It’s been a dark age since the last chapter posted here on A Writer’s Life blog and I’m no longer going to apologize for the delay (just assume I feel your worry—ha)! A Play Demonic (The Queen’s Idle Fancy) continues with the first audition, another ritual of sorts must take place . . . sacrifices made to appease Mr. Frederick Waltzcrop, Camoustra and Frenalto. There’s tension in this Part, wow, chapter 29, and the early players are gathering. It’s the Winter Solstice, rainy, and a climb up Mt. Erie is in order. Until next time, please share this horror tale with your friends and let me hear from you . . . comment below!
“We are all demonic!”—QUEEN STORMAG
If you wish to read A Play Demonic (The Queen’s Idle Fancy) from the very beginning, simply click HERE for Part 1, and if you’d like to just refresh your memory and read the last chapter, simply click HERE to begin reading Part 28 . . . it has been too long.
A Play Demonic (The Queen’s Idle Fancy)
Kate drove to the Belloon house as droplets of rain, just a spattering, fell across her windshield.
“I’ll just be a moment,” said Frenalto as he exited the back seat. Camoustra stared to the side, her gaze unfathomable.
A moment later, Martin Belloon opened the front passenger door as Frenalto once more settled himself beside Camoustra—Martin and Kate immediately forgot there was anyone riding along with them. Without much time to change, Belloon stayed in his pajamas, long flannel plaid bottoms. His hair askew, his booted feet sockless.
“Kate. Wonderful to see you tonight. Are you ready for your audition?”
“I’ve been preparing all this time,” she said.
“This won’t be your final audition, but your performance will go a long way towards staking a claim to the role of Stormag. The Queen . . .”
“I’m sure I won’t disappoint.”
Camoustra caressed Kate’s cheek for a second and whispered in her ear before settling back in the car seat.
“Mustn’t waste any more time,” Kate said. She put the car in drive, took a deep breath, and drove to the Mt. Erie parking area. Carole Belloon closed the curtains in her upstairs bedroom and shivered. She locked the room’s door and didn’t know whether or not she’d ever see her husband again. She wouldn’t be sad if that was the case.
Frenalto had all the pieces in order for this evening’s ritual.
Waltzcrop met their small party along the hiking trail, coming out of the pine trees like a phantom. Kate gave a small shriek and clutched her heart. The rain picked up intensity and it was difficult to see anything, anyone’s features in the gloom. She held a flashlight, and Martin did as well, but the light moved in jerks as they walked, now stumbling and slipping over wet roots and stones, fallen twigs.
Who hikes these trails at night? The park’s supposed to be closed!
These thoughts raced through Kate’s mind yet she had no answer and couldn’t voice her growing unease to Martin. He held the role of The Queen in his hands.
“Martin? This is an unusual place to hold an audition.”
“Don’t I know it. I wanted to see how you and Leonora, yes, you’re up against the great Leonora Rabkin for the central part in The Queen’s Idle Fancy. You already knew that though . . . as it’s ever been for every juicy role the FITE club has produced.”
“Who’s your friend?”
“Oh, where are my manners. Kate Denisov, it is my sheer pleasure to introduce you to the play’s benefactor, and, from what I hear, your new neighbor . . . can’t believe you haven’t made his acquaintance yet. Mr. Frederick Waltzcrop, this is the lovely and talented Kate Denisov.”
Waltzcrop stood in front of Kate on the forest path in his top hat and raincoat, a silver-topped cane held tightly. He stuck out his gloved right hand and grasped Kate’s in a delicate grip, applying a tiny amount of pressure. He massaged in tiny circles with his thumb and Kate pulled her hand away.
“I’m sure I look a mess.”
“I’m afraid this is my fault. The night will only enhance the events. This audition will be a shining achievement. Martin’s told me all about you. Your passion.”
“I hope not to disappoint you. I know the part by heart. I know every line. I’ve not read a play so strong, rich, so . . . subversive.”
The last word came out of Kate’s mouth and she wished to take it back immediately. She wasn’t the kind to appear promiscuous, or rebellious. Even though she was demanding, this came with a hearty respect for the craft. She knew when not to cross any line.
“It’s darkly humorous is all I mean,” she said.
“Yes. It surely is that. Some call it a farce. The times. How desperate people cling to myths, struggle to bring forth change even in the darkest of ages. Let’s continue our walk. The other participant is waiting there and she’s had more time to study her part. You may be at a slight disadvantage, but again, faith is something to cling to . . . don’t you agree?”
Waltzcrop didn’t wait for an answer. He turned and strode ahead of Kate, with Martin following behind her. Their flashlights couldn’t keep up with him. He soon disappeared in the gloom. Frenalto and Camoustra held up the rear, watching, making sure no one turned tail and tried to get past them, or slunk off into the dark lush woods. Giant fern leaves brushed against their legs and Camoustra smiled. Nature always made her feel cleansed, part of a mysterious universe, and even this simple touch from an intricate plant leaf invigorated her spirit.
“Yes?” He answered only because he thought Kate was the only one with him now that Waltzcrop stepped up his pace, vanished from sight ahead of the group, and he could imagine Waltzcrop quick as the wind at the peak in a split second, tapping his toes. His impatience with Kate’s slow climb up the mount ticked away inside his head.
“Do you trust this . . . stranger?” Kate whispered this last word, and there was a tentative fear. The wet darkness and the chill of December made her shiver. She could honestly say there’d never been another time in her life where she thought about her own death. It loomed ahead of her in the Mt. Erie gloom. Morbid thought. She’s young, a good-looking fit middle-aged thespian, thin, worked hard to keep trim, hardly ate anything. She preferred drinking good wine, her only vice.
“I’ve met him several times now and he’s to be admired, and you’d be wise to call him by his name from this moment forward.”
“I have the oddest thoughts.” Death. Gladiators on a path. The audition a mental and physical performance. Live or die. Chance. Did she really want the role of The Queen that much? Kate Denisov fell into these thoughts, still thinking it wasn’t too late to back out, give the role to Leonora. Back and forth as sweat broke out on her skin. The party climbed higher.
“Just concentrate on the play. You don’t know which scene you’ll have to show us. Mr. Waltzcrop is going to decide, and, really, it’s up to him who wins the part. I have nothing to do with it.”
Camoustra almost laughed at that. The Belloon buffoon had his role to play in the night’s festivities. She always loved these moments, as few and far between as they were over the decades.
Thank you for reading this section of A Play Demonic . . . to read the next chapter, click HERE for Part 30!
That’s a wrap for this week’s installment. I hope you continue to read A Play Demonic (The Queen’s Idle Fancy) — look for the Twitter hashtag #WeAreAllDemonic to join in discussions about the story, and begin your own . . .
Enjoy the horror, and please look for my new release, Sandcastle and Other Stories – The Complete Edition, now available to order from any bookstore, print of online. Support your independents! There are two new dark tales in this new book (see cool new book cover below) and each of the older tales has gone through a crucial editing, tweaking here and there like Frankenstein’s monster. Beware the beach this summer! Chills!
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