Day and Night Three
There were a lot of police there when Klaus and agents arrived, and Klaus knew instinctively what had happened. It took only a minute to verify; the two policemen left to guard the castle had been murdered. Klaus and his men stood back while the police did their thing. Kopleck was also there and took Klaus aside.
"You were the last to leave here," said Kopleck. "Did you see anything?"
Klaus told him about the faces in the woods, and agents J through N confirmed this.
"There is something else," said Kopleck, and led the men from NATO inside.
Back down once more to the cold oppressive cellar they went. Kopleck didn't need to point out what was wrong. It was obvious: the floor had been dug up even more than when Klaus and his agents had left it. It looked like a dozen or so men had been digging all night. The floor was
(a yawning chasm)
about six feet lower than it had been.
"Somebody's really looking for something," observed J astutely.
"Well, it isn't here," replied M.
"Who knows?" said Klaus. "Who knows what they found."
"I do not think they found anything," said Kopleck.
Klaus turned a questioning frown to him. "Why not?"
"Well, look at the ground. It is all uneven. Suppose something had been buried, like a chest or even a skeleton. Unless the robbers purposefully turned the earth, there would be some sort of impression where the object had been packed into the earth." He swept his flashlight over the dark dirt. "I do not see anything like it. And the footprints are all relatively light. If something had been lifted out, I am sure there would be some deeper footprints."
Klaus nodded and gave an agreeing grunt.
"And speaking of footprints," continued Kopleck, "the footprint you found upstairs belonged to one of the students, an Abrum Raqarti."
Klaus ran his hand through his hair. This was more than just an anti-Semitic, anti-Turk hate crime. He had the feeling the students would have been killed no matter what their religious or national background had been.
"Major?" said N. "Should we keep digging?"
"For a little longer, perhaps," said Klaus. "I do not wish to continue in a futile task, however."
Kopleck left and soon the six of them were shirtless and sweaty, even though their breaths clouded on the chill air. Klaus fully expected Dorian to show up. The bugger would scream if he knew he missed a chance to gawk at Klaus toiling in the dirt, muscles taunt and glistening.
After a few hours of fruitless labor, Klaus called a break. "I don't think there's anything down here. Let's do some more looking upstairs."
Agent J wiped himself off with his shirt. "Looking for what? We don't know what the scholars were after, or the Neo-Nazis. For all we know, the Neo-Nazis were digging here only because we were. Maybe they think we know what we're looking for."
Klaus shrugged. "Perhaps." The dirt an his body made him itch.
"Maybe the students were just poking around. Maybe they died for nothing," said J.
"We have to keep looking," said Klaus, trying to scratch his own back. "Until we exhaust all possibilities." He took his own discarded shirt and held it by the sleeves. Then he swung it around himself side to side so that the shirt smacked him in the back, biting at the itch.
Suddenly the cellar was gone. He was in an office, richly furnished with dark oak furniture. A wall-to-ceiling bookshelf stood to his right and a golden and red Chinese rug lay beneath his bare feet. There was a dark oak desk, like a monolith, in front of a tall window through which bright daylight streamed. He was afraid of this place.
The cellar reappeared. Klaus stepped back from his men.
"Sir, are you all right?" asked J.
"You blanked out there," said M.
"Just thinking. Come on. Let's go up and eat. Did you bring lunch this time?"
"Yes sir," replied L.
While he ate, Klaus tried to recall the office. It was an office from his old parochial school. A priest's office. But whose? And why did he remember it so suddenly and vividly? And why did it fill him with fear?
Meanwhile, Dorian was searching for some answers of his own. He couldn't let go of his vision, especially now that he knew Klaus had had it too. That stubborn, unimaginative Major! Well, if he wasn't going to pay attention to the realm of the paranormal. Dorian would.
