"Yves, Ursula," Dee said to the odd couple goggling at him in the hallway. "You guys okay?" He scrutinized Ursula's face. Her eyes were hidden behind the fog filming her wide, oval glasses. "Ursula?"
Yves followed Dee's gaze. "Ursula, how're you doing?" Her hand squeezed his until his knuckles ground together. "Everything okay?"
"Yeah," Ursula gulped. "Still gay." She nodded. "I'm impressed but still gay." She surrendered Yves' hand. "Just having a strong flashback, sorry."
"Ursula?" The green girl peeped over her shoulder. "Oh, it's the pharmaceutria from two doors down. Hey."
Ursula started at the term but raised a palm. "Uh. Hey."
The green girl shifted her weight in Dee's arms to leer up at Yves. A sheaf of agate dreadlocks fell over her eyes. "Why hullo there," she drawled. "You're Vigo? A guy like you, staying home playing computer games all night?" She shook her head. "What a crime."
Yves laughed, massaging his hand. "I'm Yves. Upstairs neighbor. Favorite video game: Ms. Pac-Man."
She tipped her head. "Nice to finally meet you two."
Ursula turned away, muttering, "Pharmaceutria."
Dee held the green girl away from his chest to look her in the eye. "I would've introduced you to my friends if you'd ever let me out of the apartment."
"Friends?" The green girl's brow wrinkled. "You have friends?"
"Very funny." Dee rolled his shoulders. The green girl gasped, giggled, and decanted from his arms onto the floor. The cheap carpet wilted and browned under her feet.
Yves marveled at how she moved, sumptuous, feline and somehow familiar. Dee. The green girl sinuated herself under Dee's right arm and nested in the hollow of his shoulder. She moves like Dee does. She purred, her gel flesh smooching against his, a leopard lazing against her favored tree. Or does Dee move like her? He's always moved like that, at least a little or whenever he gets worked up about something, hasn't he?
Dee grinned down at her. "Meet my girlfriend, guys. Honey, these are the guys."
"Just after the nick of time," the green girl sighed, "like always." Dee's right hand disappeared behind her back and she squealed, jumped, and wriggled—No, she's oscillating, Yves realized. Her jelled curves rollicked in the aftershock. It's not a sex kitten act; it's colloid physics. She moves that way even standing still, the poor girl.
Ursula wiped the dew from her glasses on a sleeve. "Galatea, you don't look anything like…" Yves pinched her on the elbow. "…Yves said you would." She glared at him and dodged a second pinch. "You're years younger and a lot shorter than I expected."
The green girl, still undulating against Dee, arched an eyebrow at Yves. "Real subtle."
Yves shrugged. "I'm not worried about subtle. I've got two accomplices. Right, Dee?"
Dee tore his gaze away from the green girl's shimmying chest. "Huh?"
The green girl's face clouded over.
"See?" Yves grinned. "We were just wondering if Galatea was all right, considering everything that happened." His smile fell when he saw the green girl's expression. "Galatea, what is it?"
The green girl fluttered a hand around her throat. "You called me 'Honey,'" she said, staring up at Dee. "You've never called me that before. Have you?"
"I have." Dee cupped her chin. "I'm sorry."
She trembled. "I've lost the first time you called me 'Honey.'"
"We'll get it back," Dee told the green girl. "We'll get all of you back."
"Is it amnesia?" Yves asked.
The green girl shook her head and clung to Dee's side.
"It's a lot more complicated than that," Dee explained. "There are things that happened to Galatea that she's never experienced. And she hasn't just lost Galatea's memories; she's got a bunch of the wrong ones."
"I don't understand," Ursula said. Yves nodded in agreement.
Dee sighed. "It's best if we start over, with proper introductions." He gave the green girl a reassuring squeeze. "Okay?"
"Okay," she said, sniffled and stepped forward.
"Ursula, Yves," Dee said, "I'd like you to meet my beloved, Eurydice."
A myrtle blush flushed Eurydice's bare breasts and flashed up her throat. Yves and Ursula recoiled from a sudden flare of heat, retreating sideways into the dingy dead-end of the long hall. Dee turned but Eurydice squirmed and fled behind him, yipping, "Sorry, sorry!" Yves could only see the daggered points of her hair quivering behind Dee's neck as she spoke. "I'm so sorry. Dammit, Dee!"
Dee flinched under a splattered drubbing against his back. "Ow. What, what?"
"Dee, I can't believe you named me in front of your friends! You know how much that turns me on!" A few rivulets of green syrup spilled over Dee's hunching shoulders and rolled down his sinewy, naked frame. "So few men ever live long enough to name me and the one that gets to name me twice turns out to be an idiot."
"I understand even less now," Ursula said, pressing her palm against her forehead.
"You’re not alone." Yves sidled as close as he could in the baking heat. "Dee, Ursula and I just risked our lives saving you and your girlfriend's asses, and I know it's not over yet—but I have no idea what happened in there." He stood on tiptoe to stare down at Eurydice from over Dee's shoulder, "Are you Galatea or not?"
"Hey," Dee started.
"Shut up," Ursula said, her back still flat against the beige wall. "Let Sherlock do his thing."
Eurydice propped her chin on Dee's brawny back to glare up at Yves. "I am Galatea." Her brow crinkled. "And a few others, too. Dee brought us back." The nervous writhing of her medusa's hair grew more purposeful, the tips of her snaking dreadlocks exploring the cords of Dee's neck. "I mean Dee brought me back from just a few nanomek…"
Ursula said, "What's—" but Yves muttered, "Magic powder, raw material for meliae magic, makes girls out of goo. Move on."
"Oh!" Ursula jumped away from the wall and babbled. "There's a material component for summoning nymphs? Is it the massa confusa? Does it only make female things? Can I have some?"
"Massa what?" Dee said, "Cherry Cupcake called it novilunium."
"Novilunium, really? Why doesn't anyone tell me these things? Can I have some?" Ursula bounced on her feet. "Actually, that connection makes a lot of sense. Seriously, though, can I have some?" She frowned. "Wait, who's Cherry Cupcake?"
"Oh my God," Dee cried, "you mean you don't know?"
Yves and Eurydice chorused, "Shut the fuck up!"
Yves blinked. Eurydice poked her head around Dee's left arm and grinned like a madwoman up at Yves. "They talk way too much, don't they? How do we get rid of them?"
Yves shook his head. "I'd shake your hand if it weren’t three hundred degrees."
"Time to cool off, then." She stepped out from Dee's shadow. "Dee, go hose yourself down and then bring me some ice. I don't need much—I'm very energy efficient—but only if you're not around getting me hot and bothered."
Dee glanced down to give her a wry smile. "Yes, dear."
Eurydice slapped him on his bare rump when he turned about-face and marched back into Bee's smoldering apartment. "Ooh, I shouldna done that," she said, touching the tips of her fingers to her lips. The gelled blades of her hair stuck together and a green sugar glaze ran down her forehead. "I'll need more ice, solid boy!"
Ursula whistled. "Wow, I knew you'd got it bad, but not that bad."
"Have you seen that man's ass?" Yves asked.
"I wasn't looking," Ursula admitted.
Eurydice hooked her thumb at the apartment door. "Go check it out."
Ursula rolled her eyes. "Fine, I get the point." She disappeared into the misty apartment and squeaked, "Holy shit!" Yves and Eurydice exchanged worried looks. "Look at this mess!" Yves gave Eurydice the thumbs-up.
"So," Eurydice sighed, peeling her sticky clumps of hair apart into a forest of shimmering dreadlocks. "How much time we got, do you think?"
Yves watched her shake out her jade mane. She's green. She's made out of Jell-O. She's real. "Just a few minutes, but that's not the real worry." The real worry is you're God-damned made out of God-damned Jell-O. He glanced down the hallway. "The real worry is morning rush hour." No, the real worry is I'm talking to a girl made out of Jell-O as if I meet one every day waiting in line at Starbucks. Well, at least this one isn't fisting my dick and my ass at the same time like the last one did. "There are only two other apartments along this hallway since the rental office is on this floor, and both Kay and this Esteban guy are…gone…but someone's bound to notice all this collateral damage. We're supposed to have security, but somehow they've missed all this. So stop showing off and give it to me straight."
Eurydice cocked her head to one side at a ninety degree angle. "If you stop feeding me a line of bullshit, and tell me what you're really thinking, I'll stop showing off."
"I'm thinking security didn't notice because Cherry Cupcake ate them, like she ate Bee, and possibly Esteban, Kay, and God knows how many other people. Ate them for their collagen; human bones and fibers are loaded with the stuff. That's why she was as strong as Dee, maybe stronger, when they duked it out."
Eurydice's eyes clouded and brimmed. "Did Dee…I mean, was he—"
"Ready? Yes. He was ready. Galatea prepared him well. I saw the video." Yves smiled as kindly as he could. "It was a pornographic version of the Karate Kid training montage, a black belt in goojitsu via four day fuck-a-thon. My turn: How many men sublimated before you found Dee, found the one that could go all the way?"
Her sadness flipped into a visage of shock. "Dee videotaped us?"
Yves snorted. "Dee? Never, and you know it. Bee rigged a webcam from his bedroom into yours. It's hosed now. Melted into slag."
Her mock shock downshifted into real regret. "Aw, damn. I would've loved to see that."
Yves smiled but his eyes were hard. "Answer the question: How many men?"
Eurydice shrugged. "Most of them, I guess."
Yves laughed. "That's not the kind of answer I was looking for."
"That's the only kind you're going to get," Eurydice said, "because I don't know. I don't remember everything, even now. Especially now."
"But you said 'most,' so a few meliae-makers before Dee have gone all the way with you instead of sublimating. Dee isn't the first, after all." That might explain her speaking in tongues.
She smirked. "You really like that pun."
Yves shushed her. I bet I can put it all together now. "You remember at least three. Let me guess:" Greek. "Hercules."
"Now who's showing off?" she said, but nodded. "And it's 'Heracles,' if you please. He had thirteen labors, you know, not twelve. No one ever remembers the first one."
"Very funny." Latin. "Romulus."
"And Remus, too." She winked at him. "My one and only twosome, other than Gilgamesh and Enkido. Tag-teaming's more trouble than it's worth. Dee's already made me cum more than all four of those bozos ever did, and we're just getting started and I've lost half my memories of him."
She's trying to distract me. "And, uh…" It's working "Damn, I don’t know."
"Oh yes you do, Yves." She stressed his name and arched her brow.
"Better not be John Donne," Yves said.
"No," Eurydice laughed. "Gawain." Her grin was wistful. "He was almost as hard and good as Dee. Mm, almost. His friend was kinda cute, too."
"Wait. 'Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.' The green knight. You?"
"Kinda sorta almost," Eurydice said, rocking to and fro on every word.
"The same way you're kinda sorta almost Galatea?"
Her hips froze in mid swing and her smile vanished. "I am Galatea."
"You mean Galatea is in there with you."
Eurydice stamped her foot, setting off temblors in her many curves. "That's not how it works at all."
Yves crossed his arms. "Then tell me how it does work." Eurydice huffed and heaved. "You can stop the T and A show. Dee and Ursula will be back any minute now, though, and you'll get a captive audience out of the two of them, I promise you."
"Fine, fine." The turbulence in her tits and ass smoothed out. "Nanomek memory is holographic."
Eurydice flicked a hand at him. "Pfft, don't you start. I mean one iota of nanomek contains enough info to reconstruct the whole shebang."
"But when Dee brought you back," Yves said, "something went wrong, the nanomek went down the wrong reconstruction path a few times and brought back fragments of the wrong shebang before it found Galatea. Hey, that's your pun, not mine, so don't blame me for using it. So what went wrong?"
Eurydice turned away. "I don't know."
"Was it Galatea?" Yves guessed. Eurydice shivered but stayed silent and Yves plunged ahead. "Galatea's not sure she wants to come back."
Eurydice spun to face Yves, hair writhing, her glare thunderous. "I wanted to come back. I did come back. I am Galatea."
"But you don't remember how Dee left you." He reached for her shoulders and found them shaking and cool as marble. "What he said, what he did, and what happened after. But there is a part of you—the whole of you, really, because you're the part and she's the whole—there's a Galatea out there that does remember. And Cherry Cupcake has her. And Dee wants her back."
"I hate you," Eurydice sobbed. "I hate you. I could ask Dee to kill you. And he would!" She batted her fists against Yves' stomach as she cried. "Gilgamesh killed Enkido, Romulus killed Remus, Gawain killed Yvain, and Dee will kill you!"
"Is that how this always ends?" Yves demanded. Eurydice wriggled in his grip but Yves would not relent. "A tragic fairy tale? Galatea divided? Friends and brothers dead?" 'Yvain?' Who the Hell was Yvain?
"I don't know. I don't know!" Eurydice threw her arms around Yves and hugged herself to his chest. Her face and breasts were cool but her core still burned. "What if Dee finds Galatea and she wants him but we can't re-assimilate? I couldn't share him, I'd go mad. Or, God, what if we do re-assimilate and I don't want him any more? That would be worse, so much worse."
Yves cradled her head as she wept. "It won't end that way," he told her, "not this time. Dee's different than the others, you said so yourself. And I'm different, too."
Eurydice snuffled and looked up at him. "What do you mean?"
"Cherry Cupcake," Yves said, pulling away from her a few inches to escape the furnace below her belly. "She's always involved too, right?"
"That depends," Eurydice said. "Is Cherry Cupcake Dee's psycho bitch ex-girlfriend from Hell?"
Yves nodded. "Yeah, that's her. Like Gawain and Morgan le Fey. Hercules…I mean Heracles and, uh, Medea."
Eurydice laughed once between sniffles. "You've got your myths all mixed up."
"This is Ursula's area, not mine," Yves said. "I took English for Engineers in college. The names don’t matter, but listen: Dee did not screw around with Cherry Cupcake. She came to him disguised but he figured it out and rejected her before anything was fully consummated. That's not why he and Galatea broke up. Hell, they didn't really break up at all. They had a row, a lover's quarrel, that's all."
Eurydice gasped and leapt away, her fingers fluttering about her throat. "He didn't…You mean they didn't…?"
"Dee figured out Galatea fed him nanomek. He freaked. They had their first fight, and Dee stormed out to get roaring drunk."
Eurydice's eyes were as wide as saucers. "And he didn't sleep with Cherry Cupcake? With you? Anybody?"
"No, although he had to fight off potential psycho ex-girlfriends with a stick." And now I know why: to fit the fairy tale. "I wasn't one of them, thank you very much."
"Then what the fuck happened?"
"What usually happens when women throw themselves at Dee: absolutely nothing. It just made him mopey and piney…for you."
Relieved laughter bubbled out of her. "I knew he was different! I knew he could be the one!" She jumped up and kissed Yves on the cheek, leaving a warm, gooey green lip-print. "I wish he could have done it some other way than moping and pining. You're not smiling, Yves," she realized. "What are you not telling me?"
"When Dee rejected Cherry Cupcake, she raped me," Yves said, voice flat.
"Oh my God. Oh, Yves, I'm so sorry." She nestled back into his chest and held him close for a long while before muttering, "I'm going to kill the bitch."
Yves hesitated before he ruffled his fingers through her hair, a mop of thick, velvety rope. "No macho bullshit."
Ursula staggered through the doorway to Bee's apartment, shreds of metal scraping across the floor. Green flakes of plaster speckled her hair. "It's Hell on Earth in there."
Eurydice winked up at Yves and turned to face her. "How's Dee?"
"The walls are gone," Ursula said. "Just green gunk, stained cement, and support beams. Like walking inside the ribcage of a giant, rotting corpse."
Eurydice revolved a finger in an unmistakable wrap-it-up gesture. "How's Dee?"
"There's water running everywhere," Ursula said, staring past Eurydice's left ear. "All the porcelain and plastic in the bathroom melted into lumps. Even the toilet."
"Ursula," Yves said, "where's Dee?"
Ursula ran shaky fingers over her braids, knocking out the plaster. "He stood in the water splashing into the hole where the tub should have been. The water was cold." She met Eurydice's gaze for the first time. "I could hear things…cracking…inside him as he cooled off. He said it felt great, like whole-body chiropractics. When he was done, he reached up and pinched the pipe shut." She reached above her head and pinched the air with a thumb and forefinger.
"Sorry," Yves said, "I should have warned you."
"What did you think of his ass?" asked Eurydice.
"I've got ice," Dee declared, waltzing through the doorway with a mostly-melted plastic bowl full of ice cubes. "The freezer shorted out a few minutes ago, so there's a little more if you need it." He stepped around Ursula and passed the bowl of ice to Eurydice. "I've stopped the leaks in the bathroom, but there's like three inches of water in the bedroom."
Eurydice grabbed a modest handful of ice from the bowl and munched on it like popcorn. She tipped her head to regard Ursula. "Well?"
Ursula blinked and glanced downward, pulling her glasses to the very tip of her nose. "Nice ice." She straightened up. An ice cube bounced off her forehead. Eurydice catcalled and threw another cube at her. Ursula ducked and it sailed overhead.
Dee stood still, a naked, human maypole, as the two girls bobbed and weaved around him, ice cubes flying. "What now?" he said over Eurydice's howls and cackles.
"I go get you some clothes," Yves said. He deflected an ice cube with a casual swipe of his open palm.
Eurydice readied her last cube, squinting at Yves. "Shove it, samurai." The icy projectile flew. Yves caught it an inch in front of his eyes and Euyrdice said, "Ooh—ow!" when the returned volley struck her in the nose.
Dee frowned. "Clothes."
"You are buck naked, you know," Ursula pointed out.
Dee's frown deepened. "Yeah."
"Last time you were naked in front of me," Yves said, "you blushed like a school girl."
Eurydice leered at Dee, eyes roving. "He's meant to be naked. Wait." She turned on Yves. "Naked in front of you? You weren't naked, too, right?" Her eyes narrowed and she readied the empty bowl. "Right?"
"You'll need some clothes as well, green girl," Yves told her. "We've got to get out of here before anyone can connect us with Bee's disappearance and all this destruction."
"If you look up in Bee's bedroom," Ursula said, "you see Dee's bedroom ceiling. It's green, too. And arterial red. Security's not going to call the super; they're going to call the fucking cops."
"Worry about it later," Dee insisted. "Yves's right; we've got to go. We've got to go to SRU."
Eurydice leapt between the three of them. "How's this?" She reached behind her neck and pulled. An olive, pullover hoodie stretched over her head and down to her waist. Drab, baggy fatigues unrolled over her legs and tucked themselves into green army boots, dark enough to pass for black. Eurydice reached into a pocket of her fatigues and drew out an oversized pair of tea-green, wraparound, Onasis sunglasses. She pushed them over her face, tucking a few stray tentacles into the olive hood.
Yves swore and stepped back. Ursula just boggled in silence. Eurydice turned to Dee, one hand on her hip, twirling the plastic bowl with the other. "Well?"
"You look like the Unabomber." Dee glanced down. "With a really nice rack."
The bowl clomped upside down onto the carpet before Dee's feet. Eurydice hopped atop her makeshift pedestal and bussed his forehead. "I can be anything you want," she said, her kiss on Dee's mouth lingering until Yves cleared his throat, "as long as it's green."
Dee looked at her with his inscrutable smile. "You don't remember the food coloring."
"Ooh, food coloring?" Eurydice clapped her hands. "Wuzzat?"
Yves cleared his throat louder. "The, uh, Unabomber thing will work great at a distance, but up close the clothes look, well, rubbery. That's not the right word. Fluid?"
Ursula found her voice. "Cartoon. She looks like a living cartoon."
Eurydice turned a sly eye to Dee. "Do I?"
Dee placed a hand on her hip. "Yes."
Eurydice reached down and slid Dee's hand back from her hip to the seat of her pants. "That's a good thing, isn't it?"
"God, yes." Dee pulled her off the pedestal. She squealed into his mouth, her legs kicked up into the air.
"God help us," groaned Yves. "They're worse than teenagers."
Ursula moved over to Yves. "Give them a minute—we've got a minute, right? Well, give it to them. You didn't see Galatea in full cartoon cosplay mode. It sticks in your head." She shifted her weight. "And other places."
"Still," Yves said, "all she needs is one genuine article of clothing and no one other than the cops or campus patrol will look twice. Do you have anything to give her?"
Dee murmured into Eurydice's ear and she sighed and giggled quiet replies. Yves felt the urgent need to brush his teeth.
"Are you kidding?" Ursula clutched the air before her chest, fingers curved inward. "Dee likes her big and busty, and all she's thinking about is him. Besides, I'm a size 2."
"We'll risk it, then," Yves decided. "But no food coloring or we'll have to hose Dee down." He raised his voice. "Guys, I'm going to my apartment to get Dee something to wear. You need to stay here, it's the most isolated place in the building and everyone's heading off to work now. Hopefully. Ursula, unless you need anything from your apartment, you should stay with them."
"I'd really like to change," Ursula said, "and if you want me to find Galatea, I'm going to need a few minutes to prepare the divination."
Eurydice sprang out of Dee's arms. "Wait. What?"
"You can find Galatea?" Dee asked.
Yves dropped a hand on her shoulder but Ursula shrugged it off. "Sure," she said. "Galatea established a sympathetic connection with me when she, ah, used the soap I made you."
"A sympathetic connection," Dee repeated, uncomprehending, while Eurydice said, "You made him soap?"
"At the trace stage of saponification process," Ursula explained, "I add an extra series of distilled oils and herbal essences—not that shampoo bullshit, the real thing, camphor basil, Jupiter's Beard, myrrh oil—anyway, a series of oils and essences that resonate with my nativity." She glanced around. "None of you understood a word I just said, did you?"
