Friday, Week Seven
She was late for class, but couldn't bring herself to go into the building. Sofia frowned, took a drag off her cigarette, then ashed onto the cobbled pavement, shivering in the cold. There was no reason she could think of to be afraid of sight-singing, but she'd been on edge for days. Even walking down the hall spooked her, because she had this weird notion that just around the corner might be Some kind of other place. Sofia yawned and stretched, shook herself, then watched the last smoke from her exhalation slowly mix into cold November air. The curling trails were quickly sucked away into the courtyard, instead of the way they lazily rose around her head in her dorm room, making her follow the wafting lines into
Fuck. Miss Zemanova was going to give her a really hard time for walking in late, so she might as well face the music, so to speak. She jogged into the building and up the stairs, book in hand.
The sound of the other girls' singing almost made her stop again in the hall, but she steeled herself and gently pushed open the heavy wooden door to the classroom.
Predictably, Miss Z didn't even give her an inch of slack. She waved angrily to the girls to stop and turned to face Sofia, who eyed her desk across the room.
"And to what do we owe the pleasure, Sofia?" She rested her hand on her hip and awaited a reply, blond eyebrows arched.
"Sorry," Sofia replied breezily. "Forgot my book and had to go back." She slid into her seat and gave an insincerely apologetic smile. Still, in the pit of her stomach was a queasy deja vu. Something about someone else being late, maybe last week. But she pushed the feeling away in the face of the immediate threat.
Miss Z smiled, because Sofia had shown no outward sign of intimidation. "Yes, you're quite the forgetful little thing as of late. Wandering around the campus with a lost look on that pinched face." Sofia didn't really like or know where Miss Z was going with this, but she kept her expression politely attentive. "And while your performance on the midterm was adequate, you'll do well not to forget there is still half a term to go."
Adequate Sofia could sing this crap in her sleep! Why they wouldn't let her test out of all these ear-training courses entirely was beyond her. It was like they wanted her to go through these endless hours of singing in sleepy classrooms for some other reason. Regarding the stern teacher in front of her desk, she simply smiled again, hoping to cut the public flogging short.
Miss Z looked around the room. "Girls, Line Forty-Two, from the beginning. And three. Four."
Sofia jumped in without cracking her book, staring at Miss Z. To show that she didn't need this course or lessons from this goose-stepping teacher. It wasn't the wisest move, but Sofia rarely backed down from a confrontation. So she let loose her robust soprano, stepping through the exercise with assurance, adding a touch of vibrato at the end of the line as a little "fuck you".
The girls were now silent, waiting for instruction, but Miss Z was just staring down at Sofia, and after a moment chairs began to creak awkwardly.
"Line Forty-Three," said Miss Z, planting her palms on Sofia's desk. "And three. Four." Then she began to sing with the class, eyes never leaving Sofia's. Her voice was much louder and she matched Sofia's manner perfectly, even imitating the cheeky vibrato at the end of the line. Sofia wanted to crack a smile because this was a really stupid show to put on in front of the whole class, but better judgement prevailed.
"Line Forty-Four. Three. Four." It looked like Miss Z was going to teach the whole class from Sofia's desk, giving back every ounce of shit Sofia dished out. Until next year, if need be. And then the strange thing happened, the way it did each time: all the voices in the room pulled together, merging under the teacher's. Sofia knew she was still singing from the physical sensation, but she couldn't pick her own voice out of the choir anymore. She finally broke Miss Z's gaze, looking at her desk. Her fingers crept to her book as she considered finally opening up to the right page and putting a stop to her smart-assed memorization routine, but stern hands gripped her wrists and put them back. Then one hand slipped under her chin and slowly, assuredly raised her head up. Miss Z had started this little game and she was going to finish it.
They finished the week's exercises in record time, and were made to start over. Sofia blinked frequently, but couldn't break Miss Z's gaze. Those cold, hard blue eyes both challenged and teased, saying "Look into my eyes and I will make a meal of you."
It was on the second exercise that all the other voices in the room became inaudible, replaced by Miss Z's precise alto and a curious rushing noise. It was harder and harder to concentrateSofia couldn't even tell if she was hitting the right notes, and the rushing, rumbling sound became more like a sensation. It was the feeling and sound of travelling; the sound of falling into Miss Z's eyes. And the sound of Sofia's blood rushing through her veins.
