“Why don’t you take a ride with me?” Murphy asked.

“In that?”

“It’s a Porsche GT 2?”

“No class.”

Gregson got into his convertible Aston Martin Vantage.

“How can you afford that?”

“Check out the license plate.”

“For Rent?”

“Style is something one must practice, religiously. I’ll wait for you downtown.”

“To hell you will; it is you who will be waiting for me.” Both supercars tore into the street like toilet paper, leaving long streaks.

The city was like a bee hive, some delinquent teen set fire to. Mothers were screaming and protecting their babies, while taxi drivers honked, and men in business suits froze. It was a scene that cannot be painted; the emotions of death ravaged buildings like a firestorm of locusts, consuming metal skyscrapers, as smoke and glass billowed through the air like noxious clouds cutting the lungs of city commuters.

Gregson put the top up and drove through the raining debris. He popped onto the sidewalk and nailed a trash can, pulling the brim of his Stetson hat low. Being an investigator is similar to being a terrorist; when the bombs go off, both get excited. Good and evil are only words; motives in some men transcend traditional morality. Gregson was one of those, a man gunning for thrills, to push limits where the limits would push back. The squad was already there; men in bomber suits, with robots, sampling charred evidence from the impact zone.

Detective Spieth was giving orders; Gregson knew him; not a creative type with imagination, but organized, and he could get the job done. Gregson wasn’t two feet outside his car, when Spieth recognized him.

“Gregson, I should’ve known you’d show up. How’s retirement?”

“I wouldn’t know.”

“Why don’t you wear a gas mask?”

“Sure. Are you worried about a secondary blast?”

“No. This was meant to send a message. It was big, a statement, and not intended to kill.”

“Well, the bomber was incompetent then. What is this place?”

“It’s the corner of Westfield Shopping mall. Look, here’s the map. Do you see? I think we’re standing in Victoria’s Secret.”

“Religious Fanatics?”

“Probably.

“How many dead?

“Not sure; many got vaporized; 400 meters out, the blast went right over people’s heads.”

“I want a detailed map of the mall and the surrounding buildings,” Gregson said.

“That shouldn’t be difficult.”

“Hey, there’s Murphy; perhaps he has a few ideas.”

“I heard you left the force,” Spieth said.

“I joined the dark side.”

“The Federal BI?”

“Only as a consultant.”

“Here’s the map.”

“There’s a Jamba Juice, a Victoria’s Secret, and an Abercrombie and Fitch. What’s outside the mall?”

“A Discount Tire. Hey, this is strange. It’s a shop with no name. Where would that be?

“Right about there.” Gregson pointed at the shop. The building was still standing; the walls were chard and the glass was broken, but the structure mysteriously remained.

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