If you’ll recall, a few months ago, I posted a promise to myself to have more fun with my writing. As a part of keeping that promise, I started a new online serial last week called In The Flesh. Today I’m very happy to post Part 2 of In The Flesh. I said last week that one of the things I love to do most on this blog is share stories that you won’t find anywhere else. Writing stories for my blog rather than just sharing observations or navel-gazes always feels much more personal, and much more like I’m sharing more of myself with my readers. Plus, it’s just flat-out fun for me!
In the Flesh is a dark and sexy story that has had several incarnations in its shorter form, but never quite worked because it needed space to grow. I couldn’t think of a better place for it to grow. In the Flesh is a blend of paranormal erotica and almost, but not quite … okay, quite possibly … horror. What I’m sharing with you, this version, is an expanding work in progress. You get it just shortly after I write it, and as far as what happens next, well … we’ll see.
I hope you enjoy it!
In the Flesh: Part 2
“He knows everything, Susan. He knows what we’re saying now, what we’re thinking, what we’re feeling.”
“What the fuck is he, a mind reader?”
In the growing gloom, she seemed as unsubstantial as the plastic on the altar. She pulled the blanket close around her with tightly fisted hands, knuckles chalk pale. “Susan,” her voice was a thin whisper that I might not have heard in a place less silent. “This is going to sound completely barking, but I think he might be God.”
We sat for a long time, me waiting for the punch line, or for some comment about the size of Shag Boy’s cock. When she said nothing, I felt obliged to fill the silence. “Most men want you to think they’re God,” my voice echoed nervously in the empty transept, “but the first time he forgets to put the toilet seat down, you’ll know it ain’t so.”
I suddenly felt as though someone was breathing softly against the back of my neck. My skin prickled and went cold. The odour of burning garbage was consumed in the scent of jasmine. And just like that, Annie was fast asleep.
I didn’t want to wake her. She seemed so exhausted, and as uncomfortable as it made me, I would just have to wait until morning to hear why my best friend thought she was shagging God. Surely she was just having a laugh.
Alone, and with nothing to do on what I thought would be a girl’s night out, I opted for a good wallow while I finished the rest of the chardonnay. The last group that had used the church before it was deconsecrated was evangelical and believed in adult baptism by immersion. They had installed a large bathtub in what had been a storage room between the two toilets.
A quick check through the cupboards revealed no bubbles or bath oils. I found it hard to believe that Annie, the spa queen, wasn’t taking full advantage of such a tub. But other than washing up liquid and my shampoo, there was nothing, and the dust in the bottom of the tub was proof Annie wasn’t using it. Undaunted, I cleaned it and filled it with water up to my chin. Then I lay back, wishing I’d thought to bring my rose bath gel.
The combination of wine and warm water was just beginning to relax muscles that had been clenched tight
since my arrival at Chapel House when the room was suddenly awash with the scent of roses. I opened my eyes with a start, certain I’d caught a glimpse of a reflection flashing past the steamy mirror above the sink.
“Annie? Is that you?”
There was no response. I sniffed the air. Perhaps there were roses in bloom somewhere close by. The whole evening
had made me jumpy, and though living in a deconsecrated church suited Annie down to the ground, it didn’t make me feel great. I’m a writer, my imagination was far too vivid to want to stay in a place with a back garden that had been a churchyard from which who knew how many bodies had been exhumed and reburied. Annie had told me that with the twisted smile of someone who happily watched horror films alone with a big bowl of popcorn and a bar of chocolate and thought nothing of it. I, on the other hand, felt even the air around me crawl over my skin and threaten to crush the jackhammering of my heart as I saw ghouls and ghosts and serial killers in every corner. That was only while I was awake. When I managed to sleep, IF I managed to sleep, the real fun began in the dream world.
The creep factor aside, I couldn’t keep from wondering if Annie had shagged lover boy there on the altar. Annie was just irreverent enough to do such a thing. Maybe she’d even asked him to pretend he was God and she was his sacrifice. I sipped my wine, then closed my eyes again, settling back into the silence.
