Rust: Episode Sixteen
by Alan Augustson
22 May 2017

Hearing the noise, Burke dressed hurriedly and scrambled to his balcony. Shading his eyes from the nearby streetlights, he watched as a brilliant, angry orange glow erupted from some large building beyond the barriers. It was insanely bright, not like any structure fire he’d ever seen, and they were quite common Outside.

He didn’t hear many sirens, just the yelp of one or two units. Inside, there’d have been a chorus from squadrons of engines and police. Not so much here.

Apart from the blaze, not much else lit the skies over Outside but the ever-present screens. Burke’s eye was drawn to one, merrily flaunting some smiling face. Then there was a loud pop, and flame seemed to tear the screen in half. Searing, intense flame, like nothing of this earth. Then, another screen caught fire. And another.

Burke counted a total of five screens, infernally shredded within three minutes. He was fascinated, gaping. Then his gaze returned to the first of the screens to catch. The fire had calmed somewhat, to the point he could make out… a pattern? He wasn’t sure. He waited.

He waited.

The flames became a glow, and against the night sky, Burke clearly spotted the interlocking AD.

Burke went for his phone and dialed.

“Homicide desk; Officer Jenkins.”

“This is Detective Felipe Burke, contractor ID number zero-zero-six, seven-two-one. I need to reach Officer Stover ‘stat’.”

“Hey, Zebra, how’ve you been? Stover’s off shift.”

“Okay, A, Detective Burke, asshole; B, wake him up, and C, what part of ‘stat’ did you have trouble with?”

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Social scientist, public policy analyst, emergency management consultant and author. U.S. Marine Corps veteran and former firefighter. Former candidate for U.S. Congress.

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