Lena, light coalesced, brilliant and white and sparkling, moved gracefully down a dark deserted street. The young woman looked like she had been to a club. Her short thin translucent white dress proclaimed a slender lithe athletic body. Long blond hair dazzled like a swirling flare as she pranced across the dirty pavement.
Then Lena heard music. Distant, faint. She stopped to listen. Ragtime jazz. A Scott Joplin rag. Not my style, but hey, it’s music. She began dancing to the light lively piano tune, instinctively embracing the jagged melody. Her pale white face, free of make-up, concentrated on the sound waves passing into her, through her, setting her into frantic vibration, her lightly-shod feet barely grazing the cement. If she had already spent most of the night dancing, she didn’t appear to have lost her enthusiasm for it.
As Lena turned a corner, the Maple Leaf grew much louder. And its source came into view. A small corner bar, with an intriguing neon sign – a human eye flashing open and closed as it floated in a half-filled elaborate German beer mug. She shimmied up to the door, pausing to read the name of the establishment – The Eye In Stein Pub. Weird name, she thought as she walked inside.
Lena smashed into a wall of cold air. The collision took her breath, as she doubled over hugging herself, desperately attempting to rub feeling into her stinging arms. The breath she had just lost billowed into a cloud all around her. Through the haze, she could see thick icicles hanging off everything. The bar, the stools, the tables and chairs, the walls and ceiling and floor, were all coated with a thick layer of ice. And the music now roared!
In the middle of the floor the tables and chairs had been haphazardly shoved aside to clear a small space. Where a mass of naked people was intertwined. Bare arms and legs writhed about bare torsos. No faces could be seen, they were all turned in toward the knot of bodies. She gained control of her chattering teeth to exclaim, “What is this place?”
Lena looked away from the wriggling heap of blue flesh to search the room. No one else was present. No one was even tending bar. Was this an ice bar orgy club? What a weird idea.
Lena turned her attention back to the naked undulating tangle on the floor. Until she started to drift toward them, her feet sliding across the ice on the floor. She grabbed a table to stop herself, but her desperate fingers slid across the ice on the tabletop. In amazement, she saw her dress begin slipping from her shoulders and down over her hips. But she wasn’t about to let go of the table to grab it. It slipped down her legs and gathered around her ankles. As she nearly tripped, she kicked it free.
Then she saw it. The thermostat on the wall. Lena struggled mightily toward it, pulling herself from table to table. Her bra slid down and away, to fly through the air and join her dress in the tangle of frozen flesh. As her panties slid down her legs to her knees, she finally reached the wall. Clutching the thermostat with stiffened jointless fingers, she gave it a mighty twist. Then grabbed her panties and yanked them back up.
The temperature of the room immediately began to rise. No longer drawn toward the flesh pile in the middle of the room, she tugged her panties into place. Slowly, the naked people in the human thicket began separating themselves from each other. Before they became totally untangled, Lena darted up to retrieve her errant clothes, then lunged back away to the bar. She quickly slipped her bra on and stepped into her dress.
The naked men and women raised their heads up to look around, seemingly in a daze. Several of them spied Lena adjusting her dress. One man looked accusingly at her as he separated himself from the pitless mosh. “What did you do that for?!”
Lena found she could speak sensibly, without her teeth battering each other. “Weren’t you freezing?!”
A woman untangled herself and stood. “She doesn’t understand!” She walked over to a pile of clothes in a corner and selected a dress, then straightened to flap it several times, dislodging the ice shards clinging to it. “We wouldn’t have frozen to death! The thermostat was programmed to turn the heat back up!” She stepped into her dress.
By now, everybody else, about a dozen people, were standing and ferreting out their clothes from the pile. The first woman to rise and dress walked to a small shelf stereo and cut the volume of the ragtime down. Lena stared in surprise. “That little thing was blasting that loud music?!”
“You can stop shouting now,” the woman replied as she walked around behind the bar.
A just-dressed man stepped up alongside Lena. “It has those little speakers that put out such a big sound.”
“Bose,” the woman behind the bar stated. “I’ll fix you a drink.”
“What kind of drink?” Lena asked.
“A BEC,” the man beside her said.
“Never heard of it.”
“Maybe by its full name? Bose-Einstein Condensate. Heard of that?”
“It’s cool,” the man commented.
Lena looked it over warily. Then reached for it. Nearly touched it. Then jerked her fingers back. “It’s too cold.”
“Minus two hundred and seventy-three degrees Celsius,” the woman behind the bar told her.
“Nearly absolute zero,” the man beside her stated.
Lena looked all around the room. Everyone was up off the floor and fully dressed. They appeared to be nearly normal. “Is everybody okay?”
“Of course,” the woman behind the bar answered. “Once the temperature comes back up we separate back into individuals. No damage done.”
“It’s just so cool to slow down and become a mindless mass,” the man beside her said, “and intermingle with each other.”
The woman behind the bar smiled seductively at Lena. “Want to join us?” The man standing beside her walked over to the thermostat and turned it back down. The room quickly began to cool.
“No thank you,” Lena answered, backing away from the bar. “I enjoy being an individual.” The others began to encircle her, blocking her access to the exit.
The man who had turned down the thermostat approached her. “Individuality is just an illusion. We are all cosmically connected.”
But the arms reaching out to catch Lena had already begun slowing with the lowering temperature. Lena bobbed and weaved, adeptly eluding them as she ran for the door. Her dress started to slide away, like before, but this time she grabbed hold of it with both hands. Someone cranked the volume back up, and Scott thundered away on his ivories.
Safely at the door, Lena looked back. The clothes of the bar patrons were all slipping from their bodies as they gathered in the middle of the room, reforming their mindless naked blob on the floor. Weird, weird, weird. Lena dashed outside.