Ever go from suicidal in an apartment to miserable in a castle tower? Like a princess in a fairy tale where the evil step mother is in love with you and your dream girl is more unattainable now then ever? Where your darkest depression seems light and jovial in the face of an alien landscape? Where what you thought was bottom of the barrel turns out to be a daydream of better days gone by?
That is where I am sitting right now. Sulking in a recreation of my former apartment in the tower of an ancient castle. The prisoner of a Goddess in another dimension. A living nightmare, inescapable and frozen over. Where even the flickering flames glow with a cold blue hue and cast no shadows.
And She is in love with me.
Did I mention magic is real as well?
Believe me, I cured cancer once. And nearly killed my delivery guy. And a kid that honked at me. And made a bird explode by freezing it.
And not magic like in books or fairy tales. As far as I can tell there are no magic wands waving or spells to be whispered. No tomes of gobblydee gook to be muttered over a battered cauldron.
Aleister Crowley and his Order of the Golden Dawn was a bunch of fucking morons in cloaks. And Harry Potter would have been another boy taken under the ice.
I wish I were joking. This terror is all too real.
And I am here willingly to save the woman I love. The same woman I haven’t seen in ten years. The same woman that left me while I was at work one day. Just a note and an empty apartment to remember her by.
The one who decided she wanted to leave her husband for me. Which is funny as hell because had I gotten my wish she would have come to find my body swinging. But I am immune to suicide. My fairy godmother is my fairy goddess stalker and she is very territorial. She abducted Beth, my ex wife to learn more about me and to keep us apart. So I offered myself for Beth’s release.
My life is a series of near misses and inexplicable accidents.
It is all I have ever known honestly. My cousin died in front of me when I was ten. My parents died in front of me when I was sixteen. I have failed to properly commit suicide thrity two times, thirty three if you count the time I fell through the ice ten years ago. I do not because I don’t remember it very well. I nearly died of pneumonia shortly after.
I don’t speak of my parent’s death. Ever.
And now I am stuck in this fucking castle with nothing but a goddess and my thoughts.
Not a really good fairy tale to tell the kids before bed.
I have been here for three days now. Most of it spent in here, my apartment at the top of the tower. It is strange. She really went all out recreating my entire apartment, to the point I am wondering if she didn’t just move the entire thing. I mean down to stains on the carpet precise. Except for one thing which I am actually glad for, my terrible patch job on the ceiling from my initial attempt at killing myself is not there. The ceiling looks as if it has never redone. And it is a little cleaner. Probably. A lot. It seems dust free which is a claim I cannot make. Ever.
She went all out to try and make me feel comfortable. It is something She did not have to do. Like slitting my throat and staging my ex wife’s death. But all three served to teach me a lesson. I know she can fuck me up without a thought. That She wanted to know about me from the one person that knows me best. And that She is willing to try.
The apartment does not fit the motif of the what little of the castle I have seen so far. And that is because I have beem sitting here on my couch listening to music and trying not to freak out. Unsuccessfully.
She is coming. I don’t know how but I can feel Her. Can feel her getting closer to me. I don’t look up as She enters the room.
“So do you want to tell me your name now? You got what you wanted, I am here. Fair and square. But I feel kind of funny calling you the crazy Ice Lady all the time.”
“Mikhail, that is no way to speak to your destined lover. We were set on a course to one another before time itself. I am yours, and you are Mine.”
She has a way of saying Mine that makes me feel like a pet.
“I don’t want to be here. You know this. I am here because I have to be so Beth can live in the real world.”
She laughs at this. A genuine laugh that send shivers down my spine.
“The real world? No my love, this is the real world. The one you came from is a playground for our kind. A scrapyard for discarded creation. A junkyard. This is the only place that matters. Here. All came from here. All return here. Your scientists say everything is made from stardust. They are correct in their misguided way. The stars were made by the same hands that make everything else. Our hands.”
Fuck me. I didn’t turn to face Her as She spoke. She is the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. The type of perfection that men wage wars over. Probably have. When I looked at Her I felt myself slipping into that lizard brain part of myself where I could find myself falling for her. Except for Her eyes. Those perfect blue gemstones with their alien awareness. They both complete the package and shatter the idea that She is human.
“So this is the light at the end of the tunnel people speak of?” I ask looking out the window. The land stretches as far as I can see. A frozen land, an icy forest marred only by this castle. The sky onyx bejeweled with diamonds that sparkle in constellations I do not recognize. Occasional wisps like the Aurora Borealis ribbon across it. I have yet to see the sun here and no moon reflects down. A land of perpetual night. Her kingdom. Ours, She likes to say.
“That is just a synaptic flash of oxygen deprivation. The, umm, Buddhists are closest with the Wheel of Reincarnation. Not exactly right but closest.”
Nope. Was not prepared for this level of insanity. My brain pulsated as She spoke.
