10 - Barn

9 - Livestock Shed 11 - Pantry
Another shot came, but Derrek had already passed the corner to the back of the barn, to the left of the gate. He'd have to go around for the back door which he entered before. He breathed heavy, adrenaline still pulsing through his body. You're right body, no time for rest. Let's check inside. Warren is probably hiding somewhere over here, Ashley too if he got her out. They're expecting a cop, coming in wary, probably sneaking like before. Let's not give em that. Derrek strode on beside the wall of the barn, the mowed field to his left, toward the orchard. He kept his flashlight in his left hand, pushed to max brightness, not ignited yet.
His right hand moved to his real gun, it hesitated. They shot at you!
But, they're kids. Are you—
They. Shot. First…
No, Yves shot first. But they were only supposed to scare me? Did he actually shoot? Chief always said you can hear the difference between blanks and real shots, I couldn't hear shit. Who is listening for something like that with a barrel trained on them.

He got around the corner and made a decision, he pulled out one of his guns. The orchard was to his left now, he followed the wall toward the other corner and the back door. Halfway the wall, he heard something from inside, the door. Derrek increased his pace to a jog and just before passing the border, saw someone running for the fields. Oh no, you don't. Derrek ignited his flashlight, making the pumpkin mask turn toward him. He opened fire.
One, two, three, four hits of six shots. The boy screamed in agony, but stumbled into the fields. Good thing I went with rubbers, I would have hesitated, making him get away again.
Derrek stepped past the corner of the barn. The youth mumbled something unheard, stepping further into the fields. Oh no, you won't get away this time. The fields were good fifteen meters removed from the barn, Derrek increased his pace.
His body reacted with a duck as another shot rang. He glanced to the right and saw the open window. Damn, I forgot about him. Derrek turned the flashlight to the window, hoping to get in a blind again. He froze for a second. I can't make it to the fields, the door is just a few steps back. Need to get back. He turned and ran inside the barn's back door.
He let out an exclamation at himself. Stupid, Derrek. Keep your mind together. It's possible he's firing blanks but you can't be sure. Derrek looked back through the open door, he shone his flashlight outside. In the fields, he saw mister pumpkin, Warren, looking at him. He was rubbing at his back before flipping Derrek off. Derrek got up his gun again, pumpkin mask didn't hesitate and broke through some stalks to the right. Derrek lost sight of him. Yeah, they really hurt like hell, especially the ones on your butt. Good thing he didn't know I was out of rubbers. Already on my last cartridge. Should have brought extra, mental note for next time.
From here, Yves couldn't possibly hit him. They already knew he was there so no need to stay hidden. He took a moment the shine his flashlight around the ground, looking for a bullet impacts. He spotted the tracks from himself and Warren, the point where he pivoted back toward the door had some ground slipped away, but nothing close to a bullet impact site.
"Warren?" An urgent whisper came from upstairs. Oh good, she didn't get out. Still can't be sure if it's blanks or real bullets. Derrek closed the door. It turned inward, he couldn't block it easily. He shoved one of the crates in front of the door. In case he decides to come in again, can't make it too easy.
"Warren?!" The whisper came louder, was she scared?
"Warren isn't coming back, I got him good." Derrek said as he climbed the ladder. He said it rather lightly, but he stopped when he made eye contact with Ashley. She was still at the same spot, hand cuffed to the wooden beam with a mouse blanket between her and the wood.
But she was in full panic. Eyes wide staring at him, body fully tensed against the mouse blanket. Derrek hesitated for a second on the upper rung of the ladder. Huh?
"You shot him, too?" She asked, with a swallow. Oh, she didn't know about Yves with the gun. The shots, she thinks it was me. And Warren hurrying out, followed by a yell and a shot. Damn. Can I use this further? Derrek brought his hand to his gun.
"No no, please, no. You don't have to do this." She said, her eyes getting wet. "I'll cooperate, I'll tell you whatever you need." Fuck Derrek, you're scarring her for life here… Well, she deserves a tiny bit of scarring for this.
Derrek held his hand on the gun and walked toward her, circling a bit around her, keeping eye contact. "I don't think you know anything more. I already know you're getting paid for this. Peter was very talkative." Her mouth quivered every sentence, she felt she was loosing her advantage. "Well, he won't be talking any longer." Derrek added. Damn, too dark?
She started ugly crying then, which was an ugly sight if you saw it happen with someone who couldn't cover their face with their hands. Yeah, ok, a bit too much.
