Pairings/Characters (this chapter): Roy/Johnnny, Hank Stanley, Chet Kelly, Joe O’Hanrahan, Serina Ashby, Henry, Marco Lopez, Mike Stoker, Max Bradford, Rory Shannon
Genres: Challenge, Holiday, Horror
Rating (this chapter): PG-13
General Summary: Something Wicked This Way Waits.
Chapter Summary: Disturbing patterns begin to emerge.
Date Of Completion: October 22, 2010
Date Of Posting: November 29, 2010
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, Universal and Mark VII Limited do, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1169
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Notes: Written for my 2010 Station_51 Emergency! Fic/Art Halloween Challenge. :)
The entire series can be found here.
Dappled with lemon,
Shaded with gold.
The men of Station 51’s A-Shift trudged wearily from the engine and squad to the kitchen. The rescue had been a rough one, involving a lot of climbing up-and-down a rocky cliffside and a close call with the burning vehicle. At least the victim had a good chance of survival.
“Oh, man,” groaned Johnny. “I could use some of your chili, Marco.”
“Smells like you’ve already got a batch simmering.” Hank frowned.
“What the…?” Johnny stopped short, Chet walking into him.
“Hey, Gage, why don’t you call your stops?”
“Chet, you givin’ Johnny a hard time?”
Joe O’Hanrahan’s cheerful voice greeted the tired firefighters.
“Hey, Joe, what you’ve got cookin’ smells great,” Roy said enthusiastically. He went over to the stove and sniffed the vapors coming from the pot on the stove.
“Thanks, Roy. Can’t have Marco and Chet hogging all the chili glory.”
Hank laughed. “You’ve got stiff competition there, Joe.”
“Hopefully, we’ll get a chance to eat this,” Johnny said.
“Yeah, it’s been a crazy day.” Chet took a seat. Joe had already set the table. “In need of more stories?”
The back door opened and a beautiful young woman walked in. She was tall with all the right curves, dressed in a black turtleneck shirt and Capri pants. Her hair was long and jet-black, and a silver pendant glinted in the sunlight. Her eyes were a deep green, the final touch to her striking features.
The men’s eyes widened. They watched her walk over to the couch and pet Henry, the basset hound rolling over so that she could rub his tummy.
Wow, ol’ Joe has done all right for himself, Johnny thought.
“Oh, Serina, dear, meet the boys.” Joe reeled off their names. “Boys, this is Serina Ashby, the owner of The Celtic Moon.”
Serina washed her hands at the sink, then shook everyone’s hands, taking the seat next to Joe. “We’ve found out some interesting things during our research.”
“Oh?” Hank asked as Marco began ladling out the chili.
“Yes. I was looking through some old records and found a peculiar pattern.” She smiled as Marco put a bowl of chili in front of her.
Serina nodded. She took a bite of chili. “Mmm, Joe, you haven’t lost your touch.”
Johnny wondered if Joe would have been so chummy with the lovely Serina if he wasn’t a widow.
Oh, stop it, Gage! Can’t fault a guy for liking a pretty woman around, though I’d sure be more interested if I didn’t have Roy.
He savored the spicy chili, glad that the klaxons were holding off. He swore that his stomach was always a little off when he worked with all the interruptions.
“We found that 1616 Culpepper Street is a site of unusual occurrences.”
“How so?” asked Roy.
Serina crumbled Saltine crackers into her bowl. “The site held the Endicott Arms in 1914.” She smiled as Joe pushed over a stoppered jar of crushed red pepper flakes.
“Didn’t you say that the building burned down, Joe?” asked Chet.
“Yeah.” Joe sipped his water. “It burned on Halloween.”
“The Hawthorne Hotel was built on the site,” Serina continued. “And burned down in 1934.” She took a sip of water, too. “On Halloween.”
“Wow, that is spooky.” Marco held a piece of bread over his bowl.
“It gets spookier.” Serina’s emerald eyes glittered. “The next structure built on the site, an apartment building, burned down in 1954…”
“…on Halloween,” Cheat and Marco said together.
She nodded. “Like clockwork.”
“Every twenty years,” Roy observed.
“There’s some other strange patterns, too,” said Joe.
“Like what?” Chet broke a piece of bread in half.
“We’ll tell you after dinner.”
The tones sounded and the engine and squad were called out for an unknown-type rescue. By the time they returned, Joe and Serina had cleaned up. A tape recorder was on the table.
“Everything okay?” Joe asked.
“Guy had fallen in a ditch. It took us awhile, but we got him out,” said Roy.
“What’s the tape recorder about?” asked Chet.
“We interviewed one of the men from 116s who was there the night of the Halloween fire in 1954.” Joe sipped his coffee. “He’s got some interesting things to say. He’s Max Bradford, who was one of the best hose guys around.”
The men got cups of coffee and sat around the table, Joe pushing the ‘Play’ button.
A gravelly-voiced man who sounded as if he’d smoked too many cigarettes began to speak…
“Yeah, I was there the night of October 31, 1954. The Shamrock Apartments were on fire, and my company got called out. My partner, Rory Shannon, and me went inside ‘cuz there were still people in the building.
“The first floor was fully involved to the left, and Rory and I had time to shinny up the stairs and start checkin’.” Max coughed, a smoke-eater’s cough after too many years on the job. “The smoke was startin’ to come up the stairs. We really had to hoof it down the hall. Rory went ahead of me, and I found an old woman in one of the rooms, so brought her out.” Max coughed again. “By the time I got back, I couldn’t see him. Smoke was everywhere. I called for him, but he didn’t answer. Then I heard music.”
“Music?” It was Serina’s voice.
“Yes, ma’am. Irish music, y’know? Like ya hear on St. Patrick’s Day.”
“Go on, Mr. Bradford.”
“I started runnin’ down the hall, and heard him call for a little girl. Then I saw Rory back out of the room at the end of the hall. I thought…”
There was silence for a few minutes, then Serina gently prodded, “What, sir?”
“I thought he looked…terrified.”
Again there was silence on the tape, then Max started talking again.
“The room flashed over. I barely made it out with my skin. Rory…he didn’t make it.”
Joe shut off the recorder.
“Strange story,” said Hank.
“It’s even stranger.” Joe rested a hand on the back of his chair. “I read through the reports of the other fires. The witnesses said they heard Irish music, and then there was a flashover.”
Serina fingered her pendant. Johnny noticed that it was in the shape of a moon. Tiny emerald chips glittered, embedded in the silver surface.
“Man, that’s spooky,” said Chet.
“Yes.” Joe rubbed his chin. “It sure was strange, these stories told twenty years apart, and very similar.”
“Eerily similar,” said Mike.
Johnny felt uneasy. He looked up from his coffee cup and found Serina looking at him with those piercing eyes. His insides quivered as he remembered hauntingly-beautiful music in his dreams. Irish music.
Roy was quiet, too, staring into the depths of his coffee cup.
Johnny’s throat constricted, a sense of dread closing around his heart.
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