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Lost on Earth: Fateful Love

Lost on Earth: Fateful Love by Lily Alex 2006 by Lilly Alex Published in December 2006 2006 by Romance at Heart Publications This is a free read brought to you by Romance at Heart Magazine, and Romance At Heart Publications. The copyrights to the story belong to Lily Alex, and the po sting to Romance at Heart Magazine, and as such, no part of this book can be rep roduced without author permission. The characterizations of this book are the sole creation of the author, and belo ng to Ms Alex entirely.

CHAPTER: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

Part One. Loss Chapter One: The meeting Robert Noirson It was the usual charity benefit and Robert Noirson was bored. *** As the Son of the Devil he could have such fun as no human being could have. But appearing as a forty-two year old respectable businessman, Noirson had to follo w general rules, pretending to be an ordinary man and only his closest partners and servants knew his real status. Not for the first time Robert Noirson had been involved in a benevolent arrangem ent, so he knew the entire event thoroughly. Some speeches, some performances, h e would write a check. Reporters would then take some pictures.

Easy, usual, boring. Robert tried not to yawn. He was the Beast, a wild animal, and only the Power of his father made him look like a man. This was why he did n ot understand the most of human entertainment and he watched the gymnastic perfo rmance with indifference. But finally the leading girl attracted his attention; he liked her stern self-co nfidence. Her face looked familiar. Platinum blonde, she has a petite frame, but her muscles were toned from years as an athlete. Moving with hidden energy, she was like a genie in a bottle, and Robert Noirson got interested. "Who's the girl in the green track-suit?" he asked his seat-mate. "It's Maria Jablonskaia, Mary J." Father Frank smiled. "Our pride and joy. She c ould be a professional gymnast, but the poor girl has no ambitions!" "Everybody has ambitions," Robert retorted derisively. "Just in different walks of life. Could you introduce me to her?" "Sure, Mr. Noirson!" Mother Augusta joined them. "Mary is a good, obedient girl. " "Obedient, eh?" Robert s eyes narrowed. "How obedient?" "Well," Father Frank laughed nervously. "A little." But Robert showed no interest in this subject any more.

Mary Jablonskaia Mary finished her part and looked at her tutors, talking and casting glances at her. Propping his chin up with his fist, Noirson could not tear his eyes away fr om Mary. Thinking she understood his glare, Mary became irritated. She had received "offe rs" from some wealthy men and even women a few times. Until today her intentiona l rudeness had kept them at bay. But Mary had a lot of troubles. Her tutors urged her to accept those offers, and even punished her when she refused. Mary was worried that it was going to happe n again. Father Frank waved her over. "Mary, let me introduce you to Mr. Robert Noirson." "Hello," Mary said through clenched teeth. "How's your wife?" "She's doing fine," Robert smiled admiringly. He extended a hand. "Sorry," Mary's face was stern. "My hands are clammy and smeared with talc." "It's okay," Robert kept his arm beckoned. "You've done a great job!" Mary sighed, "I have no choice," She thought clutching his hand. At the same tim e she did it, and their palms linked, Robert recalled where he had seen the same face before and he involuntarily gasped with amazement.

'She is a copy of the Saint Mary!' His inner voice whispered. Maybe even a clone... thought Robert. My Father! She doesn't know about it! Puzzled by his reaction, Mary carefully pulled her hand away, "I told you it's d isgusting!" But the involved Noirson did not release it. He understood that this girl had be en made specially for him. He had been hooked, and clearly realizing this, he wa s thinking what he should do now. "Would you be so kind?" Vexed, Mary harshly drew back her arm. "Let me go!" "Mary!" Mother Augusta gasped with indignation. "I need to talk to you." Noirson watched Mary's reaction. "I don't wanna!" she answered impudently. "I'm tired and sweaty, I'd like to tak e a shower!" "Mary, shame on you!" Father Frank could not resist himself any more. "You're de faming our orphanage!" Mary's face turned red and she looked down. "Hush!" Robert uttered tenderly. "Don't shout at the poor girl, she's tired. Go, Mary, take a shower and come back. I really need to talk to you. Privately." Mary's heart gave a lurch. Drooping her head, she almost ran away. Near the exit door she looked back and saw Noirson writing a check. All hope seemed was cast down.

The Talk Robert gave Mary an amazing glance: she entered the private room just as though it was a torture chamber: "What's the matter, Mary?" The girl tossed her face: "My tutors said, you're paying for my campus apartment from now on." "Yes. So what?" Noirson was wonder-struck. "You're wrong if you think I'll be obedient because of your money!" She cried ou t. Robert gasped, stepped towards the frightened Mary and grabbed her shoulders. "How could you think about me this way?" He shook the girl. "You don't know me! We just met! Why did you think this outrageous thing about me?" "I'm sorry," Mary J. was so surprised, she even stopped weeping. "I didn't mean to offend you. I was forced..." She gazed at Noirson with curiosity as an angry roar escaped from the Robert's lips. "Are you gonna kill my tutors? You look so mad!"

"Don't worry," Noirson released the girl and grinned. "I'll be right back!" And he went away. Cheered up Mary smiled. Her composure returned. Robert was not absent for long. When he came back, Mary saw his livid face and f elt pity. "I'm sorry," She repeated and asked. "What have you done with them?" "Don't worry, they'll never disturb you again. I just reminded them of their bad deeds. There is a skeleton in every house." "You can read thoughts?" Mary got interested. "Can you find my "skeleton"?" "You've got it, birdie!" a strange smile curved the thin lips of Robert. "That f ool Frank thinks you have no ambitions. Hah! You want to be Jesus's mate, don't you? You want to mate with the Messiah, eh? Why did you blush? You're a beautifu l sinless Jew, so why not?" "I'm Russian." "Yes, you were born in Moscow. But if your mother is a Jew, you are a Jew too. L ook, I'm really charmed with your self-confidence! Can I hug you or do you think I'm going to rape you?" "No, it's okay. I'm thankful to you." It was a father-like hug. Mary finally calmed down, she melted with a feeling of security and peace. Noirson unclasped his arms, and Mary J. felt a loss. "Mary, I showed you I'm not an ordinary man. Now do you believe me?" "I believe you and I will trust you." "Mary, you are not human. You are an angel in the human form." "Many times people have called me 'angel'," Mary burst out laughing. "But I alwa ys thought it was just a figure of speech... Wait a minute! How do you know? Are you an angel too?" "Well," Robert faltered. "Sort of. Look, Mary, I'm a really busy man, but I want to talk to you. Could you give me two hours a day, maybe more, I'm not sure. Bu t two hours I'll try to get. I promise, we'll meet only in public places. Is it okay with you?" Mary nodded. "Great! Tomorrow, wait for me in the Green Streets cafe, it's just across your s treet, between the McDonalds and the book-shop." "I've got it." "Wait for me until 1:00 p.m. if I'm able to make it, I'll come. And, I'm going t o use your time so I'll pay for it, thirty dollars an hour. Is that okay with yo u?" "Do you mean sixty dollars per day?" "Some day, there may be more, if I'm able... Ah, do you want more? I'll pay you cash and you won't have to pay any tax... Oh you little Scroogette! Don t forget,

I'm paying for your campus apartment?" "Okay, deal!" Mary smiled and shook his hand.

The first date That morning Mary woke up in her new apartment. She opened her eyes and could no t determine for a moment if she was dreaming or if it was real. Her entire bedro om was decorated with flowers. She got up, ran to the living room, to the kitchen... Flowers, flowers everywher e... Even in the bathroom. Mary called the security service: "It's 7-26. By whom and at what time were the flowers delivered to me?" "Sorry, miss, what do you mean? Nobody came inside." Mad, Mary threw the receiver. *** At 11 a.m. Mary J. went to the cafe. The table had been reserved. Mary sat by the window and took a e saw the prices, she nearly jumped out of her chair. Mary had uxury cafe and she was astonished. Nevertheless she hoped that vited her here, he would also pay for her meal. Mary ordered a and waited. She was still very angry about the flowers and was arsh words. menu. But when sh never visited a l if Noirson had in juice and salad, preparing a few h

But Robert was late and Mary had plenty of time to calm down. She was looking th rough the window at the endless stream of people and traffic. *** It was already 1:00 p.m., but Mary decided to wait a few minutes longer. At 1:03 p.m. a limousine stopped at the front of the cafe. A man opened the door and Noirson quickly got out. The eyes of Mary J. flashed with joy. For the first time in her lonely life some body stood up for her and she felt more than just gratitude for Robert. Mary observed Noirson speaking on his cell-phone. At about six feet tall, with d ark brown hair, Robert was very slender and elegant. He moved with masculine gra ce. When he was turning, his refined body curved like a snake, and his stylish b usiness suit only emphasized this likeness. Mary involuntarily recalled the Bible: 'The Serpent, the Tempter, the First Snak e.' And she smiled. Noirson impressed her, but unlike most women, she was not af raid of snakes, and she was a strong believer in God, strong enough to fight Sat an. Robert looked at his watch and entered the cafe. Mary waved, and a smiling Noirs

on came to her. Two hefty men followed him and sat at the next table. She gazed at them with curiosity, then playfully glanced at Robert. "Did you send one of those guys to bring the flowers to me?" She asked. "You did grease the palm of the security guards in my building. Didn't you?" "No, birdie, I'll explain." Noirson ordered his meal to the waitress and turned to Mary again. "I wanted your first morning in the new apartment to be special. So, I just did this!" He snapped his fingers, and Mary gasped, when she saw a cu te tiny corsage of lilies of the valley appeared on her plate. "Wow!" Mary J. admired the flowers, then looked again at the men at the next tab le. "Are you always with bodyguards?" "I have to be." Robert's face was serious. "I have too many enemies." "They are both so beautiful, I thought all bodyguards looked like gorillas." "Not necessarily, kitten..." Noirson did not finish. He wanted to say: "I only u se things of the highest quality." But he was afraid she would misunderstand thi s. "Especially, that left one," Mary continued. "His face is so intelligent, he loo ks like a senator, or some kind of professor..." "His name is Roger Slay, and he's more than just my bodyguard. He's my helper, m y valet and butler. The man that next to him is Jack Leclerc, the chief of my se curity service." "What a name your butler has!" Mary laughed. "Is he an assassin or something?" "Something." Noirson smiled. "Look, little lamb, I have an awfully tense life. S ometimes it's just vitally necessary to have such a guy by my side." "Cool," Mary's eyes were iridescent with interest. "And do you even take them wh en you're on a date?" "Did you think this meeting was a date?" Robert stared at her, and Mary blushed. "Oh, girl, you're not just beautiful, you're smart also! It's a very rare combi nation, I'm simply charmed." "Mr. Noirson, please, don't say such things. You're a married man and not suppos ed to have dates." "Look, Mary, if I'm looking for a relationship to "spice up" my life, I'd call a n "escort girl." I called you, because you are not an ordinary person. You were surprised with my abilities, but you have no less than I do! I'd like to teach y ou how to use them. So, could you, please, just call me `Robert` and not remind me about my marital status? Sweetie, it hurts badly, believe me!" "I'm sorry, mist... R o b e r t," Mary voiced slowly, and liked the sound of his name. "Why does it hurt?" "Some day I'll tell you... Okay, bunny, tell me, how do you like your new apartm ent?" *** Roger Slay had already answered a few phone calls. He looked at his watch then a t his Master. Robert was still talking with Mary and from time to time they woul

d burst out laughing. Roger hesitated, consulted with Jack and finally came to their table: "I'm terri bly sorry, sir, but we have to go. We've been here longer than we had planned." Noirson looked at his watch, whistled and his face showed his upset. Mary felt p ity and stroked his arm: "It's okay, Robert. I have a lesson pretty soon, I have to go also. I'll see you tomorrow, I hope?" Noirson took her hand and the she understood, he wanted to kiss it, but did not dare. Then Mary resolutely stretched her arm out and smiled with pleasure when R obert's lips touched her fingers.

Jerry Sixteen years old, a blue-eyed blonde Jerry was very attractive and not only to women. But having been very straight since he was a kid, Jerry had learned to defend hi mself. He worked out every day, stealing money to pay for his training, and he w as eleven the first time he handled a gun. Yet the first time he killed somebody it was only four years later. Jerry and th ree of his pals caught a girl on the parking lot and they raped her. If she had kept silent, they honestly would have let her go, but she started to cry and thr eaten them. Jerry did not like noises and he grabbed his gun and shot her down. And when one of his pals became nervous about that, he shot him too. The teenager was surprised at how easy it was and thought that it was a wonderfu l solution for almost any problem. In the meantime Jerry had just turned sixteen, but he already had a police recor d like few experienced criminals had, including robberies and burglaries, guns a nd drug trade, suspected in a few rapes and even a few murders. The cool, but cr uel demeanor Jerry showed in fulfilling the orders of his boss was legendary, ev en among the hardened criminals. *** That day, when the boss called for him, Jerry was happy. Just two days ago the b oss had arranged a really nice birthday party for him. The boss treated him very respectably, as an adult member and the grateful teenager was ready to go throu gh fire and water for him. Today's task was not easy. They had to deliver "stuff", the first batch at least , but the police were alerted, and if anyone was able to do that, it was he, Jer ry. He had only lived in that city for a few months and policemen had not notice d him yet.

The "operation"

When Ray Desross, the police officer, noticed a familiarity in the teenager's fa ce, he immediately called out to him. The lad came close and smiled. He was very tall, almost as tall as Ray was, his big dark blue eyes that sparkled like sapp hires and the policeman was temporarily dazzled. His own daughter looked very si milar, and he forgot where else he could have seen that tender and child-like fa ce before. "Are you new here?" He asked. "I've never seen you before." "It's summer vacation, officer." The teenager did not show any fear or worry. "I 'm visiting my brother here, sir." "Okay, take care." Desross watched him as he walked away. Suddenly he saw Todd, his partner. He ran, he drew his gun. "Freeze!" Todd shouted. The teenager flung himself into a side street. The polic eman fired, but did not get him. "My God!" shocked, Ray addressed to his partner. "Todd, he's just a kid!" "Are you drunk or what?" Todd stared at him with amazement. "That "kid" killed o ur colleague in Cleveland! Why did you let him go?" Desross gasped, and called himself an idiot. *** Although Jerry had lived here just a few months, he was already familiar with th is part of the city. When he realized that he had been exposed he turned and wen t down a dead end street with an iron-barred gate. He pushed himself through the gate. His gun got stuck between those bars, the teenager took it away and smile d, recalling "Terminator-2", the movie. He felt no fear, just pleasant excitatio n. No adult could squeeze through the same way. But just a couple of blocks farther Jerry saw them again. Now one more policeman had joined Ray and Todd. Jerry started getting angry. It was already nighttime, and the teenager grabbed the back of a passing truck and was sure he would be able get away. But today wa s not his lucky day. Some stupid or drunk driver turned into the one way street and the headlights of the car lit up Jerry. The policemen shouted and grabbed their guns. The teenager jumped off the truck and saw the building with outside fire steps. He rushed up, feeling how the purs uers were getting closer and closer. Upstairs the third policeman almost caught him. Jerry turned and shot, his hand did not falter and the hit of the bullet caused the policeman fall from the roof . Ray and Todd fired too, but Jerry had already gone down on the other side of t he building. *** Running away, Jerry had passed three blocks already, and for the first time in h is life he started to panic. He was lost - this part of the city was new to him - and he could not find any place to hide. He could not shake them off, and any second their backup would be able to hem him in.

Finally, Jerry saw a building and he noticed an open window on the second floor. He was agile like a monkey and got up very easily. The couple on the bed were m aking love, but he showed them his gun and the young people kept silent. Jerry did not want to take any risks and ordered the guy to tie his girlfriend u p, and then Jerry tied the youth. He closed the window and kept his eyes on the street. He was not familiar with this part of the city and was worried. He saw h ow the policemen passed the building and then went back, and he understood that the street was a dead end. Finally, they were gone and Jerry sighed with relief. He gazed at the couple. The helpless girl on the bed looked very tempting. After such stress Jerry needed to relax. Lying on the floor, her boyfriend was tied s ecurely and the teenager did not see a reason to suppress his desire. Scared to death, the girl did not even try to resist. After, when he had got that he wanted, smiling Jerry left the apartment. He was sure luck was on his side. But he was on duty and should have stayed alert. However, the pursuit after him made the teenager tired and that last action took away almost all his remaining strength. He felt sleepy and he disregarded the danger. Without checking he went to the street and almost collided with Ray and Todd. He screamed and rushed to the first alley between the buildings and realized at once that he had been trapped. It was a dead end and only a big trash container was here. The teenager heard the two cops radio the other officers and he felt d espair. Suddenly a new plan came upon Jerry. He started calling the names of the policem en, he was mocking and threatening them. "Look, kid!" Ray Desross shouted. "Don't make things worse! Just come here with your hands up!" "Try and make me!" Jerry laughed. Holding their guns, the policemen carefully walked into the alley. Although the trash container was really big and most adults would have trouble handling it, J erry was well trained, very strong, and more important, he was scared and mad. T he huge pile of the trash fell onto the policemen and the teenager tried to run away. But Todd was buried just to his chest and he clutched Jerry's leg. The teenager fell down. He screamed and kicked Todd, yet the policeman did not release him. H is other arm moved out from under the trash and Jerry thought Todd held a gun, b ut it was a set of cuffs and that scared the teenager even more. He grabbed his gun and shot the policeman. He kept firing until the gun was empt y. He did not hear Ray scream, calling his partner's name and making his way out . Jerry kicked the dead policeman again, freed his leg, and sprang up. But Desro ss shot a few times and Jerry collapsed. He wriggled, unsuccessfully trying to g et up, and then lay still. Keeping him on the point of his gun, Ray slowly approached. The teenager was sti ll alive, but Desross was a professional and he understood that Jerry was wounde d fatally. His childish wide-opened naive eyes urged the policeman to feel pity. He put his gun away and bent over the teenager to check him out. And Jerry stabbed Desross in the belly with his knife. Well aimed, that strike w as certainly mortal and they both realized it. They heard sirens and saw flashin

g lights of oncoming police cars, but it was no matter for them now. Jerry hit D esross again and again. Amazed, Ray just stared at his murderer. Desross did not understand, how he, an experienced policeman, was able to make such a mistake. He knew that he was dying and he thought about his daughter. A smile was on the beautiful lips of the teenager. But it was a smile of death.

The offer He was Beyond. And he saw numberless awful things that living human beings could not even imagine. Many, many times he went close to those horrifying events and he felt intolerabl e despair and terror. But all the time something like a strong hand led him away , and he saw new and boundless nightmares. *** Jerry opened his eyes, and at first he did not understand where he was. Suddenly he sensed pain again, he felt bandages and catheters and he realized he was in a hospital. A man was siting near him and looking at him very attentively. "Hi Jerry," the man said with deep low voice. "How do you like the place that yo u've just visited?" "Which place?" Jerry asked with effort. The man smiled: "It was Hell, Jerry. And you're going to that place. And all tho se events are waiting for you. You're dying, poor boy." "No," Jerry licked his lips and looked around the ward. "Where are the doctors? Why aren't they trying to heal me?" "They tried their best." The man snorted. "But they are just humans. Besides, wh y do you want them to cure you? You're going to have a lethal injection or get t he chair. Which do you prefer?" And Jerry wept. He cried like a child. Damn, he was a child! He was just sixteen and did not want to die. "Oh, Jerry, what did you expect? Did you think you would go to Heaven, doing suc h things? Who forced you?" Robert Noirson waited for Jerry's answer with curiosi ty. And he was pleasantly surprised. "You're right." The teenager sighed. "Nobody forced me. I chose this path myself ." "I like your way of thinking." Robert smiled. "So, how do you like the place tha t you've seen? How do you like Hell?" "How the fuck do you know, what I saw?" "Tsk, tsk, tsk..." Noirson shook his head. "I'm a respectable creature, boy! Don

't use such language when you're talking to me!" "Okay, sir," the teenager replied derisively. "Could you explain, how do you kno w, what I saw in my delirium?" "Because, I'm the manager of that place." The teenager stared at Noirson. "Are you the Devil?" "No, I'm just His Son. I did not say I'm the owner of that place. I said, I'm ju st the manager here, on Earth and there in Hell." "And you wanna get my soul?" "Don't be so naive!" Robert laughed. "I already have it! With my abilities, I do n't need servants at all, but I don't like to waste the Power. So, if something can be done without using that, I prefer that way. And, well, I must follow some rules. One of them is that before I "hire" someone, I have to tell him this: yo u can release yourself from me if you sincerely repent or commit something "nobl e", and..." Noirson stopped for a second and said with visible effort and spite. "And I must tell you, it happens sometimes! But I don't think you're such a per son." For a few minutes they were silent, thinking about that. The teenager checked hi s feelings. He really was not sorry, and more so, recalling the cop, which he ki lled last, Jerry sensed such anger that he surprised himself. Reading his thoughts, Robert smirked and continued: "Here is one warning: if you die in fire, voluntary or accidentally you'll not go to Hell, you'll just not e xist until the Day of Judgment, when we all will answer for our actions." The gloomy anxiety in Noirson's voice made the teenager smile. "Well," he said. "for everything you do you have to pay for, right?" "Oh, you're such a brave boy, eh?" Robert's eyes glinted. "I like your personali ty, Jerry! I like your sense of responsibility; and here is my offer: I promise to you my patronage and caring as long as you are faithful to me. I know, you we ren't so clever to be a leader, however, you're smart enough to be a good soldie r. All that I ask, is your submission. So, what will it be?" "I'm hurting." Jerry responded dismally. "I don't know when I'll be able to be i n good condition." Robert sighed. He touched Jerry and the teenager gasped. The pain was gone and t hese bandages and catheters fell off instantly. Unbelieving, Jerry sprang up, raced to the mirror and threw off his gown. He sta red at his beautiful, youthful body, it was healthy again and had no scars. Very, very slowly the teenager walked to Noirson and knelt: "My Lord! My life is in Your hands!" And Robert smiled with self-satisfaction. *** It had happened almost three years ago. Now nineteen years old, Jerry was the youngest member of Robert's security force

. Noirson "hired" him just four months ago and it was the first time someone had gone from being a nobody to one of the closest servants in one step. Skillful a nd smart, Jerry was the best in the training camp and his unlimited devotion to Robert was well known. Very tall, Jerry had a great body for his age, and it was gaining the hard solid ity of full manhood. In contrast, his clean-shaven face was still tender and girl-like. In the camp h e grew his hair, and now, when his thick wavy mane, the color of fallen leaves, was loose, it flowed down below his shoulders, he looked like a viking or some k ind of deity from a Scandinavian saga. But at work he always tied his hair into a ponytail. The big dark blue eyes shaded with long eyelashes, and his plum, ref ined lips made him even more attractive than before, and his natural, wild mascu line beauty impressed people.

The impression While waiting for Ron, his head partner, Jerry was lying on his bed and smoking. He did not even take off his shoes, and had lain right on the bedclothes. He ob served the maid doing the room. She did not look at Jerry, and he felt vexed. Jerry got up, came closer and lightly pinched the maid. "Nice rump, girl!" He smiled and waited for her reaction. She calmly turned to him and looked right into his eyes. "Keep your hands to yourself, boy." She retorted derisively. "If you wanna boink someone, go to the building C, fourth floor." "What if I wanna boink you?" "I'd like to see you try!" She snored. "Oh, yeah? Are you superwoman?" Jerry got angry. "I can take you with one hand!" He shouted, however, did not touch her. "Go ahead!" She challenged. "I'll not resist, you mountain of muscles! I'm not a virgin, I'll lose nothing! But you will be in deep, deep shit! Mr. Noirson prot ects all his servants, you stupid ape!" Jerry choked with rage, and who knows, what could have happened next, but in tha t moment Ron entered the room: "Let's go, partner!" "Fuck you, bitch!" Irritated, Jerry went to the door. "In your dreams, baby!" She burst out laughing. Mad, Jerry spun to her, but Ron pushed him outside: "Control yourself!" More than twice as old as Jerry, he was a little shorter than his youthful partn er, however, built more solidly. Swarthy, with black hair, Ron had a thick, care fully trimmed mustache and piercing brown eyes. He was a demon in the human form , and Robert Noirson Robert had chosen him to mentor Jerry.

"Look, pal!" Ron reproachfully shook his head. "Behaving like that will get you in big trouble one day!" "Where are we going?" Jerry wanted to change the subject. "Wherever the Master will send us." Ron smiled and said quietly, "He's going on date." "With that nunette?" Jerry giggled. "I can imagine!" He put his hands together a s for prayer and lifted his eyes. *** To his surprise she was wearing shorts and sports top. He leered at her legs as usual. Too muscular, Jerry noted. He did not like that. The waist isn't bad... Mmmmmm, great tits! What a lucky guy my Master is. Jerry thought. Interesting, C size or D? "Nice to meet you!" the girl said to him, and he finally looked at her face. Her succulent lips and golden fluffy hair made Jerry crazy. The world around him disappeared. "Are you okay?" this guy gave her such a strange glare that Mary was amazed. "Wh at's wrong?" She glanced at Robert. He did not reply, just stared at his youthful servant. Mary J. could not even imagine how she lucky was, having been under Noirson's pr otection. She would have been in grave danger if Jerry had met her just one week ago. But for him she was now taboo. The youthful security guard kept silent, and being worried, Ron gently poked him in his back. "Sorry, Miss Jablonsky!" Jerry uttered. "Too much sun today. I'm at your service !" *** Mary and Robert sat at the alley bench. Ron and Jerry placed themselves a short distance away from them to watch all approaches. "That's not fair." Jerry was talking as in delirium. "I was living in this damn city during the last four months. I could have met her first!" "Stop it, Jerry!" Ron was horrified. "She's His girl!" "I know..." Jerry moaned. "If she was even the President's girlfriend, it wouldn 't stop me! But she's His girl... If Mr. Noirson orders me to, I'll kill her, yo u, myself, my own mother, whoever! And my hand won't falter, I swear! But nobody can forbid me to wait. How long have they been dating? Just a few days! Maybe H e'll change His mind..." "Don't count on that, buddy. I know the Master too well."

"Maybe they will break up! I'll be waiting... While there is life, there is hope ..." "Yeah, correct. While there is life..." Ron sighed.

Max In the servant's bar Jerry took a beer and a snack and stared at the TV. He did not understand that he was watching. All he could think about was Mary. "Hey, Jerry!" one servant called him. "Why are you so crooked?" "Go to Hell!" Jerry snarled mechanically. He was imagining what kind of fun he c ould have with that girl. "Look, buddy, it's not good for your health. You're too young to throw down a be er every day!" "Prove it!" Jerry grinned. "In my Id I'm twenty three!" Three security guards not far away from Jerry were whispering to each other. "You're kidding, Max! Impossible!" "It's true. I'll show you. Let's go, guys, you'll see!" They moved, so that Jerry would be able to hear them. "You know, Fred," Max started loudly. "Mary Jablonskaia has a walk around her bu ilding every night..." "Oh, yeah?" Jerry credulously turned to them. "Why?" "Probably, she wants to meet you!" the servant impudently laughed right into Jer ry's face. Realizing that he had been tricked the youthful security blushed with anger, yet he was not drunk enough to lose control of himself and start a fight. He was ne w and alone. Those guys were professionals and waited for his reaction. They wer e alert and Jerry did not want to be beaten. He silently drained his glass, then got up and left the bar. Behind he heard the guffaw, but he did not look back.

The Threat Three months had passed as if only a few days. "Two hours" sometimes became a wh ole day. Noirson started to neglect his duties and his partners finally got worr ied.

*** As all wild animals Robert Noirson slept lightly, and the voices in the next roo m woke him up. "I said, you can go inside only over my dead body!" Roger Slay was hissing. "The Master is sleeping and my duty is to let him rest, no matter who wants to distu rb him!" "What the hell's going on?" wearing a dressing gown, Noirson came out of his bed room. He saw Becker, his tutor and supervisor. Stubby, but imposing and dignified, Joh n Becker was in his mid sixties. As the President of the Noirson's Corporation, he managed all business and affairs. Besides, Becker was the uncle of Robert's w ife, and Noirson got confused. "John, I'm very tired, could we talk tomorrow?" "No, my dear boy! We have to talk right now!" Slay gazed at his Master. The demon in a human body, Roger Slay, was ready to do anything for the Son of the Devil, and Robert hesitated for a second. He was so fatigued that he even thought how tempting it was to order Roger to kick John o ut of the room and go to sleep again. But his sense of duty and respect for Beck er compelled Noirson to take control of himself. "Okay, John," Robert sighed, nodded to Slay and sat on the chair. "What's the ma tter?" "Have you lost your mind?" Becker looked at his ward with rage. "When did you la st read the Report?" "Last night on my way home." "And what? Did you call? Did you fix it?" "I made a call. But sorry, I'm out of the Power for today, I'll do it tomorrow, I promise." "Again? What did you show her today? Dinosaurs? Volcanoes?" "Egypt!" Noirson tried to smile. "You know, the Sphinx..." "Silence!" Becker pounded the table. "Did you waste twenty-four hour's portion o f your Power just to impress that young thing, with whom you didn't even sleep?" "I was really close to that today..." Robert smiled and closed his eyes. *** It was an extremely hot day and they decided to go to beach. However, soon Robert understood it was a bad idea. He saw the drops of her sweat and water, and grains of sand glittered brilliantly on her almost naked body, h e lost the line and barely saved the conversation. But when the vanilla ice-cream that Mary was eating, started to melt and dripped on her breasts, Noirson said to himself: "That's it!" And they left the beach.

*** Now Robert recalled those sights and moaned with admiration and desire. "Robert, my boy, you're sick." "All work and no fun make Robert a dull boy. I'm just happy!" "Sir, business before pleasure! You are here on duty! Remember that! And my duty is to help the plenipotentiary of Satan whoever that is." "And what? John, I told you, I'm tired and awfully want to sleep! I don't unders tand your hints!" "Better if you will understand. None so deaf as those who won't hear. Okay, let' s get it straight! I have to ask you, do you really think you are irreplaceable? " The eyes of the Beast opened widely. "Is that a threat?" "No, sir, just a warning." "You don't mean it, John," Noirson asked quietly. All his drowsiness was gone at once. "Do you?" "I do mean it, sir." Noirson hung his head. "Robert, please," Becker tenderly hugged his ward. "Just be a good boy, all the pleasures on Earth and in Hell are yours!" "How about Heavenly enjoyment?" "Robert, my darling, don't fall between two stools! It's very dangerous, trust m e." Noirson did not reply. "Okay, Robert, go to bed, my boy. I love you, dear, and only wish you well." Bec ker patted Noirson's shoulders and went away. But for a long time Robert was still sitting, thinking about this conversation.

The Proposal Noirson knew that Mary had fallen for him. It was easy to make her feel love for him. And now, after Becker's threat Robert decided to take the next step. *** When Noirson offered to take Mary for a ride in his limousine she did not hesita te for long. The huge black car, as long as a winter night, impressed her. Gary, the driver, respectfully opened wide a door. Robert gallantly helped Mary get i nside.

But when the door slammed, Mary shook, she felt trapped. This was the first time they were alone together. Noirson clearly understood her concerns and sat as fa r away as was possible. *** As usual, Robert gave Mary all his attention. He asked the girl about her day, t old her about his day in a funny way. He told jokes and short stories, showed he r some tricks and carefully gave her compliments. He took the emptiness from Mary with a corsage of flowers. Although Mary saw it as a trick and it was not the first time, it impressed her again. But now she st arted playing the capricious girl. Robert smiled, woke up to her game and starte d rearranging the flowers. They played this game for almost an hour. When the game turned boring, Noirson opened the bar and poured Mary a glass with red liquid. Mary smelled it mistrustfully: "It's wine! What did you do, Robert! I'll be twenty one only in the September!" "Wine?" Noirson raised his eyebrows. "Sorry, kid." He touched the glass and the liquid changed color. Mary carefully smelled it again: "It's water! Oh, Robert, can I try to do it?" "Yep. Try to make a soda." "Dr. Pepper!" Mary closed her eyes and concentrated. Robert smacked her in her c heek. "Oh!" the girl opened her eyes. "You disturbed me! Bad boy!" "Oh, my queen! Be gracious to your slave! The doctor is here." The liquid in the glass was brown and had bubbles. Mary took a sip of this and sighed: "I wanna do it all by myself." "Maybe next time, but now, would you like to see another miracle?" Mary nodded. "Look at the window! Do you see a reflection of my car in the shop-window? Now y ou see it, now you don't." Mary gasped: the reflection disappeared. The girl felt how the car smoothly lift ed into the air and turned. Mary slid along the seat to Noirson. They embraced e ach other, and it was their first real kiss. Mary felt sweet dizziness. "Oh, Robert," she murmured. "I'm so, so happy!" "My little angel, I'm happy too... We can be happy all the time. Together." He t enderly kissed the rigid girl. "Do you understand me? Would you marry me?" Her face turned stony. She carefully extracted herself from his arms. "I had a great time, Mr. Noirson." She said coldly. "Could you just drive me hom e?" The car returned to Earth. As did Robert. He was taken aback, and he did not und erstand what was going on. He knew Mary loved him and did not expect to hear a r

efusal. He was so visibly shocked that Mary felt pity. She recalled some stuff that she heard about a male's insides. She took his hand and pressed it to her chest: "I' ll be your friend..." And added hesitatingly: "Even a girlfriend if you'll wish. If you need sex..." "I already have a girlfriend!" Robert sharply pulled his hand back. "And if I on ly want sex I use a prostitute!" Now it was Mary's turn to be amazed. Her sheepish eyes forced Noirson to make ex cuses. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry!" Robert got confused. "Forget what I said! Your absurd, v ulgar, unworthy of you offer outraged me more than your refusal!" Trembling with sobs, Mary hid her face in her hands. "Look, baby, why did you refuse?" Noirson asked tenderly. "Don't you like me? Am I too old for you?" "Oh, Robert!" Mary stopped weeping. "You talk nonsense! You're not old for me an d I... I like you... Oh, who am I kidding? I do love you, Robert Noirson. Oh, I love you so much! But you're a married man..." "Stop!" Robert grabbed her hands. "Look into my eyes. Tell me the truth. Is my m arital status the only reason for your refusal?" "Only?" Mary was amazed. "For me this reason is not just only, it's decisive!" "Come on, kitten! We're living in a civilized country. I want a divorce." "Sorry, Robert, but you know, it's not the way for me: 'What God has yoked toget her let no man put apart.'" "Listen, Mary, so many times you asked me about my life. Now I'm ready to tell y ou everything. You can't imagine what kind of abilities I have! The whole world is in my hands! "But that is the reason why an entire sect exists, whose members have sworn to k ill me. They know what there is the only one way to kill or even harm me, and it 's by using one of six special made daggers. They've tried many times! I ve captur ed these daggers and keep them in my prayer room. "About my wife... I am a businessman, honey. You know our society. You have to b e a family guy to have a good reputation. It's suspicious, if a man is still sin gle after thirty. My tutor and supervisor John Becker gave me his niece Monica a nd I was forced to marry her. We never loved each other! It's a sham marriage! I swear! She only wanted money!" "But you have a son!" "We adopted Dylon, he is nineteen now." Mary did not respond. Robert sighed and continued with a visible effort: "But I beg you, never, never you have to listen to anyone who says anything about me or my past! You know, it's possible to turn everything upside down and show it in the false light..." His voice was heavy with grief and depression, in his eyes M ary saw such a great sorrow that she promised at once: "I swear, I swear! Don't worry... Oh, please, Robert! I'll do it, honest."

He took her hands. Noirson was thinking. Having the wisdom of thousand of years experience he was able to find an exit in almost any situation, and now a new id ea came upon to him. "Mary, my little flower, would you be my official fiance?" Robert asked. "My marr iage is just civil, but I'd like to register the relationship with you in the ch urch. If you agree, I promise, I swear, not to pressure you for sex or marriage! But I want to have rights on you..." Noirson stopped short and dared to use eve n the word that he was afraid the most. "I want to pronounce you as mine in fron t of the people and God... If you refuse this proposal too, I'll kill myself!" R obert felt it sounded too dramatic, and he thought he overdid it. But the young girl might fall for this. "Look," Mary's face was pale. "You said so much, I need to think about it, okay? " "Okay," Robert sighed. "Would you like to look at the dagger?" "No!" Mary screamed, but thought about it and changed her mind. "Yes, show me." Noirson opened the safe and took the dagger out. "Be careful," He warned. "Don't touch the blade. It's extremely sharp." Mary gasped. The size of the dagger shocked the sensitive girl. The blade was lo nger than ten inches. "Jesus Christ..." Mary moaned. She felt dizzy and dropped the dagger. Noirson picked it up and put it back in the safe. The girl threw himself to Robe rt and emotionally embraced him. She was shaken. *** The limousine stopped at a red light. Suddenly Mary heard screams and looked thr ough the window. A blue car swept past by their car. Pedestrians on the crosswal k dispersed in all directions. But one young man was not quick enough. The car h it him and his body rolled towards the buildings. The blue car did not stop. Forgetting everything, Mary got out of the limousine and ran to the man. He was lying near a wall. He was wearing a cheap, but neat business suit that was now s pattered with blood. He was still holding his briefcase. He was bleeding from hi s nose and ears. Mary tried to check his pulse. His head lay at an unnatural angle and the girl u nderstood it meant a broken neck. Mary turned her face and saw Noirson. He slowl y came through the crowd. "Oh, Robert! It's so awful!" Mary sighed. "He's gone..." "I know him... Oh, my Gosh! I knew him!" a fat lady said. "He was my neighbor, L loyd Puling. Oh, his wife, Jessica... Poor one! And his son, he's just four! Eve ry evening the boy met his father after work, he climbed on him like a little mo nkey...Oh, the poor guy..." Mary looked at Robert with tears in her eyes. Suddenly he smiled. "Step back everybody!" his deep low voice silenced everyone. The crowd stepped b ack.

Robert raised both his hands: "My beloved Father, glorify your name!" A monstrous, mighty voice answered him: "I have glorified it and will glorify it again. You are my Son, the beloved, that whom I have approved." Some people screamed, and almost all knelt. "This voice has occurred, not for my sake, but for your sakes." Noirson continue d to quote the bible. He stepped forward and touched the dead man. "Young man, I say to you, get up!" Everybody gasped when the man moved, sat up and rubbed his head: "What happened? " The crowd gasped as one and then cheered. But Robert and Mary saw only each othe r. " I'll be Your fiance," Mary was talking as if in a trance. "I'll be Your wife. I 'll do anything You wish..."

Like Cinderella They returned to the car. Mary was silent for a few minutes then asked: "Can you resuscitate everybody?" "Except those who have been burnt to death. However, I can cure any burns or sca lds." "Are you... Are you... "Mary panted and started to quote the Bible: "'Really, th e One... Or is there a different one, for whom we should wait?'" "'The blind are receiving sight," smiling smugly, Robert continued the quotation . "The dead are being raised up.' Is that enough for you?" "I can't believe," Mary was talking with unlimited pride. "You chose me! Of cour se, I'm sinless, but such a Honor..." "Could you stop talking for a while?" Mary submissively became silent. "What time is it?" Robert looked at his watch, thought for a few seconds and con tinued. "Okay, I hope we have enough time. Listen, Mary, we can go to the church right now, and after our betrothal we need to be separated for a while... By th e way, do you know Deborah Perkiness? She goes by the last name Niekamp now." "Yes, she was on our team, but I've never met her personally." "No matter, we are good friends. She invited me to her party tonight and I have additional invitation for a partner. Try to guess who I'm going to bring?" "Your wife?"

"No, my fiance, the girl whom I love so much. You. Here's your invitation." Mary gasped, she felt like Cinderella. "You should go there first. I have some business to attend to. I'll come later." "I don't have a 'good' dress." "There is your dress." Robert held out a box. "After church I'll drop you off, y ou'll have to change into your dress and rent a car." Noirson gave Mary a credit card. "Use it. It's yours now." "How about your wife? What's her name? Monica?" "Of course, she won't come, don't worry, sweetie. What time does the party start ? Ah, 7:30. I hope we can make it." Mary did not complain. She promised to be obedient and listen to Robert always a nd everywhere. *** But she broke her word only a few hours later. She did not rent a car. She calle d a taxi. When they came closer to the gate the cab driver looked back at Mary and asked d oubtfully: "Are you sure, young lady? Is this the place you're looking for?" "Did you check the address?" "Yep, it's the same... Okay, let's try." The surprised security guard took her invitation with suspicion. He made a call and despite her self-confidence Mary got worried. Only when the gate opened and the cab smoothly moved along the driveway, the gir l sighed with relief and put on her jewelry. *** "Mary? Mary J.? Is it really you?" The smiling Deborah greeted her. "Of course, I was just wondering who'd come in a cab..." "Why not?" Mary asked surprised. "My dear," Deborah said quietly. "Nobody comes a reception like mine in public t ransport. It's just improper. You could wear jeans and have the same effect." Mary's face went red. "It's okay, hon, I do understand. It's your first time, isn't it? By the way, ho w did you get the invitation?" "Try to guess!" "It's easy. Your 'big catch', your lover gave it to you, didn't he?" "We're not lovers," Mary retorted calmly. "Of course, of course! The man who could give a dress worth eight grand certainl

y couldn't be a lover." "What?" Wide-eyed Mary gasped. "Does my dress cost eight thousand bucks?" "Relax, dolly, your earrings cost more." "The jewels of course, but a dress?" "Don't worry, babe, some collection dresses can be much more expensive." Deborah laughed. "Poor Laura, she said to me just a few minutes ago how she wanted to b uy this dress, but someone already bought it. Now I know who it was. Let's go, l et's go! It's going to kill her!" Mary was upset. She felt pity for Laura. "But I can't undress, can I?" Mary thou ght as she calmly walked with Deborah.

Disapproval When the limousine stopped, Noirson rushed out and collided with a tall young at hlete on the steps. It was Dylon Noirson, his adopted godson. Robert did not just love him, he adore d him. And knowing that, Dylon used the money and the Power of his godfather as if it were his own. "Watch it!" Dylon Noirson pushed Robert. "Where were you? We tried to find you.. . Oh, Devil! What happened? What are you so happy about? Did you finally fuck he r?" "Better, my poor debauched boy! I'm going to marry her! She loves me, she agreed !" "Are you mental?" Dylon gasped. "No, it's impossible! Tell me you're just teasin g me, aren't you?" "You're human," Robert sighed sadly. "You can never understand me. Look, Dylon, I have a lot of work to do. See you later!" And he left a shocked Dylon standing on the steps. *** Robert finished his work at 5:12 p.m. He was so tired, he could barely get to hi s bedroom, and when he did he kicked off his shoes, dropped his clothes on the f loor and took a shower. The icy-cold water rejuvenated him and filled him with newfound strength. When Robert came out, Roger Slay threw a bathrobe over the shoulders of his Mast er and turned the water off. Noirson strolled back into his bedroom and fell int o an armchair. "Roger," Noirson was smirking. "My dear Roger! I'm so happy! Are you happy for m e?"

But the servant looked at his Master with so such a depression that the smile di ed on Robert's lips: "What's wrong, Roger?" "I'm not happy, sir," the valet answered sadly. "Nobody's happy, but you." "Don't play the fool, Roger! You are not human, you should understand me!" "Sir, wake up, please! She is just a clone! Even twins could not be same! Mary J ablonskaia is a usual young thing, smug, rude and impudent!" "Hah! Of course, she's not the same, she's much better!" Drunk with emotions, No irson smiled admiringly. "Yes, she's rude, but with whom has she communicated al l her life? With hypocritical corrupt tutors! With the same lost embittered orph ans! With impudent girls from rich families! I was even pleasantly surprised, be cause, she's a power girl, they didn't crush her soul! She doesn't need me vital ly, she's capable of living without me. And this is why I appreciate her feeling s to me! She'll never be a burden! We'll fight together, side-by-side! That dare -devil will be a trusty comrade-in-arms!" "'Comrade'?" Slay was amazed. "The day that Catholic fosterling discovers, who y ou really are, she'll kill you!" "Shut up!" Robert lost his patience. "You're a fool! You don't understand a thin g! Mind your own business! Get me a suit, I'm going to the party!" Slay bowed low and went to the closet. *** Noirson was putting on his pants when John Becker burst into the dressing room. "What the hell's going on?" He screamed. "Why can't Monica go?!" "Don't shout at me!" Robert's metallic voice forced Becker to quiet down. John took a breath and repeated calmly: "Why can't Monica go?" "That's better," Noirson clasped the belt. "She can't come, because I don't want to see her. I'm going to divorce her." Becker stared at Robert. "What's the matter, John? I do remember our contract has a paragraph about a div orce. She'll get money, I'll marry Mary." Noirson burst out laughing. Slay gave him a shirt. Robert pulled it on and sang in his hoarse bass voice, "Marry-Mary! Merry-marry!" "Fuck that bullshit off!" Becker looked at Noirson with rage. "You can't marry t hat monastic slut!" "First," Robert replied haughtily. "I can do whatever I want. And second, watch your mouth when you're talking about my fiance!" "What?" Becker's face turned pale. "Is that true? Dylon told me, but I just coul dn't believe it!" "Yep, we were engaged at 2:03 p.m. And guess what? Jim Spencer did it." "Robert, my boy!" Becker gasped with fear. "What have you done? Jim's our man, b ut he's a real priest! Only humans can't understand what kind of responsibility

they have after a betrothal!" "I'm not human," Noirson replied calmly. Roger helped his Master with his jacket . "And I do understand." Becker nervously took out a cigar. "Don't smoke in my rooms!" Angrily John shoved the cigar in his pocket. Slay held out ties and Robert started choose a tie to match his suit. Suddenly, he intercepted Becker's glance in the mirror. It was a murderer's glare. Noirson spun to John: "Don't even think about it!" The face of the Beast was glo wing with inhuman madness. "What? Robert, dear, what do you mean?" "I know your thoughts!" Noirson was trembling. "If you even try to kill her I'll summon my Father! He approved and blessed my choice!" "As you wish, Your Worship!" Becker knelt. Robert helped him to get up: "Remembe r, John, and tell everybody. Let's stay friends, okay?" Becker bowed and went away. The high spirits left Noirson. He took the first tie and mechanically tied it up . *** "You lousy moron!" Furious Monica ran into the room as mad as a tigress in battl e. "Why didn't you tell me about Deborah's reception, you idiot?" Thirty-five years old, tall, slim and graceful Monica Noirson was very beautiful , but Robert looked at his wife with vexation and spite: "Monica, I just wanted. .." "Shut up, your stupid chatter! I'm fed up with your dull twaddle!" "Listen to me, brawler!" "No, you, nobody, listen to me! Do you think you could just pay me money and thr ow me out as if I was a prostitute?" "You are worse than a prostitute, you brazen face!" "Look who's talking!" Monica smiled scornfully. "You're a fool, Robert Noirson! You were always a jerk!" And she went away. Exhausted, Noirson sat down on a stool. He tried to light a cigarette, but his h ands were still shaking with anger. He thought about Mary, yet even those though ts could not please him. Robert wearily plodded to his bedroom. He did not even try to take off his cloth es, just flopped down on the bed and turned the TV on. Noirson was too tired. He decided not to go to the stupid party. Tomorrow he would just tell Mary some li e about him being busy and not being able to get away.

If that would be necessary. Robert yawned and dozed off. *** "Master," Slay carefully touched Noirson's shoulder. "Do you hear me? I'm sorry to disturb you. I just wanted to check with you to make sure?" Robert looked at him sleepily. "Your wife took a car and drove away..." "And what?" Noirson yawned. "She can go wherever she wants. I don't care." "Sir, she dressed up and I'm afraid she's gone to the party. To Deborah Niekamp' s, sir. Is it okay?" For a few seconds Robert was indifferently looking at Roger. Suddenly, Noirson r ealized what his servant had said. "Oh, shit!" Robert sprang up. "Get a car, hurry up! Oh, crap..."

The reception Mary was enjoying the party. New people, new impressions... Only one thought made Mary a little upset. Robert had not arrived yet and Mary w as wondering: will he come at all? But it was not very important. Mary J. was not shy and did not even try to pretend that she had any experience. When the hostess Deborah Niekamp offered to play cards, Mary answered calmly: " I don't know how to play, sorry." Her frankness impressed the women, and they decided to teach her. "But anyway, Mary, you can't win," Deborah winked. "Lucky at love, unlucky in ca rds." In the middle of the game Mary felt Deborah gently kick her under the table. At first Mary did not understand what she meant. "Should I play a queen?" Mary asked and lifted up her eyes. She saw Monica Noirs on and fell silent. "Oh, Monica, good evening!" Laura smiled malevolently. "Let me introduce you to Mary. This is Monica Noirson, the wife of Robert and this is Robert's... Ah, wha t's the word?" "That word," Monica said through clenched teeth. "Can not be used in respectable society." Mary threw the cards down. "What do you want?" "I want to talk to you. Seriously, baby." "Of course, Mrs. Noirson!" Mary got up from the table. "Excuse me, ladies."

They moved aside. Minute Mary was shorter than Monica, by at least nine inches, but she daringly glared at her face. For the first time in her life the girl fel t irresistible hatred. That woman had a man, whom she, Mary, loved selflessly; R obert's words sounded into her mind: 'She only wanted money!' And having been ra cked with jealousy, the girl did not think, was that true or not. "Listen to me, you clever whore!" Monica started with spite. "You can have that jerk, I don't care! But I'll get my money, be sure!" "Mrs. Noirson! If I marry him it will be for Love, not for money!" "Give me a break, babe! What can make you attracted to him except money? He's mo re than twice as old as you!" "It doesn't matter." "May be now. A few years later, when you want sex, and he won't be able to give it to you, you'll get a young lover!" Mary span around and quickly went to the exit and in the entrance door she colli ded with Robert. "Mary!" seeing her tears, Noirson gasped realizing he was late. Sobbing, the gir l ran away. Robert stared at his wife, walking towards him. She was smiling, but when she went closer and saw the look on his face her grin went out. Not understanding what was going on, Monica was really terrified. She had never seen her husband so mad. Uncle John warned her many times not to irritate Noirso n. But she did not believe him; she took the indifference of her husband as weak ness and cowardice. Only now Monica did realize how wrong she was. "You will pay for that, bitch!" he hissed to her very quietly. "Oh, you'll be ve ry, very sorry!" He turned around and went to the exit, and the scared Monica da red not to follow him.

Chapter Two: The scandal The death of Monica It had been a long day. The lesson neared the end and Mary J. was feeling exhausted. All her thoughts we re for the coming date with Robert, but her pupils were tired and capricious, th ey did not pay attention and Mary strained every nerve to control them and herse lf. However, everything has an end. Mary was taking a shower when she heard the phone ringing. She flung herself out of the stall and grabbed the receiver: "Hello?" "Hi, honey!" Robert's voice sounded with deep sadness. "I'm really sorry, but I can't come." Mary's high spirits left her. "Okay," She gulped. "Thanks for your call. How are you today?"

"Mary, I'm calling you from my car. I had a conference, when I was informed... M y wife is dead." Mary gasped and sat on the stool: "What happened to her?" "She was taking a cruise on our yacht when a passing oil tanker had sprung a lea k. The spilled oil caught on fire. The ship was surrounded by burning oil and sa nk with everyone on board." Feeling dizzy, Mary closed her eyes. "Definitely," She pronounced solemnly. "It was an act of God's wrath!" "Oh..." Robert choked. "Well, I'm glad that you're thinking that way. I'm just a fraid some reporters will start to bother you. Please, don't talk with these vul tures, silence is golden. Let me disentangle this mess, okay?" "Gotcha, no comments." Mary smiled. She had no pity to Monica. Robert was free n ow and Mary felt happy.

The treaty "Now it's personal." Becker's gloomy face contorted with frenzy and sorrow. Reca lling yesterday's events he closed his eyes for a second. *** Distracted with grief, he burst into Noirson's office. John probably looked scar y, because Robert sprang up and recoiled towards the wall. He gazed at Becker's hands and John understood, Noirson was afraid that he, John, was going to use a dagger for revenge of his niece's murder. Like an any trapped animal Robert was horrified and angry. He started justifying himself and threatening his tutor. His voice trembled with fear and spite. But the tragedy had crushed Becker, and he burst into tears. Noirson now looked upset and confused. "I'm really sorry, John," Robert hugged his tutor, and blurted out. "I had no ch oice..." Mad, Becker pushed his ward away and ran from the office. *** "Okay, Dylon, now I'm ready!" John Becker drew in a deep breath and looked at Dy lon Noirson. "Tell us your plan." The partners listened very attentively. "It will not stop Him." Anhella said sadly. This Austrian girl was more than jus t a personal secretary to Noirson, her unlimited love for him was well known to the partners. The appearance of Anhella Vixen corresponded with her name exactly. Her red hair

, green cold eyes and refined features of her pretty, but cruel face were making her look like a fox. "You're right, honey." Dylon Noirson sighed with deep compassion. "Nothing can s top Him if He's already made a decision. Sweetheart, Robert is such a fool. If I ever meet a girl like you, I'll marry her the same day." He took her hand, but Anhella sharply pulled it back: "I'm not in the mood for j okes!" "I'm not joking," Dylon Noirson pronounced very seriously. "And you know that." "Look, Dylon, you're just His son for me! When will you understand that?" "Don't say such a nonsense! You and I are the same age!" "I'm more than six years older than you!" "Big deal!" "Enough!" Becker pounded the table. "You love birds can coo later! I came here, looking for revenge, not to listen to love songs! Dylon! Except troubles for us, what's the point of your plan?" "Well, it'll be a good lesson for that brash young thing..." Dylon Noirson shudd ered with hatred. "You know what? I sent a man to talk to her. Just talk! That b itch..." "Dylon!" Becker warned. "Master's commands are obligatory for everybody!" "Go to Hell!" Dylon Noirson shouted. "She called my man names, mocked him and fi nally kicked him out of her apartment..." "She ejected your man?" Becker shook his head. "Wow! She's a power girl, eh? Tha t poor guy! Who's this loser that's been sent?" "It's not funny, Raymond's my best servant!" "In that case, I'm not surprised. Like master, like servant." Becker grinned. "I t was really stupid to send that British lord to talk with that Russian gangster -girl! But you always were a fool, young boy." "And you're an old fool," Dylon spat out his words. "She terminated your niece a nd you don't wanna fight back?" "I don't want a "ride to Hell", you stupid punk!" "Quit it!" Anhella interrupted them angrily. "Why can't you two talk without qua rreling? John, Robert respects and appreciates you. Dylon, Robert loves you as h is own son. For me it doesn't matter what the Master is going to do with me. Oh, Devil! How I hate her! The only reason I haven't murdered her yet is that I don 't want to lose Robert's favor. Well, He prohibited anyone to kill her, so we wo n't." Anhella smiled maliciously. "I agree with your plan, Dylon! You can count on me! John?" "Deal!" Becker lit a cigar. "They both deserve punishment. Do it, boy!"

Raymond Sam Swigart was in his favorite bar. He drank, watched TV and rested. Sam looked plain, and usually he spent the whole evening alone. But not today: t wo men sat down next to him, one on either side. Surprised, Swigart glanced aska nce at them. One of them looked like a real gorilla, and they both were dressed too respectable for a bar like this. "Good evening, Sam." the 'human one' said with a British accent. "Yeah, good ... evening." Swigart wondered how this guy knew his name, but he wa s afraid to ask. He did not dare to ignore the monster on the left stool who app eared able to kill him in one move, and Sam clearly realized that. "I'm Raymond," the 'human' introduced himself. "This is Doug." Gorilla-man nodded and Swigart bowed. Raymond attentively looked at Sam. Only a week ago the incident had happened, and Raymond desired revenge. *** Living in this country, Raymond had gotten bad treatment from yankees before. Bu t that girl had no right to treat him like that. She was born on the other side of the ocean, like Raymond was, and her only advantage was that she was a baby w hen she came here, and she spoke without an accent. Raymond was a true gentleman, and when she started calling him names like a stre et punk girl, he was taken aback. And fighting was not his job either. He was li ke a brain for Dylon Noirson, his helper and consultant. Of course, in a difficu lt situation, he was able to protect his Master, maybe not as a professional bod yguard could, but not bad anyway. However, he had no right to hit that insolent pudgy girl. He did not expect her to be so well trained and strong. She mocked h im to her heart's content, and after, she just tossed him from her damn apartmen t. Raymond still got mad all the time, recalling how he slid along the corridor on his own face. He sat and looked back at her with amazement. He could not understand how he, a forty-five years old man, had been thrown away by a small girl, who had just com e of age. "If I see you next time, I'll call the police!" She yelled and slammed the door. Raymond was so angry that his hand involuntarily moved to his gun. He was so out raged, he was not even afraid of a "ride to Hell". But he restrained himself. He was the official plenipotentiary of Dylon Noirson, he idolized his Master and d id not want any trouble for him. For Dylon, Raymond was ready to go through any torment or torture. Not looking at the alarmed security guard, Raymond silently got up and left the campus. This plan of revenge came to Raymond on his way home, and now he was close to pu tting it into effect. *** "I'm just interested," Raymond continued. "Was that your car? The light blue Bui ck?"

Sam choked. "What do you mean 'was'?" He gasped. "Forget that banger! Look out the window." Swigart looked. Oh, it was the car from his dreams: a red sports convertible. "Here are the papers." Unbelieving, Sam checked out the papers. All was correct. He was the owner of th is fantastic new car. Suddenly the papers disappeared. Swigart uttered a cry of disappointment. "Look, mate, you are not stupid," Raymond smiled. "Do a job for us and this car is yours. The car, a lot of money, and of course, we'll pay any bail for you." "Bail?" Sam gasped. "What exactly is the 'job'?" Swigart asked. And added : "I'v e never had a problem with the law before." "It's good, because, I have some pictures," Raymond stretched out an envelope. " Check it out!" And Raymond calmly lit a cigarette. Sam opened the envelope. His hands shook. It was pictures of him. How he abducted. How he raped. How he t ormented. How he murdered. How he was hiding bodies. All his actions. "How did you discover that?" Swigart mumbled. "How did you do that?" He fell int o a dispirited silence. "It's none of your business," Raymond replied sternly. "By the way, did you ever have anal sex?" "What do you mean?" Terrified, Sam thought that guy wants to have him. "I'm not gay!" "I mean with a female." "Fuck is fuck," Swigart shrugged his shoulders. "Okay," Raymond looked around and continued. "This is your task: we'll give you a girl and instructions for what you have to do. After this is done you can get that car plus eighty thousand dollars, cash, of course." "One hundred!" Sam licked his lips. "I want one hundred grand!" Raymond looked at Doug. Gorilla-man moved. "Just kidding!" Swigart damned his greediness. "Come on, guys, I was just kiddin g!" Doug lifted a briefcase, put it on the counter and unlocked it. Sam opened the c over very carefully. It was money. Cash. Twenty dollar's bills. Not very new. No t very ragged. Swigart closed the briefcase. He attentively looked at Raymond: "What's the catc h?" "Well, that girl has a fianc," Raymond inhaled. "After the 'job' is done, you'll need to hide, for your own safety. We'll give you new Ids, so you'll be able to start new life."

"Wow! Look, man, eighty grand's not a big money to start a new life. Gimme one h undred and I'll do it. I'll refuse if you won't pay!" "All right," Raymond sighed. "Anyway, your car is gone and you need a ride. If y ou did not like the first car, would you like to choose another?" Sam looked through the window. His face went pale: "But...this... This is a poli ce car." "Precisely." For a few minutes Swigart sat there, thinking silently. "It looks, I have no choice," He summed up finally. "Of course, you have," Raymond smiled. "Just choose a car for the ride. That's e asy!" "Okay," Sam sighed. "What exactly do I have to do?"

The scandal That night Mary was awakened when many hands grabbed her body, legs and arms. So mebody put a gas-mask on her before she was able to scream. Mary saw about ten m en in her room. All were wearing masks. They held her gently, but tightly, she c ould not even move. One man was rummaging near her bureau. Mary heard how he put some objects on the table and in the drawers. Another man gave her a few injections. Then he checked Mary as a gynecologist wo uld. Suddenly, Mary heard the sound of the intercom. The man near the door pushed the button. "He opened the gate," Mary understood. "What's going on? He opened the door of t he building! What's next? Who's coming here?" Finally she saw that man. He went inside the room, and he was the only one witho ut a mask. He brought flowers. He put them into the vase and started to undress. "Be careful," one of the 'masks' warned. "She really is a virgin. Here's the lub ricant." "He's gonna rape me!" Mary was horrified. "Oh, dear God! Please, don't let it ha ppen!" She started to struggle with tenfold strength. It was useless. Their hand s were as strong as stone. The gas mask muffled all her sounds. He was very gentle, but Mary was shocked with the way that man used her. She thought another man would do the same things, but he just closed the air-val ve of the gas-mask.

When she stopped wriggling the man hastily took the gas-mask away and checked Ma ry's pulse. He signaled and the men in the masks disappeared. *** Mary barely opened her eyes, and at first, she thought she had a nightmare. Suddenly, she realized that her room was lit and full of people. Mary saw Father Frank, Mother Augusta, security, policemen and even a few reporters. She discov ered herself in the embraces of a stranger. She gasped and pushed him away. "Arrest him!" Mary cried. "Arrest them all!" "What are you talking about?" Father Frank asked angrily. "He is the only one he re, but it's more than enough!" "What a shame for our orphanage!" Mother Augusta shook her head. "He raped me!" Confused, Mary looked around. "Oh, Mary! That's not fair! You said we could have anal sex, 'cause you wanna ke ep your virginity!" the stranger gasped. "O dear, how could you? I was obedient. .." "Did you have sex with this man?" The reporters asked at once. "If he really raped you, why did you not call security?" "Is he your boyfriend? What about Robert Noirson?" "How long have you been dating?" "I've never seen him before!" Mary was shaken. "I even don't know his name!" "How often do you have sex with a man whose name you didn't know?" one of the re porters asked. Shocked, Mary did not respond. One policeman stepped to the Father Frank and whispered something into his ear. The priest threw his arms up. Together they started to drive the reporters away. "Drugs?" one excited reporter plunged to the bureau. "Officer, are there really drugs? What kind are they?" Other reporters followed him, one grabbed Mary's hand and before the girl realiz ed, he took a picture of the injection marks on her arm. Screaming, Mary pulled her hand back. Mother Augusta and some of the security tr ied to block Mary from the other reporters. Keeping her silence, Mary J. just sat stock-still on the bed. She had no idea ho w to explain what was happened. *** On the next morning when Robert woke up, he was feeling very happy. He was in lo ve and thinking about Mary. He called Slay. But nobody came. It surprised Robert. He turned on the TV and wa nted to call a servant again, but he had no time: it was the news report.

About her. Confounded, Noirson changed channels... *** The servants were waiting behind the door of Robert's bedroom. They heard Noirso n burst out in curses and sounds like explosion, when he broke TV. Robert made a call to his best lawyer and came to help Mary. She was arrested on suspicion of being involved in the drug trade. Sam Swigart had been released on bail.

Cleaning Mary Jablonskaia was sitting in solitary. From time to time she looked at the bars and could not believe her eyes. All her life Mary had respected the law and she never expected to be in a situation lik e this. Mary had the right to one call, but she refused. She had no family or lawyer, an d she did not dare to call Robert. *** Yet when she heard sounds of steps and voices, and saw her fianc she was not very surprised, but almost happy. Noirson had stood for her so many times, and she h oped he was able to help her now. Without a word Robert entered the cell, sat down and seated Mary on his lap: "Te ll me everything, dear." Mary could not recognize Noirson's voice contorting with torment. She knew that the pain for someone you love, is far worse than pain for yourself. She felt pit y for her fianc and while telling her story she only gave him the necessary facts , without going into details. She was controlling herself, and she did not weep, and she did not say a word about her feelings. "I don't understand, how it could possibly happen." She finished. "But I do." Robert replied very slowly. Mary wanted to ask him, but she had no time. The detective entered the cell and shook Mary's hand: "Miss Jablonskaia, please, take our sincere apologies! We've just received the results from the lab... Why didn't you say, it was a special p owder for treatment your feet, not drugs?" "I'd like to see, how smart you would be after having been woken at 2 a.m." Noir son smiled sadly. "Can I see your arm, please?" Mary slowly beckoned her hand. The detective checked her skin and quietly cursed :

"Damn! It's just birthmarks! Oh, Miss Jablonskaia, I'm so sorry about this mista ke and apologize for any misunderstanding!" "Only he who is lifeless is faultless" Noirson got up. "Let's get out of here, s weetheart!" *** When Robert and Mary went outside reporters flung themselves at them and asked l ots of questions. The bodyguards had difficulty holding back the crowd and makin g a path to Noirson's car. "I'm innocent!" Mary cried out. "I told you, I was innocent!" "What about your boyfriend Sam Swigart?" "You damn vultures!" Mary squealed. "He's not my boyfriend!" "Is Sam Swigart your 'client'?" Mary blushed and burst into tears, and mad Robert barely restrained himself, but he noted that reporter and he would "work" with him later. They finally reached the car, quickly got inside, and the limousine accelerated away. *** "Oh, my Father!" Noirson shook his head. Mary was only able to sob. "Honey," Robert addressed her. "I'll drop you off at the campus. Take your stuff , you have to move! This place is not safe enough! I'll give you two of my men, you know them, Ron and Jerry. Do you remember them?" Mary nodded. "They are both professionals, you have to listen to their instructions just as i f they were mine. I'll prepare an apartment for you and I'll give you a special car that can't be burnt. My butterfly! I love you! I don't want to lose you!" Mary embraced her fianc and started to calm down.

Jerry and Ron Noirson confronted his partners. "Okay, who did it?" Robert pounded the desk. "I know it was you! Who organized i t? Whose idea was it?" The partners exchanged glances, and everybody looked at Dylon Noirson. "Dad," He started very carefully. "We just tried to help you. She's dangerous. Y ou lost your mind..."

"I'm going to marry her anyway." Robert interrupted Dylon. "Son, this is my firs t and last warning: only I may dispose of Mary. She is my property. And I'm goin g to protect her." *** The bodyguards got up and move towards Noirson as he entered the room. "Ron, Jerry, you are now at Miss Maria Jablonskaia's disposal..." "What?" excited, Jerry could not believe his ears. "Are You ordering to us to be her personal bodyguards? Are You ordering it to us?" Robert arrogantly turned his head and looked not at Jerry, but at his partner: " Ron, is Jerry drunk on his shift?" "No, sir..." Ron punched Jerry in his ribs and whispered with anger. "Shut up, y ou idiot! Shut up, right now!" He turned to Noirson again: "No, Master, he's sob er now. I'm controlling that, don't worry." "It's you who should be worried, Ron." Robert's voice was calm. "It's your respo nsibility to keep that mad puppy on a leash. Contact Slay to get a car. Here is the address..." "Sir, are you sure this is a good idea?" "What are you talking about!" Jerry shouted at his partner. "Shut up, Jerry!" Noirson stared at his servants. "I don't have to explain my de cisions, Ron! What the hell's going on? Did you both crack or what? Jerry! What' s the matter? Don't you like my order?" "My Lord, my life's in Your hands!" "And better for you to remember that, Jerry! Okay, enough talk! Move right now! I'll check you out this evening." And Noirson left the room. "Ron," Jerry showed a drunken smile. "Pinch me! It's just a dream, isn't it?" Ron hit the youth in the face with the back of his hand. Hurt, Jerry gasped, loo ked at his partner and wiped the blood off his lips. "Is that the answer for you?" Ron asked sternly. "It's not a joke, buddy! I have a pretty bad feeling! Be sure, I'll keep my eyes on you! Let's go! And don't be in a hurry to go to Hell! Anyway, you'll get there sooner or later!" Jerry submissively followed his partner.

Lilitta Sam Swigart swept past the sign: "Welcome to California!" and he smiled. It had taken him three days of driving and finally he had reached the State of h is dreams. He had not thought yet about what he was going to do here, but he was almost happy: new car, new name, a lot of money; new life!

For complete happiness he needed just one more thing. However, he was warned tha t every hitchhiker, female especially, could be a trap, and he did not want to t ake any risk. *** That salesgirl at the gas station asked nothing. Usually Sam did not like brunet tes, however, she had a great body and he noted it. Swigart filled up his car, took some cash and went to the cashier. The salesgirl indifferently packed his purchases. But Sam saw how she glanced at his car and she sighed. "Wanna ride?" Swigart leered at the girl and touched her hand. Her skin was soft and hot. Sam liked it. The girl stared at him with surprise and laughed: "And lose my job? Thanks a lot !" "'Poor Cinderella was working and working and had no fun.'" Swigart smiled. "A b eauty such as you deserves a better life." "And you are the charming prince who wishes to marry the lady whose foot fits th e glass slipper." She bantered. Suddenly she put her bare foot on the desk: "Can I try?" Sam gasped. He had never seen so wonderful leg as she had. A tiny foot and well shaped calf, smooth knee. She smelt like the grass in a deep forest. Swigart fel t that he was starting to lose control of himself. He had never been so excited. "Come on, girl," He licked his lips and looked askance at the surveillance camer a. "Don't lose your chance. Maybe you're afraid to upset your boyfriend?" "We broke up three months ago," She put her foot down. "Ah, what the heck! Let's roll!" "Yes!" They laughed and ran to the car. *** In the car they were talking "dirty" as if they were old lovers and Sam was plea santly surprised that she loved the same things that he loved. It was getting dark, and they decided to stop for the night. Swigart was not abl e to wait any longer. He turned into the first motel. Tomorrow, when they have m ore time, he will find some grand hotel to impress her and for his own pleasure, but to spend just one night in a cheap motel was okay too. Sam reserved a room then parked the car in front of the building, got out and un locked the door. Suddenly the girl pushed him inside with unexpected power. Swigart fell down and rolled head over heels. "What the hell are you doing, bitch?" He shouted and sat. He gasped with shock. It was not a motel room.

The huge hall was lit with a deadly green light. Sam did not see any lamps and i t looked like the walls were glowing. A man was sitting in the armchair in front of Sam. A few men were standing behind him. The man was smoking and slowly inha ling. "Gracias, Lilitta ! Muy buen trabajo!" He said with a low voice. "Thank you, Lilitta! It was a good job!" / Spanish Lilitta was Anhella's helper and Robert Noirson had often used that hot Mexican girl for such "missions". Sam looked back. The girl was smiling with satisfaction. "You lured me, bitch!" Swigart rushed toward at her, but Lilitta kicked him so f ast and directly that doubling over in agony, Sam collapsed. "Te aventaste, hermana!" the man in the chair laughed. ~ "Nice job, sis!" / Mexican slang "You're stupid, bird-brain!" He scornfully looked at Swigart. "I knew that you'r e stupid. It's too late to lock the stable door when the horse has bolted!" "Please, I have money!" Sam could barely sit. "Take the car, take the money! I w on't report it to the cops, I swear! Just let me go, please..." "How much do you have?" "Sixty thousand! Please..." "Where and when did you waste twenty grand?" the man asked surprisingly. Sam gasped: "Oh, my... It's you! Are you?" He fell silence. "Yes. I'm her fianc. You were warned." "Please!" Swigart crept toward Robert. "I didn't wanna do that! I swear! I was f orced!" "Oh, really? But who forced you to murder those girls before?" "The Devil forced me!" Robert rushed to Sam and kicked him in the chin. Swigart flew into the wall and fainted. Noirson made Sam regain consciousness with quick magical motion. Swigar t looked at him and burst into tears. "I am the Son of the Devil!" Robert pronounced with pride. "And I know He never forces people to do such things! You, humans, have to be responsible for your ow n crap and do not blame Satan!" "I'm sorry!" The broken jaw did not allow Sam to talk clearly. "I'll do anything ! Please, please, don't kill me!" "How many girls begged you as you are begging me now? You did not take pity on t hem, why should I pity you?" Noirson inhaled. "As you sow, so shall mow, you poo r nobody! I'll send you to Hell... Alive. And you'll see the things are much wor se than death. You will ask for death. You will beg for it! But you'll not get i t until I wish it for!"

Robert moved his hand. Sam Swigart screamed desperately and disappeared.

Sam Swigart In the salon of her new apartment Mary was sitting on the couch, knitting and wa tching TV. Jerry made himself comfortable on the next chair and observed at his ward-girl. *** It was only one week, during which Jerry and Ron were living in the same apartme nt as Mary Jablonskaia, and just that one week, changed Jerry's whole life. He fell in Love. Forbidden fruit is always the sweetest, however, now it was much more than just desire. Ron was the first to notice the changes. He tried to talk about that with his Master, but Noirson just showed him a myste rious smile: "I'm not blind, my friend, don't worry." Ron tried to reason with his youthful partner. It was too late. Overflowing with feelings, the youth was as if he was drunk all time and did not listen to a thing. *** Mary and Jerry heard a light knock, looked at the door, and the girl smiled when she saw it was Robert. Standing behind him, Ron waved to Jerry. The youth sighe d, got up and left the room. Noirson entered, sat down by Mary's side and tenderly embraced her: "How are you , my bunny-rabbit?" "I'm fine, honey." Mary was smiling. She put her head on Robert's shoulder. "Can I change the channel?" Noirson asked. "I want to show you something." The girl nodded. Without any remote Robert changed the channel. Mary flinched when she saw Sam Swigart. He was cuffed. Policemen and reporters s urrounded him. "How many girls have you murdered?" they asked him. "Where did you hide the bodi es?" "How do you explain why police were not able to catch you for such a long time?" "What about Mary Jablonskaia?" Sam looked right into the camera. Unlimited horror was in his eyes.

"I made up this story." Swigart was talking as a robot would. "I wanted to be fa mous! I stole the card and broke into her room. I drugged that girl. But we did not have sex. I'm sorry that I blacked out that girl. I wished to be famous..." "Why did you decide to confess?" The policemen took Sam Swigart away and Robert turned the TV off. "He's a dead man now," Noirson caressed Mary's neck and hair. "I hope this awful scandal will go away... What's wrong, sweetie?" He looked at his fiance with sur prise. "Oh, my Father! You pity him! After that he has done to you! Do you know how many girls he's killed?" Moaning, Mary put her face in her hands. "I'll never be able to understand you." Robert sighed sadly. "Look, kitten, plea se, dress up. I have to introduce you to my closest friends and partners." "Okay," Mary took a deep breath. "I'll be ready about twenty minutes."

