Some more of God's beauty...
Chapter Sixteen ~
Jude rushed to the front of the blockade as Pete Wilson opened the front door and threw Jackson Masters out on the porch like a sack of potatoes. He was thrown with such force he rolled down the steps and onto the colored stepping stones that lay beneath.
Paramedics rushed over with a gurney and picked him up and loaded him onto the gurney and rushed to the waiting ambulance.
Jude felt partially responsible. He should never have agreed to this plan. The whole game had changed now. He couldn't risk sending Swat in. The madman might actually kill Amy Petersen. He held up a hand to stop the FBI agents who’d rushed toward the door as the kidnapper retreated. He wouldn't have another shooting on his conscious tonight.
Jude prayed for Jackson, and Amy, too. He needed a few minutes to pray for wisdom and knowledge in this crisis. He also needed to pray for calm so he didn't go crazy, or worse, retaliate in anger and frustration. Whatever he did now would have an effect on the innocent woman inside.
One of the local cops walked up and asked, "What's the plan, big man? Are we gonna storm the place and take the woman away from him, or what?"
"Young man, never be so flippant about another's life. It's our responsibility to make sure she gets out of this alive and unscathed. We can't do that if we just go in there all gung-ho without thinking through every possible scenario."
The young man looked dully chastened, shot him a dirty look, and walked away with his head held at a high angle.
"'Pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.'" Jude whispered before he turned and walked to the mobile trailer.
He pulled his radio off his side and pushed the side button, "Two-two-niner, what's your status? Come back."
"Two-two-niner in, we're on the way to the hospital. It doesn’t look good, sir. Subject is critical. I repeat, subject is critical, out."
"Fifteen minute status checks two-two-niner." Jude said and replaced the radio on his side.
Jude walked up to the barricade and pulled an old lawn chair to a sitting position. He flopped down and rested his head in his hands, trying to decide what to do next. Only God knew what was going on in that house. He had to save this woman, that's all there was to it.
Peter came back into the office and grabbed the chair Amy was in and slammed it up on all four legs. He jerked the towel off and grabbed a handful of hair. He yanked it so hard she thought she almost knew what it felt like to be scalped. She felt her hair rip, and a long moan of torment erupted from behind the tape. The men outside heard her torturous scream and many of them ran to the barricade to see what was going on.
"My man is on the way to get that little brat of Jackson's. She probably only weighs about ten pounds or so, but I bet she'd make a big splat if I threw her up against a brick wall." Peter snarled crazily. "Now...where...is...my...file." He yanked the duct tape from her lips, pulling skin and blood with it. Amy let out another involuntary scream of torment as she felt the blood pouring from her battered lips. His breath was rancid, and little droplets of spittle spattered her face. She cowered as far back as she could and prayed out loud, "Dear Heavenly Father, help me through this situation."
She gave him a long, pointed look, and then said, "Come closer so I can tell you what you want to know."
Peter got up close and she moved her head quickly, biting down on his nose as hard as she could before head-butting him with all the force she had in her small body. He screamed in pure torment and rage, and Amy yelled as loudly as she could, "Someone help me!"
Pete hit the floor with a thud, out cold. Amy heard boot steps stomping up the wooden staircase and hope swelled in her. Before she even saw anyone she started talking, "Someone call the hospital, Pete sent someone to get Teenie. Oh, please don't let them get her, she's just a baby." She sobbed loudly as the first person came through the door. It was a tall, giant of a man Amy didn't know, but she was comforted by the FBI jacket he was wearing. He was rushing toward her when Amy heard the loud popping of gunfire. The big man turned around just in time to see Pete Wilson's body fly backward and hit the floor in a dead heap, a bullet hole gaping in his wide forehead. The FBI agent turned the other way and saw Amos the hostage negotiator replacing his gun in its holster.
"Thanks for looking out for me." Jude told him as he leaned over and gently pulled Amy up by her bound wrists. The movement was too much for her, and she threw-up all over his nice, black leather shoes, then promptly passed out colder than a dead turkey.
"Is she okay?" Amos asked as he rushed forward to help Jude keep her upright.
"I don't know, I think she just passed-out. She's been through a lot." He swung her slight body up into his big arms and carried her out the door, down the steps, and outside into a waiting ambulance. The paramedics left with her within minutes.
