One Hundred Twenty One

Yeah, I know wrong, I know right
But I just love to pick a fight
I can sleep with one eye open
If there's any sleep at night
I got my knife, got my gun
Let's see how fast you can run
Air Traffic Controller, This is Love

Our troops appear, dismount their Enormity and get in ours.
CC, ‘Anything new?’
‘Four men, including the one they call the boss. We don’t know about the layout, the grounds are helpful, fair amount of trees, shrubs up against the house. A pool in back, decent size too. We haven’t crept around to see more, I’d like a look at the rear door. The windows are barred as you see, blinds behind and they’ve been closed. Might get a better sense from the rear.’
Zoe, ‘I’ll go with Morshchiny, give me a phone, I’ll take a video.’
I look at Zero, she says, ‘She wants in, and we’re watching. Zoe, use the Bluetooth for the phone, if we need to call, there won’t be any ringtone anyone else can hear. If you need to talk to us, use text.’
Zoe gets out, the mastiff right with her. She goes deeper into the woods and disappears. It’s still daylight, we’ve been here maybe four hours total.
CC, ‘We took a quick tour of the city, easy, it’s almost nothing. We parked the car in the library lot next to the police station. There are now four cop cars with GPS trackers attached. It seems like one patrols, the others sit around. Apparently they can’t or don’t want to take the patrol cars home, two cops showed in personal cars, parked in back, came out ten minutes later and both got in patrol cars. The other two were there when we left. We tracked the movements, one left the station and got into one of the remaining patrol cars, stopped on the highway. About a half hour later it moved, then stopped a couple hundred yards down, sat for a bit, then returned to the original spot.’
‘Speed trap, the other car?’
‘The remaining cop used it, got as far as a diner less than a mile from the station. Half hour later it was roaming randomly as best we could tell. No stops, moving slow.’
‘Letting the locals know the cops are around, anxious to protect and serve.’
The phone lights up, then a text with photos.
‘Good, patio is common sliding door, blinds pulled back, see, a living area, back of a head, flat screen on, looks like Fox anti-news, an alternate universe where truth is whatever babble spews from talking heads.’
More photos, the hulk of the Jamaican handing the seated guy something in a glass. Then one from a different angle, two men on stools with coffee cups at a kitchen island.
Then a photo of an upstairs room, blinds open, a little girl at the window. She can’t escape from there, even if the windows weren’t barred, there’s nothing from the window to the concrete.
‘Tell Zoe to come in.’
Zoe and her beast show up five minutes later.
‘Super work Zoe, you found out where the girls are.’
‘Where’s the twins?’
‘Tracking a van with four girls and two men, a Russian and a driver. Russian never said jack, they came with three new girls, rested a couple of hours, left with four different ones.’
‘Twins rented another car then.’
‘Yes, mid-size sedan nobody would give a second glance. They’ll follow to the drop off, or drop offs, we don’t know if they’re delivering to one place or more.’
‘Good, the sisters will kill everyone.’
‘They want Driver alive long enough to answer questions, they took a few of the drugs, but Natasha could get answers with just her death stare, particularly while Nikita has a blade pointed at his eyeball.’
‘What now?’
‘Now we get the girls.’
Zero, ‘Gate’s locked up.’
‘I’ll take care of that, take about ten seconds to crack that padlock.’
Then a plain sedan shows up, a man, either Malcolm or Jason comes out and opens the gate. He’s armed. I call him Whitey One, a local cop.
‘Take note girls, they carry.’
Whitey One opens the lock, then the gate, walks alongside the car to the house, leaves the gate open, thank you Whitey.
CC, ‘I have a plan. Fin, your Glock ready?’
She pulls the slide, chambers a round, ‘Is now.’
‘Slide the holster behind your back, get your Jesus smile on.’
‘Before you knock, Zoe and Morshchiny will be to one side, Zero and I are going left and right, then to the rear when we hear the action start. If the patio door is locked, it’s easy enough to open with a few rounds.’
In a minute, we’re in place, CC knocks on the front door.
Whitey answers, ‘Who are you? What do you want here?’
