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THE MAN OF STEEL, Part Two

Short story By: Philip Roberts
Horror



The 3nd in order of a new series of horror stories featuring "new legends!"

How could a creature composed steel like a living robot be murdering people in the English town of Briarly on Sea? And how can Colin Klein stop the Man of Steel?


Submitted:May 20, 2013    Reads: 9    Comments: 0    Likes: 0   


"Take care!" warned Amy, as the Man of Steel swung the girder, which connected with Terry's right shoulder with a loud bony crunching.

"Aaaaaah!" screamed Terry, as he dropped to his knees in agony.

"Get up, Terry!" warned Amy.

Too late, as the Man of Steel swung the girder kung fu-style again, to cave in the head of the blonde youth.

"Oh Jesus!" wept Amy. Turning away she threw up over the edge of the building. Only hoping that it didn't land on anyone below. 'There must be people below trying to get to us!' she thought. Then remembering the girder hurled down the lift shaft, she thought, "But they have no way to get to us!' Hearing the jingle-jangle of fire alarms she thought, 'Help is on the way!' Then she realised: 'But their ladders can't reach up fifty-two storeys! And with the lift gone, they'll have to run up the stairs! Fifty-two storeys!'

Nonetheless she cried out: "The stairs! We've got to head out into the stairwell!"

"Fifty-two storeys?" asked an Asian labourer, Donald.

"It's our only chance!" cried Amy. Not waiting to see if the others followed, she turned and ran across the building to the stairwell.

Which took her within a yard of the reach of the Man of Steel. However, as the surviving men raced after Amy, the metallic creature lost interest in her and gave out a cog-grinding screech of rage at the notion that the labourers might escape his bloody revenge.

* * *

In the lift cage, Colin Klein and Iain Tennyson clung on with fingers red as beets. Only hoping that the single floorboard remaining would not give way. Since neither man believed he could hang on by his fingers alone.

Hearing the sound of fire sirens, Iain Tennyson said: "Help is on the way."

"Can modern fire ladders reach up this many storeys?" asked Klein hopefully.

"No," admitted Tennyson.

* * *

Maxine and the three male PCs raced over to speak to the driver as the fire truck pulled into the building site.

"We think it's stuck just below the twenty-third storey," said Maxine.

"Shit!" said the driver, waiting till the four Bobbies leapt onto the fire truck before starting forward again.

Directed by Maxine, he stopped the truck near a mountain of orangey sand near the base of the lift well.

* * *

Hearing the metallic rattle crunching of the Man of Steel racing after them, Amy did her best not to look back. Even as a sickening thunk and a truncated scream told her that there were now only seven of them left alive.

"Come on!" called Amy as she reached the fiftieth floor landing. "Keep going, don't look back."

Hearing a thunk and further scream, she realised there were now only six of them left alive, fleeing the madness of the Man of Steel.

* * *

"Can your ladders reach twenty-three storeys?" asked Maxine as the firemen started strapping ropes and gear to themselves.

"No," said the driver, Ralph, "but they can fast-track us up the first ten storeys. Then it's the stairs the rest of the way."

"How do you get them out?" asked Maxine, having to run to keep up with Ralph.

"That's what the ropes are for."

"Oh," said Maxine, trying to sound more confident than she felt, as half-a-dozen men stood on top of the ladder to be spun out and up ten storeys at an alarmingly fast rate.

Despite herself, Maxine had to look away as the lead fireman stepped from the slightly swaying ladder, across the railing, into the tenth storey.

"Don't worry, they'll get them out," said a young PC beside her.

"I hope so," said Maxine. Flipping open her cell phone she pressed button one to relay the message to Inspector Tennyson.

* * *

"They're on the way," said Iain Tennyson to Colin Klein. "The ladder fast-tracked them to the tenth storey. Now they're running up to the twenty-third floor."

"That's above us," said the redheaded reporter.

"They have to lower themselves to us to pull us up to safety."

* * *

On the forty-fifth storey, Amy had to stop to catch her breath - now starting to doubt that any of them could reach the ground floor alive.

She stepped back into the forty-fifth storey landing to allow any of the men past. But no one arrived for what seemed like minutes. And she started to wonder if all of the others were dead?

