Chapter 56 A Most Familiar Surprising Guest
"Mush, Tammster, mush! I spy with my sexy wounded eyes a little something called the Opera, o' hooded one."
"Get off him, for Christ's sakes," Bella snapped quietly. "People are not only staring in fear."
Chimabell gave his brother a sour look followed by a childish whine, "My god, you are one jealous turkey! Surprised your eyes aren't glowing green already. Because, brother beloved, you do know that I could fetch you a Tammy of your own. All you have to do is ask your lord and master right here. Really, it's alright to speak up every once in a blue moon than get pissed about something you regret not saying."
The mayor spoke of Tammy like he was an item; like sucking the souls out of people and turning them into mindless slaves was but a factory hobby. It did not help that he was riding piggyback on the mute Doll too. That was just wrong.
Freaks - on the top and lower levels of the district - turned their faces away from their rulers, shrunk in their presence like cowardly worms or glared hatefully out the corner of their eyes'. Silent warnings were apparent what with the rows of vultures groaning in creaks along rails and lanterns and Dolls strutting in pairs along the sidelines as if voicelessly saying to every citizen around "The tyrants are out in the open, nice and exposed. We dare you to do something stupid now. Just you try." Immortality was not very well liked in the veiny, slippery hands of the politicians, but all the freaks could do was shut up, clear the way, and do nothing.
Story of Decembersville city.
Though the mayor took notice of it all, how many faces stared at them in fear. It did not make his jolly alligator grin wilt but something stopped him from saying anything in response to it all. It was the usual feeling he had when there was rare face-to-face contact with the public. He knew it was nothing to cause a ruckus over, but one of the biggest things he despised about being the mayor was the smorgasbord of stares he would get; stares of wonder were honky dory but emotionless gray ones were rather lung-tightening to him. Like he was the only target they had, like the one kid in class everyone glared at strangely; the freak in a city of freaks that was looked at like a freak. It's not like he asked for the job. If he'd had known he'd be so hated then he would have never taken up a certain offer from a certain someone.
The bell-eared lout chuckled and whispered down at Tammy, grinning madly but with a teaspoon of what sounded like loneliness, "It's like I'm gonna bite someone or something. Admit that it is a little funny."
When he could have moaned instead Tammy kept quiet, a sign of understanding. Good old Tammy three days and about four hours old was truly special in more ways than one. It made him someone, almost, not just a Doll.
So the trio reached the Opera House fine and dandy. Goodness, they were late, but the concern was not for the party or the show (that they usually dozed off to anyway) or even the fact that it was their obligations as public officials to attend; they were going because the Moonsick's were attending and if the brother's lied around their home a moment longer then the manor would only close in on them more. Everything was a tad more suffocating than usual with their sister missing, as hard as it was to admit. Not that they missed her, but if you've lived together for over thirty years then the slightest dent could twist up a few things. Even the crowds suddenly looked different to the brothers in Campara's absence. The eldest vulture wanted his sister back, the youngest did not know whether it was him missing her or simply wanting things to be back to the way they were beforehand; change scared this man. Everything that has ever changed in his lifetime only took him a few steps down below.
Once they and Tammy arrived to skip ahead of the commonfolk then they were not given faces of reverence but of confusion; like realization ht every freak at once that they were experiencing déjà vu or something or other.
"Yodele-hi there, idiot slave of mine!" Chimabell squealed in all his casual enthusiasm to the Doll guard. The Doll barely moved.
Bella made it to the top of the steps and made a brooding sigh. He said "Ten to an hour late. Such bad manners, yeah, but the point is that we are here now."
The Doll did nothing.
Chimabell slid off Tammy's back and meanly shoved the lanky servant aside, bringing his hand up to the guard's face and waving it side to side, eyes squinted so that his grimy pupils could focus. "Hey. Is it broken?"
"Go on inside," the Doll said bluntly.
The brothers exchanged puzzled faces between each other, Tammy doing the same as if he was just as confused as they were. Again, something was thrown off course and they had no idea who or what to blame. Hell, the past few days have been nothing but an oddity to them.
Bella pointed a weak talon at the entrance corridor and asked suspiciously "By 'go on inside' do you mean to just
Chimabell made the same expression, asking "We renewed the security pass
thingy or whatever for this year, right? To keep out fraud?"
The Doll's masked face met the flaky palm of its hand and so it said tiredly "My lords, have mercy and just go inside. Nothing is required, we all
weallknowwhoyouare please just go."
The brothers looked at each other again. The mayor said awkwardly "Uh
yeah, sure thing," then muttered to Bella "Moonsick's must'ave saved us the trouble 'cause I'm just that fantastical."
So the mayor's crooked beam popped up in an instant and his jazz hands danced with the cool air, eyes now directed at the crowd of freaks waiting to go inside. He squealed annoyingly "We hope you enjoy the Opera, liversnaps! If not then we'd be happy to beat the fun into younah, I'm kidding, I'm kidding, so quit taking me so seriously."
The glares suspended as their ruler joked because they all had the feeling in their guts that he'd do such a thing because he knew he could do it; as if anyone forgot about Zero that early morning.
Bella could not help but scowl, "Chima, they are waiting."
So the littlest brother whistled "A toodles to the bunch of ya's! We are heading off to salsa!" He hopped into Tammy's arms like a little princess and the trio finally went on in.
The Doll guard just stood there, hand still to its face. "I am so fired."
Meanwhile, how the other fools are doing
Mellon and Tin were in trouble, quite obviously.
