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Why Not You? 3: First Place, Ernesto Rodriguez

Sonata Di Nocturne

By Ernesto Rodriguez

They'd arrived in the late afternoon. Through backwater and muck and rot.

The doors were shut with padlock and chain, though the lock itself has rusted and corroded and was shot.

Rainn moved forward holding gun outward, ready to pull while the others kept sight of what they could in the long grown weeds and grass and moss.

The sun was a dark orange above dark clouds and the air smelled of sweetness and putrefaction. Cars lined the streets in rusted abandonment. Some burned and others with their glass long shattered and insides ransacked like rats the tiny ants peeled and quartered. The buildings were a sight of moss and blood and more broken glass. Doors on the ground and bodies lying around. Bags and trinkets and objects and memories littered all the way to the steps of the Theater they were entering.

With a quick jolt and gripping tug, the lock gave way and the chain slid down, the linked snake it was with a hard mess of tangled iron.

The doors opened and Rainn and the others cautiously moved one by one into the Bright Hearth.

There were four of them. Rainn, Olea, Finne, and Bazz.

Rainn spoke softly to the others, "Alright, we made it this far, yeah? I told you, couple hours east through Big City and we're here."

Finne responded, "Yeah and no obstructions or enemies."

"I'd say we got lucky, yeah?", Rainn responded quietly.

"We'll stay the night," Bazz stated. He was the oldest of the four but not by much.

"So," a shy voice said, it was Olea, "w-where is it?"

"Well seeing as how this is your first trip out, I'll show ya," Rainn answered.


"Finne and I will check upstairs for any unwanted guests and you and Olea will check ground floor here, okay Bazz?"


Only a few eternal minutes passed and in that time, the four managed to clear every room, check every window and opening and see every spot something could hide in the dark only to rise from the shadows with blade or claw or gun.

Rainn and Finne reached a door that was locked. In big spray painted letters, black on a the red door, it read in its faded Visage 'Theatre A Control'.

"We're here, it seems."

"Finally, yeah?"

They entered quietly, keeping eyes wide and vigilant.

The room was filled with various pieces of equipment and three seats. There were lenses on the backwall for the two cameras and lights pointed outward. Beside them on the sidewall, a control board stretched from end to end with little bits of masking tape for each light in the room and out in the Theater above the seats.

A corpse lie by the board, sprawled and almost completely rotted away. The shirt was stained black and smothering the shirt on his back. It hadn't moved in some time and the dust covered it completely.

They made small steps inside. Feet stamping slowly and silent, cautious and ready. Dust bellowed off inches above their feet with every footfall.

Only silence met them. The corpse didn't shift.

Rain reached the corpse first and he became disgusted with the sludge that poured out of its body some time ago.

"Maybe months. Years even."

He put a pair of gloves on and pulled the body by its shoulders and it made bone split and its lower half fell next to the seat.

Finne ignored the sounds and the smell. She looked outward to the Theater seats and the stage.

Red seats and tan walls. At the center, the seats were separate and a deep violet floor led the way to the unpolished steps of the stage. There were instruments on their stands and sheet music scattered over the floor. Even in dim light, Finne could see more bodies on the seats and on the stage and on the floors.

The shadow swallowed them whole, it seems.

Olea contained herself as much as she could but, Bazz saw the excitement. Her eyes widened and she lingered in some rooms. Though this may not be her home, music is what sheltered her.

She was a concert musician back home. Classically trained and adamant in her lovely use of her Violin. She played with world renowned musicians and performed music from composers long into legend.

But they weren't her group.

Though she loved traveling and she loved performing for concert halls, she'd always loved home. And she'd always thought of her family on the stage who she's played with for years.

And even now, she misses them. Misses her violin.

Bazz walked ahead of her, making quick moves and hurried steps toward the last doors left. Golden handles and floral carved wood at the end of the hall with golden rails and sconces of broken bulbs and sludge coated walls.

They opened effortlessly in a quick swing, locking themselves in place with floor placements slapping onto the longer bits of copper lining just under the carvings.

They walked into the hall so meticulous and beautiful. Even with the dust and the decay and the rot.

Finne and Rainn oversaw their entrance and everyone looked as Olea immediately went to the stage. She almost sprinted all the way through the halls and the soft echoes of steps became loud clumsy thus.

But she stopped at the steps.

Suddenly, as a wind would come from nothing, she became elegance. She became poise.

She became power.

She became herself.

Olea made her way careful to not disturb the other instruments. Careful to not disrespect the meaning. The memory.

