Part 14A: I learn some mind tricks.

It’s been two days, the Me told me, speaking into my head. I’d become more accustomed to her using telepathy on me, and I liked it. It was better than talking – especially for some things. As she said this, I got in my mind a flicker of days moving on a digital calendar, and the sun rising and setting quickly like in a sped-up movie, and also a feeling of time passing.

I tried to talk back that way: I know. And I don’t think we’re very close to those towers. I tried, as I thought it, to send pictures of the towers we were trying to get to, the once that Fuzzy Bird had pulled us from in his mad dash to freedom, the one that nearly every Valkyrie in the world had poured out of trying to get to us.

The Me went back to one of the two things we’d discussed, really, for those two days: Shouldn’t they be out looking for us?

I looked up at the canopy of trees above us. Way above us. Way way above us. I still couldn’t believe we’d lived through the fall. Then again, Naked Girl had lived through a similar fall. So I couldn’t be killed? Or I could, but not by falling?

Maybe not by anything, the Me said.

I stopped walking and turned around. “I forgot you can see my thoughts.”

Only if you want me to, she said. Only when you let me.

She’d said that was how it worked, that first night when we’d made love after falling through the trees and narrowly surviving. After we’d been laying there for a while, sweaty and exhausted and frightened and exhilarated (and, for myself, a little weirded out that I’d been having sex with myself, essentially, although not like that) the Me had asked about the weird blank space that she’d seen in my mind.

She’d been careful to explain that she wasn’t reading my mind. Apparently, that could be done, at least here in Valhalla, but nobody tried to do it because it was a horrible invasion of privacy.

“We just automatically make sure that we don’t look at what people are thinking, and you grow up learning how to control it, to have your mind open or closed or kind of screened off, or however you want it. As you get better at it, you can have it open to certain people and not to others, and like that.”

I hadn’t been able to figure it out. She’d worked with me over the past two days, little exercises like the Valkyries had taught her. I’d gotten frustrated with one, once, and balled up my fists.

God, I’ll never get it, I thought, and she’d patted my arm, then held her hand there.

It takes years and years and years, she’d said. When Valkyries, or Clones, or Horses, are little, they broadcast everything. Or nothing. It’s just like learning to talk.

As we’d been walking through the forest, eating fruit off some bushes that the Me found for us and drinking water here and there from streams or pools, she’d continued drilling me on telepathy while trying to talk me through the blankness, too, and she started up on that now, also:

We can practice some more, she thought, and images of us practicing before flashed into my head, too, along with, this time, some music.

“How’d you do that?” I asked, forgetting to try to think it.

The music? She asked me back.

I concentrated: Yes, I thought at her, and tried to replay it in my mind for her.

I heard it, as I thought to you. But I heard it in your thoughts, not mine. I didn’t think it to you, she said.

I opened my eyes and looked around.

Then who did? I carefully thought at her, the skin on my neck prickling. Two days, I thought, and got sad. For two wonderful days the Me and I had walked through this peaceful woods and nobody had shot me or kidnapped me or dropped me off something or tried to grab me with tentacles and demons and I’d thought very little, during that time, of all the rest of the troubles – I hadn’t thought much of Brigitte’s betrayal and of Mr Damned Soul and all the rest.

I had sometimes thought about Doc and felt bad, but the Me had been a great companion and kept me from feeling too lonely. I tried, those times I thought about Doc, to remember that he wasn’t alive. It would be like missing a Read-Or unit or a dirigible. Except that dirigibles didn’t keep people company when they were walking from New York to…

I closed that thought off. I concentrated on the music and hoped that it wasn’t the start of new troubles. Valhalla had been like a vacation, almost, if you didn’t count the exploding left hand and the dropping out of the sky and the whole being-grabbed-by-Fuzzy-Bird thing. I didn’t want, I desperately didn’t want, there to be new trouble.

Relax your mind, the Me said. I felt her hand take mine and squeeze it. We were facing each other in a little clearing in the forest, the trees around us stretching nearly a mile up, I figured, but their branches allowing a tiny opening at the top that created a 20-foot-wide splash of sunlight for us at the bottom, warm and yellow and calm. There were ferns and a fruit bush near us and not far away I could hear a stream, the stream we’d been sticking close to as we’d walked back to the towers.

