Seated at the bar of the Man of Steel Public House in Briarly on Sea, Colin Klein tried hard not to boggle at the stone walled pub.In recognition of its name, the Man of Steel was made up to look like a room in a mediaeval castle, with long wooden benches instead of tables and grey plastic suits of armour in three corners.
Leaning toward the barman, Bertrand, who needed little encouragement to talk, the redheaded forty-eight year old said: “The Man of Steel?That’s another name for superman, isn’t it?”
“Possibly,” said Bertrand, “but ours isn’t that Man of Steel.”
“Pity,” said Colin Klein, “a Superman Inn might have helped sell my book.”
“You’re a novelist?” asked the publican.
“No, investigative reporter.At the moment I’m on long-service leave, and I’m trying to get together a book about British Pubs and their legends.”
“Well, I don’t know what I can tell you about the Man of Steel,” said Bertrand.Without being asked, he topped up Klein’s pint of dark lager.“It’s an ancient legend that has become fuzzy with time.”
Colin Klein looked round at the clatter as an intoxicated regular seemed to be wrestling with one of the plastic suits of armour.Extricating himself at last, the large man staggered past them toward the men’s room, which had an etching of a knight in armour on the door to signify men.
Looking back, Colin Klein asked: “A bit vague then?Like most local legends.”
Nodding, Bertrand said: “Some folk say that the Man of Steel was a knight in full armour from days of yore.Others say he was a man who wore some kind of metal mask and chest guard, like Ned Kelly in Glen Rowan.Others say the Man of Steel is some kind of supernatural creature made of steel, that eats iron bars.”
“Like a living robot?” suggested Klein.
“Well, I guess so.I never really thought of it like that.”
They continued to make small talk, while Colin Klein sipped room-temperature lager, for a while, until the barman asked: “Will you be staying long in this area, Mr Klein?”
“A couple of weeks, possibly,” said the redheaded reporter.“If that’s all right.”
“Fine, glad to have the room let out.If we’re still around that long.”
“Are you selling up then?”
“Forced closure,” said Bertrand walking around the bar.He indicated for the reporter to follow as he walked across to the large main window of the public house.Pointing across the street to where a great skyscraper was being built across the road, Bertrand said: “Because of that monstrosity.”
“The tower going up?How come?”
“It’s one of twin towers.Once they finish that one, they start on the second tower.Right where we’re standing.So the Man of Steel will be no more.”
“I’m sorry,” said Colin Klein sincerely, “it’s a great shame.”
“Damn right,” agreed one of the regulars.
“It’s a pity the Man of Steel isn’t around in real life.“He was supposed to be some kind of defender of the poor and down-trodden.”
“Like a local Robin Hood?”
“Exactly.If he knew what they were planning to do to the pub bearing his name, maybe he’d defend it and save the day.”
Smiling ruefully, Colin Klein said: “Maybe.”
As they drank and talked, a yellow utility truck, marked “Ingerman Towers,” pulled up across the road.Two men in coveralls alighted and walked across the baked-mud ground toward a small, wire-cage lift which they entered.”
“Where to, Mr Davies?” asked the foreman, Leo, sliding closed the wire door.
“Forty-fifth floor, thanks,” said Davies one of the architects of the twin Ingerman Towers.
Leo worked the controls and with a juddering rattle crunching the lift lurched upwards.
“Does it always behave like this?” demanded Davies, obviously wary of the lift falling.
“Yes, Mr Davies.I guess we barely notice when we use it so much.”
After a few minutes the two men stepped out onto the thick planks, which stood in for flooring on the forty-fifth storey.
“When will work start on this level?” asked Davies as the two men stepped out of the lift cage.
“It’s supposed to start …” began the foreman, stopping in surprise as he saw the outline of a man at the other side of the storey.“Hey you, what are you doing on this level?”
At his words, Davies, a plump yet strong-looking man turned round to where the third man stood near a metal wheelbarrow, whose centre glowed red.
“He’s got a barrow of hot rivets,” said Davies.“Hey!Man!What are you doing on this storey?”