CC, ‘We’re Jehovah’s Weirdoes, are you hiding our Lord and Savior in here? She resembles an eight year old girl.’
Then the refreshing sound of suppressed Glocks, Zero and I race to the rear, we peer around our respective corners, then slide along to the patio door. More pops, like opening Champagne, the girls are opening minds, literally.
We face the door, nobody looking in our direction, as far as they know the threat is in front. I see Fin, then I see the big bastard heading for her, she caps him but it’s like she shot him with a bb. He’s reaching for her throat when Morshchiny leaps. 
Where his neck was is now empty space, head rolls left, body falls backwards, blood everywhere.
Whitey One, Jason, and Malcolm are no more, the black man is two, a headless torso and a torso-less head.
That leaves the boss, Head Trafficker. He gets to live, for a while.
HT is calm for a man with four deadlies pointed at him, ‘Well, you aren’t the FBI.’
Zero, ‘Perceptive,’ she sticks a needle in his neck.
She dosed him with a cocktail of Ketamine with Pentothal back, no ice, shaken, not stirred.
‘I didn’t give him a sleeper, if I guessed right, he gets groggy, like drunk. Zoe, stay with me while I grill him, CC, Fin, collect the girls and get them gone, take one of Trafficker’s cars, not the cop’s. I’ll be a while, at least an hour.’
CC, ‘Take them where?’
‘Make a room reservation, a motel on the interstate, place where you can go from car to room without going through a lobby. Fin can sit with the kids while you check in. If they’re hungry, get a fastie someplace.’
Fin, ‘Listen for other cars, the cop likely came to rape one of the new arrivals, the others may show up for a turn.’
‘Got it, come on Fin, let’s do the rescue. We’ll bring the girls through to the kitchen and out the garage door. The front entrance is kind of bloody.’
‘Good, give us a minute, we’ll lay Trafficker long ways and cover him with a blanket. As far as the girls know, he’s asleep. We’ll hang out in back until you have them in the car.’
Five minutes later, three shivering little girls are in Trafficker’s Hyundai Commoner. 
Zero and Zoe are righting Trafficker, I take Morshchiny out and hose the blood from her jowls, let her have a long drink, then back inside to prowl the premises while the two girls dig in Trafficker’s brain.
He’s smart, credit that, there’s a laptop, no pictures of girls, no video of anyone abusing or raping. Email is mundane, unless his contacts are using the Penis Enlargement link to communicate in cock code. Or maybe secret code in the Cheaper Auto Insurance spam.
Makes me wonder, since all cars are required to have insurance, at the least liability, why not have universal car insurance? Suck money out of paychecks or bank accounts, one size fits all. The bulk of insurance cost is liability anyway, regardless of make and model. Rates would be better, no middleman making a profit, no cumbersome state insurance departments with different rates and requirements. Have an accident, get it fixed, no additional charge, no deductible. 
One problem solved, I keep searching rooms, the master bedroom is tidy, like the living areas, well, until the girls and Morshchiny made a bit of a mess. Blood is a bitch to clean.
I return to the living room, interrogation in progress.
Zero is asking about other traffickers, chain of command, there isn’t one, Trafficker is not otherwise connected, he sources his product via Driver and the Russian, we never sort out which is Jason and which is Malcolm, the black guy remains nameless.

One Hundred Twenty Two

When in doubt, kill everyone.
The Psychopath Code

Zero’s final question is about the police participants. Trafficker is too dazed to lie, yes, the entire force of six is in on it. We have the whole story memorialized on Trafficker’s laptop.
Zero’s done, Zoe does the honors and Glocks a hole in Trafficker’s forehead.
CC calls, ‘We’re at the Spider Monkey Motel, sleeping in trees optional, bunch of bananas for an additional charge.’
‘The girls?’
‘Chatty, since nothing physical happened, they’re treating it like a scary adventure. Maybe they fall apart later, right now they’re wanting mommy.’
‘They know their town, street, any address?’