Finally, to her relief, two men - Derek and Vince -- ran past her, down toward the forty-fourth storey. 'Is that all?' she wondered, her breathing a little closer to normal again.

Hearing metallic crunch-crunch-crunching, she looked up to see the Man of Steel just one landing above her.

'Time to move!' she realised, as she raced down the concrete steps after the two fleeing men.

* * *

Hearing sounds above them, Colin Klein and Iain Tennyson looked up to see at least five firemen looking over the railing of the twenty-third storey.

Two of the firemen were shining strong torches down toward them.

Two others were helping Ralph into a safety harness, ready to lower him over the side of the building.

"Won't be long now!" called Ralph, not bothering to tell them to hold on.

* * *

On the thirty-seventh storey landing Derek and Vince, the last two male labourers alive, made the fatal mistake of stopping.

Between panting breaths Derek pointed into the thirty-seventh storey. "In there."

"What …?" asked Vince, not comprehending.

"Let's hide in there. And hope the bloody thing thunders straight past us."

Vince started to argue. But almost collapsing from exhaustion he followed Derek into the thirty-seventh storey.

* * *

Lumbering along, unable to take the steps two at a time, like the human vermin it chased, the Man of Steel could make out the running figure of Amy ahead of it.

It followed her past the thirty-ninth storey, the thirty-eighth storey, the thirty-seventh storey, and started down toward the thirty-sixth storey, then stopped. From behind it the Man of Steel could hear shallow wheezing, despite the best efforts of Derek and Vince to silence their panting.

Doing it's best to smile with its metallic raptor-like beak, the Man of Steel slowly turned back and started up toward the thirty-seventh storey landing.

* * *

Now on the thirty-sixth storey, Amy could hear the crunch-crunch of the Man of Steel's snapping jaws and the clatter-clunking of his metallic feet, seemingly just behind her.

"Oh God!" cried Amy somehow managing to accelerate a little, wondering why she did not overtake the two men ahead of her?

* * *

"Okay, easy does it," said Ralph, as he helped Colin Klein into a safety harness. "Now comes the hard part."

"What's that?" asked the redheaded reporter.

"You have to bring yourself to let go of the wire sides of the cage, before we can pull you up."

"Oh," said Colin Klein, having been unaware that he still clung to the wire cage so hard that his knuckles glowed white.

* * *

"I think it's gone past," whispered Vince, standing beside he open doorway holding a pinch bar. 'With any luck it'll race after Amy and forget us,' thought Vince aware that she had passed them again when they had gone into the building proper. He didn't care if the Man of Steel killed Amy, or even Derek, as long as Vince himself got away unharmed.

"Yeah, you could be …" said Derek, stopping as the Man of Steel suddenly clatter-clunked through the doorway. "Look out!"

As the metallic creature stepped into the storey, Vince swung his pinch bar with force at the metal monster. Shrieking as the bar rebounded off the Man of Steel's beaked head, Vince turned to run away.

Too late. The Man of Steel reached out with his left arm to grab the young man by the throat.

Vince struggled frantically for a second, then with a sound like crunching egg shells the metallic creature crushed his windpipe.

Releasing his latest victim, the Man of Steel did not bother to look round to confirm Vince's death. Instead, smirking as best as it's raptor-beaked visor allowed, the monster advanced upon Derek. Who cowered in terror, too afraid to even run for his life as the metallic creature swung the iron girder and effortlessly pulped in his head to the shoulders.

* * *

Almost crying from exhaustion and terror, Amy reached the twenty-third floor landing. She almost raced straight past, but hearing talking, she stopped and looked inside, where she saw Ralph and the firemen helping Iain Tennyson into the twenty-third storey, where the redheaded Colin Klein already stood, still looking a little shaky on his legs - as though wishing that he still had something to cling to with all his might.

"Oh, my God, you're both alive," said Amy to Klein and Tennyson as she stepped into the twenty-third storey.

"Thanks to him," said Colin Klein, patting Ralph on the back.

"Well, you won't be for much longer unless you follow me?" said Amy, starting back out into the landing. "That metallic monster isn't far behind me."