Ignoring the two men, the third man continued to lean across the barrow of red-hot bolts.
“Hey, you!What the hell are you doing up here?” demanded Davies, used to having men jump to answer his questions, not coldly ignore them.“You there, look at me when I speak to you!”
“Hey man!” called out the foreman, without receiving any recognition from the third man.
“Come on!” ordered Davies, and he strode purposefully across the rickety wooden planks, followed by the foreman, to where the third man stood near the wheelbarrow.
Ignoring the two men, the Man of Steel reached into the barrow with his right hand and picked up a glowing red six-inch long rivet.Seemingly without even feeling the heat.
“Oh, my God!” said Leo.
“What the hell do you …” began Davies.Stopping in shocked horror as the Man of Steel held the hot rivet up to his face.Then with a crunching, like a child crunching rock candy, the Man of Steel bit the head off the rivet.
“Are you insane!” shrieked Leo, the works foreman.
Then, the Man of Steel slowly turned to face the two men, who both stepped backward in shock.
“What the …?” said Davies, staring at the Man of Steel, who roughly resembled a human being.But with shiny, silvery skin, and a hooked beak like face, like the visor of a suit of armour.Or the beak of a prehistoric raptor.
“Holy, Lord above!” said Leo crossing himself.
Ignoring the two men, the Man of Steel continued crunching upon the hot rivet for a moment.Then reaching into the wheelbarrow, he lifted out a second glowing rivet, bit off the head, and began crunching the bolt loudly.Only then turning toward the two men, as Leo crossed himself again, and began to pray under his breath.
Dropping the stalk of the hot bolt back into the barrow, the Man of Steel continued crunching the hot metal.As, with loud mechanical screeching of metallic joints, he finally started toward the two interlopers.
“Get away!” cried Davies, too terrified to look away from the mechanical-fiend as it crunched hot metal and thumped its way toward them.
Too late, Davies turned to run.But the Man of Steel grabbed him in a bear hug and began to crush his chest with an audible crunching of ribs.And a strong smell of faeces as the architect fouled himself in death.
Pint glass still in hand, Colin Klein and the barman, Bertrand, stepped out onto the concrete footpath to peer at the glass and chrome tower under construction across the narrow road.
“There it is,” said Bertrand, as though the tower had been invisible through the plate glass window of the Man of Steel Public House.Across the road a tall chain-link fence ringed seemingly acres of land.Inside the yard were mountains of planks, steel pylons, mounds of orangey sand, bags of cement covered in plastic sheets as a precaution against England’s ever-unreliable weather, wheelbarrows and cement mixers.
Deep tracks in the hard-set mud in the fenced off area showed where heavy machinery had been used in the construction of the foundations, and to level the ground around the eyesore under construction.
“Yes,” said Colin Klein, stopping as a faint sound like screaming, or possibly birds shrieking, wafted across the road from the building site.“Do you hear that?”
“Probably just sea gulls, we get plagues of them,” proffered Bertrand, “we’re less than a mile from the sea, hence the name Briarly on Sea.”
“I don’t think so,” said the redheaded man as the shrilling continued from high above.“I’m pretty sure it’s screaming.”
Putting his pint glass on the step outside the pub, he added: “I think it’s coming from the building site?”
“You could be right,” agreed the barman.“They say that with these glass and chrome towers, on average one life is lost for each storey built.”
Without even realising that they were doing so, the two men began walking across the road toward the building site.A metal sign on one mesh gate warned, “Building site!Keep out!”However, the other gate was open wide, so the two men walked into the baked mud enclosure.
On the forty-fifth storey Leo, the works foreman, watched bug-eyed in terror as the Man of Steel effortlessly crushed the life out of Davies the architect.Who suddenly stopped screaming, as he died.
The Man of Steel dropped the lifeless body of Davies.Then, metallic limbs squeaking like a knight in rusty armour, the metallic creature began lurching in a horrid parody of walking toward the works foreman.
“Get away!” cried Leo, terrified, unaware that he was backing toward the edge of the building.
