Pauline gripped the steering wheel and tried to fight the unusual sensations her body was now experiencing. As she drove down what she thought were familiar streets, she suddenly noticed that they were not so familiar now, like she was stuck in a fog or another world. She trained her eyes on the street signs and noted landmarks here and there. A cold sweat broke out as she pondered all that the emissary had told her.
She had to fetch an errant soul and bring her back to the initial entry point of whatever world or realm she had escaped to. Knowing how strong the dominatrix had been, she felt sure that she would have her work cut out for her. As much as she was excited to be an emissary – which was more incredible now that she was back in the “real” world – the idea of being without Jon for even more time and going back into the portals on her own on a crazy mission was making her feel like she’d finally lost her marbles.
It seemed like decades had rolled by when she finally arrived at the library. Now that it was closed, she felt a wave of relief wash over her, but she knew she’d have to keep her eyes open in case someone decided to work overtime – especially Mack. When she carefully parked her car under a eucalyptus on that clear, dark night, she stopped to take a breath. Sitting in her front seat she looked at the library and remembered her first day on the job.
She had been a hessian loving hippy when she’d started and had had a thousand ideas on how to turn people onto reading. Her mind meandered through all the almost forgotten memories of falling in love with Jon, the wonderful picnics, days at the market, going out on the town with June and fun afternoons playing Frisbee with Roman on the beach.
She wondered about recent events and how anyone else would’ve said that she was suffering from full-blown dementia if she told them what she’d been through, while stealthy tears rolled down her face.
Was it all real or in her head? Her thoughts were muddled. She couldn’t remember the purpose and reasoning behind it all. What had she learned? Was she advancing on a spiritual level or still sight-seeing – as has been suggested. She missed communing with her Oversoul and wondered if it had truly been absorbed into the Godhead.
Snapping to and shaking her head, she felt the urging in her solar plexus, like the little, pearl pebble was telling her that it was time to go. She got out of the car and snuck all the way to the back of the building, keeping to the shadows of the trees. The light from the moon gave the area a supernatural glow. The contrasts between the moonlight and the depth of the shadows from the trees hinted at magic.
Now she felt as light as air. The excitement of breaking into a building at night harkened back to her teenage years where she had been considered a bit of an animal activist, after kidnapping all the mice and frogs from the science department at school. She’d released them into a local creek.
At the time, her father had quipped: “Well, they’ll be all eaten up by the snakes, I s’pose.”
She thought about this as she swiped her card and rushed into the building, then over to the alarm panel to enter the code. Once it was disarmed, she went on her way to the catalog unit, while her mixed emotions got the better of her. Thinking of her father reminded her that she was so far away from her husband. The sensation of icicles emanating from her solar plexus only jarred her a little, as the tidal wave came over her.
Shaking, crying, trembling and soon laughing, she wondered if she was being split into a million pieces. Finally, she shook her head and did her best to focus. In the back of her mind, she wondered what was going to happen to her body once she’d moved through to the portals. Would another emissary take over?
The icy sensation in her belly was polarizing her thoughts and she soon found herself toughening up while moving closer to the unit. Her fingertips were buzzing as she reached out and instinctively grabbed the handle for the Caa – Cei drawer. Pulling it open, she sensed the pebble inside her spinning around on the spot. It was still chilly but not uncomfortably so.
Tracing her fingers along the cards, she noticed the same feeling she’d had when she first entered the portals. Excitement zig-zagging around with apprehension in her chest made her feel like she was being controlled like a Voodoo Doll, but the impetus to keep going was undeniable.
She barely noticed when her fingers stopped and pulled out a card. She was confident enough to close the drawer and flip the card over. It read, “Californian Sin Palaces and Red light Districts in Napa, 1930’s.”
This time, she didn’t pass out.
The icy sensation was now coursing through her whole body, like she was a warm glass being filled with chilled water. Then she felt like she was being sucked through a straw. It was at this point that she understood that she’d left her body. Of course, she wasn’t there to see her body collapse to the floor like a blanket dropped from above.
Twenty minutes later, her body slowly woke up and then hoisted itself to a standing position. It stood for another minute and then went over to the door Pauline used to get in. When it opened the door and stepped out, it paid no attention to the excited dog scrambling past to get in.
Liona Beechum’s strong body had been taken over by a rogue emissary called Balo, while her soul was occupying the body of a previous incarnation on the streets of Napa in California – in the 1930’s. Balo was in the bathroom checking out the crazy make-up he’d applied, which was three times thicker than any self-respecting Dominatrix would’ve allowed, but he was sure that the dramatic effect would be appreciated by the deviant who was now knocking on the door of the apartment.
Still wearing the skin-tight, rubber cat-suit with bare feet, Balo opened the door with a wide smile while he gently whipped the breasts again.
“Welcome patron. Do come in and bring your naughtiness with you.”
He stepped back while the burly, red-headed man gasped in surprise – faltering and nearly falling backwards with his mouth wide open. Balo waved the riding crop dramatically and bowed like a servant.
“Come along and enter this abode, naughty man. Tell me your filthy secrets!”
