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« MO »
About the Author
Charles Romalotti is based in Austin, Texas and the author of Salad Days and Rash. He is currently working on two more novels, Talon and The Stickler. Talon is the sequel to Rash and will be available sometime in 2002.
« MO »

Ill | Kit McAllister

Charles Romalotti
The music throbbed with an irritating screech, mechanical in origin with the accuracy of a computer. It was a systematic pulse, clamoring like machinery, droning. Heads bobbed and bodies slithered, grinding to the methodical rhythm as white stage-lights exploded with blinding intensity. Then suddenly darkness. The room was invisible, lit only by random candles as the rhythm of the machines grated into a convulsing surge of power like the passions of an android orgy.
On the screen behind the stage were the letters The Skin Ensemble glowing a faint gray, barely visible. A sullen silhouette of a man stepped onto the empty stage, followed by a woman. The crowd edged close to the stage, standing before the blue orchids. Smoke rolled onto the floor, rising in a swirling haze.
A flash of light ignited from the stage floor like a fiery fountain. In its glow was a tall and lean man wearing only a pair of leather jockey shorts and crisscrossing leather straps that were joined with silver hoops from his navel to his chest. His face was ghastly, near death and painfully thin. His eyes were closed with only the concave of his sockets painted with black eyeliner. There was no trace of hair on his head, including his eyebrows–completely waxed. A tattoo of a snake seemed to slither down the middle of his head like a mohawk. The tongue of the snake split in place of his widow’s peak, lapping at his narrow forehead. Its green rapturous eyes were clearly present, even in the stark lighting. He slowly raised his hands outward from his body as the music grated around him. He appeared ominous and evil, like a servant of the underworld, fresh from death. In his hands were two leather floggers, and as he slowly raised them over his head, the tresses covered his face like a leather veil. The music stopped and the lights went out again. The crowd cheered with lewd anticipation.
Treva assumed this mysterious person was whom she had come to meet, Talon. Treva stared with unbridled enthusiasm, eagerly awaiting the return of light to her world. She wanted him to use those whips on someone, she wanted to see their pain. Her breathing became irregular. She squeezed her legs tightly together as she imagined being on all fours in front of him with an arched back, submitting to the leather. She yearned for the structure of the lash.
The music returned, grinding, throbbing... lapping at the audience with swift strokes of brutal punishment like cold metal on hot, sticky skin. The lights exploded once again, revealing two topless young girls bowing at Talon’s side. With an unyielding expression and a calculated sense of motion, he advanced toward them.
He grabbed the bleached hair of the first one, coiling a hard fist in her clean hair. He yanked her head back forcefully, albeit gently. She looked at him uneasily, though perfectly relaxed. He moved his lips close to hers, slowly, passionately. He stopped within an inch, keeping her edged with desire as she stared at his mouth. He gave no expression, and no indication of a single thought. He then spit on her face and yanked her head so that she stared helplessly at the ceiling. His saliva dripped from her chin as he pulled his other hand back over his shoulder, lashing her back with his leather flogger. It cracked against her frail skin, ringing clearly over the music that scratched its way through the club’s stone walls. She arched her back with desire as he pulled her head close to him once again. He leaned over her and stuck out his tongue, allowing his saliva to drip down into her open mouth. He relentlessly whipped her across the back several times, forcing her to grimace in painful desire. He let loose of her hair and stepped forward to the other young girl.
She stared at him uneasily, though she seemed strangely anxious and excited. A smile worked its way into her expression until he slapped her gingerly across the face. Her expression changed briefly, then the smile returned. She beckoned the scourge to be repeated. He gave it to her, leaving her cheek rosy red. She craved more. He could sense this, and therefore he returned to the other girl, leaving her wanting, frustrated with desire.
He swiftly grabbed the blond by her shoulders and raised her to the metal chair. Twirling his flogger in his hand, flexing his pale muscular body, he looked up at the audience that gave their undivided attention. With tremendous force, he slashed the tresses across her body, leaving a red streak across her flat chest. A second blow wrapped around her ribcage, staining her side with a throbbing bruise. His strike was otherwise precise. As the music lost its momentum, so did he. He left her propped against the chair with her petite hand dangling passively to the floor. Her chest was lined with red streaks like a grid.
