Friday, June 18, 2010
Tesla's Stepdaughters - Chapter 4 Excerpt
The drum beat continued and the all three took their places to begin Under the Heel. That’s when Andrews saw it. There was a flash of light high up in the rafters above the audience. It wasn’t the flash of a camera bulb, but of reflective light bouncing off a pane of glass—like the end lens of binoculars, or of a rifle scope.
Ducking around the back curtain and running through the cluttered backstage, he found scaffolding with a metal ladder at one end. Grabbing hold of a rung, he pulled himself upwards. By the time he was twenty feet above the ground, the scaffolding began to sway dangerously with every step, and he still had more than fifty feet to go. When he reached the top he was sure the swaying structure would go crashing to the ground at any second, but he was able to clamber off of it and onto the catwalk that ran the length of the stadium.
The stadium lights were out. All spots were on the performing band. Even if they hadn’t been, Andrews probably wouldn’t have been able to see anything. The catwalk ran above the lighting tracks, and the centermost section, where he had seen the flash, was a long way off. He ducked lower and grabbed the rail, but he didn’t have the luxury of watching from where he was, or even of taking it slow. Hunched over, he ran the length of the clattering, swaying metal walkway. The Ladybugs were playing the last chords of Artificial Man when he saw a human figure, not on the catwalk he was on, but one which intersected it. He stood up and ran faster.
When the song ended the screaming applause continued but it, unlike the music, was not amplified up near the ceiling. Andrews stood up straight, but didn’t slow down. As he ran, he pulled the pistol from his shoulder holster. As he flipped on the power, it began to whine as the solenoid charged.
“Hold it!” he yelled.
The person turned, saw him, and ran, the catwalk taking away her at a diagonal. Andrews stopped and took aim, but didn’t fire. There was something in the shadowy figure’s hand, but he wasn’t sure it was a weapon. He raced forward to where the two catwalks intersected, then turned and followed the other’s path. By that time, whoever he was following was a tiny figure half lost in the darkness. Andrews ran on, even when he could no longer see the person he was pursuing, secure in the knowledge that they had to be on the catwalk. But then he reached the end of the building to find a short ladder leading to a roof access door. Climbing up the stairs, he put his left hand on the hatch, his right still holding his gun. He quickly opened the door and stepped out onto the roof.
The moon, fully obscured by smoky clouds, did little to aid him, but Andrews carefully made the circuit around the rooftop, stepping around air conditioning units and other equipment. Suddenly a figure in black jumped up right in front of him.
“Don’t shoot! Don’t shoot!”
“Hands in the air!”