Despite her desire to keep this affair out of the hands of the police, the moment someone shot at them, Rose knew that she would have no choice but to call them in. And not just Sergeant Hood. They were going to need more help than that. Still, it would probably easier to explain this mess to Sergeant Hood than to some underpaid emergency services operator. The sergeant could then decided who else to inform. Suppressing a sigh, she dialed his number on her mobile.
The call was answered almost immediately by Hood who sounded none too pleased.
"You know, I do have actual work to do," he groused, "but..."
"We need your help," Rose interrupted him.
"Not that I don't sympathize with your husband, given recent events, but what mess did Mal get himself into this time?"
"A big one," Rose confessed and gave Hood a brief summary of the events of the day, including what she and Des had found out.
Hood gave a low whistle once she'd finished, but then he was right back to business. "Are you and Des all right?"
"Yes, but we're pinned down behind the car," Rose related.
"Stay there, I'll have some units sent your way."
"Better tell them to be careful. The police showing up could send Richter over the edge."
"Got it," Hood replied. "Listen, I gotta make some calls, I'll get back in touch later. You just stay where you are and don't try anything." With that the sergeant hung up.
Mal had been lost in less than pleasant ruminations which had included a mental assessment of his injuries, when he noticed that Melanie had stopped crying. Putting aside the question of whether his aching ribs were cracked or broken, Mal decided to once more try and assess his, or rather their, situation. Whoever had tossed him down, what felt like at least one flight of stairs, had taken the time to tie him up first. It wasn't the first time Mal had found himself tied up, so it didn't take him long to realize that bonds were not only uncomfortably tight, but also expertly tied. Mal very much doubted that he would be able to extricate himself. Not without help, at least and the only person who could help him had no reason whatsoever to trust him. Mal could only guess what Richter has been doing to her or for how long she had been a prisoner in this hole.
"Melanie?" Mal tried.
"Yes?" Mal was surprised to hear the tentative answer.
"Melanie, I'm not going to hurt you, I promise. I will do anything I can to get you back home to your parents, but I'm going to need your help."
"I'm scared," the girl whispered, sniffling.
"I know," Mal said quietly. "I'm scared, too."
Mal secretly wondered how much truth there was to his words. Sure, they were intended to reassure the girl and gain her trust, but he couldn't deny that the situation looked more than a little bleak. There was a very real chance that neither of them would get out of this alive. If Meyers' actions that morning where any indication, he wouldn't hesitate to kill them, especially if he felt cornered in any way. Best case scenario, Meyers would simply take off and leave them here to their fate. There was a reasonable chance that someone would find them before they died of thirst. On the other hand, if Meyers had any sense, he would get rid of the witnesses first and then get the hell out of here.
Mal forced himself to focus his thoughts back on the task at hand. "But you know, as long as there is something you can do about it, it really isn't that scary at all," Mal all but lied. He doubted that there was a happy ending in sight for him or Melanie, but he would be damned if he went quietly.
"There is nothing you can do!" the girl exclaimed, sounding, once again, close to tears.
"Maybe, but if you help untie me, there might be something I can do."
There was a long pause. Then Mal heard the sound someone moving in the darkness.
"Just move toward my voice," he instructed.
It took a while, but soon Mal felt a small hand brush up against his thigh.
"That's it!" Mal twisted his back and arms so that his wrists were facing Melanie's approximate position.
Hood had not been kidding when he'd said he was going to make some calls, Rose thought wryly as what looked like a small army of police cars made their way along the access road. At least they were keeping the sirens off, but still, it would be a miracle if Richter hadn't already noticed them, too. The only question was, what was Richter going to do about it. From what Rose had seen firsthand of him, he didn't seem the type who would just surrender peacefully. Rather, she was afraid that with all the police officers here, the whole thing would turn into a dangerous stand-off that might just get her husband killed.
Her suspicions were all but confirmed when a new volley of shots rang out from the direction of one of the cottage's windows. Several of the bullets hit Jake's car, who would probably never forgive her for getting his car shot to pieces. No sooner had she thought it,she remembered that Jake didn't even recall his own family, much less his beloved car. Any chastisement however was pushed from her mind, when she her cell phone rang.
"Rose, it's Sergeant Hood. I'm here with Inspector Mason. He'll be heading this operation. I told him what you told me. He wants to talk to you."
"Mrs Doyle, this is Inspector Mason speaking. Are you two unharmed?"
"So far, yes," Rose confirmed with a side look at Des who seemed to be on the verge of shock. He had his arms wrapped around himself and appeared to be staring vacantly into space. She herself didn't feel all that great herself. Her head ached fiercely, she still felt vaguely nauseous and dizzy, plus she was sure that if she weren't currently sitting on the ground, propped upright against the GTO, she would probably not be able to keep upright for more than a few seconds.
"That's good to hear. I've had one of my people check into this fellow Meyers and it appears you are right, he is the son of convicted murderer Douglas Richter. Our crime scene technicians were able to link one of his weapons to the murders of Corinne Dawson, Dr. Ruben Hodges and Janet Nash as well as to the attack on you earlier today. We will try and persuade Richter to give himself up, but to be honest, I see little chance of that happening given his history. If he doesn't surrender at once, I'll send officers to get you two out of there. So whatever you do, just stay put."
"I understand," Rose answered and ended the call. She closed her eyes, trying to settle her stomach. It wasn't just the concussion that was making her feel queasy, the fear for Mal's life sat in her belly like a lead brick.
While Melanie was working on trying to remove the bindings from Mal's wrists, Mal was listening closely for any sounds of activity from above. A few minutes ago, he had heard another series of gunshots. There had been no sirens, so he doubted that the police were there. And even if they were, their presence might just make their situation worse. It could send Meyers' over the edge and then there would be no telling what he was going to do. If there was one thing Mal had learned during his years on the force, it was that people who had nothing left to lose were the most dangerous. Right now, all he could hear were rapid footsteps from above. It sounded like someone pacing, probably Meyers trying to figure out what to do with them.
Mal experimentally wriggled his wrists, partly to see if he could free himself and partly to keep blood flowing to his fingers which were already numb. As soon as he had started moving, Melanie shrunk back.
"You're doing good!" he encouraged, "Just a little more."
Above, a phone started to ring. At first, Mal thought Meyers wasn't going to pick up as more than a minute passed in his estimation and the phone kept on ringing. Mal had a pretty good idea who was calling. Between the persistence of the caller and the earlier gunshots, he suspected that the police had somehow gotten wise to what was going on and was now trying to convince Meyers to give himself up. Mal wasn't sure whether the arrival of the police was a good thing for them or not. It certainly increased their chances of getting out of this hole, but whether they would live to see it was another question entirely.