Monday, June 27, 2011

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN


“Where are you going?  What are you going to do?”  Kris demanded as she followed Dillon back inside the dome.  The rumbling and shaking was growing ever more ominous and pronounced.  It was as if a giant under the Earth was turning over and over in a restless sleep.  Dillon spotted the elevator and darted inside.  “Ah-ha!  Just what I was looking for!”  He reached up into the rear left corner of the elevator and unsnapped the small mirror there, standard in all elevators so that someone entering the car could see if somebody was already inside.  “I need something to signal Eli.”

            “Eli?”

            “I hear the engines of his plane.  He’s probably been searching for us all this time.  I need to let him know where we are so we can get outta here.”  Dillon ran back outside, heading for the long concrete path that was just about the nearest open area.  Kris looked up anxiously into the sky.  She could hear the cargo plane’s engines now herself, but she was at a loss to understand just how Eli was going to land and take off, especially with the ground shaking like Charo having a conniption fit.  Dillon angled the mirror to catch the sun’s rays and flashed a signal straight up where there could be no mistaking it for what it was: a call for help.

            Shortly, the cargo plane roared overhead, flying as slowly as it could without stalling out.  Kris did her part, jumping up and down and screaming until her tonsils hurt.  Dillon kept flashing the signal as the cargo plane continued on its way.

            “He didn’t see you!”  Kris wailed.

            “Hold on a sec!  Wait!”  Dillon was a seasoned pilot and he could tell by the sound of the engines that the plane was turning and coming back their way.  Strange groaning sounds were coming from the ground and zigzagging cracks began opening in the concrete path.  Foul smelling gases belched out into the air.

            The cargo plane appeared overhead again and this time, a large gray bundle was thrown from the hatchway to thump to the ground some ten feet from them.  Dillon ran over and began undoing the bundle.  Kris looked on in total bafflement.

            “Isn’t he going to land?” Kris demanded.  Dillon didn’t answer her.  He was totally focused on his task, and Kris watched in amazement as he removed a bulky nylon and canvas harness from the bundle and quickly strapped it on.  A large sheet of orange plastic was removed next, which he threw on the ground.  He pulled out a black canister and twisted the valve.  Kris heard a loud hissing and to her wonderment, the orange plastic sheet began to fill out and shortly resolved itself into the shape of a balloon.  It was attached to a nylon cord as thick as her wrist, which was attached to Dillon’s harness.

            More cracks were appearing and spurts and bubbles of red-hot magma were seeping upwards, oozing outwards in all directions.  The dome itself has thousands of cracks and jagged gashes opening in its surface.  Something exploded inside the dome and Dillon yelled, “Get down!”  They wrapped their arms over their heads for cover as debris was thrown far into the air and over the clearing.

            “We’re not going to make it!”  Kris screamed.

            “Just hang on tight to me!  Whatever you do, don’t let go!” 

            The balloon rose into the sky, and suddenly Kris knew what Dillon was up to.

            “You can’t be serious!”

            “You wanna stay and blow up?  Do what I tell you!”

            Kris wrapped her arms around Dillon’s neck and her legs around his waist as the cargo plane appeared again.  It was flying somewhat higher now and a metal loop hung from the rear.  The speed of the plane increased.

            “What if he misses?”  Kris yelled.

            Dillon grinned and gave her a quick kiss.  “It’s gonna really ruin our day, then.  Hang on!”

            The cargo plane roared overhead and the metal loop dropped right over the balloon. It tightened on the nylon rope and Dillon and Kris were yanked off the ground and up into the sky.  Kris’s scream knifed through the air, in counterpoint to Dillon’s joyous “WAH-HOO!”.  They were tumbling wildly, twisting this way and that.  The trees at the edge of the clearing were coming up fast and Kris yowled “The trees!  The trees!”

            Inside the plane, the cable was being winched inside as Eli yanked back on the yoke, climbing for altitude. Dillon’s legs brushed the top of the trees as they barely cleared them.

            Behind them, the ground under Odin’s complex seemed to sag as if tired and then with a rending BOOM!, a jet of super hot magma burst through the concrete path and leaped upwards for a thousand feet, spewing this way and that.  A rush of hot air washed over them as the plane climbed higher.  The dome broke apart as if it were made of plastic, another terrible explosion ripping through the structure.  The building that had housed the mercenaries caught fire and burst apart as if it had been dynamited.  Odin’s dome collapsed, crumbling into rubble, and the dreams of a doomed family crumbled along with it.   More explosions tore The Voice apart for all time and the components fell into a lake of magma to be melted into sludge.  Great gouts of magma arced into the air, washing over the dome and covering it as if it had never existed.  It was as if the earth herself was determined to eradicate the offensive structure.
                                                                                                                      
            Dillon and Kris were winched into the plane and helped inside by Eli’s men, who were grinning in relief at the narrow escape.  Eli hurried into the back, jerking a thumb at one of his men to go forward and take the controls.  Kris was helped to a bucket seat that folded out from the bulkhead while Dillon just leaned up against a cargo container, his sweat-streaked face displaying his usual Cheshire Cat grin.

            Eli shook his head and laughed softly.  “Can I ask you just ONE question?”

            “Considering you’ve just saved my life, why not?”

            “Do you have a reason why you cut these thing so damn close?”

            Dillon shrugged and gratefully took a bottle of water from one of Eli’s crew before answering: “Wouldn’t be any fun otherwise, now would it?”  He looked over at Kris, who was breathing loudly with her head between her knees.  “How you doin’ over there, kid?”

            Kris sat up straight, her lovely face flushed with excitement and fear, and pushed back her hair before answering:

            “One of these days you are going to have to get a real job.”

            Eli roared with laughter.  “So we through here?  The Voice of Odin destroyed?”

            Dillon swallowed more water and nodded.  “Blown to pieces.”

            “Bad guys dead?”

            “Roasting in Hell where they belong.”

            “So where do you want to go now?”

            “Back to Antofagasto.  Take a couple of days to rest up and relax.  Then New York.”

            Eli frowned.  “You sure that’s a good idea?  You remember what happened the last time you were there.  The cops’ll be on your ass in no time.”

            Dillon grinned again and gestured at Kris.  “Gotta take my date home, don’t I?”





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