Saturday, June 11, 2011

Chapter 29

Oct. 21 – 6:30am

            The morning sun struggling against the heavily curtained window found Erik pouring his troubled thoughts into the piano. The music was in turns hopeful and despairing, joyful and pained, excited and filled with dread. These feelings that were growing within him for the unpredictable Alexandra Roberts confused him as much as they thrilled him. Could he risk reaching for a second chance of happiness? But then, what of Christine? He’d sworn he’d love her until his last breath and beyond and yet…since Da’ud had brought him a fiery auburn-haired minx, he’d managed to go days without thinking of her at all. The nights had begun to be peaceful as well. For the first time in five years he was sleeping through the night with no painful nightmares to jolt him from his rest.
            Without realizing it, his playing shifted into the melody of the song she’d been humming last night as she drew. Erik wasn’t a fan of so-called popular music but the emotions of the song and the beauty of the singer’s voice had him reconsidering his disdain. Besides, what had she meant by humming such a song at such a time? She’d deflected that question each and every time; no matter how many ways he worded it to catch her off her guard. And then her reasoning for drawing him…enigmatic, he could understand; moody and temperamental, he most definitely agreed; but sexy? She found him sexy? No matter how much he’d pushed, she refused to expand further and he eventually took pity on her and dropped the subject. They shared a light meal, she took some medicine to help with pain, and then he left her to rest.
            Sleep would not come for him, however. Though his nights were no longer filled with reliving the nightmarish betrayal of his once-beloved Christine, now he was more determined than ever to remove all that would harm Alexandra. He still wasn’t sure what he felt, or how deep his feelings ran, but he definitely knew it was time to let go of the past and explore those feelings without the guilt of betrayal eating away at him. For five long years, Erik’s heart had remained firmly in Christine’s hands even after she’d forcefully proven she wasn’t a good steward of his regard. Little by little, Alexandra had pried his former lover’s fingers from that aching muscle and returned it to him. It was beaten and battered but no longer broken. Under her gentle care, he felt it might heal and even flourish.
            Before that could happen, he had to remove the threat that overshadowed them. Erik pushed away from the piano and started up the stairs to his bedroom. As he gathered the things he would need, he called the front gate and told the head of security to arrange it so that the night and midday shifts overlapped with each other and the morning shift for at least one hour. He wanted no gaps during shift change. He also stressed that if someone got past the guards and near the house again, they would all be looking for new jobs. Satisfied that the security chief and was sufficiently convinced it wasn’t an idle threat, Erik jogged down the stairs to knock lightly on Alexandra’s door.

            The gentle tapping on the door brought Alex out of the most pleasant of dreams involving herself and her host. Not pleased at all for her fantasy to be interrupted, she rather snappishly called for whoever it was to enter. Expecting Da’ud, she was not prepared for Erik to glide in and perch on the edge of her bed. Wearing his flesh toned mask that blended so well with the rest of his face, blue jeans, a stark white dress shirt, and what appeared to be boots of some sort, he looked good enough to eat. Alex remembered some of the more vivid moments in her dream and blushed faintly.
            “Good morning, Erik,” she was inordinately proud that her voice didn’t waver. Now if she could just turn off the switch that kept her blushing like a school girl with a crush she’d be alright.
            Bonjour, ma petite,” he picked up her hand from where it lay on the blankets and placed a soft kiss to the back. Turning it over, he repeated the gesture on her palm; only this time he lingered and she could swear she felt the tip of his tongue dart out to taste her. His grin when she blushed once more – that damn switch must be broken – told her he knew what he was doing to her and was enjoying it immensely. “I am going into town today to gather what intel I can. I want you to remain prone; however, I will be satisfied if you choose to sit. What I will not be pleased to hear is if you’ve attempted to walk for any other reason than visits to the lady’s room. Do I make myself clear?”
            “What about meals? Surely you don’t expect Da’ud to be able to prepare them on his crutches, do you?” Alex wasn’t sure she liked the idea of Erik going off alone. How would they know if anything happened to him?
            “I want you to order in. Security has been notified to expect a call from the house concerning food deliveries and they will accept, pay for, and deliver the meals to the house. Da’ud knows the verification routine so let him handle it. If he’s asleep, awaken him. I do not want you on your feet.”
            “I understand.” Now that the pain killers have worn off, she might just stay in bed all day. Shifting slightly, she winced as the pain shot down her side again.
            “Excellent. I’ll bring you something to eat and some coffee. Did you need another pain killer?” He’d noticed she was hurting this morning and that concerned him; the medication should last longer than that.
            “Oh…maybe not right now but if you could bring it to me, I’ll take it after I eat if I can’t get back to sleep.”
            With a nod, Erik headed for the kitchen to fix a light meal of fruit, toast, jam, and coffee. He added a glass of water and one of the pain tablets as well and returned to Alex’s room. Helping her sit up, he placed the tray over her lap and planted a tender kiss on her brow.
            “I should be back some time tonight so get some rest. Is there anything else you need before I go?” He was slowly stroking her soft cheek without really being aware of what he was doing; he simply enjoyed touching her. Alex leaned into his hand and shook her head. He had already opened the door when she bade him to be careful. The smile he gave her before leaving the room very nearly stopped her heart. It seemed to be full of promise…but promise of what? As the door clicked shut, she started on her breakfast but her thoughts were on Erik. She prayed he’d be safe.

