General Disclaimers: While it features no ‘on-screen’ sexual activity or explicit adult situations, this hypnofetish story does contain examples of adult fictional characters doing illegal, immoral and/or impossible things to other adult 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, 2002.
Dedicated to all the guys (and gals) in White Hats.
“Don’t just stand there. Get moving, you little twit.”
“Yes, Ms Crenshaw.”
Her body was already turning as her mouth formed the reply, and was hurrying itself from the kitchen. Her hand slapped open the proper half of the swinging doors with the flat of its palm, the other hand automatically holding the tray level.
A small frown creased her features as she did all of these things.
Her body hurried on down the hallway, even as her thoughts lagged, then tripped and crumbled into a collapsed heap, strongly resembling the wreckage of a car that had hit a wall at about a hundred kilometers an hour.
Where was she?
What on earth was happening to her?
She was walking briskly down a hallway, her heels clicking loudly on the polished floor tiles. To either side, the walls were covered with silky gold paper, shot through with silvery threads, very expensive-looking. There were large potted plants spaced at regular intervals, and oil paintings set in swirling wood and gold frames. An occasional unmarked wooden door led left or right off the main passage, but her silk-clad legs carried her past all of them without pause. In her ears there were noises, and she categorized them. Rattles and clangs from the kitchen she had just left. A large group of people talking to itself. A thread of music.
As for herself... In one hand...
She flashed a quick glance out of the corner of the nearest eye. Carefully balanced, yes, a large black tray. Arranged on the tray were numerous stemmed glasses, tall, slender, elegant, each filled to the same level with a dose of a pale golden liquid. Bubbles rose in their depths.
Champagne? There was the impulse to take one of them and sample the contents, but she easily stifled it.
There was one glass that was out of place, a bit smaller than the others, equally bubbly, but clear in color.
Then there was a figure coming up the hallway towards her, and her attention was distracted. It was a tall woman with chocolate-brown skin, wearing a maid’s uniform, her mass of long kinky hair pulled back into a sort of loose bun under her cap.
No. Not a maid. A knee-length black dress, yes, a sort of apron, yes, but still not quite right.
She was carrying a tray, just like...
The first woman again creased her brow as she realized she couldn’t remember her own name. She exchanged wordless smiles with the black woman as they passed each other, but it was only an automatic movement of mouth muscles. Her mind continued to churn, recovering itself, methodically reforming shapes and patterns.
OK. Don’t panic.
But that was a totally useless self-admonition. She wasn’t panicking. She was puzzled, yes, but she was also completely calm and collected. Her mind came back together, and it whirred and buzzed on well-polished gears.
List the facts. I’m...
A glance down her own clothes. Her own breasts were fairly large, and had been pushed up to display her cleavage to good effect. This cut off some of her view, but from what she could see, her garments appeared to exact match those of the black woman.
...I’m some kind of waitress. Along with... oh, call her Jazmine. That’s not her name, but it’ll do. Jazmine and I... I was the first woman, so call myself Eve... we work for an older woman that my mouth I called Ms Crenshaw, and are waitresses at...
Eve’s body followed its predetermined course. Dropping down a couple of wide and shallow steps. Turning a corner. Passing through an open archway. (A bulky hard-eyed man in a tuxedo lounged to one side of the opening, but he made no overt acknowledgment of her existence.)
Emerging out into a very large room.
She took in everything in a glance.
The new chamber was roughly rectangular, with a slight curve to the whole thing, indicating perhaps that the structure as a whole was circular or oval-shaped. The walls (more of the same paper) rose to a high arched ceiling; ‘her’ archway had been in one of the short sides. The long wall that bulged out slightly was to her right and was made up entirely of an enormous bank of sloped windows, beyond which sprawled a wide vista. The cluster of glowing towers that was a modern metropolis at night; judging from the angle of the view, she was fairly high up herself. Towards its center, the room featured a couple of staggered mini-levels, with a sort of balcony at one point on the top-most level overlooking the main floor. A square banner with some sort of symbol or logo hung there from the railing, and a set of microphones waited for someone to give a speech. Around the rest of the room, mirrors and tiled floors and plants. In one corner on a large cloth-covered table in the midst of a lavish floral display there towered an elaborate ice sculpture, a block that been carved in the shape of some sort of bird. The same basic figure that was depicted, she realized, on the banner.
