Of course Cleo wanted to know everything about Terri’s encounter with Johnny. To her surprise, Terri found that she felt an eagerness to tell someone. And Cleo, after all, was the only one she could talk to about it. She hadn’t planned on telling Cleo about the vision, but she ended up spilling all the details about it as well.
“Maybe it was due to lack of sleep. I hadn’t slept at all the night before, and people can see crazy stuff when they’re sleep-deprived long enough,” Terri suggested half-heartedly.
“I think we both know better than that. This scarlet woman of yours has been haunting your psyche for a while now. I wouldn’t write off this vision you had. In fact, I would say it was a breakthrough.”
“Red… is the color of harlots. The color of evil.”
“No, red is the color of lust, and lust is natural, my dear. Being penetrated by this woman, and with a magical object, no less, might have been a metaphor for this isolated fragment of your personality finally merging with the rest of you so you can go forward in life as a whole, sensual being.”
“Sheesh, where do you get this stuff?” laughed Terri.
Cleo shrugged. “Self-help books, dream dictionaries, shit like that.”
“Well, it’s a nice thought.”
Certainly it was a nice thought. And for a short while, it appeared as if Cleo might be right. Terri and Johnny did it twice more, once in the back of his dad’s car at the edge of town, and once in a motel room on Prom Night, and he even… used his mouth. All without incident.
Then, her next period arrived, and with it, a dream of being stripped by the Crimson Queen in her bedchamber, and made to kneel with her wrists bound behind her back, knees placed on either side of a wide bronze bowl, into which her blood dripped. She was left alone for a time, and then, when enough of it had collected, the Queen returned, picked up the bowl, and lifted it to her parted lips…
It was awful to have to admit to Johnny that she was on her period during their next date, but there was no other way to explain why she’d been shying away from him all evening than to tell the truth. Far from being disgusted, as she’d feared, he told her he’d love nothing better than to go down on her.
“Right now, right here?” They’d just gotten back from a movie, and were sitting on a lounge chair beside the pool in his backyard. Nobody else was home, or would be for another hour or so.
“Well… it’ll make a mess.”
“The lounge chair is plastic. I’ll just hose everything off, and sop up whatever’s left with a black towel. Nobody will know.”
“You’re sure you want… to?”
“I like the way blood tastes.”
Terri laughed nervously. “Oh, stop.”
Johnny, who’d gained quite a bit of confidence since their first encounter, just smiled and told her, “I’m not playing around. I do like it. Let me show you—” he unzipped her jeans—”how much I like it.”
She might have to start going to confession once a week, if this kept up…
That night, she dreamed she was in a low wooden cart, being drawn through the village of the Autumn People. She was naked, except for shackles on her wrists, and a high, thick leather collar which forced her to look straight ahead. There was a metal ring at the back of the collar, to which her shackles had been securely locked, and a second ring at the collar’s front. She was in a kneeling position, thighs apart, so that she realized her body was arranged to somewhat resemble a five-pointed star.
She knew at once that she had done… something… and that she was being taken to the Queen to be punished. She didn’t even know what it was that she’d done, but the very thought that she’d displeased her Queen was enough to cause her to weep. (*Her* Queen? Since when had she thought herself so subject to the Crimson Queen, in the fullest sense of the word?)
Like their sovereign, the Autumn People had a cruel streak—many of them laughed at her exposure, and her tears. The tight collar prevented her from turning away, or even lowering her gaze so she wouldn’t have to face the leering crowd. The upraised, drawn-back positioning of her arms left her breasts jutting forward, and there was no covering her disgracefully engorged nipples. Nor was there any hiding the menstrual blood streaking her inner thighs—she didn’t need to look down to know it was there, and they were all looking at it.
The guard on the horse drawing the cart stopped at the head of a path that led down to a platform on the shore of a lake. The Crimson Queen was waiting, a long whip in hand. Only, instead of ordinary leather lashes, the “lashes” trailing from the handle of this whip were actually slender, flexible vines, with small, cruelly-hooked red thorns all over them.
She had time to contemplate what was coming while the guard dismounted, unlocked her hands, lifted her out of the cart and set her down on the cobblestones on her hands and knees, and clipped a long chain to the front ring of the collar.
The crowd, which had followed the cart, pressed in closer. She could feel their body heat, she could smell the burning-leaves-and-musky-sweat-and-fresh-funeral-flowers scent that clung to their clothes, and she wailed in despair—if the Queen saw fit to torture her, so be it, but please, not here, not naked in front of all these people, not as a spectacle for them…
The path down to the platform actually wasn’t that long, but the Queen’s merciless whiphand made it seem like it stretched for a mile. She was trapped between the two of them, in front of the Queen, and behind the guard who walked too slowly for her to be able to evade a single swipe of the Queen’s lash. There was no choice but to endure this path of pain, for whatever she had done, and it surely must have been something horrible, for the Queen to judge her as deserving of this.
It was only when the lashing ceased and the chain was unclipped from the collar that she saw, through the burning blur of pain and tears, what waited for her. It was like an impaling stake, only much shorter, and much less thick around, and with a polished, blatantly phallic tip.
The Queen reattached Terri’s wrist shackles to the ring on the back of the collar, and then stood back to watch while the guard, assisted by a second guard who’d followed the cart, carried Terri towards the stake.
“You are never to give your blood to anyone but me. Remember this punishment, and know the next will be worse should you betray me again. The blood of your womb belongs to me.”
Before Terri could cry out, or ask what that meant, she was being lowered onto the smoothly-tapered head of the stake, into the position she knew the Queen was going to make her stand in for hours while the crowd jeered around her. The unforgiving head of the phallus entered her…
…And she awoke to the deep spasming in her loins, and rode her climax, clamping her legs together and squeezing, until it was over.
She rolled onto her back, gulping air. It wasn’t enough, she needed more– she reached one tentative hand down, poking her fingers under the elastic band of her cotton panties, reaching for…
For the first time in her life, she touched herself.
She wouldn’t be seeing Johnny the rest of the week, and this was a relief. She would have hated having to tell him she didn’t want him to go down on her again while she was still bleeding. And she knew that if she had seen him and he had asked, she would have indeed refused, despite how much she loved his gentle mouth.
Her next dream about the Crimson Queen was set in her throne room. The Queen wasn’t angry anymore. Terri knew this because she was in front of the throne, on all fours, open-legged over a bronze bowl in which her blood slowly pooled while she attended the Queen. A leather gag had been fastened over Terri’s mouth, from which a phallus protruded, and the Queen was seated before her, dress hitched high and legs draped over the arms of the throne, while Terri moved her head in such a way as to rock the shaft back and forth, deep-stroking the Queen’s sex to a thrumming crescendo of multiple orgasms.