An Encounter in Atlanta
103 Pages
English

An Encounter in Atlanta

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Published 08 December 2010
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Language English
The Project Gutenberg eBook, An Encounter in Atlanta, by Ed Howdershelt This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net ** This is a COPYRIGHTED Project Gutenberg eBook, Details Below ** ** Please follow the copyright guidelines in this file. ** Title: An Encounter in Atlanta Author: Ed Howdershelt Release Date: January 1, 2005 [eBook #14556] Language: English Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 ***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK AN ENCOUNTER IN ATLANTA*** Copyright (C) 2003 by Ed Howdershelt AN ENCOUNTER IN ATLANTA A Mandi Steele Novel Copyright © 2003 by Ed Howdershelt ISBN 1-932693-04-1 Prologue: Ahmed Musaffi combined three prayers on Friday afternoon; one for his family, one for himself, and one for success in his holy mission. He then got into the yellow Crown Victoria that had been provided for the occasion and drove the few miles from Cascade Heights into downtown Atlanta through a drizzling rain. The Crown Vic had been 'heavily customized' -- a choice of words that had been a source of great amusement among those who had labored for a week to pack the trunk and every concealable cubic inch of the car with plastic explosive. Every little bump in the road bottomed-out the shocks and springs, and despite what he'd been told about his load being detonated only by radio, Ahmed flinched hard at every jolt and swore viciously at the other cars around him. A red, hard plastic suitcase shifted slightly on the seat next to him. Ahmed reached to push it back in place and briefly cursed the fool who'd perched it there, although no wires showed and there was no chance the case would fall. At a red light one block from his goal, Ahmed wiped his face on his sleeves and repeated part of his last prayer -- the part for himself -- one more time as he twisted his grip on the steering wheel. Clusters of people hurried across the street, some in various costumes he recognized. Spiderman led Wonder Woman at a laughing dash to the shelter of an awning, where they were joined by Lara Croft, a tall, furry creature, and a couple of white-armored stormtroopers. Ridiculous fantasies of the unfaithful, thought Ahmed. There was only one true book under heaven and no man had ever been so foolish as to try to make a movie of it. Ahmed's little group had been instructed to strike on the second day of the science fiction convention. No reasons had been given for choosing this particular event as a target and -- as far as Ahmed was concerned -- none were required. Their leader had spoken, and his words were the words of Allah in matters of their holy cause. When the light turned green, Ahmed's jangling nerves caused him to goose the gas pedal. The back tires spun uselessly on the wet pavement until he rather shakily let up on the gas a bit. Continuing up the street, he turned left into the covered driveway of the Rivage Hotel's reception area and joined a line of cars waiting their turns to load or offload passengers and luggage at the big glass doors at the top of the driveway. Ahmed's was the fifth car in line when a family of five came through those doors and walked past him, evidently on their way to some part of the science fiction convention. The three children all wore costumes; the two boys were waving their hollow plastic lightsabers at each other and the blonde girl -- perhaps as old as twelve -- was wearing a Batgirl costume and slinging her cape dramatically as she walked. A pang of pity lanced through Ahmed, but then he remembered his teachings, hardened his heart, and severely chastised himself for his momentary weakness. They were just infidels. Untaught, unholy, and therefore unfit to live. He moved forward another carlength, and again watched the family in his rearview mirror as they stood waiting to cross the street. The blonde girl grinningly faced into the gusting wind to make her cape billow behind her. Too bad, Ahmed thought appraisingly. The girl might possibly have been found worthy of conversion to Islam. Or not, he appended, remembering the dancers at the strip club the night before. After all, even infidel females were good for purposes of pleasure and labor. In the pure world that he and other holy martyrs would bring into being, their children would be raised according to the teachings of the Prophet and the women would be allowed to live only so long as they dutifully served the righteous and faithful. The car by the doors moved away as people got into the car behind it. It then moved away, as well, and Ahmed was only one carlength away from where he could aim his fake taxi up the ramp at the doors. He eyed the walkway ramp -- easily five meters wide, with no posts or other impediments -and the doors above. In the center was a revolving door, flanked on either side by doors that swung open. They would prove no barrier. All he had to do was ram through and get the car into the lobby, then press the button on the transmitter in his raincoat pocket. Motion in his side-rearview mirror and the sound of something hollow clattering on the ground caused him to look away from the doors. A truly beautiful blonde woman in what appeared to be little more than a bathing suit and boots stood just behind his car. She seemed to be looking for something, probably some sort of accessory to her scandalously inadequate costume. Thinking that she must also be a visitor to the science fiction convention, Ahmed's eyes locked on her marvelous bare legs and ample bosom for some moments as she crouched and knelt to try to reach whatever had fallen beneath the taxi. Her eyes met his in the mirror and she smiled coyly as she walked up the driveway. Allah be praised for letting such a magnificent woman be his last sight on Earth! And her glorious breasts were nearly leaping out of her costume! Concentrating on her approaching breasts, Ahmed never saw -- and was conscious only long enough to barely feel -- her fist slam into the side of his head. The blow sent him sprawling against the luggage on the seat and into oblivion. The woman quickly shifted the car into