Theta Waves Thursdays: Act 9

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theta waves dragon v3 copyTheta Waves Thursday

Where each Thursday, I post an act from my new and ongoing serial story: Theta Waves. It’s been a couple of months since Phoenix was released, so instead of starting there (anyone who enjoys a Thea read has already grabbed it up for free but if you didn’t, you can go over to just about any ebook retailer and download it for FREE), I’m going to begin with Dragon: Episode 2.

 So settle back, prepare yourself for a typical tale that has all the darkness you’ve come to expect from a Thea read, but with a little added steam.

 Looking for more freebie goodies? I’m amassing some over at Gimmesome. Go get some!

DRAGON ACT 9

“That was more terror than you’ve ever known,” Theda said to the hood in front of her. She knew that in another lifetime this man had been a woman accused of witchcraft. She’d endured unspeakable pain at the hands of her questioners. Theda’s own skin itched with it crawled with the horror even as she sat in front of him in this day and age. There was something more in the vision, she knew, something that wanted to overtake the residual terror that Frau Gerlinde had felt. That sense that no matter how much she denied being a tool of the devil, no matter how much she had confessed in the end, the men took a perverse delight in torturing her. Yet this man in front of her, the same girl generations later, didn’t so much as buckle beneath the weight of that horror.

“Take off your hood,” she said.

“That was quite a trip,” he said from beneath the material.

A sickening sense crept up Theda’s spine, because the stoic response that might mean her salvation also meant he was unaffected by what he experienced. Even so, she soldiered on.

“Enough to win me a few extra hours?”

He pulled off his hood and she could see that there was some perspiration on his neck. She would have sighed in relief except for the smile that played across his mouth.

“You may have bought yourself more than a few hours,” he hedged.

A panic akin to the one she’d felt as she walked him through the girl’s lifetime moved across Theda’s skin, but she didn’t dare ask what he meant. Instead she asked the most time sensitive question.

“You won’t kill me then?”

“Not right yet.” He swallowed and she watched the Adam’s apple plunge down and bob back up. “How many of those rides can you take me on?”

She tried to keep his gaze as she answered, but she couldn’t stand to see the hunger in his eyes. “As many as you like,” she lied. “But not one after the other. I need to rest.”

He straightened on his feet and looked down at her. “Then I’ll wait.”

It was obvious that he hadn’t connected the girl to himself at all. Whether or not he was slow witted or just hungry for shame and torment, Theda didn’t even want to entertain. It was bad enough she’d have to feel his finger in her mouth again, but she also had to hope against hope that his next ride would be equally as terrifying. Because what if it wasn’t? What if the next life she brought him to was a peaceful one? One where he had the love of another, felt happiness. That wouldn’t be a ride suitable for this man. No. He’d want to relive something torturous and she had no control over where the magic took her.

“Maybe you could untie me?” She suggested.

He swung his gaze back to her from the contemplative stare that had his gaze pinned somewhere behind her. “I love the way you joined up with Anne Boleyn at the beginning,” he said. “Almost as good as a segue in a movie.”

Theda chewed her lip. She’d never before seen two lifetimes in one re-vision and she wondered if indeed her current reality had merged with the magic to create some sort of transition.

“Maybe we could try different things,” she prompted. “You know, to sort of mix it up a little.”

She had his attention; his eyes lit with excitement. “We could try Cleopatra?”

“Or we could try something really regular. You know to heighten the contrast of the terror. Maybe something as simple as a woman lying in her bed at night, sleeping, maybe dreaming. Then moving into something…”

“Something terrifying,” his eyes gleamed. “Yes, that could work.”

All she wanted was to lie down somewhere, just for a few moments. Catch her breath. But now she wasn’t so sure. She felt like Scheherazade trying to buy herself a few more moments of life. But in this case each moment of life might be more torturous than the end of the life she would gain.

She wished she hadn’t wasted her godspit smear on Salima.

She knew she should try to ask to be released again; her shoulders ached and the burn somewhere between her shoulder blades robbed her of any thought more coherent than needing to adjust to relieve the pressure.

She didn’t have time to form the words. He yanked on her hair, pulling her head backward until she heard her neck crack. He stared down into her eyes and she wished the sting of tears would wash away the sight of his greedy, proprietary gaze.

“Such a pretty neck,” he murmured before his tongue ran across her windpipe, biting down so hard she gagged. She felt her voice box lodged between his teeth, felt the sway of the chair as his weight bent her farther back. She expected to fall, to have her throat torn out as she went down, but he loosened his grip just enough that he could drag his teeth to her earlobe. Theda couldn’t help the shriek of pain.

“So fleshy,” he said. “I love fleshy.” He bit down again, this time rubbing his groin against her chest. His erection was massive enough that she felt the first true twinges of terror. She prayed all he would do with it was vaginal.

“Please,” she whimpered. “I can take you on another ride.”

He unzipped and the fat thing fell out, all red and angry looking. She couldn’t tear her gaze away.

“Nice, huh?” he said. “Most women love a big cock, but so few get to enjoy one.” He rubbed the tip against her tightened mouth. “You’re one lucky spitter.”

She resolved to bite that disgusting worm if he shoved it into her mouth, but he didn’t attempt it. Instead, he stepped away and zipped his pants back over the straining bulge. She heard her own relief exit in a long sigh. He quirked his brow at her.

“Oh, it’s coming,” he said. “But I’m not about to cut to the chase just yet. That’s for boys who know nothing of pleasure.”

He donned the hood again, posing for her. “Maybe a little asphyxiation first? Bare hands? You’ll spit at me first, won’t you? Nod your head, you stupid bitch.”

She nodded, feeling blood trickle down her throat.

“Good. I’ll give you plenty of time before I start squeezing in earnest. Make sure you aim for my eye. It infuriates me.”

He lifted his hands, clawing the air, as he approached. “Then when you come to, you can take me on that ride. That should be rest enough.”

She knew she should protest, but her brain wouldn’t fire the language section into action. She had finally gotten the words formed into some sort of order in her mind when the door burst open inexplicably; it took her a few blinks and a few deep breaths before she could register that the person flying through the open door was Ezekiel. And even as she realized it, he had already made the trip across the room startling the John and jamming the Taser beneath his ear. The portly bastard crumpled to the floor on his knees and then fell to his side as Ezekiel charged him, again and again. The man straightened out in a stiff seizure, the hood climbing up his face until all but the hair was exposed.

It all happened so fast that the only real thought that went through Theda’s mind was that the bastard deserved it. That he deserved worse.

She collected water in her mouth, hurling herself, chair and all, at the inert form on the floor. A second man, who had followed Ezekiel into the room had made his way behind Theda and was cutting her from her bonds. The chair fell noisily behind her.

She didn’t care who it was, she only cared about the face in front of her.

She let go a load of spit onto her John’s face and was gathering up more when Ezekiel grabbed her by the elbow and pulled her away.

She could’ve kissed him. She could have fallen at his feet and wrapped herself reverently around his legs. The gorgeous green eyes, the charcoal hair, the Taser in his hand.

She flew at him, curling her fingers into fists and letting them land wherever they would. His jaw, his chest, his nose. She had no idea she was crying until the snot ran into her mouth, and her vision blurred so much she couldn’t see him anymore. She landed blows wherever she thought he was until her knuckles began to ache from the contact. Still it wasn’t enough.

