“Now that I have a better look at you… You’re a lot smaller than I remember.”
“Keep your eyes on the road.”
“You’re like the size of a twelve-year-old. What is this?”
I nudged his shoulder, with enough force to make him briefly lose his grip on the wheel. The car jerked.
“Jesus,” Eddie said, regaining control of the car. “You’re gonna get us killed!”
“I can afford to take that chance. Eyes on the road.”
The car rolled along speedily.
We were driving to East Stephenville, while not the worst part of the city, comparatively speaking, it certainly wasn’t the best, and unless you had some serious, pressing business to attend to, there was no real prerogative to go and simply visit.
But, today, we had a good enough reason.
Eddie – or Eduardo, as he introduced himself as in his email, ‘Eddie’ was probably some kind of nickname Maria had for him, and to think I was referring to him as that the whole time – was at the wheel, taking us to the destination. One of the few bases that El Carruaje had. Like Eduardo had mentioned, they weren’t one of the big name gangs in the city. Far from it. But they were still dangerous. I knew that much.
Benny was the name of the boss. A woman, and putting in Eduardo’s own words, she was ‘someone not to fuck with.’ Despite being the leader of one of the smaller gangs, she was secretive, and hardly met with the people at the bottom. She also kept a crew with her, a select few that she allowed to stay close. The middlemen between her and the rest of the gang. It was a hierarchy that was easy to understand.
The plan was simple, so simple that I felt it wasn’t enough in terms of going up against a drug cartel. Eduardo explained in his email that he was one of the low-ranking members, but he did have something of a lead as to what El Carruaje had planned. A shipment was recently dropped off at an El Carruaje-owned warehouse, and through his own info that he gathered, Eduardo knew that Benny would be sending one from her crew to do a thorough inspection.
Our plan was to simply intercept that process. If there was anyone who knew what Benny’s big plans were, they would be there. We could learn what they were planning, what the shipment was, if it was relevant, and find a way to stop Benny and El Carruaje, if possible.
Maybe dismantle them entirely, but that was a reach.
And I was nothing more than a gun that Eduardo could point and fire. But I was fine with that. They wouldn’t expect a masked individual to sabotage their plans, and if I messed with them enough, they would be more concerned over me than two small-time members quietly leaving the gang.
I was expecting a silent, wordless drive, with perhaps only music filling the air. But the music, an intense instrumental jazz song, was played low, and the soft volume seemed like a disservice to the energy the band was playing with. And Eddie – Eduardo – was more interested in prodding me with questions than letting the music stay between us.
“At the risk of crashing,” Eduardo started, “I want to ask a weird question. Is there more of you?”
“More of me what?”
“More of you with powers.”
“Oh,” I had to give that question some time, largely because I never expected someone to ask me that question. “That’s more a good question than a weird one.”
“What do you mean? You don’t know?”
I thought about that night, the night before my birthday. Whatever that thing actually was, I still wasn’t sure. I hadn’t even thought about that possibility. Could there be more of those things, out there?
More of me, if I thought about it that way.
“I’m not sure.”
“How are you not sure? How did you get your powers, then? Were you born with them?”
“Then, how? The way you were jumped, like, that’s unreal. Were you bitten by, I dunno, a radioactive kangaroo?”
“Wow. Okay, no problem, I’ll back off.”
Eduardo took a right. I kept my eyes to my side window, watching the scenery pass. I wasn’t concerned about someone seeing me in a mask, the window was tinted.
I decided to speak up again, although I was unsure of what to say. “It’s that… I’m not exactly one hundred percent used to this. And I didn’t exactly ask for this, either.”
“I get that,” Eduardo said, matter-of-factly. “From what I’ve seen in movies and shit, no one ever asks to get superpowers.”
Why did I even bother?
I rested against the door, like I was trying to physically distance myself from Eduardo as much as possible.
But Eduardo wanted to blabber on. “I can tell that I’m being annoying.”
Eduardo grumbled, but kept it at that. The music came back to my attention, and I was thankful for the bit of silence that came in.
“What other things can you do?” Eduardo suddenly asked. “Shoot laser out of your eyes? Fly? Create projectile suns?”
“Dammit, I thought we dropped the subject.”
“Hey, you have to be fair to me. I never talked to a person with real, actual superpowers before. That’s some real-ass shit, right there.”
“And stop calling them ‘superpowers.’”
“Isn’t that what they are?”
