The fire alarm’s wail ceased abruptly, and Careen Catecher’s rapid, shallow breathing fogged up the oxygen mask that covered her face. Velcro straps and a neck brace immobilized her on the rescue backboard as two grim-faced paramedics rushed her gurney through the rubble inside the demolished building. Her whole body began to shake as they emerged into the cold night air. Floodlights positioned above the scene dazzled her eyes, and she had the impression of a large crowd of people pressing forward as the paramedics loaded her into a waiting ambulance. They’re taking me to the hospital. Someone’s going to recognize me. Her teeth chattered, and her eyes darted frantically back and forth. Where’s Tommy? Where’s Wes?
As soon as the doors closed, she clawed at the straps and struggled to sit up, fighting the hands that sought to soothe her. Her fingernails found skin and drew blood.
“Hey! Take it easy! I’m trying to help you.”
A needle jabbed her arm, and within seconds, everything faded to black.
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