“How could you?” She sobbed. “How could you leave me here in this place? How could you bring me here?”

She was gathered into his arms just as her knees gave out. He held her tightly against him, smoothing her hair, pressing her face into his neck, shushing her.

“It’s okay, minou,” he soothed. “It’s okay. It’s going to be okay.”

She couldn’t stop the shaking. Even if she wrapped her arms around his torso, pressing herself against him as closely as she could, her body wouldn’t stop trembling. She hated the sound of her teeth clicking together. She couldn’t make any coherent sounds, let alone true speech.

He held her like that for a long moment until the man who had come in behind him cleared his throat.

“We need to do something with him,” the man said.

Theda twisted out of Ezekiel’s embrace and turned to his companion.

“It can’t be,” she said, gasping as she realized who it was.

“It is,” her jailer said. He’d been the one who fed the godspit to her at the boutique.

“I don’t understand,” she started.

“You don’t have to,” the jailer bent over to grab the John’s feet. “He’s a heavy bastard,” he grumbled. “

“Not just a heavy bastard,” Ezekiel murmured. “A heavy councilor.”

Theda looked at the man again. True, she wouldn’t know a politician if she’d seen one up close, but his face did have a familiar look now that she was paying attention. Not that she cared who her tormentor was, because she didn’t. She didn’t care one lick about him; he wasn’t worth the energy interest needed.

She tottered to the bed and fell on it, watching the two with an almost dispassionate awareness as her jailer plucked a couple of smears from his pocket, pulled the strips off, and laid them on the man’s tongue. It was too good for such a piece of shit, and she hoped he’d overdose on it, or at the very least have a hell of a withdrawal. She put her fingers to her temple; it wasn’t fair that a man like him would get to enjoy a good 48 hours of pure bliss. She was the one who needed it.

“We need to get out of here,” Ezekiel said.

“That’ s the understatement of the century.”

The jailer looked up from settling the councilor into a recovery position on the plastic.

“If you’re going, you better get now, before they shut the place down looking for you, besides, this piece of shit is going to want his money back when he comes to.” He kicked the man in the stomach, releasing a groan from the man’s mouth. She wished she had thought of that.

“Let’s get moving, then,” Ezekiel said to her. “We don’t have much time to waste.” He looked at the jailer. “Will you be okay, Eddie?”

Eddie nodded. “I’ll leave buddy here on his plastic sheet. He didn’t see me so I have no worries about him ratting me out when he does come to. About three days from now.” He chuckled humorlessly.

“There’s a woman,” Theda said. “A redhead.”

Ezekiel laughed darkly. “That’s no woman; that’s Sasha. We don’t need to worry about him. I left him blissed out in his little boutique. Damn he’s ugly when he drools.”

“Sasha has an entire stable of spitters.” Theda watched Eddie carefully as she said this, uncertain what he would do with this information out in the open.

Ezekiel nodded slowly. “Of course he does,” he said. “It’s the reason the den is so…” he fluttered his fingers thoughtfully. “Successful.”

“We need to get them out of there.”

He shook his head fiercely. “I don’t think so, Theda. We’re in enough danger as it is.”

“Then one of them, at least. There’s a young girl in there who is about to be viciously murdered.”

“That’s her problem,” Ezekiel said, making his way across the room and taking her by the hand.

She resisted. “But we have to—”

“Since when do you care?”

“I’m not monster,” she protested.

“We have to get out of here,” Ezekiel said. “That’s it. Do you want a repeat of what you just suffered? Would you like to see it come to pass because you wanted to help a girl who sold herself for a few smears of godspit?”

The way he said it burned in her chest. She shook her head numbly, already feeling the stress of the day thickening her tongue, shutting down her synapses. She hugged herself, trying to catch Eddie’s eye as Ezekiel pushed her toward the door.

“She’s okay for now, Theda,” Eddie said. “The smear you slipped her was enough to keep her down long enough that we had to send someone else in her place.” He looked at his watch. “Jack only visits about once a month. You’ve got some time.”

She wanted to tell him to look out for her, to try and get her safe, but she knew he’d risked enough already. And she just couldn’t think anymore, she didn’t want to remember any of what had happened here. All she wanted was to get out. She kept hearing Ezekiel’s words rattling around behind her ears, and she wanted away from those, too. She needed air. She needed a smear or two.

They were at the door when Ezekiel paused.

“What?” She asked him.

He looked her up and down. “You can’t go out there like that.”

The costume. Of course.

“I thought you went to get me—”

His hands were on the bodice before she could finish the sentence. He ripped it neatly down the middle and pushed it off her shoulders. The entire gown puddled at her feet.

“The necklace too,” he said. “And the shoes.”

“I’m beginning to think you like your women barefoot,” she said, trying to joke, but the thought that another girl had taken Salima’s place, of the things that must have happened to her, made the smile twist into something that made her cheeks hurt.

“Don’t think about it,” Ezekiel said. “Don’t think about any of it right yet.” He stepped close enough to slip his arm around her back and pull her hips to his. The roughness of his jeans against her bare skin made her acutely aware that she would have to travel the entire spitter’s den in nothing but her bra and panties.

“I can’t do this,” she mumbled.

“You can. I’ll be with you the whole way. I won’t let anything happen to you.”

She nodded mutely and drew in a breath. She watched the pulse in his throat for a few seconds, counting the beats, focusing.

“Are you ready?” His voice was tender but urgent.

She moved to catch his eye, to let him know that she was ready, but his gaze was on her throat, lingering at that tender spot at the base. He seemed mesmerized for a moment before he shook it off and put his hand on the knob. He twisted, easing the door open as casually as a regular john would. Then in one deft movement, he lifted her into his arms, holding her beneath her knees and behind her back as he strode out into the hallway.

Theda didn’t protest; she didn’t think she could make her legs work anyway. She buried her face in his chest, not willing to see anything in the den anymore. She’d witnessed far more than she ever wanted to see again. If she kept her eyes closed, then none of it could touch her.

She felt his lips move against her hair now and then, almost as though he was trying to soothe away the thoughts within and when she clung to him all the more, he tightened his grip on her, walking ever more determinedly forward. By her measure, they had made it to the common room when he slowed his pace. Moans came from within, and shrieks of pleasure, enough heavy breathing to make a porn star blush.

“Almost there,” he said into her hair. “I think you better walk from here.” He eased her onto her feet, holding her gaze has he waited for her to steady herself. “You okay?”

She nodded. “Don’t leave me.”

His throat convulsed as she watched him, waiting for his response. She couldn’t go any farther on her own. She would completely break down if he left her now. And yet something in his manner made her afraid that was exactly what he was planning to do.

“I won’t leave you,” he said huskily. It must’ve taken a great effort for him to agree because he looked away as he said it, unwilling or unable to keep her eye. Still, it was enough for Theda. She took a deep breath and stepped into the common room.

Before she was three steps within it, he had grabbed her from behind and was pulling her into his arms, one broad hand cupping her ass and the other cupping the nape of her neck, forcing her mouth against his. She lost her breath to his as he kissed her.
 

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Theta Waves Thursdays: Act 8

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theta waves dragon v3 copyTheta Waves Thursday

Where each Thursday, I post an act from my new and ongoing serial story: Theta Waves. It’s been a couple of months since Phoenix was released, so instead of starting there (anyone who enjoys a Thea read has already grabbed it up for free but if you didn’t, you can go over to just about any ebook retailer and download it for FREE), I’m going to begin with Dragon: Episode 2.

