“It’s just a chemical, you dumb bitch.”
Jocasta wasn’t sure why the words had suddenly popped into her head. She couldn’t remember where she’d heard them, or when. She couldn’t place the voice that had said them to her, even though she could hear it perfectly in her mind. He’d been angry, she could tell that much, but there was also something else in his voice. An element of pleading? Resignation?
She forced the unbidden memory from her mind, hoping none of the other High Priestesses had noticed. They had already taken up their positions, two rows of three forming a human passage for Elspeth to walk through on her way to the Ritual of Investment, but Jocasta had yet to take her place. She blinked a few times to clear her head, then moved to stand at the center of the chamber. “It is time,” she intoned, her voice echoing around the stone walls. “Let the circle once more be unbroken. Let the mortal once more touch the immortal world. Let she who would serve the Goddess come forth to prove her devotion to the Sacred Mysteries of Life Eternal. Let Elspeth, Priestess of the Second Circle, be brought unto us.”
On cue, the outer door to the ritual chamber boomed with a loud knocking sound. Outside, Jocasta knew, the other four High Priestesses waited with Elspeth. “We bring to you a supplicant to the Goddess!” High Priestess Alayna cried out from the other side of the door. “May she enter?”
Jocasta responded, “Only if her words have been devoted to the Goddess for seven times seven hours.” She knew they had; they had all taken their turns watching Elspeth in the Room of Mirrors, as she chanted the mantra of the Goddess. She had been allowed food and water–a supplicant must not enter the presence of the Goddess weak or hungry–but other than that, her every waking moment had been devoted to the chant of, “All life flows from the Goddess, all devotion flows to the Goddess.”
Between that and the lack of sleep, Jocasta mused cynically, the words were probably etched so deep in Elspeth’s brain that she’d hear them even after she’d stopped saying them.
“She has spoken nothing but the sacred words for seven times seven hours, oh Highest Priestess,” High Priestess Bathsheba replied. “May she enter?”
“Only…if her eyes have gazed into the Fires of Purification for seven times seven hours.” Jocasta almost forgot to respond, she was so shocked by her own thoughts. The Ritual of Supplication purified the thoughts of the prospective High Priestess and prepared her for a lifetime of devotion and service to the Goddess. It was a test of their will and their faith.
She remembered her own investment, chanting the words and staring into the endless mirrors, seeing herself reflected into infinity as though she was floating in a sea of versions of herself that already understood the divinity of the Goddess and were just waiting for this last tiny bit of her to see the light. The room had echoed with her chant, reflecting it back the same way the mirrors reflected the light until it seemed like a chorus of voices was telling her the same thing she told herself. All life flows from the Goddess, all devotion flows to the Goddess. She’d chanted and watched and breathed the sacred incense until she’d truly understood those words, deep in her soul. It had been a profound and mystical experience. Remembering that experience steadied her, allowing her to center herself within the Goddess once more.
“She has seen nothing but the fires lit by the Goddess for seven times seven hours, oh Highest Priestess,” High Priestess Sybilla responded. “May she enter?”
“Only if her breath has been purified by the Sacred Wind of the Goddess for seven times seven hours,” Jocasta replied. The smell of the incense still seemed to cling in her own nostrils from her time spent preparing it, but Jocasta knew it was just her imagination. The scent was very strong, though. Jocasta almost wished that someone else could prepare it–she always got light-headed, making the incense–but only the Highest Priestess was entrusted by the Goddess with the secret of making Her preparations.
“It’s just a fucking chemical, it’s not love.”
Jocasta almost looked around for the source of the voice, before realizing it was in her head. Outside the chamber, High Priestess Ophelia was calling out, “She has breathed only the Sacred Wind of the Goddess for seven times seven hours, oh Highest Priestess. May she enter?” Her words sounded no more real than the choking, angry voice Jocasta had just heard, but Jocasta knew the other voice to be only a phantom of memory. No men were allowed in the Ritual Chamber, not even those who had pledged service to the Goddess. The Goddess was most pleased by women’s forms and women’s taste, and had shaped Her Church around that. Jocasta knew of other Churches that allowed men and women to serve their gods and goddesses directly, and even those that had exclusively male priesthoods, but she had no interest in the matter.
Trying to shake off the memory of the voice, Jocasta let the routine of the Ritual guide her and calm her. “She may enter, then, as a supplicant to the Goddess.” The door swung wide, admitting Elspeth and the four High Priestesses that flanked her.
But Jocasta still couldn’t stop wondering about those sharp, strange bursts of memory. Was that what he’d been referring to, whoever he had been? The incense? She already knew that it wasn’t love. She knew exactly what the incense did and what it contained, just like all the other concoctions that the Goddess taught her how to make. It was a simple enough recipe, nothing more than a mild euphoric and an extremely mild sedative. Just enough to make Elspeth groggy, light-headed, and dull her thoughts to the point where she would accept the truth of the Goddess that much easier.
Jocasta suddenly realized where her own thoughts had been leading her, and she let out a tiny gasp at her own blasphemy. She was the Highest Priestess! How could she see Elspeth–Elspeth who was to be her sister in the Inner Circle–as a victim to be brainwashed? The physical aspects of the Ritual merely assisted the supplicant in coming to terms with the greater glory of the Goddess, allowing them to adjust quickly once they received the Sacred Truth. The Goddess was love, and Her love needed no tricks to enfold Her priestesses. Elspeth would see that, soon enough.
Jocasta refocused her thoughts on the Goddess and the Ritual as Elspeth slowly approached. This was one of the most sacred moments in service to the Goddess. She needed to think only of that. Worrying about the crude mechanics of the process diminished the sanctity of the Ritual.
As Elspeth came up to the first tier of High Priestesses, they flung their hands out to bar her approach. “Halt!” they cried in unison. “You come as a supplicant, yet you wear the robes of a priestess. Divest yourself of your prideful garments before you continue your journey.”
Elspeth disrobed slowly and mechanically, her eyes glassy with lack of sleep. Her breasts were smaller than Meredith, the priestess she was replacing, but her legs were longer and sleeker. Jocasta looked forward to running her hands along those legs later, after Elspeth had joined the Inner Circle and they were bound by blood.
Poor Meredith. Jocasta understood that the Goddess was the Goddess, and accidents happened, but she would miss Meredith. The girl had always been so sweet and understanding, with a warmth that made all the other sisters of the Inner Circle feel protective of her despite their supposed equal status. She was like a little sister to them all, and it seemed somehow unfair that she should–
But it was fair, Jocasta told herself, clamping down that line of thought quickly as Elspeth approached the second tier of priestesses. It was fair because the Goddess was the Goddess, and if the Goddess demanded all of Meredith’s gifts, then Meredith’s duty was to serve. All devotion flowed to the Goddess. All life flowed from the Goddess. All devotion flowed to the Goddess. All life flowed from the Goddess.
Jocasta gritted her teeth as the second tier of priestesses flung out their hands and cried “Halt! You come as a supplicant, yet you stand proud and tall as a priestess. Kneel in supplication before you continue your journey.” She wished they would get to her portion of the Ritual soon. She didn’t like just standing here and waiting, not when she was feeling so tense.
