“The Chase is On”
by Beej, Jo, Marie and Stacey
"Don't lose him!" Zack yelled, as he jumped into the passenger side of Maximus' car. His heart was pounding. He knew if they didn't catch Dwayne now he'd surely try and flee the country. "Cort with Alex? He okay?"
"Hurt some," Maximus replied. "Car hit him. But he was able to go inside." He was trying to clamp his teeth, to keep the speeding SUV in sight. There were so many curves, so many clumps of trees, that it was hard. His car was making a strange rattling noise, too, from where the SUV had rammed it. All he cared about, though, was that it still operated so that he could stay behind Dwayne's car.
Zack checked the rounds in his sidearm. Empty. As he pulled out a fresh clip and reloaded, he decided he'd better call Bud and John and let them know what was happening. He pulled out his cell phone, dialed Bud's number. He just hoped that one of them would be able to come and help out in the situation.
here. Is this you, Grant?" Bud recognized the number of his new
"Yeah, it's me. Bud, listen, we need back-up, stat! That Campbell fellow has
a couple of hostages, at least one of them is injured, the other - his wife, is
pretty heavily drugged, it appears. He's got some accomplice working with him,
tried to run me over then started shooting. He's pretty heavily armed -
automatic weapons. Maximus and I are in pursuit now. Think you can rendezvous
Bud was back in the Sheriff's office. He grabbed a shotgun and a couple
of extra clips for his handgun.
"Oh, my way, Grant. Where are you?" They needed more backup, but when he left Biebe and Bonnie they were off to Coff's. They'd be too far away. "I'll be alone." Bud stuffed shotgun shells in his pocket and headed out the door. He was still on his phone.
Zack braced himself as they rounded a sharp curve, swore under his breath, "We're just coming up past that weird glass house - you know the one - that looks like an alien ship crash landed? Think you can take a short-cut, maybe head the fucker off?"
Bud jumped into his cruiser. "Yeah, I know that weird fucker of a house you're talking about. The shitbird who lives there is as weird as the house." Bud peeled out of the driveway with tires screeching.
"I'm coming your way. ETA is 5 minutes. Vehicle description?"
"Black SUV," Zack replied, "Can't miss it! It's the one doing 100 fucking miles an hour through town!"
Mentally Bud went through where all his girls were. They should all be
home and safe except Marie who was working safely in Coffs.
"Right. How many hostages versus dirt bags are in the SUV?" Bud finished with the last Velcro strap on his vest. At that speed he should rendezvous with the vehicle soon.
"Two hostiles in front, the two hostages in the back," Zack told him, as Maximus pushed
the car harder, trying to close the gap between the two vehicles.
Up ahead in the SUV, Abby was trying to make sense of what was happening. She
couldn’t understand why Dwayne was doing this and why he’d brought poor Alistair
there in the first place. She knew he’d been angry about him turning them down
when they’d asked him to perform the ceremony to renew their wedding vows, but
this? This was taking things way too far!
She struggled a bit, trying to get the cording around her wrists to loosen without Dwayne noticing, but they were tied too tightly and she didn’t have much strength in her to get the job done. She quietly began to sob, looked over to see how Alistair was doing. His eyes were half open, she thought he may be conscious now, though maybe not fully aware of what was happening. He looked as confused as she felt. Dwayne was talking into his cell phone, barking orders to someone, though she couldn't make out who or what. She leaned over, closing her eyes so that it would look to Dwayne as if she'd gone to sleep and just slumped over, and whispered to Alistair, "Are you okay?"
It took Alistair a moment to reply and then he felt as though he were trying
to form words underwater. "I...I...Abby? What...what...happened?" He desperately
needed to untwist his torso but was jammed in so tightly he couldn't move.
His head was down, his neck bent, and the extra blood flowing into it had his
head pounding and splitting even worse than before. "Dwa...Dwayne...did this?"
He had no idea why and that only added to his sense of confusion.
"Yes, though I'm not sure why," she told him, keeping her voice in a low whisper. "I have no idea where they're taking us, either. Oh Alistair, I'm afraid," she cried softly. "There were gunshots, some men were there outside trying to save us I think. I just hope they were able to follow us."
Maximus? Maybe he had been able to call the General after all? He hoped so. But shots? He didn't like that, didn't want to be the cause of getting Maximus in some sort of danger. His shoulders were pulled back way too tightly by the bonds that held his wrists. Every bit of him seemed to be hurting. It was so hard to keep his thoughts clear. "Abby," he breathed, "I think we..." But then his voice faded away.
Maximus swerved, narrowly missing a roo crossing the road. From what he'd heard of Zack's phone conversation, Bud's car should be joining them any moment. The damn SUV wasn't slowing at all, no matter what obstacles loomed before it. A mailbox went down, then a trashcan, then a row of flowers. He hoped no people were walking along the road.
