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Masks (flash fiction)

Copyright 2020 A.R. Ford

Pomegranate, rose, and royal purple feathers encircled the perimeter of the mask. Crystals created delicately arched eyebrows that would be the envy of any woman demanding that hers be ‘on fleek’. Ebony and sapphire glitter created shape and form. A delicate wand attached to one side gave me the means to expose or hide my face to the mob filling the ballroom.

Our host expressly forbid anyone to remove their mask before the witching hour. It gave me great pleasure to keep the mask firmly in place. None would know my identity.

The party lingered on into the night until the witching hour drew nigh. A violin’s screech reached a crescendo. Shattering glass drew my attention to the horrific tableau playing out on the dance floor. First one and then the other party goer attempted to remove their mask. Terror assumed control when their efforts failed.

One woman fell on the floor, manicured nails ripping sanguinous trails along exposed skin from her face to a generous amount of cleavage exposed by her gown’s low neckline. A man collapsed beside her, roaring, fighting, writhing as his fruitless struggle commenced.

One by one they fell. Even the string orchestra succumbed, expensive instruments carelessly crashing to the floor.

And I? I watched with a morbid smile lifting the corners of my mouth. My mask would remain in place. After all, I removed it only for bathing. No one saw who I really was. Not even him.

Perhaps the fools lying dead on the dance floor should have learned to keep their masks in place.

The door of the ballroom opened, a man’s shoes tapping on the blood-stained floor until he stood at my side. Our hands embraced, fingers intertwined. My lover, Charon, led me from the ballroom to our chariot waiting on the river.

Entrer, my love,” he murmured.

I accepted his hand, my other holding the hem of the ballgown a few inches off the ground as I stepped into the boat. Already his lackeys delivered a half dozen corpses to take their place in the bow of the craft.

“Where are we headed?” my inquiry brought Charon’s throaty laugh.

“The River Styx, my love. It’s the only place fit for the tribute you provided.” He bent to his task, oar stroking the water with practiced ease.

Thank you for reading this piece of flash fiction. It was inspired by this image prompt from the lovely Foxy of Pixabay: https://pixabay.com/photos/venetian-mask-candle-feathers-mask-1342242/

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