I could hear the music and I had to smile as it was the only piece of music for the moment. Wilson Picket was singing in the hour, and the hour was midnight as it always was in my mind. The door was broader than I was tall and the party was in full swing behind it.
I pushed and it moved, smoothly and without sound.
The music shifted, louder and bolder, billowing down from the tips of the rafters to the spiders hanging behind the wood clad walls.
The people were strangers, but not to each other.
It was like every party I had ever seen.
This was not my world but yours.
Do you remember that celebration? The one you only remember through a happy haze? The one where kisses were stolen and memories were made? Do you remember the person on the edge of it, nursing the same drink all night and looking forlorn?
That was this party and he was me.
I pushed along the edge of the room, all the seats were empty, draped in their coats and inhabited by their bags. Empty glasses decorated the tables, a liberal scattering of food wrappers competing for any empty space.
Someone caught my arm and I looked up into strange eyes, they were rheumy and they did not see me.
Words were spoken, but though they were in my language they were not of it. I broke free and moved on. A door stood half hidden behind the dark edges of a stage. I looked up and saw a man, he saw a figure resembling me but not me. More words, these buried under music, followed by a laugh.
I slipped through the door and into a world of muted sounds and safe distances’.
The building was different here, the spell of glamour not reaching so deep as to have an effect. The stone was crumbling, the wood pockmarked with worm, and the lead of the windows curled by heat. A wooden table, probably eight inches thick, supported a pot as large as a witches’ cauldron. It was long unused and any potions concocted in it had long since dried.
Here and there sections of the windows had fallen free and the wind moaned until what remained rattled in place. The shadows of trees moved, their fingers brushing the time worm glass as if entreating entry.
From behind me the muted music played and from ahead the wind moaned, but it was to my side where a sound drew me. Under the table some creature cried a solitary cry.
The dogs’ eyes met my own and perhaps for the first time in an age I smiled.
He was huge, a Doberman, or my minds mutation of one; a breed I recognised more for its colouring than its actual shape.
It whimpered and I felt the cold of the room and heard the eerie noises entering through the smashed windows.
I reached out a hand and the huge animal lowered its head and pressed its cheek against my palm. As it moved a wrist thick chain at its throat shifted and a nametag the size of a credit card swung into view.
Radu, it read and so “Radu” I said, and the animal’s happiness was a light in the darkness.
I was stood between the muted music of life and the howling wind of the afterlife and I caught Radu’s fear of the strangeness that surrounded him.
We’re in this together, I thought to him, monsters to other people’s eyes or to our own, it makes little difference
Then my smile broadened and I began to hatch a plan.
posted by Alan Preece
on November, 20