YOU’RE occured in a resinous mist, in

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The echo was lost in an eruption of
ghostly sillhouettes which in a massive rush populated the corridor with a mute
stampede.

In the distance where the sharp line
of the subway was broken in ninety degrees to reach the escalator, resonated a
dull rumble and flickered the fire. Everything occured in a resinous mist, in a
surreal water in which movements were slow and soundless. In a sleepwalker’s
nightmare from which escape was not achievable, the shadows rushed towards him,
remaining buried in the spot, struggling convulsively against the moving path
which carried them implacably back to the terminal and death. He could not make
out their faces. He sensed that they were still human-like, that the animal in
them came from some immense preelementary fear.

The scenery made him retreat. He
nearly knocked down the passenger behind him. As he drifted aside, he swore
loudly. He dropped his breviary and caught the guard rail. The band crawled
monotonously on towards the tunnel exit.

»Um
Gottes, Willen, was tun Sie?!« (”For God’s sake, what are you doing?!”)

The passenger with whom he had
collided was in his early thirties. He had blond straightened hair of a model,
translucent skin on his horse-like shaven face, and watery blue eyes beneath
glasses with a fine gilded frame. He was wearing a white raincoat, and in his
hand he held a square black vanity case. He wanted to perfect his protest, but
a glance at the collar stopped him. With a
German accent, he asked:

»Are you
all right?«

»Of
course.«, he mumbled impatiently and bent down to pick up the breviary which
was lying accusingly beside his feet. The fair-haired stranger was quicker. He
picked up the breviary and, not closing it, handed it to him. He had ugly,
bitten down nails.

»Thank
you«, said the man nicknamed Pollux, and stuffed the book on the outside pocket
of the PanAm bag. He wondered if the bastard had seen its contents, and if so,
what he had concluded fom them. Nothing, probably. In fact, he did not look
look like someone who was capable of drawing clear conclusions out of anything.
He looked like a commercial traveler whose life depended on his appearance.
Well, he thought spitefully, he would not have a good life if he continued
biting his fingernails, even if he was also wiping his shoes from the
underside. He looked with disgust towards the exit which was slowly coming
closer. Ordinary looking passengers were gliding towards him. Several Hinduses
in turbans were pushing trolleys loaded with luggage between the moving bands.
Everything was routined and recognizable again.

The clock
read 07:45 when the automatic glass doors of the Terminal 2 bursted open in
front of him. At the exact same moment, Enrico Marcone, the captain of Boeing
747 – Alitalia AZ320 on the route Rome-London-New York, requested permission to
make a high-priority landing fifteen minutes before the scheduled arrival,
because of a sudden illness of one of his passengers. Pollux, of course, knew
nothing of this. The information belonged to the secret life of international
airports, of which only little was occasionally known through the newspapers,
while the victims were being counted, and yet another culprit for an airplane
crash was being sought through the airplane’s black box and its preserved
voices of the dead crew. And even if he had known, it would not have concerned
him. Pollux, alias Dalien Leverquin, alias Patrick Cronell, had bigger things
to worry about that day. He had an appointment with a myth.

He stopped as if he had no faith in the automatism of the doors, and
then disappeared in the boisterous turmoil in front of the BA counter on the
ground floor of Terminal 2.

There where, according to the airport advertisement, the future was
beginning for the passengers, and where, according to his scenario, it would
also end for many.

 

II

Even he did not know of the premature landing of the airplane on the
Rome-London-New York flight. The false clergyman with the false breviary at
least knew why he was at the airport, no matter what was said about his reasons
for being there. The decrepit man, of undetermined age, with thin grey hair and
unshaven grayish face, wearing a jumble sale tweed suit, was leaning against
the rail of Roof Garden, from which, for the price of thirty-five pennies, you
could observe the taking off and landing of airplanes, did not even know that.
No matter how bizarre it looked to himself, he did not know why he was there,
what it was that he was looking for at Heathrow.

x

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