“Grazie, mio signore e padrone. Io sono il vostro da commando.” Grazie, my lord and master. I am yours to command
The words rolled off my parched tongue, sluicing through the fetid air to hang suspended in a moment of disbelief. His eyes narrowed to slits, though I caught only a glimpse, my cowl functioning to hide my disdain, and the scars.
His to command, indeed.
I backed away, careful of the forms, too abjectly aware of my position to allow myself the luxury of one final word that would surely quench this endless thirst, this torment. I mentally cursed my foolhardy hubris. I’d avoided the traps within traps within traps, only to ensnare myself in this tangled web from which I saw no escape.
Indistinct murmurings, flutterings, an angelic choir of intrigue and tiresome machinations, then silence. I stared for a long moment at solid teak doors, ornately carved in some abstract pattern I should recognize but could not, not here in this time-space.
“Your sword, M’Lord?” Angeles hovered at my back, ever ready to do my bidding. A small comfort, this.
“Thank you, Angel.” He winced at the bastardization of his name. Names had power here. A misuse, a change in intonation, an inflection could alter events, redefine the rules.
If you knew the rules. I thought I did. Apparently at some point I hadn’t gotten the memo.
I fingered the cinquedea/stiletto, reveling in the icy smoothness of the jeweled hilt, fashioned for my hand alone, my gift and final undoing. My cheek vibrated in muscle memory, the feel of the slice, precise, deliberate, perfect.
You will be one with me.
I had sighed at the promise and arched my neck, exposing myself as the blade slid satin smooth, blood beading, hot and needful. The nick, then another, and yet again, timed to my pulse, an orgasm of pleasure-pain rippled through me. Nothing had prepared, nothing could ever compare with that moment in time, when I became One, marked forever.
I stroked the scar, reverent, memories flooding me, like hot lust on a summer’s eve, voyeuristic, ever outside of, forced into release on a gasp. Never satisfied, desirous of more.
“Perdonami, mio signore. E ‘tempo.” Forgive my Lord. It is time.
“What? Oh, grazie Angeles.”
Time. Strange how infinity had needs. An agenda. It bent here. No, not bent exactly. It was… circuitous. A Moebius strip, expandable, plastic, with no beginning and no end. It had appeared as a maze, with my prize at the end and I’d emerged from the entrance into the exit, cradling the hilt, reveling in the ease with which I’d been corrupted.
My creature bid me enter, leave, remain… insane swirls kaleidoscoped about me as I plunged in place, inertia and momentum assaulting me, rebirthing to the final expulsion. I kept my eyes squeezed tight, screaming voiceless against the vertigo, my gut in spasms, tongue parched yet spittle flew from my mouth in a silent “oh” of joy.
I crouched on the gritty surface, naked but for the stiletto, numb to all but the pulsing in my veins, the ejaculate marking my spot. I’d have rather given the vein and the pain.
Be careful what you ask for.
My eyes adjusted to an obscene incandescence, a quadrillion gigawatts of pure power, designed to obscure and enthrall and entice. A sop to human fears. Like a tunnel entrance to… what? The unknown? I smirked at the foibles of my kind. The reality was far better, and far worse, than they, I, could ever imagine.
I watched with idle curiosity, this tableau splayed out in cinematic splendor. My mother prostrate, kneeling, keening, her hair and clothing askew. Papa, cold, sneering, his face aflame with shame and regret, fists clenched.
She moaned, “Perché, ragazzo mio, il mio bambino? Oh Dio, gli dà di nuovo me.” Why, my boy, my child? Oh God…
Her baby boy was not coming back, not ever.
Papa spat on the floor, “Omosessualità, bestia. Egli non è mio figlio. Io sputo sulla sua tomba.” Beast! He is not my son! I spit on his grave.
The doctor and constable stood to the side of the narrow bed, their faces alight with shared consternation, this thing, this perversion beyond their understanding.
I murmured, “It’s time.”
As always, Ernesto took the lead, first stroking the youth’s face with calloused hands, his grayed-out hair disheveled from where his lover had grasped the thinning curls in his manic thrusting. He rose from the bed and stood silent, watchful, certain of his fate. The youth appeared confused, his face set in a rictus of pain as he stroked his belly, now whole.
I reeled at the stench of death, the sweet tang of coppery iron, and the smooth slide of fluids coating the rough cotton sheets. The blast had been at close range. The rage alone would have been a killing blow, but the shotgun added that element of drama Papa enjoyed. That these two innocents paid such a price for their love, an old man and a young boy, united in passion, was forever my torment. That the man who would disavow his own blood would walk the earth free drove me to flee into the half-life from which I emerged, righteous in my vengeance, impotent.
Sei il compito di condurli verso la luce. I give you the task…
Yes, I would forever lead them to the light, an eternity of pleasure preceding an eternity of pain.
I waved the approaching figures through the portal. The youth stared at me, brows knit in faint recognition. “Go on, Father. I will catch up.” The old priest strode away from us, his form gradually dissociating in the mist.
The youth spoke with the passion I remembered so well. “This is not fair. We did nothing wrong. It was my fault, blame me. We hurt no one.”
I whispered, “I know,” my heart aching at the truth and the lie.
“I will not go with you.”
I smiled at that and nodded.
Free will. One of the rules. This one inviolate.
He paused, curious. “Are you an angel?”
As I turned away to begin my journey, the corridor echoed…
Yes and no.