Pitchfork Red: Final Quantum Stage

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NB: If you are looking for earlier chapters, the ‘Pitchfork Red’ story begins on the  HOME page and continues through PITCHFORK RED: Quantum Stage I, Quantum Stage II and Quantum Stage III.  Thanks for reading!

Chapter 16: DOLOR HIS TIBI PRODERIT OLIM

“Get me away from here, before he gets closer!” Dolores gasps. Her black-marble eyes turn up behind fluttering eyelids and her slender body begins to twitch in tiny convulsions. Michael scoops her up into his arms and cautiously begins to climb the steep stairs up out of the cellar, holding her body firmly as she spasms.

Up in the hallway Sariel runs ahead to throw open the front door so they can dash outside. As they tear down the path and into the lamp-lit street beyond, Dolores regains hazy consciousness. She throws her arm around Michael’s neck and turns her head stiffly to look into the darkened street,

“Get me away…that direction…go,” she points downhill.

As they gain ground from the house, Dolores begins to breathe more easily,

“Yes, better now…” she mumbles. Her arm tightens around Michael’s neck and she raises herself,

“Take me to the hotel. I have a room,” she whispers weakly. Michael nods agreement and reverts to a more sedate amble. As they get further from the house, Dolores begins to recover her composure – her eyes clearing from the inky mist.sdsre

Anxiously she glances back over Michael’s shoulder. A dark figure staggers into view on the brow of the hill by Betsy’s house – a hunched silhouette against the grey light creeping over the horizon. Shuddering, it steadies itself by clutching the picket fence surrounding the front yard. Turning its head stiffly, it patiently observes the group fleeing away down the hill until they disappear around the corner. It uncoils. The laboured breathing of its chest eases and it raises itself to its full height. It is tall and gaunt. It brushes down its dark suit and strides unsteadily along the path towards the open front door of Betsy Tranter’s dark house, where the solitary light still glows dimly from beyond the cellar door.

Once the group turns the corner into Main Street, the welcoming lights of the Maybury Hotel are in sight. Michael checks the woman he is carrying in his arms. Dolores is passive. She looks up at him through almond shaped eyes, still dim, but regaining a silvery iris.

Before they reach the steps leading up to the mahogany doorposts of the Hotel, Michael turns to Sariel close behind.

“Go back,” he hisses in a fierce whisper, “Go back to the house and see who’s there!”

Sariel looks bemused,

“It’s Betsy, surely?” she whispers,”I mean Lilith disguised as Betsy. She must have tried to return to the house and got too close while Dolores was there. That’s why ‘the darkness’ came. But how reckless of her to get so close to Dolores that they might have ‘detonated’ their rogue energy and put the whole town in danger…” she stops suddenly – a look of perplexity on her face.

“You were concerned with Dolores and ‘the darkening’ overcoming her and got distracted. Think again!” Michael begins,

“Yes, wait!” Sariel stares back at him, her eyes aglow with steely light as she flicks back through her memory to the scenes in the cellar,

“Dolores said ‘HE- HE was getting too close!” she gasps in realization, “Not Lilith then.”

Michael shakes his head, “NOT Lilith, the other one – the third. Lilith couldn’t get close while Dolores was there – she would have suffered pain in the same way and backed off… but him?  He would have felt the agonizing approach of ‘the darkness’ too. He risked the possibility of their imminent annihilation – Why? He must be damned determined, or determined to be damned!” he concludes.

Sariel’s mouth hardens, “No. Don’t you see? It was a ruse. He wanted to get us out! It was the best way to make sure we went in exactly the opposite direction. Damn him. He’s cunning enough to put himself and Dolores at risk. The last of the Pitchfork Three,” her voice is hollow,

“The most elusive one. Many times we have tried to pin him down, his trail always goes cold. He disappears into…who knows where?”

Michael glances down at Dolores, apparently still stunned, and whispers, “That’s why you should get back right now, he may still be searching for the Antikythera, though we made it easy for him to find,” he admits.