Bud saw the SUV in the distance. His sirens were blaring and his lights flashing on the cruiser. He went on the intercom.
"You, in the black SUV. This is the Glen Sheriff's department. Stop immediately." As expected the SUV kept barreling toward him. Bud made a quick decision. He had to stop the SUV before it went through the more populated part of town or he'd kill pedestrians or other citizens in their vehicles. He executed the perfect PIT maneuver. The SUV spun around several times before coming to rest in a ditch on the side of the road. There was no sudden movement from the SUV. Bud grabbed his shotgun and jumped from his cruiser.
With cover from his cruiser he trained his shotgun on the front seat of the SUV.
"You, in the SUV. Campbell. Step away from the vehicle with your hands in the air. Now!"
In his peripheral vision Bud saw Grant and the General pull up. He could use the back up.
No response from the SUV. "I repeat. You in the SUV. Step
out of the vehicle NOW with your hands in the fucking air."
Maximus got quickly out of his car, getting his rifle in position as he
moved. Why was there no answer from the SUV? His eyes narrowed as he closed the
gap between himself and Bud, aware that Zack was circling around to the other
side of the vehicle. The silence was broken by a shot and he dropped his rifle,
falling to his knees, clutching high on his left shoulder, making small grunting
noises between his clenched teeth.
Cort sat back against the wall, one hand pressing atop Alex's wound, the
other to his own side. "Damn!" he muttered. It hurt like blue blazes. And he
hated it, too, that Maximus was off after the bad guys and here he sat.
Then the sound of hurrying footsteps came across. He'd left the front door open
for the medics.
Ahnna's ears perked. "Was that an ambulance?" Her eyes were wide, filled with
Joimus, trying to remain calm for Ahnna's sake, replied in as steady a voice as she could manage, "It might have been, but, then, the Glen is full of pregnant women, Ahnna. Maybe it's just that a baby has decided to be born this afternoon?"
Tom slammed on the brakes as Stevo turned off the siren. They both jumped out
of the ambo, leaving the engine running and the doors open. All was quiet in the
house and they began to worry that this might be a body bag situation. Tom, ever
the ex-policeman, held Stevo back while he glanced through the open front door.
He saw Alex, not moving, in a pool of blood, and Cort, sitting on the floor with
pain etched across his face.
"Stevo, you take a look at Cort while I see if there's anything I can do for Ross."
Inside, Alex was lying very still, the strip of throw that Abby had wrapped
around him now soaked with blood. He was cold, real cold and his mind was in a
hazy fog. In the distance, he could hear voices as they came closer to him. He
tried to speak but it only came out like a strangled moan. He faded in and out
consciousness, the pain in his chest that had once been so intense now began to
numb a bit, as did his whole body.
From the way Cort was catching his breath, Stevo could see that some ribs
were cracked, if not broken. Easing off his shirt he began strapping Cort's
chest to support the ribs. When he finished, he helped Cort rest against the
wall once more. "Okay, mate?" he asked. He was glad when Cort nodded in
agreement; it left him free to help Tom with Alex.
"How's he going, Tom?"
"It doesn't look good, mate. We need to stabilize him before we think of moving him to the ambo. It's gonna be touch and go. Wonder what he did to deserve this?"
Cort watched the two men working over Alex. The strapping was helping him
some, but his side hurt pretty bad. "I think," he said softly, "I think he was
trying to help Abby." He took too deep of a breath and winced. "See the
broken vase," he pointed out, nodding toward the large, scattered shards of the
thick, heavy vase that lay about on the floor. "Alistair. Said he'd been hit. I
think it must've been with that."
"Abby," Alex suddenly managed to say weakly, "N...nooo..." He tried to move, but the medics quickly held him in place. They were saying something to him, but he couldn't make out what. He tried to open his mouth to speak to them again, but felt the fog coming back, overtaking him. Who were they? What did they want? What were they doing to him? Suddenly, the sharp pain in his chest was back and he screamed out, trying to fight them off, but they easily subdued him and his body gave in, relaxed, as his mind drifted off into black nothingness.
you need to keep still, mate," Tom said, holding him down by his shoulder. It
didn't take much pressure as Alex seemed as weak as a kitten. He cried out in
pain and fell unconscious once again.
"Now might be a good time to move him, Tom, before he comes round again. I
don't think he'll stand the pain if we jolt him while he's awake," Stevo said.
Turning his attention to Cort, he spoke softly to him. "Hey, mate. Think you can
make it to the ambo, or should I bring out a chair for ya?"
