The prompt was produced by @f3nix, a Grand Maester and high-level warlock of the Dark Arts.
In the eyes of the couple, the slate-paved street of the village revealed a cornucopia of crafts, sweets and jubilant peasants. Along the noisy main street, colourful festoons hung from the balconies of typical mountain houses, made of solid stone and original woodwork. The buildings themselves, due to the abundance of decorations, seemed to curve over the long snake of stalls.
There had been an imperceptible moment of silence when the two had laid their feet on the dark pavement of the village, nothing but a quick counterpoint to underline the next wave of noise of the festival in its full becoming.
It had been enough to turn left on the path between the conifers marked by the navigator and their journey had moulted with grey scales now transformed into coloured harlequin’s diamonds.
"Fasnachat". That bizarre writing on a shaky sign had tickled their imagination.
"If Google had reported this village party we could have left two hours earlier." At her voice’s sound, Ben instinctively thought of two Dolce & Gabbana sneakers on the 100 meters starting blocks.
"A break cannot hurt us, but let's not forget about our timetable," he replied, not without a trail of scepticism in his voice.
Ben's senses captured fragrances, widened eyes and inebriated laughter. That joy was as disruptive as it was contagious.
"We do not need to remind ourselves of what it means being late for Grandma Maude's birthday dinner," he said, turning to his wife, whose hand was already wriggling from his, ready to compulsively stuff the car with the many bits and bobs offered by the fair.
Debated between the growing curiosity and the thought of his father-in-law blaming him for the delay, Ben had not even noticed that he had already lost sight of Joelle.
Like a pebble escaping the river’s current, the flow of the crowd had carried him in the middle of a small square dominated by a soaring wooden stage. An acute, strangely cacophonous, chant of stringed instruments enlivened a typical traditional group dance, where couples slapped each other’s feet and bodies.
Under the ever more pounding rhythm of the dance, among almost hypnotized and swaying villagers, his eyes increasingly focused on the show.
For a moment, he thought he saw Joelle surrounded by villagers who invited her to eat something viscidly black. The substance seemed to smear the white aprons and faces of the women, perhaps even that of Joelle who had joined them in a wild chortle. She seemed so lighthearted and it felt good. There was one thing Ben could not remember and squatted in the back of his head, but maybe it wasn’t that important.
He returned to plunge into the dance: it was simply wonderful. He felt he could not miss a movement, not even a note. He smiled at the villagers as a strange heat flared up inside him. An empty and collective smile painted back on the villagers’ gaunt faces.
In a frayed embryo of thought, Ben recorded the distant verses of Joelle, who, strangely, had fused together in a long animal bleating.
In the throbbing chaos of the dance, they pulled Ben into the middle of the square. He glanced up at the stage to find a full band appeared, and he couldn’t remember seeing them before. A fiddler attacked his instrument.
Where is she?
Ben searched and found only faces of villagers, ecstatic in a Dionysian fervor. Strangers thrust pitchers of beer in his face and he drank the frothy amber liquid down. A blond haired women appeared in front of him, breasts pushing against her blue mieder top. She took his arm and they began to dance, stepping to her laughter.
Joelle. You have to find Joelle. Her father will be so pissed.
The blond pulled him close and he knew she was about to kiss him with her full red lips. Ben felt the throb growing in his pants. The vixen put her lips to his ears and whispered sweet lines of German.
*Oh fuck. Oh fuck I’m done for. *
She giggled and brushed her chest on his arm.
Ben thought about Joelle. He’d promised her. Promised that he’d never do it again. He remembered that sight of her blood on his hands as he held the wound tight, unlocking the car door with the other. She’d slit her wrist open with his straight shaver.
He remembered how sticky it was as the blood dried on his hands. And her tears as she asked him why.
The blond went in for the kill and Ben pushed her away. The dancing ceased at once. The townspeople, the fiddler and the band gazed down at him. He searched the crowd, finding more and more of them covered in the black tarry substance.
The silence was deafening and consuming him like a thunder cloud.
“Joelle!” Ben screamed. “Joelle? Where are you?”
Ben saw her, naked and covered in that black tar, the only one left dancing as she stumbled up the steps to the stage.
Dance, we dance, around the sun. The black hole sun. The black hole sun. Swallowing the life of night. Become the sun. The black whole sun.
Men followed her, sliding their hands on her body. She giggled and looked down at Ben.
“Hi honey!” she said. “What are you doing? Have fun!”
Ben burst forward through the crowd. Grasping a spear, unable to explain where it came from. Those men, slimy, ran their lips on the body of his wife. He readied to stab them to death. And when he did, they disappeared.
“Relax,” Mr. Licht said. “It’s over. It’s over. You're okay.”
The VR stopped. Ben removed the goggles. His eyes and brain hurt. He glanced at a sign in the room.
Fasnachat. Find The Truth!
It was Joelle’s idea to try it. Mr. Licht had assured them it was all perfectly safe.
Joelle wanted to know if they really loved one another.
The decision came after fighting all day. Ben’d scolded her about the trinkets.
Joelle sobbed. “I’m sorry,” she said.