Gun powder, burnt wood and blood was the first thing I smelled when I went in. The dust still hanging thick in the air. Bullet holes in every wall, shattered glass and windows, and bodies littered all around my house.
All the cops that were here with Gail were dead. Six officers, laying in a pool of their own blood.
No guns drawn.
They weren’t ready for this.
Eli ran in with the other officers, spreading out around my house, running upstairs and into the kitchen.
I spun around, looking at the bodies on the ground, but none of them were her.
“GAIL!” I shouted out, hoping she had hidden away, that she was safe.
The “clear” calls from the officers resounded through me as they checked each room. Eli ran down the stairs and holstered his gun.
“Paul, she’s not here.” He said, stepping over a puddle of blood.
I went over to my dining table, the computers trashed and shattered. Bullet holes in the screens, and the cables all cut.
My phone buzzed, and I pulled it out to see Tom’s number on the screen.
“Tom, he has Gail!” I said to him.
“I know.” Toms serious voice said.
I frowned, “How?”
“Gail had cameras installed in your house. They were on a live feed here at the precinct. The techs watched him come in and gun down everyone with an automatic rifle. They didn’t stand a chance.” Tom’s voice grew quiet, and sad as he continued, “He killed everyone, and took Gail. The techs notified dispatch to send units out, but he took her and left before they could get there. Paul, it looks like she got hit. I don’t know how bad yet, the techs are working on the images, but she’s hurt. I have units out on every street looking for him, but he was in a cop car. An officer was found dead on the highway not long ago, in the bushes. His uniform was gone, and so was his radio. He can hear everything now.”
I stood and listened to Tom speak, telling me about everything that happened.
This just happened. He was here, not long ago.
Tom continued, “We have a BOLO out on the officer’s car, but he’s too smart to still be in it. If we get anything, I will let you know.”
“Tom,” I said before he could hang up, “How many cops has this guy killed?”
A silence on the line, then “Twelve. Twelve officers. And he’s not done yet. No word yet if Lloyd will make it.”
I dropped my head, sighing out heavily, “Thanks for letting me know.” I said and hung up.
Twelve officers, Alex, Addison, Sarah, Henry, Matt, and those other families from years ago. Almost thirty people, dead because of one man.
I shook my head at the thought of all the death around this man. This one, single man, who had destroyed all these lives. All for one girl. One child. Lilly.
I turned to Eli, “He wants Lilly. I’m going to give her to him. This needs to end.”
Eli shook his head with shock, “Are you crazy! You know why he wants her. What he wants to do to her. You can’t do that, Paul. I won’t let you do that.”
I smiled at him and walked past him to my front door. I went outside and looked at the commotion going on, on the street. Cop cars, Ambulances, and, when I spotted the white van, I smiled. I went over to it and knocked on the side door.
A young woman, maybe late twenties opened, a head piece on her head, and a surprised look on her face. “Can I help you?” She asked cautiously.
“Can you go live from here?” I asked, showing her my badge and gesturing to the disks on the roof of the van.
She nodded, “Yeah we can, but the studio needs about five minutes warning. Do you want to make a statement?” She asked.
“Something like that,” I said and walked back to my front door. Eli was watching me, trying to work out what I was up to.
“What are you doing, man?” He asked as I walked past him into the house and grabbed Lilly’s picture off the wall. Eli followed me around the house, waiting for my answer.
I walked past him, and out the door again. I went over to the van, and now a man with a camera and man in a suit stood waiting for me.
They set up a mike on my shirt and lined me up in front of my house. They turned on the camera and waited for me to begin speaking.
I looked at Lily’s picture in my hand. Her sweet smiling face, and her big green eyes, glowing in the sunshine of the day.
I looked up at the camera, “I am speaking to Toni. I know what you want, and I know what you have.” I held up the picture, “No more killing and no more hurting people. I want to know she is safe, and I want your word that you will not hurt her. I’m done chasing you. I’m done playing your games. We end this. Now.” I said and pulled the mike off.
I went back into the house, Eli following me with shock, and I placed Lilly’s picture back on the wall.
Forensics swarmed all over my little home, and the stench of death was getting worse. I went outside, and took a deep, clearing breath.
“What’s the plan here, Paul?” Eli asked, coming up behind me.
I turned to him, “No plan. He wants Lilly, and I’m going to give her to him.” I said.
