I peak around the heavy, red velvet curtains to see thousands of blank eyes starring forward in anticipation. I shudder and shut my eyes as tightly as I can, hoping to make myself wake up. But I don’t wake up and a moment later I’m hit with an awful realization of this being no dream. I swallow hard, shake back the fear, and try to remember, try to figure out where I am and how I got here. My memories reside in my head but they’re seemingly not mine. Nothing I remember makes any sense. I remember kissing strawberry lips. I remember walking for hours down an unfamiliar street at night. I remember blood spilling onto the pavement and being washed away by the downpour of rain. I remember waking up here, on the wooden floor behind these curtains. No matter how much I strain my memory, I can only come up with bits of recollection can not be mine.
I look around myself in utter confusion. Nothing makes any sense, I make no connections and my bottom lip begins to quiver as I see the hopelessness of my predicament. My entire body stiffens up as chills run down my spine. I’m pushed out of my frozen state by the mechanical squeal behind me. My heart jumps into my throat as the curtain gears begin to turn pulling the curtains back. A pair of hands appears out of nowhere and pushes me towards the stage. I struggle against the hands, but still I pushed closer and closer.
“No, no!” I cream in protest but the hands do not ease up.
“It is time, Alexandra,” a voice calls to me.
“What? Time for what? Where am I?” I ask in frantic desperation.
“It is time for the show; it’s time for you to go on.”
I continue to squirm in these hands that have gripped me, but I know that any defiance is useless. There is no escape.
“What show?” I quickly ask in hopes of putting off my so-called performance as much as possible.
The voice belonging to the hands seems bemused at my inquiry as it replies, “Your show Alex, your comedy!”
“What?!” I scream in confusion.
“Enough talking! It is time to begin!”
The hands push me out onto the stage. Suddenly, several lights
are all shot on with a dull electric roar. I find myself standing in the center of the stage, staring at the dead eyes of a thousand faces. The blinding lights, the faces staring at me force me to shut my eyes and make one last futile attempt at disappearing. My head goes light as I try to steady my breathing. I feel as if my body’s floating, creating a nauseous feeling in my stomach. I squint, open my eyes, steady myself and glimpse again into the crows of faces staring at me. Every member in this audience is dressed the same, in what seems to be the height of late 17th century aristocratic fashion. The men and women alike have powdered faces and wings to match. The lights above them reflect on their clothes which are lined with golden thread.
“Where am I?” I whisper to myself. “WhatÃ¢Â?Â¦what am I doing here?”
My whispers echo throughout the auditorium. I look around to notice a microphone hanging down on front of me. The faces continue to stare as my own eyes adjust the light. I hear a man in the front row seat chuckle. I can not bear it anymore; I have to knowÃ¢Â?Â¦
“Who are you people?” My voice sounds dry and cracked as it vibrates through my ears. I wonder when I last spoke out loud, when I last uttered more than a sentence.
I stare directly into the audience as a few more people join the man with their dull laughter.
“Why are you laughing?” I demand, only to hear more people join in.
“What is so funny?”
The dull chuckling in the auditorium now explodes into full out laughter.
“What is so goddamned funny?!” I scream into the microphone.
The auditorium erupts in laughter. All of the members laugh in unison, creating a roar that continuously echoes through my head.
“Why are you laughing? This isn’t funny!”
Everyone in the audience is roaring now.
“Shut up! Shut up!” I yell, “This isn’t a fucking joke, I’m not a comedian!”
The laughter, almost mechanical in its monotony, only increases in its intensity.
My head throbs with pain, as if it wants to explode from the noise of laughter. I fall to my knees as my eyes fill up with tears.
“Stop it! Stop laughing! What is this!? Where am I?!”
The laughter continues, echoes out into forever.
“PleaseÃ¢Â?Â¦stop” I whisper, only this time my whispers are not magnified.
I look up to see the faces in the audience contorted with laughter.
Before I realize what is happening, the curtains begin to close around me. As the long red curtains envelop me, I realize that it is me who is making all these people laugh. In panic, I realize that I do not want this to end. I no longer care why they’re laughing; I want to make them laugh forever.
I step out, away from the curtains and question the audience again – “why ate you laughing at me?
“What is so funny?”
The laughter begins to wane.
“Why? Why am I here?”
The laughter wakens even more.
The laughter ceases completely, again I find myself staring into a sea of blank faces.
A pair of hands reaches out from behind the curtains and grabs me, pulling me back.
“WhatÃ¢Â?Â¦I don’tÃ¢Â?Â¦.I don’t understand!” I scream out as the hands push painfully into my arms.
I find myself pulled back into total darkness paralyzed by these hands around my arms, but still I struggle to move.
“What is this?”
“Your act isn’t funny anymore.” – the voice belonging to the hands whispers chillingly into my ear.
“It got old.” – says the voice cunningly.
I shiver and the grip on my arms is released. I try but I still cannot move.
“NoÃ¢Â?Â¦.noÃ¢Â?Â¦” I sob.
I see a flash of shinning metal and a large gun is thrust into my face.
“Wait! I don’t understand!” I plead.
“It is too late Alex. Your act is sour. You’re now disposable.”
Every muscle in my body contracts all at once as I watch a finger tighten around the trigger of the gun.