"Finally, Las Vegas," Kate all but groaned, staggering out the gangway into McCarran. The "eight hour layover" in Denver had ended up lasting a good sixteen; a glance at her watch showed it was now two thirty local time. "All right, is everyone here?" she turned back to the rest of her family trickling off the plane; the last thing she wanted was to lose anyone one else now at the critical moment.
"Yeah, but I'll reiterate that I don't want to be," Buzz grumbled at the rear of the pack.
"OH SHUT UP!" all the rest of the McCallisters shouted at him.
"Where do you think we go from here, Kate?" Mrs. Tafton leaned over her shoulder.
"Well, Rachel, we know they were on TV at the Walley resort, so that's the best place to look first," Kate reasoned, "So let's get some cabs and be there in ten minutes-hopefully with no more delays."
"Not with him," Mrs. Rhodes pointed coldly at her husband, "We should have left him behind."
"Damn you, Janice, I've had it with this!" Mr. Rhodes roared back in her face, "You think you're the only worth helping Ethan...!?"
"Well you've hardly proven yourself worth it!"
"Well neither have you, for the record, you...!"
"Stop, OK, just stop!" Peter stepped between them, "I asked you before, leave your personal problems at the door here! Right now your son needs both of you, so act like adults and both be there for him!"
"You don't understand our personal problems...!" Mrs. Rhodes muttered under her breath.
"Are we going to have trouble now, Janice!?" Kate glared at her, prompting Mrs. Rhodes to silence. "Good. All right, let's get going," she started for the escalator as fast as she could go.
"And not that I'm complaining, Kate," Peter had to rush to keep up with her, "But given how stressed out you are, maybe I should do the talking at the hotel."
"Excuse me, sir," it was in fact he who approached the Walley World Resort's front desk about fifteen minutes later and waved at Les, "We'd like to have a word with you if we could."
"Ah, yes, good afternoon," Les greeted him, staring with wonder at everyone behind Peter, "Do you folks want to check in?"
"Maybe if we have to. It's about our son; he and some of his classmates were on Splat Zone last night here, and we want to see if they're still here," Peter explained. Les's expression froze. "Ch-Children?" he asked nervously.
"Yes, six in all. Here's our son's picture," Peter slid a photo of Kevin from his wallet across the counter into Les's hands. "Oh...oh...uh...I see," Les started sweating, "Well, um...are these the other parents?" he gestured at everyone behind the McCallisters.
"Yes, now are our kids here or not!?" Mr. Clark pressed him firmly.
"Um...well...uh...let me, um, make a call or two here," Les abruptly rushed into the back room behind the counter. Kate frowned after him suspiciously. "Something's not right," she whispered to her husband, "There's something about him..."
But Les came rushing right back out right away. "Don't need to make a call, just remembered...um, everyone, there's good news and bad news," he stammered nervously, "The, uh, good news is, um, yes, they were here-your kids, that is-but the bad news is, they're not right now..."
"Well where are they!?" Mrs. Ostrowski demanded, looking quite worried.
"We, um, don't know, we, uh, found they were misusing a credit card all over the Strip, and when we, um tried to talk to them about it, they sort of, uh..."
"Did you scare them off!?" Peter shouted, slamming his fist down on the desk and making Les jump, "I'm getting very tired of you hotel people jumping down my son's throat over every...!"
"Sir, please, it wasn't my fault, really, they...!" Les froze up again, his face now going pale. For the Wet Bandits were coming in the door. "Hey yo there," Harry called out to him, "Just wancha to know, it's all taken care off; he's nice and..."
"Um, sorry, gentlemen, but now's not the time for that," Les said quickly, gesturing nervously with his thumb at the parents, although Harry frowned in confusion at this. "Right. Well, anyway, me and the boys're ready for the job, so we'll go get set; tell the boss everything's A-OK at the moment," he continued.
"Fine, good. Now, I really have something to take care of at the moment, gentlemen," Les waved them off. Frowning at each other, the burglars nonetheless turned to leave. "Um, just some outside contractors of ours; they're working on some special projects for us in regards to tonight's big film premiere here," he told the McCallisters quickly, "Now, is there anything I can do for you to help you find your son then, Mr. McCallister...?"
The Wet Bandits, who were almost out the door, stopped dead in their tracks. "MCCALLISTER!?" they exclaimed simultaneously. Their heads shot back around towards the front desk. Harry broke into a loud laugh. "It's perfect!" he exclaimed, mirth spreading on his face, "This is the best thing we coulda asked for right now!"
"Yeah," Marv nodded in agreement. Then he frowned. "What is, Harry?"
"OOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" Harry threw up his hands in disgust at his partner's thickness. "Go out and tell the gang to get their guns ready to use in a minute; I'll bring 'em all out for us. Go, go," he waved Marv out the door, then strode up to the large party at the front desk. "'Scuse me," he spoke up, "Are you the McCallisters?"
"Uh, yes," Peter turned towards him.
"The McCallister family that lives at 671 Lincoln Boulevard, Shermer, Illinois?"
"Yes, that's us. Who're you, and how do you know where...?"
"Oh, I got my sources," Harry grinned; he recognized Mr. and Mrs. McCallister now from when he'd been face to face with them inside their house two years ago. "I'm Officer Lyme, Las Vegas P.D. undercover. We got the missing report for your son, and, well, we know where and his homies...I mean, the other kids are."
"You do!? Wonderful, where are they!?" Kate pressed him hard.
"Just follow me, and we'll explain everything for all of ya," Harry gestured towards the door, "Go on, all of you outside, and you'll get your answers."
The McCallisters and the other families rushed for the door. Harry stepped into place behind them all and drew his gun when he was sure they weren't watching him. Loud screams rang out the moment everyone stepped through to the outside, where Harry saw the rest of his gang (except for Marv, who was waving his crowbar around wildly, to Harry's disgust) training their guns on the large group. Harry stepped out himself. "OK, anybody named McCallister who makes one move from here on gets filled fulla lead!" he bellowed, waving his gun around at everyone. This prompted another ear-splitting scream from Aunt Leslie-followed by a low thump as Uncle Frank fainted dead away. "Pick him up!" Harry ordered her, "All right, everybody in the RV now!" he gestured towards it, parked nearby.
"What's going on here!?" Peter demanded furiously, "You said you knew where my son was...!"
"Yeah, I do, and yer all gonna be joining him soon! I said inside, all of ya!" Harry bellowed. He joined the rest of his gang in herder their new prisoners into the RV. "Good, now we're goin' fer a..." he started to climb inside himself, but had to stop; they'd packed so many people into the RV that there was no room for they themselves to get in. "Um..." he scanned around for a way to get in, "Uh, Lenny, use that," he told the gang's enforcer, pointing to a metal pole that a red velvet rope for the evening's film premiere was hooked onto nearby and gesturing at the passenger side window. Rolling his eyes, Lenny nonetheless picked the pole up and drove it through the window. "Good. You guard the front door; Fingers, Sammy, hold onto the back and make sure they don't escape that way," he instructed them, climbing through the broken window.
"You know how conspicuous this is, Harry?" Sam complained furiously, "I know what you're thinking, but there's no way we don't get pulled over if we're looking like...!"
"Not if we go a hundred the whole way. Now get into place!" Harry brushed him off despite the frustrated groans of the newest gang members. "Here, watch 'em, Marv," he handed Marv his gun once his longtime partner had squeezed into the passenger seat. He started the engine and peeled out into traffic as fast as he could despite the cries and shouts of the rest of the gang, fighting hard to hold on tight to the side and back doors. "You'll never get away with this, whatever you're doing!" Mr. Clark threatened from somewhere in the back of the crowd behind them.
"Oh yes we will, now that we got youse people with us," Marv taunted him back, waving the gun around, "And anybody who tries to escape don't get to go home alive-unless ya all don't go home alive."
"If you know where our children are, I demand you take them to them now!" Kate bellowed at the top of her lungs.
"Oh, you'll be with him again soon, Mrs. McCallister," Marv told her cockily, then turned to Harry and chuckled under his breath, "In Heaven, that is..."
Kevin at that moment was on his last bit of strength. He'd been walking all night without rest, but there was still nothing but seemingly endless desert as far as he could see. Exhaustion now completely overwhelmed him, as did hunger and thirst. He'd heard wolf or coyote howls all night, and had been surprised they hadn't come and taken him. Part of him now almost wished they would...
Another, more ethereal, howl made him glance up. The wind was picking up hard, and a dust storm could be seen approaching in the distance fast. Kevin didn't care anymore. There was no point in trying to avoid it. Hardly any point in anything, he thought miserably...
With an anguished sigh, he collapsed onto his chest, too tired to go another step. Seemingly seconds later, the dust storm engulfed him. Kevin sobbed into the sand, wishing the nightmare would just end somehow. "I'm sorry, guys," he mentally thought towards his friends, wherever and in whatever condition they were now, "I'm sorry I couldn't keep you safe. And I'm sorry I put you guys through this, Mom, Dad," he thought tearfully for his family, "Please forgive me. I'll never ask for any present ever again as long as I live if I just get out of this alive with everyone and back home safe to Chicago. Please God, give me one more Christmas miracle if you can...!"