As the blood slowly started to
flow from the infinite rivulets that twisted and entwined their ways across the
neo- Baroque ceiling of the Cathedral of St. Michael Servetus and as it slowly
dripped, its falling impeded by the infinite echoes from a thousand funerals,
six embassy officials, five members of the Flannery O'Connor Brigade, four
Seinkewiczs, three elderly Wilentzes, two Rudmans, one would be saint, one
Rumanian embassy official who had just regained consciousness, two members of parliament,
three attractive young women, and four respectable members of the bourgeois now
understood everything. The Flannery O'Connor Brigade is an organization
of militant Catholics dedicated to the revival of Christianity By Any Means
Necessary. The Murderess of the Order of the Stigmata is Madame Catherine
Jeannette Roget Vovelle, leader of the Canadian branch since the murder of Pr.
Albert Hermann. The Defender of Saint Rose of Lima
is Mary Lightfeathers, alias Miriam Sarahson. The Legionmeister of the
Signet of Saint Luke was Dr. Philippe Roget, first husband of Natasha Wilentz,
skeptic and lecher. The Master of the Marthas, alias the Master and the
Margarita, alias Martha and the Muffins, alias have some Madeira,
my dear, is Ms. Roda Ellen Van P---, alias Pandora Vovelle. The Holder of
the Averroes Seal is "Senator" Nyere Naipaul, whose brother works for
Tanzanian ministry of justice and has special contacts with Prague.
The Flannery O'Connor Brigade bugged the apartment of Elizabeth Concrete and
Vanessa Wilentz because Elizabeth Concrete was born from a virgin and was the
niece of one member and the cousin of another and the second cousin of yet
another member of the Flannery O'Connor Brigade. They asked for the
address of Vivian Chelmnickon because they wished to have him canonized.
The deaths of Senator Pierre Veniot, Veruca Manzoni, Pr. Albert Hermann, Dr.
Oliver Corpse, and Inspector Joseph Tyrone were part of the Compass of Death
set up by Thomas Edward Harding who used a box of dreams from the Parliament of
Gryphons to force them to commit suicide, except for Pr. Hermann, who could not
be forced to do that so instead Harding hypnotized him to open a family heirloom
called a Chinese spice box which Harding had filled with a strychnine
compound. But he did use the box to force Veniot to jump down an elevator
shaft, and when Veniot did so his spectacles fell off and by a complete
coincidence the semen of Franz Wilentz dripped on them as they dripped on them
the same day every year from the elevator of the Castlereagh Hotel and before
them the insurance company for forty-three years since the day forty three
years ago when Peter Wilentz was conceived, and Harding did use the box to
force Veruca Manzoni to kill herself, to take a deep breath on the bridge a
kilometer and a half from Neville Chamberlain
Wharf and them jump in before she
could vomit, loathed by her own lovers who forced pornography in her face and
who was burdened by tens of thousands of innocent Arab Women and Children
murdered in the days when Oswiecim
was just a hick town, and Harding did use the box to make Oliver Corpse,
burdened with Polish treachery and Polish cowardice and Polish foulness at
Teschen and Kielce, and burdened,
very literally, with the weight of the world, to hang himself, except that
Corpse did not succeed the first time, so he had to stuff cyanide that he had
distilled from the wasp insecticide he had bought a few days before when he
entered Amritsar Vistas for the first time and Harding did use the box of
dreams to force Inspector Tyrone, who wrote anonymous letters to Vanessa
Wilentz because he wanted to know that she was happy but he wasn't sure so he
shot himself. But as Harding used the box of dreams he became entangled,
quite unconsciously, in all sort of secret and dark mysteries and special
curses and rancid blood-laden cults from places so dark and mystical and
occluded and evil and sibylline that they only spoke in Conradian run-on
sentences that the bloodpurge was born. And so all the deaths in the
compass of death took place on a Thursday, the day before the Sabbath, except
the last death, which had to take place just as the Sabbath services were
starting and long after the candles had been lit, and Harding had no idea that
by following this pattern and by unconsciously following the suggestions of the
box of dreams he was letting loose the scene for the bloodpurge just as he did
not know the invasion of Medicine Hat by Wallace Stevens loving accountants was
a Jewish warning against the bloodpurge and that if Lucian Rudman or Adrian
Verrall had mentioned the name the Stevenistas could not name, which was, of
course, Franz Kafka, many lives would be saved and the world would be a better,
if much stranger place, just as Harding did not know that the butterflies in
Oliver Corpse's apartment were another warning, just as he did not know that
the appearance of Marinetti, D'Annunzio and Pareto was both a warning and a
premonition, just as the attack of the grand pianos was also both a warning and
a premonition, just as he did not know that the snowballs of acid was a manifestation
of the bloodpurge. And he did not know that his son had borrowed part of
the box of dreams and used it for his own ends and as a consequence of all this
he had been stabbed by his own wife with the dagger of St. Francis of Assisi,
who tried to shift the blame to Lucian Rudman, Ms. Van De P--- and to her own
roommate Vanessa Wilentz, who in turn tried to shift the blame to him, Thomas
Edward Harding, or Edward Thomas Harding, for the one crime he had nothing to
do with. And they all knew that Natasha Wilentz had tried to find out all
this and had left a bit of her soul as a blue bouncing ball that was supposed
to comfort her second husband, but instead comforted his cousin, and his
cousin's best friend, a nervous, neurotic, guilty mathematics student.
