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What If: Maxwell Style

By Danielle Maxwell

 

The town was going to the dogs, and his job was up for grabs. Things weren't going well. To top it all off, people were getting hurt. Innocent bystanders, along with those that wanted justice to come. This made his confession of forgiveness to Richard Maxwell all the more enriching.

 

The hospital was buzzing. Dr. Blackgaard had been admitted when he'd fainted at his rally. The press was swarming everywhere. But they hadn't noticed Tom. It was a relief. He'd reached the elevator, stepped in, and sighed as the doors closed, waiting the short ride to the third floor.

 

It was a short walk to the room. Richard had been moved after any immediate sense of danger had passed. He just needed to rest and heal. His plummet down the cliff had done a number on his body. A wrist was broken, a few ribs broken, two others fractured, scratches that would leave scars, and a broken thumb. There was a number of problems.

 

Tom entered the room only to find it empty. Someone had been there before, but no one was to be found. The bathroom door was open, the light off. "Richard?"

 

****

 

Dr. Blackgaard stepped into the tunnel, breathing in the fresh dirt smell, the smell of his mineral. His mineral. Oh, it was an amazing feeling! But even more amazing was that he'd gotten what he'd come for. Now it was time to blow the place to smithereens and head out. He stepped to a hidden shelf, grabbing a detonator and strung the wire out. It had been placed earlier. All he had to do was head for the hatch in the woods.

 

"Gonna blow up Whit's End, eh?"

 

The voice stopped Dr. Blackgaard in his tracks. He'd been sworn to by Jellyfish that he was dead. What were the words he'd said? "He was good and dead, I promise." The lie echoed in his mind, anger boiling in his gut. More at Jellyfish, but either way, he had a big problem on his hands.

 

"Thought I was dead, right? Think again."

 

Dr. Blackgaard, spun, one hand on the detonator, the other reaching for his back pocket. Amazingly, he had a gun of his own.

 

Richard Maxwell looked grim. His eyes looked tired, but his chest still rose and fell. His heart still beat. He was still in the flesh. His face held a permanent look of cringing from the ribs that hurt and moved as he breathed in and out. His right arm had a cast while his left hand held it, his thumb and pointer finger taped together. He was dressed in street clothes and his hair was uncombed.

 

"Well, well, if it isn't Richard Maxwell. Back from the dead I see. Just not so complying to my orders, now are we?"

 

Richard just blinked, unmoved, unwavering.

 

"What is this, the third time you've escaped me? Can I ever get rid of you?","I'm not here to save Whit's End. I'm here to make sure you get what you deserve."

 

Dr. Blackgaard chuckled, highly amused at the audacity of such a young man. "Really? And what would that be? Death? You always have been one of the slow ones, haven't you?"

 

Richard took one step forward, his three free fingers on his left hand curling into a fist.

 

"Ah, ah," Dr. Blackgaard warned, pulling a hand from his back, a gun appearing. "I'm not sure how Jellyfish claimed your death, but I'm pretty sure now you will go down? whether in pieces or dead before being blown to pieces. Your choice."

 

Richard didn't move, cringing worse as his ribs didn't stop their aching. He heard the faint sounds of police sirens, realizing that if he held off long enough, someone would find them. Maybe he wouldn't have to sacrifice a life to prove a point. Or? or he could finally turn Blackgaard in.

 

"I realize you think I'm deaf, so to make things painstakingly clear: those sirens will never find us. Those cops will never reach this tunnel before I push this detonator and take us both down."

 

"I'm not afraid to die," Richard attempted to look defiant, but the look was lost as his eyes blurred. Darn the cliff that had given him his handicaps.

 

"Somehow, I wonder how you lived escaping Jellyfish. You look on the verge of death right about now," Dr. Blackgaard sneered, taking two steps before he watched Richard fall to his knees, an uncertain look in his eyes.

 

"I jumped off a cliff," he said, wondering why he felt so tired.

 

"A cliff? And Jellyfish can still claim your death? I highly doubt both of you right about now," Dr. Blackgaard argued, shoving the barrel of the gun into Richard's forehead. He cocked the gun, waiting.

 

"I don't go down without a fight?" Richard murmured, unable to breathe without clenching what little of his hand he could.

 

An echoing gunshot filled the tunnel. But Richard blinked, realizing it was not Blackgaard's.

 

Dr. Blackgaard aimed for the tunnel's entrance into the woods, eyes narrowed. All he saw was a black wall, but someone was behind it, hiding. "Say goodbye!" he yelled, slamming the detonator down. It was just a deafening boom from there.

 

****

 

Tom scrambled out of the car, realizing by a fraction of the second he knew exactly what had happened to Maxwell. Others swarmed the place, trying to get a hold on the situation.

 

Jack was heading for the tunnel, Jason right behind him, when Lieutenant Shaw stopped them.

 

"We don't know who's down there. We have to secure the perimeter."

 

"I know who's down there," breathed Tom, rushing up to the three. "Its Richard and Blackgaard."

 

"We have to get down there," Jason argued, knowing time was of the essence. He didn't know what was taking place down there.

 

"I'm going in. I'm safe. You three gotta stay put," Shaw ordered, giving in, but demanding at the same time.

 

Tom didn't like the idea. He was worried.

