Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Encounter 5/9


By Yehuda Berlinger. Copyright 2006, Yehuda Berlinger. All rights reserved.

(Chapters: 1, 2, 3, and 4)

WARNING: Contains sexual situations, and may not be suitable for children 12 years old or under.

Chapter 5: Empath

At 10:30 pm NY time, 5:50 am Jerusalem, Sarah was already fuzzed, which was unusual. She watched Mitchell cross the threshold into his apartment in Soho, his long black coat rippling behind him like Doppler waves.

She dozed peacefully in her Jerusalem bed, and restlessly in Long Island. She rode the subway back to Queens with her keys in her curled-up fist, ready to ward off any potential rapists, as her friend Avi had instructed her. She stepped under the irregular spurts of hot water in her uptown apartment shower.

Sarah followed him into his apartment as he minded on the single halogen spotlight. The apartment was an almost empty studio. His boots echoed loudly as he walked to the kitchen. As he walked, he waved her in the general direction of the room's only furniture, which included a battered chrome and black cloth Seaman's fold-out.

He messaged: "Have a seat. I'll make coffee."

She messaged back: "Thank you."

She could see a bathroom painted in some dull pinkish color, partially visible through a half-open door. She heard the cat before it shot out of the bathroom and into the kitchen, white fur on edge. Mitchell opened a bag, poured into a bowl, and placed the bowl on the floor. He murmured something; she couldn't hear what. Another cat, this one grayish blue, appeared at a narrow window through which Sarah could see regular luminescent slits on the exteriors of other buildings. This one scrambled to the floor, and then streaked into the kitchen.

Sarah looked around at the bare walls.

It was an old-style studio, with uneven wooden floors of some generic species of wood and a high ceiling. Aside from the fold-out, there was a low black metal trunk and a black glass coffee table supporting two fat law textbooks, a silver scanning pen, and a scribbled up notepad. Part of the table could be flipped up to a wi-net monitor. The room was otherwise empty, if you didn't count the full-length digital wall opposite the window. The fold-out was lightly laced with white and gray cat hair.

After a moment, the sounds and smells of coffee floated into the living room along with whistles of Bach. Bach whistles delicately slipped into real and ambient from some hidden speaker system. A green diode in the upper left corner of the digital wall winked rapidly.

Sarah removed her jacket, laid it neatly on the side arm of the fold-out. She wore a sleeveless black T and dark suit pants. She stepped out of her pumps, ran a toe over the wood grain on the floor, rubbed her palms together and sat down. Legs crossed and uncrossed. Placed her right arm on the back of the couch and lay her head in her hand.

Message: "How do you like it?"


Mitchell returned with two blue ceramic cups which he placed on the coffee table. His coffee appeared to be mostly milk. It was off-white.

"It's been unusually cool, hasn't it?" he asked. "Whose soul are you, tonight?"

The halogen dimmed as the digital wall began to glow in a swirl of purples and blues. The table changed to waves of seawater green. Sarah's eyes reflected the diffuse light from the table.

"Quite cool, yes. It may get hotter again soon," she answered. "My mind and body may be subject to a diverse consciousness, but my soul is always my own. I'm fuzzed, if that's what you're asking."

Sarah, moved a little closer to Mitchell on the couch. Mitchell didn't move at all, damn him, other than to grin. The wall became the first flying scene from Dumbo. Bach continued to play.

"Soon, yes. A warm front coming in from the West, I heard." "How can a soul be owned, even by itself?"

"I heard that, too. But it may snow in the south," she added, eyes in a mock warning. "Come here and find out. And add me to your damn system's access list."

Dumbo changed to rain on evergreens. Thunder could be faintly heard under the music.

"Snow. That's not what I heard. I heard rain. Wet ... and rainy." He leaned towards her, his mouth brushing hers, softly. "Here you go. Don't do anything I wouldn't do." Sent her the access key.

In West Hempstead, Sarah broke into a drenching sweat.

"I guess we'll just have to wait ... and see ..." her voice trailed off. He was kissing her now, or she was him. Or both. "Don't worry, I'll try not to break anything." She changed the rain to a pulsing red circle, the music to violins sounding out a heartbeat.

Waves of red pulsed across the wall, speeding up until they were faster than human vision could follow. The violins played a single poignant melody, like echoes of a human soul.

In her bed in Jerusalem, Sarah's right hand crept down her belly while her left hand gripped her breast.

In less than ten seconds she was gasping, "Now. Now. I need you now." She rasped, or messaged, or some combination of both.

On the subway, Sarah's face was flushed and burning. What the hell? Her crotch was damp. She was worried it was going to be noticeable; she imagined that it already must be. A group of young black men across from her were laughing and cursing, evidently trying to impress an amiable black girl who may have been one of their girlfriends. She very badly wanted to hide. She curled up on the seat, tears beginning to stream down her hot cheeks.

Then she was twisting, arching, gripping, and raking his back with short unpainted nails.

In the shower, Sarah moaned, gripped the soap and sank to the shower floor, fingers dancing furiously.

Mitchell was barely inside of her when she had already finished her first and was starting on the second.

In some small corner of her mind, she thought, That was fast, but it got no further than that.

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