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Enthralled

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The sound of a saxophone emerged from the small space that connected the backstage to the inside of the jazz bar. A woman was crooning love songs.

Someone was drumming out beats on a tambourine in time with the beat of her heart.

Ava tapped the heel of her pumps against the wooden board of the stage impatiently, and waited for her cue. The singer didn’t have Ava’s kind of thrall—it was just a simple fact, not a maligning of her vocal abilities. A long drawn out note finished the set pieces, and Ava could hear just the slightest misalignment between front woman and the saxophone player. The saxophone had been the dominant instrument, played by the best musician of that band. The incongruous note wavered, lengthened, shook through every of the many bones in her body.

Then, it was over, and Ava’s time had come. She stepped into the limelight like she had been born to, drawing all eyes upon her, her dress glittering like thousand stars under the bright lights. When she opened her mouth, she had the audience enthralled and could keep their eyes and ears on her for hours. Singing, she felt like one of the sirens of old, beautiful women who could lead the sailors to their death with only their voice—and she was that, a beautiful woman.

She sang of secrets, of hidden love.

 

Michael, hired only for his ability to carry the heavy craft barrels, and sit still and look intimidating, kicked back on his chair. From here, he could smell the languid smoke crawling the bar, could hear the low, sultry beats of the accompanying tambourine, and feel seduced by the voice of an angel forming exquisite words. Sometimes, the feeling of desperate desire they evoked in him would break him, but that day had yet to come. For now, he was able to resist the siren call of the beautiful singer.

Surely, her voice had to be supernatural.

Michael sighed, and leaned back. The heavy, warm summer air that breezed through the city settled heavy against his body. Even if the singer was slowly trying to envelop his entire sense of self--and Michael knew not to underestimate strange women with unaccountable powers, there was nothing he could do about it. He needed the money from this job, and the jazz singer currently practicing her craft was one of the better draws for customers. The music vibrated in his ears, sultry tones of hidden meaning slowly enthralling him. There was no need for him to parse the words, since they were only going to be inconsequential tootling.

 

Ava had them all in her thrall, every single one of them. She could make them all follow her like rats the pied piper, but she would only need one, and so she would only take one. She eyed the muscular, big-boned handyman leaning against the counter of the bar.

She beckoned her hand, the music slowly petering out. He followed her, because there was nothing else he could do. He followed her outside of the bar, into the streets and alleyways surrounding.

And when she opened her maw, and sucked in every bone in his body, he didn’t resist, only fell to the ground an empty husk of the man he was. His skin was sallow and fallen in—she licked her lips. His bones were very strong and would last a few decades. She went home very satisfied, and deposited the bones she had been wearing during the last five years in her closet. They looked strangely frail among the dozen other clean, white bones shining on every shelf.