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Getaway

GETAWAY

Anthony Jacobs

 

 

Published by Books for the Hungry at Shakespir

 

Copyright 2015 Anthony Jacobs

 

 

 

Discover other titles by Anthony Jacobs

 

The Guard: Campground Stories

 

 

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your favorite ebook retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

 

 

Table of Contents

 

Prologue

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45

Chapter 46

Chapter 47

Chapter 48

Chapter 49

Chapter 50

Chapter 51

Epilogue

Foreword

About the author

 

 

Prologue

“Another night shift,” he muttered to himself as if it was the most tragic thing that had occurred in the past decade to anyone on earth. Tory had been doing a lot of talking to himself lately, because there really wasn’t any one else to talk to. Nighttime was a very lonely time in G section because it was the most isolated section of the prison. G section was the west wing of the penitentiary and was reserved for inmates deemed criminally insane, and too dangerous to be housed with the regular inmates. Most of the inmates in G section would never live to see society again, and were well aware of this. Because of this, no one wanted to go near that section of the prison. To say that the other officers were reluctant to do the job Tory was assigned tonight would be an understatement, and this assignment was usually given to people who had messed up or made the supervisor mad. Tory fell under the first category.

In the time that he had been working as a detention officer at the penitentiary, Tory had earned a reputation of being a fighter. He had been in more fights in his career than even the most hardened criminals there. Most of it was because he had been in the right place at the right time. Some folks think that when you try to break up a fight between two or more inmates they will be glad to oblige. I am here to tell you, they could not be farther from the truth thought Tory. Usually, as soon as the inmates saw an officer coming toward them, they would move the fight to the officer. Unfortunately, the inmate can hit the officer and get away with it, but the officer gets in trouble if he hits the inmates. Well, that is why he was working the graveyard shift at the psycho ward.

The psycho ward, as the officers called it, was set up differently than the rest of the prison. It was set up like the isolation ward, with a long hallway with doors on both sides facing the middle. There were no windows in the cells, and some of the cells had padding on the walls, ceiling, and floors. These cells were reserved for the inmates who were classified as an extreme danger to themselves or others.

“Head Banger,” as he was aptly nicknamed, was an inmate who occupied one of the padded cells. This was his nickname, because for some reason he felt the compulsion to bang his head into every solid object in sight. When he was let out for exercise, he had to wear a helmet strapped to his head so he wouldn’t do himself in on some solid object.

Most of the other mental cases had nicknames pertaining to their personalities as well. The ones Tory knew about, besides Head Banger, were: Slasher, Doc, Swinger, Crybaby and Diablo.

“Slasher,” as he was called, was diagnosed as being, “psychotic with homicidal tendencies.” Given anything sharper than a stick of butter, he would slash out at anyone in sight. It was rumored that he had killed twelve people out of prison and eight inmates while in prison. When in court, he had tried to kill his own attorney with a ball-point pen. The story goes, that he started out as a door-to-door salesman selling cutlery, and one day when a customer told him to get lost, something inside of him had snapped. He consequently pulled a cleaver out of his demonstration set, and demonstrated its many uses on the customer’s body. The rest of the day until he was caught, he made several such demonstrations on customers that wouldn’t buy his cutlery, using a different piece of cutlery each time.

“Doc,” on the other hand, was diagnosed as being a delusional schizophrenic. Doc, had about five known personalities. One of which was that of a medical physician. This is what landed him in jail, because he had decided to practice without a license, and consequently killed five “patients” on the operating table because he didn’t use anesthesia (at least not in the conventional sense). Doc would “anesthetize” his patients with a ball peen hammer.

“Swinger” was an interesting case. He was diagnosed as “paranoid” and earned his nickname because he tried to hang himself several times. When Swinger was a teenager, he had begun to experiment with drugs. He had started out in middle school, smoking marijuana with his friends. They would cut class and walk to a nearby bridge and get stoned under the bridge, while listening to Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. At lunchtime, they would sneak back to the school and sit through the rest of their classes, which became much more interesting when they were stoned.

In high school, Swinger had tried harder drugs like Quaaludes, cocaine, and LSD. It became more difficult to cut class, so he would go to lunch with his friends and they would get stoned and return to the school wasted for their fourth period classes. Swinger had Spanish class for fourth period, and his Spanish teacher was a fat German woman.

One day when Swinger had returned to class after lunch, as he was looking at his teacher, her face had started to melt. When he regained his senses several hours later, he was in the school clinic. He had the vague taste of chalk in his mouth, and was told by the school nurse that he had emptied the pencil sharpener down his pants and had tried to eat the chalkboard erasers. Needless to say, he had been suspended that day.

Swinger had never returned to school, and had started using drugs so often, that he had to steal things and sell them for money to pay for the drugs. One day, his drug dealer had sold him a “dirty joint” (a marijuana cigarette soaked in PCP). Swinger had smoked the joint just before breaking into a house that he thought was vacant. Unfortunately, a family was sleeping in the house at the time, and as the drugs had warped his sense of reality, he had believed that everyone was a monster that wanted to kill him. When the police had found him the next morning, Swinger had been dancing in the front yard naked with intestines draped around his neck like a macabre Mardi Gras necklace.

Angel Dust had destroyed what remained of Swinger’s psyche, and he had never returned to reality. Every half hour Tory checked his room to make sure he wasn’t swinging again.

“Cry baby” was a classic example of “Manic Depressive” personality. He was the victim of a homosexual rape by his father as a boy. One day, he had come home from school to find his father drunk, and screaming about the dirty dishes he had left in the sink. When Cry Baby had run to his room to get away from his father, his father had kicked in the door and raped him. Cry baby had not told anyone about the rape, because he was so embarrassed and ashamed, but a month later, he had found his father passed out on the living room sofa, and had cut his privates off with a knife. His father woke up screaming, and watched dumbly as Cry Baby had dropped his father’s privates into the sink and turned on the food disposal.

His mother had discovered what her husband had done, and had confessed to the crime when the police arrived. Cry Baby had been placed in foster homes, but he had never recovered from the emotional damage of this. He had killed three foster fathers until he was caught. He was an emotional mess, and all he did all day and night was sit in a corner of his cell and cry.

“Diablo” (or “Devil”) was the most dangerous one of all. He was diagnosed as an “extremely dangerous psychopath.” When Diablo was only eight years old, he had butchered his mother, father, and his five sisters with a curling iron, an axe and his father’s revolver while they were asleep. He spent eleven years in the state mental ward for boys, and escaped. When he was apprehended six months later, he was found living like an animal in a shack full of dead bodies. Since that night as a child when he killed his family, he had never uttered a single word, and now he just sat staring off into space. Although he seemed peaceful enough, his eyes betrayed him. All the hate and evil only a devil could posses lay waiting behind those black eyes.

Every time Tory made a pass by the cells in G section, he could feel the danger lurking behind those closed doors, and this scared him, even if he would never admit it. All that stood between Tory and the inmates was a wall and several doors. The darkness wasn’t exactly reassuring either, because shadows moved, and dark passages looked like open doors. The section was so quiet at night, that every little sound seemed amplified hundreds of times. Every step he took echoed down the hallway.

Every few minutes he would ask himself if he had really locked the doors, and if the doors were shut all the way, and if there was anyone lurking behind him ready to pounce. He could imagine that animal Diablo crouching behind his door like a tiger waiting to devour his prey.

After a while, Tory relaxed a little, especially when he realized that all of the doors were closed, and things seemed quiet. He sat down in a chair at the end of the corridor and started to read a book that he had brought. Tory thought that maybe he could keep his mind off his paranoid fears and kill some time as well. As often happens with a good book, however, Tory lost himself in the story, and his mind started to wander. A sharp pain in the top of his head snapped him out of this trance-like state. Tory tried to stand up, but suddenly his legs were made of Jell-o and he weight a thousand pounds. He looked down at his hands and noticed that his lap was covered with a pool of red sticky stuff, blood. Yuck, he thought as his world started turning red and watery before his eyes. Suddenly, the floor came up to meet him and the familiar smell of floor wax filled his nostrils as the darkness surrounded him.

A dark figure walked down the hall twirling a key ring on his finger and chuckling to himself. Then, like a cloud of smoke, he blended into the shadows and disappeared.

 

 

Chapter 1

Lt. John Granger was fuming as he stormed out of his office and headed toward G section slamming doors and cursing the whole way. “Tory Peters, you’ve really screwed-up this time, you S.O.B. Three radio-checks and you still don’t answer,” he hissed through gritted teeth. As Lt. Granger climbed the staircase that led up to the psycho ward, he had visions of Tory squirming and kicking while he choked him with his bare hands. When he opened the door at the top of the staircase, he froze. Something is not quite right, he thought. There was an eerie stillness all about. It reminded him of what happens after a shot rings out in the forest. All the crickets stop chirping, and everything seems still.

The hallway smelled like wet copper and the steady drip, drip of a leaky water faucet echoed throughout the hallway. Something was wrong here, he could feel it, but he couldn’t figure it out. The copper smell! That was it. The floors had been freshly waxed that afternoon, and the hallway always smelled like wax. What was that dripping noise? There weren’t any water faucets in this section. As he walked cautiously down the dark hallway, he could make out a figure lying awkwardly sprawled out on the floor. As he walked closer to the figure, the coppery smell intensified and became overwhelming.

Concentrating completely on the body, he failed to notice that the floor was wet and went sailing head over heels, landing on his back in front of the body. The coppery smell was the smell of blood, which was all over the floor. Lt. Granger could feel the hair on the back of his neck raise and bristle like a pissed off porcupine when he looked up into Tory’s vacant eyes.

When Lt. Granger recovered from the initial shock, he called for backup and a medical team on his radio. Then he ran to the end of the hall and turned on the light switch.

When he turned around, he saw that he ill prepared for the scene that awaited him. Never in his life had he seen such a heartless massacre.

The floor was a pool of blood and the blood had been used to write a message on the walls. The message read “AND NOW TO FINISH WHAT WE STARTED.”

In the middle of the hall lay Tory Peters, or most of him. Approximately half of his head was missing, and he had been disemboweled with the same pole that lobotomized him. The pole appeared to be the leg of a single bunk-bed, and had been crudely torn off of the bed.

After taking in the scene, Lt. Granger, nicknamed “Danger Granger” aptly tossed his cookies, adding to an impossibly disgusting scene. When he stopped retching, he decided to check on the inmates in the cells.

The first cell he entered was “Swinger’s” cell. Swinger was hanging from the ceiling by bed sheets, but he also had a slit throat. This was where the dripping noise had been coming from. As the blood ran down Swinger’s body and dripped from his feet into a puddle on the floor, it made a dripping sound, like a leaky faucet.

“Crybaby” was in the next cell lying on his bed with bedsprings sticking out of empty eye sockets. His cell had been ransacked as if a wild animal had been trapped in there and had tried desperately to escape. John gave the cell a cursory once over, thinking: what the hell happened to his eyes? It took a few minutes for it to register after he saw it because they were so out of place, but eventually he realized that both eyes were staring at the lifeless body from the faucets on the sink in the cell. John swallowed the bile that was building up in his throat, and vowed not to barf again. Without thinking, John went to the sink to splash some water on his face, and unwittingly grabbed an eyeball as he tried to turn on the faucet. That was all it took. John retched so hard, he actually threw out his back. Ten minutes later, when he was through, and was able to somehow straighten up, he continued his assessment of the situation.

Slasher, Doc, and Diablo were missing, and one of the legs had been torn off Diablo’s bed. A wad of toilet paper had been shoved into the doorjamb in a way in which the door would have appeared closed, but was not fully locked. A few pounds of pressure on the door coming from inside the cell would have easily forced the door to open, if the occupant had used something solid to help pry it open. Solid, like maybe the leg of a bunk, thought John?

John Granger, usually a calm, subdued man, now was on the verge of total panic. As quickly as he could find the words, he issued a red alert in the prison. Soon after this, sirens wailed, spotlights flicked on, and all the lights in the prison came on.

“My God, it looks like Christmas around here,” John muttered as he looked out of the window at the end of the bloody corridor. “Why did this have to happen tonight, when I’m in charge?” he wondered out loud.

It seemed like the craziest, stupidest things happened to him when he was in charge. This was, at least partially, the reason people referred to him as “Danger Granger.” The prison had a large population of Haitian inmates, who were well known for practicing voodoo rituals after lights out, when the officers were elsewhere. One night, he had heard a disturbance coming from one of the sections, and had gone to investigate it. What he had discovered even made his skin crawl years later. One of the Haitian inmates had been duck walking around the section with a blanket thrown over his head. When John had snatched the blanket off the inmate’s head, the inmate had dropped to the floor and slithered like a snake under his bunk. The other inmates had been so freaked out, he decided to leave the section and call for backup. When several other officers had arrived and entered the section with him, everything had gone back to normal and the inmate who had slithered like a snake was sound asleep on his bunk. This was one of many instances, so the other officers had become somewhat skeptical when he called for assistance. “Not this time,” he muttered to himself.

Seconds later, the stairway door burst open, and four officers ran up to him. “What’s wrong sir? We heard you needed backup,” said the nearest one with what sounded to John like disbelief.

“Turn around,” was all John had to say. Their reactions were similar to Lt. Granger’s except that two of them kept muttering something about God and Mary in Spanish.

Lt. Granger ordered them to guard the hallway and not touch anything until investigators arrived.

John then headed back to his office to await further developments.

 

Chapter 2

Thirty miles away in his typical suburban home surrounded by a white picket fence, Tom Kincaid, state homicide detective, woke up to the ringing of his bedside telephone. He had always hated having a phone next to his bed, because it never failed to ring when he was making love to his wife, Heather, or when he was sound asleep. As he fumbled for the phone in the dark, he knocked over his alarm clock. Picking the clock up off the floor, he noticed that it was three o’clock in the morning. “This had better be important,” he muttered to himself as he picked up the receiver.

The voice on the other end of the line sounded frantic, and Tom had to slow him down several times, like switching from 78 rpm’s to 33 rpm’s on an old fashioned record player. After he understood what the other person said, he calmly told the other party that he could be there in a half an hour and not to touch anything until he got there.

After dressing in the dark, he made a few phone calls, kissed his wife on the forehead, and headed out the door. Tom had been a cop for the last fifteen years, and had worked his way up from Detention Officer, to Patrol Officer, to Detective, and had eventually landed a position in Homicide. Most days he enjoyed the job, but other days, he went home defeated at the end of the day. He had never worked a regular “nine to five” job, and had always worked weird hours, so this wasn’t out of the ordinary for him. Sometimes he felt as if he would have lost his mind if not for the love and support he got from his wife.

Heather had been a constant source of joy for him, and was always supportive. Even when Tom had a terrible day, Heather had worked her hardest to try to cheer him up. A bad day for a Detention Officer or a Police Officer was much worse than a bad day for an office worker. A bad day for an office worker usually meant that they had been passed up for a promotion, or they lost an important account. A bad day for a Law Enforcement Officer usually ended in bloodshed. Tom had sustained numerous injuries in the line of duty, and the prevailing attitude of the general public was that that was just “part of the job.” These were the same people that Officers were sworn to protect.

When Tom left his house each day, he made a point of kissing his wife, because he never knew if that was the last time he would see her again. For this same reason, he never let her go to bed mad at him. They had spent many nights up late talking, trying to resolve their problems, because Tom refused to let her go to sleep until they had resolved their differences.

Tom’s car was a 1969 Chevrolet Chevelle SS painted midnight blue. It had been seized from a drug dealer who had been transporting twenty kilograms of Cocaine in the trunk, when the Police had stopped him for speeding. The Police Department had been able to keep the car for official use, and Tom had been issued the car. He was allowed to take it home every night, and was given a certain amount of leeway to “tinker with it” as long as he maintained it in good condition. It didn’t look like a Police car, which was advantageous when looking for suspects that were watching for the Police. Tom took good care of the car, primarily because it was the car he had always dreamed of having. It looked normal enough on the outside, but it was anything but ordinary under the hood. This was because Tom had been tweaking the engine and had used parts from several different cars to give him an edge against the criminals he chased. It now had a COPO (Central Office Production Order) 427cubic inch engine with forged pistons and an oversized camshaft, oversized ports with a supercharger. Tom had also had to put a new rear end in his car after he realized that the standard one wouldn’t be able to handle that much torque. Tom had taken it to an abandoned airstrip outside of town and “put it through its paces.” He could go from 0-60 miles per hour in under five seconds, and could run a 10 second quarter mile with the supercharger activated. The Police Department had installed a covert light bar and hidden siren switch in the car, as well as a two-way radio in the trunk with the microphone under the seat.

Several times in childish, but fulfilling displays of power, he had spun the tires in his driveway. This time he did it more out of necessity than out of need to show off. “Maybe,” he thought after melting the asphalt in his driveway and waking half of the neighborhood with the ten second screech this caused, “I over did it just a bit this time.”

Tom’s partner, Steve Carlile, lived five miles away on route 65, and it took just under five minutes for Tom to reach Steve’s house with the blue lights on. Steve lived out in the country, so Tom had done most of the work on the car at Steve’s place with Steve’s help.

As usual, Steve was waiting out front looking at his watch and shaking his head. “Give a guy a race car, and he can’t even make it move. Geez what a slowpoke,” he said. “And cheerful good morning to you, too,” Tom replied. As if in defiance to Steve’s slowpoke cracks, Tom laid so much rubber on the ground it would have made any drag racer envious.

Steve Carlile was a lanky 6’3” tall with a dark complexion, black hair and brown eyes, while Tom Kinkaid was a stocky 5’10” tall with a fair complexion, brown hair and green eyes. Both men were in their late thirties and both had been on the job for fifteen years or more. Neither of them had children, and Steve was still single, unlike Tom. Steve claimed that he just hadn’t found the right woman yet, but Tom believed that Steve was so set in his ways, that he was scared of committing to one woman. The thought of having someone move into his house and rearrange things seemed to freak him out a little. Steve and Tom got along like brothers more or less, however, they fought less than brothers do. Sometimes, Tom’s wife, Heather would complain that he spent more time with Steve than he did with her. He and Heather had discussed having kids, and both of them wanted children, but the thought of bringing a defenseless baby into this world scared Tom half to death.

He had discussed this with Steve, who replied “Defenseless? Babies are hardly defenseless! Have you seen what they do to diapers? They are master manipulators. For instance, when they are hungry, they cry in an obnoxious way, so that you have to shut them up or go insane. They keep you up all night just to lower your defenses so you are more susceptible to their subtle mind control.”

“Wow, you really should be a pro-life counselor,” Tom retorted sarcastically. Steve was as blunt as a sack of doorknobs, but years of living by himself after several failed relationships had made him jaded. Heather had tried to fix Steve up with friends and acquaintances of hers, but when they had showed an interest in him, he had suddenly broken up with them. Steve’s version of these events, of course was slightly different than Heather’s. When Tom had asked Steve about this, Steve had said that the women were suffocating him, and that they were “psycho hose hounds,” that were desperately searching for the emotional security of a long-term relationship, even if they didn’t love the other person. Steve admitted that he might have overreacted when he had suggested that they buy a puppy instead, and had acted like a jerk just to push them away. In his mind, he felt that it was somewhat nobler to leave them when they thought he was a jerk, than if they thought that they had lost a great catch.

As they sped toward the prison, Tom filled Steve in on the details he had been told over the phone.

As the trees whistled by, Tom tried to reenact the incident at the prison inside his head. Murder was never an easy subject to deal with, but murder by someone with absolutely no conscious or sense of right or wrong was a particularly hard subject to comprehend.

When they reached the prison, it looked as if World War III had broken out. Search lights pierced the night, a helicopter hovered overhead, and the riot squat had been called out.

They were greeted by Lt. John Granger upon arrival, who seemed relieved to see them, He ushered them to the scene, filling them in with a condensed version of the suspects’ background history, and the events of the night.

The hallway was already taped-off, and after the officer on duty checked their credentials, Tom and Steve entered to find the most grisly murder scene they had ever seen. After taking it all in, they had the fingerprint crew dust for fingerprints. Then, the coroner came in and inspected the bodies before hauling them off. Apparently they had been dead since around two o’clock that morning.

From the bloody fingerprints and a few smudged handprints and footprints, Tom and Steve figured out the general direction the suspects had fled.

Hazarding a guess, Tom asked Lt. Granger if any vehicles had left since two o’clock that morning. He made a few inquires, and found out that the garbage truck had left at or around 2:30 that morning with a full load.

Driving to the main gate of the prison, Tom and Steve questioned the guard on duty there about the garbage truck and its pickup schedule. In finding nothing unusual about the pickup, and no irregularities in the schedule, Tom had Steve call dispatch, and request that some available units be sent to the city dump to search the incoming trucks and surrounding area. While Steve was making the call, Tom started the car and the two detectives started following the trail the garbage truck had taken.

 

 

Chapter 3

Charlie looked down at his newly found “Mickey Mouse” wrist-watch, and Mickey’s famous white-gloved hands pointed to three o’clock in the morning. The watch had been a champion find; when he had found it, it was still ticking, and the only thing wrong with it had been a cracked crystal.

Charlie always liked to be the first one at the dump in the mornings, because he was sure to find the best “treasures” before anyone else could. He had single-handedly turned scavenging into a fine art, knowing what to look for and which garbage trucks delivered the best junk.

It was no surprise that when truck number fifteen rolled up, Charlie recognized it as being from the prison. Charlie dismissed it summarily as being useless, because nothing good ever came out of the prison. If the prisoners didn’t want it, he sure didn’t.

Charlie had been in trouble with the law before, and had been sent to that prison years ago when he was young and dumb, as he thought of it. In prison, Charlie had learned to cherish everything you find, and being resourceful was the only way to survive. There were very few things that he was sure of in this world, but Charlie was absolutely positive that he did not want to go back to jail.

As Charlie was turning away to search for more treasures, he caught a flicker of movement out of the corner of his eye. When he turned around, he noticed that three people were climbing out of the back of the garbage truck. “Man, those prison folks’ll throw anything away nowadays,” mused Charlie as he watched the figures scamper off into the woods. He didn’t much care for people in general, because he often found them hostile and untrustworthy. He was only interested in finding treasure.

When two police cars pulled into the dump few minutes later with their lights flashing and sirens blasting, poor Charlie thought he was getting busted for vagrancy, and in sheer panic he dropped the armful of valuables he had collected, and high-tailed it out of there at a full gallop. Even so, one of the officers managed to catch him with a flying tackle that sent both men sailing through a pile of rotten banana peels and eggshells.

After picking Charlie up off of the ground, the officer apologized and told him that they just wanted to ask him a few questions. When Charlie heard this, he was furious. “You mean I jes lost a whole morning’s worth of treasure for nothing?”

The officers asked him if he had seen anything unusual that morning besides “treasures.” Charlie told them about the three people that someone had thrown away, after a long lecture about the value of the things people threw away.

At this point, Tom and Steve walked up and found out from Charlie, which way the three suspects had gone. When Charlie had pointed to the woods, Tom and Steve organized a search party with the officers there and they scattered into the woods.

Tom picked up the trail almost immediately. The suspects had been in a hurry, and had left a trail so obvious it could have been seen from across the dump. Broken branches and footprints led into the woods on the East side of the dump. Tom cursed to himself. This was the direction to town from the dump. The dump was located about ten miles west of town and about two miles north of the prison from which these jackasses had escaped. Between here and town, there were probably twenty to thirty houses. When Tom thought about what these suspects would do to an unsuspecting family, he got the cold sweats. Brief flashes of what he had seen at the prison came to him like photos taken by a crime scene photographer. Tom shivered sub-consciously, and started walking faster through the dense forest.

Chapter 4

Francisco “Diablo” Caseres saw a light in the distance. He had been trudging through this freaking forest for what seemed to him like an eternity. He needed to feed. He chuckled to himself, thinking that this must be what a wolf felt like when he stalked his prey. He wasn’t just hungry for food, he needed something more- he needed carnage. As he scrambled further into the dense woods, he saw that a farmhouse was up ahead of him in a clearing in the woods.

He had needed these other losers in order to escape, but now it just felt like they were slowing him down. He made a mental note to kill them when he had a chance and when he was sure they had gotten away. As far as he was concerned, they were weak and stupid and deserved to get caught.

As he approached the farmhouse, Diablo looked to see if there was a clothesline in the backyard. If he was going to get far, he would need to change out of his prison uniform. It was still an hour or so before sunrise, but he knew that people in the country usually got up early, so he would have to act fast.

