General Disclaimers: While it features no ‘on-screen’ sexual activity or explicit adult situations, this hypnofetish story does contain examples of fictional characters doing illegal, immoral and/or impossible things to other fictional characters. If you are under the age of consent in your community, are disturbed by such concepts, or want hot wet thrusting sex in your on-line pornography, then for goshsakes stop reading now!
Permission granted to re-post for free to any electronic medium, as long as no one's being charged to view it, and this disclaimer and e-mail address (email@example.com) are not removed. It would also be nice if you told me you were posting it.
Copyright Voyer, 2001.
Specific Disclaimers: Set in the same universe at ‘Shades of Night Are Falling’, ‘Cut Off’, et al, and you should really read them first.
Dedicated to Tuxedo Mask
The car gave a sudden sputtering lurch, jerking Cina out of her fuming reverie. She forced herself to straighten up, shifting under the pull of the seat belt.
As if in answer to her silent question, the vehicle gave one more gasp and died completely. The radio died, Johnny Reardon’s DJ patter turning into a squawk then dying altogether. The car rolled to a stop by the curb and silence descended.
She tried cranking the engine several times. Kachunk kachunk kachunk. Nothing.
She sat for a moment, still holding the steering wheel in a tight but cool grip.
Of course. The freaking perfect ending to a freaking perfect day.
She unclipped the seat belt, got of the car and slammed the door behind her.
She was surrounded by warehouses, all silent and dark and motionless. In the slanted red light of the setting sun, she could just read the weathered sign on the side of the nearest:
PLYMPTON ART SUPPLIES
Cina didn’t bother popping the hood; beyond knowing in a pinch how to add oil, what went on under there was pretty much a mystery to her. Instead she fished out her cellphone and flipped it open.
Fzz. Like the car before it, the phone was dead.
Cina said a very rude word, out loud this time, and kicked the nearest tire. The car absorbed the punishment without comment, but the situation did not improve, and now the toe of her leather pump was scraped.
She turned and studied her options. She was out on the far eastern side of the city, a part of town she didn’t know very well. She was only out here at all because Chambers the Chump had sent her, claiming that he had gotten a line on a hot new client. Unsurprisingly, he had been completely wrong. There had been no client, no address, no nothing.
And now this. Her cursory survey showed her nothing but more warehouses, sprinkled here and there with a weed-covered empty lot. Blocks of them off in all directions, the streets all running straight and dead. A very occasional parked car, all appearing even more dead than her own. There was the distant sound of traffic, back to the west, back towards the center of the city and the harbor, but nothing else.
Finally she tossed a mental coin. She took her keys, locked the car, and began walking west, back into town, even with her sunglasses squinting against the sun as she searched for a pay phone, an sign saying OPEN, a helpful night watchman, anything. She forced her pace to remain steady and even; the fear was there, but it was just a thin thread in the background; after all, she couldn’t see anyone, not even a mugger...
The sun set fast, seeming to just zip down out of sight behind a growing scrim of clouds and then the surrounding buildings. It was nice to stop squinting, but before she quite realized it, it had gotten dark. She took off the glasses and stowed them in her purse.
Actually, it had gotten really dark. There was the diffuse glow from other more lively areas of the city, but here on this street the lights were few and slow in making an appearance. Her mind unwillingly filled the blackness with noises, furtive shufflings.
It’s a like a play. And they are changing the scenery.
Then belatedly the lights came on, more of them anyway.
She stopped. She wasn’t entirely sure why. Nothing had changed. The streets were still empty. A lone scrap of white paper curled at her feet, and she kicked at it with her damaged pump as she had kicked at the tire. It skittered out of the way.
She again turned in a full circle. The sounds of her soles scraping on the concrete were very loud.
For some reason, she suddenly thought of Buddy. Buddy Sedgwick, who had been lucky enough to be working just upstairs in Matheson’s department, until he had abruptly gone and gotten himself transfered out of town. Word was that his wife... what was her name? Tanya? Had been royally pissed. Cina had buttonholed Buddy at one point and asked why he’d done it. Buddy had mumbled something about... what was it?
It suddenly seemed important.
Rumors and shadows. Yes. Something like that.
