What is the appropriate behavior for a man or a woman in the midst of this world, where each person is clinging to his piece of debris? What's the proper salutation between people as they pass each other in this flood? Hindu Prince Gautama Siddharta, the founder of Buddhism, 563-483 B.C
The rain came down in sheets. A tropical storm was progressing up the coast and localized flooding had become a problem. But the unsub had gone on a rampage, killing 3 victims in the past 3 days. Now the team was attempting to surround his location, but in many places a boat seemed like a better choice of vehicle to navigate the storm. As they attempted to close the net, the unsub slipped through. Morgan and Reid were the only team within reach. They set off in pursuit through the deserted streets of the town, Morgan concentrating on driving while Reid conferred with the others to try and predict the next move with the oncoming storm. It was increasingly difficult to see as the rain seemed to come down even harder. “Garcia, what’s the forecast? I though the storm was dissipating.”
“Just a minute sweetie, looks like a stationary front has trapped the storm off the coast and it’s actually strengthening.” JJ broke in, “The local authorities are afraid the reservoir upriver is becoming unstable and the earthen dams may give way if this keeps up. They have contacted the governor about declaring a state of emergency to call in the National Guard.” Hotch continued, “We can’t get any backup out to you, as many roads are flooded and the locals are tied up with search and rescue. You guys should come in.” Reid shared this information with Morgan and was greeted with an angry glare. “We’ve almost got him, I’m not letting him get away now.” Morgan gripped the wheel tighter and drove on. Shortly thereafter, the unsub made a wrong turn down a flooded street and Morgan had followed.
“We’ve got him now; his vehicle doesn’t have as much clearance and should stall out soon.” Morgan predicted the event just moments before its actual occurrence and he turned smugly to Reid, “I’ll just get a bit closer…”
“We should probably stop before we get flooded as well…” Reid never finished the thought as the engine spluttered to a halt and both vehicles sat stalled in the floodwaters. The unsub got out of the car and Morgan prepared to follow. Before he could reach the door handle he felt Reid’s hand on his shoulder holding him back. “Reid, he’ll get away!” he said as he shrugged off the restraining hand, but at the look of terror in Spencer’s speechless face he turned just in time to see a wall of water crash against the side of the vehicle.
Random thoughts ran through Spencer’s mind as the vehicle was tumbled in the onslaught. “For each foot the water rises, 500 lbs of lateral force is applied to the car. 2 feet of water is enough to lift most cars. As a kid I always wondered what it would feel like to be inside the washer. It’s not really much fun. I’m glad I still have my seatbelt on.” The last thought occurred as Morgan’s body crashed down upon him as the vehicle rolled over. After what seemed like forever but was probably less than a minute, the vehicle stopped tumbling, and after teetering for a moment miraculously came to rest back on its wheels.
Reid shook his head to clear it. Morgan head rested against the driver’s side window, a deep gash bleeding profusely. His eyes were closed and he seemed not to notice the water rushing into the SUV through the broken driver’s side door and window. “Morgan, Morgan!” Reid shouted but got no answer. He felt for a pulse. In his panic it took a moment to find Morgan’s as his own beat out a rapid rhythm, but it was there, steady and strong. He took a deep breath and tried again. “Morgan!” he shouted as he shook his shoulder and was greeted this time with a moan. “Morgan, I think the reservoir’s earthen dam broke.”
Morgan opened one eye, “Spencer, stop shouting and get off my shoulder.” He took a deep breath and shook his head to clear it and winced in pain from both motions. “Where’s the unsub?”
“There is no sign of the unsub or his vehicle, they were washed away…”
“Damn, we lost him!” He hit the steering wheel with his hand and then cried out in pain, grabbing his arm.
“He probably drowned, a fate we may share if we don’t get help to get out of here. How badly are you hurt?” Reid asked with concern.
“I’m fine.” He winced as he attempted to sit up straighter. “Can you contact the team?”
Reid picked up his phone off the vehicle floor and held it up. It had taken a beating in the rollover and the screen was cracked from side. Morgan pulled out his phone. “Hey baby girl,” he began and began to cough. He handed the phone off to Reid.
“How’s my chocolate love god?” Garcia began.
