’s sobbing voice got louder as me and Dodger closed in on our casualty.
We scrambled over the broken tables, bits of debris, and railings until we stopped at her side. Her blonde hair was dark red at the roots on the right side of her head, a cut to her scalp clearly visible.
“It’s okay, we’re gonna get you out.” Dodger assured her, rounding to the other side and crouching down, whilst I checked her over for other injuries.
Her arms bore some minor scratches, but the biggest concern was her right leg that was trapped under a large concrete beam, and half of the remnants of the balcony that was now standing vertically between the two storeys. I felt her leg, hearing her wince as my hands moved along the sides. Her shoe was missing, and her ankle was swollen and bruised.
“We’re gonna need a backboard in here, and an airbag.” I told Dodger, who nodded and made his way back towards the entrance.
The young woman began to panic, her breathing speeding up and tears rolling from the corners of her eyes as she frantically attempted to move.
“Whoa, it’s okay. Stay still for me.” I said slowly, taking hold of her shoulders and calmly pressing her back down. “My name’s Bane, what’s yours?”
“Piper… Piper Greenwood.”
“Okay Piper, I need you to keep nice and still for me alright.” She nodded, her tears coming faster. “This beam is keeping you trapped, but my colleague’s bringing back something to help us get you free.”
“My leg, it hurts. That’s a good thing right? I mean, that I can feel it?” She asked in a panicked tone.
“They’ll check you over at the hospital, but it looks like you’ve broken it, and sprained your ankle. You should be back out and dancing soon enough.” I smiled at her.
Relief flooded her eyes, and she reached out a hand.
“Thank you.” She wept.
I took hold of her hand, laying it back at her side, still holding it, whilst I heard the sound of Dodger approaching us again.
Turning to face him, I could make out something sticking out from under the railing of the balcony. I looked harder and could make out an arm, then the strap of a dress. Not wanting to scare Piper, I silently signalled him to look. He caught the drift, and detoured towards the woman, crouching low and pressing his fingers to her inner wrist. He paused for a few seconds, but then straightened back up, marking the place, and shaking his head. My eyes closed and I felt that same pang that always hit whenever someone was lost.
Regaining focus, I helped Dodger clear a path to lay the backboard down, and fit the neck brace, then set up the airbag under the beam, attempting to keep as much clear as possible, and shield Piper from any possible falling debris.
“Alright, on three.” I said firmly, whilst he secured a grip on her. “One… two… three.”
As the airbag expanded, and the beam rose enough to free her leg, we pulled her onto the board, and stopped the inflation, hearing the creaking of the straining debris ease off, as it stilled once more.
My mind strayed to thoughts of Lacey as we climbed over the trashed dancefloor, following the path that we took to get in, the backboard stretched between us with Piper safely strapped in. The lighting rig groaned under the strain of falling and being tied back at the same time, and a chunk of flooring fell, crashing down onto the mass pile of shattered balcony.
“Knight and Olsen reporting Sub, we’re clear, casualty secured, and on our way out, over.” I radioed in, navigating a way over a collection of bar stools.
“Received Rebel.” Alex replied.
“We’re good here too, Sub. On the way out now.” Cain’s voice rattled over the radio.
I felt myself let out a sigh of relief at the confirmation they were okay. It was beginning to become my biggest fear whenever we were apart, that something would happen, and I wouldn’t see her again. I felt as though I couldn’t breathe until I laid eyes on her again and was sure that nothing had harmed her. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough, as I already looked forward to seeing her on the outside again.