35: Girls’ Night

on July 20, 2007 in 02: Love In The Time Of Magic

In Which Mackenzie Is The Recipient Of A Gift

Barley answered the door when I showed up for the night’s festivities, after an early evening spent gazing the ethernet in joyous time-wasting fashion. I couldn’t name a single page I’d visited. I couldn’t recall the details of a single tapestry I might have contributed to, I was just that excited.

“What are you doing here?” I asked Barley, surprised. As far as I had known, it was just going to be me and Puddy and Mariel… though really, the more the merrier. I could tell myself that three people could be a party, under the circumstances… but four was better.

“It’s my room, isn’t it?” Barley said. Her voice was slightly slurred… that probably had something to do with the chardonnay bottle she was holding.

“I just meant, Amaranth said you guys were working over in Pelinor tonight,” I clarified.

She gave a derisive snort.

“Amaranth ought to keep her cockhole shut,” Barley said. “She’s not my boss. She’s a year younger than me. Did you know that?” I did, in fact. “A year younger, but you wouldn’t know it the way she talks.” I rather liked the way Amaranth talked, some of the time… especially when she was reciting interesting facts and not just talking “business”, but I decided to keep that to myself.

Barley stepped aside to let me into the room. She was alone. In the time since I’d first been in Mariel and Barley’s room, the two beds had been pushed together in a corner, and the mattresses shoved slightly out of frame so that they’d come closer to actually joining up. They’d somehow got rid of the desks that came with the rooms. I wondered if Barley had stowed them away, in that mysterious fashion that she and Amaranth could.

“So, um… is Puddy around?” I asked.

“She had to take Mariel to the healing center,” Barley said. “They should be back soon.”

“What happened?” I asked.

“Her scissors slipped,” she said, then snorted again.

“Oh, shit… is Mariel okay?” I asked.

“I said they went to the healing center,” Barley said.

“Don’t you have healing magic?” I asked. I wasn’t really sure. I remembered her mentioning the possibility of healing Amaranth’s injuries if she went too far in her masochistic play had come up… but so far, neither of the nymphs had spoken of healing anybody but themselves or each other.

“Puddy didn’t know,” Barley said, with a shrug. “I didn’t offer.”

“Oh,” I said. I was feeling very uncomfortable. Barley was acting weird. Also, as spastic as Mariel seemed at times, she was actually pretty coordinated… she only looked like she was flailing her arms around so wildly because she was moving them faster than a human could. On the other hand, Puddy had taken her over to the healing center herself. That didn’t seem likely, if she’d had something to do with Mariel’s accident…

I shivered. I didn’t like that line of thinking. Puddy’s your friend, I reminded myself. Mariel’s nuts about her. If they hurt each other, it was probably consensual, like Viktor and Steff.

“Do you know if they’re still doing the pizza thing tonight?” I asked.

“Yeah, we are… you’re not getting out of it, so don’t get any ideas,” she said. I liked Barley okay, but drinking seemed to have brought something out in her, beyond the jealousy she’d shown to Amaranth ever since I’d met them. At the risk of sounding like a cheesy public service announcement, it really seemed like alcohol made everybody creepy and mean… I couldn’t see how else to account for her seeming personality change.

“Um, I think I’ll just check back in a bit,” I said. “Or Mariel could come and get me when everything’s ready…”

“Or you could wait here,” Barley said.

“I… okay,” I said. If Barley was going to be present for the girls’ night, I didn’t want to make things weird–or weirder than they were–by offending her. Plus, it had just occurred to me that if I was alone with Barley, I could get some answers about nymphs.

I briefly wondered: was this what Amaranth had meant about me and my reasons? Probably not. It wasn’t like I had to stretch for these ones.

“Why don’t you sit down and get comfortable?” Barley said. She plopped down on the bed.

The only place to sit besides the double-bed (which I really wasn’t going to touch, if I could avoid it) was the swivel chair Mariel had in front of her vanity. I took that, spinning it around to face her.

“Can I ask you something?” I asked.

She shrugged. “Why not?”

“Um… I know nymphs are pretty strongly magical,” I said. “And I know you guys have… well, a lot to do with sex. So, I was wondering… is there some magic you have that can make people want… want to touch you? Or do things?”

“Gee, I don’t know, Mack,” she said. She leaned slightly backwards spreading her legs out, and reached down to actually pull apart the sides of her pussy, actually opening it up to a degree I’d never even considered could be possible. “Let’s see… are you feeling an overwhelming urge to bury your face against me?”