"Translation, please," Yves said.
"Let me revel in the moment for a second." Ursula bopped back and forth, humming. "It's wonderful to be on this side of a conversation for once. Okay. I gave Dee some soap. The soap has a magic tracer in it. Galatea ate it. I can use magic to trace her. I'm an apothecary, a pharmaceutria, a 'sorceress'," she said, enunciating each syllable and drawing out each sibilant, as if tasting the word for the first time. She threw her hands in the air. "I'm a witch!"
She stood in silence, arms high.
"Oh," said Dee.
Eurydice shrugged. "Meh."
"I'm going upstairs," Yves said.
"Fuck you," Ursula said, arms dropping. "Fuck you all."
"And then Dee said, 'Ready?'" Eurydice recalled. Yves' Jeep bounced over a deep pothole and it took a few moments for the green girl in the backseat to regain her composure. "And then," she said, sunglasses and mouth settling into their proper places and proportions, "it was like giving birth and being born at the same time. He tore me apart. He tore me open. He tore me free. He burned away all the nanomek that I couldn't control, anything that fought back." She blushed black, the flush spreading through the substance of her sunglasses and hoodie. "I gain nanomek by making Dee cum, but I burn nanomek whenever he makes me cum. Everything I do costs me nanomek, but an orgasm costs the most. I don't remember telling him that, but he must have figured it out, because…because he ripped and shredded and fucked me into pieces. The pain was worse than anything I'd ever experienced but I kept cumming and cumming, harder and faster and, God, stronger than anything I've known, than anything any of us have ever imagined in all our thousands of years. It was awful. It was terrific. It was …"
"Sublime," Yves croaked from the driver's seat. "I was wrong. I thought you were sublimating him. I thought you, Dee," he said, turning to Dee in the passenger seat, "had planned to sublime into Galatea in order to bring her back. But I was wrong, wasn't I?" Dee stared at him but said nothing. "When you kicked me out of the bathroom, you already knew. To get Galatea back, you would have to sublimate her."
Eurydice muffled a gasp with the palm of her hand. "Oh, Dee, is that true? Was that sublimation? Was that what subliming feels like?"
Dee twisted in the passenger seat to treat her to his inscrutable smile. "It's a good description of what I've been through a few times, yeah, but I've never gone as far as you did."
Ursula, her eyes shut tight, her voice drifting in from some other world, said, "Two miles to the north, two to the east, one behind the Sun." She shifted in the back seat next to Eurydice. "But don't worry about that last one."
Eurydice's voice barely rose above the rumbling of the road and the Jeep's engine. "All these years. All those men. I don't really remember, I mean, it wasn't really me, but…" She held her head in her hands. "There are echoes of them all in my head."
"Don't feel guilty," Yves told her. He tapped the touch-screen of his GPS navigation gadget. "It's what they wanted."
Eurydice pulled the sunglasses away from her teary eyes. "What?"
"Make a right at next traffic light onto Campion Street, then proceed two point oh three miles," said the clipped, synthetic voice of the GPS.
"Yves is right," Dee said. "You never forced me to do anything, not really. I bet no lime meliae ever forced sublimation onto anyone, either."
Eurydice shook her head hard enough to sprinkle Ursula and the window with tear drops. "The Demonic Fifteen Point—"
Dee bent backwards to grab her hand. "I loved it."
Eurydice stared at his hand wrapped around hers.
"I never said 'No'," Dee said. "Believe me, I know how to say 'No'. You may not remember, but I've said 'No' to you a few times. And 'Pygmalion,' too."
Eurydice opened her mouth to speak but Ursula shouted, "Stop the car!"
Yves swore, hit the brakes, and wrestled the Jeep to the side of the road. "You're worse than this thing," he said, jabbing the GPS.
Ursula turned her head this way and that, eyes shut and lips parted, as if sampling the air. "Galatea's a few hundred yards to the right of us." She opened her eyes and squinted out the plastic window. "We're on fraternity row?"
Yves called up a map on the GPS screen. "The next right turn doubles back into a cul-de-sac. We've found her."
Eurydice shrank into the back seat. "Galatea?"
"And Cherry Cupcake," Yves said, "If we're still assuming she's got Galatea imprisoned somehow."
Dee nodded. "I'm shooting for the Disney lovey-dovey ending: free the enchanted princess." He saw Yves' expression and smiled. "I'll explain later. Listen, should we leave the car here and sneak up?"
"I wouldn't," Yves said. "In case we need to cut and run."
Dee frowned. "I don't want Cherry Cupcake hurting anyone else. Maybe I should go alone."
Eurydice cried out, "No!"
Yves growled, "No fucking way."
"I slept with Galatea," Ursula said.
Eurydice glanced up, agog, before creasing her brow. "Yeahbuhwha'?"
Ursula's mouth worked wordlessly as Dee leaned further into the back of the Jeep. She gawked back at him, transfixed and aghast.
Yves worked the gearshift, speaking as fast as he could. "I have an idea—let's circle the block once and—say, when was the last time you ate—I'm starved and I think I saw a Waffle Shack around here somewhere—"
"I know," Dee said. He twisted sideways and engaged the emergency brake. His gaze did not leave Ursula's shocked face.
Yves flinched but relaxed when the brake handle did not snap off in Dee's hand. "You know…where the Waffle Shack is?"
Dee ignored him. "I know," he told Ursula again.
Ursula swallowed. "What?"
"How?" Yves asked.
Eurydice sized Ursula up, a petite moppet in a black poncho, distressed jeans, and Doc Martins. Plaited ponytails tied up with white-lace ribbons arced away from her head and into the foot well. "I fucked the loli-goth?"
"I'm twenty-two," Ursula murmured.
"How did you know?" Yves demanded, pushing the gearshift forward into park.
"Still," Eurydice said, eyeing Ursula up and down. "You're really not my type, no offense, but…" Ursula folded up one side of the poncho and held a bare, porcelain-white forearm under Eurydice's nose. "Oh," Eurydice breathed, mouth watering.
Dee turned to Yves. "What color are Ursula's eyes?"
"Oh. Um." Eurydice's eye's crossed. She brought her mouth within an inch of Ursula's flesh. "Oh."
"Green," Yves said without looking.
"Darkling green," Dee agreed. "Emerald on black velvet."
Ursula blinked, pulling her arm back. Eurydice's lips smacked together over empty air. "But…" Ursula began.
"They're usually hazel," Dee finished. He broke the sun visor off the windshield, flipped its flap open to reveal an oblong mirror, and passed it back. "They were last week, at least."
Ursula snatched the visor out of his hands, scrabbled the eyeglasses off her face, and glared at the mirror, eyes wide. "Holy shit."
Eurydice leveled a suspicious finger at Ursula. "She smells just like you, Dee. Except, you know, girly."
Yves shook his head. "You're paying for that mirror, Dee. How did you notice something like that when I didn't?"
"Give me some credit, Yves." Dee rolled his eyes and settled back into his seat. "It's an easy mistake to make, the two of you have hardly spoken before today, and I've got a thing for girls' eyes."
Eurydice grinned. "He does, you know," she sighed.
"Listen," Ursula said, her glasses slipping in her shaking fingers as she pushed the red frames over her face, "I didn't mean to tell you. I mean, I wanted to tell you, but telling you now would've been insanely stupid."
Yves nodded. "It was."
"Fuck you." Ursula flipped Yves off. "Dee, listen, maybe it was the divination trance. I've been concentrating on my memories of Galatea and they're pretty, uh, specific. Anyway, the words just popped out. I'm sorry."
"You have nanomek in you," Dee said, not turning around, "Galatea's nanomek."
"Dee, I'm really sorry."
"You don't understand. I'm not jealous at all. That's not the point. You have Galatea's nanomek inside you." He turned around again. "Eurydice?"
Eurydice squinted, looking deep into Ursula's eyes. "Yeah," Eurydice agreed, "she's been royally mindfucked, alright. It's amazing she isn't a zombie." Eurydice straightened Ursula's glasses. "You've got some serious firepower between your ears, sister."
Yves sat bolt upright. "Oh, crap, I get it now."
"That's not all she's got between her ears," Dee said, grinning like an idiot.
The Goth and the green girl crinkled their brows in confusion and chorused, "What?"
Yves met Eurydice's gaze in the rearview mirror. "Dee wants you to re-assimilate with Ursula's nanomek, Eurydice."
Eurydice blanched a pale celadon. "You know what I'd have to do to go in and, uh, get it, right?"
Dee's grin puckered into a smirk. "You've done it before, apparently."
"Whoa, whoa!" Ursula waggled her hands, pressing herself up against the window. "I'm not ready for Lesson Six."
Eurydice locked onto Yves' reflection in the rearview mirror. Yves read her silent, abject plea, nodded, and tapped Dee on the shoulder. "You know, Dee, you're acting awfully cruel for someone who says he isn't jealous."
Dee's smile vanished. "What?"
"I'll do it," Eurydice muttered, downcast, "if you want me too."
"You mean you don't want to?" Dee asked, reaching for her.
Ursula scooted forward and took his hand instead. "What do you want, Dee?"
"A show?" Yves suggested.
Dee shook his head. "No."
Ursula shrugged. "Revenge?"
"No, Jesus, what's with you guys?"
Eurydice caressed his arm, bare and cool in Yves' spare muscle shirt. "Then what do you want?"
"Damn it," Dee spat. He lurched back into the front seat. "Isn't it obvious? I want you to re-remember what happened, what happened between you and me." He sighed, quiet and sad. "So I can say I'm sorry. I guess that's pretty selfish."
Yves hauled the Jeep into gear. "No." He toggled the turn signal. "Wanting her to not remember would be selfish. Wanting her to remember your acting like an idiot, just so you can make it up to her is so hopelessly romantic I think I vomited in my mouth a little."
Eurydice slid the sunglasses back on her face in silence.
Dee grumbled, "Thanks."
"Ignore him, Dee," Ursula said as the Jeep pulled away from the curb. "Besides, the nanomek stuff in me wouldn't help."
Eurydice sat up, the oversize sunglasses hiding any emotion. "Really?"
Dee toyed with the GPS touch screen, zooming in on the cul-de-sac Yves had flagged as their destination. "Why not?"
"Well," Ursula said, "Galatea didn't mention anything about a breakup or even a fight to me. She was just pissed off that you were having sex with her, somewhere else. It didn't make much sense to me then." She glanced at Eurydice, who was watching her with the expressionless cool of reflective lenses. "But it does now. Plus, from what Yves' told me, whatever happened between the two of you happened late last night, after Galatea's visit to my apartment. So I all have inside me is Galatea's memories…of me."
Yves made a hard right at the next light. Eurydice rode the Jeep's momentum and sidled over to Ursula, faster than a sidewinder. "Really?" she said again, drawling, one brow arching high above the rims of her sunglasses. Eurydice's breath was warm against Ursula's cheek. "Now that's interesting." Ursula blushed and squirmed away but Eurydice just inched closer and wedged herself against the retreating Goth girl. She finger-walked a jelled hand up Ursula's thigh and wondered, "Did you smell as good then as you do now? Like Dee, but, you know…" Eurydice dipped her head to coo into Ursula's ear, "…girly?"
"Dee? Hey, Dee?" Ursula stammered as Eurydice wriggled and giggled against her. "Your Unabomber's sticking her tongue in my ear."
Dee turned around. Ursula sat sandwiched between one side of the Jeep and Eurydice's supple gel-flesh. Eurydice clasped one arm around Ursula's back, squeezing the Goth girl in a sideways hug. The green girl's hoodie had grown a zipper while the garment shrank two sizes too small. Dee watched Ursula's shoulder sink into Eurydice's corseted cleavage. The gummy fingers walking up Ursula's thigh flicked at the hem of the poncho and crept under and upward.
"Uh, Dee?" Ursula implored while Eurydice tittered, "Ooh, perky."
"The safe word is 'Pygmalion'," Dee said, facing forward again.
"She knows that already," Yves said, keeping one eye on the road ahead and the other on the GPS readout.
"I figured," Dee said, looking back over his shoulder. Ursula's eyeglasses dangled askew on her face. Eurydice nibbled her way down Ursula's jaw line, casting frequent wicked grins in Dee's direction. "You guys okay back there?"
"Yeah," Ursula said. Eurydice's arm rippled fluidly under Ursula's poncho and the Goth girl added, "Oh, yeah. Definitely."
Eurydice pivoted her head and pouted, "Maybe we should pull over and—"
The Jeep rocked to a halt. "We're here. I think," Yves announced.
Eurydice whispered, "Dammit."
Ursula pushed Eurydice's hands away with a quick kiss. "It will be alright," she whispered back. "Where are we?" she asked, louder, leaning between the two front seats to get a good look. "Oh, you have got to be shitting me."
Eurydice peered forward at the imposing, brick building and its columned façade. "What?"
"This thing is working fine," Yves said, tapping the GPS. "What about the one inside your head?"
Ursula shut her eyes for a second, gasped, and unclosed them again. "Galatea's dead ahead. This is it. She's in there, somewhere."
"We're fucked," Dee groused.
"What is it?" Eurydice urged. "Research lab? FBI satellite office? Culinary institute?"
"Worse," Yves said.
Ursula sighed, resigned to doom. "It's the Epsilon Zeta sorority house."
Eurydice glanced around the cul-de-sac. The E-Z house grounds were flanked by far less grand, unaffiliated student housing. A sporty, yellow SUV squatted in the U-shaped driveway in front of the E-Z house door. A gravel road branched from the paved driveway to an overcrowded parking lot on the sorority grounds, housing a few dozen more cars. "I don't get it," Eurydice conceded.
"E-Z's the biggest sorority in town," Yves said. "Over a hundred active members. Very active, well-funded, and well-to-do."
"Very homophobic," Ursula muttered. Eurydice looked quizzical. "The Easies have been drubbing out gay girls for years. Even got a professor fired back in the Sixties. Someone blew the whistle a while back and now, a couple of discrimination suits later…they're just more polite about it."
"Okay," Eurydice shrugged, "a bunch of rich, asshole coeds. So? Dee can just punch his way through the walls and…Oh."
"Exactly." Dee waved a hand at the sorority house. "I can't get in there, and get out again, without innocent people getting hurt, thanks to my public fuckability."
Ursula swallowed a bark of laughter and hiccupped. "Your what?"
Dee sunk into his seat. "Public fuckability."
Eurydice stretched to glower out the window at the sorority house.
"We're using the term 'charism' now, Dee," Yves said, smirking.
Ursula could not suppress her giggle fit. "Public fuckability!"
Dee twisted in the seat, face burning. "Take the wax out of your ears," he growled, "and see if you're still laughing…little girl." Ursula flinched and Yves cursed and thumped a fist against the steering wheel. "Oh, shit," Dee said, paling. "What happened?"
"I don't need to take the wax out," Ursula said, her voice small. "I felt that in my teeth."
Yves reached out an open palm. "Pass me the wax."
"Jesus, you too?" Dee said, head in hands. "It's getting worse!"
"Yes." Yves blinked. "Wait: No. Not like that, anyway. You didn't turn me on. You gave me a migraine." He ran a fingernail down a fault in the driver side window. "And nearly broke the window. I'm pretty sure this crack wasn't here a few minutes ago. Before this is over, we need to get you to SRU and get your charism, kiai, or whatever-it-is, under control."
"Yeah." Dee shook out his hair, exhaling. "Yeah. So, anyway, Eurydice, I can't go in there without innocent people getting hurt." Ursula coughed and Dee added, "Innocent of this matter, I mean, and too many people've gotten hurt already. Cherry Cupcake could not have picked a better spot to take Galatea."
"If Cherry Cupcake's in there," Yves pointed out.
Dee shook his head. "She's definitely in there. I can tell."
"How can you tell?" Yves asked. "Are you sure?"
["…Oh, Master. I'm in you now. I'm in you…"]
"I don't know," Dee lied. "But I'm sure."
Eurydice still glared out the window. "We're being watched."
Yves threw the gearshift into reverse but pushed hard on the footbrake. "We’ve got a choice: leave at the first sign of trouble or at the last possible moment. Staying is not an option; we are not ready for a fight."
"Leave at the last possible moment," Dee said, "and try to learn as much as we can." He turned around. "Is that okay with you two?"
Eurydice nodded. Ursula said, "You can just leave Galatea?"
"No," Dee answered, "but if Yves says we're not ready, I believe him. I don't want anyone else getting hurt because of my mistakes."
"What about Cherry Cupcake hurting Galatea?" Ursula asked.
"She won't do anything to Galatea until after we make our move," Yves said. He sought confirmation in Dee's eyes.
Dee nodded, shivered at the memory. ["…You'll never push me away again…"] "She wants my attention," he said. "She wants me thinking about her all the time. Right now, we've got no plan and little information. Charging in blind would mean I'm not taking her seriously, and that would put Galatea in real danger. Plus, the parking lot is full, so I can't go in there without being buried in Easies. Eurydice, what are you smiling about?"
"I'm thinking of you fucking your way out of a mob of frenzy-sisters." Her teeth were daggered. "It's an interesting mental image. I bet you could do it." Eurydice sat up and pulled the sunglasses off her face. "Orpheus couldn't handle it, they fucked him apart instead, but you'd get through, Dee…Ursula, you okay?"
Ursula groaned, clutching the sides of her head. "My worldview hurts."
"We've got company," Yves said, his hands worrying the steering wheel.
The three passengers followed his gaze. The heavy front door to the sorority house bumped open and a tall coed in ragged jean shorts and a white tee-shirt shuffled through. Her hair was a bird's nest of red tangles.
"That's the worst case of bed-head I've ever seen," Yves said as the newcomer stumbled down the porch steps. A brunette coed in the same outfit tottered out of the building behind her and Yves quipped, "Okay, second worst." A blonde carrying a plastic bucket followed, fumbling the door closed behind her. "Christ, it's a makeover emergency."
The trio bumbled around the yellow SUV. The blonde upended the bucket and a flurry of towels fell onto the driveway. The brunette pulled one end of a garden house from the shrubbery and blasted the SUV with a jet of water. Her aim was unsure and wild. She stood with the hose shooting water straight up into the air as her friends divvied up the towels. Water splashed down over everything.
Ursula kneeled in between the front seats of the Jeep, squinting. "Are they stoned?"
"I know them," Dee said, and as soon as he spoke the trio of coeds turned to face the Jeep, their motions fluid and synchronized. The brunette kept the hose firing into the sky. The trio was sopping wet in moments, their shirts slick and translucent. The redhead pulled a bottle out of her shorts and squirted its contents into the bucket.
"There's no fucking way they heard you from there," Yves hissed.
"They couldn't, all by themselves," Eurydice murmured, "but maybe someone else is helping them."
"I'd vote for the blonde in a wet tee-shirt contest," Ursula said. "Just look at those. Damn, I can see her nipples from here…What?" She poked Dee in the shoulder. "C'mon, back me up on this."
"What the Hell is going on?" Dee asked her. The three coeds triangulated their attention to the front passenger seat of the Jeep.
"Not another word, Dee," Yves said.
The brunette brought the hose down, training its spray at the bucket. The jet of water caught the redhead in the ear as it arced downward. Her hair flew wild. She did not flinch or move an inch.
Ursula swore. Dee opened his mouth but Yves punched him in the arm. "Shut up, Dee," Yves barked. "They're putting on a show, trying to get you to…" Yves' eyes watered. "Ow, Jesus, ow." Yves cradled his right hand in his left, massaging his knuckles gingerly. "It's like punching a brick wall."
"Marble," Ursula corrected. She poked Dee's shoulder again. "His skin gives." Dee turned and made a sour face at her but she ignored him, exploring the hollow of his collarbone instead. Her fingers worked under the narrow strap of the muscle shirt. "His skin gives as you'd expect but the musculature underneath is marble." Dee grumbled and folded his arms. Ursula gasped as his shoulder flexed beneath her palm. "Stone sliding against stone," Ursula stuttered, voice hushed. "Polished granite or greased marble…"
Eurydice cleared her throat in the sudden, icicled silence.
Ursula withdrew into the back seat. "Look," she told Eurydice, "I'm gay, but I'm not dead. I can see the attraction of that sort of thing but I don't want it." Dee grimaced and rooted around the Jeep's glove compartment. Ursula pointed out the window to the driveway where the coeds, their expressions cockeyed but otherwise blank, were busy soaping up their SUV and each other with sudsy towels. "I'm much more interested in the Night of the Living Coed Carwash going on out there."
"They've been 'mindfucked,' right?" Yves asked. "Cherry Cupcake's gotten into them. How much nanomek does that cost?"
Dee found a pen and waved it around in silent triumph before diving back into the glove compartment.
"It depends on what you want to do," Eurydice explained. "Opening someone to suggestion costs just a little, enthralling someone takes a little bit more plus a really good, hard screw, but remote control zombies? A metric fuckton. What's Dee doing?" Dee scribbled with his pen on the back of an old gas station receipt. "It looks like he's trying to tell us something. What is it, solid boy?"
Dee shoved the receipt in Eurydice's face. She read the back of the piece of paper, and passed it to Ursula in stunned silence.
"'Don't objectify me'," Ursula read as Eurydice burst into giggles.
Eurydice made little, happy snerk! noises. "You left out the three exclamation points."
Ursula peered up at Dee's silent, wounded-puppy expression. Her chin trembled, lips working to hold back laughter. "I'm s-sorry, Dee. But…" She held up the little slip of paper. "But this is just so cute."
Eurydice plopped sideways into Ursula's lap, hooting. Ursula's composure cracked and she laughed right into Dee's face.
"So zombifying three girls would take a shit-load of nanomek," Yves said. He eyed the sorority house.