Sariel nods, takes a deep breath, and the night becomes deathly still. No sound, not a breath of wind, everything suspended. In the milky light of the streetlamp the tiny motes of dust circle a dreamy, lethargic descent – and are arrested. The bright blur of light that is now Sariel, whirls out of sight.

Michael waits as the time-frame rights itself around him and the faint sounds of night return to the hushed air. Then he mounts the steps between the mahogany doorposts and gives several reverberating kicks to the large front door of the Maybury hotel. The whacks echo down the quiet street.

One of the green, damask curtains twitches back allowing light from the bright room to stream onto the porch. He blinks in the sudden glare but before he has a chance to kick out again, Mary Maybury swings open the heavy front door and utters a small cry of surprise ,

“Oh, Agent Tego?” she gasps, choking back her shock, nervous fingers twitching to her lips, “Pardon me, but there’s been a rumour around town that…well, that you’d been shot!” Michael looks at her sardonically,

“Rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated,”

“Quite so,” Mary hesitates, and turns her attention to the semi-conscious woman in his arms,

“Whatever has happened? Oh my, has Miss Dolores been taken ill?”

“She has indeed Miss Maybury, or we would not think of disturbing you at this late hour,” Michael explains as Mary throws the door wide to facilitate their entrance. Martha appears at the top of the stairs, wrapped in a blue quilted dressing gown, her greying hair tied in braids.

“Come right up here Agent Tego. I’ll open Miss Todesfall’s, room for you and turn on the light,” Martha moves off, as ever considering the practicalities. As Michael sweeps up the stairs and through the open door Martha leans over the bannister of the landing and calls to her sister,

“Mary, get them some tea and…yes, the smelling salts and some brandy, in case they’re needed.”

Michael meanwhile, makes his way over to the bed, and unceremoniously throws Dolores roughly onto the coverlet. Her eyes jerk wide in surprise and she glares silently at him as Martha bustles into the room behind them,

“Shall I call a doctor?” she asks,

“No,” Dolores replies huskily, “Thank you Miss Maybury, that won’t be necessary,” she lifts her head and gives her a wan smile,

“I’ve been overworking and not eating properly. I fainted is all. Agent Tego was nearby and came to my aid,” she gives him an icy glance.

Martha’s gaze flicks back and forth between them. Michael turns to her. They exchange a tense look after which Martha blinks and nods,

“Yes, yes, I see. Mary will bring up some sandwiches for you to have with your tea Miss Todesfall, and if you, Agent Tego, are intending to stay with us,” she looks Michael up and down taking in his grubby and rumpled clothes , “I think I must provide you with a substantial meal. You look as if you’ve been in the wars …and you seem half starved,”

“I wouldn’t want to impose on you, Miss Maybury,” he replies, grateful for her discretion in not asking awkward questions,

“Sandwiches or some of your leftovers would be welcome though,” he smiles at her, conscious of his odd appearance.

Martha folds her hands in front of her,

“Your previous room is unoccupied. I’ll get it ready. You have no luggage?” she asks. Michael shakes his head.

“Our nephew often stays here with us. I’ll see if some of his clothes might suit you and then I’ll take those things away for cleaning – if you don’t mind,” she gives a nod towards his dusty jacket and denim shirt with the faintest purse of her lips.

“I would be most grateful,” he concedes, “I have an important rendezvous tomorrow night and I would prefer to look presentable. Would they be ready by then?”

Dolores stares up at them in sullen dumbness, her long manicured fingernails digging into the coverlet.  Martha nods agreement and turns to leave just as Mary arrives, carrying a large silver tray laden with a teapot, steam rising from its spout, a plate piled high with neatly-cut sandwiches and a brandy glass containing a generous splash from the bottle. Panting slightly, she edges the tray onto the bedside table, using it to nudge the clock and lamp out of the way. Once she sees it is stable she reaches into the pocket of her apron and removes a small blue, glass bottle, offering it to Michael,

“Smelling salts,” she whispers, as if in confidence. Michael takes it with an amused grin, as Dolores gives a short grunt of disapproval.

