Swaying back and forth on the dance floor Caftan turned in time to the beat, big pale green paws stamping the ground as he swayed to the thumping tune. He loved this style of electro-swing you could really limber up and groove to it. The hyena also really adored his costume for this year, it was so liberating! None of his friends had recognized him at first.
He'd asked the hare at the costume shop to make him into something different for the party and he'd not disappointed. All his traditional hyena colours were gone, his body was black with a neon green tail tuft was and zig-zagging lightning bolt patterns in the same virulent shade as his tail. I! It wasn't just colour though, something had been done to his fur to make it shine.
Caftan had spent three hours in the costume shop that afternoon. The dyes had settled into his fur and given it volume and a smooth glistening shiny appearance. It was like he'd been lightly dipped in vinyl or latex and it felt great! He had then been handed a tight pair of Lycra shorts that blended perfectly into his styled fur and nothing else. He’d felt a bit self conscious at first but as soon as he realised no one could recognize him he’d thrown himself into the role of wild party hyena.
Grooving on the dance floor, dressed in those tight shorts it looked like he was wearing a tight latex body suit. When in fact he had the freedom and stamina of not being in a costume and he'd attracted a lot of attention. In fact the guy he'd had his eye on for half the night had come over to join him and they were now dancing together.
He was an otter with purple fur and shockingly green hair. Under the black lights it glowed nearly as brightly as Caftan’s shiny fur. His name was Whistler and he was wearing a tight leather bodysuit and a long steampunk style kilt around his waist to add flare to his movements. The suit had built in boots and he could stomp just as good as Caftan could with his big hyena paws. Stepping closer to the otter Caftan danced against him, tail swaying, dancing as his hips gyrated to the tune. The dance floor was there's and everyone was watching as they orbited about one another in time to the music.
The song crashed to the end, the air was still for a moment and Caftan panted heavily, tongue hanging out. Moving away from the dance floor the hyena made his way over to the bar followed by the otter. Leaning against his new water-weasel of a friend Caftan snagged a glass of water from the tray at the end of the bar and literally poured it down his throat. Whistler grinned at him, his webbed fingers dancing down his neck as he leant down and whispered, well half shouted but a whisper in this atmosphere into his ear.
“What say we skip this next one and take a break?” Caftan looked up into the thickly whiskered face of the otter and grinned back at him.
“You got someplace in mind to… slip off?” Caftan let his fingers play over the smooth leather covering the otters chest, “I imagine this place is pretty busy all around.”
“We’ll find somewhere,” Whistler rested his arms on Caftan’s shoulders and leant down until their noses were touching, “It’s bloody boiling in this body suit, I’d not mind a hand to help… slide me out of it for a breather.”
Licking his lips Caftan set his cup down and looked at the barman who’d wandered over to inquire if they needed anything. He quickly waved them away with a shake of his head then turned and headed off, giving Whistler a knowing look and a grin as the otter fell in alongside him. Out of the main dance hall and across the entrance hall the hyena looked around trying to decide which way to go. A small door to the side of the main stairs seemed the best bet so he scooted through the crowd and let himself through.
The corridor beyond was dimly lit and had a few wooden chests and small niches with expensive looking knick-knacks standing in them. It was quieter and as soon as the door thumped shut behind them the music from the dance floor cut off entirely. Whistler stretched his arms above his head and turned to regard the hyena. Barking a short laugh Caftan stepped forwards and pulled the otter’s head down to kiss him.
“Let’s get out of the corridor… anyone could come and see us but damn you’re hot.”
Whistler smirked and nodded as if being called hot was his due and loped towards the nearest door, “You’re not half bad yourself yeen boy… come on this’ll do…”
The door led into some sort of glass room.. A conservatory Caftan thought they were called. The furniture was all heavy wicker-work with cream coloured cushions. The windows looked out over some sort of internal courtyard garden but Caftan stopped paying attention. It was a nice quiet room away from everyone else and he had an otter’s lips glued to his. Stepping backwards toward one of the wicker sofa’s the black and green shiny hyena let his fingers tug and tease at Whistler’s belt. He wanted to get that kilt out of the way so he could admire a bulging otter crotch in that tight leather suit.
