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Part Three of the Satyr Saga
“What have you done to me?” Owen repeated.
He was walking a knife edge, only moments away from hysteria. Less than a day before, his life had turned comfortably in its old, familiar rut. Work delivering pizza at Mama Juliana’s. Home. Sleep. Saving money to finish the last few classes he needed to get his associate’s degree and be able to transfer to a four-year university and pursue a real degree, perhaps in engineering, more likely in business. Caring for his mother, worrying about his sister.
And then, in the space of a few hours, everything had turned upside down. A chance encounter in the parking lot of a grocery store had led to the gift of a copper bracelet that somehow made him unnervingly desirable to the opposite sex.
It had started off slowly, the previous evening. Or, rather, very early this morning, as his mother, Isabel, had grown strangely flirtatious with him. Then, this morning at breakfast, she had been even more affectionate, kissing him full on the mouth and speaking so frankly about her sexual relationship with his long-dead father that he feared she had an illness which was taking away her inhibitions.
The strangeness had snowballed throughout the day, to the point that he could no longer deny that something in his life had gone completely off the rails. Crazy-hot sex at the store with his boss and long-time crush, Anaya. A blow job in the back yard of his old high school girlfriend, who he had not seen or even spoken to in over four years. Sex with an older woman in her home office while her husband was passed out, only a few feet away.
And just a few minutes ago, and most chillingly, the warning from a beautiful Russian woman that the hand of a dark god was on him. It was that foretelling which had led Owen to pull to the side of the road, turn on his blinkers, and frantically call the woman who had given him the bracelet less than twenty-four hours before.
“Do to you?” answered Phoebe, her voice amused. “Nothing. Or at least, very little.”
“Don’t play games with me,” said Owen, his hand clenching on the phone. “Tell me what is going on.
“Who are you?”
“Ah,” said Phoebe. “That’s the right sort of question.” She paused and her voice grew clinical. “Will you accept for the purposes of this conversation that there are things going on in your life that are beyond the ordinary?”
“Accept it?” said Owen disbelievingly, his voice rising. “That’s the reason I’m calling you! I haven’t been laid in nearly a year, and now I have half the freaking population of Iowa throwing themselves at me. Including my own mother, in case you hadn’t noticed!”
“Oh, I noticed, all right,” Phoebe said, her voice smug. “So did the rest of us. But going back to your question about my identity. Phoebe is not my real name. It is Phobos.”
“Phobos,” she repeated, “One of the twin sons of Ares, god of war. I was the personification of fear. I had a moon named after me,” she finished, somewhat proudly.
“Phobos,” Owen said blankly. “What is the Roman personification of fear doing in Des Moines, Iowa, and what does it have to do with me being irresistible to women?”
“Greek,” Phoebe, or Phobos, corrected.
“Whatever,” Owen snarled. “Why are you here, and why are you fucking around with my life?”
There was silence on the line. Then: “Dad lost a bet,” she mumbled.
“Here’s some advice, Owen. Never get drunk and start gambling with Bacchus. Dad was hanging out with him a few weeks back, bitching about how things weren’t like they were in the old days. How there’s a lot of wars, but he never gets invited anymore. That the only time anyone talks about him is in your stupid video games or in old history books.
“They’re always trying to find a way back in, those old gods. Bacchus isn’t in much better shape. Oh, every once in a while someone will throw him a drunken salute as they pour themselves a glass of wine, but that isn’t real worship. And it is thin gruel for a god to survive on.
“So they both got plastered and started talking about the glory days. And they decided that the best way to get some of their strength back was to send a messenger to the mortal realm and to find someone to act as an avatar for their worship.
“But they only had enough power between them to send one messenger and to choose one avatar.
“They threw dice for it. Dad lost. Because of course he did. Gambling with Bacchus. Moron. As his son, I was given a new form and sent here to search for the right person.”
“And you chose me?” Owen’s voice was disbelieving. “I don’t even like wine. And what does this have to do with sex?”
Phoebe laughed. “Oh, you poor, modern men. You don’t have the benefit of a classical education. Bacchus was also the head of the satyrs.”
“The satyrs. Bacchus’ companions. Men. Mostly naked, really well-hung, spent most of their time humping asyabahis yeni giriş like goats. Pretty much irresistible to women.”
