Fear of being followed drives her on despite exhaustion. Teifa’s long legs extend forward her slender healed pumps finding unsure footing on the aging postmarked street, still she manages in keeping a graceful sprint. Up ahead an older Roles Royce sits parked. It’s back door slung open invitingly. Teifa rushes to it quickly shutting the door. Water pours from her, ruining the elegantly embroidered seat cushions.
Monique sits next to her, a coy close liped smile complementing her playful eyes. Her platinum hair curled with moisture falls long and thick across her bare shoulders. Her black slip evening gown highlights her pale complexion. Teifa flashes a brilliant smile toward Monique. The dome light fades. The two embrace in a passionate kiss. The Rolls glides down the highway waking water behind.
Hours later the Rolls crashes into a lamppost, snuffing the only street light of the derelict neighborhood. It’s horn begins humming continually. The back door is forcibly thrown open shattering its glass to the ground. Teifa full speed sprints onto the sidewalk into the nearest awaiting highrise. Some time later Monique slinks her way out of the car casting cautious glances across the shadows.
Satisfied, she enters the same building Teifa had earlier. The empty expanse of the lobby reeks of staleness. Her heals echo as she slowly sachets her way across the floor then up the huge awaiting staircase.
On the thirteenth floor Pioter greets Monique with a nod. The young slender Russian stands eye level to her. He strokes his unkempt artists beard then pauses to run his fingers through his short brown hair, bulging his tight arm muscles shown bare in his snakeskin vest. Black pants and matching snakeskin loafers complete his dress.
He motions wordlessly, leading monique through narrow hallways ruined by moisture and age. They turn to a great room filled with candlelight, ornamented with finecrafted Victorian paintings and furniture all placed atop rubble and rotted floors. Three people huddle a huge dinning table, they cast all their attention towards the object layed before them. As they approach the huddled figures Teifa turns and casts the newcomers a great smile pulling at the bottom of her trench coat in excitement.
Shendala looks up to appraise them slowly with her almond eyes, her cream Arabian skin warm in the candle’s glow. Brown trousers and a low cut white blouse tightly cling to her girlish frame. A rose hairclip flashes in her chin-length black hair.
The last to turn his gaze, Vicant, looks absentmindedly toward the nearing figures. The sleeves of his light grey dress shirt roled up his long forearms, his fine silk tie curled into his shirt pocket. Tall and serious he looks down toward them, his fine grey hair waving slightly with the gesture. His eyes focus in recognition and his expression softens.
“Hello, my friends,” Vicant jubilates, theatricly opening his hands wide. He closes the gap between himself and Monique enfolding her in his arms. The two walk to the table his left hand resting on her bottom.
The five encircle the table, their eyes drawn to a crudely crafted, marble, hollow circle. It lies partially covered in a red velvet handkerchief. Candlelight plays across the faces of the group as they gaze together like children in amazement at the object before them.
Soon they are all looking to each other their eyes thirsty with questions.
When Vicant speaks his voice is both nervous and determined, “now let us do what we all have come here for.”
He reaches his hand forward to pick up the marble circle, stoping abruptly after a touch. Vicant raises his forefinger before his face in wonder. The others curiously watch on. The tip of his finger becomes light grey, it’s skin drops brital flakes to the table it starts to shrivel. The decay advances. Vicant holds his other arm out in an open palm toward Pioter, who draws a long knife from a belt sheath at his back. Pioter places the knife handle first into Vicant’s awaiting hand.
Vicant places the afflicted hand upon the table in wonder at its changes. His knife arm draws back and forcibly attacks the table with a single stroak, freeing the decaying finger from it’s hand.
Shendala cradles his hand up to assess the damage. “Your blood has. . . coagulated,” she remarks in amaze.
“So it has,” Vicant winces, brushing the old dead blood from his shortened digit. The wound smooth as if it was years old.
“This is it, this is the “womb of the Notamai”,” Teifa whispers in fear and excited lust.
All turn toward the stone in wonder, every face carrying heavy anticipation.
Vicant rounds the table, his arms behind his back. He smiles wide, “Let us begin.”
Pioter yanks the knife from the table and slowly offers it crossed over his arm waiter style to Shendala. She hesitates, drawing a long breath. With eyes closed she accepts the offer. One long slice round her forearms releases a fine trickle of blood. Shendala drops the knife and holds her shaking arms above the stone. Where the blood connects it steams. Soon covering the stone entirely a great black smoke bellows up and out, saturating the group. They cough and wheeze like old men and women on their deathbeds. Shendala pulls her arms to her thoughtlessly smearing her blouse in blood.
