I had a hard time believing what I thought I had seen, but if I wasn’t mistaken someone was in trouble. I looped my drone around and hoped the propeller blades were quiet enough to remain ignored. It was dark, and I always had a hard time determining things in the night vision mode, so I’d left it off.
The zoom on my camera had reached its limits, but I had to get better footage. The street lamp above the action was the only source of light, cutting a cone of illumination through the surrounding blackness.
Daring to get closer, I hovered over to within 10 feet, and the audio picked up a conversation that made my heart flutter. The chilling thuds of boots to flesh made me cringe.
“Pay up or Julio will take your toes, your fingers,” the man doing the kicking said, delivering a final kick. “Y su familia!”
Two men were standing over a man curled up in the fetal position, and they said a few things in Spanish. The bulge of a gun pressed against each of the men’s plaid shirts.
The man that had not been doing the kicking turned abruptly, spotting my drone. For a split second, I felt as if I were standing in front of them, and I jumped, startled. The other man turned around as well. They both had a tattoo that ran from beside their eye down into the collar of their shirt. It looked like the number 13, but the ink’s font combined with the darkness prevented me from confirming.
They both spat off a string of curse words, and the kicker lunged out to grab my drone. Used to reacting quickly to maneuver the racing courses I practiced on, I pulled back the drone and looped it around to get a better look at the man on the ground. He was bleeding from his nose and a cut that had been opened on his cheek, but he clutched his midsection, groaning. He had long hair that was sprawled out behind him, but no tattoos.
The kicker lunged again, but I looped around out of the way and rose up to about ten feet, angling the camera down to stay honed in on them. Still feeling like I was right next to the men, my heart started to pound as they both reached into their waistbands and pulled out their guns. They were both metallic revolvers that sparkled in the streetlight’s glow. They cocked in unison, and I rammed up the joystick on my controller, shooting the drone forward and between both of them. Neither one fired but they spun around.
Heart still pounding I guided the drone through the darkness. I looped back around to the street and zoomed it back toward me as fast as it could go. I relaxed a little until I heard the pitter patter of shoes on concrete. I did a spin maneuver and flew backward. The two men were still running with their guns out.
The man that had stood by while the other man kicked aimed and fired. I dodged to the right as the kicker pushed down the other guy’s gun. The sound of the air rushing over the camera prevented me from hearing too much of what the kicker said, but I thought I heard him say police in Spanish.
I darted off from above the road and into a park. They tried to follow, but having to climb over the park’s fence and dodge the trees allowed me to increase the gap. When I felt comfortable with the distance, I worked my way back to the street, following the right roads until it reached me.
I guided my drone into my hands and pulled out my cell phone. I dialed the police and told the operator about the man being kicked, and that I had a video showing part of the encounter and the men responsible. She asked my location and said an officer would be out to check on the man first, and that I should go directly to the police station.
The bang of a gun and the clank of a ricocheting bullet made me jump. The two men had found me! My heart nearly pumped out of my chest as I turned to run. Another bang and clank made me whimper, and I felt like my whole body was trembling. People say your life flashes before your eyes before you die, but all I saw was one thing in my head. I couldn’t stop thinking of the woman I’d spied on using my drone and how if I turned in the video from tonight I might get discovered.
I turned into an alley and ran passed my car, knowing my pursuers would be able to catch me before I could turn the car on. They fired another shot, and I ducked instinctively. I turned my drone back on and activated the “follow” mode, flinging it into the air so I could run faster. As long as I held the controller the drone would follow me.
It buzzed around to in front of me, and one of the men fired at the drone. They missed, and I turned out of the alley and back onto the street. A van was parked along the, and I ran over to hide behind it. As quick as I could I turned off follow mode and sent my drone straight up as high as it would go. I looked underneath the van and saw the two men pause as they turned onto the street.
Sirens blaring in the distance reached my ears, and the two men yelled something in Spanish before running off down the street toward the van. My heart about dropped out of my chest, and I maneuvered around to the side so they wouldn’t see me as they sprinted past.
I realized I was holding my breath as I saw them continue down the street, and I finally allowed myself to take a deep breath. I sat with my back pressed against the van for a full five minutes before doubling back to get to my car.
My whole body shook as adrenaline continued to course through it as I walked. I brought the drone back down when I reached my car, sitting inside and taking a few deep breaths. I removed the camera, leaving it on.
“I can’t believe I almost just died!” I said into the camera, finally allowing a smile.
I didn’t know what else to say, so I turned it off and thought of how many hits I would get on YouTube when I uploaded the life-threatening chase.