Time to focus on the search to find out what's really going on with Schvesla's machine! This week's flash was inspired by the prompt: use cheek, floor, hammer. Enjoy!!
Fortitude Part 19
“One of these days I’m going to knock my brother to the floor and give him a drubbing he won’t forget,” I snapped, once we’d left the house.
“Just turn the other cheek, Will. You can’t change him.”
Teddy acted like he didn’t care when my brother tried to hammer his supposed inferiority into him. But Teddy’s dad was far better at it than my brother would ever be. That didn’t mean I would allow either of them to make him believe he was anything less than the amazing man I knew him to be.
“We’ll prove him wrong. We’ll prove they’re all wrong, about both of us.”
I smiled when Teddy nudged me, quite rudely, and then he grinned. “Sounds good to me,” he said. “So what are we going to do first?”
“There was nothing at the museum, but your questions about Schvesla’s journals reminded me of something I’d read in one.” I steered him toward the transport station.
“And this place is far enough we need a carriage?”
“We do.” I didn’t want to talk about it more outside, but once we were in the carriage we were able to speak without being overheard. I deposited a few coins in the wall below the conductor’s bench seat; I knew exactly how many it took. “We’re going to the scrap yard.”
“Why the scrap yard?” Teddy was too far away, even though we were safe from prying eyes, so I held out my hand to him. It pleased me when he took it, scooting across the velvet padded seat to curl into my side. Being able to touch him as more than friends soothed the ache I’d felt inside for years. “What could possibly be there?”
“Schvesla’s journals said it was his favorite spot as a child. It actually gave him the idea for his machine. The perpetual spindles gave him the idea on how a single surge of Beta power could create untold power—safe, clean power unlike what we have to use now.” My eyes were burning from the carriage engine. The people who lived in the lower areas of the city suffered more from the low haze that never really went away.
“You think he hid something there?” Teddy ran a finger down the pinstripes on my trousers.
A trail of heat followed the path of his finger. I’d always reacted to Teddy; I had more power around him than when I was alone. “He hid something at his house that led us out of the city to another one—one that has been empty for hundreds of years. Yet people had been living there since before Schvesla’s time, according to Anna. He gave us clues in his journal, but we have to find them.”
“Do you think, if you were to get Schvesla’s machine running, that you could power it by yourself?” Teddy asked. “You said it only took a little. But a little how often? Once a day? A fortnight? A year? And how much is a little? Anna said there were Betas who’d escaped the city, but never anyone with much power.”
I pondered his question. “I don’t know.” It pained me to admit that. I’d never really thought about that part of it; I’d been too lost in my dreams of creating a life with Teddy.
A rap on the roof startled us both.
“We must be here.” The carriage had gone faster than I expected. As soon as I climbed out, I saw why. It was pissing down rain, a cold drizzle that was going to infiltrate my clothes in minutes.
“Ew.” Teddy turned up his collar and tugged down his hat, shielding his face.
“Indeed.” Well, at least the scrap yard was empty. The carriage driver turned around, and was soon off, the iron wheels clattering along the cobblestones in a horrible racket. “We may be in for a wet walk back, though.”
“I just hope there’s no lightning.” Teddy shivered. “Where do we start?”
Large metal shapes, sculpted into different forms from small benches to towering statues formed three times larger than life populated an out of the way corner of the city that had once been the most popular park in the city. “There’s the gazebo Schvesla commissioned in the northwest corner. We’ll start there, and maybe the rain will ease off if we have to look elsewhere.”
Since he commissioned its build, it would make sense for the clever man to have hidden another compartment in the gazebo. But could we find it?
Teddy began running his hands over the columns, rapping here and there with his knuckles. I stared at the cast statue of Schvesla sitting on one of the benches that his father had built after his death. “Where would I hide my clues, if I were you?” I mused aloud. I studied him. He had jointed elbows, wrists, and fingers, but they’d long since rusted in place. It even looked like a hole was crumbling the palm of one of his hands, left upturned on his knee.
What did I know about the man himself?
He was a beta. His best friend has been a gamma, too. That’s one of the reasons I’d always felt so connected to him. There was a plaque on the side of the gazebo that mentioned Murci. His life had been cut tragically short in an accident. The metal was inscribed by the simple eulogy Schvesla gave at Murci’s funeral.
Tap. Tap. Tap.
I turned. “What are you doing?”
“Checking the floorboards.” Teddy finished walking one direction, took a step sideways, and began walking a straight line back. “Checking every inch, right?”
“Right.” Where would I trust something precious to me?
I hurried over to Murci’s plaque. I ran my hands over the edges, looking for a gap. Nothing. I studied the metal border. Cogs! And they moved.
“I think I found it!”TBC
What do you think they'll find? While you wait to learn that next week, go check out more flash by the other Briefers.