Where Things Went | Chapter 7 | Snow
Polite, but not particularly gentle. At the end of her trolley express ride the 3 conductors unceremoniously tossed her off the contraption. The moment her boot struck ground, the Instrumentalists instantaneously reversed course back down into the depths of the blackened Tower. Sleet was left at the entrance of a (mostly) broken door that lead into the remains of a cozier, less expansive recording studio.
A frigid wind smothered her face sending chills throughout her body. The breeze howled, whistled from inside. It was all the invitation she was given. Stepping over the remains, the entire room presented itself just as unpleasantly. More flickering, more sparks, dim dying lights, rock and rubble scattered the floor. A surprisingly similar scene to the rapturous entrance made by King.
Sleet’s breath chased after her, lagging in accord with her icy hair and gothic attire. Behold! Another blown out wall was the culprit of the disheveled mess. Yet the precision, the damage caused by this mysterious demolition was on another magnitude of power. The wind pressed oppressively against her investigations but she persevered in pursuit. On her hands and knees, she crawled near enough to the precipice to see where she found herself.
T-The very top of the Tower!? Through angry gray clouds Sleet saw the briefest blip of the City of Wonder cast so far below. Endangered expressions and shaken nerves lead to Sleet’s shy retreat from the neighboring oblivion. She gasped heavy breaths of concern and thin air, stumbling back toward the rundown entrance.
“I-I shouldn’t be here. Why did they take me here? Who is Snow? Where is King?” Whirled the thoughts of the estranged child.
But, a sudden feeling washed over her. A familiar aura pulled her attention to the middle of the room. A swaying florescent light danced enticingly over a lonely vintage microphone. Vision, locked. Troubles, vanished. Even the wind relaxed as Sleet obsessively eyed the attractive instrument. She felt this pull, this beckoning a few times… But never this.
She stood upright, approaching the microphone with one arm safely against her chest, the other outstretched, longingly. Her mouth hung open slightly, anticipating this great reception. Unbeknownst to her, the dim lights around her enlivened. A hum of towered speakers stationed and hung on the periphery sprung to life. The lights, the sound began a humble chorus eagerly awaiting their star performer. Still, Sleet kept unending fixation on this mic.
Her fingertips hung so close to the mic stand, frost formed along it’s metallic surface. But, she did not touch it, not even a little. In hesitation, Sleet withdrew from her seeming trance and timidly pulled her hand away. Her shoulders shifted, as if to turn and go the other direction… But the feeling returned so imminently her eyes themselves bore white light. In a flash she snapped back and tightly snatched the neck of the microphone. In response all the room animated exuberantly around her.
She brought the microphone to her lips in a vice-grip whilst brushing her hair away from her luminous face. Frost snaked over the room, the wind returned as a gale that encircled Sleet, obeying her command. Snowflakes fluttered off her body, birthed through flapping lose clothes. The snowflakes sparkled dazzlingly in the super-charged multi-colored neon lights. The speakers bore a heavy bass tone that beat into a frenzied rhythm.
The scene was set. Sleet’s performance had begun.
She sung a passionate song in a gibberish tongue accompanied by sweeping, yet precise dancing. Twirling, twisting, jumping elegantly she strode across the room engulfed in ecstasy. Not a single clumsy misstep befell her, even the cord of the microphone she skillfully whipped around her person. All the while, an incredible vision poured into her mind.
She saw an otherworldly monster, unintelligible, incomprehensible in horror. It rose from the edge of the world and morphed into hideous shapes washing the world in a dark, sickly blue. Then, she saw the woman from before clear as day. She knew in her heart who it was, Snow. Beautiful, familiar, so much like Sleet herself washed in white. But, Snow was interrupted by a horrible explosion.
A man stood on the air wearing the Crown of King. He stepped into the crumbled studio and stamped his glowing green sceptre on the floor. A vile wave of black crept from the sceptre and sought after Snow. Before it reached her, Sleet now saw King wearing his Crown. But, he engulfed himself in red flames. He cried. The sun blinded our eyes. He… He…
“Amazing!” Exclaimed King, interrupting Sleet’s riveting performance.
He clapped excitedly at the broken entrance. His brothers fought for a view of what music shook the whole Tower so greatly. Sleet’s piercing glow dimmed, the wind died, the music shuttered, and she looked back at King sheepishly.
“Oh, well. I, um. I’m sorry… I-I don’t know what came over me, I just…” Sleet pretended to play with the microphone cord and put the room back in order.
“Sorry? Don’t be sorry! You’re great! We were busy explorin’ but the whole Tower was so loud. I asked our new friend to take us up to the best music. Who knew it was you!” Laughed King as he dragged a limp Instrumentalist from the corner, lifted him up, and shook the expressionless automaton lightly. King walked to Sleet and held a whispering hand to the side of his mouth. He revealed his master plan.
“Hey, this place didn’t have the kinda’ treasure I like. Hehe. It had better stuff! I love these guys.” King again lifted up the operator. “And you’re one of the Performers? It’s too perfect!” He couldn’t maintain his secret whispers any longer. He faced the brother posse and lead into a grand declaration. He lifted his newest friend overhead and exclaimed…
“You’re free! You’re all free! I opened the Tower. Now the City is for all of us! Let’s build somethin’… Wonderful.” King thoughtlessly dropped his new friend to the ground, freeing his hands for another illustrious bow.
“Yeah!” Roared the brothers pumping their fists.
Puzzled, Sleet meekly raised her fist, “Yeah…?”
“Hey everyone, let’s all go back and show Esrael what we found! Hah, he won’t believe it!” Said Fredric with renewed faith. Caught in the moment, Sleet went to follow King back to the tram. But, before she made it through the door, her elbow was sucked into a dark corner. A voice whispered in her ear.
“You saw it didn’t you? I know you did, don’t lie. We can’t let King keep the Crown. Master knows what will happen, and you saw it didn’t you?” Feign held on tightly, painfully to Sleet.
“Ow! I… I don’t know what I saw! Feign, that hurts please stop.” Begged Sleet.
Feign released Sleet, and she jumped back into the light rubbing her arm. Feign shook her head, knelt low to the floor, one hand covered her face, the other rubbed her sore neck. She peeked through her fingers and said, “If you don’t help me, I’ll fail. Master, he…”
“Sleet! You comin’?” Shouted King.
The captured conductor tooted a makeshift horn indicating departure. Conflicted, sad, Sleet turned away from Feign and joined the brothers. There was work to be done, wonders to be made, riches to be dealt. Sleet and her adopted family went on their way to do just that. There was no time to be troubled, no time for worry, no time for that which was, the things that were, or what went where. Only that which was to be.
Originally composed 11/6/21