Henry looked at the clock, then out the window. The storm had blown itself out during the night, leaving the sky clear and the sun shining. “Okay you two, time to be up and at em,” said Henry. “By the time we get us some breakfast and I get my patrol car or find us a vehicle, it’ll be nine or later. You can’t lie-a-bed all day if you wanna catch yourself some genuine kidnappers.”
Ben and Karr rolled over, and looked at Henry through half slit eyes. Slowly they sat up and stretched. “Yea, we wanna catch them and today would be the perfect day to do it,” said Karr.
“Then maybe we’ll get more than an hour's sleep." sighed Ben. "We may even get to celebrate Thanksgiving with our wives tomorrow!”
“And our family,” said Karr, grinning at Ben.
“Thanksgiving is tomorrow!” said Henry. “Well I'll be, I guess it is. Don’t you boys think we’d better apprehend our suspects today, so you won't have to work on Thanksgiving, besides, I’d sure like to go home sometime this year!”
“I don’t know Karr,” said Ben. “It seems that the sheriff has been too long without a little loving, sleep or both.”
“Yea,” said Karr, “It’s been so long since he’s been home that his brain’s addled!”
“Poor man,” said Ben, as they burst into gales of laughter.
“Ha-Ha,” said Henry, picking up his sleeping bag and heading for the door. “I don’t know about you clowns, but I’m hungry and I’m going to go get me some breakfast.”
Still laughing, Ben and Karr quickly grabbed their bedrolls and followed him out the door.
Two hours later, they were setting around the table enjoying a breakfast of hot biscuits, gravy, home fries, scrambled eggs, sausage and coffee, while trying to figure the best way to get into town to pick up a couple of police cars, so they could search for Jedidiah and Caleb.
The whine of a snowplow’s engine caught them by surprise, as the driver shifted into low and eased it up the hill to the Gilfords Estate, for the first time in years. They heard the snowplow turn into the circular drive that divided the cottage from the main house.
They quickly decided that Karr and Henry would hitch a ride with the plow’s driver back to town. Once there, they would retrieve two of the squad cars. Karr would take one car to the hospital, and with the help of the security guards, he would apprehend Jeremiah, Zachariah, and Harriet. He would then hand cuff them to one of the many radiators in the hospital, until Henry could question them.
Henry would pick up a squad car, and a set of tire chains and then come back and pick up Ben. He had a hunch that he’d find Jedidiah and Caleb hiding out in or near the cabin on Rosebud Lane or in the tunnel.
Caleb looked at his watch for what seemed the hundredth time in the last ten minutes.
“Where is he?” Caleb muttered. “He’s crazy if he thinks I’m going to hang around here much longer, if I know that sneaky brother of mine, he’s already left the state and is probably halfway to Alaska by now, leaving me holding the bag. He should’ve been here twenty minutes ago,” thought Caleb.
He revved up the engine in the decrepit looking ’56 Ford wagon. The vehicle looked like it belonged in a junkyard, when in all actuality the only thing old about it was its body. The engine, transmission, and all other parts of the vehicle had been special built and were hotrod ready. The last time the vehicle had been anywhere near Gilfords Falls, six little girls had been transformed into six little boys via haircuts, dirty jeans and tee-shirts.
The commune, had quietly existed for years in anticipation of the very day they would get revenge on Cole and Caroline Gilfords, by kidnapping their only grandchild. It had been a bonus when they’d captured not one, but six little girls, for Zachariah to terrorize, torture and abuse. They’d left the girls with the woman in charge of the children’s unit.
Caleb had immediately skedaddled back to Alaska, and the comforts of a fraudulently acquired estate, and a more than adequate inheritance compliments of his wife. The blind estate owner had been found dead ten days after Caleb moved in.
The coroner had ruled the cause of death as an accidental overdose of several prescription drugs. She had apparently taken too many of one, and too few of the other! Caleb, pretending to be heartbroken, arrived two weeks later to claim the property and inheritance.
As proof of ownership, he’d produced a photocopy of a forged marriage certificate, supposedly filed years ago at an obscure out of the way courthouse.
Luckily, for Caleb, just weeks after the supposed marriage, the church had burned to the ground. A large heavy pulpit having collapsed in a freak accident, had spilled lit candles onto the floor next to the only curtains in the place. Having no will and no heirs other than Caleb, the property had been turned over to him, thereby giving them the ways and means to accomplish their plans to ruin the Gilfords!
Jedidiah had made a beeline for Gilfords Falls, where he discreetly ingratiated himself into the lives of the Gilfords. Within days he’d gained their sole confidence and trust. They’d hired his services as a private detective hoping he’d quickly find the girls.
To date, thought Caleb gleefully, Jedidiah had ripped Caroline off for one and a half million dollars.
