Chapter Twenty-Four ~
Justy was terrified, but knew she couldn't let that monster have Jude. Ever since Jude had come back into her life, it seemed so full of color and hope, something that had been missing for a long time. Jude was a huge man with a big presence, and he'd definitely left a huge impression on her.
She argued back and forth within herself, not knowing whether to tell Amy. The 'tell Amy' won, and she texted her as she climbed into the navy blue SUV in the garage. It was the one Jackson had assigned her while she stayed with them. She got into the driver's seat and buckled up. Before she could even get the car started, Amy was in the passenger seat beside her. "Wow that was quick," Justy replied in astonishment.
"Yes, I can actually be quick when I need to." She gave a terse smile. "What did he say to you?" Amy looked at her new friend with worry wrinkling her face.
"He said if I wanted to see him again before he cut him up into pieces I better hurry and meet him at the West Jordan Park behind the police station."
"That’s a weird place to meet. Why would he want to meet behind the police station? Isn't he afraid he'll get caught?" This guy must be losing his mind, for sure.
"Yeah, it didn't make sense to me either, but I have to find a way to save Jude," Justy cried as she squealed out of the driveway and headed for the interstate. "Do you think Lauren could help us?"
"That's an awesome idea, she is an FBI agent," Amy returned. She pulled out her phone and made the call. “I’m getting her voicemail… Hey Lauren, this is Amy. Justy got a text message for her to meet the killer at the West Jordan Park behind the police station. He has Jude, Meet us there," Amy finished and hung up.
"Okay, maybe we should call Scott and the rest of the gang. I don't know what I was thinking. I about had a heart attack when that text message came through. We probably need the whole team to make sure we get him back safe and sound."
"Yeah, you're probably right. I guess I was excited too, but we need to call the rest of the team. This isn’t a child we’re dealing with.”
Amy pulled her phone out once more and called her brother Scott. "Hey Scott, this is Amy. Justy got a text message from the killer and he has Jude."
"There's no way, sis. Kenny Wilson is right here. Shepherd and I are transporting him to the local jail," Scott denied.
"No Scott, he sent Justy a text message. He has Jude," Amy said with certainty.
Scott looked behind him, into the backseat of the police cruiser they were transporting Kenny Wilson in. He was still trussed up with his hands behind his back, but he was awake now. He looked up and gave Scott a belligerent look. He had one brown eye, and one blue one. Scott looked over at Shepherd Adams and said, "That isn't Kenny Wilson back there."
The man in the back of the police cruiser laughed maniacally and lay down in the seat. He was trying to pull his hands over his arms, which were tied behind his back. It wouldn't really do him much good because there was a grill between the front and back seat.
"What's your name?" Shepherd asked him.
"I'm Brandon Wilson, and I'm at your service." He smiled and winked.
"You know that's another charge, don't you? Identity theft is a big no-no these days," Shepherd said as he gave Scott a sideways look.
Scott held the phone to his chest. "What Amy doesn't realize is if someone has Jude, they’ve got Jackson, too.”
"You need to tell her son, before they get there and find out first hand," Shepherd warned.
"I know. I'm already on it." He pulled his phone back up to his ear. "Amy, I've got some bad news for you.”
"What bad news? What's wrong Scott?" She was silent for a moment, and then, "Where's Jackson, Scotty?"
Scott waited, trying to figure out how to tell her. She cleared her throat and asked one more time, "Scotty, I asked you where my husband is, now please tell me."
"He's with Jude," He mumbled in a low voice.
"What did you say?"
"I said he's with Jude," Scott repeated, only louder this time.
"I don't even want to know how this is happening, just get to the park now," She demanded.
Scott rolled the window down and put the siren on top of the car before rolling it back up and stepping on the gas. He beat them to the park, with a now silenced siren, by almost five minutes. He'd called the rest of the gang and they'd all managed to get to the park and find positions to lay in wait, as well.
Justy was just pulling into the park when she saw the ambulance enter from the other end. It didn't have a siren on, or lights flashing. It rolled toward her SUV, reminding her of a scene in an ominous gangster-style movie.
The ambulance pulled up right beside her and the passenger side door opened up. A body was pushed out onto the ground, and when Amy saw it was Jackson she screamed in fury and jumped out of the SUV to go to him. She didn't notice the man coming from around the back, but then, she didn't have to. A shot rang out and the man dodged to miss the bullet.
"You missed me, now you gotta kiss me," he sing-songed.
"I'm gonna kiss you alright," Scott retorted as he shot again, this time clipping the maniac in the right leg.
"Ouch, hey, that's not fair, I wasn't ready," He said as blood poured from his leg.
"Too bad for you I was," Scotty said in triumph as he shot again, this time clipping him in the other leg. "Stop or I'll be forced to shoot you somewhere more vital," He called in a firm tone.
The serial killer stopped and looked up, his eyes bright and crazy. He looked as if he’d lost touch with reality. He turned around and went back to the ambulance. Again, he pushed someone out onto the ground. It was one of the EMTs. Amy was tending to Jackson, pushing his dark hair back from his brow in a loving way, totally oblivious to the killer.
