On his way home from closing a case, Cal Brent passed an alley and noticed a man forcing a woman into an abandoned building. He cussed himself for having left his cell-phone at the office, knowing by the time he got to a phone and contacted the police, the girl could be dead.
He needed to do something and quickly. Swerving the Mustang to the curb, he retrieved the Smith & Wesson from the glove compartment, hoping he wouldn’t have to use it; yet sensing the opposite in his gut. Fifteen years as a private detective taught him to trust his instincts.
Pitch-black impaired his vision upon entering the building so he closed his eyes to let them adjust. He opened them slowly and was able to make out a hallway and followed it. Every few feet, Cal paused to listen for sounds. After what seemed hours and miles, he spotted a dim light spilling into the corridor from a point up ahead and stealthily inched his way to the door. He took a deep breath and cautiously peered into the room.
The woman was strapped to a chair with her back to him about midway; her muffled sobs seeped into his ears. To the left, a shadow flickered back and forth and until Cal knew what he was up against, he was forced to remain out of sight. Her sobs suddenly changed to anxious groans as she writhed and struggled in vain to free herself. Cal’s gaze shot up and saw a figure standing a few feet away in front of her, smiling. He didn’t appear to have a weapon.
“You’re not too good for me now, are ya?” he taunted her.
Cal made his move. “Step back!” he commanded, pointing his gun at the man’s chest.
Startled, the guy jammed his hand into his coat pocket and pulled out a weapon. Cal squeezed the trigger and the kidnapper was knocked backward, his gun clattering to the floor. He swayed then toppled over.
Cal moved into the room and kicked the weapon out of reach. He turned to the woman and discovered she was just a young lady about twenty years of age. He bent down to loosen her bonds.
A maniacal laugh erupted behind him. The girl’s wide eyes reflected the horror within. Cal spun around to see the guy pushing a button, then clearly heard a distinct click from something on the side shelf where a digital clock began counting down. Before Cal could move, the room burst into flames.
Having no time to fuss with the bindings, Cal stooped and hoisted the chair and the girl up to his shoulder and trudged out of the room, the flames licking at his heels. In the corridor, numerous explosions hurled flames and debris in back and in front of him and he had all he could do to rush through them.
Between the awkward weight of the girl and chair and the heat and fumes sucking the air from his lungs and burning his eyes, Cal staggered into the walls a number of times. Just when he thought he couldn’t make it, he spotted the door and pumped his legs harder.
He slammed the chair legs into the door and stumbled out into the alley where he lost his footing and they crashed to the ground hard. The jarring impact caused both of them to grunt. Cal glanced over at her. She was conscious and for a moment, they just lay there staring at each other, grateful to be alive.
October 31, 2013