‘Yep, even phone numbers, well, two of them, the third is only six, but her parents own a car dealership, I found it on the internet, it’s halfway across the country. She’s actually the farthest, the other two came from towns closer, but not within four or five hundred miles, all three from different states. The boys did a lot of driving.’
‘A safety cushion, states don’t talk to each other, local cops in the same state don’t share much until it bounces to state level. Trafficker has been careful, his mistake was continuing after the one girl escaped. Greed kills.’
‘Got any idea how to get them returned? Without involving us directly.’
‘I thought about UPS, but I doubt they’d cooperate. Putting them on a bus is like giving them to pimps.’
‘The hotel is beyond the town line?’
‘Oh yeah, the interstate itself is beyond the jurisdiction, it’s even in a different county.’
‘Good. Then take them to a mall, park them in the food court and find a spot to monitor. Call the closest state police station, then call the FBI. You have a burner?’
‘Of course, Zero won’t let us leave the house without one.’
‘Okay. Twins are still on the road, they will have a similar situation, similar but worse, they have to deal with girls that were raped.’
‘What about the rest?’
She means the other local cops.
‘All six were involved.’
‘Then we’ll get busy with the girls, Fin’s looking for a mall big enough to keep us anonymous. There will be cameras, but we’re covered, God couldn’t pick us out.’
We disconnect, now to find out where the other cops are. We need to get this done, it won’t be long before Whitey One is missed. Then it occurs that it may be the solution. Let them come to us. Even if it’s only one, we capture and repeat the drug cocktail. He’ll give up their on duty rotation, where they live. Never waste time torturing when you can coerce the information with drugs. He’ll be lucky, the twins would torture the information out of him even if it took longer.
‘Zero, rather than chase around the locals, we wait here, one or more is bound to show up.’
‘What if they all show up?’
‘Shooting gallery, do we have the Ruger, or did the twins go off with it?’
‘No, it’s in the car.’
‘Good, I’ll get it, I can park in the garage and shut the door. Then I find a spot to play sniper.’
Unlock the gate, fetch the Enormity and drive just past the gate. I pull the chain around the gate. leave the lock dangling open from one of the links, drive to the garage. Get the Precision and ammo, shut the garage door, go inside. 
‘Second floor will work. I can crack the blinds, lights will be off, they won’t see jack. If it’s just one, take him, I’ll hold my spot in case others appear.’
I go up, raise the window enough to get a clear view of the gate, shove a dresser under the window, it will be my support. I sight in the rifle, from here it isn’t fifty yards to the gate, I hope the weapon isn’t insulted, used for such a short distance.
Now wait.
Zero, ‘Two patrol cars returned to the station, if they plan on coming, it’s in a personal car.’
An hour, then near two, a pickup truck shows at the gate, two men, passenger gets out, takes off the chain. If he’s got any suspicions about the unlocked lock, he doesn’t show it. Maybe it’s not locked if Trafficker is expecting company.
The truck pulls in, both men get out. I take a chance and go to the bottom of the staircase, something goes wrong, I can intervene. I slide a round into the chamber.
I can see the door, take a couple steps and flatten myself against the front wall. 
Knock.
Zero opens the door. We dragged the bodies to the side, the carpet is soaked, but they aren’t looking for a fresh crime scene, they’re looking to commit a crime.
Zero steps back, door’s open but she’s behind it, first guy in, Zero puts the Glock alongside his head.
‘Come in quietly or die here, doesn’t matter to me.’
The second guy bolts.
Zoe gives the command to seize, capture, zakhvatit'. Morshchiny leaps past the first one, has the runner by the leg, he falls face down on the gravel drive, Morshchiny has two massive paws on his back, her snout at his ear, growling.
Zoe goes out, points the Glock so he can see it.
‘Get up slowly, hands where I can see them or the dog turns your face into dinner.’
He does as he’s told.
Zoe spots his service weapon, takes it from the waist holster.
‘Raise your pant legs,’ he does, damned if he doesn’t have a throw down strapped to his ankle.
She stoops to retrieve it, Stupid Man reaches for her, Morshchiny snaps his forearm. Cop screeches.
Zoe, ‘Tried to tell you, get inside before she takes your good arm.’
