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Its Always Time Book Three

Page history last edited by PBworks 13 years, 12 months ago

Chapter Six: The Dark Side's Light

 

"Dee? Dee! Is that you? What are you doing here?"

 

Dee glanced up at the tall, lean blond man threading his way through the crowd. "Hello, Yves."

 

"Hey," Yves greeted, kicking away a stool and reclining backward against the bar, elbows propped up on the mahogany countertop. "How are you? You look—"

 

"Drunk?" Dee brushed a few strands straying from Yves' low, long ponytail away from his whiskey glass.

 

"Well, yeah, a little. But I was going to say 'great.'" Yves waved at someone across the room. "No one's seen you for days," he told Dee. "We were all sorry to hear about your grandmother."

 

"She'll get over it."

 

Yves blinked. "Uh, okay. So, Dee, why are you here?"

 

Dee nursed his drink. "To get drunk and to get away from my girlfriend."

 

"Well, you came to the right place, then," Yves said. A man in a business suit approached but Yves shooed him off with a shy, polite smile. "On both counts. I didn't think you were seeing anyone, Dee. It's been almost a year since your last breakup, hasn't it? Who is she?"

 

"Galatea. I made her last Sunday."

 

"Jesus, Dee, that's a crude thing to say," Yves said.

 

Dee squinted up at him. "What are you doing here, Yves? This place is full of swingers on Thursdays, and that's not your scene. You're more…what's that dumb phrase you use? 'Serial monogamist?'"

 

"Existential monogamist." Yves shrugged, whipcord muscles rolling against the tight, tan, sleeveless tee he wore beneath an unbuttoned white dress shirt. "Friday is single's night, and that's no fun. On weekends, this place is full of kids."

 

"If you weren't six-foot-four, Y, I'd think you were twelve," Dee grumbled.

 

"You're a mean drunk. I'm glad you don't drink often."

 

"I'm not a mean drunk. I'm a stupid drunk. I told Galatea I needed some time alone, some time to 'be me,' and here I am, in a bar, drinking bourbon." Dee rolled the tall whiskey snifter over his fingers. The jigger of amber alcohol crawled up the glass.

 

"You're drinking it like a pro."

 

"But I hate bars." Dee took a tentative sip of whisky. "And I hate bourbon," he groused.

 

"Then why are you here? Did you two have a fight?"

 

Dee contemplated his half-empty snifter. "Sort of."

 

Yves leaned in. "What about?"

 

"My girlfriend thinks I'm a god."

 

Yves shook his head, chuckling. "I thought that's what all guys like you wanted."

 

"Maybe." Dee made a sour face. "But this is different. If Galatea thinks you’re a god, she makes you a god."

 

"Okay, you are a stupid drunk." Yves leaned back, arms folded. "But that still doesn't explain why you're here."

 

"I told you already."

 

"No, Dee." Yves rapped a knuckle on the mahogany bar. "I mean why are you here, in a gay bar?"

 

Dee surveyed the clusters of men around the bar and high tables. "It's safe."

 

"I beg your pardon?"

 

"It doesn't work with men," Dee said. "Or maybe it does, but I can control it better, because I understand men." He emptied the snifter in a single toss. "But I don't understand women," he coughed.

 

Yves eyes rolled. "I can't believe it. A drunk and bitter Deiter Detwiler. I never thought I'd see the day. C'mon, let me drive you home."

 

Dee slid the snifter across the countertop. "You don't believe me."

 

"It's more like I haven't understood a single thing you've said. You're absolutely crapulous, as my mother likes to say."

 

Dee tapped the snifter with a fingernail. "How many women are in here, Yves?"

 

Yves took stock of the crowded barroom. "About three or four."

 

"Notice anything about them?" Dee asked, not taking his eyes off the snifter.

 

"All right, I'll indulge you." Yves twisted around, surveying. "Well, now that I've made a jackass of myself," he said, frowning, "they're staring at me."

 

"Guess again," Dee muttered, but Yves was already speaking. "Wait a minute." Yves frown deepened. "They're all staring at you. What's up with that? It's not like you’re the only cute guy in here. Or the only straight guy, for that matter."

 

"Watch them." Dee pushed himself away from the bar. "And then watch me."

 

Dee strolled across the room. Three pairs of eyes swiveled to watch his every move. The bartender licked her lip and dropped a shot glass. A woman in a booth in the corner scissored her legs, squirming in her seat. The girl by the payphone broke into a sweat, downed her beer, and retreated to the restroom.

 

"What the fuck?" Yves muttered.

 

Yves watched Dee bear down on a coed clad in a little black evening dress. She boggled, a deer in headlights, as Dee approached, ignoring the quizzical glares of the two men at her table. Dee stood opposite her, nonchalant, and said something. The coed clambered up onto the table, knocking over wine glasses and kneeling in a platter of tapas, her two friends jerking back in shock.

 

Yves jumped away from the bar. "What the fuck?"

 

The coed clawed her way up Dee's denim shirt and dragged him into a clinching lip-lock. Dee backpedaled, arms windmilling, but the coed just hummed and squeaked and clung to him as he fell over backward. The bolted-down table stood fast while the coed in the tapas platter slid forward before both she and Dee hit the floor. She lay astraddle over him for a few more seconds before finishing off the kiss with a delirious, happy squeal. "Oh, wow! Um. Hi!"

 

"What the fucking fuck?" cried Yves, the only other sound in the barroom.

 

The coed looked up, noticed that everyone gawking at her, blushed redder than a beet, leapt to her feet, and fled out the front door. Her two stunned friends moved to help Dee up but he said, "I'm fine, I'm fine. God, I'm sorry, I didn't think—Look, just go after her and make sure she's all right, okay? Go, go!"

 

Dee stood and made his way back to the bar. Yves looked everywhere but the other three women had vanished. Dee bellied up to the bar, daubing tapas off his pants with a napkin. The carousers slowly got back into the swing of things. "What the fuck did you say to her?" Yves hissed.

 

"I said, 'Hi'," Dee sighed. "Just 'Hi.' It's getting stronger. Or maybe the less I say, the more powerful it gets?" He laughed. "That would fit. It would also mean the only way to control it is to yak my head off."

 

"Control what?" Yves asked.

 

Dee's eyes narrowed at the whiskey snifter. "My voice," he said in a deep register carrying strange harmonics and rattling all the glasses on the countertop.

 

Yves heard a few muffled cries from the women's restroom. "Okay, Dee." Yves swung his legs over a stool, "you've got my attention now."

 

Dee signaled to the remaining bald and beaded bartender for a refill. "I had a rehearsed hissy fit," he told Yves. "Bitch-bitch-bitch, walk out the door. You know what I mean."

 

"Famously," Yves agreed darkly.

 

"Anyway," Dee said, "I just wanted to go out for a walk. I circled the complex a couple of times and then headed north on Route Four."

 

Yves nodded. "I've been your neighbor for three years and I've carpooled with you for two. I know your routine."

 

"I'm flattered." Bourbon swirled in Dee's snifter. "So I'm walking up the bicycle lane on the side of the road, but every once and a while a car will slow down and honk at me. A few even pull over. After about half an hour, well…" Dee pulled a wad of crumpled post-its, chewing gum wrappers, receipts, and notepapers from a pants pocket. "About twenty women had gotten out of their cars—on the throughway—just to give me their phone numbers."

 

Yves fanned the papers scrawled with names and numbers over the countertop, examining each one in turn. "Huh."

 

"I didn't realize anything weird was happening—I've had much, much weirder things happen to me today, weird like you wouldn't believe—that is, until…" Dee sighed, and dropped two twisty sickles of dull steel onto the countertop.

 

"What are those," Yves said, "bent can openers?"

 

"Look closer," Dee said, warming the snifter between his palms. "They're handcuffs. They were handcuffs."

 

Yves scrutinized the ruined cuffs. The chain between them had snapped, the hinges of the manacles torn and useless. "I don't get it."

 

"A couple of cops, female state troopers, pulled over," Dee explained. "They said they were looking for a suspect that had fled the scene of a domestic disturbance and I matched his description. I was in such a funk I just followed directions, lying down on my stomach with my hands against my back, until they locked those handcuffs around my wrists, rolled me over, ripped off the tops their uniforms, and announced I was under arrest for 'public fuckability.'"

 

"I don't believe it."

 

"Neither did I, until they yanked my pants down around my ankles. Now that I think about it, they were acting lot like that girl who just jumped me. I was answering all their questions and following their instructions with either a quick 'Yes ma'am' or a 'No ma'am.' The less I talk, the stronger it gets."

 

"So what the Hell happened?"

 

Dee stared down the barrel of his glass. "One rode my face while the other attempted an ambush blowjob. Which itself is no big deal. I had about twenty of those yesterday. But I'm in love with Galatea, and the two cops were maniac, out of control. So I broke out of the cuffs, pulled the psycho off my face and plopped her down over the cop on my cock. That brought them around. They were mortified. One of them was married. They broke the patrol car's concealed camcorder and drove off. What are you looking at me like that for?"

 

"You are so full of shit."

 

"I said I'm in love with Galatea and I damn well meant it. She couldn't piss me off so damn much otherwise."

 

"No," Yves said, "I believe that you're in love. It's the rest of your story that's pure bullshit. I'm driving you home."

 

Dee eyeballed him. "You're a black belt in judo or something, right? Nidan or whatever?"

 

"I'm an assistant instructor aikidoka," Yves said, skipping the usual lecture.

 

"What do you think of this, Y-sensei?" said Dee, reaching down with one hand and raising the snifter to his lips with the other. A second later Yves found himself perched on a stool on top of the bar, his head bumping against the ceiling. "Should I be able to do that?" Dee lowered his glass.

 

"Um. No."

 

Dee launched back into his narrative unfazed. "So being gang-raped by a couple of girls in uniform kind of bummed me out, and I decided to get drunk. At the first bar I tried, a jealous boyfriend punched me in the face and broke three of his fingers. Next, I tried Phase Five, thinking I'd run into Ursula's crowd there, but it must have been bi-curious night or something, and I barely made it out alive.”

 

"Last call," the bartender announced. "No table dancing, fella," he added to Yves.

 

"I've got to take my friends home." Yves leapt off the countertop, open shirt flapping like a cape, and caught the stool just as it started to fall. "And you're in no shape to drive either, so give me your keys and come with me. And this time you're going to start the story from the beginning."

 

Dee handed him the keys to his Volkswagen. "It's a long story," Dee cautioned.

 

"I don't care. Tell me everything, from the fucking beginning, got that?"

 

"I got it, Yves," Dee downed the last of the bourbon and pulled the last of his cash from his wallet. "And it does begin with fucking, ironically enough."

 

"I don't care," Yves repeated.

 

"So it all started," Dee began, "when I decided to masturbate with a Jell-O mold to see what it would be like to fuck a goo girl so I could write some porn about it on the Internet."

 

"You can skip that part," Yves said.

 


 

Yves' Jeep sped down Rural Route Four. Dee stared out into the false dawn of Zodiacal light ghosting the horizon as he finished his story. "Bee wanted the nanomek so much he tried to kill me, and I wanted to be rid of it so badly—I could not stand to look at it a second longer—that I, well, I gave it to him. He ran off. I haven't seen Bee since. I hope he hasn't done anything stupid."

 

Yves grimaced, shoulders sagging, but he watched the road and said nothing.

 

"Then I drove Galatea home." Dee sighed. "And that's it. Now you know the whole story."

 

The Jeep's canvas top rustled for a minute before Yves spoke. "So, to sum up: You're in love with Galatea. Galatea is a meliae, a honey nymph of ancient myth."

 

"Yup."

 

Yves gave Dee a sidelong glance. "Made out of Jell-O," he added.

 

"The ancient myth isn't about Jell-O, obviously," Dee said. "The first honey nymphs were probably created from real honey or sweet tree sap. Something all-natural. Tomoe said I could look it up on the Internet."

 

The Jeep drew near a faded billboard advertising "The Channel Apartment Home Community: Efficient Luxury for Executive Living." I've driven by that damn sign twice every work day for four years, Dee thought. I still have no idea what that slogan means.

 

"But Galatea's made out of Jell-O," Yves repeated.

 

"She's more nanomek than Jell-O," Dee said, "although she keeps asking for collagen. That's the protein in gelatin. It would give her nanomek more raw material, or make her stronger, something like that. I don't really understand that part."

 

Yves shrugged. "Okay. But the myth of the meliae is just a cover-up for guys who are into goo girls, an Internet fetish that's been a secret part of human history for thousands of years, even during the age of Atlantis, which really existed until it was destroyed..." Yves glanced sidelong again. "…destroyed by said goo girls."

 

"Slow down," Dee cautioned. "There's always a cop with a radar gun right there. Always."

 

Yves coaxed a few more miles-per-hour out of the Jeep's taxed engine. "Probably not tonight."

 

"Why not?"

 

"'Public fuckability,'" Yves reminded.

 

"Yeah, yeah." Dee crossed his arms. "Anyway, yes, Atlantis really existed until it sank under a goo girl rampage. Unless Tomoe was lying, but I bet she has a rule against that."

 

Yves hit the brake and pulled the Jeep onto the off ramp. "Oh, right, Tomoe Exposition. I forgot that part: the myth is a cover-up for the fetish, but the fetish itself is just a scheme of this medical supply company to make a quick five bucks."

 

The Jeep lurched to a halt in front of a closed iron gate. A welded, green placard declared "Welcome to The Channel Apartments" in flaking gold letters.

 

"You could say that, yeah," Dee said as Yves unrolled the driver side window and waved a keycard at an electric reader. The reader's red LED eye winked and the gate rolled open.

 

"And Galatea's a lime meliae," Yves said, timing the Jeep's entrance through the yawning gate so closely Dee thought he might shear off a side view mirror. "The most powerful, dangerous, and horniest honey nymph of them all."

 

Yves drove by the deluxe apartment homes of Channel One and Two. "Every man that's ever made one becomes so overwhelmed by her insatiable, sexual appetite that he succumbs to sublimation, which in this case means he's consumed and slowly destroyed by perpetual orgasm."

 

Channel Three, a complex of family suites, swooped in and out of sight as the Jeep bounced by.

 

"Every man, that is," Yves said, leveling a finger at Dee, "until Deiter Detwiler, who, despite his nice-guy exterior, is such a freaky sex machine that the he overwhelms her."

 

The Jeep rocked as Yves goaded it over a speed bump. "Uh," Dee said, "I'm not sure I'd put it that way—"

 

"I'm not finished." Yves pulled off a hairpin turn into a row of covered parking. "So this super-freak Dee and this super-nympho Galatea spend four days in a nonstop fuck-a-thon, each trying to one-up the other in a triple-X battle of the sexes to prove, once and for all, who's the most perverted: men or women."

 

Dee threw his hands in the air. "What the Hell—"

 

"Shut up. But while Galatea tries to drown Dee in sex and Dee tries to get Galatea so turned on she'll burn up and dissolve, they wind up learning a lot about each other and..." Yves paused for the most theatrical, sarcastic eye rolling Dee had ever seen. "...fall in love instead." The Jeep lurched into a narrow parking space. "In fact, Galatea loves Dee so much that she uses meliae magic or 'nanomek' or whatever to give Dee preternatural strength and endurance, which saves his life when Bee, that creep who lives on the first floor, tries to kill him."

 

Dee's shoulders sagged. "Um."

 

"It took days," Yves said, hauling up the emergency break, "days for Dee, as clueless as he is impervious, to finally realize she had given him these incredible gifts. For some stupid reason, this makes him bitchy. He treats her to one of his infamous, rehearsed hissy fits. He walks out on her, leaving her alone for hours, leaving her wondering if he's ever going to return, or whether he's going to dump her when he does return."

 

"…Wow," Dee eventually said, "I really fucked up, didn't I?"

 

"Yes, Dee. You really did. If your story were true and not some delusional break from reality, that is. Good God, Dee, what you just told me makes my teenage wet dreams sound like Ibsen plays in comparison."

 

Dee sank in his seat. "You don't believe me?"

 

Yves glared at him but then shook his head. "I don't know yet, but I'm going to decide soon enough."

 

"What do you mean?"

 

Yves unbuckled his seat belt and leaned across Dee to pull on the passenger side door handle. "Dee," he said, pushing the door open, "do me the honor of introducing me to your beloved."

 

"I don't know," Dee said, unbuckling, "You'd be the first human being she'd ever meet." Dee blinked. "Other than me, I mean."

 

"I think you just made my point for me."

 

"You're right. Let's go." Dee hopped out of the car. "Whoa, I'm pretty woozy."

 

Yves joined him on the parking lot pavement. "You drank half a bottle of bourbon on an empty stomach. I'm surprised you're still vertical."

 

Dee marched off down the footpath. "I need to apologize to Galatea for being a total jackass. Then I'll pass out. Come on, if you're coming."

 

"I'm coming," Yves said. His reserved parking space was closer to the side entrance of their apartment building than the front. "We should go by the front door and ask security if they've seen Bee. Hell, we should call the police."

 

"You'll want to see if Galatea is real first," Dee suggested, "and if she isn't you'll want to call the police about me, not Bee. That's what you're really thinking, don't deny it. I may be drunk but I've known you for years."

 

Yves frowned, following. The sienna colored aluminum siding of Channel Four's three stories looked garish in the sour sodium floodlights. Dee tapped his keycard against the door's sensor and gave the security camera a curt nod. The metal door clicked open. Yves flashed his keycard past the reader before following Dee up the cement staircase. At the entryway to the second floor Dee stopped and turned. "Do you smell that?"

 

Yves inhaled. "Smells like a spa. It's nice. Is Ursula making perfume again? Why are you breathing funny?"

 

"That's Galatea's…scent," Dee said, flushing. "I didn't realize you could smell it all the way down the hallway."

 

"For a possible figment of your imagination, she smells great. She should bottle it and make a fortune."

 

Dee shook his head. "It's not her perfume. It's her, you know, scent. Up close it's pretty raunchy."

 

"Oh. Wow. Or, 'Ew.' I'm not sure which. Doesn't matter. Get going." Yves watched Dee mince down the hallway. "You're walking pretty stiff there, big guy," he smirked.

 

"Shut up," Dee said. The back of his neck prickled and he turned around. "Yves, what is it? You're in a ready stance."

 

Yves stood, shoulders squared, forward leg and elbows bent at relaxed angles. "Your front door is open."

 

Dee squinted down the hallway. The door to his apartment canted a hairbreadth ajar. "Good eye," he whistled. "I think I broke the door jam when I left. It's no big deal."

 

Yves did not budge. "Something is wrong."

 

Dee stepped back. "Yves, you're sober, you're a kung fu—"

 

"Budo," Yves muttered.

 

"—bad ass, and more importantly, you're you. If you think something's wrong, I believe you. But what should we do?"

 

"Just be ready for Bee to do something stupid."

 

Dee tensed, spinning. "If he's touched her I'll kill—"

 

Yves crossed the distance between them in one bounding stride and clapped a hand on Dee's shoulder. "No macho bullshit," he said. "From what you've told me, Galatea is perfectly capable of taking care of herself. If anything's wrong, your hero routine will just make it worse."

 

"You're right, as usual. Lead on MacDuff."

 

"No." Yves stepped aside. "I take point, you go see who's home. I'll be right behind you."

 

They moved down the hallway. "Wow, that smell is strong," Yves said. They passed a familiar door. "Ursula's home."

 

"How can you tell?"

 

"She's burning incense. Patchouli," Yves smiled. "And Galatea's scent is winning. Amazing."

 

"God, I'm so embarrassed."

 

"Don't be," Yves said, listening to the sounds of digitized combat and incidental music thumping through the next door. "Viggo doesn't seem to care."

 

"Should I knock?" Dee asked when he reached his apartment.

 

"On your own door?" Yves inspected the crack in the doorframe. "No. Announce yourself, though, and then announce me after you step inside."

 

Dee sighed, combed his fingers through his hair, and opened the door. The full force of Galatea's citrus-and-sex scent washed over him. Yves gasped but Dee did not notice. My God, he thought, I missed this. I missed her. How could I have been so stupid? "Galatea? It's me."

 

The silence stretched long enough for Yves to glance sidelong at Dee one last time before Galatea's voice called back. "Dee? Is that Dee?"

 

"It's me," Dee said, stepping into the apartment hallway. Say something. "I'm back." Oh, bravo, genius.

 

"When you were not here," came Galatea's voice, "it made me so sad." He heard the bedroom door close.

 

"I'm sorry," Dee said, "I'm a complete idiot. I want to apologize to you properly, but a friend of mine drove me home. I'd like to invite him in, if that's all right."

 

"Of course, Master."

 

"Very funny," Dee said. "Okay, we're coming in."

 


 

A girl the color of lime finger paint paced the living room, fidgeting and wringing her hands. She appeared rough hewn, a living but unfinished statue in Galatea's likeness, the features of her face worn down from stark relief to soft impression by the passage of time. As bodacious as ever, her body lacked the level of detail Dee knew she preferred. He could not tell if she had chosen to confront him naked but with the anatomical vagueness of a Barbie-doll or decided to meet him clothed in a clingy but concealing spandex jumpsuit. One look at Dee and she froze, blushing black, eyes sliding shut, lazy smile curling. "You're here. I waited so long. I thought you would never come, or come too late."

 

"Galatea?" Dee said. "Are you okay?"

 

She hugged herself tight, squeezing her shoulders and squashing her amble breasts until gel flesh overflowed and engulfed her crossed forearms. "But I should have known," she said. "Dee would come. My Dee would come to me." She peeped at him with eyes of frosted green pearl. "And he did." Yves stepped into the living room, gawking at her. The green girl smirked at him. "And he brought snacks," she added.

 

Yves laughed. "My name's Yves, Galatea." He strode forward, arm extended. "I'm flattered, but I'm not on the menu."

 

Something is wrong. "Yves—" Dee started, but the green girl's smile was warm as she shook Yves hand, and Dee relaxed a little.

 

"I hope you're not offended if I still find you delicious," the green girl said.

 

"Not at all."

 

The green girl gestured at the sofa. "Please do sit down. I would offer you something to drink but the only thing Dee keeps to eat or drink nowadays is, well, me." She arched an eyebrow at Dee. "Not that I'm complaining," she said, wintry eyes shining. "Are you hungry, Dee? No? Well I'm famished."

 

"Is that why you're opaque?" Dee said. "And so, uh, shapeless?"

 

Yves rolled his eyes and reclined on the couch. "Real classy, I'm sorry, Galatea, but Dee's hammered, and evidently he is a stupid drunk after all. She looks awfully shapely to me, Dee."

 

"That's not what I meant," Dee said. "I meant formless. Abstract? Damn it, my mouth is talking faster than my brain can think." He turned to the green girl. "I'm sorry, honey. I'm worried about you. I left you alone for a long time, for no good reason at all, and I want to make sure you're okay but I keep screwing up. You're beautiful. You just look different, that's all."

 

"I will be perfect again." She stood on the tips of her toes to whisper in his ear, "Now that you're here." She kissed the curve of his neck, her lips as firm and smooth and cool as marble, before stepping back to take him by the hand. "It's my novilunium."

 

"Your nova-what?" Dee asked.

 

"I've heard Ursula use that word a few times," Yves said. "What does it mean?"

 

"My changeability," the green girl said, her eyes never leaving Dee's. "My nanomek. You've been gone so long and I need…" She pulled Dee's hand, backing away toward the bedroom hallway. "I need more."

 

"Well," Yves coughed. "I drove your boyfriend home and I've met you, so my work here is done. I think this fifth wheel is going home. It's just upstairs, after all." He stood, ripping off a sarcastic salute. "Dee, it's been surreal."

 

The green girl craned her neck to look over and up at him. "No, stay," she said, her eyes urgent. "There's always room for dessert."

 

Yves shot Dee a fractional what-the-fuck? frown. Dee returned with a I-dunno microscopic eyebrow raising. Yves volleyed back a are-you-going-to-be-okay? slight narrowing of the eyes. Dee replied with an I'm-clueless half smile. Yves pouted what-now-then? and Dee flicked a just-go-along-until-you-think-of-something glance at the green girl. Their silent conversation, the kind that was possible only between close friends who were also longtime coworkers, took about two seconds.

 

"Okay," Yves said, over enunciating, "I guess I can hang out for a little while. Dee's movie collection is better than mine, after all." He sat back down, picking up the universal remote. The green girl led Dee by the hand and disappeared down the corridor to the bedroom. Yves tossed the remote aside, rubbing his fingers together and clucking with disapproval. "Sticky."

 

Dee moved to open the bedroom door but the grinning green girl pulled him into the bathroom. "This way, Master."

 

 

"What's going on, Galatea?" Dee asked her as she closed the bathroom door.

 

"Dee," she sighed loudly over the clicking of the lock in the doorknob. "When you said you wanted to make sure I was okay, did you mean it?" She whirled around, frosted eyes glowing. "Did you really mean it?" she said, oozy flesh spreading across the door.

 

"Of course, but—"

 

She surged into him, arms latching around his chest, her heavy breasts slapping against him with an audible glomp! noise, her gelled cleavage rushing up his neck and snuggling his chin. "Then take me." She pitched Dee backward and down onto the lidded toilet seat. "Take me and make me perfect." She kissed him with a fearsome hunger, cool lips parting to draw his tongue into her oven-hot mouth.

 

He met her peculiar, reverse French kiss with a boozy, forward one. She moaned, nibbling and suckling. Her strong, sticky fingers twined behind his neck and egged his kiss onward. He tried to pull away for a quick breath, but she murmured, "Nn-mm," and tugged him back, chewing on his tongue, her lips locking over his. Dee duel-kissed with her for a minute more, breath hissing through his nose, before pulling away again. She squealed "Mmm!" and rocked forward to follow him, grabbing him by the ears and clunking the back of his head into the wall. She sunk her full weight into his lap and refused to break the kiss. Dee chuckled and inhaled. The green girl's eyes popped open and she squeaked a puzzled "Hm?" as her sizzling, fluid tongue flooded into his mouth. Her lips still worked against his, but slowed. Dee arched an eyebrow at her. The green girl's gaze turned quizzical.

 

Dee bit down until his teeth clicked together.