“Many thanks. I’ll pour Miss Todesfall  some tea, and keep an eye on her for a little while – to see if she’s quite recovered,” he gives a small bow indicating a subtle dismissal. Mary hesitates, wringing her hands gently, but withdraws to the door,

“Martha will make you some supper and if there’s nothing else you need I’ll go and prepare your room,” she adds, closing the door softly and leaving them alone.

Immediately, Dolores swings her legs over the side of the bed and raises herself into a sitting position. She adjusts her nylons and smooths down her silky hair, regarding Michael sourly.

“I see you’re feeling much better Dolores,” he begins, pulling a chair up to the bedside table and taking up the glass of brandy from the tray. He takes a hefty swig, gives a satisfied exhalation, and helps himself to the sandwiches.

“Cup of tea? Shall I be ‘mother’?” he asks her mockingly, and gulping down the the sandwich he takes up the teapot and pours a stream of fragrant liquid into one of the delicate teacups. He plops in a cube of sugar, adds milk and hands the cup to Dolores. She lifts the spoon from the saucer and gives her tea a delicate stir, but her eyes don’t leave Michael’s face.imagesCAK7BQKV

“Well, this is all very civilized,” she says coldly, “But when does the rough stuff begin?” Michael takes the brandy glass from his mouth, feigning surprise, “Rough stuff?” he asks, casually leaning back in his chair.

“You’re a Dei-man, aren’t you?” she adds by explanation. “Presumably you intend to keep me prisoner until the others arrive, and then, when the time comes, force us to manipulate the Unifying Field for you? I doubt your methods of persuasion will be pleasant,”

“Something like that,” he agrees, taking another sip of brandy. “And if you don’t behave, I’ll give you a hit of the smelling salts Miss Mary Maybury handed me – don’t say I didn’t warn you!”

Dolores looks momentarily surprised, a crack in her smooth carapace of self-possession. Then sips her tea, swirling it around the bottom of her cup. Ignoring his remark she asks, “So, have the others taken Lilith?”

“Others’?” Michael asks warily,

Dolores looks up impatiently, “We’ve seen the other Dei-men sneaking around town. Lilith was on the lookout for them tonight, but perhaps it was you she sensed?”

Michael puts down the brandy glass and leans forward in his chair, eyeing Dolores intently,

“What have you seen? Be precise!” he insists.

She regards him curiously, “Well, if you want to play this game…” she shrugs, “That horrid, preening peacock who insinuated himself into the criminal underworld,”

“Tabbris Scorretto? He’s here?” Michael growls, “And his tight-lipped henchman – Forcas, is he here too?”

Dolores takes a moment before answering, gracing him with a faintly insolent smile, “I do believe so…”

“Damn!” Michael flings himself back in his chair. Somehow Tabbris and Forcas had learned of the imminent space/time rift and were sniffing about. What did they know about his supposed ‘shooting’?  This was a complication. He looks up to see Dolores watching him keenly. She takes another sip of tea. Michael sits regarding her – she feigns a quiet nonchalance, intended to disconcert him.

“Well Dolores,” he begins, “The Dei-men tracked you down a while ago and had you tied up all pretty in a place in California. How DID you get away from them, and what did you tell them before you did?”

She looks up, then holds out her cup to him, “I’d really like some more tea before we discuss all that,” she smiles. Michael takes the teacup, maintaining his veneer of civility,

“Certainly. Again with milk and sugar?”

“Yes, just the same.  It was most refereshing,” she purrs. But taking the tea from him, her demeanour alters. She begins to tap a lacquered fingernail impatiently against the handle of the cup.

“They were typically oafish in California… You Dei-men – you grasped the idea that if you could subjugate us, the Pitchfork scientists, you could somehow coerce us into manipulating the Unifying Field to suit your whims!” she spits out, flaring up suddenly.

