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Darkness Before Dawn
I was in such a hurry to get washed and back to the courtroom that I did not hear one of the bathroom stall doors opening. I slowly turned away from the sink just as something came toward my head, then blackness. When I awoke I was lying on the floor inside a van; we must have been driving on a dirt road because I could see a lot of dust billowing up outside the windows. My head was splitting and the bumpy road was not helping matters.
Once I realized that my hands were tied behind my back, I knew that I was in trouble. I was still a bit foggy and tried to lie still to give myself some time to think and absorb the situation, but one of the men along side me pulled my head up by my hair and mentioned something about enjoying my last day of life.
Once we got to our destination, I was pulled out of the van. They pushed me along roughly causing me to fall a couple of times. I was still dizzy from whatever bowling ball they had hit me with. The blindfold they had placed over my eyes made my equilibrium even more shaky.
I could hear a monotone chanting in the distance and it came closer and closer until I was finally pushed down to the ground in the midst of it. A group of several cultists started circling me like vultures. I was about fed up at this point and started doing some yelling of my own hoping to make them realize this plan of theirs was going to get them nowhere. The next thing I knew they started hitting and kicking me until I lost consciousness at some point.
The next thing I remember is waking up and meeting Gail; she was just watching me. I don't know how long I had been out but based on her remarks it must have been quite a while. She seemed rather shy and sweet, however, she did seem to be in as much of a daze as I was, almost as if she were slightly drugged.
My attempts to get her to tell me where I was being held were fruitless. My level of fear increased as she pulled out a large knife and then proceeded to prepare me for what she referred to as "The Ceremony". I had no idea what was in store for me. I also thought about what Hutch must be going through, did he have any clues? What would he do if he could not find me before it was too late?
She then started to remove my clothing for a bath. I mentioned how much I liked the Police Academy showers, basically hoping to remind or perhaps inform her that I was a police officer. I was hoping that would make her stop and realize the gravity of their actions.
After being given a bath by Gail who had then disappeared along with my clothes, I grabbed a robe that was hanging nearby and ran to try and find a way out of this odd place. What I found was a dead end where I was met by a large bear, eyeing me as if I were to be his next meal. While I searched for something, a rock, anything to use as a weapon, I was startled by a shout from above. Looking up I saw one of my captors watching from above and even enjoying this little charade.
Then just as quickly as he appeared, he was gone. I thought I had better get moving and try to find a way out, but as I started to peer around a corner to see if anyone was around, my face was greeted by a flaming torch in the hands of a sadistic cultist, one whom I believe must have been Simone's second-in-command.
All I could do was blink away the pain and blurred vision. My anger had reached its peak. I jumped him and proceeded to get away once again after leaving him a bit incapacitated. Trodding up a stairwell that appeared to lead out into daylight, I was discouraged to find two men at the top waiting for me.
Once again I had fallen into the barbaric hands of these freaks. It seemed like hours went by while I was punished for trying to escape. They took pleasure in beating me once again, this time cracking some of my ribs. All the while the other members were chanting "Simone" to the point that it finally became almost a white noise.
They then dragged me deeper into the large, cavernous zoo. I was weak, not only from lack of food and beverage, but from the lack of sleep and other abuses I had endured. Finally Gail offered me some water, which I accepted because I had come to trust her. It was only a matter of seconds before I started to experience severe, painful cramps in my stomach. Gail then realized that the water they had allowed her to give me was spiked with some kind of drug or poison.
When she voiced her anger over what was done, she was rewarded with a slap across her face by the bearded one. Just then my vision started to become distorted and blurry. I was told that I would be dead by morning and they had already given me every reason to believe that they meant what they said.
I must have blacked out again because when I came around this time, I found myself outside, suspended in air by a rope binding my wrists tightly above my head, leaving my feet barely touching the ground. . As I regained my focus and my head cleared a bit, it came to me that this must be the ceremony Gail had mentioned before. I really thought I would be killed for sure this time. I knew that Hutch wasn't always going to be there to get me out of jams like this, while at the same time I still kept some silent hope that he would prove me wrong.
