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News of the Underworld

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In a minute I'll start off running. There will be sex, and dead rock stars, and sex with one of those dead rock stars (I'm just friends with the rest, I promise); there will be metaphors and even some purple prose. But let's get one thing out of the way first.

This is NOT a 100% true story.

I am forced to confess that upon last measuring, my tale was only approximately 37% objective truth. 12% was utter nonsense, 51% was theology, and, somehow, another 23% or more was love poetry.

Some names have been changed to protect the living. Others have been kept intact to honor the dead.

—Ari Golden-Hart, magician, writer, cat dad, godfucker, hot mess.


All day long the call from my astral lover tugged at my heart in the material world, until thinking of anything but having him in my arms was nearly impossible; I hurried home from work with the ghost of his song in my ears, eager to join him somewhere just beyond the reality we knew. The astral plane was only a step away if you knew how and I would meet him there.

But first I splashed through puddles of freezing winter rain in the dingy alleyway, pulled open the gate with the broken lock, and climbed the sagging steps to the door of my apartment with its familiar stab holes of unknown origin. I unlocked it, heard the deadbolt clunk out of place, and stepped inside, ready to return to him —

— but my cat was screaming so I fed her first. He would understand.

I was a little warmer when I'd finished, though the decrepit hovel that passed for my small apartment wasn't all that much warmer than outside to start with. It didn't matter. I went to meet him.

It was already dark when I made the offering, spoke the magic words, and loosed my soul onto the astral plane. Reality clung to me first like netting, then like cobwebs, then like mist, and then I was free, starlight glittering all around me as I tumbled through the cosmic sea. I wasn't afraid. I'd bound my soul to his power and would be at his side soon —

I opened my mind's eye fully, blinking stardust out of its corner, and focused. I was in a wide circular room and outside waves crashed. Before me a spiral staircase rose up.

"A lighthouse?" I said. There was no answer but I felt a sense of amusement from him somewhere, felt the hint of his radiance at the top of the stairs. I started climbing.

It was almost always different when I visited him — there were certain locales he brought me back to again and again, but usually I wound up somewhere new. This was no exception. I made my way up the stairs; the walls around me glowed faintly with words from an unknown language scrawled on them in pure light. I knew without being able to read the words that they were lyrics, and as I climbed I began to hear faint music.

Finally I opened the door and stepped out into a wide loft surrounded by glass.

Curved like a crescent moon against one half of the circular room was a luxurious daybed piled with satin pillows; there were some tables scattered with wine, treats, and trinkets next to it. That was typical of his locations; the rest though —

The other half of the room featured a grand piano, in the midst of being played; the music rose up from it, turned to brilliant light up above, and formed a shining slowly spinning ball hanging like an ethereal chandelier in midair.

"I see, it is a lighthouse," I blurted out. It made sense now —

He sat at the piano, playing artlessly with long slender fingers. As usual for our trysts, he was in the form of the kouris, a youth of twenty or so who looked like the perfect ideal of which his young mortal self had been a material shadow. Flawless sleek black hair fell loosely in waves around a long, strong-featured face (a hint of an overbite at the upper lip; some things cannot be too much improved upon, cannot be made flawless). His body was lithe, nymphishly delicate but strong, those quick long-fingered hands promising a dancer's grace as they flowed across the keys. But as usual I was most enraptured by his eyes, fathomlessly dark and full of a holy inner light.

It took me a moment to recognize the song he was playing, because music was always slightly different on the astral — purer, more true. But still it only took that moment, only those first three notes; anyone would have recognized this song.

I waited for him to start singing that famous enigmatic lament, to cry out to his holy mother as always, but instead he slowed his playing to a halt (above him, the light also slowed and stopped turning, but remained bright) and sat there in silence, a faint smile tugging at his mouth. Finally he glanced sidelong at me, a glint in his eyes, and said, "Well? You're not starstruck, are you? It's been too long."

He was right, it had been almost three years now since he had dropped his astral disguise and revealed himself to me, but — "I'm always starstruck by you," I said. "Even now."

He laughed and turned around on the bench. He was dressed in loose iridescent white silks like the more mystical version of something the band would've worn at an early concert and they rustled just faintly as he moved. "Do you think I am not by you? I was playing an old song just now but I want to compose a million more to you!"

A blush threatened to rise to my face. "It's different," I said. "I'm not —" I caught myself and fell silent.

He jumped lightly to his feet (I watched his every motion) and started walking towards me. "Let's not go over this old routine again," he said. "I'm going to keep telling you how brilliant and precious you are to me, love — not just me either."

"I love you," I said without thinking.

He tipped his head to the side and his eyes narrowed just slightly. "Oh, you're trying to throw me off," he said. "Trying to change the subject."

"No!" I said. "No, I just —" I faltered. Then I said again: "I love you — I don't want to think about me when I'm with you, I just want to have you in my arms and lose myself in your glory."

