Penny Dreadful

By Rocket

Episode 9.9

Part Two

MacGyver sat up on Penny’s couch, stretching the kinks out of his back. The day or two after a hockey practice he was always creaky, even without the hard tackle that had sent him crashing into the boards. He pushed back the patchwork quilt and rubbed his eyes. They’d talked long into the night, trying to work out who might have wanted to kill Conrad, or sabotage the play or the theatre. They hadn’t come up with any ideas, and it had taken them both a long time to get to sleep. MacGyver had heard Penny tossing and turning in the next room until very late.

He reached out and picked up a note propped against a houseplant on the table:

‘Gone to the theatre early. You were asleep! See you there. Love, Penny.’

“Right.” MacGyver scrubbed a hand across his face and headed for the shower.

Good morning, stranger. I see you at my daughter’s house, waking long after she has departed. You do not know what I have done, the deception I have wrought to bring about the next part of the tale and bring my son back to me.

It is right that you do not know. After all, you are only a stranger.

* * * *

MacGyver pushed open the stage door and stuck his head through. He could hear voices on the stage some distance away.

“SSSH!” A stern-faced woman with her hair in a bun frowned at him over a pair of reading glasses.

“Sorry…” MacGyver whispered back and she nodded, returning to her notes. He followed her pointing pencil to a seat at the side of the stage and sat down as quietly as he could. He looked up into the rafters, but the scenery had all been lowered.

The scene finished and the stern woman leaned towards him.

“Did you come with Simon?” She glared at MacGyver when he shook his head. “He’s very late!”

“No, ma’am, I came on my own. I’m Penny’s friend.” He held out a hand. “MacGyver”.

“Oh.” She made no move to shake his hand and he withdrew it. “I thought you might have brought Simon. He was very shaken by last night and I haven’t seen him at all this morning.” She stared at MacGyver as though convinced Simon’s absence was all his fault.

“Who’s Simon?” MacGyver saw Penny at the other side of the stage and gave her a small wave.

“He plays Theodore.” The stern woman followed his gaze and beckoned Penny over.

“Penny, is Irene over there? I can’t find Simon and she might know where he is.”

“I’ll go ask.” Penny disappeared behind the curtain, reappearing a few moments later. “She hasn’t seen him, but she’s going to give him a call. Penny smiled at MacGyver. “They’re sweet on each other. Isn’t that adorable?”

“Adorable, right.” MacGyver shook his head, confused. “Penny, who’s Irene? I’m a little lost here…”

“Irene plays Isabella, Conrad’s fiancée. Also Manfred’s fiancée, though she really doesn’t want to be. Theodore is the peasant who loves her and hides her when she runs away, so it’s a bit like life imitating art, seeing as how they’re a real life couple, don’t you think?” Penny smiled her devastating smile again and ducked back behind the curtain, leaving MacGyver just as confused as before.

“Uh… Right. That didn’t help, Penny!” He turned to see the director smiling at him over her reading glasses.

“Would you go after her, please? I really do need to know where Simon is.” Her eyes twinkled and MacGyver decided she wasn’t quite as stern as she appeared. He nodded, smiled back and disappeared into the backstage area to look for Penny.

You will not find your Theodore, for he is not here. Isabella cannot save him. Matilda cannot have him. You, stranger, you cannot save him – you are not a player on this stage. No, Theodore is gone, and I have brought about his death in a manner befitting. He has been sacrificed and my son will return.

So I have decreed it and, after all, I am the lord of this castle…

MacGyver walked past the stagehands checking the scenery, glancing at their work as he passed. Nothing seemed amiss, but when he looked up into the flyspace, he could see a new pulley gleaming amongst the old, dull ones.

He found Penny and another woman sitting on a costume hamper. Penny had her arm around her companion, who was crying and talking on a mobile phone.

“What’s happened?” MacGyver crouched down next to Penny, who shot him a worried look.

“Mac, I’m so glad you’re here! The most terrible thing has happened! Simon was on his way here early this morning, when some madman grabbed him and knocked him out. Imagine!” Penny’s eyes were wide and her voice grew louder. “Who would do such a thing?!”

Is he on the line now?” MacGyver turned to Irene and pointed to the loudspeaker button on the phone. Irene pressed it and Simon’s frightened voice filled the room.

“You gotta help me! I don’t know where I am!” Simon sounded as though he was trying not to cry.

“OK, calm down.” MacGyver frowned. “Tell me what you can see.”

“Who is this? Irene?!” Simon’s voice climbed higher, panic taking over.

“Simon, he’s a friend of Penny’s. Please listen to him, OK?” Irene handed the phone to MacGyver.

“Simon, what can you see?” MacGyver frowned at the rising sound of Irene crying. He put his thumb over the microphone and whispered to Penny, “Take her someplace else! And find me a map – I need to know Simon’s route to work.” He waited until Penny had shepherded Irene out before lifting his thumb again. “Simon? Talk to me, buddy.”

“I’m… Um…” Simon swallowed hard. “I’m tied to a freakin’ chair! I’m up high, ‘cause I can see out the windows and I’m halfway up the buildings. Um…”

“Simon, you’re doing great.” MacGyver accepted a map from Penny with a nod. “Did you get grabbed coming here straight from home?”