"What metallic monster?" asked Colin Klein.

"The thing that chews the heads off six-inch bolts," said Amy. "It's killed the new works foreman, Tom Stephens, and I think eleven others, including Adele. And now it's after me!"

"Metallic monster?" said Iain Tennyson, sounding as though he thought that she were insane. Then stepping out into the twenty-third floor landing he looked up and stared in horror at the Man of Steel, just coming past the twenty-fourth storey landing.

"Jesus, what is it?" asked Ralph, as the others gathered around Tennyson on the landing.

"Let's not wait around to find out," suggested Colin Klein. Turning, he sped down the concrete steps after Amy.

After a second's hesitation, Ralph, Tennyson and the others started down the steps after Klein.

"Stop on the tenth storey!" Klein called to Amy in the lead. "The extension ladder is set up there!"

"Okay," she shouted back, without slowing her downward charge.

* * *

On the tenth floor, they found that they had a problem. "The ladder can only take at most six people at once," pointed out Ralph.

"Then who goes first?" asked Colin Klein.

"You three, and Giorgio, Alistair, and Ronny!" said Ralph.

"Why us?" demanded Ronnie, a tall thin black man. "Why not you?"

"No time to argue!" said Colin Klein.

"He's right," said Ralph, "now get onto the bloody ladder!"

With a guilty hesitancy Amy, Klein, Iain Tennyson and the three firemen climbed out onto the ladder, which started descending at a seeming snail's pace.

Behind them Ralph and the other firemen turned and raced out into the tenth storey landing.

"Can't this thing go any faster?" demanded Tennyson as they inched downwards.

"Not without risking falling," explained Giorgio.

After what seemed an eternity to Colin Klein and the others, the ladder reached the top of the fire truck.

"Okay, everybody off!" ordered Ronny.

"Quickly, but carefully," instructed Giorgio, despite making no move to climb from the ladder himself.

"Aren't you coming?" asked Alistair, a bulked up blonde man, with Asian looks - a strangely pleasing combination.

"No, I'm going back up to get Ralph and the others," Giorgio said as Klein and the others climbed to the ground.

"Be careful!" warned Colin Klein as the ladder started up again.

The ladder had almost reached the tenth floor again, with lights from the fire truck lighting the way, when the beaklike visor of the Man of Steel peered over the railing at the edge of the building.

"Stop! Stop! Stop!" called Colin Klein and the operator stopped the ladder a few yards shy of the tenth storey.

As the Man of Steel tried to lean out toward the ladder, Giorgio began gesticulating wildly.

"I think he wants you to take him down one storey?" guessed Colin Klein.

When the ladder was lowered one storey, Giorgio continued pointing down until they lowered him to the eighth storey.

"Take him closer," ordered Iain Tennyson, and the operator did as instructed.

At the same time the Man of Steel disappeared back into the depths of the tenth storey.

"Look out!" called Colin Klein as Giorgio stepped over the railing into the eighth floor.

* * *

After a few minutes, they saw movement on the eighth storey.

"I think he's coming back," said Ronnie.

Instead the metallic arms of the Man of Steel reached out and grabbed the expansion ladder as though to climb out onto it.

"Pull it back!" called Klein and the ladder operator attempted to comply. But the Man of Steel held on, determined, it seemed, to climb out onto the ladder.

"Pull back!" repeated Colin Klein. But for a few minutes a tug-of-war ensued, with the Man of Steel trying to rip the ladder away from the fire truck.

"Look out!" warned Colin Klein.

"He can't be stronger than the fire truck!" insisted Ronnie.

Yet even as he spoke, there came a great metallic wrenching, and the top portion of the ladder broke away in the hands of the metallic creature.

"Jesus! That's impossible!" said Alistair.

"It happened," pointed out Klein, as the remainder of the extension ladder reined down toward them, with the extension mechanism having shorted out completely.

"Slow it down! Slow it down!" cried Alistair, trying to leap to the ground.

Too late though, as the massive metal ladder collided with the fire truck, with an explosive crack like thunder. Killing Alistair and the ladder operator, and almost toppling the fire truck, despite its stabilisers.

