The Control, Chapter 1

The control

A city of pathways, doors, tunnels and windows. People think they hold power when they hold a key. That it keeps them safe, protects their loved ones and holds their treasured possessions but they couldn’t be more wrong. In this world a door is left open for a reason and every key is given for a purpose.

The puddles sat wide and gaping, reflections of the gloomy sky above.  Little droplets pelted down on his armour with a deep plodding sound.  It had never occurred to the guard that the door that was so heavy and old, which stood behind him and all his companions each day, might hold something curious. A hidden figure watched as the guard raised a gauntleted hand and wiped a few drops from his brow. The rain came thick and heavy, just a few more minutes before he changed over. Coal waited, drenched, his wet clothes like an extra layer of skin. As the guard shifted Coal picked up a bucket slowly and tossed it a good distance down the courtyard. The clatter of metal resounded through the rain, the guard turned sharply toward the sound and left to investigate. As he walked forward cautiously, Coal crept through the sheets slowly behind him and reached out to his waist, slipping a key from a pouch there. He turned without even glancing back and opened the door moving swiftly inside and locking it behind him. He crouched pressing his ear to the door and slid the key underneath. The rain beat down with a rhythmic drumming. The footsteps stopped as the guard reached the bucket left abandoned rain ricocheting off it as it lay helpless on its side, he grunted.

The Guard returned, his footsteps heavy with purpose to find his key on the ground.  He cursed picking it up. Just then another guard called out to the first for the changeover. It was all so perfectly timed that Coal dared to even breathe. He had taken the risk of coming here not even knowing if there was a way out. There was no space beyond his reach; he could scale the highest walls, picking locks, always staying on the tail end of the beast. Coal had a reputation to uphold and he’d heard the whispers of this door so deep in the high imperial courts that it couldn’t be reached by any quick fingers, as his brothers were known to each other. Coal looked around he was crouched in a dark corridor with no light other than the crack of the door behind him. He looked into the endless darkness and straightened, moving forward slowly he felt along the walls and floor. The imperialists often set traps for fingers like himself. His entire body dripped, he shook his head, Coal like his name had black hair and deep eyes, he was tall for his age and blended into any crowd. He was not so much handsome but had a more silent and disturbing air about him that made people unconsciously avoid him.  He came to the end of the corridor and felt another door in the dark, he fished out a set of hooks from a hidden pocket and began searching for the key hole. After a frustrating period of time he realised that the door didn’t have one. Stumped he searched again this time methodically running his fingers in lines across the door from top to bottom, what’s more the door was made of concrete.
“Why guard a door to a dead end corridor?” he thought.
Unperturbed Coal sat on the ground to think, for he had all the time in the world now he was here. He shifted to the side of the corridor and felt the bricks there up until they met up with the wall door feeling for any crack or crevice, finding none he did the same on the other side. The feeling of disappointment and anguish at what he might have to face if he couldn’t find a way through shot into his belly. Then his finger caught on the lip of a brick sticking out from the door wall, he spent the next two hours prying it from its place. His fingers aching and numb with cold gave the brick a final tug that sent a split of light through the darkness. Coal quickly lay down on his front and put an eye to the crevice.

The corridor continued beyond the door, lit by a dim orange glow from another door ajar on the left , a shadowy figure moved around. His humming floated through the crevice to Coal, he waited for a length and the humming drew away. Coal knew just how quickly an opportunity could be missed. He sat up and taking a grip on the brick he pushed the wall with his feet, heaving with all his might. The brick slid smoothly across the floor showing a gap just big enough to squeeze through. He lay flat on his back and began maneuvering himself, pushing the floor behind him he felt his hips hit the sides.
“Oh no, not again” he thought. He breathed in all he could and shoved himself, nothing his hips were squarely wedged. Stuck.
“Son of a b-“
He heard a scuffling behind him and looked around, nothing. He waited a moment longer before desperately trying to wiggle free in any direction. He lay down again about to push himself back when a voice said above him.
“Nasty gap that”
Coal looked up startled into the face of an old man bent over peering down his nose at Coal. He smiled showing few teeth and straightened up looking behind him, he motioned to Coal and said
“Come quickly”.
The old man wore thick lenses made from odd bits of twisted metal that made his eyes frog like, he was dressed in rags but so many layers of them it was hard to see where one set started and another ended. By this time Coal had identified him as harmless and had twisted his hips painfully through the gap. He stood up and faced the old man.
“What are you d-“
“- You must come! Come! Come!”
The old man said looking nervously down the corridor again, he moved into the lit room beckoning. His face seemed strange, lines of worry crinkled as he spoke. Coal eyed the offer and the corridor before moving slowly into the light of the door, it could be a trap but after all he was an experienced escape artist; there was no prison he couldn’t walk away from, at whatever the cost.

The room was full of boxes, barrels, hundreds of old books so large you wouldn’t think they were meant for people. The objects that adorned the sides had no order, piles of keys, bits of metal, quills, little trinkets of all kinds and various plate’s, pots and pans, all of which had fresh food in them. What a mess even the floor was covered in a layer of stuff. Coal suddenly felt the intrusive hand of the old man on his shoulder, he pushed him towards the side of the room.
“There” he said satisfied. “There will be fine, don’t move.”
He shuffled away quickly picking up objects, sweeping away papers.
He muttered “where are they…where are they?”
Looking inside boxes and barrels. Coal was about to slip away from the crazy old man when he exclaimed.
“Ahah!.. there they are!” He swivelled, a box in his hands. Made of brass gold gilding spiralled across it. Coals eyes fixed on it.
The old man drew close and opened the box. Two metal gauntlets lay inside, at first Coals excitement sank. They’d be worth something but not for the risks he’d taken.  Looking closer he noticed they weren’t like normal gauntlets, they were silver, a lace of intricate patterns. They weren’t large or bulky like soldier’s gauntlets, they were more like gloves, the metal so thin and the fingers! There were gaps between the metal on the fingers, delicately linked like a spider’s web allowing the wearer to move their hands easily. Coal picked them up without invitation and put them on.  Strangely on the palm was a clear circle of glass, held by more metal attached to the rest of the gauntlet. Entranced by their beauty he didn’t hear what the old man was babbling about.
“….you must! And do it quickly, good luck young one!”
He stepped back and held up his hands, which began to glow! The swathes of cerulean blue swept around them. Coal’s mouth gaped at him as the light grew and then he felt a sudden tug as the floor opened up beneath him. His whole body dropped
“AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!” He yelled as he fell down the black hole into nothing. The old man’s face peered after him.
“Good luck young one” he whispered.


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