The introduction "Ladies and gentlemen!" Robert was smirking. "I'd like to introduce to you Mary Jablonskaia!" The partners were keeping a gloomy silence. "Well," Robert sighed. "Let's try again. Ladies and gentlemen! Please greet my f iance." Bursting into tears, Vixen ran away. "Anhella! Komm zurck!" Noirson called. "Come back !" / German He moved to follow his secretary, but restrained himself at once and glanced at Mary. She did not look at her fianc and stood as still as a statue. Lilitta followed Vixen with her eyes, then came to Mary and hugged her: "Congratulations!" Mrs. Ponk, the business secretary, came next. She kissed the girl: "Take care of the lad!" "Oh, I will!" Mary looked at Robert with tenderness. Dylon Noirson was smoking, Becker lit up a cigar. "John!" Noirson called threateningly. Becker sighed, come closer and nodded. Mary stretched out her arm.

"Monica was my own niece!" Becker even did not try to hide his hatred. "John!" Robert shouted. "I'm sorry!" Mary mumbled and dropped her hand. Becker inhaled and stepped aside . Noirson took a sharp breath: "Well, Dylon..." "Maybe later." Dylon Noirson did not move. He was so angry that he was afraid he 'd lose control of himself. For only one of Anhella's tears he could kill. But t hat damn young thing was under his godfather's protection and Dylon knew the lim its of Robert's patience. If Noirson was a usual man, Dylon Noirson would take such a risk, his love to Vi xen was stronger, than any fears. But Dylon had often visited Hell as an "assist ant" of his godfather, and he did not want to go to that place as a "guest". "Excuse me, birdie," Robert frowned. "I need to talk to John." Mary nodded, and he went to Becker and started to try to reason with him again. Noirson was speaking Italian and Mary had guessed that Robert used a language un known to her that she would not understand exactly what he was saying. Mary waited for a while then felt alone and began to look around. Dylon Noirson came to her. He was still leering at the girl and it offended her. She daringly stared right at Dylon's eyes. He came closer and blew smoke at Mar y's face. "I'm simply amazed," Mary said calmly. "How a gentleman, like Robert is, could r aise such an ill-mannered son." "I hate you, you mean bitch!" Dylon Noirson was grinning. "Robert can kill me, b ut not change my feelings about you. I'm so disgusted I wouldn't even fuck you!" "Robert!" Mary called. "Your son is offending me!" "Dylon!" Noirson looked back. "Please! You promised!" And he turned to Becker ag ain. "Yes," Dylon Noirson continued impudently. "I'm so disgusted, I wouldn't even fu ck you into your fucking ass! But I was able to find someone, who was not so fus sy. Did you like him? Did you have fun?" Mary's face turned pale. She kicked Dylon Noirson in his belly and when he doubl ed with pain, she kicked him again in his face. Dylon was very strong. But Mary got real mad and it increased her strength tenfold. Dylon Noirson collapsed, and the girl flung herself at him and continued to kick him without any pity. Robert grabbed her in his arms and could barely drag the enraged girl away. He h ad read somewhere that the strength of a kick from a well-trained gymnast is equ al to a kick from a horse, and he understood that Dylon had been seriously injur ed. Lying on the floor, Dylon Noirson was moaning. Becker smiled malevolently. "Stop it!" Noirson shook Mary. "Enough! Please, please! Kitten, little lamb, flo werette, calm down! Take a breath! Relax, my little one, dolly, birdie! I beg yo u! Are you all right, sweetheart?"

"I'm okay," Mary sighted. "But he...Oh, Robert! It was him! He did it! He sent t hat villain!" "Sh-sh-sh, honey. Don't shout... Please, forgive him! He's my son!" "Forgive him?" Mary looked at Noirson's eyes. "You knew!" Robert's face winced: "I'm sorry! I'm really sorry! Please, forgive us!" "What if he wishes to screw me?" "Mary!" shocked, Robert gasped. "What a language! It's just unworthy of you!" "You didn't answer! Should I forgive anything?" "Mary, did the Bible teach you nothing?" Sobbing, the girl could not repeat. Noirson embraced her. "There, there, my child! It's over. Don't cry, Barbie-doll! I'm going to protect you, nestling! I promise, I swear! Nobody will dare harm you! But now, could yo u wait for me outside for a while?" Mary nodded. She came to Dylon Noirson and squatted near by him. "I'm sorry, Dylon, that I hurt you. We both love Robert. Let's try to reconcile with each other." "Go to Hell!" Dylon Noirson moaned. Mary sighed sadly and went outside. *** "You're a fool, my boy!" Noirson bent over Dylon. "Oh, my Father! You're so stup id! My poor brave girl beat you up and that's what I should've done as her fianc! But I love you, son! I love you so much! Please, do not abuse my feelings!" "I love you too, Robert... Cure me, please! I'm badly hurt, please, hurry!" "I will not cure you, Dylon, until you swear to be nice to her. You can hate her , and I can do nothing about it, but you must show respect to her!" "No way!" "As you wish!" Noirson was unbent. "Are you kidding? Oh, Robert, father, help me! I'm sorry! Please..." "Do you promise?" "Yes, yes! I promise, I swear, as the Devil is my witness!" "That's my boy!" Robert touched Dylon. "'Go your way, from now on practice sin n o more!'"

Mary and Jerry

Mary ran into the corridor, fell down on a chair and pressed her hands to her fa ce. "Mary!" She heard a worried voice. She dropped her hands and saw Jerry. Strange, but Mary Jablonskaia did not note his love. That hurt the youth, howeve r, he was also glad. He was afraid that Noirson would give him another job and h e would lose the opportunity to see her often. "I mean, Miss Jablonsky, what happened? Who dared to offend you?" "Never mind, Jerry, it's over." Mary sighed and looked around. They were alone i n the corridor. "Look, Jerry. You're so kind to me. I trust you. Can I ask you s omething?" "If I can answer..." "It's about Miss Vixen..." "Miss Jablonsky!" the bodyguard interrupted. "Don't ask any questions and you wo n't hear any lies." "Gotcha..." Mary hung her head. "Mar... Miss Jablonsky!" the youthful servant was shaken. "It's not too late! Th ink!" "What are you talking about? He did a big honor to me, He chose me! I love Him, Jerry. I'll forgive Robert for anything! Because, I know, who he is." "Who told you?" the bodyguard gasped. "Well, Robert just hinted a few times. But when I saw, how he resuscitated the m an, I finally realized who he is! What, Jerry? Why do you look at me with such a horror?" The servant looked down. "He tricked her!" He thought. "What am I gonna do? What can I do? Should I give her a hint?" Jerry recalled the sharp metallic voice of Robert.: 'Even a little hint on my real status I'll rate as treachery and treas on, and it will be punished accordingly." "Mr. Noirson saved my life too..." The bodyguard sighed. "We all must be obedien t." Mary nodded, but Jerry's love for her forced him to drop a hint. "Miss Jablonsky, do you remember, the witch hunts in the Middle Ages? People bel ieved that the Devil had no capacity to resurrect people who had been burnt to d eath." "I remember. It was an awful page in the history of the Church. What's your poin t?" "Well, Mr. Noirson can't resuscitate people who die in a fire." "I know, it's odd, eh?" Mary replied mechanically. The girl almost did not hear Jerry, she was thinking about the introduction. The bodyguard understood it, sig hed and continued: "For this reason we, all servants, ask you to not use the wor

d 'fire' if you wish to dismiss someone." "Ah, Jerry, shut up! You are here to protect me, not to teach me! If you continu e to disturb me, I'll tell Robert and he'll fir...dismiss you!" The bodyguard drooped his head and became silent.

The first time Mary and Robert went to her bedroom without saying a word. The girl stood near t he window and silently looked outside. Very quietly Noirson closed the door, cam e to his fiance and tenderly hugged her: "I'm really sorry, sweetie-pie." "Maybe it's none of my business, but you spoilt Dylon awfully!" "I know, nestling, but I love him so much!" "That no reason to let him to do whatever comes into his head." "Kitten, don't be an 'evil stepmother', he's my only son!" "Well," Mary thought. "When we have our own child, things are gonna be different ." And she continued with irritation: "Your tutor was talking to me like it was my fault that his niece is gone!" Robert sighed and started to kiss the back of Mary's head and her neck, but the girl shuddered: "Is that Germaness really so helpful?" "Look, Mary, Anhella is not just a secretary..." "Oh, that I understand clearly!" "She is my Secretary of Defense." Robert pretended that he did not get the hint. "Miss Vixen is recruiting people, she's responsible for arms and equipment. Don 't be jealous of the poor girl, she loves me, but I'm going to marry you, not he r. I love you, flowerette, if you wish to," Robert lied. "I'll dismiss Anhella t o please you, my beloved queen." Mary hesitated, and Noirson got worried. He would have been in a very difficult situation if she agreed to his offer. But he guessed correctly. "No," Mary sighed finally. "I'm being stupid. Sorry, honey, do as is best for yo u." "Look, bunny-rabbit, maybe you would like to move into my house right now? Reall y, sweetie, why waste time? My beloved, move to my house, please? Oh, my heart! It will be your house also, and very, very soon..." Mary sensed something different in the intonation of Robert's voice and how he h ugged her. She stared at him. He was looking at her inquiringly, his eyes glowed with desire. Mary knew, one word or gesture and Noirson would submissively take his hands awa y as had happened many times before.

However, now Mary smiled and embraced her fianc. *** Jerry went close to Mary's bedroom. The door was closed and he lifted his hand t o knock. But he stopped short: he heard sounds. Jerry felt his legs give way under him and he leaned against the wall. He realiz ed at once that was going on there, behind the door, and he was struck to the bo ttom of his sensitive heart. He heard her panting voice: "I love you, Robert... I love you, honey..." It was more than Jerry was able to stand. He gasped, and clutching his head, rus hed to the servants room and fell onto the couch. "Jerry!" alarmed Ron snatched out his gun. "What? What happened?" "Nothing..." the sense of duty forced Jerry to talk. "Everything's fine..." Ron gazed at youth and walked away. He went back very soon and sat near his part ner. "Jerry," Ron said softly. "You're a fool, what did you expect? You knew they lov ed each other! Oh, Devil! You weep! Buddy, you should've known, it'd happen soon er or later!" "Yes, I am a fool." Jerry did not open his eyes. "Can I have a beer?" "You know the rule: no alcohol during a shift." "Ron, you can't imagine, how I'm hurting! I'm such a fool... Damn, Ron! I need t o drink! I feel like I'm dying, Ron! Please, I need a drink! Just a couple of be ers, eh? We have a few bottles here, in the fridge. Please, Ron! I'll still be i n control, I promise." "Okay, you poor thing," Ron sighed with compassion. "Go to some bar, get drunk a nd fuck some whore, it should work... I hope... Come on, pal, get out of here! I 'll cover for you." Sobbing, Jerry thankfully squeezed the hand of his friend, sprang up and walked away. But before he left the apartment, the youth peeped down the corridor to Mary's b edroom. The door was still closed.

In the motel Jerry heard his cell phone ringing. He tried to open his eyes, but an awful head ache did not allow him to. He moaned and crept to the sound. He fell down off th e bed, fumbled around, finally found the phone and pushed the, button: "Hello?" "Wow!" Ron barely recognized Jerry's voice. "Are you alive, partner?"

"I'm not sure." Jerry wheezed. "Where am I?" "You ask me? Okay, buddy, wait for a while. Relax, I'll make you... Is that bett er?" The headache was almost gone. Jerry sighed, opened his eyes and looked around. "I'm in a motel." He saw a girl was sleeping on the bed. "Which motel?" "I don't know." Jerry rubbed his head. "No matter. Get your butt out of there! We're moving. The Master had just left. I told Him that I sent you on some errand. I don't think He believed me." "Okay, I'm coming. Thank you, friend." Jerry hung up and gazed at the girl. He c ould not recall how he got her. Should he pay her money or just lie: 'Later, lov e! I'll call you!' He quickly and quietly dressed and tied his hair into a ponytail. She was still asleep, and Jerry counted out the usual twelve hundred, and looked at the girl again. She was really pretty, and he added an extra a few bills mor e. He put the money on the bedside table and left the motel. On his way home Jerry finally calmed down and cheered up. Youth does not feel upset for a long time, and the Love never loses hope. "I'm a real fool." Jerry was thinking about Mary and Robert. "Why did their fuck get me so? He popped her cherry. Big deal! She's still sexy, and the Master wil l still be busy... Maybe, she'll "go out" even easier now? Damn, why can't I jus t stop thinking about her? Ron is right that stupid love's only bringing me trou ble..."

Mary and Slay Mary Jablonskaia was checking her new apartment in Noirson's mansion. She planne d to live in that house for not just a few days, so she wished to have comfort a nd service. Aspiring to power, Mary finally got the opportunity to boss people a round and she enjoyed it. Mary J. was smart enough, she knew her fianc liked a romantic style, so she left the decor of bedroom and salon as it was, however, she ordered the decor of her other rooms be changed. "Mr. Noirson doesn't like the modern style!" Roger Slay objected. Mary haughtily turned her head: "Aren't these my rooms?" "Sure, Miss Jablonskaia!" "So, change it!"

The other servants stood around whispering to each other, and Slay got angry. Mo st of them were humans, and they could not understand his fear of that girl. Her face was like a permanent reminder of the inevitability of the Final Punishment , and Roger was surprised, how his Master could dare see that face by his side a nd was even able to kiss it! Mary looked at the two ranks of her new servants and maids. Jerry was glad when her eyes stopped on his face for a second. Naive, he did not understand that she just knew him better than the others. "Tell everybody to wear name tags, until I remember you all." Mary told Slay. "That's an absurd order, and I will not fulfill it!" "I'm sure you will!" Mary spun to him. "I want all servants to wear name tags in this place! Even Robert's servants too!" "It's a respectable house!" Roger was indignant. "Not a shop!" "Great! Order classy tags then! I don't care!" "It's a stupid order and I will not fulfill it!" Mary stared at the butler, and he started trembling. "You can't force me here, on Earth!" He whispered to her. "Do I have to go to Heaven to force you?" Mary slowly went toward Slay. He did n ot move and was shaking with fear and hate. "Or maybe I have to send you to Hell for you to learn how to behave? If I wish to, you all would walk around stark n aked!" "I agree!" Jerry smiled. Everybody laughed. "Shut up, you idiots!" mad, Slay shouted. "What the hell's going on?" nobody noticed Noirson come into the corridor. "Your butler has refused my requests!" Her upset plaintive voice sounded with te ars, and a deadly silence reigned at once. Robert slowly turned to Roger. Mary could not see the face of her fianc, but she saw, how Slay fell on his knees, and she smiled with triumph and pleasure. Mary felt his hatred, and, honestly, Roger Slay aroused the same feeling in her soul. "Don't worry, honey," Noirson kept his eyes on his butler. "I'm sure, it was jus t a misunderstanding and he'll do his best. Am I right, Roger?" "Yes, Master!" Slay mumbled with effort. "Forgive me, my Lord!" Robert turned to his fiance and tenderly kissed her lips: "Do anything you wish, my love!" They exchanged glances and went to her apartment. Not looking at the servants, Roger Slay slowly got up. "Order name tags," He told his secretary. "I want all people to get those damn t ags before the evening! Everybody, back to your work!" The servants went different directions. Jerry sat on the chair, sighed, and star

ed at the door of Mary's apartment. It was his job and his Fate, to just wait an d wait, and wait...

Jerry's fight The youthful bodyguard was too emotional to hide his feelings well. Noirson's people already noticed them. It was a permanent reason for jokes. Othe r servants teased and sneered at Jerry, and only a few persons did not make fun of him. Having been new, the youth in the beginning tried just to ignore the servants' m ockeries. But the tension was increasing and after Mary Jablonskaia had moved into the Noi rson house, a crisis became inevitable. *** In the common security's cafeteria Jerry took his meal and sat at the free seat. "Hey, chap!" the servant across the table grinned. "Today is not your shift, is it?" The youthful bodyguard did not look at him and was silently picking at the food on his plate. "What are you gonna do, poor you?" the security could not calm down. "Go, get pl astered again!" "Leave this lad alone, Carl!" Ron sat next to Jerry. "Oh, yeah?" Carl screwed up his eyes. "I'm just amazed at that cocky fellow. Str ange, why the Master hasn't dismissed him yet?" "You're human and can't understand us!" Ron gazed at Carl. "You're dumb! Even Go d the Creator can't control the Love!" "Give me a break!" Carl snored. "It's not 'Love'. That young buck just hasn't fu cked enough!" Jerry slowly lifted his head and looked right into Carl's face. "What, big eyes?" Carl giggled. "What are you staring at? The Master placed at o ur disposal a lot of free whores, but you want His girl, eh? Do you think you're the best or what?" "My fuck and my thoughts are none of your fucking business." "Do you think so? Look, boy, I have a useful "pain relief" for you. As her bodyg uard, you have to have her picture. So,..." And Carl gave the very short and exp ressive advice, how on the youth should use that photo for reduction of desire. "Do it twice in day, all "love" will be gone!" The blood rushed into Jerry's head and he did not hear Ron's warning call. Toppl

ing over the table, the youthful security flung himself at Carl. A professional, Carl blocked the first attack, but the next hit of enraged Jerry reached Carl. His friends came to Carl's assistance. They grabbed the youthful servant, and Ron hoped that this would stop the fight. But Max had a grudge against Jerry for a long time. He was the first to start mo cking Jerry, and he could not miss his chance to get him. He lashed out at Jerry and punched him a few times. Kicking him with both his feet Jerry threw Max off , and now Max's pals rushed forward, and then Ron stood up for his partner. Ron had his own friends here, and he counted on their help. He realized that the 'bar brawl' would become a total battle, however, he was too attached to that n ervous, brave youngster, and he could not just watch him get beaten. Just in time, Ron blocked the strike that would certainly have knocked Jerry out . Choking with blood and curses, Carl slowly got up. His hand slipped under his ja cket, but Jerry did not wait until he took out the gun or knife. Growling, the y outhful servant threw off the men holding him to the right and left and grabbed his brass knuckles. It worked like a signal. Everybody snatched out their weapons, and now nobody li stened to their chief Jack Leclerc, who unsuccessfully tried restore order, and the real combat took place. Thoroughly mad, Jerry noticed nothing. He beat Carl unmercifully until the security collapsed into unconsciousness. He beat other servants, trying to stop him, and he did not feel their reciprocal hits, and he only stood still when a cold muzzle was pressed against his temple , and he heard the sound of a gun cocked near his ear. "You idiot!" Roger Slay had a gun at Jerry's head. "Would you calm down or have I gotta swat your stupid brain out?" Jerry dropped his brass knuckles and slowly lifted his hands. "The Master has just come back," the butler took his gun away. "Report to his of fice immediately!" Roger turned to Jack and asked very quietly, so that only his partner could hear him: "Why do they have weapons in their common places? It wa s prohibited five years ago!" "Look, pal," Leclerc was livid, he was shaken. "We've had no trouble a long time ..." "Now you have it!" Slay interrupted with anger. "You know, how I hate you, human s! The human had provoked the fight, and the another human had started the fight , and then another human continued it! It's your responsibility, buddy! But you are my partner and friend, and I'll cover for you today. But don't count on it n ext time! I'll change the tape... We'll have to sacrifice Max to save your butt. I don't think it'll be a big loss. I'll "take" him, and give you my man instead of him. But remember, in future! If the Master wishes to have Jerry, we must ac cept it! So, keep your thugs off him!" And continued loudly: "Okay, humans are y our department, Jack! Go, "work" with them! Owners of human bodies! I'll "work" with you later, be ready! But you, Ron, you come with me right now." "I'll go with Jerry."

"What?" the butler roared. "Is that a riot or are you two just crazy?" "Mr. Slay, sir, it was my fault. I didn't warn Jerry that any fights between ser vants are prohibited." "Well, well, well..." Roger looked around at the ruined hall and hissed very qui etly: "Then all the more, moron, come with me. We're both not humans, and we've been working together for such a long time. Be sure, I'll give you much easier p unishment than if you report to the Master." "I'm going with Jerry! That's my fault and my responsibility!" "No, pal," Only now the youth noticed his various wounds. Especially severe was the one on his shoulder. Jerry understood somebody had shot him, but who and how it had happened, the youthful servant did not remember. Trying to stop the blee ding, Jerry squeezed his shoulder. "No, pal, you did warn me, I just wasn't obed ient." "Don't be a fool, fibber," Ron smiled sadly. "It's very touching that you try to cover for me, but also stupid. You're gonna have a "ride to Hell" in that case! " "How about you, partner?" "I'm afraid you're both gonna have it!" the butler bellowed at them. "Jerry! To Mr. Noirson's office! Ron! With me! Or I'll order the others to drag you!" "Good luck, buddy!" Ron sighed and followed Slay. *** Noirson jumped out of his chair, when bruised and wounded Jerry strolled into hi s office. Barely keeping his feet, the youth could not stifle his moans, and Rob ert cured him first of all, then took the videotape. *** "Wow!" Noirson played the videotape again and again. "Oh, my Father! Damn, Jerry ! You have been trained to fight my enemies, not my servants! Oh, dear Devil, wh at a mess!" He pounded the desk. "Why do I have to waste the Power to cure you a ll after such scrap?. I can't see clearly... Who's the guy that started beating you?" "It was Max, sir." "Max? But Roger told me... Ah, whatever! Anyway, you started that fight! Why did you get so mad? You're not drunk now, are you?" "No, sir. But Carl had said some bad things about Mary Jablonsky." "Oh, really?" Robert's face became darker with anger. "He's a dead man, be sure. Okay, Jerry, first warning to you! Thank you for trying to defend her name, but in a case such as that you should report not fight! Is that clear?" "Yes, sir." "Great! Jerry, I strongly recommend you to be a good boy. And remember! A second 'warning' does not exist! A second mistake will call forth a "ride to Hell". An d my Father will teach you, how to behave."

Jerry blanched with horror and nodded.

Chapter Three: The new attempts The factory Mary Noirson was visiting a furniture factory again. She was married only seven months ago and enjoyed her new status. The youthful w oman visited her husband's plants and factories and felt proud at being pleasant ly treated with respect by every worker. That factory was her favorite. She liked the mixed smell of wood, sawdust, glue, engine oil and varnish, the noises and organized bustle. Today the head manager, who usually accompanied her, was very busy and asked Mic hael Alter, his assistant, to show Mary around. Mary gazed at the assistant with curiosity. He gave her a strange, mysterious gl ance. It was not a sexual look, it seemed like he met someone well known. When A lter shook her hand, he held it a little longer than was necessary, and Jerry, s tanding behind his lady, barely restrained his jealousy. Mary felt strange. Yet she loved her husband their family life was too nervous. To counterbalance it, when she was next to Michael she sensed a deep peace and c alm. He was illuminated with hope and trust. It was a boundless ocean of Love, a nd Mary melted into unlimited enjoyment. And only two words: "Heavenly happiness " could explain her feelings. Alter lowered his gaze, and something like a strong hand led Mary down, back to Earth. She tried to resist, she did not want to lose that wonderful sensation. S uddenly a soft, but resolute order sounded into her mind: "You're here on duty!" Amazed, Mary looked at Michael attentively. His lips did not move, and only sho wed a sad smile full of compassion. And Mary took this phrase as her own thought . "Well," She sighed, and surprised herself, hearing her cold official voice. "Wha t was the reject percentage yesterday?" *** They had the usual talk on business matters. Jerry listened very attentively, but he did not understand Alter's explanation. Mary asked lots of questions, Michael patiently answered, and youthful guard fel t confused. He did not think of himself as dumb, it was just not his field of li fe. After his fight, no servant dared to mock him again. He even got new friends, an d his strange, hopeless love for the Master's wife, was now taboo for jokes. Jer ry was too young and emotional to get real respect, but now the servants realize d how dangerous he was and tried do not irritate him. And now, Michael Alter caused Jerry to feel offended again. Mary was visibly int erested speaking with the assistant and the youthful bodyguard involuntarily rec alled how her face became bored all the time when he, Jerry, tried to talk with her.

*** When Mary was ready to leave, Alter changed the subject and for a while they dis cussed the difficulties of the people's lives. "Of course, Earth is a tough place to live," Michael sighed. "But we all have he re our own duties." And Mary fell deep in thought.

Robert and Jerry Jerry was cleaning one of his guns when Robert entered the room. The youth got u p and smiled. He idolized Noirson and was happy to see him. Jerry had just finis hed his training in the camp and now he waited for the job his Master would like to give him. Robert walked around Jerry, standing in the middle of the room. Noirson gazed at the youth very attentively then ordered him to undress until nude. Jerry obeyed, and Robert checked him out from the top of his head to his heels, like a customer checking a horse before buying. "You can put your clothes back on." Noirson stepped aside. "Jerry, I see, the tw o and a half years that have passed since I got you, were very fruitful. You're in great shape, and I've been informed about your successes in training. Well, y ou need to study more, but I have a good teacher for you. I know how disciplined you are. So, I hope, Ron will not have a problem with you. You have to listen t o him, as if me. I'll take you to my personal security." Excited, Jerry gasped. He never dreamed about it, he could not believe his ears. "Okay, Jerry," Noirson smirked at his reaction. "Now tell me, what kind of car d o you want? Just, please, not a red sports convertible." Confused, the youth blushed. It was exactly that he wanted to ask for. Robert si ghed understandingly. "Jerry, a new metallic "Mercedes" will impress girls no less, believe me." He sa id, dropping his voice. "And it will not attract the attention of police as easy . I can untangle any mess, but I don't like to waste the Power, remember that!" "Yes, sir!" "Good boy! Well, do you like my watch?" Jerry scanned the Rolex like a professional: "Wow!" He grinned. "Four grand for sure." "Shit, Jerry! It's more than twice as expensive, if you buy it!" The youth kept smiling. "Well, Jerry, they will be yours, if you can get them from me. I know, in your p

ast, you did that a lot of times. I'd like to see it. Can you do the same thing now? I hope, you didn't lose your "qualifications" and didn't forget how you use d to do that? Still got it, eh?" Taking this challenge, Jerry smugly smiled. His self-confidence was no less than his Master had. "Come on, show me your best!" Noirson stood in the middle of the room. The youth slowly walked passed him. Suddenly he made so fast motion that if Noirson was a human he could not react. But Robert clutched Jerry's arm. And in the next moment the muzzle of a gun was pressed to Noirson's cheek, and the tender girl-like face of the youth instantly turned to a cruel mask of a cold-blooded killer. But he came to his senses at once, gasped, and, dropping the gun, Jerry fell on his knees. "I'm sorry! I'm sorry!" He was shaken and panted with horror. "I did it mechanic ally! I love You, my Lord! I didn't mean to harm You!" "My dear boy," Noirson smiled tenderly as he helped Jerry to his feet. "You coul dn't harm me, even if you fired. You did everything great and this watch and the car are yours, as I promised. Pack your stuff, I'll send Ron to pick you up." *** It had happened almost a year ago. Why did Noirson recall this episode now? Because Jerry entered his office with the same angry and gloomy face. A look of spite and irritation were glowing in the eyes of the young servant. Noirson knew about Jerry's love for his wife, but it doubled the efforts of the bodyguard, and Robert did not want to change the situation. Jerry emotionally started talking about today's visit to the factory. He laid it on thick, and Noirson sensed it. However, Robert loved his youthful wife too mu ch and did not want to take any risk. Taking the receiver, he made a call.

Michael Alter The next day Mary Noirson went to the factory again and almost collided with Mic hael Alter in the entrance. He handled a briefcase. "Where are you going?" Mary wondered. "What happened?" "I'm fired," He smiled. Mary's face blushed with anger. Although she was not with Jerry today, she did r ealize at once, whose report was the reason for the dismissal. "I'll fix that!" She said resolutely. But Michael shook his head. "Don't do anything. Anyway, I have a different job now. I worked as a carpenter

enough." Alter's voice was so significant, that an amazed Mary stared at him: "I don't understand " "When did you last read the Bible? Don't you remember, who was working as a carp enter before he started his Main Job?" "Jesus Christ!" Mary gasped. "Bye, sister!" Michael tenderly touched her cheek, and kept smiling as he went a way.

The monks They were summoned from around the country. Ten men, all die-hards. The youngest, Steve Farringer, was twenty-six. The oldest, Patrick, the leader, was fifty-three years old. Though all were Christian, they belonging to differen t denominations. Just one subject was common for all the monks: they all had exp erienced dogfights. They were ex-Army Rangers, Police Officers, NAVY Seals, SWAT , Marines. Kevin, who had joined them the last, was a former commando. Now Robert Noirson was careful like never before and it was necessary to use pro fessionals for the next attempt to kill the Beast. *** The cenobites got a wonderful chance to do it, when Noirson married Mary Jablons kaia. Almost every Sunday she visited the local congregation, and the monks deci ded to act with the local pastor, Father James. For this mission Daniel had been chosen, because Father James was an inveterate gardener and Daniel graduated a college as a landscape technician. Daniel had meetings with the pastor a few times. Yet for a long time the monk di d not dare to speak the Truth. Only when he and Father James became friends, Dan iel told the pastor everything and asked for his assistance. Father James believed him, but the priests had different opinions about Mary Noi rson and her knowledge about the real status of her husband. Finally Daniel and James compromised. "I'll talk to her," Pastor James suggested. "And we'll see, what we can do, okay ?" "Deal!" worried Daniel agreed unwillingly. "But be careful, if she's on his side , you could be in serious trouble.

The dog Today Mary Noirson was planning to meet Pastor James. She was ready to go, when

Robert entered her room and told her to come with him. "Honey, I have a meeting..." Mary was upset: Pastor James tried to talk with her many times, but something always happened that prevented their conversation. "Big deal! Just call and cancel it!" Mary dialed the number and waited for an answer. A loud clap of thunder outside startled her: "Oh, no, it's raining again!" "Heavy rain, sweetie-pie... Come on! How long do I have to wait for you?" "Okay..." Mary sighed and hung up the phone. *** Pastor James was closing the doors of his greenhouses behind the church. From ti me to time he looked at his watch. Mary Noirson had not arrived yet and he was a fraid he would miss her. Nevertheless the storm forced him to go outside and tak e care of his plants. An ice-cold, strong wind made the rain even worse. When the pastor closed the last door, the rainwater was running like a river. Suddenly he heard a low growling sound. The eyes of a huge black dog glowed at F ather James through streams of rain. The pastor slowly crossed himself. The dog showed its long bright white fangs. I t looked like a smile. A scornful smile. Farther James got angry. He resolutely stepped to the church, but the dog jumped towards him and snapped its jaws just a few inches from the man. The pastor recoiled. He had no weapon to protect himself. Keeping his eyes on th e dog, Father James started to move around the greenhouse. Suddenly his foot sli pped. He threw up his hands, lost his balance and fell down into the hole. Only now Father James remembered this well that he asked to be dug yesterday. Th e pit was about fifteen feet deep and the rainwater had already filled it halfwa y. Almost choked, the pastor unsuccessfully tried to get out. The water and dirt mixed together, and he was not able to swim in the mire. He tried to climb up, but the walls were too steep and slippery. He realized, he was doomed to be buried alive in the mud. Suddenly, an idea dawned upon him. Father James snatched a big cross that he was wearing and thrust it into the wall. The cross stuck firmly, and now he had a c hance to hold on until someone would be able to help him out. The dog above roared with disappointment. *** Daniel was driving very carefully. The wipers were almost useless. And the monk was thinking, driving under the sea would be easier than driving in such a rain. He parked, cringed and got out the car. The parking lot was empty. Mary Noirson's car was not there either and Daniel th ought: "It means she hadn't come again or she'd come and didn't listen to James

and had already gone..." Daniel went to the door of the house and knocked. No response. Getting worried, Daniel carefully open the door and called out to Pastor James. Nobody answered, and the monk entered inside. He heard a sibilant sound and went to the kitchen. The teapot was boiling and al most all the water had evaporated. Daniel turned the stove off and ran outside. He called Farther James. He heard a weak response and ran to the sound. "Look out!" Daniel barely kept his feet. He saw the hole and gasped. He knelt and looked ins ide. "Mary Noirson..." the pastor was panting. "The dog..." "Later! Later!" Daniel took his jacket off. "Hold on!" He held one sleeve and pu t the jacket into the pit. Father James reached out his hand and tried to grab t he another sleeve. Suddenly huge fangs thrust into Daniel's back. The monk did not expect the attac k. He screamed and dropped the jacket. The dog bit him again, but Daniel punched the beast in the nose, and the animal jumped aside. It roared with hate. "So, this doggie Mary Noirson has sent to us instead of herself." Daniel smiled and took out his switchblade. "Oh, you are a bad dog! Come on! Show me what you got!" The dog looked at him very attentively, however, did not try to come any closer. The monk took off his shirt. He watched the dog and started to put the shirt dow n into the pit. "Please, hurry up!" exhausted, Father James begged. "I can't hold on any longer! " The dog leaped to the monk. Daniel dodged the strike and smiled with triumph: he felt the pastor grab the sleeve. Howling, the dog attacked the man again. The monk hit the animal with the blade, but this time his action did not stop the beast. The huge jaws squeezed Daniel' s body. The monk screeched yet did not drop the shirt. Daniel again and again hit the dog with the knife with one hand and pulled Pasto r James up with the another hand. The beast gnawed his shoulder and the unbearab le pain drove Daniel insane, but his desire to save his friend helped him stay i n control. Suddenly the dog changed its tactics. Releasing its victim, it lunged at the pit . The monk was not able to prevent it, and the fangs of the beast tore the shirt . Daniel heard the scream of Pastor James and sound of a splash, as the priest f ell down into the mire again.

The man and the animal continued their mortal fight. "Brother!" the voice of Pastor James sounded with despair. "Give me absolution!" Daniel had no time to answer; the dying beast made one last effort and clutched the man at the groin. This time the intolerable pain caused Daniel to pass out. *** The ice-cold rain helped Daniel to regain consciousness very quickly. The dead body of the dog was lying on top of Daniel. He pried open the jaws of t he beast. The awful pain made the monk dizzy, yet all he could think about was P astor James. Crawling to the pit, Daniel looked inside. Only a dead motionless hand clutching a cross was above the mud. The monk looked long at it. He stared for a long time. Then he screamed, damned Mary Noirson and asked God to send her the worst punishment ever. Moaning and sobbing, Daniel could barely drag himself to the building and call a n ambulance.

In the office "Honey," excited, Mary entered her husband's office. "I found a companion for me !" Robert looked at his wife with confusion. After the dismissal of Michael Alter, Mary felt very lonely. And a few months ago she asked her husband to find a comp anion for her, and until now, he had not done it yet. All Noirson's faithful people were his slaves. They were only employees official ly. But of course, Mary did not know about it. Instinctively the servants were a fraid of their lady, most of them hated her for that, and the woman sensed their feelings to her, although she did not understand their reasons. "You did?" Noirson smiled. "Great! Who is it?" "Hannah Williamson." "Who?" Robert got amazed. He quickly checked the names of his people. "Who the H ell is she? Where did you find her?" "I met her today, when I attended that benevolent party..." "Oh, now I can imagine her! How many times do I have to repeat? You have to avoi d contacts with those religious freaks!" "Robert! I am a Catholic myself and you met me on the same arrangement!" "Okay, okay, sorry, kitten. But why did you choose her?"

"Oh, honey! She's a kind, nice girl! She wants to go to college so much! But she has no money..." "Sweetie-pie, I can't pay a scholarship fees for everybody. She can join the Arm y." "No, she can't, she's a Jehovah's Witness." "What?" Noirson jumped out of his chair. "Are you crazy? I can't allow the "witn ess" to live in my house!" "You said it's my house also..." Mary looked really upset and Robert relented. "I am a Catholic," Mary continued. "And I don't like the religious ideas of the Witnesses either, but they don't steal or handle weapons. They don't even smoke! Why should we be afraid of her?" Robert did not reply. He had just one, but awfully important reason: his real st atus, however, he could not tell Mary about it. "Okay, bunny," Noirson finally sighed. "If you wish to..." Mary's face lit up with a happy smile. "Just order her not to speak about her beliefs with my people and especially wit h me! Deal?" "Oh, honey, thank you!" touched, Mary walked around the desk and hugged her husb and. "I love you so much!" Robert's eyes flashed. He pushed the button on the intercom: "Mrs. Ponk?" Noirso n panted. "I will be absent for a while, for any reason." *** Anhella Vixen had just entered the secretary's room and heard those words. She g asped and sorrowfully glanced at Mrs. Ponk. She realized at once what it meant. How many times Robert had pronounced the same phrase, holding her, Anhella, in h is arms! Vixen's Aryan blood was raging. She desired to grab her gun, burst into his office and kill them both. But she knew it was impossible. And a few second s later her love for Robert finally overcame her jealousy. Pressing her portfolio to her chest, Anhella slowly went to the private waiting room and saw Jerry. The bodyguard was staring at the door as a dog would while w aiting his master's return. He looked at Vixen questionably. She sadly smiled to her fellow sufferer. Understanding, Jerry blushed and lowered his eyes. Pretending not to worry, he t ook the first magazine and browsed through the pages. This sight relieved Anhell a's pain. She was much luckier than this poor guy. She knew how Robert appreciat ed her. *** The door opened and Mary Noirson strolled into the waiting room. Her face was burning with happiness and satisfaction, her hair was done careless ly and her clothes were disordered. She forgot about everything, and she did not even see Jerry sprang up toward her

. "Mrs. Noirson!" his voice was trembling. "Wait for me!" "Ah, Jerry..." She yawned. "Take me home." "But we'd planned to go shopping!" "Shopping's boring!" Mary sang. "I wanna take a shower... Maybe a massage..." "May I massage you?" "Of course not, you silly thing." Mary smiled tenderly. "Why can that male, that outsider, touch you again and I'm expected to just watc h it?" "Which male?" Mary sleepily looked at her bodyguard. "You're raving, buddy." "I mean your masseur..." Jerry mumbled hopelessly as he followed his lady. *** Noirson was smoking. He smiled when Anhella Vixen entering his office. "Komm zu mir, Mdchen!" He tightly hugged his secretary. "Come to me, girl!" / German "Ist dein Raport schon fertig, Frulein Vixen?" "Is the report ready, Miss Vixen?" / German "Ja," Anhella sleeked the disarranged hair of her Master. "Yes." / German "Du solltest dein Hemd wechseln. Es ist nass." She said calmly. "You should change your shirt. It is wet." / German "Danke, lieb," keeping a smile Noirson got up. "Thank you, dear." / German "Bereite die Papiere vor. Ich bin gleich zurck." He told her. "Prepare your papers. I'll be right back." / German Before he left, Robert looked at his secretary with gratitude: "I can't imagine, how could I work without you!" "I can't imagine, how could I live without You." Anhella thought.

Hannah

Unfortunately, Robert was right when he was afraid to allow the Jehovah's Witnes s to live in his home. Hannah Williamson was doing her standard weekly preaching. She and her friend we re standing near a subway station and tried to talk with people. They "caught" F ather Christopher and started discussing the Bible. Although Mary prohibited her companion to tell strangers where she was working H annah used her employers as an example during the conversation. She did not use their names, but suddenly Father Christopher guessed who she was talking about. "God is helping us himself!" the priest thought with excitement. He called Hanna h aside and told her everything. "I don't believe you!" Hannah was shaken. Then Father Christopher gave her a car d: "My dear daughter, when you are sure, contact me! Just, please, be careful! I beg you!" And he left the appalled Hannah. *** In the middle of the night Mary Noirson woke up in her bedroom. For a few minutes she just laid in the bed thinking about her companion. About a week ago something happened with Hannah. She shunning contact with Robert, and with her lady she spent all the time talking about the Apocalypse. Despite her r eligious education Mary did not like that kind of talk. Strange, but without any reason, a deep worry seized youthful woman. Trembling, she got up, put her robe on and went to the corridor. The security guard was sitting on the chair, reading a newspaper, and looked at his lady with surprise: "Where are you going, ma'am?" He got up. "It's almost 3 a.m.!" "Is my husband okay?" Security nodded: "Yes, ma'am, I got some information just a few minutes ago. He has a meeting in building B. Do you need to contact him?" "No, I don't wanna disturb him," Mary still thinking about her worry. "Where is Hannah?" Suddenly the security smiled: "The mouse in the mouse trap." Mary's legs gave way under her: "What are you talking about?" "Well, your companion should have known that the Master's "prayer room" is off l imits for everyone," his voice sounded with a hidden spite. Mary gasped and ran along the corridor. *** Although anybody could get into that room, only a few persons knew how to get ou t.

Shuddering, Hannah was sitting on the floor in the "prayer room". She was trappe d and clearly realized it. Clasping her knees she was waiting, and dreading ever y second, thinking that the Beast would come inside. The door opened and the girl barely swallowed her cry of terror. But it was Mary Noirson. Sighing with relief, Hannah sprang up and ran to her la dy. "How could you!" Mary cried. "I helped you, I trusted you, I thought we were fri ends!" "Mary, I..." "It looks base, mean, vile!" "Mary, you have to listen me!" "Shut up, betrayer-girl!" "Mary, your husband..." "One more word and I'll call him!" Hannah fell in silence. *** Silently they went to Hannah's room. "Take your stuff," Mary ordered. "What's necessary, no more than one suitcase! I 'll be back." Soon Mary returned with another suitcase: "Let's go!" *** The bodyguards started to argue with their lady, when she demanded to drive Hann ah all by herself. They barely compromised. Mary Noirson drove her companion and bodyguards downtown, stopped in front of th e "Hilton" and told one of them to reserve a room. One bodyguard got out of the car and went into the building. A few seconds later Mary ordered the another bodyguard: "Check the left rear tir e out!" "You have a computer for this, ma'am!" "What's going on?" Mary burst out angrily. "How dare you disobey me!" When the bodyguard got out and bent to check the tire, Mary Noirson pushed the g as pedal and the car accelerated away. The bodyguard took a jolt. But he came to his senses at once, cursed, then took his cell-phone and made a call. *** "Okay, girl," Mary looked in the mirror. "We have about thirty minutes. Do you k now a place that is safe enough to hide?"

Hannah nodded. "Good, you need it. In this suitcase is sixty thousand, it's enough to study in some good university. Just do not put more then two or three thousand in the ban k at once. Do you have any cash with you?" "Fifty-three bucks." "Okay, take a taxi," Mary stopped the car. "I don't wanna know where you're gonn a hide. Good luck and good bye!" "Mary, your husband..." "I said, good bye!" "Good bye, Mrs. Noirson..." *** Robert asked nothing about Hannah and this surprised Mary, however, she did not dare to start talking about it. This subject was now taboo. *** When Myron heard the knock on the door he opened it at once. He was sure it was one of his friends. But it was an unknown white girl and Myron felt how the blood rushed into his fa ce; as he was only wearing underpants. Hannah leered at the almost naked tall black man with amazement and confusion. K indness and surprise were shining in his big tender eyes, and Hannah calmed down and dared to ask: "Is this apartment 218?" "Yes." "Does Father Christopher live here?" "Yes, miss... Who are you?" "I'm Hannah Williamson. Father Christopher gave me this address. Can I come in?" "Oh, my God!" Myron stepped aside. "Sorry, of course! I just did not expect your visit; it's so hot today and we have no air-conditioner. Excuse me for a second , please." He came back wearing a cassock. "Are you a monk?" Hannah gasped. "We are all monks." Myron smiled. "Wow! I thought, you're a football player or something like that..." "Well, in high-school I used to play football..." And the young people entered into a conversation. ***

When all the cenobites had gathered, Hannah told them how she lost her job. "Heartless witch!" Kevin said about Mary Noirson. "No," Hannah was confused. "She saved me from the Beast, she told me to hide and gave me this money..." Hannah put the suitcase on the table and lifted the cove r. "Sixty thousand bucks!" Somebody gasped, somebody whistled. "I wanna give this money to you for your sacred mission." Hannah continued. "Ple ase, let me join you." The cenobites exchanged glances. Kevin took the suitcase and fiddled with a bunch of bills: "Gee!" He laughed. "I t will be real fun to kill the Beast using his own money!" "But, Hannah, how about you? Your dreams, your future?" "While the Beast is alive nobody has a future." Hannah looked around. "Please, l et me stay with you. If he hasn't found this place yet it means it's safe enough ... Please?" "Welcome aboard!" Patrick, the leader, resolutely shook Hannah's hand.

Hannah and Myron For a few months Hannah lived in the same apartment as the cenobites. But lately the monks began noticing some changes. *** The friends were resting in the common room. Some were reading while others watc hed TV. Kevin worked out on the machine. Patrick, the leader, was checking the b ills. From time to time the cenobites looked askance at Hannah and Myron and exc hanged glances. But talking selflessly, the girl and the young monk were seeing only each other. "Hey, guys!" Patrick finally called them. He could not concentrate. "Wanna go to some bar or for a dancing? Why just sit here?" Confused, the young couple looked at him. "No," Steve Farringer sadly smiled. "Better if they stay home; the city is very dangerous at night." "Hey, girl!" Kevin got up and wiped sweat from his face. "Bring me some soda fro m the fridge." Myron leaped at Kevin and grabbed his T-shirt: "You milky bone! Do you think she 's your maid or what?"

"Myron! Buddy," Kevin calmly smiled. "Are you okay? I just asked her as friend a nd roommate!" "Sorry, Kev," Myron released Kevin. "Just watch what you imply when you're talki ng." "Really, Myron, let's go for a walk," Hannah took his hand. "You're tired and ne rvous." Her eyes sparkled with a smile. And the young couple went away. *** It was late night, when Myron carefully oozed into the bedroom. He tried not to wake his roommates. Myron did not turn the light on, undressed and quickly hoppe d into his bed. He did not notice that nobody was asleep, but everybody was pret ending to be asleep. They heard how he was gasping. It was the breathing of happ y man. And their hearts were filled with light, tender envy. *** That five-bedroom apartment had three bathrooms. But, of course, for eleven peop le it was not enough. Richard moaned, when Hannah cut the line and rushed past h im to the bathroom. "Every morning!" Greg was next after him. "It's not funny any more. Christopher, it was you, who found Hannah! And now what?" Worried Myron slowly came close to the door and carefully knocked: "Hannah, are you okay?" "Leave her alone, she's okay," Richard's voice sounded so confident that Myron g ot confused and quickly went away. An ex-army surgeon Richard was professional p hysician. The monks exchanged glances: "Are you thinking, what I am thinking?" "Gosh, we have a situation here." "What's going on?" Greg gazed at them. "What are you talking about?" Christopher explained and the young monk gasped. Patrick, the leader, peeped down the corridor to make sure Myron could not hear them, then turned to his friends: "Today come home about twenty minutes early, w e need to talk about it. Not a word to Myron, okay?"

Saint Valentine's Day Usually the monks returned home one by one. But on the February 14 Patrick, the leader, arranged the common meeting at the neighboring cafe. When all cenobites had assembled, Patrick smiled and the friends exchanged glanc es.

"Well, Myron, we know about Hannah." Ashamed, the monk tried to say something, but he could not find words. "It's okay, Myron, we're all glad to see that you and this wonderful girl are ha ppy together. All of us invested all our money into our sacred mission. Hannah d id it also. But now you need money for your baby. Well," Patrick looked at the o ther monks. "This month we all saved and pooled our pocket money, and, well..." "Surprise!" the monks all exclaimed together. Myron gasped. His friends put a hu ge elegant corsage of flowers, a small box and a gift certificate on the table. Myron opened the box. It was a wedding ring. Seeing that, the couple at the next table giggled. "Oh, brothers..." Myron looked around. "I'm so thankful! I'll never forget this! God bless you all! My dear friends! I want all of you to be there when I propos e to Hannah." "We will!" Kevin smiled. "I've gotta call her..." "No, let's surprise her too!" Farringer suggested. *** The high spirited friends went to the apartment building and went up the stairs together. The door of the apartment was slightly open. The merriment left the men instantly. Now they were soldiers on the alert again. They pricked up their ears and took out their guns. Myron's face turned grayish brown: "Oh, God, please, no!" He held the bouquet an d a bag with the gifts. "Stay behind!" Patrick, the leader, ordered quietly. Obeying his signals, the monks took their places and prepared. On the leader's command Kevin threw the door wide open. Holding guns ready to fi re, the monks stormed into the apartment. They realized at once that they were too late. The apartment was completely ruin ed. The walls and even the ceiling had been splattered with blood. "Don't let Myron come in!" Patrick shouted. But the young monk pushed his friends away and ran into the apartment. He gasped and dropped the flowers and the bag. "Hannah!" He screamed. Calling her name, Myron rushed from room to room. Blood was everywhere. He ran to the kitchen. And there he found her. It... All t hat remained of the woman whom he loved... "Happy Valentine's Day!" blared from the wall, written with blood and red drops oozed down towards the floor.

The town Finally, good luck smiled upon the cenobites. They found information about this town through the Internet. Just about one hundred miles from the city and thirty miles to the next town. Five years ago all citizens left this town without any visible reason. Patrick, the leader, and Victor checked the town out. The church in the town was still in good condition and all communications were easily set up. It was very lucky for the cenobites. And they used it. After Hannah's awful death they moved here, but they still spent almost all thei r time in the city, searching for ways to reach the Beast.

The cat Victor's parents were animal lovers. A lot of pets surrounded him from the first day of his life. His mother especially loved cats. Different colors, but most o f them were short haired, and Victor liked them. One black cat was his favorite. Every time, when he was lying in the bed, night or day, the cat came to him and lay by his side. It purred very loud and melodically, and Victor loved to pet a nd caress it and feel its small muscular body. *** He was on his shift when the awful fire had happened. Both of his parents and al most the all animals died. His favorite cat was gone too. However, some cats ran away, later he saw some of them in the local shelter. As a policeman, Victor often delivered street cats and lost dogs there, and he want ed to believe his pet survived that fire. After the tragedy Victor became a monk, yet he still loved animals and dearly wa nted to have at least one of them. He finally had the opportunity to have a pet when the monks moved to this town. Because ear the t for a in his of permanent danger, the monks preferred to stay in the same building, n church and leave the other houses empty. It was 6:35 p.m. and Victor wen little walk. He went slowly along the streets, as he had done many times town. Abandoned buildings looked strange and gloomy.

Suddenly a tiny black animal ran near a house. Victor noticed it, and sighed, re calling his pet. Although he knew, how careful any cats, especially street cats are, Victor mechanically called it: "Here, kitty-kitty-kitty!" To his surprise, the cat came to him. Of course, it was not his cat, it was a very young animal, about six or eight mo nths old. Victor thought this was why it came to his call and allowed him to tak

e it in his arms. But when he came close to the church, the animal started to show worry and final ly jumped off his arms. Victor did not want to force it to stay. He knew cats di d not like new places. He went to the building and took a few pieces of chicken, then came back. The cat was still there. Victor fed it and smiled with pleasure , watching how the hungry animal was eating greedily. Since that time the cat started to wait for him every evening and Victor was fee ling happy. Tracy was an inveterate cameraman and recorded how Victor fed and pe tted the cat and played with it. But probably the film was defective, because in stead of images of his new pet, there were just black shapeless spots. Victor very much wanted that cat to lie in his bed, as he had in his town, howev er, the animal never came close to the building, where the cenobites now lived. And finally Victor asked Patrick, the leader, about permission to spend nights i n another house. Patrick did not see anything wrong and allowed it. Victor chose the house near where he met the cat the first time. That night he lay down on the bed in that house and called the cat. The animal looked confused. It seemed it was concerned and hesitated. Once it ev en hissed at the monk, and Victor thought with worry, maybe it was sick. But finally, the cat jumped onto the bed, curled itself up into a ball and start ed purring, and Victor smiled with happiness. *** Patrick and Tracy slowly passed the house. "I can't understand Victor," Tracy shrugged his shoulders. "How can he sleep her e, alone, in a ghost town, with a black cat..." The friends involuntarily looked at the building. Strange, reddish light glowed from the bedroom window. "My God!" Patrick gasped. "It's a fire!" They ran into the house and burst into Victor's bedroom. They stopped, they screamed with horror, and they then realized, why the citizen s left this town, after such a monster took up residence here. It, what bent over Victor, was not a cat, not a panther, not a woman, not a SheDevil, not a Sphinx. It was all of them at once. Its tender girl face was turned to the monks. The glowing slanted eyes of the cr eature did not show any fear. Bright white fangs flashed into its mouth when it licked its succulent lips. Swishing its long snake-like tail, the beast stretche d its limbs, and the cenobites saw its huge claws. The monks grabbed their guns and started shooting. Their bullets, made from chur ch silver, should kill any creature whether from Earth or Hell. Its screech made them deaf for a while. Victor sprang up and the monks stopped f iring, and they were afraid to wound their friend. Victor gasped, he stared at the creature, wriggling in the middle of the room.

"Why did you shoot it?" He asked them. The friends became confused. Really, why? It did not harm Victor, and probably w ould have not. But it looked so unusual... So scary... Yes, looked. A light smoke rose from it and now only a motionless body of a small dead cat wa s lying on the floor. Victor took it into his arm, hugged it and cried bitterly. The friends looked at him with compassion, but only animal lovers would be able to understand his grief.

The party "Guess what!" The friends had never seen Richard so excited. "I met an old frien d, Thomas Dufour, we studied together in the medical college, and now he is a ph ysician for some of Noirson's servants!" The monks gasped. "Richard, does your friend know who Robert Noirson really is?" "No, and I didn't risk telling him; tomorrow the Noirsons will have a party. Tom gave me an invitation and I can bring one of you with me!" The monks all started talking at once. "I'm coming!" Kevin suggested. "No," Patrick, the leader, objected. "You hate him too much. Don't forget, whoev er goes should be able to shake his hand, smile and not think about our mission. " They discussed this until nighttime. *** Richard and Steve Farringer greeted the Noirsons without any troubles, but now t hey had another problem: Dufour really missed Rick and kept talking non-stop. Ti me was running out, and the friends had not a chance to do the business that the y had come here for. Suddenly Robert Noirson came closer and looked at them very attentively. He gaze d at Farringer and then at Richard: "Which cat, can I ask?" He heard something a nd got interested. The monk shortly repeated to him the story about Victor's pet. Robert listened w ith visible curiosity. "Yes, these filthy creatures come to Earth sometimes!" Noirson said after Richar d had finished. "Maybe this is why I don't like cats. Independent and mysterious . Dogs are easier to handle. Well, it was a really nice tale! Thank you, gentlem en!" And, smiling, he walked to another group of his guests. All three of them were silent for a while. Thomas started to talk again. But Far ringer felt incapable of keeping conversation anymore. He needed action. Mumblin

g a few excuses, Steve quickly left.

Farringer Steve remembered exactly where the "prayer room" was: poor Hannah told the monks all the details about Noirson's home. But the third floor was closed to visitors. When Farringer went upstairs he saw security blocking the entry. Hiding behind window drapery the young monk wondere d what he could do now. Suddenly Steve heard a beeping sound. The leader of security took out a cell-pho ne. "No, sir," He said into receiver. "Nobody's here." He listened for a while. "Yes , sir! Over." He put the phone back into his pocket, signed to his detachment an d they went away. Farringer could not believe his luck. Hastily, but carefully Steve went along th e corridor. "Fourth door, fourth door... There it is. Oh, God, help me!" Very gently Farring er touched the doorknob, turned it and pulled. The door opened. The heart of the young monk was beating wildly. He came inside and put a small doorstop under th e door to prevent it from closing. Finally he saw the daggers. Lying in a cross shape, they were decorated like mus eum exhibits: the glass, effective lighting, scarlet background... For a few minutes Farringer just stood stock-still and observed. This sight bewi tched the young monk. His sense of duty helped him to take control of himself. H e sighed as if he had just woken up, resolutely stepped forward and started thin king how he should take the glass off. "Do you think it's so easy?" Steve's heart had stopped for a second. He slowly turned towards the voice. Standing on the threshold of the room, Robert Noirson lightly kicked the stopper . "Do you think I'm stupid?" the Beast looked right into Farringer's eyes. "No," Steve smiled sadly. "I think I am." The young monk was not scared, just upset that he had failed and probably ruined the entire mission. Robert closed the door and Farringer shuddered. The young monk was angry with hi mself: his strong and healthy body did not want to die, and Steve could not stop trembling at the thought of being tortured. Noirson was doing something in the dark corner and it seemed he had forgotten ab out the trespasser. The Beast's back was turned to the monk, and Farringer glimp sed at the daggers. A tempting idea came to his mind: "Maybe if I break the glas

s and grab the dagger... If I do everything fast..." But the young monk restrained himself. The glass was probably armored and Steve did not want to look ridiculous by uselessly knocking on the glass, and give the Beast a great reason for mocking him. Robert turned to Farringer. The thin lips of the Beast curved into his sly smile : "No, boy, you are not stupid." "Don't call me 'boy'!" the young monk tossed his head with courage. "My name is Steve Farringer!" "Poor brave boy," Robert sighed. "And are you ready to die?" "Yes, I am!" "But if I haven't killed you yet why do you think I'm going to murder you now?" "I broke into your property, if I had the chance, I'd get the daggers and I'd ki ll you!" "You want to die, poor boy. But you shouldn't blame yourself for what happened." Confounded, Farringer kept silent. "We have something in common, kid," the glowing eyes of the Beast pierced deep i nto the human soul. "Even I was not able to protect my girl from being raped." The old pain squeezed Farringer's heart. The awful unforgettable sights flashed into his mental vision: her moans and cry, their laugh, his own helpless despair . The young monk closed his eyes and said with effort: "Your girl had been raped j ust once and he didn't kill her." "I see your point," Robert lit a cigarette. "But as a monk, you should believe, when you die you'll be together again. But if Mary is burned I'll lose her forev er! We belong to the different levels. Do you want to know, why I married her? L ook!" Robert stretched out a small board. "This picture is about two thousand ye ars old and it, probably, is the best. It's your Lady, the mother of your Lord." The young monk took the board with a reverence, but he was disappointed: her fac e looked familiar, however, a lot of women look the same, even Farringer's ex. "Still no bell." Steve shrugged his shoulders. "Humans!" Noirson snorted. He took out a cell-phone. "Honey," He said into the r eceiver. And Farringer got amazed how tenderly the Beast's voice sounded. "I'm i n the "prayer room", could you, please, come here for a second?" Being interested Farringer stared at Robert with curiosity. A few minutes later Mary Noirson went to the room and surprisingly looked at Ste ve. Robert stepped to his wife: "Kitten, don't move for a while!" Mary obediently stood stock-still. Noirson touched her head. The cloth covered u p the woman's hair, her evening dress turned into a loose gown. Realizing what R obert meant Farringer gasped. The young monk slowly came closer to the amazed wo man, knelt and reverentially kissed the edge of her clothes.

Noirson waved his hand and now Mary was into the modern dress again: "Thank you, my darling, for your help. You can go now." *** For a few minutes the males were silent. Farringer slowly got up. "It's impossible, you tricked me, I can't believe..." Steve shook his head. "How They did it?" "For what They did?" Robert smiled. "'This is the question.' Well, you can go to o. I think your friend has already started worrying about you." "You're letting me go?" Farringer amazed. "Yes!" Noirson opened the door. "Get out of here before I change my mind!" Expecting some dirty trick the young monk slowly went past the Beast. But nothin g happened. *** Steve was at the downstairs, when he heard the low deep voice of Robert: "Farrin ger!" The young monk looked up. "Remember, boy, what you have seen today. Remember!" *** Farringer almost ran to Richard, who was still chatting with Thomas Dufour: "I'm sorry that I interrupted you, but we have to go now!" Dufour tried to say something, but Steve grabbed the hand of his friend and drag ged him away. The monks left without saying goodbye. They did not talk until the y got home. *** "Well?" Patrick, the leader, asked. The cenobites were waiting for Farringer's r eport. "I had a talk with him!" Steve was shaking. "I was talking with the Beast!" The monks exchanged glances. "So?" "It's impossible to steal the daggers, but it will be blasphemy even to try to k idnap Her! It will be sacrilege! Why are you staring at me? If I tell you why, y ou will not believe me!" "Steve," Patrick tenderly touched Farringer's hand. "You're seriously stressed, we'll talk tomorrow, okay?" Richard, the doctor, gave Farringer a tranquilizer, and when the young monk fell asleep, the cenobites had a talk. They were not able to trust Steve Farringer a ny more and decided to act immediately.

Chapter Four: The kidnapping The abduction Mary Noirson was on her way home when it happened. A big elk jumped out from behind some bushes. Mary screamed. Reacting instantly, Ron turned the car. They definitely hit the animal, but it w as just lateral collision. The elk flew high and landed behind the vehicle. Slid ing on the road surface the car spun around a few times, and Ron barely avoided a crash. He stopped the car on the very brink of a ditch. The bodyguards cursed and looked back at his lady: "Oh, sorry, ma'am! Are you ok ay?" Mary nodded: "I was buckled up," She said with effort. "You damn moron!" Jerry roared at his partner. "Why did you turn? The glass is a rmored! It would have withstood the hit! A stag! Big deal! We could hit an eleph ant without any damage to the car! Why did you turn? You could've killed us all! " "Go to Hell!" Ron snarled at him. "I've been driving longer than you've been liv ing!" He tried to explain his actions, but Jerry could not calm down. The bodygu ards started to discuss how necessary that maneuver was. The young servant was s houting and Ron was justifying himself very aggressively. Mary stopped this wran gle. "Shut up, you two!" She trembled with stress. "Get out of the car and check the deer out! What are you staring at me?" The bodyguards did not dare disobey their lady. They muttered as they got out. J erry went to the elk. But first of all Ron squatted near the car. Confused, he c ould not understand why the car lost contact with the road so easily. To his unpleasant surprise, the road surface was covered with oil. Ron frowned. It was disorder. This was a private driveway, and if some of Noirso n's people spilled the oil here, they should have taken care of it, at least war ned other drivers. The road had a turn here, and to avoid crossing the oil was i mpossible. He moved his hand to take his cell-phone, but Mary opened the window: "Why are you dawdling? I said, check the deer out!" And Ron did not make the ca ll. Mary waited inside the car. Soon Jerry came back: "That stupid stag is already dead." "Take it home!" Mary told. "Robert is able to resuscitate it!" Jerry sighed and walked back to the elk. Ron was waiting next to the animal, he took his cell-phone to call and report, but Jerry started talking as usual, very emotionally, and diverted Ron. A few minutes went by as Mary observed how her bodyguards discussed her order. Finally she was tired of waiting. She got out of the car and went to her bodygua

rds. Ron looked at the sound of the slamming door. "Return to the car immediately!" s houted he. Only now Mary recalled instructions that Robert had given her. In any situation like that she have to stay inside the car and keep the doors locked. Mary turned around. Suddenly she heard two strange sounds. It sounded like someone clapped hands twi ce. Mary looked back. She saw Jerry fall down. She saw Ron's body trembling and wrenching on the road. It was so awful that Mary did not realize what was going on. She forgot all inst ructions and disregarded the danger to her own safety. She should have to run to the car, but, full of compassion, she rushed to her bodyguards. The monks had planned it all differently, however, Mary herself made their task even easier. The woman bent over Jerry and saw the blood stream from his broken head. In the same instant she saw men running towards her. Kevin was closer than the others. Yet Mary had prepared herself. She grabbed her gun and fired a few times. But Kevin's armored vest withstood the bullets, and Mary was taken aback for a second and did not react to Tracy's strike. The monk swatted her gun out. She kicked him and tried to escape. It was too late. She was hemmed in by the cenobites. If they were ordinary attackers Mary Noirson could have fended them off even in this situation. Since she was a kid she had been trained in some methods of self -defense. Her strong legs and weighty horned brass knuckles were capable of caus ing severe injuries. But these men were professionals. And was more so, they were fanatics. Even the monk she knocked out still held Mary's arm. Enraged by her resistance the cenobites beat the woman even after she had fainte d. They handcuffed and tied her, then put her into the van.

The information Noirson and his partners discussed their next operation. "On the whole your terms and conditions are acceptable to us." Smiling, Robert w as checking the papers again. "What is the delivery date of the equipment?" Suddenly a beep from the intercom interrupted him. "Mr. Noirson, sir," The voice of Mrs. Ponk sounded confused. "If you would, plea se, could you answer? Line one, sir." "We're having a conference!" Robert roared in temper. "I ordered you not to dist

urb us!" "I really sorry, sir! But he said it's an emergency!" "Nonsense! Connect us!" Robert took the receiver. "Speak! Noirson is here." The reply was like a boom of thunder. "We've got your wife. Wait for our instructions." That was all. *** "Robert! Robert!" Becker shook Noirson's shoulder. "What happened? Talk to us! S ay something!" Robert looked around. He was glad to see only his friends and partners. "Where are the Hungarians?" He asked surprisingly. "I sent them off, we'll continue later..." Thankful, Noirson clutched the hand of his tutor. "You were in a stupor," John whispered softly. "What's the matter, dear?" "M a r y ..." Robert's voice was hoarse. "She has been kidnapped..." "I knew it!" Becker shouted. "I knew something like that would happen! This marr iage was the stupidest act in your entire life!" He stopped short and asked with worry: "What are their demands?" "Probably, that I must come alone with the daggers." Noirson answered very calml y. Becker threw up his arms. Anhella gasped. Dylon burst out laughing. "Oh, in that case, good luck to them," He said sarcastically. "Of course, Robert 's just crazy about her, but to commit suicide for sure? Give me a break!" "Will you go?" Anhella was shocked. "I don't know," Noirson sighed and lit a cigarette. "I don't know yet." Deep silence reigned in the room.

In the church In triumph the monks brought Mary Noirson into the main building. Myron did not take part in the operation; he waited at the church. And now, when he finally saw Mary Noirson, he could not resist his urge for revenge. He rushe d at Mary and swiped at her face. Then Daniel kicked the fallen woman.

"Stop it!" Farringer flung himself to them, but other monks grabbed him. "I suggest we kill her," Myron's voice was stern. "If he wishes, he can resuscit ate her." "No! Listen to me!" Farringer screamed. "Let's fuck her first!" smiling, Kevin threw his jacket off. "Who wants to be ne xt after me?" "Brothers!" The cenobites were startled, as if woken from a fright, and gazed at Farringer. "I made a decision to become a monk after my girlfriend was brutally raped and m urdered. I was forced to observe that! And they held me as you are doing now!" The confused monks released Steve. "What happened to you, brothers? We are not criminals, we are priests! Kevin! Yo u're a monk! How could you even think about such things? Daniel, agree, you have no proof that it was Mary Noirson, who sent the dog! What if you're wrong? Do y ou remember: 'Do not avenge yourselves, but yield place to the wrath of God. '"I will repay", says God'! Myron, the Beast killed your innocent girl. Because of your desire for revenge, do you want to commit an act just as abominable as him? My beloved brothers! Recall! 'Not paying back injury for injury or reviling for reviling, but, to the contrary, bestowing a blessing!' The whole Bible's teachi ng us forgiveness, but we... Look at this woman! Was it necessary to beat her up so brutally?" "She was fighting like ten mad witches!" Kevin shouted. "She tried to pop me!" "Everybody has right to defend himself! 'Stop judging that you may not be judged !' Only God knows, if she's innocent or guilty, but I know, the death of her hus band will be a deep tragedy for her..." Half-stunned, Mary heard the speech of Farringer as a low hum. But the last phra se was awful that she came back her senses at once. "You!" Mary had barely sat up. Her hands were still cuffed behind her back. She attentively glared at Steve, and she recognized him. "You visited us as a guest! You were in the "prayer room"! Mean spy!" She hit Farringer in his stomach with her head. He gasped and stepped back. The hate in her eyes hurt the young monk much worse than her hit. Kevin laughed: "Steve, you need a long spoon to beat her with!" "Please," Mary beseechingly looked around. "I beg you! Torture, rack, kill me! B ut take a pity on him! Oh, be merciful! In the name of God..." "Don't use that word!" Kevin slapped Mary. "Your dirty lips were kissing the Dev il's offspring!" Mary spat into his face. Her saliva was mixed with blood. Kevin choked with rage . He wanted to hit the woman again, but suddenly Myron stopped him: "Enough! Ste ve is right. Let's use her only as a bait for him..." "A bait?" The thought that she, Mary, could be the reason for the death of her b

eloved husband, made the woman lose herself. Her insane cry amazed and even scared the monks. She burst in curses, she was ca lling the names of her attackers, she was damning and threatening them. The men kept silence. Mary Noirson screamed until her voice became hoarse. Then she began to weep sorr owfully. All hope and strength left Mary. Without any resistance she allowed the monks to take her out. Kevin stayed alone in the middle of the room. He was very disappointed and angry , he still desired revenge. Suddenly somebody touched his elbow. It was Tracy. H e held a video camera. "It's a pity that I had no camera, when we caught her. It'd be fun to show the t ape to the Beast!" Kevin intently looked at his friend: "I have a plan..." And Kevin smiled.

Kevin and Monica Nobody knew that Kevin had a personal reason when he agreed to take part in the hunt for the Beast. He started to hate Robert Noirson many years ago. Although they were of the same age, that guy had everything that Kevin desired for himself: money, power and.. . Yes, a beautiful, sensual wife. Monica Noirson. Since he was a kid, Kevin had to think about every cent he spent, this was why h e joined the Army. Everything was fine, but during one operation the vehicle tha t Kevin's friend drove, accidentally crashed, and they all got a few injuries. H onestly, the driver was drunk as a skunk, however, it was not reported and did n ot get into the newspapers. Monica Noirson had visited them in the hospital. While a reporter took some pict ures, she held Kevin's hand. Kevin felt her thin, refined arm. He sensed the ner vous energy of that beautiful graceful lady, he recalled the reports about her d eeds in the charity field. And he thought, probably for the hundredth time, why do some guys have everything in life, and others have nothing? Monica was sensitive enough to notice his feeling. Or maybe, she was just please d with his sincerely rapt gaze. Anyway, it was not necessary, but she petted his head, and uttered passionately: "Get well, my hero!" *** Because he was afraid to become a laughing stock in front of his friends, he had never kept the reports about Monica, nevertheless, he read any and all informat ion he was able to get his hands on. He met her again almost a year later. His unit was to leave the country tomorrow , and Monica attended this engagement. Kevin dared to remind her about their pre vious meeting. And the woman, flattered by his attention, gave him an invitation to Noirson's party.

*** When he saw her wearing the evening dress, enraptured Kevin just stood still for a few seconds, and barely compelled himself to let go of her hand. He thought t hat Robert Noirson can touch and kiss this fantastic woman whenever he wishes. T hat thought made Kevin feel insane, and he flinched with jealousy and hate. During the party he continually admired the woman. Beaming under the bright elec tric lights, Monica looked exquisitely charming. Very tall, almost as tall as he r husband was, elegantly dressed Monica Noirson moved with regal grace. "Princess, princess..." Kevin whispered with delight. He dearly wanted to talk w ith her. But a lot of people were around them all the time, and vexed Kevin had no chance to do that. Kevin kept his eyes on Monica, and he was finally rewarded for his patience. He noticed Monica slip out of the hall and he followed her. But Monica went to a part of the garden closed to guests. Yet he was well traine d and despite his evening suit, he was able to get inside also. Struggling through the shrubbery, Kevin was looking for her. Suddenly he heard v oices. "Why did you run away?" She asked. "I'm tired of seeing and talking to people." Robert Noirson answered dismally. " And I want to smoke." "Give me one." Kevin finally saw them. Just snapping his fingers, Robert lit her cigarette and smiled. The Son of the Devil was proud of his abilities, and he liked to show th em. "Knock off your tricks!" Monica nervously inhaled. "You know I hate it!" Kevin was surprised, as he did not know who Robert Noirson really was. "As you wish, your majesty!" Robert's face became gloomy again. "Why such sarcasm?" Monica asked with irritation in her voice. Moonlit, she look ed even more beautiful than inside the building. The wind was moving the leaves and branches of the trees, and mysterious, fantastic shadows turned Monica in Ke vin's mind into some kind of goddess. "Listen, I wanted only to be alone for a while. Why did you come here?" "Just interested to see where my hubby was hiding." "Now you know. Could you, please, go back to the party? It's not nice to leave t he guests without hosts." "Look, today I met a guy. He remembered me from our last meeting, and it was alm ost a year ago!" Kevin's heart jumped with happiness. He understood, Monica was talking about him .

"I'm glad." Noirson yawned and looked at his watch. "Oh, we really have to go ba ck to "work". Let's go, my darling." "Don't interrupt me, you rude fellow!" "Sorry, honey!" Robert bowed theatrically. "I didn't know it was such an importa nt speech!" "Knock it off! Knock it off!! Knock it off! You moron!" Her ringing voice trembl ed and Noirson frowned: "Why do you shout at me?" He hated high shrill noises. W ell, most males do not like such sounds. "Your permanent mocking," She yelled at him. "is driving me crazy!" "Just driving? I thought, you were already mental." Robert threw aside his cigar ette butt and smiled arrogantly. Hiding behind some bushes, Kevin barely restrained himself. He p that cocky nabob. How could that bastard mock this wonderful evin was not afraid of scandal or even jail. But he knew, that y close, and they would not allow him to do that. And it would rrested or even killed, without any chance to be with her. "That guy remembered me, and..." "What's your point? I remember you longer than he does!" Suddenly Noirson burst out laughing. "Who is more crazy, you or me?" Monica scornfully looked at her husband. "You st upid jerk! Do you ever listen to me?" "Oh, my darling! If that guy is so impressed with you, go screw him!" Kevin's eyes widened in astonishment. He did not expect a respectable man to use such language. But Monica's next phrase was like cupid's arrow had struck his h eart. "Maybe I will..." She drawled. "I don't care." Robert looked at his watch again. "Crap, I'll go. You can stay, if you want. You can go to Hell if you wish! You've spoilt my rest, you damn wit ch!" "You spoilt my whole life, you stupid clown!" "Oh, really? Say it to anyone but me! You greedy rat! Nobody forced you to marry me! You were not a pauper-woman!" "If I knew, what kind of creature you were, I'd never have agreed! Even for all the treasuries on Earth!" "Don't lie!" Robert stared at his wife. "You knew who I was and still am!" "I mean, if I knew, how you were going to treat me..." "How?! What do you want?! I'm showing respect to you!" "Exactly! Showing. You heartless monster! I'm your wife, after all!" "I'm glad." desired to beat u woman! For her, K security were ver be stupid to be a

"For what are you glad? Are you listening to me?" Without an answer, Robert turned away and slowly went to the building. Still tal king, Monica followed him. Trembling, Kevin was alone in the garden. He was so shocked, he just stood still there for a long time. But he could do nothing now. He decided to take a vacati on, and somehow meet Monica again and talk to her. *** He was able to get a furlough only four months later. Excited, he was packing his stuff when he saw a TV-report about her death. He re alized at once that it was murder. And the following scandal only added fuel to the fire of his hatred. The smug faces of Robert and his fiance were driving Kevi n crazy. He resigned and swore to avenge Monica. He pitied Myron very much and could not understand why he had stood up for Mary.

