02-28-2012, 09:05 PM
Amber Woods, also known as "angelkiss23", scrolled down the list of posts on her computer screen. A long time member of the Loyal Community, she knew many of the members as personally as the anonyminity of their domain names would allow. She had chatted with them, read their fan fictions until the Moderators closed it for "violation of content rules", and shared what personal details they chose to post.
The bombings of the Magic Club and the Luxor, especially Costa Sarantakos's subsequent injuries from the latter, was the major topic for the past three days. Costa had an entire thread dedicated to him, filled with prayers and get well wishes from his brother's fans. When he was released from the hospital, many Loyals who witnessed his return to the Luxor shared what few photographs they took of him online, cheerfully relating the good news to one and all of Costa's recovery.
One Loyal tried to start a thread for the purpose of relaying any information about the Vegas Bomber to the authorities, but it grew so filled with rants and rages that the "Mods" had to lock it.
Amber grew weary of the repetitive posts of cheers and tears and logged off. There was nothing new, nothing to identify the Bomber. She had figured, or at least hoped, that someone had seen something important enough to find this psycho. This afternoon was the Criss Angel demonstration in the desert valley. She had looked forward to it for days before all the terror; now she was worried. There were no leads, no clues, nothing. He was still out there. Should she still go? Or would she be safer at home?
Criss had not cancelled the demonstration despite the Bomber. He openly defied the maniac who almost killed his brother, Costa. Well, if Criss wasn't afraid, she thought, she wouldn't be, either. She was going to that demonstration, Bomber be damned!
But she was going to be prepared. She had packed her camera with plenty of film. If the Bomber was there, she was going to shoot him, and she wasn't going to miss.
Carey drove down the seemingly endless desert highway to the Criss Angel demonstration. She was thankful she was driving a rented Lexus instead of her old Grand Prix. The latter would not have lasted ten miles in this Godforsaken wasteland in the middle of the Nevada nowhere. They had told her it was due west on that particular highway--how far due west they never said. It seemed she had been driving forever, the barren landscape before her gave the illusion of riding on a treadmill, going forward yet going nowhere.
She finally spotted signs of life to the left of her. That had to be it, she thought. There were eighteen-wheelers and RVs parked to the side of the road, with MindFreak murals displayed on their sides. She pulled over to the nearest available space, farther down the road, and parked, cracking the windows and positioning a sunshield provided by the rental company in the windshield to keep the car from turning into an oven from the desert sun.
Sunhat in place, handbag with bottled water and field glasses strapped to her side, she trudged up the shimmering pavement to the crowd gathered at the edge of a deep desert valley. She succeeded in scoring a spot by the safety rail along the edge of the cliff, scanning the valley below with her field glasses.
A bleach-blond woman in a MindFreak t-shirt turned to her. "That sunhat is a good idea," she commented.
Carey turned to her. "Thank you," she said in return. "I'm from Michigan, and I burn easily."
The bleach blond nodded and didn't say anything more. Carey turned her attention back to the valley. She could see the crew doing the final checks around a large, Evel Knevel type ramp set up in the middle of the valley. No sign of Criss, but she guessed what RV he would be in--the large, late model one in the back, twice the size of her old mobile home in Southfield.
"Hey! I remember you!" she heard a girl's voice call out from behind.
Carey turned to see--what was her name again? Ashley? No, Amber--to see Amber, the girl who held vigil for Costa after the attack in the Luxor. "Well, hello, there!" Carey greeted her. "Nice to see you again."
"Yeah," Amber replied. "I saw that big hat of yours, and I was, like, I saw her before, at the Luxor. But, oh, God! I forgot your name! Was it Karen or something?"
"Carey," she reminded her. "Carey Connor."
Amber brightened. "Carey! That was it! Uh, say, can I borrow those binoculars for a minute?"
Carey handed over the field glasses to Amber. They were small, a freebie from a golfing tournament from a law firm where she had worked before becoming a successful author, but they were quite powerful. Amber peered through them, scanning the valley below carefully. Suddenly, she became all excited, pointing down toward the row of RVs. "There he is! There's Criss! And, ohmygod! There's Costa! He's here! Oh, thank God he's okay!"