“You know, it is incredibly rude to enter a room and ignore someone… especially when it is your host.”
Pulling away from Whistler at the sudden voice Caftan turned and scanned the room. He gaped at the insane figure sitting in one of the large wicker arm-chairs. It was Kalido, the crazy, spiral eared crux from the opening ceremony. He was wearing a large lime green shirt covered in virulent toxic green lace and a pair of unsightly neon yellow pvc trousers! Looking at him made Caftan’s eyes hurt. Kalido languidly flowed out of his chair and weaved around a coffee table toward them. Caftan pulled away from Whistler and backed warily aware from the idiotically dressed creature.
“Kalido? I thought… this party was hosted by Nido…”
“It is Nido,” Whistler muttered and walked forwards, “Seriously, what’s with the crazy crux outfit bro! You look stupid and that outfit, I should take you out back and have you shot.”
“Whistler, Whistler, Whistler,” the crux shook its head and smirked, showing off a muzzle full of teeth, “You should know better then to think I’d settle for a fake costume!”
Caftan gaped, those teeth looked suspiciously real and Whistler seemed uncertain, pausing in mid step to frown at the crux, “What…”
Kalido moved, one moment he was standing there the next he was up against Whistler, hands gripping his elbow and his wrist. Their body bent slightly as he forced the otter backwards and smirked at him. His tongue slithered out, long and striped blue and purple and licked across Whistler’s snout as the otter wriggled and struggled against the surprisingly strong grip of the lanky critter.
“You see,” Kalido whispered softly, “We are together now… working as one to make sure that this is the best party ever! And you were so rude… naughty Whistler, such a bad otter… sneaking in here, planning to have a naughty time with the nice hyena right in front of me!” shaking his head and crux moved, releasing Whistler who stumbled only to be caught at tail base and the back of his neck as the crux weaved around to stand behind him and pushed him forwards.
“Ignoring me, your darling brother,”
“I didn’t see you!” Whistler objected, wriggling to try and break free of the crux’s grip, “Come on Nido let me go, I honestly didn’t see you when we came inside!”
Shaking his head Kalido took a deep breath, let go of Whistler and pushed him forwards at the same time as he exhaled a cloud of white ice crystals. They folded themselves about the otter and Caftan heard him bark in alarm as tiny shards of ice settled all over his fur and costume. Kalido meanwhile was dancing around, head back, body arched at an improbable angle as he sang an incredibly peculiar song.
“Sightless and Weightless,”
“Cold everlasting is my gift to you,”
“Worthless and Heightless!”
“Watchful and insightful, no need for the loo!”
“I grant unto thee, my dearest otterling,”
“The chance to be unseen,”
“The chance to see everything,”
“Goodbye now, it’s time for me to see to the yeen!”
Whistler staggered back to his feet and turned around to glare at the crux, “Now you listen here you madman! What did you do to me….”
Whistler started forward, hand raised ready to admonish the insane crux when he staggered suddenly and pressed his hand to his forehead. “What… did you do?”
Swaying from side to side the purple otter staggered forward a couple of steps and started to pitch over. He reached out to grab one of the armchairs and phased right through it as if it wasn’t there. His arms passed right through the back of the chair followed by his torso, the chair now bisecting his wavering body
Caftan squeaked as before his eyes Whistler’s colourful fur started to grow light and wispy. He staggered backwards, pulling himself out of the chair. His body slid through solid whickerwork as if it was not there… or if he wasn’t. There seemed to be no substance to him at all any more. Holding his hands up Whistler stare at them as they started to go really translucent. Staggering backwards as if trying to escape from himself he walked into the middle of the sofa, his lower legs just hidden out of sight.