“All you could comprehend was the potential power it would give you! But you see, it was not about power – not for me,” she gazes at him angrily,

“It was about fearless scientific curiosity! Who would not want to know what gave rise to the universe – what kind of consciousness brought matter into being – is there is an overriding intention behind creation? Can we influence the fabric of reality in some way? If you were able to unravel these mysteries would you not do so? Would you not fight to know the answers to these – the most ancient of questions? But the imperious Dei, who had encouraged our intellectual endeavours, saw fit to deny us this last, most revealing of journeys – to treat us like narcissists, trespassers and criminals! Bah! The craven mediocrity of their vision!”  she tosses her teacup to the ground in a gesture of disgust,

“Let’s not be peevish, Dolores, it really doesn’t suit you,” Michael slowly shakes his head at her outburst.

“Now, pick up that teacup and make nice. This is no way to repay the kind ministrations of the Maybury ladies, is it?” he says coldly. Dolores glares at him, remaining motionless,

“You don’t want me to get the smelling salts out now, do you?”  he adds ominously.

Dolores blinks at him, “What is a matter with you?” she splutters, “You’re making jokes, teasing me with inanities. What are you up to Michael Tego? Are you waiting for that swaggering serpent Scorretto to come and do your dirty work for you?” her voice rises.

“Shhh, for heaven’s sake, control yourself!” Michael interrupts, “Believe me, I am just as unwilling to have Tabbris Scorretto and his henchman show up here as you are. They are not part of my plans at all.” 

The door springs open, making Dolores jump visibly.

“Ha! You didn’t sense my approach, did you?!” Sariel stands in the doorway, wide-eyed and dishevelled, her hands on her hips,

“That was remiss of you. You should be on your guard, not indulging Dolores’ emotional outbursts. That’s her modus operandi you know,” she winks at Michael and pushes back a ringlet of hair from her face before continuing breathlessly,

“I was too late to catch the remaining Pitchfork renegade at Betsy’s house. She was on her way back and he must have had to move fast before she got too close and they got caught out by the ‘darkening’ again. Guess he’d had enough of that kind of pain,” she grins, “But he got the antikythera alright,”

“Good!” Michael nods,

Dolores sits, dumbstruck by this conversation between a Dei-man and a N’geli. It was almost as if these age-old opponents were in cahoots. Something in the ancient scheme of things had become broken. The system had gone awry.

“What is going on here? This is some kind of trick! But…between the Dei-men and the N’geli?” she attempts to control her confusion,

“You want us to find and read the antikytheria? I’m afraid I really don’t understand, and I hate not understanding, so please explain yourselves,” she regains some of her customary composure.

Michael signals for Sariel to close the door and turns to Dolores,

“Your intellectual pride will be gratified to know, that you were right the first time,” he gives her a wry smile, “I want all of the Pitchfork Three together when the rift opens. I want you all to pool your knowledge and see if, after all this time, you can infiltrate your beings into the most fundamental forms of energy and yes, then I want you to do something – I want you to alter reality in one small way, but alter it in the way I ask, and then, I want you to get out. ”

Dolores stares at him for a moment, then begins to laugh,

“You say you want us to influence reality in one event only, and then you want us to stop, and get out of the Unified Field?!” she scoffs, “And once we are in there, what’s to stop us doing what we wish and leaving when we wish? How will you ensure we do as you ask?”

“Because,“ he gives her a lowering stare, “Sariel and I know about the rift too and we’ve left our energy markers on you and your co-ordinates. Sariel can command the whole of the N’geli to come down upon you all at any time. What’s to stop her from doing that right now? Think about what that means for a moment, Dolores. The N’geli are charged with taking you back and delivering you up to the Dei. When the Dei have you again, that will be the end of any further hope for you or any of the Pitchfork to ever enter the Unified Field.”

