For my birthday this year, my heart… my dearest heart… Gifted me with a story of the Realm and I felt that it was wonderful, beautiful, and needed to be shared for the truths within it…
And for those truths, I thank him for reminding me of them…
Winter Always Turns to Spring
By James, The Queen’s Heart
Cari sat in the corner of her bed, tucked in the corner of her room, her legs hugged up to her breasts. It was really a rather nice room: the brass bed had a soft mattress and a warm quilt atop it, the hardwood floor was mostly covered by a plush rug, and there was an inviting wooden rocker in the corner opposite the bed. A matching cherry desk, dresser, and armoire rounded out the pleasant room, which was festooned with pillows.
Yet, for as agreeable as the room seemed at first glance, there was something . . . off about the place. All of the colors in the room, for as nicely appointed as it was, were pale—not even pastel, just pale and almost washed out. They were, primarily tans and dusky blues, none of them vivid in any way, and there wasn’t a red, purple, yellow, green, or even orange to be seen among them. There were no windows in the room, and no live plants, and, while it took a moment to notice, there wasn’t a mirror to be found. The soft music that played in the room, while nice enough, seemed bland and vacuous. And Cari hadn’t found a way to turn it off.
The young woman herself also seemed quite fine on the surface, but there was more than the lackadaisical, almost vacant expression on her face to let observant visitors sense a problem. The auburn highlights in her chestnut hair were gone, and her long locks seemed generally drab, both in color and texture, as if it had been washed far too many times. They didn’t even curl any more. Her skin was pale, and a bit pasty, her eyes lacked shine, her clothes, while nice enough, didn’t seem like the simple yet complimentary outfits she usually wore, the ones that made it evident that she was normally so proud of her body.
Last, but certainly not least, her horns seemed to be shrinking, her tail seemed limp and lifeless, and the robust red color that one would expect in both of them was absent, as if it was slowly draining away.
Yes, Cari was a succubi . . . or at least she was when she arrived in South Prudehome, New Hampshire. Now, she was no longer sure who or what she was, but she cursed the day she had ever left the Realm.
At first, her journey had been wonderful: she had loved her tour along the northern shore of Lake Ontario and along the St. Lawrence Seaway, loved the sights and loved many of the people she had met. She had loved one daring couple in Montreal in multiple positions over multiple days, and she was pretty sure she had taught that woman and man a whole new meaning to the word “multilingue” (a word which sounded—and felt—much better in French).
She had wandered south of the border as autumn took hold, following the peak colors of the changing foliage for quite a while, enjoying women and men of all sizes and descriptions along the way. One savvy, fit, and nicely curved investment banker who lived near Lake Champlain taught the young succubi moves that even she had not imagined.
She fell behind the peak foliage during the ensuing three days, which she spent staring at the ceiling of the banker’s bedroom, stroking her hair and smiling, broadly.
The blazing colors gone from the trees—and her tail-self, Livvy, itching for some different experiences—Cari went to a library outside of Montpelier for inspiration. That was what led her to South Prudehome.
There had been no spa, no lovely resort for pleasure-seekers. What would have led someone to plant such an elaborate false announcement in a guide book, with a color photo spread and everything? Still, she had hoped to make the best of it, making sure she was dressed a bit more modestly than usual, and hoping to do a day or two of antiquing; she could make things up to Livvy by getting to Greenwich Village in time for the Halloween Parade.
All of that seemed like a lifetime ago as Cari hugged her own legs more tightly, shivering a bit on the corner of the bed. She would weep, but she was no longer able to squeeze out tears. She would sob, but her throat wouldn’t make a sound. Every day, there seemed to be a little less of her. The only thing there seemed to be more of was the regret.
She had tried to make the most of her visit to South Prudehome, despite the lack of a pleasure spa, despite the fact that the only available motel seemed a bit small and drab. She went to shops and cafés, even to a theater performance that night, mostly hoping to meet folks, because the greatest pleasure, as she had learned in the Realm, was pleasure people shared with one another, often in the simplest ways. But it was so incredibly difficult to strike up a conversation—even to talk about the weather—with anybody she met. Nobody would shake her hand, and she found her body aching for skin-to-skin contact.
And she realized that, the more time she spent in the village, the more uneasy she felt.
By the time she had finished a solitary, flavorless breakfast the next morning, after a fitful night of not-quite-sleep, she had decided that it was time to go. Livvy was positive she could drive if Cari didn’t feel up to it, and they could at least get a few hours down the road and get the hell out of this place. Even Albany would be more fun than this place.
