Lament for the Lost
* Mike Charlie India, or MCI means mass casualty incident. This is sometimes given a ten-code at some police departments, but not all
The city of Zootopia never sleeps. It never slows down, never stops, never blinks as it rushes through the days, weeks, months, years. Mammals come and go, change, grow up, grow old. Some live happy lives, full of joy and laughter. Some just drag through each day, wishing for something better. Some strive to perfection, others thrive in mundane.
And sometimes, something happens that is so profound that it shakes everyone.
Some more than others.
On this day, two figures stood on a lone hilltop that overlooked the city’s downtown core. While some remembered the day as one of chaos and confusion, others just moved about their lives without a care in the world. Some, though would never forget the day and the pain it wrought 16 years ago…
Sixteen years ago
Lieutenant Judy Wilde was just finishing putting on her uniform when her fox walked back into the room after his shower. They’d been married for over a year now, a year that had been both groundbreaking and divisive for mammals, as they had been the first confirmed fox and bunny married couple in history. It was par for the course for them, though, as trailblazers. The two were still the most effective team in the ZPD, allowed to stay partners despite their personal relationship, thanks to that effectiveness.
They didn’t always work as a pair though. Sergeant Nicholas Wilde would be supervising the officers in the downtown core today, while Judy would be back at the precinct working with Chief Higgins and Captain Wolford to integrate the new recruits. Bogo had been moved up to commissioner several years ago.
Nick was still getting dressed when he felt a pair of small but exceedingly strong arms snake around him, hugging him from behind. He smiled. Judy had always been the huggy type, and the time they’d had together had only amplified that. She craved contact with him in whatever way he would accept, as much or more than he needed contact with her.
“Still up for dinner tonight, Slick? I have something special planned…” Her voice never failed to make him smile. Turning, he stared into eyes made of twin amethysts.
“You know it, Lieutenant Carrots. Just don’t get started without me,” he grinned, pressing a kiss to her nose, which invariably started it twitching. It never failed, and it always made him laugh when she covered her nose, trying to get the twitching to stop. So cute.
And yes, he was allowed to use that word to describe her. One of the many, many perks of being married.
The two mammals made a game of finishing dressing the fox and getting out the door, heading off to work in their shared sedan. Early in the morning as it was, they managed to beat most of the traffic, and walked into the precinct with plenty of time to spare. Sharing one last kiss, Judy headed for the administration offices, while Nick headed for the bullpen.
An hour and a briefing later, and Nick was on the streets in the duos supervisor cruiser. As a sergeant on duty, he had command of all the officers assigned to the downtown core, a responsibility he shared with two others for this particular shift.
He’d just finished settling a dispute between an officer and a mammal who didn’t think she should be ticketed for driving 15 miles over the speed limit when he heard the rumble of a jet and an odd shadow passed overhead. The fox looked up.
If his fur changed colour with his skin, he would have turned into an arctic fox on the spot. Not 800 feet above him, a jetliner screamed low over the city. The fox tracked the jet and watched in horror as it slammed head-on into the Unity tower.
The symbol of harmony was in flames. Screams and shouts from horrified onlookers filled the air. A moment of hesitation later, and the fox jumped back into his cruiser and grabbed the radio.
“Dispatch this is Sergeant Wilde. We have a Mike Charlie India (*), Unity tower. Large aircraft has impacted the building. Requesting all available units respond.”
“Sergeant Wilde, Dispatch, 10-4. All units, all units, please respond to the corner of Harmony Avenue and Center Street. MCI in progress.”
Throwing the cruiser into a rapid turn, the fox sped towards the unfolding horror.
Lieutenant Wilde was busy getting ready for the mid-morning shift’s briefing when Wolford barged into her office. He looked shell shocked and out of breath.
“Judy, you need to see this,” the large canine said as he turned on the small TV in the corner.
The images that poured forth shocked the little rabbit to her core. Streams of people running in all directions. Bits of what looked like paper everywhere. Flames pouring out of the top floors of the unity tower. The sounds of sirens could be heard clearly, and Judy caught a glimpse of a very familiar fox, directing officers to their duties while at the same time trying to managed the panicked mob of civilians.
It was chaos. It was mayhem.
It was horror.
A chime sounded overhead as the precinct intercom was activated.
“All commanding officers report to briefing room 2. All commanding officers report to briefing room 2.”
The TV was turned off, and the two officers left the room in a hurry, wondering what on earth was happening. Arriving at the briefing room, the two took whatever seats were available. Chief Higgins was at the podium already, and as the last of the Cos filed in, he began.
“OK, everyone, shut up. At 8:46 today, we had a jet airliner slam into the Unity tower. We have units on the scene, but this is a mass casualty incident. We’re going to be dealing with a lot here, so we need to be coordinated about this.”