The torture Later that night Kevin persuaded Tracy to act. All other monks were absent; sleeping or preparing for tomorrow's battle. Mary N oirson was locked in a separate building. Her arms and legs were tied to the bed . When Kevin and Tracy went inside, they could do with the helpless woman whatev er they wished. And Kevin did it. Mary was wearing a modern chastity belt. But even this could not stop him, and o nly made him even angrier. He used Mary for his revenge during the entire night. And Tracy recorded all the se actions onto videotape... *** It was 5:26 a.m. when Farringer woke from a deep sleep. His first thought was ab out Mary. He got up and went to check her out. A few minutes later Christopher ran to the other monks. "Hurry up!" He screamed. "Steve and Kevin are fighting! We've gotta stop them! T hey're gonna kill each other!" All the monks rushed after him. First they saw Kevin and Farringer. Kevin was almost twice as old as Steve was. He competently defended himself agai nst the younger monk, attacking him with dreadful rage. "Stop it!" Patrick, the leader, shouted. "Immediately!"

The monks grabbed Farringer. Kevin continued smiling. He did not even try to sta rt a fight again. "Look what they have done! What they have done..." Steve spoke, holding back sob s. Suddenly, he burst into tears, to the other monk's confusion. Only now the cenobites looked at Mary Noirson and gasped. Her face was swollen with tears and beatings. Her mouth was torn, lips had been skinned. A wide wound was bleeding on her body; her skin was torn off in the sha pe of a cross from throat to navel and from one nipple to the other. Greg turned away and threw up. The monks released Farringer. He ran to the woman . Sobbing, Steve started to hastily untie her. Some cenobites helped him. They c arried Mary Noirson into the major building. There was a deep morose silence for a few minutes. "Come on!" Kevin started. "For the whore that she is, it was just stretching her limbs! Remember those reports about her? Even after the betrothal that bitch co ntinued to fuck with other men! She's a druggie and druggist. She organized the murders of Robert's first wife, Pastor James, Hannah and, I'm sure, many other i nnocent people. Come on, brothers! That dirty animal deserved things much worse than what we have done! But for one major reason I did it for this." Kevin showe d them a videotape. "Step by step, every action..." "Why, Kevin?" "I'm not sure that the Beast will come just because of our first threat. But if he sees that, his jealousy, I hope, will conquer his care and prudence."

Kevin It was the longest night in Robert's life. Nobody was sleeping. Sitting stock still in his chair, Noirson was giving necessary orders. Becker an d Mrs. Ponk were making calls, gathering people and forces. Anhella was coordina ting their actions. As usual only Dylon was doing nothing. He sprawled in an armchair and polished h is nails. *** It was 7:16 a.m. when Mrs. Ponk called Noirson. He sprang up and turned his comp uter on. It was Kevin. He was smiling: "Good morning, bastards! Did you have a pleasant n ight? We really had." "You're welcome!" Robert was trembling with hate. "Because it was the last night in your fucking life!" "For your bitch it could be the last night too. So, we tried to make it special. Sorry, we did it without your permission."

"What are you talking about?" "Sweet wiffie, pretty body... You should've also put a doggie muzzle on your bit ch to protect her better." "What do you mean?!" Robert's face went livid. Kevin showed him the videotape: "Would you care to watch it, smart ass? The tota l recording could take a couple of hours, but this is just a summary, about ten minutes." Noirson spun to his partners: "Everybody out!" "But, Robert..." "I said, get out!" The partners went out and waited behind the door. They heard Robert's moan. They heard Noirson's roar. Finally they heard Robert's curses. Then the partners dared to go back into the room. They saw Noirson in a rage lik e never before. Kevin was still smiling. "Welcome back!" He said, when he saw Robert's partners. "What a pity, you've mis sed a few very interesting shots!" "Shut your fucking mouth!" Noirson shouted. "It, sorry, your wiffie has already had it!" The partners exchanged glances. Robert sucked in a sharp breath and took control of himself. "No matter!" He grinned malevolently. "I swear, I'll butcher you all in the next few hours!" "How about your female?" "You can keep her, I don't care!" "Bravo!" Dylon applauded. Noirson bowed theatrically. "Oh, really?" Kevin screwed up his eyes. "Check this out!" The camera moved and now the partners could see Mary. Robert looked down. Anhella gasped. Becker dropped his cigar. Dylon whistled. She was naked. Only the ill-starred belt was on her body, covered by uninterrupt ed bruises. Her cross wound was horribly inflamed and still bleeding. Mary was h andcuffed to a tank. "This is gasoline," Kevin explained. "And this is a wick. One spark will be enou gh. What are you gonna say now?" Shocked, Noirson and his partners did not respond.

Mary mumbled. "Oh, how touching!" Kevin laughed. "This overfucking bitch still calls you even in delirium!" He stooped and kissed Mary's mouth. The partners turned away. Dylon pressed his hand to his lips to hide his smile. Robert's hands clenched into fists: "Never ever do that again!" "Try and stop me!" Kevin laughed. He stooped to the woman again, but Mary was al ready conscious. She hit him with her head and kicked him with both her legs. Ke vin disappeared from the screen. "That's my girl!" Noirson whispered admiringly. Mary watched Kevin. Suddenly she saw her husband on the screen of the monitor. H er eyes flashed with embarrassed gladness. "Oh, honey..." Mary gasped. She smiled, but in the next moment the horror contor ted her face. "Don't listen to them!" She cried out. "Don't come! Forgive and fo rget me! Don't..." Appearing, Kevin knocked her out again with the butt of a machine gun. "Leave her alone!" Robert screamed. "I'm coming! I'm coming! Just leave her alon e!" Kevin smiled with triumph and turned off the computer. *** "Oh, Kevin!" the other monks came inside the room. "It was awful!!" "I told you it was the only way. You could see, he was hesitating."

The decision Robert fell down in his chair and pressed his hands to his face. "What did you say?" Enraged Becker shook Noirson's shoulder. "What, damn you, di d you say?!" Robert looked at him beseechingly. "No!" shocked, John stepped back. "Don't even think about it!" Becker nervously lit a cigar. "John, John, please! You've got to help me! Oh, please, John, help me!" "No way! Our task is to help the Devil rule the world! But not to help His son c ommit suicide!" "If you help me, maybe I'll be able to release her and stay alive?" Anhella uttered a cry. Mrs. Ponk disapprovingly shook her head.

"I don't want to even listen to this crazy talk!" Becker shouted. Enjoying to see Mary's suffering, Dylon even missed Robert's agreement to go to her aid, and now he was surprised: "What are you talking about?" "That loony wants," Becker yelled, "us to help our enemies kill him for sure!" Dylon stared at Noirson. "Look, Robert," Anhella stared tenderly. "Your duty is..." "Fuck you!" Noirson sprang up. "Fuck my fucking duty! Did you see, what they hav e done to her? That's because of me! And I will not leave her with them! And tha t's all!" "Well," Dylon was talking very seriously. "It's even worse than I thought. I thi nk, we have to tie him and lock him in a safe place. When Robert comes back to n ormal, he'll be grateful and thankful himself." This threat gave courage back to Noirson. "Try it!" his voice was calm. *** Robert was striding to his "prayer room". Clamoring servants and partners were s urrounded him. They shouted, asked beseechingly, entreated, threatened. Anhella blocked the door by herself. She knelt, she looked at her Master and lord. Noirson recalled Mary. He "saw" Her... kneeling and glancing at him... Her golde n fluffy hair tickling his thighs... And her lips... At the same time Robert recalled the video clip that Kevin had showed him... Noirson was familiar with that kind of gag. When it was pushed into the mouth, b ehind the teeth, the victim could not scream or close their lips. The lips... Te nder, soft, sweet, succulent lips... Her lips. Groaning, Robert pushed his secretary away, rushed into his "prayer room" and lo cked the door. People shouted, yelled and knocked from behind the door. Yet when their Master finally came out everybody fell silent. Continuation was u seless. Noirson had already made his decision. Nobody could stop him now. The cr owd knelt. "My dear friends!" Robert sighed. "I have to... I must go. Sorry. If you will no t help me, I'm dead and that's for sure. But I will go anyway. If I'm to be kill ed before I'm able to release my wife, you must save her in remembrance of me. I n that event I give you my permission to murder Mary. Just don't leave her with them..." Some of the servants moaned some of the females sobbed. Robert saw Jerry. Shocke d, the bodyguard gazed at his master with such grief and perplexity that Noirson lowered his eyes. "I promise, dear friends, to be careful and not to risk more than is necessary." Robert resolutely raised his voice. "I promise you a victory! My Beloved Father and Lord, help us!"

"Amen!" The crowd responded gloomily, but with hope.

The deal When Noirson finally arrived at the church, he felt irresistible fear. For a few minutes he just was sitting motionless inside his car. He looked at the church and could not compel himself to move. "Don't go!" Anhella moaned. "I beg you!" Very, very slowly Robert got out of the car. This feeling that controlled him, w as stronger than fear, stronger than any sense of duty, stronger than his will t o live. "Jerry!" Noirson called, and the servant went close to his Master. Robert looked around to be sure that only Jerry could hear him. "You're a fool! Do you really think they would not murder Mary, if even I prohibit that? Oh, my girl! You can 't imagine what that bastard did to her! But my servants can do things much wors e. If I'm killed I can't prevent that! If I'm killed you're her only hope. Do yo u understand me? Can I count on you?" "Yes, Your Worship!" Jerry knelt and pressed Robert's hand to his lips. "Don't w orry, my Lord! I'll do it at any price, I swear!" Noirson patted Jerry's shoulders then slowly walked toward the church. First he was barely plodding, but the building, a fight and danger were getting closer an d the Robert's courage was getting stronger and his steps became resolute. *** Robert strode into the church, oozing self-confidence. They were waiting for him. The mortal enemies stared at each other. Steve Farringer was not here and Noirson's face darkened. After their conversati on in the "prayer room" Robert counted on Farringer's assistance. Noirson saw ho w the young monk was impressed, and he hoped Steve would help him to save Mary. All alone Robert was almost certainly doomed, he understood this, but he had no choice. "Where is she?" "Where are the daggers?" Noirson showed them a bag. "How can we be sure they are the real daggers?" Greg asked. Smiling scornfully, Robert took out one dagger. He stretched out his left hand, calmly skinned his little finger and showed them a bleeding scratch. "Is it a real scratch?" Greg would not quiet down. "'Unless I stick my finger into the print of the nails, I will certainly not bel ieve...'" Robert quoted with sarcasm. "Come on, "Thomas", come to me and put you

r fucking finger into my blood!" Greg did not respond. "Okay, where is she?" Robert started to lose his patience. "First give us the daggers." "Release the woman then I'll give you the daggers." "No deal!" "Go to Hell!" Robert burst out with rage. "What's next? Wish to see my hara-kiri ? Don't try to get more than I'm able to give!" The monks exchanged glances. "Can you trust me?" Patrick, the leader, asked. Noirson looked at him attentivel y. "Okay, I trust you." Robert answered finally. "What's next?" "Pick someone else as well." The piercing eyes of the Beast tested the men with animal-like penetration. "Him." Noirson pointed at Victor. That guy was able to take care of such a monst er as his cat was, so Robert hoped this animal lover had enough restraint and pa tience to communicate with him also. "Well, only I and Victor will come closer to you. We'll take the daggers and we guarantee not to try to kill you until you cure the woman." Noirson hesitated. "We swear!" "I have one condition," Robert took a deep breath. "You must guarantee not to at tack me before Mary leaves the building and is not less than thousand feet away. " The monks exchanged glances. "Five hundred feet. In case of an explosion this distance is safe enough." "Deal! Something else?" "Now Victor and I will come to you to search you." "Don't even think about it!" Noirson stepped back towards the exit. "Okay, could you take your clothes off. We'll check them and return them to you. " Keeping silent, Robert undressed himself until nude and threw his clothes to the monks. His naked body was so amazingly beautiful, even to men, that the monks a dmired it involuntarily. "Well, we'll take your cell-phone... Now you can put your clothes on." Christoph er stepped forward.

"Don't come any closer!" Noirson screamed. "Sorry!" Patrick took the clothes and neared Robert. Trembling, Noirson dressed. He felt angry that the monks saw his fright. That is why Robert calmly stretched out his hands when the monks started to demand to h andcuff him. "Who killed Hannah?" Myron asked. "She or you?" "Not she, not me...Well, my people did it. Problem? Didn't like the Valentine's present?" Myron flung himself forward. The friends grabbed and held him. He twitched: "Oh, damn you, the Beast, damn you!" "You're an idiot!" Robert burst out laughing. "I'm already accursed: like Father , like Son! Or do you think you are able to curse more terribly than God? Look, boy, I swore to kill anybody who'd even try to tell Mary about my real status. H owever, I ordered them just to murder, the details were up to Anhella, and even I think she overdid it. Well, that nazi really doesn't like when races are cross ing, but for me all people are the same. Guess why? In Hell all people have the same sufferings! And we've got your Hannah, you're a poor thing! My Father has g ot her! And in Hell we can use it! Do you want to know how?" "Myron!" Patrick sighed sadly. "Do not listen him; he's a liar like his accursed father. And you," He turned to Robert. "If you wanna be able to cure your woman , let sleeping dogs lie!" "By the way," Victor asked. "How are you gonna cure her? You can't use your Powe r inside a sacred building. Can you?" "No, I can't. But when I'm curing or resuscitating someone I'm "borrowing" a dif ferent Power. What are you staring at? Yes, only God the Creator has the Power t o give life. And that kind of Power will work even in your holy pig pen!" Greg slapped Noirson: "Watch your mouth!" A monstrously strong reciprocal hit from the Beast threw the young monk off. Oth er cenobites rushed to Robert, but Victor and Patrick resolutely stepped forward and made them stop. Richard, the doctor, checked Greg out. The young monk was lying on the floor and moaning. "Bastard!" Richard stood straight. "You broke his jaw!" "O-o-o-h," Robert drawled. "I'm really sorry, because I wanted to break his neck !" Victor was holding the monks. Patrick turned to Noirson and whispered sternly: " Do not play the fool, Beast! I can't guarantee your safety if you will not shut up right now!" Smiling, Robert handed over a bag with the daggers.

The Fight When Mary saw her husband, unarmed, handcuffed, surrounded by the monks, she scr eamed in desperation. Farringer released Mary. The woman fell to the floor. Stev e helped her up. He propped up Mary and helped her to Robert. Noirson stretched out his arms. He made magic motions with his hands. He was abl e to cure his wife in a few seconds, but first he needed to understand exactly w hat was going on. "That wasn't in our deal," Robert looked at Patrick. "But may I just hug Mary an d say goodbye to her?" Noirson's voice trembled. The woman burst into tears. "Of course." And Mary fell down to be held in Robert's arms. "When Farringer opens the door you must run as fast as you can," Robert whispere d. "Don't look back, remember the wife of Lot." Steve gave Mary a T-shirt and shorts. She dressed quickly and hugged her husband again: "I won't leave you!" "Look, kitten," Robert was smiling and talking very quietly, yet he knew that Fa rringer could hear. "If I'm killed my servants are going to butcher you. And I'm not sure whose death is going to be worse in this case..." Farringer blanched. He already felt guilty about Mary's torture. He was thinking that he should have stayed with her at night to protect her. And now the though t that the daughter of Saint Mary, Her clone, Her copy! would be brutally murder ed, like his girlfriend was, this awful thought horrified the young monk. Beside s, Steve recalled what Robert's people did to Hannah and his hair stood on end. If the Beast said the truth, and it looked so, a punishment for Mary Noirson wou ld be even much more severe than Hannah had got, and Farringer realized that. Robert had reactions as fast as an animal. Victor lunged with a dagger. Noirson grabbed his wife and placed her under the strike. Mary shrieked when the dagger' s blade ripped her arm from the shoulder to the elbow. "Is that your fucking guarantee?!" Robert shouted. "I can't cure wounds from tho se damn daggers!" "I'm sorry," Victor quickly gave the dagger back to Patrick. "I didn't mean to h arm her." Everybody was shocked that Noirson had used the woman to cover himself, but Mary was happy to take the hit that was intended for her beloved husband. Steve made a decision. Now he was sure that Robert did not lie about his permission. Richard, the doctor, dressed Mary's wound and opened the exit door. The woman ra n away. Patrick, the leader, distributed the daggers. And then Noirson lashed out at Kevin and smashed his head with the handcuffs. Ro bert's feelings as an outraged husband increased his inhuman strengths. The monk collapsed and released the lighter he'd been holding. The cenobites attacked the Beast.

Noirson dodged, but Victor grabbed his arm and swung with a dagger. At that mome nt Steve Farringer threw Victor off. "Thanks!" Robert smiled. "It's about time!" "I'm doing it for Her, not for you!" Steve replied sternly. "I know." Noirson broke his handcuffs with one movement. Then the monk and the B east started to fight together as best friends. "B e t r a y e r !" Christopher shouted and shot. Robert covered Farringer with himself and the bullets did not reach the young man. "You saved my life!" Steve was amazed. "S u r e !" Noirson laughed. He heard the sound of engines. "It's our "cavalry"! " He clearly understood that he and Farringer would not be able to stand a long ti me versus professionals. Besides, the cenobites had a majority. Robert protected the young monk from ordinary weapons, and Steve protected him from the daggers. But retreating, Noirson tried to find a way to reach the lighter. If he could bl ow up the building, all the people inside would be killed and he, Robert, would be able to pick up the daggers without any trouble. The problem was, the Power o f the Beast did not work inside a church, and Noirson needed a lighter to light the fuse of the tank. Suddenly Daniel realized it. "Don't let him get the lighter!" He screamed. Having been exposed, Robert raced to the lighter. Riddled with bullets, Steve co llapsed. Three monks grabbed Noirson at the same time. One of them kicked the li ghter aside, it flew off into the other corner, and Richard quickly picked it up . Robert screamed with disappointment. The cenobites held him very tightly, but when Noirson saw Myron with a dagger, h e twitched with tenfold power. Men could not hold the Beast. He tore himself fro m their hands and kicked Myron in the face. Jumped on from behind another monk threw Robert down. Noirson shook him off. As any animal, Robert knew that his only chance to survive was to keep on his fe et. He tried to get up, but the half-stunned Myron rose with great effort and sh oved a dagger into Noirson's knee. Myron had avenged, partly at least, the death of his beloved Hannah: it would have been possible to hear Robert's screech mil es from the church. *** In the camp Noirson's people heard that and exchanged glances with terror. Mary crossed herself, and the crowd burst out with indignation. "It wasn't him! It wasn't him!" the voice of Mary was trembling with despair. "O h, dear God, please, no!" Mary looked around with dying hope. "Oh, please, tell me, it wasn't him!" "It was him." Anhella replied sternly. "It was his voice. Let's hope, he's just wounded." She took a deep breath. "Anyway, people, we must do what we have to do

. Back to your work people, back to work!" Weeping violently, Mary buried her face into Jerry's chest. Petting her back wit h one hand the bodyguard, however, checked his gun with the other hand. He did u nderstand Robert's hints and he was ready in case of his Master's death to kill Mary himself and save her from a new torture. Jerry could imagine his own fate i n that case, but it was no matter for him. *** Now, wounded, Robert Noirson could not get up and barely evaded next strike: the dagger almost reached him. Just in time Noirson rolled away, and the blade only skinned his chest. Robert screamed desperately calling his people. But nobody c ame, and now Noirson concentrated all his remaining strength on the fight. Apparently, his struggle was over. His enemies surrounded him. They pressed Noir son to the floor, he could not even move. "For James!" Daniel thrust a dagger into Robert's palm. "Remember your dog? You sent it to him! I killed your dog, and you'll be next!" Noirson was already exhausted and had no more physical power to even moan. He sa w the monks lunge with the daggers for the last strike. Hope and courage finally left Robert. He closed his eyes and thought about his Father. Suddenly Noirson heard the sounds of a machine gun. The pressing hands disappear ed. Robert could not believe that it was all over and he had survived. He faintl y opened eyes and rose to see who rescued him. It was Lilitta. She handled a machine gun. Robert's people bent over him. They w ere smiling and talking. But Noirson saw only Lilitta, he looked at her with unl imited gratitude: she was the first person to come inside. It was her shots, whi ch stopped the monks and threw them away. "I saved you!" Her face was shining with a smile. "I had dreamed about it my who le life!" "Oh, really?" Robert asked and lost consciousness. *** Noirson came back from a deep faint when a hot airwave lifted and hurled him ont o the floor. The monks, who were still alive, blew the church up. Robert looked around. Everything was on fire, however, a flame capable of harmin g the Son of the Devil just did not exist. One dagger was impaled through Noirson's hand. He pulled it away. The awful pain almost knocked him out again. Another dagger was stuck in Robert's knee. He tri ed to take it away too, but the unbearable pain became intolerable, and Noirson left it as it was. Robert saw a rifle and, using it as crutch, got up. Shuffling his feet, he stumb led out of the church. But he stopped for a few seconds near the dead burning body of Lilitta and sighe d.

After the fight When the explosion rumbled, everybody screamed and spun toward the sound. One helicopter had been destroyed instantly, the second helicopter was enveloped in flames and crashed into the forest. The third and fourth helicopters had tim e to turn away and were not damaged. Everyone was shouting and talking. They knew that all the people who died in the fire were gone forever. One woman flung herself at Mary and clutched her shoulders: "It was my son!" She yelled and shook Mary. "My only son!" The enraged crowd came closer. Jerry pushed the woman away and covered Mary with himself. "Leave her alone!" He held his gun ready to fire. "No one can touch her without the Master's permission!" "We already have it!" the crowd stepped forward. "We're not sure yet that Mr. Noirson is gone!" Jerry tried to talk calmly. He wa s afraid that everybody would attack them at once, and he could possibly have no time to kill Mary. "Come on, people! I'm sure the Master blew the building up h imself... Poor woman, remember: 'Take your only son and then offer him up as a b urnt offering.' You have done it for our god, and we're all proud of you!" The woman burst into tears and plodded away. But she turned around and screamed at Mary: "Damn you, Jewess, damn you! Oh, dear Devil! Please, send to her the sa me torment!" "Shut up, you stupid hag!" Jerry shouted with rage. "Did you forget the Master's command?" The sobbing woman trudged away and mingled with the muttering crowd. Suddenly, someone screamed: "They're carrying Him! They're carrying the Master!" The crowd was disturbed. Jerry grabbed Mary and pressed the muzzle of the gun to her stomach. "He's alive! He's alive!" Jerry sighed with relief and released Mary. She ran to her husband. She saw him and gasped. Covered with blood, he was moaning, groaning and wriggle d in the arms of his servants: "Mary! Where is she? The daggers pick up the dagge rs! Hurry!" Mary fell into despair again, but Jerry put his hand on her shoulder: "Don't wor ry. If He hasn't died yet He's gonna be okay." Mary glanced at her bodyguard with gratitude and went close to her husband. Noir son grabbed her arm. His hands were extremely hot.

"Honey," Mary tried not to cry. "How are you feeling?" "It hurts, baby, it hurts badly!" Robert was talking with great effort. "Oh, dea r Father, how it hurts!" Mary broke into tears and pressed her face to his burning cheek. "Forgive me!" She whispered. "It's okay, kitten, what's done can't be undone... Hey, have you picked up the d aggers yet?" "Mr. Noirson, sir," Jerry came closer. "I understand this it's not the best time for asking. But how about Ron? I haven't seen him yet..." Robert looked at the bodyguard with sadness. "I'm sorry, Jerry. I couldn't make it. They used silver bullets. In case with yo u it was no matter, but as you had known, Ron was not a human. He's gone." Jerry's face went pale. He looked at his lady. "He's gone..." the bodyguard repeated, shocked. "The deer... It was just a stupi d stag!" He shouted at Mary. "And Ron was killed just because of your whim to ha ve that damn stag alive!" He bit his fist, forcing himself to become silent. "Ron is not the only one," somebody said aside. "I'm sorry," Mary mumbled. "Oh, Jerry, I'm so sorry!" She timidly looked around. Everybody gazed at her with visible hate and powerless spite, and Mary lowered her eyes. "I knew how he was important to you." Robert continued. "If you want, I can resu scitate him in a dog's body." "N o !" horrified, Jerry stepped back. He felt dizzy. "As you wish." Robert shrugged his shoulders. "Come to me later, you'll have to get another partner." "Is that necessary?" "Hell, Jerry, of course! And you know that!" Jerry was disappointed, and Noirson sensed it and got angry. He dropped his voice and added with irritation. "You s tupid boy! I'm upset with his death no less than you do! He controlled you perfe ctly! Now you have to be responsible for yourself! Do you understand?" "Yes, sir." Jerry sighed. "May I go now?" "Yes! Prepare a car, take Mary home... Damn you, Teddy! Did you pick up those fu cking daggers?" The servant took a deep breath: "Sir, we could find only two..." "Are you kidding?" Robert rose. "Did you count my daggers?" "No, sir, they are third and fourth." "You're an idiot! I need all six! Is that clear?"

"Oh, Your Worship!" Teddy was trembling with terror. "Pl... Please, forgive us.. . We're still looking... And, sir, we'd... found... only nine bodies." Robert stared at the servant. "That's impossible." Noirson fell back. "How could that happen?! How could you l et him escape! Find him! Find him!" Robert choked with curses. "Yes, my Lord! Of course, sir!" Teddy stepped back and gave Mary a glare full of hate. "Mr. Noirson, sir," Doctor Akherman said very seriously. "It's necessary to take the dagger away. But it's stuck very firmly. So, sir, can we count on your cour age?" Robert licked his dry lips, nodded and thought: "It's so easy to be brave when y ou have no choice." "Are you crazy?!" Mary yelled. "Do you really want to take it out without any an esthetic?" Everybody looked at her in amazement, and Mary blanched: "Oh, my God!" She recal led that any drugs or pain relievers are not effective on her husband. "Let's do it!" Noirson nodded. Mary saw the drops of sweat on his face. His suff erings, her feeling of guilt were a real torment for the woman. "Do you wanna hold my hand?" Mary suggested. "Yes, yes!" Robert clutched Mary's arm, but released it at once. "No, I'd hurt y ou..." "It's okay. I love you, honey..." "No, no, I love you too." Noirson grabbed the sheet. "I'm ready." Mary saw how doctor Akherman put a piece of rubber into Robert's mouth. Slay gen tly moved Mary away and placed his hands on Noirson's temples. Other servants he ld Robert's body. Doctor Akherman clutched the grip of the dagger: "Ready?" And the servants strained their muscles. His body shuddered horribly. His face contorted with intolerable pain. He was ch oking. Roger quickly took away the rubber, and a nurse put an oxygen mask on Noi rson's face. Doctor Akherman and the nurses started to work on Robert's wounds. Noirson gritted his teeth, wrenched with the agonizing pain and vexation. He tho ught that his friends were right. Mary is dangerous. He lost so many devoted peo ple. But only now he realized the major problem: he lost some of the daggers. Mary had to observe all the horrible sufferings of her beloved husband, who had already risked his life for her. Seized by compassion, Mary came closer and touc hed Robert's hand. "Mind your own business!" Doctor Akherman shouted. Mary recoiled frightfully. She watched how doctor Akherman and the nurses helped her husband to rise. Slay gave his Master a cup. All together they were helping Robert drink. His hands tr embled, and his teeth were knocking on the brim of cup. Dark red liquid splashed and spilled over the brim and dripped on Noirson's arms and chest. It looked li ke ketchup or tomato juice and Mary tried not to think that it could be somethin

g else. Doctor Akherman and the nurses helped Robert to drain the cup and lay down again . The remedy was effective. Noirson stopped tossing and his breathing became stead ier. Sobbing, Anhella bent over and looked at Robert. When he took a deep breath and opened his eyes, she started to caress him; she kissed his face and hair... Mary watched them with amazement and jealousy. Of course, she knew that her husb and and his secretary were lovers, but Robert had never shown that before. "Hey, you German rat!" Mary could not restrain herself any longer. "He's my husb and!" Doctor Akherman and the nurses looked at her with surprise. Anhella tossed up he r wet face. "Yes, he's yours, you Jewish Princess! And I hate you for that! Du Russisches sc hwein! Look, whore, what you have done! Even a concentration camp would be too g ood place for you! Die, bitch! Go back to your fucking Heavens!" "Anhella!" Robert wheezed barely. "Halt die schnauze! Bitte..." "Watch your mouth! Please..." /German The secretary pressed her hands to her face and ran away. Moving very slowly Mar y occupied her spot. Doctor Akherman and the nurses indignantly looked at their lady. "So," Probably, for the first time in her life Mary lost her self-confidence. "H ow are his wounds?" "Well, some wounds are really severe," Doctor Akherman sighed. "Especially the l eft leg. I'm afraid, Mr. Noirson will limp for the rest of his life." "W h a t ?" Mary gasped. "His left leg will not be able to bend any more." Mary recalled how they were dancing, skiing, playing tennis together. Mary recal led the light sliding walk of her husband. And she damned herself. "Is his life in danger?" Mary asked with worry. "Yes!" Robert rose. "Thanks to you, my darling! Now my life is in permanent dang er! Any time I can be murdered! Could you imagine the sufferings I went through before I finally got the daggers! The last one almost killed me!" "But I..." Mary mumbled confusedly. "You should've to stayed inside the car! You should've to stayed in the car!" He shouted with spite. "Stupid doll! Stay-lock-call! Stay-lock-call! Easy instruct ions! They could do nothing while you were in the car! Why did you come outside? Was your butt tired of sitting or what?" "Mrs. Noirson!" Doctor Akherman told uneasily. "You better go home. Now!"

Mary did not dare disobey. Only in the car she put her face on her palms and burst into tears.

The daggers Megan heard the knock on her door. She went nearer and moved the curtain aside. She gasped, she did not want to open it. It was a man about forty years old. He looked terrible. It seemed he had just vi sited Hell. Covering soot and blood, he clung at the jamb of the door with one h and, and held two long daggers with another. "Open it!" He called hoarsely. "Please, in the name of God! Please, open it!" Megan hesitated. She had no reason whatsoever to trust that stranger. But she da red to open, when her golden retriever started whimpering and scraping the door. She deferred to the senses of her pet. Megan opened, and the man came inside. He fell onto couch and covered his face w ith his hands. The girl looked at the daggers with horror. Yet she calmed down a t once. Her dog came to that man, pushed him with its nose and started waving it s tail. Although the man was deep in thought, he mechanically petted the retriev er, and the girl understood, whoever that man was, he really loved animals, and knew how treat them. She took the phone to call ambulance, but the man gasped: "Don't call! Please, d on't call! I won't harm you, I swear!" "I just want to help you," Megan put receiver in its place. "Are you okay?" "I'm okay," the man scratched dog's ears and involuntarily smiled. "But I really need help."

Chapter Five: Love and punishments Jerry and Francine Jerry was a respectable person now, and it was below his standards to visit a ba r like that as a guest, but the Master had given him an errand, and so Jerry had a little "talk" with the owner of the place. He was ready to go when the people in the bar became disturbed. He looked to ent er and saw her. That girl would not be called a beauty, but she was a Female. Oh , damn, she was 100, no, she was 1000% female. She walked like a hunting panther, and her spotty close-fitting clothes only emp hasized this likeness. She silently came to the counter, and sat on the stool. Jerry quickly searched the girl. He found a lot of imperfections. She had amazin g legs, however, her muscular buttocks were too large for her leanness. Her bell y was visibly soft, the breasts were too small for Jerry's taste, and the arms w ere too thin. She dyed her hair a bright purple, and her coarse bangs covered ha

lf of her face. She had a sharp shaped chin and big sensual mouth. Her long nose and piercing eyes made her looked like a lynx. The challenge and love of freedo m shone in her glare. And all this together made this girl fantastically attract ive for males. "What a cat!" Jerry felt going crazy with desire. He already had his mission completed, so he had time for a little fun. He loosen ed his hair, shook his head, and went close to her. The man on the next stool looked at him with spite, lowered his eyes and moved a way. Jerry casually sat in his place, and struck a pose. "Nice night, sexy!" He smiled to her. "Don't waste your fire, big boy." She did not turn a hair. "It will not work on me." "Oh, yeah?" Her soft French accent excited Jerry even more. "What will work on y ou? Money? If you wish to, I can buy this bar and give it to you as a gift. Wann a?" Not looking at Jerry, she gave him the some very stern advice, as to how he coul d use that money in another way. "Tsk-tsk-tsk, oh, girl!" Jerry kept smiling. "How could those beautiful lips pos sibly pronounce such awful words?" Ignoring him, she took out a pack of cigarettes. Many hands, holding matches and lighters stretched out to her, but Jerry just snapped his fingers and lit her c igarette. Any magic actions in public were prohibited for Noirson's people, howe ver, to impress her Jerry would take any risk. She looked at him with newfound i nterest. And he took the emptiness from her with a rose. She accepted the flower and gazed at the stranger. He was wearing nice stylish c lothes, he was very beautiful, but his big naive wide-open blue eyes, with long eyelashes impressed her most of all. That guy stared at her with such visible de sire and admiration, he looked so young and emotional that she thought if she re fused, he could cry. Or kill her. Or kill and cry. Or cry and kill. And she rele nted. "I'm Francine," She smiled. "What is your name, magician?"

Jerry's offer That was just fantastic, it was simply beyond reality... *** Francine silently took the glass from the bedside table. Her long bangs had stuc k to her sweaty forehead and the girl moved them aside with a brush of her hand across her face. "Marry me!" Jerry asked her and surprised even himself. "My dear boy," She sighed. "I can't marry every male who likes to have fun with me."

"But I don't want you to just go," Jerry smelled her bright purple hair, and he laughed with delight. "Try and stop me!" Francine derisively looked at him. "Why, do you have a pimp? It's very dangerous to work alone." Still leering at h er body, Jerry played with the ring on her pierced navel. "Look, I've never fucked anyone for money, I didn't and I will not!" "But I wanna help you... Such a life, what you have, can get you in big trouble one day! You can be raped or even killed, you can get hepatitis or even AIDS, ho w about that?" "If you're scared tomcat," She snorted. "Why did you boink me without a rubber?" "My boss can cure me from any disease." Suddenly a new idea came to Jerry's head . "Do you wanna get a job with Him? You can have fun, nice guys around you, no o ne will force you to have sex!" "Except your boss, eh? I know that kind of man! They think they can buy everythi ng with their damn money!" "It's not only about money. He can guarantee real impunity for all his servants! I could rape you, I can kill you! And my Master will cover me! Do you wanna hav e the same patronage?" "Who is your boss?" She was astonished. "Well, I can't tell you now, we have to talk about that with his butler first." "And that butler would wish to see, how I can "work", eh?" "Don't worry, he's not like that, he's not even human." Jerry gave Francine a my sterious smile. "Cool," She burst out laughing. "It could be fun!" But her face became sad again and she started tenderly caressing his thick wavy mane, the color of fallen lea ves. "You can't imagine, how alone I feel by myself..." "Unfortunately, I can..." He recalled dead Ron, thought about Mary, and he hugge d Francine again.

Jerry's discovery A doctor put twenty six sutures in Mary's wound. It healed very quickly. Unlike her relationships. The next three months the woman spent as if she was in Hell. Now Robert was shunning her. The servants saw this and now they did not even try to show respect to Mary. Tormented with her guilty feelings, Mary had no idea h ow to remedy this situation. Even Jerry did not forgive his lady. His new partne r Rich was not bad, but he could not replace Ron in Jerry's heart.

*** Today, as usual, Mary Noirson was working out in their gym. She was lifting weig hts when one weight fell down on her wound. Someone had cut through the bar. It could not injure anyone seriously, but it did hurt. Mary screamed and burst into tears. Jerry was observing his lady. When Ron was killed, Jerry thought he would never be able to forgive Mary. However, yesterday... *** Jerry did not know exactly what happened to Mary in the church. When he came int o the common security's salon, he saw the other guards watching something exciti ng. "Guys, look who's here!" one of the security shouted. "Come on, boy, you're gonn a like it!" Jerry looked and gasped. It was Kevin's videotape. Who and how this was obtained ? Jerry had no idea. But it was no matter. It was Mary. And Kevin. And Kevin was tearing her skin. Her wonderful soft tender skin! Even the thought s about her skin were making Jerry excited. And that guy tore that skin! He skinned her breasts! For only one touch of her exquisite breasts Jerry was re ady to die. And Kevin skinned them! He was wrecking them! This sight made Jerry dizzy. He closed his eyes and heard the laughter of the ot her guards. Jerry rushed forward, threw down the VCR, kicked it off the table. The servants shouted with indignation, but nobody dared to try and stop him. The VCR broke to smithereens. Jerry grabbed the videotape, broke it too, crumple d the film and ran out of the salon... *** In his apartment Jerry burnt the film and got drunk as never before. He forgave Mary for Ron's death: "He knew what he was risking. It was his job, h is duty..." Jerry tossed in his bed. Nightmares tormented him all during the night. It was Mary... In his dreams she called his, Jerry's name. He tried to help her. But she and the monks were in a room with the walls made of armored glass. He k nocked, kicked, beat, throbbed the glass. He was powerless to help her. And he s aw, watched, observed her and her suffering... It was awful... It was horrible... It was worse than death. *** Jerry came back to reality when Rich poured ice cold water over him.

Jerry sat, he was unable to say a word. He was in such a bad condition that Rich had used the Power to make his young human partner capable of getting up. "Do you hear me now?" Rich shook his head disapprovingly. "G'morning, boy, it's our shift."

The declaration It had happened just yesterday. And now Jerry observed her... His beloved one. Mary was sobbing. He stepped toward her. Mary looked at Jerry and understood that something horrible happened to her body guard. She stopped crying: "What's the matter, Jerry? What's wrong? Something wi th your family?" "I have no family." Jerry came close. "With someone whom you love?" "Yes!" Jerry stepped forward again and suddenly grabbed her shoulders. "It's you , Mary! And I love you!" Mary gasped. "I love you, sunnie!" Jerry was talking as in delirium. "I love you, you tiny bi rd! I love you, Thumbelina! Oh, sunnie! Don't cry!" He tried to kiss her, but Ma ry's face turned stern, and she pushed her bodyguard. "You're drunk!" Mary looked at him with indignation. "Get out of here and send a substitute! You cracked boozer! Today I won't allow you to work with me!" "I'm sorry," Jerry released his lady. "It will never happen again." "I said get out! If it happens just one more time," Mary took a deep breath. "I' ll dismiss you!" "J e r r y !" a servant called him. "Mr. Noirson wants to talk to you. Right now !" *** "Well, well, well," Noirson was smiling. "It's going too far, eh?" "I'm sorry, sir..." Jerry sighed. "But it's your fault!" "W h a t ?" Robert raised his eyebrow. "Are you raving or what, you drunken moro n?" "You!" Jerry could not calm down. "You don't appreciate this wonderful woman! Sh e's suffering! You're ignoring her! The servants are mocking her! Did you lose y our daggers? It's Teddy's fault! That fool let him escape. Not Mary! She got a p unishment too severe! If you can't forgive her then divorce her! Kick her out of your house! Even kill her! But don't torment her!"

"Finished?" Jerry became silent. "Only John can teach me, only my Father can command me, and only God the Creator can force me!" Robert nervously lit a cigarette; inhaled a few times and contin ued more calmly. "You're a very good servant, Jerry! Probably, the best bodyguar d that Mary could have." Robert sighed. "And this is why I forgive you for your crazy talk. I know your devotion and I appreciate it. Now get out! Get some rest and come back to work tomorrow, fresh and clean." Jerry hung his head and went to the exit. "R e m e m b e r , J e r r y." The security stopped and looked back. "I can forgive even adultery for physical reasons, but not spiritual. You can go , Jerry, and keep Mary... Keep her for me." *** Confused with Jerry's emotional declaration, Mary went back to her apartment. Su ddenly she heard the talk of her maids. "Did you see Jerry today?" "Nope, why did you ask?" "Yesterday he saw the tape, of that, what those guys did to our lady. He ruined the salon, beat up fifteen men and got awfully drunk. Rich could barely wake him ." "I'm not surprised. Everybody knows that Jerry's just crazy about her." the seco nd maid responded indifferently. "How many years they have been married? She is probably the only one who doesn't notice!" "I'm sure, she just pretends!" "I don't think so. None so blind as those who won't see..." Mary came inside and the maids became silent.

In the gym The next morning Mary tried to make up with her husband again. When they were having breakfast Mary calmly asked a question. Noirson did not re ply. Mary touched his hand. Robert shouted at her. "Enough!" Mary cried. "Please, honey, forgive me! I'm sorry! I'm very sorry! Why do you torment me? You saved me, risking your life!" Noirson stared at his wife.

"Did I have choice?" his eyes grew narrow. "If I was sure that guy would not rap e you again, maybe I would not come at all!" Mary's cheeks blushed with shame and she hung her head. "It's simply mean to reproach me for that!" She mumbled. "This is not a reproach, just an explanation. You are my property!" He said with spite. "So, only I can dispose of you!" Feeling tired, Mary slowly got her feet and staggered out. *** It was time to work out in the gym, but Mary found that her track-suits smelled disgusting. Angry, she put on her swimsuit and went to the gym. After going inside, Mary looked around and she saw Jerry. He looked so upset and embarrassed that Mary felt pity for him. "I'm sorry," Mary came closer. "I was so sharp with you. But you were drunk..." "Now I'm not!" Jerry hugged Mary and blew in her face. The woman gasped and clos ed her eyes. She melted in his arms. "Sunnie?" Jerry carefully kissed her lips. Suddenly Mary responded and embraced him... Not believing that what he had desired for so long, was finally getting closer, Jerry tenderly put the woman on the sports mat. She was kissing and caressing hi m as nobody had before. Her face was red, she was panting, her body was tremblin g eagerly. *** Jerry wondered how in the beginning he could not like her strong muscular legs. Her thighs were squeezing his temples now; her scent, her taste made Jerry drunk . And he got lost, he forgot about everything... Even about the surveillance camer as slowly moving around the gym. *** Security guards were chatting. They were laughing. Suddenly one servant screamed : "Shit! Eric!! The gym!" Eric looked, gasped and snatched a receiver: "Mr. Noirson, sir! Security. Code T hree! I repeat, sir, Code Three." He pushed the buttons. "Do you see it? Hello?" "I'm watching." "Do you order us to make him stop?" "N o." "It's not too late yet, sir." "It's none of your business! Turn off your monitors. Only the gym's monitors! An d control that nobody, I said, nobody! would enter the gym, until I order it! Ov

er." Eric put the receiver in its place, turned off two of the monitors and looked ar ound. "She's dead." "He's dead." "Two dead bodies." "A "ride to Hell". And the servants nervously laughed. *** At the last moment Jerry recalled other women that he'd had before. He did not w ant Mary to get any infection. "Just a second, sunnie..." He quickly took out a condom. Jerry was taller than Robert was, almost twice as big. The woman in his arms was moaning, her body was curving with his motions. Jerry wanted to make her satisfied. And he restrained, controlled himself, despi te a painful strain that hurt even his belly and small of his back. Only when Mary screamed and he felt her shudders, Jerry allowed himself to enjoy the moment. The woman whispered something, but at this instant the young man wa s not able to realize what she said. *** It was over. She was smiling. Her eyes were still closed. Jerry was embracing he r. He had never felt so happy. The love and tenderness overwhelmed the bodyguard . He admired this woman, he adored her. If she did that, maybe she will divorce Robert and marry him, Jerry. Jerry was imagining. He "saw" their wedding, honeymoon, the first born. More kid s, looking like little versions of themselves. To wake near her every morning. T o eat food made with her hands. To kiss her any time that he wanted... Unconnected dreams about their life were growing in Jerry's mind. "Do you love me?" Jerry tenderly kissed her lips. "My sunnie, my birdie, do you love me?" "Of course, I love you, Robert..." Suddenly Mary said and finally opened her eye s. "Oh, honey, I love you so m..." They stared at each other. Something happened with the young woman. She was sure that she had made love with her husband. At first Mary did not even recognize the man who was on the top of her and insid e her. Also she had never seen her bodyguard with loose hair. His mane amazed th e woman. She screamed and pushed him.

Jerry sat back and the woman crept away. Her face writhed with horror, aversion and disgust. "M a r y..." shocked Jerry mumbled. "Stay away, S a t a n !" She yelled crazily. Sobbing, she ran away. Jerry closed his eyes. His heart was broken, the dreams were destroyed, his happ iness was spoilt irretrievably. 'R o b e r t ' That was what she had called out during orgasm. But in that moment Jerry's mind had been bewitched with enjoyment and had not registered what it was. "She just used me!" Jerry moaned. "She used me for her physical function... as a toilet!" Jerry cursed and pounded the mat: his masculine sense was outraged. Lucky Mary r an so fast. He could kill her. "H e y , l o v e r - b o y !" Jerry heard. He opened his eyes and looked back. It were Slay, Jack, Rich and so me other servants. "Will you come by yourself or have we gotta drag you?" Without a word Jerry got to his feet, put his clothes in order and tied his hair into a ponytail again. He went without any resistance. He knew, everything you do you have to pay for. Jerry wanted to get drunk again, but he used his Master's property without Maste r's permission, and it was time to pay for that.

The "invitation" Noirson was smoking. "Well, Jerry," He inhaled. "Did you enjoy my spouse? How about: 'Neither must yo u desire your neighbors wife'?" "It's the God's command not Yours!" Jerry retorted defiantly. "Good one!" Robert burst out laughing. "Poor, smart, brave boy. So, does she lov e you?" "No, sir..." Jerry hung his head. "She only loves You." "And had used you instead of a vibrator, eh? Dirty bitch." Robert winced and sig hed. "Slut. When I married her, everybody was against it. But I thought she was no ordinary female... Just think, Jerry! I risked my life for that piece of shit ! Thanks to her I'm a cripple, and any time now I could be murdered!" "Kill me, My Lord!" the young servant fell on his knees. "Send me to Hell alive!

Just forgive me..." "Don't worry, Jerry, you'll keep your job." "But, sir..." the bodyguard was amazed and got up slowly. "Look, Jerry, I don't want anyone else to screw my crazy wife. She needs protect ion. Who can do it better than you?" "I beg your pardon, sir, but I loathe her..." "Good! It's a way for your revenge against her." While Jerry was thinking, Robert came to him. Crippled, Noirson had to walk with a walking stick. "Just yesterday you, Jerry, asked me to forgive her. How about it now?" "Sir," the face of the security was red. "I'll never ever again dispute any of y our commands, decisions or orders. I swear." "Any?" Robert screwed up his eyes and touched the bodyguard. Jerry did not move, he was shaken with horror. "Mr. Noirson, sir," He mumbled with effort. "I'm not gay." "Do you want to say I am gay?" Shocked and taken aback Jerry kept silent, and Robert smugly smiled. "I was watching you, Jerry, you were great," Noirson was caressing his young ser vant. "Would you come to my party tonight? I guarantee you'll have fun: drinks, drugs, pretty girls-sex kittens. If the best woman on Earth turned out a whore, then let's use professionals. Maybe we'll be able to forget her mean act." Rober t tiptoed and kissed the guard. "Would you come?" "Why not? Do I have a choice?" A ghostly smile was on Jerry's trembling lips. He had never been so disheartened. His strength, his training, his weapons were po werless in this situation. Even a suicide could not save him. But the worst of it was that Jerry did not expect such a move. After having sex with his Master's wife, the young servant understood that a "ride to Hell" was u navoidable. He prepared himself to be beaten, he was ready to be tortured, even to be butchered. But that kind of punishment would be much worse. And his Master knew it. "Of course, you have a choice, Jerry!" Robert grinned. "I invited you nicely. Be a good boy, and it will be "family" business..." The insinuating voice of the B east's voice became visibly threatening: "I don't think you want the other men t o join us." Jerry choked. His legs give way under him and his hair stood on end. Noirson had enough servants to force Jerry to do whatever he wanted or had planned to give, and the young bodyguard was smart enough to realize it. "Oh, my God..." for the first time during those years, thoroughly despaired Jerr y had used that word. "What, Jerry? I am here. I am your god. So, will you come by yourself or have I

got to send an escort for you?" "I will come, sir!" collecting all his courage, the young security responded lik e a soldier. He tried to keep at least visible dignity, and the majestic Son of the Devil valued it. Yet anyway Noirson could not let such a deed go without pun ishment. No husband could. "Of course, sir! It's a big honor for me!" "That's my boy!" Robert tapped Jerry on his shoulder. "Dylon and John will come too. So, welcome aboard, D'Artagnan! Take a rest until this evening, Jerry." Noi rson limped to the exit. "You were the laughing stock for my servants. Now they will all envy you."

The "forgiveness" Mary ran to her apartment. She felt dizzy, she felt sick. On the stairs she fell down and threw up. She saw servants, she recalled the surveillance cameras in the gym. Being racked by unb earable shame, Mary got up with great effort and ran again. She burst into her apartment. A few years ago Robert gave her contraceptive pills especially for a case like t hat. The woman could never imagine that she would ever need it. Now Mary could n ot even remember where she had put them. Whining with horror, Mary was pulling out drawer after drawer and throwing her s tuff on the floor. Finally she found the pills and checked the expiration date. It was next month. Mary tried to read the instructions, but her hands were shaki ng uncontrollably, she was unable read a word. She saw '2' and hastily took out two pills, grabbed a decanter with water. Her t eeth were knocking on the brim, water splashed and spilled over the brim and dri pped on Mary's arms and chest. She heard somewhere you should take two pills bef ore and two after. She swallowed two more. Now she got frightened that she had t aken an overdose and poisoned herself. Suddenly, Mary recalled that Jerry had used a condom. But she was not sure. She was too shocked to recall or think clear. A deep depression seized the young woman. She plodded to the bathroom and took a shower. "What have I done?" Mary was amazed with herself. "How could it happen? Anhella called me 'bitch' and 'whore'. But I'm much worse. How could I condemn her? She loves Robert and was never unfaithful.." Mary recalled Monica's words: 'You'll g et a young lover!' "No!" Mary moaned. "It was an accident! What happened to me? Am I going crazy? O h, Robert, honey, I love you! I love you so much! I love only you..." Mary did not even try to dry herself and slowly returned to her bedroom and then saw her husband. He was sitting on the chair and propping his chin up his fist.

He looked at her. Mary screamed and fell on the floor. *** When Mary regained consciousness, she found herself on her bed. Robert was sitti ng close by her. "I agree to divorce." Mary forced herself to talk. "Or you can kill me. I won't resist." "Why? Do you love him?" "N o!" Mary cried. And explained quietly. "I'm just no longer worthy of being ca lled your wife." "Mary, darling, remember the Bible's story: 'Let one of you that is sinless be t he first to throw a stone at her.' If he was able to forgive that woman then I c an do it too." "She was not His wife." "Hmmm, do you think he would not forgive that woman if she was his wife?" Robert was interested. "Live and learn. Anyway, Mary, 'Go your way, just from now on p ractice sin no more.'" Mary started sobbing. "I'm sorry, baby," Noirson continued hypocritically. "I left you without attenti on for such a long time. But I had to intensify my security... And my wounds... They still hurt..." his voice trembled very naturally. He knew that his "noble f orgiveness" will cause Mary to suffer much worse than any extremely brutal punis hment he could give her. And his plan worked: the woman wailed hysterically. She was seized with nervous paroxysm. It had never happened before and even Robert got worried. A little. He called for doctor.

The punishment Jerry came back to reality on the couch in the anteroom of Robert's apartment. He recalled all the events of the party and he flinched. He wanted to get drunk again, he wanted to forget all that horror, he wished death upon himself. He was amazed to see the midnight moon. Tonight Jerry had spent so many hours in his own personal Hell, the worst hours of his life, but in reality it was just a few minutes. *** Jerry felt a burning shame, when he recalled his own trembling voice: "Oh, pleas e, my Lord, don't do it to me! I beg you!"

"Don't play the fool, Jerry! You did understand what I invited you for! Are you mocking me? What's the matter? Don't you love me?" "Oh, I love you, Master, but... in another way." "Okay, Jerry, I'll give you a chance to show your love... in another way also. B ut now, just shut up, relax and don't bother me any more! Pay attention to your girl! Enjoy!" 'E n j o y !' It was worse than death. *** In the middle of the party Jerry broke down, ran to the restroom, locked himself in a cabin and burst into tears. Noirson went after him and started to console his young servant. "I do understand how her mean act distresses you." Robert sighed intentionally. "I'm very disappointed in her too." Finally Noirson urged Jerry to come back to the party. And the young servant dar ed not disobey. He thoroughly washed his face, looked at his reflection, and for the first time in his life Jerry damned his beauty, which he was usually proud of. An awful thought came to his head, maybe it was not only his devotion and su ccess in training that Noirson took him into his personal service. In the hall he grabbed the first goblet and drained it in one gulp. Bertha, the girl, came to him and touched his shoulder: "Are you okay?" "Stay away from me..." Jerry did not want to see her, the witness of his disgrac e and humiliation. "Leave me alone." "I can't, my duty at this party is to be with you. But I understand your feeling s." Bertha sighed. "They did it with me so many times, but I do remember how awf ul it was at first." "You were a virgin!" "Yes, forever, every party, because I died as a virgin. When my Love tried to ra pe me, I ran home and poisoned myself." "Are you dead?" Jerry leant back. "Are you alive?" Bertha wondered. Jerry rushed to Robert: "My Lord! She's dead!" "And what?" Noirson smiled. "We are all dead." And he kissed the shocked Jerry o n the mouth. *** Jerry closed his eyes. The party was the perfect punishment. He idolized Noirson, and he was not able to refuse to his Lord and god, even whe n Dylon had "joined" them; joined impudently, impertinently, without any questio ns, and turned Jerry's nightmare into a real Hell.

Anyway, any resistance would be useless. Jerry constantly watched the others, se rving at this party. He could not ignore them, he remembered Robert's warning. H e honestly tried to be obedient, but he threw up and wept with despair. Kneeling and finally crushed, he was only able to sob, dreaming of any kind of death for himself, to free him from this suffering, as if it would bring heavenly enjoyme nt. "Daddy!" Dylon called capriciously. "Your boy has refused me!" "Oh, really? Jerry, is that true? I can't believe it!" "I tried my best!" Jerry gave his Master a pleading look. "Oh, my Lord, forgive me! I can't, I just can't! Be merciful..." "I'm sure you can. You did it to my wiffie, you've done it to me, so, you can do it to Dylon also." "You said, it would be "family" business..." "Sure it is!" Noirson hugged Dylon and kissed his lips. "Who can be closer than my son?" And they started caressing each other. Shocked, Jerry stared at them with amazement, and he felt like he was going insa ne. "Problems, sir?" Slay came to his Master. "I don't know, Roger. Jerry doesn't want to please my son. And I thought, maybe he wants to please you? For a start, eh, Jerry?" That threat horrified the young servant. He summoned all his courage, and until the end of the party he fulfilled all orders without dispute, without thinking, like a robot would. *** Shown his submission, Jerry just avoided a much more severe punishment. He under stood that, but that thought did not console the young bodyguard. He felt awful hatred to Mary Noirson and he damned her and his own feelings to her. Entering the room, Jack Leclerc, the chief of security, carefully touched Jerry: "Sir, (the servants had never called Jerry 'sir' before.) Would you like to go to your apartment? You need rest for tomorrow's shift." The envious, jealous respect that Jack was showing, pleasantly surprised Jerry a nd he felt a shameful pride.

Mary gets her punishment After her morning shower Mary went back into her bedroom, and blushed and gasped when she saw Jerry: "Is it your shift again?" "Now everyday is my shift." his voice sounded lifeless.

"What's wrong with you, Jerry?" Mary stepped forward and looked at her bodyguard with worry. "What happened?" "Thanks to you, I was killed." Jerry was talking with unlimited sorrow. "Mr. Noi rson sent me back. You trampled my heart, Mr. Noirson has fixed it. We are not j ust the Master and slave any more. We are fellow sufferers, we are friends." Mary started trembling: "I need to talk to Robert..." "He's busy now." "I said, I wish to talk to my husband!" Muttering, Jerry took out a cell-phone: "Mr. Noirson, sir? It's Jerry. She wants to talk to you. Yes, I told her, but..." Mary snatched the phone: "Robert! We need to talk, right now!" "Look, baby..." "We've gotta talk!" "Okay, okay, your majesty! I'm coming!" Mary returned the phone and fell into the armchair. *** When Robert entered, Mary jumped up, Jerry bowed and left the room. "Now what's the matter?" "What have you done to Jerry?" "Well, I just showed him that the relationship between men can be much better th an between men and women... What are you staring at me? Wake up, kitten! In the our country it's not condemned any more." "How could you?" Mary shook her head. "You knew, how straight he is! Poor Jerry, how he was shocked!" "Come on, girl, he's of age. He has to be responsible for himself." "He loves you, Robert! He loves you so much! But you abused it!" "Enough!" Noirson lost his patience. "That you have done to him is much worse th an what I did! I said it like a male!" Mary's face turned red and she looked down. "I abused his love! How about you, my dear? You didn't abuse his love, just used it, eh? If you, my darling, were in such heat, you could use some screwer! I ha ve a lot of them among my servants!" "I didn't need a screwer!" Mary cried, she was shaken. "I wanted to feel desired and needed! I wished to feel love!" "Really? Well, in that case, why did you make such faces after? I watched it!" "'Cause, I wanted to get it from you." Mary felt tired.

"Look, baby, your lover-boy will be okay, don't worry. Everything is difficult b efore it is easy. I was gentle, girls were helping. Though, Dylon...Well, you kn ow Dylon... But John didn't even touch him..." "John? Dylon? Girls?! Oh, Robert! Did you have an orgy again?!" "Yes I had!" Robert replied defiantly. "But you lost your right to reproach me f or that!" "Leave me alone." Mary closed her eyes. She heard Robert leave the room. She heard Jerry's footsteps. Before Mary realized what was going on, the bodyguard grabbed her and twisted he r arms behind her back. He pushed the woman onto the bed. Mary fell to her knees , her chest and face were pressed against the blanket. "What are you doing?" Mary screamed. She was wearing only a light bathrobe. Suddenly she understood. "No, Jerry... Stop it! O-o-o-h!! Help! Robert!! Rich! Somebody help me!" "Shut up!" the bodyguard grabbed her hair and pulled her head up. "Shut up, you dirty slut! Mr. Noirson has permitted me to fuck you whenever I want, any time, any place! And I'm just using his permission!" "L i a r !" "When he comes back you'll be able to ask him yourself!" Mary cried bitterly. "What's the matter, dear? I thought you liked to have sex with me! You did enjoy it, didn't you? Or, maybe, you like this way better?" Jerry moved. At this time the pain was intolerable. Mary gasped and felt dizzy. She could not even cry any more. "How do you feel now? I've read somewhere that the way in which a woman had sex the first time, she'll love the most. Is it true? Answer me, bitch!" "You're hurting me!" Mary panted. "Have you cracked or what? You mean bastard! I 'm your lady! I'm ordering you to stop it! Oh, Jerry, please, you've gotta stop. .. I beg you! I think you injured me... I'm hurt, I'm telling you! Stop it! Oh, Heavens, how it hurts!" "H u r t s ? Your asshole hurts? How about mine?" Jerry blurted out and that mad e him mad like never before. "How about my soul?! Is it insensitive? Or do you, whore, think that only bodies can be hurt?" "I can't believe you said you love me!" "Oh, I do! I really love... to fuck you, Mary Noirson!" ***

Everything has an end. Jerry finally left the exhausted woman. He unhurriedly took his clothes off, lit a cigarette, made Mary comfortable on the bed and lay down by her side. "Come on, birdie, let's fly!" He inhaled and started roughly caressing the woman . "I have lots of plans of how we can spend time... You've gotta be an obedient girl! 'Cause, if you're not, I can punish you. Who's gonna protect you?" "You're right," Mary opened her eyes and looked at him with hopeless depression. "My husband betrayed me. My bodyguard raped me... In the whole wide world nobod y protects me." "Oh, Mary!" Jerry gasped and sat back. "What have I done? Oh, I'm sorry, sorry! I'm really, really sorry! Oh, sunnie, please, forgive me! I got mad, I wanted re venge..." "Are you happy now?" "N o." "Anyway, 'the man that handed me over to you has greater sin'," Mary sighed and looked at the man who twice had her, but whom she saw totally naked for the firs t time. He was awesome, so tall, powerful, athletic, he had a great muscular bod y. Mary was even surprised that it did not excite her. "Strange, you worked with me for a long time, but I never asked you, how did Robert find you?" "My story is very usual." Jerry said with bitterness in his voice. "Almost all R obert's servants came to him the same way. I had good, honest parents. But I wan ted action, I wanted adventures! Alcohol, drugs, guns, stealing cars... Some oth er stuff.." Jerry blushed. "A cop shot me. I was dying in the hospital when Robe rt came and offered to give me life. But my life would belong to Him. I just was sixteen! I wanted to live at any price! I agreed..." He smiled confusedly: "You know, I've never told anyone about my first day in the training camp. But I do clearly remember that..."

The training camp "Fights are prohibited!" the chief of the camp said with irritation. The teenager and his future roommates were gazing at each other. There were five youths, all were at least three years older than Jerry was, but it was the youn gest group in all of Noirson's camps. Four of those guys grinned. "Fights are prohibited!" the chief repeated with a threatening voice. He address ed it to the stern faced guy. "I'm warning you, Bernard! The Master himself sent that lad!" He pointed Jerry. They stopped smiling and the teenager cheered up. They would not dare kill or cr ipple him, and he was not afraid to fight. "I've got it, sir." the guy answered calmly. And Jerry understood that Bernard r uled the room.

When the chief left, they slowly walked towards the new guy. They went round him like a pack of sharks circling its prey, and from time to time they glanced at Bernard. He lit a cigarette and still searched an alert Jerry. "Well, well, well," started one of the youths. "I didn't know that they're gonna turn the camp into a kindergarten." "Now you know." Jerry grinned. "Oh, such a brave boy, eh?" "No, it's a girl..." Another youth tenderly petted soft cheek of the new guy. In the next moment he was thrown off by Jerry's punch. He did not expect that legg y teenager to be so strong. "Never! Ever! Touch me like that!" Jerry's boyish voice broke, and he trembled w ith rage. "If you don't wanna have your own dick in your fucking mouth!" "Chill out, mad coyote!" Bernard rejoined. "We're not fags!" "That's good!" Almost professionally Jerry blocked the baiting jab from another youth. It was not a real strike. It was just a test of his readiness, and Jerry felt it and did not hit back. "I'm a peaceful guy!" He voiced with a challenge. "'Cause I don't want Mr. Noirson to waste his Power, resuscitating you!" "By the way, how did the Master get you?" "It's none of your business!" Jerry was still very angry, recalling the operatio n, which he had failed. "I asked you nicely, wolf-cub!" Bernard stared at the teenager. "A pig capped me..." Jerry did not want to go too far. "Why? A heist? Did you boost a car or rip a some place off?" "I had forty eight bags of angeldust with me! They weren't mine, and anyway I co uldn't leave them, having been alive. Yes! He did cap me! And next I sent him to Hell, to follow both his damn partners!" "Wow!" Someone whistled. Bernard smiled. "Join the club, Wolffie!" He stepped forward and shook Jerry's hand. *** "...We had been trained like gladiators." Jerry flinched. "You can't imagine, ho w They treated us and what They taught us! Well, that was my first day in the ca mp. Would you like to hear about my last day? The final test was pretty hard." J erry grinned. "Even for us. They put us one by one into the pool with a shark. A Great White shark, which hadn't been fed for a while and it, was very hungry. T he only weapon allowed was a knife. The task was to not just try and kill that f ishie. When you killed it, they sent you another shark. The task was to die, fig hting to the last breath, and to not show any fear. Mr. Noirson was sitting in h is chair watching us. After the test was done, He resuscitated His future soldie r and sent the next guy into the pool. I was the best!" Jerry pronounced proudly . "Only the fourth shark got me. And I was lucky, it bit me through with one bit e. I died, screaming: 'I love You, my Lord!'"

Mary closed her eyes. "I was lucky!" Jerry repeated, his voice was trembling. "'Cause the man, who had been sent next, wasn't. The shark bit off his foot. He tried to get that damn f ish. He really tried! I don't know, maybe that shark wasn't hungry, or it was si ck, or just lazy! But it didn't attack him as usual. A few minutes later it bit off his hand with his knife. Just one hand! It bit and bit just small pieces! An d that man finally fell into despair. For him it'd have been better if he just d rowned, but he asked for help. He started to scream, he begged us! Mr. Noirson o nly watched. That man cried, and that shark... Oh, Mary! It was so awful!" The woman sat up and stared at her servant. She forced herself to listen to him. She knew her husband could act brutally, but she did not expect such cruelty. "It was so awful, that even we were riled up! But Mr. Noirson turned his d looked at us." Jerry tried to mimic Robert's haughty gesture, and Mary tarily smiled. It was a real royal motion, and only her husband was able hat. "He looked at us, and we fell into silence at once. We all belonged We were his slaves, and we chose that way ourselves! But one man jumped e pool..." *** "Scott, come back!" Robert rose. "It's not your turn, moron!" He laughed. "Leave that loser!" Scott tossed his head: "Mr. Noirson, sir, please! He can do it! Just next time! Please, give him a chance! I'm sure, he can do it!" "I said get out! That's an order!" Robert's face became darker with rage. "I wil l not resuscitate you, if you dare disobey me!" *** "And He didn't..." Jerry moaned. "And after Mr. Noirson looked at us again and a sked: 'Okay, any more heroes here?' He was visibly angry, and we all kept silenc e and nobody dared to lift his eyes. Then the Master lit a cigarette, sat down i n his chair again and sent the next guy into the pool...Those who graduated this camp were not ordinary humans any more. We're killing machines, we're perfect s oldiers! We're afraid of neither pain nor the death. But some things are much wo rse than death..." And he hung his head. "I didn't know that." Mary was shaken. "I didn't know a thing about your past. I 've never thought... Oh, poor boy..." And she embraced her bodyguard. It was a hug of pity only, without any sexual fe eling. And young man sensed it and became upset. head an involun to do t to him. into th

The "love triangle" "Look, guys, I almost forgot..." Suddenly Mary and Jerry heard Robert talking as he walked into the bedroom. "...I wanted..." Noirson stopped. He saw them. Embracing each other...

Mary jumped off the bed: "Is that true?" "Look, I just..." "How could you?" Mary shrieked. "It's base, mean, low act!" "It's not I who started that, babe!" Mary fell silent, staring at her husband. "I just thought that you are a young, healthy, sensual female. If you need sex s o much that you were even able to forget your marriage vows, maybe the man whom you had chosen first..." "You did not forgive me, did you?" Mary asked very calmly. "I did forgive you." A sarcastic smile curved Robert's thin lips. "You're still my wife." Noirson looked askance at his servant. He was putting his clothes on. "Jerry, I'm a little surprised. I just didn't expect that you were going to use my permission... so soon." "Your Worship!" Jerry knelt and started to talk emotionally and resolutely. "My Master, My Lord, My King! Be gracious to me, I'm a nobody! I do love Mary, pleas e, allow me to marry her. Please! I beg you! I'll do anything for that!" Amazed, Robert stared at the young bodyguard and then looked at Mary; he was wai ting for her reaction. "You're a fool, Jerry." Mary sighed as she sadly shook her head. "After such a n ightmare, what you've done to me, I've lost all my feelings for you." "A-a-a-h!" Robert spun to his wife. "You did feel something, didn't you?" "M a r y !" Jerry gasped. Suddenly he thought, though long overdue, he should ha ve told Mary about Robert's permission instead of just using it. Then the woman, being outraged by this mistreatment would be able to leave her husband. But now it was too late. As usual Noirson guessed correctly. He knew his emotional young servant too well and almost did not risk it. Robert wanted to be sure, that Mary would not go aw ay with Jerry, and his plan worked. And now, realizing this, the bodyguard moane d and damned his lack of restraint. "Shut up!" Mary yelled. "Shut up, you two! I hate you both! You gang of bandits! Go to Hell! I'm leaving this Goddamn house right now!" "You'll leave this Goddamn house only when I wish it!" Robert retorted haughtily . "You're my property, my prisoner, my slave-girl!" Mary stared at Noirson. She knew her husband too well. She clearly understood th at it was impossible to force Robert that way. "As my husband you must protect me not only against enemies," Mary tried to talk calmly. "But from your friends and servants too! If you don't wanna divorce me, I demand respect!" "'Demand'? Baby, I don't like this word." Mary closed her eyes. She fell into a trance: "I order you to do this for the na

me of God the Creator." Robert uttered a screech full of frenzy. Mary got frightened: she had never seen her husband so infuriated. "Oh, my God! He's gonna kill me!" She thought. But Robert took a deep breath and gained control of himself again. "Jerry," Noirson was panting as if he had taken a long run. "I'm sorry, but my p ermission is canceled." "But, sir..." "I'll explain that later. Call all people, I've got to talk to them." "Master..." Jerry was shaking. "Could you," enraged Noirson shouted, "just get your fucking ass out of here and do what I said!" Jerry ran away. Robert stepped to his wife and grabbed her shoulder with such strength that Mary 's head shook and her teeth chattered. "If you ever, ever, ever! Ask me like that again, I'll kill you!" He shouted in her face. "I swear! I'll kill you!" "Who are you?" Mary's curiosity was stronger than fear. "At 're some kind of wizard. Next I thought you're the Messiah. ou're an atheist... But you are a believer! Oh, my God! You believer... Who are you?" Mary started to tremble. "Who are first I thought, you Finally, I thought y are a really strong you?"

"I'm your husband." Robert released his wife. "And I'll show respect to you, my darling." And he went away.

The prayer "Let someone smile," Jerry thought, as he slowly walked along the corridor. "Any one, come on, smile at me, and I'll kill you." In that house it was impossible to sneeze without being noticed, and Jerry hated it. Everybody knew about yesterday's "affair" and the following party. Jerry lo oked right into the eyes of every servant and maid, but nobody smiled, and more so, on all the faces he saw strange respect and fear, and he did not understand what was going on. He went to guard room and stared at the schedule of guard's shifts. Jerry tried to concentrate, but he heard whispering and he felt that he was starting to lose control. "That lucky guy..." Jerry heard. He rushed to the security, he grabbed the guard , he hit him. Everybody was afraid of Jerry. However, everybody had friends. Although no one d ared to hit the young bodyguard, pals of that guy and own friends of Jerry very

gently made him stop. "You're not a homo, Al!" Jerry screamed with pain in his voice. He tried to get that guard, but other servants hold him securely. "How could you call me 'lucky? '" "Why did you get mad?" When the fight had began Jack Leclerc, their chief, came from his office. "Al's right! We were all surprised, when you got the promotion instead of a punishment." "P r o m o t i o n ?." amazed, Jerry looked around. Everybody was gazing at him with such jealous envy that he became confused. Two awful thoughts came to Jerry 's head. First, maybe he did not love his Master enough. And second, even much w orse thought: "What if it is a promotion? What if He would like to "invite" me t o all His parties?" Shocked, Jerry tore himself from guard's hands and ran to his apartment. With unlimited despair he looked around; he knew, they would not allow him to bu rn himself to death. Jerry fell on his knees. "I'm sorry!" He whispered. "I'm so, so sorry! O dear God! I'm only twenty-four! You, having the wisdom of billions of years, take a pity on me! Oh, Powerful One , forgive me! Please, dear God, terminate me!" He thought about Mary. "She doesn't love me, and I myself made her hate me!" Jerry looked up with hope. "Nobody would be upset, if I go! If you think I have been punished enough, if y ou really can forgive me even after all my actions, please, please, just termina te me!" He closed his eyes. He believed and trusted, he hoped lightning from sky would strike him, or a huge fist would smash him like a bug. But nothing happened. He heard the knock. Jerry slow got up and opened the door. "Are you sleeping?" It was his partner Rich. "Mrs. Noirson wishes to go shopping ... What's wrong with you, Jerry?" He looked at his human partner with suspicion . "I don't feel you. I have no contact with your soul!" "And what?" Jerry sighed and took his coat. "It's, probably, because of my promo tion. Let's go, never mind." And they left the apartment.

