Walker leaned back in his seat and took a deep breath to prepare him self for the arduous task he was about to undertake. He looked around the large white van at the other parents and, for the first time in a long while, he saw the pain etched in their faces that he knew was all over his face as well. He hoped it would all be over soon.
The dark blue van he had been told about was sitting by the Burger King exit, its engine still running, and a young man sitting in the driver’s seat looking excited and nervous. Two men hopped out of the vehicle, one tall and one short, and began walking towards them. Walker took one last look at the occupants of his van before slowly opening the door and sliding out tediously before his feet touched the pavement. Later Walker wouldn’t remember crossing the large expanse of fresh black asphalt and standing before his children’s antagonizers.
"Mr. Hanson, I presume?" The shorter of the two men asked.
He nodded in stony silence.
"Call me Mac, this is Will." He started. He looked Walker up and down before replying, "You seemed to have lost something on the way over here. Where’s the money?"
Walker stood up straighter, squaring back his shoulders, "You’ll get your money as soon as we see our sons. We know what you’re willing to do for money and we want to make sure our kids are still alive."
Mac turned to Will and nodded once. The tall man produced a small handgun that was hidden from anybody’s view but the three men talking in the middle of a parking lot.
"We should hope this will be enough to convince you that your sons are alive. Take our word for it, they’re still kickin’. You heard Scott moaning and groaning earlier."
Walker had taken a quick step back before regaining his composure. He was glad for the bulletproof vest the detective had insisted he wear, "Fine." He snarled. This was getting out of hand and Walker had a very bad feeling about all of this.
He turned on his heel and jogged back to his van and turned the handle that would open the door to reveal his sons’ hard-earned money and Frank and Darlana’s kids as well. He motioned to Frank to hop out and help him carry the ten packs, each holding one hundred thousand dollars apiece, over to the other van. They each took three and came back for the last two only to see Diana, Darlana, and Sheila carrying them along instead. Diana took up the lead, carrying the extra bag over her other shoulder and came abreast of the two men who were responsible for the kidnappings of her sons. She dropped the bags and their feet, pulling her fist back as she did so, and walloped Mac in the eye with her iron-like fist.
"Son of a bitch!" Mac staggered back, covering his nose with a hand and held the other up as a pathetic attempt of protection as Walker and Frank pulled the frantic Diana back to the van. Sheila and Darlana stayed to apologize but Will started talking.
"I guess that one was coming to us. I’m just happy Mac took it for the team instead. Go on, get back to your car. As soon as we get these loaded up we’ll meet you back here to tell you where your boys are."
Will led the mumbling Mac away, carrying two of the bags over each arm. Upon reaching the van he hurled one bag in after the other to where the other six were waiting. Will ushered Mac into the front, beside Jamie and suddenly, jumped in the van himself, the tires squealing, raising a thick veil of smoke around the vehicle, and they were off.
The three women clutched at each other in shear disbelief. Frank had taken to running after the getaway vehicle and Walker was yelling obscenities at anything that got between him and his van. He gripped the radio that he’d had installed and started yelling into the mic for Officer Bacon to "get your ass down here" in a less then kind voice.
"Jesus…oh Jesus their getting away!" Darlana wailed.
Out of the blue five blue and white striped police cars spun around the corner of the fast food joint, their sirens blaring at top volume, and they sped off after the rapidly retreating van.
"God forbid those bastards get away." Frank came back huffing and puffing.
"What about our babies? What about our babies!" Sheila’s voice was rapidly going raw.
Hope was a luxury that none of parents could afford at the moment. Any measure of that emotion that was still fixated in their minds was quickly being depleted.
Taylor’s head began drooping once again, his greasy hair falling into glassy eyes. The heat was becoming unbearable. The aluminum sidings on the outside of the building were creating a convection affect, heating the air inside to a point that was closing in on deadly. His eyes drifted close, perhaps for the last time, as he gave up the pointless fight to stay conscious. His head dropped painfully down to his chest; the tape that was binding his hands down tightened as his weight pulled him forward.
Zac had managed to lean back somewhat so that the back of his head was resting against the chair-back as a sort of rock hard pillow. It required less energy to lie in such a position rather then sit up and use your own energy to support yourself. His long blonde hair was clumped in greasy strips; he peered through these at the baron warehouse in a desire to just be able to sit up and escape, to get away from it all.
The heat waves rose in agonizing layers from the floor of the building to the roof, showing the helpless captives inside, the ones that were still coherent, that time was a commodity that they did not have.
"Car 57, what is the chase status?"
Static, "Hostile, I repeat, hostile! Suspects are shooting at the officers, again I repeat, suspects are firing at the officers in pursuit! One on each side of the vehicle. Advise, command?"
"Stay alert officer, options are being discussed at this time."
Scott wearily eyed his family through the heat. Star looked to be long gone. She had been moaning piteously since the jack ass squad had left but now she lay in a quiet veil of death, her pallor more and more white even as the temperature became higher and higher. Everybody else within the large room was sticky and sweaty with red cheeks and droopy eyes. Star sat, staring at the ceiling, her breath coming in small painful pants. It didn’t look promising for her.
Tony had gone nearly as long without food and water as his fiancée but wasn’t as far gone as she was physically, but only in one way. The boy had lived in Alaska his entire life, far up north where it was hardly ever higher then seventy degrees. The lethal heat was taking a quick toll on his abilities to survive, his body temperature going up and up to reach the point of brain damage and swift death. Help was something they were in dire need of.
"More shots fired command! More shots fired!"
"Be advised, officers, Captain Bacon has given approval to ram the suspects vehicle. Take any actions necessary to subdue the suspects."
