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The call came at around four in the afternoon on a Thursday.
“Stabbing at the River View Junction of Broomhill Road, Fishponds. Two men have been attacked with a knife. There is one witness on site who says the men are losing blood but are stable and conscious. Please assist.”
“We are in the area and will attend, ambulance 14.”
“Thanks Mike, we are unsure of the source but it sounds like a simple pickup.”
The ambulance pulled away from a lay-by half way down Stapleton Road.
This particular team of paramedics had only been working together
for a few weeks, but in such a high octane working environment you
quickly learn your partner’s ins and outs. After a few miles
stuck in traffic the road cleared and they were finally on their way.
Mike pushed the alert button and the sirens started to blare. Steaming
through the red lights the ambulance was soon on its way to Fishponds.
Bristol is an awkward city to navigate, especially at rush hour when
all the schoolchildren are getting picked up and the drunks are stumbling
into the local pubs.
Any previous training Mike and Jenna had been through was at that moment rendered irrelevant because the sight in front of them was so horrific that both of them would probably have chosen different career paths if it had been represented in a diagram or even a role play in their manuals. There was a man draped in a white and orange jump suit covered in blood. He stood unsteady on his feet holding a knife that was stained in red. As the paramedics looked on, the man lost his footing and almost toppled into the river. He stumbled forwards and then to the right before he tripped over the root of a tree overhanging the river and fell head first into its trunk, hitting his head with more force than a boxer’s punch.
“Lets go; he’s out.” Trying to take control, Mike gave the command and started to walk into the clearing. He was still a fair way from the suspect.
“I’m gonna call for back-up mate. Don’t go any closer, please.” Jenna flipped out her phone from her pocket and called the direct emergency hotline.
“Paramedic Badge number 751 requesting police back up to Riverview Junction, Broomhill Road in Fishponds, and get a move on. We have a suspect in a critical state and two victims apparently. I have seen neither of them as yet. Please hurry.” Because they had been diverted so far from the road and from the safety of the public eye, Jenna had some doubt in her mind that any help would arrive in time. The situation looked bleak for all three – the two paramedics and the male who had knocked himself out against the tree.
Jenna tracked her eyes back to the tree, having put her phone back in its holster. The white and orange had disappeared and been replaced with what would have been, on any normal day, a beautiful picture. It was a picture of tranquillity and peace: the river overlooked by a big willow tree, and a bench in front designed to entice joggers, dog-walkers and couples to sit and rest as they watched the river drift by. She scanned the view looking for the two men with stab wounds. They had been the reason she had been called out; they were the reason she had been sent to this place.
Mike was out in the open now and nothing had changed. There was still no movement from behind the tree where the man in the bloodstained jumpsuit had vanished.
Mike turned to his partner. “What should we do?”
“I’ve called for a back-up team; I hope they will send coppers. Don’t go any closer mate, please.”
There was movement suddenly. The white figure ran out from behind the tree and rushed through the clearing and straight into a blackberry bush.
“He’s there. Did you see that?” Jenna shouted, in the hope that her partner was watching and not poised to try and take down the crazed man in some manly trip, attempting to make some headlines.
“No, where?” said Mike, desperately trying not to sound scared.
There was a horrible noise as the man in white dragged two men from the bush, covered in blood and bindweed. They looked dead. One of the two screamed.
It didn’t help. The man in white punched him with an uppercut that would have killed any man, and then he slit his throat. The other man was dead, without a doubt. One of his legs was hanging by only a few tendons and a strip of trouser leg, and his head had been detached from the rest of his body; he had been decapitated. It was a gruesome sight, and Jenna was the first of the team of two to realise it. She ran into her partner and knocked him over in the process.
“Sorry. We need to get out of here now!” said Jenna in a panic. She looked back at the two bodies through the now-cleared blackness of blackberry thickets. She saw the second victim’s head. It was impaled on a fishing rod. The two men had been fishermen enjoying a quiet day catching pike and perch at the river.
“What the fuck?” Jenna said, as she tried to scramble back up the hill she’d just climbed down.
“I don’t know, mate. Fucking run.” Running was the only option for the two paramedics. Jenna ran for her life, quicker than she had ever ran, and that included all the sprint tests she had done to escape urban shootouts in training. Trying to get up the hill she was caught: one stab with a makeshift weapon made out of a toothbrush, the top chopped off and the stem chiselled into a blade. Just as she turned over to see her killer he struck again, and this time it was straight into her brain. She was dead.
“Jesus fucking Christ.” Mike was devastated and ran over to try and assist his partner. Luckily for him he had armed himself with a needle full of morphine. He went at the man in white with all the strength he had.
He was cut short. Whoever this man was had enough hatred to kill anyone, even a paramedic who was trying to help him. They fumbled around in the grass for what seemed like hours, until finally the attacker got him – once in the neck and once straight through his armpit and into his lung. Mike, however, had managed to give him a double shot of morphine, so he was a dead man walking. The psycho managed to scramble up the hill and reach the ambulance at the top of the hill. He climbed inside before he was overcome by the drugs and fell into a deep sleep, the deepest sleep. He was dead.
