Monday, May 21, 2012
The Doomsday Symphony: Chapter 21
In the previous installment of The Doomsday Symphony, Sebastian is explaining to his guests various concerns the residents of Harmonia-IV have regarding the security of their entrances. When they arrive at Stravinsky's Tavern, they discover something is wrong: Victor is actually dead! Meanwhile, back at the Crevecoeur farmhouse, Mary Rowberson has another 'experience' and announces there's been a riff in the time-continuum, whatever that means.
*** ***** ******** ***** ***
*** ***** ******** ***** ***
We hurriedly moved Victor to the floor to give him some air. "He was fine when I left him,” Sebastian said, checking his pulse. “Mozart was sitting right there and they were having a great time."
"Wait... if he's dead, why isn't he like you: you're dead, right, Grandpa?" Zoe sobbed, looking at him with tears in her eyes.
"Well, we're dead before we get here, so the transition's a little different. We don't get many living people here but if they die here, they're just as dead as they'd be on the Other Side."
"So, if my father’s dead, it’s not like he's going to come back to life in, say, an hour or so, is he?"
"Just because I'm moving and talking and you can see me doesn't mean I'm alive, Zoe. I'm afraid as long as he's here, your father is dead."
"What do you mean, 'as long as he's here'?"
As Sebastian started to explain we'd have to get Victor's body back to the entrance to New Coalton, there was a commotion outside when suddenly the door was yanked open. Several people started piling in, three men dressed in bluish-gray uniforms, spreading out across the room with another man in a shabby black trench-coat.
"Great," I thought, "the police..."
An officer started taking photographs of the body as the man in the shabby black trench-coat walked up to survey the scene, looking over Victor's body from head to foot. For a long minute, he said nothing.
The door behind the bar, which appeared to lead to the kitchen, swung open and in walked a short, wiry man, his shiny bald dome covered by only a few strands of silver hair, a pair of glasses perched high above his eyebrows. His eyes were bright and his ears, large and alert. The heavy mustache twitched anxiously as he peered into the room, stretching up to look out over the bar.
Everyone became very quiet.
"Oh my God," Cameron blurted out in the silence, "Dead Composer Walking!"
It was, in fact, Igor Stravinsky himself.
The tavern's usually jovial proprietor, wiping his hands on his apron, hurried out to the small crowd gathered by the corner booth. "Sebastian, what happened? I look out a few minutes ago, everything fine, place full..."
Cameron tried tweeting this but discovered his cell-phone wasn't working, even the time-read-out was blank. This was more than your usual Dead Zone.
The man in the shabby black trench-coat turned to Stravinsky. Several of his customers had hurried down to the police station, he intoned, something about a man in the tavern who suspiciously just keeled over – dead.
No one did anything with the body. Xaq and I just hung on to Zoe who couldn't take her eyes off her dad.
Sebastian kept his eyes focused on Stravinsky and the detective, the well-known Milo Smighley. It was clear that if anybody was in trouble, here, it was going to be Sebastian for having brought in the trespassers.
There didn't seem to be any interest in why the trespasser had so suddenly died but I guess, when everybody's already dead, no one thinks to call for a doctor or an ambulance when they see someone who’s basically died. I wasn't even sure there was a hospital or a doctor in the whole city. Why would there be?
Speaking of trespassers, Sebastian mentioned he was breaking some law by bringing us here, never explaining what breaking that law meant or, of key importance, what they would do to the trespassers when they'd catch them. Since we could see Stravinsky, I assumed that meant the others could see us, though no one seemed to pay us any notice.
Stravinsky asked Sebastian if he'd check on the stove, nodding curtly toward the kitchen. Beckoning for us to follow, Sebastian led the way: after turning off the stove, we continued following him out the back door.
Once she'd driven over the Delaware River, Klavdia Klangfarben was glad to have put New Jersey behind them, the best place for it to be. Like anyone from Connecticut who'd gone to school in Pennsylvania and then lived in New York City, New Jersey was just a place in the middle, something to drive over, a location in the way of wherever you wanted to go, the geographical equivalent of the viola joke. She had considered telling her companion some of these jokes, but she couldn't tell if he was awake, asleep or just sulking.
The trip, so far, wasn't going very well. Yes, they were on schedule and, yes, she was familiar with the roads she was driving, at least until they got off the highway, but Abner Kedaver was proving to be something of a pain. What was it with people that most of them managed to rub her the wrong way?
She had to remember, once she got onto Route 81, heading south, she was looking for the third exit past Hazelton which would connect her with Route 309 South to Tamaqua – so many of these towns with Indian-based names struck her as sounding silly – and then, just beyond there, she would make a left turn onto Burning Mine Road.
More than a mile down the road, there was a sharp left turn that would take her back to New Coalton. There, Kedaver would lead her to the Time-Gate, the actual departure point for tonight's real journey.
And a nasty little road it turned out to be, too, switching back and forth climbing up the hill. So little used since the town had been abandoned and bull-dozed into oblivion, it was nothing more than a huge collection of pot-holes held together by rocks and tree-roots. She half expected to find the road blocked by a bear.
Pulling off at the entrance to what had been the prosperous town of New Coalton, she found the nearly overgrown field that her teacher, Dr. Bohr, had described as once having been a beautifully kept park.
Odd, though, finding a car sitting here. Why would anybody come out here? Probably just some teenagers looking for privacy on a sweltering summer night.
She woke up her companion to let him know they'd arrived.
Walking across the field, she wondered how she'd follow somebody who's invisible. Stopping to make a quick phone call, she then suddenly disappeared.
= = = = = = =
To be continued…
- Dick Strawser
The novel, "The Doomsday Symphony," a music appreciation thriller written between 2010 and 2011, is the sole supposedly intellectual property of its author, Richard Alan Strawser.