She lost track of the exercises, of everything, even the proximity of her teacher as frightening waves of dizziness assaulted her. And that wasn't the only thing. The sound of her blood made her feel engorged. She felt swollen, in her lips and behind her bra and in her clit, which was a hard pebble underneath her desk. The dizziness increased along with the swelling, and Sofia thought that she moaned, only she was pretty sure she was still singing somewhere and the last clear memory she had was of being sorry for ever drawing the ire of Miss Zemanova, because that memory shattered into hundreds of pieces of memories of the last six weeks, just as her head fell forward and
In the dream she's trying to free her wrists, but she's chained to a cold stone wall. It's dark, and she can only see the outlines of the many female figures in front of her. She feels a cold swipe across her belly, and looks down to see a line of red paint. Before she can look up again, many fingers dabbed with paint begin to cross her skin. She's trying to tell them to stop because the sensations are flattening her, inside her head. And they're stoking her, between her legs, pushing her to a climax she doesn't want, because then she'll slip into another dream instead of waking up wherever she just was, where her real self is in some kind of trouble. They don't stop painting and she knows with dismal clarity that she's going to cum and there's nothing she can do to stop it. She sucks air in a series of incremental, freezing gasps as everything finally breaks loose, and her walls clench painfully. The wash of ecstasy feels bad and wrong somehow, like all the paint on her body is draining out of her sex onto the cold floor and
all of the girls collected their books and shuffled out of the room, pointedly ignoring Sofia as she realized she was sitting there at her desk. Just as she began to look around the room for Miss Z, she felt a tight, slightly friendly squeeze around her shoulders. "Run along, Sofia. You don't want to be late for your next class." The squeeze became a bewildering caress of the back of her neck, and Sofia jumped up and hurried out of the room.
Sunday, Week 8
Something bad was definitely going on here; she was aware of it again today. Sometimes it got pushed back, and she went for days without really knowing where she was or what she was doing. At times she'd almost feel normal, just going through the routine of classes and practicing and such, but then she would realize she didn't feel anything except a gauzy haze shutting out the extremes of emotion. Like the time her parents, horrified with her Goth tendency toward the melancholy, put her on Prozac for a summer instead of simply remembering what it was like when they were teenagers. Only this was much, much stronger.
Walking into the dining hall today, she could remember enough to know she needed to get out of there. And she knew damn well that she'd better not attract too much attention doing it. Sofia also knew she needed help.
After loading up with the merely adequate dorm food at the serving line, she carefully circled the dining room, searching for a friendly face. Those were in short supply lately and Sofia was starting to figure out why. All of the younger students were going through whatever-it-was that was happening to her, but they reacted differently. Some had yielded almost instantly to the invasive forces at workthese were easy to spot because they looked almost like department store mannequins, blankly chewing and swallowing. Others were slowly being broken down (like herself?), and in the face of the invisible influence at work they were retreating inward. These girls were sullen and withdrawn, not seeing that the problem wasn't personal. A few resisted strongly and openly, but Sofia was sure that their number was dwindling.
Then there was Bebel, who was always there for her. Sweet, sunny Bebel, who laughed easily and was generous with hugs. Only Sofia didn't trust her anymore because sometimes when they were alone in their room together, she could feel Bebel looking at her while her back was turned. And it wasn't a nice look. Bebel was one of them.
As Sofia scanned the dining hall, she finally spotted a girl eating by herself in the corner, shooting wary glances here and there. In this roomful of glazed expressions, she might as well have been wearing a t-shirt that said "potential ally." Sofia wandered casually up to her table and asked, "This seat taken?"
The disheveled, short haired blond was much smaller than Sofia - a frightened, messy little art school pixie. She looked her up and down skittishly, but to Sofia's relief, she nodded her head at the seat.
Sofia seated herself and eagerly tore into her food, such as it was. She was nervous, so she diverted her attention to eating before sussing out her potential comrade. After clearing half of her plate she looked up to see the other girl staring at her. "What?" she said around a mouthful of bread and cheese.
