1 The Thespian By: Halima Ankh Baltimore, Maryland.... Pure white snow blanketed the entire ground. Not one place could be seen. The street lamp flames burned bright, but were slowly dying down. He shivered, hurrying to button his coat with shivering hands and numb fingers. He looked around, beads of sweat slid down the sides of his face and to his cheeks, eventually reaching his chin and dripping off onto his coat though the temperature was below freezing. "Maurice...." she whispered. The man started down what should have been the street, but was so covered in snow, that he felt as though that was all he was walking on as his boots pressed down into the snow, almost to his ankles as he hurried away from the direction from which he had heard the woman's voice. "Maurice, my love, come with me!" she said, only louder this time. Maurice sped up his pace until he was almost in a dead run down the barren street in the dead of night. "Have I gone mad?" his mind screamed as he bolted down the street, turning onto another where his home stood at the end. Maurice was greeted by arched windows that had black frames and were composed of beautiful stained glass that could barely be seen in the night. The windows were quatrefoils, shamrock-shaped windows. The house also had pointed turrets and bargeboards, decorations at the end of gables and roofs.
2 His stomach churned as he made his way through the gate and up the cobblestone path to the house. He fumbled for the key to the door in his right coat pocket before he finally found it. The key was pure brass and somewhat heavy as Maurice stuck it in the keyhole on the door and turned it, unlocking the door. He had to push with almost all of his might to open the door. The door creaked open and revealed an enormous room with a crystal chandelier hanging above Maurice on the ceiling. There was a long winding staircase before him that had been painted black much like the rest of the inside and outside of the house. He shoved the door closed and locked it, placing the key under the mat just inside of the door, he then slowly started up the staircase. As he was walking up the staircase, Maurice swore he saw something, or someone, pass by in a flash, like a bolt of white lighting, downstairs. He stopped midway up the staircase, hanging onto the wooden rail with his right hand. He turned his head slightly to the right and looked out of the corner of his eyes at the furniture that had been covered with white sheets long ago after the incident. "H...hello?" he said nervously, turning to head back down the staircase, he now gripped the rail with his left hand as he crept back down the stairs he had just started up moments ago. He heard the light breathing of a woman. The breathing was soft and slow and dragged out. Maurice crept back down the stairs until he was standing back on the floor. "This way!" she whispered slowly from the direction of the dining hall. Maurice took each step carefully toward the dining hall.
3 "Hurry!" the woman whispered, her voice rising and then lowering quickly, angrily, as she spoke. Maurice took short, fast, steps in the direction of the hall until he was standing inside of it. There was a long, dark, wooden table in the middle with a chandelier with candles in hanging over the table. There were lit candles in it that were covered in cobwebs. Maurice looked back at the table that was now set. "Have I gone mad?" he wondered as he inched further into the dining room and headed into the kitchen. There were grey wooden cupboards that went around where the sink and counters were. There was a small ice box to one side of the cupboards that matched their color, and then a window beside it with tattered curtains that were maroon-colored. "Where are you?" he whispered to the ghost (he assumed she was one anyway) woman. He heard her giggle from somewhere behind him and he spun around so fast to try and see her that he almost toppled over backwards. He hurried back out of the kitchen, through the dining room, and into the study. The room was dark and dingy. Maurice could barely see his own hands in front of his face. He looked to one side and saw a lamp and lit it. "That's better." he muttered as he lifted the lamp to see the book case full of books from around the world in front of him. He inched over to the bookcase and gently pushed on it. When he did, the book case slid slowly to the right and
4 opened, revealing a dark grey stone staircase that spiraled downward into the floor. "Strange," he thought, "I've lived here for years and never knew this was here!" As Maurice made his way slowly down the steep staircase, he started to shiver as if he were cold. But he wasn't cold, he was burning up, as though he were on fire. Sweat poured from every pore in his skin. He suddenly felt dizzy, nauseas, and weak. "Oh God," his mind screamed, "what's happening to me?" He dropped the lamp he was carrying. The lamp rolled down the staircase to the end of it and set the room ablaze. Maurice collapsed on the staircase and started rolling toward the bottom of the staircase until he reached the end and stopped. Maurice saw a man dressed in black from his head to his toes standing in the fire's flames. He started crawling toward the man and tried to call out to him to get out of the flames before he burned to death, but no sound came out when he opened his mouth to speak. The woman Maurice had followed stood beside the man. When he saw her, Maurice used the stone wall to lift himself up onto his feet and then he staggered into the flames to save the man and woman. Walking toward the fire was the last thing Maurice remembered right before he awoke in the white room that gave him a splitting headache. "Ugh," he moaned, "What day is it?"
