Roy pulled his phone from his pocket to call Sargent Williams when the phone rang in his hand.
“Dan, hey. I was just about to call you. Did you get your warrant?”
“Ah, not yet. But I’ve just received reports of gun shots fired in the vicinity of the New Moon,” said the officer to the investigator.
“Oh no,” Roy said softly, looking across the room at his assistant sitting on the bed with her arms around Minsang, who was crying softly into her hands. “Minsang told us that Magera and Benji went off on some cockamamie rescue mission there. I hope they haven’t stirred up a hornet’s nest.”
“God, I hope so too. I’m on my way there now, I’ll let you know. Unless you’d care to meet me?”
“Hell yeah,” Roy said, catching the excitement in the other’s voice. “I’ll be on my way in just a moment. I’ve got other things to tell you though. Can you stay on the phone, while we drive?”
“Sure,” the Sargent agreed.
“Let me just tell Helen I’m going.”
“I heard,” she replied, meeting Roy’s eyes with a worried look that made his heart skip a beat. Was she bothered about being left alone with an emotional, overwrought young girl, or was it possible she cared for his safety and wellbeing?
“Just be careful, okay?” she said softly, her gaze warm and tender. “I’ll stay here with Minsang.”
“Alright. Lock the door and call the police if you hear anything suspicious.”
She nodded, and he turned to go when Minsang lifted her tear streaked face.
“The Boss Man won’t have his ceremony tonight,” she said, defiant glee written in her posture.
“Not if I can help it,” Roy agreed.
Night was falling and fog was rolling in. As Roy crossed the street to his car, he told the Sargent how he’d chased Shiva Patel from the apartment. “She’s pretty shook up, poor girl. I’d hate to think what would have happened if we hadn’t arrived when we did.”
Williams whistled. “So, he is involved in all this, like we thought. But how in hell did he know where to find her?”
“Apparently he told her there’re tracking devices in the old lady’s car, as well as Cho’s backpack that she brought upstairs.”
“He told her that?” asked Sargent Williams as Roy started his car. “That’s damned cocky, if you ask me. Note to self, Dan, don’t forget to impound the car, and collect the backpack as evidence. What else have you learned from her, anything about her ordeal?”
“I don’t know. It’s hard to piece together what she’s told us. Most of it didn’t make sense,” Roy answered, pulling into traffic, and adjusting his rear-view mirror.
“She talked about being on a stage, of playing a role in a play.”
He thought back to her specific words. “Something about a queen and the hunter, and a tea serving ceremony. She said she wasn’t supposed to eat the cake, but she did anyway, and I gather she was drugged. The only thing that made any sense at all was her reference to a poultry auction and she the prize duckling.”
“An auction? Huh. If that’s the case, wouldn’t she have been claimed by the highest bidder and taken away?”
“You would think that, yes. Especially when I tell you who the highest bidder was,” Roy said, turning down a side street a block away from the New Moon and directly behind the Sargent’s car. “It was Shiva Patel.”
Williams whistled at this revelation, and then he pulled into the parking lot. A moment of silence fell, and Roy pulled in behind him.
“What the hell,” Williams exclaimed, “it looks like we got a riot on our hands!”
“Tom, what’s going on out there?” Richard yelled into his cell phone as the truck careened around a corner at high speed, causing Magera to crash into his side.
Magera’s breath caught in her chest, seeing Richard break into a sweat, his face gone ashen in what must be excruciating pain. Blood soaked his shirt from the wound in his shoulder.
The truck made another wild turn in the opposite direction, throwing Magera into Benji, who pressed himself against the back of the truck, SuSu held securely between his legs.
Something loud thwacked into the truck; and a small hole appeared in the rear door. Most of the girls screamed, huddled together against the side wall.
“The bastard’s shooting at us,” came Tom’s incredulous response over the speakerphone, “he chased us out of the parking lot, and now he’s shooting at us. Hold on,” Tom shouted.
The truck lurched into a lower gear, then pitched left.
Magera’s stomach churned, her body tensed. She hated this feeling of being out of control. With no windows in the truck, every turn was unpredictable and unexpected.
“Get us to the police station,” Richard yelled, “It’s a straight shot up Powell to Vallejo.”
“That’s where I’m going, damn it. But if we get stalled at a traffic light, it’ll be too easy for him to catch us.”
Inside the truck Magera could hear sirens approaching. Hope surged; police were on their way. But the pitch and progression of the sirens told her these did not come from a police car, but a fire truck instead, and her heart sank.
Another explosion rocked the truck and it pitched sideways.
Magera screamed as the truck swayed and tottered, as Tom fought to hold the vehicle upright. The rig teetered, balancing on two wheels as it turned a corner. Magera was lifted off the floor, thrown into the air as the truck tipped onto its side. She rolled and bounced; her screams drowned out by metallic screeching as momentum carried the truck another twenty feet before it came to a grinding halt.
She barely registered the sound of impacting vehicles nearby, of screeching tires followed by the crunch and clatter of solid objects colliding into one another.
Finally, there came an eerie stillness, pierced by the oncoming sound of approaching sirens.
It was dark inside the truck. Magera couldn’t see. She lay, stunned and disoriented, her mind numb from shock and distress. She tried to sit up, but the world around her kept spinning and she thought she might throw up.
She could hear the moans and sobs of her companions, who would have been thrown about the truck as haphazardly and violently as she had. She lay still, assessing her body, feeling the aches and pains that would later become bruises. Thankfully, she detected no breaks or sprains.
The rear door slid open and Magera made out Tom’s form silhouetted in the doorway. Beyond him she could see the black Mercedes, plowed headfirst into the side of a building, smoke billowing from shattered windows.
Tom activated the flashlight on his phone and scanned it around.
In the semi darkness and the smoky haze, she saw Benji sprawled beside her, dazed, but alive.
Richard was facing her, wedged into the corner. His wound seemed to be bleeding worse now. He was close enough that she could touch him with her fingertips. He didn’t stir, but his skin was warm, and she could tell he was alive.
SuSu was out cold with a gash on her head.
Daria, the youngest of the girls, seemed also to be the most resilient; she moved about the truck checking on the other girls. Most were dazed but uninjured, several were bashed and battered quite severely. But for three others, their struggle through life had ended that day.
Self-recrimination reverberated in her brain, like the echoes of the explosion that had just rocked the night. Sirens blared in the distance, but Magera barely registered the sound. All she could hear were her thoughts, telling herself that she was to blame for this, that it was all her fault.
- : Contemporary Fiction, Thriller