Star Blaze (Top of the Rock)
… Through the clear roof of the lift he could see rows of blue lights like young stars twinkling in the shaft – the top of the building was approaching very quickly.
As the cabin stopped and the downward pressure subsided, Johnny pulled himself to his feet with the help of a handrail. The doors opened. With the last of his strength he stumbled out and saw through the wall of windows exactly how high up he was – in front of the Empire State Building, probably above even Nicky’s office. Kovac was talking in his ear, but he couldn’t concentrate on the words. It was as though his whole body had started to shut down once he’d collapsed in the lift. Some survival instinct, buried deep within his brain, told him to keep going upwards. Falling through a set of revolving doors, he stumbled onto a narrow escalator and grabbed hold of the black rubber handrail either side. The moving staircase carried him out onto a roof space. As he reached the top he staggered forward, but stayed on his feet, though it felt as if the cold air was stabbing at his broken nose.
The edges of the roof were packed with sightseers, their faces pressed up against giant clear perspex screens that looked over the city. He just wanted to lie down again and curl up on the paved ground, but Kovac was still talking, directing him left and left again, into a stairwell. Some primordial force kept Johnny moving and he climbed again. He reached the very top, exposed to the surroundings with no more barriers. Far fewer tourists had found their way to this level and those that had were crouched in front of silver binocular stands, well protected by thick coats against the wintry air. The quantum computer’s voice was being drowned out by a whirring noise, becoming louder and louder. Johnny knew he’d heard it before, that it somehow meant danger. Then, like a lightbulb switching on in his head, he realized it was the rotor blades of a helicopter. He looked upwards but, apart from a stack of aerials and antennae spiking into the sky, the view was clear.
Then, Colonel Hartman’s black chopper appeared from beneath his feet, rising up close to the very edge of the tower, with the Empire State Building behind. It swung round so it was side-onto him and people on the rooftop began to scream. The few tourists in the line of sight between Johnny and it scattered. He immediately saw why. The helicopter door was open and, kneeling on the ledge, was a lone gunman, aiming a rifle straight at him. He knew he should run for cover, but his legs had turned to lead. He looked down at his top and followed the point of a red laser beam as it settled on the central star of Cassiopeia, before he raised his head to the chopper. The colonel was standing behind the shoulder of the marksman, who fired, sparks erupting into the darkness around…