Karen Marie Moning
Mac: 11:18 a.m., November 1
Death. Pestilence. Famine.
They surround me, my lovers, the terrifying Unseelie Princes.
Who’d’ve thought destruction could be so beautiful? Seductive. Consuming.
My fourth lover—War? He ministers to me tenderly. Ironic for the bringer of Chaos, creator of Calamity, maker of Madness—if that is who he is. I cannot see his face, no matter how I try. Why does he hide?
He caresses my skin with hands of fire. I char, my skin blisters, bones fuse from sexual heat no human can endure. Lust consumes me. I arch my back and beg for more with parched tongue, cracked lips. As he fills my body, he quenches my thirst with drink. Liquid spills over my tongue, drips down my throat. I convulse. He moves inside me. I catch a glimpse of skin, muscle, a flash of tattoo. Still no face. He terrifies me, this one who keeps himself concealed.
In the distance, someone barks commands. I hear many things, understand none. I know that I have fallen into enemy hands. I know also, soon, I will no longer know even that. Pri-ya, a Fae sex addict, I will believe there is no place, nothing else I would rather be.
If my thoughts were coherent enough to form sentences, I would tell you that I used to think life unfolded in a linear fashion. That people were born and went to … what’s that human word? I dressed up for it every day. There were boys. Lots of cute boys. I thought the world revolved around them.
His tongue is in my mouth, and it’s tearing apart my soul.
School. That’s the word I’m looking for. After that, you get a job. Marry. Have … what are they? Fae can’t have them. Don’t understand them. Precious little lives. Babies! If you’re lucky, you live a good, full life and grow old with someone you love. Caskets then. Wood gleams. I weep. A sister? Bad! Memory hurts! Let it go!
They’re in my womb. They want my heart. Tear it open. Gorge on passion they can’t feel. Cold. How can fire be so cold?
Focus, Mac. Important. Find the words. Deep breath. Don’t think about what’s happening to you. See. Serve. Protect. Others at risk. So many died. Can’t be for nothing. Think of Dani. She’s you inside, beneath that adolescent thumbs-in-the-pockets, one hip cocked, thousand-yard stare.
I orgasm without ceasing. I become the orgasm. Pleasure-pain! Exquisite! Mind-melting, soul-shredding, the more they fill me the emptier I am. It’s slipping, all slipping, but before it goes, before it’s gone completely, I get a hateful moment of clarity and see that
Most of what I believed about myself, and life, I derived from modern media, without questioning any of it. If I wasn’t sure how to behave in a certain situation, I’d search my mind for a movie or TV show I’d seen, with a similar setup, and do whatever the actors had done. A sponge, I absorbed my environment, became a byproduct of it.
I don’t think I ever once looked up at the sky and wondered if there was sentient life in the universe besides the human race. I know I never looked down at the earth beneath my feet and contemplated my own mortality. I tunneled blithely through magnolia-drenched days, blind as a mole to everything but guys, fashion, power, sex, whatever would make me feel good right then.
But these are confessions I would make if I could speak, and I can’t. I’m ashamed. I’m so ashamed.
Who the fuck are you? Someone shouted that question at me recently—his name eludes me. Someone who frightens me. Excites me.
Life’s not linear at all.
It happens in lightning flashes. So fast you don’t see those lay-you-out-cold moments coming at you until you’re Wile E. Coyote, steamrolled flat as a pancake by the Road Runner, victim of your own elaborate schemes. A sister dead. A legacy of lies. An unwanted inheritance of ancient blood. An impossible mission. A book that is a beast that is ultimate power, and whoever gets their hands on it first decides the fate of the world. Maybe all the worlds.
Stupid sidhe-seer. So sure you had things headed in the right direction.
Here and now—not on some cartoon highway from which I can peel myself, stand up, and magically reinflate, but on the cold stone floor of a church, naked, lost, surrounded by death-by-sex Fae—I feel my most powerful weapon, the one I swore never to give up again—hope—slipping away. My spear is long gone. My will is …
Will? What’s will? Do