“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 waited
until Penny kneeled on the ladder and nodded up at him.
“Think heavy thoughts.” He took a deep breath
and took a step onto the ladder, pushing the window pole
ahead of him. “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.
He clung to the ladder with his eyes shut, knuckles white
on the rungs. When the movement stopped, he took a deep
breath, tasting dust, and opened his eyes again. The shift
had tilted Simon’s end of the floor and the chair
was scraping across the old boards towards him. MacGyver
scrambled along the rest of the ladder, lunged forwards
and grabbed the leg of Simon’s chair, stopping him
right at the edge of the gap. For a moment they stayed,
frozen and staring at each other, then MacGyver unhooked
his free hand off the ladder and pulled his Swiss Army
Knife out of his pocket with shaking fingers. He cut the
tape fastening Simon’s arms and legs and nodded
at the ladder behind him.
“Go. I’ll hold this end.” Simon nodded
and scuttled across the makeshift bridge. As MacGyver
got up again, the building rumbled and the floor tipped.
This time the ceiling sagged too, beams creaking and cracking.
The gap widened and he jumped clear just as the end of
the ladder dropped off the broken floorboards, tumbling
to the ground far below.
“Mac!” Through the clouds of dust MacGyver
could see Penny’s stricken face. Something rolled
against his foot, and he stepped on the window pole before
it could fall over the edge. The building shook and the
ceiling plaster split, a bundle of electrical cables swinging
loose in a loop.
“Go! I’ll be right behind you!” He watched
Penny haul Simon to his feet and shove him through the
doorway, giving MacGyver a frightened backward glance.
He looked up at the cables and hefted the window pole.
“Here goes nothing…” He reached out
with the pole, hooked it into the cables and took a step
back. Taking a tight grip on the pole, MacGyver jumped
and swung over the gap. The gap rushed underneath him,
the cables sagged and for a heart-stopping moment, he
thought he wasn’t going to reach the other side.
He made a frantic grab for the edge of the floorboards
and clawed his way up to safety. Hearing another ominous
creak, he got to his feet and threw himself through the
doorway, just as the floor collapsed.
He raced back through the building, catching up to Penny
and Simon and hurrying them out. They stumbled outside
and sprinted across the construction site, turning at
the far edge to see the end of the building disintegrate
into a heap of rubble.
* * * *
MacGyver spent the rest of the day at the theatre. Simon
had lasted an hour before having breaking down and having
to be taken home by Irene to recover. MacGyver stood in
for Theodore, with Louisa the director as Isabella and
one of the other stage hands, an older man MacGyver hadn’t
met before, prompting them as necessary.
“You seem to know this play pretty well.”
MacGyver sat down next to the stage hand when they took
a break from rehearsing and opened a bottle of water.
The stage hand shrugged, not meeting his eye.
“I’ve heard the lines a lot of times. It isn’t
playing out how it should, though.” He looked angry,
but excused himself politely enough, and disappeared into
the backstage area. MacGyver took his water and went to
sit with Penny at the edge of the stage, dangling his
feet over the orchestra pit.
“He’s a weird guy,” MacGyver nodded
in the direction of the retreating stage hand and Penny
“That’s Martin. He’s kind of quiet.
I think he’s just shy, y’know? He’s
been here for years, right since the theatre opened.”
She pulled up her feet and wrapped her arms around her
legs. “He always seems sad. I wonder why?”
you rescue Theodore when you aren’t even in the
play? It must have been my Matilda rescuing him again,
despite my efforts. But I did set up the sacrifice. I
was true to my role.
this was meant to be. Perhaps I need to don a different
mask, as actors often do, and make the sacrifice of Theodore
come to pass from another part of the stage.
I know you
are close, my son. I can feel your presence.
* * * *
They rehearsed until the evening and then went home, glad
that they had the evening off. They spent the time trying
to work out who might have kidnapped Simon and why, but
came to no conclusions. MacGyver took a long time to get
to sleep again, still shaken by his narrow escape. He
finally drifted off, resolving to find out more from Simon
in the morning.
* * * *
MacGyver awoke to the sound of Penny singing in the kitchen.
He rolled off the couch, standing up and stretching. He
looked around for his t-shirt, then remembered it was
in the wash, filthy after the dust and dirt of yesterday’s
escape. He hitched up his sweats and headed into the kitchen
to retrieve his clothes, regretting his decision to travel
sleepyhead!” Penny handed him a mug of tea and an
armful of lavender-scented clothes. “All clean.”
