Guest Author - Damaris West
A naked, flame-like body shining pale in the centre of a ring of shadowy figures. One might have expected it to look vulnerable, to have the air of a sacrificial victim, but it gave quite the opposite impression. In part due to her stature, in part to a natural charisma, Alice seemed to be in total control of those sinister figures. With a great dramatic gesture, throwing back her head, she now pointed to another person in the circle who immediately began to undress, the garments being retrieved by the figure to the right in the same way as before. This time the naked body that emerged was that of a younger woman, with full breasts and a dark triangle of pub** hair. I looked closely at her face but didn’t recognise her.
Before the second figure had scarcely discarded her last item of clothing, Alice had made a gesture towards a third who responded also by undressing. Then while this one was still slipping off the last garments, she pointed towards a fourth. It was an amazing spectacle. All fourteen of the figures eventually took off their clothes, but the instructions to do so came at gradually decreasing intervals so that the whole performance gathered speed like a catherine wheel.
I glanced sideways at Dick once or twice during this display; his eyes were nearly popping out of his head. All the naked figures were female. Some were young, though most were mature and some even elderly - one or two considerably older than Alice. All of them, however, even the most wrinkled and saggy, shared a certain self-confidence which I guessed was the result of just such activities as this. I looked as hard as I could, but I didn’t recognise anyone else.
Once all the women were naked, Alice bent down and picked up what looked like a pot or crock from beside her. She took it to each member of the circle in turn, holding it for them while they dug a finger in the contents and put the finger straight up between their legs. Each woman rubbed her hands together and wiped the substance all over her body, now and again dipping back between her legs for more. A dim, dim memory came to me of having read of this sort of thing: witches introducing hallucinogenic ointment vag*nally to enhance the effect.
After that, Alice took a place among the others in the circle and they all began silently dancing, accompanied only by the hiss and sigh of waves sliding up the shore beyond them. Without music, and without being able to see each other (their eyes were closed, I noticed,) they somehow managed to achieve a fundamental unity in their dance. They writhed with their arms stretched up and their heads bent back. Their bodies swayed like flower stalks in the wind. The dancing began slow and stately but grew faster and faster, wilder and wilder, until the entire group was thrashing back and forth like weed in a turbulent stream. Eventually, as if their power came all from the one source, they began to slow. They came to a standstill, one after the other, in different poses, stayed thus for a while, then opened their eyes as if coming round from a trance. I found myself envying them. Why had I never done something like that on a wild, moonlit shore?