Hear the Excerpts
Read by the author, J. D. Townsend:
- Excerpt 1:
- Excerpt 2:
- Excerpt 3:
- Excerpt 4:
Through the dimly lit hallway, Kay Black neared the client’s door, quietly breathing in the lingering molecular signature from the scent card the Ministry had issued with her orders. She liked the intimacy that scent recognition brought. It deepened her focus, gave her an appreciation of the gifts she had been given and the sacredness of the task at hand. It was in these moments she felt almost as though she were dancing with the client. Or that both were being danced by destiny.
She was tightly focused now. A few moments before she had nearly encountered a woman coming down the stairwell she was climbing. A close call. Being seen in so isolated a setting could have compromised the evening’s mission, but Kay ducked into a doorway until the woman passed. She had never failed a mission, nor even had to come back a second time due to some oversight or unforeseen circumstance. She vowed such a thing would not happen, either tonight or in the future. She had trained too long and hard to fall prey to a mistake that could mar her spotless record.
As she neared the client’s door, Kay inwardly repeated a passage from The Text:
As the hour of your duty is upon you, give praise, for it is in this moment that you are consecrated unto the Whole Body . . .
She slipped her TeleSlate from the bag, inserted the sensor into the port in its side, and touched it to the lock on the door. Three seconds later, the screen indicated that the electronic locking system had been identified and disabled. Kay replaced the Slate in the bag, and took out a device that to anyone else would have appeared to be a laser pen. It was not. It was a device which released a dart infused with a chemical that instantly paralyzed the heart. The dart would dissolve in seconds, leaving no trace. Death would appear to have been by natural causes.
Inwardly she chanted . . . Deliverer of death, sustainer of life, shepherd of the sacred balance, sing the Song of Deliverance and be joyful, for now is the Will made manifest and the future assured.
With her left hand, Kay turned the doorknob so slowly that someone watching it from the inside would scarcely have noticed the movement. When the doorknob would no longer turn, she eased the door inward—a quarter inch, a half inch. No additional mechanical lock barred her entrance. As the edge of the door cleared the jamb, Kay stopped. Light from the apartment poured into the hallway. Not good. It was nearly 03:00. Everyone should have been asleep. It was rare for Kay to encounter anyone awake in these early morning missions.
She focused her attention on hearing, letting the sounds sort themselves out in her mind—the soft whir of appliances, far away traffic noises from the street, the slight hiss of air being circulated through the building’s vent systems. Her own blood was audible as it pulsed through her veins, and the ineffable pitch of her own being. Nothing she heard indicated anyone was in the room beyond the door.
There was the scent, though. Angela Potemkin lived here, there was no doubt.
. . . As the hour of your duty is upon you, give praise . . .
Kay leaned into the door again, and the crack widened far enough for her to see the edges of several pieces of furniture. Another inch and it was evident the room was unoccupied.
Just then the air in the elevator shaft at the end of the hallway began whistling through the closed doors as its car rose from below. It would not do to be seen if someone were to get out on this floor. With a single swift move, she was inside Potemkin’s apartment easing the door shut behind her, simultaneously scanning the room. The lights were on, but either no one was here or they were in some other room, perhaps asleep.
Her eyes fell on a doorway to her right off the small living room. It was partly open, the room beyond brightly lit. Kay knew, though she could not have explained why, that the client was beyond that door, and awake. Her cells resonated with the knowledge, sharpening her state of readiness, stilling her mind. Hyperalert now, she could feel the client now as clearly as she could feel the steady heartbeat in her own chest.
. . . for now is the Will made manifest and the future assured . . .
Kay crept on the balls of her feet toward the door, her weapon at ready. When she arrived, her fingertips settled on its smooth surface as gently as an insect alighting on a flower. She increased the pressure ever so gradually until she could feel the door begin to give. No resistance, nothing further to impede her. She inhaled a deep, silent breath and shoved.
She saw the eyes first.
They were sky-blue and wide with fear, riveted on Kay’s face. In an instant, everything else registered in Kay’s keen senses. Angela Potemkin faced her from the opposite side of the room, atop a bed, propped up against pillows, clothed in an elegant suit. In her right hand, a small, black object. Time shifted, taking on the curiously slow quality it did on those rare occasions when Kay encountered imminent danger. Her mind registered every detail—the stitching on the red shoulder blazes of Potemkin’s suit, the fall of coarse blond hair over the woman’s forehead, the beady texture of the bedspread upon which she lay, the bloodless whites of Potemkin’s fingernails as she clutched the object in her hand.
But it was the eyes she would remember. There was no surprise in them. Rather, they reached across the chasm between them with a knowing and fierce determination to communicate. Potemkin raised her left hand in Kay’s direction, palm out, in the universal gesture of one who wants something that is about to happen to stop, and Kay saw her mouth open to form a word.
