Thursday, April 18, 2013

Dvorak Classic: Chapter Eighteen

Dvorak Classic
Chapter 18 (or, "Don't Forget Your Cricket Bat")

Yesterday’s Episode: Carissa made it safely out of the fire and into the hospital. Mac decided that the Gutenberg Bible must be found.

    “So remind me what we’re doing again?” Peter asked. “And why did I have to go get this cricket bat?”
    “You didn’t have to get it, remember?” Mac said. “I just suggested that you go and find a blunt object that you could use in case we get ourselves in trouble. I had thought you would bring something like, I don’t know, a frying pan? But a cricket bat works as well, I suppose.” He pointed to his bike. “You do realize that we’re riding on that thing, right?”
    Peter took one look at the bike and his eyes widened. “You have got to be kidding.”
    “Yeah, well, unfortunately I’m not. And you don’t have a choice if you’re going to be a part of this. You do believe there’s something weird going on, right?”
    “Shut up, Taggart. Of course I do. All these unexplained things that aren’t adding up just right. It makes me want a beer.”
    “I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear you just say that.” Mac put the kickstand up on his bike. “Let’s go, Doyle, before I change my mind.”
    He straddled the seat, and Peter jumped on the back, putting his feet on the rungs. In an instant, Mac wished Carissa was here instead of the boy who had constantly made fun of him in class all year. But then Peter’s hands were on Mac’s shoulders, and he steadied himself on the bike.
    He wasn’t going to go easy on his adversary. “You better hold on,” was all he said, and then he was off, leaving Peter holding on for dear life.

    The Saint Arbucks on 72nd Street was closed, but you couldn’t tell that to Sarah. She didn’t have any other place to go, no home to return to in this dimension.
    She drank one more frapp while sitting in the way back, where nobody could see her if they tried to look in through the dark windows. But it didn’t matter anyway. Nobody could ever see her unless she made herself known.
    She scrolled through the documents on her tablet again. If their calculations were correct, then Dvorak was still somewhere in this city, as he had been ever since Y-MH-560 had been tagged. Mick had done the research, as his namesake had done a lot of logistical work when the city’s foundation had first been laid. They just needed to find out where Dvorak was now, and that Gutenberg was the key. They had been slowed down by the girl’s injury, but that Taggart boy was good for something -- oh, what now?
    She pulled out her phone and stopped its music box melody. “Vonces aper, Raz?” And it better be good, considering the time of night, she thought.
    “We’ve got a disturbance on the corner of 11th and University, near where the Gutenberg was last seen,” Raz said. “I’ve been trying to stay afloat with the authorities and make sure our records match with theirs, but the head librarian has started to suspect me in something, and she’s started leaving me out of the meetings.”
    “You’re fine where you’re at,” Sarah said. “Just keep being undercover at the library. We’re good to have an agent like you on QWERTY. Remind me who hired you?”
    “Rider did, remember? He hired me and Nikkei at the same time and assigned us to the Metro North operation for 228.”
    “Oh, yeah, I remember that.” Sarah was quiet for a moment. “I’ll get about to sending Taggart and his new...associate to 11th and University. Any clue as to what the disturbance could be?”
    “Not a clue, Sarah. Not a clue in the world.”