"Most of them don't seem to be very hungry," the girl said softly, looking around the hall. Sofia opened her mouth again but before she could speak, the girl pointed to herself and said, "Anja."
"Sofia." She decided to cut to the chase. "You having dreams?"
Anja nodded once, then dipped her eyes to her plate.
Sofia leaned forward, encouraged. "What the fuck is happening around here?" she whispered.
Anja started to answer, but quickly resumed eating as a dining room attendant brushed by. When the old lady had passed, she leaned forward slightly. "I don't know I just know that I can't remember what they're doing to me. To us. And whenever I try to call my parents, the line's conveniently disconnected."
Sofia kicked herself for not even thinking to try to call home. She must've been farther gone than she suspected. "I want to get out of here."
"None of the students seem to leave, even the older ones. Whenever I get to the gate something happens, and the next thing I know I'm back in my room." Anja put down her fork to dab at her eyes with her napkin.
"There has to be a way," Sofia whispered. "Tonight let's meet up and-"
"Oh!" Anja choked. She nearly knocked her glass over as
she jumped up. "I have to go." And before Sofia could call
after her, she heard a familiar voice.
"Making new friends?" Bebel asked, fingers brushing against her hair as she slipped up behind her.
Sofia was proud of herself for not leaping out of her skin. Tucking some hair behind one ear she shrugged, "Just chatting. Have a sit."
Her lovely roommate slid into Anja's vacant seat with catlike grace, eyeing Sofia expectantly. "Trading stories about the witches?"
Sofia laughed at her. "Babs. Are you jealous?"
Bebel's eyes briefly flicked across the room. Clearly she was. Jealous, and something else. "Don't be silly, I just want you to be happy here. So many of the new students well, they can't take the pressure."
"I'll see you at juries. Then we'll see who can take pressure." Sofia was pretty sure that's how she'd answer if she really were at a normal music school.
Bebel seemed delighted. "There's my dark little violista."
Thursday, Week 9
Things had gone from bad to worse in quartet rehearsals. Miss Z may have got the best of Sofia in sight-singing class, but she resigned to die before she let Lewellyn push her around, so poor Miranda and Reese - more run down and tired each week - had to suffer through many tense hours punctuated with elaborate insults.
Today they were reading something new, written by the head Musicology professor. It was kind of an indulgence really; they were even recording a run-through for her later in the week. Unlike most of her fellow students, Sofia was game for almost anything modern, but this piece looked like a real challenge. It was reminiscent of Penderecki, but even more concerned with textures and washes of sound. From Sofia's reading habits, she could see that the score was organized by numerological principles. It was pretty arcane stuff that made her roll her eyes when she first looked it over.
Lewellyn wasted no time baiting Sofia. "My my, Wednesday finally wore something besides black today." To which Sofia replied by sticking out her tongue. So she felt like looking sexy today, what about it? She'd almost forgotten that she packed the little burgundy velvet dress until she found it in the back of her closet that morning. It was exciting to doll up a little, even if there wasn't a boy to be found for miles.
The odd thing was, things began to go pretty smoothly once they started reading the new material. Sure there were a few train wrecks during the first movement while they adjusted to the unusual notation (the professor had even sprinkled a little glitter over the pages!), but Lewellyn was unusually charitable about starting over.
Sofia was so engrossed in her part that she didn't have time to scan the room as often as she usually did. When she did look up, she noticed that Reese and Miranda looked a little pale. At first she thought it was the ancient fluorescent lighting, but compared to them Lewellyn looked positively pink. Curiously, they were playing with a lot more oomph than usual, even though they seemed so tired and withdrawn.
She didn't have much of a chance to think about it, though. The second movement was very demanding, full of note choices and other decisions left up to her. So instead of merely reading down some sheet music, she had to improvise based on what the others were doing. It was draining to concentrate this much, but the piece was very lovely in the dark, menacing way Sofia liked best. She tried to follow the others, but she lagged behind. That's when she realized something.
Miranda and Reese weren't listening to her at all. That had to be what was bogging things down: there was no interplay between them and her. And though she couldn't look up from the music, she knew Lewellyn well enough to know she was smirking as she teased with her note choices, deliberately following her in close intervals at times, drawing her along in octaves at others. Soon Sofia found she was following Lewellyn's lead.
