"What the fuck are you doing?!"
Mark stared incredulously at his over-stuffed leather couch as Berry shivered and shook, her wetness soaking into the pores of its expensive upholstery. M'buto stared back at him through the eyes of her new host, all sing of her spectral apparition now gone except for the matted knot of hair and human leather laying on the table next to Berry's Hello Kitty purse.
"Exactly what I want to do." M'buto answered, her regal African accent cutting through Berry's voice as she stared hungrily at Mark's throat.
Berry's body rose from its enraptured languor on the couch, her lacquered nails continuing to caress her breasts and clit as she stalked towards Mark. Sweat glistened on her naked flesh as she reached out to him, pulling his wrist towards her flushed skin. Mark stood there in shock as she rubbed his hands over her silken body, not believing she was finally giving in to his fantasy. He stuttered dumbly, not knowing what to say, not wanting to ruin the moment, knowing one wrong word could snap Berry back to her capricious cruelty.
Before he realized it, his erection prodded her through his pajama pants, something totally unacceptable in Berry's normal power play.
However, Berry was no longer the one in control.
"What's this?" the accent asked demurely, lulling Mark with its purring tone. Berry's tiny hand reached below the elastic band, reaching inside to rub her still warm juices over his now raging erection.
"It's... it's... uh..." Mark stumbled. He had always known Berry was CAPABLE of this level of sensuality, but despite all his generosity, she'd never given it to him. She'd always found some reason to claim he didn't deserve it, always teasing, never giving him her all despite all he gave to her. He didn't know what drugs she was on right now, but he was going to find out and buy her some more the second this was over.
M'buto felt his blood throb in her hand and squeezed, buckling his knees and drawing him towards the couch where the knife glistened innocently between the cushions. This was control, the good kind, more powerful than any fear she could inflict. A few of these sessions and he'd be following her around like a puppy, only better than a puppy, with the intelligence to predict her whims, and the means by which to bring them to life. With this technique, she could hook him stronger than any drug, addict him to her in ways that made Berry's coke seem like mother's milk.
Speaking of which, she was still in her weakened state. It may not be time to feed on this one, not yet, but it was too tempting not to at least have a taste. A small taste, she reassured herself. She didn't have a big enough knife for the other kind yet.
She pulled slowly, breathing hard into his ear, reveling in the shivers that climbed his spine.
"Do you see the knife?" she whispered
He nodded dumbly.
"Do you know what I want you to do with it?"
His expression turned worried. Berry had taken a knife to him before, and she hadn't shown much restraint. M'buto read his expression, disgusted that Berry had been such an amateur. That was all over now, though.
"Let me show you..." she purred, letting go of him. That was punishment enough for not predicting her wishes. Control and precision are important parts of mastery, and the punishment must always fit the crime.
She took the knife, digging shallowly into her wrist to create a modest flow. She squeezed her forearm to increase the bleeding and nuzzled her face into Mark's neck, pushing is mouth upwards. She released a few drops between Mark's slack-jawed lips. The taste of her blood was electric, and he moaned softly at the touch of her wrist.
She reached for him again, this time squeezing hard, hard enough to hurt, but no more.
"Do you understand now?
He took the knife and gashed himself, not willing to be outdone by the tiny girl. He was the man; he should be the tough one, not her. He'd disappointed her already, and he never wanted to do that again.
The knife slipped in his hand before he realized what had happened, creating a freakish new mouth on his inner arm. It took a moment for the blood to really start flowing, but from the beginning it was clear the self-inflicted wound was too deep. The pain scared him, but the fear only added to his excitement. Hot blood dribbled into the expensive carpet, dribbling down his elbow as he stared in disbelief at what he'd done.
M'buto snatched his wrist, sucking the blood from him hungrily with Berry's lipstick-smeared mouth. It was so thick, so savory and hot, full of sweet sustaining life. She stroked him ferociously as she drank, bringing him to frantic climax with her bloody hand.
Restraint. It was too soon, too soon to feed on this one in a more sustaining fashion. Mark fell to his knees, his face paling with blood loss as the endorphins rushed through what was left of his circulatory system. M'buto had seen this before; his pounding heart was rushing the blood from him, causing premature exsanguination. Without a tourniquet he'd bleed out in minutes, leaving her without a servant for the time being. Unacceptable.
With flippant effort she entered the trance, negligently readjusting the bonds between the cells in his wrist. This virulent power, the power only the deity Pestilence could give, forced scar tissue to form, oozing from the wound just as the blood had only moments ago, sealing the gash shut like caulk in a leaky pipe.