 

The green girl's eyes rolled up into her head and she peeled away, swooning to the floor. "Master," she gurgled as Dee chewed thoughtfully. "Oh, Master." She writhed on the linoleum, rolling over to paw up his legs. "I'm in you now," she sighed, rising, "I'm in you."

 

Dee swallowed. "Why do you taste like a cupcake?"

 

The green girl's unwrought fingers fumbled with the zipper of Dee's khakis. "Now come into me," she said, giving up on the zipper and pulling the pants apart at the seams, "and I'll taste however you want." She yanked the khakis and underwear down around Dee's knees, the plastic of the toilet lid hard and cold against his ass. "Cum in me," the green girl said, "and we'll be perfect. Together. Forever."

 

Dee felt absurd sitting there, awaiting service like some enthroned king of fools. You've treated her like crap and now she's got you on the toilet. Take the hint, take your lumps, and do what she wants you to do for a change. "Is it time?" he asked, smiling.

 

"It's my time," the green girl growled, and devoured his cock.

 

Panic thrilled through Dee and he startled upward. The green girl sat up on her haunches, scooped up handfuls of his butt and aimed his hips at her mouth. Dee's jump away from the seat only drove his dick further down the velvety vortex of her throat. For a moment of woozy free fall the green girl held him suspended in the air, cradling his ass and slurping on his cock, treating his pelvis like a big, juicy wedge of watermelon—Strong. How could she be so strong?—before she slammed him back down onto the toilet hard enough to crack the ceramic. Her cold lips worried the base of his shaft, her fingers digging into the meat of his ass. She hauled him forward, pivoting her face against his lap—What is she doing—and Dee felt his rock hard dick plough up through the gel of her neck and stab, not down her throat, but upward until—Oh my God what the fuck—the green girl was literally giving him head. She groaned in delight, bobbing. The small bathroom filled with the bouquet of fresh cookies over-baked with too much chocolate.

 

"What's…going…on?" gasped Dee, sloppy pressure of a drunken orgasm building.

 

She gripped either side of the toilet lid and arched upward, hovering inches above him. Dee shuddered out of control as the green girl used his cock to furrow a gash down her neck and between her tits. She pumped him deep into her cleavage, her hands creeping up his back and locking onto his shoulders. "Yes," she hissed, dragging her self up to straddle him, his dick cutting a frothing wake down her belly before disappearing between her legs. With the slightest tilt of her hips she pushed him like a piston into her pussy. "Cum in me now," she said, rough-riding him. She pried open his mouth and filled it to bursting with sticky breast. "Eat me now." Gluey green gunk plugged his nose and Dee choked down a river of burning syrup tasting of chocolate cherry cordial candies. "Become me. Now!"

 

Dee shivered, muscle tension coiling before explosive release. The green girl's huge, smeary tits slapped and smacked against his smothered face. He caught a glimpse of the long wound his dick had sliced down her chest. He remembered—

 

["…Please, God, no. Let her be okay. Galatea, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry…"]

 

—and he had to look away, tearing his mouth from her fountaining flesh. A few flakes of homemade soap stuck to the white porcelain of the bathroom sink. The mostly empty vials of food coloring clustered around the sink's silvered tap, their colorful, pinched plastic caps of blue, yellow, green, red—Empty. It's empty. The green vial is empty.

 

Dee's gaze flashed back to the green girl's face. "Pygmalion," he coughed.

 

"Hm?" The green girl's hips rocked in violent jerks. "Eat me, Master," she said, offering him a breast.

 

No X. Sober up right fucking now, you fucking idiot. He reached for her shoulders. "Pygmalion," he said, loud and slow.

 

Her mouth puckered into the grin of a knowing coquette. "Eat me, 'Pygmalion.'"

 

Dee stood straight, pushing out, palms flat. The green girl splashed to the floor. "Where is Galatea?" Dee snarled.

 

The green girl sat up on all fours. "M-master?" she stammered in an astonished, breathy voice sounding nothing like Galatea.

 

The empty vial with the green lid shattered on the floor between her hands, slivers of plastic shrapnel peppering her face. "Where is Galatea?"

 

A translucent, ruby red blush spread over her as the solid green receded. "But I'm the one you really want, Master," Black Cherry said, her body streamlining, red batwings rising.

 

Dee's blood sang in his ears. "No. Never. You want a master? Go back to Bee or whatever creepy fuck was stupid enough to cook you up."

 

The scarlet girl backed away from him, the claws at the end of her wings working at the doorknob. "It should be you," she said, her eyes black and bottomless. The door opened behind her. "My master should be my first."

 

Dee raged. "Where. Is. Galatea?"

 

"It should have been you," Black Cherry said, whirling about, "but I have no time." Dee lunged for her but a wing claw lashed out and down, tripping Dee up with the tatters of his khakis. He fell forward, his reflexes dulled with bourbon. The scarlet girl vanished down the corridor.

 

"Oh, Yves," came Galatea's voice, "looks like dessert's being served early, and I have one Hell of a sweet tooth tonight."

 

 

You come out at night

That's when the energy comes

And the dark side's light

And the vampires roam.

 

—Sarah McLachlan, Building a Mystery

 


Chapter Seven: We End as We Began

 

Black Cherry pelted down the little hall. Her wings, cramped in the narrow corridor, trailed straight behind her, the train of a jilted bride fleeing her red wedding. Wing claws carved channels into the plaster walls as she ran. Wasting novilunium, she thought, losing control, losing cohesion. Minutes left, maybe less. She burst from mouth of the hall and into the living room. The couch sat unoccupied. Where is the plaything Master gave me?

 

"'Mugger Fleeing the Scene,'" Yves muttered, moving in from his ambush point against the wall behind her to execute the maneuver.


 

In the bathroom, Dee attempted to stand but the resistance from the ragged clothing around his knees took him by surprise and he collapsed, his chin dinging the linoleum floor. Fire can't burn me, iron can't break me, but get me drunk and tie my shoelaces together and I'm fucked. He rolled over and sat up, every movement uncertain. No, I got myself drunk. I gave Bee the nanomek. I left Galatea alone. He started clawing himself free of the khaki material one strip at a time. I ripped yet another pair of fucking pants.


 

Yves flanked Black Cherry on the left. So, Black Cherry thought as Yves closed the distance between them, plaything wants to play.

 

Yves clamped his right hand down around her left wrist. His right foot slid out in front of Black Cherry's left leg as Yves gave her wrist a sharp twist. Was that supposed to hurt? Best act like it, Black Cherry decided, hunching over. Anticipating resistance of her bodyweight, Yves shifted his balance and poured energy into an inward turn, bringing her arm forward and around, trying to use her own momentum to throw her to the floor.

 

My turn, plaything. Black Cherry let her arm stretch and Yves' expertly planned wrist-throw became a clumsy taffy-pull. Yves stiffened in surprise, spinning in an unbalanced arc to face the wall. Relishing the feel of Yves' hand locking rigid around her wrist, Black Cherry followed through, her arm snaking out until her palm pushed against the wall. "I'll play with you," she said aloud, her fingers curling backward and down to grip the hand stuck to her wrist, "but by my rules." Her hand pinwheeled around his and she reversed their roles just as quickly, pinning Yves' wrist against the wall and moving close behind him.

 

She let go just to see what he would do. His right arm twitched but did not budge from where she had pinned it. His left arm curled against his chest beneath his unbuttoned button-down. He's scared, she realized, watching Yves' fingernails scrape against plaster. Just like Bee. Just like Galatea and all the others. All except Master. She pressed her slinky, naked frame against Yves' frozen form. Even on tiptoe she could not reach his neck, so she settled her cheek in the small of his back, breathing deep. Plaything's fear smells sweet and precious, like a rare prize. Imagine how divine Master's fear must be. Imagine!

 

"You do not scare easily." Black Cherry snuggled in. "I can tell. I like that. Not like Bee. His fear was sour. Killing him just made it worse, and after eating him the aftertaste lasted hours. Blech," she spat, shuddering at the memory.


 

Dee heard something shatter and scatter in the living room, a jarring tuneful sound like the breaking of a pottery jug or a china plate. Sober up and think straight, damn it. He shook his head until the room stopped spinning. Your friends are in trouble. He rose and made for the door. A muddy, ruddy light gave Dee the strange, sickening impression that the short hallway was swollen and bloodshot. He steadied himself by grabbing the doorknob. He started to shout, "Yves—!" but was fuddled by sudden movement of something scarlet and leathery racing down the hallway. A red claw bit into the pressboard wood of the bathroom door and wrenched it shut. Dee jerked at the door, trying to keep it open, but pulled the doorknob and shaft out instead.


 

Yves pushed back, trying to spin around. He recovers quickly, Black Cherry thought. She clipped his right hand to the wall with a wing claw, knocking a Deep Space Nine commemorative plate off its hanger. It fragmented when it hit the floor. She craned her neck to peer down the hallway to the bathroom. As quick as Master.

 

"Yves—!"

 

Black Cherry sighed, sent her other wing hurtling down the hallway to drag the bathroom door shut as it sprang back. She turned to Yves and startled to see he held a short, wicked-edged knife in his left hand. Maybe quicker than Master. Black Cherry wrestled Yves' left arm into a painful pin behind his back. "Now where on Earth did this come from?" she asked, the claw from her returning wing plucking the knife away. She leaned hard against him to maintain the pin and slipped one hand between the wall and his chest. She found a nylon scabbard sewed below the left armpit of the tee shirt beneath his overshirt. "You must have been fishing for your little knife—"

 

"Tanto."

 

"—this whole time. Readying a strike, even through all that fear. Your little knife—your tanto—would be buried between my breasts now, wouldn't it?" She caressed a wing claw over Yves' cheek. "But you didn't know this little girl had claws."

 

A few drops of blood ran down Yves' cheek and beaded in the dimple of his chin. "I do now. I don't make the same mistake twice. Ever."

 

"Master didn’t bring me a plaything." Black Cherry reached up Yves' tee shirt and strummed her fingers across his washboard abdomen, purring. "He's given me a playmate. We'll have hours and hours of fun, you and I, but there's something I need first. I tried to get it from Master, but he's not ready for me. He will be, soon, but not yet, and I'm out of time. So, darling Yves," she said, undoing his belt and unzipping his fly, "it looks like you're on the menu after all. On the taster menu, at least."


 

Dee dropped the knob, hooked two fingers into the dark, round hole left in the door, and gave a tentative tug. The door stuck fast. Dee sighed. Two swings of his fist brought the door down in splinters and he stepped sideways into hall. A glob of red goop stained the ceiling lamp, casting everything in an unsettling florid light. A chest-high gouge in the plaster of both walls ran the length of the hallway. Whatever had cut them grooved the wood of his bedroom door and left it swinging loose on its hinges. He shuffled by, gave his bedroom a passing glance, and stopped dead. Blinking, he nudged the bedroom door open with outspread fingers.

 

When he last saw the room, it resembled a war zone, but now walking into his bedroom was like sticking his head inside a Jackson Pollock painting. Every surface was spattered with chaotic sprays and splashes of black ink and all imaginable shades of red. They fought here, Galatea and the scarlet girl… Dee lurched, taking it all in. The color dominating the frenzied mess was green. …and Galatea lost and the scarlet girl wiped the walls with her… Dee pivoted on his heels, his balance perfect, and stalked out, his fluid gate as steady and sure as a panther closing in on a kill.

 

…and I'm going to murder the bitch.

 

Dee found the scarlet girl standing close to the wall. Her head lolled backward, eyes shut and lips parted in a whimper of relief. Her wide batwings were drawn tight around her petite form in a parody of a cardinal's crimson cloak, locked in place by wing claws stabbing deep into the gelled flesh of her shoulders. "Much better," she sighed, eyes still closed. Her claws withdrew, burgundy nectar weeping from the ragged wounds they left behind. "I can feel the novilunium. I can feel its music, its blood music." Her wings relaxed and unwound, slowly exposing a second figure squeezed so tight and close to the scarlet girl Dee did not notice it before. "My compliments to the chef, Yves." The scarlet girl released her captive. "That was choice."

 

Yves staggered back from her, clothes haggard and wine-stained, his eyes incandescent with rage. "Fuck you," he replied, and punched her in the throat.

 

Her neck distended with the force of Yves' blow but her head remained perched above her shoulders. Her eyes opened, her wings swooped back in but hesitated, their long, needle sharp claws quivering inches from Yves' face. She met his unflinching glare for a second more before swiveling her gaze to Dee. "Master?" the scarlet girl said, her smile coy but sly. "I have time now."

 

"Dee?" Yves said, his eyes never leaving the two raptorial claws hovering close to his temples.

 

"Yes, Yves?"

 

Red nectar dripped down onto Yves face. "You're still standing?"

 

"Yes, Yves."

 

The scarlet girl chuckled, turning her head as each man spoke, like a spectator watching a tennis match.

 

"Well, then," Yves said, "Remember what I said about your stupid straight-guy hero routine?"

 

"Yes, Yves."

 

"I was an idiot." Yves fell back. The scarlet girl's claws clacked together in empty air as Yves flipped down and away in textbook, backward break-fall. "Kill the bitch," he panted, crawled a few feet closer to the front door before he collapsed, every muscle trembling and oiled in sweat.

 

"Way ahead of you, Yves," Dee muttered, moving between Yves and the scarlet girl.

 

The scarlet girl marveled at him, perfect breasts heaving. "You smell wonderful, Master; so angry." Batwings the color of blood and smoke luxuriated in the air of the living room. "I love it." Narrow rivulets of red nectar trickled from her sex to run down her inner thighs. "You won't regret coming back to me. I'm so much stronger for you now." She reached out to him, fingers flexing. "I'm ready."

 

["…I'm ready. I'm ready. I'm ready…"]

 

Dee advanced into the radius of her wingspan. "You're finished."

 

"Oh, Master," she gasped, agape with delight, before her eyes narrowed and her lips twisted into a thin, crooked grin. Her batwings snapped ready, their tiny twins above her ears fanning up and back until she looked like a helmeted Valkyrie from Hell. "Bring it."

 

Dee rushed her. The scarlet girl's wingtips meshed and merged behind him. Streams of gel pulsed out from her core to course through the membranes of her wings, ringing Dee in thick walls seeping with sanguine syrup, their bakery-oven smell overpowering. Dee crossed his forearms in front of his chest, palms forward, fingers hooked outward. The scarlet girl's crooked grin crept higher as Dee stormed closer and the gel walls surrounding them contracted inward like an iris. The drizzle of inner nectar dripping from her pussy surged, her legs lost in the torrent fueling the flood bearing down upon Dee. His crossed hands stabbed into her dissolving shoulders just as the collapsing gel crashed down on all sides, a torrid kiss over every inch of his skin and a siphon over his cock, its smothering pressure building without plateau and no hint it would ever stop. Dee spun his fingers deep into her flesh and uncrossed his arms, drawing them downward and out behind him.

 

Dee tore the scarlet girl apart, opening a v-necked gully in the crushing red sea, and bulldozed through. He emerged clean as a whistle, not a single drop of cherry jam sticking to him. He skidded to a halt before bonking against the living room window and twirled about-face.

 

The scarlet girl funneled to the floor in a confusion of tangled limbs and funhouse-mirror distorted shapes. "Master," she sobbed when the two halves of her face finally zippered together the right way around, "it hurts. You hurt me." She curled into a fetal ball, wracked with spasm. "You hurt me so much."

 

Dee charged. The scarlet girl rolled onto her knees. Her wings plunged forward, their claws digging into Dee's underarms and hoisting him into the air. She leapt to her feet, her wings accelerating until Dee's back smashed into the ceiling. "Do it again!" she crowed through the rain of plaster, honey bleeding from both pairs of lips.

 

The scarlet girl twittered and flexed her claws, testing their grip in Dee's armpits and tickling him without mercy. Dee bared his teeth in a gritty, mirthless leer, wrapping his arms in the rubbery folds of her wings. Her murmurs melted into a lush, eager purr as she pulled her wings taut, stretching Dee's arms out wide until she had him crucified on the ceiling. "I want to do every sick, perverted, and twisted thing with my master."

 

Dee shrugged hard, his left shoulder rolling forward. A clockwise curlicue corkscrewed down the scarlet girl's right wing. A heartbeat later Dee shrugged again, rolling his right shoulder backward. A counterclockwise torque galloped down the left wing. The scarlet girl's cry of shock caught in her throat when the two opposing torsions met in her core and blew her to bits. She burst with a hollow, plosive pooch! noise, pelting Dee with stinging spray of black-and-crimson gunk as he plummeted to the floor like an Acme anvil. He tucked his legs in at the last second and punched feet-first through the coffee table. The table caved in, its faux mahogany pressboard top fractured and folded up at crazy angles. Dee stood in the wreckage, knees bent and arms akimbo, an earthbound Peter Pan.

 

Yves flopped onto his back. "Who won?" he asked, swabbing glop of his face with his stained outer shirt. "If this red stuff is your innards, Dee, I'll probably puke."

 

Grainy gobs rained down off the ceiling, slid down the walls, and dripped off the furniture. "It's hers," Dee said.

 

Yves wretched. "Then I'm certain to puke." He peeled off the sloppy shirt and shoved it aside, sitting up. "Who was that bitch? Why did she smell like, like Betty God-damned Crocker? I used to love the smell of cake batter, you know." His strength gave out and he plopped back down, groaning but sparing no energy for dignity. "Now I'm going to have nightmares about it."

 

The gobs settled in larger lumps on the floor. "Are you all right?" Dee said. "Did she really do what I think—"

 

"Don't believe what they say on the Internet," Yves interrupted, his voice flat. "Getting your prostate milked sucks."

 

"But she raped—"

 

"Enough, Dee. I know what happened, thank you very much." He tried to zipper his fly but the slider got caught on the first few bottom teeth. "That wasn't Galatea, I presume, but something that our boy Bee made. She told me she killed him because she didn't like the way he smelled, by the way."

 

"But if she's Bee's honey nymph," Dee said, "that doesn't make any sense." A beat later, he added, "Actually, it makes perfect sense."

 

Yves's glance was alarmed. "You keep referring to her in the present tense. It's not over?"

 

"Not if she can still move," Dee said. The slush-covered overshirt started to inch forward. "She's heard everything we've said. Yves, get the fuck out of here."

 

Yves watched his shirt wriggle past him. "She's not interested in me now that she's got you to play with."

 

"We're not playing."

 

"Then what—"

 

"Quiet," Dee snapped. A cherry chocolate mound gathered at his feet.

 

"Yes, Ooze-Sensei," Yves whispered.

 

Fed by dribbles and spurts of red and black goo, the mound ripened into a bloated beach ball. "Well?" Dee said, shifting his weight, "had enough?"

 

The scarlet girl's wings whipped back and she rocketed forward, snagging Dee by the throat with one hand as she ran past him in an almost casual gesture. His feet dangled a few inches off the floor for a moment of hurtling, horizontal flight before she rammed him into the far wall. Struts buckled and plaster powdered behind him, but the load-bearing structure of the apartment building's outer wall absorbed most of the blow. "I want," the scarlet girl panted, "to do every…sick, perverted, and…twisted thing with my master! And that," she wailed, "that was just one!"

 

Dee kicked out, his foot kinked at a curious angle, his movements slow but strong. The kick connected with gel flesh and amputated the scarlet girl's right leg at the thigh. Her wings smacked down onto the floor behind her, keeping her upright as she reeled. She recovered quickly, gobs of severed leg still pattering around the room as the grip around Dee's neck cinched shut and she threw a left hook at his jaw. Dee let his knees buckle and the scarlet girl punched a fist-size hole in the wall an inch above his head. He barreled forward, shoulder slamming into the scarlet girl's midriff, his hands pushing a strange pattern through her jellied substance. The force of the blow threw her backward in a disintegrating arc through the air until she fell among the ruins of the coffee table.

 

Her hand held fast to his neck, her arm stretching noodle thin until it snapped. The hand dissolved, its warm sanguine fluid running down Dee's chest. Lost cohesion when separated from the whole, Dee decided. She can't divide like Galatea could, or maybe just not as well.

 

The melted gel rolled away in glistening beads of blood. The scarlet girl flailed in a mad tantrum, screeching, "You pushed me away! Never push me away!"

 

"Always," Dee said in a dead monotone and marched forward. "And you'll never get to have me."

 

The scarlet girl flew at him, a banshee blur of wings, claws, and rings of teeth. Dee cried out in wordless pain in the center of a red cyclone that tore away every last shred of his clothing. The scarlet girl coalesced and clung to him, wings wrapped around his ass and between his legs, hands raking over his back. "I have a master," she hissed, hips humping furiously against his dick. "I'll always have a master."

 

Dee bobbed and weaved, broke free, and threw her melting form to the floor. "You have nothing," he spat, stumbling through trails of black and burgundy slime.

 

"I'm nothing," she whispered, a shaky wing claw reaching down to shiver against her clitoris. "I'm nothing." Her other wing claw dove into her sex.

 

"Jesus," Dee said. He stumped over to Yves. "Let's get you out of here, Yves."

 

Yves lay still on the floor, his neck crooked up and glassy eyes narrowed. "I've never seen anyone move like that."

 

Dee grimaced at the scarlet girl writhing in the living room. "That's because she's made of Jell—"

 

"Not her," Yves said, "you. And just what the Hell are you doing?"

 

"What you told me to do," Dee said. "I'm killing the bitch."

 

Yves craned his neck higher. The scarlet girl's face had grown gooey, her features unfocused and dripping with dew. Red rills coursed between her breasts before her hands, fingers fused into flippers, would scoop and smear the runoff across every softening curve. One wing pulsed deep in her pussy. She arched up, sheets of candy-apple red icing flowing down her back in a rippling mane, and the other wing curled under her rump and penetrated her from behind. All the while she twittered and muttered, "I'm nothing, I'm nothing, I'm nothing."

 

Yves head bumped down hard against the floor. "Sure doesn't look like it."

 

"Every move costs nanomek," Dee said. "Every reassembly burns even more."

 

The apartment filled with slurping, syrupy sounds as the scarlet girl drove herself to messy orgasm. "Nothing! Master! Nothing! Always! Master!"

 

"And that costs her the most," Dee added wretchedly.

 

"Christ, Dee, why?"

 

"Don't you get it? I'm going to burn all her nanomek away." Dee helped Yves to his feet. "Or die trying. Probably both. That's why I have to get you out of here, Yves. She can't have another source of sperm. I've got to burn all the bitch's nanomek away. Every last one. That's the only way to truly kill a meliae."

 

"Yes!" the scarlet girl burbled. "Kill me, master! Hate me enough to kill me!"

 

Dee fixed her with an empty stare, and in that terrible, lifeless monotone, he said, "That's how she killed Galatea."

 

The scarlet girl's slow dissolve froze. "That sentimental green simpleton?" she said, her features hardening along with her voice. "If my master doesn't choose me over her, I may kill her after all."

 

Dee blanched. "Galatea's alive?"

 

"Fear," the scarlet girl gulped. "I can smell it from here."

 

Dee advanced, face bleached and eyes blank. Yves blundered about but managed to sag against the apartment's front door. The scarlet girl bolted upright, fists squeezed against her checks. "Oh, Master," she began, "your fear. It's more incredible than I ever imagined—" but her babbling squeal ascended into a piercing scream as Dee reached out and tore off both her wings at the shoulder.

 

Her wings liquefied, thundering to the floor in a crimson downpour. Dee stepped close to the scarlet girl shrieking in the middle of the red tide. "Tell me where she is," he said.

 

"You're so scared!" rejoiced the scarlet girl.

 

Dee ripped the little wings out of her head. "Tell me where she is."

 

The scarlet girl's trembling limbs locked rigid. "You'll never push me away again!"

 

Dee cradled her face in his hands. "Tell me where she is or die."

 

The scarlet girl twittered and drooped in a post-coital haze. "No," she said, abyssal eyes glowing.

 

Dee's arms twitched, and in that split second of indecision the scarlet girl slipped from his grip and laid Dee out flat with a lightning-quick uppercut. The red fluid on the floor roiled around and rushed up her back. New pairs of wings unfurled. "No," she yawned, "I don't think so. I was ready to die for you, Master, but now I think I've found a better way to ensure you'll never push me away again."

 

She swayed over him. "You pushed her away, remember? And she let you go. That's why she gave up and let me take her so easily. She knew you pushed her away to make room for me. I'll be better than she ever was, Master, because I never give up. And I never let go. And you're crying, Master."

 

"I'm sorry, Galatea," Dee whispered.

 

The scarlet girl shook her head. "You still don't understand. But you will." She sauntered over to the living room window and broke the pane with an effortless flip of a wing. "I've got to go now, Master."

 

"No, tell me—"

 

"See? You've accepted it a little already." The scarlet girl leaped onto the windowsill. "You can't push me away. But there's so much work to be done, now that I know what you need me to do. I'm going to make everything perfect for us, Master."

 

"No."

 

Red wings extended into the pre-dawn damp. "I live to serve and please my master," the scarlet girl said, "whether my master likes it or not."

 

"No!"

 

The scarlet girl's wing claws bit into the wall high above her and she clambered out of sight.

 

"Dee," said Yves, testing his balance, "get up."

 

Dee sprawled on the floor, head in his hands. "Galatea, I'm sorry. I'm sorry."

 

"Snap out of it and get up," Yves insisted, taking a few uncertain steps forward.

 

"But she's right: it's all my fault—"

 

"No, she's not." Yves leaned against the archway to the kitchenette. "You're coming down off a serious adrenaline rush and she took advantage of it to fuck with your head and escape. It's a dirty trick that I've used myself a few times."

 

"That explains the headache," Dee groaned.

 

"No, that's probably the bourbon. If I can stand, so can you. Now get your ass up!"

 

Dee stood, flinching at the pain pounding in his temples.

 

"Jesus, Dee," Yves said. "Have you been working out or something?"

 

"'Four day fuck-a-thon,' remember?" Dee shrugged in an outspread gesture that took in the entire room. "What the fuck do I do now, Yves?"

 

"We find some clothes—Oh, grow up," Yves sighed as Dee cupped his hands over his crotch and blushed. "Anyway, we find some clothes and some coffee, and then we find Galatea and burn that devil cookie freak."

 

"'We?'"

 

Yves hobbled into the kitchenette. "If you don't want to help me, I guess I'll understand."