"Yeah," Eurydice chuckled, her head propped on Ursula's knees.
"How about three dozen?" Yves asked, his voice cool and steady.
Ursula looked up and out. Her mirth died in her throat. Dee turned to sit face forward, moaned in wordless dejection, and hid his head in his hands. Eurydice rolled upright and yelped. "Gah! Where the fuck did they come from?"
The sorority house porch was packed with girls. The crowd spilled down the porch steps and ringed the horseshoe driveway, evenly spaced as if posed for a yearbook photograph, with the original trio, dripping and foamy, serving as a vanguard. The sisters of Epsilon Zeta stood at attention in various clubbing outfits, curve-hugging bellyshirts, and low-rise jeans, all staring at the passenger side of the Jeep with the blank, empty intensity of a camera lens.
"Holy shit," Eurydice said after she took the whole scene in, "that's a lot of skank-bots."
"There are probably several dozen more," Yves said, scanning the building's windows for other signs of life. "Reserves. These are just the ones Cherry Cupcake thinks will make the biggest impression on Dee. I mean, look at them. They could all be featured in a Girls Gone Wild video."
"They're just standing there, waiting," Ursula said, eyes wide. "And everything's so quiet. I feel like we're in a Hitchcock movie."
"There's just one thing I don't get," Yves said, scratching his smooth chin.
"Just one?" Ursula cried.
Yves pondered aloud. "Cherry Cupcake's blown so much nanomek without attacking, without even making an appearance. She's just being cute—well, psycho-bitch cute—playing around. But she knows she's going to need even more nanomek if she and Dee face off again, and that's what she wants most of all: Dee versus Cherry Cupcake, round two."
"Electric boogaloo," Eurydice mumbled.
Dee scrabbled about, gathering more receipts.
"I hate it when he does this," Ursula told Eurydice. "Get to the point, Yves."
"Where's she planning to get it all?" Yves said. "How? Jump the mailman? Send her skank-bots to knock over a fertility clinic?"
Dee wrote with stabbing furious strokes on a receipt. He gave the message to Yves who read it and passed it around.
"She had a party," Yves said, dubious.
Dee threw another receipt at Yves.
"She's going to have a party," Ursula said, uncomprehending.
"Oh, for God's sake," Dee spat, making everyone in the Jeep jump. The mob of girls pitched forward with every word. "I met those Easies yesterday and they said that they were holding a big party Friday night, and that's tonight—"
Eurydice's arm shot forward, stretching across the length of the Jeep's cabin. Her hand clamped down over Dee's mouth. "That's enough, dear. Cherry Cupcake knows that you know that she knows about the party now. Please stop making the zombie horde horny."
The sidewalk fronting the sorority house lawn swarmed with coeds. The vanguard trio and a half-dozen other girls perched on the curb. The redhead ran her tongue over her teeth. A blob of soap suds fell from her chin onto the hood of the Jeep.
"Do you have the air condition vents open, Yves?" Ursula asked. A girl in pink hot pants panted great wet gulps of air by Ursula's window.
Yves checked the dashboard dials. "Yes."
A spreading patch of moisture darkened the crotch of the pink pants outside her window as Ursula said, "Would you set the AC to recirculation, please."
Yves slammed the vent toggle shut and turned the air conditioner on full blast.
"This feels like the last possible moment to me," Ursula said, checking her seat belt.
Dee shook his head and passed around another note.
"What the heck does that mean?" Eurydice asked.
Yves tried to scope out the sorority house through the throng of coeds. "We're waiting for Cherry Cupcake to make her appearance and gloat. Hopefully she'll tell us her grand plan or something."
"That doesn't happen in real life," Ursula insisted.
"No," Yves replied, "but Cherry Cupcake isn't a real person."
Eurydice kicked the back of the driver seat. "Watch it, samurai."
"Not like that," Yves told her via her grumpy reflection in the rear view mirror. "I mean she's detached from reality. She doesn't want real life, she wants the story. What about you, Eurydice?"
Eurydice said nothing and Dee wrote a new note.
"Later, Dee," Eurydice whispered. "I promise. At least until after the psycho ex-girlfriend gives her monologue." A winged shadow passed over the Jeep. Eurydice eyed the sky. "And here she comes, flying in right on schedule."
Yves blanched. "Oh, fuck."
"Wha—" Eurydice started, but leapt out of her seat as Dee cried, "Go!"
There was a knocking clamor of a dozen pairs of hands slapping against the Jeep as the mass of coeds surged forward. Dee exchanged a nod with Yves, then punched out the passenger window with an almost effortless backhanded swing.
"What the Hell?" Ursula cried.
A multitude of hands pushed their way into the Jeep, heedless of the broken glass, to tug at Dee's collar, yank on his hair, and feel up his pectorals.
"We're getting out of here," Yves announced.
Dee leaned out through the window. Arms scrambled over his shoulders, urging him farther out. The redhead's lips descended over Dee's mouth with a vacant but bottomless hunger.
Eurydice panicked as the thumping and drumming of arms and bodies against the Jeep grew louder and harder. "Oh my God, ohmygod."
Yves jammed two gobs of beeswax into his ears. "Now."
Dee broke the zombie kiss, turned his head and shouted.
A guttural groan resounded from many throats. The redhead's eyes rolled over white. She fell backward a few paces before she toppled over. All around the Jeep, girls followed suit, zombies attempting to tap-dance and landing on their asses.
Dee craned his neck. "You've got a path. No idea how long it'll last."
Yves took his foot off the brake and the Jeep rolled backward as Dee shouted directions. "Keep it straight, keep it straight. Okay, clear, turn around." The Jeep performed a quick K-turn in the mouth of the cul-de-sac. "Now floor it!"
Eurydice trembled and shook. "What. Why. What."
"Next time you two boys plan an escape," Ursula said as the Jeep sped down the side-road, "you damn well better let us in on it."
Dee buckled himself in. "It's not over. Left, go left. We need to head for the highway, south."
Yves ran a red light.
"What happened to staying for the monologue?" Eurydice demanded.
"There wasn't going to be one," Dee said. He kept watching the skies. "This isn't her style, but I guess she wanted to surprise us, instead."
"But Cherry Cupcake…"
"Weighs in at over three hundred pounds of cherry-chocolate flavored wet cement," Yves interrupted. "There's no way she can fly with those wings. She can only fall with style."
"So it wasn't Cherry Cupcake," Dee said, "but something else." The shadow fell over the Jeep again. "Drive faster, Yves."
My heart had a problem, in the early hours,
So I stopped it dead for a beat or two.
But I cut some cord, and I shouldn't've done that,
And it won't forgive me after all these years
So I sent it to a place in the middle of nowhere
With a big black horse and a cherry tree.
Now it won't come back, 'cause it's oh so happy,
And now I've got a hole for the world to see.
—KT Tunstall, Black Horse and the Cherry Tree
The bronze bell above the glass door jangled and tolled. The door remained unmoved.
The rose girl watched the bell jounce about. "Someone's coming."
Tomoe did not look up from the fat Sudoku puzzle book. "Mm." Her pencil skittered across the open page.
The rose girl sighed and hopped off the countertop. As she padded barefoot up to the front door, a copper-colored, one-piece dress sprouted out from her waist to clothe her translucent, cut-crystal flesh. The bell jerked around like a jumping bean. She smoothed out the oblong lump between her legs, swung the door wide, and stood in the threshold. She surveyed the empty parking lot. "They're a long way off. An hour, maybe?" The bell continued to clatter above her head. "This damn thing won't shut up."
"Yeah, yeah." Tomoe flipped the page. She harrumphed at the next grid of math puzzles, chewed on the pencil, then shrugged and started to fill in the empty boxes. "Piece of cake."
"So?" The rose girl turned about face. "Who is it?"
"Whoever it is," Tomoe said, "they're going to have to wait."
Tomoe wagged her hand over the puzzle book. "I'm not finished yet." She made a fist and bonked herself lightly on the head. "Duh!"
The rose girl stepped back into the store. The bell rang louder while the door closed. She tiptoed over to the counter, the bell chattering in the background. "Why do you still keep secrets from me, lovey?" she asked, sifting Tomoe's shining black hair through fingers of polished rose quartz.
Still writing with one hand, Tomoe reached up with the other and pulled the rose girl's palm against her cheek. "SB, do you want to be my partner, my darling, my cheeseburger?" Their eyes met. "Or my familiar, my slave?"
"I felt like a slave last night, cleaning and dragging those stupid dumpsters around."
Tomoe gave the rose girl's hand a friendly but firm squeeze. "Seriously, now: slave or cheeseburger?"
The rose girl's smile was full of diamonds. "I want to be your cheeseburger, T, whatever that means. Unless I can be your slave and still get on top, that'd be kind of hot."
Tomoe returned to her book. "Then let me have my secrets. That way you can get miffed at me, like you are now." She tilted forward, gathered a handful of the silk of the coppery dress, and squeezed it around the lump in the rose girl's crotch in long, unhurried strokes. "And I can make it up to you."
"Take the next exit," Dee said, collecting shards of glass from the window frame into a plastic pouch he had found in the Jeep's glove compartment.
Yves surveyed the empty stretches of overgrown lots on either side of the elevated highway. "We're in the middle of fucking nowhere."
"This is it," Dee insisted, "I'm certain."
"That's not what I'm worried about," Yves said. The Jeep careened through the tight curve of the exit ramp.
Ursula sat on her knees, ass-backward on the backseat, keeping watch out the rear window. "I haven't seen anything for at least twenty minutes now."
"Of course," Eurydice added, contemplating Ursula's jean-wrapped rear-end, "we don't know what we're looking for."
"Right at the end of the ramp," Dee told Yves. "Go under the overpass. Maybe we lost it."
The Jeep emerged from beneath the overpass, roaring down the grayed pavement of the back road. In the side mirror, Yves watched the shadow beneath the arch of the overpass seem to peel away from the cement and swoop into the air. "Unless," he sighed, stomping on the accelerator pedal, "it's smart enough to ambush us when we do something cosmically stupid like getting off the highway in the middle of fucking—"
The rear window flashed black. Ursula shrieked and ducked but the fluttering darkness swooped up and out of sight. The wind whistled through the broken passenger-side window. Ursula spun around, frantic, latching her seatbelt in place. Yves, Dee, and Eurydice looked at one another.
The obsidian girl touched down onto the hood. She made no sound.
She crouched before the windshield, arms splayed, the manifold curvature of her wings flared out wide on either side, blocking any view of the road ahead. She shone in the cloudless, morning sunlight, a living architecture of blackest volcanic glass. Dee and Yves' awestruck expressions were reflected back at them in the featureless, glossy tar oval of her face.
Yves recovered, found his center, and hammered down on the brake. The obsidian girl bled off the excess momentum into her wings, letting them unfold behind her in topologies that confused the eye. The Jeep's tires squealed and burned in the sudden deceleration but the obsidian girl perched unfazed on the hood. She waggled her pointer finger from side to side in a metronomic rhythm.
The speedometer's needle dropped below the fifty miles per hour mark and Dee popped open the passenger door. "Get them out of here," he said, and rolled out of the car. Eurydice screamed his name. The speedometer needle hit the thirty miles per hour mark.
Dee hit the pavement elbow-first. The asphalt cracked and burst and bounced him a foot back up into the air. The obsidian girl punched her knuckles against the hood and swung after him, wings rippling behind her in billows of ebony ink.
Eurydice snarled, "He's mine, you fucking gimp," and sprung out the still-open door, a bounding wildcat. The speedometer needle fell under ten miles per hour.
Ursula rebounded off her seatbelt. A swinging braid knocked her glasses clean off her face. "Um. What the Hell just happened?"
The passenger-side door fell off.
"I'm getting you out of here," Yves said. The rear tire kicked against the fallen door as the Jeep pulled away.
"No, you're not." Ursula fumbled her glasses back onto her face. "But, uh, we're getting out of this car. Right now."
Yves glanced into the rearview mirror. Ursula nodded her head toward the rear side window. A little gush of viscid, lavender fluid ran down from the roof like spilt shampoo. "Yeah, I guess we'd better." Yves pulled the Jeep over to the curb, wincing at how false his nonchalance sounded to his own ears.
A fount of creamy champagne poured over the lip of the Jeep's canvas top through the gaping hole left by the lost door. A confusion of golden hues—marigold, saffron, school-bus yellow—filled the passenger-side front seat. The air inside the car grew heady with the dizzying bouquet of caramel and melted creamsicle. The storm of melted sherbet made little sound, just a satiny susurrus, as more and more of the lush stuff piled into the bucket seat, drew itself up, and filled itself out and then further out.
"You can't leave yet, honey" purred the plump amber woman, "I haven't even started to sing."
Eurydice bounded onto the pavement with arms outstretched and her back arched high. She brought her legs down with her knees bent the wrong way. Only wrong if you plan on being a biped, she thought, running with a sinewy, feline gate. Ahead of her, Dee skimmed the road as he tumbled, the asphalt rumpling beneath him like the surface of a lake under a skipping stone. Solid boy's giving the road a case of road-rash.
Despite Eurydice's cheetah speed, the obsidian girl's powerhouse wings won the race. For a few seconds Dee and the obsidian girl danced in a horizontal, martial ballet, Dee feinting even as he fell. The obsidian girl played the game just as well, counter-feinting with scissor kicks and dancing pseudopodia, and Dee disappeared down a funnel of enfolding wings. A host of clashing emotions welled up in Eurydice's jumbled mind-web: panic, fear, fear for Dee, fury--jealousy. This is jealousy, she realized, watching the obsidian girl cocoon Dee until the two of them rolled over the road like a giant, licorice jelly bean. Why am I jealous? She's trying to kill him! The black ovoid rocked as it slowed. Isn't she?
Eurydice slid to halt on all fours as the ovoid cracked open. Layers of liquid black wing peeled away and Dee struggled to his feet. He bucked and flexed, trying every goojitsu trick Eurydice knew, and then a few she did not know, to shake his opponent loose. The obsidian girl clung to him, head buried in his chest, her arms hooked under his in a desperate but chaste hug.
Dee flushed and floundered in the obsidian girl's embrace. "Gerroff me!"
A wicked, single-edge blade appeared in Yves' hand in the time it took Ursula to blink. She had learned enough about her upstairs neighbor these past few hours to know he had his own brand of macho bullshit—Yves will never back down when he's afraid—and now she watched it kick into gear as he raised the weapon high. In her peripheral vision, a second trickle of translucent purplish goo seeped down the side window.
The amber woman raised her pudgy, open hands close to her head at a "raise-the-roof!" angle. She had a stout neck and a roll of double chin that wobbled as she chuckled, "Whoa, cowboy." Ursula could not place the drawn-out twang in the amber woman's accent. Boston? Virginia? New York? "Does this look like a combat chassis to you?"
The amber woman primped her coiffure, a lick of golden pudding plastered atop her head. Her hip spilled over the bucket seat and smothered the emergency brake and gear shift. "Besides," she said, "you'd get a lot further with an ice-cream scoop than that knife." The surface of her substance was mellow yellow and satiny, like whipped frosting, with no elastic tension to hold her together. She churned perpetually, inside and out, in a constant, slow boil of luscious mush. "I'm not a stick of butter, I'm buttercream."
Yves lowered the blade but kept it ready at his side. "I don’t think I can take much more of this kind of thing."
A purple glaze shellacked the window to Ursula's side. "We've got another guest on the roof, Yves," Ursula said.
A muffled but acid voice razzed down from above the Jeep's canvas top. "Put a cork in your cakehole, you cunt, or you'll ruin my entrance."
"You've done that all by yourself, honey," the amber woman sighed. "The things that come out of your mouth are positively criminal."
"Got that right, fatso," said the voice. The purple glop gumming the window slurped up and out of sight. "Things should be coming in my mouth."
The amber woman treated Ursula to a conspiratorial wink of a canary diamond eye. "I spoon feed her straight lines out of charity." Her face was wide but regal and carved from lemon meringue. "Poor girl wouldn't notice a double entendre if it came with cherry on top."
An elfin, lavender face popped into view, upside down, in Yves' window. "I don't get it." Her hair tumbled around her head, an unruly mass of pale orchid petals. She shouted at Yves through the glass. "Hi! Wanna fuck?"
Yves reddened and spluttered. Before he could recover, the amber girl came to his rescue. "No, honey," she said, sizing Yves up like a piece of meat. "This tall drink of water is a man's man."
"Well, fuck me gently with a chain saw," the lavender girl said. "No wonder that Black Cherry twat is out of her gourd. 'Master' is gay." She spat the word "master" as if it were the crudest, most vile thing she could ever think to say.
"I'm not Dee," Yves said.
The lavender girl crooked her upside-down head to eye the back seat, captivating Ursula with her inhuman, ethereal beauty until she opened her mouth. "Who's the dinky-dyke?"
"I came with the car," Ursula grouched.
"Hey, me too," the lavender girl said, slopping down onto the pavement in a spray of indigo. "But only when your nancy chauffeur drove above sixty." She stood, tall and haughty and nude, the lips of her pouty sex peeking out from a frill of orchid petals in her cleft just as the tapered tips of her ears poked from her dryad's mane.
Ursula thought the lavender girl looked the part of the honey nymph more than Eurydice or even Galatea. I could fall in love with something like that, Ursula realized, tracing the lines of the lavender girl's classical figure, if she'd only stay quiet. The lavender girl looked around and did a quick double take. No, no. Her mouth gaped open. Not yet. Her vulgar purple nipples hardened into cherry-pits. Hush, now, and let me drink you in. Dew dampened the insides of her thighs. Let me memorize….
"Oh, sweet merciful mother of fuck," the lavender girl marveled as Dee approached. "I'm creaming in my jeans."
The amber woman shifted in the front seat as Dee drew near. "Oh my, now that is emotion in motion."
Ursula strained to see. Dee steamrolled toward the Jeep, falling into his unstoppable, predatory march. Ursula felt a flutter deep within her. It was a visceral but not a truly sexual thrill, like riding the crest of a rollercoaster. She remembered feeling it once before, when Dee emerged with Eurydice in his arms, and a small spark of it even earlier, when he had set up her computer.
"Can you get her to let go of me?" Dee asked the lavender girl. "I'm fine, really."
The obsidian girl, her geodesic wings compactly folded against her shoulders, stood on Dee's feet with her hands latched onto his back. I used to dance with my father just like that, Ursula remembered, and the recollection somehow shocked her.
The amber woman slipped sideways out of the car, legs oozing down and taking shape as she rolled. She moved by relaxing and letting her bulk fill the space of her destination. Like an amoeba, she simply grew in the direction she wanted to go, lending her an alien but smooth and mesmerizing grace. "Ask her yourself, honey," the amber woman told Dee. "Or better yet, say you're sorry. You were the one who took one look at her and jumped from a moving car."
"He thought he was protecting his friends from her," Eurydice said, padding on all fours around Dee from behind, a jade sphinx with Medusa's hairdo. "From you."
Eurydice's appearance woke the lavender girl out of her horny reverie. "Jesus Christ, it's a lime, get in the car!" The lavender girl vaulted over the Jeep's hood, one cheek of her perfect ass squeaking on the silver metal, planting herself between Eurydice and the amber woman, arms upraised like a traffic cop's. "Get the fuck back into the fucking car, CeeCee," she hissed to the amber girl before turning to Eurydice. "Look, limey, we didn't come here looking for a catfight."
Ursula pushed the passenger seat forward. She nodded to Yves and clambered out of the Jeep. Yves hopped out the driver's side door, putting the car in park but leaving the engine running.
"We figured you weren't gunning for a fight when little Miss Midnight here tried to save my life," Dee said, patting the obsidian girl on her featureless pate. She snuggled in even closer. "Now how do I get her off?" Eurydice flashed him a leonine glare and he mutterred, "Um, wow, that didn't come out right…"
"Quiet, you," Eurydice huffed. She pawed a hole Dee left in the pavement and turned back to the lavender girl. "So, whose side are you on, then?"
"Ours," said the amber woman, CeeCee.
"Not hers," the lavender girl added sourly.
The obsidian girl snuggled.
"I'm confused," Ursula said, maneuvering around the amber woman with the curves of pin-up girl from the Forties but the girth of a professional football linebacker. The obsidian girl prised her head away from Dee's chest and pivoted her shoulders in Ursula's direction. Ursula looked into the obsidian girl's blank face and saw only her own convex reflection gazing back at her, as if the obsidian girl had put on an Ursula mask. "I'm confused," she repeated, unsettled. "'Her' who? I'm having pronoun trouble."
Yves answered her. "Cherry Cupcake." He worked his knife into a pouch below the armpit of his undershirt. "She made you?"
"Black Cherry made her," CeeCee said, gesturing to the obsidian girl.
The lavender girl reached back to wrap a protective arm around CeeCee. It sank into the rich batter of CeeCee's shoulders. "The psycho-twat made Eddie make us. Oops, shit, I'm stuck in you again."
"What can I say, honey," CeeCee cooed as the currents of velvet-soft flesh dragged the lavender girl closer and deeper into CeeCee's side, "we go together well."
The obsidian girl stepped down and away from Dee. She still wore Ursula's face but did not say a word. Not counting the wings, Ursula thought, she's no taller than I am. Why is she staring at me? Wait, that's just my reflection, which means I'm the one staring at her. Oh, great, now I can see myself blushing.
Yves sidled in front of the Jeep, never turning his back to the group of goo girls. "I don't understand. Who’s Eddie?"