“He’s been better.” Garcia was startled to hear Reid’s voice. “We need a rescue. Activate the GPS tracking for Morgan’s phone, mine’s broken. We are surrounded by almost 2 feet of water and may be pushed further from the road. Morgan needs medical help. He was in the process of getting out of the vehicle at the time the water hit and got tossed around quite a bit.” Morgan lost track of the conversation. His head was pounding and his shoulder felt like it might be dislocated. His foot had been caught in the pedals when they flipped and his leg felt like it was on fire from this ankle to his hip. He just wanted to close his eyes…
A few minutes later Reid turned to Morgan. “Morgan, Morgan stay with me.” Derek forced his eyes open. “They will be sending a helicopter. We just need to hold on a bit longer. Reid looked down to see the water had reached almost to his knees. “Morgan, we need to get up to the roof of the vehicle, to be ready for rescue.”
The process of maneuvering Morgan out the window and onto the roof of the SUV gave Spencer insight into just how badly Derek was hurt and trying not to show it. Shortly after reaching the roof Morgan lost consciousness again. Spencer held Derek as the vehicle rocked in the water. It was only a matter of time before the water started pushing the vehicle. If they overturned again, Reid had little hope of keeping both of them from drowning in the rising water. Focused on the water and Morgan’s deteriorating condition, Reid was startled when the phone rang. Spencer lifted it to his ear and heard Hotch’s voice. “Reid, the helicopter will be a little delayed. They have to rescue a family with a teenager who is recovering from surgery and bedridden. They tried to get an ambulance out, but it became trapped when the dam broke. So they will be picking up the family first.”
“Ok. Hotch, Morgan’s in and out of consciousness now. When he is conscious his speech is slurred. I’m pretty sure he has a head injury on top of a shoulder and leg injury and any internal injuries I can’t see. I’m worried he might….” Reid paused, not wanting to finish that thought. Derek was strong, he had to make it. He was distracted by the feeling of the vehicle rocking as water and debris washed by. “The SUV is starting to get pushed as the water is rising. Tell them to hurry, please.”
10 minutes later, his phone rang again. The helicopter had rescued a pregnant woman from her stalled vehicle moments before it was washed away. There would not be room for both Reid and Morgan onboard. The pilot wanted to drop the passengers before coming for them, but it would mean almost another hour before rescue. “Hotch, I don’t know if Derek has another hour. If they can fit him onboard, I can try to hold on until they get back.”
It felt like forever, but rationally Reid knew it was less than 20 minutes before he heard the helicopter approach. He strapped Derek in the lowered basket and watched his friend be lifted to safety and medical help. He gave a “thumbs up” to the pilot and watched them recede into the storm clouds.
The water continued to rise as Spencer awaited word on Morgan’s condition and the helicopter’s return. He watched the current and tried to estimate if he could reach the buildings across the street before the swiftly moving waters could sweep him away. He could feel the SUV start to rock and knew he would not be able to stay put much longer. He finally gave up and called Hotch. “Any word on Morgan, yet?”
“Reid, they just got here.” Spencer heard Aaron sigh and hesitate.
“What’s the bad news you’re not telling me?” Reid filled the awkward silence.
“The helicopter was barely able to land safely. The wind’s picking up.”
“Yeah, I kind of noticed…” Spencer shivered as a particularly strong gust cut through his rain-soaked clothes and tried to keep his teeth from chattering.
“The helicopter’s been grounded, Reid, they can’t go back for you until the storm lets up a bit.” Aaron wondered if today was the day they would lose a team member.
“Ok…I won’t be able to stay here much longer.” Reid realized that he would have to try to swim for the relative safety of the buildings if rescue was to be delayed indefinitely.
“Reid, you’ve just got to hold on for awhile.” Aaron had been worried that they would lose Morgan before medical help could reach him, now he feared they would lose Reid in the storm.
“No, Hotch, literally, I can’t stay here. The SUV is starting to float towards the river. I’m going to try to swim to the nearby buildings, climb one of the fire escapes and break into a hopefully dry and stable 2nd floor. The GPS on the phone probably won’t work after a dunking, but hopefully I’ll still be in the vicinity when the storm lets up.”
