INTO THE WOODS

They live in the woods.
Lights flicker through the trees.
We follow the lights to the glass house,
Lit from within by crystal chandeliers.
Notes of The Waltz drift to us.
Glass walls reveal dancing couples,
Twirling on the dance floor.
Tuxedoed men...

 

They live in the woods.

Lights flicker through the trees.

We follow the lights to the glass house,

Lit from within by crystal chandeliers.

Notes of The Waltz drift to us.

Glass walls reveal dancing couples,

Twirling on the dance floor.

Tuxedoed men stand guard at the front door.

Snow flakes fall from the dark sky.

Snow in Florida?

The clock strikes midnight.

The couples freeze.

After the last chime,

Dancing commences.

All is not right in the glass house.

All is not right with the town of Oasis.

THE DEAD GAME

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THE DEAD GAME — DAY 130

THE DEAD GAME -- DAY 130

The party in Diane’s glass house was becoming stranger and stranger. Linda didn’t want to make friends with the guests. They were too friendly.

Caroline von Strobe seized the opportunity to speak with Linda alone. She smiled as she spoke. “We would love to have you as a guest at our castle. It isn’t cold and drafty like the way castles are usually depicted in books. It has been modernized with all the luxuries of a hotel. We have fox hunting, tennis, swimming, and any sport you could think of…I get lonely in the large place all by myself. John is away a lot on business and I would love to have a companion at those times.”
“That sounds very tempting, but I’ve been very busy with my new store. However, when I have some free time, I’d love to visit your country. I’ve never been outside the United States.”
“Then most definitely you must visit. I’ll have John arrange something with Todd. In a few months, there will be fox hunting. It is a very popular sport in our country.”
Linda said, “I’m sorry, but I’ll have to skip the hunting. I adore animals and couldn’t imagine allowing one to be chased to be killed.”
“We don’t kill the fox; we let him go. The chase is the whole fun.”
“But the chase is cruel. The poor animal is running for his life—not knowing if he’ll live or not or if he’ll ever see his family again.”
Caroline hung her head in shame. “You’re right! Now I can never go hunting again.”
“I’m so sorry; I feel bad that I’ve ruined the whole experience for you. I’ve ruined many Disney movies for my friends. I could still visit and we could do anything else.”
“Sure! We’ll find something that we both enjoy.”
John walked over, excusing himself and his wife for the next dance. “The dance is a waltz. It is the most romantic dance, and we never miss it. We’ll see you again soon.” He bowed and left with his wife for the dance floor.
She turned and found the Russian couple standing right behind her. Oh no! What could she say to them without putting her foot into her big mouth?
Posted by Susanne Leist at 10:04 PM

THE DEAD GAME — DAY 129

THE DEAD GAME -- DAY 129

The party was full of strangers. Each one more beautiful than the next.

Todd brought Linda over to a group of people standing by the tall windows overlooking the garden. She was first introduced to a blond-haired couple, both dressed in white: the man in a white tuxedo and the woman in a long white gown.
“Linda, these are my close friends from England, Duke
Alan Rutherford and his wife, Duchess Amy Rutherford. They came in for Diane’s party—as did everyone else in this room.”
The duke bowed to Linda while the duchess bowed her head in greeting. They held themselves stiff and erect like proper English nobility. The duchess displayed ruby jewelry around her elegant neck and wrists. Linda even noticed sparkling rubies nestled among the blonde strands of her long wavy hair.
“You old fox, you finally found a woman that you could introduce to us,” the duke said as he nudged Todd with his elbow. The duke was tall and handsome with blond hair and dark-green eyes. He kept a watchful eye on all the guests: he was laughing with Todd, but his eyes never left the dance floor.
While Todd grimaced in reply, the duchess walked over to Linda and whispered, “They are very old friends who love to tease each other…. Just ignore them.”
Linda smiled at her in response. The duchess seemed to be very pleasant and cheerful.
Next Todd led her to a dark-haired couple, who were standing off to the side, listening to their conversation.
“Come meet Count Vladimir and Countess Leona Stravinsky. They are from Russia.”
This remark brought a dark scowl to Vladimir’s face. At first Linda had found him scary, but now with the scowl he seemed positively terrifying. Vladimir and his wife had perfectly chiseled features, tall lean bodies, and luscious dark hair; but all their beauty didn’t at all improve upon their icy cold demeanors. Linda nodded hello and then moved back to the duchess.
The last couple walked over to introduce themselves. The tall, broad-shouldered man spoke with a heavy accent. “We are happy to meet you. I am John von Strobe and this is my wife, Caroline. We have come from Romania.”
The woman spoke with the same accent. “We are happy to meet a friend of Todd’s. We have known him for many years and have never before met any of his friends.”
Linda said, “Thank you…I love your accents. Were you both born in Romania?”
The woman smiled. “Yes…however, I was born to a farmer and John was born to nobility.”
Linda was impressed. “Should I be bowing?”
“Oh no!” said Caroline. “We are very down to earth people and expect no special treatment from our friends. No one ever calls us Baron or Baroness.”
Linda hoped that she hadn’t insulted them. But they were still smiling at her. John had such a beautiful face, with blue eyes that sparkled mischievously, while his wife had gorgeous black hair and dark-blue eyes. What a beautiful couple.