I complained, “Forget it. All I’m saying is, you wouldn’t want to wake up one day and be blindsided by all of this. It’s not as fun as it looks. I, I don’t even know why I’m telling you this. It’s not worth explaining.”
“That’s good, ‘cause you don’t have to. We’re here. Or as close as I can get.”
I looked ahead. It was between two other, decaying buildings. A warehouse, dirty and dusty. It was made of brick, and only two stories tall, and not even a block wide. Much smaller than I had imagined in my head. The metal door for an entrance was inviting enough, rusted and bent in some places. Torn police tape was stuck to the top left corner and the bottom right corner of the door. A fitting metaphor for this place.
Its very presence oozed sketchiness.
“Are you sure we can get this close?” I asked, “Are you sure no one’s around?”
Eduardo reassured me. “I’m positive no one’s here. That’s kinda the point.”
I wanted to protest further, but I stopped myself. I had to project some image of strength, of power, and casting doubts now would throw a wrench into things. And this was already set in motion. Couldn’t back out now.
I randomly tapped my fingers along my thigh. It was all I could do in order to not fidget, scratch my face, bounce my leg up and down, or do any other nervous ticks.
“Here,” Eduardo said, bringing me back to reality. He moved towards me. I tried backing away further, but the door was stopping me. He raised an eyebrow.
“Relax. Or you can do it yourself.” He backed away, and pointed to the glove compartment. “There are two walkie-talkies in there.”
I reached under the dashboard in front of me, feeling for the handle. I opened the glove compartment, and found the walkie-talkies. I handed Eduardo one, and took one for myself.
“You know how these work?” Eduardo asked, waving the device around.
“I know,” I said, annoyed that he even had to ask. I’ve gone camping before, with friends.
“Cool, then let’s do this thing.”
Don’t need to tell me twice.
I got out of the car, and checked the sky.
It wasn’t that late out, the sun casting an orange hue on the sky, but I was concerned about whether or not I’d make it home on time. Chances are, I probably wouldn’t.
I reached back into the car, and took out my bags. My sports bag was emptied out of all its contents, so I folded it up, and put it into my backpack.
“You can leave that in here, you know,” Eduardo said, “You’re coming back, aren’t you?”
“No way,” I said. “I’ll feel a lot better if I have my stuff with me.”
“I’m not about to snoop through your stuff! You can go put it in the trunk if you want.”
“Thanks but no thanks.”
“Suit yourself. Well, I’m off to my hiding spot” he said. “Buzz me if you need anything, or when you’re done. If you do buzz me, I’ll assume that no one else is around to hear you. And to be safe, I won’t try to communicate with you.”
I saw Eduardo’s hand stick out of the car. He was leaning over to point at the warehouse door. “Side entrances are locked, of course, and there’s no point in trying to open that door. With that said, I don’t think you’ll have trouble getting in. Also, whoever Benny sends to check the shipment shouldn’t be bringing that many people to help. Five guys tops, including themselves. Nothing you can’t handle, I bet.”
Don’t overestimate me.
“Sounds good,” I said.
I patted myself down, checking that I had everything. Backpack, fanny pack, in it my knife and pepper spray, and now the walkie-talkie. I touched the back of my head, feeling the bun I tied my hair into.
Physically, I was ready. Emotionally, or mentally? Not so much.
I was about to go close the door, but I was met with Eduardo’s face. I couldn’t lie, the look on his face startled me. Hard, firm. Good thing I had a mask on.
Eduardo opened with, “I wanted to say, before you go…”
He trailed off, and broke the intensity of his stare.
“What?” I asked, prompting him.
“It’s nothing, I’ve been talking too much.”
“If it’s important, that’s when I don’t mind.”
“It’s not. It can wait.”
Saying that is only going to make this harder. But I didn’t respond. Couldn’t, since whatever more I could say probably wouldn’t be of any help. Also, I was catching myself trying to delay this.
“Then I’m out,” I said, turning.
Eduardo drove off, heading to the predetermined place where he could park and hide his car, while staying close.
I walked around the building, disregarding the rusted metal entrance as a possibility. I found one of the side doors Eduardo mentioned, the handle wrapped in a chain and lock. Maybe I could break it, but that would defeat the purpose of an ambush. I ignored it, and moved on.
The wear and tear of neglect was even worse, upon closer inspection. Brick was weathered, foliage making their way through holes and cracks in the building. Cracks also stretched across the pavement.