“Wilde, you will be quarterbacking the backup from the other precincts. We’ve already called for help. Get the downtown core evacuated, and secure the district. Grizzoli, get on the horn with the ZTA, and order them to shut down all trains into the core. Same with the busses. Coordinate with Wilde on using these assets to assist the evacuation. Wolford. Get all the tac and incursion teams ready. All of them. Fangmeyer, Delgato, get every off duty officer in here and get them to work. You and Trunkaby can handle all of the briefings. Clawhauser, you are dispatch supervisor. I want clean radio frequencies until further notice.”
Before anyone could move however, another mammal barged into the room, out of breath. “Sirs, you need to see something…”
Nick Wilde was just starting to get things under control when all hell broke loose. Again. A tingling in the back of his neck told him to look up, just in time to see a plane. Another plane. This time, just as it slammed into the Freedom tower.
Things had gone from worse to complete and utter hell. He turned to the remaining officers in front of him. “OK, change of plans. Howlton, Hornby, you stay with your squad out here and get everyone away from the buildings. Antlerson and James, you two come with me. We’re going in to make sure people get out of the Freedom tower.”
“Yessir!” came the response as the four moved to affect his bidding.
The fox turned to look back at the inferno that had engulfed the top quarter of the Freedom tower. He took a deep breath and let it out.
Trust. Integrity. Bravery. Three virtues he swore to uphold when he joined the ZPD. With that in mind, he charged toward the burning building. He would not dishonor those virtues.
The building interior was pandemonium. The main lights were off, the fire alarms were sounding, and the backup lamps dimly lit what was not illuminated by the bright morning sun outside. The fox left Antlerson to coordinate the evacuation at the ground floor and ran up the small mammal stairs, taking them two or three at a time when possible, a difficult prospect considering he was moving against the flow. James, a lion, had taken the medium mammal stairs.
Half an hour later, the fox could go no further. Above the 70th floor, there was nothing but wreckage and fire. The fox turned and began the long descent, checking every floor as he went. He’d just passed the 35th floor when a rumbling began above him. The building began to shake, the walls cracking and buckling
Trust, integrity, bravery. I, Nicholas Wilde, promise to be brave, loyal, helpful, and trustworthy.
The fox knew he would not make it. As the rumbling grew louder, he thought back on his life. His mom smiling as she looked at him in his Ranger Scouts uniform. The first time he met Judy. Solving the Night Howler case. Her smile as she pinned the badge on his chest. The look of pride on Judy’s and his mom’s face at his graduation. His and Judy’s first date. Their first kiss. The moment he proposed to her. How breathtaking she looked in her wedding gown. The first time they consummated their love. And so many other happy, wonderful times in his life. Most of them dominated by a beautiful gray rabbit.
“I love you, Judy. I’m sorry…”
Two lone figures stood atop the hill overlooking downtown Zootopia, and the empty space where the Unity and Freedom towers had once stood.
Many officers were attending the official ceremonies throughout the city. But for Chief Judy Wilde, to be anywhere else today was a blasphemy.
That day had taken almost everything from her. She remembered the dread when she saw the towers fall, knowing Nick was somewhere in the thick of it. The crushing despair when he didn’t come home that night. The cautious hope when mammals were discovered alive in the wreckage. And the absolute devastation when they finally found his body a week later.
She’d been inconsolable for weeks. She might have even given up, but for the mammal standing beside her.
The reason she’d planned a special dinner in the first place.
15-year-old Junior police cadet Nicole Wilde stood beside her mother on the hill. She’d been here every year on this day to visit the father she never knew. And yet, thanks to the stories she’d heard from her mother and grandmother, and even some who had escaped thanks to the actions of one brave fox, she felt like she knew him implicitly. She knew he had a hard life growing up, but he’d turned that around.
He’d been the reason foxes were now seen as respectable and trustworthy, instead of sly and conniving. He and her mother had broken down some of the final barriers between predator and prey, she herself being living evidence of that. A hybrid of bunny and fox, she carried her lineage with pride, and had dreamed of following in her father’s and mother’s pawsteps ever since she was a child.
Two small mammals, united as family and in their shared grief of one lost so suddenly, stood alone atop that hill, framed by trees and flowers and overlooking the city skyline. Between them and the skyline, a single grave marker.
Sergeant Nicholas Piberius Wilde
July 25, 1965 – September 11, 2001
Beloved husband and son
“Greater love hath no mammal than this, that he would lay down his life for his friends.” -John 15:13
This story was written to honour the 412 first responders lost in New York City on September 11, 2001. Of these 412, 343 were New York firefighters, 37 were Port Authority police officers, 23 were New York police officers, 8 were emergency medical technicians, and one was a patrolman for the New York fire patrol.
For the names of these fallen heroes, please visit: https://goo.gl/Zr5gUX