3TC · Fandango's One Word Challenge (FOWC) · fiction · horror · Word of the Day Challenge

Dance for the Devil

dance for the devil

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Fandango’s FOWC is victim, the Word of the Day Challenge is team, and Paula’s 3 Things Challenge words are uranium, moss, dancer

Nancy grew up in Janesville, a town that was comprised of a bar, a church, a hardware store, a mom n pop grocery store, an elementary and middle school (the high schoolers were bused to the county high school in Lodi) – and a dance studio. Both of Nancy’s parents worked and so were able to give her dance lessons. Nancy had a natural athleticism and free spirit, that, when cultivated, blossomed her into a first class dancer. By the time Nancy graduated from high school, she was ready to move to a place that could take her to the next level.

Nancy was accepted into a prestigious fine arts academy in Chicago. Although she did not have any scholarships, her parents had saved enough to pay 50% of tuition for the first two years. Nancy was able to afford a small seasonal rental cottage out near Lake MI by working as a waitress at a fine dining establishment part time and through an agreement with the cottage owner that Nancy would work all summer doing housekeeping for the other cottages there.

Nancy’s classes were M-W-F mornings, a total of 12 hours a week. She was expected to join a troupe (traveling team) at the nearby civic theater and rehearsed for productions three nights a week. The academy had a 24/7 open gymnasium, studio, gym, and pool, which meant Nancy could practice whenever it was convenient for her. Nancy had her life organized and she was living her passion and her dream. Life couldn’t have been better.

The civic theater liked to do avant garde productions. The current one, called Glowing Griffin, was about Keily Griffin, the scientist who was able to discover deposits of uranium by studying moss at night. Nancy had been chosen to play Keily, which had her rehearsing at the theater extra on the weekends.

Harold Jenkins, age 42, had been the operations manager of the civic theater for over 11 years. A small man with a meticulous way about him, he was not well-liked by many of his staff due to his often-demanding nature. As he was not part of the office culture, sometimes Harold would sit at the back of the theater, in the shadows, and watch the performers rehearse. One day he watched Nancy practice and a funny feeling came over him. He’d never seen a dancer as graceful and precise as Nancy. He was mesmerized and began to watch her every time she was there. Not a shy man, Harold determined to speak to Nancy and tell her how much he enjoyed her dancing.

One Sunday afternoon, Nancy was practicing by herself for the very demanding role of Keily, who was expected to leap from moss clump to moss clump, then do back flips and land in the mining cart. She was so focused she didn’t see Harold standing near the curtain watching her. Suddenly she heard a man’s voice say, “You are a marvel of skill, Nancy!” Startled by the stranger lurking in the shadows of the giant velvet curtain, Nancy backed away.

Something clicked in Harold. He saw Nancy’s backing up as a sign of rejection. He moved toward her. As Nancy turned to run, Harold, who once upon a time was a dancer himself, moved with surprising quickness and tackled Nancy. His hands almost instinctively went for her throat. In a matter of heartbeats, Nancy was without one. Harold then meticulously positioned Nancy’s body under where one of the very heavy lights above the stage was about to accidentally fall upon her. What police would see was a most unfortunate victim of stage equipment failure.

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