Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.''
Happy April Fools' Day!
I'm updating! No joke. This is the full version of Chapter Two. I really want to thank my betas, smalltown, GBFreak1, and MusicalLuna. You all have my everlasting gratitude. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, and thank you!
I dedicate this chapter to my wonderful betas and as always, my lovely readers. :)
The first few explosions had shocked Detective Lassiter stupid. Flames roaring, debris flying everywhere; the whole situation was a trap. General Sherman would have been proud. Until now, Lassiter hadn't realized how easily a drive-in theater could turn into a war zone.
Another car blew up. Dammit.
Lassiter snapped out of his stupor. "Get these people out of here!" he yelled into his radio and to any other officers who could hear him. He distantly saw Yang's car take off, but decided he couldn't deal with that now. He needed to get these people to safety; he needed his men to get them to safety.
The patrons had already decided to extricate themselves from the theater and were panicking big time. Going from one of the few not in a car to not being able to see the group a few feet in front of him, Lassiter was having a hard time controlling the situation.
People were stampeding and jumbling into tearing, rampaging crowds that struggled and fought to get through the parking lot. In several cases, individuals had fallen and were being trampled on. Lassiter went to one woman's aid and commanded the people to stand aside, but no one did. To make them move away he ended up shoving several people aside. He quickly grabbed the now unconscious woman, checked her pulse-there but slightly erratic-and threw her over his shoulder.
Another car exploded. He heard screams, but could do nothing for them. He hoped his men had gotten there in time.
Suddenly he felt someone push past him. Guster? The man was getting through the crowd like an armor piercing round penetrating a bulletproof vest.
For the first time in several minutes, Lassiter thought about Spencer. That crazy psychopath wanted Shawn the whole time. Lassiter played right into Yang's hands, and now he was reaping the consequences. Lassiter could only hope Spencer was still alive, but privately knew he had failed the young man.
It was all a trap. General Sherman would have been proud.
Blinding white light.
Burning flames and melting plastics.
His nose screamed in disgust.
After the white light and orange, Gus could only see his best friend being driven away.
SHAWN! SHAWN! SHAWN!
Gus couldn't move, breathe. He didn't know if he had been calling out Shawn's name or not, but someone did; and those were the only words he could hear. Yang was abducting his best friend, and he couldn't even move his feet.
Another car ignited. Gus's ears popped and reality returned. People had already escaped their cars and were scurrying for safety. He knew he had to get to safety, but before he even started to leave, he heard frantic knocking right behind him. He had been leaning against a car? Gus turned around and saw a little girl covering her nose and pounding on the car window.
He tried to open her door, but it wouldn't budge. Stupid child safety lock!
However, he tried to open the front door, and suddenly realized why the girl hadn't escaped through this route. Both parents were unconscious.
Gus motioned the girl to unlock the door, but she frantically shook her head.
Okay, he thought, I'm going to have to do this the hard way.
He gave the side window a few good kicks causing the girl to move back and popped the plastic onto the seat.
Gus could now see why the girl didn't move to the front. Lying on the backseat car floor, a baby wailed through a tissue covering its mouth.
Gus said with the most soothing voice he could muster , "Can you carefully pick up your brother and hold him as tight as you can?"
The girl nodded and did as she was told, and Gus quickly pulled them out through the window, cradling in his arms both the girl and the baby.
"Mom?" He could barely hear the girl's words over the sounds of screaming, fire crackles, and Police sirens. "Dad?"
"They'll be okay," Gus said, although he had no clue what would happen. He couldn't carry them as well. With the threat of another imminent explosion, Gus made his choice. He was taking the kids to safety.
"Now, I'm about to run fast. Can you hold onto your brother tightly for me?"
She nodded, tightening her grip.
Running faster than he had ever run in his life, Gus sprinted and swerved through the stampede of people.
Just a little bit more and they'll be safe was Gus's pulsing, frantic mantra.
Through the increasing grey smoke, he saw flashing red, white, and blue lights.
Another car exploded. Gus felt something sharp bite his forehead, but he did his best to shield the kids. His head hurt like hell, but he couldn't worry about that. He had to get them to safety. Miraculously, he ran even faster. He needed to make it to safety. They would make it.
