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Speculative Historical Fiction Fantasy

So Little Virgin Blood                                        By Elizabeth Fenley

The newborn babies are easy to silence while I drink their blood from their savaged necks until I feel it go sour as their hearts stop beating. I stuff tiny bodies into a red box attached to the wall in this too bright room. I am able to suck three dry this time before the person in odd light blue apparel returns to care for the babies.

I hide, and then slip back into the room where I woke up—far too small to meet my standards, with an odd bed that moves up and down, a single uncomfortable chair by a window which does not open, a privy, and machines which make odd noises when these strange people some in to attach them to me. I clean myself with the pitcher on the small, wheeled table, change into a clean, cheap and immodest gown that they provide here, struggle to get the white strings tied in the back to cover myself, and slip back into my bed under the plain white sheet. At least it is clean and never smells of dankness or the odor of others.

I do not know where I am or what has happened. What I do know is that drinking the fresh blood from living virgin girls has always kept me youthful and beautiful. Perhaps as I imbibe more blood, I will regain my memory of how I got here.

I remember vividly the day I was accused of torturing and murdering over six hundred young girls; I laughed in the shocked faces of the simpletons who dared to confront me, as if I were some commoner to be accosted so rudely in my own home. I am Countess Erzebet Bathory of Hungary, the widow of Count Nadasdy Bathory, and I reside at Castle Cachtise.

These accusations were reported by my political rivals, enemies, and men who owed my late husband a great deal of money—which was never repaid despite six years of repeated letters penned by myself or my clerks after my dear husband’s death in 1604. Their base motives were avarice and envy of my power and stature—and because I was a woman of nobility, wealth, property and great influence. They knew nothing of what business I conducted in the privacy of my home.

The farce of a trial in 1611 brought more than three hundred accusers scurrying like rats out of every dank corner to point at me and curse me in front of an audience of the prurient. I beheld them with cold disdain as I planned my revenge. No evidence was produced, merely sad tales by weeping girls and men who claimed to have witnessed my actions or read about them in my private records.

My conviction on the heels of this nonsense was shocking and appalling. A woman of a weaker constitution would have suffered a fit. I was merely enraged.

I was sentenced to be confined in my castle for the rest of my life—which would have been a reassuring eternity if I had not been deprived of that which I required to retain my lovely skin and immortal body. The years I spent bloodless were torture they could not have imagined. I felt my body age and my skin wrinkle for the first time in three hundred years. I withered, weakened, sickened. I last remember writing in my diary by dim candlelight on the evening of 20 August 1614, that I had felt unwell all day. I informed my faithful bodyguard Gemnian, one of the few of my members of my household they allowed to remain, that my hands felt cold. He replied kindly, “It is nothing, mistress. Just go lie down.” I wrote this account and then retired for the evening.

And I have woken up here, in some prison or poorhouse, where everyone speaks barbarian tongues. I repeated and penned my name clearly many times, but they insist on insolently calling me Miss Elizabeth Bathory. Imbeciles. They wear matching bizarre apparel which makes it difficult to discern the women from the men. Even when I can confidently select a girl, I smell the odor of impurity when she hovers over me. I have yet to find a pure girl amongst these wardens.

That is why I feast on the blood of the babies until I can devise my plan to escape and to return home.

They insist on repeating the number twenty twenty-one, although I have no idea why, and a foreign word, something like emareka. They watch me when they say it, as if I were a slow child not paying attention to her lessons.

I shall ignore them and continue to regain my strength. The babies have very little blood for me, and their hearts give out far too quickly. I must seek another source.

It has taken me a decade to discover where I am—and more importantly when.

I do not wish to dwell on my time spent amongst the peasants here in this city far bigger, noisier, and dirtier than Nagykanizsa—the largest city in my travels in Hungary, which seems to have been carved up and renamed since my departure.

I suspect my faithful impundulu Annyacaskya, an extraordinarily skilled blood demon, is responsible for my travel from my castle prison in 1614 to 2021 in appropriately the town named Blood, New Hampshire. She has always had a refreshing sense of humor about our work. The small town provides rare sources to meet my needs, but it is in close enough proximity to larger cities I have never visited—Boston, New York, Jersey City, and Philadelphia—that Annyacaskya has no difficulty finding what I need through what is now referred to as “human trafficking.” It’s an exceptionally convenient system.

I am delighted that my new lifestyle affords me the privacy of an isolated town with the convenience to imported supplies. There will be no surviving witnesses, no written records, and no political rivals this time. I am restored to my former youthful health and beauty.

Once I learned this odd language of my location, I was fascinated and flattered that my legacy survived—with varying degrees of accuracy. They call me the Blood Countess, which I quite like. Queen of Hell or blood-sucking demon are not strictly accurate, but I have no objections. Books are written, my own letters published, accounts of my trial, songs sung, and characters I have inspired.

I have taken the common name of Elizabeth and adapted my surname to Rothaby, as Bathory might attract attention to my infamy.

I reflect on the unexpected turn of fate as I delight in the candle-lit exquisite warm thickness of my bath. I sip the sweet coppery nectar from a hand-blown champagne flute of Zolta Denk’Art, and relax to the melodious lutenists Balint Bakfark and Melchior Neusiedler—both of whom were dear friends of mine who occasionally joined me in my baths.

Appropriately established in my new home, Annyacaskya and I have a new hobby; we are searching for the descendants of my centuries-dead enemies—those who owed me money, brought charges, testified against me, ruled to have my walled up in my own castle. Between my little blood demon’s efforts and the use of this modern search method which provides a plethora of information from pushing a few little buttons, we will find them. Though only some of their blood will be pure enough to support my needs, all of their blood will be spilled until there is no trace of what my enemies begat.

After all, I have plenty of time.

September 15, 2021 10:47

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2 comments

Elizabeth Fenley
22:43 Sep 21, 2021

Thank you. I adore writing about The Blood Countess as well. I have three unrelated pieces-- such good fun. Oddly, I never considered the idea of seeing someone snacking of newborn babies to fall into the category of "horror." That clearly says something about me. I was seeing it so clearly from inside her head. (Perhaps I was her in a past life. That would be lovely.) I've taught public school and survived raising a teenage girl-- both of which far exceed babu munching on the scale of the Truly Horrific!

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Delia Strange
07:01 Sep 20, 2021

I like this story; I confess I have an unhealthy interest in Elisabeth Bathory so I was immediately intrigued. You've found your readership in me, ha! The first paragraph was quite shocking. I consider your tale in the realm of the horror genre because of it. It was certainly attention-getting! Cheers.

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