Slipping on her camisole, Miette looked in the mirror. She studied the face before her, wondering what lay behind those eyes. The Chief of Staff at the Queensland Bulletin always undermined her. She’d show him she had what it takes to be the she had what it takes to be the Entertainment and Arts. Being a cadet did not mean she was stupid. Tell that to someone who cares.
She walked over to her wardrobe and peered inside. “Would the suit of my desire please step forward,” she said, smiling to herself. She always thought it was funny when she spoke to herself. After all, talking to yourself is the first sign of insanity.
She chose a black pant-suit with a matching white blouse. Checking herself out in the mirror she knew this was the one. He would call her a ball-crunching feminist for wearing pants, but he would respect her. His idea of feminism made men from the 1950s look enlightened. Taking one last look around her apartment, Miette locked the front door.
She started walking to the train station. There. That feeling. She looked around. No. No one was around. She could have sworn someone was watching. She swivelled her head, searching for a dirty old man in an overcoat. No. Scoffing at herself, she passed it off as modern-day paranoia. She was wrong. What she did not see was the woman standing opposite her on the nearby bridge. A woman with long black hair. She wore a plain brown suit that did not match her facial expression. That of a predator watching her prey.
Miette paid for her ticket and stepped on the train. She wondered what she had been eating. Too much chilli sauce on her chicken. This feeling of paranoia every morning over the last month was getting ridiculous.
She arrived at the Queensland Bulletin office and felt the tension immediately. Great. The editor was in a shit mood again. He always took it out on the cadets. Lucky me, she thought.
“Wher’ve you been! Good God, woman, it’s 8:30 in the morning!” ranted her editor, Terry McGillis, dickhead extraordinaire.
“What’s the problem, Terry?” Miette asked, walking into his office, wishing he would yell at her in private. Why did he have to demean her in front of her work colleagues?
She closed the door behind her. Terry pulled the blinds. What was he up to? Not again. Miette had thought it was a silly rumour that Terry flirted with anything with a set of breasts. She knew her workmates would find this funny. Where was the new-age sensitive man when you needed him?
Terry said opposite her behind his desk. “The Queensland Art Gallery has rung up to inform us about this alternative artist. She does death-themed sculptures. A bit of a loony. Anyway, they’ve given us the exclusive on it, provided you show the artist around town for next work. Humour her. Don’t worry about the cost. I will reimburse you.”
With a raised eyebrow, Miette said, “Terry this doesn’t sound like usual practice.”
“Look I owe them at the art gallery. Many times they’ve helped me out when I needed a quick story. It’s a way to pay them back,” Terry stated, his tone showing that she had no leverage in this issue. “I need you. This artist girl is a lesbian by all accounts. Do you think any of these Neanderthal types in this office wouldn’t try to screw her? Anyway, this’ll be a good experience for you. You can work on your networking skills with artists she knows.”
Sighing, Miette said, “Okay Terry, I’ll do it. Give me her contact details.” She pulled out her pen and notebook.
“You don’t need to. I’ve arranged for you both to meet over dinner at my place tonight. Hope you’re not busy.” He winked at her.
Pretending not to notice, she stated in a very straight-laced voice that tonight would be fine. He started herding her out of his office. When her hand was on the door and she was about to turn the knob, he groped her ass. She turned and slapped him hard in the face.
“You asshole, Terry” she said with visible anger in her dark eyes. “A set of breasts doesn’t make me your toy. If you ever touch me again, I’ll report you for sexual harassment.” Then she walked out of the office and slammed the door in his astonished face. The last female cadet hadn’t even put up a fight.
Miette left his office, fuming. Out of the corner of her eye she saw a beautiful woman walking towards Terry’s office. There was something about her that deserved watching. Needed it. Her shining black hair falling down her back. The simple sophistication of her suit. Terry opened the door, salivating. Morya was early. Feeling Miette’s eyes on her, she smiled and winked. Miette blushed. As she walked into Terry office she blew a kiss in Miette’s direction. Terry shut the door with the eagerness of a bitch in heat. He didn’t know why the agency had sent him such a talented and beautiful escort, but he didn’t care. Miette passed this off as NMB (Not My Business). She wondered why such a beautiful woman would be around a deviant like Terry. Fat Terry, sweaty Terry, smelling like a fart in Summer’s butt.