Graffiti covered over everything else, so much graffiti that it told a story. I saw the faded markings of another group’s emblem, now obscured by the symbol of El Carruaje. Another gang had claimed this territory before. Did the old group move out? Or did El Carruaje manage to take over?
No distractions. I moved along. I couldn’t afford the mental energy on that, right now. Had to move and get into a good position.
The ruined state of the warehouse fortunately gave way to a few options. More than a few windows were broken in, enough for me to step through, and if I really wanted to, I could always try the roof. Wouldn’t be that difficult to make my way up there.
But, I wasn’t that desperate, so I hauled myself up through a window frame, the glass was all but gone. I hunched over to get through, careful to not cut myself from any small shards.
Gloves. I knew I was forgetting something. Gloves.
I found my way into the warehouse. The interior of the warehouse was essentially one large room, lined with rows of metal racks, forming long, wide aisles, connecting to a main corridor down the center of the building. The racks were only about ten feet high or so, and the ceiling was double that.
I decided to test the walkie-talkie. I pressed the button on the side, and held it down as I spoke.
“Mic check, one-two, one-two, can you hear me? I’m in, over.”
The walkie-talkie buzzed, and Eduardo’s voice came through, fuzzy.
“I can. They should be almost there, if we timed this right. You in a good spot?”
“Get going. Stay out of sight, and for your sake, don’t do anything too reckless.”
“Thanks for caring, over.”
“Welcome. And you don’t have to keep saying ‘over.’”
“Isn’t that what people say?”
“What people? Just get a move on.”
I put it away, and pressed forward.
To find a better vantage point, I scaled up one of the racks beside me. I reached the top, and had to maneuver over wooden boxes as I began my snooping around. I didn’t have much in the way of lighting, the fluorescent lamps attached from the ceiling were broken. Not that it would matter to me, anyways.
As I went along, it occurred to me that this place was more like a prop house than anything else. I passed by a life-sized animatronic of a lavender-smelling purple bear, stepped over a collection of busts used for holding wigs, and I had to jump over to another rack when a pile of netting proved too tough to walk over without tripping. Years of stuff, lost and forgotten.
Ah, I’m getting distracted.
My best bet for locating them was by the entrance, by the metal door. I leaped across the racks, trying to make as little noise as I could, heading towards what I believed was the front of the building.
A noise, one aisle over, closer to the main corridor. And then another. The clanging of sliding metal.
I was right. I headed that way.
I got to the source of the noise, and crouched over the edge of the rack to observe the four people below, entering the warehouse.
Four people, nice. That made things easy. But not too easy. They each had their own flashlight.
Three men, and a woman. Benny? For some reason, I didn’t think so. She was standing in the back, and from her posture, she wasn’t commanding any sort of presence.
A downside to the plan Eduardo and I came up with was that I had to pick out who among these four would be part of Benny’s main crew. I was sure that if I watched them long enough, I could figure it out. But, I could venture a guess, right now.
Probably the man at the head of the group, the one in the suit. An expensive looking one, too. He looked closer to the image of an Italian mobster rather than a member of the cartel.
He was in the middle of a sentence when I settled in to eavesdrop.
“… to make sure we have everything we need. We’re working against the clock, now, and we’re starting to be spread thin, but we can’t not be diligent.”
“You can thank Lawrence for the ‘spreading thin’ part,” the woman said.
“Does anyone even know what the fuck went down?” another one of them asked. “They all looked like they got hit by a fuckin’ bus.”
“Not really, Lawrence doesn’t wanna say,” the woman said. “Like he has some pride worth protecting.”
“Same with the others?”
“Yup. They’re a sad bunch.”
“And that’s why they’re out there, licking their wounds, and not here,” the man in the suit said. “Enough. Let’s get this done.”
Likewise, I thought.
I was right above them, and they had no idea I was there. There was something exhilarating about that, a rush bubbling inside me.
Certainly better than being seen.
I watched them go, down the main corridor, and take the fifth aisle to their left. They disappeared from sight, forcing me to move.
I dropped back down to the ground floor, and slowly followed their path. I peeked around the aisle to see all of them standing around large, wooden crates, situated at the bottom shelves of the racks.
“Hand me a crowbar,” the man in the suit ordered. One of the men handed him one, previously attached to his hip. I saw the holster of a gun there, too. I tensed. The man in the suit pried open a box.
I couldn’t see it from where I was, but I didn’t have to.
“Holy…” the woman said, “That is a lot. Isn’t this overkill?”