And they knew about the marigolds Ms. Van P--- planted in the carpet in her
apartment, and why Madame Vovelle would insult blacks in public, but there were
three things six embassy officials, five members of the Flannery O'Connor
Brigade, four Seinkewiczs, three elderly Wilentzes, two Rudmans, one would be
saint, one Romanian official now fully recovered and fully obnoxious, two
M.P.s, three attractive young women, and four upstanding member of the
bourgeois did not know but desperately wanted to know. First, what was
the conspiracy to kill someone who was already dead? Second, where was
Elizabeth Concrete? Third, what was going to happen as a result of the blood
that was slowly falling from the ceiling of the cathedral of Saint Michael
Servetus, impeded by the infinite echoes of a thousand funerals?
"What's the worst that can happen?" asked Dramsheet.
bloodpurge will begin here, at the holiest point, it will slowly spread, then
accelerate, until seas of blood cover the whole world. As the bloodpurge
spreads people will sicken and die, and their blood will flow out from their
bodies, joining the flood of blood. The canonization of Vivian Chelmnickon
will stop the bloodpurge at once. And we are doing our best to contain
the purge so that it will not flow out of the cathedral. But time is
short; for Chelmnickon to be canonized there is one final test for him to pass."
Angel turned to Constantine,
wincing under the steady trickle of the blood that had thoroughly messed up his
hair. The Angel conjured up a magical parasol, all in yellow with lovely
tassels, which was suspended in the air a meter above his head. The
trickle of blood fell on the parasol, but instead of flowing over it and
turning it red, the blood dissipated as it touched it. Soon the whole
stream appeared increasingly insubstantial, and soon there was nothing there at
all. With another wave of the hand the blood vanished from Constantine's
hair. He sighed in relief, as the angel flew up to the ceiling to
rejoin her comrades.
this ends the bloodpurge?" asked Mrs. Concrete.
"No!" Vivian gasped from the center of the circle.
"Another revelation! I'm seeing a whole world covered in blood, I
see cardinals falling down the steps of the Vatican
as blood flows from all their orifices, I see all the best Paris
stores being flooded with blood, which is viscous, stinking, rotting.
It's so horrible even the toads suffer inside of it, even the vultures weep as
it flows across the African savannah, even the postage stamps of the great
writers weep, as hordes of maggots devour their book linings and the pages fall
into the ever increasing sea. The bloodpurge, it turns alabaster into
stinking brown powders, turns all the ribbons into nooses, and everywhere it
goes it leave stains of rust, of corrosion, of lead. And in this river
there is one woman, utterly triumphant, except she isn't of course, because she
thinks that she has liberated herself of all parents, all countries, all
moralities, all cultures. She'll die horribly of course, but not before
she has had the chance to gloat over the death of the rest of humanity."
"Well that's a pretty picture." muttered Roget. "Can't you
do something more practical?"
Murderess nodded in agreement. "The bloodpurge has merely been dispersed.
When it returns it will return through a human host. It will surge
through a man who is base and cowardly and in his death agony it will spread
throughout the world. Generally blood starts flowing out from all your
orifices. Because this is a consecrated church the blood will only flow
from orifices above your neck, and if we're lucky they will only flow out of
your mouth and not your ears and eyes."
looked into Vanessa's eyes, and was relieved to see that she was still
wondering how to free him from the pillar. Vanessa in turn was looking at
Lucian who did not feel that the liberation of her brother was an overwhelming
priority and who was instead looking at Adrian
and wondering whether it would be a good idea to sleep with him, and whether he
objected to his partners wearing condoms, and Adrian
was staring at his aunt by his uncle's marriage who was so exhausted that she
could only mutter incomprehensible sentences about her husbands and lizards,
preferably chameleons, and her husband was looking back at her, and looking
beyond her at his niece by marriage the Master of the Marthas who was
discussing a sacred text with the Holder of the Averroes Seal who was also
discussing it with the Defender of St. Rose of Lima
who was looking out of the corner of her to the Murderess of the Order of the
Stigmata who was looking out of the corner of her eye and clearly showing her
annoyance at her other daughter who was daydreaming about her father and about
the half-sibling she had never seen but who she would like to see instead of
Mr. Harding, the father of the man who had slept with her so expertly and so
efficiently and so heartlessly, and who was in turn wondering whether he should
start a conversation with Dramsheet, who in his turn was sighing because of Inspector
Monagham who was praying in a very servile and cowardly way and had started
reciting all her confessions, which had begun in a way full of genuinely
obsequious sincerity but had turned into a list of all her sexual conquests,
with particular emphasis on the man who brought doughnuts to the police station,
no emphasis at all on her late superior, and with even some interest in Montserrat,
who was standing a few decimeters away and who Monagham thought indulging in
pointless sex with might be the best way of spending her last moments before
the end of the world, and she would have been very disappointed to learn that Montserrat
had barely noticed her, he was still too worried about Peter, who he kept
staring at, and who of course couldn't stare back because he was unconscious,
but if his eyes had been open he would be able to look straight up into his
mother's eyes, who in turn was looking at her husband, who in turn was looking
at his brother, who was studying the whole phenomenon with considerable
thought, trying desperately to find out why anyone would murder someone who was
already dead, and occasionally looking up to peer at his daughter, who in turn
was staring at her present husband and her previous husband and wondering what she
should do about them, while Roget was looking at the Siamese maid and wondering
whether she could get him a drink since he had realized that what with
preparing Vivian for the sainthood and with kidnapping Peter Wilentz and
preparing Constantine's case as a
devil's advocate he hadn't eaten a single thing all day, but his attempts to
catch the eye of the Siamese maid were completely fruitless because she only
had eyes for the young Thai embassy official, who really was a very handsome
young man, and was only a clerk from a very humble family, who had gotten as
high as he did because the higher officials kept dying of AIDS, or froze to
death in the Ottawa climate, or
said too many honest things too close to Thai generals and who would have
married the beautiful young maid with the elbow length hair from the family
that was almost the same social class (or was it caste?), but who was not
looking at his love at all because he was too busy looking at the splinters at
the Galcyzinski cross, and staring at the official from Peru,
who was looking at the official from Sierra
Leone, who was looking at the official from Syria,
who was looking at the official from Finland
who was looking at the official from Andorra
who was looking at the official from Rumania,
still doubled-over because of the punch the Master had given him and who
realized that everyone else was looking at him, even the angels were looking at
him, as they glimpsed at him from the corners of their eyes, as they sung from
the chorus from the music the Rumanian had never heard of before, had never
imagined had existed before, partly because he had never gone to church back in
are you all looking at me?" he shouted petulantly.
blood purge, you will be the source." said the Syrian.
