The Master's LunchMature

"If I refuse to dance again," said Elena, testing how far she could push things, "What would you do to me?" She had woken late, exhausted by her frenzy, and was now eating lunch with the master of the house, who had asked to see her. She still, however,  had not found out his name.

"Why, did you not enjoy it? You were so beautiful there on the stage." He grinned at her, disconcertingly normal, and she found herself lost for words. "Everybody thought you danced very well. Of course, if you had had music..." How did he know what she had been thinking? Elena stared at him.

"The music is lost," she said quietly. She had been told it so many times that the thought no longer made her cry, but saying it aloud made it feel slightly like she was admitting defeat. "They say it's just a story."

The mast leaned forward and stared at her, the luxurious fruits on the table between them going unnoticed. They had barely touched the food, there was plenty of it. "What would you do," he asked her, "if I told you that my scientists are currently rebuilding an old music player from fragments? We already have the discs, of course." Yes, she had seen photos of them in books, shiny, beautiful things. But it had long been rumoured that they were fake, designed by members of the resistance to stir up dissatisfaction.

"I would ask you to stop lying to me," Elena told him evenly. "Though you do not look to me like a liar." Carefully and deliberately, she picked up a grape and bit through the skin, savouring the flavour. It made a change from her usual fare of bread and the occasional carrot.

"I assure you, it is true. Perhaps when they have finished I will play it, and you will dance for me."

"That is as may be, but you have not answered my question." Elena stared at him, her eyes wide and strangely bright.

"I would be most disappointed should you refuse to dance again," the master said after a moment's deliberation. "And so, I think, would your friends in the resistance. They are still hoping to get you out of here alive, when the right time comes..."

At that moment she knew she was trapped. Each night she would dance for these horrible men; each night she would leap across the stage to escape their grasping hands; each night she would sleep, as she did now, in a tight, tense ball to stop them taking advantage of her vulnerability; each night she would dream of falling...

"I see," she said. "I am stuck here, am I right?" Looking at the man that called himself her master, she saw everything that she had always hated about the people that tried to control her. But this man was far worse - why did she feel that had she the opportunity to destroy him, she could not do it? He seemed so innocent, yet she knew he was a monster.

"I will not let you go easily." Mimicking her earlier gesture, he took a grape, eating it with obvious pleasure. The sight took her appetite away entirely and she pushed her plate towards the middle of the table. She would eat no more.

"So long as I dance, you will not let them hurt me. But if I do not dance, I shall be entirely at their mercy." Even as she spoke, Elena could imagine their hands on her, and knew that whatever happened she could not let that happen. And then what? They would not stop, not while she still breathed.

"You are correct. Elena, if you wish to live..."

He did not need to say more.

The End

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