Welcome to Part 28 of “Woman of His Dreams”! If you’re new to my dark little erotic tale, you can find the start here!
Enjoy, and remember, dreams often have a life of their own…
by Angela Caperton
The Looped Cross of Elyssium
By Angela Caperton and Nathanial Hawthorne
Bright were the days at Elyssium, when the looped cross was the banner staff of that gay colony! They who reared it, should their banner be triumphant, were to pour sunshine over New England’s rugged hills, and scatter their seed throughout the soil. Jollity and gloom were contending for an empire.
Never had the looped cross been so worshipped as at sunset on midsummer eve. But what was the wild throng that stood hand in hand about the upright scepter? It could not be that the fauns and nymphs, when driven from their classic groves and homes of ancient fable, had sought refuge, as all the persecuted did, in the fresh woods of the West. These were ancient monsters, though perhaps of antediluvian ancestry. From the brow of a comely youth arose the moist tendrils of an enormous snail; a second, human in all other points, had the ivory visage of a skinned wolf; a third, still with the trunk and limbs of a mortal man, showed the tentacles and beak of a squid. There was the likeness of a white ape erect, a brute in all but his hind legs, which were adorned with black silk stockings. And here again, almost as wondrous, stood a real ape of the dark forest, lending each of his gnarled paws to the grasp of a human hand, and as ready for the dance as any in that circle. His inferior nature rose half way, to meet his companions as they stooped.
Other faces wore the similitude of man or woman, but distorted with lustful excess, lascivious tongues and rolling eyes. Here might be seen the Savage Man, well known in heraldry, hairy as a baboon, and girdled with green leaves. Some youths and maidens wore nothing at all, but appeared in the same garb that delighted the serpent of Eden before the discovery of shame. Such were the colonists of Elyssium, as they stood in the broad smile of sunset round their venerated looped cross.
Had a wanderer, bewildered in the melancholy forest, heard their mirth, and stolen a half-affrighted glance, he might have fancied them midway between man and beast. But a band of men in somber garb, who watched the scene, invisible themselves, regarded the sportive throng with cold eyes and quiet rage.
“Votaries of the looped cross,” cried the flower-decked priest, “merrily, all day long, have the woods echoed with your cries. But be this your most fervid hour, my hearts! Lo, here stand I, a clerk of Oxford, and high priest of Elyssium, to consecrate the union we will all enjoy this hour.” Beside him stood the presiding priestess of the village, Juliette St. Clair, holding tightly in her graceful hand to a little semblance of the great looped cross about which they all had gathered.
Immediately a prelude of pipe, cithern, and viol, touched with practiced minstrelsy, began to play from a neighboring thicket, in such wild cadence that the great looped cross vibrated with the sound.
Unfortunately, there were men in the new world of a harder faith than those worshippers of bright Eros. Not far from Elyssium was a settlement of seeming Puritans, most dismal wretches, who said their prayers before daylight, and then wrought the darkest delights in the forest or the cornfield till evening made it prayer time again. Their weapons were always at hand to shoot down the straggling savage or unwary traveler.
Juliette and the priest, who was her mate Octavian, knew the darkest secrets of that grim band – that all their pretense to purity was naught but a mask for the worship of gods far more depraved and dangerous than the nature deities of Elyssium, but they believed with all their hearts that the village of pious monsters had been left far behind them.
Now, with the setting sun, the last day of mirth had passed from Elyssium. The ring of celebrants was disordered and broken; the snail lowered his tendrils in dismay; the wolf grew weaker than a lamb; the bells of the morris-dancers tinkled with tremulous affright. True Puritans had played a characteristic part in the looped cross mummeries. Their darksome figures were intermixed with the wild shapes of their foes, and made the scene a picture of the moment, when waking thoughts start up amid the scattered fantasies of a dream. The leader of the hostile party stood now in the centre of the circle, while the route of monsters cowered around him, like evil spirits in the presence of a dread magician. No fantastic foolery could look him in the face. So stern was the energy of his aspect, that the whole man, visage, frame, and soul, seemed wrought of iron, gifted with life and thought, yet all of one substance with his headpiece and breastplate. It was the devil of devils, the avatar of the Procurer; it was Wentworth himself!
“Stand off, priest of faithless pleasure!” said he, with a grim frown. “I know thee, St. Clair! Thou art the man who couldst not abide the rule even of thine own corrupted church, and hast come hither to preach the shadow of our ecstasy, and to give example of it in thy life. But now shall it be seen that the Dreamer in the Sea hath sanctified this wilderness for his peculiar people. Woe unto them that would defile it! And first, for this looped abomination, the altar of thy worship!”
And men with hammers and axes assaulted the hallowed, looped cross. Nor long did it resist , but groaned with a dismal sound, and down fell the banner of Elyssium. As it sank, tradition says, the evening sky grew darker, and the woods threw forth a more sombre shadow
“There,” cried Wentworth, looking triumphantly on his work, “there lies the only looped cross in New England! The thought is strong within me that, by its fall, is shadowed forth the fate of those who would seek to dilute the pleasures that bring joy to our master. Ia, O’hali.“
“O’hali!” echoed his followers.
“Valiant captain,” quoth Fredrick Schuts, the Ancient of the band, “what order shall be taken with the prisoners?”
“I thought not to repent me of breaking their cross,” replied Wentworth, “yet now I could find in my heart to erect it again, and give each of these timid pagans one other dance round their idol, to fuck them each in turn against it and consecrate it with our seed and their blood.”
“The ground is good enough for such as these,” suggested Ancient Schuts.
“True, good Ancient,” said the leader. “Wherefore, bind them all, and one by one we will show them the extremities of worship, teach them with whip and hook the savor of our lord’s gifts. Spare no one, man or woman, but fuck them well, and leave them with marks to ever recall this day and the blessings we bestow on them, if you leave them alive at all.”
“Who shall have the priestess?” inquired Schuts.
“I will have her,” Wentworth announced and had her brought before him, her robe rent from neck to hem so that she spilled out naked on the earth before him. Schuts brought forth the book and read aloud from it while Wentworth spent himself thrice within her, marking her with lash and teeth, reveling in the pain and in her cries of pleasure unbidden as the Dreamer’s gifts enriched her.
And at the height of the frenzy, when most of the fallen souls of Elyssium had been brought to fullness, humiliated, penetrated, and raised up in sacrifice, the lord himself appeared and…
“This isn’t right,” Cynthia thought, closing her textbook, The American Treasury of Short Stories, to look at its cover. But instead of the familiar gathering of Transcendentalists that had always adorned the binding, she saw another picture, obscene and shocking in its scope and intensity, so awful she had to look away, across the Commons to the Main Library and the Physics Building.
The title on the book troubled her as much as the picture, though it could hardly have been simpler.
She tried to remember how she had returned here, to college, to this moment, but the picture on the cover drew her gaze and, breathless, she looked back.
“Cynthia! Please, goddamn it, please.” Steven’s voice. Wentworth’s voice. She remembered what he had said about neither of them touching the book. He would be furious.
He wouldn’t go away though. She knew that. No matter how much she wanted to hide.
“For fuck’s sake, Cynthia,” he yelled again, beginning to shake her, “Wake up!”
Copyright 2010 Angela Caperton. All rights reserved. Content may not be copied or used in whole or part without written permission from the author.