The lights were getting closer, but the little girl started coughing uncontrollably.
"Just hang on," Gus yelled, hoping she'd hear, "we're almost there."
Finally, Gus saw the paramedics… and Juliet. And they saw him too!
"We'll take it from here," a paramedic said, taking the baby into his arms. Another technician took the girl from Gus and secured an oxygen mask, while placing her on a stretcher.
With the children gone, Gus now felt the effects of the fumes. He started hacking. Oh joy, Gus thought, while still coughing, just what I always wanted. Even though an oxygen mask was secured over his nose and mouth, Gus still felt dizzy. What the…?
"Gus!" Juliet said, finally caught up to him.
"Juliet," Gus said, although the words were muffled. Why did he feel so nauseous?
"You're bleeding," she said, in a very agitated voice.
Oh right, that's why he wanted to throw up.
"Juliet," Gus said, feeling the liquid running down his forehead. He had no stretcher or best friend to catch him, but the concrete would do.
She looked at him, blue eyes wide and frozen, but he didn't care.
"Juliet," He said again, "I think I'm going to take a nap."
He fell to the ground. Everything went dark.
"Get these people out of here!"
Juliet could no longer see her partner, a few mere seconds had turned the drive-in into a mall on black Friday, but she heard his words. They underestimated Yang. Even several police officers weren't enough. Mr. Yang knew just how to strategically place bombs to cause the most damage. He had only left a few ways to escape the flames. Juliet hoped there wasn't a reason for that too.
"Calm down! No shoving!" Juliet yelled, but the panicked crowd ignored her.
Giving up on crowd control, Juliet forced her way through the throngs of people, checking cars for injured passengers. She assisted mostly disoriented or lightly injured people. Some were just afraid to leave, but she dragged them out. No one had any way of telling when the next car explosion, either by Yang or proximity, would go off.
Another car burst into flames. The smoke heated her face like a hair dryer, but her reflexes were quicker. She covered her nose and mouth, trying not to inhale the fumes. She couldn't see the sky or even a few feet in front of her. Luckily, the smoke quickly started dissipating.
Oh, God, Juliet thought, too close.
"Somebody, help us!" She heard a young woman yell.
Okay, you can do this. Just don't inhale too deeply.
Juliet steeled herself and then pushed her way through the clouds of thick gray ash and the swarms of patrons until she came across a few teenagers standing next to their open passenger door. Fortunately, the smoke was slightly thinner here.
However, one young woman was coughing and wailing. The other two teens were trying to help their injured friend and were having no luck, because they couldn't stop the young man from flapping like an out-of water, upright fish. He screamed through profusely spurting blood.
"Hold him down," Juliet said, "I'll try to stop the bleeding."
They looked wary.
"I'm a police officer," Juliet said, more forcibly than she felt, "I'm trained for this."
Juliet wasn't a doctor or even an EMT, but she was pretty damn sure the kid had a broken jaw; after all growing up with all brothers, broken jaws were a common side effect.
"Sir, calm down. Calm down," Juliet said and when he didn't, she grabbed his head. If she didn't calm him down soon, he'd surely get smoke inhalation, which would be about a thousand times worse than a bleeding jaw. "Spit."
Thank God, Juliet thought when the boy complied, His gag reflex is okay.
Juliet picked up his hands and placed them under his chin, "Now, I want you to hold your jaw to your head, but don't try to straighten your jaw. Just hold it unless you unless you feel like you're going to throw up."
The boy didn't nod, but she could feel his hands starting to put pressure on his chin. She had to get these kids out of here quick.
"Great job. Just hang in there," Juliet said. She put her arm underneath his shoulder and started to help him up. The teenager let out a gargled scream and quickly expelled more blood (as well as several other bodily fluids). If their circumstances had been anything less than dire, Juliet would have stopped trying to move him.
Juliet always carried a couple of tissues in her pocket. She sometimes suffered from slight allergies, though thankfully not from cats, so she could remember the times she was forced to wipe her nose on her sleeve. She once got teased for a sleeve wipe, and ever since, she carried those tissues. Plus, she could also help someone else if he or she needed a tissue. Like right now.