He hated rushing this thing. This should be savored, like a fine meal. His skin prickled with excitement as he imagined what he would do to this family. What he would see, what he would hear, what he would feel. He loved to be there when a person let out their last breath on earth and he heard their soul escape their body with a “death rattle,” as he had heard it called. Diablo liked to kneel over the body of his victims and inhale the victim’s last breath, so he could capture their soul. He felt that this gave him added strength and power. He worried that these other two guys would try to steal the victims’ souls for themselves. If he killed them and stole their souls, would he become crazy like them? That thought nearly made him laugh out loud. Imagine, if he was as crazy as them, but with the power he now had? They were standing next to him, looking desperate.

There were no clothes on the clothesline, but when Diablo went to the barn out back, he found a pair of coveralls. Obviously they were used for hunting, because they were printed with camouflage. Diablo stripped off his prison uniform and put on the coveralls. They were a little small on him, because he was a large man. He stood just over 6’4” tall, and weighed 300 pounds. He had used almost every waking moment in prison to exercise and stay strong. He had seen too many guys get fat in prison because of the high carbohydrate diet and lack of activity.

Diablo found a chicken coop behind the barn, and grabbed a big hen. Before the hen knew what had happened, he had wrung her neck. He grabbed some eggs that were also in the coop, and put them in some of the pockets in the coveralls. He looked over to see where the other two guys had gone, and saw them peeking into various windows in the house. What the — . . . No way was he going to let them steal these people’s souls from him. He knew that soon the police would be looking for them, so they had better get moving. If he didn’t have time to savor killing these people, he would go to the next house he found and kill them slowly. The longer he waited, the more the next victims would have to suffer. After all, someone must pay for his frustration.

Chapter 5

Fred Grimsley sat up in bed, and rubbed the sleep from his eyes. It was 5:00 am, and he had to feed the chickens and milk the cows. He yawned and stretched. He looked at his beautiful wife still asleep, and wanted to crawl back in bed with her. He thought about the hungry animals and got dressed instead.

Fred thought about his wife Melissa, and how they had met nearly thirty years ago at the county fair. She had been a pretty girl with a great figure who instantly caught his attention. She had a friendly smile, which she wasn’t afraid to show often. Thinking back, he realized that the first thing that had really gotten his attention was her face. She had a peaceful, caring face, and when she smiled, it showed in her eyes as well. Truly happy people were hard to find, and there were too many people who would try to hide their internal misery with a smile, but not mean it, or use a phony smile to get what they wanted. This girl was not like that. Her smile and her joy were genuine, as he would later discover.

Melissa had been standing behind a large pyramid of cantaloupe melons, which were for sale. To make small talk, Fred had blurted out “nice melons,” to her. Melissa had blushed and smiled and said, “thank you, you’re not so bad yourself.” Fred realized how it must have sounded, and being somewhat shy and awkward around women, especially beautiful women, he was mortified. He stammered, “I…I meant that the cantaloupes look especially large this year.” Fred could feel the blood rush to his face, and his ears started burning. After toying with him for another minute or so, Melissa playfully elbowed him and said that she was only kidding around. Fred had a good laugh at his own expense and gathered the courage to ask her out. They dated for a few years, and got married at the Baptist church in town.

As Fred stared down at his sleeping wife, he realized how fortunate he was to have such a wonderful woman to grow old with. She had been his best friend, his lover, and his companion all of these years, and had rarely complained about anything. He knew that Melissa could have married anyone she had wanted to, but she had chosen him.

Fred snapped himself out of his reverie and focused on all of the chores he would have to do before breakfast. He knew that when he came back inside, Melissa would likely be up and would have a hot meal waiting for him. In his mind, he could smell bacon and eggs frying on the stove, and his stomach rumbled. First, he would check on the chickens and gather eggs, and then he would go milk and feed the cows. After that, he would feed the horses.

Fred made his way through the dark house toward the back door. He didn’t turn on any lights because he didn’t want to ruin his night vision. Fred did not use a flashlight because he knew where everything was in the dark. He grabbed his machete on the way out the back door—“that damn fool rooster had better not attack me again,” he said to himself. He didn’t intend to kill it, just smack it with the flat side of the blade, to knock some sense into him. From time to time, Fred would also run across a snake, and he would definitely use the sharp side of the machete if he saw one of those. In his opinion, the only good snake was a dead snake.

As he stepped outside, he heard a twig snap in the woods to his right. He couldn’t see anything, but it sounded like something big, maybe a bear, he thought. He continued on across the yard to the chicken coop, gripping his machete tighter and straining his ears and eyes for another sound or movement. Fred entered the chicken coop, and started to collect eggs. Almost immediately, he noticed that one of his hens was missing. He didn’t see feathers all over the ground, and didn’t see any sign that something had dug under the fence surrounding the coop. “Stupid kids,” he muttered. In the past year or two, Fred had caught three of the kids in the area trying to steal his hens. He had chased them off every time, but they had always made enough noise that he could tell when they were around. This time, there had been no noise, no clucking, no nothing. Instantly he thought about the twig he had heard snap when he had come out the back door. This time, he thought, I’m going to scare these kids so badly they will crap their pants and never come back.

Fred opened the door to the chicken coop and came charging out screaming like a madman with his machete held high over his head. Fred took three steps, and ran headlong into a man who had been walking toward the coop. the man screamed like a girl, and the two of them went sprawling onto the ground in a tangled heap. Suddenly a horrible smell hit Fred’s nostrils, and he knew that this move had had its desired effect, but who the hell was this guy? This didn’t seem like a kid. He was bigger than any of the kids in the area.

Fred struggled with the man on the ground, and had to fight desperately to maintain his grip on the machete in his hand. Fred wondered how long he could keep this up, but knew that if he gave up, he was a dead man.

Chapter 6

Edwin “Doc” Chambers had been looking into the farmhouse through one of the side windows, when he had heard the back door open. Doc moved carefully to the back of the house, thinking, who the hell gets up this early? Doc had started to think that teaming up with these two psychos had been a mistake, but at least he had been able to escape from that horrible place. How could they lump him in with all of those crazies? Didn’t they know that he wasn’t some nut that needed to be locked up for the rest of his life? He had to get back to his practice. His patients needed him. How would they truly be cured without his expertise? Only he could remove the cancers that plagued so many.

There were many types of cancer out there, including moral and societal cancers, which he specialized in. These cancers could only be removed by a skilled surgeon with a thorough eye, and a feel for them. They were more often felt than seen. Because of the metaphysical nature of these cancers, many skeptics, including his own lawyer unfortunately, thought that he was crazy. Doc always felt that people should be more grateful to him for the services he rendered.

The day he had been arrested, had been the worst day of his life. He was trying to remove the cancer from a man he had met on the street. The man had been rude, nasty, and depraved when doc had encountered him. The man had pulled his pants down in public, and in front of some children, he had urinated on the sidewalk. When doc had approached him, the man had cursed him, spat at him, and actually tried to pee on him. This was unacceptable behavior, and Doc knew that it was a sure sign that a cancer dwelt within the man’s filthy body. Doc had later lured the man into his car with a stack of twenty dollar bills and a bottle of whisky – the cheap kind. Doc had anesthetized the man with a ball peen hammer, and had driven him back to his office.

His “office” was an abandoned warehouse in the Garment District. This warehouse was surrounded by other warehouses, but they were either abandoned or unoccupied at this time of night, so he could have plenty of privacy (or so he had thought).

The man had woken up a couple of times during the operation, screaming and thrashing about. Doc had anesthetized him both times with the hammer. He had spoken soothingly to the man, explaining that it would all be over soon, and that he would be much better afterwards, but the man had been inconsolable. What an ungrateful bastard! His screams had attracted the attention of some homeless people drinking on a curb nearby, and they had flagged down a passing police cruiser. An hour or so later when the cops had come crashing in, Doc had been up to his elbows in the man’s body cavity, and moments away from curing him of his cancer.

The cops who responded to the scene testified in court later about how Doc had seemed indignant at the “rude interruption,” and had insisted that they all wear surgical masks and gowns. The cops had thrown him to the floor breaking his glasses and, he felt sure, causing nerve damage in his left wrist. Luckily, he thought, he was right handed, so he should still be able to operate.

Doc was so lost in thought as he crossed the back yard of the farmhouse, that he was caught completely off guard when a screaming, flailing man charged into him. Doc heard a scream escape his lips as the man had crashed into him, and as they both crashed to the ground, he felt his bowels scream as well, and he felt his pants fill with the hellish contents of his intestines. Why is this monster attacking me? thought Doc as he grabbed the man’s right wrist with his left hand. This demon had some kind of long bladed weapon in his right hand, and he was trying to strike him with it. The man’s right wrist broke free (“I knew I had nerve damage in that wrist,” he thought), and Doc felt a sharp, searing pain in his left arm. Doc tried to lift his left arm, but nothing happened. His shirt felt wet, and suddenly, to his horror, he realized that the man had lopped off his left arm just below the shoulder. He heard another scream escape his lips, and his pants filled even more. Everything started swimming and then he lost consciousness moments later.

 

 

Chapter 7

Melissa Grimsley awoke with a start. “Was that a scream I just heard?” She shook her head to clear it and lay still in the bed for another minute, straining her ears for any sound that might clue her in on what noise had woken her from such a sound sleep.

After a minute more, she shook her head in disgust, and wondered to herself why she had begun to imagine things. She had never been afraid of the dark, or any of the things that dwelt in it, especially out here in the country. Melissa had been raised in the country and found the darkness soothing.

This had been an especially dark night, with clouds covering the waning moon, and her bedroom was pitch dark as she lay there in bed listening for unusual noises. She rolled over and reached for Fred, but he wasn’t in bed next to her. This was no surprise to her as he usually got up early. She and Fred had been married for more years than she cared to think about (Only because this made her feel old), but Fred always slept next to her in their king sized bed and she missed his warmth.

The bed had been a present that Fred had given her for their twentieth anniversary, and Fred had surprised her with it when she had come back from town that day. Melissa remembered how she had come into the bedroom shucking off her purse and kicking off her “going to town” shoes, when she had noticed the big bed with Fred lying atop it wearing nothing but a grin and a bow placed on a certain part of his anatomy. Melissa had started laughing uncontrollably, and thought with amusement, “What would that fool have done if my sister had come home with me instead of going to her own home after the store. Boy would that have been a surprise for all concerned!”

Melissa finally decided that she had better get up and check out the source of the scream that had awoken her at this early hour. She scrambled out of bed and stumbled out of the bedroom and down the hall toward the back door. “Did Fred stumble across a snake again?” She mumbled. Melissa heard an inhuman moan and a struggle coming from outside near the chicken coop. She grabbed a flashlight and opened the back door. She shined the light in the direction of the chicken coop, but she didn’t see anything. She stepped out into the wet grass.

The grass felt cool and damp beneath her bare feet as she walked all the way to the chicken coop. She swept the beam of the flashlight from side to side, but didn’t see anything on the way there. She opened the gate and called out, “Fred, you in here?” She got no answer, so she poked her head into the coop, and saw the chickens milling around pecking at the ground. Fred, however, was not there. Next, she shined the flashlight at the ground, and the beam crossed her feet. Why are my feet red? What was that? She thought. A second later, she realized that her feet were covered in blood. “What in the world!”

She left the coop and retraced her steps carefully. After a few steps, she saw a dark patch in the grass, and realized it was a puddle of blood! She quickly surmised that this was more blood than she had seen in one place before. Oh God, she thought, please don’t let this be Fred’s blood.

Melissa ran back to the house, but as she ran, she heard footsteps behind her gaining on her like a wild animal. She sprinted for the back door, but the footsteps behind her just kept getting closer and closer. As she reached for the doorknob, something really big and heavy crashed into her, and after a brief moment of excruciating pain, she lost consciousness.

Chapter 8

Edward “Slasher” Slater and Diablo had hidden in the tree line, when they had seen the farmer come out the back door of the farmhouse. They tried to signal Doc to hide, but he was in his own world, and didn’t notice them. They watched in silence as Doc followed the farmer across the dark yard toward the chicken coop.

When the crazy farmer had come screaming and hollering out of the coop waving a blade, and doc had screamed like a little girl, Slasher had had to bite his lip to hold back the laughter. When Doc and the farmer had gone tumbling to the ground, Slasher had started to move toward them. Just before he was able to reach them, Slasher saw a spray of blood and heard a “thunk” sound. Slasher saw Doc’s arm on the ground, and grabbed it in a grotesque handshake. He raised the severed limb over his head, and hit the farmer with it across the back of his head as hard as he could. The farmer dropped like a sack of potatoes.

Slasher and Diablo grabbed the two unconscious men and dragged them into the trees. A few seconds later, Slasher saw a flashlight beam coming from the direction of the farmhouse. As he watched, a woman walked across the yard toward the chicken coop. He heard her call out to someone named Fred, and then she exited the coop walking slowly and deliberately back toward the farmhouse. She seemed to pause for a second, looking down, and then she broke into a run. Slasher took off after her. He had to reach her before she reached the door. He ducked his head and dipped his right shoulder like he had been taught by his football coach years ago.

Slasher hit the woman in the back so hard, when they hit the door, it splintered into a million pieces, and they went through it without even slowing down. He heard a symphony of pops and cracks coming from the woman as they hit the floor together. When Slasher got to his feet, he noticed that the woman lay there lifeless. “Damn!” he said, guess she didn’t make a first down after all.” Slasher looked at her and said, “I guess this just wasn’t your day.”

Slasher didn’t kill for fun; he killed for necessity. If someone stood between him and his freedom, he would kill them mercilessly, but he wasn’t actively looking for victims. When he had been a cutlery salesman, he had hated rejection. When a sale went bad, he felt that his job had been threatened, so he had taken it out on his clients. Prison had been tough for him, because other inmates had stolen his food, so he made sure they wouldn’t ever do it again. His lawyer had obviously been incompetent, because he hadn’t been able to convince the jury to acquit him. If he knew where the jurors lived, he would have prevented them from finding anyone guilty ever again, as well.

While he had been in prison, he had found out where the judge lived, and that he was allergic to bee stings, so he had arranged for a beehive to be shipped to his house. The news reported that after being stung over one hundred times, the judge had died of anaphylactic shock. Slasher’s weapon of choice, of course, was a knife. He was quite talented with a knife, having worked in a slaughterhouse as a teenager for several years.

It occurred to Slasher that they had better find a car and get away from here as soon as possible.

Chapter 9

Diablo came in through the back door and looked at the lifeless body on the floor. He felt the anger boil up in him and his head started to throb. He turned on Slasher, who was standing there with a victorious grin on his face. He looked at Slasher in utter disbelief. Denied again! This simpleton had ruined everything! He had so wanted to capture these souls, but now, one was dead and the other was lying unconscious in the tree line. Diablo turned to Slasher “you idiot! You should have controlled yourself, we could have used a hostage in case the police catch up to us.”

“What about the farmer?” asked Slasher.

“He’s alive, but nobody cares about a broken down old man. A woman on the other hand is easier to control, and the cops don’t want to see a woman get killed. Besides,” Diablo said, “he cut Doc’s arm off, and I think Doc will kill him anyway if we try to take him with us.”

Diablo and Slasher wandered around the house looking for anything useful. Diablo wondered why anyone would want to live like this. He couldn’t imagine himself living in a farmhouse out in the country, and to him it sounded like torture. Why would anyone want to live like this? Diablo looked at the pictures on the walls, and became even angrier. What gave these people the right to be happy?

In a blind fit of rage, Diablo grabbed a chair and started smashing the pictures on the walls, and screaming curses at the happy couple in the photographs. Slasher stood there watching him at a distance in amusement, wondering how long this fit would last, until, he finally cleared his throat and told Diablo that the police would be searching for them soon and this was not really productive.

The house turned out to be a typical country house, and he was surprised at how uncluttered it was. This family obviously lived a simple, uncomplicated life, and didn’t believe in cluttering their lives with many unnecessary items. The only luxury he had seen during his search of the house had been the king sized bed in the bedroom, and it looked like it was several years old. Slasher thought that if he ever settled down, he would like to live very much like this. He longed to live a simple, uncomplicated life, far away from other people, especially psychos like Diablo.

Slasher thought about how Diablo was likely to get them caught if he couldn’t keep his temper under control. Slasher imagined what it would be like to slash Diablo’s throat, and watch as he thrashed about in much the same way he was doing now. He imagined seeing blood spray from the arterial wounds, and cover the walls in bright red arcs like a modern masterpiece. He shook his head snapping out of it. He knew that he needed to remain focused if he was going to be able to escape the police and live free.

After a few minutes, Diablo wound down, and collapsed in a bench in the foyer of the house. He shook his head as if coming out of a dream, and looked at the damage he had done. There were holes in the walls, and broken furniture and glass littered the floor. So much for not leaving a trail, he thought.

“Feel better now?” asked Slasher.

“Yes,” said Diablo, and he put his hands in his pockets. His pockets were full of gelatinous goo. He pulled them out slowly only to discover that the eggs he had stuffed there from the henhouse had all broken. “Gross!” he said.

“There goes breakfast,” said Slasher.

“Don’t worry, I’ve still got one right here,” he said slapping his chest pocket. They both heard a squish as the egg in his chest pocket broke as well. This actually caused Slasher to erupt in a fit of laughter, and seemed to improve Diablo’s mood as well.

After a brief search, Slasher found a set of car keys. The car, a 1974 Buick Roadmaster, was parked in the garage. This was the biggest car Slasher had ever seen, and it barely fit in the garage. Slasher grabbed some bed sheets and threw them on the back seat of the car. He knew that Doc was going to be a mess, and didn’t want to get blood all over the seats. Slasher told Diablo to give him a hand-loading Doc into the car, and they both walked back to where they had left the bodies of Doc and the farmer.

Chapter 10

Fred awoke in the bushes with a throbbing head and disoriented. What happened? There was blood all over him, and after a quick self-assessment he realized that the blood wasn’t his own. Suddenly he remembered what had happened before he had been knocked out. He turned to his left and saw the man he had been fighting with lying on the ground a few feet away. The way he figured it, whoever had knocked him out would soon be back. He had to move, and he had to do it now.

Fred low crawled through the underbrush until he was far enough away that he didn’t think anyone would see him, and then he stood up and walked toward the house in a wide circle. As he made his way back toward the house, he noticed that the garage door was wide open and his car was still inside. Fred crouched low and listened for sounds coming from the garage. When he didn’t hear any, he made his way around to the front of the house. He paused again to listen and see if he could detect any movement coming from the house. After a few seconds, he ran to the front door and gently eased it open.

The house was still dark inside, and Fred quickly searched the house for Melissa. A cold prickly sensation came over him when he noticed that she wasn’t in bed. Fearing the worst, Fred gritted his teeth and threaded his way toward the back door. In his haste, he nearly tripped over an object on the floor in the kitchen. On closer inspection, he discovered that it was his wife lying face down on the kitchen floor. He gasped in horror when he turned her over and saw a broken and bloodied face. He felt for a pulse, but couldn’t find one. Fred started to give her C.P.R. but her ribs felt broken, so he stopped, because he couldn’t handle the feeling of the broken ribs under his hands as he tried to give her chest compressions. The poor broken creature lying on the kitchen floor looked so frail and helpless now.

Fred fought back tears as he walked to his bedroom closet, where he retrieved a Mossberg model 500 12 GA pump shotgun. He kept the shotgun hidden among a pile of folded blankets on a shelf over the hung clothes. He had replaced the standard stock of the gun with a pistol-grip stock, and it had a sixteen-inch barrel, so he could maneuver it in tight places. He grabbed a box of shotgun shells, and emptied it into his pockets. He was wearing his BDU pants from his Army days, so he had nice, big pockets. Fred was furious, and he had to bite back the anger and keep a cool head if he was going to get out of this alive. For a moment, he debated running away, but that was not in his nature, and besides, these animals should pay for what they did to Melissa.

Fred grabbed the cordless phone in the kitchen and dialed 911. When an operator answered, he briefly told them where he was and what he had witnessed, saying that his wife lay dead on the kitchen floor and that the suspects were somewhere in his yard. He gave a description of his car and told the operator that it looked like the suspects planned to take his car when they left. He set the phone down on the counter without hanging up, and stealthily entered the garage.

Chapter 11

About a mile away, Steve was fighting his way through the thick underbrush. He was headed back to the patrol car, having all but given up on tracking these guys. With every step, he cursed the brambles and branches that seemed to reach out for him to hinder his progress. He was no tracker like Tom was, so he figured he’d get back out to the main road and travel in the general direction that the escapees had gone. He reached the car and hopped in with a sigh of relief.

Steve turned the key and smiled at the satisfying roar of the engine. Cool air washed over him from the air conditioner, and he let it envelope him for a minute before he put the car in gear and left the dump behind. The radio crackled to life, as the dispatcher announced a home invasion robbery and homicide at Fred Grimsley’s house, which was in the direction that the escapees had gone. He answered the call and pulled out onto the main road.

Steve headed East, in the direction the escapees had gone. After a few minutes, Steve saw a mailbox next to a gravel driveway on the right side of the road. The house, which was hidden from the road, was set back from the road about hundred yards, and was barely visible through the trees. This was the Grimsley’s house, and it was, by his estimation the closest house to the dump, so if the escapees had continued in the same direction they had started out in, they should be here.

Steve pulled over onto the shoulder, and turned off the headlights. He drove the car into the tree line and turned off the engine. Years ago he had learned to disconnect the fuse that controlled the interior dome light, so the lights wouldn’t come on when he opened the door of the car. He carefully opened the driver’s door and slipped out, closing the door gently behind him. He carefully threaded his way through the trees and underbrush toward the house, avoiding the driveway and being careful not to step on anything that would make noise.

Steve could see lights through the trees, and knew that this must be the house. He felt a sense of urgency, but knew that he had to approach stealthily to keep the element of surprise. He saw movement near the house, but couldn’t tell what was going on yet, because of the distance between him and the house, and the heavy underbrush.

A minute or so later, Steve heard the engine come to life, and heard gravel crunching under the tires of a car. Steve fought his way through the underbrush, and realized that the only way to intercept the car was by fighting his way back to the driveway. The bushes and trees seemed to fight him all the way to the driveway, but he desperately fought against them, and finally prevailed, stumbling out onto the driveway and falling to his hands and knees. “Get up!” he hissed at himself, as a vehicle came into view. Steve quickly crawled back into the bushes and came to his feet, cursing his clumsiness.

The car, an old Buick Roadmaster, was creeping up the driveway slowly with the headlights off. Steve could make out at least two silhouettes through the windshield, and as the car drew closer, he recognized the driver as one of the fugitives. He believed that this was the one nicknamed “Diablo.”

Chapter 12

Tom could see a farmhouse through the trees. He had followed the path that the escapees had taken through the woods, and had finally caught up with them, he hoped. Tom carefully picked his way through the underbrush in the direction that the escapees had gone and quietly drew his weapon. Tom had been issued a Sig Saur P220 pistol by the department. It was a very accurate weapon, and held twelve .40 caliber rounds in the magazine and one in the chamber. Tom kept his weapon low along the seam of his pants, and crept toward the clearing. The sun was about to come up, and the sky was beginning to lighten.

Just before he reached the clearing, Tom tripped over an object on the ground. He steadied himself, and reached down to feel what he had tripped over. It took a couple of seconds for him to realize what the object was, but when he did, he dropped it like it had been on fire. It was an arm! A human arm, and by the looks of it a left arm. “What the hell,” he muttered to himself. Tom searched for the owner of the arm, but all he found was a massive amount of blood all over the ground. As far as he knew, arms didn’t just spontaneously fall off of people, so someone had been attacked, probably by one of the escapees, and had lost an arm, ouch!

Tom quickly scanned the yard in front of him, and saw a dark spot on the yard about twenty feet away. This must have been where the victim had been attacked, he thought. Whoever this arm belonged to would either be dead or in serious need of medical assistance. Tom thought he had heard a scream earlier, but had thought at the time that it was a wildcat or something. The hairs on the back of his neck felt as if they were standing straight up, and he started sweating, even though it was nearly fifty degrees outside.

With a sense of urgency, Tom ran along the tree line toward the house, keeping low. He stealthily made his way to the house scanning for any sign of life. The back door looked as if it had been kicked in, and when he sneaked a quick peek into what appeared to be the kitchen, he saw a body lying on the floor.

Tom approached the body, noticing that it was a motionless woman, who appeared to be either badly injured or dead. He put his head to her chest and looked for the rise and fall of her chest. He felt for a pulse, and thought he felt something, so he grabbed a glass and put it to her lips, looking for her breath to fog the glass. She was breathing, but barely. He hated to leave her, but knew that the fugitives may still be lurking in the house. He quickly scanned the kitchen, and found the telephone off the hook. He picked it up and realized that the emergency dispatcher was still on the line. He asked the dispatcher to send a life flight unit to the address with paramedics, because the victim was still alive, but barely.

