Wherever he was, it was dark, quiet, and room-temperature; that's the first thing McKinley was aware of as he came to. There was a faint scent of turpentine, and other industrial-strength odors in the air, combining into something just short of offending one's sense of smell. After that, it was the fact that he was leaning forward against his restraints. "Probably rope," he thought to himself. Investigative reporters sometimes ran into these kinds of circumstances, where they get too close to a story, and someone decides to intervene, offering the peaceful option of walking away with no trouble, sometimes adding financial incentive. Or, there was the more direct, hard way of threatening physical violence, with a few nasty bruises for good effect. McKinley was a record-holder in the regard of how often he woke up to familiar settings like this. It was a little different this time in that he felt like he was coming out of a normal, deep sleep. No lingering taste of chloroform in his mouth, no pain from or memory of a taser shock, nothing he expected. The only discomfort he felt was leaning forward while tied up in a chair, which he must've been doing for at least an hour.
Before giving away the fact that he was awake, it crossed his mind that he would fake sleeping for as long as he could, to hear what his captors might say; something that nearly saved his life the first time this had happened to him. His ears were very receptive; no one was talking, but he could sense someone was near. He thought about remaining that way, to see if there was a way to wiggle or break free of the ropes, assuming he was dealing with amateurs. But he wasn't Houdini or some other elaborate escape artist. What troubled him more was the memory of what happened near the time he would've been taken.
Hours, hopefully hours before, he'd been tracking an urban myth, McKinley's pet-project for almost a decade. Much of his success and reputation in his field came from other big cases he was assigned to, but some were connected to this one case that could make him a legend. His inability to help going after the crazy stories was what kept him chasing the myth for so long. Tracking down Keyser Soze as a clueless civilian, or Mulder chasing aliens and government conspiracies seemed an easier pursuit. And yet that night from the shadows of a building across the street, he finally caught some kind of break, taking photos of a well-dressed couple or pair on a date get into a black limousine parked outside a Manhattan jewelry store. It looked as a late purchase had been made; the owner inside didn't seem distressed as he began closing up, so more than likely it wasn't a typical robbery. McKinley assumed that the jewels were a gift for the woman who served as the myth's latest squeeze, or a ruse for some kind of transaction. He made a note of the jewelry store, something to look into for later.
Before they got in the man and woman talked. The almost blondish man was dressed in an expensive black suit, and the woman wore glasses and a forest green dress that looked stunning against her ebony skin, just like the jewelry she'd just bought there. He couldn't hear what they were saying, but hoped where they were going was better information for him. The driver opened the door for both of them, and they got in while the driver returned to his seat. But he hadn't closed the door for his passengers; it just remained open. No one made an effort to close it, or complain about it. Cars passing by fortunately missed the door, so no accident was caused. It was as if they were waiting for someone else to join, patiently. It finally occurred to the reporter than the door open was parallel to where he stood in the shadows.
By then he figured he was noticed, and was unofficially invited to join them. He couldn't be certain, but the longer he stayed in the darkness, the longer he thought about if it was a good idea, if it was legitimate or a trap, or both, and started to reason that it would be better to just get in the limo. With every step he questioned if it was a good idea to approach to get in. Reaching the street lights, he worried about being seen; if he were to break this case, maybe getting into the car could be perceived wrong by any of the public who could identify him. He guessed it was his curiosity that carried him forward, which seemed foolish, because he blanked out as soon as he entered to sit down, unable to see anything as his eyes shut, feeling like he'd been covered with a blanket made of sleep.
He came back to his current state where footsteps sounded, clearly a set in front of his chair. They moved toward him, and the sound of a switch blade being unsheathed was even louder than the footsteps. Panic came over McKinley, trying to keep up the appearance of unaware, but he hesitated with a sharp intake of breath, the warehouse scents almost turning his expression to one of disgust. He braced himself as his leg was gripped and the tip of the blade softly pierced through his pants and into his flesh. The reporter couldn't feign any longer, and raised his head to meet the blonde man smirking down at him, applying exact pressure to the knife with a steady hand. The blonde man received a smirk back from his captive. After a minute, the blade was raised, and the captor took a few steps back.
"Apologies," the blonde said in a German accent. "Your reputable patience seemed very accurate; it's not something shared unfortunately."
Every last detail of the German was taken into consideration, from his height and build, similar to McKinley's, to his choice of high-class men's wear, posture, body language, even comparing him to his surroundings. They were in the middle of a warehouse, stocked with goods that were unfamiliar with the reports he'd linked to the myth. Overhead lighting was bright, but thankfully not blinding like they could be for an interrogation. It didn't take him long to go for broke and make a deduction.
"Your boss told you of my patience?"
"I would know first-hand, Mr. McKinley, the way you've gallivanted all over the country and sometimes the globe chasing after a silly myth, something you believe me to be."
"What's silly is you trying to keep up this charade, Hans," he claimed, spouting a name for the man sarcastically. "You're an enforcer, not a boss. Those cuff-links are expensive, but not that expensive. Your cologne is much cheaper than expected, too cheap in-fact. The 'myth' I've been chasing surely doesn't gravitate to violence that easily, not enough to come at me with a knife. You carry yourself like a soldier which you clearly were, or technically are, never getting past the rank of major in whatever army you served, meaning you're not a general, meaning you would only have a few guards surrounding you and packing more than a knife which you're not right now. And to reiterate, it goes without saying that a man of "your" methods works in ways other than violence, mostly, making you a contingency with someone else pulling the strings, letting you do what you really want to do if need be. So, to quote an old American TV show you might not be familiar with, 'who's the boss?'"
Hans, as McKinley called him, stood in-place, glaring at the man, but not moving a muscle. That was confirmation enough for his captive of his theory, otherwise they might not even be talking right about now. He looked at the imposing man for so long, it took him seconds longer than he was used to to feel a pair of hands running over his shoulders from behind.
"Absolutely nothing gets by you, Mr. McKinley."
This new presence plainly distinguished himself from what was in-front of him. The accent behind him was soft, of some African descent he guessed, and feminine. He looked down to see one of the hands holding him; dark, ebony skin with short, dark-red nails. She even came with her own scent, jasmine; despite his apprehension, he at least appreciated her aroma temporarily overruling the surrounding volatile odors. His shoulders were squeezed, as if trying to match Hans' introduction of acute, slight pain with womanly, sensual pleasure.
"And you are?" McKinley said looking forward, trying not to show how the woman's talons made him more fearful than the German's knife.
"You would be the Pulitzer-prize winning reporter desperately looking to be well-versed in so-called international criminal activity. You tell me."
She circled his chair, and finally came into view - the woman who entered the same limousine he did earlier in the evening. She had natural, raven, frizzy and short curls that almost bounced with every step and shined a little in the light. Her dark, blemish-less skin had a healthy glow to it, looking quite tantalizing set against the long sleeveless green halter dress. The slits on its side teased her legs; the dress overall subtly teased her body, creating an attractive allure for anyone close enough to admire her. His male, primal side was tempted to look below her face to have a better look at the body he admired for a few seconds from afar, but he focused on her face more. McKinley tried in his head to go over the possibility another stand-in, a decoy claiming to be the one in-charge. If it wasn't for her introduction, he would've first assumed she was a dedicated secretary of the one he chased, emphasized by the Gucci glasses she wore. The only expression she chose to give McKinley was that of a Bond villain. She exuded confidence through every pore, eyes twinkling behind the lenses, and bore the smile of someone coming face to face with a competitor, but knowing, fully believing they had the upper hand. Either she was an excellent actress, or McKinley's search the world over was finally over.
McKinley's voice caught in his throat.
He tried forcing it out, shaking his head, focusing, but he couldn't even begin to say what he wanted.
"Y-. Yyyy-. A-!"
He looked up to see a bright-eyed smirk shone down on him, unsurprised yet ecstatic to see him struggle with his words.
"Never thought I would see the day McKinley would have trouble speaking. Even dangerous situations never seem to keep your mouth shut. This is not exactly that, but I think we have made due," she spoke teasingly, but with proper English, the way a strict language teacher would articulate.
The journalist screamed, and tried several more times to yell out the name of the myth. Maybe no one on earth spoke her infamous name more than he did, which frustrated him to no end for his inability now.
She looked over at her accomplice, seeing him smile nearly as wide as he ever had.
"How did you know his name was Hans?" she queried in curiosity.
"What the fuck did you do to me?" he gasped.
They looked at each other, waiting for answers.
"Well?" she said, expectantly.
"Lady asked her question first."
"Stereotypical guess. What did you do to me?" he repeated.
The German moved off to step between a few stacked boxes and produce a chair. "Chair" didn't seem to do it justice for how fancy it looked. The lining of it was purple velvet, the back was high and there was an extendable foot rest for her to raise her feet. He couldn't tell if the German was just very strong, or the chair was as light and portable as it looked. She sat in the chair in a way that looked practiced, as if she knew it was made for her. Placed directly in-front of McKinley, she and began answering his question.
"Call it a little bit of a taste of things to come."
"What the hell do you mean taste? Why can't I say w-?"
"What you want to say? That is simple, I do not want you to say it. Even if you close your eyes and concentrate, I think that name you have come to know so well over the years will fade more to the point where you cannot even begin to know how to pronounce it.
She reveled in the incredulity in his eyes has he closed them and concentrate hard on....he suddenly forgot what he was trying to find. Whatever it was, it on the tip of his memory, and then evaporated into nothing.
"Difficult, practically impossible, yes?"
The 'it' he conceptually knew, but not the details, so he shook his head in defeat. It worried him less that someone of his stature was at a loss for words of any kind, and more how he came to lose simple words with a steel-trap of a mind like his.