As the Man of Steel continued clatter clunking toward him, Leo finally found his feet.He span round and took to flight.Literally, as he ran straight over the low railing and out into space forty-five storeys up.
For a second the overhead screaming ceased, making Colin Klein and Bertrand stop, twenty odd paces from the glass and chrome tower.
Then as a more insistent shrieking began, accelerating toward them, the two men looked up as Leo plummeted toward them.
“Look out!” cried Klein.Grabbing the barman, he pulled him back from the yellow van that they had been standing near in front of the small lift shaft.
Just in time as the screaming works foreman crashed into the yellow van which seemed to exploded as though victim of a terrorist bombing.
“Holy, Lord!” said Bertrand, staring at the wreck which looked as though it had been through a car crusher.“How can one man cause all of that?”
“He must have fallen forty or fifty storeys,” guessed Colin Klein.“With gravity an acceleration of eight-and-a-half metres per second, it’s a wonder there’s any sign of the van left at all.”
As Klein tentatively looked into the wreck, in case somehow Leo was still alive, Bertrand clicked open a cell phone and rang emergency services.
Fifteen minutes later two police cars and an ambulance arrived at the building site.With Inspector Iain Tennyson, a tall, dark-haired man with a bushy moustache stepping out of the lead vehicle.To stare in dismay at Colin Klein.
“We meet again, inspector,” said Klein, by way of greeting.
Looking across at the levelled van, Iain Tennyson said: “We really must stop meeting like this Mr Klein … really, I’m not joking.Why is it that whenever you’re around wacky things happen.Like killers made out of water, or grass.Or Volkswagens turning out to be the re-incarnation of Jack-the-Ripper?”
“Don’t blame me, inspector.I don’t cause all the wacky things to happen,” said Colin Klein.“And you made up that one about the Volkswagens turning out to be the re-incarnation of Jack-the-Ripper.”
“If only you could make them stop happening,” said Tennyson.Turning toward the crowd of people now gathering round the wrecked van to watch as ambulance men used jaws-of-life cutters to extricate the remains of Leo from the metalwork of the van, Iain Tennyson asked: “Does anyone know what storey the fallen man may have been working on?”
A man in yellow coveralls said: “He and Mr Davies, one of the architects, were supposed to be checking out the forty-fifth storey.”
Looking at the empty lift shaft, Tennyson asked: “Can you bring the cage down?”
“Sure,” said the builder walking across to open a control box on the outside of the wire lift well.
A few minutes later Iain Tennyson and Colin Klein and the man in coveralls stepped out of the small lift onto the forty-fifth storey.Onto thick, rattly planks standing in for flooring.
Stepping warily round the creaking wooden planking, the three men looked slowly round the shell of a storey as the lift cage started rattle-clunking down to collect more police.
“Over there!” said Klein, pointing to where the crushed corpse of Melvyn Davies could be discerned in the dark shadows.
The three men tentatively stepped across to examine the corpse.Which had been crushed to the point where red and yellowy entrails had burst from the flattened torso.
“Christ, what happened to him?” said the builder, whose coveralls identified him as Sam Mally.
“Looks like superman really does reside here,” said Colin Klein.
“What?” asked Iain Tennyson, without raising his glance from the crushed corpse.
In a couple of minutes Colin Klein filled him in on his conversation earlier with the Man of Steel publican, Bertrand.
“Looks like the Man of Steel really is protecting the pub with his name,” said Klein.
“You think so?” asked Mally, prepared to believe anything after the impossible sight of Melvyn Davies’s crushed corpse.
“Of course not,” said Colin Klein, stopping as a glint in the shadows caught his gaze.Walking across he picked up the long, threaded bolt, sans head.
“What the hell is it?” asked Tennyson as he and Mally walked over to Colin Klein.
“I … I don’t know,” said the redheaded reporter.
“Looks like the neck of a rivet with the head crunched off,” said Sam Mally.
“How the hell do you crunch the head off a rivet this size?” asked Colin Klein, holding up the six-inch neck that remained.
Sam Mally shrugged, moving to take the remains of the rivet from the redheaded man.When a loud crunch like a child crunching rock candy rang out from nearby.
