Tuesday July 5th 2022

Keep citizen journalism alive!




by Patrick Cabello Hansel

Either by sure force of luck or Divine Providence, little Angel’s phone call to 911 coincided with a massive blackout for the entire neighborhood of Phillips. The hospitals and fire station automatically switched to backup, but houses, stores and the garage numbered 2647 were plunged into instant darkness. The garage, where Brian Fleming was holding our little family hostage, was plunged into total chaos.

The lights in the basement went out immediately, emergency lights and piercing alarms came on. Upstairs, they could hear people cursing and moving around, bumping into furniture. Only the space behind the steel door that Brian was leading Luz through was illuminated: the central nervous system of the whole operation, where money and lives were manipulated through the dark web.

Brian had installed huge, sophisticated batteries in a sub basement dug deep into the ground. They would keep the servers and computers running for a long time. He didn’t care about the sex workers on the second floor of the huge garage; he only cared about the students learning on the first floor if they helped him get more funding. But he cared about his money. He cared about the golden machine of greed and fear he had built.

Then, either by sure force of luck or Divine Providence (or most likely by the effect of basic run-of-the-mill stupidity), a group of boys on the block decided that a blackout would be a great time to shoot off fireworks they had leftover. Big ones. Faulty ones. One landed near the back of the garage and started a fire. A neighbor called 911—the second call in less than 5 minutes—and soon multiple sirens came calling.

Brian and his crew were distracted enough that they didn’t notice 4-year-old Angelito talking on the phone. Who could a four-year-old be talking with, anyway? But the boy, incredibly calm in the midst of pandemonium, kept telling the 911 operator: “they’ve taken my sister…we’re in a big garage at 2647…yes, 2647…my daddy says it’s between 17th and 18th…yes, my mom is here, but she’s being bothered by a bad man…”  And on and on.

So as the fire grew, and the smoke began to seep into the basement through the vents needed to keep the servers from overheating, and the sirens grew closer, Brian Fleming had to make a choice. If he took only Luz with him, Angel and his son would tell the police what was going on. If he took the whole family, who would guard his varied treasures?

There was not a lot of time to think. Brian pulled out a gun and yelled at the family: “You are coming with me, into the tunnel!”

And by sure force of luck or Divine Providence, or the blessing of a young boy’s spirit, little Angelito kept the phone turned on, as they moved into a tunnel that appeared out of nowhere.

To be continued…

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