Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Doomsday Symphony: Chapter 47

In the previous installment of The Doomsday Symphony, a bit of an interlude as the 3rd Movement of the novel began - Cameron's story, his family background and how he became friends with Zoe Crevecoeur and her son, Xaq. We return, now, to Harmonia-IV where our heroes prepare to travel back in time, courtesy of Sauerbraten's home-made Time-Device, except they can't figure out who it is they need to save. Perhaps they are too late?

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Chapter 47
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Two of the Time-Devices were recharging and therefore momentarily useless. Not knowing where the third unit went, they assumed Klangfarben must still have it, wasting it.

"So, she's already been and back," Sauerbraten admitted, trying to figure out their destination coordinates. Without both date and location, it would be impossible to go back to undo her newly revised past.

Together, he and Sebastian scoured the Time-Device room and the sign-out desk for any possible clues but they found nothing beyond the year, 1765 – not enough to go on. That could be anywhere and, worse, anybody.

Sebastian reached inside his pants’ pocket when he realized his Personnel Locater Disc had quietly begun vibrating. Sauerbraten chuckled that his friend was still using such old technology. "You know they use implant chips, these days?"

"But that means Zoe and TR are on the move, again – apparently, they're quite close! But how did they get out of jail?"

"It won't matter if we can't figure out where we're going. And if they're all heading this way, my time-phone can't handle – how many did you say there were? – six of us..." He was disappointed at the prospect of no joy-riding tonight. Still, just going back to 1765 could be a blast – Paris, maybe? He'd never been to Paris...

"We're not just going somewhere to go somewhere, Nepomuk. Since Klangfarben and Kedaver now have all the library's units under their control, we need this one to save one of our great composers – but who and where?"

There were two other problems that were only just now occurring to Sebastian. Since both main devices were recharging in their consoles, that meant they've already returned, so whoever it was they went back to eliminate would now have been eliminated. Then, not just a complication, he realized he had no idea where Klangfarben and her companion were now.

"Quick, Nepomuk, this was closer to your time and I was never very good with history." (Where was an annoying know-it-all when you needed one?) "Who would be some likely candidates for Klangfarben's plan in 1765?"

Nepomuk counted off Johann Christian Bach in London, more famous than anything his father ever was; Gluck was at his peak in Vienna; Telemann, past it in Hamburg; Gossec, Arne, Paisiello...

"No," Sebastian interrupted, "I mean the great composers!"

"Hey, they were great in my day!"

"Come on, it's our only chance to go back and stop Klangfarben before..."

"Before it's too late?"

Seeing his surprise as we walked in, I told Sebastian we could hear them from out in the hall. After a quick reunion, he introduced us to his enthusiastic young friend, Nepomuk.

"But we must hurry," Sebastian explained, filling us in on the details, particularly the bad news about the time-devices and lack of clues.

The good news, despite everything he had mentioned, was Nepomuk explaining he held a time-device of his own making, just a little different from the others. If it worked as well, then, we were in luck.

"Amazing how more of these things keep popping up," I said, turning to Sebastian who just shrugged his shoulders. The joy in his smile was unmistakable.

"It really is wonderful to see you again," Zoe said.

"You had me worried, all of you, stuck in that jail," he mumbled. "There was no way I could rescue you alone, so..."

"So he woke me up in the middle of the night, wanting to know what I knew about the Time-Travel Room here. Hey, it sounded like fun," Nepomuk laughed, "so what better way to spend a night than whizzing across time and space hoping to rescue some great composer from mayhem! Perhaps we should get going? Time is essential!"

"But if you say Klangfarben has already returned – both time-devices are recharging in their consoles," Cameron pointed out, "then she could be around here, waiting for us, right?"

"She probably thinks the trial's still going on."

"But she may discover that's not the case, soon enough," Sebastian explained. "However, that's another problem we may have to deal with, later. For now, it's enough we have no idea about the location or identity of her latest victim."

"There's this," I said, handing him the limerick we'd found in the courtroom. "Kedaver showed up hoping to deflect any suspicion about the Time-Device Room onto us, and when he left, he accidentally dropped this. It was probably stuck to his shoe."

"Ah, a limerick like they used to leave on the console, before. Wonderful."

Sebastian looked at it but his delight turned quickly to dismay. "Unfortunately, this makes no sense at all. Do you know who she's referring to?"

Strangely, it was like the name was on the tip of my tongue but it just wouldn't surface in the morass of trivia clogging up such a large part of my brain. "Got me..."

It was Sauerbraten who thought he knew.

"You see, when I was a child, I was like this totally amazing prodigy. I was composing when I was six and started performing in concerts at seven. My father was convinced there was a fortune to be made if he played his cards right and I managed to live long enough."