The lights faded quickly as coldwave music swiftly changed the mood. Tension filled the air with awkward enthusiasm. Slowly, red lights flooded the small stage. Talon was on his knees with his hands behind his back. His body was speckled with sweat. It dripped from his brow onto the stage. The young girls were gone. He was alone, kneeling in a pool of red light with his head bowed to the ground.
An Asian woman glided onto the stage, shifting her hips from side to side with a saucy sway. Her black hair was straight and long. A tight black latex dress was all she wore, though generously revealing it was. Over her small chest was a pattern of tattoos of leopard spots that crawled up around her neck and down the spine of her back. Just how far they went was only decided with a strong imagination.
She leaned down to his bald head and licked the sweat from his hot, clammy skin.
As the aggressive Industrial beats ignited once again, she raised her hand, holding up a silver hook to the crowd’s delight. A white string dangled from the end of it. She brought the hook to her partner’s skin, caressing his muscular back with its cold metal surface. Her black hair fell over her pale shoulders, arriving on Talon’s hairless head. She suddenly sunk the hook into the pale skin of his back, releasing a small stream of blood as she shoved it through and back out his skin. His expression maintained like a statue as she yanked on the string, pulling his skin firmly. She raised another hook to the riveted crowd. Without hesitation, she plunged the hook into his skin on the opposite side of his back, allowing the blood to drip down his spine. She bowed to her knees, licking the blood from his body, cleaning the wounds with her tongue. She glanced up at the crowd with red lips that seemed to drip from her mouth, down her chin. Her face was free of feeling, free of emotion. It aroused the crowd. It aroused Treva. Her hands became coiled fists as she squeezed her legs tightly together, grinding them against each other under the bar.
“This is some fucked up shit,” Jobie mumbled to her.
Treva nodded slowly as she moistened her lips with her firm tongue.
The Asian woman yanked upward on the hooks, forcing the man to his feet. She pulled his face to hers. They stared into each other’s eyes longingly before she revealed to him a long silver needle. She placed it in his hands before kissing him. With their lips locked, she lowered the needle between their noses, firmly through their overlapped lips. The crowd cheered as they remained pierced together, connected by the needle. The music grated and the lights diminished around them.
The Skin Ensemble show was over.
The music continued with its blistering madness of modern mechanized grit. The dance floor filled once again.
Treva grabbed Jobie’s hand, pulling him to the stage. She led him through the darkness with her hormones piqued by desire, finding the foot of the stage amongst the blue orchids.
Green lights suddenly lit the stage, sending a glowing hue through the club’s artificial fog. Treva looked up only to find Talon towering over her, looking down upon her with hollow eyes. Two holes dripped fresh blood from his lips onto the blue orchids.
“You have something we want,” Treva screamed in vain over the music. “Dickhead sent us.”
He crouched to the edge of the stage, showing recognition of her statement. He grabbed her hand and pulled her up to the stage, leaving Jobie alone with his Asian partner. Jobie climbed the stage as Treva was cavorted off to the rear by Talon. Jobie stood next to the Asian woman, staring at her. She could sense his confusion, though not a word came from her bloodied lips.
“I liked the show,” he finally told her.
She stared at him evenly, not even blinking.
He looked to the ground, waiting uncomfortably for Treva to return. “My name is Jobie.”
She simply stared at him, allowing the blood to drip from her chin onto her latex outfit. He followed its course, watching the blood trickle down her sweaty chest.
“Nice tattoos.” He wasn’t sure if he was speaking to a human or a machine. He decided on a different approach to instigate a reaction from her otherwise tacit front. “I like your tits, can I see them?”
She shook her head evenly.
“Do you have a name?” he asked.
She stared silently, unmoved.
“I said I like your tits, can I see them?”
She shook her head again.
Treva emerged through the darkness with a silly-girl grin. She wandered across the stage, smiling shamelessly into the crowd. She shot a fist into the air as she stepped up to Jobie. “Score!” She held out four hits of acid. “Where is Opaque and Tamika?”
“I don’t know,” Jobie said. “Give them to me, I’ll find them. These people are weird.”
Treva placed the small cutout papers in his hand, taking one for herself and placing it on her tongue. Jobie wandered through the crowd, seeking out his brother and Tamika.
Talon grabbed Treva’s bony fingers with a tender grip. She looked into his eyes, wading through the darkness of his soul.
“I liked your show,” she giggled innocently to him.