"Anything I should know, now's your chance." Derrek unbuttoned the holster with a loud click, which got her full undivided attention.
"Please, Yves knows everything. We just had our roles." Derrek was pitying her, he saw snot trickle from her nose, intermingling with her tears, headed for her mouth. And she thought the mouse blanket was bad. I don't think she knows anything else, better stop it… Ok, just one step further.
"Yves? He was the one on the house, right?" Ashley's eyes hung on his lips. Derrek turned away from her. "Pity, I don't think I got a straight hit, but the drop was high. I'll check on him next," He looked at her and added with a smile, "you know, to make sure."
She broke eye contact and cried further. Ok, Derrek, that's far enough. She'll remember. He had passed by her at this point, and started moving toward the ladder again. It startled her again, thinking he came at her.
"We had to lure you inside the house. That's everything we knew, I swear." Derrek stopped, looking at her. She recognized she had gained something and didn't hesitate. "Get your attention, get you inside the house and Yves would do the rest. That's everything, please. I don't want to die." Hmm, so what's inside the house. Sounds like another trap… I'm really going to need back up. The Chief has to send help now, with the shooting and everything. He can't ignore that any longer.
Ashley sniffled a bit more, her gaze fixated at Derrek, mouth trembling.
"What's inside?" Derrek asked. Ashley blinked rapidly, pulling in the memories.
"I only saw from the back door. There were some ritualistic drawings. Penta-thingies, you know what I mean. Candles. Those kind of things." Great. Sounds like good fun. "Yves left the back door open, so we could always get in." They want me to come in, yet he starts shooting at me? Weird way to invite someone in. But I have my point of entry if I can get him away from that window.
"Anything else?" Derrek asked, "Something small he said, any detail?" Derrek saw Ashley's eyes going left to right, her mind racing.
"No, that's… He did say something about the dining room to Dina, but I didn't hear what." She turned her eyes toward the barn's door, which she couldn't see from her spot against the wooden beam. "Warren was distracting me… Oh god, Warren." Another flood of ugly crying came in. Derrek couldn't take it any longer.
"Your friends are fine. I only shot Warren with rubber bullets, same as I did you." Ashley peered at him, mouth wide open.
"But— the shots?"
"Yves. He was shooting at me. I'm guessing you didn't know he brought a gun?" Ashley just sat watching him in shock. The question pierced through her thoughts and she shook her head. "Yeah, I'm not sure if it's real bullets, but still."
"So, Warren is fine?" She asked, her eyes brightening up a bit.
"Yes, Peter too, thanks for asking. He hurt his leg falling over some crates. He's in more pain than Warren is."
"So, you just straight up lied to me?" She said.
"Trust me, way worse things happen during interrogations. And you may have deserved a lesson." He said, while getting out his phone. Time to call in.
Ashley was rambling on, Derrek shutted it out, searched his contacts for the Chief and dialed him. After a few beeps, the grumpy voice replied.
"Nineteen minutes since you previous call, Kane. This better be good." Derrek restrained himself.
"I caught two of the teens, locked in different locations. Shots were fired at me from the house."
"They shot at you?" The Chief asked, not in a worried tone, matter-of-factly just for the direction of the bullets.
"Yes, I wasn't hit. Four shots. It seems they are mostly doing this to scare me, so I'm not sure if it were real bullets fired or blanks." The line stayed silent for a while.
"You hear the difference, Derrek. We've had the course, remember. The duller sound, no place of bullet impact…"
"I didn't find a place of impact, but the sound.. I don't know. Everything happened so fast."
"I'll put in a new course especially for you then. You returned fire?"
"No." Derrek replied. Well, not at the shooter. "Yes, well..."
"Don't tell me you brought your rubber gun. Not again. I warned you before." Great… There goes that.
"He shot me in the butt!" Ashley shouted, Derrek quickly turned away his phone.
"You shot a girl?" The voice came over the line, both enraged and incredulous.
"And another teen who tried to run me over with a tractor." While saying this, he made eye contact with Ashley. She couldn't maintain eye contact.
"God-damnit, Derrek. God. Damn. It. Just an ordinary call. That's another shit-show you got there. What's your next step of action?" Derrek blinked a few times.
"Requesting reinforcements, there's still three teens abound, one is armed, possibly lethal. Stepping into the house solo is a death-wish I don't want to fulfill… Sir." He said.
