Part 3 – Worship
(femdom, omnipotence, mind control, sex)
Aiko walked through the snow toward the community centre. It was starting to get dark out, and service was starting in half an hour. She pushed open the door, greeted the man at the front desk, and headed to the room she’d reserved. She took the time to ready the room, putting out chairs, hanging a few pieces of art on the walls, going over her notes for the day. People soon started trickling in before she had quite finished, but a couple of people gave her a hand setting up.
By the time the service was scheduled to begin, there were about twenty-five people there chatting and socialising. Not a bad turnout, she thought. She smiled, picked up her notes and took the small bell that signaled the beginning of the service. People quickly quieted down and sat, waiting patiently. She looked around, waiting until she had everyone’s attention.
“Thank you all for coming. We’re here today to share our memories and love for Charlotte, to celebrate and give thanks to her for everything she’s given us. I see,” she scanned the room, “there are a few new faces this week. Welcome!
“Today, Catherine and Kathryn have asked to say a few words to open the service.”
Two women stood up and faced the room. One had short brown hair, and the other had long black hair, and they were wearing different clothes, but they were otherwise identical.
The black-haired woman spoke first. “Thanks, Aiko, We just want to say that the past few years have been…”
“Incredible.” The brown-haired woman finished her thought for her. “I was at the parade on the first Awakening Day celebration, and…”
“I was lucky enough to have received the blessing of being split before she left. When I became us…”
“It was really confusing, and hard, at first.”
“But as we became more comfortable with ourselves, and with each other…” Kathryn put her arm around Catherine‘s waist.
“It opened up whole new worlds for us of intimacy and self-love.”
“We’re both just so grateful for what she gave to us that day.”
The women smiled and hugged each other. The crowd smiled and politely clapped, and the women shared a short kiss on the lips before sitting back down.
One of Aiko’s breast-mouths had started unconsciously smacking its lips, but she noticed it and calmed it before standing back up. She smiled. “Thank you, Catherine and Kathryn, for sharing your blessing with us. And now, I’d like it if everyone could open their songbook to page 12…”
The stands were packed for the championship game. Both of the teams sat on the bench while Rich stood at center court, towering over everyone, holding the ball in his hands. It seemed comically small.
“Charlotte,” he began, “we thanks you for the blessings you’ve granted us. Blessings that have allowed us to run faster, jump higher, throw farther, and play better. We honour your gifts by using them every day, by competing as hard as we can, by pushing ourselves to become more than we are.”
“To be more than we are!” came a chorus of voices from both teams.
“Alright let’s go!” Rich called out. The players jumped up from the benches, flexing their muscles, curling their tentacles, stretching their extra limbs. The crowd cheered.
Nicole dropped her brush into her paint water. She stepped back, and examined her canvas, and frowned. I don’t like the colours, she thought. Too muted. She sighed and put her hands on her hips, her tail twitching in annoyance. She blew hair out of her eyes.
A knock came from the open door. “Hello?”
Nicole looked over to see a young man holding a cardboard box, waiting for her to acknowledge him.
“Hi,” she smiled, and wiped her hands on her clothes. The man blinked in surprise at how high her voice was, but didn’t say anything. “You must be Jack, come on in.”
“Thanks.” He entered and placed the box, about the size of a toaster oven, gently on a table. Nicole eyed the box eagerly. “Can I take a look?”
“Yeah! Yeah, of course.”
She carefully opened the top and, brushing the crumpled packing paper aside, whistled approvingly. Gingerly, she lifted out of the opening a small soapstone sculpture of Charlotte, as she’d appeared on the day of her disappearance. She sat, wings outstretched, arms extended, smiling lovingly.
“Oh my god, it looks just like her.” Nicole chirped. She took a few moments to examine it closely. “How long did this take you?”
He shrugged. “A couple of months, I guess. Working off-and-on.”
“It’s excellent. I’d love to add it to the gallery.”
His face lit up. “Cool!”
“The exhibition will begin next month, and we’re going to stay open until at least Awakening Day. But of course, you’ll be invited to come on opening night.”
“That’s awesome, thanks!”
They agreed on a price and she saw him to the door. Once he had left, she brought the statue to a locked room at the rear of her studio. There, she had a collection of several dozen pieces – paintings, sculptures, drawings – all of Charlotte. She found a spot on a shelf next to a feather that Charlotte had moulted on the day of the parade and placed it there.
She then sat on the floor in the centre of the room and gazed at her collection. She remained there for a half-hour, until she got hungry.
“I… I just don’t understand why she had to go.”
The woman sat in her chair, leaning forward with her arms crossed over her knees. “I wanted… so badly… I wanted to be blessed by her. I wanted some sign that I was… doing right. My sister, she… she can stretch or… twist… like she was made of rubber. And it’s made her so happy, like she was… connected to Charlotte somehow, like… like she loves her. And I just don’t…”
Her words trailed off and she wiped a tear from her cheek. “Sorry.” She laughed softly.
The other people in the group nodded and murmured their support. Their chairs were arranged in a circle, taking turns sharing their desires, their fears, and their grief.
“Thank you for sharing,” said Ed. He patted her knee and she took his hand gratefully. He paused for a moment and continued. “When I was blessed it wasn’t like that. I knew that I was really lucky… but unlucky too, y’know? Cause my blessing was taken away later.”
The woman gasped. “Why?”
