Chapter 8

After Calvin separated from the group, he made sure no one was looking his way before exiting one of the side doors.

“Took you long enough,” Wallace said when Calvin arrived at their meeting place.

Calvin couldn’t hide his surprise from Wallace.

“I live here, remember?”

That was Wallace’s answer to Calvin–without him even asking.

“Let’s get this done and over with before anyone realizes we’re missing,” Calvin said, sounding anxious on purpose.

“Wait,” Wallace said.

Calvin felt a sense of uneasiness washed over him. Was Wallace changing his mind? “What?”

“Can’t hurt to check again.”

“No one’s crazy enough to be out here at this time of the night,” Calvin reasoned.

They were actually meeting up at that humongous, gaudy building that the no citizen in town cared to visit. Or more like no one cared to look at it even once. It was the same building that Joyce was trapped and killed in. Calvin had picked it on purpose. It was out of the way of town so Wallace wouldn’t be suspicious of his actual motive. Then there were various hiding places that could aid his chance of staying alive if he were to fail.

“What’s with you and Angela?” Wallace asked when they were done checking the place one more time.

Calvin had on a puzzled look. “What?”

Wallace was still glaring at Calvin, like he wouldn’t let the issue go if Calvin didn’t answer. “You and Angela.”

That was also when Calvin realized the seriousness of the situation. It wasn’t like he was scared of Wallace. Yet he finally understood why Wallace was so interested in helping Angela and was unusually friendly toward her. It wasn’t because he was a businessman like he claimed. It was only partially so. The real reason was because he liked Angela.

“Well?” Wallace persisted, still waiting for Calvin to answer. It was like they were there for a confrontation, not some business transaction like they’d initially planned.

Calvin knew he had to answer or all bets were off. He could see it from Wallace’s attitude. So he shrugged, exuding the look that said he couldn’t care less. “Hey, she kept pestering me about my occupation–among other things. I couldn’t stall anymore so I went for the obvious that might work. While she’s unsuspecting, I could get this over with and be out of here after tonight. What’s the big deal anyway? Don’t tell me you like her.”

Wallace wasn’t the least bit amused but relaxed. “I just don’t want you to get all careless like someone I used to know, kept focusing on pleasing the girl and then eventually causing us even more trouble than there should be.”

Calvin knew Wallace was talking about Nic and Joyce. But he pretended not to care, like before. He shrugged. “Whatever. Are we doing this or just wasting time until the festival’s over and the citizens are coming back and could possibly see the light coming out from here and you know what would happen.”

“Relax, the festival’s not over until around midnight. They extended the hour this time to make up for the past two years.”

“Can’t be too careful.”

“Fine,” Wallace said. “Let’s do this.”

Calvin did an internal sigh as Wallace walked toward a corner of the building.

“Here,” Wallace said, opening a chest hidden somewhere that Calvin had missed when he did the check earlier.

Calvin walked over to where Wallace was and took a look into the chest. “Doesn’t look too promising.”

Wallace scoffed. “You’re more outrageous than half of my customers.”

“I’m calling it as I see it. What’s the difference between these guns and the regular ones?”

“Allow me.”

After saying that, Wallace took out a gun from the chest and undid the safety. Wallace gestured for Calvin to step back before he pulled the trigger. He had aimed at a metallic box across the room. A loud explosion was heard seconds later, along with smokes. The box was nothing other than some dust particles. But what was disturbing about the whole matter was that they heard a sound like a scream breaking through the atmosphere seconds after the gun was fired.

“Whoa!” Calvin exclaimed, both surprised and trying to cover the sound he heard.

“Any doubts?” Wallace asked, turning to Calvin.

“How about another one?”

“Don’t trust me?”

“Wouldn’t hurt to try another one.”

Wallace had on his amused smile again. “Fair enough.” He returned that gun to its spot in the chest before reaching for another one. But he didn’t continue his demonstration. He started walking toward another area of the building. “But first, let me take care of something.”

“What?” Calvin asked, feeling unease.

Wallace didn’t say anything. He continued to make his way toward a stack of circular metallic storage bins. Some commotion was heard seconds later.

“Come out!” Wallace yelled, his voice sending echoes all around the building.

Calvin knew he had to make a move so he hurried toward the area. Yet he was too late. What he saw next was Will and Sandrine walking out from behind the stacks of storage bins.

“What in the world are you two doing here?” Calvin shouted, having arrived at where the other three were already.

“We should be asking you that question,” Will returned. “I can’t believe you two are…”

“Well, I guess you leave us no choice,” Wallace said, his weapon at a ready.

“What are you going to do?” Calvin asked, faking alarmed–because he obviously knew what Wallace wanted to do.

Wallace had on his amused look again. “Are you seriously that dumb? We’re not going to leave any witnesses tonight.”

“It doesn’t have to be that way,” Calvin argued.

“What do you suggest? Let them loose so they could run to city patrols?”