“Tree!” Reid blurted out suddenly as he saw an uprooted tree floating towards the SUV. He threw the phone down his shirt and quickly dove into the water as the tree hit the SUV and sent it awash down the street. He fought the current to reach the first fire escape. As he reached for it, a mass of debris was pushed into him and he went under. Pain raked down his ribs and he involuntarily gasped in pain, breathing in water. He came up spluttering and choking, and missed the 2nd fire escape as his back was smashed into it. He managed to get rotated so he could see downstream, and his approaching 3rd and final chance. His fingers grasped the metal ladder, and one leg slid behind it, as he wrapped his body around the ladder sideways. He knew the current would push him off, so he climbed the side of the ladder until he was above the water. He held on tight as the water and world swirled around him. He coughed up water and then began an exhausted climb. The metal rungs were cold and slippery and he lost track of the number of times he banged an elbow, chin or shin as he slowly ascended to the second floor window. He felt like a vandal as he pulled his soggy sweater down his arm and wrapped it over his hand before trying to smash through the window. He banged ineffectively against the window and could not get the double paned windows to break. “Pressure equals force divided by area,” he thought. “I can’t increase the force I am producing against the window, but if I can decrease the area I apply it over, perhaps I can create sufficient pressure to break the window.” He pulled out his keys and holding his keys in one hand, points out, he hammered against the window and it finally broke. “And it’s Physics for the WIN!” He thought, and then proceeded to badly cut his arm on the broken glass, despite the protective wrapping of his wet sweater, as he struggled to get the window open and get inside. He pushed through the window and fell onto the floor with a wet plop and lay there exhausted and panting.
ÛÛÛ ÛÛÛ ÛÛÛ
“Reid?” Hotch wasn’t sure what the last thing Spencer had said, but the whole swimming for high ground idea sounded suicidal. He realized the call had been dropped. As he prepared to call Reid back, Morgan’s doctor approached. “How’s Morgan?”
“He has a dislocated shoulder and hip, concussion, and an intercranial bleed. We need to operate to relieve the pressure, but for now he seems stable. We would need to sedate him to fix his hip and shoulder anyway. So as soon as both the neurologist and orthopedic surgeon are available, we will take him in to surgery. We will do another CT scan in the morning to see if it has resolved.”
“Thanks doctor, can we see him now?”
“The orthopedic surgeon is setting a compound fracture that came in just before the helicopter. He’s in and out of consciousness, but when he is conscious he is distressed. You can see him briefly and distract him a bit until the doctors are ready.”
Hotch motioned for Emily & Rossi to go ahead while he placed a call.”
“Garcia, thought you should know, the doctors will be taking Morgan into surgery soon. I’m on my way in to see him. But I lost phone contact with Reid. Can you keep trying to re-establish contact?”
“I’m on it, my leader. Oh, and tell my bronze baby to get well.”
“I’ll let JJ do that. Just call us back as soon as you get in touch with Reid. He’s still out in the storm and conditions are deteriorating rapidly.”
Garcia searched for a signal from Morgan’s cell, but no signal could be found.
ÛÛÛ ÛÛÛ ÛÛÛ
Reid was unsure how long he lay collapsed in a heap. He struggled upright and realized he had blood running down his arm. He pulled off his sweater to look at the gash on his arm. It was bleeding badly, though the water probably made it look worse than it was. At least that was what he hoped. He pulled out some broken glass still in the wound with shaking fingers and used his ruined sleeve to bind it. He staggered to the window and used the sweater to remove the rest of the glass, then he leaned out into the storm and tied the sweater to the fire escape railing above him as a sign he was there. He pulled his head back in and tried to shake the water off, and then went to examine the cell phone. As Spencer had suspected, the cell did not work after a through dunking. He carefully pulled off the battery and tried to drain any water from the inner workings. He set it down far away from the broken window and looked around the room. The building he was in was obviously under construction, though he could not tell if it was construction or remodeling work. He just hoped the downstairs was completed enough to be sturdy against the rising floodwaters. The room was bare to the four walls, except for the framing of walls where new rooms were destined to be, nothing to use to dry off or keep warm. He picked a corner away from the window and curled up. He was so tired. He debated about stripping off his wet clothes, he knew evaporation of water from his clothes would cool him further and as the temperature would probably drop as night fell, he would be at risk for hypothermia. But he was so tired; he could not keep his eyes open. He wrapped his arms around his shivering body and rested.
ÛÛÛ ÛÛÛ ÛÛÛ
“The orthopedic surgeon said everything went well. The neurologist sees no evidence of further intercranial bleeding, so if there are no further complications it looks like Morgan’s going to be ok.” JJ told Garcia.
“That’s great news…” Penelope began.
“Two things. First, I’m sending you some files. We have a request for assistance, as soon as you can get safely out of the area.”
“Ok, that’s unfortunate but not that unusual. And the other thing.”
