A Rescue Mission
You guys find anything!?” Beth hissed to the rest of the Sidekicks in the darkness of the closet.
“We’ve been all over this closet three times, Beth, nothing. No air vents, no weak spots in the wall, nothing to break the door down with, nothing!” Shawn growled in frustration.
“Don’t shout at me; I was just asking!” Beth snapped. She sighed and slumped back against the closet door. “There’s just got to be some way out of this!” she muttered in disgust.
“I know, sis, I know. We’ll find it. We’ve just got to, for Amy...” Craig agreed, plopping down next to her. He hung his head. “Poor Amy. I can only guess what horrible things they may have done to her by now. If only we could get to her, if only we could help her...”
He started sniffing, although he was quickly drowned out by a louder, more sustained set of sobs elsewhere in the closet. “Judy, Judy, don’t cry, it’s all right,” Patrick spoke up, crawling towards his friend.
“I can’t help it, Patrick, I’m scared!” Judy wailed fearfully, “I just know we’re all going to die...!”
“We’re not going to die, Judy, I promise.”
“How do you know we won’t!? We’re completely trapped, that guy’s probably going to machine gun us all, Amy might be already dead...!” Judy slumped forward and cried hard. “Judy, please, listen to me,” Patrick gently lifted her head up, “We’ve been best friends since we were six, and you trust whatever I tell you, right?”
“Then trust me when I tell you it’s going to be all right. Remember when we were twelve, and you gave up six goals against the team from Lechtown and were scared you’d never get to be a goalie ever again? Remember what I told you when you were crying on the bench at the end of the game?”
“That you believed I was still the best goalie around, and that one game didn’t define me.”
“And what happened in the next game against Waterburg?”
“I...I pitched a shutout.”
“See, dark things don’t last forever. Either we’ll find a way out of here, or someone’ll find us, Judy, I promise. And this is the biggest promise I’ve ever made to you. We’re not going to die, and you can mark my words on that.”
He pulled her into a hug. “Thanks Patrick,” Judy mumbled gratefully to him, wiping at her eyes, “I can never tell you how grateful I am that you’ve always been there for me when I needed someone.”
“And you’ve been there for me too a lot,” he squeezed the hug tighter, “We’re going to be OK, Judy, honest.”
“Come pray with me if you want, Judy; maybe that’ll ease your worries a bit,” Monica offered, still kneeling by the wall. Judy obligingly crawled over and folded her arms next to Monica. “How do manage it, Monica, having so much faith in dark times like this?” she asked the brunette, “How do you keep from being scared?”
“Actually, I am as scared as you are, Judy,” Monica confessed, “But I believe God’ll get us through.”
“I hope so, and that it’s not just because your father’s...”
“Shh, quiet, he’s on the phone, maybe we’ll learn something,” Craig whispered sharply, cutting off the conversation. All heads turned towards the door, where their guard could be heard answering a phone: “...mostly behaving, Nevin; a couple have shouted at me to let them out and banged on the door, but they haven’t given me any trouble. How about with the pretty one you have?”
“Tried to get loose, but we taught her a lesson and fixed her so she won’t try it again,” Nevin bragged, making the teens gulp fearfully for Amy’s safety, “Listen, Lou, you might as well finish off her friends when you get the chance. No point in leaving that loose end laying around any longer than we need it.”
There was a sober silence on the other end. “You’re absolutely sure, Nevin?” Lou asked, sounding hesitant, “I mean, no one’s coming up here for days; we can just leave them locked in here and let them starve to death; I can barricade the door even more...”
“Lou, I said no loose ends,” Nevin ordered firmly, “Kill all those kids. Take their bodies as deep in the woods as you can and bury them when you’re done; they’ll be skeletons by the time someone finds them.”
“Well, all right, Nevin,” Lou agreed, still sounding reluctant to kill his prisoners, “And what about me, then? I’m not sure I can get up there with the snow what it is...”
“I’ll send Fred or Vera down on a snowmobile to pick you up and bring you back up here. Just make sure the job’s done when they get there, and check to make sure we’ve cleared everything out down in the basement.”
He hung up. The teens gulped again in unison at their fate. “Well, orders are orders, I suppose,” Lou mumbled. A clip of ammunition could be heard being jammed into a gun. “Guys...!” a fearful Shawn whimpered.
“Everyone close, everyone together,” Beth said firmly, waving the others close into a bunch, “If this is it...” she took a fearful breath, “we’ll fight him to the bitter end.”
She rose to her feet with her fists balled at the sound of the heavy object blocking the door being pushed aside. Craig did the same, as did the others a moment later, their eyes locked in nervously on the soon to open door...
“Hey, you guys here?” came a welcome call from nearby outside the closet, “Craig? Patrick? Anyone?”
“Kyle!” Craig shouted, pounding on the door, “Kyle we’re in here!”
“Who’s there!?” Lou yelled, followed by the sound of his gun cocking, “This hotel is closed!”
“Yeah, and you don’t work here, whoever you are!” Kyle taunted him.
“Come here, you little brat! You’re going to join your friends in a moment!” Lou could be heard running to the left. It was then, though, that another gun cocked. “FREEZE!” came Andrea’s furious shout, “Drop that gun, mister!”
