The Imperial Hotel

The Magician fixed Walter with a gaze that was both intimidating and uncanny. The large room had filled up since Walter’s arrival and was full of young men and women. A pianist played and one or two couples moved onto the floor dancing.
How could he have zeroed in on his contact without even a glance at anyone else? Walter had taken his eye off the man for a second and now couldn’t see him… The music seemed to speed up and couples swirled like dervishes, throwing back their heads in great gusts of laughter. A violinist dressed in 18th century wig and frockcoat played with demonic speed. Champagne bottles popped like artillery shells as toffs in tops hats and spats quaffed together and became like Goebbels’ propaganda cartoons of capitalist swine, their fleshy faces morphing into piggy snouts, grunting and snuffling. A beautiful young woman had appeared on top of the grand piano and danced an obscene but enthralling striptease. Walter suspected he’d been drugged. Since the appearance then disappearance of the magician he was struggling to cope with an hallucinogenic assault on his senses. He tore his eyes from the lithe young woman who was now writhing on the piano, a satyr advancing on her with purpose. He put his head in his hands and rubbed his eyes, trying to regain some anchor to reality but when he lifted his head the scene had become even more bizarre. He looked with horror as a creature in a black SS uniform with the head of an owl gobbled down a tiny little man with only the hooked nose of a caricature Jew yet to be devoured. Men and women in wigs and white lead powder make up obscured themselves behind sinister masks and swayed in unison. The music was now frenzied and did not sound like anything Walter had ever heard. “All you need is love, love, love is all you need” sang a man with Jesus hair and Himmler glasses.
Little grey humanoids with overlarge heads and black insect eyes gabbled and pointed and laughed as a fight broke out between a seven foot tall ogre in a leopard skin robe and a black woman almost as tall and wearing only a raw leather holster. She slipped out the revolver like a quick draw artist, pressed the gun against the giants forehead and pulled the trigger; a banner fell from the barrel “BANG!” it said. The huge man fell to the floor before dissolving into a sticky black substance to which the nearest spectators ran and scooped it up with knives and dinner plates… there was more but Walter was lost, and had no language left to describe what he was seeing. He must have blacked out. He awoke as if he’d been having a terrible nightmare, expecting to find himself in his bed at the guest house. He was, however, still dressed in the clothes he’d worn to ‘The Imperial Hotel’ and laid out on a chaise-lounge.
“Guten Morgen Standardfuhrer Kluge” Walter turned to see the man who had blown his cover, he guessed either Gestapo or British MI6 with guns. He found himself looking at an old grey haired man, dressed in Harris tweed. It was the magician…

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