Berry stared helplessly behind eyes controlled by the malevolent spirit of the witch queen, watching true magic flow from her mind for the first time. This wasn't like last time, when she was possessed by The Glass...
It was better in every way.
Caroline pulled into Pedro's gravel driveway, calmed from her anger by the long drive enraptured in the trance. Something was... off. Pedro was here, clearly, but something she'd expected was missing. She still hadn't reached the level where she could detect the exact nuance of what was wrong, so she stepped cautiously from the door onto the crushed stone path...
Glass shattered with the crack of the gunshot and Caroline stumbled as something struck her with blinding violence in the pelvis. There was no pain, not yet, but the ripping sensation promised that and more to come soon enough.
She looked down at the hole in her jeans incredulously, still in shock as the blood blossomed like a flower in the faded powder blue cloth. A rattling thump distracted her as Pedro and Angelia crashed through the remnants of the screen door, a slim long gun falling down the stairs of the porch just out of reach of Pedro's groping fingers.
Sweet Angelia was a tornado of violence, all swirling black hair and knuckles in a spinning whirlwind of released aggression, like the exploded boiler of a small nuclear power plant.
Pedro could do nothing but cover his head with his arms as she struck again and again, her knuckles quickly scraping themselves bloody against the hard bones of his skull. She stood up over Pedro's prostrate form and began delivering vicious kicks to his head, soccer style, yanking his neck out of joint with the deceptive power of her well-muscled legs.
Zag appeared like a phantom, snapping the girl up in a textbook full nelson as her legs flailed wildly. An inhuman shriek of hatred and despair wailed from the lips of the she-devil as she thrashed in the calm arms of the ex-operative. Pedro pushed himself up to his hands and knees, drooling blood as he spat teeth onto the deck of his trailer, pieces of broken door all around him.
With a vicious kick and fast rear head butt, Angelia dropped out of Zag's hold, using her running momentum to knock Pedro onto his back with another kick, his jaw hanging at an awkward angle from the impact with her blood spotted white canvas shoe. Pedro rushed to stop her, only to be floored with a knuckle cracking blind back fist, a move only those who were capable of knowing without seeing could deliver, a move Charlita herself had taught her daughter.
Zag rallied once more, again using soft wrestling tactics to restrain Angelia's arms as he gently rolled her to the ground, this time wrapping her up with his legs to fully control her. Blood seeped from a fresh open cut over his right eye, a memento from her precision back fist as he whispered tersely in Spanish into her ear. When that failed, he spoke the Maya dialect, and finally she stopped struggling.
Caroline used the trance to shield her from the pain of her gunshot wound, ignoring the superficial damage to her pelvic bone left by the .22 caliber slug of Pedro's target rifle. She'd learned to heal such things long ago, and already the small piece of metal was oozing its way to the surface. She'd learned this technique the hard way once she'd discovered Berry's ex-boyfriend Raz's inert body after a suicide attempt, and she'd gotten much better at it since then.
The slug fell to the ground through her pants leg as she climbed the short stairs of the porch, reaching down to lift Pedro's disjointed chin.
"Why?" she asked blankly, looking deep into his eyes as his soul writhed inside.
Pedro made an unintelligible hissing sound, his broken jaw rendering him incapable of speech.
Negligently she re-fused the bones of his jaw, adjusting them in the rainbow static first, then watching as reality twisted itself to comply with the trance.
"Marbles." Pedro answered.
"Marbles?" Caroline questioned, confused.
"You're made of marbles. Pink and black."
Pedro had become remarkably adept at English since their last meeting. Caroline made a note not to underestimate him; he was smarter than he looked.
Angelia answered her, still ruffled and bloody, having been released by Zag after calming down.
"He means your aura. It's streaked with black, like a cats-eye marble."
"Oh..." Caroline responded, confused, "But why is that a reason to steal from me? To shoot me?"
"You can't trust a mixed blood witch," Pedro and Anglia answered in unison, as if by rote. Pedro raised a hand to Angelia, a sign that he would handle this.
"It doesn't matter now." Pedro wheezed, sitting up to cradle his bruised ribs.
"Bullshit it doesn't!" Caroline snapped, instinctively using the same power that had healed his jaw to twist at his bruised ribs, crippling him with pain.