The fear pulsed a little brighter. She had heard the stories of course. Who hadn’t? But for the most part she had poo-pooed them without a second thought. Keep your metaphorical head down, keep your equally-metaphorical mouth shut, and generally you get along just fine in life.
She shook it off and started walking again. Maybe just a bit faster than before. The scrap of paper danced down the street in front of her.
The wind died. The paper fell to earth.
She stumbled to an abrupt stop, almost fell herself, her ankle rolling over and giving off a sharp creak of pain, just short of actual damage.
Righting herself, she stared at the building nearest to her.
It was familiar.
PLYMPTON ART SUPPLIES
The same sign, just visible in the glow of one of the lights. The same building.
She had been walking around in circles.
That’s not possible. I was walking in a straight line.
In the dark.
It’s a play not my play and the scenery got moved in the dark.
The fear turned to worms, chewing nastily at her stomach.
The car. Get back in the car. Just get in and stay there until morning.
She turned around and around. Her car was gone.
Except for the scrap of paper, bone-white and dancing mockingly against the breeze, there was only the empty street, stretching away into darkness.
But no, it wasn’t empty. There was something moving down there now, moving in far too stealthy and furtive a fashion, moving in her direction...
Cina spun in the opposite direction and ran. Even as she did so, she gasped in relief. Out there, in the other direction, there were lights, several of them, and very non-furtive movement. She sprinted towards it all, long legs pumping, coat flapping in the self-created breeze, past the last row of buildings, past the last vacant lot, and finally drawing up at the edge of...
The edge of...
It was a cemetery.
It had been a cemetery. Now it was an overrun wilderness, filled with toppled stones, brambles, and dead trees.
Why were there lights, people, in the middle of the night in a cemetery?
She glanced at her watch with glassy eyes. The hours were madly spinning by, even as the minutes moved like molasses...
The watch died, the black quartz bars of the numbers turning to empty gray.
She turned, trying not to turn, rolling her eyes, a cow being herded into the chute at the slaughterhouse.
The person who had spoken...
No. She had somehow already zoomed beyond screams and terror, and it was with only a cool icy chill, worms of ice now, that she realized it wasn’t a person at all.
Shadows. Shadows and rumors.
It stood in the deeper shadows beside one of the larger trees, amidst the remains of the cemetery’s shattered iron fence. It was dead. It was upright, it was moving, but it was still very dead. Stretched and white and glimmering with decay. When it had been alive, it might have been a woman or maybe a slender man, but now... In one curled and filthy claw it floated something, a sphere, a sphere that glowed and squirmed down inside without moving... Seeing it now had her undivided attention, it went on.
“Hey, beautiful. Would you like to have a little fun?”
Her legs took a single step backwards, then locked in place. Her lips moved all by themselves, as her eyelids were clinically peeled back and her gaze was dragged down twisting slimy passages, dragged down into the sphere. No sound came with that movement for a moment, then...
“Yess. I would - very much - like to have - a little fun.”
The thing grinned wider, drifted closer, almost crooning. The rags it was wrapped in floated like scraps of discarded paper.
“Come with me, beautiful. What fun we shall have. What games we shall all play. Forever and ever.”
Her purse slipped from her numb hand and it took forever to splat against the ground.
“Until the end of all things.” Who said that? She? It? Both in chorus?
There were worms. More worms. That was what was inside the sphere, at the bottom of the passageways, fat and ravenous and so very very white.
The worms reached out and burrowed in. In and down, without ever touching skin, without cracking bone. Hooks. Entwining. Pulling.
Her legs unlocked. Her body lurched forward and followed the worms and the thing that carried them, was dragged flopping and squriming through the gaps in the fence, into the cemetery, the brambles parting for them, slithering closed behind. Overhead and underfoot, the clouds gathered in. Glowing.
Paths, winding along, bone-white gravel, well-tended between towering banks of weeds, low crumbling walls, the upper half of an occasional larger tombstone poking into sight on either side. Finally, an eternity later, the last path curled to an end, and there was a stone crypt slouching under another grove of the trees, its heavy iron gate long broken and swinging open on a last buckled hinge. Gargoyles that had begun life as angels leered from the corners. There was a name carved over the gate, but it had long vanished beneath clots of moss and weathering, leaving only a ghost behind. Around the crypt were more of the dead things, pale and floating, the rags of their garments dancing slowly in the breeze, as if they were all under water, drowned deep. Some floated their worm-spheres in their hands, like the first, while others had them dangling from the ends of long silvery poles, even more overtly resembling giant obscene fishing lures. Except for the one who had snared her, they ignored her, passing silently back and forth beneath the grasping dead branches.
