You, and Each of You

An Exercise in Shameless Self-Indulgence

By Brantley Thompson Elkins


It could be you.

It's Friday afternoon at the office, and you've got the jitters. There's talk about downsizing. Nobody's said anything about you, but that could be a bad sign. 

Your girl's already lost her job. She worked for one of those accounting firms that's in trouble, You know the story. She was depressed the last time you saw her. Not much fun to be with. But then, you weren't much fun to be with either. 

You'd been watching the news, and that'd already been giving you the jitters. The war. You hope the president knows what he's doing, because if he doesn't... Could turn into a disaster like the Little Big Horn or, barring that, just a long bloody mess.

What scares you the most is that, even if it's a walkover, it won't do us any good in the long run. It won't win us any friends, in the Muslim world or anywhere else. And if we find and neutralize weapons of mass destruction, it's not as if Iraq's the only country in the world that hates us enough to develop them. Hell, Pakistan's shaky; it could switch sides, and it has nukes already.

Nobody else at the office seems particularly worried. They figure, hey, he hit us, we hit him, end of story. We're number one. And go on to talk about the world series. The Yankees were number one just a little while ago, but that's ancient history to them. They don't think about ancient history, or even modern history. Let alone what Marx called the dead weight of history.

So you go back to work on that report. You reach for some reference material and knock over a cup of Coke you've been nursing. You grab for it with one hand; while pushing the keyboard out of the way with the other You aren't quite sure what exactly happens next; maybe you hit the wrong key, or maybe it's a software glitch; but suddenly your screen is displaying the home page for 

You've never thought about computer dating. Anyway, you've already got somebody. Maybe not for long, though. She's been talking about moving back to the other coast, living with her folks while looking for another job. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, they say, but you aren't so sure. Fonder for somebody else is more like it. 

You feel guilty for even thinking about it, but you decide to check out the site when you get home. But when you start doing a search of the available women, you just begin to get depressed again.

There must be thousands of profiles at, even for your age bracket and for locations within at least a reasonable driving distance. But after a while, they all seem to sound alike. "I am very positive, very optimistic," or "I have a dancer's body," or "I love to travel/cook/walk my dog," or "My friends tell me I am smart, sexy and vivacious." That kind of thing.

You haven't created a profile of your own yet, and the web site makes that both easy and difficult. It's easy enough to fill in your age bracket, height and weight, hair and eye color, place of residence, occupational group and the like. But the form won't let you rank your favorite kinds of music, or movies, or TV shows. "Spiritual but not religious" will do for the religion box. But the only options for political preference are "liberal," "conservative" and "middle of the road."

They give you more leeway create a personal message describing yourself. You aren't in the mood for laying out a bunch of bullshit about what a great guy you are. Anyway, do you really have that much to brag about, objectively speaking.

So you write about the movies that make you laugh or cry. You write about how your favorite music makes your hair stand on end. You write about how lines from favorite stories are always running through your head. You write about your favorite people and favorite places. You write about your love for the rich heritage of of human culture, and of how you cannot fathom how the same species that produced Shakespeare or Beethoven could bring forth Hitler or Stalin. You agonize over how ugly the world is, your sadness at the thought of how beautiful it might be if only people could give up their obsession with pointless hatreds, if only they could escape the dead weight of history.

As for what you want in a match, you write only: "Solace."

You couldn't have calculated better to discourage a response. And for weeks, none comes. The only message you get is from your girl, who confirms her plans to move to the other side of the country. As for you and her, she says, you're a really nice guy. It's been fun, but.... 

Yeah, "But." Well, at least you know where you stand. She didn't leave you hanging. Then one morning you find an e-mail from It reads only: 

"We too know the dead weight of history. And long for solace." 

When you check out her profile, you discover that Strangerintown offers the only the bare minimum of personal information. She's 20-30, lives somewhere in the United States, is 5-11, slender build, blonde hair, blue eyes. But no photo. Most of lines about personal characteristics and preferences are filled in, "I'll tell you later." Her only personal message is, "I'm like no one else here, or anyone you've ever met. Take a chance." As for her preference in a match, only, "A man who's willing to take a chance." 

A true eccentric. Or off her nut. Maybe both. And what's with this "We too?" Is she so alienated that she doesn't even think of herself as part of the human race?


So you take a chance. You begin to correspond with Strangerintown. You’re tentative at first, but then you begin pouring your heart out, telling her things you’d never tell your friends, your family, even your girlfriend. 

You keep this up, even though she isn’t really responding in kind. "I’ve been there," she’ll tell you, without saying what happened to her there or how it relates to anything that’s happened to you here. She praises you for your insights, without offering any of her own; yet you sense that there are profound depths beneath the calm surface of her words. 

Your mystery woman seems to be your only escape from the dark events of the news and the dark thoughts they inspire. Suicide bombers, serial snipers, gangs of children who commit rape and murder without remorse or any real awareness of what they are doing – only that it seems right to them, at least for the moment, in the eyes of their peers. You’re reminded of something Charles Dickens wrote, more than 150 years ago, in Nicholas Nickleby:

Thus, cases of injustice, and oppression, and tyranny, and the most extravagant bigotry, are in constant occurrence among us every day. It is the custom to trumpet forth much wonder and astonishment at the chief actors therein setting at defiance so completely the opinion of the world; but there is no greater fallacy; it is precisely because they do consult the opinion of their own little world that such things take place at all, and strike the great world dumb with amazement.

Too many little worlds these days. Little worlds of racists, terrorists, youth gangs – corporate and political gangs, for that matter. Little worlds becoming big worlds, like cancers on the body and soul of humanity. The great world is losing its capacity to be struck dumb with amazement. 

"We are losing the great world," you e-mail strangerintown. She doesn’t know what you’re talking about. So you tell her.

"We’ve got to meet," she responds. "Get away someplace, just the two of us, for a few days together. How about this weekend?"

Just like that. Not dinner and a movie. A whole weekend. As if she wanted…

And just like that, you’re thinking: where? You don’t like resorts; anyway, with all the uncertainty about your own job, you’re nervous about spending that much. But you don’t have any friends you can borrow an apartment from. And you can’t just take her to some cheap motel. Then you remember.

You have this friend at the office. She’s the office manager. She’s good at her job and she’s really good to look at. She really knows how to dress, too; elegant and sexy, but never slutty. You hardly ever notice how other women dress. You used to hope she’d become more than a friend, but she’s been through two or three other guys since you’ve known her. If something were going to happen between you, it would have by now.

Anyway, that’s not what you’re after now. You’re remembering her telling, just a few weeks ago, about this weekend getaway she took upstate with her current boyfriend. Some cabin way out in the woods, miles away from anywhere else. Your heart gave a flutter as she described how romantic it was.

Can she give you the owner’s number, you ask her the next day, She can. You call the guy. Wonder of wonders, the cabin is indeed available this weekend, and at a reasonable rate. You can’t wait to tell strangerintown.


You drive up to the cabin that Friday, following the directions your office friend wrote out for you. There's no other car there; apparently your date is late. But then she steps out the cabin door. You can't believe your eyes as she walks down the path to meet you. She's incredibly beautiful, to die for if ever a woman were.

