Read Part One Here / Read Part Two Here / Read Part Three Here
As the guards raced from one staged crisis to another, Joey’s phone buzzed with an unexpected text message from his now-former boss, Jaclyn. Her suspicions had been raised by his sudden disappearance during his PAUTU abduction, the security logs showed his keycard was used to gain entry after normal work hours, the alarm system was indicating a security breach, and the cameras were all offline. As he read her message, demanding to know his whereabouts, his heart raced.
“It’s Jaclyn,” Joey told Lexy and Boomzie. “I didn’t realize she’d still be here this late. I need to go see her.”
“It’s a double cross!” Boomzie said. “I knew we couldn’t trust you!”
“Don’t be stupid! I need to stall her,” Joey barked. “I’ll try to buy you as much time as I can.”
Joey didn’t bother waiting for their response. He hurried toward Jaclyn’s office, racking his brain for a plausible explanation for his presence. Taking a deep breath, Joey knocked on the door to Jaclyn’s office, and when she called for him to enter, he stepped inside, wearing a look of concern.
“Ja — I mean, Boss…” Joey wanted to slap himself for almost calling her by her name. A name he shouldn’t know.
“What did you call me?”
“I—I was going to say Janice,” he stammered, his voice tense. “I was thinking about my mother. Long story, but there’s no time for that now. I came as soon as I heard about the security breach.”
“A breach that happened right after you arrived. After hours. You’re never here at this time.”
“I came to make up my hours.”
Jaclyn’s eyes narrowed, and she set down the pen she was holding. “Why exactly did you miss work yesterday? And why didn’t you call in or return any of my messages?”
Joey hesitated for a moment, trying to look as if he was collecting his thoughts. “I had a family emergency that I couldn’t discuss with anyone. I didn’t want to involve the company in my personal matters.”
“Funny how your personal matter happened to coincide with the only day the protestors decided not to show up since they began their attack against our company.”
“What are you suggesting? That I’m colluding with the PAUTU? All due respect, Boss, but are you insane? They hate me, me personally, more than they hate you or your company! They’ve made it their mission to systematically destroy my reputation and my life! How dare you…!”
“Calm yourself, Mr. MacDonal. I’m merely trying to ascertain what’s going on here. You do have to admit the timing is interesting.”
“All right, but we can discuss all this later and if you want to interrogate me, fine, knock yourself out. But right now we have a potential security breach on our hands. Maybe it’s a false alarm, but better safe than sorry.”
“The security is handling the matter,” Jaclyn said, not entirely convinced. “And what exactly can you do to help with this situation?”
Joey thought quickly. “Well, first, we need to make sure everyone in the building is safe. I can help coordinate with the security team to lock down the facility and ensure no unauthorized personnel can get in or out. Then, I can work on finding out who’s behind the breach and make sure they don’t cause any more damage.”
Jaclyn studied him for a moment. “Fine, but I’ll be keeping a close eye on you, Mr. MacDonal. One wrong move, and you’ll regret the day you decided to cross me.”
Joey nodded, feigning relief. “Copy that, Boss.”
During the planning stage of the heist, Marlene knew they would need a vehicle large enough to transport the unicorns safely, and she had just the place in mind. Earlier in the week, she scoped out a nearby construction site, noticing several heavy-duty trucks that would be perfect for their mission. She made a mental note of the site’s security measures and knew she could get in and out without raising any alarms.
On the night of the heist, before making a move on the butchery, Marlene and Glitcher approached the construction site, dressed in dark clothing to blend in with the shadows. Glitcher pulled out her laptop, quickly tapping into the site’s security network and disabling the cameras and motion detectors for a brief period.
They slipped through the chain-link fence and Marlene spotted the vehicle they needed—a large, flatbed truck with tall sides, perfect for keeping the unicorns hidden during their escape. She approached the driver’s side door, pulling a lock-picking kit from her pocket. Within moments, she had the door open, and they climbed inside.
Glitcher plugged a small device into the truck’s ignition, overriding the security system and allowing Marlene to start the engine without a key. They drove the truck carefully out of the construction site and toward the butchery, making sure to avoid any security cameras or police patrols along the way.
Flexy Lexy and Boomzie guided the unicorns off the freight elevator and into the loading bay where Marlene had parked the “borrowed” truck. They expertly herded the creatures onto the truck, ensuring that they were as comfortable as possible under the circumstances. Marlene sat in the cab, anxiously scanning the area for any signs of trouble. She noticed that Joey wasn’t with them. “Where’s Joey Mac?” she asked, her voice tense.
“He went to see Jaclyn,” Lexy replied. Marlene’s expression darkened, and she jumped to the conclusion that Joey had set them up. Lexy quickly reassured her, “No, he’s buying us time, keeping her distracted.”
Marlene hesitated for a moment, then instructed Lexy and Boomzie, “Hop in the van with Glitcher. I’ll pull out first, you follow behind. If this gets hairy, I may need you to run interference for me.”