Chapter Six: The discovery Megan Feeling glum, Mary was morosely browsing through the flowers. Jerry was next to her and she felt burning shame and vexation. Yesterday that guy really "made" He r, this morning he brutally raped her, after that he told her a lot of awful thi ngs, and his nonsensical, absurd request-proposal amazed the woman. It was just too much for two days. "Are you okay, Mrs. Noirson?" Megan, the salesgirl, asked carefully. Mary lifted

her eyes and squeezed out a smile: "I'm okay, you?" "I have a problem," Megan was shaken. She was scared to death, but her love forc ed the girl to do this. Victor impressed Megan from their first meeting, when he knocked on her door, an d she saw him, covered in soot and blood, clung to the wall with one hand, and h eld two long daggers with another. They got to know each other, and during the months of their communication they b ecame real friends. Only lately Megan realized, she had more than just a friendl y feeling to Victor, however, she never dared to talk to him about that. Engrossed in his mission, twice as old as she was, Victor had gone through so ma ny ordeals and tragedies, he was a monk and a fanatic, and Megan was hiding her feelings. She did not want to be a burden to him, and she was ready to sacrifice her life to help him. She introduced Victor to the local pastor, Father Warren, and priests told her t he truth about Robert Noirson. Shocked, the girl believed them at once. Mary was a regular customer of the shop, where Megan worked. They met often, and the sal es girl ventured to try and inform her. "Can we talk for a while?" Megan questionable gazed at Mary. "Just a few minutes , please?" "Sure, Megan!" Mary forgot about herself. "What's wrong, dear?" "It's too personal," Megan looked at Jerry. "Can we talk privately?" They went to the staff's room. Jerry checked the room out, locked the window and closed the curtains. He nodded to his lady and went away. For a few seconds Megan kept silent. The task that the girl had was not easy. Ke eping her promise, Mary Noirson avoided all talk about her husband, so the sales girl decided to start from afar. Megan told Mary the entire Antichrist's story, from his birth to his marriage. S he carefully avoided using any names of people or specific places. Megan wanted to tell Mary the whole story first. In the same way she prepared a few articles to show Mary Noirson. It was not the first time the Son of the Devil came on Ear th. Mary believed all the proof was very conclusive. Very, very carefully Megan star ted to talk about recent events: "He murdered his wife, because he met a young g irl and wanted to marry her..." "It's awful, Megan!" Mary Noirson sighed. "You know, I'm the second wife of Robe rt, his first wife died in an accident." "Yes, the Beast made his wife's death look like an accident." Megan dared to tal k specifically. "The Antichrist is so powerful; do you think it was difficult fo r him?. to set fire to oil?" At first Mary Noirson did not understand. "He burned his wife, because, if she died any other way, you were able to ask hi m to resurrect her! But he wanted to be free. For you." "Shut up!" Mary sprang up. "It's not true !"

"It is true! Check these articles again!" "Enough!" Mary Noirson resolutely went to the exit. "It's slander and I don't wa nna listen to it!" "You've gotta believe me!" Megan tried to hold Mary Noirson. But the woman pushe d the salesgirl away and rushed out. Megan did not know what to do now. The scarlet curtains were closed and the bloody shades scared the girl. She desi red to see sunshine again. She pulled the handle, the curtains moved, but did no t open. Megan looked attentively. The thin wire was tangled in the loops. Megan took a chair, put it on the windowsill and climbed onto the seat. The loop s were right opposite her face. Megan started to disentangle the wire. Suddenly a huge black spider fell on her hand. The girl squealed and threw it away, but with this sharp movement she lost her b alance. Megan hit the windowpane with force and fell out. Her head slipped into the one of the loops and the girl hung in the air. Because of the weight of her body the loop tightened, the sharp wire thrusting deeper and deeper into her nec k. It worked like a guillotine. Finally, the headless body fell to the ground near the wall and a few seconds la ter the head, oozing blood, fell onto the snow. *** Mary was on her way home. Jerry and Rich kept silent, but somehow Mary was sure that they knew about the s ubject of the talk that she had in the shop. Mary closed the glass between herse lf and the bodyguards, she wanted to be alone. She turned on the TV and the first thing she saw was a news report. Some quick r eporter had already found out about Megan. He was excited, but tried to talk wit h visible compassion. Mary gasped when the reporter showed the remains of the salesgirl. Suddenly the TV turned off all by itself, yet she had seen enough. Mary Noirson had no doubts anymore.

Victor They watched the news report without a word being said. "I give up." Victor mumbled, putting his hands on his head. It was him, Victor, who escaped with the daggers, and now he was living in the house of the local pa stor, Father Warren. "I've lost all my friends and now that poor girl has been m urdered... Maybe we're wrong? Maybe it's impossible?"

"Pull yourself together!" Father Warren resolutely got to his feet. "God will he lp us!" He said as he walked away. Shocked with Megan's awful death, Victor just sat there for a long time. Luckily , Victor did not know about her love for him. He could lose his mind. Deep in th ought, the monk did not hear the pastor leave the house. The ringing phone gave him a start. Victor answered it. Some woman asked for Fat her Warren and the monk called for his friend. There was no answer from the past or. Victor mumbled a few excuses and hastily put the receiver in its place. He got worried and quickly went from room to room. Father Warren was not here an d Victor started trembling. An awful suspicion crept into his soul. He ran to th e bedroom and pulled out the drawer, where they kept the daggers. His worst fear s were realized; the drawer was empty. Gasping, Victor grabbed his coat and rushed out of the house, but in the anteroo m he collided with an unknown man. "Sorry, I have to go!" the monk wanted to run again, however, the man took his h and and stopped him: "Calm down, Victor! You can do nothing, it's too late..." Amazed, Victor stared at the stranger: "How do you know? Who are you?" "My name is Michael Alter," the man smiled. "Can we talk?" "But it's so stupid! We've gotta stop him!" exhausted, Victor sat on the couch. "He wants to do it alone! We are professionals! And we couldn't kill the Beast!" "Of course you couldn't," Michael sighed. "No human can. Besides, do you really think, if you kill Robert Noirson it will clean Earth off Evil?" "Oh, God! Oh, dear God!" Victor screamed with tears in his voice. "I can't stand it any longer! I have to do something! Please! Please, tell me, what do I have to do!" "Sh-sh-sh!" Alter smiled and sat next to the monk. "Don't shout! Our Father in H eaven can hear even weak thoughts, it's not necessary to cry out loud to be hear d." Victor gazed at Michael. This man was emitting unlimited calmness and hope, and for the first time a sense of deep peace filled the monk.

At home The car stopped and Jerry opened the door and helped Mary get out. She looked in to his eyes: "Did you know about that?" "W h a t ? !" the question took the bodyguard by surprise. "What are you talking about, ma'am?" "Of course, you knew." Mary Noirson sighed. She plodded to her bedroom and fell down on her bed. She felt no fear, just an a wful emptiness.

Mary was not surprised and did not get scared when she saw her husband. "Well," Robert smiled sadly. "What are you going to do now?" Mary shrugged her shoulders. "Want to kill me?" Mary silently shook her head. "Okay, sweetheart, but we both understand that it's impossible to pretend that n othing happened." Mary closed her eyes and tears ran down her cheeks: "I love you, honey... Oh, Go d, forgive me! I still love you, Robert." "G r e a t !" The triumph sounded in Noirson's voice amazed the woman. She stopped crying and looked at her husband very attentively. "What, Mary? You're smart enough to understand what you have to do for me to be with me forever." Unlimited horror seized the young woman: "What?" "Renounce God, divorce or die." He said casually. "No," Mary gasped. "You don't mean that, do you? It's possible for us to still b e spouses! The Bible said: 'wife, do not leave your husband... For how do you kn ow, but that you will save your husband'! It's the First to Corinthians 7:12-16! I do remember this!" "No, my darling, you did not!" Robert retorted irritably. "In the seven-twelve i t says: 'yet he is agreeable to dwelling with her.' But I'm not! I can't allow a potential betrayer to live in my house!" "I won't betray you!" "You already have!" "Okay," Mary closed her eyes. "I'll write a letter, where I'll show my death as a suicide and you won't have any troubles or problems..." "Stupid Catholic fosterling!" Noirson looked maliciously at his wife. "I don't n eed your bit of paper! I'll just make your heart stop or burst some blood vessel that's all! Nobody will suspect me!" "Yes," Mary quietly laughed. "Sorry, honey! I just forgot who you are." Robert felt deprived of strength. As usual her submission put out his anger. "Kitten," his voice was tender. "I'm really sorry, but you leave me no choice!" "It's okay, honey, do it. I was happy with you, I'm not afraid to die." Robert closed his eyes and started to concentrate. But he did not "see" Her. Surprised Noirson tried again, but suddenly he realize

d that they belong to different levels, and Robert called himself an idiot. He opened his eyes and for a few seconds he thought about how to explain to his wife what happened. He did not want to show her his powerlessness. "Sweetie," Noirson finally found the means to say it nicely. "I'll need a letter to explain your death. I can't kill you with my Power, because I love you too m uch." Mary smiled through tears: "I've never imagined such a situation! You're gonna k ill me, but I'm feeling happy!" "I'm glad." Robert said mechanically. He took out a syringe. "Just a little shot . You'll fall asleep that's all." Mary stretched out her arm and did not even flinch, when Noirson made the inject ion. Robert massaged her skin and for a few minutes he sat near his dying wife, holdi ng her hand and checking her pulse. It was getting weaker and started to break o ff... Gone... Noirson sighed. He slowly got up and hobbled away. Robert touched the doorknob when he heard a sound. For this room it was an impos sible sound. It was a hoarse moan. Noirson turned back. She was tossing in the bed. Robert could not believe his ey es. He slowly limped to his wife. Mary Noirson opened her eyes and looked at her husband reproachfully: "Why did y ou resuscitate me?" Robert screamed with fear. He snatched out his gun and shot the woman. He kept f iring until the gun was empty. Her wounds disappeared even faster. Noirson threw away the useless gun. "Please, no more!" Mary slid down off the bed covered with her blood. "Please, n o more! Please..." Squeezed with horror she tried to hide herself from the glowi ng eyes of her husband. He rushed at her, he kicked her. He knew now, he was not able to murder her anyw ay and this thought drove him crazy. Mad with hatred Robert kicked and trampled the woman, whom he kissed and caressed so many times. He beat her until he became exhausted. Noirson stumbled and fell down on the flo or near his wife. He gazed at her: she started breathing again. Mary got up on all fours, crawled, sprang up and ran away.

In the forest Deep into their private forest Mary Noirson started to understand reality again. She looked at herself and got horrified. She was barefoot and almost naked, wea ring only blood stained rags. The snow was almost knee high.

Confused, Mary looked around. "What am I gonna do now? What can I do? Go home? No way!" She decided resolutely . "Go to the police? It's very tempting, but also naive and stupid." She remembe red how easily Robert changed her police record and evidence. Yet for a while she enjoyed dreaming about this kind of revenge. Mary Noirson im agined her husband under examination, in the dock and finally in jail. But the memory about the awful scene that Robert made, took her last strength an d Mary sat down straight into the snow: "Interesting, if I freeze to death will it be a suicide in the eyes of God or not?" Her soul desired death, however, the young strong body did not. A few minutes la ter the intolerable cold forced her to get up. She cried with pain and despair. She ventured to go home. "I'll just warm up and take my stuff. He won't refuse me, I'm sure. Maybe he's a lready sorry for his lack of restraint... He loves me, maybe we can make up?" Thinking this way, Mary Noirson struggled forward through the forest. She was su rprised how easily she was able to wander here. *** It was getting dark, the short winter day neared the end. Mary and Pastor Warren went out on this glade at the same time. It was him, who persuaded Megan to inf orm Mary Noirson. Now he decided to act himself. For a few minutes the woman and Father Warren just gazed at each other. "W o w !" the priest said finally. "Do you wanna take revenge yourself?" Mary Noirson found it funny, but she was so frozen and tired, she had no power t o even smile. "It's none of my business to judge him." She was talking with great effort. "And it's none of your business either!" "Oh, is that so? That's a nice way of thinking! You were raised in a Catholic or phanage and you don't wanna kill the Antichrist?" "God the Creator is powerful enough. If He wishes, He's able to destroy Robert." "But we are tools of God!" Pastor Warren took out a bag. "I have the daggers!" Mary gasped. The sudden low mad roar caused the Pastor to look back. He had never seen such d ogs. "They are wild African dogs," Mary licked her lips and looked around with worry. "They are able to eat up a whole human body; a skull, hair, big bones, everythi ng! But they don't dare to attack you while you stay close to me... What are we gonna do? Oh, I know! The back gate is just a few yards from here! I'll open it for you, then you'll be able to escape! But give me the daggers! I can't forgive myself that he lost them!" Pastor Warren did not respond.

"Look," Mary neared him. "Robert knows you are here. I'll help you, just give th e daggers to me!" "You asked for it, you oman in her chest. Not wled with rage. Pastor st, but I'll kill you, got it!" the priest snatched out the dagger and hit the w expecting this, Mary did not protect herself. The dogs ho Warren heard the sound of engines. "I can't reach the Bea She-Devil!"

He hit Mary Noirson again and again. "R o b e r t !" She screamed and tumbled, but Pastor Warren knelt and continued his bloody action until a searchlight lit up the glade and a burst of a machinegun fire threw the priest into the snow. Jerry was the first to reach Mary. He quickly checked her out, gasped and looked back at his Master. Noirson waved his hand and the snow disappeared from this g lade. Then Robert limped closer and bent over his wife. His face became clouded. "What are you waiting for?" Jerry gazed at his Master with hope. "Cure her! Hurr y!" "Shut up, Jerry!" confused, Robert was thinking. "Calm down!" He touched Mary's neck. He could not feel her pulse. He turned to Slay. "Take her to the hospital, maybe it's not too late." "What are you talking about?" Jerry clutched Noirson's shoulder with such an imp ulse that Robert barely kept his feet. "At least half of her wounds are fatal! I f You don't cure her, she's gonna die for sure!" "You mad dog!" the face of the Beast distorted with inhuman anger, he pushed his young servant away. "How dare you touch me? Have you finally cracked or what? C ontrol yourself!" The servants carried their lady to the helicopter. Jerry went near her. He massa ged Mary's wrist, he panted with sorrow: "Hold on, baby! Please, sunnie, don't d ie! My love, my life! Oh, please, hold on..." Robert trembled, he was not able to suppress his jealousy any longer. "Kill him!" Noirson whispered to Slay. The valet took out his gun. "Nicely," Robert emphasized. The servant nodded, stepped forward and pressed the muzzle of the gun to Jerry's back. Roger Slay was a professional, the young bodyguard did not even realize that he was dying. Even while dying, Jerry still held the hand of the woman whom he love d more than his own life, and the servants could barely unclench his fingers. They left the bodies of the Pastor and Jerry on the glade, and the wild African dogs had a great supper that night.

Again

Doctor Akherman walked quickly along the corridor. He was just wearing a surgica l gown and the nurse ran after him tying it up. The assistant saw the doctor, rushed to him and started to whisper emotionally. The eyebrows of the doctor rose with amazement. "We told Him," the assistant was swinging his arms. "Of course, we connected her , and of course, it's useless... It's just impossible..." They reached the ward. Doctor Akherman saw his team. Everybody looked confused and alarmed. Leaning on his walking stick, Robert stood next to his wife and tenderly petted her hair. Doctor Akherman looked at the monitors, checked out all the connections, then lo oked again. "Mr. Noirson," He said finally. "I'm very sorry, but Your wife is dead. We can d o nothing." Robert turned his head and looked at the doctor. It was a gaze of a wounded anim al: a pain and rage glowed in the eyes of the Beast. "Do something!" Noirson told him. "Just try!" Doctor Akherman shrugged his shoulders, and this gesture killed the last hope in Robert's heart. The doctor and the assistant whispered to each other. Any efforts would be usele ss, and they all understood that. But they did not want to have a "ride to Hell" , so they had to show some activity to please their Master and Lord, and avoid h is anger. Usually the use of the defibrillator impressed observers. The medics gently moved Noirson aside, prepared, and the discharge tossed up the body. Everybody looked at the monitor. "A g a i n !" Robert did not order, he pleaded. They tried again. And again. And again. The assistant helplessly glanced at the doctor, and he looked at Noirson. Robert kept silent. Doctor Akherman came to him: "I'm very sorry, sir. She's gon e." "You fucking doctor!" Noirson grabbed doctor Akherman. "What have you studied in the last quarter of a century since you graduated!" "S i r !" Doctor Akherman hissed with anger: Robert wounded his professional fee lings. "Miracles are Your department, not mine! Ask Your Father! Ask the God, if You dare! But not me! I'm just a human!" Robert released the doctor. "Leave us." Noirson hung his head.

The assistant took the useless mask away from Mary's face. The team turned off t he equipment and left the ward. *** Noirson bent over Mary and tenderly kissed her cold, motionless lips. "I wished her death." He whispered. "But I wanted to kill her myself. That's not fair!" Enraged, Robert tossed his face. "Cruel God! Did You want to double my p ain? You have done it! Are You satisfied? But that's not fair! She's my wife! Sh e's my property! She belongs to me! Only I can dispose of her!" Noirson grabbed the body of his wife. "Give her back! She's mine! She chose me; she loves me, sh e wanted to stay with me! She's mine..." His voice broke with sobs. Noirson care fully put the dead woman back on the table. Robert knelt. Humbling his pride, he ventured to use the prayer that only angels are able to use. He did not promise to change himself, he just admitted he was powerless. When Robert came back from the trance, he looked at the woman first. Nothing happened. Noirson got up slowly. She sighed. Robert stood stock-still. She moaned. Noirson gasped with happiness: Mary opened her eyes. "Robert..." It was her last word, it was her first word. She saw her husband. "Y ou! You saved me! You resuscitated me!" Suddenly, Noirson realized that now he got the only and, probably, last chance t o save his soul. If he openly recognized the domination of God, he, Robert, will be saved and everything will be forgiven of him. But it meant he had to renounce his Father, whom Noirson loved more than himself . If Robert showed God's act as his own, he would be doomed for sure. That kind of sin God did not forgive even to Moses. Noirson hesitated, however, not for long. "Yes, my darling," He said resolutely. "I did it." "But why?" Mary cried. "If you don't trust me, why are you doing this?" "Because, I love you." Robert bit his lip. "Oh, Father, how I love you!" He year ned to hug her, but did not dare. Mary understood his feelings and opened her arms: "Come here, honey!" They embraced each other as a drowning person snatches a life buoy. The whole World: Earth, Hell and Heavens were against them. "We were living together and those were happy years. If we don't try to change e ach other, if we just leave everything as it was, we can be happy again." Who said it? He or she? Maybe they just thought the same thought. But it was the

deal, the agreement, the treaty and the pact. "How much time do we have?" Mary asked. "Matthew 24:36, do you remember, sweetheart? 'Concerning that day and hour nobod y knows, neither the angels nor the Son, but only..'" Robert did not dare to con tinue. "...'But only our Father in heaven.'" Mary finished the quotation. "Well, let's just love each other as long as we can..."

The maid A few days later Mary dared to ask about Jerry. She did not want to upset her hu sband, so she decided to ask her maid. Today was Francine's shift. It was Jerry who found this Canadian girl, besides, Mary overheard some servants say he was Francine's pimp, and she addressed her. The maid stood still then slowly turned to her lady. The white headdress on Fran cine's bright green hair looked like snow on the grass. The girl changed the col or of her hair again. She was doing that every week with more and more frequency . Mary could not understand why and this irritated her. The maid stared at her l ady, and did not reply. "What?" Mary felt vexation. "Are you a little slow? Where is Jerry?" "Slay gunned down him, and the dogs ate him up," the girl said with a cold voice . Mary hung her head. She felt awfully guilty, but she thought it was the best sol ution for all three of them. "And it happened because of your heat!" the maid continued impudently. Surprised, Mary gawked at the girl. The cat-like Francine's eyes glinted underneath her long green bangs. She looked like a lioness gazing through reeds, and the amazed Mary even thought Francine had lost her mind and was going to attack her. "Disappointed?" the maid did not turn a hair. "Did you want to fuck again?" "Are you drunk or what?" Mary gasped. "How dare you talk to me like that?" "Pourquoi pas?" the girl asked calmly. "Why not? Did you think he only fucked yo u? Hah! He didn't fuck Joanne and that's because she's a lesbian! Of course, aft er such a hubby that you have, you certainly need some nice sturdy guy, eh?" "Get out of here, you crazy whore!" Mary yelled at the maid. "I am a whore, am I?" Francine snored. "What about you, my lady? I am not marrie d, I didn't promise any man that I'd belong to him, and only him!" "Yes, I am your lady!" Mary haughtily looked at a livid Francine. "I'm not surpr

ised that horny youngster had fun with probably every female in the house. But J erry loved me, and no one can dispute that!" "Loved?" Francine laughed intentionally. "My poor naive boy just wanted to taste the Master's stuff! Well, it was not the first time your hubby shared a female with his servant, eh?" "Big deal!" Mary's eyes grew narrow. "As I know, you were able to seduce even yo ur own daddy, you slut!" "I am a slut, but I'm not a hypocrite!" "Your stupid screwer was just a slave!" Mary cried out. "And I can use our slave s, however I want!" "Well," Francine smiled. "And I can do whatever I want with your hubby!" Keeping a smile, she left a shocked Mary. *** At the diner Mary ate, not looking at her husband, and Noirson got worried. "What's wrong, honey?" He asked finally. "That cranky Montreal mam'zel made a scene with me." Mary did not lift her eyes. "Oh, Francine surely could!" Noirson involuntarily chuckled with delight. Mary t ossed her head, and Robert did not have time to change the composure of his face . His laugh died instantly under her mad glare. The jealous spite in the eyes of his wife surprised and even scared him. "I don't wanna have her as my maid anymore, and I want you to order that no pros titute can leave the building C without permission from now on!" "Look, kitten," Noirson replied uncertainly. "I will order that, don't worry! Bu t Francine... She's not a usual slave-girl, she came here voluntarily, she has a contract..." Mary stared at her husband, and for the first time in their communication Robert sensed her Power. Without a word she got up, and went toward the door. Noirson hastily moved to follow her. Mary stopped, looked at her husband, and he careful ly hugged her. "I'll do anything!" Robert kissed the stern face of his wife. "Anything, that yo u wish for!" Mary smiled. She beamed like the sun, and Noirson embraced her tighter. They wer e together, she was with him, she was his, she belonged to him, and Robert moane d, enjoying that feeling.

The new page Mary Noirson was in the waiting room, watching TV and browsing through some maga zines. The young woman was waiting for the results of her tests and was very wor ried.

*** The first weeks after their reconciliation had passed as if only a few days and were like a second honeymoon for the Noirsons. Mary and Robert spent all their f ree time together, and they were not thinking about the future and not recalling the past. Mary did not ask her husband about Jerry, and Noirson was glad. The Son of the D evil, he lost Jerry's soul, and was very surprised when he discovered that. Well , it was a usual defeat, and, as he said at their first meeting with Jerry, it h appened sometimes. But it still hurt, and Robert did not want Mary to know about that. So, the Noirsons lived happily together like newlyweds and were enjoying each ot her like never before. This was why when her "regular days" did not come Mary Noirson got worried. She was afraid that their reckless sexual life could be reason for some injury or tr auma. *** The nurse called her and Mary Noirson went into the office of Dr. Sarah Northber g. They were alone in the room. The doctor gave her a significant silence and Mary was scared to death. "Mrs. Noirson," doctor Northberg started finally. "I am a female also, so I thin k we can understand and help each other." Least of all did Mary expect to hear that. "Scratch my back and I'll scratch yours. I will not ask a lot, just triple your usual payment check to me that's all." "Why? What's wrong with me?" "You're pregnant, Mrs. Noirson." Mary gasped. The Noirsons did not use any contraception during those years and s he had almost lost all hope of becoming a mother. It was a sharp change from wor ry to happiness that the young woman could not say a word. "Don't worry Mrs. Noirson," Sarah Northberg continued confidently. "We can do it without informing your husband." Mary's eyes opened widely. "The abortion at this stage is very easy. You can come here tomorrow and I will fix everything." "Are you raving?" Mary gazed at the doctor. "What are you talking about? I won't have an abortion!" "Really?" Now it was the turn of the doctor to be amazed. "Look, I know your hus band very well and I strongly recommend you do not test the limits of his love f or you."

"Enough!" Mary Noirson got to her feet and left. As she was leaving she looked b ack. "You need a vacation, doctor!" "You need a punishment, stupid!" Doctor Northberg mumbled with rage and she pick ed up the phone. *** At home Mary ran to her bedroom, jumped on the bed and embraced herself. She was overflowing with happiness. She closed her eyes and started to say a tha nksgiving prayer for herself. Mary was so impressed that she fell asleep despite it being daytime. That had never happened before and her sleep was very light. She woke up when Robert came into her bedroom and heavily sat into the armchair. His face was so sad that the woman did not dare to smile. "What's wrong, honey?" Mary asked with worry. "Doctor Northberg called me." Taken aback, the woman kept silent. "So," Robert sighed and continued with a unnatural smile. "Well, Jerry had done a great job, eh?" "What do you mean?" Mary gasped. "Don't be so naive, baby," Noirson did not look at his wife. "You did not become pregnant all those years with me, but when you got another male..." "No!" Mary screamed with despair. Now she understood the doctor's hints. "He use d a condom..." Her face blushed, the racking shame squeezed her throat. "And the second time... Oh, my God! He didn't... I didn't think... No... It was just a f ew minutes. Maybe less... I don't know! I don't remember! It's no matter, finall y! Do I have to explain why? You bastard!" She yelled at her husband. "It was yo ur fault! During my life I've been raped three times because of you!" Noirson di d not reply and she burst into tears. "Oh, what am I talking about! Oh, I'm sorr y, sorry, honey! But anyway I was on those pills..." "Kitten, no contraceptive is one hundred percent safe." Robert looked at his sob bing wife with compassion. "And sometimes it is enough to have intercourse to be come pregnant. That son of a bitch! I did warn him, honey, honest!" Noirson sigh ed. "I'm very sorry, my little lamb, but you have to have an abortion." Mary stared at him, and Robert got confused. "Look, bunny, I forgave your "affair", but I can't forget! It still hurts, babe, sorry! If you keep this child, it will be a permanent reminder. You know, I'm h ot tempered! It will be hell for all of us. Please, try to understand!" "I understand." Mary replied tiredly. Suddenly a new thought came to her. "We've gotta have a DNA test to find out! Maybe God will be merciful to us and it's yo ur child?" "Merciful? My child?" Robert repeated with bitter sadness. "I have the chromosom e set of the snake. This is why no woman on Earth can be pregnant to me. But you 're not an ordinary human being. Who knows, maybe we can mate... But in that cas

e, if it really is my baby, it's going to be a monster; a cross between a human and an animal." It was too much. Mary lost consciousness. *** When she opened her eyes, she saw her husband speaking on the phone. "11 a.m.? Great! Yes, she'll come. Thank you." Robert put the receiver down and turned to his wife. "Are you all right, sweetie-pie? Tomorrow, 11 a.m. Trust me, baby, it's the best way in any case." He came close to Mary, bent over to her. He started kissing and caressing her, b ut the shocked woman looked at him with so such grief that Robert stopped at onc e. "I'm really sorry, honey." He tenderly petted her hair. "I'll see you tomorrow." He kissed her one time more, stood up, sighed and stumbled out. *** For a long time Mary Noirson laid on the bed. She was thinking. She knew that it was impossible to leave this house without being noticed. But s he decided to save her child at any price. "Of course, it's Robert's child, no doubts." Mary said for herself. "Monster..." the woman closed her eyes. "But it's my blood, my flesh...If God sent it to me. .. My long awaited baby, I won't kill you, don't worry! I'm sure, your father wi ll accept you some day." Resolutely rising, Mary started to prepare for tomorrow. *** Mary Noirson did not come down for breakfast. Her husband was able to read her t houghts. She waited near the window and when she saw Robert's business car, she waved her hand. Noirson waved too and the limousine went through the gates. Mary pressed her hands to her face: "Forgive me, honey..." She did not cry, but her heart was broken.

Martin Mary Noirson kept a smile until her new bodyguard Martin Rawlins left the ward. Then her face became stern and concentrated. At first Mary called a taxi. From her purse she took out a rope, a fishing line, and a prop. She opened the w indow and looked outside. She planned just to get down, but now she saw that a g arage building was very close. It was even easier.

Mary fastened the rope, got outside, jumped, swung and landed on the roof of the garage without any troubles. She pulled the rope, quickly rolled it up and then pulled the fishing line. The prop fell out and the window closed. Mary took all her stuff with her to trash it later. Mary Noirson got down to the street just in time, the cab arrived, and she did n ot even lose a minute. She knew that a pursuit would start very soon. *** Shocked, Martin looked around the empty ward. He took out his cell-phone: "Georg e, we have a problem..." When his head partner came, they both together checked the ward. Finally George looked at Martin Rawlins with suspicion: "I hope, you did not hel p her escape?" Martin's face was pale. "Okay, call the Master, and pray to His Father that Mr. Noirson won't send you t o Hell alive." *** Robert arrived half an hour later. "What the hell's going on?" He looked at the bending George and kneeling Martin. "I didn't understand a thing in your crazy report. Where is my wife?" Rawlins was able to only moan. George took a deep breath: "Sir, we have no idea. " Noirson stared at him. "Martin left her here, for only about three minutes, but when he went to check h er out, she was gone." "Are you raving or what?" Robert shouted. "What do you mean 'gone'?" "Sir, she just disappeared." Now it was Noirson's turn to be surprised. He looked around, went to the window, lifted the frame, looked outside and gazed at the garage roof. "Was the window locked?" Robert spun to the bodyguards. Everybody looked at Rawlins. "Martin, did you check the window?" "It's the seventh floor!" the servant mumbled. "So, you did not..." "M a s t e r!" Rawlins screamed with despair. "I'll find her! I swear!"

"If you, moron, were so stupid that you lost her, do you think you are smart eno ugh to find her?" Noirson snorted. "Take him!" Two of Robert's men stepped forward, grabbed Rawlins and disappeared. "Well, George," Noirson lit a cigarette. "Why did you teach Martin so bad?" "Oh, My Lord, be merciful!" the servant fell on his knees, he was shaking with t error. "He was my partner for only a few weeks..." "But you're an experienced bodyguard! How could you make such a mistake! You sho uld've checked that damn window first!" George hung his head with hopeless depression. "Well, it's human to err. George, you worked with me for a long time. I know you r devotion and I appreciate it. This is why I give you a chance: find her within seventy-two hours or I'll send you to follow Martin. Is that clear?" "Yes, sir... Thank you, my Lord..." Suddenly a new thought came to Robert. He grabbed the hospital phone. "I need all information about calls from this phone for the last twenty four hou rs," Robert listened. "Thank you." He put down the receiver and looked at his me n. "Fellows, we have a clue, she called a taxi to the address on the next street . Okay, people, let's go!"

Plans "Oh, really?" Dylon Noirson was speaking on the phone. "Have they split up?" Dyl on thought for a while. Smart and skillful, Raymond was Dylon Noirson's best man , and Dylon used him for all the difficult missions. "Look, Raymond, when she's tracked down, I wanna be the first to get the information. Do anything, but I wa nna be informed before Robert. Do you remember, how she mocked you as she kicked you out her apartment? Now we both have a chance to avenge us! But don't put An hella in that! I don't want any trouble for Her! Do you understand? That's my ma n!" Dylon put down the receiver and smiled. He was very excited with his new idea. *** Anhella Vixen gloomily browsed through the information. Slay and Raymond were wa iting for her instructions. The situation was awfully absurd. All three hated Ma ry Noirson mortally, and desired her gone forever, however, their sense of duty forced them to do their best to find her and send her back. Roger Slay got the instructions first. But before he left the office, he stopped near the door and gazed at Raymond. Slay did not have the same abilities as his Master had, yet he was not human, and sensed that Raymond was blocking his mind as Dylon Noirson had taught him. Now Roger realized that Dylon Noirson had projected something. And it would cert

ainly be no good for the Master's wife. And Slay hesitated for a second. But his loyalty to Robert overcame his own feelings for Mary Noirson. "Raymond," Roger said finally. "You have to warn your master!" Dylon Noirson's helper jumped, glanced at Slay and did not reply. "You both would be in big trouble if I report that to Mr. Noirson!" Anhella turned her head and attentively looked at them. "Mind your own business and I'll mind mine." Raymond mumbled with effort. That m onster in a the human body scared him to death, however, his devotion to Dylon N oirson was stronger than any fears. "Yes, Roger," Anhella supported him. "Go, we all have a lot of things to do." Her voice sounded so significant that both males stared at the secretary. "I don't want the Master upset, you stupid humans!" Slay got angry. "I said, you can go!" Her metallic voice made Roger smile. "Dear Miss Vixen," He responded. "Don't try to scare me, little girl. Be sure, i f you get a "ride to Hell", I'll be the first to greet you." The humans kept sil ent and he left the office. Raymond sighed with relief. "Okay," Anhella licked her lips. "What does Dylon think up?" Raymond took a decanter with water: "Please, don't you start too, lady. Let's ju st work, all right?" The secretary smiled: "Okay." She understood.

The pursuit Mary had no experience with escaping and then avoiding recapture. She thought th at if she changed a few cabs and went in different directions on "Greyhound's" i t would make tracking her difficult. She was wrong. More people saw her. She use d wigs, but Noirson's men had different pictures of her. People easily recognize d her. The ring around Mary was tightening. *** Mary had a lunch in "Wendy's", when she noticed them. If she was not so alarmed, she would not understand a thing. However, she had been married to Robert for t oo long, and she knew too well what it meant when people slowly passed someone. Mary calmly got up and went to the restroom. Two girls followed her. Mary stood in front of the mirror and pretended to check her make up. She ribbed

her lips and put her hand into her purse as if to get a lipstick. But she grabb ed her brass knuckles and knocked out one girl. The second girl blocked Mary's attack; she was a professional, however, she dare d not to hit back the wife of her Master. For a few minutes Mary and the second female fought without a sound, but Mary dreaded every second thinking that the g irl would call for assistance. Suddenly Mary noticed another woman come from a stall and she pushed her attacke r. The opening door hit the girl in her back, she lost control for a second and Mary's punch reached her. The woman from the cabin looked around with horror. "Help me to tie them!" Mary held the woman at the point of her gun. They did it using pantyhose and scarves. After, Mary also tied the woman, and le ft from the window. She raced towards the bus, it was already moving away and Mary felt despair, but the bus driver noticed her and stopped, and opened the door and the woman quick ly got inside. *** On the "Greyhound" Mary took out her pocket tourist guide. Worried, she decided that when she got into the next town she would take a train.

The bus "Are you sure she's on this bus?" Dylon looked down with doubt. The helicopter w as flying over a highway. "Well, let's check it out." *** When the bus suddenly stopped Mary had a scare. But she saw men in police unifor ms and almost calmed down. Her husband was so powerful and had enough people, he would not ask for assistance from the officials. Men in police uniforms came aboard the bus: "Sorry, a prisoner has escaped. Plea se, prepare your Id." Mary took out her fake driver's license. Robert taught her some tricks, and the license looked like a real one. The man in police uniform took her Id. Mary called all her self-confidence and c almly gazed at him. "Thank you, ma'am," the man returned her license and checked the next passenger. A few people had no Id. They got out of the bus. Mary looked through the window at how the man in uniform sat in the police car and started working with his com puter. She was angry and worried about this delay, but she was glad that they di d not take her. The man inside the police car made a call: "Sir, she's here."

"G r e a t!" Dylon giggled. And the helicopter flew away. A few minutes later the bus continued the interrupted trip. *** A gasoline truck was coming in the opposite direction. Dylon Noirson stared at i t. The truck driver fell asleep. The vehicles were getting close to each other. Suddenly the truck turned and hit the bus. The bus driver did not expect it and had no time to react. The vehicle s slid on the road and collapsed into the ditch. A few seconds later the explosion sounded and Dylon smiled with triumph.

George Robert was checking the papers when the door of his office opened without any pr evious announcement. Noirson rose with wonder. It was George. He crept into the room on all fours. He stopped in front of the d esk, put his face on the floor and covered his head with his hands. He was not a ble to talk. Robert looked at the door and saw Anhella. The countenance of her face struck hi m. Noirson fell into his chair. He understood. He took the receiver and made a c all. "Yes!" Becker's voice became tender. "Oh, my poor boy! I'm so sorry! But it's no t my fault." Robert closed his eyes: "Deliver him to me. Deliver Dylon to me." "Oh, I will!" Noirson slowly put the receiver back and looked at his secretary: "Verpiss dich, Hexe!" "Get out, witch!" / German Anhella lowered her eyes and closed the door. "G e o r g e !" The servant lifted his head. He gazed at his Master like a dog that knew it was his fault. "I said, if you want to get my absolution you have to find her. "Alive or dead". You did find her. So, I forgive you. You can go. I'd like to be alone for a whi le." Relieved, George sprang up and was off the room like a shot from a gun. Robert put his elbows on the desk and buried his face in his palms.

Freedom When Mary Noirson opened her eyes she thought she was in Hell. Everything was en veloped in flames. Dead burning bodies were piled up on top of her. Uttering shrill screams, she made her way out of that nightmare. Outside she fell onto the road, and an oncoming car barely avoided hitting her. The woman driver jumped out of the vehicle: "Are you okay?! What happened?" Without a word Mary opened the door and sat on the back seat of the car. The wom an sat on the driver's seat and repeated her questions. "Drive!" Mary said hoarsely. "Please, just drive out of here!" Mary was surprise d that her purse on the neck chain and her shoes were not badly damaged. But the wig and her clothes were gone. Only soot and ash covered her body. The driver continued to talk and Mary lost her patience. She snatched her gun: " Drive!" "Oh, my Lord!" the driver pushed the gas pedal, the car accelerated away and the driver cried. "Please, don't shoot, I have three kids!" "I'm sorry!" Mary quickly hid the gun. "I don't mean to harm anybody, I just wan t to save my child." "Your child?" the woman looked at her strange passenger with newfound interest. "I'm pregnant. My husband was forcing me to have an abortion. But I got away and now he's after me. This accident ruined all my plans..." "It's just a miracle that you survived a blast like that!" Only now stricken Mary Noirson realized exactly what had happened. Mary recalled , how she rose from death in her room. "He wished my death..." She could not help her tears. "Maybe he blew up the bus? " "I need to make a call," Mary looked at the woman. "I'm sorry that I scared you. If you don't trust me, feel free to drive away, but if you believe my story, pl ease, wait for me. I really need help." She wanted to open the door, but the dri ver stopped her: "You can't go out wearing only that!" The driver took off her c oat and jeans. Mary looked at the woman with gratitude, dressed and got out of the car. *** When Robert heard the sound of his personal phone, he got surprised: the number on the display was unknown to him, but it was a direct call. Noirson pushed the button: "Hello? Who is this?"

"Robert..." Mary could not talk, sobs choked her. She heard how Noirson exclaime d: "You're alive! My baby, my kitten! You're alive!" His sincerely happy voice d ried up Mary's tears and she smiled: "I will pray for you, honey." Mary sighed a nd hung up. "W a i t!" Robert gasped, but the phone was already dead. He looked at the numbe r, quickly checked the map... But suddenly a new, devilishly tempting thought came to Noirson. He bit his fore finger and thought for a while. Finally he snorted, resolutely took the receiver and made a call. *** In the mall Mary bought underwear, clothes and a suitcase. She went outside and smiled when she saw that the car was still in the parking lot. Mary put the suit case into the trunk and got in the car. "Thank you for waiting for me." "My name is Paula Rattle," the driver introduced herself. "What is your name? I mean, what name should I call you?" Mary smiled: "Mary Vasquez." She shook the hand of the woman. "I'm a teacher in the local elementary school," Paula continued. "I'm meeting a lot of people, maybe someone can help you. For a few days you can stay with us, I just worry about your gun..." Rattle laughed. "Gee, maybe you're a criminal, m aybe you're even one of the most wanted persons, but for some reason I trust you ! What's going on with me?" "Look Paula, it's okay, I'll stay in a motel. All I need is information. Can I c ount on you to help me with it?"

Males "Go, go!" Becker pushed Dylon in his back. "Don't touch me, old fart!" Dylon Noirson snarled. He looked at Robert with worr y. Noirson was keeping silent. "Did you wanna see me, dad?" Dylon smiled ingratiatingly. "I wanna kill you, son." Robert mimicked him. Dylon Noirson gasped and Becker la ughed: "As you brew, so must you drink!" "You were warned!" Noirson shouted and pounded the desk. "Give me just one reaso n why should I forgive you?" "I love you, father!" Dylon knelt. "She left you, she was unworthy of you!" "Is Francine worthy of me?"

Partners gasped. Dylon got up: "What do you mean, dad?" "I asked her to marry me and she agreed." John Becker exchanged glances with Dylon Noirson, and they both burst out laughi ng. "Robert, my boy, why?" Becker shook his head in amazement. "'Cause she doesn't wanna fuck him!" Dylon smiled impudently. His insolence got back to Dylon Noirson when he as usual, got away with everything. "That's why, I 'm surprised that she agreed. She doesn't care about money and you, dad, are too busy and old to fuck her enough." "Did she say that?" Robert felt how the blood rushed to his head. "That bitch, e h? John is not too old, Roger is not too old, eh? But I am, am I? Mmmmm..." He m oaned. "Oh, fucking bitch... But in that case, why did she agree?" "Probably, because she's pregnant." Becker shrugged his shoulders. "W h a t?!" Robert jumped from his chair. "Why didn't anybody tell me?" "You didn't know? It's about four months now." "Oh, shit ... Any suppositions about the lucky father?" They all burst out laughing together. And for a few minutes they browsed through possible candidates. But the list was too long and the game became boring. It c ould even be Jerry, he was Francine's pimp after all. Noirson was surprised hims elf, why in this case with Francine that the chance of Jerry being the father di d not hurt him, as the pregnancy of Mary did. "Well," Robert finally sighed. "I've gone from the frying pan into the fire, but no flying from fate. I can't get away from being a daddy. So, how should we arr ange my wedding?"

Chapter Seven: The ordeals Francine The headline caught Mary's attention. She saw the name of her husband and grabbe d the newspaper. It was a report about his wedding. Mary felt her legs give way under her: "He kn ows I'm alive... And in spite of that, he got married! He got married less than two months after!" The picture on the front page amazed Mary: the bride with bright blue hair opene d her wedding dress. The censor put a black box on her breasts, but everybody wa s able to guess: she was not wearing a bra. However, it was not the Francine's action which shocked Mary, but Robert's face. This sight struck the woman to the bottom of her lovefull heart. Noirson looked at his bride so enthusiastically, with such a visible adoration and admiration that Mary fell as though dead. ***

At first Mary sensed the smell of liquid ammonia. She coughed and opened her eye s. She was lying on the floor in the shop, the salesgirl massaged her wrists and a crowd was gathered around. Mary still clutched the newspaper. Without a word, Mary got up and went to the cashier, paid for the newspaper and even waited for the change. After Mary left the shop, she dumped the newspaper into the first trash can.

The Children A vociferous cry from the newborn sounded so loud that the glass windowpanes tre mbled and tinkled with resonance. "What a baby!" Robert exclaimed, watching the nurse. She was struggling, trying to swaddle the child. "We need a bigger table! Don't drop her!" he warned, worried. The girl kept howl ing and kicking. She was not crazy - when the medic left her for a second, the b aby stopped crying, yawned and stretched. "What an independent person!" Robert chuckled with admiration. Francine's moan reminded him that it was not over yet. He turned to his wife wit h impatience. If the girl is so strong willed, he thought. What about the boy? There was silence when everybody saw the next child born. Weak and feeble, he wa s obviously ill, and Robert grimaced with disgust and disappointment. The boy did not make a sound. "What happened?" A concerned Francine rose to see her child. "Is he alive?" The doctor did not respond. "I don't think we should try and keep this wuss," Noirson said with antipathy. "No!" Francine screamed. "In the name of God, Robert, help him!" Noirson roared with anger. Then approached the boy and touched him. The child croaked faintly. The woman fell back, sobbing, and pressing her palms to her face. With a glum look, Robert neared her. She grabbed his hand, and sque ezed it gratefully. "Thank you," she whispered, and for the first time Robert sensed her tender feel ings for him. "Oh sweetheart!" He barely knelt next to her. "Please, don't cry! You just shoul d have not asked me like this..." "Cure him!" Francine said, not looking at her husband. "Make him healthy!"

Robert paused. "I can't change his DNA," he confessed finally. "And if he's sick with a natural reason no angel can help him." "He has a chance," the doctor assured. "He's not injured, he's not mentally sick , he simply has a weak build." The medics took the children away, leaving Robert alone with his wife. "I'll find the best pediatricians," he said, kissing her arms. "The best doctors in the world! I'll do all that I can! For you... For your kids... For our babie s..." "Please, promise, you'll never harm them!" Francine looked deep into his eyes. "I swear!" he uttered impulsively. "I swear to the Devil!" *** The next morning when Noirson woke up Francine wasn't next to him. Not worrying yet, he went to the bathroom, then checked her apartment. She wasn't there either, and his smile disappeared. He called Slay. "Where's Francine?" "She told me she was going to surprise you," the valet said, and this explanatio n dispelled Robert's concern. *** After his lunch, Noirson tried to call Francine again. But there was no answer from her apartment or from her car. Her cell phone was t urned off and all Robert's suspicions returned to him. "Who's working with her today?" he asked Slay when they got into his limousine. "I'll check," the butler answered. Anhella was in the car too and they continued their business talk, but suddenly Roger's face darkened, and Robert didn't fini sh his phrase, gazing at him. "What happened?" "She ordered the shifts to be switched," the butler explained. "But just now her car was reported found with Bernard's partner tied up inside. They used Holly l inens, and he, as a demon, could not take them off. I'm afraid, sir, she escaped ." Listening to this, Anhella couldn't manage to block her mind. "It's not the same!" Robert replied to her thought. Bitterness sounded in his vo ice. "Mary ran away because she loved me, and Francine... Why does she treat me like this? Wait a second, did you say Bernard helped her?" "Yes sir." "He's Jerry's roommate from the training camp?" "And his best human friend." "Damn!" It explains everything!"

"But you have her children. You can use them as hostages." "No, I can't." Robert said through clenched teeth. "She took my word to take goo d care of them. Smart move! She knew, I'm not a human, I can't break my promise. " "We'll find her anyway, I swear!" *** They did it. But it was too late. "This is not her! This is not her!" staring at the charred corpse, Noirson repea ted as if in delirium. The body was burnt beyond recognition, but he saw a ring on her belly. "Francine, my love! No..." He touched the ring on her pierced nave l, he recognized it, and he shook his head. "How did it happen?" "She was drunk and smoking in bed... We're very sorry!" *** It was a deep tragedy for Robert. It was not just a loss, it was a defeat.

Mary lives alone While looking for a job, Mary had moved a few times. But finally, good fortune smiled upon her. Mary found it. A monotonous and unint eresting, minimum wage job, however, they paid for health insurance covering pre gnancy and childbirth and in her current situation that was the most important t hing for Mary. Besides, this plant had its own day care with fifty percent off for employees. T hough Mary was still using Noirson's money for herself, she was not sure about u sing it for the child, whom he did not want. *** Mary worked not only fast, but skillfully. She had often visited the factories a nd plants of her husband, and Robert and his managers explained to her how to pr actice management. Now Mary used her knowledge. And moreover, outraged with his marriage, having been racked with jealousy she v entured to use some secrets that Noirson had shown her before. The manager noted her great job and reported that to the owner. Mary got a raise and promotion just three months after she started work. The owner had a talk wi th her and even promised to send Mary to courses for management training. That conversation was on Friday and a joyous Mary decided to have a little celeb ration for herself. In the grocery story she chose a pizza. She loved pizza. However, she was gainin g weight. It was a natural process in her condition, but Mary worried about ever

y pound. She had no opportunity to work out every day, as she had done at home, yet she tried to stay in shape. Finally she decided to take a small vegetarian pizza. Tomorrow would be Saturday , no work. So, she will just walk for an extra two hours. "Hello!" She turned her head and frowned. It was Matt Gratton. Mary was young and pretty, and despite her pregnancy some men tried to get know her, but she replied so sharply and sternly that they did not repeat their effor ts. Only that guy still kept hoping. Somehow he understood that the woman was suffer ing a lot, and he felt pity for her and did not mind her cold treatment. "May I help you with your purchases? It's not good for you to handle heavy bags. " "It's none of your business." "Why are you always so rude to me? I just offered to help..." "I don't need any help. It's a weekend, and I'm tired of seeing and talking to p eople. I wanna be alone. Could you, please, just let me be?" "Yes, it is a weekend. Do you feel no loneliness? Is it not boring to spend a we ekend all alone?" "I'm used to being alone." "How about your family?" "I have no family..." She recalled Jerry's the same answer and got angry. "To be come pregnant isn't necessary to have a family!" The pain in her eyes and in her voice upset Matt, and his tender feelings to her became even stronger. "But I just..." He started. "Look," Mary interrupted him. Her voice sounded tired. "If you ever, ever! try t o talk to me again, I'll report you to the police for stalking me!" He gasped, looked at her with sad reproach and slowly walked away. Mary sighed. Her child moved inside her and she smiled. It was the only thing in her life now that was bringing her pleasant feelings.

Christina On her way home Mary thought not about Matt, but about Christina, a Jehovah's Wi tness. She met her here at the plant. Recalling Hannah, Mary did not refuse to t alk with Christina during lunch time and sometimes after work. Christina visited

Mary together with her friends and soon Mary got to know all the people from th e local congregation. Mary did not try to become close friends. All her life she felt alone and, as sh e said, she was already accustomed to this. But those people were thoughtful to Mary, they were interested in her life and helped her. And two weeks ago Mary hi red Christina to clean her house, because it started to be difficult for her. *** Mary parked her car, took the first bags and went to the kitchen door. Suddenly on the steps she heard some sounds. Although the lights were turned off , somebody was in her kitchen and in the salon. Mary stood still. After the wedding of her husband, she realized that the search for her was over. But she had too many bad experiences in her life. She was alw ays ready to fight. However, she was pregnant now, and she thought about retreat . But she saw some shadows on the window and understood, whoever they were, they were around her. She decided to go forward. Christina and her friends heard Mary entered the house. When she stepped inside the salon they all exclaimed together: "Surprise! Baby shower!" and lit the ligh t. Everybody was shocked. Mary held the gun ready to fire. She looked around the decorated salon, saw the confused faces of her well-known friends, then she understood and, gasping, she dropped the gun. *** Touched to the bottom of her soul, Mary finally relented and since then she star ted taking part in regular Sunday meetings of the Jehovah's Witnesses.

The child And again Mary found good luck. At the meeting she met a doctor and she dared to talk to him about the problem d isturbing her during the previous months. "I got a huge dose of radiation the first month of my pregnancy," Mary's face wa s red. She hated to lie. "And I'm afraid, my child will be... mutant." "Pray to Jehovah," the doctor looked at Mary with deep compassion and gave her h is card. "I'll deliver your baby and I will be ready in case your apprehensions come true." *** Mary called him just one week later. It was her time and the woman was scared to death.

She had an easy delivery. Nevertheless, when Mary gave the last push and finally felt how the doctor took away her child, the intolerable horror squeezed her and she did not compel herse lf to look at her baby. "Congratulations, Ms. Vasquez," Mary heard the doctor's voice. "It's a boy." Mary slowly opened her eyes. He was human. The happiness overflowed from Mary's heart, but one bitter thought spoilt all he r joy: "It means, he's Jerry's son..." And she burst into tears. Mary missed her husband dreadfully, she forgave him and hoped to get him back so me day. And now this hope was gone. Mary remembered their last conversation too well. "Why should a poor innocent child suffer, because of his mother's lust?" M ary hugged her son and closed her eyes. "Good-bye, Robert, good-bye, my beloved Beast..."

Mary and her son Two months had passed since she gave birth to her child. During the past three months Mary has been taking part in afternoon meetings in the Kingdom Hall of the Jehovah's Witnesses. However, she was still a Catholic. Mary had baptized her baby, and every Sunday morning she visited the local churc h. It was Monday afternoon, and Mary was preparing herself and her son for the meet ing. She washed the dishes after lunch, and started changing her son. The child gazed at her, and his blue eyes, shielded by long eyelashes, searched his mother's face. Mary shuddered. "How he looks like his father!" she whispered to herself. "Will I ever be able t o get accustomed to it? He is my son first of all!" Mary made an effort to compo se herself, and continued her task. But when their eyes met again, she had to st op. If I'd known for sure that you were Jerry's son, I would have had an abortion, s he thought, feeling a hot wave of anger rise in her soul. Then she chastised her self: No, how could I even think about that! Poor child! Why didn't you breastfeed him then? A mocking voice in her head teased her. Go o n, let Jerry's lips touch your body again. You did enjoy it, didn't you? Mary straightened, her eyes closed, and felt tears coursing down her cheeks. "Reminder..." she moaned. "Oh, Robert, what the right word did you find?" Her th oughts went to Francine. "Why did you marry her? How could you, Robert?! Did you want to punish me? But I already have been punished enough. Oh God, forgive me my sin..."

She tried to say a prayer, but the image of Robert appeared in her mind. She saw his sly smile, his thin lips, curving like snakes, his long sensual fingers. Sh e felt his charming touch and caresses. She fell into a dark fantasy chasm and a ll her love and burning desire tormented her like a hellish flame. A meowing sound brought her back to reality. She looked at the boy, and for the first second, she could not make the connecti on between her dreams and this child, who was obviously demanding her attention. Summoning all her sense of duty, she forced herself to continue her routine. Mary changed her own clothes, checked her purse and hesitated for a while. Then she picked up her firearm and had a long, hard looked at it. Why do I have it with me all the time? she thought, skillfully spinning the gun. She swung it, checking its weight. No one is after me. It's a small, peaceful t own. It s so stupid to take it to a meeting of Jehovah's Witnesses. They don't han dle any weapons, why should I do this? So Mary put the firearm into the drawer, locked it, and then took her son into h er arms and left the house.

The gun They had already sung a song and one of the men pronounced the open prayer. Anot her man took his papers and went to the central table to deliver his speech. Suddenly the door of the hall opened widely, and people in black leather clothes ceremonially walked inside. They all held machine guns, and they carried with t hem a big cross. The leader, a stern faced girl, came to the central table and took the microphon e. "Hello!" She smiled. "Do you think, you serve God in the correct way? How can yo u do that without that?" With her signal, her people placed the cross in the middle of the hall. "So, anyone of you, can come here and kiss this?" the leader pointed to the cros s. For Jehovah's Witnesses it was impossible, however, Mary was a Catholic and did not see anything wrong in such an action. She calmly got up, put her son on the bench and walked to the cross. She kissed it and silently went back. She had rea d somewhere that with terrorists you should show your submission for your safety . She was worried sick and the only, but painful thought was running through her head: "Why did I leave my gun at home today?" "Okay," the leader girl looked disappointed and was taken aback for a while. "We ll, you serve your God, eh? But we are serving to the god of Earth! We are servi ng to Satan the Devil!" The attackers all shouted together and some of them shot .

People became panic stricken. Women grabbed and embraced their kids, men stepped forward covering them. Some people rushed towards the exits and even to the win dows, and they were the first killed. Other people bunched in the middle of the hall. Mary whispered to woman next to her: "Hold my son, please." She passed the child to her. Mary checked the distance to the closest attacker and lunged at him. The youth did not expect that, and she grabbed his machine-gun. Kicking him, Mar y threw him away. Other attackers shot, but Mary flung herself onto the floor, s he rolled over and sprang up, and she avoided being killed or even wounded. The skirmish had begun. Men grabbed chairs, women fell down, covering their children . If anyone except Mary, just one more person, had a gun, they would be able to be at off these attackers. But she was alone, she could not control all enemies, an d when one smart guy flung himself into the crowd and grabbed her son, Mary was not able to prevent that. She stood still and dropped the machine-gun. Now they could force her to do what ever they wanted, but they did not need her submission, they wanted another acti on. Yet at first Mary did not guess that he was going to do, even when this guy took out his switchblade. Mary thought it was a nightmare, no, she just died and she was in Hell. She saw the blood of her son, and she heard screaming all around. But she did not utter a sound. She could not breathe at all. Suddenly she recalled the woman, who lost her son in the blast, after her, Mary' s, kidnapping. She recalled how that woman damned her: 'Oh, dear Devil, please, send her the same torment!' and she thought: "Why did her god accept her prayer, and my God did not?" And she laughed hysterically. She howled, losing herself, and spun to the attackers. "Do you think you serve the Devil in the correct way?" Mary shouted, her eyes we re sparkling like emeralds. "You have no idea about Devil! You," She turned to t he closest guy. "They kicked you off the school team! Why do you think the Devil will punish them? They were right! You should not smoke if you wanna be a sport sman!" "How do you know?" He gasped. "You!" Mary addressed the next girl. "Your parents did not pay attention to you, eh? Do you think if you do these things it will be revenge for their indifferen ce?" The girl recoiled. "Shut up!" the leader girl screeched. But Mary did not hear her. "You," She went toward the next member of this gang. "Your parents gave you anyt hing that you wished for! Do you think the Devil will give you more?" Livid, the girl did not reply. "You," Mary looked into the eyes of another guy. "You wanna serve the Devil for money and impunity! Hah! His father," Mary pointed the body of her son. "He had

the same thoughts! He did just one wrong act! And his Master fucked him, and kil led him, and wild dogs ate him up! Wanna have the same fate?" "How do you know our thoughts?" the youth mumbled. "My husband has taught me to do that!" Mary arrogantly looked around and pronoun ced with insane pride. "Because I was the wife of the Satan's son! I was the wif e of the Son of the Devil!" "You're a liar!" the leader girl yelled. "Oh, really?" Mary spun to her. "I'm a liar, am I? How about you, my dear? You'r e not a liar, are you? You're trying to pretend to be so strong and independent, but all you want, is to get your boyfriend back! Hah! It's so naive! If someone doesn't love you, I mean, really doesn't love you, you can dance, standing on y our ears, but it won't make him give his love to you!" "Make her stop! Make her stop!" the leader squealed. Her people dragged Mary to the cross, she did not resist, she almost did not understand what was going on, it was no matter for her now. But before she fell into non-existence, a last tho ught came to Mary: "Why did I leave my gun at home today?"

In the hospital Detective Philip Cranston was sitting in the ward of the local hospital. He was looking at the unconscious woman on the bed and waiting for her to wake. What happened yesterday was too horrible for a small town like Green Valley. The local congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses was attacked by a gang of Devil worsh ippers. This woman tried to organize a resistance to them and they cut out her t ongue and crucified her. The evidence showed that the attackers had a Black Mass. Yet nothing was known for certain. The attackers committed a common suicide, and almost all people in the meeting were murdered. The victims, who had survived w ere in critical condition or had gone insane. All the children in the building had been sacrificed to the Devil. This woman (P hilip checked the papers) 'Mary Vasquez', also lost her baby son. Her hands and feet had been mutilated during the crucifixion, but in comparison with the other victims, she had been injured least of all. And the detective hoped she would b e able to explain exactly what had happened if asked questions she could answer with yes or no. *** The woman on the bed opened her eyes and looked at the detective with amazement: "Where am I?" Cranston gasped: "You can talk? But your tongue..." He checked his notes. "Where is the body of my son? Give me the body of my son!" the woman repeated in delirium. She recalled everything. She tore the IV catheter off her hand and go t to her feet.

"You can walk!" the detective was amazed. "Are you surprised?" Mary snored. "Have you ever read: 'The lame one will climb up just as a stag does, and the tongue of the speechless one will cry...' she di d not finish the quotation. "Well, it's Isaiah 35:6 " She burst into tears. "My pe rfect body is a damnation to me! Why can't I just die?" "Ms. Vasquez, I'm doing the investigation into yesterday's incident, can we talk ?" "Where is the body of my son?" Mary pushed the button to call a nurse. But the doctor had already come to the w ard. "I demand my son's body!" Mary screamed. "I have the right to have it!" "Easy, Ms. Vasquez!" the doctor was astonished even more so than the detective w as. "We will give it to you, don't worry, just a little bit later, okay?" "No! I wanna have it right now!" Her persuasions did not work, Mary still demanded the body of her child and the doctor finally told the nurse to bring it to the ward. Mary grabbed the box and wanted to lift the cover sheet, but the doctor stopped her: "Please, Ms. Vasquez, don't do it. No mother should see such things." Mary was frozen with terror: "Did they burn him?" "No, but..." the doctor stopped short: an almost happy smile lit Mary's face. "I'd like to be alone, I heed to make a call." Mary carefully put the box on the bed and took the receiver. "Could you, please, just leave me for only a few min utes?" The doctor nodded to Cranston and they both left the ward. Mary dialed the number. "Hello!" The exhausted woman heard the voice of her husband and closed her eyes. "Hello?" "Robert..." She stopped for a second. "I have no right to ask for my son back." Mary recalled the story that the salesgirl Megan had told her. "Because of my hu sband millions people were killed, I deserved such punishment..." But it was her personal sorrow, and her heart did not want to hear the mind. "Oh, my honey drop! How are you?" "Robert, I'm in Green Valley..." Noirson did not understand. "Fuck you, Robert! I am in the Green Valley!" In her grief the woman did not rea lize that even her husband was not able to know about every event on Earth.

"And?" Noirson asked, confused. Suddenly he gasped, he only now understood her. "Oh, my Father! Have you been there? Are you all right?" "I'm okay, but they murdered my son! Please, Robert, resuscitate him! Can you re suscitate him? Robert?!" "I'm checking," Noirson was talking very slow. "Yes, I can do this, but I have t o ask your permission." "What do you mean?" "Little lamb, did you forget who I am? If I resuscitate somebody, his life has t o belong to me." Mary's heart broke. The world around her disappeared. She was all alone in the b oundless vortex of intolerable suffering. But she chose that way herself. "No, thanks. The price is too high," Her voice sounded lifeless. She recalled a disheartened Jerry sitting on her bed. She clearly remembered a hopeless despair in his eyes. "Like father, like son? No way!" "Sorry, darling," She took a breath. "I just can't afford it, never mind..." Noirson did not reply and Mary thought he got offended. "Robert, honey, you've gotta understand me." "Unfortunately, I understand you too well." "Look," a new idea came to Mary. "Can you restore at least his body?" "Yes, sweetheart... Check it out." Mary carefully lifted the sheet: it seemed the boy was just asleep. "Mary? Kitten, did it work?" "It worked." "Just say a word and your son will be alive again." "Stay away from me, Satan!" Deep silence reigned into the receiver. "I'm sorry, my beloved Beast," Mary felt burning pity for her husband. "I forgot , it's your duty to tempt people. But with me, please, don't be offended, if I r eply as the Bible has taught me... Well, thank you for your help. Bye..." "Wait! Please, wait! Just let me tell you!." "What, honey?" "I don't want you to lose your mind or die with your sorrow, would you come home ? Come back, sweetie-pie! I missed you a great deal!" "I've seen how you missed me." "What? Ah, I've got it. Look, I just..."

"If you're gonna say you didn't love her I won't believe you." "I did love her!" Robert cried out. "But she's gone! She's gone forever! And she left the kids... Mark and Ann... Of course, they have baby-sitters and nannies, but they need Love. If you don't, who can give it to them? You lost your mother too, you should take pity on the poor orphans. Mary, I want you home so much! W e all need you." "You want me to baby-sit her kids?" Mary could not believe her ears. "And you th ink that will relieve my pain?" "No, honey. But if you will take care of my children, it will be not only be pai n relief. It will be a life buoy." Mary closed her eyes. She could only weep. "They are not your kids, are they?" She asked with effort. "No, sweetheart. But I love them as my own." "You wanna say, if you, the Beast, are able to take care of these human cubs, I, as an angel, should take care all the more?" She snorted and sighed. "I want to say, I believe in you and in your heart. I missed you badly! My kitte n, my dear little bunny! You were always special to me. I swear. Always." "I missed you too..." Mary sobbed. "Okay, I'll get home as soon as possible..." "What do you mean? Why not right now?" "I wanna bury my son first." "Do you want to cremate him to be sure I can't reach him?" Mary did not reply, but her silence was a consensus. "Okay, flowerette," Robert sighed. "Do as is best for you. Just remember, you ha ve a home and the doors are open for you all the time." "Thank you, sweetheart..." Now Mary felt able to withstand her anguish. "I'll be back."

At the cemetery It was dreary, melancholic autumn drizzle. Sitting near the freshly made grave, the woman was motionless. All the other people had already left when Matt Gratton dared to come to her. Af ter her threat, he did not contact her, and had only seen her from afar, but eve rybody knew about the tragedy. He hoped that in her grief she would be glad to s ee someone, who sincerely loved her. And Matt knew, whether they would be togeth er or not, he would never forget this woman. "I'm so sorry about your loss."

Mary slowly lifted her head. She was wearing a hat with a very thick, dark veil and he could barely see her face: "Ah, it's you, trouble maker!" Her voice sound ed with a smile, and Matt was astonished. He thought she had lost her mind, but she explained... She explained everything, and broke his heart forever. Just three short phrases: "I made up with my husband. I'm going back to him. My flight is tomorrow, 6:32 a.m." Matt kept silent, and Mary sighed: "I'm sorry, I know you liked me." "I loved you." He replied with bitterness. She touched his hand, then slowly wen t to her car. Gratton dearly wanted to see her face, just one, last time. To see her sad stern face, her amazing lips and her mysterious kaleidoscopic eyes. He saw, how she got into her car and took her hat off. Something was different, something was strange. Matt walked to the driveway. He waited for Mary to drive past him, then looked a t her. He gasped, he damned his act. He felt dizzy and he realized that the horrible si ght, which he had just seen, he would remember for the rest of his life. Mary saw Matt Gratton near the road. She saw his shocked face and wide-open eyes . She smiled, waved to him and turned the car. And she did not see how Matt pres sed his hands to his face and sat straight on the cold and wet ground.

Mary is back Tomorrow would be Thanksgiving, and Mary Noirson wished to celebrate this family holiday with her husband. *** Security were notified and opened the gates without any questions. When Mary finally saw the house, where she had lived for so long, she could not hold back the tears, and only now she realized, how she missed her life here. *** A servant opened the cab's door. But when he saw Mary, he gasped and stepped back. His face blanched with horror. "Hi Jim!" Mary sadly smiled at his reaction. "Didn't expect to see me again, eh? Well, I'm back." The security guard jumped up from his bench, quickly opened the door and Mary en tered the building. The first maid dropped her tray. All the servants recoiled from Mary Noirson as

if she was a ghost. The elevator operator stared at his lady and pushed the butt on. Finally, Mary reached her apartment. She smiled when saw fresh flowers, it meant Robert was waiting for her return. Mary had not passed the anteroom yet when she saw a creature. It was horrible, terribly emaciated. It's gray mane was done into a careful coif fure. It had a dreadful mask instead of a face: wrinkled pale skin fitted close to the skull, the livid lips, and deep crow's feet around lifeless eyes. Mary shuddered and leaned back, and the creature moved, and in that awful moment the woman realized the reason for the servant's fear. Very, very slowly Mary Noirson stepped forward and touched the cold surface of t he mirror. Since her son's death Mary had not paid attention to her appearance. She was was hing herself, brushing her teeth, doing her hair mechanically. Now Mary stared a t her reflection and could not believe her eyes. She heard how her husband almost ran to her apartment, and she felt a burning sh ame, when he shockingly gasped: "Oh, my Father!" Mary Noirson was still a woman and she would like to see any reaction, but that. Now she looked even older than her husband and involuntarily noticed it. Noirson tenderly hugged his wife, brought her to the living room, seated her on the couch and sat by her side. "Oh, I'm so sorry, my honey drop!" Robert slowly moved his hand. He recovered na tural color to her hair, removed wrinkles. He admired the job that he had done: now Mary looked exactly as before her escape and he embraced her again. "Look, l ittle lamb, I can't alleviate your grief, but I'm able to make you forget everyt hing. Do you want to?" Slowly shaking her head, Mary refused the offer. "As you wish, my little one," Noirson got up with a quiet moan, his crippled leg still hurt when he moved. "Let's go, I'll show you my kids." *** Mary looked at the twins with indifference. But she made an effort and compelled herself to take care. "Why did you make their rooms on the north?" Mary looked around. "You should mov e them to the south or east side. Children like plants, they need natural sunshi ne." "I knew you'd know, what we'd have to change! I will check for rooms for the kid s... Go ahead, sweetie-pie, you are in charge now." *** Until that evening Mary coordinated the servants actions and saw that things wer e done.

The children were moved to other rooms, part of the furniture was changed, part was removed. Mary checked the schedule and decided that tomorrow she would talk with every nanny personally. *** When the twins were in beds, Mary sat with them and forced herself to sing lulla bies for them. Mary could not help her tears, but when the children finally fell asleep, she lo oked long and hard at their calm, peaceful and happy little faces and suddenly s he realized why Robert called this process a "life-buoy". However, recalling the first reaction of her husband, the woman felt shame again . She went to her apartment and checked out her dressing room. Everything was as b efore her escape and Mary took shower and changed the clothes. She carefully did her make-up, loosened and brushed her hair. She heard a light knock on her door and Robert looked inside: "Kitten, come here ! I have a surprise for you!" Mary obeyed. A refined dinner was served into her salon. The windows were opened and the warm wind from the lake was waving the flames of the candles. "Welcome back home! Let's celebrate!" Mary looked at her husband, his eyes shone with desire, and she was startled. Sh e almost forgot about that side of a marriage. However, she knew Robert too well . If he did not understand her feelings, her refusal will make him upset or even offend him. Mary hesitated, but her gratitude and love forced her to hide her sorrow. *** Only much later, when he was satisfied, and, happily smiling, he fell asleep by her side, only then the woman crept out of bed, ran to another room, and, fallin g into the armchair, she burst into tears. She quietly wept during the night until morning, when the maid came to her and s aid that the twins were awake. Then Mary resolutely wiped her eyes and went to the children's rooms. *** The twins demanded lots of attention, the "life buoy" worked, and just a few mon ths later Mary was not capable of imagining her life without these kids.

The star

How she loved Him! For these short, rare minutes, when He belonged to her, and o nly to her, Anhella Vixen was ready to sacrifice the entire world. "Pass me the cigarettes." smiling with satisfaction, Noirson looked at his watch . Suddenly the door opened and Dylon entered the room. He blushed and turned back, but Robert called him: "Come here, son!" Not looking at Vixen, Dylon went close and sat near his godfather. The secretary got up, walked to the mirror and started putting her clothes in order. "What's wrong, son? Did you want to ask me something?" "Sorry, I didn't know, you were busy," Dylon Noirson responded dismally. "No, I'm not... Now..." Noirson laughed and lit a cigarette. "So, what did you w ant to ask?" "Nothing." Dylon did not lift his eyes. "I changed my mind." "Why are you so crooked?" Robert looked at his godson with concern. "Are you all right?" "I'm okay, I'm okay!" Dylon Noirson sprang up. "I said, nothing's wrong!" Suddenly Noirson guessed. He glanced at his secretary and then back at Dylon. "Strange," Robert said surprisingly. "I know you like Anhella. Why did you never ask me to give her to you?" They both stared at their Master and Lord. "Yeah, good idea!" Noirson smiled. "Anhella, it was a really nice session, could you do the same things for my son?" Without a word Vixen stepped toward Dylon Noirson. To please her beloved king, s he would even do it with a crocodile. "You don't understand!" Dylon shouted and ran out of the room. "Moron." Noirson shrugged his shoulders. Anhella came to him, knelt and tenderly kissed his haughty face: "We have about forty minutes before the conference." "I'm not sure, honey," Robert sat and looked at his watch again. "But I am," and she embraced him. *** Vexed, Dylon Noirson walked quickly along the corridor. He was thinking about An hella and shuddering. "Whore, whore, rotten whore..." He whispered. He called he r all the bad names that he knew, and even made up a few more, but now he wanted to weep. Suddenly he collided with another man. Dylon cursed, however, the man did not re act. He stared through the window. His mouth was open and his face was pale with horror. Dylon Noirson looked too and gasped. In the day sky a new star was shining. Stra

nge, not usual, it looked more like a searchlight, and Dylon's hair stood on end . *** Noirson started to talk, then he stopped soon. Although they had a conference, n obody paid attention. The partners whispered to each other, glanced at windows a nd nobody listened. Only Becker kept silent. But he did not look at his ward. "Quiet!" Noirson pounded the desk. "What the hell's going on?" His partners turned to him. They all looked really scared and Robert got angry: "What? Never see a supernova?" They lowered their eyes. "It's not an ordinary star," one of them dared to say. Mad, Noirson stretched out his hand. The man screamed. He shrank, shrank, shrank , and finally a black cockroach fell on the floor and a security man trampled it . "Any more astronomers here?" Robert stared at his partners. "You bunch of morons ! Miserable cowards! You all know to whom you belong! Nobody forced you to come to my side! You chose that way yourself!" They kept silent, however, it was not a silence that meant consent. "Okay, back to business! May I continue?" He started to talk again, yet his partners were still too nervous, and Noirson o rdered the windows closed and lights turned on. Only then the atmosphere had bec ome less tense, and the conference took its normal course.

Dylon Dylon Noirson was in his office in the central building, just a few floors above where Noirson's office was. He went to the window and gazed at the new star. It was evening already and surrounded with other stars, the new one looked less sc ary as it did during the day. But, anyway, that stupid star made him nervous. He knew a good way to calm down, and he made a call. *** The girl was riding him very nicely, but suddenly she squealed, fell down off hi m and, grabbed her clothes, she ran away. Amazed, Dylon sat and looked back. An unknown man was standing in the middle of the room and looked at him. Dylon N oirson stared at the stranger. He could not understand why the girl was so frigh tened, and how that guy got inside without any announcement. "Who the hell are you?" Dylon shouted and hastily put his clothes in order.