 So settle back, prepare yourself for a typical tale that has all the darkness you’ve come to expect from a Thea read, but with a little added steam.

 Looking for more freebie goodies? I’m amassing some over at Gimmesome. Go get some!

DRAGON ACT 8

At first she stared out ahead of her, aware that there were people beside her and behind her. Something of great importance was about to happen, but it took a few moments before she registered the sight and processed it into something cohesive. It was the faces that she examined first, sleek grubby faces, some of them clean and fresh. The women wore hats and jewelry and gowns that met the ground where they stood. The man had on doublets if they were well dressed, homespun cotton breeches if they were poor. A crowd of them, waiting with anxious expressions, some of them twisting rosaries through their fingers.

She was aware of sunlight and warmth on her face. Aware that an errant breeze lifted her skirts. She looked down to see she was covered from waist to toe in gray. Damask, her mind whispered and then noticed beneath that a kirtle of crimson as dark as blood. Someone was praying beside her. She knew it even as she noticed the block in front of her, the pile of straw and the wicker basket next to it. She knew she was about to be beheaded by the man she loved, bore children for, both living and dead. It was the dead ones that pained her the most. The ones that twisted her dreams in the night. She would be with them soon. Able to hold them like a mother should.

Even as she prepared herself for the blade, to stoop to the block and stretch her neck out, the scene evaporated and she was left kneeling in filthy straw in the gloom of some room that stank of urine and feces and wet stone. The sound of metal on metal caught her ear and she twisted her head to the left. Her jailer, come to bring her to the questioning chamber again.

“Please, sir, I’m innocent,” she said.

“That’s not for me to judge,” he said gruffly.

She couldn’t help the sob that escaped her throat. But she found her feet and stumbled backwards, grasping for the stone wall behind her. He wouldn’t take her. Not again. She’d dash her head against the very stones that housed her if he tried to take her again.

Despite her struggles, another guard barreled into the cell and grabbed her beneath the armpits. They yanked her forcefully forward, and she stumbled, her bare feet catching on the stones and knocking over the slop bucket. They brought her to the same wooden door she’d been forced through the day before. Oak, she thought, recognizing the grain, and realizing even as she considered such an inane thing, that it was the regular everyday sights that bound her to reality now. Everything was surreal, almost like walking through a nightmare. She had expected this morning to wake and find herself in her own bedroom, her children scampering around the kitchen table, begging for her to get up and make them some porridge. For a moment, her ears even deceived her when she opened her eyes. She could hear the tinkle of their laughter, but it turned out it was only the rattling of her chains as she moved.

And there, now entering, she noted the same high desk with Herr Schöneburg in the middle, flanked on either side by men of the parish. Her chest started to tighten at the sight of them.

Her jailers dragged her in front of the desk where the men peered down at her without pity.

“Frau Gerlinde,” Herr Schöneburgbegan. “You have been charged with witchcraft. What is your response to this accusation?”

“The same as yesterday my Lords.” The tightening of her chest now crept up to her throat. Her jaws felt as though they would break if she moved so much as her lips.

“Despite your denial, you must understand that these are serious charges. We had hoped a night of consideration might weaken the devil’s hold on your tongue.”

“The devil does not have hold of my tongue, Sirs.” She meant it to sound confident, but it squeaked out because the pain in her jaw had crept behind her ear lobes, and the quaking had taken over her limbs.

“Please recite the Lord’s prayer, Frau Gerlinde.”

The Lord’s prayer. She knew it, didn’t she? She’d recited it enough in her life; she should know it off by heart. It should come easily to her tongue; it should exit her mouth as though it was a mere breath. Even so, nothing relieved the emptiness of her mind. She saw them wait patiently and the more they waited, the less able she was to think of the first words. She just needed the first word. Only the one, and surely the rest would spill out. Dear sweet heaven, she’d said it enough. She’d taught it to her children.

“We’re waiting,” Herr Schöneburg said.

She heard nothing in the chamber but for the scribbling of one of the judges onto a parchment, that and the sound of the clacking of her teeth as she tried to control the trembling. Yesterday, she’d thought it was a mistake, a foolish prank played on her by her next-door neighbor. She’d made light of the charges, had stood confidently in front of the judges. Almost haughtily. They couldn’t charge her; she wasn’t a witch.

“Frau, we’re waiting.”

“The Lord… The Lord…” Her legs felt like water.

“See how she can’t get any further than the opening?” Herr Schöneburg said to the scribbler.

“I do know more, I do.”

“You had yesterday and all last night to reflect on your sins, Frau Gerlinde. You have brought us no more evidence than a declaration of innocence. It’s not sufficient. We must question you further.”

He nodded to the jailers, who grabbed her by the elbows and dragged her out of the room into another. At first it felt blissfully warm, the broad fireplace that greeted her burned hot, and the warmth caressed her damp muscles. For a moment she felt relief. Then her gaze fell on the benches beside it with various metal tools. Three men sat in chairs, one dressed as a high official, the other as some sort of scribe. The one on the far left almost felt like she knew him, as though she should know him. But her mind was so addled, she couldn’t think of anything more except the words she’d failed to say.

“The Lord is my shepherd,” she blurted. She wasn’t sure why that pleased her so, why her cheeks hurt so much from the smile of relief.

The official inclined his head towards her almost respectfully. “Welcome, Frau Gerlinde. I am the magistrate, appointed to investigate the heinous act of witchcraft in this community. My man next to me will record and keep the protocol. Do you understand this?”

She didn’t even have it in her to nod.

“I have been given permission to put you to the question. Do you understand this?”

She swallowed but despite the deep muscle action, no water went down. The man continued.

“Confess now to being a witch, Frau. And you won’t have to be put to the question.”

She shook her head vehemently. She was a simple housewife, she had three children. She had a husband who loved her, a couple of cows, a pig. Some chickens. Why, even just a fortnight ago, she was given a meager inheritance by her father’s sister who married well and was the last of the line. Her life was a promising one.

The magistrate pointed almost casually toward the back of the room and she managed to turn her attention to where a strange contraption hunkered in the corner. Nothing good ever happened in the corner, she said to herself. Nothing ever. Corners were for secrets and for privy pots, and now it seemed they were for large hooks with chains that appeared as though they could pull a person directly off their feet and suspend them, leaving them open for any kind of attack.

She thought she said a word, she thought she protested, but what came out was a sob.

“There waits the strappado. Confess and you don’t have to endure it.”

There were no words anymore. Her throat was so tight, her lungs so empty and wracked with such painful gasps that she couldn’t pull in enough air to relieve the burning. She was trembling in earnest now, and her legs would have gone out from underneath her if her jailers hadn’t grabbed her again. One held her stiffly upright as the other stripped the clothing from her, left her naked in her shame in front of these men. His fingers probed every inch of her body, poking into places that brought tears to her eyes and made her bite her lip.

“Does she have any charms hidden anywhere?” The official asked. And the jailer shook his head.

“Then shave her,” the magistrate said.

Without soap, without water, with only a razor that looked as though it was to shear sheep, they scraped the hair from her skull, bringing blood that ran into her eyes and leaked into her mouth. She couldn’t bring any sense to her mind, no words, no images, nothing. The only thing that screamed to her was terror. She had never been so frightened. As they bound her hands in front of her, and led her toward the strappado, her legs finally did go out from underneath her and she fell onto her nose. A scream of agony tore through her, finding an exit through a mouth that didn’t seem to close anymore.

