tagMind ControlSo Night Follows Day Pt. 06

So Night Follows Day Pt. 06


By T. MaskedWriter with special guest author Susan Bailey.

"All right!
Stop whatcha doin',
cause I'm about to ruin
the image and the style that ya used to.
I look funny,
but yo, I'm makin' money, see.
So yo, world, I hope you're ready for me.
-Digital Underground, "The Humpty Dance"

Note: Before Ms. Bailey takes over, I've gotten some comments about the use of parentheticals. Strong arguments were made about their taking the reader out of the story, and I agreed, so have been trying to use them less. Susan, however, has that "House of Cards/Ferris Bueller/Richard III" ability to stop and turn to us, the audience, say a few words, then go back to the story; so that's what she's doing when she uses them. So, Ladies and Gentlemen: I give you Susan.

Hi, my name's Susan Bailey. I used to worry about giving out my last name, but then I realized that there are like thirty of us on Facebook. So less worried, now. About that, anyway. I've acquired a lot more to worry about recently.

It's been a while since I did one of these. However, since some of this next part takes place in my head, that Masked Person thought I should step in for a bit here. My usual procedure at this point is to explain who I am: that I've been the "permanent third" in the marriage of lifelong BFFs Troy & Julie Equals since they saved me from an abusive prick about a year ago, that they know how to control minds and are teaching it to me, and that Contessa Helena de San Finzione; yeah, the one from the news and the billboards, is the fourth person in the world who knows the secret. No, really, I DO know her. I could take out my phone and call Helen right now, but she gets enough of that from Julie.

And bathroom walls.

Also Julie's doing.


Helen got off on the wrong foot with me. She's since apologized and we're doing better now. There have certainly been some adjustments. For example, the fact that a woman as strong and powerful as Contessa Helena de San Finzione attracts enemies simply by existing. Well, you've seen the news; someone tried to kill her last month. We know more about that than you might've heard by now. That it wasn't a stalker like they've been telling everyone, but a hitman hired by a rich asshole who wants to acquire a suit of high-tech stealth armor that turns the wearer into an invisible, super-jumping ninja and is coming up for bid at a secret, underground auction at the end of the week. Held by this group that call themselves The Auctioneers. Which, yeah, creative, huh?

All the stuff going on in Seattle right now with the protests? That's just a cover for the auction. The guy out to kill her, Leonard Whyte; yes, the cell phone guy, knows that Helen's probably the only person in the world who can afford to buy it out from under him, so he tried to kill her, and just a little bit ago, killed a group of Chinese mobsters and framed her for it. Oh, and he also knows that she can control minds; and he knows about Troy and Julie, but we're not sure if he knows they can yet as well; just that he thinks he can use them against her. He doesn't seem to know about me. We're trying to keep it that way.

As you might imagine, everyone's on edge, especially Julie. She's usually pretty fearless, but with Helen nearly getting killed last month, and now finding out about Springheel and the Triads and everything, she's worried that Troy will get hurt; which is one of the few things she does fear. Apart from the fact that Troy's parents and Propappou count in her case, Julie's the only one of us who hasn't lost immediate family yet. Whyte threatens her lucky streak, and it's a bit much.

Luckily, we're being protected by a small invasion force camping out on the lawn of our neighbors across the street. Don't worry, I know them; they're on Helen's side, they're all right. They're posing as tourists having a family reunion; and for being from a country whose primary industry is tourism, they're either really bad at it, or so good at it that it just looks bad to an American seeing it from the outside.

Helen had just gone across the street, along with her new protection, a big, bald Englishman named Mander who's surprisingly polite for someone that you can take one look at and know that he's killed people for money. Julie and Troy had just gone to the bedroom so he could comfort her, leaving me alone on the back patio. I thought of calling Rachel, a new girlfriend I've made recently, and asking her to come stay with us while Seattle's likely to erupt into rioting at any moment, but I don't want to put her in danger, too. Huh, I guess she really is safer there than with us right now.

I wasn't sure what to do next, but luckily, I knew some people whose advice I found myself able to trust more often than not. I sat down in a chair and closed my eyes.