“That Claudia girl already took the fall for the past murders. If you kill them too, they would let her go and go after you.”

“They wouldn’t know.”

Calvin could see that timid look on Sandrine’s face. She was hidden behind Will at this point. And it seemed like Wallace wasn’t backing down soon.

“They will know,” A new voice said then.

That was when all four of them turned to see Angela with a gun in her hand, standing by the front door. She was aiming the gun at Wallace particularly.

“Let them go,” Angela warned.

“You’re making a big mistake,” Wallace said–although he’d recognized the gun in Angela’s hand. It was the same gun he’d fired earlier.

“Am I?” Angela asked, her hand not wavering at all.

Will and Sandrine took that chance to run toward Angela’s side. Calvin and Wallace were on their own now. No hostages to negotiate their way out of this one. Yet Wallace wasn’t so easily defeated. He was still smiling. Because his next move was turning his gun toward Calvin.

“How about your boyfriend then?” Wallace challenged. “Wouldn’t want to lose him so soon, would you?”

“Why should I care?” Angela returned, not showing an ounce of worry. “You heard him. I was just an excuse until he could finish this business transaction of his with you.”

Wallace’s confidence wasn’t deteriorating. “Is that so? Let’s fire that gun in your hand then.”

If Angela was worried, she didn’t show it. Because there was no hesitation in her action. She didn’t care to play the taunting game with Wallace anymore. She undid the safety of the gun and was ready to fire. Even Will and Sandrine were shocked by her determination. Even though they were threatened by Wallace not long ago, but they didn’t think of offing Wallace for that. But before Angela could fire the gun in her hand, a stream of uniformed officials stormed into the place and surrounded them all.

“Nobody moves,” One of the officials spoke up.

Sandrine couldn’t help but let out a gasp at that time. Although they were told not to move, she had turned to look at Will, her anxiety increasing. Will had reached a hand over and placed it on her shoulder.

“Wallace, drop the gun,” The official who spoke earlier ordered. “You too, Angela.”

“What is this?” Wallace asked, turning to the official. “I’m innocent. They were trying to kill me so I had to defend myself.”

“Nice try, Wallace. We were here since the beginning and we got everything on tape already.”

“So you heard about our deal,” Wallace said, knowing it was useless to keep playing the innocence card. “We’ll probably go away for several years top.”

“Try again,” Calvin spoke up then. “You also have conspiracy charges that will take more than your businessman’s persuasion skills to convince us.”

That was when Wallace turned to Calvin. He had already lowered his weapon and tossed it on the ground since he admitted to his weapon dealings. The expression on his face was now shocked. Real shock, not the pretentious act he had been putting on to con the world. “You?”

Calvin nodded, his victory smile on. “Never saw it coming, did you?”

“How in the world did you know about the contact method to leave the message in my apartment then?”

Calvin smiled. “Tony sold you out.”

That was when Wallace stopped his questions. He allowed himself to be escorted by the officials out of the building. His silence didn’t mean he was giving up though. Because just when Angela, Will, and Sandrine walked over to where Calvin was standing, they heard some commotion outside. The four of them exchanged a quick look before rushing out to check.

“Back away!”

It was Wallace. He had managed to overtake the official who was leading him out. That official had probably underestimated Wallace hence the turn of events. The others were streaming out of the building to surround Wallace again yet he was faster. He managed to dodge out of the way and use the official he captured as a shield. So that was when the others didn’t dare to shoot anymore. And Wallace ended up using that to his advantage. He started to shoot back at them as he backed away from the building. On the other hand, Calvin had to push Angela behind him, trying to shield her from the flying bullets while Will did the same to Sandrine. It wasn’t long before they heard a scream. It was from Sandrine. When Calvin and Angela turned to check, they saw Will bleeding. He had been hit by a bullet but only on his right hand, not anywhere near a fatal area.

“Just shoot through me!” The official who was captured by Wallace yelled out.

Wallace was almost by the bridge now. It was the bridge separating that humongous building from the rest of civilization. What was even more dangerous at this point was the presence of some of the citizens. They were quite a distance away but visible to the parties present. If they were closer, they were fair game for Wallace. That was why the official who was held hostage wanted to reduce the chance of more casualties.

“Wallace, you’re not going anywhere!” Calvin yelled out, stepping forward to do the negotiation. “Give up.”

“The way I see it, I’m doing just fine here.”

“Would you want the death of an official on your hands?”

“What do I have to lose at this point?”

“If you kill him, you’re going to be executed immediately. Do you want to take that gamble?”

Wallace was on the bridge at this point. He took a quick glance behind him before urging his hostage ahead. “Don’t you dare get on the bridge!”

