I left Ben catching his breath while I wandered around following the fragrance of unclaimed talent. As fun as Ben was to inspire, I still needed fresh cattle. I spent the rest of the afternoon in the con suite. Nothing like junk food to fuel the younger artists. I tagged a few promising ones for myself, leaving my serpent mark on their on their foreheads.
By evening, I was convinced that the Erinyes had given up and decided it was safe to attend the masquerade ball. The theme was Dress as your Muse. I mentally flipped through my wardrobe. I could go as Saffus again, but I wanted something that would open Ben’s eyes completely. I doubted that one short jaunt into the shadows had been enough to fully convince him. The power of denial ran strong through mortals. I could do the obvious and wear the classic chiton with himation. I doubted Ben would be impressed or convinced. Besides, there were too many such costumes already walking the halls. No, I needed something different.
I entered the ballroom and admired the array of costumes. In addition to classic Greek and Roman with a variety of props and masks, I saw Romantic era poets and poetesses, a few saints and angels, three Fredas, one Homer and a Mary Shelley. Then there were the trees, roses and lilacs, a handful of butterflies and fairies, and even a spider costume. Then there was Ben, dressed as himself and sitting in a corner scribbling in his notebook.
…out of the hovering helicopter. Seth rolled the landing and came up with guns blazing….
I strolled over. “Hello.”
He looked up. His jaw dropped. It was a direct hit. “Where did you find a Joan Wilder costume?”
I shrugged. “Oh, just a little thing I threw together.” I adjusted the torn wet blouse and smoothed the ragged skirt. “Glad you recognized it. I had a couple of people on the way here stop me to ask if I needed help.”
“Oh, Joan Wilder needed help alright. She was in way over her head in Romancing the Stone.” He gestured to the seat next to him. “I’m Ben.”
“Nice to meet you. I’m Joan.” I sat down.
“Staying in character then? Nice. So she’s your muse?”
“Actually, I think she’s yours.”
“How did–” He spotted the one piece of jewelry foreign to the costume. “That’s the third snake earring I’ve seen today. Funny how it looks exactly like the one I described in my story.” He rubbed his hand over his face then up through his hair. “So what is this? Some sort of performance art piece? How many people are in on this? Am I tonight’s entertainment?” He stood up, glaring at me. “I’ll give you this; you did your research.”
“Wait, Ben. It’s not what you think.”
“So, what’s your real name? And don’t tell me Joan Wilder.”
He laughed. “The tenth muse? Oh, that’s rich. Ok, ok. You’ve had your fun. Find someone else to target now.” He started to walk away, then stopped. “Oh, and send me a copy of the video. I’m sure my friends will get a real kick out of it.” He stormed out of the ballroom, shaking his head.
Well that didn’t go as planned.
Copyright 2011, Kimberley Long-Ewing, all rights reserved