Monster Writing Prompt: If you could put on a mask that lets you feel like you’re in a dream world (like a virtual reality), what would your daydream look like?
I got the idea for this prompt from the music video for “Monster”, a song by my favorite band, Starset. I had a lot of fun doing it. Though, like always, it reads like an excerpt from a book, but that’s okay. I like how it turned out.
I’m a huge fan of masquerades, so I used it as the main theme. Also, this story has a hint of adventure and darkness. I love dark tales, probably why I write so many 😉
Okay, now onto the story….
It’s dark here, the lanterns turned down so that only a small flicker of light is alive inside. Shadows rein in the minimal light and come alive as they dance on the wall to a silent beat. In the darkness, every sound is magnified, like the night gives one a shrewder sense of hearing.
I walk down the long hall, my hand gliding down the thick rail of the balcony. The balustrade’s made of stone, slick and cool to the touch. I can hear the whisper of music, the sound getting louder with each step.
My ballgown is heavy, thick crinoline under the skirt. As I advance, it sways gently, the soft rustle of fabric tickling my ears. Inlaid in the black gown are small crystals that shine like twinkling stars under the lamplight. The bodice is tight, restricting my movements and forcing the stance of a lady.
I turn my gaze downward at the party below. The light is muted, darkness hanging like a light shroud among the crowd, making the intimacy of this gathering grow.
Like the fire in the lanterns, the ballroom teemed with life. The guests wore masquerade attire similar to mine, their faces hidden by masks. I don’t recognize a soul—if there was even any there. It was like stumbling upon a den of vampires. From a distance, they were alluring, but as you get closer, the fear grows in your chest. You know there’s a chance these beautiful creatures could bare their fangs and attack at any moment.
The murmur of pleasant chatter and laughter was muted by soft music. A small ensemble is set up in the corner, the sharp sound of a violin solo ringing through the room. The violinist slowly slides his bow over the strings, a twitter in his fingers as he manipulates the sound.
With gritted teeth, he bites something back, but what it is, I can only guess. What does he see behind those closed eyes that ignites such passion? He’s given the music a pulse. His expression is pained as if each note that escapes from under his fingertips is like his own blood pumping from a fatal wound.
Above the ballroom is a domed ceiling. As I scan the heavens, my long lashes scrape the holes cut in my mask, the light touch like the kiss of a butterfly.
The thick veins of the dome were made of dark metal, dull and aged. Years before they may have been shining, but not now. Green has grown like a disease, eating the shimmer, and stealing the beauty that had been there before. Between each vein are painted panels. Chubby angels are depicted in a renaissance style there, the palette of intense reds and blues giving the scene drama.
Giant chandeliers hang from the beams, diamonds dripping from them like crystalized rain. Candles are set inside them, throwing light upon the paintings. The flames quiver, giving life to the figures and making the scene seem to breathe. My eyes lock with a cherub’s, his eyes following me as he keeps his arrow at the ready. Pulling my lips inward, I bite my bottom lip as I gaze into those cold, unblinking eyes. Even the flick of a twinkle in his eyes doesn’t make him feel any friendlier.
I face forward again, drumming the banister as I walk down the stairs. The staircase is a grand structure, it’s girth wide, and its stance sturdy like it could survive hundreds of years and still be as strong as the day it was made. At the foot of the stairs, stands two stone guardians—a pair of angels carved by a master’s hand. Their eyes are downcast, their faces covered by oversize hoods. Darkness has settled in the folds of their cloaks showing their age.
I join the crowd, the heat of the bodies taking away the chill in the air. As if lost, I turn in a circle and take in the crowd. The walls are lined with mirrors, and in them, I catch my reflection. My pale cheeks are reddened, my dark hair falling in long curls down my shoulders and back. As if adorned with stars, my hair sparkles, a delicate silver netting hiding in my locks.
Everyone’s curious eyes turn to me. My fingers grip the dark silk of my gown, white-knuckled and shaking. Suddenly, I feel dizzy, as my gaze bounces off their faces.
When given a second look, I see some masks are grotesque, with crooked grins and sharp teeth. I turn from inhuman yellow eyes, as well as the common blue, not lingering to meet the monsters who initiate me.
Instead, I shy away, and I walk toward the exit. I leave the main room and walk down the desolate hall. Now, all I can hear are the sound of my heels clicking on the tile as the music fades to a mere whisper again.
I stop at a set of double doors. Their surface is painted to look like the night sky. Taking hold of both handles, I open the doors.
Though it is dark, the ceiling and walls were alive. Millions of twinkling stars hide in here, a fabricated space cast by, what seemed like, magic. This net of gems captures the night, and they hold it hostage. I walk further inside, then spin slowly as I take in the sky.
It feels warmer here and the room seems to hold in more heat. I take a step forward and bump into a railing. It stops me from advancing.
With one hand on the rail, I reach out with the other to see if I can feel the wall. A hand grabs mine from behind. The surface of their gloves is cold, and it makes me shiver. Startled, I look back. My eyes settle on a shadowy figure that I am unable to make out. Before I could study them further, the doors shut, all the outside light snuffed out.