Tag Archives: Body Rentals

03 – Low Fuel Warning

Pithos (Prologue)

[832 words – #3WW]At the hospital Danny spent a lot of her time watching over the unconscious firefighters. Aside from the bruises and burns on some exposed skin, there were four broken ribs, a broken arm, a broken shoulder and a dislocated knee. As the firefighters regained consciousness, they pieced together the chronology of the explosion: The fallen firefighter was in the lead. He was standing inside the open hatch of the flammable liquid storage tank when he saw the ignition of the liquid. It was quicker for him to close the hatch and presumably rely on his gear to protect him from the blast. He successfully closed the hatch cutting off the oxygen, but his uniform coat had snagged on the hatch frame. He had not been fast enough and the existing oxygen mixed with the flammable vapor and exploded before the oxygen was depleted from the tank. The resulting explosion threw the surviving firefighters away from the center of the explosion. It had all happened in scant seconds from discovery to explosion. His quick thinking saved the lives of his fellow firefighters. The firefighter’s name was Terry Mann. He was named after his father, some kind of physician. He had no chance of survival once he made the decision to save his brothers. Plummeting ten meters into a tank of burning liquid and exploding vapor was not a pleasant way to die.

Tears welled up in Danny’s eyes and she excused herself from the room. Terrance Mann Jr. was one of the most outspoken firefighters in favor of Danny’s run for Fire Commissioner. He attended all her debates and posed some of the most difficult questions. Danny didn’t believe he was being malicious in what questions he asked, and answering those tough questions had solidified some of the people who were on the fence. Terry Mann was a constant presence during her candidacy, and she did not doubt he would be chief of a station soon enough. They had met frequently for coffee and talk. He maintained an aloof nature, but she suspected his façade hid a well of feelings he kept to himself. They managed to meet so frequently; she started looking forward to those future meetings. When schedules or work prevented him from meeting her, she missed him. Their relationship had moved beyond the familiar and was just starting the sparks of an impending romance.

In the hallway she attempted to gather her composure. Less than a week after assuming her duties as Commissioner, she had a fatality. Not just any fatality, but her friend. The whole situation teetered on ironic circumstance.

A nurse rushed up to Danny, “Miss Peterson! I need you to come with me immediately!”

Whatever the emergency was, it was better than thinking about Terry’s last moments. The reprieve, although temporary, was a welcome distraction. She followed the nurse down a few halls and found herself in the intensive care unit. She couldn’t figure out what was so important in the ICU, last she had heard the rescued firefighters had been moved. One of them had even been released, she thought.

As she rushed by groups of firefighters and well-wishers, she picked up fragments of hushed conversation. They all seemed to be talking about Terry Mann. It didn’t make sense – Terry Mann died saving his team. What was so important she that was rushed to the ICU?
Continue reading

02 – Recovering Remains

Pithos (Prologue)

[800 words – The Victorious Writer]Danny surveyed the scene surrounding the three-alarm fire.

“Get those reporters out of my perimeter,” she shouted.

Police officers immediately moved to round up errant news crews. Many of these officers were older than Danny by several, and in a few cases many, years. Despite this, they did their job efficiently; after all, she was the Fire Commissioner. Danny didn’t lord over the individual fire crews or their captains. She new many of them personally and trusted their judgment. Her presence was not really needed here, but the freshness of her election and the growing regional and national attention necessitated she be present.

The fire was rapidly contained. The fire itself wasn’t the issue. The size of the building required multiple attacks to contain and suppress the flames. Containment was nearing completion; several crews were entering the building to prevent flare-ups and to continue the suppression effort. Everyone was starting to relax. Many of the units were breaking down and cleaning equipment. They started transporting equipment and personnel to their fire stations around the city.

