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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/campfires/item_id/1217891-Standoff---How-will-it-end
Rated: 18+ · Campfire Creative · Fiction · Crime/Gangster · #1217891
A robbery from the hostages point of view
[Introduction]
What would you do in a hostage situation? I'm sure you have thought about it. Everyone has thought that they could of done a better job than the cops or made a better decision under pressure than the hostages. Well now's your chance to prove it. You're invited to play a hostage during a routine hold-up gone wrong. There is however a small twist. This hostage situation takes place during a wedding. More specifically, a wedding rehearsal. Are you up for the challenge?

Story

During a routine wedding rehearsal, the entire party gets interrupted when four masked men burst into the ballroom of the hotel and demands money from all guests. They aren't very smart thieves because soon they are surrounded by the cops and are facing themselves a hostage crisis.

Rules

The first and most important rule of this campfire is that no one, I mean no one will play the felons. As stated before, anything and everything will be from the POV of your character who is a hostage. Information you hear, plans that are made and what the thieves do can only be from that. There are ways of doing this like having your character being transported and overhearing something.

Second, except when it concerns the first rule, anything goes. There can be backstabbing, hate, love, twists, connections, sellouts, cowards and heroes. However, in the case of heroes, do not make your character a human superhero whose suppose to overpower all the bad guys. I don't want a Die hard type storyline.

Other than that, just follow the guidelines set forth in:

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#1138668 by Not Available.


Characters Rules:
There are several title characters that if you choose to be, you must remember that your actions, dialogue and general tone should follow their title. These characters are: Groom-to-be, Bride-to-be, Groom's father/mother, Bride's father/mother (If someone decides to play the groom or bride and their back-story includes that the groom/bride has only one parent, that would affect the list), maid of honor, best man, the wedding planner and the priest. You do not have to be one of these characters but you can choose to if you wish. There are also bridesmaids and groomsmen but only three of each will be accepted. Other than that, there are the few friends attending the rehearsal and staff.

Before submitting an entry, fill out the bio-block below (to be sent to the campfire host) which should include -

Name:
Age:
Title: (If applicable)
Description:
Personality:
History/Present Status: (Included relationship to party)

Writers are allowed to have just two characters, however only one can be a title character. Your character can interact with other characters including those introduced by other WDC authors and as stated before anything goes. But there will be no killing off of a writers main character unless previously discussed with that writer. Should this occur without pre-approval, that writer will be removed from the campfire

*Note* The names, backgrounds and intentions of the thieves will be decided by the additions of the writers contributing. And remember, there are only four

*Note* When submitting entries involving title characters that have not been selected by other participants, please refrain from naming them yourself. i.e, say the wedding planner instead of giving him/her a name.

*Note* If you continually miss additions -- without making arrangements -- you will be removed from the campfire. I know life can sometimes get in the way. That's alright, but just not adding isn't. Everyone wants to add, and it's not fair to make someone wait for an invitee who doesn't add.

THERE ARE STILL TITLE CHARACTER POSITIONS OPEN


As of 04/26/2009, Their are 6 title positions open:
2nd Groomsman
1st and 3rd Bridesmaid
Mother and Father of Bride
Mother of Groom



BUT DON'T FORGET THE STAFF AND GUESTS!


Characters


Name: Patricia Lewis Gr8tfirefighter
Age: 29
Title: 2nd Bridesmaid
Description: Short, about 5'8. Auburn hair with a blonde streak running down the sides tucked just behind her ears. Her dress is light reddish in color to match the other bridesmaids. She has a small tongue ring in her mouth but the piercing in her ears (three on the right, four on the left) she dialed down to one on each ear for the celebration
Personality: She light at heart and is very easy to get along with. However she doesn't like huge gatherings so much and only attended the wedding per request of her friend, the bride. She's a vegetarian and has a deep concern for animals. She likes to keep herself from being the center of attention.
History/Present Status: Patricia has been friends with the bride for a long time though because her job leading expeditions sends her away for months at a time, she wasn't around for much of the relationship. She wants to be involved with someone but has had trouble finding the man who can handle the demands of her job.

----------------


Name: Tequila Hollies Gr8tfirefighter
Age: 18
Title: Staff member
Description: Very light and plain. Does not dabble in makeup much, prefers that she be judged on how she looks in the inside. She keeps her blond hair pulled back in a tight ponytail. At the moment, she is wearing her work outfit: Black slacks with a white shirt.
Personality: Studious and dependable. She's very outgoing but not careless. She a tendency to talk about things people have no interest in hearing about.
History: Call it bad parenting, call it whatever you want, but for some odd reason, her birth parents thought it would be funny to name her after liquor. Then they decided to leave her at an orphanage when she was five. Having a name like Tequila did nothing to help her get adopted so she sheltered herself keeping her head in the books and avoiding people for fear of being made fun of. She continued to grow in the orphanage but worked hard to make something of herself. Works at the hotel when not in school saving up money for college. But she also has a secret that if found out could endanger her life.

-------------------


Name: Brendan Graf vampirefang07
Age: 28
Title: Best Man
Description: 5'9" with naturally tanned skin. He has an athletic build, and a sexy physique. He's got broad shoulders, rock-hard abs, and is very strong. He has jet black hair that's chin length, styled with gel. His eyes are a deep sparkling emerald. He has a lip ring on the side of his bottom lip. He also has a tattoo of flames traveling down his left arm. His tux is black with a white shirt and red tie to match the bridesmaids. He's not the kind of person that likes to get dressed up, but he's been told by many that he cleans up well. He's very good-looking, which makes him a bit of a heart throb. That, coupled with his personality, makes him very well liked.
Personality: Brendan is an all-around nice guy. He's the kind of guy any friend
would like to have. He has an excellent sense of humor. He loves to party, hang out, and have a good time. He has a sweet, sensitive side too. All in all, he has a good heart, is very good natured, and likes to help others. He also knows when it's time to be serious and get to work. His job prepared him to expect anything and react quickly, having to think on his feet a lot. He lives for the adrenaline rush. He is an excellent leader and he's the kind of guy people tend to follow, and look to for guidance.
History: All through high school, all Brendan ever thought about was wrestling. He wanted to be a professional wrestler more than anything else. He worked out a lot, building a solid body, and trained for hours and hours to become the best. His life-time buddies backed him 100%, especially the groom-to-be. He'd always been there for Brendan and was there to encourage him when he needed it. He even attended all of Brendan's amateur matches, even going as far as offering to take him on the road to some of the further events. They had an awesome bond- they were like brothers. After he graduated, Brendan attended a local college, mostly because everyone told him he needed a back up plan. And because of his size, people told him he'd make a great cop. But he never really liked the sound of that. One day, after passing a horrific accident scene, it hit him. He decided to become an EMT. After obtaining his certification, Brendan went to work for a
local ambulance company, running emergency calls. Of course, he kept wrestling on the side, taking off as much time as he could to continue moving up the amateur circuit. But at 23, he blew out his right knee while at an event. It required major surgery and he was told he probably shouldn't wrestle again. He worked hard for the first few years to rehabilitate his knee and rebuild his strength. He's been very happy with his job though, and seems content with being an EMT. However, wrestling still isn't far from his mind.

------------------


Name:Sadie Walker i_love_pencils
Age:26
Title: Maid of honor
Description:She has shoulder length black hair(in a bun with bangs) and blue eyes. She's about 5'7" and well muscled. Fairly pale with just a hint of blush around the cheeks(and she's not goth!). She's more of a jeans and tshirt kind of girl, but she enjoys getting dressed up every once in a while. She has 3 piercings in each ear and a tattoo of a star and moon on her shoulder blade.
Personality: She's pretty friendly and outgoing, though she does have a "slight" attatchment to her ipod, which she hid in her purse(for shame!). She is somewhat sarcastic and doesn't stand for any nonsense, which has the tendency to get her into trouble. She's studied several forms of self defense and doesn't hesitate to use them.
History/Present Status: Sadie's been the best friend of the bride since they were 7 and she beat up the boys that were teasing the young girl. After that they shared a pudding and have been inseperable ever since. They met the groom and best man in high school, and yes, she does have a thing for Brendan but shhh! She's been living in a dingy 2 bedroom above a pizza place ever since she went to college, where she got a degree in advertising. She now works at a high class agency and could afford more, but chooses to wait until she's married. Because of that, she's a bit gloomy at the ceremony, though happy for her friend. Some might say she's a hopeless romantic, but only those that know she's got a bunch of chick flicks hidden behind the thrillers and inspirational films.

-------------------


Name: Donald Mack ehrydberg
Age: 30
Title: Third Groomsman, cousin of the bride.
Description: Donald stands 5'7" with short-cropped, dirty blonde hair and a carefully trimmed goatee. He wears round, wire-rimmed designer glasses that correct his mild myopia. Dressed in a dark, tailor-made Armani tuxedo with a burgundy cummerbund, his well-shined black Gucci dress shoes almost glow in the overhead lights of the church. Inside his tux he carries his Blackberry near one breast and his Nokia E60 near the other (a bluetooth earpiece is in his the pocket of his tux jacket). His wallet carries no money, as he lives with plastic in a high-tech reality. He has an unnoticeable locator chip surgically implanted beneath the skin of his upper left arm, near his triceps.
Personality: Donald is intelligent, hard-working and jealous of those to whom life and respect comes more easily. This is especially true of Brendan, who he feels has overshadowed him all his life. He has also been in love with the bride since they were teenagers. Although successful in his own right, Donald believes he deserves more respect and recognition from his family and friends. This constant searching for value in the eyes of others often leads him to rash, careless actions when with them--especially if Brendan is present.
History/Present Status: Donald's genius is in high-tech and software design, in particular. He became independently wealthy in the Dot-com surge of the 90's and managed to avoid the bust. Cashing in on the post-9/11 paranoia, Donald started several security-oriented companies. Some sell home security systems, some hire body guards, some sell anti-virus software and some manufacture locater chips to track valuable people. All have prospered, giving him a net worth in the hundreds of millions of dollars, a fact not appreciated by almost anyone, despite his making the Forbes top-500 at position 497.

His family and the bride's famiy have lived in the same city and the two of them have known each other since they were children, even going to the same school. It wasn't, however, until a family reunion, just after the bride's fourteenth birthday, that he became attracted to her.

Throughout high school, Donald would occasionally attempt to ask her out, but each
time was rudely rejected. Their status as cousins didn't bother him, but apparently
bothered her. Or she didn't like that he was short. So he ended up being relegated to the background, the unpopular friend who was always at the edge of the group. Her brief interest in Brendan, during eleventh grade, ignited a flame of jealousy against ‘Mr. Perfect' that hasn't died to this day.

Strangely, despite losing her to Brendan, Donald has become good friends with the groom. Or at least they are strong, friendly acquaintances.

--------------------


Name: Cassady O'Malley farmgirl1125
Age:29
Title: Bride to be
Description:Tall, lean, athletic build but busty. Very earthy and natural. Not alot of makeup except eyeliner and mascara. Long, dark, curly hair with olive skin.
Personality: Funny, smart and kind when she is in control. However, stressful situations bring out the bossinees in her. My wedding in particular has been one of those times.
History/Present Status: I have grown up in the same town for most of my life. I went away to college and couldn't wait to return to my safe neighborhood. I love it here. I work with kids who have grown up at a disadvantage. I am a social worker. I love this man so much but all I have wanted since the day he asked me to marry him is elope. He wouldn't hear of it. He said we will regret it. HA!

------------------


Name: Alexander Titus Jason Simmons
Age: 22
Title: 1st Groomsman(Second to Best man)
Description: Around 6' 0" with brown hair and blue-gray eyes. Built and athletic, as per his high school and college football pro-quo.
Personality: As all young bucks are, he is very womanizing, despite being shy around them. He uses his shyness as a weapon and is very easy to get a date. Is currently single, but that doesn't stop him from having a good time. Is extremely stupid in dire situations.
History/Present Status: Groom's cousin. He is very shy towards women, but is not a shy person (if you get that). He mainly has stuck by his cousin in everything, and almost had the position of best-man if it weren't for the strong friendship between Brendan and the groom-to-be. He is not jealous of Brendan, but is actually very good friends with him.

---------------------


Name:Timmy Vanwart  wynd
Age: 26
Description: If he was perfectly clean he'd have straight black hair, pale
white skin, and a pair of the most stunningly blue eyes. Yet due to not
showering and constant drug use his hair is often matted down with dirt or
something worse his skin his skin is dingy, and his eyes are often blood shot.
He is always hunched over as if trying to disappear so his height appears to be
5'7" though he could be 6'.
Personality: One word. CrAzY.
History: He forgets. All he seems to recall is that he has a family and the
pay for everything. Sometimes bits and pieces more come in, but he can't tell
if he's just making it up or if it is something that is actual.

---------------------------



 She didn’t like the way the dress fitted but because she had been away during the final decision, she agreed to it over the phone. Now she was stuck with it. It looked very good on her but it pinched her side and the chest area was too small; It squeezed her breasts together and made them look too big. Maybe some women liked that but Patricia didn’t. Her partner kept eyeing her like he would get a chance. She did her best as she looked around to not make eye contact with him.
 They were standing at the altar in a suspended state while the bride, groom, priest, and the wedding planner went over tomorrow’s speeches. She hated standing like this while nothing was going on. But the WP insisted that they need to get a full picture of what tomorrow was going to look like. She even paid the photographer to show up today for pictures of the rehearsal. Who took pictures of the wedding rehearsal? Her friend must’ve been shelling out a lot of money for this wedding. If she ever found the guy she wanted to marry, she would do it in a jungle, maybe. She yawned but not to loud. It still caught the attention of the bridesmaid in front of her who turned around and gave her the evil eye.
 “Okay, gang,” Said the planner, “We’re going to take a five minute break and come back here. Patricia sighed and sulked away. The bride turned and followed her as she sat in the nearest chair.

