|Vernal Equinox 2000|
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UKE JASON WAS SITTING on the living room sofa with his thick legs spread wide and big arms draped along the back of the couch when the apartment door opened and a tall, thin young man entered. He smiled at the man's astonished face."What the hell?" the man protested.
"Hangin' man," he said lazily. He held out one hand. "Luke Jason Marshall. You must be Marcus, the roommate."
"Where's Donna?" Marcus asked, ignoring his hand. He dropped his knapsack on the floor and moved to the front of Luke Jason. "I suppose you must be another of the pick-ups she likes to drag home, or did you think you're the only one?"
Luke Jason was exceptionally big, about six, five with the thick body of a lumberjack. A bush of light brown hair framed his large and square handsome face. He stared at Marcus with round unreadable brown eyes. He wore a tee-shirt and white boxer shorts that exposed a light fuzz covering his body.
"She's gone to New Orleans," he announced. "Said to tell you it was fun for the first year. Looks like we're roomies. I'm gonna live out her lease."
"Lease?" Marcus laughed. "She never paid rent...not money-wise, and I'm not interested in nothing else from you."
"Maybe not," he said, his voice low, "but from what she told me I've got something else you want."
"Yeah?" Marcus glanced around the living room. Luke Jason had already settled in. There was a thousand pound Nautilus machine standing in one corner, and the floor to ceiling bookcases had some literary additions lining the shelves. "How long have you been here?"
"You left Friday afternoon, Donna met me Friday night. Saturday morning she packed her stuff and split and I moved in Saturday afternoon... about 48 hours, I'd guess, if you want specifics."
"I'll give you three to get the hell out," Marcus said, making his voice hostile. He figured there was only one way to deal with assholes.
Luke Jason didn't move except to crack his knuckles.
"Take a look behind the Nautilus," he said. "If you don't like what you see I'll be gone in two."
When Marcus didn't jump at the opportunity Luke Jason pulled himself slowly from the sofa and took two large steps across the room. "Donna said you were unreasonable," he said and laughed. It was a nasty little sound. He slipped his hand behind the base of the evil looking machine and pulled out a black object that left Marcus breathless.
"It came from Mexico. I hand carried it myself and it cost me plenty to bribe the customs officials to let me bring it across. I heard it would be worth something in America, then I ran into Donna and she let me in on the secret of what it's used for." He twirled the leather strands causally around his arm.
"What's the deal?" Marcus breathed out, lost in his sudden fantasy of what the night could possibly bring.
"Same as Donna had, only without, like you said, nothing else from me. Besides," and here he pulled the leather straps free of his arm and flicked them lightly across Marcus's chest, "your fantasies are not my own. I like straight, old-fashioned fornication."
"It's for research," Marcus explained tightly, feeling faint. "I'm doing a study for a book I'm working on."
"Whatever you say," Luke Jason grinned. "Is it a deal?"
"It's a deal," Marcus said, hating Donna and himself and every damn thing on earth.
His one year research into D&S, dominance and submission, had turned into three without a light at the end of the tunnel. Although he had started with the perspective of an outside observer, he had discovered, once involved in it, he liked it very much. He kept his journals up in minute detail, and still planned on finishing the book he had started writing, only somehow the research had turned into need and a sort of desperation. He was now an active member of the Society of Janus and the Service of Mankind Church in San Francisco. There was a big box of magazines stored in the darkened folds of his closet, along with some Polaroids of his personal activities.
The whip Luke Jason so causally handled was the ultimate object of Marcus's desire. It was called the Supreme Castigate. Made from the entrails of the endangered Mexican Panthera Onca, it was a scared and much desired tool of the advert disciplinarian, and completely against the law in the United States to have possession of. It made Marcus's mouth water. He reached for it and wrapped it around his own skinny arm. He pulled it close to his face and sniffed the musk of dead and dried viscera.
"Ah, hell," he whispered, savoring the moment and forgetting with who and where he was.
"If you don't mind my saying so, that's plenty sick," Luke Jason said. He watched Marcus, his big face wrinkled with disgust. "But I'm not here to judge, just to fill a need and get my own taken care of. Donna said your lease is up in six months, right? I won't be renewing it with you. I should be back on my feet by then."
Marcus caressed the whip and set his small blue eyes on Luke Jason. "Look, there's some rules. I have a party here one Saturday a month. Just a few- uh - friends that like the same things I like. You disappear on those nights. You do the cooking and cleaning up around here and the laundry for both of us. Besides that, there's nothing I want from you except to stay out of my way. Understood?"
Luke Jason grinned, his big face innocent of wrong-doing.
"I got it, boss. I'm just hangin' low most of the time. You won't even know I'm around."
"Good," Marcus whispered and returned his attention to the whip.
Luke Jason couldn't believe his eyes. The apartment looked like a Mexican bull had spent the night in it. There were heaps of dirty dishes and several piles of discarded clothes on the floor. A naked man was draped over the Nautilus machine, in a sitting but seemingly comatose condition, his head hanging down on his chest and his arms limpid by his sides. Empty liquor bottles littered the kitchen cabinets, and a big fish bowl sat half full of used condoms.