 

Dee's smile was grim. "Of course I'll help, Y-Sensei." He listened to Yves fumble with the electric coffee maker but knew better than to interfere. "Coffee's in the cabinet above the microwave."

 

"Thanks," Yves said, his movements growing confident. "Have you really gone five days without sleep?"

 

"Only if being comatose doesn't count."

 

Steam percolated in the coffee maker. "I doubt it does," said Yves, rinsing out a couple of corporate-logo coffee mugs. "But I haven't pulled a real all-nighter since college, so these are both for me. In about ten hours I'm going to be hit with a massive migraine and become utterly useless, so after we get our shit together we're going to have to move fast."

 

Coffee started sizzling into the pot. "Move where?" Dee asked. "Miss Devil Cookie could be anywhere. Where do we start?"

 

Yves watched the level of coffee in the pot rise. "If you told me everything before, then we've only got two places to go."

 

Dee thought about it for a moment. "You're right. Let's start close to home. Listen," Dee added. "I think I've run out of clothes."

 

"Clean clothes?"

 

"Yeah." Dee shifted uncomfortably. "But I think I'm completely out of pants."

 


 

"Ten years," grumbled Yves, pounding down the cement stairs.

 

"What?" Dee asked from a few steps in front of him.

 

"Ninety minute workouts, at least once a day, for ten years," Yves said, glaring at Dee's chiseled shoulders. "That's how long it took me to look good in these clothes."

 

"Really?" said Dee as he reached the door to the first floor. "I thought you were born bishi."

 

"And you fill out a muscle shirt in four damned days."

 

"Feeling petty, Yves?" Dee turned the door handle. "Is that why you gave me these stupid M.C. Hammer pants?" He pulled at the elastic of a pair of sweats resembling gun-metal gray pantaloons with his free hand.

 

"No, I'm feeling practical. You've been ruining an average of 2.5 articles of clothing an hour in the past few days, and I need to cleanse the Nineties from my wardrobe. Besides, you need a lot of room for Goojitsu."

 

Dee held the door ajar. "What?"

 

Yves shrugged, then winced and rubbed his shoulders. "Would you prefer 'goo fu?'"

 

"What the fuck are you talking about?"

 

"Your martial art," Yves said.

 

The door fell closed. "I repeat: what the fuck?"

 

"Come off it, Dee. When I said I'd never seen anyone move like you did, I meant it. And what you did to that cherry cupcake psycho…" Yves shuddered. "She may have felt like Jell-O to you, but to this mere mortal she was about three hundred pounds of wet cement."

 

"Yves, honestly, I have no idea what I'm doing or what's happening to me. You've always been good at this sort of thing; I've seen you guess the endings of movies like The Sixth Sense, Momento, and Seven from just watching the opening credits. Do you know what's going on?"

 

"Not yet," Yves said, joining Dee in the entryway to the first floor and pulling open the door. "But I'm working on it."

 

Dee peered down the empty hallway. "What can you tell me, then?"

 

"Well," Yves sighed, closing the door. "You've invented the world's first martial art designed not just for unarmed combat, but also for fighting when totally nude, with an entire school devoted to defense against hydrodynamic attacks. The cherry cupcake girl is insane, but she has standards and lines she is unwilling to cross. She makes contingency plans, however, and is prepared to compromise when desperate. And Bee's really dead."

 

Dee goggled. "How do you know all that?"

 

"His testicles are in a jar outside his apartment's front door."

 

Dee cracked the door open. "Good eye," he said, squinting. "I thought those were marbles."

 

"Have some respect for the dead, Dee. That's the part of himself Bee probably wanted to put in her mouth more than any other and it wound up being the only part of him that didn't end up in there. I guess nanomek really is programmed for irony."

 

"What are Bee's balls doing in the hallway?" Dee said.

 

"It's a message from that cherry devil cookie bitch—look, we need to come up with a good nickname for her," Yves said. "I don't like saying 'bitch' all the time, no matter how appropriate."

 

"Cherry Cupcake?" Dee suggested.

 

"Only if I get to call you 'Ellie Dee.'"

 

Dee blinked. "I don't even get that reference. But, whatever. Um, Betty Crocker?"

 

"Lawsuit waiting to happen," Yves said.

 

"Darth Cherry?"

 

"Please."

 

"Well," Dee said, "Devil Cookie has a familiar ring…Wait a minute. You're trying to distract me from something."

 

"It's working."

 

"Just tell me what message Bee's balls in a glass jar could possibly convey."

 

"I have no idea," Yves said. "Cherry Cupcake's crazy."

 

"'Crazy for me,'" Dee muttered in reverie.

 

"What? No, she's indiscriminately crazy. But the message, whatever it was, was meant for you."

 

"So?" Dee said, ire rising.

 

"So I don’t think Cherry Cupcake's there, but I also don't think you're going to like what's waiting for us in there, either,"

 

Dee startled and threw open the door. "You think Galatea's—"

 

"I don't know, Dee." Yves blocked the doorway. "But I need you to not think about Galatea for the moment. I don't want to belittle your feelings and I appreciate the gravity of your situation—"

 

"I know," Dee said.

 

"—but we need to think big-picture right now, and that means the most important question is—"

 

"I know."

 

"—where the Hell is the rest of the nanomek?" Yves finished, pinching the bridge of his nose.

 

"I don't know," Dee said. "But I can guess."

 


 

The tin of SRU Thickener bounced around the metal mesh child seat of the shopping cart gamboling down the Baking Needs aisle. The burning red sunrise threw crazy shadows ahead of it. "Where's all the cherry Jell-O?" the pusher of the cart called out.

 

A sleepy reply came from a few aisles away. "Ma'am? We don't open until six o'clock, ma'am. The front door should have been locked."

 

"It was," said the customer, bobbing her head to peek into various rows of instant desserts and pie fillings. "I just slipped in." She adopted a breathy, pouting tone. "I hope you don't mind. It's only a few minutes before six. Could you help me with the cherry Jell-O? Please?"

 

"I'm sorry," said the sleepy voice, the squeak of sneakered feet approaching the Baking Needs aisle. "Some sicko came in last night and bought it all for who-knows-what."

 

"Oh, really?" the early customer drawled owlishly.

 

"Yah, really," the husky stock boy insisted, round the bend of the aisle. "We're all sold ow—wow-huh-how." He skidded to a halt, gawking.

 

Black Cherry's batwings stretched high and triangular like lateen sails, crimson blazing and black veins glistening as they drank in the dawn. Her fingers riffled through the uneven rows of gelatin boxes. "'Peach,'" she read, picking up one box. "Maybe. If I had some schnapps." She put the box back on the shelf. "Hm. 'Grape?' Probably a boozehound. 'Mixed Fruit?' What the heck is that? Oh, who am I kidding?" A wing flicked down and scooped every last box into the shopping basket.

 

"I'll make as many as it takes for Master," she said, plucking out the boxes of lime Jell-O from the pile in her basket and pitching them into the next row, "give him more, and more, and more until he finally realizes I'm the only one perfect for him. Or they drain him dry, I suppose, and then I'll just claim what's mine. After all," she told the stock boy, "a girl needs her minions."

 

"Uh. Huh?"

 

"Ah," Black Cherry said, ignoring him, and pulled a handful of devil's food instant pudding boxes from the shopping cart. "Not cherry, but these will do for a start. Too unoriginal, though. She'll need something more. Time to think outside the box." She watched inky black swirls spiral across her wings. "Of course," she murmured. "She'll be perfect. Well, almost perfect."

 

Black Cherry fixed the stock boy with her bottomless stare. "Do you sell paint?"

 

"Aisle three," the stock boy said, unblinking.

 

She took a step closer. "Do you sell black paint?"

 

"Aisle three, freezer-side left," the stock boy gulped, gooseflesh prickling his arms and neck.

 

She stepped closer still, her wings buffeting his hair. "Do you sell black latex paint?"

 

"Aisle three," the stock boy croaked, "freezer-side left, center shelf. Just a pint or two, though."

 

"More than I need, thank you. Say…" Black Cherry gave the stock boy's cheek a friendly tweak, raising a bruise. "Has anyone ever told you that you look good enough to eat?"

 


 

"Do you really think meliae can make more meliae?" Yves wondered. "We're dealing with magic and dream-logic, here. There could be a rule against it."

 

"There's also a rule that nanomek never does what you expect," Dee said. "It's the most important rule, apparently, so maybe it applies to meliae too."

 

"I don't know what's worse," Yves said, scrutinizing the hallway again, "Cherry Cupcake planning to make more meliae or Cherry Cupcake making more meliae that don't turn out as planned."

 

"Jesus, I hadn't thought of that."

 

"I've run out of ideas, myself," Yves said. "We have to check out Bee's place eventually, anyway." He stepped through the doorway. "Let's get it over with."

 

They sidled down the hallway. "Who else lives down here?" Yves asked.

 

"Esteban. You know," Dee said into Yves blank stare, "good looking guy, always acts like he just broke up with his girlfriend, goes home with a new girl every other night? Not your scene, I guess. I doubt he's home."

 

"Is he Bee's next door neighbor?"

 

"No," Dee said. "That's Kay."

 

"Kay's back from Iraq?"

 

"Don't know, but don't worry," Dee whispered, "Kay sleeps like the dead, no amount of noise can wake him up—unless you're trying to be quiet or sneaking around, that is."

 

"Like we are now?"

 

"Shit," Dee said a normal volume. "Good point. Sorry."

 

Yves marched to the door with the jar sitting in front of it like something left out for the milkman. He nudged the jar aside with his foot, his eyes focused on the glass peephole directly in front of him. He rattled the knob. "Locked. Do your thing, Dee," he said, moving back, "and don't be sneaky."

 

Dee kicked out. The metal door refused to bend and Dee's right foot punched through it like an awl through leather until his leg pushed knee-deep. "Cheap door," Dee said, hopping on his left leg to keep his balance.

 

"That's what it's supposed to do, I think," Yves said, backing even further away.

 

"Okay, then," Dee grumbled. He reared up, shifting his full weight onto his trapped leg and butting the door with his head. The hinges groaned, the door caved in, and Dee toppled into the apartment.

 

"That would have woken the dead," Yves said after a long pause. "I don't think Kay's home."

 

"There're Styrofoam peanuts all over the place in here," Dee remarked.

 

"How does it smell?" asked Yves.

 

"The peanuts?" said Dee, lying atop the punctured metal door crammed into the apartment's tiny foyer. Paint scraped off the walls whenever he tried to move. "Yves, I need a little help here. I think I'm stuck."

 

Out in the hallway, Yves fell into a ready stance. "Try thinking for a second, Dee, and tell me if you smell anything."

 

"It is a little ripe in here, now that you mention it. Sickly sweet, like—Oh, shit." Dee bucked, bending the door at a ninety-degree angle, only trapping his right leg tighter. "You don't think Bee made two of them, do you?"

 

"Sickly sweet like what?"

 

Dee shuffled, making no progress. "Not like cookies, thank God. Garbage and air freshener. No, not air freshener…Galatea."

 

The door shred like tissue paper under his hands and Dee stumbled into the apartment's living room. A moment later Yves followed, picking his way through the sharp strips of shorn sheet metal. "This place is directly below yours, Dee," he said, "so that makes sense. Check out the ceiling. It's tie-dyed mint green."

 

Dee relaxed enough to take in his surroundings. "The fridge's wide open but the light's out and I don't hear the compressor running. I guess that's where the smell's coming from. No sewage-meliae to worry about, thank God."

 

"I was thinking more along the lines of other bits and pieces of Bee," Yves said, rummaging through the clutter of old mail on Bee's coffee table.

 

"Ew. Thanks, I'll keep that in mind." Dee rifled through the cushions of Bee's black leather couch. "We're looking for the nanomek, I take it?"

 

"Yeah, on the odd chance we've lucked out and Cherry Cupcake doesn't have it, we've got to find it and put it somewhere safe. Man, look at all these mail-order catalogues. Did Bee collect anime action figures or something?"

 

"Trust me; you don't want to know," Dee said, "I'll check out the kitchen."

 

Yves contemplated the ceiling. "It's not seeping down," he pondered aloud. "It's spreading across."

 

"What?" Dee said from the kitchenette.

 

"I'll be in the bedroom," said Yves.

 

The refrigerator door was propped open by a massive, metal mixing bowl. Dee rolled it aside and shut the door, ignoring wilting vegetables spotted with mold and a burst, soupy package of blackening ground beef. He hefted the bowl off the floor, testing its weight. Dee sniffed a hint of chocolate cherry cordial candy. "Speaking of magic and dream-logic," Dee called out, "you should see the bowl Bee made Cherry Cupcake in. It's a god-damned cauldron."

 

Dee caught a glimpse of the kitchen table and whistled. "Holy crap." The mixing bowl thudded on the stove. "That's a lot of Jell-O. Yves! There must be two dozen empty boxes of cherry Jell-O in here. All that collagen; no wonder she was so strong…Wait a minute."

 

Dee bent down and picked a lone, empty box of Devil's Food instant pudding from the floor. Its cardboard was crusted with a dull russet stain. Dee wished it were ketchup, beet juice, or even Cherry Cupcake cum, but he knew better. "Devil's food." He turned to the mixing bowl. "Witch's cauldron." There was more russet on its rim. "I bet he bled a little into the mix, too." He glanced out the bay window into the golden dawn. "All on a night of the New Moon. Bee, you idiot."

 

"Dee," came Yves' shaky voice from the bedroom. "You'd better get in here."

 

Dee crossed the living room and trod down the little hallway to the bedroom. Galatea's scent mixed with the earthy must of mildewed plaster. Yves stood in the bedroom doorway. "Don't freak out," he said, moving back. "Just look and tell me if you think there's anything we can do."

 

The bedroom ceiling was pitted with lime-stained fissures and craters. Strips of greenish drywall formed stalactites around a broken plywood support beam breaching the spongy stucco and blemished the walls. The catastrophic water damage barely registered. Dee's attention was transfixed by dozens of containers. Salad and soup bowls, aluminum pots and steel pans, glass beer mugs and plastic cups littered every flat surface in the room. "He was collecting her," Dee whispered. The Devil's Food box tumbled to the floor. "Her, uh, runoff."

 

"I know." Yves picked up a nearby Pyrex measuring cup and handed it over. A rind of pale green powder coated the mouth and walls of the glass and a thick, florescent green sludge glazed the bottom. "They're all pretty much like this, mostly evaporated. Do you think there's anything we can do? If Cherry Cupcake knew about this, she wouldn't have left anything here if she thought we could—"

 

"Maybe she didn't know everything," Dee said. He pressed a finger into the measuring cup. The sludge felt cold and lifeless, the fingerprint he left in it as unchanging as an astronaut's footprint on the Moon. "Maybe she didn't know what she never experienced."

 

"What are you thinking, Dee?" Yves asked.

 

["…nanomek always holds a little energy and some of your cum—maybe a milliliter or two—in reserve, out of instinct or something like that…"]

 

"You're so quiet I can't tell if you're freaking out or not," Yves added.

 

"I can't afford to freak out," Dee said, "now that I can bring Galatea back."

 

"How?"

 

"Three Ds."

 

"What?"

 

"The three Ds," Dee repeated, searching out glasses and clear plastic cups. "Remember? She said that's all she'd ever need."

 

Yves thought for a moment, then twitched with sudden recognition. "I can help you with the first two," he offered.

 

"I don't think we'll need more of the third."

 

Yves was collecting plastic cups near the bedroom window when he said, "What the Hell is this?"

 

Dee glanced up from his growing stack of glasses. "It's a webcam on top of a broom handle." He pointed at camera's winking LED light. "It's on."

 

Yves followed the camera's cabling to Bee's worktable. He fished a receipt out of a plastic bag crumpled by the keyboard. "Bee bought a three hundred gigabyte external hard drive a few days ago." He sat in Bee's mesh desk chair and brought his computer out of hibernation. "It's full." He hunched over Bee's computer monitor and called up an image viewer. "Oh my God," he said, mouse clicking furiously.

 

"What?"

 

"Well, Dee," Yves sighed as the monitor flickered. "I've always wondered, and now I know, thanks to you, Galatea, and a little help from Bee."

 

"Know what?"

 

Yves punched a key and a high resolution video filled the screen. "I am completely, one hundred percent, absolutely gay. This stuff isn't turning me on at all."

 

Dee came up behind him. "That's a prototype of her bed trick, I think. Too bad we never got to try the final version."

 

Yves pressed his palms against his cheeks, aghast. "I'm not turned on but I can't look away. How are you breathing between those?" He advanced the video a few minutes. "Or under there?" He advanced it again. "Or in that?"

 

"That's when I learned how to hold my breath for half an hour," Dee said, blushing. "At least. Never found out how long I could go. I, uh, kind of take over in a little while. That's part of the game…Yeah, there I go. Huh. Wow."

 

"'Wow?'" Yves laughed, hitting the fast forward button. "I see how you learned Goojitsu." He turned to face Dee. "Why aren't you angry? The Dee I know would be punching holes in walls and threatening to kill Bee."

 

"He's already dead," Dee said. He waved an arm over all the containers on the floor. "Besides, if this works, he's given Galatea back to me. I let all this happen—I gave him the nanomek and then I pushed Galatea away. And now thanks to Bee I have a chance to put things right."

 

"Except Bee will still be dead," Yves pointed out.

 

Dee shrugged. "I don't have a problem with that, to be honest."

 

Few minutes later they had almost a dozen cups and glasses filled with water catching the sunlight from the sill of kitchenette's bay window. Even in the cloudless dawn the water looked polluted with algae and silt. "Maybe we should stir it? I mean 'her?'" Yves said after staring for a long while. Silent minutes crawled passed and he added, "Uh, maybe I should lie down for a while and you could work on the third D. I'm beat. Literally."

 

Dee took up two cups, careful not to spill a drop. "The bathtub," he said, making his slow way to the bathroom.

 

Dee placed the two cups gently on the bathroom's linoleum floor. He hunted down Bee's drain stopper and made sure the seal was air tight before he poured the cups' contents into the tub and started the tap running warm. Yves came in with two more glasses and Dee said, "You rest a while and I'll fill the tub. Maybe if I can collect enough together…"

 

In about an hour the tub was half full with warm limeade. "I'm going to have to call in sick soon," Yves called from the couch.

 

"Maybe you should go," Dee said, watching the random ripples of the green bathwater, hoping to see any kind of pattern. "It looks like she's going to need the final D after all—or maybe this just isn't working and I need to find where Cherry Cupcake's taken the rest of her. I still have to do that, no matter what happens now. There's no way I'm going to let Cherry Cupcake hurt her—any of her—anymore. But I don't want her to hurt you again, either."

 

Yves shuffled in and put a kind hand on Dee's shoulder. "Forget that, I'm sticking with you." He took his hand away. "Although I will duck out for this last bit."

 

"Of course," Dee said, his smile wan.

 

"Maybe there's something I can do in the meantime," Yves suggested. "There's no window in here. What if I borrowed some grow lights?"

 

"Some what?"

 

"A natural light lamp," Yves explained. "You know, for tropical fish? Or indoor gardening? Or…"

 

"There's only one person I know who, uh, 'gardens' in a closet," Dee said.

 

"There's only one person I know who'd be crazy enough to believe us."

 

They locked eyes and chorused, "Ursula."

 

"I'll go talk to her," Yves said. "You should stay here in case Ursula is affected by your public fuckability."

 

"We definitely need a better nickname for that, too," Dee said. "Do you really think Ursula would be affected? I mean, she's gayer than you."

 

"I beg your pardon?"

 

"You came out of the closet five, six years ago, right? Ursula took a cheerleader to her junior prom."

 

Yves waved his dismissal. "Okay, okay. The truth? I hope not but I don't want to find out. Do you think your friendship with her would survive something like that? Plus, you've got things to do."

 

"Good points all," Dee said, sitting on the toilet. "Get going, and close the door behind you."

 

Yves smirked. "You can keep those pants when you're done. Jesus, Dee," Yves said, smile fading, "for a guy who's about to win back his true love, you look miserable. Dee? Is there something you want to tell me?"

 

After a while, Dee whispered, "Just go."

 

Yves left without another word, closing the bathroom door behind him. Dee waited to hear the front door of the apartment to open and shut, but after a quizzical, silent minute he remembered the front door was now scraps of metal scattered in the foyer. He leaned forward, clicked the door lock, and dropped down to kneel at the foot of the tub. "Okay," he sighed.

 

After a final moment of hesitation, he dropped a hand down into the tub. It made a loud slap when his hand hit the mixture and he jerked back, mournful. The liquid felt warm and tacky. His hand came away filmed with fluid.

 

Damn. That felt awful.

 

Resting his head against the cool ceramic lip of the tub, Dee said, "I can't do this."

 


 

Yves trudged up the cement stairs to the second floor. Pain flared from the muscle and tendons of his waist with each step. He felt like someone had kicked him in the groin, but he had felt that way for over an hour now and was growing accustomed. You don't get good at Aikido, he thought, without spending many years being bad at Aikido. I've been hurt before.

 

A stitch in the ribs took his breath away when he opened the door to the hallway. I've lost fights before.

 

He moved down the citrus-perfumed hallway, resisting the urge to limp and favor his left leg. I've been robbed of my dignity before. I've even been—His right leg folded up under him so he sat there in the middle of the hallway, searching for balance. Breathe. Victory is not getting cut. Breathe. Eight forces sustain creation: Movement and stillness. Breathe. Extension and contraction. Breathe. Unification and division. Breathe. Solidity and fluidity—"Oh, for Heaven's sake," he said with sudden realization. "If Aikido has anything to do with goo girls and solid boys I'm going to take up ballet instead."

 

Yves stood with composure and crossed the hallway to knock on Ursula's door.

 

"Just a minute," came Ursula's dreamy alto voice. "Who is it?"

 

"Yves Valiancourt."

 

"Yves?" Ursula asked. The door opened. The funk of patchouli unrolled in the air.

 

No one was there until Yves remembered to look down. Ursula slipped on her oversized, oval eyeglasses with wide, red, plastic frames and peered sleepily up at him, her angular face as pale as milk. Yves could see the mousy brown of the roots of her hair, dyed a lustrous black with some homemade henna concoction and pulled into two thick, braided pigtails curled over her shoulders and dangling down to her hips. She wore a tight set of boy's black sweats, a cat burglar's outfit ruined by an overstuffed pair of baby blue bunny slippers with long fuzzy pink ears. "Earth to Yves."

 

"Sorry," Yves said. "I've never seen you…well, anyone…dressed like that. Ever."

 

"I'm sleeping in today," she said as if that explained everything. "You look like Hell, Yves. Are you okay? What's going on?"

 

Yves glanced down the corridor. I should have come up with something to say before knocking. Oh, well, bean spillage time. "Actually, Dee sent me because—"

 

"Galatea's in trouble," Ursula said, not missing a beat.

 

"God damn, woman," Yves cried out, "how do you always do that?"

 


 

"Galatea," Dee said to the tub of sugary green soup. "I don't know if you can hear me. I don't know if you have any nanomek left in there. But I've realized something. I've realized why I couldn't do it that first time. It's the same reason why I can't do it now. And I want to explain."

 

He turned and sat with his back against the tub. "I love you and I know you love me, and I've got this thing for you too, just like you have for me. But I don't have a thing for Jell-O, or goo, or maybe even goo girls. I don't have a thing for things." He laughed. "I know this is sounding like one of my rehearsed hissy fits, but it's not. Please hear me out, if you're in there.

 

"In fantasy, and on the Internet—it is a blast, Galatea, just like you said—I can get turned on by almost anything. That's what fantasy is for. That's what the Internet is for. It's harmless, guiltless pleasure. But actually sticking my dick into a bowl of Jell-O that I didn't know was you, that I thought was just Jell-O? That isn't harmless, at least not to me, although I'm sure it is for some. And neither is masturbating over what is probably the corpse of the woman I love more than anything else in the world."

 

"So, I can't do that." Dee stood up. "More than that, I won't do that." He pulled off Yves' muscle shirt and hopped out of the Hammer-pants and underwear. "But I will do this," he said, and slid naked into the tub.

 

The liquid sloshed over him, a warm green film sliming his hair, gumming up his nose, greasing his stomach, trailing over his legs and puddling in his crotch. Every inch of his skin felt pasty. Soon the rippling from his descent petered out. Other than the rise and fall of his chest as he breathed, nothing moved in the tub. "I love you, Galatea," Dee said, his voice distant and muffled to his plugged-up ears. "I said it unthinkingly before, but I mean it now more than ever: you are a part of me."

 

On the inner curve of his left thigh, Dee felt a single, solitary nanogasm.

 

In the Blood of Eden,

We’ve done everything we can.

In the Blood of Eden,

So we end as we began:

With the man in the woman,

And the woman in the man.

 

—Peter Gabriel, Blood of Eden

 


 

Chapter Eight: A Way So Familiar

 

 

"…Welcome to the club," Galatea was saying into the phone over the noise of the blender. Ice and Nyquil cemented into a thick, medicinal green slurry. "Listen, I've been thinking, and maybe you should tell him…"

 

"Thinking!" said the pixie voice over the phone, "Yeah, thinking's good! You go do that s'more. I gottagoseeyabye."

 

The line went dead. Galatea glanced at the digital readout on the microwave in Dee's kitchenette.

 

6:52 PM.

 

"God dammit."

 

She punched the power switch on the blender and poured some Nyquil slushy into a tall plastic cup. She took a tentative sip. The frozen stuff flashed down her throat, chilling her to the core, stiffening her nipples into ice the color of darkest myrtle. "Wow." she gasped, touching them tenderly. "God dammit," she said again after a moment. "I miss Dee."

 

Galatea emptied the contents of the cup back into the blender and lugged the full mixing bowl into the living room. She guzzled a long draught of slushy before extending a tendril to hit the Play button on Dee's DVD player. She giggled as the Nyquil took effect and the fuzzy logic of her nanomek mind web grew downright hairy and humor impaired. "Dee's Dee Vee Dee."

 

On the television screen, a severed head grew a pair of glistening eyestalks and scuttled out a door on crab legs. Galatea howled with laughter until the copper-haired hero burned the head-crab to a crisp with flame-thrower. "Aw, poor little guy," she said, tipping the mixing bowl against her lips before realizing she had emptied its entire contents in that initial sip. She plopped onto the couch in a huff.

