In my not inconsiderable experience, legitimate theatrical agents do not maintain offices, in the basements of waterfront public houses. Particularly not public houses as disreputable and notorious as ‘The Gutted Trout’. An establishment well known to be frequented by all manner of scallywag, ruffian and villain. Thoroughgoing delinquents adept in all manner of opprobrious and disreputable activity.
And I was well aware also, of the lurid rumours that those itinerant performers, who availed themselves of this Mister Sweeney’s agency, were seldom ever seen or heard from again. It was not that those artists vanished by dint of any particular mediocrity, or lack of talent. Rather it was the case that they were known to disappear without a trace, as if departed from this world.
Oh yes, I knew precisely what to expect when I descended the dingy stairs to Albert Sweeny’s rooms. Yes, Mister Sweeny was precisely the type of agent I sought.
And thus fully cognisant of the nature of the den of iniquity I was entering, I made my introductions. Hallooing Mister Sweeny gaily, every bit the naïve and vulnerable dull witted girl. Her heart set upon knowing the delights and wonders of the stage.
I handed the loathsome and salacious wretch, the little etched brass plate detailing my credentials. And tried my hardest to contain the mocking giggles, which pleaded so to escape my lips. And I gave not the slightest indication of the derision and repulsion I felt, as the man attempted to disguise his impoverished intelligence and lack of education.
“Performing artist seeks audience….”
“….see wonders and…spectacles so….curious as to defy the very laws of nature….”
“Transmogrifications Mister Sweeney” I supplied helpfully in a gay and lively tone.
“Transmogrifications such as you have never seen before…”
“….nor will you ever see again.”
I retrieved the plate from Sweeny’s grubby hands, and wiped away his greasy fingerprints with my hanky, resolving to boil the articles to sterility at my earliest opportunity.
“So what exactly does all that mean miss….?”
“….whas yer name again miss?”
I leaned forward and spoke candidly to the noisome Mister Sweeney, easily beguiling the loathsome creature’s greed and libido both. Employing not only my native wiles, but also that power of enchantment particular to those of my singular breeding. To those of my species.
“Miss Lupul, Miss Charlotte Lupul. And it means that you, Mister Sweeny will make an awful lot of coin off my back.”
“Well miss, a bold claim. And one whose voracity remains to be discerned.” Albert Sweeny intoned, ever the beguiler of confidence.
“Oh you can rely on me Mr Sweeney” I smiled my sweetest most innocent smile “you won’t hear a word of disappointment nor complaint from your audience, not once I’ve shown them my tricks.”
“And what kind of tricks are those exactly?”
“Tricks that must be seen to be believed Mr Sweeney, and it is my fondest wish that you yourself, might attend my first performance under your good representations.”
“Well…” The dreaded Sweeny paused in his discourse, while he quite unabashedly mentally stripped me of my attire.
“….it dunt really matter what type of tricks you do. You’re pretty enough for my lot’s amusement. And the type of show they like….”
“….well it kind of runs itself. Good looks is all you need really, and a willingness to perform with some enthusiasm.”
“Oh I’m willing Mr Sweeney, willing and eminently capable of supplying any type of amusement which your audience might desire.”
And at once I read in the thoughts of the disgusting man before me, precisely what manner of entertainment his patrons demanded. I saw in his noxious thoughts, the violations, the abuses and the atrocities, he had arranged for his customers, so many times before. And I saw also the murderous spectacle he had in mind for me.
And what appalled me most about this, was not the grisly nature of Mister Sweeny’s theatrical presentations, but the dispassionate familiarity and even mundanity he felt towards their enactment.
“Of course” the filthy man continued “my representation dunt come gratis Miss Lupul, I will require a sovereign to cover my initial costs. Promotion and set preparations and so forth. But trust me, you won’t want for coin anymore, not under my care. Not ever again.”
“Of course Mr Sweeny” I beamed brightly as I handed the fellow a bright coin “can a performance be arranged for tonight?”
“That keen to earn you keep, are ya?” Mister Sweeny guffawed crudely.
“Yes indeed Mr Sweeny, but it’s also a full moon tonight and….”
“….well you know how we theatricals are with our stage superstitions and so forth. My most….memorable performances have always coincided with the moon at it apogee. And I am indeed so very keen to make my name upon your stage.”
“Well….” Sweeny sighed in a rather put upon manner.
“Oh please Mister Sweeny, say that it might be so.” I thrilled in turn.
And adding a little feigned desperation to my entreaties had the desired effect, and Mr Sweeney’s greed was easily provoked further.
“….well, perhaps for an additional fee I might be able to arrange an audience for tonight….”
“Of course Mr Sweeny” I intoned enthusiastically as I handed the ‘theatrical agent’ another coin.
“Very well….” he conceded, his avarice for wealth and the basest and most deplorable sort of exploitation, now fully engorged and proud.
“….return this evening and be prepared for a special….midnight performance. And we’ll see your amazing tricks.”
“Oh thank you dear Mister Sweeney! Thank you indeed” I gushed “oh, you won’t be disappointed sir, really you won’t.”
And so I took my leave of the ‘Gutted Trout’ and hied me to an establishment, of more esteemed reputation and refined company. And after spending a pleasant evening taking a leisurely meal and wiling the hours away in gay amusements, I returned to offer my performance.
And descending deeper below the establishment, further even than Mister Sweeney’s offices. I soon found myself the wrong side of a very heavy, and nigh impenetrable iron shod door.
Yes, Mister Sweeny’s little ‘theatre’ was all that I had expected.
And all that I had hoped for.
And so, shut quite away from any hope of rescue, I was taken in hand. The costumers, as I would prefer to think of them, were burly and pitiless thugs. They enthusiastically tore the clothing from my body, and clapped me in iron manacles and chains. While I, ever the consummate professional meekly complied as I was attired for my performance.