Ed fixed his gaze at a point on the far wall. “Charlotte made me Pat’s servant. I was… mad, and scared, and I got rough with her, even though she didn’t do nothing to me. And Charlotte just kinda… well, for Pat’s safety – and mine too, y’know? gave me to Pat to control.” He lifted the sleeve of his shirt, revealing the property of Pat tattoo on his shoulder. “I was her property.
“And for three months, everything was clear. I knew what I had to do. I didn’t have to make any hard decisions. I didn’t have any big responsibilities – I just had a job. And doing that job made me happy. The little voice in the back of my head telling me to slack off, or making me angry for no good reason, or making me feel… stressed, or… whatever. It was just gone. Life was good.
“And then Pat was with Charlotte one day, and she was mad about something. I never knew what. You all know that she flipped out at the parade for some reason, right… well Charlotte brought her back to her home after, where I was. And she saw me, and she was upset, and she told Charlotte to undo what she did to me.”
Some people in the group, those who hadn’t yet heard the story, gasped.
“And she did it?”
“No, no,” he continued, “I think she was… I dunno. But she… I think she was trying to help me. I know she wasn’t trying to hurt me. But… yeah. Charlotte gave me all the little voices back. And I was so… confused, I just ran away. And I was the last person to see either of ‘em. I don’t know what happened after that.”
Nobody spoke for a long moment. Eventually he continued.
“But life goes on, y’know. I think about it every day. And I got questions, and I get angry sometimes. But… I just… hope she’ll come back one day. And maybe she can take away those voices for me again.”
Several provinces away, Pat woke up in the morning to her alarm clock going off. She got dressed, ate, brushed her teeth and drove to her office. There, she worked, made phone calls, attended a meeting, ate lunch, worked some more, and drove home. She and her boyfriend ordered a pizza, watched a TV show, had sex, and went to bed.
Pat arranged for her life to be as normal as she possibly could. She followed a comfortable routine and enjoyed the predictability of her life.
She never spoke to anyone about the year she was friends with a goddess.
I like what you’re doing.
Rich, Aiko, Ed and Nicole had all been sleeping, but in an instant, they were wide awake.
She was there. Not corporeally – they couldn’t see her or hear her, but her presence was real and unmistakable. The four humans weren’t in the same place, in fact weren’t anywhere near each other, but she spoke to them all simultaneously across space.
“Charlotte, where did you-”
“Have you been-”
“I can’t believe-”
They all started talking at once, then stopped, and looked around them, confused by the other voices. They were each alone, individually in their respective homes, but they could all hear each other perfectly clearly.
“Aiko? Is that you?”
“Yeah… are you Rich?”
“Yeah… who… who else is here?”
“Uh. I’m Ed. I think I was named Floyd when I met you though.”
You’ve all been doing very good things. Without being forced, or even asked. And I want to help you do better. So- keep doing it. Keep talking about me, keep leading people to me. And so you can do even more, I’m going to help you all perform miracles.
Think about me. Think about what you want to happen, and it’ll happen. Just you four. Just continue doing the good work you’ve been doing.
“Miracles…?” whispered Nicole.
You can have fun too. I want you to have fun.
“Charlotte… where did you go?” asked Aiko.
I never left.
“Where’s Pat?” asked Rich.
A short pause followed. Then, Pat’s fine. But she’s chosen not to be here.
“But did she-”
I’m not going to discuss Pat anymore.
The finality of that statement hung in the air for a moment.
Then Charlotte smiled. It wasn’t visible, but all four people had the distinct impression that she was smiling. It was beautiful.
It’s good to talk to you all again.
News of Charlotte’s return – though she insisted that she had never left, that was how people referred to it – spread quickly and widely. People wept openly in the streets and attendance at Aiko’s services increased rapidly, to the point where she had to find a larger space. Rich’s gym and Ed’s support group experienced similar surges in participation. The community saw a revival of enthusiasm and energy that had been dwindling for years.
A knock sounded at the door of the studio, and Nicole went to answer it. She wasn’t expecting anyone in particular, but the knock was hardly a surprise. For the past several weeks, she’d had dozens of artists approaching her with new works, all wanting to be part of the exhibition. She’d even had to start turning people’s submissions down.
Sure enough, when the woman at the door showed Nicole a painting of Charlotte, as she’d appeared before her awakening, Nicole turned her down.
“I’m so sorry, it’s wonderful, I just… I already don’t know how I’m going to exhibit all of the works I’ve already agreed to.”
Besides, it doesn’t look like me, Charlotte said.
Nicole rolled her eyes. “You always say that,” she replied.
They never get my nose right. I had a very distinctive nose.
The woman seemed not notice the conversation that was happening before her.
“I’m sorry,” Nicole repeated to the woman.
“Can’t you… I don’t even want to sell it, I’m giving it to you. I just want to be a part of this.”
“Look, I’m sorry again-” Nicole started but Charlotte interrupted her.
If she isn’t listening you could just make her go away.
Nicole stopped, surprised.
Or, you could very easily include her piece with the inaccurate nose if you really want to. Just get a bigger venue.
“Where am I going to get a bigger venue?”
You could take over the whole Museum of Fine Arts if you want.
Nicole thought about that for a moment. “I could do that, couldn’t I…?”
I’d like it very much if you did.
She turned back to the woman. “Look… you can leave it here if you want. I… may be able to fit it in. I’ll give you a call and let you know, okay?”
The artist seemed very pleased by that, and soon left. Nicole went to the back room to find room for her art, and continued her conversation with Charlotte.
“I don’t think I want to just make people go away if they don’t do exactly what I want.”