Jude walked around the barricade and into the mobile trailer. He grabbed a hot cup of coffee and chugged it down in one long swallow, wiped his mouth on his sleeve, and then headed out the door to his car. He didn't say another word to anyone there, just got in his car and left. He made it to the hospital in less than ten minutes. They were just wheeling Amy Petersen through the emergency room doors. Jude jumped out of the car and trotted up to the gurney. "Hey, you're awake. I wanted to let you know the kids are in protective custody; don't worry about them for a second, and Jackson's in surgery.”
Amy reached out and touched his arm lightly in appreciation. "Thank you so much. I don't know how I can ever repay you. I'm sorry about throwing up on your nice shoes." They must have given her a sedative because her words were slurred, and her eyelids heavy.
"Just concentrate on getting better." Jude gave her hand a reassuring squeeze. He left her and headed to the front of the hospital because it was closer to the ICU. His phone rang just before he stepped into the elevator. He groaned, but had to answer it when he saw it was the paramedic who'd ridden to the hospital with Jackson Masters.
"Jackson just got out of surgery. He came through it, and that's a good sign. He's critical but stable."
"Thank you Hank, I appreciate you keeping me up-to-date on his status."
He rode the elevator to Jack’s floor and went into his room. He felt almost fearful, and it scared him. He wasn't used to caring about people he didn't know that well, but for some reason he felt a connection to Jackson Masters. Maybe it was because they were a lot alike, but he didn't want the man to die. He sat down in the chair beside his hospital bed and began to pray out loud, "Dear Father, please be with Jackson and heal him if it's your will, in Jesus name I pray, amen."
The monitor hooked up to Jackson immediately picked up the sound of a quickened heartbeat, but slowed down just as quickly. Jude didn't know if he'd imagined it, or not.
A nurse came in and asked, "Are you immediate family, sir?” "No, I'm a special agent with the FBI. He flipped his badge out and back in so fast she couldn't have had time to see it, let alone read what it said.
"Okay, but don't stay too long. He probably won't wake up for another thirty minutes or so."
"Thank you ma'am, I appreciate the consideration." Jude tipped his dark blue baseball cap at her with a charming smile.
She left the room, and Jude decided to run down to the emergency room and see how Amy was doing.
Before he got through the last door, he knew something was up. He could hear people screaming, and several young nurses just about ran him over as he opened the last swinging door. His hand flew to his hip automatically. His gun was in the car. He'd removed it before coming in. He wasn't on duty and he didn't carry when he wasn't. He rushed toward the commotion, anyway. He had a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach as he rounded the corner and saw one of the biggest men he'd ever laid eyes on holding Amy Petersen up against his chest with a knife against her throat. She was still groggy, but the terror in her eyes was plain to see. She begged and pleaded with those same eyes for him to do something, but he didn't know what. He decided to try stalling the giant.
"What're you doing with that patient, man?" He was trying to sound calm, but failing miserably.
"Just stay back buddy. I mean it. I'll slit this woman's throat so fast she won't have time to pray." The giant warned menacingly.
Jude believed every word he said. He held his hands up in a placating manner. "I'm not here to stop you man, I just wanna know what you intend to do with her."
"I'm taking her back to that mansion so she can get my boss's property, but you already knew that, didn't you feebie?" His grin was sickeningly evil.
Jude knew his cover was blown. Even the baseball cap couldn't hide his identity. The big man must’ve been somewhere close to the house and spotted him while he was there. "You know Peter's dead, right?"
"Do ya think I'm stupid? I know he's dead and he ain't my boss." He pulled the knife closer to Amy's throat. She was trying to stay quiet, but a sob of terror escaped, and the giant man dug the knife in just enough to break the skin. Blood slid down the knife and onto the front of her blouse. She whimpered in fear, but didn't sob out like she had before.
"Okay, okay." Jude held his arms out. You don't have to do that. "Amy, can you hear me?" He knew she could, but he wanted to make sure she could understand what he was about to tell her.
She was obviously afraid to move, so she didn't shake her head. "Yes, I can hear you." She sounded pathetic and forlorn.
"Get the man what he wants. We'll be right behind you, okay?"
Her eyes widened in shock. "You mean you're going to let him take me?" Tears pooled down her cheeks like twin waterfalls, and Jude found himself tearing-up, too.
