It's Always Time Act 06 Ch. 04byOblimo©
Act Six: Second Helpings
Chapter Four: Take From Me
The drive to the Epsilon Zeta Sorority chapter house proved dull and anticlimactic. The steering wheel jerked and the yellow SUV juddered if Dee pushed it over fifty miles per hour. He considered abandoning the beaten automobile and running barefoot all the way to fraternity row. It shocked him to realize he had been barefoot since "quickening Eurydice," as Yves called it, back in Bee's apartment. He wiggled his toes on the gas pedal. The thought of putting something on his feet was unnerving, exposing.
"I'd feel naked," he told his reflection in the rearview mirror. ""Just wearing socks would make me feel naked." He downshifted into third gear and the SUV stopped trembling. He filed the barefoot question in his mental Things to Figure Out Later folder. Damn, that folder's getting pretty big.
With the automatic gearshift stuck in third, it would take him over an hour to drive to Epsilon Zeta. Pulling over and running began to appeal. His nanomek had remade him inside out, after all. Surely indefatigability during marathon sex translated into running a real marathon. And what about super-speed? Did he have any?
Red and blue flashed in the rearview mirror. Dee ignored the strobe lights for the moment, pondering super-speed. "Dumb name," he said. "'Celerity'. That's better."
A siren squawked once. Dee sighed and pulled over, a police car riding his tail. What about celerity? he wondered. Do I have any? He put the SUV in park and kept his hands at ten and two o'clock on the steering wheel, waiting for the state trooper to run the SUV's tags, call in the stop, and mosey over. Even if I have celerity, what would happen if I used it? Dee had to experiment and learn the limits of his powers eventually, he decided, but now was not the time. If Yves were here, he'd say, "Go with what you know." There was too much at stake for experimentation now.
The state trooper moseyed up to the busted driver's side window, drawling smoother than John Wayne. "What happened to your car, son?" He held a pad of ticket forms in one hand. "Driver's license and registration, please."
"You don't need to see my identification."
"I don't, huh? Now why is that, son?"
"I can go about my business."
The state trooper tore off the top form and crumpled it before retreating, his gait still set to Mosey as if nothing unusual had happened. "Move along."
Dee confessed to his reflection, "All right, maybe a little experimentation," and spent the rest of his trip quantifying his abilities in Star Wars terms. By the time the SUV rattled down fraternity row, Dee had given up on any aspirations to Jedi knighthood. Tomoe's "kuzbu" aligns more with the other guys. "That's okay," he said aloud, turning onto Campion Street, "the Dark Side has cooler lightsabers anyway."
The SUV rounded a bend, Epsilon Zeta Sorority House came into view, and reality became stranger than fiction. Dee took his foot off the accelerator and coasted into the cul de sac, not sure of what he was seeing. Porn movie clichés raced through his mind and the gaggle of vehicles parked in front of the house’s made sense in a funny, but not humorous, way.
"All that’s missing is a plumber’s van," Dee mused. He parked the SUV against the curb along side the FedEx truck, the russet Dodge Shadow capped by a triangular Napoli’s Pizza marquee, and an electrician’s van from a cable television company with a very ironic name, considering the circumstances. A ten-speed bicycle leaned against the steps leading to the house’s columned front porch. The bike was rigged with canvas saddle bags brimming with newspapers. "Christ, I hope that paperboy’s over eighteen."
Dee had not expected Cherry to start collecting guys—and "collecting" was the precise word for what Cherry did with men, Dee decided—until the party tonight. Did it change anything? They’re just more cards for her to hold. She already has the upper hand; it’s even "upper" than I had thought, that’s all. Dee surveyed the other buildings in the cul de sac, all unaffiliated student housing, and all dead quiet. It’s Friday afternoon, so where is everybody? He glanced at the dashboard clock: 4:20 PM.
"Oh. Duh." The lace-curtained windows in the sorority house’s three stories belied no movement. "Well, I’ve been talking to myself for a couple minutes now." The house’s front door remained closed. "And no skank-bot, wet tee-shirt, carwash zombie horde…uh, thing…this time. So I guess my public fuckability’s under control. Right?" Or Cherry’s found a better game to play. He listened to the SUV’s engine clank as it cooled. "Right. Here we go."
Dee swung open the car door, connected his bare feet to the ground, and felt his mind clarify, as if he had squeezed contact lenses, not into his eyes, but inside his head. He became aware of background details, the contours of ivy leaves and the granules of mortar on the sorority house’s brick edifice, without feeling overwhelmed or distracted. "Weird. Like Ritalin."
