Chapter Nineteen ~
When Amy regained consciousness, a new terror filled her. She was face-to-face with the most evil-looking man she'd ever seen. He had black hair and a scar from lip to chin.
"It's about time you came back to the world of the living, lady."
Amy couldn't respond because there was a rag tied over her mouth. Her eyes widened and filled with terror. The enormity of this day was so overwhelming. For a second, she prayed to return to unconsciousness. If she had to die, wouldn’t it be better to do it while not conscious of what was happening?
"Oh no little lady, you ain't passing out again. I need you awake for this next act." He cuffed her on the side of the head. Nausea filled her and she swallowed convulsively to hold back the vomit.
He pulled her around so she could see what was behind her. It was a camera on a tri-pod, facing a wall covered with a plain navy blue blanket. He got up and pulled the chair she was sitting in behind him. The wheels made a screeching noise as they rolled across the natty gray floor.
The man stopped the chair in front of the camera and adjusted the settings. "Make sure you smile pretty for the camera." He spoke some kind of foreign language into the camera and then walked around behind her, grabbed the ponytail that had been yanked so many times today, and began hacking it off with a dull knife. A monitor had been set up behind the camera so Amy could see everything as it happened.
The result of the dull knife was a butcher-style haircut. Her hair was about three inches on one side and six or so on the other. It was hard to tell with all the jagged edges. She didn't say a word, but sat silently watching the monitor as he finished.
After he was done, he left the room and brought in a small utility table on wheels. He cut the zip-tie on her wrists and proceeded to tie one of her arms straight out to the table. He picked up some weird-looking instrument and smiled evilly into the camera as he made chopping motions with it while holding one of Amy's fingers up in the air. Her eyes widened even bigger, if that were possible, when she realized what he was doing. He was going to cut off her finger. She began to struggle, trying to pull her arm away from him, but it was useless. Her arm was tied down, and he was too strong.
One lone tear trailed down Amy's paper-white face as the man walked in front of her and spoke into the camera, "I want what is mine. Give it to me now, or I will start cutting off fingers. When I run out of those, I will cut off her toes. If I still do not have what I want, I will cut off arms and legs. I will end with slitting her throat, Mr. Masters. Trust me, I mean what I say. If you don't give it to me after that," He paused long enough to go out of the room. When he returned, he was carrying a bundle of covers. He opened them up in front of the camera. "Then I will start on this." He turned the camera off with a remote in his hand and carelessly tossed Teenie Masters onto a dirty-looking mattress on the floor in the corner.
Teenie began to scream, and Amy went wild. She pulled her arm so hard it ripped skin as she tried to extricate herself from her tethers. She tried to stand up, but she was tied to the chair, too. She screamed behind the gag in her mouth and tears of anger and frustration fell down her pale face, leaving trails behind as they went.
Evil-man just laughed at her terror and rage and slapped his leg at her uselessness. Finally, Amy felt something give and her arm came up off the table, but somehow it was still attached to a metal tray. She pulled so hard with her body the wooden chair ripped apart, pieces dangling from her wrists and ankles as she charged the evil beast who had threatened Jackson’s baby.
As soon as she reached him she started beating him in the head with the metal tray attached to her arm. It left cuts in his face as she attacked, but she didn't stop.
Teenie lay in a heap on the mattress, screaming her tiny little heart out and the heart-rending sound egged Amy on. Blood had begun to spurt from the terrorist's face, and she finally stopped when he fell to the floor in a heap.
The adrenalin dissipated just as quickly as it had arisen, and Amy fell to her knees for a moment, trying to catch her breath. If Teenie was here, did that mean Benji and Angie were, too?
She ran over and checked the man's pockets for his knife and the zip-ties. She tied him up, one ankle to a wrist and the other the same way, then she zip-tied them all together. For good measure she dragged him over and zip-tied him to an old-fashioned radiator attached to the wall. It was a good thing it wasn't winter time.
"Hold on Teenie, I'm coming baby." She frantically cut her bindings. The gag must’ve fallen out during her attack because she didn't remember removing it.
At the sound of Amy’s voice, Teenie instantly quieted, but a voice coming from the other room caused Amy to pause.
"Mamie! Mamie! Come get us, oh please!" Angie cried pitifully.
Amy grabbed Teenie and ran into the room to rescue her other two babies. They were tied together like animals. Rage rose up in her but she didn't have time to indulge in it. She cut them loose with a pair of rusty scissors sitting on a scarred wooden dresser and scooped them up into her arms, too. She had no idea where the strength was coming from, but she managed to hide and sneak until she was out the back door. She ran to the nearest house.
She beat on the door and screamed, "Please help us! Please help us!"
An old man appeared in the door with a shotgun in his shriveled-up arms. "What's all this noise?"
"Can I use your phone, sir? Please, it's an emergency!" Amy yelled frantically from behind all three bundles of child she held.
"What's wrong?" He went to get his telephone.
