Rollie Tyler stretched and shut the alarm off before it could ring. He sat up with a smile. In a few days it would be Easter. He loved Easter, the chocolate candy was his favorite part of it. Of course, the "cute" little bunnies being his least favorite, not surprising because all Aussies felt that way after what the rabbits brought over from Europe had done to the native flora and fauna, eating the food and spreading disease making several native species go extinct. Rollie shook off the thoughts as he climbed out of bed and headed for the shower. Wonder if Ange and Luce are enjoying their Easter vacation in the Bahamas? After his shower he went in search of breakfast, to his surprise the fridge and pantry were stocked making him chuckle at Angie's sneakiness. He gratefully pulled out eggs, milk and bread and made french toast which he devoured with relish. After refilling his coffee cup he went up to the roof where the sun was shining. He had a feeling this day was going to be interesting.
As if fate was listening, the brewery shook slightly making him frown and wonder if there had been an earthquake. He started to move toward the door when he caught smoke rising several blocks away. He quickly hurried inside and turned on the television. 'We have a crew on the way there now. Again, if you are just joining us, there has been some type of explosion at Holy Cross Protestant Church. We have no details at this time but we do know there was a service taking place this Good Friday morning so there may be several victims------'
That was all Rollie needed to hear, he turned the t.v. off, grabbed a few things and took off in the van.
"Captain Van Duran, Rollie Tyler is asking for permission to come up, says he has equipment that could help locate victims." One of the officers relayed.
Van Duran sighed and looked to the Fire Chief who was in charge.
"If he can help find these people bring him up." The man nodded.
"Clear a path for him." Van Duran ordered.
The officer nodded and relayed the order.
It wasn't long before they espied the brown van with the white and red FX logo.
"Captain." Rollie nodded to him as he joined them. "Rollie Tyler." He introduced himself to the Fire Chief.
"Tom Bergoni, I've heard of you. Help the police here and there. If you've got a way to the vics I'm all ears. As you can see, we've got six damaged buildings, the church the obvious focal point."
Even a block away Rollie could see the church was pretty much rubble...and somewhere within people could be clinging to life.
"Let me show you what I have." He said after a moment and led them to the van, passing an older couple who clearly were waiting word on a loved one.
The Fire Chief looked at the interior of the van and shook his head, boggled by what he saw.
Rollie opened a cabinet and pulled out what appeared to be a small robotic spider, about the size of a tarantula, along with a remote control. "This is Bill, he's basically a miniaturized camera. Hold this." He handed Bill to Van Duran and flipped a monitor on. A moment later they saw Rollie's image appear. "Bill can do a full 360°," he demonstrated, "up and down." He showed them.
"Get in places we can't," The Chief nodded appreciatively. "He run on batteries?"
"Charger, he's full of juice for two hours before we need to pull him out and he only takes twenty minutes to recharge."
"This is exactly what we need." The Chief nodded looking the robot over.
"Can you get me a map of the church?"
"Brodski, bring that map to the brown van." The Chief requested into his walkie-talkie then stepped out the door and waited.
"What's that?" Van Duren asked as Rollie pulled another item from a drawer.
The Chief handed the delivered map to the FX man and Rollie scanned it. The image came up on the computer screen as a three dimensional image.
"Okay, let's get Bill in there." The Aussie said and they went to where the church entrance had stood. Once Rollie put him down they headed back to the van and guided it inside.
"What's that?" Van Duran squinted at the screen fifteen minutes later.
"This is Bergoni, we have a vic....or part of one anyway." He spoke into his radio.
Rollie swallowed, the thought of someone being blown apart made his stomach churn. Creating severed limbs for the cameras was one thing but when it was real...
The victim was just inside the doors so it didn't take long to find him.
"Chief, you'd better come look at this." Came over the Chief's radio.
Van Duran went with the fireman while Rollie continued Bill's descent. He watched the screen looking for any signs of life...and was rewarded.
"Can you hear me?" Rollie asked hitting the mic. icon on the screen.
"Who------?" The woman started coughing.
"Just hang on, they'll get you out."
"My daughter----" She sobbed.
Rollie stepped to the door of the van and told one of the officers to let them know he'd found another one and the officer hurried away while Rollie marked the woman's position on the 3-D image.
"I'm going to try and locate your daughter. What's her name?"
"Okay, just hang on."
"Thank you." She whispered tearfully. "May God bless you."
Rollie swallowed the lump in his throat and moved Bill away from her. He reasoned that the girl had been sitting beside her mother when the explosion occured which meant she was probably close to her mother now. The light on Bill was piercing to the dark and made it easier to determine what was debris...and what was not.
"Where's the vic?' The Chief asked as they rejoined him.
"Here." Rollie pointed on the map. "I'm looking for her daughter now."