Cort closed his eyes. Looked like Alex was on his way out. Who knew how long
the man had lain there bleeding like that? He himself was now breathing in short
gasps, trying to get through the pain each breath cost him.
"Give me a hand up, Stevo. I think I can make it." Trying to stifle a groan, he leaned on Stevo, curving forward to ease his ribs. It seemed a long way to the ambulance, a very long way, and he was breathing raggedly only half way there. He'd waited while the medics got Alex loaded first, leaning against the side of the ambulance, sweat beading his upper lip, and was glad when he was helped inside and able to sit again. It would take a while to reach the hospital in Coffs and he leaned forward, his face in his hands, not even noticing when Tom slid a blood pressure cuff on his arm.
It all happened in what seemed like slow motion. Before Zack knew what was happening, the driver in the car had begun firing on them and Maximus was hit. He quickly called out to him, "Maximus! You okay?"
Maximus' teeth were clenched so tightly it was hard to reply. "Shoulder," he
managed, then sat over on his hip, letting his grip over his wound go, feeling
beside him for his rifle. One thing he'd learned, and learned at dear
cost, you didn't give in to pain, not when there was something that needed
Zack came around to the passenger's side, hoping to take out Campbell before he could do anything to the two hostages. The driver was still firing but Bud had begun firing back. Zack saw the driver get hit, grab at his neck. That was his chance to move in. With his weapon raised, he jumped out and aimed his firearm at the front passenger's seat and yelled out, "Get the fuck out of the car... now!"
Instead of doing as he was told, however, Dwayne jumped into the back seat,
grabbed Alistair by the back of the neck and pulled him up out of the vehicle
next to him. Dwayne had a shotgun aimed at the man's head, a scared but
determined look on his face. "Don't make me shoot him!" he called back to Zack.
"I will, if I have to."
Alistair was aware he'd been grabbed and hauled up. The sudden jerking motion of being pulled upright sent his head spinning wildly. He felt something hard and cold pressed against his temple but was in too much pain, too dizzy, to determine just what it was. If his neck hadn't been being held in some horrid grip, his head would have fallen forward. A long, sighing sound escaped his lips and he let his eyes close.
Zack stood back a distance, looked over his shoulder at where Abby was lying down on the floorboard of the car. Good, she was out of range, he thought to himself, then his eyes found Bud. He'd taken out the driver. Zack called out to him, "You got this, Bud?"
Bud nodded to Grant. The driver was no longer a threat. This shitbird Campbell had to go down. No fucking way he was hurting any more hostages on his watch. Not now, not ever. And not the Reverend. He aimed his shotgun at Campbell's head and waited. The right time would come. Both he and Grant had given him ample opportunities to disarm and surrender. Negotiations were over.
Steady. The Reverend's head listed to the side. Bud squeezed the trigger of his shotgun and felt the recoil slam into his shoulder. The shot blew off half of Campbell's head and he crumbled to the ground along with his gun. Brain matter splattered over the immediate surrounding area.
Bud lunged forward and caught the Reverend as he went down, pulling him out of the way.
"Reverend, you okay?" Bud peered anxiously into the Reverend's pale face.
Alistair's lips moved, but he made no sound.
Blood and bits of bone from Dwayne covered the side of his face.
"His hands," Maximus gritted. "Still tied. Hands." He slid a knife out from the top of his boot, keeping one there a habit he'd not broken, and with some effort tossed it close to Bud, who cut Alistair's bonds.
Alistair's chin fell to his chest. He couldn't hold his head up, not any more. He hung there, completely sagging, in Bud's arms until the cop lowered him gently to the ground. Maximus managed to get to his feet, coming close, dropping down again beside Alistair. When Zack came over, he looked up at him. "Need...need to get him to the hospital."
Zack let out the deep breath he'd been holding, his shoulders slumped as he lowered his weapon. "I'll drive," he replied, then rushed over to check on Abby. She was in the back of the SUV, huddled on the floor.
"Mill. Stop by mill," Maximus breathed, clutching his shoulder again. "Joimus,
Ahnna, there." His eyes met Zack's. "You know," he said, his meaning clear
without adding more words. He knew Zack had visited Alistair in the hospital
before, and was aware of Ahnna's response to the result of the fire. Maximus
wanted to stop there long enough to pick up the two women.
Zack turned back, nodded. He wasn't about to argue with Maximus, knew the Mill was on the way to the hospital and there was no real life or death situation for them not to be able to make the quick stop. About that time, the sheriff and his deputy pulled up alongside of the road. Bud was filling them in on the situation as Zack stooped down in front of Abby, wrapped an arm around her back, and whispered, "It's okay, sweetheart, it's over. It's all over."
