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Bloodshadow
A play by Christopher Scott
Copyright 1992


The stage is entirely bare

VOICE: (in blackout)

Dark streets, darker than the depths of your imagination. Squalid, shabby streets. Dregs of humankind. Animal voices in the dark -sounds of lust, syllables of unspent desire. Violation, there in the lightless alleyways. Rape by mutual consent between two unwashed bodies that have no other name for love. They do not need your pity - they have no use for your concern. You are nothing to them. Be still - be calm. You do not belong here. You can do nothing.

LIGHTS UP. ACTOR SITS DC, CROSSLEGGED.

I know how much you need it. I know your need to belong, to feel useful. But this is not the place. This is not your place. You are too... caring, too... feeling. So, go home. Go to your cosy little homes and leave us that belong here alone. We have so little -would you take even that from us? Our pride?

PAUSE

What are we to you? Why do you come here and point and stare at us like tired, mangy animals that pace an endless treadmill in a filthy cage? Do our delicate aromas offend you? Do our lust and our anger excite you? Or do you come so that you can go back sweetly to your nice little homes and congratulate yourselves and puff up in the impotence of your own self-importance and smug self satisfaction that you are not like us? But where do you belong?

PAUSE

There is a monster who haunts my dreams - a creature of smoke and shadow and blood. Sometimes he has my face - sometimes he has your face - but when I steel myself to turn and look into the eyes that brand the flaying heat into me, he has no face. He is my dream weaver and in the warp and the weft of his fingers I am his slave and his dearest apostle. The very first night he came to me I did not know him and I denied him. But he will not be denied, he will not be ignored. Oh, I remember it so well that even the faint and feeble memory of it sears my blood with its fingertips. I dreamed of the wings of darkness that folded their hooked and leathery skin about me like a living shroud. Slow was the beat of the nighted blood that bunched and oozed its serpentine, slithering course along those knotted and purple veins. What would you have done? Panicked? Screamed? Wept? Shouted? Crapped? Who would not? But I knew in the first silken touch of that warm, smooth, sensuous hand that their dark, cracked talons would never tear my flesh. Even had I wanted them to... A slow and silent sound crept so gradually into my sleeping ear. His voice - his wondrous, dreadful voice that could lull an angel to sleep, that could pierce and mortify the soul of a demon. His first words - so soft, so gentle - lingered in the twisting chambers of my ear like the holiest of hymns twining the heights of the loftiest cathedral.

"You have always known that I would come to you. In the dark and dreadful pit of your soul, you knew it. Didn't you?"

I did not tremble. I did not fear. No.. .I wept. I wept the tears of belonging. He wanted me. No-one else, only me.

"I have always known," I said. "I have always hoped."

His hands that had been wings slowly lingered over all my body as though he would know every part of me.

"I have chosen well," he purred. "Do you know what it is that I want of you?"

I had no answer. I did not care. I belonged.

"Men have known my deeds," he whispered. "The words of blood that I slashed across their faces have been been read my many. But none has understood. You will. I will show you my mind. I will come to you when the darkest hour of night breathes its final gasp. I will show you the hellish delights that are in my head. Be ready, little brother, be ready for the touch of my breath in the night." And he was gone...

PAUSE

It wasn't my fault! I didn't hold out my arms in the silence of the night and beg him to come to me and take possession of me. I didn't conjure him up out of the bleakness of my own soul and give him a name to comfort my own emptiness and despair I did not invent him for my own pleasure! So why do you blame me? If some mindless thug raped your wife or your sister or your lover, who would you blame? The rapist.. or the victim? So why do you blame me? Do you know - really know - what loneliness is? Have you really known a night so long that you thought that God had forgotten the dawn? An endless, seamless succession of hours when sleep is impossible and every flicker of thought turns to the dry aridity that you carry inside you? Unless you have felt that, you cannot know what he meant to me and why I welcomed his soft touch and his icy words.

PAUSE

You know the meaning of comfort, don't you? And civilisation and law and propriety and all the other scales that you try vainly to glue over the cracks to hide the animal nesting inside of you... but I have seen the beast in its lair. I have smelt its foetid breath and tasted its rancid sweat and savoured its unholy blood. Don't blame me! I don't need your praise but I will not tolerate your blame. You have no right, not here... this place is mine.

PAUSE

Can't we be friends, you and me? You want to hear what I have to tell.. and I want, I need, I must.. (SHOUTS) What do you want from me? Please. - please.. you have to believe that I never wanted any of this to happen and that it was none of my doing but I was being controlled by him, he had possession of me and my mind and my will were in his dark hands and this foul, oozing madness that he planted in me like the twisted, blighted seed of some fleshy and pestilential plant that grew and festered inside me, this grinning and gibbering insanity clawed and raked at me with poisoned nails and glistening fangs...