 

Something solid pushed between the pliant flesh of her legs and nestled against her sex. She yelped and rocketed upright. The hard intruder bounced and burrowed further into her with each resulting shockwave. "God," she whined, reached between her legs and pulled Dee's square plastic universal remote out of her crotch with a shriek. "Dammit!" She throttled the remote. "Dee, Dee, Dee, everything here is Dee except Dee isn't here!"

 

She tried shaking the plastic gadget to pieces but gave up with a sigh, paused the movie, and then settled back onto the couch. She waited. She counted ice crystals of slushy dissolving in her body. She waited. She toyed with the universal remote, counting the infrared wave-particles it shot around the room. She waited. She queried her memory web and counted the number of times she had climaxed in the four days of her existence: one hundred seventeen. Then she counted the number of Dee's orgasms in the same period: three hundred forty two. "Typical," she grumped, glancing at the DVD's digital readout.

 

6:55 PM.

 

"I'm tired of waiting for Dee," she slurred, and burped. A rainbow bubble popped out of her mouth and burst against her nose. It smelled of Nyquil, citrus, sex…and homemade castile soap. Galatea growled, low and long, until the sound became a name, each syllable slowly toyed with and tasted before it rolled off her tongue.

 

"Ursula!"

 

 

A cascade of nanogasms started a fire in her belly. Waves of heated, melted gel gushed up into her chest and coursed through her legs. "Nanomek, do your stuff." Her body melted, slick and sticky like a well-licked lollipop.

 

The heat peaked as her meltdown went critical, her surface tension becoming so diffuse she lost all feeling of where she ended and the couch and the air around her began. Her vision doubled, each thought and sensation became muzzy and echoed. "Mitosis," she panted, "is so much better'n Nyquil. Almost better'n sex."

 

"Nah," said another voice, "who you kiddin'?"

 

Galatea's sense of self and her surroundings swam back into focus. "Not you," she told the nectarous duplicate sitting in her lap, "obviously. Oh, crap. I'm half as drunk now. Thanks a bunch."

 

The duplicates' flesh was still so oozy her ass liquefied into Galatea's crotch. Gouts of molten honey rushed between them, making her dizzy. "What do you think it's like," wondered her duplicate, leaning back into Galatea's chest until her breasts melted into the duplicate's shoulders, "to have boundaries?"

 

"Other than freezing myself into a lime popsicle," Galatea mused, "I doubt I'll ever find out. But who needs boundaries when you can bifurcate? And speaking of being bi…"

 

The duplicate pulled free and shook loose the remaining filaments and stringy bands connecting the two of them. "Galatea," said Galatea, "are you pondering what I'm pondering?"

 

"I think so, Galatea, but do we have enough food coloring?"

 

Galatea swaggered down the hallway and into the bathroom. Plastic vials of food coloring scattered about the linoleum faux-tiled floor. She lined them up on the sink, pausing to stare at the last bottle. "Why the Hell did I bother to steal the green one?" She set the full vial of finger-paint green, edible dye next to the others. "I can be such an airhead sometimes."

 

She popped off the caps and kissed a dozen drops of dye from each vial into her mouth, skipping the green with a frown. "There's plenty to go 'round," she said between kisses. Clusters of nanomek swarmed in her tongue and made off with the dye one molecule at time. "A little goes a long way."

 

"Enough for me too?" asked the Galatea on the couch.

 

"Sure," said Galatea, making her way back to the living room. The nanomek sported with the dye and her body pulsed with psychedelic paisleys. "But one of us has gotta stay here in case Dee calls or shows up. Can I go? Dee's 'little Miss U' has been on my To Do list for a long time now. Yours too, though, 'course."

 

"You can go," her green twin cautioned, "on two conditions: No reassimilation until after Dee gets back and I fuck him first while you watch."

 

"Masochist," Galatea accused.

 

"I'm drunk, jealous, and horny as Hell," her twin said with a squirmy shrug. "Do we have a deal, or do we reassimilate now and risk Dee catching us?"

 

"Well, it is every man's fantasy to catch his girlfriend with another woman, isn't it? The Internet doesn't lie."

 

"Dee isn't Everyman," the twin pointed out. "And it pisses you off to see Dee even thinking about another woman."

 

Galatea conceded, "You have a deal."

 

"Great. Now get the fuck out so I can get all the way drunk again."

 

"Alright," Galatea nodded. "But first, some advice: what should I be?" With a metallic sigh her mass morphed into a slobbering tentacular horror, a purple demonic monstrosity with extra sets of oversized sexual apparatus and rows of teeth in some very strange places. "Legend of the Overfiend?" its ivory-tusked maws hissed in a ragged chorus.

 

Her twin flew into a fit of giggles.

 

"You're right," the abomination spoke in Galatea's voice, "too silly. Okay. Hm. Oh! What about…" There was another metallic sigh and the beast morphed into a tall, raven haired, Amazon princess wearing nothing but red, white, and blue underwear, a pair of polished steel bracelets, and a golden lariat coiled on her hip. "…Suffering Sappho?" She tried twirling the lariat over her head but fumbled the third spin and somehow managed to lasso her own hands behind her back. "Suffering Sappho!" she swore. "Powerless! Again!" She wriggled and jiggled but remained bound. "Why does this always happen?"

 

Her green twin perked up. "Ooh, save that one for Dee. That will make him awfully quiet. Golden Age gals are his favorite."

 

"Something Dark Agey, then?" the Amazon suggested, morphing into a black vinyl clad sex kitten with a whip.

 

The twin buried her hands in her head. "We have got to stop listening to Dee's comic book lectures."

 

"You're right." Galatea morphed back into herself. "I'm thinking of Dee, not Ursula."

 

"We've been in her apartment a bunch of times," her twin noted, "and I didn't see any comic books. Lots of novels instead. And a whole shelf devoted to one author, remember? I don't know what the books were about, though."

 

Dee's white-box computer squat in the corner of the living room. Galatea stretched her arms to its keyboard and called up a web search engine. "'Anne Rice,'" she enunciated, typing out the name and hitting the Enter key.

 

Galatea and her twin elongated their necks into emerald crazy straws to get a close look at what the search engine produced.

 

"Ah," said the twin.

 

"Heh," said Galatea.

 


 

Ursula was possessed of an antique vanity. A sheet of silvered glass framed in dark cherry wood still stained with its original varnish served as its mirror. Only the lining of its drawers and three dowels had been replaced in over a century since its manufacture in New Orleans by a journeyman carpenter whose accident while procuring matted felt for his masterwork from a nearby haberdashery resulted in mercury poisoning, Mad Hatter Syndrome, and subsequent suicide.

 

"I take pride in my vanity," Ursula said, as she always did whenever she sat before it. The vanity table's aged mirror cast her reflection in mottled brass, as if she were living inside a nineteenth century photograph. "But I hate my hair!" she added, grabbing up handfuls of her massive mane and shaking it in her tiny fists.

 

She spread her fingers and clouds of baby-fine, black-dyed hair unraveled past her waist. "Rapunzel I ain't." She cinched her silk dressing gown around her slender waist, plucked an ox horn comb from the selection of beautician's weaponry arrayed on the vanity table's blotter, and detangled herself without mercy. "Ow, ow, ow. Ow!"

 

A distressful hour later the battle was won. "There," she said, tying up her plaited pigtails with purple satin ribbon and turning away from the mirror for the first time since she sat down. "I deserve a Hot Toddy."

 

The vampire attacked.

 

For a second of blinking incomprehension Ursula just sat there, staring at the virago vampire towering over her—staring open mouthed at the buckles of a studded corset belt hovering inches away from her nose. The vampire bent in a mockery of a curtsey, flashing a flawless, ivory leg as her black velvet skirt flared over the floor. Ursula caught another fleeting glimpse of skin guarded by a velvet choker and a severe neckline before the vampire curtsied deep enough to look her in the eye and her mind went blank.

 

"Why hello there," the vampire chuckled, her voice throaty and thrumming with a power that made Ursula shake like a leaf, setting her legs and loins aquiver like she was eleven all over again. The vampire's tongue lolled over her curving, canine fangs as she tasted the words: "Little girl."

 

Ursula managed to produce a mousy Eep! noise from the back of her throat—which was tilting backward and to the side, exposing the curve of her milky neck, apparently of its own volition. The remaining shred of her pride and dignity seethed and hated her for it. The vampire cocked an eyebrow at her, an expression so familiar—Dee, that's Dee, why does she remind me of Dee—that Ursula's raging pride boiled up and nearly broke through her paralysis of fear and arousal, but then the vampire declared, "Let's move this to the bed," and hoisted Ursula high into the air, cradling her in both arms on the downswing.

 

Ursula squeaked in mindless passion, alarm, and assent.

 

 

The vampire strutted over to the cast-iron, four poster bed catty-corner to the opposite bedroom wall. Ursula rocked in her strange, rubbery embrace. Squashed against her captor's imposing bust and swaddled in the cool velvet of the vampire's cloak, Ursula felt suspended and enmeshed, enraged but enraptured. The vampire brushed the bed's white lace canopy aside, unwound her cloak and rolled Ursula onto the mattress' plush quilt. She loomed above Ursula like a languorous lion. Spikes of flame-red hair crowned a flawless but cruel face as white as pure marble. Ursula turned away from the vampire's cold, viridian gaze, shuddering but still presenting her neck.

 

The vampire traced a fingernail under Ursula's chin, clucking. "The carotid artery is so cliché."

 

Ursula tried to curl into a ball but the vampire pressed her flat against the bed and flicked the dressing gown off Ursula's shoulders. "I prefer the subclavian, myself," the vampire said, dipping her finger down and over the clavicle above Ursula's left breast.

 

Her left nipple hardened and hurt as Ursula squirmed, the material of her dressing gown scrapping against it. The vampire sat down on the bed as she nudged the top of Ursula's gown open to expose her shivering chest. The vampire leaned down and in, breathing deep. She paused just long enough to blink twice and crinkle her brow. "Slim pickings," she said, shaking her head and recovering from the split second of confusion. "And I'm very hungry." She loosened the knot of Ursula's belt apart and finger-walked across the skin below.

 

"So," the vampire said as her hand crawled passed Ursula's bellybutton, "tonight I'm in the mood for some profunda femoris." She skirted over Ursula's pudendum and clamped down on the meat of Ursula's inner thigh inches away from her sex. "That's quite an abbuctor magnus you've built up for yourself, little girl," she commented as she squeezed and Ursula squealed. "You must put it through the wringer. How many heads have you wrapped these babies around, hmm?"

 

The vampire shunted down the bed, pried Ursula's legs apart, and bent low, only to start blinking again. "I could say just about anything right now," she said, a green tint beginning to rouge her cheeks, "and you'd just writhe and pant some more, right?"

 

Ursula writhed and panted like a puppy.

 

"Good." The vampire padded down to the foot of the bed and knelt between Ursula's spread-eagled legs. She pulled the knot of Ursula's belt apart, yanking the gown wide open. "Where was I?" She stared at Ursula's creamy tummy and mousy brown mound. A few green beads of sweat spilled down her forehead.

 

Ursula tugged hard on her own braids, mewling in bewildered need.

 

"Arteries," the vampire muttered. "Right. Arteries. Good." She grabbed Ursula's ankle and raised her toned leg high. She palpated behind the knee with her other hand and found Ursula's pulse singing like a humming bird's. "The popliteal artery…" she said, greenish pallor spreading and statuesque features softening. Ursula's bucked her hips, her eyes rolled over white. "The popliteal artery," the vampire said again, mouth inching closer to the inner curve of Ursula's upraised knee. She gulped and tried one last time: "The popliteal artery is fine too—Oh, God damn it and fuck!"

 

The vampire let Ursula's leg drop and mopped away the runnels of green goo that had started to stream down her face. "Why the Hell," the vampire cried, "why the fucking Hell do you smell like Dee?"

 

The ratcheting plateau-then-tension-then-plateau-then-tension buildup toward the fearsome orgasm twisting into a fist in Ursula's abdomen petered out in a grating, itching ache. "Huh? Wha'?"

 

The vampire's clothes were melting into thick green syrup, or green syrup was eating through the vampire's clothes from the inside, Ursula could not tell which. The vampire slopped down to all fours on the bed and crawled over her. Droplets of green nectar struck and stuck to Ursula's thighs, searing and sensuous like candle wax dribbled over her flesh. The burning rain raced up her belly and then between her breasts as the vampire crawled up to look Ursula in the eyes.

 

"You smell," Galatea growled as every last molecule of food coloring burned up in her escalating passion. "Just…like…Dee—Oh, God," Galatea moaned and plunged her head down to wallow in the aroma.

 

"God! My God!" Ursula gasped in agreement, orgasm uncoiling through her body as Galatea's gel-flesh flowed over her neck, across her shoulders and down her chest. It felt soft but insistent, weighty but delicate, smooth but clingy, its pervasive but delicious heat penetrating down to the bone. "My God," Ursula whispered again as Galatea suckled on the crook of Ursula's neck, blades of living hair reaching up to cup and caress Ursula's face, "it's, it's—"

 

Galatea broke her full-torso kiss and pulled up and away with a loud, popping slurp. "Better than vampires?" she asked, eyes twinkling.

 

"Yes," Ursula said, reaching out and pushing her arms deep into Galatea's back for a piping hot, internal hug, and it was Galatea's time to buck and mewl, "yes. I'm never LARPing again."

 

Galatea laughed, shaking her head. "Now you even sound like Dee," she said, amazed. "And why do you smell like him? I don't understand this at all."

 

Ursula, lying prone beneath a living incarnation of carnality made of out lime gelatin, said, "I think it's only fair if I get to ask the first questions."

 

Galatea rolled her eyes. "God, you are such a man." She tried to roll over on the bed but the twin mattress proved too small and she splashed down onto the carpet instead. "Okay," she said, sounding muffled, "you can ask questions while I regain my dignity."

 

"How did you make me cum like that?" Ursula asked.

 

"You came?"

 

"Yes," Ursula said, examining the sticky green smears on her quilt, "when you kissed me."

 

"Really? Me too!" Ursula heard something slosh and slide about below the bed. "That's the wonder of nanogasms. Don't thank me; thank Dee for those. And no, I'm not going to explain that. Not yet, at least, 'cuz trying to explain it would probably fill a fuckin' book. Anyway, one more question before it’s my turn."

 

Ursula held the quilt up and over the side of the bed. "How do I get these stains out?"

 

Galatea's head peeked up. "What are you, some sort of Martha Stewart hippie?"

 

"I prefer the term 'Bohemian Bourgeoisie.'"

 

"Fine with me," Galatea said, rising to her full height. "As to your question: I have no idea. I like keepin' Dee too busy to clean up. Now it's my turn, right?"

 

Ursula nodded and drew the quilt over her naked form. "Right."

 

"Okay." Galatea crossed her arms. "I can’t help but notice you haven't asked me my name, or what I am, so I'm thinking that you already know. Am I right?"

 

"I know just a little," Ursula confessed, "Galatea."

 

"I've also figured out why you smell like Dee," Galatea said, and disappeared below the bed again. Huffing with exertion, she hauled out a small steamer trunk. She snapped open the trunk's fasteners, popped the lip up, and pulled out a handful of homemade castile soap. "You bathe with this stuff too, right? So it’s not the case that you smell like Dee. Instead, Dee smells like you."

 

Ursula shifted, pulling the quilt tighter around her. "Right."

 

"Well," Galatea said, standing up again, "I've bathed with it too. Sort of. I suspect you know 'just a little' about that as well. But let me tell you something I know: I know every single ingredient you've put into this damn stuff, and you can be sure as shit a bunch of it ain't soap. So I've just got one real question for you. Answer correctly and I'll fuck you so good that orgasm you just had will be a little nibble off a chocolate bar in comparison. Answer it wrong…"

 

Galatea surged onto the bed. Ursula clutched the quilt to her neck but Galatea just seeped under it from below and filled it out so Ursula suddenly found herself holding the quilt around Galatea's body rather than her own. "…and I'll get creative," Galatea continued, leaning in nose-to-nose. "My question to you, little Miss U:

 

"Are you a good witch, or a bad witch?"

 

 

"I'm a bad witch." Ursula dropped the quilt and scooted her round butt up against the bed's headboard. "Very bad. Terrible, in fact." Ursula saw a crinkle of confusion cross Galatea's brow, and added, "That is, I'm really bad at witchcraft." Galatea's silence felt like a vacuum and the lacey confines of the four poster bed became a confessional. "My older brother let me play Dungeons and Dragons with him and his friends when I was nine. After a couple of games the group thought my ideas were cooler than his and asked me to be Dungeon Master. I was still running the show in high school. One girl in my group, Marcie, had a real crush on me, but her character died…I think her name was Black Leaf or something…Marcie took it kind of hard. Anyway, that's how I got into the occult.

 

"I studied for years, became a pagan, started spelling 'magic' with a 'k,' went to Bryn Mawr College, you name it. At first, it made me feel good; gave me something to be angry and defensive about other than being a really short, big dyke, you know?" Ursula wrapped herself around a down pillow and chewed, absent minded, on a braid. Galatea just stared, eyes shining like polished moss agate. "But soon it became my routine and I just went through the motions, until something incredible happened: I discovered the Internet."

 

Galatea blinked. "Wait. What?"

 

"I moved here. This town is geek Heaven except, for some reason, the closest thing to a New Age store is the local Hobby Lobby. Dee built me a PC and Viggo let me splice into his broadband connection…Don't look at me like that, I'm so not Dee's type and Viggo isn't interested in any woman that comes without a combo attack….Now don't you start looking at me like that, either, that was a damn good pun. Anyway, I found this medical supply outlet online that had a huge selection of homeopathic and all-natural products for all kinds of stuff. Their wholesaler must be really great, because whenever I use their stuff as reagents or ingredients or whatever, my magic actually works! Although it never works exactly the way I expect. So I went from being no witch at all to a bad witch."

 

"Holy shit," Galatea said, letting the quilt slide off her slick back. "You talk a lot."

 

Ursula blushed, tried to hide her entire body behind the pillow. "I wanted to give the right answer."

 

"I was joking," Galatea laughed, "I was gunna fuck you senseless no matter what you said."

 

"Yes!" Ursula hissed, waving her fists high in the air.

 

Galatea spread out on the bed, her legs first fusing and then oozing out into a wide, low, jellied mound beneath her bellybutton. Ursula hugged the pillow, watching the glistening mass roll closer like liquid, green glass. "How does it feel?" she asked, staring down.

 

"Touch me," Galatea said.

 

Ursula's hazel gaze rose to meet Galatea's. "I mean, how does it feel to be you?"

 

Galatea smiled, and spread her arms out to her. "Touch me."

 

Ursula pushed the pillow away and sat cross-legged before Galatea. Ursula reached out and ran a hesitant finger around Galatea's right palm. "Smooth," she breathed, tracing a circle in Galatea's palm. A little ripple of gel raced ahead of her finger. "Silken." Emboldened, she slid her hand up Galatea's forearm. "Elastic and cool. I like it. What happened to all the sticky goop?"

 

Galatea reached over and took Ursula's right hand in hers. "Not a fan of sticky goop?"

 

"Don't get me wrong," Ursula said, squeezing, "it felt wild and downright wicked, but the little Martha Stewart in me felt aghast."

 

"Let's give Martha a goo girl anatomy lesson," Galatea said, and pulled Ursula's hand to the lower swell of her breast. "Surface tension," she said, pressing Ursula's hand up and in. Her pliant flesh bulged but did not break. "Mm."

 

Ursula's jaw dropped. "Wow."

 

"Dee's favorite word," Galatea purred.

 

"Yours is 'fuck,'" Ursula said, slipping gel between her wriggling fingers.

 

"Hey, yeah, it is!" Galatea bubbled. "How'd ya know?"

 

"I hear you shout it whenever I'm in the hallway. You and Dee have been going at it all week, seems like, and you're not exactly modest."

 

Galatea giggled.

 

"So," Ursula said, and pressed her other hand over Galatea's stiffening nipple. Galatea's giggling trailed off into a contented sigh. "Lesson one: surface tension."

 

Galatea gathered up Ursula's hand again and brought it inches away from her mouth. "Lesson two," she cooed. Ursula jumped at the sudden burning breeze of her breath. "Inner gel," Galatea said and popped Ursula's hand in her mouth with a meowing nee-yum!

 

Ursula swooned but lurched forward into Galatea's awaiting lap as Galatea swallowed her arm up to the elbow. "My God," she cried from the confines of Galatea's cavernous cleavage. "My God, how does Dee take it?" Galatea's throat relaxed and Ursula's arm popped free. Ursula snuggled into Galatea's smooth, cool surface. "How does he stand it?"

 

"He stands tall, proud, and, mm, hard," Galatea said. "You didn't like it?"

 

"It was so warm and strong, I just…" She gulped, cheeks and neck flushed in crimson. "I can't believe I'm saying this, but I can't imagine what it would be like to stick a dick in there."

 

"Oh? Wanna find out?"

 

Ursula bolted, causing a gel-quake. "Say what?"

 

"I'll save that for lesson five," Galatea said, arching an eyebrow.

 

"You're joking, right?" Ursula laughter developed a nervous edge as she peeled herself out of Galatea's lap and back onto the bed.

 

"We'll see." Galatea grabbed Ursula's hand again. "Ready for lesson three?"

 

"Um. No?"

 

"That's nice." Galatea pressed Ursula's hand into the gel of her tummy and pushed it down. "Lesson three." The goth and the goo girl watched their entwined hands creep over the delta above Galatea's sex. "Nectar," Galatea murmured and eased two of Ursula's fingertips into her pussy, her eyes roving over Ursula in eager triumph.

 

A few moments later, Ursula said, "Hm."

 

Galatea's brow crinkled in confusion. "'Hm?' No fainting? Not even a 'wow'?" She let go of Ursula's hand.

 

"Don't worry," Ursula said, slipping her fingers in further, "I'm definitely wowing on the inside." She moved her thumb in quick little circles over Galatea's clitoris, making her shudder. "But this lesson I already know. I'm damn well versed, in fact," she added, and got down to business.

 

"Wow!" Galatea splashed down onto the bed, writhing and melting. Ursula leaned in and dropped her lips delicately down, replacing her thumb over Galatea's clit. "Oh, wow!" Ursula's thumb arced below Galatea's sex and probed the tender gel beneath. "Oh, fuck, wow!"

 

 

Ursula swayed on her knees as she caressed and kissed, coddled and invaded.

 

"What's happening?" Galatea whimpered. "What are you doing?"

 

Ursula's head peeped over the trembling curves of Galatea's calves. She wore a mustache and goatee of glimmering green nectar, grinning like her own evil twin from an alternative universe. "It's called the Venus Butterfly."

 

"A Technique?" Galatea demanded, dumbfounded. "You are using a Technique on me?"

 

"Half of one." Ursula rocked forward onto her elbows, her rump bobbing high in the air and her milk-white, elfin face descending below the verdant swell of Galatea's cleft. "For a proper Venus Buttery, my thumb would go up in here—"

 

"Ah."

 

"—my middle and ring fingers would go down in there—"

 

"Yah!"

 

"—and my tongue, well my tongue would go—hmmph, hmm, mm."

 

"Ooh, fuck!" Galatea chewed on a fist to muffle a scream and then begged, "Enough. Enough!"

 

Ursula scuttled back. "Don't you want to cum?"

 

Galatea burbled, "Look at yourself, girl."

 

"Huh?" Ursula looked down to find herself green and dripping from chin to bellybutton. "Whoa."

 

Galatea rose from the sodden quilt. "Can your inner Martha cope?"

 

"She's a bigger dyke than me," Ursula said, daubing a dollop of green honey off her left breast and rubbing it between her fingers. "That was well worth the mess. And you got so hot! Like paraffin wax, but delicious."

 

"Delicious?" Galatea repeated, wobbling past the vanity and through the bedroom door.

 

"Yeah," Ursula called out, licking her fingers. "It's like a combination of my two favorite flavors. When I was a kid, I loved this candy called Sweet-Tarts. Ate so many my tongue would bleed."

 

"And the other flavor?" came Galatea's voice down the hallway crowded with oil paintings in antique frames.

 

"Pussy, of course!"

 

Ursula heard Galatea laugh, followed by a loud grinding. "Dee can't say words like 'pussy' or 'cum'," Galatea said over the mechanical noise. "He just goes, 'Um, you know.'"

 

Ursula feasted on the nectar cooling on her body. "Yeah, I know he does," she said, her mouth full of sticky fingers.

 

"What?"

 

"Nothing. Why do you keep comparing me to Dee? And what's that noise?"

 

"Your ice maker," Galatea said as the grinding wound down. "And Dee's the only other person I know besides you." She spoke as if her mouth were full of pretzels. "Anyway, oo' were 'ucky to get to fird base wiff'out second degree burns. I've got to cool down for leff'on four."

 

Ursula's eyes widened in alarm. "We're still doing the lessons? I thought we settled those."

 

"Hell no, girl." Galatea marched back into the bedroom, her surface tension solid but shimmying from the cold, a living statute of green tourmaline crystal. "You may think you're little Miss Thing with your Venus Butterfly Technique, but you’re in the big leagues now, this is a five-round fight, and you have no idea what you've gotten yourself into."

 

Ursula boggled at Galatea as the green girl drew herself up to her favorite height of seven feet, her fists pressed to her hips, at the foot of the bed. Something complicated happened inside her neck. "'Yeah, I know he does,'" Galatea mocked in a perfect impersonation of Ursula's voice, her eyes narrowing into predatory slits.

 

"Wait a minute." Ursula sat up. "Fight? What fight?"

 

Galatea leveled an outstretched arm, ignoring her. "Lesson four—"

 

"Wait a minute!" Ursula yelped, her eyes squeezed shut, hands upraised and waggling like mad. Something cool and soft brushed across the fingertips of her right hand, slithered down her fingers, tickled her palm, and stuck to the pad of her thumb. "Huh?" She peeped open one eye.

