She tried to remind herself to walk slowly, but she kept slipping into a happy skip. It happened each time. She’d place her foot down firmly and deliberately but then her other foot would rise up, the rest of her bouncing in time to the music rollicking across the parking lot.
Some had given in, their eyes wide and helpless as the melody sent them spinning jovially into and around each other’s arms. Others, like her, still fought the exhausting compulsion. They tried to keep their steps even and slow in an attempt to break the dance, puppets fighting their strings. It wasn’t working. They danced with the others, just more clumsily.
“Monster.” She snarled as she whirled by the closest torturer. He laughed at her, but none disagreed. There were seven of them, beautiful and sharp things that wore the faces of young men and women. Perched and lounged across truck beds and coolers that did not belong to them, they watched with apathetic amusement while the music whisked their playthings about in the grim dance.
No one knew what had happened when the strange seven had wandered into their impromptu party, genial and friendly at first. Then the thing’s dark eyes glittered and the music started. At first some of her fellows had embraced it. Then it went on. Praying, pleading, and swearing hadn’t swayed their captors. Now most of the dancers were past cognizant defiance or submission, muscles simply limp and pulled about in the music’s thrall.
She was so tired. Blood stained the asphalt, trailing from her path. She’d lost her sandals quickly, maybe hours before, maybe a night ago, she didn’t know. The moon was too big, the sky had too many stars. Maybe she’d gone mad in one of the quick steps or graceless turns.
“Well I’m bored.” One of the sharp things finally commented, voice husky yet lilting. The words barely registered against the ever commanding melody pounding in her skull.
“Already?” Another asked, female this time.
“No fight in these ones.” The first answered. She lifted her head to watch the speaker step from the truck’s bed. It was the one she’d called a monster. She hated them, whatever or whoever they were, she wondered if they could feel her hate. She wondered if they would care. No, she didn’t think would, and she hated them all the more for it.
A murmur went through the seven. Agreement or apathy was reached. They abandoned their perches, movements fluid and alluring next to the painful shuffle and stumble of the dancers. There was no warning or fade before the music halted.
She fell hard, cheek hitting the ground as her arms were too weary to catch her weight. Low laughter rose from the seven as the dancers collapsed like discarded dolls. She breathed into the asphalt, relieved even as the world spun around her. She closed her eyes, incapable of anything more than a low wheezing sob. It was over, they were leaving.
Strong fingers closed around her upper arm. The grip pulled her up, hauling her to tremble on her feet. Black eyes met hers. He didn’t loose the vice on her arm, she would have fallen. “So, I am a monster?”
Her mouth wouldn’t form words. The rest waited beyond the border of the trucks, a tangible dark closing around their lean bodies. But he was here, cruel and beautiful, inches from her face.
He smiled and didn’t say anything more. She thought for a moment he would release her again, let her sink against the rough ground and unconsciousness. Instead, he yanked her forward, dragging her towards the shadows. Powerless in exhaustion, she could only sob, hanging against his grip.
“I will show you monsters.” His voice promised as the dark fell around them.