She's dressed casually: jeans, a sweater, hiking shoes. As advertised, she appears to be in her 20's, with blonde hair and blue eyes. She hadn't mentioned the pale honey color of her skin. But that blonde hair and those blue eyes and that pale honey flesh are like Platonic archetypes, of which any you have ever seen before are but pale reflections. 

Her jeans fit her like a glove, revealing legs that seem to go on forever. Her sweater isn't that tight as sweaters go, but her magnificent breasts press against the fabric, the imprint of her nipples clearly showing her bralessness. You stand there transfixed, your mouth hanging open.

Finally you find words. "How did you....?"

"I flew in," she says with a slight smirk.

You aren't aware of any airport nearby, but then you aren't familiar with the area. There are small private airports in unlikely places, after all; maybe she caught a puddle jumper to one and hired a taxi from there. So you accept her explanation without comment.

"I'm..." you begin.

"No names," she says. "Remember?"

Is she a celebrity, seeking momentary escape from fame, from the pursuit of the paparazzi? But surely if she were a movie star or a supermodel, you'd have seen her somewhere before. And if you had, you'd never forget. No, you don't know who she is. Not a chance.

You don't know what she is, either. You don't even know that you don't know. But that's about to change in dramatic fashion. Without warning. One moment she's shaking hands with you, her grip remarkably firm, telling you to convey her thanks to your office friend for recommending the cabin. It's really wonderful, she says; come see for yourself. The next moment....

What happens next doesn't make any sense. You can't make sense of it to this day. You've never met a Velorian before. Even if you had, you wouldn’t have any idea what exhibitionists Velorians can be, especially when it comes to their strength and invulnerability. But that much you can make sense of, once you've experienced it. 

What you can't make any sense of are the circumstances. Are Vels somehow accident-prone? Do they attract bad luck? Maybe they think it's good luck, as long as it gives them a chance to show off, but that begs the question. If you knew anything about the Elders, you might think they were manipulating reality from afar to set up a chain of calamitous happenstance and coincidence. But you've never even heard of the Elders.

All you know is that the two of you are walking back up to the cabin when suddenly a lion bounds out of the woods. It turns out later that it's escaped from a circus, but neither the owners nor the police ever figure out how; the trainer insists that its cage was securely locked. It was found open, but with no sign of tampering.

With a roar that would make MGM's Leo envious, the beast leaps straight for your companion, ignoring you totally even though you are standing right next to her. You stand there paralyzed for a moment, then turn to stare in helpless terror – terror that is about to change to awe....

The lion has borne down the blonde goddess through sheer momentum. It is tearing at her face with its jaws, raking her chest with its claws. She doesn't have a chance, you think for a few seconds. Neither do you. You expect to see gushing blood and torn flesh. You see neither. 

Instead you hear her giggling with delight as she cradles the lion’s head, lifting it from her face. There isn't a mark on her; even her golden hair is hardly mussed. The beast struggles in vain to escape her grip, which seems at once firm and gentle; there is no sign that she's choking it.

Even more remarkably, she lets the lion continue to have its way with her chest. As its claws tear her sweater to shreds, her breasts are exposed. The lion claws them again and again, leaving neither a bruise nor a scratch. The only effect of its frustrated attack is that her nipples have become erect. You've never seen such breasts before, you've never seen such nipples before. 

Her giggles turn now to joyous laughter. She's actually taking pleasure in the lion's attempts to maul her. When she finally forces it from her chest, it is only to direct its attentions further down her invulnerable body. Forced to obey her promptings, the beast turns its attention to her crotch, ripping through the tough denim of her jeans to expose her cunt, which is dripping with desire. The scent of honey and wildflowers fills the air. 

The lion suddenly seems mesmerized; its anger spent. She lets go now, yet its only move is to back a little and lower its head to lap her juices: the greatest of cats is lying on her, eating pussy as contentedly as a cow cropping the grass. She has a huge clit, and as the beast licks it she gasps with pleasure. Her gasps turn to screams as she comes. 

You stand there speechlessly, trying not to believe what you're seeing. But seeing is believing, isn't it? Unless you've dreaming. It must be a wet dream, in that case; your cock is as hard as a rock, and oozing cum. You've never dreamed about anything this kinky before. Not that you can remember. Only, you rarely remember your dreams. Maybe you've gone insane, maybe you're in some sort of fugue.

It's a persistent dream, or a persistent fugue, or whatever. But all you can think of is that you perversely wish you were the lion, having your way – or would it really be her way? – with that incredible body. The very thought pushes you over the edge; moaning softly, you come in your pants. She doesn't seem to notice; she’s petting the lion now. It's actually purring in response, and seems as tame as a house cat. As she strokes the beast's mane and pelt, she turns to you.

"I used to work as a lion tamer," she says with a straight face, as if this were a perfectly rational explanation. She looks you in the eyes, then winks, and then bursts into laughter. Her gaze shifts downward, and you blush. You came so hard you're sure there must be a wet spot there. "It's all right," she assures you. "You'll get your turn. Turns Returns. Many happy returns." 

Your cock is beginning to rise again. Your conscious mind is focused on just one thing. But your subconscious has been busy, sorting through thousands of bits of memory, searching for connections, finally making the one that should have been obvious from the start.

"You must be... but she's..."

"Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated," she says. "But I prefer it that way..."

You wait for more, but she abruptly changes the subject.

"We'd better put in a call about MGM," says, still stroking the lion. "I've got a cell phone in the cabin. Better, ah... bring me a change of clothes from my bag, too."


The state police show up with the circus people, who take the lion in hand. It didn't cause any trouble, the two of you assure them. Just wandered up to the cabin, lay down, and took a snooze. You could use a snooze yourself, you think; driving a couple of hundred miles and everything that's happened since have taken more out of you than you realized until just now.

"That didn’t go badly," your companion remarks.

"Right," you respond sarcastically. "First you almost make me shit in my pants. Then you make me come in my pants."

"I meant with me and the lion."

"I could see. You get off on that kind of thing."

"Well, it’s not like I planned on it. What I meant was… where I come from, there’s no love lost on cats. We have… certain enemies. They’re bad enough, but they’ve made common cause with our worst enemies. And they look very much like cats. We grow up hating them but, as you know, I’ve lived here for… some time. I’ve seen cats all the time. Become desensitized, you’d say. But I wasn’t sure until today…"

"That instinct wouldn’t take over." 

"Exactly. And I was taking joy in having overcome my childhood conditioning – among other things, obviously. But it wasn’t fair to you, was it? You didn’t know yet. Well, I owe you dinner, at least. And then…"

The cabin is of rough-cut lumber, but well joined and mortared and roofed to keep out the wind and the rain. It is simply furnished and equipped: a pine table and some chairs, a plain but comfortable double bed, a chest of drawers, a wood-burning stove, pots and pans, a small sink. No phone, no electricity, just an oil lamp. 

She was thoughtful enough to bring in some groceries. Fly them in. Whatever. Not just a take-out pizza, either. There may not be a lot of things you can do on a stovetop, but stir fry’s one of them. Shrimp stir fry with white wine? Well, why not? Anyway, it looks and tastes delicious. She looks delicious, too; and right now this rustic cabin seems the most romantic place in the world. Only... 

She's not the least fatigued, but she senses that you are as you sit together on the edge of the bed after dinner. You try to stifle a yawn, and that confirms it.

