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Consumed

Consumed

Page 28

His stare swung back to her. “First of all, I’ll do what I want with my eyes. And second, I’m a little distracted by that.”

When he pointed over her shoulder, Anne cranked her head around. Up on the ceiling, that climber was hanging upside down by four points of contact, his hands clawed around two grips, his feet braced against a pair of others. His thigh muscles were vibrating, his forearms shaking. Drops of sweat fell like to the mats that were a good twenty feet below him, their soft impacts ringing out in the silence of the crowd, a metronome marking the time that was running out for him.

The kid was in good shape, for sure, well muscled and lean. But he’d let enthusiasm get ahead of his skills and strength, and now he was freaked out and stuck. Without a safety harness on.

Chris was talking to him. “Just stay where you are, my man. We’re coming for you.”

Anne ran across. “Let me run a harness up to him—”

“Chilli’s on it.” Chris dropped his voice. “I told him to stop. But he mounted the wall before I could—”

The guy’s foot fell free and the crowd gasped. Chilli, the other receptionist, was going as fast as he could, stepping into his own harness and buckling himself in. Good luck, Anne thought. Even if he moved like the wind, things were degrading too fast overhead and this was going to get bad. Time to get her phone—

“I’m already calling it in to EMS.” Danny put his cell up to his ear. “He’s going to hit hard.”

“Hang on, my man!” Chris called out.

The fifteen or so people let out another gasp as, sure enough, the guy lost his other foothold and swung free, all Spidey between two ’scrapers without the web. God, those hands. They were getting more slippery because of the sweat, and with all that weight hanging off them?

Anne went over to the crowd and held her arms out wide. “Let’s back up, folks. Way back.”

She put herself in front of a young girl, who had to be about twelve or so. “Hey, I love that shirt.”

The girl looked down. “I, ah . . . it’s my camp.”

“I went to Camp Hill, too.” Those eyes returned to the ceiling, but Anne took a step so she was once again in the way. “What cabin were you in?”

“It says it right here.”

Just as the girl glanced at her shirt and pointed to the name, there was a collective cry, followed by a hard hit.

Anne looked at the mother and said in a low voice, “Take her into the locker room, right now.”

That snapping sound? Had been the sound of at least one, maybe two tibiae breaking.

* * *

Danny ended the call into emergency services just as the kid lost his grip and fell in precisely the wrong position. Well, wrong assuming he didn’t enjoy the fireworks that came with a pair of compound fractures: He went straight down to the mats, knees locked as if he were going into a pool, arms pinwheeling. Like that was going to help.

The landing would have been a solid ten—if this were the Jackass Olympics and Steve-O was a judge. Instead, it was a fund-raiser for an orthopedic surgeon, the left leg sustaining a compound fracture that sent the broken bone out through the skin of the shin.

As Anne held the crowd back, Dan front and centered with the climber, now patient, taking one of the writhing hands in a strong grip. Junior was sporting the T-shirt of one of the local Catholic private schools, and between the Proactiv complexion and the clear issues with risk assessment, it was obvious they were in minor territory.

Not that people who had reached or surpassed the age of consent couldn’t be morons, too.

Kettle. Black.

“Stay still,” Danny said. “Help’s coming.”

“Is it broken? Is my leg—”

The kid lifted his head to look down his body, but Danny cut that bright idea off at the pass. Adding a visual to the pain was not going to help considering the lower part of that leg looked like a human anatomy exam.

“Stop moving, my man.” Danny pushed those shoulders back to the mat. “I want you to relax and take some deep breaths. What’s your name?”

“David. Dave Richmond.”

“Hey, Dave, I’m Danny. I’m a trained medic—how old are you?”

“Eighteen.”

“Are you allergic to anything?”

“N-n-n-no. Aw, man, my mom’s going to kill me.”

“Any underlying medical conditions?” Other than a garden-variety case of hormone-linked stupids. “Anything I need to know about?”

“No—what’s wrong with my leg? I can’t feel anything.”

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