Dissections logo scissors body by Deena Warner

 


Dissections logo pterodactyl by Deena Warner


Dissections logo pterodactyl by Deena Warner

 

 

 


Untitled by Andrew Selwood
Artwork: Untitled by Andrew Selwood

A Fragment

Diane Mason

Five minutes to midnight and his heart pumped, pumped, outpacing the steady tick of the clock, counting off the seconds to immortality. ‘Close the shutters and lock the door. You have invited me in so I will come.’ Her voice resonated in his memory, chiming with the obscure, alluring music of Mayan spheres, thrilling his senses like one of her exquisite opaque, oval nails teasing the hairs on the back of his neck. Tears of sweat formed on his brow and he tore at his collar. The sealed attic room, locked and shuttered, was pitchy, airless and tomblike. No light penetrated the gloom. It was what she wanted. Four minutes now and they would be one flesh.

He had not expected to find a ‘cure’ – if that is what prolonging life beyond its mortal boundaries could be called – but she offered something outside the deathly ceremonial of weeping women and be-plumed ebony horses, and he, last of the De Villiers and tainted with the family curse, had no other choices. The sickness was like an incubus growing inside him, eating away his life. He tamed the beast’s fury with increasing amounts of laudanum but the roaring was getting louder and the periods of respite ever briefer. He had wandered the world seeking relief in the arcane and exotic, communing with seers and shamans, interring himself in hidden libraries with their grimoires of the damned. But there was no philosopher’s stone or magick elixir for him. Three minutes.

Paris was his port of despair, one final chance to sample illicit pleasures before consigning himself to an English sickroom, and there to lie powerless as his essence guttered down to death. Pleasure? No. It was the wrong word. He took women as if he was trying to draw their life into himself yet his bruising encounters with the goat-milkers of Pigalle produced only more weakness as his sap drained in their anonymous, fleshy grip. One such sultry evening, taking that stumbling walk home alone from yet another bawd’s embraces, Reva materialised from the shadows. Two minutes.

It was her hair he noticed first, white like the moon winking from behind a veil of cloud as she pushed back the hood of her inky dark cloak. She turned and beckoned to him – it was as if she had been waiting, knowing he would come. Moving closer, he felt the first, unmistakeable stirrings of anticipation. Her chaste clothing announced her to be a lady who had evidently lost her way. Close enough to touch, his throat tightened as he looked up into her pale, beautiful face. She fixed him with big, dark, inhumanly seductive eyes, trapping him with a glare of ravening innocence. There was the suggestion of a smile at the corner of her full, sensual mouth as if she were pleased with what she saw and he fancied her hair had grown darker. At once she fascinated and revolted him. The sickly, sweet, mephitic scent of her perfume overwhelmed his opiate-dulled senses and her long, elegant fingers were icy enough to burn as she grasped his hand and led him away. In sixty seconds...

Reva! Reva! He reeled back on the bed and closed his eyes, passive and selfless as a corpse. The veins in his neck pulsed and jumped as if trying to break free of the imprisoning tissue and every muscle and sinew in his body trembled in expectancy of the forbidden delights she promised. Reva! As the clock began to chime the witching hour the sound of wings rushing against the shutters filled the air with a peculiar night music, reaching a crescendo as the window burst open on the stroke of twelve. Reva! She pierced the gloom. The room radiated her scent and the swish of her skirts made him swoon with pleasure. He felt her breath on his neck, gasped and opened his eyes with the touch of her frosty fingers against his face, languishing in ecstasy as her hungry lips caressed the pulse that beat, beat, beat, at the base of his throat. She raised her head and he looked into the infinity of her eyes, reddening and lupine, as her travesty of a smile revealed white, sharp, canine teeth...

The End (or is it?)





 
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