Unfortunately, the car wouldn’t start. Cari was not without skills when it came to automotive mechanics, but she looked over the vehicle for a good two hours and found nothing. It was past lunchtime, however illusory that might be, when the tow truck finally came and took her car to the local garage, muttering something about “probably the electricals.”
Returning to the motel, Cari found little surprise at the news she was extending her stay. As “a day or two” stretched into a week with the same bland food, the same sullen, standoffish people, and the same lack of contact were taking their toll on her. The feeling of general dis-ease took disruptive root in her dreams, then in her quiet moments during the day, the voices plain and insistent: “You are a vile, disgusting creature, using lusts to steal from God-fearing human beings.”
By this time, she could not focus her mind well enough to bampf herself out of there, or even to get a message back home. Succubi of the Realm got strength from the pleasure of others, and, as the car repairs slipped into their third week, this succubi knew she needed to find someone, somehow, to provide some physical contact, or at least some intense flirting. She made the most of her hair, found a silky green blouse that made the most of her cleavage, a tight, brown leather skirt that came to about mid-thigh, and matching c-f-m heals. Normally, such shoes did not bother her in the least—she was bred to wear them, after all—but now, after just a quarter-mile walk, her arches were complaining rather loudly to her. That, combined with the persistent whisper in her mind, gave her a dull ache right behind her eyes. She had to screw a smile onto her face, one that had come to her without a thought every day of her life.
Still it was to no avail. No one would even look her in the eye, much less flirt. People seemed to be conversing nicely with one another until she would come close, and then they became sullen; the chill in the air was almost palpable. She turned the corner, and saw a young man, just getting out of his car. Most of the village seemed to be heading this direction, but she didn’t have the wits about her at this point to ask herself why. She willed a little blast of pheromones to catch the breeze wafting in his direction, and turned on her full succubi seductiveness. Cari could almost taste her target as her eyes took on a special gleam, her curves were ever-so-much-more-so, and her lips seemed irresistibly tasty. She looked at him and husked, “Hello.”
He stared back, nonplussed, and then stepped further back, a look of growing revulsion on his face, pointing at her and finally shouting “No!”
A touch just behind her hairline confirmed to her that her red horns had appeared, and she could feel her tail swishing behind her. This should not have been a problem; she should have been every bit as seductive to him, maybe even more, and nobody else should have been able to see any of it unless she allowed.
The trouble was, her succubish attributes had revealed themselves without her willing it to be so.
The trouble was, she was not attractive to her target male. She had no scales, claws, fur, or hooves as human legends might suggest, but, somehow, he found her to be repulsive.
The trouble was, everybody there could see her for what she was, even though she willed them not to.
There were screams and shouts—angry shouts—from the crowd around them, and a stern-looking man, with no compassion in his face, dressed in the ceremonial vestments of New England clergy, pushed toward them, shouting, “Get away from here, foul, damned demon-whore!”
Cari looked up, shocked to see she was at the church steps.
Then she fell back, pelted by clumps of dirt and a few rocks. The crowd, the good, Christian congregants, were beginning to stone her.
Someone stepped between them. Cari couldn’t tell whether it was a man or a woman; every time she thought she knew, her rescuer’s stance shifted, or there was a new vocal intonation, and her opinion was reversed.
“Friends! Neighbors!” the stranger said in a commanding tone that still almost purred, “Yes, there is something clearly wrong with this girl, but we are civilized people. I will take her to my clinic, keep her safely away from the populace, and we will see what needs to be done about her.”
Before she knew, she was in the stranger’s car, feeling some relief, but somehow also shaking from her core. Soon she was in the room where, little known to her, she was going to spend the winter . . . but she was coming to realize that this was no rescue at all.
“You may call me Dale,” he . . . umm, she . . . umm, the stranger snapped, with more of a bark than a purr, while tossing Cari onto the bed. “You will be staying here, probably for the rest of your existence . . . and I would prefer that you not enjoy it.
“I have been waiting for ages to find a way to get one of your kind in my power. Your Queen has helped you all develop a remarkable resistance to most direct attacks. But to be able to use pleasure, and your desire—perhaps it is a need—to share pleasure, against you, not by direct attack but by using these mortal creatures you so love to pleasure . . . it has almost made the long wait worth it.