I had two conflicting thoughts in my head. The first was that it was the most disgusting, revolting thing I’d ever seen. The second was that it wasn’t actually that bad. I mean, when I thought about “down there”, it was… well, I don’t know if I can put it into words, or if I’d want to… but it was nasty, especially on the inside. Barley’s wasn’t like that. It was probably because she was a nymph, I decided. If another girl had done it… if I had done it… I’m sure it would have been a lot closer to my mental image.

“Guess not,” she said, when I didn’t actually say anything in response. “So, no. No make-mortals-attracted-to-us-magic for nymphs, sad to say”

“But, when I’m with Amaranth… I get all confused,” I said. “I want to touch her, and I do things I really probably wouldn’t have with anybody else. Why would that be, if it isn’t magic?”

“Maybe it’s because you’re in love with her, you stupid sack of shit,” Barley said. I stared at her, utterly shocked… at which part, I couldn’t have said. She thought I was in love with Amaranth? She’d just called me a stupid sack of shit? My brain didn’t want to process any of it. “Part of me wants to feel sorry for you, but then you go and talk about fucking Amaranth like that… but I really don’t have any malice for you.” She shook her head, as if trying to clear away bad thoughts or something. “I really don’t.”

For my part, I really had no idea what she was talking about… I could probably guess a hundred reasons she might feel sorry for me, if I tried… so I kept my mouth shut.

“If there was any other way I could see that would give me a shot at you, I’d take it,” she went on, giving me no clearer idea what was happening. “I really would, but… that’s not going to happen. I’m tired of always giving, never taking… never getting anything that I want for me. I’m sick of fucking Amaranth always getting her way, always copying me and then somehow getting the credit… you know it was my idea to sit by you and Puddy, that day with the doughnuts? ‘Look at that girl,’ I said. ‘She looks sooo sad. Let’s see if we can’t help get her out her shell.'”

She stopped and took a swig from the bottle, making a face. I wondered why she was drinking it if it tasted that bad.

“And now, she’s spanking you in front of the whole student body,” she said. “Whoopy.”

“Nymphs aren’t supposed to get jealous,” I reminded her.

“‘Nymphs aren’t supposed to get jealous!'” she repeated, mockingly.

I wondered if nymphs were supposed to drink, for that matter.

“Maybe I should just go,” I said, getting out of the chair.

“Maybe you should sit your ass down before I knock it down,” Barley said, in an attempt at a tough-guy voice that would have been hilarious, in just about any other circumstance. “That’s what you like, right? I was nice to you, but Puddy bosses you around and even fucking Amaranth steals your clothes and marches you around like a golem… and they both got a turn with you.”

“Puddy never got a ‘turn’ with me,” I said indignantly. I would have liked to argue the point about Amaranth, too, but wasn’t sure how.

“That’s not what I hear,” Barley said. “How about today at lunch? I got a full report from fucking Amaranth… who, by the way, was just pleased as punch that you let your roommate digitally rape you in full view of the cafeteria.” Barley gave another derisive little snort. “She says it’s great progress! Can you believe that? I wanted to make love to you, Mack… but wise, all-knowing Amaranth doesn’t even know the difference.”

“But, that isn’t even what happened,” I said. “You weren’t there. I just… let her touch me a little.”

“She had her hand in your fucking twat, you dumb shit!” Barley screamed, her face turning red. “What do you think that is? She was raping you in public and you didn’t even know!”

“Puddy wouldn’t…”

“She would!” Barley replied. “She’s been bragging about how she’s going to fuck you ever since we all met!”

“She said she wouldn’t do that if I wasn’t ready,” I argued. I didn’t point out that I would never be ready… the idea of sex with Puddy bothered me in ways that the thought of sex in general didn’t, even sex with another woman. I figured that was normal… everything I’d ever heard or read said that sex between friends, especially best friends, was just plain bad.

“Yeah, and after today, she says you are,” Barley said. “So she’s going to ‘break you in for real’, and then… Mariel and I get our turns. That’s what she said.”

Now I knew Barley was lying, if not just deranged. Mariel? Little Mariel? She was madly in love with Puddy, as near as I could tell, and even if she wasn’t… she just couldn’t be capable, mentally or physically.

“Mariel couldn’t…” I started.

“She can. She will,” Barley said. “Puddy will make sure.”

“You’re acting like Puddy’s some kind of a monster,” I said, forgetting for the moment that this was a dirty word in Harlowe. Not that it mattered, at the moment.