“Our little brother is still missing. I can’t get Reid on Morgan’s cell phone, the GPS has failed and he’s been out of communication for several hours now.”
Spencer, you had better be ok JJ thought worriedly, but to Penelope she put on a brave face, “It’s probably just the storm. He said something to Hotch about finding a dry place to wait it out. I’m sure we will hear from him soon.”
“I’m not.” Garcia blurted out, “I pulled up and enhanced his last call. His exact words were the SUV is starting to float towards the river. I’m going to have to swim for the nearby buildings, and his final word was Tree! I think he could be in real trouble and he’s on his own.”
JJ swallowed hard, her stomach flipped. They had been so worried about Derek that they had realized Garcia wasn’t in contact with Reid. As she watched the storm lash the windows, she realized that they might yet lose a teammate this time.
“Well, keep trying Reid. I’ll let the bureau know that we are trapped here until the weather clears and down one, possibly two team members.” She paused and then, more to reassure herself said, “Spence is smart, if anyone can figure out how to stay alive in these conditions, he can.”
JJ finished the call and walked back to the others. Watching Emily, Rossi and Hotch as they each tried to deal with the stress of the situation. How to break it to them that Reid was out of contact when Morgan was just out of surgery?
“JJ, how’s Reid?” Hotch asked, voice tight with unspoken concern.
“Garcia has been unable to re-establish contact…it’s probably just the weather.”
Emily and Rossi seemed to accept that excuse, but Hotch looked devastated. JJ realized he had understood Spencer’s last words all too well.
ÛÛÛ ÛÛÛ ÛÛÛ
Reid awoke with a start. It took a moment to remember where he was, and then figure out what had awakened him. He realized he was wet and cold and staying still was probably not a good idea. He willed himself to get up and then suddenly froze, as a cry filled the air.
It sounded as if it was coming from downstairs. If someone was trapped below, and drowning…. Spencer staggered towards the door. He flung open the door and called out, “Is there someone trapped down here? Do you need help?”
He heard the sound of someone or something splashing in the rising water. He waded down the stairs far enough to look into the room. He laughed as he realized he had taken shelter in the small town’s general store. Rows of shelves with waterlogged products greeted him. He started to make a list of items to look for that might be still useable if soaked and help to keep him alive and heard splashing. He looked towards the sound
and saw an animal swimming towards him. “A large rat?” he wondered until a pitiful yowl made him realize it was a small mottled cat. He lifted the creature from the water and placed her on the steps. He figured while he was already wet he should seek out supplies. He had some shelter from the storm, so next water. He found himself talking to the cat. “Water, water, everywhere, Nor any drop to drink…That was from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. He suffered from addiction to the painkiller he had been prescribed, laudanum. But I’m rambling…water.” Reid dove under the surface of the water and came up with a flat of bottled water. He pushed it over to the stairs and began searching for food. After a few minutes he found peanut butter, some of the no-drain foil bags of tuna, some bags of raisins and some crackers that had been packed in plastic and were still dry. By now he was starting to feel numb from the cold of the water and realized he needed to get out, so he pulled himself to the stair case and began lugging his supplies up the stairs.
He could not believe how exhausted the task had made him. Reid sat on the floor and hugged his knees to his chest. He could not stop shivering. He felt even colder now after this second dip in the floodwaters. While neither the water nor air was that cold as it was still just late September in Virginia, as the sun set and the temperature dropped he knew that hypothermia could be an issue. He had no way to start a fire and no way to contain it safely if he could. He had no way to dry off or dry clothes to change into, but at least he was sheltered from the wind. He tried to take a deep breath and triggered a painful coughing fit, which scared the cat. He sat for a moment to rest. He knew he had probably inhaled some water and swallowed even more, so aspirant pneumonia was a possibility, but he also knew the rising floodwaters were a greater danger to him right now. Sometimes he thought he knew too much, that’s what Derek would say. He smiled at the thought then frowned, wondering if Derek was ok.
ÛÛÛ ÛÛÛ ÛÛÛ
“Agent Hotchner” the Doctor came out, startling the team members who were gathered in the waiting area, trying to focus on the files that had been sent as they awaited any news.
Aaron was standing almost immediately. “Yes doctor, is something wrong?”
The doctor smiled, “Quite the contrary, Agent Morgan is awake, if you’d like to see him. Just for a few minutes, because he’s still fairly weak. Hopefully you can set his mind at ease. He’s awoke concerned about someone named Reed?”
