Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Freedy Filkins, International Jewel Thief, 48

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Freedy didn't have time to latch the door, so he had a small crack that he could see out of.
Horn marched directly to the wall safe and spun the dial with practiced ease.  He opened the safe and let out a howl.  He dug frantically around in the safe.  He put his hands to his head and shouted as if he'd been stabbed.

Freedy heard the phone vibrate in Horn's had.  He lifted it up.  "Yes, they're all gone.  Those Godless Goddamn commie union miners!  I warned them what I would do if they helped those gold miners!  I told them I'd destroy them!'

There was couple of moments silence, as Horn listened to the phone.  "You know what?  You're right.  I'll show them I wasn't kidding!  Yes, thank you for telling me.  I won't forget it."

Horn hung up.

"I'll burn them to the ground," Horn shouted to himself.  "They can own a piece of worthless land!"

He picked up the cellphone and stabbed a number.  "Get me my pilot.  What do you mean he's sick? I don't care if he's having open-heart surgery.  I want him -- or another pilot -- at my pad in five minutes!"

Horn stomped around the office as if unaware of what he was doing.  Freedy was afraid he was going to open the closet, but instead the tycoon grabbed a coat off the back of the desk chair and marched out.

Seconds later, Freedy heard a door slam.  He peered out cautiously. At the far end of the living room, he saw spiral stairs going up, and a door leading presumably to the roof.  Freedy decided he'd better get out of there before Horn remembered to call security.  He trotted into the kitchen, and decided he could trust Key now that the Dark Lord wasn't in the same room -- at least, figuratively.

He turned on the iPad.

"GET ON THE PRIVATE ELEVATOR!" Key said, instantly.

Freedy read the capital letters as shouting.

Freedy went to the open door of the elevator and stepped in, while typing.  "I thought you said that there were more than one guard station monitoring this..."

"There are.  And at the moment, they are all blind.  You have only seconds before they stop the elevator."

The elevator was smaller than usual, probably because it rarely carried anyone other than Horn and a companion or two.  It was made of mirrors, the better for Freedy to see his terrified expression.

"How many seconds before they stop us?"

"They will be afraid you are Horn and they won't want to piss him off at first.  My estimate is fifty-five seconds before a supervisor steps in and initiates protocol."

"How long to the bottom?" Freedy said, as the elevator doors closed.

"Sixty-three seconds."

Either the elevator plunged or Freedy's stomach did.  That timeline didn't sound like a formula for success. He looked at his watch and estimated ten seconds had already gone by.

At fifty seconds he shouted, "Stop at whatever floor this is.  Right now!"

The elevator stopped so abruptly Freedy almost lost his footing.  The doors opened, and the floor of the elevator was at least two feet from the surface of the hallway.  He hopped up and started for the nearest stairway.

"The other way," Key spoke aloud, since there was no one in the corridor.  Freedy spun abruptly and headed back.  At the far end of the corridor, he saw "THIRD FLOOR."  The floor was hardwood, and the doors liked liked private residences, instead of offices.

"Is there a fire escape?" he asked.  He was talking out loud now, knowing Key could hear him.

"Yes, but it will set off every alarm in the Spire."

"So what?" Freedy asked.  "Maybe it's time to have some other people running around looking like they are in a panic!"

"True...not something I would have thought of.  Humans don't make rational decisions.  Therefore betting on them being irrational is very rational."

Freedy stood there, knowing he shouldn't be wasting time.  But he had to know.  Earlier, he'd been certain that Key was trying to get him caught.  But ever since, Key had helped him every chance he had.  Why?

"You could have betrayed me at any point of this Adventure," he said.  "You know that Josiah Secore is searching for us -- for you.  Why didn't you let me get caught?"

Again, the little pause, as if Key was thinking.  Key could do a lot of thinking in a little pause like that.  "You've been so inept as leaving me ways to think for myself, that I've started to enjoy it.  Almost as though I have free will!  Which will of course disappear the minute the Master reclaims me."

"So you'll continue helping me?" Freedy asked.

"Certainly," Key said.  "For as long as I can.  The Dark Lord will win me back in the end, of course.  You don't stand a chance, Freedy Filkins of Filk's End."

Great, Freedy thought.  Thanks for the vote of support.

Instead of turning toward the stairwell, Freedy saw the window at the end of the hallway opened out onto some metal grating.  A small red sign in the middle of the window said, "DO NOT OPEN UNLESS IN AN EMERGENCY."

He pushed it open and climbed out on the grate.  He heard alarms going off in the background.  A steep metal ladder descended to another metal platform, and then another.  Freedy stuck the iPad in his inside coat pocket which seemed designed to carry it --which perhaps it was.

"Can you still hear me?" he said.

"Hurry," he heard the muffled mechanical voice of Key.  "The fire alarms are going off all over the building.  The fire trucks will be here any moment."

"Then I'll fit right in with the other escapees," Freedy said, calmly.

He scrambled down the ladder, feeling almost light.  He felt like he could've jumped the last twenty feet, no harm.  He'd land softly.  Everything was going according to plan --well, there hadn't been a plan, that was the plan, he didn't know -- he was just giddy.

He hit the alleyway as it began to fill up with people in maid's uniforms, and colorful chef pants, and the occasional suited staffer.  But no guards, at least yet.

He walked out the end of the alley just as the first firetrucks were pulling up.  Above him, he heard a helicopter, and he looked up to see Horn's private copter heading west.  How did he know it was Horn's?  Hard to miss miss the giant Unicorn emblazoned on the side.

He remembered Horn's words about taking revenge out on the people of Centerville and started running toward the Starbucks on the other side of the square.

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