A Thankful Blizzard Pt. 05


Ok, Miss, Gina, I'm asking that you confirm that detail for me.

"Look, I'm fucking scared, ok?" Kat had a sudden tremble to her voice that sounded genuine. "I'm following a snowcone truck, I'm calling the fucking FBI, and I'm afraid for my fucking life! You have to help me, please!" Kat started sobbing. It nearly broke my heart. I hoped I'd never have to hear her sound like this in reality. I almost placed my hand on her leg to comfort her, before realizing she was just pretending, faking this whole persona. I didn't want to interrupt her or get her off track.

Up ahead, the truck made a turn on to a side road and there it was up ahead - a gated entry, complete with a guard shack and guys who, even from this distance of several blocks away, looked the part of common street thugs.

Ok, Gina, please try and remain calm. I'll stay with you on the line as I contact the Phoenix Police De-

"NO!" Kat nearly screamed, startling me. "Please, God, no, don't call the cops! I tried that once and he... he hit me for... I couldn't move for hours. Please, please, don't call the cops, you're my last hope!"

Ma'am, Gina, I can contact the police from an untraceable line and use an alias for you so that you can-

"Please, listen! The cops can't do anything... he...he's too powerful!"

Who is, Gina?

"I... I can't say his name." Kat had started whispering again.

The man who owns the snowcone factory?

"Y-yeah. A-a-a-and... they have her, too."

Who do they have, Gina?

"Ka... uh, is this line safe?"

Just you and me, Gina.

"Katherine. Katherine White." As Kat spoke her name, my heart leapt in my throat. I thought we weren't going to use her name. I was about to protest and say something when the agent started to lose his composure.

Ummm. Wow. Gina, can you confirm this? Are you certain? Agent Olivero sounded suddenly on edge and alert. Well, at least it got their attention. But they also had our exact location, an alley a few blocks from the warehouse.

"I'm... I'm positive. I saw her red hair, the face, the same face I'd seen on the news. They, uh, they were taking her, I watched them. I followed him this morning, he, uh, he said he had important business. He never talked like that, so I followed, saw them load her into this truck, followed it. Please, you have to come. Now!"

Gina, please stay on the line with me. I will send a few of my agents out to you and -

"I can't. I... they'll find me if I do, I know. It's the warehouse on Higgins St. I'm sorry." Kat pressed the red "END" button. Holy shit. That would probably have them scrambling. Kat rolled her window down and threw the phone as far as she could down the alley. It landed and broke into several pieces. I was staring at her in shock.

"Holy... Fuck! Kat! Do you think Edmond could have heard that? Or could he know?"

"Well... that sound you heard, when I asked if it was secure? I know what that was. My dad has one. It checks the line for abnormalities - things that are caused by bugs or additional lines 'listening in' to the call." Kat was grinning triumphantly. But it made me wonder...

"So how did McMahon eavesdrop on your calls and find out I was driving you home?"

Kat frowned. "Well, it may have been recent, or Dad may have turned it off..."

"Well, either way, we've got to move. This car was stolen, remember? It's probably got GPS or something like that in it that will allow the cops to find it."

"Oh fuck! I almost forgot about that." Kat turned the engine off and opened the door. "Then let's get going!" I unbuckled and quickly followed suit. As I got out of the car, I heard Kat mumble something. Closing the door, I saw her standing still, frozen in place, her eyes staring wide open at something behind us. I slowly turned and then I felt like fainting.

A man was pointing a gun at Kat, staring at her with ugly, beady eyes. He glanced my way, pointed the gun at me, and gestured me to stand next to Kat. I slowly moved around the front of the stolen Audi, holding my hands in a placating gesture in front of me.

"I thought I could smell a couple of rats... I never knew one of 'em would look so... tasty," Gunman leered at Kat, licking his lips. What the fuck were we going to do now? Kat inched closer to me so our shoulders were touching. I could feel a slight tremble. I wanted to hold her and comfort her at that moment, but this guy looked dangerous. I thought maybe we could talk our way out, say we were lost and having car trouble or something.

"Um... we were just, uh, just lost, and our car here was giving us some -" the gun fired. The sound was louder than I had expected, like a small explosion, the bullet ricocheting off the brick behind us.

"SHUT UP! You can't fool me, fucker! I saw you followin' me back several miles ago. That bitch," he leveled the gun at Kat, "was on the damn phone. You two some kinda undercover cops or some shit? Vig-uh-lan-tees, huh? Well I ain't getting on the boss's bad side 'cause of two punk kids like you! Pop the trunk, missy!" He pointed with his gun to the Audi. Kat glanced at me, and I shrugged. We didn't really have a choice.