While Zero holds her Glock steady on First One, I take his pistol, check the ankles, no gun. Pat him down, nothing but wallet, keys, and a badge in his shirt pocket.
First One realizes there are bodies, Stupid Man is bleeding and less observant. I hustle them to the living room, Trafficker is still in his state of dead, no sign that’s going to change anytime soon. Where’s Jesus when you need him?
Stupid, ‘I need to get my arm bandaged before I fucking bleed out.’
Zero, ‘You aren’t going to die from that, you’ll die from this,’ she sticks the Glock in his ear and pulls the trigger.
Stupid doesn’t make the couch, he falls sideways onto a glass coffee table. He was already a mess, now he’s a bigger mess.
First One, ‘Jesus Christ, you’re what, fucking twelve? You have no idea how much…’
She smacks him hard on the jaw with the butt of the Glock, he falls onto the couch next to Dead Trafficker. Sits up trying to distance himself.
‘I have a clear idea of how much trouble you’re in.’
I hold his attention with my barrel between his eyes, Zero goes around the couch and injects him with the same bit she gave Trafficker.
Wait while he gets reasonably coherent, Zoe takes over. He’s in no condition to resist, she asks, he answers. I run the camera, when he’s empty, Zero touches the Glock to his neck and terminates his nasty ass.
Zoe looks around, ‘We could start a funeral home,’ she gives Morshchiny a hug, ‘good job girl.’
I take her out for a second wash and another drink.
‘The local police department is down to three officers.’
Zero, ‘And now we know where to look for them.’
Zoe, ‘Who does what?’
‘Wait here until we hear for the others, CC and Fin anyway, the twins could be out for a while. And they have traumatized little girls to deal with after finishing with Driver and the Russian. Knowing the twins, they’ll follow until they arrive at wherever they’re taking the girls. Then they kill that guy, or guys, one of them is called Chollo.’
Zero, ‘They won’t do it that way. They kill one, make the other talk, find out where they are going. That way they can arrange for the girls to be found, then go after the end user. Nikita will contact us, just not until she has something useful to say.’
Zoe, ‘Gloves are getting hot.’
‘Take them off, mine are too, just don’t touch anything, or if you do swipe it with something. Collect the empty cartridges.’
We de-glove, feels better.
‘I’m going to get us fingertip pads. They’re clear or skin toned, stick them on, when we’re done pull them off and toss. I’ll also try the little protectors, rubber you roll over your finger about halfway to the knuckle, like a finger condom. The advantage to those is nothing gets under the nails, like blood.’
Zero, ‘Better, I’ll order some when we get home. Or maybe we can hit a drugstore, they must carry them. In a pinch we could use adhesive tape or band-aids, not the bandage part, the sticky part. It would cover well enough.’
‘Good idea, try everything, I won’t mind losing the latex gloves. We can keep them around if we need to sort through garbage.’

One Hundred Twenty Three

The highest truth is one and the same with the absurd
Spirit of the Depths, Carl Jung, Liber Novus

CC calls, ‘Girls are safe, anonymous 911, state cops showed ten minutes later, we left. I’m sure we made the mall video collection, we’re changing wigs, outfits and glasses, where do you want us?’
‘Take a pass through town, you’re looking for patrol cars. The cops who showed up here are obviously off duty, they came in personal cars. Three down, three to go, Trafficker and his buddies are terminal.’
‘You’ve been busy.’
 ‘We’ll update later. If you get a clean shot, take it.’
‘You think they come looking for the others? Where you are I mean.’
‘I don’t know, one of them may be bright enough to figure out three cops who don’t respond to calls is trouble. If they come here, they’ll do it quietly, not just drive up. Now that I think of it, we need a couple of us in the woods alongside the road. Any car would be coming here, there’s no other place to go.’
‘Got it, we’ll be along shortly. I’ll find a spot to hide the car, Fin and I will watch the road, I’ll text you a perv alert.’
‘Be attentive, these guys are armed, the ones that came here were off duty, still had their guns.’
‘Will do.’
A half hour of nothing, then a text, ‘In place, road clear.’
