(Friday the 11th of November)
On his run through the city, well before the deadline that would run out at midnight, Arnold had run into Tepic who had been outside of the Imperial Theater, the urchin was rather happy if dutiful, “‘ello Mr Arnold!”
“Hello Tepic, I’ve been meaning to ask you a few things…do you have the time right now?”
“Errrr… sure Mr Arnold, was just thinking…been reading the Book… yer know, if they cuts to the right here, an goes through Bolyai Plaza, they might get through….”
Arnold frowned at the young urchin, planning an escape from there might be the worst thing they could do, “Tepic…your enemies could be reading the book just as you are. They could easily plant a bomb in the Imperial now, meant to go off when you’re all in there.” Or just have those giant monsters smash it to bits once everyone was inside. “You can’t do anything the book said you would do.”
“But if they do that, then THEY change the story, which is going bout right for em…..” Tepic argued.
“It would go even better for them if they change a few things, such as what I just said.” Arnold was vaguely reminded of how such suggestions had been actually implemented by a madman once so he spoke this softly…although if they did listen to him all they would destroy was a building. “Don’t assume we’re the only ones being influenced by the story.”
“If they change it.. and we don’t do what it says… errrr… well… then it’s just a story an not true? So no point worrying bout it is there?”
“Oh there is, we’re learning a few details that help,” the appearance of the crab creatures would have probably had more casualties and caused more confusion than if the book hadn’t forewarned about them. “But we can’t assume any of you should gather at the Imperial, that’s too clear a target now.”
“But…. it ain’t gonna happen like in the Book…. then…?”
“Some of us have already changed our futures slightly. Maybe not much, but we’ve diverted at least a little.” Arnold said while looking at Tepic’s parachute. True the fox might have been wearing one anyways when he boarded that ship, but because of the writer he had donned it earlier than he’d have ever had reason to otherwise. That was just for starters.
“Heheh yep! i’m wearing a parachute, so if i’m on the Iccarus, then i can jump ter safety!”
“Exactly, you’ve changed the story already. That means the story can be altered slightly, and you can be killed earlier than the Icarus.”
“Nice everything is going to work ou… eh?” Tepic looked at Arnold, only now understanding what he’d implied. “‘d rather not get killed, who would keep an eye on the vole traps?” Tepic paused for a moment and then added, “Though Evie seems happy ehough, an that Metier chap is having a great time since he died…”
“Speaking of him…” Arnold opened with as he got to his secondary point, “Do you know about…Losses his head? Or rather the man in the red room?”
“ummmm… not really…. heard somthing bout some bloke as was doing some odd stuff…” Tepic said with a shrug.
“In life Metier may have allowed him into his head when he let all those other things he says have a hold on him.” He remembered that conversation they’d all had about it back in July that it could have been possible, and the subsequent conversations after that. “Anyways, I know first hand the mayors reaction to the name of….loose. Perhaps if we tell him about their connection we’ll have a better chance of getting his attention.”
They didn’t come to any conclusions about the idea, and he hadn’t told anyone else, but he was going to in the near future when he had the time. They’d also spoken about his…wall problem but that hadn’t come to anything. It was the first part of his conversation that had led him here tonight waiting at the tram station. They needed to do things which there was no way they would have ever done originally…and there was no way he’d have agreed to meet with Henri alone at the time specified since no one had been available to come with him.
Maddox was in Mondrago, Heliotrope was still commuting in between, and Blackberry didn’t need any more exposure to the man who had once shot the rabbit in his own hospital. He had spoken with Dr. Sonnerstein about meeting with the spirit, but nothing came of it, and he didn’t have the time to round up anyone else.
So there was one thing that Arnold knew for certain, beyond any doubt…if the Writer hadn’t come then he would have never attended this meeting today under these circumstances, because he would have never had the reason to do something he hadn’t before.
The one thing that worried him about this still was the fact that Henri could still be the one that they couldn’t possibly believe that they were warned about. Others, like Tepic, had dismissed the possibility on the grounds no one would have ever believed him in the first place, but that wasn’t entirely true. The mayor had been missing the entire month of July and beyond, and there were many others who had been missing or away from Babbage and had only just returned. It was more than possible that they had no clue even now who he was…Bookworm might not have been the only one to vanish…the streets did seem more empty now and it wasn’t necessarily just people evacuating.
Arnold knew that this could just be leading him to a death or doom he hadn’t previously undergone, but if they were to change something they had to actually change something. Also, everything they learned about Metier was one step closer to possibly being rid of him.
Metier arrived, later than he’d said he would, and he spoke with his usual giddiness through a chuckle, “Ahhh, so your curiosity got the better of you did it?”
“If you have a point, get to it.” Arnold demanded.
“Oh, you really do need to calm down once in awhile. Your journal had been full of so many rants, I’m surprised you don’t have gray hair!”
“The. POINT.” Arnold stressed, trying to control the anger at the dead man’s taunts.
Henri tossed his head and turned back from the direction he came from, “Sorry, no point tonight. Just a crack.” The apparition chuckled once again and Arnold growled as his frustration grew, and he barely managed to ask him what in perdition he was talking about. The ghost replied, “Well, come along, or else you’ll never understand!”
Arnold followed him across the tracks, there was no sign of the Pennyfarthing Boys at the time, though he doubted they’d have done anything with a ghost present and he had so far managed to elude them on his own. They made their way across to the hotel, next door to the sound of music and dancing, and went to a wall in the back and Arnold saw something glowing. He stared at it confused for a few moments, wondering what it was…
“Well, what do you see?” Henri asked him.
Arnold stared at the crack on the wall, and he thought he saw something deep inside it. As he stared he started to feel something within him shifting, he had only felt like this once…while he had been knocking on Bookworms back door and had felt as if something new was behind her house that hadn’t been there before, “A….a….crack?”
Henri chuckled, the music next door might as well have stopped existing for the two of them, “Take a deeper look, see beyond just the crack.”
Arnold tried to turn his head back to look at Henri, but he couldn’t. He couldn’t even close his eyes as he looked deeper and deeper into the schism upon the wall, and it felt like it was drawing him in…no it felt more like what was within was drawing into him. He could barely move now, though he could feel something within him shifting, and to his horror he realized Id was helping it.
“See time, and space, and the realms beyond. See everything. And then do try to hold on.” Henri began to laugh, and while he did Arnold did see beyond just this crack in reality. There was nothingness there, something which could erase an ordinary man from existence…but far beyond that he could also gaze beyond the realms of time and space, he was seeing things, impossible things, impossible realms outside the sphere of their reality.
His worst fear, the one he’d had ever since childhood when he’d first woken up covered in some other cats blood, the fear he’d always had of himself while he slept, was becoming a reality. He managed to let out a scream of terror as he felt it’s jubilation as something within him which had held him in place for so long snapped, and he felt himself shift outside of time and reality.
The crack in the wall sat there, having been the catalyst for Arnold’s shift, not the method.