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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Thea Atkinson is a writer of character driven fiction.

Posted in Theta Waves Thursdays

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