By looking in the phone book, he found a resident psychic, a woman named Madame Christine Sandler. He took a cab to her place, a little shop with a flat above it. It looked like a cozy place from the outside: red brick structure, white door, black cat on the front step, red geraniums in the window boxes. The sign out front read:
Madame Christine Sandler
Paranormal begabt, Hexe, Wahrsager
Bannen, Trunken, und Krauten
Madame Christine Sandler
Psychic, Witch, Fortuneteller
Spells, Potions, and Herbs
Little daisies and stars decorated the sign. It was cute. Dorian could practically picture the good lady herself, a cute little German hausfrau, grey-haired and plump.
He rang the bell.
The woman who answered the door was not a cute and jolly Grandmother, nor a sleek and mystical vision in black and purple. She was an ordinary, mid-thirtyish woman wearing a grey sweatshirt and denim cut-offs, and sporting a ponytail of brown hair that was falling loose.
The woman smiled. "Yes. Come in."
"I'm sorry I didn't call ahead of time."
"That's all right. I've been expecting you."
The woman laughed. "Only teasing. It's a psychic joke. How may I help you?"
"Well, I'm not sure."
She led him into a little parlor, just as cottage-pretty as the outside had been. "Have a seat," she said, motioning to a pair of comfy-looking armchairs.
Dorian sat down stiffly, feeling uncomfortable and a bit foolish. This seemed like such a ridiculous step, especially when he hardly believed in commercial witchcraft anyway.
"Um, my name is Dorian. I-I have a friend and I think he's in trouble."
Madame Sandler cocked her head. "What kind of trouble?"
"I'm not sure." He told her about the vision, his journey to Freiburg, and Klaus' matching dream.
"Tell me about this Klaus," she said when he was through.
"Oh... I have known him for years. He is bad-tempered, violent, has no sense of humor, and lives only for his job."
"And you are really quite fond of him," Madame Sandler smiled. "You radiate when you speak of him."
Dorian shrugged. "Do I? Oh, but he hates me. Still, I want to know if he's in danger or if it really was just a shared dream."
"Do you have anything of his? Jewelry, an item of clothing, anything?"
"Yes," replied Dorian. He produced a lighter which he'd kiped from Klaus' bedside table the night before. He'd seen enough shows about psychics to know they often "read" objects.
She took it and held it in one hand and closed her eyes.
"He lives with danger," she said. "All the time."
"It's part of his job, I fear."
She nodded. "He is under a lot of pressure. He thrives on it. He thinks it protects him."
Dorian sat forward, listening intently.
"There will be a cave-in," she said, "but not of an outside structure. His own inner walls are crumbling. He is afraid."
"Afraid of what? What's the matter with him?" Dorian whispered.
Madame Sandler opened her eyes. "I do not know what's behind the wall he's built, but he's soon going to find out. He can feel it. He's afraid." She handed him back the lighter.
"Oh, my poor Major!" he cried, forgetting discretion. "I've got to help him."
The psychic shrugged. "From what? Inner walls aren't healthy. They must come down. You can be there for him, but you can't prevent it from happening."
Dorian rose. "I've got to find him. He could be crumbling right now!"
Madame Sandler put a forefinger to her cheek thoughtfully. "I'd like to give him a reading."
"Tarot. I don't suppose he would--"
"Never. He utterly lacks any sort of imagination. The only fairy tales he ever believed in are the ones in the Bible, no offense."
Madame Sandler cocked an eyebrow. "I am Jewish, for the most part. I have had to reconcile my gifts of the occult and my religious upbringing. I'm only half offended. I do believe in God. Don't you?"
Dorian was surprised. She didn't look Jewish, and "Christine" was definitely not a Jewish name. Ah, but he was stereotyping...
"No. Not the Almighty Father-figure. I guess I'm mostly Pagan. Nature as god. Or goddess."
Madame Sandler smiled. "I can certainly respect that."
Dorian found her very likable. Even the slight wrinkles at the corners of her dark eyes were quite attractive. Smiles came easily to this woman, he guessed. And she felt good to be around. He wondered if all mystics, (at least the "good" ones) had this comfortable aura to them.