“Only guilt could create such fear,” the magistrate said. “Begin the questioning.”

She was hauled forward like a sack of potatoes, hooked into the strappado by her bound hands. They tied heavy weights to her feet and the next she knew she was lifted high into the air and the only way that she could escape the terror, flee from the pain was to let the pain take her consciousness.

 

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Theta Waves Thursdays: Act 7

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theta waves dragon v3 copyTheta Waves Thursday

Where each Thursday, I post an act from my new and ongoing serial story: Theta Waves. It’s been a couple of months since Phoenix was released, so instead of starting there (anyone who enjoys a Thea read has already grabbed it up for free but if you didn’t, you can go over to just about any ebook retailer and download it for FREE), I’m going to begin with Dragon: Episode 2.

 So settle back, prepare yourself for a typical tale that has all the darkness you’ve come to expect from a Thea read, but with a little added steam.

 Looking for more freebie goodies? I’m amassing some over at Gimmesome. Go get some!

DRAGON ACT 7

She assumed it was the john from the boutique, but she couldn’t be entirely sure. A black hood covered his face, with eye holes that let her see each time he blinked. She tried to move, and realized she wasn’t lying on a bed comfortably waiting for the euphoria to recede, but was tied to a chair with her hands behind her back. She almost laughed aloud at the irony of her situation. Maybe her last thoughts shouldn’t have been of Ezekiel at all, Karma had a way of twisting humor back into a girl’s face. He’d saved her last time from exactly the same position, with almost exactly the same kind of man in front of her.

It took a while for her eyes to adjust to the entire room, for the blurring at the edges of her vision to sharpen. The decorations looked like what she imagined Anne’s room in the Tower of London had been like. There was a linen fold paneling, and a four poster bed. Except in the corner, atop a stretch of plastic drop cloth, stood a hewn out block of wood that must have served the other Boleyns as a neck rest as they lost their heads.

“I don’t plan to use that right away,” he said.

“I don’t suppose I can convince you to not use it at all,” she said.

She was willing to bet that this particular john fed on fear as much as he fed on the fantasy of killing famous women.

He chuckled darkly. “For this particular fantasy, I don’t exactly require you to stay in character.” He backed away to sit on the edge of the bed and stare at her. She squirmed beneath his gaze, knowing that those eyes would be the last human thing she would see. Her eyes trailed off toward the block again. It was filthy, covered in old blood. He’d done this before, plenty of times. He obviously had enough money to pay for this particular fantasy once before if not repeatedly.

“Did you know that rumor has it that Anne was a witch,” she said.

He said nothing to that, but he did reposition himself on the bed.

“Henry always accused her of bewitching him.”

“I’m not interested in being Henry,” he said.

“Then what is it you’re interested in besides killing me?”

He shrugged. “I do have a few other proclivities,” he said.

She didn’t want to imagine what those were and why he hadn’t pulled her to the block yet if that was his intent. He obviously wanted to let the tension build before he swung the blow. She looked around for an ax, and realized there wasn’t any.

“Her executioner used a sword,” she said, remembering her history.

He crossed his arms over his fat chest. “Indeed,” he said. “But that’s where the history lesson ends,” he said.

She realized then that although the real Anne had gone to her death almost meekly and accepting, that her execution had been swift and meted out with some modicum of justice and, warped as it was, that this man in front of her had no such intention. He wanted her to be terrified. He wanted to chase her. He wanted to run her.

She tried to swallow, but her mouth was so dry there was nothing to move. Even the muscles in her body had begun to ache: withdrawal, she supposed. She didn’t usually suffer it so quickly after a smear, but ever since she had taken the three at once that Ezekiel had given her, it was all she could think about, all her body craved.

He must have noticed her trembling.

“I see you’re finally starting to understand,” he said. “Are you ready for me to untie you?”

She nodded meekly and he got up from the bed, trudging in his thick boots over to her chair. He went behind her and she felt the ropes coming loose.

“I know a few things about fear,” she said.

“Me too,” he said, coming round to face her. “I know that the adrenaline that’s pumping through your body right now is making you shake.” He looked down at her without blinking for a long moment. Probably savoring it.

“I know more than that,” she said. “I have a particular skill in that area as well.”

That had his attention. He knelt in front of her. “And what would a tiny girl like you know about causing fear?”

“You couldn’t have picked a better victim,” she said. “This Anne Boleyn in front of you is also a witch.”

He lay back on his heels, chortling. “You spitters do say the funniest things.”

“I can prove it. I can take you on a ride scarier than any haunted house you’ve ever been in.”

“Child’s play,” he said.

“I can take you on a ride more fearful than any adrenaline rush you got from killing these poor girls. From killing me.”

“If that was true, I might let you live a little longer.”

“It’s simple then,” she said. “All you have to do is cut your finger. Put it in my mouth.”

She looked at him. And waited.

“That doesn’t sound very terrifying.”

“Trust me, it can be. And if it isn’t, what have you lost?”

She couldn’t see his face, but he did seem to be considering. He stared off over her shoulder where the block lay in the corner.

“You deliver, and you gain yourself a few hours.” He stood, looking down at her. “In the end I’ll get what I paid for. Understand?”

She nodded. “A few hours extra seems a fair enough deal.”

“You won’t find the sword, you know.”

“I’m sure you have it well hidden,” she said, nodding at the bed. “You might want to sit down.”

He chortled. “That good is it?”

“That good and better.”

He undid the clasp from her neck, and maneuvered the links so that one of them shifted out. This he jammed into his finger and, looking at it for long moment, he watched as the blood burbled to the surface. Then, without ceremony or delay, he shoved it into her mouth. His fingers tasted like onions and tequila. She would have gagged if she wasn’t already falling down into the vision.

 

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What readers are saying about Theta Waves

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theta waves phoenix v2 copyNews about Theta Waves

FYI for those following my serialized story: Theta Waves. First off: Phoenix is now FREE just about everywhere. (Amazon, why you so stubborn?) so please, if you like em dirty, dark, and blasphemous, go grab it. Meanwhile stay tuned for the next 3 acts of  Dragon: Episode 2, posted every Thursday.

 

Plus: The first 3 episodes will soon be in paperback. See what reviewers are saying about the compilation over at Amazon

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Theta Waves Thursdays: Act 6

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theta waves dragon v3 copyTheta Waves Thursday

Where each Thursday, I post an act from my new and ongoing serial story: Theta Waves. It’s been a couple of months since Phoenix was released, so instead of starting there (anyone who enjoys a Thea read has already grabbed it up for free but if you didn’t, you can go over to Amazon and download it), I’m going to begin with Dragon: Episode 2.

 So settle back, prepare yourself for a typical tale that has all the darkness you’ve come to expect from a Thea read, but with a little added steam.

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DRAGON ACT 6

Theda backed away from the door. There was no way she could hide; she couldn’t give any indication that she’d heard what went on in the other room. What she had to do was try to look casual, to look as though she was waiting for her smear, to paste on the look of an addict jonesing for her drug. She had to make the redhead believed nothing was amiss.

