Cara rolled her eyes in dismay at Gloria.
Gloria picked up her drink and took a sip and shuddered with the strength of it.
‘So you don’t question intelligent gas clouds, but you question a simple hack?’
It’s false nails and a set of contact lenses. You’re talking about some fucking Galactus level event and I go up against it with haute couture?’
Cara sighed as Olivia shifted in her seat, added to her ever growing mental list of questions about what or who was a Galactus. Drea wanted to punch the air that something was said that she actually understood. She ached for John and consciousness with a pang of deep, palpable longing that normally ended up in John’s hands getting the good kind of mean with her. Here, she took another drink and listened to the reserved bitching that characterised the failure of womankind to dominate society. Especially smart, white women but she kept that to herself in favour of enjoying the free show.
Cara gestured to the box.
‘Pop them in and on.’
Gloria sneered again but picked out the index fingernail, pearlescent and when she pinched it between her fingertips, it hummed pleasantly like the vibrator that laid gathering dust, hollow without batteries, much like her heart. It changed consistency, a warm plasticity as it looped over and adhered to her fingertip. A low charge ran up her forearm. The other nails leapt from their casings, with a graceful glee and the symphony of purpose used her body as the orchestra. The lenses elongated as they left the casing and attached themselves to her eyes, plasticized tears in reverse.
Gloria, in the healthy spirit of youthful experimentation, had experimented with hallucinogenic drugs for recreational purposes and the earnest, slightly grim spiritual ramifications. Peyote, psilocybin and lysergic acid had formed the river of her consciousness raising. The combination of the lenses and nails made it look like baby aspirin or the candied gummy vitamins that had characterised her sickly childhood.
Gloria had been given access to the operating system of the universe, a drop down menu floated in her vision like sunspots and she sat back in her seat, dumbstruck with a quiet awe. Olivia was fascinated by the shifting spectrum of colours that overlaid Gloria’s eyes even as the trembling posture of reverence unnerved her.
Gloria clicked on a free floating icon marked ‘tutorial’. Cara chuckled and sat back, gestured towards her with her glass.
‘She’s going to be a while.’
Olivia grew pale and gestured to Gloria.
‘What did you do?’
Cara furrowed her forehead and rolled her glass between her palms.
‘She can change things.’
Olivia swallowed and glanced between Gloria and Cara, concerned at what she might be gifted. She liked her own mind, even the distasteful streaks of self loathing and guilt were hers, goddamn it. Cara touched her hand, Olivia experienced a moment of raw satori and smiled at her.
‘I get it. You’ve put us together with the right tools for the job.’
Drea recoiled in her seat. She had seen the gesture, reminded of when John would use the quasi-hypnosis, social engineering tricks that took nervous young men and divorcees back into the dating arena with the confidence of bull studs.
‘Don’t do that to me.’ she said.
Cara smiled at her, eyes glittering as she picked up her drink.
‘Again, you mean. After all, you’re still convinced you’re dreaming.’
Drea gritted her teeth and forced a stoic expression onto her face to hide her disquiet.
‘So, what do we get?’ Drea said.
Cara clapped her hands together.
‘You two get to do something really spectacular.’
Olivia and Drea had grins appear on their faces in perfect symmetry.
Gloria, meanwhile, studied the physics of a falling leaf, the beauty of a broken hip and the pressures of being a good girl with a god’s eye for the sheer gift of it all.
Now, you come to me
Vibrating with the need to
Provide your surrender
Raging with the need to feel guided
Your deepest nature, I am gentle in nurturing
Desire is your truest, most beautiful self
‘THE LEVIATHAN MAY HAVE NO ALTERNATIVE WITHIN THIS SPHERE BEYOND GROWTH AND FEBRILE AMBITION’
Olivia stood there, looking up at the luminescent cloud that moved against the prevailing gravity with the liquid insistence of a jellyfish. Each time it spoke, it produced flashes of brilliant light that stripped her of comprehension, such was the awe with which she beheld it. Since she had crossed the bridge, she had seen enough wonders to last her a lifetime, although she had arrived unaccompanied.