"Jewish, huh?" he said. "I can respect that too. My poor friend doesn't know what he is. He's the only atheist I know who prays. He was raised by nuns. God help him."
"Don't you mean Goddess?" she teased.
"God-Thing. Anyway, you must be pretty upset about the recent Neo-Nazi activities going on, huh?" He had no idea what the 'recent Neo-Nazi activities' were and was just going on what little he'd gleaned from Klaus, hoping Madame would take the line.
"You mean the killings at Castle Durdenstien? Yes, of course I am very upset. And somewhat frightened. But I do not think it's going to lead to the nationwide slaughter of the original Nazi movement. These are just a bunch of stupid boys who are looking for someone to blame for their disillusionment."
"My Klaus is working on that case. Maybe you could help! I've heard of psychics being able to solve crimes and such. Have you ever?"
The woman shook her head with a frown. "No. I personally have no interest in discovering hidden bodies or reliving someone's murder. No. I'll stick to readings and herbalism."
"I understand. Thank you for your help. I only hope I am able to help my friend." He extended his right hand.
"I do as well. Good luck." She took his hand. A bemused look crossed her face.
Dorian copied the expression. "What is it?"
She simply smiled. "Eroica? Is that your real name?"
Dorian was careful to mask his surprise. "Why no. I am the Earl Dorian Red Gloria." He took back his hand.
"Many a rare treasure has crossed those palms," she mused, almost to herself.
The Earl began to sweat. What all had she learned during that brief touch? Was there a code of secrecy among psychics?
"I will tell you what, Earl Dorian Red Gloria," she said with a gleam. "I will help your friend if you will help me."
An interesting proposition. "Go ahead."
"Well, it's sort of a reverse use for your skills. You see, I don't want anything stolen. I want something given to my son."
"Yes. I have a son. He lives with his father in America and I cannot see him. I will never see him again. This I know."
"Don't be silly. Of course you can see him. If it's just a matter of money--"
"No. It's not that. Even if I were to make it to America, his father would not let me near him. He refuses to even let me speak with him on the phone. He returns my letters unopened. That is why I need you to take something to him. Only, you mustn't give it to him directly. If Heinrich has poisoned my son's mind against me, he will not accept it."
"What is it?"
"A book. It contains photos, his ancestry, and letters I have written, things he may someday need to know, Someday, I hope, he wilt want to know me but I will not be here." Her face showed her pain but she remained admirably composed. "Perhaps you could put it in a far hidden corner of their attic, or in trust somewhere so that he won't get it until he is older and willing to listen."
"I''ll take you to him. You'll get to see him. I promise."
"I've seen my future. It is without him. It cannot be changed."
"Rubbish! You'll see."
"Do you promise to do that for me? To take him the book?"
"Sure, if I fail to reunite the two of you."
Madame Sandler smiled. "Thank you."
"There is something peculiar about the murder of the policemen," said Detective Kopleck.
Klaus unwrapped his sausage and bread and hoped whatever Kopleck had to say wouldn't be too gruesome for him to finish lunch. "What?"
"They were shot at close range from the front. That means they let the murderers approach them."
"You suggest perhaps they knew the murderers?"
"Or had little cause to fear them. People disguised as policemen or lost tourists..."
"Or NATO Intelligence," came another voice. Klaus squinted up at the figure that appeared and blocked out the sunlight.
Kopleck said, "Major von Eberbach, Kommisar Keil." Kopleck did not sound at all courteous in the introduction.
"Am I to understand that we are now suspects?" said Klaus casually, wrapping the bratwurst in the huge slab of bread.
"Not yet, but it isn't out of the question. You people were the last to leave here."
Major Von Eberbach took a big bite of sausage and bread, shrugging. There was no need to worry. He and his men were probably long since at the hotel when the murders took place.
Kommisar Keil gave Klaus a hard once-over, then shot a disdainful glare at Kopleck before striding off.
"Ignore him," said Detective Kopleck, sitting down companionably beside Klaus. "He's got a stick up his ass the size of a billiard cue."