5 "What month?" he asked, trying to sit upright. As he did, however, his stomach churned and his head pounded like a hammer. His body ached anywhere and everywhere possible and he thought he had been blinded. "You need to lie down sir, you're badly injured." a woman said, gently pushing him back down onto the bed. "Where am I? Where is my Annabel? Is she alright?" Maurice asked. "Sir, please, you need to lie down." the woman said again, strapping him down. "No, no, NOOOO!" Maurice wailed, struggling and thrashing and throwing himself about in the bed as he was held down by two extremely strong men while two nurses strapped him down by his chest, his stomach, and then his thighs and ankles. "Sir, if you'll just calm down for a little while, I can tell you what happened to your 'Annabel' as you seem to like to call her!" the nurse shrieked. But Maurice couldn't seem to make himself stop and so the nurse was forced to do something which she hated doing. She nodded to the men that had strapped him down on the bed. The men left the room and came back in about five minutes or so and handed the nurse a simple pump consisting of a plunger that fitted tightly into a tube. The nurse pulled the plunger back and filled it with a dark blue liquid and pushed it along in a cylindrical tube (or barrel), allowing the syringe to take in the dark blue liquid and then eventually release it into the subject (Maurice) at the open end of the tube. The open end had been fitted with a hypodermic needle, to help the direct flow to and from the barrel.
6 Maurice's eyes widened with fear as the needle seemed to move in slow motion closer and closer to his upper arm. The needle slowly pushed through his skin, breaking it, and he felt the blue liquid go in through his arm and then, almost instantly, into his bloodstream. "Uhhhh...." he moaned as his eyes rolled into the back of his head and his body started to shake uncontrollably as if he were having a seizure. The leather straps broke off of him as he shook harder and more violently, foaming at his mouth. The nurses tried to hold him down and contain him, but were thrown back against the wall and knocked out cold. After about seven minutes of uncontrollable shakes, Maurice finally stopped. He laid flat on his back, motionless, for about ten minutes. One of the nurses came to and slowly stood She inched over to the man, thinking he was dead by his violent episode. She stood at his bedside, then reached out to touch him. As she did, he suddenly grabbed her wrist, his eyes were still closed for the moment. He gripped her wrist so tight that he was cutting off the circulation. His eyes snapped open and immediately went to her. The nurse's eyes widened with fear as the man slowly sat upright on the bed, never loosening his grip, nor taking his eyes off of her. The weather outside was dark and stormy, even though the snow that blanketed the streets and buildings was fresh and still falling. Cold, freezing, drops of rain that felt like needles when they hit one's skin fell in sheets from the pitch dark sky. Maurice stormed out of the asylum, leaving the nurse behind in a pool of dark red, almost black.