Caleb stirred and looked at his watch again. He was surprised to see the hands that had crawled so slowly at first somehow must have moved. Now the small hand was between the eleven and the big hand was just past the ten.
Glancing around, Caleb eye balled the road, behind him, in front of him and on both sides of him and saw nothing. Mumbling under his breath, he pushed in the clutch and shifted into drive. “My Mamma didn’t raise no fool,” he muttered stepping on the gas.
The ride from the Crowley’s to town, for the patrol car, then back to pick up Ben, then on to Rosebud Cottage, had taken about an hour and a half. Henry glanced at his watch as the stand of trees came into sight.
It was almost ten-fifty, as he slowed the patrol car to less than five miles an hour. He eased up to the narrow dirt road that turned to the left and ended in front of the cabin. He was about to make that turn when Ben shouted, “Henry look out!”
Startled, Henry slammed on the brakes, slid across the road, and nearly landed them in a ditch. Henry had no doubts that if Ben hadn’t yelled they would’ve been seriously hurt or even killed, as a snowmobile with Jedidiah at the controls flew out of the trees straight at them.
The snowmobile took off down the road in the direction the squad car had been going. Henry had, after the initial slide, immediately let off the gas and expertly turned the wheel. Within seconds he’d corrected the skid and caught up with Jedidiah. Both men were wondering where Caleb was, as they followed the snowmobile so closely that if it had stopped quickly they would have run over it.
“Michael!” said Kimmey, “it’s almost eleven o’clock, I’m hungry and I wanna see my Mommy!”
“And you shall.” Said Michael, carefully opening the door connecting the conference room to the hallway, which appeared empty, closing the door he locked it behind him. In his office he opened the door onto a long hallway that connected to several different parts of the hospital, including the emergency room and the exits.
The hallway also appeared empty, but when he turned to look back at Kimmey, he felt a searing pain in the back of his head. Falling to the floor, he heard Kimmey’s screams. A woman’s voice. The brutal slap delivered to Kimmey’s little face. And Kimmey screaming again as he lost consciousness.
It had taken Karr close to an hour to convince the security guards that he was Sheriff Patterson’s deputy, and that Zachariah, Jeremiah and Harriet, were to be held for questioning in the kidnapping of the Gilfords heir and her friends.
“Where were they the last time you saw them?” Karr asked for the fifth time.
“Well, let’s see,” said the man with the name Jack Barlow on his nametag. “The last time I actually saw them, they were sneaking around the hallway leading to the emergency room exit about two hours ago.”
“Don’t you think we’d better see if they’re still there?” asked Karr, opening the door and stepping into the hall. “Which way?” he asked, waiting impatiently for the guards.
“This way,” said the guard with Moses Riley written on his name tag, as Kimmey’s screams of terror split the air and an angry voice shouted at her to shut up.
“Harriet!” exclaimed Jack, as they raced down the hall, and almost collided with Harriet as she dragged Kimmey kicking and screaming down the hallway.
Realizing she was screaming they killed my Michael, Karr made a grab for her as Zachariah slammed into him, knocking him to the floor. Grabbing Kimmey from behind, Zachariah threw her over his shoulder, as if she was a sack of potatoes.
Grabbing Harriet by the arm, he yelled something, dove through the automatic doors, and headed for the car, waiting at the curb. Throwing the females into the back, he jumped into the front passenger’s seat, as the car screeched out of the parking lot, barely missing the squad car.
Getting to his feet, Karr noted that it was ten minutes to eleven.
The snowmobile appeared so suddenly that Caleb almost hit it. Making a split-second decision, he shifted the car into neutral and threw open the side passenger door. Flooring the snowmobile, Jedidiah set the controls so it would continue past the car and into the ditch. Making a dive for the front seat of the car, he connected, slamming the door shut behind him. Caleb shifted into gear and barreled down the road just seconds ahead of the patrol car.
It was ten miles by road, from the Gilford’s property to Carter’s station, where Mary and the children had stayed on their first night in Gilfords Falls. The clunker in front of them, looking as if it would fall apart any second, headed into town doing eighty miles an hour.
Karr, was torn between helping Michael, and going after Kimmey’s abductors.
“What are you doing? Go after them! Don’t let them get away! They have Kimmey!” said a voice behind him.
“Doctor Michael, are you all right?” asked one of the security guards, hurrying to his side.
“Yes, I’m fine! But they just kidnapped the daughter, of Mary Gilfords, heiress to the Gilfords fortune!” said Michael, stumbling to the exit.
“Just where do you think you’re going?” asked Karr, taking ahold of Michael to keep him from falling on his face.
“Go after them!” said Michael, swiping at the blood flowing from the wound at the back of his head.
“Get the doctor a towel, then help him to the squad car,” said Karr, sprinting ahead to start the car.