Tom heard the sound of a car starting, and he made his way to the door leading to the garage from the kitchen. There were no lights on in the house, and as he entered the garage, he noticed that the garage door was open. The garage was empty, but he heard the sound of a car on the other side of the house, with the unmistakable crunching sound of a car driving on gravel. Tom sprinted out of the garage and onto the driveway in time to see taillights disappear in the distance. A second later, he heard gunshots coming from the direction in which the car had traveled. Tom grabbed his cell phone, and called Steve.

Chapter 13

When Fred had entered the garage, he had slit the sidewalls of both rear tires with a carpet knife he kept on a counter in his garage. This, he hoped, would cause the tires to go flat in a couple of miles. Fred had grabbed the spare set of keys from a peg on the wall next to the kitchen door, and now he quietly opened the trunk and climbed in. He took off his belt and wrapped it around the trunk latch so it wouldn’t close all the way, and gently eased the trunk lid down until it looked like it was closed.

Fred thought about Melissa and a mixture of sadness and rage welled up in him. How could anyone hurt such a sweet, kind woman? Where would they stop? Fred felt that it was going to be up to him to stop these animals. He was going to make them pay for killing Melissa.

As Fred lay there in the dark, he heard people approaching the car dragging something. He heard a door opening, and something heavy was tossed into the back seat. There was a groan from the back seat, and the car door closed. A few seconds later, two people entered the car and sat down. Fred could feel the car bounce slightly, the old leaf springs groaning under their weight. These guys must be pretty big, Fred thought, judging by the way the car bounced when they sat down in it.

The engine turned on and the car began to move forward. Fred heard the crunching of gravel under the tires, so they must be moving slowly up the driveway toward the main road. Every muscle in his body was tensed. He had to be ready to pounce and move fast when the car came to a stop. He figured that one or both of the tires would go flat or blow out soon, and when these morons got out to check, he would give them a hot lead breakfast.

Fred imagined the scenario in his mind, and visualized what he would have to do to stop these animals. He saw the tire exploding, and the criminals cursing as they pulled to the side of the road. He visualized them getting out of the car and walking to the back of it to check out what had happened. He saw them kicking the tires in disgust and going to open the trunk. He saw the trunk opening and the shocked look on their faces as they stared into the barrel of Fred’s shotgun. Their shock turned to anger as they made their fatal (and final) mistake of underestimating him. Fred visualized himself pulling the trigger and racking the slide as fast as he could, stopping only when he heard the click of the firing pin falling on an empty chamber. He saw a wisp of smoke rising from the barrel of the gun as he imagined himself climbing out of the trunk victorious. He imagined reloading the shotgun as he walked around to the side of the car. Then he saw himself opening the car door and visualized the one-armed criminal lying there bleeding all over the interior of the car.

Fred was abruptly brought back to reality a few seconds later by the pop, pop, pop sound of gunshots, and the shattering of glass. A hole appeared in the trunk lid, and he heard a whizz-thud sound as a bullet slammed into the side of the trunk inches from his right foot. “Holy crap, that was close,” he muttered to himself. He heard a gargled scream come from the front of the car, and suddenly the car rapidly accelerated wildly, throwing Fred around in the trunk. Fred almost lost his grip on the belt when the car made a sharp right turn onto the road, tires screaming in protest. With these idiots driving like this, he thought, it would probably only be seconds before the rear tires blew out.

Chapter 14

Diablo had walked through the backyard with Slasher to check on Doc and the farmer. Too bad this idiot had killed the woman. They could have used her as a hostage. At least, he thought, he might still be able to steal the farmer’s soul when they got a safe distance away. Right now, he wanted to put as much space between himself and that hellhole of a prison as possible. At last, they reached the place where they had dragged the two unconscious men. To his astonishment, Doc was the only one there. He looked bad and smelled even worse. What the hell, he thought. Not only did Doc get his arm lopped off, but he crapped his pants. “Oh, wonderful!” Diablo said, “He is leaking out of everywhere.”

“Where the hell is the farmer?” said Slasher.

“I don’t know. Maybe he ran away. I know that’s what I’d do if I was him.”

“Let’s get outta here,” said Slasher.

Diablo grabbed Doc around the chest from behind, with his arms under Doc’s remaining arm and the stump that used to be his left arm, and dragged him backward toward the house. “Damn, this guy’s slippery,” said Diablo.

“Yeah, that’s what happens when you get blood all over you,” said Slasher.

He would know, thought Diablo. It was rumored that Slasher had killed a dozen or more people with a knife, and watched them bleed out. Diablo admired his style. Slasher’s killings were all up close and personal. He got to watch their souls leave their bodies and the light to leave their eyes. He wanted to experience this again so badly it hurt. It was a deep ache, like homesickness, and he yearned for this like a small child yearns for home.

They finally made it back to the garage and Slasher opened the back door of the car for Diablo, who heaved Doc inside. Diablo got into the driver’s seat and fired up the engine. He loved these old cars. They were built like tanks and had plenty of power. They were also very roomy, and you didn’t feel crowded when you drove them.

Diablo steered the car around to the front of the house, and turned onto the driveway. He drove up the long driveway through the woods, thinking that these people were smart. You couldn’t have seen the house from the main road, so they had all the privacy they wanted. Diablo rounded a slight curve and the main road came into view.

At that moment, shots rang out and all hell broke loose. The windshield exploded, and a bullet hit the headrest behind his head and the headrest exploded. Then the passenger window exploded and blood splattered all over the side of his face. Something wet dropped into his lap. When he looked over at Slasher, he looked like something out of a horror movie. A bullet had passed through his face at the jaw line, and his tongue hung down like a necktie. Diablo looked at his lap, and realized that Slasher’s lower jaw bone was lying in his lap, and had been blown completely out of Slasher’s face.

A third shot struck the back passenger window and went through the rear window into the trunk. Diablo punched the gas pedaled as hard as he could, and the car lurched forward spinning tires and spitting gravel. “Holy Crap!” he shouted. “What was that about?” An unearthly scream escaped Slasher as he reached for his jawbone and stuffed it back into his mouth.

Chapter 15

Steve stepped out from the bushes as the car approached his hiding spot beside the driveway. He drew his pistol and aimed at the driver through the windshield of the car. Steve took aim with his pistol, and just as he was about to shout “Stop, Police!” the headlights turned on blinding him. Steve squeezed the trigger as he dove out of the way of the car, which was now bearing down on him. His first shot struck the windshield and seemed to deflect, because it missed the driver by an inch to the left. When he fired again, the car was almost even with him, and he was sure that he had struck at least one of the occupants. He fired a third time, but the shot went wild, shattering the rear passenger window and back window of the car.

The car accelerated and made a right turn onto the main road, fishtailing on the loose gravel and spraying Steve with rocks, which bounced off his chest and head as he shielded his face with his arm. Steve struggled to his feet again, and ran up the driveway to the road. He had to make it back to his car before the other car drove out of sight.

Just then, his cell phone rang. He answered it, discovering that it was Tom calling. “Where the hell are you?” he asked.

“Who was doing the shooting?” asked Tom

“I did. When I saw the car, I fired two times. I think I hit one of them, but can’t be sure.

“I was running up the driveway, when I heard the shots.”

Steve got in the car and fired up the engine just as Tom arrived. They took off in a cloud of dust in the direction that the other car had gone. Steve knew what his car was capable of, and knew that he could overtake almost any car on the road, but he also knew that if the other car turned off on a side road, they might lose the car.

Steve and Tom were hurtling down the road at breakneck speed, and the car was actually getting airborne at the crest of every hill. After a minute or so of desperately trying to catch up to the criminals, they finally caught sight of the other car. The car was about a quarter mile ahead of them, and they were gaining fast. They saw the other car’s tail lights disappear over a hill ahead of them. When they came over the hill, the other car was nowhere in sight.

Steve turned to Tom and asked him, “Did you see a turn off back there?”

“No,” said Tom.

“How did we lose them so fast?”

“Maybe they crashed.”

Steve slammed on the brakes, and turned the car around. “Maybe they died and we can stop searching for them and go home,” said Tom.

“We couldn’t get that lucky,” said Steve.

Steve had to drive about a mile and a half back to where he guessed they had lost the other car. “They killed Mrs. Grimsley back at that house,” Steve said.

“No, they nearly killed her, but hopefully she’ll be alright. I found her in the kitchen and she was still breathing,” Tom said.

“Was Mr. Grimsley around?”

“No, but he must have called 911, because the phone was off the hook when I got there. He must have thought she was dead when he called.”

“Man he must be pissed,” Steve said.

Chapter 16

“Aaaaaaagh!” screamed Slasher as he desperately tried to stuff his jawbone back into his gaping mouth. This screaming, along with the flying glass, the thunderous boom, boom, boom of the gunshots, and the crazy fishtailing of the car, woke Doc in the back seat. “What happened, and where am I?” Doc moaned. He looked at the stump where his left arm had been and everything seemed to come into focus. Slasher and Diablo had packed the wound with bed sheets, and the bleeding had apparently stopped for now. He had to admit that for a couple of knuckleheads, they had done a pretty good job of stopping the bleeding and wrapping the wound. He realized that he must have lost a substantial amount of blood, and this worried him, but he felt confident that he would survive if he managed to somehow avoid the cops that would surely be searching for him by now.

He sat up a little, just enough to get a look at Slasher, who looked positively grotesque fumbling with his lower jaw. Now that was disgusting! Diablo turned to Doc and said, “Can you fix him, Doc?”

Surely he was joking, doc thought, but since Diablo wasn’t smiling, and Slasher was still screaming, Doc surmised that he must be serious. “First, we have to get to a place where we have some privacy. Then I will need some basic medical supplies.”

“What medical supplies?” Asked Diablo.

When Slasher heard Doc and Diablo talking about fixing him, he screamed even louder. He had, after all heard about the “operations” Doc had performed, and he wanted no part of that.

The car was practically flying down the road, and when they came to a small hill, the car went airborne. When the car landed, there was an explosion, and the car started swerving out of control. “Crap!” shouted Diablo, “we must have had a blowout.” The car swerved off the road, and fortunately avoided hitting the trees directly, which lined the road. The car went careening through the bushes bouncing off of trees and rocks, until it finally came to rest on a tree stump. Oh well, thought Doc, it looks as if we will be going the rest of the way on foot.

The three of them climbed out of the car through the windows. Doc was still unsteady on his feet and very weak, so Diablo helped him along. They stumbled along away from the road. After about thirty minutes, they came to a barn at the edge of a field. The field was fenced in, so something was probably grazing there. Maybe a cow or a horse, thought Doc. That would be nice, if it was a horse, maybe they could ride it out of there. If it was a cow, maybe they could get milk from it or kill it and eat steak.

They entered the barn, and Diablo exclaimed: “Well, Doc, you wanted privacy, here it is. Do your magic, and fix Slasher.”

Doc looked around and saw a stool in the corner. He plunked Slasher on it and looked around. He found a hammer and advanced on Slasher.

Slasher screamed even louder and jumped to his feet, knocking the stool down as he backed into the corner.

Diablo looked at Doc with the hammer and open his mouth to speak, but nothing came out. He tried again, “what are you trying to do?”

“ I am merely trying to anesthetize Slasher before I try to fix him.”

“He will probably be just fine without having to use the hammer on him, Doc.”

Slasher began animatedly nodding his head in agreement.

“Ok, have it you way, but this is probably going to hurt a lot,” said Doc.

Slasher sat on the stool again, reluctantly, and Doc took a look at the man’s ruined jaw. The bullet has hit the jawbone about halfway between the ear and the chin, and besides having dislocated it and ripped it completely out of the man’s face, it had knocked out six teeth. If he were able to reconnect the jawbone with Slasher’s skull, he would still need to think of some way to stabilize it, at least temporarily so it could heal.

Diablo looked around the barn and came back with a roll of duct tape and a spool of bailing wire. Doc stared at these items in utter disbelief. “Primates!” he muttered to himself. Nonetheless, he had nothing else, so he would have to make do.

Doc manipulated Slasher’s jawbone until he felt it pop into the socket. Slasher screamed and passed out. Luckily, he fell backwards, or it might have undone Doc’s work. Doc grabbed the duct tape and wrapped it around Slasher’s head and under his chin several times. He made sure slasher could open his lips enough to get water or soup so he wouldn’t starve to death. He stood back and surveyed his work. Not bad, he thought, but he felt that the Hello Kitty duct tape was a nice touch. Apparently this farmer had a daughter or a wicked sense of humor. As a finishing touch, Doc made a set of bunny ears out of the duct tape and affixed it to the top of Slasher’s head. When Diablo saw this, he started laughing uncontrollably. “You are a real character, Doc!” he chuckled.

Chapter 17

Fred woke up in the trunk of the Buick wondering what had happened. He assessed the damage, and came to the conclusion that the car had somehow gone airborne, and when it had hit the ground, he had been knocked out by the jack in the trunk of the car. It also appeared that he had accidentally fired the shotgun through the side of the trunk and into the left rear tire, which had exploded dramatically, causing the car to skid out of control. He slowly opened the trunk and listened for any noises that would indicate that these criminals were still around.

Hearing no such noises, he slipped out of the trunk silently and moved carefully to the front of the car. They were gone! Now he would have to track them down and exact his revenge. They were going to pay for what they did to Melissa! In his mind, he still saw his sweet Melissa lying there on the kitchen floor, and felt guilty for not being there for her. She didn’t deserve to die alone. He imagined her lying there face down on the floor, and wondered when the floor had been swept last, and hoped that it had been swept recently. Tears started to come, but he fought them back, thinking that he needed to put his emotions behind him and get the job done.

Fred looked around until he spotted their trail. They couldn’t be traveling very fast, because at least two of them were injured. He was unsure how long he had been unconscious, but judging by the fact that the engine was still warm, he figured that they had a thirty-minute or less head start on him. Fred surveyed the damage to his car, and noticed that there were dents and scratches on nearly every square inch of the car. “No respect,” he muttered to himself. “These idiots wouldn’t know a classic if it bit them in the butt.” Sadly, he thought, this car was probably worth more than the idiots who stole it.

Fred made his way through the woods cautiously but quickly. He didn’t want to stumble into them unaware, because they might get the drop on him. After about fifteen minutes, he spied a barn next to a pasture. He thought he recognized the barn, and believed that it belonged to one of his neighbors, George Green. If that was the case, he wondered if George had put up his prized bull or if it was still grazing in this field.

Last year, Fred had encountered George’s bull in this pasture while he had been looking for the chicken thieves. He had tracked them to this pasture, and made it about halfway across it before he saw the bull. He had slowly and calmly started retracing his steps, when the bull had turned around and had seen Fred. Fred remembered running for his life, and barely getting away.

Fred tiptoed to the barn, and peeked through a knothole in the wall of the barn. What he saw made him start giggling uncontrollably. He bit back the laughter and clamped a hand over his mouth. What a bunch of clowns, he thought. One of them was wrapped in bed sheets like he was wearing a toga, one of them looked like some kind of deranged bunny rabbit, and the other was laughing his head off at the one with the bunny ears. This was just too entertaining to interrupt, so Fred silently watched as the situation unfolded.

When the man on the floor with the bunny ears woke up, the one who had been laughing told them that they had better keep moving if they didn’t want to get caught. They started out of the barn and Fred started to move toward the barn door. Fred suddenly stopped himself when he realized what these three boobs were about to do. “This should be really funny,” Fred mumbled under his breath. The “troublesome trio,” as Fred was now calling them, exited the barn and began to cross the pasture.

Chapter 18

Steve and Tom slowed the car and searched for signs of the stolen vehicle. After passing by the place where the car had run off the road several times, they finally saw tread marks leading into the bushes. They pulled over and parked the car beside the road. Getting out of the car, they noticed tire tracks leading into the woods. After a few minutes, they came across the car. The car had come to a rest about fifty yards into the woods, after bouncing off nearly every tree along the way. It was definitely not going anywhere now.

The car had finally come to a rest on top of a tree stump with the front wheels completely off the ground. The left rear tire looked like someone had shot it with a very large gun, and there were bullet holes in the windows and trunk.

“What the heck happened here?” asked Steve.

“I shot the windshield and side window, and I think that the hole in the trunk was my third shot, but I never shot the tires.”

“It looks like the tire was shot out, but by who?”

They opened the trunk and discovered a hole in the side of the trunk. It smelled like cordite in the trunk, indicating that the gun had been a shotgun.

“What do you think did that?” asked Steve.

“Not what, who. If I had to make a guess, I’d say they inadvertently picked up a very pissed off stowaway somehow.”

“Do you think it is the farmer from the house where they stole the car?” Steve asked.

“I don’t know, but we’d better find these guys before he does.”

Tom could only imagine how angry this farmer must be after thinking that these jackasses had killed his wife. For a minute or two he considered slowing the search a little to give the farmer a chance to even the score, but then he realized that this wouldn’t help the situation at all, and he really didn’t want to have to arrest this poor farmer for murder.

They made their way through the woods as quickly as they dared, knowing that there were three fugitives and a pissed off farmer ahead of them somewhere in the woods. The woods were thick, and both Steve and Tom could see dozens of places that could have been used for an ambush.

After what seemed like an hour (but was probably closer to fifteen minutes), Steve grabbed Tom and signaled for him to stop and be quiet. Steve and Tom could hear muffled voices coming from a short distance ahead. They inched ahead until they came upon a barn next to a pasture a few minutes later.

The barn was old but seemed in good shape. The voices they had heard must have come from inside the barn, thought Steve. They crept up on the barn for a closer look, and saw a knothole in one of the boards nearby. Tom peeked in, but didn’t see anyone there. Steve insisted on taking a peek as well, and reported that there was a stool in the middle of it.

Steve and Tom crept around the side of the barn until they noticed a large pasture on the other side of the barn. Once around the barn, they had a clear view of the pasture. They looked across the pasture and saw something that both of them would talk about for years to come.

Chapter 19

Doc, Slasher, and Diablo exited the barn and made their way across the field. This was way easier than traveling through the underbrush, so they should be able to make up some lost time this way. That trek through the woods had been harsh, and after all the excitement, they could really use a lucky break like this. About halfway across the field, Diablo suddenly stopped short. Slasher ran into him, and Doc ran into Slasher.

“What did you stop for?” asked Doc.

“I ran into him,” said Slasher, indicating Diablo, who was now standing there concentrating.

“What’s up, Diablo?” Doc asked.

“Shh, I thought I heard something.”

Suddenly they heard a loud, deep snort coming from the other side of a rise. Diablo slowly walked forward straining to see over the rise, and then they heard the sound of thundering hoof beats running toward them.

Diablo said, “awesome, a horse. Now if we can catch him, we will be able to go twice as fast.” Soon, however, they realized that he was only half right. They were definitely going to travel twice as fast, but it was definitely not a horse. An enormous bull came charging at them. This was the largest animal Slasher had ever seen. He stood frozen in fright as the thousand pound four-legged freight train barreled down on them. Somehow, Diablo thought, we have really pissed off this bull, and now he wants to kill us. “Run!” he yelled at the other two.

This snapped Slasher out of his trance, and the three of them took off running back toward the relative safety of the barn. All of a sudden a crazy man with a shotgun appeared between them and the barn.

“Hey, isn’t that the farmer from the farm house we were just at?” asked Diablo. Slasher whimpered and Doc soiled himself for the third time in as many hours. The farmer fired a shot at their feet, so the three convicts turned and ran toward the right side of the pasture, away from the bull and the farmer, who was already racking another shell into the chamber of the shotgun.

After running what seemed like a small marathon, Doc and Slasher made it over the fence unharmed, however, Diablo wasn’t as lucky. As he was climbing the fence, the bull caught him. The bull gored him in a place where, as the farmer would later describe it, “the sun don’t shine.” Even worse, the bull seemed to think that Diablo wanted to ride it, and this seemed to really make the bull crazy. Soon, Diablo was an unwilling participant in some kind of rodeo from hell, as the bull thrashed about, and Diablo was unable to get enough leverage to get off the bull’s horn. After what seemed like an eternity to Diablo, who was now fading in and out of consciousness, the bull threw him over the fence. Diablo landed in a heap, and Slasher grabbed him and dragged him along behind him as they ran as fast as they could through the woods.

Chapter 20

Fred stood next to the barn door and watched as the three criminals wandered into the pasture of the meanest bull he had ever seen. This bull was well known by anyone who lived in the area. If he ever managed to escape, you’d better lock up your kids, because he was convinced that this bull might try to eat them. This bull was both the biggest and the meanest bull in the state. Fred had seen George (the owner of the bull) try to load this bull onto a trailer to take him to a livestock auction last month, and the bull had all but destroyed the trailer. In the end, George had decided to come back later with a tranquilizer gun. In fact, Fred thought that George was supposed to cart this bull off today. He must be running late, Fred thought. Fred k

new that if George ever did get this bull to the livestock auction, he would likely be paid a small fortune for him.

Fred remembered how when he was teenager he had been in the 4H club at his school. He had raised a bull and had proudly taken him to the auction. Fred had worn his best suit, and led the bull into the chute awaiting his chance to parade the bull past the potential buyers. He had to wait about five minutes for the other competitor to finish parading his bull around the ring, and in that time, Fred’s bull snotted on him, peed on him, stomped on his foot, and tried to gut him with his horns. When the chute gate finally opened, Fred’s suit was torn and he was covered from head to toe with mud, snot, and bull urine. The buyers and judges had felt so sorry for Fred, that his bull had fetched a record price.

Fred was brought back to the present by what was happening in the pasture in front of him. What happened next was the funniest thing Fred had ever seen. The bull charged the three idiots, and they started running toward the barn. Fred aimed the shotgun at a spot just in front of the three criminals, and fired a shot at their feet to let them know that they were not welcome. They turned tail and ran for the fence, but the last one didn’t make it. The man looked like some kind of twisted ventriloquist dummy atop the bull, and he was being thrown around like a rag doll. “Man that’s gotta hurt!” exclaimed Fred through his laughter. Finally, after what seemed to him like a qualifying ride at any rodeo, the bull pitched the man over the fence and snorted at him for effect. Fred was now laughing so hard, he was crying.

After a minute or so, he finally regained his composure, and wiped his eyes. “Man did he have that coming to him,” said Fred. Seconds later, he was back in the barn, and was met by two police detectives. After explaining to the detectives what had happened, and how he had come to be standing in his neighbor’s cow pasture, the detectives asked which way the fugitives had gone. Fred showed them where they had gone over the fence, and offered to help track them. The detectives declined and told him to go home, but Fred had other ideas. He was going to try to warn George before he and his wife became victims as well.

Chapter 21

Steve and Tom shook their heads in disbelief as they walked away from the crazy farmer. Imagine, thinking he witnessed his wife’s death, and having the balls to crawl into the trunk of the getaway car! And to top that off, to follow them to this cow pasture so he could watch the show. Steve had to admit that the criminals had put on quite a show. One had looked like a Frat boy at a toga party, one had looked like a deranged rabbit, and one had tried to ride the wrong end of a bull.

“Wow,” said Steve, “That guy won’t be able to sit for a month!”

“Yeah, he won’t be driving the getaway car, that’s for sure.”

It suddenly occurred to Tom that Fred didn’t know that his wife was still alive. He turned around to tell the good news to Fred, but the old farmer was gone. “Did you see where that crazy old coot went?”

“No, isn’t he still here?”

“No, but I’ll bet we haven’t seen the last of him. As long as he thinks that his wife is dead, these guys had better watch their backs.”

Steve and Tom walked around the pasture fence to where the “troubled trio” had gone. There was a blood trail leading away from the fence toward George Green’s house, which was about a mile away.

“Why don’t these guys just give up and turn themselves in before they kill themselves?” Asked Steve

“I don’t think God is through punishing them for their sins yet. Besides, I am rather enjoying this.”

“Let’s just hope we catch up to them before Farmer Fred does,” Steve said.

Steve and Tom continued following the trail that the ill-fated fugitives had taken, but in the process, Steve twisted his ankle on a root. They stopped for a few minutes and assessed the damage. Steve’s foot had begun to swell and it was now throbbing in his shoe. Steve knew that he was going to have to suck it up and keep going or the three criminals would kill again. Steve found a stick and leaned on it for support. They were moving at a much slower pace now, but they knew that they could stumble on the trio anytime, so they had to remain cautious.

