The red velvet curtains rolled back, the lights dimmed, and the murmurs of excitement and anticipation in the large dome soon faded. From the darkness, an oboe whispered a slow, melancholic tune. A ballerina glided gracefully to the centre of the stage, her arms flowing along with her satin dress. The ballerina, playing the role of Odette captivated the audience, including — especially Herman Zackermann, a governor who had recently signed in favour of a bill that allowed omnics to live alongside humans in his state.
Was it the way she danced and drifted, like a butterfly fluttering from flower to flower? Was it her beautiful, sculpted face, perfected with those thin kissable lips? Those she did, and these she certainly possessed, but more than that, perhaps because of the blue stage lighting, it was the way her skin was a hue of blue, giving her a most peculiar, if not mysterious, appearance. This peculiarity, if found on another, Zackermann presumed, would have no doubt repelled him, but why instead, on this woman, it was alluring, and, if he was honest, seductive, he could not explain.
The music, now an ensemble of winds and strings, and had been playing slow and enchantingly turned rapid and torrential. An evil magician stood tall over Odette, and had presently shrouded her in his tremendous black cloak. When Odette appeared from within the magician’s cloak once more, her flowing dress was gone, replaced by a white, strapless tutu; her crown of flowers too, replaced by the head of a bird. Alas, the beautiful Odette was struck by a malevolent spell and thus turned into a swan. A beautiful swan she was, but a swan she was! A queen she was, but the queen of swans!
Zackermann watched intensely as Odette swayed in her dance of sorrow, whirling in her dance of wither. She had a sharp chin and a cute, dainty nose, and her eyes were pitiful and cold, an effect of the tragedy befalling her, no doubt,—bravo! what talents she had!—; the curves of her body accentuated by the tight tutu trapping her waist and breasts; her short skirt showed off her sensual thighs, and when it twirled tempted him with glimpses of its secrets underneath.
Then, though he was uncertain if he had imagined it, Odette, in the despair of her plight, looked up for a moment into the audience, and into his eyes for but a moment. His heart pounded rapidly, along with the drum beats of the orchestra. Then she was gone; the scene replaced by a Prince Siegfried celebrating with wines and foods, and dancing in the company of friends and maidens and jesters.
The absence of Odette he could not bear, and found himself unable to indulge in the ballet. He had witnessed a most unusual queen, with that mysterious hue of blue, and cold, pitiful eyes. Those eyes looked at him — not at others, not at another man closer to her, but at him! Soon, the governor reminded himself. Soon she would make her entrance again, and he would lay his eyes on her once more.
The festive music blared joyously with its trumpets and brass and cymbals, paying homage to Prince Siegfried. It was then that governor Zackermann thought he heard a soft bang over the sounds of the orchestra. It had sounded outside the concert hall. A gunshot? He hoped not. No riots, no killings, no arsons, please. Not tonight. Not when the ballet was performing. He had waited years for this troupe to arrive. The arts were never deemed important by the people, and the number of those who did had only dwindled. Worse still was the Omnic Crisis, when the budget for arts was the first to be cut, funnelling it into war instead. It had only regained some attention in recent years when peace was recovering.
A man in a black suit who had been standing near the exit of the hall tilted his head, and held a finger over his ear. Shortly, he walked over to the governor and whispered something in his ears. It had indeed been the sound of a gunshot. The bodyguard urged the governor to leave for his safety, but it was only after the second time did governor Zackermann rose from his seat. When he did it was with a reluctant heart. He kept his eyes on the stage, hoping Odette would appear soon. But this he knew was hopeless, for that was not how the story goes. Odette did not have an entrance here. He would not see Odette again. He sighed a farewell in his heart to his Swan Queen, and brought the programme menu in his hand with him as a memento.
Once out of the concert hall, they were joined by two other men in the same black suits. They flanked, and promptly escorted him towards a white limousine. While on the move, the men in black dutifully surveyed about the streets, ready to intercept any dangerous men who gets too close.
Herman Zackermann, too, turned his head about, but to take another look at the building where the ballet was performing. It was a grand, antique building of Roman both in design and history. Something at the top of the building, on the roof, caught his eyes. Though far, and thus appeared small in figure, there was no mistaking it. It was a person. And not just any person, but one in white, and with the head of a bird! Oh, Odette! His Swan Queen! On the right side of her, close to her chest, was a long and black object. She had cocked her head and lowered an eye to it, as though she was looking through…
He felt something passed through him. Something tiny and quick, yet gentle, tender.
What was it like?
Ah, yes… Like a kiss.
As he laid on the ground, he felt cold. Except for his chest. It was warm. And wet. Several men surrounded and attended to him, but them he did not care. He clutched at the menu in his hand, brought it to his chest with both hands.