 “Hey, Patricia?”

 “Yea.”

 “I just wanted to thank you.”

 “For?”

 “For coming. I know your life is always so busy. And even though you’ve always been there for me, you’ve missed my last four birthdays. And, well, it just means so much to me that you managed to take the time to be a part of my wedding.”

 “Sweetie. I will always make time for you.”

 “Thanks babe. I‘m glad we had this talk.”

 “No problem, darling,” Patricia said smiling. This satisfied her friend who stood up and walked back to her fiancé. He whispered in her ear while looking slyly over at her. It must’ve been his idea to talk to her. She had not like him since the moment she met him. It wasn’t that he was untrustworthy, he just didn’t seem like he was the best match for her friend. She closed her eyes slightly and wished that this day would just end already.

 “I WANT EVERYONE TO STOP WHAT THEY’RE DOING AND GET ON THE GROUND. THIS IS A HOLD UP!”

 Patricia turned to the sound to find three armed men entering threw separate doors of the ballroom. As the fourth one entered from the hotel side, she could see the guests in the lobby scrambling for the exits. She must’ve not gotten on the ground fast enough because a fourth man who came from behind her put his gun to the back of her head.

 “Get on the ground. Now,” He said.

 “Okay. Fine,” She said. There was a quiver in her voice. While she had never been in a robbery situation, she had stared down malicious animals before and knew how to handle danger. She laid down on the ground while her friend was reluctant to get her dress dirty. But she relented and laid all the way down.

 “Keep your faces against the floor. Do not look up,” Came the voice of the leader. “Ladies and gentleman, you can make this real simple or really hard. We are here to collect all the money and jewelry you have on you. In a few minutes, this will all be over.”
A Non-Existent User
Brendan was glad for a break finally. It was hot as hell in that place. He stripped off the tux jacket and threw it over the back of the first pew. He loosened his tie a bit, before musing his gelled hair. He was happy for his best friend- who’d been more like a brother to him since they were kids. But this rehearsal was just so boring. At least it would be over soon- he hoped- and he and the guys could go party.

Suddenly the doors flew open and four masked intruders burst in. Everyone hit the floor, and Brendan found himself next to the groom-to-be. “Ladies and gentleman, you can make this real simple or really hard. We are here to collect all the money and jewelry you have on you. In a few minutes, this will all be over.”

The leader stood up on the alter, gun drawn, watching over the group intently. His buddies went around to all of them, demanding anything they had.

One of the robbers came to Brendan, nudging him roughly in the ribs. “Aight bub, what you got?” Brendan sneered, pulling off his silver watch and throwing it up to him. “Come on,” he jabbed him again. “The rest of it.” Grudgingly, Brendan tossed over his leather wallet. It wouldn’t really do them any good, considering there was only a few bucks in it.

As the robbers continued to pump everyone for their belongings, Brendan looked over at his friend. “What do we do?” he whispered, glancing over toward the leader nervously.

“Give me a sec. I’ll think of somethin’.” Brendan started playing with his lip ring, a sign he was in deep thinking mode.

But Brendan didn’t get far. The sounds of sirens echoed through the room, grabbing everyone’s attention. “Yeah,” Brendan snorted, “over in a few minutes, huh?” He had a feeling that this would be turning ugly really quickly.

The sirens had ceased soon after arriving but the flashing lights could be seen against the walls despite the fact it was still daytime. She had turned on her back so she started looking at the reactions of her fellow prisoners. The wedding planner was in tears. Despite the fact her ad had said We hang with you no matter what, she obviously did not anticipate this happening. Patricia however was unusually calm. The few times she had watched the news, she knew that the only thing that got hostages killed was overzealousness. So as long as she stayed right where she was and the police didn’t screw anything up, she should be perfectly alright.

“Seal those two doors off over there,” said the leader of the group to one of his men. The small huddle they were in dispersed quickly. The man he had given orders to grabbed some of the rope they had been using to reserve the chairs and proceeded to tie the doors together. The leader walked slowly threw the meddle of the group looking at everyone’s faces as he passed. As he neared the front of the hall, he stopped and looked down at Patricia who was just staring blankly at the ceiling now.

“You look peaceful.”

“I’m not. I’m lying on my back in an uncomfortable dress on a cold floor.”

The leader chuckled. “I need to barricade this place from the cops outside. What can you tell me about this place?”

“Nothing. Nothing at all. This is the first time I’ve been here.”

“Well who can?”

“I don’t know,” She said, “I can’t help you.”

“Oh, sure you can,” He said. He pulled the pistol he had tucked behind his back and put in her face. “How about now?”

“I’m telling you. I don’t know anyone,” She said. The crying from the planner got louder and she glanced over at her. Her friend was trying to calm her down but to no avail. The leader followed her gaze in that direction.

“I’d knew you tell me what I wanted to know. I have good instincts about these things,” He said. He turned to the wedding planner and made a motion. Another one of his guys picked her up and brought her over to the leader.

“She doesn’t know anything!” Patricia screamed. She turned over on her knees to get up but received the butt of a shotgun to her head instead

“Sit down and shut up!” Came the reply of the owner. She rubbed her head and resumed her position on the ground. She looked at her friend who was having trouble keeping calm.

The leader had the pistol in the wedding planner’s face. “I’m only going to ask you once. What can you tell me?”

She was know crying hysterically. In-between sobs and snorts, she managed to get out a reply. “Everything. I’m the wedding planner. There are three main doors from this hall. The reception hall next door has no locks and no outside access but the kitchen attached to it has a service entrance.”

“Well aren’t you knowledgeable,’ The leader said directing his crew to secure the doors she mentioned. “How bought access vents? Sub floors?”

“There’s a fire escape ladder in the reception hall that leads to the roof.”

“Thank you,” He said. He pushed her back on the floor. Patricia rubbed her head where she got hit and looked towards the door. She wondered what the police were doing outside and what was taking them so long. She was no longer calm.
A Non-Existent User
While the gunmen were busy setting up the barricades, Brendan patted his friend on the arm. “I’ll be right back,” he whispered to the groom. He nodded hesitantly, turning to comfort the bride, who was weeping.

Brendan slipped away, careful not to be seen. He slid over to the one bride’s maid, the one that’d been brave enough to stand up to those guys. He didn’t know many women that could do something like that. When that creep had hit her, it was all he could do not to jump up and kick his ass… But he knew that would only have caused more trouble.

“Hey,” he whispered to her. “It’s okay, I’m an EMT.” He brushed some of the raven hair from his eyes. “I’m Brendan Graf.”

“Patricia,” she replied, holding her hurt head. “Patricia Lewis.”

He nodded to her. “Lemme see.” She removed her hand slowly and he immediately found the place where the robber had hit her. He gingerly felt it, hearing her wince. “Sorry,” he apologized. He was trying to be as gentle as possible.

“Well,” he finally concluded. “It’ll be fine. No sign of hemorrhaging, so you’re lucky. You’re gonna have a nice sized goose-egg there. Hopefully we can find you some ice; it’ll help with the swelling.”

Patricia rubbed her soar head, but met Brendan’s caring eyes. She blushed slightly, looking away. “Thank-you,” she whispered.

“No problem,” he replied, smiling a bit. He looked over at his best friend and his soon to be wife. “What a day for them,” he commented.

Patricia followed his gaze and nodded solemnly. “I feel so bad.” She turned back to Brendan. “What are we gonna do?”

“I’m workin’ on it,” was his reply. He started chewing on his lip ring again, looking around carefully. He noted the progress of their captors, and where everyone else had ended up.

“I’ll be right back,” he promised Patricia.

Brendan slipped away, going back to his best friend’s side.

It was just like fate to place her in the middle of a hostage crisis. Tequila had barely gotten past the door to the ballroom where the ceremony was taking place when the man behind her shoved her down hard. She had seen him walking swiftly across the hall on her way threw. Her boss had asked her to check the count of the chairs in the reception hall as the wedding planner was complaining about them. If she wasn’t so punctual, that mystery man would’ve entered first and she would be safely running out of the hotel with the rest of the guests. The leader of the four gunmen barked orders to the hostages and guests. She was scared out of her mind, as she lay sprawled on the floor looking up at the ceiling.

She looked over at the bride and groom and couldn’t help but amuse over the fact that it was bad luck to see your bride in her wedding dress before the wedding. Obviously, this people didn’t believe in tradition but they should have cause maybe this moment wouldn’t be happening right now. She sighed and turned over, the cold floor beginning to have its affect on her back.
* * *

Patricia wondered what Brendan, the man who had just come to her aid moments ago, had in mind when he said he was working on it. Just like she thought that the police should not do anything stupid to get her killed, she would hate if someone inside did something similar that would get them killed. She couldn’t help but notice that he looked good in that tux he was wearing. She shook her head to erase those thoughts immediately. The last thing she needed to be thinking about was sex. It had to be a natural reaction to compensate for the fear she was feeling. In fact, as she thought about it, she was sure she had read that somewhere.

One of the more psychotic looking men had been left behind and looked like he was getting antsy while waiting for his comrades to return. Almost on cue, they emerged from the reception with the wedding planner, whom they had taken with them, in tow. They tossed her back down next to her friend, who comforted the convulsing professional. The leader paced back and forth while in deep thought about his next plan of attack. One of the other three broke from his post and approached his friend. He drew him over to a corner for a quick conversation but Patricia was near enough to catch it.

“Rene,” Said the one guy, “What are you planning?”

“Something,” Rene said, “Anything. As long as it doesn’t get us killed. I know from experience that the police won’t attempt anything as long as they don’t know the condition inside. In a few minutes, they’ll try to contact us and in the spirit of peace, will ask for some of the hostages.”

“Are you going to give some up?”

“That’s what I’ve been contemplating. What the count?”

“I haven’t done that yet,” The second one said.

“Well, it looks like we have a lot of people so do a quick walkthrough of the hostages and find the three people that look like they are going to give us the most trouble,” Rene ordered. “Go.”

Patricia had to roll a little to get back into Brendan’s eyesight. She made whispering noises to get his attention. He was in a quiet conversation with his friend but he looked in her direction.

“They are going to let some of us go,” She mouthed. He shook his head in despair. He couldn’t understand her. She repeated herself more slowly and he got it that time.

“Okay,” he mouthed back.

Patricia wondered whether or not she create a scene so she could be picked. But despite how frightened she was right now, there was no way she could leave her friend in this state. She relaxed herself and once again continued to stare at the ceiling.

* * *

She had the sudden urge to pee. Actually it wasn’t so sudden; she had had to pee long before the crisis started. But at the time she had been on her way to the reception hall and there was a bathroom in the kitchen that she had planned on using. She thought to herself that guys had it so easy. All they had to do was cross their legs. But doing that right now wasn’t helping. The last thing she wanted was attention by being the first to speak up but she didn’t want to relieve herself on the floor either. Defiantly she raised her hand high above her hand. Several of the guests near her looked over at her in confusion. After a moment, one of the men looked in her direction and made his way over to her. She silently wished that it had not been this one as he was the one who had hit that young woman in her head earlier. Chances were, he was the one with the least compassion.

“What?” He asked.

“I have to pee,” She said quietly. He sighed and looked over to the leader. He made a motion for him to join them.

“This young woman here says she has to pee,” He said to the leader once he arrived. The leader looked Tequila up and down calculatingly.

“You work here?” It was more of an observation than a question but she nodded anyway. “Where is the bathroom?”

“In the adjacent room, where the reception hall is located,” She said.

The leader bit his lip in thought and motioned for another one of the men to join them. Tequila rolled her eyes but not enough that it was noticed. Did all of them really need to know that she had to pee? The second man joined them and the leader began to issue orders.

“This young woman here has to pee,” He said to the second man, “I want you to escort her to the bathroom. You are to go into the bathroom with her but no further. Understand?” The second man nodded his head and reached and pulled Tequila up roughly.

He escorted her silently and obidently across the wedding hall as the other hostages looked up wondering. She pointed him in the direction of the bathroom upon entering the second hall and he followed her as ordered. She knew desperate times called for desperate measures but this was ridiculous. She didn’t even like for her past boyfriends to follow her into the bathroom. She closed the stall behind her and turned the lock. She didn’t trust this man especially since the leader had to add the no further line to his instructions. She picked threw the slot of the door at the man who stood guard. He wasn’t paying attention to the stall but at the small window seven feet off the ground. There was no way anyone could fit threw but it piqued his curiosity.

She quickly did her business but did not stand back up. For the first time, she felt relaxed and wanted to stay on the toilet for a long as possible. The man outside began to pace and after a moment knocked on the door.

“That’s long enough,” He said with a sort of Irish accent, “Let’s go.”

She stood up and opened the door. He grabbed her quickly and didn’t even allow her to wash her hands. As he walked her back into the hall, the phone in the kitchen started ringing. He stopped and turned her in that direction. He answered it and put it back down almost immediately but did not hang it up. He grabbed Tequila again and lead her back but sat her down next to the bride instead of her original position.

