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"At the last moment, when disaster seemed positive, he pulled his hands from his pockets and broke his fall by grasping the golden pole [location: fire station]. He slid to a squeaking halt, the heels one inch from the concrete floor downstairs" p.10 Fahrenheit 451.

"To come to a screeching halt", meaning to end abruptly, is a recognized idiom and it fits into this context but I don't know if it's interchangeable with the expression in the quote.

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  • I agree with AmaiKotori's answer and just want to add that you would normally use "to come a screeching halt" when you are talking about motor vehicles, not humans. Commented Dec 28, 2021 at 11:20

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The usage here is meant literally more than idiomatically—the noise made by hands sliding against a metal pole is much more of a 'squeak' than a 'screech.'

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