Under The Pier

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 24 (v.1)

Submitted: July 15, 2015

Reads: 174

Comments: 2

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Submitted: July 15, 2015

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Piper Newton couldn’t believe what she was hearing. For the last minute she had been lost in a stupor, holding the phone to her ear. She had the footage of a lifetime and she couldn't use it.  Her cameraman, Wilson, was behind her massaging her shoulders.

 

"What do you mean we can't broadcast it?" Piper rose from her chair, knocking Wilson back, and started pacing around the van.

 

"My hands are tied, Fig. The feds showed up and ordered that we cease and desist reporting on this story. They marched in like they owned the place. Without any explanation. They confiscated everything. I'd be angry, if I wasn't so creeped out." He called her Fig because her last name was Newton, and that was his favorite snack.

 

"This is outrageous! They have absolutely no authority to tell us what we can and cannot report. What ever happened to our First Amendment rights? When I get on the air again, I'm going to rip them a new one." Piper fumed. She was working up a sweat, so she started fanning herself with an envelope.

 

"Piper, you're preaching to the choir here. I couldn't agree more. I'm just telling you there is nothing I can do." She could hear his melancholy sigh.

 

"I'm sorry, Chuck. You know I just have to vent to someone. I risked my life to get that video. I am going to present it to the public eye, if it's the last thing I do." Her boss was not really the intended target of her indignation, she just had a nasty habit of taking things out on her friends.

 

"I can understand where you're coming from. I would be upset too if I was in your position. Look, just come in, and we'll decide where to go from here," Chuck instructed her.

 

"Alright, maybe that's a good idea. If I stay cooped up in this van any longer, my head will explode. I don't think the guys want to clean that mess up." She had him on speakerphone, so her crew all voiced a collective 'no'.

 

"Be careful," he said, enigmatically.

 

"What possible danger could we be in, other than Ben's terrible driving skills?" She chuckled.

 

"Hey! Be nice," Ben said.

 

Chuck had already hung up, and didn't respond. "Well then, aren't we all ominous today."

 

Piper was vivacious and spunky. She had shoulder length brown hair that curled up at the ends. Her eyes were teal, and a cluster of freckles covered her cheeks. No one would argue the fact that from the moment she entered a room, she commanded it. She spoke with conviction about topics she knew nothing about.

 

Jokes were told about her behind her back. It was said that if she died and went to purgatory, she could argue her way into heaven. Saint Peter would get so tired of hearing her talk, he would just let her in. After he had pulled out every bit of his hair. She could be infuriating.  She was also so adorable that you couldn't stay mad at her for long.

 

"Aren't you just a tad bit worried about what Chuck said? It's so unreal, having the men in black show up and shut us down like that." Wilson sat down in front of his computer.

 

"Their scare tactics don't work on me. Chuck may have folded under the pressure, but if I had been there, they wouldn't have gotten anything. I'd of told them where to shove their orders."  She was gripping her phone so tightly, the battery popped out.

 

"You're right, they would probably need therapy after you. Waterboarding can only prepare you for so much," Wilson muttered.

 

Piper elbowed him, but he was so thick he didn't even feel it. That just frustrated her even more.

 

"Speaking of shoving orders, I'm going through Starbucks. Do you want anything?" Ben offered.

 

She let out a long breath. "I suppose so. A tall Cotton Candy Frappuccino and a cinnamon roll."

Even when she was furious and exasperated, they knew she could never turn down coffee. If anything would shut her up, it was that.

 

Piper sat behind Wilson at his computer, sipping her flavored coffee. He was playing a game of Solitaire and drinking hot chocolate. The tiny marshmallows swirled around in the cup as he blew in it.

 

"We can't upload the video ourselves?" Piper inquired. She had been poking him in the back for the last five minutes.

 

"No, we can't. I'm locked out. The boss knows you too well." He feigned interest in what she was saying. Wilson had hoped that the cinnamon roll would keep her busy chewing for awhile, but she was letting that cool and had skipped right to the coffee. The caffeine had made her even more energetic.

 

"Then upload it to every video sharing, social networking site you can think of. We'll get more viewers that way. No one watches TV anymore. We're a dying breed." Piper had never been accused of being nostalgic.

 

"Yes ma'am. Now I can count down the days until my account is deleted, and I'm banned from YouTube," Wilson said sarcastically.

