The Long Interregnum
“We’ve got one of them,” a police officer declared out loud, leading a handcuffed Lou into the Coalport police station.
“You!” Mr. Newberry furiously rushed him with his arms outstretched, “Tell me where my daughter is, you piece of...!”
“Sir, please, calm down,” another officer grabbed him and held him back, “I don’t want to see you in trouble too.”
“Let me rip him apart!” Mr. Newberry continued bellowing at Lou as he was led into the booking area, “You don’t beat up my child and get away with it...!”
“Mr. Newberry, I said relax,” the officer shouted, grabbing hold of his nightstick. Amy’s father took deep breaths. “Sorry, sorry, it’s just...I feel like...I’m sorry,” he mumbled, walking back over to a chair and sitting down. “You all right, Scott?” his wife put a hand on his shoulder.
“I, I think so, Kelly,” he continued his deep breathing, “I just...knowing what Amy’s been put through, I just want them to feel the same...”
“I do too, Scott, I want to rip his head clean off. But what would Amy think of us if we did?” Mrs. Newberry posed to him. Her husband nodded softly, understanding her point.
“Are you Amy’s parents?” came Andrea’s voice. She and Kyle were approaching them. “Yes we are,” Mrs. Newberry told them, “Were you with Amy earlier?”
“We were. I’m Andrea, and this is Kyle. Sorry to say, though, we didn’t hit it off as well with Amy as we could have,” Andrea hung her head in shame, “Maybe if we had...”
“Andrea, you know this would probably have happened either way,” Kyle tried to comfort her. “I want you both to know, the rest of the kids in our group Amy was spending the weekend with’s going out to find her. If they do, they’ll try and bring her back safely.”
“Well we appreciate it, Kyle. Hopefully they can manage it with it still snowing this bad,” Mr. Newberry shot an eye towards the window, where snow was still pouring down hard outside. “So I know, was Amy enjoying herself before... this?” he choked up.
“She was. Almost everyone else in the group went well out of their way to be friendly with her and make her feel welcome,” Kyle told him, “Amy seemed happy for the most part, playing soccer with them and everything. I don’t know why it had to be her suffering this when she was so happy...”
He hung his own head. “OK kids, we’re ready to take your statements now,” another officer approached. Kyle and Andrea bustled off after him. Both Newberrys exhaled loudly. “Bless the rest of them for trying to help her,” Mrs. Newberry spoke both their minds, “I hope they can get to her in time without getting in trouble themselves.”
“Let’s hope so. Amy lucked out to get some friends who’re that loyal to her,” a brief smile crossed Mr. Newberry’s face. “And I hope they hurry,” his frown returned, “I just have a feeling Amy’s running out of time now...”
He shivered, then glanced towards the one way window into the interrogation room. “Let’s see what if anything this guy can say,” he told his wife, bustling towards the window. Mrs. Newberry followed him, the two of them glancing inside at several officers surrounding the handcuffed Lou at the table in the middle of the room. “...more you tell us, Lou, the easier we’ll go on you in court,” the lead detective was telling him, “So if you will, who did you work with on the robbery, and where’s the Newberry girl?”
“OK officer, I give up,” Lou shook his head softly, defeated, “Nevin Collins was the leader; he brought in his girlfriend Vera Black, his nephew Dylan Wilson, and Fred Phills from Slate County to do the job.”
“His nephew?” one of the officers looked up in surprise.
“Yeah; the kid’s pulled three jobs with him over the last two months in the Tri-County area. He’s been taking him on as an apprentice of sorts; he’s more of a real father to him than his drunken louse of a father...”
“Why did you sign up for the job?” the lead detective interrupted.
“Nevin promised a huge payday, and it was in the end-but for the record, he and Fred pulled the triggers on the dead people, not me!” Lou insinuated firmly.
“We’ll check on that, Lou. So why did they take Amy Newberry?”
“Dylan convinced his uncle they could use a hostage after a job that big; I think he just got horny for her and wanted to have his way with her,” Lou said, making Amy’s parents shudder in horror outside, “So we grabbed her and took her away. Nevin left me to guard her friends,” he lowered his head, “He told me to kill her friends. And I almost did. But now I feel like a real rat, putting kids in trouble like that. I didn’t sign up for that...”
“Million dollar question, Lou: where’s Amy now?” the lead detective pressed.
“If I tell you, will you keep it a secret that I told you? Nevin’s a nutjob; he’d send everyone he knows after me.”
“That depends if what you’d tell us checks out, Lou.”
“OK, the Newberry girl’s being held prisoner in a cabin up on Sharp Mountain. But you’ll never get there in this storm; there’s got to be ten feet of snow there now.”
“We do what we can for crime victims. Where are they going after they’re done?”