"Look out!" called Colin Klein.

The redheaded reporter, Iain Tennyson and the fire fighters all ran out toward the street, as the fire truck rocked on its mounts like a metallic tsunami. However, the stabilising mounts - two on each side of the truck lowered before sending the ladder up - managed to hold on. And in a few seconds the tsunami died down to a metal-creaking rocking. Then died out entirely.

"Now what?" asked Ronny.

"Now we call for re-enforcements with blow torches," said Iain Tennyson, "and we go back up to save the others if possible, and destroy that metallic fiend!"

"We've got flame throwers for burning off at the station," said Ronny.

"Okay," said Iain Tennyson. And Ronny quickly rang for the department's second fire truck to be send out with the flamethrowers.

* * *

Half-an-hour later Iain Tennyson, Colin Klein, Ronnie and two other firemen were kitted out in flame-resistant suits, wearing backpacks with a flamethrower attachment.

"You sure you want to come along?" Tennyson asked Klein.

"I'm a journalist, remember," explained the redheaded man.

"So what? I really should exclude you," teased Tennyson.

"It wouldn't be the first time you lot have excluded me from a genuine news story," teased back Colin Klein.

After checking that the flamethrowers were all working, the five men started slowly up the concrete steps.

* * *

On the fourth floor landing, they found the corpses of Giorgio and another fireman. Both had had their heads caved in to the necks. So their identity could only be confirmed by the name tag on their overalls.

"Jesus!" said one of the firemen. Although seeing death, even mutilation before, he had never encountered anything like this.

"Are you all right?" asked Colin Klein, also shocked by the sight of the corpses.

"Yeah, I'm okay," said the young man, sounding anything but okay.

"You can go back downstairs if you want to," offered Ronnie.

"No … let's go on!" said the young man. Resisting the urge to add 'quickly'.

* * *

Half way to the fifth storey they found another fireman.

"Jesus!" said the young fireman, Ron, recognising the corpse as his elder cousin, Mitchell. 'How will I tell Aunt Edie and Uncle Jon?' he wondered.

After a moment Ron was surprised to find himself alone in the stairwell. He looked back down the steps, and then hearing footsteps above he started up at a run. He found Colin Klein and the others standing around the corpse of Giorgio, a couple of steps below the sixth storey landing.

"He didn't get very far from the eighth storey, did he?" said Klein.

"No, poor bastard," said Iain Tennyson.

"What now?" asked the redheaded reporter.

"Now we get him," said the inspector. "We've got the flamethrower packs, which these poor sods didn't have." Although he tried to sound confident, Tennyson thought, 'I only hope I'm not leading four more men to their doom?'

* * *

They carefully checked each storey with torches. So it was past dawn by the time that they all, exhausted, reached the fifty-second storey.

"We should have brought packed lunches," said Iain Tennyson, legs aching near cramping from fatigue, as his stomach rumbled load enough for the others to hear.

"Holy shit in a hand basket!" said Ronnie, as they saw the extent of the damage that the Man of Steel had done to the fifty-second storey. Most of the girders on one side of the floor had been ripped away and the floors overhead were leaning precariously out into the street.

"How man storeys are above this one?" asked Iain Tennyson.

"Eighteen more," said Ronnie.

"Looks like the Man of Steel has got his way," said Colin Klein. "The building will have to be pulled down now."

"At least the storeys above us," agreed Iain Tennyson.

"Well, who's up to a long walk back downstairs?" asked Klein, making Tennyson and the others groan in dismay. However, before any of them could tell the reporter where to go, they heard a metallic grinding from near at hand.

They span round, expecting to find the Man of Steel advancing upon them. Instead they saw the lift ascending with Maxine inside.

"They got it working again," said Tennyson, starting to question whether it was safe to use with the upper storeys nearly toppling out into the street. Then he noticed that the lift shaft did not extend past their storey.

"The works were fine," said Maxine, "it just needed a new floor and roof."

"Okay, let's go," said Colin Klein. And with due trepidation - remembering what had happened the day before when Klein and Iain Tennyson were trapped precariously in the lift cage - they stepped into the lift, which with a juddering rattle-crunch started downward.

