The Stought Brothers: ‘The Mystery at the Market’ – Chapter 10
A BarbWire Exclusive Fiction Short Story Series…
Here is the tenth and final serial installment of the middle grade (ages 8-12) story, The Stought Brothers: “The Mystery at the Market.”
This was an interesting experiment. I am pleased with some of it and see plenty of room for improvements with other parts of it. Thank you to all who read.
Click on the “The Stought Brothers” tag at the bottom of the post to view all the chapters of, The Stought Brothers: “The Mystery at the Market.”
The Stought Brothers: “The Mystery at the Market”
By Gunner B. Summit
“We have to get out of here!” Heathcliff said.
“Wait a minute,” Reggie said. “Where’s the gun Rasheed had?”
“He must have lost it or dropped it inside the fence,” Dan said.
“So what?” Heathcliff said. “He’s still a terrorist and it’s not our job to stop him.”
“What if he gets away and hurts someone else? Or what if Al-Sayf has a backup plan to attack the hospital? Don’t we want to find that out?” Reggie asked.
“Rasheed will be able to tell us,” Dan said.
Rasheed kept moving towards them. His limping slowed him down but even still he was almost at the edge of the abandoned park where the boys were hiding.
“So do you want us to do?” Heathcliff asked.
“Move out of the way,” Reggie said to his younger brother. He pulled him away from the right edge of the building ruins, pushing him more towards the center of the wall. “I’m going to grab him when he comes by. You guys help me hold him down,” he said to Heathcliff and Dan.
Heathcliff stared hard at him and raised his hands in silent objection. Dan, meanwhile, nodded his approval.
Rasheed kept coming towards them. But he slightly changed direction. Now he was headed towards the left side of the wall. Reggie moved, pushing Heathcliff out of his way as he went towards the side of the wall where Rasheed was heading. Dan followed him. Heathcliff stayed third in line.
Rasheed was close enough that they could hear his feet crunching on dead leaves and undergrowth. He was breathing heavy too. The beat up, cinder block wall was high enough that it could cover the boys from Rasheed’s view even if they stood straight up. But Reggie crouched low near the edge. Dan waited close behind, bent over and ready to spring into action. And Heathcliff bent over just slightly, waiting to follow the other two boys.
Finally, Rasheed passed the corner where the boys waited for him. Reggie pushed off from his position. He stayed low and tackled the terrorist at his waist.
Rasheed screamed as Reggie plowed him into the ground. The older Stought brother landed on top of wounds in the Rasheed’s leg and arm. And then the boy and man started struggling. Reggie was in top shape for a high school senior. But even with that factor and his opponent greatly handicapped with injuries, the boy was no match for the full-grown man.
Rasheed wrestled Reggie off him and then begin punching him, with a few blows landing on his face and a few to his body. He would have landed more. But Dan jumped in and changed the advantage of the fight.
Now the three of them struggled. Dan was trying to grab Rasheed’s wrists so he couldn’t punch Reggie any longer. Reggie was trying to push Rasheed off him.
And then Heathcliff rushed in to help.
Reggie was now able to position himself so he straddled Rasheed, holding him down on his back. Dan held one of his arms and Heathcliff held the other. “Stop fighting!” Reggie told Rasheed.
Rasheed spat at him and fought harder. His struggling started to throw Reggie off balance, threatening to topple him off him. Heathcliff steadied his brother and then punched Rasheed right in the wound in his arm. Rasheed screamed. He flinched in Heathcliff’s direction but the boys held him.
Heathcliff punched him in the wound again. Rasheed screamed again. And then Dan punched him twice in the face.
Those blows stunned Rasheed and he almost ceased struggling. The boys could now hear the police rushing from the empty lot towards them.
“Over here!” Heathcliff yelled. He yelled a second time, letting go of Rasheed’s arm with one of his hands just long enough to wave in the air.
Five Lagos police officers reached the boys. Many others were still back near the VBIED and the empty lot with the fence around it. They were making sure no one was in the area. They made an ever-enlarging perimeter around it as they confirmed people weren’t nearby.
The police officers ordered the boys off Rasheed and then they took control of the situation. Officer Wiwa led them.
