Leg in... no. Leg out... no. Leg back in - maybe if I chopped it off... that would show it, at least until I died from shock or blood loss.
Groaning, I threw the sheets off of me and sat up, hugging my pillow in complete frustration. I'd stripped all the way down to my underwear, and it was still too friggin' muggy and humid to fall asleep. May was ebbing into June on a sadistic wave of humidity, and it was somehow even worse out in the countryside than it had been in the city.
My Cocker spaniel, Bob, lay splayed on his back in his corner of the bedroom, snoozing away happily with his tongue lolling out as he carelessly flashed me and anyone who may have been peering into my bedroom window. Casting a resentful glance at him, I plodded out to the kitchen to whip open the freezer, standing in front of it for a minute before slamming it shut and slumping against it with a helpless groan. I was too tall to fit in the stupid thing and hibernate for the summer, and dumping out the entire ice bin on my mattress seemed like a stupid idea.
Swearing under my breath, I slipped on a pair of shorts and some sandals, slipping outside into the humid May night and hoping a nice dip in the lake uphill would cool me down enough. The rattling screeches of the cicadas made my head throb horribly as I made my way across my farm, but I held my head up proudly as I resisted the urge to rip my brain out and chuck it at them. It would certainly solve many of my problems, but it seemed a bit too extreme all the same.
Instead, I focused all of my thoughts into a singular point of rage, a constant mantra of Fuck you directed solely at the existence of summer. If I couldn't sleep through it or will it away, maybe I could hurt its feelings without feeling bad about it later.
As I passed the stairs leading up to the hot springs and the mine, I stopped, feeling as though something strange was pulling me back. Maybe some sort of tractor beam, a spear through my abdomen that I'd somehow missed as a yellow-clad Hell ninja reeled me in - whatever it was, my feet led me up the stairs and over to the waterfall gushing away in front of the mine. I grinned, cocking my head to the side as I contemplated my options. It looked so cold and inviting...
A loud splash smacked through the stillness of the horribly warm night air, echoing with the sound of my cannonball into the river that ran past my farm. I paddled around happily, backstroking beneath the waterfall before pulling myself up and clasping my hands in mock prayer beneath the icy torrent.
"Harvest Goddess," I began mouth twisting up into a wry smile, "please turn off this stupid heat, because I'd really like to sleep."
The water roared in my ears. Maybe it was the best response I'd be able to get. Sighing, I bent down to grab the sandal that had flown off when I'd jumped in...
...It was hovering.
My sandal was hovering. My sandal was hovering up the goddamn waterfall like aliens were trying to abduct it. I watched, gaping, as it vanished under the wall of clear water and mist pouring down from the lake above.
Moments later, it came hurtling back full-speed at my face. I cried out as the strap smacked me in the nose, falling back onto my butt with a loud splash as a beautiful, angry voice slurred, "CHEAP BASTARD."
My jaw dropped as I saw the waterfall begin to glow with a green light, a blinding form materializing within. Shielding my eyes, I whimpered, staring at the woman who hovered - hovered! - before me. She was tall, slender, and gorgeous - alabaster skin, much of it exposed by her rumpled turquoise halter top and short white skirt that gave way to an endless expanse of leg. She had brilliant, shining emerald-green hair tied back in a loose, sloppy braid, and her face looked like a beautiful Renaissance painting, from the full lips to the high cheekbones.
She was like a goddess...
...Like the Harvest Goddess...
I gurgled incoherently for a few moments, struggling to find the appropriate words for the gorgeous, dangerous deity before me.
"What the fuck?"
Those weren't the words I was hoping for.
The goddess squinted at me, leaning forward - I noticed the powerful smell of tequila, vomit, and pot rolling off her in waves, and she seemed to be having trouble focusing.
"NO. The ffffuck's the matter... with you?" she snapped, flicking my nose with a swipe of her finger. Straightening up and holding her head, she groaned, waving off my panicked stammering. "Okay, okay... I get it, kid, I dun'need yer lectures. I'm three thousand damn... centuries old now, and you're not, ssso... I can handle it. Okay? Hhhhandle. Hhhhannnndle..." She giggled. "You ever notice how weird that word sounds? Hhhhandle. But... but... don't tell my boss or anything. Yeah. Cause I'll have to fuck you up."
She whipped out a switchblade and pointed it at my chest. "An' I don't wanna fuck you up. Yer... kinda... yer kinda hot. You seein' anyone?Damn, son, everyone's so ffffucking hot tonight, what is this?"
That was exactly what I wanted to know. Had I not swallowed my tongue, I would've asked her.
"Look, look, I'm... ssssorryyyy," she hissed, patting me on the head. "You're okay. Heheheh, I can totes see yer nipples, dude." She groaned and rubbed her temple. "I'm kinda... yknow, busy and shhhhhit, so if you wanna get some wishhhhin', I mean... yeah, tomorrow's good. So come back tomorrow! Make a wish! Or I'll... ffffuck you up. Okay?" The switchblade was aimed my way again. "Lates, man."
I sat in the water, trembling, as she popped out of view. The smell of booze and weed still hung heavy in the air. My eyes were wide, my breathing labored and ragged. I wasn't sure if the water around me was suddenly a few degrees warmer, or if it was just my imagination. I wasn't sure if any of this had just been my imagination.
"I just wanted some sleep," I finally whimpered, collecting my sandals and stumbling clumsily back to the farm as my mind tried to work out just what in the hell had happened. Maybe I was delusional from lack of sleep. Maybe I was asleep, and it was some deranged, vibrant nightmare brought on by taste-testing my friend Karen's entries for the Cooking Festival. Maybe this was the abyss gazing back into me. No matter what it was, I wasn't chancing being fucked up by a malevolent deity with a blade. I would see her tomorrow, even if I wet myself the whole way there.
I lay curled up in a ball on top of my mattress for the rest of the night, teeth chattering, body trembling violently.
I still wasn't cold.
I bolted upright, rubbing my eyes and looking around as the blurred blobs around me slowly focused into actual objects. A faint sound still hung in my ears that I couldn't quite place - an explosion? A shout? A riot?
A sparkling glint near my bedroom door caught my eye, and I quickly shooed Bob away from it as I plodded over, nudging the broken glass gingerly with my foot:
The remains of an empty tequila bottle, crowded around a rolled and sealed letter.