Elspeth crawled forward on her hands and knees, her eyes cast towards the floor. This close, Jocasta could spot the tell-tale signs of Elspeth’s arousal, and she privately congratulated herself at making a good choice from the priestesses of the Second Circle. It was sometimes difficult to tell who would be able to handle receiving the Sacred Truth of the Goddess–all of the priestesses who had made it to the Second Circle were lesbians or at least bisexual, and all of them had proved their devotion to the Church, but it took a special eye to see which of them served out of ambition and which of them served because they loved to serve. Elspeth needed to submit herself to others. That was important; even though the High Priestesses ruled the other Circles, they in turn submitted completely to the Goddess.
“Halt!” the final tier of priestesses cried, flinging their hands out in front of Elspeth yet again. “You seek the highest honor of the priesthood, so you must be the lowest of the low. Abase yourself before you continue your journey.”
Elspeth knew what to do, of course. Jocasta had helped her rehearse for many weeks. She fell down onto her belly and crawled forward, past the final tier of priestesses and across the muddy floor of the ritual chamber. Normally, the stone was scrubbed clean on a daily basis by the acolytes, but they’d spent the last few weeks reversing their normal course of action and tracking in extra dirt just for this moment. Elspeth needed to show that she was willing to abase herself completely to the will of the Goddess.
Jocasta looked down at her, all her doubts subsumed in the flood of ritual. “Do you, Elspeth, wish to devote yourself fully to the Goddess?”
“I do,” Elspeth replied. She looked up at Jocasta, her eyes shining with the light of fervent belief.
Jocasta favored her with a tiny smile. “Do you, Elspeth, wish to commit yourself now and for all time to a life of service to the Goddess?”
“I do,” Elspeth replied. There was never any doubt she would say otherwise, not after the years of service she had given to the Church. Jocasta had never heard a supplicant back out, not in her years as High Priestess or Highest Priestess. Every time she had performed the ritual, the call and response had been the same.
Every time… “Do you, Elspeth, believe in the eternal and incorruptible nature of the Goddess, she who does not yield to death or decay, and who will someday bring us all into eternal life?” How many times had she invested a new High Priestess? A dozen? Two dozen? The Goddess was the Goddess, and accidents happened, but…now, as she thought about it, that seemed like a lot of accidents. It made the Goddess seem a bit careless. Jocasta furiously castigated herself for the thought, but it refused to leave her mind.
“I do,” Elspeth said, her voice bright with belief. Jocasta suddenly wondered how her voice would sound if she was asked to answer the Tests of Devotion. She realized that she didn’t want to know.
“Rise, Elspeth,” Jocasta said, forcing down her questions into the patterns of ritual, “and prepare to prove your devotion.” Her hands trembled as she took the cup from the stand behind her. “This is the Cup of Death,” she pronounced. “To sip from it is to drink a poison none can withstand, not man nor woman nor beast nor bird. In this cup is death made liquid, a fatal draught that needs must slay you upon the instant. Do you understand, Elspeth?”
“I do,” Elspeth said. Jocasta saw that it was true–for all that it was ritual, Elspeth was so lost in the moment that she truly believed the cup contained poison as Jocasta handed it to her. The endless rehearsals, the attempts to stave off fits of giggles as she drank mulled wine and tried to pretend it was deadly poison, all those were lost in the totality of the ceremony. Elspeth truly believed. Jocasta felt suddenly and inexplicably guilty for lying to her.
She didn’t let it show, though. “Then prove that your devotion to the Goddess encompasses your life, Elspeth. Drink deep of the Cup of Death. Should the Goddess accept your sacrifice, She will protect you with Her life eternal.”
Elspeth drained the cup with a single swallow. She stood there, terror and ecstasy mingling on her face as the priestesses chanted, “All life flows from the Goddess, all devotion flows to the Goddess, all life flows from the Goddess, all devotion flows to the Goddess…” After a moment, Elspeth reflexively joined in the chant herself.
With every moment, the astonishment on Elspeth’s face grew. Jocasta remembered thinking the same thoughts Elspeth must be thinking now–she had drunk deep of the Cup of Death, but the Goddess had saved her and spared her. Jocasta remembered the joy rising within her soul every second, the wild exhilaration of knowing she was loved and protected by the Goddess. She wondered if the Highest Priestess who had inducted her was just mechanically counting the seconds until the euphoric drug in the cup took effect, too.
She saw that Elspeth’s pupils had dilated fully, and raised her hand for silence. Elspeth swayed slightly, still mouthing the words of the chant as the drug flowed through her veins. Jocasta felt like a card sharp performing her tricks before a particularly gullible mark–Elspeth just accepted anything Jocasta told her, now. The drug almost seemed unnecessary. But Jocasta knew better. The drug was vital to the ritual. The Goddess had created it to have a very specific effect, reacting with the olfactory nerves to produce surges of euphoria in the presence of strong odors. And She had designed the ritual around that drug.
A few short hours ago, that just seemed like evidence of the divine wisdom of the Goddess. Now it seemed almost like cheating.
“Now, Elspeth,” she said, “you have proved that you are willing to entrust your life to the Goddess. But yet She must have greater proof of your devotion.” Ophelia and Sybilla stepped in front of Elspeth, holding between them a pet carrier. It seemed oddly incongruous in the ritual chamber.
They opened the carrier and took out a rabbit. Jocasta felt an unexpected surge of sadness. Her familiar had been a rabbit, too. She’d chosen it with great ceremony, the day she had been invested as a Priestess of the First Circle. It had looked up at her with soulful brown eyes and twitched its nose at her, and she had felt a deep and mystical connection to it in that very instant. She had taken care of it all through her time in the First Circle, and after her advancement to the Second Circle.
“You must be willing to do anything for the Goddess, Elspeth,” Jocasta said as Alayna brought forth the bronze knife. “Do you understand?” Jocasta realized with a pang of loss that she’d forgotten her familiar’s name. Had she really been a sister of the Inner Circle for that long?
Elspeth looked surprised–this was a part of the ritual they hadn’t told her about–but she took the knife in one hand, and held the rabbit by the ears with the other. It didn’t struggle. They’d sedated it, after they took it from Elspeth’s room. This wasn’t about cruelty. (Not to the rabbit, said a furious voice inside her head. It’s cruel to Elspeth, it was cruel to you, but Heaven forfend we let the rabbit feel any pain!)
Jocasta blinked away tears. She still couldn’t remember the name–was it Donald? That name rung a bell…she struggled to remember, even as she watched Elspeth’s face carefully. Some supplicants struggled with this moment. Some even failed, unable to go through with it. Meredith had struggled mightily. Her eyes had been wide and sorrowful, and she’d hesitated for a long moment, but she’d done it. Jocasta had been relieved. Meredith had shown too much promise to fail, and Jocasta had already loved her too much to dispose of her as a failure. (Poor Meredith.)
Elspeth didn’t hesitate, though. Her eyes gleamed with the fires of devotion, and she brought the knife across in a single swift gesture. Suddenly, the air was thick with the hot smell of iron, and Elspeth shuddered in pleasure. She wouldn’t know why, of course. She wouldn’t understand that the drug had done it, that Jocasta had done it by drugging her. She’d only know she obeyed and it felt good. But Jocasta knew. It was her fault.
Bert. She’d named her rabbit Bert. Not bursting into tears was the hardest thing Jocasta had ever done as a priestess.
After a long moment, she found her voice. “You have proven your devotion in all ways, and in all things,” she said. “Now, it is time for you to learn the Sacred Truth of the Goddess, the innermost secret of the Inner Circle. You have shown yourself to be worthy, Elspeth. To you we entrust our greatest truth.”
