A singing fish hovers before me, silent at the moment; the last notes of Livin’ La Vida Loca are still ringing in my ears.
The fish blinks slowly, and turns as if swimming lazily. It is a rich brown shade, with bright red stripes and even brighter red lips. It glistens in the light, which seems to be coming from everywhere and nowhere at once. It just hangs there, waiting for another request. I’m afraid to ask for more.
The space I’m in is cavernous, with faintly purple walls far enough away in all directions as to not be sure which wall is closest. The ceiling, too, is far above, and shines a little like the surface of a pond on a bright summer’s day.
But this is no pond: there is no water.
There is gravity, and it feels normal enough. The floor is down, and covered in some sort of smooth, shiny, nearly black material. It has just enough texture to look like the surface of a pond on a still day. And yet again, it is not water.
This doesn’t explain the fish.
It also doesn’t explain how I came to be here.
Or why the fish has such a good singing voice and stage presence. Not to mention where the backing orchestra is hiding.
It is just a fish, and I seem to be trapped in its nightmare.
The statue rested in the grotto, the last remnant of a glorious past. Some pieces were missing, as time is no more kind to statuary than it is to man. The remaining fragments included two right feet, one larger and calloused, the other more delicate. Oddly, neither left foot was anywhere to be seen. Nor were most of the (presumed to once exist) legs and torsos. Most of a delicate arm held a lyre, with the fingers of a missing hand in the process of plucking a string. The arm was cloaked in vines, their orange fruit punctuating the grey stone of the statue and greens of the grotto itself. In the shadows, placed on a natural shelf, rested most of one of the heads, and expression of surprise on what remained of the features. The most striking were the eyes, where dark pigment remained deep in the holes drilled where the pupils would be. Contrasted with the pale grey stone, the effect was of a guardian staring down any would be thieves, while also mourning the loss of the rest of his figure.
Following his line of sight leads the eye to a second natural shelf, more open to the weather. A round boulder of white stone is all that remains of the head of the other figure. From its size, and the sizes of her foot and arm, she was obviously female. Though whether she was his wife, lover, daughter, or ward is lost to history.
The feet stand together on part of a stone plinth. The rest, along with the left feet, is missing. A stone tablet once leaned on the legs of the figures, possibly containing some clue to their identities. The largest remaining piece bears the word “Eternity”. No other pieces with writing are recognizable.
Ah, my pretties. Play wonderous music for me while I work. For whilst I may strike my victims dumb with terror, and turn them into little more than silent puppets dancing to my tune, I need my music to keep my own sanity.
So play on, my pretties, play on.
Play well, and you may go free to pursue your own desires and dance to your own tunes.
Play poorly and join my victims in their fleeting lives.