"Uh... the keys are in the car." Kat said, her voice trembling.

"THEN GET THEM, YOU CUNT!" Gunman roared. Kat flinched, but slowly backed up, pulling the door open slowly. "And don't try no funny business, bitch, or I'll fuckin' shoot the both of ya." Kat moved slowly, grabbing the keys from the ignition. She eased back out of the Audi, showing the man she had the keys. She slowly pressed the trunk lid. The latch made a small click and the trunk sprang open.

"Now... get in! Move!" He fired once again, as if to prove his point. The sound once again made me flinch. I briefly wondered if people would report the gunfire. Even in this more commercial and industrial section of Phoenix, someone must have heard the shots. Kat and I moved quickly to the trunk. I crawled in first, lying on my side, my back pressed up against the back of the seats. I had to curl my legs slightly, but I was surprised at just how much room there was back there. Kat crawled in next, pressing into me. I could feel her trembling, but I pulled her close to me, trying to comfort her. I could see beyond Kat that Gunman was standing at the trunk now, his one hand held out.

"Keys, you cunt," he snarled at Kat. She quickly handed them over. He stood there a few seconds longer. "Pretty boy back there will have a nice quick death, but you, Reddie, I'm gonna have some fun with you first." He licked his lips again and I couldn't help but shudder. He was talking as if I were a piece of dung to be scraped off his shoe and Kat were his personal plaything. "I'll be back after I make my delivery. Don't be goin' nowhere..." The trunk slammed shut, cutting off the menacing chuckle of Gunman and plunging Kat and me into darkness.

We held still for a few minutes, listening intently for any sounds. From the silence I inferred that Gunman was gone. I whispered to Kat.

"Are you ok, Kat?" I hugged her tightly to me. I kissed her neck, and ran my hand up and down her arms.

"Holy shit, Paul! I thought he was going to shoot us!" She shuddered again. "But, maybe that would have been better... Paul..." She made some sobbing noises. "Please don't let him do that to me. You... you have to kill me before he comes back. Please, Paul, I don't want to be raped."

"What!? I can't kill you, Kat! I couldn't even think of harming you!"

"But... he's going to rape me! You heard him! He'll probably just shoot you, and you won't have to worry about anything!"

"Kat, Kat! Calm down! Please, we can't panic now." I tried rubbing her arms some more, but her trembling was increasing. "We can get out of this. Somehow. We'll..." I started thinking. What could we do? We were practically blind in here. I started feeling around, thinking maybe there was some escape latch or something, since this was a newer model Audi.

"Paul, what are you doing?"

"Looking for a latch, something to get us out of here. I'm not going to let him kill you. Or me."

"But, what can we do? We're stuck in here, he'll be back any minute to..." And the trunk lid sprang open. I hadn't expected him to come back so soon. Fuck, I was trying to think what we could do if he opened the trunk - maybe jump out at him or something, but he wasn't standing directly in front of the lid. I actually couldn't even see him. Maybe the FBI had really gotten here and was going to save us! I raised my head a little to look around. But... there he was, moving slowly toward us, his gun raised and leveled, pointing directly at me.

"Hey there, Pretty Boy. Didn't think I'd forget about you, did you?" He inched closer still, within a few feet now. "Oh no, not with that sweet piece of ass you got with you. I wouldn't forget Reddie..." He licked his lips again. Fuck, was this it? Was I going to be shot by this vile, repulsive reptile?

"FBI! DROP THE GUN!" A voice yelled, just beyond our vision. Gunman whirled toward the voice, swiveling his gun too.

"Fuck you, Pig! D—" As Gunman was pulling the trigger, a shot rang out and his head snapped back. He dropped to the ground, out of my line of sight from the trunk. Seconds later, a blonde-haired woman wearing a bullet-proof vest with "FBI" letters on it appeared.

"Mr. Goodman, Ms. White, I'm glad to see you're ok." The use of our names shocked me. The agent must have seen my bewilderment. "It's a long story. I'm Special Agent Erica Hubbard. I'm sorry, but you're safer in there." And suddenly the trunk lid snapped shut again.