“So, we’re ditching him?” asked Boomzie.
“You developing a soft spot?”
“Not at all. Just never been a fan of leaving a man behind, if he’s on the up and up. If he’s not, screw him. Problem with that is: he knows where we’re holed up.”
“One crisis at a time, Boomz,” Marlene said. “Besides, there’s no point in staying. We’ve got what we came here for. Butcher boy can find his own way from here.”
Marlene turned the key, and the truck’s engine rumbled to life. She shifted gears and eased her foot onto the gas pedal, slowly maneuvering the large vehicle out of the loading bay. Once she made it onto the main road, she picked up speed, heading back to their base.
Constantly checking her rearview mirror to ensure they weren’t being followed, the only thing Marlene saw was Glitcher’s van keeping a comfortable distance… and some idiot running at breakneck speed on the sidewalk, waving his arms in a desperate attempt to flag her down. An idiot who bore a striking resemblance to an infamous butcher of unicorns.
Marlene slammed on the brakes, the truck screeching to a halt. The sudden stop caused the vehicle to jolt, and Marlene gripped the steering wheel tightly to maintain control. Joey reached the truck, his face flushed and his chest heaving from the exertion, and Marlene swung open the passenger side door, allowing him to clamber into the cab.
As Joey settled into the seat beside her, still catching his breath, he asked, “You were really going to leave me?”
“I stopped for you, didn’t I?” Marlene replied, her voice firm but not unkind, before shifting gears and resuming their escape.
As they drove away, Joey pulled out his phone to call Jaclyn. Marlene eyed him suspiciously and reached for the phone, but before she could stop him, Jaclyn answered.
“Jaclyn,” Joey panted, “I quit!”
Marlene relaxed slightly, but then she was struck by a thought. “You know, if she’s the only one who knows how to get that uniform off you, and you no longer work for her, I guess that means you’re kind of stuck with it, no pun intended.”
Joey let out a small, humorless laugh. “I can’t be sure she was telling the truth in the first place, but if she knows, that means someone else does too. So, I’ll keep searching until I find a way.”
Marlene nodded. “You’ll figure it out. And hey, at least it looks pretty cool.”
Joey sighed. “Yeah, but there are some… practical issues to deal with.”
“Like what?” Marlene asked, curious.
“Well, for starters, I haven’t been able to wash since I got this thing on. And you don’t even want to know about the bathroom situation,” Joey admitted, grimacing.
“So, that’s grafted to you all over?”
“Every. Single. Inch.”
“Now you’ve got me curious, but you’re right, I probably don’t want to know the intimate details. I do have one question for you, though.”
“What’s it like being a walking Ken doll?” Marlene couldn’t help but chuckle.
“Shut up and drive.”
In the days and weeks following their daring rescue, the PAUTU team worked relentlessly, leaving no stone unturned in their efforts to secure a safe and nurturing sanctuary for the rescued unicorns. They reached out to and collaborated with animal sanctuaries, wildlife conservation organizations, and experts from all around the globe, working tirelessly to ensure that each of the creatures would be provided with a secure and caring environment in which to thrive.
As for Jaclyn Hailee Dean, she found herself facing a storm of public outrage, fueled by the PAUTU’s exposure of her inhumane treatment of the unicorns. In response to the public outcry, lawmakers were compelled to scrutinize the existing regulations, ultimately passing new legislation that imposed strict guidelines for the ethical treatment of mythical creatures. Jaclyn’s butchery was shut down, as it failed to meet the newly established standards. Additionally, she was forced to pay hefty fines and reparations for her actions, which were now deemed unlawful. As for the PAUTU, they leveraged public support to avoid criminal theft charges, arguing that their actions had been in the best interest of the unicorns and had ultimately led to positive changes in the industry. The downfall of Jaclyn’s business served as a warning to others who might consider engaging in the dark trade of unicorn butchering.
In the aftermath of the heist and the subsequent changes in the unicorn industry, Joey found himself at a crossroads. Although he was now in the PAUTU’s good graces, his reputation as a butcher had been tarnished, and the public was not always quick to forgive acts of animal cruelty. However, Joey saw this as an opportunity for a fresh start and a chance to reinvent himself.
Realizing that his skills as a butcher could be put to better use, Joey decided to use his knowledge and expertise to advocate for animal welfare and ethical practices in the food industry. With the support of the PAUTU and leveraging his insider’s perspective, Joey began giving talks and workshops, sharing his experiences to raise awareness about the treatment of animals and the need for more humane practices.
Over time, Joey’s dedication and commitment to this cause helped to rebuild his reputation. Although some still viewed him with skepticism, many appreciated his efforts to make amends for his past actions and recognized the value of his unique perspective in the ongoing fight for animal welfare. Slowly but surely, Joseph MacDonal II, Joey Mac to his pals, former enemy of the world, was able to forge a new path for himself, driven by his newfound passion and purpose.