On any given day in a big city the emergency services deal with all sorts of trouble. Sometimes it is something minor, like a drunken homeless person collapsing outside a public toilet. Sometimes it is a young shoplifter who has been caught short and is being held by security at Tesco’s until the police arrive. We all recognise the wailing and buzzing screech of a speeding fire truck or ambulance hurtling through red lights, narrowly missing wing mirrors and small children, its own lights strobing, leaving recurring splashes of red in the eyes of onlooking pedestrians. Those same pedestrians are all thinking a similar thing: something horrible has happened.
It was a horrible thing. The Japanese believe that any person who is violently killed will haunt their killer until the balance is levelled, or search through the place where they were killed until some sort of closure is achieved. Jennifer Harrison and Michael Barry did not achieve any closure.
“Where is the subject? I cannot see anything” said the police official, searching the site of the murders with a personal objective to try and find his friend, Michael.
“Nope, absolutely nothing. It’s a bit fucking weird, don’t you think? They couldn’t just disappear; it’s not possible”.
There wasn’t a ceremony and there wasn’t a wake. How could you get religious when there were no bodies?
Alice lifted herself up from her sofa and looked out of the window as the ambulance came swerving into her drive. The sharp pains in her shoulders were easing off by now but remembering what the doctor had said she thought it better to be safe than sorry. She had been told that because the operation had made her very weak it was especially important that she called out an ambulance any time she felt uneasy or slightly delirious, and this was such a time. The front of Alice’s old house was typical of an old woman living alone: a small and perfectly mown square piece of grass surrounded by a perfectly layered flowerbed filled with tulips and daffodils. It had all been worked on and nurtured by a hired gardener because although the garden was an important part of the house, it was now council-owned and therefore controlled by the council.
The commotion of the visit from the ambulance drew the attention of a couple of pedestrians who stood by to watch what happened, as the ambulance turned left into the driveway and parked. The door swung open and the paramedic slowly stepped out. The obvious lack of tension and speed in his movements disappointed the onlooking neighbours and passers-by whose bloodlust had drawn them to a standstill outside the house. It all looked normal from a distance – just another sick person being picked up and taken to hospital.
“Alright, so its Alice McKenzie we’re picking up. She’s been in before, lovely old lady. The poor thing had a hip operation and hasn’t been walking well since, so be delicate” said the first paramedic as he stepped out and onto the gravel and stone driveway. The other door opened and another paramedic got out. She walked round the back of the ambulance and opened up the rear doors.
“Alright , then, Mike. You go up and get the doorbell and I’ll follow with the stretcher.” No matter how hard you try and no matter how good you think you are at it, pulling a stretcher bed on wheels over a gravel driveway isn’t easy at the best of times. This certainly wasn’t the best of times: 10.30 on a Tuesday morning.
The ambulance sat still, trailing its jagged open back doors behind it like a pair of wings. With all its lights flashing and no noise coming from the siren it looked almost irrelevant just sitting there while the humans got on with their business. The two green and yellow paramedics trudged up the drive and rang the bell.
“Anything about that look weird to you?” said one of the onlookers, as he turned to his companion.
“Yeah, a little bit. Neither of them looked ready for work,” answered the second, both of them now looking a bit concerned.
“Hello Mrs McKenzie. How are you?”
“I’m fine, dear” said Alice, looking very frail and unstable. She had a lot of her weight resting on a walking stick that was wedged deeply into the carpet next to her. The two paramedics stepped up and almost inside the house to steady the old woman as she came down her front steps.
“Shall I just close this, then, Mrs McKenzie? Do you have your keys?”
“Oh, yes, thank you dear. I have my keys with me.” On hearing this, the female paramedic closed and locked shut Alice’s front door and turned back around to help escort the old lady towards the ambulance, which looked ominously green and yellow, much like the paramedics themselves.
Having been lifted into the main artery of the vehicle, the operating area, Alice looked around the inside of the ambulance as she was arranged into place. She was uneasy with it. The equipment looked unclean to say the least and there was what looked like a bloodstain on the inside of the main door. Calling out for the two figures sitting in the front compartment of the ambulance gave her no comfort.
“Excuse me my darlings, I don’t think all this is really necessary for little old me. All I need is a helping hand.”
The face on the passenger seat turned on Alice in a movement so swift it resembled that of a meerkat which had seen a movement in the distance. As Alice peered into the eyes of the woman staring back at her she saw nothing, blankness, a fearsome glare so bloodshot and empty it made her old, learned and lonely bones shake and her blood crawl. The pitted and deeply disfigured face staring back at her was a face of pain and agony. Its eyes had bulged out of their receding sockets, rot and rigor mortis had set in, and had left the teeth revealed where the skin had rotted away; it was a face of death. Alice was horrified. In an attempt to avert her eyes from the putrid stare looking back at her she looked down and read the nametag of the monstrosity in the front seat. It read: “Jennifer Harrison”. She had been picked up by ambulance 14.
The vehicle sped away veering left and onto a curb. The open door at the back flapped around and the noise of all the medical equipment crashing around in the back of the ambulance was deafening. The two onlookers who had witnessed the whole incident panicked as it became clear that all was not right. One hurriedly scrambled for his mobile phone and called the police. He stood there desperately trying to describe the scene as he watched the ambulance tear away into the distance. Just as quickly as it had arrived, it was gone.
Soon after the most recent disappearance, during the very same week
in fact, it was decided that an investigation had to be carried out
to try to explain the mysterious goings on concerning ambulance 14.
There was no conclusive evidence to suggest anything out of the ordinary.
All I can do is show you the facts and the stories. You can make up
your own mind.
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