"Absurd. Superstitious nonsense. You can't believe such
crap. And why would it be me, and not anyone else?"
"Because you are the most cowardly and base of us all."
"Complete drivel. Lies. Slander."
beat Mrs. Seinkewicz when you brought her here."
also tried to rape a page the last time we invited youover to the
embassy." added the Peruvian.
you use your diplomatic immunity to pick up prostitutes, to indulge your desires
with them and then rob their wallets before kicking them out of your Edsel
limousine." added the Sierra Leonian.
you write Jew-baiting articles for the opposition in your spare time."
added the Andorran.
whenever you see someone who might be Jewish and rich you grovel and scrape
yourself before them." concluded the Finn.
"Yes, it's not a very charming habit at all," noted Ignatius.
"This is all an anti-Rumanian plot! Everyone of you are violent anti-Rumanian
"That's not true. We have nothing against your country."
must be crazy then. I couldn't tolerate such weak-willed bastards for a
moment. My fellow countrymen are only good for the whip, whether it's Antonescu
and Ceausescu, it doesn't matter, they're just mindless dogs who have to beaten
into submission! And we give them the whip, and not the guillotine, so we
expect to be well paid for our mercy! And as for those Poles, their shit
doesn't smell sweeter than anyone else's, can't stand those bastards, with
their Catholic snobbery and pretending to be Austrians or even Jews in
disguise, God damn those incompetent fools going off to battle spitshined and
shot by Nazi tanks, dying with 'dignity', the worthless prats, I'd rather kiss
a Nazi ass than be such a fool, worthless swine deserved to be slaughtered as
if they had swine flu and..."
Rumanian official's voice was becoming increasingly coarse and when he reached
the "and" it became so hoarse as to be incomprehensible. And
then the next moment he was coughing up blood, choking himself to death, he
gasped, went into convulsions, suffered paroxysms of agony, and started to die.
Thirty humans, including Harding and, oddly enough, the still unconscious
Peter, could only look with surprise and horror at his death agonies, but
seated on his chair Vivian Chelmnickon leaned over to try to reach the
man. It was a useless gesture, since the two men were too far apart, and
the power of the bloodpurge was too much for the peace that passes all
understanding to intercede. Nothing could stop the Rumanian from dying,
and so he did and as he did so Vivian's eyes welled up with the tears that he
had not cried on the death of his wife.
bloodpurge has surged forth again." announced the Angel. And indeed,
a few decimeters from the Rumanian's corpse, there was another stream of blood
flowing from the roof of the cathedral. It was a very odd stream, because
although it was pouring, it did not make any sound as it did so, and when it
reached the bottom it did not spread across the floor, or more precisely it
spread across only very slowly, thanks to the best efforts of the angels to
"What happens next?" asked Constantine.
moment for Chelmnickon to act has not yet arrived. Until that happens the
bloodpurge will spread and take more victims. All we can do is contain
prayed quietly and recanted all the sins he could think of, Lucian approached
the stream of blood. "Adrian,
dare you to touch this."
"Lucian, don't be stupid." cried Vanessa.
this really blood?" asked Mrs. Concrete. "But it's so red and ugly.
It doesn't look good at all."
"It's not supposed to. It's blood."
it's still ugly." and Mrs. Concrete almost pouted, and reached out to
touch it. Twenty-eight pairs of eyes instantly blinked, and even Ignatius
Wilentz was disconcerted, as she grasped the column. But nothing happened
to her. But something did indeed happen to the column. It was now a
lovely shade of yellow, smelling of daffodils. "How the hell did
that happen?" shouted an incredulous Constantine.
"Well, red is such a nasty color. It'd be much nicer if the blood
were yellow, which happens to be my favourite color."
did it turn yellow?"
"Many things are allowed to virgins who give birth to children." replied
"What's this about virgin birth?" asked Ignatius.
didn't I tell you? An angel came down to me just two weeks before I was
going to get married, and she told me that I was going to have a lovely
daughter. At least, that's what I think she said, I was too busy reading
at the time. If only Elizabeth
were here, I have so much to show her."
"Where the hell is Elizabeth?"
"Presumably she's hiding after murdering Charles." replied Vanessa,
but the Master bade her to be quiet. And indeed, the cathedral was full
of quiet. Lucian raised her foot as high as she could, then stamped it
down on the floor. The sound was strangely muted. Lucian then gave
off a short high-pitched scream that always annoyed Adrian and
Constantine. And it annoyed everyone else as well, but then they realized
that there weren't any echoes in the wide vaults of the cathedral.
"OK, what's going on?"
must be the bloodpurge." said Vanessa.
guessed that much."
you don't understand! Before it kills people it takes away their sounds.
First it removes the echoes and the incidental sounds, like the unbuttoning of
flies, or the undoing of straps or the crackling of knuckles. It removes
all the superfluous sounds, the sounds we don't really need to hear, like the
static and the creaking of typewriters and the whine of mosquitoes. Then
the purge starts attacking our own sounds, it irons out all the annoying
mannerisms in our laughter, our screams, our singing, our breathing. It
attacks our jokes, poisons our memories, starts to cover all our quotidian
activities with an extra layer of lead so that it's harder to remember.