From what I gathered after looking around, it appeared that everyone had a weapon or knife of some kind in their hands, Gail stood before me holding the very same knife she had used to cut off all of my clothes earlier. She looked scared and unsure of what she was about to do.
She was to initiate my apparent slaughter. I knew that if I wanted to stall for time hoping against hope that there was still some way out of this horrific nightmare, it would have to start with Gail who seemed to be faltering. I began my attempts to talk her to her senses all the while the chanting butchers were egging her on. I was petrified at the thought of what was about to take place and was very aware that this could be the way I was going to die.
I had really thought Hutch would be able to find me before it came to this, although I am sure that he turned the city inside out trying. I am saddened by the thought of the overwhelming grief he would have to go through because of this case gone wrong.
I turned my thoughts back to the matter at hand just as Gail raised the knife up over her head and came towards me. I closed my eyes and braced for the pain I expected would follow but to my surprise it never came. Instead, I felt the knife cutting the ropes that bound my hands. My legs were still weak and somewhat numb from the drugs so Gail and I landed on the hard, wooden platform in a heap.
That is when I first saw my partner; never have I been so overwhelmed by the relief and emotions that I felt at that moment. Hutch started furiously fighting off my would-be executioners and I then found myself staring at the business end of a large cleaver. I was still extremely weak and was having trouble fending off my attacker; Hutch pulled him off of me in the nick of time.
I was finally overcome with my emotions once my partner embraced me; I could not help but sob. Gail lay at my feet desperately hanging onto my leg, shivering with fear and shock. I made sure Hutch knew she was to be taken good care of and that she saved my life. Captain Dobey appeared at this point. I haven't seen such concern in his eyes since my poisoning a couple of years back.
I remember trying to stand and then the next thing I knew I was waking in an ambulance with Hutch by my side.
Huggy helped us to put the clues together leading us to the old civic zoo. As I raced to get there I was praying it would not be too late. We were so close to the 24-hour deadline.
I barely stopped the car, jumped out, and as I was running up the hill towards the main entrance to the zoo, I saw my partner hanging by his wrists in the center of a platform as if he were a side of beef in a meat packing plant. It didn't take long for me to register the crazies that were surrounding him, or the knives, axes and the chains they were wielding.
I raced to approach the platform just as a small whisper of a girl was, thankfully, cutting the ropes that bound my partner from overhead. I was filled with such rage, not to mention adrenaline, that before I knew it, I was taking on the lot of them. Starsky was doing his best to help, but it was apparent that whatever hell he had been through over the past 24 hours had taken its toll.
My knuckles were raw and bleeding after I had taken out some my frustrations on each of these brainwashed punks, frustrations that I felt from the moment I saw the savage blood on the mirror in the bathroom at the courthouse. Frustration that built on every hour that passed while I desperately searched to find Starsky before it was too late.
As soon as I saw Dobey and our reinforcements taking over the crime scene, I rushed to my buddy's side, he needed me now more than ever and I needed him with the same intensity, needed to feel him alive.
He grasped the collar of my leather jacket with both hands as much to hold himself up as anything. I could tell he was as weak as a kitten. When he asked me what took me so long, I had to smile. That's my Starsk, always trying to make light of even the worst of situations. However, there was no making light of this, even though I attempted do the same with my "nice looking nightgown you got there" comment. It was just too fresh in my mind how close we had come to experiencing a different, unthinkable conclusion.
Starsky, unable to pretend any longer that everything was fine, broke into sobs of relief. By now, Dobey had taken a kneeling position next to me, he took one look at his curly headed detective and hollered to the paramedics coming up the hill, "GET THE HELL UP HERE WITH THAT GURNEY!" A yell that would normally have Starsky cringing, did not even elicit a twitch.
Starsky then asked in a weakened, hoarse voice, that I take good care of the girl lying across his legs; he said she was innocent and had saved his life. I made sure to pass this information on to the officer who came to take her back to the station.