The scent of roses grew stronger. I arched back against the tub feeling warmth flood my torso. Gooseflesh spread down my chest tightening my nipples and tracking a heavy path low over my belly. With a sigh, I shifted my hips and opened my knees, feeling the warm, liquid caress as I sank lower into the tub, into the heat rocking slowly, rhythmically against the resulting ebb and flow of the water as the space around me contracted into a tight embrace pulling me downward and away from myself.
With a little yelp, I jumped and opened my eyes, splashing water onto the tiled floor and barely avoiding a
mouthful. I must have drifted off to sleep and dreamed, though I couldn’t remember what. I could only recall the rise of goose flesh beneath a feather touch, the exhalation of humid breath whispered against my ear, but if there had been words, I didn’t remember them.
I lay there in a rising cloud of steam, holding my breath, listening, trying to hear something other than the hammering of my pulse. The scent of roses receded and with it the urge to linger. Suddenly I felt tired. I dried myself and stumbled to my makeshift bedroom. Barely noticing that there was no sheet on the mattress, I fell into bed and was instantly asleep.
In the morning I awoke to the smell of a fry-up, which was a good thing, because I was ravenous. I dressed quickly and found Annie in the kitchen looking fragile, but better.
She smiled up at me from cooking eggs. “Good morning. Sorry about last night. I forget sometimes how much stamina it takes to…” She blushed and returned her attention to
“Quite an animal, is he?”
She chuckled softly as she scooped breakfast onto plates and brought them to the table. “Let’s just say he’s…”
“Insatiable? I mean last night you said you thought he was God, so I figured he must be really amazing in bed.”
While I shoveled down my breakfast, she only held her tea mug between cupped hands and smiled down into the steam. “I said that?”
“Don’t you remember?”
She didn’t answer, only clenched her jaw and stared into her cup.
“What’s the plan for today? Retail therapy? I hear there’s a handbag sale at Debenhams.”
She picked up her plate and scraped her untouched food into the rubbish bin, careful to avoid my gaze. “Susan, I honestly don’t feel up to going out today. I just really need to rest. Would you mind going without me? I’ll be alright,” she added quickly. “I’m just tired, that’s all.”
By the time I finished my breakfast and was ready to go, Annie was already fast asleep, curled in her nest at the foot of the altar. Outside, the smell of burning rubbish stung my eyes and the back of my throat.
I had little enthusiasm for the handbag sale, nor for lingering at the make-up counter. Instead I found myself at an internet café researching God’s love life, which turned out to be a long history of seducing humans.
Zeus visited Danae in a shower of gold. He seduced Leda in the form of a swan. Eros came to Psyche in the dead ofnight forbidding her to look upon his face. Hades dragged Persephone down to the Underworld. The Virgin Mary was impregnated by the god of the Bible. In the New Testament, Christ is the bridegroom, and the church his bride. And the list went on and on. Perhaps even the indwelling of the Holy Spirit was just another way for divinity to experience flesh.
I had always loved mythology, and I’d read all these stories before. I’d just never put them together to get the whole picture. And though I was seeing an aspect of divinity that I found rather disturbing, I couldn’t help feeling there was still a piece of the puzzle missing. I suppose I should have felt relieved. Annie wasn’t as unusual as I’d thought. God was the ultimate stalker, and he didn’t seem to be very faithful to his lovers. Just Annie’s type. I tried not to think about the implications of my experience in the bath last night. After all, it was just mythology, and I’d had a lot of wine. And there’s never any accounting for my vivid imagination. After all, I was a writer. I made my living as a teller of tales.
I jumped at the sound of Annie’s voice and quickly minimized the page. “Didn’t expect to see you here.”
“I’m feeling better.”
“How did you know where to find me?”
She leaned down and whispered next to my ear. “My lover’s God, remember? You can’t hide from him.” I barely had time to register shock before she reached down and restored the page.
“Trying to learn a little bit more about him, are we?” She smiled at the monitor and nodded knowingly. “None of this does him justice. He’s the Hound of Heaven. He’s always pursuing those he loves, and there’s no escaping. Once he’s set his eyes on you, he’ll do whatever it takes to make you his own.”
I suddenly felt cold.