PAUSE

You almost believed me, didn't you? You must be careful of that, I will use you as he used me. I will.

PAUSE

So, you're there and I'm here. What now? Have you come to see me? Are you interested in me? Are you concerned about me? Do you give a toss about me? No, you don't, do you? Well. my dear little friends, I am going to tell you anyway. Do you know what I like? I like games.. I like to play. Do you like to play? Because you're going to whether you like it or not. Have you ever played the silence game? No? It's very simple. Deceptively simple. The idea is, you see, that we are all afraid of what's in here - we are all terrified of the hollowness and the sterility that echoes inside us like a room where someone has died. That is why silence unnerves us. All the chatter and the drivel you come out with, they cover up the silence of your own core. The game is.. who can stand the silence the longer? Me or you? Let's try it...

VERY LONG PAUSE

(SHOUTS) Silence! Listen to it! He only came to me when the silence was absolute, not a breath, not a murmur. At first, I did not know whether he came to me in my dreams and the fevered writhings of my own soul had conjured his faceless presence or whether he came to me in the waking hours of my soundless vigil. But it did not matter. All that mattered was that he did come. I did not know dream from waking and I cared even less.

Oh listen - the keening wail of a whipped dog.. the muffled scuff of a threadbare shoe on slimy, moon-gleaming cobbles.. the hiss of fear in the dark.. the miserable stinking gutter of a lightless street.. he was there, behind me, urging me, willing me on, his mind surging with the strength of a thousand years of sin...

A shape...

A hunch of blackness in the gloom...

I touched it... it was warm... it was soft, yielding... it was dead.

"Look at her" he sighed. "look closely and carefully. Study her." A plain, unremarkable woman.. her flesh ice to the eye but still blood-warm to the touch... her lank hair matted, greasy... Tarred rope twisted there on the pavement...

"Her eyes," he breathed. "Look into her eyes."

They were open - staring, focussed on eternity.

(SHOUTS) She looked through me... she would not look at me. I cradled her head but she would not focus her lifeless eyes upon me. But she would believe in me, she would acknowledge me, she would know my power.

"You will never see me, little brother," he said. "You will never look into my eyes. But in her emptiness there is some measure of what I am."

"There is only emptiness."

"Oh no," his voice smiled. "In that void you will find the seeds of what is in me."

"And what is that?"

"What do you see?"

"Hate?"

"No, no, no, my friend. Hate? Could I hate what I do not know?"

"But you must hate.. or why would you kill?"

"Look at your hands...look at her."

I still cradled her head like a solicitous lover. But as I spread my hands, her black blood scorched and channelled down my arms, coiled and clammered across me... her throat, ripped and ravaged, a dark and weeping mouth that would suck me into its raw and seeping entrails...I fell back from her and she slid gracefully aside like a boneless doll.

(SHOUTS)

"How could you do this without hate? You have taken her life - is that not enough? Why this desecration?"

He laughed...softly... Slowly.

"Desecration? Was she holy? Was her body a temple? You have seen so little and you understand even less. But you will. Oh yes, you will. No, the taking of life is not enough - it is never enough. I must destroy that which would destroy me. I must behead the dragon, I must rip out the glinting teeth from the mouth that would devour me until only the stunted, bleeding stumps remain. Under that pathetic and thread-worn dress that covered her, I have lopped the first head of the Hydra."

My hand edged forward...

"You don't need to look," he said. "Not yet. You are not ready. There will be other times. Be calm, be still..."

I was alone. Alone in my room - my tawdry, rat-eaten, crumbling room. Had I been there? Had I dreamt it? Had I seen it? The flaking filigree of caked blood on my hands told me that I had. I slept - and as I slept I did dream...

PAUSE

White.. white ruffled light.. .a gleaming, glinting crack in the floor of my unholy room....... a pavement of agony marbled with the blood of anonymous saints, martyred with the pregnant lust of a thousand unspent orgasms.. white seed of fear.. white fire of power.. but from that blinding crack there eased out - slow, so slow - fingers so long, impossibly long, no hand to join them. There are dark, arid splintered nails, brown blood caked beneath them... there are knuckles, pitted and scarred, bitten and calloused, rotted and limbless in the pitiless glare... I must close it. the crack will claw and cling to me.. will drag me in.. will drown me.. close, close, be not.. there is blood on me... it is not mine.. .I cannot be clean... I am diseased.. .I am filth.. the blood of birth and the waters of the womb have tainted me...I will drown in blood... I cannot breathe in the chamber of my mother's flesh.. .

