Pauline couldn’t believe how good the hot, crispy pizza was as she thought back over the eons spent in the portals. The molten cheese, zesty sauce and juicy pepperoni made her grateful to be back in her body, even though every minute she spent in her current life reminded her of the incredible worlds and lives that she was missing out on.
June and Zebany chattered like old times but Pauline sensed that things had changed. Her friend kept a watchful eye on her as they ate, making Pauline wonder about what had transpired while she was gone. Still pondering over whether she should tell June her crazy secret, she decided to wait until the time was right – if that time ever came.
“Hey, do you want to come with us to see a movie?” Zebany asked excitedly while she played with her nose-ring.
Pauline thought about it and decided that procrastinating to avoid Jon’s automaton was a great idea. She was feeling adventurous but also apprehensive at the same time. Somehow she knew that there would be a price to pay for the first emissary’s sneaky take-over of the dom’s body – even if she had been the one to instigate the transfer. She wondered if desperation to get her own body back was enough of an excuse.
“Sure. What are you going to see?”
June sighed and slumped back in her seat while she fought to speak through a large mouthful of ravioli.
“Some bloody vampire movie!” She uttered while sauce dribbled down her chin.
“Awww, yuck – Mum!” Zebany pointed and giggled.
June quickly dabbed at her mouth and tried to stop giggling herself.
Pauline appreciated normalcy for a change. She laughed at her friend’s antics and leaned over to tossle her hair like a father would.
“Can’t take you anywhere, June-bug!”
Soon they were at the cinema, settling into their seats and passing the popcorn bucket back and forth. Pauline tried to stop plunging her greedy hands into the deep pit of tasty goodness and remembered that she was carrying an extra spare tire, thanks to the emissary’s over-indulgence.
She found herself in a strange mood when the movie started. Seeing the onscreen vampire queen slaking her thirst brought back memories of the time she herself enjoyed the taste of warm, sweet blood from the weak race of Darbits. She was overwhelmed with odd feelings of desire mixed with excitement and blood-lust. It seemed that the remnants of that emanation still coursed through her veins.
Once the halfway mark came along she couldn’t stay still. June reached over to touch her arm, making her nearly jump out of her skin.
“Pauline? What’s the matter?” She whispered in amazement.
Standing up suddenly and excusing herself profusely, she started sidling down the aisle. June followed, leaving Zebany by herself. When they reached the foyer, Pauline was visibly shaking and laughing quietly to herself. The sweat was dripping down her face. June ushered her over to the bathroom and they slipped in quickly, watching under the partitions to make sure they were alone. June took a handful of paper towels and drenched them in cold water, before going over to Pauline and gently swabbing her forehead.
“What’s going on?” She asked.
Pauline shook her head defensively as her eyes darted around furtively.
“I guess I’m not up to horror movies anymore. It made me sick.”
She was lying and something told her that June wasn’t buying it.
“I’ve never seen you like this. You’ve been so strange for so long – almost like a robot. Now you’re nearly one hundred percent in the opposite direction. You’re anxious and sweating. If I didn’t know you any better I’d say you were manic, or something.”
Pauline laughed nervously again and shrugged, trying to make it look like none of this was a big deal.
“You know me June. I’m a bit of a chicken when it comes to blood and guts.”
She watched her friend for a sign of suspicion. It was obvious that she knew that more was happening than met the eye, but Pauline felt a sudden urge to get home. The pull in her solar plexus was overwhelming.
“Look, I’m sorry. Tell Zeb I’ll make it up to her. We’ll get together soon. I have to get home.”
June tried to grab her arm as she raced towards the door. Pauline was too quick and when she made it through the foyer and out to the front of the theater, she was relieved to see a taxi waiting. Within twenty minutes she was running up to the front door. She stopped short when it opened up, revealing Jon’s body with a stern look on his face.
The first emissary was getting the feel of the dominatrix’s business. In her tall, strong body he’d already gone through the wardrobe and tried on most of her gear. Settling on a black cat-suit made entirely of rubber, he struggled with a pair of six inch stilettos and fell over several times. Losing his temper, he threw them against the wall and went back to the lace up boots. He was startled when the phone rang.
Creeping towards it like he thought it would bite him, he finally answered it on the eighth ring.
“Hello?” he answered timidly – or as timid as he could with this deep, smoky voice.
