He vaguely felt guilty at his new conception of Emily. Looking into the huge bottle, ‘she’, ‘it’, ‘they’, sat complacently staring at him with beady eyes. Emily’s beady eyes, over Emily’s shapeless figure. The long whiskers twitched and he sat upright in his chair, suffused with shame and horror that he should have enlikened this obscene creature to his Emily
The mouse spoke to him with Emily’s voice and, like the recording of a theme once held dear, but distorted with constant repetition, he heard the mouse-strosity invite him to take his tea. From his dispassionate standpoint outside of the circumference of a small family circle, his perceptions magnified through the glass of the whisky bottle, he was made aware that the voice calling to him had overtones of the pained forbearance of a mother calling to her errant son. He shrank into the uncomfortable depths of his chair.
For the fraction of an instant the electricity was restored and the room became warmly lighted and normal. For more than that, the image of the bright room remained in his inner vision after the room had once more been thrust into darkness and the juxtaposition of the bottle and the television set were once more correctly orientated in his mind. He lifted the bottle and weighed it in his hands before pouring another drink into his glass. He half expected to see the Emily mouse staring up at him in the firelight, but the bottle had lost its captive rodent, the vacant space now being filled with an emotion compounded of relief turgidly overlaid with drunken disillusionment. He sagged, but was suddenly straightened in his chair by a voice, a voice he knew well, using tones he had never heard before. The Emily mouse glared at him from a gigantic screen, with every mole, every imperfection standing out on its grotesque face like the gnarled and quarried escarpment of a once pleasant and familiar mountain. It screamed and pointed with its craggy and taloned paw, at him accusingly. He looked to the point at which the red-rimmed watery eyes were transfixed and saw that it was the bottle that he still held in his hand, with a gentle waving motion within. He raised it to his now bloodshot eyes for closer inspection, to find that the new captive was the lissome figure of the barmaid, more beautiful, more delicate and completely unattainable. Her satin frock had been transformed into a black diaphanous web, her capable hands had changed to the delicate floating fingers of a Pavlova. As she turned her well-modelled head, from contemplation of the apparition in the screen, to look at his, he saw that her once serene face was contorted with an expression of loathing contempt. He raised the empty bottle to his face, he wanted to talk to her, to plead his case, to convince her that he was not in subjection to this ‘thing’, that his taste was not so distorted, but before he could make an utterance, the pointing, accusing paw went to grab the bottle from his hands, he resisted, and in the melee the neck smashed off against the arm of the chair.
There was a stillness in the room, unbroken but for the sounds of the flickering fire and the dull tap of the blood as it drained down the wrist, across the limp palm and fell from the lifeless fingers to the carpet beside the shattered bottle, The fire still flickered
The convention had not been a frost, it had been a disaster