I cannot cut this blue, knotted rope that ties me to her milky and sagging body.. teeth in the reddened, pulsing walls of my prison.. not fangs.. not sharp.. dull, edgeless spades that bruise and hammer at me... on my hands there is blood.. my blood, her blood, the blood of the mother of the world... I must get free... I must close the crack... I must seal off that room of spawn and lust that went into my making... she did that.. she did that to make me.. with him... lust made me, not love.. with him.. - I never knew him except when he spurted out his lust into her moist and secret chamber where I slept.. a toad. a fish, a deformed lizard, a shapeless and limbless mollusc. .I must close that crack of light and brightness.. .I must sever and tear out that blood-weeping room of shame...

PAUSE

You never wanted me, did you? Not me. Not me for myself. I was only an inconvenience, an unloved product of your lust. I was your shame made visible, that is why you treated me the way you did. But that was then.. when I was a helpless, loveless child that bawled out its impotence to the deafness of the night. I am not a child now. I will show you. .I will show all of you what I am now, what I have become, what you have made me. So don't blame me because the fault is yours and not mine. No, I am not a child and I am not friendless. He comes to me and his hatred for you and your kind makes the emptiness that resounds in side of me seem just the tinkling of a tiny, tuneless bell.

PAUSE

The waiting, that was the worst - not knowing if he would come or when. I was like a love-sick adolescent that moons and sulks for his impossible love that no-one in the world understands and about which no-one cares. I could not eat until the extremities of want prompted me. If I slept I dreamt only of him and the black unruffled silk that was his voice. Any noise in the silent hours of the night - however small, however slight - made my heart leap in expectation that he was there. But he was not.. not yet.

PAUSE

I know lots of games, you know. I like games, They make me happy. Games are important - they help us to get to know each other. And I want to know you...very, very well. I know that you came here to look at me but that does not mean that I can't look at you, does it? That's only fair. I might learn something. But if you see a scrawny animal in a cage, look deeply into his eyes and see if you can read what is there. I bet you can't. What would you say, then? Loneliness? A yearning for liberty? The gnawing need to feel the scouring wind of the plain or the musty breeze of the forest riffle and wrangle through his hair? Wrong! His only thought is what he would do to you if those bars or that pit were not there -his only wish is to use the strength and the weapons that his breeding gave him on those puny, white, little people who come to stare at him.

PAUSE

I should know - I am one of them. And these bars and this pit that keep me here and you there - how strong are they? How safe are you on your side and how powerful am I on mine? This safe?

(LUNGES FORWARD)

This powerful?

(FURTHER FORWARD)

Don't be afraid? I'm only playing. It's only a game. My game.

PAUSE

I can touch the silence - I can taste the darkness.. the breath of a hand on my naked shoulder like the alighting of the smallest of birds.. .a slow, lingering touch on my flesh... it is him.. am I awake?

"It does not matter," his voice spiralled and danced into me. "I can find you and come to you awake or asleep, willing or obdurate, living or dead. Do not worry yourself about such things.. -it does not matter. All that matters is that I am here.. that you are here and that I have such things to show you that no man has seen before or will ever see again."

There are walls about me.. - I can't see them but I can feel them there in the dark - crumbling, tottering, eyeless wails that leer at me from the sanctuary of their own permanence.. a yard, cramped and narrow...I don't like it here. Please, I don't like it here.

"You don't have to like it," he sighed. "But it is here in this slimy pit of despair that I have catechized and cauterized the second head of the Hydra. And you must see it. It is my wish."

It is so very easy for you to condemn me but his voice lulls the senses and dulls the judgement - and don't try and pretend even to yourselves that you would have done any different because I know otherwise...

It is early light.. dawn forges a sliver of tomorrow low in the east... a still, sepulchral shape in the corner of the yard... stretched out like a silvered, scaled sea-thing on a slab -arms laid loose beside her, legs drawn up as if for some travesty of the act of love.. she lay there, squeezed in carefully between the fence and a small flight of steps. the first, hesitant sounds of day were stirring. - men and beasts readying themselves for another struggle to survive... she had lost her struggle...

"You know what to do," he urged. "Look, observe and remember."

He must know that I am ready.. he must know that I have thought hour after hour in the darkness about what he showed me before. This time there is nothing hidden. This time, the play of his demented imagination is laid out before me like the reddened counter of a butcher's shop... her head is almost severed... just a litle strip of flesh holds it still to her outraged carcass... her blood-streaked abdomen is flayed and laid open to the sky... lumpy, greasy entrails are festooned about her shoulder like the fleshy hair of some obscene Gorgon... I cannot look any more... I know that you trust me and that you are showing me what you would reveal to others but I am not ready for this...

(VOMITS)

"You disappoint me, my friend. Is your stomach as squeamish and as tender as your fellow men? But do not tell me that I have chosen wrongly. I am never wrong. I cannot allow myself to be wrong."

"I am not ready..."

"Then when will you be ready?"

"I don't know! How can any man know when he will be able to look on that and not feel the acid and the bile surge up inside him?"

