“You could do a lot worse,” she sighed – her hair a floppy crimson, “You could disappoint your parents as a land surveyor or a guy who wears baseball uniforms all the time, though he’s never played.”
“But I have disappointed them,” I cried, standing in the burning ruins of the small Midwestern town, “The virus will be in Denver by nightfall.”


But it wasn’t fog – it was smoke, and I knew it.  Brad was dead and Tegan too perhaps. “Do I look like an Eskimo?” Funny what people’s last words sound like in the ears of the living.


The jungle pass was slick with blood. “They’ve been here two days already,” remarked Kurt, “There won’t be much left.” But in the distance, just beyond the 7-11, they saw the twelve priests carrying the giant iron head into a defile.  “Hold on,” gasped Kari, as she tore at the hem of her paisley skirt, “I think I remember the code.”


“You can’t unlight a fuse,” laughed Crenshaw, his face buried in a musty Architectural Digest.  But he had overlooked something even more obvious.  The acid that had eaten through my fingers also dissolved the chains around my wrists. I was free – and ready to teach Crenshaw my own lesson in Brutalism.


The car tore around 43rd Street and in a flash Lars was strangled by the twin beams of the Phaeton’s headlamps.  He emptied Josie’s small pistol at the windshield – hollow pops nearly drowned out by the throaty blare of the engine echoing off the brownstone stoops.  Had he been right all along?  Was Josie really the seventh phantom? 


Glass shattered below. They were inside – rushed, clumsy footsteps on the parquet floor of the conservatory.  There was no time to think.  Two shotguns were stashed on the roof but without a ladder they may as well be in outer space.  That’s it - the full lunar eclipse!  But would it be enough to fool Darius and his henchmen?


They covered his mouth with clear packing tape so his lips looked puckered as if kissing a childhood sweetheart on the other side of a window pane. Then they stuck the butane wand lighter up his nose as far as it could go. Had her name been Rosalie? 


They collapsed on a bed of carob cookies and brass shell casings.  “Is it worth it?” shuddered Micah, “We come so far for this?” Harold shook dirt from his durango boots, “Course, Mic – helicopters give the finger to the ground – it’s the same with us and those Peruvian slumlords.” “Yeah,” spat Micah, “But helicopters all gotta land sometimes.”