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(DISCLAIMER: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author's imagination or used in a fictitious manner. It's important to remember this is all totally fabricated, embellished, and exaggerated for entertainment purposes.)

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"We were born sick...you heard them say it."

Take Me To Church - Hozier

Take Me To Church - Hozier

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Paris, France

February 2017

Balmain Womenswear Show. I sat in the front row, surrounded by hundreds of susurrant strangers. The gentleman beside me kept coughing into a callused palm before shaking hands with a number of other guests. The unwitting, is what I called them,  many of whom went on to shake other clueless hands. It was no longer a mystery how contagions were spread.

Photographers from different publications dropped every so often to snag a few pics. I mustered a cheeky grin or two, but mostly sat looking as awkward as I felt. Sometimes the flashes caught me off guard and resulted in great sensory disturbance. Shimmering blotches filling my line of vision whenever I looked ahead. I grew tired of smiling. The effort was mechanical and I had become a dead-eyed marionette. I stopped grinning to avoid looking like a creep, but probably just gave everyone the impression I was pissed all of a sudden. The photographers filtered away and stopped coming after a while, which was a win for me.

 The photographers filtered away and stopped coming after a while, which was a win for me

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It was dark here. The models passed beneath a mirrored archway like something out of a futuristic funhouse. As they advanced, each body multiplied into a legion of marching clones in the crystal surfaces, then vanished in a split second. Eerie ambient music accompanied them, stirring the room like an omen; as though our souls were in jeopardy of being siphoned off by Ammit.

A dim runway divided the room; its reflective surfaces creating the illusion of black ice. Theatric lights were everywhere, shooting towards the ceiling in great blinking towers. As the models passed, I gaped. The looks were ferocious. The designer had leapt far beyond sexy and well past female empowerment to foster a primitive nightmare. Full of cold, leathery blacks and earthy tones like amber and muddy greens. Indigenous prints. Animal faces. Exquisite beadwork and tassels. Fearsome makeup fit for Amazonian goddesses. No, warriors.

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