Then she noticed that Miranda and Reese were playing to Lewellyn, too. And it hit herthis piece wasn't about four individuals contributing to a whole, it was about three following one. Threes and ones littered the score, and sensing this caused Sofia to actually droop forward a bit, either toward the page or toward Lewellyn.
As they segued into the third movement a massive head rush overtook her. Stars sparkled at the edge of her vision, blurring into the glitter on the music. Weakly she noted that it was getting harder to draw her bow. Risking a glance during a long and particularly dissonant chord, she saw that Miranda and Reese were blinking sleepily over their music stands. Lewellyn was flushed, sitting up very straight. Her eyes met Sofia's, then danced down to her music and back to hers, beckoning Sofia's attention to the task at hand. Sofia took a deep breath and arched her back, her dress suddenly tight and uncomfortable. Grimly she realized that Lewellyn was somehow feeding on her, and on the other girls, but it took all her strength to simply sit and play, so she gave in and looked back to the music.
Slowly, the rhythmless sheets of sound gave way to meter, and the pace quickened. As it did, Sofia felt her energy return. Only it felt different: metallic and bitter. It was purely a physical energy, because it did nothing to clear her head. Without looking up again, she knew that Lewellyn was staring intently at her, chasing her along the fretboard in minor seconds. The ending sounded positively eerie, as though there was an entire orchestra of strange instruments in the room rather than a quartet. Sofia heard brittle scraping and rattling and heavy chains. And lustful cries and howling. Her chin was sore from its tight grip on her viola and her legs were squeezed tightly together. Inexplicably, a gust of wind seemed to blow through the stuffy room, making her dress flap against her thighs. Rapt, she tore through her final measures with complete abandon, nearly breaking a string as their final, sustained chord cluster rang out. But rather than ending together, Lewellyn had a brief solo that seemed to commit the whole leering finale to the earth.
Breathing heavily, Sofia lowered her instrument, only to be startled by a loud whack! Miranda's cello had crashed to the floor and was now being joined by Reese, who spilled out of her chair with a sigh. Before Sofia knew what she was doing, she jumped from her seat, stepped over Reese, swatted away the music stand in front of Lewellyn and eagerly pressed her mouth to the green-eyed quartet leader's.
Tuesday, Week Ten
Sofia paced in the dark little stone passageway, shivering. The shit had really hit the fan at this so-called school and it was time to leave. Anja, who'd agreed to meet her here at two in the morning, was late.
After quartet rehearsal the other day (or whatever you wanted to call it), and after she finally tore herself away from Lewellyn's powerful charms, she sat in a courtyard for hours. Chain-smoking on a stone bench in chilly drizzle, she tried to get her head together, but clarity wouldn't come. Why had she just locked lips (and a few other things) with another girl? A girl she couldn't stand?
By Sunday she wasn't much better off, but she had avoided Bebel and Lewellyn all weekend and she was clear on one thingget the hell out of this place or end up like poor, red-haired Hannah. Unfortunately, thoughts of escape were interspersed with images of Lewellyn, and Sofia's breathing quickened at the thought of their bodies straining to press together, and the smell of Lewellyn's breath, the taste of her mouth This strong attraction to Evil Bitch didn't seem right at all, but that didn't make it any less powerful.
Sofia put out a hand to the cold wall to steady herself. Her other shaking fingers tapped a cigarette out of the carton in a jittery but practiced motion, and she lit it greedily, hiding the flame to keep her cover of darkness. Where the hell was Anja? She squeezed her eyes shut, trying not to think of doing this by herself.
Noises on the steps leading down to the passageway. Sofia instinctively crouched, clenching her fists, but a thin veil of fog parted to reveal Anja, white with fear and walking quickly toward her.
"Did anyone see you?" Sofia whispered, her voice swallowed up in the late night quiet.
Anja locked eyes with her. "I'm not sure, I " Her eyelids fluttered and she appeared to listen for something.
Sofia reached out to grip Anja's comically huge fur coat. "Hey. Did anyone see you?"