Suddenly, the ground below the spectators rumbled. It was enough to knock many of them off their feet and set off car alarms blocks away. Danny was glad the perimeter was established in the earliest stages of the suppression effort. A BLEVE – boiling liquid expanding vapor explosion – consumed the bottom floor of the building. The BLEVE scorched vehicles and singed personnel as far away as one hundred meters. The BLEVE was moved so quick that no one had a chance to react, and it burned out quickly. There was still A-triple-F – advanced film forming foam – everywhere so the building didn’t flare up again. Other than some very scared bystanders, no one appeared to be seriously injured.

A commotion from one of the crews attracted Danny’s attention – something was happening, and there were a lot of professional fire fighters upset about something. The colorful language coming from the crew chief of the unit in the building was carrying – something had gone wrong.

“I want a crew in there yesterday! Get your shit together! Let’s move it! Move! Move! Move!”

Danny recognized the crew chief by the ball cap that was his attempt to conceal his receding hairline. He was supposed to be on vacation, but stopped to assist on the way out of town.

Danny ran up to the group, her duffle flopping against her hip. “Chief, what’s going on?”

“Miss Peterson,” he greeted.

Danny ignored the formal nature he addressed her; he had always called her Danny, but this was a stressful event.

“We think that the BLEVE was the result of the failure of a flammable liquid storage facility under this building. Our team was investigating and we believe they were securing access to the storage tanks. There hasn’t been any radio contact since the explosion. We need a crew in there now!”
Continue reading

01 – Cogent Evidence

Pithos (Prologue)

[978 words – Word-a-Week]Smoke billowed from broken third story windows. Police Officers herded back onlookers. Sawhorse barriers kept the people back, but reporters and cameramen climbed over.

The three-alarm fire was a big story, not because of the potential loss of life or property damage or even the simple primal desire to see and command fire itself, but because of whom the Fire Commissioner was. Danny Peterson was the youngest person to ever hold the position of Fire Commissioner in the city’s history. She also happened to be a woman. Women’s rights and equality were all well and good on paper and when scholars discussed and debated it in universities, but in reality, the equality portion of the debate was the most poignant. Women earned less than their male counterparts and women were still considered by many to be fragile. Many difficult jobs, including firefighting, were considered men’s work. Losing a male firefighter in the line of duty was a tragedy, but to lose a woman? People just wouldn’t accept it.

There are those who insist that there is equality, but even in today’s age, a majority of society believes a woman’s job is to maintain the household and pop out male heirs on demand. ‘Barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen’ was not just a tongue-in-cheek expression; it was the expectation of not only most men, but also millions of women everywhere. A woman was perfectly suited to be a schoolteacher or a waitress; even a doctor or politician, but not a combat engineer or firefighter. These beliefs were continually perpetuated by a male-dominated culture. There were scant exceptions, and any woman that strayed from these expected societal roles were branded with the scarlet ‘F’ of Feminism.

Danny Peterson knew she wanted to be a firefighter at a very young age. Her parents were not firefighters, nor were anyone in her extended family. She didn’t live in a neighborhood where hero firefighters lived, and otherwise made their presence known. No tragedy in her past compelled her to want to fight fires. She had no reason by society’s expectations to want to be a firefighter. Societal norms reflected what society thought it wanted, but society couldn’t possibly factor the reasons that resulted in Danny Peterson wanting to fight fires.

The desire was planted at an early age when Danny watched a multi-part documentary on a public broadcasting station. That documentary was about the life of firefighters. During the five-day program, many firefighters candidly revealed the tremendous lack of funding to keep these unsung heroes safe. From aging equipment to poor facilities, firefighting was a dangerous occupation, but undeservedly so. So at age seven, Danny knew her life goal was to fight fires and ensure no hero had to perish due to a lack of technology or funding. While many little girls her age were worrying if their outfits matched their shoes, Danny worried about the trials and tribulations of firefighters. Danny consumed books, trade magazines, and websites focusing on firefighters and firefighting technology. She begged her parents to take her to firefighting museums.
Continue reading

04 – Tyrant

Adan Ramie’s word-a-week prompt wraps up this Body Rentals prologue. I worked in both the word and the photo she posted. These 684 words bring the total of the Tyrant up to 3,088.