"Damn bastard!" Van Duren cursed startling Rollie.
"Our first vic had the remains of a bomb on him." The Chief sighed wearily.
"Someone blew up the church?!?" Rollie was stunned.
"Yeah." Van Duran answered grimly.
Rollie forced himself back to his task, fervently hoping the bomber was the only one who perished by his own hand.
"There!" The Chief pointed at the screen.
"Can you hear me?" Rollie asked gently.
"Mommy." The girl sobbed.
"Is your name Chrissy?"
"We know where your mommy is, we're going to get you both out." Rollie promised and marked the map for the girl.
"I'm scared." She admitted.
"I know you are. When I get scared I think of home and it makes me feel better. Do you want to tell me about home?" Rollie asked as the Chief and his men made to rescue them both.
Rollie pulled Bill out once the rescuers reached mother and daughter. The going would be a little easier since the fire department had cleared out a bit of debris. He left the van while Bill was recharging and personally saw mother and daughter removed. He filed that sight away in his mind knowing he might need it in the days to come, when finding another living human being might become more difficult.
His brown eyes met the green ones of Chrissy and she smiled at him as she was placed into the ambulance. He sighed intending to file that away too.
"Figured you could use this."
He turned to see Van Duran holding a cup of coffee out to him.
"Thanks." Rollie nodded accepting it.
"I don't like civilians in police work...but sometimes they can make a difference."
Rollie hid his smile in the cup. Close as I'll ever get to a 'thanks' from the man. He turned at the beep from the charger and disconnected Bill then sent it back into the ruined church again.
Rollie awoke slowly. He didn't remember falling asleep even.
"Morning." Frank looked over and smiled.
"What are you doing here?" Rollie stretched.
"My turn to man Bill."
"How long have I been out?"
"Just about six hours." Frank consulted his watch. "They've got food and coffee."
"Thanks." Rollie stood. "Find anyone else?"
"Reverend Tulle and two others...all three were dead."
"Why did he do it?" Rollie shook his head ruefully.
"We're talking to his family and friends to figure that out." The cop sighed.
"I'll be back." Rollie said after a few moments.
Rollie left the van and got a cup of coffee and plate of eggs. He sat on the steps of the van and ate. His eyes wandered to the crowd. There were dozens of reporters milling around and he shook his head. A couple of firemen passed and nodded to him, as though he was one of them and he felt honored. His eyes fell upon the older couple from the day before. Neither looked as if they had slept much and Rollie's heart went out to them. He didn't know who they were waiting for but he silently vowed to find them, maybe not alive but they would be found.
"WE GOT ONE!"
Rollie hurried inside the van and looked at the monitor.
"Left wing, by the restrooms." Frank spoke into the walkie-talkie.
"Sir, can you hear us?" Rollie inquired through Bill's mic.
There was no reply and the men exchanged a look.
It took over an hour to extricate the body in which time Rollie recharged Bill.
"I've been dying to ask....why is he named Bill?" Frank wondered.
"Oh...well...there was this movie about a tarantula that basically spun a web around a whole town and it starred William Shatner." Rollie shrugged with a half smile.
"You've got a weird sense of humor." Frank chuckled.
"I yam what I yam." Rollie replied in a Popeye voice.
"Hey guys." Mira joined them.
"All yours." Frank said and headed for the door.
"See you." She replied while Rollie nodded bye. "Heard you had a DOA." She said once they were alone.
"Yeah." Rollie nodded grimly. "Least he wasn't theirs."
"That older couple, they were here yesterday." He pointed to them.
"Rollie, don't you know who that is?" She asked surprised.
"It's that Televangelist, Cliff Cooper, and his wife!"
"Oh." He replied. The man meant nothing to him other than the name being familiar.
"Yeah. So who do they have in there?" He asked, eyes going to the woman. She looked so worried and he felt a sudden ache for her.
"Their son. He came to New York with them to attend some conferences. He was at the Good Friday mass. That's the reason for all the press too. They're waiting for word on Daniel Cooper."
"I hope we find him alive." Rollie sighed and turned as Bill beeped. He set him back to the task of finding survivors...or bodies.
The day had been a long one with only two more bodies recovered and with great insistance from Mira and Frank he went home to sleep in his own bed, feeling guilty that the remaining survivors, he could think of them no other way, wouldn't have the luxuries he did tonight, but once his head hit the pillow he fell into a deep sleep...and dreamed.
Rollie frowned as he watched the retreating back of the younger boy. Luther Cale had befriended me too...then he tried to kill me! I bet his house is nice and his mom probably bakes cookies for him. I miss you so much mum. Tears filled his eyes and he quickly dashed them away as the boy opened the door. "Where ya goin'?"
"I'm just a kid, remember!"