“I don’t know; Nevin only said he was going to take me to the cabin, not where they were going later. Listen, officer, I, I would be willing to testify against them-the Newberry girl’s friends, they’re going up there to try and find her in time...that kind of loyalty made me look inside and realize the pain I caused and the rest of Nevin’s little gang caused her and them by snatching her up. I feel terrible to have put her and them in a mess like this...”
“OK Lou, we’ll keep that in mind. Book him,” the lead detective told an underling, who helped Lou up and carried him out of the room. “OK, what’s the weather looking like now?” he asked another officer.
“Still blizzard warnings through at least midday tomorrow,” the cop shook his head, “There’s no way we’d be able to get up there in this mess, and the Newberry girl’s time could be running short...”
“I know. But let’s try and do something...” the leader detective said, exasperated. Behind the glass, Mr. Newberry was nodding firmly. “That should go for us too, Kelly,” he turned to his wife, “Go get your coat; we’ll try and find Sharp Mountain, and see if we can get to Amy ourselves.”
“Right,” Mrs. Newberry had been on the same page as him. She snatched up her coat and slipped it on without hesitation, “With us plus her friends, maybe she can be rescued real quick.”
“Come on, come on!” Craig shouted, turning his car’s steering wheel in every direction and pumping the accelerator hard. The car’s tires spun, but it did not move at all. “Great, we’re stuck!” he muttered in disgust, switching off the engine.
“So where are we?” Judy glanced worriedly around the thick woods surrounding the stretch of Mountain View Road they were now stuck on.
“We’ve got to at least be closer to Amy now. How’s it coming, Shawn?” Craig spun around to his friend, who was playing around with Laurie’s phone with increasing agitation.
“I thought I had this down pat; why isn’t this working!?” Shawn growled in frustration, “I should have the signal of her cell phone by now!”
“You said you knew how to do it, Shawn!” Patrick snapped.
“I thought I did, Patrick; don’t shout at me!” the blonde-haired boy snapped back. With an aggravated groan, he tossed the phone to the floor. “I’m sorry, Amy, I let you down,” he mumbled miserably, lowering his head, “So much for being so bright...”
“Shawn, you did your best,” a look of concern swept over Laurie’s face. She put a sympathetic hand on his shoulder, “You’re expecting too much of yourself. Here’s let me have a try,” she gestured for him to give her the phone, “I’ve played around with my phone like this before; maybe there’s just one or two things we’re overlooking...”
She started fiddling with it. The others glanced around at the blinding bursts of snow zooming horizontally around the car, severely limiting visibility. “Not to sound like a downer, guys, but we may have just gone from the frying pan to the fire,” Judy spoke up again, gulping nervously, “It’s one thing to be locked in a closet in a place where some people know we are; now we’re stranded in the middle of nowhere, and no one’ll have clue where we are. It’s at least five or six miles back to the hotel now, there’s probably not a house for miles around here, and we have no idea how to get to Amy. We just might have sealed our fate...”
She lowered her own head. ’We have food and blankets, Judy, so we’ll be fine for a while,” Beth pointed out, holding up a blanket.
“But for how long!?” the girls’ goalie lamented fearfully, “Who knows how long we can survive if this blizzard keeps on going!? Why did all of this have to happen to us and Amy for...!?”
“Judy, what I said earlier’s still right,” Patrick took her hands, “We will get through this. And we will get Amy out safely. I promise.”
“I don’t know if I can believe much longer, Patrick,” she shook her head miserably, “Not without knowing that we can...”
“I’ve got it, I’ve got it!” Laurie exclaimed in delight. She held up the phone for everyone to see, “It looks like Amy’s about...three miles through the woods that way,” she gestured at the blue line on the phone connecting their location to where Amy’s phone was at the moment, then pointed to the northwest up a hill to their left.
“That’s assuming they didn’t just throw her phone away in the woods when they took her to where they have her locked up now,” Judy still looked uncertain.
“Well it’s as good a lead as any. Get the food and blankets, guys, and let’s get cracking,” Craig opened the driver’s side door, having to push hard against the rising snow blocking the lower edge of it. He, though, frowned as well, as he stared up the hill. “What do you think, sis?” he asked Beth as she came alongside him.
“It’s not going to be easy, Craig,” Beth was worried too, “This’ll be a steep climb through a foot of snow up Sharp Mountain in very limited visibility, and it’s probably going to be dark before we reach wherever Amy is. And I have no idea how we’ll be able to mark the way back to the car. We might find Amy in time, but I don’t know how we get out of the woods with her alive, I really don’t. Maybe Judy was right, and we’re on a suicide mission.”
“I’m worried too, Beth. But we have to risk it, for Amy,” a determined look crossed Craig’s face.
“And keep praying, Beth. God does help those on noble quests,” Monica assured her, having listened in to the twins’ conversation from behind them. “Let’s roll, Sidekicks,” she told the rest of the group, then gestured to Laurie for the phone and started climbing up the hill. The others fell in behind her, Laurie going more slowly on her crutches in the rear. “You’re sure you’re going to be all right going through the woods like that, Laurie?” a worried Shawn asked her, slowing up to go alongside her.