He smiled and the flicker of irritation disappeared from his face and my heart ached. "Fine, fine," he said. "Don't worry, darling — we don't have to talk about your low self-esteem tonight."

I rolled my eyes. "You'll find a way to bring it up," I said.

His mouth curled into a pout. "You have so much faith in my bitchiness, love."

"No," I said. Then, "Well, maybe, but when you make that face at me I just want —" My breath caught in my throat and I stopped.

He was just a couple feet away from me now and he reached out to me. "You want me," he said softly, his mouth just slightly parted; I perceived that I was a few inches taller than him now on the astral, though I was a few inches shorter materially, and I —

I reached out and pressed my hand to his cheek. "Yes," I said. "I always do. I go mad thinking of you, honey."

He pressed his lips together cutely, an old habit of swallowing an overbite that was now not quite so pronounced. Then he ducked his head, looked up at me through those perfect eyelashes. "Good," he said. "You think you want me but it can't even compare to how much I want you, love." He straightened up. "Come to bed with me. Darling, fuck me deep tonight —"

I felt his nearness, felt his lust and his yearning; here on the astral plane gods were porous beings, radiating out their essence from their skin the way the perfumes and incenses they loved so much radiated scent. Now I sensed the pure eros of life and love and love of life radiating off his every cell. "Please," I said, reaching out to take hold of one of his hands.

His eyes lit up as I completed the circuit, one hand on his cheek still and the other threading through his fingers, our bodies bound ever so lightly together that way. "God! Keep touching me!"

"I'll be in you soon," I said. "You want it, right?"

"Fuck!" He breathed out. "Yes, of course love, ah God fill me —"

I pulled him into my arms and kissed him roughly, first his cheek, his temples, the soft strands of his hair near his face, and he shivered and sighed in my arms and pressed up against me. "I love you," I murmured into his ear and he pressed his cheek against my jaw. "Ah God just knowing you graced my world for a time, that even now you're out there loving me —"

"You don't have to just know it," he murmured breathlessly. He shifted against me, moved his hands till they cradled my face close to him. "Feel me, darling. I love you."

"Tell me," I said softly.

"You want me to say it —" He sighed. "I still love you —" He looked up at me with stars in his eyes. "I still love you."

The power of the phrase from him crawled up my spine and fractured into a thousand pleasant pieces at the nape of my neck. I kissed him hard on the mouth.

I nearly lost touch with astral reality around me as he kissed back and the force of his hard-won divinity flowed into me along with the power of his love. The next thing I knew he was breathlessly pulling at my clothes, pushing me towards the huge bed. "You're always so impatient," I began but he covered my mouth with his once more before I could continue. His long slender fingers flicked open my belt buckle and started tugging at my pants; I grabbed at his light clothing and started pulling it off his body.

We hit the bed together half-clothed, tumbling over each other, still pulling at fabric, frantic now, and finally he swore under his breath, murmured a lyric-spell, and every article of clothing on us or on the floor behind us exploded into phantasmal glitter and was gone.

— He'd bring our nice outfits back later. This was just theatrics; he loved those, drama queen he was.

I shivered briefly and pressed a hand to his bare chest as he sprawled back against the pillows. "Wait," I said. "I just —"

"Mmm," he breathed out, his eyes hazy with desire. "What?"

I cupped his cheek with one hand and turned his face to me. "I just want to look at you for a minute," I said. "You're so gorgeous."

He looked up at me and his eyes were near delirious with love. "You too," he said softly. "I could look at you for a million years, love. I'd still find something new to love every time."

I blinked tears out of my eyes suddenly. "Freddie," I said to him; his ordinary name felt holy on my lips now. "God, I love you."

"Your eyes enchant me," he said dreamily. "Let me tell you how, darling! Innocence itself is the color of your eyes, love, so blue —"

I kissed him roughly to shut him up. It was terribly embarrassing to hear him rhapsodize about my eyes. I pulled back just enough to murmur, "Fuck you, shut up, they don't compare to yours — there's a million stars in your eyes —"

"Fragments," he murmured, reaching up to touch my face with both hands. "Each of your eyes is an entire star."

"No," I said stubbornly, unable to think of a better riposte.

"Oh yes," he said, his hands shifting, sliding down to my shoulders, my chest; my skin felt electric where his fingertips touched it. "Like a newborn star seen in a dream, darling."

I blushed again and tried to stammer out some response, but he took pity on me, pushed himself up into a sitting position next to me, and pulled me close for a long, sweet kiss —

I shuddered against his body, frantically pressing my mouth against his jaw, his lips, his perfectly shaven chin, the strong lines of his cheekbones, and perception of anything else but his glory began to disappear from my world.