“Good evening, Mistress.” A male voice replied. “I apologize but I’ll be ten minutes late tonight. I’m sure you’ll deal with me as you see fit.”
The emissary was flustered. Now that it was happening so soon, he wasn’t so full of himself. He struggled to speak in the way he assumed the dom spoke.
“Very well then. I aim to please. What time was that appointment and who are you in this life?”
There was a pause on the other end of the line.
“Forgive me for asking. Is…everything alright, Mistress?”
The emissary scanned his mind for an appropriate answer. As long as he had been operating Pauline’s body, he was still a little rusty when it came to human interactions.
“Everything is alright on this day. Please feel free to arrive at the time of your choosing.”
He felt that something was off. His speech patterns were far more normal when inside Pauline’s body. There was a nervous cough coming from the receiver.
“Um, okay then, Mistress. I’ll see you in about forty five minutes.”
“Good, good. Tell me though – remind me – as it were. Your activity requirements. What is your pleasure, so that I may be of full service to you?”
The man sounded nervous once asked this question.
“Well, the usual, Mistress. You know? I’ve been so naughty and I really should be punished. I’ve done – the thing. I suppose I’ll never learn.”
The emissary was even more confused. He had scanned the drive on the dom’s computer and learned much about her clients, but he didn’t know who this one was or what he wanted. He didn’t want to wait until the client arrived, so he broke protocol and performed a meld over the line. He was struck by the tall, bulky body that was transmitted to his mind’s eye.
The man was middle aged with a shock of red, curly hair. He was wearing a lab coat and leaning over a desk in a messy office. The only ideas he could get a glimpse of were those of a man who enjoyed being humiliated along with shameful insertions. The emissary didn’t understand the reasons behind why this client enjoyed this type of punishment. This was not only due to his lack of understanding of human psychology, but also due to his belief that humans were no better than the animals they lorded over.
He decided to go along with whatever happened and was secretly thrilled with the idea of creating his own routine. Like a mad scientist himself, he grinned and nodded enthusiastically, even though the client wasn’t able to see.
“Good then. Come along.”
He hung up and went over to the mirror in the bedroom. The tight cat-suit was uncomfortable, but he like the occasional squeaks that occurred when he moved. He then went to the walk-in closet and grabbed a riding crop. He fiddled with the little leather loop at the end and looked back up at his reflection. Whipping the breasts and laughing maniacally, he nodded his head as he watched himself.
Pauline crept up the front steps and kept her eyes trained on the automaton. She knew that the emissary who was operating Jon’s body was higher up than the one who had occupied her own.
He watched her closely and soon widened his eyes. It was obvious that the revelation was hitting him. This was the real deal; Pauline had returned. He staggered back – still frowning – while Pauline stepped slowly over the threshold.
“Hello.” She said cautiously.
“Doelanda. You have returned.”
“Yes. It’s me. I assume you’re not Jon.”
He shook his head and looked her up and down.
“Where did Balo go? Did you arrive in another’s form?”
She knew exactly where this was going, but there was no way out of it.
“You mean the other emissary?” She asked.
“Yes, yes. Where did he go?”
She gulped and did her best to keep it simple.
“He left, but I don’t know where he went.”
She was distracted by how attracted she was to him all of a sudden. Having another being behind her husband’s eyes had added another dimension; one which she hadn’t contemplated until now.
“Tell me, Doelanda. Did he take possession of the body you arrived in? It is certain that the body you were possessing was not one of your own emanations, in this timeframe. Tell me about that emanation, for it is certain that the soul has been sent into the portals.”
Pauline felt an instant rush of horror and guilt. Speechless, she looked down at the floor and ignored Roman whimpering at her feet. She hadn’t noticed him bounding towards her when she’d arrived. When she looked back up at the emissary, she did her best not to allow the fat tears to roll down her cheeks.
“I don’t know her name, but she’s a dominatrix. Her clients call her Madame Lynx.”
He gave her an odd look which indicated that he didn’t quite understand what she’d said or at least, what it encompassed.
“Let me hold your hand.” He said dryly, but with quieter clicks than the other emissary.
She hesitated but soon put her hand out. She wanted to make it right; to return the dom to her rightful body and to get Jon back, although the fact that he alone was responsible for his return sickened her. The emissary took her hand and she noticed how clammy and cold the flesh was. He stiffened and rolled the eyes back in their sockets, making Pauline worry about any damage to her husband’s body. At least he hadn’t gorged himself or altered Jon’s body in any obvious way.