            The last stop on his way out was at Da’ud’s room. Erik knocked as a courtesy then slipped into the room and closed the door behind him. He explained to the detective that he wanted to return to Alex’s apartment to see if it was still under watch. If not, then it was one more clue that Raoul was working with the murderers. No need to watch a building when they know where the girl is. He also wanted to pay a little visit to the judge and lawyer that worked Samuel’s case; perhaps they needed to learn there were things in the world that were far worse than what the GRU could come up with. Da’ud quickly scribbled the home and work addresses for both men. He’d feel sorry for them but the only thing that’s worse than a dirty judge is a dirty cop. He had little use for lawyers in general. If he had time, Erik planned to stop by Lizzie Butler’s house and check over it one more time during the day to see if there was anything he’d missed the first time. And finally, he was going to acquire the full blueprints to the old opera house. If that, indeed, was where Christine and her crew were holed up, he wanted to be familiar with the layout instead of wading in blind.
            The detective, concerned about the danger of any or all of these tasks, convinced Erik to wear the small ear-piece radio and mic. Though he couldn’t be there to provide back up, he did know some former police officers who’d answer his call with no questions asked. Erik accepted the small device without argument seeing the wisdom in having a direct line of communication to someone he trusted. Before taking his leave, he relayed his orders concerning meals and Alexandra’s mobility, brought the back up weapon from the Library to the detective’s room, and a tray of food for breakfast.
Oct. 21 – 9:15am

            The parking garage was empty at this time of the day with most of the apartment’s residents at work or university so Erik had no trouble finding a spot on the same level as Alex’s car. He’d driven the silver Durango in hopes of finding his motorcycle or purchasing a new one. Affixing a false name tag to his shirt, he pulled a small toolbox from the back of the truck and approached the car. Circling it, he couldn’t see anything out of place and so resigned himself to looking underneath. As he slid beneath the car, he immediately noticed the three wires that snaked along the chassis like evil serpents. Following them towards the front, he lost them as they disappeared into the frame. Changing direction, he followed them to a small plastic covered box and then continued on towards the rear of the vehicle. Double wired, then. Damn. Sliding his Gerber from his pocket, he popped it open to the thinnest blade available and gently pried the casing apart. Inside was the usual mess of wires, detonator, and enough C4 to take out everything within a 100 foot radius. The two small vials on either side of the plastic explosives are what really made him worry: mercury tilt switches. Fuck.
            Examining the switches, he saw that they were on a lever and pendulum setup similar in design to a child’s seesaw. If he were to remove one of the vials the other would immediately shift angle, complete the circuit to the explosives, and they’d be wiping up his remains with a sponge. That would really throw a monkey wrench in his day. Using the same blade as on the casing, Erik watched the switches closely as he shaved off small sections of the compound. If he applied too much pressure or tried to remove too much of the explosives at a time, he’d move the car just enough to set the bead of mercury in the switches to shifting and rolling in their vials. Once he had two small but equal amounts of the compound, he rolled and pressed them into cubes that were identical in height. Taking a cube in each hand, Erik drew in a steadying breath and began easing them both under the lever holding the two mercury switches. Satisfied that they were in place and secure, he switched the Gerber to a small screwdriver and began removing the clamps holding the switches in place. Easing the switch away from the explosives, he snipped the wires holding it to the car first and then the C4 rendering it relatively safe. He placed it in a foam filled compartment in the tool box and started working on the other. Focused on the delicate task of removing the clamps holding the second switch, he thought little of the sound of screeching tires and a thumping bass until it became too loud to ignore. From under Alex’s vehicle, Erik watched with a detached sense of horror as the young driver took the turn too wide and temporarily lost control.

A/N: A few things to explain, I suppose, and one thing to stress. The first is that I, in no way, know how to build an actual explosive device. In case you missed it the first time, I don’t know how to build an actual bomb; please don’t send the CIA after me. They’re scary. The one attached to Alex’s car is a combination of parts learned in quick Wikipedia searches and waaaay too many action movies.
Now, facts:
1. C4 does exist; it is a common plastic explosive used by the military and demolition crews. It is similar in consistency to modeling clay and can be shaped in the same way. It’s nearly 1 ½ times more powerful than TNT so not something to sneeze at.
2. Mercury Tilt Switches, again, do exist. They’re little glass vials with a bead of mercury and two electrical contacts inside. When the vial is tilted, the mercury rolls down to touch the two contacts and completes the circuit.
The part that is artistic license is that I have no clue if the way this is set up if it would do anything but sit there and look silly.
3. I, in no way, know how to build an actual explosive device. (in case you forgot)

1 comment:

  1. dammmit and here i was thinking "yay if i ever need to eliminate competition, i know who to ask!!"

    hahahaha ;-)

    but what a spot to stop this chapter, that is plain cruel missy!