Dee mounted the stairs and crossed the whitewashed porch to the front door. The door stood ajar a fraction of an inch, just enough to prevent the latch from catching. Loneliness and longing welled up within him. He wanted one of his friends to say, "It's a trap!" or "I have a bad feeling about this." It was the perfect occasion, almost obligatory, and the stretching silence compounded Dee's sense of loss and doubt.
"God," Dee beseeched, "don't let me do anything stupid." He brushed open the door and edged inside.
Epsilon Zeta's foyer stank like a frat house. An Easy girl lazed against the wall, her back to the door. Strawberry blonde curls stuck out beneath her FedEx cap. She wore a tasseled leather jacket but no pants, only a pair of thong underwear skewed off the crack of her juicy ass. Her head cocked, trapping an old-fashioned phone handset between her cheek and shoulder, she twirled the cord around her fingers as she spoke.
"Uh huh. And three spicy tuna rolls. Yeah. Around five o'clock's fine. Can I request deliverers? Is Shota working tonight?" She turned to face forward, lacy black bra peeking out behind her jacket. Her voice trailed off as she stared at Dee. "Uh," she mumbled into the phone, "never mind." She squared her shoulders and the phone thunked to the floor. "Dinner's here."
Dee raised both hands, palms out. "I don't want to hurt anybody."
The Easy's hazy gaze zeroed in on Dee's crotch. She pouted, "Not even a little?" She bit her lip and took a step toward him.
The girl slumped, her mouth working against the wall. A single gasp escaped her throat. The soft, wet noise seemed to echo through the house. Dee heard pattering movement in the rooms above him, in the main hall before him, in the corridor beside him.
The strawberry blonde rocked back onto her feet, her face and neck flush. Her fingernails scoured the wall's wood paneling as she took another step toward Dee, chest heaving. Her breath smelled like a bakery. "Do that again."
Dee tried to ease his sinking stomach, looking for that center Yves always lectured about. Out in the house's main hall, a steady stream of coeds slunk down the stairs, a half-naked chorus line pussyfooting in time to an unheard beat. Dee found no center, only memories of Raspberry.
["…When Black Cherry concentrates on the Easies, she can make them do pretty much anything…"]
A vanguard curl from the strawberry blonde's mane tickled Dee's chin. She wet her lips and stood on tiptoe, questing for a kiss. How did he let her get so close? Here goes nothing. He pressed his index finger to her lips and said, "Black Cherry should be my first."
The blonde swayed in a faint, seizing his wrist. Dee's unmoving arm was sturdy as a wrought iron lamppost. Her hands slid down to his elbow and she dangled there, hissing air inward through clenched teeth. "Yes, Master. Yes."
Dee hoisted her chin with his other hand. Her pupils were dilated. Her pulse pounded in her throat like a drum. "Galatea, Cherry," Dee told the mind behind the frenzied eyes. "Show me Galatea's safe, then we seal the deal." The girl groaned, blonde curls flaying as she shook her head. "You won't win until she loses."
"Basement." The blonde loosed her grip on Dee's elbow and flopped ass-first onto the floor. "Down the hall, down the stairs." She pulled the thong until it tore, fingers shivering against her clitoral hood. "You're r-ready, Master. You're ready f-for me."
The narrow hallway was filled with girls. They squeezed against the wall, pawing at Dee's chest as he walked passed, before sinking into masturbatory oblivion. An empty doorframe, the door itself missing except for the hinges, revealed a flight of steps downward. A girl in a white spandex tee-shirt and pink hot-pants, reeking of fever and sex, stood rigid and staring in front of a swing-hinged door at the very end of the hall. She chewed her lip until it bled.
There is no center here, Dee decided, and descended into darkness.
Eggshell shards of glass crunched under Dee's feet on the last few steps. The jagged stub of a light bulb hung from the ceiling of the basement hallway. Coeds crowded the top of the stairs. Gloom thickened.
To his right, Dee saw the outlines of two doors. Beyond them, two great crescent shapes were obscured in deepest shadow. They made Dee feel watched, and he looked away, grown accustomed to the dark. A pale shaft of green light cut across the hallway floor to his left. He stepped into it.
The light spilled out from under a closed door. Heart hammering, Dee turned the doorknob. The mechanism grated beneath his fingers. He eased the door open. Brilliance dazzled him, caught his breath, and drew him into the room.
The room was small and spare. Slivers of green light danced on the whitewashed, cinderblock walls. An extension cord led from the one wall socket to the center of the room where three lamps were arrayed on the floor. Their upturned halogen faces triangulated on the room's sole occupant. She reflected and refracted their life-giving light like an emerald prism.