You really don’t need to follow social conventions anymore. You have all the time in the world, I suppose, so if you want to spend it on people who fill it with their inane concerns, that’s your choice. But I hope you aren’t doing it out of some kind of social obligation. Those don’t apply to you.
“I’m not comfortable with that.”
You’re greater than. I think you just need a bit of help accepting that.
“What do you mean?”
Charlotte paused. You know what’s amazing? Causality.
Everyone is constantly being transformed. Always. Both physically and mentally. Not just by me, but by the passage of time, the decay and multiplication of their cells, the weather, their thoughts and memories, and their experiences. No one is exactly the same at the end of a given day as they were at the beginning. And I find that process amazing. That woman who just left your studio was changed ever so slightly by your interaction with her, and she changed you too.
I can transform people directly, but do you know what I think is more fun? Setting a machine in motion. The butterfly effect.
“You’ve lost me.”
Don’t worry about it. You’ll see soon enough.
A knock sounded from the main door. “Hang on,” Nicole said to Charlotte, and went to answer it. Standing there was a man who was approaching the studio. He was also holding a package.
Nicole smiled at him. “Hi. Is, uh…” she pointed. “Is this a submission for the exhibition?”
He shook his head. “No. Well – I suppose it could be, if you wanted to include it. But actually, this is… for you.”
Nicole felt from Charlotte a wordless but distinctive sense of pleasure. She took a longer look at the man. “What do you mean?”
“Well, I know that you’re one of Charlotte’s chosen.”
“I don’t -” she started to protest but he began opening the box and continued talking.
“You should be celebrated too. I hope, ah, I’m not being too forward but…” he removed a painting from the box. Nicole gasped. It was a portrait of her, taken from a photo that had been in the newspaper in an article about the upcoming exhibition. The image of her was smiling gently, the tip of her tail raised up to her shoulders. She was speechless and she started at the work, then at the man who’d brought it, then back at the work.
It’s very good, said Charlotte. Nicole had the sense that she was laughing.
“Yeah…” Nicole answered, then turned back to the artist. “How much do you want for it?”
“It’s a gift,” he replied. “It’s, uh… an offering.” It took a moment for the significance of that word to register with Nicole. She gasped and stared at him. He cleared his throat and extended his hand. “Ben.”
“Nicole.” She shook it.
“I know.” he laughed. So did she.
Whispering, she inquired of Charlotte, “Did you do this?” Charlotte only projected a sense of pleasure in response.
The stadium was packed in anticipation of the match. Any event that Rich was involved in, since the advent of his sainthood, was guaranteed to draw a huge crowd, so much so that it was useless to hold events in his old gym. He now took over major sports stadiums, arenas and concert halls on a regular basis for all sorts of competitive events.
The gym still received a fair amount of traffic in its new capacity as a shrine, with images of Charlotte – and of Rich – adorning the walls, and rows and rows of candles lit out of fealty and supplication; people knew that if they wanted an advantage over someone else, in they were engaged in any kind of competition, Rich was the saint who’d help them. People came and lit candles before sporting events, dance competitions, political debates and even sometimes family gatherings of particularly competitive people. If Rich was satisfied with their prayer or their offering, they might be blessed with whatever kind of edge best suited their needs.
Tonight, a crowd of thousands was in attendance for a boxing match. The fighters entered the ring, strutting and preening, to the raucous applause of the audience. The announcer presented them, rattling off their win/loss records, weights and nicknames, expertly building up the emotional intensity of the event.
Then, he called for quiet, and the audience instantly obeyed, many of them just as excited for what was about to happen as they were for the actual fight.
Rich appeared in the centre of the ring, seemingly out of thin air. A collective gasp was audible from the crowd, even though they all had known what to expect. He was completely naked, powerfully muscled, and about twenty feel tall; he seemed to be larger, even just a little bit, every time he appeared publicly. He displayed his vagina proudly all around him. An awed hush settled over the stadium.
“All glory to Charlotte!” called Rich. He was easily heard by everyone, despite the fact that he didn’t have a microphone.
“All glory to Charlotte!” called back the crowd.
“Charlotte,” Rich continued, “it is by your blessing that we are here to enjoy this spectacle of competition. Thank you for your gifts.”
Charlotte smiled at him. That’s good. I like that.
“And if the contestants want to become more than they are, they can show me their devotion to Charlotte here, and I will reward them for it.”
At these words, Rich seemed to step forward, yet remain in place at the same time. He moved, partially yet easily, unencumbered, as though nothing were unusual, and suddenly there were two of him. The centre of the ring rose into the air, creating an elevated platform, upon which both Riches lay down, on their backs, facing opposite directions, and spread their legs, each one presenting his pussy to a fighter.
“Charlotte’s going to feel everything you to do me, so put on your best pussy licking face, boys!”
Do you have to be so vulgar?
“I like it,” grinned back Rich. “It gets me pumped, and it makes me fucking horny.”
The fighters positioned themselves between his enormous, firmly muscled thighs, which were each wider than the fighters’ whole bodies. They got down on their knees and started to suck, lick and bite the Riches’ cunts. The Riches moaned and twitched in pleasure, and felt Charlotte sharing every sensation he was feeling, sharing the moment intimately. The crowd roared, each shouting member of the audience cheering on their preferred contestant.
First one Rich came, then, a few moments later, the other followed, shouting and striking the platform with their hands. Both fighters backed away reverently, awaiting Charlotte’s judgment.
They were both good.
