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Today, I reorganized the attic. A little. Enough to lay some fiberboard down over where I cleverly ripped up floorboards in a failed attempt to install a ceiling fan in the bathroom, years ago.

In other news, if you have been enjoying my writing, a story I wrote maybe six years ago has finally found its way into print – A Domestic Disturbance documents one of those rare occasions when the gods squabbled. And today, my story, Ink, was podcast over at Nobilis Erotica. In case the name of the venue wasn’t clear enough, this story involves “adult themes and situations,” and if that isn’t your thing, you should maybe avoid it.

Kudzu, A Novel

Chapter 17

The sudden light assaulted Sir Reginald’s eyes, blinding him, and his foot came down not on filthy, mist-damp cobblestones, but on a flat, slick surface. The entire room was white–floor, walls, ceiling–and high-lumen florescent bulbs hummed above his head. Steam assailed him, and the intermingled scents of mildew and floral soaps. There was the sound of water falling. He flailed as his foot went out from under him, grasped the first thing he came across to steady himself.

It was flesh, hot and wet, and a bit sudsy, and it squeaked. And squeaked again as it lost its footing as well, even as he recovered.

Instinctively, Sir Reginald caught the squeaker under its armpits–her, he realized, oh, most very definitely a her–arresting her fall before she could bruise her tailbone.

Kevyn, most likely, Sir Reginald thought. She had been the person he was closest to when he had slipped. Close enough to influence–to impress her presence upon–whatever it was that caused his curious excursions, and to thus become the anchor for his return. Ah well, he’d talked his way out of more embarrassing situations.

He tried opening his eyes. The light was a bit closer to bearable, but his eyes were tearing, and the steam had fogged his spectacles. He still couldn’t see properly. Just shapes in the mist.

A half-dozen of them, of various sizes, perhaps more.

They were turning toward the source of the commotion.

They were, one and all, most definitely female. There were also all most definitely nude.

This would take some explaining, indeed.

~

Kevyn looked up at her assailant, who had pulled her off-balance and then caught her, and now held her up under her arms. One hand firmly on her left breast. That hand let go quickly, with a gruffly muttered apology, and grasped her arm instead.

“Sir Reginald?”

“Ah, yes. Kevyn.” Sir Reginald lifted her to her feet. “I apologize for interrupting you…” he cleared his throat. “Your festivities. And I humbly beg forgiveness, from one and all, and assure you, I had no intention of intruding upon your private moments, and shall take my leave with the utmost of haste.”

So far, none of the prisoners had said a word; they just stared at the man in the improbably anachronistic clothing–double-breasted Westminster with velvet collar, pinstriped trousers, and (admittedly worse-for-wear) homberg perched atop his head–who had somehow gotten himself into the women’s shower of Haviland Penitentiary without anyone noticing.

“You left me,” Kevyn said. She slapped at him.

He caught her wrist. “One moment, please.” He removed his spectacles, then let go her hand.

This time, when she slapped him across the face, he made no move to stop her. “You left me. In the dark. Locked into a building I had to break out of.”

“Ah, yes. Well, entirely unavoidable, I assure you, and–”

“And stop talking in that stupid British accent!”

A rough hand pushed Kevyn aside; its owner stepped up to Sir Reginald. Erica. A lifer. She wore her scars and her prison tats with enough pride that standing stark naked with half a head full of shampoo in front of a man she didn’t know did nothing to diminish her authority. The other women formed a wedge behind her.

If Sir Reginald was even remotely wise, Kevyn thought, he should be terrified right now.

“Where’d you come from?”

“Ah, now that’s a bit complicated.”

Erica thrust a shampoo bottle up against Sir Reginald’s throat with enough force to push him backwards, pressing him against the wall. The sound of a key in the lock stopped her from doing more. Erica gestured for the man to move into the corner, where the open door would partially block him from sight. The door opened a crack.

“It’s awful quiet in there,” the guard said, glancing in. “Is everything alright?”

“Everything’s fine,” Erica said.

“I’ll be really unhappy if I have to get my shoes wet. I want to hear from all of you, is everything alright?”

One by one the prisoners called out their names, and affirmed that they were unharmed. Kevyn went so far as to step in front of the door to demonstrate a lack of bruises. She was the new kid on the cell block, and the most likely to be targeted for any abuse. Everyone, with the possible exception of Sir Reginald, understood that that was the guard’s real concern.

Satisfied, the guard closed the door. Erica motioned for the other women to resume showering.

“Kevyn,” Sir Reginald said, “please tell me that I’ve walked into some sort of kinky Milgrams re-enactment.”

“What’s a Milgram?”

Sir Reginald sighed, then remembered they weren’t alone. “God’s teeth, woman, what have you gotten me into?”

Kevyn shoved past Erica, slammed a hand against Sir Reginald’s chest. “What have I gotten you into? You got me thrown in jail for trespassing in your precious observatory, and destruction of private property. I have been poked and prodded, and fingerprinted and strip searched and… and deloused because of you.”

“Well, at least you got something out of it. I have a very bad feeling about that spaceship we saw, and we won’t be able to do anything about it if we stay in jail. I suggest that you finish your shower so that we can get out of here.”

“You’re not going anywhere ‘less you take me with you,” Erica growled.

“Of course, good lady,” Sir Reginald said. “I wouldn’t dream of leaving you–” He looked around, and sighed. “Any of you–behind.”

Kevyn glared at him.

“Kevyn,” he said. “Trust me.”

And despite everything, she did.

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