Elspeth’s eyes widened, and she listened intently. “The Goddess is not a metaphor, Elspeth. She is not an idea, or a symbol. The Goddess we serve is real. She does not yield to death or decay; She is truly eternal and incorruptible.” Jocasta gestured to the inner door of the ritual chamber. “She waits for you beyond that door. She waits to receive your gift. You will have many duties as a High Priestess of the Inner Circle. Some you know about already. Some you will learn about in days to come. But your true duty is to bring the gift of life to the Goddess.”
Looking at the vacant joy on Elspeth’s face as she held the knife, her body red with spatters of blood, Jocasta knew that Elspeth would find some of the duties of the Inner Circle very easy indeed. She felt a strange surge of relief at that. Somehow, those duties seemed to weigh heavier on her now than ever before. At the time, they’d always seemed easy, almost unimportant when set against the love of the Goddess, but–
“Love is buying someone chocolates and flowers, not gutting some poor bastard like a fish because he knows too much.”
The voice again. It sounded more familiar than ever. Jocasta wanted nothing more than to stop the ritual, find someplace quiet and try to remember where she’d heard it. But her devotion to the Goddess prevented her. Her devotion to the Goddess was like a weight in her mind, dragging her back to it no matter how hard she tried to get away.
Why would she try to get away? She loved the Goddess. She served the Goddess. She loved to serve the Goddess. Where were these thoughts coming from?
Jocasta became aware that the other priestesses were staring at her. She cleared her throat and continued, trying to pretend she didn’t feel the tears streaking her cheeks. “And as–as we are all sisters in the Inner Circle, we all bring our gifts of life to the Goddess in turn. Understand that as your gift to the Goddess is the gift of life, our gift to you is patience. We all wish to give our gifts to the Goddess, but we have allowed you to do so today. Now, Elspeth, honor the gift your sisters have given you.”
Elspeth turned and bowed to the other priestesses. “Thank you, sisters, for granting me the opportunity to serve the Goddess directly. I hope to be so gracious when it is your turn to serve.”
Jocasta undid the sash on her robes, letting them fall open and then shrugging them off completely. “Now, Elspeth, look upon me. See the Mark of the Goddess upon me.” As close as Elspeth was, she probably couldn’t miss the twin scars on Jocasta’s inner thigh. “Soon, you will have a Mark of your own. This is our gift to you, Elspeth. We wait for our next chance to serve the Goddess, so that you might serve all the sooner. Now, shower your gratitude on me, knowing that through me, you show your gratitude to all the sisters of the Inner Circle.”
Ursula almost remembered the dream that night.
The alarm shattered most of it; even as she was waking up, the strident buzzing noise crashed through the memories, leaving nothing but fragments. She grasped at them, trying to hang onto something, anything at all. There was a hand, she knew, a hand sliding down the swell of her hip and…and a taste like wet rubber…no good. It was gone. Ursula hit the snooze button, but the dream didn’t come back. Instead, she just lay there, her hand drifting down between her thighs to feel her slick pussy, touching her tingling clit… The dream always left her horny as fuck, whatever it was.
The alarm went off a second time before she could really do anything about it, though, and Ursula rolled over to realize she didn’t have time to indulge even if she could… She staggered out of bed and stumbled into the shower, counting on the hot water to help her body realize that it wasn’t time to masturbate, it was time to get to work. Even so, she found herself devoting a little extra attention to making sure her cunt was nice and soaped up (hands all over her body) before taking the shower head attachment and giving it a nice, long rinse with plenty of water pressure (her own voice moaning, “feels soooo good…”) But as always lately, she couldn’t seem to close the gap between pleasure and release. The pleasure just reminded her of the dream, and then she tried to chase those memories and wound up with nothing but frustration. Frustrated in body, frustrated in mind. Not the best way to start work.
She pulled her comb angrily through her long auburn hair. She’d have to leave it wet, there was just no time to dry it. No time for contacts, either–she just slipped a pair of glasses over her liquid brown eyes, bringing the world into focus (was the world in focus in the dream? A momentary flash of someone taking off her glasses, the last flash she’d get all day) and pulled on her clothes before heading out the door into the gray London morning.
Work was already chaotic by the time she got there. Customer queues were up to ten minutes, dropped calls were spiking, and Andrea shot her a look when she walked in that was half-glare, half-plea. “No time for coffee this morning, Ursie. Just get on the phones, I’ll give you an extra break once things calm down.”
Ursula winced. “Without coffee, I’m liable to reach straight through the phone lines and strangle someone. What the fuck happened, anyway? Was there a recall or something?”
Andrea waved her to her desk as she talked. “No, a firmware update with a bug in it. They’re hot-patching through a fix in an hour or two, but we get the fallout in the meanwhile. Go, sit. I’ll bring you coffee. Black, right?”
“Two sugars,” Ursula said. “I’ll need the extra energy.” She saw Andrea’s sympathetic look just before her manager darted out of view; pretty much the whole office knew that Ursula had been sleeping like shit for the past three weeks, even if she hadn’t gotten into the details of the dream that had been leaving her wrung out, frustrated, and irritable. Andrea was being about as nice as she could be, given that Ursula knew she couldn’t be very pleasant to be around right now.
Unlike some other people, Ursula thought, putting on her headphones as she signed in. The flood of calls kept her from even finishing that sentence in her head for a minute or two as she politely explained to one caller after another that this was merely a momentary disruption in service, and that the ETA of the fix was now two hours. But as she went through her emails and read up on details of the bug (how the fuck had this even gone live? she wondered), she noticed that once again, there were no emails from Chandra. No “good morning”, no “how did you sleep?”, not even a forwarded list of lawyer jokes.
During the half-second pause from one call to the next, Ursula leaned back in her chair. Sure enough, Chandra was sitting just three cubicles down, and Ursula could hear her best friend’s clipped, polite tones as she delivered the same apologetic bromides that Ursula herself had been saying. But she didn’t have anything to say to Ursula.
Ursula tried to push it all out of her head and focus on work. No time for fragments of dream, no time to wonder which particular burst of frustration had pissed off Chandra so bad, no time to think about how she was horny all the time but sessions with her vibrator just seemed to whet the appetite of a body that ached so bad for some secret pleasure locked in the world of slumber and Ursula didn’t even know what it was, but she needed it, needed it so fucking bad that…
Her hands shook as she took a gulp of coffee between calls. “Fucking hell,” she muttered to herself, barely managing to mute the phone first.
Around ten o’clock the patch went through, and call volume finally subsided to a dull roar long enough for Ursula to look at the break schedule. True to her word, Andrea had scheduled her for an extra ten minutes at around four–right when Chandra had her break, too. Was the whole office aware that they were fighting now? (What was she thinking–of course the office was aware of it. This place ran on gossip and coffee like cars ran on gasoline.) Whatever the reason, Andrea had given them a chance to talk, and Ursula intended to use it. The day might have started shit and gotten worse, but she was going to get one positive thing done. She was going to patch things up with her best friend.
At four, she signed out of the phones and stood up. “Chandra,” she said as she headed down the rows, “I was–” She stopped. Chandra was already four cubicles down and accelerating, her head resolutely forward in a way that made it obvious that she’d looked at the break schedules too and wanted to make it absolutely clear that she didn’t notice Ursula behind her. Ursula thought about pursuing, but some of the tension inside her chose that moment to snap. “Fuck it,” she grunted, prompting an irritated look from Janine, who was on the phone with a customer. Ursula headed off to get another coffee.
