I t was the same music every night.
The violins wailed sorrowfully followed by hurried catch-ups by the accompanying trio. Scratchy heels sparked the dance floor, over and over again, in swirls of silks and swaths of black. Drinks were shared, propositions were offered. Slides of skins were subtle but visible. There were always exchanges, transactions here.
The time was 1885.
Nobody looked up. Nobody looked up into the darkened oak of the ceiling, beyond the swinging chandelier, beyond the nothingness. Nobody found us.
We came together gradually: from the initial barn, to the cattle slaughterhouse before it burned down and gave way to this theatre. It now housed nightly shows of flesh, moving as though in strange bodily afflictions.
The twisting and bending of limbs was called dancing. We heard the whispers of gavotte, minuet, bourée and pavanne--words that were new to us. Dances that we mimicked as we delved through walls, stumbling but never overstepping into the Outside. We laughed like them, sipping dusty glasses and flicking faded fans.
We felt it when the Time was near. The Outside demanded our Faustian sacrifice. It could either be one of us or one of them below.
We chose a woman this time. One with the consistent white plume in her hair, always by the balcony doors, always one step from flight. Unlike most other faces, hers was detached, bored, jaded.
We saw the exchange in her. Our immortality for her already emptying life. She would die. Soon.