Scared Myself Half to Death

It was quittin’ time. That mid-winter evening darkness had consumed the world outside the station. I tugged on my bright EMS coat, preparing for January’s frigid bite once I left the warmth of the building. I grabbed my keys, wished the new crew well, and headed into the bay.

It was chilly and dark there. A few flickering fluorescent bulbs seemed to provide more shadows than light. I edged my way between the back bumpers of the trucks and the racks of turn-out gear. The smell of old, sooty fires hung in the air. All was quiet, except for the occasional clicking within the settling and cooling engines, and a slow, periodic drip of water onto the concrete floor. I rounded the corner of a fire truck, intending to walk the aisle between the fire engine and the ambulance, make my out of the station and into the night. I didn’t take two paces before the dim light illuminated the silhouette. My heart briefly stopped in my chest. My breath caught in my throat, just before letting out a terrified cry.

The flickering light provided just enough backlighting to make it out. Black boots hung at my eye level. The figure was still. The only movement came from the slow, occasional drip of melting ice off the boot’s soles. I covered my mouth, trying to stifle the scream. This couldn’t be happening.

The door to the living space of the station opened on the other side of the bay. My partner’s voice shouted out my name in concern, followed by the thudding of heavy boots running on the concrete floor.

I broke my gaze from the legs of the figure, and saw another slumped figure only a few yards away. And there was another. And another?

As the crew drew nearer, they flicked on the rest of the lights. In the brilliant light, we could see what had actually happened.

The red cold water exposure suits were hung from a clothesline high above our heads. They had been taken out and used for training purposes that morning, and then hung out to dry overnight. A half-dozen red suits, complete with black rubber boots and gloves, were strung up along this little alleyway. Laughter shattered the unnecessarily horror-filled silence.

Well. At least my reaction was highly amusing to the relief crew. You’re welcome, guys.

 

Speak Your Mind

*