Once he was done, he released her hand and took a deep breath.
“Ka will not be happy, but I think there’s a remedy.”
“There is?” She asked excitedly.
He tilted the head back but kept the eyes trained on her.
“Let us hope so. You want to be an emissary and that is exactly what you will do. You must head back into the portals and track Lixian. Once you convince her to return to her initial entry point, she will teleport back and force Balo out. He will have to return to our realm. I must make sure he stays in her body until you can find Lixian and complete your mission.”
Pauline was doing her best not to faint. Her face burned with shame and terror. This was now more serious than anything she’d faced in the portals. It was obvious that Lixian was the dom’s soul name. The realization that another’s soul was at stake weighed heavily in her mind. Those fat tears finally spilled down her hot cheeks.
“I’ll do it, I’ll do it!” She blubbered as Roman whimpered at her heels. “But how? I have no idea how to be an emissary. I don’t know how to track people. What about me and my soul? What will I do?”
He smiled kindly and held both of his hands out – palms facing upwards. A small ball of white light appeared in the space above them.
“Take it. Trust me, you’ll know what to do.”
All she could see was the light emanating from the ball, but when she reached over and then withdrew her own hand, she saw a pearl-like pebble between her fingers.
“Now – swallow it.”
She looked up with disbelief, blinking away the copious tears.
“Of course. It will guide you. Trust your instincts and return to your own portal – at the library. You will be led to her new position.”
She tentatively placed the pebble onto her tongue and hesitated to swallow. When he nodded emphatically she finally did as he bade. It was like swallowing a tiny hail stone. There was a chill in its wake, all the way down to her belly.
“Now, go on. I will find Balo. Do not waste time exploring and do not allow yourself to be distracted. She will probably not believe you, but you must be forceful. Explain what happened – even if you must dress it up as a dream or a game. Once you return her to the initial entry point, all will be well.”
Pauline nodded dutifully, grabbed her keys from the hall table and tried to walk normally. The blood was centering around her middle so her legs were shaky. Being light-headed didn’t help, but she was able to make it to the car. Backing out of the driveway, she didn’t notice Roman slipping through the front door before the emissary closed it.
When Lixian’s body was taken over by the rogue emissary, she thought that she was passing out or having adverse effects from the valium she’d taken. The whole episode with travelling to Pauline’s house was a dream-like blur. She’d barely taken notice until the flashing light distracted her. Her consciousness was fully alert when she had the sensation of zipping along a kind of slipstream like a luge rider on an ice track.
There was no way she could’ve known that she was time-travelling through the parallel portals to the life her soul had occupied before her current emanation. All she could deduce, while a wild panic took over her spiritual senses, was that she was having some kind of trip – or experiencing a wicked nightmare.
When she sensed the vibrations of undulating and the familiar motion that seemed like ebbing and flowing, it took a while for her to comprehend that she could feel physical contact. Something burned down below. Her body was being infiltrated. She heard gasps and guttural groans. A strong male scent hit her nostrils. She felt her arms and legs clasped around a sweaty man, then she heard a strange monologue going on in the mind of the body she had infiltrated.
“Usually these truckers pull it off in no time! Jeepers – what’s taking so long?!”
“What?” Lixian asked – out loud but not knowing who to focus on.
“I didn’t say nuthin’ – sshhhh!” The huge man grumbled in her ear.
“Who’s that?” The voice in her head asked.
The two began a bizarre conversation while the man eventually stopped and watched. Leaning back, he butted in every now and then – saying, “What? Who are you talking to? What’s wrong?”
The young woman’s body was white and terribly slender. With long, dark brown hair and skin as pale as moonlight, it was obvious to Lixian that she wasn’t even twenty years of age. She was confused and still thought that she was dreaming. She was instantly disgusted by the man who lay back over her, draping her like a bear rug.
She made no bones about wanting to get out from under him. Trying to use all her strength in a weaker body was frustrating, but her willpower was stronger than the body she was occupying. He grunted and shifted somewhat like he was playing a game. She soon managed to slip out from under his hairy bulk, like a lizard struggling to get out of a tight crack in a rock.
