Here we are again... and who knows what is going to happen?! I do, I do! ;) Read on to find out what the prompt, have a character trip, inspired!
Fortitude Part 33
The stone scraped as I lifted it up and slid it off to the side. I winced and froze, ready to slip it back into place if necessary. Listening intently, I ignored the sound of my heart pounding in my chest and tried to keep my breath slow and steady.
“I don’t think there are any guards down here,” I said. I heaved myself out of the hole. No Name followed me. Teddy was trickier; I had him turn with his back to me so I could lock my arms around his chest and help pull him up until he could sit on the lip of the hole and then stand up.
No Name stood over the skeleton in the corner of the cell. “Who do you think this is?” he asked.
“I don’t know.”
“Should we search it?” Teddy looked at us over his shoulder. He was standing by the bars separating the cell from the hallway. “I think the keys are out there, and we’re locked in.” He pushed on the door, and it didn’t budge an inch.
“Let’s look for some cogs.” I didn’t want to touch the body. It might be a skeletal corpse now, but once upon a time it was a person. The very idea creeped me out and practically ensured I’d have nightmares. We swept the cell but found nothing.
“We’re going to have to do it.” No Name crouched down by the body. “I expected you to have more gumption than this; don’t be squeamish now.”
I scowled. “You don’t know us; don’t act like you do!” Just because I didn’t want to desecrate a corpse didn’t mean I was squeamish.
Teddy place a hand on my shoulder. “Don’t worry, I can do it,” he whispered in my ear. But he was pale and sweat beaded on his forehead. Teddy was injured, and he needed time to heal.
“No, it’s fine. You go sit down and rest.” There was no telling what else we were going to come up against. He was reluctant but finally agreed. He turned and tripped. I caught him, but he was breathing hard and even paler by the time he was steady on my feet. Teddy grunted as he sat down, closing his eyes as he leaned against the wall.
Bracing myself, I took a deep breath and let it out. I squatted on the opposite side of the body. “Let’s do this.”
“Let’s pick it up and move it first.” Brown grabbed one elbow. Hard brown sinews bonded the brittle bones together… until we moved it. The hand on the arm I was holding fell to the floor. Two of the fingers smashed like porcelain and the others rolled around.
My gorge rose and I swallowed repeatedly, trying to keep my breakfast in my gullet and not all over the stone floor. Thankfully there was no smell, or I would have faced a losing battle.
“Just keep going.” Slowly we shifted the bones. The tatters of clothing held nothing. I scraped my foot through the ancient straw. Nothing hidden there, and there was nothing on the stone.
“I don’t understand!” Everywhere we’d been there was a clue or something to help us reach the next step. Schvesla was guiding us to his machine… but how did coming to a dead end get us there? “There’s nothing here.”
No Name scoffed at me. “So easily discouraged.”
“Discouraged? We’re stuck in a locked cell!”
“Perhaps we missed something at the theater,” Teddy suggested. “That’s the only thing that makes sense. There’s no reason to have a secret tunnel to a cell with no way out of it.”
“You’re right. Whatever we need to get out of here, it must be back at the theater. We need to go back.”
Getting back through the tunnel wasn’t hard. “We didn’t check in here,” I said.
The lantern was too dim to see much, so I sent a wave of power to the bulb. I held it up. “See anything?”
Nothing stuck out at me immediately. There were no cogs. Schvesla liked his themes. What was I missing? My stomach rumbled. I’d used a lot of energy and we had to make an appearance that afternoon at a salon where we would politely chat with the ladies and play lawn games.
I wasn’t looking forward to pulling Teddy out without the thralls’ help, but No Name and I were able to handle loop the rope around his waist and hoist him out. I bent over to undo the knots and help Teddy step out of the rope loops. “We’ll come back tomorrow.” I turned around, expecting to hear some answer from No Name, but he was already gone.
“Huh.” He was annoying. “Well, let’s go. It wouldn’t do to be late again.”
We made our way several blocks over to pick up a carriage. We sat together on one bench. “How’s your shoulder?” I asked.
“Sore, but not too bad.” Teddy made the mistake of shrugging and then grimaced.
“Let me know if you need a tonic; I can mix one up when we change.”
“I should be fine.” Teddy settled against the seat and yawned. “I could use a nap though.”
“After the parlor, we’ll lock the doors and lie down together.”
Teddy leaned his head against my shoulder. “I’d like that.” He drowsed quietly until we approached my family’s small estate. There were two carriages out front.
“Looks like we already have guests we are failing to entertain,” I said. I turned to help Teddy out of the carriage and a hand clamped down on my shoulder from behind.
“I don’t think that’s a problem for you today,” a man said.TBC
Now go read more flash pieces from the other Briefers!!