“Where did you go?” The bride asked.

“Bathroom,” Tequila answered.

“Oh,” The bride said. She had that tone like she didn’t believe her but what did she care. She didn’t even know this woman. The man who had escorted her was taking to the leader now who almost instantly dashed to the reception hall looking flustered.

Obviously, the police had made contact.




A Non-Existent User
All hell had broken loose. Donald lay motionless on the floor as the practice fell to pieces.

It was supposed to have been in preparation for the big day. Tomorrow the bride would be a married woman. She looked stunning. Donald’s heart pulsed strongly in his chest whenever he thought of her. He was oddly happy that she had found someone like the groom. At least she had finally gotten over Brendan.

Donald spared a glance at the self-righteous, would-be superhero. He’s going to get us all killed, he thought.

He craned his neck, twisting his head around on the floor to see the rest of the party. That other woman, the bridesmaid, Patricia, was still rubbing her head. He didn’t trust her to stay quiet either. Too cocky. The bride's parents were laying motionless on the floor as was the groom's mother. Poor woman, she had finally found a wife for her son. She was a tough woman, though. She had to be, raising her son alone after her husband was killed in a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv. The decision to come to America couldn’t have been easy--and now this.

The couple were laying together on the floor. Wisely, the thieves hadn’t bothered them much. After all, it’s unlikely they would be carrying any money or valuables on them. Poor her. She deserved better than this mess.

And then there was the planner. Her muffled cries could just be heard, as she desperately tried to answer the thugs’ questions.

“...a fire escape ladder in the reception hall that leads to the roof. There’s also a passage behind the altar. It leads to the preparation room *sniff* and then to a small cellar and eventually *sniff* up to the priest’s office in the back. Please don’t hurt me *sniff*” she said, pleading, as the thug who seemed to be the boss, shoved her to the floor before moving to the doors with the others to place the barricades.

For a moment, he felt sorry for her...Clarissa, if memory served. But upon further thought, Donald couldn’t help but feel that she seemed to know an awful lot about the layout of the church for a simple wedding planner. His thoughts were interrupted, however, as Brendan chose that moment to move. Crouching, he snuck across the front of the alter.

“Brendan! You’re going to get us all killed,” Donald called out, in the loudest whisper he could. As usual, the superhero ignored him as he rushed to aid the damsel in distress.

Brendan stopped by Patricia, apparently consoling her after the, in Donald’s impression, well deserved butt to the head. Moments later, Brendan returned to his original spot, just as the thugs turned from the new barricade, none the wiser.

Figures! His blood boiled. Somehow Brendan could always get away with these things. It made him so mad.

Just then, a woman came in through the doors to the kitchen looking dour and disinterested. That changed as she glanced up from her shoes and took in the situation. She tried to back-track but one of the thugs was on her quickly. Taking her by the arm, he lead her to the group and forced her to the floor.

He watched her intently, trying to figure out what she was doing here. She sat quietly, legs crossed, making eye contact with no one. Her outfit was that of a caterer, but why would they be here today?

Three thugs dragged the planner back into the hall and threw her to the ground. He’d been so involved in his analysis of the new woman that he hadn’t even noticed they had taken her. Now, she lay, sobbing quietly on the floor.

“I have to go to the bathroom,” came the whisper. He looked over to see a small conference, before the new woman was lead out through the same doors.

He shook his head. That woman seemed to have a death wish. He would have wet his pants rather than get noticed by a group of thugs carrying the kind of weaponry these guys sported. Shotguns weren’t effective in medium or long-range shootouts, but up close they could do some nasty damage.

Now there was a small conference going on. The ‘boss’ shook his head slightly and looked around the room, pointing to no one in particular.

As the girl and her escort returned to the room, one of the thugs began walking through the party, doing a quiet head count. The escort whispered in the bosses ear

“You know what to do, now go!” the boss shouted, running from the room.

One thug moved again to Clarissa, as one watched and the other continued counting.

“Get up,” he said, pulling her arm.

“What do you want,” she answered, beginning to cry. “I don’t know any more. Please, let me go.”

“The boss has special plans for you, miss know-it-all” he said, dragging her through the wedding party. As he forced her up the stairs to the altar, she began to struggle weakly, all the while crying.

Without warning, Brendan jumped up. He slammed into the nearest thug, sending the man flying before rushing through the wedding party toward the stairs.

Patricia twisted on the ground, sweeping her feet around and tripping the counting thug who tumbled to the ground where she jumped on top of him, beating at his head with her pink satin-clad fists.

Donald moved to a low crouch, yelling at the two, “what are you doing? You want to get us all killed!”

“What?” The thug on the dias shoved Clarissa behind the altar and turned at the sound, bringing his shotgun to bare. Brendan swatted away the barrel as a shot rang out, momentarily stunning the group.

Donald leapt to his feet, looking quickly to see that no one had been hurt by Brendan’s careless action. But the only damage was to the stained-glass window on the far wall. As colored glass shards tinkled to the floor, the struggle resumed.

Brendan hammered the thug in the side of the head before grasping the shotgun in both hands and slamming it repeatedly against the altar. The man’s grip broke and Brendan twisted the gun, pointing it at his opponent.

The thunder of a shot rang out behind the fixated group and everyone froze.

“Stop that right now, or the lovely bride is the first to die!”

Donald spun to his side to see the boss. The man held a pistol in a steady hand, aiming it straight for the bride. He looked back to Brendan.

Amazingly, Brendan looked as if he hadn’t heard. He still threatened the thug nearest him.

“Brendan!” Donald yelled. What could the ‘hero’ be thinking? How could he even contemplate continuing as long as she was threatened?

Brendan looked over to the boss and for many, long seconds, he didn’t move. The two stared at each other, immobile, until finally Brendan put down the shotgun.

“Now, get over there, with the others,” the boss motioned with his pistol.

“You too, little miss karate.”

Patricia and Brendan moved to the center of the group, as ordered, and sat down.

“Now, you lot,” the boss said, calling to his henchmen, “get up and get your sorry asses over here.”

The three men struggled quickly to their feet, retrieving their weapons and rushed over to their boss.

“Rene, we’re sor...” The desperate, whispered apologies were just loud enough for Donald to hear.

“I don’t wanna hear it.”

“Really. They caught us by...”

“I said, I don’t want to hear it. Save your excuses for prison, ‘cause that’s where we’ll all be going it you idiots keep up like this.”

“Sure, Rene...”

“Don’t let it happen again. Now, what’s the head count? Miko?”

“Sixteen, I think. Seventeen, counting...”

“Don’t count her, she’s our way out. So, sixteen.” Rene thought for a moment before continuing, “The police want a show of goodwill and I think we have two we can ‘begrudgingly’ give them,” he said laughing.

The four turned to the wedding party, as Rene addressed Brendan and Patricia.

“You two! Get up!”

“But you just told us to sit down,” came the snide remark.

“Well now I’m tellin’ ya to get up.”

With exaggerated effort, Brendan and Patricia got to their feet.

“Now, over to the door.”

The two marched toward the large, barricaded doors, followed closely by three of the thugs. The remaining one followed with his eyes in eager anticipation.

As he watched the procession, happy that the trouble-makers would at last be gone, there was a vibrating against Donald’s chest.

He looked from side to side, before slowly, carefully, pulling his earpiece from his pocket and slipping in around his ear.

The vibration continued.

Reaching into his inner pocket, Donald pushed the receive button on his Nokia and was met by the sound of his secretary in his ear.
A Non-Existent User
As I lay on the floor with a gun to my head, I can't help but think, "I WANTED TO ELOPE!!" This past year has been a nightmare. Everyone has tried to be wonderful, of course. Everyone had an opinion on what I should wear, how I should decorate, where we should have the reception. On and on and on. Every decision is questioned over and over.

No one knows this is how I feel. I have grinned and held my tongue like I should. So, there is a part of me that really wouldn't mind if the gun went off.

That is not really true. I want to marry my fiance. I want to live in his home and really begin our life. How could this day go so bad? This dress is wrinkled and I chipped my nail on the floor when I had to get down. Oh yeah, and there is a gun to my head.

I know that we are talking about life or death but this is supposed to be about me.

Now they have taken Brendan and Patricia away. Oh my God. What if they kill them? My stomach is queasy. I don't feel very well. How could someone like myself be so strong and yet be in total shock. I can't move. I can't breathe. I am totally helpless and frightened as hell. I want to do something, but what?

I hear a slight vibration. What is that noise? What is Donald doing? Do I need to distract the guy here?

"UHEM," I say.

"What is it?" he says sharply.

"My wedding day is tomorrow. You realize of course that this is MY DAY."

With dripping sarcasm, the thug says, "Well, your heiness, what may we do for you?"

"What is it you are planning on doing? Do you really think you can get out of here? The police have you surrounded. You can't be that stupid." There went my mouth again without thinking.

I was just buying some time for Donald, my creepy cousin. I only put him in the wedding because my dad said so. We are cousins. It is wrong to like your cousin!! But I guess if he gets us out of this one, I can let the past go.

"You need to shut your pretty little mouth. Don't think I won't shoot."
Alexander was sitting on the floor next to the bridesmaids. Even in dire situations, he found himself drawn to where the women were. He felt that in situations like this, he had to protect them. And now one of the thugs walked up to him.

"Hey, you, I said lie on the floor, not sit," he barked. Alex just looked up at him like he was crazy. The thug pointed his gun at Alex, only to be stopped by the leader.

"No one gets shot, we need every hostage we can. You need to get on the floor."

"And what if I don't?" Alex asked him.

"We got us here a brave one. Or stupid."

"Or both," Alex finished. The leader just stared at Alex and Alex at the leader. Finally, after a brief stare standoff, the leader turned to one of his men.

"Keep an extra close eye on that one. He might be trouble."

Alex let a smile creep across his face. 'Good,' he thought, 'they're making sure I don't pull anything. This gives Donald and whoever he's on the phone with time.' He noticed Brendan get up, too.

'It gives him time, too.'
A Non-Existent User
Sadie crawled over to the weeping Cassady. Her friend didn't normally cry, but in this scenario it was understandable.
"Cass, you okay?"
The bride shook her head and stared at the floor. Sadie's fear was suddenly replaced with anger. It wasn't fair for such a wonderful person's rehearsal to be interrupted.
"Stay low." She whispered. "I have an idea."
"Don't do anything stupid."
"Have I ever done anything stupid?"
Her friend gave her a pointed look.
"All right, all right. I'll be careful." She turned to where the thugs were huddled. "Excuse me?" She added a tear to her voice. "I'm sorry, but I really have to go."
The one in charge sighed and gestured to the one who had taken Tequila before. He walked over to her, jerking her roughly to her feet and pushing her ahead of him as he cursed under his breath.
Sadie couldn't help smiling as he followed her into the bathroom. Her plan was working perfectly. She turned to enter the stall, then quickly punched the guy in the stomach. He bent over, luckily dropping his gun. She picked it up and hit his head with the barrel. One down.
She hid the weapon under her dress and ran back to the room.
"Help! I think he's dead!"
The robber nearest to her rushed back to the bathroom with her.
"He just fainted and I think he hit his head. Please don't let him die." She cried, trying to keep the excitement out of her voice.
Once they were out of earshot, she pulled the gun out and held it against his temple.
"Listen closely." She dropped down to a whisper. "Do exactly what I say and I'll let you go home without a bullet in your brain."

Patricia slapped Brendan the moment they exited the hotel. Actually she pushed him first and then slapped him.

“What in the hell is wrong with you?” She screamed at him.

“I was trying to end this quickly. And why slap me, you helped!”

“I was helping you so you wouldn't get killed. I thought you understood me when I said that they were going to let some people go. That meant, 'don't do anything stupid so we can avoid being selected.' Now our friends our stuck in their without us. Who knows what's going to happen now.”

The police grabbed the two of them and dragged them over to a makeshift tent. An officer, who looked like a captain, was waiting for them. “Can you two tell us anything of what's going on in there?”

“There's four armed men and twenty or so hostages. They're ruthless and capable of fighting,” Brendan said rotating his shoulder, “Believe me, I know.”

“You fought them?” The captain said surprisingly, “You were lucky they didn't kill you, sir.”

“THANK YOU,” Patricia shouted, “That's what I've been trying to tell him. And he didn't even think for a second what it meant that he's an EMT. He could have helped in there if something else had gone wrong.”

“You know what I’m wondering? How did you guys get here so fast?” Brendan asked.

“We were responding to a call about a high priority theft in one of the master suites and found all the guests running out. From there, I took over this negotiation.”

“What’s happened so far?” Patricia asked.

“We’ve made contact with them inside but we we’re hung up on abruptly. So for now we’re waiting. But now you're here now, so my officers are going to take you down to the station to debrief you."

“No, we're not leaving,” announced Brendan, “I want to stay and see what happens with my friends. I also want to stay informed. We're both in the field of saving people, so I feel we can come to some terms here.”

“Fine,” The captain said, “Sit over there near the command tent. But don't interrupt us. We're professionals and we know what we're doing.”

Brendan led Patricia away to the command tent and they sat in two folding chairs supplied by other officers. “So what are we going to do, now?”

“What? Are you a flipping idiot? I'm not helping you do anything else. I'm stuck out here, the sun is going down so I'm cold and this dress is uncomfortable. In fact...” Patricia reached for the hemline at the bottom of her dress and ripped it up halfway allowing her to stretch her legs. “That’s better. I've never kept my legs closed for so long,” She said. Brendan chuckled and she realized what she said. “I didn't mean that how it sounded. I was referring to my job.”

