Home > BZRK (BZRK #1)(5)

BZRK (BZRK #1)(5)
Michael Grant

He saw team shirts.

A redheaded kid.

A mother pulling her baby close.

An old guy making the sign of the cross, like he was doing it in slow motion.

“Dad.”

Then the jet flipped. Up was down.

The jet was moving very fast. But not quite the speed of sound. Not quite the speed of sound, so the crunch of the aluminium nose hitting bodies and seats and concrete did reach Stone’s ears.

But before his brain could register the sound, Stone’s honest brow and strong nose and broad shoulders and his brain and ears, too, were smashed to jelly.

Stone was instantly dead, so he did not see that his father’s body was cut in two as it blew through the split side of the cockpit.

He did not see that a section of Grey’s shattered-melon head flew clear, bits of gray-and-pink matter falling away, a trail of brain.

A small piece—no bigger than a baby’s fist—of one of the great minds of modern times landed in a paper cup of Coors Light and sank into the foam.

Then the explosion.

THREE

Sadie McLure didn’t see the jet until it was far too late.

The boy she was with—Tony—was not a boyfriend. Not really. But maybe. If he grew up a little. If he got past being weird about the fact that his father was just a department manager at McLure Industries. That he lived in a house half the size of the McLure home’s garage.

“Sorry about these seats,” Tony said for, oh, about the tenth time. “I thought I might get access to my buddy’s skybox, but …”

Yeah, that was the problem for Sadie: not being in a skybox while she watched a game she didn’t understand or like.

Until Tony had brought it up, Sadie had had no idea what a skybox was.

So not the most important thing in the world, that disparity in income. If she limited herself to dating the kids of other billionaires, she wasn’t going to have much to choose from.

“I enjoy mixing with the common people,” Sadie said.

He looked startled.

“That was a joke,” she said. Then, when he didn’t smile, she added, “Kidding.”

Try to be nice, she told herself.

Try to be more flexible.

Sure, why not a football game? Maybe it would be fun. Unless of course it involved some otherwise perfectly attractive and intelligent boy apologizing for his five-year-old Toyota and his jacket, which was just … she didn’t even remember what brand, but he seemed to think it wasn’t the right brand.

If there was a downside to being well-off—and there weren’t many—it was that people assumed you must be a snob. And no amount of behaving normally could change some people’s mind.

“Have a nacho,” Sadie said, and offered him the cardboard tray.

“They’re pretty awful, aren’t they?” he replied. “Not exactly caviar.”

“Yeah, well, I’ve already had my caviar for the day,” Sadie said. And this time she didn’t bother to explain that that was a joke. Instead she just scooped up a jalapeño and popped a chip in her mouth and munched it gloomily.

This was going to be a long date.

Sadie could be described as a series of averages that added up to something not even slightly average. She was of average height and average weight. But she had a way of seeming far larger when she was determined or angry.

She was of average beauty. Unless she was flirting or wanted to be noticed by a guy, and then, so very much not average. She had the ability to go from “Yeah, she’s kinda hot” to “Oh my God, my heart just stopped,” simply by deciding to turn it on. Like a switch. She could aim her brown eyes and part her full lips and yes, right then, she could cause heart attacks.

And five minutes later be just a good-looking but not particularly noticeable girl.

At the moment she was not in heart-attack-causing mode. But she was getting to the point where she was starting to seem larger than she was. Intelligent, perceptive people knew this was dangerous. Tony was intelligent—she’d never have gone out with him otherwise— but he was not perceptive.

Jesus, Sadie wondered, probably under her breath, how long did these football games last? She felt as if it was entering its seventy-fifth hour.

She couldn’t just walk away, grab a cab, and go home; Tony would think it was some reflection on his lack of a diamond-encased phone or whatever.

Could she sneak a single earbud into the ear away from Tony? Would he notice? This would all go so much better with some music or an audiobook. Or maybe just white noise. Or maybe a beer to dull the dullness of it all.

“Clearly, I need a fake ID,” Sadie said, but too quietly for Tony to hear it over a load groan as a pass went sailing over the head of the receiver.

Sadie noticed the jet only after it had already started its too-sharp turn.

She didn’t recognize it as her father’s. Not at first. Grey wasn’t the kind of guy who would paint his plane with some company logo.

“That plane,” she said to Tony. She poked his arm to get his attention.

“What?”

“Look at it. Look what it’s doing.”

And the engine noise was wrong. Too loud. Too close.

A frozen moment for her brain to accept the impossible as the inevitable.

The jet would hit the stands. There was no stopping it. It was starting to pull up but way too late.

Sadie grabbed Tony’s shoulder. Not for comfort but to get him moving. “Tony. Run!”

Tony dug in his heels, scowled at her. Sadie was already moving and she plowed into him, knocked him over, skinned her knee right through her jeans as she tripped, but levered one foot beneath herself, stepped on Tony’s most excellent abs, pushed off, and leapt away.

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