Abby was shaking pretty badly, her eyes fixed on where her husband lay dead on the ground in front of her. She was cold and tired and confused by what had happened. This was a nightmare - one she couldn't seem to wake up from no matter what she did. Dwayne was dead. Her husband was... dead! She couldn't believe it had all happened, didn't understand why he'd taken them hostage and tried to run from the cops. All she wanted to do was to sleep and make it all go away. She closed her eyes, tears flowing freely down her cheeks.
Zack held onto her, trying to comfort her. He knew she was probably in shock, needed medical attention soon. "Hennessy," he called out to the deputy, "you take care of the girl? Make sure she gets to the hospital while I drive the others?
She nodded, made her way over to where Abby was still crouched in the car. After a moment, she had her on her feet and was helping her into the sheriff's cruiser.
Zack, with the help of Bud, managed to get Alistair in the back of their
police car, then went back to help Maximus. "Sure you don't just want to call
them on the way?" he asked, helping the general into the back seat next to
"No," Maximus replied firmly. "It is best we stop." He bit his lip as he slid into the seat, using his right arm to prop Alistair, who had started to slump to the side. Damn, but he wished he had something to wipe Alistair's face before Ahnna saw him, but there was nothing to use.
Within moments they had arrived beside the mill, parking next to Joimus' station wagon. "I think it will be better if we switch to that," Maximus nodded, indicating the larger car with three rows of seats. He waited quietly still in the back seat of the cruiser while Zack went to the door of the mill and knocked.
Ahnna started, making a little gasping sound. "They're back!" she cried, getting up and running to fling the door open, closely followed by Joimus. "Zack?" She hadn't expected him. "Where's...where's Alistair?" She looked past him, noticing the police cruiser next to the station wagon. "Is...is....?"
"He's fine, just a bump on the head," Zack quickly assured her, "I'm on my
way to the hospital with them, but Maximus insisted I stop by here first to pick
up the two of you." He moved aside so she could see the two men sitting in the
back of the cruiser.
"Alistair," Ahnna breathed, running toward the cruiser. As she got closer, she called his name more loudly, but he didn't turn and look at her as she'd hoped.
Joimus followed, walking quickly, but not in Ahnna's full-out run. Zack had not mentioned any harm coming to Maximus, but she was terribly concerned for Alistair. Ahnna had paused just outside the open rear door of the cruiser, her hands clamped to her mouth, her face gone all white. Seeing that, Joimus hurried up behind her, putting her hand out to support her friend.
"Ahnna, what's...?" Then she, too, got to a place where she could see inside. Maximus sat quietly, his jaw set, trying to keep Alistair partially upright. The upper sleeve of his light blue shirt was stained with blood. She felt an instant tightening in her guts, but it was the sight of Alistair's face more than anything that shocked her. His eyes were closed and something... something horrible... was splattered over one side of his face. Had he been injured that terribly?
Her eyes flew back to her husband's, her silent question loud. "Dwayne," Maximus bit out. "Shotgun." He shifted a bit then asked, "Can you and Zack help me get him in the station wagon?"
Ahnna hadn't moved, had barely breathed, had not been able to stop gazing in absolute horror at Alistair's face. "It's not his, Ahnna," Joimus said almost in her ear. "It's Dwayne's...not his."
Alistair opened his eyes part way, blinking slowly. "Ahnna?" he whispered hoarsely.
That was enough to get her moving. "I'm here, darling, I'm right here." Between Zack, Joimus, and her, they got Alistair into the third row of seats in the adjacent stationwagon, Ahnna sliding in beside him, her arms wrapped around him as he leaned into her.
Joimus turned back to the cruiser where her own husband remained. "You?"
"Shoulder," he said, managing a very slight smile. "Bullet."
She supported his right elbow as he got out and moved to the middle row of seats in Joimus' car. Now that his right arm was free from helping Alistair, he was clutching his shoulder again. Joimus had on an ankle-length skirt and she ripped a large piece off its hem, then tore that in half, handing one section back to Ahnna and then folding the other into a fat compress. She guided Maximus down on the seat, his knees bent, his head in her lap, and she pressed the cloth atop his wound. Leaning close over his face, she kissed his forehead, whispering, "Close your eyes, my love. Rest for a moment."
Ahnna was wiping at Alistair's face, tears running down her own, but whatever it was that coated it had dried and wouldn't come off. "I...I'm ok," he murmured, his eyes barely open. "Head hurts." His head was, indeed, wobbling rather badly and she pulled him into her. He sighed loudly. "Love you." She let out a huge sob she couldn't keep inside any longer.
Once everyone was in the car, Zack quickly grabbed the police light from the top of the cruiser and attached it to the roof of the station wagon, then started the engine and sped down the road en route to the Coff's hospital.