Tim woke at noon, feeling sore. Despite the nightmares he slept hard, direly needing the rest. He stretched and padded into the kitchen, where Penny left a note.
We're out of eggs and milk so I went to the grocery. Also have to stop at church and dry cleaners. Be back around one thirty. If you go out leave me a note. Be careful today, sweetheart. Please try to eat something.
McGee sighed and opened the fridge. Some chicken sat on the shelf, but as soon as he saw it his stomach gurgled, warning him not to risk eating it. He closed it again. He went upstairs and dressed. He was just pulling on his Nikes when the phone rang. He answered it, expecting his grandmother.
"Tim! I've been calling all morning? Where have you been?"
"Asleep, Kristen," he said. "It was kinda an exhausting day yesterday."
"Sorry," she apologized. "But that's what I was calling about. We got a call from the police..."
"Did they find the two guys?" Tim said hopefully.
"Well, no. They want us to show them where the body was found. They're going to meet us at the mountain and we'll show them where it is."
"Oh," Tim said. He inwardly groaned. Sensing this, Kristen continued.
"You don't have to come. It's just that the rest of us were going to go, then maybe just hang out in the park for the rest of the day. We're all pretty sore."
"Yeah, me too. You already talked to James and Di?"
"Yes. They're going to come. I guess they don't want to be alone all day."
Tim understood. He felt bad, realizing that both of his friends had spent all night by themselves. "I'll come."
"You don't have to-"
"No, it's fine. I don't want to sit around all day," Tim said. Penny's TV hadn't worked in years, and he didn't have any new books either.
"If you're sure. We'll pick you up in twenty minutes."
He wrote a note for Penny. When twenty minutes was up, he swung open the door to find the van parked on his grandmother's lawn.
"How did you miss the driveway!?" he exclaimed.
"J was driving," Alex said, wobbly from that terrifying experience.
"I'm not that bad," James complained.
"Maybe not," Diana said, looking a little green. "But you might want to practice some more before trying to pass a driver's test."
Alex wanted to sit in the back again but his friends forced him to drive, not wanting to deal with a repeat of yesterday. They made it out to the mountain and sure enough, there was the patrol car.
"Where are all the forensic vans and stuff?" Kristen said.
"I'd be surprised if a town the size of Myso would have a forensic van," Tim responded. The door to the patrol car opened, and a uniformed officer stepped out. His hat kept over his eyes, introducing himself as Officer Carroll. The kids really didn't pay attention to the man, just wanting to get away from there. Minding the ledge, they led him up the trail, and stopped at the door.
"He's in there?" The officer said, pulling out a camera and beginning the evidence process.
"Yeah," Diana said. "If you'll excuse us, we really don't want to go in." She stared at the door in trepidation.
"No, I understand," the Carroll said quickly. "But just out of curiosity, how on earth did you escape?"
They showed him the hole, and he scoffed in disbelief. "You can fit through there?" he asked.
"Yes sir," Di blushed.
"Hmm.. That guy really wanted you dead," the officer said. "I would hope that he gets caught...and that you all are...Safe!"
Tim and James turned in time to see him rip the gun out of its holster, the safety off, the weapon pointed at them!
"What the-?" Alex said. Tim stared at the man in shock. His hat had fallen back revealing his entire face. It was the man from before, hatred burning in his eyes.
"I knew I should have killed you myself. Locking you in alive was just too risky. Too bad for Kyle, he disagreed with me!"
Tim gulped, wondering what kind of fate Kyle had met.
"Well now I have a gun chocked full of bullets, and there's no one around to hear us," he snarled. "So who's first? Can't have you ratting me out to the police, you know!"
Tim realized that this man didn't know that his description was now on file at the Myso Valley precinct.
"So what if we already told the police all about you?" he said. His friends stared at him wide eyed. The man turned towards him angrily. Behind the killer's back, Tim could see Kristen mouth two words.
McGee very nearly shook with fear, but cleared his throat and continued.
"Yeah. We told the police already," he continued. Out of the man's line of sight, James braced himself for a tackle.
"So the best thing for you to do is-" Tim was cut off by a pistol-whip to the head. His vision danced a little, but it cleared just in time for him to see James shoulder check the criminal- right over the ledge! As he fell, he grabbed James' leg, pulling him down with him!
Tim, being the closest, leapt to grab his friend's hand. He held on for a second, but then the weight of the two holding on that he fell himself!
The three remaining teens looked over the ledge, where they were relieved to see Tim on a small platform-like space, only ten feet or so from where they fell. He was out cold, unconscious and battered.
However Kristen, Alex and Diana did not see James. Three hearts stopped- that was a two story fall!
Rushing down the path, the three saw James lying on the ground, staring up, blinking like he was confused by everything.
"J," Diana said softly, running over to him. He tried to get up but gasped and dropped back down.
