Here is the next installment. If I am posting these too slow for you, you can buy the entire manuscript as a pdf from me at http://garden.vagobond.com/purchase-the-hu-factor/
And I am archiving the chapters at http://vagobond.posterous.com Please share this, plus one it, and help me to find an agent and a publisher so that I can feel good about continuing the series…and feed my family while I do it. Who knows maybe Syfy will even make a series of it that survives longer than one season. As always…I strongly encourage you to give me feedback whether it is editing, plot holes, emotional response (cool, that sucks, I love that guy) or even “I love it” (and that last one is especially good for us writer types – it’s like crack – we can’t get enough of it)
For whatever reason, Vlad had decided to help Ben escape from the building. Once started, his energy was focused and enormous. There were no more outbursts of speech, no more accusations, and no more self pity from this man. Instead, he examined the door, the hallway, the rooms, and everything else with a no nonsense demeanor that didn’t encourage further conversation. His questions were short, to the point, and infrequent.
“Have you seen anything that we might use as a lever or wedge?”
Ben answered no.
“Ben, find me a large rock with a somewhat pointy end.”
Ben did as he was told. Having made some sort of decision, Vlad was not only suddenly confident, he was commanding. Ben found himself wondering if he had indeed been the leader of a group of revolutionaries. If he had been told that the man he had not too long ago clothed had been a violent revolutionary, he would have found it very hard to believe, but this new awakened Vlad was the kind of man that spoiled white college kids would silkscreen onto t-shirts. The change was remarkable. He almost would have said unbelievable, were it not for the circumstances Ben found himself having to acknowledge as reality.
He vaguely remembered having heard about a terrorist bombing in the Caribbean several years before. He had lumped it in with the bombings that frequently happened in all non first world countries. In general, Ben was more sympathetic than the average American to revolutionary causes, but the wars on terror had done a good job of lumping all anti government violence together into one giant category called terrorism. The international media had managed to take the thunder from bombs and thus diffuse the media attention that had used to follow bombings, hijackings, and other violent forms of protest. Violent protest had become as blasé as sit-ins and teach-ins.
Ben found a sheared stone block that looked like it fit the bill of what Vlad had called for. He returned to the heavy door with it and found the farmer squatting down with his ear pressed against it. He was knocking on it, listening, and then knocking on it again. Ben couldn’t resist the words that popped out of his mouth.
“I don’t think there is anyone home.”
Vlad gave him a withering look. “The door is solid wood. It is probably two inches thick. I don’t think we will be able to break it down. Did you get what I asked for?”
Ben handed him the block.
Vlad took it and stood. “ I think this will work.”
And with that, he lifted the stone and brought it down against the wall. There were sparks as the stone struck and the sound of metal chiming at the impact.
“I thought you said we won’t be able to break it down?” Ben was still reeling from the change that had overcome his companion.
“We can’t break down the door. The wood is too strong. It is the metal hinges I am trying to break.” Ben hadn’t noticed the hinges himself.
“Should I do anything?” Ben asked.
Vlad turned and Ben thought he actually saw a smile in the darkness. “Yes, why don’t you go tear some of that cloth into strips and braid it into some sort of a rope.” It must have been a smile, but none the less, Ben did as he was told to. He didn’t have long to work on the rope before he heard a heavy crashing disrupt the metallic thuds of the rock against the hinges. The door had fallen.
“Ben, bring what you have, we may need it.”
He didn’t know what he had expected, but behind the door were concrete steps in a narrow stairwell. It felt fairly anticlimactic as they simply walked down four flights of steps and found another door. Vlad simply pushed on it and it opened. They emerged into an open lobby that faced the street. It was still light enough to see that the glass which had once closed in the lobby, had long since been broken out. They were free, but as he thought it, Ben realized he didn’t have any idea what freedom meant anymore.