The rain poured heavily across the roads of Pawn St. and Chasseur Ave. Most of the stores that spanned these twin streets remained closed until the early signs of dawn. This projected the perfect setting for any miscreant deeds or nasty schemes. Though, a picture such as this, was not about to take place, as a young woman made her way to the famous, or infamous-depending upon the individual-world stage of the Theatre of Casper and Melody.
She drove under the mileage speed to avoid attracting any unwanted attention, as she quickly made her way to the theatre. It wasn't long, before she finally arrived at her destination. Opening her umbrella wide, to keep the rain from soaking her, she closed the car-door behind her, and walked up the steps into the lavish theatre.
She used her employee keycard to obtain access into the theatre's main hall. Her heels echoed through the corridors, bouncing forth-and-back as she made her way into the vanity room. She assumed the person she had come to see, would meet her there—as he always had.
"Tai?" she called into air, while knocking on the door that led into the room. She waited a few seconds before knocking again. "Tai?" she called out again. "You there?" She remained put until she was sure no one was in the room, before opening the door. She peered inside, only to find it empty. She walked inside. "Hmm…," she sighed. "I knew he wouldn't be here. What the hell was I thinking coming here?" She let out a breath of hot air, before sitting down on the only type of seat available—the vanity stool chairs.
The room had been decorated to resemble a royal chamber, with streaks of gold and red permeating the room and its interior design. Across the room were vanities, mirrors and other intricate objects placed about. The dressing room was past this one, juxtaposed to serve as a convenience.
Sora looked around, before allowing her focus to fall on the mirror directly in front of her. She gazed at the woman staring back at her: red hair, crimson eyes, and a golden tan from playing tennis throughout the years. "Oh, man." She gasped. "Do I need to get a haircut." She had noticed the long hair flowing down her shoulders. She made a promise to herself two years ago to grow her hair long, after some of her friends teased her about it being too short.
That's when she heard it; a thud coming from the dressing room. She quickly stood up in frenzy, startled by the sudden noise. She made her way to entrance of the dressing room, creeping in slowly. "Anyone in here?" she shouted aloud into the open space, after opening the door. No one answered. She peered around a little, tapping the walls, until she could find the light switch.
Click! She walked inside. The walls were painted a lilac-color, while the carpeting was a darker-shaded white. Racks of clothes, dressers, jewelry stands, and some closet-doors decorated the interior of the room.
She looked around, searching for anything that could have made the thudding sound. She stopped when she noticed a pair of small toys in the upper corner of the room. "That's strange," she remarked, while holding a pair of twin dolls in her hands. "What are these doing here? They're supposed to be in the props storage." She gazed at the dolls in her hands, wondering how they got there. The dolls resembled miniature children: a little boy dressed in cargo jeans and plaid shirt, and a little girl in a polka-dot dress.
She rattled the dolls for a while, before sitting down near a corner-space. She placed the dolls on her lap, then held her head in her hands. "What am I doing?" she grumbled. I'm losing it, aren't I? She closed her eyes to think, but quickly opened them when she heard a noise come from the vanity room. She froze. She knew she wasn't want the type to be easily frightened, but considering the fact that her nerves were still tense from the previous thud, she couldn't help but feel a bit roused.
The noise continued to sound in the other room, causing her to push against the wall. It crept closer and closer. She dropped the dolls on the floor, while quickly standing. She made a motion to run to the door and lock it, but was stopped by a hand that suddenly grasped her from behind. She turned to face whoever grabbed her. Her eyes grew wide. "Tai," she yelped. He placed a hand over her mouth, before she could say anything else. She saw him place a finger on his lips, as a gesture to be quiet. She nodded her head, and followed him, as he walked over to the closet space.
"Come here," he whispered to her. She obeyed, and walked over to where he was standing. "I need you to go up there," he whispered, while pointing to the ceiling above. The noise in the other room continued to sound, sending chills down both their spines.
She looked up, and then back at him. "I don't understand what's happening," she suddenly questioned. "Why are we—," he placed a hand to her mouth again.
"I'll explain once we get out of here," he whispered. "But for now, we have to go." He stood on top of a leveled bar, sticking out from the closet space, and pushed on the ceiling's vent cover. He breathed a sigh of relief, when the cover came off easily. "Here," he whispered, while holding out a hand for her to take. "I'll help you up."
She hesitated. The noise continued to rattle in the other room, quickly sending another chill down her spine. She shook her head, before grasping his hand. "Are you sure this is safe?" she questioned him. He nodded back at her. "Okay, whatever you say Tai," her voice sounding unsure. She climbed on top of another pole sticking out, and picked herself up. He held onto her tight, as he pushed her up the vent-space. "Wait, she whispered back, once she was on top of the vent. "What'll you do?"