"Splendid, then we can move on."
"Move onto what?"
"Our interview," the ebony-skinned woman told him.
"I-what? Interview? You kidnap me in the middle of investigating you to offer an interview, of all things. 'After years of secrecy and living in the shadows,.....uh, the elusive one finally agrees to her first and only exclusive interview, with Frontpiece.' Do I have that right?"
"Minus a few errors, yes. You were certainly not kidnapped, for one. You may not remember what to call me, but you should remember how you came to be here. That limo door was not left open by accident. Once you were noticed, it was time to put the grand chase aside, and finally meet. And also, I would not call this a charity piece for your paper. This is about McKinley. If I wanted a certain publication to interview me, there are plenty better ones that Frontpiece. Time Magazine is more my style."
"Well, as I don't think Time will cover my expenses, you'll have to settle for Frontpiece delivering the story."
The African beauty stood up off her throne, adjusted the glasses on her face as she chuckled to herself.
"Well, there is one important caveat. This story will have a very low readership."
McKinley's eyebrow raised, wondering what she meant by that.
"Look, I know Frontpiece is a much smaller publication and that people think printed news is dying, but-"
"No, you misunderstand," she interrupted. "No one will be reading this story."
He looked at her in confusion and worry, and then at his surroundings, as she came closer to him.
"So, we're going to be recorded, or are we already on some kind of live feed?"
"Neither. This will be just between us. After years of chasing me, wanting to know as much about me as possible, spending long nights scavenging for the merest clues of what I might look like or what I was or am involved in, I have decided to reward your persistence and satiate your obviously-hungry curiosity with answers to all those burning questions you may have conjured up."
"Any and all questions? Full disclosure?"
"Full disclosure," she confirmed.
"And what makes you think I'd keep this to myse-" McKinley stopped short of what he was going to say, and looked ahead at Hans who seemingly hadn't moved a muscle, trying to hide the fact that the German was looking more and more like the Grim Reaper to him. Gentle tapping of her forefinger to his temple broke his concentration and brought him back to looking up at her.
"There is no reason to worry about him. There is no reason to worry, period."
"So....what? Fear is supposed to keep me quiet?"
"There are more interesting ways to produce quiet, like making it so the element that could produce the sound was never there to begin with."
McKinley shook his head, trying to make sense of what she playfully alluded to that didn't make sense to him.
"Stop me if I'm getting this wrong - you expect me to hear every question I have answered truthfully and fully, and then I'll forget said information."
Her smile and gentle nod gave him his answer.
"Fucking how? How do you expect me to forget something like that?"
She gave a pondering, thoughtful look in his direction, touching a fingernail to her lips colored with the same red shade. "What...was that name you used to associate with me?"
McKinley opened his mouth to speak, but he consciously froze, barely catching onto the fact that there was a name he had dubbed her, a name the world would come to know her by if he could get the story out there. Whatever it was, at that point it was just gone.
The reality of her implication shook him deeper than the threat or even guarantee of death, mostly because he didn't understand how this was happening, like the unresolved plot of a bad Twilight Zone episode. In his heart of hearts, he believed the value and measure of his life was his work, and that forgetting was a professional and personal sin. McKinley often couldn't discern the difference between being dead and not being able to bring this story to light.
"Speaking of light," McKinley thought to himself as he noticed the light above and several others in the warehouse seem to flicker simultaneously and take on a strange hum. He looked up to see it highlight the dark beauty above him before it dimmed momentarily. In that moment a feeling crept up his spine, up to his brain, urging it to simulate its own dimming.
"Not the light; the darkness. My secret weapon. No doubt that was one of the big questions plaguing your mind, and I wonder how many questions that little tidbit has answered."
The reporter beneath her helplessly agreed. The revelation exceeded so many theories he thought up over the years, but explained so much. His investigative mind quickly deduced how he came to be that night, so very tempted to approach the open-door limo from his supposedly hidden dark alleyway, the temptation starting to wane as he stepped out into the light, but then loosing all consciousness as he stepped into the pitch black interior of the limo. The need to laugh rose in him for the gall she had to call a super-power like hers 'a little tidbit.' Her anonymity made perfect sense now, if nothing else for the mountain of scientists and other interested parties who would come upon her to dissect and want to harness whatever she had. In his place, a tied-up scientist would be salivating at just the chance to learn about what she was capable of, but a reporter needed more than that.
She looked down at him through her glasses with glee. He looked rather cute to her, watching his naked expression of putting all the facts together, maybe connecting dots that had nothing to do with one another before.
"I would advise against wasting too much time on just that one train of thought. You have other questions to ask, but I am unsure how much time you have to ask them."
"That flickering you saw was the electricity here being set by a special program. From this point on, the lights will begin to slowly dim more and more until they completely die down. And as you may have noticed already, when these lights go dim, so do you."
"How-how long till...?" he spoke in a slight panic.
"Good question," she told him, enjoying the indignant look he gave her from being toyed with. "Hans here set the timing. I asked him to surprise me and he surely did. We could have light left for maybe hours, maybe forty-five minutes, maybe just a few minutes. That precious information you believe is so vital, I cannot begin to imagine how cherished it should be to you. Years of searching for it only to be able to hold onto it fleetingly."
Anger filled his face, his eyes throwing daggers at his pair of captors. For Hans, he held back a bit as he realized the dark beauty maybe manipulating him on some supernatural level as well, and that both of them would happen to be at her mercy. A last-ditch effort sprang from him as he violently shook against his restraints. He was more than willing to suffer through rope burning and whatever could come from crashing to the floor, hopefully breaking the chair he was bound to as well. He closed his eyes to brace himself for the fall, but a pair of hands grasped his shoulders again. He figured it was Hans, but that guess was quickly proven wrong as the woman whispered in his ear.
"Calm. Calm. Calm yourself."
The voice echoed and overlapped in his head, and strangely he felt the calm as immediately as she said it, and his body complied that very second. He went from the movement of a violent, tantrum-throwing troublemaker to an obedient, well-behaved cherub who knew his place. The only part of him that tried to argue was his mind, but the echoes drowned out every thought he tried having against it. He opened his eyes, looking into her guileless ones while his were filled with fear of his inexplicable reality.
"Much better," she whispered into his ear, and a sense of beatitude from obeying her washed over him.
His gaze followed the woman as she returned to her throne, crossing her legs idly, regarding the reporter with a gentle smile. Despite his anger, he caught himself giving her a once-over, wondering how this potential world-class model ever became a kingpin of crime.
"I don't...I mean..how?"
She patiently waited for him to find his words, looking at her watch, subtly reminding him of the unallotted interviewing time. Neither of them knew how it could be, so McKinley took in a deep breath, her jasmine scent still wafting over him from their close proximity a moment ago. Feeling defeated, and hoping he had enough time, he opened with his customary question for every interview or story he's ever done.
"Start from the beginning."
"My, that goes pretty far back for me," she began, realizing it'd been years since she revealed anything detailed about her past. "I was born and raised in Kenya, a happy child from a rather poor, but peaceful village. Unfortunately, the poor part led to the erosion of the peaceful part, as it sometimes happens in the world. Sometime after I was born, fighting began between rebels and the government; it took years for any conflict to reach my part of the country, but once it did, it was not pretty. Surrounding villages reported of soldiers of either side recruiting people against their will, even taking spoils in the form of vulnerable females, of any age."
The Kenyan's expression began to turn sullen, and McKinley watched as she spoke candidly about her past.
"They came across me one night as I headed back to my village, foolishly thinking I would be safe out by myself around sunset, and...I cannot remember running so fast in my life. They saw me before I saw them somehow. To this day, I wonder which soldiers tried to have their way with me that night, but thankfully I never tried to look back to see who they were affiliated with. I hid myself well for a while, but they did not let up their search. The sun had set fully by the time they found me again. They caught me in an open field, held me down and started to rip off my clothes. I screamed for help, and screamed at them to stop. My clearest memory of that night is how I screamed at them in my mind, and felt a connection to them. In that connection, they just stopped starkly. I crawled away, crying and scared out of any wits I had left, but still feeling that connection. Afraid that they would come after me again, I cried for them to run away in my head, and stopped to see them running in the opposite direction of me."
"Jesus," McKinley whispered without thinking.
"You would think it was that, that he descended from Christian heaven just to grant me this one miracle of avoiding a horrible, maybe fatal fate. Maybe he came down instead to give me this power, though I still believe that this was something in me that just manifested itself when I needed it the most."
"So, it's just night-time darkness that does it, or...?"
"My understanding of it up to now is that it depends on someone's perception of dark. Whether it is sunny out or not never makes a big difference for me. For example, if you were to close your eyes for a moment, you might see something surprising."
"If I were to...?"
"You seem skeptical, but I doubt that will impede on your thirst for knowledge. The proof is as simple as shutting those eyelids for a few seconds."
McKinley closed his eyes and mentally counted to ten, expecting to feel some intrusive presence in his head, but nothing changed that he could notice. Chuckling from her direction made him ask
"What's so funny?"
"Your....uh...'frontpiece' is showing."
He peered down to see his fly was opened and his cock was out, harder than he'd ever seen himself. Adrenaline stimulated his cock against his will from the exposure.
"What did you do to me?" he nearly screamed. He closed his eyes again to concentrate on braking his bonds, still a fruitless effort and still affect by the earlier wave of calming, but it scared him to imagine what further embarrassment or torture he might be subjected to. Upon opening his eyes again, he looked down to see his pants as they originally were, zipped up, still containing his genitals that grew a little past half-mast from the shock. It took a minute for him to control his breathing and calmly analyze what happened.