Turning his head Whistler reached for Caftan, “Help… I… what’s….” and then his colours drained away, he turned black and white. First the colours inside his outline bled away, then his outline broke apart until nothing remained. There was no sign of Whistler anywhere in the room and Caftan turned to look at the crux and screamed, jumping backwards.
Kalido was literally standing right on top of him, looming over him with a crazed grin plastered over his purple and ice white striped muzzle. Stumbling backwards Caftan looked around wildly, the crazily coloured hyena edging toward the door.
“What… happened to Whistler,” Caftan asked, backing away slowly, eyes darting from side to side nervously, “That was… a fun… effect,” he whispered, desperately trying to pretend what he had just seen was just another trick, “How, did you pull that off, was pretty spectacular…”
“I removed Whistler’s corporeal form, he’s still there, now he won’t miss anything every again,” Kalido purred, “He’s a ghost, a wisp of memory on the ether wandering about. The only thing he has left to do is look and watch and see things.”
“Uhm well as he’s not here I should go back to the party,” Caftan turned and wrenched open the door and leapt out into the corridor. Slamming the door behind him he turned to run back to the main hall and screamed as Kalido was standing right in front of him again. “How… you… oh god please don’t make me disappear!”
Placing one long finger against Caftan’s lips the crux shook his head and purred, “Don’t worry little hyena, I won’t make you vanish,” his grin grew wider, “In fact I will see to it that you are always seen and never missed again,” his voice turned into a fluid, teasing purr as he backed Caftan up along the wall. He wasn’t pushing just walking forwards and Caftan was hurriedly stepping backwards to try and stay ahead of the mad creature!
“You must have felt pretty drab and boring and mundane for a hyena,” the crux purred, “After all why go to all the trouble to make yourself look so pretty and exotic…” he purred and suddenly grabbed Caftan’s shoulders, holding him tightly, “Don’t worry everyone will see you from now on Caftan and admire how much of a raver hyena you are…”
Kalido shoved hard and Caftan fell backwards, he squealed as two large, pale cream taloned hands wrapped around his shoulders. They were huge, encompassing his arms from shoulder to elbow and they felt weird. Dry and rustling, like parchment and then they dug their fingers in and pulled him backwards. For a moment he felt parchment press against his back and then he was sliding through it.
With a startled scream Caftan started to struggle madly against the hands. Legs kicking wildly as they were lifted off the floor the hyena tried to scream. His head had already passed through the canvas however… the picture frame on either side was sliding past and then his head and shoulders where through! It didn’t take long for the rest of his body to follow, with his arms gripped by those weird hands he couldn’t even make a lunge for the picture frame. He was yanked bodily into the canvas and then released! Falling to the well… nothing in a crumpled heap Caftan found himself in a small black space. It looked like it went on forever but in reality when he reached out his hands found resistance after about two feet.
It was the same with the floor, level with the bottom of the picture frame he was trapped on the other side of the canvas! In front of him was a wide open space, he could see out into the mansion’s corridor. Kalido was there, smiling up at him but when Caftan tried to lunge forward and leave he hit another invisible wall.
The hyena backed away as Kalido stepped forwards and ran his claws across the outside of the barrier. He was drawing… Caftan could see the lines of images and lights and slowly, inch by inch the dark space he was held inside filled with detail! Magic sparked off his fingers and Caftan realised the crux was painting in the scene. A dance floor of smooth varnished wood rolled out beneath his feet. He jumped uncomfortably on the wood and hammered on the clear pane of light. The damn crux was right there on the other side but he couldn’t reach through and touch him!
Kalido’s hands were sketching above Caftan’s head and without warning lights pulsed on overhead and illuminated his form. Red, yellow, green, they were harsh bright lights beaming down from a gantry that now hung above his head. He squeaked as Kalido’s claws prodded and drew shapes across the centre of the picture. He wasn’t affected but behind him there was… a hint of a crowd, a shadowy DJs booth off to the left taking shape and smoke in the air.
