| DARKSIDE: The United States of Anarchy; "The Mystic Woods."
[Version Control: Original.]
[Disclaimer: This text is intended for adult audiences, if you
aren't of age to view it, be somewhere else. This series of
stories explores the darker aspects of the human experience, if
that might offend you, then you were warned, and it isn't my
problem. -- KTM]
Anything can happen in the Multiverse. Even a world that
is much like ours, but which somehow... isn't. A world that is a
magnet for the blackness in the dreams and souls of humankind. A
world known as: The Darkside.
The World's economic system depends on a delicate
interlocking system of mutual trust and financial debt. When
those bonds shattered, the governments and monetary institutions
crumbled. Even the most idealistic civil servants left their
jobs when their families were gripped with hunger. The Survivors
of the Chaos would come to call their nation the United States of
Chapter 18. "The Mystic Woods." -- by KTM.
Gary Miller drummed his hands on the steering wheel of
the big truck. The Captain of the Knights of the Open Road
Society (USAN #12) stayed at a Keep as seldom as possible these
days. There were several hundred full members of the Society
now, and thousands of aspiring members. There was paperwork that
had to be done, but he could do it anywhere. His rig was fully
wired to the net.
Motown's greatest hits boomed in his speakers, and the tunes
made the early springtime miles speed by. The dozing in
the seat beside him snored softly. He had a decently trimmed
beard, and his graying hair was pulled back in a strict ponytail
under a battered Yankee's cap. Gary had been going his way; to
the south end of the Great Smoky Mountains, so he'd brought him
along. The guy was company on a lonely of road, and he
was quiet. Not like some hitchers he'd had. There was sort of a
creepy air to him, though.
The K.O.R.S. had assimilated the Keep/Lord structure over
the Winter. Those who caused trouble for members or their
missions were forcibly reorganized by the Empire. It hadn't
taken many incidents like that before the rest of the Keeps
negotiated to prevent the Emperor from doing the same to them.
The terms were simple; their monopoly was over. They had to
abide to a code of conduct, and welcome any traveler with full
service, providing their money was good. Nowadays, any Keep
without a K.O.R.S. endorsement didn't get many visitors, and they
were dying out.
Gary heard a noise from his passenger. Looking over, the
older was in the grip of a dream. Closed eyes rolled under
his lids, and his fingers twitched and clenched. He muttered too
softly to be understood. When he snapped his green eyes open and
lurched forward with a start, Gary jumped, too.
"Let me out here," the said. "This is my stop."
Gary began to slow the big truck. "We're in the middle of
nowhere," he said reasonably. "The last town was two miles back,
and I could have spit across it."
The Yankees fan shook his head. "I know someone who lives
out here, and I have to visit them." He gave a half-grimace when
he said it.
The truck pulled over, and Gary stuck his hand out. "Well,
good luck, timer. Hope you enjoy your visit."
A bitter humor showed in the bright green eyes. "I probably
will." He clasped Gary's hand, and reached for the door. With
one foot on the running board, he hesitated, and turned back.
There was a look of pity in his verdant gaze. "Good luck to you,
Mr. Miller. I have a feeling you're going to need it." With
that he jumped to the ground.
In the rearview, Gary watched the named Rodger walk
away. Head down, and hands thrust in the pockets of his long
bulky coat. He strode back along the road, and then suddenly
turned directly between the low trees growing along the verge,
and was gone. Gary shook off the dread feeling that had come
with the man's premonition. He pulled away, putting it out of
Thirty miles down the road, dusk was starting to swab the
sky in bold colors when Gary's radar pinged. There was an
obstacle in the road ahead of him. Slowing, he remembered the
warning, and switched on his weapon systems. Over the space of
perhaps fifty yards, the paved highway aged visibly. It turned
to cracked asphalt, graded gravel, rutted dirt and then to rock
The G.P.S. said it was a four-lane interstate that ran clear
to the Atlantic shore. His maps agreed, but the ancient trees
outside his windows silently refuted those facts. What he could
see was the road petering off to a stand of growth hardwoods
covered in Spanish moss.
To one side was a space between two standing stones at the
edge of the trees. They seemed wide enough to pull the truck
through, and the clearance above them seemed sufficient. He
didn't want to leave the truck out in the open like this, so he
eased her through the gloom, and concealed his rig in a small
grassy clearing, well to the side of where his instruments
insisted was a perfectly good road.
