Arcturus Syndrome Ch. 12-2

“Kiss me,” she said.

It wasn’t her first kiss, she thought. She had kissed Devon at the Senior Prom. She had been terrified, a little bit horrified…

Kyle kissed her.

It was her first kiss.

* * *

She melted into him. She pressed her breasts so they flattened against his chest. She felt his belly, lean and hard. She felt something else, something hard in a different way, pressing against her lower belly.

The heat blossomed and swirled. It bloomed inside her.

She thought of all the lurid scenes she had recently witnessed. She could feel an ache inside, remembering watching Robbie’s monstrous thing stretch Vikie open. Remembering the desperate, hungry sounds she had made.

She let herself float in this feeling for a long, delicious kiss. But she knew what she had to do, and she had the ability to do it.

She stepped back.

“You see? You are not going to kill me, Kyle. I am blessed by God. But you have to admit you feel it.”

His dark eyes had a dull, confused look to them. His mouth hung open a little. The awkward shape of his package erect, but snagged in his clothing, off to the side, was completely visible to her.

“Go get us some water, Kyle.”

He dutifully went to the water fountain, and filled a large bottle with clear, cold water.

Melissa stirred the fizzing electrolyte solution in, and they shared the bottle to the last drop.

“Tell me, Kyle, who do you prefer? Nancy or Vannah?”

He shook his head. “Those vapid idiots? Neither.”

“Kayla? Isabel?”

“You’re trying to set me up with someone? After that kiss?”

“Kyle, God has a plan for you. It’s not to lounge about mourning your girlfriend and reading books about kings and queens and wars. It’s to be here! Right now. And you have… the gift. You need to use it.”

He scrunched his face up, as if trying to squeeze her thoughts out of his mind.

He started to speak but she cut him off. “You need to help me, Kyle. I need you. But you need to pass the test.”

His confusion deepened. He looked like a person waking out of afternoon sleep, uncertain what day it was, where they were.

“And you will be helping her pass the test also. Because we really need some women joining the team.”

“The leadership team? I mean aren’t we all?”

“You know what I mean, Kyle. Let’s choose Isabel, shall we?”

“For what, Melissa? What are you asking of me?”

Even now she couldn’t quite say it. “Bring Isabel here to the library this afternoon. Feel the way you feel now? Let yourself feel just this way… with her.”

Isabel

Isabel. Isabel. Isabel had been born in France; her parents had moved here when she was young, but there was always something a little French about her. How does a person look French? Isabel had matured early; she had been one of the first girls with real breasts. She had been shameless about flirting with boys… and yet… as far as anyone knew, she had never had a boyfriend. There was a rumor, in her senior year, that maybe she had been seeing a guy from Penn State.

Socially, Isabel was out of Melissa’s league.

But she kind of gave off the sense that she was out of everyone’s league.

Now, however, Melissa was in charge.

Isabel stood by a window, looking out over the front of the school. You could think it was any summer day, sunlight baking the lawns, oaks and maples bright and green.

Melissa walked up beside her. “Hi.”

Isabel gave her an inscrutable look.

“It looks normal, doesn’t it?”

“It is normal. Everything is normal. Perfectly normal.”

Melissa cocked her head.

“Except everyone we know is, um, dead.”

“As are we. We are in hell, now. It is what is normal.”

“That got dark fast, Isabel. Is that what you feel?”

Isabel looked down at her. Isabel was taller than she remembered.

“Who raped you, Melissa? Your dad? Your mom? Your brother?”

Isabel’s words shocked Melissa back into her memories. She shook it off.

“I was spared that,” she said. “But I saw it. I know what you mean. And there is a way out of it.”

Isabel shook her head. “There is no coming back from some things. If you didn’t experience it, you don’t know.”

Melissa knew things. She felt things. She felt Isabel’s despair. She felt it all the way down into the void. But she also saw Isabel herself, a lonely girl, actually. Someone who always felt different; who cultivated her difference to protect herself… from… nothing. Nothing but her own fears.

It wasn’t planned. Once again, Melissa found herself acting first and wondering second.

She took Isabel’s hand and stepped close.

She looked into Isabel’s eyes. Rich, brown eyes like a lush velvet. Melissa stepped close, so they were less than an inch away from touching, and yet somehow she felt it as though it were touch.

“You don’t like me, Isabel. And you don’t trust me. But, listen to me now. Listen…”

Isabel’s eyelids drooped a little.

“Talk to Kyle Isabel. I can’t claim to know your darkness, but Kyle does. Kyle knows. You need to talk to Kyle.”