“I. . .I’m done,” Shendala whispers, afraid.
Vicant moves to stand behind her, his arms cradling her, caressing her wounds with his thumbs. “Not done my love,” he leans to whisper in her ear.
He looks into the expectant faces before him, “we are about to gain the only power left that controls us.” He twirls Shendala around still looking toward the others, “shall we begin?”
The candles flicker then die all at once leaving the small party in complete darkness.
They flare to life with a blinding brilliance more capable than the candles should allow. Revealing Pioter, his back turned from the group, a second knife in his hand extended out for a target. Monique stands on edge, her right hand enveloped in her small black purse. Teifa crawls catlike along the floor nearing the exit quickly looking back and fourth, she stands after a moment. Shendala stands exactly as before cradled in Vicant’s arms, he stands rubbing his thumbs across her wounds gazing in wonder around the room.
Shendala releases a small wimper looking down at her arms. She slowly lifts them, Vicant still holding on. A curious expression crosses both of their faces. He wipes furiously with his thumbs the blood on her arms. Shendala up looks to him, he to the others. Vicant releases her motioning the party come closer.
Cautiously they approach. “See,” Vicant roars, “see what we now possess!” He lifts her arms out revealing a pink line of new skin where her cuts were made. “Join me at the table,” he laughs. He and Shendala head first, his arm around her waist. At the table he brushes the hair from her forehead and leans in to kiss her on the lips. Cautiously excited Teifa and Monique join them.
Pioter crosses the room and leans over a balsa coffee table. He returns to the others cradling a large book in both arms. Delicately he lays it before them. He turns each page intently, appreciating the texture with his hands, marveling at the craftsmanship of each brushstroak he passes. He stops several pages deep. He stares. In a Russian tounge ancient long before the Czars sailed the great river, he shouts. The others look on amazed by his volume and carriage, it seems the greatest rulers of his native country rose up to take life and speak with his voice. The smallest breeze crosses the table and small stone circle, scattering the rune of Vicant’s ashen finger up and throughout the room.
A prolonged silence followed by Pioter closing the book tells the others the ritual is complete.
Shendala swoons against Vicant reaching up and wrapping her arms round his ribs. He mirrors her embrace. The pink line of healed tissue around each of her forearms rapidly expands, blushing her cream skin. She pulls him down toward her, hands firmly holding his face as she kisses him. Entangled they drop to the floor.
“Is it safe to touch now,” Moniqe asks Pioter, playfully circling her finger around the stone.
Pioter stares blank at her unsure at first what she’s asking. “Yes,” he answers flatly.
Monique and Teifa share a momentary glance. Teifa quickly takes the circle stone into both her hands. Uncontrolled excitement transforms her entire body with nervous energy. Before Piote,r the great book silently explodes into ash. The ashes spread out, suspended by an unperceivable breeze. All at once the ashes ember, curled with heat each resembles a tiny sun. The group stands enveloped in an image resembling the microcosm.
Leaning suddenly forward Pioter releases his arm throwing his second knife toward Teifa. She stares at the projectile speeding toward her face, her eyes large with fear. She bites her bottom lip. The moment it breaks her skin, it stops midair. Teifa crosses her eyes to look up to the suspended knife, its point lightly touching her forehead. A fine trickle of blood spills from the small impact point. Teifa takes one step back leaving the knife floating inches from her face.
A single click alerts Pioter to Monique. Her arm extended, holding a small caliber pistol in her hand. “Are you alive Teifa,” Monique asks, keeping her face to Pioter.
A woman’s laborious moans wail out from behind the table. Seemingly endless they increase their volume and frequency. A loud bang and Vicant slams the table with his back. It flips and crashes to the ground revealing Shendala and Vicant in partial undress, her sprawled across the ground, hunched above her, he panefully messaging his lower back. She looks up to him moaning. She leans on her arms heavily to stand. With the effort of a woman rising from a wheel chair Shendala gains her feet. Feebly she hobbles to wrap her arms around Vicant’s hunched body. Small blue veins enflame her pinkened skin. Sweat pours from her body making her hold slippery and uncertain.
