Monday, 8 February 2010

70. Masquerade

She looked in the mirror. The mask looked back at her.

It wouldn’t come off.

Shit. Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit.

How could this have happened? Was someone playing a stupid game?

She tried to prise it off but she couldn’t get her fingers between the mask and her face, her real face. She couldn’t get any purchase on her temples, so she hooked her fingers around her jaw and yanked, only to feel her jawbone scream in pain and strain sickeningly in its joint.

She tried to get her fingers under her eye sockets and pull from there. Her thumb plunged deep into the soft skin around her eyes so that it felt like she’d reached inside her own skull, but the mask wouldn’t move.

Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit. She’d gone too far.

She looked at the blank, white face and her flesh began to creep, except for the flesh on her face which remained still and flawless as porcelain.

In horror, she touched the mask. Her fingers felt its cool, dead surface; her face couldn’t feel the touch of their sisters. It felt like someone had amputated part of her.

Her own eyes stared at her desperately, pleadingly, set in someone else’s impassive face. Or were they someone else’s eyes looking out of her own face?

Oh God, this was too much. She couldn’t breathe. She felt trapped, shut inside the thing. She splashed cold water on her face in the hope that it would loosen whatever had fixed the mask there, but she couldn’t feel the water on her skin.

She was panicking. On the inside she was crying but the mask remained unmoved and pitiless.

With a scream of frustrated rage she headbutted the mirror, hoping to split the mask. The mirror shattered but the pallid face still gazed back at her, splintered into a dozen bleached, empty faces.

She’d been wearing the mask for so long, enjoying the game and the protection it afforded. She’d been wearing it more and more, for longer and longer, until she’d felt bare and vulnerable without it. She’d dreamt about peeling off her face and revealing the beautiful, pristine mask beneath, and now she had her wish. The mask had finally take the place of her real face.

Christ. What was she going to do?

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