7 The night was almost over, he needed to hurry if he were going to make any kind of progress. He waited on one street corner by a fire-lit lamp, shivering, trying to keep his soaking wet body warm as he waited for the horse-drawn carriage. As he waited, Maurice continued to think fondly of his Annabel . He closed his eyes and smiled as he thought about her features. She was tall and slim. Her hair was straight and pulled back and jet black. Her skin was pale white. Her eyes were golden. Her skin was as soft as silk. She was known for wearing a hat trimmed with frills, feathers, flowers, and ribbons. She wore cameos, bracelets, necklaces, and rings. As the carriage arrived and stopped just inches from him, Maurice shivered, then opened the carriage door and stepped up onto the platform and into the carriage and sat on the left-hand side that faced where he could see the driver as he shut the door. "Where to sir?" the driver asked without turning to look at him. Maurice quickly rubbed his hands together and breathed on them to warm them, "Delgado Mansion....please." he replied, calmly. As he rocked along in the carriage, he felt her presence in the carriage with him and he was suddenly back in the time when he had first met her. He had been just a young lad, and she a young lass. He was in his tenth year, as was she. The room was decorated for the occasion, a dinner party for her father's election as mayor. Maurice had sat down on one side of the long wooden table with his mum and dad while his Annabel sat on the other with hers. He had thought she was beautiful even then, and had pursued her for almost eight years before finally
8 being able to court her. She hadn't been too impressed with his efforts at first because of his status, but after months of being introduced and exposed to older, richer, men than himself, Maurice's Annabel finally gave in and ran away from her parent's home and came to Delgado Mansion to be with him where he hid her for months before anyone discovered it. Her parents were angry at first of course, but when they realized their Annabel was happy with her Maurice, they let her stay, then things went awry. Maurice's parents died shortly after Annabel came to live with them and not long after that, her parents passed as well. Maurice and his Annabel had just married and expecting their first child, a boy which was to be named Kristopher Hancock Delgado, when the man, whom everyone only knew by one name (The Thespian), came to their home. He had wanted their son immediately after the child was to be born. Maurice had refused to give his only child to a man he knew nothing about, or anyone else for that matter, and the man had threatened to kill Annabel while still pregnant. Maurice had threatened the man with death to scare him away, but shortly thereafter, Maurice's Annabel and Kristopher both "mysteriously" died during childbirth. Maurice swore revenge on the man he called The Thespian (an actor from sixth century B.C. Greece), because he didn't believe that the man had even been real. Believing for years after the incident that his Annabel and Kristopher were still alive somewhere, somehow, someway, even though he had witnessed their deaths, but never had been able to cope with their passing's, had almost driven Maurice into complete and total madness. There was no way, in his mind at least,
9 that the boy, nor his mother, had died that night. He wouldn't believe it, he couldn't. In Maurice's mind, they were still alive and well somewhere and he swore since they had disappeared that he wouldn't give up looking until he drew his last breath. "Maurice...." she whispered, softly and slowly. She sounded distance this time and he couldn't help but wonder why. He could faintly hear Christopher's cries. "We're here, sir." the driver said, stopping the carriage in front of the mansion. Maurice snapped out of his thoughts, blinking several times, confused for a moment by the sight of his home. He shook his head and then let himself out before the driver could even think to do it himself. Maurice hurried out of the carriage and up to his home. He swung the door open and ran inside, he remembered the fire that had happened in the basement and ran down to it to see how bad the damage was. But when he arrived inside of it, it looked like it always had. "My God," he thought, "What's happening to me?" He looked around and saw his Annabel and The Thespian and despised them both. Why were they doing this to him of all people? What wrong had he ever done to his Annabel? He loved her unconditionally still though she had been gone for many years, and his Christopher, though he never got the chance to watch him grow and learn. Why were they now haunting him and making him mad?
10 Maurice turned and bolted out of the basement and to the front doorlocked! "Blast!" he muttered angrily under his breath as he slowly turned back around and look about the room for another way out. The man in black reappeared in front of Maurice again in the dining hall. Maurice frowned at him, gritting his teeth as he picked up a cane beside the door and slowly started for the man. "Maurice...." Annabel whispered. He ignored her. "Stop now while you still have a chance." she said. He kept walking. When he was standing in the entrance and noticed the man hadn't disappeared this time, a smile slowly found its way onto Maurice's face. He gripped the cane with both hands and crouched down, ready to pounce and beat the man. He saw a flash of sparkling white teeth and the man was smiling at him. "Maurice, please...." Annabel pleaded. Maurice let out an angry, desperate, cry and leaped across the table at the man, throwing him through the window and shattering it, they both rolled out into the dark and stormy night. Maurice lifted the cane above his head as he was now sitting on top of the man and had him pinned down on the ground. He swung the cane as fast and as hard as he could to the left and right across the man's face until he went limp.