* * *

There was me, that is, Susan, and my three droogs, that is Sue, Suzy-Q, and Suzy-Ho; on account of she was such a ho. And we sat there in the Korova milkbar, trying to make up our rassoodocks what to do with the evening. The Korova milkbar sold milk-plus, milk plus vellocet or synthemesc or drencrom, which was what we were drinking. This would sharpen you up and get you ready for a bit of the old ultra-conference-between-myself-and-my-other-personalities.

Sue brought us our milk-plus on a tray, because she can't ever seem to stop waitressing. Although she wore a droogie outfit like mine, hers bore a nametag. During the bad days, when I was still with Chad, Sue was the part of me that did whatever she had to in order to power through and keep going. She's the one who spent eleven years getting her ass pinched and/or slapped every night, then trying to explain to Chad why someone besides him was leaving marks on me.

Suzy-Ho realized she couldn't touch herself in the costume, and was struggling to remove it. She doesn't usually do clothes. As the name implies, she's kind of my inner nympho. I always know what her advice is going to be.

Suzy-Q was getting into the setting and her costume and taking a long sip of her milk-plus. Her role in my head is a bit up-in-the-air right now. She used to deal with Chad's abuse by always giving in to him and convincing us that we deserved it somehow, but now that she's not needed for that, we're trying to find a new place for her within the organization.

"Well, ladies," I told the other Mes. "You know what's going on out there. Danger like we've never encountered, and quite frankly, I'm a bit stuck for what my next move should be. I can guess your answer already, Suzy-Ho; but I'd like to hear what the other two have to say first."

"Whole thing sounds pretty fucked." Sue said, in a gruff version of my own voice. "We all love Troy & Julie, and we're warming to Helen." I could have sworn I saw Suzy-Q smirk out of the corner of my eye at that, but she turned away. I turned my attention back to Sue. "That said, my first idea is swallowing our pride, telling Troy 'Yeah, this is pretty overwhelming, and I should go somewhere for a week.' Maybe take Rachel and/or one of the other ladies for a few days' drive up to Canada, or down to Oregon. Somewhere along the coast, away from all this until it's over."

I almost did a spit-take with my milk. I sort of think of Sue as a mix of my Survival Instinct and Self-Esteem, and a plan like "run and hide" wasn't like her. She never even suggested we run from Chad. A number of other things, not all of them good, but not running.

"That's not very like you, Sue. I figured once we found out Yorkshire's name, you'd be all for kicking in his door and slapping the fucker around."

"Any other time, yeah, that'd be my first plan. This Whyte prick, though... he could have picked a fight with anyone in the world and he chose Helen. That means he's crazy enough to think he can win and has the means to try. I mean yes, you live with people who're teaching you a superpower, that's damn cool. But there's a reason Hawkeye calls the other Avengers when Ultron shows up."

"Hawkeye still stays and fights, though." Suzy-Q stepped in. "Even with his little bow and arrows, he'll keep trying to dent Ultron all day while the others find the big weakness. I mean, yeah, Whyte doesn't seem to know about us, but what if we're wrong about that? What if he knows you exist and isn't saying because he has something special planned for you, Susan? Running away might be playing right into his hands; he could have people ready to grab you as soon as you're away from Helen and everyone else's protection. You know, we've been thinking that he blew his one big master stroke trying to kill her in the first place and has been playing catch-up since, but maybe we're supposed to think that. This guy managed to play both Helen and the Triads. He's no idiot."

"That's certainly true." I agreed with myself. "I read the transcript of his first call to her, and that was the impression he was trying to give. Whatever evil shit Troy uncovers when he starts going after the guy, he has gotten away with it up until now. And he killed those people and let Helen get his confession on tape? He had to know she'd record the call. He didn't get stupid all of a sudden just because Helen survived the first attack; he knows how to cover his tracks."

"This sounds like the kind of conversation you should be having with Helen. Troy, too, when he's taken care of Julie. You heard Helen earlier, when she talked about how good you are at helping people; I've actually been thinking on that one a little. Maybe La Policia would have put together that Morgan's shrine was a phony eventually without you, or maybe they would've seen what Whyte wanted them to. Maybe we ARE just weird enough, or have watched just the right episodes of Law & Order to see something that real cops might miss. If we learned anything from Remington Steele, it's that the only skill you really need in life is Movie Trivia. You helped Troy & Julie when you guys were on the plane, and we're always saying, 'I'm here to help.' Hell, isn't that what we dropped out to spend eleven years doing in a shitty highway diner; helping people get their food? You've always been a very supportive person, Susan. She could be on to something there. You're going to be needed in some way, I can sense it."

