Alone in the Desert
"It sure was nice of all ya kids to walk right into our clutches," Harry continued practically crowing, driving south on the Strip, Kevin could surmise, "We was gonna go up and down the Strip all night till we found ya, but ya made it nice and easy for us."
"And that's apparently the only easy thing you guys ever got done in your whole life," Julian remained somewhat defiant despite the gun the big hulking henchman was holding to his head, "Kevin's told us all about you, and how dumb you guys are."
"We ain't dumb, kid. Nobody understands us," Marv shot back at him.
"Well, if you're only misunderstood, why'd you walk into trap after trap after trap each time you met up with him before?" Julian pressed him hard.
"Watch the mouth, kid; I've shot people for saying far less," Lenny warned him, pressing the gun tighter against Julian's temple.
"No problem, Lenny," Marv reassured him. "You see, kid," he turned around in the seat to look Julian right in the eye, "Harry and me, we get knocked down, we get right back up. And now that we have a whole lot more friends to help us," he gestured at the rest of the Wet Bandits Gang in the back of the RV, "we're in better shape than ever. And we'll really be up and running tomorrow night after we knock over the Walley World casino. Close to a billion dollars in the vault, just for us, and we're..."
"MARV!" Harry whacked his partner on the shoulder hard, "If ya blab out the plan again, I'm gonna rip yer vocal chords out!"
"But Harry, there's no way he can find any house full of goodies to nail us with this time," Marv protested, "And we're gonna kill him anyway, so..."
"Hold that thought; here we are. Bring him," Harry gestured at Kevin, whom Marv dragged roughly out of the RV. Kevin saw they were now at the back of the Walley World hotel complex, by the rear loading docks, and Burke was standing on the central dock with Les and a pack of security guards. "Let me just say, gentlemen, that I'm against all of you coming back here after that stunt you pulled during the Splat Zone taping with the gun firing and all that," the Walley Entertainment chairman of the board told him sternly, "You almost exposed everything then, and you're running the risk of exposing everything now..."
"Then we'll make it quick; just give us the details of the plan, and we'll be on our way to kill all these kids. Bring 'em," Harry called to his fellow gang members, who hauled the rest of Kevin's friends out of the RV.
"Please, Mr. Lyme, I guess you said it was; no killing kids around here," Les gulped, looking pale, "Robbing the vault's one thing, but killing children...!"
"Ya don't understand, pal; Marv and me's waited two whole years to settle the score with this little creep," Harry glared down at Kevin, "And we're offin' him no matter what no one says."
"All right, all right," Burke waved his arms, "Where did you pick them up at?"
"Right on the street; they practically walked right into our hands," Marv bragged.
"Then there were probably witnesses. Les, arrange a resort limousine for Mr. Lyme so he can take care of business with this kid," Burke instructed his lieutenant, "Use that and drive as far out into the desert as you can; the last thing we need are dead kids around here right before the operation."
Les nodded and reentered the building. "There's one missing," Stone had also noticed Nate wasn't among the children.
"The other one wasn't there when we found them. We'll find him yet. What should we do with the rest of them?" Fingers asked, holding a squirming Ethan tight.
"We can handle them here until the operation's done. Mr. Stone, gentlemen, take these other kids and lock them up in the detention wing until further notice," Burke ordered the security chief and his men, "They'll be safely out of sight and earshot there until we're all done."
"You can't hold me!" Danielle protested furiously, straining to break away from Lenny's grip, "I'm the daughter of Charles Lindhurst; he's one of the wealthiest men in all of Chicago, and...!"
"Oh, that Charles Lindhurst? Well, looks like we lucked out even better, boys," Harry grinned at his gang, "Not only do we get the millions in the casino vault, we'll also get a nice, fat ransom from daddy once he knows we got his girl. What's his number, toots?" he approached Danielle.
"I, I don't know," her defiance had quickly turned to fear at the mention of being ransomed.
"Don't mess with me, missy," he grabbed her hair and yanked it back hard, "What's Daddy's phone number!?"
"He's not at home; he's on business in the Orient!" she was definitely terrified now.
"Which hotel!? I said, which hotel!?" he pulled her hair harder. Danielle cried out in pain. "All right, he's staying at the Orchard Paradise Hotel, but I don't want to be ransomed...!" she pleaded.
"Too bad. Fingers, call the hotel when you get the chance; tell Daddy Lindhurst eighty mil by Christmas Day night or else," Harry instructed the safecracker, "We'll call back later to tell him where and how to wire it to us."
"How do we give her back if we're in out of the country, Harry?" Fingers asked him with raised eyebrows.
