Another Threat is Made
“The good news is that we thwarted a kidnapping of a teenage girl in Utah,” said Eugene O’Neal while the knights were having their weekly meeting at the The Dairy Grill. “But the bad news is that a teenage boy in South Carolina has disappeared from his high school.”
“I see,” said Sean. “Have the police been notified about the kidnapping?”
“The kidnapper says if anyone does that, the boy will die,” said Eugene.
“Indeed,” said Sean. “We’ve gotten ourselves in a pickle here.”
“Not to mention that 54 students were taken away from Lochland High School,” said Anthony Giles.
“By the police?” said Shane Marshall.
“Not exactly,” said Anthony. “But I have a good feeling that if we could find out what’s going on, then we could mount a rescue of the missing boy and arrest his kidnappers.”
“Then let’s do that,” said Sean. “Time is of the essence here.”
As the knights packed their equipment, he noticed that most of them were sitting targets for the Sons of Ebal because of their disabilities. The Knights had stopped over 475 criminal acts all over the world so far; those who the Knights caught ended up facing life in prison for their crimes.
“I don’t know if this is a good idea,” said Mobley. “What if those people become violent knowing that we’re going to stop them from doing bad things?”
“It’s a risk we have to take,” said Sean. “Remember, the more time we waste, the less chance we have to save the boy. We can’t afford to lose anyone.”
And with that, the Knights quickly took off. There wasn’t any time to waste. A child’s life was at stake.
“And in today’s news from Utah, the man who was killed in the Rice-Eccles Stadium bombing several weeks ago has been identified as 33-year-old Joseph Lightfoot of Bolton Landing, Utah...”
Logan frowned as he watched the latest edition of the Stale Grapes News. Deirdre came into the living room and saw him, saying, “Did they find out what happened in Utah?”
“They did,” said Logan. “They found out who the man that died in that bombing was.”
“Indeed,” said Deirdre. “Did Sean say if he had a family?”
“He had a daughter and a son,” said Logan. “Their names are Cleopatra and Anthony. That’s all we know about his family.”
“At least we get more news from Sean than we get from CNN,” said Deirdre. “I knew his Stale Grapes News was a good idea.”
“And why wouldn’t it be?” said Logan. “After all, I’ve always criticized the news for sensationalizing child abductions and political scandals. What Sean brings to the table is none of that; he makes sure that other news that are neglected by CNN and Fox News are shared on the Stale Grapes News.”
“At least he hasn’t mentioned us yet,” said Deirdre. “Not since you got that award. who knows when the guys at Fox News are going to find out about us.”
“Oh they’ll find out about us soon,” said Logan. “And when that happens, we’ll make them wish they didn’t.”
Meanwhile, in the city of Deltaville, South Carolina, (which was just outside of Charleston) Sean frowned as he stared at the small house at the corner of Deanmar Way and General Avenue. He was sure that the kidnappers and their victim were in that house. The Knights were running out of time. “We need to strike now while it’s still daylight,” said Mobley.
“They’ll be expecting that,” said Sean. “Plus, I’m not putting any innocent bystanders in danger by publicizing this rescue mission.”
“Yeah right,” said Mobley. “The bystanders who often get caught in the crossfire are hardly innocent, not when you expose their dirty deeds to the public. Need I remind you of how you caught your mother’s killer when we rescued Jessie Robinson back in 1998?”
“I see,” said Sean.
Just then, Matthew Todd said, “I see movement in the house; a family was taken hostage.”
“Do they have any disabled children?” said Sean.
“Yes,” said Matthew.
“Well, this really complicates things,” said Sean. “We need to handle this as delicately as we should.”
He pulled out a bullhorn and yelled, “ATTENTION JOHN AND BARBARA HOLT: WE KNOW YOU’RE IN THERE AND WE KNOW YOU’VE KIDNAPPED JEDIDIAH HAMILTON! I SUGGEST THAT YOU HAND HIM OVER AND COME QUIETLY!”
Very soon, a teenage boy wearing an ill-fitting dress was pushed out the door; he was unhurt despite the kidnapping. Sean saw him and said to him, “Are you all right? Did they hurt you?”
“I’m OK,” said Jed as he stood up and brushed the dirt off his dress. “Other than Milton stuffing me into this terrible dress, I’m OK.”
“Good,” said Sean. “Now, go to Mobley and call the police. Tell them that we have a hostage situation that must be resolved.” To Mobley, he said, “Take Jed and get him out of here; this could be dangerous. Also, make sure that he calls the police.”
As Mobley took Jed and left, Sean said to the other Knights, “I’m sure that we might be walking into a bloodbath. From what I’m seeing here, these kids aren’t like the men we caught trying to blow up the Twin Towers a few months ago. These kids are dangerous, and this case should be treated as such. I’m not going to say that none of us will get hurt, but this is a job we must do to keep kids safe.”