“L-L-Look, girlie, let’s not make more trouble here...!” Lou stammered, sounding fearful.
“My name is Andrea Lang, not Girlie! And so you know, buster, my father’s taken my brother and I hunting for years, so I’m well trained in using this gun! So put your gun down and tell us where our friends are, or I’ll shoot you like a deer, I swear it!” Andrea threatened him.
“Back there!” Lou mumbled over the sound of his gun clattering to the floor, “But let me explain...!”
“Don’t want to hear it! Give Kyle the key, now!” Andrea barked. A minute or so passed, but a key soon turned in the closet’s lock and the door was flung open, blinding the Sidekicks with the first light they’d seen in hours. “You guys OK!?” Kyle asked them, worried.
“We are now, Kyle. His boss just called; he told that guy to shoot us!” Monica told him, blinking hard to restore her sight, “You and Andrea got her just in time...” her vision got clear enough to see Andrea pointing a hunting rifle at Lou, now flat against the wall.
“Guess we did,” Kyle shuddered nervously at the thought, “What happened to Amy!?” he asked the others worriedly as they filed out of the closet, “Andrea got a text that she was in trouble, and we saw video of her tied up somewhere...”
“This guy and his gang robbed the bank in town; they grabbed Amy as a hostage last night and locked us up in that closet,” Monica explained, “This was their main hideout; all of us coming here ruined it for them. Dylan’s with them; he tricked Amy into going with him when then grabbed her and helped force us into the closet at gunpoint. He’s going to do something terrible to her, I know it...!” she shivered.
“I feel so sorry for everything I said to her; when I saw her tied up on that feed, I just felt guilty for not giving her a chance the last few days,” Andrea lamented, “So Kyle and I decided to make amends; we came back to...”
She had lowered the gun slightly while giving her confession. Lou suddenly took the opportunity to push her aside and take off like a shot towards the door. Andrea stumbled backwards and felt against the wall. She rapidly raised the rifle back up, but Lou was already out the door...
...when a crutch suddenly slammed into his chest, making him groan and stumble forward. The crutch then came down on his head, sending him sprawling face first to the ground. “Laurie!?” Beth gasped in surprise, seeing the redhead hobble through the door, covered in snow, “How’d you get back here!?”
“I was able to drive up on my good leg; it was tricky, but I managed. Felt good too, being the first time in weeks I didn’t get someone else to chauffeur me around,” Laurie explained, staring back at Lou, “Looks like I got here just in time...”
“But the question is, do we want you around, after everything you said and did to Amy?” Judy scowled at her, “Because I’m not convinced we should take you back.”
“I understand, Judy. And guys, I’m...I’m so sorry,” sniffing, Laurie fell to her good knee and hung her head in shame at her conduct, “I’ve just...I’ve just been so terrible lately, I’ve been angry and hurt about everything that happened, and I...I shouldn’t have said or done half the things I did. I shouldn’t have jumped all over Amy when she did nothing wrong to me, shouldn’t have demanded you guys choose between us. I think that slap you gave me might have been exactly what I needed,” she glanced up forlornly at Andrea, “I was just a complete jerk before that; you hitting me forced me to look inside. And you and Kyle were right; Dad probably would hate what I became...”
She shook her head grimly. “I realized that I had to make up for what I did, and that included helping Amy when it looks like she’s in trouble,” she continued, “So if you guys can forgive me and if you want to take me back, I want to help you help her,” she looked up pleadingly at them, “I’m really, really sorry for everything, I swear.”
“Laurie,” Monica walked forward and put a hand on her shoulder, “It’s all right. We forgive you. Don’t we?” she looked a the other Sidekicks, who slowly nodded with varying degrees of certainty. “Come on guys, God says to forgive, especially those who plead sincerely for it and mean it. And Laurie means it,” she stressed to the more hesitant ones.
“Thank you,” Laurie breathed a sigh of relief, “Tell me what I can do for Amy.”
“Well first,” Beth started towards the door and waved for Andrea to follow her, “We’re going to get key information...”
“Now we’d better get answers, buster,” she demanded to Lou some fifteen minutes later, glaring down at him as he now sat taped to the chair behind the hotel’s front desk, “And if we don’t get them, well, I don’t know if I can hold Andrea back,” she glanced at Andrea, who was pointing her rifle at Lou’s face.
“Look, you kids are taking this too far!” Lou protested, “I’m not...!”
“I said we’d better get answers!” Beth grabbed him by the collar, “Where exactly is Amy, and what do we have to go through to get to her!?”
“Listen, just forget about your friend; she’s as good as dead! I’m not into killing kids, believe me...!”
“But you were ready to do it to us!” Patrick yelled, leaning right in his face, “Now you heard us: how do we get to Amy!?”
Andrea pressed the rifle square into Lou’s face for emphasis. “OK, OK! She’s tied up in a cabin up on Sharp Mountain ten miles to the north of here,” he gestured forward with his head, “She’s locked in the basement, and your friend Dylan has a live streaming camera trained on her so both Nevin and his gang and the general public can keep an eye on her at all times...!”
