02-27-2012, 07:32 PM
Carey stood dazed and confused on the rubble-strewn pavement before the demolished Magic Castle. The smoke and dust from the blast was like a heavy blanket thrown over her, imparing her sense of direction and suffocating her at the same time. My car, she thought wildly. I gotta find my car!
She stumbled blindly through the smoke billowing out of the building she had just left a few minutes ago, coughing and choking as she groped for some tangible object to tell her where she was. Her hands grasped fabric of some sort. It was a person, a man, who grasped her in return. "You all right, ma'am?" the man spoke through the haze.
Carey could only cough in reply. Of course I'm not "all right," dipwad! I was damn near killed coming out of the Magic Castle! do I look "all right" to you? "Please, get me to my car," she pleaded. I'm at the Luxor."
Her new companion, who it turned out was a police officer, guided her into a nearby dance club, conscripted into service by the LVFD for sheltering the victims. It was not due to open until eight o'clock that evening, but the management made an exception, bringing out ice and bottled water for he victims and the firefighters.
"Jeesuz Christ!" the owner sighed in disbelief. "It's like Nine-Eleven all over again!"
"Oh, God!" a woman wailed. "First the Luxor, now this! What the hell is going on?"
"It's gotta be the same guy!" someone behind her said. "It's gotta be! This is the second time he struck!"
"Well, you know what they say," a young man sitting next to her spoke up. "Once is an accident, twice is a coincidence, three times is a conspiracy."
Carey turned to them. "Dude, I was at the Luxor when it was blown up, and believe me, that was no accident! And this is no coincidence! We've got a mad bomber on the loose here in Vegas, and if they don't catch him, God knows where he'll strike next!" She took a sip of bottled water to clear the dust in her throat. "He's either terrorizing everybody, or making some sort of statement."
"Could be a Mob hit," the young man suggested.
"Could be anything," Carey shrugged. "but let's allow the police to handle it, okay. I've seen enough CourtTV to know that no matter how meticulous a criminal may be in executing a crime, there is always that one little piece of evidence he overlooked, one tiny factor he did not figure into his plan, then bang! He gets nailed. It may take days, weeks, months, even years, but forensic science can solve crimes that have gone cold for longer than that."
"We don't have days, weeks, or months," the woman said. "We gotta find this guy now!
Every police officer from the Chief to the greenest rookie cop on the beat shared the same sentiment. They had to find this guy and they had to find him now, before any more innocent people were killed.
No deaths were recorded at the Magic Club, but twelve were seriously injured, many more with minor injuries. EMS ambulances as far as North Las Vegas arrived to aid the victims and transport them to the hospital. The street was barricaded around the ruins of the Club, yellow CRIME SCENE tape warning away trespassers and souvinier hunters from interfering with the investigation.
Channel Three Las Vegas was on the scene, reporting the bombing live on the spot. All regularly scheduled programming was interrupted to broadcast the tragedy unfolding on the Strip. They showed scenes of bleeding victims in agony, interviewed terrified passersby who babbled incoherantly in front of the news cameras about what they saw, and kept up a running commentary of events as they unfolded, though not much was unfolding at that moment.
Ordinary citizens recorded it all with camcorders and camera phones, either to blog it or to send home to friends and relatives; they called them on their cellphones, shouting over the sirens and choking on the smoke and dust still hanging in the air around them. Police tried to clear the area, getting everyone behind the barricades and telling them to go home but were largely unsuccessful, human curiosity being what it is. There were always a few rubberneckers who didn't want to miss a thing. The LVMPD had to call in the Nevada State Police for reinforcement in crowd control.
Carey, meanwhile, had slipped out of the dance club shelter and tried to make her way back to the parking garage where her car was. She stepped gingerly along the Strip, avoiding the barricades of police cruisers like an escaped convict. She wove her way through the onlookers still congregated around the Magic Club. Her destination was close at hand. All she had to do was cross the street to the garage.
She was startled by a loud yet strangely familiar voice coming from behind her. She whirled around and saw that same religious zealot from the Luxor who had smashed that old woman's rosary. He stood there, Bible in hand, giving the same speech about God's wrath and Sodom and Gomorrah and repentance and all that other stuff fundamentalists were so fond of.
Geez! Carey thought. Doesn't this guy have a regular job or something? Self-righteous (bleep)! I wish he'd take that holy Joe routine and shove it up his ass! Probably goes around blowing up abortion clinics or something!
Carey stopped short at that thought. Could it be..? The possibility was not that far-fetched, she believed. Fundamentalists had always resorted to scare tactics to get their point across, even going so far as to resort to terrorism, blowing up abortion clinics, killing the doctors whom they believed performed them, or even hijacking airplanes and flying them into buildings like Japanese Kamikaze pilots.
Could this man be the Bomber? she wondered. He was there at the Luxor when it was attacked, and he walked out of it unscathed. Now he was there after the attack on the Magic Castle, still unharmed, still preaching his Gospel as he did before. Either he blew up those buildings to preach his poisonous brand of Christianity, or he just took advantage of the situation.
Carey shook her head. No, she thought firmly, it would not do to make any snap judgements. A person was innocent until proven guilty. There was no evidence that supported that street preacher's guilt. Until hard evidence was uncovered, and it would, she knew with confidence, it was best not to point any fingers at anyone. That was for the professionals to do.