He could almost hear Phoebe smirk over the phone.
“Sex is so much better at drawing people in than war, or even alcohol. The porn industry is proof enough of that. You would have thought Dad would have figured it out by now, but he was always slow to learn.”
“Bacchus’ idea was that if he endowed,” a snigger on the phone, “a human with some of his powers, made him his avatar, it might open the door of worship just wide enough for him to squeeze back in. He sent me and asked me to choose a man. And not just any man,” she continued, interrupting his strangled exclamations, “but a good man. One who would not misuse his gift.
“So far,” she said, “it seems that I have chosen well. And you were chosen, Owen. Never doubt it. If this gamble of Bacchus’ is to succeed, I had to choose someone who was decent and…and honorable. Someone who would not abuse his power.”
“So,” Owen said weakly, “my bigger dick?”
“A gift of the god, to enhance your partner’s pleasure.”
“A sign that you are in the presence of one who would welcome your attentions. You might also,” she said, her voice low and wicked, “find that your…recovery time…is much reduced. If you continue as you have begun, you will need it.”
Owen ignored this. “And the fact that women are losing control around me?”
“They aren’t.” To Owen’s disbelieving silence, she insisted. “They aren’t, Owen. How many women have you been around today, between the store, your deliveries, and everything?”
“I don’t know. Quite a few.”
“And how many did you have sex with?”
“Well, three, I guess.”
“Right. One was Anaya. All that happened with her was the bracelet gave her the ability to see you as you really are, and gave a little kick to her sex drive. But we did not force her on you, and you certainly didn’t force yourself on her.
“Second was Sandy. A sweet, gentle girl who met you in a vulnerable moment and wanted to make up for the way she thought she mistreated you.
“Third, Wendy. She was so pent-up with anger at her husband and frustration at her lack of a sex life that she would have humped a lawn ornament. The bracelet took just enough of her inhibitions away for her to seduce you and to enjoy sex for the first time in years.
“Women may find you desirable. But a woman who is in a loving, committed relationship would no more go to bed with you than she would cut off her own arm.
“We do not take away free will. In fact, we enhance it. We let you know which women you meet are willing. By removing some of their inhibitions, we give them the chance to exercise their own desires. If you wish, you can mate with all of them. Or some of them. Or none. No one forced you to fuck Anaya at the store today. Or accept oral sex from Sandy. And you could have easily escaped Wendy if you truly wished.”
“And my mother?” Owen asked, his knuckles white on the phone.
“Ah,” Phoebe said, her voice wise and slightly mocking. “You’re finally coming around to the real reason you called.
“You’re terrified of going home to Mama, aren’t you, Owen? Terrified of what might be waiting for you there. Will it be the loving mother you have known your entire life, or will it be the sexy woman you have caught glimpses of in the last few hours? And do you act on your desire, which you have hidden, even from yourself, for years? Or do you lock it away and pretend it doesn’t exist?”
“I’m not…I don’t…”
“You are. And you do. Don’t try to lie about fear to Phobos, silly boy. And don’t lie about lust to the envoy of Bacchus.”
She laughed, voice low with wonder. “Aphrodite’s Tits! Just saying her name made you hard for her, didn’t it, Owen? It’s too bad that I’m not there to help you out. I’d give you a nice ride, just to see what sex is like when you’re on the receiving end of the dick. I’m a woman now, after all. And I might as well receive some of the benefits of giving you that bracelet. Want to tell me where you are?”
Owen flushed, and forced his wandering hand away from his cock, which had, indeed, grown hard and full and aching, thinking on the moment earlier this morning when his mother’s full breasts had been pressed against his chest, and her soft lips tender on his. Phoebe continued, her voice somewhat gentler than normal, as if she sensed his distress and sought to calm him.
“The best advice I can give to you, young one, is this. The bracelet makes no differentiation between those who are or are not blood kin. Your mother is a lonely woman in the prime of her life who physically desires and emotionally needs a man in her life. It could be you.
“But you can also choose to deny her, and yourself. The effects of the bracelet dull with time and proximity. So if you choose not to pursue Isabel, or if she chooses to act against the desires of asyabahis giriş her body, in a few days the recent incidents will fade and be forgotten.”
