by Turner Morgan


OOK THERE, BELOW US. The city lies empty, naked, crushed under the light of the dead stars. Some force has smothered the once bright lights of its glory, the waving beacons of its shopping districts, the shouting neon of its hotels, the vibrant pulse of its streetlamps. The horizon is etched with a pale line of light, but the corpse itself is completely dark.

Look: this club. It is in the heart of the darkened city. It is filled with the last few people who remain in it: the parasites draining life from the dead. those too foolish or too stupid to escape. The beat throbs like a living thing under the edges of perception, like a living thing trapped in a cage of black walls, grease paint, and cigarette smoke. There are 27 people here, as there always are. Now, close your eyes and feel. There are a few flickering embers of vibrancy left in the place. Here is a frisson of black delight at an exposed length of pale flesh, a forearm crossed like a pale hyphen over dark clothing. That is a glimmer of lust in the eyes of a man who would be described as almost Byronic, in an era that has passed long before the death of the city trapped little things in its greater deadness, like flies mating in amber. You already know all of this story.

Open up again, lover, and look. In the center of the dancefloor, a light swings dizzily, out of synchronization with the beat, the pulse rates of the people, and anything else you might imagine as being possessed of a rhythm. The light shifts from red through purple to blue, and then back again. The long hair of the man dancing alone on the floor catches this light and distills it within a dark wave of itself. His body moves to the sound of the music, almost as though it were being moved by that music as a puppet. His chest heaves in perfect 4/4 time. His strong legs seem to not really be touching the floor; you look a moment to see if he is actually hanging from the ceiling in a harness.


The golden knotwork of Alexander's ring catches in his hair, pulling a few random flecks of light with it as it tugs loose. His hips shift to the beat. His body has a faint sheen of sweat on it. He tugs his bangs back out of his face and tucks them behind his ear. A droplet comes free, and seems to hang in space at several locations along an arc of space, caught momentarily by the blinking of the spotlight. Alexander breaks free of the trance that the music had enacted and walks towards you.

His eyes are green, and stand out brightly against the paleness of his flesh as he looks at you. He walks past you to me.

"Evening, Hiro."

"Evening, Lex." I smile at him, my white hair falling away from my face as I turn to look at him. "How're you?"

You can see his interest as I hold out an empty hand to him. He takes it in his own, then kneels and kisses it. "I'm... I'm ready, m'lord, he whispers. Feel the heartbeat in his throat, so delicate, so smooth... he is perfect.I must have him, mustn't I?

My hand reaches up and strokes his thick black hair, my fingers entwining with the tangled damp locks. "Ready for what I promised you? It's a very long journey to take, my beloved boy." I smile down at him. Yes, I'm as imperious as ever, I know.

He bends his head up, kissing my hand again, and then looks in my eyes. "I am ready, I know I am. I will not fail you."

"I know you don't wish to fail... you know the price of failure, after all." Oh, I suppose it's a slightly cruel edge that my smile takes now. "I don't think that you will fail me though... and I know that you can do what need must be done. Shall we go?"

He stands wordless and disappears into the crowd, then returns, still silent, but every ounce of his body ready to go.

You don't wish to touch him? Very well. I'll take both of his hands myself, then. "Follow." We three leave the nightclub, arms linked, looking more intimate than one would ordinarily expect of two Japanese and an American, especially in the rotting corpse of Tokyo.

[continued next page]