After the torchlight red on sweaty faces
After the frosty silence in the gardens
After the agony in stony places
The shouting and the crying
Prison and place and reverberation
Of thunder of spring over distant mountains
He who was living is now dead
We who were living are now dying
With a little patience
What the Thunder Said, The Wasteland
T.S. Eliot, 1922
Consciousness delivered him up into a sea of black panic. Still he was blind, and still his heavy body pressed against the stone floor. This was not what had been promised to him. Where the angels? Where the light of God? Where the heavenly hosts singing praises? Where the Blessed Mother? Where the pure ecstatic bliss of union with the creator?
And yet he knew without a doubt that he no longer lived. For all the fear he felt, his heart did not beat in his chest. He filled his lungs with the damp, cold air, and even as he did so, he knew that if he never took another breath, it would not matter.
Daniel lay on his side and drew his arms into his chest. Not against the cold – the cold didn’t matter – but to assure himself that he was corporeal. The chains attached to the manacles slid against the stones, sending up eerie sparks against the total darkness. And in those fluttered moments of illumination, he saw Francisco, his tormentor.
“I am dead,” said Daniel.
“In hell?” he asked.
“No,” replied Francisco. “Even hell lies within God’s purview. You are with me, far beyond it.”
The other man was seated against the far wall of the cell. His doublet open, his shirt black with blood in the monochrome light of the sparks. Daniel moved his chains again to see him better.
Francisco didn’t reply. Now, even without the sparks, Daniel could make out the man’s form, as if the light from the sparks didn’t really die out. Once born, they flared and then leeched into the air, making it glow with a dim light.
“Where?” Daniel asked again, louder, his throat parched, his word cracked in two.
A great rage seized Daniel. “Tell me! Tell me, you bastard! You sodomite! You son of a whore!”
The man laughed. It had an empty sound to it. “Aren’t you thirsty, Brother Daniel?”
And suddenly Francisco’s question unlocked the key to an enormous door. He was thirsty – terribly, achingly thirsty. Daniel considered lying. Why should he show this monster any weakness? But as the thoughts formed in his mind, his craving erupted into a screaming need. The muscles in his legs and arms and along his flanks began to tremble with it. He could not think for wanting.
Francisco lunged towards him without ever getting to his feet, like cat in a burst of speed, he was at Daniel’s side, his face inches from him.
“Water? Wine? Piss? What would you drink, Brother.”
“Anything,” croaked Daniel. He struggled weakly to sit up, but his arms could hardly hold his weight. “Anything, Don Francisco.”
It was the insidious thirst that forced him address the monster with such delicacy, the thirst that tuned the plaintive, begging quality of his voice.
“So humble, Brother Daniel! Where is your self-righteous pride now?”
“I have no pride,” Daniel whimpered. “It is the will of God, the will of the Holy Mother Church that guides me.”
Francisco’s hand shot out and gripped Daniel’s neck, shoving him onto his back. Daniel’s skull hit the stone with a hollow thud. “Oh, such pretty, pretty words, Brother. Well,” he hissed, getting to his feet, straddling the prone monk, “you have paid for your faith with a martyrdom like no other.”
“Please… give me something to drink. I’m so thirsty. For the love of God,” begged Daniel. He reached up his shackled arms, clutching onto Francisco’s legs. “I beg you.”
“Only one thing will serve to slake your thirst, dear Brother.” The man pulled his cock out of his already open breeches and aimed a stream of ice-cold urine onto Daniel’s face and chest.
The reek of ammonia filled his nostrils, but the thirst was stronger. Daniel opened his mouth to gulp at the stream, desperate and abased. He gagged and swallowed, the fluid burning as it went down his throat.
After the first few mouthfuls, Daniel’s thirst rose up like an all-consuming demon. He turned his head away and moaned. “You bastard,” he whimpered.
“Only one thing,” teased Francisco. He tucked himself back into his clothes and stepped away, brushing off Daniel’s grasp. At the metal bound door of the cell, he paused and then unlatched it, sending a burning shaft of torchlight into the stone room. “And when you discover what that is, we’ll be even and my sister’s murder will be avenged.”
* * *
Alone, he wept. He prayed to God and then he raged at Him. The thirst did not wane, and he could find no peace in sleep. The craving clawed him back to consciousness again and again, until in utter despair, Daniel crawled to the wall he was shackled to and began to pound his head against the stones. God had forsaken Brother Daniel Ortiz de Velez; of this he was certain. With every blow, with every painful impact, the fact that his Maker had abandoned him was driven, like Christ’s nails, deeper into his heart.
Had he not served God? Had he not given over his whole life to the rooting out of evil and blasphemy? Had he not steeled himself against the cries of those pitiful sinners and done what had to be done? Had he not brought them, willing or recalcitrant, to God?
Daniel had taken their confessions, hundreds of them, by faith, by fear, by force, but always to the Glory of the Father and into the arms of the Church. And when he could not, he had sent them to the purifying fire. He had cleansed the earth of their godless infection. He had done it knowing what God demanded of him.
And his sins, his lust? Had he not done penance for them? Had he not confessed every single black thought and feeling? Had he not purged them sincerely with every act of flagellation?
He had done it all. And come to this. The pain he felt as he slammed his forehead into the stone still would not drive away his dreadful thirst, but he persevered in the faint hope that it would until he was too weak. Then, he curled up on the floor and wept again.
