Jan. 16th, 2012 04:09 pm
bardiphouka: (books)
Written for [ profile] brigits_flame All Stars
Prompt: Transcendent
Genre: Dark Fantasy

Hidden from normal view, perhaps in your city, or the one next to it, there is a shop. The windows are frosted over or curtained, depending on where you are. And the door has a simple, but elegant legend on it.

Transcendent Beauty
D.Gray, Proprietor.

If you are literate, which many of his customers are, you may catch the story at once. The Man whose reality was kept in a painting, while he walked the world beautiful and ageless. Your heart jumps a beat and your smile is just a bit sly as you try the door.

Sometimes the shop is closed, but for you it opens easily, quietly. You can almost feel a slight vacuum of air. It is as though the shop were hungry for you to enter.

The room is empty of life at the moment. The walls are lined with photos of men and women who are...yes the shop's name is correct. Their beauty, down to the last detail, is transcendent. The men with chiseled abs and smiles that are so bright they could light a small town. The women with figures so svelte there should be “Warning, dangerous curves ahead” posted wherever they go. A part of you feel like you are tottering at the edge of arousal. But mostly what you feel is a hunger to join this gallery.

There is a full length mirror. You look into it. Usually you stop at every reflection to admire yourself. But this time you examine yourself just as someone would use their tongue to prod at a loose tooth. All the dieting, the workout regimens, the plastic surgery, suddenly they just make you feel drab as you stand in the room of Beauty. You look from your image to the photographs on the wall and almost leave. For the first time since those teen years with the nights alternating between bathrooms and desperate sex, you feel inadequate.

You turn and realise the presence of someone else in the room. This has to be Mr Grey, you think to yourself. Everything about him is perfect. The very air around him grows hungry as he glides his perfection across the room toward you. You almost apologise for intruding and then he smiles at you.

It is a smile of welcome, a smile you have seen in Country Clubs and Cotillions. It is a smile that acknowledges that you are among the elite beauties and makes you relax.

There is something about his eyes in that sculpture-like face. They twinkle with a sort of conspiracy. He knows how hard you have worked to achieve beauty and appreciates it. And now it is time to take one more step. Your cunning returns to you. You remember the story and extend your hand as you introduce yourself. And you mention that his name seems strangely familiar.

He tilts his head and neither confirms nor denies it, but there is a quirky sort of smile that, once again, makes you feel like you are part of some sort of conspiracy of Beauties. He takes your hand, with its almost perfect manicure, and leads you through a door.

The room is dark until you hear the soft sibilance of a light switch and then it becomes flooded with light. You look around but you do not see the lights. It is as though you were floating in a pool of luminescence but still be able to breath.

There is a green backdrop and an unusual but expensive looking camera on an intricate mounting assembly. There are wires leading from the tripod and camera to an opening in an expensive looking, mahogany roll-top desk. Out of range of the lens there is a coat tree and a table. He tells you to take your clothes off. For the first time in years you feel almost bashful as you do, but there is nothing lecherous about his smile as he waits. How many years has it been, you wonder. How many years since you knew love or fear, anything but the anxiety of losing what you had thought, until today, was beauty.

As you stand there nude, no... naked, he walks behind the desk. He pushes a button and the top rolls back. You can hear the soft purr of a computer booting. As the soft light of what appear to be several monitors is added to the room, you wish that you had not given up smoking.

Gray begins to guide the camera and the racks by using the computer. All you have to do is stand still and let the camera click over, and over. It is almost like being at a cocktail party. You could imagine the clicks as the clink of ice in the glasses being held by ambitious men and envious women. After a time there is silence and it almost feels like the camera has not stopped but rather has come to rest.

Once again Gray looks up with his inviting but distant eyes and his conspiratorial smile and tells you that you are free to get dressed. While you do you can see by the way his shoulders move that his fingers are flying over the keyboard, each set of strokes a sort of incantation in whatever spell he is weaving.

You notice for the first time that there is a chair slid halfway under the table. You slide it out and sit. The only sounds in the room are his fingers on the keys and the occasional whirring of a hard drive.

He stops and leans back, pressing a series of buttons on the desktop. You had not realised that the wall behind him is actually a series of LCD monitors, state of the art and crystal sharp. And each of them shows you. But this is the you that you thought you were. You can see now how far from perfect you really were. You have to remember to draw a breath as your eyes drown in one monitor and then another.

You have to have this transcendent you that smiles down from the wall, and it is then, and only then, when he knows that you would do anything, agree to anything in order to achieve this perfection. He brings out a contract that explains everything. You pull your chair next to the desk and take the papers. It is hard to read them because your eyes keep getting pulled to the monitors imbedded in the wall, but Gray, kind man that he is, is insistent that you read everything before signing the contract. You finish, and look up at him with confusion. This is not exactly what you expected.

He looks at you with understanding. Gray explains that in order for a display in a magazine to have total domination over the person reading, that a little bit of the model's soul has to be in the photos. And this is what you will agree to. Just one set of photos in one magazine is all you have to give. And when the last of the magazines are discarded or forgotten, than you will once again be flesh and blood, but with (and here he waves a hand behind him at the wall and says no more). You grab the pen he offers and sign.

There is a soft sound as a printer starts up somewhere and you feel yourself begin to grow somewhat substantial. But you are still there enough that you can appreciate looking at the first magazine that you appear in when he brings it to you.

You look down from the wall, one among the many photos on display. A woman comes in. You can practically smell the surgery that she must be fresh from. Or you could if you could smell. She does not see the desperation in the eyes of your photograph. She does not know about the last room in the suite, the one that is fireproof, even bomb proof, and which holds the magazines that each of you have been in. Magazines that will never be destroyed.


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