"You Terrans!" she exclaims. "Well, sleep if you must, but at least let me give you a preview of things to come first. No need to worry; I'll do all the work this time. But I have to be dressed for the occasion."

With that, she strips to the buff. Standing in the flickering light of the oil lamp, she is la dream come to life. As you pull down your own pants, you feel your cock come to life. For a second, it sticks against the dried cum in your jockeys, but you quickly remove those as well.

She kneels by the bed, takes your cock in her hand and begins to caress it gently, you can't believe how gently. It feels so good you almost come right there. But she tightens her grip just enough to stop it. Still holding you, she takes the head in her mouth, swirls her tongue around it, sucks it like a lollipop, all the while loosening and tightening her grip again and again to bring you to the edge and back. You cry, you moan, you try to buck, but she won't let you. Then, finally, she relaxes her grip, sucks you greedily, and you explode in her mouth.

"I don't want a man with good taste," she giggles after draining every drop, draining more cum than you ever thought you had. "I want a man who tastes good." She takes you in her arms then, holds you close to her, and you drift off to sleep.


You’re having a wonderful dream. You’re in a meadow somewhere, in the bright sunshine. You’re lying on your back, and this naked blonde goddess is fucking you. The golden sun bathes her golden body. The birds sing a pretty song, and there’s music in the air.

For a moment you think: We’re right out in the open; what if someone comes along? You decide you don’t care. Let them look. Let them see how lucky you are. She’s so incredibly beautiful she could have any man she wants. Any man on Earth. And she’s a Vel. No man on Earth could force her, nor could she be beholden to any man on Earth for anything.

Yet this fabulous creature actually wants you. She’s moaning with pleasure as she rides your cock. How could you even get inside her? She’s invulnerable, right? Never mind; you thrill to the sight of her tight cunt engulfing your manhood, the sight and smell of her fragrant juices soaking your crotch as she moves up and down. You glance up, and see that not only are her nipples gloriously erect but that her breasts themselves have swollen.

She leans forward, inviting you to have your way with them. You squeeze them tentatively, but she covers your hands with her own and makes you squeeze them hard. Really hard. The fleshy mounds are as smooth and soft as silk, on the surface. But beneath the surface… And even that silky smooth skin, you know, is completely invulnerable; the lion’s talons yesterday couldn’t even scratch it.

So you go wild with her, biting and chewing her nipple and breast flesh as hard as you can. She gasps and screams, rides your cock faster and harder. You begin to buck, trying to force your cock deeper into her cunt, as if that were possible, You gasp and scream, too, as you come together. 

And then wake up to find it’s all been true. In real life you haven’t come yet, and you’re lying in bed in the cabin instead of in an open meadow. In the morning light that streams through the window, you can see that the Velorian goddess isn’t completely naked; she’s wearing some sort of gold necklace. But she really is fucking you, just as in your dream. You know what she wants, too; you dreamed it. You fuck back as hard as you can, you make a play of trying to rend and tear her breasts. Your mutual orgasms crash over you like waves on a stormy shore..

"I couldn’t resist," she says afterwards. "You had such a dream hard-on. Or maybe a piss hard on." 

Maybe both, you realize. You haven’t been paying attention to the needs of nature as your cock has begun to wilt. "Oh, shit!" you exclaim, as you lose control of your bladder. You leap to your feet, but you’ve already sprayed her. You grab hold of your cock to stop it. You’ve never been so embarrassed in your life. Only she reacts as if it’s no big deal. 

"Some bad guy tried hydrofluoric acid on me once," she said. "A little piss isn’t going to hurt."

You run outside to relieve yourself. When you return, she’s still sitting there. She giggles at your embarrassment. You’re going to have to wash the sheets, you see, and air out the mattress. Still too flustered to say anything, you motion for her to rise, strip the sheets, carry them outside, then trundle the mattress out after them. You come back in, still at a loss for words, wondering what to do next. 

Then the thought hits you. You run to the sink, fill a pan with water, grab some soap and a kitchen sponge. "Sit," you tell her, indicating one of the chairs.

You soak the sponge in soap and water, and begin to lovingly wash the area where your piss hit her: first her belly, then her thighs, then her intimate center. You haven’t actually gotten such a close look at her cunt before, but it’s as beautiful as the rest of her, from her labia to her clit, which stiffens under your ministrations. As you rinse her off, it protrudes invitingly.

It’s an invitation you can’t resist, and you owe her big after last night and this morning. You set the pan and the soap and the sponge aside. You kneel before her, as if in prayer, and begin to nuzzle her crotch, to drink your fill of her nectar, to lick that hardened nubbin. She’s taking short breaths, now. Her clit’s as invulnerable as her breasts, you know, so you bite down on it as hard as you can, and keep on biting, while pressing your hands against her ass cheeks to try to hold her in place as she squirms with pleasure, then screams with release.

"Mmmm, that was a good comeback," she smiles. "Ready for breakfast?"

As you sit down to eat, you ask her about the necklace. She explains. You’re in awe of what she’s done for you, just for you….


After breakfast, after rinsing the sheets in a nearby stream, after putting the aired-out mattress back, you decide to go for a hike. The country behind the cabin is wooded and hilly, but without a great deal of underbrush: the forest is largely pine, and much of the ground is carpeted with needles. 

It’s a perfect day, hardly a cloud in the sky. The air is crisp but not chilly; as you climb into the hills, you begin to develop a sweat. She matches her pace with yours, although you know she could walk a lot faster – run, for that matter, even fly without tiring. Again, you wonder why she has chosen to favor you: you’re hardly so vain as to think that you’re the best Earth has to offer; and what about men of her own kind?

You turn, you’re about to ask, but she seems lost in thought just now, her body on automatic pilot. Is something troubling her? It can’t be that embarrassing scene this morning. No, it has to do with her own life, her true life, whatever that has been since she withdrew from humanity. What does a superwoman do with her days, you wonder. Has she been back home?. Is something wrong there? Or is it something here that she can’t or won’t talk about?

"We too know the dead weight of history," she wrote in her first e-mail. Their history or ours? Maybe both. Her kind and yours obviously share a common origin, and the divergence must have been recent in evolutionary terms – no more than, say, 50,000 years ago, when modern men displaced the Neanderthals, their last close competitors. You know she’s from a planet called Velor, but nothing more; you have no idea how a branch of humanity reached there.

You reach an open area, overgrown with shrubs and with a scattering of fallen boulders; beyond it a cliff, perhaps a hundred feet tall. It seems bare on top; the view should be spectacular. But the way around it looks difficult, even treacherous. Still, you’re game to try it, and begin to set out for the steep slope to the right when your companion takes your hand firmly but gently. Her somber mood seems to have left her.

"This looks like a job for—"

"You’re not going to build a ramp, I hope. What would the Sierra Club think?"

"Of course not, silly," she laughs. "Grab hold."

She turns the other way, facing the cliff. You’ve never flown before, but you get the idea. You reach around, grab hold of her by the chest. That spectacular chest.

"Up, up and away," she says. She’s in no hurry, she drifts upwards slowly, even revolves slowly so that you can get a panoramic view over her shoulder as she makes her way up the cliff face. How does she control direction, you wonder; how does she manage to rise vertically for a hundred feet, then make a 90 degree turn to drift horizontally and make a perfect landing on top of the cliff? 

