22: The tower

The London night skyline was reflected in the sleek chrome and glass walls of the monolith, it’s mirrored opulence a shimmering display of all the glorious wealth, corruption and greed the city had come to represent. It was another palace for smugly decadent capetbaggers the capital’s inhabitants could gaze up at in envy. Those that paid tax doffing their caps, to serve for scraps those that didn’t.

Toby was tuxedo clad, lounging on a Corbusier throne in the marble floored lobby, when Jack entered the gleaming tower. Blake was seated next to him in flowing black gown, head glumly fixed to her phone. He smiled and rose when he saw the baitman, offering his hand. Blake did not look up.

“We all get where we want to be somehow,” said Toby. “By hook or by crook, those that survive may even get what they deserve.” He led Jack by the arm towards the lifts, both glancing back at Blake, who ignored them.

Jack wondered if her lack of even basic acknowledgement was borne from malice or guilt. Did she blame him for her fiancee’s death, or herself for the deception? No, just as likely it was mere indifference to his being, Jack even more insignificant to her world now she was freed from Leo’s orbit.

The heir’s body had been reduced to a pile of bones picked clean by jungle scavengers when the party had returned to the glade, carrion for the smallest of life the biggest so often ignore. Instead of a gorilla, what was left of the human ape had been transported back to Foxglove, not for display in the Great Hall, but burial in the grounds.

They walked to the lift. “Maybe, as you helped us get where we wanted, you’ll finally get what you desire Mister… uh… it doesn’t really matter does it?”

Jack stifled, and Toby laughed. “Oh, I’ve always known, it was my job to do the background checks for our lost soulmate. Don’t worry, I kept it to myself, and always can do. Believe it or not, many do think what happened to you really was… awful. It just doesn’t pay to raise too loud a voice when you’re stuck under too big a thumb.”

He tapped his watch and cleared his throat as the lift doors opened. “I won’t be introducing you, we have tickets to the opera tonight. Creates a terrific kerfuffle when you go in late. Just press the penthouse, and it’ll take you all the way up, they’re expecting you. As interesting it may be to see what happens next, I think this part is best left between you and them.”

Jack stepped into the lift, Toby held up his hand in mock wave as the steel doors closed. “As much as we all protect each other, the other cheek can still be turned, from time to time.”

The sound of Beethoven’s 5th lightly piped through ceiling speakers into the smoothly oiled glass cage, as Jack rose to meet the makers of his destiny, the chance for vengeance drawing closer.

TO BE CONTINUED . . .

THIS IS THE TWENTY-SECOND CHAPTER OF ORIGINAL ADVENTURE SERIAL PROTECTED SPECIES. THE FINAL CHAPTERS WILL BE POSTED NEXT WEEK.

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