Anja seemed to snap out of it upon being touched. "I think they know, Sofia. I don't think they followed me but I don't think they need to. Please let's go!" She was running on fumesit'd obviously taken everything she had to get herself here.
Sofia relented. "Okay kid. Let's do it. Just like we planned." She steered Anja around in front of her, indicating that she was to lead, and the tiny girl surged forward. They were in a series of rarely used sunken passageways behind the equipment storage buildings, thus unlikely to encounter anyone. These same stone corridors led to a locked iron gate that looked easy to climb.
Anja had obviously made it this far more than once. "This is where something usually happens," she said mournfully, shivering and eyeing the gate suspiciously.
"This is where we get off this ride," Sofia replied softly as she scrambled up the gate, which made a quiet, rusty protest. At this hour, it might as well have been a burglar alarm, so she quickly reached down for Anja's hand from the top. "Make it fast!"
Anja hesitated, gripping herself. She moaned a little, wrestling with something unseen. "Please don't make me do this!" she cried.
"Shut up," Sofia hissed down to her, "and grab my hand."
Anja wiped her nose and sniffed. "I wasn't talking to you." Then she grasped Sofia's hand and wrestled her way to the top of the gate.
Getting down the other side was as easy as dropping ungracefully to the cobblestones, and Sofia didn't take the time to register the dull pain of her unlimber calf muscles before hauling ass into a dark clearing, jerking Anja along behind her. She didn't stop until they entered the adjoining forest, and only then because it was so dark she couldn't see three inches in front of her. She turned to say something to Anja, noticed that the other girl was staring back at the Conservatory. "Hey. We're almost there. I checked these woods out from the bell tower this afternoon and there's a clearing real close by. Which leads to the road. Anja?"
The other girl was still turned away from her, shaking in the cold.
Sofia tugged experimentally on her sleeve. "Podemos nós sair, por favor?" She wasn't sure why she lapsed into the feeble Portuguese she'd learned around Bebel these last few weeks, but Anja flinched, spun around and slipped by her, plunging into the dark woods. "Hey! Hold up!" Reaching out to keep from running into trees and branches, Sofia tried to follow.
To her surprise, she found herself on a path with Anja barely visible a few meters off. In another moment they were in the clearing, and the moonlight swirling through the fog seemed like mid day after the dark little forest. Sofia tried to catch up to her comrade, who was running full tilt now and clutching her head. Sofia, wheezing from too many cigarettes, eventually began to narrow the gap. Anja seemed to be repeating broken phrases to herself as she ran, clearly deranged from the fear and adrenaline.
"Anja," Sofia gasped as she tried to grab the little girl's hood. "Hey stop!"
"Don't make me!" Anja was yelling. "I won't do it!"
"Goddamit!" Sofia breathed. "Stop! You're! Gonna stop! For me right! Now!" Sofia lunged forward and wrapped her arms around Anja, struggling to a halt. The other girl was close to hyperventilating. "Hey, kid," she tried to soothe. "Everything's cool. I think we huh!"
A sharp pain sparkled in her abdomen as Anja whirled around and stepped away. Sofia looked down to see a little rip in her coat and the pullover beneath it. Then she looked up to see a long thorn in Anja's hand. Her expression was anguished and her jaw worked wordlesslyshe seemed apologetic in the grips of her fit. But Sofia clearly had other things to worry about, because everything around her seemed to recede at a sickening speed as she sank to her knees in the damp grass.
Then the strangest sound reached her ears, like a long, slow organ tone. It took her a moment to realize that it was the bell in the tower at the Conservatory, and she was hallucinating; hearing it slowed down as she spilled to the ground. She rolled onto her back with the last muscle control she could muster as she realized that the bell was an alarm: "escaped initiates!"
She saw Anja standing over her, looking off into the distance with her head cocked to one side. Witless. Sofia finally realized that her only ally had been fighting silent commands this whole time. That she'd already been consumed by the school and would never escape with her. Neither would Sofia, for that matter: she'd just lie here in the frost waiting for someone like Bebel or Miss Zemanova to come and collect her. Presently, she realized that Anja was speaking to someone. To her, it seemed.
