Night at the Ballet

Submitted into Contest #123 in response to: Start your story looking down from a stage.... view prompt

4 comments

Crime Drama Historical Fiction

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

The overture is chaotic and is thick in the theatre. From the ground level seats, it is overwhelming but the nosebleed seats allow it to be quieter and drummed out. The box overlooks the stage in a regal way. The stage itself is lit with the vibrancy of the gold and red curtain. The columns in the ballet itself are grand and secure. The onlooker seems far away from the very small performers that will soon enter the stage. As though the man had paid to be royalty for a night and ruled over the rest of the cast members of the ballet, he pats the Tokarev pistol placed under his suit jacket. After all, he was technically on duty and required to protect his favorite performer. 

The precious cargo he was to protect was on stage, the daughter of his boss, and coincidentally his fiancé. He started working as her bodyguard and somehow earned her good graces enough for her to like him. He had no clue how that happened but was happy about it nevertheless. As much as it elated him to watch the girl move around in a graceful and athletic way, he was technically working which set him on edge. He had no clue what the target looked like besides a brief description that made them seem ghostly.

If it was a quiet night he would be thankful. No gun battle on the streets of St. Petersburg, no alleyway confrontations, no change of blood-soaked clothes at the end of the night. A pleasant night with elegant music watching a beautiful girl dance. It would be preferable to a night of stakeouts and exchanges. Some normalcy and peace would be nice, but he would not have what he does if not for the acceptance of his violent lifestyle. 

[...]

Even though he is not a person for high art, he is here for her. Her small chorus part had excited the young woman for months, and being supportive in such a small enjoyment seemed necessary. The music from Romeo and Juliet was something familiar to him. With open, brash crescendos and sharp, executive turns; the music moved less like a waltz and more like a clear, unhurried, march. It was steady and had an ominous flow that drew the listener in much like the original story itself. 

His heart picks up pace at the sight of his lover. She is small in frame but still graced with some strong curves. Her figure was feminine and pulled his eyes as she moved in rhythm with the music. The elegance of it made his heart unable to be still while watching timed movements. His mind drifted from the gun on his hip and lingered on the delicacy of artistka baleta. 

Black covers his vision. There is nothing in his eyes, screams are in his ears, and smoke is in his nostrils. The jolt in the environment has alerted his senses as he feels around for his gun and pulls it out in horror while still trying to keep it concealed. The chaos is broad amongst the audience members. A thudding stampede can be heard on the floor as the doors are opened and people flee to the streets of the city. His thoughts run rampant, ‘is she okay?’ and ‘is this the target bratva spoke of?’.

He turns to run the other way and begins to make his way down the hallway to the backstage. He can’t lose her the same way he lost the rest of his family. Grey walls, cold prisons, and bullets in skulls. The targets could elicit just as much fear as those childhood memories of loss. As the lights return to full operation in the ballet, the backstage succumbs to more disorder than the audience. 

“Have you seen her?”, he asks a cast member. They are unaware of who she is until he gives a name. 

The other cast member looks confused, “we haven’t seen her at all. Everyone who was onstage ran back to-”, the bodyguard's face is pale white at the thought of the disappearance of his future wife, and also the possible presence of the target he was supposed to protect her from. 

“Move!” He slams through the door determined to find her. A predator trying to protect something valuable from another predator. It was two wolves fighting over something, power, money, the girl herself. Their target was a monster, but so was the bodyguard. The only difference is one had a bare string connecting them to the moral law and another had cut that years ago.

St. Petersburg is cold and biting in the night air. It stabs like a knife, a reminder of his early days before being a trained killer. His starving family, his sacrificed mother, him being the last of his kin. He shouldn’t be here, running on the streets and alive while they rot in some unknown grave in a barren wasteland. His life was bought by their deaths at the hand of the cancerous state of human sin, starving peasants, and the pigs that played with their lives like dice.  