Calvin already knew how capable Wallace was. He didn’t want to gamble the hostage’s safety. He stopped at the edge of the bridge to wait, trying to think of another alternative. However, that was when Wallace made a move. He had increased his pace to get off the bridge on the other side, still holding the hostage in front of him as a shield. Yet before they know it, Wallace shoved the man into the crowd and grabbed onto someone else. Screams were heard and the crowd finally scattered apart, trying to get away for their own sakes.

“How about now?” Wallace asked, looking at Calvin again.

“Let Debra go,” Calvin said, trying to stay calm. “She’s innocent.”

“Do you think I care about this blabbermouth?” Wallace returned, increasing his pressure on Debra’s shoulder.

Yes, his new hostage was Debra. The others weren’t sure why she was there. Possibly she wanted to go visit one of the neighbors after the festival? Or a sleepover at a friend’s house? They didn’t have time to think about that.

“Wallace, what’s going on?” Debra asked, finally speaking up. “What are they doing to you? I could help you explain.”

“Shut up!” Wallace bellowed, hitting Debra on the side of her head.

Angela, Will, and Sandrine were huddled together on the other side of the bridge–and behind the line of officials at this point, so they were at a safe distance. Yet when they saw how Debra had become the hostage, their anxiousness increased even more. Although Debra was a busybody at times and had exuded her hostility against Angela since Angela interacted more with Wallace–not caring about Debra’s jealous antics anymore, but Debra was still an innocent bystander at this moment. They wouldn’t want anything to happen to her.

“Stop!” Calvin yelled out, stepping onto the bridge.

“I told you not to come closer,” Wallace said. “Or do you want to be responsible for her death?”

“If you kill her, you’ll be put on trial here. If you let her go, you could have your trial on Earth. That means you’re just facing life imprisonment versus a death sentence here.”

Wallace looked like he was considering his options, but he hadn’t released Debra yet.

“Your choice.”

Wallace finally let go of Debra but shoved her toward the bridge. He tossed his gun aside and raised his hands up in surrender. The officials were as stunned by Wallace’s sudden move. It wasn’t like they didn’t want to wrap things up in a peaceful manner, but Wallace had tried to get away at every chance. Yet now?

“Go,” The leader of the officials commanded at that time.

The others finally rushed across the bridge to secure Wallace and cuffed him. Calvin had already caught onto Debra and stepped out of the way for the officials to proceed with their duty. That was also when Angela, Will, and Sandrine walked over to the two of them. Angela had torn a piece of her dress up to wrap around Will’s arm for the moment. As for Sandrine, she was still shaken up yet managed to follow them as they checked on Debra. Debra, still stunned of what was going on, allowed herself to be led out of there by Angela. They were all heading back to the special headquarter at that point. Well, some of them had to stay behind to process the scene and reassure the local citizens. It indeed was another interesting night for them, especially how it was during the traditional festival as well.

*****

“What in the world is going on here?” Will asked after he and Debra had been checked out by a physician already.

They were actually in a conference room and the officials weren’t present yet. They had to take care of some other crucial matters, such as making sure Wallace was secured in confinement. They were also processing the papers so that Calvin could transport Wallace to Earth for the upcoming trial.

“Calvin is actually from UPC,” Angela said as they settled down around the meeting table.

“Universal Peace Corporation?” Will blurted out in disbelief. “The UPC that was established by the leaders of this whole universe to maintain peace among all planets?”

Angela nodded. Even Sandrine was in disbelief as she turned to stare at Calvin.

“You have to tell us everything,” Will said a minute later.

Angela turned to Calvin then, pondering if it was all right. Calvin nodded, knowing it was about time. He and Angela took turns telling the others what had been going on, his missions and how Angela found out and the events leading to the night’s outcome.

“Whoa,” Will said after they were done with their recounts. He was obviously still in disbelief by the story.

“Why were you two there?” Calvin asked, looking at Will and Sandrine.

“We followed Angela,” Sandrine answered, looking over at Angela.

Calvin turned to look at Angela at that point.

“I was worried,” Angela said.

“She said she had to use the restroom but I saw her heading out to the side door so we got worried,” Will explained.

“Sorry we caused so much trouble for you,” Sandrine said, her expression apologetic enough. “I meant, I didn’t mean to yell out when I did. It was just that…”

Calvin shook his head. “It’s okay. I know you two care for Angela.”

“So, does that mean you and Angela are just posing as a couple to fool Wallace?” Will asked, referring to what Calvin told Wallace earlier.

“I told Wallace I lied to Angela and you two, but that was a lie,” Calvin said.

“Does that mean…” Sandrine said timidly, looking from Calvin to Angela and back.

Calvin smiled then, taking Angela’s hand into his. “That means we’re for real. And I’ll be back once I take care of things back on Earth.”

Will and Sandrine looked more than happy then, knowing their friend didn’t get taken advantage of just for the sake of some background story.

“You better be back,” Will said, as if that was a warning.

“I definitely will be,” Calvin promised.

© Sunday, May 10th, 2015

Posted: Monday, June 1st, 2015

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