Shendala forces her face directly before Vicant’s. By great will she keeps her eyes open and focused. A large stream of water and mucus pours from her lips. She convulses, her torso shivering back and fourth. Shendala releases more fluids from below drenching her trousers.She performs this painful act many times. The fruits of her maturity lessen with each bodily release. A very young woman with Shendala’s brilliant eyes stares helplessly into Vicant’s. Her girlish body becomes wisp. Slender hands release their grasp of Vicant. Shendala crouches to the ground, she clenches her jaw in a strain to contain her liquids. Her mouth forces wide enabling a great rush of water to the ground. She dwindles to a very small child whimpering with confusion. Shendala’s cries cut short with another release, each moment revealing her less developed self. Her body gives way to an infants, wailing in her soaked clothing. Shendala’s eyes force shut, she falls upon her back kicking and flailing. Soon she travels beyond movement. Small and shivering atop the great pile of her saturated clothing she sags limp and silent.
“I. . . this. . .I . . .” Vicant stammers, his hands held out for Shendala. His skin grows the light grey hue of his dress shirt. Small wrinkles rune the lines of his face. Where they take hold they deepen and spread. His skin becomes dry, flakes peal and release to float downward to his feet. Vicant opens his mouth wide, a dusty, hollow moan leaves his thinning lips. He efforts to straighten his hunched posture releasing loud cracking from his spine. Wincing with pain Vicant leans to the overturned table leg. The effort to stand showing increased strain throughout his weakening body. His muscles concave revealing his skeleton beneath. Vicant unsteadily raises his hand to his aching head causing larger flakes of skin to peel from his flesh. Rubbing his temples releases his hair to drift and rest upon his shoulders and back. Looking towards with out seeing the others, his eyes fog white. Vicant’s face splits painfully down many deepening cracks along his face. Clouds of fine grey powder puff into the air surrounding him. Vicant’s body stiffens. He topples lifeless and mummified to the ground.
Teifa glances around the floating knife toward Pioter and Monique her gun still trained toward Pioter’s head, “. . .ok, don’t. . . do . . . anything.” She takes another hard look at Monique. “anything, we don’t need any more babies and deadmen right now. . .ok,” she forces out.
Tightly clenching the stone she raises it to support her authority. She licks her lips to taste blood dribbling from the slight cut on her forehead. Teifa’s eyes roll upward. She crouches and her stomach convulses. The stone rolls from her hands settling halfway between Monique and Pioter.
Pioter looks hungraly at the stone. “I wouldn’t,” Monique warns. Behind her Teifa vomits blood.
Monique takes a step toward the fallen stone. “Teifa,” Monique asks.
“umm fine,” Teifa mumbles while wiping the blood from her lips.
Teifa stands agitated, “you however, are not,” she strides up to Pioter and slaps him hard.
Monique leaves the two arguing to search among the wreckage. Walking up to Vicant’s body she easily tears a brittle stripe of cloth from his shirt. Making her way back to the bickering couple Monique enfolds the round stone in the fabric, careful not to touch it.
A slight motion catches her eye. She jerks her gun carrying arm at the commotion. In the pool of blood Teifa left behind a small fetus is kicking furiously. Monique approaches it like a threat slowly circling it. She watches it swell and grow as she approaches. The fetus becomes fat and large growing into a small curled up baby. Monique lowers her gun and watches.
“. . .And if Monique hadn’t known who had the stone we wouldn’t have it in the first place,” Teifa shouts at Pioter. “Monique,” Pioter whispers remembering a crucial player he should keep his eye on. He looks around the room for her. Teifa quickly follows his search. They both find her kneeling in front of a sitting baby, it’s arms reaching for her to hold it.
Teifa and Pioter rush over to crouch on either side of Monique. The baby laughs, a trail of spittle splashes from it’s mouth.
“Where did she come from,” Pioter asks.
Monique doesn’t seem to notice the question, she’s appraising the child growing before their eyes. Long blond strands of hair fall to the baby’s shoulders. She drops to her hands and grunts under the strain of trying to stand.
Pioter grabs Monique’s shoulder earning himself a surprised snarl from Monique. He releases his grip. “Where did she come from,” he asks again.
“She’s walking,” Teifa blurts out like a terrified mother.
The girl tottles unsteadily forward, her arms outstretched for Teifa. She smiles up at Teifa, huge and innocent. Instinctually Teifa receives the girl in her arms.
“Put her down Teifa,” Monique barks.
Teifa drops the child suddenly her bottom crashing to the floor.
“What’s going on,” Teifa focuses her concern into Monique. The girl wails.
Monique observes Teifa’s face for a long time then sends her studies across the rest of her body. Monique screws her face in anger and caulks her pistol. “This. . .thing is killing you.”
