April heard the screams ahead and knew where Mike was headed. He reached the little bridge over the lake bed where water was no more, reaching it just as Peachy's barking rose to a delirious pitch. In a burst of energy she didn't know she had, she followed Mike across the bridge. Woody unholstered his gun.
"Put that away," she barked. There was too much confusion in the sounds she heard, and she was terrified that Woody might get too excited and shoot in error, hitting Mike or John, the victim, or even herself.
Rain slated down on her face and neck, blinding her. She lost Mike and couldn't see what was going on ahead. She stepped off the bridge and the muddy path gave way. She tumbled down the bank, twisting her ankle as she landed hard on the stony riverbed.
"You okay?" Woody got to her and felt for her arm, his gun still in his hand.
"Yeah, fine. Help me up," she said impatiently. Woody yanked her to her feet before she had a chance to say, gently. His gun was pointed at her knee. "Holster your gun!" she commanded angrily. She couldn't get more specific than that. The man was a menace, but he holstered the gun.
Through a dense thicket they heard chaotic screams and shouts. Peachy was yelping like crazy, a hero in her finest hour. Mike was trying to take command. She heard it before she saw it.
"Help! Help us, please!"
"Police. Drop that. Put your hands up."
"Put your hands up. Oh my God!"
"Good girl, Peachy. Good girl."
Then a miracle occurred. The rain ended as suddenly as it had begun, clearing the air almost instantly. April ignored the shooting pain in her foot as she pushed through the dripping bushes. Quickly Mike had holstered his own gun. Now his flashlight illuminated a scene none of them would ever forget. Three people in a cave so small no one else could get in. And blood was everywhere.
Most prominent in the scene was the dog barking triumphantly, for she'd found what she'd been looking for and won the prize. The long-sought smell of David's sweat was now combined with his blood, and the delighted dog was hanging on him, trying to kiss him and lick his seeping wound.
April was on her radio calling for backup and three EMS vehicles. Staying calm and speaking as tersely as she could, she described the critical nature of the situation and gave their location before she went in to help. She had no clear idea of the extent of the carnage. In all the mud and gore, she could not at first tell what had happened in there. When she signed off, hung the radio on her belt, and moved closer, she had a view into unfathomable horror.
The face of the missing jogger was unrecognizable, filthy and awash with blood. It poured out of a gash in his forehead and from his nose. A girl April couldn't immediately identify lay on the ground with her skirt pulled up around her hips. Her face, too, was bloody and her features indiscernible. Her nose looked broken and ragged bone could be seen sticking out of her ankle. Was this Brandy? Dylan Rodriguez? She couldn't tell.
And last, the boy, David, was bent over, holding his neck with one hand. The other brandished what looked like a bloody poker. Blood gushed out of his neck, and he was the one who was screaming.
Peachy had him pinned against some structure that looked like a gate. She had no idea of restraining him. She was greeting him, slobbering on him, and humping him with all the joy of a long-lost friend while David shrieked his head off, "I'm hurt, I'm hurt. He stabbed me." He sounded like a lost little boy.
John took command of the dog, thanked her lavishly, and moved her out of the way. Then he heeled Peachy and took off for the cars to set up his flares and continue talking on the radio through Central to lead the medical teams in to the closest access.
"April, we need your help in here," Mike said.
April responded quickly. Now was the dilemma of which injured person to attend to first-the perpetrator or the victims. Once long ago, when April was a rookie, she and her partner were the first on the scene of a jewelry store robbery gone bad. The perp had shot the owner in the neck. Her partner ran after the perp and April crouched on the floor with a hand clamped over the victim's wound, talking to him for five interminable minutes until EMS arrived.
Together April and Mike moved David out of the cave, laid him down. Mike put his jacket under the boy's head and clamped his wound. April went in for the girl. She, too, took off her jacket. Underneath was a cardigan and a shirt. She ripped them both off to cover the sobbing girl. April was stripped down to her bra and talking softly to soothe the girl, when she realized it was Dylan. She took Dylan's hand and squeezed it.
"It's April Woo. Hold on there, you're going to be okay. I'm with you, just hold on." April kept talking. "Your mom's waiting for you. Just a few more minutes. Dylan, can you hear me? We're going to get you out of here."
"Don't move her, don't move her," Maslow cried.
"I'm not moving her. How are you doing?" April held Dylan's hand but turned her attention on him.
"Don't worry about me. I'm fine." The voice sounded strong.
"Good, take my jacket. I've got her." April handed him her jacket.
"Woody, take Dr. Atkins out. Hurry."
For once Woody had his brains screwed in. Despite Maslow's protests, he half-carried him out of the cave.
Turned out, the three officers and the dog tracker worked perfectly together, so well, in fact, that before EMS arrived, Woody had covered his boss with his own shirt and given his jacket to Dylan. They were all on a high, having done what they set out to do, and saved three lives in the process.
Back on Park Avenue, Brandy Fabman missed the storm. Long before ten, she'd slipped back into her building unnoticed by the two officers on a three-minute coffee break from watching her building. She was at home in bed, dreaming of the money she would make when her story was sold to the movies and of the skimpy dress she would wear on her TV appearances.
At two in the morning, when David Owen and Dylan Rodriguez were both in operating rooms having emergency surgery, Cheryl Fabman got her wish to be reunited with her ex-husband. She and Seymour stayed all night together in a police station where they waited for a lawyer to come and deal with the kidnap, assault, and attempted murder charges against their daughter.