 

"Looks like we're going to have to turn around,"  Ben said.

 

"What? Why?" Piper asked

 

"The army has the road blocked off,"  Ben observed.

 

"That's the quickest route to the studio." Piper walked to the front and looked out the windshield. A scowl wrinkled her forehead, as she leaned over Ben.

 

"There's nothing I can do, we have to go another way." Ben explained like he was talking to a two year old.

 

"If one more person tells me that, stop and let me get out. I'll talk to them," Piper demanded.

 

"Miss Newton, I have to advise against this," Ben said.

 

"Oh course you do. I don't need parental guidance, I can think for myself. " Piper patted his back and headed for the back door.

 

Ben pulled the van to a stop, and Piper got out. She had never seen anything like this barricade in all her life. A fence made of bars crossed diagonally and wrapped with barbed wire was spread as far in both directions as the eye could see. Humvees were parked sideways blocking traffic, and a tank was positioned right in front of her. None of this intimidated her, though. She was livid and stomped right up to the first soldier she saw. He held out his hand, indicating that was far enough.

 

"What's the meaning of this? Why are you blocking our way?" Piper demanded to know.

 

"Ma'am, I'm going to have to ask you to return to your vehicle."

 

"I'm not returning anywhere until I get some answers!"

 

"I'm not allowed to talk to civilians, especially the press." He spat the last word out as if he was disgusted by what she did for a living.

 

"I want to talk to your superior. I have the right to know why I'm being inconvenienced like this. Can you at least give me an alternate route?" Piper asked.

 

"There is no alternate route. You cannot go any farther south by any means. This area is quarantined until further notice. Lady, the only way you will see my superior, is in handcuffs. Besides, he would tell you the exact same thing. If you continue to harass me, I will be forced to detain you," he warned, calmly.

 

"Detain me! For what? Asking you questions? Do I look sick to you? Typical military type, you people abuse your power. One day, it will come back to bite you." Piper wanted so bad to slap him, and claw his eyes out, but she restrained herself.

 

"This is a waste of my time. I'm only going to tell you this one more time. Get back in your van and turn around," the soldier said.

 

"I'm not in the army, you can't give me orders. You don't scare me, little man. I'll leave when I'm good and ready. If you so much as lay a finger on me, the men in that van will stream the video of you manhandling a defenseless woman all over the internet, faster than you can zip your open fly." Piper got right in his face.

 

The man looked anxious, and immediately zipped his pants.  “Point made. Look, all I can tell you is that there is some kind of biological agent that is killing people right and left. I really don't know much more than you," he said, honestly.

 

Ben and Wilson watched Piper scream at the Soldiers. They saw her turn and wave to them, and they reluctantly raised their hands. One of these days, they knew she was going to get herself killed.

 

"Too bad we don't have any popcorn. Look, that guy looks like he wants to turn the gun on himself now." Wilson poked Ben.

 

"Poor man, he's just doing his job. I don't know what she thinks this is going to accomplish." Ben shook his head. He was embarrassed for her.

He was just glad Starbucks got her order right, or she would have made them turn around.

"It's still fun to watch. No wonder she's never been married. Can you imagine?" Wilson asked.

 

"No, and I don't want to try," Ben replied.

 

"That's all I wanted to know. That wasn't so hard, was it?" Piper turned on her heel and left the man standing there, trying to regain his composure.

 

Piper climbed back up into the van and closed the doors. Wilson helped her up. He was still laughing. "You feel better now?"

 

"A little. The military is just as clueless as we are. They think this is some kind biological attack. What I saw was not the result of a contagion. The man who tried to kill me looked like he was pumped up on steroids and was obviously high," Piper explained.

 

"What do you think it is then?" Wilson asked.

 

"I don't know, but I'm going to find out. We can't get to the TV station, but maybe we can find another media outlet." Piper pondered.

 

"There must be a radio station nearby." Wilson suggested.

 

"Google it," Piper told him.

 

He pulled out his phone and looked it up. "SHELL 103.7 is stationed within driving range. Twelve miles east of here." Wilson relayed the address to Ben and they headed in that direction.

 

Piper was sitting with her legs crossed, bobbing her foot back and forth and chewing on her lip. She had her phone out, reading an article on the theories surrounding what was really going on in South Carolina. Closing Myrtle Beach was a huge deal, and apparently it was causing an uproar. Wilson was staring at her, so she raised her brows at him and smirked. "Can I help you?"