* * *

On the ground floor Colin Klein was tempted to follow the Pope's example after flying and lean down to kiss the ground. Instead he stepped aside to let Iain Tennyson and the others out.

"What now?" asked one of the builders waiting ready to start work.

"No more building goes on here, until the storeys above the fifty-second get pulled down," ordered the inspector.

"We'll see what Mr Ingerman has to say about that," said the builder flipping open his cell phone.

"Fifteen men and one woman have died tonight because of that thing," said Tennyson pointing at the glass and chrome tower. "I don't care how rich and powerful Yosef Ingerman is … that building has to come down!"

"For sure," agreed Colin Klein.

"Like hell," said the workman. "No, no, not you, Mr Ingerman." He quickly related everything that had happened over the last twenty-four hours. Including Iain Tennyson insisting that the tower had to be pulled down.

* * *

Colin Klein, Iain Tennyson, Maxine, and the other PCs were sitting at the bar of the Man of Steel Public House, late the next evening, when a white stretch limo, a Cadillac Eldorado, pulled up outside the building site.

"Uh-oh," said Maxine, through a foam moustache.

"Don't worry," insisted Tennyson, standing. "I can handle Yosef Ingerman."

"I'll give you some moral support," said Klein following Iain Tennyson toward the street.

"Me too," said Maxine, following the two men out into the street across the road from the building site.

When they reached the building site, however, the stretch limo was parked near the lift shaft. And the lift was on the way up.

"What the hell is going on!" demanded Iain Tennyson, hearing the rattle clunking of the upward travelling cage.

"Sorry," apologised a young PC. "He barged his way into the restricted area and got into the lift and started up before we knew what he was planning."

"Mr Ingerman wanted to see the fifty-second storey for himself," explained his chauffeur, a tall, handsome black man. "Before deciding if the damage is sufficient enough to warrant any of the building being torn down."

"It's all coming down!" insisted Tennyson, going over to the controls of the lift. "Bring him back down!"

"It's too late, they've stepped out onto the fifty-second storey," said the man operating the lift controls.

"Shit!" cursed Iain Tennyson.

"Should I bring the lift back so you can follow?"

"What? And leave them with no means of escape if that thing is up there, waiting for them?" asked Colin Klein.

* * *

"Holy crap!" said Harold Weaver, the latest works foreman, as they stepped out onto the fifty-second storey. Seeing the upper floors leaning precariously into the streets, he said: "The upper storeys at least will have to come down."

"Can't the girders be replaced?" asked Yosef Ingerman, a fiercely blonde man, who looked Swiss or Norwegian, but spoke with a broad Brooklyn accent.

"If it didn't have eighteen more storeys on top of it," said Weaver. "As it is it would be impossible. We'd have to jack up all of those storeys to fit the new girders in … No it ain't possible, I'm afraid. That copper wants the whole building pulled down as it is."

"I'm used to dealing with smartass cops who don't know their place."

"Yes, Mr Ingerman," grovelled Weaver, stopping as he heard thumping on the floorboards behind them. "Sounds like someone's come up behind us."

"The cops?" asked Ingerman. Turning, he shone his light on the doorway as the Man of Steel clatter-clunked into the fifty-second storey.

"Holy," said Weaver: "What is it?"

"Who are you?" demanded Yosef Ingerman. "And take off that stupid set of armour!" To Weaver he added: "It's probably cheap plastic like the ones they say are in the inn across the road."

"That's no suit of armour!" said Weaver. He aimed his torch light at the thin metallic legs of the Man of Steel. Far too thin to have even polio-riddled human legs inside.

"Then what is it?" demanded Ingerman. For the first time in forty years sounding unsure of himself. "Some kind of robot?"

"Walking robots don't exist yet!" said Weaver. "It must be that monster they've all been talking about: the Man of Steel!"

'Monsters don't exist!' thought Yosef Ingerman. But somehow, looking at the metallic monster, Ingerman could not bring himself to voice the thought aloud.

For a moment the Man of Steel hesitated, as though uncertain whether to kill the two men. Or perhaps just liking the sound of his own name.

