Friday, June 01, 2012

The Doomsday Symphony: Chapter 31

In the previous installment of The Doomsday Symphony, Sebastian tries to explain some of the problems of what seems to be 'life' here in Harmonia-IV before they are interrogated by Milo Smighley and Xaq discovers he still has an old stink-bomb in his pocket.

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Chapter 31
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For street lights, Harmonia-IV used old fashioned lamps that would have been at home in foggy London during the time of Queen Victoria, except instead of gas flames or electric lights, they had small globes of white quartz flecked with peach-colored photonmium, giving the streets a soft glow that, wonderful to note, used no fossil fuels in the process.

It made it easier for us to see where we were going even if I had no idea where we were going – or, more precisely, how we were going to get where I thought we're going.

The immediate plan was to get back to the library, grab the Time-Device and hopefully figure out where Klangfarben was headed next, then follow her and somehow un-do whatever it was she was trying to do. It was almost like we're playing "The Amazing Race" but the stakes could not have been higher for those who love classical music.

"But isn't the library the first place they'd go looking for us?"

"Of course, Cameron, but it's the only place we can go – there's no other Time-Device Room in the city," I said, "is there, Sebastian?"

"That would make it a lot easier if there were," he said, "but unfortunately, no, the technology is limited and not generally available because it can be very dangerous."

"Especially in the wrong hands." It occurred to me, even in the right hands, it could be very dangerous. One small glitch and you could easily alter the course of history.

We'd each given Xaq a big High-Five after his deft performance in the underhanded stink bomb toss, in lieu of what surely would've been a well-deserved gold medal. The look on the officer's face, seeing us in the hallway, was priceless enough: I only wish we could've seen him when he saw us disappear behind the cloud of smoke.

"But we really need to hurry – there won't be much time to solve any clues or figure out what else needs to be done. It's basically get in and get out," Sebastian said, urging us on.

"With any luck, they won't be there, waiting for us."

"Well, they do have air-transports and we're on foot," he reminded us.

"What?" I stopped dead in my tracks.

Air-transports were apparently low-flying car-like contraptions that could get them there in just three minutes. Considering we'd been jogging for around six minutes, Sebastian estimated we were maybe halfway there.

It was a miracle, by the time the library's dome loomed into sight, we weren't immediately engulfed by a tide of Harmonian policemen. Perhaps, Sebastian thought, I was overestimating either their abilities or our own importance. Really, he couldn't see any particular reason they'd go to such lengths to capture a small band of Trespassers who're suspected of nothing worse than supposedly killing another Trespasser.

"Yes, but," I tried to respond, catching my breath, "they did catch us in the Time-Device Room: wouldn't that tend to make them think we're up to something more sinister?"

"They probably just thought we'd found a really cool out-of-the-way place to hide." Xaq wasn't impressed by their abilities: their security certainly lacked anything commendable. “They're the kind of people that give Zipples a bad name."

"Zachary, that could come back to bite your butt, later," Zoe said, trying to stifle a laugh. "You'd better watch what you say."

"How did they know to find us there, anyway? The only person who could've known that was Klangfarben," Cameron said, "and she's a Trespasser, herself, right?"

"Her partner – I bet he's a resident," Sebastian answered.

"Maybe an insider, too – like, a bad cop," Xaq figured. "Probably not a Zipple, though."

"No, Xaq, he definitely didn't look like a Zipple..."

"And what do you think Zipples look like? They don't have visible physical characteristics – more an attitude thing," Sebastian explained.

With that, we'd arrived at the door we'd used earlier but this time, it was locked.

Near the loading dock in the back, I noticed a small open window, barely big enough for Sebastian or me to crawl through. Unfortunately, it looked more like a trap than a good idea. True, there were no air-transports parked nearby, but only a Zipple, Xaq said, would park them out in the open.

(He apparently liked this new word, something he could apply regardless to any unsuspecting maladroit who crossed his path.)

Sebastian tried another door but it was also locked. Given the time, we opted for the window, so Cameron led the way.

"I hope this time we're going to take the elevator down to the Time-Device Room, Sebastian?" It had been one of those "D'oh!" Moments when I thought Smighley and the police would be marching us up miles of corridors and, lo and behold, instead they placed us in an elevator not far from the bottom of the spiraling rampway.

"Oh, that... yes, well, I forgot, sorry – one of those things, when you're out of the habit of hurrying, you tend to forget when you need to hurry." We've been walking miles across the city or running through back streets to avoid the police, and I wondered if there might have been some get-away-transport we could have been using.

"But if there's been a security breach and an elevator's moving, isn't it logical they'd stop the elevator?" Cameron asked. "Maybe it's better to take the ramp..."

The rest of us thought a moment and said, "Elevator."

"Another of the many things I don't understand, Sebastian," I offered as we descended deeper into the basement levels, "is, why are we the ones running from the police and Klangfarben is collaborating with them?"

"That would be a tricky one. I don't think the police are doing it knowingly," he said, "but they'd be unable to help us."

Xaq snorted. "You think they could catch her? And if they did, do you think they could actually keep her?"

"Will the police," I wondered, "be waiting for us when the elevator doors open."

"Oh, hey..."

"You can only use a Time-Device four times before it needs to be refurbished," Sebastian explained. "Klangfarben can't sign them both out because the system doesn't allow it, though her partner could easily have done that. On the other hand, if Smighley confiscates it, it's all over: it will be the end of classical music as we know it!"

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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.
© 2012

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