Music, This Chapter: Lisa Miskovsky – Still Alive [Radio Edit].
At first she was disoriented. What was before her eyes was just thick sugar-sweet syrupy colours dripping all around her; not swirling so much as just flowingly like a warm red evening sun-splash from some lofty source very high above.
But Liz McNeil felt great. Once again, she was not tired at all, not lethargic at all but in fact highly alert -, all of her senses alive and tingling.
Quickly enough she realised she was in a huge almost megalithic vaulted space, like a big hall with a ceiling a hundred meters high above her. It wasn’t particularly wide though, maybe thirty metres wide, maybe just slightly more. And there were quite a few other people in here with her, most of them at the furthest end away from where she was standing. Everything was red everywhere. It seemed to her as if the opposite wall lifted straight up into a huge ellipse feature with stylised designs in frosty silver around its sides so that the whole wall itself became a huge artistic, arching strange ceiling high overhead – all in a base background colour of warm red with a few Turkish pink sunset tones woven into the hues, but that mostly just along the sides. Every now and then, she could see people’s faces as zoomed-in mega-sized close-ups, being projected onto the ceiling itself high overhead. Or somehow at least, if not ‘projected’ exactly, displayed onto there like the whole thing was a very high resolution video display of some kind.
The people inside the hall were all gorgeously dressed, with the men in strange futuristic suits and ties, with long flowing capes covering them on the outside almost right down to the floor. They were wearing shiny streamlined leather boots, The women were mostly all of them wearing rich dark blue velvet gowns with broad swooping arabesque designs etched into the thick textures of the velvet fabric.
Here and there, standing around, were some males and females in what appeared to be a regular kind of service livery, with capelets around their shoulders.
...There were real, living trees like poplars and erect pines growing literally inside the hall at one side. Part of the floor was a bright shiny glassy-like surface, whereas the rest of it, including where Liz was standing, was covered in a closely-woven heavy red carpeting.
Three or four women were dressed in ice white gowns from head to toe, with thick pearl necklaces and bracelets and gold jewellery on their fingers – single large variously shaped cocktail ring gemstones on the rings of each of the women.
One of the figures in a capelet started to walk straight towards Liz -, she could see the figure coming over. And then she felt a warm breath at her neck: “Liz. You’re here. What is this place? Am I in a dream? Is this really you?” Liz felt fingers prodding at her from behind.
“Yes it’s me!” She replied turning her head to the side. “I have no idea where we are or what this place is...”
The figure wearing the capelet had reached them now and spoke: “Welcome.” It was a woman, with glittering sparkles all over her eyebrows and in her black hair. She bowed slightly and moved her two arms gesturing towards a direction off to one side. “If you would come with me, we’ll get you all fitted out perfectly. Please, come.”
“We go then, right?” The voice from behind her said.
“I guess. Why not...”
They followed where the liveried woman was leading, and in less than twenty meters there was a big, bubble-like ‘pod’ that came to meet them, down from out of the sky, and Liz only then realised that the ‘hall’ in fact was some kind of outdoor arena affair with an enclosed top, but that at the sides, the place was exposed to the open, with the night sky up above them blending into a darkness all around.
Inside the glass pod there were two other people, one a rather mature-aged man with grey hair and the other a woman of less than middle age.
“Tara! What are you doing here?” The young woman who had been following closely behind Liz, burst out.
The liveried attendant leant over to ‘*’ and said: “She won’t be able to recognise you. I’m sorry.”
There were seats in there in the pod, and the two women were motioned to sit in them and the personal stylist got to work quickly, expertly applying skin cleaners and eyelid cream and all sorts of preparations and then applying some foundation and, in the case of the young actress, prominent lilac eye-shadow -, and with Liz, a romantic luminescent amber-coloured eye-shadow.
The elderly man produced two amazing outfits complete with full sets of silk gusset pocket black lace undergarments, one of them with pink-coloured lined feature stitching and the other with peach-coloured stitching around the edges.
After they had taken everything they had on when they came in, completely off, and had put on the new clothes, the elderly man brought out two white boxes from somewhere and opened the lids showing the women the shoes that were inside. They were flared top, ankle boots, rather streamlined and futuristic, in patina finished coloured ultra soft leather – one cherry with black patina edging, and the other a high-shine green-gold blending into the black patina edges.
Liz’s dress was dark green and fitted like a filoselle – a floss silk - sheath.
As they left the glass pod, some kind of aurora effect showered through the air inside the arena auditorium, but it was something they could feel right through their bodies. It was like an electric field of some deliberate, technical, and contrived kind. Liz felt herself gasp with excitement, because the electron shower gave her this sudden thrilling jolt together with a feeling of instant power.
The air smelt of clean pure rainforest ozone.
The liveried attendant led them to a small group of people gathered together slightly off to one side of the main body of people.
“May I present Elizabeth McNeil,” she said to the small semi-circle of beautifully-attired men and women. “And Ms. ‘*.’”
The group just stood back a bit, smiling, several with folded arms, as if they were sizing up what they were looking at.
Then one man stepped forward and held out his hand to Liz. “I am Strategos Leucis the Younger. And these are the Polemarchoi Lyreos and Ion - we just call him ‘John’ though, this one, because he prefers to stay with your people down there far too much of the time. So he has a human name. Even here.” The man laughed warmly. “And this is the Lady Nyctimene, and the Countess Zylina. They are the personal assassins for your goddess friend -.” He nodded to Liz.
“Oh.” she found herself just replying simply.
“We are not assassins!” One of the women retorted, though also smiling broadly. “And if he is a Strategos I will eat my cape.”
The apparent leader of the circle, turned to ‘*’ and held out his hand to her next, which she took in hers. And then she also courtesied theatrically, as she had been trained to do ever since even before the very first drama class she had ever taken as a small child – but without ever before being in a genuine situation that called for it or at least, as here, seemed to call for it.
The woman who had been called the ‘Countess,’ lifted one arm and gestured as if to pull the man speaking back, and spoke: “We don’t expect you to know really where you are right now, or what you are meant to be doing here, or really, who we all are here -.” She gave the man she was ‘holding back’ a gentle further shove backwards. “And, don’t make the mistake of letting these boys make you believe they are in charge of anything here. Because they are not!”
She grabbed the lapel of the one they called ‘Ion.’ “And this one, this one here – he can’t even dance so don’t go with him if he asks you to dance. He can’t dance.” She feigned that her toes had been stepped on at some time just previously. “Ouch, ouch...”
The seemingly younger of the two women in the group, spoke up: “I can dance though. Would you like to dance with me?” She blinked at Liz.
“Yes. Go,” The Countess advised Liz. “Go dance with her, she’s amazing and you will enjoy it.” then the Countess turned her attention to ‘*.’ “As for you though, one thing I can tell you for sure – is that you are about to discover what a real ‘man’ is...”
Liz was breathless. After a while she just caught her breath as best she was able and whispered across to the young person she was dancing with -, who had been swaying into her and dragging Liz’s body along with her own sinuous movements and manoeuvres: “God but you can really dance!”
“I learned from Erin Brandt. Have you heard of her?”
“No. I never have. Should I have?”