Relax, the Me sent me again. I’d tensed up when I’d thought about the Valkyries towers. Where were they?

Relax, the Me sent me again.

I relaxed. Or tried to. I let my shoulders loosen and my mind focus on the one thing that almost always worked: sex. I pictured the Me holding me. I pictured her letting go of my hand and moving a step closer to me, until we were almost chest-to-chest and hip-to-hip. I pictured her, then, shrugging her shoulders in that way she… I… had, and I pictured her doing that and pulling her shirt off, the little light cotton-y thing that barely covered her breasts anyway and pulled up at her … my…waist, a little, to show just a little tummy. I pictured her standing there, bare-breasted in front of me and I felt myself relax. I pictured her, then, lifting up my shirt and pulling it over my head until I, too, was bare-chested and then I thought, as I relaxed, about her pulling me to her and me leaning into her and wrapping my arms around her…

Hey! I heard, felt, got whacked with a, shout in my mind. It was like getting slapped in the brain and I opened my eyes.

The Me was standing in front of me, her shirt off and her arms out and my arms were reaching out to her. She didn’t look sexy or nice or sweet, thought. She looked shocked, and angry.

What are you DOING? She yelled in my mind again, causing me to wince.

“I didn’t do anything,” I said.

Images flashed through my mind, though, and she looked exactly like the last of them.

You’re CONTROLLING me, the Me said.

She backed a few steps away from me.

“Don’t,” I said. “I didn’t…. I don’t… I was just trying to relax.”

She was about ten feet away now, at the edge of the clearing.

Nobody should control someone else’s mind, she said.

“I didn’t try to,” I protested. I took a step towards her.

She took a step back: Nobody’s ever been able to do that.

“I don’t know how I did it,” I said.

Don’t come any nearer, she said. I didn’t listen. I stepped closer to her and said:

“Don’t do this!”

She turned to run from me but before she could move an inch she screamed and was lifted into the air, flying up and up and up, still screaming, while I stood on the ground below her and felt helpless.

Part 14: In the Forests of Valhalla.

Part A: I Learn Some Mind Tricks.

Part B: A surprise above the trees

Part C: Brigitte Talks To Me!

Part D: Invasion!

Meanwhile, In Tampa

Meanwhile in Tampa, War Breaks out Part 2

War Breaks Out Part 3

Meanwhile, In Tampa (Again)

Meanwhile, In Tampa:

“I told you, don’t ask that,” Samson said to the man. They stood there, awkwardly silent, for a moment as the man chewed his tongue and Samson watched him, hoping that the man would keep his silence, or at least mostly keep his silence. He gestured towards the aquariums. “Nice, huh?” he said, to try to distract the man. He knew the man could be distracted by things like that.

But the man didn’t look at the tanks set into the rock wall, with waterfalls and giant globes of water to look at. He kept mulling things over, very obviously doing so: he had his tongue between his teeth and was biting it, and he scratched his head, and he screwed up his face, and he had one hand on one meaty hip.

“Do you know where the souls go?” the man asked.

Samson nodded, then regretted it. “I do,” he said, slowly, “But we’ll talk about this later.”

The man looked upset.

“You told me…” he said.

Samson held up a hand.

“I know what I told you,” he whispered. A door opened not far away. “I know what I said and I didn’t lie to you. You do send those souls to Heaven. And you’re doing a good job of it.” He thought back to the Display, all those chips. A VERY good job. Samson himself was almost horrified at how prolific the man had been, and he had to remind himself, as he pictured the sheer number of women the man must have killed to have that many chips, that it was all for the greater good. They would have been dead, anyway, ultimately, he told himself. To the man he said “A very good job. But we cannot talk about this now. Not in front of God.”

“He knows, though, right? God knows everything.”

