The Hour Grew Late, And In The White Room She Danced

Poe was wrong.

Well, not exactly. But he doesn’t give you the rest of the story.

The room had been built for her.

The floor was white marble; the curtains were white silk. The chandeliers were pale crystal and white gold, flecked with diamonds. The furniture was wrought iron, every inch of it painted white; and the stained glass windows… Ah! Those windows! beamed down upon her the purest light you’ve ever seen.

She wore a white dress (but not a bridal dress), and her hair had long ago lost its natural color. And as the clock struck out the midnight hour, she danced. She danced, and the other guests in their colored rooms (gold, green, or brilliant blue) would turn their faces away from her in shame. She was alone.

Only the Prince would dare to look at her. He’d built the white room specially for her. It had been his little joke, but she’d accepted, deathly serious, and she’d reveled in his shame.

Her husband-to-be – the Prince’s brother – was gone, killed on the eve of their wedding. But she’d always have the white room, and in that room, none could touch her.

The clock struck out the midnight hour, and in walked the Man in Red, trailing death behind him.

She heard the pitiful cries of the party guests – What poor taste! they cried, And what arrogance! – but still she danced alone.

She saw him move through the palace, gliding room to room with death in tow, and she heard their cries of agony as they fell before him; gold, green, blue, black, orange, and violet; but still she danced alone.

She watched with obvious delight as the Prince fell to his knees before the red-masked stranger, crying out for mercy, for compassion, for understanding; but the Man in Red knew none of these things; and still she danced alone in the white room.

And after the Prince’s groans had ceased, she became aware that it was just the two of them – the Red Man and her. They were alone in that house of colors, and he was approaching, gliding towards the threshold.

He stepped into the white room, and he stopped. He cocked his red-masked head to one side, as if studying her, and she imagined a pestilent smile crept across his hidden face.

And then, in a voice like murder, he spoke.

“Hey. You’re alright. Wanna go get a coffee or something?”

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Xander Bennett rearranges words for fun and profit. Read a preview of his new book at

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