Chapter 3: If A Question Cannot Be Answered

Bryce and his classmates lie unable to observe their captors. They listened to the men speaking in Urdu, gruff voices snarling and snapping words they could not understand.

A sudden spray of bullets rang out, followed by a deathly silence.

Jenny whimpered loudly, fearing that the killing had begun.

Bryce kicked the ground once, hoping she would be relieved that at least one of her classmates was still alive.

Another gunshot went off and Bryce let out a scream as the bullet pierced the back of his knee. Bryce didn't hear Jenny react. He wondered if she was either unconscious or dead.

Jenny had heard everything. But not clearly. Slipping into shock, she heard everything as if she were underwater. She wanted to answer, but her brain felt sluggish and refused to make her mouth cooperate.

Cheviot slammed his fist down on the board room table. He called the security office and a maternally plump woman's face appeared on screen.

"Mr. Cheviot," she began.

"Dispense with the pleasantries," Cheviot said. "Bryce Lynch and his classmates are trapped in a hostage situation at ACS. We just got a ticker-tape demand from the terrorists. We cannot read it. Can your team extract the message from call logs?"

"I don't know. We may have to write it out by hand."

"It's not in English," Cheviot warned.

"Mr. Bowman able to do it," the security head suggested. "He's got a degree in art."

"Tell him it's very important that he get it exactly right," Cheviot told her. "We need to get it translated quickly."

"I hate waiting like this," Edison told Murray. "I want to be out there, doing something. Bryce is in serious danger! We don't even know if he's still alive!"

"They're not going to kill anyone without broadcasting it," Murray told him. "We have to wait until we get a copy of the demand message to translate."

"But why write it in a foreign alphabet in the first place?" Theora asked.

"Maybe they want us to fail?" Murray suggested.

Theora's and Edison exchanged horrified looks.

If that was true. If the terrorists were making unfulfillable demands…

"We have to find a way to free those kids," Edison said as he got to his feet and made for the door. "Maybe we could…"

"No," Murray said, firmly. "All they'd need to do is leave one gunman in the room and Bryce and his classmates would be dead in seconds."

"They're going to be dead anyhow in a few hours if we don't figure out something soon." Edison exclaimed.

"He's right, Murray," Theora said. "We can't just do nothing."

"We'll go to Big Time," Edison said. "We can get Reg and Dom to help. Rik's probably already told them what happened.

Murray nodded with a reluctant expression on his face. "I'll stay here in case Cheviot gets any updates. You and Theora head to Big Time."

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