The sound of music filled the air. The glow of Chandeliers bathed him. Huge pillars soared into a sky filled with millions of stars and cold blue moon. Hundreds of dancers twirled gracefully on a vast expanse of polished black granite, as he stood and watched them, mesmerized by this mirage from another world. They were all masked and cloaked, their identities irrelevant to the night. Nothing seemed to matter here.
Suddenly they stopped and bowed in his direction, inviting him to join their dance. He hesitated, but joined anyway, it seemed to be the only choice. It was a quick and lively dance. The men danced in soft stationary circles, as the women spun from partner to partner with every change of beat. It was an alien world, yet he was filled with a strange joy.
A woman spun into his arms just then, and the world stopped ticking. She was an unattainable being, the very symbol of desire itself. The breath stopped in his lungs as he struggled to comprehend her power. The gown was blood-red and a golden mask glittered on her face, from which eyes filled with laughter studied him. There was nothing which she could not see, nothing that was hidden from her scrutiny.
“You want me don’t you?” she asked; her voice haunting and feather soft.
“Yes” he answered gruffly, his emotions going wildly out of control. He gripped her tighter, his nails digging into her soft flesh.
He danced in silence, no words seemed necessary. But then the beat changed and she spun out of his arms. He was horrified at this loss and stopped in shock, almost missing the next woman who came to him. A cry of despair froze in his throat as she called to him from her next partner.
“Ah-a-ah! Be cautious, if you misstep then you are out of the dance!” Her voice was like a song, full of highs and lows. He immediately straightened up, forcing his senses back into his own control. He did not want to leave the dance because somehow he knew that leaving the dance meant leaving her forever.
Round and round she danced, perfect in every way. Round and round he danced with ever-increasing care, waiting until she came back to him again. This time he held her tighter, never wanting to let go.
“Do you want me”? She asked again.
“Forever” he whispered.
“You could have me…” she said. But once again the beat had changed and she moved on, her words trailing after her.”…but for that…”
“For that what?” he screamed, completely forgetting the dance, the next woman and the mirage. The dance stopped abruptly and the mirage seemed to fade. It was not so perfect without the blur of the dancers. In the edges men sat and cried, their ragged hands out stretched towards an unseen fate, while tattered woman floated like ghosts among the refuse. The floor was polished but did not reflect the sky and the stars did not twinkle, dead spectators to the events below. Even the woman’s beauty seemed to burn out, her gown now appearing soaked, as little drops of blood dripped silently to the floor below.
Her voice floated through him, a mixture of care and pity. It echoed through his head, even as he stared at her unblinking.
“For that General, you have to pay attention to the dance…”
The General woke with a start, the gentle laugh of a woman still ringing in his ears.