The three men looked around the storey for a moment.Then as a second crunch was heard, Klein said: “I think it’s coming from the next storey up.”
Looking overhead, Sam Mally said: “There shouldn’t be anyone up there.”
Then as more brittle crunching came, Iain Tennyson said: “You’re right, Mr Klein, it’s coming from upstairs.”
Without waiting for the others, Tennyson span round and strode out into the concrete landing and climbed two steps at a time to the forty-sixth floor landing.
“Hold on,” called Colin Klein, as he and Sam Mally started after the inspector.
Stepping out into the forty-sixth storey, the three men stopped just inside the doorway to allow their eyes to adjust to the poor lighting.
“Do you see anyone?” asked Mally.
“No … I …” said Iain Tennyson, stopping as they say a hint of red light in the shadows at the other side of the building.“Wait here.”
Ignoring his instructions, Klein and Mally followed close behind the inspector as he stepped warily across toward the glint of red.Which turned out to be glowing hot rivets in a heating bucket.
“Well, that explains that,” said Colin Klein, looking down as he kicked something hard.
“That shouldn’t be there,” said Mally.“This floor has barely been started.”
Stooping, Klein picked up the six-inch neck of a headless rivet and said: “Well, our bolt-cruncher has been here all right.”
Looking down, Tennyson and Mally saw half-a-dozen other headless rivets around the small furnace.
Tennyson stooped to pick up a bolt, but Sam Mally called: “Watch out inspector, it’s still hot.”
Taking a hanky from his pocket, the inspector dropped the kerchief onto the bolt.And with a whoosh the hanky ignited and burnt away in seconds.
“You’re right,” agreed Iain Tennyson.“But what could crunch the head off steel bolts this size?”
“Some kind of cutting tool,” proffered Mally.“Wouldn’t be that hard when the rivet’s still hot.”
The three men searched round the forty-sixth storey for a few minutes.They found more headless rivets.But no sign of any kind of bolt cutters.
“And something light enough to be carried away quickly it seems,” said Colin Klein.
“Some kind of light bolt cutters,” suggested Mally.
“What about the crunching noises we heard?” asked Tennyson.
“All right, some kind of light bolt crunchers.”
“Sir?” called a voice from below them.
“One storey up,” called Iain Tennyson.And a moment later a young blonde WPC and two young constables joined them.
“Maxine,” said Tennyson to the blonde.“I want floors forty-two to forty-eight cordoned off while we investigate properly.”
“Sir!” said Maxine going to carry out Tennyson’s order.
“Floors forty-two to forty-eight?” asked Sam Mally.“For how long?”
“A couple of days, perhaps.”
“A couple of days, Inspector?Time is money in the building industry!Any delay could add millions of pounds to the building costs!”
“Two men have died here today!” reminded the inspector.
“Sad, but it happens.One person dies per storey erected with these megalithic towers.Unfortunate, but you get so you accept it.”
“You might,” said Iain Tennyson.“But after thirty-two years in the force, I still won’t accept people dying.So we’ll do it my way.”
“If you say so,” said Mally, shrugging.
“I do say so!”
Hearing the rattle-crash of the lift cage, the three men turned as the lift arrived on the forty-sixth floor.
“Come on,” said Tennyson, and he and Colin Klein walked across to where Maxine waited.
As soon as they stepped into the wire cage, Sam Mally pulled a cell phone from his coveralls, clicked it open, and began dialling.
“Hello,” said a female voice over the phone.
“I need to speak to Mr Ingerman.”
“Mr Ingerman is always very busy,” she said, emphasizing ‘always’. “May I ask what it is about?”
Mally hesitated for a second, then said: “I’m at Mr Ingerman’s building sight in Briarly on Sea.”
“The Twin Towers project?”
“Yes.Anyway, we’ve had a tragedy today.Two men, including one of the architects, were killed on the site.”
“Oh dear, how sad,” said the women, sounding completely bored.“Very well, I’ll pass that on to Mr Ingerman.”
