Chapter 20: Battlefield

The door flew open under my heel. I followed my foot in, entering the room at a dead sprint. Three men stood inside, gathered around a desk, looking down at a magazine. Two stood, one sat. As one, they turned towards me. I was prepared for shouts, for them to raise the alarm. Instead, they began to move, approaching me in an unhurried way. The one on the left looked like a dockworker, and he grabbed a pipe from one of the walls, yanking hard, ripping it out of its bearings. The one on the right was in a button-down shirt, drawing a slender .22 caliber pistol from his belt. The one standing up was a young man, barely out of his teens, a scraggly mustache on his face, lifting his hands into an amateurish boxing position.

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Chapter 19: Only Way In

I studied the map for the third time, my eyes running across it, trying as best as I could to focus. New York City’s reservoir system was one of the largest in the world, and covered an area several times that of the city itself. Consisting of several reservoirs and aqueduct systems to the north and west of the city, some of the most massive infrastructure projects in the world had been driven by the need to keep New Yorkers from dying of dehydration. There were comparatively few places that it could be accessed. The Jacqueline Onassus reservoir in Central Park was no longer giving anyone water. The same was true of the Jerome Park Reservoir. The closest was Hillview Reservoir in the far Bronx, but there were over a dozen other access points that might be involved, and no way to tell which had been chosen.

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Chapter 18: Windy

I returned to the abandoned church of the Survivor. Fleeing the police had been made easier by the fact that half of them were personal friends or admirers of Dane. That knowledge made me feel uneasy. Loyalty was a wonderful thing to a good leader, and Dane was a good leader. But it could just as easily work for a bad one. The moral quandaries of the thin blue line would have to wait for a little bit longer, however. Perhaps until we were not on the verge of a catastrophe. I walked down into the church’s bowels where, not so long ago, I had seen Dane almost murder someone under Jack Knife’s influence. Now the roles were reversed.

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Chapter 17: The Curse

“I talked with my sister, up in Albany. She said she’d love to see us. She invited us up for the long weekend, we can be up there by tomorrow morning.” Paula smiled up at Ryan as he pushed her wheelchair down the ramp. It was late Thursday. The sun was just setting. Paula had a clean bill of health. They were going to get out of this goddamn city. “I can’t believe we’re getting out of the city. This is going to be so much fun! I can show you the swimming hole I used to visit when I was a kid.”

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Chapter 15: Retrogram

I awoke in the hospital. Twinges ran through every muscle, pain constantly buzzing at the edge of my awareness. I lay spread-eagled on the bed, and tested every joint. It didn’t feel good. Each one was like an overly tight spring, threatening to unwind violently at any moment. This would spell disaster for my poor overstressed body. It was like caffeine withdrawal on a scale most humans would never endure, combined with a hearty round of opiate withdrawal and some severe depression to add texture to the whole mess. I looked up, and saw Officer Blanski sitting in the bed next to me. He was in a hospital gown as well, and when he saw that I was awake, his arms wrapped around me. “Wait, wait-”

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