The gold doors of the round elevator slid shut, trapping our heroes in a giant vermillion dome with two legal murderers pointing their guns right at them, ready to either interrogate or do their bloody work. Mellon stood upright, leering darkly at the officers across from them, hands finally settled down; Tin's raw shock was stuck on his face for the last eight minutes since they have been caught.
A Doll spoke, its gender-less voice steady, "You thought you could get away with it, Melloni Collie. But you were in trouble the second you presented yourself out there. You and your sunny friend."
Tin gulped, shivering all over. Mellon was still and quiet.
"Really," said the other officer, "you two absolutely suck at this." There was a surprising edge in its tone and the dog caught it.
One of the gangster's floppy ears rose up into visibility. He tilted his head in suspicion saying "One o' ya is taller than the other. And why are you trying to change your voice?"
The Dolls were quiet for a moment then responded unevenly "Are we really that obvious, too?"
Mellon moved freely and threw his hands up "Oh, so we are not the only ones who suck after all, then. Your outfits are barely even right!"
"Aw, touché!" a Doll laughed unnaturally. "And we were about to have a little fun here."
The masks were easily removed as were the black hoods, revealing actual smiling faces underneath them, made of flesh and bone eccentric in appearance but harmless at a first look one freak being a common frost color, the other a vile lime green; a young man and woman.
"Damn it, guys!" Mellon snapped, taking a few steps forward. "Did Wonka send you to piss us off!?"
The young lady gave him a sarcastic look; her almond-shaped eyes a glimmering black much like a spider, her fair-cropped hair a venomous violet that came off dark unless a flicker of light showed off the lovely color. She spoke, her small lips hiding rows of needle-like teeth, "On the contrary, he only sent us and a few others to help Darkchovi out in finding Sophia but instead we happened to find you morons." She moved slowly yet fluidly, like every move was planned. Tipping the gangster's chin, she chuckled "Honestly, you both look god awful and I am not complimenting that. You are lucky to have gotten here."
The elevator doors opened and people were outside waiting. The spider-ish freak closed the doors and none entered.
"Oy, Anna," her partner said aloud. Encircling Tin like a slippery stalked, his slimy tongue licked at the air as he shot his companion his ghastly snake eyes, "I think Lily Sunshine fainted standing up. And I'm being serious, though his eyes are open and everything." His tongue pointlessly moved the dark bangs out of his eyes, only for them to slip into place again. "Want I should wake him up?"
"Be gentle, Buttercup."
The snake freak grinned, "With pleasure, love."
Anna looked at Melloni again and he seemed far from impressed with Tin's little moment. She said "So, 'Mr. Mayor', from the looks of it you do not have the kid so I'll ask instead: where is your chew toy Zero?"
"He's fine. Stick around and you'll be seeing him soon aw, dammit!" he shouted and turned, hand to his forehead. He realized something pretty big. "That stupid kid, he better not be doing anything wild out there or we are both so screwed!"
Buttercup was wiggling his tongue at Tin's frozen cheek when he made a questioning hum, "What'd the mutt say?"
Mellon made a frustrated growl and hammered his fist against his forehead lightly, "Freaking blood, dude. I gave Z some swell moon fluid to hold onto for just-in-case stuff. I doubt that he could remember that"
"That it's explosive and will BLOW HIM TO BITS, PERHAPS?" Anna exclaimed. "Are you stupid!? If he so much as trips then he's confetti and Wonka will eat you alive! There is a reason that the stuff is illegal, Melloni!"
"Fall and 'splode. Ha-cha-cha, what a way to go," said the snake-like freak Buttercup, who was now playing with Tin's hair. "Where did you leave the poor kid? Could we pick 'im up?"
The dog groaned "No way, man. He was led elsewhere by your neighborly albino creep factor Steven. Said he would sneak Z in here safely though we have yet to find him."
"'Steven'? Steven who?" asked Anna, her head tilting slowly, slit eyes narrowed to thin diamonds.
Mellon answered straight "Steven. Tall, white hair, heart glasses, gay to the max? He's the reason we're here. Mentioned that Wonka sent him to help us out."
Confounded glances were traded between the young rebels. Buttercup made a shrug (as he was now playing with Tin's batty ears, top hat flung off), making the luxurious atmosphere rather unsettling. The snake freak mumbled, "Sounds dreamy. But what's this Steven guy all about?"
Now, over to where the poor (innocent shred of unfortunate affairs) Zero is
Nowhere in the Opera House was safe for Zero to be but it would have been considered lucky where he ended up popping his head. Sliding his thin metal hands through the door slot, he cheated the lock and carefully took a peek outside the door of the props closet where the Meowsician dropped him off at. There was music and chatter echoing from up ahead as it turned out Zero was on one of the high corridor levels of the Opera House; only the corridor was bare empty, even its floors lacking red carpeting and the chandeliers above dead and filled with webs. Of course, it must have been a closed-off floor. That was understandable for the walls were filled with stains and cracks; the open corridor in great disrepair. It was most likely only used for its storage of props and nothing else, which was a shame because with a bit of repair then it could have served for more space.
Zero's heart was hammering wildly in his chest out of his anxiety. Being alone during a break-in while on a wild search was not one of his favorite activities, which made him mumble exhaustedly to himself "Sophia, why are you doing this to me? I've been nice, haven't I? I've been tolerant, so why not just stay put?"
The corridor joined another up ahead that encircled the lobby of the Opera House along with the layers beneath it, so there was plenty of move-around space. It was like a risky sanctuary.