 

Lieutenant Shaw headed for the tunnel, expecting to find quiet. But when he slipped into the tunnel, he heard talking. He quietly looked beyond the black space he was snuggled in and saw Dr. Blackgaard standing over a kneeling? who? Shaw thought, unsure. He silently got out his gun, realizing Blackgaard was tempted to take the figure out execution style. He aimed and shot at the beam right and front of Blackgaard's head. Blackgaard spun, aiming at an unknown suspect.

 

"Say goodbye," he cried before Shaw felt a blast of heat.

 

Dr. Blackgaard blew up the tunnel.

 

****

 

The deafening boom stunned Tom. Beside him Jason had already started running for the destroyed tunnel. There were more than just two in that tunnel. Jack was on his knees, doing the only thing he knew how: sinking into deep prayer.

 

Tom just stood there, shocked. The tunnel had blown up. And then it hit him.

 

"Oh my word!" he cried, praying at the same time as he ran, trying to catch up with Jason, who had headed for the hatch in the woods that led into the tunnel.

 

Jason reached the hatch before Tom, seeing the hatch being struggled to open. Someone was attempting to get out. Jason ran to it, throwing it open. Lieutenant Shaw looked out, a weight keeping his right arm from helping. He had dirt smeared around his face, but he looked to be uninjured. A miracle, if at that.

 

"The explosives weren't set right. It only collapsed half the tunnel. I managed to find him before anymore fell," Shaw managed to say right as the rest of the tunnel that had been standing caved in. Jason reached two hands in, Shaw attempting to hand up the human form. Richard was out like a light, looking no worse for wear then what he'd been like in the hospital. It was a God-given miracle both of them had lived. No one knew about Dr. Blackgaard.

 

Jason lugged Richard to the ground where Tom came to a screeching halt, falling to his knees at his side. Jason gave two hands to Shaw, helping him out.

 

"I didn't see much. I don't know what happened to Dr. Blackgaard," Shaw said, dusting off his pants. A few rips and tears, but he was all right.

 

Jack walked up, a frown upon his face. "No Blackgaard?"

 

Jason and Shaw shook their heads, unsure how to tell Jack that is was a good possibility he didn't make it.

 

"Just be glad only one life was lost," Tom said.

 

"Ugh?" Richard moaned, stirring. He slowly opened his eyes to a bright world. He was quickly aware that Tom was at his side, Jason, Jack, and a cop surrounding where he lay flat on his back on the ground. But he soon came to the realization that he hadn't gotten the justice he wanted. Blackgaard was dead. He shut his eyes, wishing to be lost to the world at that moment.

 

****

 

"Richard," Tom tried to convince him, but it wasn't working.

 

"Go away."

 

Tom sighed. Richard had been sitting against a tree, refusing medical help, refusing to talk. He'd managed to stand up, but he shrugged everyone off. Now he just didn't want to talk. He didn't want to be bothered. Tom had no clue what was wrong.

 

"You can't do this all day. You shouldn't even be out of the hospital," Tom threatened, hoping to make some headway. Jack and Jason had to deal with other stuff, so Tom had been given the job to get Richard to talk. To make some sense of what went on down there.

 

Richard just gave him a dark look before glancing away.

 

"Richard, you have to tell me what went on down there. Forget medical attention. What is making you so quiet?" Tom sat, staring determinedly at Richard's turned head.

 

He was stubborn. But he knew that he had to tell. It just hurt to think the justice he'd wanted was gone? he would never get it. He looked at his bandaged fingers, wondering why, why he'd managed to live an explosion that should have taken him down... in pieces.

 

"I went to stop Blackgaard from escaping with his crimes. I wanted him to confess. I wanted him turned in. But that didn't happen. I was weak and weary; he managed to wrangle me in, enough that if that cop hadn't fired a warning shot, I wouldn't be here right now. I? I wanted justice. He's skirted around every law and done horrid things that should be dealt with. I wanted him to come clean. But he would never relent. Now I'm still here, contrary to what Blackgaard wanted, and I haven't gained the justice I wanted.

 

"I've paid for my crimes. I just wanted him to have that feeling? of regret, dismay, of knowing what you've done."

 

Tom was quiet. Richard didn't believe in God, heaven, or hell. Would he accept that the evilness within Dr. Blackgaard's heart was the justice to know that he'd gone to his rightful place?

 

"I don't have all the answers, but what would you say if Dr. Blackgaard got his own justice?"

 

He sighed, glancing over at Tom. What justice was there when Blackgaard was dead? "I'd say it has something to do with being a Christian, right?"

 

"Yes, it deals with what I know to believe. He lived his life without Christ. His own justice is living in hell forever more. I can't say I feel what Jack does when it comes to the loss that Dr. Blackgaard didn't give his heart, but I know that the decisions made today will affect tomorrow. He made his choice. He gets to suffer the consequences."

 

"I don't see that as justice," Richard said.

 

"I didn't think you would. But telling you is worth something. Maybe thinking about it would do some good. Do you think you'd let an EMT look you over now and telling the cops what happened?" Tom stood up, waiting.

 

Richard looked at his hands again. He felt fine.

 

"I think I'm good on the physical side. If I have to tell the cop what happened down there, I can."

 

"What about what happened with Jellyfish and Bovril?"

 

"No. I don't care to discuss that," he murmured, his eyes narrowed.

 

"Mind telling me what happened then?"

 

"No," Richard said as he stood up.

 

Tom didn't push it. Rodney confessed what he knew, and even though Jellyfish was claiming all innocence, with what good that did him, Tom could fill in the blanks.

 

"Come on, you have some explaining to do."


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