Drea backed up against a wall, her hands pressed against it and found that it flexed like a muscle against her. She turned around, ready to throw a punch. She kept telling herself that this was all simply a dream. She told herself that again and again, until the words were robbed of meaning.
Olivia felt quite proud of herself. She had not immediately lost her mind or control of her bladder. It might have been the presence of the rifle, even though everything around her was on a scale that made her wonder if a bullet would do anything other than embarrass her, rather than wound or kill anything. She had not seem Heimdall since she agreed to cross the bridge.
‘Sorry about the ceremonial stuff. There’s a lot of protocol around this sort of thing, so we have our work cut out figuring what the best way to get someone over is.’
The three women turned their heads to follow the source of the explanation. She stood, with her hands up in front of her, dressed in a black suit, tailored to accommodate her lean hips and long legs with a white shirt and a black bow tie. She had short, black hair that was combed away from a high, regal forehead. On her fingers were an assortment of rings, that each gave off a soft glow, in a myriad of colours that caught the light and did wonderful, interesting things with it.
‘Who are you?’
Gloria was the first to say it. A headful of stories gave her something of an advantage in adjusting to whatever and wherever this was. She had seen a man make a bird of fire with a single phrase.
It sounded like a shaman clearing his throat, and she found herself saying it in her hand like a mantra, hoping that this would all start to make sense. Part of her wondered if she hadn’t simply broken something in her head, laid there at the side of the road, flesh dimpling with the cold and the rain in her eyes.
‘I’m responsible for the three of you being here.’
Drea narrowed her eyes and examined the woman’s face, cast in a perfect mask of polite embarrassment. She was waiting for her to stop making sense and go inscrutable like the white haired woman had. ‘Sob carefully, the headwinds will cost you tears’ She wondered if there was meaning in that.
‘No, I had some girl with white hair that she smacked me around with and I was in the, I don’t know, future or something.’
Olivia guffawed and shook her hair out.
‘I was taking the scenic route home, came across a bridge, turned out to be magic, who knew?’
Gloria smiled and realised that if this was all a product of her broken brain, then it was at least worthwhile and quite well realised. She hoped that she would live to write about it. There was at least a book out of it, which was an unkind but honest phrase that she used with every rejection and tragedy.
Until the last one.
‘So, I met someone who was named after the god of stories, you -‘ she pointed to Drea.
‘I’m dreaming.’ Drea said and shot a harsh look around the room to challenge anyone who said different.
‘OK, so you are in a dream where you fought some trope from wu shu cinema and I pretty much had the same experience as-‘ She looked at Olivia and smiled at her. Olivia blushed and gave her name, in a voice gone smooth and soft, like whipped cream from the earnest look and the smile that Gloria gave her.
‘I’m Drea, pleased to meet you two.’ She shook hands with the pair of them, tight, dry handshakes that spoke to a desire to wake up now please, even if it was all couched in a polite, awkward play of manners.
The fourth woman clapped her hands together.
‘Ok, so I am Cara and this is a good news, bad news situation. You all know that something big and horrible is supposed to happen and you’ve been asked to come and lend a hand.’
Drea folded her arms and smirked.
‘Is that the good or the bad news?’
Olivia chuckled and winked at her. She had spirit, which Olivia always liked in anyone.
‘No, it’s a preamble. The cloud up there is a diplomat from the Klee, who are a species of gas based lifeforms. Very intelligent but they communicate in chemical signals and the translation software we use makes them sound like that. However, what it’s referring to, is what’s coming.’
Gloria remembered the word. Leviathan. An old testament word, even writing it down made it look it was carved into stone or word. Big fish, she remembered, in that way that made writing fun but the rest of her life awkward and uncomfortable.
‘So, the bad news is that the leviathan is really bad?’ Gloria said.
Cara grimaced and pressed her palms together.
‘Well, it’s a lifeform that someone created just before the heat death of a universe, and it then starts travelling backwards through time and space. Eating everything in it’s path.’
