ROTHSCHILD – The Libertine and The GirlROTHSCHILD – The Libertine and The Girl


ROTHSCHILD | “THERE’S JUST TOO MANY DREAMS IN THIS WASTELAND FOR YOU TO LEAVE US ALL BEHIND—” Abby Hart was stood in front of the full-length mirror in her bedroom just looking at herself as she studied the changes in her body. She had just got out of the shower and her blonde and pastel pink hair was still wet at the ends. She was naked save for her blue laced panties and she swayed lightly to muzak which played from somewhere in the room. The song finished and after a short beat another kicked in. A pair of cerulean blue eyes studied the pallid girl in the reflection. She would best describe herself as lithe, with small but firm breasts and a flat stomach and slender legs that swept up to a tight but small bottom. She had an innocent; naturally beautiful face that at once displayed both nervousness and a licentious mystery that nobody could truly read; and beady eyes that saw everything and gave away little. She had a cute, crooked smile and a quiet, gentle, disarming voice and a strange habit of hiding her hands inside the sleeves of her jumper so that just the tops of her fingers were exposed.

She was a transient. That’s what they called kids like Abby—nobody, trouble, a misfit. She had been labelled many things by a society that did not really know how to deal with children in care. And that’s what she was. Social Services had taken her from her mother—a mother who sought refuge in drugs rather than parenting—when she was young and she had bounced around from foster home to care home for the majority of her young life. She rebelled because it was all she knew how to do. She fought back against a system that did not understand or listen to her. She got in trouble, mixed with the wrong crowd and as she had told the police the last time she had been brought back to this place; “this wasn’t the life I chose or wanted.”

Years later she would think about that night and about how she did not really know how she ended up where she did, or what had happened with complete clarity. She would remember bits in dreams, and see things that she had no memory of but that she knew was from that night. It all just seemed to be a series of strange happenstances, and for the most part a black emptiness where memories had been, but she would agree that it had shaped her life considerable.

“Abby. Abby. Abby.”

The sound of knocking came from her outside her door, and interrupted Abby just as her soft but harsh and irregular breathing, coupled with the hum of the muzak, had brought her close to the peak of her pleasure. She pressed her eyes closed and then exhaled into the room—close but not close enough—and she withdrew her hand dissatisfied from inside her underwear and in response to the knocking turned up the volume on her remote so that the music from her stereo drowned it out. She looked up at the cracked plaster that snaked across her roof and she let her breathing come back to her; and then she got back up from her bed and walked back over to the mirror where she stared at herself as she swayed. She toyed with the ends of her hair and watched the reflection looking back at her. She was pretty in a plain sort of way and that was all she had. Her head still hurt and her memories were vague as if they were part of a dream that was fragmented and missing in places. Her black playsuit with the gold mask hanging from it was still hung up on her wardrobe and she the dull throbbing in both of her loins and soreness between her thighs was slowly starting to subside. She looked at herself again and she contorted her face so that it looked like it would deconstruct in an attempt at remembering. “Abby. Abby—” came the knocking again from the door but she ignored it. She sighed hard and probed at her memories. As the knocking on the door outside intensified she looked at her reflection and she thought—

It was now Thursday and she tried to think back to a few days ago when she had met the man who had shown her the thing that now served as an empty void that stalked and plagued this young girls mind. To the revered reader this lapse in memory is not something succinctly expressed and so I take you back to a few days ago where the start of this memory void began. It was in Milton’s—the most exclusive and select gentleman’s club in the city—on Park Place just off St James’s Street where the membership requirements stated that you needed to show at least £10,000,000 in cash or gilt-edged securities and which only allowed a maximum of 500 members on its books. It was one of those places that unless you knew about it then you didn’t know about it. A place of rich elitism and politico where men talked current affairs over brandy whilst sat in armchairs and it was said that the cellars of Milton’s stocked some of the most rare and expensive brandy in the world.

Abby did not drink brandy though, and she did not know about Milton’s until the night she first entered through its sleek but well hidden doors. She was not a girl who knew about gentlemen’s clubs in the expensive part of town. She did not even know this town at all. A spate of bad behaviour and mixing in with the wrong crowd had meant that social services had decided to relocate Abby for what they said was her own benefit. They had told her a load of things she did not really understand and said a load of things with ‘risk’ in them when she had been moved, saying things like she was considered ‘high risk’ and a ‘flight risk’ and at ‘serious risk of C.S.E’ because she was young and pretty and reckless. They knew she went out and met up with older men for sex in exchange for money and that she regularly got into trouble so they had given her a curfew and called the Police if she breached it. They though she was doing it here. That was not necessarily true though. She felt stifled in this place and by these people and she needed to get out and sometimes she just wandered the streets and if things happened then she usually just rolled with whatever it was. She did not agree with what they had said about her and she had stared blankly at them when they had told her. Abby did not see the benefit of being moved three hundred miles away from everyone and everything she had ever known and she had been up front about it with her carers when she had first arrived—“You can’t keep me here.”

But they had. She had been in this place for over a month now and had tried, and failed, to get back home several times since then. The police here, she thought, seemed to know what they were doing. It was on one of the nights that Abby had disappeared from the supported living, which was her prison, that she had properly discovered this place. She had been walking down one of the main streets in the city, where people curb crawled and shouted careless imprecations in her direction. A boy in a hoody stepped out of a doorway and blocked her progression. He tried talking to Abby, she told him to go away, he got a bit more forceful. A sleek black town car pulled up alongside her and the passenger shouted at the boy in the hoody to beat it and he had invited Abby in. “It’s not safe for a girl like you on these streets,” he said. “Want to see a good time, baby? Get in” he had said. Abby had shrugged and asked him if it was much safer in with him and he had laughed. “Why not get in and find out, baby?” Abby had shrugged again and had got in—she guessed that on the balance of probability she was safer with a guy with money than with someone on the street. The passenger was middle aged and he smelt of nicotine and Bengay and his face was masked in the darkness from the back of the car. He had a white powder just under his nose and she knew for a fact he was on the prowl but he had intriguing eyes that drew her to him. They were different. They sparkled. He looked like he knew money. The passenger tapped the glass partition between him and he driver and the car pulled away from the curb. Abby settled into the leather seats. The car knew luxury. It was big and spacious and inviting. She did not feel scared. She did not feel anything. He asked her what her name was and she lied to him. They drove around for a while—she did not know to where—and he gave her some of whatever he had been taking. They talked and he asked her questions and he lined the white power up on a pull down table that was built into the seat of a driver she could not see and he separated it with a card in his wallet and he showed her how to snort it. She followed his lead and took in whatever it was. She heard him say something like “well done, baby.” She guessed it was cocaine but it was different to anything she had ever tried and it stung as she inhaled it and she felt it go straight to her head and thought it fast acting and for a moment his laughing was distorted. She felt a small explosion inside her little body. She sat back into the chair and the car drove for a while and then she came back to reality and took some more. She knew she was losing time. He was talking and she took in his voice although she did not know what he was saying. He told her he was going to a party somewhere but she did not pay much attention. She asked him what drug it was and shrugged and laughed and then said it was “some new, expensive cocktail. They call it black magic,” but by this point Abby had taken another line and was not paying attention again. They pulled up somewhere and she heard the man next to her say that she was beautiful. She turned towards him and he raised a hand and moved some hair from across her face and traced her chin. She looked into his eyes. He leaned in and kissed her. She felt him running a hand up her leg. “How about I show you a really good time, baby? You know this stuff isn’t free right?”

“No,” she heard a voice that later she realised was her own say. He laughed. She took some more of the black magic. The car carried on driving. Things went dark. She was awake but not aware. They were driving again. Her eyes were closed and he was talking again and although she took in what he was saying she didn’t react immediately. She didn’t feel herself. She felt his hand on her leg, and then inside her pants. The synapses in her brain were slow in kicking in. She waited for her head to clear a little. He touched her underneath her underwear for a time. Her scent started to fill the back of the car. She relaxed into the car seat. She was moaning. She felt good. She took more black magic. His fingers were inside of her. She felt really good. She could smell the musk of her cum in the air. She was clawing at the leather. She was tingling. “You like that, baby?” he said and she mumbled an “Mmm-huh” in response. She came hard and quickly. She arched her back. He kissed her again. She felt funny. She blacked out. She imagined herself kissing back and getting on her knees and kissing him back into the leather of the seat. She was on top of him. His hand was under her top. He was playing with the buckle on her jeans. They were down around her ankles now and he was toying with her black cotton panties. His pants were off. She was sucking him, taking his length in her mouth and he was moaning out and taking more black magic. She spat on his shaft and ran her hands up it and he groaned. She was between his legs and he was inside of her. He was big and thick and she was screaming. Sex filled the car. She was leaning back against the glass partition rocking with him as he filled her. Her imagination finished. She heard his voice in her head. “I know what you want, baby. You want me don’t you? I want you.” They were still driving when she came back around again. Her pants were up. She was next to him laying into the seat. He was touching her again. Her synapses came back to her. She knew what he wanted and she did not want to give him what he wanted. He leaned in and kissed her neck. She slipped a hand into his jacket undetected and felt his wallet. She took more black magic. She thought the black magic was strange for making her see things. Her head was sore and she was warn, When they pulled up at traffic lights at the corner of a street she did not know she jumped out and left the man calling after her; “baby, wait!” She felt reminiscent of that time a few months ago when she had taken a white pill with half a bottle of vodka and had blurred memory of the next day. Things felt different although she could not explain how. She was staggering and drunken as she passed street after street and when her vision became more than a blur she discarded his wallet in a trashcan a further street over after stripping it of what she needed. The driver’s licence gave his name as Ian Moone but she did not dwell on it and it was promptly discarded. She kept a small wad of notes and a small Amex black card—an ostensibly curious thing about the size of a credit card—but which was made of anodised titanium and laser etched with information and numbers wrapped in a piece of paper with an address written on it. She knew better than to take actual credit cards—cash machines had in-built cameras and she had been caught out that way before—but this looked different and she was intrigued. The card said something about the being property of the Morning Star Group, (which she had never heard of). She reckoned it was one of those cards that could buy anything, and she gave a quick flick through the notes and guessed that she had a couple of hundred in cash and that was enough for now. Another street over she looked to hail down a cab when a voice from behind her said; “that was impressive what you did there.”