His face was coarse and hard, frozen. The blood colored his lips like cherries. He softly gripped her fingers. His Asian counterpart stood at his side somberly.
“I understand it,” Treva said, not fully knowing what her words meant herself. “The discipline over pain, it’s spiritual, isn’t it?” The cold hardness of his eyes answered her question without words. “I’m Treva,” she sang happily, introducing herself to both of them.
Talon pulled her hand, bringing her off the stage to a back room–a green room painted black. The Asian woman closed the door behind them, locking them inside. One light bulb dangled from the ceiling, sending hard shadows over their faces. There was a pungent odor to the room. The stench of it was sickening.
“Spiritual... ” the Asian woman said aloud as he glared at Treva’s bright eyes. “How far would you look to find God?”
“I don’t believe in God,” she admitted. “God wouldn’t have allowed certain things to happen to me. Even if he existed, I couldn’t believe in him.”
“You don’t need to look any further than this room to find God,” Treva was told.
Treva raised a brow of disbelief. There was a silence that surrounded them, though the music vibrated through the walls. The stench of the room was revolting. And the bright light blazed over a scratched mirror, burning their tender eyes into tight slits. Treva felt like a tourist in their presence, though she wasn’t sure where the trip would be taking her. The atmosphere felt synthetic, a byproduct of their ritualistic behavior.
“I don’t even know both your names,” Treva said with a throaty laugh. Her voice was trill.
“I’m Talon. This is Phaedra Lin.” The timbre of his voice was like a raspy whisper. Barely audible, even in the awkward silence.
Treva bowed her head politely to Phaedra. The gesture was not returned.
Talon wandered over to a wooden desk. He opened a drawer and removed a small leather pouch. He returned to the two of them, standing uncomfortably close to Treva.
“You’re right,” he breathed softly to Treva. His soothing voice was hollow with what seemed to be indifference. “Spiritualism.”
Treva smiled. “I suppose so. You’re never really doing something bad until someone tells you that you are... right?”
There was no reply.
“I mean, that’s why you do it,” she decided. Her discomfort was numbing, she wanted nothing more than to leave, but something kept her. “Where is this... this thing that you talked about?”
“Thing?” Phaedra asked with a pointed glare.
Treva grimaced at her expression. She found her to be stunningly beautiful, it made her sick with jealousy.
Phaedra looked to Talon and nodded. He received her wordless thoughts clearly, and his own silent expression displayed his approval. He grabbed Phaedra’s hand and pulled a hypodermic needle from the black pouch. He pricked her finger with it, digging deep into her skin until the blood flowed readily. Taking hold of Phaedra’s wrist, he moved it to Treva’s mouth, placing her bloody finger on Treva’s limp lips. Treva stuck out her tongue, licking the fluid that soured her lips like salt. She sucked Phaedra’s finger deeper into her mouth, drinking the blood, devouring it with a thirst she had never known. Talon lifted Treva’s hand, piercing her finger with the needle, plunging it into his mouth, sucking the blood from the small wound. He punctured his own hand before placing it in Phaedra’s receptive lips. Together they stood in silence, drinking each other’s blood, feeling the life pour down their throats.
Treva’s heart intensified its pulse as she licked and sucked on Phaedra’s bony finger. The blood pooled at the base of her tongue, igniting her senses with sapphic prurience.
Phaedra reached up and grabbed Treva’s upper arm, squeezing it tightly. She could feel the pressure of blood swelling in her arm. She closed her eyes and concentrated on Phaedra’s digits that bled inside her lips. She felt a prick in her upper arm, shocking her. She opened her eyes to see that Talon had plunged the hypodermic needle deep into one of her throbbing veins. She gasped uneasily until the fluid entered her body. She could feel it moving up her arm, changing her entire chemistry into grand divinity. The gritty atmosphere of the poorly lit room suddenly transformed into the most beautiful place she could ever possibly imagine. She was surrounded by love–a hyper-orgasmic sense of love and being that was perfectly alien, perfectly perfect. Truly blissful, euphoric. The release of death couldn’t be any better, heaven couldn’t even be close... the vomit itself, warm and filled with blood, it was absolutely breathtaking... a trip to Eden, a dance with angels.
They were absolutely right, she had embraced divinity.
This excerpt comes from the novel Rash, an incredibly intense read available through Amazon or Layman Books.