10:30 p.m. in a pitch black night, the music had played long enough.
A bomb has been planted in the Pierre Mendes France sports hall, they will all die if you don’t find it soon. Good luck.
Freddy joined a picture of the long line of people still trying to enter an over-filled amphitheater and another of the contraption in front of him for added bonus.
It was a dummy, his skills in bomb-making were null but he had the handicraft to make a convincing fake based on files he dug up at the commissariat. A stupid trick, but no police force in the western world could ignore the threat without risking legal proceedings against them.
Doubts he had had faded as the evening went on, the faces showed that his course of action was right. Ecstasy filled the air as the silent spectators entered a state of trance and stood petrified, barely breathing.
Only a few employees moved around like puppets with hollow eyes, carrying pieces of furniture to God knows where.
The entry had been a trifling matter, he had spotted a procession going up the construction zone and entering through the roof, he followed suit. Curious and suspicious looks welcomed him but no hostility so far.
He had hoped the overcrowding would provoke violence but none happened, at least it gave him an easy window to break in. His high spirit came crashing down when he realized it was more of a curse than a boon.
He felt the stun grenade hanging from his belt, it would have been easy to overcome a guard and throw one in the amphitheater, but an army of reverie induced people stood in his way, and they would not welcome him trying to interrupt the show. Only one path left with an opening on the scene: the reserve. The door was guarded, thankfully not by Hyacinth, only a wide eyed behemoth.
Behemoth or not behemoth, a taser to the gut made no difference. Freddy was in no mood to put his modest diplomatic skills to the test, he cuffed him for good measure.
A murmur rose behind him, some had broken out of their trance and realized they could go for the reserve to be closer to the sound. He wished Hyacinth good luck to find him in the growing mob.
He passed a pile of costumes, the empty spot reserved for the piano and came in sight of the scene lights. The silent husks took no notice of him, it would all be over soon.
One husk moved faster than the lot, too fast. Freddy cocked his pistol and took aim.
Too late, Hyacinth rammed him and knocked his gun away. They wrestled on the ground, a flash of metal missed his face by an inch. He bit down on the hand and drew blood, the cleaver fell, both fighters broke away and took their distance.
Just a few meters more would be enough, only one obstacle stood in his path, colder than ever.
“I cannot let you through,” Hyacinth said.
“Are you ready to die for it?”
He seemed almost apologetic now.
“Yes. You don’t see things my way, I know that and am sorry for it, but death is irrelevant.”
“The cops are on their way, you can’t stop them as you’re stopping me.”
“Who said anything about me stopping them?”
A cold shiver went down his neck, obviously Hyacinth had foreseen his bomb shenanigan. He pictured a phone ringing and left unanswered, an officer at the other end trying to warn them and order an evacuation.
The moving puppets that displaced furniture were building barricades and blocking off every access. The police would find it and call for reinforcements, probably with a negotiator in the lot to convince them to tear down the blockade.
Too long, too late, Freddy was the only sane man with a chance to halt the slaughter before it happened.
“I will do without.”
Hyacinth shook his head in sadness.
“I’m sorry, I can’t let you do this.”
Why was this asshole nice the only time they stood on opposing sides? No answer came, Hyacinth lunged shoulder first and tackled him, Freddy stood steady on his legs and locked the bull’s head with his arms.
He kneed the exposed torso, once, twice, a grunt accompanied the snapping sound of a rib. He softened his grip too early, a push suddenly lifted him from the ground and he came crashing down a second after. Groggy, he just made out his foe in the darkness sitting on him
“I did not want to do this, believe me.”
A fist landed on his face, his nose broke again.
“You and I bear no importance compared to what is happening.”
His chin split, blood burst from his lips.
“I take no joy in this.”
Blood ran into his eyes, blinding him, his body went limp. Hyacinth sat on him for a moment, bemoaning a life that needed not be lost.
“What a waste.”
Hyacinth turned his head towards the music, towards beauty, unaware that the downed man had a hand still moving.