"Galatea," Dee said, reaching for her. "Galatea, I'm sorry." She did not move. "Galatea, this is all my fault." She did not move. "I'm so sorry," Dee whispered, and pressed his hand against her hip.
She was cold as glass, immobile as marble, and as dead as stone. "What did she do to you, Galatea?" Dee asked, looking up into her eyes. They sparkled, but not with mischief or any sign of life, only with the mindless glimmer of gemstone. Dee glanced down at her bare feet. "At least she did not put you on a pedestal," he said, and stepped back.
The statue of Galatea looked exactly as he remembered last seeing her: a figure as tall as it was curvaceous; a swooping X carved atop her left breast, angled and resembling a dancer in mid-leap; spikes of hair framing a mature face of aching beauty; that beautiful face downcast in quiet disappointment. "I didn’t trust you," he told the statue, "I blamed you rather than face the truth. I understand now." He stepped into the radius of light and took the statue by its unmoving shoulders. "I know what I am. And I love you, Galatea." He bent his head up. "It's time," he said, and kissed her on the lips.
Nothing happened. Her lips were cool and hard. Dee clicked his teeth against them, waiting for something, some sign of life. Tears ran down her cheek. He broke the one-sided kiss. "Galatea, thank…Oh." The tears staining her cheek had no telltale trail of moisture from her eyes. "Those are mine." He dried his tears off Galatea's crystal-carven face with his thumb. In a sudden inspiration, he gently streaked the statue's lips with his damp thumb, and kissed the salt into her mouth.
Nothing happened. The door creaked behind him. Dee swallowed against the lump in his throat. "What do you need?" he asked, tracing the inner edge of the X with his index finger. It stung.
A breathy voice twittered behind him, "More than words and tears."
Strong, warm palms pushed against the small of his back, slid up around his ribs and pressed against his chest. A dainty chin pressed into the hollow of his shoulder. Sultry-sweet breath tickled his ear.
Dee glanced down. A bead of blood seeped up from the scalpel-perfect cut in his fingertip. "Oh."
"Time to seal the deal," whispered Black Cherry, wing claws flexing high above him.
Dee started to turn but scarlet arms gripped tight. "No," Black Cherry said, "keep looking at her, not me. I want her to know she's lost."
"She can see?" Dee asked. He heard nothing from Black Cherry, sensed no stirring within the Galatea statue. The electric whine of the sunlamps filled the silence. "Anyway," he added, "we need to rework the terms."
"Oh?" Black Cherry giggled. She sandwiched herself against him. Her breasts squashed into his back and her groin grinded on his ass. "And what makes you think you're in any position to negotiate?" Her rising wings cast two crescent shadows on the far wall.
"Because I won't say it otherwise," Dee said, "and she won't truly lose unless I do."
The winged shadows froze. "You think you know me inside and out. You don't." The shadows shrank as her wings settled against her shoulders. "But you'll know what it's like inside me soon enough." Dee stayed stolid. Black Cherry sighed. "Very well, Master. You may restate your terms."
"Those other guys," Dee said. "I didn't know about them. I don't want them hurt; let them go."
Dee pictured the vehicles in front of the sorority house. "The cable guy, the FedEx guy, and two delivery boys. Pizza and paper, I think."
"Oh, them." Wings rustled. "They weren't my idea in the first place, although they came in handy. What else?"
Dee closed his eyes. "Galatea. I don't really think this counts as 'safe'. Release her."
Ten pinpricks of pain bloomed on his chest. Black Cherry's fingernails thickened into polished black talons. She sighed, drawing her arms downward. "You go too far, Master," she said over the sounds of ripping cloth.
This is it. Don't fuck up. "Nevertheless," Dee said, feeling the scrape of all ten talons. "Set her free. Let her go. No strings."
Black Cherry clucked and ticked, slicing shreds of Dee's tee-shirt onto the floor. "Oh, all right. I'll release her from all that binds her here. Satisfied? No? Ooh, you are impossible!" Her soft lips closed around his earlobe. "I love it. Fine, she'll be free to leave, unfettered and unharmed. Better? Then nod your head. Good boy. Honestly, it's like dealing with the Devil." She feasted on his neck, reduced his shirt to tatters with her talons. She perked up, mouth parting from his flesh with a wet pop. "But I'll need something extra in exchange." One final swipe of a talon over his collar and the jigsaw remains of his shirt fell to the floor. "I need a name, Master."