"Was..was that in your mind or your suggestion that did that?"
"Could be a little bit of both."
"And you saw that? You had a connection to me to allow you to see the illusion. Hans wasn't aware; just you and me?"
"Mm-hmm. The way you took to it, looks like you wanted to do more expose than an expose on me."
"Your humor seems very suggestive of someone not of legal age in the state of New York. It's hard to tell from your looks, but as a matter of professional pride, please don't tell me I'm under the captivity of an adolescent."
"Such hyperbole. Also, not very gentleman-like to ask an adult lady her age. You Americans surely do wear your impoliteness on your sleeve."
"I think you're adapting to us remarkably well then," he told her, giving emphasis to the chair he was restrained to.
"But since I promised full disclosure, I will be 35 soon. A decade's difference from you if I remember correctly."
"Pretty young," McKinley spoke in surprise. "For a woman of your reputation, I mean."
She sighed. "I suppose there was bound to be a bit of ageism and sexism there, even from you."
"You seem surprised that the one in charge was a woman, and that she could be so young."
"Well typically, heads of crime organizations or syndicates like yours average age is around 55 statistically. The gender aspect..."
"Is constantly assumed to be a man in-control," she finished.
"Call me old-school for thinking that if you go high enough, you'll always find one man."
"I must deem your old school painfully antiquated. You are just confirming your own bias if you find a man at the top and then end your search there. Even older-school, and a more sensible line of thinking should come from the quote "there is a great woman behind every great man."
"Supporting the great man, I think they meant."
The Kenyan shrugged. "A code word for women in the know. Much like your country's president - a figure-head meant to be the face of leadership, not the brains."
McKinley could've fired back with something for the sake of arguing, but she'd obviously looked him up, and knew she'd have a few opinion pieces he's written on the status of the U.S. presidency and special interests groups would be thrown right back in his face.
"So you discovered this power when you were young, and it probably saved your life. Did you repress those powers out of fear, or did you keep using them, experimenting....I guess that's an apt way of asking," he mumbled the last part.
"More the latter than the former. After my attack, I went home and crawled into bed, avoiding facing my parents. I tried to sleep it off. I never told them what happened, and tried to pretend for the next few days that no such event happened. But I soon became curious enough. I tested it on pets around the village, and on some of the young children that were my age. At night, I made dogs howl in a chorus while boys danced dances that only girls traditionally would. It was fun to use, but I was afraid of people finding out what I could do. No one seemed to catch onto the fact that they had even been manipulated, so I kept my abilities to myself. My parents died in a car accident sometime later, and I was sent to live with grandparents in another village who took care of me into my late teens."
"When more conflict started appearing in their area, we all attempted to flee, but left too late as a rebel patrol raided our village, and hurt both my grandparents. I ran away and was pursued into a dark forest, and used that darkness to my advantage. The ones that chased me returned to my village with orders to stop the other rebels there. The in-fighting among them started while I tried getting my grandparents to safety. A few villagers I knew were killed in the crossfire, and in retrospect, I should have acted to rob the village of any light so everyone would be under my control. I took my grandfather to the closest hospital. They did what they could for him, but we knew he would succumb to his wounds, as bad as they were. The night he died, I blocked all the light I could from his bed and flooded his mind with thoughts of peace and painless silence. He died as comfortably as I could make him."
McKinley looked away from her, not expecting her biography to have a rather tragic origin.
"I'm sorry," he told her.
"I appreciate that. But I made sure someone else was more sorry after that."
That peaked the reporter's morbid curiosity greatly.
"Several nights after the attack on my grandparents village, I spoke to several soldiers I ran into late at night. They were looking for a good time with me, but they had an even better time giving me the information I wanted - information of who instigated hurting my family. A week later I found myself in a warlord's manor, clearly dressed to entice. Every piece of information pointed to him. I took what I knew to get a chance to be alone with him. He touched my leg and smoothly tried to invite me up to his private bedroom. I led him on well enough, he thought I wanted as much as he did. When we got to his room, I tried to turn off the lights, but he stopped me, claiming he wanted to see me as we fucked."
"How did you get out of that?"
"Quick, desperate thinking. I thought about trying to run to shut the light off, but he was in-between me and the switch. Running toward it would make it seem like I was running away, to which men like him become forceful and violent. I watched him carefully and thought about how I could use darkness somehow. I saw him light some incense and candles, and he closed his eyes to take in the scent of them. I wondered if shut eyelids made a difference, and tried using that. The next candle he lit and sniffed, he blew it out before opening his eyes, not even realizing it. When he reached the last candle in the room, I took full control of him, made him come directly to me, making sure his eyelids stayed shut far beyond his control. I mentally whispered over and over to him, unsure of how much was enough. I freely admit the man was handsome, and had he been anyone else, I may have been smitten enough. Instead of going for the light switch like I originally wanted to, I had a devious thought and ran with it."
"And that devious thought was?"
"I pulled his head into my bosom, and kept him there while I worked out giving something like...what do you call it..a brain aneurism."
The shock on McKinley's face was anticipated.
"Yes, I imagine he had the same look, without the wide-open eyes. He struggled in my grip, but I would not let him go. I just imagined some part of his brain suffocating, spasming, and that is exactly what he did, muffled pleading until he breathed his last breath. I laid him down on the bed and watched a trickle of blood flow from his nose."
She noticed her captive audience's face, full of renewed fear. Her M.O. as he knew was rarely about killing, and he wondered about the untold number of deaths that could be attributed directly to her powers. He'd been regaled with dozens of stories of mob hits and some assassinations, but the strange angle, or strange weapon of choice added to this story wasn't easy to take in.
"I will admit I took some joy in what I did, avenging my family, but I feel more than justified for the lives I probably saved from ending his."
"And afterwards, you just walked out?"
"No, the rest of my plan went off without a hitch. Before I left the room, all the power at the manor went out, because I had someone cut off the electricity at a certain time. With everyone exposed to darkness, I reached out to everyone I could. Anyone not a soldier, I commanded them to leave the premises. Anyone that was a soldier, when everyone else left, they were filled with an urge to beat every other soldier around them bloody, to the point of unconsciousness. More retribution for me."
"How did those soldiers fare afterwards, waking up to a melee they inflicted on each other that they couldn't remember, with their boss dead in his own bedroom."
"Never cared. Still do not."
"Ok, so after that how long did you stay in Kenya?"
"Just a few more years. Rumors started popping up after the manor massacre, as some called it. I did not necessarily propagate the rumors, but I did use them to my advantage. My myth stared in my home country, loosely translated to something like a ghost or demon, a whisperer of evil deeds someone once called me."
"You ever take offense to those titles?"
"No. It was from those titles, and watching people react to those titles, that I learned the value of anonymity. Everybody knows you and fears you, but is unaware of how to dispatch you, if they were brave enough to try. Being the 'helpless' gender in my country made for an even better cloak. I could claim, or have someone claim that they represented the myth, wielding influence as subtly as I could. I secured enough funds for me and my grandmother to live comfortably and safely in a place of our choosing. She never asked where the money came from, but I always assumed she knew I had something do with it everything surrounding it."
"Did she ever confront you about it?"
"Never out loud, but not out of fear. Occasionally a stern look from her came about when she heard about some act of humiliation or debauchery I may have caused. But no matter what, I always got a kiss on my forehead before she went to bed; she knew the kinds of conditions we escaped, and how we could be dead and buried if it were not for some intervention. Till the day she died, she always had a way of telling me she loved me and understood, even if I sometimes lacked her approval."
"She was your last living relative?"
"Yes. After she died, I found myself questioning if I really wanted to stay in Kenya. I could have, quite comfortably, but I had always wondered what the rest of the world was like. I was much more confident with my powers by then to make any move I wanted happen."
"So where did you go next?"
"Europe, but I think the more interesting question would be who got me there."
"Ok. Who got you there?"
"Enter a man who went by the name Phillips. Ex-CIA who lost the official ties to his government, but not the skills, contacts, or the expertise. He made his way to Kenya, curious about the tale of the manor massacre. Apparently there was some carelessness on my part with my connection to the myth as he tracked me down while I was still debating where to depart. He was subtle, breaking into my so-called secure home, respectfully acknowledging and admiring my accomplishments, cordially offering me an opportunity. But it was clear how dangerous he was, and how the choice of joining him was an illusion."
"How much did he know of your powers?"
"He theorized, but was only somewhat right. I never fully clued him into what I could do."
"So, he tried to turn you into an asset?"
"I did become an asset for him."
"You mean you let Phillips intimidate you? Why?"
"Refusing was an option, telling him to hit the road and forget about me in a persuasive manner, but he was a prime example of someone who understood the world I planned to venture out into. One where I have an advantage, yet know little of how it operates. In addition to the fact that he found me, at the time I decided to work for him, learning everything I could, feigning being a young country bumpkin who became lucky."
"I bet that translated to him becoming your asset."
"Over time, certainly. He used me much of the time for his own pursuits of acquisitions, taking me all over Europe, sometimes America, China, the Middle East speaking with so many important people that I could barely keep track. No matter what propaganda he spewed about seeking independence and autonomy from the rest of the world, Phillips was in it to become a criminal kingpin of his own, and used me to secure knowledge, intel, and persuade if necessary. Occasionally, he suggested I see a specialist or two who could help understand my powers. I turned him down most times, except once. I indulged him and saw some brain researcher who dealt with abnormalities. The guy liked to blink a lot, like he had something in his eye. I helped him by slowing down how often he succumbed to his habit, letting him rest his eyes and succumb fully. We talked and I got some intel of my own as to what Phillips was after. Not surprisingly, he wanted at least a way to understand my powers, and best a way to control me against my will. Luckily, by then, I was gaining assets of my own within his organization, and the doctor became one of them."