"He's just doing his job," Klaus said through a mouthful of food. Grease dribbled down his chin and onto his dirty, bare chest. It was disgusting, but it couldn't be helped.
"By trying to get in the way of us doing ours?" said Kopleck. "He's been nothing but an obstacle to me and I'm sure if he could get away with messing with you boys, he would."
Any relation to Zeniqata? Klaus thought amusedly. Police were the same no matter where you went, he decided.
Klaus offered Kopleck half his meal. "Do you think Keil had something to do with the murders, then?"
Kopleck took the proffered sausage. "I guess it's a possibility, but I've worked a lot with him in the past. Aside from this particular case, he's been nothing but a dedicated, if obnoxious, inspector. I do not think he is a Nazi,"
Klaus ate in silence. If Kommisar Keil was going to cast aspersions on Klaus and his agents, Klaus was going to cast a few back.
"This is a wild goose chase," said Klaus later to his agents. "No one knows what the scholars wanted here or if and why they started to dig up the cellar floor. One thing we do know is that there is something someone wants to remain hidden."
The six men sat on the staircase of what used to be the castle's Great Hall. Evening sunlight shone in orange strips through the dark trees like a glowing tiger. Klaus had donned his shirt again even thought it felt gross to put clothes on a dirty body.
"Agents J, K, and L, we will stay here tonight. M and N, you two take the van back to the hotel."
"But sir," said N.
"I know it is not good to be here without transportation, but we do not want the criminals to know we are here. J, K, L and I will wait in secrecy and watch. We will be more than a match for those ignorant schoolboys."
It was final. M and N drove off before dusk, before the faces arrived. There were no police outside as per Klaus' orders. Klaus and his remaining agents went upstairs and sat behind the fallen stones along the balcony which overlooked the entrance.
It wasn't long before he heard a car approaching, crunching down the forest path towards the castle. Klaus took out his gun and crouched, peering over a huge square stone. The men followed suit.
The door creaked open slowly. The first thing Klaus noticed was the mass of curls the intruder sported, tinged Titian in the dying light. He knew immediately that it was Eroica. Behind the thief came a woman, nondescript in appearance, carrying a carpetbag.
"Oh, damn. I bet we just missed him," said Eroica.
"I don't like it here," said the woman. "This place is full of pain and hate."
"Can you sense something? The Neo-Nazis?"
"No. Past horrors. I -- I think we should go. If your friend isn't here--"
"I am here," said Klaus, standing up. "Who are you?"
Both Eroica and his companion jumped at Klaus' sharp voice.
"You know me, Darling," purred Eroica.
"Not you, idiot! The woman." He came downstairs followed by his three agents.
"Oh, where are my manners?" said Eroica with a smirk. Major von Eberbach, this is Madame Christine Sandler. Madame Sandler, this is Klaus, my friend I was telling you about."
Klaus' eyes flashed. Eroica smiled back. "And these are the Major's back-up singers, the Pips."
Agent L giggled unprofessionally.
"What are you doing here?" demanded Klaus.
"Well, Madame Sandler--"
"Christine, please," she said softly, casting a blushing smile at L.
"Thank you. Christine here is a psychic. She's going to help you on your case. Just tell her what you need to know."
"A psychic. Right," snorted Klaus.
Christine shrugged at Dorian. The Earl pushed her towards Klaus. "Go ahead. Give him a reading. Take his hand."
Klaus found he very much did not want her to take his hand. He folded his arms, gun still in one hand.
"Oh, what's the matter, Major? Afraid?" baited Dorian.
"Don't be a fool. I am not in the mood for a vaudeville mystic act."
"Klaus, be quiet. She's genuine. I promise."
"All right, Madame Sandler. Tell me why everyone's so interested in this place."
The woman stared at him silently.
"Don't be an ass, Klaus," scolded Dorian. "We're trying to help."
"We do not need your help," retorted Klaus. "There is something here that the scholars wanted and that the Neo-Nazis want to find as well. At least, that's how it appears. So far we have found nothing." He couldn't believe he was telling Dorian all this.
