Have you ever heard of Bloody Mary? I’m not talking about the blood-red cocktail made from vodka, tomato juice, lemon juice and spices. I’m rather talking about the ghost girl in mirrors. As for me, it has not been until very recently that I’ve heard about the legend, during a trip in the United States of America.

I landed in Florida with two suitcases. Officially, I had gone there for a linguistic stay. It had been necessary to find a good reason to go there, otherwise my parents wouldn’t have bought me the plane ticket.  In reality, I had made the journey more to have some fun than to practise my English.

I was welcomed at Miami International Airport by Gabrielle’s family, my penfriend. They were wealthy Afro-Americans who lived right in the center of Miami Beach, in a huge loft composed of countless rooms. The one that impressed me the most was the games room: there were a billiard table, a table soccer table, a bar, a ping-pong table, a giant screen for video games clashes, turntables, among other things… and even a slot machine. Everything to spend good evenings with friends without being obliged to go out.

In the garden were a swimming-pool, a fountain, an ornamental lake where fish stayed with turtles, as well as a grotto consecrated to the Blessed Virgin (The Wilsons claimed to be Catholic even though their way of life during my stay was in total contradiction with this religion). I spent a lot of time there sitting on a deckchair, reading and sipping lemonade, or quite simply enjoying the sunshine.  What a good life I was living! I didn’t miss Paris, so to speak.

Upon my arrival Gabrielle settled me in a second floor suite, but we eventually shared hers; sometimes with her little sisters, most often just the two of us.  We spent our evenings watching movies in the home theater situated in the basement of the house and most of our weekends at a nightclub.

When we weren’t at a discotheque we organised parties at home.  The most memorable of them will remain, undoubtedly, that of the Halloween night.

Dracula, Batman, Voldemort, Superman, Spiderman, Catwoman, Iron Man, Harry Potter, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs…  All the superstars of the small and of the big screen were present.

The much-vaunted cocktail Bloody Mary and its alcohol-free variant, Virgin Mary, were flowing like water.

I have never been tempted to drink some, feeling sick at the very idea of drinking beverages made from chilli peppers, alcohol, and pepper among other things.

I was curious to know who this idea of mixture occurred to and asked my American friends the question, naively thinking that Bloody Mary was originally from the United States.

“Aren’t you French, Cinderella?” said Gargamel ironically.

“Yes, I am.”

“And you don’t know the origin of Bloody Mary!”

“Uh… I don’t… Why am I supposed to know it?”

“Because it comes from your country!”

“Does it?”

“Yes, it does!”

“How come it is so popular in the United Sates, though? It appears to me that some celebration called “Bloody Mary Day” takes place every year in New York!”

“Absolutely.  And not just in New York! To answer your question, it was its creator, Florian Petiot, who popularized it here. He had created it in the 1920s in Paris. He first exported it to Ohio, then to New York.”

“Ah! I would have never guessed it because of its English designation.”

“The cocktail owes its name, according to some sources, to Mary Tudor, queen of England of Catholic faith who had ordered the execution of Protestants during her reign. That’s why she was nicknamed Bloody Mary… because of her numerous miscarriages too.”

“Some people say that the cocktail has been created at Ernest Hemingway’s request,” Godzilla spoke up.

“The writer?” I enquired.

“The writer,” confirmed Godzilla, “It is said that he asked the barman to concoct an odorless alcoholic cocktail for him in order not to be shouted at by his wife when he got home. She was named Mary and he affectionately nicknamed her ‘Bloody Mary’.”

“Others attribute it to the ghost girl in mirrors,” said the Joker.

“The ghost girl in mirrors?” I said, dumbstruck.

“A mysterious girl that appears in mirrors when one pronounces ‘Bloody Mary’ three times in a row according to one version, thirteen times according to another one.   Yet another says that ‘Bloody Mary, I killed your baby’ has to be added. It is said that she immediately attacks the one who has appealed to her. There are several variants of the legend but they all agree on one thing: to appeal to her one has to lock oneself in a bathroom with a big mirror, be in complete darkness, light several candles and place them on both sides of the mirror. A frightening girl appears all dressed in white with her hands, her face and her dress covered with blood. Some people say that she comes peacefully and that one can ask her questions. However, one must hold back from looking in her eyes. Otherwise, she disappears. Others assert that she attacks those who dare to pronounce her name excessively and kill them if they don’t manage to escape.”

“Really? The ghost girl in mirrors, you said?” I asked the Joker.

“That’s exactly it!” he answered.

“I presume that Mary did exist, if it was her real name?”