Sensing the creature's hesitation, Weaver briefly filled in the Billionaire on the legend of the Man of Steel. "They say he has killed nearly twenty people over the last thirty-six hours, solely to protect the pub that bares his name. To do that he has stopped the building of the second planned tower by delaying the finish of this one."

"No way!" said Ingerman, his fear replaced by anger. "If I do have to pull down the upper storeys above, then I'll start the building of the second tower immediately."

Clearly understanding Yosef Ingerman's words, the Man of Steel roared a metallic cog-grinding roar and started clatter clunking toward the two men.

"For God's sake promise him that the second tower won't go up!" begged Weaver as the metallic creature lumbered toward them.

"I'm a man of my word," insisted Ingerman. "When I say something, I have to mean it. I'm not lying just to appease that bunch of rusty nuts and bolts."

"Then mean it! For God's sake mean it!" shrieked Weaver as the Man of Steel rattle-crashed toward the two men.

"No way!" insisted Yosef Ingerman. "Work on the second tower starts as soon as possible. They can pull down the Man of Steel Public House first light tomorrow!"

With a metallic grinding of gears, as close to a snarl as the Man of Steel could get - the metallic monster charge toward them.

"The elevator! Make for the elevator!" cried Yosef Ingerman.

Without a word, Harold Weaver started toward the lift cage.

Too late, as the Man of Steel lumbered past the two men to get there first. Seeming half crazy with rage, the metallic creature grabbed the wire-sided cage and began twisting back and forth furiously. Until, with a metallic screeching as though the lift were in pain, the metal monster ripped the entire wire cage right out of the lift well.

"The stairs!" called Yosef Ingerman, and he and Harry Weaver reversed direction and raced across the plank flooring.

Seeing them running away, the Man of Steel rattle crunched after them, then turned back and tossed the wire cage off the edge of the building.

* * *

At ground level, Colin Klein and Iain Tennyson were still debating what to do when the operator called out: "The lift's just gone dead!"

They had started toward the control panel, when Maxine suddenly called: "Incoming!" pointing to where something was falling toward them.

They looked up toward the plummeting lift cage for a second. Then, Tennyson called: "Scatter everyone!"

Without a word Colin Klein, Iain Tennyson, Maxine, and the others raced behind the nearest pile of orangey sand.

Only seconds before the lift cage crashed to the hard mud, right where they had all been standing near the base of the lift shaft only seconds earlier.

"It's the lift!" said Maxine.

"Jesus!" blasphemed the lift operator. "That explains why the controls went dead!"

"Thanks, Maxine, I owe you one," said Iain Tennyson.

"Jesus! How can they get down now?" said Colin Klein, remembering all of the corpses that they had found throughout the stairwell. "We know it's not possible to beat that thing down fifty-two flights of stairs!"

The others turned to look at Klein, and then slowly turned back to gaze at the dim lit fifty-second storey of the tower.

Colin Klein and Maxine started toward the concrete stairs when Iain Tennyson called them back: "No, wait! You can't run up fifty-two storeys faster than they can run down - we all found that out yesterday. Wait for the fire truck and we can fast track up to the tenth storey again."

"Well …" said Maxine, sounding as uncertain as Colin Klein felt. Neither liked standing round doing nothing when people were in danger.

* * *

On the fifty-second storey Harry Weaver and Yosef Ingerman raced out onto the concrete landing, then started down the steps two at a time.

They expected to hear the metallic clatter crunching of the metal monster start after them.

Instead the Man of Steel raced over to where a number of iron girders were already missing from the outer framework of the tower. Gears grinding angrily, the metallic creature grabbed the nearest pylon in his metallic hands and ripped it away from the already unsteady framework.

Not caring for his own safety, the Man of Steel swung the pylon like a bamboo pole crashing it into another pylon, with a bell clanger-like crash. With a rebound that would have killed a man. But not seeming to notice the lethal recoil, the Man of Steel continued to smash the pylon again and again against the metal framework, until one of the girders flew out of the framework to crash down toward the building site.

* * *

"Incoming projectile!" called Maxine, as her superior night vision allowed her to spot the first falling pylon long before Colin Klein or Inspector Tennyson.