Madame Sandler looked away, as if distracted by something. Klaus and Dorian and the agents followed her gaze. She was looking in the direction of the hall which led to the cellar.
"Christine?" said Dorian.
"I am afraid of that place," she whispered, eyes wide. "We are all afraid of it."
"Who?" That was Klaus.
"All of us." Her voice was thin and shallow as if she was afraid someone else might overhear.
Klaus cocked his head, curious. "Come down there with me."
"I don't want to." She shook her head and took a step backwards.
"You said you wanted to help." Klaus still wasn't convinced she had any powers but he was curious as to what wou1d happen. Maybe, just maybe she had a little ESP. At this stage, he wouldn't rule out any posibi1ities.
Dorian put an arm around her protectively. "It's all right, Christine. Don't be afraid. You are safe with us."
She eyed him warily for a moment, his blond hair, his blue eyes. "All right."
Klaus led them down the hall, Christine and Dorian followed slowly. Dorian all the while whispering reassurances and comfort to her.
"That room," she gasped as the black cellar yawned before them. "Please don't make me go in there."
Reality slipped sideways. Klaus found himself in another hallway. The hallway to the office. Yes, it was scary. The carpet was so red. So very hideously red. The big black polished door to his left seemed impossibly huge. So heavy. He wished it was too heavy to open. Then he wouldn't have to. He wouldn't have to go into that office.
Christine's frantic hiss snapped everything back in place.
"It's all right," said Dorian. "No one will hurt you."
"But it's them! It's them! I don't want to feel them!"
"The ghosts? Are there ghosts?" asked Dorian.
Christine just nodded, her mouth held tightly closed. Klaus could tell she was trying not to scream. It was an expression he knew he'd worn more than a few times lately.
They reached the doorway. Christine refused to go any further. Agent J went down to turn on the lights.
"What's down there?" asked Dorian.
Klaus jerked a thumb at Christine. "I was hoping she could tell us."
"They killed them," she said in a terrified voice.
"Who killed whom? Are you talking about the scholars?"
Agent J clicked on the light. The excavated floor disappeared into darkness like a bottomless pit.
Christine lost it then and tried to run. Agent K caught her. She struggled in his arms frantically.
"Let her go!" commanded Dorian. K looked at the Major. Klaus nodded. Christine backed out of the hall and ran out of the castle.
"That was a lot of help," sneered Klaus.
Dorian shot him a disapproving look and ran after Christine.
Klaus leaned against the doorframe and lit a cigarette. Nothing had been learned except that he was definitely losing his mind. If he could just keep it together until the case was done. Or maybe he could go nuts just when the Neo-Nazis arrived and throw a berserker attack. Goddamned punks.
"Shit!" he suddenly cried, dropping the cigarette. "They're out there with the Neo-Nazis!"
Klaus and his agents ran outside. To his relief, he saw Dorian and the psychic standing unharmed by the side of the castle. Christine was crying into Dorian's chest as the elegant thief held and comforted her. It was a strange and unnatural sight to Klaus.
"Th-they said there weren't any children," she sobbed. "They said, 'There are no children.'"
Klaus moved closer. Christine looked up, not towards anyone, but at the side of the castle. "Ch-chest high," she said. "The bones were piled chest high. And there were little bones. Little bones." She made a gesture, as if cradling those little bones to herself.
Klaus walked around to the side of the castle. He poked through the tall weeds that grew at the base of the building. There were bits of white and grey stone, but no bones. It didn't surprise him. The bones had probably long since been buried by the families after the fall of Schloss Durdenstien. Hadn't Kopleck said something of the sort?
"There's a man in a chair in that room," she said, glancing back at the castle. "And two boys. Ours." Her breath shook. "The Nazis would... would sk-skó" She was lost in sobs for a moment, solaced again by Dorian's embrace. She regained some of her composure. "They would skin the people. The m- the man saw. The boys pretended it wasn't happening. The boys took the skeletons here. Piled them chest high."