Slowly it removes all our irreverence, all our irresponsible lust, all our pride
and arrogance and vindictiveness and self-pity, and then it takes away our
"What do you mean it takes away our humour? I can still tell
jokes: a rabbi, a cardinal and a pig go into a drug store and ask for
three boxes of condoms. Then they go out again."
"And?" asked Franz Wilentz.
"What do you mean 'and?' Isn't that good enough?"
for Mrs. Concrete everyone was decidedly nervous as the yellow daffodil
smelling column of blood continued to flow, but no one was more nervous than
the embassy officials. Especially nervous was the Andorran, who suddenly
threw away the elaborate net gun. "I have an idea. We all brought
you here, but I don't see any reason why we should stay here. I propose
that all of us officials throw our weapons away and then we make a run for
"No!" ordered the Master. "You cannot outrun the
bloodpurge. You must stay here for your own safety!" But the
Andorran didn't listen, he threw away a firearm, and raced towards one of the
exits. But he was instantly stopped by an unknown force, fell to the
ground, and started coughing up blood. In less than ninety seconds he was dead.
"With each death the bloodpurge becomes more powerful. The next
death will follow shortly after this one."
I don't want it to." said Mrs. Concrete. "That would be sad and
horrible and it shouldn't have to happen. Can't it be nicer like when I
was a child?" And with a thought she turned the pillar of blood
"What's that new smell?" asked Seinkewicz.
smells like bleach." said Adrian.
"No," said the Master. "It's shampoo."
the cathedral was filled with the scent of shampoo, shampoo wine, shampoo coffee,
and shampoo fishcakes. The aroma of 4-H calendars, of tiny school
districts and cardboard crowns with aluminum foil for Advent pageants suffused
the whole building. They all started remembering things that they had
never experienced: skating parties with furtive urinations, decaying tree
houses, the television listings that had only two channels, sewing tips in the
local paper beside a borrowed editorial for our friends in Katanga.
And for the first time the blood actually made noise, the fine happy noise that
Mrs. Concrete remembered when she first heard the air conditioning installed in
her house, calm days in August 1958 where the thought of nuclear war was
completely absent from her mind. And she particularly liked the shade; it
was the color of dying lilacs, or sick pansies. And it was proper shade
for blood to be, the sort of shade you should have when you bruised your knees,
and had little cuts, not that messy red stuff, that left nasty stains and worse
memories; the blood was the sort of shade that would fit very nicely in Thomas
Costain novels, a writer who knew when to be discrete and reserved, and not
have all those hysterical viciousness reserved just for those Toronto
literaturs. And just as the din of the pillar's air conditioning blue
blood was beginning to give everyone else a headache, Mrs. Concrete decided
that it would be a really nice idea if the blood was now green. Montserrat,
who was standing closest to the pillar, was almost asphyxiated by the smell of
sterile air-fresheners, of gasoline station scratch and sniffs, of children's
odoramas. The other twenty-five people were confronted by the stench of
evergreens, of the proud trees whose smell had been manufactured, mass-produced
and pre-fabricated into convenient little perfume bottles. They could see
the badly manufactured children's paint kits, whose paints all turned to mud so
very easily and in which the paints weren't even solidly kept in the holes, but
still a few pretty things were created before the artists were suffocated with
patronizing love. And there were the sounds, the sounds of ineffective bug
zappers being fed flies by sadistic children, the sounds of cement churners,
and of robins waking up troubled sleeps with shrill cries. The sounds
that twenty-five people heard, listening to the Presbyterian church, as verses
from such books as James, Jude, Philippians, Proverbs and Obadiah, were torn
from their roots and were flying through the air and were being recited to
happy parishioners with all the sententious and sincerity and profundity of
Chinese fortune cookies. And as these smells and sights and sounds filled
the cathedral of St. Michael Servetus, Mrs. Concrete danced. Or at least
she tried to dance; actually as she didn't know and as her husband never
bothered to teach her she just hopped up and down and flung her arms about as
if she were trying to play hopscotch but had forgotten the rules. But now
Mrs. Concrete was seriously wondering whether it would be a good idea to turn
the pillar orange, the colour of peaches that were slightly overripe but which
she still liked to eat anyway. It reminded her of picnics where her
father who was not her father never suggested that she leave her parents and go
running around over the next hill, preferably for half an hour. Clearly
the father not her father must really be her father after all, because the
father who was her father but not really her father would do just that sort of
thing to his two daughters. She remembered Elizabeth's
first dresses, which were also orange, when she was still fat, before she
became an unusually beautiful girl, and she remembered all her favorite dolls
were dressed in orange clothes, even though many of them were actually white,
or red, or even black or checkerboard green. But before she could do
anything the Finnish official started to cough and clear his throat. It
was only when everyone was looking at him, that he realized how purple he was.
suppose I'm to be the third victim." And he tactfully turned his back,
and took out the handkerchief that all fashionable Finnish embassy officials
were supposed to wear, and he took out the ugly notebook where he kept track of
all his finances, and he stuffed the notebook in his mouth, and wrapped the
handkerchief around his face. Then he lay down on his stomach, with his
hands behind his back, and then he quietly died, leaving only a small stain in
the handkerchief that could be easily washed out.
interesting." said Dramsheet. "Only people to whom we have no emotional
attachment whatsoever have died. If we follow this pattern, it will be
safe to assume that the four remaining embassy officials will die next."
"What?" said the Siamese maid.
"That would imply that I will die next." said the Syrian
official. "Since I am not even close to my fellow embassy officials,
either here or in the Syrian embassy. After all, I spend most of my time
doing the accounts and writing press releases on Syrian Jewry."