"You've been talking like that a lot, lately." I told her. "Ever since we got back from San Finzione, in fact. And you were pretty quiet while we were there, now that I think of it."

"Was I?" She asked, maybe a bit too innocently. "Sue and Suzy-Ho were doing most of the 'helping you keep the others going' job, and you all seemed to have things under control, so I... found something else to do."

"What?" I asked. "You live in my head and critique my life; what else could you have found to do?"

Suzy-Q got a far-off look for a moment before turning back to me.

"I'd prefer not to say yet, Susan. It's not a bad thing, it's actually pretty good. But I know if I tell you right now, I'll get it wrong, and it might come off bad." She thought for a bit. "I should probably take you through it in stages, and I can't think of how to even start. If you insist, Susan, I know I'll tell you everything as best as I can. I don't think any of us are even capable of lying to you. I've never tried, and I'm pretty sure the others haven't, either. Just... you're having a strange-enough day as it is. Adding to that would not be 'being here to help.'"

"Hmm..." I hmmed. "Sue's idea is 'run and hide,' and you have something you don't feel ready to tell me. Maybe the Clockwork Orange motif wasn't random this time. Seems there's been some very LARGE talk behind my sleeping back." I looked over at Suzy-Q again, saw the hurt look on her/my face, and changed my tone. "Ok, Suzy-Q. You've never asked anything like this before, but I know you'd never do anything to hurt us. It's something important to you, and because you are part of me, logic would only follow that it's also important to me. So, I'm going to do the thing that everyone says not to and blindly trust a voice in my head, here. Please don't make me regret it, Suzy-Q."

"I won't, Susan." She said, smiling back at me with my own smile. "I love you. I wouldn't waste this on something that didn't matter. And as soon as I can figure out how to express it, I will. Just, you know, not right now with everything going on."

"Ok, dear. You're right about it being a strange day, though. Even in here. I think this fucker's got you two even more 'not yourselves' than Julie right now. Hell, let's complete the trilogy." I turned to Suzy-Ho. "What're you thinking right now, Hon?" I asked her.

Suzy-Ho looked up from the activity of trying to figure out how to get her fingers under the codpiece that the Groovy Young Malchick outfits we were wearing all sported and looked up at me.

"Hmm?" She hmmed, distracted now from her task. "Oh, this is about that Whyte guy, right? Yeah, let's kick his fucking wrinkly old ass."

I stood up and almost hurled my drink on the floor in frustration, but dammit, my old waitressing instincts forbade me from harming cups, glasses, or plates; or through my action or inaction, allowing them to come to harm. So, I set it down on the table, instead.

"Ok, weirdness in here..." I calmed down and thought for a second. "Beyond agreed-upon parameters, let's say; can't be happening while it's going on out there. I can't go from all that, to a place where Sue wants to run away, Suzy-Q has a secret, and Suzy-Ho is the one who wants to go kick some ass. Those two set me up for some kind of twist, but I thought yours would be something like 'Let's fuck Velasquez' instead of Helen. Would you care to expand on that, Suzy-Ho?"

"Sure. And since you brought it up, you saw Velasquez's bikini! We've never had Latina before, and she is completely fucking edible!" She said, standing up as I sat back down. She managed to get the suspenders off and caressed her/my breast with her right hand while her left still tried to figure out the codpiece.

"Troy and Julie Equals are not just our family, Susan; not just our friends. They are the suppliers of our orgasms! You know I'm a connoisseur of orgasms, and I've always enjoyed your solo work, Susan, but I've grown particularly fond of Equals Brand Orgasms. This bastard has made Julie sad twice now, and I like it better when Julie's happy, because sex is more likely to happen then. As for Helen? My opinion is well established. Yes, I want her. And Velasquez, and maybe a couple more of the other Ultimados, too. So, this asshole threatens four or more people whom I either fuck or want to fuck, so yeah, I have a problem with this prick, and I say we deal with him so we can get back to that 'mutiple and multiple times a day' schedule I enjoy so much!"