"So what happened to Phillips?"
"For all his savvy and government-learned smarts, the man could be insufferable, 'a real asshole' as men like you would put it at times. Even racist; one night he got more than a little tipsy and made a crack about my skin tone and my powers, eluding to a very...unflattering connection. What followed then, more or less was reconstructive surgery."
"You mean, like, he needed it after what you did to him?"
"His attitude needed reconstruction more, but I gave him a solid hour of feeling reconstructive surgery as if it was happening to his face and only his face. No anesthesia. He could run around, writhe on the ground, move his hands across his face, but could not escape it."
"He spoke of that name nearly every minute of that hour before I stopped. He woke up convinced that he just had a horrible nightmare after a night of hard liquor."
"Even after something that traumatic, he would just easily forget like any other victims of yours?"
"I do not agree with the term 'victims,' but I understand the use of it in his case. And no, I did assist in making sure that his punishment faded from his memory. He knew something bad happened, but could not tell what, and never associated it with me. The alcohol took care of what led up to his experience."
"These illusions you create, they're supposed to be 100% believable?"
"As far as I know, as far as the person experiencing it knows."
"Has it ever manifest itself in reality?"
"In some ways, yes. Phillips did not bleed or anything, but the nerves across his face lit up with the pain he felt, especially when he got a look in the mirror. Your little bout of indecent exposure minutes ago, you must have seen how hard you were, full your testicles look, how you might have orgasmed if a slight breeze hit it. My own eyes could not see what you saw, yet I watched you approach that full arousal slowly, deliciously. If there is such thing as a mind's eye, that is where I saw what you saw, from our connection. And I must retract my earlier statement - for a white man, you seem more than decent."
He kept his eyes on her, waiting to see if her tune would change on her compliment, but also to keep from shutting his eyes in annoyance, not willing to be manipulated any more than he had to. The overhead light flickered a little bit, and it finally came to his attention that there was a sliver of difference in the lighting, just a little bit darker. The bulb above was easier to see as it produced light. Worry filled McKinley again as the endgame still plagued him despite her engrossing origins.
"Midnight is not yet upon us; I would keep your questions going Cinderella."
"Is that supposed to make you Prince Charming?"
"Not a prince, but not even you can deny the charm." She looked point blanked into his eyes, while he indecisively glanced in her direction a few times.
"So did Phillips meet a similar fate to that Kenyan war monger? Having his brain fried or something?"
"Nothing of the sort. A plane crash killed Phillips, not of my doing. Word has it that some from his former agency were looking to get revenge for some things he did to come into power. Had he lived, he would have been my figure-head, the 'pocketed politician' to quote you from an old piece of yours."
It shocked him a bit to find that she wasn't the one to kill him, but something she mentioned suddenly clicked in his head.
"Wait a minute. Five years ago, the blackout in Athens a week before their general election. Was that you?"
She didn't comment on that, but just looked at him as if she was impressed that he connected that dot.
"That really was you!"
"Left to your own devices, every blackout of a major population would be pinned on me in your stories?"
"There's more evidence for why you would be involved than not, for Greece especially. You blew away every political analyst's predictions and got a leader elected whose platform was more international involvement when the masses were screaming for someone to take care of domestic issues. That would make it much easier for someone like you to expand your reach on a legitimate level."
She continued to stay silent, watching him make more connections. Her living was somewhat isolated, and her accomplishments remained unknown out of necessity, but it was nice to see a dedicated fan of hers take in the breadth of what she'd really done.
"What was in Athens that you were after? Influence? Setting up a base of operations for yourself?"
"Truthfully, nothing more than experimentation. I wanted to see how far my influence could reach in an allotted time frame. The blackout lasted for 18 hours, 9 of those were under cover of nightfall. I used everything I had to reach out to as many people as I could. In my mind, it felt like blowing a steady stream of smoke into a hurricane. Feeling the smoke be carried of and expand, my whispers intertwined with those sleeping, dreaming, trying not to trip over things in dark rooms."
"How many people did you reach?"
"I could never tell. The experience was taxing. Apparently it caused me to become comatose for a week and a half. When I came to, I found the experiment a success, but also a limit to my abilities. After a month of recuperation, things went back to normal."
"Did you ever try that kind of stunt again, knowing what it did to you the first time?"
"Yes I did. I was not satisfied that my power would only go that far. Improvements have been made since."
"How would you describe your power?"
"Are you referring to my special powers, or the way I rule?"
"I mean y-both. How do both work?
"For my special powers, from my observations, it is some special ability deep inside my mind that allows me to reach out to others. The darkness, or the absence of light is like a catalyst. When the mind experiences dark through ocular exposure, or when the brain believe it is in darkness maybe, it becomes vulnerable to me. My mind activates the dark, making it work for me. I know I described it with smoke and windy descriptions before, but that was a large-scale connection. Up to a dozen, or especially one-on-one, it is most commonly, most effectively like a mind being saturated by darkness in the form of...tar, I would say. A sweet tar."
"Yes, exactly. It works through all the crevices, and thoughts or commands I had in mind for my target, they think or feel or do as I want them to."
"All your subjects feel the same way?"
"Probably. Most never remember anything has happened to them."
"So the darkness becomes sticky like molasses, yet it dissipates or erodes that easy. That's hard to fathom."
"Describe to me how it felt to be ushered into the limo tonight from your hiding place. No details left out, please."
"I thought I was the interviewer here."
"It was never stated that I would not be asking questions, McKinley."
He looked away from her to remember the alley, and what urged him across the street.
"Hard to say what it was. I was perfectly fine off in the distance, getting a look at what I thought were underlings who'd lead me to the boss. Confusion set in after that when you left the door to the limo open. It...it felt like after a while, I was getting the hint that you, or someone wanted me to come forward."
"So were you, in-fact perfectly fine where you were?"
"I should've gone further down the alley, away from you instead of toward you, yet..."
"Yet?" she echoed.
"I wouldn't call it sweet, but a positive feeling came over me, that I understood the offer, and the reasoning for moving forward got easier to accept. The-" he remember the street light overhead, leading to the limo. "Questioning why came back once I was out of the darkness was easier, but then I just lost everything when I entered."
"As I wanted you to. However, you only felt a modicum of my power there; I was curious whether if I even needed to use it, whether your journalistic passion would push you in the same way."
"It might have."
"For the second part of your question, my power structure, I tend to think of it as an autocracy. Absolute control, no one questions me, for those that even know I exist."
"I always took you for a despot, but I guess a queen ant or bee is a little more apt."
"A very little. If humans, or men could naturally make for drones automatically, I would readily accept such a title. But it is somewhat more complicated than that."
The dark-skinned despot didn't elaborate, but waited to see if he would catch on to the truth of how she ruled.
"How big is your organization?"
"In the thousands, though most of those working under me remain unaware of who their true leader is. You might be surprised how many of them might object to working for an African. It makes my taking them all the sweeter though."
"How can you tell who would be?"
"The connection I have with people skims the surface of their minds, giving small identifiers that can help me discern who is whom, and with that who would feel what."
"So you're some sort of Claudius, or your just hidden in your own ranks?"
"The latter; I never play the role of the fool. Phillips may have still been useful, to this day, if I had learned about his plane crash sooner."
"You would've kept who died in the crash from being reported, and Phillips would live on in our minds as a ruling apparition, ever-present but never seen. And you'd be like a lieutenant or major in his army, giving orders by proxy with no one knowing you really rule."
"'Supporting' a 'great man,' as you once put it."
"Heh. Right, I see your point. So everyone knows Phillips is dead, but you still have some kind of cypher at the top?"
"An unseen one. There are several domicile properties that stay vacant worldwide, assumed to be owned and used by my boss, and sometimes appropriated by his staff. I usually live rather modestly, like a mid-level corporate executive instead of a CEO. Knowing I have the power is enough."
"And were it not for this interview, I would've gone on for years chasing the wrong guy, or person."
"Your chasing would have been indefinite, not just years. Are you not happy to see behind the veil?"
"Only to have another pulled over me soon."
"Better to have seen the truth for a moment in time than to have never known it."
He almost cursed at her, but remembered he was on a time limit, and moved on with his questioning.
"So, with Athens, you control one major city at least."
"At the very least."
"How many...countries do you control?"
"Hans, how many as of now?" She looked back to her assistant.
"Through their leadership, around 20 sovereign nations, and 12 more in the pipeline," he accented voice spoke calmly, as if he was listing inventory for the goods in the warehouse they were in.
"For me, your United States require a different approach," she answered. "City-by-city is a safer way of securing power. Washington is too visible on the world stage, and too many investigators like you running around. That will be my own little pet project, in time. Speaking of pet projects, where did you first hear about my existence?"
McKinley leaned back like he would in the chair in his office when someone asked him a question that got him to reminisce.
"New Orleans. Nothing highly incriminating, just word-on-the-street whispers. A lot of them. It was what they said about you that got me interested. You sounded like a Moriarty-type villain; smart, dangerous, far-reaching connections, super-dependent on the shadows to work." He stopped to chuckle at how her super-dependence might as well be a literal statement. "All I heard got me to start a file on you, and just watch it grow over the years."
"That really is a talkative town."
"All of them are in my experience."
She nodded her head in agreement.
"All of those leaders you took, or acquired, or persuaded or whatever, were they all taken the same way, from afar? Were some up-close and personal?"
