Chapter 13

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THE SUN CREPT UP over the trees of a small park on the corner of First and Holly. Mark sipped the coffee he’d purchased from a street vendor. The air was sharp and cold but not bitter like last night. The wind had stopped, and now the sun was glinting off the snow with painful brightness.

He turned to study his captive.

Pat jerked, like he did every time his captor made a move. He hadn’t stopped shaking all night.

“Calm down. It’ll be over soon, as long as you play along.” He gripped the kid’s arm and peered into his face. “You’re lucky I don’t just kill you now. Do you have any idea how many people you murdered in that blast?”

Pat glared back, his eyes dark orbs of fury mixed with fear. “They told me it was just to scare the store owners. I didn’t know it would blow up the whole store.”

“That, I don’t believe.” Mark stabbed his finger at Pat’s disfigured face. “You knew it was a bomb! For all I know, you built it.” Pat inched toward the door. “They tried to kill me too, dude. They’re the ones who had the remote. I just activated the bomb.”

“Well, now it’s your turn to pay them back for using you.” Mark took a breath and sat back. “You help me, and I’ll let you live. You try to run or do something stupid, and I’ll take you out. You got it?”

Pat nodded and glanced at the car’s digital clock.

Mark thought about what Pat said about the remote detonator. The people who hired him had to have been close enough to see the explosion. Someone had paid this numbskull to set the bomb and activate it but intended to get rid of him at the same time, the primary source of evidence against them.

He punched the radio button. “Gas prices are on the rise again, bringing the price at the pump to an all-time high. With the dollar weakening against the Euro, analysts don’t expect it to go down any time soon—”

“Man, what a bunch of junk,” Pat muttered. “They could pull all the oil we’d ever need from Alaska or Texas and drop the prices. But, no, we’ve got to get it from overseas.” He rambled on about the government—how they were forcing the prices up, how it was a big conspiracy.

“Shut up,” Mark growled. He glared at the kid, trying to see if he had any brains. It was beyond him how he could kill hundreds of people and go on as if it didn’t matter. He could have gone to the police and turned himself in or at least tried to implicate those who hired him.

Mark stared out the window. He was planning to have Pat sit on a bench under a tall oak tree, and then he was going to stroll through the park to see if he could spot anyone or anything out of the ordinary. It was a long shot, but at the moment it was the only shot he had.

He reached into the backseat, pulled out Pat’s backpack and rifled through it.

Pat stiffened. “Hey—” One look from Mark made him turn away in silence.

Finding a wallet, Mark pulled out a driver’s license and several credit cards that would be useful in tracking the jerk, in case he decided to make a run for it.

He turned to Pat, cards in hand. “Okay, here’s the deal. I’m keeping your license and credit cards. If you run, I’ll report you to the police and give them your ID. I’ve seen a video of you setting the bomb. If you run, you’d better pray the cops find you before I do.”

“I won’t run, dude! Besides, I wouldn’t mind giving those people a little piece of my mind. They tried to kill me...” He ran his fingers over the deep scars that covered his face. “Not like I can hide with this face.”

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