I walked over to Suzy-Ho and kissed her. The kind of kiss that I knew she/I wanted. While I had my arms around my other self, I reached behind her and unhooked the codpiece. She squealed in delight and began shimmying out of the outfit while I turned back to the others.

"Sorry I doubted you, hon. Ok, so, established: We're staying right here and doing whatever we can to help. One of us will be touching herself, but that's always been factored in." I looked over at Suzy-Ho, who'd gotten her shirt off and was working on the pants. She nodded in agreement and I continued. "Does anyone have any suggestions beyond going across the street and asking Helen how we can help? Because that's all I got, and I'd like to have something to bring to the table."

"Well, ok." Sue said, walking over to sit next to me. "If you're not going to take my survival advice, lady, I still got your back. I can think of something; Helen probably won't go for it, but you can do it and the others can't." She whispered in my ear. It sounded good. I thanked her and left.

* * *

I was back on the porch. I didn't have a watch on or look at my phone to know how long I was in there, but it never seems to be more than a second or two. It feels like a thing I initiate, rather than something that happens to me on its own. If I knew how to operate heavy machinery, it wouldn't be a problem. (Cars are heavy machinery, right? Ok, I can use one of those.)

I looked back at the Equals' bedroom door, still closed, then across the street, to where hot dogs were now being added to the burgers on the grill. I got up and walked over to the Greens' yard, wearing better shoes for it than the last time.

I'd gotten to know some of the Ultimados during my week in San Finzione. I recognized Sgt. Pappas, pretending he had a groove thing to shake, and asked him where I could find La Contessa. He pointed to the front door of the house. I rewarded him by informing him that nobody real "twirks," and even then, it's women that are supposed to do it. He stopped immediately and started doing the Zorba dance to the classic rock coming from the sound system.

Mander was leaning against the front doorframe when I approached. He jerked a thumb toward the inside of the house.

"Imagine yer lookin' for 'Er Countessness." We were further away from the speakers than Pappas, but he still had to raise his voice. "She's in the dinin' room, tryin' to tell the Elders about that Whyte crafty butcher."

I walked into the house. I'd only been here twice before. Once to accuse them of being spies after Helen was stabbed, and the other a few minutes later, to accept the offer of San Finzione citizenship that she'd left with them as an emergency escape plan in case something really bad happened, and the three of us needed to flee the country and go live with her in San Finzione. (I needed a passport immediately, and it was the only way. The address on my San Finzione passport and license is 1 Strada al Castello. Apparently, I live at Castle Finzione. So, that "live with her" is more literal than I first thought.)

I'd stayed in the living room those times, and hadn't bothered to look around the rest of the house. I heard Helen's raised voice shouting something in Chinese and followed it and the trail of cigarette smoke toward the dining room.

The rest of the house was furnished like the living room; like someone had just opened a catalog to a page, slapped their hand on it, and said "Ok, give me... that. Just, this page. Make it happen." (I had a pretty good idea who that was.) And they set everything to catalog photo specifications. Apart from the fact that someone had been keeping up the dusting, most of it appeared unused.

That wasn't surprising. Part of what had tipped me off to the Greens was the fact that, for two gay men who love each other enough to get married, they showed no romantic affection toward each other. That, by itself, confirmed nothing, of course. Keeping their love secret in public could have just been an old habit. But even if that'd been the case, their façade had shown no cracks at all, now that they were married and had a home. They don't even go jogging together, because someone has to stay home and watch our house at all times. (Helen also personally gives each Ultimado special training via "The Thing." As a result, their loyalty to her and Maria is unquestionable, they don't sleep much, and if an enemy ever caught one, they'd be impossible to torture. Probably some other things that I don't know, as well.)

Helen sat at the head of the otherwise-untouched dining room table. That part of the table had been set up into a makeshift mini-office for her, with a laptop, printer/fax; the usual things you'd expect at a busy person's desk. An ashtray sat next to the laptop, and Helen put her cigarette in it as she calmed down and her tone with the person on the other end became more peaceful. She'd been back here less than twenty minutes, and there were two extinguished butts in it already.

I pulled out the chair next to her, and noticed the indentations in the carpet that told me that this was the first time it had been moved since it was placed here originally. She turned to acknowledge me and continued her call in what I found out later was Mandarin. I waited for her to finish. When she did, she turned to me.

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