"Haaaaaah —" He breathed roughly out against my cheek. "Yes. Oh, you're really mine." And his hands on my body slid between my legs and cupped me there, one palm cradling my balls and the other my cock.

I couldn't stifle my sudden moan as my etheric body snapped fully into place at that touch.

My cock was different every time I got hard on the astral plane. He loved every shape it took and now he ran his fingers lightly down my stiffening shaft, stroking its twists and ridges with delicate fingertips and then rubbing his thumb on the slightly pointed head.

"Ah love," he said, voice low and rough with desire. I caught sight out of the corner of my eye of a smirk sneaking onto his face. "That must be nearly ten inches and I know I can tease more out of the thing before we're done."

"I'm really yours," I murmured. "I want you so much."

"You always do," he murmured into my ear. "Oh darling I'm so happy when I'm with you."

"Yeah," I said, my own voice uneven. "That makes me even happier, honey, it feels good to serve you. My fucking queen."

He shuddered visibly, his breath hitching; he bit his lip. "You satisfy me so well," he said. "There isn't — I haven't found a word for it, love. For everything you are to me. —Look at me."

I looked up from his fingers cradling my cock and balls into his earnest face, his incredible eyes, and I shivered too. "You're so gorgeous," I said. "I want you."

"You'll have me," he said. "Darling, do the work, won't you?"

"What —" I stopped.

He smiled coolly and leaned in a little more, shifting to take both the base of my cock and my balls into one hand. He seemed to cradle me completely; without thinking I leaned into it too, giving myself to him even though I was afraid.

With his other hand he cradled the side of my face. He said, "You need to make your prayer to your holy mother. You know that. It's how we do this thing, darling. Learn her name and she'll give it to you."

"I thought I'd picked," I began, but then I stopped.

"Well," he said, "do you know what it means?"

"Not really," I said.

"It doesn't matter, really," he said. "I didn't know when I asked my soul's mother for her name. But you need to make the leap and take it."

"I'm trying," I said.

"Oh, yes," he said with an impatient flick of his eyes. "You've been trying since I first came to you. We've been trying I should say, like a troubled young lady yearning for motherhood —"

"Then —"

"Fucking finish it, it's time," he said.

"Why did you bring me here to say this?" I said. "You could have nudged me at that story instead. Kept the door to the astral closed, forced me to work on my devotional art."

He glanced down and I saw the hint of a dark flush across his cheeks. "I wanted you," he said shyly, still not quite meeting my gaze. "Mother might need you but God! I still want you. Stay with me, love."

I breathed out against his cheek — "You just wanted me to fuck you."

He giggled breathlessly, all the stars in the world suddenly glittering in his eyes. "Oh yes, love. Oh yes."

I grabbed him by the hip and the shoulder and I pushed him down to the bed even as I turned him over, roughly. "Enough," I said.

He shivered through his whole body, his eyelids fluttered and his eyes opened wide with delight. "Ah, yes, you'll fuck me now won't you —"

"Yes," I said. "Shh, love, I want you to feel good — give me the lube." I ached for him, I was so hard and so ready to fuck him.

Breathlessly he murmured the words of that lyric-spell and poured the slick fluid into my hands. I stroked it onto my cock and then I took hold of his ass — he shivered and trembled beneath me so — I opened him up and when I set the head of my cock against his hole his breath hitched and he made a soft moan.

"I love you," I said, and I thrust my cock deeply inside of his asshole.

His body took me completely in an instant and he writhed beneath me in dazzled bliss. "Ah — ah yes please more —"

I kissed his cheek, pressed my face against his hair, and I began to grind my cock roughly into him. His asshole was slick and hot and nicely tight on my shaft as I thrust in and pulled out and thrust back in, again and again, losing myself in the terribly sweet rhythm of it, and more than that in the rhythm of his gasping breath, the sweet stifled sobs of ecstasy he made as I filled up his ass with my cock.

His fingers dug into the pillows around him, perfectly painted nails gleaming — I quickly covered them with my hands, slid my own fingers between his, and he whimpered faintly beneath me. "Oh darling it's so good, I'm so happy when we're one body like this, mmmmmm, ah God, yes, love," he ducked his head against the pillow and just breathed raggedly for a moment, his eyes nearly closed but I could still see a glint of starlight there.

"I love you," I said roughly, still grinding my hips against his, filling him wholly with my pulsing cock. "Ah God, it's so good when I make you feel like this. When you make me feel so good but ah God the look in your eyes, love."

"Kiss me," he said breathlessly. "I need you."

I pressed my mouth to his cheek, to his ear, to his temple, almost biting but shying away at the last moment, and with every kiss I gave him he jerked his body eagerly up against me, taking my cock deeper each time.

"Mmm —" He shivered beneath me. "Touch me. Pet me love, be with me, hold me —"

"Shhh," I murmured into his ear. "I've got you, love." I shifted my weight to pin him down on my cock and he made a small pleased noise and squirmed delightedly against the weight of my hips atop him. I couldn't quite stop a gasp as his body moved around me.