Now just how to do that when her chest was heaving from fear was as good a question as anything. She tore for the chair and ottoman, reclining into it just in time. The door opened, spilling out both the redhead and the portly customer. Just beyond, Theda could make out two burly youths gripping Salima by her arms. Both of them had sidearms.

“All of these are spoken for,” the redhead said to the portly man as she entered. “But I have one in the back who I think might suit. I had her pegged for an Anne Boleyn, but I know you wanted to try something different for a change.”

Theda watched as he laid his gaze on her. It was obvious he recognized her immediately. A smile spread across his face that made her stomach convulse. “Sometimes the old standbys offer a man the best gratification,” he said, touching his lip with the back of his index finger.

The redhead strolled through the room toward her, nodding. “She’s fair, perhaps too fair, I know,” she said. “But she has those same wide set black eyes, and such a lovely long neck.”

Theda made herself set up at attention, all the while working to keep from trembling. She couldn’t let them see her fear.

“So am I good enough?” She demanded and hoped they didn’t hear the tremor in her voice. “Do you approve?” She had a feeling that contract or not, changing her mind wouldn’t be an option at this point. They had her exactly where they wanted her; what the redhead counted on was Theda’s ignorance.

The john scratched his nose. “I couldn’t have asked for a better fit,” he said, turning to the redhead. “When can I have her?”

A noise came from the other room that stole the redhead’s attention for a moment, a frown overtaking her face, but she recovered quickly and turned her eyes on Theda. “I promised her a fix first,” she said.

“Damn straight you did,” Theda said.

“Tomorrow, then,” the redhead said to the john. “On account I presume?”

The john licked his lips. “I’ll pay cash if I can have her in the morning.”

“That’s a great deal of money to get together in a few short hours.” The redhead looked at her watch, then gave her attention to Theda. “Looks like you got your approval,” she said.

Two men came into the room from behind her, carrying a limp Salima by the hands and feet. They dropped her down on the cot. Even in the dim light, Theda could see she’d been given godspit; the lubricated look was already slipping over her face. No doubt they had to keep her incapacitated and in ecstasy until the poor girl found herself coming to in some room with a ratty mattress and a man hovering over her with a razor-sharp knife.

Despite her attempt at self-control, a shudder swam across Theda’s shoulders. The girl would’ve been better off taking her chances with the sidearms. Maybe even with the snake.

One of the men came toward Theda with his hand in his pocket. She knew what was in there, what he was about to pull out and pass to her. She knew she would have a choice to either take it and let herself escape these horrors, or pretend to lay it on her tongue and keep her wits about her until Ezekiel could find her.

If he found her. There was no guarantee that he was even coming back to this place. She should’ve just stayed put like he’d told her.

She met the young man’s eye as he held out the smear. She grabbed for it with all the abandon and greed of a spitter in desperate need. It wasn’t as if she had to dig deep to work at that one. She really did need. She really was desperate. She turned on those still standing beside her.

“Do you get your jollies from watching us drool?” She demanded.

The redhead pursed her cherried lips, trying to keep the victorious smile hidden. She nodded to the others and they followed her from the room, only looking back before she closed the door. Theda made sure the redhead saw the smear lie on an outstretched tongue, arms fling back as Theda fell into the chair.

When the door closed, she yanked the smear from her tongue. She examined it carefully, making sure the seal was still intact. She might not take it now, but she had a feeling she might need it later. Keep it like a spy kept a cyanide pill. She couldn’t exactly hide it in the bed spread she was wearing, but she could grab the young Morrison’s shirt and pull his jeans up over her own ass. Jam the smear into his pocket where it would be nice and safe.

And to think that a few short hours before, her greatest panic was remembering a vision of a life that had happened hundreds of years earlier. She wasn’t sure how she was going to get out, but she was going to keep her wits about her even if it meant giving away the godspit smear so she didn’t end up taking it.

She had to think. She could check the door to see if it was locked, but she’d need to listen for voices first. It wouldn’t do to rattle at the doorknob and draw attention to the fact that someone in here wasn’t blissed out. She was torn between wanting to grab at the door and rush headlong through the boutique and trying to calm the racing of her thoughts enough that she could devise a realistic plan of escape. She had to pull in several deep breaths before she even managed to stop the trembling.

It was obvious they kept everyone under until they were needed, and then spitters probably were allowed to come back to reality only so much before they were handed over to their johns. She knew that a typical street smear offered about 12 hours of euphoria, but she also knew those have no quality control either. Someone with the redhead’s resources might have found a way to regulate the hit. The question was whether the hit was stronger or weaker. She fondled the smear in her pocket, wondering what grade it might be, considering using it just before morning and ruining Henry VIII’s plans. It was risky: if she didn’t find a way out she might very well end up like Salima and awaiting for a far worse fate than a quick death. But it might do to buy herself a little more time if she couldn’t come up with a viable escape plan.

So she had two contingency plans: use the smear to buy her time, or use the smear to lose her mind just before the killing blow. Neither of them did anything to stop up the bile that burned in her stomach. She needed a better plan.

She had sat on the edge of the Ottoman, chewing her nails for what seemed an eternity when she heard the door unlock. She wasn’t sure she had got herself back into position in enough time, but she did manage to turn her head in the direction of the door, opening her eyes just enough to make out shapes within. Two men, judging by the voices. The burly handlers from the boutique.

“That one needs a new smear,” one man said.

“You do it; I hate touching them.”

“Put your gloves on,” the first said. “Then you don’t have to worry about catching anything.”

“I don’t care about catching anything,” the second said. “I just don’t like the way their mouths feel.”

So she was right; they did keep everyone drugged and on a schedule. That also meant the door would be opened again and again until it was her turn. That would give her plenty of chances to slip out. She would’ve smiled if she wasn’t so afraid of being caught.

Once they’d left, Theda moved next to the door. She’d sit there for hours if she had to, but when it next opened and they came in to give the next smear to some poor unfortunate soul, she’d slip out while they were busy.

She imagined herself as Ezekiel would find her, dressed as the lizard King, her hair another ratty mess. She smiled at the thought of his reaction. Lost herself in the fantasy of rescue. She was so lost in it that when the door opened, she wasn’t ready for it. The men were in the room before she realized they had closed the door behind them. She thought they were talking about Salima, but from her spot next to the door, she was too vulnerable to stay there and listen, too wide open in case they turned around; she had to take cover.

She didn’t even dare swallow and had to fight the paralysis as she inched her way to the first chair, so she could duck behind it until they at least moved further down the room enough that she could rush the door and slip out. She couldn’t chance them catching her or firing at her from behind. She had no illusions about her value, but she couldn’t be sure the redhead would offer a refund.

She realized as she hunkered behind the chair, that she was also next to the cot where Salima lay. The men had halted next to it, were talking about her, discussing whether or not her smear had worn off enough to bring her to the London room. Theda couldn’t see from her spot behind the chair, but she could hear that they were moving closer to Salima, perhaps lifting her arms as they spoke, judging her awareness by the reaction of her limbs.

“Just about another hour,” I’d say.” Said one.

“Judging by how her pupils are reacting, I’d say maybe less.”

“I guess the Ripper will have his Mary after coffee, eh?”

Coffee break. About 15 minutes. Theda could linger behind the door for that long, surely. She’d let them leave and then when they came back in to collect Salima, they’d be too busy to notice anyone else slipping out.