“Are you boys okay?” he asked them. They said they were. “You shouldn’t have gotten involved,” he then told them. They said nothing. “But good job in getting him,” he added with a smile.
The police were checking Rasheed for any additional weapons. Their colleagues back at the VBIED continued working, now having cleared a 100 meter perimeter around it. Reggie, Heathcliff, and Dan were standing back and watching it all. They were still filled with excitement at what just happened.
And then a deafening explosion sounded and everything shook around them, knocking the boys and police officers to the ground. The VBIED had detonated.
It took about 30 minutes for the chaos to subside and the police to verify that everyone was okay. Other police and government authorities were arriving on the scene. No one was injured. The cordon the Lagos police had set up had worked. The blast was tremendous. In fact, it was so big it was a miracle that no one was hurt.
The minimum distance to be away from a VBIED to ensure safety was 500 meters. The Lagos police hadn’t had the time to get everyone that far away. But their efforts in getting everyone as far back as they could did the job.
“It’s a good thing you decided to run,” Officer Wiwa said to the terrorist as the police returned their attention to him. “Or else you would have been killed.”
“But how?” Rasheed asked. The police had his hands handcuffed behind his backs. He was sweating and dirty as they led him to a police car. They stood him near the trunk of the car and started providing first aid to his wounds. “I have the radio with me that I was going to use to detonate it once I was safely away from it at the hospital,” Rasheed continued. The police had already found that handheld radio and removed it from one of his pockets.
“Looks like your comrades had other ideas,” Reggie said. The three boys stood nearby and watched the police bandage and wrap his wounds.
“But why did they blow it up now?” Dan asked.
Everyone looked at Rasheed. He seemed confused at first but then his face lit up. “The GPS they gave me,” he said.
“What do you mean?” Heathcliff asked.
“Al-Sayf gave me a GPS tracking device. They said it was so they could watch where I was in case I didn’t make it to the hospital. They said they would send people to help me if I didn’t,” Rasheed told them. He grimaced as one of the police officers pulled the bandage tight over his arm. “But they were lying. They must have rigged the VBIED with another switch to detonate it remotely. Once they saw the VBIED was no longer moving, they must have known the authorities got me. And they decided they’d blow it up here to kill as many people as possible—including me.”
“Guess you chose to side with the wrong people,” Officer Wiwa said.
“I guess I did,” Rasheed admitted.
“Why don’t you tell us all about them when we reach the police station,” Officer Wiwa said.
“I think I will,” Rasheed said.
The Lagos police got a lot of information from Rasheed about Al-Sayf and its leader Ahmed Al-Majid. They passed that information to other government authorities. And the national government began planning to go after them.
Meanwhile, once the staff of the Lagos Tranquility General Hospital received word that it was safe, they moved all the patients back into the hospital. (They had moved the patients to several other hospitals in the city during the evacuation.)
Geoffrey Stought was able to perform the operation for which Dr. Ugo had brought him to Nigeria. Dr. Ugo and other doctors observed it, with Geoffrey explaining what he was doing and even allowing some of the doctors to perform parts of the surgery under his guidance.
The operation was a success. The patient would heal. And the Lagos doctors now had valuable new knowledge and skills they could use and share.
“I hope you and your family have safe travels,” Dan told the Stought brothers. “I wish you could stay longer.”
“Really? I thought you’d be glad to see us go after we got into two fights with the same terrorist and almost got killed,” Heathcliff said.
Dan laughed. “Are you kidding? That was the most exciting day of my life! Now it’s back to my boring routine.”
Reggie and Heathcliff laughed with him.
“We’re glad we met you, Dan,” Reggie said to him. “And again, I’m sorry about how I behaved with my phone. I never should have done that.”
“Come on, Reggie, forget about it,” Dan said. “It’s ancient history. Besides,” he added as he reached into his pants pocket, “I don’t have to be jealous of it any longer. I just got the latest phone, which means I have to be careful about showing it off to you.”
Reggie, Heathcliff, and Dan laughed again. And they said they’d keep in touch when it was time for the Stought brothers to leave.
They and their family would travel to another country. And maybe they’d have other adventures there too.
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