Hotch blanched. He swallowed hard and replied “Agent Spencer Reid was his partner out in the field when this happened. The rescue helicopter was full and had to leave him behind when they brought Morgan in. We’ve lost communication with him in the storm.”
“Oh.” The doctor paused. “I would not advise giving the patient any information at this time that might upset him.”
Emily stood up, “We can’t lie to him.”
“I wasn’t suggesting that,” the doctor stated, “just not giving him any distressing details at this time.”
Rossi stood and placed a hand on Emily’s shoulder. “We will simply tell him that Reid wasn’t able to make it to the hospital because of the flooding and the storm has knocked out communications, but we will make sure Reid contacts him as soon as the storm allows.”
“Come on; let’s try to put Derek’s mind at ease.” With that Hotch strode from the waiting area, followed by Prentiss and Rossi.
ÛÛÛ ÛÛÛ ÛÛÛ
Another coughing fit stirred Spencer from inaction. Reid cracked opened a water bottle with trembling fingers and drank greedily. He was somewhat surprised that he felt so thirsty when he was surrounded by water. He forced himself to eat a few peanut butter crackers. Spencer was surprised when the small cat came up and pressed its nose against the bottle. “Are you thirsty buddy?” He asked the cat and poured some water into the lid of the peanut butter jar. “You are lucky to have found some shelter in this storm, hopefully it will remain a safe place for both of us. Right now I’d give the odds of making it out of this mess alive about 50-50. So I guess for the moment I could say we are both dead and alive, and we won’t determine which is the case until the storm is over.” The cat had lapped water thirstily and then climbed onto Spencer’s lap. The cat reached out a paw like the Asian beckoning cat. He picked it up in his hands and stared into its green eyes. “That was a physics joke. I can’t keep calling you cat, so if you don’t mind, I think I’ll call you Schrödinger.” He stroked the soft fur and could feel its ribs clearly. “I bet you are hungry.” With that he opened a packet of tuna. He ate a few bits, turned the rest over to the cat, and then he curled up tightly and drifted off to sleep. The small cat ate hungrily, licking the foil clean.
ÛÛÛ ÛÛÛ ÛÛÛ
There were few places Hotch hated more than a hospital room filled with whirring and beeping machines. It seemed as if Morgan had been awaiting his arrival as Derek immediately tried to talk and started coughing. Emily quickly filled a cup with water and held the straw to his lips. The team attempted to reassure him that Spencer was safe, but Morgan saw through their ruse. Derek stared out the window at the rain. “You’d better be ok, kid.”
Emily pulled up a chair and offered to read to Derek from the Kurt Vonnegut novel she had in her go bag. Rossi took the other chair, and Aaron stepped back into the hall to get some more coffee. He called Garcia to give her the update, and then dragged a chair into Morgan’s room to wait out the storm.
ÛÛÛ ÛÛÛ ÛÛÛ
Reid awoke with a start. Night had fallen and it was dark within the room. Outside he could hear the storm raging. Inside a small warm body was pressed against his chest. In his sleep he had curled his long fingers into the soft fur. As the small cat slept soundly, he wondered what had awoken him. The wind had shifted, and rain was streaming in through the broken window. He figured that was it and had almost fallen back to sleep when a loud cracking sound filled the air. Schrödinger sat up and hopped from his arms. Spencer stood and went to the window. He stuck his head out into the rain and looked for the source of the sound. As an awning floated by, he realized that one of the buildings at the far end of the street had broken up in the force of the flood waters and was washing down the street. Fear filled the pit of his stomach. There was no higher ground to go to. He could only hope that the storm would subside before this building became unstable. He huddled back into the far corner of the room to await the end of the storm. Would he greet the morning, or death? It wasn’t much fun being the cat in the box of Schrödinger’s thought experiment. At that point the cat climbed into his lap and began kneading with his needle sharp claws. To save his lap, he picked up the beast in his arms and began cuddling and stroking it. At least he could calm the animal, blissfully unaware of their potential fate.
ÛÛÛ ÛÛÛ ÛÛÛ
The sky had lightened and the rain let up towards morning. Derek was taken for a follow-up CT scan. The team had gone down to the cafeteria for breakfast or at least coffee. Aaron was startled when a local Sheriff’s deputy walked up and motioned him away from the rest of the team.
