Raeder stopped. He could hear and feel a faint rumble. “Ah crap,” groaned Raeder. The faint rumble was his stomach which had been empty for the past day or two. He decided to look for a place to eat. On the other side of the street, there was a small burger bar which looked okay.
Inside, the smell of burning fat filled the air. “Next please,” said a gruff voice. Raeder looked up and up and saw a man about six feet tall, with stubble smoking a cigarette. “C…c…could I have a cheeseburger with fries. Please.” Raeder’s faint voice seemed to be getting fainter by the second. Was it the fact that he was hungry, or was it that this guy scared the pants of him? Raeder thought. Up in the corner, a small T.V caught Raeder’s eye. To his horror, it was on the JBC Network and the infamous Mike Terry was screaming that the Thompson gang had been phoned by the manager of a small burger bar, and that they were gonna hunt him down.
Raeder looked across the room and saw the guy slam the phone down. It WAS he who rang the Thompson gang. Raeder was in a dilemma. Should he leave his burger, even though he was starving and run for his life, or should he eat his burger and run for his life? The back door of the burger bar lead to an alleyway which could give him some form of cover. In half the time it took for the clock to tick, Raeder jumped over the counter and ran down the alleyway like a headless chicken, bashing into dumpsters and knocking over garbage cans.
The alleyway was dark, dingy and reeked of fish. Raeder was gasping for breath, whilst his hands clasped his knees. As if out of nowhere, footsteps could be heard coming from all directions. As Raeder looked up, he could see a shadow towering over him. It was the Thompson gang. Fear gripped Raeder’s heart. “Will this be the end folks? Is there a light at the end of the tunnel for Jim Raeder?” echoed Mike Terry’s voice, coming from Raeder’s pocket. The Thompson gang, who were slowly beginning to draw their guns, surrounded Raeder. Raeder looked everywhere, trying to find a means of escape. Just as Raeder thought it was hopeless, a ray of light reflected into his eyes off a half open manhole cover. Raeder started to run, as if he were doing the long jump, and leaped into the air and dived down into the sewers, running as fast as his legs would carry him. The Thompson gang were left astounded, but were soon in pursuit.
Rats scurried across the sewers, scrounging whatever food they could find. It had been some half hour since the ordeal with the Thompson gang took place, and Raeder was pondering whether they had followed him or not. The putrid smell of raw sewage filled the air as Raeder squelched through it in his worn through boots. Hoping that he would get out of the sewers soon, Raeder quickly glanced at the T.V screen to see if a Good Samaritan, if any, had come to his aid. The picture was ghosting, but that was understandable considering he was underground. Fortunately, the sound was clear enough for Raeder to hear, and apparently, an engineer who worked in the sewers had been sent down to help him.
Raeder put the T.V away and started walking, in search of the engineer. The last time Raeder had slept was on the subway, which seemed days ago, but was in fact only about a couple of hours ago. Raeder looked for a ledge which he could sleep on. He found a ledge which would be wide enough for him, and wiped it down with his coat. His coat was torn, but it still gave him some warmth. As he curled up, the noise of the traffic above him got quieter and quieter as he fell in a deep sleep.
“Mister, Mister. Are you Jim Raeder?” Raeder could hear someone call him, feel something push him and see somebody shine a flashlight in his eye. “Hey, leave me alone will ya? What’s the big idea, wise guy?” Raeder wearily said. As Raeder sat up, rubbing his eyes, he could see a guy in front of him waving his hand in his face. “Getch your hand outta my face, you numskull,” snapped Raeder. Raeder had no idea who this guy was, but still kept on insulting him. “What does a guy have to do to get some sleep round hear, eh?” Raeder continued. “G…g…gees mister. I’m sorry. I’m Joe. Joe Maloney, the engineer,” he replied in a quiet, New York accent. Only now had Raeder realised that he had insulted the only person that was going to get him out of the sewers. “Oh right. So you’re the engineer are you? I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have snapped at you. It’s just that I’m tired, that’s all,” Raeder explained in a sympathetic way. “Yeah, I could see that you were sleeping, it’s just that I wanted to make sure it was you, not just some bum,” Joe replied. Bum? Who’s he callin a bum? Raeder thought angrily. Well who’d blame him; sleeping in the sewers wasn’t exactly fit for a king now was it. Raeder clambered slowly off the ledge and followed Joe who led the way.
Joe told Raeder that it would be safer for him to get out near the Statue of Liberty, where there would be more people so that he could mingle in with the crowds. The trek would be 3 1/2 miles long. Raeder looked at his watch; 3 hours to go.
