Babylon Rising, Chapter 1, Part 2
So, Mike is falling because Methuselah told him to head to the roof, only to pull the floor out from under him or something.
Now, something seemed a bit…off…about all this, so I did what I always do when I have a question about physics (which happens a lot, as you may imagine) and called my brother.
He figures that it would take, at a generous estimate, two entire seconds to fall eight stories.
But I picture Mikey falling like a Warner Bros. character, falling for about 30 full seconds, taking a sip of tea, reading War and Peace, etc. Because here are all the things he manages to do during the eight-story fall:
“In the fleeting seconds after he started his descent, his multitasking mind flashed on how beautiful Laura [his wife] had looked yesterday afternoon before she left for her plane, he offered up a quick prayer, and he forced himself to focus on his years of martial arts training…He settled on the combination he had come to call Cat’s Last Gasp…”
Now, I might, might, be able to give Mike credit for such “multitasking” if he had been in the military, or had some other kind of training that would allow him to bypass panic and react instinctively to an unexpected free-fall. But the way this is written, makes it sound like Mike just immediately begins casually mulling over his options:
“Hmmm, I appear to be free-falling. In such a situation, one must focus on the best position to place one’s body in so that the chance of injury will be reduced as much as possible.I could use Cat’s Last Gasp, or Dog’s First Whine, or Cockroach’s Mid-Point Scuttle…”
But, as it happens, he doesn’t have to worry about any of this. Methuselah has put up a big net for Mikey. Hidden away but able to be heard, Meth explains that “his people” set up the net (and apparently everything else to come). The free-fall wasn’t the death trap, you see—
The death trap is for Mike to fight a lion so that he may retrieve the clue stored in a collar which has been placed around said lion’s neck.
So Meth’s people have 1) obtained a lion, 2) placed a collar with a clue around its neck, 3) transported it to a deserted warehouse in Raleigh, and 4) put up a net to catch the guy who’s going to fall through a hole in the roof to do battle with the lion. All this while making sure their employer will stay hidden during the battle, but be able to be heard.
Methuselah’s people rock.
Having hopped down from the net, Mikey demands that Meth tease him about the archeological prize about to be won. Meth’s only clue is that it has to do with the Book of Daniel. Hence, Mike gets to play Daniel. Daniel, lion, get it? Ha!
Mike doesn’t so much battle the lion as he retreats back into the net. Which is actually pretty smart. He cuts down part of the net so it falls on the lion, then hops onto the floor and cuts down the other half, sorta-kinda trapping him. He then knocks out the lion with a sandbag so he can grab the collar.
Oh, and remember those taunts about Mike’s faith? Here are some insults to his religion, leveled by Meth during the lion fight. As you can see, these will cut to the very core of anyone’s faith:
“For a usless Bible teacher, you got moxie…”
“…[the artifact] will make you the reigning king of your precious Bible circle…”
“…don’t get overconfident with your Bible-boy heroics…”
Prize in hand, Mike makes no effort to find Methuselah. He half-heartedly interrogates him about the artifact, but, following Meth’s warning that some people will will Stop At Nothing To Get It, he simply heads off for home, none the worse for wear except for one lion swipe to the shoulder.
And thus ends Chapter One. On to Babylon!