Mary looked anxiously at the clock, it was ten twenty-five. The door wouldn’t open for at least two hours and thirty-five minutes. Her contractions, had started about eight and a half hours ago, and were getting closer and stronger.
She guessed she should tell Jackie about them but didn’t want to alarm Rose-Marie or Billy.
“Jackie,” said Mary, “would you please bring me the book I was reading earlier? I think it’s on the stand by the table.”
The minute Jackie handed her the book, she knew. “How long have you been in labor?” she asked, gently squeezing Mary’s hand.
“Oh, not too long,” said Mary, grimacing and clenching her teeth, as another contraction turned her stomach into a hard ball.
“How long?” asked Jackie. The thought of Mary giving birth, while locked in the shelter terrified her.
“I think they started around two thirty this morning, give or take a pain or two,” said Mary smiling at her friend. Twenty-five minutes later, at exactly ten minutes to eleven, Mary’s water broke.
“There they are,” shouted a security guard, as Karr sped down the road quickly catching up to them. A lazy snow had started falling about the time Karr had arrived at the hospital that morning. Now the wind had picked up, blowing sharp needles of hard snow at the windshield. Where the sun had hit the road and the snow had started to melt, the blowing wind was turning the melting water back into ice, making the roads slick and dangerous. Karr was glad that he’d taken Henry’s advice, and put snow chains on the patrol car, before going to the hospital.
For all of Caleb’s speed, Henry had something better, experience. He was at home when it came to treacherous situations, like ice and snow, or rain slick highways. Reckless, speeding drivers that were all over the road, like the car ahead of them, were a dangerous threat to anyone else on the road.
Henry knew the alley to the cul-de-sac was just behind his son Carter’s gas station. He also knew he’d have to stop them before they hurt or killed someone. If he could just gain a foot on the car ahead of them, maybe, just maybe, he could bump it with the patrol car and force it down the alley and into the cul-de-sac to make an arrest. “Hang on Ben,” Henry said with a grin, “and let a pro show you how it’s done.” Still grinning, he gunned the car and flipped on the siren.
Jeremiah, looking in the rear-view mirror saw that the patrol car was almost on top of them. “How do you expect me to concentrate with that brat screaming? Shut her up and make her stop kicking the back of my seat,” he shouted at Harriet.
“I’m trying,” snapped Harriet, as she wrestled Kimmey down onto the car seat and gave her another stinging slap across the face.
“Kimmey suddenly put both legs together, leaned back onto her arms, curled her legs up under her chin, and kicked out with both feet, catching Harriet full in the face, splitting her lip and bloodying her nose, as Kimmey screamed over and over, “You killed my Michael!”
“Shut up both of you,” bellowed Jeremiah taking his eyes from the road to glare at Zachariah. ’Can’t you shut that spawn of yours up? You haven’t lost your touch, have you,” he yelled over the din from the backseat.
Zachariah shrugged, “Oh, they’ll pay dearly for this little scene, so let them have their fun while they can,” he said, laughing at the look on Jeramiah’s face.
“What the - - - suddenly, out of the corner of his eye, Jeremiah saw the out of control car headed straight at them, with Caleb behind the wheel.
“There,” yelled Zachariah, pointing to what looked like a road, behind a service station. Too late, he realized his mistake, as the patrol car behind Caleb, rammed into the back left-side of Caleb’s car, sending it skidding sideways and into Jeremiah’s car. Both out of control cars careened into the alley and down the ice slicked hill. Too late, they realized that they were headed straight for a solid rock wall.
When Caleb’s car hit the car Jeremiah was driving, it threw Kimmey backwards and up into the back window. That’s when she saw him. “Michaeeeel!” she hollered, banging on the window, as the police car with Michael in it, siren screaming, flew past them before coming to a screeching halt a few feet in front of the other patrol car.
Kimmey glanced around her as the car sped down the alley headed for the cul-de-sac. Some deep buried instinct, and the miracle of Michael’s voice penetrating her brain, told Kimmey to open the car door and jump.
Screaming at the top of her lungs for Michael, she bravely threw her slight weight onto the door handle. Miraculously the car swerved to the right throwing the door opened, and Kimmey over the guardrail into the snow bank, where she landed with a soft plunk, halfway down the alley.
The others weren’t so lucky, as Caleb, in one car and Jeremiah in another, fought desperately to regain control of their vehicles. Suddenly both cars hit a patch of slick black ice, completely out of control, they picked up speed. Seconds later Caleb’s car hit the wall at eighty miles per hour, bursting into a huge flaming fireball.
The car Jeremiah was driving faired only a little better as it collided with Caleb’s car, bounced backwards, spun around, then spun sideways. Again it threw the back door open spewing Harriet out of the vehicle, and into, then over the guardrail. Seconds later, the gas tank exploded enveloping the second car with flames.
Glancing at his watch, Henry noted it was eleven fifty in the morning.