SHADOW

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CHAPTER 59

THE TWO WOMEN left for the hospital later that afternoon with the sun high in the sky.

Getting Alan discharged from the hospital and wheeled into Samantha’s car outside the building was not as complicated as they’d feared, even though the doctors on duty expressed strong misgivings about the exercise. They pointed out the fragility of the patient’s health, warning that his situation could spiral out of control and cause his death. But his mother allayed their concerns as best she could, and once the necessary papers had been signed and bills paid, the rest was pretty much easy.

Samantha appeared agitated and nervous, with her hands shaking visibly, so Agatha took charge of the situation by opting to drive them back instead while Samantha sat at the back seat, cradling the unconscious boy delicately. At least, she was of clearer mind then, even though she had a bit of anxiety. They had to hurry and leave quickly.

Agatha got behind the wheel and turned the key in the ignition. The car spurted into life, coughed once and jerked forward as though to accelerate. Then the engine went off suddenly. Agatha gave it a few more attempts; the engine only coughed reluctantly each time but failed to fire up.

Agatha Tronnel stopped with a dastardly look in her eyes, and exchanged curious glances with Samantha.

“It won’t start,” she said in a hushed, quiet tone.

“What?” asked Samantha. “Why?”

Agatha said nothing, just seemed dazed.

“Is it the battery?”

“I don’t think so,” Agatha answered, wide-eyed.

“Try it again,” Samantha urged her, sounding frustrated now. “It’s got to start.”

Sister Agatha tried starting the car a few more times before finally giving up altogether. She looked mildly terrified and Samantha looked flustered.

“What now?” she lamented.

Agatha Tronnel, paused. Then she turned round and shot a quick, terrified glance at Alan where he lay. “I think it’s Alan. It’s your son.”

“What?!”

“He knows already, knows what we’re going to do and he won’t let us leave.”

Samantha stared, perplexed and not sure what to say for a moment. As both women sat confounded and at a loss for options, from across the road, a dark grey sedan pulled over right adjacent to Samantha’s car. In the driver’s seat, Detective Lee Davies leaned forward and waved at Samantha with a friendly grin on his face.

“Who’s that?” asked Agatha, staring at Davies suspiciously.

“A friend, I guess,” said Samantha, alighting from the car. “Come on.”

A moment later, they were all sitting in Detective Davies car on the way to carry out the assignment at hand.

At the back seat, Samantha sat beside her son with his head resting on her thighs, watching him breathing gently, watching the pale countenance of his skin and his eyebrows as they twitched slightly every now and then. She seemed heartbroken and distraught, just doing all she could to keep herself from breaking down in despair. But it was apparent that she was under so much pressure.

Who wouldn’t be?

Davies lifted his eyes and cast a glance at Samantha through the head mirror. He felt touched by her pains, felt truly sorry for her. She’d been through hell and high waters lately, he thought, yet here she was, taking it in her strides and forging forward in spite of all.

What a woman.

He clenched his lips and nodded to her encouragingly when their eyes met. But Samantha looked away sadly, lowering her face as the tears dripped from her eyes. Beside Davies on the front seat, Sister Agatha sat stiffly, her eyes locked on the road up ahead, her thoughts distant.

Alan’s breath was rough and wheezy, audible in the silence of the car. Sister Agatha Tronnel seemed very uneasy, staring out her side of the window at the busy street with septic suspicion and uncertainty, taking in every detail she could as they headed down town.

Davies noticed this uneasiness about her. “Everything alright?” he asked generally, narrowly avoiding an oncoming white van that almost rammed into them at that point. Davies applied the break suddenly, causing everyone in his car to jerk forward.

Then swearing quietly, he moved along again as the van pulled to a stop besides a bank building by the side of the road. Agatha frowned subtly, fixing her curious gaze on the white van, even though Detective Davies was now driving down the road again, leaving the van behind.

That was why she was able to notice that the three young men in the van had taken a curious interest in their car and were staring after them as well. They locked eyes with her, and she gasped at the glassy, hypnotic look she saw in their eyes.

Samantha turned away at once and sat back, not sure what to make of what she just noticed. Her heart beat rapidly within her, and she felt herself becoming more uneasy then. They drove on in silence for a few minutes. Then at a nearby intersection, the street light flashed red and Davies pulled to a halt.

“You should keep going,” suggested Sister Agatha, turning to look at him, and then around at the people on the street.

Lee Davies sighed, snorted quietly but said nothing.

“I’m serious,” she said. “We shouldn’t stop.”

“I’m a police officer, you can’t possibly expect me to…,” he was saying casually, when the sound of gun shot rang out suddenly from behind, shattering the peace of the environment and sending people screaming and scrambling for cover.

There was pandemonium. The window and windscreen of a car beside Davies’ exploded as the second shot struck, followed by more screams.

Detective Davies swore and ducked tentatively, looking around wildly to get a sense of what was happening. He instinctively drew his gun tucked in his shoulder holster, glaring about to determine the position of the shooter. Around him in the car, the two women were bending over and shrieking in panic.

“What the…!”

The next shot shattered the back windscreen of their car, spraying splintered glass all over the place and on their bodies. Lee Davies swore loudly again, then he stepped hard on the gas pedal, shifting into drive mode. The car responded with a roar, screeched and shot forward like an arrow let loose. It skidded for a moment, swerved precariously before finally staying stable on the road.

Several more shots followed; more broken glass falling about in the car. There were screeching sounds of vehicle about, and a few accidents as cars collided into each other in the confusion. Davies kept a firm grip on his steering wheel, swerving the car from left to right at critical angles to avoid bumping into other cars.

The shootings became more rapid, and as Davies sped down the road amidst the pandemonium and gunfire, he wondered who was shooting.

But even more disturbing was the notion that they appeared to be the primary target of the shooting! As the thought crossed his mind, he turned and locked eyes with Sister Agatha, who was cowering on the floor beside him. She had a knowing look in her petrified stare. Then he looked back at Samantha, also on the floor, cradling her unconscious son desperately.

The van appeared from behind, rearing up at neck-breaking speed like a wild, raging beast. Davies grimaced as he stepped down on the accelerator. Glancing in the side mirror, he realized that it was the same van they’d narrowly avoided bumping into a while back. There were two men with half their bodies hanging out of the windows of the van at either side. They held automatic rifles with a murderous look in their dark eyes.

“Who the hell are these guys!” he said loudly, and swerved right precariously in a bid to shake them off his back.

“It’s the boy,” said Sister Agatha Tronnel terribly. “He’s trying to stop us, to kill us all!”

“The hell with this!” growled Detective Davies through gritted teeth. Then he took another sharp bend and skidded off the main street, sending the car lurching forward in a burst of fumes and dust.

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