Three Ghosts of Elizabeth Bathory
My second short piece on the notorious sixteenth century Hungarian Countess. Was she a serial killer or victim of a patriarchal society? Or both?
Scene: A stereotypical, middle class, teenage girl's bedroom. Mina, a stereotypical, middle class, teenage girl is sleeping. Her lap top sits open on the bed.
Elizabeth 1 enters, wearing 16th Century dress but a modern hair cut and Warby Parker frames. She clears her throat. When Mina does not awake, she claps her hands sharply and Mina bolts upright.
MINA Mom? Wha - who are you?
ELIZABETH 1 You should know, you’re writing a paper about me.
MINA Elizabeth Bathory?
ELIZABETH 1 Bingo.
MINA But - you’re dead. How did you know about my paper?
ELIZABETH 1 Even the dead have Twitter.
MINA You - you speak English?
ELIZABETH 1 No. I’m using Google translate. This way we can confer in your language, your dialect, your modern day vernacular. Dude.
(RE: laptop) This is what you’ve written so far? (reading) Elizabeth Bathory, AKA the Blood Countess, tortured and murdered over six hundred girls - Baszd meg! This szar again?! Cite your sources.
ELIZABETH 1 Reputable biographies? Expert historians? Authenticated archives?
MINA Umm... Wikkipedia?
ELIZABETH 1 Let me guess - public school? (sighs) This Blood Countess business is untrue. History belongs to the victors and those szemetladas did a bang up job of destroying my name. But you! You can set the record straight.
MINA Uh, it’s just a five page paper.
ELIZABETH 1 Tell my truth -
MINA It’s only like two percent of my grade -
ELIZABETH 1 Redeem my name!
MINA I just need to pass European History. It’s not like I’m actually gonna be a historian. Or a European.
ELIZABETH 1 Don’t you want to fight the misogynistic patriarchy?
MINA No. I mean, I don’t know what that is exactly, but probably no.
ELIZABETH 1 I see. And what is it you do want to do?
MINA Be a singer/songwriter. Like Taylor Swift.
ELIZABETH 1 Ha! You know who I meet for lunch every Wednesday? Billie Holiday, Janis Joplin and Cher.
MINA But - Cher’s not dead.
ELIZABETH 1 Really? Hmm. She said y’all were fooled by that plastic robot but I thought she was kidding.
At any rate, if you think the music business is not a patriarchal, misogynistic institution, you’re in for a rude awakening.
MINA Whatever -
ELIZABETH 1 Quick, name three facts about me.
MINA You killed six hundred virgins -
ELIZABETH 1 Ridiculous!
MINA You took baths their blood -
ELIZABETH 1 Can’t be done, it’d coagulate -
MINA Cuz you thought it made you look younger -
ELIZABETH 1 Kurva eletbe! Did it not occur to you that these horror stories are pure fabrication, devised by my faszfej enemies for personal gain?
ELIZABETH 1 Really. Of course, you also thought Cher was alive.
MINA I read your whole Wiki page and -
ELIZABETH 1 Lies! You think men have issues with strong women today? Imagine the sixteenth century! I had money, prestige - I was the Bitch in Charge. The Alfa of Eastern Europe, I was running the whole kibaszott show until my seggfej cousin and that Ló fasz King Matthias conspired to take me down.
ELIZABETH 1 Money. Influence. I had too much of both, which threatened their chauvinistic institution of male dominance.
MINA But there were witnesses-
ELIZABETH 1 They were tortured! The one witness who refused to speak against me? They poked out her eyes and burned her alive. Pretty compelling reason to give false testimony, no?
MINA I guess.
ELIZABETH 1 You guess?!
MINA I’m really tired -
ELIZABETH 1 Cher told me about you. Your generation. Millennials, right? That you’re inherently lazy, spoiled -
MINA Spoiled? Me?! I’m still using the i-phone 4! Look, even if I did write your “truth” or whatever, the only person who’s gonna see it is Mr. Pinchon and he’s like a total alcoholic and he probably won’t even read it, just count the pages, so it’s not like it’d make any difference. I mean, I get how you feel -
ELIZABETH 1 I highly doubt that.
MINA I do - this bitch Addison - total rich girl, blonde hair, y’know - she, like, lied and told everyone I gave her boyfriend a blow job at Homecoming and people Lost. Their. Shit. I was untouchable for weeks. Totally unfair -
ELIZABETH 1 You didn’t give him a -
MINA No, I totally did, but not at Homecoming, it was Prom. So, I get that you’re pissed but it was like a million years ago -
ELIZABETH 1 Four hundred.
MINA So maybe get over it already?
ELIZABETH 1 Where are your feminist principles?! Isn’t this the era of Gloria Steinham?! Susan Sontag?! Andrea Dworkin?!
MINA They’re Destiny’s Child, right? Before Beyonce?
ELIZABETH 1 Educate yourself! Do the research!
As Mina falls asleep, Elizabeth 1 begins fading away.
