“Open up,” a voice cried. “Mr. Tesla, you're wanted for questioning.”
He froze. They had been lying in wait for him. Should have figured...of course they'd come to my lab. He cursed himself for falling into the trap.
Heart pounding, he grabbed a large screwdriver and jammed it under his belt like a weapon. His fist closed around a small oscillator and he stuffed it under his shirt. Ignoring the pain in his burned hands, he climbed up on top of a large transformer and vaulted onto the crossbeam holding up the roof of the laboratory building. I'm still quite fit for my age, he thought with a grim smile. He crouched up under the roof and listened to the officers breaking down the door. His fingers played over the controls of the oscillator.
A crowd of police officers charged in. “Come on, Tesla, we know you're in here. Come on out—it'll just go worse for you if you don't cooperate.”
“Where the devil is he? I saw him go in,” said one of the officers. “You got all the exits covered?”
“Yeah. I think he's up there on the ceiling,” Niko heard another one say.
“Damn! That bastard's wily as a spider, he is.”
“Nick, this is Officer Kelly,” one of the officers called out. “You've been cited for disorderly conduct, in connection with some of your Shoreham experiments.” Officer Kelly stood with his hands on his hips. “Come on down, Nick.”
Niko gripped the column that held up the roof. “Is that what this is about—just a citation?” He tried to sound casual. “Leave it on the table and I'll see you in court.”
“We'll talk about it when you come down.”
Niko took a deep breath. Of course it was more than just a citation. These police were working with Them! “Say, Officer Kelly. Remember when I caused an earthquake a few years ago and almost took a building down?”
Two officers clustered together. “What the devil—?”
“He's right,” one said to the others. “I heard about it. Goddamn maniac almost leveled a city block.”
“That's right, gentlemen. I have my little quake-maker right here.” He held up the oscillator. “Go away or I'll take this building down—right over your heads.”
“God damn!” The officers conferred among themselves. “Know what? He's crazy enough—he'll do it!”
Niko clamped the device to the roof beam. “I've already set this to start creating resonant waves. Feel the gentle oscillations, the molecules of metal dancing in resonance?” And the power of suggestion would accentuate what they felt. “This is a very old building...it's probably already slated for demolition. I'm just helping it along.”
“Come on, Nick, that's insane! You make this building collapse, and you'll be killed too!”
“Correct, gentlemen.” Niko smiled in triumph. “That way you'll never get hold of the secrets in my head.”
“He's mad as a hatter,” said one to the other. “Should we call the fire department?”
“Gentlemen, you'd better get out. Feel those beams shaking?” Niko could feel the faint vibrations in his bones. The grains of mortar between the bricks were starting to disintegrate. Dust fell from the ceiling and puffed out of the walls.
“Look, fellows, this ain't worth dying for!” One of the policemen broke ranks and ran for it. “I got a wife and kids at home!”
By now, strong vibrations could be felt all through the building. A ceiling girder shook loose and fell with a deafening clatter. A window shattered. A crack appeared in one wall and quickly spread.
“She's coming down! Run for your lives!”
The policemen fled. Niko let out a breath he had been holding and flipped a control on the oscillator, dropping the frequency. The shaking quieted to a gentle sway, allowing him to crawl to the end of the ceiling beam and wriggle out a side vent. He took a 10-foot drop to the ground and ran. Behind him, the supporting beam collapsed and the roof caved in. Brick walls disintegrated and the whole building fell in on itself in a great cloud of dust.
Another of my labs: destroyed! Sorrow and triumph danced together in his head.