Willing Sacrifice: Chapter 22




August 6th


The sunlight, as it filtered through the trees, cast twinkling specks of light and shadow across Kian’s face. On any other day, she might have watched as she lay there, enjoying the bright morning sun on the gossamer curtains surrounding her bed. Almost like fairies, the prisms formed from sunbeams on sequined pillows danced on her walls.

Barely past six in the morning, the day was already hot and muggy and it would get worse, she knew. So unlike the summers she remembered as a child.

She wiggled into her faded denim cut-offs, found her lacy demi-bra, castoff the night before. She then pulled on an electric orange cami, vibrant against her tussled red hair. She went over to close the windows against the already growing heat. The rotation of the ceiling fan continued, slow and lazy. She left it running. Any movement of the air was good.

Kian opened her door and tiptoed downstairs. When she reached the living room, she was surprised to find Aidan missing from her sofa, the sheet neatly folded under the pillow. Probably out scouting around, she decided as she busied herself in the kitchen. She made coffee in the Keurig, fed Lucky, and grabbed a yogurt for herself.

Not sure what else to do, Kian grabbed her laptop from the kitchen counter and set it on the dining table. She hadn’t checked her email since Jacob’s death, and she wondered what her friends might be up to. Lucky jumped into her lap and settled there, his contented purr keeping her company.

After reading a mountain of birthday wishes, Kian opened one from Cathy. “After your unforgettable 27th birthday, hope this one is quieter.” Her message brought back the memories: Cathy shot and lying on the emergency room floor in a pool of her own blood, Kian kneeling beside Cathy trying to staunch the flow.

Now, on her 28th birthday, thugs were shooting at her. The irony of it struck her as almost funny. She scratched Lucky behind the ears and then checked the time on her computer. Only 6:30 AM. “Another eventful birthday, I am afraid. Call u later.” She did not want to worry her friend with the details. Satisfied the message said enough, she hit send.

Kian leaned back and was about to close her laptop when Lucky took a swipe at the curser. Kian kissed the top of his head before swirling her finger on the track pad, causing the curser to dance on the screen. Lucky studied it and crouched to pounce. Just as he did, there was a beep and a new message appeared. Lucky hissed and nipped at Kian’s hand as she opened it. The address read, AScott@FBI.gov. Odd he’d email me, he’s never seen me use my computer. The message read, “Meet me in shed. Urgent.”

Alerted now, Kian got up and cautiously stepped closer to the side window that overlooked the shed. She peered out. The shed door was open.

Her computer beeped again. AScott. “I saw you at the window. It’s safe. Come out.”

Apprehension growing, Kian reached out with her awareness. She was being watched, that much she knew. But she did not think it was Aidan. Standing at the dining table, she placed her fingers on the keyboard and typed, “U R not Aidan. Show yourself.” Lucky nipped at her again.

The screen remained still. For a long moment Kian held her breath. Then a new message appeared. “I have Aidan. Come out.” There was a momentary pause, then another message. “NOW! I know where Cathy lives.”

Oh my god!

Kian grabbed Lucky and pushed him toward the steps. She called after him, “Go. Now. Hide,” before turning back to her computer. Lucky tore up the stairs. All was quiet again as Kian debated about what to do next. Then she heard Lucky’s favorite toy, a ping-pong ball, bouncing on the hard wood floors above her. Dammit, Lucky, I don’t have time for this! I said hide!

Fear and anger rising, Kian turned back to her computer and pounded out, “Show yourself.”

“Come to the window.”

Kian did. This time Power stood in plain sight, one hand bloody and wrapped in an old rag, the other pointing a gun back into the shed.

“I want to see Aidan first,” Kian called out.

The Ping-Pong ball bounced down the steps. Kian snapped around to scold Lucky, but instead she saw Jimbo, barefoot and looking more like a bear coming out of hibernation than a human. “Get in front of the fireplace,” he growled when he reached the bottom step. He peered out the glass panel to the right of the front door. “Power may have friends.”

“But he has Aidan,” Kian objected.

“It’s a ruse. Nobody gets Scotty unless he wants to get got! Especially not that clown. Now, please, you need to take cover.”

Kian took three steps to her right and sat on the hearth.

Jimbo cupped his hands around his mouth and pierced the air with a guttural screech. “Let’s see how long it takes those Bigfoot baboons to get here.”

Moments passed. They heard a gunshot. It came from the shed.

“Stay down. I’ll check.” Jimbo crept behind the sofa and over to the side window. With the wall shielding him, he let out another Bigfoot howl, stole a quick glance, and crouched back down again. “Power is gone,” he said.

There were footsteps on the porch.

“Quick, get behind the sofa,” Jimbo whispered. “And stay flat.” Jimbo made his way back to the front door, using the furniture for cover.

Kian peeked out from behind the sofa to see Power peering in the living room window. Jimbo mumbled, “Cheeky bastard,” and flattened himself against the wall next to the front door.

Kian’s shoulders tighten. She ducked back down. “Is he going to break in?”

“Don’t know.”

The door rattled. “Kian, open up,” Power shouted. “I know you’re in there. Kian, don’t make me break in.”

“Guess he is,” Jimbo said. He pulled his Sig-Sauer from his waistband, and released the safety, keeping it pointed at the floor.

Kian heard the glass panel shatter, allowing easy access to the lock. She peeked out again.

Power used the butt of his gun to clear the shards away. He reached in to open the door, but before he could unlock it, there was a scuffle outside. The hand disappeared. There was a loud thud, and the hand reappeared, but then withdrew again. They heard a second thud, this one heavier than the first. Kian ducked back down.

Someone rapped on the front window.

“Hey, guys, I could use some help out here.” It was Aidan.

Jimbo reached over and opened the door. Kian rushed to his side and together they peered out in time to see Aidan stepping over two bodies heaped on the porch.

“Place is crawling with perps and Bigfoot bozos,” Aidan told Kian before turning to Jimbo. “I can’t tell which is which, or which witch is what as the case may be,” he sniggered. Kian watched the two men slap their thighs and laugh themselves silly, all the while lumbering around like Bigfoot baboons.

Finally, after a final chorus of “I’m off to find the Bigfoot,” Jimbo grabbed Power by the armpits and dragged him inside.

Still laughing, Aidan hoisted an unconscious Owen over his shoulder. With the lanky officer precariously perched and looking more like a rag doll than a human, Aidan crossed to the sofa, leaned over, and deposited him on the seat.

Too long for the sofa, Owen lay there with his head awkwardly curled against one armrest. His back was arched, his knees bent, and his feet splayed out on the floor. Kian ran over and gently lifting his head. She placed it on Aidan’s pillow. She then lifted his legs and rested his bent knees against the overstuffed back. Blood from a cut on his nose stained his orange tee shirt.

“He’ll be fine,” Aidan assured her. “He tried to stop Power but Power was too big for him. Owen got his head knocked against the door, that’s all.”

“That’s all? That’s all?” Still shaking, Kian turned on him. “This isn’t Keystone cops. You know that, right?” Disgusted, she turned her attention back to Owen.

“I thought which witch was pretty funny myself,” Jimbo muttered, still holding Power by his armpits. But Aidan was looking at the sofa where Owen groaned and began pushing himself up on his shaking elbows.

“Shhh, quiet,” Kian murmured. She checked his pulse and then placed her ear to his chest. His breathing was shallow, but steady. “You got a lump on your head,” she told him, stroking it gently. She could feel Aidan watching her, and she found it annoying.


Photo Attibution:

Gwen and James Anderson [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons





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