“Have you got my money?” Hector began, his own voice and image distorted by the built-in modulators.
“I have a video that you need to see before we proceed any further.”
“You have a video for me,” Hector laughed at the irony. “That’s a new one.”
Special Agent Novak pressed some buttons and was replaced on the monitor by a slender female figure. The hand-held camera jiggled as it moved closer to the subject: a blindfolded and gagged woman dressed only in black lacy underwear. The shivering woman looked familiar, but it couldn’t be. Hector’s heart sank as he swapped the image to a larger monitor. The woman was unmistakably his wife.
Hector was unable to move or speak. Anger flooded his mind. Whoever was responsible for this would pay dearly. Maria looked terrified. Slowly his rage gave way to helplessness as he recognized the absolute fear he had witnessed in the body language of many of his own victims. A horrifying thought chilled him to his marrow.
Where are my children? Are they safe? A fear, unlike he had ever before felt, stabbed at his heart. Immediately, he realized what he had been putting every parent through all these years as an agonizing helplessness began to overwhelm him. In the space of a few moments, Hector was ashamed of what he had become. He had previously justified his actions as just business. Hector suddenly regretted the power he had felt over all those people. In reality, he had been nothing more than a fear-monger, a terrorist. Just like all his victims’ parents, Hector realized he would do whatever it took to make his family safe again.
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