The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery) – Chapter 30


Welcome to November.


October was a fascinating month. Did a lot of work and got little done. Had two computers die (dishonorably, I might add), a major software kerfuffle, following up on a book release, editing my next release to get it to the editors, attending meetings, …

An author’s work is never done.

And now-a-days, with the advent of self-publishing and indie authors, books aren’t done even when published. It’s too easy to find errors that snuck past every freakin editor, first reader, and critiquer (dedicated they are, those tyops! at least persistent!).

Long story short, I got minimal work done on The Alibi, which means I’m taking some time to print out all I’ve written so far and give it a thorough edit.

Scary, yes?

And Hallowe’en was yesterday (as I type this).

But sharing what I’ve already written before inundating you with yet another set of edits…


The Alibi – Chapter 30

Briggs Lane stood at the window of his Lane, Cuomo, and Greenberg top-floor corner office and held a pair of MIL710 Optical Enhancers to his eyes. He adjusted the focus so Innovation Square showed with such clarity building images could cut glass. “That stupid bastard. I should’ve insisted he clear his plan with me. Doesn’t he know enough not to shit where he eats?”

He placed the MIL710s back in their padded box, placed that in a desk drawer, closed the drawer, and pressed his thumb against a lock. The drawer hissed as the desk sucked it a microscopic inch or two further in and sealed it in place.

Lane stepped over to The Great Wave off Kanagawa. He lifted his fingers to his lips, kissed then touched his fingers to the carving’s frame.

The wall opened and revealed what Lane’s deep intimates referenced as variously “the weapons locker,” “the Predators’ trophy array,” and “Elon Musk’s wish list.”

That last one always gave Lane a chuckle.

Musk was an ass.

Never invited Briggs to any parties, never accepted Lane’s invitations to dinner when he was in Boston.

What a fucking ass.

Lane lifted a smallish disco dance club’s glitterball from its birth in the hidden compartment to reveal a small, gold nameplate with HIVE engraved on it.

Lane turned the glitterball over and placed his hand inside. A moment later the HIVE – a prototype Human Immersion Visual-audio Enhancer – hummed and Lane fitted it over his head.

The HIVE’s separate facets, much like an insect’s compound eyes, captured video and audio feeds from whatever was available – a newscast, a store camera, municipal video, people livestreaming, devices uploading to the cloud – and built a real-time 3D immersive environment for the wearer. Tilt your head forward and you walked forward, lean forward and you ran, turn your head and you saw from side to side, tilt your head back and you looked up, down was down and so on.

Lane ran the HIVE through traffic to SkyHook headquarters. Emergency vehicles were already on site. Police were detouring inbound traffic and searching outbound. Pedestrians were herded into Fan Pier Garage for questioning.

Something hummed overhead. Lane looked up.

Whose drone is that?

Lane stood on his toes.

The HIVE adjusted to tap into the drone’s feed.

Two channels active?

And one is blocked?

Lane smelled ozone and heard a soft crackling. The back of his head grew warm, then hot.

He pulled the HIVE from his head.

The back of the HIVE buzzed then popped, its electronics cooked. The ozone smell wafted up and he drove down the urge to sneeze, instead opening his eyes wide at the smoking HIVE. “Somebody blocked me?”

The HIVE fell from his hands. It rolled on the carpet and hid behind the reef tank like a dog knowing it’s about to be punished.

Lane watched it stop. “Somebody blocked me?”

He went back to his windows, reached up, placed his palms on the glass and yelled. “Nobody blocks Briggs Lane!”

His office, more like a penthouse suite than a business office, was soundproof for moments such as these.

No one heard him. No one entered.

He went back to his desk and tapped his intercom. “Ginni, please have that mute janitor report to me. And when he’s done, come in with your notepad. I have something I’d like you to review. Thank you.”

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