She turned to the voice; a harsh, edgy local voice and she shrugged and said she did not know what the person was talking about. The girl under the grey hooded top laughed. “I used to do that too. Easy money.”

“I didn’t do anything like that,” Abby said defensively and the girl laughed again. Abby blushed. She had long black hair and dark eyes and a kind of dirty face but she had something Abby felt she could relate to.

“Sure thing, honey.” Then, “I’m Tigger.”


“New here, Abby?”

Abby shrugged and the girl laughed again. “Yeah, you new. Not seen you around this place b’fore. I’d remember. Can smell the innocence on you. Come on—let me show you around.”

Abby hesitated but she figured she had no other place to go and she went with Tigger. Tigger was a street girl. She had started out in care like Abby but after being abused by a foster carer she left and found solace elsewhere—living day to day earning little and just surviving. They walked and talked for a while, about everything and nothing, and then Tigger took Abby back to her group. There were a few of them—people like Abby—and she felt relaxed around them. They were outcasts too. She was introduced to Pigeon, Kai, Paris, Tamara, Rex and Zapper and she warmed to their company. They were sat in the middle of a disused bandstand smoking from a large blunt that Zapper had procured from somewhere and Abby relaxed as she took a long drag. The taste was bitter—something she had never tried before—but it relaxed her. She asked what it was and Zapper shrugged and said he was fucked if he knew. Abby laughed, and then smoked some more and she mellowed. Zapper was older than all of the others—they said he had a job someplace in the city on a building site—and he sat close to Abby and tried to touch her leg and later Paris told her that he kind of had a thing for really young girls like Abby.

Tigger told them about Abby’s exploit with the old man. She shrugged and said it was something she picked up back at home and that it was an easy way to get some money. “Besides,” she said, “they’re never going to admit to the cops that she got mugged trying to get off with a kid.”

They laughed and then smoked some more and some time later Abby passed out. It was dark by the time she awoke and the group were gone. Abby—reported missing by the home—got her own escort back to the house when two Police officers stumbled upon her. She refused to tell officers who she had been out with or what she had been doing and after their debrief she went upstairs and locked herself in her bedroom and waited until they were gone before she made her second escape—

“Abby. Abby—” came the knocking from the door.

She ignored it. Her breathing was shallow and irregular, her head thick and alien, as she looked at her reflection. She looked herself up and down and played with her bottom lip with her teeth as she checked her angles. She had dug out a black playsuit she had and nervously wobbled in heels, as she made sure it looked OK. It was satin black, with a V neckline that came down the side of her breasts and loose shorts that finished just below her bottom. She had on a deep red lipstick, dark mascara and purple eyeliner that highlighted her cerulean blue eyes and her hair was pulled back into a tight, sleek high ponytail. She took a deep breath, toyed with her lip some more and then she opened her bedroom door.

John Boerman, the home manager, was outside unimpressed and stoic and when he saw what Abby was wearing he pushed out his chest and folded his arms and said she was not going anywhere looking like that. “It’s past curfew,” he added authoritatively. “You have to stay in.”

They argued. It was a blur. Abby said he couldn’t stop her, and he said that he could and then what happened next was so fast Abby couldn’t really be sure on the details. One minute he was stood in front of her red in the face and telling her to go back inside her room and the next he was crumpled a the bottom of the stairs, groaning lightly and almost foetal. Something was pooling out from his head. There was a dark smear on the wall. She thought maybe she might have pushed him but she could not remember. And then she was outside—running down the street and heading away from the care home into the night. She wondered if he was dead. It occurred to her that she hadn’t even checked to see if he was breathing. She considered calling an ambulance, the police, someone, but she didn’t and then she was a few streets over and she hailed down a sleek back Uber and they were driving away. The driver asked, “where to, miss?” She flashed the black card to the driver and handed him the paper and asked him if he knew what it was.

He raised an eyebrow and said, “sure. But it’ll cost you.”

Abby handed him a couple of notes and he shrugged and took them gratefully and stuffed them into the top pocket of his three-day old shirt. He told her it was a black card and looked at her like she should have understood. “Honey that’s a card for the 1% of the 1%. It’s a free pass. Unlimited credit. No spending limit. Hidden trade line. It’s an invitation only charge card. You can purchase anything with it. You don’t just get those down at the bank by filling in a form and giving them a smile. You need hard cash, and lots of it.” He reached out to try and take a look at it and Abby snatched her hand back quickly and she looked at the card for a few seconds and asked herself what a guy prowling the streets was doing with it. The driver clicked his hands in the direction of the card and held out his hand and tentatively Abby handed it over. He scanned the front and back and then pointed to the piece of paper with the address on it. “That for Milton’s,” he said and he handed the card and the piece of paper back to her. He told her that Milton’s was one of the elite clubs at the other end of town. “Classy place—very up market clientele, old money. No offence, kid but I’m guessing that card ain’t yours. It’s not a place someone like you ought to be.” Abby shrugged and said it didn’t matter about that and she asked if he could take her there. He told her it would cost her even more and a few more notes later he pulled out into the traffic and swung the car in the direction of the posh part of town.

Abby did not know what time it was when the Uber parked a street over from Milton’s as the clock in the car was broken, but the driver shrugged and told her that he guessed it was just after midnight. He pointed out which way she needed to go and told her that they did not let taxis down that area of town and that she would have to walk the rest of the way. She thanked him and handed him some notes and she took a deep breath as she set off. The card burnt in her hand as she clutched at it and she felt woozy and found she was still a little unsteady on her feet. She had a dull thudding in her head and she was sure she could hear her heart beating a little faster than normal. The black magic had been strong, she thought, but she was intrigued and intrigue was a much more powerful and potent drug. As she approached the corner of Park Place and St James’ Street she realised that she did not even know what to expecting to find at this place. Maybe she just wanted a good time. There was a cool wind and she rubbed her hands on her arms and she toyed with her bottom lip with her teeth and then as she rounded the corner she gasped and stopped still.

Milton’s was one of the great symbols of high society. It was a few hundred metres in front of her on the opposite side of an empty road, recessed a yard or so back from its neighbours, and framed with heavy projecting white stone and it loomed up into the night. The clubhouse was faced with Portland stone and it had nine bays on three floors; the windows on the two main floors each enclosed in their own aedicule and made up of two columns with a pediment across the top like a roof. The sheer size of this place overwhelmed Abby. She gasped at first. The outside of this massive place seemed to be absorbed in a blazing orange inferno that spread out into the night. When she looked closer though she realised that the building was not alight. The front of the clubhouse was covered with thousands of moving orange lights, casting an eerie orange glow that covered the front and which had at first given the impression that the building was on fire and she shivered. Something about this place made her uncomfortable.

She took a deep breath and wobbled again on her feet. Her head thumped a little. She felt drunk but knew that she was not. She breathed again and then she crossed the empty street. A steep staircase issued the front door where another small staircase led up into the foyer. The deep red curtains had been pulled closed on the ground floor windows so that she could not see anything inside and Abby shook as she climbed up to the swing doors that led into the foyer. A man in dark livery and a plain grey mask opened the double glass doors and extended an arm for her to come inside. She mumbled a thank you in her soft voice and the doorman closed the door behind her. Ahead, behind a small reception type desk was a second man dressed identically. She walked over to him and he looked her up and down. The light above him was dim and she could see little of him.

“Good evening, miss,” he said in a raspy voice, “and welcome to Milton’s. Can I be of service?”

Abby’s hands shook. Her body shook. She asked herself unequivocally what the hell she was doing there. She wondered about John—had one of the other residents called an ambulance? Would the Police turn up here for her? A beat hung between them and she felt him burning into her with dark eyes. With shaking hands she handed over the black card and he studied it for a beat and then when it landed he took it and said, “ah.”

Her throat felt dry. She could feel the eyes of the man behind her burning into her back. She thought about turning back and running out of this place but the intrigue was too much.

“Your card?” the man in front of her asked.

She nodded and the man studied her again. Silence lingered between them. The man rolled the card between his fingers for a couple of seconds and studied it again.

“It’s not. You lie,” he said quietly.

“What?” Abby said quickly.

“I said ‘it’s hot. For July.”

Abby swallowed even though her throat was dry. She said nothing. The man looked at her for a time and then he placed the card under the desk into a machine out of view and he looked down and Abby guessed he was looking at a monitor. Time seemed suspended and it felt like an age before he looked back at her. In that time all she could hear was the thudding of her heart and a voice in her head telling her to run. When the beat finally landed he reached down behind the desk and handed her the card and then he pulled out a mask. She took the items with shaking hands and he told her of the mask that she would need it. It was a Venetian design, deep gold, with an intricate pattern that extended beyond the border of the face. She put it on shakily and then the man looked at her again. “Ah,” he said. And then he escorted Abby through a pair of large wooden doors.

The man in the dark livery and the plain grey mask closed the door behind her and Abby entered into a dark, dimly lit ballroom that must have been an easy 120-foot high with a large ceiling and dark hanging black silk drapes. A gathering of some a hundred and fifty people all dressed in ecclesiastical costume and party dresses and tuxedos, and all sporting an array of animal heads and odd and sometimes macabre Venetian and Surrealist masks moved around and talked amongst themselves. The conversation was light and easy; people spoke of holidays and the weather and current affairs. Abby overheard a conversation by a small group about the pros and cons of a “hard Brexit.” “She needs to choose,” one of the men said. “The idea of a “soft Brexit,” a deal to minimise damage to the economy by maintaining some regulatory alignment with E.U economies or a “hard Brexit,” where she grows some fucking balls and goes for a much cleaner break.” Waiters moved through the gaps in the crowds with trays of drinks and canapés. A man with an expensive dinner jacket and a giraffe’s head played Rachmaninoff on a piano in the corner, but the giraffe’s eyes were blindfolded and the man underneath was playing from feel and not from sight, and the soft and resonant tones filtered through the room. Abby composed herself and then she started to move around the side of the room—observing. A man with a mask of cubes all with different faces who was stood with a lady in a short black dress and a golden face laughed as they spoke with a man with an Ox’s head and then they clocked Abby in the corner and she thought they stopped talking. She jumped as a waiter appeared next to her and handed her a drink and she said a quiet thank you as she took the glass. Abby took a deep breath and then took a drink and felt herself relax just a little as the warmth of the liquid spread out into her oesophagus. She gained some composure Emek Escort and she breathed out. She was here for a good time and she started to sway a little to the music. In the opposite corner three men and two women looked at her pointedly and then spoke amongst themselves in hushed whisper. From the side of her a woman with an Apple in front of her face brushed passed her and nodded a greeting and looked deep into her eyes but said nothing before disappearing into the crowd. Behind her in a chair by a table with a flickering light and masked in darkness a man cleared his throat and Abby turned to him.