Although I was significantly affronted at the ruination of my garments, and resolved to have it out with my agent when time permitted.
But may I say that I played the role of the naive and innocent girl, seeking desperately the glories of the stage, particularly convincingly. Indeed my assistants did crow and chortle amongst themselves, with great mirth at my apparent credulity, as they prepared me for the evenings production.
But ere long I was brought somewhat roughly from my dressing room, to the room within which my performance was to be delivered.
And the stage upon which I was to perform, was all that I had expected it to be. For it was in fact a dungeon no less, replete with the cruellest implements of restraint and torture. And its cold stone floor copiously stained, with the forthpourings of many previous melodramatic productions.
And at last arrayed before me was my audience, which I was delighted to observe hailed from the highest echelons of fair and landed society. Their happy and lively discourse not disturbed in the slightest, by the ravenous starved hounds which strained at their chains. Hounds ready to play their part in this little drama’s finale, and make a meal of me while I still drew breath, for my glowing audiences delight.
And so the scene was set, and I was led to my mark and held there via my manacles and heavy iron chains. And thus with me playing the hapless victim held in bondage, the production proper began.
And I gave of my all to my gay observers, as Mr Sweeny now clad as the tormentor and torturer, prepared himself to play his role. Entering the stage in a rather amusing costume, which consisted largely of leathern harnessing adorned with dear little metal studs and spikes. And little more than that, although in his modesty my tormentor had thankfully retained his trousers.
“Oh please Mister Sweeney, won’t you have mercy upon me….?” I pleaded and cried with a flourish at his arrival.
“….oh won’t you please for the love of Christian charity, take pity on my weak and feeble frame….?”
“….and won’t you also take pity on my dear immortal soul?”
And my audience reacted with the most satisfying approval at my performance, giggling and chuckling as they clapped and cooed and sipped champagne. Although I must include, that I felt the production was somewhat marred as torturer Sweeny began to recite his lines ad lib.
“Why you talking like that you stupid slut? This aint acting….”
“….this aint pretend. You’re gonna fucking die tonight you dumb cunt” he sneered rather unconvincingly as he pulled my hair and wielded a butchers blade.
“Avn’t you caught on yet you vacant bitch…?”
“I’m going to torture you, for a good long time. And when I’m done making you scream for these good people’s delight, I’m gonna feed you to them dogs yonder.”
“Oh please” I shrieked with all my art and skill “please Mister Sweeny, oh won’t you leave my immortal soul unmolested?”
“You don’t get it, do you? You think this is really all an act….?”
“….these people are paying to see you suffer and die. They’re lords and ladies my girl, nobles and aristocrats. They’re so far above you and I that they can barely see us, and they don’t give a tuppeny gizz about you poor immortal soul.”
But in spite of Sweeny’s impoverished performance, my desire to offer a memorable drama persisted unabated. So I did my level best to rescue the production.
“Oh pity torturer Sweeney…!”
“….oh won’t you please have pity?”
And I sobbed and cried and wailed with all my art, as my dear audience fairly sparkled with amusement.
“….what is this? I feel a transformation most uncanny coming over me!”
“You what…?” Mister Sweeney muttered in confusion, apparently incapable of grasping the full depth of my consummate performance.
“….something monstrous and uncanny….”
“….emerges from within me!”
And at last I allowed the queer effects of the full moon to possess me entirely, and the werebeast within me I granted full rein.
Now I must admit that I rather lose myself in the role, I become somewhat detached from my senses, when participating in these little horror dramas. Indeed I was entirely insensate, for what must have been some not inconsiderable length of time.
But when at length I regained my composure somewhat, I was much gratified at result of my performance. For there was nary a living soul within that dungeon, that was not rendered entirely speechless.
Indeed all eyes were wild and startled with amazement, and every mouth was agape at my art. Even the ravenous hounds did whimper and quail at my performance, shrinking away from me in mortal terror, at the slaughter they had witnessed.
And if modesty might permit me to say, my dear beloved audience was quite ‘taken apart’ with my amazing tricks. And might I also say that their accolades flowed and pulsed most abundantly, from their grisly and gory wounds. And it is always a delight when I discover, that I have been quite showered in my admirers crimson acclaim.
Now ought I to confess dear reader, that it had been some time since last I fed. And that I was perhaps a little enthusiastic, in sating my appetites upon my stricken audience. Dwelling for some time in the guise of the wolf, before transforming once again.
But before I took my leave and exited the stage, I thought to offer Sweeney my congratulations on a successful performance, in spite of his lacklustre abilities. Although his terror now seemed quite genuine as he cowered in the corner, having soiled himself most injudiciously, at the sight of my transmogrification.
“Well done Mr Sweeney, you odious little wretch. I hope you understand our arrangement a little better now?” I cooed in tones meant to set poor Sweeny at his ease.
“….Miss…?” He whimpered pitiably.
“Your theatrical representation….” I supplied helpfully by way of a reminder.
“….oh surely you can’t be as dense as all that” I chuckled playfully.
“Oh dear Mister Sweeney, our arrangement is this. You will bring me an audience worthy of my amazing abilities, worthy of my astonishing tricks on a regular and frequent basis….”
“….Miss….” the poor fellow uttered weakly.
“….and I for my part will supply you with a sovereign now and then, as I feel so disposed. And also I will refrain from ripping out you throat.”
“Oh, and one more thing. Do please avail yourself of a fresh pair of trousers before we next meet. It appears that by the vigorous method of you acting, you have fouled yourself Mister Sweeny. Creditable enthusiasm certainly, but rather unpleasant to the sensibilities of your new star performer.”
“Wouldn’t you say Mister Sweeney?”
Thank you for reading
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