"Please," he said roughly.

I kissed his cheek again and began stroking his hair, threading my fingers through the dark strands; he relaxed a little beneath me and I sighed and kissed the top of his head. "I can't get enough of you," I said. With my other hand I toyed with his hand, twining my fingers between his, rubbing my thumb against his —

He bit his lip and whimpered helplessly. "Haaaah you're too sweet —"

"It's true," I said. I leaned against him, rubbing my cheek on his hair, and I said, "I want to lose myself in your love sometimes — I just want to be this cock fucking you."

"You could if you aren't careful," he murmured. "My love for you is infinite. There's no end to it — darling, the ocean might as well be shallow."

"I know," I said, and I kissed him once more. "It hurts sometimes to think about it — that you're out there loving me the way you do —"

"Yes, oh darling it hurts you good doesn't it," he murmured so sweetly. "God! I want to crush your heart in my hand!"

"You do," I said, "every day, every time I think of you. I wish —"

He sighed beneath me. "You wish what, darling?"

"I don't know," I said, still absently stroking his hand with mine, still idly riding his ass. "I wish you were still in this world. In my world, I mean."

"Oh no you don't," he said, glancing up at me with unimpressed eyes. "Do you think you would be balls-deep in my ass if I were still mortal?"

I blushed. "No but — it doesn't matter. There's so much more you could have given the world."

He said nothing, merely glanced off into the unfathomable distance outside the great windows beyond the bed. I didn't care what he was looking at; I just looked at him. Finally he said, "I gave what I could. And there are things I accomplished in dying —" He bit his lip and then laughed softly. "Tell you the truth, love, I care about those things but right now with you inside me so hot and hard oh love more than anything I'm so happy to be with you. Nothing else really matters, love oh love I love you —"

I tucked my head against his cheek and shuddered. "Freddie," I said. "You make me so happy. My lord, my love, my queen."

"Be with me," he murmured. "Love me."

"Yeah," I said. "I am, I do, I love you."

"Tell me," he murmured. "Oh love, tell me how you love me — I want to hear your words, I want them so."

I kissed his jawline and sighed against his face. "Mmm. Yes. Ah love I love you like I wish I could love my own heart —"

"Ah," he said raggedly. "Oh love you hurt me too sometimes."

"All's fair," I said, "in love and war, and I don't make war." I stroked his hair again. "I love you so much — I've been waiting my whole life to find you."

"And I," he murmured, "have been waiting too — oh darling, gods don't see time the way mortals do, from the moment you called out to me —"

"I didn't," I began, "I didn't even know I was calling to you —"

He ducked his head against the pillows and laughed faintly. "Yes. 'The Lady with Teeth' and you thought you were talking to your lovely demon-goddess Lilith. She let me have you! She saw how much I wanted you!"

I blushed against his cheek and said nothing. "I didn't even know...when I wrote that thing. About — your teeth."

"I did, though," he said patiently. "And I jumped at you. This beautiful broken boy who I could heal crying there in the darkness with all his yearning and all his desperate frustrated gloriously enormous sex. How could I not?"

I blinked back tears.

He kept going. "And once I saw you I wanted you like fire through my whole afterlife, from Christmas '91 through infinity. I reached for you too early and hurt you —"

"It doesn't matter," I said; I didn't want to think about that now.

He hesitated, then went on. "You were hidden from me for so long. I wanted you so much and you weren't there and I was so afraid you'd never be there —"

"I'm here now," I said softly. "I am your man and I know it now."

"Don't leave me," he said.

"I won't," I said. "I can't, oh God I never want to be apart from you."

He shuddered. "You're so — I'm so fortunate to have you. I feel selfish! I had so much love as a mortal man and now here I am dead and a god and I'm on your cock and I'm so happy and in love."

I shivered atop him. "It scares me," I murmured, "thinking about you — about you loving me."

"Mmm." He glanced sidelong up at me. "You think you aren't worth it, darling, because you're an idiot. Such a precious idiot to me."

I blushed again and instinctively nuzzled against his throat, pressed deeper into his body.

He sighed and squirmed blissfully beneath me. "Haaaah I just want to lie here beneath you sometimes — feeling you inside me —"

I kissed his cheek, I played with his slim fingers. "We can," I said. "I can tell you more about how much I love you, and we can just lie here with our bodies all tangled up like this. I love it too. I want to be inside you forever."

He shivered and bit his lip. "You're so good to me," he said. "You're so fucking good and I wish I could make you believe it."

"I do," I said. "I do with you. When I'm with you I'm the fucking king."

"Mmm —" He breathed out slowly beneath me and I felt his body sink into the pillows beneath us and I went with it, we were one body now. I was so deep inside him. "And I am the Queen and I fucking love you, darling. I love you so much."