    Mac had one hand on his handlebars when his phone rang. Pulling it out, he saw it was Carissa. “Hang on,” he said as he slowed the bike down and stopped it on the corner of 2nd Avenue and 23rd Street. Stepping off the bike, he put the kickstand down just as Peter collapsed off of the back and sat down on the sidewalk, head in his hands.
    “I am done hanging on anything for a while,” he said.
    Mac had to laugh. He then picked up the line. “Carissa?”
    “I’m here. I got another visit from the creepy lady that I think you should know about. She knows that you’re going out to find the Bible now -- and I don’t know how she knows that, but she does.”
    Mac nodded. Nothing surprised him anymore. “Did she say anything else? I’m kind of going in blind here, but I figured I’d start at the place where we ran into Peter last time and go from there. Then again, it’s a bit vague, but I was just going to look for something apple themed.”
    “She gave me another piece of paper, something about the intersection of 11th and University. Does that make any sense to you?”
    Mac thought in his head for a second. “It does,” he said. “It’s right in the area. We’ll head there now. Are you still in the hospital?”
    “Yeah. They’re going to keep me here overnight, and then I’ll be home tomorrow. They told me to keep it easy. I’ll be out of school for the rest of the week…assuming the school is up and running in some form.”
    Mac cursed to himself. He thought back to Rue’s warning. Carissa was the one who had to figure out the puzzle, but apparently he was the one being selected to bring all of the pieces to her. “You stay safe,” he told her. “I mean it.”
    “I will. Let me know what happens.”
    He nodded, then remembered she wasn’t here to see him do that. “I’ll call you back,” he said, and hung up. Then, he turned to Peter. “We gotta get back up on this bike, man.”
    Peter clearly didn’t want to be listening. He had his head between his legs, sighing and not saying a word otherwise. “Peter, dude,” Mac said as he picked up Peter’s cricket bat off the ground from where he had put it, “get up.”
    Peter looked up at Mac. “What’s the use?”
    “I’ll tell you what’s the use! There’s something weird going on in our world! Nothing is making sense, and the only clue we have right now is that Carissa needs this Bible. And if we don’t get it for her...” He had to stop talking. He couldn’t tell Peter either what he was fearing.
    “Yeah, whatever.” Peter had lost all of his enthusiasm for the project. He did stand, however, and got back on the bike when Mac directed him to. Within seconds, they were off, and Mac could tell that Peter’s grip on him was looser than it had been.
    “Seriously, are you okay, dude?” he asked over his shoulder.
    Peter nodded. “I’m going to have to be, I assume.” He tightened his grip. “Just promise you won’t leave me behind. I’ve done you wrong by kicking you for these past few months, but if you promise me that, I won’t do you wrong now.”
    Mac thought Peter sounded weird, but whatever. This was Peter he was thinking about, the kid who showed up at random moments with a pink slip or a notice to be there. Come to think of it, Peter had to be part of the equation. He just kept showing up at random moments like that. Was there some sort of connection?
    He didn’t have time to think about that right now. Right now, they had to bike, and bike they did.
    They made it in record time to Union Square, passing by the shops and around the now closed park. Mac turned onto 14th Street, then University, then down to 11th Street. “I will bet you five dollars that there’s something around here with an apple logo on it,” he said to Peter as he slowed the bike to a halt again and both boys got off. “Stay close. We may need to get going quickly again at a moment’s notice.”
    Peter nodded. “I’m keeping an eye out. Is there anything in particular --”
    Peter never got to finish his sentence. Without warning, the bike’s electric motor started up. The bike started going, hit a curb and flew through the air, hitting a nearby building. The glass windows shattered, and the people who were still sitting in the building ran for their lives.
    “We need to change this,” Mac said, too calm as he reached for his phone. Carissa could stop time, or even change it, if she just got her hands on an apple. Maybe Isabel could get one to her in time -- he didn’t know if there were time limits on those things --
    “Stop right there.”
    Mac turned and saw the person who had spoken to him. It was a woman, with long brown hair and the darkest brown, almost black eyes he had ever seen in his entire life. She was dressed entirely in black, but to make matters worse, she was holding a green apple in her right hand.
    Mac gravitated toward her, seeing the apple. “What do you mean?”
    “If you call that girl, if you get her to change this reality to what you want, then the process will just get worse for you. Accept your fate and praise God for it, for He is the one who decides who will stay and who will go. Nobody else.”
    Mac raised an eyebrow. “What do you mean?”
    “Don’t you get it, boy? I have been sent by God with an important message.” Then, the woman threw the apple straight at Mac.
    When the apple hit the sidewalk, it exploded in a huge ball of light that Mac couldn’t see through. He heard more screaming, and then Peter’s voice, frantic above it all: “Make it stop!”
    Mac closed his eyes until the explosion was over. When the light faded, he opened them and found that he didn’t have a scratch on him anywhere, but the area around him was destroyed. Peter was nowhere to be found.
    “You already know your fate,” the woman said to him without any pause. “You cannot save yourself, or the girl, or anybody. Your efforts are futile. Do not find Dvorak, or everything you know will be terminated.”
    Then she was gone, like a breath on the wind.

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