When the blond-haired EMT hit the pavement, Lauren Estepp materialized out of nowhere and hurried over to him. She had a gun in one hand while she checked for a pulse with her other.
"Is he okay?" Scott called over to Lauren.
"He's breathing, but he needs an ambulance. I'm going to guess he's been heavily sedated."
The real Kenny Wilson was standing out in the middle of the parking lot, taunting them. He was laughing hilariously at something Shepherd Adams yelled out, so Justy took the only chance she might have to reach Jude. She jumped from the SUV, sidled to the back of the ambulance, and looked inside. Jude was laying half-on, half-off the gurney. His poor arm was twisted and mangled, and his face was white as a ghost. "Psst Jude, can you hear me?"
She darted a look at the killer, but he was being kept occupied by Scott. She crawled up into the ambulance and grabbed hold of Jude and began to drag him out. She didn't know how she was going to get him out because he was huge and heavy, and she was short, small, and weak. She looked around for some help and was amazed when she saw Pastor Isaiah Cobb coming toward her, crouching and crawling a little at a time. He wanted to help her. She was so overjoyed she thanked God, giving Him thanks for helping in her time of need. She didn't give the action a second thought, her mind was on the task at hand.
Isaiah half-stood up when he reached the back of the truck and grabbed Jude. He pulled him down out of the ambulance like a sack of potatoes and carried him ‘fireman-style’ back to his hiding spot by a clump of snow-covered bushes. He laid him on the ground as gently as possible and began to check him over. He'd once taken a CPR course so he kind of knew what he was doing. Justy had followed him and she was worrying over Jude’s face as Lauren re-joined him with the much smaller man over her own shoulder. Now only Jackson was left lying in the parking lot, Amy standing guard over him like a centurion.
"Wow, I never would've thought you'd be able to carry a grown man like that."
"It isn't easy, and it's much harder on me than it looks, pastor. Because I'm a woman I have to make it look as effortless as possible so no one thinks I can't do my job," She admitted with a rare glimpse of vulnerability.
"I think you're Wonder Woman," The out-of-it fireman told her in a voice groggy with drugs.
She laughed. "No, I'm not Wonder Woman; you just aren't yourself right now."
Scotty had advanced on Kenny Wilson, who was just standing there, taunting Scott uselessly. "You can't catch me, so la-di-da." He actually stuck his fingers in his ears and stuck his tongue out at all the people watching from the parking lot.
Scott looked over at Shepherd, "What do you think he's up to? Is it a trick?"
"I'm not sure. He's acting like he's lost touch with reality, and maybe he has, but I would advance with caution," Shepherd said quietly.
"Yeah, I think you're right, and I'm going to proceed with extreme caution. He pulled a small straw-looking tube out of his pocket and shoved a little cloth-wrapped projectile into the end of it. He blew into the end of it and Kenny Wilson toppled over like a wounded bear. He hit the pavement like one, too. There was a loud, sickening thud, and then nothing.
Scott shouted, "Hooray," and ran over to tie the evil man up. "You won't be hurting anybody else."
"Be careful in case he's trying to fake you out," Lauren cried right before Scott bent over and tightened a twist-tie around the unconscious man's wrists. He bent over and put another one on his ankles, and then attached them together with another one.
"This guy isn't getting the chance to get away with another murder," Scott yelled triumphantly. He picked the man up and threw him into the back of his car. He landed right beside his brother, who sat still, not saying a word.
Shepherd walked up to the silent man. "Ambulances normally have two EMTs on board at all times. Where is the other one?"
"I haven't seen anyone else, but we need to find him before..." Scott began. He was interrupted by an ear-splitting scream.
"Scotty, save me," Justy screamed in terror as a man pulled her out in front of the ambulance. She was kicking, screaming, and trying to bite the forearm of the man who had his arms around her torso.
"Let her go right now," Scott said in an authoritative voice. Shepherd had already gone behind the ambulance to come up behind them.
Jude heard Justy’s voice from far, far away, screaming for help. He wanted to reach her, but the world wouldn’t hold still. He maneuvered to a sitting position and moved to put his hands to his spinning head, and screamed in agony. He’d forgotten his arm was broke. He took in several deep breaths and tried to concentrate. He didn't feel right. And then he remembered; He'd been drugged by that psycho serial killer. "Justy, are you okay?" He finally managed to croak out. He tried to get to his feet again, but nausea overcame him once more.
"I'm okay, Jude, stay where you are.” Even in his drugged state he knew she was hiding something. She wasn't okay. A surge of adrenalin went through him and he finally jumped to his feet and rushed out into the open, swaggering drunkenly. When he saw the man holding Justy hostage, he lost it. He rushed forward; not even taking into consideration the man was holding a gun. He gave the best football tackle of his life and the surprised man flew through the air and hit the ground like a ton of bricks.
Jude rushed backward, stumbling a bit on jelly-like legs and grabbed a hold of Justy, who had an astounded look on her face. "Are you okay,” he asked with worry.
"Yes, are you?" She asked as she grabbed his face and did a quick inspection. "You're the one who was drugged, not me. We need to hurry and get you to a hospital. That arm is grotesque and must be excruciating," She wailed. There were tears in her eyes and Jude pulled her to him with his good arm.