Miette pushed this woman from her mind. She had work to do. She went to the art gallery via a taxi. Miette knew she should have some idea of this mystery woman’s art before she interviewed her. She found it gave her an insight into their personality. She did not tell the art gallery who she was as she wanted to gain her own perspective. Paying twenty dollars admission she stepped inside the art exhibition.
There was a smell. What was it? It reminded her of rust. Walking close to the first sculpture she smelt it again. It’s not rust, it’s blood! Hang on, that’s ridiculous, she said to herself. This only happens in horror movies. She looked at the first sculpture. It looked like skin stretched over human bones. Contorted. The eyes were empty sockets. The lipless mouth screamed in silence. It was a man, his genitalia in a bowl at his feet. The sculpture had crusty looking wounds on it. How did she make him look so real?
It was 6 pm. Miette had to leave – can’t put off the inevitable. She drove her white Honda Civic over to Terry’s house. She was frightened. It was one thing to stand up for yourself in public. The risks were much higher in private. As she raised her hand to knock on the door it swung open. “You must be Miette,” a husky, sensual voice whispered. In Terry’s darkened hallway a hand reached out and pulled Miette inside. Nails bit into her flesh. She could feel this woman breathing on her face. This woman, taller than Miette, leaned down. Her other hand reached around Miette’s waist to pull her closer.
“Ladies, I leave you alone and find you getting acquainted,” Terry smirked. “I take it you both know each other’s names?”
Miette felt relieved for once to see Terry. She pulled herself out of this creepy woman’s arms and walked over to Terry. Her relief was short-lived. Terry’s ‘wandering hand disease’ took over. She kicked him in the ankle. Some people don’t know how to take ‘no’ for an answer. She walked into the dining room and gave Terry the bottle of Pinot Noir that she had brought. It was a cosy arrangement, a circular table draped in scarlet cloth.
“Ladies, dinner is served,” Terry said, with a twisted wicked smile on his smooth, sleazy face. He beckoned both women to take a seat. Miette found herself wedged between the two of them. A creepy triangle.
The first course was garlic snails, dripping in butter. Something felt wrong. In fact, someone’s toe was inching up her thigh. Before she could speak she felt someone’s hand caressing her other thigh. She brushed away both alien touches.
The meal continued in constrained silence. Bringing the red wine to her lips, Miette drank deeply. God she wished the night would be over soon. In fact, she wished this was the past and right now she was safe at home. Miette thought about the night while the woman and Terry amused each other. She was used to men’s unwanted attention, but a female was a new one.
“What luscious thoughts are you thinking, my sex kitten?” Terry purred, his hands caressing her back.
Pushing him away with a slap, Miette said, “I’m not your anything! Since you two are having such a good time I’ll be leaving.” Throwing her business card on the table, she whirled out of the room, slamming the front door as she left. In the distance, her car screeched away, leaving them to their debauchery.
“So, she’s gone,” the woman said smiling, teeth glistening in the darkened room. Leaning forward she said, “what do you want little man?”. Terry could see straight down her dress. She wasn’t wearing a bra or underwear. She pushed his chair back from the table with surprising strength. She stepped out of her dress and sat naked on his lap, rubbing her breasts against his chest. His hands snaked around her waist and roughly pulled her buttocks to him. She undid his tie and rubbed it over her erect nipples. She leaned backward. He grabbed her left breast, licking and biting it. Terry was too excited and prematurely ejaculated. Taking him by the hand she stood up and led him to his bedroom.
After he was spent she drank from him even though she hated it. Needs must, she thought. The blood tasted like a person’s soul, anywhere from glistening to sewage. Terry tasted like the pond scum he was. She wanted Miette’s, fresh and pure. Terry whimpered under his breath when she checked his pulse. Good, she thought, he’s unconscious. His chest and back were open wounds ripped apart by her nails. Blood always made her lose control. She roused Terry so he was somewhat conscious. She looked deeply into his eyes, ensorcelling him so he would forget she existed. It was time to clean up the evidence.