"Hey, hey wait!" I tried calling out. The lid stayed shut. What the fuck? But my question was soon answered as the sound of gunfire - lots of gunfire - erupted. What sounded like assault rifles, or some kind of rapid-fire machine gun, was chattering away close by. It was deafening, even in the confines of the trunk. Kat let out a scream, and I hugged her as close to me as I could.

"Kat! Whatever happens, know that I love you! I fell in love with you the first day I laid eyes on you! I doubt I'll ever find anyone quite like you!" I nearly screamed, in order to be heard above the gunfire.

"Oh God, Paul! I love you, too! Holy shit! Hold me, hold me, hold me!" Kat's voice was panic-stricken. I couldn't blame her, I felt pretty panicked myself. We had no way of knowing what was happening outside the trunk. There were so many shots being fired, I couldn't tell how many guns or even what kinds of guns were firing, if it was the FBI or Phoenix Police, or from the warehouse.

Just when I expected the gunfire would keep up indefinitely, when I felt that we had suddenly been dropped smack into the middle of a warzone, it stopped. I could hear echoes of gunfire sounding far away and a few voices shouting. One in particular was close enough that we could hear what was being said.

"Echo 2-9! Move up! Bravo 4-5, cover! Charlie Team, on me!" I heard muffled footsteps and then suddenly it was quiet. There was a car alarm going off somewhere, but there was no more gunfire. Kat and I huddled together, wondering what the hell was actually happening. We waited. We tried to calm each other. We held each other, kissed, rubbed arms, held hands - anything to stay calm.

I had never before suffered a panic attack, but when the gunfire ceased I found that it was suddenly unbearably hot and stuffy in the trunk. I couldn't breathe. Every breath seemed insufficient. I was breathing rapidly. Air! I needed air! I was panting now, gasping for breath. I felt as if I was drowning. I was gasping, sucking in deep lungsful of air. I started pushing against the trunk lid, punching it, hammering it with my fists. I was kicking the side walls. I was vaguely aware of Kat saying my name, trying to reason with me and calm me. I had to get out. I couldn't breathe. I couldn't get enough air! I was going to suffocate!

And just like that, the trunk lid sprang open again. I sucked in as much air as I could, holding on to the trunk lid, trying to pull myself out of the trunk. I saw the blonde-haired agent again. What was her name? Hubble? Like the telescope? Fuck, Kat! Was she ok? The agent was saying something. Kat was saying something. Why couldn't I hear them? I saw a man approaching with a tank. He held a mask up to my face. Cool air flowed into my nostrils, into my lungs. It felt like a magical elixir. I felt my heart slowing, I felt my hearing return. I felt Kat holding my arm, her eyes filled with worry.

"...ok, Mr. Goodman?" The blonde agent said. Oh yeah, her name was Hubbard. I nodded. "Are you going to be ok now?" I nodded again. "Good. If you and Ms. White would step out of the trunk and come with me, I have some questions for you. And, probably some much needed information."

I looked at Kat and she nodded. The man removed the mask from my face and retreated. It was then that I noticed the swarm of people and cars. There was a SWAT van across the street, along with several black vehicles. There were several people wearing FBI-labeled vests, several SWAT officers, several police officers, and even some people in plain clothes, wearing bullet-proof vests. It was surreal. I wondered if I was dreaming, or if Gunman had actually shot me. But as we crawled out of the trunk, I could see a couple of agents taking care of a very dead Gunman.

I finally found my voice. "Agent Hubbard, what the hell just happened?" I held Kat's hand firmly, her hand grasping my own with a crushing grip.

The blonde-haired agent let out a laugh, while leading us through the throng of people, past some yellow police-tape, and into the back of a large van. "You guys just saw - well heard, I suppose - a firefight."

Chapter 12

Agent Hubbard gestured to two seats in the van, nestled behind a small table, as she sat in a swivel chair. A small stack of donuts occupied the middle of the table. "And please, help yourselves." I couldn't help myself. I snickered.


Agent Hubbard nodded. "Yep. I know, I know, cops and donuts and all. But we're federal agents - doesn't count."

Kat reached out and grabbed a chocolate-iced donut. "Thank you," she said calmly. I figured I might as well - I was feeling hungry and lightheaded anyway - and grabbed a similar donut.

"So. I'm sure you both are wondering how I knew you, knew where to find you, all that stuff." The agent had leaned forward on the table, looking between Kat and me. We both nodded.

"The simple answer is, I've been tracking this case since Miss White was first abducted. What I do need to know, before I answer your questions is this: Mr. Goodman, how did you know where Miss White was being held? We understand that Mr. McMahon has several dozen potential locations he could have kept her, but how did you know exactly which one?"