“How the devil did you get in here?” he said in a deep, mumbled voice.

Abby’s voice shook again. “I’m sorry?”

“The weather … it’s getting better,” he said and for a moment his eyes burned deep into hers and then she backed away into the room. Her heart was beating a little faster again and she asked herself where she was. ‘What is this place?’ the voice in her head asked. A secret sect? A religious gathering? She envisioned a party at an exclusive club and not a masked ball with a room full of strange costumes and stranger people. Her head thumped. Laughter cut through the room. She saw one of the waiters looking directly at her and she moved further into the crowd. She asked herself if they were indeed looking at her and then she told herself she was being silly and she blended into the mass. She looked around herself at the diamond necklaces and watches that caught candle light and the expensive dresses that the women wore so elegantly and then she looked at the room with the fabrics and the furniture and the paintings that she knew would be worth millions and she relaxed again. It was a snapshot of Parisian high-society, something out of the films she had watched and loved about the sort of life she had always dreamed about living. When money was not an option the only limit was imagination and the imagination of those with money to burn was a very strange and dark place. This must be what parties were like for the super rich. She scanned the crowd further, gaining nothing from the occupants and feeling very alone in this room full of strange people. Her sense of intrigue outweighed the fear that was brewing in the pits of her stomach. Someone brushed passed her arm and she turned to apologise. A man nodded at her and said, “nice mask. Is it Dali?” but he was gone before she could reply. Through the crowd she clocked eyes with a tall, slim built man laughing with a small party in a foyer by a bookcase full of first editions and she shivered. He had a strong presence that for a moment overwhelmed her and she felt both at ease and on edge concurrently as if something about him gave her a grave sense of concern. He noticed her and across the room she felt him burning into her with his eyes. He wore a sharp, expensive looking black suit with a white shirt unbuttoned at the top and an untied bow hanging from around his neck and he nodded once and slowly. He wore a mask that reminded Abby of an old French Plague Doctor—the black beak covering most of his lower face and later, revered reader, we would learn that this man was to be called The Libertine. A lady with a gramophone on her head clung to his arm and laughed at something he said in a way that told Abby that it could not have been genuine. The music upped its tempo. She finished her drink and took another and finished that too. She started to sway again in the music just as she had done in her room. She closed her eyes and played with her hair and she let the deep and dulcet tones of the muzak flow through her. The Libertine with the French Doctor mask plagued her thoughts. She imagined him although she was not sure why—they were not her thoughts. It was as if they had been planted. She thought of him—all of him—doing things to her and she did not know why she was thinking these things but she liked them even if she would not admit it in the moment. Then someone put their hands around her waist and she felt breath on her neck—she thought it was he. She leaned into the body behind her, moving with the body behind her, and then she could smell Bengay and she heard the man whisper “here for a good time, baby?” and she jumped forward with a sharp intake of breath and turned and looked at a man hidden behind a monk’s mask and her heart almost stopped.

“What’s the matter? I said ‘you look fine, baby,’” the man said monotone and her heart thumped and then she got her breathing back and she said sorry and she moved further into the crowd. She should not be here, she knew. She felt eyes on her again. A waiter moved through the crowd looking and then his eyes caught Abby and he stopped. She moved in the opposite direction into a smaller room that shot off from the main ballroom where a naked pianist in only a black silk robe and with the face of a cat played an intense foreign melody that filtered into the room. The room was brilliantly lit and the music grew in its intensity as couples danced to the frantic strains of the piano. A lady dressed all in cling-film with a golden face shrieked as the music reached a crescendo, her frantic dancing growing, while gleaming white bodies pressed against each other in the corner where a cry of lust emanated. A lady in a black laced mask that provided the only cover on her otherwise naked body danced with a man who at once admired and touched tenderly her slender frame and then she saw that they were all naked in here. She at first looked away shocked and then she returned her curious gaze. It was almost poetic that these people, despite being naked, still had so much anonymity. She started to ask herself why they were like this and then she decided that it did not matter and she shelved the thought and she watched with a sudden intrigue and a feeling deep down that made her envious of the carelessness of their movements. The rich, she thought again with preclusion. A man appeared behind her and she felt him tugging at the zip of her playsuit and he said something about joining the party and she jolted and then she returned to herself and she skirted past him back into the ballroom. Things started to happen faster than she could compute. Time and its concept seemed to be excluded from this place. It seemed to operate on its own terms. Clocks on the walls ticked although the faces did not have hands and the numbers were jumbled and upside down and she seemed to concentrate on the ticking and it echoed. Her heart was beating faster and her palms were sweating. She thought it was a bit like a casino with the host not wanting anyone to know what time it was. Her head started to spin. The drone of the pianist music started to echo around her head. She thought people were staring. Another waiter had stopped and was now looking at her, and she saw two others talking in the corner and looking in her direction. The wooden doors in the corner opened and the man from the foyer—with his black livery and grey mask—walked through and saw her and he nodded and then another waiter appeared and followed the man in black’s glaze to Abby. The music grew louder in her head. She thought she could hear people talking in hushed whispers. A hand came up and touched her shoulder from somewhere behind her and she jumped and turned and then she saw the livered mask burning in front of her.

“Madame. I think you are lost,” he said and the room was silent.

And then she saw him again through the crowd—The Libertine with the French Plague Doctor mask and he saw her and then room started to spin faster and faster and the voices grew louder and more intense. In a moment The Libertine excused himself from his group and made his way effortlessly through the crowd as if slithering through the cracks in the people that were moving towards Abby seemingly en masse, and her heart was thumping faster than ever and she was sweating and then The Libertine was next to her and he said to the waiters that she was with him. “I think you will agree that you are mistaken,” and then there was silence—

There was to be no debate. It was not a question. A moment hung in the air and then the waiter bowed and said, “of course,” in a forced, amiable tone. The waiter looked at The Libertine from under his mask with a furious rage and then a direct and most sudden calmness fell upon him that Abby attributed to recognition. The room was still and Abby was sure the beating of her heart was audible. She felt it in her throat. The Libertine did not flinch. A beat hung and then directly it landed the waiter nodded and said; – “Perhaps you are right.”

“Now apologise.”

“I am sorry, Madame. I am mistaken.”

Directly The Libertine nodded the party resumed as if the exchange had not taken place and the waiter disappeared into the room and then she scanned the room and the others were gone and she realised she was not breathing and she exhaled hard and shakily her heart pounded. The Libertine was still for a moment, his finger tapping his thigh as he thought, and then he swept Abby to the side and said matter-of-factly in a voice that she recognised but not from where—“You should not be here, child. You are a long way from home.”

“Is it obvious?” Abby said in her deftly quiet voice.

The Libertine smiled. “Strangers are always easy to spot,” he said to Abby. “Imposters more-so.” His voice was powerful and confident and he seemed to have a way of controlling the air around him so that she was almost suffocating. Abby’s hands were shaking. She blinked under her mask and The Libertine laughed again and he turned to look at the room. “Overwhelming isn’t it. The Mme. has always had a flare for the theatrical. They get stranger every year.” He paused for a while and just looked at her. He mused aloud. “But I wonder how you got in here at all.”

“Have you been to one of these before?” Abby asked quietly—not even sure what one of these was—and The Libertine studied her under his mask with unreadable eyes. She looked up into the eyes that she could just see through the cut outs in the mask—bright and large and brilliant and which seemed to burn full of fire—and then she had to look away. She knew then that she would not forget those eyes. They had seen everything and understood all and from the moment that he looked into her eyes she could feel him reading her. He laughed and for a brief second everyone else in the room seemed to disappear and it was just the two of them. She felt strangely comfortable with this stranger in a way that confused this young girl. She had taken his eye immediately; the nervous looking girl with the cheap black playsuit and mask that she did not really understand. There was innocence to her—a naivety that he could smell over the room. She did not belong here. He could smell the fear that this girl held. She intrigued him. He relished the smell of fear. “Oh yes,” he said playfully, his eyes burning into her again. He was intense and it was overwhelming. “Once or twice before.”

She was about to ask him what exactly this was when a door opened at the top of a staircase in the corner of the room and the large space fell silent. “Speak of the devil,” The Libertine said and then he laughed as if somehow ironically but Abby did not understand why and she looked up. The giraffe-pianist stopped and rose from his seat. Waiters bowed their heads. Mme Rothschild appeared through the door, standing at the top of the stairs with her arms raised. She was in an unapologetically expensive and beautiful silver dress that trailed behind her; and she was wearing a stag’s head crying tears of diamonds. Alongside her stood a teenage girl in a simple short black dress that fell to just below the tops of her thighs. Her head was inside a birdcage filled with live birds that sang cheerfully. Her face, Abby noticed, was painted so that half of it was missing. And yet she was beautiful—possibly the most beautiful girl she had ever seen.

“Welcome all. I am pleased to see in keeping with the tradition started over forty years ago by my family that the outfits this evening are more wild and extravagant than ever—” The powerful lady said and the room laughed. Powerful people were here. The Libertine leaned in to Abby. “That is Mme Rothschild. You’ve heard of the name, I’m sure—legendarily synonymous with Parisian high society. This is her year to host and I must say she’s done an excellent job so far.” Her speech lasted around five minutes as she welcomed everyone to her evening.

The lady continued. The Libertine leaned in again. “Next to her is her daughter—Arabella. Beautiful, isn’t she? There is seldom a more beautiful being in this whole place. It is said that she is part human and part angel. She is too pure for this world. Much to our deepest regrets she is strictly out of bounds—not for the want of trying. She is yet to be fully initiated. They say tickets to her initiation will be the rarest item on the planet.”

Abby’s heart was beating loudly. “What do you mean?”

The Libertine flashed her a look. Abby turned away. Mme Rothschild raised her arms again. “It is now time to let your wildest imagination flourish. The amnesty has begun.”

Abby turned to the enigma beside her. “What is the amnesty?” she asked and The Libertine looked down at her and she saw fire in his eyes and then she realised her cheeks were wet and she was crying although she was not sad—and she could not explain why. She wiped herself under the mask.