She sat there in the break room, staring out the window at the little wind chimes that some bugger had hung up in the hopes that it would make the place look cheerful and stirring her coffee, trying to figure out where it had all gone wrong. Not just with Chandra, with…with…the sun briefly peeked out from behind the clouds, throwing the crystals of the wind chime into brief, dazzling light. The sparkling crystal caught Ursula’s eye for just a moment, a perfect rainbow effect, and she whispered to herself, “can’t resist…”
She blinked. Where the hell had that come from? Resist what? She tugged at her bangs in frustration. This had all started because of the dreams. If she could just remember what she was dreaming about, then maybe she could patch things up with Chandra, and–
No. That didn’t make sense. Whatever was up with Chandra, it had absolutely nothing to do with the dreams that had haunted her for the last three weeks. Even as Ursula tried to wonder why she was so certain of that, the insistent refrain kept up in the back of her mind that Chandra had nothing to do with it, until she couldn’t even remember exactly what it was that Chandra didn’t have anything to do with anymore. Frazzled and bewildered, she took her coffee back to work with her, barely making it back in time to sign in, and finished her shift in the same bad mood she’d started it in.
And then it was off for home. Ursula watched a bit of telly when she got in, but her heart wasn’t in it. Instead, she found herself sliding between the sheets, pulling out her vibrator, and slowly slipping it into a cunt that had been wet and needy all fucking day. She pumped the dildo in and out of herself, turning up the buzzing sensation to the max, trying to think of bubble baths with David Tennant and lying in front of a fireplace with Richard Grant and, and it wasn’t doing any fucking good, she wanted the dream, she needed the dream!
Eventually, she slept.
Ursula very nearly remembered the dream that night.
It was more than two hands, she realized on waking. She could feel a hand on her hip, a pair of hands rubbing her nipples, and hands right down between her thighs, putting pressure with the thumb right on her clit while she moaned out…moaned out…something. That bit was lost.
Ursula pondered this revelation while she soaked under the hot water. It was so vivid, that was the worst thing about it. While she was asleep, the dream wasn’t just the usual movie playing in the theater of her mind’s eye. It was a full sensurround performance of the most erotic thing she could possibly imagine, every detail of sight and sound and touch and taste and smell (spices, it smelled like spices) until her body just quivered with need and she woke up to a damp patch on her sheets (hands behind her back, she couldn’t move them)…
And then she woke up, and it just poured away like water down a drain. Gone into the recesses of her mind, no matter how hard she chased after it. No matter how long she stared down at the drain, watching the water swirl away and trying to remember just a little bit more (salty taste of sweat-slick flesh in her mouth) and just a little bit more (“the pendant always dangles down…”) and…
When she got out, Ursula let out a tiny yelp as she realized she’d been in the shower for forty-five minutes. More wet hair, no contacts again, and even with all that she still walked into work five minutes late. Andrea shot her an undiluted glare, and frustration almost made Ursula glare right back before she reminded herself that things like that were why Chandra wasn’t on speaking terms with her anymore. Instead, she swallowed her irritation and said, “Sorry, trouble sleeping again.”
“Thought about seeing a therapist?” Andrea asked.
“With what this job pays?” Ursula said wryly. “I’d be lucky if I could afford a stage hypnotist.” She blinked. “I must be tired, I don’t even know what that fucking means.”
Andrea patted her on the shoulder. “Just try not to take it out on the customers, love,” she said. “Friday’s coming soon, you’ll have the whole weekend to try to get your head together.”
“Alcohol helps that, doesn’t it?” Ursula said as she headed to her cube, and the two parted with a laugh.
But the joke sparked a thought in Ursula’s mind, as she went through the normal routine of skimming through memos and checking email (still nothing from Chandra) and answering call after dull, interminable call. Alcohol. Not right that moment, of course; Ursula might be fried, but she wasn’t fried enough to drink on the job. No, Ursula was thinking about Friday nights after work, office girls getting together to have a drink or two to unwind after a long, stressful workweek. Ursula hadn’t been to one since the dreams had started, she’d been too afraid that liquor would loosen her tongue without getting rid of her stress, an ugly combination. But if she went tomorrow night…and if she could convince Chandra to go as well, just for one or two drinks…
Ursula felt certain that all she needed to do was just talk to her. They’d been friends for four years now, ever since they’d both been trainees here. They’d shared the heartbreak of Ursula’s big break-up with Keith, Ursula collapsing into a puddle of sobs on Chandra’s couch. She’d returned the favor when Chandra’s grandfather had died, consoling her friend and going to the funeral with her. Whatever this was, it couldn’t come between them forever. Could it?
She signed out of work a half-minute early, drawing another tiny glare from Andrea that was met with a pleading glance. She’d make it up to her boss tomorrow. Today, she needed to already be on her feet as Chandra was signing out of the network, already heading down the row as Chandra was standing up, so she could shout, “Chandra!” in a tone of forced cheer.
Chandra looked anything but cheerful as she spun around. She looked like she’d been cornered by an angry tiger. “Urs…” she said, nervously. “I, um, I can’t stay. Got to hurry home…”
“Tomorrow,” Ursula said. “Friday nights at the Roving Pony? Just come out for a drink or two, us and the girls. Neutral ground, one drink and then you can skip off if you want.” She tried to sound casual, keeping the pleading out of her voice.
“I, I…can’t, I can’t, I’m sorry,” Chandra said as she gathered her stuff up hurriedly. All around them, co-workers hurried out the door, trying to be polite and not eavesdrop on what was obviously a private conversation. (They’d all just try to get it out of either Ursula or Chandra the next day.)
“Look, I can’t remember what I did to make you so mad,” Ursula said, “but whatever it is, I’m sorry.”
Wrong thing to say. Chandra clutched her handbag convulsively like a gunshot victim, and practically sprinted for the door, with one last “I’m sorry,” trailing her out as she left.
Ursula sighed, making her own way to the exit. Whatever it was that had made Chandra mad, it was clearly one of those things that Ursula was expected to not need to be told. Which would only make things more difficult, if (as was the case) Ursula really did have no idea what she’d done wrong. She tried to think back to the last night she and Chandra had spoken…
And decided it must not have anything to do with that night. That night had been perfectly normal, just two good friends having a quiet evening of boring telly and casual conversation. Nothing important, nothing to worry about, and certainly nothing that would cost Ursula a friendship.
Which left Ursula just as confused about Chandra as she was about the dreams, she thought as she got back to her apartment. (Not that the two had anything to do with each other.) It was all just a big mess, a bunch of big messes all tangling together and leaving her strung up in the web of it all. She flipped on the TV angrily, hoping for some sort of distraction.
Instead, her body distracted her from the TV. She sat there on the couch, trying to numb her brain with one reality show or another, but her hand just crept down into the waistband of her trousers. She found that hot, needy crease and slipped a finger inside, hand trapped by the fabric of her pants (couldn’t move her hands, just quivered in ecstasy) as she diddled her clit. The television just became a blur of images as her eyes unfocused (staring straight ahead, eyes vacant and empty) and she felt like she was getting closer, like she was almost there, almost remembering the perfect pleasure of the dream…
And as soon as she thought of the dream, she lost it. It was like a gate slamming down in her mind, cutting her off from the memory and the pleasure with it. Ursula almost cried. Her mind couldn’t remember the dream, but her pussy certainly could, and it seemed like nothing else would satisfy it. She never stopped being horny now, she wanted to masturbate herself stupid…
Instead, she went to bed.
