If easily shocked, look away now!
Rabid fingers scrape in fear, tearing at the earth. She cannot see. She cannot hear.
It is moist in here. Wetness seeps into her shroud. She shifts, releasing muscles from their pain, and begins again. Rolling soil between bloody thumbs and flaking oak, she works at her container. There are holes. The space fills slowly with crumbling rot. It tickles her face in the airless cavity.
Carlotta Borgia cannot raise her head without it rap, rap, rapping on the solid lid. Blood, still soft is crusting. It clots in the fine hairs of her thick brows; a consequence of manic butting and smashing – when first she opened her eyes.
So long ago now. So long.
Her breath is laboured where once it screamed in blind terror. Pale silk shoes are ripped apart and tattered. Her toenails are broken and torn where kicking failed to gain escape.
In this thin, tight place, Carlotta rests momentarily, her energy lagging. In the weighty silence – a scritch, a scratch. It is next to her ear. It is inside her box.
It touches her.
The panic is unimaginable. She cannot help but flail and howl. Her limbs twist; they spasm. Her knees hit the hilt. Her face smashes against the sides of her prison.
Dirt cascades through the shattered casket. It falls heavily onto her thighs. It covers her belly. Skin rips away from her bones as her hands tear at the splintering, wooden shards. Her mouth is open, sucking in mulch. She chokes on putrid dust. Something alive squirms against her bare cheek. She grabs at the thing, keeps grabbing at it until she wears a wound into her face. Is it still a pretty face, she wonders? Are my cheeks still rosy pink?
In desperate fear she pushes, keeps pushing, keeps going up and up and up and up and…
Carlotta scuttles across the crypt floor; new strength in every sinew. She stops at a column carved with creeping ivy and surveys her surroundings. The Borgia crest is everywhere. Her ancestors lie here by the dozen. Faded, mummified corpses in ornate coffins; pointless sepulchres.
Madness shines like twilight in her pale eyes. She stands, strips of cotton hanging from translucent flesh, hands clawed at her sides. She waits.
Europe’s mausoleums hide the trusty and the famous. London’s ancient gothic tunnels house the guilty and the heinous, with all their bad behaviours. Living or not. This distant branch of dynastic Borgias, malevolence incarnate, fled northern Italy to settle in England’s fair lands - generation after generation excommunicated, as their demonic practises went on and on.
Once upon a time, once upon a time...
His voice slices through the cold. Carlotta shudders in anticipation, and he is there. The grey wraith wraps around his virgin bride. Blue lips run down her wiry neck, lingering at the taut throat. Spiny fingers creep through Carlotta’s hair. She smiles. Her brother laps at her face, tastes her death. He licks the bruises of her punctured cheeks. He slips a hand between emaciated legs, and crawls up to her garden.
She flinches. A residue of human dignity, a wrack of wrong desire.
Too late. It happens so fast.
Satiated, frothing with forbidden lust they lie upon the chill flagstone floor.
‘Is it time?’
Brother and sister, reflections of Cesare and Lucrezia stand together. The velvet of night penetrates the cell through iron-clad windows; orifices of the soul.
The locked door opens without keys, and the Borgias roam out into its darkness.
Carlotta runs a wet, pink tongue over fresh, sharp teeth. She brings her own wrist up to her ruby lips and nicks gently at the blackened vein.
Pietro steps forward, quickly.
‘I know you hunger. I feel your craving. Come with me.’
They move towards the plagued city, into its parklands swimming with debauch. At its edge Pietro slits himself open for her. She drinks, ravenous until he must push her mouth away. He tugs at her coiled, golden hair – already thick with regrowth. She comes away with regret, orgasm playing between her legs.
Lights sprinkle in the ancient trees; subtle candles – flaming calling cards; smoky cheroots. Men and girls and boys and women; pulsing, throbbing, shaking together.
Carlotta slavers at the vision before her. Here lies her future, ripe for the plucking. She hears Pietro’s words of warning.
‘Be careful. They must not discover you.’
But the scenes of frenzied whoredom are too much. On all fours she scampers up the nearest elm, bare-footed, fingernails fully reformed – sharp, hard, pointed. She hangs from a weighty branch, watching, waiting to pounce.
Right below, Pietro is already drinking at the neck of a pulpous doxy. Her hair is red and her skin is pale and her syphilis will not touch him, pure as he is. He casts his eyes up at keen Carlotta. She shakes her head. She wants her own.
A whistle squeals in the distance. Couples or more break apart. They run, hiding from the peelers. But it’s just a warning. The fornicators soon finger and fumble their way back into the pleasure gardens.
Carlotta Borgia slips down the tree, the trunk firm between her thighs. She falls, silent to the ground and walks away, her footsteps soundless on the woodland floor.
A honeyed voice calls out at Carlotta’s side. Squatting, pissing furiously is the most beautiful creature she has ever seen. Carlotta laughs out loud and wipes away a spittle of desire with the back of her hand. She smells the woman’s musk; tastes the pearly dewdrops of the evening’s suitors in her aura.
‘Int’ya cold?’ the girl asks, stuffing her clothes back into place. Carlotta smiles widely for the first time in a very long while. She doesn’t speak, but nods her head and looks up under long eyelashes; eyes grey, lunar. The girl, for all her nightly trade is drawn by the strange Exotica standing before her. It would not be the first time she has lain with another woman; it will not be the last, she believes.
They come together. Without otherwise touching, their mouths meet.
Carlotta is strong now. Her hands rip at the prostitute’s dress, wanting the body beneath. Their tongues fight, their hands pour over each other. The girl starts to squirm as her lover pushes her down onto the grass. But Carlotta is sucking at her already – her mouth, her throat, her breasts. She straddles her victim, needing no second lesson from Pietro. Forcing the girl’s chin back hard, Carlotta exposes the fleshy white throat.
She licks her lips, ignoring the vague squeals coming from the mouth beneath her hand. She falls on the throbbing artery above the girl’s naked shoulder.
Pistoning blood sprays into the air as Carlotta bites down hard. They are smothered. Sticky red liquid, black in the dark of night soaks them through to the skin. The outcast Borgia girl drinks her fill until the waning flow finally ebbs away.
Seeking out the young woman’s mouth with bloodstained fingers, Carlotta wipes a blooming rose of glossy crimson across her lips. Cool now, she kisses them just once more, and sucks gently on the tongue until the very last breath escapes. Carlotta quivers. She spasms as the girl dies in her mouth.
‘We must go.’
Carlotta looks up lazily at her brother. She rolls off the body, onto her side. Pietro surveys his younger sister, unsmiling.
‘You are… too powerful.’ He says. ‘Too needy. No wonder they buried you deep within the ground.’ He pulls Carlotta to her feet, and strokes her porcelain face. ‘We must leave. Find another home.’
For that night, at least, they return to their bed in the Borgia Mausoleum. Dark is the night. Cold is the night.
Pietro leads Carlotta to an alcove. A wide coffin of blackest ebony lies upon a marble slab behind a heavy door. It closes as they enter the room together.
‘Come, my love. Let us sleep.’
Carlotta lies down on the cushioned, tapestried fabric; its strange images weft with strands of gold. She watches her brother as he prays to a darker God. She waits for him to join her.
On their sides, wrapped together, slumber rapidly takes claim.
Carlotta waits again.
Quickly, Pietro’s breath stills; it almost stops. Carlotta strokes her brother’s face, runs her fingers through his sleek, black hair.
‘Thank you’ she whispers, her mouth upon his neck.
Carlotta Borgia smiles, forever.
© Lily Childs October 2009