Elspeth wiped the blood from her sword and let out a garbled scream of ecstasy, dominion and revelation as the droplets of blood pooled at her feet along with the varied fragments of brain matter and internal organs which had attached themselves to the wetness of the blood upon the metal. The spilled lifeforce of her recently dispatched had been many, so it seemed, yet she – in her rapture – could not remember.

While her body, that other – that own, flesh body that she controlled remotely – was physically running through the alleyways of Osaka from the massacre which she had created but which her handlers had facilitated, her consciousness was here; set upon a high black platform of enormous hewn black stone thrust out from a similarly constructed black fortress set behind her. Sweet, sweet Ellie, she thought to herself.

A cold wind blew and made her shiver involuntarily and, looking down, she could ascertain that she was nearly naked except for an obscene garment of shining leather which was connected only by various black straps and ultimately, as such, revealing of flesh.

Revealing, yet also grimly utilitarian, with a thicker belt across her waist which carried various horrific instruments of torture – small, teeth-bearing blades of tarnished steel and other similar yet nearly lethal devices, constructed for the sole purpose of torture, the application of which could only be imagined.

A larger sling was attached across her back and there she sheathed her sword, the gore which once decorated its length now spattered in red upon her hands and collected beneath her feet, the latter encased in high boots and fitted with a strangely futuristic tread in comparison to her erstwhile semi-medieval surroundings.

She cast her eyes downward across the sweeping vistas of the plains beneath her that led to the horrific forests and myriad sundry terrors beyond them on the far border. Here and there her death squads hacked bodies and burned some of the small remaining structures which the people, now dead, had inhabited. Her mouth widened into a hideous and sadistic grin as she saw them rip children from the bosoms of their mother and feast upon them with fang-like teeth as well as employing other sundry attentions upon their flesh in innumerable fashions.

Smoke billowed upward in starts and fits, dispersed by the eddies of wind which drove its way up along the side of the mountain and the walls of the black fortress toward higher vistas still. She thrilled with her own bloodlust and other more sexual lusts. Dear father, dearest, sweet and succulent sister. Flesh can be prepared in so many different ways, she mused.

Elspeth must not dwell in this interdimensional space too long now though for her slave – that corpse she controlled – needed her elsewhere. Careful, intent ministrations were needed. Somewhere far beyond her but coming closer as her eyes began to flutter into another consciousness the cold of the summit gave way to intense heat and somewhere, the crow of a cockerel sounded.

SOURCE: Narrative excerpted from the novella Lera’s Torment – forthcoming from Martinet Press. Graphic from a recent late summer self-criticism session, courtesy of clandestine organizational personnel and photographed at an undisclosed location in the United States of America.