"You used a wrong word." the man replied calmly. "It's you who belong to Hell, n ot me." Grinning, Dylon Noirson pushed the button to call security. But nothing happened. The intercom was dead. The smile disappeared from Dylon's lips. "Could you calm down?" the man continued. "I have to talk to you and it won't ta ke long." Frozen with terror, Dylon Noirson did not respond. "Why are you so scared?" the eyes of the man were sad. "I did nothing to you. I' ve never harmed anyone, I didn't and I won't." "Who are you?" Dylon finally squeezed out. "My name is Michael Alter and it is my duty to save the greatest number of peopl e, that is possible. Although you're the one of the most hopeless persons for sa lvation, I want to try at least." "You're a liar!" The man slowly went to the window and lifted his hand. The star moved. Now it lo oked like it was directly above the building. "Can your godfather do that? You always count on his Power. What if he lost it?" Dylon Noirson gasped. His hands were trembling while he was making a call. "Robert?" Dylon cleared his throat. "Daddy, are you okay? I need a bit of the Po wer, can I?" "Son, I'm out of the Power for today." Noirson's voice sounded uncertainly. "Is something wrong? Could your business wait until tomorrow?" "Never mind, bye!" Dylon dropped the receiver and looked at Alter with horror. "I won't contact him." Michael sighed. "He's just doing his duty, and it's not f or me to blame or judge him. My business is human beings only, and I'm warning y ou. You don't have much time. I'll show you something." And he stretched out his arm to Dylon. Suddenly Dylon Noirson saw daylight. He was hiding behind a desk. Two of his men were next him, one on each side. They were firing, they covered him. But one of them was killed. And a few minutes later, the second man collapsed to o. Dylon Noirson panted with fear. The men in uniform rushed at him, and the woman whom he, Dylon, loved followed them. Her wonderful strict face was resolutely cr uel. Dylon Noirson stretched out his arms to her: "Anhella! I love you! I did it for you! I wanted to be first in your heart!" She did not turn a hair, just waved her hand, and with her signal the men in uni form grabbed him, and threw him through the window. He fell out with a fountain of the fragments of the broken glass. The awfully long flight down, down, down... sixty two floors!

S m a s h ! ! ! Dylon screamed and saw himself in his office again. Michael Alter was looking at him with deep compassion. "I don't want this to happen to you." He sighed. "There is no escaping from fate , but My Father can change it. If you will help. You have twenty four hours. Thi nk about what you have to do to save your soul." Dylon kept silent. "I want to explain it better. I know you're stupid, and I don't think, you did u nderstand. But I have no right to do that. I'm just a tool, I'm a soldier. Good bye, Dylon." And the man disappeared. Dylon Noirson was shaken. He pushed the button to call security again. Now, the beeping sounded. Suddenly his helper Raymond ran to the office. Some of the security followed him , they all looked shocked. Dylon gazed at Raymond with perplexity. Composed, restrained as a true Englishma n, Raymond usually controlled himself perfectly. But now he was trembling, his f ace was distorted with horror. "Did He contact you?" Raymond screamed and fell on his knees. "Did He talk to yo u?" "Shut up, you moron!" Dylon shouted at him. "No time to lose! Listen to my plan. .." Raymond listened with amazement. "You did not understand a thing!" He interrupted his Master. "You have to confes s! Repent, sir! Pray! Let's show our penitence!" "You're an idiot! I'm sure They want deeds, not words! Actions speak louder!" "I don't remember even one prayer!" Raymond was close to tears. "Oh, God! I'm so rry! I'm so sorry! Oh, forgive me!" "Kill that fool!" Dylon screeched. And, when the security fulfilled his order an d dragged Raymond's body out the room, he continued more calmly: "Ralph, you're in charge. We have just a few hours. Let's do it right now!"

The Good-byes The day began as usual. Mary was with the kids. Ann started to take her first steps and the woman was ha ppy and excited. She held the girl's hands and smiled. A blue eyed blonde, Ann w as as cute as a doll, and everybody admired her big eyes, with long eyelashes, a nd her plum refined lips. Her wavy hair, the color of fallen leaves, was so thic

k that Mary had to spend almost half an hour every day brushing it. Mary also watched Mark. The boy was sitting and knitted his brows. Observing his sister's efforts he was intently sucking his toy and from time to time knocked it on the floor. His coarse ash-brown shaggy hair and cat-like eyes made Mark lo ok like a lynx-cub. He looked exactly as his mother, Francine, did, and in the b eginning, it was very unpleasant for Mary. But now she was too attached to these twins, and she did not even think about their biological parents. *** Suddenly Robert peeped into the room. He looked confused and was taken aback. "Kitten," He asked uncertainly. "Could you make a breakfast?" Mary looked at her husband, but he lowered his eyes and the woman did not dare t o ask. She called Natalie, her helper, and told her take care of the twins. *** Mary went downstairs. Now she was amazed and confused also: the building was empty. Usually a lot of people were walking around, the servants, security, maids, cour iers and cleaners. Steps and voices could be heard even in the middle of the nig ht. But now a deadly silence and stillness filled the house. *** They ate without a word being said. Robert lowered his head and did not lift his eyes. Mary observed him with concer n. "Do you remember these reports about the new star?" Noirson asked suddenly. "It looks like it is directly above my central office building. My partners are frig htened. But worst of all I did not get the Power today. I don't know what's happ ened and I don't understand what's going on..." "Robert," Mary finally dared to talk. "Don't go to work today! I see, something is definitely wrong! I have a very bad feeling! Please, stay home today!" Noirson looked at his wife like a wounded animal would. "I know, sweetie-pie, but I have a responsibility. Anyway, you can't fly from fa te." Robert barely got to his feet. A terror struck Mary, she could not move. "I f something happens to me, please, forgive me and don't leave the kids." "Oh, honey!" Mary burst into tears. "Don't say such things! I have nothing to fo rgive you for! I love you and our kids. I will be with them to the end, I promis e." "Good!" Noirson anxiously hugged his wife. "Good bye, my little one, good bye, m y dear girl..."

The search When Robert drove away, Mary decided to search around. It was a difficult task. Though Mary was not able to check out all three huge bu ildings by herself, she wanted to try. *** Almost running, Mary went along the corridors, peeped into rooms and halls. Nobody was here. It seemed all the servants had disappeared at once. Clothes, equipment, decorati ons were in their places, but the people were gone. Same effect the N-bomb was a ble to do, but Mary drove this wild thought away. *** Mary went outside and looked around to choose where she should go next. And she saw what her husband did not notice, because he had gone through the garage. The bush near the entrance looked strange. Mary went closer and moved the leaves apart... What she saw, shocked her in spite of seeming ordinary: there were cars covered with camouflage nets and tree branches. Mary stared at the cars, they were not her or her husband's cars and Mary guesse d it was the servant's cars. Suddenly, a new thought came to her: "If the cars a re here, what is in the servant's garage?" She rushed to the garage, and found the gate locked from inside. It amazed the w oman. She tried to get inside through the basement, but the corridor was blocked with rocks. Getting crazy with worry Mary ran outside again and attentively checked the wall s. She saw an air vent. It was very high, and Mary had to go to another building and get a ladder.

In the garage Mary was worried: she crawled into impenetrable darkness a long way. She even st arted thinking that she was lost. But she heard voices and moved towards the sou nds. Suddenly she fell through a hatch and slid down. Her gymnastic training helped her again. Desperately, she clung to the smooth wa lls slowly reducing the speed of her slide down. But to go back this way would b

e impossible. She fell somewhere outside, however, landed without any trouble. She looked arou nd and understood at once that she had finally reached the garage. Mary was not very surprised to see almost all the servants. The people crowded around her, th ere was no room to move. When they saw their lady, everybody started to talk at once. Some of the servant s shouted, some of the females sobbed. Mary could not understand a thing. "Shut up! Shut up!" Mary screeched. "Q u i e t ! ! !" The crowd gradually became silent. Anhella made her way forward. The face of the secretary was wet with tears. "D y l o n !" She looked at Mary and could not help her sobs. "He betrayed Rober t! He got a warning that the Son of God is gonna come soon and he intended treas on! We've gotta stop him!" "Where are Slay, Jack and Becker?" "He murdered them..." Anhella was not able to cry any more. "Why are you staying here?" "There is a bomb on the door." Mary gasped: "How about Sylvan? He is a specialist!" "Of course, he was killed too, you stupid Jewess!" "Halts Maul!" suddenly Mary shouted at her. "Shut your mouth!" / German "Don't call me names!" Staring at the secretary, Mary was talking with a metalli c voice. "I love Robert no less than you do and I'm worried sick about him as hi s wife!" Vixen lowered her head: "I'm sorry, Mrs. Noirson." "It's okay, Anhella, I do understand your feelings... People, yes, it's true tha t the Son of God is gonna come soon. But believe me, He was betrayed Himself, He will not accept treachery. If you decide to leave Robert, do it. Nobody will co ndemn you, I guarantee. Just do not go to Dylon's side! So, who wants be with Ro bert to the end?" Less than half the people moved forward, the others stepped back. "Well," Mary gulped. "But I have to warn you, Robert has no Power any more, if s omeone is be killed, Robert will not be able to resuscitate them." Now the small detachment became even smaller. "Anhella," Mary felt desperate. "What are we gonna do? We don't have enough peop le to fight!" The secretary thought and slowly replied: "I know how to get more people. But an yway, we are trapped here and can't get out."

"Let's try!" Mary resolutely went to the gate. She saw the bomb and hesitated fo r a few seconds. But her self-confidence helped her to take control of herself. Mary closed her eyes and started to concentrate as Robert had taught her many ti mes. "It worked!" Mary heard the happy Anhella's voice and opened her eyes. The small lamp on the bomb did not blink any more. Mary stretched her arm out an d quickly tore the wire. Nothing happened and Mary pushed the open button. The d oor slowly lifted, and the crowd burst out with cheers and happiness. "Miss Vixen," Mary said with effort. "Do it. Call people. You are in charge. As usual. As always." Anhella's eyes flashed with gratitude and she kissed the hand of her lady.

The treason When Robert went to the small conference hall he saw almost all of his partners. They were disturbed, alarmed and nervous. When he entered the hall everybody fel l into silence and despite all his self-confidence Noirson got worried. "Where is Becker?" Nobody answered him. "I will be in my office." Robert lowered his eyes. The partners glared at him li ke hungry wolves stalking their prey. *** Noirson was working on his computer when the door of his office opened without a ny previous announcement and the people confidently walked inside. Robert turned his head and realized at once that it was a mutiny. The people stopped close to his desk. "Mr. Noirson," started the bravest one. "We got a warning that your Power is gon e. We don't want to be terminated with you. We recommend you to be reasonable an d surrender without useless resistance." Scornfully smiling, Robert put his guns on the desk. "H u m a n s !" He snorted. "How typical! Did you want to have good stuff only? But for everything you have to pay for! You don't want it? Great! What can you d o to me? Although I'm a cripple and all alone, I'm still able to get you all, in cluding my... your stupid security." "Don't be so sure, daddy," and Dylon Noirson stepped forward from the crowd. "Ho w about if we use this?" And he showed him the dagger. It was a knockout. Dylon had guessed correctly. His godfather would not shoot hi m even now.

Robert Noirson was keeping silent and did not move, then security slowly came cl oser and carefully took his guns. "You're a fool, my son." Robert said calmly. "Anyway you'll go to Hell, and be s ure, my Father will avenge me." "We'll see about that!" Dylon Noirson spat out his words. Two of the security gr abbed Noirson and dragged him to Dylon. Dylon Noirson laughed. "Oh, how long I have dreamed about this!" and he slapped his godfather. "I always knew you were a coward." Noirson sadly smiled. "But now I'm so disgust ed I wouldn't even spit on you." "And I always knew that you would try to be like him. And now I'll give to you a n opportunity to be in his shoes!" With Dylon Noirson's signal his men carried inside a big cross. Shocked, Robert kept silent. "Well, we have no mountain near, but the central meeting hall is just a few floo rs above. So, daddy, take it and carry it, and I'll watch you." Noirson sucked in a sharp breath and collected all his courage. "Make me!" He challenged. "Oh, is it gonna be like that?" Dylon stabbed Robert's shoulder with a dagger. N oirson flinched, yet did not move. "Oh, you're so brave, eh?" This time the blade only scratched the cheek of the B east. Robert was shaken, but did not move even when the next strike skinned his neck. Dylon got mad. "Do it, you fucking prick!" Dylon Noirson hissed. "Or I'll cut your balls off !" Noirson did not move. Dylon lunged with a dagger. Robert gasped with pain and fear and looked at his l egs. The deep scratches were bleeding on both of his thighs. "Next time, daddy, I'll lift my hand a little bit higher. So, do it, fuck you! D o it right now!" Robert glanced around, but he did not find any support. Without a word, Noirson shouldered the cross. *** He fell, probably for the tenth time. With horror Robert looked up. He had never realized how many floors there were between his office and the conference hall. "Even He had help!" Noirson's voice trembled with despair. "He had," Dylon Noirson said calmly. "You will not!"

"Why, Dylon, why? I loved you like my own son! I forgave you such things as nobo dy else!" "I'm tired of being second!" Dylon Noirson hissed right into the face of his god father. "But I'm gonna tell Them, I did that to save my soul." And he smiled. "Dylon, my boy!" Robert gasped. "You're crazy! Kill me if you wish! Torture me, if it pleases you! But don't lie to Them! It's useless! It's deadly dangerous! I t's the worst thing that you can do! I know! I know Them better than you do!" "Shut up!" Dylon shouted with rage. He slapped Noirson a few times. "I hate you! For my dead mother! She always was kind to me! For Anhella!! For my pointless l ife! You damn monster! What kind of creature did you make me? Do we both go to H ell? Great! Go first!" Those hits could not harm the magic body of the Beast, but the insane frank conf ession of his godson hurt Robert's soul and racked his heart, and that was much worse than any physical pain. *** Robert did not walk into the conference hall; he crept. He was not able to get u p and just dragged the cross along. Noirson was so exhausted that he had no powe r even to moan when his former friends and partners crucified him with the dagge rs. They placed the cross in the middle of the hall and then took a few photos. *** Robert slowly lifted his head and looked around. He was alone. He desired death for himself, but he was bereaved an opportunity even to commit suicide. Helpless and all alone, he could only wait for what Fate would send to him next.

The victory When he first heard the sounds of gunfire, Noirson thought he had just imagined them. But the shooting came closer, and now he was able to hear shouting and screams. A few times the building trembled with explosions. Noirson stared at the door. His faithful people finally rushed into the hall and he could not believe his ey es. *** Doctor Akherman had finished treating Robert's wounds when screams of delight an nounced the arrival of the woman who made this victory possible. "Long live the Queen!" Noirson heard. The nurses helped him to rise and he saw his wife. His people knelt; they looked

at Her with adoration. Mary Noirson bent over her husband and kissed his lips: "Are you okay, honey?" Robert nodded. "Is your Power back?" He smirked. An elegant corsage of roses appeared on his chest. "Oh, sweetie..." Touched, Mary took the flowers. Then she looked at her husband with hesitation. "Robert," She dared finally. "I'm leaving..." "I understand," Noirson replied very slowly. "No, I love you, honey, but..." " for the kids it will be better, if you all leave the city until I untangle this mess," He finished the sentence for her. Mary smiled. Her husband did understand . "Take some people," He said. "I want that for our children to need nothing." "By the way," Mary caressed his hair. "Becker will be here soon. He was alive, h e had just been arrested." "And Dylon?" "Anhella reported he killed himself. I'm sorry, honey." "That fool," Robert sighed. "You know, I was able to forgive him!" "Wanna resuscitate him?" "No, kitten. Now My Father will take care of him," and Noirson smiled sadly.

The conclusion Mary checked all the vehicles out and went to the red mini-van. The kids were securely placed in their seats in the back and Natalie was between them. The huge dog was lying on the floor in the middle of the van next to a bo dyguard, and a second bodyguard was sitting on the front seat. Mary smiled. She took the drivers seat and resolutely drove away. A column of vehicles followed her.

The hidden page

Jerry opened his eyes, and at first he did not understand where he was. He sat u p, looked around and found himself sitting on the snow in the middle of a moonli t glade. He gasped as he recalled everything. Two unknown men stood near him. On e of them stared at Jerry, while the other man helped someone get up. Jerry checked himself. He saw his clothes covered with blood, and he was astonis hed. He felt no pain, and did not find any wound. But Jerry thought about Mary, and he wanted to die. "Don't worry," the closest man smiled. "She will be okay." "Oh, yeah?" Jerry amazedly looked at him. "How do you know?" Michael Alter did not reply. A dog stood next him, and the man petted its head. Suddenly Jerry saw that the man being helped up was Pastor Warren. Jerry sprang up. "Calm down," Michael shook his head. "You already have killed him once. Did it c hange anything?" Jerry became confused. He checked his own feelings, and was surprised. He had no hate for that damn priest. "Who are you?" Jerry looked at Alter, and stared at the blood stained snow. Then he thought he understood. "The Master has "dismissed" me, didn't he? So, I'm de ad, and going to Hell, eh?" "No, Jerry," Michael replied calmly. "I will explain, but it will be a long talk . First of all, let's get out of here." He stretched out his hand, and the bodie s of two lambs appeared onto the glade, and hungry African dogs rushed at them. *** In the car, Jerry looked through the window at the house, where he had lived for so long, and he sighed. His previous life was gone, and he realized that. He wa s not able to imagine his new life. But he trusted. He trusted.

Part Two. Together Foreword A sturdy, young looking woman walked closer to check out her daughter. The small, thin girl climbed up the huge old tree, and the shocked woman gazed a t her. The woman was not worried about her daughter's security. The servants wer e standing around the tree, ready to catch the girl, if she fell. But like a lit tle monkey, the girl bravely jumped from bough to bough, hanging and swinging on branches, and her loud happy laughing spilled out into the air. "Ann!" the amazed woman called her daughter. "Is the gym not enough for you?" "It's a tree, mom!" the girl wondered why her mother did not understand the diff erence. "A tree!" "You should've been born a boy, my dear!" the woman said, shrugging her shoulder s. That phrase aroused unpleasant memories in her heart, and the woman's face cloud

ed with dreamy sadness. She sat down on the ground, and petted-smoothed out the grass. "Only he called me 'sunnie'..." She whispered. "Why only him? I'm a blonde, that name fits me perfectly..." She sighed. "My first sin, forgive me, you silly, na ive boy..." The girl shouted, calling her mother, but the woman did not look at her.

Chapter Eight: At home The family At seventeen years old, Ann Noirson liked to swim. She tied her thick, wavy mane , the color of fallen leaves, into a ponytail, put swimming goggles on, then jum ped into the pool. She swam fast, going from end to end a few times. After, she floated on the water and relaxed. Small waves slowly washed up against her stron g, athletic body. "Ann!" She heard. She opened her eyes, and looked up. Frowning, Mary Noirson gazed at her: "Is your homework ready? I don't think so!" "Mom, I need some rest," Ann drawled with a plaintive voice. "I'm tired." "Oh, poor girl, eh? Where is Mark?" Ann shrugged her shoulders. Mary saw a servant help her husband get into the poo l. He swam and laughed with enjoyment. Robert Noirson was in great shape for a m an in his mid sixties. But he was crippled. The daggers were a damnation to Robert, he could not cure wounds from them. Alth ough more than eighteen years had passed since Mary's kidnapping, his knee was s till motionless. Besides, his hands and feet had been mutilated during the cruci fixion that Dylon Noirson, his adopted godson, organized. And now swimming was t he only physical activity which brought Noirson pleasant feelings. "I bet I'll be first!" He threw out a challenge and began swimming for the far s ide of the pool. "Oh, yeah?" Ann rushed to follow him. Mary watched them with a smile. "Who was first? Who was first?" Ann screamed as she reached the wall. "Sorry, honey," Her mother replied. "There was too much water flying everywhere. I didn't see." "That's not fair!" Ann splashed her father. He laughed and splashed her back. Mary called a servant, whispered something into his ear, and looked at her husba nd and daughter again. They were talking now, and Mary liked times like this. Sh e loved Robert, and knew Ann greatly respected him. "Let me go!" sounded an indignant voice. The servants carried a youth. It was Mark, Ann's twin brother. But slim and lean

, he looked totally different from his sister. Now he unsuccessfully tried to te ar himself from the hands of the servants. They threw him into the pool. Mark hastily got out and ran to Mary. "Stop doing that!" He shouted. "I hate it!" His hair had stuck to his wet face a nd the youth pushed it aside with a quick brush of his hand. "Son," Mary smiled. "It's not good for your health to spend the whole day in fro nt of the computer." "But I even didn't close the program!" He yelled. His cat-like eyes glinted with anger. "I can lose the results of my day's work!" "Oh, sorry, honey! Run then, sweetie!" Mary looked really upset and Mark relented. He hugged his mother and kissed her cheek. "Mom, sorry that I shouted at you! I promise to do some exercise, maybe swim. I just want to finish that part." "I understand," Mary smiled as she followed him with her eyes.

The son It had happened when the Noirson children were fourteen years old. Mary was in her office in the central building downtown when she saw a TV-report . An awful accident had taken place. A gasoline truck had sprung a leak. The spi lled fuel caught fire, and the blaze had spread to nearby cars. The Noirson chil dren had at their disposal special cars that could not be burnt, because the Son of the Devil, Robert Noirson, could do many things yet he was unable to resurre ct people who died in a fire. But even so, Mary snapped when the camera zoomed in for a close-up of the accide nt. It was her son's car. The door was open, and she saw some charred corpses in side. And she screamed. She did not hear her voice even though startled people on the street involuntarily looked to where the horrible sound had come from. When the secretary and security ran into the room, Mary was lying on the floor, without a pulse, not breathing, dead like the last rock on Earth. *** "Mommy, mommy, mommy..." She heard through the gray emptiness. "Oh, mom, please. .. Dad, do something!" "I can't, kids, sorry!" Robert's voice sounded with despair. "We belong to diffe rent levels..." Mary opened her eyes, and the Noirsons gasped with gladness. But their smiles di ed instantly. The woman on the bed glanced at her husband and daughter with indi fference, and gazed at Mark. But it was not a usual look. It was like a tunnel f

rom Beyond to reality. No thoughts, no feelings, no emotions. "I'm dead." Mary s aw her son. "Thank you, God! I'm finally dead." "Mom, please!" Mark was shaken. His ash-brown bangs fell onto his eyes, and he s hook his head, trying to put them back in place. "I'm alive! I wasn't in the car ! I went to check out this new shop. They were waiting for me. That's why the do or was open. Mom?" "I ordered that damn reporter killed!" Robert petted his sobbing daughter. "Mary , honey? Are you okay?" He shook his head. "I don't think she hears us... Oh, my Father! We lost her..." Mark took the hand of his mother. She stared at him, and the teenager did not lo se hope. They were all still talking, however, the woman did not reply, she did not move, and finally Ann fell into hysterics, yet even after that Mary did not look at her and showed no reaction. Robert took his daughter out of the room and called his son. Mark released the h and of his mother, but he grabbed it back at once as unlimited horror and despai r flashed into Mary's eyes. And Mark stayed. He held her hand and kept talking non-stop. He recalled their s hared moments, he was making plans. Although he wanted to cry, he smiled and tri ed to joke. When he was tired of talking, he just petted her hands and hair, and he kissed her motionless face. *** The nurse unsuccessfully tried to feed her ward. Mary only kept her eyes on her son, and did not open her mouth. Mark took the mug. "Mmmmmm, yum-yum!" He demonstratively tasted the soup. "You're a big girl, aren' t you? You won't upset me, you capricious girl?" He gently pushed down her lower lip with the spoon, and the woman submissively drank the contents. *** Mark told the servant to put a bed next to hers, and he did not leave his mother at night. He took his residence in that room, and Robert dared not to force him to change his decision. Noirson was sure all the efforts of his son would be us eless, but he loved his wife and Mark, and he did not want to separate them. Three months had passed, and nothing changed. Robert tried to talk with his son, but Mark did not listen to a thing. *** It was late at night. Mark was playing a game on his computer when he heard a mo an. He sat still, then slowly turned to the sound. "Mark!" the woman repeated louder. She stretched her hands to him. "You're alive !" And the teenager sobbed and rushed to his mother. *** But only two weeks later the woman recognized her husband and her daughter, and almost one year had passed before Mary finally returned to normal.

The daughter The Noirsons had one of their usual receptions. The weather was warm, but not ho t, and so the food was served outside on the central lawn. Wearing a false smile, Mary came to her husband. "Where is Ann?" She hissed angrily. "Where is that trouble-maker? Mark is here! Everybody's asking me, and I'm tired of making excuses." Suddenly they heard screaming and looked at the noises. Ann, on horseback, galloped through the tables. Guests scattered in all directio ns. She was wearing a spotted bikini and the pelt of a leopard dangled off her s houlders. "Mary, please!" Robert looked at his wife with worry. Her face was contorting wi th indignation looked. Mary closed her eyes for a second and took a deep breath. "Ah!" She smiled, made a welcoming gesture, and said, loudly addressing the gues ts: "Here she is!" The girl jumped off the horse and slapped it. The horse rushed forward, however, the servants caught it at once and struggled to take the hot animal away. Ann hugged her father and wanted to do the same with her mother, but Mary grabbe d her hands, tiptoed and brought her face close to Ann's. "You crazy thing!" Mary hissed, keeping a nice smile. "Of the all parties, you'r e doing something to embarrass us! When are you going to grow up?" "Ma! It's just too boring... I don't like these people..." "You don't like people then live in a zoo!" Minute Mary was shorter than her tal l daughter by at least a foot. She had to look up to scold her daughter, and Rob ert chuckled to himself, thinking it funny. "Look at yourself!" Mary continued. "You savage! Go make your home in the jungle !" "Honey..." Noirson looked at the guests and then at his females. "Let's talk lat er, okay?" "Later she will be punished," Mary released her daughter. "Enough talk!" And she walked to the tables. Ann gazed at her father with an apologetic smile. He shru gged his shoulders. "It's okay, my tiger-cub!" He gave her a wink. "I promise to visit you when you' re under "arrest". We could even have some trip. For you, my baby, I will not he sitate to waste even a twenty-four-hours portion of the Power!" And they both laughed with mutual understanding.

The capybara The next day, late in the evening Robert oozed into his daughter's apartment. Th ey exchanged a few gentle punches, and guffawed. "Amazonia!" Ann exclaimed. "Take me to the rain forest!" "Honey, you've visited that place five times! Let's go to Africa, eh? India?" "I want to catch a baby capybara, a wild one," the girl specified. "And keep it as a pet." Robert glanced at his daughter with a smile. "Anything you wish for, my princess!" He took her hand, made a magic motion, and they dissolved in the air. *** Sometime later, the Noirsons reappeared in the middle of the room. Happily smili ng, Ann held a juvenile capybara. The animal was trembling, however, it did not try to bite. "Oh, dad!" Ann said adoringly. "It was just wonderful!" "Give me that stupid piglet," Noirson demonstratively frowned. "Let's hide it be fore your mom discovers us!" The girl held out the animal, but it jumped, slid down, and ran away. "Catch him!" they gasped at once. The terrified capybara rushed from the room, and Ann ran after it. The piglet pu shed the door and Ann screamed, as it was not locked and opened wide. She heard shooting. Forgetting everything, Ann flung herself at the guard who tr ied to kill that strange animal. "Stop it, you idiot!" She cried. "Stop firing!" The dogs rushed downstairs. Taken aback, Robert looked around. He saw Mary and h er mad gaze totally confused him. "Make them stop!" Ann sobbed hysterically. Mary grinned. She understood. Robert frowned, and whistled. The submissive dogs left their victim. But lying d ownstairs the piglet was torn to bloody pieces. Ann buried her face on the chest of her father and wept violently. A servant picked up the dead capybara and questioningly looked at his Masters. "Robert!" Mary's voice was sternly calm. She slowly walked nd daughter. "Take that animal, resurrect it and return it u got it." She came close to them and whispered quietly so Ann could hear her. "And if I ever catch you disobeying my both be very sorry!" towards her husband a to the place where yo that only Robert and orders again you will

Not looking at Mary, Ann kissed her father and went to her apartment without say ing a word.

Angie Belanger Her husband had treated her awfully. So after three years of their marriage, she killed him. Robert Noirson had rescued her from the gas chamber, after she had lost consciousness and just before she died. At twenty-four years old, with long, straight black hair, this Philippine girl w as very pretty and Robert planned to send her to the bordello for his officers. But first of all he wanted to check her out. "It's your job now," He said after he had his way with her. He waited for her re ply with curiosity. Everybody showed different reactions, from hysteria to hopel ess despair. She smiled: "Thank you for saving my life!" She started tenderly caressing him, and her soft, slightly slanted eyes, the color of a ripe cherry, caused Noirson to feel strange. She looked at him with visible gratitude, and he got confused t hat he was not gentle with her. Her shy timidity aroused something like pity int o his soul, and Robert decided to keep her girl for himself for a while. But it was a new page in his life. This Philippine girl touched such levels in his hear t that even Mary had never reached. Now Noirson was rather afraid of his wife. Resolute, smart, and sly, during thos e years Mary took her husband in hand, and all his servants and business also. S he was an angel in the first generation, and now her abilities were as powerful as Robert's own. Noirson released that genie from the bottle, but he lost contro l, and he did not even remember the moment that she had taken over the leadershi p. However, that was one of the reasons why Robert had married her. Mary was a ster n, yet fair person. And Noirson was not afraid that she would "dismiss" Angie or hurt her. Yet Robert did not want to test the limits of Mary's patience. He still was very attached to his wife, and he was sparing her feelings, and he tried to hide his relationship with Angie Belanger as much as possible.

Mark and Angie This girl was a new laboratory assistant, and her apartment was next to the labo ratory. Mark took liberties with servants, so he entered without knocking. And he stood still. He saw his father. Naked Angie was sitting on the bureau, an d they were kissing and caressing each other. Without a word Mark spun around and wanted to go away, but he found the door of

the apartment locked. Glum, he looked back. Confused, Robert walked to him. "Son," He started uncertainly. "We have to talk." "About what?" Mark turned to his father. And Noirson was unpleasantly surprised, even shocked, seeing how much this guy looked like his biological mother. Franc ine had never loved Robert, she did not even try to pretend, and those memories still hurt. "What, daddy? Don't you have enough whores?" irritated, Mark pushed his bangs as ide with a quick brush of his hand across his face. "You can use your servants a ny way you want! Of course, mom is not so young! She could only be your daughter , not a grand-daughter!" "You shouldn't say such things." Noirson's voice quavered, and Mark felt guilty. He went closer, and hugged Robert. "Sorry, dad! I'm really sorry! I just don't want mom upset." "Me either, son, believe me! But we're both males, we should understand and help each other!" "So, she's so good, eh?" Mark screwed up his eyes. "May I try?" Robert tried to squeeze out a smile, but he could not. "Oh, dad!" Mark looked at his father with amazement. "Is it so serious?" Noirson lowered his eyes. Mark shook his head and went away.

Gleb Ann was lying down on the grass. Her tutor was telling her about some plays by S hakespeare. Of course, Ann was not able to read or even watch that. So, the tuto r was telling, trying to keep Ann's attention. However, the girl did not listen. Those romantic stories were great, but she wan ted to have her own. A lovely May evening, a charming twilight, the fragrance of the flowers and the fresh grass stirred her strong and healthy body. Ann sensed a deep, powerful call, but naive and light-minded she felt like a drunk, and di d not understand what was going on. Ann saw an ant, and crawled to follow it. She kept her eyes on the insect. Sudde nly she heard shouting and she lifted her face to see where the sound was coming from. Ann saw her father's soldiers. There were about twelve of them, all young, and n ew - they were still training. Wearing T-shirts and sports pants, they were all very attractive. Repeating motions again and again they looked like robots, and Ann smiled. Though they saw her, they were disciplined enough and did not turn a hair. One guy got Ann's attention. He was wearing a white T-shirt, and his hair was al

most the same color. But when the sun shone, his hair was shot with gold. His pi ercing brown eyes glanced at the daughter of his Master for just a second. Ann got up, and the leader noticed her. He shouted, and the soldiers stood still . The girl went closer, leering at these guys. She stopped next to the blond, and stared at him. All new servants had to wear name tags, and she looked at his tag . "Gleb?" She asked. "Yes, Miss Noirson." He responded calmly. His accent surprised the girl. "Where are you from?" "Moscow, Russia." his voice sounded with sadness. "Like my mom!" Ann gasped. He kept silent. "Show me your head!" She told Gleb. His brows lifted. "Yeah, check him out!" someone suggested. "Maybe he has cooties!" Everybody laughed. Gleb blushed, looked at Ann with spite, but submissively bent forward his head. Ann snorted. "Wow!" She was amazed. "It's your natural color! I thought you dyed your hair!" "In Moscow only punks do that!" He retorted maliciously. "But you're not in Russia any more!" Ann haughtily smiled. "Are you an immigrant ?" "Your Father gave me that big honor. He took me into his personal security servi ce." "Oh, you're so good, eh?" She leered at him again. "Can you lift me?" He snorted and grabbed her into his arms at once. He did not expect her to be so heavy, but he was well-trained, and an idea came to him now. He put Ann down, a nd grinned. "Take your shoes off!" Gleb screwed up his eyes. "If you can keep your feet stea dy, I can lift you much higher!" Ann obeyed, and got on his hands. He stretched his arms up above his head. Ann k ept her balance. She looked around and laughed with enjoyment. All soldiers lifted their hands also, and Ann carefully walked on their palms. O f course, she finally fell, and, of course, many hands caught her. Ann saw the face of Gleb above her left shoulder. "Kiss me!" She told him. Everybody fell silent. Gleb hesitated for a second, but resolutely bent and kissed her cheek. The girl sprang up, and ran skipping along. "Wow!" Gleb heard. "Lucky you!"

"Attention!" the leader shouted. Obeying his orders, the soldiers went back to t raining.

Gleb and Ann They had just started to kiss each other. A very tempting idea came to Gleb. To marry the daughter of an American billionaire. Heh-heh! If she became pregnant f rom him, maybe her parents... But suddenly someone loudly knocked at the door, and a servant entered, ordering Gleb to come with him. *** Sitting side by side, Mary and Robert stared at Gleb. He forgot, Ann's adoptive parents were not humans, they were able to read his th oughts, and send him to Hell with one motion of their finger. And now, realizing that, the youth blanched, and fell on his knees. *** Only one week later Ann dared to ask her father about Gleb. It was her and Mark' s birthday. She got a lot of presents, but it was not those she desired. "Sorry, honey!" Robert glanced at her. "Mom ordered him sent to Hell." Ann screeched, and burst into tears. "I'm really sorry!" Noirson hugged his sobbing daughter. "You know, that your mo m is thinking about sex without marriage!" "Okay! We can get married then!" "No way, dear!" Robert objected. "I want you to marry a man who's going to love you, not your money!" "Gleb loves me!" "Maybe... How can you be so sure?" "Yes! How can I find out if you took him away from me!" "Your mother..." "I'm eighteen now! Have you ever seen an eighteen year old virgin?" "Your mother was twenty one!" Robert smiled. "My mom was a nun!" Ann shouted angrily. "I mean a normal girl!" And she wept bi tterly. "Okay," Noirson sighed. "I'll send him back!"

Ann's face went light with a smile. "But!" He continued. "You have to listen to your tutors first. Second, hide your relationship from your mom. Deal?" "I love you, dad!" Ann looked at him with adoration. Robert waved his hand, and Gleb appeared in the middle of the room. He glanced at Noirson, and knelt. "Thank you, my Lord!" the youth mumbled. Ann threw herself to Gleb, and embraced him. "Happy birthday, honey! Have fun!" Robert left. He closed the door, and saw his wife. And they exchanged sad smiles .

The boyfriend "Aren't you tired?" Gleb leered at her big slender body. They had been dating ab out two months already, and her insatiable nature was starting to scare the youn g man. "Nope! With you I can do it the whole day!" Ann kissed him. "You're a horse, girl!" the youth smiled. "But if you neglect your homework, you r mom will start suspecting something. Wanna see me dismissed again?" "She won't!" "You know your mom. Look, sweetheart, for you I'm not afraid of a "ride to Hell" . But I thought you loved me and don't wanna lose me. Was I wrong?" "You're right," Ann sighed. Lazily she got up and started dressing. "Get out of here, buddy!" She peeped into the corridor: "The coast is clear!" Gleb kissed her lips and quickly went away. Yawning, Ann took her papers and turned on her computer. She was really attached to her boyfriend, and she did not want any trouble for him. *** "Everything's fine!" Ann watched with vexation, as Gleb checked her homework. "Q uit it! You're a bodyguard, not a tutor!" "I almost graduated Moscow University." Gleb retorted coldly. "I'm not just a th ug. And I won't go with you, love, until I'm sure you're done!" Ann growled. But Gleb did not mind. "Okay, honey!" He said finally. "What did you think up for the evening?" "Take me to a some dirty cheap bar!" Ann drawled dreamily. "But not one of daddy 's bars, okay?"

Gleb leered at her. He was glad, she could not read his thoughts. "And don't bring anyone else!" Ann told him. "No way!" Gleb made a curved smile. "Jeff at least. My dear, it's too dangerous! " "Scaredy cat!" Ann pushed him. "You're a coward!" She got angry. "I ordered it, so do it! And if I discover you tell my parents, I'll dismiss you!" She shouted at him with spite. She hit him. Gleb did not move. Ann punched him again and aga in. She was very strong, and despite his training it hurt. But Gleb only shook h is head. "No way, honey!" He repeated calmly. "It's my duty to protect you! We're going w ith Jeff, or I won't go at all!" "Okay! You won!" Ann screamed with tears in her voice. She stomped with her leg, and sighed. She hugged Gleb, and started to kiss him. He responded. He hoped th at after making love, she would forget that wild idea. She often changed her min d. But he was wrong.

In the bar Ann kept her eyes on him all the time, and Gleb had no chance to report to his M asters about that "trip". He knew of one bar; it looked scary, yet it was safe e nough. It was Thursday, and usually the gang controlling that part of street che cked this bar on Friday or Saturday. *** When they entered, everybody in the bar looked at them with amazement. Ann went to the counter, sat on a stool, and smirked. Alarmed, Gleb and Jeff sat next her to watch people into the hall. In the beginning the impressive appearance of her escorts kept any troublemakers at bay, and the bodyguards hoped everything would be fine. But suddenly the door opened, and Gleb quietly cursed. It was the local gang, an d Jeff got up and stood behind Ann. "Ah!" the leader came to them and sat next to Ann. "New faces! On our street, eh ?" "Sorry, Viper." Jeff said peacefully. "We're leaving now." "No, we're not!" Ann stared at the new guy. "Oh, white head," Viper gave Gleb a wink. "Your huge girl likes me! Where did yo u find her? Such a giraffe should live in a zoo, not visit bars." Ann blushed. Taller than six feet, she never had a complex about her height. And moreover, she was proud of it. Viper's guys caught this subject and their jokes became more and more dirty. Ann looked at her bodyguards with anger. Jeff sighe d.

"Leave her alone!" He turned to the gang. "If you're men, let's talk like men!" "Right, guys," Viper snorted. "Go on, he needs a little lesson, while I'm talkin g with that nice skyscraper." He looked at mad Ann again. "How about you, white head?" Viper addressed Gleb. "Would you go with your frien d, eh?" "I'm tired and don't wanna get up." Gleb said through clenched teeth and careful ly prepared his gun. He followed Jeff with his eyes. Jeff was not human, so Gleb was almost not worried about him. "Oh, you're a German boy, eh?" Not for the first time, people took his Russian a ccent as German. Suddenly they heard shooting outside, and Gleb snatched up his gun. The people i n the bar recoiled to the walls. Viper looked at the door. One of his guys burst inside and ran towards them. Maybe he just wanted to tell him something, but Gl eb could not take any risks. His shot threw off that guy, and the women in the b ar squealed. Viper did not move. "You're crazy!" Ann burst into tears. "Call daddy! He'll resuscitate him!" Grinning, Gleb held the gun with one hand, and took out his cell-phone with the another. "Mr. Noirson, sir," He said into the receiver. "It's Gleb. We have a problem." *** Holding guns, Noirson's men went into the bar first, then Robert entered. Ann ru shed to her father, and hugged him. She sobbed. "Are you all right?" Noirson asked with worry. "Honey, are you okay?" "I'm fine," She sighed. "I'm sorry, daddy! I'm so sorry!" "My dear baby!" He patted her back. "Gleb, take her home! Not a word to my wife! Ann, sweetie, I have to work here for a while. Go, my heart! Just don't tell yo ur mom about this, okay?" "Oh, I won't!" Ann nodded. Everybody was afraid of Mary, and was ready to do any thing to avoid her anger.

Noah and Brian He started suspecting something about a month ago, when the new party came here. The usual expedition, the usual excavations. Noah and Brian's job was to guard t he stuff that these scientists had found. But at that time they had a new driver , Fernard. In the beginning nobody knew he was homosexual. Noah and Brian never hid their relationship. The young men lived together as spo uses and stood up for each other if someone tried to make fun of them.

Noah found out about Fernard first. "You know, Brian," He said as he was brushing his teeth. "Fernard's gay." The youth gazed at his partner: "How do you know?" He could usually recognize an other homosexual, but in this case with Fernard he was not sure. "He said it himself." Noah washed his face. "But I told him about you. That's al l." That dialog left an unpleasant after taste in Brian's soul. He looked at the nak ed lithe back of his partner. Despite his tall height, sturdy Brian was shorter than the thin, athletic Noah, and Brian had a little complex about that. And the thought that someone else would touch his friend made Brian insane. Sensitive, Noah felt something was wrong, and he turned to his partner. "Brian," He said with tender reproach. "Don't be foolish. I need no one except y ou." But this phrase did not appease Brian's jealousy. He started to spy on his friend. Noah noticed it, and twice a hot-tempered Brian made awful scenes. But all the time they made up with each other, their love wa s strong, it was a real, deep feeling. They were soul-mates, not just sexual par tners. *** He did not want to leave without Noah. But the chief of the party ordered it, an d Brian did not want to look stupid or ridiculous. Before he got into the helicopter, Brian saw Fernard. The driver stood next to N oah, and Brian rushed back and grabbed Fernard. "If you ever come close to Noah," Brian growled at Fernard's face. "I'll cut off your pecker and your balls, and you'll eat them! And after that I'll kill you!" Scared, the driver did not reply. "Hah!" Brian heard from aside. "Our fags are gonna fight!" He heard laughter, bl ushed and released Fernard. Not looking around, Brian went to the helicopter. *** Brian was absent for just few days. When he went back, Noah was not there waitin g for him. Going crazy with jealousy and suspicion Brian checked his knife, and walked to t heir tent. Noah came out and quickly closed the shelter flap behind him, and tur ned to his partner with a confused smile. Brian was sure Fernard was inside. Without a word he hit Noah in his belly with his knife, and opened the tent section. His eyes were searching around, and suddenly stopped on the bed. He saw the Grun dig Avantgarde, an electric shaver, on the blanket. Brian had dreamed about owin

g it for so long, but it was too expensive. Somehow Noah had bought it; he had p lanned to surprise his partner with it, but Brian had come back before he could wrap it. Brian gasped and flung himself back at Noah. His partner was sitting on the floo r. He was dying, and they both understood that. "It's okay, Brian... It's my fault!" Noah said with effort. "I was a fool. I for got... Give me that shiv! I'll pretend suicide. I love you, Brian... I don't wan t any trouble to you..." Brian did not reply. He was unable to make a sound. 'Trouble!' No execution woul d decrease his pain. No death would be enough punishment. Even hellish suffering s... But that thought put a new idea into Brian's mind. He ran outside. *** Dr. Lee was checking his notes when the guard burst into his tent. Dr. Lee gazed at him and was horrified. That guard looked insane. Oh, God! He was crazy like the last psycho. "Where is the amulet to call the Devil?" He shouted. Dr. Lee was ready to give a nything to that loony. The scientists had found a very rare amulet. Probably tha t guy heard their speculation about how the amulet had been used in Devil worshi p thousands of years ago. Dr. Lee took it out. "Take the book with the texts!" Dr. Lee took the book that they found next to the amulet. "Come with me! You'll read this!" Dr. Lee dared not to refuse.

The summons When they went into the tent Dr. Lee gasped. He saw Noah, covered with blood, dy ing or already dead, and the scientist understood that Brian did it. Dr. Lee fel t despair, thinking, he would be next. "Let's do it!" Brian took the scientist on the point of his gun. He heard that p eople started gathering outside the tent. "If anyone tries to come inside," He s houted. "I'll kill you at once!" Dr. Lee's hands were trembling while he drew the magic symbols on the floor. Bri an carefully put Noah in the middle of these pictures, and knelt next to him. Dr . Lee spelled out the phrases from the book, and Brian repeated the words. Nothing happened. Noah did not move. "Brian," Dr. Lee started timidly. "It's just a legend. A tale. I'm really sorry. "

The ground shook. The crowd outside became silent. Brian slowly lifted his head. Something was coming here. People outside screamed. Brian heard them run away in different directions. The ground trembled with the steps of someone so huge tha t human imagination could not realize. Unlimited horror seized the guard, but he hugged the body of Noah, buried his fa ce on the chest of his dead friend, and decided to die next to him at least. "What do you want?" the monstrously powerful voice sounded into Brian's ears, an d into his mind. He heard Dr. Lee fall, losing the consciousness. "Make Noah alive again!" Brian dared not to lift his face. "What will I have as payment?" "I'll do anything!" Brian was shaken. "I want to be with him, no matter, on Eart h or in Hell!" "I have to ask him. Noah?" Suddenly Noah opened his eyes, and embraced his partner. "I'll be with you, Bria n. The price doesn't matter." "Deal!" the monster laughed. "Welcome aboard!" *** When the people finally dared to go into the tent, they found only Dr. Lee. But his hair was white as snow.

Gleb and Noah Feeling glum, Gleb drank port and watched a dancing girl. Someone patted his sho ulder, and another young man sat next to him. "Don't try to provoke me into a fight, Noah." Gleb said through clenched teeth. "Relax, buddy," Noah smiled. "I touched your shoulders, not your butt." "Why did you come here? This floor is for normal men, not for homos." "It's not prohibited." Noah retorted calmly. "The only difference between you an d me is that I love Brian, and you please the Master's daughter." Gleb finished his glass, and filled it up again. "Gleb," Noah asked very quietly. "I've never come to you, but I see something's wrong. The Devil is my witness! I couldn't just watch a guy like you suffer. I'v e worked here longer than you, maybe I can help you." Gleb tossed his head. He wanted to reply sharply, but he was too drunk and he we pt. Noah looked around with worry. He gently helped Gleb to move to a table in t

he corner. "Sh-sh-sh!" Noah seated Gleb with his back to the hall. "Somebody could report t his! Try to pull yourself together, eh? Are you okay?" Gleb drank a few gulps and gazed at Noah. "I miss my mother!" He said derisively. "Go, tell everybody! Make fun of me! You all envy me about Ann, but..." Gleb did not finish, just shook his head, nevert heless Noah understood, and his face clouded. He poured the glass of Gleb's drin k for himself. He tasted, and he wrinkled. Noah came to the counter, picked up a beer, then went back. "I'm surprised you drink wine," Noah glanced at the bottle near Gleb. "I thought Russians only drank vodka." "When I was a student, I did not drink at all." Gleb snorted. "My ex boss was so ber. Now he's working at the garage in the major building! He's washing cars!" G leb burst out laughing, and sniffed. "Shit, buddy," Noah shook his head. "What about your mother? I swear, no fun! My mom died when I was twelve. And it was so awful! I ran away from home, and I ne ver went back. She was my only defender. My stepfather... Damn, you know that fa ggot! He's working in the boiler room. You know he's limp and a red head?" Gleb looked at Noah with surprise, and nodded. "Did he..." Gleb started, but Noah lowered his eyes, and Gleb did not ask. It wa s clear enough. "I'm her only son." Gleb rubbed his face with his hands. "She's not married... S he was not married. Oh, Noah! They don't allow me to contact her! Maybe she's si ck! Maybe she's starving! I don't even know, maybe she passed away..." And Gleb sobbed. "Look," an idea came to Noah. "Next time when you come and report to our Lady, a sk Her! She lost Her firstborn, maybe She'll take pity on you? By the way, She w as born in Moscow too." "Ann told me about that." Gleb sighed. "But it's no matter... Well, I'll try. Th anks, pal."

Ann and Mary Gleb was checking Ann's homework when they heard a light knock, and a slender ma n entered the room. It was Bill Hamelin, Mark's tutor. Dark blond, at thirty-three years old, he looked much younger, about twenty. His face was gloomy almost all the time, and cheerful Ann did not like to communica te with him. Besides he was a little bit shorter than she was, and the girl felt something like pity for him. He morosely glanced around, came to Gleb and looked at the papers. He turned to Ann.

"Why does a guard check your work?" He asked her. "I'm a professional, I should do that." Gleb stood up and stared at Hamelin. They both were slaves here, and it was awfu l. Gleb recalled his life before, and he felt depression, and again he damned hi s agreement to serve Robert. Maybe to die would be better... "Go ahead!" Gleb snorted. "I have enough things to do." But it sounded so significant that the young lovers blushed at once. Ann glanced at her bodyguard with spite. "Yeah, Bill," She stepped forward and suddenly hugged Hamelin. "Do it, buddy." A nd she kissed him. Gleb's eyes opened with amazement. He was surprised, he felt jealousy. Without a word he walked out. Ann released Bill. She was upset and confused. Hamelin gazed at her. "Miss Noirson..." He started hesitantly. "Ann... Dear, I... I wanted to say it a long time ago, but..." "Miss Noirson!" One of Mary's bodyguards entered the room. "Your mother wishes t o talk with you right now!" *** Mary Noirson gazed at her daughter. "You're an adult, eh?" She asked coldly. "What? Do you need sex so much, you're ready to do that even with a tutor of your brother?" "Mom," Ann trembled. "I was just kidding. Honest." "I hope so," Mary's voice was stern. "One week detention." "That's not fair!" Ann became angry. "I am of age! I have the right to my own li fe!" "Oh, really?" Mary screwed up her eyes. "If I wish to, you'll remain locked up i n your apartment forever!" Ann gasped. She cried. She felt despair. It was true. Her mother was able to do that, and the girl knew that better than anyone else. Mary stared at her daughte r. "One week." Mary Noirson repeated. "During that you have to think. Okay, you're adult enough for having sex, eh? So, you're adult enough to take a decision." "Oh, I will!" Ann screamed. "Great!" Mary rose and addressed the chief of the security service. "She's punis hed, control that! By the way, send Jeff, Gleb, and Ken to Norway..." "Why?" Ann asked involuntarily. "You don't need them, 'cause you won't leave your apartment during the next week !" the sly smile was on Mary's lips. "You don't need them, do you?"

Ann desired to shout: "I need Gleb! I need to see him, touch him! To kiss him an d feel his caressing..." But her mother already had sent Gleb to Hell once, the girl did not want it to happen again. She wept, and left the room without saying a word.

The breakfast It was the first common breakfast after Ann's punishment. Mary expected to see h er husband smiling, but he was visibly upset, and he did not look at his wife. "What's wrong?" Mary sat at the table, and everybody took their serviettes. "I'm gonna move out." Ann gazed at her mother. "Oh, really?" Mary did not turn a hair. "Why? Wanna have more freedom for your l echery?" "Quit it!" Robert pounded the table. "I think you just couldn't wait for her to become eighteen to kick her out of house!" "Oh, I am the plenipotentiary of Evil on Earth, am I?" Mary stared at her husban d, and he lowered his eyes. "I want to go to some university. But not in this state." "And what do you want to study?" Mary asked derisively. "Veterinary." Mary's brows lifted with surprise. "I knew, you were a silly girl, but that's the stupidest thing that I've ever he ard from you." "Why?" Ann screamed with tears in her voice. "Honey," Robert hugged his daughter. "I'll pay for anything that you wish to stu dy!" "She just doesn't understand how difficult it can be!" hissed Mary. "Okay, my da rling! You asked for it!" She whistled, and a huge dog laying near them ran to her call. Mary tapped the t able, and the submissive animal jumped up, and the tableware tinkled under its p aws. "Good boy! Lie down!" "Mary!" Robert watched with worry. "What you think up? He's my favorite dog!" "Calm down! I'm not a sadist!" She retorted coldly. "He will not feel a thing!" The dog lay on its side, Mary made a few magic motions, and addressed the servan t standing next to her. "Cut the dog's belly!"

"No!" Robert gasped. The servant gazed at him. Noirson glanced at his wife and l ooked aside. The servant quickly moved his hand with his knife. As Mary promised, the animal felt nothing. It calmly laid still, and waved its t ail. But the blood rushed out like a fountain, and splashed on everybody. Robert silently wiped his face. Mark laughed. The servant came closer to Ann and held out a bandage. Livid, the girl grabbed the bandage. She took the challenge of her mother. Witho ut a word she dressed the cut as well as she could, and arrogantly looked at Mar y. The woman cured the dog, and Robert sighed with relief. He called his pet, an d the animal jumped down, hid under the table, and put its head on the lap of it s master. The servants changed the table appointments. "Well," Mary smiled. "You can start packing. But until you're living in this hou se, you'll work in the lab here, building B, the basement. Mark, tell Bill about it! Ann will help take care of the laboratory animals. We'll see if she able to do that or not." "Yes!" Ann challenged. "You'll see!" Mary and Mark got up at once, and left the hall without saying a word. Robert hu gged his daughter, and the girl cried bitterly.

Irene She was a lesbian. And she had a true love. She lived with her girlfriend. Chels ea was bi, and from her ex-boyfriend she had a four year old boy named Jimmy. De spite her disgust with males, Irene was really attached to that little boy. She knew she would miss him terribly when she went for basic training in the Navy ne xt May. *** Irene woke up every morning at 6:00 a.m. and took a shower. When she got out, Ch elsea got in. Irene got dressed and woke up Jimmy and got him dressed too. When Chelsea finally got out of the bathroom, Irene went in and did her hair and brus hed her teeth. She did not wear makeup, so she did not have to worry about any o f that. They dropped Jimmy off at daycare. Then Irene and Chelsea kissed each other befo re separating until the evening. After school Irene went to pick up Jimmy and they went home. Chelsea got off wor k at 5:30 p.m. and they had supper. Almost every evening, Chelsea went to some b ar, and not only for lesbians. Irene knew that. But she very loved Chelsea and did not want to be a burden to h er. Irene stayed home and watched Jimmy. After her homework was done, Irene work ed out every night, because she needed to be in good shape for the Navy. They us ually got to bed about 11 p.m. Their life seemed good.

The accident "Who were you to her?" the doctor asked as he went from the operating room. Struck with despair, Irene slowly got up. She understood. "Jimmy?" She tried to hold the last, dying hope. "I'm very sorry, we did all that we could..." Choking with tears, she ran away. Her world was ruined completely. The awful sig hts remained in her mental vision. Chelsea and Jimmy returned to the building an d waved their hands to her. And she saw the oncoming car... She screamed, she sw ung her arms, but they did not hear her, or they did not understand. *** While she was waiting in the hospital, a policeman said something about the driv er, however, Irene did not remember exactly what he said. Probably the driver wa s drunk, or maybe the police already had caught him, but it was no matter. *** On the street Irene saw a truck and rushed to intercept it. She desired the same fate as her dead loved ones. But somehow the driver stopped the vehicle. Livid, he jumped out, and ran toward s her with raised fists. However, he saw her face and he stopped at once. "Are you okay?" He asked carefu lly.

From Hell She was naked. She was totally naked. She could not move her arms. They did not belong to her any more. Trembling with horror Irene slowly went between two rank s of males. They were naked also, they wanted her, but something held them. In the end of the passageway a monster was waiting for her. Who was he? A faun, a satyr or just a horrible mutant? Irene had no idea. He smiled. Irene came clos er, and he touched her breast. *** She awoke with a howl of despair. Irene felt cold. She was naked, laying on some cold table, in some cold, very cold room. An old, nevertheless, very beautiful man and a pudgy woman of middle age were standing near her.

"Thank you, honey!" the woman said tenderly as she kissed the man. "So, if I wis h to send her back to Hell, I just do this..." She lifted her hand, but Irene ga sped: "Please, no! I beg you!" They looked at her. The man smiled: "Okay, my dear, work with her! I think she's ready." And he left. The woman took a sheet and covered Irene: "Is that better?" The girl sat up, nodded and wept. She recalled everything. "Why was I in Hell?" She asked with effort. "All suicides go to Hell." Mary Noirson looked at the sobbing girl with compassi on. "I can understand your feelings. My son was murdered in front of me! It happ ened almost twenty years ago, but it still hurts! But that's no reason to kill y ourself! Why did you jump off that bridge? God gave you your life as a wonderful gift! How could you throw it back! Such a deed has no excuse. The usual fate fo r a girl as you is to be a free whore for soldiers of my husband." Shocked, Irene stared at her. "But I also need servants," the woman continued. "And you're exactly what I'm lo oking for right now. And my hubby was so kind, he gave you to me. However, if yo u're not submissive, I'll return you to them. Wanna?" "I'll be obedient." Irene mumbled. "What do you want from me?" "I need a bodyguard and companion for my daughter." "Bodyguard? But I'm female!" "No matter! At least a quarter of all our soldiers are females. Sometimes it's e ven better than males! And my daughter, Ann... she thinks she so adult and she w ants to be independent. You have to pretend to be her roommate, I'll pay all sch olarship and apartment fees for you. But you have to be trained beforehand. Usua lly it takes about three years, however, we have no time for that. Well, in Hell time is different than on Earth. You can spend centuries in that place, but in reality it would be just a few days. So, you'll be trained in Hell..." Irene screamed with horror. "Don't worry," the woman smiled. "With my patronage no one will dare offend you. " She stretched her arm to Irene. The girl shook it, but the woman waited, and Ire ne understood and kissed the hand of her Lady. Irene was smart, and she realized that her previous life was gone, and now she had to accept the new rules, if sh e wanted to survive.

Bill Hamelin Ann and two of her maids were sorting out her belongings, when Bill Hamelin ente red the room.

"Miss Noirson," He asked dismally. "Do you really want to move out?" "Bill," Ann replied coldly as her mom did when talking with servants. "It's my d ecision, and that's all." "Why? You can have any tutor! You can study here, you can get any diploma withou t leaving!" "I'm tired of feeling like a bird in a cage." "But you're going to take Gleb with you, aren't you?" "First, it's none of your business," Ann blushed. "And second, my parents ordere d me to chose four bodyguards, so, I'm going to take Jeff, Brian, Noah and Gleb. " "Why them?" "Because, Brian and Noah have each other. So, they would concentrate on my prote ction, not on searching for girls. As you know, Jeff is not human, and he is a h ead partner of Gleb..." She felt pity for Bill, he seemed even more glum than us ual. "If you were a bodyguard, I'd take you." And she laughed at this idea. Hamelin lifted his face and the girl saw such a depression in his eyes that her smile died at once. "I'm a prisoner here, and I can't follow you." He said with bitterness. Only now Ann noticed her maids had left the room and that she was alone with Ham elin. "Bill!" Ann gasped. "It sounds as if you love me!" "So, if it is?" He gazed at her. "You're a maniac." Ann shook her head. "I don't even like the idea that you're t utoring Mark! Before my daddy got you, you killed all your lab workers! Your bac teria almost killed you, and you still work with that stuff!" "They are viruses, not bacteria!" Bill became angry. "How are you going to study veterinary medicine, if you don't even know the difference between bacteria and viruses!" "Big deal! I'll study!" "And that was an accident! Accidents happen! And what has it got to do with my l ove to you?" "Love?" Ann laughed so sincerely that Hamelin blushed and ran away. Not turning a hair, Ann called her maids and continued the packing.

Fun As Mary had ordered, Ann worked in the laboratory every day. Bill Hamelin was co

ldly polite to her, and, looking at his indifferent face, Ann became amazed, rec alling his emotional declaration. His restraint irritated he girl, she wanted him to suffer with unrequited love f or her. She started to flirt with him. Hamelin was as cold as ice. And finally A nn felt a real desire to do anything just to get his attention again. *** He told her to bring a guinea pig. Ann honestly tried. She already knew how to h andle most laboratory animals, and guinea pigs should be next step in her practi ce. She tried to catch one in the common vivarium. The motley animals were runni ng like crazy, making her dazzled. From time to time the girl grabbed a pig, but it uttered shrill screeches, and slid out her hands. Finally Bill came to her. "Don't mind its squeal," He said as he skillfully snatched one of them, and show ed Ann the position of his fingers, then put the animal back. Ann took a deep br eath, and grabbed a pig, but it bit her. Not seriously, it did not even scratch her skin, yet the girl got scared and dropped the animal back into the cage. Ham elin patiently took out another one and showed it to Ann. "You've caught me like that helpless guinea pig," Ann suddenly pronounced. Bill leered at her. "Okay, now you try!" He voiced morosely. "Oh, I will!" She playfully screwed up her eyes, and hugged him. "Miss Noirson!" it was the only thing that he was able to say. She started cares sing him, and, taken aback, Hamelin kept silent and held the guinea pig as if it was a life buoy. *** Angie Belanger had just entered the vivarium, and saw Bill and Ann. Gasping, Ang ie rushed back, and collided with Robert. He smiled. "Right into my arms!" He hugged her. "Did you miss me so?" "Ann!" Belanger waved her hand towards the vivarium room, and shortly explained, what she had just seen. Noirson glanced at the door, thought for a while, and s hook his head. "Let the poor girl have some fun!" "But she can... I mean, you told me..." "Don't worry, honey!" He kissed her. "Today is safe, I know her "days" even bett er than she does!" He snorted, then gazed at Angie. "Your chief is busy now, isn 't he? So, let's go, why waste time, eh?" The lovers laughed, and left the laboratory.

Mary

Mary Noirson gave Gleb new instructions, and told him to go. He went to the exit , but he stopped near the door, then slowly walked back, and knelt. Mary frowned , and he started trembling. The angel in the human body, she was a plenipotentia ry of the High Court, and every one of Noirson's servants knew that. Just once G leb forgot about this, however, the following severe lesson had taught him to re member his status. "My Lady," the young man forced himself to talk. "You're a mother yourself! Be m erciful! Please, allow me contact with my mother! Just once! I beg you!" "Silence!" She gazed at him. "It's part of your Punishment! You're a mamma's boy , eh? You should've thought about your mother when you took that machine gun! Yo u killed eight people! All of them had mothers! You're in Hell, buddy, sorry! Yo u won't get permission to contact her. Never." Gleb summoned all his courage, and suppressed his sobs. He got up, and bowed low . Mary glanced at him, and sighed. "She's okay." Mary Noirson said with a ghostly smile. "She met good people, they helped her withstand your missing." And Gleb burst into tears. Mary observed him for a few seconds. "I said, 'you won't get permission to contact her'." Gleb felt a hint, and gazed at his Lady. "But we can't control you twenty-four-hours a day," She continued. "And as a goo d, submissive servant, you have two days each week to spend however you want... In the city, for example..." Gleb gasped, he understood. Overflowing with unlimited gratitude, he dared not t o say "thank you" aloud. He fell on his knees, pressed his hands to his chest, a nd tears were running down his cheeks. "Go this way," Mary pointed to the door behind her desk. "I don't want anyone to make fun of you. When you calm down, you can go back to work." He went out, and the woman shook her head. "Damn..." She whispered. "What a life ." She thought about her son, and she made a call. "Sorry, ma'am," Mark's servant pronounced significantly. "He's busy now. Would y ou like me to call him anyway?" "Of course not!" Mary threw the receiver, and called her secretary. The secretar y looked at her with worry. "Where is Ann?" The secretary explained, and Mary's eyes opened widely. "If you're gonna say that my husband is "busy" too," She shouted and pounded her desk. "I'll kill you!" Scared, the secretary knelt. Mary became confused. "Did they all arrange this with each other or what?" She mumbled.

Slowly she got up, walked to her dressing room, dropped her clothes on the floor , went to the bathroom, turned on the water, loosened her hair, and got into the jacuzzi. She gazed at the mirror on the ceiling. "Look at that old witch!" Mary whispered. "What a crooked face!" She laughed wit h spite. "Nobody needs me, eh? We'll see about that!" She grabbed a phone, made a call, and closed her eyes, trying to relax. *** Mary leered at the entered youth. He glanced around with surprise, but suddenly he saw his Lady, gasped, and stood still. "Hi Nick!" She smiled. "I know you're leaving the country tomorrow." He nodded. "And I know, you have some dreams, eh?" He blushed, and grinned. "You're a professional thief, aren't you?" Mary stretched her limbs. "Wanna stea l some "spicy" stuff before you leave? Your dreams can come true, buddy!" Still smiling, he took off his jacket, then gazed at his Lady with concern. "Mrs. Noirson," his voice trembled. "I just don't want any misunderstanding!" "Oh, poor boy!" She rose in the bathtub. Her wet gold hair flowed down below her shoulders. She looked like a mermaid. "All work, and no fun makes Mary a dull g irl. Get naked, and join me here, you silly thing! Is that clear enough?" *** She finally told him to go, and the youth staggered out, smiling like a drunk. M ary glanced at her reflection again, and laughed with pleasure. "Look at that young bitch!" She yawned. "What a smug face! Okay, girl, get to wo rk!" And she turned off the water.

The boat "Daddy!" Excited, Ann clutched Robert's arm. "I want a ride..." "To Hell?" Noirson smiled. "Dad!" Ann pouted her lips. "We prepared a boat, come with us! The weather is gr eat!" "Ann! It's almost midnight!" Mary walked towards them. "In the morning you'll ha ve a headache for sure!" "Dad will help me, eh?" the girl gazed at her father. "Pleeeeeease?" Robert glanced at his wife. Mary shrugged her shoulders.

"She's adult enough to move out, so she's adult enough to stay awake all night l ong! But I won't waste even a bit of the Power tomorrow! Don't count on me! No w ay!" Mary grumbled as she walked away. Ann and Robert hugged each other and laughed. "I'll miss you, honey..." He said with sadness, and, touched, Ann kissed her fat her. "I love you, daddy!" She showed an apologetic smile. "Let's go, eh?" *** Servants helped them get into the boat, and started rowing. It was a long, but n ot a wide boat, without an engine. They silently moved along the canal to the la ke. Suddenly the Noirsons saw the light in Mark's room, and a playful idea came to b oth of them at once. They ordered the boat stopped for a while. A few minutes later servants brought Mark. He tried to struggle and cursed. But he saw his father, tore himself from the servants hands, and came to the boat wi thout a word. Mark got inside, and sat on the bench as far away from his sister as was possibl e. He pushed his bangs off his gloomy face with his hand, and haughtily turned a way. Mark looked like a king-prisoner, and Robert exchanged glances with his dau ghter, and they both laughed. *** In the moonlight the lake was mysteriously beautiful. Small waves tenderly moved the boat. Robert gazed at his daughter, and felt awfully sad. He did not believ e that she had already grown up, and she was ready to go away. For him she was s till a little girl with ringlets, the color of fallen leaves, and with huge naiv e blue eyes. Noirson knew she was careless and not smart, and her absurd "affair " with Bill Hamelin only increased his worry for his daughter. Her father was upset, her brother was offended, the servants were tired and irri tated, but thoughtless Ann noticed nothing. She sang, picked up water-lilies, an d from time to time she burst out laughing. Romantic night, feelings of freedom and happiness made her like a drunk. She spr ang up and started to dance. Mark shouted and clutched the board. The boat swung more and more. The servants barely kept it from toppling over. "Easy, honey!" finally Robert warned with a smile. Obedient, Ann went to sit down, but suddenly Mark got up too, and collided with his sister. They seized each other and both fell off. The boat overturned, and e verybody was in the water now. "Ann!" Robert screamed. He saw her, and smiled. She swam to the boat and clung t o it. She laughed. "Mark?" they both called at once. Awful curses were an answer to them. Ann snort ed. She tried to laugh. "Son!" Robert hoped his voice was stern enough. "Watch your mouth! Your sister i

s here!" "Send that loony to Hell!" Mark shouted. "And you go with her! Why can't you jus t let me be?" *** Only much later, at home, Mark found out that the vial with a culture of viruses that Bill Hamelin was working with, was gone. The youth thought he lost it in t he lake. But the vial was corked up securely, and Mark did not tell anyone about the loss.

Chapter Nine: Work, life, rest Angie and Mary Though Angie had lived here for almost one year, this was her first visit to the main building. Belanger walked along the corridor curiously. A lot of people were walking aroun d, the building was like a headquarters or a some state institution. Near one window Angie stopped for a while. It was a very interesting view from t here. All outgoing cars turned here, and it was possible to see the people, or t o wave your hand. Angie thought about her Master and lover. Even thinking about his lips excited h er. But she quietly moaned with pleasure when she recalled his hands. His long, sensual, thin fingers did not just touch. Like tentacles they were caressing, ti ckling, massaging, and the enjoyment was simply beyond reality. Deep in thought, Angie wanted to walk again, but some hefty man pushed her and s he dropped her papers. The man cursed, Angie hastily knelt to pick up her stuff. "What on Earth is going on?" Angie heard, lifted her face and was still in shock seeing Mary Noirson. The gir l understood, that she had collided with a bodyguard of her Lady. "Who are you?" Mary stared at the girl. "Angie Belanger, ma'am." The girl squeezed out. She hoped, her Lady did not know about her status, but Mary's face became clouded, and Angie started trembling w ith fear. "Ah, the fresh toy of my hubby, eh?" Mary's eyes grew narrow. "What are you doin g here? All prostitutes can leave building C only with a permission. Do you have one?" "I'm a laboratory assistant, ma'am," the girl replied calmly. "Mr. Hamelin has o rdered me to deliver these papers to your son." "But Mark lives in a different part of the building! Why are you here?" "It's a huge house, ma'am. I lost my way, and a maid showed me this corridor." "Nice joke! She tricked you, buddy." Mary snorted. "So, you are an assistant, eh ?"

"I studied medical technology in the University of the Immaculate Conception for two years." "Davao City, Philippines," Mary's helper whispered to his Lady. "Hmm, you're a college girl?" Mary Noirson looked at Belanger again. "That Catho lic university is run by Sisters of the Religious of the Virgin Mary, isn't it? By the way, hon, I am a copy of Saint Mary, maybe even a clone! Surprised?" Angie gasped: "And you married..." She stopped short. "Yes. Married!" Mary's voice sounded with a challenge. "Married more than twenty years! Because we love each other! What? Why are you looking at me with such ho rror? Am I a monster?" Angie wept, and Mary felt pity. She bent to the girl, and patted her shoulder. "Poor you!" Mary Noirson brought her face to Belanger's. "A little secret: we're all prisoners here, even me." "Mommy!" Mark was running along the corridor, his eyes glinted with rage. His co arse brown bangs made him look like Hitler. Mark rushed at Angie with lifted fis ts. He called the girl names so awful that Belanger gasped, and Mary frowned. Wi th a signal her bodyguards grabbed her son. "Mom!" He roared in temper. "Did that dirty bitch offend you?" "Pull yourself together!" Mary shouted at him. "What language! Shame on you! Are you okay, honey?" Mark tore himself from the servants hands, and hugged his mother. Smiling, Mary tenderly moved his hair off his face with her hand. "Go to your apartment!" She ordered Angie, not looking at her. The girl gave the papers to Mark and hastily went away.

In the apartment When Mark entered her apartment, Angie at first did not understand why he came. He was still mad about the morning incident. The feeling of offense for his moth er hurt the youth. He was angry at his father, and a plan of revenge came to Mar k. For the next few hours he used the slave girl as though she was the cheapest pro stitute. Scared to death, Angie dare not to resist or refuse his orders. When he finally left her, a shocked Belanger plodded to the bathroom, turned on the shower and sat down under the stream of the water. She wept with pain, and t he feeling of humiliation. Suddenly a woman entered the bathroom. It was a madam Comier, the chief of Noirs on's prostitutes. She held out some pills. "What is that?" the girl asked with effort.

"Cyanide", stupid!" the madam snorted. "You're already in Hell! And you're still afraid of anything?" Angie obediently took the pills, and the woman checked her mouth to be sure Bela nger had swallowed them. "Good girl!" Comier scanned Angie with a professional look. "You should ask the Master to fix your tits, tomorrow they will be purple like egg-plants." The girl was sobbing. "Oh-oh-oh, look at her!" the madam smiled scornfully. "That murderer could cry! As I know, you can handle guns, not only cocks, eh?" "Why do you try to hurt me?" Angie stared at her with perplexity. "I killed nobody," the woman retorted with proud intonation. "I just took a doub le dose! I had poor memory, I forgot about the first one. But now, I have a pret ty good memory, and I strongly recommend you to remember that! Not for the first time the Master is keeping a girl for himself, but always they finally come to the building C, under my wing. Sooner or later, no matter! So, be nice with me g irl." And she left. *** At the diner a frowning Mary observed her husband and son. "I hate it when you're blocking your thoughts!" Mary threw her serviette. "What happened?" The males did not answer, and she resolutely got up, and walked away. "It was a very mean act, son." Noirson did not look at him. "If I wasn't a cripp le, I would hit you." "Oh, really?" Mark screwed up his cat-like eyes. "Who is talking about moral asp ects? You have no right to reproach me for that! I'm your son after all!" Robert put his elbows on the table, and buried his face in his palms. Mark relented. He came to Noirson. "I'm sorry, dad!" Mark mumbled as he hugged his father. "I won't harm her any mo re, honest! Just, please, forgive me!" "I love you, son!" Robert embraced Mark. And such pain sounded in his voice, tha t the youth felt awfully guilty.

In the "prayer room" Robert looked around and went inside. He glanced at the portrait of his wife, at the stand with the daggers, and slowly walked to the crystal ball on the table in the middle of the room. He made a few motions around the ball and gazed at it. He saw Ann, and his lips trembled.

"I miss you, honey..." He whispered. "How I need you, my tiger-cub! I need you, you silly girl..." Robert saw she was studying, and he smiled with pride. She wr ote, and her roommate next to her showed her something in a book. Suddenly the door of the "prayer room" opened, and Mary Noirson entered. She wen t to the ball, and looked too. "I'm so worried that she'll become a whore like her mother was." Mary shook her head. "What happened between you and Mark?" "It's male business," his face clouded again. "Never mind, my dear." "Males-females..." Mary drawled. She walked to the stand, lifted the glass, and took out a dagger. She swung it as if checking its weight. Then looked at her hu sband. "Why did you think I was going to kill you?" She snorted, and threw the dagger i nto the wall where it buried itself hilt-deep. "Still got it!" She laughed. She stretched out her arm, and the dagger flew back into her hand, like a boomerang or a yo-yo, and the woman put it into its place. She went to her husband, and hugged him. "I'm so sorry about that incident." Mary sighed as she tenderly petted the old s car on his cheek. "You're blocking your thoughts... Great! I have no idea what M ark has done, but I'm really sorry, honey." "Mary!" only now Robert noticed how his wife was depressed and upset, and all hi s tender feelings to her overflowed from his heart. "My dear butterfly! My speci al little girl!" He kissed her. "Forgive me! I love you! I love you, my bunny ra bbit! I love you! I'll do anything to make you happy!" She looked at him with a smile. "You already have!" And she responded to his kiss.