“Not this, he doesn’t. Not right now.” Samson suddenly stood and saluted as two heavily-armored and heavily-armed guards came into view. They wore military battle armor that was rarely used anymore outside of God, Inc, and only used inside of the corporation as a show of force. There were equally effective but less cumbersome ways of protecting soldiers, but the heavy battle armor was impressive and sometimes you wanted to impress people. A soldier carrying a giant Heater/Concussion Cannon, wearing bulky, spiky, shiny armor with heavy boots and GripGloves and a See-Ray visor does not need to fight as often as one would think; his very appearance intimidates many into not fighting.

The two soldiers stood at attention and a slim, middle-aged man walked into view, squinting a little in the sunlight. He wore a pair of khaki pants and some sandals and a button-up shirt with tiny golf clubs on it. He held up his hand and shaded his eyes as he looked at Samson saluting. The logo above the pocket of his shirt said God, Inc. and had a tiny halo above the “o” in God.

Samson continued saluting as God came over. The man, belatedly, saluted, too, as Samson looked at him pointedly. God laughed.

“Is this our week to be in charge?” he asked. “I can’t keep track of that. I suppose I should get an assistant or maybe one of those old-fashioned retro calendars. I could mark the days that we run the world and know when you’re supposed to be saluting and when we’re just another corporation.”

Samson still stood, and God said “Come on, Samson. Don’t salute. No formalities are necessary. I’ve told you that before.” Only then did Samson relax.

“It’s important for me, sir.” Samson wanted to remind the guards, the man, who they were dealing with. It was easy to forget that this was the man, the creature, the Being that had created all 73 dimensions, unless one observed the formalities.

“Well, fine, then, but at ease.” God sat down and motioned to the guards. “I don’t have a communicator. Would one of you radio to get some drinks?” God looked at the man and then at Samson. “Who is this?” he said, not unkindly.

“An associate,” Samson said. “He works for us. In Special Ops.”

“Oh.” God motioned to a chair. “Sit down.”

“How’s the weather been?” Samson asked.

“Very nice. I can’t complain. No rain, no wind, no storms. In fact, the weather’s been perfect for as long as I’ve been here,” God said.

“And business?” Samson asked as a drink was set in front of him. He sipped at it. Lemonade, and quite delicious. A tiny bit frosty and icy, just the way he liked it.

“Things are going well. Profits are up, costs are down, we’ve not had any trouble rotating in and out of power, and I myself have been out on the tennis courts five times in the past week because it’s all running so smoothly.”

Samson asked: “The battlefront?”

God frowned a little. “Still quiet, here. But there’s been an attack.”
“Hell.” God looked to the guards and then back at Samson. “And not by who you’d think. It’s not the Blockers.”

Behind God, a strange looking animal ambled into view. It was about the size of a dog but appeared to be more caterpillar than dog, if a caterpillar moved more quickly and had only two legs which is used to hop, kangaroo style.

God saw Samson looking at it and said “Do you like it?”
Samson wondered what to say. He didn’t, not entirely, but he’d also never seen something like it. Still, it was clear that God liked it. “I guess,” Samson said. “Which dimension is it from?”

“None,” God said. “I made it.”

Samson just looked at him. “You made it?” He said, finally.

“I discovered about two weeks ago that I can make things. Just right out of thin air. I couldn’t believe it. I made this thing, I was sitting around, and I suddenly had a thought about a kind of bird that I sort of half-pictured, a tall bird with hands instead of wings, only they were like wings, too,” God was getting excited, leaning in. The caterpillar-thing hopped over and he scratched it on the head.

“And I suddenly knew I could make it, and I just stood up and started sort of sketching in the air and pulling stuff out of the ether and picking up fuzz off the carpet and all, and suddenly there was this bird, that I’d just created, a giant fuzzy bird.”

Before Samson could say anything about that, three things happened.

A woman came outside and said “Jerry! Why didn’t you tell me we had guests?” and God spun around and looked a little surprised.

And the man stood up suddenly and said “Do the souls go to Hell?” and his chair fell over.

And there was an explosion right behind Samson that shattered the aquariums and the patio and sent them all flying.

Part 13I: Falling For The Me...

What are we going to do now? The Me asked, in my mind.