"Hmm." The reply came. Seriously? Even for this he's not sending help? "Someone needs to clean up this mess… I'll send Jones. Can you just stay put for a while? He's on another call, I'll make him pass by after that. I'm guessing half an hour to an hour." Great, Jones. The real last resort. Or late resort mostly.
"Jones? I'll be here for another two hours before he'll get here." Derrek said.
"Stay put, and stop shooting kids, especially little girls, Kane." Derrek heard a laughter came from farther down the line. He had to put in all his restrain to push the red horn on his screen. His breathing had quickened again, the conversation was almost as tiresome as all the chasing was.
Ashley saw his distress. Derrek was expecting a jest from her, none came. Instead she said, "Yves won't hurt you, you know. 500 is a lot of money, but he wouldn't go that far. None of us would." Derrek saw some shame running over her face. "Is it though working for the police?" She asked. Derrek expected a trap.
"It is." He said, she sat waiting for more. "Not a lot of people see you as help, most think you're just pestering others. Some teens freaking you out for fun doesn't help either. We can get scared as well." It seemed to hit home. Sitting here locked up had got her thinking a bit he hoped. "And internally, it's the same as any job I guess. Some people you match with, others loathe you. You don't choose your colleagues in this sector, finding another position means moving probably." She nodded at him. It was hard to always keep seeing people as humans, even the ones who shout at you, hate you or even fire at you. It was one of the most important aspects of the job. It felt good if those people could see him also as human instead of just a uniform out to get them. Even if it was a teenage girl with a bruised buttock, handcuffed to a mouse blanketed wooden beam in a barn. He'll take it.
"So, you're waiting it out?" She asked after a while. Are you? She said they wouldn't hurt him, she seemed credible. Will you risk that? Chief is already disappointed, you'll hear this for another year now. Can I turn this around? Alone? They can lock me in the house if I'm not careful. I could really use a second, if only for a distraction—
Wait. Chip.
But he's on suspension… Should I?
He will come, I know that for sure. And he'll bring guns. But even he wouldn't shoot kids.
Would he?
Would he… No no. Just a distraction is enough. One hell of a distraction that is.

"You all right?" Ashley asked. Derrek looked at her with question in his eyes. "You just let out a chuckle and then started grinning. A bit creepy, I have to say."
"Yeah, this'll be a real scare for the others as well." Derrek search his phone for Chip's number and started the call. I sure hope you know what you're doing, Derrek.
"Derricane!" The phone blasted out. Derrek saw Ashley's face turn into a smile, he turned away and walked a bit further from her.
"Chip, how are you?"
"Good, good. You know, at home. Really good. Just a few more weeks, but I'm good. How are you doing? You at that puddingfest? Just saw it at the news, tasty shit there. But also a bit boring. That why you calling, man?"
"No, no, Chip. I was there before, I'm on a call now." Over the line, Derrek could hear Chip moving forward in his lounge chair.
"A case?" My, someone is really eager.
"Yes, something going at a farmhouse. Some kids were screaming and they're trying to put me through a scare. Called in with the Chief, but help's out for at least an hour." Derrek could hear Chip getting out of his chair and starting to move.
"Go on, putting you on speaker."
"Uhm, there's five teens in total, two I already caught. One's still outside, the other two in the house. I'm preparing to head into the house, but I'm a bit outmanned here, and was wondering". Derrek could hear shells being loaded into a gun over the line. "I— uhm— know you're suspended at the moment, but—" He could hear Chip moving again. "I could really use some back-up. You don't have to get involved, we could spin the tale you saw my car in the driveway of the farm and you decided to check it out. "Some doors were closed over the line. Chip was breathing more heavily. "
"Address?" Is he already in his car?
"65 Dry Hollow Road, Chip, you don't—"
"Six-five, dryyyy, hollllowww ro—" Chip mumbled through the line. "Twenty-one minutes, I can make it in seventeen." Chip's engine roared over the line and his siren whooped once. Chip's pickup could pass through the mud without a problem, he'd probably drift through.
"See ya in a bit." His car revved.
"Chip, no shooting!" Derrek yelled over the line. There was only the hum of the engine. He was still there. "You're still suspended, you're a civilian now."
"I have my rights." Chip said.
"You do. But you cannot come in here guns blazing. I'd have to take you in myself." Derrek received a grunt from the other end. "Thank you for coming, but please, these are just kids. Don't shoot them." Ashley sat still, staring at Derrek.
"What if they shoot at me?"
"Fire once in the air."