She points her pistol at the girl. Now grown bigger she pulls herself easily to her feet and places her hands against the offending pistol. She laughs heartily, ignorant to the danger. Teifa rests her ebony hands across Monique’s outstretched arm. “Don’t. . .”Teifa pleads. Monique glances shocked into the fresh faced Teifa. Gazing at Teifa, Monique’s memory takes her back to the first time she saw the the young woman five years ago. Stealing a fust full of grapes from an urban street merchant without a pause Teifa joyfully continued on her way. Monique sitting across the street intrigued by the young woman followed her several blocks unnoticed before introducing herself to her soon to be pickpocket companion. Monique stares at her long time friend, Teifa looks exactly as she had then.
“Teifa. . .” Monique asks, all concern in her voice.
Teifa breaks her stare looking confused around the room. “Where. . . where,” Teifa’s voice full of confused wonder. She raises her hands to pull her black trench coat tight. Now a teenage girl, she looks to Monique. “Who are you,” she asks, about to cry.
“I’m,” Monique struggles to answer. Without further attempt at an explication Monique turns in rage toward the growing blond girl. She stands eye level to the squatting Monique. Pioter risks her anger and grabs Monique’s gun carrying hand tightly with each of his hands. “Don’t,” he warns, his voice carrying a small sadness in asking her to back down.
They are both distracted when the girl speaks. “I am Gracious of the Notamai,” a close lipid smile of great showmanship across her face. She speaks much more solemnly and precised than a girl her age would. Gesturing her arms outward in a large stretching motion her body grows quickly longer, more mature. Teifa grunts surprise, lessening beneath her great trench coat. With Monique’s helping hands she makes her feet. Teifa stands before Gracious, now both preteen girls of the same age. In stark contrast, ebonie skinned Teifa clenches her overwhelming black trench coat as tightly as it’s poor fitting mass allows. Gracious, pale and blond, adorned only in the small drops of blood she was born from, glares approvingly at the terrified other girl. Gracious’ body grows full and elegant forcing Teifa to crane her neck to stare in wide mouthed awkward awe at the young woman before her. Teifa’s coat drops to the floor enveloping her waist. Her charcoal silk top hangs engulfing on her small body. Teifa picks at her nose and stares dumbly up at the monolithic woman before her.
Gracious bends her hands to her knees leaning close to the ground to keep her eyes on Teifa who rests on her bottom sucking on her silk top. Teifa looks up innocence dancing across her eyes. Gracious becomes a woman epicly proportionate.
A sweep across her legs brings Gracious to tumble belly against the ground. Monique straddles across her back, pulling Gracious’ head upward by her hair. With Monique’s gun to her temple she commands to the conquered woman, “give her back.”
Laughing heartily even in her compromising position Gracious says, “warrior child, your spirit marks you for my brother.” Gracious stands easily to her feet toppling Monique to the ground behind her. Gracious takes a moment to flip her hair. “Be thankful you did not summon my brother little warrior,” Gracious purrs. Monique glairs up at her in indignation. A baby’s small bubbly laughter lessens the tension. Teifa rolls on her back, cupping feet with her hands in delight.
Gracious turns her back to the group. “Leave me little warrior, take your friends. When we meet again I will take as much fight from you as I did your companion.”
Behind her Monique can feel Pioter approach. “Let’s go Monique. . .now, and quickly,” Pioter keeps his voice steady under the fear.
Monique tenses. She looks down to Teifa, curled on the ground, trying to fit her fist in her mouth. Fighting her anger Monique squats and pulls Teifa to her breast. Teifa laughs bubbling spit and picks playfully with Monique’s face.
Pioter takes Monique’s arm with no resistance. The two walk from the room Monique cradling Teifa. Monique passes Gracious one last predators stare as the leave. Gracious seems unaware of there passage.
Months later. Pioter sits in the driver seat of his sport green Asten Martin. He nervously watches in the rear view mirror Monique running toward the car. She reaches the door, pausing to fire two shots at the two men in white dress suits pursuing her on foot. Monique opens the door jumping in the passenger seat in a single motion. She leans in to Pioter kissing him like passion is their only worry. In the back seat Teifa lets out a little discontent moan, fumbling uselessly in her child seat. Monique reaches back checking her diaper. “Oh sweaty, we’re going to have to get you changed,” Monique cooes. Teifa stares fascinated with the attention. Pioter shifts gears speeding the Aston Martin onto the street, the two men in white suits running in desperate pursuit.