“A body was discovered this morning. A drowning victim, approximately 6 feet tall, slender, brown hair,” the deputy shifted uncomfortably, “The M.E. said it’s not a local, so ....” The deputy trailed off at the look of sadness in Hotch’s eyes. “If you’d like to accompany me to the morgue, we need you to identify the body.”
Aaron looked over at Emily and Dave smiling. The doctor felt Derek’s CT scan this morning was just a formality as he was much improved. They hadn’t told him about Spencer yet. He figured he would let everyone be happy a little longer, until he knew something certain. He nodded at the deputy and they left.
One of the few placed Aaron hated more than hospital rooms was the morgue. He approached the body with trepidation. He never expected having to identify Reid’s body in the line of duty. He stared at the sheet, trying to remember what drowning did to a body to prepare himself, but there was no way to prepare for the thought of Spencer gone.
“Agent Hotchner, I asked if you were ready.” The M.E. asked again. Startled from his thoughts, he nodded.
The doctor pulled back the sheet to reveal a stranger. It was not Spencer. Relief washed over him. “I think its our unsub. I’ll get Garcia to fax you his files for positive identification.”
Hotch stepped into the hallway to call Garcia. “You have reached the office of the Queen of Data. Speak your needs my supplicant?”
“I need you to send the files on the unsub to the local M.E.’s office to assist with identification.” Hotch said succinctly. He wanted to hear that she had been in contact with Reid and he was safe and well, but knew that was unlikely.
“Sir, JJ called to let me know that Derek’s CT scan was clear, he will be ok. No word from Spencer yet…”
“Keep trying. The storm is letting up. Maybe we will hear something soon.” Hotch broke the connection. He made his way back to Morgan’s room. He figured the team would be gathered there.
ÛÛÛ ÛÛÛ ÛÛÛ
Spencer was awaked by purring in his ear and a small nose touching his. He smiled at the cat and then tried to move. He was stiff, his arm hurt, and he felt both hot and cold at the same time. “Hypothermia and a fever from infection?” he wondered. He crawled over to where the cell parts lay and reassembled the phone with shaking hands. He thought he saw a power light briefly flare and then fade out. Nothing. He had to convince himself not to throw the phone across the room in frustration. He opened another bottle of water for himself and more tuna for the cat. He tried to make himself eat, but couldn’t manage more than one peanut butter cracker. He huddled back in his corner. His shelter had survived. He was still alive. He just had to stay that way until he could be rescued.
ÛÛÛ ÛÛÛ ÛÛÛ
“Hotch, where have you been?” JJ asked as he entered the Morgan’s room.
“I was asked to go to the morgue to identify a body.” Every eye in the room turned to look at Hotch with various degrees of fear and dread. “It looks like our unsub is dead.”
“But what about Reid?” Derek asked.
“The helicopter just got the go ahead to resume the search. Hopefully we will get news soon.” JJ added.
“Unfortunately that also means the rest of the team can travel to our next case. As the storm has disrupted travel along the coast, so we are the only team available. Wheels up in two hours.” Agent Aaron Hotcher tried to sound professional, but even he could not hide the misery from his voice at the thought of leaving without the complete team.
Derek sank back into the bed and whispered plaintively, “But what about Reid?”
ÛÛÛ ÛÛÛ ÛÛÛ
Garcia looked at her computer screen. Her program had received a brief signal from Morgan’s phone. It hadn’t been active long enough for her to call, but she had a GPS position. Hopefully this meant that their wunderkind was alive and at least well enough to be fiddling with the phone. She relayed the info to the local authorities and then called JJ.
“Penelope, have you got news?”
“Well, the office that requested help said thanks for the profile. They never expected such a quick response with the storm. They used it to bring in a suspect who confessed, so case closed. The team is allowed to stay until Derek is cleared to travel home. And I got a brief GPS ping from Morgan’s phone. There’s no guarantee Reid still has the phone on him, but…”
“But that’s the best news we’ve had yet. Thanks.”
ÛÛÛ ÛÛÛ ÛÛÛ
The helicopter headed to search the area starting at the last known location and heading towards the position Garcia had relayed. The pilot spotted a sweater tied to the fire escape. In just a few minutes, the rescuer was entering the room.
“Sir, I need you to wake up. Can you tell me your name?”
Spencer’s eyes flicked open in surprise, but he answered automatically, “I’m Dr. Spencer Reid.”