Eve studied the spread of the wings, the long graceful shape of the head.
A phoenix. Definitely a phoenix.
Odd. Have I seen a real one somewhere? When I think of phoenixes, the word ‘mythical’ springs to mind...
In another corner was the source of the music she had heard: a seated black-clad ensemble of woodwinds and strings, performing competently but not spectacularly. (Which, Eve suspected, was probably exactly what they had been instructed to do...) There was also an enormous grand piano in that general area, and it was set up to be used, but it was currently unmanned.
There were lamps scattered around here and there, particularly in the various corners, but overhead hung an enormous crystal and gold chandelier. This was spectacular, overly so, giving the room most of its light. The thing that held it attached to the ceiling could probably have doubled as the anchor chain for a super-tanker. Directly under this monstrosity was a stone fountain which shot genteel bursts of water into the air from a multitude of polished brass nozzles; the upper levels of the room wrapped themselves around this display in an arc which followed that of the room, with the speaker’s balcony at the near end. There appeared to be golden fish swimming in the shallow pool that surrounded the fountain, but she couldn’t be sure from this distance. Seeing this, she felt for the first time the sharp poke of a distinct feeling. As strong as it was, it was something that she couldn’t quite pin down. Nostalgia? Homesickness?
How can I be homesick when I don’t even know where home is?
She shrugged off the thought. She was discovering that her vision was exceptional, but even so, beyond the fountain it was even harder to make out any details. There appeared to be various signs or placards on display on tall wooden tripods (one of them was definitely featured some sort of pie chart) and the very end of it all, another archway leading to...
Eve turned her attention to the room’s inhabitants. People, lots of people, a good range of ethnicity and ages. (No children, though, and very few younger than twenty...) More men in black tuxedos, the vast majority of them far more flabby and pampered-looking than the first man back at the archway. Women in gloves and flowing dresses that rippled their way across the entire spectrum of color and back again. They were all standing in groups chatting, or dancing sedately to the music in a space set aside for that activity. Additionally, more women dressed like Eve and Jazmine circulated through the the body of the crowd like blood cells, carrying not oxygen on their trays but instead selections of drinks or canapés artfully arranged.
Not a restaurant. A party of some sort. A grand soirée, and I’m a minion in the catering staff.
She realized her eyes were looking for someone in particular, as the rest of her body threaded its graceful way through the crowd, always holding her tray perfectly level. (She must have been doing this for a while; she didn’t even have to think about it...) Occasionally someone intercepted her and took one of the amber glasses, or dropped an empty one in one of the resulting holes. Finally, near one of the sets of steps that led up to the next level...
It was like a card dropping into place in an automatic filing system, an almost tangible click.
Am I going to do something to him?
An older man wearing glasses with heavy black frames, the remaining fringe of his hair nearly pure white. He was talking closely to a slender blonde woman in a red strapless dress. She also wore glasses, and could have been beautiful if...
Eve couldn’t quite put her finger on what was missing from the woman.
She approached them, speculating about what her mouth would say this time. The older man broke off his conversation as she approached.
“Excuse me, sir? Here is the mineral water which you requested.”
“Ah. Thank you.” He took the glass, an absent gesture. Eve offered a glass to the woman, but was refused with a small tentative gesture. She turned, heading back towards the other party-goers. As she did, she noted one of the mirrors mounted on the wall nearby. She only caught a glimpse of her reflection, but she filed away the image and then studied it at leisure as she joined her fellow servers in working the general room with her remaining drinks.
The reflection had been of a woman. Not tall, but a nice figure that was actually flattered by the waitress outfit. A little pale; should get more sun. Straight glossy-black hair arranged in a sort of pixie cut (and adorned with the same sort of cap as Jazmine.) Oval-shaped face. Thoughtful brown eyes, ever-so-slightly slanted in an Asian cast. Wide nose, wider lips. A little too wide, but made to smile and to laugh.
