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
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.
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.
* * * *
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
“Did you come with Simon?” She glared
at MacGyver when he shook his head. “He’s
“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
“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
“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.
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
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
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
“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.”
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
“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
“Simon? What is it?” MacGyver turned the map
“That bulldozer – it’s getting really
close!” There was another crash and Simon yelled.
The phone cut off abruptly, leaving the cast staring at
“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
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
“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
“The cavalry got here! Penny, am I glad to see you!
You gotta get me out of here, the whole place is falling
“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…