"Listen to me, you will look and you will learn. I will teach you and if you do not learn to my satisfaction, then by the time my vengeance is done you will wish that it was you laying there steaming in your own hot blood instead of her."

Even his threats were quiet - soft as a sleeping baby breathing gently against my neck.

"Look for me when you least expect me.. and learn to please me better..."

I felt his darkness lift from me and I was alone again.

PAUSE

I can't sleep! I daren't sleep because I do not know what he will do to me when my mind and my will are naked and pliable. I will fight off the heaviness and the seduction of sleep... I will banish slumber with the force of my will... even my bed, my filthy, crusted, stained mattress looks so soft, so inviting. Just a little sleep, just close my eyes for a minute and let the weariness fall from me. - . no! he will come and torment me and drive me mad...but l must be mad already to have seen what I have and to have listened to his soft, wonderful, stroking voice that was velvet in the dark... close my eyes for just a few seconds and let the warm and boundless night. that lies behind our eyelids swallow me and nestle me to it.. no! I must fight...I must not sleep...

PAUSE

(HEAD SLUMPS)

He has won.. for the moment. So, faceless friend of mine who always stands behind my shoulder, show yourself, Why will you not let me see you eye to eye? What do you think I am afraid of? Or what are you afraid of?

PAUSE

Is that it? The only way to keep your own snarling fear at bay is to find someone who is weaker than you and distil your terror drop by drop into him? That is it, isn't it? I thought you so strong and coldly sure of yourself but you are just like all the others - a coward and a liar.. .you are not the one I have been looking for, you are not the one I can give my life to.

PAUSE

(SCREAMS - HOLDING HEAD>

I cannot see. The blackness of Hell riveted to my eyes with lightless, fire-fingered bolts that pierce and pirouette into my brain - inky wires threading like serrated worms into the windows of my eye, piercing through the flaccid, gelatinous globes - probing into the bony, burning sockets - coursing into the screaming ribbon of my nerves...I can see him..only him. He is in my brain and the dark fire crackles around him and the cold sparks are his halo... it is not his image... it is not his shadow.. it is not his reflection in a smoky glass... it is him... in here... in my head.

PAUSE

Help me! Take this darkness from me...

PAUSE

I still cannot see his face... it is a shadow in the darkness...he is holding out his hand to me.. what do you want?.. His fingers are pale and slender, the hand of an artist.. the hand of a painter.. a painter whose canvas is darkness and whose pigments are blood and fear.. he is beckoning me.. -no, I will not go with you.. what are you saying to me? I cannot hear you.

PAUSE

"In this hand, little brother, I hold fear. Think, think carefully. Imagine.. to feel no terrors in the world, to know no fear because that fear is here in the palm of your hand. That is what I am offering you ... freedom from fear. Freedom and power. Think about it - but do not think too long."

He wrenched his dark shape from my brain in a rush of pain that tore through me, red and raw. I slept no more nor will I ever again. Not because of fear but because I do not need to and because the night is too delicious to waste on brutish sleep.

Did I believe him? Did I listen to him? What do you think? Well, what could you offer me that could compare with his gift? What can your world of incense-stinking hypocrisy, your smug and crumbling civilisation that you are so proud of, your pallid, feeble God whose only crown is one of barbed thorns - what can these give me?

Nothing! They are built on your rules and the games that I play must be mine, all mine or they mean nothing and the winning or the losing of your pathetic little charades bore me.

I am ready, master - ready to go with you and to be taught by you. Ready to look and to remember. They are not my friends. Don't be jealous. They don't know you. We should pity them.

PAUSE

"Are you ready, little friend? Will you come with me this time of your own will?"

"Yes"

"The third head of the dragon has cheated me. I knew her as soon as I saw her - she was perfect. She came with me easily enough, as they always do. They don't do it for the money - did you know that? They do it because they are what they are. Whores, women born of women, doubly cursed, clawing and pernicious creatures spat out by that undulating prison of flesh. It is no bigger than my fist, you know - the womb. When it is empty. Believe me, I know. That is where it all starts, little brother, all the sin and the blood flow from that flushed, gaping, slimy orifice that oozes us out into the world. That is where it all starts - and how does it start? How are we all -saint or savage, madman or martyr - how are brought into this world? By the sweaty coupling of two beasts whose fluids spurt out like pale and slimy blood., and in the thrust and the fervour of their frenzy, in the flush and the unholy delight of their copulation, they wash the womb of a whore with the accursed seed of a stinking and stupid oaf whose only thought is where and when he will be able to next perpetrate this sickening performance. That is where we come from. - all of us... It is what gave me life and I must wash that slime and that filth from me. I will cut out the seat of sin by the root and you will watch me do it and you will understand. This one tonight talked to me so easily, so casually of all the carnal and bestial secrets that are her trade. ..but as we slowly drew back into the nightshade of those gates I stopped her chatter.. for ever. You see, little brother, I am very good at what I do. But some one came along, some one dared to interrupt my sacrifice, but I still severed the head, at least. That I had to do. But another head must be cut from the creature tonight or the dragon will rear up his crimson head and will destroy me. You will follow me and you will watch."