"Who was the man in the chair?" asked Klaus, returning to the group.
"A man. Ours." She meant a Jew. "He was waiting."
"I don't know. Just waiting." She took a deep breath and stared at Dorian's chest, obviously trying to collect her wits about her.
Dorian made her look at him. "Is he still there?"
She closed her eyes and for a horrible moment Klaus thought she and Dorian were going to kiss. "I don't want to feel them anymore. You cannot know what it is like."
"What is in the cellar?" Klaus demanded. "Tell me what they hid down there and you are free to go."
Christine took another deep breath and straightened herself. She kept a death-grip on Dorian's sleeve. "The waiting man knows."
All the hair on Klaus' body stood on end when she said that. "Well, let's go talk to him," he said, grabbing her by the arm.
She jerked away from him. "Don't grab me!" she snapped.
Klaus was taken aback. "I beg your pardon, Madame," he said. "Please come this way."
She didn't seem any more eager to go to the cellar than before, but she went.
"Why is the floor gone?" she asked in a rather insistent tone.
"The students had just started to dig up the floor when they were killed. We decided to continue their work until we found what they were looking for. Only we have found nothing."
Christine's expression lost all distress and she simply stared at him incredulously. "All this and you don't know the what or why of it?"
Klaus stiffened. "We have to look for any possible reasons. The police so far haven't found anything to tell us what or why."
"Do you have something that belonged to one of the scholars?" Christine was now beginning to sound competent again, to Klaus' relief. His simply could not deal with hysterical women. Women in general made him uneasy, but hysterical ones were the worst.
"Only a footprint upstairs."
She wanted to see, and so they left the cellar and went upstairs to the altar room. The footprint was still there.
"May I touch it?"
Klaus consented. Christine knelt down and put her fingertips to the footprint.
"One of the Turkish boys," she said.
"A. Ab-- Abe-- Abraham?"
"Abrum. What did he want here?"
"Names. A list of names."
Christine scowled and shook her head, indicating to Klaus that he was distracting her.
"On the stone. In the wall. The waiting man. The waiting man was inside the wall." Her voice was completely emotionless this time. "He scratched the names of his tormentors while he waited to die. The others heard him. They understood. At least, that is the legend. That is what Abrum believed. He is in the wall, waiting for the stones to come down and the awful past to be revealed. For the killers to be caught and condemned."
She lifted her hand from the footprint. "In the wall, not the floor."
Klaus glanced at Dorian, then the woman. "They why had they started to break up the floor?"
She shrugged. "I don't know. To tunnel underneath it, perhaps? I wasn't there. It wasn't important enough for the memory to be trapped."
"Trapped?" echoed Dorian.
Christine nodded. "Important events, traumatic ones, are trapped in a place's atmosphere. Inside this castle are trapped the evils, the torture. Trapped in that footprint is the student's goal. Something important to him."
Agent J suddenly turned to the broken window. "Sir! Someone was 1istening!"
Klaus and the others ran to the window in time to see a figure disappear into the woods.
"Who was it?" asked Madame Sandler.
Agent J answered, "A young man, close-shaved blond hair, short black denim jacket, black military boots--"
"Thank you, J," interrupted Klaus. "I can see that we will need to keep close vigil tonight. Earl--" He about-faced to Dorian. "You and the lady return to town. Thank you so much for your assistance."
"You mustn't stay here," said Dorian. "They'll be back in droves."
"We cannot leave them to find the list, if it exists, or destroy it. At last we know what we are protecting."
"Then you must call for back-up at least. Klaus, we're only eight."
"Six. You two should go."
Dorian seemed about to protest, then looked at Christine. "Yes, I better get you home."
Madame Sandler seemed quite eager to go. "All right." She turned to Klaus. There was an expression there he could not read. "Good luck. Major."
"Thank you." He gave her a curt nod.
"Be careful, Darling. I'll be sure and send you help when we reach town."