“You should not be here—” The Libertine said seriously. “This is not a place for you. If you were to be discovered your fate would not that of a simple escort out. They would kill you without hesitation.”

Abby thought her heart stopped. What had he just said? Where the fuck was she? She swallowed hard but her throat was dry. Her head hurt, she felt dizzy, and then she heard a voice that she did not recognise as her own but which said strongly and with defiance—“I am staying.” She told herself she had come this far and curiosity and temptation and intrigue outweighed all of the other considerations and she accepted the risk and then she thought maybe this is what the man at the social office meant when he said she was reckless and high risk. She again asked herself where she was. Where could she be that the cost of illicit entry was death? Who were these people? They were in the corner although she did not know how she had got there and then she was sat at a table and he was next to her and those eyes burned into her again and she forced herself to look away. He had a drink in his hand. The music hummed and lingered in the room—soft harmonic notes that played a fruity tune. She felt him smiling at her from under his mask. “You are a lively soul,” she heard him say and then he laughed again. “You do not heed my warning yet you are afraid.”

“Yes,” she said almost silently.

“Do I scare you?”


The Libertine smiled again. “You must stay by my side and do as I say, child. If they find out you are an imposter they will kill you. This is not a party like you think.”

“I can handle myself.”

“I’m sure you can,” he said with a smile.

“Tell me about this place,” she heard herself say. The Libertine sucked his tooth and his hand tapped the table between them. He leaned in—and she could feel this intimidating man’s presence. “This is not a world you could hope to understand,” and then something came over this young girl. She was scared—more scared than she had ever been. Scared by this man and his eyes and the way he made her feel and she was scared by the prospect of death and the implication of being found out in this place of weird and terrifying people and yet despite that she leaned in. Her head woollen and thick and again that feeling of a drunkenness that she knew was a lie overcoming her and making her inhibitions leave her. Despite all of this she leaned in and narrowed the gap between them and she looked into the eyes that burned into her and she saw the fire and she felt herself crying again.

She told him to show her and it was he that recoiled.

Abby looked around and found that the ballroom was empty and they were the only two left. The Libertine considered. Abby was led across the ballroom and through a pair of wooden doors that led into a darkened room of velvet and silk. Strange music played from somewhere and nowhere and the light was artificial and dark and intense. “Once a year,” he explained to her as he led her through into the first room, “a selection of the richest and most powerful people in existence meet for a night of lurid extravagance—there is no limit on what can occur behind the stone walls of this secret society. Anything goes. The parties are never held in the same place and the guest list is absolute. A committee outside the circle put it together and no one person knows the complete list. There are rules—rules that must be abided by at all costs. Anonymity is key. Faces are never revealed and names are never disclosed. It is the most secretive of events in every sense of the word.” Her eyes struggled to adjust to the new light of this room. Men in dark livery and plain grey masks stood by a series of doors that led deeper into this place. This was not the party Abby had envisioned when she found the card in the stolen wallet. The Libertine continued. “The wealth and status in this room—there is enough collective power and influence to start a revolution, send a country to war, establish a New World Order, see Marx’s vision truly realised—or just engage in wild, gratuitous debauchery.”

The Libertine picked a door and the waiter nodded and opened it and they slipped inside. He told her that everyone from Presidents and World Leaders to Princes and Princesses; film stars and bankers to sports stars and socialites; investors and industrialists and celebrities came here once a year to indulge in their most evil and twisted fantasy. “Supreme Court Judges,” he said. “Congressmen. Senators. Lords and Ladies. Cabinet members. Businessmen. Tycoons. The society is historic and is all encompassing. It is rooted firmly in history ever since the first official gathering at Château de Ferrières over fifty years ago. But it goes back much further than that. The rich and powerful have always found a way to explore the limits of their consciousness and fully appreciate how to explore their desires. The Rothschild’s just found a way to bring them all together discreetly.”

The door closed and it was dark. And then her eyes adjusted and opened wide and she staggered back. Amongst the strange lights and the drone of the eerie music were a sea of skin and the smell of fornication and she saw what this really was. This was not just a party of a secret society—this was something so much more outrageous. A lady clung at her mask as she lay on a table, the sweating frame of a man with multiple heads thrusting into her whilst people danced around them artistically. In the corner the slender frame of a young woman arched climatically whilst between her legs another woman with the head of a cat purred playfully. The room was suffused with dark yet dazzling light. Naked bodies were sprawled in every conceivable place. Muzak came from somewhere. Abby’s eyes absorbed the room—and the occupants of which were all, save for their masks, completely naked. Her bright eyes roved the room from sensual slender bodies to delectable girls with their tight frames and plump breasts and bottoms to men with muscle and large protrusions between their legs. She scanned from desire to desire—slim bodies to large bodies—large extensions to ones she could barely see and from budding physique to ones in full bloom; and yet each of the naked occupants remained so completely secretive that she could walk passed them in the street without ever noticing. The room was a warren of innermost desire—lust and feelings oozing from every corner. From one corner where a woman and a man performed the dance of life breathtaking delight gave way to sighs of deep distress and then a loud and deep cry was let out. On a futon artfully placed a man in a mask of bronze—who unbeknown to anyone but you the revered reader was a Supreme Court Judge of almost half a century—was leaning in and whispering to a girl thrice times younger than he while his hands toyed with the hem of a delicate black silk dress that was later promptly removed by him. It revealed a body not just matured and she was nervous as he wet the largest digit on his right hand by slipping it into her mouth before using its saliva-coated lubricity to penetrate the young girl’s tight unspoiled anus, and she cooed and cried and writhed around on his lap. She then climbed on top of this aging fiend and slipped him inside her cunt as she rode him gently and carefully although she would later be surprised by his prowess and his stamina and how pleasurably rough he was. She would be taken completely off guard when he put her on her back and gave her a most brutal perfunctory railing. He would come inside her without regard for its implications and his brutality and the way he used her would mean she would go back to him several more times before the night was over despite the consequences of impregnating sex. (Needless to say revered reader that the Justice’s advocacy for Roe vs. Wade and the opinion he had written some forty-five years ago had been more than compelling). As Abby’s eyes adapted to this place she witnessed virtually every scenario being undertaken without any inhibition. Girls pleasured girls. Men pleasured men. Abby saw threesomes and foursomes openly taking place on the cushions and couches. Some people were naked, some were still in their underwear, most were having sex or watching while others danced and sipped drinks and ate canapés from the waiters that passed with trays that contained fine wines and champagne and brandy and things like extra-lucid soup and goat’s cheese roasted in post-coital sadness. Others took themselves off into private rooms and explored their fantasies behind closed doors. Abby had come to this place expecting a party of rich men and women and a life like she had seen in the movies but what this young girl had been greeted with instead was a scene that looked like the painting of an orgy (the ones she used to laugh at when she went to museums on school trips) being played out in front of her very eyes.

She was staggered. Her mind ticked over as she took in what was before her. This was a pious society, but not to any text or God. It was pious to a much simpler belief—a belief of gratuitous and outlandish bourgeois affluence where money meant power and where power was everything. And yet it was nothing more than a barren, shadowy succession of dreary, lurid and scurrilous libidinous adventures by people leading so-called bourgeois lives. It was asinine—an egregious abuse of privilege and power and wealth—a secret society with identity hidden behind masks. Abby thought it was like sex cult for the super rich with net worth dictating the entry fee; and what it got you once inside. She had heard of the illuminate online and thought this could well have been them. And then, she thought, there was The Libertine with whom she walked with. She thought he sounded middle aged—and she thought he might have been an industrialist or a billionaire playboy. Something about his voice was familiar to her, like she had heard it before maybe in a movie somewhere, but without a face she could not place it and he remained a mystery behind a mask. And yet he had a presence that she had never felt before and it chilled her.

She looked up at him with curiosity and he led her to one side. “What is it?”

“This place—It’s—”

“Yes,” he smiled. “It is.” And then as if to explain, he matter-of-factly said; “Afterwards people will get up, slip on some clothing, and go and re-join the party or select a different partner or partners and the night will continue until a mutual end is decided by all.” Abby allowed herself to absorb what this was and then she thought about it for a few moments and she came to the quick realisation that she did not know why she was so surprised. This was probably normal for people like this and she guessed that if the rest of the world thought about it too then maybe they would not be too surprised either. The more she thought about it the more it made sense. If you were to ask someone in the street if they thought rich people engaged in this then they would probably shrug and say, “I guess they probably do.” She bet people knew this went on; rich people having lavish and outlandish sex parties. It probably came with the status kind of like a rote kind of formality.

“Who are you?”

She heard him draw breath. His eyes burned into her again.

“I am The Libertine.”

“Who are you really?”

“Who are you, child? Who are any of us?” The Libertine laughed and then he was serious. “There are no rules or boundaries in this place beyond not putting anyone under any pressure. It is very clear that no one must be coerced into sex or made to do anything they don’t want. But there are unspoken rules here, child. Important ones. Tacit ones. Do you know what they are?”

She shook her head and told him that she did not. She called him “sir,” and he stirred and sucked breath again and flashed her a look she could not understand with his unreadable eyes.

“One—no names. Two—the mask remains on at all times. Three—what happens here stays here and four—the golden one—you do not speak about this place outside of these walls. The people at this party are absolute. This society is omnipresent. There are ears everywhere. If you break one of these conventions they will know and when they know—” He left the implication hanging.

“I won’t tell,” Abby told him softly.

“Have you heard of ‘The Man’”?

His eyes bore into hers but all she could think about was the song. (Left a good job in the city /

Workin’ for the man ev’ry night and day / And I never lost one minute of sleepin’ / Worryin’ ’bout the way things might have been / Big wheel keep on turnin’ / Proud Mary keep on burnin’.) She wondered why John Fogerty sang burnin’ the way he did – booynin.