The man in the suit explained. “It’s what Benny wanted, but don’t expect we’ll be needing all of this.”
“But still, this is heavy. This is asking for war.”
“It’s not going to be a war, it’s going to be a straight-up obliteration. They won’t know what’s coming, and by the time they do, we’ll have taken all of their shit, territories and all.”
“Everyone’s going to be up our asses for this.”
“That’s why we’re going to be smart about this. Trust in Benny, mija.”
The other men murmured, agreeing with the man in the suit. The woman said no more.
“Let’s get to counting. The first moving group will be coming in about an hour.”
A moving group? Eduardo never mentioned that. Did he not know?
Great. Just great.
My time was now cut way short. There were other coming to pick up those crates. I couldn’t let them leave this warehouse, not when the threat of war was somehow a possibility.
The man in the suit. He seemed to know what he was doing, leading the others. I designated him as my target.
They started working open the other boxes. That was my prompt. I had to make my move, and unlike last time, I had to be smart.
I had to assume they were all hostile, and that they all had guns. That made any encounter with them tricky at best, and tragic at worst. A head-on fight wasn’t the way to go.
I started by giving myself some distance from the scene, backing away so they couldn’t hear me when I tip-toed into an aisle opposite them. I looked around to see what I could do.
There was a set of drums on the third shelf of a rack beside me. Not exactly a drum set, but instead number of bass drums lined up together. A good hop brought me up to where they were. I looked for the biggest drum, and gave it good slap.
The sound reverberated throughout the warehouse.
I heard them from down the aisle.
“Did you hear that?” a voice called out. It sounded like the man in the suit. “Sounded like it came from there. Go check it out.”
I didn’t hear a word of assent, but I heard the footsteps coming my way.
So much for not being reckless.
Weird, referring to them as henchmen, but as far as I knew, that was what they were. I watched as the henchman – the henchwoman, I noted when she got closer – looked about with her flashlight. She walked slowly, wary, completely out of her element with how dark it was. Me? I no longer had that issue.
I perched over the edge of the shelf, waiting until she walked right below me. I took out my knife from my fanny pack, but I didn’t take out the blade. I gulped, trying to swallow down any second thoughts.
My hand caught her mouth first, taking away her ability to scream. She toppled easily, offering little resistance.
Her flashlight was knocked away as she fell, and I moved to sit on her, my knees on her back, stopping her from reaching for it. The light shone on us, elongating our shadows. I knew that certain types of masks could change facial expressions at different lighting and angles. I wondered if the same effect applied to my cheap mask.
If so, what did she see?
I brought my knife to her neck, but only the handle, and pressed it against her skin. I wouldn’t dare bring the blade out.
My other hand was still covering her mouth, and the handle of my knife being where it was seemed to be an implicit enough threat for her. She didn’t struggle, and she didn’t try to scream for help.
Mom had given me a pocket knife for a reason, but I didn’t think this was the reason she had in mind.
I leaned in closer, so I could be heard without having to be too loud. “You. Know anything?”
She only stared up at me, glaring with an intensity I wasn’t used to.
“I know I have my hand on you,” I whispered, “And I’m about to take it off. You answer me, quietly, and your night will be a lot better for it. Trust me.”
A click, coming from behind. Subtle, faint, but I heard it. Someone else was coming, and they had a gun.
Shit. Now I was in a bind. I had to get away, and fast, but I had this woman to deal with. How would I knock out someone without causing serious injury?
No, I didn’t trust my own strength, not yet.
I got off of her, kicked the flashlight so it slid under a shelf, and then jumped away, leaving her unscathed.
I had left just in time, watching from a high-enough spot. A man came to tend to the woman. The one who had the crowbar.
“Get up! Here.” The man extended a hand, helping the woman up. It took her some time to reach for it, still rattled by her encounter.
“What happened to you? Did-”
He never got a chance to finish that sentence.
I had searched the props around me, trying to find anything that I could use. All that was usable were two old cue sticks, ones used for playing pool. I threw the first one, throwing it like I would a spear.
The cue stick struck him in the neck, preventing him from yelping in pain, even if he wanted to. Part of me wanted to shake a fist in celebration, but I couldn’t spare the time. I dropped back down with the other cue stick.
I didn’t waste a beat, striking him the across the face with the stick. A quick jab into his gut brought him down, and a knee to his chest for good measure. It might not have been enough to knock him out, but I caused enough pain to keep him down and out.