 

"Do you think this is really the end of the world? A lot of people seem to think it is," he asked, straight faced and completely serious.

 

Piper chuckled at him. "No, it's not the end of anything. It's just people being overly dramatic, or they want to stamp their name on a prophecy just in case they happen to accidentally predict the future. Even a broken clock gets to be right twice a day. Some might even want it to be true to get away from the mundane and add some excitement to their boring existences."

 

"I'm definitely not one of those people. I really don't want to die single," Wilson said.

 

"If you would loose about fifty pounds, you might get a girlfriend," Ben joked.

 

"Shut up." Wilson waved his hand at him dismissively.

 

"Keep your mind on the road Ben. You'll end up getting us lost again!" Piper yelled at him.

 

Wilson went back to using his computer, but she prodded him. "What happened with Karen? You guys seemed to really hit it off." She tilted her head, genuinely concerned.

 

"She dumped me, because I play video games too much," Wilson confessed.

 

"No, not you! Really?" Piper brought her hand up to her chest, feigning surprise and patronizing him.

 

He minimized the role-playing game had opened on his computer, and squinted at her. "Go ahead, laugh it up. I tried to tell her that it was temporary. There was a special online event going on. It was only going to last the weekend."

 

"How many times do I have to tell you, women want to feel special. She probably had something planned to do with you and didn't like playing second fiddle to something she already didn't deem very important. Don't worry about it though. There are girls out there that enjoy playing games too. Have you considered striking up a conversation with some of the people you play with online? They can't all be hairy old men pretending to be teenage girls." Piper laughed.

 

"Yeah, but they are too immature for me," Wilson said.

 

Piper just stared at him as if he was telling a joke and she was waiting for the punchline.

 

"I rest my case," Ben added.

 

"I thought I told you to stay out of this," Piper ordered.

 

"You should really consider charging per hour for your priceless relationship advice. Especially with your flawless track record," Ben said.

 

"No one asked you. You probably can't even remember what it was like to date. You've been married so long," Piper said.

 

"I may not tell you how to hook them, but I can tell you how to keep them. Grow up and turn the games off," Ben advised.

 

"I'd rather die," Wilson stated emphatically.

 

"There lies the problem," Ben replied

 

"Whatever."

 

They pulled into the lot, and all got out. Ben had to stretch his legs, and Wilson needed to use the restroom. Piper moved toward the big pink shell above the front door with the glowing radio dial numbers beside it.

 

The station was right by the beach. Piper stopped by the edge of the road to feel the warm breeze against her skin. She could hear the hypnotic crash of the waves. They called to her. Seagulls circled through the clouds, and a crab danced across the sand.

 

Some day soon. I'm going to stretch a towel out and just lie there and waste away the day.

 

"That view never gets old, does it?" Ben asked.

 

"Nope." Piper caught stray strands of hair flapping in her face and tucked them behind her ear.

"I keep promising to take the kids, but I just haven't made time," Ben said.

 

"Are you two coming or what?" Wilson stood on the boardwalk.





 

As soon as they opened the door, every eye in the studio was on them. A tan cocker spaniel waddled over to greet Piper. She petted him with her heel. Wilson became transfixed by a game poster stuck to the wall.  

 

To their right, there was a room with windows on every side so you could see in from all angles. A balding man in a Hawaiian shirt was wearing a pair of headphones. Switches and monitors were scattered on a desk. A long microphone hung down from the ceiling in front of his face.

 

A distressed voice flowed from speakers on the wall. It was definitely a caller. The pathetic sound of sobbing startled her as she approached the door. A highlighted message above the door read, “Live Do Not Enter.” She flung the door open and put her hands on her hips. He held up a finger for her to hold her peace.  

 

"My husband travels a lot for his job, and he can't come home because they won't let him in. Our son's birthday is tomorrow, and he's going to miss it," the woman whined.

 

"A very heartbreaking story isn't it, folks? There are dozens more like it everywhere. They keep flooding in by the hundreds. I'll be taking your calls as we continue our continuous coverage of this bizarre event. Now, a quick message from our sponsors." The ripped off the headphones and pressed a button.

 

"What are you doing in here? Can't you see I'm in the middle of a broadcast? Get out!" He stood up and shooed them away.

