Unique. Morgan contemplated herself in the mirror, tired, pale, radiating. She was sitting on a wooden stool, dressed with an elegant red robe in the fitting room. Herself, the robe and the music, nothing else was needed.
The public had been shrouded in darkness, at times it seemed that even the stairs and corridors were packed. She struggled to judge the evening. Rationally speaking this cacophony had been hideous, yet she sat blissfully, convinced tonight had been a marvel.
There had been errors and distractions, inevitable considering they were amateurs, but they would be rectified tomorrow.
She lounged in front of the mirror, holding on to her brilliance and dreams. This place sheltered her against hasty admirers and offered hidden spots to recover.
Some pen-pusher and the conductor hailed her to correct some mistakes and bid her goodbye until tomorrow. In their eyes, a flame that Morgan willfully ignored.
Once they left, she changed back into her usual clothes, from diva she transformed back into shy student. It would not last, she had her breakthrough. Fear caught her outside, she was vulnerable once more, a star one moment and a speck of dust the other.
Sleep, the faster she would get home to sleep, the faster she would be back where she belonged. She barely noticed the bus drive and the walk home.
She undressed, when a breeze gave her goosebumps. She had locked the door and the windows, did she failed to spot a stalker? She put on a sweater and cautiously patrolled her small flat. Nothing, she was safely locked inside.
After a second patrol she went to bed. In her sleep, she dreamed of music, blinding light, and death. She remembered nothing when she woke up.
Hyacinth had not left the reserve, the area gave him ample solutions to hide and stay out of sight, more so as it was pitch black since the last musician left.
Outside, the sun would soon be going up. He did not care, nor was he disturbed by his lack of sleep. He would not sleep again, only music mattered. He passed time snooping around and recognizing instruments he had heard.
A saxophone, he fondled it, smelled its scent, this was easy. Second part, alongside the violins. He wandered in the dark, nodding while reminiscing a track.
A piano, the one, the only. So polished it still shone in the dark. He traced its contour, experiencing the quality, the firmness, the mathematical precision. He idly pressed a key. Such purity. The sound moved the darkness, Hyacinth went for his gun, nowhere to be found, had he lost it?
He would do without and strangle the interloper. He closed in, making out a man, likely a technician.
“Peace, we’re on the same side.”
“The side of the music.”
An ally, he could only see the eyes of his interlocutor, bright and reassuring.
“You’re the cop, right? I saw you punching your colleague.”
“I have no colleague.”
A memory surfaced, he used to work with a creepy man fascinated with the morbid. He wasn’t certain.
“You are remembering now. I will give you a tip about him, in exchange you will do something for me. A favor for a favor.”
“He will come back.”
“No one will believe him.”
A blow to the belly cut his breath, Hyacinth tightened his fists, ready for battle. He hit the shadow in front of him and broke glass, shards cut deep into his right hand.
“Look at yourself.”
Two white spots in the broken mirror, his own shining eyes. The stranger revealed himself, sharing the same feature.
“I followed your colleague, he’s not like us, he does not share our views. Beauty will never reach him, I saw his resolve hardening before he left. Alone or not, he will come back.”
“Security won’t let him, they are with us, Bourkas recruited them.”
“Just like they stopped you or me? We have lived more in a moment than he has in his existence. Such an envious man will have no peace until we all are as deaf as he is.”
“You and I can stop him.”
“You will do so alone. After you have done me the favor, I will be of no more use.”
The stranger emptied his bag and lit up his flashlight on it. He pointed at the piano Hyacinth was leaning against.
“It gave me love, I will give it back.”
Hyacinth nodded and picked a cleaver among the tools.
“What’s your name?”
Hyacinth beheaded him in one chop.
Early in the morning, Jonathan was finally released from custody. No reason was given, but he could easily guess them. Morgan had dropped the charges against him, focusing on a musical dream and forgetting about a slap. A moment of violence meant nothing next to a glimpse of paradise.
