Stephen hadn’t lost consciousness for more than a second when he awoke with a bloody mouth full of jagged front teeth. Imbedded in the wall before him were his broken tooth fragments. His legs had become like rubber and he surely would have succumb to gravity had the onyx-colored women not been there to catch him.
“No, mor’! Pleese!” Stephen begged through his smashed grill. It was then he felt his face planted firmly against the wall, his cheek spiked by his own teeth. “Pleese,” he begged. She had one hand palming the crown of his head. The other slid from the base of his skull down the length of his spine and into the back of his pants. “Pleese,” he continued, “Pleese,” like a mantra, a prayer to his black goddess, whose name he did not know. He felt her hand feeling around at the top of his crack and terror filled him of the impending penetrative violation he would soon suffer. And then it happened! He felt her make a fist! Clinched within was his tailbone. She tightened her grip, slowly breaking through skin and tearing muscle. In seconds, she crushed it in her palm. The anguish he felt was remarkable. Momentarily, sound could not escape his lips, as much as he tried. His brain lost contact with his legs, and, once again, they became rubber, and gravity brought him to the floor, where he would be forced to do the remainder of his begging.
At first silence and then gasps and, finally… “Pleese,” he gasped. “Whatever they’re paying you–”
“I thought my reputation preceded me, Stephen” the onyx woman interrupted, standing over Stephen. “Don’t insult me with your petty offers.”
“No! Anything you want! I can get–”
“I want what I paid for.”
“Wha–What do you mean–I don’t know what–”
“I’m sorry. We’ve not been formally introduced. I am your sinfully wealthy benefactor. The name attached to the reputation is Mir Calla, Carmilla Mir Calla.”
A bell that could not be unrung, and her name rang clearly in Stephen’s memory: tales of a woman, a creature who fed on blood of evil men. Stephen’s heart sank at the utterance that name. The pain that preoccupied him faded from his consciousness, uprooted and replaced with desolation–not so much a godless place, but a state of being in which God was very much real and hated his children.
“The weapon, Stephen. I paid you to deliver a doomsday device to me. How long will you keep me waiting?”
“There was none! It was just a rumor!”
“Just a rumor?”
“You seem certain.”
“All we found was the kid. Pleese–I’ll get you your money if you let me live!”
“The confidence of a mediocre white man never ceases to amaze. How is it that you think you’re in any position to bargain–don’t answer that. I don’t want the money, I want what I paid for and your treachery is an insult to my intelligence. I won’t stand for your insults, Stephen. No more lies. Give me the doomsday device.”
“I swear… I don’t have it.”
Carmilla squatted in front of him, low enough to make eye contact, and said “that your final answer?”
Stephen nodded affirmatively.
“Alright.“ She stood and walked toward the vault door.
“Pleese let me go,” he whispered.
“Now, Stephen, I ain’t a catch and release kinda woman. Don’t seem natural to me, and I’m a natural kinda woman. If you know who I am–and I know you do–you know what happens to men like you who cross paths with Carmilla.”
He only knew of rumors, terrible rumors.
“Please– I’ll do whatever–”
“No more begging, now. It’s so unbecoming.”
Carmilla opened the vault door and to two young women entered.
“Stephen, meet Harriet and Lethe. Harriet, Lethe, that there pile of broken man meat is Stephen. He’s a trafficker.”
Harriet reminded me of a soldier. Her choice of dress was tactical. She may not have been looking for a fight, but she looked prepared for one. Lethe, on the other hand, was a gorgeous femme and dressed to show it. Why she came to this dank, dreary place in her club gear, I don’t know. The three of them were an odd bunch.
Carmilla rifled through Stephen’s record collection and found a copy of Etta James’ ‘At Last’. She put it on, played ‘Trust In Me.’ It was one of Stephen’s favorites but it brought him no joy under the circumstances. It’s been one been one of my favorite songs since.
“You don’t have to do this,” Stephen said to Carmilla.
“I’m not doing a fucking thing, Stephen. Just enjoy the music.”
“Please–” was all Stephen could manage before Lethe snatched him by his feet and mounted him. The screams came immediately as she ripped open his flesh with her bare hands. She took her time, pursuing his evisceration one muscle group at a time like a biology student dissecting a lower lifeform. She kept a straight face throughout the procedure. She must have done this before.
Faintly, beneath all the orchestration, I could hear…
“Do you think he knew she was the weapon,” Harriet said to Carmilla.
“Men have no imagination,” Carmilla replied, “they get their hands on the single most powerful being on the planet and he all they can conjure is profiting from letting people fuck it.”
“So, why the song and dance?“
“I wanted him to feel powerless for once in his life.”
“Okay. So, the kid’s a weapon. What are we doing with her?”
“I’m gonna use her to get someone’s attention.”
“Jesus, Carmilla. How is that different from what this motherfucker was doing?”
Stephen was alive and not well. Lethe had broken through his ribcage and exposed internal organs.
“We’re gonna end up like him if we’re not careful, Carmilla.”
“For fucksake, Harriet, we’re immortals. Act accordingly.”
“I’m just saying–”
“What’s the worst that could happen?”
At this point–presumably from all the blood loss–Stephen began fading from the world, thus, my window to these events became obscured until I would regain my own consciousness.