She danced out of the kitchen, singing along to the radio
and grabbing a piece of toast on the way past. MacGyver
heard the bathroom door shut and the shower start up.
He shook his head and took his tea back to the living
room, dropping the clothes on the couch. The movement
pulled at his shoulder and he moved across to the mirror,
turning around and looking at his own reflection over
his shoulder. The bruise from hockey practice had darkened,
spreading across his back.
MacGyver resolved to have a word with his team mate when
he got back to Los Angeles. He changed into a clean t-shirt
and jeans and sat down to wait for Penny to finish in
* * * *
Simon and Irene arrived late, Simon wearing sunglasses
and a big hat in an attempt to disguise himself. Neither
of them looked to have got much sleep.
go well, and the company stopped early for lunch. Simon
and Irene headed to a burger joint, complete with disguise,
and Penny took MacGyver out in search of a salad.
get it.” Penny took a bite of her sandwich, chewed
and swallowed. “It’s like the play is cursed
that?” MacGyver poked at something green and wobbly
in his salad, trying to identify it.
it was the first play performed here, and everyone knows
the theatre’s got bad luck.” She took a sip
of soda and wiped her mouth.
MacGyver looked up, seeing Penny nod.
I only agreed to work here because I was, well…”
She paused, blushing slightly. “Between jobs, I
guess you could call it. There was some kind of terrible
accident when the theatre was being built – its
not as old as it looks – and a lot of actors won’t
go near it.” She put down the sandwich. “It’s
a shame, the theatre itself is lovely.”
MacGyver ate some salad and reached for his glass of juice.
poor Simon gets kidnapped and Peter – that’s
Conrad – almost gets killed!” She shuddered.
“It’s almost like the play’s coming
true?” MacGyver frowned, swallowed and pushed his
plate aside. “How’s that?”
Penny leaned forward as if sharing a secret, “First
Conrad really nearly gets killed at the wedding, which
is what happens in the play, and then Theodore gets locked
in a tower by Manfred because he helped Isabella escape.
Simon’s Theodore, so…” She shrugged,
believe in curses, but this is starting to sound like
more than coincidence.” MacGyver finished his juice
and set the glass down. “Can you think of anyone
who would want to see the play fold?”
Penny shook her head, stirring the ice in her soda with
the straw. “It’s been really popular and we’ve
had good reviews. I can’t think of anyone who’d
want to shut us down.”
isn’t anyone who’d benefit if you closed?”
MacGyver took the straw from his own drink and folded
it into a knot.
Penny shook her head. “No competition from other
theatres, no-one wants the building… nothing.”
MacGyver ran a hand through his hair. “What else
happens in the play? If we assume that person or persons
unknown are trying to make the play come true, what do
we have to look forward to?”
Penny ticked off points on her fingers. “After Theodore
is captured and put in the tower, he escapes. He gets
Isabella from the church and hides her in a cave to stop
Manfred from finding her. Then he has to fight Manfred’s
knights. But the knight he wounds turns out to be Isabella’s
father, who falls in love with Matilda. That’s me.”
so good. No-one else is dead!” MacGyver nodded.
“What happens next?”
wants to marry Isabella, but she hates him, so he goes
to the church to find her and kill her because she won’t
marry him. But she’s not there, she’s in the
cave, see?” Penny beamed at MacGyver. “At
the same time, Matilda goes to the church to see Theodore,
because she’s secretly in love with him…”
Penny came to a halt as MacGyver held up a finger.
Isabella loved Theodore.” He frowned. “Was
right. But Matilda loves him too.” Penny watched
MacGyver put his head in his hands.
is making my head hurt!” MacGyver shook his head
and sat up again.
right?” Penny smiled. “So, Manfred sees Matilda
and in the gloom he mistakes her for Isabella and stabs
her. I get a really neat death scene! What…?”
MacGyver reached out, taking Penny’s hand in his.
“Manfred kills Matilda, right?”
it’s not just Theodore we need to worry about…”
* * * *
They arrived back at the theatre to find the stage hands
at work on the scenery. Everything had been let down to
stage level and a box of props had been emptied out at
the front of the stage. MacGyver and Penny picked their
way through the clutter and went into the green room.
They had only
been there for a minute when Irene burst in, in floods
of tears and with blood on her shirt. Penny and MacGyver
jumped up to help.
whatever happened?!” Penny took the hysterical girl’s
She sobbed, “It’s Simon! We were attacked!”