☦️ • Creative Writer • CC0<br/>[writer@michaelofstjoseph.com](writer@michaelofstjoseph.com)<br/>Author of Where Things Went

Where Things Went | Chapter 9 | Club

#wherethingswent

King slammed the waist-high door of the questionable lift shut, latched a rickety latch, and swooped over to the labyrinthian controls. Without hesitation, he began pulling every lever, turning every knob, pressing every button, flipping every switch. The contraption responded with unbecoming clicks, screeches, ticks, and buzzes whilst the whole platform grated angrily. Several Instrumentalists tasked with the exterior repairs noticed the commotion. They made a stiff sprint over, motioning for the duo get off the elevator clearly not designed for them.

“King, maybe we should…”

“Shh! I almost got it! These stupid locks!” He interrupted.

Sleet, not wanting trouble, considered hopping the “safety” door and leaving King to himself. But, she didn’t want to abandon her friend. As her reluctance flourished, so too did the impatience of King. The workers were nearly upon them and Sleet looked frantically back and forth between King and the Instrumentalists. The grinding gears grew to a deafening whine, unable to overcome the bulky locks restraining them.

In one final move, King rose his flaming fist in the air and brought it down on the control console. The motors of the lift lapped up King’s power, energized beyond belief. The locks snapped, the lift freed, and the pair rocketed up the side of the iron-glass Tower. The scaffolding shuttered, the instrumentalists were blown back, and Sleet fell on all fours, fighting against the weight of 10 worlds. Always attentive, the setting sun roused itself for this occasion, further shining across the sparkling City of Wonder.

Sleet strained her neck to see what became of King. Through gritted teeth and winced eyes, she beheld King still standing upright, Crown aglow. Even King wavered ever so slightly as they blasted through the sky, his right sleeve left tattered by his fight with the controls. Up higher still approached the top of the skyscraper, obscured by the depressing gray clouds that adorned the lonesome realm. On their trip through these clouds, King again lit his arm aflame and held his hand flat in front of his chin.

He sucked in a mighty breath and blew out. A tremendous wave of fire washed over the clouds, overpowering them. So this flame extended from their platform and traveled across the world to the edge of the horizon, halted wherever it hit the black veil that guarded the outskirts. The sky was now open and free, just as the rest of the City. As admirable, as beautiful as this supernatural work was, the pairs’ fire-powered journey reached its expedient conclusion.

“King!” Screamed Sleet as the lift broke off its guide rails, launching her helplessly into the air.

She lost complete control of her orientation, overcome by a wicked vertigo. But, as quickly as she rose, she fell, like her beloved airplane. Not off the side of the Tower, but instead caught safely in King’s arms. The roar of the winds, flames, and machines lay dead. King stood calmly, smiling. He let her down. She warily, wearily found her footing on the roof of the mega structure. Bent over, hands-on-knees, panting, she asked King, “Was… That… Whatyouwantedtoshowme? Ah, ah, ah.”

“Hm? Show ya’ what? Oh, no not that. I thought the City would look better without them ugly clouds is all.” Nodded King. “Is that so?” Sneered Sleet, visibly upset. In this moment she lacked the fun King so loved. In response, King dove off the side of the Tower to his doom. “What!” She exclaimed.

Sleet ran as cautiously as possible to the other edge of the Tower. Below stood King on a new patio balcony that jutted out from the side of the otherwise featureless exterior. A loving, labored addition made by the instrumentalists at King’s behest. A shimmering glass door lead into a completely refurbished studio. The very same Sleet so excellently performed in. This was the true surprise. King helped her down, eager to give a boastful tour.

A quiet drummer tapped along to an automated piano in a distant corner of the swanky lounge. A relaxing, evening jazz enveloped the atmosphere. Intentionally reserved lighting, posh seating, a well-dressed Instrumentalist bartender squeaked a shiny wineglass clean beneath his crooked bow-tie. Marble countertops and tile-wood floors lead to the modestly elevated, yet still quite elegant stage. The only thing atop this stage was the microphone of the mystery woman, Snow. It sat lonely in the stage lights.

“You did this… For me?” Sleet was awestruck, overjoyed by the personal gift.

In response, King leapt over a nearby table, then took another great step ascending to the stage. He grabbed the microphone and blared through the otherwise demure speakers, “Sure did!” The moment Sleet saw the Crown and microphone together… And heard the speakers sing… The sounds rung as feedback in her ears, and her mind flashed back to the visions these items gave her. Yes, she remembers now… King… He was crying… Feign warned her about… The Crown… She…

King shook her shoulders to wake her from her reflections. Her head bobbed through her rustled hair before she finally blinked the visions away…

“Well? Well?! What do ya’ think?!” Asked King in earnest.

“Huh? Oh, um. I-It’s amazing. Really, thank you.” Sleet looked away, now troubled by the scenes that felt more and more real.

“Yeah!” Said King in celebration. “Now you can finish your song! I can’t wait, c’mon!” King lifted Sleet off the floor without pause and jumped again onto stage. He set her down in front of the microphone. Just as quickly he appeared in a front row seat for the imperceptibly prompt performance. Shocked, Sleet felt as wooden as the stage she stood on and appeared half as much too.

“No, I can’t. It’s too sudden. I…” Sleet’s hands trembled at her side as she struggled to keep them away from the alluring instrument before her. She wouldn’t even look at it, instead casting glances at the formerly busted entrance. That same entrance where Feign delivered her warning. She remembered… Feign spoke of a...

“Master.” Muttered Sleet under her breath.

But, the microphone of Snow caught her quiet word. The word sounded in King’s ears. He heard them. Slowly he rose from the seat. His is head hung low, face concealed by his shaggy red hair he itched irritably.

“What did you say?” Asserted King.

“I can’t sing today. I-I shouldn’t…” Begged Sleet.

In a third and final ascent to stage, King swatted the microphone to the floor and grabbed Sleet by her loose jacket collar. Sleet shared the pain of the mistreated instrument and stretched out her arm in a fledgling attempt to catch it. Unable to escape the firm grip to save the precious relic, it crashed to the floor sending a horrible shriek through the speakers. King angrily clarified his demand...

“Not. That. The other thing.”

Sleet squeaked out her response, “...M-Master?”

“Who told ya’ that name? It was her wasn’t it. That damn ghost.” Spat King, eye to eye, face to face with the shy, cowering girl in his grasp.

“Feign… Mentioned a Master. That’s all! Please King, I’ll sing if you like.” Reasoned Sleet.

King peacefully closed his eyes, formed a mild smile, breathed in and then out of his nose releasing but the faintest bit of smoke. Calmly, he answered, “Forget it. And forget that name too. Time to go. I got somewhere I gotta’ be.” He released her and made way for the exit.


Originally composed 12/6/21