The message came through and I smiled. I usually ignore invitations to Skype. But this one I was going to acknowledge. Heck, this I was looking forward to. I set up my speakers and my microphone so I could sit back and Skype without doing my back in.
When the buzzing started I was ready.
She’s beautiful. So fucking beautiful. A good deal older than me, but in such good shape it was unbelievable. I still don’t understand how I managed to snag myself someone as amazing as she is. Or why on earth she likes me. It makes no sense, to be honest. But I’m willing to go with it. With my cougar.
“How are you, my love?” Her voice is silk and chocolate and honey and the finest red wine.
“I’m good. I miss you.”
“I miss you too darling. When are you coming?”
She tilted her head to one side, rested her chin gently on her hand, then looked at me, as if she wanted to read something in my eyes that only she would ever be able to see. I love it when she looks at me like that. The love in her eyes is something I couldn’t possibly replace.
“I need you,” she said. “I need you now.”
“Shall I drive down after work?”
“No. Now, not after work.”
I sighed audibly. She frowned.
“Not even for me?”
I hate it when she does this. She knew, even then, that I would do just about anything for her. She smiled.
“It’s okay if you really can’t.”
“No, really. Just wait for me.”
The smell of her perfume filled the room. She was here. But how? I turned around. The room was empty.
I turned back to the screen. There was a cloud of multihued smoke on and around her seat.
“Right behind you.”
I turned again, In time to watch her coalesce in front of me. Yes, coalesce. From some kind of gas. The same gas. Rose carmethine and cobalt and alizarin and terracotta and forest and sky and gold and gunmetal and a myriad other colours at once. Her perfume. Strong, so strong. I watched a cloud of sweet smelling gas seethe and change colour and eventually turn into the woman I love.
I freaked out.
She laughed. It was the sound I loved more that any other, a better sound than all the music I’ve ever made. It calmed me, made me think things through.
So bae isn’t human. That’s good to know, in case I ever need to get out of a sticky situation. And in case I’m ever tempted to cheat. She can teleport.
“You’re not afraid?” I shrugged. I was more curious than anything else. “I’m glad I wasn’t wrong about you.”
There was a hint of steel to the silk and chocolate and honey and pinot noir.
“What if you had been?”
“Well I probably wouldn’t have killed you, as I really like you, but I would have had to find a way to stop you telling anyone what you’ve witnessed.”
“Ah. So I take it I can’t tell my guys my girlfriend is a teleporter.”
“That would be ideal. And I’m not your girlfriend.”
“You haven’t asked me.”
That stopped me. I wondered for a moment if this was the time to be thinking of relationships and all the associated madness, but I didn’t let reason or logic stop me.
“To be honest, I didn’t think you’d…”
She smiled and made to speak. I hushed her.
“It’ll only take a moment.”
I held her close and asked her if she would be my baby. She laughed.
“We have way more pressing issues to attend to, but yes. Yes I will. I will be your baby. And now you will follow me.”
“To the end of the earth.”
“Well… We might be going beyond that.”
“What do… Oh…” She stared at me intensely. I continued irregardless. “You really aren’t human, are you?”
“No. But our biologies are compatible so…”
“Hush. I don’t care.”
I figured if I could man up and ask her out after watching her teleport in a cloud of psychedelic smoke, I could stick around to find out how far we could take this love. She smiled again.
“I was so right about you,” she said as she tightened her grip around me. “This might feel a little weird.”
Suddenly the world was a kaleidoscope of colour and shape, but soft and smooth looking, as though we were traversing nearly insubstantial marshmallows. She kissed my nose as we went, and giggled.
It was a moment and an aeon at the same time, but eventually we were on the ground again, smiling in each other’s arms as we coalesced from the smoke.
A man awaited us. We broke apart quite quickly. His expression was stern, grim. He was a rather old man, his face weathered and worn from what must have been decades of hard work. He barely spared me a glance.
“This him?” He asked.
“He ain’t look like much, but I guess that’s what they said about me.”
I was rather perplexed at this. I didn’t say anything. She looked at me and took my hand tight in hers as the man but two fingers to his lips and whistled. It was a long, keening sound, neither happy not sad, but profound all the same. As he whistled people came. People of all kinds. Not all human, not all humanoid, but all drawn to the sound. I inadvertently stepped back. She tightened her already vice like grip on my hand.
She lifted her head and spoke in a loud, clear voice. Far from chocolate and silk, this was steel and gold and guts and glory.
“My friends, I have been away from you too long. I must apologise. The beginning of a new cycle is close to a completely new life to me. I confess, I have enjoyed myself a bit more than I should have these past months.”
She turned at me and smiled. I was warmed in spite of myself and smiled back. I returned her grasp on my hand, finally, and her grip relaxed. Only just.
“And yet, my friends, even though I have been carousing, it has been to good effect. For I have returned with a partner for my next cycle, a man for whom the impossible holds no fear. A patient, a caring man. A man who hasn’t forgotten how it feels to be a child, and yet has taken up the yoke of adulthood industriously and without complaint.”
I was still wondering what she meant by ‘cycle’. She turned and spoke to me directly, the chocolate and silk and honey and Merlot back in effect.
“My dear, I shall be your companion, and if you will, you will be my husband for the next fifty years. But before you pledge yourself to me or otherwise, you deserve to know the whole truth.”
She raised her voice again, and told a tale the others had obviously heard a thousand times before, a tale that was part of their history. She was an immortal, a deathless one. She had become mother of this planet when she’d been elevated to immortality by the gods. Every fifty years she had to undergo a rebirth, a rebirth that left her young again, young and as beautiful as the day she’d turned nineteen an unfathomable number of millennia ago. The cost was the life of her current consort. Which was why the old man was so surly. He spoke up.
His voice was gruff and dignified, but I could hear the hollowness within. Fifty years ago he’d been offered the exact same terms, and he’d accepted them. Now he was struggling to accept the consequences. And so was I. She looked at me.
“Do you need some time to think about it? I won’t ask you to make a binding decision if you’re not completely sure.”
I smiled. As I said, she already knew I’d do anything for her. I took both her hands in mine.
“As long as you teach me that teleportation trick,” I said, with a twinkle in my eye.
She let go of my hands and turned to Bill. Bill. That was his name. Not Tutankhamen, not Caesar, not even Jonah Hex. Just Bill.
“It is time, Bill. We had some fun, didn’t we?”
“Aye, that we did, my queen.”
“Do you still love me?”
“No, not really.”
“Oh. Well. Goodbye then. Close your eyes.”
He did. She covered them with a hand and spoke two words.
Bill keeled over but didn’t hit the ground. He shimmered, like he was covered in a bright gold mist. He disappeared into it, and it became larger and brighter, enveloping both him and her. I had to shield my eyes from the glare, and try to block her screams out. The gathered populace tried to block out the screams too, I could see. But they couldn’t.
In an instant, or an eternity, it was over. She collapsed in my arms and was still. Bill was gone.
She was beautiful, so fucking beautiful. And I belonged to her now.