Annie turned the page of her text book and sighed deeply. Tomorrow was the biggest day of her life. Ace her exam and she was guaranteed a trip to med school. Fail it and who knows what she would have to do to achieve her dream of becoming a doctor. It was so important she has asked Ryan to go fishing for the evening and to take Sawyer with him in order to keep the house perfectly quiet. She was almost done. Just a couple more pages and she could go to sleep, confident that she was as ready as she could be. Then someone knocked on the door. Annie got up from her desk and headed to the front door.
“It’s 10:00 pm.” She thought “Who could this be?”
She opened the door and saw a man dressed in black trench coat and dark aviator glasses. The man glanced over his shoulder at the dark, empty neighborhood, then spoke:
“Is the man of the house here?” he asked
“He’s actually out fishing tonight.” She explained “Can I take a message?”
“No ma’am.” He said with a smile “That’s what I was hoping to hear.”
Without warning, the man shoved a cloth over Annie’s face, pushed his way inside the house and slammed the door behind him. Before she could scream, she was out cold. The man tied her up and gagged her, then carried her out to his car. Once she was in the back seat, the man pulled out a syringe and drew some of Annie’s blood. He then went back inside and searched through the dirty laundry for a woman’s shirt. After finding one, he pulled out a silenced pistol and shot three holes into the chest of the shirt, then soaked it with the blood he had drawn. After planting the shirt in the washer, he went to the living room and dialed 9-1-1.
“911, what’s your emergency?” said the voice on the other line
After hearing the operator, the man began turning over the furniture and breaking things.
“Is everything alright?” asked the operator after hearing the commotion
Then the man walked outside and loudly slammed the door behind him.
“If you can hear me, the police are on their way…” said the 911 operator.
* * * * *
“I’m telling you, that fish was at least 4… no, 5 feet long!” said Ryan
“You’re crazy!” laughed Sawyer “There are no fish that big in our little lake.”
“That’s what I used to think!” Ryan shot back
Ryan and Sawyer were almost home when three police cars went flying past them.
“Yikes.” Said Sawyer. “Someone’s in trouble.”
Then they arrived at their house and saw that the police in their front yard. Ryan jumped out of his truck and ran to the front door.
“Who are you?” demanded one of the cops
“I’m Ryan, I live here.” Said Ryan. “Is Annie ok? My wife Annie? She was supposed to be here…”
“There’s no one in the house.” Said the officer “There was a 911 call at 10:05pm. When we got here, no one was here, but the living room was trashed.”
“What!?” said Ryan “Let me see!”
“I’m sorry, sir.” Said the officer “This is a crime scene.”
“Well, was she hurt?” asked Ryan “Do you have any leads at all?”
“Nothing yet, sir, but we’re working on it.” Said the officer
Just then, another officer walked out of the house and motioned for the one that had been talking to Ryan. Ryan looked down at Sawyer with a worried look. Sawyer returned the same glance. This was not the first time Annie had been in danger, but normally the culprit left behind a note or a clue for Ryan to follow since all they really wanted was a chance to kill him and Sawyer. This time, it was as if she had vanished. Was this connected to anyone that they had fought before? Or was this just a random crime? Then the officer came back outside.
“Ryan Easton?” he asked
“Yes…” said Ryan
“You’re under arrest for the murder of Annie Leonard.” Said the officer
“What!?” Ryan gasped “Murder!? How can that be!?” he pleaded
“You have the right to remain silent.” The officer said, ignoring him.
Ryan was read his rights and placed in a squad car as Sawyer watched in disbelief.
“What do we do with the dog?” asked one of the officers
“Call the pound, I guess.” Said another “His owners won’t be seeing him anytime soon.”
Sawyer was crushed after hearing that. He had to keep himself out of the pound. He had to stay free so that someone could find Annie and free Ryan. Or free Ryan so he could help find Annie. His mind was racing so fast, he didn’t see the dog catcher’s noose coming at him until it was wrapped around his neck!
“No!” thought Sawyer “I have to get away!”
The dog catcher pulled Sawyer towards his van as Sawyer struggled to free himself. As he drew closer to the van’s back door, Sawyer knew he had to blow his cover. He stood on his hind legs, grabbed the pole with his paws and ripped it out of the dog catcher’s hands. The dog catcher froze in disbelief and fear as Sawyer loosened the noose and removed it from his neck. Sawyer thew the pole back at the dog catcher, dropped back to all fours and bolted off into the darkness.
“Where’s the dog?” asked one of the cops
“He—You didn’t—He couldn’t—“ the dog catcher stammered “He—He got away…” he finally blurted out.