“Again, your scientists were on the right path at times. Energy can neither be created nor destroyed. In am essence. We can create energy. Manipulate it to act on Our wishes. You have done this very thing. Clumsily I admit, but you have woven it with your mind. Magic, I believe you called it. The essence of all things. What you call gods and goddesses, we are weavers of this fabric.”
I felt dizzy. And intoxicated. The answers to all the mysteries in the universe were right here.
“And your planet, Earth is one of millions spread throughout the cosmos like this.”
I turned to Her in shock. Millions. Life on other planets. I was even more shocked to see Her standing before me naked. She was everything I had ever dreamed of, my every fantasy made real. I am a gentleman and will not go into detail but I desperately searched for a word more than perfection as I stared at Her.
She demurely turned in a circle so I could see everything. It became etched into my brain. Every single curve, all that sensuous pale skin and those…
“I am yours my love. And I see you like what your eyes behold. I have studied the arts of pleasure as long as men have spoken of it. I hope you will not be disappointed.”
“You are breathtaking. Could you put some clothes on? Please? I don’t even know your name. If you learned anything about me from Beth you know I am old fashioned. I expect to learn about a person before jumping i to bed with them. Mostly.”
Her diaphonous black gown materialized. It did nothing to hide that body. Somehow made it even more alluring. I needed to have a long talk with my traitorous penis. She is the enemy you blood engorged bastard. The Enemy.
“I have had many titles through out the eons. But never a name. I don’t tell you because I am playing a game. I don’t tell you because I do not know what to say.”
Then She smiled at me. It was the first real smile She had flashed at me. Her icy demeanor seemed to melt away in that instance. I hadn’t expected anything like that from Her. Our interactions so far had precluded any sort of warmth. But in this moment She became more than the boogeyman. Every bit of Her demeanor changed.
The word tumbled out of my mouth without a thought. And I felt a bell toll in the very core of my being.
She stared at me for a long moment. Apprehension in those dangerous eyes. The normal cold snap freezing over Her again. I heard more than felt my gulp of fear.
“It means the warmth of the sun on a wintry day. Your smile. It is the definition of the word. I did not mean to offend you it just sort if came out.”
Idiot. I sounded like an idiot.
“Apricus. Apricus,” She repeated it as if trying it on. She smiled at me again and I felt gooey inside. “Yes. Apricus. You are a dangerous man Mikhail. Very dangerous.”
We eyed each other warily for a moment. I stood and extended my hand. Which She stared at for a long moment and looked as if to cut it off before excepting it and we shook. Her small pale hand felt soft and warm in mine. Electricity raced through both me for an instant.
“Hello Apricus. My name is Mikhail.”
“I know your name.”
“It was a formal introduction.”
“Indeed. You are foolish at times and show great power at others. This time you did a bit of both my sweet. Names have power Mikhail. It is old magic. Old magic indeed. I must go and think on this. You have given me a gift. And a binding. A gift must be repaid. I have to go. Now.”
As She turned to leave I saw something odd. It appeared to be a tear traveling down Her pale cheek.
What the fuck did I do wrong this time?
Before I could ask she was gone. Far away from the feel of it.
I stood staring after Her. Not thinking of her naked. Or of how long it had been since I saw a naked woman not on my computer. Something shifted between us just then. Something big and it shook Her. I was energized and more than a touch stir crazy from three straight days of sitting here.
From the outside it appears like a typical castle from medieval times (Not the faux restaurant) but for one difference. This entire building seems made from one stone, no masonry mars the smooth facade. But distinctly European in design. Four towers on the corners, I have zero way to gauge direction here so we will call the one I inhabit North.
The center is a giant throne room, a lush white carpet that is nearly shag in depth covers the entire floor. Rows of bench like tables line the front half of the room. Six long picnic tables, but like thirty foot long and carved of obsidian wood. Three on each side of a long walkway that leads to a throne which sits at the end in the dead center of the room. The throne looks like it was grown, not carved, out of ice and has that clear with a bluish tint. No ceiling here and snow steadily falls but doesn’t seem to accumulate at all. Blue flamed torches line the walls and bowls of it dot the tables.
Behind the throne is a small forest of iced over evergreens in perfect rows. Each filled with what appear to be birds carved from ice. Until I get too close and one of them flies away, startled by my proximity. The entire room is beautiful in a sterile way. Like a scene out of an old fairy tale but lifeless.
The doorway into the castle is a gigantic iron wrought monstrosity. It seem like it would weigh tons but opens with barely a touch. A walkway surrounds the main room and leads to each tower, the ramparts above it lined with gargoyles that would give HR Geiger nightmares. Or inspiration. Overtly sexual and deadly creatures never seen in the world of man but for fleeting terrors in the subconscious. Amazingly intricate carvings made from ice and metal in some odd symbiosis that ensnared and boggles the mind in on instant.