There was not much for Zero to gaze around at yet he was still so terribly cautious, scared out of his wits about bumping into someone less than acceptable or of vultures that may have been hiding in the shadows; everyone in the city knew that those beasts played great surveillance. Taking a deep breath, Zero shivered with every step he took towards the balcony rim, getting closer to the light and music. He made it just fine and looked over the railing carefully at the world of color and amusement below. He could not help but smile a little at the jolliness going around for it was a nice change of view from the misery he has been exposed to over the last bunch of hours.
Eyes scanned the lobby from high above. His pupils searched and searched the entire arena in hopes of catching a glimpse of Mellon or Tin, but he was not as confident for he was unsure about where they could have entered from or whether they have made it in already; it would have been difficult to catch them anyway due to the fact that they would have blended in quite nicely with the crowd. "Come on, guys, come on
" he found himself whispering anxiously, trying to find them. He looked towards the treat tables.
Then he took a gander over at the auditorium entrances.
Not at all.
Next his eyes took a quick look at the building entrance.
No, just the mayor and his brother coming in.
"OH, JEEZ!" Zero squealed, instantly ducking from sight and crouching right before the wallish ledge of the corridor balcony, panting like mad. He reiterated "no, no, no" to himself praying that the mayor did not catch a glimpse of him and the greater wish that he would not be caught that night. That man scared the hell out of the little freak and he was not too inclined to have another near-death experience. For god's sakes, he was just there to find his friend and that's it. He did not wish for more trouble (which was what he was going to get, by the way; as if you should be surprised).
Zero took a gulp, slowly bringing himself up to look over the balcony ledge again. He saw the mayor and his brother there from so high up, totally oblivious to the kid. He saw Tammy there as well, sulking hauntingly like the bloodless vessel he was. Except the second Zero laid eyes on the Doll servant then Tammy immediately shot his head upwards to stare at the freak.
Zero's heart went dry and he threw himself down again, terrified about whether Tammy saw him or not; if he did then he was screwed. That is it! The feeling was kicking in gradually. He saw me, he kept repeating to himself. He totally saw me, he's going to tell them that I am here. The boy gulped again, struggling up to get a show on the road. I have got to move quick before
Now Zero went dizzy, every ounce of worry that he had vanished in but a second and he swaggered side to side, fumbling backwards with the weight of his hands swinging him around like a drunk.
"Look at those huge shining anime eyes. You were born for the camera, kid."
That voice was terribly familiar to the freak yet he could not put a specific guess on it. Zero mumbled and fell back on his tuckus, trying to clear his vision. There was someone there with him that was hard to make out but then came another huge flash that stunned him. The person was talking terribly fast and rather annoyingly yet Zero had trouble making it out.
"You are breaking my heart! You are giving me the look of a gothic maid in distress!" Another flash. "Your face was made for sad calendars and that is the honest-to-momma truth." A third flash. "Oh my, you just seem to be in more anguish as each photo is snapped! You've been born out the belly of a kicked puppy dog." In came another blasted flash. "With crippled kittens on the side!"
All the blinding flashes made Zero's eyes burn and his mind spin, tilting here and there on weight. "Ohhh man
" he gurgled to himself, "I think I'm going to be sick." It took him a while to take notice that he was now lying on his back for he could see the fuzzy picture of a shadowy person standing right over him now; he could barely make him out, but there was a small glimmer of cerulean light marking a place where the guy's eye must have been. Who was this dude?
The person squatted down over Zero and his head tilted, his fast-talking voice now more energetically concerned than over-enthusiastic, "If you are feeling sick then it'd be delectable if you threw up over the side. There's been one too many cases in which I've checked a fella' who drowned throwing up lying down and it is never a sad sight but a hilarious one, which is just as sad." The voice sounded strange, like it was someone talking through an old walkie-talkie or a radio. "Hang in there, kid." The stranger yanked Zero up by his wrists and helped him maintain balance. "Got to say that you are heavier than you look."
The ax-handed boy shook his heavy head and brought his exhausted eyes up to look into the stranger's. He did not know him at all, apparently, but that voice of his was just way too familiar to let go.
Letting out a small cough and a couple of blinks, Zero asked gently without malice (knowing that the entire blinding sequence was unintentional), "E-excuse
me excuse me, sir? Uh
uh, wait." He rubbed his eyes with his arm in embarrassment. "Sorry. Uh, excuse me? Do I
know you at all?"
The stranger made a huge smile that was easy to melt hearts with and said in nonchalant giddiness "Listen to the radio much?"
radio? Oh wait! Then you are"
"That is I!" the freak chuckled. He poked the top of Zero's head going "And you, my boy, are in the wrong place what with you being a criminal and all. I highly suggest you stick around right here in this specific isle considering the mayor's floor is right under you."
It was easy for Zero to trust the man for reasons that shall be explained soon, yet he automatically questioned "You are not going to turn me in or anything, are you?"
"Depends. How old are you?"
"S-seventeen years of age."
"Then nope! A kid in trouble is too common to spark interest in this media. You had your share this morning and Mary strike me down if I were to turn in an innocent like you due to
" (he shudders and rasps) "
political mendacity." He shoved Zero a bit. "It's the Opera! We are here to live a little!" With a laugh, the freak pulled Zero into a should-to-shoulder embrace and squeaked "Now smile for Mr. Kodak!"
"Thank yoouuu!" said he, pushing a dizzied Zero aside and skipping off. By the time Zero's vision cleared up then the man was gone.