Theda stood behind the door as she did before, staring at the door handle, willing it to twist. The more she stood there, the more she thought about poor Salima. The girl didn’t deserve such a fate. None of these people did. But what could she do? She had no weapon, Ezekiel didn’t leave her with the Taser. She would be lucky if she would even get out of this room alive herself.

She did have one thing, however, that might at least postpone the inevitable for the poor girl. Perhaps if she was lucky, postpone it long enough that the Ripper would select another victim. It wasn’t much, but like meeting her in the hallway, Theda didn’t have much to offer her in terms of salvation. She took the steps before she could think about it further. With just the tiniest bit of regret, Theda pulled the smear from the lizard King’s pocket and peeled the protective layer away. For one moment, she thought about placing it on her own tongue; it was her last smear after all, one last chance to lose herself, but by her reckoning Anne Boleyn had a few more hours to live than wretched Mary Kelly. She pinched Salima’s mouth open and laid the smear on her tongue. The reaction was subtle, but Theda knew it was complete. She sighed in relief for the wretch.

She was on her way back to her spot behind the door when it opened again. The henchmen took one look at her and swore out loud. Dammit, she couldn’t move her feet. They were rooted to the floor like some humongous potted plant that couldn’t even be lifted from its spot. They were on her before she could take two steps towards the door and they had her by the elbows, twisting, kicking, yelling obscenities back at them. They wrestled her to her chair and one of them held her down while the other went for his pocket.

“No,” she shook her head. “Please don’t,” if she took that smear, there was no telling how long she’d be out. She didn’t want to come to with Henry VIII’s face looming above hers.

“You don’t have to do this,” she pleaded.

“You have no idea what you’re talking about,” said the first man. He had a look of regret on his face, but there was also one of determination. “Open up.”

She recalled the last time a man had forced her to take a godspit smear. It had only been a few short days ago, but it seemed like a lifetime. She said his name aloud even though she tried to keep it to herself, even though the first jailer gave her a queer look when she said it. The comfort Ezekiel’s name brought her ears at least let her stick her tongue out, trembling, for the smear.

When she came to, she expected to see through her bleary vision the portly john she’d met earlier dressed in regal costume, his rotund stomach pressing forward grotesquely.

What she did see made tears sting her eyes.

The gentleman hadn’t wanted to be Henry VIII after all; he had been interested in being the king’s executioner.

 

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Theta Waves Thursdays Week 5

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theta waves dragon v2 copy

Welcome to Theta Waves Thursdays

Where each Thursday, I post an act from my new and ongoing serial story: Theta Waves. It’s been a couple of months since Phoenix was released, so instead of starting there (anyone who enjoys a Thea read has already grabbed it up for free but if you didn’t, you can go over to Amazon and download it), I’m going to begin with Dragon: Episode 2.

 So settle back, prepare yourself for a typical tale that has all the darkness you’ve come to expect from a Thea read, but with a little added steam.

 Looking for more freebie goodies? I’m amassing some over at Gimmesome. Go get some!

Dragon: Episode 2: Act 5

 

The Boutique took an entire wing of the building and was lit by natural light bulbs. The costumes didn’t just droop from clothes hangers but were draped on wax figures of the famous person they were meant to represent. Alexander the great wore his linen armor as he sat astride Bucephalas. Bonnie and Clyde hung outside of their getaway car, grasping bags of money and semiautomatic rifles. Even literary characters were presented in the boutique: Jekyll and Hyde, Dracula and Mena, even Hamlet and Ophelia.

 

Anne Boleyn sat next to her portly husband, looking afraid and vulnerable. The black wig on that wax mannequin had been knocked askew and Theda moved to straighten it. She noticed the pearls around the figure’s neck had begun to brown from age or maybe from the sweat of its previous wearers.

 

“I want a smear up front,” Theda said to the redhead.

 

“Certainly.”

 

“And I want some sort of contract. I want to know how you’re going to deliver the godspit to me.”

 

“You’re getting ahead of yourself,” the redhead said. “I’ve been in this business a long time. I know how to handle it. Shall we set you up with your first hit?”

 

It was almost too good to be true. “Right now?”

 

“A girl doesn’t buy an expensive pair of shoes without first trying them on.”

 

The redhead crooked her finger at Theda, leading her down an aisle of rock stars. At the end was a solid wood door that opened without a single creak. Inside, draped across loungers and fainting couches were a myriad of youth in the throes of euphoria. Theda’s heart began to beat so fast she could hear it in her ears. She turned to the redhead.

 

“When do I get my smear?”

 

“Very soon. You have to be approved first.”

 

“None of them seemed to be waiting to be approved.” She pointed at an older woman propped against a younger man, both like everyone else in the room. It seemed to her that at least one person should be Jonesing like nobody’s business.

 

“They’ve been approved already.”

 

That didn’t seem right. Theda knew the high could last for hours, but surely some of them would be sweating from withdrawal by now, some of them smiling ear to ear uncontrollably at peak, some of them shaking into the first escalation of ecstasy. They all seemed to be equally comatose.

 

The redhead placed an elegant hand on her hip, aiming it toward a gaunt man in his early 20s curled into an overstuffed chair. “He wore the Jim Morrison outfit a few hours ago for a woman who fancied herself Pamela Courson.”

 

There couldn’t be too much shame or humiliation in that one, Theda thought. “Then why is he still here? Surely he’d take his smears and go.”

 

The redhead looked at her strangely. “He didn’t sign the same contract you have. If he doesn’t perform, he gets nothing.”

 

She’d bought him, Theda realized. Just one more slave working for his fix. She should consider herself lucky to have the option. Theda had seen enough. She’d wasted enough time already; there was a chair in the far corner with an ottoman of matching material that could have been taken straight from her mother’s living room. “I want that spot,” she said and held out her hand.

 

The redhead licked her lips thoughtfully. “Greedy one, aren’t you? I’ll get your party lined up straightaway so you can relax and enjoy.”

 

Theda was left to pick her way to the chair. She stretched into it, placing her feet on the ottoman and laying her head back against the cushion. If she closed her eyes, she could imagine being in her mother’s living room, hear the rattling of dinner dishes off to her left as her mom prepared supper. She could hear father praying over his Bible, asking his God to help him lead his flock.

 

She forced her eyes open. She would rather see the reality of where she was now, watch the spitters drool in their euphoria, than think back to that time. That time made her itch all over. It made her squirm in the chair. She should have picked another one. She scanned the room, searching for an empty place and found one, a small cot lodged between two fainting couches. She was heading for it when she heard a commotion on the other side of the door.

 

Whatever it was, was going to keep her from getting her God spit; she edged closer, leaning in so that her ear was close to the door jam. Shouting came from the other side, and crying. Sobs that raised the hair on Theda’s arms. She knew the sound of it. She knew the sound of the voice complaining on the other end, too. The first was Salima, Theda was sure of it. Selena and her portly master. She cracked the door open.

 

Her john had a hard grip on Salima’s bicep, shaking her as he yelled at the redhead. “She’s no good,” he said. “She won’t roll into the carpet. She won’t seduce me.”

 

“I wouldn’t have thought that would be such a big deal,” the redhead said calmly. “It’s not exactly what you paid for, after all.”

 

Theda watched the little Cleopatra’s eyes squeeze shut as she cried even harder. That infuriated her john even more. “I want a refund.”

 

“You won’t get a refund,” the redhead said. “It’s up to you to get your money’s worth.”

