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Herod was standing when the vision subsided and he came to. The echo of laughter reverberated throughout the chamber. He was between throne and cross. He had arms raised in victory, could feel his wide smile. His robe was open, penis a diamond. Bloody semen clung in a knot to the material of the hem. Salome was sitting up, looking curiously at him.
Tacitus marched the messenger forward. Herod let his arms drop.
“Who the fuck this little bitch?” the Mayor asked. He returned to the throne. Herod sat and Salome placed her head on his lap. His razor-sharp talons rapped her skull. It raised beads of blood that were absorbed by her hair. The blood painted thin red lines with dripped excess. She winced from the pain, but dared not move.
“This is one of Theodosius’ shorties,” Tacitus replied, “the one at Flavius’ office.”
“Is Flavius here?”
“He brought us the boy and I dismissed him,” he said, “didn’t think you wanted someone like Flavius any deeper.”
“You thought right,” Herod replied, “nigga good where he is.” Herod gazed at the boy. “Why do you need to see me?”
The boy looked at him: “I got a message for Herod.”
Tacitus broke the boy’s nose with a lightening fast right cross. It caved in a loud crunch. Blood and mucous exploded from his face. The boy was going to collapse, but Tacitus would not let him. He held the boy up by his braids.
“This IS Herod, you stupid shit,” Tacitus countered.
“What’s your message, boy?” Herod asked, amused.
“Pilate say he does not get replaced,” the boy stated thickly, no air moving. It was then he awoke.
The boy blinked and looked around, checked out his surroundings. How the hell did he get here? He’s heard of this place but just stories. It looked like a torture chamber, smelled worse. He glanced down at the plastic he stood on. He saw scrum puddle around his wet stocking feet. Half congealed shit all over his feet, made him want to vomit. He started to pitch forward. Tacitus had to hold him up again. The boy dangled from his braids like a drunken puppet.
“Where’s your boss, Theodosius, at?” Herod asked. “Tell me.”
The boy still felt sick. Waves of nausea and pain made thought difficult. The boy did not answer Herod. Tacitus tore the lad’s left ear off, tossed it to the quivering dog. The beast chomped just once, the cartilage wet and crunchy, and swallowed the treat down.
With Pilate’s spell now broken, the boy’s pain and shock intensified. His hand pressed the fresh wound. Sticky blood flooded his nose, cheek and neck. It dripped down his shoulders, back and chest. Great red drops mixed puddles on plastic flooring.
The boy sucked a great lungful of air. He fired a frightened, painful scream. Herod commanded him to stop all that shit, and renewed the spell. Now the boy belonged to him.
“That’s better,” said Herod. “Where the fuck is Theodosius?”
“He dead,” the boy replied, hands at sides, standing at attention. Blood flowed freely from where his ear used to be.
“Tell me how,” demanded Herod.
“Pilate did it,” he replied. “He drank him dry.”
Herod stayed silent a moment, watching the boy bleed.
“Pilate doesn’t know when to quit,” Herod said. He looked at his Second. “That twat needs to be taught a lesson.”
“An eye for an eye,” she told them, “Old Testament style.”
Herod and Tacitus gazed at each other in surprise. They turned to look at her.
“What’s that?” asked Herod.
“Eye for an eye, reprisal,” Salome said. “Pilate killed one of yours. Even the score and kill one of his.”
Herod nodded, sure where she was going.
“You mean Juan de Bautista, don’t you?” Tacitus asked, Herod smiling now.
“That’s right,” she told him. “Bring Uncle Herod his head.”
Herod chuckled at the vicious cunt. “Yes,” he replied, “bring to me the head of John the Baptist. Impale the bitch on a motherfucking stick.”
Tacitus acknowledged and left the room. Herod rose and came down from the throne. He stood before the rigid boy. He placed a hand on the boy’s neck. He began to gently kiss the ragged ear hole, speaking to him. Herod’s voice had a sing-song quality. He thrust the tip in and slowly ran an embe dded talon down the boy’s torso. The flesh and muscle split open. His entrails spilled out, hung in ropes to his knees.
“My favorites,” Herod began, honeyed voice soothing and kind, “are the sweetmeats.” Still grinning, he pushed his hand into warm bowels. “The pest of it is the choicest morsels always seem to be in the back.”
The boy shook. Herod dug deep into him, searching. “A-hah,” he found it. Herod plucked and removed the tiny organ, pulled it out. The boy shivered uncontrollably, losing color. Herod brought the tasty to his lips and took a bite. The boy stared at him.
“Oh, yeah,” Herod said, mouth dripping, “you can scream now.”
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