The view is beautiful beyond hope. You must be able to see 15 miles. There’s a large lake in the distance, and beyond it a town, and beyond that a small mountain.. The shadows of a few small clouds drift across blur of the forest, a patchwork of green and autumn colors. Here you can forget all the troubles of the world, put all pain and ugliness out of mind.

Or can you? There is something else closer at hand, off to the right. A plume of smoke. Too big for a campfire. Could it be a home? The beginning of a forest fire? You know that she must have seen it, too, even before you turn towards her.

"I’m retired," she says. "Surely you must have figured that out by now." 


"No buts."

"But anyone else—"

"I’m not anyone else."

"We could at least get a fix on the location. Phone it in."

She hesitates.

"Well, if you won’t go…"

You start off to the right, looking for a way down the cliff. 

"You’ll never make it. Never make it in time."

Of course not. But you keep on walking. She comes after you.

"All right," she says. "Only to locate it and phone it in."

You clasp you arms around her again, and she flies you towards the fire. You’re actually thinking more of the fire than of her breasts this time.


It’s worse than you thought. Not only is the house on fire, but there’s some kind of gun battle raging around. She hovers at a safe distance, screened by treetops, but close enough that you can both see it isn’t a police raid. 

You hate to remind her, but your arms are getting tired. Anyway, you’ve seen all you’re going to see without exposing yourselves. So she doesn’t mind going to ground. The question is what to do next. 

"This is what we do next," she says, dialing 911. She’s able to give directions by landmarks, even though she doesn’t know the names of the roads. If the county dispatcher sees anything strange in this, he isn’t saying. Anyhow, the cops and the volunteer fire brigade and the rescue squad are on their way. But it will take time.

"The people in the house," you say.

"For all we know, they’re the bad guys. And I can’t risk exposure now, even for the good guys."


"People think I’m dead, remember? It’s better that they keep on thinking so." 

"But innocent people could be dying."

"Innocent people die every day. They died by the millions, by the hundreds of millions, before my time here. History is full of wrongs that have never been righted, that never can be righted. What do you expect of me?"

"To do what any human would do." 

"Not what any human would do. Only what a superhuman would do. Rush out there and take their bullets in plain sight. Dive into the flames and rescue whoever’s inside. That’s what you want to see, isn’t it? It’s what everyone wants to see." 

Maybe she’s got you there. But that’s not the point; you sense that she’s trying to hide her own true feelings here. Think, damn it! Give her a reason to do what her soul must be telling her to do as a fellow human being, for all her mask of cynical indifference, for any or all of the reasons she may have for holding back. 

"Perhaps a diversion," you say. "Draw their fire without letting them see you. That way, the people inside could escape the fire. And if they’re the bad guys, they aren’t going to get very far. The police will be here soon."

"We can’t divert all of them. I count three in front, only one in the back. He’s the closest in, because the woods come nearer the back door. Let’s work him. I lead him off, you get to the door, see if there’s anyone right behind it. If there is, let them out. But don’t go in."

"Good idea," you say. Together, you work your way around to the back of the back. A man in fatigues with a scruffy beard is crouched at the edge of the trees, firing his rifle just often enough to keep anyone inside pinned down. Your superwoman positions herself to his left, about 50 feet way, motions you to cut around to the right. When you’ve reached your position, you squat.

She picks a pebble off the ground, chucks it at the shooter. She has good aim, hits him square on the shoulder. He jumps up, spins around, looks to see who’s out there. He can see someone in the trees, pulls off a round. Maybe he scored a hit, maybe he didn’t. He looks back towards the house, and another pebble hits him. That’s it; he forgets what he’s supposed to be doing, charges off into the woods.

You hear him firing, but that’s not your concern. You rush to the rear door, the house concealing you from the gunmen on the other side, just as it conceals what’s happening with the other gunmen. You pull the door open. Through the smoke you can see that it’s a kitchen.

"Anyone in hear," you ask – just loudly enough, you hope, to be heard inside but not outside. There are small voices, coughing, crying. You can’t see just where. 

To hell with what she said. You crawl inside, below the smoke level, find two children huddled under the sink. The flames haven’t reached there, although they’re coming through the door to the rest of the house. You make your way over to them, take them by the hands. They cringe, huddle closer to the wall. They’re obviously paralyzed with terror. Do you try to drag them by main force? Think of an easier way.

"You’d better come right now, or you’re going to get a spanking," you tell them in an authoritative voice. That does the trick. You lead them outside; by this time, you’re coughing, but it’s not bad. You breath in the fresh air. So do the children. That’s the ticket.

It’s only a moment later that your friend reappears, carrying the rifle. There are a few bullet holes in her cowboy shirt, but she’s none the worse for wear. Obviously. The children look up at her curiously, but with no understanding. "Are you friends of Mommy’s?" they ask.

Uh, oh. 

Your friend kneels. "Where’s Mommy?". 

"Inside," one of them answers.

No time to waste. She hands you the rifle. 

"Fire into the air," she tells you, then dives into the flames. 

You do your part, make the gunmen out front think their buddy’s still in action. Your friend returns moments later, her clothes mostly burned off, but carrying a limp figure. The mother’s suffered some bad burns, but she’s still breathing. She’ll need medical help, but you can’t give it. Even your companion can’t do that.

Just then, you hear sirens in the distance. The cavalry’s on the way. 

"You stay with your mommy," your friend tells the children. "The doctors will be here soon."

"Who are you?" one of the children asks your friend.

You cut in before she can answer: "An angel."

The state police have arrived. The cops will make short work of the gunmen out front, and it won’t take the paramedics long after that to find the mother and children. But you wait at the edge of the trees, just to make sure the children don’t wander off into the line of fire. They huddle next to their mother.

You both work your way further in, around to the side a bit, using trees for cover. When you see one of the troopers coming around the side of the house, it’s time to make yourselves scarce. But not on foot. You take hold of your friend in what has by now become a familiar position. She weaves her way through the trees quickly but skillfully, never hitting a branch, never making a sound. Once at a safe distance, she heads back for the cabin.

"What happened to Fidel?" you ask her.

"Stumbled. Hit a tree and knocked himself out."


"You shouldn’t have gone in there," she chides you. "It was brave, but it was foolhardy."

"It wasn’t the least bit brave," you tell her. "There was plenty of time. Even at that, if I’d thought about it, I’d probably have chickened out. I’ve seen stories about people getting killed that way. Just acting by instinct."

"Sometimes our instincts are better than our reason."

"And more often they’re not. Read up on the history of lynching."

"I have."

She looks distressed again. She also looks a mess. Soot in her hair, on her face, all over her half-naked body; on her chest some gray smudges – from the bullets, obviously. And yet somehow she’s more alluring than ever. You take her in your arms, hold her tight, kiss her on the lips. She responds in kind.

Strange that you haven’t done it before. You’ve had intercourse, oral sex, yet not this. You’ve read somewhere that kissing is the one thing prostitutes won’t do with their johns – they consider it more intimate than sex. They may be right, you think, as your lips and tongues explore each other. You gaze into each other’s eyes every time you come up for air; that too is an intimate rush.

