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The tires of the old RV squealed around the turn.
Piper flew across the motor home, slamming hard into the door. "Zach, slow down!"
Of course her big brother didn't listen. What else was new? But this time he had an excuse. Driving the RV up the winding mountain road was tricky. Especially when people were chasing them.
Especially when those people wanted to kidnap their little brother.
Especially when they had guns.
He took another corner, throwing Piper the opposite direction. "Zach!"
He grinned, pushing aside his handsome black hair-handsome if you like haircuts that look like they were trimmed by a lawn mower.
Throwing a look out the back window, Piper saw the green van closing in.
She glanced at six-year-old Elijah. He was sound asleep. Although she loved him dearly, the kid was definitely odd. He seldom, if ever talked, but he always seemed to know things no one else did.
Then there were the miracles-healing a girl in the hospital, raising a puppy from the dead. Of course they tried to keep the stuff secret, but people always found out.
Which was probably why the bad guys were after them.
Which was probably why their parents had beenkidnapped and hidden in these mountains. Someone very evil was using them as bait. And Piper and Zach were the only ones who could save them.
"What if it's a trap?" Piper had asked as they started out on the journey. "What if Mom and Dad didn't send that message wanting us to rescue them?"
"Then it's a trap," Zach shrugged. "What other choice do we have?"
Of course he was right. It was just hard to remember little details like that when you were being thrown around a motor home like a human ping-pong ball.
They took another corner, faster and sharper than all the others.
* * *
The driver of the green van was a skinny guy by the name of Silas. He was shouting to his red-haired passenger, Monica. "Are you sure they're going to break down?"
"That's what Shadow Man said."
"Has he ever been wrong, before?" she asked.
"Then shut up and keep driving!" (Monica was not exactly the polite type).
A third voice called from the back. "Shadow Man-he's like my hero."
Silas and Monica rolled their eyes. They always rolled their eyes when Bruno spoke. He was a huge man with a tiny brain.
"Wanna know why?" he asked.
"Why?" Silas said.
"'Cause he brought me and Monica together."
Monica stole a look over her shoulder. As always, the man was all misty-eyed and ga-ga over her.
As always, she felt her stomach churn.
And, as always, she answered in her most pleasant screech. "Put a sock in it!"
"Yes, my sweets." He sighed dreamily. "Whatever you say."
* * *
The RV gave a loud clunk.
"Oh, no!" Piper cried "What's that?"
"I don't know." Zach pressed on the gas, but it did no good. CLUNK! CLUNK! They were definitely slowing.
"There's a gas station," Piper pointed to the right. "Pull in there."
"And just wait for those creeps to grab Eli?" Zach argued.
CLUNK! CLUNK! CLUNK!
Piper glanced to her little brother, who was now wide awake and looking out the side window. Not only looking, but grinning and waving.
Piper followed his gaze to the road. No one was there.
CLUNK! CLUNK! CLUNK! CLUNK! The engine finally stopped.
Zach dropped the RV into neutral and coasted the rest of the way into the station.
* * *
"LOOK OUT!" Monica screamed.
Silas looked up just in time to see an old hitchhiker standing in the middle of the road. He hit the brakes. They skidded out of control and swerved, barely missing the old man.
Now they slid toward the guardrail and a 200-foot drop-off.
Silas cranked the wheel hard, and the tires smoked ... until they hit the rail and bounced back onto the road.
"WHAT WERE YOU DOING?!" Monica demanded.
"I'm trying to keep us alive!"
"You almost got us killed!"
"I'm not the one standing in the middle of the road!"
"The old coot!" Monica looked back over her shoulder. "He could have gotten us all-" She stopped. "Wait a minute, where did he go?"
Silas glanced into the mirror. Try as he might, he could not see the old man.
"Did we, uh, squash him?" Bruno asked.
"I don't think so." Silas started to slow.
"What are you doing now?" Monica said.
"We better go back and check."
"We're not checking anything!"
"If he wants to get hit, that's his business. We got some brats to catch!" Monica turned back to the RV in front of them. There was only one problem.
"Where is it?" she asked.
Silas searched the road before them and saw the same thing.
The motor home they'd been chasing all this time was nowhere to be seen. "Where'd it go?" Bruno asked.
"I don't know." Silas frowned. "They were right in front of us a second ago."
"Well step on it!" Monica shouted. "Don't let them get away!"
* * *
"Did you see that?" Zach asked. He watched as the green van continued up the highway, passing them and the gas station.
"They didn't even see us!" Piper said. "They were too busy swerving and skidding."
Zach searched the road. "I wonder why."
"Maybe they were trying to miss a deer or something."
Zach shook his head. "No, there was nothing there." He glanced into the mirror to see Elijah sitting in his seat smiling back at him.
Piper spotted him too. "Looks like the little guy knows something we don't."
Zach nodded and let out a weary sigh. "So what else is new?"
* * *
Mom and Dad sat chained to opposite walls in the cold, dark room.
"How are you holding up?" Dad asked. His voice was hoarse and cracked from lack of water.
"I just can't stop thinking about the kids," Mom said.
He heard the worry in her voice and nodded. "We just have to ..." He swallowed back the emotion in his voice and tried again. "We just have to be strong."
Outside, there was the rattling of keys. The door creaked open, and a guard just slightly smaller than a semitruck entered the room. "Time to see the boss," he grunted as he stooped to unlock their chains.
"Please ..." Mom's voice quivered. "Not again. There's nothing we can tell him."
"It'll be all right," Dad said. But inside he didn't believe it for a second.
"I just can't face him." Mom began to cry. "The way he burrows into my thoughts with those awful eyes."
"Stop your whining." The guard hoisted each of them to their feet. "It'll be over soon enough." He pushed them into the dimly lit hall. "If you're lucky."
Excerpted from The Enemy Closes In by Bill Myers James Riordan Copyright © 2009 by Bill Myers. Excerpted by permission.
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Posted September 8, 2013
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