The bomb went off and flames flew up the elevator shaft. I dove out of the way to the sound of twisted metal and screeching cables. The building shook and the fire alarms went off. Water sprayed out of the sprinklers. I looked back and the hall was on fire. I didn’t know what floor I was on, but I knew there was no way I could make it back to the room. Guests of all shapes, sizes, and complexion poked their heads out of their doors to check on the sound.
“Was ist passiert?” asked an old woman in a bath robe. Her hair was as grey as the smoke blowing from the elevator shaft.
I picked myself up from the red carpet and assessed the damage. The guests looked at me as if I worked at the hotel. “Everyone needs to get out.” They didn’t understand until I pushed the old woman and the couple in the next room over toward the exit staircase on the far end of the hallway. “Move.”
Smoke filled the hallway as I propped the exit door open and waited for the guests to depart. I yelled again a few times for everyone to evacuate the building and waited until I coughed to finally descend the stairs. Surely Mr.Mercedes wouldn’t know where to look for me. I could only imagine the chaos in the casino. Even if Ms. Cold Smile lived through the elevator drop, the explosion surely incinerated her. There isn’t such a thing as a fireproof vest, but who knows.
This was Zurich, and anything could happen.
Each flight of stairs I took down to the ground floor, a memory of Lila flooded my mind.
Our first kiss.
Our first road trip to Destin.
Our last kiss.
By the time I reached the exit, I decided to just leave, find a safe place, and reassess the situation. I didn’t have a passport, but I had the note with the address. My lungs welcomed the fresh night air. Hotel guests were crowding around watching the fire engulf the lower floor. I went up to a guy about my size and height and offered him a hundred swiss francs to swap shirts and to buy his blue cap. He was a British guy, who was evidently a fan of Arsenal.
By the time the fire department arrived on scene, I was almost around the block. I took a zigzag route away from the hotel, in hopes to avoid Mr. Mercedes. It wasn’t until I reached the embankment of the Limmat that I felt safe.
Then, I pulled the note out of my pocket and looked at the address.