As if to add emphasis to Michael’s threat, Sariel strides across the room until she is standing over the figure of Dolores Todesfall. She straightens up, folding her arms and gazing loftily down at her, eyes blazing with a fierce glow. Her bouncing, flaxen hair seems to have absorbed light – it flickers with silver flecks. Increasingly, her body begins to emanate a radiant, iridescent aura. The walls of the quiet hotel room begin to vibrate, emitting a low hum. A few flakes of plaster powder down from the ceiling. Dolores, suddenly aware, raises her hands to shield her ears. As Sariel speaks, her voice takes on an unearthly and terrifying timbre, resonating with a swelling, thunderous reverberation. It is the true voice of a N’geli, speaking in one of the old, dead tongues, “Dolor hic tibi proderit olim!” imagesCA0IASUJ

Dolores winces, clutching her head, but Michael remains sedately seated, nodding his agreement, “Quite so Sariel” he says, in a quietly human voice,” It has indeed been ordained by the meaning of her name, ’Dolores’  – “Someday this ‘pain’ will be useful to you”.

Dolores’s lets her hands fall into her lap. Her eyes dull, shoulders slumped in understanding and resignation.

“On the other hand” Michael continues from his chair, “We can allow you to go ahead Dolores. Go into the rift, see if you can find answers to some of your questions – you know you want to – you’ve sacrificed so much for so long to do just that. But you WILL come out when I tell you to and, if you do as I say, we may even let you all go free.”

Dolores’s eyes narrow, her mind grasping at possibilities,

“You’d let us go free?! How can you make sure we keep to our side of the bargain, and how do we know you’ll keep to yours?” she asks warily,

“I’ll make sure you do, because I’m coming into the rift with you,“ he waves away her gasp of protest, “And believe me Dolores, you and Lilith and your elusive third  companion will be you’ll be sorry if you don’t do as I say… very sorry.”

Chapter 17 : THE SHADOW IN THE STREET

 

Dolores opens her mouth to remonstrate but shuts it hurriedly when there is a nervous tap at the door and a pale-faced Mary Maybury totters in,

“Oh, my goodness! What was that awful rumbling? I was across the corridor and I thought the walls were…” she stops dead, surprised to see the additional presence of the willowy woman in a blue-jumpsuit. Sariel is fully human once again. Mary Maybury blinks – taking in the wide, grey eyes and delicate features of the fair-faced young woman. Michael quickly stands up and strides between them,

“Oh, excuse me,“ he begins in an apologetic tone, “Miss Maybury, may I introduce my…colleague,” he states, masking his uncertainty at the description, but Sariel is already approaching the diminutive elderly lady, hand outstretched. A recalcitrant curl falls over twinkling eyes,

“So pleased to meet you Miss Maybury,” she gives Mary a dazzling smile, irresistible in its warmth. Unavoidably charmed, Mary Maybury allows her hand to be grasped in a firm handshake,

“I am Sariel – Sariel Clemens,” her voice is low and reassuring.

“I see, yes..er, Martha let you up?” Mary doesn’t wait for an answer, “Will you be staying with us, Miss Clemens?”

“I hope it will not be inconvenient if I stay in this room with Miss Todesfall. I see that it’s a twin room, so I hope that will not be a problem?” Sariel gives Mary’s hand a further squeeze before releasing it. Clearly, Mary must succumb to the persuasion of Sariel’s direct, silver stare and soothing smile.curly

“Yes, of course! I will let Martha know. Such a plan would be advisable, I’m sure – as Miss Todesfall has been feeling unwell,” she looks over at Dolores, who, although sitting up, looks glum and pale. She nods her agreement.

“Is there anything you might need, Miss Clemens? Perhaps we could wash and press your clothes too?” she gives a questioning look at Sariel’s creased and spattered jumpsuit. Michael smiles – Mary is certainly the more ingenuous of the two sisters. He guesses that Martha would have noticed how the brown stains on Sariel’s jumpsuit resemble dried blood, and she might also have suspected that Sariel would prefer to remain in the room in order to keep a watch over Dolores for more reasons than solicitude for her health. But the sisters were both dependable in their discretion, ingenuous or not.