"Don't move," Alex said. "We're going to get you to the hospital."
He looked so weak. His arm was bent at an unnatural angle, and already massive bruises were forming on his neck and collarbone- and that was just what they could see. They had no idea if his spine or neck was broken, or if he had a concussion. Though it seemed highly likely, as his eyes were glazed over and his pupils were unevenly dilated. His lips were tinged blue and he was scary pale.
"'M good," James said weakly. "Just need to catch...my...breath." He winced between every word. His friends felt helpless. They didn't know whether or not he had any internal injuries.
"Alex, pull the car as close as you can," Kristen said. "We're going to have to drive him to the hospital ourselves."
"It's ok-" James started, then mewled in pain. He was fading out of consciousness fast.
"Hold still," Kristen ordered.
"Wait, what about Tim?" Alex said.
"We're going to have to get him down. But get the car first."
Alex ran off, and quickly had the car not ten feet away from them.
Just at that moment, Tim groaned and lifted his head. Immediately seeing over the edge was frightening, and he skittered backwards against the wall. The sudden movements made his head hurt. Looking over the edge, he could see his best friends working over James.
They looked up, and relief washed over their features.
"Tim!" Di called. "You alright?"
"Just a knock to the head," he replied. "How's J?"
Even from up high he could see her purse her lips. She shook her head.
"Can you get down? We need you manning the first aid."
But the height was making him nervous. He really didn't want to move.
Come on Tim, J needs you.
Before he could change his mind, Tim used the rocks to climb his way down.
Seeing James made his mind race faster than the pounding in his head.
"Ok. Alex, do we have a board we can put him on? We need to keep him in one position since we don't know how his back is. Kristen, my backpack has some peroxide and gauze in it. Use it to clean his hands."
Diana and Kristen had completely missed the nasty cuts on his hands.
"K," Kristen murmured, jogging off to the van just as Alex came back, carrying a long plank of cardboard.
"I know this won't support him, but its the best I can do," he said frantically.
They secured James onto the board, and gently got him to the van. Alex drove as fast as he could while trying to keep from knocking everyone around. Kristen cleaned J's hands, while Tim and Di worked on keeping him still.
There was no hospital in Myso Valley, and the next town with a hospital was a twenty minute drive (going over the speed limit).
Alex got there in ten.
Pulling up to the hospital, Tim and Di jumped out. Tim stayed at the van to watch James, but Shortstop sprinted into the lobby, yelling for help. When the nurse came out from behind the desk, the teen pointed out the door, and started explaining that her friend had fallen and needed attention now.
As soon as the nurse understood, she called some more nurses and doctors, who dragged a gurney outside and got the boy onto it. They wheeled him away, leaving a couple nurses to look after the remaining four.
"Anyone else need help?" a kind woman asked.
"Tim fell too," Diana said. Ignoring his objections, the nurse just pulled him to a room to get checked out.
Kristen, Alex and Di sat in the waiting room, nervously silent. Alex was bouncing his leg, Kristen was staring into space, and Diana was pacing like a caged animal. When Tim came out to join him, they rushed him like paparazzi on a celebrity.
"I'm fine!" he said. "How's James?"
"No word yet," Kristen said.
Tim nodded and they moved to sit down and wait again. After an eternity, the door opened and a doctor came out.
"Does he have any family we can call?"
"I guarantee his parents won't answer. Or his uncle, for that matter," Di said heatedly.
"You can call my grandmother," Tim said. He gave the doctor the number.
"How is he?" Alex asked.
"Well..." the man seemed hesitant to share.
"We can take it, sir. And my grandmother won't be here any time soon, so you might as well tell us."
The doctor sighed. "Alright. His lower back is...you might say, out of whack. There are a few ruptured discs and his pelvis is cracked slightly. His arm is broken, though that's easily fixed. His collarbone is severely bruised, and he has a major concussion."
Everyone was silent.
"Will he be ok?" Kristen asked finally.
"Well, his arm will be fine. We need to keep an eye on his head and collar for now, but they should both make a quick recovery. As for his back...I'm not sure he will ever walk again."
This would kill James. He loved running, swimming, football...everything he needed his legs to do.
"All in all, he was quite lucky to survive such a fall," the doctor finished.
"Lucky," Tim repeated dully.
"Can we see him?" Di asked.
"Not until his grandmother is here, I'm afraid. James will be out all night, anyways."
The doctor took his leave to contact Penny, and the four went to sit back down.
"What happened to Mr. 'Carroll'," Tim asked in disgust.
"I didn't see him," Kristen said. "Do you think he survived the fall?"
"I think," Alex said. "That he's out there. And he really doesn't want us around, because we can identify him to the cops."
"So what do we do?" Kristen snapped. "Wait for him to kill us?"
"No," Tim said. "We have to avoid that. It's basically a game now. There's four of us now, and one of him."