You break for a moment. She shucks what’s left of her clothes, leads you back inside the cabin, seats you on the bed. "No, don’t lie down," she says. She puts on her gold necklace, pulls down your pants, then your underpants, climbs up on your lap and impales herself on your cock while putting her arms around you and her lips to yours.

Oh, God, this is too much. Hugging and kissing and fucking all at the same time. Like nothing you’ve ever seen in a porn film. Better. To feel her lips and tongue against yours, her breasts against your chest, the velvet vise of her cunt around your cock. The lingering smell of smoke combined with the honey and wildflower scent of her pheromones is erotic beyond belief. 

You embrace her as the flames must have in that blazing house where she saved that woman. She’s so beautiful and so strong and so good. You can’t stand it for more than a few moments; you’ve just got to come inside this goddess you’re holding in your arms so tightly and loving so intensely. Instinct takes over, and not only in what you do, but in what you say as you explode.

"I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you…"

Her cunt tightens at your words, she screams your name as she comes. Later, you realize that she must have cheated if she knows that. But only later. For now, all you can think of is that you’ve died and gone to Heaven; that she is Heaven itself. All the Heaven you could ever want. You collapse on the bed together, just holding each other, feeling each other’s warmth, savoring each other’s presence. 

Later, much later, you decide you’d better find out if there’s been any fallout from your good deeds for the day. The two of you listen to the news on your car radio, there being none inside. The gist of it is that the mother had left her abusive husband and taken the children with her. The husband had lost custody in court, been jailed several days for cursing the judge.

Well, a real man can’t take that lying down, can he? He knew she had a gun at her parents’ old summer place, so naturally he couldn’t face her alone. So he brought a few of his buddies to teach her a lesson. Only she’d been prepared; gotten a gun herself. So the husband had one of his brave comrades fashion a Molotov cocktail and throw it against the front door; It didn’t seem to matter to him if she died from it; the children either, for that matter.

The cops couldn’t figure out how the mother got out of the house, what with the children babbling about an angel. Maybe they’d been watching that show on TV. Fidel thought there’d been somebody else out in the woods, and there were a few tracks in the vicinity. Maybe the hiker who called 911, maybe a hunter from before the whole thing went down. Maybe both. The tracks don’t seem to lead anywhere.

"We’re safe," she says. And you start making out in the car, like a coupe of horny teenagers on a lover’s lane.

If only you could always feel this safe.


Later, after she cleans up, you make supper together in the cabin; share it with each other, even wash the dishes together, as if you were a married couple, You feel as if you have found your true self in her. But what can you be to her? You know you have to ask the most important question. 

"Not that I'm complaining," you say. "But why me?"

"A cat may look at a queen," she jests.

"It was a king. In the English proverb, at least"

"Do I look like a king?" she purrs. "Things change."

"Whatever. The point is, the cat doesn’t expect to be named Prime Minister, let alone be invited into the royal bed."

"There was that cat yesterday. In a manner of speaking."

"Come on. The real reason."

"Because you can understand, without knowing too much."

"Understand what? I can't quite follow you."

"Yes you can. Imagine that you're a doctor. But not just a doctor. The doctor. The only one for an entire country. And that country is stricken with a terrible plague. Thousands of people are dying every day. You're immune yourself; you're in no danger. But you have only so much medicine and only so much time. What do you do?"

"Try to help those I can reach. Try not to go insane."

"That's what it's like to be one of us, on a world like this. When I lived among you openly, I tried to live up to the image and expectations you had of me. Even though that violated our Prime Directive. I may be superhuman, but I'm also human. We come of human stock, after all. I wanted to be of help. I wanted to save lives, I wanted to relieve suffering. But I couldn't. There were too many lives, too much suffering."

"So you retired."

"I was ordered to retire. It wasn’t in the interest of my own mental health. It was a strategic decision. We are called Protectors, but our duties are very narrowly defined. We are not authorized to protect ordinary people in ordinary situations, but Higher Authority used to wink at violations."

"They don’t wink any more," you realize. "That’s why you were so reluctant to get involved today."

"Ten years ago, there was a major policy directive. I had to disappear. It may have been for the best, after all. Perhaps even just in time. Before your people began to resent me. For not being everywhere and helping everyone. For not stopping war. For not turning Earth into a paradise."

"No reasonable person—"

"But people aren't reasonable, are they? By and large. And suppose we did what they think they want. We could do it, you know, if there were enough of us, Not find every lost child or stray cat, perhaps. But the big things. We could destroy your weapons, liquidate your criminals and fanatics, impose equal justice for all, eliminate poverty and disease, revolutionize your technology in ways that would bring an end to pollution and global warming while enhancing life for everyone."

"And we'd hate you for it. If there were any means to humble or destroy you, we'd find it."

"See, you do understand."

"Only from reading. Only from thinking."

"Which few of you seem to do nowadays. In any case, we are not set up to turn Earth into a paradise. Where we come from… it’s beautiful, but it isn’t paradise. And the universe is far from a paradise. Before we part, I will tell you everything. Well, not everything, but as much as I can. And then you will understand more."

She takes you in her arms, and you make love again. Slowly. Passionately.


The next morning, your last morning together, it’s as if nothing really serious had passed between you. She’s already fixed breakfast when you awaken, brings it to you in bed. And she already has plans for the two of you, it seems.

"Ever been to one of those carnivals where you get to shoot at clay pigeons, and if your aim is good enough you win a kewpie doll for your girlfriend?"

"Not since I was a kid," you say.

"Well, you’re going to a shooting gallery today,"

"What for? You’ve suddenly got a jones for kewpie dolls?"

"I’ve got a jones for you. This is a very special shooting gallery. I’ll be the prize." 

"I probably couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn. Never owned a gun in my life."

"You’ll have clear targets. But I have to set things up. Meet me at noon by that cliff. And bring a picnic lunch. I’ll bring the gun from home. And the targets."

She heads out the door, waves goodbye, and takes off. Literally.

From the smirk on her face, there must be more to this than she’s letting on. You wonder how far away she lives. If you knew how fast she can fly, that might be a clue. Two hours out, two hours back. Time enough for you to pick up some deli at the 7-Eleven on the highway, bring the car back here and hoof it to the cliff.

When you reach the clearing, and see her waving to you from beneath the cliff, you think at first she’s wearing some ridiculous outfit from a Paris designer. As you come closer, you think it’s a promotion for that discount store chain. But as you come really close, your jaw drops.

It’s nothing but a white body stocking, red target circles with bull’s eyes printed over each breast and the crotch. No other targets in sight.

She bursts out laughing when she sees the look of your face.

"I told you I was the prize," she says. "I just didn’t tell you I was the target."

You feel a stirring in your cock, but you’re ashamed of it. So you blush.

"This isn’t my idea of—"

"Of course it is," she says. "You must have grown up reading about my public exploits – foiling bank robbers and the like. About how they’d shoot at me and the bullets would always bounce off. You know bullets can’t hurt me. Quite the contrary. Ever wondered how if feels when they hit my breasts and pussy? I’ll bet you used to beat off just thinking about it."

She has you speechless. She picks up a gun from behind a rock, It’s not an air rifle like at a carnival, but some sort of automatic pistol. Maybe a Glock. You’re not really familiar with firearms.

"Here," she says, handing it to you.