“Here too, there are plenty of versions. One of them, very far-fetched, affirms that it is the Blessed Virgin that comes to warn people against pronouncing her name and the name of her son Jesus in vain.  Some people relate that it’s the ghost of an infanticide mother, others say that it’s the ghost of a woman who died in an accident with her son, that’s why she gets angry when one takes some malicious delight in saying ‘Bloody Mary, I killed your baby’. She is said to have decided to haunt mirrors so as to take revenge on those who took their lives.”

“The most messed up version I’ve heard is the following one: Mary was the daughter of a doctor. It is said that she fell into a coma in the wake of an illness. Being accused of witchcraft by some people eager to kill her, her father took advantage of this opportunity to make everybody think that she was already dead. He buried her alive after tying bells to her wrists in order that they might ring when she woke up. But the doctor didn’t hear the bells ring. At daybreak, he found the bells broken and his daughter dead with her hands covered with blood: she had scratched her grave in attempting to go out and had pulled her nails off,” explained Gargamel.

“Others say that she is a witch that was burned at the stake. Before her death she had cursed her murderers with the promise that she would come back to haunt them through mirrors,” said Godzilla.

“Anyway, there are a lot of versions!” concluded Gargamel.

“You don’t say! I’ve never heard about it in France!”

“You learn something new every day, dear Cinderella,” said the Green Goblin in an ironic tone.

“Guess what!” said Frankenstein, “I want to give it a try.”

“What are you talking about?” I asked.

“Calling the ghost three times and waiting to see if it appears. It will remove any doubt once and for all. Don’t you think?”

“There is no way I’m going to take part in it!” I said.

“What’s the point in removing any doubt if we die the second after?” said Tarzan.

“I am absolutely sure that nothing will happen to us. They are just tall stories! Who is game?” enquired Frankenstein.

Several persons let him know that they were game.

“Sleeping Beauty, will you lend us your bathroom?” Ken asked Gabrielle.

“Make yourselves at home, dear friends! I will go for a walk!”

“So will I!” I said.

“I will too,” said Mowgli.

“Wait for me,” exclaimed Wonder Woman.

We left the loft in a small group.

We spent a little while by the seaside telling ghost stories and other frightening stories. Then we took a stroll in Miami’s streets curious to see the costumes of its inhabitants.

When we went back to the loft, a deadly silence reigned. The switching on of the light made us discover an enormous mess. All had been turned upside down. It let us figure out some fight but we preferred thinking that our friends had orchestrated all the mess to scare us.

“Where are you guys?” asked Gabrielle in a shaky voice.

Nobody answered.

We looked at one another as if to say: “what shall we do now?”.Then Jordan and Maxwell decided to go and inspect the second floor.

From the stairs they could glimpse red stains that bore a resemblance to blood stains on the ground. They took their courage in both hands and entered Gabrielle’s bedroom. It had also been turned upside down. Pieces of clothes were lying here and there. They recognized the shoes of some of our friends scattered all over the room. The curtains had been torn off.  The closet, the chest of drawers and the lamp had been knocked down, the mirror had been shattered, and the chandelier had been blown to pieces on the ground.

They succeed in making their way to the bathroom where they discovered something gruesome: five of our friends were lying on the ground in a pool of blood.  The teeth of one of them had been pulled off and put on his chest. The second one had been disembowelled. The throat of the third one had been slit, his head hanged by a piece of skin. The genitals of the forth one had been severed, and the eye sockets of the last one had been emptied.

Jordan and Maxwell came back down hastily. “Run away!” they ordered us when they went back to the living room

We run for our lives. Not until we reached the main street which was still teeming with people did we stop running.

Jordan called 911… The policemen arrived on the scene shortly afterwards. They stayed speechless facing the massacre. In addition to the dead bodies that were in Gabrielle’s bathroom, they found corpses in the swimming pool, beneath the seat of the home theater, on the billiard table in the playroom. Two heads were rested in the kitchen sink; a leg had been put on the microwave oven. The walls of the garage had been redecorated with the victims’ blood.

One of the policemen confessed to have regurgitated what he had for dinner at the sight of such carnage. He was a seasoned police officer, though.

Additionally, he had witnessed something extremely seedy: one of the fish in the ornamental lake, a piranha, seized a human eye that belonged without doubt to the corpse found with his orbits empty in Gabrielle’s bathroom. It devoured it before his eyes. “It couldn’t have been more horrible”, he said to a journalist.

Only one of our friends survived. He had been found at the foot of the Blessed Virgin in the grotto. He has never been able to relate what happened: he has completely lost his marbles.

He was committed to a psychiatric clinic as soon as he left the hospital.

To this day the police are still unable to provide the slightest explanation about what could have occurred that night. As for my friends and I, we attributed the butchery to bloody Mary.

So, would you be tempted to verify the veracity of the legend as my friends did?

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« Bloody Mary » is a short story from « Red Line »

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