 

Piper ignored him and made her case. "I'll only take up a moment of your time. You should be thanking me. SHELL is about to become the most popular station in this district."

 

"You've got two minutes before that red light  blinks and the commercial break is over. Spit it out. State your business already," the announcer grumbled.

 

"I encountered the creature that robbed the bank, and I wounded it. Also, I have spoken to the military, so I have the inside scoop," Piper explained.

 

"Now, you have my attention. My name is Randy." He held out his hand, and she took it.

 

"Mine is Piper Newton. Pleased to meet you," she replied cordially.

 

"I've seen you on the news before. I knew I recognized that cute little face," Randy flirted.

 

"Flattery will get you everywhere sir," Piper winked.

 

The light that let him know he had a phone call lit up. He considered it a moment with his hand on the button, then ignored it. "I'm a gambling man Miss Newton, so I'll bet on you. You better not let me down."

 

"You won't be sorry," she assured him.

 

"Going live in three, two, one." He flipped a switch and held down a button.

 

"Alright ladies and gents, change of plans. I have a guest here who claims to have come face to face with a monster and lived to tell the story. I'll let her describe it in her own words. She will be taking any calls." Randy introduced her, handed off the headphones and let her sit down.

 

He gave her a short rundown of which buttons to press and when.

 

"Hi everyone, I'm Piper Newton. You may know me from your local news. Today, I was given the shock of my life. What started as a run-of-the-mill bank robbery, has evolved into the story of the century.

 

As I'm sure you are all well aware, something has infected the minds of the citizens of our city. It has transformed normal people into monsters bent on killing in cold blood. Our police force has learned the hard way that the traditional means of apprehension of these suspects will simply not work. You must trust me and try something a bit more unorthodox. The one that I confronted responded to electric shock when all else failed. I used a taser as a last resort in order to defend myself. It dropped me and ran off.

 

I know I'm asking you to trust a complete stranger with your lives, but I have no reason to lie.  If you choose not to heed my warning, you will find out when it's too late. There is nothing else they respond to. Please, do not engage these beasts without the proper equipment.

 

I have also been extraordinarily disappointed by how people have conducted themselves in this disaster. Reach down deep, I implore you and prove that you are better than this animalistic behavior that I witnessed.

 

Someone with an unknown agenda, doesn't want this message to get out. I was told by the government that I could not broadcast my findings on TV. We were not given an explanation for this gross infringement of our rights. Now, they are trying to keep us locked up in this area because they don't understand what is happening either. I don't know about you, but I'm not going to stand for this."

 

Randy interrupted to tell her to press the button and take a call.

 

"This is Scott from inside the heart of of the crisis. It's a drug known as Jolt. I've seen the effects myself. It is highly addictive, and extremely deadly. The serum increases strength, and causes regeneration. It will also drive you insane. Do not trust or rely on the police force. I repeat, do not trust the police. One tried to kill me. People will do anything to get their hands on it. Including stepping on your face to reach it.

 

I have found another means with which to kill them. Rapid exsanguination will at least slow them down. I'm very thankful for this new revelation. I'm glad to know I have an ally out there." He continued to talk but was cut off for some reason.

 

"Well there you have it. That's what I like to see. Fighters rising up against the odds and refusing to be stomped on. Make him your example. Those of you who are still normal, you are not alone. This has been Piper Newton for SHELL 103.7. Now, I'll place you back in Randy's more than capable hands." Piper passed the headphones back to him, and shook his hand.




 

Back in the van, Piper and her crew tried to digest what they had just heard. The caller had told them not to go to the police under any circumstances. She could not bring herself to believe that they were all corrupt. All this did was make her more determined to go and find an honest one.

 

Ben asked his GPS to locate the nearest police station, and he aimed the van in it's direction.


 

There were already people rallied outside the building. A line stretched all the way down the steps and into the street. Piper wondered what could possibly have possessed these people to want to stand in this blistering heat.

 

"What's that all about?" Ben asked.

 

"There's no way we're getting in there," Wilson stated the obvious.

 

"I have to try. Pull over." Piper pointed to an open parking spot, in a pizza restaurant's lot.

 

"It's a handicap zone, Piper," Ben pointed out.