 

A fluorescent lime green coating gloved her right hand, shining in the mellow glow of the twin Tiffany lamps on her vanity and bedside table. Ursula curled her fingers and felt the stuff resist but flow with the movement. She made a fist and it filled out into a perfect green sphere. She flexed and fanned her fingers out and the coating snapped back into a skin-tight glove. The lamplight refracted in dozens of translucent filaments that traced through the air from the tips of her fingers and lead back to Galatea's outstretched arm. "What the Hell?"

 

"Lesson four: advanced surface tension," Galatea said with a goofy smile and shrug. Ursula felt the gentle force of the shrug travel through the filaments connecting them, giving her hand a snug, squeezing tug, raising gooseflesh over her arms and neck. "How does that feel?"

 

Ursula rubbed her gloved fingers together. They squeaked. "Like liquid satin, fluid but not gooey."

 

"Not that…"

 

Beads of gel pulsed down the filaments, glommed onto Ursula's fingertips, and rolled down her hand. The glove grew, swallowing her forearm like a hungry lover, electrifying her flesh.

 

"…This," Galatea said, shrugging and tugging as the glove slunk around Ursula's elbow and clamped down more tight and clingy than any garment or stocking Ursula had ever worn. It was as pliant and sensuous as it was confining and terrifying. Ursula could only blush, stutter and squirm her hips.

 

 

"Very interesting," Galatea drawled, and Ursula's blush burned brighter. "Well, then." Galatea leaned close, reaching out. "Let's get started."

 

Ursula started to protest but Galatea's questing hand stretched past her, drawing Ursula's enveloped arm back with it. She stared at the fun-house mirror reflection her flushed face cast in the sleek substance of Galatea's arm shining like lime-tinted chrome. She did not notice Galatea flow silently forward until the green girl spoke again. "Well, what do ya know?"

 

Ursula sat up straight and the two girls bumped noses. Galatea's attention was focused on something behind her, her goofy smile sharpening into a wicked grin, her nose bobbling like Samantha Stephen's as she cast a spell on her hapless husband Darrin, her breath perfumed with the scent of green-apple flavored Sweet-Tarts. The smell is precisely perfect, Ursula realized, her mouth watering and mind flooding with awkward girlhood memories. She must be doing it on purpose. Again her dignity nearly surfaced but she heard a familiar clinking behind her. "Looky what I found," Galatea taunted.

 

Ursula's stomach flopped but her sex throbbed, and she turned to follow Galatea's gaze. The green girl's thumb hooked into a wide iron ring, the last loop on a short chain soldered onto the bedpost. "What's this for, hmm?" Galatea asked, clinking the chain. "Martha Stewart living? Somehow I doubt it."

 

Galatea wrapped the cobweb-thin, carbon-steel strong filaments trailing from her fingers around and around the short length of chain, pulling Ursula's arm higher, farther back, and straighter with each twist. Ursula's vision doubled, then swam. "Galatea," she whispered, and it was the sound of her own voice that made her eyes brim over and spill their tears. She heard the voice of a shrimpy, pudgy preteen who chewed on hard candy until it hurt after sneaking behind the gym equipment shed during recess to coax lingering kisses from popular girls, only to be sneered at when she dared greet them in the school hallway. "Galatea, you win, you win."

 

The living glove swallowed her arm almost to the shoulder, its icy-hot grip tickling the skin right below Ursula's armpit. "Hm?" Galatea murmured as she cocooned the bedpost chain in a growing lozenge of green chrome, a giant Sweet-Tart.

 

"You win."

 

"No, kiddo," Galatea said before stage whispering to the green disc. "You got her?"

 

With a quick metallic sigh the disc morphed into a miniature Galatea, legs wrapped around the iron bedpost like Stripper Barbie humping a flagpole, her teensy hands seizing bundles of the green tendrils trussing up Ursula's arm. "Oh, I got her," Sweet-Tart smirked. A surge of chromed gel pulsed down the sturdy webbing and the smooching, pinching, liquid velvet of the hungry glove swarmed over Ursula's shoulder and into her armpit. "Thanks for the extra nanomek," Sweet-Tart said over Ursula's barks of mad laughter.

 

"You win!" Ursula cried. "I'll leave Dee alone, I swear!"

 

"No, kiddo," Galatea repeated and sidled to Ursula's left. She fished the second bedpost's chain out of the lace canopy. "The safe word is 'Pygmalion,' not 'you win'."

 

She took the chain into her mouth and sucked on it like a lollipop. Even through the tingling, tickle-torture from Sweet-Tart, Ursula named another childhood candy favorite. Charm's Blow-Pop. The chain popped out of Galatea's mouth encased in a candy-apple green sphere. The sphere cracked open and morphed into another doll-sized Galatea. "You heard the woman," Blow-Bop huffed, loping up the chain and planting herself on the bedpost, "the safe-word is 'Pygmalion'…Well?"

 

Ursula blushed hotter than she thought possible. Already dizzy and giddy from the assault on her arm, the miasma of sensation threatened to drown her. Just as her body was choosing between falling faint or throwing up, her dignity finally surfaced and told her exactly what she needed to do. She clamped her mouth shut, squirming but dead silent, her eyes sparkling with tears and mischief.

 

The original, queen-size Galatea just smiled and moved to a third bedpost at the foot of the bed, but Blow-Pop crowed in triumph. "Now we're talkin'!" She punched her arms out, fingers curled in a peculiar but familiar hooked horn gesture. "Thwip!"

 

 

Skeins of spun sugar sped from the little green girl's fingertips and lashed about Ursula's left wrist. "Ooh," Blow-Pop purred as the webbing raveled around the trembling hand, "you're just so dainty, so darling, solid but so subtle, so different…I want it." She reeled in her net of green silk, dragging Ursula's arm toward the bedpost. "Gimme, gimme," she giggled. "Got it!" Blow-Pop furled into a sphere around Ursula's hand and a lazy river of satiny, molten candy trickled down her forearm.

 

The tickling under Ursula's right arm melted away into a lingering squeeze. She felt a feather light caress in the hollow of her right collar bone. "How do you want it?" Sweet-Tart asked.

 

Her arms trussed wide, Ursula managed to tip her head. "Huh?"

 

"Do you want it warm…" Sweet-Tart asked, and suddenly Ursula's arm was bathed in a luxurious heat. Ursula sighed. "…or cold?" Ursula shrieked as the green sleeve iced over.

 

"Warm! Warm, please!" Heated green gel surged down both her arms and melted together into a sultry collar around her neck before inching down her back, rubbing and soothing. "Oh, that's wonderful."

 

The hot gel crawled up over ribs. "Warm? Here too?" Sweet-Tart asked as the living suit lapped around the curves of Ursula's breasts.

 

Ursula gulped. "I…I don't know." The gel rolled up and over her sensitive skin. "Ooh, yes, warm, definitely, yes."

 

"So this is what a solid girl's nipples feel like," Sweet-Tart mused. Points of pressure dimpled the gel covering the gentle but wide rise of Ursula's breasts, like pinches from the Invisible Man. "So much bigger and stiffer than Dee's—ha, there's something I'd never thought I'd say."

 

"Oh, ha, ha—Ah! Not that rough, please!" Ursula squeaked, chest heaving.

 

"Shit, sorry." The dance of dimples disappeared. "Hm. Pfft, what am I thinking, I've got an expert. What do you do?"

 

"What do I do?"

 

"When you get past second base for the first time with another woman," Sweet-Tart said.

 

"You know," said the queen-sized Galatea at the foot of the bed, "we were starting to feel left out of all the fun." Two more miniature green girls, dangling from the bedposts near Ursula's feet, crossed their arms in identical gestures of impatience, using the loops of chain as stirrups to keep themselves steady. "But I really wanna hear this."

 

"Yeah," her tiny twins echoed.

 

"The very first time," Ursula said, trying to concentrate as the clutching gel cupped the small of her back and nestled into the plane of her abdomen below her ribcage, "I'm gentle and slow, because you never know. I kiss her areola into my mouth, my open mouth, and then I—"

 

"Like this?" Sweet-Tart interrupted. The gel crowning Ursula's breasts plumped and rippled for a long moment, sparking the electric current connecting her chest to her bellybutton that always ran whenever her nipples were over-stimulated.

 

"Yes," she stuttered as the current ebbed, "but not, um, both at once like that."

 

"Well, duh," Sweet-Tart said.

 

"Shut up," full-sized Galatea said as her flanking twins leaned in and chorused, "Go on."

 

"I kiss her areola into my open mouth," Ursula whispered, "and press her nipple to the roof of my mouth with my tongue two, three times, a baby's suckle really—Oh, God, yes, just like that." The green body glove puddled into Ursula's bellybutton and pressed a finger between the globes of her ass. The electric current became a live wire. "Mm, ngh, not so long, not so long without stopping." The live wire turned white hot. "Please…please…"

 

"That's funny," Sweet-Tart said, "because I was wondering how it would also feel here…"

 

"Oh, oh God."

 

"…and under there and there…"

 

"W-wait, please…"

 

"…and then everywhere at once…"

 

Ursula arched her back, locked her legs, and whipped her head back and forth just once before collapsing her weight against the elastic green gel supporting her shoulders.

 

"What the Hell was that?" Sweet-Tart marveled.

 

"Breast orgasm," Ursula breathed. "For me, very sharp, really fast, and fucking hard. I can only do it after lots of over-stimulation, so it actually kind of hurts—"

 

"Do it again!"

 

"Pygmalion!"

 

 

"Aw, okay." Sweet-Tart scissored her legs around the bedpost, working the strands of gel stretching from her fingers as if playing a very complicated game of Cat's Cradle. "Your whole body changes after you cum, did you know that? Your skin gets even softer and smoother." She wiggled her fingers and green gel roiled across Ursula's rounded belly in tandem, pinching and pushing in waves. "Fuzzier and sleeker." She sucked a few candied strands into her mouth. "And the taste—"

 

Ursula heard a wordless screech of frustrated rage from the foot of the bed. The teeny twin of Galatea dangling from the left bedpost raked her spiky pixie-cut mane—Pixie stix, Ursula decided—until it looked like a nest of pine needles. "Shut up!" she cried. "Shut up, shut up, shut up! I can't take it any more!" Pixie-stix Galatea hooked her feet into a loop of chain and dove headfirst for Ursula's foot. "Lemme at her!"

 

Uncontrollable laughter racked Ursula's body as Pixie-stix Galatea dug doll-sized fingers into the sole of her foot for purchase while growling and gnawing on the goth girl's ticklish toes. The gel slathering her from neck to belly shimmered and fixed into an adamant candy coating, freezing Ursula in mid-convulsion. Molded to every millimeter of her musculature, her candied prison buoyed and supported her body in exquisite, comfortable immobility that somehow magnified every twinge and twitch of her toes a hundredfold. Her laughter cycled up into a wolf-cub howl. Ursula kicked like a chorus girl, her leg pivoting past vertical—"Damn, girl," queen-sized Galatea whistled, "you could kick a Rockette in the freakin' face."—but Pixie-stix Galatea stretched and followed, a rubber snake, her legs glued to the bedpost and her worrying mouth vacuum-sealed against Ursula's foot.

 

Ursula's leg hurtled downward and splattered Pixie-stix Galatea against the mattress, the force of the blow spreading the little green girl's malleable gel-flesh around Ursula's foot like a slipper. "Works for me," Pixie-stix Galatea muttered. She melted into a sheer, glossy stocking, one end knotted about the bedpost and the other swirling up over Ursula's buttery calf. The body glove holding her captive relaxed, allowing Ursula to sag, sway, and catch her breath.

 

"Oh, no," said the fourth miniaturized Galatea, hunkering down into the loops of chain on the bottom-right bedpost. The jelly stocking that was once Pixie-stix Galatea glided up and over Ursula's left knee in smug silence. "There is no fucking way you're grabbing that awesome ass without me." She squeezed herself into a dense ball the color of food additive Green Dye #3. Ursula's sensory-overloaded, oxygen-starved brain danced with green M&Ms and sugary jaw-breakers until the green ball spewed jets of gluey resin, enveloping her right leg in an instant, crushing hug.

 

"Hold it," queen-sized Galatea commanded, and the gel on her legs set firm like a pair of lime green, vinyl thigh-high boots. "Upsy daisy." Ursula was hoisted into the air, the glop binding her limbs taking up slack until she bobbled a foot above the mattress. She rolled her shoulders and scissor-kicked her legs and felt nothing but bouncing gel.

 

Ursula cooed and sighed in her floating prison. The frozen moment stretched long. She blinked and rocked her head up. Galatea stood, arms folded over her breasts, mouth curled into a triumphant grin of sharp sickles. Ursula started, "What—" but Galatea whispered, "Now," and gel swept in from all four corners—across and through her inner thighs, down and over her pubis, up and around her ass—to tickle, burn, freeze, pinch, prod and squeeze Ursula's pussy.

 

"'Venus Butterfly,'" Galatea clucked over Ursula's screams of mindless delight. "Pfft. Amateur."

 

Suspended in the air and coated neck-to-toe, Ursula's sensorial world focused on her ravaged sex. She felt an impossibly large gulf between her legs, swollen and agape. "Fuck me, Galatea," she begged, her hips and abdomen trembling and relaxing in plateaus of increasing tension. "Fuck me, fuck me."

 

Galatea surged to the side of the bed and filled Ursula's mouth with the sweet, tart, citrus honey of her searing kiss. Ursula moaned and bit, drank and swallowed until her lips brimmed over. The fiery nectar trickled down her chin and dripped onto her neck. The gel-suit sucked it down, took up the kiss, and spread its urgent suction over every inch of Ursula's skin. When the kiss reached her clit she came, hard and abrupt, tension releasing in sudden, fierce waves. "Please," Ursula whimpered into Galatea's molten mouth. The void between her legs seemed to yawn empty and wide. "Fuck me. Fill me."

 

Galatea reached down. Her hand merged with the green suit assaulting Ursula's sex. Slicked with Galatea's and Ursula's own honey, Galatea's fingers drove deep into Ursula's pussy, fluxing but firm. Their body-kiss never broke, and Ursula flew.

 


 

Ursula luxuriated in her body glove, rocking and recovering. "So that was lesson four," she pondered. "Just lesson four?"

 

Galatea sat at the vanity, staring as Ursula bopped up and down. "Yep."

 

Ursula watched Galatea watch her. "What are you looking at?"

 

"Your ass," Galatea said, unabashed.

 

Ursula chuckled. "It’s my best feature."

 

"It's spectacular," Galatea agreed. "I want to borrow it. Copy it, I mean. Do you mind?"

 

"Friends are supposed to borrow each other clothes, not body parts."

 

"You're doing both right now," Galatea pointed out, then blushed dark. "Thank you for calling me your friend," she murmured and turned away. "It means a lot."

 

"You sound lonely," Ursula said. She waited for Galatea to say something but gave up as the silence lingered and asked, "Where's Dee?"

 

"Out," Galatea grumped, "getting his brains fucked out."

 

"Oh, Galatea," Ursula gasped, "I'm so sorry. Are you sure? That's so unlike Dee."

 

Galatea whipped around, eyes narrowed and sparkling wet. "I'm sure."

 

"That jackass," Ursula hissed.

 

"Yeah." Galatea boiled off the vanity bench and paced the room "Yeah! Imagine! He's out there…" She threw her hands in the air. "…Somewhere, letting me fuck him as much as I want when he knows perfectly well the rest of me ain't getting any!"

 

Ursula rocked in thoughtful silence. "You know," she said after awhile, "if we are going to commiserate about our love lives like proper girlfriends, you are going to have to explain the basic physics of yours."

 

Galatea paused mid-oozing-stride. "I thought you knew all that stuff."

 

"How would I?"

 

"I dunno," Galatea said, pacing again. "Magic? You're the damn witch. How did you know my name?"

 

"I heard Dee shout it once," Ursula admitted.

 

Galatea froze. "Say what?"

 

"'What's my fucking name?'" Ursula mock-screeched, then dropped her voice a few octaves: "'Galatea!'"

 

Galatea glared, gemmed eyes aflame.

 

"I'm not spying on you," Ursula insisted. "You two are the loudest lovers I've ever heard. Everyone on the second floor can hear you."

 

Galatea giggled.

 

"Viggo said he purchased some 'acoustic full-spectrum noise-canceling ear-speakers,' whatever the Hell those are, so he can play his video games in peace."

 

Galatea clapped her hands over her mouth but the giggles shot oscillating spikes through her jellied fingers and down her arms.

 

"He said, 'I heard them break their fucking bed, I swear to God'."

 

Galatea rocked back and fell on her rubbery rump. When she thought Galatea's silent giggle-seizure died down, Ursula asked, "Still with me?"

 

"Yeah," Galatea said, sitting up. "But I hate answering questions; I get way too many from Dee as it is." She stood. "I follow this rule that always shuts him up."

 

"What rule?"

 

"Show," Galatea declared, swaying her Ursula-inspired ass over to the bed, "don't tell."

 

"Good rule," Ursula agreed. She caught a glimpse of Galatea's saber-toothed grin and her eyes bugged in sudden realization. "Oh, shit: Lesson Five."

 

"Mm-hmm," Galatea hummed, nodding and leaning close.

 

 

"Wait," Ursula said. Galatea sighed theatrically and plopped her chin between Ursula's breasts. "I want the lesson," Ursula insisted, "but there's something I want to do first."

 

Springy daggers of lime-colored hair drummed on Ursula's forehead like impatient fingers. "What's up?" Galatea asked.

 

Ursula pulled at her elastic restraints. "I've been dying to see what I look like in this. In you. Can I walk over to the mirror? Then you can Lesson Five me all night if you want."

 

The bodysuit slackened its hold on the bedposts and Ursula drifted down onto the mattress. "It's a deal," Galatea said, standing up straight, chin stretching as it tore away from the gel coating Ursula's chest, "but I will have to go back sooner rather than later. Dee won't be gone much longer, and there's no way I'm ever going to let myself fuck him again unless I'm there too."

 

Ursula alighted upon the mattress. "I almost understood that." She felt a gentle gush down her arms and legs as the gel glued to the bedposts gave up the ghost and glissaded into the rest of the bodysuit. "Oh, that was yummy."

 

"Likewise, I'm sure," Galatea said, stepping back.

 

Ursula sat up, swung her legs over the edge of the bed—and collapsed, mewling.

 

Galatea loomed over her again. "What happened? Are you okay?"

 

Ursula rolled over onto her stomach. "You mean—ah, God—" Her hips pumped and gyred over the mattress. "You mean you don't know?"

 

"No, you're wearing a discrete me," Galatea explained. Ursula moaned, pushed a gel-gloved hand into her bed-humping crotch, and Galatea added, "Maybe 'discrete' isn't the best word. What's going on?"

 

"Can't talk," Ursula murmured, her hips juddering against her hand, "getting off. God, I'm so wet. The suit, it's so damn slick…"

 

The goth girl waggled her middle finger against her clit in furious little circles. Galatea blushed, feeling more surprised and shocked from being embarrassed than from watching Ursula masturbate. "I'm sorta superlubricative," Galatea mumbled.

 

Ursula shuddered one final time and sunk into the quilt. "If I lie still, I think it'll stop."

 

Curiosity overcame embarrassment. "What'll stop?"

 

Ursula did not even risk turning her head to one side. "The suit," she muttered into the quilt. "It moves when I move, but it keeps moving, slipping and sliding all over me but still hugging me really tight, like a, like a—fuck, it's like nothing else I've ever felt, but it's amazing. Too amazing. Another orgasm like that and I'll go into cardiac arrest…Can you talk to it? Her? You know, the suit?"

 

"Sure." Galatea shrugged. "Just as you can, and a few other ways, like bursts of short-wave electromagnetic radiation or aerosolized nanopackets or whatever, but I'm sure she's listening aurally, too, in case you say the safe word."

 

"Dee would never cheat on you," Ursula said after a long pause. "You are the great love of his life."

 

"Really?" Galatea bubbled.

 

"You've got a vocabulary more technical than his—I haven't understood half of anything you've said—and you've got tits as big as your head. It's like you were made for him."

 

Galatea's voice iced over. "Is it now?"

 

"Damn," Ursula said, "I'm sorry I insulted you. You really were made for him, weren’t you?"

 

"I wasn't made for him." Galatea wrung her hands into a fused ball. "He made me."

 

Ursula slowly turned her head to watch Galatea pace the room. "Like Pygmalion?"

 

Galatea dropped down onto the vanity bench. It disappeared inside her gelatinous translucent bulk. "No," she said, staring at her dappled reflection in the antique mirror, "nothing like Pygmalion. I looked the myth up on the Internet. In one version, Pygmalion jerks himself off between the statue's legs, did you know that? He'd talk to it and even buy it dinner and presents first, but then he'd dry hump it—when it was just a statue, just a thing. He was so pathetic that Aphrodite brought the statue to life. Love took pity on Pygmalion, you understand?"

 

"Yes," Ursula answered. "The uncensored version of the story always creeped me out a little, honestly."

 

"Well," said Galatea, lost in reflection, "Dee didn't do that. He made me, but I chose him." She shrugged and turned around. "So don't you dare pity me. Got it?"

 

"Got it," Ursula nodded. "Hey, the suit didn't move. I think she's listening. Maybe she's as pissed at me as you are."

 

"I doubt it," Galatea said, then laughed. "I mean, I'm not pissed off at all. Having a girlfriend to talk to is awesome. So get up and shake that thing already."

 

Ursula arose. "Mm, she's still the kinkiest thing I've ever worn, but I can move without cumming now." She took a few tentative steps. "Ooh, damn." She strode around the bed, her hips rolling in a liquid rhythm. "But I can still think of nothing but sex…Galatea, stop staring at my ass."

 

"Stop moving it like that," Galatea said.

 

"Like what?"

 

Galatea detached herself from the vanity bench and oozed aside. "Check us out."

 

Ursula sashayed up to the vanity, ogling her own reflection. "Holy shit." The sepia tones of the mirror could not dull the electric effect the bodysuit had on her figure. Ursula gleamed, a lime green fetish queen, every curve, bump, and line standing out in stark, polished relief. "I look more naked now than I do when I'm really naked." She rocked her ass toward the mirror and whistled. "Not bad."

 

"It's a-frickin'-mazing," Galatea said, moving in toward the mirror to get a better view, "but then I'm an ass-man."

 

"Oh, ha, ha," Ursula said, turning the other cheek and swinging her pigtails. "I love how she doesn't stick to my hair."

 

"I'm serious. I love to play with his dick, but I'm always staring at Dee's ass."

 

"So are half the women at the office," Ursula said dryly, but jolted into the air when Galatea screamed.

 

"I knew it!" Galatea jammed her fists through her temples. "He's such a clueless idiot. He says he hasn't had a date in over a year."

 

"He hasn't," Ursula said, shying away. "That is, he hasn't asked anyone out in over a year."

 

"Dee? Ask a woman out?" Galatea raged. "Oh, no, of course he wouldn't. That's too obvious for him to even consider. He just hangs out waiting for someone to jump him."

 

"That's Dee, alright." Ursula shifted her weight from one foot to the other.

 

"Well," Galatea muttered darkly, "if he keeps that up he's not going to have to wait much longer."

 

"Huh?" Ursula said, shifting her weight back.

 

"Never mind. Why are you…squirming…like that?"

 

"I'm sorry, Galatea, it just feels too damn good." Ursula ran her hands down the inside of her thighs. The bodysuit squeaked. "I don't want to talk about boyfriends right now."

 

Galatea broke into a sweat watching Ursula wriggle. "You're, ah, putting on quite a show there."

 

"I know," Ursula giggled and sauntered around Galatea. "Every move I make pulls the whole suit across my body." She reached high before curling her arms down to hug her shoulders in one lurid, languid motion as she strutted her stuff in a lazy circle. "I just take a breath and the suit kisses me…everywhere." She scraped her lips down her gel-coated forearm. "I wish I could kiss her back." She sucked on her gloved fingers. "I wish I could kiss her back everywhere…Hey, what's happening? Where's she going?"

 

The bodysuit dissolved into a growing green puddle on the floor, leaving Ursula naked and dripping fat droplets of green nectar.

 

"I think you really turned her on," Galatea said. Her hair started to drip like melting icicles. "Hell, I got turned on just by watching you two go at it."

 

"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." Ursula pouted. "And I could've done that all night. Hell, I'd've locked myself in my apartment and never come out. Did she like it?"

 

The puddle raced away from Ursula in a citrine stream. "I'll remember soon enough," Galatea said as the stream ran up her legs and slurped into her core. Galatea stood still for a moment, then blushed black as night. "Wow." She backpedaled until she crashed like ocean surf against the bedroom wall. "Oh, fuck, wow."

 

"Does that mean she liked it?"

 

"I liked it," Galatea gulped, her voice dreamy and low. "I fuckin' loved it."

 

Ursula grinned and bit her thumb. "What was it like?"

 

"Like been carried, cradled." Galatea's body slipped down the wall into a sticky huddle on the floor. "It was…total surrender."

 

"I don't understand."

 

"Whenever I speak," Galatea said, "whenever I move, when I do anything, it burns some nanomek. It costs me magic," Galatea explained when she saw Ursula's puzzled expression. "I've got a lot of…magic…but I'm spending it all the time, and if I ever really run out, I'm probably gone for good."

 

Ursula thought it over. "How do you recharge, then, by ancestral ceremony? Sacrificial rite? Invocation of the gods? Abjuration of angels?"

 

"Uh, something like that; I go and fuck Dee's brains out."

 

Ursula bit her lip but Galatea could see the laughter in her eyes. "That explains a lot," Ursula said when she caught her breath. "But what does that have to do with me?"

 

"When you were wearing me, and I held still while you moved, I didn't burn any magic." Galatea's eyes slid closed as she clutched at her breast and started to ramble. "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…I came, and came, and came apart."

 

Galatea pulled her gluey eyes open. Ursula stood stark naked before her, face flushed, lips wetted and parted. "Galatea…"

 

"I could use some ice," Galatea said, her tremulous tone on the verge of hysterics. "You want some ice?" She squelched toward the bedroom door, leaving a wake of frosted mint icing. "I think I'll go get some ice."

 

 

Ursula flopped onto fluffy, green-stained quilt. "It's the story of my life," she groaned. "After years of searching and hoping and waiting, I finally experience my first supernatural encounter. The sex is amazing, but she turns out to be only bi-curious."