"We have to Amy. He has a knife, and I don't have a gun. I hope you understand there are others in the hospital we have to consider, too."
"You've got to be kidding me." She said in disbelief. "I'm glad I'm not someone you're 'considering' right now." The big man began to walk backward until his back hit the swinging door. He pushed it open and swung Amy around in front of him, and then hurried out the exit.
Jude raced after him as fast as he could go, talking on his phone at the same time. He hated what had to take place, but it was the only way it could've gone down. By the time he got on the road there was a convoy of police cars headed to Jackson's estate.
Amy was terrified. The big man had zip-tied her and had her lying over his lap as he drove crazily toward Jackson's mansion. "I don't know what you people want. I really don't have any idea. Why won't you believe me?" She kicked her feet and tried to bite his leg.
He clubbed her in the side of the head with one beefy paw and continued silently toward his destination.
Amy knew by now it was a thumb drive they were after, she just didn't know where it was. Maybe it was in the safe, and maybe it wasn't. But she knew this big oaf was going to kill her as soon as he had what he wanted, and that thought terrified her beyond reason.
His phone rang and he pulled it out of his shirt pocket. "What do you want, Ernie?"
The other person must have said something because the oaf replied, "The boss said to kill her as soon as I get the drive. You can bury her though, I hate that part.”
"I don't care what you don't like, I'm your superior, and that's how it's gonna be." Oaf shouted into the phone and hung up while the other guy was still yelling something. He threw the phone up on the dashboard and clubbed Amy in the side of the head again for no good reason.
The slam to her head made her woozier than before, and she fought waves of nausea, desperately swallowing and gagging. "I'm gonna throw-up."
"I ain't falling for that old trick." He rewarded her warning with another painful swat to the head. She rewarded him by turning her head and yakking all over him.
He screeched in anger and disgust and shoved her so hard she landed head over heels in the passenger side floorboard of the pickup they were in. Her head was ringing, and waves of dizziness washed over her. She fought to stay conscious, but it was a losing battle.
When she came to, she was back in Jackson's office. The big oaf was standing over her with a pitcher of water. The horror that image brought to mind was enough to cause her to jump up and back away from him. "Don't do that."
"Good, you're finally awake. Get your buns over to that safe and get it open before I slit your throat."
"Of course you have to do it before I slit your throat because afterwards you'll be dead." He laughed and shoved her toward the safe. "Get to it missy. I'm tired of all this drama. It's giving me a headache. The main reason I stay away from women, period." He told her in a disgusted tone. "If you hurry up, I'll slit ya real quick, and you won't have time to feel any pain."
Amy was desperately trying to think of something to stall him, but her mind was Jell-O. Cold terror rushed through her body and kept her rooted to the floor.
Oaf rushed up behind her and gave another hearty shove and she landed on the floor face first. "Would you stop it already?" There was anger in her tone, and she knew it was one of the stages of hopelessness, but she was powerless to control it. "You've hit me, pushed me, and cut me, and if you don't stop, I’ll just make you so angry you'll kill me before I open the safe."
Amy was seeing double, and tunnel, and blurry all at the same time. When she stood up, she almost fell over. It was a miracle she was able to stand, let alone move. She walked over to the safe and raised her hand to the keypad, but drew a blank. She couldn’t remember any of the codes. She heard him coming up behind her, and in a panic she began to push buttons. She heard sirens in the distance, and knew the big cop who she'd talked to earlier had arrived. A thought suddenly came to her, and she turned around without thinking. "Shouldn't the cops still be here? Shouldn’t they be looking for forensic stuff, or something?"
"Oh, they're still here, I snuck around them."
"How in the world did you do something like that? Someone would've seen you.”
It finally dawned on; He had someone on the inside. This was turning out like some bad crime drama on television. "You've got someone on the inside, don't you? Someone telling you every move the cops are going to make.”
"Well ain't you just a smart one? It took you long enough to figure it out, but you can stop right there, you'll never find out who it is, especially since you ain't gonna live long enough. Now quit stalling and open that safe."
Amy sighed in resignation and turned to the safe. She pushed in some random buttons, and to her astonishment, it opened up with a loud whoosh. A siren started blaring and the oaf covered his ears in surprised anger, so Amy took her chance and ran like the wind.