I opened a door in the back of open air throne room and discovered a huge kitchen area. It looked used but I had seen no other signs of life except for She and I. Prep tables and ovens and open fire pits with enough pots and pans and cutlery to make a feast to feed hundreds sat around me. Oddly put of place were brand new appliances as well. A couple fridges and deep chest freezers lined part of the back wall. And a microwave, the same model I owned it appeared sat on one of the counters made of the same ebony as the tables outside. She likes her ebony. A pantry lined with various food stuff from salted hams to, no fucking way, my favorite jalapeno cheese curls! I snagged a bag and munched as I roamed. There was another door but no matter how I tried I couldn’t get it to budge. Maybe this is led to the servant quarters?
I walked along until I saw everything I could gain access to. That left the towers and a casual stroll across the ramparts.
The North Tower in which the recreation of my apartment lies at the top of has an elevator that goes from the floor to the ramparts and then up to my living space. Some sort of magical trickery makes the inside too large for the diameter of the outside. Like a pocket dimension inside this dimension. It gives me a head ache when I try and put it in perspective.
The East Tower has no visible doorway, yet I see windows at the top and the glow of blue flames. I search from the bottom floor to the ramparts and can find no entrance. I feel around the stone for a crack or pressure plate but nothing gives. I put my ear to the stone and feel a gentle vibration and as I tap the wall I can tell it is a hollow tower.
The South Tower has the first imperfections I have seen in the building. Huge scars in the stone line the ground level walls. Almost like huge talons rent the stone itself. I step back a bit to analyze the markings and they almost appear to be letters from a language I have never seen. I snap a pic with my phone for later study. A door sits between the scars but it is locked tight and I cannot find the mechanism that keeps it shut. No windows on this tower at all and the ramparts level is smooth and entry free.
The West Tower has windows but no glow emanates from them. The ground level has a door that opens to a winding staircase which I climb. I count the steps and at around nine hundred decide it is too fucking many and continue upwards. The room at what I assume is the top is cozy. Lived in. A familiar scent hits my nose but I cannot quite place it. A small bed against one wall and a desk against another were the only objects in here. I walked over to the desk and found some papers and pencils but nothing written. But one of the papers had some small indentations on it. Curious and frankly slightly bored I rubbed the page with one of the pencils.
I recognized the handwriting. And the scent in the air.
This was where she stayed as a captive.
I sat and looked at the page. It was a list of my likes and dislikes. Pizza topped the likes. Of course. People tipped the dislikes. She knows me so well. She really nailed me on the list. Authors, movies, games in a pretty concise and accurate order. The dislikes showed people, tomatoes and sobriety. Again accurate.
I rubbed my fingers along another sheet and found more marks. Using the handy pencil I found a list of things she loves about me. My eyes grew watery as I scanned it. My eyes topped it. Then my heart and mind. My hands. The way I told her she looked beautiful first thing in the morning everyday. How I hated going to bed angry. How I refused to let something go until we talked it out. Things I would have expected on a bad list. My imagination and how I told her absurd little tales. My evil sense of humor.
Fuck. This was hard to go through.
Another sheet and another pencil rubbing. A note to me.
if you are reading this I can only guess you have yourself up for me. of course you did you giant fucking fool. always putting me before yourself. I love you. I’m sorry for the way things turned out. for so many things. I don’t have much time. She left to go and check on you. She watches your every move. be careful, she is far more dangerous than anything I have ever seen. But she seems to genuinely love you. She talks of prophecy and Destiny, of your growing power. I am scared for you.
And of you. She showed me how you tried to kill yourself. over and over until I thought it was the same footage only to realize it every attempt. A part of me died watching you try and kill yourself. you are not stupid bit you may be the biggest fucking idiot on the planet. if we ever find a way to be together know I am going to kick your ass for it. I promise. And you taught me a promise is something you do not break. find a way home, to me. please do not give up ever again. for me. stay strong and keep fighting. you can beat her, I know it in my heart. She calls me and I must hurry, i hope you find this Haley
I read it over and over again. Committed every word to my brain, etched them to my heart and then stuck the page in the flame and watched it curl and burn. I had to. I couldn’t risk Apricus finding it. Going after Beth again.
I may down in the bed and buried my face into the pillow. In her scent. Lavender and lilac, my two favorite flowers and suspiciously left off of the list she made. Smart move there. That was something that subconsciously could have been used against me. Beth was always smarter than anyone but I gave her credit for.
I had to be strong. Learn to master this power and find a way out of here. Back to my reality and somehow back into her arms again.
I don’t know how long I laid there. How long Apricus had been gone but I could feel Her faintly growing closer. I made my way down the stairs and back to my pseudo apartment in the North Tower.
If North was mine and West was where Beth had stayed, then that meant She stayed in either South or East. I bet South due to the locked door. I needed to figure out to get in there if I ever got alone time again. And the East Tower mystery gnawed at the back of my mind. What was hidden in a tower with no entrance? And what other things were hidden in this physics breaking place?
I was going to figure it out.