The bear rushed him. The elevator camera was. He must have hit a button before. Tanner led them around a corner to the fire stairs. The door there was propped open, while four firemen struggled to get a makeshift stretcher of chain-link fence through the doorway. Sprawled across the mesh was an unmoving mass of black fur, its long pink tongue lolling out of the side of its bloodstained muzzle.
A man with a short gray beard and a baseball cap that read Bruin Rescue Ranch was supervising. Keep his head supported! Nobody else has been down there since the staff bolted. Offices, mostly.
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When the bear came out of the elevator, it started wandering around. Staff elevator was frozen, so everybody ran for the fire exit and got out. The firemen finally succeeded in negotiating the unconscious animal out of the stairwell. They lugged it toward the exit, the handler barking orders every step of the way. He stood beside Nick, leaning on his arm crutch and gesturing with his other hand. Either this guy walked away from the crash, or the fire vaporized him completely—which is impossible.
Not completely, said Nick. He used a stick to lift a partially melted rubber clown mask. Part of his face survived. He headed toward the casino entrance. Nick got to work documenting the wreckage, dropping markers and taking pictures. He found no footprints—clown or otherwise—leading away from the crash, no blood trail or spatter.
He did find bits of electronics, fragments of framework made mostly of balsawood, and a small electric motor. He bagged and tagged everything, then took samples of the ashes that remained. Doc Robbins had joined Greg and Sara at the open elevator car on the basement level, where there was an abundance of blood—but no corpse.
Doc Robbins said. What happened to this one—did the bear eat him? These bears are well fed, right? Tanner walked up. Greg pointed at the floor, where bloody bear pawprints led from the foyer toward the offices. We might not know where the guard is, but we know where the bear went. They followed the tracks away from the elevator. The bear had gone down the hallway to the very end, where it had apparently stopped in front of a large metal door.
State law says the casino has to have them on hand in case the ones in use are compromised. I have the access code, said Tanner. Step back, please. He blocked the keypad with his body and entered the code, opening the door. Greg stepped in and looked around.
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Wheeled shelving units lined the walls, filled with clear plexiglass cases full of casino chips. Sara gave him a look. She paced the room, studying each rack of chips. The bear tracks doubled back down the hall, where they entered the first office on the left. The tracks go around the perimeter, noted Sara. Nobody else was attacked? Greg surveyed the room, which held half a dozen cubicles.
So it charges in here, runs around the outside of the room—giving everyone not only a good look at it but enough time to escape—then heads back out the door. Sara was already on to the next room.
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Where it does exactly the same thing, she said. It was the same in every office. Greg stood in the blood-splashed elevator, peering at the wall. Lot of spatter in here, but look at this. He pointed to the railing at waist height that ran around the periphery. Is that a footprint? Could be, said Sara. She looked up.
People trying to escape bears sometimes climb trees—maybe the guard went up instead of out? Exit hatch is closed, said Greg. Could be he used it, then put the cover back in place. One mile past the Vegas city limits, a man and a woman shamble out of the desert. The moon above them is a giant eye, staring at them with cold, unblinking hostility. Her eyes are empty and lifeless, her skin as white as hospital linen under the lunar glare. The man is lean and muscular, his hair a black military bristle over a skull etched with scars. His right hand is bound in a kind of sling, the wrist lashed to the forearm with strips of torn cloth.
The arm bears only a cursory resemblance to a human limb; it is covered with thick, overlapping scales of a deep orange, and it ends in a hand tipped with long, curving black claws. The hand twitches grotesquely as the man walks, flopping against his chest and waggling its long fingers like a spider on its back.
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The many-hued lights of the city rise before them: flame-flickering reds, lurid alien greens, blues and whites arcing like lightning. Soon, Theria, he promises. They continue on, their footsteps slow but resolute. She shone a flashlight around. No guard, she called down. Greg handed her up a pair of tweezers and an evidence bag. She collected the sample carefully and handed it back down. I doubt it, said Tanner.
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We were right outside that door a few minutes ago. Tanner shook his head. Sara clambered all the way through the hatch and stood up on the roof of the car. She shone her light straight up. Is there anyone up there? Sara grabbed a more powerful searchlight from her vehicle, then ran into Nick as she headed for the lobby. Two missing bodies, huh? The elevator let them out one floor below the penthouse, and they all followed Tanner to the fire stairs. There was a big party going on here until all the excitement started, Tanner said.
Once the alarms went off and the elevators locked down, everyone had to use the stairs. Of course, we tried to keep everyone out of the casino—last thing we wanted was more people on the floor while the bears were roaming around. They went up the stairs and Tanner unlocked the door at the penthouse level. The fire door led to a small foyer that also held the private elevator. A gigantic display of tropical flowers in a cut-glass vase adorned the opposite wall, beside a wide, arched doorway.
A broad-shouldered, short-haired security guard in a black tuxedo stood in front of the doorway, his arms crossed, a transparent cord coiling from one ear into his collar. Stackwell nodded. Greg went straight to the elevator door and began to examine it. Have you heard any strange noises from behind here? Banging, scratching, maybe moaning?
Stackwell frowned. No, sir. But it was pretty noisy in here until a little while ago. I could have missed something like that. Sara nodded.
I think we should go all the way up—the elevator machine room should be right above this. This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue? Upload Sign In Join. Save For Later. Create a List.
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Summary A lavish penthouse party on top of a Vegas hotel and casino plays host to a bizarre set-up to murder in which a security guard is trapped and killed in a private elevator—and the body soon vanishes. Read on the Scribd mobile app Download the free Scribd mobile app to read anytime, anywhere.
Ten feet down it, a tiny piece of broken glass glinted on the floor. They headed into the desert, and quickly disappeared on rocky, sun-hardened soil. But not at this party—because on this particular Sunday night, there was a zeppelin. And then the zeppelin burst into flames. See payment information. International postage and import charges paid to Pitney Bowes Inc. Learn More - opens in a new window or tab International postage and import charges paid to Pitney Bowes Inc. Learn More - opens in a new window or tab Any international postage and import charges are paid in part to Pitney Bowes Inc.
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