“Yeah,” whispered Rich catching his breath, but I liked Hall’s technique better. He’s definitely had a lot of practice.”
The Riches stood and waved the crowd to silence. “Stand up!” Both contestants did. Each Rich placed a hand on the head of one of the contestants. One of them began immediately to grow larger, bulkier, broader, taller, heavier. His muscled bulged and the veins began to protrude from his skin as his heart worked harder to pump blood to all his newly increased mass.
The other also grew, but less; his muscles became taut, smooth, firm, less bulky but more wiry. He was now visibly less strong than his opponent, but faster and more flexible.
The Riches removed their hands, and one stepped over and walked directly into the other one. He waved at the crowd, and gave a final “Praise be to Charlotte!” The crowd repeated his prayer, and he vanished from sight.
Both fighters examined their new bodies. The announcer’s voice came back over the loudspeaker. “Ladies and gentlemen, are you ready for a fight?”
Aiko chatted with Charlotte as she dressed herself for services.
I’ve given you near-unlimited power, and all you use it for is to make other people happy.
“You say that like it’s a bad thing!” Aiko laughed.
No, it isn’t bad. It’s good. But don’t you get bored?
“Making other people happy makes me happy.”
There was a pause before Charlotte responded. I wonder what you’d do if someone hurt you.
Aiko shrugged. “I was always taught to turn the other cheek.” She looked at the clock. “Time to get out there,” she said to no one in particular.
Aiko stood at the pulpit of the church, speaking to a crowd of thousands.
“What’s the point of it all? Why do we get up in the morning? What do we want out of our lives? And how does Charlotte help to make our lives better?
“The answer is the same as it was before, of course. Because Charlotte, for all she’s done for us, hasn’t changed out basic nature. She’s opened us up to new experiences, sensations and possibilities, but we’re still people, aren’t we? And what we need in order to be happy is the same.
“Love. Making connections with people. Caring for the people around us and being cared for. Finding a person that you want to spend your life with.
“And to that end, Charlotte has blessed us – and continues to bless us – with an abundance of love. Not just the sex, but a genuine connection to everyone in the community. Is there anyone here who is more alone now than they were before her Awakening? Please, if there are, come on up. We’re here for you.”
She paused to allow people time, and after a few moment, several people shuffled out of their seats and approached Aiko. About a dozen in total, men and women. Some had obviously already received some kind of blessing, some hadn’t. They looked out at the crowd awkwardly. Aiko regarded them with her fingers on her chin. “You’ve all come here to ask for something. Well, Charlotte is generous. Would you like love?”
“Please, grant us love!” the supplicants answered almost in unison.
Aiko smiled widely. “I grant you love.”
From behind the altar came a procession of a dozen young people who looked nervously at the supplicants with shyness, wonder and excitement.
Aiko concentrated on each of them. Just for fun, this time, she decided to pair them up in same-gender couples. A bit of variety. Slowly, they all made eye contact with each other, and each of the people on stage realized, suddenly and unmistakably, that they had fallen in love with someone else up on the stage with them. One by one, they cried out in surprise or joy, and one started weeping.
Aiko looked on with satisfaction and pride, her eyes tearing up.
Aiko returned home after service was finished. She usually spent at least an hour or two after service was done to socialize, meet new members of her congregation, and hear requests for blessings (which she usually granted). But today she decided to return directly home. She didn’t think about why she had a sudden urge to break her usual routine; she just knew that she wanted to go home and see Syndey. Throughout the service, she’d found it hard to concentrate; she kept thinking of her partner, how Charlotte had allowed them to connect so deeply, to create a beautiful life together, and to exist as a couple in all of the best ways.
Smiling, she disappeared from the church and re-appeared, naked, her hair tied back in the way Sydney liked it, her mouth-nipples smiling, in the bedroom they shared.
Sydney and Jack were both in bed, fucking in a cowgirl position. They screamed at Aiko’s sudden appearance and started scrambling to get up, to put some distance between themselves and her, to cover their bodies. Aiko watched them in shock, refusing at first to comprehend what she was seeing. She said nothing, all of her mouths hanging open.
“Aiko, I…” Sydney began. “I’m sorry, I…”
Jack said nothing, just stared in fear and shame.
“How could you?” Aiko whispered.
“We just…” Sydney’s cat ears were pressed flat against the top of her head. “I don’t know what happened. We just kind of… had to. It’s never happened before, I swear, I just… couldn’t control myself.”
Aiko narrowed her eyes. Under her breath, she muttered, “Charlotte, did you do this?”
Charlotte didn’t answer, but Aiko briefly felt a sense of disappointment and annoyance. Then, suddenly, that thought was gone, erased from her mind. She looked at Sydney and Jack, who were waiting to see how she would react, and her shock turned to anger. She also felt that Charlotte was watching her intently, but thought nothing of it.
Ed walked through the city with his hands in his pockets, whistling. It was 2 AM, but, no longer needing sleep or rest, he was working. As he almost always was.
He heard someone walking behind him, following him. He continued walking, pretending not to notice. The footsteps grew closer and a gruff voice came from behind him: “Gimme your wallet, asshole. Now. And you can walk away.”
Ed slowly, calmly, raised his hands. He turned to look into the eyes of the man threatening him, and spoke softly and kindly. “I know you’re not doin’ okay.”
The man narrowed his eyes. “What?”
“You’ve got so much stress. You probably got tons of little voices nagging at you, telling you to do things, and you can’t do all of them. And you feel trapped, don’t ya?”
“The fuck are you-”
“Sometimes you just don’t know what to do.”