11 "Is he dead I wonder?" Maurice asked himself as he threw the cane to one side and then headed back into the house for his lamp. Maurice lit the lamp and then headed back out into the night. It wasn't raining anymore, but thunder cracked and boomed and echoed throughout the place and lighting flashed and tore through the sky against the bright full white moon with the man's face in it. Maurice stormed through the mansion's courtyard in search of the man and found him lying motionless on his back. Maurice frowned at him, but knelt down beside him to get a closer look to see if he could figure who the man that had killed the love of his life was. As Maurice knelt down and moved the lamp closer to the man's face, his anger suddenly turned to shock in an instant. "My God," he gasped, "It cannot be!" Maurice dropped his lamp and staggered back. The man was barely a man at all, no older than twenty. He looked almost identical to Annabel herself. His hair was dark brown like Maurice's and his eyes the same golden color of his Annabel's. His lips were pink. His skin was pale white like his mothers and he was slim, yet, somewhat muscular like Maurice himself. The man coughed and sputtered then and blinked his eyes and then looked at Maurice. "F....father, forgive me, please...." he croaked. Maurice threw himself at the young man and wrapped his arms around him and hugged him against himself without saying a word. He let go and leaned back. He then stood and helped him to his feet and led him back to his home.
12 Maurice found some of his clothes for the man and dressed him in them, the clothes almost fit him. Maurice then headed upstairs to one of the empty bedrooms he had fixed up long ago with his Annabel for their Christopher before Annabel had died and Christopher disappeared. Maurice headed back downstairs to where the man sat in the dining room and joined him. Maurice sat on the opposite end of the dining room table from he man. His heart was trying to beat through his chest. Beads of sweat ran down his face in freezing cold streams. His body shivered as if he were cold, but he wasn't and to top it all off, his muscles felt as though they were tied into millions of knots. "Where are you from good sir?" he stammered. The man looked at him with his piercing golden-colored eyes and smiled the same way Annabel had always smiled, "I am Prince Christopher Delgado of Maryland." he said calmly. "Maurice...." he stopped himself and wondered if the young man knew he was his father but that the last name he carried wasn't his, but his mother's. "Maurice, yes, what is your last name good sir?" Christopher said, smiling and nodding. "You look just like your mother!" Maurice whispered, his eyes still glued to his ghost son. Christopher's smile was instantly gone and he frowned and stared hard at Maurice now, "How do you know my mother?" he asked casually. "She was....a good friend of mine." he said. "Oh, how long did you know her?" Christopher asked.
13 "Twenty years almost." Maurice said, trying not to hint entirely too much about who he really was to Christopher. "How old are you now?" Christopher asked. "About forty, and you?" Maurice said, nodding. "About twenty." Christopher answered, he knew who Maurice was, and he knew Maurice knew who he was. "What is your occupation?" Maurice asked. "I've held no job in my life, but spent it at an orphanage not far from here." Christopher answered, the words hurt him almost to the verge of death. "All boys?" Maurice asked, suddenly feeling guilty that he had never made any kind of efforts to find Christopher, but instead had just assumed. Christopher nodded, "Yes sir." "Do you plan to hold an occupation soon?" Maurice asked. "Yes sir." he said. "Doing what, if you don't mind my asking?" Maurice asked. "I've enlisted into the Navy." Christopher said proudly. Maurice felt his stomach drop and he felt guilty and wanted to talk his son out of going into the Navy so that he could move him in with him and get to know him better. But he said nothing more and offered the man a place to stay for the night and a home if he wanted it. "I appreciate your offer of letting me live here good sir," Christopher said, "but I just can't, I won't be here much longer anyway, in fact, I leave early in the morning tomorrow for the Navy."