"Caroline..." Angelia interceded as Pedro's silent screams opened his mouth wide, his ribs too painful to allow him to breathe in enough air to make a sound. Her eyes widened in fear, wondering if her attack had actually saved Pedro's life.
"No! I will NOT!" Caroline responded, sounding insane, realizing her cruelty only proved everyone right about her. She punched herself savagely in the jaw, only to have Zag grab her elbow with a soft hand.
"Caroline..." he said the name softly, his Urdu accent adding a level of warmth to the words, "He means M'buto's head is missing."
"Wh-what...?" Caroline stammered.
"It's gone. We found out this morning. We think it was one of the dealers, but we can't be sure. There's no dope missing," he added plaintively. He was trained to keep his head, and he did it well.
"No." Caroline replied, "This is bigger than drugs."
And then she told them the truth.
Nate watched Caroline's explanation with interest. And to think he'd once wanted her dead! She wasn't the brightest bulb, but she'd come a long way since her run in with The Glass. He wondered idly who he'd sacrifice to mix his bloodline with hers. Unlike Dom, he had a good idea of who her original patron was, and the two possibilities were very interesting indeed. His stupid little brother didn't know what he was getting into, and it looked like he'd bet his chips on the wrong horse.
There was no reason everyone couldn't win, he considered. The only problem was in getting....
No. He couldn't even permit himself to think it, just in case. But when the opportunity arose... it was only a matter of time.
Timmy applied his false eyelashes with the expert care of the experienced drag queen as he shared the small bathroom mirror with Starburst.
"God, I would KILL for those legs."
"You should try shoe shopping with me some time," Star quipped, "These legs might come up to my neck, but they're attached to some hug feet."
"I guess...it's hard not to be envious with bulky square calves like mine." Timmy whined.
"Oh hush," Star retorted, adjusting his wig, "At least you have good hair."
"Hey girl, it doesn't come easy. I had to go to college to look THIS good," Timmy defended.
"There's no college in the WORLD that could teach these knaps to look presentable." Starburst explained with a wag of his neck.
"Touché." Timmy admitted, "By the way, did you know Zag's back in town?"
"NO!" Starburst exclaimed happily, "How is my favorite Latin cutie?"
"Still hetero." Timmy answered sadly, with a feminine flip of the wrist.
"So who HAVEN'T you told yet, Ms. Gossip?
Timmy looked at the ceiling like a schoolgirl, "Oh, I'm certain there are some people left in this town I haven't met yet."
"Don't get me started," Star replied bitterly, "God I wish I was in San Fran right now."
"Amen," Timmy agreed, "I haven't heard back from Berry since he took her out to Pedro's."
Starburst's face went serious. "What did you just say?"
"I said Zag's living with is Uncle Pedro, and he took Berry down there to hang out." Timmy answered, worried at the change in Star's tone, "Why's that such a big deal?"
Star's voice dried out, devoid of all frivolous emotion, "I don't know. But something in my gut tells me it's got something to do with Mama."
"Oh, you're just being paranoid." Timmy consoled.
"15 minutes ladies!" Straight Mike prompted, signaling the drag show was about to start.
It was in this moment that Timmy would back upon, this moment where he could have paid attention to the details instead of chasing novelty. It was here that the distractions he'd filled his life with got in the way of the harsh reality about to consume his life.
No drag show, no television show, no video game or song can ever compare to the miraculous reality that surrounds us all. Boredom is a trick, a ruse, a mask for apathy, ignorance, and laziness. Every molecule of a peck of dirt is a whirling miracle of physics, forces too complex and fantastic to be obvious balanced in a constant state of war with one another. With heat, that speck of dirt could be incorporated into a brick, and with mortar, many bricks becomes a castle. Many brick castles could for the basis of an empire, but the first step was a single man staring intently at a boring piece of dirt and pondering the possibilities.
Caroline ignored the signs of warning, and it cost her her mentor and savior, Mrs. Black. Pedro ignored the signs of satanic influence in his family, and ended up killing the only people capable of protecting him from it. Even the highly trained Mama Agnes slipped, ignoring her difficult duty to Caroline in order to bring dramatic justice to Pedro. Already Marcia M'buto has slaked her thirst with the blood of one of those willing to buy into her illusory fantasies, stealing the mind and body of another
This is the juggling act, to manage the balance of distracting enemies with rumors and fairy tales and keeping the eyes of your allies focused on stone cold reality. It is by no means an easy path, but its masters control the world at whim while those lost in fantasy languish in slavery, a slavery all the worse because it binds with chains no chisel or hammer can break.