Despite the irreverence, Klaus was grateful for the help. "Yes," was all he said.
He and his agents walked them out to the car. Upon approaching the vehicle, they all noticed at the same time that the tires had all been slashed.
"Good Heavens!" said Dorian. "I guess this means we won't be going anywhere after all."
Klaus ushered them all back inside quickly.
"Well," said Dorian, "this makes it a slumber party. Does anyone have dinner?"
Klaus' stomach growled in response. "Afraid not, Earl. I hope you had your evening tea."
"Regrettably, I did not. Oh well, it's only one night. Let's make the best of it. Anyone up for charades?"
Klaus took his post facing west, down the tree-covered slope which led to the front face of Schloss Durdenstein. His agents were posted on the other three sides and Dorian was busy keeping Christine entertained. The woman was literally sick with fear and grew more and more unsettled as the night progressed.
Klaus heard Dorian approach. He knew the sound of his footsteps although many times he never heard them at all. But this was Dorian, not Eroica, and no doubt the approach was meant to be heard; a sort of unspoken announcement. Klaus gave the forest another careful scan, then turned to the Earl.
"Major. I need to talk to you."
"Where is your psychic?"
"With L. Listen, there's something I need to talk to you about. Privately."
That was unlike Dorian, who never felt any compunctions about announcing the most outrageous things in the most inappropriate places. Discretion was not his strong suit. So what sort of thing warranted this idiot's confidence?
"What is it?" he asked indifferently, turning back to the forest.
Dorian sat down on the window ledge, or approximately on it. Most of it was blown away and there was little telling where windowsill ended and wall began. He followed Klaus' gaze into the Black Forest.
"I-- When I went to see Madame Sandler earlier today, it wasn't originally to bring her here. I went to get answers about the dream. To see if she could foresee some imminent danger for you. "
"And did she?" His flat voice did not betray his apprehensive curiosity.
"Well, sort of. She said the collapse will be inside you. Sort of a mental breakdown."
That scared Klaus. He himself had been wondering if he was going mad and now he had outside confirmation. Still, he disliked to think that any such thing was beyond his control.
"Oh, really? And did she say that perhaps you would be the cause of such a collapse?"
Dorian turned to face him sharply. "You don't believe me or her, do you? After all you've seen and heard, you still don't believe."
"We'll see tomorrow when we tear down the wall. We'll see."
"Let her give you a tarot reading."
Klaus turned a horrified stare to him. "Tarot?! Never! That is Devil's work! Do not get involved in that!"
"Devil's work? How is it Devil's work?" demanded the atheist.
"Well, it tells you things."
"Yes? So? So does Christine. Is she also the Devil's instrument?"
"Well...it is not... Witchcraft is evil."
"Why? Witches are nice people. They've been around a lot longer than Christians. I never heard of witches having an Inquisition or starting wars."
Klaus hated the subject of religion simply because it was unprovable. "I do not wish to talk about it," he said.
"Then talk to me about something else. Anything. Tell me if you think you're headed for a breakdown."
Klaus thought about it: the paranoia, the strange visions, the nightmares, as well as older, now almost ignorable problems he had, things he could not mention to Dorian or any other living being outside the medical profession. He wondered if perhaps he was headed for a breakdown. He couldn't tell Dorian. He mustn't.
"I... don't know." Damn! Why was it so hard not to confide in this fool?
"Talk to me."
"No." The flat refusal left no room for debate.
Dorian shrugged. "As you wish, Major." He stood up. "I'm here if you need me. Good-night."
"Good-night." He looked away again and Dorian left. He glanced down at where the Earl had been sitting and spotted a card. He picked it up, halfway expecting it to detail some crime and read "From Eroica With Love." But it didn't.
On the face of it was a picture of a tower, just like the ones on either side of the castle. Lightning struck it from above and two figures, a man and a woman, tumbled from the top just like... just like...
