Desperate Times Call for Heroics
But then, something reached his ears. "Hey kid!" he thought he heard a voice calling out in the distance. "No, it's just my imagination," he thought to himself, "I'm hallucinating..."
"Kevin!" came the call again. Kevin raised his head. Through the swirling sand and dust, there seemed to be a large mass moving towards him. "Who...?" he managed to say weakly.
"Are you there!?" the voice rang out again. Kevin's heart leaped: Sidney! But how? Oh well, he thought, it didn't really matter that much...
"Over here," he called out as loudly as he could manage, then mumbled to himself, "Wow, that was a fast miracle." Sidney's hands scooped him up. "I was hoping I'd find you somewhere out here," the bellboy breathed in relief, "Come on, let's get you back to the city."
"You've been looking for me?" Kevin was amazed, "How did you find me out here...?"
"Well, let's call it a Christmas miracle," Sidney carried him towards the desert road that was just over the nearest hill, where his Jeep Cherokee was parked, "I was just driving down the road and thought I saw you stumbling along there..."
"No, how'd you know I was out here?"
"I was having breakfast at Starbucks, and your two pals that gave you the run for your life came in, laughing to themselves about how good it was to have dumped you out in the desert to die. No more kids were going to die on my watch," Sidney opened the passenger door to the Cherokee with his foot and deposited Kevin inside, "We'll take you back and get some food into you-after we make sure your friends are safe..."
"They're not; Nate ran away into the city, and Burke's got the rest of them locked up back at the hotel!" Kevin told him breathlessly, "He hired the Bad Guys to rob the vault tonight and frame Martin Walley for it to get the company! We've got to get back there in time; what time is it!?"
"What time, if they said so?"
"Six," Kevin related to him everything he'd heard Burke tell the burglars last night about how to carry out his plan. Sidney glanced at his watch once Kevin had finished. "We don't have much time," he declared, climbing into the driver's seat and starting the car, "We'll see if we can find a phone and get through to the cops."
"But the cops might not help if Burke and his cronies turned us in as credit card thieves, as I think they might have," Kevin realized, "It might be all in my hands again to stop this..."
"Well, yeah, that's the problem," Sidney jammed his foot down hard on the accelerator, "They did turn you in, right before they fired me for interfering with them trying to arrest you and the others."
"Oh no. I'm sorry..." Kevin mumbled, feeling guilty.
"Don't worry; if we can stop what you say is imminent, I think I'll be right back in my old job," the bellboy absolved him, "And they didn't take my code key, so we could get in to help your friends. But I think we'd better find your pal Nate first if he ran off. What happened that drove him to it?"
"We had a big fight over going home. We've all had enough, but he kept holding on to his rage against his parents for having their baby," Kevin sighed, "I'm worried what might have happened to him since then; Vegas is no place for angry kids after dark. And I have no idea where he went after he jumped on the bus and left us."
"Well we'll find him before the cops do. I swear nothing's going to happen to him," Sidney said with grim determination on his face. "You really don't like seeing kids in any trouble, do you?" Kevin asked him, "You said you didn't want to see any more kids die...?"
"No, I can't stand seeing any of them hurt, especially not since..." Sidney stopped in mid-sentence, pain crushing his face. "Did something happen?" the boy pressed.
"Well, I might as well tell you," Sidney took a deep, uncomfortable breath, "I once had a family, the best little family you could have asked for. Two kids, Jennifer and Christopher; the nicest kids you could have ever known. They meant everything to me. And then..."
He slumped his head against the dashboard, "They wanted to go to the movies; my wife went along, but I turned it down; the roof needed fixing. While they were there, the theater caught fire. They tried to get out, but..."
He started sniffing. "I should have been there; I could have saved them, or at least gone out with them...you don't know how it feels to be the only one left, knowing you can never move on..." he stopped the car, crying too hard now to keep driving, "When I was hired for the resort, I started attaching myself to families. Most of them shooed me away, but I couldn't stop. I wanted to feel like a father again, and not the failure I am now. There was something about you and your friends that made me latch on to you like I did; you all reminded me of my kids. I just couldn't help feel for all of you..."
"Hey," Kevin patted him on the arm, "What happened wasn't your fault. You couldn't have known. And if you were the best possible father for your kids, you weren't a failure. If you were a failure, you wouldn't have come out here to find me. Bad things happen, I know, but if we keep holding on to them, how can we find any good in the world?"
"I guess...I don't know," Sidney lamented.
"Trust me, wherever they are now, your kids are still proud of you, especially after what you've done for me now," Kevin assured him, "They wouldn't blame you for what happened. And if we can make everything right, they'll be even prouder."