Morya had excelled in her role, grooming Terry so that Miette could be accessed. She would reward Morya and the escort agency would mysteriously close down. She started pacing around Terry’s room. Where would he put Miette’s address? He had to know where she lived as he had the creeper feel about him. Rummaging through his drawers she finally found his address book. Finally, she knew Miette’s address. The hunt was about to begin.
Miette slammed the brakes on and ran to her mother’s front door. Knocking frantically she thought she heard footsteps.
“Miette, what’s wrong” said an old woman, battered by the years, as she opened the door.
“Mum!” Miette cried, throwing herself into her mother’s arms. “It was so horrible. My boss is always trying to force himself on me and tonight this creepy woman was doing it too. What do I do?”
Looking concerned, Miette’s mother, Catherine, said, “I don’t understand. Please start from the beginning. Would you like a cup of tea?” Miette nodded as almost ran inside the house, slamming the door behind her. Terry, she was used to, but she couldn’t get that woman’s knowing looks and searching hands out of her mind.
Lost in her thoughts, Miette did not see the face watching her through the lounge room window. A bitter angry face hiding in the dark. Morya’s face. Her job was to follow Miette as she would be the latest to join the Queen’s harem. Morya was fascinated by the way Miette cried. Silent tears falling down her cheeks. Why would their Queen want someone so pathetic and weak? Morya would get her revenge on Miette, she thought to herself. She’d had to debase herself for weeks with that disgusting man. The doctor could help her. He always enjoyed having some fun.
As she brought Earl Grey tea into the lounge room Catherine asked Miette what was wrong. Looking around the cosy room, tears slid down her cheeks. Miette explained the sexual harassment at work, the artist and her increasing paranoia. She held her mug so tightly her knuckles were white.
Catherine said “You’re always welcome to move back, honey. I think you should report your boss for sexual harassment but the decision is up to you. If you’re being followed although I don’t know why play it safe. There is no harm in making a police report.”
“What about the creepy artist?” Miette said.
Playing with her hair, Catherine said, “That is a pickle. You have to be around this woman, but you have every right to interview her without intimidation.” With a shrug, she said, “I don’t know any artists. Entitlement may be normal amongst them. Her artwork doesn’t sound like my cup of tea. Write up some gloss piece to make her happy.”
Nodding, Miette said, “Good advice as always, Mum. One thing I do find odd is I still don’t know her name. Terry didn’t introduce us either and she never offered. Also, her gross exhibition, Human Flesh, doesn’t state the artist’s name. What is it all about?”
“Part of her mystique I guess.” Catherine hugged Miette. “It will be okay, you’ll see. You know what your father would have said if he was still with us. Sweetie, I love you very much. You can always stay here if you don’t feel safe going home tonight.”
Miette awoke as her alarm went off for the third time. Damn. She would have to face Terry after last night’s experience. She knew he still expected her to follow through. Trooper time.
She walked to the train station. There. Not again! So stupid to feel like someone was watching her. What did Terry put in the food last night? She had drunk to much wine but who could blame her. She looked around out of habit. Across the road to the nearby bridge, she saw a woman with long silky black hair floating in the wind. She was staring straight at her. Then she blew Miette a kiss.
Suddenly Miette knew where she had seen her before, going into Terry’s office! She shook her head as if to clear it. I don’t have time to deal with this now, she thought to herself. She turned away from those hypnotic blue eyes. She felt those eyes driving into her back, nailing her. She used up all her willpower to force herself to keep walking and catch the train. Too many coincidences in one day and too much to deal with.
Shit! It didn’t work. Morya was livid. Usually, she could hold anyone’s gaze long enough for them to desire her and go to her. It helped if they were lesbians or hetero men. It seems Miette is hetero female. Morya knew her Queen would be delighted. More to break. Pleasure and pain and all that. How the hell was she supposed to get Miette interested? Talking to her was more likely to frighten her now. With a malicious smile, she realised Terry could help arrange things. She crossed the road to catch the train herself.