“Hello? Wake up and smell the gang rape!” Barley said. “Nobody’ll do anything. Nobody’ll say anything. Do you know half the shit that goes on in this dorm? And Kiersta’s worse than useless… she’s afraid to get involved.”

“You’re wrong… it’s a party,” I cried. Maybe I was more messed up than even I realized, but at that moment, what upset me most was the loss of my normal night, staying up late with a bunch of girl friends… even getting my hair done. “We’re having pizza!” I added. I don’t know why, but the pizza seemed very important to me. It was somehow key. Nothing bad could happen if we were having pizza.

“Yeah, think about that, for a minute!” Barley shouted. “I don’t eat anything with animal products, Puddy doesn’t eat anything except those damned ice cream treats, and you don’t eat, period. The only thing on the menu tonight is your naive little ass. They told you we’d be watching movies… do you see a TV in here?”

Surprisingly, that was what shut me up. There could have been an explanation… Puddy could be borrowing or renting one. Hell, she could have bought one without blinking… but wouldn’t it be here already?

I stood up slowly.

“I’m not saying I believe you…” I said.

“Of course you don’t,” Barley said, a little sadly… almost compassionately. She set the bottle down by the bed, stood, and walked over towards the door.

“But I don’t think I should be here until I know what’s what,” I said. “Thanks for telling me, anyway.”

She closed the door, and pushed the knob in to lock it.

“I’m sorry, Mack,” she said, not turning around… and she did sound sorry. “I’m not giving up my shot. Maybe you’ll forgive me. Maybe this’ll even be what makes you love me. I just know that for seventeen years, everything has been about Amaranth… and this time, it’s going to be about me.”

She turned around slowly, and I could see big, bright tears running down her cheeks.

“I don’t want to hurt you,” I said, taking a step forward.

“You won’t,” Barley said. She cupped her hands beneath her breasts, lifting them upwards. “You’re too afraid of pretty girls to hurt me.” She took a step closer. “I’m not as pretty as your precious fucking Amaranth, but I’m a nymph, and that means I’m pretty damned beautiful, anyway.”

She looked pretty damned scary at the moment, with silent tears streaming down her face and a perfectly fixed yet completely wild look on her face. I had a feeling I was looking at seventeen years of frustration, channeled into a single moment.

She kept coming closer, and I started walking backwards, until I ran into the foot of one of the beds.

“You’ll thank me when Puddy’s having a go at you,” Barley said, grabbing the back of my head and pushing her lips against me, with horrible roughness. “She’s not big on foreplay, but I’ll be gentle. I’ll get you ready.”

“Don’t…” I said. It was the only word I had in me. I cringed even as I said it, and Barley gave me a look of utter contempt before shoving me backwards and climbing on top of me. My legs were hanging off the end of the bed. Her weight was on top of me, the most real thing I had ever felt. Nothing stopped me from lifting her off, shoving her aside… but I was frozen like a deer in a headlamp… like, what was the expression Celia had used? Like a stunned bird about to be swallowed.

Nymphs did not rape people. That hadn’t been something Amaranth had told me, but it seemed to me like something that must be intrinsically true, anyway. This couldn’t be happening. I wanted to close my eyes. I had to settle for closing my mind.

Barley was still talking, in between pressing her mouth against mine. My shirt was off. My bra was gone. Her mouth was on my breasts. She was still talking. It could have been Pax. It could have been Yokano. It could have been High Draconian, for all that I could make out any of it.

The worst of it was, I could feel the fire trying to get out. I couldn’t let that happen. Whatever else might transpire, I couldn’t let myself have another accident. I held it in.

She had my jeans unsnapped and the zipper down.

The first real sound I heard was the door banging against the wall. Puddy and Mariel stood in the doorway. Puddy had a thin green box in her hand.

“Get the hell off of her!” Puddy yelled. Barley looked up, uncomprehending.

“This is my shot,” she said. There was a sound of urgency in her voice. I think her mind was about as gone as mine. “This is my shot.”

Puddy was across the room in a flash, and she grabbed Barley one-handed by her hair and yanked. The nymph was off of me like a rock from a catapult.

“You aren’t this strong,” Barley said.

“The hell I’m not,” Puddy said, half-tossing, half-shoving her in the direction of the door. “Get the fuck out of here!”

“It’s my room, bitch!” Barley yelled.

“Get out!” Puddy bellowed. Barley kind of blinked, and then turned and darted out the door. I lay there, beyond stunned.

