Page 42
Machine Man

“Lie down on the floor!” Carl said. He looked nervous. I didn’t like Carl nervous. Not when he had a gun pointed at me. “Let go of that woman and lie down!”

Lola Banks squeezed my hand. She didn’t look like she wanted to be let go. There was fear in her eyes, and I felt sad, because a second ago she had been so happy. She had been radiant, and Carl had ruined it.

Lie down!

In retrospect, it was foolish to have imagined Better Future wouldn’t track me to the cafe. I had fled their premises wearing about twelve million dollars worth of equipment. I hadn’t thought about how that would look, from their perspective.

The guards didn’t approach any closer, though. They hovered at a radius of twenty feet, bristling with guns. It occurred to me that as far as Carl knew, my legs were armed. Conceivably, I could have built in some firepower. In this moment, I wished I had. I wished I could sweep them all away and carry Lola out of here.

“Don’t let them take you,” Lola whispered. “Don’t go back there, Charlie.”

I heard a noise behind me, and turned my head. I was wrong about the security radius: two were sneaking up on me.

“Grab him!” Carl said. “Pull him out of the legs and put him on the floor.”

“No!” Lola said. She jumped forward and threw out her arms. It was as if she was going to fly toward Carl and wrench his gun away, or call down the wrath of the gods, or something. I don’t know. All I know is Carl pivoted and shot Lola twice in the heart.


Previous Page
Next Page