The lavender girl's arm sucked into CeeCee's side until the two goo girls stood shoulder to shoulder. "Your tits are even softer on the inside," the lavender girl told CeeCee. "What does this feel like?" The lavender girl rolled her shoulder, tongue peeking out between her teeth. She gave a little yelp and squished into CeeCee, head-to-toe.
The obsidian girl skipped forward. Ursula backpedaled, keeping a few paces away. The obsidian girl flourished a wing, and Ursula could not help but follow its tip with her eyes as it traced over trim, inky black flesh, the long line of a willowy neck to narrow shoulders to budding breasts to a flat tummy to—Snap! Snap! The obsidian girl's fingers snapped together, loud as pistol shots. Ursula dragged her eyes back up into the obsidian girl's face, the Ursula-mask face.
Licks of sunny yellow crawled over lavender hips. "It feels so good," CeeCee said, "you'd better pull out or you're coming in."
"All the way?" the lavender girl asked, watching a creamy tendril swirl between her breasts.
"Hm," the lavender girl hummed. She glanced at their audience. Yves, Dee, and Eurydice seemed struck dumb by the display of the golden web spinning across her body, coiling around her nipples and vanishing into the cleft of her sex. "What about—Ooh!—saving the world?"
The obsidian girl inched forward. Ursula's blush deepened but she stood her ground. A gentle wave rippled up from the obsidian girl's neck and her face dusked into a matte black. The Ursula-mask vanished. Yes, Ursula thought as the obsidian girl's wings excited the air, I'm still staring. The obsidian girl held a hand out for her. I'm staring at you, not the me-in-you. Ursula tentatively reached for those smooth, conical fingers. I want to touch you, not the me-in-you.
"That was short, dark, and creepy's idea," CeeCee said. "But it looks like she's found something else to think about now."
"Wait." Ursula spun around. "What? Saving the world?" In her peripheral vision, Ursula saw the obsidian girl smack herself in the forehead and stalk away. "The world needs saving?"
"Break it up," Eurydice snarled, "and make with the exposition."
CeeCee and the lavender girl pulled apart, purple-red-gold filaments and filigree unraveling and snapping. Yves looked ready to retch but would not look away as they rewove themselves. "Start from the beginning," he gulped, "and don't do that again."
When the lavender girl's surface tension sealed over her nectarous insides she intoned, "In the beginning." She looked into the Sun. "In the beginning there was this…" She opened her arms to the sky "…There was this biiiig refrigerator."
"What the Hell is this," Yves demanded, "goo girl religion?"
"No," Dee said. "She's being literal. Going back to her first memory. Hey, Yves, you look like crap. You okay?"
"Yeah," Yves puffed, "I will be, yeah. This is just a lot of goo for me, right now. Sorry," he told the lavender girl. "So you were in a refrigerator."
"I was in a bowl in the refrigerator. An aluminum bowl." When Yves did not react to this revelation she soured. "Look, you fucking faggot, you wanted the whole story and I'm giving it to you. You ever bit on a piece of tinfoil? Well, that's what it was like, but my whole body was in that fucking bowl, and my whole body is one big mouth. And it was cold." She shivered at the memory. "So cold."
"Honey," CeeCee stage-whispered, "you can't call a man a faggot and then expect any sympathy."
The lavender girl waved her off. "Okay, okay. So there I was, in the dark, in the cold, tasting nothing but that fucking aluminum, for like for-fucking-ever. And then there was light." She glared at Yves. "There was light and air and—Whoosh!—these big red hands grab me out by the bowl and flip me upside down and drop me—Splat!—right onto this kid's cock. And then, I mean, what would you do? The bowl was so cold and tasted so bad but here was this cock and it was so warm and tasted so good. I thought I'd died and gone to Heaven."
"Whose cock?" Yves asked.
"Dee left me there," Eurydice mumbled.
CeeCee paled. "He left you in the bowl? Oh, you poor thing."
"No," Eurydice said, "worse." She paced on all fours and started to babble. "He took me out of the fridge and he saved me from the bowl and then he took out his dick and it was huge and I could feel the heat pouring off it. And then he held me so close to his cock, so close I could taste, I could almost taste…and then he dropped me on the table and left me there until I melted."
CeeCee and the lavender girl were silent and saucer-eyed. The obsidian girl's wings trembled violently.
Yves breathed, "Jesus Christ."
"I'm sorry," Dee begged.
Ursula stomped over and kicked him in the shin. "You asshole!" It felt like kicking a boulder, but her clunky Doc Martins absorbed most of the resistance.
"I'm sorry." He fell to one knee if front of Eurydice, "Honey, I didn't…"
"It was amazing!" Eurydice crooned.
Dee blinked. "Huh?"
"You teased a lime," CeeCee said, awed.
"Hours and hours," Eurydice gabbled, "and all I could remember was your cock. All I could think about was your cock…"
"You cunt-teased a fucking lime," the lavender girl said.
"…What you would taste like," Eurydice was saying, "How you would feel, how warm you would be…and how much I would make you cum, over and over and over. Nothing but you, your cock, your cum, for hours."
Dee looked lost. "Was that a good thing or a bad thing?"
Eurydice sighed. "It was a good bad thing, Dee." She hid her head in her forepaws. "A very, very, very good-bad thing."
Ursula and Yves exchanged looks. "Maybe it's a hetero thing," Ursula hazarded.
Yves shrugged and cleared his throat. "Whose cock? This 'Eddie' guy?"
"Yeah, Eddie; a guy from a grocery store," CeeCee said. "He must've been with her when she mindfucked all those Easies. Then she tricked him into cooking up Raz and me. After that, she trussed him up in the kitchen with us. For us, I mean. We kept getting his rocks off until he cried. We thought we were just giving him what he wanted, poor dear. He eventually started to scream, and we finally figured things out and left him alone. We thought Eddie was you, you see," she said to Dee.
"No," Dee said, "I really don't. So Eddie made you, not Black Cherry?"
"Yeah, sorta," the lavender girl said. "We found Black Cherry and confronted her about it afterward. She'd convinced Eddie to pick a couple of flavors—Cheesecake, here, and Raspberry, that's me…"
"No shit," Yves said, eyes wide in mock surprise.
"Shove it, spooge mouth." Raspberry flipped him the middle finger. "You fuck cows in retrospect. Where was I? Oh, yeah, she said some bullshit about a curse, how the person who uses the novilunium never gets what they want, so she got him to make us instead."
"Did that work?" Dee asked.
"I told her to eat shit and die," Raspberry crowed. "I'm nobody's minion and I'll never call anyone master."
"We demurred," CeeCee said, "and she scooped us up and threw us in the store room. She's so powerful, Mast—er, Mister Detwiler, we were too scared to run away. But we heard about the party tonight, and we had to do something, so we snuck onto the roof when you made your surprise inspection."
The obsidian girl rushed over and poked CeeCee in her ample belly. Her finger came away batter free. "Well, we did have to do something," CeeCee insisted. "We, Raz and me, had to skedaddle. Then darkwing showed up and offered to bust us out in exchange for helping her find you. Find Dee, that is. We didn't expect a...band, or league, or whatever it is you've put together. And we certainly didn't expect another lime. Black Cherry was convinced she had the only one."
"She does." Eurydice stood and morphed into her busty Unabomber disguise again. "I am Galatea, and Galatea is me."
"You can divide? Sweet," Raspberry whistled. "That is so hot. I tried dividing and all I got was me and a puddle of jam that was dumber than a sack of wet shit. I can hawk a mean loogie, though."
"Where is she keeping Galatea?" Dee asked in a voice so calm and mild it frightened Ursula to the core.
"We don't know," CeeCee said. "We'd only been alive for a few hours before you showed up, and it's a big house. We didn't see her. Can we ask a question, now? Just one, other than these two?"
After a long pause, and in that same mild voice, Dee said, "All right."
"Where the fuck are we going?" asked Raspberry.
"SRU," Yves said as Dee nodded, "the place where everything started. How many men are supposed to show up to the Easies' party tonight, do you know?"
"About fifty eligible bachelors," CeeCee said. "I think Black Cherry plans to drain, kill, and consume them all."
Raspberry thought this over. "And probably not in that order." She grinned.
"You see what I meant about spoon feeding her straight lines," CeeCee told Ursula.
"We're on a timetable, then." Yves hustled back into the Jeep driver's seat. "Let's get moving."
Ursula groaned at the prospect of another ascent into the Jeep. The two-door vehicle's high wheels and narrow access to the rear cabin were not designed with petite women in mind. She awkwardly swung up and hauled her butt high and vulnerable into the empty space that the Jeep's fallen passenger door once shielded—and a stinging tingle shot through one ass cheek and grounded itself in her clit. She stumble-hopped away from the car, chirping a staccato of swearwords: "What-shit-fuck-crap!" She almost tripped over her own clunky boots before she regained her balance, braids flopping. "Dammit, who pinched me?" And who knew exactly where to pinch me?
She whirled to face the assembled mob. Dee wore his inscrutable smile. Eurydice frowned at Raspberry as the lavender girl, unabashed, undressed Dee with her eyes. CeeCee was contemplating the sky but pointing an oozing finger at the obsidian girl. "You," Ursula said. The obsidian girl steepled her fingers against her neck. "Don't give me that 'C’est moi?' look," Ursula seethed, advancing.
"How do you know her 'C'est moi' look?" CeeCee asked as Ursula stormed past.
"How can she have a look when she doesn't have a face?" Raspberry wondered as Ursula drew nose-to-oval with the obsidian girl.
Ursula narrowed her eyes at the Ursula-mask reflected in the midnight gloss of the obsidian girl's head. "Well?"
The obsidian girl danced back, stood still a moment, and then gave a helpless shrug. She wriggled her fingers, hands level with her hips, in febrile, grabby flexions.
"Of course you think I have a great ass," Ursula sneered. "Everyone thinks I have a great ass. In fact, the next…" Ursula faltered. "The next person...the, the next…" She flushed, remembering.
["…the next person who mentions my ass is going to wear it for a hat, I swear…"]
Ursula chewed on a braid. "Uh, never mind. Just…wait." The gloss drained from the obsidian girl's face and the Ursula-mask vanished. "What are you doing?" The obsidian girl's skin clouded. Her wings unfolded into drooping, paper-thin tatters. "What's wrong?" Obsidian skin grayed and the faceless girl collapsed to the ground, swaying on her knees. Ursula pulled back, hands clapped over her mouth. "Oh, God, I'm sorry."
A heavy, uneven weight rolled over Ursula's shoulder. CeeCee was stroking it with her thick fingers. "It's not your fault," she said. "This is her choice. There's something we didn't tell you."
Raspberry knelt beside the fading obsidian girl, hesitating to touch her. "It's fucking amazing she lasted this long, after what she's been through. She's different from us, somehow."
Dee uttered his favorite refrain, "What the Hell is going on?" but Eurydice tapped him on the arm, muttered, "This isn't about you. C'mon," and tugged him away, whispering into his ear.
"She didn't just bust us loose," CeeCee explained. "She fought Black Cherry while we got away. Those two had been at each other's throats ever since she refused to touch Eddie."
"When Black Cherry concentrates on the Easies," Raspberry said, "she can make them do pretty much anything. If our little batgirl hadn't kept Black Cherry busy by opening up a can of whup-ass all over that psycho-twat, this Jeep and everyone in it would still be suffocating under a ton of zombie pussy right now." The obsidian girl's legs spread out into uneven puddles of ink and Raspberry added, "Oh, Christ, here she goes. I can't watch."
Ursula's stomach flipped. "I don't understand."
CeeCee shook her head, "She's used up most of her novilunium and she's taken nothing to balance the scales. She's losing cohesion.
Ursula took another shaky step backward. "Are you saying she used the last of her magic—nanomek, novilunium, whatever you want to call it—to grope my ass?"
CeeCee gave Ursula's shoulder a gentle squeeze. "I suspect the prospect of touching your derriere was the one thing that kept her going." CeeCee clucked. "And, honey, that thing is fine."
The obsidian girl lolled her head and shrugged, but Ursula shushed her. "No. Don't move. Every time you move, it costs you more magic. Wait." She knelt on the ground next to Raspberry. The obsidian girl's legs had deliquesced up to her knees. She appeared to be standing thigh-deep in a pool of glistening black ink. "If you can still move, that means you still have some magic left. How much?"
The obsidian girl held her finger and her thumb in a shape of L on her forehead, waited for Ursula to crack a nervous smile, and then closed the gap between the two digits until they were about an eighth of an inch apart. Ursula's stomach settled. "Okay, we just need to get you a bucket, or something, and you'll be fine until I get you some…Oh, Jesus."
"Never heard it called that before," CeeCee said. Her arm withdrew but left a residue of buttery yellow cream on Ursula's poncho. "Oops, sorry honey. That's cashmere, isn't it?"
"Doesn't matter," Ursula muttered.
"Whoa." Yves leaned over and poked his head out of the Jeep. "Ursula, you're in deep."
"Fuck you and find me a bucket!" she cried.
"Don't," Raspberry said. "It wouldn't work, not for long."
"Why the fuck not?"
Eurydice tiptoed into the orbit of the conversation. Ursula was surrounded by goo girls, enclosed on all sides by living walls of shimmering, slobbery, sticky glop. The air infused with a miasma of citric and cloying scents. Ursula did not give a damn. "Why the fuck not?" she demanded again.
Eurydice spoke softly. "Brownian motion. The energy has to come from somewhere."
"Oh come on," Yves said, "You are making that up." Three pairs of gemmed eyes—canary diamond, purple amethyst, darkling emerald—blazed at him and he fled into the relative safety of the Jeep. "Fine, Brownian motion burns magic, so no bucket."
Didn't Galatea say something about 'burning magic'? Ursula gasped, "I know what to do."
Yves poked his head back out. "What?"
["…When you were wearing me, and I held still while you moved, I didn't burn any magic…"]
She rocked back onto her ass and pulled her knees up. "I know exactly what to do." She pulled at the laces and buckles of her boots.
Eurydice, Raspberry, and CeeCee exhaled at once and tension bled out of the air.
"What?" Yves groused again, but Dee had circled around to the driver's side of the Jeep and made a furtive, Zip it, will ya? gesture.
Ursula hitched up her poncho. The obsidian girl bobbed in her tarry pool as the ascending cashmere garment revealed a milky-white abdomen and a lacy black bra. Ursula glanced down at her own curves and then looked around. Raspberry's a viola, Eurydice's a cello, and CeeCee's a full-blown double bass, so I guess that makes me a violin. You're a violin, too, Ms. Whatever-Your-Name-Is. She surveyed the obsidian girl's svelte figure and sighed. No wonder I gave up the cello in high school. I should have known. Ursula pulled her right foot free of its boot before locking eyes with the reflected Ursula-mask. I'm a violinist.
"Wear me," Ursula said, rolling her sock down and tossing it away. Her bare foot hovered over the slowly expanding perimeter of the obsidian girl's liquefying lower body. The inky pool caught the delicate heel's reflection, a moon trapped at the bottom of a well. The revelatory image hit Ursula with an epiphany, and she could only whisper in benediction.
"Wear me, Nyx."
Nyx shuddered and clawed at the blacktop, disappearing up to her waist into the pool.
Eurydice tugged off her sunglasses. "You named her." She turned. "Dee! Ursula named her."
"It's okay, Nyx," Ursula soothed, "I know this will work." She scooted backward over the pavement to avoid soaking her butt in the advancing, iridescent stain. "But let's start with my toes, alright?" Nyx's eyeless face fixed on Ursula's bare foot. Ursula wiggled her toes at her. "Lesson one: Ursula's toes." Thank you, Galatea, Ursula thought, for talking me through this first, for making sure I was ready. "Ursula's ass will be in lesson two, I promise." Her cheek still stung where Nyx had pinched her. She concentrated on the sensation and her sex ached. And, God, am I ready.
"This is so fucking hot," Raspberry gawked. The orchid petals of her hair dewed and stuck together in unkempt clumps. "I don't know what to say."
CeeCee swaggered back a few steps, giving Ursula a little more personal space. "Keep doing what you're doing, honey," CeeCee told her. "Anything that shuts Raz's trap is fine by me."
Yves moved out of the way and Dee called to Eurydice through the Jeep. "So?"
"I thought only you could do that," Eurydice said.
Ursula dipped her foot down. "Here we go." The tip of her big toe kissed the surface of the ebon pool. "There. You feel cool and…and dry." She squished the stuff between her toes. "Fluid yet dry." She swallowed. "Slick but not sticky at all." She smiled, hoping she looked demure and in control despite the meltdown in her pants. "I like it." Like it? I love it. I want to jump in and God-damn wallow in it. The surface of the pool shook from Nyx's trembling, and Ursula knew she had to take it slow. "I like it a lot. Now…" And take charge. "…little girl: cover my foot." Black ink lapped over Ursula's toes and crept up her ankle in a slipper softer and smoother than silk. "Tighter." The slipper drew snug. "Tighter."
"So…hot," Raspberry droned.
"Shut…up," CeeCee drawled.
Dee shrugged. "What name?"
Green, glassy beads dripped from Eurydice's chin and rolled off the blades of hair poking out from the hoodie. "Huh?" The droplets sizzled when they hit the pavement. "Oh. Um. Nyx."
The black slipper grew to swallow Ursula's calf. "Tighter, little girl, tighter." The slipper clamped down just below the knee. Ursula felt it grip hard, even between her toes, to become a sleek, flawless, second skin. Ursula rolled up her pant leg and caressed the glassy surface of the stocking connecting her leg to the ebon pool. "Perfect." Oh, God, I'm actually purring. "Hold it right there for a minute." Ursula squirmed and tugged at her remaining boot. My underwear is sopping. Dee is oblivious, I bet Yves is suspicious, but the meliae are bloodhounds for sex. They must know exactly how I feel. Including Nyx. "Let me take my other boot off and then we can start lesson two." Ursula giggled and leered. "Getting into Ursula's pants."
"Nyx's a good name," Dee told to Eurydice. "I don't see the problem. What's going on?"
A balled-up sock sailed over Eurydice's shoulder. "Uh. Y'know. Stuff."
Ursula plunked her bare foot into the ebon pool. Nyx needed no further encouragement. Lurid fluid raced over Ursula's ankle and disappeared under the pants cuff. Ursula relaxed recumbent. The creamy flesh peeping from rips in Ursula's distressed jeans vanished into shining black. A cool bath crawled over her knees. She sighed and scissored her legs. The Nyx-stocking clinched and flexed. Ursula mewed. "Sooo…slinky." The delicious sensation stole higher across Ursula's thighs and Nyx's body sank into the pool of pitch up to her chest. Ursula thought Nyx looked more like an imperiled heroine sinking into a jungle tar pit than a dissolving meliae. Then the velvet tide poured into her panties, engulfing her ass and sex in a single, siphoning, suckling kiss, and Ursula did not think or see anything at all.
Eurydice's sunglasses melted in her clenched fist. She spun and shuffled around the front of the Jeep, her gummy army boots sticking to the pavement and leaving a trail of smoking green footprints. "Dee." She spoke in hoarse monotone. "Dee let's go."
Dee turned to face his advancing girlfriend. "Huh?"
Jellied dreadlocks tumbled out of Eurydice's hoodie and fell over her eyes in a chaotic, steamy mass. "Let's go fuck."
Ursula's soft mewling drifted over from the other side of the Jeep. Eurydice grabbed Dee by the elbow and urged him into a copse of scrub trees clustered close to the road. "Let's go fuck now."
Yves shouted after them, "We've got a time table, remember? Cannibal skank-bots? World in jeopardy? Hello?" He tried another tactic. "Jesus, Dee, I can see your dick…No, that doesn't help, Eurydice, I can see through your ass."
A swash of black gushed out from beneath Ursula's belt to fill the narrow hollow of her belly. She pushed against the road, hips pumping the air, and coils of black lashed over the small of her back. She drifted down from the height of ambush orgasm into a muzzy mind and a world in soft focus. I came so hard it knocked my glasses off. The black bodysuit stretched to taste and tickle her ribs even as more swirled up from the pool, coursing under her knees to swirl between her thighs and the globes of her ass—but something was missing. What was it? Oh, yes. "Tighter."
Raspberry groaned, sat up on her knees, and drove gluey fingers into her pussy. She threw her head back—and did a double take at CeeCee, who was just standing there. "How can you not be whacking off right now?" Raspberry demanded. "Can't you fucking smell it?"
"Don't mistake composure for ease, honey," CeeCee said, "I'm hot enough to sit on a fireplug."
The silken bodysuit slurped up Ursula's chest, swallowing one rib, sucking against the skin to fill every pore, and then moving onto the next. Ursula sighed and reached between her breasts to unhook her bra. "Won't be needing this for a while." The bra unsnapped and fell away.
Raspberry pulverized her sex with her fingers but still had the presence of mind to grit her teeth and quip, "You didn't need it in the first place."
Nyx's molecule-thin pseudopodia slithered over Ursula's breasts. Ursula cried out when the bodysuit vacuumed against the tender flesh. Her nipples hardened under the second skin, each crinkle made to stand out in sharp relief by the glistening coating. A familiar, burning wire stretched down from Ursula's chest and stabbed deep beneath her bellybutton.