 

“Well I can’t,” he complained. “She took one look at the snake and bolted for the door. I grabbed her just in time, but I have no idea where the snake went.”

 

The redhead groaned. “You left that deadly thing to crawl into some crevice? You idiot. You didn’t pay me enough to deal with that foolishness.” She massaged her temples and then through clenched teeth said, “I would have thought you could handle a little slip of a girl.”

 

“What about my refund?”

 

“There are no refunds, you know that.”

 

For some reason, Salima began to sob uncontrollably, and this time instead of getting angry, the john let her go where she sank to the floor, wrapping her arms around her knees. The redhead looked at her irritably.

 

“You could have gone with something painless,” the redhead said. “One little bite and it would have been over.”

 

At first Salima rocked back and forth as she wept, saying nothing, but then she lifted her head from her knees as though she’d just realized something that she should have understood before. She looked from the redhead to the portly john, snot and tears mingling on her face. Theda watched her throat constrict as she swallowed in realization. She began to shake her head back and forth, the hair sticking to her face, her eyes so wide it brought a chill to Theda’s arms.

 

“No.” One single word then repeated in a litany that was almost like a prayer if prayers could be voiced in this new world. “No no no.”

 

The redhead kicked at her, knocking her to the floor into a fetal position. “I’m afraid yes,” she said. “I have a client waiting to become Jack the Ripper. Are you old enough to know who that is? No? No matter; I think you’ll do just fine as Mary Kelly.”

 

It was the way she said it that brought Theda’s mind back to the deal she’d made with the redhead. A free smear for every day she lived. It made her think about the part she had agreed to play: Anne Boleyn. She’d been married to Henry for about 3 1/2 years. She’d managed to live in the tower for 17 days before she was executed. She wondered how many hours that would condense down into.

 

The last Anne Boleyn lost her head for less smears than Theda could pay for with $400. A fistful of cash and still not enough to keep her alive for even a day.

 

She realized exactly what the boutique sold in that moment and it took the strength out of her knees. She had only to look at Salima and know that the girl hadn’t realized she was swapping a few hours of high for a part in a real life snuff play. Hadn’t realized it until just now when the part she had to play for her next john would be far worse than the deadly pinprick of the serpent’s teeth on her neck.

 

And now she was trapped here, with no way to get out except past the redhead and Salima, and the portly bastard.

 

And with Ezekiel, her bounty hunter and reluctant protector nowhere in the vicinity, it was then I have to find a way to save herself.

 to be continued next week….

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New Romance Release from Debra Elizabeth

I have a special bit of news for you all today. One of my favorite writer peers has just released a new romance, and boy will you love her writing. I just one-clicked it for myself and suggest you do the same, especially since it’s a quick read for 99cents.
TSummerofLoveitle: SUMMER OF LOVE
Author: Debra Elizabeth
Published Date: February 7, 2014
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Book Blurb:
June 25 was supposed to be the best day of Jessica Blackstone’s life, but a family accident sends her perfect life into a tailspin. Trying to cope with the tragedy, she retreats to the family beach cottage for some much needed solace.

John Smith has been burnt by love, and is not interested in another relationship, that is, until he meets the beautiful and fragile Jessica. Can these two lost souls find love and heal their fractured hearts?

Summer of Love is a novella of ~20,000 words (80 pages in print)

Buy links:
New Release price only .99:

Amazon:

BN:

Valentines Special: #99cents for 9 dollar fiction

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Happy Valentines Day

Basic RGB

It’s the first VDay I’ve had anything remotely romantic in my catalog so I’m spreading the love. For Valentines Day only, Theta Waves book 1 (which includes episodes 1-3) will be on sale for 99cents at Amazon.com. That’s FOUR (4) dollars off the original price, and nearly NINE (9) dollars off the collective price.

If I were you, and I was thinking about trying this new series, I’d go get it now because I can’t see me doing this sort of thing often. LOL.

 Theta Waves

Looking for more freebie goodies? I’m amassing some over at Gimmesome. Go get some!

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Theta Waves Thursdays Week 4

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theta waves dragon v2 copy

Welcome to Theta Waves Thursdays

Where each Thursday, I post an act from my new and ongoing serial story: Theta Waves. It’s been a couple of months since Phoenix was released, so instead of starting there (anyone who enjoys a Thea read has already grabbed it up for free but if you didn’t, you can go over to Amazon and download it), I’m going to begin with Dragon: Episode 2.

 So settle back, prepare yourself for a typical tale that has all the darkness you’ve come to expect from a Thea read, but with a little added steam.

 Looking for more freebie goodies? I’m amassing some over at Gimmesome. Go get some!

Dragon: Episode 2: Act 4

She waited as long as she could, perched on the edge of the plastic sheet, making sure Ezekiel was good and gone. By her reckoning, at least half an hour had passed, plenty of time for him to get out of the building. A niggle in the back of her mind nagged her about being trusted, of taking advantage of trust, but she squashed each thought ruthlessly. If he was foolish enough to leave a girl alone with four hundred dollars, then he deserved what he got. It wasn’t as though she had to use the smears right away. All she had to do was buy them and hide them and then she could have one anytime she needed it. She didn’t have to wait to see if he’d parcel out the ones from his stash or worse: decide not to give them to her at all.

She could be in control, get some harness put on this sense of freefall, reign in this motherfucken carriage so to speak. She was in the perfect place to score. In fact, she was in better shape here than she would be plying her trade on the streets. It would be insane not to use the opportunity.

She turned to the wall of mirrors and adjusted the black vinyl bedspread so that it was knotted between her breasts, then realized that the white sports bra ruined the effect. Far easier to score if she looked the part, so she stripped herself of the bedspread and peeled out of the bra. She left the thong on, for all the coverage it offered, and retied the bedspread around her breasts again. The material snaked behind her like a train that could be considered quite chic if she played her cards right. And she intended to play them well.

Clenching the bills, she let herself out of the room and made sure to leave it unlocked so she could get back in. A sense of excitement began to build in her chest, making her breath come in short spasms, the feeling of anticipation, of knowing that soon she would have her hands on enough smears to take her through an entire week.

She walked down the hallway, head down, with purposeful steps. If a girl wanted to look like she belonged, she didn’t go gawking around as though she was a tourist. Halfway down the corridor, a man exited a room, pulling along a sloe-eyed teenage girl wearing a Cleopatra type costume. It was cleverly designed so that the manacles on her wrist were gold colored and painted to look like they were inlaid with lapis lazuli. Except for the fact that the girl had a decidedly vacant stare and rattled along behind her master of the moment, the costume could have been quite stunning. Theda was just beginning to think Sasha was some sort of genius when the man turned on his slave and backhanded her hard enough across the cheek that she stumbled backward and fell against the wall. She slid down it and crumpled into a pile.

Theda’s first instinct was to run; this was no business of hers, but as she tried to inch past, the girl whimpered pitifully. Theda made the mistake of making eye contact.

“Please,” the girl said, but Theda wasn’t sure who she was pleading with.

The man loomed over the girl and grabbed her by the hair, pulling her to her feet. “You forget yourself, Salima,” he growled and twisted the girl close to him, glaring down at her face as he pulled her head back. “A queen doesn’t beg,” he said. “Must I return you to the boutique?”