“Uh huh.” Simon coughed. “I was on my way here and some guy grabbed me from behind and put something over my face. Next thing I know, I’m waking up tied to a chair! Who does that stuff?!”

“Let’s work on getting you back first, OK? We can worry about ‘who’ later.”

MacGyver traced the route with his finger. Penny had calmed Irene down enough to get her to mark Simon’s home and his usual route to the theatre. “You’re up high, right?”

“Right.” Simon sounded calmer.

“Anything else?” MacGyver moved his finger on the map, borrowed a pencil from the director and crossed off a few streets without tall buildings. “Do you recognise any buildings you can see? Any signs?”

“No, but I can see a crane…” There was a rustling noise as Simon turned. “And there’s some broken windows in here. It looks kind of old and abandoned. Also, I can hear a bulldozer.”

“That’s good.” MacGyver handed the map to the director, who took back her pencil and wrote ‘crane’ on a building. “Which side of you is the crane on?”

“Left.” There was a muffled crash and Simon gasped.

“Simon? What is it?” MacGyver turned the map around, frowning.

“That bulldozer – it’s getting really close!” There was another crash and Simon yelled. The phone cut off abruptly, leaving the cast staring at it.

“Simon!” MacGyver hit redial, but a recorded voice told him the phone was unavailable.

“Mac, I think I know where he is!” Penny bunched up the map in her hand. “We can go rescue him!” Without waiting, she set off for the stage doors at a run.

Run, my daughter, run. You cannot save him this time as you have so many times before.

This time, he is mine.

* * * *

“Get in!” MacGyver pulled up alongside Penny, waited for her to jump into the car and pulled out into the traffic. “Which way?”

“Right! No, Left!” Penny pointed, MacGyver swerved and they cut across two lanes into a narrow street. They stopped at a construction site fence and Penny leaped out. MacGvyer followed, ducking through the gate and onto the site and chasing after her.

“Hey!” the foreman’s angry yell made Penny flinch, but she kept running. “You can’t go in there!” The foreman grabbed MacGyver’s arm as he raced past, spinning him around.

“There’s a man trapped in there!” MacGyver jabbed a finger at the derelict building, already being torn into by a wrecking ball. At it’s foot, a bulldozer shunted fallen rubble away. The crane operator swung the wrecking ball out, tearing loose a large chunk of concrete. The top floor sagged as the concrete fell.

“Penny!” MacGyver pulled his arm loose and scrambled across the heaped rubble. “Penny, stop! It’s dangerous!” he caught up with her at the doorway. “The whole building could come down any minute.”

“Simon’s trapped in there!” She wriggled out of his grasp and dived through the door. MacGyver turned back to the foreman, who threw up his hands in disgust and started yelling at the crane driver.

MacGyver stepped through the doorway, dust in the air making him cough.

“Simon!” Penny’s voice echoed in the empty hallway. They pounded up the concrete stairs, stopping and calling at every floor. The higher they went, the worse the cracks in the old walls looked to MacGyver. Far below them, the bulldozer rumbled to a halt and the crane operator shut off his engine. In the silence, MacGyver could hear the building creaking and groaning around them.

“Simon!” Penny yelled again and, this time, they heard a faint answering cry.

“This floor! Penny, we need to be quick – this place sounds like it’s about to go!” More dust and grit fell from a crack and MacGyver ducked as a piece of ceiling plaster bounced off his head. “Simon! Keep yelling – we can hear you!” They listened for Simon’s next yell and followed the sound.

The corridor before them sagged at one side, and the floor settled lower as they inched their way along. They rounded a corner and MacGyver stopped with a gasp, grabbing Penny’s arm and leaning back. They had come to the part of the building that had been partly demolished, and a few feet ahead of them, the floor had collapsed, leaving a broad gap and a four storey drop to the ground below. MacGyver tightened his grip on both Penny and the doorframe, vertigo threatening to tip him over the edge.

“Simon!” Penny’s hands flew to her mouth as the dust cleared, revealing Simon on the other side of the gap, tied to a chair. His head whipped round and he cheered.
“The cavalry got here! Penny, am I glad to see you! You gotta get me out of here, the whole place is falling down!”

“We know!” Penny turned to MacGyver. “We need to make a bridge.” She looked around, seeing nothing they could use.

“Stay here.” MacGyver eased himself back from the terrifying drop. “I think we passed the janitor’s closet back there. Don’t move!” He pointed first at Penny, then at Simon. “That goes for both of you.” He ran back down the corridor, finding the door marked ‘Janitor’ at the end. He tried the handle, then kicked the door until it burst inwards, knocking down mops and brushes. He pulled them out of the way and grabbed a folding ladder leaning against the closet wall. He paused, picked up a window pole as well and set off back to Simon and Penny.

“Hurry!” Penny was pale and panicky. “The floor just moved!”

“Yeah, I felt it.” MacGyver set down the ladder and started unfolding it. “Help me with this, would you?” He glanced across at Simon, now silent. “Can you scoot any closer to the gap?” He finished unfolding the ladder and laid it across the gap as Simon shuffled the chair as close as he dared.

“Penny, sit here, please.” MacGyver wedged the ladder under a fallen beam, took a deep breath and took a step onto the ladder. “Oh man…”

Staring at Simon to avoid looking down, MacGyver inched his way out over the drop. He was almost halfway across when the floor shifted again, making his ladder slide…



 Original content is 2015