KILLER ON THE LOOSE
Chapter 6 – Emily Stone
The increasing fatigue travelled down her arms as Emily gripped the gun.
She anticipated the assault.
The heavy gunfire ceased with only a small spray of bullets in several directions around her before it stopped completely. The men stopped their pursuit; it appeared they reevaluated their search.
The rising humidity fought against Emily’s awareness as she quickly wiped her sweaty hands on her cargo pants. She pressed her back harder against the cool rock to steady her nerves and focus on the imminent danger.
The landscape became quiet— unnervingly quiet. The birds were silent, no wings fluttering in the trees, and the breeze ran out of energy, not a leaf moved. The only constant thing was the humidity, which remained high and invading.
Emily licked her dry lips waiting in expectation for the next heavy barrage of bullets.
She tried to readjust her headset, hoping to hear static or the sound of Rick’s voice, but she only heard silence. Daring to peek around the rock formation, Emily eyed the trail of approach.
Where did they go?
She strained to hear any sound out of the ordinary, footsteps, crunching of leaves, winded breathing, soft conversation—anything.
What are they doing?
Still staying in a crouched position, Emily moved carefully from her location to gain a better vantage. The trees and surroundings looked normal. She stood up straight, still with her weapon directed and ready, cautiously sidestepping to move into another area away from the previous path.
She gained momentum and a confidence, hurrying down a makeshift pathway to view building location. She knew that she should continue uphill and move west to meet Rick, but her drive and concern to locate the missing girls overrode strict protocol.
Emily’s internal conversation was interrupted by shouts—first it was several men’s voices. She immediately recognized Rick’s authoritative tone. “Drop your weapons and show me your hands now!” he yelled.
Emily hurried downhill, careful not to stumble and fall. She ran as fast as she dared to in order to reach Rick. Disturbing thoughts raced through her mind of what might happen if she did not reach the location in time.
Reaching the bottom, Emily saw Rick holding one of the automatic weapons directed at the men—his shotgun lay on the ground next to him. The men were on their knees with their hands laced behind their heads.
“Rick,” Emily said breathlessly. “How’d you…”
“I had them in my sights after the alarm went off.”
Emily kept her Glock trained at the men. “Where are they?” she demanded.
The two men looked straight ahead, not moving, and ignored Emily’s question.
“I said…” she began as she confronted the first man by pushing her weapon into his face. “Where are the two girls?”
The man remained quiet.
“Em, secure them.”
“I want to know where the girls are!”
Rick lowered his tone, “Secure them and we’ll search the property before we alert authorities.”
Emily let out a breath clearly frustrated. She pulled several plastic zip ties from her cargo pant pocket and restrained the men—both wrists and ankles. She didn’t care that she pulled the ties too tight and hoped that it was uncomfortable.
“Keep an eye on them. I’m going to check this storage building.” Emily knew that the alarm was deactivated and there was no chance of a repeat of events.
Rick nodded and stood guard, taking the situation very seriously.
Emily hurried to the building. She stood at the entrance for a moment, hesitating, before she moved toward one of the tarps.
She flung back the covering and revealed various types computer parts. It was not entire computers like laptops and desktops, but boxed parts of motherboards, internal drives, memory cards, and various controller drivers.
Emily quickly documented the inventory with her phone and personally viewed everything in the storage area. There was no sign of the missing girls or any indication that they had been there.
She returned to Rick and reported, “No sign of the girls.”
“What’s in there?” he asked. “More weapons?”
“No, computer parts, all kinds,” she stated. She watched for any reaction from the two men.
“What the hell… why are they storing computer parts in a secure building?”
Emily added, “We need to find out who is behind this and where the girls are.”
“The bigger question is what were they going to do with the computer parts and explosives?”