The stable was full, so they had to stay in the inn. I was the innkeeper. Because of the current economic conditions, there had been fewer and fewer guests who could afford the bedrooms - so they made do with the stable stalls, covering themselves in straw for the sake of warmth. So, when some dogs and horses and geese and so forth arrived, they automatically trooped into the empty inn - a long line of them and I hadn't yet seen whoever was herding them along from behind so as to ask him or her for wherewithal. It was only after they took off their costumes that I realised they were human beings like me and they told me they would have preferred staying in the stable, but they would make do with the bedrooms. As they were all now in human shape, I could not tell which one of them had been herding them or simply in charge. The costumes had been piled up in the inn's foyer area and I noticed that the various skins and furs had no openings so as to get in or out of them. No ties to join edge with edge. Not even any air-holes to breathe through or grilles to look through. The eyeballs were opaque. The mouths were closed lip to lip without joins. I decided to stay in the stable myself: I knew its geography better than anyone, being its owner. You see, I didn't want to rub shoulders with any creatures that could climb in and out of such impossible costumes. In the stable, I snuggled close to one of the lambs - as body warmth was the only safeguard against the icy night. A large dog, in turn, snuggled up to me. A cow up to him - until the whole stable was an endlessness of such items of body warmth, with me the only human representative. Someone must have been dreaming us with no ties, no joins, not even any dreams of our own, except a single dream merging several dreams that none of us dreamed:
Within the inn itself, only the costumes breathed. Those in the bedrooms spent their own last breaths in one single snore of sound that shook the ground - winding into and out of each other, doorway by doorway, along all the shining corridors, twisting and twirling into a snake yearning to swallow itself. Or tying itself into several knots. Eventually, there was silence. Just a star above the stable, almost as big as the moon. Indeed, it may have been the moon itself like a yellow swollen balloon. And God pulled it back into His darkness, using the only tie that existed.
Written as the speed writing exercise last night at the Clacton Writers' Group.