For the other, the woman, I put my foot on her throat, and tried using my words instead.
“And you. I don’t care who comes, or what happens, but you stay down for the next hour, or it’s not going to be my handle that I press into your neck.”
Again, a yell in the distance. There were two others left, and they must’ve heard the cue stick that I threw clatter against the ground, or the quick sounds of my brief scuffle. It wouldn’t be long before they made their presence.
To hurry her along, I pushed down on her throat some, until she started writhing and reaching for my foot, trying to push it off. I wouldn’t budge.
“Do I make myself clear, then?”
Begrudgingly, she nodded.
She was probably lying, but it was better than taking a risk and seriously hurting someone. Again. But, to be sure, I moved the man I just knocked down, and placed his body on top of her. I picked back up the closest cue stick, and once again, I went back up to the racks, staying hidden at the very top. The hit-and-run tactic was working well for me so far.
The last two men came into the aisle, including the man in the suit. They were running, now. Some time had passed since they sent in the first person to investigate, and suspicious noises didn’t help any.
Being in the dark, and being able to see, gave me the advantage, even if they had the firepower. It gave me the luxury of picking how I would strike, and something to hide back into should something go awry. It would be harder to hit what they couldn’t see.
And as if he heard my train of thought chugging along, one of the two men took out a flashlight of his own, and began investigating the aisle, searching through the shelves and props. I hid behind a box before the light could get to me.
I really hate flashlights, I thought.
I peeked my head out, taking a look, assessing the situation. They dropped their search, instead tending to the other two I knocked down. There wouldn’t be a better opportunity.
With purpose, I dropped, intending to land on top of the other other man. It turned into a crash, instead. My weight slammed into him, and the man collapsed into the pile of bodies I already amassed.
The man in the suit tried swinging with his crowbar, but a fast swipe to his side with a cue stick solved that issue. He reeled, dropping it, and giving me another opportunity to hit him again.
I kicked him in the knee, and it bent at an odd angle. He crashed onto the floor, wailing in pain. Once, twice, three times, and another I beat him with the cue stick to keep him from getting up. I had lost count by the time it broke, and he had stopped moving, besides some shallow breathing.
I looked over my handiwork. Four people, adults, who probably had killed or were at least willing to, and I took out all of them. But, I recognized that I ended up going overboard. It amounted to numb feeling. In all honesty, I wasn’t sure what to feel. Satisfaction? Horror?
I loomed over the woman once more. “Clock’s still ticking. Stay there.”
She didn’t answer, but she was no longer a concern. I’d proven enough to her. To all of them.
I tossed away the broken cue sticks, and returned to the man in the suit.
It was annoying, having to keep referring to the supposed leader as the ‘man in the suit,’ but that was why I was here, in a sense. For information.
Before the man in the suit could react and help himself, I put a foot to his chest, pinning him down.
“Please don’t tell me the suit’s a rental,” I said, “I don’t have the money to pay for it.”
He didn’t stutter in his response, surprisingly. He spoke calmly, and deliberate. “Who are you?”
“That doesn’t matter, well, because my name sucks, honestly. What does matter is who you are. Name, please.”
He took his time to answer. “Roland.”
“Roland?” I crouched in front of him, “That’s a nice name.”
Roland’s face contorted into a mean mug, but even then, I could see the handsomeness that hid behind that expression. He looked rugged, tough, the type I could imagine in a magazine. Front cover.
Stop getting distracted again.
“Okay, Roland, this can either get a little better for you, or a lot worse. I have a few questions for you, and let’s see if you can answer them without too much trouble.”
“Fuck…” Roland took a breath, but his chest was constricted, thanks to my foot. “… you.”
I sighed until I was out of breath, little wisps of air escaping my lips. Interrogation was not something I’d ever expect to be doing at any point in my life, and any resistance Roland put worth was wasting my time. Others would be coming in, soon, and I had to find a way to keep those crates here.
“Let’s start with what’s in those crates,” I said. “Tell me.”
“What kind of weapons?”
“Why don’t you check for yourself? They’re right there. You might be so impressed, your mask will make a face.”
“Roland, it’s not smart to be fighting me like this,” I said. I brandished my knife. “Can’t you be good?”
Although subtle, I missed the first part of what he said. “… bebé. That knife is no good. Blade is too cheap. You’ve never used it before, and you’re too scared to.”
I shrugged, showing him the blade. There wasn’t enough light for him to see it clearly, but I had to make do. “Cherish the face you have right now, because it’s about to look really surprised.”
