Before Mistle or Meredith could blink, Ivey had pulled a gun from his coat pocket.
“Shut up and let’s move,” he said to the two Sea Life staff members in front of him, pointing the gun at them. Ivey's eyes narrowed as he glanced over to Mistle and Meredith. “You too.”
“Hank, what the h—?” Mistle started.
“Just move!” Ivey bellowed.
Mistle stared back, bewildered at the man he had just started to trust. What is going on here? What happened to the Hank Ivey I knew from the Marines?
"Do I look like I'm kidding, Tim?" Ivey said, pointing the barrel of the gun at Mistle's forehead. "Now!"
“Kayla!” Holly yelled. She could see the woman in the blue jumpsuit open a “Staff Only” door, urging her daughter to follow.
“Kayla!” Holly again shouted, louder this time, but still drowned out by all the other kids and parents buzzing around the aquarium.
“Ma’am, please lower your voice if you want to see your husband and daughter alive,” Jorgen said to Holly in a low but direct voice.
Holly froze. All the nerves in her body urged her to scream, but the strange man she had seen with her husband earlier did say something about a matter of national security. Though she didn’t fully believe him, she felt it best to listen.
“O-OK, just don't hurt my baby,” Holly whispered, fighting back tears and quivering. She was furious at Tim, but now her lovely Kayla was in danger.
Jorgen led Holly briskly through the “Staff Only” door and down a series of winding halls. She walked for what seemed like forever until they were in a small storage room, with tanks stocked with jellyfish and seahorses lining the walls. On the floor sat an odd looking box next to a dolly.
“Sweetie!” Holly exclaimed. She could see Kayla standing beside the woman in the blue jumpsuit. A few feet away, she thought she saw her husband with that strange man and the "intern," along with two others.
Kayla looked up and began to run, but the German woman grabbed her as Ivey stepped toward the middle of the room, holding his gun high. He took Kayla from Traudel.
“Not so fast,” Ivey said. “This is the end of the line for you, Mistles."
Ivey gestured to Gunter and Jorgen, who sat Mistle, Holly and Kayla down together, their backs against a steel support beam, and then bound them with ropes, cables and locks. Ivey handed the men an envelope with a wad of cash.
"You boys can go now," he said, and Gunter and Jorgen took his cue, jogging out of the storeroom.
“Uncle Hank? What are you doing?” Meredith stammered. His niece's voice stopped Ivey in his tracks.
“Oh, precious Meredith, I’m sorry you had to get dragged into this,” Ivey said. “But you were my cover. I had to make this look like international terrorism, and I knew you'd call me. And then I could call him.”
Ivey stared at Mistle with contempt.
“You see, this man—this country—deserted me,” Ivey said with a madness in his voice. “My hand gets blown off and I get nothing, except pitiful stares. And from him? Not even a Christmas card.”
Ivey turned his attention back to his niece.
"Meredith, you and Traudel get on outta here," he said. "This isn't the kind of Christmas I want you to have."
Meredith paused, unsure of what to do, then followed Traudel out of the storeroom.
Left in the storeroom now were a bound Mistle, Holly and Kayla, along with Ivey and a 300-pound bomb set to detonate in 15 minutes.