That night, he slept in the cab. He left his windows
cracked open and his vents wide to let in the sweet scents and
sounds of the woods. Early the next morning he went to check his
back trail. The opening in the trees was gone, the stones
vanished. When he pushed his way through where he'd remembered
pulling in, there was no road to be found.
While always keeping his rig in sight, Gary worked his way
around the edge of the clearing, thinking that maybe he'd gotten
turned around. Still no road. He scratched his head, and
climbed into the cab to get breakfast. The dash caught his
attention. The clock blinked at 11:59p.m. His watch was frozen
at the same time. None of his electrical equipment seemed to be
working, including his micro-zapper.
He had no cargo that was pending to be delivered. With his
stash of personal stuff he kept for trade, he had some camping
supplies. It was a good opportunity for a camp out, he supposed.
The weather was nicer than he'd seen in ages, and the clearing
was fresh and unspoiled.
Across the clearing was a large rock, and from a dark crack
poured a rivulet of clear water. The liquid danced over the
stone and trickled into a particularly lush clump of furry moss
and cattails. He filled a couple of gallon jugs, and carried
them over to the truck. His water test kit was chemical based,
and it showed the water to be exceptionally pure. Now, for a
Gary opened the storage compartment. He hesitated briefly,
and bypassed the large Kerosene stove, and the smaller Sterno
heater. Instead he grabbed a sturdy pointed shovel. There was
plenty of deadfall, and he wanted to cook with wood smoke.
Several yards from the truck was a spot where the grass grew
sparsely. As he put the blade at the center of the barish spot,
the whole clearing hushed. All the background noise he'd been
tuning out; wind, birds, and insects, just went silent. He
looked from side to side, puzzled, but started digging a pit for
He made it three feet wide and two deep. The larger stones
he'd levered out of the ground were set in a ring around the pit.
For five feet around the he dragged the shovel, denuding the
rocky soil of any stray weeds. He put a mound of the scraped
dirt up against the rock ring, as picked free of grass as he
could manage. The sounds of the clearing gradually returned as
he worked. Putting the shovel away, and bringing out a medium
sized axe prompted another abrupt hushing, one that was slower to
He was starting to feel... watched. Wherever he turned in
the clearing, it seemed eyes bored into his back, but there was
never anything to see when he checked. He leaned the axe against
the dirt mound, and started gathering fallen branches, and a
section of rotten tree truck lying on the clearing's edge. Once
he'd gathered a supply of deadwood, he used the axe to break it
up into manageable pieces. The wood was mostly dry, so it was
Gary built up a small fire with the results of his work,
lighting it with matches. A cast-iron tripod grill provided a
platform to brew some coffee, and to boil water to cook oatmeal
in. Maple syrup and margarine flavored the oats, and the
exercise made his appetite sharp.
As he cleared the dishes with moist grass and water, he
turned to the indistinct sound of laughter. Still nothing.
Moistening the dirt around the rocks, Gary made sure his truck
was buttoned up, and left the fire to burn to coals. Using all
the woodcraft his had taught him, he searched the forest
around the clearing.
Gary gained nothing for his troubles but a bruise and some
scratches. The laughter grew louder. When he made it back to
the fire pit, his dry wood pile seemed larger, and a small pile
of fresh fruit and nuts had been left on the mound, balanced in a
hunk of tree bark. The cleared dirt appeared to be swept, but
just as the grass began, Gary spied a single distinct print, of a
He'd gotten the bruise when he'd slipped near the bole of a
hoary oak. He made his way back to it, and climbed up the
mossy trunk. The bole forked, and forked again. At twice his
height from the ground, the branches were still thicker than his
thigh. At three times his height, he saw a glittering patch
among the trees. Peering closer, he made out a pool with women
Climbing down, he kept his directions as straight as he
could as he made for the pool. He could hear the muted roar of a
small waterfall as he approached, and that helped guide his way.
Feminine voices and laughter became clearer, but turned to
silence as he reached the edge of the grove. Below was a short,
feathery waterfall, and a deep clear pool.