The client scratched his head and looked over his shoulder before tentatively shuffling his way inside.
“Madam, forgive me but – are you alright? We could do this another night.”
“Nonsense!” Balo exclaimed while tossing the riding crop on the sofa. “Come along, let us see what tools to select. You do wish to have things thrust upon or into your various orifices. Is that what you require? You like arbitrary items inserted into your fat flesh, naughty man-child – correct?”
The client stood nervously in the hallway.
“Um, something’s not right…”
“Everything is right!” Balo boomed snootily, with a touch of anger. “You are a deviant, are you not? I can think of a million items to stuff into your crevices. We will have fun. That’s what you ridiculous humans are obsessed with – correct? Fun? It matters not that your current incarnation is doomed. Let us see what we can fit inside your lumpy cadaver.”
When the client turned to run back to the door, Balo zoomed so fast to head him off that he knocked him onto his back. Circling around to pounce on the winded man, he emitted a high pitched shriek that pierced the client’s ear drums. Once Balo crouched over the client, who was now unconscious and staining the carpet with the blood from his ears, it became apparent to the emissary that something had gone terribly wrong.
Pauline had been through and seen a lot during her incredible journey in the portals, but she never got used to slipping into other bodies. She became aware of the smell of incense. Then she tasted ginger and chicken and heard old fashioned, Chinese music playing softly in the background. The excitement became overwhelming as she realized that she was once again free from her body.
The sensation was like someone had used a remote control to change the channels. Suddenly she found herself looking out from behind someone else’s eyes. She was sitting at a dining table in a sumptuous room decorated with a color scheme that consisted mainly of red, black and gold. The table was laden with exotic food and expensive tableware.
She seemed to be the only one in the room, which relieved her stress over not knowing who or where she was. One thing was certain. This emanation was either exceedingly well off or in the company of those who were. Pauline wondered if this was one of her own emanations, as she didn’t hear any internal monologue.
It was apparent that she was in total control and the delicious meal was too good to leave half eaten. Even though she knew that she had to find the Dom’s emanation, there was no sense of urgency and the pearl pebble was not shooting out any icy energy rays at that present time. She indulged herself and giggled a little when she thought about how she felt when the emissary had let her body gain more weight.
Holding out her arms she saw how slim and refined this woman seemed to be. She was wearing a tight red Cheongsam made from silk, with a dragon design delicately embroidered all over and low heel pumps. She took a sip of the wine and savored more ginger chicken, then noticed that her belly was starting to send out small signals like tiny, icy earthquakes.
Before she stood, the door slowly opened and an old Chinese man shuffled in. He bowed and motioned to the bottle of wine without speaking. Pauline assumed that he was offering more wine so she said simply – “No thank you.”
He gave her a wary look before nodding and bowing out. His movements were so fluid she wondered if she’d even seen him at all. Still tasting the sweet wine on her palate, she got up from the table and started looking around to see if she could pick up on who she was and how she could track the Dom.
There were many statues and pictures of various Chinese deities. There was a tall altar table with a bronze statue of the Hindu God – Shiva – and an old fashioned deck of Marseille Tarot on the corner of the altar. Pauline wondered about the mixed religious icons and different spiritual practices that this emanation was obviously interested in.
She saw a statue of Buddha next to a small, soapstone figurine that seemed to be Isis in her open-wing pose. There was an ornate, carved wooden box that had I Ching coins in it. It became clear to Pauline that this woman was some kind of spiritualist or fortune teller.
Going over to the door, she wondered what she would find on the other side and if she needed to act a certain way. Deciding to keep as silent as possible, she opened the door quietly and snuck out into the hallway. A strange, pungent odor hit her nostrils. It was like sickly sweet smoke – almost strangling the atmosphere – hanging like a dense, invisible fog.
She could detect faraway voices in the building but a large, ornate door grabbed her attention. It was at the end of the hallway; black, carved wood with a circular bronze plate in the center. When she got closer she saw that there were many tiny people and animals depicted in a strange world, while the bronze plate was engraved with a dragon eating its tail. The handle was almost invisible at the right side, but Pauline couldn’t help herself. She had to see what was on the other side.
When the finches in the large bird cage to her left suddenly jostled about while chirping loudly, she nearly lost her nerve. Pushing the door inwards, she looked through and saw a darkened room which was lined on either side with chaise lounges, low sofas, stools and floor beds. The thick, smoky, floral aroma reminded her of the scent of sex – in smoke form.
Every now and then an attendant took a long, thin pipe over to a large table in the corner, swiftly cleaned and packed it with a dark substance, then rushed it over to one of the people lying or reclining on the various pieces of furniture. There were mostly men in the room, but the occasional woman could be seen smoking, giggling or whispering to no one in particular.
Pauline already understood that this was an opium den. She noticed that they were all murmuring to some degree, creating a sound that made her think of a choir of lazy bees. This emanation seemed to be the Doyenne of a secret gang or underground business. She quickly closed the door and did her best to affect a regal air of snootiness while she made her way back up the hallway.