"Yes, that would make sense." agreed Dramsheet. "The four
embassy officials would die, and then so would the maid, because only the
Master cares about her, and then probably Montserrat
would go afterwards, because he's only Wilentz's secretary, and..."
"Couldn't we think of something more practical than predicting which of us
dies first?" asked Constantine.
But then they were all looking at the pillar. It had turned red again,
and Mrs. Concrete's efforts to wish it into some other color were not
succeeding. But the pillar was still making a sound, a strange series of
"It's an iron maiden." announced Lucian. "I once visited London
and went to a museum that had one. That's the sound they make when you
open and close the doors. I think that quiet undertone is the sound
people make when they're screaming, but that could just be my
imagination. Oh, and I think that sound is a thumbscrew." But
nobody needed her to tell them what the next sound was, for everyone recognized
the sound of the spring of a gallows' trapdoor. Twenty-six people looked
up to the angels flying above their heads, and to Vivian Chelmnickon praying in
the circle, when the Syrian Official died. It was very quick, very
sudden, quite painless, and his death was even more polite than the
Finn's. "It would appear that we are now going to die very
suddenly." noted Dramsheet.
mean we won't have time to put our affairs in order?" asked the Sierra
Leonian. "You know the one thing I've always regretted in my life in
the consular service is the fact that no-one knows which country I come from.
If you've seen one black, starving, miserable, illiterate country full of
corrupt bureaucrats and idiotic monetarists, full of female circumcision and
ethnic rivalry, apparently you've seen them all. So I often meet people
who have to take out maps just to know where I come from, and my country is
often misplaced in the north, the south, or the east. (It's really in the
west.) I suppose I have no reason to complain, the same thing happened to
Eastern and Central European countries two generations before me, and with all
sorts of Latin American countries as well. And in a way, it does put the
horrific civil war that is going to break out after I die in a better
perspective. Yes there will be the most horrible atrocities and crimes,
but as a result many Europeans and Americans will show some interest in my
country. Thousands of people will spend actual minutes thinking about my
unfortunate nation. But learning that I'm going to die, that I am nothing
more than a cog in everyone else's machines..."
he stopped, with his mouth wide open, and for a moment everyone thought that he
had died, but in fact he was just pausing for effect and couldn't figure out
the next word. Then he discovered it, but before he could say it, he
collapsed and fell to the floor, with blood flowing quietly from his lips.
I supposed to say that much before I die?" asked the Peruvian.
"I do not think I can talk that long. My English is not good.
Were it not for my perfect French, I would never have been a consular official
at all." But then he doubled-over in pain, vomited a cup of blood,
and fell to the floor, dead.
would appear that you are to be next." Dramsheet said to the Siamese
official. "If it is any consolation at all, it will be a very quick death.
Based on a series of admittedly crude calculations you should be quite dead in
less than thirty-six seconds."
I don't want him to die quickly!" shrieked the maid. "I want
him to die as slowly as possible. Seconds, minutes, days even
years. I want the bloodpurge to take fifty years to kill him, to jiggle
all his organs and arteries, because the longer he takes to die, the more time
I'll have to smother him with kisses, the more time I can laugh with him, the
more time I can dance with him, though since he would be on his back it would
have to be a horizontal sort of dance, and even if he is so ill that he has to
stay in an impromptu coffin I could cover it with wonderful creepers that I've
never seen and sweet-smelling tropical flowers that I've also never seen.
And we could get married and we could have children and I could sing to him,
even though my mistress says I don't know how, at least I could learn, I could tickle
his bloody bleeding body so that he would always be laughing, and the children
could play tic-tac-toe nearby and so that every minute of his dying would be
full of pleasure, and he wouldn't know he was dying at all."
are not going to get your wish." And as the Thai official looked at
his fingernails, he saw slow trickles of blood flowing from underneath. And
then his arms seized up in a cramp so painful that his whole face grimaced.
"No! Please don't die! Mistress, please help me! I don't
want him to die!"
something else happened. "The bloodpurge will now shower flashes of
pain to the people who are about to die." announced the Defender.
And indeed they did, but the first victim of the pain flashes was not Monagham
who was busy confessing all the details of her yesterday tryst with the man who
delivered the doughnuts, and it was not Montserrat, who
was wondering whether he would be punished for sneering at Peter Wilentz.
It was not even Peter Wilentz himself, still blissfully, though not absolutely,
unconscious. Instead, the first person to be attacked was Rebekah
Wilentz, who was so shocked by the pain that she fell over backwards and caused
Peter's head to hit the floor, which roused him awake.