Amber handed the glasses back to Carey, pointing at the spot where she saw Criss and his brother. Carey found the two men standing by the RV (the very one she had guessed was his). They seemed to be talking to each other, but, of course, from that distance, Carey could not hear what they were saying. It didn't matter, she told herself, eavesdropping was rude.
Costa went back into the air-conditioned shelter of the RV while Criss began to suit up for the demonstration with the help of two crew members. The plan was for Criss to do an introductory lap around the valley for the crowd to see and cheer him on, no helmet needed, then to strap on the safety gear and do the demonstration. Spotters took their positions along the route, headphones and mikes activated to report anything wrong; they had been briefed about the Bomber, and ordered to keep a sharp eye out for pipe bombs or any other incendiary devices.
Criss kickstarted his racing motorcycle and charged into the demonstration area, to the cheers of the crowd above.
"Ladies and gentlemen! CRISS ANGEL!!"the staticky voice from a bullhorn announced.
Criss waved to his adoring public as he completed the first stretch of his opening lap. Carey followed him closely with her field glasses. She lost sight of him at the turn, so she focused on the path in front to catch up with him.
In a space of a second, she saw something land on the track, something long and metallic, cylindrical in shape. Criss raced on, unaware of what lay ahead. Suddenly, there was a blinding flash accompanied by a deafening explosion. Motorcycle and rider were thrown in the air like toys, crashing down to earth with a sickening thud. Criss rolled like a log on the valley floor and came to a stop, lying sprawled like a rag doll in black racing gear.
Time seemed to stand still in that desert valley; it was only a heartbeat later that the screams erupted from the horrified audience. The scene turned to chaos as hysterical fans tried to force their way down into the valley, only to be turned away by the security detail, ordering them to leave the premises immediatly, that they were obstructing a rescue, and not to panic. "So rescue him already!" one panic stricken Loyal screamed hysterically.
A rescue helicopter hovered overhead. Police and security waved away the few fans who still remained in the valley for it to land. Paramedics, already at the site for the demonstration, tended to Criss as best they could. Weeping and wailing accompanied the steady beat of the rotors of the EMS helicopter as America's most famous illusionist was airlifted to the hospital.
Carey turned away. Once is an accident, twice is a coincidence, three times is a conspiracy, she recalled. She was there when the Luxor was carbombed. She was there when the Magic Club was bombed. Now she had just witnessed a third. Am I bad luck or something? she wondered.
There was nothing for her to do except go back to the hotel. The media were going to have a field day over this one, she thought. She made her way back to her car, weeping and wailing echoing in her wake. She scanned the side of the highway for her car. her ears picked up footsteps crunching the gravel behind her, and a joyful shout of victory, it seemed to her. She turned instinctivly behind her; she could not see anyone, but the runner's voice could still be heard: "I did it! I did it! No more Criss (bleeping) Angel! Yeaaahhh!"
Carey looked around wildly for the owner of that voice, but only spotted a large Lincoln towncar with a hood the size of an aircraft carrier speeding off in a spray of sand and gravel. Carey picked up her field glasses and stared at the car in the distance. All she could catch was a large diagonal dent in the rear fender and the letters BAC on what looked like a Nevada State license plate. All else was blurred in the dust. She could not make out the driver or the model of the car though she had lived in Detroit long enough to tell one from another.
Carey dashed for her car. She had to inform the police. She had only a vague description and a partial license plate number, but she knew she was the only person closest to identifying the Vegas Bomber. It wasn't much to go on, granted, but it was better than nothing.
Las Vegas seemed to drop everything when the news bulletin of the desert valley bombing hit the airwaves. Slot machines were idled for the first time since they first started operating, roulette wheels were stilled as people gathered around giant plasma screens in casinos, bars, clubs, hotel lobbies, and electronics stores. Word spread fast that the Vegas Bomber had struck again, this time claiming only one victim. But that victim was famous illusionist Criss Angel, and he was listed in critical condition.
The entire city reeled in shock. The biggest star in Las Vegas, and he had been blown up by the Bomber! My God! they thought, who was next? When was this nightmare going to end?