2011-10-26

2011-10-26 11:06 pm
Entry tags:

Hail to the Chiefs (6)

I can feel my fingertips breaking. The small bones in my fingers are shearing off, or at least that's what it feels like. I cling to the narrow handhold, my entire body limp, my face pressed flat against the mosaic-tiled wall.

I want to let go. I need to let go. But I know that when I drop to the floor, Burr's crystals will turn the room into a fireworks show, and then the explosive charge will go off. That will be all she wrote for me. So, I hang on desperately, hoping for some kind of a last-second reprieve. Teddy might show up, or the police could arrive. I pray for a miracle. And what better place to pray, I figure, than under the Vatican City?

I laugh silently, my chest heaving against the cool flat stonework.

And then I stop. I have heard something. A faint sound, a scraping. No, it's nothing. Yes, there it is again. A swish, then a thump. A pause, then it repeats. Swish, thump. Swish, thump. The sound is soft, but it's growing louder.

In the pitch dark, your imagination runs away with you. Anything could be happening. With the light gone, the ancient dead of Sheol could be emerging from secret holes, clawing and shuffling forward to inspect this intruder in their underground domain. The swishing grows louder; the thumping sounds close. I feel a faint stirring of air on my face.

There is something in the room with me.

SWISH. Something slides across the smooth stone floor. I can hear the delicate flash crystals skittering, but none of them go off. THUMP. Something puts its substantial weight on the floor, prepares to drag itself forwards again.

No, I say to myself. Not like this. SWISH. I don’t want to die in agony, hanging like a side of meat. THUMP. I could jump down, take my chances with the crystals, run into the darkness and maybe escape. SWISH, right under me. SOMETHING BRUSHES MY LEG. That does it. I'm going to…

"Let go."

I almost jump out of my skin. The voice sounds thick, mushy, but somehow familiar. There is a sudden light, blinding me. I peek out of slitted eyes. The floor below me has been swept of crystals.

The flashlight turns to shine its beam on a ruined face. It's Nixon. Nixon, the Miracle.

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