Your hand shakes, You drop the gun,

"Good thing I left the safety on," she says. "It’s there." She points it out as she picks up the gun with her right hand, then uses her left to wrap your right around the grip.

She steps back ten paces. Poses sexily. You hesitate.

"What are you waiting for?" she giggles, bumping and grinding at you. "Don’t be a wuss."

You know she thinks this is fun. You know you can’t hurt her. And you know the excitement’s building inside you, just like when she toyed with the lion the other day. You steel yourself, grip the gun tightly, aim in her direction as best you can, pull the trigger.

The gun bucks; you’ve forgotten about recoil, Your shot goes wild, hits the cliff somewhere. You try to hold the gun steadier, fire again. Another miss. The third time you manage to hit her shoulder. She jerks a bit, probably in surprise. But the only way you know where the slug hit is from the hole in her body stocking.

"Ooh, that smarts," she coos. 

You waste the rest of the clip without scoring another hit, but it turns out she’s got a pile of spares. You need them. But gradually, as you become familiar with the weapon, your aim improves. You hit her on the stomach several times, leaving a random pattern of bullet holes. Then, unexpectedly, almost a bull’s eye to her right breast.

She gasps with pleasure, then walks up to you, peels the fabric from around the breast so that you can see the smudge on the creamy invulnerable flesh next to her erect nipple.

"Your first love tap," she says.

You make a move to lick that breast, to suck it. She holds you back.

"Not now. You don’t want to get lead poisoning, do you?" she laughs.

Your skill and confidence are improving. You score more hits to her breasts, once or twice even to her nipples. Each time she gasps and moans. But when you finally feel confident enough to target her cunt; she writhes in ecstasy at your first hit.

"Put it on automatic," she orders as you load another clip. You spray her with your loving bullets, starting with her chest and moving down across her belly to her intimate center. What’s left of the body stocking is torn to shreds, and her body is so covered with gray spots her skin almost looks like a leopard’s. She screams so loud as she comes that you think people must be able to hear it for miles around.

You come in your pants, just like when she came with the lion.

"One more clip," she says, as comes down from the heights. "It’s time for my close-up."

Even after all that’s happened, you’re startled at what she wants you to do next: shove the gun inside her and fire away. But she has to put on her necklace first: you’d never be able to get it into her otherwise. Also…

She unzips your pants, takes out your spent cock, which quickly rises again in her hand. "Now," she says.

The sparks from point-blank barrel light up the inside of her thighs like the Fourth of July as you abandon yourself to firing the last clip hungrily into her. Some bullets shatter into starbursts against her pubic bone, others rebound from her softer flesh to dig small holes into the ground beneath her legs. Still others disappear completely, their penetrating heat and power making her buck so wildly that you can hardly keep your grip on the weapon. She squeezes it tighter between her thighs to steady you, even as her hand finds your own passion

Your heart leaps... her strength is barely controlled as she bites her lower lip, crying urgently to your for more. More. Her hand begins moving frantically, fingers holding you so tightly, urging you onward, pleasing you. 

Needing you, her eyes say. You're startled to feel the bullet impacts shaking her entire body, shockwave traveling back to you through her hand. You shove the gun further into her as she opens her legs so wide, blue eyes pleading. 

"Take me..."

You slide forward, obliging, completing her. Not with yourself. The next rounds are muffled, and then drowned out by her wild screams, her blonde hair flying around her head. 

Her hand grips and holds you painfully as she loses it. She arches her back and the hair collapses and she falls, pulling you with her. The gun clatters to the ground as you fall between those beautiful thighs. She wraps those long legs around you, pulling you upward, no escape now, guiding you to that one spot. She's hot, you find, painfully hot, and you know still invulnerable. Perfectly inviolate. 

It doesn't matter. 

You're more of a man than ever before -- her scent and heat, that soft skin, the moistness and.... all... all of it, suddenly combining as uses her strength to roll you over onto your back, burying you beneath a shower of blonde hair, straddling you, her hips moving so expertly, her brilliant eyes and sexy smile all you can see. 

For that one brief minute, as her body slides down the erotic backside of her passion, she's vulnerable, willing. Human. Beautiful.

She lifts her head, her lips finding your ear, whispering, "Fuck me..."


You think you’ve seen everything, as you take a break for lunch and break out the sandwiches and drinks from the 7-Eleven. You feed each other playfully, stuffing each other’s mouths with bits of ham and cheese. 

When you’re through with the soda too, she amuses you by compressing the cans into tiny aluminum balls. "That’s nothing compared to making diamonds out of coal," she reminds you. "Only industrial grade, but they help pay the rent."

After a few moments, you begin hugging and kissing again; you want to lick away the lead as well as your own cum, but she’s leery of that. "Of course, I can always take a bath," she says.

"Right here? Where’s the water?"

"I don’t need any. Just wait a few minutes."

You think maybe she’s going to fly away, bring back a water tank, Instead, she starts tearing up the brush, clearing a path, working around in a circle. She heaps the torn-up vegetation inside the circle, and carefully clears the bared earth of whatever twigs and leaves remain. 

"Maybe you’ve dreamed of this, too," she says, stepping into the circle and arranging the brush around her. She looks down, and you can see faint beams of light coming out of her eyes. The brush begins to smoke, to catch fire. Then with a rush, a blaze engulfs her.

She just stands there. She doesn’t have to do anything else. The flames rush up her body, consuming what’s left of the body stocking, caressing her like a lover. The lead smudges melt away. There is a sizzliing sound as the juices of her arousal drip into the fire. She masturbates in the flames, the flames masturbate her. Her breasts and nipples respond to the heat, standing out proudly. She screams again with her release

Gradually, the fire dies down from want of fuel; just beneath her, it has already been extinguished by her abundant juices. She stands there gloriously naked, then brings her arms to her sides, takes the classic superheroine pose with elbows out. 

"Vels are rare here," she quips. "But I can tell you like yours well done."

You’ve been playing with your cock. And she knows how turned on you were last might from the lingering odor of that rescue from the burning house. She has to cool down for a bit now, but after that she’s ready for an all-over tongue-licking. Hell, a little carbon never hurt anyone, right? 

You’re so absorbed in each other that you don’t notice at first that the sky has been clouding over. If you’d been listening to the weather reports, you’d know that there’s a front moving in. Maybe she can’t feel it, but you’re aware of the chill in the air and the first raindrops falling. At first you ignore them; you’re too busy inside your love. But just as you come again, there’s a crash of thunder and a downpour begins.

Abruptly, she pushes you away.

"Stay down," she says. But she stands up herself, moves fifty feet away.

It’s another one of those inexplicable things, you think later, like that lion the first day. There must be a thousand other places for lightning to strike, but today it seems to be drawn unerringly to her.

With a deafening sound, a bolt hits her. The smell of ozone fills the air. You are blinded for a few seconds, but then you can see that she’s standing there unharmed. You cover your eyes as another bolt hits, and another. It seems to be over, and you take a peek between your fingers, only a final bolt strikes. You’re blinded again for a few moments, but you could swear the energy was drawn straight to her breasts and cunt.

The storm passes. Your ears are still ringing.

When everything’s clear, she flies you home. She’s naked, you’re soaked. You fly face to face this tine, your arms around each other; you know she won’t drop you. Despite the fright left from the storm, you can’t help rubbing up against her to get warm. By the time you reach the cabin, you’re somehow inside her again, and you come just before you land. 