The end of the first semester "Not all Russians are alcoholics!" Gleb barely kept himself under control. They were having a picnic and Ann told him to drink vodka. She was curious about how much he would be able to accept. "Drink, I ordered!" Ann laughed watching how Gleb drank the next glass. To her s urprise the bodyguard started to cry. "Why do you torment me?" He asked hanging his head. "You said you love me!" "Of course I love you, you silly thing" Ann hugged him, took his glass of vodka, and drained it in one gulp. Her bodyguards gasped. She choked, coughed and bare ly took a deep breath. Gleb burst out laughing. "Oh, my dear!" He shook his head. "You shouldn't drink vodka after beer!" "Why not?" She asked arrogantly.

"You'll see, my love!" Gleb gave her a wink, and stretched his hand to the bottl e again. But Jeff took the vodka away. "Give me that fucking bottle!" Gleb shouted angrily, and snatched out his gun. Jeff grabbed the bottle, and without a word hit Gleb on his head. The bodyguard collapsed. Others showed no reaction. Ann was still laughing, everything seemed funny, she had never felt so pleased. She sprang up, and skipping along she ran to the parking lot. Brian and Jeff followed her. Noah stayed. He carefully treated Gleb's wound. Gleb moaned and opened his eyes. "Where is she?" and horror sounded in his voice. "Are you okay?" Noah petted his bloodstained white hair, but Gleb's eyes grew na rrow, and Noah took away his hand, and smiled confusedly. Gleb barely got to his feet and staggered to the parking lot. The sight that he saw made him smile. Ann had climbed up onto someone's car and she was dancing on the top. Brian and an unknown woman tried to induce her to ge t down. Jeff was talking with the indignant owner of that car. A policeman came to them, and sternly shouted at Ann. Instead of answering she s howed him her middle finger. Jeff flung himself at the policeman and started to talk with him. Brian held the irritated owner of the car, and Noah resolutely gr abbed Ann in his arms. She was struggling and swearing. Gleb closed his eyes. He felt dizzy. He knew Noirson would easily help his daugh ter to get away with everything, and his sense of fairness was raging. "Oh, girl!" He thought dreamily. "Your daddy should've taken your pants off and given you a big belting!" But this thought reminded Gleb of his "job", and he th rew up. *** Ann opened her eyes, and became surprised seeing Robert sitting next to her bed. "Honey?" He asked sadly. "Maybe you should come home, eh? I'm worried sick about you!" Ann recalled all events, and she wept. "I'm sorry, dad! I'm so sorry!" She sniffed. "No, I'll stay." "I spent a lot of the Power." Noirson caressed the hair of his daughter. "Your m om was so mad! She's sure you can't live alone and study!" "Yes, I can!" Ann became angry. "It was my first finals week! I passed all exams ! Be sure, at least Bs! I can't wait to show mom my results! Dad, I honestly was studying hard, I had to allow myself some rest, didn't I?" "I believe you, honey, and I believe in you!" Robert smiled. "I know you'll make me proud. Just be a little more careful, okay?" "I will, daddy, promise!" And the Noirsons hugged each other.

The roommates Ann liked her roommate from their first meeting. She was the perfect roommate. T hat girl watched the same TV shows, listened to the same music, and was even a f an of the same baseball team. She cooked and washed dishes, cleaned the house, a nd a naive Ann did not think it was unusual behavior for a roommate. Irene became her friend very easily and followed Ann like a shadow. Irene was so careful, she did not want to intrude on Ann's space, and sometimes Ann did not even notice her presence. Some weekends, when the weather was good, Ann and her bodyguards had picnics, and Ann took Irene as well. *** That May Friday night was great. No clouds were in the deep black sky, and the f antastic light of the full moon flooded the environs. The Son of the Devil, Robert Noirson taught Ann a few magic actions, and now a p layful idea came to Ann to "spice up" the trip. Ann demanded to be taken to the very old, abandoned cemetery. She took her bodyguards, Irene, and one couple fro m the University. Dave, and his girlfriend, Sandra, were spiritualists, and Ann decided to trick them. She notified her bodyguards, and explained her plan to th em. *** At the cemetery they turned on their recorder to maximum loudness. They drank an d talked about contact with dead persons. Moonlit gravestones seemed like doors with waiting guests behind. "You see," Ann moved her hand to show around. "I brought four nice guys, but one of them has no girl. Sandra, wanna have one partner more?" The girl choked on her beer, and gazed at her with amazement. "What are we gonna do?" Ann drawled capriciously. "Guys, a lot of girls are here , under the ground. We can try and call some girl from Beyond, and give her to m y pal. Brian, would it be okay with you?" "It could be fun!" He laughed. "Let's try, eh?" They all sat together side-by-side, made a circle, took hands each other's hands , and Dave and Sandra started to say "magic", as they thought, phrases. Ann exchanged glances with her bodyguards. Suddenly a deep low howl sounded in the distance. Dave and Sandra gasped with tr iumph. Ann barely hid her smile: "Oh, it's started working!" The ground trembled. Nobody moved. The modern music died. Now the tender sounds of invisible flutes poured the cemetery out. The Now ves eir young people sprang up. Light shadows moved in the air. They became denser. it was possible to see beautiful girls, wearing wreathes of ivy, and the lea did not hide their nude bodies. Irene stepped forward. They took her into th circle, and the girl flew into the air with them together.

Dave and Sandra grabbed their beer and started drinking straight from the bottle . They looked around with horror, they hugged each other. Ann laughed. The feeli ng of the Power made her feel more drunk than the alcohol. She embraced Gleb, an d they fell onto some grave. A false grin curved the trembling lips of her bodyguard. He tried not to look as ide. Ann saw he was scared to death. She was surprised. He had gone through Hell , and the girl thought, he was afraid of nothing. But anyway, Gleb did what she wanted from him. She lost herself in his caressing, and she screeched and shudde red with enjoyment.

After Ann opened her eyes. If felt like there was a bomb bursting in her head. The gir l moaned, and crept out of the bed. Keeping her eyes closed, she reached the bathroom, and threw up. She felt a litt le bit better. She heard someone turn on the water, and helped her to get into t he shower. Finally Ann opened her eyes, her headache was almost gone. Irene was next to her . She looked terrible, and Ann could imagine her own face. "We shouldn't get loaded like that." they said at once, or maybe just thought th e same thought. "What time it is?" Ann wheezed. "3:20 a.m." Ann shook her head: "I hope Dave and Sandra will be okay." She went back to the bedroom, took the receiver and made a call. She was waiting for an answer. She started to worry, and pushed Gleb. The youth sat up, and rub bed his head: "What do you want?" He asked roughly. Irene punched him, and he ca me back to his senses. "Oh, Ann, honey! Sorry, I had a bad dream.... What's wrong, dear?" Ann went to the corridor and looked down on the first floor. Hugging each other, Brian and Noah were sleeping on the couch. Jeff was near the entranceway as usu al. Clinging to the banisters, Ann went downstairs and woke her bodyguards. Gleb fol lowed her. He sat down on the carpet and yawned. "Who drove the car?" Ann asked. "Him!" the bodyguards pointed at each other. They exchanged surprised glances. "Not me!" they exclaimed at once. "I was driving." Irene said from upstairs.

"Oh," Ann smiled. "Thanks! Did we drop off Dave and Sandra without trouble?" "'Drop off'?" Irene faltered. "You told me to leave them there, so I did." Ann gasped: "Did I at least send those girls back to Hell?" "I don't know..." Irene became confused. "I barely put you all in the car... I'm sorry..." "They could eat their skin! Or even kill them!" Ann started trembling. "Oh, mom' s gonna be angry! Dad will be upset! Hurry up! Get the car!" *** On the way to the cemetery, Ann recalled that she had sent the girls back, and s he calmed down a little. But she could imagine how Dave and Sandra would feel, a wake in the middle on the night, alone in the abandoned cemetery, without a car, without a phone, fifteen miles away from the closest populated area. *** They were peacefully sleeping straight on an old grave. Her bodyguards carefully put them into the mini-van, and Ann sighed with relief.

The morning Ann went downstairs and walked to the kitchen. She made a few sandwiches and dra nk two cups of coffee. She did not want to wake Irene. Ann was grateful her for the her help the night before. However, it was all that Ann could cook, and now she wished to prepare something more difficult. She took a cookbook and browsed through the pages, but felt bored. She took out some eggs, put them in the microwave oven, and looked at the recipes again. Sudden sounds like gunfire caused her to drop the book. Squealing, she rushed ou t of the kitchen and almost collided with Irene. The girl held a gun, and at fir st a shocked Ann thought it was her roommate who was doing the shooting. Ann's bodyguards were next to her, and Ann came back to her senses. "What happened? Are you okay?" alarmed, they asked with worry. Without a word An n pointed to the kitchen. Holding guns, they slowly walked inside. Ann heard the m whispering to each other. Gleb laughed. "Shut up, you idiot!" Brian roared angrily. "She's our Lady!" "Whom are you calling "idiot"?" an indignant Gleb was unable to restrain himself . "She's of age, but she can't even cook eggs!" "What's going on?" mad, Ann came to them. Gleb snorted, but suddenly Jeff punche d him so strongly that the bodyguard collapsed, and barely got up. Not looking a round, he left the kitchen, and all males followed him. Perplexed, Ann gazed at Irene. Irene sighed: "I'm doing it sometimes, just for f un."

Irene went to the microwave and opened the door. Ann looked inside, and gasped. "What a mess!" She tried to smile, but she wept with vexation for being so stupi d. "Sh-sh-sh!" Irene came close to her and petted Ann's back. She took Ann's shirt out, and continued the massage. Ann felt how her body, trem bling after the stress, starting to calm down and relax. Suddenly Irene kissed Ann's neck under the hair, and slowly moved her face down, keeping her lips pressed to Ann's skin. She reached the small of her back, and kissed Ann again. "Wow!" Ann Noirson was amazed. "It was great!" She glanced at Irene with suspici on. "Are you a lesbian?" Irene lowered her head. "Sorry, Ann. I'll never do it again!" "No!" Ann laughed. "I don't mind! I've just never tried that with a female. But it was a really nice feeling..." However, she recalled the scornful expression o f Gleb, and she felt shame and became angry again. "I want you teach me how to cook!" Ann told peremptorily. "Yes, my Lady!" Irene replied mechanically. She held her tongue at once, and gla nced at Ann with worry. But that light-headed girl noticed nothing wrong, and Ir ene smiled, and picked up the cookbook.

The river This weekend Ann was with her bodyguards, Irene, and one couple from the univers ity, Kimberly and her boyfriend Ryan. They all made themselves comfortable on th e beach at the mouth of the river and started to relax. Remembering the "cemetery incident", Ann's group did not drink too much, however , Kim and Ryan were not so careful. They got drunk, became cheerful, and got wor ked up by Ann and her escorts. Young people laughed, got into the water, and played. The males rushed after fem ales, they touched and gently pinched the girls, from time to time they grabbed them and threw them into the water, and while watching them, Ann guffawed becaus e she knew Brian and Noah were gay and Irene was a lesbian. But it just made the ir game funnier and naively innocent. The girls were squealing and splashing the ir "stalkers". A few times other people on the beach asked them to be more quiet , but the young people did not mind. Thoroughly enjoying the playfulness, Ann asked the thin Kim to climb up on her b ack and she gave her a piggyback ride. Powerful and well-trained, Ann galloped t hrough the water like a horse, and finally swam towards an island bringing Kim o n her back, like Zeus kidnapping Europa. It was too much. The girls were in the middle of the river when a jet boat close d in on them and the lifeguards told them to stop.

Ann did not argue with them. These guys were nice, and she started flirting. Kim followed Ann, and the lifeguards smiled as they helped the girls get inside the boat. They did not go back at once, they had a little ride. A few times they ru shed along the river past the beach, and the girls shouted and waved their hands . Merry and satisfied, the girls finally returned to their friends. "That was so cool!" laughing, Kim fell on the sand. "Eh, Ryan?" She looked aroun d with surprise, and her smile went out. "Where is he?" She asked Ann's escorts. They became confused. They paid all their attention only to their ward and Kim u nderstood that. She gasped, and gazed at the river. "What if he drowned?" Ann did not notice who said that. But it was the common thought. After such game s it was the only possible reason for him to be missing. Ann blanched. Trembling Kim stared at her. All gaiety left the young people at once. "Go to the river!" Ann ordered Jeff. She knew he was not human. "Check the botto m!" Without a word the servant went to the river, and vanished under the water. He was absent for so long that Ann started worrying about him also. Sitting on t he sand, Kim hugged herself, and quietly wept. Suddenly they saw Jeff. He walked to them, and held out Ryan's swimming shorts. "It was clinging to an underwater snag," He said confusedly. "Where is his body?" a shocked Ann asked Jeff. "I didn't find it. Maybe the current dragged it away..." And Kim screamed. She started squealing like crazy. And as if in the fairy-tale about the boy who cried "Wolf!" now nobody on the beach looked at them. They swu ng their arms to the lifeguards, but they misunderstood them, and just waved bac k. Ann grabbed a cell phone, and made a call. And only when the police had arrived did the people around realize that something bad had happened. *** Ann hugged the sobbing Kim, and kept her eyes on the river, watching the lifegua rds and divers search around. "What happened?" It was probably the hundredth time Ann had heard that question. "One guy has drowned." the girls did not look back. "Shit, eh?" the man continued. "What a pity, I missed it! But you know, girls, I lost my pants in that damn river, and I had to hide, and get home. I couldn't c ome here naked, could I?"

Only now the shocked girls turned to him, and gasped seeing it was Ryan. He was alive, safe and sound. Kim fell into hysterics and people ran to them. Ann imagined all the future talk s with police and lifeguards, then she damned everything, and swore to herself n ever to take any outsiders on their weekend "trips" again.

Past and present "This is not her! This is not her!" staring at the charred corpse, Noirson repea ted as if in delirium. The body was burnt beyond recognition, but he saw a ring on her belly. "Francine, my love! No.." He touched the ring on her pierced navel , he recognized it, and he shook his head. "How did it happen?" "She was drunk, and smoking in bed... We're very sorry!" *** In the central building downtown, Noirson went in the elevator, and saw Mary spe aking on her cell phone. "What do you mean?" She asked angrily. "Our engineers gave you all the necessary information! Yes. Of course! Are you to pay for the goods against shipping docu ments?" Robert grinned, and hugged his wife. She frowned, then smiled. She quickly finis hed talking and put her phone into her pocket. The door of the elevator opened a nd the Noirsons went out. "Honey," Robert gave his wife a wink. "It's not your floor! I thought you were g oing to the conference?" "They can wait for me for a while!" Mary tenderly petted her husband's cheek wit h the old scare. "You miss Ann, don't you? I'm feeling guilty, maybe I'm too ste rn with her, eh?" "No, honey," Noirson sighed. "I mean, you're always doing your best. Yes. I miss her badly. But she wants to have her own life, and we have no right to impede." "Mark stayed," Mary retorted. "They are so different!" Robert shook his head. "I've read somewhere that if twi ns are different genders, they could possibly have different fathers." Mary's face clouded. "I'm not surprised," She said coldly. "Wanna joke? A woman gave birth to a child . He was black, with blonde hair and Asian eyes. The doctor said: 'Ma'am! You sh ould've been more careful having group sex!' And the woman replied: 'Thank God, my child does not bark!' Got it?" Robert laughed confusedly. "I'm not the best husband..." He started.

"No, you are the best." smiling, Mary interrupted him. "Oh," Noirson kissed his wife. "I mean, why only Francine hurt you so?" There was a long silence before she finally replied: "You married her. You marri ed her," Her voice sounded with tears, and Mary closed her eyes. "You didn't lov e her, did you? It was just revenge for my escape, eh?" "I love you, my little lamb..." Robert kissed her again. The woman burst out lau ghing. "You smart bastard!" Mary said tenderly as she pushed her husband away. "You kno w, I can't resist it when you say that! Get out, honey, get work! I have busines s to attend to, gotta run!" The Noirsons exchanged smiles and walked in different directions. *** Smirking, Mary strode into the conference hall. Everybody looked at her with res pect and a little fear, and the woman involuntarily recalled her first conferenc e, many years ago... *** When she entered the hall everybody was surprised. They waited for Robert, but M ary resolutely went to his place, and sat at his chair. Everybody stared at her, and she saw the face of Becker contort with anger. "Well?" She pronounced into the deep silence. "Let's start!" "Where is Mr. Noirson?" John asked though clenched teeth. "He's busy." Mary smiled at the challenge. "And he told me to attend this meetin g." The whispering ran over the hall, but Mary did not turn a hair, and the partners gazed at Becker. He was the president of the Corporation, and Robert's tutor. A nd if anyone could show that impudent young thing her place, it was him, John Be cker. "Could you wait for me for a while?" Becker glanced at the Mary and got up. "I'l l be right back." "Sure!" She replied derisively. "But don't be absent for too long. Or we'll star t without you." It was a threat already, and everybody understood that. While John was not here, people quietly talked with each other, falling silent a t once when Mary lifted her eyes from her papers. Soon, Becker came back. Not looking around, he gloomily walked to his place. "Okay, we can start." He mumbled. "Wait a second," Mary Noirson calmly touched her hair, checked her papers, and s he herself ordered the conference to start.

Claude Ann was preparing herself for a lecture. Many students used recorders for listen ing to the lecture at home again. But Ann used a video camera. She chose a place, then prepared the camera and her notebook. Suddenly a guy sat next to her, and Ann quietly groaned with vexation. It was Claude. He was studying in this university too. Many times he had tried t o get to know her closer. In the university everybody thought of him as a most b eautiful and sexy guy, a lot of girls had dreamt about him. However, Ann did not like him and avoided contact with him as much as she could. Now his pal took he r camera, and started to record Claude making posing and hugging Ann. "Go, play your football, and leave me alone." Ann said as politely as she could. "I'm trying to study." "Yes, leave her alone!" cut in another guy sitting on her other side. "I don't need assistance, Ben!" Ann glanced at him. "I can handle it!" She turne d to Claude again: "How many times do I have to repeat? I have a boyfriend!" "You do?" Ben drawled in disappointment. "If you don't understand English, how about French?" Ann did not notice Ben's co mment, and continued addressing Claude: "J'ai un ami. Est-ce que vous comprenez? " "I have a boyfriend. Do you understand?" / French "Vous tes tres belle, mademoiselle!" Claude retorted. "You are so beautiful, miss!" / French "It's even better that you have someone else as well," He took his arm away, but did not leave. "When a girl has fallen for me usually it brings so many trouble s!" He demonstratively sighed, and ran his hand over his hair with effectual mot ion. "Give me my camera!" Ann shouted angrily. The guy looked at Claude. "Did you hear the lady?" Claude gave his pal a wink. "Ann's trying to study. How about this evening? Are you studying all night long?" Suddenly Irene arrived, and tore the camera from the hands of Claude's pal. "Do you know who her parents are?" She hissed with spite. "If you keep it up, yo u'll be in deep shit!" "Oh, look who's talking!" Claude leered at Irene. "Such a dull person, as you ar e, could not understand true love!" He pronounced passionately, and Ann laughed. "No, Claude," She said through giggling. "You should act in plays!" She checked her camera. "Darn! You wasted a half of my tape!" "Your parents, eh?" He snorted. "Mine are not paupers either! I can buy you a ne

w one. Do you want me to bring it to you this evening?" "I'd be glad," Ann replied mechanically, she saw a professor coming into the hal l. Claude smirked and left, and his pals followed him. *** Ann and Gleb were playing in bed when somebody threw a small rock into the windo w. "Never mind!" Ann said, but the next rock flew through the opened half of the wi ndow and knocked her on the head. Mad, she leapt to the window, and burst out curses, but she stopped at once. She saw Claude and only now she recalled today's talk with him. He was standing there, looking up at her, and on his lips was an amazed and surp rised smile. "I brought a videotape!" He showed her a box with a bow. "I promised, so I did!" Ann saw his pals hiding behind some bushes, she heard them whistle with admirati on and whispering to each other. Suddenly Ann realized, she was naked, and the streetlights only emphasized that. She blushed, but a new idea came to her. She made an effectual pose. "Romeo, Romeo," She drawled. "Wanna see more, Romeo?" Claude giggled. "Climb up here!" She told him. Claude glanced at his pals and took her challenge . He clutched the videotape with his teeth, neared the wall, and started to clim b up. Even though it was not an easy task, he was well trained and finally got to the room. Claude heard his pals applauding, and he smiled smugly. He saw Ann go deep er into the room, and he put the videotape on the windowsill, then walked in, fo llowing her. Suddenly Claude saw a white shadow, and at first he thought it was a statue, pro bably made with marble. It was Apollo, or David or something like that... But Cl aude had no time to think that thought to the end. It moved. Gasping, Claude realized it was a young, totally naked athlete. He was tall, and his hair was almost white. Ann came close to that "statue" and turned to Claude . "Have you ever read, Claude," She smiled. "Many women dream about having two men at once?" Grinning, he nodded, and leered at her. That powerful girl certainly could handl e even more than two guys, and hope revived his heart. "Do you know why?" She continued. "One man is cooking, while another is cleaning the house!" She burst out laughing. "Nice joke!" disappointed, Claude sighed. "Sorry, that I disturbed you." He wanted to go outside, however, two hefty youths walked out from somewhere, an

d blocked the door. Getting worried, but still keeping his smile, Claude stepped back to the window, and immediately noticed another guy blocking that way also. "Look," Claude started trembling. "I didn't do anything! I just asked! I asked n icely... Please, guys, just let me go, okay? I'll never come close to Ann, I swe ar!" "Did you understand, what I said?" the girl asked with a threat in her voice. "O ne man is cooking. And Gleb brought a pizza. Another is cleaning the house." Claude saw Irene. She held out a toothbrush. "Go, and clean the steps!" Ann ordered. Claude glanced around with astonishment. These guys looked very resolute, and he did not want to be beaten. Besides, he got here through the window. They could report this to the police, and he could have trouble. But he still hesitated. Suddenly the blond stepped into the light, and Claude gasped. This guy calmly to ok a gun, and started to screw a muffler on the gun barrel. Livid, Claude grabbe d the toothbrush. *** Clenching his teeth, he was rubbing the steps. One of these guys guarded the hou se door. Upstairs, Irene held Claude at the point of the gun. She was smiling, a nd Claude saw she simply desired to send a bullet through his head. He felt like he was in a bad dream. "They are all crazy! It's just a madhouse!" scared to death, Claude watched Ann and Gleb making love in front of him. Downstairs the two young men were kissing and caressing each other. And the thought they could wish to force him, Claude, to "join" them, horrified the youth. Finally he finished the job, and timidly looked at Ann. He was ready to do anyth ing, just to leave that place alive. "It's midnight already!" She yawned. "The usual time to take the masks off. Yes, buddy, you can go." Irene took her gun away, and Claude sighed with relief. He quickly went to the e xit. The guy near the door smiled, and made a motion like pulling a mask off. And now Claude screeched. Until that evening he did not believe in Hell, but suc h a creature could come only from that place. The monster opened his fire-spitti ng mouth and licked his bloody lips with an awfully long, thin, snakelike tongue . Uttering shrill screams, swinging his arms like a madman, Claude ran away. *** He did not lose his mind, he did not tell any one about that episode, but he nev er went back to the university, and his parents came here to take his belongings , because even the name of the town caused Claude to fall into hysterics.

Mary and Anhella Mary Noirson and Anhella Vixen, her husband's personal secretary, discussed the delivery of the new equipment. During the years of their common work they became real friends. They both loved Robert selflessly and were spending their lives i n his interests, and both of them learned to suppress their jealousy. The helper gave Mary a paper. She read it, sighed and passed it to Vixen. It was a report from Jeff about the "cemetery incident", and Mary shook her head: "How many times have I asked Robert not to teach Ann those tricks!" "Everybody studied some tricks," Anhella shrugged her shoulders. "I don't know e ven one person who worked with us and learned nothing!" "But she's stupid!" Mary pounded the desk. "Sometimes it's mortally dangerous!" Vixen lowered her eyes, and Mary felt how the secretary had blocked her mind. "Anhella," Mary stared at her. "Don't do that!" "Don't do what?" Vixen smiled. "How is Miss Belanger? Is she helping your son?" "Knock it off!" Mary felt vexation. "Don't try to fight or hurt me again! We're in one boat! Don't try to overturn it!" "It's not about you," Anhella looked right into her eyes. "Then all the more!" Mary took the hand of the secretary. "We can kill her, but what's the point? I bet, less than a month later my hubby would find another gir l! I gave up, honey. He appreciates us, and that's enough. Let him have some fun ." "We don't date any more!" suddenly Vixen cried out and wept. Mary gasped, and hu gged her ex-rival with sincere compassion. Sobbing hysterically, Anhella talked as if in delirium, she recalled her relatio nship with Robert, but Mary almost did not listen. Worry seized the woman. For t he first time she thought, maybe her husband's feelings for that Philippine girl were stronger than she expected. "Okay, buddy!" finally Mary interrupted Vixen. "We can have fun too!" She made a magic motion, and the females disappeared. *** Although it was not the first time Anhella was taken on a magic trip, all the sa me, it impressed her. Now she discovered herself on the beach of the some tropical island. It was an evening here, twilight, and the wind from the ocean brought freshness. Vixen was totally naked, but did not feel shame even seeing a crowd of natives walking towards her. Gaily dressed people played their native instruments, and g reeted Vixen with whoops of delight. They decorated Anhella with garlands of flo wers, put her into the beautiful palanquin, and danced and sang as they carried her deeper into the island.

In the middle of the big glade on the bank of the lagoon a huge bonfire was blaz ing. On one edge of the glade Vixen saw a dais with a royal throne on the top. A lso wearing only flowers, but with a crown on her head, Mary Noirson was solemnl y sitting there, surrounded by kneeling natives. She was not just a queen for th ose people; she was a goddess. On another edge of the glade a smaller dais was prepared for Anhella, and the na tives helped her there. *** Vixen was drinking cocktails, and watching the play that the natives showed thei r Queen and her guest. Anhella's depression and sadness melted little by little, and when the fireworks sparkled in the night sky she was able to smile with enj oyment. Vixen was thankful to her Lady, but her hatred for that Asian young thing who ha d stolen her lover became even stronger, and beneath the bright tropical stars A nhella swore to avenge herself and Mary.

Jeff and Gleb Whistling and humming, Gleb brought the shopping bags into the kitchen, and sort ed the purchases. He checked his watch, and he smiled. Lazily, he walked to the anteroom, and fell onto the couch. Suddenly he felt the Contact. He gasped, and sprang up. Jeff stared at him. He h ad read Gleb's mind, and the young man felt despair. "I have to report to the Masters about this." Jeff said calmly. Gleb lowered his eyes. He silently sat down on the couch, and lit a cigarette. "But it doesn't mean I'm going to do it right now." Jeff continued, and a surpri sed Gleb gazed at him with hope. "Miss Noirson can't read your thoughts, and until you're doing your job well, I' ll cover you." "You're risking, pal." Gleb mumbled. "Why?" "I'm male." Jeff pronounced with compassion. "I can understand you. Just remembe r your status. I have a bad feeling about you, buddy! I'm afraid you'll fall wit h her..." He grinned. "I mean you can fall in Hell. But together, eh?" Gleb did not reply, terror glinted into his eyes, and he hastily inhaled. Jeff s hook his head, and went away. Gleb heard the sound of the oncoming car, and he sighed. He made a smile, looked at the mirror, and made another one. "That's better," He whispered to himself and, keeping this smile, he stepped for ward as Ann entered.

Two Gleb watched his girlfriend with worry. "Ann, dear," He said finally. "Is it necessary to drink coffee when you're on to p of me?" "Aren't you afraid that I'll splash my hot coffee and burn your beautiful face?" the girl laughed. "You're a servant of my father! I know, how you've been train ed!" "Honey," Gleb smiled coldly. "Yes, I'm a soldier. I'm capable to stand under mol ten lead without even moaning. But it doesn't mean I like or wanna have that hap pen." "Okay, okay!" Ann put the cup on the bedside table. "Scaredy cat!" And the bed b egan to creak with her powerful motions. *** Ann finally fell asleep, and Gleb sighed with relief, and closed his eyes. *** He had just finished his shopping, unloaded his shopping cart, and slammed the t runk. A black girl quickly passed him. Her sliding, light walk impressed the young man . She looked like a running antelope. With every step, her lithe body slightly c urved like a reed with wind. It seemed as if that girl did not walk on the groun d, but was flying in the air. He followed her with his eyes, sighed, and got into his car. He turned the car, and saw her again. She was making some strange motions, and a t first he did not understand what was going on. Suddenly he guessed, and giggle d. Her underpants were sliding down, and she unsuccessfully tried to hold them by s tealth. The bright white they flashed on her dark brown slender legs was like a shooting star drawing a line on the night sky. She hastily stepped out of them, glanced around, and saw Gleb staring at her. The girl jumped in her car, and drove away so quickly that tires screeched. Gleb laughed. He moved his car closer, reached out and picked up the underpants. He had a long look at them. The tiny rose on the front made him smile dreamily. He slowly lifted them and smelled it. His smile died. He felt the blood rush to his head. The tender mixed aroma of la vender and her body made him like a drunk. He was shaken. He tossed his head, an d gazed at her car. It was stopped at the red light. Gleb hesitated. He was a slave, he had gone through Hell, and to forget such an event was impossible. He hesitated. But the light changed to green, her car move

d, and Gleb resolutely hit the gas pedal. He followed her, and from time to time he pressed the underpants to his face, and that fantastically wonderful smell c aused him forget everything. Gleb noted the building where she parked, however, he did not stop. He did not w ant to scare her. He checked his watch, and drove to the closest shop.

Martha Martha heard someone knock at her door. She opened it, stepped back and gasped. It was a white guy. White. White. Very white. Dazzlingly white. She could not ev en imagine before, that it possible to be so white. White hair. White T-shirt. W hite jeans. She thought it was an angel. He held out a beautiful corsage of roses. He said something, but with such a str ange accent that the shocked girl did not understand a word. He realized that, sighed, and repeated slowly, carefully pronouncing every sound : "You lost this near the shop." Perplexed, Martha looked inside the bouquet and became confused, seeing her unde rpants tied with a cute pink ribbon. "You lost this," He repeated passionately. "I found them, but I lost my heart." Martha stared at him. "It's just a dream," She thought. "I have to wake up right now." He took her hand, and kissed it. "My name is Gleb," He smiled. "What is your name, Beautiful Lady?" "Martha..." She mumbled as she took the flowers. "Would you come inside?"

The lunch "Guys!" Gleb called his colleagues. They all placed themselves in different corn ers of the kitchen, and Gleb realized that with some surprise. "We are pals, are n't we? Why do we never eat on the common table together?" "Wanna join us?" Grinning, Brian leered at Gleb and gave him a wink. Gleb blushe d. "Sorry, buddy," Jeff smiled to his partner. "I'm just tired of eating while bein g surrounded by a crowd in the servant's cafeterias and bars." "I'll be glad to eat with you all," Irene did not look at them. "If I knew it wo uld be the last meal in your pointless male life." "Oh-oh! You female!" Gleb grinned. "Today you spent all day at home. Why don't y ou cook something for all of us?"

"Your balls for example, eh?" Irene stared at him. "Go to Hell, you oaf! Hire a servant!" Gleb closed his eyes. He hated cooking. While he was living with his mother she cooked and the young man could not forget all those delicious dishes that she pr epared. Suddenly he smelled smoke and cursed seeing his steak burnt. He heard the laughi ng, and silently dumped his meal. "Want me to cook a stew for you?" Noah got up, but Brian's face went dark with j ealous anger, and Noah lowered his eyes and sat down again. "Jeff," Gleb asked hesitantly. "Can I go... to a restaurant, eh?" The leader gazed at him, then looked at his watch. "At three you have to be home or in Hell." He answered very quietly. *** They hugged each other. He pressed his face against her coarse ringlets: "Honey, how I miss you!" She laughed feeling happy. He knew she did not expect to see him today, but in l ess than fifteen minutes the lunch was ready, and he was greedily eating the chi cken soup, enjoying the kind of meal that he loved most. He was Russian, and he used to have soup at lunch, and knowing this Martha watched him with a smile. Sh e knew the Truth already, and she dearly valued every minute, which she could be with him. Gleb finished his meal, and stretched his limbs. "Thank you, my black gazelle!" He smiled, and Martha flung herself to him, and s ank into his arms.

The bird "You are my March flower," smiling gratefully, Gleb kissed her plump lips. "You are my cherry-berry, you..." He stopped short. He saw a whippoorwill on the windowsill. The bird stared at them, and Gleb felt his hair stand on end. He gasped and spra ng up. Wondering, Martha looked at him, then at the bird. The whippoorwill uttered its sad cry, and Gleb fell on his knees. He stretched h is arms to the bird. "Please!" He begged with despair in his voice. "I am doing my job well! She is h appy, I'm making her satisfied all the time!" "Gleb!" Martha sat up, and asked with concern. "Are you okay? It's just a bird!"

He glanced at her, and in his eyes she saw such horror that the girl started tre mbling as well. The whippoorwill fell outside, and flew away. Gleb slowly got up, went to the be d, sat next Martha, and buried his face into his palms. "This is the end..." He mumbled. "It's just a bird..." She repeated. Gleb nervously laughed. "Sure it is! Have you ever heard this legend: when a sinner is dying, whippoorwi lls accompany his soul to Hell?" He moaned, and continued tiredly and softly. "I t's a night bird, honey. At day it should sleep. I told you, who my Masters are, they often use some animals for espionage." She looked at the clock. "What time do you have to be home?" "3:00 p.m." "Okay," She hugged him. "We have about twenty minutes. Let's not waste them..." "Honey, you're crazy!" Gleb laughed as he gently brought her down on the bed. "W e're both gonna have a "ride to Hell", but you sound happy!" "I am crazy," She closed her eyes. "I'm crazy about you, my beloved ghost. And t his is why I'm happy..." *** Ann woke up and gazed at her boyfriend standing near the window. He looked outsi de. He was propping himself on the windowsill with one hand, and he clung to the frame with the other hand. His figure showed depression and despair, and this a mazed Ann. "What's wrong, sweetie?" Her voice gave him a start. "Nothing... I'm okay," He squeezed out. "Just a little tired." She laughed and stretched her limbs: "Come here, honey!" He did not reply. His shoulders trembled as if he cried or shuddered, but Ann ha d already fallen asleep again and did not notice that.

Chapter Ten: Bats and viruses The philter She studied the Bible. And she clearly remembered: 'Do not listen to your practi tioners of magic.' However, she loved her boyfriend selflessly. She even asked h im to marry her, but all times he made out that he was joking. "Just one spoon!" the magician said with a smile. "And he will do whatever you w ant! He will be your mate forever!" ***

She brought the philtre home, and added that to the soup. Her boyfriend started eating it, and the girl felt unlimited terror for a second. "What's the matter?" He got surprised. "Is something wrong?" She squeezed out a laugh. And he finished the soup. He got up and went to the window. Suddenly the girl saw his legs become shorter, and shorter. "What the heck...?" He started. His voice broke to a squeak. The girl screeched with horror: a bat was writhing on the floor instead of her boyfriend. Sobbing h ysterically, she put it into a box, and rushed to the magician. *** Bill Hamelin gave him money, took the cage and looked inside. Two small bats sta red at Bill with despair. "Don't worry, guys!" He laughed. "I started to practice in the Middle Ages! You' re not the first! And you won't be the last! Be good, guys! You'll be people aga in. For a while... One fulfilled order and you'll have twenty-four hours to be h umans. You can save up those hours, and have something like a vacation. Or you c an just use that for some fun!" And he put them into the common cage with the ot hers.

Diana How many ways she tried to lose weight! These pills were her last hope. And they really had worked on her friend Liana, she lost ten pounds. Oh, God! Diana need to lose 30 pounds at least, and she dreamed about fifty. "They are illegal," Liana warned. "My boyfriend's sister got them from her lover . Where he got them he didn't say. It's some culture of viruses. They'll totally change you. But if you eat even a bit of any high protein food, during next two months, you're gonna die. Remember that!" *** She honestly tried! But Diana had to stay with a class after school for a few ho urs longer, and the teacher ordered pizzas. Diana took away all cheese and pepperoni, however, she felt awfully hungry. The smells of roasted sausage and melted mozzarella made her crazy. She bit off a ti ny piece of pepperoni and swallowed it. Nothing happened, and that wonderful spi cy taste caused Diana to forget about prudence. She ate the entire portion. Feeling happy and satisfied, Diana continued her work. But suddenly like a bomb burst in her belly, the girl fell into an abyss of suffering. *** Diana came back from a coma three years later. The doctors ablated her stomach a nd almost all intestines. Her mother died with a heart attack after two years of hopeless waiting. And when the girl got all this information, she wished death

upon herself. *** She had a strange dream. Someone invisible showed her the body of a beautiful sl ender girl. "She committed a big mistake." the voice explained. "She has been caught and pun ished. She was a stripper. You can have her body and her job. Do you want it? Bu t your soul will belong to us, and if you're not an obedient girl, you'll get th e same punishment, as she had." Diana woke up. "Just a dream." She whispered. "A wonderful sweet dream." "It was no dream." She heard and saw a young man with a gloomy face. "That's an offer! Your friend gave you my pills. But now I have a much safer variation... A h, it's no matter! Would you agree to our offer?" Of course she did! And now Diana was a star among Noirson's servants, and tried to not recall the p ast.

The new life When her new life had started, Diana felt an awful emptiness. There had been a l ot of training, and the job was more difficult than she thought it would be in t he beginning. However, her free days were even worse. She tried to make friends, but it was ve ry difficult with Noirson's servants. Murderers and rapists, soldiers and gangst ers, suicides and assassins, prostitutes and thieves, alcoholics and drug addict s they all hated and despised each other, and were ready to fight to the death a ny other person to become closer to their Masters. Swearing, fights, and acts of provocation were usual, and having been new, Diana twice barely avoided a "ride to Hell". Now she was more careful, and trusted no one any more. Sometimes she felt sorry that she agreed to the Offer. There was only one way to freedom. Noirson could not resuscitate a person who had been burnt to death. Bu t that way was too horrifying, and Diana tried not to think about that, even aft er she had been given a very severe lesson. *** She was not a prostitute. No servant could force her to have sex, she was under her Master's protection, as were all others who belonged to the Noirsons. Howeve r, there was a list of persons, who could use her whenever they liked. In the beginning she refused one man k, and after a few hours of dancing, saying a word, and immediately five brutally raped and then beat her up. issive as a lamb. from that list. She had just started to wor she was awfully tired. The man left without security guards entered. They all together And when the man went back, she was as subm

After his visit the butler Roger Slay came inside. Diana stared at him with horr or. He was not on her list, but she was so scared and crushed, she would dare no t refuse him. He looked at her and laughed. Roger Slay was not human, and he cou ld read her thoughts. "Good girl!" He said derisively. "Don't worry, you can rest now. I just have to warn you. One such action of disobedience, and your list will be enlarged. Do yo u want that?" The girl shook her head, and the smiling butler left the room. Diana hugged herself and burst into tears. "Mommy..." She was choking with sobs. "Oh, mom... Mommieeeeeee..."

Philip and Jonathan So, you think pirates do not exist anymore? Hah! Brothers Morelands, Philip and Jonathan were leaders of the group controlling this zone in the Yellow Sea. They had a successful business, but their own greediness ruined it. The informers warned them not to even try to attack Noirson's cargo ships. And i n the beginning the brothers followed this advice. Yet the temptation was too st rong, and finally they made the attempt. It was a small transport, but when More lands got the information about the value of the cargo on the merchant ship, the y lost all their care. *** They were so sure of the future success! That night their vessels surrounded Noi rson's transport and boarded it. Everything began as usual, but when they got on the ship something strange started going on. The sailors ignored their threats. They went towards the attackers not turning a hair. The brothers understood that the "peaceful" way was impossible, and they and their people opened fire. What happened next stopped them immediately. The sailors did not fall, or scream. It seemed as if they did not hear the shoot ing at all. They were still moving at the attackers, however, the appearances of the sailors changed at once. Their uniforms turned into old-fashioned clothes a nd redingotes. Beards and mustaches appeared on their clean shaven faces, and he ad-scarves and cocked hats cropped up on their heads. It was buccaneers somehow coming from the past. But the guns that they calmly took out were modern. Panic struck Moreland's people. They rushed in all directions. Some jumped into the water, and the sailors shot them without saying a word. Others fell to their knees lifting their hands and dropping guns. The buccaneers tied them up. They tore machine-guns from the hands of the confused Philip and Jonathan, and knocke d them down. ***

When they regained consciousness again, they found themselves on some small isla nd. Damn! It was the smallest island ever. About a hundred yards wide, and only twice as long. Only sand covered it, sand and rocks, not a blade of grass. "They marooned us." Philip gazed at his brother. They were twins, but Jonathan w as always the leader. "How did it happen? What was that?" Jonathan only shook his head. He looked at the island, the sea, then at his brot her. "We're doomed," He sighed. "Let's pray to Saint Mary to send us a death as soon as possible." They were both Catholics, so they knelt and crossed themselves. *** It was their third day here. Their skin was burnt, and thirst became intolerable . But the brothers were calmly lying side-by-side and talking, recalling the pas t. Suddenly Philip sat up and smiled. "Congratulate me!" He giggled. "I've had my first hallucination. And of course i t's a naked blonde girl!" Jonathan rose also. "Do you mean her?" He pointed to the sea. "Do you see her too?" Philip became surprised. They both stared at the golden wh ite figure moving towards them. Of course, it was an apparition. This female with long hair went straight over t he surface of the water. She just walked, graciously jumping over small waves, a nd climbing up onto higher. Finally she simply stood up on the biggest one, and the wave carried her onto the coast. She neared the amazed men, picked up a rock, about the size of a soccer-ball, br oke it into two halves, and held it out to the brothers. It was hollow and full of fresh water. Without a word the men took it, and drunk a few gulps. Then they looked at her a gain. "Are you an angel?" Jonathan asked. "Yes, I am." She calmly replied. "Did Saint Mary send you?" "Yes," She confirmed. "The original Maria could not take care of sinners like yo u, however, no prayer goes without a response. I'm just a clone of Our Lady. And She gave me this honor to act sometimes as a plenipotentiary of Her." The men knelt. They believed every word. They looked at Mary with sincere awe. "Would you like to agree to my offer?" She continued. "Will you be my personal b odyguards?"

The brother gasped. Enraptured, they could not reply, just bent forward and sile ntly kissed the sand in front of her feet.

Fish ...Mark came back home after the boating, and he found out that the vial with a culture of viruses that Bill Hamelin was working with, was gone. The youth thoug ht he lost it in the lake when the boat had been overturned because of Ann and h e fell into the water. But the vial was corked up securely, and Mark did not tel l anyone about this loss. *** The water in the lake was cold. Only she dared to swim. Her boyfriend Edward sta yed sitting on the beach and watched her with a smile. Suddenly something like a needle pricked her left foot. Surprised, she wanted to check what had happened, but she sensed pain again and again, and she felt like dozens of nails were piercing her entire body. The girl screeched with horror. "What the hell..." The cameraman looked to where the sound came from. "Camera!" Valerie Conrad, the reporter, realized she had found her luck. "Arthur , dear, do it!" Arthur Delmart was a professional. He had already prepared his camera, and now h e was recording the girl writhing in agony in the lake. Edward sprang up. He rushed to his girlfriend. Fortunately, she was not far away . He reached her and gasped seeing a lot of blood around her wriggling body. Something pricked his arm. He looked and was shocked. It was just a small, very small fish. A lot of them inhabit most lakes and rivers. He saw other fish. And they started to bite him too. And he screamed and grabbed his girlfriend, and dr agged her to the shore. The pain was awful, and how he got to the beach and fell onto the sand, Edward did not even remember. "...We don't yet know what had happened here," the excited voice of the reporter sounded above him. "Please, follow our reports..." It was the last that he hear d.

Together Deep in his thoughts, Robert walked along the corridor, and met his wife. Jonath an and Philip were slightly behind her. They looked at Noirson, as at all other people, with suspicion, and Robert knew these ex-pirates would not hesitate to k ill even him, if Mary wished it. She was speaking on her cell phone, but she saw her husband, and finished talkin g.

"Are you going to the press conference?" She asked him with concern. Noirson nodded. "Good luck, buddy!" She hugged him. "I ordered an arrangement with the local bra nch of Greenpeace, and now I'm going to attend this engagement. It will also be shown on TV! "Greens" don't take money from corporations, so I found and convinc ed a few people, who will pretend to make these contributions. We will be shown only as organizers and sponsors of this ecological program and investigation." "Oh, honey!" Robert kissed his wife. "Don't worry! I'm taking Bill Hamelin with me. They have no proof and, be sure, they will not get any! But how did they tra ck us?" "The current," Mary sighed. "Well, they can make any tests! Our sewage is compli ant with all government regulations." "You are my best helper ever!" He kissed his wife one more time and they togethe r went to the exit and the former pirates followed them. *** After the press conference, they got into the car. Noirson kept silent for a whi le, and Bill Hamelin stared at him with concern. "Okay," Robert started. "We've fended them off. But I don't want to take any ris k! First of all, destroy that stupid girl in the hospital. And second, dear Bill , could you explain, how your damn viruses got into these damn fish?" "Mr. Noirson, sir," Hamelin mumbled with effort. "They are not stable, they will be gone in a couple of days. But I'll check all staff, I promise." "You know, Bill," Robert did not look at him. "You're lucky that Mark values you so. Anyone else would get a "ride to Hell" for such a mistake. And I don't want to wait 'a few days'! The samples should be taken away immediately! Is that cle ar?" Suddenly the news report on the TV took his attention. "...Noirson's industries, like an octopus, enmesh the whole world. That awful tr agedy has to wake our sleepy minds. Our kids could be in grave danger while goin g to the beach, to the lake or anywhere else. It's happened once before, will we make the same mistake again? Well, let's be objective. The investigation should discover who is responsible for that incident. Maybe the sewerage from Ethier's plant caused it! Who knows? Til next time! I'm Valerie Conrad, good night! If i t's at all possible." "And kill that fucking bitch!" Robert shouted angrily and pointed at the TV scre en. "Damn vultures! During my life I've wasted much more of the Power on fightin g reporters than on any other process!" "Yes, Mr. Noirson!" scared to death, Hamelin replied at once. Robert changed the channel and found the engagement that his wife was attending. He watched with amazement and delight. Finally, Noirson burst out laughing. "Study, Bill," He addressed Hamelin. "How we should work!" Robert shook his head . "I swear, even I believed we bore no responsibility for that incident! Oh, Mar

y..." Noirson leaned back, and, still watching, he went into memories about her... *** He needed fresh air, and he slid out of the bed. Robert went to the window, and opened it wide. The cold night wind from the lake burst into the room and cooled down his flushed body a little. And he quietly laughed, feeling so young and ha ppy. He looked at his fiance. Moonlit, Mary was sleeping, curled like a kitten. And No irson suffered between a wish to be with her again, and to give her rest. Mary stretched her limbs, and smiled at him. Robert slowly walked back, and sat next to her. He took her hand, and petted it. Noirson simply burnt with the desire, but it was their first night together, an d he did not want give her the wrong impression. Mary understood his feelings, and grinning, she pulled her fianc closer. He knew she had watched some porn movies to be ready, and her careful touches made him s mile. He explored her body, prompted to her the caressing that he loved, and found tha t Mary was a very obedient and gifted pupil. *** Noirson poured a glass of wine, sat more comfortably, and keeping his eyes on th e screen of the TV, browsed through his memories. *** Her face winced, and she kept silent for a while, checking this new feeling. "It didn't hurt as I expected," Mary said uncertainly, then looked at him with c oncern. "You're a gymnast," Robert smiled. "I'm surprised that you even felt something." Mary's face went red, and Noirson understood why. Pity for his fiance squeezed Ro bert's heart. "Don't worry, honey," He voiced as tenderly as he could. "I know, I'm your first ." "You are my only!" She hugged him and closed her eyes. *** 'Only', eh? Noirson shook his head, and sighed, recalling how he was watching th e "live show" that his wiffie and her bodyguard Jerry made in the gym. While he was observing them Robert felt as if he was dying, he was so shocked, and he sum moned his Father to exact revenge. However, when Mary came back home after the tragedy, and he saw her, after she'd gone through her personal Hell, Noirson thought his Father had overdone it, whe n He made that guy kill Mary's child in front of her.

The bat It was 2:46 a.m. Ronald Bennett, the police officer, was sitting on the chair ne xt to the door of the ward. That girl was an important witness, so she was under police protection. A deep stillness descended on the hospital. Ronald was drowsy, and barely stayed in control. Suddenly the alarm sounded in the corridor. "Code Blue, Code Blue, Room two zero five Stat!" Bennett heard. He sprang up and grabbed his gun. He saw running sta ff and rushed after them into the ward. They unsuccessfully tried to revive the girl. "What happened here?" the doctor whispered to the assistant. "She was stable whe n I left. What do you mean her lines were disconnected?" They glanced at Ronald with suspicion. "Nobody came inside!" shocked, Bennett mumbled and looked around the ward. And he saw it. A small bat flew around the air vent. He shot, and everybody scre amed with fear. The animal pushed itself into the vent. Ronald shot again, but i t was too late, the bat was gone. "Are you crazy or what?" the mad doctor shouted at the policeman. "What, have yo u cracked?" "Is a bat able to disconnected her?" Bennett asked instead. The doctor looked at his assistant covering the face of the dead girl, then star ed at Ronald with amazement. "Are you serious?" the doctor shrugged his shoulders. "Do you want to say a bat did it?" He laughed. "Why don't you say a vampire? It would sound more dramatic! " *** His chief repeated the phrases word-by-word. "Am I fired?" Bennett asked dismally. "Sure you are!" the chief sighed and added with an official voice. "And don't le ave the city." *** Gloomy, he packed his stuff. His ex-colleagues glanced at him from time to time, and he felt vexation. Ronald understood, nobody would believe him, but he did n ot have a good imagination, and he was not able to make up something more realis tic to explain what had happened. Suddenly some young black man came next to his desk. "Ronald Bennett?" He asked.

Ronald nodded, and the man a professional. He grabbed anger at the point of their to the next room and closed

snatched out a gun. It was a stupid act. Bennett was the gun at once, and his ex-colleagues took that str guns. But an idea came to Ronald. He pushed the man the door behind them.

"Who are you?" Bennett asked. The man looked at him with hate. "Murderer," He frowned. "You corrupt murderer!" Ronald snorted: "I wish I was!" The stranger stared at him. "You're an idiot! I've been framed!" Bennett shook his head, and continued sadly : "Honest." Suddenly the attacker wept, and Ronald noticed that guy was very young. He was a bout eighteen, maybe twenty, not older, and Bennett felt pity.

In the zoo As a good, submissive servant, Diana had two days each week to spend however she wanted. When she was fat, and thinking that she was ugly, Diana and her mother spent almost all their free time together. Her mother was not married, she was j ust sixteen when she gave birth to Diana. And they were the best of friends to e ach other. They went to movies, and visited nationals parks and zoos, because th ey both loved animals, but had no opportunity to have them. Now she was here alone. Slowly, Diana walked past the cages. Men followed her wi th their eyes, however, the girl took no notice of it. She missed her mother awf ully. She quietly whispered, talking to herself, and tried to imagine she was wi th her mother again. *** That girl followed him all day long. She was not a professional tracker, and Ron ald Bennett noticed her first thing in the morning. But the former policeman did not mind. His conscience was clear, and all that he wanted was to clean up his name and get back the job that he loved. He went to the zoo, found a pavilion with bats, and had a long talk with the guy who was taking care of them. Now Ronald Bennett was taken aback. He never imagined how many kinds of bats exi sted. The "bat-guy" loved his wards and told Ronald a lot of facts, and totally confused Bennett. Glum, he stood by the cage and looked at the bats. A tall, slender girl was next to him. It was another girl, not his tracker. She leered at him with interest. "You know," She started shyly. "If you handle a bat, you should take it with its head down. Because it's the natural position for bats." "Thanks," Ronald sighed. "Very important fact! Do you know, a bat is able to tea r a tube out of a trachea?"

"Yeah, or to drop a plate with a culture, eh?" a high male voice sounded. Bennett and the girl turned back. Two middle-aged men of stood near them. They l ooked very different. One tubby man had short black, thick hair. Another, blond, was going bald. He was tall and very thin. "Anyway, bats can't type!" the fat one shouted with bass. "If you don't believe me," his pal smiled. "Why should I believe you? Your story is more amazing!" "Wait!" Ronald stopped them. "Look guys, it's very serious! Would you come with me? We've gotta talk!" "Can I come too?" Diana's lips trembled, she asked it suddenly even for herself. All the men stared at her, and she became confused. "Go to a some bar," Bennett replied sternly. "We have business to attend to, no time for whores now." She gasped. Diana forgot about her new appearance. "Why not?" the tubby man leered at her, and grinned. "It depends on the price." Diana kept silent. Suddenly another girl came closer to them. It was the girl wh o followed Bennett. "Males!" She snorted. "Why did you offend her? Maybe she's just a dancer, or som ething." "Something, for sure," the ex-policeman frowned. "I've seen too many girls like her! Look, I'm a professional! I can recognize an occupation!" He addressed the new girl: "You're a reporter, aren't you?" "Yes," She smiled. "You two," He turned toward the men. "You're some scientists, correct?" They slightly bowed. Everybody looked at Diana, and she wept. "Okay," Bennett shrugged his shoulders. "No matter! Here is my address. Let's go . I think, we should get to know each other." "I'm with a cameraman," the reporter warned. Ronald sighed, and waved his hand.

Cooperation They were sitting around the table in the living room of Bennett's apartment. "My name is Edward Fogel," the black youth started. "I lost my girlfriend." He s topped for a second. "The fish injured her," He said with pain in his voice. "An d she died in the hospital." "I had a task to protect her," Ronald continued resolutely. "And I honestly trie

d to do that! A bat disconnected her. I know, it sounds stupid..." "No, it's not!" the fat man retorted. "I'm Fred Mannochio. Alex and I ," He poin ted to his blond friend. "Alex Darcheson is his name, we worked with these fish! Yes, they were normal. But in their intestines we found very some interesting v iruses! These fish almost had no fat in their bodies. Sure, they were awfully hu ngry! Probably that provoked such unusual behavior." "Viruses?" Diana gasped. "In the intestines? Four years ago..." She stopped at o nce. She came back to her senses. She did not want to have a "ride to Hell". "Of course, if Noirson's plant polluted the water!" the reporter shouted angrily . "But they got away with everything! Sorry, I'm Valerie Conrad. This is my frie nd and helper Arthur Delmart. So, what about the bat?" "I saw a bat in the lab." Fred sighed. "And someone erased the program and all i nformation about these viruses, and even about the fish." They were still talking and only Diana kept silent. She knew more about the subj ect than all of them did. But they could not even imagine, against who they trie d to fight. She decided to wait until the talk finished and just go back home. Diana recalled the people she had to contact. That life was definitely not for h er, and the girl felt unlimited despair. She observed the stern face of Ronald B ennett. He impressed her as nobody before. But he ignored her, and Diana did not see a way to change his opinion. *** The others had already left and Diana was the last one. Edward threw glances at her, Ronald kept silent. But Diana could not force herself to get up and leave. Suddenly she wept. "Oh, quit it!" Bennett frowned. "You're not a slave! I bet, you chose this way y ourself!" "You're right, but you're wrong at the same time!" Diana screamed. "You're a cop , aren't you? You should know, some organizations allow their members to leave o nly after death!" "Have you ever heard about witness protection program?" "Look who's talking!" Diana stopped crying. "You were protecting that witness! A nd how successfully? As I know it, she's dead now, eh?" "You stupid doll for males pleasures!" Bennett became angry. "I told you how it happened! It was not a usual bat!" "I know..." Diana sighed, got up, and keeping silent she left the apartment.

The examination It was the usual examination. Every week Diana had to come to the laboratory and Bill Hamelin would do some tests and check her weight. The body which Diana now had now, had been made with his viruses, so Bill observed how things were progr

essing. Diana, some other girls, and a few males were naked and silently stood waiting f or the examination to be over. Diana did not know the feelings of these people, but she felt like a cow being milked or some laboratory animal. She suffered a s ense of humiliation, and barely held back tears, when Bill and Mark touched and measured her body as if it was some lifeless object. Suddenly Mary Noirson entered. She looked at them with indifference, and stared at her son. She dearly wanted to hug him, but she was afraid to embarrass him, m othering him in front of the people. Mary and Robert thought about their kids in totally different ways. Noirson was an animal, and he loved the healthful, strong Ann. A son is a son, however, Robe rt did not like that feeble boy. In the contrast to her husband, Mary felt pity for that weak orphan; his helples sness stimulated her motherly instinct. Her own son was just two months old when he was killed, and all Mary's saved tenderness and love went to Mark, her selfl ess caring about this ailing child helped the woman withstand her loss. All the time nursing Mark, Mary told to herself: "Here is my son, he is alive, he wasn't killed..." It was an escape from the reality, and Mary understood that, but it was the way to save her mind after the worst tragedy that possibly could befall a woman. They had no right to use the Power to totally change his body or cure him comple tely when he was getting sick with natural causes, and that happened often. Mary hardened her adopted son, controlled his training, however, Mark was ill so fre quently that sometimes the woman felt real despair. These days Mary did not go t o work, she almost did not eat or sleep, and spent all days and nights nursing h er son, and did not allow a nanny to do it. Cold, flu, tonsillitis, quinsy, otitis, bronchitis, pneumonia... Illnesses never let up, and Noirsons could count on their fingers the days when Mark was health y. After a vaccination against mumps Mark got seriously sick , and mad Robert sent the doctor to Hell. Only Mary's intercession saved that innocent unlucky medic, and he was returned to Earth. Even chicken pox that usually all kids handle easily, for Mark and Mary was a ve ry tough event. The whole week Mark had a fever. He was nine, but four times a day and twice at night Mary carried him in her arms to the bathtub, and back to the bedroom, then applied lotion to his skin. During the nights she watched her son, she did not allow him to scratch himself. She read and told him stories and fairy-tales, she held his hand, and they cried and suffered together. Only when Mark became a teenager did his health start getting better, yet Mary s till worried about him all the time. "Do you know where your daddy is?" She asked finally. "Nope." Mark kept his eyes on the monitor. "How about Miss Belanger?" A suspicion involuntarily sounded in Mary's voice. "She's cleaning cages right now..." Mark glanced at his mother. He understood th e reason of her visit. He smiled, got up, hugged her, and kissed her cheek, and

the face of the woman lit with happiness. Diana watched them with envy. She recalled her own mother. How she missed her! D iana closed her eyes. The feeling of awful loneliness squeezed the girl, and she thought about Ronald.

Philip and Diana Philip Moreland was waiting for Diana near her apartment. He saw her, walking al ong the corridor, and he smiled timidly. In contrast to his brother Jonathan he was shy with females. But in talking with this girl the former pirate lost all h is confidence. He could not understand why. Diana was very gentle and polite, sh e was never rude with him... Moreland admired her. She walked like a sailing yacht in the calm sea, her hair was like waves, her arms were like wings of seagulls... Philip could find a lot of marine words to describe this girl. "Hi Diana!" He called. The girl sighed: "Hi!" She went into her apartment, and he carefully followed he r. Ignoring him, Diana changed her clothes, and started to prepare for her meeting with her partners and friends. Philip took a deep breath. "Diana?" He asked uncertainly. "Let's go... out? Somewhere?" "Wanna make the same joke with me also?" the girl snorted, and Philip blushed, u nderstanding her reference. *** When they had just started to work here, not all servants knew that the brothers Moreland were twins. It was Jonathan's idea. He flirted and courted one maid, and finally they arrang ed a date with each other. And Philip oozed into her apartment, and hid in the bathroom. After Jonathan had fun with this maid, he went to the bathroom, and Philip "replaced" his brother. The girl was surprised that her lover was still so active. Jonathan and Philip exchanged again, the girl got drunk and she was not even amazed, when both broth ers finally came into her bed together... *** "No, Diana, I swear!" Philip looked down. "You know, if I ask our Lady, I'm sure , she would agree to include me in your list instead of someone else. But I don' t want this... This way... I just like to be with you. Just see you... Just talk ." The girl glanced at him with compassion. She could understand his feelings.

"I'm sorry, Philip..." She was touched with that strange declaration. "I love on e man, and I'll spend all my free time with him. Sorry." Moreland hung his head, and quickly left. And Diana continued her packing.

Edward For this meeting Diana came first. A black youth opened the door to her. After t he death of his girlfriend Edward cooperated with the former policeman and they were now roommates. Edward leered at Diana and offered her a beer. She refused. She brought a lot of food with her. Ronald was unemployed now, and at the last meeting Diana noticed the insufficient food allowance. She sorted the purchases, and smiled with plea sure. Suddenly Edward hugged her. Astonished, Diana looked at him. He grinned. "How much are you charging?" He kept his eyes on her breasts, and the girl blush ed. "Edward," She voiced as soft as she could. "Please, you're wrong about me, hones t." "Don't you like black guys, eh?" He said through clenched teeth. "You white tras h! Do you think I have no money to fuck you?" "Don't play the fool, Edward!" She pushed him. "Stop it!" He did not release her , and the girl was startled. He pressed her against the wall, he panted, he look ed very resolute, but all Noirson's servants had been trained in some methods of self-defense. The girl threw him off. The youth hit himself against the kitchen counter. He sat down on the floor and wept. Diana felt pity. "I'm sorry!" She squatted near him. "Are you okay?" She hugged him, and in that moment Ronald entered, and saw them. He gasped, he grabbed her shoulder, and tossed her out. "You dirty whore!" He shouted at her. "Keep your fucking snatch away from this l ad!" He spun to Edward. "You foolish boy! Can you imagine what you can get from her?" "I have a Trojan," the youth sighed despondently. "What's going on?" Valerie just arrived, and looked around with amazement. "That bitch," Bennett pointed to Diana, silently sitting on the floor. "She trie d to seduce that stupid boy!" "No, Ronald," Edward confessed, shaking his head. "I started it. Sorry, Diana."

Bennett became confused. Then, he saw the new food and he understood. "I'm sorry, girl..." He mumbled as he helped Diana get up.

The plant Valerie Conrad went to the shore of the lake, and she thought for a while. The r eporter had already tried to get into Noirson's plant, but the security did not allow her entry. The commission was working there, and now Valerie decided to go to Ethier's plant. *** Her car failed on the driveway and the reporter got mad. She jumped outside and kicked that piece of junk. "Hey, beauty!" She heard. Conrad looked back and saw a truck had stopped near he r. "Need a ride?" It was a delivery truck, and Valerie became interested. "Where are you going?" She asked, making a playful pose. "I have to deliver some stuff, here at the plant." He leered at her, and grinned . "But after, I'll be free." Valerie could not believe her luck. Still flirting, she got into the truck. *** While the driver unloaded the truck, she slid out, and went to the building. In the contrast of the military like discipline on Noirson's plant, here was much e asier to move around. Security guards were chatting, and nobody asked her about any pass when she entered the building. The staff inside were also careless. She asked about the station for sewerage di sposal, and the people showed her the way without any questions. *** Valerie gazed at the devices; she did not understand this information, so she wa nted to write it down and ask some competent person later. Suddenly she heard footsteps. Resolute steps came closer, and closer. The report er quickly looked around and hid nearby, in a niche. With trepidation she waited , wondering who was coming here. But it was just some laboratory worker, and he checked the devices. He was makin g notes into his lab-book. Valerie decided to wait. Suddenly she saw something moving under the ceiling. She gasped. It was a bat. T he animal was tearing some piping. Valerie could not resist herself, and she mad e a picture. The flash of her camera got the attention of the worker, and the bat also. "Hey!" the worker called to the girl. "What are you doing here?"

"The bat!" Valerie stretched her arm to the ceiling. The animal screeched, and a ttacked the reporter. Not expecting that, Valerie dropped the camera. The bat sh ot upwards, and disappeared into the darkness. The reporter cursed and ran away. But she had taken just a few steps, when she heard a scream. She looked back. The piping sprang a leak. An awful disgusting smell made Valerie dizzy, yet that was not the worst thing. The stream became thicker and the worker shriek with p ain when the liquid enveloped him. He tried to escape, but that chemical dissolv ed his feet, and he collapsed and fell silent. Only now a shocked Valerie realized the wave of that liquid getting close. And she ran. She ran fast like never before, however, never before she had felt such horror. She did not look back, the smell made her sick, and Valerie fell in panic, remembering the death of the worker. But suddenly she saw a light at the end of the corridor, and the hope to survive gave the girl new strength, and she increased the speed of her run. Outside she rushed up some steps, took a deep breath, enjoying the fresh air, an d looked down. The fetid stream flowed down into the lake, making foam, and Valerie saw dead fi sh come to the surface of the poisoned water. The reporter understood everything . Of course, this plant would be closed. With this action, Noirson swept aside s uspicions against him, and terminated evidence and the competitor at once. Yet V alerie still had no proof and had no idea, how she could get some.

The attempts Valerie Conrad went to the coffee shop, took a coffee, two doughnuts and a newsp aper to read while the coffee cooled down. She browsed through the paper and did not see a bat noiselessly fly above her cu p, and drop some pill into the coffee. Valerie put the newspaper on the table, and then saw it. The animal hid behind a chink under the ceiling, but the reporter already noticed it, and immediately l ost her appetite, recalling her visit to Ethier's plant. She poured the coffee from the cup to a take-out container and put her doughnuts into a paper bag, and left the shop. Near the exit she saw a homeless man. It w as his usual place for begging. The reporter smiled, and gave the bag and coffee to him, then got into her car. *** The next morning Conrad again went to that coffee shop, and was surprised to see it closed. She rang the bell. She rang for a long time. Valerie was a regular c lient, she and the owner of this place were friends, and Conrad was worried abou t her. Finally the owner neared the door, and opened it. Valerie came inside.

The lights were turned off, but it was summer, and inside was not dark. The owne r putted a small lamp on the counter, and it slightly lit up the hall. Conrad sa w a few people, all her well-known pals. They all liked this place, and visited often. The owner looked really upset, and close to tears. "What's wrong?" Valerie asked with concern. "Do you remember that pauper who lived near my shop?" the owner sighed. "Yesterd ay he died. The medics said, he got poisoned with coffee. From my shop. They clo sed my shop for inspection, and today the Health Commission is coming here to ch eck around and see if they can find out how it happened." Deadly horror struck Conrad. She recalled the bat, her coffee, and the bag that she gave to that poor man. But she understood nobody would believe this story. Suddenly a loud grinding sounded outside. Everybody looked through the shop wind ow. A truck lying on its side moved directly at the shop, broke the glass and bl ocked the front door. A lot of boxes fell inside. Valerie did not have time to s ee the contents before it caught fire, and everybody screamed with terror. The owner, and her husband grabbed fire extinguishers, others rushed to the back door, however, the corridor was blocked with boxes of napkins and paper towels. Conrad was amazed, she knew how the owner was careful and that this corridor wa s always clear. But not today, and now Valerie understood why. Among those people only Conrad was athletic enough. One man helped her to get in to the ventilation. She climbed up, crawled towards the light. She kicked the fa n blocking the air-vent. The fan did not move. She heard the screaming, the heat became intolerable, Valerie felt like a turkey in an oven. She kicked and kicke d, and finally that damn fan fell outside, and the reporter rushed out. She landed and ran to the back door. She grabbed the doorknob, it was hot, but s hocked Valerie did not notice that. She threw the door wide open. A hot wave of scorching air knocked her down. She got up, and gazed at the flame . She realized that no one alive could survive such a fire. But suddenly a bat f ell from the air vent. The animal was burnt and could not fly. Screaming with hate, the reporter grabbed the bat, and threw it into the flames. An wild howl sounded inside. A man rushed out, and ran towards Valerie. All his body was enveloped with fire. The reporter squealed and raced away as if it was a mad dog chasing her. The next building was a bank. Conrad burst inside, and the guard opened his mout h, to see her and the man following her. The guard blocked the entry doors, but the man, burning like a torch was already inside. He had dashed between the lock ed doors. The perplexed guard pushed button after the button. Valerie only kept her eyes on her pursuer. The man collapsed and finally lied still, and Conrad took a deep breath. She und erstood she was doomed, Noirson would not let her go. But she wanted to at least warn her partners. Valerie dared not to drive her own car. She was sure a bomb was inside. She rent ed a car and drove to the meeting.

Love Once a week they had a meeting to coordinate their search, and Valerie told her friends about the attempts to kill her. It cost the lives of a lot of people, an d the shocked partners listened to the reporter with worry and anger. "Well, that's it!" Bennett pounded the table. "He's a murderer, and I swear, I'l l die, but I'll make him stop!" "No!" Diana gasped with horror. "Ronald, please," She touched his hand. "You jus t can't imagine, how powerful Mrs. Noirson is! Please, leave him alone! He's dea dly dangerous! I don't want you to die!" "I just can't understand, why you're worrying so much about that?" Bennett shout ed at her. "Do you want sex with me so much? Don't you have enough clients?" "Exactly!" Diana screamed with tears in her voice. "You just don't understand!" Sobbing, she ran away. The friends exchanged glances. "'You do not love me, but I love you, so beware of my love!'" Fred Mannochio san g and laughed. "Go to Hell with your Shakespeare." Edward smiled. "It's Bizet, Carmen." Valerie shook her head. "Who cares? That girl has really fallen for him, and that's funny." "Why?" "Such a girl..." "You males, really are just animals!" the reporter shouted angrily. "We don't kn ow her past, and her present life, and we have no right to ask her! But I see, t hat poor girl really loves you, you stupid cop!" Ronald did not reply. He felt guilty, and decided to be gentler with Diana, if s he ever came back.

The murder When Bennett called her about a meeting, Diana could not believe her ears. His v oice sounded with apologetic intonation, and the girl forgave his mistreatment a t once. "Could you come a little bit earlier, than the others?" He asked her. "I would l ike to talk to you personally." He was afraid she would misunderstand that phras e, and he emphasized. "We'll meet outside. Do you know the bench, next to my bui

lding? Let's meet there, okay?" *** Ronald Bennett slowly walked outside and sat on the bench as far away from Diana as was possible. "Are you smoking?" He took a pack of cigarettes. "No." She gazed at him with visible love and happiness and this confused him. "Right," He lit a cigarette. "You used to smoke something stronger?" "I don't use drugs, Ronald. But sometimes I wish to." She showed a plaintive smi le. "You can't believe, how alone I feel! I was in hospital when I lost my only relative, my mother... I couldn't even bury her! How about your parents?" "They are okay," Bennett glanced at Diana, then looked down again. "They live in Kentucky. I am the second child. I have four sisters, and three brothers." "Wow!" Diana smiled. "I wish I had a lot of kids!" "After such a job?" Ronald snorted. "I'm on pills!" Diana threw with irritation in her voice. "For your information, I have perfect health! My Masters are controlling that!" "Sure! Males will pay more if they can use a clean dolly, eh?" Diana wept. Bennett sighed. "Okay, okay! Sorry. Don't cry. Your eye shadow will run... Why are you wearing t hat stupid makeup all the time? You look like a clown!" "They are special tattoos." Diana squeezed out with effort. "Oh, yeah? What about your ponytail, you rocking horsie?" Diana hastily loosened her hair. Bennett looked, and shook his head: "It's even worse." The girl tied her hair again. They kept silent for a while. "Ronald?" She timidly started. "Let's go to a ball game, eh? I'll buy the ticket s..." "Looking for a new pimp, cat? Listen, I took that food so Edward and you could u se it too!" "I'm not working for the money!" "You just like to have a lot of fun, eh?" Diana hung her head. She felt despair. Bennett relented. He thought about what t hey could talk about without sliding to that subject. "Tell me about your childhood," He said finally. ***

Valerie saw Ronald and Diana sitting side-by-side on the bench, and she smiled. The reporter opened the window, and wanted to call her friends, but suddenly a b at flew into the car and scratched her face. Forgetting everything, Valerie swung her arms. The car veered, and crashed into a pump at a gas station. The neighboring buildings shook from explosion. Ronald and Diana ran towards the fire. "Look!" Bennett shouted. Diana gasped. They saw a bat fly away. "Murderer..." Diana wanted to confide to him. But Noirson had just showed his Po wer again, and the girl felt hopeless horror.