Steve remembered how he had been at summer camp when he was ten years old, and had gone on a hike with the other campers. They had come to a gorge, and found a grape vine to swing across the gorge with. The other campers began swinging across the gorge and landing safely on the other side. When it was his turn, Steve had gripped the vine and swung out over the gorge, only to realize that he was deathly afraid of heights. When it came time to let go and land on the other side, he suddenly realized that he couldn’t let go of the vine. He remembered chiding himself for his cowardice, and forced himself to let go of the vine, but now he had already started swinging back to the other side. Steve had plummeted to the bottom of the gorge, about twenty feet below, and had broken his arm in three places. The hike back to camp had been tough, but not as tough as having to watch everyone else have fun in the pool all summer while he had to wear a cast.

After what seemed like an eternity, they saw a clearing up ahead. In the middle of the clearing was a farmhouse. “Oh crap!” Tom said, “I hope we are not too late.”

“If George is a resourceful as Fred, we may have to save the criminals from him,” said Steve.

Chapter 22

Diablo drifted in and out of consciousness as Slasher dragged him along behind him. What the hell! He thought. Violated by a bull, really?! That was probably the most painful, if not the longest bull ride in history, he thought.

They seemed to be making pretty good time through the woods. Every now and then, Slasher would stop and adjust his grip on Diablo. Diablo was now fully awake, and in a lot of pain. He tried to walk, but felt broken and bowlegged. After a few minutes, he was able to walk fast enough that the others didn’t have to slow down to let him catch up.

They came across a farmhouse, and Diablo figured that the owner of the bull, which Diablo kept referring to as “Satan,” must live here. Boy did he have a present to give this guy, he thought. I am going to kill him slowly and painfully, thought Diablo. This guy was going to pay for what that stupid bull had done to him.

When they got to the back door of the house, Slasher saw his reflection in the window in the door. “Yooou baasaarrrsh!” he snarled through his taped jaw. He turned to Doc and lunged at him. Doc easily dodged him, and Slasher fell face first in a pile of dog crap. This infuriated him even more, and now he renewed his attack with vigor. He seemed to make it his life’s purpose to murder Doc.

Doc, on the other hand, found this extremely amusing. Here he was, after all, being pursued by, as he would later call it, a “shit faced bunny.”

 

Diablo was in no mood for this “horseplay,” as his father used to call it, and his mood was getting darker by the second. They were making enough noise to raise the dead, and he needed to kill. He thought about how he was going to steal this family’s souls, and it made him edgy. Why did he have to put up with these two? He tried the doorknob, and it turned easily in his hand. He slipped quietly into the house, leaving the other two morons rolling around on the ground outside.

Diablo knew that he would have to work fast if he wanted the element of surprise on his side. The sun was up now, and the clock on the stove in the kitchen read 7:30. The house was silent and still, so either the occupants had decided to sleep in, or nobody was home. He imagined the farmer and his wife sleeping on their bed, and imagined the look of horror on their faces when they saw him. Diablo wished secretly that he could somehow make himself look even scarier by wearing a hockey mask like in the movies. He made his way to the attached garage, after realizing that he didn’t have a weapon. Diablo was a realist, and realized that if he was going to have to kill two or more people, he was going to have to arm himself with something other than his bare hands.

He entered the garage and looked around. He found a nice sized monkey wrench and an axe. He opted for the axe, because it had greater reach, and it was just plain scarier looking. As he was leaving, he spotted an old metal welding mask lying next to the door. “Perfect!” he exclaimed. Now he felt that he was ready for action. As he made his way through the house, he practically skipped with glee.

Diablo wound his way through the house until he reached what he felt was the master bedroom. He donned the welding mask, hefted the axe, and turned the doorknob.

Suddenly, he realized two things that had not occurred to him: 1) Welding masks have tinted glass to protect a welder’s eyes, so they are almost impossible to see through unless there is a blinding flash of light (like the arc from a welding torch); and 2) axes make very cumbersome weapons, especially indoors.

Diablo opened the door to the bedroom and stumbled blindly into the room. He raised the axe over his head and instantly heard a thwack, as the axe was wrenched out of his hands. Immediately after the axe was wrenched out of his hands, Diablo saw a flash through the welding mask and heard a deafening blast come from the direction of the bed, and something really hard slammed into the welding mask. He felt himself flying backwards through the doorway as he lost consciousness.

 

Chapter 23

George and Betty Green had slept in that morning. George knew that he should go take the bull to the market this morning, but after the hellish experience he had last time, he was not in a hurry to do so. Besides, he thought, I will need to borrow someone’s cattle trailer.

He remembered how his bull, Maximo, had fought him the last time he tried to take him to the market. Maximo had fought him inside the trailer, and George barely escaped with his life. Before George had a chance to bolt the door, Maximo had managed to escape from the trailer. George remembered how he had watched helplessly as Maximo rammed the trailer again and again.

George rolled over in the bed and hugged Betty. She cuddled next to him and squirmed against him seductively. Hey now, he thought, this just got way better!

Betty Green was ten years younger than George, and very pretty. She had just turned thirty last month, and still looked like she was in her mid-twenties. She took good care of herself, exercising daily, and watching what she ate. She had curves in all the right places, and sure knew how to use them to her advantage.

George had met her at a rodeo in town ten years ago, and they had dated for six months before George had popped the question. She had been coy at first, enjoying torturing him a little by not answering him right away, but soon she caved in and said yes. He had been overjoyed, and picked her up and kissed her passionately on the lips. For a moment, they felt like they were the only two people on earth.

Five years later, Betty had gone to the doctor to find out why she was unable to get pregnant, and had been told that she would be unable to bear children. Betty had been heartbroken, but she wasn’t going to let it ruin her life. Betty and George had discussed it and had decided to adopt.

Betty had her heart set on a little girl, and George wanted a boy. They went to the classes they were required to attend, and were put on a waiting list. They were called by the Indiana Department of Child Services several times about children who were available for adoption, however, the children were always awarded to other families. Five years later, they were still waiting.

George fondled Betty’s breasts and kissed her on the back of the neck. “My, we’re feeling frisky this morning, aren’t we?” Betty cooed.

George pulled Betty in close and she gave him a few slow pelvic thrusts, and grinded against his leg. George let his left hand wander to her slim waistline, while he gently kissed her behind her ear. He traced the line between her perfect breasts and her cute bellybutton, and nibbled on her ear lobe playfully. George could hear Betty starting to breathe more heavily, and she started rubbing her beautiful bottom up against him.

“Glad to see something is awake this morning,” Betty teased. George told himself to take it slow, so Betty would be able to enjoy it more when the time came. George traced her bellybutton with his finger and slowly and lightly moved his hand downward. George always felt like a teenager discovering the wonders of the female anatomy for the first time every time he made love to Betty. Betty arched her back as George’s fingers found the right spot. A few minutes later Betty whispered, “take me now, George.”

Fifteen minutes later, George and Betty lay next to each other breathing heavily, thoroughly spent. Neither of them thought that they could move, and didn’t care if they ever moved again. George felt like his spirit had floated out of his body and was hovering above the bed. Betty thought that if she were ‘a cat she would purr. Wow, she thought, It just keeps getting better and better!

When they had married, she had been sexually inexperienced and had been really apprehensive on their wedding night. What if I suck at sex? She had thought to herself. Will he still want to be with me? The first time with George had been awkward, but fun, and they had made love seven times that night, staying up all night. The next day, neither of them could walk. They slept in and got up at two o’clock in the afternoon. She remembered that she had thought that she would be pregnant after that, but it wasn’t meant to be.

Maybe, she thought, God meant for us to adopt a child and bring this child peace and love, which she hadn’t known before.

A second later, there was a frantic knocking on the front door. George pulled on some clothes, and made his way to the door. This had better be an emergency, he thought, as he opened the door.

Fred was standing on the front doorstep with a crazy look in his eyes. He shouted for them to get out of the house and go to the Police station immediately. “What’s this all about, Fred?” asked George.

“Please, just trust me, “ Fred screamed, “your lives are in danger.”

Chapter 24

Fred had made his way back to the road, and had followed it running as fast as he could toward George’s house. When he got there, he ran to the door and pounded frantically on it until George finally answered it. Fred screamed to George that his life was in danger, and that he and Betty should leave as quickly as possible.

“What’s this all about, Fred?” said George.

Fred briefed George about what had happened. Fred told him, “If you don’t leave, these killers will be here any minute, and I don’t want you and your wife to become their next victims. I plan to fix the problem, and make sure that nobody else falls victim to these idiots.”

“I don’t believe in running away from my problems, and I’ve never shied away from a good fight.”

“At least make sure that Betty gets to safety first, George.”

“That I can do.”

George disappeared down the hallway, and a few minutes later, Betty appeared.

“Hi, Fred,” said Betty, as she put on a jacket and grabbed the car keys which were hanging on a peg by the door.

Fred nodded to Betty, and wordlessly she slid out the door, closing it behind her. Fred heard the car start up and drive away.

After Betty departed, Fred walked to the kitchen, where he could see through the back door. George stood next to him breathing heavily with his shotgun in his hands.

“Why don’t you hide in the hallway bathroom, and I’ll hide in the bedroom?” said Fred.

“Okay, Fred, but I’m going to teach these guys not to mess with country folks.”

 

A few minutes later, Fred saw the three criminals come limping up. “Bunny Man” was about to open the door, when he suddenly screamed and lunged at “Toga Boy.” Fred thought at first that Bunny Man had seen him, but this didn’t seem to be the case. Fred suddenly had a devilish thought, what if I lay in wait for them in the bed, like the wolf in Little Red Riding Hood? The thought made him chuckle. Boy, won’t they be surprised!

Fred tiptoed back to the bedroom and shut the door. He crawled under the covers with his shotgun ready. When the door knob had turned and the door opened, he had expected to see one of the three men standing there with a malicious grin on his face, however, when he peeked through the bed covers, he saw a psychotic welder with an axe come stumbling into the room. The welder raised the axe to strike, and it struck the ceiling fan, which wrenched it from his hands.

Fred took aim at the welder’s head and squeezed the trigger. The shotgun bucked and there was a deafening roar as the 00 buckshot pellets slammed into the welding helmet. The man went flying backward through the bedroom door into the hallway. Fred got up to survey the damage, and discovered that the shotgun blast had not killed the man.

George came out of the bathroom and gave a low whistle, “They come in all shapes and sizes don’t they?” he said.

The criminal lay sprawled across the floor in the hallway with a welding mask on. The eight shotgun pellets had slammed into the helmet and most had deflected. A trickle of blood was coming out of the helmet, and formed a puddle on the floor. One pellet had taken out the man’s left eye, and another had dug a groove in the man’s forehead, but didn’t look as if it had entered the man’s brain. The criminal was unconscious and lying on his back.

“This must have been the third criminal, ‘Butt Man,’ Fred said.

“Butt man?” said George.

Fred described the horrific bull ride that this man had taken earlier, and George chuckled until Fred motioned to him to be quiet.

Fred told George that he almost felt sorry for this poor idiot. That bull ride had been horrific! Fred and George quickly rolled the man over, and used one of George’s belts to tie the man’s hands behind him. Fred noticed that the man was wearing his best hunting coveralls, and that the seat had been torn completely out. The coveralls were covered in blood and crap, and both men shuttered uncontrollably. “You can keep the coveralls, big fella,” Fred whispered to the unconscious man, “I don’t want ‘em back.”

Fred grabbed the man’s feet and dragged him into the bedroom closet, so the other two wouldn’t find him if they came looking, and George took up his position in the hallway bathroom, leaving the door slightly ajar, so he had a good view of the hallway. Fred hid in the bedroom closet, standing astride the unconscious criminal. As he closed the closet door, he heard the back door of the house creak open. Fred peeked through the slats in the closet door, and racked another shotgun shell into the chamber of the shotgun as quietly as he could.

Chapter 25

“What the hell was that?” asked Doc, as he attempted to disentangle himself from Slasher, who was rolling around on the ground trying to strangle him. Slasher paused long enough for Doc to break free and come to his feet. “I could swear I just heard a gunshot come from inside the house,” Doc explained. Slasher moaned something, and Doc thought he sounded a little like that psycho Carl Childers from the movie Sling Blade. They both walked over to the back door of the house and listened carefully. There was some kind of movement coming from elsewhere in the house, but they weren’t sure where. Doc suddenly realized that Diablo was missing. He slowly opened the door, which made a horrible creeeeek sound, and Slasher went barging past him into the kitchen. Slasher led the way through the house. They came to a hallway, and tiptoed down the hall toward an open bedroom door.

The house was quiet, too quiet with that idiot Diablo in it. Slasher expected Diablo to be in a blind rage again, smashing the walls with furniture like he did at the other house, or loudly butchering the occupants of the house like a rabid wolf or something. Instead, they were met with silence. He doubted that Diablo even knew how to be stealthy.

When Slasher turned to enter the room, he slipped on a puddle of blood, and fell flat on his butt. A shot rang out, and one of the bunny ears on Slasher’s head disappeared. “Holy Crap!” Doc screamed. The two men desperately scrambled into the room, and dove through a window behind the bed, without even pausing to open it. Doc was first one out the window, and after passing through the window, shattering it into a million pieces, he landed neatly in a thorn bush which had been planted just under the window. “Roses,” he muttered, “what kind of sadistic bastard plants roses under his windows?” He would be picking thorns and broken glass out of his hide for days to come, thought Doc. Slasher wasn’t quite as lucky, because as he dove through the window, he was caught full in the butt by a second shotgun blast. Eight .38 caliber pellets tore into the flesh of Slasher’s buttocks, sending him flying out the window, where he landed in a heap about ten feet away.

Doc grabbed Slasher and dragged him out of sight of the window. He found a wheelbarrow in the yard, and heaved Slasher into it. Doc soon discovered that this was next to impossible to do with only one arm. He took Slasher’s belt off and made a loop with the buckle, which he placed on one of the wheelbarrow handles. Doc grabbed the end of the belt with his teeth and managed to stumble along for about twenty yards or so until they reached the tree line again. He would have to figure out a better way to transport Slasher now, because the wheelbarrow wouldn’t work in the woods. He managed to get Slasher over his shoulder, and ran as far into the woods as he could get, before he collapsed from exhaustion at the effort.

As Doc lay there panting, he reflected on what had just happened, and tried to replay it in his mind. How had it gone so wrong? Where was that idiot Diablo, and what had Slasher slipped on? Was that blood, and if so, whose was it? Who was shooting at them, and how did they seem to know that they were coming? None of it made any sense to him as he thought about it.

Chapter 26

Diablo regained consciousness and found himself in a closet with his hands tied behind his back. He was having trouble seeing, and his head was throbbing terribly. “What the hell happened?” he mumbled to himself. Everything had been going as planned, but suddenly everything had gone to hell. Diablo worked his wrists until he was able to get his hands free. He vaguely remembered a tremendous blast that had blown him off his feet, and felt his face to see if he was all right. When he discovered his ruined eye, he moaned and retched. He turned and threw up in a boot, which had been lying next to him in the closet. He felt his head and discovered a deep furrow in his forehead going around his head on the right side.

Diablo cautiously eased himself out of the closet and saw the welding helmet lying on the floor a few feet away. At first he thought that wearing it had been a terrible idea, but upon reflection, he realized that the helmet had saved his life. There were lots of dents in it, and two holes in the glass. If he hadn’t been wearing it, he would have lost his head.

Diablo decided that he would have to get out of here before the wack job with the gun returned, so he tiptoed out of the room and made his way to the open front door. The house was quiet, but he could hear two people talking to each other in another room. Were they calling the cops, or planning how to dispose of him? Diablo looked to the left and right to make sure nobody was waiting for him, and he opened the door and ran for the woods with all of his might.

When Diablo reached the tree line, he dove in head first, slamming into a large oak tree, and rolling to a stop against a boulder at the bottom of a ravine. He hadn’t realized how the missing eye would effect his depth perception, and had thought that the tree was farther away. Diablo was panting and his head was throbbing now. He felt like he had a hangover, and he still tasted barf, but he was alive. He had escaped once again. That had been a close call, he thought to himself. How many more of those would he survive? He realized that he would have to be more careful if he wanted to survive.

Soon it dawned on him that he had been cheated again. He hadn’t been able to collect any more souls, and he was starting to feel weak. He always got a charge of energy when he killed someone and swallowed his or her soul, and now his energy was running out. He knew that it was only a matter of time before he was discovered missing, and he wanted to be a long way away from here when they figured out that he had escaped, but he desperately needed rest.

Where were Doc and Slasher? Had they been caught too? If they had been caught, at least they would draw the attention away from him for a while. He got up, but sank to his knees again when dizziness and nausea overcame him. He leaned over and barfed on an ant pile. This didn’t seem to make the ants happy, and they started to march toward him like a tiny army. Diablo stumbled to his feet and lurched through the woods, thinking why is everything out to get me?

Diablo found a stream and looked at his reflection in it. His face looked gruesome with the empty eye socket. “I’ll have to do something about that,” he said to himself. Diablo looked around for something that might help, and he stumbled upon a chestnut lying on the ground. He rinsed it in the creek and jammed it into the empty eye socket. It fit pretty well, and it was better than nothing, he thought.

Chapter 27

Steve and Tom ran toward the farmhouse. As they reached the back door, they heard the sound of smashing glass. They opened the door, shouting “Police,” in unison. Guns drawn, they made their way down the hallway, and encountered two farmers, each holding a shotgun loosely in his right hand. Tom yelled “drop your weapons and walk slowly toward me,” as Steve covered them from Tom’s right flank. Tom had the men raise their hands, turn, one at a time, until they faced away from him, and once they were in a kneeling position, he handcuffed them, as Steve covered them with his gun. They brought both men outside in handcuffs, and sat them down on the back steps of the house.

“What the hell are you two doing here?” asked Steve. “And what was that sound we heard? Was that breaking glass?”

“Fred, I thought we told you to quit this nonsense and go home,” Tom said.

Fred looked rather sheepish, and said: “Come on guys, I had to warn George, and I knew that you wouldn’t make it to him in time.”

Steve nodded and said “Point well taken.”

The other farmer, who introduced himself to Steve and Tom as George Green, told Steve and Tom about the weird events that had transpired. Fred chimed in and told them “I came straight here from the barn where you encountered me earlier, because I figured that these clowns would probably end up here.” Fred explained how he had gotten George to send Betty out of the house to safety, and George and Fred walked them through the events, which had transpired.

“You mean that one of the bad guys is tied up in the bedroom closet?” asked Steve.

“Yes, sir,” said Fred.

Steve removed his handcuffs from Fred and George, and told them to stay put, while they checked out their story. He wanted to believe Fred and George’s story, but it sounded too far-fetched to be true. If he hadn’t seen the bizarre events which had already transpired that morning, he would had dismissed the farmers as being nuts, however, under the circumstances, he tended to believe them.

Steve and Tom moved cautiously to the bedroom. They peeked in the closet, but all they found there was a puddle of blood and a belt on the floor. Tom found the welding mask that Fred and George had described, and there was an axe stuck in the ceiling fan. The axe was going around and around with the fan. “Holy, crap!” said Tom when he saw the bullet indentations and holes in the mask. “I hope this guy realizes how lucky he is to be alive.”

Steve chuckled at the thought of this moron stumbling blindly into the room and how miserably he had failed. Tom looked out the broken window and saw a guy in crotchless camouflage coveralls disappearing into the trees on the far side of the yard. Tom suddenly imagined a deer stumbling upon this guy, and literally laughing itself to death.

Steve and Tom headed back outside to talk to Fred and George. They asked Fred if there were any other houses nearby, and Fred told them “There isn’t a soul around here for about twenty miles.”

“Most of the land around here is owned and maintained by the County, because of the proximity to the dump, and there are monitors scattered throughout the area which measure gasses and seepage from the dump,” said George. “Because of this, nobody is allowed to build a house nearby.”

Fred said, “George and I have been living here in this area since before the dump was built, so the county allowed us to remain here.”

Steve turned to Fred and told him that he had found Melissa on the kitchen floor of his house, but that she was still alive. He explained how she had been airlifted to the hospital and the paramedics had stabilized her. Tears of joy welled up in Fred’s eyes, and he asked if he could get a ride to the hospital since, after all, his car was now out of commission.

Steve called the dispatcher, and asked for a marked police cruiser to take Fred to the hospital. He also suggested to Tom that they let George help them track the trio, because three sets of eyes were better than two. George Told Tom that he kept a couple of hunting dogs in a kennel in his back yard, and that they could probably assist them in tracking the criminals as well. Tom reluctantly agreed, and placed a phone call to his boss, Police Chief Joe Godwin, on his cell phone.

Chief Godwin told Tom that he would send some Patrol Officers to their location and set up a perimeter. He also said that he would contact Sheriff Butler, and request assistance from him. The Sheriff’s Office had a helicopter and off road vehicles that could assist them. Chief Godwin also said that he would have paramedics on standby and would send a crime scene team to Fred’s house to process the crime scene.

After Tom got off the phone, he walked around the house to survey the damage. Steve and Tom had to laugh when they saw the rose bush that the fugitives had crashed through when they escaped through the bedroom window. “So,” Steve said, “We are looking for one bowlegged Cyclops in a crotchless pair of camouflage coveralls, a psychotic one-eared bunny with his jaw taped shut who now has a butt full of shotgun pellets, and a toga wearing one-armed fugitive.” All four of the men had to laugh at this.

Since there were no other houses nearby, and the cavalry was on the way already, so to speak, Tom hiked back to his car, and drove it back to the house. He took the first aid kit out of the trunk, and brought it to Steve, who was sitting on the back steps still rubbing his sore ankle. Steve got a bandage out of the kit, and wrapped his ankle to immobilize it as much as possible. He found that after he took his shoe off, he was unable to put it back on though. He asked George if he had any muck boots he could pull on to cover the bandage. George brought Steve a pair of rubber boots, and Steve gratefully pulled them on.

Chapter 28

Doc’s lungs felt like they were going to explode. He had run through the woods carrying Slasher for what he guessed was about a mile. Doc collapsed next to a tree and Slasher went to the ground head first. Doc assessed the situation. If he left Slasher here, he would either bleed out, be eaten by animals, or be caught. If he kept dragging him around the woods, they would both get caught. Maybe he could try to get the pellets out of Slasher’s butt, that way, he might recover enough to walk on his own. Doc knew that he had no way to sterilize the wounds, and he might have to dig the pellets out with his fingers. He heard a stream nearby, so he could at least irrigate the wounds and rinse the dirt off of his hands.

Doc dragged Slasher to the edge of the stream, and rinsed his hands and the man’s butt with ice-cold water. He felt around the area around the nearest wound, and tried to coax the pellet to the surface. He was able to squeeze the wound enough to reach the pellet and dig it out with the help of a broken stick. Halfway through the fourth pellet, he heard a moan coming from Slasher. “Uh Oh,” said Doc, “Time for more anesthesia.” Doc fumbled around for a river rock. When he found one, he raised it and was about to hit Slasher with it when he was tackled by Diablo. He looked like a nightmare come true.

Diablo’s right eye was missing, and in its place, was a buckeye, which he had apparently shoved into the eye socket. He had an enormous furrow in his forehead, which went around the side of his head. Doc could actually see the man’s skull! To make matters worse, he was now bowlegged, and the coveralls he wore were missing the entire crotch area, which caused his privates to dangle out in the open air. The coup de grace was that now this half naked giant Cyclops was on top of him grabbing the rock away from him. Gross, thought Doc. He bucked Diablo off of him, and explained the situation to him.

Doc told Diablo that the operation would be much more pleasant if Slasher was unconscious, but that if he wanted to hold Slasher down, he would be glad to finish up.

Diablo decided to hold Slasher down while Doc operated, and it was about as unpleasant as one would imagine. Slasher bucked and thrashed about as Doc tried to dig out the pellets. When Doc finally dug out the last pellet, everyone was spent.

Slasher lost consciousness again, and stayed that way for three hours. Doc tore up Slasher’s shirt and wrapped the wounds with it. Slasher really looked bizarre now. He looked like he was wearing a big diaper, but at least the bleeding had stopped. Doc had brought the duct tape from the farmer’s barn with him, and he wrapped it around the makeshift bandage. He also replaced the missing bunny ear, and made both ears a little bigger.

Diablo exclaimed “We need to put some more distance between them and us, and we need to find shelter for the night.” Doc thought this was a great idea, and he told Diablo to carry Slasher for the time being. Diablo threw Slasher over his shoulder in a fireman’s carry, and they trekked through the woods.

Chapter 29

Diablo was reminded of his childhood when he saw Slasher in a diaper. His parents would throw a diaper on him, put him in a dog cage, and set it in front of the television. Occasionally they would throw a candy bar or a bag of chips at him, but he never had a regular meal. They would be gone for days at a time, and on several occasions, the electricity had been shut off for non-payment. When Diablo was seven, he had learned to escape from the cage. He had found some clothes in a closet, and had run away from home.