PAUSE

He guided me gently like a kindly stranger helping a blind man or a doting parent leading an unsteady child to take its first steps. It was not far - but in the darkness and the silence, the long shadows and the mocking echoes, even I felt the sharp pang of the fear that haunted those streets. He knew my mind.

"Do not be afraid," he whispered. "I am the fear.You are with me."

We two walked to the stifled beat of my footsteps - he made no noise, no sound, no echo, no syllable, no utterance... He existed only in my mind as far as any but myself was concerned.

A lightless square that would be dark even in the broad sun of daylight. We drew back into the deeper shadows of a sheltering corner..

"There," he sighed. "She is the one."

A wornan stood in the narrow alley leading into the square, beneath a single, fitful lamp that flitted and flickered like some jaundiced cyclops. She looked about uncertainly. Had she heard us? No.. she was waiting. A distant, muffled bell struck the half hour.

"It is time," he whispered to me. "Watch and learn..."

I felt his shadow course through me - a shape that could pass for human ambled slowly forward away from me, a projection of my own will, detached, nebulous, unreal. He who had always stood behind my shoulder now floated away in fromt of me but I saw only his back - his face was still hidden. As he glided soundlessly to her, I felt a sudden and awful need to shout to her:

"Get away from here!"

But the last, unlamented trace of my humanity sank into the pit of my expectation. He spoke to her only briefly - so briefly that when it happened I was amazed - he led her gently to the opposite corner, as he had led me so often before. In the yellow light of the lamp I saw a sudden, shocking glint of steel and she slumped slowly to the ground. As his knife struck, the tableau in the gloomy corner flared into a sourceless and terrible light. He stood there still, silent - as she slid to the pavement. He laid her out gently, as though putting a drowsy child to bed. It was the speed of it that astounded me - he lifted her clothing with the delicacy and the precision of a jeweller about to cut some legendary stone.

"It must be right," he said in my mind." It must be flawless." There is a sparkle of steel and an eruption of blood and the blade melts its way throught the buttery flesh. A cavity that seems impossibly long for her delicate height opens its scarlet lips and his hands work rapidly inside her, darting and dancing like maddened marionettes. He holds something up but I can see only a lump of congealed gore that glistens like a hideous, fleshy ruby in his crimson fingers. He leans over her face and his sparkling knife dances across her waxy features, an hypnotic firefly in the unnatural light.

PAUSE

He is gone. Where is he? No-one can move that quickly. The feather of a touch on my shoulder tells me where he is.

"I have cut my third head," he gloats. "The dragon can sleep tonight. Now you have shared all my secrets. Well, nearly all." His voice hisses with the blue fire of a glacier's core - his words crackle and scintillate with the lowering joy of a stormdark sky.

PAUSE

Alone, Though I cannot see him, I know when he has gone. Why does he always leave - like all the others? Is he really any different? Or is he just more cruel, more shameless in his perversity, more gleeful in his depravity?

And it seemed that I lay there on the pavement beside her - I slept at the side of the dragons's whore and her cold, dark blood seeped and slithered against my body. And as I slept, again the dreams came...

A room. Pure as marbled ice, white as the blanched flesh of a young lamb. A room that is all coldness and clarity - crystal, adamant, razored shards of a light that is bleached of all warmth, all colour. It is a room of painful beauty, sterile, severe, serene. But I know in my heart that it is a room where no living man ever trod before. Unsullied, unpolluted, its air unbreathed by the foul and cankerous lungs of the world - it is too lovely to have known even the fleeting touch of even one human hand. Why has this pale heaven let me into its secret chamber? Am I not human? But I also know in my heart that I can only look, that I can only ever be a passive, dispassioned observer - but I long to touch, I need to touch, I need to feel that cool and smooth perfection beneath my fingers...I must not stroke those pristine walls, flawless as unbreathing flesh. .I must not.. but I itch to, I cannot fight this madness to touch perfection,..

PAUSE

Oh, the smoothness and the silk, the skin of a sleeping child beneath my eager fingers,. a mark.. a blemish.. a scar... a tear in the perfection...I am human...I am corrupt... this room, that was white with the wonder of paradise, is flaking and fading.. great peeling scabs writhe across its face, gobbets of corrupt and flyeaten flesh ooze from crusted cracks - leering, lolling tongues moisten wrinkled lips that cackle and hiss from every rotting surface of this madhouse.. don't laugh at me! don't you dare laugh at me! I know you, I know you all and I know where I can find you.. and if there ever comes a moment when I can get my revenge on all you sniggering, simpering, upright, civilised, worm-eating, shit-brained, little nobodies then beware, just beware...