Once she returned to the room, she decided to try and find a newspaper. Not bothered at the time to check out her appearance, she barely noticed the silent Chinese servant coming back in, bowing and scraping all the way. When she spotted him she put her nose in the air again, doing her best to appear aloof. When he spoke in Chinese, she realized she didn’t understand him at all.
“Fūrén huì yǒu shé me shì ma?”
She didn’t know that he was simply asking if she needed anything else, so she pretended that she was preoccupied and waved her fingers about to show that she was busy.
“Newspaper. Today’s.” She mumbled and kept one eye on him to see if he understood.
He nodded and raced out of the room. In five seconds he was back with a crisp, folded newspaper laying across both of his forearms as he bowed and held it out. She’d assumed that she was in China, even though she remembered picking out the card about California in the 1930’s.
She took the paper and saw the date, which was one of the only things in English, stating that it was March 13th 1932. She saw headlines with occasional English words, such as “California” and “Napa” as well as pictures of American businesses, advertisements and political landmarks, people and overseas news.
Tossing the paper on the table as the servant bowed out again, she noticed another door on the right side of the room. She opened it and saw that it was a small bathroom. Now she was eager to see what this body looked like. Looking into the mirror over the small wash basin, she was dazzled by the reflection showing a distinguished and beautiful Chinese woman looking back at her.
The make-up and jewelry made Pauline think that this woman was somewhat affected by the West, although she was obviously deeply entrenched in her own culture and those of many other spiritual traditions. The little frozen earthquakes started spreading out from her belly again. Something told her that she should ignore her original idea of leaving the building.
She had a sense that maybe – somehow – the Dom would come to her.
Meanwhile, the two policemen slowly approached Lixian as she backed away in fear. Still sure that she was in a dream, the default reaction of retreating when faced with monsters, bad people or evil spirits was strong and beating like a heart in her stomach. She didn’t like how real it was; how the air was hot and drying out her throat; how she was experiencing many discomforts the waking body felt – such as thirst, confusion, pain in her throbbing feet and extreme paranoia – now that the police were closing in.
“Well, well, well – what do we have here, Sam?”
“Looks like a street urchin to me, Jack!”
They were both like caricatures of old fashioned American policemen, with their large hats cocked at jaunty angles and their turbo-shiny shoes, buckles, badges and buttons. The tiger in Lixian’s soul began to roar. Who did these two lousy cops think they were anyway?
“Why don’t you fuck off and leave me alone?” She asked in a menacing tone.
They both stopped in their tracks at the same time with matching dumbfounded looks on their faces. The older one pushed his hat further back on his head, elbowed his partner and gestured towards Lixian.
“Did you hear the words coming out of that street-walker’s mouth?!”
The other one shook his head like an angry father, while he stood with his hands on his hips.
“Doesn’t surprise me, Jack. We know all about these ‘sporting girls’ don’t we pal?”
They laughed and guffawed like donkeys. Lixian took the opportunity to race off and jump into the police car, with her feet scorched by the hot road and sweat pouring down her face. She thought to herself “If this is a dream, I might as well have some fun!”
She was surprised to be able to start the car and take off while the cops both started shooting at her. Laughing maniacally as she tore off down the road, she barely noticed the side mirror right next to her being obliterated as a bullet smashed it to pieces. Lixian had no idea about how much trouble she was getting herself into.
After wrenching the car around several corners and narrowly missing a stray dog, she found herself in a small version of the Chinatown she loved to visit back in Melbourne. The dusty old road, non-descript buildings and open carts and street vendors were a far cry from the modern version back in her real life. She stopped the car and quickly fled into an alley. It was late afternoon and she could smell a variety of rudimentary meals wafting down the street.
Following her nose, she was starting to understand that this was indeed real and not a dream. Seeing as she had no way of answering those questions, she did what she always did when in a crisis. She threw herself into the scene like nothing mattered. Seeing a nicer establishment down the street, she strode down there – barefoot and sweaty – and barged in like she owned the place.
A small, elderly Chinese woman shook her head and backed away in shock.
“No, no – no shoes – no food!” She also held her fingers over her nose and pinched it for emphasis. “You – you smell. No welcome.”
Lixian was about to let the woman have it when she heard a voice that was strangely recognizable.
She turned around and saw a magnificent lady dressed in red silk. Suddenly she felt foolish and dirty in her presence, but she was more interested in how this delicate and beautiful creature knew her name.
“Who are you?” She asked with suspicion.
The lady came over and whispered in her ear.
“Your savior! Come with me.”
When Roman scampered up to the catalog unit, sniffing incessantly, whimpering and growling, he detected Pauline’s scent. Now he was confused. He followed it over to the beginning of the alphabet and then jumped up and concentrated his wet nose on the drawer she had pulled. After a long time trying to pull the handle with his teeth and whimpering louder, he managed to get one of his nails into the wood above the handle of the next drawer and dragged it out in a temper.
The drawer jolted and spilled many cards onto the floor. When his left paw hit the card for “Chess” – he let out one last yelp before leaving his body – which then crumpled to the floor.