Chapter 9

Penny looked up from her book and flicked on a light. Her eyes were getting tired and she secretly wished that the TV would work for once.

Her mind kept reverting back to Tim, wishing that he was there. The remaining teenagers usually spent the night together for safety, at Diana's house. The...grandmother (ugh, that word) had insisted that they all stay with her, but Alex mentioned that the man- Carroll- would easily be able to track where she lived to get to Timothy. After that, her grandson refused to go out with her in public, lest they be seen together.

"It would put you in danger," he fretted, and no matter how hard she tried she couldn't convince him that she could take care of herself.

He occasionally called or stopped by once a day, but it worried the scientist that Tim hadn't contacted her today. None of the kids had.

Suddenly, the quiet was shattered as a loud engine came roaring down the street. Out the window, Penny barely got a glimpse of the car, but when it was followed by another, she knew exactly who it was.

"Timothy," she mouthed in horror. She rushed to the phone.

"Get me the police," she yelled at the operator, who was getting tired of these calls.

An officer picked up.

"Officer Hughes-"

"Jake, this is Penny."

"Oh Mrs. Langston I was just about to call you," the worried officer said. "I'm afraid we have some bad news about your grandso-"

"Yes I know!" Penny yelled. "I just saw him drive by at 95 miles and accelerating! What's happening? Why are there no officers on this right now!?"

"Ma'am, we're working on it, but all of our officers are handling another problem right now!"

"What..." Penny took a deep breath to keep smoke from exiting her ears and nostrils. "Could possibly be more important than an insane man speeding after my grandson and three other teenagers?!"

"Your grandson's friend, the little one-"


"Yes. Diana Fitz called in just three minutes ago that she and her friends were being chased by an armed man and that one was shot."

"What?!" The woman screeched. If it was Tim... "That's not cause enough?!"

"There is an armed robbery going on at Shay's Jewelry right this moment. Three people are currently wounded severely, with no chance for a hospital unless we take this man out. This is a hostage crisis, ma'am."

Penny was beyond exasperated. Of course she understood that a hostage situation was important, but her grandchildren were the most important things in her life.

"Can't you send someone out there?" she tried weakly.

"Mrs. Langston, do you know how many officers we have in this town?"


"Ten. On a good night. Currently we have one man out with a broken leg, one has pneumonia, and I have to stay and watch the jail. That's three men-"

"I can add and subtract," Penny snapped. The officer groaned tiredly.

"I know, Penny. Seven men left. But we have to take care of the jewelry store problem, since only one of those guys has just a tiny bit of experience in negotiation. Nothing ever happens in this town. We're not experienced with this many tragedies in one night; that stretches us too far."

Penny was saddened by the thought, then realized she was wasting time. "Why am I even talking to you?!" she snapped. "I'm going to help my grandson!"

She was about to hang up, when the man replied "Is that really a good idea? For your own safety, Mrs. Langston. Think about it."

"Damn my safety!"

"Let me finish! For the safety of Tim, too. How will you trying to face down a strong, armed crazy man help three teenagers?"

He was right and she knew it. But she was stubborn like her Timothy. "I don't care-"

"Penny! No arguments. I can't even trust you to stay at your home. In fact, I want you to come down here right now. Come to this precinct or I will come to your house and bring you here! And I'll lock you up in a cell, too. Is that clear?"

Despite the fact that this man was only concerned for her safety, that he only wanted what was best for her and the kids she loved (yes, she cared for the other kids like family) Penny wanted to jump through the phone and strangle him.

"Mrs. Langston, is that clear?"

Penny frowned. "Crystal."

Nurse Christina Florez was exhausted. The previous night she spent all of her time on a long stressful shift and was hoping to get sleep sometime in the day. However, the hospital called her again just as she got home, explaining that they needed her back. The result was caffeine charged consciousness, but not genuine awareness. She sat there, staring at the heart monitors, counting the time until she could rest.

"I need to stretch," Christina said to herself.

She decided to check in on all the patients in her area to get her blood pumping a little. She stuck her head into each room, meticulously fixing anything that needed attention. All the patients were fine so far.

When she got to the end of the hall, the nurse checked in on James Wilson. Christina was there when the boy was brought in. She felt sorry for him and his friends. The skinny one's grandmother came in and took care of everything and they left. But they came back to visit constantly.

As soon as Christina stuck her head in his room, she knew something was terribly wrong...

Penny gathered her purse and her book, plus a small snack for her and Jake, who most likely hadn't eaten supper.

She reached for her keys just as the phone rang again. She sighed and answered it.

"I'm coming Jake, I was just-"

"Is this the home of Penelope Langston?" an unfamiliar voice asked.

"Who is this?"

"My name is Christina Florez, I'm a nurse at Valley Hospital."

"Oh, of course. I'm sorry. My grandson got there, then? Thank goodness," Penny said in relief.

"I'm sorry? This is about James Wilson..." the nurse trailed off.

"James? Is he alright? Did he wake up?"

"Well...that's what I called about. Mr. Wilson passed away ten minutes ago."

Tim and Diana sat up. They had a hard time recovering their equilibrium since the car was on its side, but they weren't dead quite yet; neither had the intention of dying anytime soon. After they climbed out of the window, Tim pried open the trunk and lifted out poor Alex. There was nowhere to put him but on the ground, unfortunately. The kid was alive, but just barely.

"Tim, help me with Kristen please!" Di called. He ran over and the two pulled their bleeding friend out of the car. Her heart beat was completely normal.

"She's gonna be ok," Di murmured. Just then Kristen stirred. Her eyelids fluttered.


"Stay still," Tim and Shortstop said at the same time. Diana looked at the other car. Where Carroll was lying still inside. They could only make out his outline, since the windshield was cracked into a spider web design.

"He's not dead, just unconscious."

"And how on earth do you know?" Kristen asked.

"I. Just. Do." her petite friend said slowly, unsure of her reasoning.

Tim checked on Alex, who hadn't changed. It was then that the boy looked at his hands.

They were angry red in some places, purple in others. One wrist was probably sprained and several fingers were definitely broken. Glass was in his skin and some of his nails were torn up- or completely gone.

The odd thing was, he couldn't feel it...

"How are we getting to the hospital now?" Diana though aloud.

"We aren't driving there," Tim said.

Di looked at the car. "It doesn't have a car-phone in it anyways..."

"Why did the police never come?!" Tim said. "What could they possibly be doing?!"

There was an uncomfortable pause.

"One of us is going to have to run back to town. I know it's far, but its still closer than the hospital right now."

"But that would leave one of us alone with Kristen, Alex, and the creepy psycho," Diana murmured.

"Well..." Tim was unsure of what to do, when the window in the opposite car shattered.

'Carroll' was awake, and punching his way out.

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