85 Lucan spreads poison in the morning
The air is humid today and grey clouds are visible far across the Atlantic, but here on the shore the sun still beats down. I cross the footbridge to my island and settle down with my back to the trunk of my tree. The sunlight dapples my arms through the foliage above, which stirs in a faint breeze. No one is around. I breathe in and let my eyes close.
Picturing Shigem, I feel my sight dragged sideways and very slightly up, to his apartment on First Avenue ... and there you lie, Shigem, half-awake beside a sleeping Kim. It's clear why you went heavy on the glamour make-up last night in the strobe-lights of Paradise, as your stress at being targeted by Lucan has made your face erupt more than ever now, resembling what I saw in your memories of your adolescence and early twenties. Your phone vibrates on the floor. You reach down, grab the phone, inspect it, frown, roll yourself out of bed, dart to the doorway, pull the door shut and answer in the next room, "Hallo?"
You stop dead. "Oh... Hi."
"Thought you'd wanna know Jaymi and Alaia are spying on you, with his sight... Jaymi paid Kim, to get his permission to spy on you. Maybe Kim wants power over you..."
"Lucan—that's not true."
"'Oh look—we get a mint!'" he simpers, mimicking your voice. "And you two scamper up and curtsey like bitches and you take a mint and run away down the escalator, giggling cuntily: 'My god, I think we've just met the Mint Man! Tee-hee-hee!...'" Hearing this, you freeze in horror. "You better watch out, petal—you got a man there who makes deals behind your back, spills out the family secrets... Still, better to make deals than wax models. Mm-hm. Have a nice day, Shigem, it may be your last." The line goes dead.
You sink to a chair. "OK, be rational," you think. "Lucan's spreading shit here, trying to poison me against Kim and Jaymi. Kim would never make a spying deal like that. But how did Lucan know the dream with the Mint Man? Kim's the only person I've told that to..."
You rise, return to bed and drift back towards a fitful sleep.
As Shigem's sleep arrives, I pull myself from inside him and hover just above the bed, concerned at Lucan's call myself. Before I can puzzle through its implications, however, Kim stirs and wakes up, nudging me into a shared tune-in to the pair of them. He gazes at Shigem's face beside him on the pillow, then enwraps him in his arms, without waking him. They lie there for a few minutes in peace, until Shigem convulses in Kim's embrace, yelps, ejaculates voluminously and slants awake into confusion. He stares at Kim, discombobulated in close-up. "I dreamed you were holding me," he blinks.
"I am," laughs Kim, and despite the rather surface-level nature of a shared tune-in, one internal thought of Kim's alone is so powerful that I catch it in any case when it leaps up inside him: I would kill someone, to protect him.
"Oh god... You know, this reminds me, I once sneezed and came at the same time."
"Can you recommend it?" asks Kim.
"Yes! It was beautiful. But it was also exhausting—to be so pent-up, then suddenly so un-pent." He looks around the bedroom, whose objects are mostly in boxes. "I'm feeling fresher than I expected," he yawns, "considering last night."
The sun streams in through the windows. Shigem brushes his hair out of his face, then back in front of it again. "I'd like to be a bird in a cage," he muses, stretching luxuriously.
Kim reflects. "Would you? In a cage?"
Shigem squirms around to face Kim, buries his face against him, and qualifies this: "Well, I mean a golden cage. With the door always open, of course."
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THE IMAGINATION THIEF (mini-chapters 1-98)Fantasy
"The Imagination Thief" by Rohan Quine is about a web of secrets, triggered by the stealing and copying of people's imaginations and memories. It's about the magic that can be conjured up by images of people, in imagination or on film; the split bet...