Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Jayne & the Satanists --Chapter 4

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We elbowed through an opulent hallway that bespoke nothing of Satanic debauchery. However, at one door, a valet ushered us down a long flight of stairs. Noise of conversation over shrill pan pipes blasted at us as a dark wooden door swung open.

Jayne’s shoulders-back, chest-out entrance staunched the gab volume, immediately. The room was lit by torches stanchioned in thick pillars that divided the room into three lengths. At the far end was a chest-high altar flanked by sweeping black wings that rose twelve feet toward the vaulted ceiling. Tables were set out with darkish glazed meats, exotic fruits, plus a roasted boar. There was a crowded bar to one side. A server with a shaved skull and a goatee brought a tray of red wine in silver chalices. Jayne grabbed two, drained the first and set it back on the tray.

There were about sixty people there. Two thirds were dressed conservatively. The other third seemed denizens of Hell come to life. A couple of male bon vivants were nude, to no one’s particular interest. A group of women were topless with varying degrees of endowment, although they all wore similar masks with spiky partridge plumes. A couple of indeterminate gender wore complete monk’s habits, their cassocks pulled over their faces. Other women wore lingerie: garter belts, corsets, white, red and black. One regal beauty wore a peignoir; another wore a body stocking. One woman held a leash attached to a dog collar around a man’s neck. Jayne still stood out from the crowd by virtue of her cantilevered superstructure.

The crowd parted and a figure wearing a black, red and gold, Oriental-style mask drifted toward us, its feet hidden in the folds of a black silk robe. A hand with rings on every finger slithered out of a bell sleeve and from the mask came a resonant voice. “Ah, my special guest, welcome to our humble lair. My name is Szandor. I am glad you decided to join us this evening.”

Jayne raised her chin and stared down her nose at Scream from her vantage point atop the stilettos. She did not smile. “Thank you for inviting us. This is my companion. Since anonymity is encouraged, you can call him Vic.”

“And what shall I call you?” he asked, barely glancing at me. “To protect your anonymity.”

“Everybody in this room knows who I am,” she said. “Call me Jayne Mansfield.”

Conversation with an expressionless visage was daunting, as undoubtedly was the design, and the pregnant pauses tended to wear on one. But, even one who was trying to give an impression of superiority, noticeably rocked on his heels when Jayne held out her chalice and asked, “Who do you have to fuck around here to get another drink?” It was one of her favorite lines, guaranteed to shock. I would have loved to have seen under that mask at that moment.

Scream snapped his fingers and a valet appeared. “Miss Mansfield, for those who wish to truly explore other perceptions of reality, may I suggest some of our mushroom tea and he held out a shot glass of what looked like whisky.

As he was preparing to elucidate, Jayne grabbed it and tossed it back. She made a face. “It tastes like mold,” she said and grabbed another wine from the tray.

“And now your companion,” he said, acknowledging me fully for the first time. I waved it off, but Scream said, “No, you must,” and it was obvious, no deviation would be permitted. So, I knocked back a shot myself. I’d heard something about Indians using mushrooms in their ceremonies and how they experienced visions, but I figured I’d drank a quart of Jamaican overproof rum once and could handle any wallop from some dinky cup of tea.

As I grabbed for a cup of wine to mask the taste, a bell rang deeply and the gathered moved toward the altar. Scream bowed and drifted through the crowd. Another priest in a blank white, ceramic, full-face mask ran a metal rod through an assortment of hanging chimes, while other masked figures flanked the altar and began beating on tablas, clanking finger cymbals and chanting. The onlookers began swaying from side to side and joining in the chants. I snuggled up behind Jayne and gave her rear a caress, for which I received a sharp elbow in the ribs.

The music went on for an interminable ten minutes until, with a clash of cymbals, there was dead silence and Scream began to speak from behind the altar. “’Do what thou wilt, shall be the whole of the law,’ said the Great Beast, Alastair Crowley. But the Brotherhood of the Evil Angels believes this is not enough. ‘Do what though wilt, shall be only half of the law,’ saith Szandor Scream. The other half of the commandment is that to reap the full power from thy actions, ye must revel in the commiting of deeds that the weak cannot even conceive. For mankind is the sheep flock and the Brotherhood is the wolf pack and those who embrace only half of the philosophy are mere carrion-eating jackals. For we of the Brotherhood, there are no half measures, we embrace the Evil One with all our being. We thrive on desecration and we know that throughout our public lives the great strides we take and rewards we reap are consequences of the great power of evil that we honor and revere...”