Careful not to drop or jostle him, she reached into her pocket and pulled out one soft paper savior.
"Here," Juliet said. Carefully leaving his palm holding his jaw, she tenderly pried a few fingers slightly from his face. Poor thing was going to scream more, but she had to prevent his lungs from inhaling the poison fog that seemed to be thickening, "I need you to hold this tissue over you while you scream. Again, only take it off if you need to spit."
Although the boy did as she said, muffling his screaming but protecting his lungs, Juliet could see his eyes widen and beg her to ease his pain.
She wished she could.
"It's going to be okay," she said, "we're going to get through this."
Juliet looked at the other boy. Although he wasn't screaming or crying, his hands trembled. She couldn't blame him. Another car had just blown its proverbial top, and now the smoke was almost thick enough that she could barely see anything other than his silhouette.
"I'm going need your help…," Juliet said, "do you think you're up to the task?"
"It's Ben," the boy said, "and yeah."
"Ben then," Juliet said and then continued, "I'm going to need your help carrying him to safety."
He nodded, and slowly, they were able to prop up the bleeding, screaming teenager.
"Shouldn't we," the non-wailing girl said, "you know, like, wait for a stretcher or something?"
"Not in a situation like this," Juliet explained, "the smoke is thinner here, but another car could go off any minute."
"What can I do to help?" the girl asked. Her hands shook almost as much as Ben's did.
Juliet said, "Your friend seems very upset. Seeing your boyfriend uncontrollably bleeding is very scary. She needs to calm down, and I wish I could help her. She just needs a friend to be there to help. Why don't you do that?"
The girl nodded and went to help her friend move with the group.
Juliet instructed her helper to start walking the injured boy back.
Unfortunately, the thick smoke and swarms of people made moving incredibly difficult. Luckily, Juliet could now see the silhouette of an officer with enough gear to stop an entire football team standing a short distance away.
"Officer!" Juliet cried, hoping he'd hear her, "I need help. I have an injured kid here. I need a pathway, so I can get these kids to the front."
The Officer turned to face her, raising and waving his hand. Yes, he heard me. It was Officer Stevens and he brought two compatriots with him. Juliet instructed them to create enough room for the group to step forward. Using their three very large shields, the riot-geared officers forcefully parted the foggy sea of civilians to move, little by little, the small group closer to safety. Naturally, this pissed off other patrons, who were shouting angrily at them for being forced aside.
One man tried knocking over the two girls, but Officer O'Connell whacked the man with his baton. After that, the three officers made a triangle formation around the group. On the plus side, this created a buffer against others and diffused most of the smoke, but on the minus side, the smoke quickly fogged the clear plastic making it impossible to see anything but smoke and whatever was pressed against the barrier. It was like being in a steamed shower with a glass door, only without water and enormously hotter.
For some reason, Juliet felt even more scorched inside the barrier than out. She felt sweat steam all over her. It was so hot. Almost as hot and humid as Miami. Juliet wished she was at home, but she knew her place was here, protecting these kids. Especially with all the banging against the shields. Juliet could only see slightly darker forms against the shields, but she could definitely hear them.
"Hey! How come they get police escorts."
"Move out of the fucking way."
"Should just let the bleeders die."
"Why the fuck are you pushing us away! We have just as much right to be escaping as you do."
Juliet never thought simple jeering would unnerve her so much. In Miami, She studied and trained for frightening circumstances, such as bomb explosions and terrible riots, but she never thought she would have to face a situation quite so dire. Fear fought determination over her rapidly beating heart.
But, Juliet knew she couldn't lose it. If she was feeling scared, she couldn't imagine what the others thought.
"Now, tell me what happened," Juliet said, trying to distract the kids from the heckling.
"W-we don't know," the calmer teenage girl replied, "One minute we were all watching the movie, and then after that explosion happened, Travis started screaming and bleeding everywhere."