And then last of all there the door, the door to the crypt with its beaten gate.
No. Not a door, not really, but a rectangular hole sliding down into deeper darkness, gaping. They stopped there, she and her captor, her sibling in glowing torment. The worms twisted in the folds in her brain, both nervous and eager. Time passed. The hole stayed empty, then there was movement, light, sound. Something was laughing now inside her head, making the worms vibrate in ecstasy and terror, driving them deeper. She slipped off her coat, let it fall crumpled to the ground. Sometime, long ago, in another life, she had picked out a sleeveless blouse to wear and the air was flat and dead against the bare skin of her arms.
And then there was one last figure, even taller and thinner than all of the others, and it ducked its way slowly out of the hole, a single gnarled piece at a time, before assembling itself in the light. It was grinning, its face, what was left of its face, split clean in two, and the orb it held, hovering over both hands, it was huge and throbbing, and something was budding off that mottle of corruption, a mass of nothing but worms, growing bigger and bigger, and the nameless dying woman toed off her shoes and her body was walking again, wading up to the thing through the mist, steady and unblinking andher hands were reaching out to take it take the last bit of tasty bait and swallow it lodge it deep in her throat and she couldn’t stop herself and the worms gleefully burrowed even deeper and fouled themselves in among her thoughts and
there was something wrong something different a new noteshe couldn’t want to stop herself and
gliding closer and posing itselfshe touched
There was a very long and very startled pause. Silence. Cina’s reaching hands froze, then slowly curled down into claws like all the rest. The globes dimmed and flickered in near-unison, then flared back to full brightness, maybe even brighter than before, probing, searching...
Because this had been a new voice, not one of their voices, but shockingly human and normal and alive.
They all turned, just their heads. The worms were wrapped tight now around Cina’s thoughts, a thick and smothering blanket, and she could only move a little, just rolling her eyes, the worms all stretching like thick strands of half-hardened taffy. She didn’t want to look. She didn’t want to do anything but take that sphere, her sphere, and feel everything else drain sweetly away, hope pain fear color life...
But nevertheless, she looked.
And where she looked, there was a man standing, standing on another of the countless low stone fences with his legs spread wide and his black cloak billowing dramatically in the night breeze that had sprung up. He was tall and slender and handsome.
That’s odd. He looks familiar.
The thought came and went, quite clear, a spider skittering nimbly across the icy surface of her awareness. Then Cina just looked at the newcomer, she couldn’t seem to stop looking at him, couldn’t even seem to blink and there was suddenly a song blossoming in her head, a new song, trilling, sweet and silver, but again alive, gloriously alive, drowning out the laughter. The notes followed the spider out across the surface of her brain, a soothing swirl a net a shield dripping into place like cleanly melting snow, scraping off and ripping out and ruthlessly burning away the worms and their filth without effort, and then they plunged deeper, hard and pure, quicksilver streamers and fingers, long, lacing together, and there was a switch, a switch the worms hadn’t quite reached, she felt those fingers close carelessly around the switch that was suddenly at the center of her brain, close and push hard andFLIP with a nearly audible click and lock it firmly in place, chopping off the last stubborn remnant of the worms like a razor-sharp machete lopping off a mass of vines.
She twitched all over and the world snapped back into focus. Everything became clear. She laughed and she cried and she screamed with rage, curling her hands even closer to her chest.
The music grew louder, more complex, and her mind picked up the tune, stepped into the dance, a dance around and around the forever-fried switch in her brain, cannibals in evening gowns circling around the communal stew-pot, brandishing their gold-chased spears.
The man standing on the fence had come here to save her, rescue her, cut the line that had hooked her and then pull her back into the clean and sunlit water. She knew this, the fact glowed in her mind between the endless rippling bars of the song, in between the steps of her dance. It didn’t matter what he wanted from her, whether he was saint or sinner, god or devil. He had come for her, chosen her, and she would follow him now, dance after him, dance his tune to the ends of the earth and beyond.