“And yes, the entire village has been treated with the sort of subliminal whispers you have heard. I have been doing it for many years. But the fact that they were so uptight to begin with, so ready to mistrust outsiders, made it easier.
“Now, I will be happy to watch you fade away. The shower is in there. You may as well clean yourself up.” And the door slammed shut behind Cari’s captor. When she stepped out of the shower, her outfit was gone, replaced by gray sweatpants and a gray sweatshirt.
These, along with white socks, would be her uniform for the winter. Every day, she was fed rather bland gruel and a rather constant diet of debasing subliminals. Because there were no windows to let in natural light, because the room lights never went out (even when Cari tried to break them), and because the feeding times were constantly shifting, she had lost all sense of time or dates. From time to time—an odd expression when one has lost all sense of it—she was visited by Dale, who continued to tell her how much he enjoyed watching the destruction of a succubi, and who also, on occasion, suggested that she could escape this fate by giving him information which would help lure her sisters and brothers into his trap instead.
Cari declined those offers.
That was where her strength ended, however. There were no mirrors in the room; mirrors were often used by her kind to communicate with their tail selves. She had not even heard Livvy’s voice since a week or so after she was brought here. She became convinced that her tail-self had gone on without her. Was that possible? Was that intuition? Was it another twisting of her mind by the subliminals? All she was sure of was, as far as she was concerned, Livvy was not there.
Cari tried to remain true to herself, to her training, to her loyalty to her sisters and her brothers and her Queen. But she was starving, psychically and emotionally; she was falling apart; she had no more hope.
She sat in the corner of her bed, tucked in the corner of her room, her legs hugged up to her breasts, so many days through this long winter.
She didn’t know, yet, that the seasons were changing.
There was a knock on Cari’s door.
She coughed in response.
A graying man wearing slacks, a sweater, and a clerical collar stepped into the room. He had a kind smile, but Cari still recoiled more. He began to speak as he almost closed the door behind himself, pausing to take a roll of tape from his satchel and cover the latch: “That is just in case somebody decides to lock me in with you, though I doubt they want to do that. And I apologize for not waiting for a more definitive invitation from you, but it is very important that we meet while your . . . umm, host, shall we say? . . . is off at the state health commissioner’s office. I had to call in a few favors for that, by the way.”
The beleaguered succubi still did not open up, but glared at his collar. Finally, she barely croaked out, “Have you come to finish killing me for your friends?”
For a half-second, tears almost welled up in his eyes: “They are no friends of mine, I can assure you. As for this”—he fingered the ministerial neckwear for just a moment—“I simply find that, when I wear this into a health facility, the staff lets me go pretty much where I please.
“Now, may I please sit next to you?”
Cari nodded, hesitantly.
He sat, very quietly, extending a hand after several minutes. More minutes passed until she took his hand. Then he whispered, “Some folks call me Baker.” Then, after many more minutes passed with hands held, he wrapped his arms around her and held her.
She felt warmth surge through her body in a way that she almost didn’t believe possible any more. It was almost as if she was able to breathe again. She was still weak, but . . .
. . . She grabbed her visitor’s face and began kissing him deeply. She was amazingly good at this.
It took all of his will to pull her hands away and break the kiss, catching his breath and biting his lower lip as he looked her in the eye and continually stroking her forearms: “Caritas, you . . . I . . . umm, you are extremely attractive, and . . .”
“No, I am hideous right now.”
“No,” he put his hand over her heart, “you are and always have been astonishingly attractive, and I would be happy to give you everything you need in that way, but I am no more immune to the subliminal your host is piping into your room than I am to your charms. If I were to allow us to . . . enjoy each other, I would probably succumb to its influence, and we could both be lost. We need to wait.”
“How did you know?”
“About you, or about Dale? Oh, maybe it doesn’t matter. We have a mutual friend, you and I. She has felt your absence and been pained by it. I felt her pain, and finally got her to tell me what was going on. Then I began making calls.
“As for your host: Dale has a bit of a reputation for wanting to discourage all sorts of love and pleasure. Dale has trouble loving, because it involves trusting, and vulnerability, even among dominants, and so has made an effort to be androgynous—Dale equates that with non-sexuality. When I came across a village whose free wi-fi carried a subliminal carrier wave, it wasn’t hard to find out about the clinic at the edge of town whose owner offered to install the wireless system. Then it was simple to connect the dots. And, since I was trusted as another repressed minister type, it wasn’t difficult at all for me to point out a problem with the wi-fi and arrange for it to be repaired at no cost to the village.”
