A large green saucer swam sickly in a grey-white sea before Jackie’s half open, just opened, eyes. “God, I must have slept, but for how long?”, she asked herself, surveying the room around her in the faint pre-dawn light, or was it twilight? And where was that dishy guy she last remembered hanging on to as she fumbled around the floor? Did she ask his name? Did she care? And where the hell was she now?

Raising her head a little, the saucer yawed, lights flashed and stabbing pains knifed into the back of her eyes. She lay back and desperately tried to focus. Not a saucer, but a large light fitting. Slowly, she concluded the sea was the ceiling, though waves washed across it from time to time, as did the nausia rising and falling in her throat. “To hell with it, I’m sleeping again”, she told herself, sinking yet again into a soft, enveloping oblivion.

“Hey, lovely lady, wake up, you cannot sleep yet”. The voice was insistent, soft but persuasive. Eyes slowly opened to see a remarkably handsome face, not a foot in front of her own. She was aware of fingers gently entwined with hers, pulling ever so caringly but, again, insistently.

“Is anyone else still here; are they still dancing? I hear music but don’t know the band; that fiddle’s weird. Are they still wearing their Halloween costumes? I seem to have lost mine. I think somebody spiked my drink”. She looked down at the long, plain white shift which covered her whole body, right down to her toes. “Who put this on me?”

“Oh, my lovely, don’t worry about any of that now. We must dance, you and I. The others expect it, insist on it”.

The pull on her hand was irresistible and already the nausea was subsiding, replaced by a dreamy self-content reminiscent of the times she had had a drag or two on a joint. No, it was more than that, the shapes around her melting, coalescing into other fluid shapes, faces shrinking from fat and self-satisfied to gaunt and terrified. No, this wasn’t hash; someone had spiked her drink with acid, LSD, she was sure. Or were those pills she popped not the legal highs she was told?

“I don’t recognise anyone from the party”, she thought, letting her gaze slide from one face to another in the cavorting melee. “Wait a bit, surely that’s Paul McCartney. Who’d have thought he would be at the party; I didn’t know Jess knew him, let alone well enough to invite him here. Anyway, Ringo Starr says he’s dead”.

“That guy is a dead ringer for Michael Jackson, and surely that’s Amy Winehouse over there? What the hell is going on? Oh my God! She looks just like Princess Diana”.

As Jackie’s gaze slid from one face to another, skin began to slide and flesh ran down exposed cheek bones like wax on a well-consumed lit candle. Clothes similarly dissolved to expose ribs, pelvic bones and frantically-dancing femurs, tibias and fibulas.

She turned her eyes to her dancing companion, now similarly devoid of flesh on a stark skull grinning devilishly, without lips. It leered at her, breath carrying a putrid, decaying odour. It shreiked with terrifying, maniacal delight, drowning the strange, agitated, mis-tuned fiddle leading frantic music she did not recognise.

“You are very late. Your Halloween party is long over”, it hissed in a doom-ridden voice. “Two days we have been waiting, with you there alone. Now it’s the second of November and we can wait no longer; it’s now the Day of the Dead, and, come, you must dance …

… the danse macabre”.

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