Wilentz desperately, and uselessly, tried to alleviate his wife's pain while
the maid tried to do something to help the Thai official, now the only embassy
official left, as he had fallen to the floor and a slow subtle stream of blood
flowed out of the left corner of his mouth. The maid screamed for help,
and when the Master did not come to her aid, she screamed louder and louder in
order to compensate. Then Montserrat felt a
agonizing pain in his right calf, and limped around in agony, while Monagham
felt that her breasts were on fire. A sudden spasm shook through Lucian,
then through Adrian, then through
Aquilla, and then through Giles. And to Vivian it was so suddenly clear,
the bloodpurge would kill everyone in the room, it would kill the Thai, and
then his lover for her affections, and then Roget for his treachery, then Giles
for his impotence, then Natasha for her sorcery, then Ignatius for his
skepticism, then Franz for his uxoriousness, then Rebekah for her uxoriousness,
then Peter for his tyranny, then Montserrat for his servility, then Monagham
for her lust, then Dramsheet for his chastity, then Aquilla for her
gullibility, then the Murderess for her pride, then the Defender for her lies,
then the Holder for his apologies, then the Master for her blood-guilt, then
John for his adultery and the whores, then Avare for not accepting the adultery
and the whores, then Adrian for his silliness, then Lucian for her shallowness,
then Vanessa for her wrath, and then finally Constantine Rudman, tied and
bounded to the pillar with piano wire from the piano that had crushed and
killed his wife, then Constantine for his all-consuming weakness and the guilt
that destroys all understanding. That would leave only five angels flying
up above them saying unknown prayers in the language of God, leave only him
sitting in the circle, and Mrs. Concrete, who didn't have a clue to what was
going on. Vivian blinked. The bloodpurge was actually conflicted
over whether to kill Harding between Dramsheet and Aquilla or ignore him
the head Angel materialized by his side. "Look." And
Vivian looked and saw that the pillar of blood was not simply red, not simply making
the sound of the trapdoors of gallows, and was not simply vanishing when it hit
the floor, but that the blood was a special shade of noxious red, filled with
carbon dioxide, and waste fluids and strange magnified bacteria, and that the
blood also made the hiss of execution chambers, of electric chairs and
guillotines, and now he could clearly hear the screams that previously Lucian's
morbid imagination only thought she heard, and as the screams grew louder and
louder, Vivian realized that the blood was pouring across the floor.
Indeed, it had covered the officials, indeed, the Finnish official's attempt to
die with dignity by stuffing his notebook in his jaw so that he would stop the
blood from flowing out his mouth, was now completely useless as his whole body,
from hair to dead skin to fine Finnish clothes was as red as the rubies that
Vivian saw in the Warsaw museum in the August before the Nazis invaded.
And it was not enough that the blood defaced its corpses, it mutated them as
well, the Syrian who had died with such quiet had his clothes burned off with
the acid of the bloodpurge and had been given three extra sets of genitalia on
his corpse, one the shape of a crab, while the Rumanian's body now looked like
an impaled mosquito, with blood flowing everywhere from its crushed body.
And as the Thai official kept bleeding, as the screams of the blood grew louder
and louder, as more blood flowed from his body than it was thought possible to
possess, and as his lover kept screaming but was drowned out by the screams of
the blood, the four other Angels floated down from the vault and Vivian stared
into their eyes.
Avatar approaches. The bloodpurge must have a human instrument to serve
its destructive ends. The Avatar approaches, the avatar who shows all the
spite and evil and hate and lust of all the world and who uses it for the ends
of the bloodpurge. She comes, she arises, after having hid herself from
the eyes of men, she comes to wreck havoc on the angels of the Lord, she comes
to destroy all your friends, she comes to help destroy all life and all its
beauty, in the name of beauty, in the name of life." And all the
people in the cathedral who were not either dead or in extreme pain turned toward
the entrance and heard a hideous, cruel laugh as Elizabeth Concrete came in to
welcome her relatives and friends.
paused, laughed again, and then walked across the blood covered floor, leaving
little prints with her bare feet. Although it was twenty degrees below freezing
outside, she was almost naked, but this did not affect her in the least.
Her face was smeared with an evil-coloured lipstick that she had mixed with her
husband's blood, while more blood and spit drooled down her lips, and down her
body, smeared with her own shit, with obscene pictures drawn with her own
mascara, her hands were smeared with the sperm of oysters, and her nails were
blood red, as long as Mandarin officials, and as sharp as razors while her hair
had grown impossibly long, down almost to her ankles, as yellow as tuberculosis
(or consumption) with splotches of mud and dirt and tangled robin's nests,
while around her neck was a necklace of small combs, empty lipstick cases,
eyelash brushes, caps to "cute" pen sets, broken mirrors whose edges
jabbed her skin, smashed perfume bottles, and wizened shampoo containers.
The whole effect reminded everyone of a necklace of skulls. And indeed,
there were bracelets around her wrists that she made when the seagulls came
down to find her absolutely motionless under a fire escape twelve hours
earlier, who were attracted to her, and whose necks she broke, and whose blood
she drank and whose bones she used to make the bracelets. She had burned
the clothes she had worn when she left the apartment early in the morning after
hiding the Dagger of St. Francis of Assisi
where it would be easily found, and around her bosom was a peculiar bra.
It did not cover her nipples, nor was it intended to, but even if it had, it
would have been to no purpose, because as she trod in the ever increasing
puddle made by the pillar of blood, she danced; a dance of all the vile Voodoo
and all the Kali cults, a dance of whoredom and death, no a dance that no
Voodoist no Kalist and no Satanist could ever recapture or recapitulate, that
no death cult had ever seen before and would never seen again, a cult in which
she exposed every inch of her body to the shocked crowd, in which she shit and
menstruated, and once she pulled out a human skull from her own womb and used
it to drink the blood from the pillar of blood, the screaming noxious blood,
before she smashed it on the floor and used the jagged edges to cut off two of
the deceased Syrian's superfluous genitalia and crushed them and smeared the
bloody paste over her breasts, which were not covered by the peculiar bra,
which were made of some of the seagull's feathers, and bookjackets of Germaine
Greer and Margaret Atwood, and used sanitary napkins, and daggers sharper even
that the dagger of St. Francis of Assisi, and the pelt of a rat she had
skinned, and she continued to dance and around her waist was a skirt, which
also did not hide her private parts, which was made with more sanitary napkins,
with unloosed necklaces of ill-tasting candy cigarettes, of burned out butts,
of toy water-pistol rings, of all the cheap jewelry from her eight year old
rings to bad fake emeralds and preposterous rubies which weren't even the right
colour, right down to her wedding ring, which she had somehow melted by unknown
processes and which she scrunched in her left hand leaving a hideous scar like
an octopus, right down to her gaudy yellow earrings, which she had ripped out
of her own earlobes and only now did everyone see the scars, the skirt that was
made of ripped up petticoats, and rumpled announcements for proms used as
toilet paper, and the old Christian comics her mother had given her, which were
either smeared with shit or crudely redrawn with obscene phalluses and
gargantuan breasts, and government announcements on the need for constitutional
renewal, and it was also made with a human scalp and a human finger, because
she had sneaked back to Oakeshott Funeral Homes and had scalped her own husband
in his own coffin and when the assistant funeral director saw this she bit off
his left little finger before tearing open his throat, and the skirt was also
made with a whip made from the electrical cord made from her brand new hair
dryer, and with an old teddy bear with the plastic eyes gouged out, and with
the old matchstick chairs ripped to pieces and strewn along following her every
undulation. And then she stopped the dance, reached once more into her
womb, and drew something out.