“Dr. Reid are you hurt? Can you stand up? I need to get you out of here.”
“I’m ok. I can stand.” With that statement Spencer struggled awkwardly to his feet. His rescuer quickly got an arm around the slight young man as he swayed unsteadily on his feet. “But I can’t leave Schrödinger…”
The cat responded to the name and wound itself around their feet. It took reassurances that the cat would be rescued too before Reid would agree to leave.
ÛÛÛ ÛÛÛ ÛÛÛ
“Mild hypothermia, aspirant pneumonia, some cracked ribs and a nasty cut on his arm that needs cleaning and stitching. We will be admitting him, putting him on oxygen and antibiotics until we are sure the infections are under control.” The doctor gave the report to Hotch and Emily while JJ and Rossi waited in Morgan’s hospital room, trying to keep Morgan from dragging himself out of bed as they awaited word. “You can see him as soon as we get him settled into his room.”
They returned upstairs to share the news and found Derek insisting Emily and JJ steal a wheelchair to take him to see Reid. They were still reassuring him when a nurse came in and began to ready the other bed in the room. “Sorry Mr. Morgan, but your private room just became semi-private.
They all turned to see a slender, pale young man rolled into the room and transferred efficiently to the bed. There was a flurry of activity as nurses hung new bags of fluids and antibiotics on the IV stand, set the flowmeter, prepared the nasal cannula, and placed warmed blankets over him. When the medical staff left, they could finally see Reid looking small and frail in the hospital bed, eyes half closed in exhaustion.
Hotch and JJ, Rossi and Emily all gathered around his bed. “Spence,” JJ spoke quietly, reluctant to disturb him but needing to know that he was ok.
Reid’s eyes flicked open. His eyes scanned the room searching, first in confusion until he determined where he was (hospital, again) and then for the missing. “Where’s Derek? Is he ok?”
Rossi and Emily stepped aside so Reid could see to the hospital bed next to him. “I can’t let you out of my sight for a minute without you getting in trouble, can I, kid?” Morgan said brightly. Now that the others had moved aside he could see for himself that Reid was alive, if a little worse for wear. He smiled at Reid and was gratified to see the smile returned.
Reid then turned his head towards Hotchner and whispered, “the unsub…” his thought was interrupted by a coughing fit. “He’s dead.” Aaron placed a hand on Reid’s shoulder, “You need to get some rest.” Spencer nodded and then asked one last question before the need for sleep won out, “Where’s Schrödinger?”
ÛÛÛ ÛÛÛ ÛÛÛ
“Reid’s going to be ok.” JJ relayed the news to Garcia.
“That’s great. So when can my pretty boys come home.”
“The hospital says another 24 to 48 hours, and then we can all come home. Garcia, Spence keeps talking in his sleep, asking where’s Schrödinger? Any idea what he’s on about?”
“A quantum physics thought experiment about probabilities and observations. A cat is placed in a box with a radioactive material that has a 50% chance of decay during the time the cat is in the box. If it decays, then a poison is released, killing the cat. Until you make an observation and force it into one state or the other, the cat is considered to be both dead and alive as both outcomes are equally probable.”
“So probably just something he focused on when he was wondering if he would make it through the storm.”
“Either that or he found a cat.” Garcia laughed as they ended the call.
ÛÛÛ ÛÛÛ ÛÛÛ
The doctor on morning rounds had declared both men could be discharged that afternoon. Spencer had spoken no more about Schrödinger or any of his time alone waiting out the storm. As they began preparations for leaving, a young woman came up carrying a small mottled cat in her arms. “Schrödinger?” Reid spoke quietly, unsure of himself.
“Schroeder actually. He belonged to the elderly music teacher in town. He was hospitalized for a heart condition a few weeks before the storm and he passed away a few days ago. He had no family to speak of, so” she paused to take a nervous breath, “I wondered if you were interested in adopting him. I don’t think he would object to a name change. Schrödinger seems appropriate.”
Reid looked nervously to his teammates. Their lifestyle wasn’t exactly conducive to pets, but…
Emily spoke up first. “We’ll need an airline approved carrier for the flight home. I bet if we ring up Garcia she’ll have a full kitty condo decked out at your place before we make it home.”
Spencer smiled. It was nice to be back with his work family. And it would be nice to be greeted by a friend at home. Reaching for the cat, he whispered, “Hello Schrödinger!”
Time spent with cats is never wasted. Sigmund Freud