“Your job?”

“Not that either. I lead Safari Tours so I rarely sit still. Part of me is actually glad to be getting off that floor.”

“So, you okay now?”

“I'm still cold.” Brendan took off his jacket and placed it around her shoulders. “Thanks.”

“So listen. I know this captain. He doesn't remember me because we didn't say anything to each other but several months ago, he was in charge of a hostage negotiation but he screwed up and got several of the hostages shot. Two of them died. He wasn't charged with neglect so he was free to continue his job. But I'll tell you this, our friends might get hurt as long as he is in charge of this one.”

“So what's your plan?”

“I don't know yet but I need to try to get back in that church. Something just doesn’t feel right about this.”

“That'll be easier said than done,” Patricia said. “You know, what we need to do is get in with the police. Slowly. Carefully. Calculatingly. Once we do that, we can start getting the inside information. The stuff they're going to try to omit from us. In fact, I know a way.”

A striking young patrolman was walking past them at the moment so Patricia stood up, grabbed his arm and pointed on her sweetest helpless female voice, “I was wondering if you could help me. I was just a hostage in there and I was feeling kind of faint. Actually...” She feigned falling in his arms, allowing the young boy to get a full view of her cleavage that the still tight dress pushed up. “...Can you take to get some medical attention.”

“Sure ma'am,” He said, “Right this way.”

“You won't leave me, will you?” She said as they walked to the medical tent.

“No ma'am.”

Brendan decided to stay where he was and bide his time. Before he could relax, however, there was a tap on his shoulder. He turned to see a young man kneeling next to him. “Excuse me,” the boy said, “But I couldn't help but overhear that you were one of the hostages.” Brendan nodded. “I'm Eric Mack, Donald's cousin. We’ve never met before but can you tell me how’s he’s doing. I mean is he suffering in any way?”

“No.”

“Well that’s a damn shame.”

***

"So what made you pick the Rosemount?" Tequila asked Cassady, "I mean, this place is grand but its not screaming, 'Have your wedding here’.”

"Low rates," The groom-to-be chimed in.

"All my family is from out of town and would require someplace to stay a couple of days. The Rosemount gave us the cheapest price around. Especially for fifty-eight rooms," Cassady said, "How long have you worked here?"

"Two years officially," She said, "I've been around the hotel since I was really young though. My dad has been working here for a long time."

"So you know this hotel pretty thoroughly?” The groom-to-be asked.

“Pretty well, yeah.”

“So let me ask you,” He said, “Is there a way out of here. Someway the planner didn’t know and tell them.”

“There are some old ventilation tunnels underneath us but I think they plastered over them during the renovation so it wouldn’t do us any good,” Tequila said.

The groom opened his mouth to add something but before he could, Sadie ran back into the room and screamed, “Help! I think he’s dead!” The leader motioned one of his men and they ran after Sadie into the reception hall.

“What do you think is up with that?” Tequila asked, “You think he’s really dead?

“I don’t know.”

“She’s not going to try anything stupid, is she? Not so soon after those other two got kicked out? You gave her that look when she left.”

“Sadie. God I hope not,” Cassidy said, “The last thing I need is for another one of my friends to get kicked out of here. Then all I’ll have left is those two bridesmaids over there who are daughters of my mother’s friends, my fiancé’s friends, and my cousin Donald, who I believe at the moment is talking on his phone.”

“Everybody’s trying to be a hero today,” She said, “Including you.”

“Me. No. I was only distracting them to help Donald. What about you?”

“I’m going to try and stay as inconspicuous as possible,” Tequila said. She didn’t want them to find out her true secret. If they did, the nature of this robbery could change and she would be in more danger than she is now.

The last men left other than the leader had started to go threw the wallets in the bag and taking the money out. The real reason they had come into the room in the first place. “Good luck,” Cassady said, “You’re going to need it.”

“Tell me about it,” She said. Tequila bit her bottom lip as the leader pulled out her wallet and started going threw it. She saw him pause on her license but just tossed it back in after removing what little money was in it. He picked up another one and continued on. She sighed heavily. She was safe for now.
A Non-Existent User
“You stupid bitch!” Everyone halted as the words echoed through the hall. From the back, the robber emerged, holding on to Sadie’s hair.

“What the hell’s goin’ on Sam?” the leader, who they now knew as Rene, demanded.

He growled, yanking roughly on the scared woman’s hair. “She knocked Kris out in the bathroom and swiped his gun.” He waved the gun pointedly.

Rene’s eyes narrowed on the would-be heroine. “Mike,” he addressed the last robber, “go help Kris.”

As he was saying this, Sam threw Sadie down on the floor. He pointed the gun at her, scowling. “I should just put a bullet in that pretty little head of yours.”

Sadie whimpered. She pulled herself backwards along the floor, propped up on her arms. The gunman pulled back on the trigger. But in a turn of events, the priest, who had wanted to intervene, had leapt between them. He grunted, grasping his chest as he fell to the floor with a thud.

No one moved for a moment. Then, Sadie screamed, seeing the blood seeping between the Priest’s fingers. Rene quickly grabbed Sam, whipping the gun away. “You dumbass!” the leader shrieked, smacking him upside the head.

Just then, the phone could be heard ringing in the other room. The one called Mike, stunned by what just occurred, picked it up. “This is Captain Briggs. We heard gunfire. What’s going on in there?”

“The priest was just shot,” Mike admitted in a moment of panic. “He’s bleeding really bad.”

Rene ripped the phone from his hand. “Here,” he threw Sam at him. “Get that moron calmed down and get Kris’ ass off the floor.”

Mike just nodded, and they scurried off. Rene got on the phone and the Captain immediately said, “We need to bring priest out.”

“No way,” the robber refused. “We’re not taking that chance.”

“But we need to get him help.” There was a pause. “What if we send the medics inside. Then you won’t have to expose yourselves.”

Rene thought a moment. “Only one.”

“What?”

“Only one medic. That’s it.”

The Captain sighed. “Alright. We’ll send a medic then.”

Rene hung up, turning back to view the church. Everything had gotten way out of hand.

- _ - _ -

“Alright,” Captain Briggs clapped his hands together. He hoped from the command truck, talking to his men that followed. “We have to get an EMT in there now.”

Hearing this, Brendan’s ears perked up, and he jumped to his feet. “Captain. I’ll go.”

He stopped, looking him over. “You were just a hostage, Sir.”

“Exactly,” Brendan replied, thinking quickly. “I know what these guys are capable of. I’ve been on scene for many police crisis situations too. I know what I’m doing.”

“Why not let him go, Captain?” one of his men spoke up. “I mean, if he knows what he’s doing… It’d be better than waiting for more experienced medics than these,” he referred to the young crew at the scene.

“Alright,” the Captain grudgingly agreed. He turned to Brendan, face strait as an arrow. “What do you need?”

“Just a jump bag.”

He nodded, sending someone off to get one. Another SWAT member was helping Brendan put on a Kevlar vest while the Captain briefed him on what to do. “Now we don’t want any problems. Take it slow and easy. They don’t want to give up the priest, but you’re gonna have to try and convince them to let him leave.”

Brendan nodded, only half paying attention to the rest of what he said. He was looking instead over the Captain’s shoulder to where he spotted Patricia. She was gazing at him quizzically. But as the radio crackled, telling all the officers they were sending someone in, her eyes widened. She realized what he was about to do and appeared as though she could strangle him.

“Okay.” The SWAT guy finished with his vest and patted his back. “You’re good to go.” Brendan nodded and someone handed him a big jump bag.

“Now remember,” the Captain reminded him, “you have to convince them to give up the priest. If you can get more hostages that’d be great, but don’t push your luck. As soon as they agree, call us. We’ll have the cot waiting. You can bring him put and get the hell out of there.”

Brendan only nodded. However, in his mind he was trying to come up with a quick plan. The small group walking with him passed by Patricia and her little gullible cop friend. “Brendan. Be careful,” she mentioned.

“Got it handled,” was his only reply.

The Captain radioed to the command truck to have them call inside, letting them know the medic was coming in. Briggs gave Brendan a light pat on the back. “Go get ‘em,” he encouraged.

Brendan jostled the jump bag to a better position and headed toward the doors. He noticed all the SWAT team and cops surrounding the area, guns aimed toward the door if something should happen. That did nothing to help Brendan’s nerves, especially considering he was thinking up what he was going to do with each new step.

When he reached the doors it seemed like an eternity before they opened a bit, though really it had only been a minute. Brendan squeezed through the small opening they had made, finding it was the wedding planner who’d opened the door. But behind her was one of the robbers, pointing a gun at her.

“Close it,” he ordered quickly. Brendan did, trapping himself in the danger zone once more.

The robber didn’t seem to recognize him, but he was too busy ordering the wedding planner and a couple other staff members to re-barricade the door.

Brendan decided to ignore them. He had a job to do. He quickly zoomed in on the injured priest, lying on the floor with Sadie hunched over him. She was sobbing, but holding firm pressure on his injuries.

He hurried over, dropping the jump bag. “Sadie, I’ve got it,” he said, removing her hands. Her head snapped up, looking at him in disbelief.

“Brendan!?”

This got the others attention. They had mostly been talking among themselves or zoning out. Now they all looked up, just as startled. “Brendan!?” Isaac echoed, seemingly relieved slightly. “How-“

“Not now,” he replied, putting himself in the zone. Sadie backed away a bit, giving Brendan his space. He quickly assessed the amount of damage done to the priest’s shoulder where the bullet hit him. Then he opened up the jump bag, sifting through all the supplies.

The leader and the other three robbers had emerged from the kitchen area. “What the hell…” the leader spotted Brendan, immediately recognizing him. “What are you doing here?”

Brendan just looked him strait in the eye. “I’m cleaning up your mess.” He continued to pull his supplies together, starting to treat the priest.

The robbers had fanned back out around the room, but now Rene hovered over him. “Y’know, you got a lot of nerve,” he was saying.

“No, just a heart, and a whole helluva lot of guts.” Brendan hadn’t even realized what he was saying until it came out. He paused a moment, looking up for the leader’s reaction.

Rene blinked, obviously not expecting that answer. After a moment, he caught himself. “Yeah,” he admitted, “I suppose you do.” He backed off a bit then, allowing Brendan to work. And that’s just what he did.

While Brendan stayed focused on his task, he was wondering what exactly his next step was. Then suddenly it hit him. Like a bolt of lightning, he knew what he had to do. He finished doing all he could for the priest before looking up at Rene.

“Look, we gotta get him outta here.” Before the leader could interrupt, he continued. “If he doesn’t get to a hospital soon, he’s going to go into shock and die. You don’t need a body on your hands…”

That last comment seemed to get to him. “Okay. What do we do?”

“Call Captain Briggs and tell him to have a cot ready.” Rene yelled for Mike to do just that. As the call was being made, the leader told Sam to get the door again.

Within minutes Brendan had rolled the cot inside, and with some help from Isaac and Alexander, he put the priest safely on. He rolled the cot out the door and a few of the SWAT members rushed to help get it down the stairs carefully, rushing the injured man to the awaiting ambulance.

“Come on Graf, let’s go,” Captain Briggs hollered for him. But Brendan already had made other plans. Before anyone could stop him, he ducked back inside, slamming the doors shut.

A hush fell over the room. He slowly turned, observing the odd looks he was receiving. Sam pointed his gun at him suspiciously. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” he demanded.

Brendan knew it was a long shot, but he had to try it. “I think I’m helping you,” he sneered. He left a stunned Sam standing by the door. Catching himself, he quickly ordered the staff to barricade the door once more.

With no turning back, Brendan dove ahead into his plan. It was just forming as he went along. He strode up to Rene, his eyes glued to the leader. He showed no signs of fear or hostility. But everyone could tell he was dead serious.

“Well? What do you say?”

“To what?” Rene asked suspiciously, crossing his arms.

“I’m gonna help ya.”

The robber snickered. “And what’s in it for you?” he asked mockingly.

“Part of the take and membership into your little gang here.” Brendan glanced around for effect, studying the other three. “Though, might I say, they could use a helluva lot of shaping up.”

“Why you-“ Kris was cut off by a gesture from Rene. The leader never took his eyes from Brendan. He studied the guy carefully. But Brendan never backed off, or broke his intense gaze.

“Well then…” Rene was obviously impressed. “If you have something more to offer than just that backbone of yours, you might be going places kid.”

Brendan smirked. “I know plenty. I’ve worked more hostage situations as an EMT than most of the veterans combined. You learn a thing or two in times like that. And I’ve also been outside on this one, and I know exactly what their set-up is and what plan of action their taking.”

Obviously Rene liked what he was hearing. He nodded, a smirk crossing his face. “Well, that settles it.” He stuck out his hand to Brendan, “Welcome aboard.”

Brendan’s smirk grew, giving Rene’s hand a firm shake.
Alex looked about. After the priest had been shot, Alex had quickly found himself placed in front of everyone else, in an almost protective stance. The robbers took no notice, as they were busy with Brenden and the priest. But this gave him time to formulate his own plan.

One of the staff members, Tequila, had found her way to the main group and was huddled next to the bridesmaids. Alex smiled as they sat there. Tequila smiled at him, finding his obvious protective stature comforting.

