The Price of Admission

It took omissions, half-truths and bald-faced lies, as well as everything she owned, everything she borrowed and everything she could steal to gain entry into this most holy of places. Melissa greeted the maître d’heaven with a sly smile as she handed over her excellently forged credentials.

Maître D tossed the documents aside and with the slightest flick of his wrist caused her clothing to evaporate into thin air. Melissa stood straight-backed and proud because she knew her body was immaculate, but there was something in the maître d’s gaze that forced her to look at herself.

At her left foot, a writing quill began engraving her evenly tanned flesh with silvery symbols that appeared to be beautiful and breathtaking when first applied but slowly turned a horrific mottled and bruised purple as the ink dried. The designs snaked up around her leg, over her inguen, around her ribcage and breasts and concluded on her neck, with the sharp point of the quill hovering just over her jugular vein.

“What the hell is this?” Melissa asked, gesturing at the jumble of symbols, none of which she recognized, that made her throat constrict just to look at.

“These,” the maître d answered in a civil tone, free of contempt. “Are your sins, a lifetime’s worth. You have been marked, just as Cain had, and since you strived so hard to enter this establishment, access has been granted. You are free to travel as you wish, but everyone will know your crimes and you will know unending shame. Please enjoy your stay.”

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