By then, though, Kay’s training was in full control. The object in Potemkin’s other hand could be a weapon, and Kay leveled her own at the woman’s heart, her thumb squeezing the trigger. As the perfectly aimed dart whispered out of the barrel, Kay heard the woman’s voice drift to her across the room.
“Kay, wait,” she said.
But death would not wait. In an instant, Potemkin’s hand fell back to the position from which it had come and her head fell forward onto her chest, her body emptied of its animating force like a sail gone slack in doldrums.
Kay stood transfixed, visualizing those two impossible words slowly falling from Angela Potemkin’s lips as her slack right hand opened, revealing a device Kay now recognized to be a simple remote.
She could not possibly have heard her name uttered aloud in this place. And yet the wall monitor to her left flashed, and the image of the woman whom Kay had only just seen for the first time began to speak in clear, forceful tones.
“Hello, Kay. Please sit down. I have some things to tell you . . .”
The next words Kay heard made her feel as though she had been seized by a great hand and shaken until her teeth rattled in her head.
Mother Avalon listened intently, nodding and, on occasion, closing her eyes as if feeling the contours of Parker’s dark memory. When Parker finished, she reached across and lightly tapped the back of his hand with her fingertips. With a note of sadness in her voice, she said, “Yes, boys can sometimes be quite cruel. I understand.”
Parker looked down at the small table and let out a long breath, surprised by the relief he felt.
“And what of your experiences with women?” Mother Avalon said, raising one thin eyebrow. “Have you explored your sexuality?”
Again her frankness startled him. This was a topic he wasn’t going to explore with her. He’d never really spoken to anyone about such things. “I don’t really . . .” he began, and trailed off. Her eyes held him fast. Something passed through him again and again, a subtle wave that pushed gently against some inner boundary of his being.
Mother Avalon’s hand came to rest on his. “It’s all right, you can tell me.”
And he believed her. “There was one woman,” he began.
It’s early in his sixteenth year. He’s finally enrolled at Sexual Services. His reluctance has been the cause both of good-natured kidding and not-so-benevolent ridicule from the other boys in the order. He’s the last of the Blue Team to sign up. He hasn’t been able to articulate the reasons for his reluctance even to himself. It isn’t as though he hasn’t fantasized about women when he is alone in his bed. But the thought of being with one in the flesh fills him with foreboding.
Peer pressure and surging hormones are finally having their way with him, though. His hand trembles a little as he signs the SS roster, and the next morning he finds himself in the Head Master’s office, Rayful Edwards handing him a note containing the woman’s name, directions to her home, the expected time of his arrival. Edwards gives him a small SS identification pin (a circle with a phallic obelisk jutting upwards from the circle’s base). When passed over a client’s scanner, Edwards explains, the pin would reveal a code by which its owner could be requested again, if desired. Edwards delivers a brief obligatory speech on upholding the reputation and honor of the brotherhood, a sly smile, and a pat on the back as Parker leaves the office.
He arrives on time, and is met at the door by an attractive brunette he guesses to be in her early twenties.
“Marta Sylvan? he asks.
When she sees the SS pin on the breast of his form-fitting jumpsuit, she smiles broadly and looks him over from head to toe, obviously surprised and delighted. She crooks her finger at him, turns, and leads him by the hand through the living room past three of her housemates lounging there, toward the open door of a bedroom.
“Oooh, Marta,” one of them teases, “look what’s for dinner tonight—a big hunk!” Nervous laughter fills the room. “Robbed the cradle, she did,” the woman says. A second woman hoots, “Woo hoo, check out those feet. You woman enough, Marta?” More laughter.
Parker tries to force a little smile in their direction, but the look on the face of the silent third woman instantly chills the effort. Parker feels her jealousy like an icy finger in his chest.
“She’s gonna be walking funny tomorrow,” the first woman says.
“Shut up, Fay,” the pinched-face third woman snaps.
Parker feels like apologizing to her as the bedroom door closes behind him.
Marta is tall and athletic-looking, with broad shoulders, slender hips, and a fluid walk. She makes no attempt at conversation, but walks around Parker, gently running her palms over his shoulders, his back, his buttocks, his broad chest and flat stomach. When she touches his rising manhood through his jumpsuit, she takes in a breath through her pursed lips and says, “Oh my!”
Parker stands like a statue, awash with physical sensations. When Marta begins pulling her silken blouse over her head, he feels his heart pounding in his ears.
“Well,” she says as she slips out of her dark blue tights, “am I going to have to undress you, too?” Her voice is teasing, raspy.