* * *
Hours later, or perhaps days, for the thirst distorted his mind, the door to the cell opened. The light beyond framed the tall figure of Don Francisco and, with him, a smaller figure. Daniel squinted for a moment in the ferocious glare.
“I have brought you what you need, Brother Daniel.”
As his eyes adjusted to the light, Daniel saw that the smaller figure was a woman. She was young and unclothed, and painfully thin. The bones in her hips stretched the flesh across her hollow belly and hunger had robbed her of even the smallest bosom. Her hair was black and matted. She was trembling and weeping quietly.
“Hush yourself, girl. Look what we have for you here,” Francisco said, sweeping his hand in Daniel’s direction. “A venerable Priest of the Order of Jesus. Don’t you want to confess your sins to him? After all, you’re a whore.” He aimed a vicious smile at Daniel. “And who better to give you absolution than a member of the court of Inquisition?”
The girl stared down at Daniel, her face crumbling into tears of terror. “He’s not a priest, Sir. He’s…he’s hardly even a man.”
Francisco pushed the girl further into the cell. “Don’t let the lack of robes, or crucifix, or bible fool you, my dear. He’s a very, very devout. So devout in fact, that he can read God’s mind. Why don’t you kneel, girl? In the presence of such saintliness, I think you ought to.” A rough shove brought the girl to her knees, within a foot of where Daniel lay, and she yelped as her knees hit the stone.
Daniel could smell her – fear, sweat and stale semen – and not just her. Daniel could smell the ghosts of the men she’d serviced. To his disgust, it made his mouth water and his thirst claw at his belly. He eyed her thin chest, the meagre breasts were laced with tiny blue veins that radiated out from her nipples, and spread over her bony chest. Her heartbeat, thudding below the high rushing of her shallow breaths, beckoned him closer, but he fought to resist.
“Take her away, for God’s sake! I will not break my vows. I will not!” Daniel shouted.
“Oh, you’ll break more than your vows, Brother,” said the man. He kneed the girl’s back to unbalance her, sending her sprawling against Daniel’s body.
The moment Daniel felt her heat against his skin he wanted to scream. The scent of her enveloped him in a haze of rich carnality. In his mind, he pushed her from him, but his arms were already around her, the chains dragging against the floor as he pulled her body to his.
The beating of her heart filled his arms, entering into his empty chest and driving the pump of an insatiable lust. All that he knew was that he had to be in her. He had to crawl into her skin to put an end to his own torment.
She struggled weakly as he covered her frail body with his own. He had never had a woman, but instinct guided him, brutally pushing her legs apart and sliding the erection he hadn’t noticed until that very moment, into her heat.
But it wasn’t enough. Vaguely he realized that Francisco stood watching him as he soiled himself with this whore. It only made the unfocused hunger worse. He thrust himself into her hole, slick with other men’s seed, over and over.
Instead of crying out, the girl beneath him arched her hips and groaned. He stared down at her, stunned, disgusted.
“Oh, yesss,” she hissed. “All you priests have the juiciest cocks! Maybe it’s all that wanting and not getting.”
Daniel thrust harder, feeling the tip of his prick slam against the end of her passage, imagining himself pushing through, through into her womb, into her hot blood.
“Uh! Do it, priest. That’s it,” the girl beneath him panted. “Don’t stop.”
He couldn’t stop. Nothing in the world could make him stop, nor in heaven either. No spectre of everlasting damnation could compete with the hot, wet grip around his cock. Every thrust seemed like it was the one that would force him to spend, but every thrust promised the next.
The thirst that had abated for a few blessed moments as he coupled overtook him with a ferocity that blinded him. With an animal growl, he gathered the girl upright in his arms, pulling her onto his cock. She squealed and pumped her hips, flinging her arms around his neck, pressing her breasts to his chest. The pulse in her neck roared against the side of Daniel’s face. Like a flooded dam, like a vessel that begged to be broken, its contents spilled.
“You know what you really want,” said the voice behind the girl.
Don Francisco was on his knees, his face grim, his eyes locked to Daniel’s. He nodded. “You know, Brother.”
As Daniel’s need to spend grew, he felt an itch in his jaw. A desire to sink more than just his prick into the girl in his lap. His balls ached to release, and yet he couldn’t. He pulled the girl down onto him with increasing brutality, growling with frustration.
“You know,” whispered Francisco. “Do it!”
The girl in his arms was shuddering. Her thin spine arching, passage contracting around his cock, she threw her head back. “Oh, god…Yes. Fuck! Do it!” she screamed.
In one adamantine moment, Daniel plunged his newly born fangs into the girl’s neck, and at the same time, relinquished a torrent of seed into her body.
She screamed again, but this time it was not in pleasure. A ruddy surge of liquid heat washed over Daniel’s face. He had to grope with his mouth to cover it. The moment he did, he came again, feeling the hot jet of blood hit the roof of his mouth, and then he drank. Meekly at first, and then sucking as the flow tapered off.
The woman convulsed as she died in his arms. He could feel her tightening around his cock in waves as her body fought the darkness overtaking it. It caused him to orgasm again.
That he had gained his last flood of pleasure in the throes of her dying, more than anything else he had experienced in the last hour, was what drove him past the edge of sanity.