The Carnival Is Over
The Carnival had been over for a few hours now, leaving behind a graveyard of broken glasses and sugared almonds. In the midst of this desolation, a lone figure was walking down the street.
The streets of Venice, in the hours before dawn, were like the entrails of a corpse left to rot on the beach. Same nauseating smell, same silence full of broken expectations. Sadie loved wandering around Venice at that time of day. Slightly bent because of the weight she was dragging behind, Sadie was enjoying the strong smell and the gulls’ desperate cries above her head.
She closed her eyes, being content of letting her other senses guide her through that wet maze: after all, she knew so well those old and dirty streets that sight was just a useless ornament for her walks – walks that she enjoyed much better when she was not seeing at all. In those moments, it was all so perfect in its absurd injustice that even a single misplaced detail would have ruined everything, like a pen’s sign on the Mona Lisa. Yes, much better not to see.
Her footsteps were the only human sounds that bounced off the stone walls: no one within who knows how many metres. Oh, there was nothing better than solitude to enjoy the pleasures of the masterpiece of death. A work of art that lasted only for a short while, and therefore had to be savored in every detail, until there was nothing to be savored, until reality took away that precious moment of fulfillment – the fulfillment of the end.
The end. It was one thing Sadie could not understand unless she absorbed it from the experiences of others.
A wind full of foul rain rose from the lagoon. Sadie was protected only by a light sweater and a pleated skirt: maybe in the past she would have shuddered in the winter air. Now, however, she was not affected by the cold or the wind ruffling her hair. For an instant she thought she would have liked to taste the air coming from the sea, salty as blood: doing so, however, would have meant taking off the mask, and she would have preferred not to – at least not yet.
Things were to be done in proper order, according to a precise ritual, or they would have eventually ruined even those wonderful moments of pure art: the moments her heart was still beating for and that made her life worthy of living.
With a very unladylike grunt, she threw onto a small empty pier the sack she had dragged with her. It was heavy – as usual. With a knife darkened by use, Sadie cut the string that closed the sack, letting the woman’s body slip down and hit the dirty wood. She wondered how much blood had already been spilled here in the past, before this woman’s blood: at this place, slaughtered fish and stabbed humans kept each other company for centuries on the bottom of the lagoon like it was the stomach of a giant monster.
Sadie grinned under the mask at this image.
She grabbed the woman by the hair, watching her. A beautiful death. A clean cut. Sadie felt moderately satisfied: she could not always control herself so well, even though over time it was getting easier. With another smile, she recalled the shrill voice that tried to scream, despite the fact her throat was neatly cut. She had called her a monster: probably a good definition. She had went on telling her she was sick: this one was indeed very close to the reality of things. Then she was just dead.
At first, Sadie had decided to answer, but she had discarded the idea almost immediately: any explanation for the fact that a ten year old girl was killing her would have seemed implausible. Shaking her head, Sadie proceeded to finally get to work: she had to peel off the skin while it was still fresh, or she should have to go hunting again. Not that she minded of course, but drawing too much attention was not wise: stopping completely would have disturbed her even more than limiting herself to just a single victim.
While cutting, Sadie was whistling a merry old song – a small reward to herself for her self-control. Until a few months ago she would have made a mess and would have never been able to accomplish such a meticulous job: it was only right that she was proud of her progress. Her brain slipped lazily through the past, mulling over her own life.
Had there ever been a time when Sadie was a normal child? No, at least she could not remember one. Sadie had always killed, even before the arrival of The Night Of All Nights. The youngest serial killer in history, probably. Why did she kill? Why did she start? She did not know. Maybe a good psychologist would have found an explanation. Maybe if The Night Of All Nights had not arrived, someone would have discovered there was something broken in her brain. Now, however, Night had come, and if there was something wrong with her, it would always remain that way. In fact, Sadie did not really think anything was wrong. In her own opinion, the truth was much simpler than that. Sadie was just evil.
After less than an hour, her cutting was almost over. She could take off the mask and see what she was like: this was the moment she hated the most, even if she had come to accept it in time. With her left hand she took the beautiful fairy mask off, while with her trembling right hand she opened the pocket mirror she always carried with her. She swore in a hiss. It was worse than she had imagined. Her face was decomposing faster and faster: skin and flesh rotted on the bones in a matter of a few days now. If she went on like this, she would have to begin hunting younger prey. Yes, she needed more youthful skin, which would rot more slowly.
At the word ‘prey’ Sadie’s lipless mouth allowed itself a hungry smile.
Perhaps she would give herself another gift that day, the woman’s brain. Sadie ate, put carefully the human skin into the sack, and then closed it back. While throwing her victim’s remains in the lagoon, she wondered if it was her own wickedness that had prevented her from becoming one of those mindless beasts that could be seen in the movies. Maybe good people could not withstand the bite of the Night. She shrugged: after all, it was not important.
‘Hey, dear!’ A voice was calling, right behind her. A man with a heavy accent, maybe a fisherman. Sadie turned around without worrying about putting on the mask. The blood dripped on her skinless chin and the wind bounced off the exposed bones. He was an old man, intent on loosing his small motorboat from a nearby tier.
On seeing the girl, he laughed, shaking his head. ‘Oh, you’re a zombie, right?’ Sadie smiled. She looked at the mask she still held in her hand. Finally she decided. ‘Yes,’ she replied, moving slowly towards the fisherman. The closer she got the more she saw the man’s smile disappearing: she adored those little joys that her condition gave her. ‘No mask today.’ At that distance, she knew the man could see the bones under only a few layers of skin. ‘The Carnival is over.’
Bio: Aurora is an Italian author who writes fantasy and horror stories. She says Venice is an ancient place filled with magic and that is why she loves writing about it.