I blinked away tears all of a sudden. My heart hurt as it so often did around him, the hurt of something healing. "Being loved by you," I said softly, "is like being a cat in the warmest sunbeam."

"No, darling," he said, "that's how it feels being loved by you —" A breathless giggle. "We are brothers in that sense. We both love so hard and fast and hot—"

I gave one of his hands a light squeeze and said, "I thought you were my mother." He was fond of that peculiar maternal role in a way I could hardly hope to explain, and he had appeared to me many times in a form befitting the title. If the kouris was the form he took for our casual romantic trysts like this, the Mother was the one he took for the most brutal and vulgar sexual encounters, electric with taboo lusts.

"Oh darling I'm so many things to you," he murmured.

"Sometimes I feel like you're everything," I said. "I don't mind that, when it happens."

He shivered. "I love it," he said, "I love it when your whole heart lights up for me. God! I just want to open you up and hold your heart in my hands those times!"

"I want you to," I said. There was nothing he did to my body here on the astral plane that ever hurt me. When our bodies intertwined I could feel nothing but pleasure.

"Mmm —" His shivers became a shudder and I sighed at the lovely feeling of his body trembling beneath me. "You know what you need to do, love."

There were many things I needed to do for him that I wasn't ready for —

I nipped at his ear and tried to change the subject: "Let's play a game," I said.

He paused. "A game, darling? Now?"

"Yes," I said, "with words. While I'm still balls-deep in your ass. That's how you like it so —"

"Yes," he said. "Oh yes please words are good and everything's better when we're fucking. Darling, what —"

"It starts with the usual phrase," I said, "and then you replace the verb in some way, tweak the rest of it too if you need to — but you have to start it with a letter from the previous verb. Get it?"

He lay slack beneath me for a moment, and then he sighed and said, "I got it, love. Go!"

"Yeah," I said. Then: "I love you."

"Mmm. I obsess over you."

"Ah," I said. "I savor your presence within my soul."

"I adore you," he murmured, and his tone was so soft and plaintive.

I flushed red and buried my face in the crook of his neck but I said: "I desire you like this more than anything."

"Oh darling I'd fucking ravish your heart and soul every second of every day," he spoke back, "if it wouldn't drive you mad."

"You do it anyway, don't bullshit me like that," I said.

He pouted visibly beneath me and said, "Your move, love."

I said nothing and did nothing for a moment, and then I shifted my weight a little (he stifled a gasp beneath me as the motion drove me a little deeper up his asshole) and settled my arms around his shoulders and brought my hands together in front of his face, fingers crooked to form a small symbolic heart: "I fucking heart you, baby."

"Ah —!"

We were frozen there in place for a long moment, his eyes so wide so pure as he stared in bemusement at my gesture.

Then he bit his lip and said, very earnestly, "Oh...then — I must have you," he nipped at my fingers, "I am enamored of you," he teased at my thumbs with his teeth and I groaned a little and squirmed atop him and inside him, "I ache for you," another bite, "I relish your love for me," still biting, still teasing at my fingers and by now I was instinctively giving them to him, letting him toy with my hands — "I'll fucking take you —" And he pulled my hands to his face and kissed them frantically and below his asshole went perfectly tight around my cock.

"Mmm —!" I shuddered and managed to say, "Cheating — that's cheating, that was five different —" I gasped raggedly.

He sulked beneath me, perfectly composed though my cock was so far up his ass. "You broke the rules first," he said.

"I what?"

"Heart isn't a fucking verb, darling," he said.

I paused a long moment. "Okay, boomer," I said.

"What?!"

"Nothing," I amended quickly. Then I said, "Anything can be a verb if you try hard enough."

"Mmm —"

Before he could say anything more I kissed the top of his ear and said softly, "Want me to try nice and hard on your ass, love?"

"Aaaah darling what do you think —"

I drew my hands back, settled them on his shoulders, and I shifted position to drive my cock even deeper into his tight asshole. He bit his lip and shivered beneath me —

Bracing myself on him I began to pound his asshole rough and hard and fast with my cock, my cock so absurdly massive (it grew a little in his asshole as I focused on it and he gasped, it was a good foot long and huge in girth now —) yes it pulled him so far open at the base of me, I was destroying his tight hot asshole. I kept fucking him so hard and fast, pounding roughly into his body, and I said softly as I fucked him like that, "God, I love you, I love you so much, I need you honey, I want you, I'm slamming my cock deep into your ass every moment and it isn't enough I still want more —"

His mouth dropped open a little every time I thrust into him, his eyes fluttered open, there were supernovas in those irises. The world around us began to seem half-fractured, as if our sex were almost too absurd and passionate for even this magical reality.

Finally he murmured, "Oh darling, please, it's good, just come for me, love."