Owen nodded, his mouth dry, even though he knew Phoebe couldn’t see him. “All right, then. I keep my dick in my pants and eventually this all blows over with Mama. No problem.
“But what about this creepy stuff where I am giving advice to women after we…after we make love? I don’t where it is coming from and it scares the hell out of me.”
Phoebe’s voice was surprised. “You’re already manifesting as a seer? Damn, that is impressive. I wouldn’t have thought that would take place for several more days, at least. Maybe even weeks.” To Owen’s flabbergasted silence, she quickly added, “It’s nothing to be afraid of, Owen. Bacchus is simply speaking through you. Giving good advice to those who have come to you. It is one of the ways he hopes to crack the door of worship open. By leading these women down a more fruitful path,” she continued, “they will be among your acolytes when the time comes to declare yourself.”
Phoebe sighed. “Owen, sometimes humans really are most remarkably dense.
“Did you really think you could accept the gifts you have been given, go on with your life, and not have to give something in return? For everything there is a price.”
“And what price will I have to pay?” Owen asked tensely.
“Why, belief, dear child. Faith. Eventually, possibly, priesthood. Fortunately,” she said, the smile in her voice clear, “the laws of your nation are amazingly lax. You can set yourself up as a priest of Bacchus and the only thing that will happen is that people will look at you a bit strangely.
“Some of the women you…serve…will be drawn to you. And your new faith. Wendy, for example. There’s a lusty piece of ass. I wish I had known her when I was male. She would be a perfect choice to help lead your new temple. She could draw in converts by the dozen. Male and female both.”
Owen’s temper, already frayed, abruptly snapped. “This is ridiculous!” he shouted into the phone, heedless of the stares he was drawing from people on the sidewalk. “I am not a priest. I am not going to start a church worshiping some long-gone Greek god. I am not going to have a herd of horny women around me who worship Bacchus and bring in converts.”
Phoebe’s voice grew cold. “You don’t want it, boy? Fine. Take off the bracelet. Throw it away. Throw it all away. Go back to your tedious, soul-sucking job. Beg for hours, scrape for tips. Live one step up from poverty, if you can.
“Get your precious diploma. Find a job. Marry a woman with goals as small and petty as your own. Accept mediocrity. Deny the possibility of beauty and power and passion.
“And for the rest of your life, you’ll always wonder.
The connection abruptly dropped. Fuming, Owen tried to call her back, but it went straight to voice mail.
“Fucking nuts,” he muttered. He pulled back into the street. For a moment his hand clamped about the bracelet, then it dropped back to the steering wheel.
Can’t throw it away now, he said to himself as he drove back to the store. What if someone else finds it and puts it on? Someone like those kids from last night?
I’ll take it off at home. Hide it away. No one needs to know about it. And things will go back to normal. Hope Anaya still wants to go out with me, though.
Samara will be back home tonight. She and her new squeeze will probably be around all weekend. Mama won’t try anything while they’re here. Hopefully the acclimation that Phoebe was talking about will have kicked in by then.
“You have got to be kidding me,” Samara moaned as traffic ground to a halt yet again.
The two-hour drive from Cedar Rapids to Des Moines had turned into an interminable death-march. If it wasn’t a back-up caused by construction, some nitwit had been pulled over for speeding, causing a gaper’s delay. Or someone had tried to butt into line and had caused an accident, making the situation even worse.
Now, on the outskirts of town, dozens of police cars lined the shoulders of the interstate, and traffic was stopped in both directions. Right beside her, a car bearing the emblem of the Iowa State Highway Patrol pulled over, lights flashing. A young trooper got out of the car and stretched her arms above her head. Samara looked on admiringly.
Taller than me, but I’ve got better tits.
She beeped her horn, rolling down the window, and the trooper walked over, long lean legs carrying her quickly to Sam’s car.
“Can I do something for you, miss?” she asked.
“Yes,” Sam said, trying to mask her impatience. “Can you tell me what the heck is going on up there? I’ve never seen anything like this. I’m trying to get into town to visit my mother and brother, and the way things are going, I’m wondering if I’ll be there before midnight.”
The lady officer nodded her asyabahis güvenilirmi sympathy. “I’ll tell you the same thing I’ve been telling everyone. Be prepared to wait for a while. Some nutjob broke out of the county jail a little while back. Took out two officers doing it,” she continued, as Sam’s mouth fell open, “and stole a car. He’s considered dangerous. A real mental case.