The Libertine laughed again as if reading her mind. “Well ‘The Man’ works for me,” he said and it precluded any further comment. “Come—”

The Libertine led Abby deeper into this place—to each darker and darker room—where every extension of desire was played out. In one room a man with a sheep’s head lay on the floor as a woman in Eryaman Escort a laced mask defecated onto his naked body. In the corner a powerful black man built like a deity licked the cunt of one girl while fucking a second in the mouth and while his asshole was being licked by a third. Another man cried out in lust as a beautiful and slender woman straddled him before urinating down onto him and then when she was done he took her from behind over a wooden table. A man with a shark’s head had his beshitted ass licked by a girl tied up with restraints. A girl with a gold leaf over her face fucked a man in the ass with a large gold strap on. In one of the adjacent rooms linked by a doorless archway a man hung from a ceiling, his body wriggling against gravity and his face purple under his dark mask from the noose around his neck, while with his free hand he brought himself to orgasm all over two females who where cheering him on viciously and pleasuring themselves from his suffocation. It was in this room that Abby said she felt feint, and indeed the smell was nauseous to say the least, and The Libertine led her out into a room where a man with a white mask crying blood tears railed a slender young girl, (whose breasts were flat against a glass table and who had a choker around her neck attached to a rod that this man held), repeatedly in her tight sphincter so that her cries mixed with a gargle in her throat and became one monotonous drone. Seven men sat at a table watching with drinks and canapés and they said things like ‘harder’ and ‘more’ and they applauded as if it was a show on Broadway. These men wore gold-laced robes and their masks were all the same with plain gold colouring. They watched appraisingly and without inflection as two girls were frigged in front of their very eyes by a big man in a jester’s mask. They would applaud when it was finished. When they were done two waiters in dark livery came and removed the girls and several more appeared in their place and danced suggestively for the men until they had nothing on but their masks. Then one of the men clicked his fingers and the girls started to fuck each other carnivorously. When the girls being fucked climaxed they would swap positions and when the fuckee’s too had climaxed a man for each of the girls would come and rail them until discharge. The Libertine explained that these men in their robes were the elders although he did not go into detail. They were a select group who oversaw the society and its events although they rarely participated. They saw Abby and he over the crowd and Abby thought one of them said something to the other as they all looked towards her (or maybe it was him.) She heard him take breath and he glared back. Two waiters appeared as if summoned by these men but The Libertine clicked his fingers and they dispersed just as quickly and one of the elders rose. There was a moment. Abby looked at The Libertine and wondered who he was. He had power and influence here. Abby and The Libertine did not linger in that room and they promptly left. In other rooms lacy lingerie was slipped from tanned shoulders. Partners for the night were selected at random without consideration, with no fetish too debauched. Drinks continued to flow in the other rooms. Pianists with covers over their eyes played fruity melodies. Various scenarios took place—men having sex with women while pleasuring another woman, women making love to each other while a man watched. One woman with a mask that exposed her mouth gave fellatio to four men while a fifth lay beneath her giving her pleasure. It was subtle and well oiled; a simple hand on the back to let you know that you were wanted. In one of the smaller rooms where a fireplace in the corner provided the only light a woman lay on the floor spread eagle while two men in masks made love to her at the same time. Behind them a man was led away by three women wearing only strategically placed feathers. A girl with the most perfect olive skin danced with a man Abby guessed must have been a football player or a sports star because of his broad shoulders and powerful body. She moved with grace as she slid down his muscular body in keeping with the melodic beat of the muzak before turning and with it removing a piece of cloth from across his waist. She then traced his body down with her lips before taking him in her mouth and he watched her bob up and down on him wonderstruck. Despite his hands that were so strong and powerful he held her head gently until a moment when his massive body tensed up and he gripped the back of her head to force him into her and he discharged deep into her throat. She swallowed all of him and then when she was done she rose, with him still leaking from her mouth and down her chin and she kissed him and then he took her off into a side room where they would fuck like animals. “You liked that?” The Libertine asked her and she blushed under her mask and did not answer. He smiled—already knowing the answer. Abby scanned this room both with intrigue and fear. On a side table sat a large gold bowl full of condoms. The Libertine followed her gaze and told her this was a completely safe environment. “Everyone here is clean.” He handed her a drink produced seemingly from nowhere and she let the liquid flow into her. He told her she needed it, as she looked unsteady. She finished the drink but when she glanced back at the glass it was full again. His eyes burned into hers. Then, he said; “Everything is accepted here. This is humanity in its most raw, most pure form—no prejudice or discrimination or hate. People come here and indulge in what it is to be human. Good food, good drink and intense passion over art and music and each other. Here you can be whoever you want to be and the mask is your identity without any judgement. Everyone who is anyone is here and yet they are not because they are behind a mask. They are safe. Here I am you and you are I. We are one person and multiple people. We are eternal. The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debaucher.” He paused and looked around this place as if it were his kingdom. “Time does not exist in this place. It ends when it ends and not a moment before.”

The Libertine led Abby out into the corridor. Part of her wanted to leave this place and go home where she was where she knew, and another part of her, the dominant part of her, remained full of intrigue and lustful wonder. She staggered and he caught her with a strong arm. Her head was slowing. Noises were slowing. He led her down a corridor flanked on both sides by deep velvet drapes when from a room opposite two people left and The Libertine stopped and took a sharp intake of breathe. Mme Rothschild walked towards them; the tail of her dress flowing behind her and walking next to her holding a champagne glass by the flute was Arabella. They spotted him late and Mme Rothschild—with her stag’s head that from looking at it up close seemed to be real and which probably was—scanned them both and Abby thought she hissed. Her jewellery was audacious. A diamond-encrusted crucifix hung from her neck. Big rings adorned her hands. She was wearing more than most people had in their bank accounts.

“You came,” she said to The Libertine without inflection. “The rumours are true.”

“Madame,” he bowed.

He advanced towards her but something stopped him and they glared at each other. Abby felt uncomfortable. She rubbed her eyes under the mask. Her head hurt.

Arabella held herself well beside the Mme and Abby looked at her. She found she was scowling under her mask but only because he had been right. She was stunningly pretty and despite the face hidden by paint and a metal birdcage she looked flawless. Arabella curtseyed and The Libertine bowed his head. “Arabella,” he said with fondness. The name seemed to just roll off his tongue.

“Hello, L—” she said and then she cut herself off as if she was about to speak his name. The Mme flashed her a look. The Libertine held his breath and then he nodded and he took her hand and he kissed it.

“You grow more beautiful, Arabella,” he said simply, “every time I see you.” Then, “my date.” He held an arm out as an introduction to Abby and the two girls looked at each other through their respective masks. The Mme looked her up and down.

“Ah,” and then nothing more was said and they were gone, off into another room.

“I thought everyone was anonymous here,” Abby asked in reference to the mutual recognition between The Libertine and the Mme.

He smiled. “They are. The Mme and I are—old friends.” The Libertine tapped his hands against his thigh again and then they set off and in a blink of an eye Abby was in another room with no cogent memory of walking there.

“Why is that girl out of bounds?” Abby asked suddenly directly they walked through the door and The Libertine exhaled fondly and said “ah,” and then he thought for a while. “Arabella is a special girl.” The Libertine spoke fondly about the only daughter of Mme Rothschild—as if she was somehow dear to him. She was the heir to the family fortune and Arabella was the prize everybody longed for but he told Abby that she was too pure and nobody could have her. “Not yet,” he said as if wrapped with sadness. “She is not to be touched until she flowers. She cannot be defiled. She is sacrosanct” He told Abby that he had only ever seen her once without her mask—a long time ago—when they had an illicit rendezvous that was abruptly stopped and as he spoke she saw his words unfold like a vision in her head. He told her that Arabella had a beauty which was superior to anyone else but of a different sort. She was thirteen or fourteen, small and slender, of a slight and nubile and extremely delectable build, and the finest platinum hair to be seen. An air of sensibility her features were defined and perfect and her eyes were the deepest and brightest green and expressed at once tenderness and decency and innocence. She was of superior class and noble charm. Her lips were bright and ripe and red and they gave her the appearance of celestial physiognomy and they had been soft and tender when he had kissed them. Her face was perfect and she was flawless like she was a porcelain doll. Her skin was soft and sun blessed and free from blemish and in their rendezvous some time ago he had slipped her lithe being from the confines of her silk dress and had seen all of her unrestricted. Her breasts were small, very round, firm, well-elevated, but there was barely enough there to fill the hand. Her chest was narrow and defined, but it was also a very delicate chest, her belly was satin smooth and traced down to a little blond mound not much garnished with hair and which served as peristyle to a temple worthy of a Goddess. This temple was narrow to such a point that when he had inserted a finger therein he had elicited a sweet cry from Arabella. From her back of which lines swept deliciously down to the most artistically and the most precisely cleft bottom was something that could not have been more perfectly round, not very large, but firm, white; and when it was opened, what would peep out but the cleanest, most delicate hole; a nuance of tender pink. She had blushed a virgin’s blush but she had asked him to continue and he had kissed her once more and then it had been stopped and she had been taken away and he had been forbidden to ever touch her like that again. He stopped his story short. “We will talk about that girl no more,” he said suddenly and seriously. “Tonight I am yours.”

She looked up at him and bit her bottom lip. “What does that mean?”

“What do you want it to mean?”

“I don’t know.”

He smiled and then he laughed. “Come, there is one more thing I would like you to see.”

He led her out of the room where along the left hand side of a darkened corridor were doors lit only by the white fire glow of the number that hung above it and which descended down through the teens and into single figures.

“What’re in those numbered rooms?” she asked and The Libertine smiled.

“They’re not numbers.”

“What do you mean?”

“Look closely.”

She did and then after a second the realisation of what it was hit her and unrelenting horror flooded her face, followed by a sickness that flowed from her stomach. The signage above the door did not denote what number it was, but the age of the occupant inside. He led her down to one of the single figure doors and produced a key and asked if she wanted to see inside and she shook her head and felt the beginnings of vomit in her throat.

The Libertine laughed again. “The world of the rich and powerful is not a world you could ever hope to understand, child. Everything is a commodity. Everything has a price when you are rich enough to pay for it.”

“It’s abhorrent. It’s sick.”

The Libertine laughed a third time. “In your world that may be true. But we are not in your world now, child. Welcome to the seedy underbelly of the rich and powerful. There’s 35% of the entire world’s wealth at this party spread out among less than .1% of its total population—hundreds upon hundreds of trillion pounds in this building alone. Maybe that gives you an idea of what you have walked into? There is more collective wealth and power in this building than in all the countries of the world combined. There are people in here with personal assets worth more than some small countries, people worth hundreds of billions of pounds. And there is nothing that cannot be purchased with the spending power on show here.”