The Knights agreed. As they surrounded the house and the people inside, Sean couldn’t help but get a feeling of déjà vu. He had been there when he helped rescue little Rachel Grant from her kidnappers and took her to Los Angeles. He reluctantly left her with Irina’s family while he did battle with the Sons of Ebal. The fight ended with 37 people dead and over 363 people arrested; Sean had exposed the names of the members of the cult, as well as the various businesses that supported said cult. (It was the biggest scandal of 1993; the world was quick to condemn the Australian government for its support for a cult that killed disabled people and stole illegitimate children. Even President Clinton slammed the Australian president for failing to stop the Sons of Ebal from killing Lorraine and kidnapping Rachel.
But that’s for a different story.)
The voice inside the house said, “I know you’re cops; we have a policy about not calling the police! Now you can watch him die!”
Sean tensed for a second, but then he remembered; Jed was with Mobley. He was safe, if for a few moments. All Sean had to do was to convince Milton and Barbara Holt to release their hostages and surrender peacefully and the incident would end.
But it wasn’t that simple.
“Where is Jed?” the voice of Milton cut through the air. Already several people began backing out of their houses, as the situation became dangerous. The police had been notified and they showed up, quickly surrounding the house. The chief of police said to Sean, “What’s going on here?”
“We got the boy, but the family inside is still being held hostage,” said Sean as he pointed to Jed and Mobley, who had taken refuge at a nearby house. “What can you tell me about John and Barbara Holt?”
“They are the twin children of Bruce and Lara Holt,” said the chief. “From what I heard, John’s all right, but his sister is a bit of a troublemaker.”
“And Jed Hamilton,” said Sean. “What do you know about him?”
“As far as I know, Jed is a good kid who ran afoul of bullies at his high school,” said the chief. “He recently exposed a bullying ring at the school and it caused a huge scandal. Several students were expelled from that school a week ago. I guess Barbara recruited her brother to hit back at him; she was among those were expelled from school for bullying and child abuse.”
“I see,” said Sean. “So why would she use her twin to kidnap Jed, if but to get back at him for getting her in trouble? Or did Jed expose a secret about her that she didn’t want revealed?”
“Who knows?” said the chief. “We must end this crisis now or else someone will get hurt.”
At this point, Milton’s voice was heard: “You have five seconds to disperse or else you’re dead!”
“Dude, are you crazy?” said Aydin Baxter.
“He’s out of his mind,” said Philip Cooper.
“And what about Jed?” Sean said. “He was never part of this, or was he?”
“Forget him,” said Milton. “I didn’t even want him being dragged into this. In fact, I don’t want to be a part of this, but it’s all her fault. Barbara was always telling me what to do!”
“Then why are you listening to her?” said Sean. “Why are you always listening to her?”
“She’s my sister,” said Milton. “I have to listen to her! You think I have a choice?”
“Of course you do,” said Sean. “Take it from me; I know what it’s like to be bossed around by my older sister. Wait, scratch that, I have three older sisters.”
“What’s it to you?” Milton snapped.
“The point is, though, you can’t let other people run your life,” said Sean, “and especially not your sister. She can’t tell you what to do. In fact, she’s not allowed to tell you what to do.”
“What do you mean?” Milton snapped.
“Look at what you’re doing,” said the chief. “You’re allowing Barbara to run your life. And not only that, but she’s abusing you...”
“No she’s not,” said Milton. “She doesn’t abuse me…”
“It’s abuse if she doesn’t let you have your own friends,” said Jed, who stepped behind a cop. “Listen to me, Milton. We used to be friends. We used to play games and ride our skateboards at the park. Do you really want to give that up in exchange for Barbara’s cruelty?”
Milton came to the doorway upon hearing Jed’s voice. He frowned, remembering the boy who he helped regain his identity as a boy after years of seeing him wearing dresses. He remembered helping Jed defend himself against bullies and even beat up a popular boy who insulted Jed because he was Jewish. He even remembered confronting Barbara when he found out that she was among those who bullied Jed.
But when he realized that he had almost thrown away his friendship with Jed just to be his sister’s slave, he found himself dropping his gun, saying, “OK, you got me. I surrender.”
But that wasn’t enough, as Barbara also came to the door. “Jedidiah Hamilton,” she snarled as she stared at him. “You’ve gotten me in a lot of trouble! You told them lies that got a bunch of us kicked out of school and sent to jail. Plus, you have the nerve to claim that I have children and they’re all from you...”
“It’s true,” said Milton. “It’s all true. Wait until Clayton finds out that his girlfriend has been cheating on him and with his best friend too.”