Well, he knew that if anything went wrong with the robbers, he would do his best to make sure no one else got hurt.

“He did what!” Patricia screamed. Several of the officers looked over at her obviously wondering what she was going on about. She grabbed the young patrolman whom she’d been flirting with for the past few minutes and dragged him over behind one of the tents. “What do you mean he joined them?”

“That’s what just came over the radio a few minutes ago. The guy they sent in there, Brendan, he’s joined them,” The officer said.

“No, they can’t be right,” Patricia, said biting her lip.

“I assure you it is. Soon after they got the priest out and loaded, he got on the phone and made demands himself. The chief think he was in on it the whole time.”

Patricia turned on him in a heartbeat. “Well, Rick, is it? I assure you that he was not. They almost killed both of us in there. Had it not been for the fact that I think they don’t want to go to jail for murder, we might have been. No, there’s something deeper going on in there. I can feel it but I don’t know what it is. Where is your captain?”

“Over there,” Rick said pointing to a tent several yards away.

Patricia ran to the officer who greeted them when they were thrown out of the hotel. He saw her coming and obviously did not want to engage in conversation with her and turned his back at the last second. “Don’t you dare try turning your back on me you coward!”

“Don’t you for one second presume to call me a coward!” He screamed turned on his heels abruptly, “I am dealing with a crisis here that has just gotten way out of control!”

“Because you let them,” She spat out. She was in his face now, her ears billowing steam while his exterior turned beet red with anger.

“Your friend has joined forces with the enemy. I knew it was a mistake to let him go in there. Now they have details about our forces and positions. I have to change tactics right now and it’s ALL HIS FAULT!” Briggs screamed.

“Why do you get off blaming other people for your mistakes? Maybe if you jiggle your head a little bit and wake your brain up, you might realize that he’s not really on their side.”

“Oh and you know him so well do you. I did my required reading. The two of you didn’t meet till today. And I tell you another thing, if he had any plans to pretend to be on their side, he should’ve made notion of that before he went it.”

“Would you have let him go?” She asked.

“No. But that’s irrelevant. His is now a potential target. My men have only three clear views inside and they have permission to shoot to kill if need be.”

“You’re going to kill him! How much more evidence do you need that he’s on your side!”

“If the chance arises, I shall take it. I can’t afford any mistakes this time. I shall take out of all these thieves and rescue all the hostages.”

“No mistakes, huh? Just like your last big hostage crisis. He told me about that. He was there. You got people killed,” She said this real close to his ear so only he could hear it.

He grabbed her and held her tightly so that she couldn’t move. “Now you hear me. What happened at that train station was a tragic accident and could not have been avoided in any way,” He said, “And you’re starting to become a thorn in my side and I don’t like that. There’s only one-way to handle someone like you.” Before Patricia could react, he had pulled both her hands behind her back and handcuffed her wrists together. “Lieutenant,” He said calling one of the officers over, “This hostage is a danger to herself and our presence here. Put her in one of the cars until we can find someplace safer for her.”

“This is an outrage!” Patricia screamed, “You won’t get away with this!”

“I already have,” He whispered in her ear and then out loud to the officer who was leading her, “Make sure someone is watching her at all times. She might try to escape and join her friend.”

As Patricia was lead away, the Briggs turned to one of the S.W.A.T. team members who had arrived just a moment earlier. “Let’s make sure we have a low-risk attack plan in case negotiations don’t go as planned. I want everything to be ready.”

***

With Brendan now a part of their posse, the thieves were now back to four since Sadie had knocked out one of the original. Since the cops had shown up, they seemed to have lost control but now he was putting them back together.

“I can assure you that the cops are not trying to wait around for something to happen. The captain out there is looking to make a name for himself,” Brendan said.

“So what do you propose?” Rene asked.

“Whatever plan you had originally set out to accomplish is now over. You need to come up with something that will surprise them. Throw them off guard.”

“You being the expert, right,” Sam said.

“Look, I’ve been around enough of these things to know how they work, okay? Now you can either take my advice or you can’t. But if you don’t, I can assure you that not all of you will make it out of here alive,” Brendan said.

“Rene, can I talk to you for a minute,” Sam said pulling their leader to the side.

Brendan stood impatiently knowing that he wasn’t winning the full trust of the robber. Tequila looked at him with earnest wondering what was going on in his head. When he had announced that he would be helping the robbers, the remaining hostages quickly shunned him. Even the groom, who was his best friend, screamed at him and tried to attack him.

One of the groomsmen, the first she thought, smiled at her from his position only a few people away. Rene and the other robbers had allowed the hostages to be scattered but Brendan assured them that there was a better chance of them not being disruptive if they were grouped up. Cassie had gone into a silent mode; now huddled underneath the arms of her hubby.

They had tied Sadie up with what little rope they could find, also on Brendan’s orders, and taped her mouth shut. She looked miserable sitting by herself so Tequila scooted over next to her. It was quiet in the hall, so she didn’t say anything. She was presented her with a warm smile and a nudge to let her know she was there.

Suddenly, from outside, they all started to hear the sound of a helicopter approaching.

“I wonder if that’s the news or police helicopters,” Tequila wondered out loud.

“The news!” Brendan exclaimed, “That’s it.”

“What?” Rene said.

“The news,” He repeated again, “If we get the news in here, or a least present our demands on national TV, it’ll by us sometime. Also, be relieved that the cops will never do anything risky while the news cameras are rolling.”

“So what shall we demand?” Rene asked.

“Some food would be nice,” Tequila blurted out. Sam, whom she had determined to be the most irrational one, turned on her and scowled. “Sorry,” she said.

“No,” Rene said, “We do need some food, especially if you plan on being stuck here for a while.”

“And while we’re at it, some televisions and a full set-up of camera equipment. It’s time we shook things up a little bit. Throw these cops a curve that will have them guessing and questioning what our next move will be,” Brendan said.

Tequila turned to the groom. “What do you think he’s planning?”

“I don’t know anymore,” He said, “And I don’t know him anymore either.”

A Non-Existent User
Sadie tried to smile at Tequila, but was obstructed by duct tape.

She must think I'm a big idiot, she thought. And maybe I am.

She felt horrible for getting the priest shot. It seemed impossible to believe that her actions could travel so far. Perhaps there was some comfort that her mouth was filled with blood, though.

From across the room, she glimpsed Cass cuddling with her husband. Wait, did he count as a husband yet?

Oh sure, that is the part to focus on you big dope.

She leaned back against the pillar and stared at the ceiling. It was pretty, but plain like most churches. Unlike most churches, though, it didn't have any sentiment to her. This one was just cheap enough to balance the bills.

How romantic.

Once more, she looked at Tequila. She seemed friendly enough, even though in a room of robbers that wasn't much to say. The woman was beatiful, much more than she could ever be.

Her thoughts were interrupted by the thief she held a gun to. He now had his own cocked and pointed at her.

She closed her eyes and waited for death. Instead, there was a collision of metal and flesh as he swung it at her skull. She wiped the trickle of blood from her hair on her shoulder. He spat on her leg.

Ugh.

"Just thought I'd leave you with a little souvenier." he laughed.
A Non-Existent User
Lying in her fiancé’s arms, Cassady could breathe a little easier. She had time to think for a few moments. She looked up just in time to see the gunman knock down Tequila. She was tired of this. Frustrated, tired, and angry, she finally got up enough nerve to make a move.

She whispered, “Honey, follow my lead.”

“What? No. You need to stay here.”

“And do what? They are going to kill us or worse, keep us here for our wedding night. Personally, I don’t want to share that with anyone but you.” She felt good. She felt alive again.

He said, “Then tell me what you are going to do. So, I can at least protect you.”

He thought more about how her scattered brain ideas sometimes really led her to amazing results. He admired that in her. He was such a straight laced kind of guy. He could always be counted on to do the right thing. She could always be counted on to keep him on his toes. If they ever got out of here alive, he knew life would be interesting.

She shrugged, “No time for that. Just trust me. I don’t want to be a hero. I just want my freaking wedding. I mean, our wedding to happen.

What these robbers didn’t know was that she was amazing in sales. In college, she waited tables. She made a lot of money. She could sell dirt to a worm they always said.

“Uhem,” she said loudly.

Rene turned. The bride had hardly spoken. This should be good, he thought.

“What do you want?”

“You’re looking to get out of here, right?” she asked in an almost flirty tone.

“Yeah genius, do you have any other observations?” he mocked.

She ignored the tone in his voice. “What I mean is, you could not have gotten very much money from those wallets, right?”

Deflated, he said, “Yeah, and?”

“Well, it seems to me that in the eyes of the law, you have kidnapped, assaulted, and robbed all these people. There are probably snipers outside waiting for a good shot at you. It hardly seems worth it, does it?”

Irritated, he pointed the gun toward her. “Get to the point fast or the bride will be having her wedding at the cemetery."

Now, her fiancé was on edge. He trusted her but he couldn’t see where this was going either.

She smiled mischievously and said, “What if you changed your clothes with us?"

“Huh?” Rene replied puzzled. Everyone within earshot stopped and looked at her.

“Change clothes with us. The cops have your descriptions by now. We change clothes with you and then we release you as hostages. Then we tell the police you made us do it and you get away.”

“What stops you from telling the police all about us and them tracking us down?” he asked.

“You have our licenses. You know where we live. And I want tomorrow to be about me, not you!”

Rene thought about it for a minute. Not a bad plan. But there is so much going on here: News, demands, television equipment, the police calling, and a helicopter. He needed time to think all this through.

How had she gotten herself in this mess. Here she was locked in the back of a cruiser with no way to get out. She must not have presented that much of a threat because the cop assigned to guard her had walked away to get a doughnut or something. As she sat there scratching her head as to what she could do, the cute rookie who helped her before passed by the cruiser. She tapped on the window to get his attention.

He opened the driver's door and stepped inside so he could talk to her.

"Ma'am, how did you get in here?" He asked.

"I disagreed with your captain, now let me out, please. I have to help my friends."

"Oh, I sorry but I can't do that."

Patricia hated to use her womanly ways but she felt she had no choice. She unzipped the side of her dress and exposed herself to the young man just enough to entice him. Quickly, but not quickly enough he jumped out and opened her door.

"You'll get more when this is all done," She said. He was like a puddy dog and wouldn't leave her alone but she managed to convince him to walk away. But the question still remained to her what she was going to do. She looked back towards the cop car and spotted some drycleaning hung up in the passenger seat. Officer's uniforms to be exact. A smile crept across of her face as she hopped they were her size.

But as she changed in the car, she noticed there was a lot of activity near the entrance to the church. She wondered so much what was going on, she didn't notice the old man arguing with the captain.

* * *


Rene stared at all the equipment that had just been delievered to him. That as well as the thirty boxes of pizza all came in under 10 minutes. Something didn't seem right to him.

"Something's wrong," He said to Sam.

"What do you mean?" Sam asked.

"This all came way to fast. When have you ever seen the cops respond to a robber's demands quickly."

"Never..." Sam said trailing off, "..Unless there was a VIP hostage involved."

"What VIP? We have a middle-class engaged couple, some scared poor people and oh yea, the only semi rich person we have is Mr. Security over there." Yes Rene reads Forbes.

"It has to be him." Sam reacted almost instantanously before Rene could and rushed Donald putting a gun to his head. "WHY DO THEY WANT YOU TO LIVE. AND DON'T TELL ME ITS BECAUSE YOU'RE RICH!"

"WHOA! WHOA! WHOA!" Brendan screamed at the sudden change, "What is going on?"

"Someone on the outside wants Mr. Forbes alive, and we want to know who?" Rene told him.

"My name is Donald Mack," Donald answered, "And trust me, there is no one out there trying to keep me alive. The only person I've ever loved is in here."

Tequila didn't know this group, but she looked around wondering who he was in love with. Surely not Cassidy. Didn't she saw he was her cousin?

"Well then, it doesn't matter if I shoot you then," Sam said, "Because we whouldn't want them out there to kill us all to get you out."

Tequila didn't know if Donald was worth saving or not but she couldn't allow someone to die for her. She stood up defiantly. "They're trying to save me."

Cassidy and Sadie turned their heads to her first followed by everyone else. Now angry, Rene stomped over to her and got close in her face.

"You!" He screamed, "What would they want with you! You're nothing but a simple hostess. And don't tell me you're the employee of the month because I doubt this hotel cares that much about you."

"No, not the hotel," She said, "Just the owner. Because I am his daughter. His one and only daughter."
A Non-Existent User
Sadie choked at the news. This was definitely a turn of events. Tequila's status was the last thing she expected. Sure she was classy, but...

A Non-Existent User
Timmy kept his mouth shut and his eyes turned down to the ground. No one had noticed him yet, in fact it was if he did not exist at all. Maybe it was because he was crazy, crazy people were always going unnoticed and uncared about. He wondered if he should be grateful but then he realized he would have to be grateful he was crazy in the first place. Timmy decided he would rather have the gun pressed to his head.

Timmy blinked rapidly suddenly, he was sure if he blinked enough one of the blinks would cause him to wake up and the whole situation would be gone. All a dream. A dream. Yes, a dream. It was a dream. Or was he hallucinating? Where was his medicine. Out there...yes. That's right. Oh, he should get it. But then that means he'd be seen. It was hard to be seen when you were in a money cabinet that had not been used in months. It did not even look like a place to keep money. It had a plant on it. It was like a shabby metallic filing thingy.