* * *

“I, James Colin Hudson, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

John waved to the gathered faithful and smiled to boisterous cheers. He had done it; he had successfully stolen the presidency of the United States. He made appropriate dismissals of staff members and appointed enough to keep up the appearance of cleaning house and set into the motions of being president.

* * *

Several months after the inauguration, Teresa attended a private dinner with former president John Michaels. She was writing a story about what retired presidents did with their time. It was a puff piece, and she knew it, but John made sure she was at the top of the list of press invitees, and he was happy to have her around.

“Tim’s gonna be so upset that he didn’t get invited to shoot some video.”

John chuckled, “You and Tim can be there for my next great adventure, whatever President Hudson wants me to do.”

Something clicked in the back of Teresa’s mind. She viewed the whirlwind campaign with a detached perspective that she was unable to do when she was close to the story. It was the diaspora of a dandelion – each seed fluttering in the wind was a piece of the puzzle. She excused herself and went into the hall to make a phone call.

Her call was answered on the second ring; her brother was nothing if not predictable. “Tim,” she whispered after he got his greeting out of the way.

“What is it?”

“Do you have any video of any of the candidates together or with President Michaels?”

“I can look, but other than election night, nothing comes to mind.”

“Right,” she hissed, her voice getting louder with excitement. “There weren’t any Vice presidential candidate debates, either! Something doesn’t add up!”

She couldn’t have known John was listening at the door. She was comfortable with John and in her excitement made a rookie mistake: Talking about a sensitive story where others could hear her.
Continue reading

03 – Stolen Seat

Tyrant (Prologues)

Here’s part three of the Tyrant prologue. The #3WW prompt is hidden in these 874 words. Can you find it?

* * *

“I would like to thank presidential candidate Parsons for being with us today, stay tuned for more right after this…”

John stood, shook hands, said a few pleasantries, and was on his way to limo number three. Since Ron Parsons was from the same political party as the sitting president, he only needed to emphasize his willingness to do what was in the best interest of the country and an eagerness to improve the people’s perception of the party and the presidency.

It was all trite and boring, but he had to play the part. He was eager to get back into his own body and a few hours sleep before the farce stared again. He managed to make it to the street entrance of the studio without incident. The long hours were tiring, but after the election, the missed sleep would be worth it.

“Mister Parsons, a word before you head off?” John paused and looked in the direction of the voice. It was coming from an attractive woman, brown hair and eyes, in her early – to mid twenties. John started to smile, but his eyes focused on her press badge. Her cameraman followed behind her and kept the camera pointing toward the ground. It was a maneuver to keep him relaxed, but he knew the press had power.

Normally he wouldn’t have stopped for an unscheduled interview, and he was about to say so when he caught a whiff of her perfume. It wasn’t anything special, some sort of vanilla scent. John’s wife had worn vanilla. His pause was enough to allow her to catch up with him.

“My name is Teresa.” She pronounced it ‘Tur-ESS-a’ with all of the emphasis on the ‘ess.’ “This guy with the camera,” she jerked the hand holding the wireless microphone over her shoulder, “is my brother, Tim.”

John gave her his most practiced politician smile, “I’m pretty busy Teresa.” He handed her a business card. “Call to set up something a little more,” he paused and his eyes roved over her professional pantsuit, “intimate,” he concluded before stepping into the waiting limo. If Teresa responded, he hadn’t heard it.

* * *

Election day had finally arrived.

John continued shuffling interviews, appearances, and speeches with all three bodies. He continued the diatribe playing all three roles: James Hudson as the frustrated outsider demanding change, Ron Parsons as the fast track candidate trying to distance himself from the current administration, and President John Michaels as the incumbent striving to ensure a smooth transition and secretly hoping his party stayed in power.
Continue reading

02 – Circuit Freaks

This one is for Stephanie’s Inspiration Monday. Here’s the continuation of the Tyrant storyline. 914 more words for you:

* * *

John woke up on a gurney. He could smell the sterile environment, and he knew it would take a moment or two to regain control. He sighed. That’s part of the process, the thought wasn’t new. He could hear movement around him, and he knew from countless times before: Eyes closed is always better. When he felt his control return, he turned and saw his body lying on the gurney next to him. Everything was going according to plan. The sights, sounds and feelings were coming into focus. He knew he would be ready to perform his next task within minutes.