14 "The offer is still on the table if you need a place to stay when you come back." Maurice said. "Thank you kind sir, I will keep your offer in mind while I am away and when and if I come back." Christopher said politely. He spoke and behaved so much like Maurice's Annabel that it almost killed him. How could he have been so blind as to not see that the orphanage housed and schooled hundreds of homeless and motherless children, not just his Christopher? Had the orphanage led him here? Surely he was out of it now that he was the age Maurice and Annabel had been when he was born. There were so many questions Maurice wanted to ask his son, but now just wasn't the time, he would have to force himself to wait until the young man came home. Maurice and Christopher both arose early the next morning, before the sun. Maurice helped the young man finish packing as they awaited the carriage that would come to take the young man away again to the ship that would take him to a far away land with foreign enemies that threatened their peace here. "Please, my Christopher, write to me everyday while you're away and return back safely to me." Maurice said as they walked out to the carriage. Christopher laughed, he didn't seemed worried about not coming back home, he had the same carefree nature Maurice remembered his mother having. "I promise I will write as often as I can father, and I won't be gone long, I'll be back before you know it and we can spend the rest of your life catching up on all that we've missed out on." he said cheerfully, almost laughing.
15 Maurice slept none that night. Annabel wasn't with him anymore, but Christopher was. He didn't want the night to end, but when he looked at the clock and saw the time, "5:59", he knew it already was and his Christopher would be up soon to finish his packing and get into the car that would come shortly after and get into and it would drive him down to the dock with the enormous ship. He would board the ship and the rope that tied the boat to the dock would be cut and release the ship which would then sail away to the country that was far away where war was being fought and he would possibly never see the boy ever again. He arose and opened the nightstand drawer and took out his Annabel's locket. It was a golden heart with a flower design on it. Maurice opened it and saw the picture of himself and his Annabel shortly after they had married. As he lost himself in memories, he was snapped out of them by hearing the young man's heavy footsteps fade away down the staircase. Maurice took the locket with him as he hurried out of his room and down the stairs after him. Christopher looked surprised to see him, "I'm sorry," he said, "I didn't mean to wake you." "I was already awake long before you were." Maurice said, relaxing some. "What is that?" Christopher asked, meaning the locket that Maurice was holding in his hands. Maurice glanced down at the locket as if it were the first time he had seen it, "Oh," he said, surprised, "this, it was....your mother's, I was going to give it to you as a good luck charm." he said, walking up to the young man, he placed the necklace over his head and around his neck.
16 "Was it hers?" Christopher asked. Maurice stared down at the locket, "Yes," he said softly, "it was." They heard the car honking at them from outside then. "I must go." Christopher said, glancing over his shoulder. "Remember what I told you," Maurice said, "be safe and come back safely to me soon." Christopher nodded as he hurried with his bags out to the car that was waiting for him. Maurice watched as his boy and the man loaded the bags into the trunk of the car. Maurice turned to head back into the house when he heard the man call his name. "Maurice!" Christopher called to him. Maurice turned and saw the man running to him with open arms and for a split second, what he saw wasn't a man, but a boy. The one he had killed years ago. Christopher hugged him tightly one last time before hurrying back to the car and getting into it. The driver slammed the door shut and nodded to Maurice as he walked around and got into the driver's side and started the vehicle, then pulled off the mansion's property. As Maurice watched them drive away, a folded piece of paper floated to him and into his hands. "Strange!" he muttered as he caught the piece of paper and unfolded it. Maurice's eyes widened as he read the note. He suddenly felt dizzy and weak once more, like he had before the man had shown up at his door. He fell
17 over backwards, hitting his head hard on the cobblestone path. Blood dripped from his mouth, his eyes still open, and the note in his cold dead fingers.