Eve wondered if she ever did either of those things, did them and really meant them.
As she moved about, she picked up details that she hadn’t noticed before, adding them to the list. More guards were scattered here and there, lurking at the edges of the room, and functional black security cameras were discretely mounted in the corners.
So is all of that for the party as a whole, or one particular person?
She became aware that she was being watched, watched with more than idle interest.
“Say... Excuse me, miss?”
She pivoted to face the speaker/watcher. A new man. He was going on forty, blonde unruly hair, tall, less flabby than many of the others. He stood alone.
“May I offer you some refreshment, sir?” She extended the tray again and raised her eyebrows in the right sort of way as she looked up at him.
He squinted at her for a moment before replying.
“I’m sorry... no. No thank you.. It’s just... have we met somewhere?”
She examined him more carefully. Handsome enough, although his face was a little weather-beaten. Long arms, his posture gangly, although his tuxedo did an excellent job of concealing these facts. No wedding ring, and his shoes needed a better polishing job.
No cards clicked into place, so...
“I don’t believe so, sir.”
“You seem awfully familiar. You didn’t... go to Caldicott Academy? Over on the Eastside.”
“Or Western State? That’s where I got my degree.”
“No, I’m sorry, sir.”
“Oh. Well. Sorry to have bothered you... Miss..”
“Knight. Eve Knight.” That was most definitely a lie, but it was what came to her lips.
“Jerry Vance.” He offered his hand, and she scrutinized it for a brief moment for... something... before she shook it, being careful not to squeeze too tightly.
I could break every bone in his hand if I wanted to.
That was an interesting bit of data.
Maybe I’m some kind of robot.
No. Somehow, she knew that wasn’t true.
Or I’ve just been programmed to think it’s not true.
What would be the point of that? Just program me to not think about it.
Wheels within wheels within wheels.
“Well, I’m sorry to have interrupted your work, Miss Knight. But I still think we’ve met somewhere before.”
“It’s possible, Mr. Vance. I get around. But I’m afraid I don’t recall.” She moved her lips into the smile position again. “But as you say... I really should get back to work.” She again extended her tray in his direction.“Are you sure you wouldn’t like a drink? It comes highly recommended.”
“Um... sure. Thanks.”
She turned away and continued on her path, listening now to the snips of the various conversations as she passed by. Mr. Vance was still watching her, holding his glass untasted.
“...so I told him, I’m not just going to stand idly by while twenty three of those things are...”
“...oh, you simply must go there and try some of his bouillabaisse. André is such a...”
“...think with Hornachuck’s ankle finally healed up, they may go all the way this season...”
“...You’re yanking my chain. Even the director can’t be that... rash. I guess we’ll...”
“...It will be a massacre.”
An intangible finger slid all the way down Eve’s spine. She glanced at the speaker of the last, who turned out to be a cadaverously thin man of East Indian descent, almost gloom personified. He set off no further alarms, so she passed on. But still...
It’ll be a massacre.
It’s always a massacre.
What did that thought mean? Was she starting to remember why she was here?
There was a sudden smell in the air, just a whiff of...
Her palm itched.
She finished dispensing those drinks that she still had, and made her way back down the hall to the kitchen. She passed another server en route, this one a skinny figure with flaming red hair who was even taller than Jazmine. They swapped the same smiles back and forth, and Eve absently labeled her Bridget.
Although she doesn’t really deserve it.
Deserve it? Is that good or bad?
Ms Crenshaw was waiting there at the center of the hustle and the bustle, sort of a human version of the ice sculpture, plus a severe black dress, minus the soaring grace. She spoke to Eve again and pointed with a sharp finger.
“They’re getting ready to give the presentation. Just take that last tray.”
“Yes, Ms. Crenshaw.”
Eve dropped off her spent tray and picked up the indicated one for the return trip.
She said and did all of this even more automatically than before, because she was still thinking about herself, casting her mind back, methodically searching for memories.