It was a dance floor and he was front and centre, the darling of the scene! The air was growing hot, humid, the scent of many people crushed together filled his nostrils and the lights burnt brightly from above.
Caftan turned back to glare at Kalido but squeaked in alarm as the crux raised a hand and poked the centre of the picture agai and the hyena squealed as his body jerked to its feet against his will. He was forced to strike a pose and hold it. Standing on one foot, the other raised, arms arranged just so… it was as if he was mid dance move, a smile plastered on his short muzzle as if he was enjoying himself immensely.
It was a proper, raving nightclub scene now and Caftan was trapped in the middle of it. Frozen in mid move, held in place by some sort of implacable force that controlled his body. He was the painting… or at least on the outside he knew he would appear as nothing more than canvas and ink. He tried to scream, tried to shout but the best he could do was mumble, he couldn’t move, his body was not his own to control. Forced to stand there, balanced in a pause in the beat Caftan watched as Kalido blew him a kiss and walked off. Then there was nothing to see but a small strip of hallway… the wall opposite… he was a picture… this couldn’t be happening… he couldn’t seriously be… he was a picture…
Whistler watched Kalido walk away from the picture frame. He’d followed from the conservatory, shouting at the crux to stop this. The crux was either ignoring him or couldn’t see him. He’d been silent the whole time he’d been trapping Caftan in the portrait. Standing before his friends prison the otter stared up worriedly then hurried after the crux.
He had to walk through the door into the main hall, it felt weird, a light pressure pushed against his body then the wood flowed through him as he crossed over. On the other side of the door the hall was empty though noise and sound from the dance floor in the next room was promising. It wasn’t, as a ghostly shape Whistler drifted around the few people still partying, shouting at them, pleading with them to pay attention but none of them could hear him. He could see the other trapped souls though, the dragon in the fountain, the three stone figures that made up the minstrel gallery bulstrode.Their souls, their very being was plain as day to him He tried talking to them but they couldn’t hear him, trapped in their own prison on this spiritual world.
Despairing Whistler walked through a wall and found himself in the central courtyard garden. The conservatory he’d been in before was over to the right. It was currently empty, he’d lost sight of the crux entirely. The garden wasn’t empty though, a black and grey wolf was fighting the pumpkin patch and losing. Green vines had ensnared his wrists, his waist and ankles, strange organic looking purple sap was consuming his body. The real horror was the jac-o-lantern on a vine. It was full of bright flame and as Whistler watched he saw it engulf their head. The wolf’s screams were cut off as the pumpkin remoulded itself to fit his head. For a second he went limp, twitching in un-natural ways as whatever dark magic was at play bonded with him. Then… bright purple light poured from the jagged pumpkin muzzle and eyes, accompanied by wisps of fel purple smoke that weaved and wafted itself around their jagged pumpkin teeth. They had leaves for hair, black ears and a body of living purple latex moulded with vines and leaves to give the hint of costume. There was no trace of the wolf in those eyes, in fact there was no trace of the head that the pumpkin had folded around. They were hollow inside, just an empty twisted, malicious evil pumpkin carved and moulded to assemble the wolf that had previously been there. Their expression reminded him of the crux and Whistler trailed after the pumpkin headed creature as they made their way into the house.
Two corridors over and the otter was witness to the pumpkin beast ensnaring a seagull and adding him to the ranks of pumpkin warped monsters. Shivering, so gold and unheard Whistler drifted through a wall into what looked like a library. Three party goers were sat around a table with the ouija board. Harmless fun surely on a Halloween night, but then they couldn’t see the dark spirits waiting to pounce. No doubt they would possess, change, corrupt and play with the group.
All the otter could do was watch, starring helpless at what was about to happen. He was a silent, unseen observer to the dark fates befalling the guests filling the house. Unheard, unseen, he was a ghost of what he had been.
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