‘The definition of the word “Masquerade” is: a party, a dance or other festive gathering of persons wearing masks and other disguises; a costume or disguise worn at such a gathering; façade, pretense; existence under false pretenses. False pretenses? Tell me, what is more falsely than the human nature? They hide behind their fleshy masks every day. They cover their frustrations with a polite smile. They lie so often that they believe in their own stories. A masquerade, false? What nonsense!’
My butler, who was serving me breakfast, nodded as a sign he agreed with me.
‘Façade…bah! I’ll show them façade…’
‘Shall we send a letter of complaint to the publishers, madam?’ he proposed with a rather serious tone. He was referring to the publishers of the dictionary I was holding in my hands.
‘No, Edward. There is no use in arguing with the humans,’ I spat.
I took a sip from my hot tea with one slice of lemon. I felt better. Outside it was pouring rain but that was not going to ruin my wonderful day. ‘Besides,’ I smiled as I prepared the warm toast with butter and prune marmalade, ‘tonight, we celebrate!’
‘I have sent the invitations to all your colleagues, friends, neighbors and the celebrities you insisted upon inviting.’
‘Good, very good. How many are there in total.’
‘500 guests, madam. If they all come.’
‘They will. Did you make certain every envelope contains a golden brooch per person?’
‘Of course, madam.’
All the invitations were accompanied by miniature Venetian mask brooches made of pure gold. The invitation mentioned that wearing the brooch was mandatory. Without it, the guests could not participate to the party.
‘Should we now include the publishers as well, madam?’ Edward’s face hid a sadistic smile.
‘Well, Edward. It is a bit last notice but why not? Perhaps they have nothing to do on a cold Tuesday night,’ I grinned.
The day was filled with preparations. My entire staff was present and they worked hard to decorate the palace, the gardens, the ballroom and prepare the food. Everything had to be perfect for tonight. After all, we were celebrating Halloween. What is Halloween without a good party?
The evening approached fast yet in a deliciously, excruciating silence. I pictured the party tonight and how pleased my guests would be when I reveal to them the surprise for the evening. I had a surprise every year and every year my invitees’ reaction gave me tremendous satisfaction.
Darkness settled and the first invitees made their appearance. Ten muscled ushers made sure all guests presented the brooches. There were after all brooches for each and every invitee. Ten gorgeous hostesses took the coats and guided the guests into the ballroom.
I felt a bit like the Count of Monte Cristo when I appeared before my guests wearing a fabulous dark blue Victorian dress with pearly details and black laces. I sat in a golden swing floating above their heads. It was important that I could see the entire ballroom and all my guests.
‘Welcome, everyone. I am so glad you could make it to my charming Halloween masquerade.’ Meanwhile I spotted the faces of a few of my pretentious colleagues, arrogant neighbors, jealous relatives, traitorous friends and ignorant celebrities. ‘I am pleased you are all wearing your brooches and as requested, none of you brought masks. As I mentioned, the masks will be provided here.’ Laughter and whispers of excitement roamed the room.
‘You always enjoy wearing masks,’ I raised my glass of champagne ‘But for this Halloween, let the masks wear you!’ I cheered and drank. Confusion was clearly present among my invitees. What had I just said? It made no sense to them. Some, though they had no idea what I meant raised their glasses and drank. Others, like sheep, followed.
The staff stood aside, watching the invitees. I raised my hand and the staff pulled the sheets set against the walls. Mirrors. Everywhere mirrors!
A beautiful violin soothed the air. I closed my eyes and listened to it. A cello joined then a brass and a trumpet. I watched my guests looking through the air, wondering from where the sound was coming, others watched themselves in the mirrors and rearranged their hair or clothing.
‘Charming, isn’t it?’ I said as the music was ready to take it to the next level.
The music became louder.
A woman screamed. She dropped her glass and it shattered on my glittering floor. She was touching her face and screaming. It must have hurt terribly. One by one my other guests reacted similarly.
‘Ah,’ I smiled, ‘the masks are here!’
The staff watched without interfering. My invitees were screaming as their faces were painfully turning. Turning into what? Into their real personality! Some watched themselves in the mirrors not able to comprehend what was happening to them.
Within moments I faced a living room filled with grotesque faces and disgusting features. Some faces resembled animals, others were just pure abominations.
‘Now dance!’ I demanded.
Without willing, the invitees moved from one side to the other. They formed couples and waltzed through my living room like brainless puppets. Lovers stared at each other’s horrid faced. They did not want to dance with one another, not this way. But they had to! Some wanted to hide their faces but were forced to uncover them and dance…just dance and face reality.
My guests danced deliriously until dawn. At sunrise their fancy clothes had shattered, their expensive shoes battered , some had fainted, others were barely standing on their feet.
Now I was dancing in the middle of all of them. I had danced with each and every one of my staff and now it was Edward’s turn.
‘How did you find the evening, madam?’ asked my trusted butler.
‘Delightful,’ I smiled.
‘Should we take the guests home as soon as the spell ceases?’
‘Of course, just like every year.’
‘And just like every year they will remember nothing of this night.’
‘They will wake up thinking what a party it must have been and they will be excited for the next Halloween,’ I chuckled.
‘Any ideas for the theme for next year, madam?’
‘I’m sure we can come up with something. We have a whole year to think about it.’
‘Very well, madam. Happy Halloween!’
‘Happy Halloween to you too, Edward.’