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The air pack slacks off shoulders like broken wings, coat opened. Crowd noise from the game filters into the bay. The drill plays back, no one to offer a critique except the rescue dummy who holds his familiar blank stare, unconcerned with life or death.
Up the ladder almost before it crashes against the house, hope is to hear the sounds of the helpless, opportunity to work, but only the sound of feet on aluminum rungs scrapes the air. The hook separates glass from pane.
Walking through the living quarters, recliners pose like cobras in full strike.
Sweep, sound, floor's solid. Dark, combustible wave. Duck in on hands and knees, quick to the door a look down the hall, orange glow pulses like distant lightning. Time sealed in a controlled door.
On the tailboard, hand on a rail eyes scan the ladder bed. Halligans dressed, halyards tied, anticipation the only noise. Is it worth it? Work stomps back in its timeless voice, in a hook that needs washed.
Dresser, chair, bed. Hands are sight here you listen for cries, thrown toys, frightened child. The room fills with mechanical breathing.
Kneeling in the yard, armor off, steam rises. A child's voice echoes, panic a look back at the window, then across the yard to a young boy in the arms of his father.
Joy spoken in a hacking cough.
A hand squeezes your shoulder,
"well done Brother, let's take up."