Near the water, by the large mossy rocks and grassy banks,
were people. Very strange people, who stared at him as much as
he stared at them. The women were all beautiful, with long wild
hair of blue or green with flowers intertwined. The males were
something else. A few were like the women, handsome as a rule,
with braided beards that matched their odd colored hair. The
majority of the males possessed qualities. One or two
long maned fellows had the bodies of slender horses merged at
their hips. The rest were horned and legged. Everyone had
Gary sat down heavily. Naiads and Dryads. Centaurs and
Satyrs. He must be feverish. "Somebody, pinch me," he muttered.
The 'hallucinations' looked at each other, confused.
He jumped when something tweaked his side from behind. A
half-grown with yellow streaked green hair ran giggling
away. She was tackled in the moss by two fauns, who
proceeded to show her how much they liked her joke. Gary looked
away, blushing. They looked too to be doing... Well, maybe
not. Who was he to judge?
Hesitantly, a tawny flanked faun with a thin orange beard
and ginger hair approached him. Muscles quivering on the verge
of instant flight, he placed a crude jug on the bank near Gary.
Then he scampered away. Over by his fellows, they clapped his
shoulders as if he had bearded a lion.
"Drink," said a large male with dark green hair. His beard
was so dark it was almost black. He had a long reddish mark on
his bare chest, and other marks on his arms. "Drink and be
welcome, for our has brought you to her special place."
Absently, the speaker rubbed the fading mark on his hairless
He had to be dreaming, Gary thought. He lifted the jug to
his nose, and caught the scent of fruit and alcohol. Shrugging,
he tasted it. It was a strong wine, made of blackberries,
definitely fortified; sweet and fiery. He drank deeply, then had
to stop to gasp at its burn. He asked the fellow, "Where is this
place? The road is gone."
"We are cradled to the Mother's bosom," the green haired
elder answered. "It's a secret place of life and magic held dear
to Her. She curls around Her children to protect them from harm,
and guards us well."
The sadness of the eyes on Gary left him no doubt as to who
represented the harm. Their gentle condemnation reminded him of
the reaction in the clearing to his axe. "Where did you get
those marks?" he asked.
"They came from your boots, as you climbed my tree's bole,"
the elder said sadly. "Can't you see the moss and grass you are
crushing beneath them? I must insist that you shed your man's
clothes and bathe here. Try to walk lightly on our Mother."
Gary shook his head. "I don't think so."
"Take them off yourself, friend," the elder said,
stroking his beard, "or they will 'help' you do so." He gestured
to one side. Gary saw several pretty nymphs with flowers in
their hair, which was the extent of their garb.
They giggled, "As you say, Lord Druan."
Gary took a step back, and tripped over a dark shaggy leg.
He landed on his back, and was suddenly mobbed to the sound of
laughter. Buttons popped and seams ripped as playful hands tore
at his clothing. "All right!" he shouted. Just as suddenly,
His was a rag, and his zipper was open. His bootlaces
were mostly loose, but also hopelessly knotted. As he stood, his
waist snap gave way. Gracelessly his pants fell to his ankles,
revealing his Cannabis leaf printed boxers. Several of the
He glared at the elder, who suppressed a smile. Cursing,
Gary kicked off his pants and undressed down to his underwear and
socks. "Good enough?" he said tersely. The Druan elder shook
his head. Gary remembered other dreams like this... it *was* a
dream, right? "Fine!" he snapped, and finished the job. "Now
"Enter the pool, brother, and walk through the waterfall,"
the Druan said.
Gary waded into the pool, turning to see his erstwhile
clothing-nappers carry his stuff into the trees. "Hey!" he said.
"They are placing your garb near your metal beast," the
Druan said. "Now you must go."
Shivering, Gary waded naked through the cool water, feeling
his skin prickle. An odd feeling seeped into him as he
approached the feathery spray. He felt energized, and very
alive. This moment was possessed by a profound feeling of
Reaching up through the mist, he felt the rocky ledge above
him that the water poured over. Ducking, he pushed through the
water curtain, into a small stone chamber. It was humid but dry,
with the walls and floor lushly covered with moss. Central
before the entrance was a natural caldera, raised up from the
rocks. In the bowl was a green-glowing liquid, frothy with
From the rocks around him and in his very bones he heard a
soft woman's voice. "Drink, my son." The stuff smelled
intensely good to him, so he cupped his hands into it and took
several long drinks. He could feel it race through him, setting
his nerves on fire. "Good," the voice said, "you will have the
stamina now for your night's endeavors."