Abby felt uneasy. She struggled on her feet and she felt him catch her arm as she fell. “Overwhelming. It gets to everyone the first time.” And then a hand came up and she felt him touching her skin with hands she thought she had felt before. She took in breath through her teeth. He started on her neck, feeling her gulping as his hand closed around the thin white skin. And then he traced it up under her mask to her chin, and then to her cheek as if he was picturing what she looked like. He looked at her deep red lips and ran a finger over them. She was scared although she did not protest, and then his hand was gone and her skin stung all over as if his fingertips were nettles.

He asked her for her age and she told him and a surprised expression left his mouth. He took a step back and looked her up and down, at her delectable petite frame and her nicely sized breasts and her slender legs and he said he thought she was much older than that.

“I’ve done stuff before you know!” she said quickly but quietly and The Libertine grinned devilishly.

“Oh, not like this,” he said and his eyes burned again.

She felt like she was losing time. Her head was thicker now—she felt disorientated like the drunkenness had hit her all at once. She could hear him talking about this society and this place but she was taking little in. Abby caught her reflection in in a big antique mirror with a gold frame and a strange pattern around the outside. It was old, but clean and she looked at herself like she did back in her room. She did not recognise the girl she looked at. The tight, little body in the black playsuit, the freaky golden mask with the floral pattern and the dark set eyes that she did not think were her own. She looked closer at herself and then she looked to the side and she did not see The Libertine. She was stood alone. She felt his presence next to her and she turned and looked at him. He was there. He smiled at her and told her she looked beautiful. She went to look back at the reflection but they were suddenly in another room and the mirror was gone and she realised she had no knowledge of how she had got there. A woman with the most beautiful black skin greeted them at the door. Abby rubbed her head and then she opened her eyes back to the room and saw The Libertine and this girl embracing by the doorway. She heard their kissing, saw the girl’s tongue fighting with his, saw his hand as it traced down her back to the gold frills of her panties before slipping inside and she moaned out and then she was taken away by a sculptured white man who laid her down on a love seat and promptly slipped himself deep inside her moist, pink cunt whilst kneading at her breasts with his fists. Other people were in this room. A young girl behind a mask that half resembled an Edvard Munch design—who known only to you the revered reader is one of the principle dancers for the Bolshoi Ballet—passed them and traced her finger across The Libertine’s chin and said something in a tongue Abby did not recognise. She looked at Abby with unreadable eyes but they were eyes that drew her in. They were bright and sparkling. She had on see through black mesh dress that came to just above her knees and she was nude underneath. Her breasts, Abby noticed, were small like her own but they were round and her nipples were hard pointed and she had a neatly trimmed line of pubic hair above her vagina. She was beautiful and Abby found herself staring. The girl approached Abby and she said something to her too flirtatiously and she traced her hand along Abby’s stomach and then she was gone. Abby tensed up.

The Libertine leaned in. “This is an open society. Let your imagination and your prejudice’s and your fears float away. Go with the flow.”

A pianist played in the corner.

She found herself drunkenly swaying again. There was a thumping in her head. She thought she could smell Bengay again. “It is time,” Abby heard The Libertine say.


“For your initiation,” he said with a smile. “This party does not come with free admission.”

He approached her Abby—woozy and drunken—and he pulled her close to him. She felt his warmth and he could smell her fear and her nervousness mixed with her perfume. She looked up at him and was biting her lip. She heard her quiet, gentle voice saying, “I’ve done things before,” but it was all she could muster.

“I know,” she heard him say. And then he leant in, whispering, “Dance for me, Abby.”

Abby. He said her name. Her heart stopped. The room slowed. How did he know her name? Had she told him. She tried to back away stunned, and a strange noise left her parted lips but he held on tight. No, she told herself. She hadn’t mentioned her name. Nobody had. She felt a wave of fear come over her. She was cold. “What did you say?”

He smiled a wicked smile. His eyes burnt into her. “I said ‘dance for me, baby.’”

He let go. The music thumped around them although it was not hard music. It was a deep, intense composition that seemed to come from somewhere and nowhere. She could feel the music flowing through her. He handed her a glass from somewhere and told her to drink and she did and she closed her eyes and she started to sway and she felt things deep inside her. She drank and the warmth spread out into her, and then she drank some more. One of the waiters in dark livery and the grey mask passed through the room and The Libertine exchanged words with him and then he nodded and disappeared out of the room. She was not alone in this room and girls danced wildly and artfully. Abby danced like the others danced. The girl in the see-through black dress saw her from across the room and they shared a glance and then they were dancing together. The waiter returned with a tray and handed The Libertine a large brandy glass. The Libertine took a seat at a table in the corner, on a thick leather armchair, and he drank deep from the glass and he traced Abby with his piercing eyes and she watched him and then she turned to the girl in the see-through dress. She closed her eyes again and she thought about what she had seen—the sights that now occupied her mind and the words of which he had just spoken. She thought about how the girls gave themselves to these strangers so freely and she lusted over their liberation and to the pleasure that they were given. How reckless it was to give yourself to a stranger or to strangers in an environment such as this. She thought of the people she had been with and how they had used her and abused her and thrown her away. She wanted to feel like the girls here felt. Her breathing picked up. She started to sway faster. The beat of the music was inside of her. The girl in the see-through dress grabbed Abby from behind when the music intensified and she ran her hands over her body as they danced together. They did not speak. Abby turned and opened her eyes and looked deep into a pair of lustful green eyes. She told Abby it was OK to touch. Abby was nervous. The beat was inside her. The girl touched Abby’s face. She heard The Libertine in her head. “Don’t you want her? She wants you.” The girl leaned in and kissed Abby gently on the mouth. Her lips were soft and warm—softer than any other lips she had kissed but they were electric and they shocked her. She pulled back initially, confused, and the girl danced around her and then she was gone and Abby’s lips were aching. Abby was alone and then she was longing for the girl’s lips again. She scanned the room dizzily. She continued to dance. Through the darkness she saw the girl with another. The Libertine’s voice came again. “Take her. She is yours.” Her head ached. Then she was over by the girl. Her heart was beating. She was dancing with a tall, slender women who looked older. Abby grabbed the girl in the see-through dress and they looked at each other through the darkness. The girl smiled. She was behind Abby again and her hand came around her waste again. Her lips were on Abby’s neck. Her hands were on her body. They played with the belt on Abby’s playsuit. The music was growing. Abby thought about her lips. The Libertine watched them intently. Abby was facing the girl again. She did not really know how it happened but then they were kissing. Her tongue was in Abby’s mouth. She tasted this girl with her soft lips and her warm mouth and her playful tongue. Abby’s hands were on the girl’s side. The girl took one of Abby’s hands and put in on her breast and squeezed Abby’s hand. The Libertine’s voice told her it was OK. “Explore her. Explore yourself.” She smiled and moaned into Abby’s mouth. She then took Abby’s hand and slipped it under her dress and she made Abby touch her between her legs where she was wet and moist and she moaned again. She felt her fingertip slip inside and Abby pulled out. They kissed harder. The girl touched Abby. She touched her body over the playsuit. Abby felt a rush of feelings that she had never felt before. She had never even kissed a girl before. She felt a rush of sexual charge through her. The girl opened Abby’s belt. Although she did not know it at the time the girl in the Munch mask slipped the playsuit from over Abby’s shoulders and it fell to the floor. She pulled her closer and they kissed again. She touched Abby’s body; felt her between her legs over the material of her panties, which was damp with wetness. She traced Abby’s slit, felt at her sensitive spot which filled her with pleasure. Abby shuddered and moaned into her mouth. And then she was alone again. Another girl came and took the girl in the Munch mask away from Abby and they disappeared into the room. Abby danced alone and ran her hands over her body and through her hair. She imagined they were the girl’s hands and then she imagined they were his. She felt herself over her underwear. She touched herself. She touched her body and her skin and she danced faster and harder and wilder. She was sweating hard and she realised she was hot. She saw things in her head, but they were not her thoughts. She saw The Libertine with the young girl in the see-through dress. She was touching his body. Abby toyed with her thoughts. She saw this girl on her knees in front of him, taking his penis from inside his pants and then she watched as she took him in her mouth. She watched at the pleasure she administered to him. The Libertine was groaning out into the room as this young girl bobbed up and down in front of him, taking all of him in her mouth until he was fucking her throat and his balls were slapping on her chin. He pulled out and she gagged and tears fell from her face and saliva and semen fell from her mouth and then he fucked her throat again, his hands in her hair pulling her onto him and she accepted him in her throat. Abby danced harder to get the thoughts away. She shook them off but they were only replaced by the thoughts of him fucking this girl. The Libertine had bent her over, taking off the see-through dress she had on, and he slipped his length deep inside the tight, moist cunt that Abby had touched and he pounded her on one of the futons. Her cries filled the room as he assailed this young girl and Abby watched as this masked girl gave him such an unadulterated sense of pleasure. She hated seeing another girl with him—this stranger who she did not even know—and then there were others girls pleasuring him. She saw him and Arabella in the way he had described to her earlier in detail that told her it was not her thought she was seeing. She saw sunlight streaming between large a large portico. She was looking at Arabella through his eyes. Kissing her with his mouth. Hands came up in front of her and stripped the dress from Arabella’s body. As Abby’s dancing reached a crescendo she opened her eyes into the room and found she was breathless like the air had been sucked from this place. Other people surrounded her. Men and women. They were all dancing. A man in a cow’s head and a girl with a pig’s head touched her. The man grabbed Abby and she felt his hand inside her panties. She was sweating more. She started to feel uncomfortable. She felt scared. She felt like she was falling. She was dizzy. She pushed away and she started staggering around the room and then she fell. The Libertine caught her. He steadied her and she looked up at him. He was almost taken by surprise by what she did next, and she would admit that it shocked her too—she got on her tiptoes and she kissed him—hard. She then stepped back. Her head hurt. His lips were different although she could not explain it. He was smiling at her. She was confused. She pushed him away. She felt distressed.

“I should go.”


“I need to go.”


“No,” Abby said quickly. “I need to go. Let go of me.”

