Thursday, July 28, 2011

Steve Englehart

(This is an excerpt from Steve's most recent novel The Plain Man. He will be reading and signing at the store on Wednesday, August 3rd, at 7:30pm.)

           The next thing she knew, she was standing on the desert plain beside Scorpio Rose. Twenty feet away, Max and Diana were lying beside a huge boulder. The two women were in shadow, but Pam stepped back instinctively.
            “They cannot see us,” said Scorpio Rose.
            In truth, Pam could hardly see herself. She seemed to be, if not a ghost, then something made of fluid light, now visible, now not visible. And Rosa, though clearly more substantial, was just as hard for her to see.
            “I am here physically,” said the gypsy witch. “But Diana cannot pick me out. You are here only as a shade — an astral, Max would say — and neither one of them can see you. Let me repeat: Max cannot see you.”
            “Where’s my body?” Pam asked, surprisingly calmly. The unfamiliar still felt familiar.
            “See for yourself,” Rosa said. And Pam did. Without even turning her head, she looked back at the campsite, at least a mile away. She saw the site clearly, with her unmoving body sprawled in the dust.
            “In the future, you will want to lie down before flying,” the witch said.
            “Am I hurt, there?” Pam asked.
            “A few bruises, no doubt.”
            “I didn’t know I could do this,” Pam said, staring at her ghostly hand.
            “No, but I did,” the witch said placidly. “Now look.” She raised her own hand and pointed with a long, slender finger at Max and Diana. He was now on top, pounding between Diana’s wide-spread legs.
            Pam felt the blood rise in her face, even though her blood and her face were astral. “Why are you showing me this?” she demanded raggedly.
            “Because you need to see it,” answered Scorpio Rose. She was looking hard at Pam, but Pam was looking harder at her boyfriend. She could tell, because she knew him so intimately now, that Max was a little withdrawn over there. But only a little. He had to be into it, by the nature of the thing. More than Pam liked.
            Connecting with Humanity. Living our animal nature, Pam thought. And then Fuck Humanity!
            But she realized Rosa was still talking to her. “I know what Max tells you, because all masters tell their apprentices the same thing. He says to apply your logic to your experience, so as never to take anything on faith, no matter how famous the master may be who tells it to you. But that is not just advice for times when you are calmly meditating. You need to apply logic even when your emotions are raging — especially then. Until you can do that, you can never be a master.”
            You can say that!” Pam snapped, not even bothering to hide her displeasure. “But I’m not like you.”
            “Oh yes, Pamela — you are.” Rosa fluttered a hand. “Despite my affliction, we are both women. All women know that there are two worlds, that of the God and that of the Goddess. All women are by nature magick, and can channel their magick more easily than can a man.”
            “All women are individuals. Especially that one over there.” Diana was beginning to make little moans of rhythmic pleasure that really grated on Pam’s ears.
            “She channels it downward; thus, she is a threat to you. But some channel it upward, and among those are the ones you must truly fear, for Max’s sake as well as your own.”
            “Like Aleksandra?” Pam asked.
            “Like Aleksandra.”
            Pam stiffened, suddenly aware again that she was a disembodied spirit standing open to the universe. Watching her lover screw another woman. Just as he’d screwed Aleksandra twenty-nine years ago, when he was five years younger. Despite herself, Pam was beginning to see a larger dimension to her situation, like the vast, dimly-lit darkness surrounding them, the two women who knew they were magick. Pi…
            “I have met Aleksandra,” said Scorpio Rose, quietly.
            Pam was brought back to earth. “You have?”
            “Yes. It was in the fall of 1963, when she was 14 — as the nights were growing longer…”

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