Abruptly, the green liquid drained away through the stone.
It was dark in here, now, so he pushed back through the waterfall
to the pool. Feeling dizzy, he slogged to the bank, noticing
that evening was well under way. Wasn't it noon, just now?
All the strange people were gone, except one roan centaur.
The horseman chuckled as Gary staggered. "Talking to HER will do
that to you." The red-haired Beast stepped closer, his fore-
hooves just in the lapping water. A strong hand with a wrist reached out to Gary, and tossed him easily up on the warm
equine back. "Hold on," the roan said, and he started a trot to
Gary grabbed for his muscular waist, looking with wonder at
the mane of auburn hair flowing down the center of the upright
human back. The two quickly glided through the trees in the
dimness, and approached a blazing bonfire. Beyond it, the truck,
his steel steed, gleamed in the fire's glow. His clothes made a
more or less neat pile on the hood.
All Gary noticed right now was the smell of the food and
drink. His belly grumbled audibly. He half fell from the
centaur's back. It wasn't really cold, but he felt... vulnerable
without his clothes. The oak crowned Druan smiled a welcome, and
handed him a long cloth like the one he wore. The trucker looked
at it helplessly, and gave a longing glance at his blue jeans. A
dryad nearby took the fabric from him, and wrapped it around him
in a way he didn't follow to make a toga. Gary wondered what
drunken frat party he was passed out in. It had to be a dream.
"Have something to eat, Gary," the elder said. "You'll need
"How do you know my name?" Gary said. Friendly laughter
"No one comes to this place without HER knowledge," Oak
crowned said. "SHE brought you to visit us, and told us about
you. So, enjoy! The night has just begun."
Gary felt starved. He drank bowls of an excellent vegetable
soup without a spoon. Then he devoured the tender flesh of
broiled rabbits and small birds from the bone washed down with
red wine. The hot juices dripped down his chin but he didn't
care. Next was a bowl of small boiled eggs, diced with cheese,
olives, tiny tubers and baked nuts. It tasted starchy but
delicious, and the dark ale they offered him with it set it off
Dessert was unleavened cakes of nut bread drizzled with
honey and sprinkled with sugared flower petals. The drink
accompanying the cakes was tiny cups of a very strong blackberry
brandy. At long last he sighed, content. That hit the spot.
Stuffed, he leaned back against a tree and gazed at the fire.
The tongues of flame danced hypnotically. Fixedly, he stared
A shadow passed before the fire, and he blinked, looking up.
There was music around him. Several of the fauns, satyrs
really, blew their syrinx pipes to a sprightly tune. It ran
counterpoint with the deeper tones of the ram's horns the
centaurs were playing. Dryads played chimes, or the sticks,
while their male kin played drums. The water maidens played
small harps, and the nymphs, they danced.
Naked limbs flashed, as the nymphs twirled and leaped around
the fire to the pounding of the music. His heart began to pound
in time, and his groin throbbed suddenly. Over the wild song, he
heard moans. At the edge of a mossy rock, a dryad lay with her
legs spread wide, accepting a centaur's cock between them.
The chestnut's member was as long as Gary's forearm, and he
plunged it in and out of her with a stallion's zeal.
Tree brothers grappled close with their dryads.
Young fauns and satyrs coupled with whatever would stand
still for it, including each other. Gary found himself standing,
his penis rigid under the white cloth. The nymphs stopped
orbiting the fire, and began to dance around him. Their smiling
eyes held on him, as their fingers trailed over his half bare
chest. The toga was teasingly pulled from him, and he was bare.
Nakedness didn't bother him, now. He reached out for the
nymphs, and one came into his arms, sweet and willing. Before he
realized how, he was lying atop her, fucking her like another
dawn would never come. Groaning, he soon came in her, and looked
up into another nymph's pleading eyes. "Please," she said. "Me,
The one beneath him giggled and pushed him off with
surprising strength. She ran off, as was promptly pinned by a
canny satyr with long gnarled horns. Gary was still so hard
it ached; his urge to come just as strong. A soft hand wrapped
around his meat, and he was urged onto his back. He was engulfed
before his head even touched the ground.
Thrusting, touching, squeezing. A sweet kiss, and he'd
explode! This was repeated many times for an endless while, as
the fey changed places over him, chatting among each other.