“That would be most kind of you,” Sariel looks down, realizing the questionable appearance of her soiled clothes,

“I have no luggage with me,” she fixes Mary with that reassuring gaze, “But I’m sure Dolores will be willing to let me borrow something of hers to wear – a black suit of some kind perhaps – something appropriate for an agent of the FBI?”

Both Michael and Dolores note her statement and regard her sharply for a moment. She is playing along with the ruse – a colleague of Michael’s must also be an FBI agent.

Dolores gives a wry smile, 

“When you’ve attended as many dreary meetings around conference tables in as many boardrooms as I have, in order to deliver bad news,“ she answers haughtily, “One needs to accumulate a varied assortment of black suits” she concludes, “I have a black trouser-suit that would look marvellous on you – and we are the same height and shape, isn’t that a lucky coincidence?” she adds with an edge of sarcasm.

Mary Maybury, slightly puzzled at this exchange, reluctantly turns her gaze once again to Michael,

“I’ve prepared your room across the corridor Agent Tego, and Martha has brought up some of our nephew’s clothes and laid them out on the bed – just some dark pants and a sweatshirt. I hope that might do for now?”

Michael gives a small bow,

“Most considerate of you. May I have a shower and bring these clothes down for you afterwards?”

Mary acknowledges the bow with a slight inclination of her head,

“Certainly. Martha has some wholesome, nutritious soup and dumplings that will be waiting for you whenever you’re ready,”

She looks back at Sariel and gives a shy smile,

“Would you care to join Agent Tego for dinner Miss Clemens? Martha has made enough food to feed an army, I’m sure,”

She shifts her earnest gaze to Dolores,

“Is there anything else you might need Miss Todesfall? Shall I bring up some of the soup and some more tea perhaps?”

Dolores looks up sullenly – Michael responds on her behalf,

“Most kind of you Miss Maybury, I think if Miss Todesfall feels better she can join us downstairs for some soup later, but we would be grateful for some more tea – we seem to have finished it all?”  

Mary nods graciously before she turns to leave the room – the strange tremor within the house that had so disturbed her, now forgotten.

The door closes softly, and as soon as Mary’s muted footfalls die away, Dolores sits up, eager to continue her protestations,

“Listen Tego. You want to enter the rift with us and be subsumed into the Unifying Field?” she shakes her head, “You have no idea what you’re dealing with – you don’t know what you’re risking! We Pitchfork scientists have been preparing for this for over a millennium, and even we don’t know what to expect. And you think you can just jump in? You can’t be serious,” she snorts.

“You heard him correctly,” Sariel shrugs, “That’s exactly what he intends to do – to ‘jump in’ and even more than that – to make changes in this reality,” she turns away with a sigh of resignation, “He has his reasons and he won’t be dissuaded, believe me, I took drastic measures to try to do just that.”

Michael frowns up at her, his fingers rising to touch his temple in an involuntary gesture, the residual memory of the blast to his head,

“She certainly did, and it was a most unpleasant, time-consuming and ultimately pointless experience. As you can see Dolores, I am totally serious,” Michael regards her steadily, sitting back down in the armchair opposite the bed and intertwining his fingers loosely in his lap.

“If I’m not mistaken you are the keeper of the ‘R’ information of the Pitchfork RED findings?” he continues,

Dolores stares at him in sullen silence,

“I’ll take that as a ‘yes’,” he says, ”You have been holding all aspects of the ‘Revolution’ information implanted in your mind for a very long time…You have become an embodiment of ‘revolution’ Dolores – an instigator of change, and yes, change is often ‘painful’, “ he smiles grimly,

“You can’t escape your name Dolores, your ‘designation’, or the information you have been retaining inside you for this very long time. The information you all uncovered was split between you, the Pitchfork RED scientists, Revolution, Evolution, Dissolution – the three tenets of reality you were studying? Dormant when separated but invaluable if linked together. All three of you, holding onto your fragments over time – it seems that you have all been possessed by what you contain. Haven’t you noticed that you’ve developed some pertinent talents Dolores? You’ve grown rich exploiting them? Yes, I know what you’ve become. The FBI is a useful organization to move within, offering access to all kinds of information. I know, for example, you are that discreet yet notorious ‘consultant’ that is called in when the major corporations are failing, when they see some kind of doom on the horizon, down to mismanagement, corruption, bad judgement. They call in a consultant who is ruthless enough to get results – one who has an uncanny sense of the appropriate changes to make that will get them out of trouble.  And your success rate is exemplary.”