“Who’s this Nevin, and what’s his connection to Dylan!? And what’s their plans for Amy!?” Craig demanded.
“He’s the kid’s uncle; he’s taken him under his wing for his robberies. The kid Dylan wanted your girl for himself; said he felt he deserved someone as pretty as her, and Nevin agreed she’d make a great hostage...”
“He’s going to sexually assault her, I just know it...” Craig’s face contorted in fear for Amy’s safety, “That filthy coward; you never treat a girl like that! I’m going to tear him apart when I...!”
“Craig, calm down, we have to stay calm here,” Beth advised her brother firmly. “What are their defenses!?” she demanded to Lou.
“You kids can’t seriously be thinking of trying to be heroes here!? Look, I understand how you’re feeling, but you have to let her go; she’s as good as dead. They’re going to kill her before they escape; you’ll never get to her in time, especially in a blizzard like this. It’s not worth your..”
“Yes it is! Because Amy means a lot to us...she means a lot to me!” Monica cried at him loudly, “Maybe you don’t understand friendship, with you and your gang lusting after money and all, but Amy is...she’s such a sweet girl, exactly the type of person I like being around. It may have just been a few days that I’ve known her, but she feels like a sister to me. She was happy spending the weekend here with us, probably happier than she’s been in a long time, and we were happy spending it with her, weren’t we?” she looked around at her friends, who nodded firmly, “We all made the solemn vow that we’d be there for her always, and we will be, and nothing and no one’s going to stop us from helping her!”
“Yeah,” Patrick glared Lou down, “Amy’s one of us, and if you hurt her, you answer to all of us.”
He thrust a fist into Lou face. Lou looked stunned. “You kids really do care for her, don’t you?” he mumbled. “I...I want you to know, I didn’t want to kill or hurt her; I don’t like hurting kids. Nevin, he’s crazy; when he goes off the handle...”
“But again, you were going to kill us!” Craig shouted, “Even if under orders, you were going to!”
“Uh, about that...!”
“Too late now, buddy! We’re going to save Amy-the girl I love-and you can’t stop us!” Craig snarled. He tore a strip of tape off a roll in his hand and slapped it over Lou’s mouth to silence him. “So what now, Beth?” he asked his sister.
“We save Amy, of course, Craig. OK, who’s coming with me to find that cabin?” Beth asked the others. Every hand shot up. “Well sorry guys, but you all can’t go. Someone has to watch him,” she gestured at Lou, “and call the police. Andrea, you have the gun, you should probably keep watch,” she told her, “And Kyle, you and Laurie have the only working phones right now, so we need you to call the police,” she instructed him, “Tell the police where we’re going, and have them come after us as backup if they can. Give them Amy’s description; you remember what she was wearing today, right?”
“I’ve got it: about five-two, long curly blonde hair, blue eyes, wearing large round pink earrings, a pink sweater, blue jeans with a wide black belt, white high top sneakers,” Kyle rambled out Amy’s specifics.
Perfect. OK, the rest of us’ll...”
“I’m going with you guys,” Laurie spoke up firmly. Beth frowned her down. “Laurie, you’re in no condition with a broken leg to go running through the woods...” she started to protest.
“I’m going, Beth Klein, and you can’t stop me,” Laurie declared sharply, “I owe Amy this; I have to make it right with her directly. You understand that?”
Beth opened her mouth, then closed it and nodded. “All right, Laurie, but understand, there’s probably not much you can with this on crutches,” she agreed.
“If I can,” Shawn raised his hand, “I think I might be able to get a lock on Amy’s position if they didn’t destroy her cell phone like this did ours. Let me have yours,” he extended his hand to Laurie, who handed her phone over, “It’ll take me a couple of minutes, but I think I might be able to lock in her location-assuming they didn’t just throw her phone in a snow bank...”
“Give it your best shot, Shawn. OK Sidekicks, let’s go get Amy!” Craig shouted to his friends, who raced into the lounge to grab their coats. He walked over to Laurie, watching the others go. “I’m glad you changed and came back, Laurie,” he commended her, “I didn’t want to think you were all gone.”
“I wasn’t thinking straight for the longest time, Craig; I let my grief and anger get the better of me,” Laurie admitted. “Uh, Craig...” she began haltingly, looking straight into his eyes, “I, uh, don’t know of Amy mentioned it to you after I left but I told her what, uh, what I...what I wanted to say for a while now...um...I...Craig, I...I’ve thought you’re the handsomest boy I’ve known for a while now, and...it hurt when you and Amy seemed to...I really had started to have feelings for you, but...I couldn’t get up the courage to...”
“Laurie, I understand,” Craig put an arm around her, “I appreciate that you have feelings for me. I hope this doesn’t hurt, but you just aren’t the exact type of girl I’d want to date. Amy is; even after just a few days, I really feel like she’s the one. But Laurie, don’t feel bad, because I think there’s a possible happy ending for you regardless. Because you and Shawn aren’t that different,” he pointed at the bespectacled boy in the lounge, “What Amy was trying to tell you before you left was that he’s had a crush on you for a while too. So if you get the chance, maybe you could listen to him tell you how he feels for you directly...”