Nyx descended into her contracting pool until only her shoulders breached the surface, covering Ursula in a thickening shell of liquid night. Wanting to look Nyx in the face before that face disappeared, Ursula swiveled her hips in an effort to sit up. The whole bodysuit sloshed and the goth girl was lost in a raging surf of overstimulation from toes to clit to tummy to tits to neck to chin to lips-teeth-ear…
thank – you – named – me – you – saved – me – named – and – saved – me – thank – you – thank – you…
The voice was so quiet, small and quick that Ursula could barely distinguish it from the oceanic thrum of her heart in her stoppered ears. Ursula tried to speak, "Ny—" but the black fluid filled Ursula's mouth with the taste of licorice, anise and absinthe.
yes – me – Nyx – yes – name – life – thank – you – let – me – thank – you…
Panic fluttered in Ursula's stomach as the bodysuit surged thick and fast over her face, sealing her lips and eyes.
no – never – hurt – you – never – would – never – oh – let – me – thank – you – let – me – fuck – you…
Licorice ambrosia poured down her throat. Nyx's gel-flesh nuzzled Ursula's clit and vulva. The goth girl spread her legs in mute assent but could not hope to match the cavernous pit of need her sex had become. The swath of bodysuit covering Ursula's cleft concaved, throbbed deep into her core, and set her to flight.
Ursula's inner eye buoyed into the sky. Her body sprawled on the road below. The last vestige of Nyx, a dome of jet black on otherwise faded asphalt, liquefied and flooded up Ursula's kicking legs. The lustrous coating gave Ursula's skin and angular profile the perfection of a masterwork sculpture of polished black granite. "I wish I had taken off those stupid blue jeans," Ursula sighed. "I bet our legs look fantastic."
"Ursula…" The voice was mellow and warm. "Ursula…" It was fatherly and familiar. "Ursula! You will go to the Dagobah System." It was Alec Guinness.
Ursula's adrenal gland was stuck in the body flopping on the pavement far below her mind's eye, but she still felt an insurgent urge to jump out of her skin. "Wah!" Ursula's point of view spun, taking in the road, the roof of the jeep, Eurydice on all fours and impaling herself onto Dee's cock, and the blazing, mid-morning sun. She was alone in the air. "Wait. Dagobah System?"
"Ha! Kidding, kidding," said Obi-Wan Kenobi's voice. "It's me, Galatea. I left a little bit of nanomek in your head—" Ursula spluttered and swore but the voice continued without interruption "—to give you a message in case the shit hit the fan. If you're hearing this, it means you've gone astral and I'm in trouble, so you need to—"
hello – hello – where – did – you – go – ah – there – you – are – hello – hey – um – getting – crowded – got – company?
The disembodied voice of Alec Guinness paused. "What the fuck was that?"
"You said you were just a recorded message," Ursula accused.
"I am," said the voice, growing edgy and strangely modulated, "but…"
jesus – ha – it's – a – lime – ha – ha – get – in – the – cranium – ha – ha – ha!
"That's really freaking me out!" Galatea cried out her bewilderment in her usual fiery alto. "What's going on?"
Ursula wrapped herself in blanket of smug silence before speaking. "You're the uninvited guest, Galatea, not her, so you explain yourself first."
"Oh, all right," Galatea grumped. "But we've talked about this already, remember?"
"I wasn't expecting any of this." Ursula's point of view righted. "I can handle the astral-body stuff better now, thanks to your coaching, but how the Hell are you out here with me?"
"Damn," said Galatea's voice. "I thought I'd explained this bit. You said it would be okay. And this message is running out of nanomek fast. Playing around in here costs a bundle."
yes – Ursula – yes – so – strong – your – mind – is – so – strong – your – body – so – sweet – come – back – and – feel – me – fuck – you – please – sweet – strong – please!
"I gotta be honest, Ursula," Galatea confessed, "your new girlfriend's creeping me out. Anyway, I asked you to give me, a newbie me, a power-boost from me, the old me, in case something bad happened to me, the whole-me. That boost was me, a kinda mini-me. See?"
"Uh, yeah," Ursula said, her point of view bobbing in a cameraman's nod, "that's the part I didn't understand the first time, either. Sorry."
"When I mindfucked you," Galatea explained, exasperated, "I left a little message-web and a big wad of energy, a backup magic battery and a message in a bottle explaining how to use it. This message-web's almost gone, now, you know. Just a few thoughts left."
Ursula mused, "A backup magic battery? A big wad in a bottle? But you said you recharge your magic by fucking Dee's brains out...Oh my God, you put Dee's sperm in my brain!"
ew – ew – ew – um – no – wait – hold – on – magic – battery?
"Don't be silly." It was Galatea's turn to be smug. "You don't put sperm in your brain, you put it in your—"
found – it – found – it – lime – thank – you – found – it – just – enough – keep – me – going – keep – me – fucking…
"Hey." Galatea grew faint. "That's not yours."
"Nyx, no," Ursula insisted. "The, uh, power level of that battery must be so small."
Galatea's furious screech echoed as if from miles away. "It's over nine thousand!"
"Okay." Ursula astral-shrugged. "Maybe more than a little. Still, Nyx, don't waste it fucking yourself to death."
worth – it – worth – it – worth – it – to – thank – you – to – love – you…
Ursula aspired into the air, stunned. "Nyx…"
"It's easy to for people like us to die for love, little sister." Galatea's wistful, distant voice crackled with static. "Ursula wants you to take the harder path."
don't – understand – don't – want – to – stop – want – to – thank – want – to – fuck – want – to – love…
Ursula focused on the source of the whispery non-speech. While Galatea's astral message emanated from the surrounding air, Nyx's words flittered from somewhere deep within, from between the eyes and beside the heart. "Live for me, Nyx."
will – try – will – live – will – love – live – love – oh – love…
Galatea's voice strained even as it broke apart. "It…yours…lit…sister. Ursula…tell…love him. Tell Dee…no matt…happens. I love…always." And Galatea was gone.
so – sad – so – strange – Dee – cute – kind – caring – but – too – solid – almost – stolid – yuck.
Ursula scudded down toward the Jeep, laughing. "I thought all goo girls were into solid boys."
Dee – too – hard – CeeCee – too – soft – Ursula – just – right!
She drew close to her body, marveling at the mummifying corset of Nyx's embrace. It smoothed out every uneven line or asymmetrical curve, molding her flesh into its ideal shape—not a generic twiggy, Hollywood starlet ideal, but an ideal Ursula shape. Her ebony-glued braids were giant, bendy licorice sticks. Her legs twitched, her gummed lips curling in a rictus of carnal bliss. "Nyx, how am I breathing?"
no – need – you – opened – yourself – to – me – and – let – me – flood – within – you – now – you – breathe – the – blood – music.
"You mean you're oxygenating my blood?"
bah – science – babble – no – mystery – no – romance – come – back – come – sing – the – blood – music – with – me! or – just – cum – that's – fine – too.
Ursula wafted close enough to see the stretchy black membrane covering her tongue and teeth. "I need to breathe to get back in, to inspirit my body."
ah – yes – inspiration – yes – mystery – yes.
The liquid shadow drained from Ursula's face in fingers of running fluid. Her mouth swallowed its contents down in a sensuous gulp. Ursula heard her own post-orgasmic laughter for the first time—a deep, slow, mind-blown chortling. "Damn," she said, watching her body luxuriate on the ground and feel itself up. "I never imagined myself like this."
"So…sexy. Hold on, that reminds me of something I can't believe I forgot."
["…That was 'going at it'? But I was just walking…No, you're right, it was more than that. It really did feel like sex. Constant, nonstop sex…"]
The bodysuit peeled away from her head completely, forming a thick band below Ursula's chin, more choker necklace than turtleneck. "Oh, Nyx," Ursula sang, ethereal voice dripping with mischief. "In order for you to wear me, to use my body's motion to conserve your magic, you’re going to have to hold still, to not burn nanomek, and let me move you."
understood – that – sounds – strange – but – fun – so?
"So, I did it with Galatea once, and she said it was a little…intense."
["…When you were wearing me, and I held still while you moved, I didn't burn any magic…But I could still feel you—taste you, touch you, smell you—and you pulled me and pushed me and stretched me and…and fucked me. There's no better word for it. You were touching every part of me. I had no core, no reserve, no backup, no body, just you, you, you, everywhere. I could feel your tits bounce and you pussy drip and your ass rock and your legs swing, and when you put me into your mouth…"]
A spiky shiver shot through the obsidian substance of the bodysuit. wait – what? constant – um – nonstop – sex? pull –and – pussy – and – tits – and – push – and – legs – and – stretch – and – fuck – every – part?
Ursula bobbed back up a bit. "You can read my flashbacks? I mean, hear my memories?"
when – they – make – your – heart – beat – this – fast – and – your – sex – get – this – wet? yes – but – but – constant – nonstop – sex?
Ursula could not wait to get back into her body so she could leer properly. She hovered, poised above her pouting mouth. "Oh, yeah."
but – but – for – how – um – long?
Ursula dipped down. "If I have any say in the matter…" Her body's lips parted. "…I am going to make it last…" She pushed her astral-presence close and an electric thrill shocked through her as she tasted her own lips "…for the rest of our lives."
oh – God – oh – God – oh – my – God…
Ursula threw her head back, gasped, and became inspired.
Take me down where the love honey flows,
Kiss you nice–nibble your toes.
Take me down where the good stuff grows,
Love you nice–tickle your nose!
—B-52s, Good Stuff
"Shit," Dee said over dry crackling, "I broke another tree. Sorry." He let go of Eurydice's waist, slipped out of her nectarous sex, and stepped back.
Eurydice threw him a lazy, cross-eyed smile over her bare shoulder. "S'okay," she panted, clinging to the listing tree for dear life. "I'm goo—oop!" The tree groaned and gave way, dragging her down with it. She lay there, bent over the fractured tree stump, her rump high in the air. "Man, am I good." Her giggles sent shock waves through her heart-stopping apple of an ass.
Dee ogled her rear-end. Green syrup wept down the insides of her squeezing thighs. The translucent flesh of her ass, her pussy, and her tenebrous inner gel, churned a milky, pale jade as his cum suffused her substance. He ran three fingers up the inner curve of a thigh and the liquid of her sex ran down the back of his hand as hot mint jelly. Eurydice cooed and rocked back, squashing his fingers between her legs. Dee grinned, angled his fingers up, and eased them further in. Eurydice whimpered and thumped the ground with her fist, stirring a little flurry of twigs, leaves and earth into the air. "No fair," she whined as he slid his hand about, "don't tease me."
Dee bowed over her. She groaned, propped herself up, and crushed her back into his chest. "I thought you liked it," he scolded into her ear.
"I do. I like it too much." She plopped back down to the ground in a viridian puddle.
"And we're running out of trees," Dee admitted.
Eurydice glanced around, frowning. The four toppled trees gave her a clear view of the road and the Jeep. "I finally get to fuck you in public, and nobody's watching, dammit. Yves is just sitting there reading a roadmap."
"Yves is not a voyeur," Dee said. "'Unless there're two dicks involved, and one of them's mine, I'm not interested,' he says. It's part of his 'existential monogamy' nonsense." He tapped her on the ass. "C'mon, hon. He's waiting."
"It's not just that," Eurydice said, watching Yves comparing notes between the hardcopy map and talky GPS. "He's wound so tight." She turned to Dee, eyes glistening. "You know why, right?" Dee nodded and she faced forward again. "And now he's surrounded by goo girls. It isn't his wet dream, it's a nightmare. What are we going to do?"
Dee cleaned himself off with the muscle shirt. "The only thing we can do." He plucked his briefs and borrowed sweatpants off a broken branch. "Be his friends and help him save the world. Oh, and ruin another one of his shirts. I grabbed a bunch of his old clothes from his closet and stuck them in the trunk."
Eurydice smirked. "I like your priorities. Let's go." She pulled herself upright, her chest stamped with the zigzag of tree bark. Gel pulsed down her legs in a fluidic reflex, splashing into the puddle of piping hot apple jam at her feet. Teeny whitecaps formed on the puddle's surface and soon Eurydice stood in the center of a minute maelstrom. She huffed and closed her eyes in concentration. The whitecaps peaked and spun, higher and faster. Eurydice clenched her fists at her sides. "C'mon, dammit, c'mon, keep it together."
Dee could see the anxiety painted across her face. He tried to ask if everything was all right, but she spat, "I can do this, dammit." She hefted her fists up, arms trembling with the effort, as if struggling to raise heavy, invisible dumbbells. The whitecaps stabbed into the air, rising and wriggling like fingers—"Got it!"—Eurydice snapped her fists up to her shoulders and the whirligig of goo funneled up her legs, feeding her core. "Got it, God damn it."
Dee pressed a gentle hand against her back. He felt currents racing below the surface tension of her gel-flesh. "Are you in control?"
"Aye. I mean, yeah." This time, the smile she gave Dee over her shoulder was crooked but nervy. "But if you ask which me is in control, I'm going to kick you in the crotch."
Dee nodded. "It's a fair cop; that's exactly what I was thinking." He hitched up his briefs. "But is there anything I can do?"
Eurydice winked. "Lower your sperm count?"
Dee snapped the elastic band of his briefs. "I'm already wearing really tight undies."
"I can see that," Eurydice breathed, eyes shining as she glanced down. She sighed and shook her head. "Better put Mine away, Dee, unless you brought Hazmat suits for your friends along with those extra clothes. I lose a little control with each nanogasm."
"You kind of always have," Dee said, pulling on the pair of baggy Hammer pants.
"But not like this. Too many nanogasms at once and I, um…" She groped for the right word. "I fragment, I guess."
Dee perked up. "Like a hard drive."
"You are such a dork." Eurydice mugged and morphed into her Unabomber disguise. She took care to smooth out tufts of unruly, violent green cilia that erupted from random crevices, sprouting from the tops of her boots and struggling out from between her tits.
"I'm in love with a Great Old One," Dee mused as the last writhing mass vanished into her disguise. "What would Lovecraft say?"
"Howard? Dunno," Eurydice shrugged, "he kept passing out. Had to take notes from Clark and Rob."
Dee's eyes bugged out of his head. "You're shitting me."
Eurydice crooked an eyebrow at him and popped her sunglasses on. "I don't kiss and tell." She sauntered out of the devastated copse and onto the road.
Dee hopped after her. "Aw, come on, you've got to be kidding. Right? Right?"
Eurydice swung her hips, crying out a preposterous, overacted fake orgasm. "Ia! Ia!" Ursula swaggered into view around the Jeep and Eurydice froze mid-swing. "Ia—whoa."
Dee's jaw dropped. Ursula scissored down the road, a proverbial walking streak of sex. She had abandoned her clunky Doc Martins for a pair of gleaming, black vinyl go-go boots that hugged her ankles and disappeared up the bellbottomed legs of her jeans. Thick, six-inch heels whacked-whacked-whacked! on the pavement as Ursula brought one foot down right in front of the other. Without the poncho, the waist of her jeans smiled wide under her flat stomach, riding low enough to expose the mouth of the valley of her crotch. Dee saw no flash of flesh, just more of that same glossy black PVC-like material. It rose up out of her pants in a seamless one-piece, sealing off her entire body below the neck in a hard candy shell that yielded and flexed with her every movement and breath but never stretched or creased. An Emma Peel cat-suit with muscle memory. "How do we look?"
"You have to ask?" Dee managed.
Ursula ground to a halt. Her fingers, gloved skintight, toyed with a long, plaited ponytail as she muttered. "Yves wouldn't look up from the map. CeeCee wouldn't stop wisecracking. Raz couldn't stop frigging but that's okay because she says the most awful things anyway."
Dee interrupted but soon found himself at lost for words. "Ursula, you've got nothing to worry about. You look, well, I don't quite know how to say this, but you look…"
"Damn, girl," wowed Eurydice.
"Yeah," Dee agreed. "What she said."
Ursula blushed, beamed, and flounced back to the jeep. Dee watched her braids pendulum across her ass. "I wonder how that feels for Nyx," he said.
"Mm, I can’t even imagine," Eurydice sighed. When Ursula disappeared around the Jeep, Eurydice asked him, "Should I be jealous?"
"Excuse me?" Dee crooked his thumb. "You were the one who fucked her, apparently."
"No," Eurydice said, swaying close and running her hands over Dee's ribs. "I mean, have we ever tried that? Have you ever, y'know…" She left a curlicue finger-trail of green frosting over his abs. "…worn me?"
"Not like that," Dee admitted. "Not exactly."
Eurydice pouted. "Then I am jealous."
Dee waggled his eyebrows. "You don’t remember the Nanocream Bubble Spa Technique."
Eurydice pulled off her sunglasses to wonder at him wide-eyed. "Whuzzat?"
Dee scooped the frosting off his skin and popped it into his mouth, lips smacking at the tangy taste. "I don't kiss and tell, either." Eurydice mocked shock and Dee added, "You'll remember. You'll remember everything, I promise."
Dee smiled as confidently as he could and made his way past her toward the Jeep, pretending not to hear the anxious way her voice fell as she mustered, "Yeah, I know I will."
"This is an utter indignity," CeeCee protested from the trunk of the Jeep, a cramped gap between the backseat and the vehicle's rear hatch. "I like restraint if it doesn't go too far, but a woman of my stature should not be so confined."
"Get your boobs out of my head," Eurydice huffed.
Dee, intrigued by the peculiar phrasing, twisted in the front seat to get a good look. Eurydice mashed her elbows against the avalanche of confection-flesh billowing over the lip of the trunk. The speeding Jeep jolted. CeeCee's butter yellow tits bulged around Eurydice's arms and flumped against both sides of her head, orange areola smothering the green girl's ears through the hoody. "Great," Eurydice said as stiff nipples slipped through the surface tension of her own citrus gel, "now all I can think about is tight, scratchy sweaters, baby binkies, and—for some reason—Graham cracker crumbs."
"Unless your man's hankering for a slice of Key Lime pie," CeeCee told her, "we'd better get to this 'SRU' place in a hurry."
"Would you rather be stuck on the roof with Raspberry?" Eurydice threatened.
"I'm fucking the wind!" Raspberry hollered from above. Lavender Ghostbuster slime spattered the windows. Yves flicked on the windshield wipers, launching a spray of wiper fluid. "Oh, bugger off, you butt-pirate." Yves snarled and pumped the brake. Raspberry cried out with each lurch. "Oh, yeah! Harder! Give it! Aw, was that the best you got?"
"I think I'm beginning to hate her," Yves said, pinching the bridge of his nose. Eurydice shot Dee a worried look. Dee put a hand on Yves' arm. "I'll be okay," Yves muttered. "That caffeine headache must be kicking in early. Are you sure you know where we're going? The GPS thinks were in middle of the county reservoir." Dee gave Yves a reassuring shoulder squeeze and Yves sagged in the driver's seat. "Look, I'm know I'm not 'great' or even close to 'fine,' but I will be okay, so let's just get this thing done. I swear I'll let you know if I get in trouble. Hell, you'll probably know before I do. All right?" Dee nodded and Yves glanced into the rearview mirror and spoke to Eurydice. "You too, all right?" Eurydice nodded and fought back another landslide of cheesecake. Yves rolled his eyes, frowned, and angled the rearview mirror. "Ursula, what's up? Carsick?"
Ursula sat in the backseat next to Eurydice, flushed and agape, her face prickled with sweat, her oval eyeglasses askew at the tip of her nose. "N-no, not really, I'm fine. Really. Just..." She shifted in her poncho. The rubbery collar around her neck looked dappled and slick. "Just don't bounce and jerk the car around like that again, okay? All that cum, um, commotion caught us by surprise, that's all."
Yves shrugged, scanning the road ahead. Eurydice, arms spread wide to hold back the marshmallow tide, grinned at Dee but said nothing. Ursula turned to look out the window, cupping her chin with a gloved hand. She ran two black-lacquered fingertips over her lips. A single, impish giggle escaped her and she sucked her fingers into her mouth. The inky material of the glove wrinkled and wriggled in frantic motion, but Ursula just worked her fingers in and out, her slurping laughter deep and muffled.
"Do I want to know?" Yves asked as Dee spun to face forward.
"No," Dee said, blushing scarlet, "you really don't."
"Good," said Yves, pulling the Jeep into a wide, empty parking lot with a white brick building squatting in the middle of it, "because we're here."
"No Mini Coop," Dee observed, "but the sign says 'Open,' so SB is probably inside. Don't park too close. We don't want to interrupt anything."
"Mm, listen," Ursula said, pulling her wet fingers out of her mouth. "They've got a bathroom in there, right? Because I really gotta pee—Eeep!" She sat up, stiff as a board and thunderstruck. She blinked, blushed, and relaxed. "Uh, never mind."
Eurydice edged away from Ursula as Yves picked a parking space halfway into the lot. The Jeep's engine cut off and Dee heard a discordant ringing at the edge of hearing. The car ticked as it cooled. "Well," Yves said, waving a hand at the cluttered storefront window. "Now what?"
The ugly claxon grew loud as the door with SRU MEDICAL stenciled in fading blue ink opened inward. A lean, muscular girl with skin the color of Ruby Red grapefruit juice and cornrows of cotton candy stepped out onto the sidewalk. Her coppery, sleeveless dress rippled in the wind, tracing the sleek physique beneath.
"Dee, I thought you said Strawberry Banana was hung like a horse," Yves said. The rose girl stepped down onto the pavement. Dee nodded. "Some dick-girl," Yves scoffed, eyes narrowed. "Where's her dick?"
The rose girl raised her right arm parallel with her shoulder. She furled her fingers and a forest of fractals sprouted from her palm. The pale, rainbowed lines and wedges zigzagged through the air, reminding Dee of the sudden, geometric spread of ice crystals captured with time-elapsed photography. The cloud of chaos whirling away from her fingers grew random and fractured and unrecognizable, but at some hidden instant collapsed into solidity and certain, deadly shape.