PAUSE

Because you are the one I will start with...

BLACKOUT

INTERVAL


LIGHTS UP ON ACTOR UC, BACK TO AUDIENCE

So long, so long a time and still he will not come. I pretend to myself that I don't mind - I only do that because I know that he might be listening. Can he hear me when I don't know whether he's here or not? I would know... he does not have to touch me... he does not have to speak. I would know. How? What do you mean - how? How does a bird know how to fly, how does a fish know how to swim? He is so much a part of me - in a way that I cannot fully understand, he is me. Or perhaps, I am him. Does it matter? I know his mind, that is all that is important. But if you know his mind, why don't you know why he does not come? Because he has chosen not to tell me- that is why! He is testing me and I will not be found wanting. Blessed am I among men, for he has chosen me to carry the seed of his darkness....

PAUSE

Someone is here. - is it him? No, of course not! Who else would it be? Anyone who is not him... I can smell them. the fear and the tingle, the itch, the sweat of expectation.. he has no fear.. he is the fear...

PAUSE

(SWINGS ROUND TO FACE AUDIENCE)

Out there, in the dark, just outside the pale, pitiful light of your pride... he is there You can never quite see him... sometimes you can't see him at all. But you are aware of him on the threshold of your light. When you are alone, truly alone, when you can hear no other living being breathe, when there is no other splinter of sound to comfort you, can you truly say that you have never heard him?

PAUSE

I hope I didn't scare you. It is just my way - just one of my little games. But some games are serious - some games are deadly. Are you ready to play my games? You see, the main rule for all of my games is - once you start, you stay in till the end. However it ends. Are you ready for that? Really? Well then let's play the confession game. It's very easy. Even you will understand it, I'm sure. All we have to do is tell the truth. That's easy enough, isn't it? Only the truth. This is how it goes - I tell you something about me and then you tell me something about you. Only two rules. All the things we tell each other have to be true and each must be better than the one before - more personal, more shocking, more outrageous.. more painful. Shall I start?

PAUSE

Well then.. .I sometimes get lonely. Now you...

LISTENS

Really? That does surprise me. All right then. I didn't like my father... in fact, I hated my father.

LISTENS

Well! And you look so.. ordinary. I'd never have thought that. But then you can't tell just by looking and you are telling the truth, of course. Aren't you? Well, I suppose it's up to me again. Let me see ...... ah yes... I have dreams, bad dreams...

LISTENS

Good! But in my dreams I do things, awful things, wicked things, dirty things...

LISTENS

Very good! But when I wake up from my dreams I don't feel ashamed... I want to do the things in my dreams...

LISTENS

Oh, I like this! But I want to do the things in my dreams to you...

LISTENS

You wouldn't like that.. believe me. I would like to have you at my mercy, in my power...

LISTENS

Go on...go on..

LISTENS

Yes.. yes.. and I would like to have you there, tied up and powerless.. and I would run a cold, naked, gleaming razor slowly. over your flesh. I wouldn't hurt you, of course. Not really. It's only pretend. Only a game.

PAUSE

Only a game.

PAUSE

All my waiting was rewarded, my faith was fulfilled. He came back to me. It was the darkest night that I could ever remember. No moon.. no shadows.. clouds as thick and as heavy as the fumes of Hell. I sat in my room alone, always alone. The stink of neglect. The stench of waiting. I had slept despite my promises and my threats to myself. I had dreamed. Raw, naked, bleeding dreams that peopled my night.

PAUSE

Quiet! Listen! A sound.. so faint, a sigh in the echo of my breath, a rustle... it is him. Will he speak to me? Will he touch me? His hand is on my shoulder... I need him... I have never wanted any other in my life...

"Let your doubts melt into the shadows, little friend. I am here. We are together. Nothing else matters."

"Nothing"

I felt his silken fingers tighten on my shoulder.

"What is it?"

"It is time. Tonight the Dragon is strong. But I must be stronger. We must be stronger.'

"What is he, this dragon? You must defeat him... I know that But what is he?"

"He is the monster from my dreams. He is the creature that would destroy me, if I were not who I am. He is all that is evil in the world, little brother. He is lust and he is corruption, he is sin and he is depravity, he is life and he is womankind, he is the whore of the world and his scaled, scarlet heads would tear me and devour me. Oh, he is wise, my friend, and he is cunning and devious. He knows that if any man saw him as he really was, then the malevolence and the hatred in those awful, ancient eyes would blast that man's mind asunder and destroy him. That is not what he wants. he wants suffering, Lingering pain. So, what does he do? He hides his malice beneath a pretty face, he clothes his loathsome scales in the guise of woman. But I have seen him... I know him.. and I will destroy him.. him and his handmaidens whose teeming, pulsing wombs feed him and his staunchless hunger.. his acolytes are the whores of the world and one of them, a woman cursed with the moon-flooding blood of the dragon, brought me into this world. I have lain in the chamber of the dragon, I have drunk at his altar and I have eaten at his table. I have slept in the silted waters of his womb and while that blood and that filth are on me I cannot rest until I have slain him.