Ursula thought she remembered the dream that night.
It was right there, all crystal clear as she woke up. She remembered it perfectly, in every vivid, glorious, hot, sexy, wonderful detail. It seemed so silly that she’d ever forgotten it. The knowledge completed her, not just filling the nagging ache that came from not knowing but filling in every missing part of her soul. Ursula reveled in the knowledge, holding it in her mind like it was a tangible object, one that she just wanted to hold forever…
Then she really woke up.
That was almost the last straw. When she realized that she’d just been dreaming that she remembered the dream, Ursula let out a choked sob into her pillow, the despairing cry of a woman close to her breaking point. She looked over at the clock, and even though it was still an hour or so before the alarm would go off, Ursula knew she wouldn’t be getting any more sleep that night. She got up wearily, trudged into the shower, and cleaned herself off perfunctorily before slipping on her clothes. At least today she had time to dry her hair before heading off to the tube.
She got to work twenty minutes early, which earned her back some of the goodwill she’d lost yesterday with Andrea, and made another deposit in her friendship bank by promising to buy the first round at the Roving Pony. But the rest of the day passed in a haze, punctuated by moping stares at Chandra’s back, bathroom breaks that always seemed to end with her fingers in her snatch, and a dull, grinding headache that aspirin couldn’t cure. The pub promised to help with none of that, but at least she could get too drunk to care.
Ursula walked into the Prancing Pony to a round of cheers from eager co-workers; she tried to hide her disappointment on seeing that Chandra wasn’t one of them. Instead, she bought a round of drinks and listened politely to the gossip currently circulating through the office (Mrs. Halliday was preggers again, Jakob was schtupping a girl in HR, and something about someone being gay that got stifled rather quickly when she came in earshot.) After a few rounds, she found herself sitting by Andrea.
“Glad you decided to come out here,” Andrea said as she took a gulp of stout. “It might not help you with your sleep problems, but at least you can forget them for a while. Shame Chandra didn’t make the trip, though. I thought that maybe once you’d forgiven her, she–”
“Me?” Ursula said, trying not to sound bitter. “I’ve got no problem with Chandra at all! She’s the one who’s got the problem.”
Andrea quirked her eyebrow. “Well, whatever her problem is, you seem to be the one who’s not letting it go. I’ve seen the looks she gives you when you’re not watching. She feels terrible about it, Ursie. Whatever ‘it’ is.” Andrea put her hand on Ursula’s. “You’ve been friends forever. Whatever it was she did, is it really worth losing your friendship over?”
Ursula furrowed her brow. “But she didn’t do…I mean, I thought she was mad at me, because…” She knew she was babbling even without the worried look that Andrea was giving her, but her head seemed to be coming apart and she couldn’t seem to form proper sentences. “If it’s her that feels guilty, then…it couldn’t have been, I…”
And then Ursula remembered the dream.
“I’m not so sure about this, Chan,” Ursula said as she wriggled around on the couch, trying to get comfortable. “I mean, yeah, I did say I was curious, Derren Brown and all that, but you’re not exactly a professional, are you?”
Chandra smiled. “Not to worry, Ursie,” she said as she unclipped her necklace, letting the crystal pendant dangle from her hand. “This is an old hobby of mine, I used to do it all the time with my brothers and sisters.”
“And I used to give my little brother Chinese burns all the time, but you don’t see me offering to demonstrate that to you,” Ursula said with a wry grin. All the same, she took a deep breath, inhaling the reassuring scent of spices that always seemed to linger in Chandra’s apartment, and let it out.
“Trust me,” Chandra said. “You’ll love this. It’s easy, Ursie. Easier than easy. You don’t even need to do anything. Just…hang on.” She reached over and pulled Ursula’s glasses off. “There. Like I was saying, you don’t need to do anything at all. That’s what trance is all about, Ursula. Just letting things happen.”
She held up the pendant, letting it sway just slightly in her hand as she brought it up just above Ursula’s eyeline. “You can just watch the pendant, Ursula, and all you need to do is watch and listen and relax. And that’s really just like doing nothing at all. You don’t need to do anything to watch the pendant, it’s just swinging back and forth right in front of you. You don’t need to do anything to listen to my voice, my words just go right into your head as you sit there. You don’t need to do anything to relax, Ursula. It just happens all on its own.”
The Reverend Aaron Aikens really wished he could cum right now.
It was obvious just from looking at him. He was hard as a rock, and the head of his cock was an angry, purplish red as he stroked up and down the shaft. But somehow, no matter how close he got, no matter how hard he pumped his fist over the sensitive flesh, he just couldn’t cum.
He wasn’t the only one, either. He saw out of the corner of his eye that the other men from his Light of the Lord Television Ministries had the same expression on their faces that he knew must be on his own, that mix of pleasure, arousal, and frustrated delight as they drifted on the edge of orgasm, not quite able to release. Like him, they sat there with their cocks out, stroking away but unable to get off.
With his other hand, he reached down to fondle his balls. They felt heavy, swollen with cum and aching for release, but something was holding him back. It wasn’t a lack of stimulation–his fingers couldn’t stop working pre-cum and saliva into his skin as he stroked and stroked (and where had the saliva come from? He tried to remember, but every time he chased down a train of thought, his hand slid back up around the tip of his cock and another surge of pleasure pushed it away.) He knew he should be able to cum–hell, he’d never thought he’d see a day when just looking at his secretary Mona’s heavy, full, double-D-cup tits wouldn’t pop his rocks off, but there she was, fondling his production manager’s breasts while Lisa, the wife of one of his fellow ministers, licked her tits…and he still couldn’t cum!
But he couldn’t stop, either. It just felt too good to stop. His hand wouldn’t let him stop, it just kept moving all on its own. He thought that maybe at one point he’d tried to hold his hand still and remember exactly why he was jacking off in the middle of a room full of men of faith, maybe connect the dots and figure out how the dinner party he’d organized to celebrate the success of their latest revival had turned out so strange…but his hand just kept moving, the pleasure just kept surging, and pretty soon the idea of deliberately turning away from that pleasure just to think about things that probably weren’t that important anyway seemed like madness.
“Hi, Aaron,” Tina said as she walked up to him. She’d ripped her dress off at the waist, and her panties seemed to have vanished. Or maybe she’d never worn any–Tina was good at seeming like a chaste, sweet young thing, just the kind of girl next door you’d want to lead your choir, but Aaron had held enough “closed-door meetings” to know that she was a wildcat in the sack. She seemed to be reveling in the attention she got from all the fundamentalist ministers in the room, but there was something about her eyes. Like she couldn’t not enjoy this anymore…a throbbing pulse of pleasure chased the thought out of Aaron’s head.
Tina didn’t say anything more. She just climbed up onto his lap, then turned around so that her shapely buttocks faced him. It took a bit of contortion for her to find a position that allowed her to thrust her ass right at his face, but she seemed utterly dedicated to making sure he could lick her asshole without having to get up.
