My voluptuous ball gown swishes and sways as my hips move to the beat of the music. It flows through my veins like molten lava, and the lyrics roll off my tongue in an intoxicating melody. I’m soft and inviting, yet dark and devastating, as my power rolls off of me in disconcerting waves. Blue-green eyes boring into the crowd, I watch as the partygoers twist and twirl to the strumming of the musicians. Skirts fan out like razor blades as their partners spin them faster and faster to the crescendoing beat.
Pop. Pop. Pop. As my voice climbs, the lights crackle and pop, the sparks reflecting off of my ghost white hair. I glide and weave through the crowd of writhing bodies. Sweat drips from their gaudy masks, soaking their tailored suits and gowns. I can see the exhaustion in their eyes and the tremor of their muscles, but I don’t care. I’ll make them dance until they bleed. The screams that fill the air are delicious as monsters form on the edges of their vision. One by one, they fall into madness, and I relish the high I get from their slow demise.
BEEP. BEEP. BEEP. I wake up to the sound of my noxious alarm clock blaring at an ungodly volume. Groaning, I blindly reach out for my bedside table, feeling around. I hit the snooze button and snuggle back into the sheets, mumbling something about needing more sleep. It doesn’t take long for me to drift off into a peaceful slumber again.
BUZZ. BUZZ. BUZZ. “Oh for crying out loud!” I exclaim, my eyes shooting open. I lift my head enough to glare at my phone blaring from where it’s perched on the dresser out of reach. I throw a satin pillow at it as the alarm only gets louder and louder, but the little black square hardly makes it halfway before falling to the ground.
“Ugh, do I have to go to work?” I complain, but nonetheless, I throw the sheets off and peel myself from the comfort of my bed. I trudge across the room and, grabbing my phone, turn off the alarm. Truth be told, I don’t have the best of luck with technology, so to be on the safe side, I keep two alarms. Besides, I have a business to run. I don’t have the luxury of sleeping in.
I pull on some fuzzy black slippers and run a brush through my tangled hair, before heading downstairs in a zombie-like state. I won’t be fully awake until I have my coffee. Black. Black as my soul. That’s how I like it.
The old wood steps creak under my feet as I descend the long staircase. Black walnut paneling paired with skeleton motif wallpaper lines the stairwell, and a decorative wood archway rises high above my head. I run my hand over the smooth banister as the stairs twist and turn. This house was built in the early 1800s, and while I have made some changes to modernize it, I’ve left most of it as is.
As my feet hit the ground floor, I hear the familiar meows of my undead cat Bones. I look down at him with a smile as he rubs his dull orange head on my legs. Bending, I scoop up his bony frame. He has a large kink in his tail and is missing large chunks of fur in various spots, revealing the ragged muscles and jagged bones underneath. I scratch him under his chin as he looks up at me with his clouded over eyes. He may not be the prettiest to look at, but I love him dearly. I kiss him on the head before setting him back down. I move along the hall, passing the drawing room and dining room as I make a beeline for the kitchen where my coffee awaits.
Rubbing my eyes, I go into autopilot, grabbing utensils and ingredients out of the cupboards and setting it on the marble countertop. I fill a plastic cup with water, grab the coffee grounds and filter before turning—I let out a loud yelp, stumbling backward. I’m sprayed with coffee grounds and water as my back slams into the island cabinet. Propped up against my coffee machine is my ancient Greek tragic mask. It stares back at me with its large void eyes and gaping mouth twisted into a permanent frown.
I let out a strangled chuckle, shaking my head at myself. “It’s a good thing I can’t die from a heart attack.” I laugh, before sighing at the gigantic mess I made. I guess I have to clean this up before I can have my coffee.
After doing a thorough cleaning, I go back to the errant mask. I’ve been talking about putting up some cameras to catch it in the act of moving from room to room, but I just never got around to it. A chill goes through me the moment I touch it. I pull my hand back, hesitating as goosebumps prickle across my bare skin. Remind me again why I kept this haunted thing.
My brows furrow. Why can’t I remember how I got it? I wrack my brain, but to no avail. I’m filled with unease as I’m once again faced with the glaring holes in my memory. Millennia go by, and I have more questions than answers. I shrug it off, scooping up the mask, before heading back through the house to the drawing room. The way the interior is designed makes you feel as if you’ve stepped back in time, straight to the Victorian era. Large head to toe windows are positioned at the front of the room, draped with heavy dark blue curtains. A simple fireplace with a large mirror above the mantle is situated on the adjacent wall. The room has a high ceiling with decorative gold stenciling. The dark red walls are covered in ornate trims, and authentic Victorian and ancient Greek artifacts dot the room.
I move over to an empty glass display case at the back of the room, shaking my head as I see that it is open. “I don’t know how you do it,” I remark, carefully placing the mask inside. Closing the case, I frown when I see the key still in the lock. Did I sleepwalk or something and open it? A niggling sensation prods the back of my skull. I brush it off. That’s a mystery for another day. I turn the lock and pocket the key before heading back to the kitchen.
A thick fog swirls around my feet as I walk through the cemetery. Sipping from my thermos that has a skull and crossbones and the word “Poison” written on it in bold letters, I take in the hauntingly beautiful scenery. My house lies in a small wooded area at the back of the property. I have to cut through the expansive cemetery with its large gothic tombstones to get to my business: the Gótthos Funeral Home & Cemetery. I bought this large plot and opened up my business early last year. I had never intended to move back to Greece, wanting to stay as far from my family and the God Complex as possible. It was for their own good, I kept telling myself. But when I saw this gorgeous property for sale, and at a fair price too, I couldn’t refuse. It was fate. Curse those meddling Moirai.
I watch as a large gothic style building comes into view through the coiling tendrils of fog. It was once an old church, before I renovated it into a working funeral home and crematorium. It was expensive but well worth it. I take in a deep breath of the crisp fall air as I come to a stop at the foot of the massive building. Another day of helping mortals find their final resting place. I love my job. And with that, I unlock the door and step inside.