 

"It can see that, I'm not blind. What are the odds that someone is going to need this particular spot. They're closed, anyway. You really think the police don't have better things to do right now than hand out tickets?" Piper rolled her eyes and slapped the dash.

 

"She does have a point." Wilson shrugged.

 

"You're paying for the ticket." Ben said.

 

"Put it on my tab along with the breakfast you bought me," Piper winked.

 

Ben looked deflated.

 

"Hey, in all seriousness, I really appreciate you guys sticking with me. I know no one else would put up with me." She patted his chest and dropped a twenty in his lap.

 

Ben smiled. "We love you. Honestly, I'd miss your attitude if you left."

 

"What he said." Wilson agreed.

 

"I'm glad we're on the same page. I love you guys to death," Piper confessed.

 

"Watch your back. It's a mad world out there. You're about to kick the nest. If they won't let you in, just come on back. It's not your problem," Wilson warned.

 

"I promise to not create a scene." Piper crossed her fingers.

 

Piper squinted in the harsh sunlight and she shielded her face with her hands. She was speed walking across the lot, and was regretting her decision to wear high heels today. After a minute of digging through her purse, so procured a white bottle and coated her delicate skin with sunscreen.

 

Because of her strong personality, people had accused her of being a feminist. She was no such thing. Piper was vehemently opposed to the results of the Roe vs. Wade case, and thought it was a travesty. Any woman who would kill a human being growing inside her was a selfish monster in her opinion. Neither did she hate men or think they were useless. She was in favor of equality of the sexes, as long as you acknowledged their differences. Piper strived to be the strongest woman she could be, without trying to be a man.

 

A lot of lies circulated about her, but there was one thing that she never denied. She was an arrogant, and highly opinionated woman, who always had to be right.

 

Electricity was the key. Piper didn't know why, but it had affected the man when nothing else worked. The police were going to listen to her. She was going to make them hear her out. Deep in her heart, she had a feeling she was right about this too, and she had to prove it.

 

As she was about to ascend the steps, she felt a gentle tug on the hem of her skirt. She frowned and spun around, but didn't see anyone. Then Piper looked down. There was a little black boy. Probably two, or maybe three years old.

 

"Where's mommy?" he asked.

 

Piper knelt down to his level. She narrowed her eyes in search of his mother. That kind of ineptitude as a parent infuriated her.

 

Who would abandon their child at a time like this?

 

"What's your name sweetheart?" Piper asked as she rubbed his head and pulled the sweaty hair out of his eyes.

 

"Barry."

 

"Barry, where did you last see your mommy? Is daddy here too?" She asked.

 

The boy appeared confused. "I don't know, over there I think. What's daddy?" He pointed to a group of men gathered in a circle around something.

 

It made her heart hurt to see the toddler try to comprehend a word that should be second nature to him by now. She couldn't figure out what it was he was pointing at, until one of the men shifted his feet to kick. Piper gasped when she saw a woman's long hair through the barrage of shoes.

 

Piper tried to bypass the line, but a man grabbed her by the arm and shoved her down.

"You'll wait your turn, like the rest of us," he sneered.  

 

"How dare you push me, brute! This is an emergency!  A woman's life is at stake! You see this baby, that's his mother on the ground." Piper said.

 

"How is that my problem? We all have emergencies," he replied.

Piper could not properly convey the extent of her disillusionment at society as a whole.

She picked up the boy, took off her shoes, and ran back to the van. When she reached it, Piper beat on the door with her fist. Wilson threw the door open and almost fell backwards when he saw the kid.

 

"Ben, remember that promise I made you?" Piper was out of breath, and was starting to get dizzy.

 

"Yeah," Ben exaggerated the length of the pronunciation of the word to show his apprehension.

"Well, I'm going to have to break it. There's a bunch of men beating a woman to death. I don't know what the fight is about, but I'm about to end it."

Piper held out the baby to him and told him not to move.

 

Piper put the van in reverse, and swerved around.  She laid down on the gas and flew over the curb, not even bothering to exit the lot. Luckily, Ben had buckled himself in and had a firm grip on the kid. Wilson was rolling from one side of the van to the other, trying not to flip over.

 

"What the heck, Piper! What are you doing?" Wilson screamed.

 

"It finally happened, she's gone crazy." Ben put a hand on the dash to steady himself.