Back to subplot fifty-five in the Grand Auditorium
The auditorium was so immense that it was questionable how much space the building had for it exactly; on the outside the Opera House was huge, yes, but the auditorium could have pretty much been a giant building on its own due to its tremendous size. The opera chamber was a glorious circular theater hall that lacked any ounce of light but from the magnificent stage itself that stood open before the audience. There were layers of metallic black seats glimmering from the reflective stage lights, the horizontal aisles subtly rounded about yet with the seats still facing the stage directly. The lack of lights in the audience made the theater into a sea of shimmering blackness, as if the entire chamber was made of dark gloss. The area as a whole was dome-shaped, so the walls were reaching up high and almost caving into the people before them; naturally red walls were dyed violet in the light of the place.
Red for a reason, yes, but let's leave that for later on.
There were intros to the area surrounding the base of the walls eight dark channels, big and round, each separated by a few feet where freaks would enter quietly to take their seats wherever they desired; there would always be just enough space for everyone because, although the auditorium always had a seemingly full house, people came and went every now and then due to the play itself being optional for viewing because the Decembersville Opera was not exactly an opera but more of a glamorous party, it was a-okay to come and go as one pleased although once they entered the auditorium then it was in the best interest to stick around.
The stage was a totally different story than the auditorium. It was not as tremendous as the viewing area was but it was most definitely a huge theater that brought others to shame. The stage was exposed and rounded about, reaching up high and ending at the ceiling itself, leaving space for so much detail and lighting to take over as well as a vast amount of space to move about. The curtains were long and moved to the sides of the stage, suspended by a horizontal row of dimly-lit chandeliers that floated about, ready to move when directed in order to open up more legroom for the stage. The base of the acting zone was a rounded isle with a silver rim, a wild collection of miniature gears working the gizmos beneath the floorboards in order to tilt and rotate the stage itself for scene changes as well as special effects. Bulbs, trinkets, and set designs were balanced on web-thin strings of platinum that dangled them from the ceilings and jutted upward from the stage itself to suspend the details in mid-air, able to work like puppet mechanisms in order to move the treasures around.
It was just magic. The theater was total magic.
But there are some folks out there that failed to enjoy the show, whether it was out of their lack of appreciation or the boredom of experience; in this case, the aristocrats that loomed over their audience from high above, right on the left wall of the auditorium.
"Look at them. They remind me so much of insects, drawn to the light. Those bulging eyes, those stupid faces," said Emily Moonsick, her jeweled eye mask glistening before the stage's tremendous lighting. "It's usual for ones such as ourselves to enjoy this, but you had to ruin it all with your lack of charisma, von Pyre."
Bella rolled his eyes, taking a sip of his wormy rum, "Just enjoy the show then you may complain about Chima's hangover. Why blame me anyway? I didn't shove the shit down his throat or anything."
"He's a deranged idiot and you had the gall to get here late Emmy, get that out of your mouth." The little Moonsick sister was chewing on her porcelain plate, the ridges punctured with teeth marks and the utensils on the crimson floor along with a few instances of cake crumbs. It was usual for the little munchkin oddity to act surrealistically (like chewing on plates rather than edibles, for instance). The older sister looked over the ridge of the booth and sighed at the colorful show going on, "I must say that the set is quite extravagant. More complicated than the years beforehand."
"BOOOORRRIIIIINNNNNG-UH!" the mayor whined loudly, the top half of his body hung over the booth crest like he was more than ready to throw up (again) into a crowd of onlookers. "Bella-wella, you should have killed me whenever you had the chance. My wounds are opening here."
Emily raised a brow, "You mean your eyes?"
"Aw no, your healing worked like a charm and I thank ya for that. By 'wounds' I refer to my damaged ego and aching for fun fancy here."
Bella made a harsh sigh, his eyes almost cutting from the veins and rolling back completely, "We got here late. What more are you asking for? Just shut up and enjoy the ride."
"You don't even have to pay attention to it. Just watch the damn show."
"Then drop dead!"
Bella's usual outburst could have distracted many from the show, their eyes settled on their rulers above, but an enchanted barrier (brought to them by the redheaded mistresses, of course) kept every detail of their conversation deaf to the audience's ears. Politics, secretive as always.
A curtain call was made and a round of applause was at hand. The ceiling caved in slowly, rings of the curtains sliding around the stage and covering it up in their splendid color; a mass of floating chandeliers dancing a careful ballet from so high up, their flames illuminating on the highest corridor, covered over with stained glass.
How that glass, after so many dreadful years, shimmered before a flame so cleanly was a mystery that died under bored wonder.
The elder von Pyre motioned at Tammy, who just stood aside in the booth, to fetch him some more worm rum. He handed the glass over and grumbled coldly "Red scotch, meat ice." The servant made a sad bow and soundlessly walked out of the booth and into the red corridors, turning a corner and heading to the foyer. The vulture made a last minute threat and shouted "Not to be confused with blood!" He achieved no answer. "If he brings me any of that vampire-mosquito freak juice then I'll break that mask of his open."
Suddenly a voice entered the scene going "Scarborough is too quiet tonight but at least it's still standing!" Every aristocrat in the booth turned around to take a gander at the entrance of their little royal spot.
Emily Moonsick spoke up.
"Ah. Talkie Lovzit, at last."
In entered the newscaster with a hop in his step and a sweet smile on his face.
Talkie Lovzit has been a resident of Decembersville longer than anyone was able to remember, which raised the question about his age (considering whether he could actually age or not); the svelte man seemed to be trapped forever in his late thirties, how he kept the smile and energetic kindness that youth offered along with the appearance of a to-the-point adult, but only in face shape and his healthy height. Otherwise he looked like an aristocratic clown, how his strands of hair stuck up wild with the same purple color as his thin lips; his teeth a bright yellow and crooked here and there; his skin the same cold, poreless, pearly white as the grand majority of Decembersville's citizens due to the weather; glimmering emerald powder encircling his baggy yet jolly eye, but only his left one.