He wasn't going out there he decided. He had never died in a dream before but for some reason he thought it likely in this one. Or was it a hallucination. Well, if it was a hallucination it'd go away if he gave it enough time. If only the voices in his head would stop shouting so much, it really jarred him. His dirty black bangs were matted down across his eyes with perspiration and dirt. He needed to shower he supposed, but he didn't smell bad...it was hard to if you just kept putting on more deodorant. He had nearly gone through a whole stick this morning.

Timmy blinked a few more times and peeked out the significantly small whole that was in the side of the cabinet. The woman was someone's daughter. He hoped not his. She said whose daughter, but you never know. Timmy wondered if he could have had a daughter if he had never had sex. He then proceeded to nod to himself, answering his own question.

"If God can do it, I think I could..." he reasoned. Timmy twitched a bit in his neck, he HATED when he did that. It hurt and made him irritable. He wanted to hit something but then it dawned on him once again, people with guns. Dreams with guns. Hallucinations with guns. Voices with guns. Whatever it was, it had guns. He didn't want to have a bullet.

"Why am I here?" Timmy asked himself. It did seem strange. Oh right, he wanted to take out some cash for drugs. Good drugs. Yummy drugs. The drugs from his doctor were OK, but they didn't have that BANG he needed. His family was rich...very rich. Very powerful, but he got the impression they did not want him around. Every time he said he was thinking of coming home they told him he should go on a vacation or something and they would be sending him whatever amount he needed. This would cause Timmy to forget everything else and become overjoyed at the thought of visiting some country somewhere. Normally it just ended up with him high on his basement floor staring at a piece of lint and talking about how amazing it looked.

Timmy looked up again remembering he should not think so loudly. The voices in his head might hear him if he could hear them. It only made good sense.
A Non-Existent User
The more Cassidy stared at her fiancé, the more irritated she was becoming.
Look at him, this whole time he hasn't done a thing. Not a thing! UGH! I understand being cautious but this is to the point of wimpy.
Look at Brendan. Wow! I never saw it before. He is so strong. I don't just mean looks. He is a man getting things done, or at least trying anyway. That's more than I can say for the groom.
Am I making a mistake? Brendan, obviously, would be much more of a lifelong protector.
What am I saying? I am getting married tomorrow. Stop it Cassidy.
But look at Brendan. The passion in his eyes is making my heart melt.
Cassidy stares at him. Her eyes say, “Ask me and I will be yours.”
Cassidy thinks to herself, “Is this attraction from all the stress? Am I trying to escape the situation that I might die? All I want to do is run and hide.”
Brendan is looking back at her. Uh oh!
A Non-Existent User
Sadie pulled her lips into her mouth and wet them before they chapped. Her back cracked a little when she moved. She hadn't realized she was so stiff.

She pushed her legs away, moaning as her muscles stretched. Then she tucked them back under her and wiggled so that her skirt fell over her knees. The last thing she wanted were the robbers to get any ideas.

As usual, when she was scared beyond belief, her mind went into denial. She started skimming over lyrics until something else distracted her.

A guy a few feet away was sweating like crazy. That was understandable, but it seemed like he was sweating even more than usual. He looked familiar, but she struggled for the name.

That kept her busy for a few minutes, until she drew a blank. Then it just became frustrating.
Alex was getting a little irritated with his cousin as well. He had always stood by him, but now, he was acting like a little ninny. And that erked Alex more than anything. If they got out of this alive, Alex would kill him (get the irony?). But Alex kept his thoughts to himself as he tried to figure out his next move. Thus far, some pretty interesting things had come up, some of which he could probably use to his advantage.

He slowly got up, stretching his arms and legs. The guys who were holding them hostage looked at him, ever so mindful, but did not stop him. He merely looked back at them, challenging. God, I'm stupid, he thought to himself, smiling. He made his way over to where Sadie and Tequila sat. He had seen Sadie's eyes kind of bulge at some news Tequila had told her. The question was, what was the news that could cause that kind of reaction from Sadie?
This was by far the best idea Patricia ever had. With her newfound look, she was able to walk around inconspicuously and spy on whatever she needed. The clothes she had found were a little baggy but she had managed to find some SWAT gear in the trunk that she had donned over them. The helmet worked out especially when she had to stand behind the Captain.

The overall mood of the teams outside had changed dramatically too, she noticed. One minute they were all gearing up for what looked like a huge raid on the church and now they were just whistling away, sitting on their asses. She couldn't get any information out her boytoy before she dropped him off somewhere to go relieve himself.

The Captain was arguing with some old man near the command tent, who looked really determined to stop something. She snuck in as close as she could and listened in to her best ability.

"I telling you, sir, that the only way to assure your daughter's safety is to go in there now and strike hard."

"And I'm telling you that I want you to do whatever is in your power to assure her safety," The old man screamed, "Except raid that fucking building. I don't give a crap about the building, the structure or the real estate market at this point. All I want is my daughter out here, where she belongs."

"Are you a trained police officer, sir. Then trust me when I say, that we have everything under control."

"How do you have everything under control!"

"We have very aware of just how fragile these thieves are. If we go in there and strike, now while they're at their weakest, the whole hostage situation will crumble and you will get exactly what you want."

"Well, Captian, I have my doubts but if you believe that you can pull these off without a hitch, then I will give my consent. But let me tell you this, I have the mayor's number and I am close personal friends with him. If you screw this up, I will have your badge faster than you can read your ID number."

"Very well," The Captain said. He turned to the SWAT leader and gave him the signal to proceed.

Patricia gasped. She didn't know what she could do to help. The SWAT team was going inside and judging from what she saw of the thieves, this could turn out really badly. She started to drop to her knees when someone grabbed her from behind. She started to fight back, thinking she was in trouble and had gotten caught again. But then she realizes that she was being put in the roll call for the raid. Someone slammed a gun into her hands and put her in line.

A young rookie, it seems, got behind her they knelt down and tapped her on her shoulder.

"Vincent Teague," He said, "how you doing?"

"I'm good," She said weakly.

"That's good," He said, "What's your name?"

"Patricia Lewis."

"Alright. Alright. You ready for this Patricia. Don't answer that. I've been ready for this my whole life. I've been waiting since I got out of school for this."

"And how long ago was that?"

"One week," He said. Patricia turned and put her head down. Tears started to run down her face as she realized that some of her friends or very well her just might die in the next few hours. "I going to kill me some bad guys," The rookie said checking the safety on his gun.

-------------------------------------


"So if your dad is the owner, why are you working here?" Sadie asked Tequila, the tape now gone from her mouth.

"I wanted to prove that I could survive on my own," She responded.

"I bet you you're regretting that decision now?"

Alex suddenly sat down opposite Tequila.

"Are you ladies, okay?" He asked.

"Do I look ago, Alex," Sadie responded. My hands are tied up and this tape around my neck is starting to chaf.

"I didn't know we knew each other," Alex said.

"We don't. But Cassidy made us memorize the names and faces of all the best men in case the order had changed. I mean I was always the maid of honor but the order of the bridesmaids was undetermined in case someone didn't show up. Patricia was the last to show up and she got 1st bridesmaid."

"Gosh, I wonder how she's doing?" Alex asked.

"Probably better than the rest of us," Sadie responded.

"Patricia is the one that was kicked out?" Tequila asked.

"Yea," Sadie said.

"So are you rich." The question was of course directed at Tequila from Alex.

"Yes, I am rich. Am I stuck-up? Is that you're next question. No I am not."

"Don't get fiesty on me, I'm just asking a question. Besides, now I'm wondering about what they're doing." He pointed over to a corner where Rene and Brendan had gotten into a discussion.

"Probably discussing the best way to kill all of us," Sadie said.

"You really think Brendan would come all the way back in here just to let us all die," Alex said, "While I still don't know he's true reasons, I do know that we're his friends. Some of us are his cousins. So he wouldn't knowingly put us in harm's way."

"You still got to wonder?" Tequila said, "Money brings out the worst in people."

"I hear you," Sadie said, "Boy, do I hear you."

-------------------------------------


Rene was seeking Brendan's advice on how to deal with this situation. He thought that Cassidy's idea to exchange clothes was a good idea but it didn't allow them to get the catch out. And as Brendan told him, the cops would hold all the hostages anyway, so they would know within a couple of hours that Cassidy, her fiance and the other two bridal members who helped were not the real theives. It was all looking like a hopeless situation. Even Tequila's announcement didn't help the situation any.

This was suppose to be a simple in and out robbery, he told Brendan. Brendan nodded his head in agreement but in reality he was half listening. He didn't care if Rene or his crew got out or not. He was trying to ensure that the party got out okay. But much like Rene felt, all these secrets were just making that a not so simple task.

As he turned to scope out the hostages, he could have swore that Cassidy was staring right at him. He looked back but by then she turned her head but then snuck at glance back at him. Was she trying to get his attention for an idea or was she playing games. How could she think of playing games at a time like this. There were guns pointed at them. But then actually, he had a great idea. Something that just hit him in a great flash moment.

"Rene, I need Cassidy over here," He told the leader, "I need to talk to her in private."

Rene made a motion and one of the thugs grabbed Cassidy and brought her to Brendan. She put up a fight, naturally and her fiancee grabbed her leg holding on for dear life. They headbutted him with one of the shotguns they had brought along. He slumped like a child on the floor and was unconscience in a second.

Brendan couldn't worry about him right now but one of the other bridal members crawled to him to check on him. In fact, it was good that he was out because he would have just put a wrench into his plans. He lead Cassidy into a corner of the church so they could talk. But she didn't want to let him.

"Brendan...Shut...Kill you...Bastard...Stupid ignorant son of a...us all in danger...what the hell...pizza...wrong with you...join them...love you."

"Cassidy. Cassidy. Cassidy. Cassidy," He repeated trying to get her attention, "Hold on for a second a let me explain something. I am not on their side. I only gaining their trust to keep everyone in here safe. But I need your help...Wait! Did you just say that you love me?"

"It was slip," She sidestepped, "Keep going. I was screaming my head off. I love my fiancee so don't looked nothing into it."

"How could I not look into it?"

"Okay, really is this the best time to get into this right now? No, so go on with your plan."

"Okay so look, the best way to go about this is to..."
A Non-Existent User
Sadie watched Brendan carefully. She knew by his face that Cassidy had just said something major, but she couldn't hear what it was. It brought back memories of when she and Cass used to spy on others with cereal box gear.

The recollection jerked a tear free, but she hastily blinked it back. The last thing she wanted was to have a breakdown.

"I just don't believe this is happening." she said to no one in particular. "This is like some bad movie I usually throw popcorn at."

"Yeah." Tequila sighed. "It does seem unreal."

"I hate that I can't do anything. It feels so..."

"Frustrating?" the girl offered.

Sadie dropped her head back. "Yeah."

"I feel the same way."
A Non-Existent User
Cassidy couldn't believe what she just heard, or what she just said.
Once again, her avoidance took over and her focus was gone from reality. It was a habit that up until today had only minor consequences.

Once, in high school, on a perfect spring day, she stared out the window. She dreamed of hiking up the mountain with her german shepard, Magic. Her lungs filled with fresh air.

Mr. Smith, her history teacher, said, "Uhem, Cassidy. UHEM. CASSIDY!"

Cassidy jumped. "Daddy, I won't be late."

The classroom erupted with laughter. Cassidy turned red and Mr. Smith was less than amused. I know that because I remember he said, "Cassidy, I am less than amused."

"Cassidy," Brendan said. "Honestly, this is no time for your tomfoolery."

Cassidy bursts out laughing. She loves when Brendan used words that seemed archaic and obsolete. Tears are streaming down her face. She is crying and giggling.

Brendan grabs hold of her as she falls to the floor. Voices are distant. She sees mouths moving but can't grasp what's going on...

They were better prepared than the police had originally thought. The SWAT team had a concrete plan for taken down the criminals but that had all realied on the fact that they were illprepared and stupid. They may not have expected the cops here so suddenly or at all but that didn't stop them from being able to anticipate and stop the raid that was so carefully planned.

Patricia was in the middle of it. Now here she stood, less than thirty minutes after it has been implemented. Coroners had come and gone already, taking away the 3 dead and the ambulances had already taken 2 criticals away, both cops, and EMT's were tending to a few injuries. She didn't even want to think about her friends that were trapped in that church and which ones were probably hurt. She herself had a minor injury, a cut to the leg that went from her knee halfway down her thigh. She had gotten it when the gunfire had gotten out of control and she bailed out the window nearest her. She fell 10 feet onto a brick and the glass landed point in her leg. Years of working the expeditions left her with a high tolerance to pain so she managed to limp back to the staging area and recieve her own share of medical attention.

She finished the bottle water she had been given and leaned back against the police car she was sitting on. Vincent, the rookie she met just before they went on the raid, came over to her. He was covered in blood and had a bandage wrapped around his head.

"Patricia, thank god. I'm so fucking happy I you're alive. That was such a bloodbath. I suprised I made it out of there too."

"Is that your blood?" She asked.

"No, this is from one of the guys that were killed. He was one of my intructors in my SWAT class too. Good guy. Its so fucked up that he was killed. I can't wait to get back in there so I can kill every single one of those Mother F..."

"Vincent. That strike was ill-planned and should have never happened. That stupid Captain over there is trying to rush this situation and these are the things that are happened. Look over there now and see!" She was of course referring to the fact that the commissioner of the police department had grabbed the SWAT team leader, the mayor, the owner of the hotel, and the Captain and pulled them into the white command tent, most likely to ream them out.