By now the paramedics had begun poking and prodding him and one of them proceeded to flash a penlight into my partner's eyes, paying particular attention to the one that appeared to have been burned. What did they do to you buddy? I wondered in silence.
I knew that no matter how painful it was going to be for him, we would eventually need him to tell us just what did take place so we could use his statement to keep Simone in prison for more than a lifetime. A lifetime that he almost took from my closest friend, which, in a way, would have taken mine as well.
Of course, Starsky tried to talk his way out of going to the hospital, but one look from his emotionally charged captain and he knew it was a mute point to argue. Reminding us all of the brilliant detective he was, he mentioned that they had poisoned his water, suggesting we try to find a sample for evidence. More importantly, finding it would also tell us what it consisted of for the doctors that were sure to ask.
He demanded that he be allowed to walk to the awaiting ambulance and even tried to stand up. He faltered for a moment, then as I saw that he was close to passing out, I caught him and laid him back down just as his eyes rolled back and he lost consciousness. An IV was administered and he was taken away on the gurney.
I went with them in the ambulance, not wanting to let him out of my sight. I had become so paranoid that I actually wondered if these were real paramedics, or merely more of Simone's trained freaks. As we approached the hospital, Starsky came around with a vengeance. He was thrashing about with a look of fear in his eyes that I have never seen before in all the years I have known him.
"Easy Starsk. I'm here with you and you are safe now." I had to repeat this like a mantra to soothe his frightened mind. Simone deserves the death penalty for what he has put my partner through; that is what flashed through my mind as we approached the ER.
Once we got to the examination cubicle, Starsky was very shocky and sweating profusely. They were fast to treat that problem first and foremost. His robe was removed, replaced by a hospital gown. The robe was bagged to be used as evidence later on.
The ER doctor ordered a CT scan and x-rays of his head, chest, and ribs, upon seeing the numerous bruises and abrasions that covered Starsky's body. He also noted the uneven pupil dilation in his eyes and inquired if Starsky had received any blows to his head. My blood boiled when I learned that he had been knocked unconscious twice, once in the courthouse and once upon arriving at the zoo after having been beaten by some of the members of the cult. He lost consciousness a third time after ingesting the poisonous water.
As for the lingering affects of the poison itself, Starsk had retched a couple of times in the ambulance after regaining consciousness, which immediately propelled me to radio Cap'n Dobey at the crime scene and re-enforce the need to get whatever samples of any water, food, or chemical compounds that could be found, to the hospital immediately.
They were able to do just that and after some expedited lab testing, they found that the water given to Starsky was tainted with a poisonous mixture. According to the doc, it was not a deadly mixture unless administered undiluted. The amount in the water was only enough to make him sick, controllable and/or unconscious.
The burn on his eye was second degree; they placed a patch on it after some medication was applied, something about his cornea being slightly affected. This would heal completely, thank goodness. His cracked ribs, bruises, cuts and concussion would also heal with no foreseen problems. His emotional state, memories and fear however, was going to take some time.
They insisted on keeping him overnight to monitor his head injury and run more tests on him to make sure there was no hidden damage from the poison. He would also need to be kept on the intravenous fluids because, other than the swallow of tainted water, he had not been given any food or beverage the entire time he was in captivity.
Starsky had finally fallen asleep after exhausting his attempts to get me to take him home. I was allowed to stay the night in a nearby bed. There was no way I was going to take the chance that any cult members that were not apprehended earlier would come back to finish the job or take him again. I obviously had my own fears to overcome: the fear of losing him again, fear of what could have happened, and fear of being separated and unable to protect him.
I also knew after seeing his reaction when he awoke in the ambulance that he needed me to stay. His fears were more overwhelming by far, fear of death, fear of the memories that would be fresh for quite some time and fear of being alone.
We would get through this together as we always have; I just pray that we do not get another opportunity to help each other through such an ordeal again. I guess we are in the wrong line of work to expect that much.