Only the color of the hair and eyes of the nymph above him seemed
When he had a chance, he rolled over and finished with the
raven haired nymph atop him. Scrambling to his feet, he moved to
the other side of the fire. He'd had his fill of nymph
conversations. They were as empty headed as California blondes.
The Naiad and Dryad musicians were still trying to play for
the sake of the mood, until he arrived. They were as receptive
to him... in every sense of the word... as the nymphs. He
fancied he could feel himself growing horns and shaggy haunches.
Gary felt as inexhaustible as a faun.
The tree women and water maidens welcomed his embrace.
Sometimes it was just after they had accepted another swain, or
sometimes they found another after he was done. In the dimness
behind his truck, the fire was blocked by the massive wheels.
Gary was playing the sweet game one more time. He saw the green
glow from his eyes reflected back up at him from the gaze of an
Oread with crystal earrings, just before he orgasmed.
Startled, he finished with her, and climbed up on the
truck's cold fender to look at himself in the mirror. His brown
eyes glowed with the same green light as the liquid that he'd
drunk. The same color green as the hitchhiker, and they
glowed in the dark.
At that mundane memory, most of his urges left him, but his
cock didn't soften much. Gary wandered back to the fire,
absently fending off the clutching of female hands. He had to
threaten an indiscriminately randy faun with a punch in the nose.
He sat down and scrounged some left overs that didn't look too
nasty. He added wood to the fire, and looked around.
The sounds and sighs of the sexual madness were fading.
Those with less stamina were curled up out of the way to sleep.
Even those who continued did so at a leisurely pace. The party
was winding down, it seemed. Even the birds sounded sleepy, but
Gary wasn't. He felt on edge, like he was waiting for something.
When the birds went abruptly silent, the Druan elder called
out to those still awake. "Quickly now, Gaea comes!" Sweet
rushes and soft moss were brought and built into a nest-like bed
in the middle of the clearing, to one side of the fire. A
covering of flowers completed it.
The tense anticipation gripped more than just Gary, by the
expressions of those around him. Then SHE appeared.
The woman stepped from between the trees, or rather, the
trees bent out of her way. She looked wholly human, unlike
anyone else except Gary. Her hair was hazel nut brown, and her
eyes were as blue as the sea. Her skin was like polished ivory,
and her dress was a zephyr's dream.
She wasn't young, but neither was she old. Middle aged, the
ravages of time showed plainly on her. Her gray streaked hair
seemed brittle and raggedly cut. There were flecks of cloudy mud
in her azure eyes, and fissures of wrinkles in her once fine
skin. The whispering clarity of her diaphanous dress showed
hints of stain.
Even so, Gary was glad of the flaws, indeed, he was grateful
for them. She was so beautiful, so exquisite even still, that
were it not for the imperfections he would not be able to bear to
look at her. He felt that on the day he saw her and whole
he would surely die.
Trembling, he stared at her. Stately, she glided to the
flower-strewn nest. The bobbing flowers turned to rub against
her legs like friendly cats. Her toes (those toes!) were in the carpet of blossoms when she turned to face him. Poised,
elegant as a Grecian statue, she held her hand out to Gary.
Without thought he crossed the distance between them and
laid his hand in hers. That invitation was beyond denial. In
his bones he knew other men, in other ages, had thought her to be
the Great Goddess, Aphrodite, Venus, or the Holy Virgin, but his
heart knew Her as 'Nature', to all.
Her hand (that hand!) was warm and soft, and little tingles
flowed from the warmth to his hand. Her scent was birth and
decay, beginnings and endings, and of womanhood. His male member
came to throbbing life again, and he shuddered violently.
"Softly, My son," she murmured, and her voice was the same
he had heard in the waterfall cave. "Be not afraid. You are
safe with Me, I swear it." Her hand rose to caress his stubbled
cheek. His trembling eased as his fear melted, but his awe
remained. He could not speak. He could only stare at her in
wonder. "That's better," she said, and smiled. Gary grinned
back at Her, foolishly.
"I have a boon to ask of you," she continued. His eyes made
it back up to her face. "Will you grace Me with your seed, as
you have with the youngest of My daughters?" Her delicate hand
swept out to gesture around them, at the quiet watchers of their
"Me, Lady?" Gary stammered. "I'm... I'm just a trucker.
I'm no one special. Surely you could do better than me."