Time skipped forward. They were alone and suddenly he was stood naked, with only the mask of the Plague Doctor hiding his identity. Abby tried to steady herself and she looked at him. He was big and broad and had muscle on his chest. His body extended to eight or nine Esat Escort inches from between his legs and as he looked at her it seemed to grow. His body was tattooed with designs and pictures and numbers she had never seen or understood and she felt weak. The designs scared her. He looked at the numbers and told her it was his secret code. His presence shook her unexplainably; and then she saw the fire in his eyes again like she was looking directly into the heart of a volcano. He approached her, and she bit her bottom lip again as she tried to back away. She would later come to realise she did not know the exact moment she lost her playsuit but suddenly it was off her body and she was stood in front of him in her bra and blue laced panties. “Oh yes,” she heard him say as he studied her. He inhaled her scent, her fear, and every part of her. He longed to see what was under the mask but bound by the rules he could not. The Libertine looked at Abby in a way nobody had ever looked at her before. He looked at her with genuine lust and desire and for the first time she knew she was wanted. But she knew what he wanted and she did not want to give it to him. Her lips were crooked and nervous, her neck was slight and thin, and he followed the natural curvature of her body down to her long and slender legs. Nestled in the gap between in her thighs would be her small, pink entrance above which would be lightly garnished with stubble from where she had tried to shave her pubic hair. Her pallid complexion and pale white skin, her breathing harsh and her breasts rising and falling sharply and then he was in front of her, his hand searing her skin again.

“No,” she said. “I don’t want to.”

“Shhh,” he said quickly, his hand on her lips. “Don’t fight it.”

“I think I should go,” Abby said.

“You can’t leave. I am your protector.”

“No,” she screamed again and he slapped her hard, once, across the face.

“Yes,” she heard him say with force. “They did not treat you right. Those boys just used you for their own pleasure and gratification, and those men just for status and ego and power. I will show you things; make you feel things you never knew possible. I will make you feel how a woman should feel.” She felt herself stir. A foreign feeling filled her stomach and her loins but fear overcame her. Tears filled her eyes. “Stay with me. Come with me. Give yourself to me and I will show you everything.”

“No,” she said, pushing him away again. She looked for her playsuit but she could not find it. She was drunk. She was more distressed now. “I should leave. I want to go home.” He advanced. She backed away and then pushed past him and ran into the room. She looked for the door. “I want to go home.” She was crying. “I shouldn’t be here.”

“You are here. You brought yourself here. You lied yourself into here.” He was inside her head. She could not see him but she could hear his voice inside her. “Let yourself go,” he was saying. “You are better than those other people. The ones who use you and do not love you. You are much better than they are. Embrace it.”

“I want to leave. Let me leave.”

She found the door and threw it open and then she was running down a corridor. All the corridors look the same. She was lost. She was crying. She was scared. He continued in her head: “You are beautiful. You belong here. You want to give yourself to me.”


“Yes, baby. Do you want to go back to that place where they treat you like dirt? Do you want to go back to those people who lie to you and laugh at you? Free yourself—explore the limits of what it means to be free. You and me, we can rule this place.”

“No. You’re crazy.”

“Be better. Those people don’t care about you. They use you. Just like all the men that have used you. You are pathetic there. You are plain and boring with your pallid skin and your weedy body. You are not wanted. You are used because you are easy and accessible.”

“Stop it. No. Stop it. Leave me alone.”

“Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way. You are strong and beautiful here. You are interesting. You have purpose. You know you are. Explore your beauty. You know what you want if only you look. Give yourself to me. You want it. You know you do.”

“Leave me alone. You’re crazy. Leave me alone.”

“There is nothing there for you, child. You cannot go back to that place and to your bedroom and their rules and picking up boys on the street. You know you can’t.”


“No. Not after what you did. You remember that don’t you? They will come for you.” Flashback. John Boerman crumpled at the bottom of the stairs. Blood. Anger. Running. “The people here will come for you too. You should not be here and you know that and they know that. I have protected you from them. They will come for you and they will find you and you know what they will do if they find you.”

“No. You’re lying.”

“You know I’m not, baby. Be a good girl. Come back.”

Every room looked the same. She pushed passed people fucking and dancing and drinking. She was in another corridor. She felt like she was in a maze. She let the wall carry her to the floor. “I can protect you.”

She screamed out. “Get out of my head.”

She saw John Boerman at the care home. He shouted at her about his fall and about her leaving. “Look what happened, Abby. You did this. Why didn’t you do as I say?” She saw the Police and the other people she lived with. She saw them laughing at her. She saw them telling her what to do. She saw the man from the social office. They were all speaking at her. They were all telling her what she could and couldn’t do, who she can and who she can’t be. “No Abby, you can’t do that. You need to do this. You need to go here. You can’t see that person. Stop it, Abby. You’re acting out again. What are you wearing? Are you wearing hair spray? Why are you dressed like that?” She saw masked men at the end of the street. Watching her. Following her.

She screamed out again. “Make it stop!”

Fingers clicked.

She was back in the party. She was dancing. More men danced with her. Girls danced with her. She was given a drink and then she was drinking more. She was not crying now. She did not know how long it had been since she was on the floor by the wall. She was kissing another girl intensely. Her hands were in this girl’s hair pulling her closer. Her hands moved down to this girl’s breasts, and then Abby had her hands in this strange girl’s panties and she was fucking this girl with her fingers. Abby brought them out and tasted them and she liked how this girl tasted. A man was touching Abby. She felt his hand on her bum. She was kissing him with her tongue. His arm came around her and pulled her into him. She felt his penis against her back. His hands were inside her panties, inside her. She said, “no.” It was ignored. She was bent over. She felt a cock in her throat and she gagged and tried to protest but her noise was a mumble against the intrusion in her mouth. Behind her she felt her lips splitting and something slipping inside her. She cried out “no” onto the cock. “Want a good time, baby?” Bengay. The man in the car. She heard the engine. Felt it stop. He offered her more black magic. She felt herself taking it. Blurred reality. Music played. It was loud. She was on a chair now, her legs were open, and her panties to one side and a man with a mouse’s head was between her, inside of her. She shuddered and was crying. She was pleading. Someone had their hand on her ponytail and they were pulling on it tight. A girl was between her legs, eating her. She felt like she was floating on a cloud. She was dancing again. A waiter appeared with another drink. She took it in one. She pushed away a man who was advancing on her. Silence. And then she was back on the floor against the wall and he was in front of her. His presence was so much. He walked towards her. Him. The Libertine. He felt safe to her even though she wanted to be away as far away from him as she could. He approached her. He held out his hand.

“Come with me, baby. Let’s go some place where it is quiet and you can give yourself to me and I will come inside your special place.”

“I don’t know.”

“Why not?”

“I need to think.”

“Don’t think. I can show you things. I can show you your wildest dreams. I can show you everything. Come with me and I’ll show you what love is like, what it does and you’ll never have to think about it again. What else is there for a girl like you but to be sweet and pretty and give in?”

Her heart pounded and her head pounded. Abby felt the soft carpet under her feet. She walked over to where The Libertine waited. He held out his hand again. “That’s it, baby. That’s it, child.” His hand outstretched. She took it.

“That’s a good girl.”

She was back in the private room. Behind her was a four-poster bed and he told her to lie back on it and although she shook her head she found that her body had betrayed her. She was no longer in control and it scared her. Her head was a mess of confusion. She felt him against her, and then she felt his lips on her neck and she shuddered. He emanated a heat from his lips that burnt her. His hands were in her hair. Then slipping to his knees before her, he sniffed the exterior of her vagina, inhaling deeply, and then he breathed in the scent emergent from her asshole. He touched every single part of her and then suddenly she was naked. She felt him hook the lanced panties from under her and slowly trace them off her body and over her legs. She felt coolness between her thighs and then she felt his lips on her skin. She tried to protest but her words did not come out. She was feeling things she had never felt before. She heard herself elicit a gentle moan as he kissed closer to her cunt and he inhaled her scent again. She tried to push him away but he was too strong, too powerful. He was inside her mind corrupting her motor functions. She saw things that were not hers. Suddenly there was urgency inside her. It was like a red light was on inside her head. ‘Danger. Danger. Danger’ “No, wait,” she said. “Stop.” He tasted her cunt. She took in a sharp, shaking breath as his tongue ran across her slit and he felt her moisture. He was like a gentle fire across her loins as he suckled her throbbing, swollen hood and flicked her pulsating bean. His fingers probed at her. She tried to protest as he digitally stimulated her but her words were lost in the harshness of her breath as she moaned and reacted to his touch, his fingers searing inside of her, and she continued to try and protest right up until the moment she rose up over the edge of a burning peak that gently rippled through her lithe young body, a body which had been writhing and twisting against the mattress and his strong free hand that was clamped across her navel to stop her from moving. Even as she reached the crest and saw over the edge of the mountaintop he continued and her peak rose further and more pronounced and more powerful. The gentle ripple turned into a harsh convulsion. Her body was writhing as a tsunami tore through her followed by another. The Libertine withdrew his fingers from inside her, now coated with the light glistening of her orgasm, and he wrote something she could not make out on her body with her cum. She took a sharp intake of breath when he ran his tongue over the writing, tasting her, and then he whispered in her ear; “I’m going to come inside you where it’s all secret and you’ll give in to me.”