Aaron found that he couldn’t help but reward that dedication. Literally, he could not help it–he found his neck bending and his head leaning forward and his tongue just seemed to extend itself from his mouth so that he could lick. Tina moaned in pleasure and wriggled her ass into his face, her enjoyment obvious, and Aaron was surprised to find that he enjoyed it too. The taste and smell sent shivers through his whole body all the way down to his now madly-throbbing cock…but it still wouldn’t cum.
“Nnngh, ohgodyes…” Tina gasped out, her whole body writhing now against him as she moaned and pressed her ass up even tighter against his face. He couldn’t see anything but her ass in his field of view, and his tongue just kept going, working its way deeper into her asshole as she whimpered and gasped, his saliva coating the whole wondrous valley of her ass now, and he just couldn’t stop, couldn’t cum, couldn’t even think…
Finally, Tina pulled away and shifted position once again, impaling her ass onto his cock. The saliva allowed it to slip into the tight opening easily, and she squatted down all the way until her ass bumped up against his hips. With his hand free of the duty of stroking, he felt the fog in his mind clear just the tiniest bit as he looked around the room. He saw his accountant, George, getting sucked off by his personal assistant, Gina. He saw George’s wife, Marcia, straddling the Reverend Daniel Haynes and pumping her hips up and down on his cock. He saw Reverend Cole and Reverend Freeman giving each other hand jobs on the couch, and everywhere, he saw that look again, that look of helpless pleasure, of– Tina’s ass gripped his cock tightly as she raised herself up and squatted down again, and the thought left his mind with a whoosh of breath as he gasped sharply in pleasure.
He saw someone else, a man he didn’t recognize wearing black clothing, filming it all with a digital video camera. The man changed angles to get an unobstructed view of Aaron’s face as he fucked Tina up the ass, and Aaron realized that the man could blackmail him, that screen-captures could wind up on the Internet, that the whole thing could wind up on the nightly news…and somehow that thought got him even hotter, the kinky thrill of knowing he could be exposed as a shameless perverted sex maniac stiffened his cock even more and would have made him cum if he was only capable of it. He redoubled his thrusts into Tina, hearing her shriek in orgasmic bliss.
She pulled off of him then, dropped to her knees and started to clean his cock off with her tongue. His hand returned to its stroking as she licked around it, bathing his dick in a fresh coating of saliva (and that sparked a memory for a moment, fleeting before the pleasure wiped it away, of the man in black drifting from person to person as the party went on, whispering things in their ears, of his secretary dropping to her knees as he pulled out his cock in front of everyone so that she could…) And then his hand stroked up to the tip again, and the memory was lost in the need to cum.
The need was endless now, maddening, it made it impossible to do anything but stroke as Tina wandered away to service another man. All Aaron could do now was whip his hand up and down along his cock with urgent, jerking motions, even as he watched Lisa slide down from Mona’s tits to her pussy and start licking like mad. It wasn’t fair, he thought! Mona was shaking and trembling, her orgasm clear just from the look on her face as Lisa licked and licked and licked, her face becoming absolutely coated with Mona’s pussy juices…but Aaron couldn’t cum, his balls just ached more and more with the need to release.
When Marcia came over to him, her dress pulled up to her waist, he almost wanted to wave her away. He couldn’t take any more of this. He couldn’t handle any more stimulation without release, and he knew that Marcia was just going to climb onto his lap and jam his cock into her pussy and fuck him until she came…but just the knowing of that made it impossible for him to refuse, just as Marcia couldn’t stop offering her juicy cunt to every man there. She needed to fuck, and he had to fuck her. Aaron knew this, but the sensation of sliding into her slick pussy drove out the understanding of why he knew.
His cock was absolutely priapic now as he thrust up to meet Marcia’s hips as she thrust down, the orgasm only held back by some mysterious power that he couldn’t remember because remembering involved thinking and thinking was impossible when he was this fucking horny. His whole body felt like it was immersed in pleasure, just on the very edge of cumming so hard…but all he could do was fuck, fuck and watch as all around him, his fellow Lights of the Lord gave in to the very same pleasures they spent all day condemning. And the man in black filmed it all.
Marcia finally whimpered out an orgasm, her eyes glazed with an overdose of sheer bliss as her body forced her to move on to the next man, to fuck him until she came yet again, as she discovered that she was capable of more pleasure than she’d ever imagined, and Aaron’s hand moved automatically back to his slick and greasy cock to stroke again. He knew it had to end sometime, he knew he couldn’t take this forever…
And then his wife, Eileen, approached. Even as his eyes took in her helpless smile and the thick, ropy strands of semen splattered across her face and bare tits, the final piece of the puzzle clicked into his mind and he knew what his body had been waiting for. She looked at him, and he understood that she wanted this, that she would enjoy this even though they both knew she had been made to want and enjoy it. That knowledge somehow made it even hotter. They were both tangled up in the trap of desires they couldn’t fight, and they enjoyed it because they were forced to enjoy it and they enjoyed being forced to enjoy it because they were forced to enjoy that, and it just never seemed to end and the pleasure built until Aaron felt his cock spurt burst after burst of cum onto her face.
Eileen smiled as his cum splattered onto her make-up. The man in black smiled as he filmed it. And Aaron smiled as he felt his cock begin to harden again.
He was proud of the posting. After a long and distinguished career in the military, General Scott Hendrickson (Retired) had immediately accepted the President’s invitation to take on the new role of Anti-Pornography Czar. Indeed, the whole position was his idea, really – he’d come to view the explosion of video and internet pornography as a corrosive force as harmful and dangerous to American society as any military foe. And he’d missed no occasion to tell his close friend, the President, just how insidious the continuing sexualization of American life was. Why, it stood against everything that had made his beloved country great, and everything that he personally stood for – discipline, family, morality, respect for one’s self and for others.
The post was ceremonial, but between Hendrickson’s enormous energy, his political connections, and his immense popularity with the American people, he felt he’d already begun to make an impact, just a few months into his new position. Stricter anti-porn laws were already working their way through local and Federal legislatures. Moreover, the public was beginning to buy into Hendrickson’s message that pornography was antithetical to a strong family and a dignified life. As a true and unblemished American hero, his “Just say no to porn” message was beginning to have a measurable effect on sales, rentals and online viewing of pornography. The multibillion-dollar porn industry was really beginning to sweat.
Still, Hendrickson was always in search of new allies and new avenues to the public. That’s why he was intrigued by the letter he’d received recently from Concerned Citizens Against Pornography, a new interest group which was offering liberal assistance to his efforts. He’d asked his staff to check into the group, but it was only a couple of months old, and had little track record. Still, a little research on the group’s founder, Bill Davos, showed that he definitely had the financial resources to make a difference, although the source of his wealth remained unclear, and Davos himself a cipher.
CCAP claimed great expertise in marketing and advertising, and had offered to create and distribute a series of high profile public interest advertisements against pornography, all at its own expense. The ads would range from short TV spots to much longer video presentations that could be used in schools, church groups and so on. All in all, it was a multimillion-dollar commitment, and it certainly got Hendrickson’s attention.
Enclosed with the letter was a CD-ROM containing an ad demo CCAP had already produced, targeted largely at young adults. Davos’ letter suggested that Hendrickson take a look at the demo and then contact him if he were interested in working together.
Hendrickson put the letter and CD aside temporarily to attend to his many other commitments. But at the end of the day, he picked up the disc, turned it over in his hand, then slid it into his computer. He was a bit tired, but he’d give it a look before leaving for the night.