Drea put her hand up, realised that she was beginning to experience the onset of a tension headache.
‘When you say everything, what does that mean?’
Cara’s face grew serious, which made the three women very nervous.
‘Time, space, everything. Mostly though it eats stories.’
Gloria fought a burst of nausea at the thought.
‘So, I get that this is a problem but we won’t be around to see it happen, I mean, time and space, are pretty big. Infinite kind of big.’
Cara frowned and gestured towards the klee cloud.
‘So’s the leviathan. We’ve been feeding it to see if there was a way to poison it or anything but it’s relentless.’
Olivia looked at the rifle in her arms, the care and attention in hours of polishing and oiling it, making sure that each part worked with clarity. She experienced the sadness of how impotent it was, here on this scale. She looked up.
‘It won’t stop, will it?’
Cara shook her head.
‘No, it won’t. But I have an idea.’
Gloria looked up at the klee cloud again.
‘And I take it, seeing as there are alien diplomats, that there’s a bit of a problem getting between your idea and actually doing it?’
Cara pointed at her and grinned.
‘Six points for Gryffindor. Yes, so I thought I would just go ahead and do it.’
Drea sighed and raised her eyebrows.
The woman’s smile widened in a way that made the three women nervous and excited at the same time. A smile that promised trouble, the spontaneous, hilarious kind. For the three women, that meant individual experiences and regrets, but this was a woman who spoke intimately about the scale of universes and stories with an exactness that convinced each of them that insanity, a brain haemorrhage or a simple dream might have been preferable.
‘We’re going to fucking kill it.’
TO BE CONTINUED.
When the black eyed angel folds it’s wings
Around me, I would tear them,
Root and stem
Unmanned, and in my divine rage
Dash it’s ugly skull into the concrete
It is not an action fuelled by violence
In the palace of my skull
Wanders an animal
And it knows not love nor hate
And it is that,
A compulsion that blesses
The places where the world wounds me
It screams it’s hate into my face
But I remain inviolate,
I have work to do,
And armoured in that
I face the legions that follow it,
Bleak envoys that tied me to darkened rooms
Silenced me but I have many allies,
Beautiful, brave, bold and quick
These monstrous shadows that claim so many
Dumb pawns invigorating them with the phrase
‘Pull yourself together’
But I have triumphed before
I carry it’s memories in my veins
And I will win again.
Wash the blood off my hands
With the sweetest love
I’ve ever known
The bits of me
That have been
Tender in a cool breeze
But the nerves
Swelling with a taciturn
Nuance of how the
That the damage done
The toll taken
And where there is
Callus, beneath that
Still mining the
wound for it’s wisdoms
You know the secret?
Keep going until
Find a safe place
To rest until the
Because it will
There is a beauty to me
That came from
Screams distorted by
Emotions and distance
And I see it
A love as wide
As clear as
If a woman sends you a picture of herself, you’ve been given a gift. She is taking a tremendous risk, she is showing you something powerful and intensely vulnerable about herself.
If a man does it. it’s still a risk but it’s subsumed in the stupidity of doing it uninvited, but that’s a conversation for another time.
If a woman were to send you a picture of herself, the absolute last thing you should do is share it with anyone. It’s a betrayal that saddens me when it happens not because women are delicate creatures whose sexuality is a rare and delicate snowflake. That, to me, is part of the problem. She’s not in control of the reactions and opinions of others, if she sends you a picture then she’s trusting you to not only appreciate it but to treat it as the confidence she has in you. She wants YOU to look at her.
If a woman sends a picture to social networking sites, that is entirely her prerogative. I wouldn’t judge anyone for doing it and neither should you. Don’t project
Whoever ripped these pictures from the cloud, I wonder if they are aware of the feeling their action has engendered. It’s another thing to be used against women expressing themselves sexually, it’s another invasion of privacy that is entirely unwarranted and just makes us all a little bit lower and sadder for the knowledge of such an action.
I entirely support women expressing themselves on their own terms. It shouldn’t be coerced or stolen from them, it should be given freely and without judgement.