“No, no, that’s not what I rang about.The police have been here, and they’re talking about closing the site for days on end.That could cost Mr Ingerman a lot of money,” said Sam Mally, emphasising the word ‘lot’.
“Very well,” said the woman, suddenly alert.“I’ll put you through to Mr Ingerman immediately.”
As the lift descended, Colin Klein looked back at Sam Mally and said: “I think you could be in a lot of trouble, inspector.”
“How do you mean?”
“Ten-to-one he’s ringing the big boss of this building operation,” explained Colin Klein.
“So, I’m guessing that like most of these new skyscraper projects in the British Isles, the owner is a U.S. billionaire who is used to having the president courtesy to him.And who knows – not thinks – he is well above British law.”
“With good reason the way British politicians bow and scrape to the Yanks.But I’m the law here and I say what is going to happen on this building site,” insisted Tennyson.
“I’m guessing that’s pretty much what General Custer said just before the Indians slaughtered him and his entire regiment.”
“I’ll give you odds of eight-to-five that you won’t get to close this site for two hours … let alone two days,” insisted Colin Klein.
“Bullshit!” said Iain Tennyson as the lift rattle-clanked downward.
“I’ll bet you ten quid that the site is back in production in an hour or less,” insisted the redheaded reporter.
Tennyson span round as though to strike the reporter.Instead he said: “All right, you’re on.”
Stepping out of the lift cage onto firm ground at last, Tennyson began giving orders to the PCs regarding the building site.
Behind him, as Klein and Maxine stepped from the lift, her cell phone chimed.Flipping it open, the WPC spoke for a moment then held the phone out toward the inspector.
“Phone for you, sir,” said Maxine.
Iain Tennyson took the phone from the blonde and began what started as a polite conversation, but quickly degenerated into a shouting match.
“But that’s ridiculous, sir,” said the inspector, his face flushing red as he gripped the phone tight enough to almost smash it.“I know that, sir, but dammit, two men have died here in unusual circumstances.”He went on to briefly relate all that had happened and the puzzle of the headless bolts they had found on the forty-fifth, and –sixth storeys.
“No, sir, there is no indication that the other man was killed by the headless bolts.Yes, I know, sir … but….”
For ten minutes or more Tennyson continued to argue with his superior.Before almost throwing the mobile phone at a startled Maxine.
“Well?” teased Colin Klein.
“Shut up!” said Iain Tennyson.
“Instruct the men to take down the tape,” instructed Iain Tennyson, referring to the yellow ‘crime scene’ tape that ringed the front entrance to the building site.
“What?” asked the WPC.
“We’re only blocking off the forty-fourth, -fifth, and –sixth floors.Other than that building can recommence immediately.”
“Sir!” said Maxine, saluting, and then turning to pass on the inspector’s orders.
“Told you,” said the redheaded reporter.
“Shut up!” said Tennyson.Reaching into a trouser pocket, he took out some coins, which he counted into Colin Klein’s outstretched right hand.
“What’s this?” asked Klein, puzzled.
“Six pounds twenty-five.”
“I thought we bet ten quid?”
“You gave me odds of eight-to-five.”
“Oh, yes,” said Klein following after the inspector.
Doing his best to ignore the smirking of the builders as they returned to work, Iain Tennyson warned: “Just remember floors forty-four through forty-six are off limits until I say otherwise.”
“Whatever you say,” said Sam Mally with a broad shit-eater grin.“You’re the boss.”
Ignoring the snickering of the other builders, Colin Klein and Tennyson headed toward the small wire lift cage.
“How did you avoid thumping him?” asked Klein.
Without looking back, Tennyson said: “Being a cop is a bit like being a plumber.You work with shit everyday.”
“Hey!” called Mally as the two men stepped into the lift cage.
“I think he heard you,” said Klein, smirking as the lift began to rise.
As night fell, Colin Klein, Iain Tennyson and the constables reclined in the Man of Steel Public House having a few pints of brown lager.Outside lights overhead showed that the builders were working on into the night.
“Conscientious, aren’t they,” said Klein, talking through a foam moustache.