Life on the streets had actually been easier for Diablo than living in his own home had been. He learned that he could steal food from restaurants if he sneaked in through the back door and into the kitchen.

Diablo was picked on and beaten by the homeless people who lived on the streets at first. Hardly a day went by when he didn’t find himself surrounded by gang members or bums who would take whatever he had after beating him down. He learned to run fast, and when he had to, he would let them chase him until only one or two of them were left, and then he would ambush them and beat them to death.

By his thirteenth birthday, Diablo had killed twenty people on the streets. Since they were the dregs of humanity, nobody came looking for them, and the Police didn’t seem to care. They just chalked it up as street violence as a result of drug deals gone wrong.

It was during this time period in which he discovered the power he obtained from stealing his victims’ souls. He had just killed one of the bullies who had beaten him so badly when he was younger, when the man let out his last breath as Diablo was staring him in the eyes. The man’s breath had been nasty smelling, but the breath went right up his nostrils. He felt energized that night, and went back to his childhood home and killed everyone in the house. He had dismembered the bodies, and painted the walls with their blood.

By the time he was an adult, he enjoyed killing so much, he started killing rich people, as well. This got the attention of local politicians and the Police Chief, so the Police started investigating the crimes with a renewed vigor.

The night when he had been caught, he had killed three families on one street, and when he got to the fourth house, the family’s teenaged daughter had escaped and run to her friend’s house to call the cops. He had been dancing around the yard with the woman’s eviscerated corpse wearing her husband’s scalp like a hat. Yeah, he had gone a little overboard, but every now and then one had to enjoy life’s simple pleasures.

The trial had lasted two months, and the Jury had found him not guilty by reason of insanity. He had been remanded into the custody of the Department of Corrections to be held at the asylum for the criminally insane for the rest of his natural life.

Doc told Diablo to look for a shelter, like a cave or a leaning tree or something. Diablo wandered off in search of shelter. When he had gone, Doc checked on Slasher, who was asleep. He hoped that the wounds wouldn’t get infected, but he wasn’t very optimistic about it. Doc imagined having to amputate Slasher’s butt, and chuckled to himself. If that happened, he thought, Slasher would really be afflicted with noassatall.

Chapter 30

Slasher was transported back to his childhood in Indiana. He had grown up in a small college town in the 1970’s, where it was safe to walk the streets at night. He and his little brother had been able to ride their bicycles all the way across town in about thirty minutes. Things were so much less complicated back then, he thought. He remembered sitting on the lawn in front of the town hall listening to the hippies playing their guitars. He fondly remembered making candles with his mother and her friends, and bead curtains adorning doorways in people’s houses. He could still smell the melting candle wax and remembered how nice it had been to come home to a warm fire in the fireplace after walking home from school in the snow.

When he was twelve years old, his family had gone to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina on vacation. His mother and father had walked out on a jetty to take a photograph, when a rogue wave had swept them both off their feet and they had died of massive head trauma when they hit the rocks. He and his brother had been made wards of the state, and had been placed in foster homes.

Slasher, whose real name was Edward Sonheim found himself in a stranger’s house playing second fiddle to this couple’s children. The couple treated him differently than they treated their children, and he always felt like an outsider. His brother had been ten years old, and had gone to live with a different foster family. The other foster family had been childless, and treated him like he was their child from birth. Slasher was relieved that his brother Billy had a good home, and he was jealous.

Slasher’s grades had declined and he started skipping school. His resentment grew until he finally dropped out of school and joined the Army at seventeen. His foster parents were glad to be rid of him, and signed the papers to allow him to enlist.

Slasher hadn’t been fond of authority figures, and being screamed at by Drill Sergeants wasn’t pleasant, but they let him shoot guns and blow things up, which was really fun. The Army taught him a hundred ways to kill someone with his bare hands and with knives, mines, grenades, guns, and other cool weapons.

After Basic Training, Slasher had gone to Advanced Infantry Training for three months at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. He learned survival techniques, as well as specialized skills. By the time he graduated from A.I.T., he was an explosives expert.

For his first tour, Slasher had been stationed in Germany. He loved the change of scenery, and the people seemed nice there. He didn’t have a Drill Sergeant breathing down his neck there, so he was much happier. He was assigned to a Combat Engineering Battalion, and spent most of his time clearing areas of trees and boulders, and blowing up bridges and old buildings. He loved this kind of work, and was very good at what he did.

Slasher also worked at becoming a weapons expert, especially edged weapons, and became a hand-to-hand combat expert. He started practicing knife-fighting techniques with some of his fellow soldiers after hours, and eventually found out about sanctioned knife fighting events. He competed in hundreds of these fights, and was very successful, but they only used shock knives, which simulated real knives, but were non lethal.

Slasher eventually became bored with this and found out about non-sanctioned fights with real knives. These were much more exciting, and the loser left with scars if they walked away at all. He earned quite a reputation among these clubs, and quickly rose to the top. Unfortunately, word eventually got back to his company commander. One night during a particularly bloody fight, his opponent had sliced Slasher across his left cheek, and Slasher had nearly killed the man. Slasher had gone to the hospital and had gotten twelve stitches in his cheek, and the medics had reported the incident to his C.O.

The next day, his company commander had called him into his office. Slasher had confessed when confronted with the facts, and had been given an ultimatum. He would either accept a less than honorable discharge for conduct unbecoming a non-commissioned officer and leave the Army effectively immediately, or face a court marshal, and possibly go to Fort Leavenworth for Attempted Murder and Aggravated Battery.

Slasher had accepted the General Discharge, and left the Army. He travelled back to Indiana, and discovered that his small town had dramatically changed. He had been away for ten years, and didn’t even recognize the town. Everything was dirtier, more crowded, and busier. He found that he could no longer walk across town, and riding a bicycle would have been nearly impossible.

Slasher rented an apartment in town, and bought a used Ford F-150 pickup truck. He tried to get a job, but found that nobody wanted to hire him. He discovered that without an honorable discharge, he was deemed to be untrustworthy by most employers. The fact that he had not graduated from high school also counted against him.

Soon, he learned to set his sights lower and lower. He held a job bussing tables for a couple of months, and found that he wasn’t making enough money to pay his bills. He worked as a day laborer for about a year, and discovered that most of the laborers were being replaced with illegal aliens from Mexico who would work for below minimum wage.

Slasher had become more and more desperate to find a job. His only real skills were killing and blowing things up. He applied for work as a demolitions expert, but nobody wanted to hire him because of his less than honorable discharge, and his lack of education.

Slasher found himself watching people and wondering if he should turn to a life of crime. What if he followed one of these businessmen to his car and robbed him when he was fumbling for his keys. He began following people, and one day, he robbed a businessman out of desperation. It was dark, and the man never saw his face. Slasher hit the man on the back of his head with a wrench and knocked him out. He stole the man’s wallet and briefcase.

Later at his apartment, Slasher had opened the briefcase and found a bunch of sales brochures and a set of really nice knives. He had read the brochures, and was impressed with the knives. The next day, he called the company and applied for a job.

To his surprise, the company had hired him as a salesman, and shipped him ten sets of knives for him to sell, along with brochures. He had to travel to their corporate headquarters in Michigan for an orientation, which he did the next week.

Soon Slasher was a door-to-door salesman. He made two sales his first day, and his spirits picked up. By the end of the first week, he had sold all ten sets of knives. He called the corporation, and they sent him ten more sets. The second week, he sold three sets of knives, and the third week he only sold one. By the end of the month, he had sold sixteen sets of knives, and had knocked on nearly every door in town. When he got paid his commission by the company, he realized that he would barely make the rent for the month, and still had bills piling up.

Slasher drove thirty miles to the next town, and started knocking on doors. Several people seemed interested, but even after he spent the time making his pitch and demonstrated the knives for these people, they turned him down. His frustration began to build when he realized that if he didn’t make some sales soon, he wouldn’t be able to pay his bills.

The next house he came to was owned by a middle-aged couple, that invited him in. He spent an hour making his speech and showing them how his knives could even cut a tin can, but after all that, they replied that they were not really in the market for a new set of knives. Upon hearing this, Slasher lost it. He sliced, he diced, he cut them up into bite-sized pieces.

Slasher went home and cleaned up and changed clothes. Next time, he would bring a set of coveralls, he thought. He couldn’t afford to keep burning his sales clothes, and bloodstains never came out.

The next day, he killed two other couples in a similar way. He was really starting to get good at killing. He didn’t really enjoy it that much, but felt that these people were preventing him from being able to pay his bills by not buying his products, and wasting his time. He got rejected hundreds of times, but most people who didn’t want to buy anything would simply say no, and no time was wasted, so he didn’t really blame these people. It was the ones that acted interested, had him give his speech, and demonstrate his knives, and then said no, that really pissed him off.

The killings got national attention because of the nature of the crimes, and how random they seemed. The Police were convinced that they had stumbled onto a serial killer, so they asked the public for any information that would lead to his capture and arrest.

A few weeks later, a concerned citizen had called the Police saying that they had seen a salesman enter their neighbors’ house and come out later carrying a large trash bag. The caller gave a description of the salesman’s vehicle, but hadn’t been able to see the license plate. The Police started looking for Slasher’s car, and located it parked in front of a house in a residential area. The officers peeked through a window into the house, and discovered Slasher standing over two mutilated bodies covered in blood. Blood splatter covered the walls and ceilings of the room, and he had a determined look on his face. The officers had kicked the door in and arrested Slasher.

Slasher had been tried and found not guilty by reason of insanity. He was sentenced to twelve consecutive life terms suspended pending psychiatric treatment at the asylum. As long as he could convince the doctors that he was crazy, he would stay out of the regular prison. He knew, however, that he couldn’t convince them forever, and that sooner or later he would be sent to prison for the rest of his life.

Chapter 31

As Doc sat there watching Slasher, he thought to himself; how had it come to this? What had he done to deserve this life? He had dedicated his life to trying to help people, and had been treated like a common criminal for his troubles. He had first decided to become a doctor when he was eight years old. He had been playing on the playground with his friends when one of his friends had fallen and dislocated his shoulder. He had pulled the shoulder back into the joint, even though his friend had screamed like he was being tortured. What thanks did he get? His friend accused him of trying to kill him and he had been suspended for a week.

Even though he had been punished for helping his friend, he didn’t want to stop trying to help people. Because of this, everyone started calling him Doc, even if it was done jokingly. He decided that when he grew up he would be a doctor.

His parents were poor and his grades were not great, so his chances of entering the medical program at any college were dashed. He decided that he would teach himself, and threw himself into studying all of the things he felt were necessary to be a good doctor. Some of the subjects he studied were not on any school curriculum, such as metaphysical healing, spiritualism, Voodoo, and witch doctors and their rituals.

He started out by experimenting on neighborhood animals. His success rate wasn’t phenomenal (he had a 98% mortality rate), but he felt that he had helped them, anyway. At least they didn’t complain and get him in trouble.

He would find dogs that limped, and try to reset their legs by yanking the leg back into its joint. At first he found that he was over anesthetizing them, because they wouldn’t wake up afterward. He started using a hammer instead of a large rock, and found that it allowed him to have much better control, so his “patients” would often recover enough to limp away when they regained consciousness.

He also rescued stray cats and neutered them for free. The city should thank him for reducing the number of stray cats that were able to breed and reproduce. His first feline patient had been particularly ungrateful, and had clawed him to ribbons when he had removed the cat’s scrotum with a pair of scissors. After that he anesthetized them beforehand.

Doc found that some humans needed to be sterilized as well. They were degenerates, and needed to be rendered “safe” for society, because they liked to rape women and children. He performed several of these operations by luring and capturing these men and then eliminating their privates. He was careful not to show his face to any of them, and would return them to alleyways afterward, while they were still unconscious.

Doc knew, however, that in order to cure this type of person, he would have to delve deeper, into their souls. Often this meant removing all of their internal organs for them, and squeezing the evil out of them. It was a shame that his patients were so wracked with evil, that they didn’t survive the procedure, however, he was hopeful that he could cure them anyway. Either way, they never committed these heinous acts again after the operation.

Chapter 32

Diablo wandered through the woods looking for some place they could use as a shelter. He saw a few fallen trees, but thought that these would only shelter one of them. He also ran across a cave, but was afraid to go poking around in there, because he felt that it might be inhabited by a less than friendly animal. After about thirty minutes, he had nearly given up when he saw a shack in the woods. It wasn’t very big, but he thought that all three of them might be able to fit in it.

Diablo moved closer to get a better look at it, and discovered that it had a padlock on the door. He scrambled around until he found a large rock, which he used to smash the lock. He struck it five times and the darn thing wouldn’t break. “What the hell! Why won’t this stupid thing break?” he screamed.

Finally, on the tenth strike, the lock broke and fell on the ground at Diablo’s feet. Diablo waited a few seconds catching his breath, and wiping the sweat from his brow. “That sucked,” he exclaimed to himself, as he pulled the door open and peered inside.

When the door opened, he saw that the shack was full of dynamite and blasting caps and fuses and wires and other devices. “Great,” he mumbled, “Guess we’ll have to get all of this out of here if we’re going to use it as a shelter.” He also saw tools they might be able to use, and several flashlights.

Diablo decided to close the door and return to Doc and Slasher, so he could lead them here. This wasn’t the Ritz-Carlton, but it would do, considering their current situation. He got lost several times on his way back to where he had left Doc and Slasher, but he finally made it back there about an hour later.

By the time he rejoined the other two, Slasher had regained consciousness, and was in a foul mood. Getting shot in the ass tended to do that to a person he thought. Diablo thought about the horrible experience he had with the bull, and vowed to go back and kill that bull slowly and painfully. I wonder if I could kill that damned bull with a fork, he thought. Even that might be too merciful a death for that bastard. After all of the years he had spent in jails and prisons and the looney bin, he had managed to keep his virginity intact, so to speak, and then he escaped and got violated by a bull.

Slasher was on his feet now, groaning and thrashing about like a zombie. When Diablo saw that Doc had made even larger bunny ears for him, he started to chuckle. This made Slasher even madder, and he lunged for Diablo, who neatly sidestepped him with ease. Slasher became so infuriated, he started ripping small trees out of the ground and throwing them at Diablo. Diablo called out: “If you don’t calm down, I won’t show you the shelter I found.

This calmed Slasher down a bit, and Doc perked up. “What’s that? Did you actually find a shelter we can use?” asked Doc.

“Even better,” replied Diablo, “I found an abandoned shack we can use, but we have to clear it out a little or we won’t fit in it.”

“Ceer ik ouk?” slurred Slasher

“Yes, it’s full of explosives and fuses right now,” Diablo retorted.

At this, Slasher looked so excited, Diablo thought he would piss himself. He hadn’t seen Slasher happy before, and this was more than a bit creepy. Slasher was dancing around in his huge bunny ears giggling uncontrollably. If he starts skipping, thought Diablo, I’m going to lose it.

When Slasher had calmed down a little, Diablo pulled a pill container out of his pocket and handed it to Doc. “Here, this might help both of you with the pain. I swiped it from the medicine cabinet in the first house we were in.” The pill container read Hydrocodone. It was expired, but it would certainly get rid of the pain. Doc gave one to Slasher and took one himself.

Soon the pain went away, and Slasher was in a better mood. Doc noticed that the pain in his stump had also gone away. He was still pissed that these two morons had forgotten to save his arm, but he also knew that they would have had to keep it on ice to preserve it, and this would have been nearly impossible.

Diablo led them through the woods to the shack. It took them just twenty minutes to make it to the shack, and when he opened the door and Slasher saw what was inside it, tears of joy welled in his eyes.

 

Chapter 33

Slasher stared disbelievingly at the contents of the shack. He hardly understood their good fortune, but figured that some farmer or mining company must have built the shack to store the explosives, away from any inhabited areas in case there was an explosion.

Slasher took inventory of the explosives, fuses, detonators, blasting caps, and tools in the shack. If he could smile, he would have had an ear-to-ear grin on his face. This was a gift, he thought. Finally things were going to turn around for them. For the first time since their escape, he finally felt optimistic that they could get away.

Slasher gathered some of the explosives and wires, and went to work setting up booby traps for anyone who might come looking for them. By the time he was finished an hour later, nobody would be able to get closer than two hundred feet from the shack without triggering the explosives. He saved most of the dynamite for later, because they might need it for their escape, and if they were able to give the cops the slip, he planned to teach the farmer a lesson. He promised Diablo that he would save the last stick of dynamite for the bull. Apparently, Diablo wanted some well done steak later.

Next, Slasher decided that they needed an escape route so they wouldn’t be trapped in the shack with no way out. He grabbed a shovel and motioned to Diablo to do the same. Slasher also grabbed a lantern and discovered that it still worked. Diablo had mentioned the cave he had found, so Slasher motioned to Diablo to show him the cave.

The cave had a small entrance (just big enough for a man to fit through), and a quick peek with the lantern showed Slasher that it was not occupied. Slasher crawled into the cave, and after about twenty feet, it opened up into a large chamber. Further exploration led to other passageways and chambers. After exploring for about an hour, Slasher found an exit passageway near a stream. The exit was obscured almost entirely by undergrowth, and invisible to passersby. This will be perfect, he thought. We should be able to escape undetected this way, and if they try to follow us, I can blow the cave up after we escape.

Slasher backtracked to where Diablo stood in the first chamber. He told Diablo about the exit, and his plans through a series of grunts and pantomime, and Diablo replied that he understood. Diablo looked as if he was not too thrilled about having to wander through the cave, and voiced his concerns about the life of the lanterns. “What if the lanterns go out?” he asked, “What then? Will we be trapped in this cave forever in the dark?”

Slasher indicated to Diablo that there were two lanterns, and that they would only use one at a time. Slasher also figured that they could probably find their way out in the dark eventually.

Slasher and Diablo returned to the shack to tell Doc what they had found. Doc liked the idea better than the shack idea, because he had been thinking that it seemed rather like the OK Corral. He had visions of them being surrounded by cops, and trying to hold them off with dynamite while standing in a shack full of explosives. Slasher grabbed as much dynamite as he could carry, giving Diablo the detonators, fuses and blasting caps. Diablo grumbled a bit, but Slasher tried to explain that he didn’t want the explosives with the detonators until he was ready to blow something up. When Slasher wasn’t looking, Diablo grabbed a couple of sticks of dynamite and stuck them in one of the pockets of his jumpsuit. Doc grabbed the other lantern and they headed to the cave. They could hear barking in the distance.

 

Chapter 34

Steve and Tom finished greeting the latest arrivals at the farmhouse, and seeing Fred off to the hospital to check on his wife. They had already greeted the County Sheriff, a dozen Deputies, another six Police Officers, a K-9 handler on loan from Indianapolis, and a helicopter pilot, as well as the Police Chief. The County SWAT Team was on the way, and would arrive shortly.

When everyone was assembled in one central location, Tom and Steve gave a briefing to all participants. They explained how the three inmates had escaped, and how dangerous they were, then Steve added that all three appeared to have injuries of one type or another. When the SWAT team commander asked the extent of the injuries and how they were sustained, Tom explained the events that had led up to the current situation. Several of the SWAT team members began to snicker when they heard about Slasher having his jaw taped shut and wearing bunny ears, but when Tom described the bull ride, nearly everyone present guffawed with laughter. Every time this many law enforcement personnel gathered together, there was an overabundance of testosterone, and everyone seemed to try to one-up each other with comments and jokes. This time was no exception.

When the laughter and comments had died down, John Turley, the SWAT Team commander, pulled out a map of the area and described the terrain and hazards, as well as what he felt was the possible direction of travel and most likely hiding places for the fugitives. Julian Ortiz, the communications specialist for the Sheriff’s Office gave a short briefing on radio communications and instructed everyone to check in every half hour. He insured that everyone was using the same frequency, and that they addressed the communications hub on the radio as “CP” for purposes of this operation. Julian introduced himself and said that he would be manning the Control Post.

Assignments were handed out, and the operation commenced a short time later. A tent was erected in the back yard of the farmhouse, and tables and chairs were brought in. A base radio was brought in and set up, and when it was operational, radio checks were conducted. The map was set up on a table, and after all units had checked in, their positions were circled on the map with a blue marker. Blue, of course, stood for the Police, and Red was reserved for the fugitives when they located them. In these types of operations, it didn’t matter what department you worked for, it was only blue against red.

Steve and Tom joined the search, and pointed out to the K-9 handler the area in which the fugitives had entered the woods. Steve had handed the welding mask that Diablo had been wearing to the K-9 handler, so the dogs could get the scent. After a few seconds, the dogs seemed to pick up the trail that the fugitives had taken through the woods. The trail led to a small clearing where they found a large amount of blood and what appeared to be shotgun pellets on the ground. They also found some bloody duct tape on the ground as well, and surmised that someone had removed the pellets from the butt of the inmate who was shot by the farmer.

The helicopter was circling overhead making wider and wider circles looking for signs of the fugitives. One of the deputies, Greg Roads, had volunteered to ride in the helicopter as a “spotter,” and he was looking out the side window of the helicopter with a pair of gyroscopic binoculars. The binoculars worked great, but when you first calibrated them, the world seemed to swim until the gyroscope stabilized. After that, the view was clear, and no matter how bumpy the flight was everything on the ground stayed in focus. Greg found that he could only hold the binoculars to his eyes for a few minutes at a time without feeling a little bit motion sick. Besides, the binoculars were heavy and Greg’s arms got tired quickly holding them up.

After about a half hour, Greg spotted a shack in the woods about two or three miles from the farmhouse. He immediately pointed it out to the pilot, who called the Command Post and reported its GPS coordinates. Commander Turley placed a black “X” on the map where the shed had been located, and called out the grid coordinates to the searchers. Steve looked at the map he had been given, and drew an “X” on it. He pulled out a compass and drew a line from their current location to the X. Using the compass, he figured out the direction they should travel in to reach the shack. Picking a landmark in the distance, he told Tom to follow him, as he headed in the direction of the shack.

Steve and Tom slowly made their way through the thick underbrush in the direction of the shack, stepping over fallen logs, and checking for snakes and poison ivy along the way. Tom reminded Steve about how he had seen this scene in the movie First Blood, and how the character Rambo had subdued or disabled a dozen armed officers in the woods. “Rambo?” Steve replied, “These guys are more like Dumbo!” This caused Tom to laugh, and soon they were both laughing thinking about all of the mishaps that had befallen the trio since their escape from the insane asylum.

They were still laughing when Steve almost tripped over a wire strung about four inches above the ground at their feet. Steve threw out his arm and nearly “clotheslined” Tom as he advanced toward what he felt was the direction of the shack.

“What the hell did you do that for?” Tom croaked.

Steve pointed to the wire as he signaled Tom to be quiet. Tom massaged his now sore throat, and whispered “What is it, a trip line?”

Steve nodded and followed the wire to a box of nails with a stick of dynamite sticking out of it. At that moment, Steve made a command decision, and that was to back off a safe distance away and call the other search members to warn them about the booby trap.

Steve and Tom walked back the way that they had come and put what they thought was a safe distance between the bomb and themselves. Tom called the CP and advised them about the bomb, and gave an approximate location. A second later, there was a loud “boom” coming from a short distance to their right. Steve and Tom both dove to the ground as a dozen more explosions occurred around them. Tom heard a whizzing noise and felt a burning sting in his left earlobe. Steve felt a stab in his left shoulder, and heard objects whistling through the bushes above them.

“Holy crap!” Tom yelled, “that was ridiculous! Are you ok, Steve?”

“I’m hit,” Steve replied.

“Where?” Tom asked.

Steve pointed to his left shoulder, where a nail head protruded from his shirt. There was blood running down his shoulder from the wound, but thankfully it wasn’t life threatening. They quickly checked each other for injuries, and each said a quick prayer of thanks for escaping death. Steve pulled his wallet out, and asked Tom to pull the nail out of his shoulder. Steve bit down on the leather wallet as Tom counted to three and pulled the nail out with a multi-tool he always carried with him. Steve moaned and almost passed out from the searing pain that shot through his shoulder. Tom cut a strip of cloth from the bottom of Steve’s shirt and bandaged the wound the best he could. He cut another strip from the bottom of his own shirt and made Steve a sling for his arm.

Steve gritted his teeth and struggled to his feet. Tom helped him, and they carefully surveyed the area. There was a thick layer of smoke all around them, like fog as it settles, and Steve could hear screams of pain coming from somewhere off to their right. They carefully picked their way through the bushes to the area from which the screams were emanating.