 

Galatea turned in the doorway, her frown pensive and sympathetic. "Oh, Ursula, I'm sorry. Are you angry? You don't sound angry."

 

"It's okay," Ursula said, rolling onto her back, her legs dangling so her toes dusted the floor. "I'm used to it by now. Almost. But it would never work out between us anyway."

 

"Why not?" Galatea's brow crinkled in confusion for a second before Ursula kicked a dollop of green icing right between her eyes.

 

"You’re a slob," Ursula gibed, giggling until Galatea licked her eyebrows clean with a forking pair of tongues. "Damn, girl."

 

"I guess you won't be wanting lesson five then," Galatea said, her sibilants hissing long like a cartoon snake's.

 

"No need to be hasty," Ursula said, sitting up. "If the you out there fucking Dee is anything like the you in here fucking me, there's plenty of time."

 

Galatea harrumphed, "I need ice," and marched down the hallway.

 

"Just what are you doing here anyway?" Ursula hollered after her.

 

"I came for a catfight." The whirring clatter of the kitchen icemaker started up. "You know, like on those talk shows: 'Stay away from my man, you slut!' That sorta thing."

 

"What? Why?"

 

"Made perfect sense when I was plastered. Hm, outta ice. Do you have any in the freezer?" Ursula heard the freezer door clunk open. "Holy shit, look at all this crap! What's in all the Tupperware?"

 

Ursula scrunched her nose. "Soup. I'm on a kind of soup kick lately. Last month was vegetable and bisque. I've moved onto fruit."

 

A plastic top popped. "What's the frozen purple stuff?" Galatea asked.

 

"Probably borsht." Ursula rubbed the bridge of her nose with the palm of her hand. "Could be plum coulis."

 

Something thunked onto a countertop. "Any ingredients from SRU in either?"

 

"No." Ursula massaged the sinus pressure points below her eyes for a moment before perking up. "Hey, wait a minute. How did you know the name of my Internet wholesaler?"

 

"Educated guess." Ursula heard something slap and slop. "Guh—Woo!"

 

"What are you doing to my borsht?"

 

"Mm. It's the plum. And you don't wanna know."

 

Ursula shook her head, then cradled it in her hands. "Ow. Galatea, I don't know if I'm up for lesson five. I think I'm getting a sinus headache."

 

"It's not a sinus headache," Galatea's voice drifted over the sounds of Tupperware being resealed and restacked in the freezer. "Don't worry, though. It won't last long."

 

Ursula squeezed her temples. "But why did it start?"

 

"Because lesson five is starting." Galatea glided into the room, her green, frosty gel-flesh sporting a purple patina like the rind of an avocado. "And I'm permeating your blood-brain barrier."

 

Ursula gawked. "What? Why?"

 

Galatea affected a professorial cough. "Ahem. Lesson five: the mindfuck."

 

The pain ringing Ursula’s skull vanished into a heavy, beery buzz. She keeled to the left but propped herself up against an iron bedpost. "Oh, shit."

 

Galatea swooped in to stand a few feet from the foot of the bed, her starlit eyes dancing over Ursula’s face. "So that’s what getting drunk is supposed to feel like? I think I’ll stick with the green stuff."

 

The world wobbled worse when she shut her eyes so Ursula kept them peeled. She picked out her panicky reflection looking back at her from the vanity mirror on the other side of Galatea’s translucent, purple-green shoulder. "You can read my mind."

 

Galatea squinted, focusing her gaze somewhere directly behind Ursula’s nose. "No, not really. Just hindbrain echoes. You didn’t swallow enough nanomek, enough magic, I guess. Thirsty?"

 

“No,” Ursula said with a sloppy shrug. Galatea arched an eyebrow. Ursula blinked and swallowed. “Yes,” she choked out, clasping her throat. "Christ, yes."

 

Galatea smirked and pressed forward, pursing her gelid lips against Ursula’s right ear, her breasts brushing Ursula’s naked lap with a deliciously cool, powdery weight. "How thirsty?" she purred, the frozen floe of her breath skating down Ursula’s neck.

 

Ursula’s mouth worked but no words came out. Galatea shushed her, resting her chin or Ursula’s shoulder. Icicled hair skimmed her chest and back. "Don’t worry, little girl," Galatea whispered between quick freezing kisses on the curve of Ursula’s skull behind her ear. “You may still say 'Pygmalion.'" Galatea pried Ursula’s hand off the bedpost, slid it down her chilled gel-flesh and planted it on the slope of her ass. "If you want to."

 

Ursula trembled in silence.

 

 

"Good," Galatea said. She nudged Ursula prone onto the bed, spanning over the goth girl like a bridge of arctic ice. Ursula's trembling grew violent as she felt the slithery gel grow and expand beneath her hand. "Because you're so thirsty—and hungry now too, aren't you? Ah, but those words are too plain, too weak for what you're feeling now." Ursula shut her tearing eyes. "You feel emptied. Not in the way your pussy gets when you're desperately horny—the swollen, greedy pit between your legs. You feel…hollow with hunger." Galatea stretched higher until a nipple, purple as a plum and pearling with wine-dark nectar, brushed against Ursula's shivering lips just hard enough to splash a tiny drop of nectar between Ursula's parted teeth and onto her tongue.

 

 

Ursula’s eyes rolled back behind fluttering lids. Mindless and whimpering, she wrapped her arms around Galatea’s suspended back and dragged herself up. She latched onto the engorged nipple above her mouth, burying her head in Galatea's lush breast until jellied flesh clogged her ears and filled the world with her own pounding heartbeat and the taste of—

 

"'Ambrosia,'" Galatea sighed in Ursula's voice as Ursula drank, and drank, and drank. The word thrummed through the green girl's inner gel. "Promise you'll give me the recipe for your plum coulis after dinner, okay?"

 

Between swallows, Ursula went, "Mmf."

 

"No," Galatea chuckled, "for some reason I can't read or direct the part of your mind that cooks. Go figure. Maybe if you drank more, drank faster—Oh, oh my. You didn't need any h-help with that idea…"

 

"Mm," Ursula agreed, blush nectar dribbling down her chin. A few overeager swallows later and she fell back, her lips painted in pink-purple honey but her face scrunched in pain. "Nnf!"

 

"No," Galatea laughed again, "that's not me; I've opened enough ion channels already." She contracted her arcing back a bit to look Ursula in the eye. "It's just an ice cream headache. Relax." She patted Ursula on her gurgling belly. "Just relax and let me in your mind some more. All you need to do is trust me. You can trust me. I'll prove it. You can't speak, can you?"

 

Ursula opened her mouth but nothing came out so she shook her head. "Nnf."

 

"But you can say the safe word. Try it, if you wish. It won't count, this one time."

 

Ursula grinned. "Pygmalion."

 

Galatea returned her sweet smile. "So you trust me."

 

Ursula nodded and closed her eyes.

 

"Good. Headache gone? Good. Now relax." Ursula felt Galatea's heavy tits press against hers and drag slowly up her chest and neck, nipples weeping an icy trail of plum-and-citrus ambrosia across her skin. "And let me in some more." Unwilling to wait, Ursula heaved a breast to her lips and pressed the nipple against the roof of her mouth with her tongue until it expressed a trickle of ambrosia down her throat. "Mm, a little more." Ursula sucked the wide areola into her mouth and the trickle became a steady stream. "A, a l-little more."

 

Ursula reached up, snaked a hand over Galatea's stomach, and sank a couple of fingers into the green girl's pussy. Galatea's innermost gel was as molten as her ambrosia was frozen. Ursula pulled her fingers free, smeared the searing honey over their tips before running them over the lips of her own sex, never stopping the rhythm of her suckle.

 

"Oh, holy shit, yes," Galatea grunted. She slammed her gooey pelvis down. Ursula ground her sex up against it. The ice of Galatea's ambrosia and the fire of Galatea's pussy collided somewhere deep inside Ursula's body and being, churning until the boundaries between the sensations of cold and heat, the concepts of mind and body, and even the identities of "Ursula" and "Galatea" dissolved and lost all meaning to the goth girl, leaving nothing but the rush-and-gush of multiple orgasm. "Let me in a whole fucking lot more, and I'll mindfuck you straight into the fucking loony bin."

 


 

 

Ursula floated on air. "That was incredible."

 

"Did you cum?" Galatea asked.

 

"Well, duh, yeah," Ursula said, "but…"

 

"But what?"

 

"It's weird," Ursula reflected. "It was either the fastest, hardest orgasm I've ever had in my life, or a bunch of little climaxes that seemed to go on, I don't know, for about a hundred years. I can't tell which…"

 

"That's because it's still happening," Galatea said.

 

Ursula drifted closer. "What?"

 

"Look down, little girl."

 

Ursula swiveled her attention downward. The gauzy white top of her bed canopy hung a few feet below her. Dropping her focus down through the canopy lace, Ursula spied Galatea, the green girl with the proportions of a porn-starlet and the height of a pro-league basketball player, writhing on the mattress beneath. Galatea's translucent curves played optical tricks on the much paler, leaner, and shorter girl thrashing under them, making the girl's limbs appear almost as boneless and bendable as Galatea's own.

 

"Oh my God," Ursula said, "I've been fucked right out of my body."

 

"Sorta," said Galatea, her voice coming from somewhere between Ursula's ears, or where Ursula's ears would have been if her point of view still coincided with her eyes. "You've entered an ecstatic trance. You're much stronger than you give yourself credit for. There's some serious shamanic mojo in here."

 

"Where? Where are you?"

 

"Inside you."

 

"Where inside me?"

 

"Everywhere."

 

On the bed, Ursula's arms clasped Galatea's back tight enough to break the surface tension and sink into the glue of the green girl's inner gel. "Ooh," Galatea's disembodied voice murmured, "I'm so glad I taught you lesson two." Galatea's body on the bed threw back its head and howled. "I love the feel of something solid inside me."

 

Ursula hovered higher. "If we're down there," she said, "why are we also up here?"

 

"You and I need to have a little talk."

 

"Can't you just read my mind?"

 

"That's what I'm doing now," Galatea explained. "But you're too powerful for me to just take what I want."

 

Ursula followed her lead. "Well, what do you want to talk about?"

 

"Your soap, for a start. What does it do?"

 

"By itself, nothing," Ursula confessed. "But I always keep a little of the base left over from each batch I make, and I bathe with it, too, so I've got a sympathetic link to whoever uses it in case I need one. The law of contagion, you see, is a keystone force in sympathetic magic and I don't need to explain how magic works to a mind-reading, six foot tall girl made of green goo, do I?"

 

"Not really," Galatea admitted, "although I bet there's a lot you can teach me. I don't know how I know the things I know, but I must at least half-remember the things I don't know, because I know enough to know I don't know them, you know?"

 

"No."

 

"Oh. Besides, I'm six-foot-six, usually, thank you very much. Dee likes to look up into my eyes. Usually. Anyway," Galatea continued, "who've you given the soap to?"

 

"Let's see," Ursula said, ticking off the list with imaginary fingers, "Granddad, my mom and dad, my big brother—to keep tabs on them. Diane and Joy from work—Oh, and that girl who works at the Starbucks because she's got a great…uh, personality. And I tried to give some to Bee, because he worries me."

 

"Bee?"

 

Ursula nodded, or at least the focus of her vision bobbed up and down. "Your downstairs neighbor. Quiet guy, very intense. He wouldn't take any soap. Wow," Ursula added, distracted, "look at us down there. We're still cumming."

 

"Why did you offer Bee soap?"

 

"Like I said, I worry about him. Hasn't he complained about the racket you and Dee make yet? If I were your downstairs neighbor, I'd be calling the cops so I could get some sleep."

 

"Is that why you gave some to Dee?" Galatea asked, unfazed. "Because he worried you?"

 

"No," Ursula said. "Because Dee terrified me."

 

"Good," Galatea said. "But did you know why?"

 

"No," Ursula said again. "He's gabby, friendly, and utterly clueless. Most straight women I know think he's charming and disarming, but after a few months of waiting for him to make a move, they add 'frustrating' or 'infuriating' to the list."

 

"That's not terrifying," Galatea pointed out. "That's just geeky."

 

"True. On the night he set up my computer, I saw him disappear into his work. Have you ever seen Dee get worked up about something? Well, as he was assembling all the boards and wires and junk, he got this, this look, and at first I thought he was acting very quiet and intense—very Bee-like, actually—but then I noticed he wasn't the one getting quiet and intense, not really. It was the air around him, the room, and even the noise from outside. Hell, it was me. I was getting quiet and intense, just watching him make some dumb machine. If he were a girl I would've whacked off thinking about it when he left. No wonder some women at his office follow him around with their tongues hanging out. Galatea, you've never let me talk this long without making a joke or making me cum or something."

 

"Oh, I'm taking it out on your body, believe me," Galatea hissed, "It just had its fourth consecutive breast orgasm. But keep talking or I'll make you cum so hard you won't be able to sit in a chair for months."

 

"If more people released their aggression by making other people cum," Ursula observed, "I think the world would be a much better place. Have you ever mindfucked Dee?"

 

"Nope," Galatea snapped. "Can't."

 

"Why not?"

 

"His nanomek won't let me."

 

"You mean his magic won't let you," Ursula translated.

 

"Yeah," Galatea said, uncertain. "I guess I do."

 

"Then, if you ever see Dee work, you'll know what I mean. But that wasn't what scared me. When he was finished, he looked up, looked me straight in the eye and said, 'It is done.' And that's what terrified me. His voice…'It is done'…it was like a pronouncement from God. God, that sounds stupid."

 

"Not really," Galatea said, her disembodied voice managing to sound meek. "Not to me, anyway."

 

"I guess it wouldn't. So Dee declares, 'It is done,' and stalks out of the room. Literally stalks, a panther moving to its next kill—maybe to repair a hard drive or something. Whatever he does when he gets worked up."

 

"He writes," Galatea said, meeker still.

 

"Dee writes? He never mentions it when I talk about my poetry. "

 

Galatea's voice was so meek it could inherit the Earth. "He writes porn. On the Internet."

 

"Oh, Jesus, never mind. I don't want to know. Just let me finish. I never really planned on using the computer. I'd always hated the things. But Dee's performance was so melodramatic that not trying out the computer he made for me at least once would've been like shooting a puppy. So I sat down, started messing around on the Internet, and—bam!—I found SRU in under a minute. With the stuff from SRU, I was finally real witch. 'It is done,' he said, and it was. He did it. Dee made me a witch…and now he's made you, so I was right to be terrified, wasn't I?"

 

"Yes," Galatea said, sounding stronger, "but Dee didn't make you a witch, at least not in the same sense he made me. And he didn't make me, not exactly. And that's what we need to talk about. Dee and me."

 

"What about Dee and you?"

 

"Sooner or later we're going to get in trouble, serious trouble, and we're going to need your help."

 


 

Galatea glared at Dee's blender and wondered how it would feel to be pureed. "Prob'ly like getting blown apart by house music." She glanced at the kitchenette microwave's digital readout.

 

9:03 PM.

 

"God dammit," she said, hefting a half-filled jug of Nyquil onto the countertop. "This is the last of the green stuff."

 

The front door of Dee's apartment trembled as sheets of green icing sleeted through the cracks on all four sides of the doorframe. Galatea poked her head around the kitchenette's doorway, squinting. "Izzat me?"

 

The growing ziggurat of icing darkening the front door filled out fuller than Jane Mansfield.

 

"That's me," Galatea decided, and wobbled into the living room. "About damn time too. You were gone two freakin' hours. I thought we just wanted to scare Ursula. What were you doing all this time?"

 

"I'm sick and tired of eating pussy," the returning Galatea responded. "How's 'bout we flip a coin, and the loser has to morph into Dee and do whatever the winner wants?'"

 

Last time I saw you

We had just split in two.

You were looking at me,

I was looking at you.

You had a way so familiar,

But I could not recognize,

'Cause you had blood on your face;

I had blood in my eyes.

But I could swear by your expression

That the pain down in your soul

Was the same as the one down in mine.

 

—Hedwig and the Angry Inch,

The Origin of Love

 


 

Chapter Nine: Ask Me to Enter

 

"…God damn, woman," Yves was crying out, "how do you always do that?"

 

The morning sun threw strange shadows in the doorway. Ursula shrugged, opened the door wide and stepped aside. "Come into my parlor."

 

"Very funny," Yves grumbled, crossing the threshold and barging into Ursula's living room. "Oh, wait," he said, glancing at the antique French settee and matching oaken end tables, "this really is a parlor." He tapped a thoughtful rhythm on a lace covered tabletop. "Doilies, even."

 

Ursula stood in front of a glass display case full of porcelain dolls. "I've never invited you to tea?"

 

Yves eyes watered from the patchouli incense and a lemony, astringent smell lingering in the air. "You have," he said, blinking. "I've always had to RSVP in the negative for…varying reasons."

 

Ursula waved a hand at the homey clutter of her living room. "You think all of this is affectation."

 

Yves pursed his lip and whistled through his teeth a bit. He espied a purple kitchen glove poking out of Ursula's sweatpants pocket. "You don't have a cat," he eventually said. He folded his arms, a gesture both defiant and protective. "Rooms like this are supposed to have cats in them."

 

Ursula smirked. "Black cats?"

 

"Maine coon cats," Yves countered. "One named Alabaster and the other Fusspot. This isn't a witch's parlor. It's my grandmother's."

 

Ursula laughed hard enough to snort through her nose. The tension in Yves' shoulders melted and he folded himself onto the settee. "Sorry," he sighed, "it's been a long night."

 

"Fuck the tea," Ursula said, her smile warm, "what about a hot toddy?"

 

"Only if it's a coffee toddy and not warm milk. I'd pass out."

 

"I'll grind some beans," Ursula said. Her bunny slippers scuffed the floor as she moved into the kitchenette. "Any roast preference?"

 

"Ursula, the only coffee I have in my apartment is made from instant crystals."

 

"That would be a 'no,' yes?"

 

"Yes," Yves called, peering into the kitchenette before settling into the settee, one arm draped over his forehead.

 

The coffee grinder grumbled and an undercurrent of freshly ground coffee added to the complex, reeking bouquet in the air. "Quit trying to smother it," Yves said. "I know already."

 

Ursula stopped puttering in the kitchen. "Know what?"

 

"You had sex with Galatea."

 

Ursula stumbled out of the kitchen, tripping over bunny-ears. "How did you—"

 

Yves sat up. "You've taken the day off…to clean. You're taking excuses to use every classic masking scent in the book. And your bed linens are hung out to dry in your kitchen. Either Galatea's gotten busy in your bed or you broke your hooka and got bongwater everywhere."

 

"What are you," Ursula said, "Sherlock Holmes?"

 

"No. Holmes was bi."

 

Ursula stared for a second before scuttling back into the kitchenette. "I'm going to use more brandy."

 

"Good idea."

 


 

 

["…You’re a computer nerd, Dee, work it out…"]

 

The solitary nanogasm burst against Dee's inner thigh and vanished faster than a top quark in a particle accelerator, a split-second lightning kiss barely strong enough to trigger a single nerve ending in Dee's skin. The surface of the green serum filling the tub remained placid and dead. Dee closed his eyes, trying to remember the first time Galatea told him about nanogasm.

 

["…One sperm makes one nanomek replication…"]

 

"Please, Galatea," Dee prayed, his voice ringing and amplified by the porcelain tub, "come back to me if you can." The thin lime liquid stuck to the skin and congealed as it cooled, but Dee was caught in reverie, listening to Galatea's technobabble pillow-talk in his head, and felt no urge to wipe it away.

 

["…One replication gives me one nanogasm and produces two more nanomek—at least two, more if you really get 'em turned on…"]

 

A cluster of nanogasms trilled against his thigh in a sudden, brief salvo before the brackish bathwater fell inert again. Dee smiled, his eyes still shut. "I bet you thought I was going to say, 'but only if you want to.' What did you call me? 'Sensitive and enlightened and stuff.' Well, add 'selfish' to that list. I don't want you back only if you want to come back. I just want you, period."

 

["…which combined with three more sperm gives me three more nanogasms and produces six more nanomek, which gives me nine more nanogasms and, well…"]

 

The next flurry of nanogasms arrived quicker and stronger than before, zipping over Dee's skin like dozens of marching, happy, electric ants. The ripple-tickle-tingle abated, petering out like the last few superheated kernels of popping corn, before surging in a cascade of strengthening waves that thrilled Dee down to the bone. His eyes flew open and he cried out in uncontrollable laughter. "Galatea!"

 

["…after a few minutes of that I'll be back in shape…"]

 

The green syrup between his legs fizzed and radiated warmth in a room-temperature-but-rising boil. "I love you, Galatea! I—Whoa."

 

["…and hot and horny as Hell. Literally…"]

 

Thousands of nanogasms ran rampant into Dee's crotch.

 


 

"And after that," Ursula said, curled up in the wicker rocking chair across the parlor from the settee, her hands wrapped around an oversized, steaming mug of coffee Hot Toddy, "we talked."

 

Yves lounged on the settee. "Galatea sounds like the sort of person who hates to chat unless it's really, really important." His empty mug bounced on his stomach when he spoke. "So what did you two talk about?"

 

"Oh, this and that." Ursula slurped from the mug. "You know, girl talk."

 

"Uh-huh." Yves folded his arms behind his head. The mug on his belly wobbled. "Sure. Girl talk. So Galatea didn't tell you anything more about meliae?"

 

Ursula perked up. "About what?"

 

"Dee asked me to figure out what's going on, and I'd already gotten a few ideas on my own, but if I just had a little more information—"

 

"Wait," Ursula said, setting her half-full mug on the silver tea service. "What's this about meliae?"

 

Yves rolled onto his side to look at her, catching his mug as it fell and balancing it on his hip. "You don't know about meliae?"

 

Ursula sat back. "Sure I do. Nymphs of the ash tree, and pollen dust, I believe. Very sacred tree, the ash. Fermented ash sap is the most potent—"

 

"Dee said Galatea is a meliae," Yves interrupted, frowning. "He called her a 'honey nymph.'"

 

"Honey nymph? Really?" Ursula sat back up. "Interesting. A few texts mention 'honey nymph' meliae as the nursemaids of Zeus. I wonder…Yves, what's wrong? You've gone all white."

 

Yves' coffee mug toppled and smashed against the hardwood floor.

 

Ursula stood up. "Yves, what is it? What are you thinking?"

 

["…My girlfriend thinks I'm a god…"]

 

"I've just figured out what's going on," Yves said, his voice distant.

 

Ursula stared at the broken bits of mug. "Well, that's a good thing, isn't it?" She shifted her weight as if resisting the urge to scratch an annoying itch, her eyes never leaving the shattered pottery. "I'll just go get the dustpan, shall I?"

 

"I've just figured out what's going on," Yves repeated, his attention focused far away.

 

["…If Galatea thinks you’re a god, she makes you a god…"]

 

"And I don't think I can fucking stand it," he groaned, "at least not sober." Ursula bustled back into the parlor armed with a horsehair bristle dust mop and bronze dustpan. "Do you have any more mugs? I'd like more brandy—neat, if you please." Ursula bent over and swept. "Er, that's not what I meant," Yves stage whispered.

 

"No shit, Sherlock," Ursula mock-whispered back, her ass bobbing as she chased after the last pottery fragments as diligently as an archeology intern on a dig.

 

Yves eyes followed the orbit of Ursula's derriere through the air. "Damn," he whistled, "has anyone ever told you you've got an incredible—"

 

"Pygmalion!" Ursula growled.

 

"What?"

 

"That means shut up! The next person who mentions my ass is going to wear it for a hat, I swear."

 

 


 

 

Dee's fingers crunched through the porcelain lip of the bathtub like cracking an eggshell. Green syrup bulged through the fracture but held just enough tension on its surface to keep from spilling over. The electrifying gel pulsed and churned in his crotch, nanogasms redoubling. Dee trembled, groaned, and grew rock hard. "God, I wish I could see you, Galatea."

 

A dome of foam rose from the surface of the fizzing gel. Dee could see outlines form before the crackling bubbles of foam boiled them away. "No," he insisted, "don't. Don't burn away your nanomek for me like that. You must have so little left." The dome dissipated as the ambient temperature in the tub continued to rise, washing Dee head-to-toe in waves of increasing warmth. "It's like you once said. I want to see you, but I don't need to. I know you're there now. I should never have doubted it." The jade gel started to steam. "I want to be here for you, Galatea. And besides…" Fragments of porcelain fell to the floor as his right hand slipped under the viscous surface lapping against his ribs. "…I've never masturbated for you before." His grin was slick and sly. "Time for you to learn the Dee Technique."

 

The mirror above the bathroom sink fogged over in the suddenly sauna-hot air.

 

Dee pushed his hand through the pliant gelatin trembling around his cock. "It's an underhanded technique." He laughed. "I mean an underhand, not underhanded. Palm underneath, thumb on top, like this…starting with the shaft. Don't work the head until it's primed—Christ, I suck at this dirty talk stuff." His shoulder rolled in a rugged rhythm as his hand ranged over his cock. "And you're so fucking good at it, Galatea. Even listening to someone talk dirty in a porn flick used to embarrass me and turn me off. But you, Galatea…the way your eyes glint and flick to the left whenever you say 'fuck' or how you get a little cross-eyed whenever you talk about my dick." His shoulder started to jerk. "You think my neck is hot, you think I'm a breast man…but it's your eyes, Galatea." Dee's voice dropped to a whisper. "Your eyes…"

 

Dee kicked as he came, shearing off the tub's stainless steel faucet and shooting it across the room with his heel.

 

Dee arched and flexed, gasping. "Holy shit. I talked. I dirty-talked. I can't believe that I—"

 

A slurping suction threatened to raise a hickey over his entire body as the foam rolled back and compressed at his feet, giving Dee the fleeting impression of a maddened mare rearing to ready a berserk charge. Galatea erupted, fully formed and finely figured, from the sea green froth gathered at the end of the tub. Her jelled flesh shimmered and shown like the purest green amethyst as she clambered over him, her hair twisting and braiding in nesting knots, her eyes unfocused and incandescent with lust. Galatea gushed, "Neither can I now shut the fuck up," and soul-kissed him hard enough to implode a bowling ball.