“You would dare,” Barbara began, but then several people burst onto the scene. They were members of the Knights and they didn’t take too kindly to those who kidnapped innocent boys and took families hostage. “This is the Knights,” yelled Robert Kane as soon as he saw the twins. “John and Barbara Holt, you are to lay down your weapons and surrender. Anyone who is in the house with them must assist us in apprehending them!”
With that, all hell broke loose.
Barbara snarled at the Knights, “You’ll never take me alive!” she brandished her weapon around like it was the Holy Grail and the knights were thieves that were coming to take it away from her. “You’ll have to get past my cold dead corpse in order to get to Jed!”
“Actually,” Mobley began to say, but Jed clamped his right hand over his mouth. There was no need to give away his actual position, not yet.
“Come out now,” said Sean as he stared at Barbara. “Your brother has already given himself up; you would do wise to follow his lead.
“You better listen to him,” said the chief. “You don’t want to make this many harder on yourself than you should. You’re already in trouble for bullying and child abuse, so don’t add anything else to your rap sheet.”
“Indeed,” said Barbara as she pulled out her gun and aimed it at Sean. “I know who you are, Sean Michael Rowes,” she snarled as she sated at him. “I know that you made that report about bullying and child about on your Stale Grapes News. You had no right to call me a child abuser, especially since I never abused anyone in my life!”
“But you have,” said Sean, who was trying to ignore the gun being pointed directly in his face. “You’ve abused a boy for no reason, other than to have some fun abusing him. I have heard about the scandal in your school, the scandal that is sending many of your friends to jail for the rest of their lives. You’re one of the ringleaders in the bullying ring, I’m sure, and you’ve also decided to make your brother’s life a living hell because you hate him. But that ends now, Barbara.”
“What are you going to do about it?” said Barbara. “You can’t stop me; you’re just a news reporter.”
“Funny you should mention that, since I’m one of the guys who stopped the 9/11 attacks before they happened,” said Sean. “And before you protest, I can assure you that I’ve heard those ridiculous rumors that the attacks were supposed to happen and my cousins should have been dead in those attacks. But not today. Today, it’s about you giving up your delusions of grandeur and embracing the cold reality that is a life sentence...”
He didn’t get to finish his speech because a gun went off. And the moment that gun went off, everything went straight to hell.
The knights burst into the house and were promptly shot by Barbara as she tried to get to Sean. The disabled boy whose family was taken hostage was also shot for pulling Barbara’s hair and choking her. Mobley, hearing the gunshots from inside the house, snatched Jed and ran down the street, not stopping until they were far away from the house.
But that wasn’t the worst of it.
The police, upon hearing the gunshots, also burst into the house, attempting to apprehend Barbara, but she began throwing knives and other things at them. Danny Snider said to Sean, “You would think the Sons of Ebal recruited her with the way she’s fighting against us.”
“You think it’s about the Sons of Ebal?” said Sean. “It’s not about them; nothing is all about anything. I didn’t even know the Sons of Ebal existed until I saved Rachel Grant in 1993. Even then...”
Just then, a bullet brushed past Sean’s face and embedded itself into a nearby car. Sean gasped, knowing that had he not moved when he did, he would have been dead. “OK, that was a little too close for comfort,” he said with a strange look on his face.
“No shit, Sherlock!” said Kevin White. “Anyway, where’s Mobley?”
“If he was smart, he would have taken Jed and gotten out of here,” said Sean. “He doesn’t do well with gunfights.” He looked at the scene, which had descended into chaos when Barbara began her shootout and said, “Let’s end this face of a standoff and go home.”
True enough, most of the people in the neighborhood had fled upon hearing the gunshots. One man said to Sean, “Them crazy white kids dun pushed us around long enough,” as he fled from his home. Sean nodded, knowing that it wasn’t always going to be evil cults and corrupt news reporters that he would have to fight. He would have to fight against ordinary citizens that went crazy and disrupted the lives of regular people.
The thought of an ordinary person like Barbara Holt kidnapping people and abusing Jed made him sick. He vowed to talk about that on the next Stale Grapes News broadcast.
By the time the shooting was over, Sean discovered that there were only six knights that were still alive, with the rest of them being caught in the crossfire. Seven, if you include Mobley, who was probably still running through the community. Sean also took stock of the victims; out of the family that was taken hostage, both parents, two older boys, and the handicapped boy were dead, leaving behind three very small children who couldn’t fend for themselves. Milton Holt was also dead, as he was caught in the crossfire with nowhere to escape. Several police officers were wounded in the shooting, and Barbara was nowhere to be seen.
Until that moment that a heavy shovel connected with the back of his head and he fell to the ground, hearing nothing but the screams of various people who couldn’t escape from the shooting in time...