“I don’t have time for this bullshit.”
The man relaxed immediately and totally. He dropped the knife he was holding.
“You won’t have anything to worry about anymore.”
The man smiled. He felt a strange, gentle scratching on his arm, and he looked down; the words PROPERTY OF CHARLOTTE were etching themselves across his skin. He regarded it with interest, but not with alarm.
“Come on, buddy. You’re gonna meet Aiko. She’s going to help you fall in love with someone. And that person is gonna give you purpose. Everything’s gonna be okay.”
Over the course of several weeks, Ed blessed dozens of people with purpose. Some people came to him, through the support group he continued to manage, and others he sought out himself – people whose pain and lack of meaningful direction caused them to hurt themselves or others.
And one day, while he was sitting on a park bench, watching two squirrels chase each other among the trees, Ed was suddently struck with an idea. He had no reason to confine himself to a single city, especially one where Charlotte’s influence was already widespread. I could do so much good, I could help so many people if I left here and started spreading purpose elsewhere.
He thought about it for several minutes, then walked to the nearest bus station and boarded the next inter-city bus departing. He didn’t even ask what the bus’ destination was, but he was certain that wherever he ended up, he would be able to continue serving Charlotte. He felt that she was guiding him, somehow, and he had complete faith in that guidance. He carried nothing with him; he didn’t need anything. He had found his own purpose.
Nicole wandered the rooms of the Temple of Graven Images, which had previously been the Museum of Fine Arts. With the expansion of the space dedicated to depictions of Charlotte, so had the quantity, the quality and the variety of the collection. Not just painting and sculptures, but stories, recordings of songs and readings of pieces of drama. Doxologies and hymns were given space next to limericks and comic books. Everyone’s worship was welcome.
As she wandered, she greeted the visitors to the temple by name. Thousands of people passed through the doors daily, many of them returning again and again to admire the collection. Nicole knew all of them and welcomes them with a smile and open arms. She was almost always there; she occasionally went outside to visit someone or for a change of scenery, but she had set up a private studio and living space in the temple, and as the days went by it became where she spent most of her time. She lived there with Ben, who became her first ever worshipper and live-in lover.
As time passed, she also spent more and more of her time not in the main exhibition hall, with the images of Charlotte, but in the wing dedicated to images of her. That collection wasn’t nearly as grand as Charlotte’s, but it was growing quickly. Nicole wasn’t discriminating; she accepted all offerings to her in the spirit of good will with which they were given, and rewarded those who gave them.
Nicole became aware of an older woman who was following her timidly from room to room, and had been for almost twenty minutes, keeping a distance. She smiled, turned around and approached her. The woman’s eyes widened.
“I don’t think we’ve met,” Nicole said.
“N-no, my name is Mary.”
“Hi Mary. I’m Nicole. I get the impression you’d like to speak to me.
“Yeah, I, uh…” she gulped, “um, I wrote you something.” She held up a paper with a poem written on it.
Charlotte watched with interest.
Nicole, delighted, took it from her and read it quietly, smiling broadly. As she did, she basked in the affection, the fear, the genuine respect and the desire for approval – the worship – that she felt from the woman.
“Mary, this is beautiful. Thank you.”
Mary laughed a nervous, relieved laugh. “You like it?”
“I love it. Would you like something in return?”
Mary’s face flushed red. “I’d… like to be young again. Please.”
Nicole placed her hand on her shoulder. “Of course.”
The woman gasped as she felt her bones strengthening, her joints loosening, her skin tightening. Her blood flow improved, her metabolism sped up, and a hundred other invisible changes occurred. The woman looked up at Nicole, speechless with shock and gratitude.
Nicole just winked at her. “It was a good poem. Now. I’ve got one more thing to ask of you.”
“Of- of course! Anything!”
“Worship me. Use your youth to serve me and continue to write poetry for me.”
“Oh my – yes, yes! I’ll… I’ll get started on something right away.”
“Bring it to me when you’re done.”
Laughing, in shock, the woman left the temple, thanking Nicole profusely her whole way home. She already had an idea for her next poem.
A young woman named Margaret stepped into the waiting room of an office. Two other people were there already, sitting in chairs. They all looked at each knowing, knowing that they were there to compete for the same job.
Margaret felt a wave of anxiety.
She stepped into the bathroom, looked into the mirror, and took a deep breath.
She checked to make sure that she was alone, and she reached into her purse and pulled out a small bundle of cloth. On the way here, she’d stopped at the shrine to Rich, and had been told what to do.
Gingerly, she unwrapped the cloth and found a small mound of flesh, about the size of her fist, warm to the touch, giving off a musk, and slightly slippery, covered in featureless skin, except for a vagina. She inspected it closely, feeling it pulsate gently, as though with a heartbeat, and smelled the odor it emanated. Finally, she brought it to her face and extended her tongue, licking the clitoris.
It responded immediately, warming up slightly but noticeably, swelling gently, its smell becoming stronger. She continued licking. She knew that she was performing oral sex on a demigod, and tried not to be self-conscious about it, instead focusing on providing as much pleasure to Rich as she could.
After several minutes during which she was thankfully left alone in the bathroom, Rich orgamsed. The vagina in her hand started leaking copious amounts of fluid, and Margaret licked it up eagerly. When she was done, she placed it back in the cloth and wrapped it back up. She went over to the sink and washed her face.
When she looked in the mirror, she gasped.