I swallowed my bite of donut before answering her. "Well, Agent Hubbard - "

"Please, just call me Erica."

"Ok. Erica. The video Edmond McMahon left for me -"

"He left you a video?" Agent Hubbard cut in. "Where is it?"

"It, uh, was blown up."

"Blown up? As in an explosion?"

"Yeah. I watched this video on a portable DVD player, and at the end he warned me I had ten seconds. At the end of those ten seconds it really did blow up. I assume he used some kind of C4, as a conventional explosive that size wouldn't have produced the powerful explosion I heard and felt."

Agent Hubbard cocked an eyebrow. "You know your explosives well, Mr. Goodman? I thought your specialty was water and snowflakes."

"Yes, but most explosives are the stuff of basic chemistry really. And, well... I get curious."

"Ok, very well. Continue."

"Anyway, Edmond McMahon mentioned he'd like to have me killed and buried in snow. He laughed and said it would be an ironic end for me. I didn't think much of it - other than being royally creeped out - until much later, when I found out he had a snowcone factory here in Phoenix operating under the name Blanco's Sno Cones."

"Ah, very clever, Mr. Goodman."

"Yeah, I just assumed if he was that amused at the irony of me in snow, then a factory dealing with all those things - white, in Spanish; his apparent hatred of Doug White, the whole White family, and the White Family Corporation; the color of snow - it would fit his arrogant nature to keep her there."

"Ok. Very good deductive reasoning. Now, I'll fill you both in on what's happened and then I'll ask you some questions to fill in the details so we can clear up this mess and move on with our lives. Sound good?" I was beginning to like this agent's straightforward manner. I nodded, seeing Kat nod as well.

Agent Hubbard began to fill us in on what had been happening and how she had been assigned to investigate the kidnapping of Kat. She had initially suspected the McMahons, but couldn't find hard facts to link them to it. She received the call from Doug White, who also suspected the McMahon family, but without any hard evidence, they had nothing concrete to go on.

A few days later, though, she received a call from Helen, the waitress from the diner who had helped us out so much. Apparently Helen had called the FBI to let them know that Kat was being brought back to Phoenix by "a nice young man." Without very much information to go on, they monitored police channels and had a few agents monitoring the WFC offices. When there were several calls to the police station about men seizing a man and woman in front of the White residence, she scrambled to get a team there, but was too late. There had been nothing left behind, no trace of anything, with neighbors only having witnessed the men and the basic van and sedan that had pulled up to haul me and Kat away, respectively.

Even though Doug White had submitted the voicemails to the FBI, there was a lull in the case, with Agent Hubbard and the FBI knowing Kat had been kidnapped twice now, but having no leads on where she had been taken, and no reasonable cause to suspect McMahon - the wire-tap had been planted without disturbing anything, leaving no trail to follow. At this point, they still hadn't known my name. My activities south of Phoenix hadn't raised any suspicions right away. The FBI kept vigilant, listening for anything that might relate to Kat's kidnapping.

When I had rescued Kat, a couple of people had reported seeing smoke from the factory, and one of the delivery trucks was found abandoned a block away. That was when Agent Hubbard said she knew that was Kat being rescued, but she still didn't know by whom, or where Kat could be.

Then early the next morning - just a few hours ago, actually - two reports had come in almost simultaneously. First, the teenage desk clerk at the motel had reported two men asking for a Paul Goodman. She had seen them holding pistols. Then the hotel we had stayed at had reported two men asking about a man and red-haired woman. They then heard a gunshot shortly after, and saw the man and woman fleeing past the entrance and into a car.

Agent Hubbard had quickly inquired and looked into both cases. She had checked my name, saw a Ford Explorer licensed to me. She called the girl at the desk and she confirmed the description of my Explorer and admitted I had swapped it with her car. Agent Hubbard then traced that car to the used-car lot and the car I had acquired on a trade-in with that stumpy salesman. A stolen car was reported not far from the hotel, but the thing that sealed everything for Agent Hubbard was the call that came in to the FBI offices - which was traced back to the GPS signal of the stolen car. She had listened in on the call Kat had just made, at long last learning enough information to finally act.

"We can fudge just a little bit of information - say we rescued you from that warehouse." Agent Hubbard explained. "All the men that were in that warehouse put up resistance and opened fire. They're all dead, so..." The agent trailed off.

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