Man in a Mask

Eyes like obsidian peek from behind his Guy Fawkes mask. Its twisted grin is like the antithesis to the gaping frown of mine. And yet, the foreshadowing of anarchy feels all the same. There’s a suave air to him as he dances up alongside me, just within reach and yet so far away. The energy between us feels static, like a live wire connects us.

I can feel the beat coursing through my entire being, the vibrations rising from the floor. It flows through my veins like fire and pounds in my head like a jackhammer. My hips gyrate in time with it, heat coming off of the mass of sweaty, writhing bodies all around me. The brightly colored strobe lights match our frantic movements. I always did love a good rave.

A warm, tingling sensation overtakes me as more of my tragedy slips out, mixing with the drugs and booze like a delectable cocktail. It leaches into these poor unfortunate souls, pushing them to lose the rest of their inhibitions and dance like there’s no tomorrow because there won’t be. At least not for them. And I don’t care. I don’t care about them at all. I never did actually, which is a fact Melpomene despises about me. Truth be told, there’s only one person I care about in this life, and she wants me dead. Gone. Erased. 

“Oh naïve little Melpomene, you can’t get rid of me. I’m a part of you. There’s no you without me. I’m the darkness you cannot run from,” I croon. I know you’re in there. I know you can hear me. You just won’t remember this conversation in the morning. I let out a fit of giggles, catching some odd glances in my direction. I give them a playful wink in return, my eyes the only thing they can see of my face behind my tragic mask. What they can’t see is the devilish smile underneath its frown.

I inhale, pulling the metaphorical lid off of my powers. A low hum fills my ears as my mask amplifies them. A warm pleasure overtakes me, and gold ichor tears trickle down my cheeks as people start dropping like flies left and right. This feeling. It’s what I live for.

The world around me twists and sways, and the once blaring music now sounds garbled to my ears, like my head is underwater. The strobe lights explode in brilliant displays of shapes and color, and amidst my trippy new world, a man materializes. My vision of him is clear as day, a stark contrast to the more or less abstract art that my surroundings have become. He seems so out of place and yet so familiar. I just can’t quite put my finger on it.

The mystery man glides across the dancefloor to me. Eyes like obsidian peek from behind his Guy Fawkes mask. Its twisted grin is like the antithesis to the gaping frown of mine. And yet, the foreshadowing of anarchy feels all the same. There’s a suave air to him as he dances up alongside me, just within reach and yet so far away. The energy between us feels static, like a live wire connects us.

“Who are you?” I ask, mesmerized.

“Just a man in a mask,” he replies, his voice smooth as silk. 

“Aren’t we all?” I can see the smile in his eyes at the deeper meaning of my words. He inclines his head before he reaches out to me. I note that his skin is pale and flawless, almost like a porcelain doll. I take his hand, and a shock goes through me. I giggle as he spins me, and his hearty resounding laughter fills my head, bouncing around in my skull. Clouds of colored smoke billow up around us, obscuring the corpses littering the floor as we twist and sway. Time is irrelevant as we dance the night away to the beat of our own drum.

###

I let out a content sigh, staring out at the carnage from our booth. I watch the man in the mask out of the corner of my eyes. How he is unfazed by all this is beyond me. It’s not often I meet someone like me who can stare death in the face and smile. “I want to see your face, and knowing your name would be nice too,” I say. I lift a hand, reaching out to touch his mask. I jump when he suddenly grabs my wrist.

“Don’t.” The tone of his voice has changed, causing the hairs on the back of my neck to stand on end. What was once smooth as silk is now gravelly and almost grating on the ears. He lets out a sigh of what sounds like exasperation, as if he realizes he screwed up. Something’s not right here. 

“Who are you?!!” I demand as I struggle to free myself from his iron grip. When he finally does, I leap out of the booth, nostrils flaring. I draw more power from my well, pushing myself to my limits. I’m ready to hit this poser with all I have when suddenly I’m frozen in place. I-I can’t move. Why can’t I move? 

“It’s time for you to wake up, Melpomene,” he says. He lifts a hand, and with a snap of his fingers, my eyes fly open. I jolt upright in bed with a scream, only to realize there’s something stuck to my face. My screaming hits a fever pitch as I rip my tragic mask off, chucking it across the room. And as I throw the covers off of myself and bolt out of my bedroom, I swear I hear his laughter following me.

I fly into the bathroom, slamming the door closed behind me. Shaking like a leaf, I cower in the corner. Who was that, and why did it feel so real? Was it just a dream or a memory? What is going on?!

Wedged between the toilet and the bathtub, I curl up into the fetal position, rocking myself. “There, there.” Her voice fills my head as she takes control again, and this time, I don’t fight it. “You need me. I’m the only thing keeping you together.”

I pick Melpomene off of the cold floor, giving her the courage to head back the way we came. In the bedroom, my gaze searches for the mask, finding it propped up against the back wall. I shake my head, scooping it up. 

“So, you want to play, do ya, little ghosty? Then let’s play.” I put the mask back on my face and shiver as its familiar, intoxicating warmth courses through me. I stumble, collapsing onto the bed. A shuddering breath leaves my lips as I fall back into that trippy little world, our blessed escape from reality. 

Melpomene (M.N. Kee)
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