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Resist Me

By:A. O. Peart

Chapter One


The shrill of the fire alarm and flashing lights jolted me up from my bed at the Firehouse 8. Swearing, Jack got up too, followed by the other members of our team. We were pulling night rotation shift. The proximity of our firehouse to downtown Portland practically guaranteed us to be dispatched to a fire at least once a week. But tonight was different, and I felt it in my gut. This wasn’t someone’s fireplace choking a little with smoke. This was a big job.

A call came in over the PA system, informing us about an incident on Daltona Street in the commercial district. There was an explosion in one of the old warehouses. Jack and I were trained in chemical hazard and explosives, so it came as no surprise that my team was ordered to arrive immediately. And that was all we knew for now. The dispatcher had no other specific details available.

We raced to the lockers, pulled our turnout gear on, and soon the firetruck, the tanker, and the paramedics’ rig drove through the slowly waking up streets of Portland. The firetruck’s lights and blaring siren warranted us free pass through the sparse 4 am traffic. Cars and busses pulled to the sides of the road, letting us through.

Jack blasted the horn and swore angrily, stomping on the brake pedal. A heavily bundled homeless woman started to cross the street, an old shopping cart in front of her. The cart was filled to the brim with all kinds of junk—probably containing all her possessions. Jack swerved the truck to the side, swiftly turning the steering wheel.

The woman stopped in the middle of the street as if surprised at the approaching firetruck with its lights flashing and horn screeching. She watched us, motionless, waiting for the vehicle to pass.

“Come on, lady! Move back!” Jack roared, although she wouldn’t be able to hear him anyway.

“Relax bro. She’s probably deaf. Or doesn’t get it,” I said. I was normally the laid back type, while Jack’s temper flared for the slightest reason.

In addition to being one of many cousins, he was also my best buddy. The guy had a heart of gold, despite his apparent anger problem. We both had served in the Marines, and then he had followed my path to become a firefighter.

Jack spat through his window. He shot me a glance and grinned. I snorted, shaking my head. The dispatcher updates chirped through the radio.

“What the hell is that about? An explosion?” Jack hollered over the siren.

“Must’ve been a gas leak.”

“Or some asshole dragged his barbecue inside again. Like last month, remember? Shit for brains.”

“Hard to forget,” I said.

I watched the sidewalk to my right. A small group of homeless people sat together, leaning against the building and smoking cigarettes. Two blocks further, another two slept on the ground, wrapped in old, tattered sleeping bags.

“The cops are on their way too.” I nodded to my side mirror.

Jack glanced in his own mirror. “There is also a black unmarked car in the other lane, driving head to head with the cop. Someone’s asking for trouble. Wait, they just put a beacon on the roof. What the hell?”

By the time Jack finished his sentence, three black sedans with tinted windows accelerated past us, their beacons flashing red-and-blue.

“Cops?” he asked.

“I don’t think so. Looks more like one of the agencies.”

Jack looked at me. “Wonder which one. This job ain’t a barbecue accident.”

I frowned. “No, doesn’t look like it is.” I lifted the microphone and pressed the button to speak to the dispatch. “Give me more info on that explosion?”

She came on the line, “Not much left from the structure. All leveled down. Looks like a crapload of explosives were used.”

“Motherfucker.” Jack hit the steering wheel with the heel of his hand. “Which gang was it this time?”

“We might find out soon.”

Jack shot me a glance.

“What?” I asked.

He smirked.

“Oh, that tells me a lot, bro.” I laughed. I knew that look—he was about to give me shit about something.

“Where the fuck did you disappear last Friday? You’re supposed to meet me and Julio at Black Pelican.”

Black Pelican was one of our hangouts that I lately decided to avoid. A certain feisty redhead bartender chick and I had too much of a past. And I wasn’t interested in making it a future. But she was.

“I told you I might go if you two morons chose to get shitfaced somewhere else and not at the Black Pelican.”

A small, red sedan swerved onto our lane. Jack turned the siren on for a moment, and the car scooted away over two lanes to the left.

“Rita wasn’t there last Friday. You should’ve seen the new girl.” He suggestively wiggled his eyebrows. “Tits like melons, man. And those eyes. I fucking get a hard on just to think of her.”

“Tell her that, not me, asshole.”

He burst out in laughter and punched me on the arm. Hard. The guy didn’t know his own strength. I tipped my chin toward the scene ahead of us.

Plums of thick, dark-gray smoke puffed above the spot where a small warehouse used to stand on the corner of Daltona and Warren Street. Red-and-yellow fire licked the scattered chunks of concrete and fragments of broken timber strewn all over the area. The buildings around were badly damaged as well.

Jack pulled Rescue 8 to the curb. I opened the door and jumped out, my boots hitting the ground with a dull thud. I quickly scanned the area, trying to locate the Incident Command. I spotted Chief Holton talking with two dark suits. The FBI?

The Chief was pointing to the screen of a small laptop in his hand. Both dark suits nodded and exchanged a silent glance.

“Ethan!” Chief Holton saw me approach, but made no introductions.

“Chief.” I nodded.

The dark suits wordlessly walked away.

“The feds?” I asked.

“Yep.” His bushy eyebrows pulled together, deepening the permanent crease between them.

Chief’s eyes were puffy and red, the skin on his jowls sagging more than normal. He was pushing sixty, and his h