“Two-twenty-three to center,” Jacob said through the CB.
“Go ahead, two-twenty-three,” a woman’s voice answered.
“Ten-seventy-eight. Additional unit requested.”
Jacob glanced at the passenger seat. The boy stared out the front window, something he hadn’t stopped doing since Jacob picked him up.
“Location?” the woman asked.
“Lowe Street … just west of Flannigan.”
“Ten-four. Two-twenty-one en route.”
Jacob rested the CB on its cradle and looked again at the boy. Probably the same age as his son, he appeared remarkably calm, considering the circumstances. Jacob chalked it up to shock.
“You doing all right?” Jacob asked, but the boy didn’t flinch. Dumb question, he thought. What did he expect the kid to say? Jacob had found the boy wandering the streets a few blocks away from his house, which had been consumed, along with his parents, by a freak electrical fire just days before. “Daniel?”
“He’ll come for us,” Daniel said, speaking his first words in minutes.
Daniel took a few seconds before responding. “No one.” His voice drifted off as he gawked out the side window.
“You’re safe. No one’s going to harm you.”
Daniel turned to face Jacob. Lamp posts along the street helped illuminate the interior of the car, but the boy’s face remained hidden in the shadows.
“I’m sorry about your parents,” Jacob said.
“They weren’t my parents.”
“Not biological, but I’m sure they loved you like their own.”
“You don’t understand.” Daniel looked away.
Uncertain what to say, Jacob tried starting the car again, but the engine refused to turn over.
“This doesn’t make sense,” Jacob said to himself. “It was fine earlier.”
Something in the rearview mirror caught his attention. Two street lamps, one on each side of the road, blew out simultaneously. A figure slowly moved into the remaining light. Jacob swiveled his head, gazing out the back window. Every time the shape began to materialize, the street lights flickered, eventually bursting. The popping sounds grew louder as the stranger neared, leaving a path of darkness behind.
“What the hell,” Jacob whispered. He clutched the CB and pressed the talk button. “Two-twenty-three to two-twenty-one. What’s your ETA?”
A voice came back, but it was too muffled to understand.
Nothing but static.
Jacob lowered the CB, fixing his eyes on the rearview mirror. The figure was roughly thirty yards from the car. He debated what to do, but time wasn’t a luxury, so Jacob quickly came to a decision. He opened the door, pushing a button along the panel. All four doors locked.
“Keep the car locked,” Jacob said to Daniel before closing the door.
He pulled the Glock 22 from his holster and held it out in front of him, making his way to the rear of the car.
“Hold it right there,” he ordered.
The figure came to a stop, a face creeping into the light from the nearby street lamps that still worked. A bald male stood before him, but it was difficult to detect features or determine age. Jacob tingled all over. The hair on his head felt as if it stood on end. He couldn’t be sure if it was the crisp autumn breeze tickling the back of his neck or something else.
“Hands where I can see them,” Jacob said. The stranger didn’t move. “Hands on top of your head unless you want to get shot!”
Bulbs in the light posts situated between Jacob and the man sputtered and died. Jacob could no longer see him clearly in the fading glow. A silhouette sprung from the darkness. Jacob squeezed the trigger. His shot caught the man in the shoulder and forced him to the pavement.
A scream came from the vehicle. Jacob heard the doors unlock and Daniel appeared.
“Stay inside,” Jacob shouted.
The lights behind Jacob popped, turning the street even darker as Daniel circled around the front of the car. To his surprise, Daniel walked past him.
“What are you doing?” Still holding the gun in one hand, Jacob placed his other hand on Daniel’s shoulder, but a jolt of static electricity caused him to withdraw it.
Daniel kneeled by the stranger and spoke.
“Please don’t hurt my father.”