Place a character within a well-known painting. (we observe Judith slaying Holofernes by Artemisia Gentileschi)
The scene is absolutely lush, decadent. I can smell the scandal in the air. Holofernes, that grasping, grabbing bastard, looks like he's on the verge of being sick on himself. But Judith! Those eyes have never been brighter or sharper. I can't tear my own from her.
Oh, so he wants some privacy now, eh? God, what a disgusting braggart. Women know that the key to power is subtlety. I should really leave, but the desire to see how this plays out is too strong. I'll see Holofernes humiliated yet.
The tent dims as his belching, swaggering officers and guests trail out. A few servants linger behind, but they are faceless and invisible. A rich ottoman in a dark corner will suit me perfectly well as I watch events unfold – besides, I have other ways of concealing myself if need be. My breath catches as Judith lowers the delicate silk robe from her dark shoulders and approaches the bearded idiot collapsed on the carpet. Her face is not seductive, but sinister.
She kneels, cradling his head in her lap, stroking his face. A low murmur escapes her lips, and a maidservant appears from the gloom, a glinting curved sword in hand. I realize I've been so rapt that I've bitten my lip to the point of drawing blood.
Then, Judith strikes. It is glorious. Blood cascades from the gouge in Holofernes' neck and bathes her beautiful gown in a shower of sticky crimson. Spinal cords and bones snap under the blade. Her jaw is set, her eyes like steel. It takes two strokes to sever his head. And as if she has magic of her own, Judith and her maid disappear with her trophy.
I'm still taking in the majesty of the scene, exulting in Judith's triumph and Holofernes' gory end, but I know I must not be found here. I slip into the night like a sigh.