Quite a long night I was made to endure. I had to praise myself, after all, I had just left the attendance of possibly the most awkward cocktail party I had ever been to. I sat in my office, lazily sipping a glass of scotch, flipping through a copy of The Great Gatsby, all while failing to convince myself to tend to a portion of the mound of paperwork collecting on my dusty desk. The lamp before me emitted but a dull glow in my dim office, the mixture of low light and dark, bold letters on the crisp pages of my novel made my eyes ache. Rigidly, I gave my eyes a good rubbing, easing the tension some. I sat in that position, hands over my eyes for a spell, completely exhausted. The only sound in my luxurious office was my steady breath against still air, and ever so gladly did I take in the calming silence. After some time, it felt as though the peace hung like a warm, thick quilt, fragile enough to shatter should any sound pierce it. I pricked my ears suddenly, thinking I had heard a murmur, a callous whisper in my utopia of silence. Concentrating harder, I heard it again, then again and again. I sat, straining to catch what this mysterious sound was. The melody slowly hummed to clarity, immediately did I recognized 'I'll Never Smile Again' by Frank Sinatra and The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra; A lovely tune whose likes I have grown soft to. 'Perhaps Hugo has finally awoken and went nosing through my records.' I absent-mindedly pondered, humming and tapping my foot. But as I sat and listened, I realized it was getting louder still. I sat stiffly, quietly and listened to the tune increase in volume, slightly confused and unsure how to react. Low whispers wafted through the air and my head snapped up. Any confusion I had was worsened when I noticed rose petals falling all about me, drifting gracefully down to the carpet, like delicate snowflakes. I stood slowly, partially fascinated, partially panicking, before strolling to the center of my office on shaky legs. This was all so strange and yet all so beautiful. After standing for a while, I reached a slightly quivering hand out, allowing petals to flutter into my outstretched palm. Exhaling softly, I thought of how lovely this was, soft, sweetly scented petals aimlessly wandering the air before resting at my ankles, like bleeding tears; pleasant music wavering about. 'Is this death?' I thought to myself, 'this is too serene and gentle to be reality'. Here I was not 'He of chronic unfaithful love and conniving motives', or 'the man of many faces'. I was simply Oskar, Oskar Von Betz, a businessman, friend, brother, father and husband.
I blinked and suddenly, I was no longer in my office. This place was extravagant, a Victorian styled ballroom. Women in elegant ball gowns and men in tuxedos waltzed through the crowded room. The walls were a peculiar creamy yellow, covered in grainy sepia photos of children; tall windows reaching from the black-and-white checkered floor to the high ceilings were draped in thick yellow curtains. The couples danced around me as though I was not there, all wearing some masquerade mask or another, laughing and smiling. There was a large marble staircase at the far end of the room, leading to another level, also packed with dancing patrons. As I watched the people, I noticed another petal drift in front of my face, causing me to turn towards its origin, only to be greeted with a grisly sight. Even from the back, I was able to identify the likes of the girl who has haunted my dreams for years. Evelyn Kovalsky, who drowned at the age of eight. I still remember watching her fall through the ice, that snowy day of December 19th 1917. I tried to help, but she was so far away…. And here she stands before me, drenched from head to toe, ice crystals forming along the hem of her knee length red and white dress. Her bare legs and arms were a bluish purple hue, and there she stood, repeatedly banging her head against the wall.
I reached out to touch the cool skin of her arm, only to have her drop to the floor, completely still, her dark brown hair frozen in clumps against her expressionless face; The whites of her eyes where an irritated shade of red, making her empty ocean eyes even more rich in color. The record began skipping, obnoxiously repeating about the first 20 seconds over again. Distressed and quite nervous, I turned back around only to find the once dancing couples splayed out upon the floor; their faces were gone, completely smoothed away into mere coverings of skin, half hidden by their masks. Petals once again began to fall but when I blinked I was back in my office. I stood in shock at what I had just witnessed; a shock of fear ran up my spine, tingling every vertebra. "…..Good God." I muttered, running a hand through my hair. Was this my punishment for brutalizing all those people? I suffer hallucinations until I'm sent to a sanatorium to forever live out an alter reality? Is this my descent to madness? I wish I could say I was angry or even afraid, but I am well aware I deserve every bit of this. Why should I deserve mercy when I have hardly shown it myself? The sound of baby Eve crying from her crib pulled me from my thoughts, and hurriedly rushed to her aid. I tended to her needs before retiring to spend the night cradling her and crying while I weakly sang along with Sinatra.