She stopped beside the piano and touched the keys with a shaky hand. A single loud note filled the room and everyone became tense and attentive.

Olea walked further and stopped once more at an empty seat. A violin case lay beside it. Her hands still shaky and her nerves overtaking, she grasped the case and opened it.

The case did it's work and protected it. It's maple finish still glowing and sleek. The strings were beautiful and firm. She plucked another note and she could tell it was perfect, but not to her adjustments. Still, it was a full sound.

The bow was beside it and it's horse hair was bound and sealed perfectly. A small tin or rosin was placed in a fitted hole under the bow.

Through instinct and memory, she rosined the bow proper and she tuned the violin, ever careful and respecting.

Olea took the instrument and walked to the center of the stage and everyone looked on in kind patience.

Bazz took a seat at the front while Finne and Rainn stood at the opening above, waiting and smiling.

Olea took a breath and began.

It was an original piece from before that Mr. Leigh created one frantic and happy night outside his home with his wife and kids beside him, all enjoying the moonlight and peace.

She played beautifully through a soft start that danced as she swayed in motion. The sound swelled and though Olea began alone, she could hear the room come to life with the faces of her friends onstage and the sounds they brought with them.

The piano joined and Mrs. Lilly played on key, accompanying her violin, following the notes and the movements in loving unison. Mrs. Lilly was strong and hard headed, ways staying behind to practice more and follow closely to what Olea would play.

Another violin joined the swell and Mr. Gren smiled his old smile. He'd always brought candies to rehearsals and he always offered them to his band mates like he would his grandchildren. It was sometimes hard to understand him but he did his best and always figured nobody would dislike him if he offered sweets. But, he was always kind to everyone and he was always loving to his own family. He played with professional prose and he harmonized well.

A third violin came to life and as did Ms. Nina, an older woman as well, spoke softly and translated for Mr. Gren with a smile when she could. She was a housewife and widowed and everyone here became her family. They'd visit often, even during the off times inbetween. Sometimes for dinner and many other times just to speak over coffee and bread. She found purpose here and in that purpose, she became an incredible violinist, even surpassing Olea. But she loved seeing the young woman beside her and cared more for following the loving flow of music.

Davis the percussionist stood firm above his drumset that he wouldn't let anyone touch, always eloquent, always superstitious. He waited with nose turned up to play his drums or quickly change to cymbals and bells. He kept his sticks in the bag beside him and switched effortlessly to whatever jump needed to be made. But he always smiled and he always looked on to the crowd.

Right in front of him, both Mia and Jenna began playing their Cellos slowly making their sound known and entering the union. They were siblings and the youngest. Their parents pushed them to playing classical music but their hearts were somewhere else at first. Everyone could tell and made their time here as fun and accomplishing as possible. And they in turn, did their best. They became incredible musicians and close to Ms.Nina, visiting her the most. She was always sweetest to them and loved them dearly to no end.

And next, the trumpeter joined the song and Mr. Shaw was emptying his spit chamber onstage again. It's something he always forgot until the absolutely last possible moment and he always quickly emptied the chamber, chuckling and looking at everyone else who in turn looked at him. He readied his fingers in almost arthritic quickness and played his heart out for his wife who sat in the crowd with caring emerald eyes.

Finally, Miss Anya entered with her old clarinet she inherited from her grandfather. He showed her the beauty of symphony and taught her what he knew. Miss Anya kept her eyes on the sheets and always followed as she played gracefully. And she missed him dearly, always hoping to see her grandfather on the front row.

Everyone played beautifully in Olea's mind and she felt every note in her heart. They all sat behind her, playing passionately. The room to her, was filled with the sounds each of the instruments played and the memories of the people who played them.

The coffee. The practices. The recitals. The laughs. The passion. The crowd. The moments. The love.

This kind remembrance helped her play as if she'd never forgotten. As if her fingers never lost their placements and the sounds her instrument made flew through the echo of the Theater and the echo of her joy.

And the song ended. And they all faded back into the obscurity and into the wind. And she cried.

Bazz, did his best to keep composure but he let out tears as well.

Rainn and Finne made their way down to the stage, not saying a word. Only thinking of the joy they felt hearing her play today.

The sun went away and now the moon glimmered, lighting the dark and broken streets outside. Glowing eyes opened and strange creatures crawled from their hibernation and their shadow.

Something bigger came from the south. It was formless and had eyes of a deep yellow and black. Tendrils pulsing from the body and it led the strange creatures in its own vile song.


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