Reg & the Dancer

dancer of the disappearingI’ve been working on this idea of an angelic dancer who appears to the survivors of an apocalypse to help bring them together and save the human race. Here is a short snippet from one of my drafts.


Reg took a towel out of his knapsack and wrapped it around his left fist. Turning his face away, he punched into the glass door of Al’s Grocery & Deli on 5th and Main. The tinkling of glass lent a certain harmony to the blaring siren of the store’s alarm.

The smell of rotting fruits, vegetables and meat wafted out to greet him, but he couldn’t smell them because he was wearing a nose plug. He took the towel off and tossed it aside. He picked up a three-foot two-by-four he had found at a nearby construction site and broke off the clinging shards of glass from the sides of the door.

He took a pair of earplugs out of the knapsack, inserted them into his ears and pulled the knapsack up over his shoulder. He entered the darkened store. Using a flashlight he took out of his pocket, he found his way to the canned food isle.

“Oooo! Vienna sausage! I love Vienna sausage,” he sad to no one. He turned the can around, searching for the expiration date. “Another year to go.” He tossed the can in his knapsack. “Maybe I’ll save some for a treat later.” He tossed the entire stock in his knapsack, then continued down the isle, adding pork and beans, chile con came, creamed corn and other canned goods to his supply.

Dim light filtered in from the windows overlooking the shelves of paper towels, charcoal and pet food that lined the front wall.

Next he grabbed a supply of crackers, then juice, then batteries, even a few cans of dog food. Once his foraging was done, he started toward the opening he’d made in the front door. That’s when he heard the music.

He didn’t get his hopes up, though. He’d been fooled by music before.

Once it was a car stereo left by its owner when The Disappearing happened. It was playing the same cassette in an endless loop. The keys were still in the ignition.

Another time, it was simply muzaac coming from a department store. Nothing but manikins to appreciate the unique art form.

No, Reg held no hopes that this music would lead to living, breathing, honest-to-God person, but he had to investigate just the same.

Al’s Grocery & Deli was across the street from a playhouse. The music seemed to be coming from there. Reg crossed the street and opened the door to the theatre. The music got louder.

Why hadn’t he noticed the music earlier? When he was walking down the street or preparing to enter the store?
The hairs on the back of Reg’s neck stood up and a chill ran down his arms. Something was different this time.

He walked across the lobby, feeling the plush burgundy carpet cushion his steps. There was a fait smell of stale popcorn in the air. Quietly — why call out? He hadn’t seen a human soul in months — he went to the entrance on the right and stepped into the amphitheatre.

The room was dark, but the stage was brightly lit. The music blared out of the speakers on the walls, filling the room with sound. He thought he recognized it now — something by Straus, he believed. The Emperor Waltz perhaps?

On the stage danced a young woman — he guessed she was in her twenties — wearing a ball gown, her hair in a bun atop her head. She was waltzing by herself, completely absorbed in the one-two-three, one-two-three rhythm.

Without realizing what he was doing, Reg found himself quietly sitting down to watch the performance. He set his loaded knapsack on the seat next to him and watched the delicate sway of her skirt. Her arms reached out like a ballet dancer, one arm curved as if placed on the shoulder of her invisible partner. Her back was perfectly straight. Her form, magnificent.

Reg was mesmerized. He lost all track of time. When the music stopped, he felt dazed and shook his head. When he looked at the stage, she was gone.

“Hey!” He got up and ran to the stage. “Hey! Don’t go!”

He climbed upon the stage and went backstage to look for her. It was dark — no lights here. He fished in his pocket for the flashlight and realized he had put it in his knapsack when he left the store.

“Damn!” he cursed under his breath, and went back to the seat where he had left the knapsack. Rushing back, he searched the recesses of the theatre and found nothing — not even a CD in the stereo.