" didn't mean for this to happen. I'm so sorry and they're coming for me now. Have you ever seen the Headmistress? No one has. They were too strong for me and I'm so sorry." Her tone shifted and Sofia could tell she was answering her controller then. "Yes ma'am. I shouldn't have strayed from the road. The long road. I'll find my way back."
Anja curtsied and stepped over Sofia, who drifted into sleep.
In the dream she was naked, kneeling in a forest clearing, regarded by silent cats before a spinning goblet. But that was the dream, and although Sofia remembered little about what was happening to her, she knew she was awake. Awake and naked in a forest clearing, kneeling with her wrists bound behind her back. And the cats were actually other women, Sofia realized with a giddiness that came from a week of being plied with herbs and concoctions, in teas and salves and pills. She was so delirious from the drugs in her system that she failed to notice the harsh winter chill on her skin. She was also woozy from the loss of roughly one pint of blood, most of which spun in the goblet in the air before her, suspended by a single violin string.
Some of that blood darkened the lips of the women around her, who had sipped from the goblet before suspending it in front of Sofia and cruelly mesmerizing her with it. Now true colors were revealed, and it made perfect sense to see Bebel in black robes and with stained lips, chanting softly and forcing her to keep looking back to the goblet. Her roommate had been in charge of the strange proceedings of the last week, which took her out of the classroom and into frightening altars and basements. In these places she'd been bound, entranced, then pleasured. Repeatedly. She hadn't been alone since the night she tried to escape. She remembered very little now, as the swaying crystal and blood took her deeper and deeper into herself.
"Release yourself to us, young initiate," Bebel was imploring, very near her right ear. The other women continued to chant, now led by Miss Zemanova.
Sofia made an attempt to close her eyes, and succeeded only in blurring the bright moonlit sparkles of the crystal somewhat. "Why don't you take your witch-perv friends and piss off? Roomie."
Bebel laughed musically. Not at all witch-like. The chanting continued around them. "That's why you were chosen, Sofia. You've turned out to be strong. Not at all like your disappointing friends."
Hannah and Anja. "What did you do to them?" Sofia asked softly.
"We showed them so much, yet they resisted," Bebel said regretfully. "We have many secrets here. Secrets we've kept for a long time." She licked her lips near Sofia's ear, making her shudder. "Hannah didn't make the grade, so I'm afraid she's no longer with us. Anja will be rehabilitated."
"What about me?"
"On what?" Sofia slurred. "On how long you and your pals want to take turns drilling me with strap-ons?"
"It depends," Bebel said, her voice dipping, "on whether or not you submit to the Order. Which is why we're here. You're almost ready to meet the Headmistress." She rose from Sofia's side and took her place in the circle. "Concentrate on your lifeblood, initiate."
How heavy-handed, Sofia thought bleakly. My life, hanging by a thread. Or a string, as the case may be
Miss Zemanova and the other witches shifted the rhythm of their chanting, which immediately sucked at Sofia's will. As she faded, she realized that they had allowed her to surface from her trance momentarily to plead her case to Bebel. Her resistance had been handed to her to examine, then locked away again where she couldn't touch it.
The rhythm of the voices began to get to her then, coaxing her body into betraying her. She sat up straighter as she began to tighten, to moisten and to swell. Waves of sensation assaulted her as her body sang its anticipation of impending contact with other bodies. Dark, perfect bodies that would ravish her on the cold ground, in the moonlight. Sofia's head drooped forward, and her breath steamed over her bosom as the first hands began to touch her from all sides.
"It's time for you to meet someone."
A light streamed into the dark, smelly basement from a door at the top of the stairs. It made Sofia wince and shift in her bonds against the stone wall. Paint, in different degrees of dryness, irritated her skin. Just about every hole in her body except her skin pores ached from penetration. It had been a long week.
Someone was coming down the steps, but Sofia was too exhausted to focus her eyes. She'd become so accustomed to the constant assault that she longed for touch in its absence. The longing was like the dull ringing in her ears, or the pink and green splotches in her peripheral vision.