have the box of dreams." And she gave a hideous mad giggle, as she lifted
up the box and poured out the final ounces of impotent sand on to the floor,
before she dropped it (and she gave another hideous giggle) and it fell to the
floor, breaking into pieces, and with the cover no longer shimmering or shining
or anything else. "I have drunken this box to the dregs, I have gorged
myself on all its contents, and I have been given the power of life and death, and
death and life, by the secrets of its knowledge I have been given dominion over
all things. I am the creatrix, the avatar, the eternal whore, and the
destroyer of all things. From my womb comes all life, and now all death
shall come from it. From my wombs comes the eternal bloodpurge and from
it I shall destroy you all, save for a few."
very interesting." said Ignatius.
even the angels, even the dying Siamese embassy official turned to look at
Ignatius, and so did Elizabeth.
This was not the reaction that she had expected, but Ignatius continued
anyway. "Yes, it's very interesting. The bloodpurge as a
metaphor for menstruation. And that you, born from a virgin, should be
its agent. What will totalitarianism think of next? There must be a
perfectly logical explanation for all this and if I think for a few minutes I'm
going to find it."
are you, little Jew?" asked Elizabeth
in a voice that had lost all of its humanity.
my name is Ignatius Wilentz, I happen to be the uncle of the woman you are
trying to frame for the murder you committed last night. Incidentally I'm
not a little Jew, I'm about a decimeter or two taller than you are, and you are
rather tall for your sex. Anyway, I must say I find you quite
fascinating, obviously the gothic elements are grotesquely overdone, which
means the true horror is going to come in the near future. I think the
conspiracy to kill..."
before Ignatius could continue any further, Elizabeth
slashed his right arms and the top of his chest with her razor sharp
nails. His clothes protected him from the worst, but she drew blood
regardless. Franz tried to help his brother, but a glance from the Avatar
was enough to force him to the ground writhing in convulsions, joining his
dying wife, and their confused son. Monagham grabbed the firearm that the
Andorran had tossed aside and tried to shoot the Avatar down, but then her own
limbs suddenly collapsed, and she found herself firing a bullet into each of
her legs. Elizabeth reached
the maid and grabbed her from the side of her love, ripped off her shirts and
threatened to slit her throat, as the pool of blood spread across the floor of
"That is enough." said the Master, armed with the dagger of St.
Francis of Assisi. But before
she could kill the Avatar, Elizabeth
twisted her arm around and almost snapped it off. She grabbed the dagger,
and to the Master's shock, broke it to pieces. But now her immediate
homicidal frenzy was behind her, and she did not notice Natasha and Roget pick
up some of the pieces and sneak their way to the pillar where Constantine
was tied. "Hello mother, hello father in-law, I killed my husband
last night, I used my key to get into the apartment, and when I did I was
wearing the Master's Lucian Rudman costume. Of course he wasn't fooled
for a minute, he knew it was me, and when I unbuttoned my coat, and my vest and
the two shirts and pulled up the undershirt and removed the special cummerbund
that kept my breasts in check, well he couldn't resist, and while he was
fondling them, while he was getting hard, while he was licking my nipples, I
stabbed him through the heart with the dagger of St. Francis of Assisi, and
then tonight I cut off his scalp, it's what's hanging around my bottom.
And I don't mind a bit, I'm going to kill you all, the bloodpurge will kill you
all. Hello Aquilla, you're responsible for all this, if you had kept your
mouth shut, your sister wouldn't have sent anonymous letters to me, and I
wouldn't have complained to my husband, and he wouldn't have slapped me, and I
wouldn't have had to kill him." And then she used her nails to rip
off half her dress and began to carve on her belly The cunt of this dead whore
belongs to. Adrian and Lucian tried to stop her, but Elizabeth
grabbed them and with one hand each hoisted them two feet into the air and
slowly choked them to death. Satisfied with their purple faces, she let
them go and she took the whip she had made with the electrical cord and grabbed
Montserrat from the place where he had been hiding, and
slashed his face with it, before gouging his left calf with her nails.
Aunt Catherine, I'm just here to tell you that both your daughters are going to
die, and while I'm not going to waste my nails on a old sack of bones like you,
what do you think of necrophilia? And Aunt Avare, what a pathetic old
woman you are, you're going to die, and you're going to go straight to hell,
but before that I think I'll let you see your son die horribly in
agony." And now Giles joined the others writhing in agony on the
floor, and so did Roget, while Elizabeth
approached the helpless Constantine.
She exhaled into his face, a breath of ashes and heat and abattoirs,
"Hello Constantine, I can give you so much more than your stupid
Vanessa. I can make you as hard as concrete, and then I can smash you to
pieces with a sledgehammer. Wouldn't you much prefer screwing me, than
that vapid she-male Jewess, who kicks people in the shins like an immature
brat. I can give you so much more, and I can take so much more. And,
oh Vanessa, don't think I've forgotten you. If you had told everyone about
the dagger you found in your cutlery drawer there would have been a report out
on me and I would never have been made queen of the bloodpurge and you would
never have the blood of a poor assistant funeral director on your head.