She was gorgeous. She was still unmistakably her, but her hair was perfectly done, the slight wrinkles and blemishes on her face had disappeared, and her clothes seemed suddenly freshly pressed. Her anxiety disappeared, and she suddenly somehow felt more confident, focused, clear-headed and perceptive. She suddenly knew things she hadn’t known before – the salary policy of the company, the list of qualities the interviewers were looking for – she was completely ready to get the job.
She smiled and placed Rich’s vagina back in her purse. “Thank you, Rich.” She whispered. “Let us be more than we are.”
Rich lay sprawled out on the floor on his gym, enjoying the cunnilingus he was simultaneously receiving from dozens of people. People about to go into job interviews, competitions, arguments and fights, any manner of competition. He granted to each of them the gifts they would need to succeed, and savoured his own particular brand of worship.
He moaned and rolled over, making himself comfortable.
After service, Aiko took her time with her congregation, socializing, receiving thanks, following up on goings-on in the community. She spent several hours there before going home. It was important to her to be present for her people.
Sydney had occasionally attended service in the past, but didn’t anymore. Aiko missed her presence there at first, but eventually realized that it was good to keep her work and personal life separate. And besides, she knew that the love she shared with Sydney was safe, now. She had made sure of that.
When she finally did return home, Sydney was waiting for her. She jumped up from the couch at the sound of the key turning in the lock and greeted her at the door. She smiled with relief at Aiko’s return began to purr gently as she took her coat.
“Hi dear,” said Aiko, after kissing her on the lips. “How are you?”
“Oh, good, good! Just, you know…” she laughed nervously. “Waiting for you.” Sydney had a vague, abstract conception that she might have spent her day doing something else, but couldn’t really imagine what. Doing something might have required leaving the house, or seeing other people, and she had no interest in that. She also had faded memories of interacting with other people – she understood that it was something she had once done – but felt no curiosity or desire to pursue those memories.
“Where’s Jack?” Aiko asked.
“Oh, the backyard I think.”
“I’ll go see him. And then,” she ran her hand over Sydney’s waist, “I think I’m in the mood for something hot.”
“Okay,” Sydney smiled. She bit her lip.
“Who do you love?”
“I love you, Aiko.”
“I know you do.” She kissed her on the lips. “Be right back.”
Aiko stepped out of their back door and into their spacious backyard. It was empty except for a golden retriever lying on its side in the grass. It looked up as Aiko approached. She stood over it, but it didn’t move.
“Hey Jack,” she said. Jack’s ears pricked up, but he didn’t move other than that.
“Just wanted to let you know that I’m going to go make love to my wife now, so don’t come inside for at least an hour.”
Jack didn’t react.
“Maybe I’ll get you a mate. Someone you can connect with on your level. Cause you can’t talk to Sydney anymore. Maybe I’ll even let Sydney remember that you were human once. I dunno. We’ll see how I feel later. For now, though, you enjoy some peace and quiet.
“See you in an hour.” She went back inside.
Ed pulled into a new city, and immediately got to work. He followed a procedure that he’d established and done several times in several new cities over the past few weeks.
He took over a small church and began redecorating it. With a series of thoughts, he reconfigured the stained glass, reshaped the statues, and made room for a new congregation. He thought back to how Aiko had decorated her church, and tried to take inspiration. He worked overnight making decisions, planning his presentation, and preparing for the following day. He was venturing out of Charlotte’s sphere of influence, and didn’t really know what to expect in terms of his reception. But he felt Charlotte’s guidance and her pleasure at his actions, and he was confident that she wouldn’t lead him to a fruitless purpose.
When he felt he was ready, it was still several hours before sunrise. He allowed himself a few hours of rest.
At 6:00 in the morning, he opened the front doors to find that there were already several people, curious at the changes made to the church’s exterior, waiting for him to present himself. He greeted them with a wide smile.
“G’morning! I got some great news for everyone!”
His voice resonated and extended over the streets. Not uncomfortably loud, just loud enough to be heard and not to be ignored. As he spoke he drew more people to the front of the church, and he began telling them about Charlotte.
After he’d been speaking for an hour, there was a crowd of several hundred people before him. Some skeptical, some interested, but all of them curious. Anyone who heard him speak was unable to walk away; once they started listening, they were enthralled. He knew that many of the people before him were supposed to be at work, or at school, or taking care of some responsibility, but he also knew that whatever their concerns were would soon become as unimportant to them as they were to him. He was going to give them all purpose.
He stopped speaking, surprised. Someone intensely familiar has walked into his sphere of influence. He looked over to where she was, saw her face, and confirmed what he had perceived.
Pat was there.
The woman he’d served, the woman who’d been his purpose for months, was standing before him, looking at him with shock and horror. He stopped speaking mid-sentence, and the enchantment he was weaving over his audience began to falter. They crowd started to shift uneasily. Some people looked at their watches and, in surprise, ran off to whatever they were late for. Some people waited for him to continue, others wandered off, confused.
Ed stared for a moment, before whispering, “Pat.”
Pat’s eyes widened and she took a step backward.
Ed could feel Charlotte watching.
“Pat!” he called out. “I thought you were…”
Pat turned and ran.
She didn’t stop. Ed reached out, mentally, and issued her a command to stop running.
She continued running. Ed, surprised, took a moment. “Why can’t I…?”
He suddenly was overcome by a wave of displeasure from Charlotte. Don’t you dare hurt her.
“Hurt…? I’m not gonna, I just… hang on, I need to catch up!” And, forgetting completely about the crowd of people before him and his purpose for coming to this city, he disappeared.