I had noticed a tingling in my fingertips and toes and I thought I could see faint trails of light following Screams’s slightest move. When he raised his hands at the climax of his sermon, great flares followed his hands and swung up to the ebony wings to his sides. I turned to see if anyone else had noticed this effect and observed that all were watching Scream, enraptured. Mouths were open and, in some cases, drool trickled over lips and down chins.

“Now, tonight, to pledge our fealty to Lord Satan, we have a special communion.” A silver salver was brought to the altar and when Scream whipped off its cover, he shouted. “Behold the heart of mine enemy.” He ranted on about how in his business one had tried to usurp his power and had incurred Scream’s wrath. Still the enemy had a cunning that though not equal to the master’s was useful and we could all access this power by ingesting part of his most sacred organ, the font of all emotion. “And who will join me in this feast, this taking of another’s power and using it to increase our own?”

The initiates shouted and flailed their arms. Disturbingly, I thought it might not be such a bad idea myself. I looked over at Jayne. She stood stalk still, her eyes wide and glazed, a glistening of sweat atop the Boys.

One of Scream’s priests sliced into the heart with a ceremonial dagger and I could see it unleash the heart’s radiance. I could feel that power and know the taste of strength from the blood. I was hypnotized by the flashing and flaring blade as it cut the heart into thin strips.

When the drumming began again and the crowd started to sway, I fell in with the rhythm thinking this was quite pleasant and wondering what that heart would taste like.

A valet moved through the crowd and the congregation took their slices, some stuffing two into their mouths. When it came to my turn I reached out and, with some shock, noticed my arm was translucent, radiant blue, ropy with muscle and gnarled of finger. The nails seemed to have sharpened into small claws. Then, I put the slice in my mouth and felt it burst with energy on my palate.

When I opened my eyes after relishing the juices running down my throat, a woman was standing before me. She had dark long hair with bangs over heavily made-up slitted eyes. Her nose was tiny, almost just a ridge with nostrils and her mouth was lush, red and smiling. “That is good,” she said. Her voice seemed to filter through some invisible wall. “I am Ariana, Szandor’s high priestess. He has asked me to show you through some of the more esoteric areas of our temple.”

I grinned, feeling blood on my teeth. “I’ll just get Jayne.”

“Don’t worry about Jayne. She is in special consultation with Szandor. You’re all mine,” she said, linking her arm through mine and pulling me through the crowd. I frantically looked for Jayne, but she indeed seemed to be gone from the main hall.

Ariana pressed a panel on a wall and we slid through a concealed doorway into the dark. She pulled me around a maze of baffles, then another door opened to a lighted room. “Voila! The VIP suite,” she shouted to the twelve-foot ceiling. For the first time, I could really see her. She was about five-and-a-half-feet tall, with a knockout figure in a body stocking with a diaphanous cape swirling to her calves. The way she carried herself she obviously thought she was quite a dish, though I thought she looked a bit bizarre and unhealthy. “I know you will be bursting with questions. Ask me and I will tell you what you wish to know.” When I stood there trying to assimilate the room, the chick, my altered perceptions, she laughed and threw her arms up in the air and leapt, pirouetting around the room, her cape flowing out into a long arching swallowtail, her arms forming black swept-back wings.

“That mushroom tea is really messing with my eyes,” I said.

“Don’t be naive,” she said. “It’s no effect of some dram of tea. You’ve stepped into a new realm. The illusions are falling away from your perceptions now.” With that, she came toward me and kissed me full on the lips, pushing my lips aside and insinuating her tongue between my teeth. It was not altogether unpleasant. Then she grasped my hands and ran them over her breasts.

“Just wait,” she said, and ran over to a huge desk to pull out a small vial. “Let me get ready,” she said, tapping out a white powder onto the tabletop. Raising her inverted crucifix pendant to her nose, she sniffed up the white powder. Then she turned toward me, her eyes afire and stepped... stepped, increasingly slowly... toward me... until she veered over to a couch, where she dropped like a rock. She had enough energy to mumble, “Take me... do what thou wilt...” before she fell far into the white sleep.

I knelt beside her and slapped her face a couple of times, but she was definitely on the nod. I may have not known much about mushroom tea, but in my line of work you see enough hypes to know a horse nod.

VIP room, my ass, I thought. If this is where they keep the Sammy Smack, then there must be something else worth seeing in here. I knew she would be out for at least twenty minutes and I started going through the desk. Normally, this would be a fairly straightforward procedure, but with my fingers flaring vapor trails and objects like embossed pencils and tortoiseshell fountain pens becoming oddly fixating, the desk drawer was like sifting through Ali Baba’s treasure chest.

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