To her vague surprise, her search was somewhat successful. No names or dates, just pictures. A large sunny house in the country, on the edge of a small lake. Drifting about in small boats on that lake, among flocks of fat complaining ducks. Servents and caretakers. A mother, rather short and plump, who expertly played an instrument like the piano out in the party room, but not quite like it. A father, a remote figure, tall and gray-haired, who made the long trip into Town every day to work. Two older brothers, an annoying younger sister who carried a stuffed rabbit toy everywhere she went.
Attending school. Definitely not the Caldicott Academy, over on the Eastside. Learning to read and write and meticulously add up long rows of sums.
And play music. I could play that piano, if I wanted to.
The memories became fewer, more jumbled. The last clear one was... some sort of graduation ceremony, out on the wide green lawn in front of the school. (The school? A school, in any event...) A bright sunny day, not a cloud in the sky. There were white birds flying overhead, though, long slender wings gracefully circling. Her father had even found time to be there...
No, there was one last image, very sharp.
Eve bit at her lip.
A single candle. Thin and tall and as white as the graduation birds. It had been lit, and the smoke rose from the tapered flame, made its leisurely way towards the far-off ceiling, coiling twisting
around her thoughts
She snapped her mind back to the present.
So someone did something to her after she finished at the second school? It seemed likely. Took her, erased her memory, showed her the..
No no. Don’t think about that. Not now.
Because now she had been sent here.
There’s always a massacre.
I’m going to kill someone out there. I’m not a robot in the literal sense, but I’m still.. programmable.
The truth of this came, hard and cold. There were no memories, but a file opened in her mind, and movements, techniques, they came to her muscles, just like balancing the tray.
Spin jump kick strike kill...
Was there anything she could do about this?
Was there anything she wanted to do about it?
She cocked an eyebrow.
No. Evidently somehow her programming had slipped enough to allow her to wonder, but not nearly enough to resist. She was still going to do exactly what she had been sent here to do.
Sent? Maybe it was Ms. Crenshaw who...
No. Definitely not.
Her mind zipped back to the question at hand. Who was the target? She hoped that it wouldn’t turn out that Mr. Vance, since he seemed like a nice person.
And he’s right after all. We’ve met somewhere before...
Maybe he was the one who had programmed her, and he was testing her.
Again, no. The controller was not here. But Mr. Vance... She still found the thought faintly... exciting.
She went on out into the main room again.
The smell was stronger now, and it hit Eve the moment she stepped forth, a vile tinge that scrabbled around at the back of her nostrils. She repressed a snarl as she covertly scanned the crowd. (She had meant to look for Mr. Vance again, but the thought slipped away in an instant.) No one else seemed to be noticing the stench or at least commenting on it. Also, none of them seemed to be the source of it. Nevertheless...
It’s coming. That’s the real reason I’m remembering; I can’t do this on auto-pilot...
Other things begin to change as well as she made one last pass through the throng, this time getting only one or two takers on her offerings. Mostly these changes rather mundane. The musicians stopped playing and began stowing away their instruments, at least for the moment. The dancers became standers. A small group of official-looking individuals slowly gathered up on the balcony. One of them tapped at the microphones, then spoke, his reedy voice amplified by many well-placed speakers.
“Hello, everyone? If we could have everyone gather round, please? We’re almost ready to get started here.”
The crowd began to do as instructed, dribbling in from the far side of the fountain. Eve did a gentle backwards fade to the rear of the room, keeping her eye on the speakers’ platform. The other servers were all leaving the room, heading back towards the kitchen, but she didn’t follow them; she came at last to the table that the ice sculpture was sitting on. A single corner of the table surface was free, and she put the tray down on it.
Other things were changing.
Her palm itched again.
The lights overhead were... jumping. Not flickering, exactly, but acting as if they were on film, a piece of film with a frame missing every few feet. Again, no one but Eve seemed to be aware of the phenomenon, but she didn’t for a moment worry about her sanity.
I’ve been through this before. This, or something very much like it.
