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Chapter Six ~
Justy lay on the gurney in the back of the ambulance, her body shaking uncontrollably. They’d given her something to make her sleep, but she was fighting it. Her eyelids drooped, and she popped them open again. I have to stay awake. A feeling of foreboding enveloped her whole body and she was terrified. Dear Lord, please save me from whatever’s about to happen.
The jostling of the ambulance made her body ache, so she concentrated on the pain and discomfort to stay awake. The paramedic sitting beside her tried to make chit-chat when he noticed she was awake, but she couldn’t focus enough to reply. Her lids drooped again, and she stared at his blue baseball-style cap, trying to remain conscious. If I go to sleep, I’m in trouble, she thought.
The ambulance sped down the highway with lights flashing, but no siren. Why do I have this terrible feeling? Wasn’t it bad enough to have my parents killed and then be attacked by a serial killer? What could be worse than that?
“Hey Mike, watch that truck!” The paramedic beside Justy yelled, but it was too late. She heard a loud noise, metal on metal, and then the ambulance began spinning on the slick roadway.
“Jessie, secure the patient!” The ambulance driver screeched as he tried to get the vehicle under control.
“She’s locked down, can you get it straight?”
“I don’t think so, it’s coming back!” Mike hollered, panic in his voice.
“What’s coming back?” Jessie asked, and then a loud noise drowned out anything else he might’ve said. The ambulance began rolling on the road, finally coming to a stop in the parking lot of an abandoned office building.
Justy didn’t know how long she’d been out, but when she woke up, the ambulance driver and the paramedic were still unconscious. The one named Jessie lay overtop of her, blood pouring from a wound on his head. She strained to see the driver from where she lay, still securely tied to the gurney. Thank you God for keeping me tied down.
She saw the dark blue hat of the driver sticking half-in, half-out of the broken windshield and said a quick prayer for him. “Dear Lord, if it’s your will, please save him.”
“He isn’t the only one whose gonna need saving, girl.” A voice said from the direction of the back door. It suddenly opened up and a short, ugly little man jumped up beside her bed. The last thing she remembered was the rancid smell of his breath and a pin prick from the needle he used to sedate her.
Sometime later the sound of tires crunching on ice woke her from her drug-induced stupor. The second thing she was aware of was she wasn’t on the gurney anymore. She was sitting up, her back leaning against something extremely cold. “Where am I?” She asked aloud.
“You’re in a truck heading south.” A female voice replied.
“Who are you? And what’s going on?” Justy tried to stem the hysteria rising up, but she was terrified.
“My name’s Lauren Estepp. I’m Jude’s partner.”
“What are you doing here?” Justy felt anger rise to the surface to replace the terror. How could Jude’s own partner be part of whatever was going on here?
I was in my car on the way back to the station this afternoon when someone purposely side-swiped me. Some short, ugly little man dragged me out, and that’s the last thing I remember until I woke up when they were putting you in here with me.”
“How do you know we’re going south then?” Justy asked suspiciously. She didn’t trust anyone at this point.
“When I first woke up I pretended to be asleep. The man was talking to two different women, maybe three. He said we were going to some Podunk town called Richfield. I’ve never even heard of it.”
“I haven’t either. My head is covered up, is yours?”
“Yes, but I think we’re in some kind of delivery truck, or something like it.”
“What makes you think that?”
“In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s refrigerated.”
“Oh yeah, that must be why my back feels so cold.”
“Yeah, it’s already cold outside. If we’re in her much longer without heat we’ll die.”
Fear rose up and robbed Justy of speech for a moment. When she could speak, she asked the dreaded question; do you think he’s gonna kill us?”
“My bet is yes. Why would he keep us alive?”
“Why are we still alive, then?”
“That’s a good point.”
The truck came to an abrupt stop and Justy crashed all around the floor of the truck. She screamed and screeched, and so did Lauren. The back door opened, and the air that came rushing in was warmer than what was inside, even though it was winter time.
“All right you two, up and at ‘em.”
“What do you want with us?” Justy asked angrily as she felt warm hands grasp her bound wrists.
“That’s for me to know, and you to find out, now get up.” He yanked her by the wrists, which were bound behind her back.
“Ouch, you don’t have to be so rough, I was going.” Justy knew acting this way might anger him, but she was scared, and scared people did stupid things.
“Don’t get sassy, girl, just move it.”
The man propelled her forward for a few steps, and then gave her an unceremonious push. She screamed in terror, and landed in something soft. It felt like she was on a pile of covers, or something. She wiggled and jiggled until she was sitting up. It was warmer in here and it smelled clean, like a Laundromat.
“Where are we?”
“Don’t concern yourself with the details, girl. Just be quiet and we’ll get along fine.” A woman’s voice said.
“Where’s Lauren?” She turned her head from side-to-side, even though she couldn’t see anything.
Justy heard a grunting noise and realized someone had hit her for speaking up. “Stop hitting her, what’s wrong with you?” She felt a slug in the gut and groaned.
“Do I make my point?” The female voice asked.
“Yes.” Both captives said in unison.
“We have one more leg of our journey, so be good and I’ll leave the heat on.” A man’s voice said.
Justy shrunk back. She hadn’t realized the man was there.
“Surely you aren’t afraid of little old me, are you?” Rancid-breath man asked, breathing on her as he spoke. He moved away, and she gulped, taking in fresh air.
“Why are you doing this?” Lauren asked.
“Yeah, why are you keeping us alive?” Justy groaned inwardly at her own words.
“Watch it, girl. I have my reasons, and that’s all you need to know.”
Justy sensed the man standing over her and shuddered involuntarily. “I’m sorry.” She shrunk back, trying to get away.
“You better be.”
She heard his footsteps and breathed a sigh of relief. What was he up to?
She felt another prick; and then nothing.