By John Shane




            I was a lone shadow free from the night. A voluptuous, graceful shadow- my wet lips quivering. I was shrouded within a sandstorm, which came off the horizon where dusk had arrived. It even smelled faintly of hashish.


            I made it to the stable. I was thorough about making sure nobody would pull the trap on me. But of coarse, nobody was going to. My tracks lay buried beneath the sand. My robes kept slipping whenever I gained up speed, so I took them off. Ever so often I would see villagers refilling their brules for bathes or a mother removing her clothes from a hanger. I was silent past them- and stealthy.

            The stable stood quietly near the Tumas stream, south of Bucharest. At dusk, not a soul could be found here, normally. However this was all not normal. My testicles hurt from all the running. I crossed a short, wooden bridge, which lead to the side of the stable.

            While crossing, my big toe got stuck in one of the planks and a splinter wedged underneath my toenail.

            It was so real.

            I came around the back, making sure Ghumghod was not waiting for me. He was nowhere to be seen. Then again, it was just not his time yet. It began to grow hot. The robes were still nestled under my arms but they were no longer of any use to me.

            I approached the stable doors, which were slightly ajar. I heard a rustling inside. Then, a moan. A high-pitched, female moan. The girls moan. I opened the door. There was Ingrid, crouched down over the girlŐs naked body. Ingrid, of coarse was wearing her lovely white dress. She was rubbing what looked to be oil across the girlŐs thighs. Ash from IngridŐs cigarette kept dropping upon the girlŐs tender, little stomach.

            The girl and I were both naked, like animals-we showed no lies. In that stable, I stood tall with my eyes awake to the world of my dreams. Nothing could suppress my desires, there. 

            I came up to Ingrid from behind, while she was still applying the oil- Or whatever it was she was applying. She jerked her head slightly to the side, acknowledging my presence. The girl however, had no idea I had entered the stable. Her blindfold prevented that and I did not make a sound.

            I placed my robes down next to IngridŐs bare feet. The hay was aggravating my toe. It stank of animal dung. I ran my fingers through IngridŐs hair. By accident, her cigarette dropped onto the girlŐs stomach and then rolled into the hay. The girl wiggled in panic as the hay beneath her set ablaze. Ingrid quickly grabbed my robes and put out the fire.

            Just like life, for something like that to happen.

            Ingrid shot me that annoyed expression of hers, just as the girl began screaming and crying.

            " Shut up or I'll punish you with a torture so severe you won't even have a throat to scream with." Ingrid snapped. " Did you hear me?" Ingrid kicked the girl in the face and continued rubbing the oil onto the girlŐs breasts.

            The girlŐs hands were tied behind her back but her legs were free. I kneeled down and began feeling the girlŐs soft, curvaceous legs. So young. So smoothed out with the oil. The girl began nervously shifting around, feeling the second pair of hands upon her bare flesh.

            I spread her gleaming legs apart and gazed wide-eyed sighed with content. She looked just like Robin- the legs, the mouth- just perfect in everyway. But this was not Robin. This was my girl completely. Robin was never completely mine. She would've spit on me in those last months we were together.

            Spit on me.

            Here- never.

            Ingrid took out her blade and began slicing the girl's chest- Tiny incisions with a subtle hand. The girl howled in pain and more tears ran down her scarlet cheeks. Heavy breathing began to emanate from within her- Penetrating me- Fueling my hunger. I began to stroke her inner thighs- Slowly, ever so slowly.

            Doctor Ramsies was so right in recommending this. Every time, I say that.

            Ingrid then put down the knife and began kissing her on the lips. She licked the girlŐs upper lip and the tip of her nose, all in one stroke. All the while, I just stared in between those legs. And finally when I felt it time, I pushed myself in there hard as I could- the sound of our bodies slapping together.

            Then, finally, Ghumghod burst open the stable doors and waved his fist in the air. He removed the sword from his sheath and began to charge at me. Ghumghod- the Arab bastard, played to perfection. That home wrecker- I never thought I could look at him again, but there he was about to kill me. Oh, it was amusing.

            As a matter of fact, I laughed at the precise moment before my pending decapitation. Then Ingrid fired her gun. And I kept laughing and the girl kept crying and the shot kept ringing and her hair kept waving and Ghumghod kept bleeding and the gun kept falling and I finally finished.  I stood up and walked over to Ghumghod.

            Blood rolled out from his forehead. I kneeled down to his body and removed the sword from his iron tight fist. I came back over to the girl. Spit on her.

            My screens began to flicker.

            I sliced her head off and reached over toward Ingrid. We embraced and I kissed her on the lips. I then proceeded to drive the sword through her stomach. Ingrid dropped to the floor, a flicker and the program ended.

            I removed the virtual simulation mask.