Roland grunted, saying something in Spanish.
My fanny pack made a sound. Was it Eduardo? If it was, it had to wait.
“You’re only making this harder for yourself,” I said. “I took you out, and your guys. By myself. Aren’t you a little scared? Even a smidge?”
Roland scoffed. “You do not scare me.”
“Really forcing my hand, buddy,” I muttered. I brought my knife to his face, gliding it across his cheek. He barely responded.
“Pretty please?” I asked.
After a slow minute, Roland finally conceded. “What do you want?”
“I heard a little bit of what you said earlier. Who are you going after? Which gang?”
“Heh. All of them.”
“You’re not very funny.”
“Is that not the truth? We want to be on top in this town. We’ll be going up against everyone, eventually.”
This guy, going out of his way to be an ass.
I tried a few more questions, but I already knew where this was going.
“This Benny, that’s your boss, right? Know where I can find him easy?” I had to switch pronouns, to throw off any possible suspicion.
“Benny never stays in same place for long. Always moving.”
“Do you know where he’d be now?”
I groaned. “He has to have a place he frequents, right? Strip club, restaurant, bar? Some kind of headquarters?”
Roland shifted his eyes, looking away. “Benny will kill me.”
“And I won’t?”
“No, you won’t.”
Damn this Roland. He was playing my bluff, and winning. I only had so much time to work with, and he was wasting it by being stubborn. I was almost amazed at how obstinate he was.
And there was a lot I could be getting out of him. I had to take advantage of this. More names, stashes of supplies. Of money. Anything that could hit Benny hard.
I’d give it thirty more minutes, and try to get as much info I could. After that, I’d have to deal with the crates of weapons.
I felt a knot tie in my stomach. All this physical exertion, was starting to make me thirsty.
Maybe I didn’t have thirty minutes, anymore.
“Ay, Roland,” I said, “Got a phone?”
He refused to answer. I heard my fanny pack sound off again. What did Eduardo want?
I bent down, and searched his person. Jacket pocket. Found it easy.
“Thanks for nothing, dickhead,” I said.
“Pleasure…” he stopped to cough, “Is all mine.”
I got up and walked away, leaving all four of them behind. They wouldn’t be a problem. I picked up the pace, to the crates, walkie-talkie in one hand and Roland’s phone in the other.
I was at the main corridor when I spoke into the walkie-talkie. “I thought you said you wouldn’t be buzzing me up. What is it?”
No response from Eduardo. I pressed the button again.
“Since you’re on the line, El Carruaje’s planning a turf war against one of the neighboring gangs. They won’t tell who they’re going after, or how, or when, but I’ve secured the shipment. For now. Some people are coming to get them soon.”
Again, no response. Again, I pressed the button.
“There’s a fuckton of weapons stockpiled here, a lot of guns. Do you think it would be a good idea to direct some cops here, or find a way to sabotage the stuff that’s here?”
The walkie-talkie buzzed this time, from the other end. “That won’t be necessary. But I’m sad my plans won’t be a surprise anymore.”
A female. It wasn’t Eduardo’s voice.
“Who is this?” I asked, my palms beginning to sweat.
“I’ve been hearing a lot about a mysterious person messing with my boys. I couldn’t believe it myself, but then I thought, maybe they’ve been getting help from the inside, huh? And from what I’ve heard, these incidents have surrounded the same few people, and who do I find a few blocks away from my warehouse, with a walkie-talkie in his hand?”
I swallowed, with nothing to say.
“I don’t know who you are, or why you’re trying to interfere with my plans, but I do know one thing. Eduardo, it’s true that you want to take Maria and leave our family, right?”
A shrill, distorted scream came from my walkie-talkie. I bit my tongue.
“That’s what I thought. Okay. Hey, hey, shh, calm down, it’s okay. You want to leave us? Alright. Let’s go see Maria. She should be at home by this time. You two can leave together. Let’s take your car. You drive.”
I yelled, with no forethought. “No!”
“Oh, and you. You can sit tight and stay there. Whatever it is that you’re trying to do, it ends tonight. If I see any other car or police coming after us, I’ll make the call, and have Maria killed before we can get there. You cannot stop me. But don’t worry, I’ll turn this thing on when we arrive, so you can hear every little detail.”
Another voice suddenly jutted in, shouting.
“Blank Face! You have to do something! Come-”
The line was cut off. Silence. I didn’t waste a second.
I started running.