As they walked through the sewers, the only sound which could be heard was that of the water, dripping in the background. The odd shriek of a rat could be heard every couple of paces, making Raeder quiver. Apart from them noises, it was silent. Raeder was thinking of starting a conversation, but he really couldn’t be bothered. Instead, he carried on following Joe and staring his back, as if in a fixed trance, walking without really remembering where he was going.
After about 1hour, Joe came to a halt and Raeder knocked into the back of him, finally realising where he was and what he was doing there. Joe told him to go up, as he had to do an inspection of the sewers. Raeder thanked Joe for all of his help whilst he climbed up the ladder that lead to the Statue of Liberty.
As he removed the manhole cover, the fresh air hit him like a 10 tonne truck. Raeder was amazed by how the fresh air made him inhale like there was no tomorrow. Crawling on his knees, Raeder stood up slowly in the hustle and bustle of New York City. Raeder interrogated the area with his eyes, trying to spot the Thompson gang.
Everywhere he looked, Raeder could see tourists. They could be easily identified; cameras around their necks and guide maps in their hands. Raeder quickly glanced at his watch, as if not to waste anytime. 3.30pm. 1 1/2 hours to go. Raeder turned around and started walking very slowly towards the Statue of Liberty, to kill time. As he walked, back hunched like the Hunchback of Notre Dame, he could hear a helicopter, faintly in the distance.
Back in the studio, the Thompson gang had informed Mike Terry that they had acquired a helicopter. “Hear that folks? The Thompson gang have a helicopter!” Mike Terry ecstatically cried. The moment he announced this, the ratings went sky high, as people knew that an action packed ending was in store.
As Raeder trudged along the street, out of nowhere, a fusillade of bullets ricocheted above him, some missing him by inches. Raeder looked up and saw the Thompson gang in the helicopter that he heard earlier. It was pandemonium. People were shouting and screaming, some running round in circles not knowing what to do. Injured and dead people lay in the blood splattered street, groaning for help. Splashing noises could be heard from the water, as people had jumped into the water in a mad frenzy, trying to save themselves.
The Statue of Liberty was Raeder’s only hope of survival. He dashed towards the Statue of Liberty, dodging people in the way and slammed the elevator button. The elevator was still on the viewing gallery. Raeder had no time as he could hear the Thompson gang landing the helicopter. The stairs were now his obstacle to some form of safety. Using the banister to speed him up, Raeder pulled himself up the stairs, skipping as many stairs as his stride would allow. Panting but alive, Raeder observed his surroundings.
The viewing gallery was large and spacious, with no places to hide. Raeder walked towards a crevice in the wall. He looked down and saw a 500ft drop either into the water or the concrete. Time was scarce as he could hear the Thompson gang darting up the stairs. Raeder tried to move, but his legs were frozen. His mind was telling him to climb out of the crevice, but his body remained still.
The Thompson gang had now arrived in the viewing gallery, surrounding Raeder. Raeder moved back very slowly until he hit the wall to the side of the crevice. Thoughts of his good times, such as when he first learned to ride his bike were going through his head, as if preparing him for death. With guns drawn at point blank range, the Thompson gang were ready to shoot. Raeder closed his eyes. The gunshot echoed throughout the viewing gallery, and could be heard down on the ground.
Raeder opened his eyes cautiously, expecting to be in heaven, or, possibly, hell. Instead, he was hanging in mid-air, grabbed by the arm. Raeder turned his head slightly and saw the multi-millionaire, Rex Banner, owner of Maxisoft, America’s 2nd largest computer company. Raeder’s brain was trying to process what had just happened. Raeder must have been grabbed, and pulled through the crevice in a split second, missing the bullet that intended to kill him. Standing in the crevice of the Statue of Liberty was the Thompson gang, shouting and cursing whilst they were being arrested.
Back on the ground, Mike Terry, his adoring fans and the Good Samaritans greeted Raeder. Asked by Mike Terry if he would do another game show, Raeder replied by intimating that he had enough danger for one lifetime and that he wouldn’t forget the experience in too much of a hurry. Rex Banner, to whom Raeder sincerely thanked for saving his life, presented the $200,000 check. Banner told Raeder that he was a great fan of the show, and that he wanted to play a part in saving his life as well as being on the T.V!
“Well folks, what a spectacular finish to The Prize Of Peril. Just as we thought that our Raeder was gone from us, out of the blue, multi-millionaire Rex Banner saved his life in an astounding air rescue involving his helicopter, himself and above all, his courage which saved the life of our all time favourite action hero, Jim Raeder,” declared Mike Terry in a triumphant speech.