There was a strange stink in the air. Luke Jason moved down the hallway sniffing like a hound dog until he came to the hall bathroom. He pushed open the half-closed door and caught his breath in disgust. Three naked people were engaged in doggie-style sex. The one on bottom was busy trying to persuade an arm vein to bulge as he readied for a hit. Luke Jason quickly closed the door and moved on toward the bedrooms at the end. A quick glance into his room confirmed everything was okay and as he had left it, but from behind the closed door of Marcus' bedroom were loud cries of something that sounded more like pain than pleasure.
"Don't worry, he's not dying," a soft voice said.
Luke Jason jerked around. She was small and very beautiful...and naked.
"He's what I call a yodeler." She laughed merrily. "Mean of me, isn't it?"
"Oh, I don't know," Luke Jason replied, "I call him a sick mother, myself."
"I'm Sara," she said and held out a hand. "I gather it you don't belong to our group."
"Not only beautiful, but smart," he joked. He turned and walked back to the living room. "Hell, it'll take me all day to clean up this mess. It ain't worth it."
"Why aren't you?" she asked, following him. "A member I mean? You're roommates, aren't you? You're Luke Jason? You're the one who sold Marcus the Supreme Castigate? How could someone who's not into the lifestyle know about that?"
"Look," Luke Jason faced her and let his eyes rove slowly down, appreciating her beauty.
"A Chicano friend of mine told me I could make some real bread if I could bring a Castigate across. The problem was until I met Donna I couldn't give the thing away. Seems it needs a special audience to appreciate it. This isn't my scene, that's all. Now if you want to meet me on other terms, well, I might be able to persuade you this stuff is all bullshit."
"And I might be able to persuade you it's not. So how about it? Want to give it a try?"
She pushed up close to him, her big black eyes fixed on his. He felt his groin tighten painfully. "Come on," she cooed, "they're waiting for me back there. You can just watch. Then if you like what you see, you can join in."
Luke Jason was lost, and he knew it. Hell, what was the big deal, anyway. It was a free country. He'd watch, get his own rocks off, then blow the scene. No harm in that. It was the same thing he'd been doing while visiting the Adult Pleasure Palace over off Coit Street. The only difference was in the atmosphere. It could only get better viewing it up close and personal.
He followed her. As they passed the bathroom two of the three people staggered out, brushing past Luke Jason and out to the living room. He could see the third person's torso lying on the floor, as though blocking entrance to the facilities. He shook his head sadly. They were all sick mothers.
"Let me get permission for you to watch," Sara whispered, then disappeared into Marcus' bedroom. After a couple of minutes, she peeked out and beckoned him inside.
The room was dark ink behind drawn draperies. When his eyes adjusted, he saw Marcus lying face down across his big bed, naked, pale and thin. There were several other persons lounging about in the shadows, like demons waiting for a sacrifice.
Sara stared at Luke Jason as she climbed slowly across the bed and straddled Marcus. Then she bent low and grabbed the back of his shoulder between her teeth. She gnawed his flesh as she gently rocked back and forth. When there was no sound from him, she let his skin go. She pushed further down his body, using her nails as a guide and leaving tiny red-filled cuts behind. "Too bad. It seems Marcus is off somewhere else at present."
She climbed off and turned toward one of the shadowed figures. He handed her the Castigate and she stroked it lovingly.
"Here," she whispered to Luke Jason. "You must have wondered what it felt like. Take it and hit me with it."
Luke Jason shook his head stubbornly. "I'm here to watch, remember?"
A bulky man wearing only a black leather throng, took the cat-o-tails from Sara and lashed it across her shoulder. It made a horrid sound but she moaned in pleasure and fell to her knees. "More," she whispered, "harder."
The dark man obliged, slapping Sara's nude body over and over until the room filled with her cries and her body was covered in angry red welts. Her hands moved over her own body, cupping her breasts and caressing between her legs. She stared at Luke Jason and let her tongue play along her lips.
"Come on," she said. "You can finish me up." She spread her legs wide, stretched out and closed her eyes.
Luke Jason felt the heat rage inside him. He quickly pulled off his clothes. He mounted Sara and pushed inside her. He moaned with lust as she wrapped her legs around his buttocks and rode with him in a needful frenzy. It was as he started to climax, he felt the first sharp blow to his shoulders, but he was too far gone. He couldn't stop the explosion. He stiffened and let his head fall forward as he came and received a series of brutal blows to his back and buttocks and legs. Then a heavy one to the head sent him spiraling down the abyss of darkness and he knew no more.
Somewhere deep in the jungle, his mother called him. Luke Jason had not seen his mother in fifteen years, but her voice was just as he remembered it; soft and soothing to her small son. He struggled to answer, and managed only a thin cry. He fought to sit up but could only roll from one side to the other. He lay quiet and listened and heard her call him again, this time closer.