"The strategies for how varied. In my earlier years of empowerment, it would have been purely based on how best to ensure my hold was strong and went undetected. But once it could become as easy as lounging in a hotel suite in the same city as a subject and sniping minds to make temporary changes from afar, I decided to change tactics a bit. That was in-part to test whether some strategies would work, and to break up the monotony."
"Well, for example, there is a small motel deep within Harlem. The kind of seedy place where you would not expect respectable, prestigious, white, sometimes international and multicultural politicians to ever show their faces, at night."
"And yet, they did."
"Several had. And before you ask, the true purpose of that arrangement was purely experimental. Having the influence did not hurt in the slightest, but it was more about myself than them."
The despot rose from her seat and approached McKinley with a deliberate, unbidden strut. Her hand rested itself on his shoulder. He didn't exactly recoil on horror, but the apprehension was screaming from his expression and body language. He tried not to breathe so heavily with her so close. As bad as the turpentine was, it helped remind him of how shitty things were for him there; her scent could be downright pheromonal, and could confuse the circumstances.
"All this wondering and explaining of how I take them," her hand became a finger that trailed up his neck, behind his ear, "I think it might be fun for you to have a more...first-hand account." After tracing an eyebrow, her whole hand quickly grasped his face, covering his eyes. He leaned back to begin struggling against, but the darkness claimed him quickly and the repeated command of calming quelled any further attempt to fight. The sharp, intake of breath he took to prepare to fight surprised him as the base of her wrist laid near his nose, imbued with jasmine perfume.
McKinley felt himself comfortably standing from a chair he couldn't readily remember, and walking out of the darkness onto the street of a fairly busy neighborhood at night. From some of the street names, he immediately recognized it as Harlem. Unlike some other caucasians he knew, McKinley didn't fear places like Harlem as a rule, but the kind of neighborhood he walked through didn't exactly seem safe at first glance. The problem for him was, out of the darkness he emerged from, an invisible haze accompanied him and left his mind seeped in something made of lethargy. It wasn't complete lethargy though, as the haze absconded with his body and took him in a specific path forward. People passed by him, ignorant of him or the lost look on his face. It was a few block of walking until his body turned right, toward a building with a yellow-lit sign brandishing "Motel." He stepped in the narrow hallway to the front desk, an older black man regarded him with an attitude. McKinley was left with some semblance of consciousness, as he was surprised to hear his own voice asking for the 'basement suite,' and shocked to find the attendant's face change and look how he felt. Blankly, the older man handed him a key, and McKinley walked deeper into the Harlem motel.
Not to far from the lobby, he came across a maintenance door, away from the regular rooms. It was locked, but he used the key, and was granted access. He walked down a stairway toward an area that looked very dirty, yet had no odor to it. At the bottom, he expected a boiler room, unkempt, dirty and grimy. He found none of that, and without thinking, he accessed another door that opened up to a room that looked like it belonged in the Four Seasons, comparatively. It wasn't large, but it was pristine as could be. Nothing but candlelight lit the room; jasmine-scented candles in a perfect circle. In the center of the room was a presidential-looking king-size bed, and sitting on top of it was the despot herself. Instead of the green dress, or sexy lingerie, she wore a black business suit. He chuckled in his own head, amused at this is how she did business. She seemed amused too from her smile. She walked over to greet her guest, but faded from sight a few steps before reaching McKinley. He took in a deep breath of jasmine as she somehow grasped him from behind.
"Welcome, 'Senator' McKinley. I am so glad you decided to join me tonight."
He could hear it in her voice, how she loved playing up the idea that he was just another powerful toy to add to her growing toy chest.
"I know it is not exactly the Waldorf-Astoria, but a few key touches have made this locale into something special I believe. Lovely furnishings, ensured privacy, amenities unavailable elsewhere, and a numerable, faithful staff ready to fulfill your every wish and desire."
Though she looked like the motel's five-star concierge, his mental chuckling continued as it was truly subjective who the staff was, and whose every wish and desire was being fulfilled. Submissive sensations welling up in other parts of his body confirmed who was supposed to be feeling what.
"Can you guess what men go through in a room like this? It is not always as you might think. My dark connection can show me things about those I take. Men of 'power,' in particular' can have some of the most amusing, or vile thoughts a human being is capable of. As a leader myself, I do not doubt it takes a special kind of person to deal with the masses, but it is unnerving how many seek power to satisfy their own perverted yearnings. Depending on the level of vile I sense of them, they would likely be introduced to an old folklore known from my village. It is meant to scare children mainly, but the reality could horrify adults alike, the folklore being a cluster of demonic entities grasping you dragging you to that bed you see, ripping your clothes and sometimes your body to pieces with sharp claws. It would also revisit transgressions on to the victim that they have inflicted in their lifetime. Raped some? Experience that violation yourself, magnified. Constantly belittling people for your own pleasure? Feel hands snatching away any sense of self-confidence and remind you of how worthless and undeserving you are, over and over again. I am sure you get the idea by now."
McKinley's hairline and brow became covered with forming droplets of sweat, for how he realized he had entered what amounted to the devil's bedchamber. He tried to think of his life, and what he'd done to deserve what was coming.
"These men all experience the cluster's attentions for any number of minutes, and afterwards, subconsciously know that obedience to my will prevents that cluster from ever coming into their lives again. However, if I happen to encounter what you would call a good-hearted politician, as rare as they can be, I modify that folklore with certain instructions..."
He felt the despot turn him around so that they were staring into each other's eyes. The candle light flashed playfully against her lenses while her dark eyes twinkled. His body became stark and nearly rigid in her hold, and stayed that way as she pushed his body back with a finger to his forehead. He would've landed on the floor were it not for hands catching him. A collection of hands, hands he blankly wondered who'd caught him. The notion of demonic hands ripping his being to shreds, even if an illusion, was immediately dispelled as these hands felt soft, gentle, smooth, resembling a loving touch. McKinley crowd-surfed on these hands rubbing all over his body, all the way to the bed where he was laid down and continuously, sensually assaulted.
He was disrobed slowly, shirt button-by-shirt button, belt unbuckled, pants tantalizingly unzipped; it was hard to tell when he was finally naked because he felt bare and exposed from the moment he was held. Hands gripped his wrists and ankles, pinning them down while more hands and fingers went to work on his spread-eagle positioned body. They found all his ticklish points as he laughed and cried in pleasure. They found points that he never considered to be particularly stimulating, possibly because of the whispers telling him how good everything was feeling. Expert fingers gave him a shiatsu massage between his back and the covers of the bed. His chest was stroked, grasped, his nipples rolled between fingers and squeezed. Hands holding his face and his forehead rotated his head in tandem clockwise until he couldn't tell up from down or left from right. McKinley mindless drooled in pleasure, mouthing gibberish. Every deep breath he took was laced with jasmine. The lightest touches were in his genitals, as if the spectral signatures of the hands played with his testicles and stroked his shaft with the constant pace of the beginning of a handjob.
All the while the whispers speaking of the caveat to all this pleasure. "Obey." "Just obey." "This is what obedience gets you." "You know who to obey." "You know what she wants." "You will give her what she wants." "Every touch, every whisper, a taste of heaven." "These hands are mine; what they touch is mine." "Think of your reward for doing as I say."
Lost in everything, McKinley did in-fact come into a fantasy within a fantasy, an alternate life as a senator. On the Senate floor, he felt his will being tested between what he wanted, which was in conflict with what she wanted. He could not place who 'she' was or could've been. He could not have imagined who she could be in secret. An aid, another senator, another senator's aid? "None of the above," his mind knew; she was above him, somehow that much was clear. The rest was clouded in her will, wanting to do her bidding.
The sensation of a pair fingers rested on his thigh whether he stood up or sat down. Starting at the center of his thigh, every though he had or word he said determined whether the pair took a step forward or back. He fought her intrusive influence and the fingers took a step back toward his knee, making a circular motion that felt nice, but merely nice. Any move against his own inclination toward her bidding meant a step forward, inching closer to his vulnerability. Senator McKinley couldn't believe of the possibility of getting an invisible handjob right on the senate floor. Clinton's impeachment would be nothing compared to what could end up live on C-Span.
But those concerns felt small and insignificant; the rewards for obedience were clear. Somehow his suit jacked hid his erection well, firmly trapped between his stomach and the waist of his pants. Circles the fingers made were more creative and brazen; he got the sense they wanted to do more to him, but it was his decision. Those whispers he first heard from the basement suite returned and put most sounds his colleagues made in the background. The combined efforts distracted him enough to let his mind slip, and relent to lean in her direction. He said what he needed to say, and the fingers took happy steps to his erection, the voice that whispered "obey" to him sounded sweeter, happy to hear that he was obeying; pleasing this one constituent over the rest became the world to him. He got lost in saying whatever he needed to say as his pants were unzipped, and two fingers became two hands to stroke and play with him.
Cooperating became orgasmic. Other senators he'd fought on issues were more than happy to have them on his side, thinking he'd seen the light, but he was close to seeing stars instead. His mouth was on auto-pilot; his betrayal of his own will came easy to satisfying his own encouraged lust, something 'reporter McKinley' always assumed of men like 'Senator McKinley'. The words came pouring out in a stream as steady as the soft, vigorous motions in his pants. A soft spot in-between his testicles was teased with the circles his left felt before, and the senator nearly went cross-eyed, small moans hidden amongst yelling.
Needless-to-say, he soon relented right there, joining an initiative and a chorus of voices that benefited her in some way. McKinley smiled as he resigned to her, fooling himself into believing what he did was right in his heart. His mind was another story, as it fast-forwarded to later that night, slipping under the covers to sleep, and being revisited by those hands and voices again, finishing off the job they started. They didn't always come to him, but he would do anything just for the chance to be revisited. If Senator McKinley happened to have a spouse or partner in bed, the woman present would also feel his affections driven to please her, unaware of what really drove him. The partner would inadvertently inherit a sex-slave, whether she knew it or not.
