OMNIS FALSUS EST

SUMMARY: Um… kinda difficult to sum it up. I guess the whole thing will eventually be a long good versus evil story, with a load of other plot threads thrown in - romance, drama, angst, gay love… (but not for quite a while…). For now, here's the prologue. A building… and a girl.

RATING: The whole thing will eventually be anywhere between PG-13 and R, but this is a PG.

(DIS)CLAIMER: This is all mine. All the characters (there are more later), places and situations belong to me. No archiving without my EXPRESS permission.

AUTHOR'S NOTES: I started this a few years ago after I dreamt it and never found out the ending of the dream (you know how it is…) so decided to write my own. As usual, it's all perfectly formed in my head and won't translate into any known language. I'm putting this prologue up for a month only! Yes, one month, then I'm pulling it down. I'm just searching for people's opinions, so please, read and review. My quest for professionalism depends on you lovely FFN people…

However, my personal record is 10 reviews. If I get 15 or more, Chapter One might actually appear…

Omnis Falsus Est

This work © T'eyla Minh 1999/2001

Prologue

There it sits, dilapidated, yet determined to survive - ramshackle chaos, small and grey, in a row of order, great heights, and garish colour. The window-shutters broken, their hinges rusted and hanging from the worm-infested wooden frames. The once-bright stained glass dull and lifeless, and the pictures depicted thereon no longer recognisable. The once grand marble steps appear battered and pock-holed from so many years of rain, spike heels, walking-canes, deliveries of heavy crates… worsened by months of neglect. Many hundreds of roof tiles, more black than red, positioned askew and in dire need of repair. The brickwork, crumbling; the once imposing double doors, crooked and cracked; and the walls, so strong in their time, now barely able to support the ruined roof atop them. A single, narrow chain and a small padlock now in place of the rotting keyhole, the key long vanished. Above it, a canopy overhangs, concave and dark with broken light bulbs and exposed wires. Curious shapes protrude at strange angles from the sides, angular, broken.

A sign to the place's identity hangs from a lone nail at its corner, swinging lightly in the breeze with an ominous creak. However, the wording upon it has long since been crudely blacked out.

What is this anonymous catastrophe, this travesty of a building?

Perhaps it is a house, abandoned and left to disrepair Maybe it was a shop that, no longer bringing profit, was put up for sale… maybe that is what the sign says underneath the angry black paint. A grand mansion of some noble family from days of yore, a carefully preserved relic of the past? An old church, then, condemned, unopened and unfixed due to lack of funding? No. It is none of these things.

If one were to ask the locals for the identity of this forlorn creation, it is likely they would not remember. Its air of mystery and suspicion permeates the village it resides in. Once, it dominated. Now, it is nothing more than a nuisance, like an animal that needs to be put to sleep for its own safety. Like such animals, the people are too fond of it… yet they will not allow it to be refurbished, and will not acknowledge its existence.

There are pictures of it in books in the library, but no information. The old, hand-drawn images, scrawled tenuously in black ink, are only the vaguest reflection of what it might have looked like in its day.

Today, for all outward purposes, it is nothing but a blot on the perfect landscape of a developed street. Sharp geometric buildings of steel, granite and glass now oversee the rest of the village, as it clamours for Town status. And this grey-stone ruin seems so small, squashed uncomfortably between an office block and a bank. Its three storeys pale in comparison to the thirty on either side of it.

It is alone, abandoned, and left to the torture of Mother Nature. It is nothing. But once… it was something. Something beautiful, a landmark that the village-folk were proud of. The windows shone in sunlight and moonshine, the steps glistened under the bright electric lights. Each gargoyle on each corner kept watch, unblinking, all-seeing. The roof-tiles sparkled, deep crimson, perfectly aligned. The doors with their wrought ironwork kept the weather at bay, but opened onto a grand, lavish interior. An interior that exists no more, locked forever from the world.

This building was a theatre, teeming with life - actors, audience, staff. Now it is nothing but the dead shell of itself, waiting to cave in and end the torment. It was small for a theatre, but large enough to accommodate the villagers and any newcomers or visitors, and the shows were the highlight of every month. Something happened here.

It is raining. It is always raining, so it seems. A young woman stands opposite the theatre, hands jammed into her coat pockets for warmth, a scarf hiding most of her features. She has no hat, and her hair is sodden. She knows this place. It has been too long since her last visit.

Slowly, she moves her booted feet towards the doors, up the four rough steps. She looks up into the pitch black of the canopy, an abyss with no end. It is familiar, and reminds her of a time long ago. She presses a bare hand to the doors. They are warm, and seem to heave as if breathing. Of course, it is only the hinges compensating to the change in pressure.

The space between the two has widened a little over time, and she peers through, hoping to glimpse what she only remembers in vague dreams. It is impossible, there is no light inside. From her shoulder-bag, she produces a small screwdriver, and proceeds to pick the padlock. After several futile attempts, there is a click that seems to echo off every surface. As the chain falls to the floor with a hideous clatter, she breathes in deeply, remembering each smell, then puts a hand on each door. She closes her eyes, and pushes.

The doors creak gratefully, the sound resonating through her like the voice of an old friend, familiar. They stop when their springs allow it, and bounce lightly before halting completely. The girl slowly opens her eyes and surveys what lies within.

It is just as dark. She scrutinises it more carefully, attempting to adjust her eyes to the wall of black. A random flash of lighting suddenly illuminates everything, and a cry of despair escapes her, mingled with bitter defeat. There is nothing beyond the doors, only a field of grey. It is nothing more than a stone box. She steps inside in case it is an illusion, but it remains the same. It is, truly, a shell.

She leans against the door - it groans against her weight - and slides down it to a sitting position. The floor is cold and unfamiliar to her, as she wraps her arms around her knees. She begins to weep, her body shaking, and then, when her grief is purged, she stares dead ahead. Loosening her grip on herself, she starts to remember… A time several years ago, when she was a girl, and the theatre was full of life… and she remembers, in vivid detail, every event that led to this moment…

To be continued…