I stand in the spotlight, legs shaking with fear. I know what they want, I know what they came for, and yet I am paralysed.
A low groan erupts from the audience. It starts a ripple of moaning that rolls around the darkened auditorium. Beneath the moans I hear snarls, and between them both I sense the hunger. The anticipation. Someone hisses something at me from stage left; I cannot make out the words but I get the gist. I am to dance.
Creaky calliope music blares into life from the shadows at stage left. The undulating melody sounds eerie as it echoes around the cavernous theatre, and it takes me a moment to find the rhythm. I start slowly, aware that my movements are jerky and awkward. I never used to be. The snarls die down, overtaken by groans. They like what they see. A fleeting spark of satisfaction flicks through my mind, until I realise that it is ultimately for nothing.
I speed up in time with the music. The knot of fear curled in my stomach relaxes with the certain knowledge that this will all soon be over. I close my eyes as I fall to the floor with the end of the song. I hear scrabbling from the stalls, rotting nails clawing at the wood as they clamber onto the stage. The groans become snarls, and I imagine I hear applause as they fall upon me.
This story was published by Twisted Dreams magazine back in June 2011! Image by Weatherbox, edits by me.