Tonight I went to the theatre again. It had been some time, and the night was dark when I crept through the ruined back wall. There were shadows, and in the shadows there were shadows, but I still had to go.
It had been a long time coming. Talks had broken down, vanished into mist, evaporated like condensation on glass. It had been so long I lost the location of where I needed to go, more than once. But tonight, tonight I found it.
It did disturb me, a bit, seeing the soulless husks clustered near the backstage door. Had they once been living, breathing dolls, or were they always just constructs, momentary whims of imagination? Had I been a whim to begin with?
Some of them had the ability to move, to intercept, some did not, but to their credit, no one tried. Or perhaps, their instructions prevented them from moving against another of his creations. I didn't stay long enough to ask; I needed access to the backstage area, where dolls and dancers changed. Or...were changed.
Strangely, the back door led out to moss underfoot, the lapping of waves at a dark shore, and a half-ruined temple, with a portal gate. That seemed unnecessary, but he always loved embellishment. Holding my breath, I went through the swirling violet, hoping to find what I sought on the other side.
And there it was. Mine at last. The key he'd given me originally, the key I'd given back to him when I still had hope. There is no hope now, and I'm taking it back. The source of the doll's power will be under his control no longer, and she will fade into the mists, never to be seen again. I may still be a shifter, but I have no more need for shifting into porcelain and piano wire, powered by the key and attention.
No more keys. No more dolls. No more strings.
(Pictures taken in The Arpeggio abandoned theatre and the Hum and Shiver haunt in Picklemoon. I can highly reccommend both.)