* * * * *
“Let’s go over this one more time.” Said the officer who was interrogating Ryan “You were fishing all night. No one who stands on two legs can account for this. We get a 911 call from your house, find it trashed, your wife is missing and we find her bloody clothes in your washing machine.”
“Yes.” Said Ryan, solemnly.
“You see why this looks bad for you, right?” said the officer. “Intruders don’t usually try to clean up evidence. Especially when they seem to make a clean get away.”
“I’m telling you.” Said Ryan “I was fishing all night and—“
“Save it!” the officer cut him off. “You can tell it to the judge tomorrow morning.”
* * * * *
It seemed like the longest night of his life. Sawyer had not slept at all. He was too nervous and afraid. Not afraid of the dark woods he had taken refuge in, but of the unclear future he was faced with. Was Annie really gone forever? What if Ryan couldn’t prove his innocence? Sawyer made his way home and stopped just inside the wood line to see if there were still cops waiting outside. Once he saw that no one was there, he trotted towards the front door and walked inside. The house was still a mess. Sawyer went into the basement and opened the door to their sports room. That’s where he and Ryan had watched all the Red Wings hockey games and played video games together. He turned on the TV and switched it over to the local news.
‘A local woman is presumed dead. After receiving a 911 call from her house, police found the place trashed.’ Said the reporter. ‘No one was home, but a bloody shirt with bullet holes in it was found. The woman’s husband is the prime suspect and will be arraigned on charges of murder in the first degree this morning.’
Sawyer pulled away all the cushions to the futon sofa they sat on and pulled open the bed. Rather than a mattress, he found Ryan’s riot shotgun, his own assault rifle, loads of ammo and a few other accessories that Sawyer loaded into his denim backpack. Next he headed out to the garage. He wanted to take the Malibu for its speed, but he didn’t want a lot of attention so he chose the Suburban.
He and Ryan had found a manikin torso and had dressed it up for just such an occasion. Sawyer would control the truck from the passenger seat while the manikin would appear to be the driver. Sawyer fired up the engine and entered the court building into the GPS. After a deep breath, he pulled out of the driveway and headed into town.
* * * * *
“All rise.” Said the bailiff. “The honorable Judge Manson presiding.”
Ryan stood up and watched as the judge walked towards his bench and sat down. The judge read the charges out loud as Ryan stood quietly.
“How do you plead?” asked the judge
“Not guilty.” Said Ryan
* * * * *
Sawyer was getting close to his destination when he noticed a cop was following him.
“Oh great…” said Sawyer
He did his best to drive carefully, but he was so distracted by the cop behind him that he ran a stop sign. The cop turned on his flashing red lights and demanded that the driver pull over. Sawyer pulled the Suburban off to the side of the road and turned off the engine.
“This is not good…” Sawyer said as he tried to figure out a plan of action. He looked at the manikin, then back at the cop car and knew this could not possibly end well. The cop stepped out of his car and slowly made his way towards the Suburban. Without warning, the Suburban roared to life!
“Stop!” cried the cop
Sawyer mashed the gas button on his controller. He glanced behind him and saw the cop jump into his squad car and turn on his sirens.
“Dispatch, I’m in pursuit of a black Chevy Suburban, Michigan plates!” Said the cop into his radio. “He’s heading west on Fourth Street! Requesting backup!”
“10-4.” Said a voice on the radio. “Backup is on its way to your location.”
Sawyer drove through a busy intersection without slowing, barely missing other vehicles. Up ahead, he could see more police headed right for him so he veered off onto a side street.
“Recalculating…” said the GPS
“Shut up!” Sawyer yelled.
Sawyer made a hard left then glanced behind him. There were three cops chasing him and closing fast. He was less than a mile from the court house now. One of the squad cars moved in and tapped Sawyer’s back bumper. He almost lost control, but kept it straight. Then the squad car moved in next to him and tried a PIT maneuver. This time, Sawyer lost control. The Suburban’s back wheels went to the side as Sawyer tried to correct them. The squad car stayed right on him though and before Sawyer could do anything, the Suburban was rolling down the street. Sawyer braced himself as best he could. The truck slammed into a light post and came to a stop upside down. Sawyer was dazed, but unhurt. He struggled to unbuckle his seat belt as the police cautiously approached the vehicle. Once he was free, he secured his backpack and weapons and prepared to make his move.
“I see movement inside!” yelled one of the cops as he and his fellow officers took up positions behind cover. “Come out with your hands up! You are completely surrounded!”
* * * * *
“Your Honor, my client, um, Ryan, could not have been the killer.” Said the public defender “He was fishing at the time of the murder.”