"See what I mean?" a faint echo asked him. The echo grew stronger as he was sucked out of his senator fantasy, and then sucked out of the 'basement suite' where he lay back to the warehouse where he sat in captivity again.
"See what I mean, McKinley?" Her question was now clear as a bell, as his mind slowly came to terms with what her molasses did to him. The impossibility of her rule was replaced with the ardent faith of a religious disciple. The one difference being unable to tell the world of the God, well Goddess, roaming around in it.
He was silent for several minutes, letting the molasses erode from his mind, trying to let the erection shrink and return needed blood flow back to his brain. The gap of speaking was his answer, and she pressed no further on it.
"How was t-"
"Please," he interrupted "just...give me a minute."
She looked down at his tented pants, toying with the idea of bringing the illusion of the fingers on his leg back, but she mercifully sided on giving him the few minutes he needed to come off his high.
"Ok," he told her, his breathing and blood flow normal again.
"So how did you come up with the name Y-" she spoke absently, stopping herself just short triggering his memory.
McKinley almost inquired about what she hesitated to say, but brought his thoughts to the file on her, It had the thickness of a phone book even though the pages weren't that thin. He denied it when people who knew him say he didn't need the file as it was all in his head, but still tied to a chair, he easily, mentally perusing through it, stopping at a note he made two years ago.
"You have Italy in your pocket, and you used the Bartelucci family to get it, didn't you?"
"And you are the only reporter I have looked into to make such a wild claim, that it was the work of another clandestine outfit, but be 100% correct."
"Son of a bitch," McKinley muttered, thinking of how much money from bets his industry-colleagues owed him for the things he could now confirm. He was practically a rich man now, but thanks to circumstances would never be able to collect.
"The old man was supposed to die, but not of natural causes. After his last trial, someone, one of many possible suspects was going to take him out. But it never happened. And then he took to his home country where he supposedly made more political connections using the ones he already had, like he was running for office there. How many men did you have to dissuade from acting on their primal need of vengeance?"
She glanced at Hans again.
"27," was the number he came up with.
"Who did the dissuading more, him or you?" he asked the Kenyan.
"Half-and-half. Some men took a substantial beating, some men got a good night's sleep and woke with clearer heads. Anger clutters up the mind so much, I find."
The despot cocked her head to the side a bit. "Do you think me an evil person, McKinley?"
"I'm tempted to cite the tenets of absolute power with you. Evil....I'll have a clearer picture once the interview is over."
"To be honest, I meant more 'did you think of me as evil before tonight?'"
"If antagonistic and manipulative count as evil for you, then indeed."
"They do not. Neither of those words are directly synonymous with evil."
"But I still don't know everything you're linked to, or have done yet. For example, Pete Winslow, what did you do to him?"
He didn't receive a reply right away. Instead she looked away from her interviewer for a few minutes, her mouth covering her face the way a modest aristocrat would, obviously trying to keep her giggling amusement to herself. Glancing back at his serious reaction, she gave that up for a hearty laugh. Even Hans in the background produced a smile for the first time on his face.
"I'm sorry, I have no idea who that is."
His eyes went wide at the gall she displayed.
"Peter Winslow, my goddamn informant. One of the few men on this planet who ever acknowledged you ever existed. One of the most courageous too, to be willing to bring you into the light. And one who you seem to be expressing a lot of joy for someone you never heard of."
"My apologies, but I think you have more to be confused about. Pete Winslow does not exist. Never has."
"Yes he does," he looked at her sternly. "Or did. He'd been vetted in every way possible."
"In every way afforded to you. His employers paid good money for those credentials. His real name was Anton Voslov. As far as my affairs, a more accurate title for your 'Mr. Winslow' is an employee of a competitor."
"Forgive the skepticism, but why the hell should I believe that?"
"You cannot exactly deny my claim. My words have been nothing but truthful and forthcoming tonight."
"I can't exactly confirm it either thanks to you. You still haven't answered what you did to him. He's been missing for months, hell, years now."
"Sources get cold feet all the time; you should know that McKinley. That is exactly what I could have told you, but I will get to what really happened to Voslov, once I give a little context to it."
"So, closed casket. You said is real name was Anton Voslov."
"Slavery ring. He might have a brand-new name by now."
The color flushed from his face, imagining picturing what sounded like a fate worse than death, or worse than the demonic 'folklore' she could've subjected him to.
"That is one of the ventures his employers, something he often supervised when he was not feeding you false and/or incriminating information about me here. There is a large hall in Sofia, Bulgaria, often serving for parties and fashion shows. Beneath it lies the biggest human trafficking and slavery ring in the capital, like you see in some movies. Certainly the kind of place unfortunate girls, like I once was, could end up myself if the fates were less than kind. A spy of mine was there to observe my competitors dealings, an affluent competitor I might add, and found that underground establishment."
"I don't know how you can imply that you don't compete in slavery when you can take the minds of an entire city and countless others against their will as you see fit."
"Key differences are the I have little need of most civilians for very long, and if those in my power experience anything, it is at worst confusion, and at best the opposite of what the enslaved felt there. Scores of young girls from across the poorer parts of the globe. Maybe some from my country, or surrounding ones, all of them filled with the typical fear and despair expected of those having to endure such a fate."
"So every year, I like to devote my time to some pro bono charity work. Two years ago, around the time your 'Pete Winslow' went missing, I paid a special visit to Sofia. My competitors knew about as much about me as you did, despite planting spies, and they too would have never expected one of the modeling girls to boldly infiltrate them. I modeled for them for a little while, and then excused myself once my duties were over to access a private elevator downstairs. The guards were more than happy to find their happy, helpful place once I told them to close their eyes for a moment and imagine it. Five new assistants and myself made it down to witness the bidding on and hearing faint sounds of non-consensual sexual acts. The lighting was already low enough where I could start to affect everyone in small doses. Those physically enslaved received faint mental imagery of their last genuinely happy moments which pacified them; all the men found themselves detached from themselves until they were nearly zombies. Once one of my assistants found the power for the basement level, my control was fully established."
"When the lights returned to their original lumination, all the young girls, and one or two young boys found themselves acting on their base emotions. Some cried as they approached the exit, knowing that their prayers were answered and that they would be exiting their hell soon. Others...had become filled with burning anger, imagining the retribution delivered onto their captors if given the chance. With their chains gone and the threat of violence from uncooperative actions gone, they were allowed to act on their impulses. I take it back, the chains remained; the men removed them and bound themselves. There was a rack on the wall filled with all sorts of toys, ranging from sexual to borderline lethal. Every tool was used on the men. Businessmen, moguls, sheiks, men of power became stars of snuff films. I made sure those who wanted to scream for the various pain they were in did, just for the satisfaction of the inflictors. I was glad I stayed near the exit with the others, for all the blood and whatever other fluids there spread around that dungeon."
"When it was all over, all of the previously imprisoned came with me, shuffled into vans waiting outside the building. Most were returned to their countries and families, or someplace safe enough for them. Some who were old enough work for me now, in some of my more legitimate sectors, helping to support their family and themselves. Some have live-in slaves in their domiciles that were former oppressors of any sort, programmed to serve in every sort. I get the feeling some would like more involvement in my organization. I will appreciate the gratitude if they ask, but I cannot say whether their wish will be granted. If you still had concerns about Voslov, he is currently in the thrall of some female somewhere, just like the rest of them. Before we all left though, I took him from the basement with me, making sure he was mostly untouched. The last presentation of the fashion show was supposed to be some nocturnal, low-lit show, something a French designer wanted to debut there. He was more than happy to let me take over presenting, and once the lights dimmed, everyone was ecstatic to see me walk out on the runway, adorned in this dress and some elegant jewelry, particularly the chain attached to the collar around Voslov's neck. My little poodle barked and heeled on command, and people laughed at him and swooned at me. All but one camera man had set their cameras down and just enjoyed the show. I actually have those pictures I did allow to be taken in fact. Hans,"
The German approached his Mistress, producing a tablet that he handed to her. She pulled up pictures of herself and his former informant. He was indeed naked, and according to his pictures spent most of the time staring up at her like a goddess. Some of the faces of the audience showed the same expressions. She surely carried herself like a goddess there, poised and provocative, blessing her audience with the gift of her beauty. One pic was of her pressing her heel into his ass, as if pressing his body flat to the floor. McKinley noticed a few bruises on his ass, and imagined it would've hurt to have her foot there, but it belied the smile on his face. There were others of Voslov being a foot stool, a steed for her to ride, a seat, and a begging supplicant, all the while the audience was clapping, standing and sitting. McKinley couldn't tell, but Voslov was probably smiling for one image of him underneath her dress, obviously giving head. The audience looked like they were trying to get onto the runway for their chance at his luck.
"The last picture lacks the clarity of the rest, but my last act with Voslov was throwing him onto the floor and riding his face for all he was worth. He had some worth, fortunately for him."