What they saw was appalling! From what Tom and Steve could gather, the dogs had tripped the wire causing the first in a series of explosions. Both dogs had disappeared in a cloud of blood and fur. The K-9 handler had been ripped in two, and his legs were five feet away from his torso. He was screaming hysterically and trying to crawl to his lower half, while his insides trailed behind him. There were nails sticking out of his face, and blood was everywhere. Three other deputies lay dead a few yards away. One deputy had a saw blade embedded in his sternum, one had the top half of his head sheared off, and the third was partially decapitated just below the chin.

Tom heard his radio, and heard the helicopter pilot asking what had happened, and what their status was. Tom answered him and requested medical assistance. The helicopter pilot advised Tom that he would call for a medevac chopper immediately.

Steve called the Command Post on the radio and apprised them of the situation. When the smoke cleared, Steve and Tom found two more badly wounded officers in the bushes nearby. “Who did all of this?” asked Steve.

“I don’t have any idea which one of these guys did this to us, but I know what I’d like to do to them right now,” said Tom.

Chapter 35

Doc heard the series of explosions from the relative safety of the cave, and shuddered. What the hell am I doing tagging along with these psychos? I should be a thousand miles away from here having Mai Tai’s on a beach somewhere, forgetting about this whole ugly situation, he thought. He wasn’t sure what series of events had brought him to this point, but he was absolutely positive that he didn’t belong in here with these two.

Doc could hear screams of pain coming from outside the cave. Just before the explosions, he had heard dogs barking. Now the only sounds he heard were screams as people lay dead and dying in the woods.

Doc thought to himself, Maybe Slasher could use some corrective surgery to rid himself of the demons that dwelt within him, also. Normal people don’t blow up a bunch of people with no remorse.

Doc looked over at Slasher and Diablo and thought when this is all over, perhaps I will perform a double header, so to speak, and cure them both. Doc knew that he couldn’t anesthetize them both at once, so he would have to have some time alone with each of them. First, however, they would have to get out of here to a much safer place.

Diablo said, “Let’s get going. I don’t want to be anywhere near here when the cops recover their wits, because they’re going to be pissed!”

They started walking toward the back of the cave with Slasher in the lead. Slasher carried a lit lantern, and Diablo carried an unlit one.

Diablo wouldn’t admit it to anyone, but he was afraid of the dark, and had just recently realized that he was claustrophobic, as well. He felt fine when they were in the large chamber, but when they started squeezing through narrow passageways and crawling under huge rock formations, he started freaking out. It felt to him as if the walls were closing in on him. Cold sweat beaded on his forehead, and he started shaking uncontrollably.

After about a half an hour, the lantern started to sputter, and a few seconds later dimmed and died. Now it was dark in the cave, and none of them could see anything at all. Diablo fumbled around in the dark, trying to light the lantern he was holding. He heard a noise behind him in the passageway. It sounded like something rubbing up against the walls, and it sounded close. Must be my imagination, he thought. He lit one of the matches that they had found in the shack, and found that he was staring into a pair of large, brown eyes set in a ferocious looking, furry face.

“HOLY SHIIIIIIIIT!!” screamed Diablo as he backed up into Doc, trying desperately to get away.

“Ow!” said Doc, “what the hell was that for?”

“B…b…b…b…bbbear!” screamed Diablo, as he tried to push past Doc in his haste to get away. Diablo dropped the lantern and they heard it shatter when it hit the ground.

Diablo grabbed Doc, and used him like a human shield. At first, he shielded himself against the bear, but after hitting his head a dozen or so times on low-lying object, he decided to hold Doc in front of himself and let Doc absorb the blows from the stalactites hanging from the ceiling of the cave. He ran forward as fast as his legs would carry him, and heard the hollow thud of Doc’s head hitting six or seven objects. Doc was whimpering, Diablo was screaming like a banshee, and Slasher was just trying to get out of Diablo’s way.

Slasher was sure that he would see a hint of light from the outside world soon, but it seemed like they were running forever and not getting anywhere. Soon Slasher was convinced that they had wandered into a different passageway, and were running in circles.

After a few minutes of this, Slasher, who was looking back to see if everyone was keeping up, tripped over something and went flying onto the back of the bear, who was still chasing the other two. Slasher grabbed two hands full of fur and held on for dear life.

Diablo looked back, and to his astonishment, saw Slasher riding the bear as it was barreling down on them. Diablo thought Holy Crap! Slasher has balls of steel to try riding a bear! Diablo thought he saw a hint of light ahead, and sprinted toward the light carrying the now unconscious Doc in front of him.

Diablo dove for the exit and dragged Doc with him through the opening. Once in the open, Diablo breathed a breath of fresh air, and looked around for a place to hide from the bear. He stuffed Doc in a hollow log, and climbed a tree nearby as high as he could climb.

As the bear neared the exit, Slasher started thinking about how he was going to escape the clutches of this bear once they were out of the cave. He wasn’t sure that he could outrun this creature in the open, but he was sure that he was faster than Diablo and Doc. He thought about what his uncle had told him years ago when he had asked his uncle how to escape a bear. His uncle had told him: “Just reach down the bear’s throat, grab him by the balls, and turn him inside out, and he’ll run the other way.” Somehow, Slasher didn’t find that information all that useful now.

The bear went crashing through the exit to the cave with Slasher on his back holding on for dear life. Slasher knew that the bear couldn’t reach him where he was now, but that if he let go, he would be easy prey for this monster. He had been nearly scraped off of the bear’s back when the bear squeezed through the small exit, and now the bear had plenty of room to move about.

The bear started bucking and running around, clearly annoyed with Slasher for being on his back. After a minute or two of this, the bear headed for the nearest tree, and Slasher figured that the bear was going to try to scratch him off his back. As soon as the bear was near the tree, Slasher grabbed for a branch and climbed with all he had. As he climbed out of reach of the bear, he could hear the bear clawing the trunk of the tree. When he looked down, the bear was climbing the tree after him. Man, this bear is really pissed, thought Slasher, as he climbed higher and higher to get away from the angry beast.

What seemed like hours later to Slasher, he was so near the top of the tree, he was worried that the trunk wouldn’t support his weight. The tree was swaying crazily from side to side. After one particularly long sway, Slasher jumped to a neighboring tree and grabbed for a branch. He caught the branch and swung himself up on it.

 

Chapter 36

While Slasher was being chased by what appeared to be a tree climbing bear, Diablo recognized this as a perfect opportunity to put some distance between him and the bear. He climbed down from the tree he was in and ran as fast as he could away from that area. He paralleled the river, and headed North away from the bear and the cops. He was careful to stay under the trees, so he couldn’t be easily spotted by the helicopter, which circled the area overhead. Every few minutes, he would pause and listen to see if he heard the helicopter or the bear. Fortunately, he did not hear the bear, but when he heard the helicopter, he would duck down and remain still. The helicopter continued making wide circles overhead, which told Diablo that he hadn’t been spotted.

Diablo continued heading North for what he figured was at least a mile. He was walking now, and the pain in his butt was almost unbearable. With every step, came a fresh wave of pain. He was going to make that bull pay for doing this to him! Diablo adjusted his course and headed for what he figured was the location of the pasture where the bull was grazing.

Diablo imagined the bull quietly, unsuspectingly munching on grass in the pasture with his back to the fence. He saw himself sneaking up silently behind the bull with a stick of dynamite in his hand. He saw himself lighting it and inserting it into the bull’s butt, and running like the wind. He saw a puzzled look on the bull’s face just before a massive explosion, which rained hamburger meat down all over the pasture. He imagined himself walking up to the steaming carcass, and telling the bull: “How’s it feel, you son of a bitch?”

After about an hour of trudging through the woods, Diablo could see a pasture in the distance. As he neared the pasture, he could hear the snorting of a bull. Diablo carefully approached the fence and scanned the pasture for the bull. The bull was standing in the pasture with his back turned to Diablo, eating grass, seemingly unaware of his impending doom. Diablo wondered if bulls had souls, and his skin prickled with anticipation. What would a bull’s soul be like? Would it make him stronger, meaner, more virile? Suddenly, he imagined himself hung like a bull, and almost giggled.

The bull seemed unaware of Diablo’s presence, and it seemed to Diablo as if the bull was almost daring anyone to enter his pasture. What arrogance, thought Diablo. This bull really thinks he’s invincible. Well, he was about to find out that he wasn’t. Diablo fished around in his pockets for a lighter, which he had taken from the shack, and a stick of dynamite. He inserted a fuse into one end of the dynamite, and as he held the dynamite in one hand, and the lighter in the other, he slipped silently over the fence and into the pasture. Diablo imagined himself like a Ninja silently and seemingly invisibly approaching his enemy. Diablo hated this bull more than anything else in the world right now, and the thought of exacting his revenge on the vile creature made his skin prickle with excitement. At last, something was about to go right for him, he thought.

Chapter 37

Steve and Tom worked for over an hour dragging the wounded to a clearing where the med-evac chopper could airlift them to the nearest trauma center. Both were tired, sore, and covered in the blood of the victims. The clearing had been about a half a mile South of the shack, and luckily, the SWAT team members who hadn’t been killed, were able to drag most of the victims to the clearing.

After the victims had been removed, the surviving officers searched the area for signs of the fugitives. During the search, one of the officers discovered a cave entrance nearby. SWAT team members entered the cave and checked it for more booby traps. They reemerged from the cave a few minutes later telling everyone that the entrance was clear, but that the cave had many passageways, which had not yet been cleared.

Tom and Steve entered the cave, followed by most of the search team. The SWAT team went up ahead, clearing the passageways as they went forward through the winding labyrinth. The trail was easy to follow, because the floor of the cave was muddy, and footprints could be easily seen. Nonetheless, nobody wanted to take any chances after the nightmare that had occurred outside earlier. Tom and Steve followed closely behind the SWAT team, and noticed that a lantern had been discarded along the way.

A few minutes later, one of the SWAT team members called Tom to the front. Tom and Steve threaded their way to the front of the line, and saw a set of bear tracks join the footprints. Steve pointed out a second lantern, which was broken on the floor of the cave. “Wow,” said Tom, “These guys went toe to toe with a bear in this cave in the dark, and there are no corpses in sight?”

Steve pointed out that some of the stalactites had been broken off, and there were hairs on some of the rock outcroppings. The SWAT team leader pointed out that the footprints (and bear tracks) appeared to veer off to the right down another passageway. Several of the officers followed this path, but reported that it made a circle and rejoined this path. They also reported that one of the sets of footprints seemed to have disappeared in the process. “Could one of them have been eaten whole by the bear?” asked Tom.

“No, I think I know what happened,” said Steve, “but I don’t think you’re gonna believe me.”

“Try me,” said Tom.

“I think that one of the fugitives may have hopped on the bear’s back, and rode the bear out of here,” said Steve.

“You’re right,” said Tom, “I don’t believe you.”

“Hear me out,” said Steve. “I think that they were running around this circle to get away from the bear in the dark, and stumbled on the bear. Naturally, the bear couldn’t turn around in these skinny passageways, and it must have seemed to them to be the only option, so one of them hopped on the bear’s back.”

“Holy crap!” said Tom. “We are going to find body parts scattered all over the ground outside this cave. Now we have a pissed off bear to content with as well as three psychos.”

 

Chapter 38

Doc woke up in a log with a horrible throbbing in his head. “What the hell happened?” he asked himself. The last thing he remembered was someone grabbing him from behind and running through the dark cave. He remembered hitting something hard and then everything had gone black. Now, here he was stuffed into a hollow log.

Doc lay still and listened to the sounds that were coming from somewhere above him. Someone or something was up in a tree nearby, and was snarling in anger. From the sound of it, this was a large animal, and it didn’t sound friendly. Doc tried to guess how far away this animal was, and figured that it was probably fifty or so feet away.

Doc slowly crawled to the end of the log, and peeked out. At first, he couldn’t believe what he saw, a bear in a tree. I thought bears couldn’t climb trees, he thought to himself. This bear looked to be about halfway up a large tree about fifty feet away. I had better get out of here before that bear makes it to the ground, he thought.

Doc scampered out of the log, and ran parallel to the river, just under cover of the tree line. Doc ran until he felt like his head would explode, and he started getting abdominal cramps. He looked around for any signs of life, and when he was sure the coast was clear, he ran to the river and plunged his head under water. The cold water felt good on his swollen face and head, and he drank deeply. He felt like life was returning to him. Doc wished that he had something to store some of this water in, so he could continue to hydrate. He knew that without water, he wouldn’t last long. He started thinking about his stomach, and realized that he was starving. It had been a long time since he ate last, and his stomach was growling almost as loudly as the bear. Doc remembered that Diablo had snatched a chicken from the farmer just before the farmer had chopped off his arm, and wondered what had happened to it. It was probably lost in the chaos that ensued.

Doc moved back to the tree line, and thought about trying to spear a fish with a stick. If only he had a stick of dynamite, he thought, then he would be able to catch a lot of fish. He searched for a straight branch that would be thick enough and long enough to fashion into a spear. After a few minutes, he found a branch that would work. He snapped the branch off of a tree, and as green wood does, it didn’t break cleanly, but at an angle, forming a point. Doc split the point so it was forked, and listened for the chopper again. When he didn’t hear anything, he walked to the edge of the river and stared into the water.

There were several fish swimming nearby, so he carefully took aim, and thrust the spear at one of them. He missed, of course, because this took a lot of skill, patience, and practice. On his third attempt, he actually speared a fish.

Doc realized that he didn’t have any matches, so it looked like sushi was on the menu. Doc drank the fish’s blood, and tore into the fish with his fingers with the fish wedged between his legs. He wolfed down pieces of the fish as fast as he could, to avoid gagging on the raw meat. Maybe, he thought, I should start eating plants instead.

Once finished, Doc washed in the river and started hiking through the woods, in what he felt was the opposite direction of the searchers. Doc decided that if he headed back in the direction of the highway, he might be able to steal some food and clothes, so he adjusted his course accordingly. Doc was no boy scout, however, he had done a good bit of reading about wilderness survival while he was incarcerated.

Doc remembered that most lichen that grew on trees in the woods were edible, and if he could warm up some water somehow, he could make a tea that was surprisingly packed with vitamin C. He was reasonably sure what plants were edible, and which were poisonous, and he gathered as much food as possible, because he had no idea when (or if) he would ever be able to get back to civilization.

Just as Doc was about to give up on finding any houses, he spotted a pasture ahead. He thought that this might be the same pasture they had crossed earlier, and he wanted nothing to do with that bull. As he neared the pasture, he saw a peculiar sight. He saw a bull standing near the middle of the pasture, and what looked like Diablo trying to sneak up on the bull with something in his hand. Doc peered in horror, as it occurred to him that Diablo was about to attempt to sodomize a bull with a stick of dynamite. You have GOT to be kidding me, he thought. How far will this idiot go to get revenge!

Chapter 39

Slasher decided that he was going to have to try to get down from this tree and escape the climbing bear as fast as possible. The only way he could think to do this, was to jump to a smaller tree nearby, and shimmy down before the bear knew what had happened. This is going to hurt, he thought, because the nearest tree was about twenty feet away.

Slasher started rocking back and forth, causing the tree to sway precariously from side to side. Once the tree was swaying as much as he dared, Slasher jumped to the other tree.

Slasher slammed into the smaller tree hard enough to knock the wind out of his lungs, and as he desperately grabbed for branches, they snapped off in his hands one at a time as he plummeted to the ground. It seemed to Slasher, that he hit every branch on the way down, and when he crashed to the ground, he was beaten and bruised, and heaving for breath.

The bear was trying to descend from the tree he was in, and Slasher figured that he probably had only a few seconds before that bear would be all over him like a fat man at a buffet counter.

Slasher picked himself up and dusted himself off. He got his bearings, and began to run toward the river. Using the river as a landmark, he continued along the river, figuring that he would find some sign of civilization along the river, and if not, at least he could find food.

After running for about fifteen minutes, he guessed that he had lost the bear, so he slowed down to a walk. Slasher took a quick inventory of his supplies, which he had taken from the shack. Twenty sticks of dynamite, two fuses (yes, he had kept several even though he had told Diablo that he hadn’t), a lighter, a knife, and some rope. He didn’t trust Diablo completely, after all, he was a psycho, and in his experience, psychos didn’t care who they killed. He looked at the knife, and was angry that the owner had let it get rusty. He found a round river rock that seemed to be granite, and sharpened the knife as much as possible. He drank from the river, and washed his face and hands.

Slasher took the knife and cut the bunny ears off (again). That bastard, Doc, he thought, I am going to give him bunny ears, by cutting his cheeks off, pulling the skin over his head, and tying them in a bow.

Slasher wondered what had happened to the other two, and imagined them being eaten by the bear. Well it would be easier to get away from the cops if they were all going in separate directions anyway.

Slasher was surprised that he was able to hold onto the supplies even though he had taken the ride of his life on the back of a bear. He was sore all over, and had miscellaneous cuts and scrapes all over his body from the bear ride and the tree experience. His jaw was throbbing, and felt swollen and hot to the touch. He was sure that it was getting infected, and knew that he would need medical attention (REAL medical attention, not attention from that quack, Doc).

As Slasher was walking back to the tree line, he heard a distant BOOM. Suddenly, he wondered if somehow another one of the booby traps he had set near the shack had been somehow triggered. He was sure that all of his explosives had gone off at once, and marveled at the carnage that it must have created. Judging by the direction in which the sound had come from, however, he knew that it wasn’t one of the charges that he had set. What the hell was that about? Could the cops have caught up with Diablo and Doc? All he knew was that if he tried to help them, he would get caught as well. If Diablo and Doc hadn’t been caught already, the sound of that explosion would draw every cop in the area to the location of the blast.

Chapter 40

Diablo advanced toward the unsuspecting bull, thinking You are gonna pay for what you did to me, you asshole of a bull. Diablo realized the irony of that thought, because that was exactly where he planned on sticking the dynamite he now held in his right hand.

Diablo was now only about five feet away from the bull, and he quickly lit the lighter to light the fuse in the dynamite, because he knew he wouldn’t get a chance once he inserted the dynamite into the bull’s butt. Just as he was about to light the dynamite, the bull’s tail raised by itself, exposing Diablo’s target. Diablo thought Thanks, asshole! You just inadvertently helped me. Now for some good old fashioned revenge!

What happened next was the stuff that legends are made of. In fact, people in town would talk about it for the next twenty years. Parents would tell their kids about how messy revenge could be, and how things rarely went the way you planned. Preachers would talk about it from their pulpits, and it was often joked about in bars hundreds of miles away.

As it turns out, there is really only two reasons a bull would lift its tail. As it happened, the bull had been grazing on grass all morning, and as a result, was full of gas and manure. When the bull lifted his tail, Diablo advanced upon his target, which suddenly opened and a missile of manure flew right into Diablo’s face, followed by the largest fart he had ever heard.

Diablo was so stunned and sickened by what the bull did, that he completely forgot about the lit lighter in his left hand and the stick of dynamite in his right hand.

The flame from the lighter lit the methane jetting from the bull’s anus, and suddenly, the bull became a one thousand pound blowtorch. The flames singed off all of Diablo’s hair and lit his clothes on fire. Unfortunately, the flames also lit the stick of dynamite he was holding, as well.

The bull didn’t fare any better, because now, his butt was on fire, and flames shot out of him. He tried to run in circles, but soon realized that he couldn’t outrun the flames. The only thing that the bull could do now was attack the person who had done this.

Diablo thought he heard a shout coming from the edge of the pasture, but he was still trying to wipe his face and put out the fire, so he couldn’t make out what was being said. He wiped his eyes, and suddenly realized that he was still holding the stick of dynamite in his hand. The bull was bearing down on him, and he knew that he did not want to take another ride on those horns.

Diablo looked at the dynamite, and chucked it at the bull, who managed to spear it with his left horn. Diablo was now desperately rolling on the ground, trying to put out the fire, and the bull was trying to remove the stick of dynamite from his horn by scraping it against the ground. All at once, BOOM!

The dynamite exploded, sending a huge cloud of blood and body parts raining across the pasture. The blast bounced Diablo off the ground and deafened him. He could see a crater where the bull had been only seconds earlier. “Awesome!” He shouted.

Chapter 41

Doc watched from the edge of the pasture as Diablo tiptoed toward the bull. He could hardly believe his eyes. Did that fool just light a bull’s fart on fire? Doc was stunned. He yelled at Diablo and tried to warn him that the dynamite was now on fire as well, but Diablo didn’t seem to hear him. Now Diablo was on fire and so was the bull. Diablo was flopping around on the ground trying to pat out the flames, when the bull exploded with a tremendous boom. A hoof and part of a leg landed at Doc’s feet, and it was raining blood and other unidentifiable bull parts.

Doc ran over to where Diablo lay. Diablo was still smoking and couldn’t hear anything, but he was alive and not missing any body parts. In fact, he was laughing hysterically.

“You crazy asshole!” Doc yelled. “What were you thinking?” Diablo didn’t seem to hear him, and just kept laughing maniacally. Every cop for miles around would have heard that blast, and they were probably already heading this way.

Doc motioned to Diablo to get up and follow him, but Diablo was now swimming in the gore that used to be the bull, and seemed to be really enjoying himself. Screw him, Doc thought. If he wants to get caught, I’ll let him. Maybe that will distract the cops enough that I will be able to get away clean.

Doc ran to the fence, and climbed it. As he entered the woods again, he looked back at Diablo, who was covered in blood and mud now, doing some kind of grotesque dance in the middle of the pasture with what appeared to be the cow’s intestines draped over his shoulders. Good riddance, he thought. Diablo had always been somewhat disturbing to Doc, and he got the impression that Diablo was sizing him up to kill him at a later date.

Doc headed back in the direction of the road, knowing that he would have to keep an eye out for cops passing by. He wondered how long it would take the searchers to find Diablo, and chuckled at the thought of a bunch of cops seeing Diablo dancing in a cow pasture wearing bull intestines like a feather boa.

Doc fought his way through heavy underbrush until he reached the road. He looked down at himself, and suddenly realized that he looked terrifying. He was still wearing a prison uniform, but had a sheet wrapped around himself, which was now covered in bull blood, as well as his own blood. This is simply unacceptable, he thought. I’ll have to try to find a change of clothes, and maybe some first aid supplies.

Doc followed the road, stopping every couple of minutes to listen for cars. He stayed just inside the tree line, so that if a car should happen by, he could duck down out of sight. He continued walking this way for about fifteen minutes before the first patrol car went speeding by with its emergency lights on. It was followed by four other patrol cars a minute later. Just as I suspected, he thought, that moron has attracted the attention of every cop in the area. At least they are driving away from me, he thought.

Doc continued in the same direction for an hour or so, until he saw a sign, which indicated that he was entering Shelbyville (population 19,253). If he could find a change of clothes and some medical supplies, he thought that he should be able to walk around more freely with relative anonymity.

Doc wandered through several yards before he found some clothes on a clothesline. He looked around, and when he was sure nobody was looking, he swiped a pair of jeans and a shirt off the line. He grabbed two pairs of socks as well. He planned on wrapping his arm stump in one pair and wearing the other. A few minutes later, he had changed in the bushes and felt much better. He found a spigot next to the house, and washed his hand and face, to make himself appear more presentable, and he found a roll of duct tape in a shed behind another house. He used the spare socks and duct tape to wrap the stump where his left arm used to be. When he wore the shirt, it looked fairly normal.

Doc wasn’t sure if the police would be looking for a one-armed man, but he didn’t think that he would be the only person with one arm in the area. He didn’t look as if he had just lost the arm, because the shirt covered the make-shift bandage perfectly.

The next thing Doc decided to do was find a pharmacy so he could sterilize the wound, numb the pain, and sew it closed. It wasn’t bleeding, but he knew that it would get infected if he left it like it was.

After wandering through town for about thirty minutes, he found a pharmacy. He didn’t have any money, so he grabbed two items that he needed, and stuffed them in his pants when nobody was looking. He walked into the bathroom, and slipped out of the store through the stockroom, and out the back door. He would return later after closing time and steal the other items after the store was closed for the day.

Doc found a wooded lot nearby and hid there until after dark. He walked back to the pharmacy, and discovered that it had closed at ten o’clock. I love small towns, he thought. If this was a pharmacy in the city, it would have been open all night. Doc found a crowbar next to a car a few blocks away. He used the crowbar to pry the back door open. He knew that it would trip an alarm, but he figured that he would be in and out of there before the cops came to check it out. Almost immediately after he opened the door, an alarm sounded. The alarm was very loud and annoying, and the sound made him nervous. It was like trying to solve a difficult puzzle with someone looking over your shoulder and screaming at you the whole time.

A few minutes later, Doc slipped out the back door with a bag of “goodies” in his hand. He had been able to find everything he needed except the pain medication, so he had grabbed a couple of bottles of wine off the shelves for the pain.