Zero replies with a thumbs up emoji.
Then a second text from Nikita, targets debriefed, more later.
Zero sends the same emoji in reply.
‘What do you think they did with the girls?’
‘If Driver and the Russian were questioned, it must have happened someplace besides the van, at the least they were killed someplace else, not in front of the girls. I would leave the girls in the van, call 911 and report, then hang around to make sure help arrived.’
‘Makes sense, I suppose they got the names of whoever was supposed to receive them, the end user so to speak. Maybe this Chollo is the endpoint.’
‘Natasha would get names, hard or easy. They brought drugs like the ones I used, Natasha would prefer hard, but Nikita would see the sense in drugs, less mess, inability for the targets to lie. I think that’s what they did, we’ll find out eventually.’
‘Christ, I just thought of something, the cops might come through the woods, it’s longer, but they would want to have cover to watch the house. Zoe, let’s take Morshchiny for a walk in the forest.’
We go in about forty yards, make an arc left to right. Morshchiny is curious about the scents, none of which belong to creeping cops. We return to the house.
‘Stay out here with Morshchiny, Zoe. She’ll perk up if there’s anything unusual. I’ll leave the patio door open and the screen closed. House full of blood will attract flies.’
Zoe parks on a patio chair, Morshchiny alongside, alert, ears twitch, she understands her pal is on the lookout for trouble.
Zero, ‘How long do we hang around?’
‘I don’t know when shifts change, these guys were off duty, there will be concern when they don’t show up for their shift. Maybe sooner if anyone tried to reach them on other business.’
Text from CC, car approaching
Zero replies, passengers?
driver plus one bubble light on dash
stay put one left someplace
Zero, ‘So much for trackers on the cop cars, they don’t use them to come here.’
‘We thought we might get them on patrol, and we didn’t know from personal vehicles. Are there any cop cars on the move?’
‘Good point, let me see,’ she checks the GPS, ‘three at the station, one at the speed trap.’
‘That explains that. And if I’m not mistaken we have visitors,’ I go to the screen door, ‘Zoe, come inside, we have company, no, go to the side of the house, we may need you and the dog for a sneak attack.’
Zero and I wait by the front door. Sound of tires on gravel, then nothing. I peer out the blinds. Passenger gets out, driver stays put. Passenger has a gun, holding it low alongside his leg.
‘He’s coming in, gun right hand.’
Zero, ‘I got this, go upstairs and keep the rifle company.’
She’s got a twitch, a suspicion, I go up. I can just see the driver, it’s a funky angle for a shot. I get a notion of what Zero has in mind.
No knock, then a the pop of the Glock. The driver never shut down the car, it shoots backwards towards the gate. I sight him at the wheel, with the scope it seems like I’m staring driver in the face. Slow exhale, ease the trigger, windshield shatters, driver dead. His foot still on the accelerator, the car careens left, driver slumps sideways which gets his foot off the pedal, car slows, stops. I hustle down.
Zero is standing over her kill, ‘Drag him inside, then we deal with the car.’
Zoe and Morshchiny come along, ‘That was priceless, him trying to reverse his way out, then bang. I thought for a second he was going to crash into the fence.’
‘His foot was still pressing the gas until he fell over. I’m going to drive it back here, from the gate it will look like he’s just parked.’ 
Which gives me a bit of inspiration.
I push him aside enough to drive the car closer to the house, then pull the body upright and strap him in. From the gate it appears that he’s waiting.
I go in, ‘It won’t fool anybody ten feet out, but it might make anyone coming in think it’s just a guy sitting in his car.’
Zoe looks around, ‘Bodies stacking up anyway.’
It’s true, beginning to look like a war zone in here.
Zero calls CC, ‘The only patrol car out is at the speed trap.’
CC, ‘You want us to drive over and finish it?’
‘Let me think, right now we have all the players stacked up here, and the proof of what they were doing is in a confessional video now on Trafficker’s laptop. I suppose doing him out there is okay, the six cops are all named on the video, from two sources, Trafficker and one of the cops. The girls we rescued will confirm at least Trafficker and his men. The girls who were being transported can identify any cops who raped them. Or maybe they block it out, the faces, cops weren’t in uniform as far as we know, the ones who came today were in plain clothes.’