As he went on with his story, it sounded vaguely familiar, the talented child trotted around like a circus monkey, performing musical tricks for monetary rewards.

"There was something Dad always said: Don't die young like... like..."

"What did it sound like?" Zoe was trying to be helpful. "Two syllables, three?"

"Ah, now I remember – his name was Mozart – Something Something Mozart. Everybody always talked about him, how incredible he was. But too bad, he died young."

"Mozart? Never heard of him..."

"Yeah, he died when he was like nine or something, never had a chance."

Tapping the top of the console with my fingers, I mentioned, "if Klangfarben went back in time and altered history by affecting his life, he would never have become the great composer we so admire today."

"Then," Cameron followed through, "you're saying we've already forgotten him because, now, it's like he never really existed – not in that sense of becoming a 'Great Composer.' Wow, that doesn't give us much to go on."

"And there's nothing else in the sign-out book, right?"

"Nope, not a thing."

"Screwed, right?"

"Totally, dude," Sauerbraten said. "I am soooo bummed..."

"Xaq, what are you doing?" Zoe was concerned he was getting into trouble.

"Just checking out this computer, Mom. Hey, I think I just hacked into the codes!"

"You what?" Nepomuk glanced over his shoulder, totally impressed. "Awesome!"

"Screwed? Dude? Bummed? Awesome?" Sebastian was shaking his head, thoroughly confused.

"Nevermind, Grandpa," Zoe said, patting his shoulder, "we'll explain, later."

"Can you read anything that mentions a specific day or location?" We were all craning our necks trying to see what he'd found.

"Not in so many words – in fact, it's all numeric, but it's something."

Nepomuk explained when you entered a destination into the hand-held unit, it would automatically be transferred as a series of coded numbers and symbols into the Time-Device Room's computer which then releases the unit for use.

"Even if she tries to foil us by being vague signing it out, it's still in the computer?"

"Right – but there's a catch."

"I've heard that before," Zoe sighed.

"Let me guess," Cameron offered, "getting it from the computer into your version of the time-device?"

"Bingo," Nepomuk smiled, rooting around the desk, "but if I remember, there are some old memory sticks lying around here. If we can copy the code onto that and upload it through my bus-port, it should work..."

"Memory stick? Upload? Bus-port!?" Sebastian sounded even more perplexed.

"I'll explain it later, Grandpa, don't worry about it" Zoe chuckled, reassuringly patting his hand again. "It's all techno-lingo Xaq had to teach me not too long ago."

You would never know Sauerbraten grew up in the late-18th Century, judging from the way he dressed and how he worked his way around a computer. He looked no less contemporary than Xaq or Cameron, arguing why should he be stuck wearing breeches and a powdered wig for eternity just because that's what men wore when he was born? Finding out he was only fifteen years younger than Beethoven struck us as being totally surreal – not that our whole experience since arriving here, however we did that, hasn't been surreal enough already, but I digress.

There was a faint beep from a distance which made Nepomuk sit up: "Somebody's coming. They passed through a security gate upstairs. There's no way of knowing if they're coming here, but we'll need to hurry."

He found only one small memory stick but since it was a very small file he needed to transfer, everything should work fine.

Politely asking Xaq to slide off the chair, Nepomuk inserted the stick into the bus-port which on this model was located on the back panel of the tower unit. "These old desk-tops, really," he cursed under his breath, "totally impractical."

“They need to get some MACs,” Xaq said with annoying superiority.

“Pffft, MACs, please,” Nepomuk said dismissively, “so yesterday…”

He popped it in, highlighted the necessary text and pasted it into a text file which he then saved onto the memory stick. When it was done, he whipped it out of the port.

"Okay, showtime!"

Inserting it into the bottom of his ex-phone-now-time-device, he started punching buttons, entering codes and making adjustments. We were no less astounded than Sebastian was, watching him.

"It's cool, because on those old time-devices, you can't do this – this is a new option I've been bugging them about, but hey, like I said, not a major priority, right now..."

Since our visitors could be Klangfarben and Kedaver, maybe just discovering we'd escaped from the courthouse, Nepomuk, tapping away, suggested the others hide in the fourth-floor vault. He'd enter that as our return destination instead of making it a direct round-trip.

“That the M-to-Q Vault, three flights up?” Sebastian, checking out the hallway, motioned that the coast was clear.

Nepomuk nodded then pumped his fist as the code transferred perfectly.

"You guys still have your PLDs?" Sebastian nodded back and ushered the others toward the ramp.

"Well, Dr. Kerr? Shall we go?"

And we did.

= = = = = = =

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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