This is by way of a thank you response to Miki Yamuri for her lovely story "The Wish", though I urge her not to hold back on the criticism, nor anyone else, as long as it's constructive (If you just want to bombard me with insults, I suggest a PM ).
Essence of Change
In the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains, overlooking the city of Sibiu, stood a decaying mansion that seemed not to have been inhabited for decades. Its grounds were choked with weeds and the branches of untended trees, but were surprisingly clear of man-made rubbish. Michal and Andrei, although they were themselves settled, city-dwelling Roma, knew many of their people who would normally have considered such a place as an invitation to squat, and would have left no shortage of bottles and cigarette papers as a remembrance of their visit. But the normal rules did not apply for this place…
“Here it is,” said Michal, turning from the narrow, barely-used road and up the overgrown driveway. She paused, and pulled a pocket-sized Bible from her bag before continuing towards the house, eliciting a short, derisive burst of laughter from Andrei.
“You really think that’s going to help us?” he half-asked, half-sneered.
“More than that stuff will help you,” she snapped, observing the hip-flask her brother had just pulled from his jacket pocket. Andrei shrugged, and took a deep swig. Michal emphatically turned her back on him, and continued.
“I’ve got a right to keep myself in good spirits… if possible,” he said, noticing how low the sun had fallen, and how to how little advantage the already ghastly house appeared in the advancing twilight. “You know, Miki, I can’t help but think…”
“Well that’s news to me.”
“Very funny… but why didn’t we come here at a less ungodly hour?”
“Because people do actually use this road in the day, and I assumed you’d prefer not to be seen, considering what we’ve come to do. You do remember what we’ve come to do, don’t you?”
“Yeah, but no-one’s ever going to… I mean, it’s not as if she’s a… I mean to say, you don’t think the police would-?”
“Since when have the police needed an excuse to beat and jail Roma, Andrei? If they get even the vaguest notion that we’ve…”
“Committed murder? I get the picture.”
“Exactly… but it isn’t really murder, as you say. She doesn’t count, and ten to one Nicolae is in there with her, alive or dead. Would you leave your own brother with that thing… that unclean mullo?”
“We’ll both of us be considered unclean if the community elders find out we’ve poking around this filthy place, Miki. Don’t forget that. I could live without the dishonour, to tell the truth.”
“I consider it more dishonourable to abandon Nicolae,” she replied, very contemptuously.
“The chances are-”
“He’s dead? Then I’ll avenge him, and make sure no-one else has to suffer.”
“Whatever you say, Miki. Can we perhaps get this over with?” he asked, taking another swig from his flask before pulling a large combat knife from his belt. The darkness was tangibly increasing, and Michal’s outrage was not quite strong enough to prevent her fear from breaking in, but she was resolved. She nodded quickly, and they both entered through the mouldering ruin of a front door.
Holding the bible and a flashlight before her, she led the way through the mostly derelict, although fully-furnished rooms, until they reached the main bedroom. This was a different prospect: the antique furniture was, to judge from the lack of dust and cobwebs, still in use. Furthermore, there were various, rather untidy signs of habitation: scattered clothing, newspapers, and magazines. Andrei picked up a discarded leather jacket from beside the doorway, Michal shone the light upon it, and they both drew a breath of horror.
“Nicolae’s jacket? Then where is- ?” began Andrei, but stopped short as Michal gripped his arm in sudden urgency, and directed the light to the far end of the room. It fell upon a canopied double bed, with a lace curtain through which the shadowy shape of a female figure was all-too-clear. Steeling themselves, they advanced. Andrei raised the knife in a shaking grip, ready to strike downwards, and Michal pulled back the curtain… but the unexpected sight of two women on the bed, both attired in sheer black nightgowns, caused Andrei to stall, confused, in his deadly intent.
The sleeping women were both strikingly lovely, and lay in a close embrace. One of them was ivory-pale; majestically tall; aristocratic of face; and fair-haired, while the other was darker; shorter; with a round, pretty face; black-haired; and with a small, distinctive gothic skull tattoo on her forearm, which was what primarily drew the (horrified) attention of Michal:
“Look, Andrei,” she stammered, struggling vainly to fight off tears. “Nicolae? But how could he have become… ? How could she… ?”
I can do many things, my sweet one. Such wonderful things… as you will soon discover, my darling Miki.
