The Black Beast of
When wise men travel
from the Orient, gold flows like lava.
House of Love had a hot-house flower called Blossom. In the
basement of a crumbling Georgian Villa on the North End Road, in Fulham, men
and sometimes women, worshipped at the altar of her sex, kissing the feet that
were festooned with silver and gold.
A certain mogul,
who, being advised of her charms, decided to visit the seductress in her lair.
He sent word that he would come on a specific date when the moon was high.
Ruby, the owner of the club, demanded ten thousand pounds. The servant called
his master. Not a problem, said the mogul.
On the appointed
date, the mogul arrived. He wore a black silk suit and gold jewellery. His
Limousine cruised along the narrow London streets, curving into the North End.
Passers-by wondered about the occupant. Who was it? A visiting dignitary? A
The mogul eyed the
greasy, rubbish-strewn pavements. It excited him that hidden amidst such dross
he would find the rarest of jewels. Nevertheless, a warning pranced into his
mind, “Hell has three entries, greed, anger and lust”.
A chill entered his
bones, and a small, nagging voice tugged at the mogul’s brain. Was it wise to visit
a place such as this?
But thoughts of the
girl spurred him on and besides, his servant had assured him that all was in
Ruby sat in the
company of Mack, the new owner. She was drinking heavily.
Mack listened to the
story of Blossom, again. “This kid comes into the club, I looked her over.
Scrawny but sexy if you know what I mean. I ask her, “ow old are you
love?” “Eighteen.” She says. "Course, you are,” I say. Well, she wasn’t no
more ‘n sixteen, if that. Anyway, I let her in and give her a glass of wine. I
say, “Have you danced before, love?” She goes, “Yeah.” I mean, “Where was that
then?” She goes, “Paris.” Ruby laughed bitterly. “I thought, poor bloody
runaway. They all say the same thing.”
Ruby’s shot glass
was empty, she snapped her fingers at the barmaid. “Gimme another, and while
you’re at it, let me see that bottle!
sauntered over and showed Ruby the triple malt 100-year-old whiskey. She poured
a shot into Ruby’s glass then screwed the top back on. She slid the bottle
under the bar counter, swapping it for a bottle of coloured water with an
“Keep it there,”
Ruby said. “I paid for it, good an’ proper.”
sideways at the aging whore next to him. She had been a looker once, even up to
her late forties. Even now, with her roots on display through auburn hair, she
had a trace of her old sex appeal. But Ruby drank to cope with her demons.
It made him nervous.
“All of us,” Ruby
said, her voice slurring. “We was all under the spell of that girl.”
trained its beams on the ornate porchway of the crumbling, eighteenth-century
villa. Leaping out of the car, the driver opened the rear door, and the
mogul stepped out. With arms outstretched he inhaled the night air. Then he
shook his wrists. The click of his gold wristwatch drew an envious glance from
his bodyguard. The mogul strode toward the stairs leading up to the porch, but
before mounting the steps, he glanced up at the North star, visible over the
rooftops that night. He thought it an auspicious sign.
He and his guard
mounted the steps. At the top, both men stood next to an imposing statue of an
erect lion. The guard pressed the buzzer and they heard the sound of locks being
unbolted behind the main door. The door swung open and a heavy-set Arab stood in
front of them with a menacing look on his face.
sir, we’ve been expecting you.”
The mogul bristled
at the tiny but discernible hint of condescension in the man’s tone of voice.
He said with high confidence and authority, “I am Prince Abdul Kareem, expected
here. Kindly permit entry.”
The Arab bowed and
the mogul and his guard entered the dimly-lit lobby, where indolent whores sat on
large round cushions staring at their smart phones. An old woman sat watching
over them, smoking a cigarette.
“This way,” the
said, opening an inner door. Stairs led down to a basement. The guard touched
his jacket nervously—he breathed a sigh of relief, the shooter was still in
place. Besides, the others were out in the courtyard, armed with their semi-automatic
The mogul was no
longer nervous, he felt intoxicated by a strange perfume that hung in the air.
Normally, he prided himself on his wide-ranging knowledge of such things,
but this scent was one he could not place.
The Arab led the men
down two flights of stairs. They walked along a carpeted hallway, and wall-mounted
lamps spread lurid red light over their approaching forms. With each step, the
mogul’s excitement increased rapidly. By the time they had reached the inner
sanctum, his heart was pounding in his chest.
He snapped at the
Arab. “Where is the girl?! When can I see her?”
The Arab said, “Your
guard must leave. He may not see inside.”
The mogul nodded. He
turned to his servant and said in their own language, “Wait here until I
return. If I am not back within an hour, come inside, and use your gun.”
On the other side of
the veil, the mogul’s eyes struggled to adjust to the velvety darkness. A
familiar musky scent assailed his nostrils. Tall candlesticks stood in the four
corners if the room, their light cast a diaphanous glow. Long silk curtains
hung from the ceilings, giving the room a gossamer effect. Six pale and
beautiful girls sat naked encircling a dark ovule in their midst. The
mogul did not give them a second thought. His hot mind searched for Blossom, who
was hidden in their midst. He wanted to taste her with his lips and devour
The Arab escorted
his guest to a comfortable couch, where a table was waiting, laden with food
and wine, but the mogul had not come to eat or drink. Almost immediately, the
dancers began their seductive arts, teasing him with their lithe young bodies.