Lovzit lacked a right eye, as it only came out as a tiny glistening blue circle lit up and trapped behind the glass of a horrid mechanical eye-guard of sorts; a long metal strap stapled gruesomely from the top of his forehead past his right eye to the flesh on the side of his head, a great metal circle covering the eye in the center of the strap to leave only a shimmer of blue light coming from it. It was obvious that the eye cast was there for a while due to the rancid, scabby, abused flesh that subtly poked out from beneath its ridges as if the mechanism was so tight that it cut the skin and was never removed again.
But he was still a joy to look at, believe it or not.
The strange man made a little bow, keeping his face up so the massive item on his head would not become a bother to anyone in front of him. He took Emily Moonsick's hand in his and kissed it happily, saying in his radio-like tone "Good evening, royals and royalties on the opera floor who give me the pleasure of handing a good evening to. And how are we doing today?"
Chimabell made a surprisingly calm smile and uttered "Yo, Talkie. It's been a millennia."
"A mere month since last personal encounter, to be exact," said the radio man with his high tone of optimism. He twiddled his bony fingers until Emmy brought him into the balcony completely, pulling him by the ruffled sleeve with a demented smile that begged him not to be shy.
The cerulean dot shone from beneath the confines of its prison like a firefly; always so distracting to stare at whenever a conversation was made with the freak. Perhaps that was the cause for his lack of companionship? It was easy to think so, what with how that trapped eye of his opened such crusty wounds on the public; old yet new and gushy wounds that none took pride in but were forced to expose.
Hell, Decembersville itself was an open wound and Lovzit was a fine example of remembrance. His fame never covered corrupted nostalgia and the fact that he got along so well with the vultures sealed his social status, like a voice that was easy to trust but easier to despise.
"Well, what have I missed? Anything tremendous played just yet?" asked the newscaster jauntily, eyeing the brilliant stage of razzles and dazzles.
"Sadly no," Chimabell said, followed by a yawn and a groggy tone. "Just, you know, the same awesome boredom that everyone seems attracted to for some reason. According to the list
thing or whatever there are about
shoot me to hell, are we seriously staying for the rest of the shows!? We'll be here all night, man!" he whined loudly at Bella, who just rolled his eyes and grit his fangs to fly over to his happy place where little brothers never roamed. "For god's sakes, I mean UGH, mayeth this dome of cabareting boredom be my coffin."
"It is rather funny that you bring that up," said the eldest Moonsick, turning her head to Lovzit. "Any thoughts on Razz Matazz's death, Lovzit?"
"Would you hang me if I spoke freely?"
"Your dues have already been paid so just say what you want to say."
All eyes besides the mayor's were on the newscaster as he spoke, though beneath his exhausted expression Chimabell was listening intently with strong focus.
"I find it incredibly suspicious, lords and ladies of the choir, and this is coming from someone who has been around for a while." He took a sit on the ledge of the balcony and whistled with a fruity face, "First with the death of the apparent Darkslaw who was coming in lately, Razz Matazz decides to hit the bricks. That is a huge conspiracy right there with the connections and all. Am I right or am I off course here?"
"You are correct but that's already been taken to mind. At least lately it has but the public seems pretty doe-eyed about the situation."
"In back of closed faces, sure, but for all we know they are fretting about the end of the world due to this little travesty."
Bella made a face of discomfort but said nothing just as his little brother was doing. Of course, not even their close ally Lovzit knew of the puppetry going on behind political curtains.
"And it is also really sad because oy, that Matazz was a sweet creep! Interviewed him during happy hour about three years back and it was the BEST NIGHT OF MY LIFE. Refused to mention certain notes, though, even when high as helium."
"No kidding," Chimabell mumbled, sharper than how he intended to sound. "Even momma time has trouble forgetting about that weirdo's little personal screw-up."
Bella turned and said gruffly "Once upon a time and six years ago. Does that ring a damn bell?" Chimabell flicked at one of his ears to add to the unintended pun, but the rubber clappers got it to make a dull sound so he winded up sighing pathetically. Kudos to him, at least. "That Emcee Razz Matazz
never ever was a good cause for this city. Always stood up for the wrong reasons."
"Nobody said he was a freaktriotic nut."
"Then he should never have pulled his own strings in court that night."
The newscaster made a face as though someone snapped his dreams in two upon remembering something pretty nasty mentioned, "Riiiight, my lord, right; bulbs in my noggin are all the flicker." His smile returned in an instant. "Think Darkchovi or Wiley are next?"
Emily Moonsick played with her glass chalice and said silkily "The Darkchovi boy could be next but I am not confident about it. Every citizen knows of the grudge between him and his family. He even lives alone, not under the care of his relative."
"Everyone is aware of that," said Bella, "because his uncle is a goddamn crazy rebel. He's always been bitter to that anchovy kid anyway, so he could be safe because
you know, he has got nothing to do with anything besides the blood relationship. What do you think, Chima?"
The mayor was silent for a while followed by a kiddish shrug.
"You are his adoptee, no matter how you two don't have it going." He looked at the Moonsick's, "The kid got disowned then this freak here filled in the name."
"Signing an adoption thing doesn't make me a damn parent to anyone, Bella-wella. God knows that if I ever bother having kids they'll wind up pushing me from a third-story window. You should know that." He massaged his eyes. "Yup, you should know that more than anyone, li'l princess. I like my life."
