Selia was running again.
She ran past monsters in the mist, gawking inanely. She ran past wretched creatures with gummy lips and concave chests, reaching for her. She ran past a massive army of poles, positioned by a pole leader that had a great mastery of the battlefield.
She would consider taking up running professionally if it wasn’t so connected to sweat and fear.
On this occasion she felt like she was moving quite quickly, given that she wasn’t wearing her running dress or her running heels, but the room was inexplicably chasing her down. And the harder she pumped her arms, the faster the room moved… until she felt herself in arrested motion, flailing hopelessly, and then being swept past, pushed back and picked up into the air.
Picked up into the air.
Struggling, swirling, gawking inanely at the monsters in the mist, up and down and up some more, until Selia saw a familiar monster materialize and form a carbon outline.
Cadbury Fife, drinking a Grapefruit Juice.
Cadbury: Why thank you, Gullet.
Gullet placed Selia delicately into her chair, which could only be described as “bucket-inspired”, and then promptly pseudo-vanished.
Cadbury: Thought you might strike some sort of trouble, sprinting off like that. The people here are… inquisitive.
Selia was panting, yet not breathing. Or at least she wasn’t getting any air. HurtyVibes seemed to have a shortage of air.
Even though her vision was blurred, or the room was blurry, Selia could see that, in the hours she had been running, the show had moved on. The Scientists were still hard at work, but there was no sign of Marquis the Poet, and the Floralator had been replaced by a crew of people that apparently specialized in crashing into each other.
Cadbury: You don’t want to miss the Slamdancing.
As he said this two of the dancers lined up on opposite ends of the stage, then, in perfect time with the bossa nova rhythm, made a serious of complex moves towards each other before colliding violently in the center. As they lay writhing, some other squad members danced out stylishly and, with perfectly synced moves, dragged the clearly injured dancers off stage.
Cadbury: Dance is a such a beautiful means of expression, don’t you think?
Selia: [Unsure] It really does depend.
Cadbury: Depend on you or the dance?
Selia: Am I some type of prisoner now?
Cadbury: Prisoner? Why would I imprison people when all I want is to escape from them?
Selia: Something to do with the insanity?
Cadbury: You cause me to chuckle madam. Chuckle out loud. Or you would, if my chucklebox hadn’t been lost in an amusing incident. In any case…. I am merely here trying to solve your case.
Selia: Oh yes, that.
Cadbury: For some reason you seem resistant.
Selia: [Staring coldly] Well, that is amusing.
The slamdance bossa nova had transfigured into a gut-tumbling assault of tribal drums, leading up to a grand finale in which the entire remaining crew of about 10 dancers was, apparently, to smash into each other in an ultimate act of dance destruction.
The lawyers below had been driven into a kind of competitive frenzy as though they were betting on which dancers would survive. An especially awkward looking dancer wearing a brash purple jacket and a snorkel face mask appeared to be a favorite.
Cadbury: I do have the case solved. I just have a few missing pieces to fill before I can commit the crime.
Selia: [Distracted by the building drama] What? Crime?
Cadbury: Yes I do have that question also.
The dancers were assembling around the edges of the stage, the music was cresting as a cacophony, and the crowd in parts was being ripped from its nonchalant ambivalence.
Cadbury: So, who is Mark really?
As Selia turned blinkingly to look at the detective, the dancers began their final sequence.
Selia: My boyfriend.
The drums marched purposefully into their final bar.
Cadbury: And if you didn’t have a boyfriend, who would Mark be?
With each beat the players bounded poetically from the edges towards what would seemingly be an explosive collision at the center. Cadbury was also blinking in perfect rhythm.
Selia: He is a Politician.
On the eighth beat, every drum in the world was struck… and the dancers collided face-first in a horrible mash of flesh and newly exposed bones.
Cadbury: And if Mark didn’t exist what would he be then?
HurtyVibes shuddered for what seemed like minutes as the dying strains of the danceslam trailed off. The crowd strained forward just slightly to see what had become of the artists.
Selia: [Straining for the right answer to this questionable interrogatory] Missing?
Some dancers were starting to wriggle away from the mangled mess of body parts. At least two had been flung out from the wreckage and seemed somewhat intact. A gentle moaning was heard rising above the fading musical reverberation.
Cadbury: No, I don’t think it is Mark that is missing.
And from the central pit of wreckage we could see rising, as though transcending a sea of human misery, a single snorkel… a purple jacket… and, as the crowd oohed in appreciation the snorkeled dancer raised his arms, first in victory, then to his mask.
And he pulled the mask off and announced himself.
Cadbury: To be missing you must first exist.
Mystery Dancer: Yes, it is me…
The crowd cheered while Selia stared at Cadbury with her version of disdain.
Mystery Dancer: Marquis, The Poet!