He sat unmoved, awaiting the desire of his heart. She was strangely
silent, her head bowed, covered in a black robe, as still and lifeless as a
Ruby’s mind grew foggy
as the details of her life were slipped away, yet she remembered the robe worn
by the girl that night. A black hooded robe it was, that shielded her
nakedness and gave her an air of mystery. It was her mystery that captivated
the mogul, as it did all men. No one
knew where she was from, or to what race she belonged.
At first, it didn’t
matter to Ruby—Blossom was the goose that laid the golden egg, and that was all.
Later, Ruby grew
obsessed with the girl, like everyone else. One night, she questioned her star
dancer. “I don’t get it, why do you stay here, I mean you are so beautiful, you
could marry a prince?”
Blossom looked at
her questioner with deep, fathomless eyes. She smiled knowingly, and her silence
Ruby, who wanted to smash her open like a melon just to see what lay inside
that exotic shell.
The mogul finally
dismissed the blonde dancers. He summoned Blossom who rose from her cushioned
seat and came and sat by his side. He made his request and slowly, deliberately,
she unpeeled her garment. Long flickering shadows whipped at her pale brown skin,
lashing at her tiny breasts. As the mogul caressed the cool dark skin, he
struggled to control the burgeoning fires of chaotic lust arising in his body.
Mack hated seeing
Ruby crying in her liquor, her eyes streaked with makeup and tears. He slid the
empty glass across the counter. “Fill it up.”
The barmaid raised
an eyebrow at Mack. Mack nodded, but he felt uneasy.
“We didn’t know…How
we could know? Nothing like it before,” Ruby was saying in a slurred voice.
The barmaid poured
whiskey from the special bottle under the bar counter. Ruby couldn’t tell the
The mogul pushed
himself into the girl. A sweet scent filled the atmosphere, growing
stronger, more piquant as his passion grew. Finally, his lust exploded in a
spasm of pure joy, and the mogul whispered his last words on earth, “Oh my
sweet dark angel.”
Ruby’s memories crashed
in her befuddled brain. She heard that same loud buzzing noise—she felt the sickening
vibration as the mogul’s torn and bloodied head thumped onto the floor at her
Ruby moaned. The
trapdoor to hell had re-opened, and she expected to die, but on regaining
consciousness, she saw that the thing had gone.
The Arab was outside
shaking from head to foot. The mogul’s men were pushing and prodding at his
passive body, trying to get him to talk, to explain what had happened. They reported
seeing a dark shape leaping onto the rooftops and streaking into the moonlit
sky, leaving a red tail in its wake, like a comet.
In all, they
gathered fifty pieces of the mogul’s body. The remains were terrible. The Arab
lost his mind that night. Ruby was slowly losing hers.
Mack had heard
enough. Ruby’s drinking was tiresome and dangerous. She was describing a murder
in his club. Some kind of female Jack the Ripper. It was crazy talk, it would
turn his clients away.
He looked at the old
whore slumped over the bar, drunk and unconscious. He didn’t need her any
more. The deal was done, she had signed the club over to him for a pittance.
Her time was up, the club belonged to him.
Mack clicked his
fingers. A man slid from the shadows.
“She’s nuts. Total
Jalfrezi.” Mack said. “Take her outside, get rid of her.”
At the side of the
old house, where they kept the bins, the assassin unsheathed his gun, but not
before Ruby opened her eyes, and moaned. The would-be murderer cocked the
weapon, but a loud, buzzing noise caused him to look around.
He kicked at one of
the bins. “Fuckin’ flies.”
Ruby smelled that
rotting meat smell and heard the sound of those flapping wings. She stared over
the assassin’s shoulder, her eyes bugging with fear. “Oh, please, no, please
no, not again ...!”
The assassin swung
around to see what it was she was looking at. He tried to cry out but the
scream choked in his throat.
The creature pinned
him to the ground, eating into his mind with cold, fathomless eyes, and in the
effulgent light of a yellow moon, it sucked the bones clean out of his body.
blood-curdling scream pierced the North End Road. None of the residents called
the police; instead, they locked their windows and doors and went quietly to
Frances Wickham is an alumna of Birkbeck College. She participated in the Creative
Writing programme in 2011. Originally from Dublin, Ireland, Alice now
lives in South West London. She enjoys the absurdities and contradictions of
everyday life and is working on a compilation of short stories for publication
work appears in Litro Magazine, New London
Writers, Edge, Paradise Press,
Tales to Terrify and other
is an illustrator for horror/sci-fi and pulp
fiction websites and magazines. She is also founder and senior editor for
the independent poetry publisher, Subsynchronous Press. An SFPA Rhysling
Award nominated poet, her poems have appeared in journals such as Eternal
Haunted Summer, Jellyfish Whispers, Scfifaikuest, Illya’s Honey,
and Red River Review, as well as numerous
anthologies. Her short stories have appeared recently in Night
to Dawn, Yellow Mama, Black Petals, Sirens Call, and Tales
from the Moonlit Path, among others, as well as in numerous horror
anthologies such as Night in New Orleans: Bizarre Beats from the Big
Easy, Thuggish Itch: Viva Las Vegas, and White
Noise & Ouija Boards. She appeared, briefly, as the uncredited
"all-American Mom with baby" in Purple Cactus Media’s 2007
Arizona indie-film, "Vote for Zombie." Having lived in France,
Brazil, Canada, and several states in the US, she now resides in southern