Author : Steve Smith, Staff Writer
“Transmutation, or more absurdly ‘transmogrification’, that’s the crux of the biscuit, isn’t it?”
The speaker stood in the middle of the room, behind massive horizontal length of stone cantilevered on top of a single metallic spire which rose directly from within the floor, the surface of which was littered with empty glasses and liquor bottles.
“And you’ll keep me here until what, I teach you how to turn water into wine? Lead into gold? What is the end-game exactly, and what becomes of me once you have what you need?”
The visitor had only moments ago extricated himself from the single remaining, mostly functioning elevator in the tower. He was here to confront their Chief Scientist, but instead stuffed his hands deep in his pockets and shook his head.
“Victor, we are very interested in what you discover, of course, but you know, there are lots of people out there that would kidnap you and…”
Victor cut him off abruptly. “And what, exactly? Lock me in the top few floors of a highrise somewhere out of the way and never let me outside again?” He laughed, then poured himself a drink, not offering one for his guest. “Bruno, considering your confidence in my intellect, you really do think I’m stupid, don’t you?”
Bruno unstuffed his hands from his pockets, and held them wide, palms facing forward in what he hoped was a non-threatening, conciliatory gesture.
Victor raised his glass and drained it, placing the empty vessel back on the counter, taking care to position it equidistant from the corner edges.
“The elevators are causing trouble are they?” Victor changed the subject. “Of course as long as you can keep me stocked with bourbon I can’t say I care.”
Bruno visibly relaxed. “There is something wrong with them, yes, maintenance has been called, but getting someone on the weekend is hard.”
“Sorry, expensive? Is that what you said?” Victor chuckled. “Doesn’t matter, here, let me show you something.”
Victor turned and walked towards the one of the floor to ceiling glass windows that surrounded them on all sides.
“You picked this building because it was a nondescript tower, in a cluster of similarly nondescript towers, in the middle of nothing very interesting.” He turned and fixed Bruno with a stare. “You lot do lack imagination, don’t you?”
Bruno joined him hesitantly, standing to one side, just out of arm’s reach.
“To build a walkway at this height to the nearest building would require a bit of clever engineering, don’t you think? And let’s face it, fifty stories up it would be crazy to build a walkway, it would have to be an enclosed bridge of some sort.”
Bruno regarded him with a perturbed sidelong stare, unsure of where this was going.
“This building, as it happens, carries about four thousand tonnes of reinforced concrete per each of its fifty floors, which is substantially over-engineered, and I’ve been able to strip about twenty five percent of that material out of the building itself, most of which is churning away in your elevator shafts as we speak.” Victor turned away from Bruno, a smile splitting his face from ear to ear. “Do you want to see what I’ve been working on?”
There was a rumbling, and the floor in the middle of the room turned from solid to liquid in an instant, and began to flow in a steady stream from the elevator to the windows. When it reached the glass, it flowed upwards and circled to form a ring, a little over two meters high before extruding itself outwards from the building, taking the circle of glass contained within it as a kind of window. The unwavering tube of suddenly liquid concrete stretched in a straight line towards the next building opposite them, about fifty meters away.
Bruno gaped, fingers twitching uncontrollably, unable to form words.
“You see, old chum, I figured out how to do a great many things quite some time ago, and now its time for me to go out into the world do them.” Victor walked across the room and paused at the mouth of the newly formed tunnel, before pausing to look back. “I considered just leaving, maybe writing a note, a word of warning for those who may come after me, but you’ve been such a persistant and condescending prick over the years, I think I’ll leave a monument to my imprisonment instead.”
Bruno realized too late that the river of concrete had turned towards him, and he writhed as it flowed over his shoes, up his legs, enveloping his body from the floor in a wave, silencing his screams before he even registered the noise he was making.
“I leave you as a word of warning.”
With that Victor stepped out into the tunnel and disappeared into the night, the tunnel itself collapsing into a deadly rain of liquid cement, leaving nothing behind but two gaping wounds in the buildings it had, momentarily, conjoined. Those, and an uncanny likeness of Bruno cast in concrete.