Of course, it's so reassuring that an envious, spiteful Jewess like yourself
with wizened breasts and flaking skin should come to the defense of her
beautiful and dashing gentile friend. And you're going to get your
reward: think of poor Constantine,
he's so much weaker and servile and pathetic than you are, so you must be
really pathetic to have him be the man in your life. And don't ever try
to say that you don't love him, and he doesn't love you, because of course you
do, because whenever Constantine
has sex with someone he loves and who loves him back, he falls down with a
brief spell of pneumonia. It's perfectly horrible, and if you were ever
to get married, you have to spend your honeymoon in a hospital, or better yet a
mortuary. I'd love to see that."
don't deserve to have a friend like Vanessa," spat out Constantine.
think you can judge me like I was a mere mortal?"
foolish of you. Fortunately you're going to die. Not right away, of
course, I'll save you for later, the first thing we have to do is kill this
stupid chink official. I think he's thrown up more blood than belongs to
the entire Canada Council, but he won't survive upchucking his vital organs.
I think we'll start with his pancreas, and work our way up. Why don't you
get out of the way you stupid maid-slut, this is going to get messy."
Chelmnickon speaking. "Oh yes, the saint. I completely forgot about
you. You haven't been doing much have you? After you've been canonized
and after all this is over, why don't we go to Poland.
It all be full of corpses like everywhere else, you know the blood mutates
people as it changes, I think I'll have the blood turn everyone into ichneumon
wasps, they're the species where the babies eat their mothers from inside, and perhaps
they could all sodomize each other, and they could do it on all the high
altars, and when we get there we could do it doggie style right on the Katyn
are a stupid and senseless woman, and I shan't reply to your pathetic
ravings. Your fantasies are as meretricious as they are sadistic, behind
your desire to cause hurt and pain there does not even lie an imagination to do
evil, simply a recapitulation of mass cult horrors. You can only kill
people and you can only torture people because you do not have the emotional
substance to cause any deeper pain. Throughout your life you have
despised the parents who loved you, betrayed the friends who cared for you, and
murdered the only man who ever loved you. You tried to frame Lucian
Rudman, Pandora Vovelle and Vanessa Wilentz for your crimes, and you are now
going to murder dozens of people you do not know and who have never done you
the slightest bit of harm. Only a completely mindless person could inflict
such suffering, and I, for one, refuse to see anymore of it. In the name
of the Lord our God, I absolve Vanessa Wilentz of her sins, and in the name of
the Lord, I shall see no more suffering here. I wash my hands of you."
that he turned away and then the Holder rose from the sight unseen where he had
hidden. Before Elizabeth
could turn her head to see what was happening to her the Holder took out a
giant cloak and wrapped it around her. When he lifted up his arms again
the half-naked woman with the ankle-length hair no longer existed.
Instead, Elizabeth was wrapped in
the cloak of an auto-de-fe, the seagull bone bracelets had been turned to adamantine
bonds chaining her hands together behind her back. Her hair had vanished,
no it had been cut off, fell to the floor and vanished like dust off a
corpse. The evil and hate and passion and the lipstick and the blood and
the shit were no longer there; there was only a vacant stare as Elizabeth
watched the Defender of St. Rose of Lima
approach her. The Defender placed a rubber cap on her three center right
fingers, and took out a vial of holy hydrochloric acid that she had taken from
the Master. As she unscrewed the cap, the Holder pulled a long stretch of
piano wire from out of his sleeve.
Defender spoke: "Elizabeth Concrete Harding, you are a murderer and
a whore, and you must pay the price. Before your execution, however, you
will receive the final services of the Roman Catholic Church."
"What are you doing to her?" asked Constantine.
"Shhh." hissed Natasha, who was trying to use a piece of the dagger to
cut the piano wire binding him to the pillar.
"Elizabeth Concrete Harding, I shall be your godmother, even though I am
younger than you; and the Holder shall be your godfather, even though you have
never met him."
Siamese embassy official screamed horribly.
Pillar! Look at the Pillar!" cried Dramsheet, as half a dozen other
pillars of blood manifested themselves.
order to save time, the service in which we pledge our duties to you will be
"What are you doing to her?" cried Vanessa.
is going to be garroted." said the Master.
"Serves her right." added Aquilla.
Holder dipped her rubber covered finger in the holy hydrochloric acid, then moved
to touch Elizabeth. "I
baptize you, Elizabeth Concrete..."
"Wait a moment." said Ignatius.
"Father, what's happening to you?" pleaded Peter.
"Help Rebekah!" screamed Franz.
dying!" yelled Rebekah.
wrapped the wire around Elizabeth's
"Stop them, they're going to kill my daughter!"
"...in the name of the father..."
"Somebody help Adrian!"
Bloodpurge is spreading!" yelled Montserrat.
"Chelmnickon!" shouted Ignatius. "Listen to me!"
God! I'm bleeding!" screeched Monagham.
"Chelmnickon, the conspiracy to kill someone who is already dead..."
"...and the son..."
"This is the apotheosis of the saints!" cried Madame Vovelle.
Seinkewicz gurgled and sputtered.
wife! She's dying!"
don't understand any of this at all." said Harding.
bloodpurge will flow over the earth and consume us all."
"Don't listen to her, Chelmnickon. The conspiracy. Your wife
was the victim..."
"Somebody save my daughter!"
"Somebody help me!" begged the maid.
"...and the Holy Ghost."
"...and you are the murderer!"
Holder began to pull the wire in opposite directions...
next: Conclusion: The Holy Orgy
previous: The Truth Behind the Compass
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