"Ah, but you think too harshly of yourself," she said.
"Does not your great steed proclaim you a Knight Captain,
commander of thousands?" His mouth worked silently, it wasn't
like that... She spoke again. "You have gallantly quested to
succor the hungry, and shed blood to rescue one of my favorite
mortal daughters, the healer. You are brave, generous, and kind
to the poor. Do not doubt your worth to Me. Your humility is
but another sign of it. This must be your choice. Will you lay
She gave him a look that was All Woman, with no Great in it. He panted with his need. Emboldened, he stepped closer
to her, and leaned down to kiss her. Her lips were sweetest
honey, with just a hint of corruption. He understood, without
being told, that her flaws were the fault of mankind harming the
planet, and every harm was reflected in her. Her arms rose to
circle his neck, and still locked in a kiss, they sank into the
Where before he performed the night's couplings with an
animalistic, faun-like intensity, with the Lady he was gentle and
chivalric. Perhaps at this moment he believed himself to be what
she named him. He entered her body with the utmost care, and
only her raking nails inspired him to speed his thrusts. He felt
she was as fragile as an invalid, but she wanted to fuck like a
wanton. He worked to find a balance; striving to please her, but
Her need blazed in her eyes, and he answered it. Not for
his pleasure, but for hers, he began to pound her mercilessly.
He drove his cock as far into her as he could, holding back his
orgasm until he heard her scream, and felt her spasm around him.
Crying out himself he let go, firing his seed deep within
her, before he fell sobbing to her bosom. Her fingers caressed
him softly now, soothing away the welts they had given him. She
bent to kiss his head in a benison, and he looked up at her with
an expression as guileless as a child.
"Did I please you?" he asked, anxious.
"You pleased me very well," she said, and her smile melted
his heart. "Lay beside me now, and listen. I have words to say
to you. Some are for you, fortunate son, and some are meant for
others." Chagrined, he lifted himself off her, slipping his
softening penis reluctantly from her warm depths. Laying by her
side, his hand familiarly tracing circles on her generous hip, he
She told him he could deliver his first message if he would
travel a certain road, at a certain time, tomorrow. He would be
given a pendant that was for the he would find there. He
would also say these words... Gary nodded, storing them away,
not even thinking to ask how he would leave this enchanted place.
"Next, you will tell your Emperor that I am pleased with
some of what he has done. He wants to restore the land, but his
works so far have scarcely touched the surface of My wounds.
Tell him for his dreams to come true, he needs Me, and needs Me
healthy. You will give him a sign of My power and essence, a
crystal spire set in a wooden bowl. Let him contemplate that,
and plan what more he can do to restore Me.
"I care not whether it is the Dark or the Light that heals
Me. I encompass both, and I always have. A tyrant's yoke would
please Me as much as a king's blessing, so long as I am healed.
He rules the land, but I *am* the land, and we can aid each
She leaned forward to nuzzle him, again. "As for you, sweet
knight, know that life stirs in many wombs tonight, because of
you." Her hand moved to cover her belly. "Including mine."
"Yours?" He gaped at her. Gaea was bearing his child?
"In part," she said. "You provided some of his makeup, and
the living spark. His soul, if you will. He will be my agent in
the mortal world, a bridge between this place and your world."
"A son," Gary whispered, smiling. He yawned suddenly.
"Hush now," she said softly, "you are weary and need to
rest. I will sing to you, and lull you to your dreams." He
didn't know the language she sang in, but the tune was sweet, and
soon he slept.
The calls of birds woke him. The dawn shone through the
trees, and the sky had a glow to it. He still lay in the nest,
but he was alone. Gary was covered by the length of cloth that
made his toga, as a blanket. The fire was cold and dead, but he
was warm enough without it. Besides the pit were several bowls
A clay bowl held small boiled eggs. A thin stone bowl held
cold honeyed porridge. A bowl that looked like hollowed jade
held flakes of smoked fish. A small wicker plate held two wheat
rolls and a nut cake. One of the flasks was full of frothy,
pungent milk. Another contained more of the dark beer. Five
sealed clay jugs looked to hold more of that blackberry brandy.