And in that moment I shuddered and jerked and reached a climax deep in his ass.

He lay there moaning roughly as I gasped and panted on top of him. He said eventually, "Oh love as a god of love don't you know, every time you come up my ass I can feel your load splash all over my insides and it's absolutely wonderful."

I shivered atop him and kissed his hair absently, still dazed. "I love you," I said (of course I did), "but it always —" I stopped myself.

"It bothers you when I lust for that doesn't it," he murmured, "those unsafe acts that killed me —"

I flinched. "Yes," I said quietly. "But at the same time I understand."

"I don't need your pity," he said, a little too sharp.

I flinched a second time, more sharply. "I don't —" Tears welled in my eyes.

He sighed. I was still half-inside him, my gradually softening cock only slowly sliding out of his ass — "It's not trauma, or whatever you'd like to call it — I just like the way bodies slide and blur into each other, darling. I've told you. I don't want to be one body. It's never good enough. I want some handsome lad disappearing into me, I want a sweet mother cradling me to her —"

I shivered and listened, rapt.

"But," he finally said, "fuck, of course I, as you say, fetishize unsafe sex. Fuck you, I have the right."

I hesitated. Then, roughly, I pulled out of him, rolled over to the side of him, and stared up at the brilliant glittering disco ball of light above us; he made a soft involuntary noise of distress as I untangled our bodies.

He murmured, "Ari —"

I flinched at my vulnerable mortal name out there in the open like that from him. "Don't —"

"I'm sorry," he said. "I never try to hurt you. That's not what I want."

I closed my eyes. Then I said, "You do fuck me and you do have the right, love. I'm sorry." A beat. He didn't stop me so I went on: "You know I worry every time, I can't help but be afraid. I could never have died like you did back then, born in '85 like I was, but — it always fucked me up. I'm still broken up every time I remember how you died."

I felt him lying there next to me in silence, and then the bed beneath me shifted slightly as he moved.

He leaned over me, gathered my shoulders in his arms, and nestled against me, his face pressed into the crook of my neck. He shivered and clung to me.

The hurt in my heart softened at the edges. I opened my eyes, reached up to stroke his hair slowly. His breath hitched a little as I touched him. I said, "I love you so much and any time I think of you I'm just one step away from thinking of —" I stopped.

He shifted position just a little, still holding me close, and he glanced up at me and said in the calmest softest voice, "The fucking plague, love, you can't even say that?"

I shuddered.

"I want you to understand it," he said quietly. "You know why."

"I wasn't there," I said. "I can't — I can't ever speak for you."

"I want you to," he said. "And you want to."

I closed my eyes again and said, "I know. You're right. I can't — I'll do it soon. I'll read more of the books. I'll write — what I write. I won't speak for you. I can't. It's not my — it's not my —"

"Mmm darling," he murmured against me, "what's the pill in the little cat-shaped jar on top of my shrine in the real world?"

"That's my Truvada," I said without thinking.

He clicked his tongue and glanced up at me.

—Truvada was the brand name.

The tablets were actually emtricitabine and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate. I had searched the original pill bottle after pouring the big blue pills into the cat-shaped white and gold jar with the crown-shaped lid and setting it atop my shrine to my god-queen, so that the upraised arm of his statuette on the shelf below was lifted directly towards it. No matter how I looked at the print on the bottle, it just said TAKE ONE TABLET BY MOUTH DAILY. Every other pill I had ever taken, as far as I could recall, had followed up that instruction (or a similar one) with FOR DEPRESSION or FOR ANXIETY or FOR INSOMNIA or FOR ATTENTION DEFICIT DISORDER or — you get the picture? I've taken a lot of prescription pills over the years. This one was missing a key bit of information out there in the open on the bottle.

The drugs were antiretroviral medications. They blocked the replication of a certain virus in the human body, stopping it from taking hold. Usually. Almost always, if you didn't miss doses (I was good at not missing doses). It was still best practice to use condoms.

—He laughed; the sound brought me back to the astral reality of his lithe body warm against mine. "It is your fight."

"I didn't say it wasn't my fight," I said, defensively. "I said I couldn't —" I paused as I registered something. I blurted it out — "You're still hard."

"You were terribly rude," he said, a little petulant, "and you didn't finish me, love."

"But we've been —" I stopped.

He shrugged slightly. His eyes were as dark and cool as black ice or the void between solar systems but there were still lustful stars within them somewhere —

I settled one hand on his slim hip and then slowly trailed my fingers over his thigh for a moment — then I grabbed his other hip and shifted his body, roughly pulled him to me just so that our cocks pressed against each other and I began to grind slowly on him.

"Mmmmmm ah love," he breathed, snuggling eagerly up against me as I thrust and bucked into the space between his thighs, rubbing my half-soft cock against his still-stiff one the whole time.