“So we’re searching vehicles into and out of the city until we find him. So you’ll be able to go as soon as we’ve checked all the cars in front of you.”
“All of them?” Sam wailed. “But that could take hours! And why are you checking cars going into town? Do you think this guy broke out of jail, drove out of town, and now he’s driving back in? That doesn’t make any sense!”
“Neither does assaulting a police officer, miss. But this guy did it. Keep an eye out for him, once you get into town. Tall, skinny, dark hair, dark eyes. Answers to the name of Calvin Grant. We’ll get you through as quickly as we can.” With a polite nod the trooper walked back up the line, apparently giving the same answer she had given Samara to cars full of irate drivers.
Sam sagged back in her seat and squinted in front of her at the fading sunset. She had meant to be home by seven, but it was already well past that time.
She let her car inch forward as the vehicle in front of her moved a couple of yards, then stopped again. Unhooking her cell from the charger, she called her mother.
“Hello, Mama,” she said as Isabel answered.
“Hello, darling. Are you almost home?”
“Well, that depends on your definition of ‘almost’,” Sam said sourly. “I’m only a few miles away from the exit, but the police have traffic stopped and they are searching cars for some lunatic who escaped from jail this evening.”
She heard her mother gasp. “Of course! I saw it on the TV! The news man came on and spoke about it. Such a terrible thing. You be careful, mi tesora, and give no rides to crazy men.”
Samara laughed. “Right, Mama. Because I make it a habit to pick up hitchhikers. Anyway. I have no idea when I’ll get out of this crap and be home. Is Owen back from work yet?”
“No, he’s not. I expect him back very soon, though.”
“Well, you two had better eat without me. I don’t want you waiting for hours while the food gets cold.”
Isabel sighed sadly. “Very well, mi vida. But we will save plenty for you and you can eat when you get home. And tomorrow we will all eat together. Three good meals for my children.”
“I can’t wait,” Samara said, laughing. “You know that’s why I come home, don’t you? So you can feed me up and I can go home with plenty of leftovers.”
“Of course I do,” her mother said, her voice warm and loving. “Drive safe, and call me when you know when you will be here.”
“I will,” Sam promised as she inched forward again. “But it looks like it will be after nine at least. Bye now.”
Samara’s lips curled in a fond smile. She takes such good care of me. They both do. Especially my doofus brother. She remembered the terrible, stressful months after their father died. Just fifteen years old then, she knew enough to know that the family’s finances were in desperate trouble, but she was too young to do anything about it.
At that point young Owen Howard had put the entire family on his shoulders. First using his dad’s pickup, then a used Pontiac that he picked up, he had gone to work at the pizza store. Thirty, forty, sometimes fifty hours a week in the summer. Less during the school year, but enough to make the difference between having a home and foreclosure.
A picture came to mind, one that she had seen dozens of times over the years. Owen, sleeping at the kitchen table, head pillowed on his crossed arms, a small pile of bills in front of him; the cash that he had brought home the night before.
Samara shifted uncomfortably. Have I ever thanked him for what he did for us? Putting his dreams on hold to make sure we didn’t have to move into some crappy apartment? So that we would have one stable thing in our lives?
We should talk, tomorrow. He could die, just like Papa. I want him to know how much I love him.
She sniffled. Why can’t I find a man like that to care for me now? All I’ve met since I moved to Cedar Rapids are hicks, trailer-trash, and douche-bags. Not one of them has cared about me as a person.
None of them has been able to keep me happy in bed, either, she thought grumpily. Her anger at her former boyfriend resurfaced. She had broken up with Charlie earlier in the day, partly out of frustration with his inability to satisfy her sexually, mostly because of his belief that he was doing her some sort of favor by going out with a Latina girl in white-bread Iowa.
She squeezed her thighs together, the warmth of unfulfilled desire growing in her core. The slow pace of the days’ travel had left her plenty of time to fantasize, and her panties were damp with her juice. A particularly hot daydream involving George Clooney, a desert island, and lots of cocoa butter had left her wet and aching, and during one stop she had thumbed through her phone contacts idly, wondering if any of her high-school classmates would be interested in a booty call.
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