The Storyteller

Going Places

The world seemed to pass us by, not just people like us I mean: I should say time passed by slowest for young Bernárd (for whom every second felt a lifetime after having been confronted by his own mortality) but you hadn't even begun feasting on your early dinner when Eiffel was already reaching for his coat.

You perked up from your bowl of soup. There wasn't anything that went by you. In fact, in this tiny, little home your senses were heightened by anxiety, as if at all times there were guns pointed at your head. And of course there were, albeit not literally or directly.

"You're leaving?" you asked. You refused the old man's sighs as a proper response.

You were terrified of being left alone there. In 1889.

"Let me come with you."

The old man laughed but not at you. It's the curse of old age that memories start to blur reality and in the end there's not a thing that doesn't remind you of something else.

Something older. Something better. Nostalga always seems to remove the rough edges from memories of the past.

You could tell whenever he looked at you he was seeing something else. You tried to grasp his eyecontact fiercely, but he kept looking away.

"Gustave," you spoke determined, before realizing how rude that must've sounded. "Mr Eiffel..."

However the old man's duties had already been plotted out hours beforehand. There were mechanics at work here you couldn't possibly fathom. Orders from the very highest institution and a plan that was being updated every minute and every step of the way.

And the order had been given that you should remain exactly where you were.

"I'm sorry," he said and he checked his pocket watch. He was expected at the World Exhibition in a few moments but he couldn't let poor Bernárd alone at the lab.

"I have to return to the Fair."

Of course, you couldn't let him go that easily.

"The Tower, you mean? Yóur Tower?"

The way you'd said it wasn't lost on him and it's not like he doesn't have a sense of humour.

"Yes," he said. "My Tower."

He chuckled as he said it. A chuckle of a pitiful man. Then you remembered what I told you about the protests and about the negativity and dislike towards this triumph of engineering.

Such campaign never goes unnoticed; particularly towards the man who made it. The man with the vision.

"It's a mistake," he said. "The critics are right. It shall be pulled down at the end of the Fair and rightly so."

"No," you spoke. You've stolen that from me. "You heard me."

He wasn't the first to be astonished by the magical Amy Pond and he wasn't going to be the last.

67-year old Gustave Eiffel was one step away from being poked in the gut by an angry ginger.

Oi!

"Look at you! Look at what they've done to you! They made you doubt yourself. Don't. Let others doubt you. You're brilliant."

"I beg your pardon?"

"Yes you are! I love the Eiffel Tower! It's my favourite!"

"Favourite of what?" he asked and the question stumped you briefly. If only I'd been there to watch you stammer.

"Of buildings. Towers, obviously! It's great!"

"You really think so?"

"Of course it is! The people of this time are just idiots! They don't appreciate art! But I do!"

"Art?"

"Whatever!"

"Who are you?"

You plucked at his bowtie with a raised eyebrow and settled for an inspired twinkle in your eye.

"I'm coming with you."

No man can resist a flutter of your eyelashes.

"Take me to the Tower," you said. "That's where it started. It has to be connected and I'm betting the Doctor thinks the same."

"How can you be so sure?"

"I just am."

"That's not good enough," he said.

Of course, Alexandre Gustave Eiffel wasn't just a man, he was a genius.

"You will stay here," he told you. "I'll be back as soon as possible. I'll relay your opinion to the general's staff. Maybe get a word in to that Doctor of yours and see what he thinks."

You had every right to feel betrayed but you weren't sure if you actually had been betrayed or whether you had just failed.

"And that's it?" you asked. "You're just going to keep me here?"

Gustave smiled one of those smiles only grandfathers have. "If I must."

Then came the waterworks.

"This isn't my time!" you spoke, eyes all filling up with angry tears. "I don't belong here and you know it!"

"I don't know where you belong, miss Pond," Gustave said. "But you're here now and that's all we know for certain."

"Yeah? Well, you know what else is for certain? The deaths of everyone you know if you don't let me out of here."

"Is that a threat, miss Pond?"

"A warning," you said and you only blinked once. Then an awkward silence.

"Thank you."

He grabbed his top hat and left. He hated himself for walking out on you like that but you and time had left him no other option.

Somehow, it's always you and time.

"That's just great," you muttered to yourself, scratching your itching clothing and that was before you noticed the soldier standing at attention behind you watching your every move.

Obviously, if it wasn't for him you'd have skipped from that place within a flutter of your eyelids.

"Can I make you a coffee?" you asked him. Now that couldn't possibly end well.

Speaking of things that don't end well there was another unfinished story we were all blissfully unaware of. Something dark that was going on right beneath our feet in the tunnels underneath Paris.

Captain Jack and his former jailors were being dragged through mud and mortared stone into pitch black jagged rock and unstable tunnels without end.

With no sun or hope down there there was only the light of the flaming torches that lit their way and the brutal grip of the men that had tied their hands together. Of course, Jack's already were cuffed together and that would eventually save his life.

Then the texture of the mines changed and they were thrown in front of something large, something they could barely make out in the light of the torches they couldn't keep still. The shadows were dancing. Darkness came and went and came again.

Their captors quarreled over the next part of their route. They weren't exactly the brightest.

"Put on the goggles!" one of them yelled at the other.

With a kick to their shins they were told to stand up and finally hold their own weight. Claire and Michelle didn't know why the men were giggling to themselves as if they were laughing at some joke they weren't in on. They soon found out though.

"No!" Claire gasped when they reached a stone arc, beyond which the darkness was not just darkness anymore. The air was laden with terror. With stolen breaths and missed heartbeats.

Those that went down these passages always left something of themselves behind.

There was an inscription on the stone portal. Jack could barely read it. It was French.

"Arrête, c'est ici l'empire de la Mort."

"My French isn't what it used to be," Jack said and Claire therefore translated while the men around her waited in all smugness. They practically pushed her to read it aloud.

"Stop," she spoke with a trembling voice, and only when the light of the torches hit her face did Jack see that her glasses had fallen from her face. She wasn't reading. She was reciting from memory.

She repeated when her voice failed her.

"Stop, this is the Empire of Death."

Claire knew what they would find as they nudged her through the entrance of the ossuary and soon after they entered they saw it.

Entire halls and caverns of walls of carefully arranged bones, of thousand if not millions of skulls placed side by side with hollow eyes.

Jack tried not to think of them as people. It was as if they were all staring at him. Judging him.

But this was only the beginning.

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