It didn't take me long to feel the ache of my cock going erect once more as I moved against him — refractory periods were hardly a thing here on the astral — and he shivered and cried out softly, breathlessly against my throat.

I grabbed him by the hip and by the ass and lifted his body, drawing his cock to me, bringing the head of it to my mouth. I took him between my lips and I sucked on his perfect cock, the exact right size for my mouth, so pleasant to roll over my tongue and suck like a mother's tit —

Above me he squirmed and shuddered and finally gasped, threw back his head, and came in my mouth. I tasted him on my tongue and at the top of my throat, hot and unearthly; I swallowed eagerly, feeling the bright hot solar power of him filling me up, regenerating my insides.

—At last he pulled himself out of my grasp with a small fierce noise of utter satisfaction and flung himself down onto the pillows.

He said, "Oh love, you like that sort of thing too, you know."

"When it's you," I said, rolling over to look at him sprawled there, naked and radiant, like a lover of Aphrodite or Inanna or some other dangerous goddess in the old art. "I love you —" I put a hand on his chest to feel the steady beat of his heart. I wasn't sure what made a heart beat on the astral plane, but when I touched him his beat faster.

He covered my hand with his. "Yes," he said. "Will you fuck me again, darling?"

"Already?" I tilted my head at him.

"When you leave I might not see you again for a day or two," he said, the faintest flicker of distress in his eyes.

I smiled. "You're so needy," I said. "Like an affection-starved kitten —"

"Meow," he said, and with a flutter of his eyelashes and a faint smirk he added, "Give me all your love, it's mine."

My heart jumped like a toy on a string, but I just said, "You'll feel me in the material world."

"Yes," he said, "if I try, I can feel what you feel, burn like a flame inside your heart." He straightened up, set his hands on my shoulders, and started to push me down onto the pillows; I let him. "But there's nothing like having you with me here, at my side." He leaned over me, he kissed me softly, his lips lingering on mine. Then he murmured: "And I'm happiest when you're inside me."

—It turns out the greatest rock star of the twentieth century is, or was, but still is on the astral plane — a resolute power bottom with little to no interest in being the active partner in sex. But if getting fucked were water, his thirst would drain every lake in the world and leave the salty oceans feeling unsafe.

I cupped his face in my hands and kissed him again, tasting the perfect sweetness of his holy breath on my lips. I drew back for a moment and said, "I know."

"You should," he said; so close to him, I watched his lips move, enchanted by his voice as always. "Remember? I am the god —"

I joined him, helped finish the statement, a favored reminder of his. "— of getting fucked up the ass. I know."

He pulled back just enough to toss his hair a little. "I have other domains too, you know."

"Ecstatic transgression," I said.

"Hmm?" He was still leaning over me as I lay back on the pillows; the strange light above us shimmered at the edges of his shape like a full-body halo for some being far more powerful than a mere angel.

"That's the heart of it," I said. "The core of your divinity. Crossing lines no one expects to be crossed with a smile on your face and a song in your heart."

"And your incredible cock up my ass," he said promptly.

I laughed, leaned in, and started kissing him again. He kissed back fiercely and within an instant the astral world blurred around me as his love filled up my soul to the brim. I gasped into his mouth and let my hands slide to his shoulders; I wrapped my arms around him and held him close.

He drew back just enough to kiss my cheek and murmur into my ear, "I'll take your cock now, love —"

"Yeah," I said, ragged with regenerated lust. "Please."

He murmured the lyric-spell for lube under his breath and began to stroke the slick fluid onto my hard cock; I began to groan and before I could even get my own breath under control he had settled his asshole atop my cock (still achingly, disproportionately huge, with a few extra studs and ridges now to please him more; I always wanted to please him more).

I drew my breath in quickly. "Please," I said again.

"Mmm —" He began to grind himself against the head of my cock and I slid just a little bit more inside his asshole with every move he made. I bit my lip and tried to stay still, to just let him take me —

But he tipped his head to one side and smirked like a challenge, still totally composed even on the brink of riding my cock.

I groaned and grabbed his hips and pulled him roughly down onto my cock, felt it push into his hole and thrust up inside him at the same instant as he gave a soft blissful moan.

"Ah —" He shuddered atop me. "Ah God you feel so good, love."

I held him fast atop my cock, my hands still on his hips, moving his body slowly on me. He shivered and bit his lip with every motion I put him through. I said, "Want me to make it better?"

His half-closed eyes flew open as he recognized what I was asking. "Oh love please yes —"

"Shh," I said, lifting a hand to cradle his face even as I gathered the energy pulsing in me. "I love you so much. I want to make you feel good."

He turned and nuzzled against my open palm, kissing my fingers. "You always do."

