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Year: 2016
You’re invited to the event of the year: Animalia. Amy Benson, a college student, is the main attraction. Only she doesn’t know it yet.
Moe Lester
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Amy Benson.

You’re cordially invited to a thrilling new exhibition called:


The Bodil Joensen Room

Saturday, ninth of July.

Ten PM

“How strange?” Amy said as she read the invitation she had found in her mail today.

The invitation isn’t a flyer, it’s on a high-quality card with a gold filigree around the edge.  The address on the back is embossed in gold also.  Amy feels puzzles, as she’s never heard of this ‘Bodil Joensen Room’, yet there’s a chance this is one of her friends June Hoskins’s art projects.  Amy rarely paid full attention when talking with June, so it’s possible she had nodded, and said, “It’ll be lovely,” without really paying attention to what was asked.

It’s not the first time this has happened; she’s pretty sure June counts on her lack of concentration.  If Amy goes to an event, it tends to attract her friends and ‘wannabe friends’ to go to.  As the most popular young woman in the sophomore class of her college Amy’s invites to things all the time, which she doesn’t mind, however, anything June organizes tends to be boring. She sighs. Amy doesn’t have anything else to do this Saturday, for a change, and it might not be June whom has sent the invite.  The only way to learn, she supposes, is to go and see who’s there.

The venue is in the Bohemian part of town, where there’s many old warehouse-type buildings.  The place has always been the mecca for the city’s arts scene, with space to show struggling artists’ works.  It took her a while to find the building right after the taxi drops her off, as it’s only marked with a small metal plaque bearing the words: ‘Bodil Joensen’.  Inside Amy finds herself in an entry hall with a formally dressed maître d’ whom wore a latex, horse head mask.

“This is an ‘invitation only’, ma’am,” the man’s muffled voice said from inside the mask.

Amy giggles at the absurdity of seeing a horse in a tuxedo, she reaches into her purse and retrieves her gold-embosses invitation and hands it to the man.  He looks at the invitation silently, then at her, and bows slightly.

“Welcome to ‘Animalia’, Ms. Benson.  Here’s your program, I hope you enjoy your evening.”

He hands her a leather bound program she takes, and thinks: Leather, whoever organized this event has a big budget.  I hope the night lives up to all this.  The maître d’ drops her invitation onto a pile of similar-looking cards in a glass bowl, and Amy notices that while the rest are the same, only she has the added gold embossed lettering and filigree.  That’s weird, she thinks and frowns, and she goes to ask about it, however, other guests arrive taking the maître d’s attention away from her.  So she shrugs and enters the only open door in the hallway, putting it out of her mind.

Inside the room, she feels glad she ‘dressed’ for the occasion.  She had her hair up, a black dress with a slit up her left leg, and an oval cutout on the front showing some cleavage.  Around fifty people mingled in the place chatting at a low murmur, carrying glasses of champagne in their hands.  The men wore tuxedos, the women expensive evening gowns, and all wore animal masks of some sort.  Latex animal masks were common, and some wore theatrical masks lined with feathers and costume jewelry.

I didn’t see anything on my invitation about wearing an animal mask, she thought, feeling her stomach churn suddenly.

Seeing anyone she recognized among the glamorous guests made impossible by these strange masks.  She spots a table with the champagne, and makes a beeline for it, staring at her fellow guests as she weaves her way through them with a deep frown.  None of other guests acknowledge her, though, and ignore her.  So she grabs a glass, and turns her attention to the exhibits.

I’ll drink this champagne, pretend I’m interested, and get outta here as fast as I can, she thought.

After reading the program and looking around, Amy soon concludes this event is weirder than she first thought.  There’s statues of half-man/half-beast figures like werewolves, mermaids, and other stranger things.  The walls are adorned with medieval-style paintings of women getting raped by bestial demons, lurid and explicit in detail.   She looks at these paintings with a slack mouth, wide-eyed dumbstruck expression.

Muttering occasionally, “No!  Are you kidding?  What the hell?”

Dotted around the gallery are statues of animal genitalia in various states of arousal that guests touch and stroke with amused whispers.

She finds herself drawn to the far end of the room to a small stage with something on it.  The stage isn’t mentioned in the program, and she goes to look at it so she can get away from the lurid depictions of bestiality around her.  The stage has a black curtain hanging at the back, and a rail round the outer edge.  On the stage is a small wheeled bench, a trolley, and the bench is curved and shaped with straps and manacles.  One end of the bench is higher.

What the fuck is this, she wondered sipping her champagne.  Who’d put me on the invitation list for a freaky event like this?  I’m gonna kill June when I see her.  Suddenly she feels a cold, stinging sensation on her bare arm and she drops her glass onto the floor.  Whipping round, a man wearing a latex dog mask and grasping a glass full of ice and scotch stands close to her.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you,” he said, his voice muffled by the mask.

I’ve gotta get outta here, these people are freaks of some sort, she thought.


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