Penelope disrobed and lay on the stone altar. Cold which had previously sucked on her like a tick now caressed her and made her shiver with pleasure. The hooded cultists removed their clothes too, men and women, child and adult. Some were inhuman as she’d expected, expanding and pouring out of their clothes like bubbles blown through cloth hoops. Once naked, they sang and chanted and touched one another, reaching hands and claws and four foot tongues down to begin their orgy. To begin their ritual. To begin inducting Penelope into their order.
Her decision made, she was still nervous, a sick fear that roiled even as her physical joy increased. The climax she had been threatened with before now built within her brick by fleshy brick. This time, Penelope embraced it. Her nervous, inexperienced hands explored her flesh as they had only once before; even these fumbles were whips to the slaves building a perfect temple of pleasures.
The chanting rose, a great and wonderful drone that surged through her again and again. Her hands found the rhythm of the ritual and aped it, driving her closer and closer. Through half-closed eyes she saw lights like multicoloured angels flaring around her, circling and dipping on invisible wings. The air tasted like ripe oranges.
Penelope’s life, her very existence, became a rapture, a palpitating joy that soaked through every inch of her. All she’d had to do was give in to That Which Sins to experience this but her horrible and restrictive morals had held her back from this wonder. More brilliant joy poured through her. By That Which Sins, Eleanor had been right; Penelope could never consider going back to being a mundane and weak flower growing in a pale batch of moonlight under the yoke of the Christian god.
And then she reached the point of no return, the great explosion. Every part of her shuddered and juddered and jived as she drove herself to the edge. There was no stopping it, her senses were a stampede and they ran over the cliff of an amazing burst of the greatest and most wonderful sensation she had ever experienced.
This, she managed to think, was a real heaven.
The climax passed and left her numb. She could feel nothing of her body or her mind. The lights danced around her, leaving sparkling trails that dropped onto her skin. She watched the cultists chant at her but paid them no mind.
Her other senses reluctantly returned. The scent of oranges assailed her first but they were now rotten, horrible things from a damp cellar. Penelope tried to gag, the stink so bad she could taste it, but her body wouldn’t respond; all she could do was feel more and more sick at the mulched sourness on her tongue.
Then the cultists’ chanting changed, becoming a deep, sonorous dirge. Penelope could not understand the words but she could tell the intent behind them, the desire to inflict something cruel and horrible onto her. Atop feeling sick, she panicked and felt herself try to hyperventilate. But she couldn’t move, couldn’t even lift her head to see what was happening to her.
A grinding pleasure, something as dutiful as it was enjoyable, began to fill her. Her fingertips became less numb and she felt them dancing across her body, some twisting and playing with parts of her and others delving deep into her orifices. But they were doing so of their own accord, without her command. Again she wanted to panic and again she was not allowed to.
Penelope had become a prisoner in her own body.
The binding bliss circled her mind like a snake and blurred her vision, dulled the chants to a deep monotone. At least it also stole away the stench of rotten fruit but that was small comfort.
Had she done the right thing in agreeing to this ritual? The initial pleasure had been a joy, a revelation of the hidden wonders in her flesh, but this new experience frightened her. Was this really how all believers were initiated into That Which Sins’ ranks? She hadn’t thought to question it at the time – she’d heard so many orgies during her incarceration that she’d thought them commonplace – but now she wished she had.
“Relax,” something whispered. Its voice was oily and sweet. “Everything is okay.”
For a moment, she believed it. Then she felt a pain in an indefinable place, not physical but very real, as though the pleasure surrounding her senses had pierced her essence like a scorpion or a cactus.
“This will be quick,” the voice said. “Then you will be mine.”
Penelope felt cold. The voice belonged to That Which Sins. It was not the voice of something which loved her. It wasn’t even the voice of something that wanted her to be free. No, the voice she heard belonged to something which rolled in excess and waste and loved bringing others in to join it.
And she had given herself to it. Willingly.