‘When he gets to the station, there are the three patrol cars and none of his pals, I don’t think he’s going to Trafficker’s unless he’s a complete idiot.’
‘He’s going home to think it over, keep calling the others. He’s got a couple of options. Check the house, but from a distance, or do whatever he normally does after a shift, to maintain the appearance he doesn’t know anything, or he throws some clothes in a bag and splits for parts unknown.’
‘Then we should go to the station and wait for him to show up. He either goes home or uses his own car to get near enough to the house to do a bit of reconnaissance from the woods.’
‘Okay, we’re getting a useable theory. What if he’s married, or has a live-in, or kids?’
‘Then we still know where he is, we don’t kill him at home if there’s someone there. It also means he can’t just pack up and run. I think the uncertainty will gnaw at him, he’ll do the recon, then decide.’
‘Good, we go with that. Go to the station and follow him. He will either leave the cop car for his car, or decide it’s safer to keep the cop car. He can’t decide that until he sees the other three patrol cars at the station. He’ll go in to see what’s what. From there it doesn’t matter which car he takes, you’ll be following. Keep in mind, he’s going to get freaky at that point, paranoid. Keep your distance, he’ll be on high alert. It’s likely overkill but come here first and change the plate on the rental, we have lots of plates, I’ll get Commandant to get one off Trafficker’s cars.’
CC and Fin drive up long enough for me to change the plate, don’t stick around to survey the carnage, they need to get to the station and wait on number six.
It’s not dark but getting there, we’ve been here all day. I briefly think about dragging the bodies to the pool just to get them out of our faces.
Zero, ‘That’s a good idea, let’s do it, I’m tired of them too.’
Mind reader.
I scrape them along and dump them in, Trafficker, his three men, and four cops now float around the pool, a fifth is PWD, parking while dead. Maybe I‘ll write a citation, he has the right to remain silent, other rights are suspended.


One Hundred Twenty Four

Zero’s speculation is almost on point. 
CC calls, ‘Sixth goes to the station, he’s inside a while. I suppose there’s some admin help, but it’s after five, likely gone home. He changed to his pickup, drove home. There’s a second car, no sign of kids but we can see a woman inside, looks to be cooking.’
Zero, ‘Is this the part where she whines about his hours, always ‘the job’ never time for her? You know, like every cop movie ever made.’
‘I don’t hear any yelling, on the other hand she didn’t burst out of the door and jump in his loving arms either.’
‘Guess they didn’t read the script, or perhaps the woman is his mommy, or sister, be interesting to find he’s got an incest thing with sis plus child rape. A sibcest pedophile. Can you see how old the woman is, how old is the cop?’
‘Cop appears to be mid thirties, can’t see the woman. Fin, take a peek through the binoculars, can you estimate the woman’s age? Hang on Zero, she’s checking.’
Zero hears Fin say, ‘Not a day over fifteen.’
‘His kid then, thirty five, fifteen, possible.’
‘Okay, no killing there, you parked someplace secluded?’
‘No place to be secluded, it’s in a smallish neighborhood, residents must hate trees and shrubs, there’s barely grass. We’ll drive off, don’t need to know any more. There’s only one road out, we can wait near the intersection.’
Don’t have long to wait, she texts, six on move.
A call fifteen minutes later, ‘Six is heading your way, about five hundred yards from you…hang on…he’s pulled off the road, back to you in a sec.’
Three minutes, she calls again, ‘He’s done, get gone, meet you at the hotel.’
Don’t have to say it twice, we’re happy to pack it in. All we need now is word from the twins.
When we get to the Deadwood, CC and Fin are in the shower, I head straight to the one in my room. I’d add something dramatic, smell of death, copper, metallic, you know, pulp thriller stuff; screw it, let’s move on.
We connect in the living area of one suite, ‘We killed ten child rapists, a good day’s work, I want a large vodka, or do you think we should pack it and go?’