Until the end of all things.
All of this in an instant.
Seeing he had the group’s undivided attention, the man spoke again, bright and cheerful, but with maybe just a twinge of nervousness.
“Hi there.” He made a small wave with his free hand. “I was just sort of in the neighborhood, you see. Just passing by, and I couldn’t help but notice what you were about to do to Miss Chandler there.” A rueful pause. “And... I suppose this is horribly clichéd and all... but I’m afraid that I simply can’t allow it.”
There was a grinning thing lurking the doorway to the crypt but it was no longer grinning, however wide it still stretched its mouth... It was the one who replied, its voice worm-chewed icicles and biting stinking wind. Bits of lightning jumped from its sphere, blowing sparks, touching the gate, melting the angels further out of shape.
“You. We remember you from the times before. You are still a child, weak and foolish, prancing down through the ages while your betters deal with the matters of true importance. Both you, and that posturing buffoon that you have mounted. This one-” A stabbing gesture at Cina... “she is ours. She has been chosen, and she has responded to her summons. Depart this place and you will be spared. Leave us to our exultation and our pain.”
Cina’s Savior sighed, cheerful but slightly admonishing.
“Foolish? Now that all depends on your point of view, doesn’t it? As for weak... You’d be surprised. We’ve both learned a few surprising things about ourselves lately. Would you care to see a sample?”
“Begone, harlequin!” The globes grew brighter and their carriers were moving, closing in on him, surround him, claw him down into the dirt and Cina felt the first tremors of panic, her breaths coming short and sharp.
He was holding something in his hand. No, it had always been there, it fit there,
wonderfully balanced, not warped and pulling like the spheres. A flute or something like a
flute, large and silver and glowing with a... no, even now, from deep inside the whirl of the
song, she would have to admit that it was not exactly a wholesome light. But compared
to the orbs, it was the morning sun shining down on a warm spring meadow full of pretty
wildflowers and butterflies. Just as the filth-streaked hands and the worms reached
him, reached out to him, a forest of them, he sucked breath,
The trees trembled and groaned all the way down to their roots, cracking limbs. The angels wept blood. The grass sprang back to life and curled and thrashed violently in no wind. The clouds whirled past, all the clouds, whipped to fleeing tatters. Cina screamed and there was agony and happiness and she uselessly covered her ears.
Like giving birth birth inside your brain
The others screamed as well, screamed in unison, high and thin and piercing. Agony and not a trace of happiness. (Or was there some happiness, somewhere, at the very bottom of it all?) Worms shriveled, poles snapped into splinters, shapes wavered and began to fall apart, swirling away down into the mist. Some of the globes, not all of them, but some of them, detonated and sprayed green ichor across everything, across the crypt, across Cina, rotten pumpkins hurled off a tenth story balcony.
The main figure, the figure in the door, it did not react with pain, but with rage, pure and undiluted, its mouth howling open (wider?!) and the white fog of contagion spewing out, more streamers on the wind, more dancing bits of paper, more worms with mouths full of slavering fangs. Its orb... it...
And still her Savior blew, altering the note, rising, more piercing than before. More explosions. The switch quivered in her head, and Cina screamed again, this time inverting the thing’s rage. The Savior’s music jerked her hands up and then smashed them down into the coruscating orb the thing held, her fingernails shaped into ten long daggers. (Was there just the tiniest moment of hesitation, of useless diseased longing?)
No. No hesitation. There was only a thin outer shell, a membrane, and the orb ruptured with nearly-human shriek, and the contents spewed out and it burned icy cold and she screamed louder, rage and triumph and despair and
She slowly lifted her head and brought her eyes back into focus. She was on her knees in a graveyard in the middle of the night. Barefoot. Shivering. The clouds were scattering overhead, and the moon peeped down, full and bright. It was chilly.
Her hands were not burned, but were still black, covered with something sticky and vile.
And standing nearby...
The music swelled back to life, gained even more momentum, a full orchestra now. She rose on wobbly legs and went dancing to her Savior, her eyes wide and shining. He smiled down at her.
“Are you all right, Miss Chandler?”
She touched him for a moment across the cheek, touching him to make sure he was real. Her fingers left a large black smudge. How had her hands gotten so horribly dirty?
