Monday, June 04, 2012

The Doomsday Symphony: Chapter 33

In the previous installment of The Doomsday Symphony, the orchestra rehearsal for the premiere of Beethoven's new symphony was about to get underway. Meanwhile, Sebastian leads his guests back to find the Time-Devices, hopefully in time to thwart Klangfarben's next attack.

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Chapter 33 
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"But even if there were another library branch with Time-Devices in it," Sebastian argued, "we'd still need to find out where Klangfarben is going. We can't just jump into the ether and expect to land there automatically!"

"Alright, alright, I was just sayin'..." The argument made sense to me: I just wasn't particularly interested in running into Smighley and his policemen again.

Fortunately, when the elevator doors opened, no one stood there waiting for us, no one was lurking down the hall and, more importantly, the door to the Device Room was not far away.

No one said anything about the police waiting for us inside the Device Room – or for that matter, Klangfarben and her mysterious friend. Speed was their priority, "getting the job done," not waiting around for us.

We tiptoed down the hall, no one making a noise (except for the "Mission: Impossible" theme weaving its worm-like way through my brain).

Klangfarben and Friend probably assumed we were still locked up in jail: wasn't that what the police were for, keeping the unwanted element off the streets? On the other hand, considering there was no reason for Smighley to suspect our involvement with the time-traveling units, perhaps it wasn't such an obvious assumption we'd make that bee-line for the library.

Sebastian motioned for us to wait as we approached the door. I was making a conscious effort to turn down the volume on my inner iPod when I heard the muffled voices coming from inside the room.

It was difficult to hear clearly. It didn't surprise me the room wasn't better sound-proofed, having run into miscalculations like that before (despite what architects liked to tell you) but if we couldn't hear what they were saying, it was enough to notice the presence of voices. One was a woman's voice – that meant it probably wasn't the police.

The voices stopped and we could see through the door a faint flash of light.

"Wow, what was that?" Xaq whispered.

Sebastian thought that meant they'd left: it was the same kind of flash they'd seen inside the room when I'd left the first time, only not as bright.

"But through the door?"

"Light and matter work differently here – as, you've no doubt noticed, Time itself." Sebastian opened the door.

"Wait," I said, putting my hand on his arm. "You said we were only gone like a split second. Shouldn't they be back by now?"

"Oh, right." Sebastian stopped, frowning as he scanned around the room. "The energy of the light was probably stronger because, for us perceiving it – as you would not – it was both the flash of your leaving as well as the flash of your returning."

"They're not here," Zoe said. "Did they come back or not?"

"Perhaps there was some disturbance in the Time-Fabric, landing them somewhere else?" Sebastian led the way in.

"Somewhere else as in another part of the building or in another century altogether?" There were times I wish I had a gun.

They should've come back and they should be here – but they're not. This was both good news and bad news. If they didn't come back here, what did this hold in store for our own return?

"So, what do you think, Grandpa – any ideas?" Zoe was clearly worried, holding Xaq closer. "What was that you said about the Time-Fabric?"

"If Time is like a sheet stretched taut and something causes a ripple in it, it could have bounced them in another direction."

"As in down the hall or another part of town or maybe a different century," I repeated, rethinking that bit about the gun: would they even work on Harmonia-IV, or cause a ripple in the Time-Fabric...?

Cameron, checking the other rooms, didn't find that very reassuring.

"I think, though," Sebastian noted dolefully, "it's a rather moot point. Both time-devices are missing. It looks like they've taken them both."

The consoles were empty.

Screwed. That was the first word that came to mind: screwed.

Even though they had figured we were in police custody, they wanted to make sure we – or the police – would be unable to follow them.

"Wouldn't there be a back-up around here somewhere," Cameron wondered, "you know, just in case?"

"Justin Case – you're right. When I first heard about the time-traveling devices, here, I remember the librarian saying the units were dubbed Ralph and Betty – for Alpha and Beta," Sebastian explained. "But he also mentioned Justin Case, a back-up unit they held in reserve."

Cameron started pressing different parts of the main console without luck.

"Wouldn't it be more logical, for security reasons, to keep it somewhere else completely?"

"These people don't know the meaning of the word 'security,'" Xaq sighed.

I pointed to the cubbyhole behind the sign-out book. "If a librarian sits behind that counter – it might be back there somewhere."

We piled into the little space and began to search, not knowing what we were looking for.

"Not under the desk."

"Not on the shelf."

"Maybe it's in the chief librarian's office?"

"Found it," I said, pointing matter-of-factly. "Bottom drawer, file cabinet."

Sebastian examined it quickly and was pleased to announce it was indeed charged and ready to go.

Zoe, checking the sign-out log, announced, "looks like they’re going back to May 9th, but there's no year or place. Cameron, check the console for another clue?"

"Yep," he said, handing me the note-pad. "Here's another limerick."

To leave chinatown in due season,
Afraid he’d be soon charged with treason,
     He found himself drawn
     To take the next swan
When told that his assets, they’re freezin’.

“Not terribly clever,” I explained, pointing out Lohengrin travels by swan-boat; Wagner completed the opera in Dresden (home of fine china) before becoming distracted by the revolution in May, 1849.

Sebastian suggested Cameron should stay behind, leading Smighley on a wild goose chase. When Xaq volunteered to go on this mission, Zoe emphatically said no, reluctantly offering to go instead. Sulking, the boy was clearly disappointed.

But not half as much as his mother and I were. The idea of rescuing Wagner from a battlefield was more than I cared to deal with: who knew what Klangfarben might add to the mix?

Reaching out for Zoe's hand, I hit 'go.' ”See you guys in a sec--"

With a powerful blinding flash, we were off.

= = = = = = =

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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