"I'll come to your house if ya want, okay?"
The boy stopped at the open door and looked at him.
"We gotta finish here first." Rollie held out the broom to him.
The boy slowly came back and took it.
"Tell me about Australia." He requested and started to sweep.
"Don't even know your name." Rollie eyed him.
Rollie rolled over and his eyes opened. He started to stretch when the last part of his dream replayed in his head.
"DANIEL!" He shouted and jumped out of bed. He quickly dressed, dug through his trunk and sped off in the Acura back to the site.
"Did they find him?!?"
"Who?" Frank asked befuddled.
"Daniel! Did they find Daniel?!?"
"Daniel? Daniel Cooper?"
"Move!" Rollie ordered practically pulling Frank out of the chair. He sat in front of the monitor and expertly manipulated Bill.
Frank watched for a moment then left, wondering what had just happened. He walked over to the food table and poured some coffee.
"Something wrong?" Mira asked pouring her own cup of java.
"I don't know..." Frank replied looking at the van then shrugged. "I'm gonna head back to the precinct."
Mira frowned as he left and looked toward the van herself. She walked over and looked in finding the Aussie absorbed in watching the screen. "Anything?"
"You need to eat."
"I know what you said, now I want to know if you ate---"
She sighed and called it in.
Rollie slowly worked Bill down the leg of the victim. The camera shook and ended up sideways.
"What happened?" She asked.
"They moved." He grinned at the screen and worked the controls righting the robot then turned the camera back the way Bill had come.
"Looks like the leg is pinned." Mira observed.
"Yeah." He agreed and turned the camera back the other way and slowly moved the robot along the person's body. "Hand is stuck under them." Rolle added. Bill slowly crept forward and found a face. It was bloody and they could see a closed eye. Rollie moved the bot slightly closer and must have jostled some rubble because it rained down on the person who started coughing then they moaned and their face became twisted with pain.
"Oh God! I'm so sorry!" He blanched and backed the bot off carefully.
Mira hurried out to inform the others of the location and injuries.
"Who's---" Another coughing fit interrupted them.
"Are you alright?" Rollie asked after it subsided.
"Oh...yeah..." They wheezed.
"They're gonna come get you out okay."
"Bet you are....Daniel?"
Rollie couldn't talk for a moment.
"You're gonna be okay." He promised.
"Spoken like the true son of a preacher." Rollie smiled.
"Tell them...I...love them."
"You can tell them when you get out. Bet your mum will bake chocolate chip cookies for you too."
Daniel didn't reply.
"Daniel? Daniel?!? Stay awake damnit!" Rollie nearly shouted.
"Shouldn't...curse." Daniel scolded.
"You stay awake and I won't!"
"I know you are. Do you want me to tell you a story?"
'You don't know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain't no matter. That book was made by Mr. Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly. There was things which he stretched, but mainly he told the truth. That is nothing. I never seen anybody but lied one time or another, without it was Aunt Polly, or the widow, or maybe Mary. Aunt Polly -- Tom's Aunt Polly, she is -- and Mary, and the Widow Douglas is all told about in that book, which is mostly a true book, with some stretchers, as I said before.'
Rollie read to Daniel for over an hour and a half before Bill's timer went off.
"I need to pull the camera out and recharge it." He said to Daniel.
"I'll be...okay...I can...hear...them."
"All right, you just hold on." He answered.
"Tell them I'm pulling Bill out." He requested of Mira who nodded and left to find the fire Chief.
While Bill's batteries were charging Rollie stood at the van entrance watching and waiting to see if they got Daniel out. After Bill beeped again Rollie set it back in the rubble to check the areas not gone through yet to find the other three missing people. An hour into the new search pattern he located someone and informed the Chief who sent a team in to determine how to extricate them. He again had to pull Bill out and was worried because Mira had said they were having trouble reaching Daniel. He returned Bill to the building where they found the last two victims over an hour later...Rollie knew they weren't coming out alive. Bill was removed again and the firefighters continued to work on getting Daniel and the last survivor out. It had taken nearly four days but they had located everyone. He closed the van door as he stepped out. Espying the firefighters carrying a litter, he knew held Daniel, he started for the ambulance when he was intercepted by Chief Bergoni who grabbed his hand and shook it firmly.
"Can't tell you how much your help was appreciated Mr. Tyler."
"The name is Rollie." He smiled.
"Tom. I'm giving you a citation."
"Yeah, your friends, Gatti and Sanchez said you'd say that." He chuckled.
Rollie shrugged and blushed then looked over at the ambulance as it drove off, sirens going.
"I'm sure the Coopers are very grateful."
"I'm just glad he's out...the others too."
They had pulled the last survivor out before Daniel, now they just had to dig the two bodies out.