“We should go… now,” said Michal, fighting back the strange thoughts that had just come into her head. “Andrei? Did you hear me? We have to go.” But Andrei was standing transfixed over the sleeping pair, gazing upon them with a glazed, slack-jawed expression. “How much of that filthy stuff did you drink? For heaven’s sake, Andrei…”
His will was weak, my dear, and impaired… and I think he wants to stay with us, in any case. But why do you resist? Sweet Miki… I love you as much as I do your brothers… your brother and sister, I should say. So long have I been alone here… I would have many to love… and to care for. Wait a few minutes, my darling, and let me show you what I mean…
But Michal did not pay heed to this inner voice. Seized in unreasoning fear, she tore from the bedroom, back down the warped and creaking wooden stairs, our of the house, across the grounds, and down to the silent roadside, where she broke down in tears of abject shame. Now, both her brothers were good as dead, and in spite of her brave words, she had abandoned them in a fit of cowardice. Poor Andrei, who had come with her in spite of his doubt and fear, and in spite of her outspoken contempt for his courage… The thought of it was unendurable, she decided, drying her eyes and getting to her feet, still with a sick sense of dread in her stomach, but no longer overpowering her. She would get him out of there if she had to drag him every inch of the way. As for Nicolae… well, there were causes and there were lost causes, she sadly concluded, and turned back to the house.
The pale, fair-haired lady stood before her, still wearing her sheer nightgown along with a terrifyingly benign expression (the red eyes and her sharp-toothed smile contributing nothing positive to it). The voice Michal had heard in her head now came from that inhuman mouth before her, and she found herself paralysed to the spot.
“You are such a good person, my sweet Miki,” spoke the lady, in a compassionate but frighteningly intense tone. “So brave… and, if I may, so much nicer than your brother. Oh, I don’t say Andrei isn’t a good person… were he not, I would merely have killed him. But he is a cynic. When all is finished, he might make a passable maidservant or casual lover, but I could not care for him… her, I should say. But you… So kind, and loving, so idealistic… but so afraid,” she added, gently stroking Michal’s face with her corpse-cold fingers, which only exacerbated Michal’s fear to the point of total panic, then of humiliation as she wet herself where she stood.
This did not escape the lady, who drew Michal into an embrace that was obviously intended to be comforting. Strangely enough, it actually was, after a few seconds of sheer terror, as intoxicating waves of sympathy seemed to emanate from her, in spite of Michal’s best inner efforts not to surrender her will. The lady held her close, stroked her hair, and whispered lovingly into her ear:
“You poor little thing… but don’t be afraid, my darling. For I now know exactly what to do with you. People believe such things of us: that a mortal can become as I am by drinking the blood of my kind. But there are life-giving fluids besides blood, Miki, and the effects can be so much more… delightful. To your brothers, now your sisters, I gave my essence… my feminine essence, Miki. But as for you, little one…” saying which, she slipped the gown from her shoulders, let it fall to her feet, and gently guided Michal’s head until her lips were resting upon the exposed nipple of a full and shapely, albeit stone-cold breast. “Drink, darling,” she whispered, while Michal tearfully complied, the final shreds of her resistance beaten down by the immense sense of desire that each of the lady’s words communicated to her. The lady’s “milk” (if it could be called such) was suffused with a tingling energy that warmed and soothed her, in spite of its actual temperature being close to freezing, and caught between despair and desire, Michal sucked more eagerly, the world around her fading into oblivion, except for the adoring voice of the lady:
“That’s right, Miki dear. Drink, and become the child I never had. You shall have nothing to fear, ever again. It’s becoming better already, isn’t it? First, you didn’t really know what you feared, then you knew. Now it’s really happening, and you’re not afraid anymore, because you know it won’t be so bad, don’t you, my sweet? Sleep now, darling. I’m not completely sure what you will awaken to… but I am most intrigued to learn. Now, let’s get you indoors, and out of those wet things, shall we?”
* * * * *
The following night, in the central district of Sibiu, an attractive Roma girl stopped at an all-night store on Strada Balescu and left with a large, squarish package under her arm. She was hardly dressed for a shopping trip… or anything else, in fact, as her tight black skirt and top barely served to conceal her underwear, and she was having a good deal of trouble balancing on her high heels. It was thus no great difficulty for the man who had been loitering outside the shop to follow her as she headed to the suburbs, catch up with her as soon as they were out of sight of anyone else, and clamp a hand over her mouth, while hissing threats:
“Easy now, miss. Don’t try nothing, and it’ll all be over before you know it, but don’t even think of screaming, you gypsy slut, or I swear- arggh!”