There are now people outside of the ballet crowding around him in the open street. The movement and breath of the people is illuminated in the burning light, but what catches his eye is a black cloak that slips behind the building, a thing in the night. At the sight of this, his feet hit the cobblestone as he shoves through the crowd. He enters into a narrow alleyway to follow the movement of the suspect, he is enshrouded in the dark visions of thieves and heathens. Monsters of the night that he had been forced to become after his time in the business. 

He began to move slowly and with conscientiousness. The Tokarev was being loaded with the cartridge in preparation for an onsite kill, he would have to cover it, as long as the law cooperated with them, there would be no issues to come out of his hunt.

He knows where it is, the target, as he walks behind the ballet. He has to prepare to be shot at or stabbed. Preparing for the first may protect him from the second as well, but there is always a threat of a bigger snake hiding in the shadows. Something much viler could present itself before the night is over. 

“Bratva!” A human, barely a human, a serpent moved into the light. He had black hair shagging to the bottom of his neck. There was some former humanity in the thing that emerged, but it remained less than human; a creature, a killer, a devil. A shell of a soul in a handsome charming face now held the limp body of the girl who was dancing on stage only a few minutes ago. Aside from the girl, on his arm is a red band, a signifier of a much darker evil.

The guard’s thoughts remember those same red bands on those who murdered his family. Monsters who were decorated as statesmen, and smiled as they severed souls from bodies. They were past the point of being called men, being called human, the manufactured way in which the slain millions had removed that grace. 

“Give her back!” The man calls out at the creature smiling across from him. He lunges and abruptly pulls out the gun and points it. His handshakes at the sight of his fiancé, small, cold, barely there but present. There was still life, but he was scared that it was at stake. 

“Uh, uh, uh! I’d be careful before I moved any closer.” A warning from the monster sounds like a childish wave in a nursery. A warning to a young one not to go past a certain boundary and the threat that it may pose.

The gun is let down silently as his breath stretches into the air. “What did you do?”, a snarl escapes in the low blue tones of darkness. He fears for the girl’s fate, she looks so delicate in the preservation of a misty evening. The low visibility makes the shot much more difficult than it would be on a clear night.

The snake smiles, “nothing, as of yet”. The grimace only seems to widen with the eerie silence. The unsettling feeling grows in the bodyguard, a warning. The fog forms behind it, making them seem much more intimidating than before. There was a disturbing control being held and it was not by the one with the gun in hand. 

“What do you want out of this?”

“Nothing, that is nothing you’d be willing to give up.” A conniving snicker escapes the mouth of the deceiver. 

“Let her go!” The man’s voice is raised and ready to attack. His blood is curdling at the very sound of the opponent’s voice.

“Take her from me!” A sudden lung and disappearance of the reptile alerts the bodyguard.

The gun cocks and snaps. Bang! The man breathes heavily in the blowback and runs towards the point of his target, only to find he is not there and neither is his fiancé. He calls his lover's name and looks off to the side to see something he didn’t want to see. 

“No!” he runs over to her, grief chokes up his throat. He is thankful she is still breathing but distraught that her blood will be what he is cleaning up when this long night is over. He curses under his breath and carries her away, hoping to get help, looking for safety.

December 08, 2021 00:44

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4 comments

Tanya Humphreys
18:21 Dec 17, 2021

Reedsy Critiquer here... Very well written story. In particular, I really enjoy your descriptions, especially the music. I felt like I could see and hear the theatre. Here's where I get nit-picky... Some words are redundant, without them the story would flow better. For example, "...her figure was feminine..." (Duh, of course it is) I just feel that because you are so good at descriptions, this one could be better. It is unclear who Bratva is. "...is this the target Bratva spoke of?" Here, one thinks it's the girl's father, the hirer ...

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L.J Sunwing
21:30 Dec 17, 2021

Thank you so much for reading and I'm happy you liked it! Also, nit-picking is welcome. I wouldn't grow without it!

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Connie Elstun
02:05 Dec 16, 2021

Good job. Thanks for sharing your creativity.

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L.J Sunwing
14:18 Dec 16, 2021

Thank you so much!! I'm happy to do so.

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