THE DEAD GAME — DAY 127

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The party at Diane’s glass house was magical. The glass sparkled and mirrored the dancing couples.

    When Linda spun back around, she noticed that Hank and his daughter had already disappeared. She could see them dancing in the middle of the dance floor. He must have led her away pretty quickly—most probably before Mike had a chance to ask any more questions. Hank definitely didn’t like being interrogated. She’d learned that earlier during her very unpleasant encounter with him at his shop.

     While Linda watched the perfect guests dance and mingle, she realized that the party seemed to have a dire purpose behind it. There was much more going on behind the scenes than what appeared on the surface. There was a grave seriousness behind all the gaiety.

     She noticed an exchange of pointed looks pass between Sam and Todd. Todd responded by pulling her against his side, announcing out loud to their companions, “We are going to dance. Have fun! See you later!”

     She didn’t want to be used as a pawn in Todd’s new game. As she tried to ease away from his strong hold on her, his grip became even tighter. He led her around the dance floor, dancing past Sam, who was also leading Shana through the eerie statues and the circling dancers.

     “Maybe I don’t want to dance,” she said, stomping on his toes with the high heel of her shoe. Todd’s only response was to continue dancing and twirling her—as if he hadn’t felt the hard jab from her sharp heel. She eyed him, wondering if he ever got hurt. She sensuously slid her hand up his arm, which seemed to tremble slightly from her touch. Her hand continued to travel up to his neck, touching his soft skin, until he grabbed her hand to move it away from his body. Her eyes slowly met his. His eyes, appearing darker than usual, were smoldering with emotion and maybe even desire. He brought her hand to his mouth and kissed her wrist very gently, causing it to tingle and throb. On the other hand, he might be human after all.

     She glanced up into his pensive face as he turned to check out the room. His attention was now riveted on the other dancers, ignoring her again. She couldn’t hold his attention for more than a brief minute. How he could be immune to her, when she felt like she was being held both physically and mentally by him? She never could escape from his intense stare; even in her dreams she visualized his dark eyes boring holes deep into her soul.

     Todd broke into her gloomy thoughts. “It’s a dance. Of course you want to dance.” He drew her against his hard body. She felt hypnotized by the smell of his cologne and the feel of his strong arm holding her against him. She ran her hands across his muscular back and into his dark hair. Todd looked deep into her eyes and brought her under his spell. She felt herself losing herself to him. Oh no! Not again! Abruptly snapping back to reality, she told herself that she couldn’t lose control.

     “I don’t want to dance with you!” she said, pulling away from him.

     “Of course you do. I can read your mind; I know what goes on in there,” he said, playfully tapping her forehead with his finger, bringing her back into his arms.

     Todd’s reply made her nervous: she hoped that he really couldn’t read her mind; she also hoped that he wasn’t using her for some nefarious purpose. What had he seen right before he’d dragged her onto the dance floor? She searched the room, but didn’t notice anything unusual.