Theda tried to ease her way past, but the girl had begun to sob uncontrollably even despite the orders to shut up, the vicious shaking the man had begun to deliver. Theda didn’t know what the boutique was, but the word had stolen the last of the girl’s buzz and sent her into a fit of wailing that only infuriated her master more. It must be one powerful mother of a word.

“Excuse me?” Theda said and wished even as the words came from her mouth that she could bite her tongue. This was no way to get her fix. No way at all.

The man whirled on her, pulling the girl along in a renewed whimpering mess. He had pock marks on his nose large enough that the dirt within made them look like moles. Theda tried her best to disguise the shudder that moved up her spine. He looked like he would speak except for the rage that had captured his tongue.

Theda locked eyes with Salima’s. They were black and wide and even in the light of the hallway, she couldn’t tell where the girl’s pupils ended and irises began. Cleopatra was a perfect persona for the girl. Theda bent over delicately, in a purposefully subtle bow toward the pile of dung that still gripped the girl by her hair.

“You purchased her from the boutique?”

She couldn’t see him from her subjugated position, but she could tell by the tightness of his voice that his entire face had become a pinched up pile of muscle. “That’s none of your business, bitch. Now move on.”

She showed him her fist of money. “Is this enough to get me into the boutique?”

There was a pause and she dared peer up at the piece of shit. He’d relaxed his hold on the girl’s hair just enough that the skin around her eyes returned to normal. “A girl like you doesn’t need money to get in,” he said, staring at her without blinking.

“How fortunate,” she said, hoping that the small respite had made him forget his anger at the girl. It wasn’t much, but it was all Theda had to offer. Salima had already stopped whimpering and was making barely audible little choking sounds that indicated she was gathering her wits back together. Theda offered her a brief look of apology and then turned to make her way down the rest of the hallway. She got nearly a dozen paces before the man called out to her.

“Hey spitter,” he said and waited for her to turn around.

When she didn’t, he chuckled loudly enough that Theda could make out the undercurrent of cruelty within it.

“Tell them I sent you,” he called after her. “Maybe they’ll turn you into an Anne Boleyn.” At this he laughed straight out and Theda could hear the chain rattling again, Salima’s sobs renewing.

That was about as much salvation as Theda had in her. She fled the rest of the hallway, her bare feet catching in the material of the bed spread as she stumbled into the yawning expanse of the common room. She took a few moments to catch her breath, and realized her cheeks were wet.

If she ever needed a God spit fix, it was now.

She sent harried looks about the room, trying not to take in any actual activities, trying only to assess the faces and postures of those within. Surely one of them had a smear for sale. Surely one of them could tell her where she could score a fist full of cash worth.

It was like trying to find the least of all evils, trying to lay her eyes on an obvious dealer. The haze of the room barely disguised the glazed looks of the spitters who were obviously just out of the peak of the bliss, coming down, in some cases landing hard. It was when they were the most vulnerable, Theda knew. It was the time when they would do anything for the promise of another fix. It was the time they felt the most shame and the most need in equal measures. Exactly how she felt right then.

Either no one in the room cared what was happening around them, or they had long become desensitized to it. For Theda, it was like a Virgin peek at hard-core pornography; it was a forensic look at a newborn.

The smell of pot permeated the room but couldn’t disguise the stink of sex and blood. It confused itself with that of sweat until, stumbling through the crowds of patrons and spitters alike, Theda couldn’t tell whether the haze came from the smoke or from the stink. It was tough to avert her gaze from the faces of the spitters as they performed whatever act they were bid; there was a desperation behind their eyes that Theda knew so well that her mouth watered.

Her gaze settled on a couple on the far side of the room. He looked to be thirty something and his companion, obviously a spitter, knelt in front of him as he stroked his member with such fierceness and determination that she couldn’t pull her eyes away until a female voice came from beside, breaking the spell.

“Why do you suppose it’s always in the eye?”

Theda turned. “What’s that?” she asked, tearing her gaze away and onto the lithe redhead beside her. A sense of elegant poise quivered in every line of the woman’s body.

“The eye. Why do you suppose they like to shoot into the eye?” The woman inclined her head toward the couple and Theda followed her gaze. Indeed, the girl on her knees was wiping semen from her left eyebrow and off her eyelashes.

Theda couldn’t help chuckling softly. “And always the left one,” she said to the redhead. Now that she really looked at her, Theda could see that despite the sense of elegance, the woman’s makeup was heavy and artificial. Almost too perfect.

“You look familiar,” the redhead said.

“Of course I do,” Theda said, floundering for an explanation, any explanation even as she tried to deflect the woman’s attention from her face by showing her the fist full of money. “I’m Anne Boleyn.”

The woman wrapped her fingers under Theda’s, closing her fist over the money. “The last Anne Boleyn lost her head over less godspit than that will buy,” she said. “You don’t look that stupid.”

Theda swallowed, trying to rid her mouth of the waterfall leaking from her cheeks. She was close. So close. She could taste it, feel the tingle on her tongue. She had to get this done before Ezekiel came back, if he came back.

“I’m not that stupid. I know how much I can get. What I want to know is if you can get it for me?”

The woman smiled thinly, deepening the lines beside her mouth. “What if I told you the money wasn’t enough?”

“I’d tell you I’ll get it from outside and save myself a few hundred dollars.”

The redhead chewed the inside of her cheek, revealing just how much of her lips were drawn on in cherry red pencil. “We both know you’re not going to do that,” she said.

She’d been made. Maybe Sasha had even known when she came in with Ezekiel exactly who she was, maybe he’d seen her face on the promo. Maybe everyone in the room knew. Maybe the man in the hallway, the teenaged Cleopatra. She had to think fast.

“What you want?”

The redhead stuck her tongue in the corner of her mouth reflectively. “It just so happens I do have an opening for an Anne Boleyn.”

Realization dawned. “You own the boutique.”

The woman didn’t so much as nod. “A few hours. That’s all it takes.”

Theda looked down at the bills in her fist. “I can pay. All of this for just one smear.”

The redhead shook her head. “Where do you think you are? This isn’t some seedy street corner in the East End.”

“On a street corner I’d be able to afford a dozen smears.” Maybe that’s what she would do; slip out onto the street. Find a dealer. Load up. It was still dark out, perhaps even enough that no one would notice her, recognize her.

“A dozen smears for a spitter like you might last six days tops.” The redhead tossed her hair back over her shoulder. “You don’t have to answer; I know I’m right. What would you do if I told you that the Anne Boleyn play pays a smear for every day of the rest of your life?”

Theda tried to tell herself that the tingle in the base of her neck, that stretched down to the bottom of her spine, was anticipation. She tried not to think about Ezekiel coming back and finding the room empty. “How long did you say?”

“A few hours.” The redhead crossed her arms over her chest, cocking her head to the side. “It’s a pretty good deal if I do say so myself.”

Theda thought about the teenaged Cleopatra and understood finally. A few hours with a disgusting man, playing out his distorted fantasies, and ending up with enough smears to last your lifetime. If a girl played it right, if she ate well, stayed half healthy, she might be able to extend that life into years and years of pleasurable bliss.

It was more than the ruin of this new world could offer anyone.

She wanted to tell the boutique owner that she agreed, that it was a fair deal, but all she could do was nod her head in silence because her throat had thickened itself closed, choking off everything but the anticipation.

 to be continued next week….

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Character Driven Fiction to the Left of Mainstream

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