“Have you lost your mind? I can’t let you do that.”
“Its done. My mom and dad will see the broadcast, and so will Toni. Once this goes on the air, it won’t take long for him to contact me, and when he does, I will set up a trade.” I said, the corners of my mouth pulling at the sides.
Realisation filled Eli’s eyes, and he nodded. “I get it. It’s risky, but I get it.”
I turned back to my house, and shook my head, “Lets go to the precinct. Nothing we can do here but get in the way.” I said.
We climbed back into Eli’s car, and made our way to the station. Tom called us into his office and we sat down at his desk.
He went to his chair and sat down, “Just saw the broadcast. You sure about this?”
I nodded, “Yeah. It’s the only chance we will have. He wants her more than anything else, and we can use that to our advantage. When he calls, we can set up a place to meet, get some snipers ready, and block his exit. I will deliver her myself, to make sure it’s him, and we can finally end this.”
Tom leaned on his elbows on the desk, “It’s risky, Paul. If he gets his hands on her for even just a second, there is no telling what he will do.”
“I know. But it’s the only way to draw him out. All this time we have been chasing him and this is our only chance to have him come to us. Trust me, the last thing I want is to bring her back here, but I can't think of any other way.”
“Do you have a location picked out yet?”
I leaned forward, “I do. I want to go check it out before I commit to it.”
Tom leaned back and glanced between Eli and I, “Ok. Set it up. Get a team together and keep me informed.”
I stood from my chair and headed for the door when my phone rang. I pulled it out and showed the others the unknown number calling.
I slid it to answer, and put the call on speaker, “I see you have finally come around, Paul.” Toni’s out of breath voice said.
“I don’t want anyone else to die. You have left a trail of bodies behind you, and it needs to stop.”
His shuffles over the line muffled his voice as he said, “I don’t trust you. You won’t just hand over Lilly to me, not after everything we have been through. You want to lay a trap for me, don’t you?”
I looked up at Tom, “What kind of cop would I be if I didn’t. But this is the closest you will ever get to her, so it’s up to you if you want to take the chance or not.”
A moment of silence and then Toni said, “Fine. I have a few tricks left up my sleeve. When and where?”
“I want to know Gail is still alive?”
I waited, my heart racing.
Toni moved over the line, and we heard a door squeak open.
I heard him tell Gail to say hello to me and her weak voice came over the line, “Paul, don’t do this. You can’t bring Lilly back to Portland, he will kill her…” her voice grew distant as Toni took the phone away from her.
Toni’s annoyed voice came back on, “When and where?”
I smiled, “I need forty-eight hours to get her back. I don’t know where she is, and she could be out of the country already.”
Toni sighed, “I don’t think your precious Gail has that long, Paul. I accidentally shot her. She is bleeding all over the floor, and crying, and to be honest, she doesn’t look to good. You will be lucky if she makes it through the night.”
I dropped my gaze, and shut my eyes, “How do I contact you? If I get Lilly here sooner, how do I contact you to let you know?”
“Oh, don’t worry Paul, I will know. I have my ways.”
I looked up at Tom, “Ok. Call me back when you see she is back in Portland and we will set up the exchange.”
“Don’t fuck with me Paul. I am no longer in the mood for it. If I don’t see Lilly is back in Portland within forty-eight hours, I will start killing random people, and you and I both know you won’t find me.”
“Ok. Just please don’t hurt Gail.” I said quietly.
His smile was back as he said, “She is something special to you, isn’t she? I wonder if Addison would approve? A little young for my liking, but each to their own.”
I met Tom’s eyes then, and he shook his head to not engage.
I swallowed down the anger and said, “Just don’t hurt her any more than you already have. If she dies you have nothing to trade with.”
“Hurry up, Paul. My skills are in cutting people open, not keeping them alive.” He said and hung up.
I shoved my phone back into my pocket and walked out.
Eli followed me out, but I stopped him, “Look, Eli, I need to make a call quick. Give me 5 minutes then we can go check out this site I have planned out.”
Eli nodded, and I ran down the stairs and out of the building. I went over to an officer standing by his patrol car, “Hey, can I borrow your phone?” I asked.
He frowned at me and was about to say no, so I pulled out my badge and showed him. He relaxed and gave me his cell from his pocket.
I dialed the number I needed and waited for my mother to pick up.