Zero, ‘We’re twenty odd miles from the pedophile pit and spent most of our time inside or in a car. Every local we talked to is dead. Besides, we need to know what the twins are doing.’
CC checks the GPS, ‘Headed this way in fact, must be finished, I’ll see,’ she taps the pad, a minute later she gets, ‘on the way, be there around ten.’
CC, ‘Look to be two hundred miles out, four hours give or take.’
‘Going to be tired puppies, take my drink later, right now I’ll fetch food, any preferences?’
‘Keep it simple, chicken from the market, simple sides or just cheese and crackers. The twins will likely get a fastie and keep driving, but get enough in case they don’t.’
Fin, ‘I’ll go with.’
We return in thirty, supermarket practically across the street, couple of roasted chickens, package of cheddar pre-cut in squares, box of mixed crackers.
Zero has my vodka rocks sitting in the freezer, girls have a glass of red.
They work on crackers and cheese while I cut up chickens and stick the pieces in a warm oven.
CC recaps, ‘When the perp exited the vehicle, cop talk, Fin approached from the front, asked if he needed help. He was clearly agitated. He said no, but considering what I guess was his state of mind, he didn’t ask why she was there at all since the road only goes to Trafficker’s place. I slipped up behind, you can surmise the rest. We left him there.’
Zero, ‘We saw the truck, figured it was him, didn’t stop. You changed the plate on your rental?’
Fin, ‘Yep, tossed the borrowed one in a dumpster on the way here, yes, CC picked up her empty cartridge, which had conveniently popped into the truck bed. We also snuck by the station and grabbed the trackers.’
‘Nobody saw you?’
‘The cars were lined up in a row alongside the building, the side away from the library. CC pulled behind the first in line, if anyone drove by all they could see is the SUV, it took twenty seconds.’
Zero checks her phone, ‘Twins are a hundred miles out, it’s eight now, ten sounds right. Zoe, anything interesting on the TV?’
She checks the scrolling menu, ‘What’s the Sarah Conner Chronicles?’
I’m the only one old enough to know, ‘Remember the Terminator movies we watched? Chronicles is a TV series about the same topic, but the machine is played by Summer Glau, who is there to protect the young John Connor, Sarah is the mother. It’s pretty good, Summer Glau is gorgeous.’
CC, ‘Never heard of her.’
‘I don’t know much about her, I saw another movie long ago called Serenity, she was the most interesting character and was underutilized in my opinion. She’s also the only really interesting character in Chronicles. Remember Game of Thrones? We watched parts of it. The woman who never changed her expression, that had an incestuous thing with her brother, she played Sarah Connor, and she had the identical expression.’
CC, ‘You mean, how can I put it, grim determination?’
‘Yes, it’s almost weird, she has one facial expression no matter the role.’
‘I’m scrolling through Google Images, except for hairstyle changes, she has the same grim expression, even when she smiles, which isn’t often, she doesn’t look happy, she looks determined, concerned.’
We laugh, Zero says, ‘She’s made a bundle over the years, maybe happiness is overrated.’
‘Happiness is most definitely overrated, Zoe is the exception, she’s always happy.’
We watch grim Sarah mommy John to death while constantly suspicious of the machine, Glau as Cameron in the series, also protecting him. I think mommy’s jealous.
Twins arrive, and in one piece.
‘Hungry?’
Nikita, ‘Da, ees vodka?’
‘Always vodka, you want to shower first?’
‘Shot, then shower, then eat.’
They’re back in ten, hair air drying, ‘Sit, I’ll get a plate fixed, it’s basic but the chicken is quite good.’
We don’t grill them while they eat, we have all day tomorrow to get any details they want to provide. We know they took care of business, got the little girls in safe hands, and they don’t have any injuries. No other details matter much.
‘I’m going to crash, Zero, make a plane reservation. I know it’s a short flight, but the twins drove all day and I’m not looking forward to a seven hundred mile drive home.’
‘Already made, we can leave the cars at the airport, someone will return them. Fly out at ten, home before noon.’
I nod, to the bedroom, brush, flush, between the sheets and gone in minutes.

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