65 NOT SO FAST
Teplan and Terah walked through the door and were about to turn the bend in the hallway. “It’s so nice to go home!” Terah said, looking at Teplan with relief. They both turned back to take one last look before entering the last hallway out of the building, only to find Ian doing the same thing as them at the back door. They each waved quickly before turning the corner.
Within ten feet of this new hallway, Teplan stopped in his tracks. Terah bumped into him from behind and her eyes met the reason for the abrupt stoppage.
Paulton, of all people, popped out of a doorway. Standing there — standing right between them and the doors leading outside, was Paulton, “Hello friends. Nice to finally ‘catch-up’ with you two. You’ve caused such a stir, haven’t you? Tiss, tiss, tiss!” he said, wagging his finger back and forth.
Teplan and Terah could not believe their eyes. Just a moment ago they could taste freedom right outside the next door. They were free of all of this craziness. They were supposed to be safe now!
“I guess you two were not expecting me, then?” Paulton chuckled. “Well, surprise you guys! I’ve arrived!” he said as he grabbed them both by the arm, pulled hard, and shoved them through a nearby door. Thinking it might be the only chance, Teplan managed to reach into his pocket and press three buttons on the cell phone, hoping it was 9, a 1, and another 1.
Paulton threw them on the ground, slammed the door and glared cockeyed as if he were about to eat them for a feast! Terah and Teplan lay on the cold, hard, cramped utility room floor, their arms around one other. Large energy panels with wires and tubes extending out every which way dominated the windowless room. These wires traversed the walls and ceiling in various directions. The rest of the walls were covered with tall cabinets labeled things, like, ‘Shovels’, ‘Brooms,’ and ‘Over-Sized Duffle-Bags’.
“So, Mr. and Mrs. I’m-going-to-trespass-and-film-private-conversations, what do you say about giving me that video?”
“Sir, we didn’t mean to cause any trouble. Sure you can have the video. Here,” Terah said taking the phone from Teplan, “I’ll show it to you.” Terah turned the camera on, got the video ready for play and handed it to him.
Paulton snatched it, “Well, either you already gave a copy to someone or you realize what sort of trouble you’re in right now?” He said, pressing play on the camera. He watched as he took the briefcase from Van Houttei and put it on the hood of his car. He watched himself check the contents of the briefcase, hand Van Houetti a paper, and then drive away. Teplan put his hand into pocket and dialed what he hopped was 911.
Suddenly, Paulton lifted the camera in the air and smashed it hard on the ground and pieces flew in all directions. “You think you’re clever little punks, eh! You don’t know what you’re messing with,” he said, squeezing his words out between his clenched jaws. “You and your friends with the fancy black truck.”
Ian and Marney!
“Um, Mr. Paulton,” Teplan said trying to stall for time. “We don’t know what you’re even talking about in that video.”
Paulton stood silent for moment trying to recall details of the conversation that he just smashed on the floor. Then, immediately, turned his attention back to his two perpetrators, and Teplan jammed the phone back in his pocket.
“Just out of curiosity,” Teplan mustered blankly, “how many pigs are here?”
“Listen you two little pieces of pig food, enough with your useless talking. Unfortunately for you, you won’t be around to even care how many pigs I have. But funnily enough, you two will contribute to my pigs, nonetheless!”
Teplan and Terah sat together avoiding eye contact with Paulton, who was standing in front of the door. Knowing he needed to stall for more time, and hoping that someone was coming to help, Teplan glanced at Paulton and said, “But won’t too much nitrogen be bad for the earth?”
“Ha-ha-ha! Won’t too much nitrogen be bad for the earth?” Paulton mimicked. “Oh, I see — of course, you guys are some sort of environmentalists. Who cares about the earth? It’s not my responsibility to keep the earth clean, now is it? And, of course, too much nitrogen is bad! But it’s too late for you guys, anyway!”
Teplan tried to remain calm as his mind raced, thinking of something more to say and hoping this was not the end.
“Even though it’s too late anyway, I’m curious. What would it do to the earth?”
“Ha-ha-ha…” Paulton chuckled again. “Alright, fine. I’ll humor you . . .It would cause all sort of problems for the water table, which would of course affect animals and people all around the area. That enough information for you there, environment-boy? And just to answer your question from earlier, I don’t own any pigs! But this here farm has over 100,000 pigs. Ready to meet them?”
“But don’t you care about the law?” Terah piped up.
“The law?” Paulton chuckled hard. “The law doesn’t even care, itself! The farm can break a law, pay a tiny fine and continue to operate as usual. If the law cared, the penalty would work, wouldn’t you think? You kids are too naïve to realize that most people don’t care about actually caring for the planet,” Paulton said, opening the closet labeled ‘duffle-bags’ and realizing time was being wasted. “But now enough of this chit-chat! It’s over for you two!”
Terah looked at Teplan desperately, “Please tell me you’re going to get us out of this!” Terah whispered. Suddenly, she saw someone peeking through the front door of the little room. Without thinking, Terah hip-checked Paulton and he landed on the floor.
Then, the door burst open, almost flying off its hinges. “Freeze!” two deep voices bellowed, pistols pointed at Paulton who was still on the floor. Heavily armed police officers stormed the room and yelled for everyone to put their hands up. An officer flipped Paulton on his back and had handcuffs on him in seconds. “Mr. Paulton, you are under arrest.”
Another officer bent down in front of Teplan and Terah. “Come with me.”
The officer led Teplan and Terah outside where flashing lights bounced off the huge barn. The whole area was lit up in blue, white, and red. “Oh, and by the way, good job calling 911. We were at the farm looking for you two already, but we tracked your exact location in that little room through the GPS by your 911 call.”
Terah smiled at Teplan, “You did that? When?”
“When Paulton was watching the video, I dialed, but wasn’t sure if it went through!”