“They probably need to be with that bastard Ingerman for a boss,” said Tennyson, trying not to flush in anger at the name.
“What, he wants them to make up for lost time?” asked Maxine.
“Knowing that bastard, he probably won’t let them stop until it’s finished,” said the inspector.“Only fifty or so storeys to go.”
Reluctantly obeying the order to avoid floors forty-four to –six, Thomas Stephens, a thin, weasel-faced man appointed the new works foreman, had a crew of a dozen labourers working up on the fifty-second storey.
“Come on!Come on!” ordered Stephens clapping his hands together like a cymbal-banging monkey, to motivate the workers.
Looking around the dim-lit storey, he saw that the ten men and two women – token employees to stay in sweet with the affirmative action Gestapo as far as Stephens was concerned – were working flat out.
Except for one tall, lanky man standing in the shadows almost out of sight.The tall man seemed to be just holding on to a vertical girder in the building frame, swaying slightly.
“You there!” called Stephens, pointing at the tall man.“You sea-sick or something.”
Without a word, the Man of Steel ripped the girder out of the framework – making the storey above creak precariously – and turned to advance upon Tom Stephens.
“Shit in a hand basket!” said Stephens, not considering the impossibility of what he had just seen.“Are you crazy or something?That was a supporting girder.All the storeys above could come crashing straight down now!”
Not bothering to answer, the Man of Steel pivoted right, and swung the girder at Adele – one of the two female workers.
“Aaaaaaaaaah!” shrieked Adele as the girder hit her with a sickening crunching of bones.
“Are you mad!” demanded Stephens, storming toward the Man of Steel, as he swung the girder a second time, caving in Adele’s chest, killing her and sending her corpse flying out into space.
“Holy shit!” cried Stephens.Not from horror at the death of the woman – whom he had never wanted on the building site anyway -- rather from terror as he finally saw the Man of Steel clearly.
“Who … what are you?” asked Stephens, staring at the Man of Steel, who looked like a cross between a mediaeval knight and a Star Wars robot.His torso was formed like a suit of armour, but with a facemask curved cruelly like the beaked face a pterodactyl.But from the midriff down he was a maze of iron shafts, cogs, and ratchets constantly turning and clanking in parody of the workings of a Grandfather clock.
Grinning, the metal raptor-like faceguard melted and reformed in a blink of the eye; the Man of Steel started forward.Each metallic footstep thumping loud enough upon the loose floor boards to suggest that he might crash through the flooring at any second.
“Get him!He killed Adele!” cried Tom Stephens, solely out of concern for himself.Not out of anger at the death of an unwanted colleague.
Though no more concerned about the death of the woman, than Stephens, the ten men and one woman started toward the Man of Steel.Not yet seeing it clearly enough in the half-light to realise that it was not a human being.
Fifty-two storeys below, Colin Klein, Iain Tennyson, Maxine and the other constables were enjoying their pints of lager, when there came an explosion from the chrome and glass tower across the road.
“Holy!” said Maxine, spilling most of her pint over herself.
“Wet T-Shirt competition!” teased a young constable.
“You wish!” said Maxine.
“Too true,” agreed the PC.
“Quiet!” ordered Iain Tennyson leaping to his feet to listen for other sounds from the building site.After a second, he said: “Come on!”
And, as though the inspector had been speaking to him, Colin Klein led the charge from the pub, across the bitumen road toward the chrome tower. Where they found the remains of Adele merged with the remnants of a concrete mixer, which she had landed on from fifty-two storeys up.
“Jesus!” said Maxine.She and the two young constables all looked hurriedly away.
Looking up to where lights showed dimly many storeys above, Iain Tennyson said: “They’re working on the fifty-second storey.”
“At least by the state of that body,” said Colin Klein, shocked at the way that the woman had crunched straight through the metal barrel of the mixer.
“Let’s go,” said Tennyson, and he and Klein raced across the hard baked mud ground to the wire-cage lift.
On the fifty-second storey, the Man of Steel deftly swung the iron girder like a martial arts actor swinging a rod of Chinese bamboo in a kung fu movie.