The rose girl held her scimitar aloft. Its wide, curving blade of pale pink crystal dazzled with sunlight. She wrapped her left hand around its huge pommel and brought it down before her chest in the imposing two-handed grip of a harem guard from the decadent flights of Arabian fantasy. Her diamond eyes were cold and expressionless. The sickle tip of the sword towered above her head. For a long while, Dee heard no sound other than that horrid bell, blessedly muffled behind the closing door. Then came the crunch of dust and lose pavement as the rose girl advanced on the Jeep.
Yves stared ahead. He clucked his tongue.
"Do something, Dee," Eurydice whispered, huddled into CeeCee's pliant flesh.
"What should I do?" Dee asked as the rose girl drew closer." SB could probably kick my ass six ways to Sunday. Maybe I could talk to her?" He shook his head to clear it. "Wait, what are we worried about? She's made out of Jell-O. That sword is made out of Jell-O. It’s useless."
The rose girl swept the sword out and down in an underhand grip. Its tip connected with the pavement. Sparks flew. She stepped over the charred, smoking scar the sword left in the blacktop. The swing followed through and the sword slapped back into both hands again, unmarked.
"I just shat my pants," Raspberry announced from the roof. The rose girl had crossed half the distance between the store and the Jeep. "I had to grow pants just to pinch a loaf in them. Somebody better appreciate the effort I went through before we all die by shish kabob."
"I think," Yves said calmly—and Dee knew that Yves at his calmest was also Yves at his most dangerous—"I've had enough of this sort of thing for today." Yves clicked open his seatbelt, eased out the driver's side door, and ambled into the rose girl's path. He walked with an unhurried gate, shoulders squared, his knees and arms kept bent at a relaxed angle.
"Yves' in trouble," Dee said.
"Don't let her hurt him, Dee," Eurydice pled.
Dee hunkered in the Jeep's busted doorframe, ready to leap out at the two figures closing ranks in front of him. "I won't." Damn it,, he thought, none of this makes any sense. SB wound her scimitar back, a batter ready to swing for the bleachers. Dee coiled to jump. I can't think of any reason for SB to act this way…
"I've sparred with a Swiss Flambergé," Yves said, never breaking his stride as he stepped within striking distance, "a Zweihänder sword almost as tall as I am, even a stupid Klingon bat'leth." He did not stop until he and SB stood toe-to-toe and eye-to-eye. "But that…" Yves nodded at the crystal bladed scimitar glinting high above their heads. He let the silence stretch, his observation incomplete. SB cocked one eyebrow. The sword dropped a fraction of an inch, and Yves said, "…is just gay."
Dee thought, Unless this is another test?
"And that," Yves finished, "is coming from a guy who voluntarily has sex with men." The scimitar's scintillating tip traced an eccentric oval in the air as SB's poker face cracked into perplexity. "I mean," Yves added, pointing, "look at that thing. It's got to be over a foot wide, and, what, four feet long? Something from a video game." He shook his head. "Not a real sword. What the Hell can you do with it? Run around screaming 'Hassan chop'?" SB glared in silent defiance, turned aside, and brought the sword down close, hugging the pommel between her breasts, like a toddler protecting her favored teddy bear from a bullying brother. "Fine," Yves shrugged, stepping back. "I'll show you." He held out his hand. "Give it here."
SB stared down into Yves open palm. Dee stood up in the Jeep doorframe, leaning outward. "Uh, Yves?"
Yves flicked a Stay-out-of-this frown in Dee's direction before waggling the fingers of his outstretched hand at SB. "Well?"
Scowling in uncertainty and moving with exaggerated care, SB offered the haft of the scimitar to Yves. Yves wrapped a hand around the roseate bulge of the pommel. SB stared at Yves' tan hand for a while before Yves said, "You've got to let go eventually, you know." SB relaxed her fingers and the full weight of the blade transferred to Yves. "See?" Yves grunted, quickly grabbing the scimitar with both hands. "It's got to weigh over ten pounds. There's no way you can…Huh." He choked up on the grip and took another pace backward. "It's got good balance, I'll give you that." SB pursed her lips, a sarcastic smirk beginning to blossom on her face—the scimitar swooshed once, twice, three times around Yves' shoulders as he whipped it about with the expertise of a champion baton twirler—and SB gasped and gawped instead, hands clenched over her heart.
Dee hopped onto the pavement. "Hey, Yves?"
Yves ignored him and set the scimitar spinning on its pommel in the flat of one hand. SB broke out into a sweat, her hands dropping to trace little, twitching circles over her washboard abs and chiseled obliques. "Alright," Yves confessed, tossing the sword end-over-end and high into the air, "it's got freakin' amazing balance." The sword purred—whum-whummm—slicing the sky before Yves snatched it and began an effortless twirl again. "But let's see what it can really do."
SB's eyes flashed with panic. "Wait…" Yves executed a simple, modified kata form-exercise: knelt on one knee then barked wordlessly, striking out horizontal with the blade before rising for a wicked quick, overhead cut in the empty air. SB moaned and plopped down hard onto her ass. Yves performed a series of fluid slashes, cuts, and thrusts of a kata for practicing fending off three attackers at once. SB, her eyes glazed and jaw hanging, watched him shuffle, swing, and shout as he completed one maneuver after another, describing a circle around her. "Please," she begged, clawing at the pavement. "Nn, God, please…I, I can't…"
The hollering bell grew loud again. "Hey, blondie." A young woman with raven hair glowered from the storefront doorway. Yves stopped in mid-mock decapitation to turn and look. Below the quivering blade, SB's eyes rolled back into her head and she toppled over insensate.
"Give Strawberry her banana back," Tomoe said.
Yves snapped out of his combat-trance. "Sorry. I'm really comfortable working up a sweat with this thing for some reason. I guess I got carried away. And I stand corrected about what I said before: this is a real sword." He knelt, holding the scimitar out to SB. "Here you go. Hey, you okay?"
SB fumbled her way upright. She plucked the proffered sword from Yves' hand, grimaced, and gingerly cradled the blade against her shoulder. Hunching over, she scuttled away. Tomoe followed SB with her eyes, inscrutable smile dawning, as the rose girl crossed in front of her and raced around a whitewashed corner of the store.
SB careened into a green metal dumpster standing flush against the building's western wall. Damn thing was always on the rear dock with the recycle bins. What the fuck was it doing here? Oh, that's right, Tomoe had made SB empty and haul the dumpster around the side last night for some unfathomable, Tomoe-ish reason. Unfathomable last night, SB corrected herself, but obvious now. This was just one of the prices SB paid for falling in love with a woman who could see the future unrolling before her like a movie in 4-D. Of course, Tomoe wanted that future to be a porn movie full of as many scenes of SB cumming as hard, as much, and as many times as possible. Over their three thousand year affair (not counting the relative-eternity time-loops Tomoe enjoyed watching the best), Tomoe took precautions and performed Rube Goldberg level machinations to ensure SB's life was filled with mind-numbing money-shot after mind-blowing money-shot after soul-shattering money-shot. Everyone wondered what Tomoe was always smiling about, but only SB knew for sure—or rather, would surely find out for sure in a few hours.
Last night, she should have known better than to wonder why she was moving the stupid dumpster. She should have remembered moving the dumpster, period. "Hose down the inside," Tomoe had demanded. "With the real hose, I mean." She had smiled inscrutably as SB fumed. "At least at first. Oh, and leave the top open, so it can dry. What, can't a woman want a clean dumpster every once in a while?" SB had forgotten all about it, had forgotten about nearly everything once that beautiful boy started working her scimitar like it was a tantric sex toy.
All these thoughts flickered through SB's powerful mind-web in the split second it took for her to smack into the rounded lip of the dumpster, lose her balance, and be carried by her momentum up and over and into the mouth of the fucking thing.
SB twisted at just the right moment and landed, blessedly, on her back on the floor of the dumpster. The scimitar lay heavy between her breasts. The monomolecular smart-edge of the blade knew the quantum signature of her flesh and would not cut, so instead it just thrummed there, sandwiched between her tits like a four and a half foot long, fourteen inch wide, thirteen pound dick.
Which was exactly what it was.
For the first time in many years, SB was scared to reattach her penis. On countless occasions, she had woken up in the morning to find that her penis was missing again. That usually meant Tomoe had gotten carried away watching her private SB cosmic spacetime bukkake filmography, and had made off with SB's dick for some "us time." SB would just sigh and smile, knowing Tomoe would soon slink back so SB could rejoin with her dick and experience all the fun the two of them had just had. There had been a few scares before, like the occasion Czarina Catherine hired Mata Hari to fuck SB's penis off and smuggle it into the Winter Palace. ("Why did you give Mata a time machine?" SB had asked one cold October morning in Paris. "She paid five gulden!" was Tomoe's excuse.)
It took SB and Tomoe thirty years to get the dick back, although Tomoe spent most of that time laughing her ass off. Catherine had used it monstrously, convincing SB she would never get it back until the Czarina died—which she did, stroking out in the bathtub while stroking off SB's penis for Catherine's twelve thousandth male orgasm-by-magical-proxy. When SB finally reattached her cock, the resultant money-shot lasted about eighteen months.
Tomoe had spent most of that time laughing her ass off, too, come to think of it.
But this was the first time someone else had ever used her dick, detached, right in front of her. If SB had not locked it into its sword-form before handing it over, the boy would have been drenched in jism, she was sure of it. As a sword, SB's dick responded to swordplay as a cock responds to foreplay, and this boy was an apparent master of both. But locked into its sword-form, her cock could not cum. On the numerous battlefields upon which she and Tomoe had fought—Atlantis' she-demon engulfment being the absolute worst—SB would cleave her way through a dozen or so opponents before sneaking behind a convenient balustrade, unlocking her dick and watching it erupt, only do go through all those orgasms all over again when the battle was won and her dick was between her legs again. This was the first time someone other herself had wielded her weapon as a weapon with an apparent expertise rivaling her own, so her scimitar had reached orgasm-point in a matter of moments, but, locked in form and in someone else's hands, could not achieve release.
SB had not known she could experience a self-perpetuating feedback-loop of orgasm denial. The needed components for creating such a harrowing phenomenon were rare enough to not present themselves throughout her long life until now. As the beautiful boy manhandled her, the cresting pressure and sizzling sting of the moment of ejaculation had bloomed in her belly; bloomed but then did not ebb; did not ebb but then increased; did not only increase but also increase exponentially as the sensation of continual imminent release itself fed the strength of the impending orgasm that never came but just built and built and built.
SB hefted the pink scimitar with the care of a demolitions expert probing an unexploded bomb. Her mind-web spent a few precious microseconds—the orgasmic feedback-loop still building (and building and building) deep within her—analyzing all the possible ways her predicament could play itself out. There was only one conclusion: Tomoe had labored to engineer this moment, to take advantage of the variables of the universe—or, perhaps, to arrange those universal variables in the first place—to maneuver SB into this situation, this crowning masterpiece of pleasure-torment, and Tomoe's grand vision would not be denied. SB propped her neck and shoulders on the wall of the dumpster, knees bent. She brought the pommel of the scimitar, a round, fat, polished ruby, down to her crotch and spread her legs.
The feminine slit waiting there was pouting, wet, and ready. More than ready, since her feminine side experienced the feedback loop as a clitoral orgasm that never truly came but only coiled in the anticipatory tension of her muscular core. She leaned forward, grabbing the scimitar's grip with both hands, and hefted it into the air to inspect the pommel gemstone, red as blood and as plump as a plum. How could she experience a clitoral orgasm, she thought, when her clitoris counterweighted twelve pounds of lethal, metaphorical manhood?
"T, my lovey, my creator, my cheeseburger," she muttered as she brought the pommel back down to nudge against the folds of her female sex. "You are into some seriously different shit."
She pressed down on the pommel. SB's rugged flesh did not give like other goo-girls'. She felt a spark of pain as her pussy stretched to accommodate the intrusion. It was soon replaced by a flood of pleasure from being so full as the pommel pushed inward, followed by the first inch of the grip, then the second and third. The flood of pleasure became a searing tower of need as the pommel melted and merged with her innermost nectar. Her sword transmogrified from an intruder invading her sex from without, into an extrusion of her sex, thrusting out from within. The blade softened, thickening in width but shrinking in length until it returned to the three-foot, dick-girl erection curving up from between her thighs that had started it all.
SB remembered how she had surprised and frightened her creator in the eon past, when SB first emerged from the icy, luciform waters of the nymphaeum grotto in the navel of the world. SB remembered how she had changed Tomoe's mind. She remembered how Tomoe had promised to make amends for that initial rejection, and how SB had, all those years ago, failed to notice that when Tomoe swore "I will never look away from your dick again," and SB had replied, "…in fear. Never look away in fear, you mean, right? Right. I accept your oath," Tomoe did not say yes or no…
…She had only smiled.
Meliae jism, gouts and gouts of cloying, sweet seminal fluid, surged from her core and rocketed out of her dick. Cum plastered the wall of the dumpster behind her head and spattered onto her face. Only a fraction of the orgasm feed-back loop had unwound, so the nanomek in SB's core went into overdrive, rush-producing and then pneumatically launching another gallon, then two, then ten, of melia cum. Twenty seconds and a quarter billion nanogasms later, the dumpster resembled the strawberry preserve cooling vat in a jelly factory. SB sprawled at the bottom, completely submerged, awash in both body and mind in an ocean of release.
Consciousness returned and SB slithered up from the depths of jam, her dick detumescing. She burned a few thousand nanomek cleaning herself up as much as she could, and a thousand more manufacturing another copper-colored one piece dress. It felt cool and soothing against her still-weeping manhood. She hopped out of the dumpster, knees trembling until her nanomek rebuilt the carbon-crystal muscles in her legs. She marched toward the front of the store. "T," she panted. "Devil-bitch. Gotta get even. Got to get more nanomek. Got to go club—I got it!" She hunched her shoulders, mussed her hair, disassembled and melted a little musculature until she looked as worn-out and wobbly on the outside as she felt on the inside, and hobbled around the corner to the front of the store. "Here comes your darling cheeseburger."
The rose girl zipped around the corner. Dee heard a hollow, metallic bang. Yves and Tomoe sized each other up. Tomoe sighed and shrugged one shoulder, then stood on her tiptoes to regard Dee. "Oh, hey," she called, "Dee! Who's your bish—"
"Mm-Gawd-yes!" SB's exultation echoed around the parking lot, followed by a confusing series of pitters and patters and heavy, resounding splats.
Tomoe checked her wristwatch as the sounds grew faint and threw a hand in the air. "Pfft, typical. Anyway, Dee, who's your bishonen buddy?"
The Jeep creaked behind him as the four—Five, Dee reminded himself, Ursula doesn't really treat Nyx like an article of clothing and neither should you—as the five women skipped, oozed, or, in Raspberry's case, disengaged from the vehicle. Yves gave Dee a familiar arch look meaning Yves wanted him to take the lead. Dee shook his head, pointing a finger to his mouth, miming silent speech.
"Don't worry about it," Tomoe said, flipping back her dark hair and tapping the sunflower yellow lump stuck in her ear. "Aegean beeswax."
Dee scratched his head, then shrugged. "How did you know I was coming?"
"I have my ways." She glared up at the incessant doorbell. "Loud, annoying ways." Ursula and the three meliae crowded behind Dee and Tomoe added, "That’s some posse you got there."
"Thanks," said a denuded Raspberry. "It's a snapper."
Dee decided it was time for introductions. "That's Raz; just ignore her. The bishi is Yves."
"Ah, so I see." She nodded as if that explained everything. "But why did he coldcock my girlfriend?"
Dee did his best to mirror Tomoe's ineffable air of happy-go-lucky devilry. "She was waving her big thing around like she owned the place."
The rose girl toddled back into view sans sword but sporting an oblong bulge disrupting the simple symmetry of her dress. The lump under the fiery one-piece diminished, leaving a trailing stain from SB's belly button to her crotch as she shambled to the storefront door. Her cornrows frizzed in cottony tufts. Tomoe took one look at SB's angry red flush and her inscrutable smile upended into a peevish frown. "Some cheeseburger you are." Tomoe spoke in a crass imitation of SB's contralto. "'Better stay back, lovey. I'll handle this.'" SB stumped in silence up the handicap access ramp next to the door, wracked with yawns. "Was that the sort of manhandling you had in mind? You got owned, SB."
SB reached the threshold of the storefront and paused at Tomoe's side, the bell yammering above them. Without meeting Tomoe's withering glare, SB panted, "Invite…him…clubbing." She disappeared into the store.
Tomoe balled her fists. "Masaka!" She stormed in after SB. The jarring bell and closing door muffled a string of crabby outbursts in rapid-fire Japanese. Yves listened for a moment, his face blank, then shrugged and moved for the door. Dee pulled him aside.
Dee hissed, "Do you have any idea what you just…" Then he thought about it. "Wait. Of course you do."
"Damn right," Yves said as Ursula strut past. Yves smiled, still tense and exhausted, but Dee thought the pressure building inside his friend no longer approached critical mass. "I know a cock when I grab one."
Ursula pushed open the storefront door and stood at the threshold of SRU. A hush fell over the lot. The absence of noise raised Dee's hackles but it took a moment for Dee to realize why: the awful doorbell hung silent and still above Ursula's head. Tomoe's merry welcome rang out instead. "Oh, hey! Little sisters. Come on in." Ursula crossed the threshold and the bell started up its obnoxious clattering again as the door closed behind her.
Eurydice slunk over to Dee, nesting in the crook of his arm. "Is it safe in there?" She eyed the windows piled high with display boxes of diagnostic gadgets, mobility scooter gear, and absorbency pads for every eventuality.
"Each time I've gone in there," Dee admitted, "I've come out a different man, one way or another." Eurydice shivered and Dee planted a hard, lingering kiss over her eager mouth until his lips stung with citric acid. "But I'll never look back." She sighed and melted a little, suffusing his arm in gentle warmth. Dee's throat closed and his vision blurred.
"C'mon." Eurydice tugged him toward the storefront. "We'll go in together this time." She insinuated herself under his arm as they walked. "Mm. Dee blanket." She wriggled her fingers behind his back and under the cinched waist of his sweatpants. "Heh." She flinched when Dee opened the door and the bell's clarion call was worse than ever. "Jesus, what the fuck?"
SB sat on the glass countertop, hands clapped over her ears. Tomoe jumped off her stool behind the counter's cash register and waved them in. "Just move away from it!"
Dee and Eurydice jogged past a couple of aisles. The bell dampened its enthusiasm but still clamored for attention.
SB refused to move her hands away from the sides of her head. "Some things should stay at the bottom of the ocean."
Tomoe poked SB on the shoulder. "You were the one who did not go down on the Titanic."
"Only because the bed in our cabin was too narrow," SB protested.
Through the rose girl's translucent crystalline flesh, Dee caught a glimpse of Ursula bustling around in the supply closet behind the counter. "Ursula. For God's sake, be careful."
Tomoe looked petulant and was about to protest but Ursula answered, "Don't worry, I'm not going to buy anything. I'm just looking."
"Doesn't matter," Dee said, ignoring Tomoe's frantic waving. "Just going in there makes you—"
"Wait!" Tomoe cried, waving hard enough to flag down a semi-trailer truck.
"Hey…" Dee started, but trailed off when he noticed Tomoe was looking behind him, not at him. He turned to see Yves outside the front door, about to push his way in. He registered Tomoe's ducking behind the counter in the corner of his eye, but before he could react—
—the bell's copper clapper thundered louder than a foundry hammer and a palpable wall of noise knocked the wind out him. Eurydice keeled over, viridian droplets scattering in buckshot burst patterns around her. The glass of the countertop, still veined with cracks from Dee's last visit, shattered and SB jackknifed down into the counter. A support strut in the supply closet gave way and a shelf dropped diagonal, its contents shifting sideways before pelting to the floor. Yves danced in a stinging shower of copper shrapnel.
Ursula leaped out of the closet. "Holy shit, everyone okay?"
"No," said Yves, plucking a metal sliver from the pad of his thumb. "I need a tetanus shot."
Tomoe peeped around the cash register, her face scrunched up. "Itai…itai…"
SB's feet dangled above her head. "I've got a sphygmomanometer up my ass." Something made a fluffing thump and she lisped, "Anth my dich in my mouf."
Dee bent over Eurydice lying prone on the floor and haloed in olive mist. "Honey?"
After a terrifying silence, Eurydice said, "I've been subwoofered." A galaxy of green dewdrops zipped around the linoleum floor like beads of mercury rolling over felt cloth, smashing together into spinning gyres one instant only to burst apart into smaller and smaller clusters the next. Dee knelt and stroked her cheek.
Yves selected a small First Aid kit from a window display and carried it to the intact half of the counter. He popped the kit open and fished out a bottle of antiseptic. A single spot of blood stood out against the kit's white plastic lid. "Mind if I take some freebies?" He dabbed an antiseptic-saturated pad of gauze on his palm.
Tomoe, still half-crouched behind the cash register, looked up at him and sighed, "Shikata ga nai."
"Oh, come off it," Yves said. "You're not Japanese." Further down the counter, SB spread her legs to get a good look at him, her mouth stuffed with the plump head of her own cock. He contemplated the spectacle in silence, then turned to Dee, and spoke to him in a slow, even deadpan. "I hate you. I hate you so very, very much."
"It's not my fault." Dee grasped at a green spheroid whizzing by but it squirted through his fingers, reformed, and rolled away. "I was perfectly happy being alone and miserable back at the bar. You were the one who decided to drop by and try and cheer me up, if you care to recall. Anyway, how do you know she's not Japanese?"
"Her accent, for one thing. It's completely muddled." Yves said. Tomoe rose up behind the cash register, her face a mask of indignation. "Her grammar, for another. No one says 'desu' so damn much. Not in real life, anyway."