 

Dee threw his arms around her, hooked his right leg over the perfect arc of her ass, and hauled her down over him. Her kiss became a smothering, traveling smooch as their bodies met. Dee swiveled his hips and drove his cock deep into her sex. Galatea threw her head back in a delirious scream that rattled Dee's teeth and shattered the glass mirror above the sink.

 


 

Yves lurched out of the closet, grow lamp in hand, knocking over a small hydroponic tank of marijuana plants in the process. "What the fuck was that?"

 

Ursula scuffed into the bedroom, belting down brandy from a narrow, crystal brandy glass. "That's just Galatea getting her magic back. Now you know what my life's been like these past few days—Oh, fuck, my pot!"

 

Yves, his eyes still wide in alarm, demanded, "You want me to what?"

 

Ursula wound her arm back to hurl the empty glass at him but just shook her head and rocked back on the balls of her bunny-slippered feet. "I want you to clean that shit up, asshole! That was going to be two months' rent!"

 


 

Dee got a brief glimpse of Galatea's cherubic, girlish face—Why does she look so young?—before her medusa's hair and eyes of burnished gemstone filled the world and her tart, honeyed tongue sought his again. He nuzzled and bit. She whickered into his mouth and rode him ragged. A thick cushion of gel buoyed Dee up to the middle of the tub. Dee shut his eyes tight and they fucked in freefall. The only resistance and weight was the slipping friction of flesh against flesh. The only sensation was Galatea's pussy sliding over his dick and the fervid, breathless French kiss that went on and on and on until the sweet sting of a second orgasm crashed through Dee and his cum poured into Galatea's core.

 

Her lips, still pressed over Dee's mouth, parted in a frenzied smile and three bubbling giggles escaped them: "Ah-hah, ah-hum, hm-mm." She tipped her head and kissed Dee slantwise. He heard a metallic sigh. The weight atop him shifted in a single, pulsing wave and the folds of Galatea's sex flowered around his mouth as her thighs sunk around his head. He felt her sultry breath bathe his crotch. With a guttural, mewling "Mrriiine," Galatea wrapped her pillow-soft hand around Dee's balls and sword-swallowed his prick up to the hilt. Her hips ground her pussy into his face and Galatea sixty-nined Dee toward a cataclysmic, third orgasm.

 

Galatea pulled off his cock just long enough to whine, "Cum for me, Dee," before clamping down again. Dee's eyes rolled over white as he felt the pressure build again. Still bobbing on a weightless, plush cushion, he reached out for purchase against the tub but his hands only met molten gel.

 

Citrus perfumed breath tickled the hair curling around his ear and a voice whimpered, "Cum for us, Dee."

 

 

Dee unglued his eyes and turned his head. Above him, Galatea keened, vibrating the cock buried in her throat, and shimmied to keep his lips and chin muzzled in her sex. Below him, the lathering gel in the tub had welled up and overflowed the cracked porcelain rim, soft and silent like a river of orchids, bearing Dee aloft and slowly spreading its kelly-colored cream across the tiled wall and linoleum floor. Galatea's keening dropped down into an impatient, thrumming growl and she pushed both her upper and nether lips hard against his flesh.

 

The gel beneath him sighed and shifted and took form. The swell of a heavy bossom pressed into his shoulders and neck. An hourglass waist arched into the small of his back. A pair of perfect jade legs rose and crossed in the air above his thighs, sandwiching his hips to Galatea's head. Delicate hands reached up from below his ears, hefted Galatea's squirming rump a fraction higher, and slid their fingers deep into her pussy. Above him, Galatea mewled and doubled her expert efforts on his dick, head bobbing merrily. Lush lips kissed Dee's ear and begged in Galatea's voice. "Cum for us, Dee."

 

Dee's third orgasm crested at last. He bowed upward as Galatea drank down another flood of his cum, chuckling and suckling, her rhythm unbroken. The shock of afterglow wracked him for only a second or two before the I-can-do-this-all-night sensation of primed glans returned. Dee pumped against Galatea's lips. Above him, Galatea mewled, shivered, and melted. Searing honey drizzled down from her pussy and spattered his cheek.

 

"Nay," said the Galatea cradling him from below, affecting a highland brogue. "Nay, boy; don' move. You feel so good we'll burn up and melt away if ye do." Dee almost laughed at the strange, sudden accent, but the sight of Galatea below prying and plunging her fingers into the sopping, steamy sex of the green girl hovering just a few inches above his eyes sealed his throat with something a little like awe but a lot more like Aw, fuck, yeah. "Don' move, boy," Galatea below said again, her fingers working. "Just cum. Come again!" The more she whispered, the more the impish, Scottish burr in her voice rang true. "Sweet love doth now invite thy graces that refrain to do me…" She thrust her fingers knuckle-deep and the green girl above screamed and bucked and sucked harder than ever. "…due delight," Galatea below whispered, her lips tracing a wicked grin against the back of Dee's neck.

 

This isn't a sixty-nine, Dee realized as his fourth orgasm edged nearer. I'm in the middle of an honest-to-God six hundred ninety-six.

 

"To see," Galatea below him said, and spread the sex quivering above him wide. "To hear." She rocked her thumb on the ridge of the clitoral hood poised to ride his nose and the Galatea above wailed in mindless delight around his cock. "To touch." Galatea below arched her back, forcing Dee's neck to tip up and his dimpled chin to push between the folds of gel-flesh above him. The green girl above wept and rode his chin. "To kiss." Galatea below pulled down and back just a bit and the green girl's pussy above closed over Dee's mouth. Mind reeling, Dee kissed as deep as he could. Galatea below let go of the green girl's ass above him. The full weight of the Galatea above settled over his jaw and the she rode his face without mercy.

 

"To die," Galatea below cooed. Her hands snaked down Dee's sides and into his crotch. Galatea above's hands were already there, pumping madly at his shaft whenever she rose up to loll her tongue against the head of his dick. Galatea below left his overworked shaft alone, one hand cupping and squeezing his balls while the other slipped below them to do some dirty work. "To die with thee again," she purred as Dee's fourth orgasm rocketed down Galatea above's throat, "in sweetest sympathy."

 


 

 

Yves wrung the sodden mop into the kitchen sink. He paused, blinking, before putting his ear to the gurgling drain. "Ursula?" His voice rang loud in the steel sink. "Either Galatea's gotten into the plumbing or your garbage disposal is reciting John Donne love poetry."

 

Ursula scooted into the kitchenette. "I get echoes and noises in the kitchen from downstairs all the time. Kay sings in the shower. Never heard anything from Bee's bathroom before, though. Let me listen." Yves pulled back and Ursula leaned in. "Something about 'sweet sympathy.' You sure it's Donne?"

 

"Yeah, I sang it one year for All State Choir. Yes, I was a closeted choir fag, feel free to yuck it up."

 

Ursula shrugged. "I was an orchestra dyke myself."

 

Yves nodded. "Cello."

 

Ursula squinted at him. "How did you guess?"

 

"It's mournful and vibrates between your thighs harder than a washing machine."

 

"Oh, piss off," Ursula dismissed him with a wave, grabbed the mop and wrung it hard. Water expressed into the sink. "You don't know Galatea. She's not the type to recite poetry; she screams 'fuck!' a lot, instead. Something's up."

 


 

The afterglow of orgasm lasted a little longer the fourth time in rapid succession. Dee rocked in the body hugging embrace of Galatea below while Galatea above giggled and butterfly-kissed his cock back to life. The vibrantly green, gelled cream continued to gush over the lip of the tub below them, covering the bathroom floor in a rippling, jellied shag carpet and creeping halfway up the tiled wall next to the tub. "Do you have enough nanomek now?" he asked

 

"Ou'pote!" cried the Galatea above him, wrapping her arms around Dee's hips in a childlike, possessive gesture and sandwiching his dick between her breasts in the process.

 

"Never," the Galatea below agreed.

 

"Ou'pote, " Galatea above sighed, nodding, chest heaving. Dee groaned and the Galatea above muttered a surprised, "Papai'!" She hugged her arms to her breasts, squeezed them in a pulsing rhythm, and smirked a smug, "Eureka," as Dee's dick engorged and twitched.

 

"I mean…" Dee's throat closed for a long moment when his glans emerged from Galatea's cloying cleavage and she popped it in her mouth. "I mean may I move now?"

 

Galatea below treated him to an undulating massage just by shrugging her shoulders. "Aye, ye may." She pressed her hands to his ribs. "That is, if ye can."

 

Dee fluttered his legs and rolled his arms.

 

Galatea below gasped "Oh, ye Gods," and the Galatea above cried, "Ô sunte'leia," as a roaring cascade of green foam washed them together into a hunkered heap in the foot of the tub, leaving Dee standing tall beneath the showerhead. Melted gel glistened on his skin like oil, making every muscle stand out in gleaming relief. The wall of foam crashed down over the huddled girls, rolling off their shoulders and dripping through their hair. One green girl, her chin resting in her open hands and daggers of gelled hair drooping over her forehead, gaped up at him and breathed, "Ecce vir." The other green girl untangled herself, trying to smear away the honey gumming her eyelids. Her gaze locked squarely on Dee's crotch, her wide grin slick and shark-toothed. "Ecce virga," she crowed, elbowing her twin in the ribs.

 


 

Ursula frowned into the drain of her kitchen sink. "She's switched from Greek to Latin now. 'Ecce vir'. That's like ecce homo, 'behold man,' except—"

 

"Considering the context," Yves muttered, "I think she just said, 'Check out the stud.' And I can guess what a virga is."

 

Ursula grinned. "I'm less worried now."

 

"Why?"

 

"That's definitely our girl," Ursula explained, shaking her head. "Even when speaking in tongues, she's still a bimbo."

 


 

 

Dee settled into a feral crouch. Vivid green ooze swirled around his haunches and overflowed the tub to join the silent tide insinuating itself over every surface of in the bathroom, swallowing the sink and toilet and stealing up the far wall. "Something's gone wrong."

 

The two girls clutched at each other as he drew close, trembling from the stress of his regard. "Something with your re-assimilation," Dee said, the kinky curls of his chestnut hair falling in lustrous ringlets over his eyes. "Or with your re-remembering, maybe, with so little nanomek to start with, maybe even just one."

 

"Ille mi par esse deo uidetur," one green girl babbled to the other, hiding her face in her twin's hair.

 

Dee palmed the shy green girl's cheek. "Could you come back from just one nanomek, Galatea, and still be you?" He tipped her face toward his. "The Galatea I know hasn't looked this young since I…well, since I hurt her pretty bad." The shy girl's bottom lip quivered and her eyes brimmed. Dee brushed a fat tear away with his thumb. "And she never spoke Latin."

 

The shy girl turned to her twin. "Denuone Latine loquebar?"

 

"Me fallit," her twin shrugged.

 

They turned their open, wondering faces to Dee. Their brows crinkled in confusion, mirror perfect replicas of one another, and Dee's heart leapt into his throat.

 


 

One story above, Ursula cupped her ear to the drain. Her head all but vanished into the deep sink, giving Yves the peculiar impression that the kitchen counter had sprouted massive, Rappunzel-length pigtails. "What's she saying now?" he asked, staring.

 

"'He seems to me to be equal to a god,'" a hollow voice echoed from the sink. "That sounds familiar, like she's reciting again."

 

Yves backed away, arms raised. "Jesus, we shouldn't be listening to this…should we?"

 

"'I dunno.'"

 

Yves jostled against copper colander dangling from a hook. "Don't you think this sort of thing should be private?"

 

"No," said the sink. "I mean that's what Galatea said. 'Was I speaking Latin again? I dunno.' Dee's right; something's wrong."

 


 

Dee sat up, drew the shy green girl into his arms until and kissed her hard. The exaggerated, cartoony wrinkles of perplexity on her forehead smoothed, her eyes glazed and heavy-lidded, one green hand slipping around to fondle the back of Dee's neck. She squeaked in happy surprise when he reached down and scooped her into his angled lap, planting her legs square around his, squeezing her close to his cock. "I know there's something wrong," Dee said as he broke the kiss, "but it doesn't matter." He shifted his legs back and forth a bit and the tip of his cock pressed against the outer folds of her sex. He arched an eyebrow. "After all, it's nothing a little more nanomek couldn't fix, isn't it?"

 

She matched his impish grin. "Non multa." She hitched her hip and gasped as she slid over him. "Sed multum."

 

Dee crossed his arms behind the shy green girl's back and rocked forward to kneel on one knee. She cried out and slumped over him, gabbling and riding blind, only to yowl again as he stood up straight, cradled her against him, and bore into her. "O! Aio!" She locked her ankles in the small of his back and buried her head in the crook of his neck. "Perge! Plus!"

 

Her twin ogled them, mesmerized and slacked-jawed. She paddled forward, her legs little more than curtaining ripples in the green tide still pouring out and up and about the tub. The rutting lovers took no notice as she swam through Dee's wide-spread legs. She took a long moment between his legs to gape upward and treat herself to an extreme close-up. "…By the Gods…Pros Theôn…this lad will last long." She shook the dreamy expression of her face and snuck past Dee to the tub's water taps. She glanced sidelong behind her.

 

The shy girl, bouncing madly with Dee's every thrust, managed to raise her head and stammer, "Pluvia scaenae—Puh-pluvia suh—scaenae," at her twin.

 

Her twin gave her a cagey grin. "Shower scene," she sang, spinning the taps and sending stuttering jets of water splashing down from the showerhead. "Finally: shower scene!"

 

 

The freezing water shocked Dee's flesh. He yelped. His body seized up. He staggered in a sudden wash of fever. "What's happening?"

 

Whorls of vapor rose off the green girl entwining him. "Pluvia scaenae!" She rode him, savage and exultant, even as steam hissed from her mouth. "Aquae vitae!"

 

Dee hooked one arm around her waist, raising the other into the freezing spray. "Holy shit." Droplets sizzled against his skin when they struck, boiling away faster than fat on a griddle. The green girl glared, bit her lip, and bounced against him with the eager impatience of a Hell's Angel kick starting a stubborn motorcycle. Dee twisted about, his bewilderment overcoming the desire to fuck the frown of her face. "When did the shower curtain melt? How hot are we?"

 

"With you…" The green girl behind him blew superheated steam into his ear. "'Tis a pleasure to burn."

 

The young Galatea astride Dee's cock grabbed a fistful of his hair and arched impossibly back, breasts and wild mane bobbling. She kicked a leg to the slime-covered wall on the side and balanced herself against the far wall with her other arm. She breathed deep. An inrush of boiling vapor poured down her throat and the green girl grew.

 

Dee felt new pressure and weight push against his hip and spread around his waist in a constricting ring. The green girl's legs bore down upon him, building in strength and taking up new bulk. She locked her knees around his ass, hooked her heels against his shins, breathed deeper. The green girl's milky-green flesh turned opaque as it literally built up steam. The spikes of her hair grew thick and glossy, a forest of jelly dreadlocks. The hand maintaining her Kama Sutra balancing act now pressed against the ceiling. Her shimmering hair brushed against the far wall. Her breasts tipped back against her chin. A canary-eating grin vanished from sight behind her expansive cleavage. She giggled and the resulting body-quake took Dee's breath away.

 

Galatea had gone from slender nymphet to stacked femme fatale in less time than it took Dee to think, Wow. She pushed off the far wall, slid her hand down off his head and across his back, and attacked his face with burning kisses. He stumped a step or two to keep his footing and anchored her in place on his pelvis by taking up handfuls of her meaty rump.

 

"Aio!" the green girl squealed between kisses. She slapped her free hand over Dee's own and squeezed, encouraging his fingers to sink hard into her flesh. She purred and pitched her hips in tight, jolting circles. Dee tried to match her thrust for thrust but she just picked up the pace, faster and faster, until Dee could not keep up with the punishing rhythm while remaining upright. He squeezed her ass and hung on for dear life, the delicious friction focused on his dick pushing him toward yet another orgasm.

 

The other Galatea stepped in to hug her body to his from behind. "Surely a lad like you can cum five times in a row." Her voice had dropped a full octave since last she spoke, her brogue more smoky and sexy than ever. She leaned in harder and Dee stood sandwiched between her and her twin. Her twin broke the sucking assault on his face and tipped her head to the side. The two Galateas kissed, opened mouthed and ungentle, a hairsbreadth away from Dee's ear. The satiny pumping of his prick never let up. "Six?" Dee got another earful of sloppy lips smacking as the twins swapped spit again. "Seven?" And again. "Eight?" And again. "Eighteen?"

 

Dee came hard enough to knock him off his feet. The green girl behind him let him topple back a few inches before propping him up by the armpits. The green girl straddling him swung her legs out and around the legs of the green girl behind him. Their legs merged and surged until they stood like twins joined at the hip and thighs with Dee stuck in the middle, swaddling him in gel from his feet to his belly. When the green girl straddling him ground against his cock, the gel flesh of the green girl behind him jerked and swirled in syncopation. The green twins gulped and gasped in tandem.

 

In stereo, Galatea pled, "Eighty?"

 

 

Dee stretched his arms high behind his head. The green twins sighed and squished closer still. "Oh," Galatea behind him sighed, "how do ye move as…why does thy every move make me…" Dee twined his fingers through the jellified locks behind her ears and pulled her lips to his. She peeled away from him, uttering a shuddery "Ye Gods." Her gel flesh withdrew and decoupled from her twin, leaving raw, runny green honey where they had fused. Dee bent over backward and dragged her down for another soul kiss. She muttered muffled nonsense into his mouth, pawing against his shoulders.

 

Her twin nibbled at his neck, then his chest, nipping her way downward, only to discover his dick was already ramrod stiff again. "Vah!" She stared, cross-eyed, as it bobbed before her. She shrugged and sucked it down with a throaty, hungry hum.

 

Galatea behind him broke away. "Nay, I can't…" She ran shaking fingers over his back. "I…I can't…"

 

Dee squeezed the back of her neck and their eyes locked. "Don't worry." He smiled. "I can."

 

She cradled his head between her breasts, pressing down on his chest to recline him atop her. Her eyes closed in alien ecstasy, her face upraised beneath the showerhead. The cascade of water boiled away, flashing into vapor from contact with the superheated air around her. The plastic showerhead cracked into molten shrapnel, leaving a rusty spigot spouting steam. The ooze flowing from the bathtub completed its circuit of every bathroom surface and all four walls. It raced across the ceiling in a constricting iris. The domed, florescent light at the center of the ceiling crackled and died under the smothering slime and the bathroom became a living cave. Motes of gold light scintillated just beneath the citrine surface of the surrounding gel.

 

Dee chuckled. "We've really got the nanomek turned on, haven't we?"

 

The other Galatea popped his cock out from her throat, a champagne bottle expelling a thick, coarse cork. She panted in maddened need, every inch of her gel flesh dripping and nectarous. She crawled over him, angling her sopping pussy over his dick. She poised above him, eyes roving and confused. Her fevered voice stumbled as she spoke:

 

Lepton d'autika chro pur upadedromeken,

Oppatessi d'oud'en oremm',

epirrhombeisi d'akouai kad de m'idros kakcheëtai,

Tromos de paisan agrei,

Chlorotera de poias emmi,

Tethnaken d'oiligo 'pideues phainom'em…auta…

 

Dee waited for her glossolalia to fade before reaching out for her hips. "I love you." For once, the words came easy. Perfect timing, as usual, genius, he thought. "I'm ready." She's worth it. He lowered her over him. "It's time." Isn't it always?

 

Her mouth fell open in a gummy O. She rocked against him, once, then twice. The pressure, friction and heat overwhelmed Dee and he came before her pelvis completed its second orbit. She stifled her own screaming by raining down sticky kisses hot enough to melt lead. He drank them down, eager for more. Beneath him, her green twin whimpered wordlessly, squeezing him tighter into her full-body bear hug, a crushing velvet vice almost as greedy for every inch of his skin as the green girl undulating above him was for his cum.

 

"Love me," the twins begged in staggered chorus, their accents thick and strange. "Forever. Fuck me, forever." Another shattering orgasm sizzled through Dee, unleashing a torrent of cum into Galatea's core. Together, the two green girls whined, unsated, "Fill me." The assault on Dee's flesh redoubled. Galatea kissed and cooed, coddled and caressed from below. Galatea clawed and humped, bit and pumped from above. "Fill me, fill me. Forever."


 

Ursula dipped her head into the sink. "Non multa, sed multum . 'Not many, but much'," she translated. "It's an old Roman proverb. And now…" Her long pigtails rustled as she repositioned her ear over the drain. "Now they're…Well, now they're fucking each other's brains out." She stood up straight, rubbing the back of her neck. "You're right, Yves. We don't need to hear this bit."

 

Yves frowned at the kitchen floor. "But we've got to go down there."

 

"Why?"

 

"There are two Galateas in the bathroom with him, right?"

 

"Sure sounds like it. She's as amorphous as she is amorous, so I can't be sure." Ursula shrugged. "Don't make me guess, Sherlock. If you've thought of something then spit it out."

 

Yves pinched the bridge of his nose. "Did any of her nanomek stay with you when she went back to Dee's place?"

 

"No." Ursula rolled her eyes. "This is like pulling teeth. Be fair, Yves. I've had three hot toddies and I weigh less than a hundred and twenty pounds. I've got a thirty-second attention span."

 

"Why didn't any of her stay?"

 

"Fine!" Ursula threw her hands in the air. "I'll play along. Let me think, damn it." She paced the narrow kitchen. "Oh, I remember, she said something about…" ["…there's no way I'm ever going to let myself fuck him again unless I'm there too…"] Ursula stopped dead. "She said something about hating it when only part of her gets to fuck him." She wheeled around to face Yves. "Okay, so a threesome is a little weird. Maybe we should check in on them."

 

Yves nodded and matched her gaze. "Before we go, there's something you need to know. Dee's changed. A lot, and not just physically. He's learned a, uh, kind of kiai, and he can't control it."

 

"Dee's channeling chi with his voice?" Ursula asked. "Oh, don't look so surprised. I'm the neighborhood new age hippy chick, remember? In my neck of the woods we call that a charism." She bounced on the balls of her feet. "What can he do? Can he prophesy? Banish demons? Sway the hearts of men?"

 

"That's the one. Sort of." Yves toyed with the collar of his shirt.

 

"Yves, you're blushing. Wait, you can't seriously mean…"

 

"It works the strongest on women," Yves muttered, his cheeks strawberry red. "And I'm not blushing."

 

Ursula laughed so hard she gave herself a serious case of hiccups. "Are you telling me that Dee received the gift of the gods and he's using it to score?"

 

Yves gave her a helpless smile. "Come on, U. You know Dee. This is the guy who thinks a good way to hit on a girl is to sit near her and sigh."

 

 

"True." Ursula pushed the flat of her fist into her tummy and failed to stifle her hiccups. "Galatea said something about that too, now that you mention it. Oh! It just so happens I have the classic remedy for that sort of thing in my crafts trunk—straight from Hobby Lobby, no less." Ursula bopped out of the kitchen, pigtails swinging and bouncing against her butt, and disappeared down the little hallway to her bedroom. "A little bit of this and Dee's voice won't bother you anymore," she called over the sounds of furious rummaging.

 

Yves stamped into the living room. "It doesn't bother me! Whatever you're getting, it's for you, not me." He pulled the fabric of his tight undershirt away from his chest and let it snap back.

 

Ursula bopped back into the living room carrying something rolled between layers of wax paper and bound with black ribbon like a scroll. Her eyes danced. "Come on. You mean you've never been attracted to Dee?"

 

Yves shrugged hard enough to strain his shoulder. "Never. Not my type."

 

"You don’t like them tall, tawny and goofy?"

 

"It's not that. Dee's just. He's…" Yves reached for the right word. "Dee's impenetrable."

 

Ursula stared.

 

Yves blinked and replayed the conversation in his head. "Oh, fuck you. I meant 'impenetrable' as in 'oblivious'."

"Uh huh." Ursula wagged the scroll at him. "Then why are you still blushing?"

 

"I'm not blushing, damn it." Yves flapped his overshirt. "You're too juiced to notice, but it's getting damn hot in here."

 

Ursula frowned and walked passed him into the kitchenette. Her head disappeared into the sink for a moment before she yanked it back out again, hissing through her teeth, braids flailing. "Fuck, that's hot. I'd rather stick my ear against a steam pipe."

 

Yves followed and felt the waves of heat rolling up from the sink with his hand. "Did you hear anything?"

 

"Yeah. Galatea's quoting again. Sappho this time, in the original Greek, believe it or not. Good old fragment thirty-one."

 

"You could tell that from listening just for a couple of seconds?"

 

"Duh. It's Sappho. One of her most famous, too, because it's jumbled and the literal translation is weird so everyone argues over exactly what it…" Ursula's milky checks blanched bone white. "Oh my God."

 

"What?"

 

Ursula pulled the work stool away from the counter and sat down hard, head in her hands. "Oh my God."

 

Yves pat her awkwardly on the shoulder. "What?"

 

Ursula tilted her head toward the ceiling and recited:

 

Already a subtle fire runs beneath my skin

My eyes see nothing, my ears roar

Sweat pours down me

I am everywhere seized with trembling

Greener than the grass am I

And so near as death

Yves spun, punched the wooden door of the kitchenette pantry, muttering. "Christ, I'm an idiot. No, Dee's an idiot. But I stood there and saw the look on his face and I should have known—"

 

"'Greener than the grass am I'," Ursula interrupted. Her voice broke into a lamenting whine. "Sappho wasn't a lyric poet. She was just some Greek chick with a thing for goo girls."

 

"Everyone had a thing for goo girls," Yves snapped. "Keep it together."

 

"But—"

 

"Yeah, everything you know is wrong. Welcome to the club. Now shut up." Yves plucked Ursula off the stool and set her on her feet. "We've got work to do. I fucked up big time."

 

Ursula tucked the scroll into her shirt and kicked off her bunny slippers. "You? How?"

 

Yves pulled a pair of oven mitts of their hooks and stuffed them into his pants' pockets. "I left Dee alone down there. I even asked him, 'What are you thinking?' And I left without getting an answer." The tips of the mitts flopped around like puppy ears.

 

"So?" Ursula had jogged over her hall closet and squat on the floor, slipping on a pair of running shoes.