"Yeah. There won't be an unhappy ending here," Sidney wiped his eyes and stepped on the accelerator again, "Like I said, no kids are going to suffer on my watch tonight. These guys won't get away with this."
"You won't get away with this, whoever you are!" Mr. Rhodes threatened the Wet Bandits Gang, who now had he and the rest of his group tied to chairs inside the Cactus Motel's former office.
"Guess what, we just did," Marv snickered at him, then followed that up with a crowbar blow to the man's chest, "Now once we finish off yer kids, you'll all die too."
"Just leave my daughter out of whatever you're planning!" Mrs. Tafton begged him desperately, "Take me if you want, but let her live!"
"Sorry, toots; since she had to get involved with their little brat," Harry gestured contemptuously at the McCallisters, "She gotta die too."
"If you've harmed one hair on my son's head, you're a dead man...!" Kate started to threaten him.
"SHUT IT, MCCALLISTER!" Harry bellowed, thrusting his gun straight in her face, "We were gonna kill all of ya after tonight's job, but maybe we'll take ya first! And for your info, yer little creep deserves to be harmed after everything he's done to Marv and me the last couple years! I don't know why ya even care for him at all after what he pulled on us!"
"I wonder why they care so much every day too..." Buzz muttered in disgust.
"Can it, Buzz!" his father shot at him. Turning back to Harry, he said, "Look, I don't know what Kevin's done to you, but I'm sure we can discuss this like civilized human beings."
"We're way past civil now, bub," Harry told him sternly, "Now we're at total annihilation stage, meanin' everybody connected with yer little spitfire has to be destroyed."
"Well what is your problem with Kevin, then!?" Peter demanded.
"I'm so glad ya asked. Well, Mr. McCallister," Harry leaned right into his face, "Two years ago, Marv and me watched ya all goin' off to Paris, 'cause we knew yer house was loaded with top flight goods: jewels, cash, everything. But when we tried to get it, the little creep was waitin' for us. He committed felonious assault against us over and over again to try and stop us."
"That's ridiculous," Kate scoffed, "That's not the Kevin we know..."
"Oh really!? Well, lady, whatdya think of THIS!?" Harry pulled off his glove and thrust his palm, which still had the imprint of the McCallisters' doorknob on it, into her face. "He superheated the front doorknob and gave me this permanent tattoo," he growled at her, "And believe me, that was no picnic at all. And look at this," he pulled back his lip and thrust his mouth in front of her face, despite her revulsion, "There used to be a beautiful gold tooth in here, before he had the gall to knock it out with a paint can!"
"Gold tooth...honey, that must have been what I found on the floor after we got back home from Paris," Peter realized.
"Give it back now, and maybe I'll kill ya less painfully than the others," Harry offered him.
"I threw it out," Peter snapped at him, "And if this is true that you tried to rob our house while we were gone..."
"It is true, Peter," Kate's own expression was darkening too. "I know you now. You were the cop that came by when I was sending him to the attic," she snarled at Harry, "You lied to me; you were just casing our house to see what..."
"Yeah, yeah, yer breakin' my heart," Harry brushed her off just as coldly. "And then," he continued, "Last year, Marv and I break outta jail and head to New York, ready to start fresh after one last score at Duncan's Toy Chest. But the little creep interfered and put us through the wringer again."
"Well, all I can say is you two derelicts probably deserved every last bit of it if it's true," Uncle Frank grumbled at them.
"What was that!?" Harry grabbed him by the collar, "Yeah, pal, I REALLY deserved to be catapulted onto a car, hit in the head with a shower of tools, blown up by a gas-filled toilet, slammed into the wall by a tool chest, and dropped off a four story building!"
"Well you're not really giving yourself any..."
"Frank, for the love of God, shut up!" Aunt Leslie frantically gave him a kick in the shin. "He's just worked up," she begged to Harry, "We don't...!"
"Save it, lady," Harry told her off, "Beggin' ain't gonna save anyone in this room. Yer all gonna die and die gruesomely, just the way he tried to kill Marv and me. That's the way it was meant to be this year for everybody named McCallister."
"McCallister? I'm not a McCallister. My name's Schultenbrantz, yes, Franklin R. Schultenbrantz," Uncle Frank rambled in a panic, "This people shanghaied me here against my will; I'd be willing to join up with you gentlemen if you'll just agree not to kill me..."
"Listen to that, boys, we've got a comedian here," Harry snickered at his gang, who laughed hard. Tell ya what, pal, here's the deal," he grabbed Uncle Frank by the throat, "When we get back, we'll kill ya first so you don't got to worry about yer identity crisis no more."