“Ok,” Isabel said, slightly dazed.

Cody & Emma

Sometimes, Melissa thought she was in control. Sometimes, she thought that everything was going according to plan. Not her plan… she didn’t have a plan. She trusted that it was God’s plan.

At other times she thought that everything was wildly, insanely, out of control.

When Pastor Paul explained things it seemed very simple. You did this, you didn’t do that. You studied the bible, and when it didn’t seem to add up, you studied it more. For two thousand years people had been trying to figure it out, and they had had a lot to say about it through the ages. If something didn’t make sense, then you read St. Augustine, or C.S. Lewis, or Martin Luther.

Melissa had hidden herself away in her usual little spot, but when Cody led Emma in, suddenly she did not feel in control. She questioned everything: who is God, why is God doing this, who am I? Am I really following God, or is this some demonic… Woah! She had never even asked whether this was a demonic…

No. That was the satanic influence. Getting her second guessing herself. Getting her questioning her intuition and this blessed, if non-traditional, gift of the Spirit.

But here was Cody, walking hand-in-hand with Emma.

And now, for some reason, Melissa did not feel so “in control.”

Cody drew Emma into the room and sat her down on the sofa.

“Well, here we are,” he said… “Right where you wanted to be.”

“Melissa said…” Emma began, but Cody cut her off.

“Are you ready for the test? Did Melissa explain that?”

Melissa observed something new in Cody, something she had never seen before. Not in school, and not in quarantine. Something sharp. Something hard.

“Test? What test?”

“Yeah, I didn’t think so.”

“Look, Cody,” Emma tried a third time. “Things are super weird; the situation is weird; and Melissa is weird. Weirdest to me is why you listen to her.”

Cody gave a wry smile. “And yet here you are, just like she wanted you to be.”

“No. I wanted to be, because I want to know you better, and because you seemed to want to know me better. But maybe you should tell me what’s really going on.”

A flush of heat ran through Melissa. Emma was showing more spirit than she expected! She had imagined Emma just melting into Cody’s embrace and… things going from there.

“Sure,” Cody said. And then he casually leaned closer to her. It happened in slow motion: Melissa felt the heat intensify. Emma felt the shift, and seemed to prepare for that kiss Melissa had been imagining. But instead of a kiss, Cody grabbed her by the throat.

Emma’s eyes opened wide in shock. She opened her mouth to scream, but she had no air. Cody shifted so he was kneeling astride her, holding her tightly. Emma began to flail, hitting at him, kicking her legs. The only sound was a low grunt from Cody as he weathered her ineffectual blows, and the shuffling and scratching sounds of Emma trying to gain purchase.

Melissa was stunned, herself. Suddenly frozen, uncertain.

Cody spoke. “Do you remember Christina?” He didn’t expect an answer, as Emma was still scrabbling and struggling, her face darkening.

“Everything she said about me? How nobody believed her? How her family moved away? Maybe you didn’t hear it, I don’t know how far those rumors got. But it was true actually. I learned my lesson, don’t play in the home town. But here we are, and the boss lady has given me my marching orders. You watching boss lady?”

Melissa was paralyzed.

Emma’s struggles weakened, and Cody released his grip on her throat. She gasped for air, and before she could scream, Cody slapped her across the face, hard. It drew a cry from her, and Cody’s grip tightened again.

Emma looked up at him, tears rolling down her cheeks.

“Why?” she mouthed, again reaching for air she couldn’t find.

“Who the fuck knows? Melissa’s a freak. I’m a freak. The freaks are in charge now, Emma. Bad luck for you.”

Again he released her and just as she gasped for air, he struck her, across the other cheek, then closed his grip again.

Emma gritted her teeth, slitted her eyes, and fought hard. Cody somehow knew how to position himself so her blows had no power; his weight holding her to the sofa. She kicked and managed to make the smallest moaning sounds, primal grunts.

“In a moment,” Cody said, “everything’s going to go dark. When you get your light back, you’re mine. You don’t understand now, but you will when you come back. I wouldn’t have picked you, but I guess that’s the way it goes.”

He shifted his grip so that she she could breathe. He was still pinching her neck but even as she gasped for air, the flailing of her arms and legs subsided to mere twitching and in a moment she went limp. As soon as she did, he released his grip.

“You watching, Melissa? Enjoying the show? We all have our kinks, I guess. Did this surprise you?”

Melissa pulled herself together, and stepped out of the private room.

“Cody,” she said, summoning all her energy from the heat in her core. “You have a demon in you, don’t you.”

