The sound of a hand dryer blowing intensified as Claudia jerked the woman’s restroom door open. Darting through, she dashed around the corner to her cube. The breeze she created knocked over a small display reminding people to update their certifications. Her wrist panel blinked and the small graphs showed spikes in Dare’s vitals.
In a horse whisper she spat, “Crap, crap crap.” Zig-zagging through the four people in her way, she looked down at her panel. The lines jump another four numbers.
“EMT Hernandez deploying to transport Dare,” she shouted as she lunged toward the turbo elevators. A door slid open and she skidded to a halt, banging on the far wall. Her finger jabbed the Launch Bay button and then she held on.
The elevator doors clanged shut as Claudia gripped the support bar. Her bushy gingerbread-colored hair floated around her head. She pinched her nose and closed her eyes. The elevator dinged as the countdown display reached LB. Her knees flexed and she lowered closer to the floor as the elevator stopped. Once the doors clanged open she staggered out and moved to the lines on the floor.
“I hate that thing,” she said.
Taking a second to focus the power she was born with, Claudia grew. Her legs lengthened as did her arms. Both her torso and head increased in comparison. Clearing the threshold of the large bay doors, Claudia cycled through another growth spurt. Her height expanded and put her head to the middle of the third floor.
“That should do it,” she said and glanced at her wrist panel, now the size of a large flat screen TV. The map showed she was two miles away from her patient. Tucking her chin to her chest, she leaned forward and pumped her legs and arms. On a back stroke, her hand grazed her belt and a siren emitted from a hidden speaker. The red and strobe lights blazed in their eye catching pattern.
Her long legs put her at the end of the block in under two seconds. She stepped and pivoted to make the turn at the intersection and poured on the speed. Every third block she checked her map. At her speed she ate up the distance quickly.
Slowing at the top of the block, she willed herself smaller and decreased her size. Instead of stopping at the midpoint, she kept going to her normal height.
Her inertia carried her into the far wall, and she redirected into the alley. She cut her eyes to the wrist panel and she saw her icon, a blue dot, approaching a red icon, her patient. The vitals showed little change. Touching her belt, the light and sirens shut off.
“Dare,” Claudia called out. “I’m EMT Hernandez from Special-” Her words stopped at the back of her mouth.
“Easy there,” a voice said. “I was here first. She has contusions and a broken bone.” Claudia approached and saw another person hunched over the prone form of Dare. “I need you to go to the ambulance at the end of the alley.” A gloved hand pointed to the far end of the alley. “Get the gurney and bring it-” The person’s words halted as he saw Claudia and stood.
“This is my patient,” Claudia said. “Dare has a contract with Special Delivery for all EMT services.”
“Funny,” the other person said. His light blue shirt with EMT logos on it showed in the dull glow of a security light twenty feet away. “I’m an EMT, too. I got here first. Now, if you’ll excuse me.” He reached into a holster on his belt and pulled out a pair of scissors.
“What are you gonna do-”
The EMT folded his knees, lowering to the body on the pavement.
“No!” Claudia shouted as she advanced on the scene. “You can’t.”
“I need to,” he said. “She has a swollen eye and busted lip. If I don’t get a better look at her, she might die.”
“You’ll know who she is,” Claudia said and gripped the man’s shoulder and pulled. He rolled with the force and sat hard on his rump.
“You can trust me,” the man said with a smile up at Claudia. “I’m an EMT. Patient confidentiality.”
“Doesn’t exist,” she said. “That’s for Doctors.”
With a blinding jerk, the man produced a gun and pointed it at Claudia. “Look. I’m gonna save her life. Then I’m gonna be a hero.”
“That’s sick,” Claudia said. “EMTs are already considered heroes. It’s in the job description.”
“You don’t get it,” the man said. “We get called the murders and car crashes. We see all sorts of horror.”
“Yeah,” Claudia said. “I’ve done that job. I agree, it’s terrible.”
“Well,” the man said and licked his lips. “Then you know we don’t ever out names in the papers. No notoriety at all. Nothing to capitalize on. Just a lousy pay check and nightmares.”
Holding her hands up, Claudia nodded. “You’re right. I’m just like you.”
“No way,” the man said and shook his head. “You’re nothing like me. You got a cushy job and all sort of high tech gadgets.”
“That isn’t what makes us special,” she said and swallowed hard. The pun was unintentional. “When we show up it always involves super heroes. With super heroes come super villains. As a regular EMT I’ve been shot at. Working for Special Delivery, I’ve been blasted, teleported away, and even once Anagram made me talk backwards. It sounded like normal talk to me, but to everyone else it was incomprehensible.”
“Yeah,” Claudia said as she inched closer. “Imagine talking on the radio and they can’t understand you.”
“OK,” the man said. “That would suck. I see they fixed it.”
His gun hand relaxed, making the muzzle point to the side.
Claudia extended her arm and enlarged at the same time. Her hand expanded to the size of a dinning room table and pressed the man into the far wall. With a loud wumpf, the air left the man’s lung and his eyes went wide.
Relaxing her hold on the man, Claudia bent down and scooped up her patient. Checking the vitals read out showed nothing had worsened.
“There’s another reason we’re special,” Claudia said as the man shifted to all fours. “We know the meaning of professionalism and patient care. It seems you’ve forgot that.”
Cradling Dare, Claudia took off for an alley opening. She kept her growth going and cleared a block in a single stride. After five steps, she touched her earbud. “Control, the is EMT Hernandez. I’m approaching Downtown General. Have a gurney ready.”
“Understood EMT,” the female electro voice of control said.
Claudia stepped into the parking lot of Downtown General and shrunk to her normal height, placing Dare on a gurney as she did.
Claudia took her time getting back to Special Delivery. Once there she filled out her report.
“I take it you had trouble,” Malcolm Forsyth said as he rolled to her table in the break room.
“Yes and no,” Claudia said as she looked up from her dessert.
“You have my attention,” Malcolm said and leaned on an armrest.
“I’ve had to deal with other supers on the scene,” Claudia said. “Even a few hysterical patients.” Malcolm nodded and smiled. “This was the first time I had to deal with another EMT.”
Leaning forward, Malcolm gripped his armrests. “What? Another EMT? Who? You had to know who they were. Were they off duty or something?”
“Not one from here,” Claudia said as she held up a hand. “A regular EMT. He was burnt out.”
“Oh,” Malcolm said. “I’ve never been a regular EMT, so I don’t know what that means.”
“You have,” Claudia said. “It’s just like what we do, only they don’t save superheroes. And that is the difference. Typically, a super powered person will survive. Very rarely do they die of wounds.”
“It happens,” Malcolm said. “I was there.”
“Oh,” Claudia said. “I believe you. However, it is the other way around in the regular side. Patients are maimed or die within a few weeks. It’s sad and hard. You work your ass off to save them and get them to the hospital. It seems like it’s not worth it. A mentor told me once to work for the one.”
“Yeah,” Claudia said. “The one that will make it. It’s worth it. You save that one life and they just go on to live a regular life. It makes you feel good. Nothing compares to it.”
Smiling, Malcolm looked at her. “I don’t know. I flew once. No wings or nothing.”
Laughing, Claudia stood. “I think that’s called falling.”