"Thanks for nothing," Uncle Frank gasped in resignation. Harry released his grip just as the phone rang. "Get it, Fingers," he told the safecracker before walking away to have a conference with the rest of his goons. Kate turned to Peter with a confused expression. "Could Kevin really have done what they said?" she asked him, concerned.
"I'm starting to wonder, Kate," Peter frowned at their captors, "I'm thinking they wouldn't be this worked up if it wasn't at least partially true. And like I said, I did find that gold tooth. I think we just walked into one heck of a grudge match here."
"I just hope Kevin's all right at the moment," she mumbled, fear spreading on her face.
"Sorry, he ain't," Marv snickered in her face, "We threw him off a cliff in the desert last night; even if he survived the fall, there's no way he survived the night out there."
"What!?" she went deathly pale.
"He's lying, Kate," Peter cut in quickly, trying to look calm at this distressing news, "He's just trying to get us riled up. Even if Kevin is out there, he's perfectly all right..."
"Hey Harry, it's Burke on the other end," Fingers called from the phone, "Change of plans; we're moving in earlier. Roy Walley called him; he's coming in on an earlier plane. We're moving in at five now."
"Wish he'd give us notice further out," Harry muttered, glancing at his watch, "All right, tell him we'll be there A.S.P.C.A. And have him send a spare guard or two down to keep an eye on these people till we get back. We gotta..."
There came an agonized cry from Mrs. Ostrowski, who thrashed about in her chair. "Lisa, what's wrong!?" her husband maneuvered his chair closer to hers, "Is it coming out...!?"
"I think it's getting close, Mitch!" she gritted her teeth in pain.
"Look, my wife's very pregnant; let her go to have the baby!" Mr. Ostrowski pleaded the burglars, "You can kill me, but let her and the baby live!"
"Sorry, pal, but everyone in this room dies for their connection to the McCallisters' kid, and I mean everybody!" Harry glared coldly at him, "And if you think I give a damn about some baby, yer an idiot; this world's better off with less kids in it."
"How can you be that heartless!?" Mrs. Ostrowski was appalled at him, "You'd let an unborn baby die...!"
"Heartless!? Ya don't know what heartless is!" Harry bellowed at her, "Heartless is my old man beatin' me from dawn till dusk, tellin' me I was worthless! Heartless is livin' in the worst neighborhood imaginable, dirt poor! Heartless is what their kid," he jerked a finger at the McCallisters, "did to Marv and me for just tryin' to make bucks the American way! So don't ya say anything I do is heartless! Because the world itself is heartless, sweetheart; money's the only think that matters to get ya respect! It's a screw them before they screw ya world, and I ain't gonna get screwed no more! So no, I don't care if yer stinkin' baby dies tonight; I don't care who all dies tonight!"
He slapped her hard across the face to emphasize his opinion. "But I'll give ya some relief; I'll kid ya and yer kid last when we get back with our dough," he told her, calmer now. "Marv, call in the threat," he told his partner, "Let's get this show on the road."
Marv took a piece of paper off Fingers, glanced hard at it, then dialed the phone number on it. "Hello, Walley World Resort?" he said in an almost laughably bad fake Germanic accent, "Just want ya to know, we've planted a huge bomb inside the hotel, and it's gonna go off in a half hour, and ya can't stop it. We're gonna enjoy seein' all those kiddies blown sky high!"
He punctuated his message with an over the top evil laugh before hanging up. "Nice, Marv," Harry rolled his eyes. "OK boys, lock and load," he told the rest of his gang, "Our millions and our vengeance awaits!"
"Oh no!" Kevin groaned, seeing HAZMAT and other emergency vehicles zooming past Sidney's Cherokee on the Strip, "They're already making their move!"
"Great!" Sidney slapped the steering wheel, "I hate when this happens! Well, we've just got to work around this and..."
But Kevin's attention was snatched by something important outside the passenger window. "Sidney, there's Nate!" he exclaimed, pointing hard, "And hurry, it looks like he's in trouble!"
For a terrified, squirming Nate was being dragged into an alley next to New York, New York by an ominous-looking unshaven man. "Yeah, I see," rage spread on Sidney's face, "Well, we're going to stop this right now."
He pulled over hard to the curb, smashing into a Cadillac in the space in front of him. "Stay behind me," he instructed Kevin, who joined him in exiting the car, "I don't want you in danger here too."
Kevin nodded softly. He fell behind Sidney and followed the bellboy into the alley. "Hold still, you little rat!" Nate's attacker was bellowing, flashing a knife in his face and straining to hold him down to the ground, "This is only going to take...!"
"Uh, excuse me," Sidney spoke up loudly, "But do you have a license for what you're thinking of doing here?"
"Stay out of this, fat boy!" the other man leaped to his feet and thrust his knife at Sidney, "This is none of your business!"