Tomoe waggled a dismissive hand at him. "You're the wannabe poser, here, not me, blondie. You want to know what it's like to be Japanese?" She crooked her thumb at the supply closet behind her "I've some pickled ginseng that will knock your socks off in there." She glanced down at the clutter spilt around Ursula's feet at the mouth of the closet. "Down there, I guess. Hey, little sisters, watch what you step on. You break it, you pay five dollar, you got that?"
"'Kay." Ursula pussyfooted in Nyx's go-go boots over the pile. "We'll be careful." She froze, frowning down at the floor. "Hm?"
"I'll pass on the ginseng, thanks," Yves told Tomoe as Ursula bent down to push aside a few boxes of SRU-label anti-aging cosmetics.
Tomoe treated him to a trademark one-shoulder shrug. "What do you want then?" Dee thought the cock-blocked SB was watching Yves and Tomoe's interplay with a curious care. "You've got the look of a guy who hasn't been well-laid in a long time." Tomoe maneuvered around Ursula and pulled a SRU-labeled atomizer from the muddle on the floor. "How about some unisex body spray. Want some? For you? Five d—"
Yves raised an open palm. "I'm perfectly happy with who I am, thanks."
Tomoe rocked back on her heels, swooning as if Yves had slapped her across her face. SB's cheeks bulged with air and her cock bobbled free. "See?" she said as her massive member bowed backward. "I told you, he…" Her erectile gel-tissue bent back as far as it would go before popping right back into her mouth. "A wittle help here, pweath, thumb-buddy."
Tomoe searched Yves face. "You are." Her voice fell to a whisper. "You really, really are." Yves imitated Tomoe's one-shouldered shrug. Tomoe stared up at him a moment longer, then bit down on the curving, maroon-painted nail of her left index finger and gushed, "So do you wan' go clubbing?" She blushed and toyed with the hem of her white blouse.
Ursula tucked something bulky under her left arm and moved to help SB. She hesitated in reaching for SB's dick. Her hands, coated in glossy black, formal-wear gloves that stretched past her elbow to disappear beneath her poncho, paused and twitched around SB's mouthful of masculinity, as if testing various possibilities. "Um, not quite sure what to do here, exactly."
Dee felt the pit of his stomach drop and his ire rise. He started to mouth off but swallowed instead. "I can't believe this." Yves, Ursula, Tomoe, and SB turned to look at him. Still lying on the floor and surrounded by wayward gobbets of gel, Eurydice pulled off her sunglasses and gazed upward.
"For the first time in almost a week," Dee said, face burning, "I'm not the center of attention. And what do I do? I get angry. What the heck is wrong with me?"
Eurydice nabbed a squirming green sphere and slapped it into her mouth. "Admitting you have a problem is the first step to solving the problem," she said, chewing.
"Except," Yves added, "you just made yourself the center of attention again by doing so."
Ursula, with her head turned and grip unsteady, eased SB's dick out into the air. "Nnf, thanks." SB smiled. "Dee's still a work in progress. Wait, um, Ursula? I've also got this sphygmoma—"
Ursula skipped backward into the closet, the bulky found object still lodged in under her arm. "Nuh-uh." Tomoe sidled in front of her, eyes shining. She coughed, rolled up one sleeve, stepped up behind a now panicked-stricken SB, and poked her tongue out of the corner of her mouth.
The front door heaved open and Raspberry peered inside. "Have you guys stopped blowing things up? Is it safe to come in yet?" The ruined remains of the doorbell fell off its hook, pierced Raspberry's surface tension and lodged itself in her translucent, empty brainpan. "Ouch-fuck!"
Eurydice swallowed her mouthful as CeeCee pushed a smarting Raspberry into the store. Eurydice hummed in thought, waiting. She gasped and grabbed at Dee's muscle shirt. "Dee!" She arched and fell back, her drab hoodie melting to reveal trembling gem fire flesh. "Oh, God, Dee…I re-remember. You squeezed me, all of me, in your fist, until I came apart into itty bitty pieces."
"Holy cow, Galatea," Tomoe said after getting her first good look at the green girl's face and slender shoulders. "You look barely legal. Apart from the knockers." A glistening bulb of a blood pressure cuff dangled from Tomoe's sleeve-rolled arm. SB, woozy and cross-eyed, toppled free of the counter only to fall backward behind it.
"Call me Eurydice." A green globule trundled by her head and Eurydice was captivated. Her emerald irises sharpened into diamond wedges as she watched the globule's erratic movements with a silent, feline intensity. Dee smirked and cornered the blobby escapee with his arms. He smooshed it against his palms and rolled it between his fingers before releasing it on the floor, where it reformed and wobbled away. Eurydice pounced on the dizzy blob. "C'mere you little goober." She gobbled it whole and sat like a cat, bare breasts squashed between her down-thrust arms. The re-remembrance struck her. She whimpered and wept as she came, fat drops of nectarous perspiration running between her tits and clenched thighs. She recovered and leered heavy-lidded at Dee. "Again."
Tomoe shook her head. "Incredible."
Raspberry teetered around the store's first aisle, the copper clapper lodged behind her eyes. She started chanting in rhyme. "They are neither man nor woman, they are neither brute nor human…" CeeCee, expression inquisitive, moseyed after her and Raspberry lurched at her, shaking CeeCee into froth by the shoulders. "To the groaning of the bells, to the moaning of the bells, to the—get this fucker out of my head right fucking now—bells bells bells bells bells bells bells!"
Dee squeezed another green sphere into spiraling ribbons before letting it reform. Eurydice purred and lunged but Dee swiped it away and popped it in his mouth. Eurydice pouted and whined as Dee rolled the tart treat around on his tongue and worried it with his teeth. Her protestations soon died in her throat as Dee worked and worked but did not swallow. Dee sat back. "Kith me," he lisped, his mouth full of memories.
Eurydice sprang into his lap. She cupped his jaw with both of her hands and French-kissed him so hard he felt it in his toes. She broke the searing kiss and had just enough time to lick Dee's lips clean before the re-remembrance hit. Eurydice collapsed against him, burying her head in the hollow beneath Dee's neck and pawing at his back. "I love you," she wept as each spasm of orgasm wracked through her. "I love you. I love you!"
Yves leaned conspiratorially close to Tomoe. "I think she loves him."
CeeCee espied Dee and Eurydice's blistering lip-lock while Raspberry accelerated her fevered, rhyming assault, a rapper demented by mescaline. "How it swells! How it dwells! On the future how it tells of the rapture that impels to the swinging to the ringing of the bells, bells, bells—help!"
CeeCee slammed her mouth over Raspberry's. Raspberry froze rigid as a mellow yellow tongue lolled between her trembling lips. "Mmf? Mmm…" The tongue filled the cavity of Raspberry's mouth like a blooming sunflower. Raspberry's surface tension melted and slicked. "Hm? Nn!" The molten cream poured down her throat, a sluggish, internal waterfall visible but hazy in Raspberry's translucent neck and chest. CeeCee reached through the orchid petals shrouding Raspberry's pubic mound, matted with damp. Raspberry's perplexed cries dissolved into eager pleas.
Raspberry raptured. Sugar-sherbet-satin imbrued her pussy and boiled inward. Buttercream tendrils questing down from her throat collided with the lemon-yellow upsurge from her sex. CeeCee kissed harder and mushier, muffling Raspberry's screaming orgasm. The lavender girl's core achieved critical meltdown as she came. She lost all cohesion, liquefying in moments, her face mask of bliss before CeeCee's ravening mouth inhaled Raspberry's one hundred and twenty gelatinous pounds as easy as a party girl slurping down a single Jell-O shot.
"I told you we go together well," CeeCee said, smoothing out the gentle swelling of her belly, now tinged in soft oranges, reds, and golds, a tummy full of sunsets. She pressed a chubby thumb and forefinger between her peach-stained lips and drew out the destructed bell's old copper clapper. She flourished the clapper at the crowd gathered by the counter. "Now that's what I call a real show-stopper." But Eurydice sobbed her tenth "I love you" with no end in sight and still held the room in thrall. CeeCee folder her arms under the jutting prow of her matronly bosom. "How do you like that. Upstaged by a freshly squeezed fruit. Bet that bint's a cam-whore." CeeCee startled. "Raz, you stupid shitlick, get your dumb-ass thoughts out of my fucking head."
Dee held Eurydice tight against him until there were no more I-love-yous. He could feel the pulsation of the green girl's lightning-strike climaxes as bursts of penetrating heat radiating from deep with her. She clutched and bucked with each pulse, her gel-flesh squashing against him in smooching waves. The onslaught of re-remembered sensations finally relented, and after one last, juddering, "I love, I love you, Dee," she released his neck and curled into a fetal hug in his lap, weeping openly. "Don't leave me. Don't let me leave. Don’t look back."
Dee raised his head. Ursula and Yves, his wry smile long gone, looked paler than ghosts. SB pressed a fist hard against her mouth with her other hand. Only Tomoe, tears tracing the line of a cheekbone, dared to look him in the eye.
"Help us," Dee told her.
"I'm sorry." Tomoe dried her cheek with the palm of her hand. "I can't."
Dee blinked. "Um. Please?"
Standing close to Tomoe, Yves added, "We haven't told you what's been happening yet."
Tomoe gave Ursula the once-over, taking in the lustrous rubber collar with matching onyx gloves and hip-hugging go-go boots. Ursula blushed and busied herself with straightening out the closet. Tomoe nodded at CeeCee waddling into the maternity aisle, her surface whorled with hues of amber, amaretto, and port wine. "Considering how crowded it is in here, I'd say that the thickener's fallen into the wrong hands, as the cliché goes."
Eurydice sniffled and twisted in Dee's lap, settling with her back nestled into his chest, the tips of her spiky hair winding around his chin. "The worst possible hands."
SB limped out from behind the counter. "You know there's nothing T can do about that. She told Dee that whatever happened to the nanomek was on his head, his karma, remember?"
"No, I don't remember." Eurydice reached up behind her, massaging Dee's neck. "But I do know you," she told SB. "I know you of old. How?"
"That was a long ago." SB shrugged. "Different time, different country…different flavors. Things echo."
"And she calls me cryptic." Tomoe muttered to Yves.
"I guess she learned from the best," Yves answered.
Tomoe swatted his shoulder. "Don't flirt with me unless you want to get into my pants."
Yves glanced down. "What's your size?"
"Oh, hardy-har-fucking har-har." She sounded as sardonic as ever but she wilted under Yves' icy regard, twiddling her thumbs and toying with her hair. "Listen, Dee knows the deal." She noticed SB staring daggers at her and stage whispered, "What?"
Dee nodded. "I'm responsible for all of this. I done fucked up, I know it, and I plan to fix it. That's not what we're here for."
"Okay," Tomoe said. "I'm listening."
"Alright." Dee drew a ragged breath. "You probably know all this anyway but here goes. You told me that by buying the thickener I started a story that had one of two endings: the Disney happy ending and the Grimm cautionary one. Well, Galatea tried to give me—to get us—the Disney ending. I told her I trusted her, so she believed me and put me along the path. Turns out I didn't really trust after all." Dee squeezed Eurydice and kissed the top of her head. "If I did, I wouldn't have freaked out when I realized I'd eaten raw nanomek."
SB backpedaled away from Dee until she banged her butt against the counter. "Whoa. You what?"
Dee turned Eurydice around in his lap. "Eurydice, I know you don't remember, and I know you don't want to remember, but we spent two whole days together that I don't remember, so hear me out." Eurydice shivered but said nothing. "When we had our fight, I accused you of force-feeding me the thickener. I accused you but I never let you answer." Dee held her hand in his. Eurydice stared down at it. "That's not what really happened, was it?" After a long pause, Eurydice shook her head. "I ate the nanomek myself, didn't I? It was my idea all along, wasn't it?"
The silence stretched. Eurydice crinkled her forehead in confusion, querying her memory-web for re-remembrances that were not entirely her own.
"…Fuck all you want," the green girl had said, "I'll make more."
Dee sprawled unconscious on the floor of the apartment kitchenette, his face, chest, and crotch slavered in lime gelatin. The hollow green girl stood astraddle his prostrate form. The early morning sunlight streaming in from the kitchenette bay window gave the green girl her first good look at the full package known as "Deiter Detwiler." Tall and skinny but more sinewy than lanky. A cute, boyish face under a nest of chestnut brown curls that could be considered handsome if he would stop making goofy expressions. The one he was wearing now, for instance, with his mouth slack and eyes rolled back, gave her giggles. His cum, on the other hand, was no laughing matter. It spread over the inner surface of her elastic, glass-bottle green shell, working into every nook and cranny. "Whatever your name is," the green girl told the comatose Dee, "I gotta tell you: your cum tastes fan-fucking-tastic." An electric tingle shot through her thin, air-inflated substance. "Wait, what's going on?"
The green girl experienced her first nanogasm. "Woo! That was fun. Oh, it's happening again. And, uh, again?" Her hands fluttered about her throat as the little sparks of pleasure grew in strength and frequency, building into a cascade. "H-hey, bright boy?" She gently nudged Dee's ribs with a fuck-me-pump covered foot. He murmured and turned his head, eyes unopened. "What's happening? Why's it feel so—ah—so damn good?"
The cascade crested and crashed. "Oh my God!" She pulled her hands away from her neck. Her arms, mobile sculptures of hollow, hand-blown glass, began to fill with gel. The green girl felt the inner growth as a delicious, empowering pressure, as strong as a bear hug and as penetrative as the deepest French kiss, starting with the tips of fingers and thumbs and pushing down through her palms, into her wrists, and past her elbows. It stopped short of her shoulders. "Oh my God." She fell to her knees beside Dee, still whimpering to the Heavens, or maybe to him, she was not sure. "Oh my God, oh my God. Oh, we've got to do that again." She crawled over to his crotch. Relishing the newfound strength of her jelled arms, she unzipped Dee's fly and yanked his pants down around his thighs. "I can't wait to feel that in my tits." Dee's erection bobbed free of his underwear. "Wow, you're hard again. Hey, bright boy, you awake?"
Dee lolled his head, eyes still closed, and spoke in a dreamy, distant voice. "If I'm not awake then this is the best wet dream I've ever had and I don't want to wake up."
"Good enough for me." She scuttled between Dee's spread-eagled legs, rolling up mock sleeves into rings around her upper arms. "Let's see what these babies can do." She held out one palm, now filled with gelatin the color of toothpaste gel, and brushed it against the very tip of Dee's cock, taking careful measure like an expert golfer needing to make birdie on the 18th hole. She reared her hand back, palm flat. "Ready for more Fleshlight Technique?"
"No," Dee whispered, and the green girl deflated, brow crinkled in confusion until he said, "but that's the best part."
The green girl grinned, shark-toothed, and drove her hand down onto his dick. The surface tension of her palm gave inward. Hard, it's so damn hard. The thought—It's so hard—bounced around her memory web. From an inner recess of her mind, an echo replied distorted: Not hard enough. She felt the surface of her palm stretch to swaddle the head of Dee's cock in cool, smooching gel. Not enough—Maybe never enough. I want him inside me—All of him inside me. She pushed her hand down his shaft until her fingers squelched into his scruffy pubic hair. The green girl let her palm's surface split. Dee's dick eased into her inner gel. There was no pain, no sense of invasion or breaking of limits. The green girl felt only more of that delicious pressure as the displacement, solidity, and warmth of the cock throbbing within her hand (and then wrist, and then forearm), whipped her inner gel into a piping hot frenzy. She pumped her arm up and down. Dee's dick scratched and soothed a burning itch somewhere deep inside her, an itch she had not known existed until it was gone. I want him inside me but this will do for now, oh yes it will oh it's so fucking solid! Ooh, what's this ooh precum yes ooh nanogasm yes ooh he's cumming! "Yes!"
"Yes!" Dee echoed and thrashed as he came, arms sweeping across the floor.
The green girl's inner gel worked to milk, massage, and spread Dee's spunk throughout her jellied mass. Not as much as last time, she thought, and the distorted echo answered, Not enough not ever enough. I guess I'll have to take it slow—Have to slowly take it all. She felt him soften and she pulled her arm off his shaft. The seam of the breach in her palm plumped into smacking lips. "Hot damn," her hand said. "Why are we stopping?"
Dee drew his arms to his heaving chest, the tin of SRU thickening agent cradled in one hand.
Nanogasms cascaded through the green girl's gel flesh. She felt as if a giant tongue were French kissing its way down her throat via the top of her head. The empty tubes of her hair, stubby petal-tentacles of a mutant sea anemone, filled into jellied dreadlocks. Cross-eyed, she flopped down onto Dee's stomach. The green girl, her head filling with gel the way rising dough fills a cake pan, found their worldless chorus—Oof!—inexplicably hilarious. Three glutinous giggles escaped her lips: "Ah-hah, ah-hum, hm-mm."
The geek and the green girl panted in a huddle on the floor. The green girl sat up in a huff, tucking her skirt under her knees. Dee propped himself up by the elbows, head wobbling. "Whuzzit?"
The green girl clutched her swollen tits and squeezed. They squeaked exactly like toy balloons. "My boobs are still empty. Aw, dammit." She squirmed, rolling her rubbery breast flesh between her fingers and bouncing up and down on her butt like an impatient kindergartner during naptime. "I wanna make 'em bigger."
Dee fell back onto the floor. "Lord all-mighty," he sighed, draping the hand holding the tin of thickening agent over his eyes. "I think I'm in love."
The green girl gaped. Her mouth worked in silence. The shock at the concept of love gave way to the curious and new sensation of lush lips scraping over semi-solid teeth and a weighty tongue filling her mouth. Filling her mouth, what a splendid idea. She scooted back down toward Dee's beslimed crotch. "Now that I've got a head," she said, bending close enough to buffet Dee's deflated dick with her sultry breath, "maybe it's time for me to give a little."
Dee pulled the tin off his face, protesting. "W-wait a minute…" The green girl ignored his words and mashed her face over his cock. She tasted her own nectar, caked and cooling like batter on his shaft, but she spun her tongue three hundred and sixty degrees around his softened manhood a few times and hoovered it clean. Dee's distinct flavor permeated her, a cornucopia of earthy musk, cum, sweat, salt, and soap. Good, so good, he tastes so good—More, much more, taste him more. She squished her head over his crotch and her molten mouth engulfed his root, balls, and all. The stretchy, thick locks of her hair lashed around his thighs and ass. Say, she thought, he's got a cute butt, and the little echo replied, Shut up and eat it.
Dee kicked and scuffed the floor. "Stop it. Ah, Jesus. Stop!"
The green girl decoupled from his cock. The seal between her lips and his flesh burst with the smacking pop and slush of an uncorked bottle of shaken Champaign. "Wha'fuck?" Her vortex throat foamed and gurgled as she slurred, "You were just starting to get hard."
Dee whistled through gritted teeth. "Afterglow. I tried…I mean, I want…but I can't, I can't."
"Hey," the green girl cooed, mushing her hand around his cock in slow, sloppy circles, noting his legs and stomach spasm on each upstroke, "It's okay. It happens to everybody, right? We'll take it slow. After all, the Demonic Fifteen Point Fleshlight Palm Technique lasts forty-eight…"
"No." Dee's free hand snapped around her wrist. "I want more, now. Don't you?"
The little echo in the back of the green girl's mind took the initiative: Ooh, I like the way he thinks. She stole a sly glance at her cleavage, hunching her shoulders until her breasts squeaked. More, now! "Sure, but how? I mean, your mouth says 'Yes' but…" She squelched her fingers over his balls. "Your body says 'No no no please God no.' I mean, I feel your nuts trying to crawl back up into your pelvis."
Dee held the thickener aloft. "What about this?"
Uh oh. The green girl shrugged. "What about it?"
"It made you, didn't it?"
He made you. You made you. "I guess so."
Dee turned the tin, inspecting it from every angle. "What does it do?"
Anything you want, nothing you wish. She twirled a finger through his slick pubic hair. "Dunno."
"But it made your Jell-O thick, right?" The powder inside the tin skittered and scratched. "So maybe it will make my, um, you know…"
"Your dick hard?" the green girl finished, grinning. "Where'd you get an idea like that?"
Dee glared up at her, askance. "I write Internet porn." He said it as if it explained everything. "Well?" He let go of her hand and pried the tin's lid loose with his fingernails.
"You're serious?" Many have tried. "I…I think it might be dangerous or something."
"I've seen this movie," Dee said. The lid clattered on the floor. "So let me skip to the end: 'Many have tried.' 'Tried and failed?' 'Tried and died.' Right?"
Many have tried and wished they'd died. "Kinda sorta almost." Dee struggled to sit up and keep the tin level. She let go of him and edged back. "You're really serious?" Maybe he can do it. Maybe he can beat it. Maybe he's the one. "I mean, are you sure?" She could not hide her rising excitement. The skirt cinched around her waist softened and ran like treacle. The kitchen swam with the aroma of citrus and sex. "You…you've got to be sure."
"For this?" He clicked the tin on the linoleum floor to stroke her cheek. "For you?" His hand came away sparkling with dots and spots of emerald. "I'm as sure as Hell. Hell, yes. Fuck, yes. For you, anything, always."
Dee seized the small tin. Please let him do it. He rubbed a pinch of the nanomek between his fingers. Please let him be the one. Dee licked his dusty thumb, smacked his lips in thought, and smiled. I really, really like this one and I've waited so long…
"You taste much better," he said, and tipped the tin into his mouth.
The green girl cascaded into nanogasm, hot gel rushing and gushing and breaking the mould.
Dee sat on SRU's checker-tiled floor, waiting for Eurydice's answer. She took his hand in both of hers and curled herself around it, snuggling to his lap. She rubbed his wrist with her thumbs and would not look up at the crowd staring at her. Dee asked her again, "It was my idea to eat the nanomek all along, wasn't it?"