“Let me think,” I said. But I couldn’t. We remained spreadeagled, the Me clinging to my front. I had my arms spread out and continued to kick my legs and wave my arms to keep us moving forward as we moved down. The wind absolutely howled past my ears. I shouted:

“Can you see any of them?”

In my mind: What?

I tried thinking it: Can you see them, anywhere? Anything? The Me poked her head up over my shoulder. Her hair (my hair!) whipped into my face as she did that. I kept paddling.

No, came back. The image: empty sky, blue and cold and devoid of sexy Valkyries coming to help us. No weird Fuzzy Bird squawing and flapping.

Geez geez geez the Me thought, then, or maybe it was my own thought. The tree branches were closer than ever, only a foot or two below us and I felt leaves, leaves that were as big as my stomach, brushing past us. Whisk whisk whisk whisk and then flutter flutter than flapping slapping leaves like the sound of tiny hands clapping as we soared through them, one after the other plapplap plapplap plapplap plapplap plapplap plapplap plapplap and then we were in the tree tops. A twig or branch or something caught my foot and stopped our forward momentum entirely and we swung forward.

Help the Me thought and clung to me even tighter. I wrapped my arms around her as we dropped like a stone through ever-thicker branches, snapping and popping at us. Then I had a thought:

Hang on tight I told her in our minds, and let go. She clutched to me and let out a little squeak. My leg hurt where it had hit a branch but I didn’t think about that. Instead, as we fell into the space between the leaves, the emptiness inside the tree, I reached out and tried to grab at leaves and sticks, tried to grab something to stop us, to slow us down.

Those trees were big! Once we were through the canopy at the top, which happened pretty fast, there was a lot of space between the branches. We were dropping and tumbling and I tried to reach out, tried to grab anything, but nothing was near enough. I got a handful of giant leaf, but it just tore and we spun in the opposite direction, causing me to look up at the treetop we’d just come through. Dammit I thought. I tried to look over my shoulder. I must have told the Me something in our minds because suddenly she squealed, a little, and I got a picture in my mind: A giant branch, right below us.

We hit it, square on my back. “Oooof” I gasped as the wind got knocked out of me. We bounced off the branch and tumbled to my left, still wrapped together, and falling on an angle now. I struggled to catch my breath and thought of something: Naked girl jumped out that window. In my mind, I saw it again, her falling down, hitting the ground, and getting up.

Could I do that?

Don’t try it, the Me told me.

I don’t think we’ve got a choice, I said back. I hoped I could protect my head. We were falling, still, rolling over and over and there were more branches coming up. I caught my breath and tried to reach out as we got near another one. I hit it with my hand; it was smooth and tough to grip and polished-feeling and I couldn’t get a hold of it. We spun off and twisted in the air, faster now, rolling over and over as we fell another couple hundred feet.

Another branch, another grab… almost I thought and we swung a little, pausing, almost, but then falling again and I thought I can do this.

You can came the thought back. The Me was looking, too, and we fell a little slower. We hit another branch with our sides, and she cringed but didn’t say anything. I tried to grab it with both hands but couldn’t. We fell to another one, my leg catching it and swinging us upside down before we started falling again, headfirst. I kicked my legs and we spun around again and brushed another branch, wildly flailing now, and I couldn’t see anything clearly.

Then, empty air. We were below the level of the branches and I was facing down, the Me below me. We fell and turned. Watch it, I said, and that was all I had time to do as we twisted a final little bit so that I was on the bottom and she was on top.

We hit hard. I saw the ground coming, saw the twisting, felt the impact, then:


I was alone.

My head was clear. I stood alone, in an empty space.

Black and kind of chilly and weird. I was definitely standing. I was definitely upright. I was definitely okay. But I was alone.

What is this? I thought. I looked around. Nothing, as far as I could see. Just black and kind of chilly and weird, like I said. It was like the whole universe was made of velvet sheets that I could see through and kind of feel but they were there anyway.

I took a step.

Then I opened my eyes and the Me was looking at me.

You saved me, she told me in my mind. I saw again our flipping final turn to have me land on the ground and not her. She was breathing heavy and had some scratches but for all that wasn’t any worse for the wear.