"Stopping people like you who seem to like attacking kids IS my business," Sidney defiantly advanced towards him, "So is this going to be easy, or is this going to be hard!?"
Roaring, the other man swung the knife at him. Sidney jumped out of its path, disarmed his foe with an Akido kick, and started pummeling him with a massive barrage of martial arts blows. "You know," he bellowed in rage, "There's a hierarchy in Hell, and the lowest circle closest to Satan is reserved for people like you!"
He picked the attacker up and pile-drove him hard onto the lid of the nearest dumpster. The other man crumpled limply to the ground, motionless. His face now racked with concern, Sidney squeezed his wrist. "Good, just out cold," he breathed in relief, "If I'd actually killed him..."
"You did good," Kevin commended him. He rushed forward towards his friend, still laying on the ground. "Nate are you all right!?"
"Kevin!" sobbing out of control, Nate threw his arms around him, "Thank God you saw me; I was so scared! He made it clear he was going to...going to...!"
He let out a loud burst of grief. "I'm here, Nate," Kevin hugged him close, "You'll be all right now."
"No I'm not all right! I've been a complete jerk!" Nate lamented out loud, "You were right, Kevin; I've only been thinking of myself the last few weeks! I miss Mom and Dad so much; I want to go home!"
He buried his face in Kevin's chest. "I should have never run away!" he continued, "I've been walking around for the last twenty hours without anything to eat; I got mugged by another guy right after midnight, so I had no money to get anything to eat. I was finally going to turn myself in when that guy grabbed me by the MGM Grand and made it clear he was going to...everything I'm going through at home's nothing compared to all this! You were right all along, Kevin; we should have gone home right away. But I don't deserve to go home after what I've done...!"
"Nate, Nate," Kevin pulled his head up to look him in the eye, "I don't care anymore about anything you said or did. I'm just glad my best friend's all right. And you're not beyond forgiving. Remember what I said the pigeon lady told me in New York last year? A good deed erases a bad deed, and good deeds count extra tonight on Christmas Eve. And it looks like we're going to get the chance to get you a good deed to do."
He related the Wet Bandits' scheme, and their classmates' current situation. "Well, I just hope they're not dead yet," Nate said softly when he'd finished.
"I don't think so; Mr. Burke didn't want any dead bodies around until the vault was robbed, and the Bad Guys were bent on getting a ransom from Danielle's dad. So they're probably safe until the job's done," Kevin rationalized, "So we have to..."
He caught sight of another figure trudging by the front of the alley. "Mr. Walley," he recognized Martin and ran towards him, "Mr. Walley, the...!"
"This is the end," Martin mumbled out loud, not really noticing him, "Accidents, fire alarms, shooting in the lobby, now bomb threats. Dad and I are out for sure now. How can I face him now when he gets here...!?"
"Mr. Walley, snap out of it!" Kevin shook his pant leg hard, "You've been set up by Mr. Burke the whole time!"
Martin's head jerked downwards towards him. "What? Oh, it's you. What was that?" he asked, frowning.
"Burke wants your father's company," Sidney came over, "He's about to rob the vault and pin it on you to force the Walley family out."
"Here's the proof," Kevin dug out his Talkboy and played back Burke's incriminating words to the Wet Bandits the previous night. Martin's eyes went wide at the conversation. "I should have known," he muttered darkly, "Burke always did seem the type to pull something like this. I can guess he tampered with the floats and rides all this time too so that I'd get the bad publicity. Well, we've got..."
It was at that moment that a loud boom came from the direction of the Walley World Resort down the street. A single firework rose high into the sky and exploded in a shower of red sparks. "That's the signal. The Bad Guys are moving in now," Kevin gulped, "We've got to stop them and save the others quick. And..." a smile started spreading on his face, "I know exactly how to do it."
"You mean we're going to do it, Kevin?" Nate asked him eagerly.
"We don't have much time to do anything else, so yeah, Nate, we're going to do it," Kevin nodded.
"ALL RIGHT!" Nate pumped his fist in excitement, "I've wanted to do that with you ever since you first told me you'd done it."
"But keep in mind, we're not aiming to kill them, Nate," Kevin reminded him, "Just cause them enough grief to slow them down or stop them until the cops can arrest them all."
"Um, what are you planning to do?" Martin asked him, confused.
"Operation Ho-Ho-Ho 3," Kevin told him, "You and Sidney can help us too, Mr. Walley; since obviously the two of you know the resort's layout, you can help us figure out the best places to lay the traps for these guys, and what we can use for traps."
"Traps? I'm afraid I still don't understand..."
"I'll explain on the way," Kevin took his hand and started pulling him towards the hotel, "Come on, we've got to hurry..."