Day One – Cumulative Viewing Time: Zero Hours
As the disc began whirring, his screen initially went black. Then the letters of CCAP slowly faded in. He noted briefly that they never seemed to become completely solid, shimmering slightly in a way that was somewhat disorienting – it was as if the letters kept coming in and out of focus just slightly. But then a voiceover began, shifting his attention and startling him slightly by its personal address.
“Hello General Hendrickson, and thank you for taking the time to view our demonstration. We hope you find it entertaining and informative.” The voice was female – low and confident.
The voice went on to describe America’s growing addiction to pornography, and CCAP’s mission to help every American understand just how subversive and consuming a habit pornography could become. It was quite repetitive with the letter, Hendrickson noted somewhat impatiently, though somehow less concise, containing a lot of unnecessary detail, empty sounding platitudes, and outright repetition. Between the slightly blurry lettering and the rambling of the voiceover, CCAP was not off to a good start. Still, there was no way to fast forward, so Hendrickson sat back a bit and waited out the introduction. He had to admit, the woman’s voice itself was pleasant enough to listen too – feminine and melodious, yet nonetheless authoritative. He found himself reflecting more on the cadence of her voice than on the words themselves.
After quite some time, the woman’s voice turned to the demo he was about to see, noting that it was one of their longer promos, aimed at college students and young adults. Since it was designed for a young, cynical audience, it strove for realism, straight talk, and vernacular language – even if this meant an uncommon degree of explicitness. And to apply to a short-attention span generation, it relied on images, sound bytes, and high production values. Hendrickson nodded in a slightly absentminded way, letting the words wash over him. The concept seemed to make sense.
Finally, after a seeming eternity, the promo itself began. The screen faded back to black, then small glittering stars appeared, pulsating slightly at different intervals. A rhythmic baseline and beat began playing softly, followed quickly by a different woman’s voice – faster, more urgent, than the first: “The proliferation of pornography in America is truly astounding.”
Magazine covers featuring buxom, scantily clad women began flashing on the screen – Playboy flashing to Penthouse flashing to Hustler and so on.
“Over 240 monthly magazines, 53 adult video producers, and hundreds of completely unregulated websites sell sexual fantasy to American men each year.”
“From mainstream publications and sites showing standard T&A shots…”
“To racially focused media specializing in Blacks…”
“to fetish media focused on long legs…”
“and leather-clad mistresses.”
“A special temptation for every conceivable fantasy.”
The images came rapidly, indicating the sheer volume of pornographic materials available. Magazine, video and website covers and teasers mostly – nothing hardcore, but all extremely revealing. The staccato bursts of light reflected off of Hendrickson’s eyes. He’d slumped back into his seat a bit more, his legs spreading slightly.
Eventually, the barrage of images ended, and the presentation shifted to two blonde women sitting across from one another on a talk show set, chairs angled out toward the viewer. Both were dressed in short cocktail dresses, slightly risqué in their cut. Their bodies filled out the dresses as few women can – firm flesh swelling and curving magnificently beneath the sheer silk.
“Hi, I’m Bunny Mounds, and this is Bitsy Bare. We’re former porn stars, and we’re here to warn you about the perils of watching porn.”
Bitsy nodded and crossed her legs, momentarily revealing the top of her thigh-highs. She turned to the camera. “What porn companies don’t want you to know is how easily a quick look can turn into an all-consuming obsession.” She tousled her long, blond hair.
“Exactly, Bitsy. The temptation of lush young bodies is often just too much to resist. It’s hard for anyone not to start thinking about all the things they’d like to do to the girls in front of them. Pretty soon, the fantasy crowds out all other thoughts.”
“Mmm hmmm. Work, family, morality… it all just fades away in the face of sexual need.”
And so the conversation went – sound bites passed quickly between the two women, one nodding slowly while the other turned deep blue eyes toward the camera.
Time passed. Hendrickson was staring slack-jawed at the screen, nodding slightly along with Bitsy and Bunny. For some reason he wasn’t following the two women’s conversation very well. They kept smoothing their skirts, recrossing their legs, and twirling their hair in a very distracting manner. He was very tired, somehow, yet his gaze never wavered from the screen. From time to time, bits of the conversation would come into focus for him.
“…That’s right Bunny. Once we’ve got you staring at our big bouncy tits and hot little pussies, we’ve got you right where we want you. You just can’t stop watching… and wishing.”
“No Bitsy, pretty soon all men get lost in a pair of hot tits. It’s what nature intended.”
“MMMMM. Exactly, Bunny. Once a man’s cock is nice and hard, he’s at our mercy.”
“You said it.” Bunny leaned forward toward the camera, staring intently and punctuating her words — “A Hard Cock Makes for a Soft Mind…”
In these moments, Hendrickson had a sense that something wasn’t right. Was it the language they were using? Or the tone of the conversation, which seemed almost mocking? Or was it the insistent tingling in his groin? He couldn’t quite get his thoughts to coalesce, however, and soon the conversation, and his concerns, slipped from his mind again.
“…And now that the internet’s in every office, porn’s becoming a real problem at work, too.”
“It sure is, Bitsy. After all, what man would rather push paper around when he could be watching me sucking cock and playing with myself?”
Bitsy nodded and laughed. Hendrickson’s lips, parted slightly, turned up into a small smile. His eyes were heavily lidded, pupils dilated slightly and fixed on the screen.
In and out of focus. Moments of concern overwhelmed by a foggy lassitude. So it went for over an hour.
* * *
He found himself staring at the black screen of his computer. He was unsure how long he’d been sitting since the presentation had ended. As he slowly came back to himself, he began to register a deep concern about Davos’ video. His memory – usually quite sharp – was somewhat jumbled, and he had a hard time piecing together the whole of the message. But many of the parts he did remember seemed wildly inappropriate.
With characteristic decisiveness, Hendrickson immediately dug out the contact number supplied in Davos’ letter and picked up the phone. He’d tell them exactly what he thought of the video and be done with it. That he was calling at 9:00 PM didn’t occur to him.
A woman with a deep, husky (strangely familiar) voice answered the call immediately, introducing herself as Melanie Whitford, Davos’ assistant. She asked Hendrickson to hold for Davos. Music played as he waited. And waited.
Finally, the woman’s voice returned, startling Hendrickson somewhat. She said that Davos couldn’t talk now, but would meet him at his office first thing tomorrow morning. Hendrickson’s had been daydreaming – most unlike him – while waiting, and was having trouble pulling himself back to the matter at hand.
“Yes, General. About your partnership. The video series.” Her voice was so, breathy, somehow.
“Oh. Um. Right, the video.” Why was he so tongue-tied? “I watched the video. I found it, well… ” Unbidden, an image of firm, milky thighs encased in garters appeared in his mind, lifting and crossing slowly. “… base. And maybe… um…” He trailed off feebly.
“Why General Hendrickson, whatever could you mean? How was it base?” Her voice confident, a touch indulgent.
“Well. There were all those… um…”
“General. I think you should meet with Mr. Davos. I’m sure we can work out any differences in person. How’s 9:00 tomorrow morning?”
“Um, no. I just wanted to tell him…”
“Yes, you can tell him tomorrow. We’ll be there at 9:00 sharp – I know you’re a stickler for punctuality, aren’t you?”