“Fuckin’ nymphs, Mack,” Puddy said, taking hold of my arm and pulling me up off the bed. “I told you, they get weird fucking ideas. Everything’s about sex to them, you know? I tell her that tonight we should do something that includes you, and what does she try and pull?” While Puddy talked, Mariel handed me my shirt and bra, which I accepted and put on without comment, remembering to re-fasten my jeans, too. “Plus, I told her to stay out of my wine… you look fucking sick, Mack. Are you okay? She didn’t do anything to you before I got here, did she?”

“She talked,” I said numbly. “Why… why are we ordering pizza if you and I don’t eat?”

Puddy gave a little barking laugh.

“Haven’t you seen this little slut eat?” she said, putting an arm around Mariel. “She’ll put away whatever we order, and anyway, it’s like… what do you call it? Set dressing. It wouldn’t be a girls’ night without pizza, would it?”

That put me a little bit closer to my ease, as that had been more-or-less exactly what I had thought, though Puddy put it into words better. But still…

“What about the movies?” I said. “None of us have a TV.”

“I thought… I thought… maybe we could borrow one?” Mariel squeaked. “But I asked around and… couldn’t… find one?”

Mariel didn’t sound certain about a lot of things, outside of peoples’ appearances, but she was a little too quick to speak up and too hesitant to finish her thoughts there.

“I don’t know if I can believe you,” I told Puddy, tearfully.

“Mack… I’m your friend,” Puddy said.

“I don’t know if I can believe that!” I cried.

“Mack, you’re smart, so think about this. I’m not so hard up I have to force myself on people who don’t want it,” Puddy said.

“What about lunch?” I asked.

“What do you mean?” Puddy asked. She had a horrified look on her face, but I thought it was a little forced. “It was… it was just touching, Mack.” Why did having somebody agree with me on that score make me feel sick? “Between friends. I wanted to make you feel good.”

“I need… I just need to get out,” I said.

“But, it won’t be a party without you,” Puddy said. She held up the box in her hands. “I even… well, I got you something. Because we’re friends.”

When I didn’t take the box, she lifted off the lid, revealing a beautifully tooled leather sheath the perfect size for my knife. There was a belt coiled alongside it.

“Nice, huh?” Puddy said, thrusting it towards me. “I picked it up that night I spent in town…”

“But… but… that was our night!” piped up Mariel. “You said she didn’t exist… you said it was all for me.” She gasped, and then squealed, “You made me wait outside at that leather shop! I thought you were buying me that bag I’d been looking at!”

The look Puddy gave Mariel could have sent her back to the healing center all by itself. That’s what made up my mind.

“I’m going,” I said, heading towards the open door. I turned around when I got to it, and said, “Mariel,” but stopped. I had been about to say, “I hope you are, too,” but this was her room… and I didn’t fancy her chances of kicking Puddy out, without getting the R.A. involved, and that probably wouldn’t be good for anybody. Things looked bad, but I still didn’t really know the score. “Take care,” I finally said.

“Well, take this, anyway,” Puddy said, pushing the box with the belt and sheath in it into my hands. I couldn’t really say no. There was a chance I was over-reacting, due to what could have been Barley’s drunken rantings… and if that was the case, I was already being rude.

Plus, I had basic knife on Wednesday, and I hadn’t managed to come up with anything else to use as a sheath. Good reasons… not just good. Real ones. Practical ones.

“Thanks,” I said, quietly.

We all stood there, a little awkwardly, for a few seconds, and then Puddy said, “I’m still your friend.” She sounded hurt.

I wanted to cry. What was I thinking?

“I know,” I said, holding back a sob.

“I only want to help you,” she said, and I burst into tears. Unable to face her, and unable to do anything else, I ran down the hall to our room, and shut myself inside it.

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5 Responses to “35: Girls’ Night”

  1. pedestrian says:

    The havoc we inflict when we try to do good TO others.

    If we were honest with ourselves the correct preposition would be “good FOR others”.

    Current score: 0
  2. Psi-Ko says:

    So, Mack doesn’t fight people off, but she fights the fire that would fight them off for her.

    So she’s too busy fighting the thing that would fight attackers off to fight off her attackers.

    Current score: 1
    • zeel says:

      Basically. She thinks about herself as being so inherently evil, that she can’t even bring herself to lash out while she is being raped. Because, obviously (in her mind), even a rapist is better than a demon.

      Current score: 4
  3. Chris in California says:

    The folks that raised Mackensie sure fucked up her mind.

    Current score: 4
    • Rendia says:

      Yeah, my mom was like that. Not as angry, but I still wound up pretty much like Mack for a while.

      Current score: 2