Once out and realizing that she was totally naked, she raced for the bathroom while a throaty laugh bellowed out of the throat of the man. The inner voice was silent and Lixian marveled at how alert she was in this dream. She saw a casual, pale yellow housedress with a sweetheart neck and short sleeves. She turned up her nose and put it on, wondering why she couldn’t summon up a black pant suit, seeing that – in her mind – she was dreaming.
When she turned to look in the mirror, she gasped and then giggled. She posed this way and that as she checked out the pale, thin body. It felt odd but she went along with it and decided not to slip on the scuffed, ballerina-style shoes. When she went back into the bedroom, the man was struggling into a jacket that was two sizes too small for him and grunting loudly.
He looked over at her as he finally got the jacket over his shoulders.
“Alright, I get the hint. Time to go!” He joked before tossing another dollar bill on the dresser. “Until next time, Sweetie – and next time – let me finish my business.”
He grinned at her then tipped his hat and strolled out of the room, whistling inanely. Lixian strolled over and snatched the money up into her hand, then stuffed it into a pocket.
This was a habit she’d performed for years. It was ingrained in her, much like her strong personality, which – unbeknownst to her – was what gave her the level of control she had over this emanation.
Still oblivious to what was really going on and coasting along for the ride in this strange dream, it didn’t take long for her to realize that she was in a confusing reality. The reality became apparent as she followed the man down the stairs. She noticed how real everything was. The smells, the sounds and the solid floor under her feet made her feel more uncertain, rather than assured that she was safe in the dream world.
A middle-aged woman with short, curly black hair was sitting on a plush sofa near the entrance in the foyer. She was dressed from neck to ankle in crimson and wore many gold necklaces, bracelets and rings. She gave Lixian a shocked look before nodding graciously to the man as he left the building. When Lixian approached the front door the woman leapt to her feet and blocked the entrance while clicking her fingers loudly.
“Hold on, Missy Pooh-Pooh. Where do you think you’re going?!” She said in a sharp voice.
Lixian laughed and put her hands on her hips, but her tough act was slowly eroding. Something was nagging at her. She suddenly sensed knowledge about the gravity of the situation creeping into her consciousness, which was already ignoring the emanation’s inner voice – who was wondering why she was leaving and why she wasn’t using the back door.
Lixian sensed her stubbornness taking the reins. She screwed up her face in a disgruntled grimace.
“What’s it to you, old woman?!”
When she pushed past and started striding to the door, the older woman moved like the wind. A combination of scents including musk, sweet wine and mothballs came over Lixian like a rampant, invisible cloud. The woman was now standing in front of her, with her lips pursed and her plump arms folded across her ample bosoms.
“Old woman?! This old woman took you under her wing a year ago when you were a lost, sniveling alley-cat! I’ve fed you, clothed you, kept a roof over your head and saved you from the streets. Now, you get back to work and take Mr. Findlay with you. You’re already ten minutes late!”
Lixian glanced over the Madam’s shoulder and saw a small, skinny man wearing a baggy suit that was obviously a hand-me-down from an older man. He hovered like a scrawny bird of prey behind the Madam, sporting a pencil thin moustache. His slicked back, harshly parted, black hair looked like it was painted onto his bird-like skull.
He smiled earnestly at Lixian while he tightly gripped and squeezed his hat between his nervous hands. She was still grappling with the hopeful idea that she was in a dream, but it was all too real. Relying on her gut instincts, she turned and bolted to the back of the building while the Madamn yelled expletives and started rushing after her.
Once she found the back door she shoved it open and then raced away to the main road at the front. She didn’t stop until she was half a mile away from the house. Looking back and catching her breath, the stinging sensations coming from her feet distracted her.
“How can you feel real pain in dreams?” She wondered aloud as she rubbed the soles of her feet and flicked away the little stones and detritus.
“Oh, I’m dreaming!” The inner voice of the emanation said in her mind.
Lixian was more confused than ever, but she was distracted once again. This time, it was the handful of cash spilling out of her pocket. She retraced her steps and gathered the money up from the road, then counted the single bills and realized that it was American money. Six dollars, which made her balk in disgust. She could’ve easily charged $800 to $1,000 for the same thing in real life.
Then a car pulled up alongside her, so she hobbled over to the side of the road. When she looked over to see who it was, she was mortified when she saw two cops getting out of an old fashioned police car. Their nasty eyes were trained on her like vultures descending on a fresh corpse.