Our Lady of Trapped Thirst
By: Anne Boleyn
Writing Prompt: No
Date: 7th Nov 2021
“Floating metal?” Anne asked again, the slackjawed Chessus Crust waiter staring at her, desperate to escape the conversation and leave the Marquess with her two slices of pepperoni. “Just seems so impractical,” she added, prodding the slice with her fork before cutting into it with the accompanying knife. Her absence from the charity cruise had been noted, particularly on her win/loss record, leaving her with a forfeiture via no-show. 2021 was a puzzling year indeed.
The waiter started to walk away from the table, his first step a pivot that could transition easily into a full sprint back to the safety of the kitchen. A peck at the window stopped him, made his blood run cold. The pigeons were back. “We’re not done,” said Anne. “I’m launching a new product line.”
“You have products?” asked the waiter, knuckles whitening as his greasy hands squeezed the hem of his apron.
“Do I have products?” she laughed, reaching under the table to produce a glass bottle, filled to the top with white that was only a touch lighter than Anne’s on complexion. “Secondhand, of course, but I pass the savings onto you. Tell your boss that much to my delight, I am Cheezus Crust’s exclusive provider of liquid milk. If plans go accordingly, a full line of dairy products will follow. To be blunt, I’m still educating myself on your milk percentages. Not to wax nostalgic, but I’m accustomed to the animal being the distinction. Cow, goat, sheep, horse. Once sampled a spot of marmot milk in Alençon. Exquisite, but terribly cumbersome getting any worthwhile volume from the little rascals.”
She handed him the bottle. Reluctantly, fearfully, he took it and examined the swirling liquid within. It looked less white up close. “Did you say secondhand?”
Anne’s hand pressed against her chest, squeezing a haughty laugh from her throat. “Don’t concern yourself with the procurement. Commerce is a tedious business, after all. But I assure you, proper channels were used.”
At 3AM that same morning, the Big Apple slept as much as it ever did. Darkness reigned and a delivery driver backed his truck into a loading bay, eager to part with his pasteurized payload. A glance in his side mirror caused him to groan. The rolling door was down, the warehouse workers clearly unprepared for his arrival. So much for squeezing in a nap before clocking out at dawn. The truck door rocked as he opened it, reeling from the seismic force of his rage, moaning metallically in protest. The entire dock was deserted and eerily silent, a concrete tomb. “Hello?” he asked, voice breaking. His frazzled nerves took away his ability to yell.
“Yes, good evening,” said a voice, posh but creaking, like it had been torn in half and carelessly stitched back together. A woman appeared, cloaked and ominous, a blackclad wraith with a ghostly pallor. Something dangled from her gloved hand. “Can’t imagine you’re in a position to negotiate my seizure of your goods. Deepest apologies, but brigandry shall now commence.”
The driver blinked at the woman, the gears of his comprehension whirring helplessly, unable to turn. When she raised her hand, he saw her pull back the line of a slingshot, unleashed a brown glob that soared soundlessly through the air before smacking wetly onto his check. The impact was painful, enough to send him stumbling back. His hand prodded the mass, now stuck to the side of his face. He pulled his fingers away for an examination. Peanut butter and birdseed.
The woman approached, seemingly unconcerned after the attack. “They’re quite ravenous,” she said, before climbing into the truck. A moment later and the first pigeon was on him, making a tentative dive at his seeded cheek. That one assault was enough to embolden countless others, swooping silently down on dirty wings, desperate to sate their avian appetites. They prodded the driver with beaks, latched onto him with claws, beat him with wings. The flapping and pecking and feeding rang so loudly in his ears that he didn’t even hear the truck crank. As it peeled out of the loading bay and vanished into the night, the driver fell to the asphalt and wished his torment would not be long.
“The proper channels, indeed,” Anne reiterated. “How many bottles would you like?”
