This is an amateur, non-commercial story, which is not produced, approved of, or in any way sponsored by the holders of the trademarks/copyrights from which this work is derived, nor is it intended to infringe on the rights of these holders. And so it goes.


an Emergency! tale by Jeff Morris

It was all a matter of sitting across the street in their beat-up VW van, watching the station and waiting. The paramedics had gone out on solo runs four times that morning, but it wasn't until 3:30 that everybody rolled out of the garage with sirens wailing. The instant the big engine had vanished from view, the four teenage boys and their female compatriot jumped out of their vehicle and trotted over to the firehouse.

Steve, their strategist, led the way up the driveway to the back of the building. While Tony and Donny checked the cars for goodies, Hank and Janny got to work on the back door. Their expertise paid off in seconds; the door flew open and they crept inside. Donny finished filling his garbage back from the stuff he'd found in a beat-up Range Rover and followed his buddies in.

The lockers were first on the list. Janny called dibs on them, handing whatever she could find to Hank. The young lovers grinned at each other as they snatched up jewelry, banged-up cameras, and a host of other trinkets. Meanwhile, Steve headed over to the tool cases, carefully picking anything he might need for the vintage Mustang he was overhauling. Nearby, Donny slammed the captain's office door open with one shoulder smack and rummaged about in there while Tony went into the sleeping area.

The thieves regrouped several minutes later. "We done?" Steve asked, keeping a wary glance at the garage door. There was no telling if the call had been genuine or fake, which meant time was of the essence if they were to make a clean getaway.

"We didn’t check the other side out yet," Janny pointed out, nodding toward the day room. She started to lead the boys in, but a low, menacing growl from inside froze her in her tracks.

"You didn't say nothin' about a dog, Stevie," she said, her voice trembling.

"I didn't know they had a dog," their ostensible leader replied.

"I thought firemen had those white and black dogs in their stations. Y'know, like the ones you see on TV," Donny said, scratching his head in bewilderment. "Y'know…damnations?"

"You dorks," Hank snorted. "If there was a real dog, don't you think he'd have been out here by now? Come on, baby." He grabbed Janny's arm and dragged her into the day room, followed reluctantly by the others.

There, sitting on a battered leather sofa was the meanest-looking basset hound ever seen by man. A low, angry growl slid past bared teeth. It looked ready to strike at any second.

"Jesus," Hank snorted. "All that noise from a fat, lazy dog whose gut is so big its feet never hit the ground. You guys still ready to wet your pants?"

"I dunno, lover," Janny said, backing away slightly. "He looks pretty pissed."

"Oh yeah," Tony snickered, his braggadocio slowly returning. "He might just bite our kneecaps if we're not careful. Come on, Donny. Let's see if there's anything to eat in the fridge."

The basset tensed, its growl growing deeper and more threatening. Its eyes seemed to glow in a crimson fury as it regarded the invaders of its sanctuary.

"Oooh, I'm so scared of the big bad doggie!" roared Hank. The others joined in, laughing hysterically at the dog, which simply continued to stare at them and growl.

And then it ate them.


"Cap, you better come here," Stoker called. The others had been checking their cars and lockers, yelling in dismay as they discovered their personal possessions missing. Captain Stanley, who had found his personal stash of candy bars half eaten--every single bar half-eaten--shook his head sadly and led his men to the day room.

"Man, this stinks," Gage said to DeSoto. "We're out there risking our necks to save lives, and people would go and do something like this to us. I mean, it makes you wonder why you bother."

"I know, Junior." DeSoto's wedding ring, the one Joanne had bought with the proceeds of eight months of typing term papers while pregnant, was gone. He didn't know how he was going to break the news to her.

"What is it, Mike…. Good Lord, what is that smell?" Cap waved his hand in front of his face to ward off an unmistakably heady cloud of methane. "John, Marco--open some windows." He spotted the bags at Stoker's feet and blinked. "Mike, is that what I think it is?"

"Looks like it's all our stuff." Stoker opened one bag; Gage's old camera and DeSoto's wedding band came into view.

"John, call the police," Cap ordered. "Let's leave everything alone until they get here. Maybe they can figure out what happened." Gage nodded and headed for the phone, squinting and fanning the air as he walked.

"Wonder what happened to our thieves?" Cap mused, rubbing his chin thoughtfully.

"They must have heard us coming back and run," Lopez said.

"Maybe Henry scared 'em off." Kelly walked over to the sofa and gave the basset a head scratch. The dog wagged its tail in happy response. "I told you he'd be a great guard dog, you know, but none of you would believe me."

"Oh, sure," Gage snorted. "They came in, took one look at him on the couch, and just ran in the opposite direction." At that moment, the dog ripped off a particularly loud, wet fart, and everyone winced as the smell spread across the room.

"If he's been doing that for awhile," DeSoto noted, "I can see why they left as fast as they could."

"Wow," Kelly gasped as the odor hit his nostrils. "What have you guys been feeding this poor dog? He hasn't been this bad since he had some of Bellingham's beef stew."

"I don't know, but it sure disagreed with him." Cap shook his head. "Chet, see if you can't get that animal outside and let him work it out of his system. Everyone else, let's go out front and wait for Vince to show, okay?"

There was unanimous, enthusiastic assent, and the men of 51 got out of the day room as fast as they could. Only Chet stayed behind, patting Henry affectionately and scratching the dog behind his ears. "You got rid of 'em, didn't you, boy? I know you did, 'cause you're a good dog, aren't you?"

Henry wagged his tail and belched contentedly in reply.