"Why don't you go home, get some sleep." Tom advised seeing the glossiness in his eyes.
Rollie looked at the Acura and frowned.
"I'll drive it, Mira can follow." Frank said appearing.
Rollie nodded and silently handed him the keys feeling rather tired now. He led the way to the brewery where they parked the van and car.
"You did real good man." Frank gently clapped his back and smiled. "Now get some sleep."
"No worries Francis."
The pair of cops left and he trudged upstairs. He really wanted to go to the hospital but knew only family would be allowed in with Daniel at the moment so he decided to sleep and head over in the morning. Closing his eyes he smiled...I'll be reunited with my friend...and he fell asleep.
It was 7:30 and Rollie was nursing his coffee. He'd been up since 6 and had tried to get some work done but his mind kept going to Daniel. It had been twenty years since they'd last seen each other and Rollie wondered if his life was the way he'd hoped all those years ago. So much to catch up on, he smiled and reached for his coffee when a terrible thought occured to him...what if he doesn't remember me? The Aussie sunk onto the couch. It has been a long time. How many people have been in and out of his life since me? He glanced around the loft. His father is Cliff Cooper too, which means he has money. What if he simply doesn't like me now? Rollie absently sipped his coffee and made a face at the coldness, he dumped the java out with a sigh. Doubt about whether he should even visit Daniel crept up on him then he espied the book and with a decisiveness he picked it up, climbed into the Ram and drove to the hospital.
"Hey Rollie, come to see the survivors?" Frank asked spotting him.
"Uh, yeah...you questioning them?"
"Who we can." The cop nodded.
"Know the room?"
Rollie nodded and headed that way under Frank's watchful gaze.
The Aussie pushed the door open slightly and peeked in. Daniel's profile showed a small gauze bandage taped to his head, a lot of the right side of his face was discolored by bruising, his right hand and wrist was wrapped and his left leg was in a cast. Rollie was about to go when he heard Daniel sigh deeply so he gathered his courage and pushed the door open all the way. Daniel turned toward the sound and their eyes met, both their mouths fell open in astonishment.
"Bloody hell." Rollie uttered.
"You look like me!" Daniel gaped.
"More the other way 'round mate."
"Who are you?"
Rollie went over to him nervously.
"The Adventures of...." Daniel read on the book Rollie forgot he held. The minister looked up at him in realization. "Rollie?"
Rollie grinned and nodded.
"You...you were the one reading to me!" Daniel's eyes grew wide.
"Reckon!" Rollie chuckled.
"It's been...it's been such a long time. How are you? What do you do? Do you still live here?"
"Whoa, slow down." Rollie laughed and sat down.
"Honey, I brought you---" Bonnie started as she came in. "I'm sorry, I didn't realize you had---" She gasped as Rollie turned to her.
"Mom...I know it's a shock...maybe you should sit..." Daniel said concerned at the dazed look she wore.
Rollie quickly stood and helped her to the seat.
"It's even weirder mom...this is Rollie...do you remember him?"
Bonnie shook her head slightly and stared at the Aussie.
"It's been a long time Mrs.Cooper---"
"Yes....it's been far too long." She said tearing up.
"Mom?" Daniel asked confused.
"You know my father ran a furniture store, right honey?" She touched Daniel's fingers.
"Yeah, you told me that." He nodded wondering where she was going with the reminder.
"Everything was handmade...he was so proud of that business. It originally belonged to his father, your grandfather, who left it to his sons.... my father of course....and his twin brother. From what I understand, my uncle wasn't interested in the business which didn't make your grandfather happy, they had a terrible fight and my uncle left...my father never heard from him again. I've always been amazed at how much you resemble my father." She looked at Daniel.
"What was your uncle's name?" Rollie asked, butterflies in the pit of his stomach.
"Rolland...Rolland Beaumont." She smiled at Rollie.
"My mother's maiden name was Beaumont." Rollie leaned against the bed. "My mother died when I was eleven but I had seen pictures of my grandfather... I bear a striking resemblance to him also."
"Over 2000 years ago God gave us an Easter miracle...today, I received two more, my son," Bonnie smiled at Daniel who smiled back, "And being reunited with the missing part of my family after all these years." She smiled at Rollie too who grinned back.
"Hey! That makes us cousins!" Daniel grinned at him.
Rollie's cell phone rang before he could reply. "Sorry." He apologized and answered it. "Tyler. Hey sweetie---messages? I didn't check the machine. Francis huh? Yeah, you know me, Batman." He chuckled at something she said then looked at Daniel. "Actually....I never told you about my first friend in the states....and how he's turned out to be so much more..."
No copyright infringement intended just a little Easter story to hopefully put a smile on the readers' faces.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn belongs to Mr. Mark Twain, etc. and no infringement is intended there either.