Where am I? I thought, still with the black-space in my mind, but before I could get an answer the Me pressed her lips down onto mine and began kissing me, as hard as she could.

You saved me. You saved my life. I love you, she kept thinking in my mind, and I felt her—my—lips pressed firmly against my – her – lips. They, our, lips, were smooth and soft and plump. I’d chewed on my own lip before but I’d never known what it would be like to kiss myself.

The Me’s lips pushed into mine, hard and ferocious. I’m a tough kisser, maybe. She pressed them into mine and I felt hot breath whispering out between them and into mine. Then she began to move them, slightly, moving the kiss over my mouth, up, a little. Then down, a little. Then to the right and the left. It was as though she was talking to me in a language only lovers could use, a lip-to-lip language made up of caresses and rubbing. Her breath got hotter and thicker and pushed into my mouth, my breath escaping and me living on hers, sweet and tough. As my lips opened more to let her breath into my mouth, she followed them with her own, so that our lips perfectly pantomimed each other.

At the same time as she was doing that, images were flashing through my mind, in no particular order: us falling, the trees, my arrival at Valhalla, her getting up and getting dressed that morning, us falling again, her putting on lipstick, a slowly-panning view of my legs up to my hips and past my torn, burnt clothing to rest on my breasts and see my nipples poking out, just slightly, my eyes, her eyes, our eyes close together—

… I opened my eyes then and saw her looking them…

And amidst those images even more: colors flickered by, and flowers, and bedsheets and musical notes drawn by hand and starry skies and a river and then a skyline and then more colors, all interspersed with her images of me and her images of herself and my images of her and my images of myself. And, then, in with those, began appearing more thoughts and words: us naked, standing in front of each other. Kiss you flickered through my mind. Us hugging, holding hands, rolling around make love to you I felt her say. Or I said it.

The kiss was still going on and I almost had lost track of it. This kiss and the thoughts in my head were like seeing a flat-paper drawing suddenly spring up into three or more dimensions and begin talking. It wasn’t just seeing things differently; it was a whole new thing, alive and suddenly doing things.

Her tongue was pressed against mine. She put it into my mouth, lightly, and touched it to the tip of my tongue, held it there, like she was trying to see if they would conduct electricity. Then her tongue began swirling and spiraling around mine and at the same time I saw us, in my mind, lying there on the floor of the forest, amidst leaves and brush, clothes in disarray, hair messy, two identically beautiful copies kissing each other for all they were worth.

Kiss me back love me hold me kiss me fuck me came a thought and then I did, I kissed her back as hard as I could. I flung my arms around the Me and pulled her to me and tilted my head and wrapped my mouth onto hers. Our tongues met in the middle and I rubbed my tongue against hers and then around her teeth and gums and then pulled it back to flick it against her lips before pushing it back into her mouth. I rolled her over and sat up, arms on either side of her as she gasped for air.

In that pause, while our bodies were touching only where I sat on her waist, my mind exploded with images and words and colors: yellow touch me a giant star exploding fuck me us kissing her brushing her hair please make love to me

I joined her in our minds, thinking how surprised I was and how beautiful she had been when I saw her, and my subconscious threw in thoughts of her pressing her body up against mine and I bent down again and pulled her shirt up, touching my mouth to her breasts lightly, pulling her nipples in between my lips and sucking on them, gently at first and then harshly, tugging at them with each inhale, while my hands ran down her sides. I crouched up over her and pulled her skirt down and ran my hands back up over her flat, beautiful stomach while she watched me and bit her lip, then closed her eyes.

In my mind I felt Oh god that feels good and there were red flowers and the moon coming up over the horizon joined by another moon shortly after it and a mountain top filled with snow and rainy days and music flooded in, something I’d heard before.

I bent down and kissed her on the stomach, on the waist… and looked up at her.

Are you ready for this? I thought at her.

She looked up at me.

Ready… she thought, and everything paused and then I leaned down and touched my tongue to her and began to lick and our minds exploded and for just an instant, I was in the black-space again…