McKinley had no trouble picturing the despot forcefully degrading him like that, making him love it and making everyone else wish they were him. A thought flashed through his head where McKinley was in Voslov's place, and it didn't disgust him like he thought it would. He slowly started to realize that he actually enjoyed the images with each reveal, with each graphic description. He kept his legs together to try to hide another growing erection. The tablet lowered for the subject of his long-time investigation to give the same smoldering smile that was in almost every picture from the fashion show. Her face got closer somehow. He didn't see her get off her throne, just that same face approach him. He saw how beautiful she looked especially in the dimmed light. Something about the way it gleamed off her skin so subtly, off her lips, lips that got closer and closer to him, growing more tantalizing as they closed the distance. She stopped just an inch before his face. The somewhat putrid warehouse scents disappeared again as her aroma graced his nose and added to her captivating presence. All he seemed aware of for several seconds was the visage of a woman interested in him, something he wasn't always used to, especially not with dangerous women. He appealed more to the ones looking for safe bets, ones who could tolerate workaholics for a little while.
"Envious of him?" was all she said. The way it rolled off her accented tongue made produced some tingling in his body.
He tried to right himself to give an appropriate answer, but before he could, he blinked to see the image of her fade to the point where she was back in her seat, like she'd never left, her smile even brighter. It occurred to him again for the second time just how dim everything was getting.
"Starting to feel it?"
"The ease of slipping into my power. Much easier than before."
"This is your doing."
"In part. Activating a small amount of darkness, I can leave my power hanging in the air, an open invitation to anyone in the dark to see what they want, or maybe who they want," she raised an eyebrow suggestively.
"Your delusional, you know that?"
"No, delusional is something more like this," she gestured to Hans who made a mad dash at McKinley, the blonde's face as aggressive as the reporter had seen it up to this point. He had something in his hand, whatever it was, it looked black and metal. It was mere seconds before Hans closed the distance and struck him across his face. McKinley reeled in his seat as he was dramatically toppled and sent to the floor. McKinley felt everything, struggling against his bonds on the floor, struggling with how pleasant and good that felt. The hit he took and his collision with the floor resembled being smacked with a feather and falling onto a cushy water bed. It didn't register with him that he was supposed to feel pain. His fear and negativity evaporated the moment he was struck, and it took him more than a minute to reason with the fact that the sensations were all wrong. From his place on the floor, past Hans' legs, he could see her face, still smiling. He smiled dreamily back, unable to hide the burgeoning arousal. A sudden movement from above signaled Hans was preparing to strike him again, and he couldn't explain how he welcomed it.
The hit never came, or if it did, he never felt it. Maybe by the second hit would've blissed him out to the point of not feeling it. His mind felt it unfortunate for a second. A part of his consciousness reminded him that what happened could be another illusion. He opened his eyes to find everything was the same before Hans attacked him. Something liquid freely trailed down his face in a single droplet. He figured blood at first, but it could've been sweat for all he knew. It almost didn't matter as everything here was subjective.
The despot's impish smile was the brightest thing in the warehouse.
"Now that you can blame me for."
"I can have Hans accommodate you there, literally, if you want to continue that verbal spat."
Hans looked still and ready. McKinley wondered if he would even be aware of what he'd be ordered to do. The tone of her voice suggested that whatever act forced on him would be something fit for a masochist, which he wasn't. She looked up to the bulb that looked like it was about to burn out.
"Your time is almost up McKinley. I hope you are almost done with your questions."
"I would've asked if you had any regrets, anything you'd do over. But other than missing the chance of having Phillips be your figure-head, I don't think you regret one thing you've done with your life."
"What is there to regret? Without this power I have, I imagine life would amount to little more than a poor, maybe tolerable life in Kenya, if I somehow managed to survive every conflict my country endured. Fate, if there really is such a thing, has been generous to me; opportunities to see the world, become my own entrepreneur, and do some good in the world most charities are unable to measure up to. It is rather fulfilling for me."
"I'm happy for you," he nearly interrupted, sarcastically, "but how the hell am I supposed to feel about this? I'm just a small inconvenience to you in the scheme of things. Other people get to forget you and go on with their lives. This is like the culmination of my adult life's work, and tomorrow you're telling me it all goes away."
"I never forced you to become Ahab, chasing me with your Moby Dick the world over."
He had something to say, but stopped himself as a nagging question finally rose to the surface.
"All these years of you maintaining secrecy, being aware of my investigation - why did it take you this long to come after me, to do something about me?"
She happily responded to that. "The world is a much more interesting place with people like you in it. Yes, I value secrecy for the life I lead, but it can be a lonely life, with very few people to share yourself with. No one has ever gotten so close to knowing about me. You never knew too many details that could constitute a huge threat to me, but I was always interested to see how much you might find out on your own. I know it was based more on your career, originally, but believe it or not, it was nice to know that there was someone out there who wanted to know the real me, putting so much time and effort into it."
"What do you mean 'originally'?"
"For years, I have daydreamed about your pursuit of me, would it change if you knew a few more key details about me. The fact that I was female, what I looked like, would your pursuit become more intensified."
"Don't flatter yourself," was what he wanted to say, but her words made him wonder as well.
"Up to now you have sacrificed two marriages, and however many love interests working, tracking me down. No need to be coy."
"You really think your gender mattered to me for what I was after?"
"I am not judging which way you might swing, just noting where your real passion lies," she joked.
"Journalistic prestige and exposing international criminals."
"I wonder which one of those gets you harder. I bet the latter, but with the caveat of you exposing yourself to them, on the first date no less."
It was becoming second nature to smile at that signature look of indignation he gave her.
"Could not help myself. But I am hard-pressed to remember having a social-engagement better than this, where I get to be myself with someone hanging on my every word, and not just because I make them."
"I'm guessing you prefer blind dates," he gestured to the lack of lighting. Very little was visible now, despite him keeping his slowly diminishing wits. It was amazing how good she looked in the dark, how she glistened in it somehow.
"For the record, tonight was not completely set in stone. It was possible that your evening might have ended in much more frustration then now."
"How? Seriously, what supposed to be more frustrating than this?"
"My trip here did take you into account. And your nose for leads is impressive. I gave you several possibilities to follow, including one where you might get a glimpse of me in the flesh, yet you chose to follow low-level lackeys instead."
"The lackeys was a surer bet leading to you, but I didn't know how sure. You've thrown too many tips out there, like chasing rainbows, with no prize at the end of any of them. A solid tip was worth more to me that night."
"And look where it got you; right where you wanted to be."
"'Be careful what I wish for,' yeah. Where I wanted to be was at Franklin Financial downtown, catching your or one of your drudges making an under-the-table, hell, under-the-basement deal I could pin to your organization or something close to it. One step closer to you."
"Oh I know that. Months of planning went into that deal."
"You could probably put the molasses to people and get what you want in seconds. Why not get it that way?"
"One lesson to learn as an often legitimate businesswoman is that you cannot rely on simply one tool or method for every victory. Diversification is paramount. And as I stated earlier, using my powers all the time that way would become boring."
"I would've almost preferred to be approached by Hans and bribed to drop the investigation, if I knew this would be an alternative."
"Even if I were to entertain the idea of buying you off, there is no resolving the fact that you will not be bought, or your number might as well be incalculable if you could. This is a good fiscal year for me, one of my best on-record, off-the-record. Incoming profits on the rise, and several other things moving forward. Things that resemble nocturnal plants, requiring darkness and silence instead of the light and noise you use to bring attention to things. So I decided to extend my good tidings to, well by now, I think I can call you a long-time acquaintance."
"'Good tidings,' a.k.a., the end of my career."
"Spare me the drama. There are plenty of other stories to chase besides me. It would probably read like a cheap, fictional tabloid anyway, trying to explain to readers the kind of power I have. And I know you hate to leave out details, no matter how radical."
"If my story would be so unbelievable, what's the harm in letting me print it?"
"IF you could get it to print. I can only imagine the sequence of events to be something like the following: you write down everything revealed to you tonight. You submit it to your editor who will ask for verifiable confirmation which you cannot get. You will argue the truth, she will argue the integrity of the paper, you will say 'print it or I walk.' Whether or not your employment is terminated, everything ends up on an electronic blog, making you eligible for conspiracy theorist of the year for whomever gives out such ridiculous awards. If someone out there believed you, you would potentially hurt both of us, yourself for sure, when the people it would matter most to, you and myself, already know what there is to know."
She sighed deeply as she laid out the exact chronological outcome he knew would happen, and watched him remain undeterred by it.
"But of course, that would not stop you from trying. Whether you want to believe it or not, this is practically saving your career."
"And tomorrow, when I wake up, I'm just supposed to happily accept ten years of my life wasted, down the drain? No validation, nothing to show for it?"
"Despite my powers, I do not think I can totally erase what you learn from your mind. It is not a waste if you have eventually found what you are looking for. You will be at peace with knowing what you know, even if you cannot explain why."
"Tell me what good am I if I keep this story to myself?"
"Plenty of good. Your existence is not invalidated because of this; you are still a damn-fine reporter, a good man, handsome and passionate. There is plenty of life left to experience, even some heights you never thought you could reach."
"For the love of Christ, please drop the 'saving your true affections for me' flirting bullshit. You can at least treat your captive with respect and leave the fake sweet-talking out of this."
All his investigative instincts made it clear to him that she was getting a charge out of this. Several things probably created it, like having a long-time pursuer at her mercy, freely telling her story which seemed to bring her some joy. If he believed what she'd told him, possibly just having him present greatly contributed. McKinley never thought himself as much to look at. Mildly handsome at best, with deep bags under his eyes from years of late nights upon late nights. It didn't mean much that he'd been married a few times, as he'd seen people marry for a plethora of reasons, often in spite of looks.