He stared at her in wide-eyed expression. "What do you mean, 'what am I going to do', you're going to help me up," he silently pestered.
"Oh," she remarked. She held out her hand for him to hold onto. She began to pick him up, but stopped to catch her breath. "Oh my go—," she wheezed. "Tai, you weigh so much." She let go of his hand, rubbing her fingers, before trying again.
He pushed her hand away. "Oh, just forget it. I'll push myself up," he countered. He reached up to the vent, holding on tight to the vent's inner floor-layer, while pushing himself up. It took him a while before he was able to squeeze himself through the medium-sized hole. "Quick!" he muttered, angry at the expression on Sora's face. She had been silently laughing at him for not being able to fit easily through the vent-hole. "Just, shut up and help me find the cover for the vent."
She was ready to counter, but stopped when she heard the door to the room open. Her eyes widened. She looked down, but couldn't see anyone. She gazed back at Tai, noticing him place the vent cover slowly on the hole, while being careful not to make any noise. "What do we do?" she whispered, barely audible.
He nodded back at her. "Nothing," he muttered. "We have to wait here, until he leaves." She looked back down, and he did the same. They both noticed a shadow lurking about the room, shoving racks and other things that stood in its way. It seemed to be looking for something, they gathered.
Some time had passed, before the mysterious figure below finally finished its search. It was readying to leave the room, when suddenly; it heard a noise coming from the ceiling. It looked up to see two pairs of eyes staring back at it.
Tai held his hand to his mouth, after he accidently sneezed. It was no use, because the figure below had noticed them.
"Great, Tai," Sora shouted at him, not caring whether the strange figure was in the room or not. She figured since they were caught, she could at least scold him before anything got ugly.
The figure began to walk in their direction, shoving anything aside once more. It seemed persistent.
Tai and Sora made a motion to turn and crawl further into the vent, but were stuck where they were, because the vent was not large enough to let them advance.
"We have to do something now, Tai," Sora screamed at him. The figure must've heard her, because it quickly climbed the leveler-pole, reaching out to grab them.
Tai and Sora moved back as much as they could to avoid its hand.
Tai tried kicked the hooded figure's hands, but the lower part of his jean was caught by it. "Let go, you son of a bitch," he yelled. The figure pulled him over, surprising Tai with its incredible strength.
Sora tried her best to hold onto Tai's hands as the figure pulled him through the vent, but she couldn't seem to find the strength to pull him up. "Tai," she screamed.
"Its okay, Sora," he whispered," I got a plan." He shot a wink at her, before letting himself get pulled down.
"Tai," she screamed again. She looked over the vent, and saw him land on top of the mysterious figure. "Tai," she yelled after him.
"Sora," he cried, getting up quickly. "Jump down, I'll catch you."
She giggled a little, while readying herself. Only Tai would use his body as a weapon, she thought, before jumping down. She was caught by him. They both looked at each other, their faces growing red. "Oh, well… ugh…," she stammered.
He blushed, but quickly put her down, before she could notice. The figure shuffled beside them, readying to stand. "Come on," he yelled, we have to get out here before this creep gets up again," he ordered, while pointing to the figure.
She nodded, and then quickly followed him, but stopped short, to look back. That's when she noticed it. Why hadn't I seen it before? She thought. She stared at the figure on the ground, finally seeing its face for the first time— except, only one problem. "Tai look!" she gasped, while pointing at the seemingly-hooded figure.
Tai stared back at the figure, while eyeing where she was pointing. His face matched hers in expression, as his horrid look revealed what he was thinking. The figure before them was faceless. "What the fuck—," he breathed. "What the hell's going on here?!" he shouted. The figure began to stand.
They both ran out of the room, quickly locking the door that stood between the vanity room, and the inner clothing chamber, before running out into the expanse of the main hall. "Where to?" Tai shouted.
Sora looked around, suddenly unable to think of where the hallway to the front of the theater was located. "I- I…," she gasped. She ran her hands through her hair in panic. The main hall stretched wide and far, with eight hallways that led to different departments of the building. She looked around, before closing her eyes to think.
"Sora," he barked, "this is no time for you to stop and think. That man, or whatever he is, is going be here any second."
"Screw you Tai," she shouted back at him. She furrowed her eyes. "You came in here the same way I did, why can't you remember where to go?" she roared.
He stared at her. His face frozen.
"What?" she exclaimed.
He pointed past her.
She froze as well. There was only one reason why Tai would freeze in a moment like this, she thought. She turned around slowly, and found herself face-to-face with the faceless figure. Its face was painted gray, or so she thought.