He was real, and her mouth smiled wider.
Then she couldn’t stop herself. She lunged up and kissed him, pressing herself against him, her whole body, rutting against him. He let her do this, held her for a long moment, responded, then finally broke their lips and their bodies apart. She couldn’t quite stifle a whimper, couldn’t stop touching him with her fingertips. Apart from the first mark she had left on his face, none of the slime on her had transferred over.
“‘Savior?’ I see we’re going to need to talk some more.” He sighed. “But not right now.” He glanced at the empty doorway behind them, then produced a purse from somewhere and handed it to her. She recognized it, blinked in surprise and took it with both hands, stared back up at him. “I’m afraid I’ve made them rather angry, and they are going to come back once they... ah... pull themselves together. All of them will be here, I imagine. So let’s be off, shall we?”
They set off together through the rows of toppled graves, the tangles of overgrown grass wrapping around her bare feet before reluctantly parting before them. Then there were lights behind them, glowing blue-white and dead, streaming out of the hole in the crypt.
They were getting closer, and they were much bigger than before. The rage howled off of them, and the clouds were coming back, spiraling in around their ankles and over their heads.
He abruptly stopped and spoke to someone else, not her. Cina stumbled to a halt as well, clinging to him.
“Well, Sparky? What do you think? We up to this?”
Silence, except for the rapidly approaching swarm.
No. There was music... somewhere...
Lyrics...assurance confidence lets rock this town
“OK then.” He laughed out loud and shot a glance at Cina. “Run, Miss Chandler. Caledonia’s right over there in the car. Get to her, and you’ll be fine.”
“I must stay with-”
“Run.” He blew a short sharp note without lifting the flute to his lips, and she was running, running, almost flying, her skirt billowing, her feet barely brushing down here and there.
Behind her, she heard them come screaming up, the air thick and greasy with power, the grass crisping black even at this range. The lightning strobed and flashed.
He smiled. She felt that smile burning silver in the night, and in its own way it was a movement and a shape as bad as the hole on the face of the thing the doorway of the crypt.
And then she heard his voice, the real music started...
“Take me to your leader.”
She ran harder.
Cina came stumbling out of the undergrowth onto a narrow gravel path colliding with a surprised woof against the warm sloping hood of the car which sat there waiting for her. A row of headlights burned at smoldering pinpoints. The vehicle behind those lights was long, silver and sporty except where Cina had just left a smear on the hood, a convertible crouched with silent power. Cina pulled herself erect, again retrieved her dropped purse out of the (quite ordinary gray) gravel and yanked the passenger door open. The woman on the far side of the car behind the wheel studied her without any outward sign of surprise. Cina fell inside, slammed the door, scrabbled around for the lock and jammed it home before facing the driver and asking a question to which she already knew the answer.
“Are you Caledonia?”
“Yup.” The woman was a brunette like Cina, the ruthlessly tight bun of hair a few shades lighter, the body shorter by at least four inches but sturdy-looking. She wore a rather unflattering pantsuit and an even worse pair of thick black glasses. The garments and the hairdo combined to do a good but not quite perfect job of concealing the fact that their owner was actually attractive, maybe just teetering on the verge of being beautiful. Cina went on, the words tumbling out of her now.
“He sent me to meet you. My.. the Savior sent me here to meet you. At the car. He said to... They were... they...” She bit at a knuckle as she trailed off and darted a look out the tinted window, expecting to see something standing there, several somethings, grinning, the worms reaching out for both of them now...
Nothing there. Darkness. Silence. Lights and music strobing madly just out of sight and hearing.
“They were annoyed, I imagine.” Sardonic.
“Annoyed?” With a great effort Cina redirected her attention and stared. “Annoyed!? They’re going to kill him! We have to.. to...” She waved a helpless hand. “Do you have a phone? Call the police... or... a priest... or... something...”
“A priest? We’ve all had quite enough of priests, thank you. We, you and I, not going to do anything, except go home. As for... what did you just call him? Our blessed Savior... There’s nothing to worry about. It’s going to take a lot more than a few pasty-faced horror-movie rejects to kill him. Trust me on this.” Caledonia's features became rather sour as she finished this little speech.
“I don’t understand.”
Take me to your leader.