All the aristocrats went silent followed by a few sighs, their eyes on the beautiful show going on before them, including the newscaster's (who seemed rather blank). He brought a thin hand up and made a gun gesture with it, his thumb extended upwards. Then it stretched up high and hardened, a slither of tiny bones trying to break out the skin of his fingers and his nail curling up then wrapping around itself, pores sinking in to create holes and harden. Talkie said through the microphone "Kind of awkward, don't you think?"
Speaking of awkward, the group all responded at once in flat tones "I'll say." Then the mayor's head flung forward and slammed into the surface of the balcony wall, completely conking out and taking a rather spontaneous slumber that made Bella look like he was more than ready to make sure he stayed asleep and the world would have a happily ever after.
Time came and went, shows came in and out, citizens watched gleefully, the lights flickered and toiled, the stained glass shone every now and then when the floating chandeliers took a glide past them, and Bella finally got his red scotch. Lovzit made a few adieus, always returning to their booth with his kind grin and energy with some news recorded about the opera, readying it every now and again for some juice to feed the radio stations.
It was nothing too huge.
One of the shows came to a close and a rich choir of applause took over the colossal space again, Lovzit joining them only to get pretty bitter eyes from the higher-ups to shut him up (except for Tammy but nobody cared about what he thought). "Who is next?" little Emmy asked curiously.
Bella fussed with the layered Opera program, eyes on the inky words that spelled out a huge list of both normal and fantastical names and titles of shows. It was frustrating to find considering he himself was not paying much attention to the show that occurred and ended just now.
"Hey, Chima," Bella nudged at. Nope. The mayor was already dreaming. As much as he wanted to slam his fist into the back of his brother's neck, Bella resisted with all his strength and whispered to Lovzit "Any clue what just happened?"
" said the newscaster, flipping his own program open and humming happily as he skimmed "Weee
'Vultures of Malice'."
Bella rolled his eyes and cursed "Figures."
"And next is 'Webs A'Plenty', performed by Anna the literal widow."
"Who titles this shit?"
"You guys do."
"I was afraid of that."
The curtains were closed and the claps went on, the lights still dim and the cheers echoing all around as if it would never end or the onlookers were purposely suspending the night.
Lovzit was unable to hold his words in, so he whispered tightly through a big grin, some static trailing his radio voice, "Pretty dark, don't you think?"
Bella quirked an eyebrow.
"Scarborough is cheering right in the palm of Death's hand." His eyes were directly on the big red curtains that covered the terrific, rounded stage, the shadows on them casted in wisps of dark vermillion that featured hidden regret. "And the funny part is that they seem to have forgotten where they stand."
" Bella responded grimly, eyes scanning the beautiful world of ruby and cheer, "
Seem to have."
SHAW! The auditorium fell black!
A wave of gasps and chatter took place in an instant once all the browns, all the reds, all the golds and lights have shut off completely, all at once, plummeting the theater into thick obscurity (save for a few glimmers of lit eyes and features in the crowd, though not even their illumination could find the closest neighbor). Bella's own gold eyes shone dimly in the blackness as did Lovzit's small dotted pupil, the Moonsicks' eyes instantly going red as if the dark bid hello to the monsters beneath the skin.
"Wow! It was not my fault this time!" Lovzit giggled happily.
Emily was heard asking "Then what is this?" to which Bella responded bitterly "You tell me! Think some rogue in the crowd set the lights off?"
The chatters in the crowd became scattered laughter and cheer, just to literally lighten the mood and because some just found it funny; others already gossiping in question as to what went on; even more passing the word that it was a part of the show. Only a mere handful whispered Sophia's name.
"Is it only the auditorium or the whole build"
"The whole building, Lord Bella. I just got the word," said the newscaster followed by a few sparks leaving his mouth.
"For the love of. Hey, Chima, you have to calm the ifyouarestillsleepingthenIsweartoGod"
"He's still asleep, my lord."
"I'LL KILL HIM!" (He meant it. He was feeling around for him and everything.)
"Who turned off the lights?" Emmy squealed, adding to the chaos and noise going around in such tight darkness.
A moment that felt like forever has passed and the crowd below was becoming more and more restless with their wonderings to the point that Lovzit had to break the sound barrier of the mayor's lot and announce to all through his finger-made microphone that everything was under control and to just sit still for a moment followed by narrating to himself in recording of the scenario.
A while passed by, teeming with gossiping murmurs and a rather curious series of little chit-chats. Dolls were sent to the candle labs to make sure none have died out and in case to renew; the enchanted natural energy of candlelight worked just as powerful and faulty as modern day electricity (or to most by "modern day" they obliviously meant a good dip in modern human life thirty years back). Lovzit announced twice that there was nothing to be worried about and the show was to begin momentarily.
The servant Tammy caught a call from one of his brethren officers and brought his communicator out of the opaque mass of black his body took form. The masked mute handed the visual walkie-talkie over to Bella and he snatched it away easily, the little white dots of the limited technology making it easy to spot.
"Sir, the fuses are all lit and nobody has entered the chamber all day long. Hell, it's been left alone for a week."
Bella hung up and pondered. The darkness was not a power outage someone or something was purposefully causing it. But before Bella could do anything, the floating candlelight of the spinning chandeliers was slowly returning dimly, one cell of light after another.
"Problem, m'lord? What'd the servants say?" Lovzit asked.