"We ain't givin' her back, Fingers, use yer head. We chop her up and mail the pieces back to Daddy as a Christmas present," Harry rolled his eyes, "Just 'cause we ain't killin' the rest of them now don't mean we ain't gonna..."
"All right, just get them inside and get them safely locked up, Mr. Stone," Burke interrupted. Glaring coldly, Stone strode down off the loading dock with his men and grabbed Danielle himself. "Please don't lock me up and ransom me!" she begged in terror, "Kevin, do something, please, help me!" she cried out at him.
"I'll try, Danielle," was all he could say at the moment, although he was impressed that she was finally calling him by his first name, even if while under duress. "Just stay calm, guys, I'll think of something," he tried to offer comfort to the other children as the guards dragged them into the back of the hotel.
"That's kind of hard at the moment, Kevin, in case you didn't notice! Let go of us, you animal!" Ethan still had fight, as he kicked at his captor for all it was worth. But soon, he and the others had disappeared out of sight inside the hotel, leaving Kevin alone. "Look, it's me you want; tell them to let them go," he demanded to the Wet Bandits.
"Forget it, kid; anybody who's friends with you deserves to be slaughtered," Harry glared harder at him. "OK, so whatdya want us to do tomorrow?" he asked Burke.
"I'd really prefer not to say anything in front of a potential witness," Burke frowned Kevin down.
"Don't worry; he's gonna be dead in no more than a half hour anyway," Marv assured him. Burke sighed softly. "All right, but you'd better be efficient in finishing him off," he warned the criminals, "OK, Roy Walley himself told me earlier today on the phone that he'll be arriving tomorrow at the airport tomorrow night at six for the Jorinde and Joringal premiere. We'll dispatch all the guards here still loyal to him to the airport to meet him, and enough of them that are loyal to me to keep him there until we're done. Now..."
It occurred to Kevin it would probably be helpful to get the conversation on tape. He glanced around to make sure no one was watching him before reaching into his pocket, where he'd slipped his Talkboy after the shower stunt, and hit the Record button as quietly as he could. He turned his body ever so slightly so the tape recorder was facing Burke, who continued, "...about three miles south of here is the old Cactus Motel; it closed down six months ago, but the furniture's all still in place, and the utilities are still connected. I want you gentlemen there at quarter to six to call in a bomb threat to this hotel. That will clear it out of any guests or potential interlopers. Then find someplace between here and there and wait about an hour until the bomb squad sweeps the resort clean. I'll have a guard stationed on the roof; when he sets off a single blast of fireworks, that's your cue to come in. We'll tell any authorities still on the scene it was probably a malfunction."
"And then what?" Marv asked eagerly.
"I'm getting to it. We'll tell the authorities we'd like to do a check of our own as a follow up to their sweep and position guards at all the entrances so they can't get in. You gentlemen come up to the loading dock here; somebody'll let you in. Once you've cracked the vault and taken the money, Martin Walley's room is Number 1266. Plant some of the money and burglary tools in there before you leave, but don't do it so obviously that they'll suspect anything. We'll have a van waiting for you back here by the time you're done, and passports to South America; it looks like the best we could get on short notice was ones to Argentina. But don't leave out of McCarran; they'll be watching there like a hawk. I'd recommend driving down to Phoenix and flying out from there."
"I'd like a closer look at the safe so I can get a better idea of what I need to drill and blow it," Fingers told him.
"Very well, this way then," Burke gestured him inside, right as there came the honking of the horn of a limo pulling up to the loading dock. "Ah, here's our ride, Marv. OK, you guys go take a look at the safe," Harry told the rest of his gang, " Marv and I'll take care of our unfinished business. Let's go, little buddy," he dragged Kevin towards the limo, "Time to go for the last ride."
"This isn't normal plane travel, is it, Kate?" Mrs. Ostrowski leaned over the seat towards her. The plane was shaking hard from rougher than usual turbulence.
"It's probably just a rogue pocket," Kate dismissed it despite the wild shaking, "Are you all right? You look upset?"
"I just had a feeling, Kate," Mrs. Ostrowski indeed looked pale, and not just from the turbulence, "I just have this terrible feeling something bad's already happened to Nate..."
"You have a feeling? That's not good," Kate mused softly, "But we'll be through this and on the ground in Las Vegas in no time flat, and he'll be safely in your arms..."