"Car 167 has just rammed the vehicle! Car 167 has hit the suspects’ vehicle! Suspects are fleeing the vehicle!"
"Be advised officer to shoot at will!"
"Officers have hit a suspect! Suspect down, suspect down! Shots fired at officers! K-9 units were released!"
"Officer what is the status of the other officers?"
"Pant All officers are alive and kicking Command! Alive and kicking!"
"What is the status of the suspects?"
"K-9 unit five has brought down a-Oh God! Suspect has shot and disabled a K-9 unit! And the suspect is down! All suspects are subdued command!"
"Are any of the suspects alive officer?"
"Command, one suspect is still alive. He has just told us the whereabouts of the missing individuals!"
"Officer, you are advised to repeat the address to Command at once!"
"They know where they are?" Walker yelled into the receiver, "Oh Jesus thank you! Where are they!?"
Walker’s eyes darted back and forth as the lady officer on the phone with him gave him directions. He slammed the phone down in the cradle and rushed to grab his coat.
"Walker! Where did they find them?" Sheila demanded to know.
"They told us to meet them at the emergency room at Tulsa General. Lets go!" He shouted at the other four adults.
Outside they were all ushered into four awaiting police cars and sped to the hospital at all possible speed. The children were alive!
The first thing Isaac was aware of was the gentle hand on his shoulder, shaking cautiously to rouse him from his hunger-induced slumber. He didn’t feel like awaking to the evil smirks of his captors but the hand was very persistent and stayed soft the entire time and Isaac decided to risk opening his brown eyes. What he saw overwhelmed him so much that he started to sob that very instant. Paramedics and police officers were swarming the place like locusts hell bent on finding some sort of food. His prayers had been answered, if somewhat belatedly.
The blonde haired man in front of him started talking, "Hey buddy, I’m just gonna take this nasty tape off your mouth, ok? Everything’s fine now…you’re gonna be ok."
Isaac held his wobbly head as still as he could while the man proceeded to remove the bothersome strip of duct tape and for the first time in an eternity, he was able to lick his bleeding chapped lips.
Zac was sobbing as his rescuers tried to get the binding tape off of his wrists. The poor boy was a wreck but too weak to do anything other then tremble and try in vain to pull away.
"Ple-." Isaac started hacking hideously, hoping for any sort of moisture to be given to his parched throat. The blonde man answered that silent plea.
Isaac tried again, "Please… he got beat bad… they’re scaring him." Isaac’s sobbing almost made him incoherent but the man understood him enough to wave his fellow paramedics off the drummer.
"Well Isaac, what do you think we should do?" The man asked in all seriousness.
Isaac’s head dipped back and was held up by somebody Isaac hadn’t even known was there and he blinked to clear his mind, "Get Tay or me over there."
Taylor was in much better condition compared to Isaac, who was still strongly feeling the effects of the Thorazine, and he was helped to his feet and supported the entire way over to their little brother.
"Zac, buddy…calm down. They got Mac and them… they’re here to help. We’re gonna see mom and dad soon. The sooner you get outta your chair and in the ambulance the sooner we can eat and drink and see mom, dad, and the kids. Come on buddy." Taylor’s breath ran out finally, he collapsed against his paramedic friends and had to be put on a gurney to be wheeled to a waiting ambulance.
Bob, Clint, Dave, and Scott had already been packed away and were well on their way to Tulsa General. Star and Tony were being dealt with accordingly.
Zac looked the other direction as his saviors began pulling away the tape that held him captive and started to heave dry heaves at what he saw.
"NO! OH MY GOD! STAR! PLEASE STAR WAKE UP! NOOO! Oh god….STAR!"
Zac had looked in time to see the big silver zipper pulling the black body bag closed as it passed by her pale face. Star’s cold lifeless body was wheeled away with Zac’s screaming.
Zac’s body wouldn’t tolerate the abuse any longer and finally gave up its futile fight and forced Zac to pass out, making the rescuers work that much easier.
Isaac and Taylor had long since left, leaving only the unconscious body of Zac behind with the police detectives and the EMT’s.
"Poor baby." One murmured, brushing a long dirty lock of hair behind Zachary’s ear, "He got the brunt of it. Look at him! He’s one giant bruise. He’s scared of everything too."
"Ann, this one didn’t pull through." One of the paramedics pointed to another black body bag, this one holding Tony.
"Who on earth would do this to these poor kids?"
One of the detectives looked up from his work, "The three assholes are all dead. One of em lived long enough to tell us that the fourth accomplice had been attacked earlier by a bear and killed and that one of the men contacted in Alaska was actually part of this whole thing. Locals are going up there to drag his sorry ass to jail. Bastard deserves nothing less then death if you ask me. But since you didn’t…. you didn’t hear all that from me." He smiled.
The paramedics nodded knowingly, poking an IV line into Zac’s dry skin, "His veins are nearly collapsed, Rob! The poor thing’s been without fluids for an awful long time…" She felt tears stinging her eyes. Only inhuman monsters could so something so horrible.
One of the lead doctors, juggling multiple charts with the aid of a nurse, stepped into the room, "Walker, Diana, Sheila, Darlana….and Frank I presume?"
They all nodded without a sound.
"I’m Dr. Andrews. Call me Andria. Your sons are ready to see you. But don’t get up yet." She sighed, shooing her nurse away to find other duties, "I’m afraid we have some bad news."
All five parents dropped painfully back into their hard plastic chairs.
"Two of the children didn’t make it. They died at the scene."
The adults gripped hands painfully, not wanting any of their children to have been the two that died.
The doctor took a deep breath, adjusting her glasses, "Your daughter and another child that was taken…they passed on."
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