She stared at the screen, longing to dance like they once did. She wanted to stretch her limbs and move in graceful arcs, freely without being hampered by the whispers, pointing, or shrieks.
She envied them. The ones who could dance to their hearts content. Those that carelessly showed themselves off, as if nothing in the world could ever be wrong.
The next movie just happened to be different. They had masks on, and costumes. They were not showing their identity, and they were not flaunting their skin or faces. They called it a mask-er-aid party.
She excitedly used her (voice only) commlink to contact her friends and followers. She randomly picked a day 3 months from now, and reserved the largest conference room in town. She hired bouncers within the hour, and had a designer make invitations to be properly delivered. No one would be allowed in without the printed invite and a costume obscuring their identity.
She spent the next few months planning every detail, and invting as many people as she thought would be interesting in costuming at a mask-er-aid party. Everyone in town, and surrounding towns, talked about it, whispered about it, and schemed how to get in without the printed gold leaf invitation.
The day arrived and she dressed as she always did, alone. Her costume designer did a magnificent job, and he made everything so she did not need help to put it on. She made sure he knew to put extra strength bands to secure her actual mask, so there were to be no mistakes.
She arrived three hours before the doors were to open, and there was a small crowd of costumed people outside already. She of course would never let them in so early. She took a few pictures of them to make sure they were not let in without verifying the ID chip inside the invitations (something the designer had mentioned would be an easy way to prevent crashers from printing their own.)
She made sure the bar was clean and well stocked, and the food was acceptable (excellent) quality. She made sure the custom chandeliers were installed properly, and the dance floor was as big as she hoped. The band arrived with minimal half-face masks. She almost ordered them out, but remembered her assistant asking if half-masks were okay for staff. She sighed heavily.
The start time came upon them before she knew it, and costumed people came streaming in. She watched from a balcony inside the huge conference room, most were unaware of being watched. She knew the cultured people would never arrive early or even on time. She waited for the 45 minute late mark before she headed outside, the back way, and came around front to enter as if she had just arrived.
Most of the early arrivers had not been let in, and she was pleased. She presented her own invitation, it was scanned, and she was allowed in.
Most people inside did not acknowledge care when a new person entered the party, and she felt liberated for the first time in her life. She grabbed the first attracive vicotrian costumed person she could find (to match her own costume), and dragged him to the dance floor. He magnificently assumed the proper dance framework, and lead her flawlessly around the floor. Others began to dance in the same style. Obviously they had studied before they arrived and she was thrilled. She could not stop smiling under her mask, and her cheeks already hurt.
Suddenly she felt a sharp stab of pain in her temples. She almost fainted, then she panicked. She knew something terrible was going to happen, and she knew it was something to do with her.
Her heart sank as she felt the mask slip from her face. Her dance partner would not let her hands go so she could catch the mask. It fell away in slow motion, and she saw the timer, a mechanisim built into the mask, to sever the extra-strong bands.
She looked around in horror as people began to point. She heard a couple of people gasp. She stopped dancing with the man, and she noticed he had his eyes closed. Her world focused on him for a moment, and she realized – this was her designer, and he knew not to look at her.
She struggled against him to get her hands free, and he stood stoic, not giving an inch. The first shriek came from a woman, her eyes bulging. People around the shrieking woman yelled in alarm and backed away from her. The woman was costumed as a viking, and she stood alone in the sea of faces. The poor viking woman crumpled after her eyes exploded, literally bulged out of her head.
The hostess yelled at her captor “You are a monster, let me go!”
The designer simply stood there, holding her at arms length, not allowing her hands free or allowing her to hide her face.
Another and another shriek, they began filling the ballroom. She began crying. “This was never to happen again. Why would you make me take my mask off?”
“You are the monster, m’lady. Your beauty causes internal combustion, and this is my type of party.” He cruelly forced her to dance in an ever widening circle, the crowd fleeing from the mask-er-aid party now. More yells of panic, but no new victims.
Once the hall was empty, and the police sirens were heard, he pulled off his own mask. He grabbed her face, kissed her passionately, and when he opened his eyes, she recognized his features mirrored hers.
“You are my cruel half?” she said.
“I submit. When do we go home?” she said.
“Once the police are dead,” he grinned an astonishingly beautiful grin.
“As you wish.” She wondered if this was how others felt around her; willing participants in their own demise.