But it was at this point the intercom buzzed to life. "Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking," came the pilot's voice, "We've just been informed by air traffic control in Denver that the turbulence we're currently experiencing are the front line of a large scale snowstorm over the Rockies. They have advised not trying to go through it, so at this time we request you all fasten your seatbelts while we descend to Denver International Airport, where we'll wait until the storm passes, which by the best estimates will be within the next eight hours..."
"OH NO YOU DON'T!" Kate threw off her seatbelt, stormed to the cockpit door, and started pounding hard on it, "YOU'RE NOT LANDING THIS PLANE ANYWHERE EXCEPT LAS VEGAS! I DEMAND WE KEEP GOING!"
"Kate, honey, this is for our safety..." Peter rushed up and tried to pull her away from the door.
I don't care for our safety, Peter, I care for Kevin!" she shot at him, "I said keep going; this is nothing!" she shouted at the pilots through the cockpit door, "We can take this easy...!"
It was at this point a particularly severe bout of turbulence struck the plane, sending both McCallisters rolling wildly around the aisle. Peter grabbed his wife's wrist and stumbled back to their seats-and was sent toppling face-first onto the seats from another bump. "Kate, you're starting to scare me," he confided worriedly in her, handing her the buckle to her seatbelt.
"I'm just fine, I just want to get to my son. Don't you!?" she gave him a piercing glare.
"Of course I do, Kate, more than anything, but not if it means putting us and the rest of the kids in harm's way. Now this'll only be for a couple of hours; we'll still be in Las Vegas tomorrow morning."
"But then the plane'll break down on the runway before we take off, or a mad bomber gets on board and diverts us somewhere else...!" she mumbled.
"That's not going to happen, Kate, and you know it. Now come, this isn't the end of the world-I don't like that we're having another delay, but we're no good for Kevin if we crash and die in the Rockies. Okay?" Peter pressed her hard. Kate exhaled softly. "You're right," she muttered, slumping back in the seat, "Sorry if I get worked up, it's just..."
"You're just worried for your children's safety, just like any mother worth their salt would be," he patted her hand, then grabbed hold of it as their descent to Denver started, "And worked up over everything that's happened the last couple of years. But Kevin's just fine right now, trust me."
"How much further, Harry?" came Marv's voice from the front of the limousine.
"Looks like we're a good fifteen miles outta the city now; next exit should take up deep enough into the desert-and here we go right here," Harry declared. Underneath a blanket in the limo's back seat with his hands and feet tied, Kevin gulped nervously. It was probably now or never to start attempting to get out of this mess with his life.
Taking a deep breath, he pushed his arms downward, trying to get his hands underneath his rear end. He could escape much easily, he felt, if he could work directly on his hands. As he felt the limo swerving down an exit ramp off the interstate, he succeeded in this initial step. He quickly scrunched his legs up and maneuvered his hands under his feet, then upwards till they were right in front of his face. Now came the trickier part, and he'd have to work fast...
He started chewing hard on the ropes, hoping the Bad Guys would stay on whatever road they were on now a little longer. "Boy, it's gonna be great to finally off this kid," Marv crowed happily in the front seat, "And takin' out most of his friends makes it even better."
"And we get a multi-million dollar ransom off the rich one too, so it's a double bonus," Harry snickered, "Sorry if I got a little curt with ya, Marv, about blabbin' the plan. Yer right; he ain't gonna spill nothin' in a grave."
He let out a low grunt. "I'll tell ya, Marv, kids are the scum of the earth," he muttered, "We're all better off without 'em. My old man told me that before I ran away from home, and now I can see he was right."
"Was that before or after he hacked your old lady to pieces with the ax, Harry?" Marv inquired, making Kevin shiver at the thought of the terrible crime.
"After, Marv; I ran away right after he offed her. Heard they gave him lethal injection for it years later; served the old brute right, kickin' me around from dawn to dusk."
"Well, at least ya had a dad to beat ya up, Harry; wish I'd known who mine was before they dumped me in the orphanage when I was two," Marv sounded almost regretful.
"Ah, yer better off, Marv; parents are rubbish too. Family's overrated; it's money that's important in this world, and tomorrow, we're gonna be swimmin' in it."
With a low snap, Kevin's wrists broke free with one final bite. He released his feet, then grabbed the Talkboy, held it up, and hit Record again. Part of him did feel slightly sorry for the burglars now, hearing how bad they'd had it as children, but that was countered by his disgust at their continued heartless greed and contempt for children. He angled the Talkboy towards where Marv was now saying, "Hope they're good enough to keep us safe while we empty the vault, Harry."