Miette took a deep breath and opened the door to the Queensland Bulletin. No one looked at her as if something had happened. Good. It meant Terry was being silent on this one. Thank God! She walked over to the desk. Lots of messages and her in-tray was overflowing. She perused her emails to look for the important ones. Christ! There was a message from Terry saying she was to meet up with the artist for a 1 pm lunch meeting. At least the meeting was in public and hopefully about art. There was a mobile phone number provided. She rang the number and a young female voice answered. “How can I help you?”
“My name is Miette from the Queensland Bulletin. I’m ringing in regards to the email I received over the lunch meeting at Cafe Bronte. Can you please pass on that I would be pleased to attend to discuss her exhibition, Human Flesh.” She hoped the young woman did not notice that her voice was quavering.
“I’ll ensure I pass on the message. Thank you for calling.” The mobile phone hung up.
With shaking steps and teary eyes, the young servant walked up to the Queen’s bedroom chambers. Knocking on the door she prayed to God for mercy.
“Enter,” an imperious voice commanded.
The teenage servant closed the door behind her and threw herself on the ground. Her forehead was pressed into the polished wooden floor. One tear paid homage to her fears.
“Mistress, I beg your mercy. You have an answer to the message you wanted to receive.”
“Get off the floor girl. Tell me the message how I like it.”
The girl raised herself off the floor. She unzipped her cotton slip and let it fall to the ground. She let out her hair. Her curly brown hair fell in ringlets around her shoulders. Numb with shock, head downcast, she walked over to the bed. Demurely she sat on the edge of the bed. She looked around. Another girl lay prostrate on the bed. It was her twin sister. They had escaped sexual abuse only to find worse monsters.
“Lie down girl and tell me the message.” The teenager tried to say the message without crying, without responding in fear or pain. That made the Queen angry. She said you tasted sour. It was hard. She needed her hit badly. She felt itchy. Lying back on the bed, naked, she retold the message to the Queen. The Queen said astride her. She leaned over to her bedside table and pulled out a syringe and injected the girl. She pulled the oblivious girl up and lifted her onto her lap. Holding the girl tight by the waist, she took her fill while the girl chased the dragon.
The Queen looked at her bed with annoyance. Now it was messy with two bodies. One she had drunk too much and the other had overdosed and died. She rang her bell and the strawberry-blonde harem woman appeared. She looked at the bed and without being told, started moving the girls, one at a time out of the room. The woman beckoned to the nearby male guards. Two came over and each slung a girl over their shoulder. More fodder for the oubliette.
Miette arrived early out of nervousness. It’s a pity she didn’t smoke or drink coffee. Tea or water didn’t feel enough. Ten minutes later a red Mercedes convertible pulled up. Damn, that artist knew how to make an impression. Her outfit was all cleavage and exposed thighs. A man on a motorbike veered into a parked car.
In the sunlight, Miette could get a better look at her. She was tall, model height. Her was hair lazily piled on top of her head with pieces loose to frame her face and escape down her back. She wore ruby red stilettos with a flowing black satin skirt with splits that went up to her waist on both thighs. A black velvet corset, which made her ample breasts spillover, complimented the skirt. She finished the outfit off with a black ribbon tied around her neck. An elegant long neck. Her eyes were dark and mysterious, large and childlike. Her lips were a dark blood red. Her skin was deathly pale, complemented by high cheekbones. She was beautiful, exotic, sexy and dangerous.
“I hope I wasn’t late, darling,” she purred, running one long elegant hand down her throat. A fingernail grazed the tip of her cleavage, pivoting attention to one of her sensual zones.
Crossing her arms around her chest, Miette answered, “No, I haven’t been waiting long.”
“We are not eating here, ” the woman drawled.
“What?” Miette squeaked. Pulling herself together, she said, “where then?”
“I thought it would be better for the article if you saw where I get my artistic inspiration from.” A sly smile flitted over her face.
Miette felt nervous but she did need that story. The woman watched Miette’s thoughts run transparently over her face.
“Alright,” Miette said. What would she do in private that she did not do in public, she wondered.