The party is on.
Every face is a study in perfect composition: the women wear their painted smiles and the men their bluff heartiness. But when the music begins, light-hearted spirited strains off a piano, a small scar of horror cracks through every mask, for it reminds them of how far away from rhymes and revelries their lives have come.
But they still step up to the dance floor, hand-in-hand with the partners they secretly hate, envy or cheat. And yet they pretend to look at them as if they were in love, because that is part of the whole scheme of their life...doing as the occasion demands.
From above the dance floor, the maginficent chandelier watches, its icy white light a little whiter than usual.
The clock ticks silently but the gap between each hour is slowing.
The witching night has gobbled up half the moon.
As the hours grows late, the grandest of the guests arrive, they who wear their inhuman aristocracies like heavy armors- armors which are meant to be formidable defences, but which themselves turn inwards and chip and nick a little flesh when they can.They are dressed richly, in furs and wild colours but the real difference lies in how perfectly their masks have become one with their skins. Pecking and cooing with false pleasure, they run into familiar faces- old affairs, friends they duped, fellow millionaires they secretly conspire against but their painted smiles stay just as wide.
Ofcourse, every now and then a sharp, jealous glare slips out unbidden within the sea of impersonal greetings, but this is a ugly, naked breach of conduct and no one acknowledges it.
Now the music slides into a wild, feral romp on its own. The pianist appears to have gone missing, the piano seems to have walked by itself, to a chamber upstairs.
An invisible finger trails down everyone's spine but they try their best to keep guard. Sip wine and play-talk, wading through the thickening atmosphere with a set stubborness
The grander guests kept their high-handed hauteur and the lesser mortals their chilling courtesies. Not a face has yet betrayed the horrors that are wrecking their insides, the strong grasp the wind's hand suddenly has made on their very throats. Because acceptance would be defeat.
Until the unexpected guest walks in.