Bebel had filled her senses for most of the day, overwhelming her (not too difficult as of late) when she wasn't chanting to her. Sofia would've felt quite satisfied if she weren't tied up in a basement, covered in ritualistic paint made from God knew what. She knew that she could leave this room if she'd yield to them, but she wouldn't do that. She wished this unwanted visitor would leave her alone with her sweet-scented Mistress. Or was that roommate'?
A familiar voice answered the question that danced
drunkenly in Sofia's head. "Bebel is none of those
things to you, child. She's only here to show you the
"Who?" Sofia began, frowning. "Who " The woman in front of her was wearing a hooded cloak. That voice sounded awfully young to be calling her "child".
Then Bebel leaned in to kiss her, making her dizzy. "It's time to meet the Headmistress, initiate."
Sofia craned her neck forward to sustain the kiss, and moaned in complaint when Bebel stepped away. Then she gasped sharply when she saw that the other woman had pulled the hood away from her face.
"Lewellyn! You You crazy bitch!" Sofia marveled.
Her comely quartet leader smiled brightly at her. "Guilty as charged, Wednesday."
This was simply too outrageous for Sofia to bear. The smoke and mirrors from the last two weeks fell away. For a moment, they'd almost had her thinking she was being slowly consumed by a real coven of witches. But this was just silly. They had to be deluded weirdos playing out a sick fantasy, like her friend Dustin who thought he was a vampire. He'd even bought a coffin! "Lewellyn Come off it. Let me down."
Lewellyn was still smiling, but she was showing her teeth a little too much. "Poor little Goth girl. Dressing in black, but clinging to her tiny world to the last." Then she leaned in close, inhaling the scent of Sofia's painted, ravished body. "Let go, Sofia! It's time to surrender to me in the darkness you've only been able to dream about, 'til now!"
Uncertainty mixed with the trance and the drugs, making Sofia feel nauseous. "Get real," she said unconvincingly.
"Oh, I'm very real, my dear. And much older than you think. I founded this school long ago to strengthen my coven." Lewellyn reached out and began to stroke Sofia absently. "I like to stay connected to the world, and if I borrow enough energy from you children then I can masquerade as one of you, wandering the halls of this conservatory and looking for the most vibrant candidates. And I've had my eye on you since you auditioned for us last summer, you delicious, dark-haired thing." Her fingers were becoming bolder, kneading Sofia's flesh hungrily. "I made sure that Bebel would keep you on the path. And when she couldn't do that alone, I stepped in myself."
Sofia dizzily recalled quartet rehearsals. Playing music with this witch while she fed off her, flushed and pink. She swallowed. "Please let me go."
Lewellyn brushed her arms back and the cloak slid gracefully away from her impossibly lithe form. Naked except for the leather pants she always wore to rehearsals, she leaned in and nuzzled against Sofia, who forgot about the cold stone behind her and the ropes around her wrists as her muscles tightened and she saw stars. Lewellyn kissed her deeply. "Join me," she whispered into her mouth, and warm fog drifted into Sofia's mind.
Sofia jerked against the ropes in climax, wishing she could wrap her arms and legs around the jasmine-scented witch. At the same time she made one last try to break free. Then something broke inside her.
Licking her lips, she murmured, "I yield, Headmistress Lewellyn."
From The Chronicle, Sunday, February 18
If you were unable to attend last night's concert by the Nouskova Conservatory Women's Orchestra, then you missed a rare treat. It's not often that one hears such a young ensemble play with such precision and maturity. Moving easily from Prokofiev's Scythian Suite for Orchestra to Debussy's La Mer, the girls have assembled an impressive winter tour programme which effectively showcases their dexterity. Director Lewellyn Rosmerta (looking quite young to be a faculty member) seemed to hold the complete attention of the entire ensemble throughout the performance. In fact, the intensity with which the group followed its conductor was quite eerie.
Of particular interest to this reviewer was Sofia Eaton's performance during Penderecki's Quartet for Viola and Orchestra. The young soloist seemed to hold the audience in thrall while under the spell of the music herself. At the end of the piece, as she held the final, elegant high tone while the orchestra imitated her, she also seemed to ensnare the orchestra with her charms. Overall a very compelling performance and I'll watch Ms. Eaton's future with interest. There's a rumor floating around that she has already been offered tenure at the Nouskova Conservatory