By then the police and building staff had all backed out into the street. So they were well out of the danger zone when the metal pylon crashed down to earth, buried itself a foot or more into the hard earth, and mysteriously continued to stand upright.

"Incoming!" called Maxine again as a second pylon plummeted after the first, also to part bury itself into the earth and stay upright. It was soon followed by a third, fourth, and fifth pylon - two of which hit the ground side-on and lay there, one of which hit end on and stayed erect like the first two.

"What the hell is going on!" demanded Iain Tennyson as subsequent pylons began crashing to earth.

"I don't know, sir," said Maxine, as they all heard the sound of an approaching fire truck.

At the same time, a young constable watching the tower through night binoculars called: "Look out! It's starting to go!"

Looking up at his words, they could see the storeys above the fifty-second floor starting to topple slowly toward the street.

"Shit in a hand basket!" said Iain Tennyson. "Back to the pub, everyone."

Without hesitation, Maxine, Klein and the others raced across toward the Man of Steel Public House.

* * *

Harold Weaver and Yosef Ingerman were down to the forty-eighth storey when they felt a tremor race through the framework of the entire building.

"Move it!" ordered Ingerman. And Weaver, who was in the lead accelerated.

As the tremors turned to serious quaking, the stairwell roiled, throwing Weaver to the concrete steps.

"Holy shit!" cried Harry Weaver as he slid face first toward the forty-seventh storey landing. Behind him, he could hear Yosef Ingerman screaming.

Looking back, he saw the storeys above him lurch outward and disappear down toward the building site. Taking the American billionaire with them.

"Oh Jesus!" blasphemed Weaver, climbing unsteadily to his feet. He began racing down the concrete steps as though the Man of Steel were just behind him. Although, like Yosef Ingerman, the metallic monster had toppled to the building site below, along with the top forty-eight storeys of the tower.

* * *

Colin Klein, Maxine, Iain Tennyson and the others were at the door of the Man of Steel Public House, when the upper storeys of the Towers hit the building site like a bomb. Sending up mountains of concrete dust, and metal girders, plastering the whole town of Briarly on Sea in white dust, like New York after the 9/11 tragedy.

* * *

Two days later Colin Klein, Harry Weaver, and Iain Tennyson were all in the same ward of the local hospital - actually in a neighbouring town - when in walked a tall, attractive brunette of perhaps fifty, wearing a black fake mink coat.

"Mrs Ingerman?" guessed Tennyson correctly.

"Jocelyn Ingerman, Inspector," said the brunette, pulling the coat up around her neck as though the air-conditioning had suddenly failed in the hospital. "I came over to collect my husband's remains … so I thought I'd stop in to see how you all are."

"Not bad," said Iain Tennyson, using the overhead pulley to pull himself up the bed a little. "Mr Klein and I will be released in a day or two. Mr Weaver perhaps in a week or so."

"Actually it was Mr Weaver, whom I really wanted to talk to," said Jocelyn Ingerman. "I was hoping he could tell me a little about my husband's final moments?"

Colin Klein and the others exchanged glances, wondering what they could tell Jocelyn Ingerman? What they should tell her?

"I've already been told about that Man of Steel creature," she said. "I just wondered if there was anything that Yosef could have done … anything that might have saved his life?"

"Well …" said Harold Weaver. He sighed deeply, and then went on to tell the widow what had happened on the fifty-second storey two nights earlier. "If he had only agreed to tear down the first tower … or at least not build the second tower - I'm sure that thing would have let us both go. But your husband would not promise to do so."

"Yes, Yosef always was a stubborn bastard. I guess he chose to die his own way, instead of letting someone, or something else tell him how to live."

As the tall brunette turned to leave, Colin Klein called: "What about Ingerman Towers, Mrs Ingerman?"

Turning back, Jocelyn Ingerman said: "I'm having the remains of the first tower pulled down and the second tower won't be built. I've handed the deeds to the Man of Steel Public House back to Bernard Warner."

"Thank God!" said Klein as the shapely brunette left, passing Maxine as she came to visit Colin Klein and Iain Tennyson.

THE END

© Copyright 2013 Philip Roberts

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia





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