That saint. The virgin martyr Pelagia. Pelagia of Antioch. A lady in a golden mantle. Klaus could see her: kind, beautiful, compassionate. He had seen her. She had come to him, radiated her love and devotion to God upon him, filling him with joy. Elation.
Pelagia of Antioch. who threw herself from a window in order to escape the soldiers of Diocletian. She who would rather die than lose her innocence. She had come to him. She had come to him.
And he had gone to--
No. The pain and fear threatened to follow any further memories. He blocked them, throwing up a wall of non-thought. But still the memories scratched at the stones, writing their message on the Wall, waiting for the breakdown.
Klaus jumped up and began to pace, clutching at his head as if to brace the mental barricade. He gritted his teeth and keened low, to drown out the scratching.
At last the irritation subsided. Klaus, shaken and lonely, returned to the window. He'd left his post. It was unforgivable. He was furious with himself for behaving like a madman. He was terrified as well. He was going mad and didn't even have the blessing of being unaware of it.
A few hours later, Dorian came back. Klaus had spent the meantime concentrating solely on the forest. He could do that. Become Iron Klaus, a robot programmed for duty alone. Still, he was mad at Dorian.
"Did you get Christine's message?" asked Dorian.
"She told me to leave you the card. Did it... do anything for you?"
That manipulative witch! "No," he lied.
"Oh. Well, why don't you get some sleep? I'll stand watch. You'll be busy breaking down walls tomorrow. You'll need your rest."
Klaus searched for hidden meanings in Dorian's words, but seeing nothing but genuine concern in those sapphire eyes, he agreed to take a nap.
He lay down on the floor right under the windowsill so he could leap to the ready if anything happened. As tired as he was, it was hard to fall asleep. The floor was cold and hard and without duty to distract him, he found it hard not to think of Waiting Men and Saints.
Dorian began to hum a sweet, slow melody that repeated over and over, lulling Klaus into a gently rocking boat, drifting down the river to sleep.
He was on the playground at school, cavorting with his friends, running, laughing, and playing in the warm sunshine. He noticed something out of the corner of his eye but did not, would not, look at it. He kept playing, pretending it just wasn't there, although his little heart was trembling. Finally, he turned his eyes ever so slightly towards it, just enough to catch an indistinct glimpse and no more.
It seemed to be a scribble, as if someone had taken a black pen and scratched something out. Klaus refused to acknowledge it, acting as if the scary scribble wasn't there. Pretending it didn't scare him. Klaus could be a stubborn child and it was with all his stubborn will that he ignored the scribble.
He woke up. It was still dark out. Dorian was still there, humming some complicated bit of Mozart now, to himself. Klaus sat up, momentarily confused.
"Up so soon. Major?" Dorian said softly.
"Bad dream," he mumbled back.
"Hmm. What was it?" Dorian sounded conversational, not overly-interested or anything, and that encouraged Klaus to talk.
"I was a kid again..." he began, and recounted the dream, including his honest fear and denial of the scribbled-out whatever.
"Do you have any idea what it might be?"
Klaus said he didn't.
"Well," replied Dorian, "if you dream it again, you should take out an eraser and rub out the scribble and see what it's covering up."
"I do not wish to," Klaus responded.
"What? The Eternal Major afraid to confront a hidden enemy? In a dream, no less?"
Klaus' face grew hot. "You do not understand!"
"Oh, don't I? I think I understand perfectly well. You're afraid. That's fine, but you have to face your fear. Darling. Only then can you get past it."
"No," said Klaus and joined Dorian on the ledge. "I will just wallow in ignorance if it's all the same to you. I do not care to know what it is I have obviously told myself to forget."
Dorian looked at him sympathetically a moment longer, then shook his head and looked away. Good. The subject was closed.
Dorian was no idiot. He was sure what the Major was choosing to ignore was some sort of childhood trauma, probably abuse, and probably sexual. Repressed memories, repressed Major. But he could never broach the subject with Klaus. Never. Their relationship would never allow for that. So instead he would just stay close by, waiting on the outside of the wall, trying to peek in through the ever-widening cracks.