Doc wandered through the neighborhood, getting as far away from the pharmacy as possible. After wandering for about a half an hour, he found a gas station that was still open, and entered the bathroom. Doc opened the first bottle of wine (luckily it was a screw-top), and gulped down half of its contents. He shuddered, and after letting out a huge belch, he gulped down the other half of the bottle. He decided to let the wine take effect for a few minutes, and when he felt a good buzz from the wine, he took out the iodine and cotton swabs he had stolen. He soaked the cotton balls in iodine, and swabbed the wound. “AAAAAARRRRG!” he heard himself scream. That wasn’t so bad, he thought sarcastically. He got out a needle and thread, and stuck the needle into a flap of skin on what was left of his arm. Then he proceeded to let loose with a stream of curse words that would have made a sailor blush. Maybe, he thought, I should drink some more of the wine.

Doc grabbed the second bottle of wine and gulped down another large amount of wine. He then began the unpleasant process of stitching up his arm stump. He would stitch and swig some more wine, stitch and swig some more wine, until he was nearly out of wine and finished stitching the wound. Now he was so drunk, that he started to sing to himself, and in the middle of a rousing chorus of his song, he puked up the wine all over the bathroom and passed out with his head in the toilet.

Chapter 42

Steve and Tom had wandered through the maze of passageways inside the cave with the rest of the search team until they found the exit that the fugitives had taken. They crawled out of the hole and found themselves standing on the banks of a river. Almost immediately, they heard the roar of a bear. The bear sounded as if it was really pissed off, and had missed out on a really good meal. Tom felt that it would be best to avoid this animal if possible, but it may not be possible. There was a blood trail leading to a stand of trees up ahead. About halfway up one of the trees, was a grizzly bear.

A quick look around revealed that the fugitives had fled the area, and had split up. Two of them had walked through the brush back in the direction of the road, and the other had followed the river. Just then, a loud explosion sounded to the right in the direction of the cow pasture that Tom and Steve had passed earlier.

“What the hell was that?” asked Steve. “I don’t know, but it sounded like it came from the cow pasture where those guys got chased by the bull,” said Tom. “Don’t you mean raped by the bull,” said Steve. They both started to run through the underbrush toward the area where the boom had come from.

When they finally reached the pasture about fifteen minutes later, it smelled like steaks on a grill, and there were smoking chunks of bull all over the pasture. Blood seemed to cover everything, and there were body parts scattered all over the field. All of the parts seemed to be from a bull, and there were a lot of them. Near the middle of the pasture, there was a large crater.

Steve walked around the pasture looking for footprints, and found two sets leading off in different directions. One of the sets of footprints seemed to lead toward the road, and the other set seemed to lead back in the direction of George Greene’s farmhouse.

Steve and Tom called the command post on their radios and requested a search team. Steve informed the command post of the direction of travel, and requested that some officers check on the farmhouse. How could these guys be so stupid? Thought Tom. Don’t they realize that the farmhouse is swarming with cops? They must not realize that the command post is in the back yard of the farmhouse. Tom thought about how long they had been looking for these fugitives, and now the fugitives were coming to them.

Steve and Tom started making their way through the woods in the direction of the farmhouse following the trail of the fugitive. Steve wondered which fugitive they were following. One of them had just blown up a cow, and who knows what he intended to do to the Greene family.

Steve wondered why anyone would blow up a bull, and then it dawned on him. “Of course,” he said to Tom, “That freak Diablo must have been the one who blew up the bull as an act of revenge. Can’t say that I blame him, after the ride the bull gave him.”

“Yeah,” chuckled Tom, “I guess it will save George the trouble of having to take it to the auction.”

Chapter 43

Diablo had left the cow pasture after having exacted his revenge on the bull, and was feeling quite satisfied with himself. Man oh man, he thought, that bastard would never hurt anyone again. Diablo had never seen a more satisfying explosion, but now he was stone deaf. He felt his ears, and they were both bleeding. He looked down at himself and discovered that he was covered in blood and manure. He hadn’t lost his sense of smell, because he could barely stand the smell of his clothes. Maybe I should head back to the river and wash this crap off me, he thought.

Diablo could see the farmhouse up ahead, but it was crawling with cops. Maybe, he thought, I can kill a cop and wear his uniform. Then I can just walk past them undetected.

Diablo circled the yard looking for a cop that had his approximate build. He found one near the side of the farmhouse, and he looked bored and tired. Diablo crept up behind the cop, and hit him over the head with a rock he had found in the woods. The cop dropped like a wet towel, and Diablo dragged him back into the woods.

Diablo quickly stripped the uniform off the cop, and put it on. Luckily, it fit him well. He put on the officer’s sunglasses to cover his missing left eye, and hoped that nobody would notice. He slipped out of the bushes, and walked over to the side of the farmhouse. Diablo searched around until he found a water spigot on the side of the house, and washed his face and hands.

Diablo looked at his reflection in one of the side windows, and thought that he looked enough like a cop that he could pass undetected through the yard past all of the other cops. The thought made his skin tingle with anticipation. Wow, if I can pull this off, I can do anything, he thought. To make things even better, now he had a gun and ammunition.

Diablo went back to where he had hidden the cop and checked his pulse. He felt a weak pulse, and his heart leapt. He had been afraid that he had killed the cop and hadn’t been able to collect his soul. It wouldn’t be long now, because he had lost a lot of blood. Diablo was about to speed the process when he heard footsteps coming his way.

Diablo stood up and called to the cop who had been approaching. “Hey, over here,” he said to the approaching officer, “Isn’t this one of the fugitives?” When Diablo had stolen the officer’s uniform and gun, he had put the bloody jumpsuit on the unconscious officer, and smeared blood all over his face, so now the officer looked a lot like Diablo had.

“Holy shit!” the officer shouted, “I think we got him.”

“No way,” exclaimed Diablo. “I was walking over here to take a piss in the bushes and almost pissed right on him.”

“Too bad you didn’t,” replied the officer, whose nametag read “T. Hanks.”

Diablo secretly wondered if his first name was Tom (like the famous actor), but pushed that thought aside, because that would be ridiculous.

Officer Hanks got on his radio and called somebody telling them (presumably) that he had captured the suspect in police code.

While officer Hanks was preoccupied, Diablo quietly slipped away and went to the front of the house. He didn’t want to risk someone recognizing the name on the uniform he was wearing and realizing that he wasn’t that officer.

Diablo searched the gun belt he was wearing, and found a set of keys clipped to it. He unclipped the keys and pressed the key fob listening for a honk, indicating that the car was locked. A short distance to the right, a car horn honked once. A few seconds later, he was climbing behind the wheel of a police cruiser. This just gets better and better, Diablo thought, I always wanted to drive one of these.

Diablo briefly thought about going back into the house and collecting more souls, but he knew that he would get caught. He also knew that his ruse wouldn’t work for long, and that when they realized that it was an injured cop, the entire force would come gunning for him. He had better get as far away from that farmhouse as possible.

Diablo drove carefully out to the road, and turned right toward town. Once out on the main road, he floored the cruiser just to see how fast he could make it go. When he reached 130 miles per hour, he decided that he had better back down a little so he wouldn’t attract too much attention. He cruised along until he reached a town named Shelbyville.

Diablo slowed down to the posted speed limit, and decided to stop at a gas station for a map and some food. As he entered the gas station convenience store, the clerk called out to him.

“Man, I was just about to call you guys,” the clerk declared, “some drunk has passed out in the restroom out back, and made a horrible mess of the place. Would you mind taking a look at him for me?”

“Sure,” said Diablo in his best officer voice. Diablo placed a road map, a coke, a bag of chips and four candy bars on the counter and gave the clerk a twenty dollar bill he found in the officer’s wallet.

“If you can get that fool out of the restroom for me, it’s on the house,” said the clerk.

Diablo threw the snacks in the patrol car and walked to the restroom. He pounded on the door, and heard a moan coming from inside the restroom. “Open up, Police” said Diablo. He heard what sounded like someone throwing up in the toilet.

“Go away!” a voice said.

“Open the damn door!” Diablo replied.

There was some shuffling sounds, and the restroom door opened. Instantly Diablo wished that the door had stayed closed. The first thing that assaulted him, was the horrible smell emanating from the restroom. He blinked his eyes in disbelief when he saw who was standing in the doorway. Doc looked like death warmed over. He was covered in vomit and some kind of red liquid, and Diablo wasn’t sure, but he thought that Doc may have soiled himself.

Diablo whispered to Doc, “play it cool, and I’ll get us out of here, just go along.”

Doc nodded affirmatively, and Diablo marched him to the patrol car and ushered him into the back seat. Diablo closed the car door and nodded to the clerk, who thanked him.

“What about the mess this guy left?” asked the clerk.

“What do I look like, a janitor?” replied Diablo.

As Diablo drove off, he saw the clerk open the restroom door and heard a long string of epithets coming from the clerk.

Diablo drove out of town and pulled over to the side of the road. He opened the back door and doc shot him a smile. “I thought for sure I was busted back there,” said Doc. “You scared the crap out of me!”

“Sorry,” Diablo retorted, “I couldn’t think of anything else to do. I guess I really did scare the crap out of you, because the smell is making my eyes water. What the hell happened to you, anyway?”

Doc proceeded to tell Diablo about the events leading up to his “arrest” by Diablo. “By the way,” said Doc, “You make a truly terrifying cop.”

“Thanks, I guess,” said Diablo.

Doc pulled up his shirt and showed Diablo the stitches he had made in his arm stump. Although the wound was mostly stitched, the stitches were irregular, and looked as if they had been done by a small child. When Diablo looked at it closely, he thought he saw a smiley face stitched in the stump.

Diablo looked at the map he had picked up at the gas station. He wanted to find a place where people would park their cars for a long period of time, like an airport. It looked like there was an airport about three miles northeast of where they were now.

Diablo got back in the car and told Doc that it would be best if Doc stayed in the back seat until they could find another car. Doc mumbled but seemed glad that he was not under arrest after all.

About fifteen minutes later, they pulled into the long-term parking lot of a small airport. There seemed to be about a hundred cars here, and Diablo found a “Police Vehicles Only” parking spot for the police cruiser. After parking the car, they exited the vehicle and started to look for an inconspicuous car with a door unlocked. After a few minutes, they found a tan Chevrolet Caprice with the passenger side back door unlocked.

“Perfect,” Diablo exclaimed. Doc opened the door and unlocked the driver’s door for Diablo, who started searching the car for keys. As luck would have it, there was a key in the glove compartment. Diablo also found a screwdriver in the glove compartment. He used the screwdriver to switch the license plate on the Caprice with the license plate on another tan Caprice parked six spaces away. That ought to buy us some time, he thought. Diablo opened the trunk of the car and found a suitcase inside full of men’s clothes. Diablo quickly changed into a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, tossing the police uniform in the trunk. He didn’t want to call any more attention to himself than necessary.

Diablo started the car and drove it out of the lot, paying nearly twenty dollars to the attendant in parking fees. “Wow,” exclaimed Diablo, “that’s the most I’ve ever paid for a car.”

In truth, Diablo had never bought a car, he always stole them or “borrowed” them (which is how he preferred to think of it) when needed. He hated spending their hard stolen money on a ridiculous parking fee, but he knew that the cops would be hot on their trail if they crashed the gate. Keeping a low profile was the name of the game now.

Chapter 44

Slasher considered himself an expert at blending in, but this was extremely difficult with his ruined jaw. He had washed his face in the river and saw his reflection in the water. He was starving, but couldn’t chew anything. He knew that he would have to get medical attention for his jaw if he was going to survive, but he also knew that all of the area hospitals would be looking for a man with injuries like his. Furthermore, he was painfully aware that he wouldn’t be able to fit in with duct tape holding his jaw together, and the seat of his pants missing.

Slasher figured that the farther he got away from this area, the less conspicuous he would become. He was eventually able to find a house in a town up river where the occupants were not home. He had travelled approximately thirty miles on foot by his estimation, and was tired, thirsty, and starving.

Slasher walked to the back of the house and broke a window on the back door to unlock the door and get in. Once in the house, he looked through the closets until he found some clothes that fit him. He felt quite a bit better once he had changed clothes. “They say that clothes make the man,” he said to himself. He looked in the bathroom mirror and was shocked at how different he looked. He carefully removed the duct tape and saw his purple, swollen jaw and chin in dismay. He had a hole in his face on one side at the jaw line, and on the other side, he was missing several teeth. He had been relatively lucky that his mouth had been open when he was struck with the bullet, because the exit wound on the other side of his face would have been catastrophic. Instead, the bullet had struck his jaw, dislocating it and knocking it out of his mouth. The jaw bone was miraculously intact, despite missing six teeth, and had fit back into his mouth at the time. He wasn’t going to win any beauty contests, but with dental implants, he should look fairly normal. At least the bleeding was stopped, and he felt that the hole in his face would heal, even though it would leave a scar. Hey, chicks dig scars, right? He looked around for gauze, but couldn’t find any. What kind of people don’t have first aid supplies in their house, he thought.

After searching a little more, he concluded that he would have to settle for wrapping a pair of pantyhose around his head to hold his jaw up. He wrapped it under his chin and over his head, and then tied it in place. Great, he thought, I still look somewhat like a rabbit. He wanted to knot the pantyhose under his chin, but his chin was too painful to do that just yet.

Next, Slasher searched through the kitchen for food and drinks. He found a beer in the refrigerator and quickly downed it. He knew that he had to rehydrate, so he also drank a glass of water. Next, he found a blender under the sink, and an assortment of leftovers in the refrigerator, such as chicken, ground beef, peas, and an apple pie. He wished that he could chew these foods because they looked delicious. Begrudgingly, he put them in the blender along with another beer, and blended them into something resembling baby food.

Slasher smelled the concoction, and it smelled awful. He took a sip, and nearly gagged, but forced himself to drink a full glass of the hellish concoction. He knew that it could be a long time before he was able to find anything else to eat, so he reluctantly choked down a second and third glass full as well. It had been so long since he had had a beer, that he caught a buzz, and was not feeling nearly as bad as before.

Slasher fished around in the fridge for another beer, and finding four, he grabbed a backpack from the hall closet, and stuffed them in it. He grabbed a loaf of bread from the pantry, and a can of coffee, as well as some knives, forks, spoons, a can opener, and cans of baked beans. He found a pan and a plastic cup, which he stuffed in the backpack, also. Slasher grabbed a baseball cap from the bedroom closet and put it on. He also grabbed a grey sweat jacket from the hall closet and put it on. Luckily, he found a twenty dollar bill in one of the jacket pockets. “Jackpot!” Slasher exclaimed.

Slasher found a bicycle in the garage, and decided that would be at least a little faster than going on foot, so he hopped on it and rode out of there. He hoped that the break-in would go unnoticed for at least a couple of hours, so he could put some distance between himself and the house before the cops started investigating. Before he had left, he had washed and dried the blender, realizing that this might be a clue for the police, because of the hellish concoction he had made in it. Not many people would have voluntarily blended and consumed that mess, and if the cops were smart, they would realize that the burglar couldn’t eat solid food. For a moment, he imagined a baby breaking into the house and making himself some baby food, and this made him chuckle.

Slasher got his bearings and headed west. If he could make it all the way to Mexico, he could get his teeth fixed and be out of reach of the police. He knew that Mexico was about two thousand miles southwest of his current location, so this would take weeks or even months. If he headed north to Canada, he could probably escape detection long enough to get his teeth fixed, but if he was caught, the government of Canada would return him to the United States to stand trial. Deciding that Canada was a much closer destination, he set his sights for the northern border.

Another thing that occurred to Slasher, was that he could probably get his teeth fixed in Chicago without calling too much attention to himself, if he could think up a story to explain the hole in his jaw. He could also get soup from one of the soup kitchens there.

Slasher knew that he would attract less attention riding on a stolen bicycle, than riding in a stolen car, and if he needed to duck into the bushes, he could do so easily on a bicycle. He was aware that he couldn’t travel as fast on bicycle, but he didn’t mind, since the cops tended to write off someone moving at a leisurely pace. If he was running away or driving fast in a car, he would attract attention that he didn’t need.

Slasher decided to stop at a gas station to buy a map, and when he entered the gas station, the clerk looked at him suspiciously.

“Hey man, if you’re going to rob me, don’t you think you should pull the pantyhose over your face?” the clerk asked Slasher.

“Ha, ha,” replied Slasher. “I couldn’t find a bandana so I could look like a gang member, right?”

The clerk laughed at this and went about his business without seeming to give Slasher a second thought. Slasher found a map and a three pack of disposable lighters and placed the items on the counter. The clerk told him it would be $5.59 and gave Slasher change for the twenty that Slasher gave him. Slasher thanked the clerk and hopped back on the bicycle and rode away.

A few miles up the road, Slasher pulled over into the trees that lined the road, and studied the map. If he continued on this road for five more miles, he could start heading north on Route 231 toward Lafayette. Once he reached Lafayette, he could take Highway 52 to Highway 41 north to Hammond. From there, it would be a short ride to Chicago.

Around nightfall, Slasher found a wooded area, where he set up a camp for the night. He built a fire and cooked baked beans in the can after opening the can first. He found that if he smashed the beans against the roof of his mouth with his tongue, he could swallow them without having to chew them first. He washed the beans down with a beer, and then went to sleep next to the fire.

Chapter 45

Tom and Steve had returned to the farmhouse and discovered that everyone was milling around the bushes next to the house. When Steve asked the nearest officer what had happened, he told them that one of the suspects had been caught.

“Where is he?” queried Steve.

“They took him to the hospital a minute ago under safeguards,” replied the officer, whose nametag read “T. Hanks.”

“Which one was it?” asked Tom.

“How would I know?” answered officer Hanks, “I never saw a picture of the suspects.”

“What was he wearing?” asked Steve.

“A bloody jumpsuit,” replied Hanks.

Steve turned to Tom and exclaimed “it sounds like Diablo.”

Tom turned to officer Hanks and asked him if there was anything significant about the jumpsuit.

Hanks replied “yes, now that you mention it, the ass end of his jumpsuit was all torn out, like he’d been raped by an elephant or something.”

Steve and Tom looked at each other and both of them shouted “Diablo!”

“But why was he taken to the hospital?” asked Tom.

“He had a pretty good knock on the head, and lost a lot of blood,” said Hanks.

“Were you the one who found him?” asked Steve.

“No,” Hanks replied, “one of the other officers found him, he was here a minute ago. Now where did he go…”

Steve and Tom climbed into their car a few minutes later and headed toward the hospital. They had to try to interview Diablo and make sure that he was guarded at all times.

“Well, at least one of them is caught,” said Steve.

“Yeah, that’ll look good on our report of investigation,” Tom replied with sarcasm.

“Don’t be such a negative Nelly,” said Steve, “we’ll get the other two, it is just a matter of time.”

As they raced toward the hospital, something nagged at Steve’s mind, how did someone get the jump on Diablo so easily? This guy is one big dude, and whoever hit him must have been stealthy like a ninja. For that matter, where is the officer that captured Diablo? Most of the cops he knew would’ve stuck around for the high fives and photo opportunities that would have invariably ensued. He thought about mentioning this to Tom, but changed his mind, because he didn’t want to be an alarmist.

When they arrived at the hospital, which was in Bloomington, they went to the Emergency room and asked where the suspect had been taken. One of the nurses told them he was in the OR being prepped for surgery. They were told that they would have wait until he was stabilized before they could see him.

Steve asked the nurse if he could see the patient’s chart, and she asked him if he was a doctor.

“No,” replied Steve, “but would you believe that I played one on TV?”

“I don’t think so,” she said with a chuckle.

“Can you at least tell me what it says about his injuries?” Tom asked.

“Blunt force trauma to the cranium with a deep laceration and loss of blood. He has a cranial fracture, and is currently comatose,” she replied.

“Are there any other injuries?” asked Steve.

“No, no other injuries,” the nurse answered.

Steve looked at Tom, and shouted, “That’s not Diablo!”

“What do you mean, not Diablo,” Tom said, “if that’s not him, then who is it?”

“I don’t know,” said Steve, “but Diablo has at least one shotgun pellet in his face, and he was gored in the posterior by a bull. I don’t think either of those injuries would have been overlooked by the medical staff.”

Steve grabbed his cell phone and called the command post. He asked if someone could locate the officer who found the body in the bushes, and asked them to call him back when he was located and identified. He advised the command post that the body in the hospital was not likely to be Diablo, and asked them to check if any officers were missing.

A few minutes later, Steve got a call from the command post advising him that whoever had located the body, was no longer there, and that an Officer Simmons was unaccounted for and his cruiser was missing.

Steve asked the command post to try to raise Simmons on the radio, and to put out a BOLO (Be On the Look Out) for the missing cruiser and a possible police impersonator.

When he hung up the phone, Steve filled Tom in on what he had learned. Tom whistled between his teeth and shook his head in disbelief. This guy, Diablo had balls! Stealing a police cruiser in front of a dozen cops in broad daylight was ballsy for any criminal, but to do it during a manhunt was crazy.

Steve wondered how far Diablo could have gone since he fled the farmhouse in a police cruiser. Since the body had been discovered approximately ago, he could be anywhere up to a hundred miles away or so if he was really driving like a bat outta hell. Steve suspected though, that Diablo would be smart enough not to want to call attention to himself, so he was probably closer to thirty miles away.

When Steve and Tom returned to the car, Steve got a map out of the glove compartment and drew a circle around the area of the farmhouse for thirty miles. Tom pointed out that there were quite a few towns within the circle that Steve had drawn. Tom asked Steve what he was looking for. Steve replied, “If I were Diablo, I would ditch the police car and steal another car.”

“If he stole a car from anyone in these small towns, they would report it right away, but if it was stolen in Indianapolis, it might not be immediately suspicious,” said Tom.

Steve replied, “I don’t know that he’d want to drive that far in a stolen police car.”

Tom studied the map for a minute, and turned to Steve. “Where could he go to find a car he could steal that wouldn’t be missed for a few days?”

“A bus station, train station, or airport,” answered Steve.

“Correctamundo! You win the prize,” said Tom.

Steve took out his cell phone and searched for airports in the area. Using a search engine, he discovered that there were four airports of varying sizes in the area Steve had circled: Indianapolis, Shelbyville, Greensburg, and Columbus.

Diablo wouldn’t be able to park an out of county police car at the airport in Indianapolis without it being discovered almost immediately, and it was the farthest away of the airports mentioned, thought Steve. He looked at the airport in Shelbyville, and discovered that it was next to a casino. There would be plenty of cars there, they would have police parking spaces, and the stolen car might go days or even weeks unnoticed, thought Steve. Steve pointed this out to Tom, and he agreed.

Steve and Tom raced to the Shelbyville airport, and upon arrival swept the parking lot for marked police vehicles. They found one parked in a “police vehicles only” spot, and Tom got out to check on it.

The keys were in the ignition of the car, and the doors were unlocked. This was strange, because no cop he knew would ever leave their patrol car unlocked with the keys in the ignition. When Tom opened the driver’s side front door, the smell of vomit instantly assaulted his sense of smell. That was not necessarily unusual, because drunks tended to puke in patrol cars on the way to jail, however, most cops would spray air freshener in the car to mask the smell. When Tom felt the hood of the car, it was still hot, which meant that the car had to have been parked here a half an hour ago or less.

Tom called the command center on his cell phone, and confirmed that this was the missing patrol car. He reported the location where they found the vehicle, and asked for additional manpower to set up a checkpoint on I-74 Northbound before Indianapolis.

Steve walked over to the parking lot attendant and asked him what vehicles had exited the lot that morning. The attendant replied that about fifteen minutes ago, two guys had left the lot in a tan Chevrolet Caprice with Indiana tags. Steve asked him if there were and video cameras pointed toward his booth, and the man replied that there was one in front and one at the rear of his booth, in case someone tried to leave without paying, the video would capture the driver’s face and the tag on the vehicle. The man, whose name was Mark, told Steve that he would show him the video if his supervisor said it was ok.

“I think that the real reason that they installed these cameras, was to try to catch me sleeping on the job,” Mark told Steve conspiratorially. “I never sleep on the job, but my boss is a tyrant, who thinks that everyone who works for him is screwing off, because he is always scamming.”

Mark made a quick phone call to his boss, who asked if Steve had a search warrant for the video recorder. Steve grabbed the phone away from Mark and said “who am I talking to? Joe is it? I could take the next couple of hours to get a search warrant for your video recorder, but if I do, our fugitives will have escaped with your assistance, and you would be subpoenaed to testify in court and produce evidence. I could always have the Department of Homeland Security audit your records and see if your airport is in full compliance with national security standards.” At this, Joe relented and asked Steve to hand the phone back to Mark.