After supper, your last supper together, you say it’s time for serious talk. She agrees. 

"I’ve been putting it off," she admits. "Distracting you. I know you’ve loved every minute of it. But I can’t stay past tonight. I’m needed elsewhere. I can’t say exactly where or why, but it has to do with what you call the dead weight of history. The weight you understand as few Terrans seem to."

You tell her about this paper somebody e-mailed you. Written by a Libyan Islamic fundamentalist who’s convinced the Americans have been out to get Libya ever since the War of Tripoli, although hardly anyone in America really actually ever gave the country a second thought between then and the Cold War.

"Osama Bin Laden would talk about revenge against the Crusaders," you go on. "And the Crusades were a thousand years ago. But it’s like yesterday to them. They can’t forget history. And they aren’t alone; there was this Western obsession with the so-called Yellow Peril that must have been inspired by cultural memories just as old of the Mongols. When Serbia refused to let go of Kosovo, it was all about a battle with the Turks there 600 years ago that was part of their national mythology. And we have countless other examples. It’s enough to make you hate history itself, like this guy in a book I read. I still remember his thoughts:

"History was the best excuse to hate your fellow man, even better than religion or race. Historical crimes were tangible – and usually so gruesome they did not require much embellishment… History never made one man love another. History did not promote understanding. History was the most powerful growth hormone for hatred that nature had ever produced."

"I think that must be the strangest thing about you Terrans: that you can be so obsessed with a past that none of you has ever witnessed," she says. "Where we come from, people live a long time. A very long time. Events as distant as the Battle of Kosovo are living memory to some of us, not just our cultural memory." 

"Do you hate more intensely than us, then?"

"There isn’t that much difference. Except that the dead weight of history weighs on us even more heavily. It weighs on me. That is why I seek solace. Perhaps even forgiveness."

"For something you have done?"

"For something I may yet do. Have to do. There is a war raging."

"’A struggle for Heaven and Earth. Where the only law is, fight or die; and the only rule, resist or serve.’"


"A line from a TV show. About an alien invasion."

"The X-Files, right? But it’s true. There is an invasion. It’s coming. If not this year, next year. If not next year, the year after that. Our enemies. Unlike us, they do not feel bound by the Prime Directive."

"Neither did the crew of the Enterprise. Most of the time."

"This is serious. They are free to act, and we are not. If we violate the Directive, the ancient ones – those who created us – may intervene."

"Wouldn’t they intervene against your enemies for the same reason?" 

"Our enemies no longer believe in the ancient ones. But they hope to conquer Earth by stealth, working through Terran proxies. And were they to be found out, nevertheless, they would destroy this world rather than surrender it. They could do so. Easily." 

"Couldn’t you alert these ancient ones?"

"They can no longer be found. But there are signs. We believe that they still watch over us."

"Perhaps you should try prayer."

"It has been tried.

"The crisis, then, is that urgent?"

"We believe that our enemies are involved in the war that is about to erupt in the Middle East. It would serve their interest to exploit the old hatreds of which you spoke. To deepen those hatreds, until there is no hope of reconciliation. They may even have decided that the time has come for forcing the end."

"Forcing the end?" 

You’ve heard that phrase before. You explain to her about our own Christian fundamentalists, who believe that time of Armageddon is at hand – that they know the day and the hour, although Christ himself warned that no one knew: "not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." And the more arrogant among them…

"They believe that it is within their power, and even their duty, to force the End. While there was still a Soviet Union, they longed for a nuclear holocaust – as long as it was triggered by events in the Middle East. Now they have replaced Russia with Iraq in their interpretation of Biblical prophecy. They believe that the war they have long awaited is truly at hand, and that peace – even on our government’s own terms – would defy God’s will, and must be avoided at all costs."

"Perhaps our enemies,,,"

"And probably not. This kind of madness is nothing new to us. The only thing new is that the madmen have weapons of mass destruction. And they won’t listen to reason. They never do. ‘What can we build or write, against the fall of night?’"

"I don’t know," she says, a tinge of sadness in her voice.

"The Gods are silent, and you can find no guidance. You have come to a difficult pass, and can see no way out, or round, or through."


"Then do as we do."

"Which is?"


"What do you mean?"

"Do whatever you have to, regardless of your Prime Directive. Bend the rules, but do not break them. Delay, inveigle, obfuscate. Don’t get caught, and always have plausible deniability." 

"I suppose you have some ideas of your own."

"A few. Small acts of deception. Small acts of sabotage. Small acts that cannot be traced to you or yours. Small accidents that seem just that. Computers that crash, Vital components in weapons that fail. Communications disrupted by static or broken wires or just tapping in with disinformation. If you can destroy worlds, you can surely do these smaller things. The things that count in any modern war." 

"Anything else?"

"Try not to hate these people too much. Hateful as their acts may be, there may be some good in them. Buried deep, but still there. Zamyatin knew that."


"Yevgeny Zamyatin. A Russian writer, from the time of the Russian Revolution. He considered himself a Revolutionary, but… well, it’s complicated. He’s known for We, the first of the great anti-utopian novels of the twentieth century, but he was also a brilliant essayist and short story writer. I have a collection of his stories that I carry around with me because – just because. I want to—"

"You want to read me a bedtime story?"

"Hardly a bedtime story. But… I think it may help, wherever it is you have to go, whatever it is you have to do. It’s called "The Dragon," and it’s set in Russia, just after the Bolshevik Revolution. But with a few changes in detail it could just as well take place in Germany or Japan or China or Yugoslavia or Iran or Burundi – wherever ordinary men have been turned into monsters by hatred. Religious, nationalist, ideological. It doesn’t matter."

She doesn’t seem sure what to make of this as you reach into your bag for a dog-eared paperback more than 30 years old. Older than yourself. But you think it’s something she needs. Right here. Right now. You open the pages to a familiar bookmark, and read to her:

Gripped with bitter cold, ice-locked, Petersburg burned in delirium. One knew: out there, invisible behind the curtain of fog, the red and yellow columns, spires, and hoary gates and fences crept on tiptoe, creaking and shuffling. A fevered, impossible, icy sun hung in the fog—to the left, to the right, above, below—a dove over a house on fire. From the delirium-born, misty world, dragon men dived up into the earthly world, belched fog heard in the misty world as words, but here becoming nothing—round white puffs of smoke. The dragon men dived up and disappeared again into the fog. And trolleys rushed screeching out of the earthly world into the unknown.

On the trolley platform a dragon with a gun existed briefly, rushing into the unknown. His cap was down over his nose and would have swallowed the dragon's head but for his ears; on the protruding ears the cap had come to rest. His army greatcoat dangled to the floor; the sleeves flapped loosely; the tips of the boots were turned up, empty. And in the dimness of the fog—a hole: the mouth.

This was now in the leaping, rushing world; and here the bitter fog belched out by the dragon was visible and audible; "So I was taking him along, the bastard: an intellectual mug—it turned your stomach just to look at him. And it talks, the scum! Wouldn't you know? It talks!"

"And did you bring him in?"

"I sure did—nonstop to the heavenly kingdom. With the bayonet."

The hole in the fog closed up. There was nothing now but the empty cap, empty boots, an empty army coat. The trolley sped, gnashing, out of the world.