He reappeared directly before her. She screamed and stumbled, turned around and started running in the opposite direction. “Stay away from me!” She shouted.
“No, Pat! I just want to talk!”
If you touch her…
Pat ran down the sidewalk, pushing people out of her way. Ed followed, mentally commanding passers-by in her path to block her path so he could reach her. Someone spread his arms to stop her from moving past him, and Pat charged right into him, knocking him down. She got up and continued running in a blind panic, not knowing or caring where she was going.
She looked up, and suddenly Ed was in front of her again. “I’m not going back!” she shouted, and veered off to the side unthinkingly.
The car coming down the street had no time to stop or swerve; it struck Pat with its full force and she rolled over the hood, landing on the ground behind the car. Ed watched in horror, knowing immediately and certainly that she was dead.
The world seemed to stop.
He felt an unimaginable, unbearable emotional pressure from Charlotte. He had trouble breathing. “Charlotte,” he began to plead, “I didn’t mean-”
He never finished his sentence. Suddenly, with no sound or light or motion, Ed was gone. Erased completely.
The people on the sidewalk gawked at the space where a demigod had stood just a moment before, and at the body of the young woman in the street.
Ed’s disappearance was felt immediately and sharply by Aiko, Rich and Nicole. All of them immediately stopped what they were doing and reached out to Charlotte.
“What was that?”
“Charlotte, what’s going on?”
“What just happened?”
A long moment passed before Charlotte answered.
Ed is gone.
“What do you mean gone? Gone where?”
Just gone. But I have some good news for you all.
Come to the church.
All three of them immediately appeared in Aiko’s church. It was empty – there was no service that morning – but there was a young woman lying on the altar. Nicole gasped. Rich stared. Aiko blinked.
“What the fuck…”
Pat just died, but I brought her back to life.
“How did she-”
I think it’s time to welcome her back. She’s been gone for far too long.
“Where has she-”
Pat’s eyes opened. All three others started. Pat’s eyes focused first on Aiko, then on Nicole, then Rich. Her eyes widened. She looked around at her surroundings and slowly, calmly, propped herself up.
No one spoke for a moment, then, she asked, quietly:
“How did I get here?”
No one spoke immediately, but it was Nicole who broke the silence. “Charlotte brought you.”
Pat swung her legs over the edge of the altar and sat up. “The last thing I remember is running… and I think I…” her eyes widened again. “Was I hit by a car?”
Pat squeezed her eyes shut and rubbed her forehead. “And you… brought me back?”
“You can do that?”
It might be more accurate to say I re-created you. With all of your memories and personality.
Pat didn’t answer. The others all looked to each other, not knowing what to do.
Finally, Pat asked, “So… why? Why did you bring me here?”
I want to give you something.
Pat smirked humourlessly. “What?”
These three, for a few months, have been demigods. They’re all extremely powerful, able to do almost anything they wish, and they are all worshipped. Pat looked from one to another. I want to give you that too. Pat’s eyes widened yet again. I want you to be a demigod. I think you’ll enjoy it.
Pat didn’t speak for a long time. Rich eventually asked, “Pat? Are you okay?”
“Don’t call me that.”
“That’s, uh, not my name.”
The other three demigods looked to each other.
“Pat’s dead. She was hit by a car and killed. And I was created to be just like her, but… I’m not her. She’s dead. So, you can all call me…” she paused and smiled. “Diane.”
Another moment of stunned silence passed. Then Diane laughed.
“You know what, though, Charlotte? Pat would have hated this. She would have absolutely hated what you’ve done. Know how I know? Because I hate it too. I left… I mean, Pat left… and she stayed away for years – she left her friends, her family, her home, she left everything to get away from you. And that just… didn’t work for you, did it? You just couldn’t leave her alone. But now she’s dead, and there’s nothing you can do to her anymore… but you created me instead. That’s just…” she shook her head. “I don’t even know. I don’t even have the words for it. It’s fucked up.”
Another pause. She stared into space, not making eye contact with any of the three people before her.
“So, what. What happens now?” She shrugged. “I’m a demigod? I have magic powers?”
Anything you want to do, just imagine it.
“Alright. Don’t follow me. I need to be alone right now.”
And with that, she was gone.
The other three demigods, not knowing what to do, all waited for someone else to speak. Finally it was Aiko who did.
“Charlotte, what happened to Ed?”
Charlotte’s frustration was felt by all three, and in an instant they all forgot about Ed. It simply no longer occurred to them to wonder what had happened to him.
Diane instantly appeared in Pat’s old home, the space she had shared with Charlotte. It was exactly as Diane remembered it, and it was only after she’d taken a minute to calm down and re-orient herself that she wondered: Why is all of my – all of Pat’s old stuff here?
There had clearly been no one living there for years, judging by the dust that had settled over everything. But the apartment had been preserved perfectly. There should be someone else living here, she thought, but there was no sign of life. An eerie silence surrounded her. The creaking floors every time she took a step seemed intensely familiar yet so alien at the same time.
Don’t you want this?
Diane clenched her eyes, then opened them again. “Can you please leave me alone?” she said, quietly.
No one here is ever completely alone. I’m everywhere. I’m with everyone.
“Be with everyone but me! For ten fucking minutes!” There was no response.
She paused. “Pat really liked that name. If she had ever had a daughter, she would have named her Diane. I guess… I’m the next best thing.”
Yes. I remember now, seeing that in her mind.
Diane shuddered. “Why can’t you just leave me alone?”