"I think we can trust 'em, Marv; this Burke guy's clearly bent on takin' Roy Walley down. And to be honest, I'm all for it; Walley represents everything about family in this country, so nailin' him'll show everyone how overrated the trash is. Now my concern's gettin' outta Vegas without looking suspicious, but once we are out, we're probably home free. We'll probably slaughter the little creep's friends somewhere in the desert outside of town the other way; no point leavin' 'em close to him. Then we just use Burke's fake passports to Buenos Aires, pick up Lindhurst's ransom, and live like kings for the rest of our days. Here, this looks like a good place to turn off."
Kevin felt the road get bumpy underneath him. They were heading off road, he knew, meaning they were probably getting close to an isolated place to kill him. He lifted up the blanket and glanced worriedly around the back of the limousine for anything to fight back with. A fire extinguisher in the corner gave him an idea. He slowly reached out from under the blanket and grabbed it. Pulling it inside, he chewed through the protective tie just as the limo lurched to a stop and Harry declared, "Yep, this looks nice and isolated. Let's do it, Marv."
"Let me shoot once you've done it, Harry; please let me shoot him too!" Marv begged his partner. Kevin heard the limo's front doors opening. He rolled on his back, one hand on the extinguisher's pin and the other on the nozzle. "Just don't miss, McCallister," he told himself, knowing he probably only had one chance at this...assuming they didn't just shoot him without taking the blanket off...
He took a deep breath when he heard the back door opening in front of him. "OK kid, time to say your prayers. This is officially the end of the road for ya," Harry snickered. The blanket was pulled off Kevin. In a flash, he pulled the fire extinguisher's pin, aimed at Harry's face, and squeezed the nozzle, blasting Harry full tilt in the face with extinguisher fluid. "DOOOOOOOOOOH, RATCHA FRATCHA SHOOP PERT RIGGA RAGGA...!" Harry bellowed, dropping his gun and stumbling around blindly. Kevin spun towards Marv, who was watching his partner's predicament with a dumbfounded expression, and gave him a blast of extinguisher fluid to the face as well. Howling, Marv dropped his crowbar and stumbled away from the limo door. Kevin grabbed his items and took off running as fast as he could. "He's gettin' away, Harry!" Marv shouted from behind him.
"Gee, ya think!? Don't just stand..." Harry was cut off by the thump of the two of them staggering into each other. They toppled to the ground in a heap. Harry furiously wiped the fluid off his face. "Get up!" he hauled the still blinded Marv to his feet, "He ain't gettin' away from us this time!"
Ahead, Kevin breathed heavily, glancing in all directions. He couldn't make out the road at all; just dark desert as far as the eye could see. He needed a hiding place-a point make clear when another shot rang out behind him. He hit the deck until it zinged by overhead, then took off running to his left. Hopefully there would be a cave or something nearby he could take cover in...
...when suddenly, the ground almost disappeared between him. Kevin swayed to a stop, finding himself having run to the edge of a steep cliff, but proved unable and toppled over the edge...
...but saw a vine hanging underneath the ledge and grabbed hold of it just in time. It groaned but held his weight. Kevin sucked in a breath as the Bad Guys could be heard approaching the edge of the cliff above him. "Where are ya, you...whoa, watch it, Marv!" Harry caught his partner seconds before he went over the edge.
"Wow, what a drop," Marv commented, "I think he committed suicide, Harry; he chose the easy way out rather than face us like a man."
"I don't know, Marv..."
"Well of course he did; look, his tracks end right here."
"Don't see nothin' down there, Marv. I want his body to make sure he's dead."
"Hey, it's a big drop; no way he survived it," Marv assured his partner, "And even if he did, he's alone in the desert fifteen miles from Vegas or any civilization. Nobody's comin' to help him, no way he gets back to the road, and there's loads of rattlers and coyotes out here who'd love to have him for a midnight snack."
"Yeah, good point. Even if he ain't dead, he will be soon," Harry snickered, "Eat that, little buddy!" he shouted down to the canyon floor below, "Well, our work's essentially done, Marv. Let's go back to our luxury hotel room and enjoy the night on the town."
"I want to see a show, Harry; fork over some money," Marv asked them as Kevin heard them starting to walk away.
"Forget it Marv, no shows; I don't want the plan shot over you and some broads."
"Please, Harry, just one topless show; ya only live once, and Vegas..." Marv's words faded as he left earshot. Kevin remained motionless on his vine until he heard the Bad Guys' limo start and drive away. Once all was quiet, he heaved himself back up onto solid ground and stared around at the endless desert around him. He was all alone, far from civilization, his worst fate yet. And if he couldn't get help soon, he knew his nemeses were right; he was probably as good as dead...