“I owe it to Amy, Shawn, I have to make it up to her for being so mean with her earlier,” Laurie said, also determined.
“Well I’d hate it if anything bad were to happen, and you couldn’t get away in time, Laurie...but I would stay and try and help...”
“Shawn,” she turned to him, “Amy told me you had a crush on me. Is that true?”
“Well,” Shawn gulped nervously, “Uh, um, well...yeah, kind of, Laurie. You, you are pretty, and...really, really pretty. I, uh, had hoped to tell you for a while, but I didn’t have the nerve...”
“Well, that’s interesting. I felt the same way about Craig, but didn’t have the courage to tell him either,” Laurie shot a glance at the former boy of her dreams, stumbling through thick snow near the front of the line ahead of them, “Who knows, maybe it was meant to be that I wouldn’t have him-I was angry before, but maybe...” she turned to Shawn, “What else do you like about me, Shawn?”
“Well,” Shawn took a deep breath, “A lot of things, Laurie...”
Amy let out a soft moan as she woke back up. She felt completely frozen to the bone, the cold having taken over every square inch of her body. She was in serious danger of freezing to death now, she knew.
She started lurching forward-but stopped in terror at the twang of wires going taught, and felt the outlines of the gun barrels taped to her head. Fortunately, the guns did not go off, but that was little comfort to Amy, who knew she had to move to stay alive now. But moving meant the guns would fire and kill her horrifically. But then again, she couldn’t move anyway: she was now bound to the chair with what felt like miles of rope, so much that she felt like she was trapped in a cocoon, And though she weakly squirmed around, there was so much rope bound around her body now that she could not move a single muscle even slightly no matter how hard she tried. She was now utterly and completely helpless.
She slowly leaned her head back against the chair, heavily depressed. Her arms and legs were now numb from both the cold and the ropes cutting off her circulation, the cold hurt the rest of her bodily brutally, the gag was hurting her mouth, pulling harder than ever at its corners, the blindfold was hurting her head, squeezing it hard, the gun barrels hurt her temples, pressing hard against them-the sheer amount of pain Amy was feeling was horrific. On top of which, her stomach was now hurting as well from her not having eaten in what she knew was well over twenty-four hours, plus her bladder was now at critical mass from not having gone the bathroom in over a day and would likely give way any moment now. Amy would have given anything to end the pain, even...
“Why me?” she thought miserably, fighting to keep from crying, “Why did this have to happen to me!? Why couldn’t this have happened to some angry, drug-addled jerk girl who breaks the law and fights with everyone she knows!? She’d at least deserve this. What did I ever do to deserve this!? Not an ordinary sixteen year old like me who was just having fun with her friends...!”
She let out a growl. “Why, God!? Why did you abandon me to this!?” she thought furiously, “I gave myself to your teachings over the years, and I end up like this despite that! Why are you letting me go through this!? Why do I deserve this!?”
She waited a moment, as if expecting an answer from on high, but none came. With a soft, sad, sigh, she twisted her head softly to the left, stopping when she felt the wire of the gun taped to her right temple go taut. “I believed in you so much, God. I don’t know if I can believe now,” she mused in her head sadly, “But if you are real, and there is a Heaven, take me there as painlessly as you can. I don’t want to suffer like this much longer, now that I know I can’t get out of this, and no one’s coming to save me...”
She became aware of Nevin’s voice coming inside upstairs. “...probably not more than another hour. Right, see you there, Gil. OK gang, Gil’s ready,” he announced, presumably to everyone else, “He’ll be waiting for us in an hour by the railroad bridge over Route 45; he gave me directions there from here. He’ll hide us out in one of his safe houses for a week until we can get disguises and passports to leave the country. So finish packing up; we’re moving out soon.”
“And the girl?” Fred asked, making Amy raise her head in anticipation.
“We have close to twenty hours of footage of her struggling down there; we’ll take the feed down for a moment, then loop it to run continuously so the cops think she’s still alive. By the time they do find her body out in these woods, we’ll be long gone from here.”
“Just so I get to enjoy her like you promised, Uncle Nevin,” Dylan spoke up eagerly, making Amy feeling like throwing up to know what he likely had in mind.
“Finish packing up, Dyl, then make it quick with her; even with this blizzard giving us cover, I want to be out of here quick,” Nevin advised him. The conversation continued, but Amy lost interest. She slumped her head backwards again and started crying hard, unable to hold the tears, or her terror and pain, back any longer. “If they’re going to kill me, Lord, and there’s no way out, at least spare me what they have planned for me,” she prayed to the Almighty, “Let me die quickly and painlessly, without the dishonor and gruesomeness they have in mind for me. Please at least give your servant that. In the name of your son, Jesus Christ our Lord, amen...”