"I never said that I saved myself for you, or anyone. When it is appropriate to, I go where my female libido takes me, and it has taken me to several polyamorous relations that I love. All of my non-short-term lovers know, or have known some of what you know, and most are simply attracted to me because of how I look and how well I can get along with them. You, on the other hand, you would not feel satisfied until you knew everything there was to know about me, which I find rather romantic. Treating you like a mafia wife, on a need-to-know basis, is unnecessary. You were fascinated by me in the way few dare to be, to start. All the darker parts of my life, pun-intended. Compound that with your reaction to what I actually look like, the reaction you vainly try to hide, and that makes for an interesting concoction of mutual interest. And while I am not into older men most of the time, you wear those early patches of grey well."
"We're not star-crossed lovers. What I know of you now changes nothing."
"I disagree. Had you known years ago what you know now, the way you live with your work, one or two prevailing fantasies would inevitably occupy your thoughts. It would be completely natural, always having me on your mind, in it. And how hot those fantasies would burn if you knew they were reciprocated by me. Hotter than any real sexual encounter prior to this."
She stood up from her throne, surrounded in some sort of ethereal glow. It was the kind of thing he'd only seen with lovers and wives who he bedded in his own bedroom. Most of his apartment faced the direction of the moon rising, and with the curtains open, sometimes he'd see a girl become some kind of nocturnal goddess. It was a look the Kenyan personified and owned now. He couldn't take his eyes off her, and was having a hard time reminding himself where this was going.
"I...I think.." he struggled over his words, feeling her power in the air. It was like a dark cloud above his head, falling slowly to become a fog. His thoughts betrayed him as he wondered why succumbing to the molasses seeping into every crevice of his brain was such a terrible thing.
"Commendable that you still can. But just think of how wonderful it will be to let that go."
"I don't...want this."
"Oh come now. I have seen that one-bedroom palace where you often forget to spend your nights falling asleep. That bedroom that has more intimacy with dust than you in the bed. I have literally been there once when you thought you were chasing me abroad, wondering how a workaholic lives. But what a life, sacrificing other women and having children for little old me. If nothing else, you know now that you are acknowledged, and that is always how it has been, even from the start. All those articles and attempted drafts hinting at me, so close to bringing me to light, closer than you ever suspected sometimes. Pining away for me with ardent fervor; I hope you never lied to yourself in what you may have truly sought. Every single word written about me would have been therapeutic in way, uncorking your feelings and expressing your lust not for the truth, but for me, to embrace me. You are so afraid of the alternative, the true isolation, not being close to your true love."
"And you are afraid of going into that lonely night, nothing but darkness. But you know better now, yes? You were never alone there. Maybe one night your alone in bed, nothing but your pursuits to keep you warm at night. Something wakes you from a deep sleep, and you find yourself awake in the middle of the night, only a street light flashing in your window to give your surroundings any definition. You do not know what woke you up, and you do not know when you will go back to sleep. You are left with this void that you cannot describe, let alone fill. But you try anyway, letting your thoughts go in random directions like your dreams do. A funny thought comes to you of what I might be doing in that exact moment. Where am I? What am I doing? Who am I doing it too? Questions you are in such a rush to answer that you never stop to think about the beauty of the questions themselves, letting your imagination ponder the possibilities."
It never occurred to him that Hans disappeared from sight. The distraction of feeling familiar hands cover his shoulders from behind confounded him. Her voice narrated to him somewhere inside his head while her form was silent, but her actions speaking volumes. The tone of that narration was not only sensually-charged, but one that tried to rationalize and reason with him; every word spoken was a collective step toward convincing him beyond doubting his own primal desires. He saw the dark hands and red nails holding him, and he saw them across the room from where she still stood. The boxes around them, the entire warehouse or the sense of the chair he was in vanished. It wasn't long before he realized how she was glowing like that. But he could not remember any point in time when his bedroom carried the heady air of jasmine and sexual musk.
"You have no reason to leave that bedroom, just hanging in a sleepy limbo. And what luck that you found no reason to leave; if you had left, you would not feel a pair of arms wrapping around your own, whispering in a tone as sleepy as you feel, moaning 'come back to bed.' You know who that is; you know there is nothing more important in your life than her. She pulls you back to the bed, and you do not offer her, me, any resistance, because....well, you are a smart boy. You know this is more or less what you have always wanted. You should be mindful enough to hear that there is more than sleep in my whispers, the way I tug at your ears playfully with my teeth. You hear dirty words come into that ear, in a bedroom voice you never knew could be so compelling. So much talking of fucking, sucking, even eating me out; something you never did for your exes. I would not need to face you to find that helpless smile grow from the erotic seeds I plant in your mind."
"It is not like you can compare a Pulitzer prize to me. You get the prestige, however it lifelessly sits on your shelf, and nothing more. Me though, I am worth more in curves than that award would be if it was made of gold, and the only lifeless you should be concerned with is you when I am done blowing your mind. Once I pull you back and we fall on that bed, I show you the meaning of living. My weight on top of you, those chaste kisses and touches that keep you from being lifeless. It is amazing how much better we look when in the dark like that, how good we feel. We all come to crave the darkness sometimes, and it is always there to greet us with open arms."
McKinley felt assaulted by these strange suggestions that took on a life of their own. Some part of his mind could not forget that she was his captor, but Stockholm syndrome set in deeply as for the second time he felt himself free of his bonds, but now in a familiar place, able to run if he wanted to. But all he really wanted to do was freely fall in the open arms of his captor. After time spent with her being completely candid with him, a strange feeling of trust grew for her. He could trust anything she told him, even suggestive things that his old self would've laughed off. But everything began to change when she graciously pulled the veil of secrecy off of his eyes, and then shut it back to where just the two of them and the truth remained.
"Mmmmm, I can feel what that beautiful mind of yours feels. So happy to see your true love. Feeling me while thinking of all the missed opportunities, all the passionate, physical expressions you've wanted to feel from me. You can feel them McKinley. You shall feel them, right now. We have fallen onto the bed. I am on top of you now, just the way you like it, deep, dark, loving eyes looking down at you, my body basking, glowing in the outside light. You know what is coming, but you can already feel the possibilities as they happen. This is no cluster of demons or angelic hands summoned at my whim; this is all the work of your star-crossed lover, authentic touches and attention that drive you deeper into my embrace. Hovering above you, and yet you can still feel me nibbling at your ear, hearing the whispers. My hands hold your arms down, and yet you can also feel them trailing down your chest, searching for places that you respond to. Your erection so close to my pleasure center, but you can already feel a mouth there, teasing with a playful tongue. Your own tongue and mouth waters, because it has a taste of something salty and beautiful, but it also years for the kiss my lips will give you as our faces inch closer. Feel it all McKinley; you deserve it after all this time. Do not deny yourself any longer. Give in to everything, let us become one tonight."
At some point deep into that night, they did merge in some significant way. McKinley couldn't tell the difference in what was happening. She was certainly in his head, and felt her all around him. A dozen sexual encounters happened at once, every erogenous zone he had, and a few newly-discovered, lit his body internally like a Christmas tree. Tears of ecstasy streamed down his face as she tweaked his nipples, French-kissed him, whispered how close he was to cumming in his ears. His tongue somehow dueled with hers while lapping at the folds of her clit. Every amount of sex he had before combined didn't measure up to what she shared with him now. McKinley consciously remembered cumming once, and her once soon after, but she nor the stimulation stopped, and much sooner than expected he was hard and eager all over again, not losing an ounce of vigor. With each new or repeated height he reached, all and anything pertaining to his pursuit of her was compressed, shrunken, compartmentalized, and stored into parts of his brain. Her darkness systematically neutered his need to expose her, but preserved the passion for her, creating an inexplicable form of mutual love. It was built upon the genuine affection between them. She caressed his face while he sat in his chair, letting him experience the dimmest version of Elysium imaginable.
* * *
Two weeks after the interview, McKinley had indeed forgotten about many of the details that his interviewee wanted him to. Even if he didn't, he would've had trouble acting on his foremost instincts of reporting his findings to anyone; comas have a way of keeping people silent. Days after the interview, McKinley had been found in his apartment, unresponsive to the rest of the world. Paramedics and doctors could not easily classify the comatose state he was in, and were endlessly perplexed for how he was often at half-mast or even fully erect at times. None of the medical professionals or anyone that knew him would've ever believed his state to be voluntary, as his eyes were closed for the duration, and in that darkness, the memories and experiences the beautiful Kenyan despot gave him lingered and repeated. Nurses who opened his eyes to check for responsiveness actually found it a struggle to keep them open.
Eventually, he was transferred to a specialist group to see if they could provide what his doctors couldn't. His new caretaker looked over him with a smile on her face, shocked and ecstatic at how McKinley had clutched onto that darkness like he couldn't live without it. Her mind's eye, via the connection, revealed what seemed like an extended vacation in bed with her, coupled together in the afterglow, sleeping together, waking each other for more reamings. She'd never felt such mental stamina.
As she knew his condition was voluntary, she hoped he would wake on his own someday. His former captor considered waking him sooner than he wanted, before his mental state be reduced knowing only her and lust for her. He could have use to her outside of the bedroom, ways of helping his true love that he'd desperately be inclined to give, as long as it meant he could stay in her power. She kissed his forehead, giggling as she watched the actual physical contact give way to a new fantasy, his erection tenting the bed sheets.
"'The Yeti.' Of all the names, all the mythical creatures you could have chosen for me. Choosing the utter antithesis of your lover in-fact; I would chastise you for that, if the name were any less amusing. So enamored with receiving sexual satisfaction with an ape-like snow creature."
She laughed at the thought of inserting an actual yeti into his dreams, wondering if such a nightmare would bring him instantly back to full consciousness. She would need a video camera present for that. Before leaving his room, she whispered the answer to a question she didn't permit him to ask in their first meeting, something that would help define his existence for years to come.
"Try 'Yolanda,' McKinley..."