Her talons drifted toward his waist. "And I need pants," Dee insisted, "These are my very last pair." Talons plucked out an impatient beat on Dee's bare stomach. "Okay. Your master will name you. Now cancel the party and end the Frenzy."
She pushed herself away. "Are you serious? Think of it: a planet of women calling you Master, just like I do." He felt her shrug, the shadow of her wings waxing and waning on the walls. "Consider it a preemptive strike. Thanks to that stunt you pulled, every witch less than six dimensions away is already after your ass."
"The omphalos mundi," Black Cherry said. Dee shook his head and she added, "The world navel you made? You weren’t subtle; don't think you can be, with something that big." She giggled at the memory. "I was fucking this paperboy in the backyard for the fourth or fifth time in a row. Those eighteen-year-old delivery boys have got a lot of spunk in them, in more ways than one; he didn't beg for his life until at least his third orgasm. So there I was, getting his barely-legal rocks off, when—Wham! A new omphalos mundi, bigger than life, and topped by an axis mundi shot up into the sky." She pinched him under the armpit. "That must have really drained you, Master. No wonder you slept." She pinched harder and Dee flinched. "Still drained, I see."
Despite the desperate circumstances, Dee felt bashful. "You saw that all the way from here?"
Black Cherry's laughter twinkled. "Master, they saw that from the Moon."
"Who's on the Moon?"
Dee felt another shrug, "The Amazons," Black Cherry answered. "Duh."
"You're not crazy for me, Cherry," Dee said, remembering Yves' earlier words, "You're indiscriminately crazy. There are over six billion people in the world nowadays, you can't just…Wait, Amazon women on the Moon?"
Black Cherry twittered, "Six billion? Really?" She hugged his back again. "I'll have even more time with you until the Frenzy runs its course and the female half of the world fucks the male half to death. Then I'll share you, or not, as I see fit, with any witches and Moon maidens and maenads and whoever else's left."
"No party, no Frenzy, no world fem-domination, and don't hurt anybody I've left out. Promise me that, and your Master will name you," Dee offered.
"Maybe," Black Cherry cooed, planting little kisses on his back. "I promise to think about it. Depends on how good a Master you are."
"I can live with that. But Unyx's hair: you've got to burn it."
Black Cherry gasped in mock shock and swatted Dee on the rump. "Nuh-uh. I'm keeping her hair as an assurance. Besides, you have nothing left to bargain with." She reached around to clutch his chest, the talon of her index finger pricking the rib below his left breast. "Do we have a deal?"
Dee gazed up at Galatea. She did not look back. "Yes."
A shiver of excitement shocked through the scarlet girl's body. She squeezed against him tighter than ever. "Cross your heart?" she asked, sunk her talon into his flesh, and dragged her hand up and across.
Pain exploded in his chest. Dee's knees buckled but Black Cherry held him up. His vision wavered. Blood spotted the floor. She withdrew her talon, but a heartbeat later another sank into the skin above his left breast and just below the shoulder. She held him in silence and exquisite agony, the talon burrowed deep but unmoving.
"Say it," Dee told her, his jaw clenched against the pain.
She shivered around him. Her sex felt hot and slick against his thigh. Black Cherry tittered, "You first."
"Yes," Dee nodded, "cross my heart—"
"And hope to die?" The words gushed out of her mouth as her talon sliced downward.
He was ready for more pain this time but it still took his breath away. He remembered his favorite line from Yves' centering lectures.
["…Victory is not getting cut…"]
He glanced down at the raw X incised above his heart, the blood streaming down to his belly. The center is here. He bowed his head. "Hope…Hope to die," he said.
"Then tell her," Black Cherry growled, grabbing a handful of Dee's hair and pointing his face up at the green statue's. "Tell her. She has to know."
Dee swallowed. "Galatea," he told the statue, "I'm ready."
Black Cherry mewled. Her talons vanished back into her fingertips. Her wings spread wide, encircling Dee in swirls of soot and licks of flame. Fingers thrust under the waist of his pants. Black Cherry wrapped her hands around Dee's cock. She babbled nonsense words, a woman possessed.
"I'm ready for your sister," Dee said.
"Fuck me, Master." Black Cherry released Dee long enough to wrench him around. Her eyes were nothing like Unyx's, Dee realized, which shone like a starry, cloudless night. Black Cherry's eyes were an unreflective black. Abysses that swallowed light and gave nothing back. Even as she sobbed, overcome—although Dee could not tell whether with lust, triumph, joy, madness, or something more dark and alien—her insectile eyes gave up no tears. She huddled herself against him, smearing her cheek on his blood-stained abdomen, one hand mauling his dick to life. "Fuck me."