ANDREW DAVIS PEEKED out through the window. The area immediately in front of Harold Wilkes’s house seemed clear. He eased open the door and stepped out, closing it quickly behind him. After a few quick paces to get himself away from the door, he paused, looked around and smiled. There was no one in sight.
He’d arrived at Harold’s house in the evening. Now, in the daylight, he wasn’t sure in which direction lay the center of town—and the temple—and in which direction lay the road heading out to the cliffs where he was supposed to meet the others.
He depressed the talk button on his radio. “John, I’m a little turned around. And the streets around here are like a maze. Even if I just head west, I don’t know that I’ll come out where I want to.”
“We’re just on the outskirts of Warrensville, Andy. Try to find a friendly-looking local to direct you to us.”
Davis turned the corner. Ahead of him, a street curved to the right. He followed it down until he could see an intersection. Once there, he looked in both directions but saw no one.
He was ready to pick a direction at random when a sound reached his ears. It was the sound of a crowd, coming from the street to his left. That’ll probably be people congregating at the temple, he though. Davis knitted his brow. If he went left, he guessed he’d arrive at the center of town. The main thoroughfare through Warrensville ran right past the temple. That would be his most direct route. But he didn’t know if he wanted to expose himself to so many people. If he went right, he could get lost in the warren of streets and would be quite alone if he encountered anyone who held animosity toward the visitors.
He decided to go left. As he neared, the sound of the crowd grew louder. There was one strident voice rising above the rest. That voice would speak for a moment, and the crowd would answer in what sounded like rage. Davis’s steps faltered. He stood in the street, unsure of what to do next. His decision was made for him. From the direction of the crowd half a dozen men rounded the corner. They spotted Davis, studied his strange clothes for a moment and let out a cry. Before Davis could understand what they were saying, they were running at him. He turned on his heels and ran in the opposite direction. He paused at the street that led to Harold’s house and looked back. A mob had joined the men and were in pursuit.
Davis sprinted down the street, back to Harold’s house and threw open the door. He looked for a bolt or lock, but there was none. He risked a quick glance outside to see if anyone was near the door, but all he saw was a small child sitting on the steps opposite. Davis moved to the back of the room, out of sight, but where he could still see out the window.
As the mob came into view, they slowed to a walk. One man leaned over with his hands on his knees and addressed the child. Without looking from the man’s eyes, the child raised her arm, extended her finger and pointed right at Davis, through the window.
Davis cursed and moved into the bedroom. He began pulling on the bed and had it against the door just as the front door was slammed open. The next instant, the bedroom door handle was turning.
Davis took up his radio. “John, I’m at Harold’s house, and there’s a mob after me.”
“Andy? Stay calm; we’re nearly at the temple. We’ll find Harold.”
“I don’t have time for that, John!”
Davis reached into his shoulder bag and withdrew a handgun. He chambered a round and waited as the door began to shudder and the bed started sliding away from it.
“I’m armed with a deadly weapon!” he called out. “Move away from the door, and we can settle this without violence. Please, we can talk about this!”
A head poked through the gap in the door. The next thing that appeared through the gap looked like the tip of an arrow. Davis raised his weapon and fired. A spray of blood exploded against the wall next to the door and the head slumped down.
A new frenzy of yells erupted from the people on the other side of the door. Another firm shove pushed the bed farther away from the door. Davis fired at a hand that reached around and grabbed the side of the door but missed. To his left, the bedroom window shattered. He had time enough to fire off three shots before he was overpowered by the men leaping through the window. Something struck his head, and he went down, black spots clouding his eyes.
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Praise for Chrysopteron
"Chrysopteron is a 'golden-winged' gem of a novel and one that cements worlds imagined into the conscious dream of worlds yet seen. When I'd finished, I wanted more and not because the novel was lacking; I wanted more because I want to live in Rose's world longer." (Link)
"Chrysopteron is an epic book with a wide scope. In a way, it reminded me of The Mote in God's Eye by Niven and Pournelle. (But I liked Chrysopteron more.) Even though the cast of characters is huge, spanning several generations, I was never confused about who was who. The scenes are vivid, and Michael K. Rose has a keen sense of pacing. He knows just when to do a quick cut to the next scene to keep the story moving quickly. This is very, very well-written." (Link)
"This tale is woven expertly, filled with intrigue, suspense, and grips onto you to the very end. If you have not read any of this author's work, you are missing out! This is a definite must read." (Link)