Arthur Delmart Valerie's death shocked the cameraman more than he expected. They were not lover s, they were just good friends and partners. Well, a few times they had sex, but it was only in situational moments. And now Arthur could not understand why he felt such grief. *** He spied on all delivery trucks, which served the Noirson's mansion. And he chos e one driver. That guy, Joe was his name, looked naive. Delmart became his pal, and twice in a week they would meet at a local bar. Joe was proud to work for the Noirsons. Although it was forbidden to tell strang ers the Truth, the driver could not restrain himself from giving some hints. And of course, Arthur did not take seriously the drunken speeches of his new pal. All that Delmart needed was information, and an opportunity to get into the any of the Noirson's buildings. Yet while Valerie was alive he did not risk doing th at because he knew his brave partner would then go with him, and it was deadly d angerous. Now, he decided to act. At their next meeting he drugged Joe and drove him to a motel. Delmart tied the driver and took his uniform-jacket and his name-tag. They were not alike but Arthur took sunglasses and a cap and prayed that it woul d work. *** Maybe if he delivered that stuff to the main building the security would pay mor e attention, but building B was a technical building and was guarded with much l ess effort. Lucky for Delmart, the guard escorting him was new. He was worried and conscient iously checked his notes. "Unload here!" He pointed to a place near the driveway. Arthur started his work, but suddenly a young man with a gloomy face came from the building and ordered the goods brought inside the laboratory. The cameraman recognized Bill Hamelin. He made Arthur's task even easier, and an excited Delmart did not feel the heavi

ness of these boxes. He saw a cage in the laboratory, he saw bats inside, and he quickly checked the way to reach that place. The easiest way was through the ve ntilation system. The guard showed him where to park the truck and left. Arthur was surprised. He had no idea where a servant had to go. But it was not important. Delmart checked his camera, went to building B, walked around, saw the air vent, and climbed up . *** He had just started to tape the cage when he heard a squeak. He looked back and saw a bat. And it started to scratch and bite his leg. He tried to kick it, but suddenly another bat attacked him from the front. He struggled, but the small an imals were agile and persisted, and he felt despair. Swinging his arms and legs like a madman, Arthur lost all his care. He broke through the ventilation and fe ll down. He hit himself against a corner of the cage and lost consciousness. *** When he opened his eyes he found himself lying on his back on some table. His le gs and arms were cuffed to its edges. Bill Hamelin stood near him and the camera man saw Noirson sitting in a chair. "Mmmmm..." Robert shook his head. "How touching! The noble knight came to avenge his beautiful Lady, eh?" Delmart did not reply. He was never a good speaker. But he made an effort and as ked: "Why are your bats so smart?" Bill Hamelin glanced at his Master, and Noirson nodded. Bill grinned, and turned the light off. He went to his projector. "Have you ever thought, why there are stories about people who turned into bats? Not to owls, for example, eh? First of all, bats are mammals. Here is the skele ton of a bat. And here's a human skeleton. They look pretty similar, eh?" Bill t yped on his computer. Some bones on the pictures became longer, some shorter. Ar thur felt how his hair stood on end. "You will sense it yourself!" Bill laughed. "A few drops, and you turn into a ba t in about twenty-four hours!" "I strongly recommend you come to this place after it happens," Robert snored. " It's the only way to become human again." The lights were turned on. Noirson's guards came to Arthur, and poured some liqu id in his mouth. After they forced him to drink a few bottles of beer. Then they dragged him out of the territory, threw him outside, and closed the gates. Distracted with anger Delmart flung himself at the fence, he grabbed the bars, h e shouted and damned Noirson and all his people. The guards laughed. The dogs ba rked and tried to bite him. He recalled that he did not have much time, and he r an. *** "I know, it sounds fantastic," He stared at the doctor with hope. "Please, do a test! Do something! Stop that process! I don't want to turn into a bat!" and he wept.

"Don't worry! I believe you," the doctor replied calmly. He came close, checked him out, and gave him an injection. Suddenly, the orderlies entered the ward. Th ey grabbed the cameraman, and quickly tied him before he understood, what was go ing on. "Sorry, friend," said the doctor. "You went to the wrong hospital. This is the P oison Control Center not a mental institution." *** The ambulance was stuck in a traffic jam. They turned on the siren and a car sta rted to make way. EMTs looked at their ward with indifference. Not for the first time had they delivered an insane person. Nothing unusual. They were quietly ta lking with each other when they heard a strange sound. It was a plaintive squeak . The paramedics noticed that the patient had disappeared. They gasped and started to look over the straitjacket. One EMT saw a bat, cursed, caught it, and threw it out of the vehicle, and paramedics continued their search inside the car. The bat shot upwards. Arthur Delmart was still thinking as human, and that was t he worst part. He flew to Bennett's apartment. He hoped, his friends somehow wou ld help him. *** Ronald Bennett was with Diana, they were walking along his building and talking. Diana had not felt happy for a long time. And now it was a sense of coming back to life. Her beloved Ronald was next to her, he listened to her, asked and repl ied, and the girl was beaming like a sun. Suddenly she saw a bat flying directly towards them. Diana gasped, but Ronald wa s a professional. He grabbed his gun, and killed the bat instantly. He dumped th e dead animal into the first trash can. "They thought, they could get me so easy!" He addressed Diana. "Oh, Ronald!" the girl smiled with admiration. "You're the best!" *** A few days later, they read that the body of Arthur Delmart was found in the cit y dump. He was killed by shot to his head. But his friends and partners could no t even imagine how that had happened.

Chapter Eleven: Truth Dreams Holding his clothes, Gleb went to the bathroom, took out his gun, and screwed a silencer on its bar. He quickly strode back to the bedroom, and resolutely lifted the gun. Martha gasped. The words of her mother appeared in her mind: 'The most dangerous enemies are white people. Never trust a white guy!' And the girl quietly wept. They were not tears of fear. She even wished to die.

Gleb tried to force himself to pull the trigger, but he could not, and that amaz ed the young man. "I have to do this!" He screamed with despair. "And it will be good for you! Ple ase, try to understand me!" *** He flinched and woke. Ann slept next to him, and he carefully petted her cheek, then closed his eyes again. *** The bullet crashed into her head. However, Martha did not die. She got up, stretched her hands to Gleb, and came towards him. He saw her face c overed with blood, but she was smiling and talking. "What have you done to me?" She asked tenderly. She spoke Russian, however, Gleb did not see anything wrong with that. "I love you, Gleb, why did you kill me? I thought you loved me!" "This is why!" He cried out. He stepped back, he did not know what to do. "They discovered us, we're doomed! It is much worse than any death! Please, try to und erstand me!" *** He awoke again. He was shaken. Gleb could not make out if that was just a bad dr eam or cruel reality. He got up, went downstairs, lit a cigarette, and prepared coffee as strong as he was able to drink. He decided to not go back to sleep. The worry drove him insane. He tried to restrain himself, but the tension became intolerable. Finally, not looking at Jeff guarding the house door, Gleb went outside, and mad e a call. He heard her sleepy voice, and smiled. Nevertheless, he did not reply, and hung up.

The detection Today they would be taking a trip to the breeding kennel. The owner bred Irish W olfhounds, and she needed a consultation. She agreed some students could practic e for a while with her pets to decrease her payment. But something changed, and the professor told them to go home. Ann was standing near a window with some students. Suddenly she saw Gleb's car. He stopped in front of the building, smiled to his Lady, and waved his hand. Ann wanted him to wait for her, and she swung her arms, but he misunderstood her ge sture, and drove away. "Stay, stupid!" Ann shouted, and laughed. "I don't think he's stupid," the girl next to her pronounced significantly.

Ann gazed at her: "What do you mean?" "Nothin'..." the girl grinned. "Have you ever visited apartment number four, 725 Ninth Street?" "Why?" Ann was astonished. "I dunno..." The girl drawled. "Just askin'." Ann snorted, and resolutely walked away. *** She parked her car next to the apartment building and looked around with surpris e. She was curious and taken aback. Gleb's car was here, and she went into the h ouse, found the apartment number four, and gazed at the door. She wanted to knock, but suddenly a new idea came to her mind. Ann concentrated, as her parents had taught her, and opened the lock without any key. She quickly went inside, and saw Gleb making love with an unknown black girl. Maybe she gasped. Maybe she screamed. But the couple sprang up at once. Ann grab bed her gun, however, Gleb was a professional. Ann did not remember, how she sho t, the bullet skinned Gleb's chest. Next second Ann was laying on the carpet, an d Gleb held her securely. She tried to struggle, but felt without any power and she burst into tears. "I'm sorry!" Gleb sighed, and looked at the black girl. "Well, I knew it'd happe n sooner or later. Martha, honey, pack your stuff, get out of here! I'll hold he r. I'm gonna have a "ride to Hell" for sure, but you have a chance to survive." "Don't play the fool, Gleb," She replied calmly. "I'll not leave you." "Do you love her?" Ann asked with effort. "Then why did you date me?" "It was my duty!" Gleb said dismally. Ann stared at him. "Your parents gave me t hat job! I even had a vasectomy, because my task was to please you, not to make you pregnant!" Gasping, Ann tore herself from his arms and ran away. In her car she turned the key, but she did it so sharply, that the engine failed . She tried again, she wept, and put her face on her arms. A few minutes later Ann went back to the apartment. They were dressed and trying to stop the bleeding of Gleb's wound. They looked a t her with powerless spite. Ann came close and stopped the bleeding with one mag ic motion. "Sorry, I don't know, how to cure yet" She said like a robot would. "But I think it's not bad now." "Thank you," Martha mumbled, and tenderly petted Gleb's shoulder. He put on a Tshirt and hugged her. They were ready for any Punishment, they were not sorry, b ecause they loved each other and Ann understood and valued that. "I won't contact my parents for the next twenty four hours," She continued with the same lifeless voice. "You know the rule. If you're able to hide for one year , you'll be free. Good luck."

They gazed at her with surprise. Gleb now looked confused. "I'm really sorry, Ann," He sighed. "I had no choice, but I liked you, honest." "Thanks." Ann felt her lips make an unnatural smile. "Whose smart idea was it to give you this job? Tell me." "It was Mrs. Noirson's order." Ann closed her eyes. "You have twenty four hours to escape." She repeated. "Don't waste any time." An d she left.

In the city park When Ann Noirson felt depressed, she always came here. She parked her car, slowl y walked deep into the park and sat at a bench. Tousled starlings were uttering shrill chirps. The cold spring sun frowned throu gh torn clouds. Dreary moans of doves cast gloom over Ann, and she felt vexed, l ooking at shabby squirrels impudently stared at her. "It was a mean act!" She said loudly. "No it wasn't." She suddenly heard. Ann turned her head and was surprised. An unknown man was sitting next to her. He smiled and held out bags with peanuts : "At spring, all animals are very hungry. Would you like to feed them?" "Usually I have my own, but thanks," Ann took one bag. Deep in her thoughts she did not notice that man talk to her as if he already knew what had happened to h er. They were silent for a few minutes throwing nuts, and smiling with pleasure, watching how the hungry animals ate and fought for food. "Ah, Ann," the man continued. "Your parents gave you anything that you wished fo r! You needed to have such a guy as Gleb was, so they gave him to you just as if a new toy. That's all!" "How do you know?" Ann realized what was going on. "Did my parents send you too? " "Not them," the man smiled. "But I'm a brother of your mom, and your life is imp ortant to me also." "I've never heard about any uncle from my mother's side!" "Well, we have a common Father, but during those years I've talked with your mom just twice, and it was a long time ago, when I was working in the furniture fac tory before I started my Main Job. She chose her husband, and it's her life. I d on't want to condemn her, but I can't approve of her choice either." "And what is your name, uncle?" Ann smiled.

"I'm Michael Alter." the man got to his feet. "Look around! The world is beautif ul, isn't it?" Cheerful starlings were uttering optimistic chirps. Warm sunshine flowed down fr om the sky. Tender moans of loving doves aroused sweet dreams about true love. And the girl laughed. Ann felt capable to understand and forgive everybody, and it was deep, real happiness. She looked at Alter. He went to his car. "Uncle Michael, wait!" She gasped. "I don't want you to just go! Let's have a pi cnic, eh?" "Ann, dear, I'm busy," He smiled tenderly. "How about the weekend?" Alter hesitated. "Okay," He finally agreed.

The picnic It was a wonderful picnic. Tomorrow, ed to visit her parents. But now she py. Only with Robert she had similar and then answered all her questions. spring break would start, and Ann had plann was talking with Michael Alter and felt hap talks. When he listened and understood her But the talk with Alter was even better.

Ann respected and loved her father. Hot-tempered, masterful, imperious and stern , Noirson had never punished her. However, Ann was afraid of her parents. She di d not exactly know who they were, but their abilities scared the girl. With Alter, Ann felt free as a bird. When she was next to Michael she sensed a d eep peace and calm. He was illuminated with hope and trust. It was a boundless o cean of Love, and Ann felt melting into unlimited happiness. And only two words: "Heavenly enjoyment" could explain her feelings. Suddenly Michael smiled: "Oh, how easy you blush! Like your father does!" "My father blushes?" Ann burst out laughing. "I've never seen that!" Michael laughed also, and the girl did not understand his hint. Then Alter conti nued. "Did you ever think why you look so different to your parents? You're taller tha n Mr. Noirson is, and he is of a slender build. Only diet and everyday exercises help Mary to stay in shape. But you have an athletic body. My sister is a plati num blonde, her husband is black-haired. Why does Mark have an ash-brown hair? W hy is your hair beige?" "Why?" Ann looked at him with surprise. "I think you should ask your parents about that." "Oh, I will!" Ann laughed again. "My sweet pop is so wonderful! Once he took me on a trip inside a volcano! It was great!"

Michael shook his head: "It's no good to waste the Power just for fun!" "Our mom says the same!" Ann pouted her lips. "But life is sometimes so boring!" "Life can't be boring!" Alter retorted sternly. "You just don't know how to use it!" "Would you teach me?" She gave him a wink. "Be sure, I will," his voice was very serious.

The parents When Ann started talking with her parents about Michael Alter, she felt somethin g strange. Their faces turned stony. In their eyes she saw anxiety and suspicion . Not understanding what was going on, Ann told them what her and Michael had talk ed about. She expected to see smiles, but she was wrong. Their faces blanched, they looked at her as if she was a stranger. "What?" confused Ann felt her lips start trembling. "What, have we been adopted? " She was kidding, she hoped, they would laugh and everything would be back to nor mal. "Jerry!" they gasped at once. Red spots appeared on livid Robert's face. Mary cr ossed herself. "Oh, that son of a bitch!" Noirson hung his head. "Daddy! I'm sorry!" Ann flung herself to her father, but unexpectedly he pushed her away with anger and spite. "Don't touch her, bastard!" Mary leaped between them as mad as a panther in batt le. "You ruined the life of that poor boy, you debauched murderer!" "It was your fault, you whore!" He bellowed at his wife. "Don't shout at mom!" Ann burst into tears. "You should've calling Francine that name!" Mary hissed in the face of her husba nd. Noirson slapped her. Ann screeched with shock and horror. She had never seen her parents fight. Havin g been seized with old pain, they totally forgot about her. Mary's eyes flashed. Like lightning threw off Robert. "How could you, mom!" Sobbing hysterically Ann helped her father get up. He was bleeding from his nose

, and wiped the blood off his lips. He glanced at his wife with fear, lowered hi s eyes, and left. Thoroughly perplexed, Ann rushed to Mary. The woman opened her arms, but suddenl y her face winced with disgust, and she recoiled from her daughter. "Mark! Where is Mark?" Mary Noirson screamed as she ran away. Ann sat straight on the floor and wept violently. She did not understand a thing .

The confession After finally calming down, Ann went to the "family room". She knew, when someth ing happened in their family that room was the place for a common meeting. She saw her parents and Mark. He was hugging Mary. Everybody looked so upset tha t Ann felt guilty again. "I'm sorry!" She was shaken. "Why did you get mad at me?" "I wasn't adopted!" Mark declared resolutely. "You're my only parents! And I don 't want even to listen about someone else!" Everybody looked at Ann questioningly. "I want to know the truth." She could not recognize her own voice. "No matter ho w it hurts." "As you wish," Robert turned away. "Let's go, son." And the men left. Ann sat ne ar her mother. "Okay," Mary sighed. "I have to start afar. I'm an angel in human form. Angels a nd humans are very close. We can even be crossed, like a donkey and horses, for example, or tigers and lions. But such hybrids could not have descendants. The D evil, Robert's father, was an angel, so no woman on Earth could become pregnant with Robert. But I'm an angel myself, and I can have a child from any man. Your biological father... Jerry," She squeezed out with effort, and shuddered. " Jerry was his name. He was human. Foolish, naive, nervous youngster! He was one of my bodyguards. He loved me... He loved me very much. And once... You know, yo ur dad... I mean, Robert. Humans could kill him only with one of the daggers tha t he's keeping in his "prayer room". Many years ago I had been kidnapped, becaus e of my thoughtlessness. Robert saved me, but he was crippled. Of course, he couldn't forgive me that so easily. The next few months I spent as if I was in Hell. And having been under such stre ss, I responded to the love of that stupid boy! It was some kind of craziness! W e made love, forgetting everything! In the gym... Oh, God!" Mary closed her eyes , she was shaken. "In our gym?" Ann was astonished. "But the gym is surveyed by video-cameras!"

"Yes," Mary confirmed, and forced herself to continue. "It was reported to Rober t... He watched us... And Robert ordered Jerry killed... I'm sorry... It was my fault, but I have been punished brutally for that, believe me. I became pregnant, and Robert didn't allow me to keep my child. I got away. And Robert married your mother. Francine. That was her name," Mary's eyes were glowi ng with jealousy spite. "She was the most debauched whore ever! Even her own fat her could not resist her lusty "charm"! And I could imagine the place that your biological father got her! I'm sorry, my dear, but you asked for it! A few months later I gave birth to a boy. And he was killed... He was killed in the name of Robert's father. Robert offered to resuscitate him. But I preferred to see my son dead, than belong to Hell. Francine left you... Of course, such a female could not be a good mother and wif e! She died in the fire and your daddy... Robert couldn't resuscitate her. I wen t back to him and took care of you and Mark. We really love you, and we didn't t hink about your biological parents until today." For a few minutes the females silently thought about these events. "Do you have any pictures of my father?" Ann asked with a lifeless voice. "No!" Mary flinched. "Why? Just look at a mirror!" Ann thought. "Does daddy have any?" "Ask him!" Mary rose. "I need a rest, sorry, honey..." And she left, and Noirson immediately entered the room. Ann went closer and tenderly hugged him. "You're the best dad ever!" She kissed Robert's cheek. "Please, don't be offende d! I love you, honest! But can I see a photo of him?" Noirson shrugged his shoulders: "But do it without me!" An envelope appeared on the table. "If he was your servant," a new idea came to Ann's head. "Can you resuscitate hi m? Or maybe you'll allow me to visit him in Hell?" Robert faltered. "It's impossible." He said with effort. "He repented before he died. I don't hav e his soul." "Is he in Heaven?" "I don't think so!" Noirson retorted angrily. "He was a gangster, rapist and mur derer! By the way, I got Gleb, when he was dying on a Moscow street after a skir mish! Sorry, but you wanted the truth!" And he left Ann shocked and confused. She slowly went to the table and took the envelope. Ann browsed through the photos. The shaggy teenager. The athletic youth. The hef ty young man. All the pictures showed him very beautiful, but his impudent, cyni cal grin hurt the girl.

*** That evening, when she was in the bed, her parents came to her room, and they ha d a long heart-to-heart talk. "Maybe you should invite Michael here? Next time, eh?" Mary glanced at her husba nd. "I'd like to get to know my brother."

Ann and Michael In the beginning it seemed as if Alter tried to avoid communicating with Ann. Bu t that girl was self-confident and impudent like her father. She called Michael often, urged him to meet her, and every weekend they went out somewhere. She enjoyed their meetings. They both loved nature, they walked and had long talks. Finally Alter relented and even started to ask about the next meetings. *** This weekend was rainy, so they went to a movie on Saturday, and to a restaurant on Sunday. Ann surprised herself. She visited such places with Gleb a lot of times. Usually she liked to look around, and flirt with other men. She thought it was fun to t ease their females, and her own escort. In contrast to it, with Michael she just kept her eyes on him, and almost did not notice what was going on around her. Yet to ignore the company at the next table was just impossible. The young men a nd their girls were celebrating something or just relaxing, however, so noisily that a few times other clients asked them to be quiet, and the waiter finally re fused to serve them if they did not calm down. The young people obeyed, and Ann stopped paying attention to him, but suddenly s he heard an indignant young man loudly ask another: "Where is she?" Ann glanced at them, and stared at Michael again. He turned on his chair, looked at the company very attentively, and called the waitress. "We have to go," He said to her. "Bill, please." "Why?" Ann was upset. "Are we going home?" "Honey, I don't like brawls. Trust me, very soon a turmoil will take place." *** When they were leaving, Ann heard noises, looked back, and understood, Alter was right. That young man grabbed the bottle, and rushed at his pal, toppling over the table. In the car Ann took a deep breath, and shook her head.

"What happened there? Did I miss something?" "This guy came here with a girl." Michael explained. "But she left with another man, whom she saw for the first time in her life, and her boyfriend became angry ." "What a slut, eh?" Ann laughed. "Maybe she just met her true love." Alter retorted. "In the restaurant? Give me a break!" "Your biological parents met each other in a bar. Nobody knows where you will me et your soul-mate." "Even in a city park, eh?" Ann gave him a wink, and Michael laughed, but Ann's f ace went clouded. She thought about her biological parents. Alter sighed: "Your parents are alive." Ann gasped: "My adoptive mom and dad said, both my parents are gone..." "I helped your mother fake her death... And your father..." Alter attentively lo oked at her. "Have you ever heard: 'The hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear the voice of the Son and come out.'? John 5:28. When d id you last read the Bible? Trust me, Ann! One day it will happen around the wor ld." "And when it's gonna be?" Her voice was still sad. "I don't know..." Michael took her hands. "But it will be... Trust me... Just tr ust me." "My mom said, our biological mother was a prostitute," Ann wept. "She did not lo ve us, she abandoned us..." Alter kept silent for a while. It seemed as if he wanted to say something, but h esitated. He lifted his face, and closed his eyes. Then looked at Ann again. "I came to Earth to bring Truth," He said finally. "Okay, I'll tell you how it h appened..."

Truth < Compare: Part One. Chapter Five. Jerry's offer. > His beautiful huge blue eyes stilled, and she felt why, and she smiled. Francine was glad to please that emotional boy. But suddenly she recalled her missed pil ls for today, and became concerned for a while. "Ah, just once, no matter..." Fr ancine silently took the glass from the bedside table. Her long bangs had stuck to her sweaty forehead and the girl moved them aside with a brush of her hand ac ross her face. "Marry me!" smiling, Jerry asked her. He smelled her bright purple hair, and he laughed with delight.

"My God! What a naivet! Poor boy, nobody marries a bar whore, especially after th e first fuck..." "...I don't want you to just go." "Try and stop me!" She derisively looked at him, and thought: "Even my father wa s not able to do that. Oh, daddy, why? How could you..." Francine closed her eyes. The awful unforgettable memories still ran through her head. *** She strolled into the anteroom of their house, and fell onto the couch. She pres sed her hands to her face. Francine desired to go to the police, but she loved h er father very much, and she wanted to talk with him first. He entered, and stared at her. However, his look was so strange that Francine be came confused. "Daddy?" She started uncertainly. "Your boss... He raped me." He sat next to her, and patted her shoulder: "It's okay." Francine's eyes opened widely. Her father took out a bunch of bills. "Look!" He held them in front of her face. "It's my three salaries!" "You sold me..." Francine mumbled astonishingly. "I'm going to the police!" She yelled at him. "Come on!" He sprang up. "Do you know how much money it costs to raise a child? Finally I got my chance... What? You were not a virgin! You're of age! Big deal! Was it so difficult to just keep your legs open for a while?" "Like that?" Livid, Francine made a pose. Her father smiled, and stepped towards her. Shocked, she was not able to move a limb. All that was going on was so horrible, it was simply beyond understanding. Suddenly Francine heard a mad howl. Her mother rushed to them. The man fell from the couch, crept aside. The woman seized the hair of her daughter, pulled the g irl on the floor. "Pute!" She screamed at Francine. "Pute!" "Slut!" / French The woman tried to kick her daughter, but Francine sprang up and ran to her room . She locked herself in, grabbed her sports bag, crammed some her belongings ins ide. She heard her mother knocking and kicking the door. The woman finally burst into the room, and Francine rushed past her. Downstairs her father stopped the girl. Francine gazed at him. Her bright red ba ngs covered half of her face. The girl looked through her hair as if from behind the tongues of a flame. Her father held out some cash. "It's even better!" He smirked. "Go to a motel, call me! My boss is just crazy a bout you! Now I can understand him!" He laughed. "We can make good money!"

Without a word Francine took the bills, and pushed them deep into his mouth, the n ran away. *** Francine opened her eyes, and searched the guy by her side. Young and huge, with loose thick hair, Jerry looked like a barbarian or some deity from North Europe an tales. His natural, wild masculine beauty impressed her. But his naivety simp ly enchanted Francine. He was talking so emotionally, and his tender adoring gri n made her smile. "But I wanna help you..." still leering at her body, Jerry played with the ring on her pierced navel. "How, you sweet naive boy? Erase my memory, cure my wounded heart, can you do th at? Nobody can..." "...you can be raped or even killed..." "My own daddy already did it. I'm dead and afraid of nothing... No, I am a cowar d. I can't kill myself. Maybe someone will take mercy on me and do it?" "...Do you wanna get a job with Him? ...he's not even human." "Wow! Straight into the embrace of the Devil! To live in Hell? Why not? What sit uation could be possibly worse, than I have now?" "It could be fun!" She started tenderly caressing his thick wavy mane, the color of fallen leaves. "You can't imagine how alone I feel by myself..." "Unfortunately, I can..." and Jerry hugged Francine again. Two lost lonely people. Two lonelinesses fused together. But loneliness when you are with someone nice is not loneliness anymore.

The pregnancy "Francine!" the another girl called her. "Is that true? Do you really want to ke ep this?" "It's not prohibited, Julia," wrapping herself into a plaid, Francine was sittin g near a window, and looked outside at the snow. "I'm a whore, but I'm not a mur derer." "Why, hon?" Julia gazed at her. "Is it Jerry's child?" "How the hell can I know?" Francine became angry. Her long bangs disturbed Franc ine. She blew on them, but the stubborn lock fell back, and, irritated, Francine shook her head like a horse, trying to put it back in place. She took out a com b and sleeked her coarse bright green hair. "Did you hear the last news?" Julia continued with a maliciously smile. "Your vi king finally fucked our Lady."

"I don't care." Francine did not look at Julia, and thought: "You're a stallion, my wonderful sweet boy. Strange, why I never felt jealous? Wait a sec..." She s uddenly understood the point and got horrified. "Oh, my God!" "And how did Mr. Noirson react to that?" Francine hoped her voice was indifferen t enough. "He invited Jerry to His party, and with Dylon together, they had fun with your boyfriend to their heart's content." "You're a liar!" Francine sprang up. "Everybody knows how straight Jerry is!" "Dah! Everybody knows." Julia snorted. "Bertha worked with Jerry during the part y, and she said your bold mighty knight cried like a little girl!" "That's mean," Francine sat down again, she was shaken, she could not keep her f eet. "It's simply mean. Why just not kill him?" "Don't worry, hon, the Master already has done it!" Julia laughed as she told Fr ancine everything. She went into the details... But Francine showed no reaction, and only God saw what was going on in her soul. *** "Alors?" the ingratiating voice of the Beast drove her insane. "So?" / French "Francine, dear? Will you marry me, my angel? I'm free now. You will be the quee n of the world!" Francine did not reply. "My poor sweet boy..." Her heart was burning. "I couldn' t even bury him..." Noirson waited for a while then repeated his proposal: "Francine, chrie? Veux-tu me marier, mon ange? Je suis libre maintenant. Tu sera la reine du monde!" / Fre nch A lot of sharp words were ready to come from Francine's mouth. But for the first time she felt her child move inside her, and she thought: "I can live on the st reet, rain or cold, no matter. I can be without any food almost a week, I can ea t everything that is edible... But how about my baby?" "Okay," She said like a robot would. "J'vous marierai... I will marry you." She threw the receiver, and, trembling with hatred, Francine uttered all the cur ses that she knew.

Francine and Bernard In the training camp, Bernard and Jerry were roommates. Jerry never tried to be a leader, and easily became a follower and pal of power-loving Bernard. Later, working as guards, they were too busy for regular communication, however, their friendship was still strong, and Bernard was the first person who Jerry r

ecommended to Francine, when she started working for Noirson. *** The day after Jerry had been "dismissed," Bernard visited her. He closed the door and glanced at the girl standing by the window. Francine dyed her hair a bright pink, and Bernard involuntarily smiled, he liked this new col or. The girl, as usual, made an playful pose, and as usual it excited Bernard, b ut his sorrow was still fresh in his mind and he lowered his eyes, and sat on th e chair near the door: "Not today, honey." Surprised, Francine looked at him, then she understood. She gasped, flung hersel f at Bernard, and, falling into his arms, burst into tears. Francine cried for t he first time during those months, and the amazed, Bernard could not recognize t he sobbing woman in his arms. "Francine," he called tenderly. "I know you're upset..." "Upset!" she screamed. "I feel as if my heart was brutally torn from my chest! E ach cell is in agony! This morning I accidentally scalded my arm with coffee..." she showed to Bernard an awful scar near her wrist. "I didn't even feel it!" "Oh Devil," Bernard mumbled, shocked. "Did you love him so much? Why did nobody know about it? Why did you hide it even from Jerry?" "Because of Her," Francine said with a stony face. Bernard bit his lip - he unde rstood. "The daylight dimmed, and my every gasp felt like a gulp of poison gas," Francin e continued. "Every beat of my heart feels like being stabbed with a dagger. If I burn myself now it would not be suffering but relief!" She stopped for a secon d. "But I'm pregnant. I don't want the innocent child to die. For the next few m onths my body belongs not only to me. But after..." "No!" Bernard squeezed her shoulders. "Please live! Live for me! I love you!" Francine's face showed a look of disgust. "I love you as if you were my sister... From now on... I swear! I'll never touch you again, and if you want, I'll protect you form anyone!" Francine stared at him. "What about your Master? Want the same Fate as Jerry? Yo u'll be next!" "No matter," Bernard retorted. Francine shook her head. "No. I don't want anyone to find out about my feelings. But if you help me escape, I'll be grateful." "I swear, I will!" Bernard stood up. "Just say when you're ready." *** "Forgive me!" Francine tenderly kissed her children. Just yesterday she gave bir th to them, and she was afraid, that if she stayed any longer she would not be a ble to leave them at all. "I can't live with a monster like him, but he's rich, you'll need nothing! My life will be difficult again, but he's powerful, and no one will dare offend you! Good bye, my little ones!" She felt close to tears and quickly turned away. She looked at a stern faced guy waiting near the door: "Be

rnard?" "Francine?" He responded. "Are you sure you wanna do this?" Francine moved her scarlet bangs off her face with her hand. "Yes, dear, I know, what I'm risking. But you? Are you sure you wanna do it righ t now?" "Oh, I am!" forcing herself not to look back, Francine went to exit. "He can rea d our thoughts! Wanna have a "ride to Hell"?" They smiled to each other and left. *** Bernard was on his way home when he noticed the car following him, and he change d his route. He knew this part of the city very well and hoped to shake off his predators, despite the fact that he was alone, and these guys were professionals . He pushed the gas pedal, and swept through an intersection, running a red light. An oncoming truck almost hit his car. Bernard barely avoided a crash, and he sm iled, seeing the truck blocking the road. He quickly turned into the next alley, then into the next. Bernard was sure they had lost him. But he was wrong. If he was not so alarmed he would not think it strange that these cars were parked at the end of the street. However, Bernard w as a professional, and he understood at once it was a trap. Bernard sharply turn ed the car, and immediately noticed another vehicle, blocking his way back. Nobody wants to die. But Bernard was smart enough to realize he had lost, and he had prepared for this event. The only thought he had was that he could not warn Francine, waiting for him at home, and this thought made him upset. His hand di d not falter when Bernard pushed the button of the detonator, and the explosion saved him from a "ride to Hell".

Salvation She was standing near the window. Bernard did not come back. Although Francine d id not know what had happened, she realized, he was gone forever, and she was al l alone and defenseless again. Francine saw a car stopped in front of the building, and she recoiled, and hid, still watching them. A few men went outside, one made a call, and they entered the building. Francine glanced around. "Oh, God! God! Dear God, help me!" She felt despair. "W hat if the Beast threatens to torture my children?" Francine thought. "I'll do a nything!" Her look stopped on boxes with pure alcohol. Forty full bottles. Her eyes bright ened with hope.

She locked the door on the door chain. Overtaxing her strength Francine moved th e furniture, and barricaded herself into the bedroom. She poured alcohol over all the bed and herself. Francine drank straight from th e bottle until she felt dizzy. She laughed. Dropping the bottle, Francine plodde d to the bed, and fell down. She took the matches, lit a cigarette, and inhaled. "Jerry, my love, I'm coming to you..." still smiling, Francine lowered her arm. To her surprise the match hissed as if it touched not alcohol, but water. Francine quickly sat up. She felt sober. Her bright violet bangs had stuck to he r wet face and the woman moved them aside with a quick brush of her hand. She sa w an unknown man next to her. "I'm late!" Francine thought. "Oh, God, help me withstand it..." "He will!" the man smiled. "But we don't have much time. Get up, hurry!" Amazed, Francine obeyed. The man stretched his arm to the empty bed, and a body of some woman appeared on it. "We need your ring," the man looked at Francine. Though perplexed, Francine unsu ccessfully tried to take away a ring from her pierced navel. The man made a stra nge motion, and the ring flew to his hand itself. Francine gasped. The man neared the bed, and put the ring in the navel of the corpse. "All done," He turned to Francine. "Let's get out of here!" *** "And you still allege that I am not dead?" addressing Michael Alter, Francine la ughed seeing her beloved man enter the room. "I know this guy was killed. Why? A m I a saint if I came to Heaven?" "Yes, I was," Jerry smiled, and stretched his hands to her. "It's not Heaven, ho ney, but our chance to get it!" She flung herself to him, and threw her arms around his sturdy strong neck. Jerr y embraced her, and the deep, instinctive sense of calm and peace filled Francin e. She felt like a woman from the Stone Age when the male came back from dangero us hunting. The powerful brave man was by her side. He will protect her. Nobody will dare offend her anymore. Nobody.

The new stage A few times Michael picked Ann up after school. She did not see anything wrong w ith it. He was just a kind, nice uncle, who filled the emptiness in her soul. Bu t one day... *** Ann was working in the laboratory. She had her task almost finished, when a guy

working on the next table, grinned: "Hey, Ann! Your boyfriend's here!" Surprised, Ann thought it was Gleb and she looked at the door. But it was Michael. He peeped into the laboratory, he waved to her and smiled. Ann stood still. She was checking her feelings. She remembered exactly her feeli ngs for Gleb, and it was absolutely another sense. Their eyes met, and the girl was amazed. The world around her disappeared. It wa s the Contact. When you do not need to talk to explain. When you understand with out words. When souls fused together. She went into the corridor as if she was in a trance. Michael started talking, b ut she did not understand. Ann just stared at him. Alter sighed, and repeated hi mself: "I'm very sorry, I have business to do for the next three weeks." The girl looked at him. Her naive big dark blue eyes with long eyelashes showed sincere sadness. "Ann, sweetheart!" Michael took her hands. "You have to rub shoulders with some young people like yourself!" "I don't need anyone," She replied in an upset voice, and Alter gasped. "What?" Ann gazed at him. "Gonna visit your wiffie?" "I'm not married." Michael smiled again. "Why? Are you gay?" Alter laughed. "If you're sick, I don't mind." the girl was talking as in delirium. "I was just too busy." Michael lowered his eyes. "Ann, look, I..." The girl wept. Alter became confused. "Don't you like me?" She showed an unnatural smile. "Am I stupid?" "Ann," Michael hugged her. They were the same height. "It's too serious, honey. I have to leave the city for a while. I'll be back after the twenty sixth. It's all up to you. You have my phone number." He carefully kissed her forehead, but Ann emotionally embraced him, and pressed her lips to his. Michael looked at her with tenderness. "I'll be back after the twenty sixth." He repeated and left. But for a long time Ann just stood there, staring at the exit door, closed behind her beloved man, and she wanted to weep and laugh at once.

The helper Robert Noirson, Mark and Bill Hamelin were talking in the penthouse of the labor

atory in the basement of the building B. "You did a very good job Bill!" Robert tapped his shoulder. "So, she tore some p iping, killed a worker, and caused that bitch to break her camera, eh? Wow! Smar t, smart girl! She deserves to be human again! Do it today. I think I know what job I'll give to her. Probably, to be a spy... By the way, how about Miss Belang er?" Noirson smiled. "Is she working well?" "She's a very good assistant." Hamelin slightly bowed to his Master. "Yes, dad." Mark shook his head. "Last night she helped us with that stupid prog ram, I was lost and, honest, already felt despair. Bill had no idea also, and we were surprised, when she did it!" "Oh, I see that girl is able to satisfy everybody, eh?" Suddenly the males heard and saw Mary Noirson. They immediately blocked their mi nds, and for Mary it was as if they slammed the doors in front of her face. "Robert!" She said coldly. "Would you like to leave this building at least for a while? We have a problem in New Zealand." "Sure, honey!" Noirson answered hastily. "I'll take care of that right now, don' t worry..." "It's you who should be worried, my darling!" She shouted with anger. "It's your stupid Corporation! It's your damn money! Why do I have to waste my life managi ng your fucking business, if you don't care about it!" She burst into tears and ran away. "Mom!" Gasped, Mark moved to follow her. Bill Hamelin quickly went to the next r oom, and the mad youth grabbed his father with such impulse that Robert barely k ept his feet. "I'm sorry that I promised to leave her alone!" Mark bellowed at his father with rage. His coarse ash-brown shaggy hair and glittered eyes made Mark look like a lion. "But if you make mom upset one more time I'll burn that fucking twat myse lf!" "Then burn me first!" Robert pushed his son away. "Take the dagger, kill me! No one appreciates Mary as I do! She knows if she wishes me to, I'll send Angie to Hell!" and added very calmly. "And I'll go with her in that case." Mark spat, and rushed out.

Ann and Angie When Ann saw Noirson's car, she was surprised and felt happy. She loved her fath er very much, and even the truth about her biological parents did not decrease h er feelings for Robert. Ann had a talk with Michael just yesterday, and she beca me upset, thinking to spend the weekend only with Irene. Ann ran into the house, and fell into Noirson's arms. "I missed you a great deal!" they said at once, and laughed. They sat on the cou

ch and started to talk. Only about an hour later had they calmed down enough. "Did you get a new boyfriend, eh?" Robert gently punched his daughter, and gave her a wink. Ann blushed: "Knock it off, dad..." She smiled. And forced herself ask. "Could y ou, please, release Gleb? I don't have a grudge against him." "Look, dear," Noirson replied sternly. "The Punishments are not up to me. Until Gleb's alive, I promise not to pursue him. Is it enough for you?" "I love you, dad!" Ann snorted, but looked at her father with concern. "Is somet hing wrong?" "I need your assistance, honey." A confused smile curved Noirson's lips. "Come, I'll show you." They came to the window. Ann looked outside. Angie Belanger was standing near No irson's car, and looked around with curiosity. Ann gazed at his father with amazement: "Are you gonna divorce?" "No," Robert sighed. "I don't know, how to explain. I love your mother. I do lov e Mary! But without that girl I don't want to live at all." "Oh, dad!" Ann hugged him again. "Can she live with you for a while?" Noirson asked hesitantly. "I need her to be safe." "Sure, daddy! I'll be glad! Honest!" the girl looked through the window again. " Tell her to come here." *** Ann looked at Belanger, then glanced at Noirson. He was worried, and some kind o f pain pricked Ann's heart. Besides, the sheepish eyes of Angie, and her shy tim idity touched the girl. "Welcome, Angie!" She shook Belanger's hand. Ann saw the face of Robert light up with happiness and she smiled.

On the island Her biological parents loved to have sex. And Ann liked it too. Half of year had passed since she broke up with Gleb, and the girl started to feel discomfort. S he tried having a few "sessions" with Irene. However, they only decreased her te nsion, but did not terminate it. During her meetings with Michael, Ann forgot about everything. However, by the s econd weekend without him, the girl was angry and felt vexation. She stopped taking her other bodyguards as companions. When Ann went somewhere, she left them with Angie. Irene was next to Ann all the time, and the girl did n ot feel alone.

*** Ann liked this rest area. It was placed on the bank of a river, and had a very b eautiful view of a few small islands. She and Irene were preparing chicken for a barbecue, when some guys came to them. The girls remembered them from the unive rsity, and they did not refuse their offer to have a party together. It was five youths and two girls. They brought potato chips and beer. Ann looked at the guys and chose one athlete with short black curly hair. He was taller than she was, and Ann liked it. His name was Andr and he was Brazilian. H e was an amazing talker. He told her about Rio-de-Janeiro's festivals. He went i nto details, he sang, played the guitar, and Ann listened with admiration. When they were dancing, Ann almost lost herself. She was not really drunk. Her p arents were able to drink like fish, and her big powerful body could accept a lo t of alcohol without losing control. But a hot August evening, romantic stories, sexy music, and the company of nice guys made her feel insane. She laughed, sang and did not mind that these youths spoke Portuguese and that she did not understand exactly what they were talking about. Ann did not notice who offered to move the party to some island. But everybody l iked the idea. Somebody somehow got a jet boat, and they all placed themselves i n it together. They had a little ride, chose the island, and landed. On the island they drank, and danced again, and everything seemed great. *** It was as if she suddenly had awoken from a deep sleep. She found herself with A ndr and his pal, and they were kissing and caressing her. She was still dressed, but these guys had already started to take her clothes off. Ann squealed, and sprang up. Surprised, the youths allowed her to do it. Ann sob ered up at once, and looked around with terror. It was night time, the only ligh ts were across the river, awfully far away. The other girls were gone, and Ann d id not remember when and how that had happened. Only Irene was sitting on the gr ass. She was talking with another guy, but she heard Ann's screech and gazed at her. "Come on," the youths got up. "What's going on?" "I changed my mind," Ann mumbled. She recalled the story that her mother told he r. Mary had left her gun at home just once, and she had been unable to protect h er son, and he was killed. Ann was an obedient girl, she used to carry a gun wit h her. But Michael hated all kinds of weapons, and she stopped taking it to thei r meetings. Now Ann was unarmed, and her hair stood on end when she saw that the se guys were drunk and angry. "Do you think it's funny?" Andr's voice sounded with spite. "Don't play the fool! " Ann felt panic. Though she was not a virgin and she liked sex, the thought of ra pe horrified the girl. Suddenly she discovered Irene was between her and these guys. Ann was amazed whe n the girl stealthily handed her a gun.

"Come on, guys! Come on!" Irene said loudly. "Do you know who her parents are?" Ann heard Irene's voice as through cotton. The girl was persuading the youths, a nd two of them started to hesitate. But Andr said something in Portuguese, and th ey resolutely stepped forward again. And Irene hit Andr. She threw him backward a nd everybody gasped with astonishment when that huge guy flew off like a small b oy, and rolled head over heels. "Get out!" Irene held a gun ready to fire. Ann lifted her gun also. The youths s tepped back, called them a few dirty names, then left. Andr got up. Suddenly he snatched out his own gun and shot, but Irene pushed Ann and the bullet whistled by them. Next, Irene swatted his gun away. "Don't make me kill you!" She said through clenched teeth. Andr looked around, an d found himself abandoned. His pals left him, he was alone, and he did not dare to attack these girls. Without a word he turned away and walked into the darknes s. Trembling with stress, Ann sat on the grass. "Irene," She mumbled. "Oh, my! Thank you! How did you do that?" Suddenly she und erstood. "Did my parents appoint you to look after me?" Irene came to her and knelt: "Yes, my Lady! But I beg you, don't dismiss me! I'l l have a "ride to Hell", if you wish to do that!" "Irene, my friend!" Ann helped her get up. "You've saved me, and I'll never forg et that! Ask me whatever you wish for! My parents rule the Earth, you can ask an ything!" "My Lady! Just allow me to follow you always!" "Deal!" Ann laughed nervously. "But if you wish something else, feel free to ask !" Irene smiled with gratitude. She took out her cell-phone and made a call.

Rhoda The organizer of the trip gave detailed instructions about the place for a meeti ng. But Ann had just received a call from Michael, and so she missed a few point s. She hoped Irene would remember the route. Besides that, they were giving a ri de to a girl named Rhoda, who had no car. Rhoda was very serious girl, so Ann wa s sure she would tell them the way. They reached the village without any trouble, but where they had to go now, the girls had no idea. Finally, they parked in a parking lot between a gas station a nd a local bar, and Irene went to find someone who would know how to reach the f arm they were supposed to meet at. It was a very hot day. Ann felt sleepy and was not in the mood for study. On a d ay like this she would rather go to the beach or pool, or just stay at home and turn the air-conditioner to maximum power.

A few farm guys were doing something near their trucks. They noticed two nice gi rls and, not leaving their job, they started flirting with them. Frowning, Rhoda did not reply. Ann found that funny, and flirted back just to kill the time. Finally Irene came to her Lady. "We're almost there," She said to the girls. "We have two ways. One is a path th rough the forest. It can take about thirty minutes to walk it. Or we can drive a round, and it should take about the same time, maybe a little longer. So?" "Let's walk!" Ann suggested at once. "I love the forest, and my butt's tired of sitting!" *** They were deep in the forest when Rhoda glanced back and gasped. The other girls looked also. The farm guys followed them. The young men were still talking with each other, and from time to time they burst out laughing. "My God!" Rhoda was startled. "Ann! Why did you flirt with them! They're gonna r ape us now for sure!" Ann recalled Andr. That incident had happened less than a week ago, and she calle d herself stupid. Irene prepared her gun. "Don't worry!" She said with clenched teeth. "They're wrong if they think they c an do that so easy!" "Let's go, let's go!" Worried, Ann hastened Rhoda. "Let's just go! The farm is n ot far away, there we would be safe!" Although they walked as fast as they could, the men were still the same distance behind them. Rhoda started weep. "I'm a virgin!" She cried. "What if they all rape us? Oh, God! Please, no!" "Pull yourself together!" Irene hissed angrily. "I'm a professional! I'm able to kill them all!" "Let's use the gun as the last way for defense!" Ann frowned. "Sure, Ann!" Irene grinned. "I can kill with my brass-knuckles, shiv, or black-j ack, or even my bare hands!" "No killing!" Ann became angry. "As you wish, my Lady!" "Knock your off with jokes!" Rhoda sobbed. "I can't stand it any longer! Let's g o back! Please!" "Shut up, stupid!" Irene looked around. "They are behind us! Wanna run straight to their hands? Go! Good luck!" "Girls, girls, please!" Ann tried to stay under control. "Irene, you have a phon e! If something goes wrong, you can call!" "Call now! Call now!" Rhoda was close to hysteria. The girls moved aside, and Ir ene blocked them with herself.

The men were getting closer. And closer. Ann hugged trembling Rhoda. Still talking, the guys passed them. They did not even look at the girls, just t hrew a few glances. That was all. Shocked, the girls stood there for a long time. "Rhoda, you are the stupidest thing ever!" finally Irene said. "No, I am more st upid, because I fell for your paranoid fantasy!" Ann burst out laughing. "Well, they didn't even try!" She giggled. "That's not nice! Maybe we wouldn't r esist too much, eh?" She gave Rhoda a wink, but the angry girl tore herself off Ann's hands, and continued to walk. *** They finally reached the farm. They met the other students. They got to know the guys who had "stalked" them in the forest. These young men were all nice, and a little shy, and when Ann was leaving the farm, she felt a l ight sadness about her wrong thoughts. She was glad that all the worries were groundless, and that the number of good p eople greatly outnumbered the scoundrels. Her love to all mankind overflowed, an d she thought with gratitude about her beloved Michael, who had taught her to fe el that way.

Birthday Today was Noah's thirteenth birthday, nevertheless, he was alone, hungry and col d. He saw a police car and hid in the closest building. His legs could not hold him so the teenager sat on the steps and moaned with weakness. He saw a man coming downstairs. The man looked at him, and said something, but N oah did not understand. He was so tired. He wanted to sleep. "Come with me!" the man told to him, and the teenager plodded after him. When they entered the apartment, Noah glanced around. He saw some dumbbells, an exercise machine, posters on the walls showing buff looking athletes, and the te enager thought he understood the situation. The man heated some food while Noah sat at the table. The teenager slowly ate th e meal, enjoying the feeling of hot food warm in his emaciated body. Then he got up, and started to undress. "What are you doing?" the man wondered. "I'm not stupid." Noah's voice sounded tiredly. "You're gay, aren't you? Nobody feeds me without this." "I am gay, but I'm not a pedophile," the man shook his head. "What, did you run away from home? Why? Stepfather? Uncle? Cousin?"

Noah sat down again and wept: "Today is my birthday!" Closing his eyes, he sobbe d hysterically. The man came closer, and touched the forehead of the teenager. "Oh, my!" He gasped. "You're sick! Come here!" Noah did not argue. They went to the bedroom, the man helped Noah take off his c lothes, and put him to bed. Noah thought the man would lie down too, but he just covered the teenager with a thick soft blanket, and gave him some medicine. "I'm Jason," the man introduced himself. "What is your name?" "Noah." "How old are you?" "Twelve... Thirteen now." "Damn! And how long have you lived on the street?" The teenager did not reply. He felt warm and calm. He started falling asleep. "I swear, Noah!" Jason took the first magazine, and put his hand on the photo of a male as if it was a Bible. "Until you're eighteen no one will touch you again ! Even me! Even if you want them to! After that, it will be up to you, but now I will protect you, Noah, I promise, I swear..." But the teenager did not hear him any longer. *** To Noah's surprise, Jason kept his word, and the teenager came back to life. Jas on somehow got a new Id for his young friend, and took care of him like a real f ather, or older brother. After the teenager became healthy again, Jason started to harden, train, and coa ch him, and they worked out every day. He taught the teenager some methods of se lf-defense, and how to handle different kinds of weapons. And a few years later when Noah found a job as a guard, it was because of this practice. Grateful, Noah was ready to do anything for Jason, but the man was inflexible. "On your eighteenth birthday, no earlier!" He repeated all the time. *** Noah walked along the street, he went back home from school, and saw a crowd bea ting Jason. Though Noah hated fighting, now his blood rushed to his head, he flung himself a t these people, he threw them in all directions, he was so mad, and probably loo ked really scary, because they ran away in spite of their numbers. But Jason was already dead, and it happened just two days before Noah's eighteen th birthday... ***

Noah sighed, drove away his memories, and addressed Angie: "It's pretty sad to b e far away from your loved one. But to spend a birthday without him, it's simply awful." Belanger nodded. She looked over a beautiful basket of roses and gifts from Noir son, but it could not decrease her desire to be with her lover again. However, R obert dared not visit her even on her birthday. "Let's go to a movie? Or some restaurant? To celebrate, eh?" Noah suggested. The bodyguard had pity for the girlfriend of his Master, and wanted her cheer up. N oah felt no disgust with females, he just did not take them as sexual objects, a nd Angie knew that. However, she was too upset for any kind of fun, and she shoo k her head, refusing his offer. Noah sighed and went to the window. "Girls!" He called a few seconds later. "Look how beautiful it is! I bet, if any one drew that they would say it was not natural!" Angie and Irene neared him and looked outside. It was early evening. The very clear-cut clouds did not move on the dark blue sk y, and the sunset glowed on them in reddish gold colors. For a long time they just silently stood there watching that sight. A car parked in front of the building. "Brian!" Noah smiled. "Ann!" Irene gasped with admiration. Belanger felt depression. She closed her eyes and tried to imaging her lover had come here as well. "I love you..." She wanted to cry. "I love you, my Lord..." "Angie!" Ann called as she entered. "You studied medical technology didn't you? Could you help me with a project?" "Sure!" Belanger sighed, and followed Ann. She was glad to drive her thoughts aw ay from dreams about her lover. Besides, Ann was his daughter, and Angie knew ho w Robert loved this girl. And Belanger tried to be nice and helpful to Ann to pl ease her Master.

Angie is back Quietly, Mary walked into her son's bedroom and gazed at him. Mark slept naked, and Mary noticed with gladness that he had started gaining strength. During thei r whole common life his leanness made the woman worry. She straightened the shee ts, covered her son, and carefully petted his hair. Smiling, she whispered all t he tender words that she knew. For a few minutes she just sat there, keeping her eyes on him. Finally she sighe d, and left his apartment. And she met her husband. A servant helped him walk. Robert staggered along the c

orridor. He saw his wife, and stopped, panting with weariness. Mary came close, and the servant stepped aside. "Honey," Mary whispered as she hugged her husband. "Why don't you use a wheelcha ir... sometimes? It's nothing to be ashamed of!" "Oh, I'm so old, am I?" He snarled at her with sad spite. "Don't say such nonsense," Mary retorted calmly. "A lot of people much younger t han you have to use wheelchairs. I couldn't just watch you suffer. If you were a paralytic, I would still love you, my silly Beast!" Robert closed his eyes. He felt guilty. He missed Angie dreadfully, he needed he r awfully, but he could not tell his wife that, and he tried to block his though ts as well as he could. Nevertheless Mary sensed that. "What are you trying to hide?" She asked derisively. "Did she make you upset?" "I sent her out." Mary's eyes flashed with hope. "Why?" She asked tenderly. Noirson glanced at her, and Mary felt bitterness. He could not lie to her, but he did not want to tell her the truth. And the woman u nderstood that while vainly waiting for the answer which she dearly wished to he ar. "I'm very tired, sorry." his voice sounded gloomy. "May I go?" "Did I ever try to hinder you?" Moaning, Robert anxiously hugged his wife, called the servant and walked away. Mary stayed. She was thinking. Suddenly she guessed. She quickly went back to th e apartment of her son and woke him. "Did you tell Robert to send Angie out?" She shouted at the perplexed youth. "Mom..." He mumbled. "How could you!" She yelled. "How dare you! You have no right..." But her voice broke to sobs. She could not be angry at her son. "Mommy, please!" Mark hugged her. "I wanted you happy! I love you, mom!" She put her head on his shoulder, and wept with hopeless depression. *** "I had a talk with Mark," Mary said calmly. The Noirsons were having breakfast, and Robert glanced at his wife, then at his son with surprise. But Mark did not look at his father. "Miss Belanger will be here this afternoon," Mary continued with the same cold v oice. Noirson gazed at her. Mark rose, kissed his mother and went away. Then Rob ert got up also, came to his wife and timidly hugged her. "Not a word!" Mary embraced him. "Just keep silent, okay?" She felt close to tea rs. But Robert started to kiss and pet her as he knew she loved, and his wonderf ul caressing, and his tacit gratitude caused the woman to forgive her husband ag

ain as had happened many times before during their tough common life.

Chapter Twelve: Love and fight Vera Some kids and teenagers feel the need to steal, through shoplifting or burglary. Usually this strange wish can be suppressed by the mind, but some people can no t restrain themselves. The parents of Vera were not poor, but they called themselves "practical". Vera's first memory was of a birthday present given to her by her mother. A plas tic teddy-bear. It was ugly and scary, hard and had a disgusting smell, but her mother smiled and told her father: "Look, what a practical toy! She can chew it, or drop it in a puddle! No matter! It will still be good!" All the following toys were the same. Very, very practical. So, Vera started to steal nice toys from other kids. Her parents caught her, and her father gave her such a belting that the girl could not sit for almost a week. It did not change Vera's mind. She was just more careful. She never brought stol en toys home anymore, Vera hid them and played when she had time. Her hobby became her job when she met Adam. They had been dating about two year; Vera was just fifteen, but her boyfriend got a fake Id for her, and the girl le ft her home, she was ready to do anything for Adam. Adam did not limit their "work" to burglaries. Vera loved him very much, and nev er refused, when he asked her to deliver "stuff" for his clients, and usually sh e was doing that without any problems. Miniature, Vera was not ugly, yet so plai n that even for the police it was a difficult task to remember her face. But this day their luck ran out. While the police chased her Vera had dumped the bags with the powder. Then the p olicemen arrested her, and searched her carefully, they found nothing, and had t o let her go. Mad, Vera went back to her boyfriend, and she did not notice she had been shadow ed. Vera was humiliated; she was trembling after such stress, and she needed support , but Adam started shouting at her. He got angry that she had failed the "operat ion", and they lost a lot of money. He talked to her the same way as her parents had and that made Vera insane. When she took his gun Adam did not turn a hair. He knew how Vera loved him. It was an automatic pistol, and Vera kept firing until the police burst into the apartment and shot her.

Jonathan and Vera

In the servant's restaurant, Jonathan Moreland was siting at the counter talking with a maid. He was beautiful, he was new enough, and he had a romantic past, s o Noirson's females paid him more attention than any other man. And the former p irate knew how to treat them. Now, he was telling the maid a story, half true, h alf made up, and the girl was listening him, her mouth open with delight. Yet his eyes still searched the hall. He knew most of these females, and he was looking for someone new. Suddenly he noticed a girl. In the middle of the hall the young people were danc ing. They were all dancing together, but from time to time couples separated from the group, and started dancing aside, or moved to the counter or a table, or even l eft the hall for some other kind of fun. This girl was not beautiful, however, she was young, fresh, and that was enough for Jonathan. He had a few pals next to him all the time, and now he called one of them. This guy had worked here longer and he was like an information desk for Jonathan. "Who is she?" He whispered to his pal. "The girl in the light blue dress?" "Her name is Vera," the servant was surprised. "She's the fave maid of our Lady. Do you like her? I thought you only looked for beauties." Jonathan snored. He kept his eyes on this girl, and when she finally glanced at him, he waved to her. She smiled, and waved back, but she did not moved towards him. She just kept dancing. Moreland got up and neared her. "Would you like to dance with me?" He gave her a wink. "Are you going to dance with a pipe in your mouth?" Vera asked derisively. Jonat han smiled, and put out his pipe. "And wearing a cap?" Vera continued, still dancing. Moreland took off his captai ns cap, and ceremonially bowed: "Now, mademoiselle, what will you tell me?" "Now, I have to tell you," Vera grinned. "I don't dance with such guys!" She rep eated his waving gesture, and continued dancing, ignoring the confused Jonathan. He shrugged his shoulders, put his cap back on, and returned to the counter. *** The next morning he saw her again. Jonathan was at his post near the door of Mar y's apartment, and Vera came out holding some clothes. It was very early, nobody was around. He stepped towards the maid, and hugged her. She lifted her face. "You're a professional thief-girl, aren't you?" Jonathan asked her with an inten tionally stern voice. "You stole something from me!" "Really?" Vera did not turn a hair.

"You stole my heart, you little witch..." He wanted to kiss her, but the girl ma de an elusively fast motion, and before he had time to react she pressed to his throat the muzzle of her gun. "Did your informer tell you, how I got to come to this place?" She asked calmly. "I killed my lover, when he became too rude with me. Wanna be next?" Jonathan released her. Suddenly Vera tiptoed, and fervidly kissed Jonathan on his mouth. She took her lips away, and laughed. Vera put the clothes into the laundry cart, and left. But for a long time, the impressed and taken aback, thoroughly enchan ted by her actions Jonathan just stood still. And only Mary walking out from her apartment made him come back to his senses.

In the change room Diana was in the change room when Noirson's butler, Roger Slay, entered. He gave a few instructions and orders to the other girls, then addressed her: "Next mon th you can have two more days, choose from twelfth to twenty fifth." "Mr. Slay, sir," Diana hastily said. Ronald now has a part-time job, sliding sch edule and she dared to ask. "Can I allocate those forty eight hours to six days, eight hours per day?" He stared at her, she had never asked such things before. "Don't block your mind," Slay warned. Diana sensed the Contact. She hated this f eeling. It was like an examination by a gynecologist, but worse, because it turn ed up the innermost thoughts in her soul. "An outsider, eh? Be careful, girl!" the butler grinned. "Give me her schedule," He addressed his helper. Roger Slay checked the paper, made a few notes, and re turned it to the helper. "But remember! Don't be late!" Grateful, Diana pressed her hands to her chest. She smiled with happiness. She w as ready to do anything as payment. The butler had read her thoughts and he laug hed. "I don't need this from you," He shook his head. "Keep your knowledge for your c lients, and your passion for your lover." "Why her?" another dancer yelled indignantly. "I asked so many times, but you ne ver give me the opportunity to change my schedule!" "She's in Love." Roger Slay explained calmly. "I'm in love too!" "You're in heat, baby!" the butler screwed up his eyes. "I can make out! Our Mas ters have true love, and even God the Creator can't control such a feeling! It's the most sacred thing ever! I'm always surprised, when you, humans, don't value it!" He snored, and left.

The dancer roared, grabbed a hair-pin and rushed at Diana. Deep in her thoughts Diana did not see her coming, and the dancer hit her in the face a few times. Diana squealed with awful pain. She threw the girl away, she saw her blood flowi ng down like water from a faucet. Diana touched her face and realized that she c ould not see with her left eye. Suddenly she understood that she had lost it, an d she fainted.

Slay and Lucy Two hours later in the central building downtown, Roger Slay walked along the co rridor. He was doing his usual inspection. However, Diana's sincere love impress ed him, and made him smile dreamily. He thought about his own love, and went to the advertising section where they we re working on a new commercial. He entered the office of Lucy Bruyere, the chief of this department. She was sitting next to her secretary. They both were watch ing a new video clip, and Lucy explained what had to be changed. She was human, and Slay was worried about her all the time. He knew, how his Mas ter valued him. Roger was sure, if something happened to his sweetheart, Robert would not hesitate to use all his Power to help his closest servant and valet, a nd once before Noirson already had. *** Roger remembered the day quite clearly. The number on the display of his phone was unknown to him, and surprised, Slay a nswered the call: "Hello? Who is this?" "Hi Roger," the voice of Lucy Bruyere sounded so strange that it amazed Slay. "I want to say, I'm going to quit my job... And our dating also. Sorry. Good bye." And she hung up. Astonished, Roger was still for a few seconds. He looked at the number and made a call. "Where was that call from?" He asked. He heard the answer, and he gasped. *** Lucy browsed through the pages of a brochure that the doctor gave her. She was n ot the first person, who became a cripple in one day. She refused a second dose of anesthetic, and tried to withstand the pain. Lucy Bruyere wanted to think cle arly all the time. Car accident... Hah! She sighed. Well, thank God, she was ali ve, and that was enough. Lucy thought about Slay, and the awful pang was much wo rse than any other suffering struck her. But she suppressed her feelings at once . "It's over," She whispered, "My new life has started. He's just a dream now." "You have a visitor." Lucy heard, turned her head, and was still in shock, seein g Roger next to the nurse. The medic smiled and left. Slay stared at Lucy, and i n his eyes she saw such sorrow that she burst into tears.

"Forget about me, Roger..." was all that she able to say, she covered her face w ith her hands. He did not reply. When she lowered her arms, she saw Slay was gon e, and she took a deep breath. She called the nurse, and asked about another sho t. *** Lucy heard some sounds and opened her eyes. She was surprised. Her employer ente red the ward. She saw Slay. Her haughty, stern male looked at Noirson ingratiati ngly like a dog asking his master about something. Robert neared Bruyere, and looked at her. "My Father, Roger!" He turned to his valet, and started speaking Italian: "Non gli hai ancora detto la Verita e chiedi a me di farlo!" "You didn't tell her the Truth yet and you dared to ask me to do this!" / Italia n "Che cosa farai se lei non accetta?" Noirson's eyes grew narrow. "What are you going to do if she doesn't accept it?" / Italian "Conosco le regole," Slay bent his head. "I know the rules," / Italian "Maestro, la mia mano non uccidera'ancora, giuro!" "Master, my hand won't falter then, I swear!" / Italian "Io capisco l'Italiano!" Lucy interrupted them. "I understand Italian!" / Italian Males stared at her and Bruyere shrugged her shoulders: "What? Do you want to ki ll me? Why? Don't you want to pay my insurance? Do it, Roger, I'm alone. Damn, i t's the best solution for me, honest." "Brave girl!" Noirson smiled. "You are a very good worker, I don't want to lose you!" He stretched out his arm, and touched Bruyere. She gasped feeling her legs again. Robert nodded: "Good luck, Roger!" and he left. And Slay told Lucy everything. *** Bruyere silently thought for a while. "Can I see your real appearance?" She asked. Roger hesitated, then resolutely ma de a motion as if he took off a coat. She did not gasp, she did not scream, she looked at him without saying a word. "Thank you." They kept silent for a few minutes.

"Are you really going to kill me if I wish to leave you?" Slay grinned, and Lucy laughed. "But maybe you're going to think, I will stay, because I'm afraid of death?" "I can read your thoughts," He retorted. "Just open your mind to me." She did. Her eyes were glistening with tears of love and gratitude, and, sincere ly touched, Roger embraced her. *** However, in some situations even his Master was powerless, and Slay knew that be tter than anyone else. And he was worried sick about her all the time he was not with her. Especially now. She was pregnant. "We're now two weeks behind schedule!" Lucy addressed Roger. "We need more peopl e! My best workers are busy because of that stupid "fish scandal!" Can I count o n your assistance?" "Be sure, Miss Bruyere." Slay gave her a wink, and she smiled, understanding his hint. His cell-phone rung, and Roger answered the call. His face went gloomy. "Damn humans," He mumbled with spite. He glanced at Lucy, she watched him with c oncern. The secretary tactfully left the room, and Bruyere quickly came to Roger and anxiously hugged him. "Don't worry, honey," He sighed. "A usual event. One nice girl has been injured. I had just talked with her. Damn..." He dialed the number, looked at the tablea u, and he frowned. He thought for a while. "The Master is busy, but I hate to as k Her..." Lucy tenderly petted his gray thick hair. She smiled: "What a poor girl, eh?" Slay laughed and kissed his sweetheart: "Finally, it is my duty, isn't it?" And he made the call.

Mary and Diana "Why me?" the angry Mary was speaking the phone. "Where is my husband? The enter tainment is his department! Why do I have to waste the Power?" She sighed. "Who am I kidding? Send her." Soon Diana, with a bloodstained bandage on her face, strolled into the room. Mary shook her head, took the bandage off, and cured the girl. "Go, take a shower." She told Diana. "Thank you, my Lady!" Diana kissed Mary's hand and went towards the door, but sh e stopped.

"What do you want to ask?" Mary understandably smiled. She knew the past of the girl, and had pity for her. "Mr. Slay said, you have a true love... Is that true?" "I hope so." Mary replied calmly. "I love one man... But he doesn't love me." "Why are you so sure?" "He despises me." "It's not a signal," Mary sighed. "I had a man, who was just crazy about me. Onc e I outraged him, and he brutally raped me, and if he didn't beat me during that it's because he was a professional, and he made me give in with one hand. After he came back to his senses, he asked me to marry him. And the same day that poo r guy was killed because of me. How about that?" All eyes, the girl stared at her Lady. "You know my husband loves me," Mary snored. "But everybody knows about Angie. W hat do you think now?" Diana was confused, she did not know that she possibly could reply. "My point is," Mary explained. "If you love someone, take him as he is, don't ho pe to change him. But maybe he will change his opinion about you... It happens o ften. However, no one can guarantee it. No one. Sorry." "Thank you very much, my Lady!" the girl curtseyed, and left. "Good luck, poor you!" Mary mumbled, following Diana with her eyes.

The sandwich Diana was hungry. She was awfully hungry. Today she was dancing until 5 a.m., af ter she "worked" with one man from her list for almost an hour. Then she got a l ittle sleep. Ronald told her to be on that bench at 11 a.m. and Diana did not want to be late . She fell onto the bench, checked her watch, and smiled. She got here just in t ime. But a few minutes later, she felt hungry. Only now Diana recalled, she had no br eakfast, and the last time she ate was yesterday at 4 p.m. However, she was afra id to miss Bennett, and decided to wait for him at any price. *** The guy was eating a sandwich. Wonderful sandwich with lettuce and ham! He felt her gaze and turned his head. He leered at her, and came closer, and sat next to her. "Are you waiting for me, sexy?" He gave her a wink, and Diana realized, this guy

misunderstood her hungry look. She gulped, and glanced at the "Subway" across t he street. "Buddy," She asked uncertainly. "I have to meet someone here, I can't leave! Cou ld you buy me a sandwich, please?" She took out some money. "Are you waiting for your boyfriend?" his voice sounded with disappointment. "He's not my boyfriend," Diana blushed. But that guy misunderstood again. "Ah!" He smiled. "Right! I have to talk with your pimp first. So, he's gonna com e soon, eh?" "Very soon, I hope..." Diana was so hungry! It was no matter that this guy was t hinking about her. "Please, just one sandwich and coffee, okay?" A few minutes later, he came back with a paper bag. First of all Diana drank the coffee, then she took the sandwich. But she only to ok one bite. This guy told her some very open-minded commentary about her mouth and his plans for it. Diana lost her appetite immediately. She barely swallowed the piece, and put the sandwich back into the bag. She desired to slap this impu dent person, and she wanted to weep. Probably she closed her eyes, because suddenly she discovered that guy was gone, and she saw a very young policeman coming to her. He looked at her with suspici on. "Did you see this man?" He showed her a picture, and Diana involuntarily gasped. It was that guy, who was flirting with her. "What's going on?" Diana saw Ronald and she smiled. "That guy bought a sandwich for me." She said to the policeman. But she stopped when she saw contempt on the face of Bennett. "How long did you wait for me?" He shook his head. "And you tried to get a clien t, eh?" "Ronald!" the pain sounded in her voice. "Why do you try to offend me all the ti me?" "Because I hate hypocrites! You're such a poor lamb, eh? You're a whore! And don 't pretend to be something else!" "You two," the young policeman frowned. "Show your IDs! And without any foolishn ess!" "Son," Ronald addressed him. "I was a cop myself! We did nothing! Leave us alone !" "Then all the more!" the policeman demonstratively touched his holster. But Bennett got mad, and he started argue. He should not do that. The incident b ecame worse. Another policeman joined his colleague, and they arrested them both . ***

The policemen took Bennett somewhere, and Diana's hands were trembling, while sh e was making a call. Noirson's protection worked. The policemen let them go.

Diana's confession Bennett kept glum silence, he was confused and angry with himself. Diana looked at him, and ventured to talk. She was unable to stand this treatmen t from him, whom she loved, anymore. "You're right." Diana started with effort. "I am a stripper! I am a whore! And I 'm working for the Noirsons!" Ronald gasped. "I'm not a spy," She smiled sadly. "Wanna know the whole Truth? Okay, listen up. .." And she told him her entire story. *** "I'm sorry, girl!" He hugged her, and Diana closed her eyes with feeling of happ iness. "You should leave that place immediately! We lost Valerie and Arthur. Eno ugh!" "No, Ronald," the girl wanted kiss him, but dared not. "I have to stop Bill. I b elong to them. They can find me everywhere. I'm doomed, but I don't want the sam e fate, that I have, I don't want the same fate for anyone, even my worst enemy! I'll do it at any price. But you have to take Edward and leave the city. Maybe you'll survive." "No way, girl!" Bennett laughed, and released her. "I'm a kamikaze. But you're r ight about Edward. He lost his girl, I don't want him to die too." "How about those scientists?" Diana asked. "The bat ruined their work. I hope th ey will believe me and my story... Oh, Ronald! I have no education! I need someo ne to help me with the lab stuff. Nothing should remain! But it's deadly dangero us! What do you think?" "We have to warn them," Bennett sighed. "I don't know about Fred, but Alex is a family guy. If he refuses, it would be understandable." *** "Guys, I'll be with you to the end." Alex Darcheson replied calmly. "I have two daughters. I don't want such things to happen to them." "I'm single," Fred shrugged his shoulders. "It would be fun to save the world, e h?" He burst out laughing. "If you dismiss me," Edward challenged. "I'll take that as an act of racism!" "If you say such nonsense," Ronald snorted. "I'll take that as an act of boyishn

ess, and I'll dismiss you for sure! It's serious, son!" "I have to avenge my girlfriend," Edward said resolutely. "Dismiss me! And I'll do it alone!" "I'll try to help you to get into the lab, and we'll just blow it up," Diana sig hed and looked at his comrades. "I'm not afraid to die in an explosion. For me t his is the only way to avoid the Punishment." They discussed this until night time, yet they did not make any decision.

Fred Mannochio He did not explain to his partners the real reason he had agreed to fight the So n of the Devil. Fred's pride was badly wounded, and his beloved woman had done i t. *** Mannochio had been dating her for almost a year. They met each other through the Internet. In a chat room they exchanged their sex convictions and some dreams, and suddenly discovered that they lived in the same city. Then they decided to meet in real life. They liked each other, and started datin g. Sivan was her name. She was a little strange. She never gave her address, or phone number, and they arranged their meetings only by e-mail, and finally this mystery so intrigued Fred that he decided to solve it at any price. He was single, so he had plenty of time for "espionage". *** He dropped Sivan as usual near a subway station, but this time he did not drive home. He parked, and followed her. He kept his eyes on her, while he was thinkin g about their relationship. *** She liked having sex with him. Ah, God, she just loved sex, and in that field of life they were soulmates. She was a multiorgasmic woman, and Fred felt pride th at he was able to satisfy that hot female. He was not an awesome man. Short and fat, with black hair. And he liked to visit some public places with Sivan. He thought she was beautiful. Other males glared at them, and all the time Mannochio thought: "Do you see what a woman I have by my side? You do want her, don't you? But she's mine. She's with me." *** Sivan did not notice his stalking. Satisfied and tired, she was dozing off in th e subway car. He followed her. He noted the building she entered, returned to hi s car, and drove there. He parked near the entrance of the building, and started to wait. Something told him, she would come outside. She did. Fred was shocked. Her wonderful hair was tied into an ugly ponytail. Sh

e was wearing some kind of pants, and shapeless T-shirt. He could not believe hi s eyes. Without make-up she looked so plain, he even thought it was another woma n. She dumped a few trash bags, and walked towards the building again. Then she saw his car, and her lover. She gasped. She ran to him, and jumped into the car. "Drive!" She hissed with spite. Fred obeyed. They passed two blocks, then Sivan told him to stop. They kept silent for a few minutes. "Well," She started to not look at him. "That's it! I think you understand that it's our last meeting." "Why?" He was astonished. "I'm married." Mannochio snorted. He had this suspicion. "I don't mind," He leered at her. "But I do." "But I ask for just a few hours per week. Your hubby can have you for the rest o f the time." "No, Fred," She smiled. "I've decided to cancel our dating. I'm tired of feeling guilty. My husband is the best. I'm just a bitch that was cheating on him." "Who is you husband?" "He's a firefighter," Sivan pronounced proudly. "He's risking his life, but he's saving people! He's not like you," She snorted, and made a few motions, as if s he was typing. *** This is why Fred Mannochio was ready for any action. He broke up with Sivan, and had never met her again, but he could not forget her scornful expression. He did not confess even to himself, how deeply he was hurt, and he was ready eve n to die, but to prove that it was possible to save someone using intellect, not just primitive physical power.

Diana and Ronald Finally her dreams came true. Diana laughed. They were making love, and for the first time in her life that br ought her pleasant feelings.

