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  • R. S. Lachrymose

The Summoning (Rectory II)

The woman danced, first lovingly, then violently with tears whipped from her eyes as she thrashed and moaned, as one calling out to a lover. She wore a silken blouse with a small half-cape draped about her shoulders. The blouse opened up to form a front and rear of a dress, with sides open, likely to allow her movement for her ballet of passion. Intricate silver embroidery clung to the edges of her dress. Atop her head rested a crude device: a metal crown holding seven candles and a thin veil, akin to a bride's on her wedding day. Hot wax dripped on her body during her graceful movements and was flung across the room during the uncontrollable.

Adding to her dance, and accentuating her lithe movement, was a wicked, thorned whip in hand. It swung in supple arcs through the air and she controlled it masterfully. Despite the thorns, she twisted and wrapped around herself, only to unleash it, like a curled spring. Convinced this must be some form of self-flagellation, which I'd seen too well from the deceptively pious, I winced at each thorn's brush against her exposed skin. Yet rather than deter her, it only seemed to embolden her writhing, leaving only the small scrap where I expected a gash.

Initially, her dance was punctuated with moments of graceful slowness between the raucous. As she continued, there were fewer and fewer, her reverie becoming faster and faster as it reached its crescendo. So too did her moans and chanting, for now I heard her saying, no crying: "Lamia, Lamia!"

She threw herself to her knees, head back so the wax dripped down her back. Then bowing, the wax now coating her front. Casting aside her whip, I looked on in horror as her garment, thin though it was, began to smolder. I had seen immolation before. Often as a display of devotion, perhaps more to convince others than their gods they worshipped. The ultimate sacrifice to gods who have need of nothing. Despite my fear of this strange place, I lurched up to shout a warning but the breath caught in my throat. Arms outstretched, the sheer dress of this Priestess exploded vehemently around their master they had been protecting just before.

A wave of heat and a flash of light, my body thrown back, shaken to its core. I scrambled to hands and knees to come to the aid of this poor worshipper, futile though it was. The Priestess remained arms out, unscathed and unashamed in her new nakedness. Crown of metal and whip cast aside. Seeing her unharmed would have sent me into shock, all the more so did a new astonishment: she was no longer alone...

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