As soon as the man brought the phone to her she dialed Jackson’s cell number. As soon as his voice came on the line she looked at the man and asked, "What's the address?"
"Two-two-five West Oak."
She repeated the address and said, “Jackson, come get us, please.” She began to sob, the adrenalin had drained what strength she’d had and she was left weak and trembling.
"Who is with you?"
"The kids are with me, please hurry." The sound of his voice had calmed her somewhat, but she wanted away from here. She hung up the phone and elbowed her way through the old man's house. "I need to hide until he gets here." She opened a pantry door and climbed inside with all three kids.
Jackson looked at Jude. "Let's go get her." He gave the address and they practically flew down the street toward Amy and the children.
Jude sped around the last corner like Mario Andretti and hit the brakes just before they reached a little old gray house with black iron bars on the door. Jackson hopped out before the car stopped and ran up the steps. Before he even reached the door a wrinkled-up old man opened it and barred the way. There was an equally old shotgun lying threateningly across his arms. "Don't take another step closer unless you wanna lose your life."
"You're not serious?" Jackson asked.
"I'm most definitely serious." He returned. "I'll go get the girl, and if you're the one she called, all's well. If not, you won't live long enough to ask another question. Don't take another step." The old man raised an eyebrow and began to pull the gun up as Jackson took a step forward.
It would've been funny if it weren't such a dire situation. Jude had jogged up beside Jackson, and he was laughing, the jerk.
"Well go get her man, hurry up. It's a matter of life and death." Jackson ordered impatiently.
The old man turned and ambled slowly into his house, his old shoulders stooped with age. It was all an act.
"We need him on our team." Jude said in amusement.
"You got that right." Jackson said.
The old man returned, and he had Amy, who was carrying the children in her arms. She pushed Angie, who was the biggest, back up under her right arm and situated Benji up closer to her shoulder on the left side. She’d tied Teenie to her torso with the dirty blanket that had been wrapped around her.
The old man looked at her and asked, "Is he the one you called?"
"Yes he is, thank you so much Otis. I owe you my life, and theirs." She nodded to the children in her aching arms.
"It wasn't anything. Don't go making a big deal about it." The old man blushed cutely. "Give me your phone number and I'll see if I can't get my granddaughter to show me how to send one of those text things to make sure you're okay."
Amy took the cell phone he handed her and quickly added her number before stooping over and giving his old, wrinkled cheek a kiss that caused him to blush brightly. "Go on now, before that man wakes up and finds you."
"I will Otis. Thank you again for giving me shelter. I'll never forget you."
She handed Angie to Jackson and Benji to Jude, and they hurried to the car.
A man sitting in a dark green sedan watched from down the street, recording them with a camcorder. He pulled his phone out and said, "I got them, boss."
Jackson and Jude got into the front seat while Amy and the children got in the back. They were totally oblivious to the man watching them.
Jude pulled smoothly away from the curb, not in any hurry at all. He said, "Do you need to go to the hospital, Amy? If you do, I'll take you, but it'll have to be one out of the city."
"No, I think I'm okay. I'm just happy to be away from that monster. He was so scary. He was going to chop off my fingers.” She shuddered and settled into the back seat, finally able to breathe easy.
"Was he a terrorist?" Jackson spoke for the first time since getting into the car.
"I think he was. He looked like one of those guys that are always doing the videos where they're threatening to cut off someone's head..." She stopped when a horrible thought came to her mind, "Oh my, was he gonna chop off my head?!" She screeched in horror.
"Don’t get excited. There's no way of knowing." Jude ordered.
"You haven't formally introduced yourself to me yet." Amy returned.
"My name's Jude Johnson. I’m pleased to meet you." He put his right hand behind him from the driver's seat.
Amy took it and shook it firmly. "I'm pleased to meet you, too."
"Alright, that's enough with the introductions." Jackson said crossly from the front passenger seat.
Amy looked at him curiously. He was angry. Maybe he was just in pain...it finally dawned on her he was supposed to be in the hospital. "Why aren't you in the hospital? You just got shot. You shouldn't be out here running around."
"If I was, you'd still be sitting with the old man trying to figure out what to do.”
"What's up with you, man? You sound like a bear with a sore paw." Jude observed.
"Just worry about the driving." Jackson returned shortly.
Jude knew what was eating Jack, he just wondered if he did. He was jealous of the attention Amy was getting from his new-found friend.
Jude figured enough was enough. "Where do you want to take her, man?”
"I've got a place in mind.” Jackson said. “How much time do you have?"
"I'm officially off the clock, so I've got until Monday morning."
"Okay, let's fill the car up and head south. I know a place where we can all go and be safe, at least until I think of something better." He grimaced in pain as he finished.
"Give me directions, and then take a painkiller and get some rest while we drive.” Jude ordered.
Jackson didn't argue, just gave him directions, pulled a small envelope out of his front pocket and shook out a tablet, which he swallowed dry.