Bernard Kittridge, known to the world as “Last Stand in Denver,” realized it was time to leave the morning the power went out.
He wondered what had taken so long. You couldn’t keep a municipal electrical grid running without people to man it, and as far as Kittridge could tell from the nineteenth floor, not a single human soul was left alive in the city of Denver.
Which was not to say he was alone.
He had passed the early hours of the morning—a bright, clear morning in the first week of June, temperatures in the mid-seventies with a chance of blood-sucking monsters moving in toward dusk—sunning on the balcony of the penthouse he had occupied since the second week of the crisis. It was a gigantic place, like an airborne palace; the kitchen alone was the size of Kittridge’s whole apartment. The owner’s taste ran in an austere direction: sleek leather seating groups that were better to look at than sit on, floors of twinkling travertine, small furry rugs, glass tables that appeared to float in space. Breaking in had been surprisingly simple. By the time Kittridge had made his decision, half the city was dead, or fled, or missing.
The cops were long gone. He’d thought about barricading himself into one of the big houses up in Cherry Creek, but based on the things he’d seen, he wanted someplace high. The owner of the penthouse was a man he knew slightly, a regular customer at the store. His name was Warren Filo. As luck would have it, Warren had come into the store the day before the whole thing broke to gear up for a hunting trip to Alaska. He was a young guy, too young for how much money he had— Wall Street money, probably, or one of those high-tech IPOs.
On that day, the world still cheerily humming along as usual, Kittridge had helped Warren carry his purchases to the car. A Ferrari, of course. Standing beside it, Kittridge thought: Why not just go ahead and get a vanity plate that says, DOUCHE BAG 1? A question that must have been plainly written on his face, because no sooner had it crossed his mind than Warren went red with embarrassment. He wasn’t wearing his usual suit, just jeans and a T-shirt with SLOAN SCHOOL OF MANAGEMENT on the front. He’d wanted Kittridge to see the car, that was obvious, but now that he’d allowed this to happen, he’d realized how dumb it was, showing off a vehicle like that to a floor manager at Outdoor World who probably made less than fifty grand a year. (The number was actually forty-six.) Kittridge allowed himself a silent laugh at that—the things this kid didn’t know would fill a book—and he let the moment hang to make the point. I know, I know, Warren confessed. It’s a little much. I told myself I’d never be one of those assholes who drive a Ferrari. But honest to God, you should feel the way she handles.
Kittridge had gotten Warren’s address off his invoice. By the time he moved in—Warren presumably snug and safe in Alaska—it was simply a matter of finding the right key in the manager’s office, putting it into the slot in the elevator panel, and riding eighteen floors to the penthouse. He unloaded his gear. A rolling suitcase of clothes, three lockers of weaponry, a hand-crank radio, night-vision binoculars, flares, a first-aid kit, bottles of bleach, an arc welder to seal the doors of the elevator, his trusty laptop with its portable satellite dish, a box of books, and enough food and water to last a month. The view from the balcony, which ran the length of the west side of the building, was a sweeping 180 degrees, looking toward Interstate 25 and Mile High field. He’d positioned cameras equipped with motion detectors at each end of the balcony, one to cover the street, a second facing the building on the opposite side of the avenue. He figured he’d get a lot of good footage this way, but the money shots would be actual kills. The weapon he’d selected was a Remington bolt-action 700P, .338 caliber— a nice balance of accuracy and stopping power, zeroing out at three hundred yards. To this he’d affixed a digital video scope with infrared. Using the binoculars, he would isolate his target; the rifle, mounted on a bipod at the edge of the balcony, would do the rest.
It was true. Kittridge had never driven anything like it in his life.
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