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I heard soft music playing in the background. It was orchestra music playing a gentle waltz. I felt an arm at my waist pulling me slightly closer, while another hand was clutching my hand. My free hand was on my partner’s shoulder. We were stepping back and forth, turning slowly with the music. It was nice.
I looked up at my partner’s face and saw that it was masked. I looked down at myself and was surprised to see I was wearing a light green, floor-sweeping gown. I felt my hair was pulled away from my neck in an elaborate hairstyle atop my head.
I glanced around the room and saw ourselves reflected back thousands of times in the hundreds of mirrors hanging on the walls. There were no other dancers in the room, only us. I looked up into my partner’s eyes and smiled softly. He smiled back and pulled me even closer to him.
The music slowed down even more and I found myself with my arms around his neck. I sighed and lay my head down on his shoulder while he wrapped his arms around me tightly.
All of a sudden, there was a loud crash. The music came to an abrupt stop, but the crashing continued. The crashing turned into shattering and I looked around to see the beautiful mirrors falling to the floor.
I tried to pull away to avoid getting injured by a falling mirror, but my partner held me closer. I looked up at him in horror and tried to pull away again.
“We have to get out of here.” His voice was full of determination.
“Well, yeah, I figured!” I replied. “Let go of me! We have to run!”
He grabbed my hand and swung me behind him. He started walking backwards with his arms spread out protectively in front of me. I felt my back press against an object and turned to see what it was. I realized it was a table, so I ducked underneath it and pulled him with me.
The crashing and shattering stopped and the silence that followed was deafening. I took a deep breath and cleared my throat. My heart was pounding crazily inside my chest from fear.
“Wh-what’s going on?” My voice was barely audible. I tried again. “What happened?”
He turned around and searched my face. His hands rested on my shoulders and I could feel them shaking slightly. His eyes were haunted as they looked me up and down, checking for injuries. One hand cupped my cheek and he looked into my eyes again.
“Are you okay?” His voice was shaky. “Did you get hurt?”
I shook my head slowly and felt my face flush at the intensity of his stare. I looked down, away from his searing gaze and noticed the small scraps and cuts crisscrossing my bare arms. My dress was ripped and tattered, but my hair was still perfect. I heard him gasp and I looked up.
He was looking down at my arm. He lifted it gently and I saw a jagged piece of glass that was sticking out of a cut.
“You have to take it out.” I told him steadily. I looked up into his protesting face and spoke before he could refuse. “You have to. It’ll get infected if you don’t. And I don’t think I could do it myself.” I added nervously.
He grimaced, but nodded reluctantly. I looked away and squeezed my eyes shut. I felt him tug the glass out and felt a sharp pain. I let out a gasp and blinked the tears out of my eyes. I felt him wrap something around the cut to stop it from bleeding. I let out another cry as he tied it tightly in a knot.
He pulled me closer and tucked my head under his chin. “I’m so sorry for hurting you.”
I took a shuddering breath and exhaled slowly. “No, I’m okay.”
I felt a shiver run up my back as his hands tightened around my back. He let go suddenly and pushed away. “You have to get out of here.”
I looked at him, startled. “Okay then. Let’s go.” I got out from underneath the table and straightened my ruined dress as much as I could. I heard him step out from under the table and take a step toward me. I was about to ask him where we were going to go, when I felt him slam into me and knock me backwards.
“No!” He shouted. He landed on top of me and I felt the breath rush out of me in a strangled gasp. I looked up and saw absolute terror in his eyes. “You have to get out of here. Quickly, run!” His voice came out in breathless gasps. He jumped up and pulled me to my feet. I stumbled and he put an arm around my waist to steady me. Then he pushed me towards a door I hadn’t noticed before.
“Go!” He urged me. I took a few steps towards it before turning around to face him in confusion. He spoke before I could say anything. “Go! You have to get out of here! It’s not safe for you here! They’ll find you! You have to get away from here! Run and don’t look back!”
I hesitated despite the urgency in his voice. Then I felt an odd, dark presence descend on the room. My heart started to beat faster in my chest and I looked around wildly.
“Go!” He yelled at me. “Run for the door before they get here!”
I took one last look at him before making a break for the door. I yanked it open and ran down the brightly lit corridor. I felt the dark presence behind me and let out a small cry. I ran faster and tried not to look behind me. I didn’t want to find out what was after me. I heard and saw as the lights lighting the corridor shattered one by one. I was soon plunged into darkness.
I still felt the dark presence behind me, and it was gaining on me. I turned left into another hallway and continued to run. I just needed to find a door and then I’d be safe. I risked a glance behind me to see where the presence went. I couldn’t see anything in the darkness. I whipped my head forward again and smacked right into the wall. I fell backward, dazed. I stood up shakily and stood with my back against the wall.
I heard ghostly laughter and felt goosebumps rise on my arms. I looked around wildly trying to find the source of the laughter that was getting louder by the minute, but it seemed to come from everywhere. I covered my ears with my hands and squeezed my eyes shut. The laughter stopped and I uncovered my ears slowly. I looked around but saw no one. I walked back the way I came and took another hallway. I saw a door and I rushed to it gratefully.
“Wait!” I heard his voice behind me. “Stop! Wait!”
I made to turn around, but something knocked into my side and I flew across the hallway and crashed through a window.
“No!” I heard his scream fade away as I fell like a stone through the sky. My own throat was raw from screaming, but I continued to fall. I felt my head crack against the ground below me and my breath whooshed out of me. Blackness crowded the corners of my vision and I felt wetness spread slowly underneath my head.
I faintly heard his screams coming from high above me, but most of it was blocked out by the ghostly laughter that was deafening in my ears. I felt weightless, like I had no strength left in me. I heard someone calling my name, but I gave up and surrendered to the weightlessness and darkness.