The speaker continued. He was another older man, a fussy-looking non-entity
“First of all, once again, we want to welcome everyone to the Foundation’s 42nd annual meeting. Hopefully you’ve been having a good time.” Polite applause. “The Director will start the presentations and awards in a moment, but first... We’d like to take this opportunity to thank the people here at the Bloy Building for this year once again allowing us to use their facilities. Their efforts have been much appreciated. Also, thanks to the Rule Ensemble for supplying the music this even, along with-”
There was more, much more, but Eve let it fade away to a drone. That wasn’t where the trouble was coming from.
The jumps in the lighting grew steadily more frequent and powerful. It wasn’t just the room lights now, but the lights outside the window, the entire city. In the jump spaces, the darkness was nearly total. There was also a new sound, drowning out the speaker, a deep pulse coming up from somewhere.
From somewhere far Down Below.
In another automatic action, Eve stepped out of her shoes and toed them out of the way, under the table, among the flowers. They would just be in the way. She spared a glance at the nearest guard, to see if he had noticed her, but he was scanning the rest of the crowd. Although it made her situation easier, she still felt a flicker of...
...professional displeasure... at this. He should be watching more carefully.
They should all be watching more carefully.
The lights flashed only in pieces now, and the crowd stood very still. The only noise was the rumblethud and...
There was a crack.
There was a hole splitting itself open, both jagged and gaping, and something was moving there against the swirling flames at the bottom of it all.
Moving amongst the faded unmoving crowd, visible only in the flashes. There were several figures there, lurching hopping flying mewling, but one in particular caught her attention. it trailed strips and rags of itself as it came out of the hole and flitted back and forth.
It was dancing, dancing with someone. Eve moved towards it, one silky foot carefully in front of the other, her eyes locked like gunsites. Black birds with no wings drifted overhead.
But even so, even as she got closer, the thing, the Thing, was still black, black all the way through, but she could now see that it was dancing with the blonde woman Eve had seen earlier. She moved spastically in its twined embrace, like a puppet. She did not struggle. Behind her glasses her eyes were wide and horrified. Her cheeks were flsuhed.
Another step, and another...
“Stop.”Her voice sounded far away.
The pulse and the dance skipped a beat in surprise. The blonde woman was spun away, and staggered to a stop, her arms and fingers all bent at vague drifting angles, her expression unchanged.
The Thing laughed, and spoke. Its voice was the aural equivalent of the stench, which grew ever stronger, streaming up out of the depths.
“So. What do we have here?”
It came at her, swirling, and she leaped in the air, kicking out with her foot. She connected, and its substance was both rotten and horribly solid as it tumbled backwards, coming back upright again in one smooth motion.
A moment of silence.
The thing tipped its gaze, as if trying to get something into focus. Then it smiled.
“Ohh... Another one of you? What an unexpected bonus. You’ll be sweeter than all the rest of these morsels. Sweeter than all of them put together and dipped in honey. After we are done here, we’ll go forth.... the things we’ll all do together...” It swirled closer again, much slower this time, stretching and re-stretching its tattered threads about its void and its shapelessness. Throb and pulse... There was no head there, only a gaping mouth, and a thousand spinning eyes, bottomless, utterly mad and hypnotic.
The blonde woman began to twitch in time to the sound, and something moved down inside Eve’s legs as well.
And there was the smell, and the beat, sick and wet and corrupting...
It laughed again, and Eve’s throat made a little noise, something jerked out of her. Spinning shapes were forming in her eyes.
Deep in her eyes.
It was coming ever closer, and there were all the others, gathering, spitting webs out from the corners, every last corner.
The blonde woman watched it all, watched it with the eyes of a shell-shocked child, her arms unmoving, except for the twitches.
“Ashes... ashes and blood and dust... and this time, there will be no rebirth.” It was a mass of snakes now, coiling itself up around Eve's limbs, around the limbs of the blonde woman, around the other audience members. “He was a fool to send you. We shall spread out from here, and we shall go back down your trail, all the way back, and we- we shall....”
It suddenly trailed off, and a new expression crawled into place, one of baffled surprise.
