In our current conditions, we weren’t going to be much use if we went after the man who called himself the Spider. My head felt like a size-twelve foot in a size-three boot, and it only took one look at Jason to seal it. We had to stick together.
I said as much to Jason and he looked for a moment as if he were going to resist, but pain flared in his eyes and he dropped his gaze.
I knelt down next to the scared little girl. “Hey there.”
She nodded at me.
“What’s your name?”
“Emily.” She seemed to be on the brink of tears.
“You okay, Emily?”
“I’m Charlie, that’s Jason. We’re going to take you out of here, okay? We’re going to need to move fast. Do you think you can do that?”
A pause, then a slow nod. After a moment, she opened her mouth. “Please, don’t let him…” she let it trail off.
Fury rushed through ever fiber of my being and I had to quell another impulse to run after the bastard. Jason gently clapped a pale hand on her shoulder and smiled.
“Don’t worry, hun. If that skinny little prick shows his face I’ll blow parts off of him that’ll make the guys in prison call him Black Widow instead of Spider.” The little girl giggled, and even I cracked a grin.
The bit of levity was just what we needed to galvanize us into action. I grabbed Emily’s hand and stealthily (but quickly) we made our way outside the building. We were about to dash across the street to our car when I heard sirens in the distance. We stayed in the entrance for a few seconds, and soon enough four police cars pulled up in front of us.
After all the confusion and shouting… “POLICE! Lay down your weapons!” and “Step away from the building!” and “Let go of the girl!”… we managed to convince the cops that we were the good guys. Even more importantly, I managed to convince them to get Jason inside an ambulance as quickly as possible and send out a search party to look for Spider. By this point, no doubt, he was long gone — but it couldn’t hurt.
I spent a couple minutes talking to the man in charge and managed to get two pieces of information:
The cops had been routed to our position by an alarmed Union 76 gas station attendant who reported a suspicious looking man matching my description, driving a shot up car matching the description of my car, asking for directions to the local public high school at which we were now standing.
I also discovered that if I’d bothered to read the newspapers I would have seen stories about the three other children murdered under similar circumstances at other area schools. This girl would have been the oldest of the victims, had we not intervened.
My stomach churned, and I thanked Jason’s insanity quietly. I don’t know if I could have lived with myself if I had made any other decision.
After a few more minutes of chatting with the police officer, a paramedic came over and informed me that they would be leaving with Jason immediately. “He’s lost a lot of blood, we need to get him to the hospital right away. Will you be riding with him, sir?”
Before I could respond, my buddy the police officer put a hand on my arm. “We’ve got a team coming to examine the crime scene. We could use you here to answer a few questions, if you’re okay enough…”