A moment later the two monks ushered another group of guests through the archway. Joshua pulled Lawrence forward and they ducked around the monks, following the group. Lawrence found himself in a long black tunnel. The air seemed chilly and damp, as if he were walking in a sewer. The only light seemed to come from far at the other end, because the entrance was once more bathed in darkness.
Lawrence turned to Joshua. “The proverbial light at the end of the tunnel?”
Joshua shrugged. “I liked the symbolism. But we won’t get to that light, I promise you.”
The guests in front suddenly found dark bars barricading the tunnel and a brief commotion ensued. Lawrence waited patiently as the confusion spread when a red lined archway opened up in the side of the tunnel. The group quickly used that window of opportunity and stepped through the doorway.
A blast of hot air met Lawrence as his eyes adjusted to the bloody light. As he straightened, his eyes grew wide. He was standing in a cave, with pools of some red glowing liquid providing the illumination. A walkway had been carved carefully along the rock for the guests, who stood looking across the pools of ‘lava’ along the other side of the cave.
There were people over there. A man dressed in a suit sat at a desk, startlingly incongruent given the surroundings. His desk lamp was on, illuminating a massed collection of drug paraphernalia. They watched as he took off his suit jacket and rolled up his sleeve, tying a small rubber hose around his bicep.
Lawrence’s eyes were attracted to movement elsewhere and he saw a young girl, who looked too young, suddenly surrounded by two dark shapes. Only she was illuminated as they reached for her, knives glittering in the hellish luminescence. The man in the suit applied the needle to his arm and stiffened, crying out just as the young girl screamed.
The businessman slumped in his chair as the men took hold of their young female victim. The guests watched as her clothing was torn from her body, exposing the soft luscious curves and two pert and hard nipples. Her shaved slit parted wetly as her legs kicked and she was dragged behind a rock, screaming. Her body and arms lay askew and she was begging as the curved backs of the men hung over her. Then they saw the first of the men hunching down. The girl began crying, her head rocking back and forth. She rocked with the pounding rape, then stiffened as a silvery knife arched down. The dark shapes faded away, leaving the body.
The guests continued along the walkway as it curved around the scene and Lawrence realized that they would march right past the murdered girl. His mind was in turmoil. Despite the surroundings the act had seem so real. His eyes fell upon her, shocked at the slick glimmer of blood that ran from what seemed a dozen wounds. He stared hard, trying to see if she were really bleeding. Joshua placed a hand on his shoulder.
“It’s stage blood, Lawrence. They pour it on her while she pretends to be raped. As soon as we move on she’ll rise and go clean up so that in ten minutes she can repeat the performance.”
Lawrence nodded. “I’m sorry. That was just too intimate, too real.”
Joshua smiled in the red light. “I know. But then you are a mensch. Many of the guests here tonight wouldn’t have felt for that young lady a bit, whether or not this was a make believe world or not.”
Lawrence and Joshua left the warm air through another archway, lined with heavy red curtains. Lawrence bumped into one of the other guests, surprised he hadn’t seen him, when he realized he was in a cool room, pitch black. There was a sudden outcry to Lawrence’s left.
“Oh my, God! I thought it was a real person!” came a shaking voice. A small flicker of light appeared and Lawrence caught Joshua’s look of disgust.
“That’s cheating.” Joshua muttered.
Lawrence looked back toward the flame and saw one man holding a cigarette lighter up to the wall. Imbedded in a coffin-sized alcove stood a woman imperfectly wrapped in gauze, like an Egyptian mummy. Her breasts and loins were bare, her eyes closed. In the flickering flame Lawrence studied her and then realized the man was right. Whatever it was, it was a mannequin, a full figured one to be sure. As his eyes adjusted he saw additional bodies along the wall and he stepped up to the nearest, tentatively touching it with a shaking hand. He felt the course cotton wrappings and then pushed against the flesh of a breast. It was rubber; latex or some other type of soft malleable plastic.
The cigarette lighter had gone out and Lawrence began inching his way along the room, listening to the disturbed laughs of the other guests, his left hand running against the wall, feeling the curved bosoms of the dummies. The voices of the other guests were a little too courageous, a little too loud, and a little too tense. This room had shocked them. Lawrence’s hand found another of the wrapped mummies, and then another. The room was lined with them as he made his way along the opposite wall that most of the guests had taken.
He had passed several bodies when he felt the familiar wrappings of another mummy. He pressed against the mound of flesh and stiffened in shock as it yielded, but not as latex would. It felt warm and real. Lawrence cried out in surprise as the mummy moaned.
An echoing scream sounded from the other side of the room and a yellow light flashed momentarily, letting Lawrence see the blood dripping fangs embedded in a luminous grin. The other guests yelled in shock and several men swore violently. But then the light came back on, the mummies returned to their places, and a new doorway opened.
Joshua stood in the center of the room, smiling wickedly at Lawrence. Lawrence retreated from the wall, looking about the room in the uncomfortable yellow light. He could see that there were twelve crèches, each filled with a mummy and as soon as all the guests left, the two live girls looked at him and waved, their fangs and ghastly faces no longer frightening in the light. Joshua laughed.
“Well done!” Lawrence said, awe creeping into his voice. “But how do you keep the guests from…you know…manhandling the girls?”
Joshua nodded. “Well, we have a centralized security point. The girls all have little buttons than can press to let us know there is a problem. However, as far as these girls go, they expect to be touched, even touched in some highly sexual ways. They paint their breasts with a solution that tastes bad, just in case one of the guests decides he wants a taste.”
Lawrence smiled. “You’ve planned this well.”
Joshua looked up at the light. “Let’s get out of here. That light is really uncomfortable.” Joshua beckoned Lawrence forward and together they followed the other guests.