Dolores smooths back her glossy hair and gives a nod of acknowledgement,imagesCAV0GCBP

“It seems that you’ve done your homework, Mr FBI man. Yes, I tell them what has to change. I turn their comfortable, little worlds upside down, if necessary. I advise on pruning away the ‘dead wood’, on reorganization, on downsizing – I have… an instinct… about what must be adjusted,”

Michael’s eyes gleam darkly,

“That’s what I will need you to do for me. I will need you to make some drastic changes to alter recent reality.”

Dolores regards him suspiciously,

“You’d better explain what it is you mean, Michael Tego, and tell me – what do you need from the others? Undoubtedly, you also know that Lilith is the one who is adept at evolution. She can take an idea, an object, a situation and ‘Evolve’ it, refine it – perfect it so it fits the task it is meant for?”

Michael nods,

“Lilith is integral to my needs,”

Dolores tilts her head and looks at him pointedly,

“But our last component – would you really want to use him? I hardly think so… I can understand R. for Revolution and change, E. for Evolution and adaptation, but D? Why would you need that? ” she waits for his answer,

“Dissolution? – The ability held by the most enigmatic and elusive carrier of the Pitchfork three? On the contrary Dolores – he is the one I will need first of all, and yes, we know the last of you is male. I think by holding you and Lilith, and by allowing you to access the oncoming rift in time/space, we might finally entice him to make an appearance,”

Dolores sits up and regards Michael Tego for some moments before speaking,

“I think you had better explain exactly what you intend to do, and why,”

“The ‘why’ is my business.  Sariel knows some of my intentions but I suppose now is the time I should lay out my plan to both of you fully, as it may be my last chance to do so. So… I invite you both to make yourselves comfortable – I will need your full attention…”

 

 

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Michael Tego stands motionless under the showerhead, allowing hot water to surge over his hair, flattening it slickly across his closed eyes. The spray pummels him with a gentle pressure, pleasantly assertive, not forceful. The warmth of the water begins to penetrate the taut muscles of his chest and shoulders and he feels them untense. The last hours have been a testing time.

shower-head-waterThe warm liquid flowing down his head in rivulets seems to melt away the tumult of plans and their consequences that had been fermenting inside his brain. The burden of preparation slides down his body, dissolving in the stream. A sense of release and acceptance floods in with the melting warmth – now, it must all play out, one way or another.

He had discovered during his sojourn, that there were unexpected and subtle pleasures to be found within this cumbrous, fleshly enclosure – even the simple comfort of steaming water on weary muscles.

Some minuscule change in air-pressure, or an almost imperceptible freshening of the surrounding scent, alerts him to the fact that he is no longer alone, but he senses no danger. Blinking the water from his eyes he turns to peer out through the glass partition, now filmed by condensation.  A willowy figure wavers behind the steamy haze, topped by a halo of shimmering gold. Unselfconsciously, he moves the partition aside and looks questioningly at the intruder.

Sariel is standing, arms folded, looking svelte in Dolores’ black trouser-suit. She regards him with a slight tilt of the head, eventually rewarding him with a slow smile.

“What do you think of me in black? Do I look serious enough to pass for an agent of the FBI?” She spreads her arms and twirls to give him a better view of her more formal attire. He nods approvingly,

“The outfit is good, but you will have to do something a little more prim with your hair. It will be a pity to curb those unruly golden curls, but…if you want to fit in…”

Sariel observes him seriously,

“I will have to try. If things go according to your plan, I’ll have a challenging job ahead of me,”

“I’m taking a huge risk by putting so much trust in you Sariel, but then again, it’s in your destiny to be a guide and a healer…and a bringer of benevolent death…”

A shadow seems to pass across her face and her eyes darken. After a moment of silence between them, she states in a low voice,

“Sic Fiet – ‘so shall it be done’,”

“If you are here watching me, who’s watching Dolores?” Michael asks.