"That's weird," Juliet said. The angry voices were getting louder. Juliet was worried about the teens. The two saner ones were incredibly pale, and although the wailing girl had stopped crying, she seemed to be on the verge of completely breaking down. Of course, Travis, her main concern, still alternated between screaming, spitting, and trying to hold his jaw shut. She had to give them a pep talk.
"It's going to be okay, guys," Juliet said, "We're going to get through this. If Joe DiMaggio can come back from several knee injuries to have a .398 average, 34 homers, and 154 RBIs the next season, we can escape a few puffs of smoke and some angry people."
Instead of having the desired determined effect, the three healthy kids smiled and the injured boy didn't scream quite so loud.
"We're Star Trek fans," Ben said, "We wouldn't know who Joe DiMaggio is from Brad Pitt."
"Oh," Juliet said. Ben wore a "Live Long and Prosper" t-shirt, and one of the girls was wearing Star Trek insignia earrings. She had completely missed that.
"But you're right," Ben said, "Captain Kirk wouldn't give up easily either."
The group spent the rest of their trek to safety talking about Star Trek episodes where someone was injured. While Juliet was more of a comic book and baseball fan than a sci-fi one, she would have to check out a few episodes. If nothing else, in a similar situation, she'd have a surefire way to calm down a Star Trek fan.
By the time they made it to safety, Travis was no longer screaming. Apparently, Kirk versus Picard superseded a Trekkie's fear of fire and death.
Satisfied Travis would be in good hands after leaving him and his friends with an EMT, Juliet started back for the danger zone to see what she could do. Just then, Burton Guster sprang out from the crowd, carrying a couple of kids in his arms. A couple of paramedics removed the children from Gus's arms, but Juliet could clearly see something wrong with Gus too.
Abandoning her orders from Lassiter, she went to make sure Gus was okay.
Blood dripped down from Gus's forehead onto his tattered, singed clothing,.
However, he seemed completely oblivious to his state, other than swaying back and forth.
"Gus!" Juliet yelled.
"Juliet," Gus responded, his eyes half-closed.
"You're bleeding," she said, reaching out to touch his wound. Head traumas were never good.
"Juliet," he repeated. Her training deserted her. Gus was her friend, and he looked ready to collapse.
"Juliet," He repeated once more. She was about to respond when he made one more statement…
"Juliet, I think I'm going to take a nap."
…And then dropped to the ground
"Gus!" Juliet was instantly by his side, checking his vitals. He breathed shallowly, and his pulse beat very rapidly. Nononono He couldn't die.
"Somebody help me!" Juliet yelled, "I have a man in shock here."
A couple of paramedics ran over. For a few minutes, she just stood there completely stunned. Juliet had never seen someone she cared about injured and unconscious. Gus's blood ran down the sides of his head and formed two red puddles on the ground. Oh, Gus.
"Miss, I'm going need you to step out of the way," one paramedic said to her. His words unfroze her. Juliet patted Gus's shoulder.
"It's going to be okay," she told him, "you just hang in there."
Juliet let the EMTs take over. She had to go find Shawn. She wouldn't be able to live with herself if something happened to him.
"O'Connell, Richards, this way," she yelled. The two men, who had been helping paramedics lift injured victims into ambulances, followed after her.
It wasn't easy getting past the mob, especially going the opposite direction. Juliet heard more derision and negative comments towards her than she had ever heard in her entire life. Fortunately, the crowd was nowhere near as thick as it had been, and soon, Juliet only had to be concerned about the smoke and fire. And Shawn.
Juliet instantly saw a familiar face. Not Shawn- but his mom. She stood standing in the graying smoke, dazed and alone.
"Mrs. Spencer," Juliet said, running to her, "Are you injured?"
The older woman didn't seem to hear her. She just continued sobbing.
"Mrs. Spencer?" Juliet asked.
"Henry…" Mrs. Spencer cried.
"Mrs. Spencer," Juliet said, steadying the woman, "Where is Henry?"
"He," the older woman had trouble getting out her words, "went after them."
She pointed in the direction of a major fire.
Juliet gasped, Oh, no.