He had expected it, but detention still left its mark. He had not heard his sweet music, gauged new talents or composed for himself, suffered bad sleep and the discomfort of knowing where his place was but being barred from it.
Worst of all, he had missed the first concert, but that, too, had to be expected. Stress and limited training ensured it would be imperfect, had it been successful he never would have gotten out. The highlight was yet to come, it would be glorious.
Inhabitants of Grenoble on their way to work in the morning came across a fellow rambling about the glory of music, dressed with expensive clothes that stank and were dirty.
To the curious, he retorted that he was on his way home, preparing the most beautiful event since his birth. Most thought it was just another drunken hobo.
The voice at the other end of the phone firmly cut Freddy off.
“We will not sent a squad to the hall, presumption and intuition are no basis to displace personnel.”
“Please listen to me.”
“I have. We cannot grant your request.”
Beep beep. The line was dead. No answer, no help, no reinforcements. Hundreds of deaths tonight and only he knew, unable to convince others.
Freddy didn’t blame them, getting the call from a colleague away from his district explaining how cohorts of people would die of cardiac arrest would net the same reaction from him: an angered hang up.
He had taken refuge in the Saint-Laurent precinct to bandage his nose, sleep until midday and sort out his possibilities. The computer room he was in was empty save for him, all screens in standby waiting for a finger to wake them up, it was the standard and cheap office duplicated in every station with damaged blinds, worn down neon lights and antique printer rarely functioning.
He yawned and rubbed his eyes, what a mess it was. Hyacinth, a tenacious and efficient cop, even if he was an asshole of a human being, switched sides. As much as slapping the idiot sounded like a nice idea, his self-preservation instinct screamed not to face him, and it was unavoidable.
Afflicted by an emerging migraine, Freddy went to the toilets and put his head under the sink. He reflected with cold water filling his ears.
The crux of it was to stop the concert. If it ended on its own, it would mean they all died. He was a cop, it was his job to stop it. He could sabotage the place, sneak in and wreak some instruments, but that would only delay the inevitable and ran the risk of him being caught.
Besides, the plaintiff that got Bourkas in detention mentioned she was playing a piano ersatz at the time, meaning it had more to do with the artists than the tools. He could go around town and incapacitate them.
Scratch that, they were too many, and how the hell would he explain that to the cops should he get caught?
“Hello, a musical genocide was about to happen, I stopped it by breaking the fingers of some kids around town. Give me a medal.”
Interesting situation, awful plan. He would be in prison, the musicians would heal or Bourkas would replace them and the massacre would happen. They were kids, he couldn’t harm them even if he wanted to.
He needed to stop them, and he needed evidence solid enough that his colleagues would leave him alone. The case rested on an nonexistent criminal and lacked convincing suspects. Freddy turned off the water and dried his head. He sneezed. On top of it, he was catching a cold.
Let’s start again: stop the music, find a clue good enough to convince the hierarchy. The first half could be achieved in numerous ways, only limited by his fantasy. The second half was something else, what they found in the archives was too esoteric and inconclusive, it would be enough alright but only after they had all expired.
He wondered how they would be found. The spectators would probably have burned skin the hands, born from uninterrupted applause. Or the opposite, they would all be found stiff, as if they still listened long after the curtains had fallen. The violinists would have burned fingers, desiccated from the intensity of the play and the lighting.
Of course, there it was. He went back to the computer room and roused a machine from its slumber. The archives held the answer: fed by force, near syncope, bloody hands. There he had the solution, but it relied on perfect timing.
He went back to the toilets and looked into his eyes, to convince himself and build up strength. The orchestra would play, he would let them. Let’s say two hours and a half, by then the first signs would have appeared and the madness will be apparent.
That, and he hoped it would weaken Hyacinth and limit the threat he posed. Listeners would be in bad shape but still alive. Risky, but worth it. He walked to the armory and presented the badge:
“Good day, I need a few things.”
The bored cop let him in without looking up from his magazine. Freddy let creativity decide which toys to bring this evening.