Home > Time's Echo (The Chronos Files #1.5)(7)

Time's Echo (The Chronos Files #1.5)(7)
Rysa Walker

"You're not ready yet?" Easley brushes crumbs from his waistcoat, which is stretched a bit too tight over his belly, and settles himself into a seat a few rows from the stage.

I'm reminded of an afternoon when I was maybe seven, sitting on a bench outside a barn at the Cyrist farm with my dad. He was angry, something I'd rarely seen. When I asked why, Da gave a bitter laugh and said he was just tired of dealing with the Cyrist version of the Golden Rule—whoever has the gold makes the rules.

I don't know whether this Easley guy is rich, but he certainly has the attitude down pat. You can tell he likes being in charge. It's a shame I don't have a Cyrist recruitment flyer on me, because he'd fit right in down at the Temple.

"I'm ready," I say. "Just let me get my coat back on."

"The kid's been waiting for over an hour, Erv. So have I." Eliza doesn't seem nearly as cheerful as when we were talking backstage. She casts Easley a glare that is downright poisonous and then walks over to the coffin, followed at a distance by the redhead.

"Daisy is probably smart enough to catch on," Eliza continues, "since all she'll need to do is put on the cuffs and help me spin you around before the reveal. But wouldn't it have been nice to have her here to go over things earlier?" She flashes Daisy a fake smile.

I look over at Daisy, but she doesn't meet my gaze, apparently having discovered something very interesting on the toes of her shoes. Whatever drama is going on here, there's no way I'm getting caught in the middle.

"I guess we'll just have to discuss the details with Daisy afterward. Assuming I get the job."

"You'll get the job." Eliza glances toward the seat where Easley is sitting, his head back and his eyes closed, and then adds under her breath, "Clive didn't give notice. Don't let the Little General fool you—he's desperate for something to close out the first act."

I bite back a laugh. Easley does look a bit like a chubby version of Napoleon, with one hand resting on his gut.

"Well then, let's do this," I say, giving her a smile that I hope looks more confident than I'm feeling. Then, I walk center-stage and bow, sweeping my hat off in one of the grand gestures I practiced over and over with Kate. It still feels hokey.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I…am…the Amazing Boudini. Tonight you will see—"

Easley's eyes are still closed, but his hand goes up, signaling me to stop. "No, no, no. I don't want to see your card tricks, rope tricks or the rabbit you've got up your sleeve. Any fool can learn those and you wouldn't be here if you hadn't mastered them. You'll need ten minutes of filler before your finale and damned if I care what it is. Just skip to the main event and don't waste my time with the crap you feed the audience."

I'm kind of relieved. Skipping the other tricks means there's less chance I'll mess something up. Unfortunately, I practiced the act in order, so I stand there for a minute, trying to remember the lines I use to introduce the finale.

To hell with it. I'll drop the stage act entirely. Easley's an ass, but he's right about one thing. If I can't sell it with the finale, it's never going to work. Stage magicians are a dime a dozen.

I pull the jacket off again, toss it offstage along with my hat, and climb the steps to the wooden platform behind the coffin. Eliza goes up the opposite set of stairs, holding two sets of handcuffs and the keys. Daisy follows a few steps behind me with the other handcuffs and the larger set of shackles for my ankles.

Holding the first set of cuffs above her head, Eliza yanks the chain taut several times. Then she pivots to show it from all angles before starting to attach the cuffs to my wrists.

"Make sure they're tight," Easley chimes in, actually bothering to open one of his eyes. "We need to see what he can do."

"Yes, dearest." She gives him a smile I hope to God I never get from Kate and ratchets the cuffs another notch tighter. When the cuffs are snug—a bit too snug—on my forearms, Daisy follows with the second set, Eliza with the third, and then Daisy attaches the ankle cuffs.

It's tough to balance in these things, so the girls help me sit down on the platform. I spin my feet over the edge and then slip down into the coffin, about six inches below.

As soon as the lid closes, I twist slightly to secure the latch and pull out the CHRONOS key attached to my belt. I lock in the stable point on my bed, twenty minutes after I left for the trolley.

Kate has fallen back asleep, with her arm flung over my pillow, right where I need to land. I scan forward twenty minutes, then half an hour. Then forty minutes. Her arm is still there. I can feel the coffin moving forward as Eliza and Daisy roll it toward the audience, and I know I can't waste any more time hunting for a moment when Kate's not hogging the bed. She's just going to have to deal with that arm getting a bit squished.

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