A few seconds later, with a smile on his face, Mark showed Steve the videos. Steve took note of the license plate number on the car, and that the driver was wearing a police uniform.

Steve ran back to the car, and told Tom what he had discovered. Tom called the command center again and gave them a description of the vehicle, so they could relay this to the officers that were setting up the vehicle checkpoint.

Steve and Tom exited the parking lot and headed north on Highway I -74 burning rubber as they left. Tom turned on the emergency lights and called dispatch. “Delta 100, this is unit India 41 Alpha…Show my unit and Unit 42 Alpha northbound on I-74 passing mile marker 42 in pursuit of a Tan Caprice bearing Indiana tag number 436 Juliet Bravo Hotel. Request additional units for backup on a felony stop.” The dispatcher replied “Delta 100 10-4.”

When traffic was heavy, Steve would switch on the siren, and switch it off when traffic was light. The siren was so loud that it would give them bot a headache if they ran it constantly. Tom looked over at the speedometer, which read 120 mph. “Are you on your way to church?” he teased Tom, “My grandma drives faster than that coming out of her driveway.” Steve responded by flooring the gas pedal. As the engine roared, Steve replied “if we go much faster, we will travel back in time.”

After about ten harrowing minutes, Steve saw the tan Caprice in the distance. He switched off the lights and siren and slowed to a more reasonable pace. Steve followed at a discreet distance, but close enough that Tom could confirm the tag number with a set of binoculars.

Tom called the dispatcher and gave their current location and stated that they were behind the vehicle awaiting backup. The dispatcher replied that backup was in route to their location, and would be there shortly.

Chapter 46

Diablo saw a car come speeding up behind them, and slow down to keep pace with their car. He wanted to find out if they were being followed, so he slowed to about 35 miles per hour for a minute or so, and then sped up to 80 miles per hour. The car stayed behind them, so he knew that the car was following them. Time to get creative, he thought, as he stomped the gas pedal to the floor.

Doc turned his head and stared in horror at Diablo, as he started laughing maniacally. “What the hell are you doing? Fast, slow, fast, now crazy… do you need medication?” said Doc.

“The cops are behind us, and I don’t want to go back to prison, so I’m trying to lose them,” said Diablo.

The Chevy Caprice was now going over a hundred miles per hour, and weaving through the other cars on the highway. The sound of the roaring engine and the squealing of the tires was like a drug to Diablo. His adrenaline was flowing and his heart felt like it was beating a million times a minute. His vision narrowed, and sweat beaded on his forehead. He realized in a flash that he had been laughing like a crazy person, and when he saw the terrified look on Doc’s face, it just made him laugh harder. The other car was keeping up with them, so Diablo concluded that he would have to step it up a notch or two.

Diablo jerked the steering wheel to the left, and clipped a minivan causing it to swerve and skid across the lanes. The minivan struck a Honda Accord, which spun around to face oncoming traffic. Pretty soon, cars were skidding in every direction and colliding with other cars and trucks. All of this happened between the Police and the Caprice. This gave Diablo enough of a lead that he exited at the next off ramp, leaving the mess he had made behind.

Diablo looked in the rearview mirror, and saw a car exit the highway behind them. The car was a long ways back, but Diablo was sure they were still being followed. Diablo decided that he had had enough of this game, and when he made a right turn a few miles later, he opened his door and shouted to Doc “You’re on your own, now. I’m out of here.” Diablo tucked his chin and dove out of the car, rolling over and over into the intersection, where he was barely missed by a passing car. Doc screamed as the driverless Caprice went careening out of control.

Diablo got to his feet and ran to the nearest hedgerow that lined the street, diving into it for concealment. He watched the Caprice weaving down the road, and smiled when he remembered the shocked look on Doc’s face just before he had dived out the door and onto the street. He assessed the damage, and found that other than a few cuts and scrapes, he seemed to be ok.

Chapter 47

Doc leaned over and grabbed the steering wheel, trying to keep the car on the road. What the hell was Diablo thinking? That idiot was going to get caught, if he didn’t get killed first. Doc managed to slide behind the wheel just in time to careen into a fire hydrant.

The car came to an abrupt stop, and as Doc’s face smashed into the steering wheel, water went spraying up from the broken hydrant. That wasn’t at all like the movies, thought Doc, as the taste of blood flooded his broken mouth. Doc started picking hairs out of his mouth and wondered where the hair had come from. He looked down at his arm and realized that he had bitten a fair sized chunk out of his arm. His teeth felt loose, and his lips were bleeding badly as well.

Doc tried to open the driver’s door, but the door wouldn’t budge. Next, he tried the passenger doors, and discovered that they were stuck closed as well. Doc saw a wisp of steam rising up from the hood of the smashed car, and mistook it for smoke. Suddenly, Doc had a vision of himself stuck in a burning car, and he started to panic. He clawed frantically at the windows, momentarily forgetting how to open them. He flailed about trying to break the windows with his fist, and then with any object he could find in the car, and then he tried kicking the windows to break them. For whatever reason, Doc was unable to break the windows, and he started screaming and wildly thrashing around like a trapped animal.

Doc started hyperventilating and was on the verge of a full-scale panic attack. He started fishing around for a paper bag, because he had seen people breathe into a paper bag when they were panicked in the movies. He could not find a paper bag, but he found an old gym sock under the back seat. It stunk badly, but it had to work, he told himself. He held the sock over his mouth and started throwing himself into the windows, to try to escape from the vehicle which he was sure was about to blow up.

As if this wasn’t enough, the car started to fill with water from the broken fire hydrant. The water was now up to his chest, and rising, since it had nowhere to go. A primal scream escaped Doc’s lips, as he desperately clawed at the back seat in an effort to rip the upholstery so he could exit the car through the trunk. Doc knew that if he made it to the trunk, most cars had a safety release inside the trunk, which would allow him to open it from the inside and escape this “death trap.” This continued for several minutes, until he heard a tap at the driver’s side window.

Chapter 48

Steve looked inside the wrecked Caprice and what he saw made him laugh. A one armed man was thrashing about like a trapped wolverine slapping and kicking the windows, and clawing at the seats. The man let out a scream that would have rivaled any horror movie heroine. To top that, he had a dirty gym sock dangling from his mouth, and a crazy, frantic look in his eyes. Tom tapped on the driver’s window calmly with his pistol, and the man inside the car froze in mid-motion.

“Help!” screamed the man with sweat beading on his forehead and a wild look in his eyes.

“Police, open the door!” shouted Tom.

“I can’t!” the man moaned.

“Stand back!” Tom shouted, as he struck the window with his pistol. The window shattered, and thousands of little cubes of safety glass rained in on the trapped man. Tom raked the rest of the glass out of the window frame, and Steve reached in for the terrified man, who gratefully reached for Steve’s hand.

Once out of the vehicle, the man thanked Steve and Tom, and seemed so relieved that he even tried to hug Tom, who would have none of that. It occurred to Steve that Tom was more than just a little homophobic, and was definitely not a hugger.

Steve decided to have a little fun with this, and chided Tom, saying “Aw, come on Tom, give him a hug. You just saved his life, after all.”

Tom grimaced at Steve as he backed away from the one armed man, who was still trying to hug him. “What the hell, man!” shouted Tom as he tried to back away from the crazed man.

Steve saw that Tom had had enough, and spun the man around to get a good look at his face. He instantly recognized the man as Doc, and told him that he was under arrest. Since he had one arm, Steve put a belly chain around Doc’s waist, and looped a par of handcuffs through the links of the chain securing Doc’s one arm. Doc went willingly, and even seemed grateful to Steve and Tom for arresting him.

“Thank you, officer,” said Doc. “Please take me back to jail, I don’t think I could survive another day on the run.”

Steve started laughing when he thought about all the things that this wretched human had been through since he escaped from the facility. He asked Doc, “Where are your other two partners?”

“You mean Diablo and Slasher?” Doc asked.

“Of course,” Steve said.

“Diablo dove out of the car a few minutes ago just before it crashed, and I haven’t seen Slasher since the cave.”

“Where did he dive out of the car?” asked Tom.

“At the last intersection, we took a sharp right turn, and he dove out in the middle of the turn,” said Doc.

Steve ushered Doc into the back seat of a patrol car that had just arrived, and told the officer to take the prisoner back to the Sheriff’s Office for questioning.

Steve and Tom got into their car and Tom fired up the engine as Steve called it in on the radio. They circled the block looking for anything unusual, but nothing caught their eye. Soon the place would be crawling with cops, and Diablo wouldn’t stand a chance. Would he get desperate enough to try to take hostages? At the thought of this, Steve and Tom renewed their search with a greater sense of urgency, shining their flashlights into side yards and hedges as they slowly cruised the street.

Chapter 49

Diablo was hiding in the shadows behind one of the two-story houses that lined the street. He watched as a car slowly drifted by, it’s occupants shining a flashlight between the houses as it passed. He shrunk back a little further in the bushes hoping that they wouldn’t see him.

After the car passed, Diablo crept to the back door of the house, thinking that it would be much easier to hide inside of one of these houses, than outside. He carefully tried the doorknob, and found it locked. Damn, he thought, now I’ll have to break the window to get in.

Diablo struck the windowpane closest to the doorknob with his elbow, shattering it. He swept the glass shards out of the frame, reached in through the opening, and unlocked the door. Turning the knob, he entered the dark house.

Inside the house, Diablo listened intently to see if he heard any people moving about or whispering. Emboldened by the silence, he crept through the kitchen to the living room. He stopped again, listening for any sounds, but again, he heard none.

Diablo walked through the house a little less cautiously now, looking at family photos on the walls, and checking out the liquor cabinet. The liquor cabinet was unlocked, and he opened it and spied a bottle of twelve-year-old scotch. He pulled the bottle out and cracked the seal on the cap. Diablo raised the bottle to his lips and took a long swig. The brown liquid was delicious, but burned like fire going down his throat. It seemed for a second to suck the oxygen out of his lungs, and this caused him to cough involuntarily.

Diablo set the bottle down cursing himself for his stupidity, and listened again for noises. He thought he heard a rustling noise coming from one of the rooms upstairs. Carefully, Diablo tiptoed through the living room toward the stairs. Suddenly, it occurred to Diablo that he hoped that the house was not vacant, so he could harvest more souls. He crept back to the kitchen and grabbed a large knife and a meat tenderizer mallet.

Diablo carefully climbed the stairs, testing every step before putting his full weight on it. He did not want to step on a creaky step and tip his victims off. At the top of the stairs, there was a bedroom on the right. The room was dark, and quiet. Children’s toys littered the floor, and made it nearly impossible to walk through the room. When Diablo finally made it to the bed, he whipped back the sheets and discovered that the bed was empty.

Diablo crept back out of the room and tiptoed to the next bedroom on the right. This room seemed to belong to a teenage or adolescent girl. Posters of boy bands decorated the walls, and there was a pink desk with a pink lampshade on a white lamp on the desk. Clothes lay scattered all over the floor, and Diablo picked his way to the bed, rubbing his hands together like a silent film villain. When he pulled the covers back, he realized that this bed was also vacant.

What the hell is going on here? he thought. Maybe there’s nobody home, after all. Diablo moved less cautiously, thinking that he was wasting his time being cautious, if nobody was here. When he came to the last bedroom, he flicked on the light, and instantly regretted it. Standing before him was a little old lady with a double barrel shotgun in her hands. She looked to be about eighty years old, and had a full head of white hair.

“Strip,” she ordered him. Startled, he dropped the knife, which clattered to the floor and slid under a dresser nearby. Not knowing what else to do, Diablo peeled off his clothes. Tossing him a set of handcuffs, she ordered him to lie on his back on the bed and handcuff himself to the head of the bed. He reluctantly complied, feeling more foolish by the second.

“My name is Tilly, and my husband died years ago, and it’s been years since I had a gentleman caller,” she said.

“Can I have a blindfold, at least,” Diablo pleaded.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Tilly said, “I want you to remember every detail for years to come.”

Diablo shuttered, and tried to clamp his eyes closed as the old lady undoubtedly was stripping off her clothes. He heard an item of clothing drop to the floor. That was probably her robe, he thought. Diablo shuttered as he heard other clothing items drop to the floor. He felt her weight on the bed, and desperately clamped his eyes closed as tightly as he could. Suddenly he felt his eyelid being pulled open and discovered to his horror that Tilly was taping his eyelids open. Next, she forced a pill down his throat.

“What was that?” he gasped.

“Viagra. I wouldn’t want you to quit on me early,” she said.

The next hour and a half would haunt Diablo for the rest of his life. The old lady was very vigorous for someone of such advanced years, and Diablo thought to himself that he’d now been violated by both a bull and an old lady.

When she had finished with him, Tilly gave Diablo a wink, which made him shudder, and said “Now wasn’t it worth it?”

Diablo suddenly felt the urge to vomit, and turned his head to the side and retched all over the bed. Tilly looked at him in disgust and said, “At least I didn’t shoot you.”

Diablo mumbled “I wish you had.”

 

Chapter 50

Steve heard a call come over the radio, indicating that a house had been broken into nearby, and that the suspect was being held for the police. Steve answered the radio telling the dispatcher that he and Tom were in the area and would respond.

Upon arrival, Steve and Tom were greeted by a little old lady, who introduced herself to them as Tilly Armbruster. Tilly told them about the stranger who had broken into her house, and showed them the window that had been shattered on the back door. She led them upstairs to her bedroom, where a naked man lay handcuffed to her bed. Steve and Tom both did a double take. An eighty-year-old woman who stood barely four and a half feet tall had captured the most dangerous fugitive they had ever seen. Not only had she captured him, but it appeared as if she had tortured him judging by the fact that he was handcuffed naked to the bed, and had apparently barfed all over the bed.

Diablo looked pleadingly at Steve and Tom, and with tears in his eyes, begged them to take him to jail. Taking in the whole scene, it suddenly hit Steve. “Oh my gosh! Tilly you old rascal!” said Steve. Instantly Tom also understood, and the two of them laughed so hard their sides started hurting. Tilly was blushing, but looked quite proud of herself.

Tom put another set of handcuffs on Diablo, and cuffed him behind his back. Steve took a pair of pants that Tilly gave him, and pulled them onto Diablo. Then he pulled a t-shirt over Diablo’s head and down over his arms. Steve noticed that Diablo had a raging boner, and shook his head. He scolded Diablo, saying, “ you should be ashamed of yourself, taking advantage of a sweet little old lady like that.” Diablo looked like he was going to throw up again, and croaked “helpless? Hardly.” Tom handed the set of handcuffs back to Tilly, who winked at him and said, “are you sure that you couldn’t stay for a little while, officer?”

Steve felt Diablo shudder as he escorted him out of the room.

“No, ma’am,” said Tom, “our work here is done.”

“Pity,” said Tilly, “it would have been fun.”

Chapter 51

Fred and Melissa sat in the living room of their house. It was six months since those criminals had nearly killed Melissa, and she was still recovering. When she had been admitted to the hospital, nobody had thought that she would survive. She had seven broken ribs, a punctured lung, broken bones in her cheeks and nose, and internal bleeding. The doctors had told her that it was a miracle she had survived.

Her wounds had healed, but she felt damaged emotionally. How could someone be so callous? They had left her to die without a second thought. Melissa had seen the news reports, and understood that two of the three criminals had been caught, but that the third one was still at large.

Fred was still furious about the whole ordeal, and Melissa had to talk him out of driving to the courthouse to watch the trials that ensued. In some ways, she thought that Fred had been hit harder by this than she had. He still had nightmares, and often awoke screaming and thrashing about like he was fighting some invisible enemy.

George and his wife had been grateful for Fred’s help, and had offered to help Fred fix his house, but Fred refused, saying that fixing the house relaxed him. Melissa knew that Fred just didn’t want George to see him get emotional as he pieced together all of their broken and torn pictures.

The trials had been quick and fairly uneventful, and in the end, both had been sentenced to death for multiple counts of first-degree murder. Diablo had acted completely unrepentant, but Doc had acted puzzled and confused during most of his trail. When the verdict had been read, Diablo stood up and mooned the jury, which sent a loud gasp and even a scream through the jurors. Considering the ordeal he had suffered, this was a particularly disgusting thing to do.

Doc had passed out in the middle of the courtroom when the verdict was read and the sentence was imposed by the judge. He apparently couldn’t believe that this was happening to him. He felt that he should be recognized for his skills as a doctor.

Fred heard a rumor that the third criminal, the one they called Slasher, had fled the United States and moved to Canada or Europe. Fred hoped that they would catch him too, because he feared that this criminal might return to finish the job.

Every time Fred would go out at night to check on the animals, he would imagine some psycho lurking in the shadows waiting to kill him. He knew that this feeling would pass eventually, and scolded himself for being so foolish, but that didn’t seem to make it any easier.

Melissa had her share of nightmares, and kept waking up in the middle of the night thinking that someone had snuck into their house. Fred had been so understanding, and had gotten up and checked the house every time she had asked him to. The first time she had done this, Fred had been so asleep that he had grabbed his shotgun and nearly shot the cat.

The community had pitched together and had paid for Melissa’s hospital bills, for which they were grateful. Every week the two detectives, Steve and Tom had stopped by to make sure they were doing well. Melissa thought that Tom felt guilty about having to leave her to try to catch the criminals, but she has assured him that he had done the right thing. He had, after all, saved her life.

Epilogue

On a dark street in Chicago, a figure emerged from the shadows, and was illuminated by the streetlights. His face was shaded from view by the hat he wore low on his brow. He wore a Cubs jacket, and looked completely unremarkable at first glance. People passing by never gave him a second thought, which was the way he liked it. There was an art to blending in, and Slasher was an expert. It had taken him several weeks to bicycle here from Southern Indiana, but he had arrived here without fanfare, and without getting caught by the police. He had seen a back alley surgeon when he arrived in Chicago, and now, a year later, his jaw looked as normal as it ever could. He grew a beard and had a ponytail now, and looked so different that no one would ever recognize him from the wanted posters he had seen in the post office.

Slasher was working at a garage, and earning enough money to survive, but not comfortably. His plan was to lay low for a while, build a new identity, and then cross the border into Canada, where he could be free at last. He had a new identity, thanks to a counterfeiter he had met, and he had changed his appearance. As long as he stayed out of trouble and stuck to the shadows, he should be just fine.

He wasn’t fond of the job, but it gave credibility to his new identity, and it helped him pay the bills. Slasher vowed to try to appear legit at least until he made it to Canada. He wished he could find work as a salesman, but he knew that he would just kill again if he did, so he preferred to take a job where he would never have to deal with people.

The trip had been difficult, especially when he had run out of food. Learning to trap and eat squirrels had been a challenge, but he had risen to the challenge, and had survived. He hadn’t appreciated how far away Chicago had been, and it seemed to take forever for him to arrive there.

Life in Chicago had been even tougher, because everything cost money, which he didn’t have. He had robbed a few drunks until he got enough money to eat and pay for a room at a seedy hotel. They had been easy targets, and they would be unlikely to remember his face when they reported it to the police.

The back alley surgeon had been nightmarish, and had used a glass of whiskey to sterilize the instruments. After the procedure, the quack actually drank the whiskey, which was left in the glass. The procedure was a blur to him now, and he had tried to forget it. On a positive note, however, his jaw was fully operational now, and he was sure that the surgery was unreported.

Slasher had found a document expert who was able to make him a fake Illinois driver license and Social Security card, and after robbing a few more drunks, he was able to pay for these documents. Now he had a new identity, and could travel more freely. His new name was George Blutowski, in homage to John Belushi’s character in the movie Animal House.

With his new identity, Slasher applied for a job at a garage. The job paid minimum wage at the beginning, but he was good with his hands and got pay promotions quickly. He liked the work, and could easily settle for this life, but he always had the nagging feeling that someone was watching him, and he knew that if he screwed up and got caught, he would be back in prison for the rest of his life. This time, he was sure, they would bury him in some creepy cell deep below the prison, where he would never see daylight again.

Slasher bought a set of throwing knives with the money he was earning at the garage, and set up a target behind the garage. Whenever he went on break, and sometimes after work, he would practice throwing the knives at the target. Eventually, he got so good that he couldn’t miss. Next, he hung the target from a rope and swung it, so he could practice hitting a moving target. He taught himself to throw the knives between his legs and over his shoulder, as well as blindfolded. After practicing for a year, he was good enough that word spread, and people would line up in the alley behind the garage to see him throw knives. Slasher’s boss, Fred Thompson, started charging people five dollars each, to see Slasher throw knives. At the end of the day, Fred had collected two hundred dollars, which he split sixty/forty with Slasher.

This continued for six months, until one night a tall man in a black coat appeared out of the shadows. He handed Slasher a business card and asked him if he wanted to travel the world and thrill larger audiences. The card indicated that the man’s name was John Sinestro, and that he was the owner of a circus. Suddenly, it occurred to Slasher that he would be able to escape to another country with complete anonymity by joining the circus under his false name, and assuming a stage name. Once out of the United States, he could travel wherever he wanted.

Slasher shook the man’s hand and agreed to join the circus. Although Fred was heartbroken at losing the extra income and his best mechanic, he reluctantly agree to let Slasher go, knowing that Slasher was to good to perform for crowds in a alley behind a garage.

Slasher went back to his rented room, and gathered all of his belongings, which took about ten minutes, and the next day he took a train to the address that the man had given him.

Slasher could see the circus tents in the field from the train station. Large, gaudy striped tents were set up in the middle of a field. A midway and smaller tents seemed to lead the way to the largest tent. “No wonder they call it the ‘big top’,” mumbled Slasher to himself.

A voice behind him said, “Welcome to your new home, George.”

Slasher jumped about a foot, and spun around in surprise. John Sinestro stood behind him on the train platform with a slightly amused look on his face.

“Glad you could make it, my boy,” Sinestro said.

“Thanks,” said Slasher, “I was looking for a change.”

“Well, you found one, all right,” said Sinestro. “How would you like me to show you around?”

“Sure,” said Slasher.

Following Sinestro, Slasher entered the park through the service entrance. The smell of hay, peanuts, and cotton candy instantly hit Slasher’s nostrils, reminding him of his childhood before his parents had died. His dad had taken him to a circus like this when he was eight years old, and Slasher had been amazed. Slasher had thought at the time, that it would be really fun to join the circus, now years later, here he was.

As Slasher entered the gate, a great weight seemed to lift from his shoulders. He knew that circus workers were like a tight-knit family, and they would protect him if needed. For the first time in many years, he felt like he was finally free.

********

Foreword

 

I started writing this story while in college many years ago. I wasn’t even married at the time. In one of my wife’s spring-cleaning moods she found it. I had probably written about five hundred words, but she encouraged me to sit down and write. As a good husband that I am, I decided to do just that. It was much better than helping her clean. She is a drill sergeant when she decides to clean and loves delegating. LOL.

 

I hope you like the end result. I would greatly appreciate your thoughts and ratings.

 

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About the Author

 

I am a native Floridian who lives in North Florida. When I was young, my brother and I moved several times with our parents. Some of my fondest memories of childhood were spent in a small town in Indiana in a much more innocent time, when people never locked their doors.

I enjoy mystery, comedy, and a touch of the absurd. I owe this to the years I lived in Miami, and to my favorite authors, Dave Berry, Carl Hiaasen, and Donald E. Westlake. As a teenager, I read as many books as I could find by these fine authors, and read many editorial columns by Mr. Berry.

As soon as I was old enough, I joined the Army, and owe much of my independence and self-discipline to the years spent there. I have an immense amount of respect for the men and women of our military, and most of my extended family are veterans as well.

I spent nearly thirty years of my life as a police officer after I got out of the Army, and worked with some of the most loyal, dependable, self-sacrificing people in the world. Despite the long hours and terrible conditions we often found ourselves in, day after day we still got the job done right.

I have been married for twenty-six years to the kindest, most supportive woman I’ve ever known. She has been there through thick and thin, and has been my shelter in the storm, so to speak.

I have several hobbies, such as: carpentry, leatherwork, and knife throwing. I am a musician and play several instruments in my spare time and on weekends. These hobbies always helped me de-stress, and finally gave me a sense of accomplishment.

All of the characters in this book are fictional, and any resemblance to real people is merely coincidental. That being said, it would be impossible not to use character traits from people I have come in contact with at one time or another.

In addition to this book, I have written several short stories, which I will publish soon as well. I hope you have enjoyed this book.

-Anthony

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Getaway

Three psychotic killers manage to escape from prison and wander the countryside looking for new victims. Things don't go exactly as they planned though, and soon the police are closing in on them and everything seems to be going wrong for the trio. Will the police recapture them, or will they survive that long?

  • Author: Gabriela Louis
  • Published: 2016-02-06 00:50:18
  • Words: 45623
Getaway Getaway