“He’s a lot more dangerous and capable than he appears. Sort of by design. But I imagine that you’ll learn that for yourself soon enough. For now, let me just say... welcome to the club.” She hesitated then offered a strong-looking hand wrapped in a glove, and Cina shook it despite herself. “I’m Caledonia Jones. You might as well think of me as Roger’s executive assistant.” The grip confirmed the strength. As with the car, this contact transferred quite a bit of grave-dirt. Caledonia flashed an expression of annoyance, rubbed the glove’s fingers together.
“Roger?” Cina savored the name. “My name is Cina Chandler. I work... I worked for Yellowking Consulting. Do you... Did... did the... Roger save you as well?”
Caledonia shook her head.
“Nope. Not like you. But they, he and Sparky, did do their little song and dance number. Down inside my brain.” Caledonia didn’t smile, but for the first time, for a moment, her expression, her blue eyes, went both soft and a little glassy. Then she was all hard professionalism again, sharp edges everywhere, especially in her eyes, and she zapped the car to life with a brisk turn of a key. The engine purred.
“You... don’t seem very happy about it.” Cina asked the question as she fastened her seat belt, the movements automatic. She again glanced off into the darkness. Suddenly, it all seemed quite prosaic. There was nothing there, not here, not in the distance. The moon was again visible overhead, poking through the tired tree-branches.
“Oh, I’m happy. I’m as happy as you, as happy as can be. But that’s the thing about music. No song ever effects two different people in exactly the same way.”
For the last time Cina looked back, just as they left the cemetery and emerged back out onto the street. There seemed to be several more lights than before, and a large Baumco delivery truck trundled slowly past, farting exhaust. Cina faced forward and set her shoulders. Except for her Savior’s song, she was feeling almost normal again.
“You’re wrong. Their music” A thumb over her shoulder “effects everyone the same way. Exactly the same way.”
“Hmm. Really? I think I’ll just take your word for that.”
They drove on. Cina’s small brown car was parked right where she had left it, under a streetlight, and they pulled to a stop next to it. A panther coming to rest beside a mouse.
“It wouldn’t start. We’ll have to-”
“Try it again.”
Cina considered arguing, then shrugged and got out. The pavement was cold under her feet. She remembered to snap off the radio, and the engine chugged to life on the first try.
She checked her watch. 3:42 AM. The little black dots between the numbers blinked. She rolled down her window and studied the other woman, through the holes left by the windows.
“So what happens now?”
“Now? You go here.” Caledonia extended a gloved hand, holding a business card. Cina’s arm bridged the gap between them, took the card. She absorbed the information. An apartment address here in the city. Somewhere in Hayestown, at a quick guess. Caledonia went on. “I think you’ll know what to do when you arrive. If you don’t... wing it. Prove you’re worthy of your savior.”
“And where are you going?”
“Got to make a pickup.” Caledonia pushed a button and her window slid up, shutting off the view of her behind the oily sheen of the tinting. The silver car rolled away. There was a small white sticker neatly squared on the rear bumper, but the black printing was backwards in the rearview mirror, and Cina couldn't quite make out what it said.
Cina fingered the card, smudging it. Then she remembered that she had a pair of sneakers somewhere in the back seat. She dug them out, laced them onto her grubby scratched feet, then sat for a long moment, now holding the steering wheel. An occasional car droned past, and off in the distance there was another radio playing, classic rock from the sound of it.
You know, I don’t think I like that woman. I don’t like her one little bit.
She cranked the window back up, cutting off the music. She felt better. Then there was a sudden urge. She turned the car-radio back on. Johnny’s shift was over, and now Bobby Briggs was spinning the latest platters, or the latest CDs or whatever it was they spun anymore. She listened, and music twisted painfully inside her head. She turned the tuner knob, spinning at random until... She had stopped. She studied the blue-green readout. 88.3 FM. It must be KMCN, the artsy-fartsy channel from the U. She didn’t know enough about classical music to name the composer. She listened for a minute, listened to that music intertwine with the tune already playing endlessly inside her head.
Not artsy-fartsy at all. So very very beautiful.
Her mouth formed itself into a smile. Not quite as bad as all the other smiles she’d seen tonight, but she would work very hard on it. She would learn the proper tune. And if she learned well enough....
She drove off towards Hayestown.
To be continued?
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