Eurydice shifted in his lap. She spoke in the tones of a toddler. "Yeah."
Tomoe slumped against the cash register, making it ping and ring up a NO SALE. "Why. Why? Didn't you see how much kuzbu he had already?"
"Yeah," Eurydice repeated in that same aw-shucks kiddy voice.
"Kudzu? What?" Dee said.
"Kuzzz…buuu." Tomoe over-enunciated, as if confident slow and careful speech would activate her universal translator.
Ursula poked her head out of the closet. "Oh, so that's what it is. Good to know."
SB shook her head. "His yang was so out of whack and you just go ahead and give him more?"
"Wait, his yang was whacked? That makes no sense," Ursula said.
"Did she say 'yang' or 'wang'?" Dee asked Eurydice.
Eurydice giggled and nested further into his lap. "I love you."
Yves stormed into the middle of the mob. "Would everyone just…shut the fuck up for one second and let me think?"
"Woo!" A slippery slick Raspberry glissaded out of the maternity aisle, zooming across the tiled floor. "Gangway!" She zipped by on her back faster than an Olympic luge, smashed into a display stack of athletic equipment and vanished in an avalanche of boxes. "Fuck."
Yves waited for the last box to tumble to a standstill before continuing. "Okay, let me get this straight: Dee ate the nanomek of his own free will, but apparently can't remember doing it or anything else during those two days. Right?" He turned to Eurydice, who nodded. "Dee had lots of, uh, 'kuzbu,' which—no, wait, let me guess—is probably some old word meaning destiny, or the Force, or maybe just Really Great Ass, right?" He turned to Ursula.
"Right. Actually," Ursula admitted, "that's a good translation. It kind of means all three." She disappeared back into the supply closet.
Yves leveled a finger at SB. "And that all somehow relates to the yin and yang of ancient Chinese philosophy and medicine, meaning the I-Ching is really about sex with goo girls."
SB shrugged. "Isn't everything?"
"So that's why women can't keep their hands off me?" Dee asked, blush rising as he realized how stupid that sounded even to his own ears.
"No." Tomoe shoved the cash register's till closed. "That's your own damn fault."
"Look!" Raspberry stumbled out of the pile of equipment, adjusting a swatch of fabric over her left eye. "I'm a pirate."
CeeCee strolled out of the maternity aisle. "That's a jockstrap."
Raspberry advanced on CeeCee, brandishing athletic supporters in both hands. "Get aboard you fat buccaneer." CeeCee retreated into the maternity aisle but Raspberry followed. "You are a pirate," she promised.
Dee brushed a green dreadlock away from his ear. It darted under his chin to tickle the other one. "My fault? How do I stop it?"
"Do you want to stop it," SB asked, tapping a finger against her lips. "Or do you want to control it?"
Tomoe narrowed her eyes at SB. That was a clue, Dee realized as SB shrugged again. SB just gave me a clue. What did she mean? Isn't stopping it the same thing as controlling it? Only if I want to be able to turn it back on once I turn it off…Do I? "Oh my God, I do," Dee said aloud. "I do want to control it. Eurydice." He pulled away from her to look her in the eye. "Eurydice, I like it. I like my kudzu. Is that okay?"
Eurydice goggled at him before dissolving into giggles, a host of dreadlocks swarming in to tickle his ears. "Kudzu, kudzu, kudzu," she teased, her sap green hair crawling everywhere like vines.
"Huh," Tomoe said as Dee toppled backward onto the floor and Eurydice skooched up to sit on his chest and continue her tickle attack with hair and hands. "How about that. Kawaii lime. Now there's a flavor I never thought of."
Ursula strut out of the closet. "I can't believe that's our Dee. I mean, he made his girlfriend multi-orgasmic in public. What's happening to him?"
"He's getting tickled to death by creeper vines," Yves said. The blades of Eurydice's hair stretched longer and longer, hunting out ticklish spots, until some discovered the waist of his pants and dove beneath. "Make that molested by creeper vines," Yves added.
Eurydice leaned to breathe in Dee's ear even as her hair pulled, massaged, and pumped in his crotch behind her. "Kudzu, kudzu, kudzu."
Tomoe plucked at the buttons of her blouse then quickly turned away. "I got to stop watching before I develop a new fetish. Hey, wait a minute." She pointed to the bulge under Ursula's poncho. "What's that?"
"This? Oh, we found it on the floor." Ursula went fishing under her poncho and pulled out the fat Sudoku puzzle book. She held the ungainly thing in two jet-black, gloved hands. "We weren't going to steal it, or anything. It just looked interesting."
"Pfft, that old thing?" Tomoe waved her dismissal. "They used to make them much harder in the old days. The last magic squares were so easy I didn't even bother. I should just throw it out, but SB paid like twenty dollar for it on Amazon."
SB was engrossed in watching Dee's sweatpants stretch and twist as more dreadlocks found their way between his legs. "Meh." She glanced down. "Ooh, dang, anyone got a tarp or something?"
Ursula plunked the thick book down next to the cash register. "I have a twenty in my pocket—oh." Her glove rippled and a twenty dollar bill unfurled in the palm of her hand. "I mean, I've got a twenty right here."
"It's used." Tomoe protested. "It's only got one section left. It's stupid." She sighed, her inscrutable smile indistinguishable from a frown. "But you want it? For you? Five dollar."
"Kudzu," cooed Eurydice as Dee's legs began to tremble. "Kudzu, kudzu, kud…zu." Dee gulped and groaned. Eurydice's caresses slowed but Dee still spasmed on each luxurious upstroke of the nest of living dreadlocks pumping at his crotch. "Yes, Dee, it's okay to like your kudzu. But this…" She tugged her head. Her tentacled hair took up slack. Dee yawped and laughed and arched his pelvis high. "This is Mine."
Dee leered. "Always."
Ursula upended her palm and the twenty dollar bill flittered down. Tomoe snagged it out of the air and rang up SALE on the cash register in a single swoop. "Done!"
Dee's smile twisted into a wince. "Oh shit." Jelly tentacles unwound all around him but Eurydice still perched on his chest. "Who bought something?"
"Relax," Tomoe said. "It's just a dumb magic square book." She counted out Ursula's change. "One five dollar, two five dollar, three five dollar. Here you go. You want a bag?"
"No thanks." Ursula tucked the puzzle book under her poncho. She pulled her hands free but the square bulge under the cashmere coverall slid across her belly and settled near the curve of her hip. "We're set."
Eurydice bounced a bit on Dee's chest, tugging on the collar of his shirt. "Kudzu?"
Dee goosed her thigh. "Just a one more question, honey." Eurydice pouted and stood up, morphing her glimmering flesh back into the drab olive Unabomber guise but leaving Dee's muscle shirt tie-dyed green and reeking of citrus-and-sex.
Tomoe pried a lump of beeswax from her ear. "Better ask quick before she sits on your face to shut you up." She sighed. "That's what I'd do." She watched SB mutter and tug at the hem of her one-piece, stretching it tight over her tented prick. "I'd sit on something, anyway."
Dee sat up as Tomoe cleaned beeswax from her other ear. "Wait. I don't know how to control it yet."
"Sure you do," SB said, drawing the dress snug around her balls.
"You know you want it, right?" The copper-colored material popped up to let the base of her shaft peep out as soon as SB let go. "Dang it."
"Yes. I want to keep my kuzbu." Eurydice gasped and narrowed her eyes. Dee winked at her. "I'm a kudzu kind of guy."
"That's all there is to it," SB said.
Yves nodded. "Like ki. Once you find it, it's yours to control. It will come when you call."
Somewhere among the aisles, Raspberry barked out a single, raspy, "Ha!"
"Hey," Tomoe said to SB, "remember all that 'can't interfere' stuff I keep talking about?"
SB pursed her lips as if she knew what was coming. "Yeah."
"Well, you're doing it wrong."
"Why?" Dee rose. "Why can't you help?" Tomoe shrugged and opened her mouth but this time Dee knew exactly what was coming and cut her off. "And don't just say 'rules,' or 'I lost the manual,' or some other bullshit. Galatea tried to get us the Disney lovey-dovey ending and I fucked it up. I gave away the nanomek. Now there's this three hundred pound, chocolate cherry psycho-bitch running around, kidnapping my girlfriend, mindfucking skank-bots and killing and eating people in some elaborate scheme to take over the world just because she thinks I don't pay enough attention to her."
Eurydice reached for him, silent and starry eyed. Dee moved close and Eurydice gathered him into her arms, rubbing her cheek against his back. "Tomoe," Dee said, "you told me the point of the Disney ending was for the lonely guy to learn the true meaning of love. Well, unless the true meaning of love is either 'chicks dig confidence' or 'Fatal Attraction is real,' I don't feel like I've learned a damn thing." He spun in Eurydice's arms and kissed her soft and sweet. "I love Galatea and I love Eurydice. They are the same and they are different in a way I don't understand. But it doesn’t matter if I'll never understand, because the one thing I do know is much more important: right now, neither of them are happy. I made them happy, once, before I ruined everything. I want them to be happy again. So I've just got one question." Dee steeled himself, gave Eurydice a final squeeze, and bellied up to the counter to look Tomoe square in the eye.
"What the Hell is going on?" he said.
Tomoe bumped the cash register till closed. It pinged. "There are some thing's even I don't know, Deiter."
Yves rapped a knuckle hard on the countertop, a move Dee had seen before whenever Yves wanted everyone at work to know he was pissed off. "A true but useless statement. Dee's right, you don't lie. But you don't answer anyone's questions in the way they expect, either. Well, too bad. I know about the third ending already."
Relief washed over Dee. "You've figured it out," he said. "Took you long enough."
"Just the basics." Blood blotted the cotton gauze bandage on Yves' palm. He rummaged through the first aid kit and began to redress the wound. "And I figured it out a few hours ago, actually, when you were quickening Eurydice." He dropped the used gauze into the wax paper disposal bag that came folded inside the first aid kit. "Well, Tomoe?"
Tomoe gave him a curt nod. "What does 'sublime' mean, Dee?"
Dee did not hesitate. "Vaporize."
"Vaporize, right," Yves said, binding his palm with a fresh bandage. "That's what I first thought of, too." He smiled. "I guess we both took English for Engineers in college. But that isn't the only meaning. Eurydice told me that most guys who made lime meliae sublime that way, though, right?" Eurydice nodded. "But every once in a while, someone sublimes the other way."
Ursula darkened the storage closet door. "In alchemy, 'to sublime' means 'to ennoble' or purify."
"Tomoe, you called nanomek 'techno-alchemical,'" Dee remembered. "So which 'sublime' did you mean?"
"Both." She shrugged, one shouldered. "How could I say for sure? No one's ever gone lime first time before. Even the most brazen had to work their way up from honey or vanilla—or chocolatl if you were an Aztec."
"That was all before artificial flavor packets and high fructose corn syrup," SB admitted, smiling. "There could be more lime guys out there now than you or I ever imagined, T."
"I don't get it," Dee said. "What is there to purify? I'm a computer geek. I write porn. I've got almost every fetish there is to get on the Internet. I'm a pervert. I'm just…" Dee spread his arms. "…I'm just me."
Eurydice arched a brow. "And Mine."
"Very funny." Dee frowned. There was something Galatea had said, when he stormed out on her. What was it?
["…you aren't changing…"]
"Look at that," Tomoe said, "you can almost see him thinking."
["…What kind of name is Deiter Detwiler…"]
"Still waters run deep," Ursula declared.
["…Maybe you just didn't know who you really were before now…"]
"I've always hated that expression," Yves said.
["…Don't tell me. You never know when a secret identity might come in handy…"]
"Yeah, me too," SB agreed. "Still waters don't run deep. Still waters don't run."
["…Fire can't burn me, iron can't break me…"]
Yves and SB grinned like idiots at each other and chorused, "Or else they wouldn't be still."
["…Yves, you're a kung fu badass…"]
"It's just an aphorism," Ursula murmured, soothing the thick rubber collar around her neck.
["…I'm a pharmaceutria. A sorceress. I'm a witch…"]
"I can't see shit!" Raz bumbled out of an aisle, two jockstraps tied over her eyes.
["…Shut up and let Sherlock do his thing…"]
"We're not perverts," Dee said under his breath, looking at all his friends in turn.
["…We didn't expect a...band, or league, or whatever it is you've put together…"]
Eurydice crept up and took his hand. "What did you say?"
["…you aren't changing…"]
"We're not perverts," Dee told her, kissed her, and told everyone. "We're superheroes."
["…you're just becoming more you…"]
Eurydice asked, "There's a difference?"
So I'm gonna get to know these little demons,
So I can know where they end and I begin.
I'm gonna peel back that fine line,
That divides me from my mind,
If there's a way out of my skin.
—Gloria Deluxe, Outrun Your Demons
SB waved one last time and let the storefront door fall shut in front of her. The silent swish reminded her of the loss of the doorbell. "We'll need another cloister bell."
Tomoe plucked shards of glass from the broken counter and collected them in a dustpan. "It was hard enough finding that one. Who the Hell throws gifts of pure kindness from their true love into the sea anymore?" She shoveled the glass into a plastic dustbin and started filling the pan again. "Nobody, that's who. Goodbye courtly love, hello Courtney Love. We'll do without."
Out in the parking lot, a modest sized mob—Dee, Nyx upon Ursula, CeeCee, Eurydice, Raspberry, and Yves—descended upon a two-door, silver Jeep. The scene reminded SB of the old circus clown car gag, except… "Dee was here just last night," she pondered aloud, "a man alone apart from his stalkers. And what does he bring with him the very next morning, like minutes after we open for business?"
"A knight and a witch," Tomoe shrugged.
"Who are just as panty-soaking fucking fine as he is, don't forget. I can't decide whose ass to watch, Dee's or Ursula's. Or Eurydice's…no, wait, she has Ursula's ass too. That'd be kind of cute if I didn't want to line all three of 'em up and shag 'em senseless."
"You don't wear panties. You mess the floor, you mop."
"A knight and a witch." SB watched CeeCee siphon into the too-small trunk of the Jeep, distending the canvas roof and filling the plastic rear window with roiling, golden glop. "And familiars. How did he gather them so soon? How did he know?"
"Everyone needs a hobby." The mid-morning sun danced across broken glass as Tomoe poured the pan out into the bin. "Dee doesn't look like the 'knowing' type. Dee's a doer."
Ursula and Eurydice bounded into the back of the Jeep. SB frowned over her shoulder at Tomoe. "You’re not watching. Me or them. Not even a peek." Her heart hardened, voice flattened. "They are going to die, aren’t they? Today."
"Why don’t you help me clean up, hey?" Tomoe dropped the pan into its bin and scraped her palms together.
"Answer me, lovey."
"Don't do this." SB only stared so Tomoe sighed, "Alright, SB. Somebody has to die today. At least one, probably more. You know how this goes." Tomoe squeezed the first aid kit shut, a big red button of blood square in the middle of its white plastic lid.
Dee hopped into the Jeep's front passenger seat, rocking the vehicle on its shocks. "Who has to die?"
Tomoe flicked her thumb over her tongue and swept the bloodstain on the plastic lid, smearing it into a comet-tailed comma. "Who do you think?" she asked, kissing the blood off the pad of her thumb.
The surface tension of her neck prickled and SB faced front. Yves stood by an open car door. His cool gaze met hers for a frozen moment before he climbed up into the driver's seat. Raspberry stuck her tongue out at Yves, gave SB the finger, and jetted up onto the roof in a spray of violet. SB felt a knot grow in her throat. "And we're just going to sit here and mind your shitty store?"
SB heard the rustle of Tomoe's dress as she padded up behind her. "There's nothing I can do that won't make things worse."
"Fuck you, T." SB balled her fists. "Fuck you and your fucking rules. How can you just..."
Tomoe's iron grip clamped down on SB's shoulder and spun the rose girl about. There was no trace of Tomoe's casual mischief in her eyes. "SB, darling, please. Listen to what I am saying." She held the first aid kit in her free hand. "There's nothing I can do."
Yves drove his overcrowded Jeep down the forlorn road. The surrounding fallow fields of wild grass blurred in undulating waves on either side. He eased back in the seat, trying to avoid tunnel vision and to keep his mental focus set to "Wide Lens." A harsh rapping on his window jolted him and the Jeep fishtailed a few degrees.
"Open up!" Raspberry's upside-down head bobbed outside the window. The wind tossed the petals of her hair into the beautiful chaos of blossoms falling in late Spring. She drubbed her knuckles against the glass again. "Open up, asshole!"
Dee stared, unseeing, out his own window. "We're superheroes."
"Dee, you've said that already." Eurydice grinned in the rearview mirror. "At least a dozen times now."
"You two are the superheroes," Yves said, cranking down the window. "I'm just the guy driving the car." Orchid petals tickled his cheeks and the tang of raspberry perfume overwhelmed all other scents. "What is it, Raz."
"Drive faster, damn it," Raspberry demanded. "I can't cum unless you drive at least sixty. And if you can get this baby up to eighty-eight miles per hour," she winked, "you're gunna see some serious shit."
Yves forced himself not to smile. He enjoyed Raspberry's company so much it pissed him off and he would rather die than let it show. "I'm not going to risk our lives just so you can get off."
Raspberry grumbled, "Ass wipe." Her head swung up out of sight.
For the first time since they drove away from the SRU parking lot, Ursula pulled her nose out of the Sudoku book. "Risk our lives? What's wrong, Yves?"
Yves scrunched his fingers on the steering wheel. "Something just doesn't feel right. Maybe I'm just too wired, gone too long with too little sleep but…something's up." He studied Ursula in the rearview mirror. "I wish you'd keep an eye out. Dee's useless when he's achieving kensho."
Ursula flipped to a page in the back of her book. "Ah ha, here's one she only finished halfway. Alright, Yves, just pass me a pen please." She cocked her head, eyes distant. "You sure? It won't cost you too much? Okay." Yves started to speak but Ursula raised one glossy gloved finger. The fingertip thickened liquidly before stretching up and tapering into a sharp, hooked claw, wet with onyx ink. She brought the claw down over the open book. It made the scritter and scritch noises of a fountain pen.
"Did you just…talk…with Nyx?" Yves asked.
"Hm? Oh! Duh, yeah." Ursula did not look up from her writing.
"She hasn't mindfucked you or anything has she?"
"Duh, no." Ursula tilted her head left and right, pointing with her claw at her ears. Little neat obsidian spheres were tucked into each ear. Capillaries of black ink ran down her neck and coupled the ear buds to the thick rubber collar. "Better than an iPod." She returned to her writing, lips working.
Crammed into the trunk behind Ursula, CeeCee said, "They've been whispering to each other nonstop."
"Subvocalizing," Eurydice agreed. "All the time." She pantomimed a conversation with her hands, her voice tinny and warbling as if she were speaking into a tin can. "Yap - yap - giggle - yap - yap - ooh - m'wah - m'wah ." She mashed her puppeting hands together and made obscene smooching noises. "It's like preteen puppy love but with latex queens."
CeeCee nodded before hulloing to the front of the car. "I call shotgun for the next ride, honey, you hear?"
Yves, his curiosity getting the better of him, kept one eye on the road and the other on the rearview mirror. "Unless you developed a Sudoku fetish, I take it there's more to that book than just magic square puzzles."
"Nope." Ursula flipped to a page in the middle of the book and held it up for Yves to see. "Just magic squares."
Yves could only look at page for a few seconds, at the impossible looping scrawl of words and numbers and symbols in dozens of languages and ciphers and geometries that burst organically from the confines of simple square Sudoku grids to infect the empty spaces in between with illusory dimensions. It filled him with a lurching vertigo and he slapped the rearview mirror vertical. "Sweet Jesus. What was that?"
"Just magic square puzzle answers." The skittering noises of Ursula's fountain pen/claw started up again. She affected Tomoe's mixed-up Asiatic accent and added, "The way they used to answer them. In the old days. The very, very old days." The scratching reached a crescendo and Ursula finished her work with a final chop and flourish. When she spoke again, her voice was edged, echoing and strange. "Oh, God—the stars."
With the driver's side window open and the passenger side door laying in the grass on the side of the road somewhere, the wind whistled through the Jeep's cabin unhindered, whipping up receipts, leaves, and the aromas of lime and caramelizing sugar. Yves drove passed a sign for the highway onramp.
"We're superheroes," Dee said.
Yves pulled the Jeep through a tight curve in the road and the onramp appeared beside the overpass before them. Without knowing why, Yves found his center and entered the detached middle-distance of the martial trance. The next few seconds unspooled before Yves' senses in an orderly, slow-motion succession of events.
Yves consciously registered the bumper and hood of a yellow SUV hidden in the recess beneath the overpass. Yves lifted his foot off the accelerator pedal.
Ursula called out in that same strange voice, "She's here."
The Jeep reached the mouth of the overpass. Yves swung his leg over brake pedal and willed every ounce of his weight into his foot as he began to bring it down. He realized he would not be in time.
Black Cherry, blood-and-shadow batwings spread thrice as wide as she stood tall, leaped from the top of the overpass into the air above the Jeep. She plummeted with the lethal aerodynamic grace of a guided missile, arms thrust ahead of her. Her fists punched through the silver hood of the Jeep, snapped the vehicle's frame and cracked the engine block. Yves' foot felt no resistance when the brake pedal connected with the floor. The brakes failed and all four wheels lost contact with the road.
Black Cherry's feral scream reached Yves' ears.
I told you from the start
Just how this would end:
When I take what I want,
I never want it again.