He was hungry, so he ate all the food offered, only leaving
the brandy jugs untouched. Those he packed inside his truck. He
hesitated between leaving the dishes and taking them, but they
were all marked with an oak leaf. The goods he'd gotten from
Eagle, Colorado were marked the same way, he mused. They were
for him to take, he decided. Gary gave a bow to the trees, and
stowed them as well.
The mirror showed his eyes were brown again, but now they
had green flecks. On the hood of his silver truck, lay his
clothes. The ripped was gone, and in its place was a new
shirt of green, heavily embroidered with vines and leaves. He
dressed, and looked at what else was there.
He touched a pair of golden spurs shaped like climbing
roses, designed to fit his boots. A stocky statuette of a
silvery wood was carved to suggest a muscular draft horse. He
smiled, feeling that it represented a tribute to his truck/mount.
A sheathed crystal sword was formed into a long leaf shape, and
when he pulled it partway out, it was carved with roses. Lastly
was a set of polished syrinx pipes. Gary wondered if he could
learn to play 'Skye Boat Song' on them.
On the other side of the hood, were the other gifts that
were mentioned. The polished wooded bowl was simply formed, and
set with a crystal spire it its center. The other was a jeweled
pendant on a golden chain depicting a woman's eye. The iris was
worked out in amethyst, and the arched brow was ruby and jasper.
The skin around the eyed showed with smoky topaz chips, and
flakes of tiger eye for shadow. He thought it was beautiful.
Steadily, he packed it all away, then poured water on the
dead fire, and used his shovel to fill in the pit and erase as
much of his marks as he could. He was unsurprised to see the
standing stones behind his rig, again. Ignoring his fluctuating
instruments, he backed out between them. Then he watched as the
menhir faded, and with them the trees that cut off the road.
Like a mist burning off under the sun, the glamour faded, leaving
only the open highway.
He drove to the next Keep, and gazed curiously at a posse of
men forming. "What's up?" he said.
"Hey, Captain Miller," the Constable said. "We're after
some pervert who raped three generations of women of this one
family living in the backwoods. You got time to help us?"
"No, sorry," Gary said. He had to hurry.
On the road She had mentioned, and at the time She'd said,
Gary spotted a figure walking along the highway. Same big baggy coat, and battered blue ball cap. The figure walked with
his hands thrust deep into pockets, and his shoulders slumped
with weariness. It was Rodger.
The man's hand came out, thumb extended as he kept
walking. Gary pulled over for him. The Wanderer climbed heavily
inside without looking at him, but froze in the act of swinging
the door shut. He looked at Gary with an expression of fear.
Gary leaned past Rodger to shut the passenger door. "It's
cool, man," he said, and gave him a warm smile. They drove for a
while in silence. Gary could feel Rodger's tension. Well, no
time like the present. "SHE gave me a message for you," Gary
said. The cringed against his door as if from a leper.
He scrabbled for the door handle, willing to risk a jump.
"Here," the trucker said, quickly. He grabbed the pendant off
his dash and dangled it between them.
Trembling, Rodger reached out and took it. He looked into
the dusky skin, the violet eye under the brow. The woman who
matched it was as distinctive in appearance as he himself was.
"She says your time is nearly done," Gary said. The gasped, his face turning pale. "No, not like... I mean, she said
that you have served her well. She's nearly ready to forgive
your sin against her, and to release you. When you find the that matches that, she will deliver you: save you. The
compulsion will fade because you will have found your perfect
match. You'll be free."
"I haven't been free since your grandfather was a pup,
probably," Rodger growled. "How can I believe HER? Or you?"
"Because she promised me it was true," Gary said. "She used
me too, I guess, but only for one night."
"Lucky you," the said dryly. "I've been held in her
grasp for decades."
"She said the end of your bondage was in sight," Gary said.
"Duck." Rodger hunkered down, and Gary waved idly to the patrol
car streaking past the truck. "You keep that, and when you find
her, you'll be home." Gary politely ignored the choked sobs that
came from beside him, as Rodger's shaking hands settle the chain
around his neck.
"So, timer," Gary said when Rodger calmed. "Where are
you bound today?"
Rodger closed his eyes, and was silent for a long time.
"West," he said.
"West it is," Gary said, and he turned left at the first
To be Continued...
Mar, 2000- Darkside: United States of Anarchy, Part 18 of 20.
Series Continues in Darkside: Imperial States of America.
Or "www.asstr.org/~World_of_the_Darkside & "www.greyarchive.com".