It was a time of unveiling.
She had gone to them all, a simple bystander in the back of the room as the crowd stood around the covered monument, murmuring amongst themselves.
"How did he die?"
"Some say it was a heart attack."
"He was murdered by KGB."
"He poisoned himself."
"It was starvation, did you not see how frail he was?"
"It was his genius that killed him!"
"It was insanity. The man was old and senile and never ate meat!"
"It was loneliness. All his friends had passed on and he had no one."
"It was heartbreak. I heard his secret lover for many years had passed away and he couldn't live without her so his heart gave out so he could join her in the afterlife."
Helen listened to all these stories, all these theories; the tragic and comedic; the horrendously false and the oddly true.
It had been almost ten years since the death of Nikola Tesla.
He had been found in his room at the Hotel New Yorker, dead from an apparent heart attack. A rather bland death for such a remarkable man, but it was the best she could do given the circumstances.
Only then had the world recognized what fools they'd been. Now they erected monuments, statues, plaques, reminders that he had lived and that he had tried.
Only Helen and a select few knew the truth. She'd been to every unveiling, from funeral to auction, reclaiming stolen or lost property, bribing officials and lying to family members.
For life to go on Nikola had to die. For the war to go on, Nikola Tesla had to die.
It was a cool day in late June. The last few days of spring as the world decided to melt into summer. The group of onlookers, reporters, supporters, and bystanders stood outside the doors of the Technical Museum, a veritable plethora of whirring, ticking, and steaming machinery and the strange people who had invented them.
Words were spoken, some clapping, more gossip amongst the audience of this mysterious man who they had all come for.
Then it was unveiled; a perfect bronze bust, a complete likeness of her old friend. More applause.
Helen sighed. She really should stop going to these things. They were insufferable. The hypocrisy, the detestation, the fake admiration; these people bored her with all their idiotic notions over the scientist and his work.
She was fed up with it all, but this time it was different, she was here for a reason. She was asked to be here.
Where the bloody hell was he?
She scanned the crowd once more, being careful not to draw too much attention to herself.
Her eyes fell back to the bronze bust at the front of the courtyard. In a moment she felt the presence of another walk up beside her. Out of the corner of her eye she could just see the edge of his beige suit, the rim of his brown fedora, and a subtle glint of the rose colored glasses covering his grey-blue eyes.
"Quite the likeness, is it not?" said the stranger.
She did not make eye contact, but kept her gaze focused on the bronze face across the court.
"Yes, quite," she agreed, nodding her head slightly.
"Quite the enigma," continued the strange man. "I mean the man."
"Why did it take you so long?" she said quietly, so as not to disturb the fellow members in the audience.
"It's not easy traveling these days," said the man, his voice at the same level as hers.
The two remained fixed to the front. To any other person they would look like they were watching the ceremony.
"You got my message," he said to her, slipping a scrap of paper into her hand.
"Well, I'm here, aren't I?" she tightly held on to the note.
"I did state that it was urgent," he added.
"I know that's why I came. Now tell me what is so urgent you had to come out of hiding?" she asked the strange man and she could hear him chuckle dryly.
"Not here, we're being watched," he whispered into her ear. "I'll come find you then I promise all will be revealed."
Before she could turn her head to look at him he was gone, as if carried away by the wind.
She unfolded the note in her hand. It read simply: "Two men in black by the tree."
Helen casually let her gaze crawl to what the note mentioned, taking a quick glance before faking a sneeze and covering her face with her gloved hand.
Seeing her confirmation was enough to convince her to leave the heavily crowded court and head down the street, walking briskly, hoping her mysterious contact wasn't far off.
She could sense she was being followed and pretended to window shop casually as the small, little family-owned boutiques and pastry shops scattered along the streets of Vienna's Penzing district.
They continued to follow her at a distance, as she stopped and pretended to adjust her hat while eyeing them in the side mirror of a red Ford convertible parked on the street,
Helen wiped off some imaginary dust from her blue skirt before walking on. She was starting to get worried, as her companion was nowhere to be seen.
Suddenly she felt a hand on her shoulder.
"Ma'am, could you come with us please?" asked one of the strange men who had been following her.
"What?" she decided to play dumb. "Who are you?"
She turned around to face them.
"What do you want from me?" she asked them innocently.
"That man you were with at the museum, where is he?" asked the other strange man.
"I don't know, he just came up and began talking to me."
"What did he talk about?" the man kept pushing.
"Tedious stuff. The weather, how he enjoyed springtime in Vienna; he admired the statue, asked me if I was single, then left," she said as cluelessly as she could manage. "I don't know him, nor am I likely to, I'm just waiting for my husband to finish his business here so I can go home."
"He gave you something, what did he give you?" the man continued to push.
"He asked for my number, think he had a liking for me but I did not give it to him. I promise, he is a stranger to me," she looked at him fearfully and they looked at each other.
"If you see this man again, call this number ma'am," they handed her a card with a telephone number on it.
"Why? Who is this man?"
"Possibly the most dangerous threat this world has to offer."
With that, the men left heading across the street to continue their search.
Helen exhaled with a huff as soon as they were far enough away, tucking the card into her clutch.
She turned and began to walk again, glad to have the hounds off her tail, but before she could get very far she was tugged into the alleyway, a hand smothering her cry of surprise.
"Shhh," she recognized the voice.
He released her mouth and she turned out of his arms to glare at her companion.
"Nikola Tesla," she admonished him. "My god, who have you upset now?" she fumed at him.
"They came after me! I was minding my own business, just like you asked and then they showed up, asking questions, breaking into my home and rifling through my files," he sighed.
"What have you done this time?" she growled.
"What have you done?" she reiterated more sternly.
"I swear Helen, I don't know," he said honestly and she sighed.
"Oh Nikola, even in death you manage to get yourself into trouble."
Nikola chuckled and gestured dramatically with his hand down the alleyway.
"Welcome to Vienna, meine Liebe," he gave her a wide and familiar smirk and took her hand, leading her further down the alleyway.
Helen sighed. Actually killing him would've been much simpler.
My take on Vienna in Springtime. It's already pretty adventurous :) Nikola, Helen, somebody following them, danger, intrigue...some surprises along the way...i think you'll have fun :P