“No,” she heard herself saying shakily. She did not want this. She felt his lips on hers and her body now felt alien to her. She wanted to resist but was kissing him back even though her head was shaking. Her hands were free but she did not push him off. She felt him, felt his skin and his body and she went up into his mask and she traced the roughness of his face. She took in his scent. Musk. Sweat. Cologne. She thought she could smell Bengay on him. She tasted him, felt her mouth invaded by his tongue and suddenly he was a drug to her. She kissed him harder and moaned into his mouth. He let her touch him for a while and then his hands came down and pulled her arms back up over her head. She blinked. The room was gone and she was in a car. The Libertine was now a man with powder around his nose and a face she could not see. She tried to get up but a hand came across her face and she fell back. Her cheek stung. She was crying. Her eyes stung. She closed them and when they opened the car faded away and she was in the dark room with the red silk drapes and the big bed and filled with libidinous squalor. She could feel the bulb of his penis against her chest, throbbing with longing as he guided it towards the wet lips between her legs. His rigid heat brushed against her opening and an involuntary shudder rippled through her. She resisted again, she told him no. Her mind was conflicted, fracturing. The Libertine continued forward, splitting the wet lips of her sex with his member, drenching his length with her juices. Back and forth he goes, teasing her entrance, forcing her body to accept him and release more of her nectar for his pleasure. She whimpered in fear and a touch of arousal and she cried out into the room suddenly as he thrust up into her into untouched area and she felt huge and bloated like she was being forced apart and she conceded and she gave herself to this stranger. A fire burned inside of her. Her body rose up to meet him and he kissed her hard and then pushed her back. She heard herself protesting still but the voice sounded alien. She felt tears on her cheeks and she was crying again—harder. He settled against her womb and then he started to tease at her nipples. Her little white breasts and pink areolas seemed lost in his big hands. He stroked the soft skin underneath her breasts until they tingled and he toyed with her nipples with his thumbs, pinching them between his fingers until her nipples stiffened and began to ache. Her tight erogeneity opened up for him. She tried to wriggle but his hand held hers above her head. She felt him kissing at her body and her breasts. He thrust up into her again and again and again and he groaned out into the emptiness of this dark place at the tightness of this young girl’s promise. Each time his pelvis slapped against her she moaned out and a soft, gentle, quiet feminine whimper left her mouth. Her back arched as he slammed into her hard and he groaned out as their pubic bones crunched, and then he started to rock his hips, faster and harder until he was pounding at her, assailing her. She had been with people before but she had not known this. She had not known a man to use and defile her like this and he leaned in and told her he was going to do everything he had ever done to a woman to her. His eyes were filled with concupiscent wonder and concurrent fear and terror. His eyes were filled with so much anger and fire and rage. She heard herself asking him to stop but her words were lost in the guttural sound of her moaning and then she found herself kissing him, kissing at his lips as if they were air and she needed him to breathe. She felt his hand come up and clasp around her throat and then she felt him closing in and she struggled for breath. Muzak played from somewhere and above it she heard her own moans and the slapping of his balls against her ass. He fucked her. She started to feel something beginning in her toes, a tingling that quickly rose up through her body and then something peaked and tore through her like a firework rising up before exploding and when it popped her body vibrated and she shook violently as a searing tsunami of orgasm took control of her and her body convulsed in complete hedonism. She was gone now—her mind was a mess of feelings and emotion. She had fractured. He was taking her in every way that he could. He continued to choke her until she felt light headed. Her hands clawed at The Libertine, pulling him harder into her, and he did not stop. He continued his assault on her young body, feeling her tightness accepting the girth of his extension and he groaned out as her oily secretion covered the bulb of his penis. She was breathless but he continued to fuck her with abandon as a second wave tore through her and then a third and then she panted, her breath shaking. His hand around her throat tightened still. She was light headed now. Limp. She did not know how many times she had cum. She was drained, and then she heard him groan out as he exploded inside of her, and she felt a burning inferno from within his rogue member as his seed plastered her womb and then the inferno began tearing through her body, spreading to every single nerve ending and she was burning up, sweating from her pores. She was like that for a while—she did not know how long—suspended in a drained emptiness like she was the only person in the world. She drifted in and out. She felt his semen leaking out of her and running down her thigh and pooling on the bed. She had a dull throbbing and soreness between her thighs. She heard noises but she could not make them out. He said something to her but she could not understand what it was. She felt a sharp burning pain in her bum and then things went dark…

She felt herself falling through darkness and then she was somewhere and nowhere, like she was suspended in nothingness. She saw things. Heard voices that were familiar to her. She saw a burning inferno engulfing the darkness. She saw a rush of visions of her life. She was older. She saw people she did not recognise. She saw happiness and success. She saw clear blue skies and endless oceans and sandy beaches. She felt more joy than she had ever felt. She heard music playing and waves crashing against the rocks. She heard laugher. A baby cried. Someone was telling her it was a boy. She felt overwhelming happiness. And then she felt pain and suffering. The sun went behind the darkest of clouds and the waves became harsher and more powerful and she heard a wind so strong it was like a hundred hurricanes all in one. She saw eyes in the sky. A man with fire in his eyes. She looked into them and thought she understood the eyes. He was the wind and the rain and the darkness. He was the fire and the morning star. He was the blazing inferno. He was every bad dream she had ever had. He was all of Abby’s worst nightmares. He was lust and jealousy and greed and envy and gluttony and pride and wrath and sloth. He was the poisonous tree and the fruit that fell from it. He was pestilence and war and famine and death. He was every dark thought in her head, every terrible moment and every worst fear. He was the end of everything. She felt a pain inside her like she was being torn apart. Her body stung and nerves screamed and her muscles ached. She was doubled over in pain. She felt like her body was going to fragment outwards into a million little pieces. She felt loss. She heard a baby in distress. She heard screaming and then the screaming rose like a tenor to a pitch so unbelievable, so unbearable that she thought her head was going to explode.

Abby woke suddenly. Her hair was matted to the pillow and her forehead and for the first few moments—when she was awake but not aware—she was the picture of contentment. She was in those precious few moments when you first wake up, the one where your eyes struggle to accept the light that comes in that burning white blur and that makes you to fight to keep them open. The moments where everything is peaceful and perfect and where you could have been anyone and anywhere, and then Abby came back to herself as her consciousness woke up and the day had started and her surroundings came to her quickly. She wondered where she was and then she took a sharp intake of breath and in those first few moments her diaphragm went into spasm and she struggled for breath and she lay, her mouth open, gasping for air until it came in a wave and she took as much in as she could. She shot up and rubbed her beady eyes and they scanned the room quickly. Her breathing settled. Her black playsuit was hung up on her wardrobe. She was home. Her breathing started to settle just a little bit. Her throat was dry and her lips were sore and had that white crusting like she had been out for a night on the drink. Her head thumped with a pounding as if someone with a jackhammer was inside working on her cranium. The bed sheet below her was damp with the wetness caused from her sweating. She was in a thin white nightgown that was stuck to her back and her navel and she had on a pair of plain white cotton panties underneath. She had a throbbing between her legs and soreness in her thighs that she could not attribute anything to. She tried to remember but her memories were black as if they had been erased and the more she thought the more she was greeted with emptiness—as if someone had put a tape in the machine that was her head but when they had pressed play it was just grey and black static like it had recorded nothing at all. She contorted her face hard as if trying to remember but she could not, and then she found she was crying in frustration at what eluded her. It was surreal. She knew something should have been there.

For a time—the exact length she was not entirely sure—she sat in the middle of the bed, legs crossed and the sheets pushed down—just thinking and looking into nothingness. She combed her hair back with her hands. Her pallid complexion was stained with the tracks of her tears that ran down her face and dotted around the bedding. Her last cogent memory was of music playing from the speaker in the corner of the room. It was of being out on the streets walking to somewhere. It was a sleek black car curb crawling. It was the smell of Bengay. A voice: “Looking for a good time, baby?” The more she tried to think the more her head hurt. After a while she breathed out and she looked up into the room. Grey morning light was streaming through the gaps in the curtains. Moisture was on the window but the rain had abated. Particles in the room floated as if existing in their own time frame. Time. Something thumped in her head. She felt like she had lost time. A clock ticked in the corner of the room. It was 09:23 AM. She pictured a clock with no hands ticking. She heard something in her head saying time did not exist. The headache returned stronger. She started to look around. Something caught her eye, a glint of something golden, and she turned and a scream got lost in her throat and she just ended up making a frightened noise. She jumped up. Sitting on the pillow next to where she had been sleeping was a mask—golden and bright and covered with a golden floral pattern. She thought it familiar but she did not know where she had seen it before. She reached out and touched it. She whipped her finger back suddenly as if an electric shock tore through her and she saw herself wearing the mask in a strange room. Dark drapes covered the windows. She was stood with someone but she could not see his or her reflection. They were saying something but the voice sounded distant like it was being spoken under water. The thought disappeared. She reached out again and picked it up and she ran her hands over the design. Her head thumped. She turned to see who she was stood with but the memory was too quick and then it was lost and no matter how much she tried she vision eluded her. Her head hurt again and it forced her eyes closed. She rubbed her forehead.

Abby stood in the shower melancholic. The water cascaded down over her naked body. She turned up the temperature and let it sear at her skin. She liked to feel the burn as it washed all the grime and sweat from her body. There had been blood in her panties when she had taken them off. She had started menarche a couple of years before but she did not think she was due her cycle for another few weeks. Her bum was sore. She felt bloated as if she was swollen. She stood under the water and let it pour down over her head. Memories were like flashbacks, quick and impossible to decipher. She saw the mask in her head. She heard fruity music. Voices she did not recognise but they were not cogent and they did not make sense to her. She ran her hands over her body; she felt her skin tingling and burning. She closed her eyes and she could hear a voice talking to her but it was too far away. She heard someone call her “baby.” She touched her lips and they were seared and dry. She was picturing a girl kissing her but she could not see her face. She screamed out into the water and then she started to cry again although she did not know why.

She had been laid on her bed looking up at the cracked plaster on her ceiling for a long time before the knocking on the door disturbed her. She took in breath and then looked up for a little longer.

“Abby. Abby are you in there? Abby.”

With a lethargy she attributed to whatever she had gone through the previous night she pulled herself up off the bed and walked across to the door. She felt tired. Her body ached. She was in a loose tee and some black leggings. She caught her reflection in the mirror and thought she looked unwell. She opened the door and gasped and staggered back. John Boerman was not an old man. He had kind eyes and a round face and he was probably around thirty. He smiled at Abby and asked if she was OK and she remembered—rage and anger and aggression. She saw herself out of body, arguing, fighting and then she was pushing him back down the stairs and he tumbled and fell until he lay in a silent heap at the foot of the stairs. She could see the blood pooling from his head. She saw the smear on the wall from where his head had hit it. Her hands were shaking.

“Abby what’s wrong?”

She tried to speak but words did not leave her open mouth. He smiled at her again. “The Police just have a few follow up questions, Abby. It’s procedure. It won’t take long. They’re just really concerned about you after what happened. You were in quite a state when they found you. Are you feeling any better?”

She was confused. Her head hurt even more. She looked at him. He did not display any injuries. His head looked together and healthy and bruise-less and clean. How could that be? She studied him silently. “I’m so sorry for what happened,” she said after a moment. “I did not mean to hurt you last night. I’m so sorry.”

He looked at her quizzically but he did not directly answer him. “Come on, Abby. You’ve been through a lot this last few days.”

He led her towards the stairs by his big arm and she went with him, shakily. Few days? What did he mean ‘few days?’ When they had found her? Found her where? She apologised to him again and promised him that she would change and then as they started to go down the stairs and he looked at her with that funny, quizzical look again and said—“But Abby, I don’t know what on Earth you’re talking about…”

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