I wanted to be kind âEUoeIâEUTMm sorry but you are as a cage; keeping me from the good things.âEU but Danny would not let go; he was young and angry and kept coming; clawing noisily across the battlements with all of his considerable intent bent towards ending us both. I moved from him as he came and waited for his strength to ebb.
With his blood nearly spent I had knelt next to his bleeding form wanting to say a proper good bye. But he denied me even the shallowest of moments to express my love for him; for all of them.
The worst thing I could imagine was dying face down so I turned him on his back. The wheezing and broken shell had seemed less angry then despite the crimson flowing from his nostrils. The spray from his shoulder grew thinner as his heart flickered in those final moments.
âEUoeDanny?âEU I whispered sorrowfully.
His eyes focused then flitted around as if searching for a target but they fell on me without rage or resentment as if he had forgotten himself and he croaked weakly âEUoeYes?âEU
âEUoeIs there peace?âEU
His pupils had contracted to a point then and he attacked me with his remaining limbs. I had grabbed the nearest weapon, an axe made of his arm still clutching a sword. I held the bloody bicep two handed and swung at DannyâEUTMs chest over and over again until nothing but a mutilated hole remained. I had never known need and disgust together nor had I expected their weight to be so crushing before or since Danny. I had then taken his corpse to the opposite side of TrajanâEUTMs grave and nudged him in with my toes. Thankfully he had not fallen face-first; a dignity I had reserved for all of them no matter how undignified they had been in life.
He had died a grotesquery. The hole in Danny haunts me and looking at him there with his face half buried in the mud and the hole in his body I cannot help but wonder if IâEUTMve become a more complex monster in my pursuit to be rid of monsters.
After Danny there were multitudes to die. Maurice, or Maureen, or Maury, or whatever it had decided to be on the day was another.
We had chuckled when I referred to them as Ms. Mao for the first time and the name had stuck through all their sensuous incarnations. They were sexy and daring of nature and always encouraged me to enjoy the sensuous loss of identity when I found it in sex.
When I arrived at their apartment and the door opened I was greeted by Ms. MaoâEUTMs silhouette as I squinted into the radiance of a golden sun penetrating through the single glass wall. âEUoeCome in.âEU she said and left me in the door.
I had followed awkwardly behind the naked androgynous form down the one and a half steps down from the entrance hall into the recessed living room. A multitude of fine pillars staunched the ceilingâEUTMs collapse on the perimeter.
I had always enjoyed their sense of the theatrical but Ms. Mao knew this and invited me to the couches. And became ever more discomfited as I smelled their perfume; there were no shades of comforting masculine or alluring feminine scents, only musky fear, like sweat, hung in the air.
The fear had been infectious and not for the first time I had considered dying rather than this systematic cleansing of all I held dear.
When we were seated, body to body as was their wont, Ms. Mao lifted a slender finger towards a pink lily in full blossom before us and said âEUoeIs it not beautiful, the way the light refracts from the surface? The sun and the lily come together and forms shape and colour through light and life. DonâEUTMt you find it irresistible?âEU
âEUoeIt is and I do.âEU
âEUoeAm I not like the lily?âEU their face had focused and I could almost perceive the outlines of fine features taking shape; two petit mounds formed on their chest. Their arm slid around my hesitant waist; feminine and desperately sexual. I felt familiar needs, urges and lusts swelling towards high tide.
âEUoeThere is no escaping this.âEU I replied dourly, averting my eyes as I sensed Ms. Mao desperately working to sharpen and define their sexuality.
âEUoeLook at me.âEU I refused. âEUoeLook at me!âEU their desperation baited my eyes.
I did look and Ms. Mao had become locked into a distinctly feminine shape. Her porcelain skin absorbed most of the light and cast only soft hues. The eyes were slanted subtly; the lips full, breasts perfect on the petit frame, hips curvaceous but not bulging. I was entranced and could feel myself slipping towards acceptance.
âEUoeNo.âEU I had said after a long battle âEUoeYou corrupt yourself and my acceptance would corrupt us both. This is not what you are. Change back.âEU
She had left me on the couch then and paced between me and the lily âEUoeYou will not have me? I am not Gregoire nor Danny or any of the others. I am me, I am good and I am yours if you will simply have me.âEU
âEUoeHow could you not be mine? You were all mine. You are, all, mine. Danny could never have been peaceful. Gregoire could never have been happy. You could never be anything other than what you are and I could not love you more. Remember your nature, please Ms. Mao.âEU
âEUoeLily is my name.âEU she corrected in a whisper âEUoeAm I ugly now?âEU
âEUoeYou could never be ugly.âEU I held my hand out and beseeched her âEUoePlease come to me. I brought Belladonna. Do you remember when you grew it all over this place after we saw that painting by Robert Scott Irvine?âEU
âEUoeYes.âEU She had come to me and we had held each other after I had given her the flower to chew.
She spoke about all the joy and accomplishment she had experienced through me but I said very little as we waited. We held each other for a long time and watched the sun set behind the lily. Her breathing had grown shallower and her death had become another painful font of my sorrow.
When the end came I felt compelled to behead her and mutilate the genitals; a naÃ¯ve but genuine effort on my part to leave her as I had known her.
After Ms. Mao gone the sun had turned red and faded.
The last had been the calm Asian man who had never given me his name. I had to search for him but I knew he wasnâEUTMt hiding. He had always wandered and made the othersâEUTM domains his home for periods of time before wandering again. With no one else left and the world quickly wilting around us we eventually met out on the road.
He stood calmly in his simple loincloth; his face betraying nothing more than a contemplative indifference. His hands were folded over his naked stomach; his left covering his right fist and thumbs forming a pyramid through which you could see his navel.
I approached him slowly and reverently; he placed a palm flat on my chest in greeting. I smiled wanly and he beckoned me to follow him.
As we walked towards the pit he said simply âEUoeI was almost surprised when you chose the old man over me. You could have chosen me and let the resulting chaos kill the demons.âEU
âEUoeIt would have defeated the purpose.âEU I replied knowing he did not need the answer as much as I needed the reassurance in my path.
Upon arrival at the pit he had silently sought out Trajan from among the ashen faced corpses and moved towards the old manâEUTMs body. I remained silent.
He knelt by Trajan and smiled for the first time in his existence. âEUoeI liked him the most.âEU he said. I nodded.
From the pit he beckoned for my weapon which I handed to him. He hiked up his loincloth and pulled the blade cleanly across his thigh. Blood ran and pooled at his feet.