“Look out!” called Thomas Stephens.Too late, as with a sickening thunk the girder caved in the head of a worker, so badly that the girder almost passed right through his head, all but decapitating the man.
‘Two down!Ten to go!’ thought the works foreman, as the other workers backed away for a moment, allowing the Man of Steel to look round at the sound of the approaching lift cage.
Making more of a rusty squeaking than a growl, the Man of Steel stepped across to the lift shaft.
“For God’s sake stop him!” cried Stephens, realising what the metallic creature intended, seconds before the monster threw the iron girder down the lift shaft.
“Come on!Come on!Can’t this thing go any faster!” demanded Iain Tennyson, seconds before there was an explosion overhead.
Narrowly missing Colin Klein, the iron girder smashed through the lift cage, taking out most of the roof, and most of the flooring.Leaving the inspector and the redheaded reporter perched precariously upon a single flooring plank.
“Hold on!” cried Klein and both men grabbed onto the wire siding of the cage.Holding on for dear life … as the lift suddenly stopped between floors!
“You bastard!” cried Stephens, thinking that the two men had been killed.“Get him!Get him!Get him!”
Forgetting his usual cowardice, Thomas Stephens led the charge against the Man of Steel.
Grabbing another girder from the vertical wall, making the framework of the storeys above creak even more worryingly, the Man of Steel swung the girder like a bamboo pole and caved in the works foreman’s head with a sickening squoosh!The girder sinking almost to Stephens’s neck.
Then, unrestricted by the pulped bone and brain tissue gripping the girder, the Man of Steel ripped the girder away – allowing Stephens’s headless corpse to collapse to the planking.Then, swinging the girder effortlessly, he shattered the spine of another worker.And in the same movement sent his body flying off the edge of the fifty-second storey.
Fifty-two storeys below Maxine and three less-than-eager constables were trying to set up an exclusion zone, to keep potential gawkers away from where Adele’s corpse was interwoven into the fabric of the smashed cement mixer.
“Look out!” called a young bobby as another corpse fell toward Maxine.
Leaping aside at his words, the WPC fell over backwards onto a mound of orangey sand.Seconds before the new corpse shattered into the rock-hard mud.
“What the Hell!” cried Maxine, climbing to her feet with the help of a male colleague.
“What is going on up there?” cried the male PC, as Maxine’s cell phone suddenly chimed.
“Hello?” Maxine spoke into the phone.
In the lift cage, holding precariously onto the wire siding with one hand, Tennyson told Maxine what had happened.
“Call the fire brigade to get us out, we can’t hold on much longer,” said Tennyson, doing his best to keep the terror out of his voice.
“Yes, sir,” said Maxine.Breaking off the call, she hurriedly dialled triple nine and explained the situation.
“Holy shit in a hand basket!” said the fireman on the other end of the call.
Fifty-two storeys above, the nine remaining workers backed warily away from the Man of Steel, realising that they could not possibly stop him.And realising that with the lift out of order, they had nowhere to go to stay out of the metal man’s clutches.
Amy, the second female labourer jumped, startled by a sudden metallic snap-snap-snap from the Man of Steel.
“What the hell!” she thought aloud, at first not seeing how the metallic creature made the snapping.Then she spotted the beak-like visor of his ‘helmet’ snapping up and down as though in anticipation of a tasty feast of human meat!
‘Oh God!’ Amy thought, recalling the sight of the bolts with their iron heads chewed off.
“That’s how he did it!” cried one of her companions, as though reading Amy’s thoughts.
“Yes!” she said, almost falling over the guardrail at the edge of the fifty-second storey, as the Man of Steel swung the iron girder again.
“Look out!” cried a young man, Terry, who fancied Amy.Stepping forward, he inadvertently stepped into the range of the metal monster.
END OF PART ONE
© Copyright 2013 Philip Roberts
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
© Copyright 2016 Philip Roberts. All rights reserved.
Short Story / Science Fiction
Short Story / Science Fiction
Short Story / Science Fiction
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