He was shushed, the audience fell silent, and slow music began to make itself known. The grand ruby red curtains of the colossal opera stage lifted up tenderly. And then a hum low and merry, soft and haunting, happy and threatening rose up along with the most when suddenly a silhouette descended onstage, hoisted by nothing. The music became a choir, then a few piano notes coming from god knows where echoed all around and the stage was suddenly empty, not one giant set or prop taking over. It was just the stranger and a sudden kaleidoscope of bright red strings dancing in the background to the beat of the music, it's slides and lil
All eyes were on the surprise guest, gazing at his descent with lopsided confusion and ears of many kinds pointing, shaking, and fluttering to his slithery lullaby, his movements gently animated like a slimy shadow puppet.
The stranger was glimmering in a pure whiteness that could have blinded eyes in the way of a godly savior; his flesh almost sickly in how paper pearl it was, not a stain to rust the flesh or a pore opened; even his apparel had a difficult time standing out against his skin due to the cold cream color a long simple long-sleeved robe that reached his ankles like a kimono that lacked ties and ribbons with the slightest hint of detail upon the plain dress being the many black music notes that were place at random up and down. But the symbols moves slowly throughout the dress as if they were floating knick-knacks trapped behind a transparent layer.
His hair was snowy silver and cropped unevenly at a neck-length, flayed and fluffed in messy layers. Even those curved, cruel horns of his shimmered white as they poked out the sides of his head, pointing upwards like a bull or a wretched gargoyle of sorts, which contrasted greatly against the triangular little cat ears standing upright like a common flaky feline.
But then came a closer look at the sheer malevolence being covered by the whiteness, all expressed by those eyes those horrible, conniving eyes.
Those eyes were far from ordinary which was quite common, however for they were more like almondesque caves than they were eyes: hollow black holes that carried but a fiery red pupil in the center, squinted and sluggish like a cunning something bidding a formal salutation but waiting for you to turn your back. His eyes matched his mouth, which was a long thin line of black, curved at the end to create a smug and sadistically nonchalant grin.
Who was this man?
"Who is that?" Bella mumbled, oblivious to his question being heard. His talons flipped through the sepia pages of the program, the names of past performers grayed out through the means of enchanted ink but the title of the next act was at a standstill, glowing an odd pinkish color when it was supposed to shimmer in gold. The vulture raised his voice, turning to face Lovzit, "Who is that, Lovzit?"
The Moonsick sisters leaned in on the question, surprisingly eager for an answer, yet the newscaster said after slight hesitation and staring "By my gears n' other bric-a-bracs, I lack a knowing of that fellow, not even in my tender memory files." It was a sad truth, but unusual for one such as Lovzit to lack recognition of anyone. He knew the names of every citizen, the backstory of every brick built in the odd city, the backbone of their world.
If anybody knew about the bloodstream of Decembersville, it was none other than Talkie Lovzit. If a question on him was raised in terms of who was a stranger then that meant something.
Then the stranger began to sing; his voice low, soft, not willing to raise a note too high never mind his smile seemed to want to do otherwise. He sung along with the ghost choir patient, slow, eyes cast dead upon the dark vermillion world cast in browns, blacks, and the dotted glimmers that represented glowing eyes and other oddities.
His hands danced around and his mouth barely moved as he sang:
"One two sins too much
And the Lord laid down his hands,
So besiege by whom defied,
And so they paid blood with their sands
The smiling stranger moved like silk mercury, looking so slow but moving so fast in truth. The wisps of things glowing red behind him began to flail frantically, swinging into such abstract pictures like the man was putting on a light show. The wisps formed zig-zags leading up into the air but the singer merely spun around and actually began to walk up them like they were hard stairs, the steps left behind sloping then swinging upwards to create a flat tightrope-like surface. He walked upon the red tightrope like it were flat ground, the audience staring in pure confusion and wonder.
It was definitely a surprise show. All checked their programs and they doubted that this man was Anna the Widow for the next act.
"One spark of cruel lamentation reached their core,
Then UP and UP it rose till the liars laughed no more."
The music escalated from god knows where, all head spinning in wonder as to where it was coming from organs, violins, a daunting piano that was all playing quite merrily and jumpily in the midst.
Then the stranger spread his arms, making a fluid spin around as if praising the gods above and sang loudly with a voice like silk, his words jumping happily yet calmly:
"Feared n' fearing loves,
Don't you dream a tune,
Solely for you?
For at the end of your fateful ballet,
He'll swoop down and steal you away.
What can I say if your exile is near?
You bring, you keep, you fall on your knees,
Your hands flare up, no dread shall you keep,
Under circumstance our losses draw near,
O' dire lull-a-bye of fear."
A long and brilliant series of unworded stanzas literally glided over the masses, the strings of red dancing before the people and forming tremendous symbols that spiraled, that swirled, that played their loud and swirling beat like a neverending instrumental. The sorcery had it's odd effect for the curtains began to flutter and strong breezes took place with every sharp swipe the red wisps made in their air opera like they were composed of flesh, not mere smoke.
The aristocrats stared at the dazzling spectacle in pure wonder, Bella's mouth hanging open slightly while the mayor (the biggest lout known to freaks) had his arms crossed over the ledge of the balcony, his eyes still closed. All watched, even Doll officers down below, and the ivory stranger on stage danced around the wisps seductively, interacting with them the way a celestial heaven-bound would, even going to far as to mutter rather foreign terms to it in a most loving, dangerous voice.
The Moonsicks stared at the man for he seemed like he just woke himself out of a rather haunting nightmare, straightening then immediately slumping with his hands to the sides of his head.
"Talkie," Bella rasped at him, his eyes narrow. "What's your problem?"
All the newscaster did was shake his head and say shakily through a grin, "Nothing. Just
I dunno, I guess my mind turned off for a millisecond right there."