Somehow the waiter’s jaw further slackened. “Uhhhhh,” he answered. “We can’t just buy stolen–“
“-Procured,” Anne corrected. “The word you’re looking for is procured. And I – oh drat.” The sight of blue lights outside stopped the queen’s attempt at commerce. She collected her things, milk bottle, plate of two pepperoni slices, and got to her feet, brushing past the waiter. “I’ll be leaving out the back now. You have failed to seize a grand opportunity, pizzasmith. Tell the constables nothing and send a wheel of pepperoni and cheese to my loft for dinner.”
Anne took a moment to scoff at the STAFF ONLY sign as she pushed through the swinging doors to the kitchen and the awaiting alley beyond. As the one-way door slammed behind her, a thought came screaming from her brain and burst past her lips. “What am I going to do with all this milk?”
New York’s finest came in the front entrance moments after. “Uhhhhh,” said the waiter.
Anne’s neck throbbed more than usual, but the milk bath did wonders for easing the once bifurcated bone. She kept her hair and head above the surface, her locks tied into an ivory-lavender and ebony-indigo bun. “Brilliant call on the milk bath, Anne,” she said.
She snatched an open milk bottle tabled next to her clawfoot tub and took a sip. “Why thank you, Anne,” she answered.
Anne wore an Edwardian nightgown, a mass of vintage lace in obsidian fabric. Her hair remained in the same milk-bath bun from earlier. Behind her, the clawfoot tub sat several feet off the ground on a wooden pallet, the milk draining through pipes back into the empty bottles from whence it came. The labels were replaced with Anne’s own likeness, proclaiming them Milk of Human Misery. “A play on Shakespeare. He’s a bit after my time, but I’ve had quite a bit to catch up on. Speaking of which, your Seinfeld plays are quite delightful.”
Reaching off-camera, the Marquess of Mayhem seized a fresh bottle of milk, unfiltered through her tub, and twisted the cap off, enjoying a sip. “But patron of the arts though I am, the theater must wait. A steadfast foe stands before me, a chance at redemption after I refused to set foot on your modern metallic doom ship. One death was plenty, thank you.”
“Atara the Greek awaits and my brain prickles with all manner of epicly mythological strategies. Hold her off the earth from which she draws her power and strangle her, bind her to a mountaintop so that eagles might feast daily upon her ever-regenerating liver, perhaps even lopping her head off so that I might use it to petrify my future enemies.” Anne paused, index finger lightly scratching at the scar ringing her own neck.
“Actually,” she continued. “Nevermind the decapitation. I don’t want that to become my whole brand. But I am both wily and wary enough to know that one can never take a Greek lightly. Cross one and the next thing you know, they poison your bathing spring and your very womanhood transmogrifies into a mass of snarling dog heads. Suppose Atara utilizes a dog-head vagina offense in conjunction with a monstrous whirlpool, and well, that would certainly put me between a… something and something. The expression slips my mind.”
Another milk sipping followed, leaving the queen with a moustache only slightly lighter than her own skin. “But mayhaps I’m being old fashioned, unable to adapt to your fantastical new world of tweeting and thotting and thirst trapping. In my day, we called it poisoning and we did it so that we might remove a rival from the line of succession. Of course, then they would choke on their spewing bile and ruin what might have otherwise been a perfectly good banquet. Imagine having to finish your salted stag after seeing that.” The queen stuck out the royal tongue, taking another drink to wash away the taste of poisonings past.
“But take not a queen lightly, Atara. For I will drag you to Tartarus with me, where no amount of godly intervention can interfere. Oh, I suppose it is the domain of Hades, but he’s little more than a divine goth kid, sullen and sour. The Furies will weep when they see the horror I visit upon you. And when I climb back out of the abyss, the world will once again bow before Anne Boleyn. And they will drink from my milk bath.”
“Divinity is overrated, pigeon,” Anne added, taking a final drink and finishing the bottle. “But queenliness is making quite the comeback..”