Split Second Chapters 72 & 73

Chapter 72

Back inside with King, he’s busy staring at his watch and counting down the seconds until the reenactment commences. This is the kind of thing people would read about when paint drying has gotten too exciting. ‘A man watching his watch and waiting? That’s the kind of breakneck pace I can keep up with!’

Bruno then just appears through the same doorway King came through like David Blaine is working on the world’s shittiest magic trick. Bruno recoils at the sight of King and King assures him he’s not there to hurt him. He asks King who he is and King just says that he’s his Secret Service agent.

Bruno then asks the obvious question, that can’t they just leave now? King says he doesn’t think that’s a good idea. Which is so stupid the inventor of the Snuggie is looking down on Baldacci. It’s not like King has tried the doors and found them barred or that Sidney told him they were booby trapped. No, he just doesn’t think it’s a good idea. I bet King’s ancestors kept telling everyone else that playing with fire was probably nothing but trouble and they were still miffed about being dragged out of the ocean.

King tells Bruno to stay behind him and draws his gun. Once again, he muses that if the bullets aren’t real then he’s screwed. Not like it’d be easy to check them and see. I mean, revolvers are infamously impossible to open and look at the bullets. That time is better spent telling yourself that you’re ready and to bring it on.

Page break time and we’re with Michelle. She’s inside and looking at Simmons who’s guarding the door with a rifle and pistol. He looks at his watch and smiles which Michelle can’t abide as happy people bring out the worst in her. She jumps out, shouting freeze while shooting at him.

Why the fuck did you bother, Michelle? This is more proof that Michelle is a horrible person. I could understand if she just shot him, knowing he was too dangerous to screw around with. I could understand if she tried to take him into custody and she had to kill him when he wouldn’t comply. But shooting him while telling him to freeze? That’s killing a man and trying to justify it as you do it.

Michelle hits him twice but he’s not a going down so easily, being the second in command. They scuffle for a bit but then Michelle shoots him in the forehead. Then she looks at his dead body and gets an idea. Yes, but is now really the best time to develop a Broadway version of Weekend at Bernie’s?

Chapter 73

Back with King, he realizes he has a problem. Yes, those Blockbuster gift cards are expired and he wanted to see Bride of King Kong one more time. He figures the elevator will open, just as before, and if he ignores it they might get attacked or, if he doesn’t, they might get attacked from a different angle.

King tells Bruno that, when he tells him to get down, he should get down. There’s something akin to tension for a few moments and then the clock hits the right time. The lights go out and there there’s a bunch of flashing. King remembers he has sunglasses and puts them on so he’s not blinded. Then he hears the ding of the elevator and curses Sidney. Because he wasn’t mad at Sidney for killing people or kidnapping, it was the elevator that really pissed him off.

He sees Joan hung up and crucified by wire. Although it’s just a projection in the elevator and the real Joan is hanging behind him. King guesses her image was projected by “some mechanical means” because King is apparently a time traveler from the nineteenth century. He yells at Bruno to get down and Kate appears.

Kate tells Bruno to stand up and he starts to because he’s stupid. King knocks him to the floor and tells Kate she doesn’t want to do this. Sidney chimes in over a loudspeaker and tells her to do it and kill the men who ruined her father’s career and killed him. King then starts babbling about how it was actually Sidney who setup Ramsey.

Kate calls him a liar and King explains that she hear Sidney talking to Ramsey and he said Trojan horse. He says that’s because Sidney was the insider and the “Trojan horse” that let Clyde get killed.

King continued, talking fast. “Morse was the Trojan horse, the inside man on the Ritter campaign. That’s how he explained it to your father. Morse knew Arnold hated what Ritter was doing to the country. But Morse didn’t care about Ritter’s politics. So why did he join the campaign? Because Morse loved your mother. She was his Broadway–star–to–be. With your father out of the way, she’d be his. And when that failed, he killed your mother. And now he’s using you just like he used your father.”

King’s use of convincing speech was super effective. Sidney yells at her to shoot or he’ll do it himself. Kate lowers the gun anyway and then the door bursts open as Michelle comes in. Michelle runs at Bruno while telling him to run. She leaps in front of him as a gun goes off and King sees Michelle take a slug in the chest while Bruno escapes unharmed. I’d bet she was wearing body armor. King then fires back and comes to a sudden realization.

King pointed his pistol in the direction of the shot and fired. That’s when he discovered Morse had never intended on giving him a chance. His gun was loaded with blanks.

Ok, Baldacci. I have a firearms lesson for you. Google 9mm blanks and take a look at them. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Now google 9mm and compare a regular bullet to a blank. Sure, if you’d never seen one before you might not know what a blank looks like. But if you were, say, a trained shooter like a USSS agent, you would probably be able to tell the difference by looking at them. Something King should have done in the ten minutes prior to show time.

King screams Michelle’s name, because he’s sad you know, while the lights shut off. The good news is the next post will wrap this damn book up. The bad news is, King and Michelle both live.

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