"Baby boy, baby...baby boy..."
"I'm here, Mama," he answered.
"Here, Mama. I can't get up, Mama. I'm tied..." He opened his eyes.
The ropes that bound him were thick and tight around his ankles and wrists. Animal faces watched him, their bodies circling, their red-laced mouths panting wide. Droplets of saliva wet the ground around him. One large she-cat broke from the circle and straddled Luke Jason, giving him an uncensored view of her furry underside. She hesitated as though waiting for some response, then she moved back into the circle. He held his breath and closed his eyes again, willing his mother's voice back. There had been safety there. Another voice broke through his sun-kissed wishes.
"Isn't it amazing how the most macho of males end up calling for their mama?"
Luke Jason twisted his head as far to the right as was possible. He could only see a feminine shoe and a bit of a trim ankle.
"I'm afraid she can't help, you know," the voice continued. "You've chosen your own path. It's far too late to get off it. Besides that, you've been duped."
Sara stepped into his view, followed by Donna, the ex-roomy whose place he had taken in the apartment.
"Yeah, you were the easiest so far," Donna said. She ran her fingers through his hair. "Almost as easy as poor stupid Marcus. I guess you'd fall into that category of 'a friend in need is a friend indeed'."
"What's going on?" Luke Jason managed. "Where am I?"
"You're the same place you were before, but that doesn't matter," Sara whispered. "All that matters now is where you're going."
"And that is?" Luke Jason tried to sound in control, when in actuality he was scared half out of his wits.
Sara leaned over him and kissed his ear. The act sent shivers down his spine.
"Where all doubters go eventually," she said. "At least the ones we can get in here."
"And that is?" he repeated.
"To bestow the greatest gift for our group." She stood straight and moved away. At his back, beyond his sight came a hellish sound. "You see, the Panthera Onca is an endangered species, but not because of God's choosing. The poor things are hunted down and destroyed by the Mexican people because of ancient superstitious beliefs. The Panthera Onca can only be placated through sacrifice of the disbelievers. It's sort of like rubbing salve in its wounds."
Luke Jason struggled against his binds. Raspy breathing filled the space near him as the sound of heavy shuffling drew nearer.
"Don't worry," Sara said, "he's very swift. That's one of the Onca's attributes. He's not like other felines who like to play before their meal. He can kill within seconds."
Luke Jason stopped moving altogether. He had always had a quick mind but this situation had filled his thinking with black fear that left him numb and dumb, and most surprising of all, with a morbid kind of humor.
"Whatever happened to sacrificing virgins?" he asked and his face grimaced painfully.
The two girls laughed.
"That's only in movies," Donna said. "But then, that's to our advantage, too. Can you imagine rounding up one of those in this day and age?"
"Yeah, the Onca only needs flesh and blood," Sara explained softly as though she was discussing the subject with a child. Suddenly she took a step backward. "Let's go, Donna."
Soon Luke Jason was alone with the uncanny noise behind him and the uncertainly of life in front. Suddenly, the great, soulless yellow eyes of the Panthera Onca pushed to within inches of his own and Luke Jason saw the most amazing creature. It was a cat of immense size with glossy black fur and pointed ears. Its mouth yawned open to reveal massive yellowed teeth and the scarlet flesh of interior mouth. Its golden gaze caught Luke Jason's and mesmerized him into a stupor. Then he squeezed his eyes closed and waited and when he suddenly felt the breath, hot and rancid upon his neck, Luke Jason did what every human being counts on in times of extreme horror. He fell into the black hole of oblivion.
Marcus checked his mailbox, retrieved a few unimportant envelopes, shifted his backpack to a more comfortable position and climbed two flights of steps. He hoped Donna had beat him home. Letting her move back in after Luke Jason ran out on him, leaving without a word and owing a half month's rent, had turned out to be okay. Their relationship was solid and loving again. He congratulated himself at his wisdom to forgive her. He let himself inside the apartment.
"What the..." he started.
"Hi there, I'm Tom Jackson from Mississippi." A short, stocky, red faced fellow extended a hand. "It seems your roommate has sublet her space to me. I - I hope it doesn't inconvenience you too much." Marcus shook his head.
"Not again!" Marcus said sourly. "This shit is becoming habit. If I wasn't so crazy about that woman..."
Tom Jackson shuffled his feet uncomfortably.
"She sent a message for you," he said. "She said to tell you that she would drop in for your Saturday night party. She even invited me."
"Yeah, right," Marcus said, "but I need the whole share of your rent up front...before the party. Just in case you don't like what you see."
"Oh, that's one thing we'll have in common," Tom said. "I really go for parties."
Marcus stared at him, then smiled. Carrying his backpack and mail with him, he walked down the hallway and disappeared into his bedroom.© 2000 Barbara Malenky, all rights reserved
Vernal Equinox 2000 Issue, Updated March 15, 2000
BLOOD ROSE is Copyright © M. W. Worthen.