PAUSE

Tonight, brother, we will face the dragon in his lair and we will destroy him."

PAUSE

He whispered to me like a lover in the tented darkness of the night.

"Do you trust me?"

"I have no other to trust."

"Will you do what I ask of you?"

"Of course."

I was in streets that I had never seen before, places that I had never known but his hand, soft and warm on my shoulder, guided my steps as surely as if I had lived all my days among those evil alleyways. It was a beautiful, sacred night - the only person in the world who cared about me was with me and I could serve him.

"What name can I call you by?" I asked him.

"You have called me master in the past."

"If that pleases you, then I need no other..'

"If you need a name, then you can call me Jack."

We walked on in solemn silence. Frost crystalled the filth that lay around us, the living filth and the dead.

"Yes," I said "Jack... Jack the.. Ripper,"

His slender artist's fingers gripped my shoulder harder than they had ever done before. I stopped. I held my breath. I had angered him.

PAUSE

"Yes," he breathed gently. "I like that. If the world must have a name to remember me by, that is as good as any. And doubt not, little brother, that they shall remember me. After tonight, they will not dare forget."

We walked the empty and aching streets and in the cloud of silence that muffled about us, I had never in my all my life felt so close to another living person. The mire of filth and the sinks of corruption floated gently past me, almost unnoticed as I sank all of my will and all of my soul into his dark beauty.

Suddenly he stopped.

"It is time." The icy steel of finality honed his voice to a hairthin edge.

I waited.

"Tonight is the last. And tonight it will not be me showing you what I have done - what I have had to do - it will not be me forcing you to watch my dark ministrations.. No, it will be us, you and I, brother, worshipping together at the altar of despair.

I will not be beside you, I will not be behind you. I will be part of you. Two wills in one body.. two minds with one purpose. That is why I needed you, that is why I will use you. Are you ready for that?"

There was no need to answer. He knew.

And suddenly that darkness that had been outside of me, the monster that had whispered and waivered at the furthest corner of my eye, suddenly that simmering void of hatred and despair pressed its soft flesh to mine and was part of me. Black fire raced in my surging veins and my mind was overwhelmed with his hideous passions. His voice was no longer in my ear but in my soul. He was inside of me.

PAUSE

We walked a little farther, quietly, calmly, There, on a dank, autumnal corner.. a woman.. younger than the others.. pert, pretty, petulant... she has seen me... she is coming over.. what do I say?..

"Do not worry, my friend," the voice inside purrs and pulsates.

He is talking to her... talking with my mouth and my tongue... I am not even aware of what words are coming from me.. she smiles.. he laughs.. yes, yes... she believes him... it is so easy.. what was I worried about...?

She has taken my arm.. her laughing voice is saying words that I cannot hear.. the only thoughts in my brain are those that he allows me... the only sound is the leaf-rustle of his desire.. her soft hand at my elbow is urging me, guiding me.. we have turned into a narrow, evil-smelling court.. a few steps down and she has stopped.. she is singing... I can hear her now, like the bell of a distant chapel where some ancient ghost is laid to its final rest. I am in her room.. we are in her room.. no.. it is I.. has he gone? No.. .he that was a bystander in the sanctity of my being is now its occupant and I am the guest. ..the passive onlooker. She is slowly undoing her shabby, dark dress.. I can see the puzzlement in her eyes...I am not moving. ..standing.. watching.. she shrugs her pale little shoulders and gives me a half-smile as though my reluctance were some human weakness she had seen many times before. Her bed is narrow, ill-made.. but it will serve as a fitting altar for his final shedding of the dragon's blood and so will be sanctified for all time. She must have sensed his thought in me.. carefully, deliberately, like a princess from a fairy-tale going willingly to her sacrifice, she is laying down on the bed. She looks up at me, her large eyes glinting in the shimmer of a feeble candle...I can hear her now..

"Well, are you going to do anything? Are you going to stand there all night?"

