the ladder - synapse city (part 5)

The Ladder – An experimental web-only fiction series that spans multiple story lines and characters…Tune in every Wednesday for a new installment!

A squawk on the radio, cryptic nonsense words lost in static.

“I think that means we’ve been spotted,” the Equation says.

“I’ve got it covered,” the Engine says, stopping the Slicer nose-to-nose with a beat-up dumpster that looks like it hasn’t been emptied for months. One look at the Effect and she nods her understanding. She unbuckles her seatbelt, grabs a small black knap-sack, and exits the car into the lightless gloom of the alleys. The Equation’s face bends into a tight smile, but he keeps fiddling with the console.

“Delphi analyzed radio and sensor data. There are 37 cops deployed on foot, roadblocks on every street around Lumen’s lab, and 1 helicopter.”

“My kind of odds.”

The Engine, with a flashy white grin, pushes a small black button on the dashboard. The Slicer’s black exteriors gradually turns to rust and peeled silver paint; a classic jaunt turned wrecked jalopy. While the Slicer undergoes its urban camouflage, the scientist studies data readouts on the screen, schematics, plans. He thinks of the strategy behind the show of force. Police Commissioner Evelyn Grant Warren must have deliberately started the chess game. The prize: answer to the disappearance of Synapse City’s foremost metafictional physicist. And power. Always power. Because Dr. Artemus Lumen, whom the Equation studied with at the Synapse City University, studies phenomena that can alter the very fabric of reality. The Equation is, perhaps, the only to truly understand Dr. Lumen’s work. But to people like Commissioner Warren and her pet mobsters, like Boss Marcone, what counts are the results. So: a massive show of force to draw out the Equilibrium Trio. Possible scenario 1: create enough holes in the net to let the Trio into Dr. Lumen’s lab, find what everyone is looking for, then close the holes and set the trap. Possible scenario 2: blockade the lab and hold it hostage to force the Trio into some kind of action.

Or maybe the Equation doesn’t have enough to properly theorize. The only solution is to wait for the Effect to do what she does best: discover information that people don’t want discovered. Thus: scientist and commando wait in the camouflaged car, eyes open for movement against them, eager to move into action.

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