The politician stared at him for a long time, the music grand and turning the entire auditorium into more of a becharmed cabaret made of red light and invisible music. Then he looked away and settled those dim golden eyes upon the stranger, his fangs grit together for a deep suspicion rose. Then a strong flash of red and pink got the entire audience to shriek and the aristocrats to turn away immediately as it has come from the stage; a mere effect played by the red magic to pound more music into the air and it's composer to smile widely as if all was well, there was nothing left.
"A gruesome spell lies 'wake,
In the dark depths where they wait,
A feed on they, a spare for you,
White rain came down
And drowned the hate.
Don't mistreat my words for soon all shall face,
One choice, not two,
To lock up our fates.
Feared n' fearing loves,
Don't you dream a tune,
Solely for you?
For at the end of your fateful ballet,
He'll swoop down
or watch you drown,
So pray your wings spread,
Not tear away, loves.
What can I say if your exile is near?
You bring, you keep, you fall on your knees,
Your hands flare up, no dread shall you keep,
Under circumstance our losses draw near,
O' dire lull-a-bye of FEAR!"
FWAH! Another tremendous blinding flash of red took place and all dodged their eyes away from the sight. The stranger held that last word for a long time in a professional falsetto, letting it screech, echo, raise curtains and play along with the brightness his magic was causing like the distraction for a terrorist attack. He held it for a long time, a strong wave of cold air blasting across the way, then
The darkness fell upon all in a heartbeat, not a speck of red light being left behind. It was like someone flicked the lights off in the area, silencing everything. All that was left behind was the falsetto "fear" scream echoing, fading into the blackness to join with it's vermillion-and-white master.
With that, the lights began to dimly return, slowly rising to reveal the stage and the contraption-like set back in place like nothing had just happened.
The audience was dead silent at first until a few awkward claps got the entire theater to stand up and shriek in cheer, applauding the surprise visit that concluded. The aristocrats were all together in their booth, leering in confusion without the slightest smidgeon of amusement.
Bella's mouth was slightly open, eyes bulging. He knew who that was. It had to be who he knew it was.
" he whispered, insides cold. "Chima, you don't think that
" There was a stutter in his voice and he turned to see his brother, who was still lying sleepily over the balcony ledge. The older brother stared in disappointment but more shock, every muscle in his body tightened into a little coil. A slither of warmth upon his shoulder made him jump and he turned his head to notice Lovzit looking at him with concern.
"Lord Bella! You're paler than used lime! What's the gossip?"
He got no response at all but just a wide-eyed look that darted from him to the sisters then to him again, his mouth open but not saying anything. What could he say? What would he say? Things were about to go into action and the world was about to flip upside down, all because of a little song at the Opera and the slightest moment of realization. The night was not expected to turn out that way and the aristocrat was frozen in such daunting surprise, it brought the cold to shame.
"Lord Bella?" Lovzit asked again, head tilting. "Jeewillakers, got hit just now by a sick thought?"
CLASH! Every freak in the booth (including the mayor) made a violently flinch and spun around at once, the sound of shuddering aluminum and the shattering of glass heard in a wave.
Through gritted teeth, Bella seethed anxiously "Clumsy little fool," at Tammy as he seemed to have dropped everything from the silver tray of goods and sweets. He turned completely while his brother was rubbing his eyes, "You pick every piece this minute if you don't want to be picking up pieces of yourself!"
The servant, Tammy, was just standing there, shaking all over like a kitten caught in the cold rain, hands up and tilted as the tray has slid out of his hands. A few mere gagging sounds were heard escaping him. "Ugh
It was so strange. Ordered again, there was an attempt for him to crouch down and pick up the pieces, but he could not do it at all. Not entirely, creaking and moaning painfully like a broken toy.
"What the hell is this, von Pyre?" Emily asked in warning.
"You really think I know? Tammy! You listen to your master!" he shouted bitterly as if the Doll was a dog.
"Lord Bella, isn't the mayor his master?"
A strong breathing sound began to escape the Doll and so he started to twitch, trying to turn his head away and look back down the hall.
eh-eh!" Then the flailing began as well. "Ehh! Eh
"Tammy, what the hell?" Bella growled, more than ready to bash the servant's mask inwards. Little Emmy skipped over to the mayor and shook him only slightly.
It was amazing how much the mayor could sleep through in terms of noise but the slightest flick made him jut up in high alert as if he was not sleeping at all; that is unless he was lightly sleeping from boredom and ignored his brother beforehand because, well, he hated him.
Chimabell turned in his seat with the most irritated pout and his mouth fell followed by his golden eyes widening into perfect circles. He looked to Lovzit in confusion until Bella said to his brother in sensitive exasperation, "Hey. Lightweight. Fix the little invalid!"
"'Fix him'?" the mayor said in disbelief, giving his brother a confounded face while adjusting some of his bangs. "What are you smoking what makes you think I know how these bloody things work? Hell, I'm scared here!"
"Alright! Don't get your panties in a twist!" Rubbing his eyes, he whistled. "Yo! Tammy! I demand you calm down right now, little mister!"
Then Tammy darted off. The second his master finished his command, the servant went running for the hills to god knows where, disappearing as a black shadow in the red hallways then turning a sharp corner.
The group turned their heads to stare at the mayor, who only looked back with quite the dim little pucker, eyes looking in different directions.
"You guys think I'm a Doll whisperer guru or something?" He adjusted his hat and rolled his eyes, turning away and slumping his arms over the ledge of the balcony. "Let him go. He's sparked my interest so we are going to stick around." His eyes narrowed.
"This Opera is gonna burn." Then he placed a hand over his heart. "The night is gonna burn."