When he is out of his jumpsuit, Marta comes to him like a cat, all slow grace, eyeing him up and down, a sly smile on her lips. She twirls the soft, curled hair on his chest with a finger, brushes the smooth skin of her stomach against him, and stretches her slender arms to encircle his neck. When her torso comes into full contact with his, Parker feels as though his body will crack open and spill its contents onto the floor. A light seems to be flashing in the room, and he hears sounds like water rushing through pipes. He groans under the sensory onslaught.
“Yes,” he hears her whisper, and she runs her warm tongue slowly over his left nipple. Parker shudders. She loosens her grip around his neck, slides down to a kneeling position, and takes as much of him as she can in her mouth. Parker’s legs tremble like he is hoisting a great weight.
A few moments later she stands, licks her lips, and brushes them against Parker’s. He smells his own musk on her breath. She takes his hand again, pulls him to the bed. She turns him around and pushes on his chest until he is forced to sit down, keeps pushing until he is lying flat. She stands looking at him, his erect manhood and flushed skin, as though he is a table of delicious food. She parts and moistened her lips again with her tongue, and with her eyes closed halfway, begins slowly stroking herself, her breath loud in her throat.
Parker’s mouth is dry. He starts to sit up, but she pushes him back down and straddles his supine form, the soft hair between her legs sending small charges through his body as it brushes the taut skin of his manhood. She stares into his face, licking her lips, cupping her breasts like offerings and squeezes their reddened, puffy tips. Small moans of pleasure escape her throat. She wets a finger with her juices and puts it to his lips.
“Taste me.” He can even before she forces the finger into his mouth. And smell her. The room seems filled with the dark odor of her armpits, her crotch. Her skin glows and hair between her legs glistens, slick with moisture.
With her free hand, she traces the contours of his pectorals. He winces as she rakes a fingernail across his nipple, and his abdomen quivers as she brings the nails lower. She threads her fingers into the lush hair that frames his cock and tugs at it. His erection bounces against her and she gasps.
Finally, she reaches between her legs and squeezes him. Parker feels his back arch. With a long, low sigh, Marta lowers herself onto him.
It’s like melting into her. At one moment he feels himself lying on his back on the bed, and in the next he is on top looking down at his body. And in the next all of him is inside of her, tumbling in sweet, warm blackness. In the next he is her engorged nipples crying out to be squeezed. He feels her hand pressing on his chest now, but then feels his (her?) hips opening wider and the delicious, almost unbearable sensation of being filled. He hears gasps, but can no longer tell from which of them they come. The bed begins to spin and rock, and static crackles in his ears. His (her?) skin feels like it is peeling away as they climb upward in a dizzying spiral.
Something is giving way, thinning. He (she?) rushes toward something, the atmosphere around them groaning, snapping. Beneath his closed eyelids, Parker sees both of their bodies become wispy fog, like the Milky Way looks on clear summer nights. He watches as if from a distance as they swirl into one another’s space, melding and exchanging subtle hues, watery rainbows swaying and intertwining in rhythmic patterns, passing through them. In this instant, Parker lives this woman’s lifetime, knows her bruises and fantasies, sees the faces of her mother and sister and shadowy images of others in her lineage, the letters of her name and its significance. He knows her emotional struggles, her studies, her insecurities, experiences each of her many other lovers, feels her involuntary pelvic contractions as his own . . . and in the distance he hears a terrified scream.
Startled, he opens his eyes. Marta is backing into a far corner of the room, her face a mask of terror and confusion. When she reaches the adjoining walls, she slides down into a crouch and flutters her hands before her like little flags in a stiff wind.
Parker manages to find his voice. “What’s wrong? Are you all right?”
“Get out! Go away!” she screams.
The scratchy sound of her voice make him flinch. He scrambles from the bed and reaches for his jumpsuit lying flaccid at the foot of the bed. Before he can cover himself, the door flies open and the housemates rush in, their eyes wide and faces white. Seeing Marta cowering against the wall crying, one rushes to her side and tries to grab Marta’s flailing hands.
“He’s in me. He’s in me! Get him out!” Marta screams. She claws at her arms and breasts, raising fiery welts.
The second housemate backs away from Parker, her eyes full of fear. She is stopped by a small table behind her, and the lamp on it falls to the floor with a crash. She picks it up and swings it around in front of her in a pathetic gesture of defense. The pinched-face woman stands in the doorway and screams, “You bastard! You filthy pig! What did you do to her?”
“Nothing,” Parker stammers. “I don’t know what’s wrong with her.”
“Oh God. He’s in me!” Marta wails from the corner.
His very cells ache. His insides feel torn, bleeding.
He wants to help Marta somehow, but the cowering, panicked women keep yelling at him. He manages to dress and leave the apartment in a matter of seconds, but the struggle to regain his composure takes hours. When he finally returns to the Califas compound, no amount of prodding from his brothers can pry the story from him. Eventually they give up, and ever after consider Parker even more of a freak. Sexual Services never again calls. If they had, Parker would have refused. The SS pin still lies at the bottom of a drawer in his quarters.
