Circle Park was impossibly crowded. Zach and Claire scrunched their way through the crowd as best they could. They were forced to pause and reevaluate their path every few steps. The beeping from the briefcase handcuffed to his wrist was a constant reminder to keep moving. Zach had to get to the parking lot and deliver the package. He didn’t want to find out what would happen if he didn’t.
“This way!” Claire shouted. She dragged Zach by his free hand to the right of the crowd. They snuck into a little alley between two carnival tents.
It was less crowded behind the scenes of the festival. Groups of workers huddled by the back doors of trucks and tents, enjoying a smoke or playing rowdy games of cards. Quick glances were thrown at Zach and Claire, but nobody said a word. Back in the distance a lone clown turned the corner into the back alley.
For the first time since being put on this mission, Zach and Claire were able to run at a full sprint. They disregarded social norms and ran as fast as they could through the small crowd.
Zach looked down at the timer on the briefcase. They still had over fifteen minutes. “I think we’re going to make it!”
Up ahead, a line of ducklings led by their mother began to cross the path Zach and Claire were on. The line of ducks reached from one end of the trail to the other. Zach and Claire didn’t slow down. They would jump the ducks if they had to.
Then each duck turned around to face the opposite direction. On the other side of their bodies their feathers revealed a bulls eye design.
Zach and Claire slowed down, unsure of the events unfolding. The ducks remained motionless, blocking the path.
“Just keep going,” said Zach. Claire nodded her head in agreement.
They sped back up only to have the sound of gun fire stop them in their tracks.
One of the ducks was laying on its side, taken out by the shooter.
Zach and Claire turned around. The clown that had been unknowingly following them had Zach and Claire in the crosshairs of a pistol with a three foot long barrel.
“Hello, little duckies,” said the clown. “I’ll be taking that briefcase.”
“What?!” shouted Zach. “Can you? How? Why? Please!”
“Don’t move!” shouted the clown. “I don’t want any funny business.”
“Who is this guy?” Claire whispered to Zach.
“I don’t know,” said Zach. “But if he can get this briefcase off then great.”
“But what about getting the briefcase to the parking lot?”
“Who cares?” said Zach. “That isn’t my responsibility.”
“But who is this guy?” Claire asked again.
The clown approached his two hostages. The smile painted on his face complimented the smile he couldn’t help but shine.
“I had a whole plan figured out,” said the clown. “Didn’t figure I could just ask for the briefcase.”
“Can you get it off me?” Zach asked, jiggling his wrist to indicating he was handcuffed to the briefcase.
“Sure,” said the clown. “I can pick the lock.”
“Is this your briefcase?” Claire asked.
“What?” the clown replied while pulling out a tool kit from his pants pocket.
“Were you the one that the briefcase was for?” Claire tried to clarify. “Before Zach got it.”
“Sure,” said the clown. He pulled out a saw from his pants pocket. “I got to take it to HQ. You guys really threw a wrench in my plans.”
The clown chuckled when he said his last line. He pulled a wrench out of his pants pocket just as he said it. Then he tossed it behind his back.
“Where’s that?” Zach asked.
“What? HQ?” said the clown. “Downtown. Gonna take me all day to get there now with this traffic. Festivals are killer.”
Finally, the clown picked up several tool from the ground that he had laid out. “Alright, let’s do this! I’ll get you free in no time.”
Zach eyed the countdown clock on the briefcase. Then he watched as the clown approached him with a lock pick in one hand and a stick of butter in another.
“Run!” Zach yelled. He grabbed Claire’s hand once again and forced her to move back toward the crowd in the main section of the festival.
“No! Come back here!” the clown yelled. He squeezed the stick of butter in his hand until is oozed between his fingers.
His pistol was on the ground. The ducks were motionless. The clown could just watch as Zach and Claire made their escape.