64 NOW GET OUT OF HERE
Before the door behind them even closed, Teplan and Terah instinctively crouched.
“It’s boiling in here!” Teplan exclaimed much louder than he had intended.
Terah shot him a look.
Teplan zipped his mouth closed and with his fingers and pretended to lock it on one side.
Terah’s eyes met the enormous room and she wondered how many pigs were in there. “There has to be tens of thousands pigs in here!”
The super high ceiling exposed the white structural beams from floor to ceiling. Large metal poles crossed and intersected in triangles and squares up the walls and overhead.
The dirt path followed the thick metal gates that displayed pigs’ skin squishing through the bars on their right. To their left was the sidewall of the massive barn. The room was loud and reeked as if ten thousand pigs just went to the washroom at the same time and the smell hung in the air like fog. Both, consumed in their surreal surroundings, fumbled forward.
“I’m going to turn my phone on. We’re going to have to risk our electronic signal getting noticed and call Ian for help. What do you think, Terah?”
“I don’t think we have any other choice….”
“Ok, done,” Teplan said, putting his phone back in his pocket. “Okay, listen. We need to keep our eyes peeled for the small passage that veers off this path.”
As Teplan monitored the wall ahead on his left, he felt a sharp tug on his sleeve. Expecting that Terah had found the passage they were looking for, he spun around to see her agonizing in pain as her flailing arms managed to reach his shirt. Suddenly, his arm was grabbed; his back slammed against uneven ridges of the wall, and his body was pinned like paper to corkboard.
“I believe you have something you shouldn’t have!” said Terah’s pin-holder in the fancy grey pinstriped suit who had a hold of Terah’s arm with his other hand.
“You two have caused a lot of problems today,” he bellowed, giving them a good, little shake. “Time to take care of this myself, once and for all. You’re coming with me,” he said. He held both of them by their forearms, whipped their arms around their backs, and then marched them forward.
The already tight grip tightened.
“Don’t break my arm!” Terah screamed.
“Don’t break my business!” Van Houetti snapped. “What do you think it would be like to be stuck in the middle of one of our giant pig pens over there? Thousands and thousands of pounds of hungry pig all around you… I bet you wouldn’t feel too good, now would it?”
Both struggled as they walked on their tippy-toes, mostly to avoid the feeling that their arms were being pulled from the sockets. Pigs beside them began to squeal loudly as they watched the struggle. Teplan tried to peel open the man’s hands from his arm, but it was no use. Every time he tried to move any differently, Van Houetti would twist his arm and push it further up Teplan’s back.
“You two better stop resisting me or an arm just might snap before you even get into the pig pen!”
“Let me go!” Terah screamed as she stomped on Van Houetti’s foot. She flailed her legs, trying to kick him. Teplan managed to scoop a handful of dirt from the floor and threw it in Van Houetti’s face.
With his eyes shut, Van Houetti loosened his grip on his prey.
Teplan grabbed another handful of dirt from the floor and was just about to throw it, when someone came out of nowhere and knocked Van Houetti to the ground.
“Let’s get out of here,” Teplan shouted and grabbed Terah’s hand, pulling her away. They fumbled towards the door as Van Houetti lay face down on the dirt floor, hands cuffed behind his back.
“IAN!” Teplan and Terah screamed as they realized who had out-dueled their captor.
“Let’s get you two out here, immediately,” he said while calling the Task Force Unit on his walkie-talkie: “The kids are secure. I repeat: the kids are secure. Van Houetti is on the ground and cuffed to the metal fencing in the pig room on the south side,” he reported as he lead Teplan and Terah through the pathways.
“Your mom called after you were kidnapped,” Ian said, leading them along the dirt path. Planet Earth Protectors have a team here looking for you! Then I noticed your cell phone came back on and I was able to track exactly where you were!” Ian said as he stopped to hug them both. “I can only take you as far as the door up here. It’s not a good idea for the police know that the Planet Earth Protectors were here; we could get in trouble for trespassing or interfering. Anyway, I told your mom to call the police and the media to get them to come here. You need to tell them your story. You need to tell them what happened here today and show everyone how the animals and the river are being treated . . .” he said giving them a look of reassurance. “Now, let’s get you out of here.”
The three walked very swiftly and silently the rest of the way inside the building, following the dirt walkway the length of the building.
“Okay, you two,” Ian said, stopping just before a small hallway. “Go through these doors and around the bend. The doors at the end of that hallway will take you outside. Be brave; you’re doing the right thing by telling your story. You’ll be great!”