It was to be dinner at the castle, the count had summoned everyone.
The heat in that room was unbearable, and the purple diamond glow.
We all sat down, even Alexej, waiting for our centenarian host
to put in his appearance. But a bat flew in instead and settled on
the count’s plate. “Appetizer!” it chirped. Oversized rats bearing
platters came running from the kitchen. I noticed their neat uniform
(checkered brown and white) and the neat exit point of their tails
in their trousers. Wasn’t anybody going to comment these goings-on?
I looked at my neighbor, princess Kabanarova. Out of her starched
white collar rose a pigeon’s head. Was I surrounded by animals?
I was. No surprise then that the dinner served by the rats was birdfeed.
I touched my own face, finding fur and a rubbery little nose.
What the hell? I was about to shout, but that’s when the fugue
started playing, that overpowering fugue in D minor that silences
everything. I saw the hands playing it. They turned into mice.
The organ, solid and firm, cracked and developed fissures. Its
thunder continued, but then it lifted itself and all of us, and we were
shiny white, in a white gigantic studio, kneeling on the floor, all
of us contributing to one big painting which already had, in flowing
letters at its bottom, the title: “The last dinner. By Verenese, 2088.”
– James Steerforth ( © 2010 )