            The light of the room hurt my eyes at first, but then my apartment came into clear focus.  It was the best one yet I thought. Maybe because it was the last one. I was enthralled by the fierce impact- Nothing was ever so intense or so--

            Robin was so-- real. Exactly the way she looked when we were fourteen. So hot- the air, the arms and legs. The blood. It was overwhelming. I felt like a new person. Like I had been cleansed of all my hate- all my worries, washed clean away over an electronic sink. The divorce with Robin affected me so much, that she appeared in every simulation I had. She had eaten me alive. She kept doing such dirty things- such atrocities, my heart felt like imploding.

            I just wanted to destroy her- Get her out of my life. She had no kisses for me. She could never do it again. Not with me. Only with Ghumghod. They both tried to destroy me. I was lucky that she left with him when she did-- Lucky the divorce wasn't that life shattering for me. Maybe that's a lie.

            Thanks to Doctor Ramsies I was able to pull my life back together again. He told me that virtual therapy was beneficial and I eventually agreed with that opinion. His keen eye led me to the Realitor program. For one month, everyday for one hour, my salvation from her resided in that program.

             I removed myself out of all the body gear. I felt good. I got up and called Ingrid to confirm our dinner plans. She told me to meet her at The Viper House at eight. I then telecalled Doctor Ramsies and explained to him how the session went. I didn't tell him everything but I felt he was quite pleased with the results of the session. He had his papers and forms ready to be thermal-signed through the telenet. My therapy was over and I felt cured.

            I showered, popped on my best suit and was out the door for the restaurant. On my way to the restaurant, I began thinking of how wonderful life can be. Even though the divorce was a mess I was now able to cope with any situation. All that bad stuff was now far in the past. Ingrid marked the beacon of full recovery and I felt like a million bucks

            Driving past Lincoln Ave, I saw all the male prostitutes aligned in front of the Parkway Terrace. How ironic, I thought, Parkway Terrace being the wasp fortress that it is. Such rich people living in such a bad neighborhood. Just as I was thinking this, something very strange happened.

            As I drove by the next mansion, I thought I saw a hyena crossing the street. Hyenas arenŐt exactly prevalent on the New York streets but then again most animals arenŐt. Two seconds later, I saw the same hyena running along the sidewalk only this time with a decapitated head. Blood spilled about in bucket-sized quantities, all over the crowded, city sidewalk. But nobody seemed to notice this.

            I blinked several times and it was gone. I hallucinated but I couldnŐt figure out why. Of coarse I did not dwell on this because I was too wrapped up in celebrating my recovery.

            I arrived at the Viper House. Tony, at the door blew me a kiss when I walked in. He never did that kind of thing in all my years of going there. I was seated at table five, next to the stage. Ingrid had not arrived yet so I sat and watched the performance artist. I ordered a tall shot of ouzo. Things were so wonderful.

            Ingrid finally arrived. She sat down and asked me how my therapy went. I told her it went smoothly and that she was actually featured in the simulation. She said oh yeah, in a sexy tone and ordered some vodka.

            We were in such a pleasant conversation when suddenly, as I glanced over to the performer I saw trunk muscles of Amazon trees sprouting from the ground. They seemed to move around in a rhythmic formation. They were slicing through the waiters and through the customers and innocent people and blood began to splash against the walls.

            Suddenly I began to see Robins face sitting across from me at the table.  She was laughing like I was laughing in the Realitor. I began to feel sick and scared.  Then this person who looked like Robin stood up and lashed a whip at me striking my lips.

            I stood up from the table- a voice began to seep in--

            Are you alright? WhatŐs the matter Rob?  You feeling okay?

            I closed my eyes for a second and then opened them to see Ingrid sitting in front of me, again. All I was thinking was how much I wanted to continue the treatment. I was cured but I wanted more. What if something like the divorce happened again? Maybe with Ingrid? How could I handle it? I wouldnŐt, thatŐs how. Without the mask it would be impossible. Doctor Ramsies didnŐt even now how bad things were getting before we did the treatment.

            I told Ingrid I wanted to go home because I was getting dizzy.

We left my car at the Viper House and she drove me back to her place. It was the first time IŐd ever gone back to her place. The whole way there she was saying how it was probably food poisoning by those rotten bastards at the restaurant.

            Her voice was so comforting- so tranquil. I trusted her but something was wrong. Very wrong. Her palm verification system let us inside, as the automatic front door locked behind us. We entered her apartment on the sixth floor. She told me to make myself comfortable while she brewed us some tea. I laid down on her leather couch and tried to put myself back together.

            I felt nervous and began to sweat severely. I kept seeing those trees again only this time they had a metallic shine to them. Ingrid came back into the room, just as I began to see the visions. My heart raced as Robin's liquid face crawled out from different cracks in the walls. These liquids then enveloped IngridŐs head and formed something new- It was Robin again.

            She began the laughter, only this time I would place the permanent muzzle. All I ever wanted to do was stop the laughter. Then I began to see those images-  my naked self; wanting to kill. Needing to kill. Without the mask.