That moment of confusion was enough, and Eve blinked.
When her eyes opened, they had changed to something entirely new. She smiled. She had a mouth just made for smiling, full of teeth, and she stretched it wide, and she meant it, ever last millimeter.
The blonde woman saw that smile, of course, and she screamed. A scream mostly of terror, but something else as well...
Eve’s hand came up, tearing the strands that held it, tearing them like tissue paper and flickering into place in a burst of light. She moved her fingers, slowly, and something came out, came forth, bloomed. Spread its wings and rose sweetly up to heaven, singing an anthem and scattering the smell of wildflowers and fresh sea-breezes in its wake.
A single candle flame that became an purifying inferno.
Eve spoke, spoke in time to the new song, remembering everything now, remembering for just as long as she needed to.
“He is not a fool. He is a genius. You are not worthy speak of Him, not worthy to crawl mewling in His dust, not worthy to exist in same universe as Him.”
She spread her fingers wide.
There was the sound of thunder, and the light from a newly-born star.
“That was quite a dream, wasn’t it, Penny?”
The blonde woman gave a violent start, and turned, clutching at herself. Eve smiled at her, a more... balanced... smile. Penny still flinched back. Finally she spoke.
Penny looked around. The lights blazed brightly. The official speeches were over, and the crowd was departing, a vast multicelled organism gently dying, falling to contented chattering pieces. A much much better fate than some it could have faced. There were no unauthorized holes anywhere. Her gaze finally was drawn back to Eve.
Someone started goofing around on the piano, a light cheerful piece.
“It was all just a dream?”
“Of course. Such things never happen in real life, now do they?” Something caught the corner of Eve’s eye, and she turned. “Ah. Of course. That’s what you were missing. Come along.”She crooked her finger, casually pulling Penny along behind her. “Mr. Vance?”
The tall blonde man stopped and turned. He was still holding the glass Eve had given him, evidently untasted. There was a weariness around his eyes that hadn't been there before.
“Oh... Ms. Knight. Hello again.” His gaze went down to her bare feet, and he started to open his mouth to speak, but Eve flicked his gaze back up to her face.
“Mr. Vance. Jerry. I wanted you to meet someone.” She pulled Penny closer, took hold of the other woman’s shoulders in a gentle but utterly inescapable grip. “Here. Penny. Jerry. Jerry. Penny. Enjoy. Be good to each other. Protect each other.” She pushed them into each other’s arms, and took the glass from his unresisting hand. They looked at each other. “It’s important, although I’m afraid I’ve already forgotten why again.”
They didn’t seem to hear her.
She left them without a backwards glance. She casually drained the glass dry in a gulp and licked her lips clean.
A-yup. Definitely champagne. Top-quality, too...
She put the glass on the tray with the rest, and picked up all of it.
Back down the hall, back into the kitchen.
Ms. Crenshaw was there, of course, and she instantly swooped in for the kill. For a moment, her dress almost resembled the Thing’s wrappings.
“Where have you been? I don’t-”
Eve smiled and lifted a finger, a pale exclaimation point.
She meticulously positioned the tray on a counter.
Only then did she speak, bright and cheerful.
“I quit. Good-bye.” She turned to leave, and saw Jazmine standing nearby, staring at her in surprise. There were pictures of camaraderie and laughter, however brief. “Good-bye, Jazmine. It was a pleasure working with you.”
“Jazmine?” The black woman frowned. “Girl, what the hell are you tal-”
Eve made a brief pattern with her fingers in front of the other woman’s face, and the expression on that face smoothly drained away, leaving chocolate blankness. Eve took hold of the other woman’s neck, again with infinite gentleness, and pulled her torso over. Jazmine flopped like a rag-doll, her eyes still empty. One of her ears was now in range, and Eve whispered directly into it, lingering over the words, particularly the last one.
“Your name is Jazmine.”
She released her hold, the other woman snapped back upright, suddenly seeming to be a foot taller than she had been before. Her eyes came back into focus, and she smiled. Something glowed in the back of her eyes that had not been there before. She faced Ms. Crenshaw, who stood with her hands still curled into claws.