“Oh, don’t you worry,” her smile breaks the tension,

“I don’t think Dolores is going to go anywhere. She’s far too committed to the idea of being allowed into the rift, but she’s nervous, not surprisingly. I supervised her cell-phone call to Lilith. She gave her a particularly vivid description of the situation– very colourful. I imagine Lilith has got the message, and undoubtedly, if we calculated correctly, she’ll be in contact with the third party very soon. The chance is too tempting for the women, I’m sure of it. Do you think they’ll risk warning him off and losing this opportunity?”

Michael shrugs, sending some water spray bouncing off his back. He turns to shut off the shower. The room becomes quiet, save for the dripping of his hair.

“Oh, he’ll be there, I’m practically sure of it – but his reasons are different.” Michael shuts his eyes and becomes very still, his brow wrinkling in concentration. After a moment of silence,  he continues,

“He has something in mind – something less benevolent. There’s a darkness which walks alongside him. It’s been there for a long time. Waiting, like a succubus, to pounce…to consume…What has happened to him while carrying his burden? Can’t you feel it Sariel? ” Michael’s eyes snap open, filled with a dull, argentate glow, and with distaste.

imagesCAXBOR03Sariel shifts her position uneasily,

“I feel something… oppressive – something cheerless. I thought perhaps it was just tension about what’s coming up for us? But no, you’re right. I’ve been pushing it away. He’s close.

I feel like I could go back into your room and look out of your window and see him across the street – or at least glimpse him. A shadow, a twist of smoke – fluctuating in and out of reality – flitting between potentialities – hovering, semi-visible, like a ghost. Just on the edge of consciousness, like a bad dream…” she shudders.

Michael looks at her,

“Because that’s exactly where he is. It’s his preferred state.”

She nods.

“I knew he was close when Dolores began to feel ill again. It’s almost as if he enjoys creating discomfort, and as if he revels in his own. He is perverse! I understand what you mean – he can’t stay away…” her mouth untitledtrembles slightly with revulsion.

“I left Mary and Martha fussing around Dolores. I encouraged Mary to chat to her about the history of the town and the hotel, and Martha was keeping a wary eye on her while pouring the tea. Not much gets past Martha.

“But for now, I have another question for you Michael Tego?” she smiles shyly, breaking the tension,

He regards her inquisitively,

“Have you ever tried out the body that you’ve been inhabiting for so long? I mean, have you ever explored all of its ‘human’ potential for pleasure?”

He looks slightly taken aback,

“Well, that is changing the subject, if I understand you correctly Sariel,” he gives a hesitant grin, “If you mean sexual entanglements – you know that might have been dangerous, at least, with a human partner?”

“I thought as much,” she shakes her head, “Me neither, because it might be dangerous….with a ‘human’ partner,” she looks up at him, a silver glint in her eyes, “But have you never been curious? And, as we are…not quite human?” she looks again at his naked body behind the now clearing glass partition, “You chose a rather attractive body, I have always thought so. Do you approve of mine?”

“I always have approved of you Sariel, even when you have been most troublesome,” he laughs, “And your lovely body reflects your inner light. It did not make it any easier to accept the aggravation of your opposition.”

“We are not in opposition now, ” she smiles archly, “Perhaps we should take this chance to cement our hard-won and rather unusual alliance in a particularly ‘human’ way? Especially, since, after tomorrow, we may never again have the opportunity.”

Michael steps from the shower, steaming and dripping, and begins to unbutton Sariel’s expensive black suit.

To be continued…

Comments
  1. Jason says:

    Wonderful imagery. I love the way the movements of the characters have real effects on the physics of their environment. One feels right in the action and, as always, I want to know what happens next!

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