By day I studied; chemistry, mathematics, physics, working as hard as every other boy in my class, striving for perfection. I wasn't falling behind, not by far, but I felt guilty. I wasn't at the top. And the reason for it was because I didn't spend my nights as my father intended.
Instead of studying in the early hours, as I had been taught to by my father, I crept through the silent corridors and across the cold floors in bare feet to the piano room.
The piano was beautiful. It was old; not so old it no longer functioned properly, but old enough to have a matured quality of sound, the kind of sound you only hear from really esteemed concert pianos in great opera houses. I was lucky my school had one – but then, it was to be expected. It was a historic school, and we had only the best.
I opened the French windows a crack in a small ritual I observed. I wasn't sure why, I just felt compelled to let the moonlight in.
I sat at the cushioned bench, running my fingers over the ivory keys. Moonlight glinted through the French windows, reflected in the meticulously polished case lid. A faint breeze blew in. It smelled like old wood and polish and time.
I pressed the keys down in a chord, and the wind picked up. My dark hair fluttered about my head, my silk pyjamas wrapping delicately around my ankles. The sound resonated through the room and through my bones. I moved my fingers, playing a piece I'd known for so long it felt natural to play. I shut my eyes, revelling in the cool wind and the familiarity of the piece.
The door creaked, and my head shot towards it in surprise, though my hands never ceased from playing. A tall figure held the door open, half-silhouetted in the moonlight. Her hair was piled on top of her head, tendrils snaking down to frame her face. She was dressed from the waist down, and her legs were hidden by flowing opaque drapes that drifted against the current of the wind. Her breasts were covered only by a strip of the same material.
For a moment I was transfixed; she was so beautiful. Her body was perfect, tall and willowy. Her hair streamed and flowed in no particular rhythm, too fine and too thick at the same time. She began to walk towards me, swaying, letting her skirt drifting hypnotically.
Then I saw her face. She was grey – no, silver – and metal plating encircled her left eye and part of her brow bone. Her eyes had no irises, just vertical slits that dilated in the dark of the room.
For a moment, the scientist in me wondered just what she was. Was she some kind of hallucination? Was she a figment of my imagination? Was she a dream?
She stopped a couple of metres from me and cocked a metal-tipped finger at me. I rose, almost involuntarily, from the chair, my hands stilling at last, and walked towards her. Every step was odd.
I took her extended hand. It was cold, but her touch was like lightning. I stared into her eyes as she pulled me closer, so close that our bodies touched. Our heads level, I stared into her eyes.
Sawing machines and bolts, wires, steel and smoke. A blue light, a lightning strike, and a sun so bright it reached the furthest rock and the deepest quark. And a music so beautiful it touched the coldest moon and the hottest star.
I stared into her eyes, and they sucked me in.