Was that her... or him, urging me on...I am sitting on the bed beside her and her hand slowly moves to me like a pallid, eyeless, fiveheaded snake that will surely sting me, bite me, poison me if I let its scaly whiteness crawl over my skin... I knock the serpent aside but it has another head, a grinning, watery-eyed, human head that is lolling and lurching towards me... its neck a slender trunk ... I stroke its neck gently, very gently... its human head is smiling...I caress its neck a little harder, a little firmer...I join my hands around that hated, fleshy trunk that gives life to that pale serpent, that gives breath to those weeping, luminous eyes... the face is reddening, deadening...I must hold harder, the serpent is still breathing...I must kill it.. I must squeeze every vestige of breath and every hope of life out of every part of its being... I must squeeze it and choke it and cut it off by the root and the branch or those scaly five-headed arms will entwine about me and envelop me and I know the darkness that lies beneath those limbs...I know the gaping mouth that slaps its lips between her lower limbs.. that scarlet, throbbing slash that will drag me in and maul and tear at me and drag me into the waters of its lust-red chamber.. .I must hold on.. .I must squeeze and hurt and pummel life and breath out of this trunk of flesh that will not lie still, that will not be calm, that will not die.. die.. die.. be not.. dragon.. serpent... filth... bitch... whore... I must kill...I must...

PAUSE

The muffling darkness in my mind split and shattered and a vast and dazzling light exploded inside me.. a surge of white anger and unpent lust welled up and spat out of me and on the crown and the crest of that wave of joy and hatred I cried out in my pain and my ecstasy.

And I was gone from my mind into a glistening, bleeding place where neither sleep nor waking had any meaning... and I was naked and alone... I crossed a deep and seeping chasm that I knew to be bottomless... but I walked barefoot on a huge bridge that was a single, perfect steel blade.. on its edge I walked and the unblemished line of its razored sharpness slid so easily and so painlessly into the flesh of my feet..I had to cross. .I could not fall.. there was no other way.. and as I walked on and on the silver sliver of the bridge slithered and sidled into my flesh. .but I did not bleed... I did not hurt... it had to be done.. there was no other way...

PAUSE

I am still on the bed.. she is still here.. she is dead... Did I do that? In that frenzy, could I do that? She is there, beside me, like a lover at a picnic, beside a river.. but she has been his lover, not mine... the last head of the dragon has been sliced from its scaly stump...

PAUSE

That part of her that he hated so, that part that gave life... it is no more.. but his hatred has spilled over her, a wave of blood, a storm of sacrifice.. her head is almost severed.. her face cut and disfigured beyond all recognition.. she is not a human being, she is an object.. a slaughtered animal, a votive offering to his despair... she has been flayed... seeping, bleeding flesh where minutes ago was pale, soft skin... all marks of her womanhood have been destroyed.. her breasts cut off.. her womb gouged out and her heart slit, still warm, from her ribs...

PAUSE

"Master, where are you?"

Silence...the silence of dead vengeance.

"Will you come to me again?" . . nothing, the nothingness of spent hatred.

"Will you leave me?".. an echo, a twilight of sound in the most silent chamber of my being...

"I must leave you, little friend. What reason is there for me stay when I have done what I lived for? Is that not a good reason to die? Is that not a good farewell to a world that I have hated even more then it despised me? Be wise, my friend. Do not be afraid of the darkness any more because you know - only you know - what is out there, beyond the little circle of our light and our safety. And when men despise you, look them in the eye, straight in the eye and keep in your mind the knowledge that what is in me is also in them. They hide it, they deny it, they loathe it - but it is there. That is why you will frighten them..."

Then he was gone, forever.

PAUSE

So, what now? I have played the truth game, haven't I? I have told you everything? Do I frighten you? Look me straight in the eye and know that I can see what is inside you...

{STARES AT AUDIENCE)

PAUSE

You know it too, don't you?

He was right.. he was always right. You are little men with little minds and petty ambitions. But when I look at you, straight in the eye, I can see that your loathing and your contempt are large... that is good... he would have liked that.

And when you have had enough of me, when I have given you enough entertainment for one day and your little minds wander off to some new diversion, what will you remember of him? Anything of importance? Anything of real importance? Or will your petty and drab little imaginations flounder with the meaning of his words. I understood. I am not a clever man. There is a message there, is there not?

PAUSE

Leave me alone now. I am tired. Not weary... tired, tired of you, all of you.

PAUSE

SHOUTS

Can't you hear? I said "Leave me alone!' . This is my place. I belong here. You have your own places. But do not feel too safe in them. Remember what is out there, out there in the dark. And remember what is in here, in here in the dark. The dark, scaly hand of the master may come for you on a certain hot, summer night when there is not a breath in the air and the hot, fervent sweat of your own burning lust itches and squirms inside you. He may come to you.. and the darkness will sleep no more...

"'Master, do not leave me.. take me with you... there is nothing for me here..."

(TURNS BACK ON AUDIENCE)

"They do not understand . they will never understand.. they did not like my games and I hate them all.. they would not even have liked your games, your pretty games.. do not leave me..."

(SITS STIFFLY UPRIGHT)

"Leave you? Did you not know, my little, foolish friend?"

(TURNS SHARPLY)

"Leave you? I am with you always.. until the end of Time...

BLACKOUT

THE END

copyright C.SCOTT 2001

All rights reserved to the author


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