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poking out of the top.
 I just killed your friends, Josie informed me.  You know, all you
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would ve had to do is chop up one lousy person in the operating room and we
would ve continued believing you were the Headhunter. How does it feel to be
so stupid?
I had nothing to say to that. I didn t know whether to believe her about
Roger and Charlotte or not.
I could see Daniel circling in front of the catapult, his lawn edger ready
for action. I picked up some pieces of broken lumber and tossed them over the
pile, hoping to hit Josie through blind luck, or else get her to waste a
bullet like I had with the scorpion. I didn t get either result.
I was going to be trapped very quickly, so I scooted out from behind the
lumber pile and back behind the catapult again. Daniel s edger was immediately
thrust toward my face, but I batted it back with my machete. With my other
hand, I began to turn the winding wheel. If I could somehow get on top of the
boulder, I might be able to catapult myself to safety. Yeah, I d probably
crash-land in a barrel of red-hot coals, but my options were limited.
Another shot splintered against the wood. There was no possible way I was
getting on top of that catapult. My only hope was that Josie was standing
right where the boulder would land. Daniel s bullet hitting the machete had
been a pretty nice miracle, and maybe I could squeeze in a second one.
I pulled the release cord. At least I hoped that s what that thing was. It
could very well be the let-the-rock-drop-on-whoever-is-underneath-it cord.
The arm of the catapult flew forward, heaving the boulder about fifteen feet
across the room, sailing well over Josie s head. It struck the top of the
Satan mirror, causing the bottom to swing forward and send the box of weapons
airborne. Lots of silver things flew through the air. Josie spun around and
was treated to a half-dozen of them smacking into her, including the circular
saw blade that took a cue from the Headhunter s decapitating scimitar.
Daniel gaped in horror as his wife dropped to the ground in three places.
He let out a wail of grief and fury. I quite honestly couldn t help but feel
a tinge of sorrow for the guy, though that in no way stopped me from rushing
out from behind the catapult and rushing at him while he stared at Josie s
remains.
I swung the machete back and forth, as fast and hard as I could. Daniel tried
to parry with the edger, but my swings came too furiously, and he continued to
steal glances at Josie. With one particularly intense blow I knocked the edger
out of his hand. He continued backing away.
This was over. Now.
He looked over his shoulder and saw that he was dangerously close to the pit.
But before he could move out of the way, I tackled him, hoping to knock him
right over the edge.
Daniel kept his footing, grabbed a handful of my hair, and yanked. Then he
drove his other fist into my throat. I tried to gasp for air, but I couldn t
breathe, and I felt Daniel spinning us, moving me closest to the pit.
I could feel my bare feet start to slip. I still couldn t breathe. Daniel
threw another punch at my throat, but I blocked it, grabbed hold of his wrist,
and squeezed tightly, trying to dig my fingernails into his skin.
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My heels slipped over the side of the pit.
I continued to struggle in vain for oxygen. My left foot dangled in mid-air.
Then, using every last bit of strength I possessed, I forced Daniel s wrist
up into the air as high as I could. Right into one of the twirling corkscrews
on the wrecking ball.
Before he could even finish his scream, I pushed myself out of the way, and
then slammed my elbow into his back.
Daniel pitched forward and fell into the pit, landing face-first in the mud.
He got up and trudged through the mud, screaming in fury. I was able to suck
in the faintest breath as I staggered toward the crane.
Daniel put his hands on the edge of the pit and began to pull himself out.
I pulled down the second lever on the crane.
The wrecking ball began to lower.
 You son of a bitch! Daniel shrieked, frantically trying to climb out in
time. But the wrecking ball lowered quickly, and within seconds Daniel had to
pull away to avoid it.
 You re dead! he screamed.  You ll never get out of here! Never!
And then the wrecking ball hid him from sight.
I walked away quickly, not wanting to hear the gruesome sound as Daniel
Rankin met his doom.
Epilogue
IT TOOK about fifteen minutes of very annoying calling back and forth to
guide both Roger and Charlotte to the exit of the maze. Josie had been fibbing
about killing them, but I think she learned her lesson.
It didn t take long to find an exit to the warehouse, though it did involve
crawling up a spooky dark tunnel with some sort of unidentified insect life
present, as well as a possible shrew or two. At the end we emerged from a
trapdoor into the garage.
 Let me have your card key, said Roger.  I m going to check on the
prisoners.
 I ll see if I can find a phone, Charlotte offered.
 I m just going to sit here for a few days, I said, handing Roger my pass
card, and then grabbing a lawn chair from the corner and unfolding it.  Bring
me food and water every once in a while, will you?
 Don t worry, I ll round up some medical supplies too, said Roger.  Sit
there and be a good boy until I get back.
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 Does comatose count as good?
Roger and Charlotte left. I sat down on the chair, closed my eyes, and
remembered my vow to never, ever leave the house again if I got out of this.
That sounded good. I d swipe some of Daniel s furniture, sell it, buy myself a
state of the art computer, take some lessons, and telecommute for the rest of
my life. When Kyle was old enough to drive we d send him out for groceries,
but until then we d survive on pizza delivery. PudgyPierre had twenty
different toppings, so we d have all the variety we needed. Ah, yes, life
would be good.
A wooden plank struck me on the back of the head, knocking me out of the
chair.
 You think I mgonna die in my own trap? demanded a mud-covered, bloodied
Daniel, kicking the chair out of the way.  I ve got escape routes all over
this place!
I gripped the bottom of the tool bench and slowly pulled myself up. Daniel
chuckled without humor, and then wedged the plank under the doorknob so that
nobody could get inside. He waved his hands around like a magician, and then
did a not-very-good job of making a hunting knife with an eight-inch blade
 appear from his sleeve.  Think you ll be able to see inside your stomach
after I feed you your eyes?
The only weapon within reach was a small screwdriver on the table. I grabbed
it, though with my double vision it took two tries to actually touch it.
Daniel picked up a tin of lighter fluid and squirted it at me, hitting my
chest.  Too bad I don t have a match, he said, altering the angle.
The lighter fluid hit my eyes. The burning sensation was incredible. I
consciously knew that rubbing my eyes was the worst thing I could do, but I
couldn t stop myself. When I finally forced myself to pull my hands away, I
was blind.
I grabbed the tool bench to steady myself.  What s the matter? Something in
your eye? Daniel asked. I could tell that he was walking toward me, and I
could make out a faint figure, but I certainly wasn t going to be able to
defend myself with any skill.
I threw the screwdriver at him. Daniel snorted a laugh.  Oh, give it up. This
one s for Josie.
I couldn t see it, but I could hear something swishing toward my face. I
threw my hand up to defend myself.
The burning in my eyes was forgotten as the knife tore through my palm,
burying itself all the way to the hilt.
Believe me, I made some noise. I could see the blurred tip of the knife [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]