A burning sensation went from his eyes to his brain, a bloodied Freddy pushed him off, holding a pepper spray in one hand. With the other he grabbed a baton and went at it, hitting in rage and pain.
He bludgeoned to his hearts content, marking flesh and breaking bones until fatigue brought him on his fours.
They lay there, panting, grunting, surrounded by unaware spectators. Hyacinth coughed out a tooth, his face was unrecognizable.
“This didn’t have to happen.”
“You can’t stop me now.”
“I don’t have too.”
Freddy looked up and hope died in his heart. The crowd had massed and filled the access between the reserve and the scene, a wall of flesh tantamount to suicide stay in front and behind him, too many to knock out with a stun grenade.
He imagined the kids on scene, dead from exhaustion. He bit down on his lips and got up, he might as well die trying.
Forcing his way into the mass, he panted forwards as resistance increased. Marionettes, lifeless a moment before, found strength to resist his advance and turned to face him, eyes full of rage. The advance was slowed to a crawl until he was trapped.
Freddy went for his grenade, it was his last decision. The crowd teared him to peaces, biting and clawing into him. They kept going long after he had expired.
Hyacinth contemplated the lump of meat, last remains of a man he had worked with long ago, his name already forgotten. It was a shame, they did not feel the same love, conflict was inevitable.
He wished they could have parted in peace, or maybe he had started the fight? It was of no consequence now. The strange man he had met in these very walls left similar remains.
He commanded the listeners to make way until he saw her, her red robe, how she vibrated with the sound and how the keys vibrated back, as if her admirer felt the love. Charles was closer to her than he could have ever been in life.
Morgan played, alone or in a group, in sync or in cacophony, she ignored it and didn’t care. She did not stop, did not look up, she was one with music, she would never stop.
They listened, too many to fit inside the hall. Those that stayed on the windy roof hummed and danced to scraps of sound, half-heard and half-imagined. The seated guests nodded in rhythm, barely breathing. Many cried, overcome with melancholia and regrets spoken in music.
Jonathan's neighbor lowered his head, the body soon followed, the crowd stood so compact that the departed could not rest on the ground, Jonathan saw life leaving his eyes with a sense of pride. A trumpeter sat on his chair motionless.
He checked his own pulse, barely there. A surge from a clarinet got a tear out him, one too much for his weakened heart. Bourkas had seen paradise and died happy.
Beside the music, Hyacinth only noticed breaths, or rather its absence. In the reserve, a few meters away from the musicians and hidden by a curtain, he heard death.
Hundreds of bodies, only a few could be considered living. The scene was no different, only a handful still played. Hyacinth clapped to mark the rhythm, the pain in his bloody hand forgotten.
He clapped, there was no lesson, no epiphany, only music. A minute later he caught up that he, too, wasn’t breathing. He had simply forgotten to. He was dying. All the better, it was a good death.
Morgan's fingers pushed the keys but her entire body played, her sense sharpened and her joy endless. She felt every note reverberating in the amphitheater, as if she played alone, cut off from the rest of the world.
On a calmer piece, she tried to perceive other instruments but none was to be heard. She looked around, she was the only one left alive. Seats, stairs and scene formed a graveyard of which she played the eulogy. No support, no public, only the respectful silence was wrapped around her.
She burst into an innocent laugh, played a last note and collapsed on her piano, her music, her love.
The final curtains. They had all died. From this mass grave rose a light wind, running between fingers and dancing in the hairs.
There was a bit of Hyacinth in this wind, as well as a bit of Morgan, of Jonathan and of every lover in it. It left discreetly, crossing hallways littered with the dead, some still standing. It passed horrified policemen who had witnessed dancers falling from the roof as they tried to force the passage.
A gust of wind caught it, carrying it far away, across lands and rivers, until it found a closed window with a teenager playing the flute inside. Badly, but with such passion.
Charlotte put her hair back into place and checked her window, it was closed tight. Strange, where else could that breeze had come from?
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