You were dead. Don’t you want to be alive?
“Not like this! Why can’t you just let me go?”
Because I love you.
Diane put her head in her hands.
Why are you so resistant to my gifts?
“Because I don’t want your fucking gifts! I don’t want to be a demigod! I don’t want to control the people around me the way you do, or the way your fucking sycophants do! I just want to live a normal life! And the only way I could do that – the only way Pat could do that was by getting away from you! And now, for me… it’s impossible for me, isn’t it?” A pause. “Unless you take it back.” Another pause. “Take it back. Take back your damn powers. If you absolutely need me around, just… let me have a normal life. Please. Just… make me forget you. And all of this. And let me go.”
Charlotte did nothing.
Diane waited silently. The anger in her grew as she waited for Charlotte to act, and as it became clearer and clearer that she wouldn’t.
“Fine.” And with that, she disappeared.
Aiko, Rich and Nicole remained in the church, talking amongst themselves.
“Why did she bring her here?” Aiko wondered aloud.
Rich shrugged. “When Charlotte wants to do something, she just… does it. She’s always been like that. Even when she was human.” He paused. It had been a long time since he’d thought of her as ever having been human. He laughed. “I remember once when she decided to go camping by herself. She’d never been camping, and I… tried to tell her that it’s really a good idea to go with someone who’s done it before. And she didn’t care, she was just so set on it. She was supposed to be gone for four days, but she only lasted one night. When she got back, she was covered in bug bites, and an animal had gotten into her food, and her tent had leaked. But she just… needed to do it herself and learn first-hand.”
Nicole laughed. “She told me about that! She wasn’t embarrassed by it or anything, she just… chalked it up to a learning experience.”
The three of them laughed loudly, their voices echoing off the walls of the empty church. Then, suddenly, Rich stopped.
“Guys… I can’t feel my worship.”
The others stopped and looked at him.
“Charlotte, what’s going on?” he asked.
“I can’t feel my worship!”
Nicole’s eyes suddenly went wide as well. “Mine’s gone too!”
Rich disappeared and reappeared at his shrine. It was gone. Not destroyed or crushed or looted, but the entire building was gone. A plot of grass stood where his shrine had been. He reached out to feel for the pieces of himself that were scattered among the city, among his worshippers, and he couldn’t. They, too were gone.
“What the fuck!” he shouted. “Charlotte! Did Diane do this?”
Charlotte didn’t answer.
Nicole found that her temple had suffered the same fate. All of the artwork she’d collected, the fruits of the love and devotion from her followers, had been unmade. And she knew, intuitively, that she could not re-create it herself. It had to come from them.
“Pat! Uh, Diane! Where are you?”
Aiko found herself alone in the church. “Charlotte… do something!”
I’ve set this machine in motion. It will run until I stop it.
Aiko took a moment to understand what Charlotte was talking about when Diane suddenly appeared before her. Aiko looked at her cautiously.
“What are you doing, Diane?”
Diane looked back at her. “I don’t know whether you’re doing this of your own free will, or whether you’re being controlled. Sometimes I think I – well, first Pat, and now me – I think the two of us are the only people Charlotte isn’t controlling. But either way – I can’t join you. I can’t. And Charlotte won’t leave me alone. So I just… I need to send a message. And this is the best way I know how.”
Diane raised her arms and daylight streamed in as the ceiling disappeared. It didn’t break or crumble, it simply faded from existence. The walls melted around the two of them, and the stone floor sank under the soil. It happened extremely quickly, and the entire building was gone in seconds.
Charlotte’s displeasure was palpable.
“Stop!” Aiko reached forward and tried to force Diane to stop, and Diane resisted. The friction between their efforts was psychically painful, and the two of them cried out in surprise and displeasure.
Rich and Nicole appeared in an instant and joined Aiko’s efforts. They concentrated on stopping her any way they could – Aiko tried to enclose her in an impenetrable bubble, Nicole tried to put her to sleep, and Rich tried to kill her.
DON’T YOU HURT HER. An emotional energy filled the space around them, a fear and urgency that was wholly unfamiliar to any of them.
Diane managed to fend off all of their attempts, but the pain was almost unbearable. Each of the three quickly stopped their attacks as well, reeling in pain. A small pocket of reality fluctuated between the four of them, a chaotic side-effect of the conflicting magical energies.
STOP NOW, OR I’LL…
The air suddenly filled with water as Diane brought the entire contents of Lake Michigan directly above them all. The water pulverised the ground and the nearby buildings. She knew she couldn’t really stop any of the demigods, but she was lashing out randomly at everything around her.
Charlotte’s anger was infectious and disorienting. All of the demigods were affected.
For several seconds, everyone was underwater, swept up in the currents crushed by the incredible physical pressure. Rich suddenly vanished all of the water, returning it to the hole where the lake had been, and all of the demigods found themselves sprawled out on the ground, dazed but unhurt.
Aiko again tried to exert control over Diane’s mind, trying to wipe her mind completely of all memories and personality. The pain was excrutiating. Diane pushed back, and Aiko screamed. Nicole and Rich joined her efforts, trying to find a hole in Diane’s defenses.
With that single thought, they were all gone. All of them.
Everything was very still.
The entire city was soaked, as though there had been a brief but intense rainstorm. The shrine, the temple and the church were all gone, with no trace left to indicate what had once been standing there. And those were the only physical effects of the conflict that had just taken place. It had lasted less than thirty seconds.
And the four demigods were gone.
Charlotte suddenly felt very alone.