Cari snuggled up close, and Baker wrapped his arms around her again. Color was starting to return to her. “How did you get in to see me?” she queried.
“Well, it didn’t hurt to have a way to send the boss on a wild goose chase. Then I simply showed up in this attire, insisted that Caritas Etamor was a parishioner of mine and I wanted to visit, and they had little choice.”
“But they must know that I am probably not a member of some church.”
“Yes, but, to admit that, they would have to admit to knowing you are a succubi, and then they would have to admit to what they were up to, and that wouldn’t do at all, now, would it?
“Besides, who is to say you aren’t a member of the Church? As I remember St. Paul and Vulgate Latin, where we find Caritas Etamor—caritas et amor—there we find God. You were named rather wisely.” He kissed her on the forehead: “You are loved by God, Cari.” He kissed each cheek: “Because you are a child of God, and because you love others, no matter how you might do that, I love you.”
The tip of her once-again-bright-red tail ran down the center of his back, and Baker smiled.
He then reached into his satchel and pulled out a red sweater, jeans, and black open-toed pumps. “Our friend gave me these. I know they may not quite be you . . .”
“But they will do for the moment,” Cari smiled.
As she was dressing and he was averting his gaze, one of the staff came in. This was not unexpected; they were being watched on closed circuit, as Cari had been for months.
“Watch this,” Baker said. The staffer came in, somewhat belligerently demanding to know what this minister thought he was doing. Baker stepped up to him and took his hands: “I am so glad you show such deep concern for your patients. You are to be commended for that. And I am sure you are appreciated and loved.”
The burly attendant stepped back, shaking his head as if he was waking from a long sleep. He smiled and left the room.
Baker winked at his new succubi friend: “You see, the power of Dale’s system comes in us trying to respond with the same sort of anger, fear, and pain that this system has been engendering. When we respond with respect, the whole thing can crash down with just a word.
“But it is time to be going.” He offered his arm, which Cari took. On their way to the exit they met several other staff, whom Baker greeted as he had the attendant in Cari’s room, with similar results.
She blinked as they stepped into the sunlight, and took a deep breath of the spring air, reveling in the fragrances on the breeze and realizing the subliminals were gone. She gasped as she felt a long-absent embrace and grinned ear-to-ear: “It’s Livvy!”
Baker squeezed Cari’s hand tightly: “Welcome her back for me.”
Then the air chilled and the sky darkened, as if a sudden storm was blowing in. Dale was standing between the two of them and Baker’s car, managing to look quite menacing. Cari immediately tensed up.
Baker turned—she was amazed he turned his back on her captor—and looked her in the eye: “I can handle this, but so can you. You know the words that will undo him.”
Caritas Etamor drew in her breath and kissed her emancipator, then she let go of him and walked over to her nemesis.
Dale clearly expected her to cower, to lose her nerve, maybe to slap or even seduce the kidnapper. Any of those steps would mean that her foe had won.
Cari, smiling mischievously, took Dale’s hands, leaned in, and whispered, “Even you are loved.” Then she kissed the therapist’s cheek, seconds before Dale drew back from her, screaming. A moment later, all that was left was a cloud of dust.
“Are we going beck to South Prudehome to get my things?” she asked as Baker drove her away.
“No. The subliminals drove them all to that malevolence, but most of them were pre-disposed to those attitudes, or else Dale’s whispers wouldn’t have worked that way. Some people, even some self-professed believers, are amazingly close-minded about acceptable ways to love one another. You will be better off avoiding that place, at least for the time being.”
That night, Livvy was able to locate and open a portal to the Realm, and she and Baker took Cari home. The tail-self gave the ersatz minister a warm, almost rough, kiss, enough so that he needed to step back and regain his balance. “She will be just fine. In two days, it will be May Day, and the festivities here will do her wonders.”
Indeed, in time, Cari regained her confidence and control. Late in the summer, she took Livvy out to an island with nude beaches and a wild nightlife. And her hope was thousands of times more resilient, for she now knew that, no matter how long it lasts, winter always turns to spring.
Baker got back home and put away the clerical gear. When he went over to the fence by his neighbor’s yard, he found the gate open, with a note: “You already gave me my prezzie. There’s leftover cake and Diet Coke on the porch. You’d best get over here and help us finish it.”