Okay, it's Wednesday, and here we are again! I don't want to give anything away, so I'll get right on to my inspiration, this photo and the line: "There's a hole in the"
Fortitude Part 21
“Do you think the well-intentioned folly was Schvesla’s invention?” Teddy asked out of the blue. He straightened up and took a deep breath. “After all, he intended for it to help the city survive into the future, but it didn’t even work for his entire lifetime.”
Teddy had moved out of my arms when he came out of his fugue, and I missed his damp heat and the weight of his body against my chest. He began to pace a few steps back and forth in the alley. “It makes sense. But what’s the hubris of man?”
“Inventing his machine was hubris? He was a man, and celebrated for his accomplishments until it failed and no one could fix it. There are even some who believe that’s why there are so few betas born.”
“Maybe. So if inventing his machine was something he regretted doing, is the warning about the reaction of the people to his invention or the invention itself? And if so, what does that have to do with whatever is at the address?” Teddy ran a hand through his hair, dislodging the lacing keeping it off his face.
“Let’s go find out.” Teddy hadn’t been lost in his mind nearly as long as his usual. I’d once asked him about the fugues. Whereas I tended to focus on one thing specifically, Teddy’s thoughts were fluid. He’d fugue focused on one thing but then he’d skip from one thought to the next, each connected. It reminded me of a web, one that could trap him in its sticky grasp for hours.
“You feeling okay?” Sometimes he was really logy after a fugue; he usually wouldn’t speak to anyone but me.
“Fine. I’m sorry I slowed us down.” He yawned. The fugues took a lot of energy out of him.
“Not your fault.” He couldn’t control them; I knew that. I looked around. We’d moved away from the park and there were some shops around us. “Let’s get you a coffee.”
Teddy protested, “We’ve already lost time.”
I nudged him into the road. “We both need to be at our best. I could use something hot and filling. Perhaps they’ll have some chocolate buns in that café.”
Fortified by large cups of hot coffee and an extra chocolate bun for the road, I was happy to see Teddy back to his energetic self. His insights had been helpful, too. Well, they might be, once we figured out where we were going. That inscription had not been placed on that paper on a whim.
“Are we close?” Teddy wiped his fingers on the handkerchief I handed him.
The afternoon was beginning to draw to a close. We didn’t have much time before calling hours would begin, which could help us or hinder us. “Next street over, I believe.”
A fence and ornate gate, patchy red with rust, enclosed the front garden of the address we sought. I ran a finger over the latch. More cogs. The building was large, and square. It wasn’t a house, though.
“Is this… a theater?”
There was a wooden sign over the door with two masks. “Not one I’ve heard of before.”
“I thought you knew everything about Schvesla.” Teddy raised an eyebrow.
“He enjoyed the theater in his latter days, but there was never any specific theater house named. I guess it was this one.” I tapped the metal cog. “Let’s go in.”
“Do you think they’re open? I don’t see a performance banner.” The gate screeched as Teddy pulled it open, and I winced.
“Only one way to find out.” He followed me through the flagstone courtyard. There were stone benches and planters full of wilting flowers. All in all, it did not look like a well-to-do establishment. But this was where the paper brought us.
The front entry was open. “Wasn’t that door closed?” Teddy frowned.
It had been. “Someone’s here.” I craned my neck to see as much inside without stepping into the doorway. “I don’t see anyone, though. Let’s just go in, but stay behind me.”
I waited for Teddy’s agreement, then stepped through the door. I glanced from side to side, but no one was there. Who’d opened the door? Why had they disappeared? “Hello…?”
The far door was also ajar. “Do we keep going?” Teddy whispered.
What other choice was there? Moving slowly, we ventured further into silent building. Where were the patrons who usually hung about such places? The actors? Building staff? Through the far door was the cavernous room, seats ringing a wooden stage at the far wall. Our footsteps echoed. There were lush red curtains hiding the backstage area, but as we drew closer, I could see they were worn thin in spots.
Teddy indicated a dark area to one side, a slit in the fabric. “I think there’s a hole in the curtain over there.”
The hair on the back of my neck stood up. I didn’t want to head back there; it was dark and I had a bad feeling. I swallowed hard. The things Anna spoke of would not be resolved without danger. We’d discover the truth of the lies we’d been told—whoever had spoken them.
I pushed the curtains apart gingerly. As I stepped through, an arm wrapped around my neck and yanked me sideways. I stumbled. “Teddy, get out!” I managed to shout before my attacker cut off my air. The prick of something sharp at my neck froze me in place. Teddy hadn’t run; he had his belt knife in his hands. He stared over my shoulder, his whole body tense.
“Who are you and what are you doing here?” a man hissed.
“We mean no harm. My name is Will, and this is Teddy.” The knife point dug in deeper. I gasped, but held up a hand to stop Teddy.
“What are you doing here?”
I licked my lips. “We were told to come here.”
The truth or a lie…?
“Would you believe… Schvesla?” I asked.TBC
SO who do you think it is? Good guy? Bad guy? Theater guard? lol For more flash fiction, check out the other Briefer's posts!