Alison, David and T stared in horror as the screaming stand-in was hoisted skyward on what seemed like invisible strings. Alison shot the burning yo-yo up into the air.
"Kick out!" she shouted to Heather. "High as you can!" The yo-yo soared toward the ceiling, following the ninja and his petrified captive. Heather heard Alison's command. She kicked both legs up past her head. The yo-yo slammed straight into the ninja's crotch, setting it alight. From beneath the mask came a pained, high-pitched moan of pain. David and T both winced in silent empathy. Then the ninja let go of Heather. David and T ran to the nearest car and dragged out the seats.
Heather continued screaming as she saw the ground rushing to meet her. With amazing timing, David and T managed to position the seats at the exact spot where they would cushion her fall. Heather collapsed into the car seat, spraying foam stuffing all over the garage. For a moment, she was still and silent. Then she gasped, "I hate Treasure Spinney. Being her stand-in is the worst job in the world. She's mean and spoiled and she doesn't care about anyone else. I wish it had been her that got kidnapped!"
T and David looked mystified. They both said "Stand-in?"
David looked outraged. "We wasted the gadget on a stand-in?"
Alison was about to explain Heather's circumstances when a harsh, Belgian-accented voice echoed around the garage.
"Step away from the star!"
Alison, David and T looked up and saw Heather's kidnapper. The kingpin who had masterminded the entire abduction was walking towards them, gun in hand.
"Nice hair," remarked Alison of the crime boss's well-kept mane.
The kingpin acknowledged the compliment. "Nice hands," he said to Alison. "But I bet I can put at least one bullet into at least one of your boyfriends before you get to me."
Alison was about to explain that only one of the boys was actually her boyfriend. But then she worried that David might be a little sensitive about the way things had turned out. He never said anything, but she sometimes thought she saw a wistful look in his eyes.
With a wave of his gun, the crime boss gestured for Alison, David and T to move away from Heather.
David shook his head scornfully at the villain. "You're not in Antwerp anymore, buddy. This is the USA. We expect a certain degree of ingenuity from our criminal masterminds. Snatching a stand-in on your first big job is not gonna do wonders for your reputation."
The kingpin's face clouded. A brief burst of uncertainty. Stand-in? David saw the moment of weakness. "Blast him," he yelled at Alison. "He's not gonna shoot us."
"Yes, he is," said the kingpin, suddenly aware he had nothing left to lose. He took aim straight between T's eyes and got ready to pull the trigger.
Alison pointed her fingers directly at the kingpin's face. Could she get him before he got T?
I hate standoffs, she thought, bitterly.
Last bit tomorrow!