Work In Progress
1895 Egypt --
It is a time of fermenting unrest, British rule, and ancient evils awakened to sate their unnatural hungers.
Captain Samuel McCord, his immortal wife, Meilori Shinseen, Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, Winston Churchill, and Lady Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron --
All find themselves attending a State Ball, fully knowing undying evil waits for them somewhere in the night.
A NIGHT OF MAGIC AND DEATH
“As if you were on fire from within.
The moon lives in the lining of your skin.”
― Pablo Neruda
The flickering light of the torches held the shadows close about Meilori. But still she seemed an empress to me. The dress she had left me for was a thing of myth and legend.
Her gleaming cloak was reminiscent of the glory that had been Ancient Egypt.
It was made of fine mastic wool with two slender bands of silver velvet, embroidered with rows of jet beads from the front waist to just underneath the shoulder-blades in back to form scarves.
Below them hung black fringe which draped the skirt fastened on the back. Puffy sleeves were pleated below on woolen sleeves, hemmed in rich Persian silk.
The high stiff black collar turned over into silver points. It was fastened with a gold pendant shaped as a sphinx. The embroidered elegant scarlet gown was trimmed in fiery gold lace.
The low neckline was edged with double rows of glittering diamonds which draped to the waist, wrapping around to the right and fastened there with clasps designed to look like black jackal heads.
Her gloves were gold and black, made of what looked like tender, soft lambskin.
I studied her. The end of many a harsh day had been made better by just drinking in her beauty. Meilori’s jade eyes were large and seemed endlessly deep. She smiled, and my world was whole again.
I tried to imagine what my life felt like when she had not been in it. I could not. She colored the whole of my existence.
I liked watching her walk, listening to her talk. It was performance art, intimate, compelling, rich with overtones, radiant with interest. I didn’t even have to know to whom she was talking or about what.
I just liked the sound of it, the way I liked the sound of music. Her movements were as graceful as any dance I had ever observed … and more natural.
As we stepped upon the floor of the lobby, Meilori held out an arm. “Will you do me the honor of escorting me, kind sir?”
I looped my arm around hers. “All right, but no taking liberties with me afterwards.”
She laughed wickedly, “No promises.”
I laughed back. “Ah, something to look forward to.”
“Always,” she murmured.
I took in the night.
It was hard to believe how still it was after all the hustle and bustle that filled this street in the daylight. Now, all was hush in a magical quality. It was as if we had been transported into one of the Arabian Night tales.
A very cold tale. Cairo nights could be almighty chilly. Tonight was no exception.
The full moon gleamed in waves along the inlaid gold designs along the doors of the stagecoach. The wood reflected soft fire in its depths.
The thousand and one desert stars blinked down in wonder upon us.
Meilori’s skin seemed to burn cold with moonfire as if her very form would burst into an explosion of moonbeams to fade away into legend.
“Let us begin this night of beauty and death, shall we?” laughed Meilori.
“Well since you asked so nice,” I said and lifted her into the coach where I quickly followed.
“How sad and bad and mad it was - but then, how sweet”
― Robert Browning
― Robert Browning