I run the brush over my lips, the cold tickling me as my lipstick turns my pale lips a shocking shade of red. I kiss the mirror in front of me for luck, a superstition I do before every show and knock back the sherry in front of me to calm my nerves and steady my hands before pinning my hair back and continuing with my make-up.
A loud crash in the hallway makes me jump involuntarily. The mascara wand jolting into my eye and causing it to fill with water. Grabbing a tissue from my dresser, I hold it to my eye whilst listening to the panicked men who have now gathered in the hallway. Mumbled, unclear speech seeps through the walls and I can only make out a few words; ‘lighting’ ‘stage’ and ‘electrical fault’. Taking another sip of sherry, I count to ten before the knocking at the door begins.
“Come in” I call in my softest voice before the timid stage hand enters
“Sorry Miss Martin” he wavers, his voice barely audible. Good job I’ve heard this all before.
“Call me Virginia, please” I try to calm the poor boy, his looking like he’ll pass out but the prospect of calling me by my first name flusters him even more
“Sorry. V…Virginia. Right. Umm, it’s going to be a little while before you go on. The lighting, well it fell, and we’re working on it but it’s going to take some time.
The rising noise in the grand hall tells me that the crowd are growing impatient, restless in their wait for me. There’s nothing worse than 200 soldiers becoming bored in an enclosed space where alcohol is flowing freely. I spin my chair, years of practice make it flawless, and walk towards the stage hand, swinging the hips that have made me a household name. I won’t make it to the hall, I never do. So I have to get my fun somewhere. Dropping my robe, I smile as his mouth drops, “Well, best not keep them waiting. Maybe one of them will buy me a drink”
Closing the door behind me, I wait for it, the whooshing sound followed by the screams. A loud bang leaves a high pitch ringing in my ears. The screams drowned out only by the growing roar of a fire out of control. The stagehand runs past me and towards the noise, I am now completely alone. This had better work. I know there is nothing I can do but I can’t stop my panic rising as thick black smoke blankets the entrance to the grand hall and plunges the bright corridor into darkness. My throat burns as I inhale the acrid smoke, I get down on all fours, my continuous coughing burning my lungs. I try to think logically, to plan my escape but nothing comes. Confused and light headed, I try to see through the darkness. In front of my, the faint green glow of the fire exit brings a fleeting smile to my face – a chance. I crawl towards the light, my body screaming as my muscles are forced to pull my weight. With my last ounce of strength, I stand and throw my body weight at the door. As expected it’s sealed and with it my fate. Defeated, I fall to the floor and watch the fire rage towards me. It’s over. Flames lick at my skin, combining the sickly sweet smell of burning flesh with the already harmful smoke. I only have time to let out a silent scream before darkness descends.