Going home: Great Oaks, Part 1
It was a loop. One of the logical conundrum one of the sergeants liked to recite. He could break the window, that would cut the loop, but it would attract attention. He widened the diagram to include the entire door and saw there was a gap at the base of the window. Very narrow and covered by a rubber strip.
He didn’t have anything thin enough to slip in. And a quick look around didn’t show him anything he could use. An empty can had possibility, but it was too flimsy.
He ran for the businesses, the one directly in front of him had a sign reading ‘Reignheart Medical Clinic.’ There was a hair and fur stylist on the left and a pharmacy on the right. He entered the clinic and looked around for something to use.
“Can I help you?” The woman seated behind the counter looked at him expectantly. She was human, older, in her fifties; his mother’s age, the thought came unbidden, when he left for the army. With it came the reminder that she was now dead and he felt a pang of sorrow. Only he couldn’t deal with that right now. There was something more important. There had to be something here that would let him open the door.
A lion in a doctor’s smock opened a door and let an older lemur out. He froze. “Eric?”
Eric forced himself to look at him, then was surprised to recognize him. “Mister Reignheart?” How was it that of everyone in the city, he’d run into him for a second time?
The lion smiled. “Do you need assistance with anything?”
Eric began shaking his head, then stopped. He opened the door and pointed to the minivan. “Do you know who owns that?”
Walter came to him and peered across the lot. “I’m afraid I don’t.” He looked at the older woman. “Jennifer?”
She joined them. “No. It was there when I got here this morning. It must belong to one of the other people in the plaza.
Eric nodded and ignored Walter’s questioning expression. He couldn’t waste time going around looking for the owner. It might explode during that time. Once he’d disarm it he could work on figuring out who the target was.
He looked over the counter at what was on the desk, hoping the receptionist had one of those thin metal rulers that had been popular with his classmates, but there was nothing like that. Not even papers or a pencil. All there was on the counter was a computer, a phone and a tablet.
Maybe someone in the waiting room might have something? Many of the women had large purses and they looked like they could contain anything they needed. His mother’s purse had certainly seemed like it contained whatever she needed, no matter how strange. But it wouldn’t be polite to just rummage through them.
He stepped forward to ask them to look for something and a small plant with thin reflective leaves became visible at the back of the room, next or one of the office doors. Reflective? What plant had metallic leaves? And then the object resolved itself.
It wasn’t a plant. It was a short pole with thin metal bands jutting off, curling at the end, it gave the illusion of a very crude fern. If it was an art piece, Eric thought as he stepped to it, he didn’t see the appeal.
Walter called after him, as did a woman as she opened her office door, but he ignored them. The ‘leaves’ were thin enough, and there was enough of a straight length for what he needed.
He broke one off, the weld easily giving out, and headed out. “I need to borrow this.”
Walter and the others stood there, watching him leave.
He cut the jagged end where the welding had been done and then made a notch in the side, to use and catch the mechanism. He slipped it in, having to force it past the rubber and then it scraped down the inside of the door.
After that it was guesswork, moving the strip and trying to get the notch to grab onto the rod so he could pull it up. He could see the lock mechanism easily enough, but the metal strip he was using wasn’t technological.
Twice he thought he’d gotten it, only for nothing to happen when he pulled. The second time he pulled hard in frustration and it came out. He forced himself to calm, he wouldn’t accomplish anything by getting angry. He pushed it back in and tried again.
Steps caught his attention, regular, firm, approaching from the sidewalk, not the shops. A police officer had to have noticed him and came to investigate. Hopefully he could explain about the bomb without having to say too much about when he could do.
As the steps came closer, he could make out three sets of them. When he looked in the window, expecting to see the blue and yellow of the Tiranis Police Department, he saw people dressed in black and wearing face-covering masks.
He reacted without thinking on seeing the arm reach for him. He turned and shoved it aside, then brought up his in a defensive pose.
The person before him studied him, a man, Eric thought, which was confirmed when he spoke. “You’re meddling in things that don’t concern you.”
Eric couldn’t tell if they were humans or furries. Their masks all had muzzles, but they also had bumps where human ears would be, and their head covering would keep furry ears out of sight. It was a simple, and clever disguise.
The one thing Eric could tell about them was that they had training. They stood relaxed, but they all had a hand near the knife each had at their belt, and they were ready to act. He couldn’t see guns, so that was good.
Eric smiled. “I like to think that bombs concern everyone, don’t you?”