Vincent turned, looked and frowned. "I saw you bail out, Patricia," He said, "You just left us behind. We are trained as a uniformed unit. We stick together threw thick and thin like a marriage. So I got to ask before I inform the higher ups what you're reason possibly could have been?"

Patricia thought she had gotten away clean but obviously she was completely mistaken. Tears started to stream down her face as she looked up to Vincent who was now standing directly over her. "I'm not a cop, Vincent. I'm not a trained member of anything. The only reason I survived is because I spend most of my time dodging animal attacks. I'm a hostage or I was before I escaped."

"I thought I reconized just now but I couldn't put it together. You know my professional preragative tells me to turn you in but I just don't think that I can do that. I saw what happen to you when your friend ran back inside." Vincent now kneeled in front of her so they were eye to eye now.

"Vincent. I'm worried about my friends and I don't think that this Captain is worried about them. I don't even know if any of them got hurt from this raid. I want to find out but I think everyone is going to be alert now and I can't hide my face with the helmet anymore."

"Stay right here out of sight. I will find out and let you know."

--------------------------------------


No one could figure out why Cassidy had feinted. One minute she was standing up talking to Brennan and the next she was out like a lamb. Brennan bent down over her and started looking for breath sounds. Rene and the others stood guard while the everyone else looked on worringly. Then Brennan stood up and announced to everyone that she was going to be okay. Tequila smiled lovingly and turned to look at Sadie for her reaction. She was smiling too.

And then everything went completely wrong. It all happened so fast she couldn't even register what was going on. The front doors were flung open from the other side and shots were fired before heads could turn. Tequila looked on in horror as Brennan flew back, the velocity of a shot. She turned to look back as a dozen armed policeman stormed into the building. She tried to get up but someone slammed down on top of her.

"Stay down!" Alex screamed into her ear. Out the corner of her eye, she saw Sadie also lying down on the floor as Alex had apparently grabbed her too. She sound of gunfire from the cops was then matched by Rene and his goons who took refuge behind various items. One of the four, whose name Tequila could not remember, grabbed one of the hostages, a usher or some sort that did not work for the hotel. Before Rene could scream, "No!", the usher took three to the chest and one still managed to get the guy behind him. He stayed up though and dived behind an alter of some sort.

There were a least a dozen cops but Rene's goons as unprepared as they may have seen were very much trained in some sort of special forces tactics because in less than two minutes, two policemen were down. Several of the cops grabbed their downed friends and started to pull them out.

She didn't know where it came from but obviously one of the goons had brought in some sort of grenades with him because there was a huge explosion and fire from the middle of the group the cops had formed. Several of them were thrown back from their position. Tequila could have sworn one of them flew out the window. Or they could've jumped. Everything was happening so fast. She turned her attention back to the surroundings of the gunfight. Mantels and busts were being blown apart. And finally, and she didn't know when it happened or were it came from, but someone showed up with a shotgun. The deafening sound was enough to make Tequila clamp her hands over her ears. The power behind that weapon combined with the combined with the automatic weapons the others were sporting was enough to draw the cops into the retreat. Tequila was happy about that result. She didn't want to be a hostage anymore but if this continued for any longer, she was going to die. And she was too young to die.

After the last of the raid team had retreated past the doors, Rene's team went into action and began to seal up the doors. They slammed pews into the doors to keep them shut and then turned their guns on the hostages.

"WHAT IN THE HELL WAS THAT!!!"

No one cared about why it had happened. As soon as it seemed secure, Tequila bounced over to Brennan. She was not an EMT like he was but they had to recieve first aid training to work at the hotel. She was happy to see that all he had recieved was a shot high in his shoulder from a high powered rifle of some sort. He was still alive and he was staring up in the sky when she came over.

"I'm okay," He said, "I can fix myself."

"I know," She said, "I can see that."

"How is everyone else?"

"OH MY GOD!!!!!!!!!!!" Came a scream from someone. She turned to see what all the commotion was and gasped. Among all the chaos, the usher had gotten shot and was obviously dead, there were two other guest wounded and the most horrible sight she had to witness. Cassidy's fiance, had gotten shot dead in the head. She turned to look at Brennan who couldn't see that area from his position.

"Brennan," She said fighting back tears, " Cassidy's fiance is dead." Brennan choked and turned to look at Cassidy who laid just as she fell peaceful in her passed out state. "What are we to do now?" She asked. Brennan did nothing but shake his head solemnly and close his eyes.
A Non-Existent User
Cassady mumbled, "UH. Huh?" Next her eyes opened slowly. She looked from side to side, confused as to where she was. Brendan helped her sit up. "What where..." And then she saw her fiance on the floor, blood everywhere. "NO!" she screamed. NO! She crawled toward him, crying, screaming, gasping for air. She laid on him. His blood staining her ivory dress.

As Rene's men started taking away the dead bodies out to the other room, Cassady wouldn't move.

"Come on lady," one thug said, more oblivious than uncaring.

"Hey," Tequila said, "What the hell is your problem? Can't you see this was going to be her husband tomorrow, if it wasn't for you assholes?"

Then Tequila started crying. It was too much for her to see the blood stained dress. She pulled Cassady away and hugged her. Cassady held on for life.

After 10 minutes Cassady suddenly got up and began walking to the front door.

Rene screamed, "Shoot her."

Cassady didn't care. What was the point? She sat down on the pew by the front door.
Everyone watched unmoving. Cassady lifted the bottom part of the skirt to her waist. The once ivory dress was blood soaked and dirty. She began to tear off small three inch pieces of the dress slowly and methodically. As each piece fell to the floor, she hummed somberly and eerily quiet, Here comes the bride...

Still, no one moved. In a relatively short time, the wedding dress was no more. In one swift, fluid movement, she ripped the back of the dress into two and threw it in the air.
She screamed, "Wheeeee!" For a moment, Cassady played like a little girl with the material.

She stopped suddenly when someone dropped a piece of silverware on the wood floor. The clanging jarred her out of her delirium. She looked around and then at everyone else. She realized that she was standing in her bra and panties. She walked to the bathroom and no one tried to stop her. She sat down in a stall and held herself.



A Non-Existent User
Sadie's first instinct was to try to help Cassady, but the ropes had cut off her circulation and she couldn't move. For the thousandth time, she cursed her stupidity, then started to cry.

She kept it silent, so that no one would notice, and wondered how she could help without moving. Then it struck her.

"Becky." she whispered to one of the guests.

The girl crawled over.

"Listen, I had an extra dress in that bag next to the pew, just in case I got that lobster sauce all over mine. Please, take that to Cassady. Don't say anything, just leave it by the sink."

She looked worried, but nodded anyway. To Sadie's relief, Rene led her to the bathroom after checking the bag.

So maybe she wasn't the absolute worst maid of honor, though she felt pretty close now.

There was blood on her shirt. She wasn't sure if it was Brendan's or was it Cassidy's fiance's and had transfered to her. Either way, she had discarded her shirt and tossed it in the trash. She had worn a t-shirt today, so she wasn't being indecent or anything. Still Alex couldn't keep his eyes off of her. Had they not been in the situation, something might have developed, but on the flip side they might've never talked except when she would ask if his service was satisfactory.

She shook her head slightly in an attempt to erase them thoughts from her head. She was in a hostage crisis for the love of God. People have gotten killed and some are even injured. She looked over a Brendan and had moved to lean against the wall. He looked weak and pale. He had lost some blood from the bullet wound but it shouldn't have been enough to weaken him. She slowly crawled over to him, Alex trying to hold her back. With everything that had happened so far, Rene and his goons had mellowed down with the hostages, since they seemed more afraid of the police than them. Aside from their harshness during the intial stages of the robbery, they had not aggressive to them in well over a couple of hours.

"Brendan, are you okay?" She asked when she reached him, "Because you look a little weak to me. You haven't lost too much blood, have you?"

"I'm just in pain, Tequila. The bullet is lodged in my shoulder and it pushing on my nerves. Its taking all my strength just to keep from screaming outloud."

"Well then you need medical help, Brendan. We can't just leave you like this."

"I'll be fine," Brendan said, "Besides, I would have to leave. Again. I can't leave my friends and family. I've protected them this far."

"Well. What if we pulled the bullet out?"

Brendan turned a shifty eye to her. "You know how to do that?"

"No, but we recieve CPR and minor first aid training as part of employment. And you're an EMT so I'm sure you can walk me threw it."

"Are you sure you're the owner daughter cause usually that person is usually snobby."

"Thanks, I'll take that as a compliment. So are we going to do this or what?"

"Yea, but not here. And you're going to need help. Get Alex, I trust him."

Tequila motioned to Rene who came over. She told him what she planned to do and who she needed. He readily agreed.

"Well, now where are they going?" Sadie said jealously when Alex, Tequila and Brendan disappeared into the reception hall. Becky, who had long since returned from delievering the dress to Cassidy just shrugged her shoulders. Although Rene had let Sadie keep her arms untied, he still didn't trust her and had therefore posted the wedding planner in the bathroom with Cassidy to make sure she would be okay.

Sadie was worried about from friend but her thoughts were interrupted by a loud scream from the other room possibly Brendan's. "WHAT THE HELL ARE THEY DOING IN THERE!" When one of the goons advanced towards her, she sank down. "I know, I know." She sighed and turned to Becky. "This is going to be a really long day."

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Patricia had thought she gotten caught. When Vincent returned with two uniformed officers, she had been sure that he had betrayed her and turned her in. But instead they officers presented her with a new set of clothes. It was a cadet uniform, which would help her blend in more. Vincent had her changed into it but she was still unconvinced that it would help her remain incognito. Until he presented her with a pair of scissors.

"The Captain doesn't remember what you look like. Trust me, we slyly asked and then informed him that you slipped away and is no where to be found. He's not looking for you because he has other important matter to attend to. These two are going to watch over because I'm needed elsewhere. You can trust them, they were in the academy with me."

Patricia would hate to cut off her hair but she needed to whatever she could to protect her friends.

"Okay," She said when she was finished, "So what do we do now?"

"Now, ma'am. We wait," One of the officers said, "Because after that last debacle, we are not advancing anymore. We may just wait here all night and see what they do in the morning."

"Great. Just great."
A Non-Existent User
Cassady slipped the dress over her head. It was a bright fun party dress made from that great travel material. She opened up the stall and looked in the mirror. Mascara had run down her cheek. Drops of blood had splattered onto her cheek.
She turned the faucet on and let the water get hot. Cassady began scrubbing her face and hands hard. If she could only scrub away the angst.
She was so used to being in control.

He is dead, she thought to herself. Dead...."DEAD!" she screamed loud enough the people in the other room could hear her.

The wedding planner shut the faucet off quickly and grabbed Cassady. "Stop it. He is dead. You are not. You have to pull yourself together."

"Noooooo. No I can't. I can't." Cassady laid down on the cold, ceramic tile floor in a ball.

After a few moments, Cassady got up and walked out of the bathroom. The door slammed. Her face blotchy red and scoured. She went straight for Rene and got in his face.

"Are you happy? Don't know what happened to you in your life but I am sorry. I wanted to thank you for destroying mine. My wedding day is ruined, my fiance is dead, DEAD! I hope you rot in hell you bastard."

Two thugs grabbed Cassady's arms and carried her away.

Rene said, "Put her in that closet in the kitchen. Tie her up good. I don't want to hear a peep from her. Got that sweetie? One peep and you're dead too."

The two thugs threw her in the closet, smacking her head on a pipe. She was unconcious. They figured tying her up was stupid since she was out cold. So they left her there.
A Non-Existent User
Sadie closed her eyes and tried to block out the sounds. Her head felt strange, almost like it was numb. She held her breath, trying to make her brain focus. It seemed the harder she tried to concentrate on the situation, the further away it fell. Faces were meshing together into unrecognizable shapes.

Her brows furrowed in frustration. She must really be losing it. She clenched her jaw and willed herself to see someone, anyone. She narrowed her eyes, finally picking Becky out a few feet away.

Sadie began to hum "Whispers in the Dark", concentrating carefully on the lyrics. It brought her almost back to center, where she finished with a sigh.

She wiped the sweat from her face, still pink with leftover blood. She rubbed it on her dress, disgusted. It was not that she was new to pain, but she never had her life and those around her at risk. Especially not her best friend.

What was it like, she wondered. To lose the love of your life? She couldn't begin to imagine. She absently picked at the fraying edge of her dress as she thought.

"Do you think we'll make it?" she asked Becky.

"Yeah." she replied, though her voice sounded unsure.

"Yeah." she repeated. "Yeah, I think I'll call my old boyfriend. I used to think that I wasn't ready for a serious relationship, but I guess you never know how you really feel until..." she glanced at Becky. "Never mind... So, I think when we get out, we should probably eat something. What do you want?"

Becky began to describe the meal in detail, her face slowly losing the agitation. Sadie figured food may not have been the best choice of topic, but such solid things took away some of the fear and uncertainty, even in her.
A Non-Existent User
Cassady came to with a pounding in her head and panicked. Where was she? She felt around. "Ow, my head."

There was a small light coming through the opening beneath the door. As her eyes adjusted, she saw sje was wearing a dress she didn't recognize. "What is going on?" And then she remembered...all of it. She sobbed a few more moments but stopped. The small dark room was comforting to her. She could pretend this was all a bad dream. at least for a while anyway.