"That's bullshit, man. Why did you even call me then?"
"I'm all alone here. I cannot do this alone, but I don't want to ruin some kid's future for a prank." Another grunt came. "If you act rationally, this could help you get back in service sooner."
"Don't turn this on me. I know it won't help me either way… But I'll be there. See ya in a bit."
This time the line beeped.
"Why was he suspended?" Ashley asked, Derrek moved back to her.
"He fired a bit too soon."
Her eyes grew wider. "You called a suspended trigger-happy cop?"
"He's okay, as long as he knows what he's getting into. He just doesn't like getting spooked. Be happy it was me here today instead of him. Would have been a totally different experience for you guys.. Good thing he's a bad shot."
"So, he's not bringing any guns?"
"Oh, he is. He has more guns in his car than you have shoes in your closet. Trust me, I tried sitting in his car. But he won't go there. He knows he'd get in even more trouble."
Derrek leaned onto a crate beside Ashley, his hand caught something sharp metal, and a plastic piece. He picked it up, a key with a red plastic tractor attached to it. Huh. Seems like someone forgot something. I could use this, to get to the house. He imagined himself getting on the tractor, starting it, and getting shot in the seat. Hmm, ok, that won't work. Still worth checking out.
"Ashley, if Warren returns here, tell him not to engage with Chip." Derrek didn't wait for a reply, he moved back down the ladder. He checked outside the door, no Warren as far as he could see. He ran quickly out the door and past the corner to the back, without glancing at the house.
No shot came. He trodded back toward the other side and got Peter's phone outside his satchel. Let's update the group, could use that distraction as well. He started typing in the Farmoween thread.
Hi, cop here. Reinforcements on the way, sit tight! Derrek walked on until the edge of the barn. He peeked out and saw Yves ready at the window, trained at his spot. He'd seen him leave and expected him there, but he couldn't see him yet. Derrek hit send.
After a few seconds a tiny light reflected in the window. He's checking his phone, let's hope that light's enough. Derrek moved in a crouch toward the tractor. Still, no shots.
He passed the metal shears of death and got behind the green tractor. Its front was toward the barn, he couldn't go driving it toward the house without turning it around first. The light in the window went out. Crap, let's hope his night vision takes a few more seconds.
Derrek got up the tractor, but didn't take the seat. He kept low, covering behind the seat. He saw the ignition and some buttons. The floodlights. I could use them to blind him, again. He looked up and saw two floodlights attached to the frame of the tractor. Both had a handle to move the light, it seemed like it could move around. Now or never.
Derrek broke his cover and pulled the handle. No shot. It was heavy but with some wriggling he was able to turn it toward the house. He ducked back to grab the key.
A shot came. His breath caught in his throat. He still couldn't hear if it was a blank or not. Come on, just need to get the keys in. He fumbled for the key in his satchel, hands shaking. Damn, really hope it's blanks, or he'll hit me for sure. Derrek wanted to move but his body didn't. He heard Ashley's words through his head. They wouldn't hurt him, just scare him. But still, he couldn't do it. Then, he heard his own words to Chip. Yes, they're also scared.
He got out his own gun, his real one. He aimed past the house, made sure he could see the barrel from the window and fired. The barrel moved inside and he heard a shout coming from inside. Go! His mind shouted at him.
He holstered his gun, pushed in the key and turned. The engine started up. Only then did he see it was out its gear, would have been another disaster otherwise.
The floodlights also ignited. The barn lit up in front of him, the house to the back. His aim was a bit off but he adjusted it quickly so it was fully on the window. There he saw the watcher, he had come up again with his gun, but had to hold his hand before his eyes for the light.
This was the first time Derrek really saw him clearly. Yves wore a dark cape with a hood over his head. His face still peeked out from under the hood, though now covered by hands.
Let there be light! Derrek smirked as he saw Yves struggle a few times to try and look either way. His flashlight was strong, but the floodlights were the real deal, like driving toward a low sun in winter.
He took another pot shot anyway. Barrel aimed toward the light. Derrek saw the aim was off, but he didn't see or hear any impacts. 80% sure it's blanks. But still…
Yves kept struggling to see, but retreated from the window. Better hurry up. Derrek jogged for the back door.

From the mowed fields, hidden in a stack of hay, a pair of eyes followed the cop as he entered the back door into the farmhouse. Beneath those eyes, a voice spoke onto a glass screen.
"He's in."

Continue reading: 11 - Pantry

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