[warning: this book contains scenes of a physical sexual nature that may be considered objectional by some. It is inappropriate for readers under 21 years of age.]
Her move breaks the stillness. She stretches her supple spine across the sumptuous, Tiepolo-blue Aubusson rug before the fire. The heat radiates inwards. It warms her to the bone. It radiates out again, twice as powerful, roasting her white back copper-pink. She stops moving. It is totally silent again. Nothing moves. The very flames are still and soundless. All movement has been arrested. We could stay here for years and no one would know. No food. No drink. Nothing but this woman to look at.
‘May I read to you?’ she asks. Her voice glows like the coals. It is gorgeous, but she has broken something, again. I thought only men could be that stupid.
Come and let us drink,’ she offers. ‘We can get drunk together; we can relax.’ She holds out a bottle of the Widow’s champagne. I adore it. She is suffocating. I would give anything not to deal with her cloying embrace. I will drown in her saturated love. I do not want this.
I must shed blood.
–You could whip her.
–Yes. She gives so freely, surely she wouldn’t mind if I whipped her without asking. I could simply have her bound and launch in, flay her perfect back, skin those sweet buttocks.
–She wouldn’t mind, so what’s the point?
I leave the room and retire alone to my chamber, where I drink a dozen bottles of wine before dreaming of revenge and revolution.
The opening image is a figure falling from a wall. I do not know who it is. It drops elegantly, flipping over slowly, navigating its unhurried way through the space as though avoiding invisible obstacles. It hangs in the air, leisurely descending. It is the wall behind it that is in a hurry, rushing up towards the sky. The figure continues its languid pace until just before it hits the ground. Then it is swamped by a howling sea of slashing axes, swords and sabers, tearing arms and muscles as men are ripped asunder. The figure vanishes in a swarm of screams and steel. Blood and sweat bathe the faces of attacking, dying men that know no fear because they are driven by a mutinous fear from within. The swords are re-sharpened and launched again. No one is spared. No one is spared. Nor the brave, nor the beautiful, nor the weak. Bodies are cut into fragments and the devil take the last. I wander in a daze, a screaming sea of death swirling around me.
Thus my evening ends.
The next day begins with my menstruation.
It comes on like a storm, irregular, sudden. Sudden, yet with portent and presentiment. It has been absent for a year. I never know when it will come. Each period is different. One wrenches my gut and gives me diarrhoea to announce its arrival, the next silently seeps into the world whilst I rest. The smell is the same, but the volume of blood is different. The meaning is different. They are as different as children.
I stagger upwards from some shallow depths of rest as my belly howls at me. Cramps cut into me like swords. The vomit rips forth from my throat, over my tongue, my teeth, out over the edge of the bed and onto the rug.
My stomach is clear now. I feel better. I sit up and know my menorrhagia is coming. Not even any introductory spots this time. I am happy to bleed onto the bed. Here it is, red-black trickles between these pink lips. Drops disgrace the purity of the sheets, insult their immaculate order, stain their memory permanently. All cheer the virgins’ wedding night sheets! And now it is coming, shoving out from my womb like a blood laden turd from heaven.
It is dramatic all over my finger.
This is royal blood. Ordained by God.
Slowly wipe my finger with a sheet. No. I can do better. I begin to draw. Touch the lumps and smear the war paint across my thighs, drag it onto the bed. Now my finger dips between my lips and slips out, saturated. The sheet becomes my canvas and an image emerges.
Is it an angel? No. Curling hair. A man? A god? No. The hair becomes longer. Curls and drapes over a neck. A mane. And now the eye. The all seeing eye of a horse. It is a good horse. Rearing now. Challenging. A cross between Pegasus and Marengo. Ready for battle. Ready to race. It grows rapidly across the bed. It is furious. It is fabulous. It is the painting of the face of my fear.
The door opens. The maid enters with a tray. Concern is instantly on her face. ‘Oh! Your Highness! Oh, you are unwell?’
I have a sudden vision of myself, smeared with blood, my blood, and the sheets painted with a huge horse and have a sudden desire to laugh. It is too tragic. Too comic. Too perverse. Too operatic. Too completely inappropriate to paint with blood from your cunt. To play with blood from your cunt.
I laugh, and the laugh catches in my throat and becomes a screech. I accept that, and play with it. Suddenly I am screeching at the top of my lungs, perversely shrieking, laughing as though possessed. The maid drops the tray with a crash, glasses and plates smashing on the polished boards, and runs horror struck from the room.
I needed to shed blood.
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