Xenocide, part 11
When in doubt, act like you’re in control. “Police!” I barked, aiming at the man holding Tenesha. “Let her go and put your hands on your head! You’re under arrest!”
Noble picked up on that. “Drop your weapon!”
I heard a man laugh from Tenesha’s direction, then Jobst’s voice: “You did this, you moron. We tried to do you a favor, and you blow our cover? Nice.”
“I don’t consider sending an innocent kid to prison doing me a favor.”
“Why? He’s just a pothead punk. If we don’t do it, you’ll have to bust him later on. And who knows who he’d hurt along the way?”
“I don’t know how you do things in spook-land, but this is America,” I said. “And the CIA isn’t authorized to operate on American soil, so you’re way out of your jurisdiction. You hurt her, the only way you’ll see Quantico again is feet-first.”
“You don’t have a clue what you’re dealing with here,” said Jobst, sounding strained as Tenesha continued to struggle. “The victim’s — people — have been in touch. They want justice.”
“You know as well as I do that Danny Freeman did the shooting,” I said. “Justice isn’t justice if you ignore the perp and just yank an innocent citizen off the street. Give them Freeman —”
“No!” the other man yelled.
“— and they get justice. Give them anyone else, and it’s just random vengeance.” I glanced at the other man. “I know it’s your father, but you can’t protect him by sacrificing a kid!”
“Leave him out of this!” Freeman Jr. yelled, turning his gun my way.
Noble saw an opportunity, and took the shot. Freeman went down, bellowing, clutching his shoulder.
Jobst took a shot at me from can’t-miss range — thank God Tenesha’s thrashing threw his aim off. His bullet hit the trunk of the patrol car and zinged past me, making me flinch back before I could return fire. With a frustrated cry, Tenesha broke free but she fell at his feet. He glared at me, took aim at her —
Then something flew out of the dark and smacked Jobst in the side of his head, making a hollow wet thwop. Jobst grunted and staggered, gun-hand flailing, and I took him down.
“Tenesha? You okay?” I called.
“Yeah.” She got to her feet. “What about you?”
“Fine, thanks to you. You think you can keep these assholes alive until the ambulance gets here?”
“If I have to.” She gave Jobst a murderous glance. Noble was already cuffing and searching Freeman Jr. “What happened just now? One second I thought I’d had it; the next, he took one upside the head! Who —”
“The Headless Horseman,” a voice called from the darkness. A familiar, youthful voice. I got the flashlight from Noble’s car and shone it on Jobst. Nearby, a pumpkin — the little ones used for Hallowe’en decorations — lay half-smashed, some of its guts spread over Jobst’s head and suit. I shone the light toward the voice, but Jacob Moss had already disappeared into the dark. I shrugged and secured Jobst.
Freeman and Jobst lived, but they might have preferred otherwise. After a hurried discussion with the sheriff and Doc Dix, we called in a news crew from downtown and gave them the whole story, just in time to make the 11 o’clock news. As Sheriff Carmichael put it, “we just turn on the lights and watch the roaches scatter.” We didn’t feel like we had a choice, though — letting Jobst and Freeman go quietly into the night (Sarah Plant was long gone) would have left us with no guarantees that they wouldn’t just grab some other innocent, here or elsewhere.
Politics and news sensations being what they are, we didn’t get much of a break for a while. We charged the perps with conspiracy, credit card fraud, assault, and attempting to pervert the course of justice — not that it mattered, they disappeared from the hospital and were never seen again. Our worthless Congressman vowed to launch an investigation into the matter, but never did. Being on the Intelligence Committee, it’s likely he knew what was happening all along. The sheriff did his time in front of the cameras, looking pleased with a job well-done. He had two years left in his term, but people would remember this. I’d have been surprised if anyone tried to unseat him. With proof positive that we weren’t alone in the universe, people started acting a little different toward each other. A little better.
As for Tenesha and me, the spotlight turned away from us after a few days and we finally got an evening uninterrupted. I won’t go into details, but it went well and we’re still together. We don’t think of ourselves as an interracial couple — because after you’ve seen an alien up close, those kind of differences just aren’t important.
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