THE DEAD GAME — DAY 126

THE DEAD GAME -- DAY 125

THE DEAD GAME — DAY 125

The party at Diane’s house was perfect with perfect-looking guests.

Linda followed Todd through the thick crowd of people. Guests were chatting and laughing; some held plates while others held glasses of wine. The men looked dignified, dressed in black tuxedos; and the women were exquisite in their fancy gowns and jewels.
All the guests were tall and good-looking: the men were handsome and muscular, and the women were beautiful with tall, shapely figures. She spotted redheads, blondes, and brunettes; each person unique and gorgeous in his or her own way.
A loud commotion by the front door broke into her reverie. She turned to watch Hank walk into the party with a young beautiful blonde on his arm. A throng of people surrounded them, waiting to be introduced to Hank’s knock-out date.
The striking blonde was wearing a white, low-cut dress that was much too tight and clingy, decided Linda. She looked over at Todd to see if he was staring at this new beauty as he’d done earlier with Shana. Instead, she found him staring down at her. Linda hoped that the smirk on his face didn’t mean that he’d figured out the full extent of her errant thoughts about Hank’s girlfriend. She usually had only kind thoughts about people, but this time she didn’t know why she felt this sudden hostility toward Hank’s female friend.
She turned to Hank. “Please introduce us to your lovely friend.”
“Frances, please meet the residents of Oasis,” said Hank as he introduced the gorgeous woman by his side.
“How…how…do you know each other?” asked Mike, openly ogling her.
Hank responded with a hint of humor in his eyes, “Frances is my daughter who is visiting from college this week.”
“Oh.” Linda swallowed. From the corner of her eye, she watched Todd hold back a laugh. Annoyed with him, she looked away.
When she spun back around, she noticed that Hank and his daughter had already disappeared. She could see them dancing in the middle of the dance floor. He must have led her away pretty quickly—most probably before Mike had a chance to ask any more questions. Hank definitely didn’t like being interrogated. She had learned that earlier during her very unpleasant encounter with him at his shop.

THE DEAD GAME — DAY 125

THE DEAD GAME -- DAY 125

The party at Diane’s house was underway. Linda was in awe of the glass ball of a house with its sparkling glass interior. The whole evening felt unreal, as if she was having a dream.

Couples were swirling around the immense dance floor. They were actually dancing in a large studio between Diane’s life-sized statues. Each sculpture was carved from clear glass: each one revealing a full-sized person. Linda found them to be too lifelike. She stood next to one and stared into it frozen face. She was startled by a fleeting expression of horror that seemed to cross over its features—as if a real person was trapped inside, staring out at her from within his glass tomb. Then the look was gone and the statue appeared lifeless once again.
Her morbid thoughts made her shiver, prompting Todd to grasp her even tighter against his body. She smiled up at him and wondered how she could have been afraid of him. She was slowly brought back to reality by the quick tapping of someone’s high heels, approaching them.
A beautiful blonde woman with huge green eyes, wearing a diaphanous white dress, came over to greet them. “Hi! Welcome to my party! I am Diane, your hostess,” she said as she glided over to greet them.
Linda admired the tall blonde’s ageless beauty, while Todd made the introductions. Diane responded that she was thrilled that they’d come to her party, and then floated off to welcome other people who were arriving.
Linda gazed around the exquisite room, immediately recognizing two familiar faces: Minnie and Frank, who appeared to be almost floating across the dance floor. Frank was formal in his tuxedo, while Minnie was cute and perky in her short white baby-doll dress. As soon as they spotted Linda’s group, they danced over. Over the loud music, Minnie explained that they’d gotten a babysitter for this evening.
All of a sudden Minnie lost her happy glow, appearing both nervous and unhappy. She mouthed to Linda that they’d never missed one of Diane’s parties—no matter what. Frank, who was monitoring their hushed conversation, abruptly took Minnie’s arm and led her back to the dance floor.
Linda knew that there had to be some hidden meaning behind Minnie’s whispered words. She was beginning to believe that everyone in town had their own little secrets. She wasn’t so sure anymore whether she wanted to unbury all of them: Who knew what would come up when these unearthed secrets were finally brought to light?