Wednesday, September 2, 2009
No Wae Out!
There, at the topmost landing of the bank stairs, Agent Octavian froze. In front of him stood a tall door with a broad red bar across it, which read, in German, something he couldn’t read now that the LingwaTron’s batteries had failed him.
(He’d have a few stiff words with Q if—no, when—he got back to London.)
Behind him lay the stairs. He could still hear, far below, heavy footsteps scrambling. So little time to lose! To his right stood another door, also with a message in German, but this time in black. Standing on his hind legs, he could almost reach the door’s lever—almost! The scrambling below came louder. He’d have to chance it.
He leaped! against the door and zipped into the dark room. He had an impression of a dozen blue-lit television screens flickering, but he had hidden himself in the skinny place between a console and the wall before the big black leather armchair turned, slowly, to face the door.
Octavian squeezed his eyes shut and held his breath.
A man burst in through the door and babbled in German. Outside, the other door slammed open and a siren began to shriek. Between the siren’s keening wails, Octavian heard a voice—was it Schmidt’s?—shouting,
“Dumkopf! Du hast ein Vogel im dein Kopf! Gott im Himmel!”
Schmidt chased the other man out the door and down the stairs. Octavian shot out of his hiding place, turned, caught a picture of the room on his camera collar, and shot out the door, onto the landing and then out the fire door.
He found himself on the rooftop with a heavily clouded sky overhead. Before him, with his back turned, was one of the basement workmen. Octavian turned and shot over the wall, not even thinking of how he might scale the four stories down, just doing it, defying gravity like a well-trained stunt kittee, falling, landing in something rank-smelling and soft atop the bank’s Dumpster, racing across the parking lot, panting in time with the thunder overhead.
And then rain!