John sat up, and Chris came up to his gurney.

“Sir,” he whispered, “shall I get the limo ready?”

John opened his eyes and made a shooing motion with his hands. “Let’s get this thing done.” As he made his way to the limo, he stopped and stared at his still body lying on the gurney. His focus shifted up to a glass observation window above. He could see the brilliant inventor of the swapping technology studying readouts and computer screens. He had never seen Dr. Terrance Mann sleep, but assumed Mann found the time. As long as Dr. Mann was available for the switch, it really didn’t matter to John when the doctor slept. For the amount of cash he’s being paid, John thought as his lips morphed into a smile, Mann can sleep after the election.

* * *

The limo drove to a television station with a pundit that openly disliked the President. John knew he would enjoy the interview. Getting through the studio was much easier without the Secret Service tagging along.

Secret Service, he thought. They were all fools. Had he not chosen his own staff, his plan would’ve never worked. For this interview he was the president’s opposition, determined to make sure President John Michael’s cronies didn’t stay in office. The charade would’ve been ineffectual with Secret Service fools lurking about. Donning the microphone and earpiece was different; there seemed to be a slight absence of care than when he was the president.

“Mister Hudson,” the host intoned, “you heard the President’s interview today, would you care to comment or respond?”

“Thank you, I would. The President thinks pleasant words and rhetoric will win this election for his party, but I am here today to tell the American people that we cannot continue with business as usual. Drastic changes need to happen to get this country moving forward again. His administration of corrupt crooks cannot be allowed to continue for four more years.”

“Now hold on there a minute, Mister Hudson.” The host’s voice rose to an effeminate falsetto. “There has been no confirmation of any wrong-doing in the Michaels’ administration.”
Continue reading

01 – The Secret in the Game

It’s been a while since the Body Rentals universe has seen any action. Chuck’s post over at terribleminds was to generate a random title and write. I finished at 616 words, so enjoy!

* * *

“Thank you for appearing on our program Mister President, I know our viewers are very interested in what you have to say.”

“It is my only hope that this transition from my administration to the next will be a smooth one – without partisan politics or infighting.”

“That is a very genial statement, considering your administration will continue business as usual if your party’s candidate is elected. There are many people out there who believe this country will not move forward unless the current administration is removed.”

“I have heard these rumblings as well, and I can only believe in the sacred institution that is the electoral process.

I suspect we will be revisiting these same issues in four or eight years, regardless of the outcome this November.”

“Well I sincerely hope your optimism of a potential changeover translates to those working in your administration.

Anyway, I know your time here is short, and I appreciate you taking the time to visit us in person.”

The president nodded sharply and smiled as the cameraperson indicated they were no longer live. The producer’s aides rushed to assist President Michaels remove his earpiece and microphone.

Secret Service monitored all actions made by these aides, ready to move if there was a threat. No threat was anticipated, but anticipation was what this business was all about.

President John Alexander Michaels turned to his press liaison and raised his eyebrows. “How was that Chris?”

“John, great segment. We will see what news bytes we get from this one.” Chris Farnze had been with John as his press liaison for many years before his presidency, even before John had been Vice President.

John served as President for ten years. He assumed the role of President after his predecessor had a fatal aneurysm at the end of her second year. There had been conspiracy theorists claiming John had been involved with her death, but, after exhaustive investigation, a congressional oversight committee cleared him and his staff of any wrongdoing. There were those in both parties who felt he should not be president, and had moved over the years to thwart his political agenda.

The fact he was affiliated with a different political party than the late president only fueled the rumors and speculation.
Continue reading