DO ANY research! Listen to me! NONE of the evidence - hey! Wake up... Eliz 1 disappears. After a beat, Eliz 2 enters. She resembles the actual Bathory portrait in dress/hair/etc. She clears her throat but Mina doesn’t wake, so she pinches her.
MINA Ow! What the - Oh, not you again. Wait, you had glasses -
ELIZABETH 2 Ah. That was Elizabeth the Revisionist. Guess she beat me here - she’s so Type A. I am Elizabeth the Temperate. I hear you’re writing a paper -
MINA It’s just a bullshit class assignment!
ELIZABETH 2 Be that as it may -
MINA Look, you need to bug the Wiki people -
ELIZABETH 2 We’ve tried -
MINA THEY’RE the ones said you tortured the girls - cut them, poked them with needles -
ELIZABETH 2 Yes, that is true.
MINA HA! See?!
ELIZABETH 2 Acupuncture. A rudimentary form to be sure, but it was the 1500s, doctors were scarce. Who do you think treated the ill? Educated women such as myself and those faszkalaps have twisted my ad hoc medical treatments into this macabre fiction.
MINA You never beat your servants?
ELIZABETH 2 Servants? Of course I beat them. How else would I keep them in line?
MINA That’s messed up.
ELIZABETH 2 You can’t apply modern day morays to my time. We all beat our servants. Some died. Oh well. I don’t see you shedding any tears over that spider you squashed today.
MINA How did you know -
ELIZABETH 2 Maybe centuries from now, you’ll be deemed a murderess as spiders'll have equal rights.
MINA That’s stupid. Spiders can’t even vote.
ELIZABETH 2 That’s what I would have said about servants. Especially the Slavs. You see, it’s all context. Maybe I was a too harsh a task master but Elizabeth the Revisionist, despite her dreary feminist rhetoric, is right - a chauvinistic conspiracy robbed me of my power and my life.
MINA Life? You weren’t executed.
ELIZABETH 2 They walled me up in a faszfej castle - how long would you have lasted? I - andmgnand (garbled speech) - need you to oxzendnnsgidy - Damn! What’s wrong with your Wi Fi? You have to adlkjfoieu because (static) and I aoidoihekk - Please (static) ...
Elizabeth 2 fades away. Mina falls asleep. Elizabeth 3 enters. Her hair is wild, her gown drenched in blood. She slaps Mina across the face. Hard. Mina gasps, startles awake.
ELIZABETH 3 Sorry? Did I wake you?
MINA OHMYGOD, It’s just a STUPID TERM PAPER!
ELIZABETH 3 Ah - I take it Lesbo Liz and Bossy Betty have been here. (snatching Mina’s i-phone) Oooh - Selfie! You’ve still got the 4? Loser. The other Lizzies are a drag but they're right, I was totally shafted.
MINA The paper’s due tomorrow - I’m not rewriting it.
ELIZABETH 3 Then don't. I’m Elizabeth the Sensationalist. I don’t give a crap what you write, as long as it’s sensational. Are you a virgin?
MINA No. Duh - I’m fifteen.
ELIZABETH 3 La De Da. I was married at ten and had my first baby by thirteen, a baby that wasn’t my husband’s by the way. You’re kibaszott nun by comparison. You’ll do.
ELIZABETH 3 Takes more than sunblock to maintain this creamy complexion.
Mina leaps out of bed. She circles away from Elizabeth, keeping the bed between them.
MINA Wait - you said it was all lies!
ELIZABETH 3 True, but the truth is so dull. I was a victim of a sexism - BORING. Like feminism, right? Who cares?!
Mina breaks for the door. Elizabeth snatches her by the hair and tries to wrestle Mina to the ground. Mina struggles in vain.
MINA I care! I do! It’s - it’s just different now.
Elizabeth pins Mina to the floor.
ELIZABETH 3 Is it? Women are still second class. We’re paid less, promoted less, harassed more. We’re not in control of anything, not even our own bodies, but who’s got time to deal with all that? Not you - not when there are Instagrams to post and Kardashians to watch and fake tits to buy -
MINA I don’t have fake -
ELIZABETH 3 Yet. You couldn’t be bothered to research my life but your search history shows an exhaustive study of gel versus silicone implants.
Elizabeth brandishes a dagger and holds it to Mina’s throat.
MINA I’m sorry!
ELIZABETH 3 Too late.
ELIZABETH 3 Well... Ok. How many feminists does it take to change a light bulb?
MINA One? No - TWO! No, wait - -
ELIZABETH 3 Trick question - thanks to traitors like you, feminists can’t change anything!
Elizabeth stabs Mina to death. Then she grabs Mina’s cell and takes a sexy photo of herself next to the body.
Cheese! (RE: photo) Ugh.
Using Mina’s blood, Elizabeth redden her lips and cheeks, then takes another photo which she views with satisfaction. That’s better. Even though all that shit was made up, it turns out blood really does have restorative properties. Go figure. And you've soooo much blood, don't you? I really should share this bounty with my vampire kin, my fellow worshiper of preternatural youth, (dialing phone) my dewy, apple cheeked Sister of the Undead.