And suddenly from the empty sleeves—from out of their depths, a pair of raw, red dragon paws emerged. The empty coat squatted down on the floor, and in the paws there was a tiny, gray, cold lump that had materialized out of the bitterly cold fog.

"Mother in heaven! A sparrow frozen stiff! Just look at it!"

The dragon pushed back his cap—and in the fog two eyes appeared, two small chinks from the nightmare world into the human.

The dragon blew with all his might into the red paws, and there were clearly words, spoken to the sparrow but in the nightmare world they were unheard. The trolley screeched.

"The little bastard: he gave a flutter, didn't he? Not yet? He'll come around, by Go… Just think!"

He blew with all his strength. The gun dropped to the floor. And at the moment ordained by destiny, at a point ordained in space, the sparrow gave a jerk, another and fluttered off the dragon's paws into the unknown.

The dragon's fog-belching maw gaped open to his ears. Then slowly the cap slid down over the chinks into the human world and settled back on the protruding ears. The guide to the heavenly kingdom picked up his gun.

The trolley gnashed and screeched and rushed into the unknown, out of the human world.

"Religious, nationalist, ideological. It doesn’t matter."

Your eyes are misty when you finish. They always are. You look up at her; she too has been moved.

"Is there anything we can do to bring them from the nightmare world back into the human?" you ask her. "Not just here, but – out there?"

"I don’t know."

"Neither do I. And yet I think it’s the most important thing we could do. If we only knew how. 

"If only."


You’re about to make love for the last time. 

She’s sitting on the side of the bed, wearing nothing but her gold necklace and a pair of gray cotton panties You start to say something, but she shushes you. "Tell me how you love me," she says. "Then watch."

Your words pour out. About how beautiful and brave and caring she is. About how you wish you could be with her forever, in soul and in body. About how she will own your heart and fill your dreams for the rest of your life.

In a few seconds, a wet spot appears at her crotch, and the scent of honey and wildflowers fills the air. You stare in rapt fascination as the wetness spreads, as the fragrant juices of her pussy soak the panties, and the outline of her engorged clit shows against the wet fabric.

"It’s growing," she murmurs. "Just like your cock."

Of course, you think. How could any cock fail to respond to such a wonderful creature, to such a sight and such an aroma? "Start at my feet and work your way up," she tells you.

As you begin kissing her toes, you see that they are perfect. Just like the rest of her. You kiss and caress your way up her leg. Not a wart, not a mole, not a birthmark, not even a stray hair. Just creamy golden skin over her sleekly muscled flesh. 

She masturbates herself as you climb upwards with hands and lips; her clit is so hard it rips through the cotton as she strokes it. The flesh of her inner thighs seems so incredibly soft, even though you know that, underneath, it is like all Velorian flesh. As you nibble at it, as she continues to masturbate herself, her cunt is dripping like a faucet. 

She comes loudly and gloriously, but she’s just getting started as she removes her hand so that you can bury your face in her humid crevice. You don’t even have to remove her panties; they’ve been torn to shreds by the clit of steel that you now kiss and lick and bite adoringly. She starts to buck; you grab her ass so you can hold on tight and keep eating her as she thrashes about, until she comes again.

But you’re not about to quit her clit, that clit which nether bullets nor flames nor lightning can harm but which eagerly responds to your lips and tongue and teeth. You’ve always thought that one of the most obscene things in the world is that Third World practice so euphemistically called female circumcision. Worse than a crime, a sacrilege: to mutilate what should be worshipped...

"With my body I thee worship." That was one of the wedding vows for the man in the Book of Common Prayer and, before that, in some Catholic rites. The words were totally at odds with the prevailing attitude towards women in the Middle Ages; had their author perhaps met a Vel? Been privileged to worship her as you are now worshipping this magnificent goddess?

Your cock is aching for release by now, and she knows it. You’re about to put your manhood where your tongue has been when she interrupts.

"I want to see you come," she says, inviting you to straddle her belly, right below those invulnerable breasts that point proudly north, the nipples larger than most women’s areolas. 

You’re oozing cum as you touch the head to one nipple, than the other. You could never do it yourself, no Terran could; but she presses her breasts together lovingly against your cock, gazing at it hungrily as you pump back and forth until your cum erupts from the tip. She catches some of it on her tongue, then licks and sucks your cockhead greedily for more.

Her pheromones won’t let you go soft. She directs you south, As you enter her you begin deep-kissing her, and as you kiss her, as you fuck her, you can feel her breasts, immune to gravity, pressing against you, rubbing against you as you come for the second time. But not the last.

"I’m fucking Supergirl!" you tell yourself, as she welcomes you with open arms and cunt. And, before long, "I’m cumming inside Supergirl!"

You wish you could spend a week hugging her and kissing her and sucking and biting and mauling those awesome breasts. You wish you could spend a week on her clit, and inside her heavenly cunt, fucking without a care in the world. But you’re not a Vel. Exhaustion overcomes you at last. Yet there are still words to be said.

"I love you."

"I know. 

"Will I ever see you again?

"I don’t know."

You lie back. You hold her hand. You sleep. In the morning, she’s gone.


You return to the world and its cares. You haven’t really kept up with the news while you’ve been gone, and now it floods in on you. The capture of the snipers. A senator killed in a plane crash. The bloodbath at that theater in Moscow. 

You’re late to work; you tell the boss you had car trouble. He accepts that. In fact, things look up for you. A contract your company thought it had lost has been renewed. Your job is safe. If things go well, you might even get a raise. 

Your office friend asks how the weekend went. You try to think of something to say, but the look on your face tells all.

"You’ve got it bad," she says.

"The cabin was terrific," you respond, unable to think of anything else to say.

Office friend is annoyed. You make some excuse about not being the kiss-and-tell type. She’s still annoyed, but you know she’ll get over it. Only you won’t. You check Strangerintown’s profile has been deleted. Her e-mail link no longer functions. Wherever she was going, she’s gone by now. 

The inevitable doubts assail you. Did she ever really care for you? Could she? She isn’t some Terran woman in her 20’s. She’s much older than you. Wiser. You’d known that from the first day. She has to be more experienced than you in every way. She’s surely had better lovers, or could easily find them. 

Maybe she was simply turned on by the idea of making it with an ordinary man, of bestowing the favors only a goddess can bestow on a man who could never have expected, still less deserved them. A man of her own kind would take her for granted; she might be a passing pleasure, but never an object of adoration. Yet you hope there’s more to it than that.

You’re only human. You want to do the right thing. But everything these days is so complicated, so tangled. For all her powers, it can’t be any different for her. She too wants to do the right thing. Desperately. But how to find that right thing? What if there’s simply no right thing to be done, no course of action without moral pitfalls, however much the survival of some ultimate good may depend on it?

Most likely she had already chosen a course before she contacted you. It was probably hateful to her in some way, however dictated by necessity. If there were any possible alternative, she wanted to find it. So she did exactly as you would have done: she sought a second opinion. 

Did she find what she was looking for? You don’t know. Maybe you never will. But you hope so. And you hope that she can find something more. A way to open at least chink from the nightmare world back into the human. A promise that we might one day be able to find faith once more in a goodness and beauty as imperishable as her own.

Isn’t that what we all want? You and each of you?