Author : Jacinta A. Meyers
“Oh!” Justice jumped, spilling the two hundred year-old cabernet all over his ratty clothes. “Y’know what we got here, fellas?”
The other two looked at him. He was grinning like a fool, strings of diamonds draped over his neck and clothes dark with the wine.
“We done confiscated the king’s music box!”
“Music box?” Burgess arched a brow.
“Saw it on the Web-waves.” Reaching a grubby hand out, Justice touched the glass. “It’s old. Worth millions, I reckon.”
Citizen ran a hand over his chin. The rings on his fingers glistened. “Worth more than the crown jewels themselves?”
“Not sure, but it’s worth lots. And hell, anything’ll help the rev’lution.” Justice nudged Burgess with a knowing elbow. “Eh?”
But Burgess was staring into the dome. There was a boy inside, sitting on a small patch of marble. A violin lay beside him. The child’s eyes held such sadness, it hurt to look at him. “How old you say?” He asked absently.
“Well, from the twenty-third cent’ry at least.” Justice was nodding. “They made ‘im look older though. Costume and all,” he pointed to the elaborate waistcoat, the lace at the boy’s neck and sleeves.
Citizen leaned forward eagerly, a hungry expression on his face. “Don’t suppose we could take a listen…”
“Don’t see why not.” Justice shrugged. He stepped forward and gave the gilded base a kick. “Come on now, play you bloody thing.”
The boy got slowly to his feet. He tucked the violin beneath his chin and raised its bow in his hand. He began to play.
At first they heard nothing. Then, gradually, they began to notice a low rumbling. The air filled with a sound, the most delicate thing imaginable. The men stood staring in awe, listening.
“How’s it work?” Citizen whispered.
“He’s makin’ the glass vibrate from inside…” Justice whispered back. “That’s what we’re hearin’. Like a bell or somethin’.”
But Burgess was weeping, big fat tears rolling silently down his cheeks. He couldn’t bear it. Taking up the bar they’d used to pry the box’s case open, he swung it at the dome.
There was a soul-shattering clatter. Shards of glass shot everywhere. Justice and Citizen stood there, mouths agape. “What’d you do?!”
The boy stared too, then dropped to the ground. Burgess went to him, held him up, watched as he began to age rapidly before their eyes. The skin of his face crinkled like old paper. But he was smiling, the violin still clasped in his shriveled hand. “Merci,” he whispered. “Merci.”