She was kissing his stern face and strong, well-built body. She caressed him, gi ving vent to all her saved tenderness and love. Overflowing with happiness, she panted, and felt sweet dizziness. Just one thing was making her a little upset. Ronald kept silent, and almost did not respond to her caressing. *** "Well, are you happy now?" Bennett leered at her and took a pack of cigarettes. "You didn't like that?" Confused, Diana mumbled with effort. He sighed. "I bet, your boobies are synthetic, aren't they?" Ronald shook his head. "Oh, gi rl! I felt as I was making love with a skeleton!" and he laughed. She gazed at him with sincere pain in her eyes, and she cried. "Sorry..." He petted her shoulder. "You're beautiful, just not my type." "Do you wanna see how I looked before, eh?" She shouted angrily. "Look!" She grabbed her purse, and threw a few photos on the bed, and Bennett took them with curiosity. He browsed through the pictures. To his surprise, her previous f ace seemed familiar. Suddenly he recalled... *** He got out of his police car and walked towards the building. A plump teenage gi rl saw him, and waved her hand. She smiled: "Thank God! Hurry up!" Ronald went closer, and involuntarily leered at her. That short sturdy girl with nave, waiting eyes touched something in his soul. Shaggy, she looked like a hair y kitten, or a lap doggie. One of Ronald's pals had a Lhasa Apso, and, looking a t that girl, Bennett recalled that dog. He smiled. Strange dreams appeared into his mind. A winter day. Chilled and hung ry, he went back home after his shift. Into a warm cozy living room, nice wife s itting in the armchair, and fantastic, mysterious light from the fireplace glowe d around her. A knitted work on her lap, and a hot turkey on the table... "How lucky I am," Bennett thought. "I found the best woman ever. I found my soul mate " "Wake up! She's just a child!" Ronald said to himself as he came back to his sen ses. He shook his head, and resolutely stepped towards the girl: "What happened? " "The snake!" The girl stretched out her hand. "Where?" alarmed, he took out his gun, but the girl gasped. "Are you crazy or what?" She shouted with indignation. "I saved it from a crow, and you wanna kill it?" He looked at her with amazement: "Then what do I have to do?" "Diana!" a woman came out the building. "I called the Animal Control. Is the sna ke still here?" All together, they carefully walked to the wall and started to move the grass wi th sticks.

"Are you sure it was a snake?" Bennett glanced at the girl with suspicion. Somet imes teenagers call police just for fun. Suddenly a long snake rushed past them and hid behind a rock. "Stay calm!" Ronald told them and himself. "Now we know where it is." The girl laughed, and her tender laughing sounded like a ringing silver bell. "I found her," Bennett thought again. "I found the girl from my dreams " *** "It was you?" Bennett gasped, and stared at the girl. "My God! Don't you remembe r me?" Diana felt confused. "I do remember that event, but... Sorry... You were just a policeman..." "What have they done to you?" He hugged her. "Oh, poor girl... We'll make them s top... I swear..."

The toad Alex Darcheson went back home, under the impression of Diana's confession. He did not believe in the Devil's part, but the idea about using these viruses f or controlling weight was very tempting. However, he recalled the bat in the lab oratory, and his lost work, and he became confused. Anyway, a bat had some part in the death of Valerie, and Arthur was killed also. Darcheson thought about his family, and felt concerned. Deep in thought, Alex was eating his supper in the kitchen. Suddenly his daughters in their room on the second floor started screaming. "Daddy! Daddy!" they called him with deadly horror in their voices. Alex rushed upstairs. Now he believed in everything. Awfully scary thoughts flas hed into his mind. An assassin, a rapist, a sadist, a maniac... He was ready to die, but save his kids. He burst into their room and stood still for a second. A monstrously huge bullfrog was sitting on one of the beds. The animal was the s ize of a basketball. It stared at his daughters, then slowly turned towards Darc heson. Gasping, he grabbed this beast, and threw it through the window. A horrible howl sounded on the street. Alex felt his hair stand on end. Hugging each other, the sisters gazed at their father. He slowly went to the window, then looked outsid e.

A woman of middle age was lying on the sidewalk. Darcheson crossed himself. He w as a scientist, he did not believe in God or Devil, but when the amphibian turne d into a human being... She moved. Alex ran downstairs. He grabbed a kitchen knife. If that creature cam e from Hell, he wanted to send it back. Darcheson neared her, but the woman sat up, looked around, and burst into curses . "What bastard threw that damn toad right at my head?" She yelled crazily. Only now the shocked Alex noted the dead frog near the sidewalk, and he hastily hid the knife. Not replying to the indignant woman, who was still swearing and shouting, Darche son slowly went back to the room of his daughters and embraced them with all the love that he had for them. *** He was so happy that the incident had a real explanation, and he did not think h ow that frog could possibly get into the house.

Belonging to Hell Carrying shopping bags, Ronald Bennett and Edward Fogel slowly walked along the street. They went back home after the shopping. Today would be their next meetin g, and they brought some additional snacks. They had almost reached the porch of their building when suddenly a few young pe ople flung themselves at them and blocked their way. "Look at them!" one guy started. "This is our brave cop! Oh, please, please, no! He's gonna arrest me!" "That pig's got a piglet!" another one pushed Edward. "Oink-oink! Where is your Winnie-the-Pooh?" Ronald realized he and Fogel were in trouble. These guys had held a grudge again st him for a long time. Though Edward was scared, he tried to keep his dignity a nd Bennett felt pity and worry for him. Being an ex-policemen, he counted on his training, and decided to defend his young friend to the last breath. He hoped their attackers would not dare kill or cripple them, and everything wou ld be limited to just a beating. But one guy took out a knife and started moving it in front of Edward's face. Ronald thought about his gun. However, he understood, they both would be instant ly killed if he took it out. Suddenly a new white Pontiac stopped near them, Diana got out and gasped seeing her beloved man surrounded by the angry crowd. The attackers turned to the sounds. They looked at the girl, whistled, and made

some remarks. "Run home!" Bennett whispered to Edward. The youth rushed past the attackers and before they realized what was going on he had got inside the building. Some guy s moved to follow him, but went back at once. Their revenge on Bennett was their main point, so they almost did not care about the unknown lad who had escaped. "Hey boys!" suddenly Diana called with such a sexy voice that everybody involunt arily gazed at her. She licked her succulent lips, made a few motions, curved he r body, and caressed her breasts. She started to unbutton her blouse. All the ma les kept their eyes on her hands, and Diana laughed to herself seeing even Benne tt staring at her. At the last button, she moved the flaps aside. They were not breasts. Two strange green claws were there instead. They started unrolling, and everybody screamed with horror. Two huge thick fire-spitting snakes lifted their hairy heads above the shoulders of the girl. And it was possible to see, they were part of her body, and her sk in was shivering with their motions, and her muscles struggled to hold them up. The people rushed in all directions, in a few seconds the street became deserted . Diana ran to a shocked Bennett, the snakes disappeared, and the girl quickly but toned up her blouse. The girl pushed her boyfriend inside the building and locke d the door. "Oh, my God! Oh, God!" Bennett was shaken. "What was that? How did you do that? I saw you naked... Oh, my God!" "Now, would you believe me?" Diana asked dismally. "I belong to Hell, and we can do nothing against my Master! But Bill is just one of his slaves, and we do hav e a chance..." Her voice broke, she hugged Ronald and cried violently.

Diana gets Bill She started her part as usual. Always smiling, she looked down the hall with ind ifference. But suddenly she saw Bill Hamelin. He visited this place rarely. He w as in her list, however, the Noirsons had many dancers and prostitutes; somehow Bill had never asked for her. But now an idea came to Diana. She smiled at him. She got his attention. This ev ening she was dancing as never before, she danced for him only. And Hamelin noti ced it. Diana was not a prostitute. Her norm was one client from her list during each fo rty eight hours, and no servant could force her to change her choice. She saw Ph ilip Moreland frown and go away, and she concentrated all her attention on Bill. Finally he called her to a special cabin, where she shortly repeated the parts t hat he liked most. Hamelin touched her a few times, and grinned. Probably for th

e first time Diana saw his smile. He knew that the body which Diana now had now, had been made with his viruses, and he admired the job that he did. "Wait for me after the show," He told her, but Diana hugged him. "Bill," She curved her body like a snake. "From my childhood I had a dream. I ad ore scientists! Could we do this in your lab?" She caressed him. "Pleeeeeease? I bet, it would be fun! Eh?" He was surprised, but he agreed. *** In the changing room a girl came close to Diana, and pushed her. "Do you think, you're the best?" She shouted at Diana. "Bill is my client!" "He's in my list too," Diana grinned. "And I got him first!" Suddenly Diana came back to her senses. "Mandy," She said softly. "What's wrong? We're not working for the money. It doe sn't matter who's gonna fuck us tonight or tomorrow. You're the same slave girl as I am." "Don't play the naive child!" Mandy pushed her again. "He's Mark's tutor! He's t he tutor of the Master's son!" And she hit Diana. Another girl stepped forward, and Diana realized she was in trouble. To her surprise a girl, named Leera, stood up for her. The security heard the noises and came inside. They stopped the fight and took M andy out for punishment. Diana felt pity for this girl, but it was a usual event among Noirsons servants. Before she left, Leera came to Diana and whispered into her ear: "Please, tell B ill about me, okay?" *** When they came close to the laboratory, Diana touched her earring and turned the micro-camera on. She kissed Bill, while he composed the code to open the door. Bill Hamelin loved his work and his laboratory. He showed the equipment, he expl ained something. Diana did not understand a thing, but her camera was working, a nd it was enough for her. Diana echoed Bill, gasped, and tried to show as much e nthusiasm as possible. She saw the cage with the bats, and she went closer. She had read a little bit about them, and she said a few facts. Bill was delight ed. "They are not ordinary bats," He snorted. "They are my helpers." "They are murderers like you are." This thought was so strong that Diana got fri ghtened, thinking she said it aloud.

In the room Hamelin took her into another room, much smaller than the central room, and Dian a started trembling. She was almost a professional now, but this still horrified her. But Bill, like all her clients, misunderstood her shiver, and he smiled sm ugly. *** Diana did not expect him to be so active. A few times he told her to change posi tions and ways, and all the time she hoped it would be over. But he was insatiable, and finally she felt despair, and only thoughts of Ronald helped her stay in control and not fall into hysterics. Yet everything has an e nd. *** Bill left, and Diana forced herself to continue and complete her task. Her legs were giving way under her, she wanted to weep and felt sick. But she made an eff ort, and took some pictures of the last few pages of the lab book, of computer, and she took three empty disks as examples. Suddenly somebody entered the room. Startled, Diana spun to the sound. It was An gie Belanger. She gazed at Diana with surprise. "Are you okay?" Angie felt pity for that girl. She looked worn out, with horror and depression in her eyes. "Who are you?" Diana said mechanically. "I'm a laboratory assistant." Tactful Angie did not ask that girl what she was d oing here, everything was clear enough. Diana smiled. "And what does the assistant have to do here?" Belanger shrugged her shoulders. "I'm cleaning and doing the rooms and cages, feeding bats, and other laboratory animals, ordering stuff when it's necessary..." "Ordering stuff?" Diana got interested. "Like shopping? Can you show me, how you do that?" Angie felt something was wrong. But she was a slave girl too, and nobody liked B ill Hamelin. It would be trouble for him, not for her Master and Lord, and Belan ger calmly went to the computer, and showed Diana everything. Angie's conscience was clear. Belanger realized that girl understood nothing and was no worry. She did not notice, how Diana touched her earring, and turned the camera on again.

The plan

In the middle of the night Diana went to the laboratory. Looking at her notes, s he entered the code. The door opened, and the girl slid inside. She turned the computer on, and ordered bombs and explosives. She looked at the monitor, and wrote down the date of delivery. *** The partners were kept silent for a while. The information that Diana gave them shocked the men. After such actions any retreat was impossible. Fred Mannochio b rowsed through her notes and pictures. This time they had the meeting in his apa rtment. "Yes, I can erase his program and information," He said finally. "But I have to work on that damn computer. I mean, I almost have no chance to survive. Well, I' ll try. All my life I dreamed to commit some act of heroism." He thought about h is ex and he smirked. "I'll prove it," He said to himself. "You'll see, my dear Sivan, what I can do with typing!" "Anyway, among us only I can check all test tubes and plates to be sure nothing leaves." Alex Darcheson was talking with a very calm voice. "The only person, wh ose presence in the lab is not necessary is Edward. He is young, all his life in front of him. I think he should not go at all." "Shut your mouth, cracker!" Edward grinned. "I know how to handle those kind of bombs. I bet, we won't have much time. Every pair of hands will be needed." "You won't go anywhere!" Bennett shouted at him. But the youth smiled with a cha llenge: "Try and stop me!"

In the truck They took a taxi, and still argued with each other. But when the cab entered the highway, Ronald recalled he had left his wallet at Fred's apartment. "Shit!" He cursed. "Sorry, pal, we're out of money, stop here." The driver told them everything that he was thinking about, and left them in the middle of the highway. "Very funny!" Edward snorted. "How are we supposed to get home?" Without a word Bennett turned to the road, and started walking. Suddenly, a truck stopped near them. Ronald found that kind of weird, because, t hey did not signal. But Edward was tired, and he did not hesitate for long. They got into the truck, and said thanks to the driver. He did not reply. He was wearing gloves, and a strange, big hat. His neck was wr apped with a long dotted scarf. They did not see his face. The truck accelerated , and accelerated, and finally Bennett got worried. "Hey!" He addressed the driver. "Buddy, fifty five miles is the limit here!"

The driver kept silent. The truck was racing through the darkness. "Stop it!" Ronald shouted, and grabbed his gun. The face of Edward went grayish brown. And the driver threw a snake on the lap of the youth. Edward choked with horror. It was a thick snake, and its bright coloration indicated that it was venomous. "Oh, my God!" Edward screeched with despair. He sat still. Bennett lifted his gu n. The driver turned to them, and the men gasped. It was a skeleton, and the eyeles s skull showed its eternal smile. "Welcome to Hell!" it guffawed. Next the bullet from Ronald's gun crushed it, an d the skeleton crumbled to dust. "The snake! The snake!" Edward repeated as in delirium. Bennett grabbed the whee l. He got in the driver's seat. Of course, the brakes did not work. "The snake!" Edward was close to hysteria. Bennett glanced at him, and resolutel y shot. The youth screamed, and Ronald was horrified, thinking he wounded his yo ung friend, or the snake had already bit him. But the snake was killed, and Edward cried only because of the stress. "Put on your seat belt!" Bennett kept his eyes on the road. Sobbing, Edward buck led up. Ronald turned the truck closer to the barrier wall. He drove very carefully. He needed the truck to slightly rub against the wall, but not crash into it. The aw ful grinding made the men feel something like a toothache. The truck slowly redu ced speed, and finally stopped. Edward grabbed Bennett's hand and squeezed it with unlimited gratitude. "You see?" the youth sniffed. "They will kill me anyway! Please, let me go with you!" Ronald hugged him. "Okay, son," He agreed and sighed.

In the laboratory Their name tags were fake, yet looked real. Diana easily took her partners insid e the territory. That surprised the girl, it was certainly good luck. She knew the laboratory schedule, nobody was inside when they entered. They got here just in time, the explosives and bombs had just had been delivered, and the partners had to act fast before someone would wonder why they needed this stuff . *** "Put all the tubes here!" Diana pointed to a container, and fastened a bomb to i

t. Alex Darcheson put all plates, test tubes and vials from the refrigerator, table s, and shelves. However, when he took the last two, he hesitated. He thought abo ut his wife. He loved her very much, but after she gave birth to their second ch ild, she gained forty three pounds. She never was thin, and now she looked terri ble. But Alex loved his wife... He loved her. "What the hell's going on?" they suddenly heard. Bill Hamelin came from somewher e and looked around with amazement. He saw a bomb on the cage of his bats, and h e gasped. "Run!" Ronald shouted. Alex Darcheson and Edward ran along different corridors. Fred Mannochio was still working on the computer. He understood he was doomed, b ut if he would not finish deleting this program, all their efforts would be poin tless. Bill realized that. He screamed and rushed forward, and Bennett grabbed h im. Diana was still putting bombs on all the objects that she could find in the laboratory. Suddenly they heard sound of a shot. Ronald collapsed. Diana spun to the men. Ma d Bill held a gun. Fred hit "Enter", and smiled with triumph. Next the bullet cr ashed into his skull, and Diana felt dizzy, seeing the monitor covered with bloo d and pieces of his brain. Hamelin ran to the computer, he wiped the blood off t he screen and started hastily typing. Diana slowly went to motionless Ronald, kn elt and took his gun. "No!" Bill screamed with despair. He tried to cancel the program, but it was too late. He looked at Diana, and could see only her livid face above the desk. Hamelin pushed the button. Diana heard the sound of the siren, and deep repeatin g beeping of the alarm. She saw the panels made from armored glass start to lowe r, blocking the corridors. "For you and your friends it would be better if you had never been born," Bill g rinned. "You'll beg for a "ride to Hell" as if it was the best reward. I couldn' t even imagine what the Master will do with you all. You've ruined my work. No m atter! I'll restore it, be sure!" "No, you won't." Diana retorted calmly. She shot, and the force of the bullet th rew Hamelin off the chair.

Edward and Angie Angie's apartment was next to the laboratory. And when she heard the alarm sound she quickly went out. She saw a black youth. He ran along the corridor from the laboratory. He dived u nder the lowering panels. He saw the girl and hesitated for a second. And that c aused the accident. It was the last panel. It had almost closed. The youth pushe d himself under, it was too late, he could not get his arm through and the panel crushed his hand. The youth screeched. He choked with shock and lost consciousness.

Angie gasped. She tried to open the panel, she could not; it was blocked from th e laboratory. She knew the security would be here any second. She did not know w hat the lad had done, however, she did not want him to have a "ride to Hell". Sh e rushed into her apartment and went back with an axe. "Oh, dear God, help me!" She screamed and chopped off the hand of that guy. He o pened his eyes. He was not able to make a sound. Dropping the axe, Angie concentrated and stopped the bleeding, yet it was all th at she could do. Belanger hastily dressed his awful wound, helped the youth get up and helped him walk away as fast as he was able. *** Mary jumped from her chair when Angie and Edward entered her office. Belanger knelt, and forced Edward to do the same. "My Lady!" She mumbled with effort. "Be merciful! Punish me for my impudent act, but take pity on this boy!" Mary gazed at them. "You see him for the first time!" She gasped with amazement. "And you're ready t o have a "ride to Hell" to save him! Why?" Angie looked at her eyes, and Mary shook her head. Of course, she understood. "As his wife, I should've called security," She sighed dismally. "Get up you two !" The young people got their feet. Mary came close, and took the bandage off the Edward's wound. Her face contorted with compassion, when she saw the stump of his arm. Concentrating, Mary touched the youth and all three of them smiled to see Edward have a hand again. "The scar will be gone in a couple of months," Mary Noirson took a deep breath. "Okay, let's take care of the next item!" She stretched out her arms and made a few magic motions. "Now you're invisible for humans and demons for the next two hours." Mary tiredl y told them. "Take him away, just don't collide with anyone!" "Thank you very much!" the young people looked at her with gratitude. Mary tried to smile, but she could not. "Angie," Mary said calmly. "When that guy's safe, go to your apartment, pack you r stuff. You should move to this building. For Robert it's very difficult to go to the building B all the time." The lips of Belanger opened, but Mary stopped her: "Not a word!" tears and pain sounded in her voice. "I'm just an angel, not a saint! And I'm doing this becaus e I do love my damn husband, and I want him happy! Get out of here! I'm starting to lose control of myself!" The young people ran away, and Mary sobbed. She felt powerless and awfully old.

*** When she calmed down, she called her secretary and ordered the apartment for Ang ie prepared. She knew what had happened in the basement of building B, but Mary could not stand Bill Hamelin, and she did not want to help him, even for Mark.

The extermination "Diana!" She heard, gasped and looked at Ronald. He was alive, and the girl moaned with h appiness. "I love you, girl!" He mumbled, and closed his eyes. This time for ever. Diana's smile died together with him. "You were a fool, Ronald Bennett! she whispered. "Why did you only tell me now?" Slowly getting up, she took the detonator and looked through the panels. Securit y were in both corridors. She saw leaders making calls to their Master. Robert w as able to open those doors, and no explosion could harm the Son of the Devil. "No human or demon should have your viruses," Diana voiced as if in trance. "It would be the end of the world." "No!" Bill Hamelin was wriggling on the floor. "They will bring salvation! No on e will be fat any more! Everybody will be healthy, slender and happy!" "As I am, eh?" Diana gazed at the laboratory closet. The metallic door was shini ng like a mirror, and the reflection showed a slender beauty. But Diana saw a fat short-legged girl with pimples on her forehead. The girl and her mother were holding hands, and they laughed, feeling love and happiness. "Mommy..." the girl whispered as she pushed the button. The security cursed, looking at clouds of flame and smoke behind the panels.

Chapter Thirteen: A fork in the Road Mary and Mark Mary went to the bombed out laboratory of Bill Hamelin and looked around. The se rvants had already cleaned up the place. The fire was so strong that even the wa ll panels were burnt through to the bricks of the basement. Mary saw Mark. He gloomily walked along the room. "Honey..." She called him as tenderly as she could. He came towards his mother, and he sighed.

"Oh, mom, I hoped Bill would make a safe variation of his medicine, and I could give it to you!" "Am I fat?" Mary frowned. "Mom!" Mark hugged her. "No! But you're spending three hours every day in the gy m! I wanted to help you..." Mary laughed, and gently pushed her son away. "Honey, do you think I can't have any body if I wish it? Look!" She threw herself down, curved her body, and now a big yellow snake wriggled on the floor. The snake wound around the smiling young man and then turned into a d ove. It flew around the room a few times, fell on the floor, and became a panther. Th e spotted animal played and jumped like a kitten, reared and turned into a tall huffy man. The man shrank, and Mary had her usual appearance, and she hugged her son. "God gave me this body. I don't know why, but it is the present from our Creator , and it's not up to me to discuss His decision! I value this wonderful gift, so I'm taking as much care of my body as I can. For example, I have two ways to re ach the ceiling, observe!" Mary moved her arms aside and, slowly spinning, she lifted up in the air, then s moothly lowered her body. Then she undressed to her underwear, took out a box wi th talc. She powdered her hands and feet. She concentrated. Mark watched his mot her with amazement. She adroitly climbed up on the brick wall, like a squirrel or some kind of lizar d. Mary reached the ceiling, jumped down, and landed without any trouble. "Can any viruses help me do that?" She smiled. "No, honey! Work, work, and only work! No miracles, no immediate solutions! Do you see my point?" Mark smirked. He sat down on the floor, crossed his legs and stretched his hands to his mother. "Come here!" He called. Mary came and lay down in his arms. She was curious abou t what he was going to do. Holding his mother Mark got to his feet with one moti on. The woman gasped. That act impressed her, she did not expect him to be so we ll trained and strong. "My sweet pumpkin-mumkin..." She pressed her head against the shoulder of her so n, and closed her eyes, enjoying with feeling of happiness.

"The knights of Jesus" They had held a grudge against Ann Noirson for a long time. Ann knew about the D evil and angels more than anyone else, and all the time when these guys started talking, she showed her skepticism.

This group called themselves "The knights of Jesus." They handled knives made fr om crosses, and their guns had a silver bullets in their clips. The police knew about that, but all members of this group had permission, and the law did not sp ecify what material could be used for making weapons. Ann and her bodyguards made themselves comfortable on the grass, they had a peac eful picnic on the bank of a river. "The knights of Jesus" came to them, and tri ed to discuss things with them again. Ann laughed, and started as usual making f un of their wild utterances. Then one girl got mad and punched Ann in her face. Next, Jeff threw that girl off, but he missed the lunge that came from her boyfr iend. Jeff was not human. If it was a usual knife so it would not harm the demon in hi s human body. But that blade was made from church silver and it was deadly for J eff. Ann's bodyguards were professionals, however, these fanatics had a majority. Tho roughly mad, they attacked Ann, and her escorts stood up for their young Lady. Everybody was fighting selflessly. Jeff was laying on the grass. Ann propped his head up. She stopped his bleeding, but she could not cure him. He was dying in her arms, and the girl felt pity and despair. She took his gun. However, the att ackers and her bodyguards were too close to each other, and Ann dared not shoot. "Stop it!" Suddenly a resolute and powerful voice sounded in their minds. Everybody stood still. Ann saw Michael Alter and she smiled. The happiness overf lowed from Ann's heart. She did not expect to see him here. There, in the univer sity, near the laboratory, Alter told her he would be back after twenty sixth, a nd today was just twenty third. His face was upset, and showed sincere compassion. He touched Jeff, and the body guard sprang up. He gazed at Michael, trembled, and stepped back. Alter looked a round, his eyes stopped on Ann's hands. His face winced, and the girl gasped, an d dropped the gun. Michael stared at the attackers. They exchanged glances and quickly went away. C onfused, Irene, Noah, Brian and Jeff moved aside. Alter hung his head and slowly walked towards the river. "Michael!" Ann rushed to follow him. She started to talk, she tried to explain. *** They stopped on the beach at the mouth of the river. "It's hopeless." the tired voice of Michael Alter sounded with despair. "Two tho usand years are gone! And what? You, humans, handle guns instead of swords..." "I told you how it happened!" Ann burst into tears, and covered her face with he r hands. Alter hugged her. "Ann, sweetheart!" He patted her athletic shoulders. "Don't cry! You're a big gi rl! Oooh! A big, big girl, eh?" "I'm not fat!" Ann became angry and stopped crying. "For my height I have a perf ect weight! Am I right?" She asked with worry.

"Sure, honey! I just want you back to your senses! I can understand how scared y ou were! Are you okay?" "Yes..." Only now she understood exactly all the events. "You! How did you get h ere? How did you stop them? You cured Jeff! Oh, my! Who are you?" "I'm a brother of your mother." Alter smiled. "Are you an angel too?" Ann gasped. Michael slightly bowed. "And you would marry me?" Alter looked at her very attentively. "My task is to save people," He laughed. "To save you, I have to marry you!" "No, you don't have to!" the blood of arrogant Francine raged into Ann. "I hate you!" She shouted as she pushed him. But, keeping a smile, Michael did not relea se her, and the girl got surprised at, how strong he was. "Too late, my dear! I love you, Ann, and I'll not permit you to be the undoing o f yourself!" "What did you say?" Ann mumbled. "I love you, Ann." He repeated calmly. She burst out laughing: "And we'll get married?" He nodded. "And we'll have kids?" "Three girls, and two boys." "Oh, no!" Ann demonstratively frowned. "Too many..." "And twelve cats..." "No way!" "And four dogs..." "Are we gonna live in a zoo?" "And a hamster..." "In that case we should place all dogs around its cage to protect that hamster f rom all those cats..." They laughed together. "When's our wedding supposed to be?" Ann asked. Michael became confused. "I want to meet your parents first," He said with effort. "Why?" Ann gazed at him. "It doesn't matter, whether they approve my choice or n ot! I'll choose you in any case!"

"Are you so sure?" Michael lowered his eyes. "But I'm not. Look, honey. You have to trust me if you really want to be with me." "Of course I trust you, you silly thing!" She kissed him. "So, we should visit your parents... I think the Christmas break is the perfect time..." "Oh, no! Four months!" "Ann, dear, you have to finish your education. We're going to live in a zoo, so I need a vet by my side." "Sure! Or all our money will be gone to medical bills!" They both burst out laug hing. "How about my biological parents?" Ann asked suddenly. "We'll visit them first, promise," and Michael embraced her tighter.

Choice Philip Moreland was drunk. He walked along a path in Noirson's private park. He sniffed. He was not afraid someone would see him in such condition. It was no ma tter to him. Diana's death crushed the former pirate. He walked forward and forward, but he did not understand where he was going. And he saw her. She smiled. He ran to her, and embraced her. She swung her wonde rful arms. Suddenly she took out a poniard, and pricked his cheek. The pain sobered him up. He stared at the creature in his arms. It was a heron. The bird pecked him again, tore itself from his hands and flew away. He followed it with his eyes until the heron dissolved into the blue of the sky. "Philip!" He turned his head, and became confused seeing Mary Noirson next to him. "I want to show you something..." She took out a magic mirror, petted the surfac e and told him to look. Philip obeyed. He saw the city where the brothers were born and grew up. It seem ed as if he was flying in a helicopter. Suddenly the mirror showed a fish shop. In that city it was evening, and the own er closed and locked the door. "Diana!" Philip gasped. She turned, he saw her face. "This is not her!" He sighe d, disappointed. "Is it her sister?" "No. But this woman is a widow, and she needs a man like you, who can help her w

ith her business. Who can sail a vessel, and knows how to communicate with offic ials. Who's brave, and strong, and knows the law. You will be perfect mates, bel ieve me." "I believe you, my Lady! But... My job..." He hesitated. "And what about my brot her, Jonathan?" "I know you miss the sea, don't you?" Mary sighed. "Jonathan's in Love, he doesn 't want to leave Vera, but I can't let her go. That poor kleptomaniac killed her boyfriend. She's not sorry, and as a murderer, she has to be in Hell. So, Vera stays, and your brother made his choice. How about you?" Philip thought. He looked in the mirror again, and resolutely nodded his head. "It was a great honor to serve You!" He knelt, and a smiling Mary made a gesture meaning freedom. He left, and Mary slowly went past the canal. And she met Roger Slay. The butler was talking with his helper, and showed him w hat needed to be done in preparation for the autumn and winter seasons. Just three days ago Lucy gave birth to a girl, and now a new idea came to Mary N oirson. She went towards the servants. The butler saw his Lady and became silent. "How's your girls?" Mary smiled, and for the first time in their communication, he grinned back. "I was thinking," Mary said calmly. "Want me to baptize your baby?" Slay choked, gasped, and stared at her. "Baptize?" Roger could not believe his ears. "My child? Is that an order?" Slay asked with horror in his voice. "Your child," Mary confirmed. "This is not an order, Roger. But you have to thin k. We're adults, and how we dispose of our lives is our own responsibility. But our children have to at least have a choice." Slay hung his head. He thought for a long time. Everybody kept silent. "I'd be happy if you would like to give me this honor, and baptize my firstborn. " Slay finally squeezed out with great effort. "Are you sure, after this I'll st ill be able to touch and kiss her?" Worry, sounding in his voice, made Mary upse t. "Roger, I've never lied to you," She sighed. "She'll still be your daughter, I s wear!" He bowed low, and Mary went back to the house.

The visit

Ann gazed at the building. It was very typical, not big, two story house. Michae l Alter parked on the driveway, and honked. The garage was open, and a tall, hefty man came outside. His hands were covered with machine oil, and he wiped them with a rag. Ann stared at him. He was in his mid of forties, and she was surprised. Tied int o a ponytail, his curly hair, the color of fallen leaves, had started to thin, y et when he saw Michael, he gasped, and his big blue eyes sparkled with gladness, and he looked much younger. "Is he younger than mom?" Ann asked her fianc. "Just two years," Alter smiled as he got out the car. A Norwegian elkhound ran t o them, and started snuggling. "Melissa!" the man turned to the garage. "Uncle Michael is here!" A girl about seventeen flung herself from the garage. But she stopped at once, a nd gazed at Ann. "Meet my fiance!" Alter shook the hand of the man, and waved to Melissa. "Very nice!" the girl snorted, and went back to the garage. "Melissa?" the man glanced back with surprise, and shuddered his shoulders. He l eered at Ann and the girl did not like that search. It was definitely a hard, ex ploring male look. He bowed slightly. Ann could not forget what Robert said about this man: 'He was a gangster, rapist , and murderer.' She knew herself, how her fianc could change people, however, sh e would not wish to meet her biological father in some dark alley even now. "Sorry," He addressed Alter. "Melissa's so strange lately." "It's okay, Jerry, she's just become an adult." Michael smiled. "Where are the o thers?" "Francine went to take Lil from daycare. She's a little late today. You know, in the beginning of the new school year all teachers are awfully busy, even in the kindergarten. But Mike's somewhere. Melissa!" He turned to the garage. "Do you know where Mike is?" The girl shouted something, but nobody understood. "I think I know," Jerry walked to the neighbors yard. "I'll be back." Michael and Ann went to the house. Melissa, with a dismal face, took out burgers from the freezer and beer from the refrigerator. Waving its tail, the elkhound lay next to Michael. Suddenly they heard the cry of a some child, and a man's curses. Jerry came insi de, he dragged a boy about eight years old. "If I ever see you play with a gun again, I'll kill you!" Jerry shook his son, t hrew a toy gun on the floor, and trampled it. "Go to your room!" He shouted at t he boy. "Jerry!" Michael shook his head. "It's no a solution!"

The boy saw Alter and ran to him. He climbed on Michael and sat on his lap. "Dad broke my gun!" the boy complained as he hugged Alter. "Jerry, give me his gun!" The man obeyed. "Mike?" Alter looked at the boy. "What do you need this for?" "An evil alien has arrived!" the child pronounced with deep worry. "How do you know he is evil?" "'Cause he has green skin and six eyes." "Your best friend Samson has black skin, your pal Han has yellow, and I know one nice girl whose skin is almost red. Am I wrong?" "She's not my girlfriend!" The boy knitted his brows, and Ann got surprised as h e looked like Mark and his shaggy brown hair only emphasized this likeness. "I did not say that!" Michael was talking with a very serious face. "My point is a lot of people have different colored skin, hair and eyes. But that doesn't ma ke them kind or evil!" "But I have to protect Earth!" The boy shook his head, trying to put his bangs b ack in place. "Don't worry, Mike!" Alter smiled. "He who made Earth will protect it also, I sw ear!" He fixed the toy gun with one magic motion, and gave it to the boy. But Mi ke sighed, looked at the toy, and put it back on the table. He went to Jerry, and timidly looked up: "I'm sorry, daddy! May I stay?" "Sure, honey!" the man petted the head of his son, and glanced at Alter with gra titude.

The mother When Ann heard the sound of the oncoming car, she felt her heart jump. A slender woman with an ash-brown short hair and tender cat-like eyes came into the room. She held the girl about four, and a lot of shopping bags. "You didn't turn the water off," She said as she passed the girl to her husband. A smile, and soft note sounded in her voice. "And our lawn is almost flooded!" "Shit!" Jerry rushed outside. "I wanna see!" Mike ran to follow him. "I wanna see!" "Michael!" the woman beamed. "Why you didn't tell me you're gonna come? I'd prep are a special dinner!" She sleeked her bangs with her hand.

"This is why!" Alter smiled. "You're busy enough." She laughed, and finally looked at Ann. Francine's brows lifted, and she stared at the girl. The woman, she realized the likeness that her husband did not notic e. "Mommy..." Ann mumbled. She was surprised herself. Ann saw this woman for the fi rst time, but that word flew out of her mouth easy and naturally. Francine gasped, her face went pale, and she mechanically sat on the stool. Ann flung herself to her, knelt, and buried her face into her knees. Ann felt ho w the woman tenderly caressed her hair, and she burst into tears. "Can you ever forgive me that I left you?" Francine asked, and her voice tremble d. "I have nothing to forgive you for!" Ann sobbed. "My parents were kind to me, I had a happy life. The life that you gave to me. Thank you for giving me life. Th ank you..." *** Before leaving, they hugged each other again. "What..." Francine hesitated to ask, however, she had to do that. "What about yo ur brother?" Ann became confused, and glanced at Michael. "He's okay." Alter replied instead of his fiance. Francine hung her head, she und erstood. "Mommy," Ann kissed her mother. "I'll visit you as often as I can, promise!" Francine smiled, nodded, but she pressed her hands to her face, and ran to the h ouse. Ann turned to Jerry. He was standing not far away. From time to time he threw gl ances at her. He knew now who she was, and his grin irritated Ann. Maybe she too loved Robert, but she did not like her biological father at all. Angry, she wen t close to him. She desired to say something to hurt him. "Our mom, my adoptive mom," Ann specified. "She's in great shape, and she looks very young!" The girl became confused. The composure of his face changed at once. Sincere gla dness shone in his eyes, and now his smile was tender and naively kind. "Is Mr. Noirson treating her well?" Ann looked at him with perplexity. "When I was living with them," Jerry explained. "He was rude to her... Sometimes ." "You're kidding!" Ann was surprised. "Mom's ruling around." And Jerry laughed. He guffawed. He snorted, choking with giggle. Ann got mad. Sh e understood the reason of such gaiety, and the offense for Robert hurt her hear

t. "Ann!" She heard the warning call of Alter, and she forced herself to calm down. "Shit, Michael!" Jerry roared with laughter. "Just think! I was able to marry he r!" Ann ran to the car and jumped inside. She was angry at Mary, she hated her biolo gical father and she was afraid to lose control of herself in front of her fianc.

Mary's birthday Mary felt a kiss on her shoulder. She smiled, and stretched her limbs. She felt a kiss again. She opened her eyes and gazed to her husband, lying by he r side. "Happy birthday, my little one!" He pronounced with a lovefull voice and moved h is hand to show around. Mary looked and gasped with admiration. Her entire bedroom was decorated with small elegant silver bells, made in the sh ape of flowers. They tinkled, and smelt like lilies of the valley. "Oh, honey!" the woman kissed her husband, and they started making love selfless ly like newlyweds and with the understanding of the needs of each other as old l overs. *** "I'm going to check how everything's going," Robert kissed her one more time and left, and immediately Mark entered. "Happy birthday, mommy!" He knelt, grabbed her hand and pressed it to his lips. Mary caressed his coarse hair with her other hand. "It was just a nightmare that my son was killed." She thought. "He's alive, he's next to me. And he loves me. " It was a medley of dreams, truth and illusions at once, yet this way helped Ma ry to withstand her tragedy. Mark put a ring on her finger. It was a gold ring with a tiny heart made from so me red gem. At first Mary thought it was a ruby, but the youth explained. It was a specially made crystal, Mark had worked to make it in his laboratory during l ast two months. And hearing that, the woman smiled with gratitude and happiness, and hugged her son. Ann came next. She gave her mother a gift, and sat near her. She was blocking he r thoughts about the visit to her biological parents, and Mary felt something wa s wrong. "What, dear?" the woman glanced at the box with indifference, and put it aside. "Do you want to tell me something?" "I'm gonna get married!" Ann smiled. "Oh, really?" Mary looked at her daughter. "Did you tell your daddy about that?"

"Yes, mom! And you know what? It's your brother, uncle Michael!" Mary rose. "You promised to introduce him to us!" She shouted angrily. Ann looked at her mother with worry. "I will, mom, honest!" Ann mumbled. "On the Christmas break." They both felt high spirits leave them. The girl silently walked away. Mary got up, called her maid and started dressing. She totally forgot about the gift from her daughter, and went outside, not even looking at the box, lying lonely on th e bedside table. *** It was a tradition. On every birthday of his wife, Robert released a few his ser vants who wished to quit, but did not repent. Now Mary slowly walked along a rank of kneeling servants. She stopped near every person, and, touching the servant, she gave them freedom, or she refused, and w ent to the next one. "I drove her to the park," the servant explained. "She flirted with me, I lost c ontrol of myself and raped her. I didn't beat her! I drove her home... Her fathe r killed me." "Freedom." Mary touched him. And looked at the next female. "I poisoned my father to get money," She mumbled. "I had the electric chair." Mary sighed as she shook her head: "Maybe next year..." "I was raped and became pregnant and I killed my child," the next maid confessed . Mary's face went pale. "You bitch!" She shouted. "I grew up without parents! Someone could've adopted y our child! Why didn't you give him a chance?" Mary spun to her husband. "Send he r to Hell! On the last level! I asked you not to show me any infanticides!" "Sorry, honey, my fault!" Noirson waved his hand, and the sobbing maid disappear ed. Mary took a deep breath and stepped towards the next servant. "Polygamist..." He blushed. Mary laughed: "Freedom! Go, make more women happy!" Holding their hands Brian and Noah were next. Mary smiled: "Freedom." "I killed that old man because he was a witness..." Mary shook her head and continued her mission. "I killed my husband when I caught him with another woman."

Mary involuntarily glanced at Robert. He giggled nervously. "Freedom," Mary touched the maid, and went to the next servant.

Flamingos Today they went on a trip to the local zoo. Ann said Michael about it and they a rranged to meet here later. It was a small zoo, it would possible to walk around the whole territory in about thirty minutes, so they did not worry about findin g each other. Ann visited that place often, she already knew where the animals cages and the p avilions were. Waiting for Alter after the trip, she went to the flamingos. She loved these reddish-orange, strange looking birds. She closed the pen and saw a young man. She saw him in the university, but they had different majors, and Ann did not even know what this guy was studying. Now she saw him, drawing a picture of the flamingos. All the time that guy impressed Ann. It was not a sexual feeling. The girl was v ery emotional, and the mysterious silence of that guy intrigued her. Tender and shy, he looked like the Little Prince of Saint-Exupery, and the girl wanted to g et know him, but all the time something prevented their conversation. Ann did not understand art, especially modern art. She came close to the pan, and laughed loudly. He glanced at her with surprise. "Buddy, could you explain something to me?" Ann asked. "Why are you spending hou rs to draw a picture, if you can do it in a few seconds?" She took out her Polar oid, made a photo, and when the picture appeared, she went to this guy, threw th e picture on his easel, and looked at the comparison. Her smile died and her face went red. She saw his work, she saw her rudely brigh t photo, and she understood the difference at once. She felt ashamed and was ready for this guy to make fun of her act. But the artist totally confused her. Without a word he took out a notebook, wrot e something, and showed it to Ann. She looked. Of course that guy could have onl y such handwriting. Very clear, legible, light and flying. However, the contents shocked the girl. "Sorry, I can't talk." She read. "What did you want me to explain for you?" "Nothing... Sorry..." Depressed, Ann slowly walked away. And she met Alter. He went towards her and he was smiling. But he saw her upset face, and became concerned: "What happened, honey?" Ann explained, however, she dared not to ask her fianc to do that, which she desi red to ask. Nevertheless, Michael understood and thought for a while. Finally he resolutely tossed his head and strode to the artist. Ann followed Alter. "Do you like flamingos?" Michael asked, and put his arm on the shoulder of that

guy. "Oh, I do!" He responded suddenly, mechanically taking his notebook. "I think Go d was in the best mood ever, when he had created these birds..." He stopped. His eyes opened wide. He touched his throat, then lips. "Did I say this?" He mumbled. He looked at Michael with amazement. "Did you hear me?" "Yes, we heard you." Alter calmly replied. Ann kept silent, she sensed her fianc meant not her. "Oh, God!" the artist panted. He closed his eyes and quietly whispered. "Oh, dea r God, thank You..." "Do you want to make a call?" Michael held out his cell phone. Surprised, the ar tist gazed at him. "How do you know?" He took the phone, but hesitated. "It's another state..." "It's okay, call." Alter stepped aside, and hugged his fiance. The artist dialed the number. "Dad?" He said into the receiver. "No, it is me, your little bear. No, daddy, it 's not a joke, I swear!" He smiled. "I keep all my old crayons in the third draw er, middle section, in the bedroom, right side from the window. Daddy, it is me, honest! I don't know how to explain..." Ann opened her mouth, but Alter squeezed her hand, and the girl held her tongue. "Do you remember," the artist continued. "When you were in the hospital, I gave you my first picture, a polar bear? I was four... Dad? Why do you cry? Oh, daddy ! I'm so happy too! I'll be at home on the first flight that I can... You? What about your job? Day off? Vacation? Are you sure? Of course, I'll meet you at the airport..." He was still talking, and Michael took Ann to the pen, and for a while they sile ntly watched the beautiful long legged birds. The smiling artist came to them. "Forty three minutes!" He shook his head. "How much do I owe you?" "Can I have your work as payment?" suddenly Alter asked. The artist looked at him with surprise: "Sure!" He walked to his easel, wrote hi s name on the picture, and went back. He gave it to Michael, waved his hand, and quickly walked away. Alter looked at the picture, and sighed. "I'm a thief," He addressed Ann. "In less than hundred years this masterpiece wi ll be worth millions of dollars." "Well, this is a nice way to make money!" the girl laughed. "Let's put it on the wall in our living room. And a small table under it. And a tall vase with some long-stemmed grass..."

And they started discussing how they would decorate their future common home.

Falling She liked that guy very much. Oh, God, she just loved him! Rayon was dating her best friend Amy, and Kathleen tried to hide her feelings. Yet when Rayon asked her about a meeting, Kathleen could not believe her ears, s he agreed at once. Something told her it was wrong act, but her heart did not wa nt to listen to her mind. *** They walked along paths in the park, and she was talking. She told Rayon how she loved him, how it was wonderful just to be next to him. She laughed, sang, and danced. He kept up their conversation, he smiled at her, and the girl lost herself in th e happiness. *** The next day she went to the classroom, and saw the students watching something exciting. At first she did not understand what was going on. Suddenly Kathleen saw herself on the screen. Amy. It was Amy's idea. Amy and Rayon had arranged with each other. His date wit h Kathleen was fake. Amy recorded the whole of their meeting and now she was sho wing the videotape to the class. And when Kathleen realized that, she silently went to the balcony, leaned over t he railing, and flew down. Six floors, yet at the foot of the building was an asphalt sidewalk. Kathleen th ought it would be the end of her suffering, but it was just the beginning. *** Mark went to the corridor and heard three of the guards talking. "Yep," one said to the others. "Try her next time, I recommend her! That thing i s something! Fresh strawberry..." "Who?" Mark grinned. The guards got up, looking at the son of their Master. "A new girl from the building C, sir." "Which floor?" "Fourth, sir." "If she's so good," Mark snorted. "Why is she in the bordello for privates?"

The guards shrugged their shoulders. Mark thought. "Send her to me," He said. "I want to check... No, I've never visited that floor . Tim, let's go, you can show me." *** His visit alarmed all the staff. Madam Comier walked towards Mark while the girls hastily smartened themselves up . "Mark!" the madam smiled. "Is the sixth floor not enough for you?" She gave him a wink. "Is something wrong? Tell me, honey." "No, ma'am." Mark laughed. "Just tired of stylish stuff. I can't eat lobsters on ly, I want some mashed potatoes." "Tim!" Comier addressed the guard. "Thanks a lot! Your big mouth can get me in t rouble! What if Mark doesn't like this floor, what am I gonna do then?" "You should be ready, even for the Master's visit, ma'am!" the guard grinned. "Don't worry, dear, you're always the best!" Mark looked at his watch. "I don't have much time. Where is the new one?" He looked at the guard. "What's her name? " "Kathleen, sir!" "Kathleen?" the madam wondered, and turned to the waiting girls. One girl stepped forward. She did not lift her eyes. Mark looked at her. "I think, I've seen her before." "Maybe," Madam Comier replied calmly. "She was on the fifth floor. But she's stu pid. She is a self-murderer. But while working on the officer's floor she commit ted suicide again! If she does that again, she would be sent to some place outsi de the house. Well, maybe she likes more "exotic" work, eh, Kathleen?" the madam turned to the girl. "Wanna go to South America? Or Taiwan?" Everybody laughed, and the girl hung her head. "Can she do anything except fuck?" suddenly even for himself Mark felt pity to t hat lost girl. "She's a piano player." Mark's brows lifted: "Really? Show me!" They went to the next hall. Kathleen sat at the grand piano and started to play. Mark watched her. Kathleen played "Scarlet Moon," by Chopin, and the tender rom antic music touched the youth. He listened it for a while, then went to the girl , and hugged her. Kathleen stopped at once and sobbed. She was shaken. "I told you she's stupid!" the madam shouted with vexation. "One guy fucked her on that piano," She explained to Mark. "Send her to me this evening." Mark looked at his watch again. "I have to go now

. I don't want mom to know that I visited this floor." And he left. With a signal from Madam Comier the guard went to frightened girl, and hit her a few times. Kathleen collapsed, she could not even cry now. "When are you gonna understand?" the madam sighed. "Only control of yourself can save you from falling much deeper! Go, be ready, you stupid thing!" Kathleen barely got up and plodded to her room.

Mark and Kathleen Deep in thought, Mark went to his apartment. It was late evening, yet he did not feel tired. He did not turn the lights on, instead he entered the salon, took o ff his jacket, and mechanically threw it onto the armchair. A sudden sound, like a gasp or quiet moan, startled him. He recoiled and grabbed his gun. Someone was here. Keeping that person on the point of his gun Mark ste pped to the lamp and switched the light on. Engrossed in his work he forgot about Kathleen. Now he saw her still in the armc hair. Scared, the girl stared at his gun, and tears were running down her cheeks . She looked like a bird with a broken wing, and the youth became confused. His bangs fell onto his eyes, and Mark shook his head, trying to put them back in pl ace. "Why are you sitting in the dark?" Mark took his gun away, and pushed his hair a side with a quick brush of his hand across his face. "Sorry..." the girl mumbled. Mark smiled and leered at her. Remembering the guar d's talk, he had a male curiosity about her, but it was not a strong feeling. Sh e looked so crushed, intimidated, oppressed and downtrodden that Mark sensed onl y pity. She reminded him of his laboratory animals, and he asked: "Have you eate n anything?" All eyes, the girl gazed at him, and Mark laughed. He called a servant and ordered a dinner. Mark thought it would be fun to make t his evening romantic, and play a "date" with that girl, instead of just using he r, as he had planned in the beginning. He recalled, she was a piano player, and he asked the servants to bring an elect ronic organ. Kathleen sat at the instrument, took a few chords, checking how it sounded, and started to play. Mark made himself comfortable in the armchair and observed her. The servants sil ently walked, serving the dinner, and lit candles. They finished, and left. Kathleen was still playing. Suddenly she stopped, dropp ed her head on her arms, and burst into tears. Mark shook his head. He liked her music and was upset that she had stopped. "Kathleen," He said as soft as he could. "Just play, I promise not to force you to sleep with me."

She tossed her head, she threw herself to him. She fell on her knees. "Master!" She kissed his legs and shoes. "Use me however, you want! Order me to do whatever you wish! Just burn me up after! I beg you! I'll do anything! Just l et me die! Pleeeeeease..." Mark did not reply. Kathleen fell silent. She tiredly got up and sat at the orga n again. She started to play again, she gave up, and Mark understood why. "Kathleen," He called her uncertainly. "It's not up to me... You're in Hell, I c an do nothing!" She showed no reaction. But a new idea came to Mark. He got up. "Let's go!" He told her. Kathleen thought they would go to the bedroom, but they left his apartment. *** "Mom?" Mark hugged Mary. "I want to ask you something, can I?" "Anything, honey!" She looked at him with a smile. Mark called Kathleen. The girl entered, and knelt. "Can she be your maid? I think, she has been punished enough." "A self-murderer, eh?" Mary frowned. "Honey, I had a very weighty reason for sui cide! How about that?" "Mom, please?" Mark gave her a puppy look. The woman laughed. "I don't need a new maid," She hugged her son, took out a comb and sleeked his o bstinate hair. "But you can keep her, she can do your rooms. Kathleen?" The girl gazed at her Lady with hope. "Mark is working a lot. Sometimes he forgets about his training and even about f ood. Your duty now, is not just to take care about his apartment, but about him as well. You have to control his schedule, clear?" Mary saw the faces of the young people were wreathed in smiles of gratitude, and she felt gladness. If it was up to her, she would make all Noirson's people fre e. But she could not release even herself.

The avalanche Ann was sure Michael would refuse her offer. She dearly wanted to spend a few da ys with him in the mountains. But to her pleasant surprise, Alter agreed. *** That day started perfectly. They were skiing together. For a few times when no p eople were around they kissed each other, and Ann was surprised that these short

minutes brought her more enjoyment than hours of wild love that she had with Gl eb. *** They stopped again, when it happened. The ground shook and started trembling. Mi chael sharply spun to the mountain and disappeared. Ann looked too and at first she did not understand what was going on. It seemed as if the peak of the mountain started moving down. Suddenly she realized it was an avalanche and she gasped seeing a group of teenagers on the slope. Alter was among them, and Ann understood he tried to keep them together for some reason. Ann was in a secure place, the trees and big rocks would protect her. But she co uld not just stay here. She rushed to her fianc. Why nobody had a timer? Why nobody measured the speed she had reached? It would certainly have been a new world record. She flung herself to the teenagers and grabbed one girl who tried to escape. Tho ugh Ann did not understand what Alter was planning, she trusted him. The teenage girl in her arms was screaming and sobbing hysterically. Ann looked up and chok ed with horror. The oncoming mountain of snow was higher than a two story house. Ann tried to close her eyes, but she could not. Michael glanced at the people again and stretched his arm to the avalanche. It b roke into two parts and skirted them still going downhill. The roar made them de af. The powerful wave of moving air almost knocked them down. Going crazy with t error, barely keeping her feet, Ann just petted the back of the girl, seizing he r, as if she was a life buoy. They stared at the walls of the snow, rushing down past them. It was like a nightmare, and only her love and trust to Michael help ed Ann to stay in control. Everything has an end. Shocked and exhausted they sat down straight on the snow. Ann gazed at her fianc, and a weak smile was on her lips. Alter shook his head. "Ann, honey," He voiced tenderly. "Now I'm sure that I didn't err about you." They heard a sound of an engine and some ranger on the snowmobile came closer to them. "Is everybody okay?" He asked with worry. "Thank God! It crashed a few buildings , but nobody was harmed. You guys were lucky! Did you see that rock there, up th e hill? It worked like a breakwater!" "Michael saved us!" Ann shouted angrily. "Yes!" the ranger shook Alter's hand. "If you didn't keep them together, they wo uld have been crushed by that avalanche for sure! How did you know this place wa s safe?" "It's Michael broke the snow!" Ann screamed at the ranger. He looked at her with concern. "Of course, of course!" He smiled peacefully. "I meant just that!" Mad, Ann wanted to say something, but Alter seized her hand, and shook his head, and the girl restrained herself, and silently hugged her fianc.

The Christmas Before they came to her adoptive parents, Ann and Michael visited Jerry and Fran cine again. It was Christmas time, and they brought presents. Ann smiled when Mike uttered a squeal of delight when he found a compact disk wi th chess games. "Let's go, uncle Michael!" the boy pulled Alter to follow him. "I wanna play!" "Just a sec, Mike!" Michael held out a box for Melissa. The girl was with a yout h, and they were ready to go out, but she saw the gift and gasped. Ann watched the girl with surprise. It was a model of a car, and Melissa took th e box and quickly opened it. "It won't take long," She addressed the youth. He smiled understandingly. Ann went upstairs, and peeped down into Lil's room. The new Barbie-doll was nake d and lying upside down with its head in the corner. The girl was playing with a set of zoo animals, and Ann smiled, and sat down near her. They started playing together and Ann almost forgot about everything, when she heard a light knock a nd looked at the door. It was Jerry. He was so big, he almost filled up the doorway himself. Ann recall ed her miniature adoptive mother, and involuntarily smiled, imagining how she, M ary, made love with that man-mountain. Ann got up and together they went to Mike's room. The boy was playing chess on his computer. He concentrated hard, he bit his tong ue, and was thinking. Jerry looked at the monitor. "Try to put your knight on C seven," He suggested. "Dad!" the boy replied with displeasure. Jerry lifted his arms, and exchanged gl ances and smiles with Ann. They went downstairs again, and Ann gasped with surprise seeing the model of the car was already done. "Wow!" Jerry carefully touched it. "Melissa is a born mechanic." He gazed at the model and smiled. "Two cars came close to each other," Jerry started talking. "...and guys with gu ns jumped out and... Tah-dah-dah!" He made a motion, as if he was shooting with a machine-gun, and laughed. "Do you miss that?" suddenly Ann asked him. Jerry looked at her, and Ann repeate d his gesture. His face became serious. "Of course he told you." Jerry thought for a while. "No," He said finally. The s incerely happy smile flared up on his beautiful lips. "No! Oh, dear God, thank y ou!" He stared at Ann with a challenge. "I don't miss that! And if I ever meet M r. Noirson again, I swear! I won't be afraid to repeat it in front of him!"

"What if you meet my mom?" "Mary?" He purred her name, and dreamily screwed up his eyes. But his emotional expressive face went sad at once. He looked around at the family pictures on the walls, gazed at his reflection in the mirror, then ran his hand over his thinni ng hair. "No," Jerry sighed sadly. "I prefer to never meet her again. She's just a wonder ful fairy-tale in my soul, and I don't want the rude reality to break that image ..." He stopped for a second. The old pain revived into his heart. Jerry could n ever forget her glare full with disgust and spite. Her mad scream sounded into h is mind: 'I hate you!' And Jerry shook his head. "Oh, my dear daughter! I bet, y our mom doesn't want to see me either..." He tried to smile, but his voice quave red and Jerry quickly went away. Ann stayed. She had wanted to hurt her biological father and finally she had don e it, but it brought only bitterness and guilty feelings. *** Before leaving, Ann glanced up at the branches of the Christmas tree above of th em and hugged her fianc. "Kiss me," She asked timidly. "You trust superstitions more than my words?" Michael smiled, but he kissed Ann, and the girl laughed, feeling happy. *** Francine and Jerry stood side-by-side on the porch. They waved their hands. The car went away, but Ann saw Jerry grab Francine in his arms, spin around a few ti mes, and carry his wife inside the house. And the girl felt strange sadness in her heart, and she wanted to weep.

The rivals Mary heard some noises and went to the corridor. Two maids were kicking Angie. The girl was wriggling on the floor, trying to pro tect herself. The maids saw their Lady, and doubled their efforts, but Mary comp elled herself to suppress her jealousy. "Stop it!" She yelled at them. "What on Earth is going on?" "She started it!" the maids exclaimed at once and pointed at Angie. The girl loo ked at her Lady with fear and perplexity. Brutally beaten she was unable to talk , she just shook her head. She spread tears and blood all over her face. "Come here!" Mary ordered her, and shouted at the maids. "Get out, you two! Get to work!" The maids curtseyed and walked away. Angie tried to get up, but she moaned and f

ell down again. Mary sighed, and cured her with one magic motion. The girl hasti ly rose and without a word she went into the apartment. Mary closed the door and looked at the girl: "Who started the fight?" "You can read thoughts," Angie did not lift her eyes. "Why do you ask?" "You bitch!" Mary got mad. "How dare you talk with me like that!" Screaming, the girl collapsed. Choking in agony, she stared at her Lady with dea dly horror. "Oh, my God!" Mary came to her senses, and quickly took away Angie's pain, knelt and hugged her. "Oh, poor girl! I'm so sorry!" Suddenly Mary recalled the first years of her life here. When servants hated and mocked her. When Robert was rude to her. When he allowed her to be raped. When he beat her up, and even tried to murder her. Mary thought about her dead son. S he loved her husband, however, even angelic patience has limits. Now Mary was able to destroy him and his girlfriend easily and with impunity. Bu t it was not what her heart desired, and that was impossible, and she knew that better than anyone else. "Do you love him?" Mary asked with an unnatural voice. "Look at my eyes!" Angie lifted her face, and sobbed violently. Mary slowly got up, and went to the window. "You can go," Mary did not look back. The girl stopped near the door: "Mrs. Noirson! Please, forgive me!" "I'm not angry any more," Mary replied calmly. "Please, just go. I'd like to be alone." The girl left. For a long time Mary stood by the window. She looked at the snow falling outside , and she thought. Suddenly she saw Mark and Kathleen skating together, and she was surprised. Mary knew, how it was difficult to move her son for some physical activity. But Kath leen fell down, and seeing how Mark rushed to her, and helped her get up, Mary u nderstood everything and became upset. A new stage was coming. The stage which every mother wants and is afraid of at t he same time. "I'm losing my son," Mary whispered. "But it's the natural process. How about my husband? I have to do something, but what? What should I do? What can I do? Oh, Robert...." And she wept.

The vixen

Robert had never slept with her. He looked at his watch, and Angie understood, h e was ready to go back to his life. Back to his business. Back to his wife. Thou gh Belanger was thankful to Mary for her patience, a sense of jealousy and envy were still in her heart. Angie caressed her lover, she hoped he would stay at le ast a few minutes longer, but he sighed, kissed her, and got up. Belanger silently helped him to dress. Although Angie never dared asked Robert t o stay, she could not restrain her thoughts about that. "Stay!" She wanted cry. Her eyes shone with timid entreaty. "I can't, honey," Noirson hugged her and left. Angie sadly looked around her deserted bedroom, looked at the messy bedclothes a nd became depressed. She did not straighten the sheets, instead she lay down, an d quietly wept. Angie recalled one dialog with her lover that hurt her the most. She asked him a bout his various wounds. He explained some of them, then smiled and ran his hand over the other scars. "Mary was in grave danger and this is the price that I paid for her life," and h e touched his motionless crippled knee. And such a tender love sounded in his vo ice that the girl felt despair and burning envy. *** She dozed off, then heard some noises. Angie sat up, and was amazed seeing a he thought it was not a big dog, with he fox tasted the girl. Belanger knew seen this animal before. The fox went hat it wanted to do. strange animal in her room. First of all s bright red coloration. The green eyes of t most dogs in that building, she had never straight at the girl, and Angie wondered w

It shot upward, onto the bed, the girl instinctively lifted her hand for protect ion, and its long white fangs sunk into her arm, and reached the bone. Angie screeched with pain and horror. She threw the animal off, grabbed her gun, and shot, but the bullet disappeared and did not harm the fox. "Oh, my God!" Belanger crossed herself. She thought about the wife of her lover. Mary had such powerful abilities. Angie recalled today's incident, when her Lad y cured her, then harmed her, however, let her go. "Mrs. Noirson!" Belanger timidly addressed to the fox. "Kill me, if you wish to! But why do you torment me? I do love your husband, and I can do nothing about t hat feeling!" The animal, roaring with mad anger, attacked the girl again. Screaming, Angie da shed around the room. She threw anything she could grab at the fox. It was usele ss. The animal adroitly dodged the objects, and was still chasing and biting her . Going crazy with pain, Belanger kicked the animal, but its fangs ripped her le g from her knee to the foot. "I am a copy of Saint Mary, maybe even a clone." Suddenly Angie recalled the wor ds of her Lady. The girl flung herself to another room, grabbed a bottle of holy water, and splashed her axe. "Diamond cut diamond," Angie mumbled. She held the axe with her right hand, and the bottle in her left hand. "Please, Mrs.Noirson! I can understand you! But you

have to understand me!" Baring its teeth the fox leapt towards the girl. And Belanger splashed the holy water and struck with her axe at once. It screeched. Its body wriggled in the puddle of blood. Clinging to the walls, Angie plodded out. As she was leaving she looked back and saw the dead body of the animal start turning into a woman's body. Getting weak from the bleeding, Angie went to her anteroom, and sat down on the couch. She moaned with pain and horror. Suddenly Robert entered. He was smiling, but he saw her covered with blood, and gasped. "Oh, my Father!" He leered at her. "Oh, my girl! What happened?" "I killed her," Angie sobbed. "I'm sorry! I'm very sorry... Please, forgive me.. . She attacked me..." "W h o ? !" His mad howl startled her. "Your wife..." His face went pale. Angie got up, and hugged her lover: "I'm sorry! She attacked me..." Roaring, he pushed her away, and rushed to the room. Angie fell on the floor and burst into tears. She wept for a long time, but Robert did not come back, and B elanger made an effort, got to her feet and followed her lover. He stood near the door and stared at the dead woman in the middle of the room. A ngie looked too, and was surprised as it was an unknown woman. "Who was she?" Belanger wheezed. "She was my secretary..." Noirson shook his head. "We were lovers... Poor Anhell a..." Not looking at Angie, he left her apartment. Some servants came a little later a nd took out the corpse.

Pain Robert did not cure Angie. Upset, he totally forgot about her, and feeling guilt y, the girl dared not to remind him about herself. Belanger treated her wounds, gave herself a few injections then tried to sleep. But later she felt worse. The pain increased, the girl had a fever, however, she did not want to risk a repeat dose as no one would be able to control her condi tion.

Angie stood it as long as she could. Finally she sat up in bed and wept with des pair. She got up, dressed and staggered out. *** "What?" Mary sleepily looked at her maid. "What are you talking about?" "...Miss Belanger said it's an emergency!" "Belanger?" angrily, Mary sat up in bed. "That's it!" She pushed her husband, sl eeping by her side. He awoke, and gazed at his wife with worry. "You bastard!" She said through clenched teeth. "Could you, please, keep your fu cking girlfriend away from me? That brash face dares ask for you even from my be d, eh? How much do you think I can stand? Even Anhella has never done that!" "Oh, my Father!" Robert realized the reason for Belanger's visit. "Honey, I have to tell you..." And he shortly explained. Mary listened with a stony face. "Go, cure her..." She ordered him. "You forgot, eh? Poor girl.... Go, I said! Wh at are you waiting for?" He left the room, and Mary clutched her head. "Oh, dear God!" She cried. "How I'm tired! Please, help me! I'm tired of this li fe! Blood, jealousy, murders... I'm tired... I'm so tired... Pleeeeeease..."

Alter The servant opened the car door, smiled, and helped Ann out. "Derek!" Ann exclaimed happily. "Here is my fianc, Michael Alter!" The servant gasped. He was not human, he understood, and he fell on his knees. " No!" He mumbled, trembling with terror. "Please, no!" Michael looked at him very attentively: "Are you sure?" The servant thought. Suddenly he resolutely tossed his head. "Please!" He said with a totally different voice. Alter smiled, and touched him. The servant disappeared. All eyes, Ann gasped. She did not understand a thing. Michael took her hand, and they walked to the building. *** Ann was shocked. Something was going on. Human servants came close and gazed at the couple with curiosity. Non humans knelt or ran away. Confused, Ann only looked around. Michael went forward confidently like he had b een here before and knew his way. ***

The Noirsons were waiting for them in the "family room". When the couple entered, Ann's parents gasped. Mary stepped forward, Robert rose from his chair. "Did you come here to destroy us?" He asked with an unnatural smile. Livid, Mary crossed herself. "No," Michael retorted calmly. "I came here, because I want to marry your daught er." Noirson burst out laughing: "My Father! You've scared me to death, honest!" "I thought that's prohibited for angels," Mary mumbled. "Adultery is prohibited!" Alter's voice was stern, and the Noirsons exchanged gl ances and lowered their heads. "Stop it, Michael!" Ann looked at her parents with concern. "I'm doing my job!" Alter said resolutely then addressed his sister. "You swore to be together until death will separate you. If someone dies once that person i s free from the vow." "How about five times?" Mary's lips trembled, trying to show a smile. "Adultery is the only Scriptural ground for divorce," Michael continued. "Don't provoke my parents!" Mark shouted and rushed to him. Ann leapt forward an d grabbed her brother. "Mark, please!" She wept, but Ann was much stronger than he was, she held him ea sily. "Please, please, calm down!" "I have to give blind people sight!" Michael Alter pronounced resolutely. "Doesn 't matter if it's physical blindness or blindness of the soul!" Robert was thinking about Angie. He was so impressed, he forgot to block his min d. Suddenly he felt the Contact. He lifted his eyes, and he saw the gaze of his wife. Mary had read his thoughts, and Noirson panted with fear. "Look, honey," his voice trembled. "I just... I..." "Shut up!" Mary hissed at his face. She turned to her brother again. "I know, if I ask you, you won't refuse." Mary said suddenly. "Cure my husband, please." Everybody glanced at her with surprise. Michael smiled: "Right decision, sis!" He stretched out his arm and touched Noir son. Robert gasped, dropped his walking stick, and checked his palms. The scars had d isappeared and he could easily keep his feet. "Thank you," He mumbled, not looking at Alter. "Not me," Michael shook his head.

Noirson sighed and lifted his face. "Dear God," He squeezed out with effort. "Thank you for curing me." Ann applauded. Everybody looked at her, and she felt stupid. "Mark, Robert, we have to talk." Mary pronounced that with such a voice that onl y Alter did not become amazed. "Ann, Michael, excuse us." *** In her apartment they kept silent for a while. "Mark," Mary started talk resolutely. "You're a big boy, I think you'll understa nd. Robert and I are going to divorce." The males gasped and stared at her. "What about you?" Mary continued. "Do you want to stay with your daddy, here? Or would you move with me?" "I'm coming with you, mom!" Mark embraced her, and glanced at his father with sp ite. Mary seized his hand and frowned. But Mark shook his head and ran away. Robert gazed at his wife. "He'll accept it, don't worry." Her voice sounded calmly. "Go to Ann, explain to her. I don't want to see her. I can't see her! Sorry... Oh, God, forgive me! Go , buddy, be free, and give me freedom!" "You did understand me all the time!" Noirson wanted to hug his wife, however, h e came across her glare, and did not dare to do that. He showed a happy and conf used smile and quickly walked away. Very slowly Mary went to her computer and turned it on. She typed: "Green Valley" into a web search engine and quietly cursed when she g ot too many sites. She clicked "Back" and specified the state. A playful idea came to her. She deci ded to buy the plant where she worked a long time ago. It was not a good way to invest money, but Mary did not care about that anymore.

Irwin Collard Someone knocked and Irwin Collard, the bookkeeper, entered the room. Mary did no t read books, so they did not have contact often. He delivered to her some newsp apers and magazines. Attractive, as were all Noirson's servants, light brunet, h e was slender and not tall, but anyway, miniature Mary was shorter than he by at least a couple of inches. "Mrs. Noirson," He started timidly. "Mark said you're going to move?" his beauti ful big green eyes seemed smaller through his thick glasses.

"Yes." Mary looked at Collard with surprise. "What about the library? Don't you need a bookkeeper anymore?" He tried to talk calmly, but his voice broke, he got confused, and fell silent. "Irwin?" Mary was amazed. She could read thoughts, nevertheless, it was not nece ssary to understand the reason of his visit. She got up and walked towards him. She glanced at the mirror. They looked the sa me age and Mary noticed that with pride. She knew Collard was younger than she w as. "Why are you wearing glasses?" Mary asked tenderly. "Robert or I are able to fix your eyes in a few seconds!" "I feel more comfortable with them..." He mumbled with a shy smile. "Oh, really?" Mary came close to him and took his glasses off. "How about that n ow?" And she kissed him.

The final Later that night Mary slipped out of the bed. Happily smiling, Irwin was sleepin g, but his lovefull voice, all these wonderful words that he said to her during those hours still sounded in her mind. Mary heard laughing outside the building and looked through the window. Robert and Angie were playing. He ran after her, they threw snowballs. He caught her and hugged, and they kissed each other. "Old fool!" Mary spat and turned away. She went to the bathroom and took out her contraceptive pills. But suddenly a new idea came to the woman. She looked at t he pills. "I'm free now!" She whispered. "It's probably my last chance..." and she flushed the pills into the toilet and laughed. "Suck it!" Mary said through clenched teeth. But that was not addressed to the t oilet.

Ann "You've broken my family," Ann did not look at her fianc. She could not help her tears. "My mom hates me, my brother damned me, my parents are going to divorce.. . I feel myself in a bad dream!" "Ann, honey! It's my duty! 'For I came to cause division, with a daughter agains t her mother...' It's Matthew 10:35," He sighed. "I can understand your feelings . I'm leaving now. Your mother chose her way, you have to choose yours. Think, A

nn... You know where you can find me." And he left. *** For a long time Ann just sat here. She was thinking. She was looking through the window, but her entire life was passing into her mental vision. Suddenly the girl saw stars, realized the night had already fell, and she got su rprised. Ann lowered her eyes and saw the old family picture. All four of them were stand ing, hugging each other, and smiling. And Ann burst into tears. She grabbed the picture and pressed it to her chest. She started hastily packing. Sleepy, Irene looked at her Lady with surprise, but she asked nothing. *** Without saying a word, they left the building and got into the car. "Irene," Ann hesitated for a moment. "You don't have to do this." "It's my job and my Fate," the girl yawned. "He has a couch in the living room, I can sleep there, before you move." "Poor Michael, he has invited just one girl," Ann laughed and started the engine . The family picture was in her purse, it was history now, but it was and, Ann N oirson, future Mrs. Alter, would not renounce it even for Heaven.

The conclusion In his laboratory Alex Darcheson took out two vials with a culture of viruses th at Bill Hamelin was working with, and checked them out. Darcheson could not comp el himself to destroy them. Alex loved his wife and wanted to help her. Besides, he was a true scientist, and the idea about using these viruses for controlling weight was very tempting. "Here kids," Darcheson smiled. "Welcome to the new home!" And he opened the first vial.

Epilogue Five years later, at the funeral of Robert Noirson, Mary came with a four-year-o ld boy. After she gave birth to this child, Mary registered him as the son of Ro bert, and no one dared to question it. Her eldest son went here with his wife Ka thleen, and she was pregnant with their firstborn. At the cemetery Mark caused a scandal, brawling with his sister Ann, who came al one, without her family. It was not the first time she tried to make up with her mother, but only in front of the freshly made grave of her ex-husband Mary coul d forgive her daughter and hug her.

After the divorce, Mary got practically all of Noirson's fortune, after his deat h Angie Noirson challenged this, and until today they have the legal proceedings . Mary now leads a very reserved life, and Irwin Collard is her official lawyer. Some people claim he is Mary's boyfriend, and he is under her thumb, however, n obody knows for sure. Noirson's widow hates Mary mortally. For less than one year Angie and Robert had lived happily. He tried to hide his feelings, but she saw that her husband miss ed Mary. He called her everyday, and visited her on all holidays. He played and spent time with her son. Mary greeted and treated Noirson politely as a good fri end, however, if he tried to move to the "romantic" side, her face became stony, and he dared not to tell her what he desired to say. Angie saw, without Mary, h er husband was simply sinking by the hour, and he died at the same date that Mar y finally left the house. When Angie came to the room, he was dead and holding a photo of Mary, pressing i t to his chest. She grabbed the picture, sobbing hysterically, she tore it into the smallest pieces, and lost consciousness. *** Smiling with happiness, Mary caressed and kissed a huge beautiful snake, lying i n the bed by her side. Tender and passionate love glowed in the eyes of the Beas t. "I told you, honey, it's easy!" She hugged its strong lithe body. "Now we're tog ether again! No one on Earth could separate us! And no one will..."

The Afterword Last week on the Internet I found a very interesting advertisement. Do you want to lose weight without any effort?

The End