“You know something, you dried up old hag? I quit, too.” She tore off the cap and the apron, flung them away. She pulled her hair out of its bun, and let it spill down over her shoulders. She strutted off, without a backwards glance.
People were very quick to get out of her way.
Eve smiled and followed her lead.
The car was waiting for her, just as she knew it would be, idling by the curb right outside the main entrance to the Bloy Building. Long, sleek, silvery, the vehicle seemed to literally glow in the light clean rain that had sprung up. The nearest rear door hissed open as Eve approached across the damp pavement, and she slid inside, hardly breaking stride. The door closed itself behind her even as the car pulled away from the curb, the engine purring, the slender tail fins cutting the night air in two.
He was sitting in the wide back seat, filling it, His legs spread apart. There were two other women there as well, kneeling before Him on the soft thick carpet. A tiny fragile-looking thing, smaller than Eve, whose skin was not the color of chocolate but almost literally black. A tanned amazon, her long shimmering hair gone almost white from exposure to the sun. The latter woman held a crystal jug in her hands, held it like it was the most precious and beautiful thing in the entire universe. A mass of something sloshed cheerily inside the vessel, and let forth an occasional noise that sounded suspiciously like a small ‘hic’.
Eve joined them, placed her hands on her thighs and gazed up unblinking into His radiance. There was the smell of sea breezes and wildflowers and fresh-baked cinnamon cookies. He laughed, a glorious torrent of sound, and he sipped at his drink.
“Hello there, Eve.”
“Good evening, Sir.”
“I take all went well?”
“What exactly did you do? A full report, now.” He wiggled a finger as he held the glass out to the amazon and she silently tipped the jug. The liquid that poured forth made the champagne look like stagnant swamp water.
“I...” She sighed. Already things were growing hazy and dim, but she remembered enough. “...I slew a Monster, Sir. I also helped True Love, and I set a Warrior on her path.”
“Hmm. Not bad. Not bad at all for a night’s work.” His eyes twinkled under his heavy brows. “So what would you like as a reward?”
“Actually, Sir...” She squirmed a little, and licked her lips again. A last taste of... something.
“I was wondering.... Sir, I realize now that my trail must be concealed, so that the Other Side can not follow it back to... uh... to...”
“But still... if you would consent to reveal...” She lifted her hands, cupped them, and stared intently. A shape slowly formed there in between her curled fingers, became a blonde man with a somewhat weather-beaten face. “... how do I know this man?”
That much I still remember.
He laughed again, and with His free hand he casually swirled His massive finger in the bowl she had formed. A new image formed. A woman with dark glossy hair, done up in pixie cut, wearing a sweater and jeans. Her feet were bare, and she was playing with a young blonde boy, on a wide grassy field. The sun was shining, and white birds sailed overhead. A large friendly-looking dog lounged nearby, legs jutting out at various comical angles as he sunned himself. Eve stared.
But then the picture smoothly pulled back, showing two new people. A man and a women, both blonde, coming across the field and waving. The boy broke away from the mock-tussle and ran to them, waving as well. The abandoned woman watched for a moment with a smile, then looked up at the two people in the car, and winked. She wiggled her fingers, and the image faded out.
Eve returned her hands to their former position, looked up at Him again.
“I remember that day, Sir. I remember doing all of those things. So I was...”
“You were there when he needed you to be there. Just as you were tonight.”
“So he and... uh...”
“Penny. They are important for... for everything, Sir?”
“Oh, yes. And I strongly suspect their children will be even more important.”
“Oh. That’s good, Sir.”
He smiled wider.
“Yes. Almost by definition.”
The car rolled on, picking up speed, and Eve frowned as much as she could frown when in His presence.
“Yes, Eve?” Infinite patience.
“Just how old am I, anyway?”
Yet again He laughed, and He rested His hand on her head for a moment.
“Don’t you know? You’re exactly as old as I need you to be.”
She laughed as well, and the car disappeared into the night, a rising star instead of a falling one.
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