He smiled strangely, like it was an admission, like it was an apology, like it was an insult, like it was contempt for her, all at once.

“As do you.”

“My work is God’s work. But this-” she gestured at Emma’s sleeping form-“This is not the way.”

“Actually,” he said, “I think you knew better than you realized. She’s going to be quite a good little toy. We can share her if you want.”

Melissa licked her lips. Took a swig of electrolytes. What was she doing?

“Robbie told me he thought you might want that.”

“No, Cody. No. I just want to see if she has… and if you have… God’s blessing through this plague. I… think we should call off this test, however, as clearly, you are not one of God’s children.”

Cody gave a false pout. “I’m hurt, Melissa. I thought salvation was available to all.”

“To all who repent, and all who put their faith in God; to all who dedicate themselves to Jesus.”

“Well, you woke this up in me. I was keeping it locked away. And now that I have her, I find I don’t need to listen to you.” Cody stepped in close. “Or maybe I should take both of you.”

He reached for her throat.

Melissa blazed, with anger now. That fierce, holy anger that felt so good. “Stop!”

And he stopped. He dropped his hand. There was a flash of blankness, but then he laughed.

“Yeah, sure, whatever.”

Melissa followed the thread of her anger: “You will test her in the most gentle and sweet way that a woman like her deserves.”

“Compromise: I’ll take her, test her, keep her, and you can do whatever the fuck you want.”

Melissa felt the edge of her control slipping, and suddenly she wanted to plead. But she wouldn’t let herself. She would… supervise… and if Cody got out of control again, she would stop him.

She had a mix of emotions swirling around this plan: some fear, excitement, disappointment. Most of all she was disappointed in Cody. To think that he was this psychopath. But maybe, maybe he would fail the test, and her problems would be taken care of.

Emma stirred. Cody turned his back to Melissa, resumed his position, kneeling over Emma, his hand back on her throat.

With his other hand he gave her cheek a few light smacks, bringing her around.

“You see?” he said. “You’re mine now.” Emma’s eyes opened. She looked confused. Dazed. She saw Melissa, and turned back to Cody.

“Why?” she asked, softly. Sadly.

“Ask her,” Cody said.

“Some people are blessed by God,” Melissa said. “I think you might be the first woman other than me. We need to test it. I saw the way you looked at Cody, so… but… I didn’t know this about Cody. I’m sorry about that, Emma.”

Cody laughed. “She’s sorry, but we’re testing you all the same. And after that, you are mine.”

Emma looked broken. Sad. It tugged at Melissa’s heart.

Cody leapt off her. “Strip,” he said.

Emma looked at him. At Melissa. Melissa wondered what she saw: Melissa in her wholesome, muslin dress. A wave of disgust passed through her. Disgust at herself. This could not be God’s plan. This was… not beneficial.

“Strip,” Cody said. “Let’s see those tits. Let me see that juicy little pussy.”

Melissa reclaimed that thread of anger. Who was she, if she was not doing God’s work?

Emma pulled the white shirt out of her jeans and lifted it over her head. She had full, perfect breasts held by a sturdy white bra.

“Stop!” Melissa said. The word erupted from her.

Emma stopped, the shirt hanging from loose fingers. Cody’s face scrunched in his own rage.

Melissa leapt forward and took Emma’s hand. “With me,” she said to Emma.

Melissa faced Cody: tall, strong, handsome… except now, not so much: filled something grotesque. Hatred. Fury. Lust.

“Stop.” Melissa said again, squeezing Emma’s hand. “With me,” she whispered again, squeezing her hand harder. Together, they said: “Stop.”

Melissa added: “Relax Cody. Let it go.”

They watched a war taking place inside him.

Melissa felt a deeper glow inside, something even stronger, if slower, than the anger. She found there was no fear in her. Even as Cody seemed on the edge of striking them, and no mere slap, Melissa stepped in and put her hand on his chest.

“It’s over, Cody. Stop.”

She felt… they all felt… a flow of warmth, of strength. Of love?

Cody stopped. His arms dropped to his side. His face went blank.

“You’re going to leave the school now, Cody. You are going to join the ones outside. You won’t come back.”

He shrugged. “Yeah, that’s probably best.”

Emma said, “Wait a sec!”

She let go of Melissa’s hand and fished through a drawer. It was a teachers lounge, there had to be something. A nice black sharpie.

Emma stepped up to Cody and wrote a word on his forehead.

“Now he can go.”

Emma nodded. “Now you can go.”

Cody, the word ‘rapist’ written on his forehead, walked out of the teacher’s lounge, and out of the school.

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