From out of the swirl of horrific memory, Mother Avalon’s face appeared to him. “It was quite painful for you.” It was not a question. “And you never tried again?”
Parker shook his head.
“No, I don’t suppose you could have. I will venture a guess as to what happened. She wasn’t able to meet your power, even then. It is not something to be ashamed of. It was devastating for you, yes. If you opened to her, and it seems you did, you crossed her psyche’s defenses. In a sense, you became her. This is what often happens during such intimate moments, though most of the time, most people are unconscious to the process. You inducted her into it, however, and she was quite unprepared.”
She patted his hand. “Do you know what happened to her?”
“I . . . I never saw her again, but one of the elders took me aside a week or so later and told me she had been institutionalized. He said she must have been an unstable person, that it wasn’t my fault. He encouraged me to sign up for SS again, but I can’t . . .”
“No, that would not do,” Mother Avalon said. “I wouldn’t feel too badly, Parker. She probably will be all right someday, if she’s not already. She got more than she bargained for. I expect that someday you will meet someone who . . . well, things have a way of working out over time. It is important that you understand that it could not have been otherwise. You are, shall we say, special.”
There was only one.
Despite the mismatched clothes strewn about the bed, despite the disparity in size and obvious differences of anatomy between the two bodies, or the differences of pitch and timbre in the two voices that rose and fell in monosyllabic cries of ecstasy, for a tick of eternity, only one being existed in room 3716.
With its many hands and fingers, it explored its new parameters, dipping and sliding into the tangled, dark places and across slippery new terrain. It anointed itself with the blood and semen and saliva flowing from its willing wounds. Splayed and stretched to the edges of physical limits, it groaned as again and again fiery eruptions melted away into a velvety silence.
The fecund, sweet scent of earth wafted through the room, rich with the eternal transmutation of decay into life, pulling at its senses like thirsty roots that beckon water. And there in that darkness something new, a confluence, woven from the etheric strands of ancient memory, charged with life force and set on its course in the three-dimensional world.
Kay and Parker drifted into sleep, spent but buoyed on the subtle energies that played in each other’s fields, into vague dreams filled with laughter and music, the playful press of bodies. When they slowly awoke, it was to a feeling of fulfillment and wonder at the touch of interlaced limbs, of soft breath in dry mouths. For a long while they lay there, neither speaking but in silent communion nonetheless, the knowledge seeping deep into them that their lives had changed irrevocably.
Kay could scarcely recall how it had happened. One moment they were face to face and her breath had caught in her throat at Parker’s beauty. Then a force like nothing she had ever known had swept through her and they were tumbling through space, tearing at clothes, licking and biting as if they might devour each other. She remembered flashes—the musk of his hair, a mouth on her nipples, the feel of his manhood in her hand, a brief, searing pain as Parker entered her—but the rest felt like it had happened in some other dimension.
Kay blinked at the ceiling as if it were the horizon behind which the sun would soon rise. She reveled in the softness, the utter vulnerability of her damp skin, the sweet throbbing she felt between her legs. Eventually, she licked her lips and found her voice. It was deep and sounded odd to her ears.
“Yes,” was Parker’s only response.
She rolled toward him, moved her hand across the expanse of his bare chest, her fingers tingling with each curled hair they encountered. She watched her hand as if it belonged to someone else. It moved downward, gently pushing away the sheet that lay across his stomach, as if it was sure of its destination but was in no hurry to get there.
When it did arrive, Parker sucked in his breath, and Kay marveled at how something could feel hard and soft at the same time. She lifted her head and rubbed her face against the skin on his chest and stomach, savoring the fragrance there. She grasped that mysterious part of him and pointed it toward the ceiling, wondering how it was possible that something so large had fit so perfectly inside her.
She moved so that she could feel its softness against her cheek, rubbing her face ever so gently against it, passing its length over her lips, her eyelids, following it down until her nose was buried in the tangle of hair at its base. She inhaled his essence. Parker groaned and the sound of his voice filled her with hunger. She wanted to taste him, to swallow him. She wet her lips and pressed the tip of his manhood to them, slowly opening her mouth. Parker moaned louder now, and she could feel the pulse of his heart between her lips.
In seconds, she was awash again in surprising sensations. She wanted to be filled in every part by this being, wanted him to melt into every orifice and hidden place within her. She felt his hands in her hair and his hips writhing beneath her. He pulled her from him now, and she felt a hand slide down her back and one beneath her hips. He lifted and turned her, and felt his face, deliciously rough with stubble, pressing against her breasts and her stomach and between her legs. She felt the voice arising in her again, but this time there was no terror or rage or fear, only the joyous sound of life announcing itself to the world through her.