12 Masque

Posted by davidludwig
Jan 11 2013

Alright, I’ve signed on to the lovely Meg McNulty’s 12 Masque blog challenge. I’ll be around to read the others as soon as time permits.

 

Masquerade

“Do you see anyone you know yet, my dear?”

She looked up at the tall man crooning through the beak fixed below his dark goggles. All in black and smartly dressed he seemed some sort of lord in spite of his bizarre mask. Her hand drifted self-consciously to the white lace affixed around her own eyes, though she sensed everyone would disapprove if she removed it.

“I-I don’t see how I could… All these masks.”

“Ah,” the gentleman practically laughed. “You’re not still trying to look any deeper than that, are you?”

The din of the surrounding revelry was much too loud to think, and yet disturbingly not as loud as it should be for so many people. She felt stifled and isolated at the same time and it was driving her mad. Worst of all, she absolutely could not remember where she was or how she came to be there. Her hands made nervous fists around her practically bridal dress before politely smoothing it back out.

“Well, how could I recognize them without looking beneath the mask?”

“It’s easy! Here, start with that rogue by the punch bowl! What do you see?”

Reflexively her eyes wound their way through the horns, fangs and other facial facsimiles to the tiger-faced man sloshing the contents of the punch bowl over himself. A flock of bird faced women hung from him and seemed to absorb his inebriation.

“A tiger mas—“

“No.” the gentleman interrupted. “You already got it. No more than that.”

It was much too hot. She couldn’t breathe. Looking around she was relieved to discover she was already sitting, as she felt quite faint. Clutching at her chest she peered pathetically up at the tall stranger who hadn’t left her side in all the chaos of the masquerade.

“I’m so sorry, but where are we? How did I get here?”

He practically laughed again, “Can’t you tell?”

She clutched her stomach to keep it from expelling its emptiness. Unable to speak, she simply shook her head as tears damped her mask.

Kneeling to her side the beaked gentleman gently ran a leather gloved finger down her cheek.

“I’m sorry, my lady. I’ve drugged you and dragged you to hell. But do not worry, for it is but a dream, and come morning all will be as it should once more.”

Staring into her own face reflected in impenetrable black goggles the name of a kitchen boy she’d never paid any real mind bubbled from her throat.

“Antonio?”

Effortlessly he lifted her from her stupor and into his dark arms.

“Dance with me? Until dawn?”

She nodded and was swept away into the night.

9 Responses

  1. Meg McNulty says:

    WOW! This is so sultry and dream-like at the same time! I’m sorry InLinkz failed you but I’m so glad you wrote a tale for the challenge. It’s fantastic!

  2. This is great! Great atmosphere and really interesting tension between the two of them. I kind of like Antonio — even if I can’t totally approve of his methods! ha.

  3. It is dreamlike, but there’s such a chilling and uncomfortable undertone, I really feel for her! Great writing!

  4. Diane J Reed says:

    Whoa, stolen by the kitchen boy who’s drugged and dragged her to hell? Is it towards a dream-like paradise or nightmare? That’s the thing with masks—they can be romantic & provocative or ghoulish, depending on the situation & the quality of light. Very compelling!

  5. Lizzie Koch says:

    Rather sinister undertones entwined with the romance of the dancing till dawn. The romantic in me thinks she will be safe with Antonio despite his methods to get her to notice/dance with him. Great story telling. x

  6. Very nice piece. Well written with nice images. I liked the black goggles. :)

  7. Dreamscape or nightmare? There’s something dark and, as Lisa says, shilling here. You do a great job of pulling us along through your character’s discomfort and fear and confusion.

  8. Emilia Quill says:

    I love that I can see the masquerade and the atmosphere’s exquisite and nightmarish. Antonio sounds interesting.
    “…come morning as it should be once more.”, does it mean all will be the same or will she see Antonio differently, I love wondering.

  9. davidludwig says:

    Thank you so much for the comments! They’re much appreciated, even if I didn’t have time to approve them before now–trouble with manually filtering spam comments. I am still planning to get around to reading the other entries, but have just been behind on a lot of things as of late.

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