It made a motion to grab her, but she quickly scurried under it. It seemed taller than when they were in the room. She turned around to see if it was following her, but it wasn't. It was standing still. "What the—," she stated aloud. She felt a tap on her shoulder. She quickly turned around.
"What are you doing, Sora," we have to go now," Tai yelled at her, while grabbing her from the wrist. They both ran from the main hall, and into the nearest hallway they could enter through. They ran farther in, stopping only once they stood in front of a double-door, colored red.
"This is the exit to the outer hall," she yelled excitingly. "If we keep going this way, we'll end up outside!" Her eyes lighted up, as did his. They pushed the doors open, and hurried through the main lobby, not stopping to see if the figure was following them or not. They ran a few more steps before finally emerging outside. They didn't stop, until they were on the last few steps that led into the theatre. They turned back to look, only to find no one behind them.
"Wh- whe- wh… where'd he go?" Tai shouted, while holding his hands to his knees for support. He was panting from all the running they had done.
Sora, who stood beside him, had equally been panting. She stopped to catch her breath, before speaking. "I- I don't know," she breathed. "I think, he may still be inside." She stopped to look at him. "Didn't you notice," she started, "how he stood still in the main hall? Like he was frozen or something?"
He nodded to her, moving his head left and right. "I didn't focus on him, Sora. I was to busy trying to get away." He stopped panting, and stood erect again. He let out a breath of relief. "Whoo, man I can't believe what just happened," he cried. He grinned at her. "I was scared out of my ass back there," he joked. "I thought we were goners or something. Thank goodness I was ther—," he stopped, when he felt the air leave him.
She had elbowed him in the stomach. "This isn't funny, Tai," she screamed. "We could have been killed. Were you there when that creep was charging after us? It's like he was on a mission or something," she shouted at him, while pointing back to the theatre.
"Jeez, calm down Sora," he snapped, still holding his stomach from the blow. "I know what almost happened to us. I was there remember?" He placed his hand on her shoulder, only to have her throw it aside.
"See, this why I can't talk to you," she screamed at him. "You never take anything serious. It's always fun and games with you."
He beamed at her. "Well, sorry for trying to lighten things up, Sora," he retorted. "I was just trying to make us feel better. After what just happened… I don't know, I guess I just thought…," his voice trailed. He ran his hand through his hair. He didn't know what to say to her.
"That's just the thing," she spoke in a monotone voice. "You never think. Not lately you haven't. Just like at Matt's concert. You're always acting so… indifferent around me." she said the last words slowly.
"What the hell's that supposed to mean?" he asked irritably. She had officially put him in a fowl mood.
She breathed a long sigh, before speaking. "When we were at Matt's concert, Tai, you sort of were acting… weird." She found it hard to say the last part. "At first, I thought you had gotten drunk or something, but then Kari told me that you don't drink, so I thought that someone must've spiked your drink or something. I didn't really think too much on it. I don't know, whatever," she hurried herself. "Point is, when we were at the party, you started… saying things."
He stared at her, lowering his eyes. "What sort of things?" he softly spoke.
"You," she began, but stopped herself short, rethinking about how she was going to say it. She walked over to her car and opened the door, motioning for him to enter. "Not here," she told him. "Let's go back to my apartment, we can talk there."
He looked at her surprised.
"Isn't that why told me to come here?" she asked, while staring back at the theatre.
He looked to where she was facing, and then back at her. "No," he confessed. "I needed to show you something."
She smiled at him. "You can show me some other time." She walked over to where he was standing, taking his hands into hers. "Besides, we have a few things to talk about other than what happened at Matt's concert." She stated, while eyeing the front of the entrance to the theatre.
He gave her a weak smile. "Okay," he whispered softly, his fowl mood suddenly dissipated. He let go of her hand, and watched as she walked back to her car, following close behind. As he was preparing to enter the car, he looked back at the theatre, gazing at the golden building. "I won't be able to show you later, Sora," he whispered, closing his eyes, as the words escaped his lips. He opened them to read the words sprawled across the theatre's public display board: The Theatre of Casper and Melody, looking under the words to read on: and the famous play of Her Royal Highness - The Vanity of Mary and Her Marionette.
"Mary," he silently murmured. He looked at Sora, who was busy fixing her car seat to accommodate him, before speaking again. "Good-bye, my love," he mumbled, before entering the car.
As Sora drove off, he looked one more time at the theatre, from his side-door mirror, as it faded away in the distance. He felt a tear trickle down the side of his cheek, but quickly wiped it before Sora could notice it. He smiled at her, and she smiled back, as the sun rose, bringing on the dawn of the new day.