“Stop talking about her like she’s dead.” Said Ryan, under his breath. The public defender ignored him and continued.
“We would like to see the charges dropped due to lack of strong evidence.” He said
“I would say that the 911 call, the missing person and the bloody shirt all located in the defendant’s house and his lack of a firm alibi are very much strong evidence.” Said Judge Manson
“Oh…” said the public defender as he leafed through Ryan’s file. “Then, bail?” he asked
Ryan sighed deeply as the public defender sat down next to him.
“You suck at this.” Said Ryan “What’s your name anyways?”
“Hey, you’re the murderer.” He shot back. “You can call me ‘Fred’.”
“I didn’t kill anyone, Fred.” Said Ryan “And it’s your job to make that clear!”
* * * * *
Sawyer looked out the back window of the Suburban. He could see the court house, but he was surrounded on all sides. As the cops closed in, he made his move. He unlocked the back door and kicked it open. The police were ready to fire, but all they saw was a black dog run out from the back.
“It’s just a dog!” said one of the cops
“Yeah, but he’s armed!” said another
Before any of them could react, Sawyer was long gone. All four of his legs carried him to the court house in no time. Sawyer burst through the front of the court house and was immediately faced with security. Without hesitating, Sawyer stood on his back legs and began firing his AK-47 into the air. The guards dove for cover as Sawyer ran, setting off the metal detectors. One guard reached for his weapon, but Sawyer was too fast. He aimed Ryan’s shotgun at him and unleashed a barrage of rubber pellets onto his chest. The guard dropped in pain. Sawyer quickly read a sign, then sprinted towards the court room where Ryan was being arraigned.
* * * * *
“I’m going to deny bail.” Said Judge Manson. “Though you have no prior record, I feel that the charges are significant enough that you may be a flight risk.”
Ryan waited for Fred to say something, but he just nodded in agreement.
“Sit down, you useless prick!” said Ryan as he stood next to Fred. “Your Honor, please! I am no killer. Annie could still be alive! We’re wasting time!”
“Do you have any idea where she could possibly be or who could have taken her?” the judge calmly asked.
“No.” said Ryan. “But we’re not getting any closer just sitting in here!”
“I understand your position, sir.” Said Judge Manson. “But the evidence is---“
The alarm in the court house sounded.
“Everyone stay calm!” said the Bailiff. “Remain in your seats!”
Judge Manson slammed his gavel. “No bail. Bailiff, take the defendant into custody.”
“This is a mistake!” Ryan yelled over the alarms.
Then the doors to the court room burst open. Ryan looked back and saw Sawyer.
“Sawyer!” said Ryan, shocked and thrilled that there was still hope.
“Catch!” said Sawyer as he hurled Ryan’s shotgun towards him. “Rubber ammo!”
As soon as Ryan caught the shotgun, he turned towards the Bailiff and fired a round onto his chest. The bailiff flew back and landed in pain. Ryan turned to Fred and butt stroked him in the jaw.
“That’s for sucking.” He said to the unconscious lawyer.
“Come on!” cried Sawyer.
Ryan and Sawyer ran out of the court room and towards the front door of the court house. The guards were just standing up as Ryan and Sawyer fired their weapon at them again to get them back down. Sawyer ran out the door with Ryan closely behind. The cops that had surrounded the wrecked Suburban were making their way towards the court house.
“This way!” said Sawyer. “We need a vehicle!”
He and Ryan ran into the street. The first car that approached them was a van.
“Not that one!” said Ryan
They continued running down the street with the police behind them. Then a Chevy Camaro pulled out in front of them.
“Out of the car!” said Ryan “Leave it running!”
The man hesitated until he saw Sawyer growling at him behind an AK-47. He jumped out of the car and ran away. Ryan and Sawyer got in the car, turned it around and were gone before the cops could catch them.
* * * * *
“I think we lost them.” Said Sawyer
They had driven for a few hours and were now well into the country. They ditched the car, gathered their weapons and headed into the woods.
“What are we going to do?” asked Sawyer
“I don’t know.” Said Ryan. “But Annie is alive. I know it. I don’t know where she is or who took her, but I know she’s alive. We have to find her.”
With that, he and Sawyer continued on their way, determined to find Annie, clear Ryan’s name and bring the real perpetrator to justice.
* * * * *
“The judge had denied bail, but then his dog showed up.” Said Fred into his cell phone.
“No, he never suspected me.”
“I can’t imagine how they would evade the police much longer…”
“Yes, Sir.” Said Fred. “I won’t fail you.”