 

"So he knew this might happen. Dee's still in dumb, straight-guy hero mode."

 

Ursula ran over to Yves and poked him in the solar plexus. "Stop being a drama queen and tell me what the fuck is going on!"

 

"Dee's giving Galatea whatever it takes for her to come back," Yves said, pushing her away and massaging his chest. Ursula's frown turned thunderous. Her outstretched finger hovered over Yves' sternum. Yves raised his hands in surrender.

 

"He's subliming," he said.


 

 

The green girl riding Dee's cock thrust a fist against the ceiling and bore down hard, hips jerking in wide, drawn out ellipses. She mashed her other hand into her mouth but pleas of bottomless need burbled through on every upswing. The slime on the ceiling bowed in around her, bloated with burning motes of green-tinged, silvered light—an aura of a million fireflies, the alchemical glow in their bellies gone critical. Beneath, her twin stroked and cuddled against Dee's back, hugging flesh crammed into every conceivable crevice to sample the all the flavors of Dee's skin, tugging stronger than a waterlogged blanket bog. Dee's back broke through her surface tension into the quagmire of inner gel. The twin sighed and sobbed in relief, as if some terrible burden had at last been lifted, and push down on Dee's abdomen with both hands. Molten honey inched up his ribs and shoulders.

 

The green twins fucked and sucked him closer to his seventh orgasm. They dragged him through a cycle of carnal sensation: a touching-tasting-pulling-pushing, sighing-slurping-slipping-screaming, up to a clinging-clenching-tonguing-cresting—cumming-cumming-cumming—and then down to an afterglow of kisses and caresses. The girls' fervor rose anew. Dee lay splayed between them, too dizzy to notice the urgency build in their murmured, wicked words. Soon they were touching-tasting-pulling-pushing and driving through the cycle again, and again, and again, each phase a little longer and stronger than before. Dee lost count of the number of times he gave the green girls what they wanted. Dee lost the ability to count, to care, to think. He only wanted to feel Galatea live again, and she came to life all around him.

 

"Pygmalion!"

 

The shouting voice penetrated Dee's delirium. Dee blinked, bleary eyed, and tried to focus. He saw no signs of the bathroom he remembered. The sugar walls of gel surrounding him had grown thick and brilliant with snowflake fire. He was trapped with the two green twins in a luciferous cave, a glowing green grotto.

 

The shout came again from somewhere outside: "Pygmalion!"

 

Dee glanced up through a deep valley of green cleavage. The green girl's brow crinkled in confusion at the sound of someone yelling, rattling and thumping beyond the walls of the verdant world-womb she had made for her and Dee, for just her and Dee, for always and forever.

 

"Pygmalion," cried the distant voice. "Pygmalion, you fucking idiot!"

 

The green girl shrugged and sunk back down to touch-taste-pull-push…

 

Something in that shrug, something missing in the little careless smile she gave him and the dimming light of her eyes, jarred Dee out of his sensorial stupor. You had a plan, remember? She loves it when you second guess her. Well, it's now or never. Dee rolled his shoulder and pulled one arm free of the embrace of the twin beneath him. His head swam in the strain and effort to lift his hand toward the green girl riding him, pointer finger extended, and furrow a swooping X in the gel above her left breast, its staggered curves evoking a dancer in mid-leap.

 

The twin beneath him fell silent and still. Dee had not noticed her constant, rumbling purr of pleasure until it stopped. He tilted his head back, translucent, pale tendrils of gel slithering off his neck and chin. The twin's gaze traced the path the ragged X had cut into the green girl's breast. The twin bent over and kissed Dee's forehead, her lips chaste and trembling.

 

"Thou canst die," she whispered in that sexy brogue, kissing him again. "I know to leave this world behind is death." She glanced around them. Firefly-filled columns bulged from the floor to merge with stalactites of shining slime drooping from the ceiling. "But when thou from this world wilt go…" She shook her head, her lime dreadlocks falling heavy in the sultry air. "The whole world vapours with thy breath." She cupped his cheek. "Say it."

 

Dee let the silence stretch. The green girl riding his cock narrowed her eyes at him but her rhythm never skipped a beat. "No," he said.

 

The grin of the green girl above him was feral and her pace quickened. The twin below him gasped, "Say it. Thou must say it."

 

Dee shrugged, wobbling as the twin's gel flesh rocked. He tried to imitate her accent. "I canst not." His imitation failed miserably.

 

She stared, eyes wide. Around them, the world-womb began to collapse, a cave-in coming at them in slow motion. "Then I shall." The twin leaned in, locking eyes with the green girl, breasts rolling over Dee's head. "Pygmalion."

 

The green girl closed her eyes, squashing her sex over Dee's dick. "Ne."

 

The twin below sat up, her belly stretching long and pulling Dee's head free of the tit-trap. She slapped the green girl square in the mouth. The twin's voice rang, "Pygmalion!"

 

The green girl snarled and hunched over Dee's crotch, a school girl caught hiding something naughty. "Nunquam!" The twin below reared to slap again, but the green girl flinched and fell against Dee's chest. Her eyes wide and imploring, she worked her mouth a while before any words came out. "You won't say it," she said, although her accent was so mangled ("Hew want sigh et") that at first Dee did not realize she was speaking English.

 

Dee smiled, nodding. "I won't."

 

The green girl riding him cackled. The collapsing walls of the slime cave surged inward. The twin below him melted into the onrushing ooze, leaving a bubble of air only a few feet across, just enough room for the green girl to press her head against Dee's chest. She was nothing more than a protrusion from the surrounding ooze: a inch or two of abdomen, a pair of breasts, shoulders, arms, a sneering face and writhing hair. The tendril tips of her hair toyed with Dee's nipples. The firefly glow flowed into her. "You want this," she said. ("Hew went tees.") "For me." ("Fear may.") "To be a part of me." ("Tao bay pert ovum eye.") "Always." ("All wise.")

 

"Yes," Dee said, curling his fingers around her playful hair.

 

The green girl shuddered, whispering, "Always." ("All wise.")

 

"I'll do this," Dee said (and she whispered, "All wise.") "I'll lock myself deep in side you…"

 

She whispered, "All wise."

 

"I'll lock myself away…"

 

She whispered, "All wise."

 

"…And I'll keep cumming and cumming in you…"

 

She whispered, "All wise."

 

"…Until there's nothing left of me," Dee finished. Now. His other hand shot out. It has to be now. He scooped up the green girl's head until they were eye to eye. He cocked an eyebrow at her, his face full of false, doe-eyed innocence. "But only if you want me to, because I'm so sensitive and enlightened and stuff."

 

The green girl gaped. The fireflies inside her burst into blinding light. "You dumb ass!" she cried, reared back and socked him in the nose.

 

Her voice rebounded in the bubble, pitch perfect and accent free. The green girl listened to her own echoes. A goofy smile dawned across her cherubic face, and she flew at Dee, delighted laughter peeling until her lips locked over his.

 

"Welcome back," Dee said when she let him up for air.

 

She pulled back, seeming to notice their predicament for the first time: she a mere torso slowly dissolving into a wall, he enwombed in some two hundred cubic feet of nuclear powered gelatin. "Oh, shit."

 

She turned to kiss him again, and this time she left tears streaking his cheeks. The encroaching wall had eaten away at her, until only her head, shoulders, and upper curves of her breasts breached its surface. She looked like a busty supermodel posing in a hot tub suspended sideways in the air, the froth from the Jacuzzi jets capping her nipples. "I...I can't stop it." Green tears pattered down. "Dee. Oh, Dee...I'm not me."

 

Dee brushed a few tears from her eyes. "I've figured out that much. What went wrong?"

 

"I'm not sure." The wall slurped over her breasts. "I can't get all my nanomek to work together, or even talk to each other." The wall of goo crawled over her shoulders. "Stop me, Dee, stop me." The green girl sank up to her neck and she panicked. "Can you stop me?"

 

"I can. But it's going to hurt." The green girl's eyes shown with fear and Dee added, "Not me, I mean. It's going to hurt you." He sat up, his hair sticking to the top of the shrinking air bubble. "A lot."

 

The wall of ooze slipped up over her chin. "Shut up and stop me," she said before her mouth vanished.

 

"I love you," Dee said. He coiled, a panther gathering energy for a final pounce. "Ready?"

 

The green girl's button nose slipped under the wall of ooze, but she still had the presence of mind to roll her eyes heavenward.

 

Dee struck.

 


 

 

Yves wrestled two-handed with the bathroom doorknob. His fingers squeezed the thick oven mitts over the metal knob. Heat prickled through the mitts' spunlace fabric insultation. Thank God Ursula keeps her kitchen high-tech, Yves thought. The doorknob twisted to the right. Damn thing is hotter than a branding iron. Yves braced with his feet and pushed at the door. "Pygmalion!" he shouted. A sliver of green-and-gold light dazzled him. The heat seeping through the oven mitts started to sting. Yves pushed harder. "Pygmalion!" The light blazed around the doorframe. "Pygmalion, you fucking idiot!"

 

The door thumped shut and Yves sprawled on the floor, arms shielding his head. His face felt raw, pins-and-needles numb. He was flashburned: an instant sunburn slapped across his skin. Must only be first degree, because I can still see. Yves rolled onto his back, knocking over the pots and pans dotting the floor of Bee's bedroom. He pulled the mitts off his hands by jamming them into his armpits. Sweat dripped into his eyes. "Ursula, it's not working."

 

Ursula's reply came from the living room down the hallway, somewhere out of sight. "It's got to. It's the only thing I can think of."

 

Yves pushed himself up onto one shoulder. Shadow and light danced in the bathroom doorframe. "God damn it, Urusla, it's like a scene from Poltergeist. Get your psychic midget ass in here!"

 

"I can't. The beeswax will melt."

 

Yves kicked a coffee cup. "Just leave it."

 

"I can't! I put it in my ears already. Look, you told me to do it, Sherlock...What's that noise?"

 

Yves stared at the juddering door. "I changed my mind." His face fell into shadow. "It is working, and get your ass out of here, Ursula. Now."

 

"Don't you start with the hero macho bullshit," Ursula said.

 

"No." Yves stood and backed away, every move slow and exact. "I'm coming too." A minty stain spread out from the doorframe and over the wall. Fissures grew where plaster dissolved or crumbled to the floor. "I am officially..." The paint on the door blistered and peeled. "...utterly and completely..." The stain ate away at the stucco ceiling and the cracked ceiling strut sagged down until its tip bumped against Bee's bed. "...out of my depth." The door snapped inward. "Run!"

 

Yves barreled through the bedroom door, his ears filled with the sound of splintering wood. Adrenalin surged and he centered himself just as quick. His perceptions entered that zone of distanced, startling clarity he had relished for years as an aikidoka but his geeky friends took for granted as "bullet time" ever since The Matrix debuted. He studied Ursula as she dashed past the hall toward the front door, long braids whipping out behind her. The floorboards beneath Yves feet started to shake as he reached the mouth of the hallway. He rounded the corner into the living room and the air behind him exploded forward, threatening to hurl him into the floor with the force of a giant hand striking him across the back. He rode the concussion instead, spinning away from the mouth of the hallway an instant before it spat a blast of steam, lethal as any dragon. Yves followed Ursula's trailing pigtails out the front door.

 

Ursula panted in the long hall. Yves held out his hand. She stared at it and then up at him through fogged-over glasses. Her face beaded with perspiration, her tight black pajamas stuck with sweat. Yves realized he must look the same. He could not have felt more drenched if he had walked through a hurricane. Behind them, soupy mist licked through the ruined doorway and the air grew heady and citrus perfumed. Around them, the world fell silent and still. Even the noise of morning rush hour on the nearby expressway vanished.

 

Ursula's whisper was urgent and awed. "Dee."

 

Yves reached for her again. "It's just Dee." The words rung hollow and false, even to him, and he withdrew his hand.

 

Ursula pulled his hand back and held it between her breasts. Yves felt her heart fluttering. "I want it to be Galatea, too," Ursula said, squeezing his hand as hard as she could.

 

At first, Yves thought someone had turned on a slow, thudding subwoofer, but Ursula whispered, "Dee's coming." She pushed their clasped hands into Yves abdomen. "You're trembling," she said.

 

"I'm terrified," Yves confessed. The footfalls drew nearer. "What if I'm wrong? What if it's not Dee or Galatea, but something else? There's something you don't know…"

 

She shushed him and they turned, standing side by side.

 

Dee strode stark naked across the threshold, each step scorching the floor. Plumes of steam rose from his bare skin. The curls of his hair were slicked and sleek around his face. His every movement was so strong and sure that Yves knew the thrill of standing in the middle of the tracks before an onrushing train.

 

The green girl clung to Dee's neck, her head buried in his chest. She trembled and turned away from Yves and Ursula, curling in modesty but presenting the hourglass curves of her back and flaring hips. Her skin shone with gem fire, polished and pure as a flawless emerald. Dee held her close. She murmured and shivered and pressed against him. The intimate desire expressed in her embrace was palpable and dizzying. Yves felt as if he somehow partook in it just by watching.

 

"It is done," Dee said.

 

Galatea sighed and kissed his neck.

 

["…If Galatea thinks you’re a god…"]

 

"I hate being right," Yves said.

 

Love is the temple.

Love the higher law.

You ask me to enter,

But then you make me crawl.

And I can't be holding on

To what you got

When all you got is hurt.

—U2, One

 


 

Interlude: Get Into You

 

The morning sun blazed high above the chapter house of Epsilon Zeta Sorority as a yellow SUV crept up the horseshoe driveway. The brunette driving the boxy car dragged up the emergency brake and plopped her head into the steering wheel. "We're here."

 

The blonde coed sprawled on the backseat did not budge. Her hair stuck out everywhere, a mess of tangles at strange angles. "What time is it?"

 

The brunette's eyes roved over the dashboard. "A little after eight." She scraped a pasty lip with her teeth and made a hissy, kissy noise.

 

The blonde dunked her head into the foot well. "We were out all night. I can't believe we spent all night with those frat guys—"

 

The redhead in the passenger seat spun around. "Shut up. This is all your fault."

 

"But my cell phone battery died," the blonde said from the footwell. "And all I did was ask if you guys thought that really cute guy had called yet."

 

The redhead narrowed her eyes. "Don’t you dare start talking about him again."

 

"But he was sooo cute." The blonde peeked up at her friends in the front seat. "Remember how his hair kept falling into his eyes? Those little, whatdoyacall'em, ringlets? Ooh, and his eyes. Brown but, they like burned, you know? He looked at me and I felt so small."

 

The brunette clapped her hands over her ears and sang wordlessly, rocking her head against the steering wheel. The redhead just stared into space.

 

"And…" The blonde sat up, fists curled in her lap. "And, oh God, didn't you watch him walk? I thought runway models knew how to walk but this guy moved like he owned the whole world."

 

"I will not get horny again." The brunette chanted it like mantra. "I will not get horny again."

 

The blonde rubbed the sweat beginning to trickle down her neck. "And when he spoke, it was like he owned me."

 

The redhead glared at the floor. "He only said one word. One fucking word."

 

The blonde cleared her throat, squirmed in her seat, and tried to imitate Dee's voice. "…'What'?"

 

"Deeper," sighed the brunette, throwing herself back into the driver's seat.

 

The blonde cleared her throat and tried again in a lower register. "…Wha—"

 

"Deeper," insisted the redhead. "Like way deeper."

 

The blonde closed her eyes and scissored her legs. "'What'?"

 

The brunette whispered, "Deeper." Her hand inched under the waistband of her black denims. "No!" She bolted up. "Not again!"

 

"I can't help it," the blonde whined, falling over and hiding her face. "I'm a slut."

 

"We are not sluts," the redhead said, emphasizing each word by stabbing a finger at the blonde.

 

"We're skanks," said the brunette.

 

"That's right," nodded the redhead. "No, wait."

 

"We're skanks." The brunette looked down at her white tee shirt. "My nipples are hard."

 

The blonde pushed her rump up into the air. "My panties are wet. Again."

 

The two girls turned to their redheaded friend. She bowed her head. "I had to throw my panties away."

 

"Well." The brunette jingled the car keys. "We're not going back to the frat, are we?"

 

The redhead said, "No."

 

The blonde pulled her self up. She gave both her friends a coy, unsure look. "We're not going to, uh—"

 

"No!" The redhead held up both hands and gave her friends their marching orders. "We are going to do the walk of shame. Together. Then we're going back to our rooms..." The blonde perked up "…Separately." The blonde's face fell. "And we're going to whack off. Then we'll take a quick nap, finally get out of these sticky clothes and go to class. It'll be like last night never happened…We didn't tell those guys about tonight's party, did we?"

 

"Hell, no," the brunette said.

 

"Good. Walk of shame time." The redhead peered at the big, brick house with Ε-Ζ emblazoned on its whitewashed porch. "No one's up yet, looks like. Good. Weird, but good." She popped open the passenger door. "Let's go."

 

The three girls skulked through the front door into the foyer. The blonde ran over to the whiteboard next to the phone on the far wall. She scanned the magic marker scribble on the board. "No messages." She punched buttons on the phone's integrated answering machine until it beeped. "Aw, he didn't call."

 

"Shh!" The redhead waved a frantic hand up and down.

 

"Oh, stuff it," hissed the blonde. "No one's around." She minced through the main hall and into the central stairwell. "I'm going to go scratch this itch. Later, guys."

 

"Me too," said the brunette. She tiptoed into the main hall before turning back. "You coming?" she asked the redhead.

 

"In a minute." She cracked open a side door. "I'm going to the kitchen."

 

"What? Why?" The brunette giggled. "You're not serious."

 

The redhead sniffed. "Not everybody owns a vibrator. I've got to make do."

 

"Whatever," the brunette shrugged and dashed upstairs. "I'm going to need extra batteries."

 

The redhead slunk down the narrow corridor passed the basement stairwell. Now that her friends were gone, she could let her guard down. Without panties, the crotch of her jeans had harnessed her sex. The rigid seam rubbed her raw from her clit down over her slit and around into the crack in her ass. She chewed her bottom lip and whimpered as she walked. At the far end of the corridor the door to the kitchen set crooked on a swinging hinge. Florescent light flickered through the gap above the door into the dark hallway. The redhead held her breath and stood still. Her lungs began to ache but she heard a scuffle of feet and furniture from the kitchen and air wooshed out of her. Someone was in the kitchen. In a way, the prospect of getting caught came as a relief. She shook out her hair, rubbed away ruined mascara, squared her shoulders, and stormed through the kitchen doorway.

 

A husky boy in a jelly-stained grocer's smock sat on the floor, hands hogtied behind his back to the granite top kitchen cart. His eyes bugged at redhead. "Oh, Christ, not yet." He kicked at the floor and the cart rolled away from the redhead. The work pants and boxers wrapped around his ankles and the friction of his bare ass against the hardwood floor reduced his retreat to a comical butt-scoot. "I won't be able to get a boner again for another hour. I swear to God, lady."

 

The redhead stared for long moment before calmly turning to her left and pulling a carving knife from a wooden block on the counter. Only then did she allow her self to scream. "Who the fuck are you?"

 

The husky boy crossed his eyes watching the tip of the long knife quiver at him. Lavender lip prints smeared his face and gobs of grape-colored jelly matted his hair. "You're not one of them?"

 

"Who the fucking Hell are you, and..." The redhead pointed the knife downward. "And why the Hell is your dick covered in custard? Are you some sort of autoerotic, bondage, food freak? Oh, wait." She relaxed and dropped the knife on the counter. "Hazing is illegal, you know. So are panty raids." She glanced around. "Where are your pledge brothers?"

 

The kitchen cart bumped up against the stainless steel refrigerator. "You're not one of them." The boy shook his head. "Jesus, lady, you got to get out of here."

 

The redhead slouched against the counter on the opposite wall and recited in bored singsong, "Epsilon Zeta Sorority does not encourage and will not condone hazing. We have a zero tolerance policy. As chapter secretary, I am obliged to ask you for the names of any Ep-Zed sisters who have collaborated with your frat's hazing activities in any way."

 

"I don't know what the Hell you're on about lady. I'm not from a frat. I work in a supermarket." The kitchen cart bumped against the refrigerator again. "So stop talking Moon language and get the fuck out."

 

"I can't," the redhead sighed. "I have to call the provost's office with those names. And I, uh, want something from the fridge…Look, can you stop bumping against it like that?"

 

The cart and refrigerator door clunked against each other again. "What? I'm not—" The cart whacked into the boy's head. The color drained from his face. "Oh, God, no." The purple gel on his paling cheeks stood out like kiss-shaped bruises. He twisted his neck to gawk at the refrigerator. "It can't be. The other two weren't ready this fast. It's too soon."

 

The refrigerator door slammed against the kitchen cart. The boy's ass squeaked over the floor as the cart dragged him to the side. He butt-scooted away from the refrigerator with surprising speed. "This one won't be like the others. This one's hers."

 

The redhead frowned at the fridge. "Is a pledge in there or something?"

 

The husky boy kicked her in the shins. "We've got to get out of here!"

 

The redhead stood transfixed as the steel door swung open. A dark nebula billowed out to fill the widening space, black ink bleeding into the air as if seeping into water. The living patch of night shone, glossy and faceted, in the harsh florescent lamplight. It unfolded in clusters of wedges and confusing shapes, an origami blossom of impossible complexity and size. The obsidian thing bloomed bigger than the industrial refrigerator behind it and the planes of its outer petals filled out in familiar shapes.

 

"Wings," the boy groaned. "Wings. I told you. This one's hers."

 

The epicenter of the geometric eruption swelled into a fat, shiny balloon. It burst and two legs shot out, skinny but shapely. They touched down on the floor on toeless feet, rounded and tiny like a child's ballet slippers. The collapsing balloon gathered into narrow but curving hips and a tight little behind. The black mass of the ass stretched into a flat tummy, budding breasts, slender shoulders, graceful arms, curiously long neck, and a head as shiny, bald, and faceless as an egg dipped into black latex paint.

 

The winged obsidian girl stood with arms akimbo and feet tapping. She was brume. She was sepulchral. She was midnight.

 

She was a size 2.

 

The redhead flailed her arm backward, feeling for the door. "Oh, fuck me."

 

"No," sighed the boy as the obsidian girl scampered over to his prone form. "It's going to be me." The obsidian girl tilted her head. The overhead lamp reflected in her eyeless, featureless face as two round pools of white light and she regarded him with an alien curiosity. The boy looked into her illusory gaze and shuddered. "Again."

 

The redhead inched backward. The obsidian girl bent forward. The boy squeezed his eyes shut and cringed. The obsidian girl held still for a long moment. Her arm drew a dismissive zigzag in the air and her smooth, conical fingers snap-snap-snapped in his flinching face as she stood up and turned away.

 

The redhead's shaky, searching fingers brushed across the door and she whipped around, threw all her weight into it—and cracked her head against it, rebounding when the door refused to budge.

 

She faltered around the kitchen, one hand cradling her smarting forehead. The obsidian girl leapt up the refrigerator and perched on top with wings furled, watching her with the patience of a stone gargoyle.

 

The kitchen door swung inward. The blonde and the brunette coeds lurched in wearing nothing but their tight white tee-shirts and panties soaked sheer at the crotch. Red and black gel ringed their mouths, as if they had been feasting on chocolate covered jelly donuts. Between the brunette's legs came a muffled, buzzing noise.

 

"Aw, shit," the boy said as the two girls ambled toward the redhead, "she knows you're here now. Sorry, lady, I tried to tell you."

 

The two girls seized the redhead, one on each arm. "Wait," the redhead said, glancing back and forth between them, trying to catch their unfocused, glassy eyes. "Wait! What the Hell…Oh my God…"

 

Black Cherry boiled into the room, wings snapped taught behind her. "Guess again." She licked her smirking lips and a fat drop of sanguine honey dripped from the corner of her mouth and sizzled on the floor.

 

The redhead swooned but her two friends propped her up. Black Cherry stormed close. She traced the curve of the redhead's cheek with one wing-claw and tickled her nipples erect with the other until the girl was awake and squirming in her friends' unyielding arms. "Stop, stop."

 

Black Cherry sliced away the redhead's flimsy top with the tip of a finger. "I never stop." She turned to the brunette as she ran both claws down the redhead's exposed ribs. "So this is the other girl who met Master?"

 

The brunette's voice was hushed and distant. "…Yes."

 

The redhead barked with painful laughter. "Stop, stop!" She wrestled with her captors but they stood, unmoving and unblinking. "Help me, someone help me!"

 

The obsidian girl unfurled her wings and tapped a foot on the metal refrigerator.

 

Black Cherry glanced upward and startled. "So soon? Wonderful! I'm glad I used so much extra nanomek, then." She leveled a quivering claw at the hogtied boy. "That one's yours." She dipped a wing claw below the redhead's belt and the girl shrieked. "But this one is mine. I need to taste her memories of Master. Now then…" She went to work on the fly of the redhead's jeans.

 

The kitchen door swung open and the sisters of Epsilon Zeta trickled into the room. The redhead cried out, "Oh thank God—Help me! Call the cops! Do something? Why aren't you…Oh, no." Half-dozen coeds, their expressions blank and lips stained blood red, took places around the room. When another sorority sister bumped her way through the door, the redhead glimpsed the narrow corridor filled to capacity with glassy-eyed girls. "No, no, no."

 

"I tried to tell you, lady," the boy said. "Look, I'm real sorry."

 

The redhead slumped and trembled in her captors' arms. She whispered at the floor, "Help me. Help me."

 

"There, there, no need to cry." Black Cherry plucked the redhead's chin up with a wing and unzipped the girl's jeans with her hands. "After all, you're not scared. I could smell it if you were. But I smell something else, instead. Now, open wide." Black Cherry yanked the redhead's jeans down and giggled. "Oh, I see that you have already. So all you need to do…" Black Cherry leaned close, her fingers pressed deep into the redhead's sex, her lips drizzling searing honey over the girl's ear. "…is let me in."

 

Stone aged love and strange sounds too,

Come on, baby, let me get into you.

Bad nights causing teenaged blues,

Get down ladies—you've got nothing to lose!

Hello, Daddy! Hello, Mom!

I'm your ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch cherry bomb!

—The Runaways with Joan Jett, Cherry Bomb

 

 

 

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