She had bitten his hand, and he flinched away, determined to pay her back with a sound punch or twenty, with kicks thrown in for good measure, when he caught sight of the actual bite mark: two small, but very deep-looking punctures that bled freely. Then he caught sight of her, staring back at him with a distorted, snarling expression that burned through all of the layers of evolution in his mind and appealed directly to the small, helpless mammal in the depths of his soul. Petrified in fear, he offered no resistance as her teeth descended upon his neck. Seconds later, he passed out, whereupon the woman sighed, wiped her mouth, picked up the package she had dropped, then picked up her victim just as easily, slung him over her shoulder, and continued on her way.
* * * * *
“Very good, Nicoleta,” declared the fair lady, observing the unconscious man on the floor of the bedchamber. “You learn quickly, my dear. He should suffice very well for the three of us.”
“What about Miki?” asked the dark-haired girl, gesturing to the corner of the room where a cage-like structure had been hastily constructed. Within it, upon a pile of black satin sheets, lay Michal. She was naked, her eyes were glazed and pinkish, and she sucked the thumb of one hand while the other alternately stroked and massaged her breasts, apparently contentedly. Smiling indulgently at the sight, the fair lady replied:
“Miki isn’t ready for that kind of nourishment… and never will be, I think. Which reminds me,” she added, taking a disposable diaper from the package that Nicola had bought, and moving over to the cage. Seeing her approach, Michal sat up and made happy, incoherent cooing noises, which continued as her “mother” entered the cage through a small gate, and became positively ecstatic as she slipped and fastened the diaper around her bare loins, rather more slowly and sensuously than was strictly necessary.
“There: see what your big sister’s bought for you, sweetie,” said the lady, slipping off her gown, as before, and inviting her “daughter” to feed, which on this occasion she did both eagerly and joyfully. “Good girl. Drink all you want, dear. It brings us even closer together… makes you more completely mine… and there won’t be any more nasty wet sheets for you to worry about, besides. With that taken care of, there’s nothing at all for you to worry about, is there? Or even to think about. Everything is just pure feeling for you, now. Such lovely feelings… I wish I could experience your world, dear Miki, but for a little time. It’s almost a shame that you don’t seem to be able to talk anymore, though you seem to be perfectly-”
Mummy… kiss… Miki?
“Oh, you clever thing,” declared the lady, as the simple, emotional thoughts of Michal completed their telepathic journey. “Of course I will,” and she held her “daughter” close and kissed her, lingeringly and passionately. When she released her, the baby-girl’s face was aglow with pleasure, and as she issued forth more ecstatic cooing and wet her diaper from sheer excitement, another thought was transmitted to the fair lady’s mind:
Mummy… play with… Miki?
“Of course I’ll play with you, my darling,” she replied, with a note of excitement in her own voice, “just as soon as we’ve got you all cleaned up again, you naughty thing. Run a bath, Nicoleta.”
“Sure… At least I’m still good for that, if nothing else,” muttered Nicoleta, with undisguised ire.
“And what, pray, is that intended to mean, young lady?”
“Nothing… Just wondering if you’ll ever find the time to ‘play with’ me again.”
“You’re a big girl, aren’t you?” sighed the lady. “Haven’t you any resources of your own? Why don’t you and your sister go out on the town, and find yourselves some nice boys? Nicer than this human vermin, at any rate,” she added, casting a loathing glance at the unconscious would-be rapist. Nicoleta’s expression, initially horror-struck at the very suggestion, gradually softened into thoughtfulness.
“Me and Andreea? Find boys? I… well… okay… sure. Why not? I mean… I suppose we are… in a manner of speaking…”
“You are pretty girls in any manner of speaking, dear. Have fun… but don’t be back too late. I may want to go out myself, and your little sister will almost certainly need changing again. Won’t you, Miki?” she asked, leading the diapered girl out of her crib, on her hands and knees. “Such a little handful that you are… but that’s alright, my sweet. We’re all here to take care of you, for ever and ever.”
Finis… or words to that effect.