Travis recovered quickly. It felt like his nose was broken, but he was still conscious, and now he was pissed. Those two had stolen his story! Well, he’d get it back, that was for sure.
Bending over, he helped Dan get to his feet. The photographer was gasping, but looked all right. At that moment Ike returned, having stopped fleeing as soon as he realized he wasn’t being pursued. “Are you guys okay?” he asked quickly.
“Yeah,” Travis answered. “Where’d they go?”
“Elevators,” Ike answered.
“Come on,” Travis insisted, holding his nose to stop the bleeding. “You know how slow those things are. Let’s get to the stairs, maybe we can catch up.”
They raced down the four floors to the ground level, emerging just in time to see Dave and Kyle exit through the building’s side door. Parked in front of the building was an ancient-looking Chevy Nova. “We have got to get better security for this place,” Travis muttered, hurrying to the van.
“Don’t look now, we’ve got a tail,” said Dave, looking in the rear view mirror. A Citizen’s Reporter panel van was behind them, growing uncomfortably close.
“What do we do now?” asked Kyle worriedly. “Can she cast a spell on them or something?”
“I cannot,” she replied quickly. “My magic is weak here, away from the land.”
“Then that’s where we have to get you,” Dave said at once. “Quick, Kyle, what’s the fastest way to get to Central Park from here?”
“Now what, boss?” asked Dan. He had pulled the van up behind Dave’s Nova, ensuring he wouldn’t lose it at a light, but refused to get any closer.
“Just follow them,” Travis answered. “Don’t do anything illegal. Besides, if you run them off the road, the fairy might get hurt. Anyway, I’ve got a better idea.”
He took out a cell phone, punched up a number on his speed dial, and waited. After a moment it rang, and a voice answered, “Detective Lynch, NYPD.”
“Chuck, it’s me, Travis Hellerman,” Travis replied.
“Is that really you?” The voice sounded doubtful. “You sound funny.”
“Yeah, my nose is seriously messed up. Forget that for now. I need your help on something.”
“What is it now? UFOs?” Chuck laughed.
“No, much better than that,” answered Travis, “but I don’t have time to explain. I’m chasing after a couple of guys in a red Nova, license plate 6G7 R84, New York. We’re on Broadway, heading south. No, wait, we just turned left on 79th.”
The voice on the phone became annoyed. “What, you want me to stop them on your say-so? I’m not your personal enforcer, Mister Hellerman.”
“Come on, Chuck, you owe me for that First National tip,” Travis insisted. “Look, I’ll swear out a complaint. These two broke into my office, beat up my associates, broke my nose, and stole my property.”
Chuck sighed. “All right, I’ll put in the call. Do you know where they’re going?”
“I don’t know,” Travis answered, but after a moment he realized there was only one possible destination. “Yeah, on second thought, I think I do. It has to be Central Park.”
They turned right on Central Park West and sped along, looking for a parking spot. The park was to their left, and they could stop at any time, but the van was right behind them. If Tilly’s wings hadn’t been damaged, she could have just flown away at any time, and that would have been that.
Ahead, the light changed red, and Dave unconsciously began to slow down. As he did, police sirens suddenly sounded from the cross street. Panicking, he floored the accelerator, racing through the intersection as Kyle shouted in protest. Both the police car and the van followed closely behind.
“What now?” Kyle demanded. “As soon as we stop, they’ll be on us!”
“I’m cutting into the park,” Dave yelled. “We’re almost to the end, anyway. This may be our last chance. Kyle, you stay in the car. Tell them I was your prisoner, and maybe they’ll let you go.”
“Why, what are you going to do?”
“I’m going to get Tilly out of here,” he replied. “She can’t fly, so I’ll hide her somewhere. Hold on!”
Spotting an opening in traffic, he whipped the car around and into a service drive. Honks sounded all around him as other vehicles screeched to a halt. The police car and news van followed a moment later, but by then Dave had steered the Nova under a cluster of trees and stopped it. “Thanks, Kyle,” he said, leaping out and racing away at top speed.
The van squealed up next to the Nova. The three reporters jumped out, hurrying after Dave.
“Screw this,” said Kyle. “I’m not gonna let them catch him.” He hopped out and took off after them, ignoring the policemen’s frantic calls to halt.
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