 

"No, but the rest of the world has." Piper grimaced and directed the speeding vehicle toward the mob. She dug her elbow into the horn. Wilson and Ben covered their ears, and Barry started to cry.

 

The men scattered at just the last second, and Piper slammed on the brakes. She backed up and chased them as they fled the scene. Ben tried to grab the wheel, but she slapped his hand away. The bumper of the van clipped one of them in the knee cap. They bounced as he was sucked under the wheels. Satisfied, Piper turned and headed for the staircase at full speed. People tapped and shoved each other out of the way. The ones on top ran and jumped over the railing.

 

The van bounded the stairs two at a time, jarring them out of their skin. It finally came to rest when it crashed through the glass doors of the police station. The airbag deployed, knocking Piper in the head. She felt like she had just been hit by a train. Her vision doubled, and swirled in circles.

 

Piper startled in her seat, and jerked her head to the right. Barry was clinging to Ben with all his might. She released a sigh of relief. Thankfully, the baby wasn't injured by her fit of rage.

 

They could see the officers approaching them, guns drawn.

 

"That's it, we're all dead!" Wilson screamed.

 

"What were you thinking?" Ben snapped, he tried to calm Barry down, but he was inconsolable.

 

"I had no choice. Something had to be done. No one else cared," Piper explained.

 

The door was yanked open and she was  arrested. They read her her rights, and slapped cuffs on her wrists. She was still delirious from the blow to the head, so she had trouble standing.

 

"Wait, you have to listen to me! There is a woman being beaten outside. That's her son in the passenger seat. I tried to get inside to tell you, but someone stopped me," Piper babbled.

 

"Show me," the officer said. He held her elbow and helped her step through the wreckage.

 

"Down there behind the fountain. Please hurry, I don't know if she's still alive or not," Piper pleaded.

 

He called for help, and the man behind him almost had a heart attack. "Well, never in all my years of service."

 

They rushed down the steps and spotted the woman immediately. The cuffs were removed, and she ran over to check on Barry's mother. There was blood in her hair and on the concrete. She was breathing at least. The sheriff removed his radio and called for an ambulance.

 

Now, she felt terrible for accusing the lady of abandonment. How the men could have done this to her with her son right there, was beyond her understanding. Wilson and Ben showed up behind her and helped her up. Ben had turned the child over to the police.

 

"This makes no sense. Why are we not all in jail?" Wilson asked her.

 

"The police are understaffed and unprepared for this much violence at once. They probably had no choice but to pick their battles. There is no backup. This city is under quarantine.  No doubt, they are just as unsure of how to handle things as we are," Piper said.

 

"You are one brave, and extraordinary woman," Ben flattered her.

 

"I just hope it was enough. She's in rough shape." Piper smiled thinly, but she looked worried to Ben.

 

"What if those were more men like that thing at the bank?" Wilson asked.

 

"Then God help us," Piper answered.

 

Sheriff Thompson walked over to question them. Before he could open his mouth, Piper started to talk.

 

"There is something I have to show you, officer. You know the shootout at the bank? Well, I was there and I know their weakness." Piper was excited and she spoke so quickly, that the officer had to ask her to repeat herself.

 

"I'm listening," he said.

 

"It's electricity. It fazed him, and I think he may have been vulnerable. You can see for yourself. " Piper opened an email on her phone and a video downloaded.

 

Piper tapped the screen impatiently when it buffered. The little swirling white circle was going to drive her mad. She was so close. If only the stupid thing would play. Finally it started, and Thompson watched with keen interest.

 

She was slightly embarrassed as she was upside-down and her clothes were trying to fall off. You never do get used to seeing yourself on film. Piper couldn't read his expression. It never changed. He was like a rock. When it was over, he nodded almost imperceptibly.

 

"I appreciate you bringing this to our attention. I will be sure to arm my men accordingly," Thompson assured her.

 

"Just doing my civic duty, sir." Piper replied modesty.

 

"Can you email me a copy of this?" He requested.

 

"Of course." She said.

 

Piper stayed there by the woman's side for what seemed like an eternity, until the paramedics showed up. They gently moved her onto the gurney, and wheeled her inside the vehicle.

 

"Can I ride with her to the hospital?" Piper called to the men.

 

"Yes, get in," one of them answered.

 

"If the van still works, we'll follow you there," Ben said.

 

Piper stuck her tongue out at him playfully.


 


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