"Where's Cassady?"

"I had her put away"

"What do you mean put away?"

"She's in a closet over there. She was starting to become annoying. And if you don't stop asking me questions, you will too. I haven't forgotten that you started on the other side of this perdictament. Believe it or not, I have been watching you. You just haven't raised any red flags in my head for me to be concerned."

"I think the red flags in your head should be at how much the situation is unraveling. You got one man hurt, you have no exit strategy and you have already lost some of your hostages. Your men are getting antsy. I bet you that didn't know when they signed on for such a simple job that it might be there last day to live." Brendan stepped forward with his last statement, his right arm in a sling now that the bullet had been removed from his shoulder.

"Is that a threat?" Rene asked, a scowl starting to form on his face.

"Take it as you see it."

"Oh I intend on it."

Brendan walked away leaving Rene huffing and turned on his heels in thought. Tequila approached Brendan as he walked away. Having now seen that the chances of them overpowering their captors were slim, none of the hostages savored any thoughts of attempting that. So Rene was not weary of Tequila's intentions for walking across the room.

"Brendan, how are you feeling?"

"I feel better Tequila thanks to your surgery."

"A girl tries to do what she can do," Tequila said smiling lovingly at him. She wasn't attempting to flirt with him but while she was removing the bullet out of his shoulder, she had visions of tearing him apart. Especially since he was shirtless the entire time. "So do you have any plans on getting us out of here because I'm starting to get a bad feeling that I'm not going to make it out of here."

"Tequila, I'm not going to let anything happen to you. Or Cassidy. Or anyone else here for that matter. I have a plan. Its just going to take some time to get everything in motion. This thing with Cassidy being put out of the way puts somewhat of a hampering in that but I'll work it out."

Tequila could feel something burning her shoulder and looked out of the corner of her eye at Sadie starring hard at her. She wasn't sure if the woman could tell that she was flirting with Brendan or not. Or it could be because Tequila was able to walk about while Sadie was still stuck on the floor. If she even twitched, the guard behind her was on point. She actually felt bad for her. She was only trying to save her friends. At the time, Tequila had not had thoughts of saving anybody because she didn't know anyone. But now, 6 hours into the situation, she was starting to realize why all of these people had been risking their lives for each other. Why Brendan snuck back in. Why the priest dove for a bullet. All except for Donald. He still seemed like he was in his own little world. She had yet to figure him out. But she would have time for that later, unfortunatly. Dark was approaching so the idea of a rescue, seeing how badly the last one ended, coming up soon was out of the question.

"Brendan," She said, "I hope whatever you got planned you put into effect as soon as possible. Because I don't want to still be in this situation when the sun comes up."

"I understand, Tequila," He said, "Neither do I."

A Non-Existent User
Cassady dozed on and off for a while. How long, she couldn't remember. It was time to get her head together. Helpless just wasn't her style. She searched the shelves trying to find something that would help her. "Crackers, well that is a start,"

As she munched, Cassidy felt normal for a moment. She said to herself. "Let's see. If I could find a bobby pin, some cotton, alcohol, and some matches, I could make a bomb, right?" Cassady laughed, pretending to be Macgyver. Is it ok to laugh, she wondered? It sure felt good.

At first glance, the shelves had nothing but some canned goods. She saw a stepstool and quietly opened it up. Cassady stepped up to see the top shelf. With her head raised, she glanced toward the ceiling. The light had been removed, probably from that stupid jerk who threw her in here. But there was a pen and a notepad. She took it down and stepped off the stool. Kneeling down, she brought the pad to the light to see if there was anything written on it. There was.

The pad appeared blank. But Cassady had a habit of scribbling and doodling on the last few pages of her notebooks. So it was common for her to look in the back of other people's notes as well. Sure enough, there was stuff written.

The notepad appeared to be a grocery list, understandably. But the list was written by someone who signed it TH, and some of the items were questionable - rope, gun shells, and at the bottom had Rene's name and number. Who was TH?

Cassady tried to go through the list of the names in her head. She was good with names but planning a wedding involved a lot of people. Who did she know at the hotel with the initials TH? The chef, no. The wedding planner, no. After a while she just picked random names hoping they would click in her mind. She started with Ta, then she would try all the vowels. After that would be Th, Tr, etc. Tammy, Tate, Tasha, Tawanna - Oh this is going to take forever. Try T - E. Tess, Tex, Teague, Teek - her mind clicked. She stopped Breathing. Tequila? Oh my God! Cassady covered her mouth so as not to scream out loud. "No, this can't be true." She read it again to be sure. TH. What was Tequila's last name? Cassady needed to find out.

Was Tequila in this with Rene? Why would she do that? Cassady remembered Tequila saying she was rich. Was the hotel in trouble? Protecting her dad? Getting my fiance killed, friends hurt, my life destroyed? For money? Why?

What was she going to do? She needed to get this information to someone. But who and how? She scribbled on a small piece of paper what she thought, then crumpled it up and stuck it in her bra, then hid the pad and pen behind some cans.

She had to get out of here. She had to tell someone. But how?
"One...two...three...you win"

"One...two...three...you win"

"One...two...three...I win"

"One...two...three...I win"

"One...two...three...You win"

Sadie put her hands down after winning the last round of paper, rock, scissors and claimed the last piece of gum that was hers. She sighed as she let the flavors roll in her mouth. "Pure bliss..."

"What's next?" Tequila asked

"I don't know. We've split everything in our pockets, purses and bras. I got nothing left. No ideas, nothing," Sadie said.

"Ugh," Tequila laid back on the cold floor her eyes rolling into her head. "I thought hostage situations were suppose to be exciting during every waking minute. Always some action going on and some twist at every turn."

"That's only in the movies."

"I've never been so bored."

"Would you rather be dead?"

"At least I'd be out of here." Tequila said it before she realized what it meant. She propped herself up on her elbows and looked into Sadie's eyes which had grown solemn. "I didn't mean that," She said, "It came out too fast."

"I know." Sadie looked over in the direction of the closet that Cassidy had been stuffed. "I wonder how Cassidy is doing?"

"Alone. Cold. In the dark. Just about the same way we are." Tequila looked at Sadie, who was starting to show signs of weariness. Becky was already out, her eyes fluttering in REM. Tequila wished she could sleep but despite how tired and bored she may have felt, she couldn't bring herself to close her eyes. The sun was starting to set outside which was not helping the situation any. "I had a date tonight," She said.

"Really. You forgot this til now?"

"I just didn't think about it. We've been here for over 12 hours now."

"Why haven't the police tried anything?"

"You really want them to? After the last fiasco" Tequila chuckled, "I'm bored but I'm fine for them just staying outside where they belong. I wish something would happen in here. Rene and his goons are just over there doing god knows what. I just want to get out of here."

"Rene?" Sadie said blinking, "Thats his name? How do you know that?"

"Brendan told me," Tequila said, "While I was stitching him up."

"Oh." Sadie paused for a moment "I wonder if we could find a way to get the info to the cops."

"Yea, some way, somehow." Tequila sighed

"Paper plane," Becky said from her sleep, smiling slightly

Tequila laughed and laid back down on the floor. Sadie couldn't see that her eyes were darting back and forth and she gulped hard
A Non-Existent User
Bathroom. Yes, that's it. They can't get mad that I have to go to the bathroom. But what will I do when I get there? Oh, oh yes!

Cassady reached for the pen, stuffed it in her bra, and began banging on the door.

"Hello? Hello? Anyone there?"

Tequila shot back up to the seated position. Becky, Sadie, and Tequila all looked around nervously.

Goon number 1 went to the door with his gun drawn.

"A little dramatic, don't you think?" said Sadie. Becky and Tequila nodded.

"Really, what is she going to do from the closet?"

Rene yelled from across the room. "Hey Jackoff? What the hell is the matter with you? What do you think the girl is going to do, come out there guns blazing like Lara Croft?"

Rene just shook his head and muttered, "Moron."

Goon 1 holsters his weapon and opens the door. "What?"

Cassady squints from the bright light coming in. "I need to go to the bathroom. And I could use some water."

"Alright," he grabs her by the arm and begins the walk to the restrooms. As she walks, Cassady winks at Sadie.

Becky doesn't notice but Tequila saw it.

Inside the ladies room, Cassady grabs the pen from her bra and begins writing on the inside door of the first stall. First she draws a star and moon, just like Sadie's tattoo. Next, she draws a bottle with the words Jose Cuervo. Then, a gun.

To disguise the notes, Cassady wrote the usual bathroom sayings on the wall. She knew it would be a stretch, but she hoped Sadie would figure it out.

Finally, she peed, flushed, and wiped her hands.

When she came out, she flirted slightly with the goon. "I think I will be ok now. Would you mind if I stayed out here with the girls? It is rather lonely in there and very very dark."

He grunted, "Not up to me. Hey Boss, she says she'll be alright. Can she stay out here?"

Rene thought for a moment. "Yeah, who cares. Dump her there."

He pushed Cassady to the ground. She looked up in agitation and muttered.

Sadie jumped up. The goon whipped out the gun from his holster.
"Hey, easy big guy. I need to go to the ladies room too."

Coincidence? Tequila wondered. Take no chances. "Me too."

"Ok, but only one at a time."

While he decided who to take, Tequila wasn't sure what to do. If she went first, Sadie and Cassady could talk. If Sadie went first, Tequila didn't know what Sadie might find. Nope, they would have to go together.

"Um, please let us go together. We are just going to the bathroom. Honestly."

He looked at Rene. Rene nodded.

And off they went into the bathroom. Suddenly the room was thick with tension. The girls walked into the bathroom, unsure what was coming. What Tequila didn't see was Cassady motioning to Sadie the number 1.

Sadie knew she had to get to the first stall. But would she? What was all the secrecy? We were all in this together right? Tequila was just like us, wasn't she? Wrong place wrong time. It was luck of the draw at this point.

They entered the bathroom and shut the door behind them. Tequila watched Sadie. Sadie went to the sink and washed her face, hands, and neck with warm water.

"Oh much better," said Sadie, hoping Tequila would follow.

She did. As Tequila washed her hands. Sadie casually entered the first stall and peed. As she did, she looked around. There it was. The moon and star tattoo. Then lots of jibberish around. But the only pictures were a bottle of Jose Cuervo and a gun. What did that mean?

"You ok?" Tequila asked.

"Oh yes, I am fine. I uh, it is nice just to have a moment of privacy, just to relax."

"That is true."

Sadie came out of the stall and stood in front of the door. "You ready?"

"Yes."

And back out they went.

"Oh, oh wait. Sam, I forgot something."

Sadie snapped her head, "What? What did you call him?"

A Non-Existent User
It finally clicked for Sadie. Tequila! The bottle was Tequila!

She bit her lip as the woman turned to her. Her earlier experience taught her that she had to approach this with caution. Anything else could endanger not only herself, but those around her.

"Sorry." she whispered. "I used to know a Sam."

It was a lame excuse, but at least they seemed to accept it. Tequila gave her a strange look, but she could tell it wouldn’t last. They walked back slowly, and Sadie tried to piece it together. Unfortunately, hunger and exhaustion did not allow her to think quickly. She did catch Cassady's eyes, though, and nodded in understanding.

She sat down, keeping a now wary eye on Tequila. How were they supposed to communicate a plan now? And how much did she already know? Her heart was in her throat, and it pounded there slowly.

Despite her panic, she soon felt her eyes closing. It occurred to her that in the flurry of last minute wedding details and the hostage situation, none of them had really slept in the last seventy-two hours.

Stars floated before her, disappearing into darkness... Her head snapped up, and she rubbed her face to keep from dozing off again.

“You should really sleep.” Cassady gestured to one of the pews.

Sadie shook her head. The girl looked just as exhausted as she felt. “We can all take turns, but I’m fine for now.”

“Do you think they’ll try anything? They have guns. If they wanted to, they would have by now, and our sleeping isn’t going to change anything.”

She shrugged. “I just don’t want to miss anything important.”

Cassady laughed weakly. “If the SWAT team comes in, then I’ll wake you up. Okay?”
***FOURTY-EIGHT HOURS EARLIER***

"So, I've given you everything that you need, right?"

"I have enough to get the job done. Do you have my money?"

"Here it is, $3000 dollars. Just like we agreed upon."

"Well then, I believe we have an understanding."

"So when will you be a...be a...doing your thing?"

"I believe that it would be best if you didn't know when. It might look suspicious if you say called out of work on that particular day."

"How so?"

"Just trust me. You'll be number one suspect once everything is said and done."

"I understand. Just promise me that no one will get hurt."

"I make no promises. You've paid me to oversee a very delicate operation. That operation will require certain skills and the people that I need to hire to perform those skills won't be able to take things so softly you see. But you have my word that they will not do anything deliberate to harm anyone."

"I understand. I've got to get this done. This is my last chance. If you don't come threw for me, my window will be closed. Do you understand?"

"You hired me because i'm the best. If you had any qualms about that, now is too late. This will be our last meeting. After today, you will not see me again. Your product will be delivered to you a week after its completion"

"Okay."

The young man stepped out of the car that the meeting was held in leaving the woman alone in the car. Almost as soon as he was out, she picked up her phone and dialed a number into it. As soon as the phone was picked up, she began. "Tequila? Everything has been taking care of...Yes, every detail...And don't worry baby, there is nothing linking you back to any of this...Momma has taken care of everything."

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