O'Connell and Richards, who had been trailing a little bit slower, had finally reached her and Mrs. Spencer. In a scene of twisted metal, smoke-filled air, and trash on the ground, their dark uniforms and Kevlar looked incredibly clean. Juliet envied them. Mrs. Spencer's white sweater outfit had the appearance of standing next to an old fashioned cast iron stove. Her hair was a combo of Pigpen and Cyndi Lauper.
Juliet could hardly imagine her own appearance. She could see her sleeves covered with dark soot. She really had liked this jacket too. It didn't matter though. She only cared about getting her friends to safety.
"Mrs. Spencer," Juliet said, "Everything will be fine. Go with O'Connell. He'll take you to safety. Me and the rest of my men will find him. Okay?"
Mrs. Spencer nodded.
As O'Connell took off with the older woman, Juliet's heart sank. She had no idea whether Henry would be all right. Juliet just hoped she could find the man still alive.
That damn bitch. Of course, Yang's motives wouldn't be as easy as a bomb in a bag of popcorn. That "bomb" turned out to be a couple of LEDs attached to a six volt lantern battery and another one of those damn beeping stopwatches. Yeah, that was a thrill for Henry to find out. One minute he was comforting his wife…ex-wife….the next they were both on the ground, Henry shielding her from several loud blasts. For a second, he thought they were both dead, but then he saw the popcorn bag a few feet near them, kernels strewn everywhere. In the middle of the mess, the "bomb" mocked him.
Ha! I'm a fifth grade science project, and now, your son is in the hands of a madwoman.
"Henry," she sobbed. He could feel her trembling, "It's my fault."
Henry was really not the best at consoling others. That's part of why he and Maddie divorced. Henry just wasn't very good at dealing with emotions, and emotions were her bread and butter.
Henry helped Maddie up. She looked scared and miserable, but he didn't have time to deal with that. He had to get Shawn away from Yang.
"Maddie," Henry said, "I want you to get to safety. I'm going to get Shawn away from that bitch. Okay?"
Though her eyes were drowning in tears, Maddie nodded, and Henry started to run. He had to catch that bitch. Fleeing civilians and abandoned vehicles made bad obstacles, but He'd fucking skydive before He would let them keep him from his son.
The crowds mostly kept their distance though.
They probably think I'm the perpetrator.
As Henry got closer to the fires, running civilians became less of a problem. He could see the abandoned cars and the background of trees clearly. He also had a clear picture of Yang's escape route. He was in luck. She hadn't gotten away yet. Henry could still see the green Chevy's rear fins. The smoke and heat be damned. He could steal a car and chase after her.
Just hold on Shawn.
Henry forgot about sparks and accelerants. Close relations to the victim can create a conflict of interest, he forgot that too.
He flew through fire-laced winds, choking on thick, gray smoke. As a boy, Henry and his younger brother Jack used to make campfires with their Dad. Henry enjoyed watching the flames dance under the fish-filled skillet. They roasted marshmallows and told stories. The family lived the old cliché and loved it. Next to the campfires, Henry always felt warm and safe.
Now, Henry could only hope the fall impact would kill him before he burned to death.
Henry hit the ground painfully. The sharp contact made his body scream and swear. He couldn't move. He couldn't see. Couldn't stay awake. It was all just too much…
He failed Maddie. He failed Shawn. The damn bitch fooled them all, and now, Henry was to pay the ultimate price. He had lost his son, and that was a price much worse than losing his life.
Chapter End Notes:
End Note: Yaaaay…I'm done with this chapter! I'll try to get the next chapter out as soon as I can.
By the way, the broken jaw scene comes from my grandfather. He was there in Nevada when they were doing the nuclear bomb testing. Even though he was miles and miles away, one bomb that was set off caused his jaw to break. He ended up having to go to a hospital and have surgery (oh, and the hospital ended up catching on fire-not the best of luck there). While the explosions in this story aren't as strong as the ones my grandfather faced, I believe that being in close vicinity of several explosions, unaware that they are going to occur, could totally cause someone to break their jaw.
Anyway, thanks for reading. I always appreciate any comments, critiques, cakes to the face….mmmm cakes.
Betas, again, I thank you, thank you, thank you sooooo much. *hugs*