“What? Um. Well, yes, I am…”
“Good, then it’s settled. 9:00 AM sharp. And General, if I might suggest,” she lowered her voice conspiratorially, “you seemed to be grasping a bit to describe our educational video. I’m sure you’d have better comments to make if you gave it another viewing before we arrived. Just so it’s fresh in your mind. I know you’ll want to be as incisive as possible in whatever criticisms you might have.”
He had to admit, she had a point. On the other hand, he thought, why waste time on something he’d already made up his mind about? He considered, as the image of Bitsy subtly licking her lips floated through his head. “Yes. I’ll do that.”
“Very gooood, General. Watch the video. And listen to the message. Watch… and… listen. Listen and watch. I’m sure you’ll be glad you did. Goodnight.”
Yes. He liked to watch. He shook his head abruptly. “Ahem. Um, yes. Goodnight then.”
He set the phone in its cradle slowly, and absently looked at his watch. How late it had gotten. He should really get home to his wife. Maybe just one more look at the presentation first, though. After all, he wanted to be prepared for the meeting.
Day 2 — Cumulative Viewing Time: Four Hours, Thirty Minutes
Hendrickson greeted Bill Davos with blood-shot eyes and an uncharacteristically limp handshake. He’d been through the video presentation twice more since agreeing to the appointment. Once right after he’d hung up the phone, and once early that morning. Sandwiched in between the viewings had been a short and fitful night’s sleep. He’d woken several times with a start, covered in sweat – as he’d often done earlier in life just before battle, or in other times of imminent danger. Of course, those other times he hadn’t awoken with a raging hard-on.
Davos was a somewhat greasy sort, paunchy and rumpled, with a fleshy, smug face. Hendrickson felt a twinge of dislike immediately – he looked like the kind of fellow that really let himself go. Davos introduced his assistant, Melanie Whitford, who clicked in behind him on six-inch heels, making her nearly as tall as Hendrickson himself. Hendrickson’s eyes widened briefly as he contemplated her business suit. Barely even professional, he thought. Extremely short, slit skirt revealing long, tapered legs. Blouse cut low to reveal full, high breasts. Long black hair cascading down behind her, accentuating her narrow waist.
“Hmmn?” Startled, he jerked his eyes from the swell of Ms. Whitford’s breasts, where they’d somehow settled, over to Davos.
“I said, shall we sit, General?”
His face flushed red, and he stammered his assent, trying to sound brisk and businesslike.
The meeting went much as the phone call had the night before. He’d intended to nip Davos’ “partnership” offer in the bud. But Davos kept interrupting, asking questions he had difficulty answering, repeating that if he’d just hear them out – just listen – they were sure he’d agree they offered him a compelling partnership. He felt small and weak, and couldn’t seem to find a voice for his objections. He tried to focus on Davos, but Melanie kept fidgeting – first dangling a shoe and bobbing her foot, then bending forward to massage her calf briefly, next nibbling slightly on her pen – thick, glossy lips working it gently. It seemed that every time he was ready to open his mouth, she shifted somehow, causing him to glance over, then studiously look away. In between, his thought seemed to evaporate.
Davos was long-winded anyway, and he found it hard to get a word in. It was easier just to listen for a while. And watch. Listen and watch. Hendrickson’s posture in his chair slowly changed from aggressive to passive, slumping a bit. His gaze flitted more frequently to Melanie’s legs, and breasts, and lips, lingering longer as well. Maybe he’d been unfair to her. After all, fashions were a bit more revealing these days, and he couldn’t blame her for staying current. Davos began to seem a bit less smug as well, his argument more… compelling somehow. And his own objections less important. Nothing wrong with a little skin here and there, in service to the right purpose. No. Nothing wrong with a little skin.
He was staring at her openly now. She’d let her skirt ride up just a little, and her legs weren’t crossed anymore. And had an extra button come undone on her blouse? The lacy top of her bra was clearly visible, her ripe breasts virtually bursting out of it. Bursting. The word settled in his mind, and he began to become aware of himself again. Bursting. He shifted uncomfortably. Though his eyes didn’t move, his attention shifted away from Melanie Whitford’s chest, and to his own lap. He realized to his dismay that his cock was practically bursting. He couldn’t remember being so hard in years – he felt like he might actually come if he moved too suddenly. He quickly yanked his gaze back to Davos, who was looking at him expectantly, an unctuous smile on his face.
“So we’re agreed, then?”
“Um. Agreed?” He had to get them out of his office immediately. Had to calm down. Jesus, what had he been thinking??
“Agreed. You’ll review our whole promotional series, take some notes, give us feedback. We’ll change anything you don’t like. And then we’ll start really educating the nation!” He preened and grabbed his lapel. Out of the corner of his eye, Hendrickson could swear he saw Melanie slouching down her chair further, and spreading her legs slightly. Was her hand drifting to her thigh?
“Agreed,” he said quickly, focusing hard on Davos. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to make a phone call. I hope you don’t mind if I don’t get up – I expect you can find your way out.”
“Not at all,” Davos smirked. “Melanie, did you bring the second promo for the General?”
“Mmmm hmmmm.” She stood slowly, crossed toward him, and after fishing briefly in her brief case, bent across his desk to hand him another CD. “I’m just so sure you’ll like this one, General,” she said indulgently. Jesus, he thought. Her tits were so close to popping out. He was so close to…
“Um yes, well. I’ll give it my undivided attention.”
“I’m sure you will, General. Call me once you’ve watched to get instruc… I mean, to talk it over.”
She sauntered out of the office, hair swinging gently in counterpoint to the movement of her ass. Hendrickson simply sat there for several seconds, trembling slightly, light-headed, as if all the blood in his brain had rushed to his, well…
He took a long swig of mineral water to steady himself, then tried to get back to work. He was still agitated, though, and tired, and distracted, all at once. The CD Melanie had given him was sitting on the corner of his desk, expectantly. He knew he had more important things to attend to, but he wasn’t having a very effective morning anyway. And he’d said he’d look at it, give CCAP another chance. Maybe just a quick look. He popped it in.
* * *
As they slid into the back of Davos’ limo, his assistant turned to him, her face breaking into the grin she’d been suppressing. “I can’t believe the effects he’s beginning to show after just a couple of viewings. And the passivity – I was practically stripping in there, and he just sat, watching.” She laughed acidly. “I actually thought he was going to drool for a second. This guy is the moral authority of the nation?”
Davos smirked. “Yes. It was encouraging, wasn’t it? But then, we need to move him along quickly. If the transition is too slow, his family or his colleagues will see it, and intervene. Anyway, what did you glean about his… preferences?”
“He’s a tit man – disorientation and pliability far highest when I focused him on my chest. Though he may have a latent oral fixation as well.”
“Very good. Adjust the videos accordingly.”
“I will. His secretary’s definitely with us?”
“Happily, she doesn’t suffer from Hendrickson’s priggish self-righteousness — Her eyes lit up like a Christmas tree when she saw the cash. Life is so much easier when you can just bribe people outright.”
“Sure makes you long for the old Administration, doesn’t it?”
“Oh, and get this. The good General is a hydration nut. He apparently goes through about a gallon of mineral water a day, just to ‘keep the pipes running right.’ I mean, you couldn’t ask for a better set-up. She’s already started lacing it with Viagra and a mild narcotic – she’ll build that up gradually. Not that your charms wouldn’t be enough, my dear, but we also had the wonders of modern chemistry on our side today.”