I had a little trick I used sometimes —

Every living thing has an energy of its own, an inscrutable mix of measurable scientific things such as body heat and electrical impulses and absurd unprovable nonsense with no real name having much more to do with the soul. For me, I visualized it, in keeping with my Jewish upbringing, as a kind of spiritual breath flowing through my body, and like my breath I could control it. Unlike my breath I could do some amazing things with it — in bed, anyway.

Now I directed it down through my belly to the base of my cock and let it crackle like ethereal lightning around the rim of my divine lover's asshole as I slowly, tenderly fucked him.

His breath hitched, his fingers tightened on my shoulders, and I felt his teeth on my palm. "Ari," he said roughly.

I shivered. "I — yes."

"Can I," he said, suddenly hopeful, and then he stopped, just as suddenly shy.

"Yeah," I said. "Go ahead and scream my name out to the starry heavens above us while I fuck you good, baby."

—It was always a delicate thing, letting him say my name. His voice was so much of his divinity — his song to be sure, but the power bled over and even his speech held such power. It felt wrong, made me flinch sometimes, to hear him speak my name with so much love in that holy voice. It was just too real and I was still, even now, lost in his arms on the astral plane, afraid to completely believe this was real. It was just too absurd, all of it.

But he breathed out a blissful gasp above me and said, "Ah love, Ari, yes, you make me so fucking happy, darling get back to it, oh Ari love —"

I tightened my grip on his hip and held him fast against my cock and let more of my power flow out into my flesh where it danced and buzzed and flickered against his most sensitive places.

"Ah God Ari yes please more I love you —"

I stroked his hair for a moment, then pressed my fingers to his lips. He shivered, opened his mouth, and sucked eagerly on them as I continued to grind gently up into his asshole, my moving, flowing, trembling energy teasing and toying with him, never quite hitting the perfect spot with all the force he wanted.

"Ah love yes — haaaa, fuck, I'll beg if you just give it to me harder —"

I paused at that, I went still beneath him and cupped his face with both hands. "Freddie," I said roughly.

He moaned openly at the sound of his name from me. "Ari —"

I shivered. "Do you want to beg?"

He stopped for a moment, blinked down at me in confusion. "Fucking obviously or I wouldn't have offered," he said. "Darling, do I even talk about sex acts I don't lust for in my very soul? What's the point?" A beat. "If you haven't figured out I like it rough yet, you haven't been paying attention."

"I've been giving it to you," I said.

"I can always take more," he said. He tilted his head and suddenly he was just one step adjacent to his true power, a bratty princess instead of a queen. "Daddy, don't you know your little girl's a ravenous slut?"

"Oh is that how you want it tonight, honey," I said.

"Oh yes."

I touched his mouth again — and I let my power start to stir in my cock and flutter gently against the most tender parts of his asshole once more. "Good girl," I said. "Good girl — Daddy likes slutty little fucktoys like you." His cock, already very hard, stirred eagerly against my belly as I spoke, and his breath quickened. So I went on, "There's never been a hole that can take me like yours, sweetheart, that's why I made you, that's why I brought you up to take my cock," and I gave him a firm slap on the ass.

He shrieked ecstatically. "Daddy please more —"

I pulled him close to me in a rough motion, my fingers digging into his hip, my other hand curling into a fist in his sleek hair, tugging hard (he cried out again). "Want it bigger, honey? Want it harder?"

"Ah Daddy yes please oh God please love —"

—My etheric cock wasn't exactly a solid, bounded thing. Oh, you could feel it all right, hard and hot and heavy in any hole you please, but it wasn't exactly as restricted by the rules of physics as your average dick on the average unimaginative man's body. To me it was more like a flame fueled by lust and sheer spiritual power.

I turned up the burner, so to speak.

He gave a quick sob and squirmed helplessly atop me. "Ah God Daddy I need it, harder harder please give it to me deeper—"

"Ride me, sweetheart," I said, and he gasped and started grinding eagerly down atop me. I sent my power dancing all around the rim of his asshole again, teasing deeper, going for just the right spot — "Take Daddy nice and deep and beg for some fucking release, baby."

"Please oh God oh love darling I need it oh give it to me give it to me —"

A musical edge had crept into his voice and it sent chills up me in an instant as I heard it, I nearly came. I spanked him hard again and he writhed on me. "Oh, I love you, sweetheart," I said. "Take Daddy's cock a little deeper, won't you?"

—I teased his asshole some more with my power and he lost words, sang out soft desperate pleading vowels instead.

"Good girl," I said, "I love you—oh Freddie yes."

I let go, released a pure explosive erotic charge of sheer spiritual power right there barely cells away from his prostate on his etheric body.

He threw back his head in my grasp and shrieked with ecstasy, a single pure note of holy bliss. His hips jerked and without much ceremony he started coming, hot showers of sticky jizz landing all around us, staining the bed for just an instant before pleasant astral magic disappeared them into phantasmal glitter just like our clothes.

He shuddered and looked down at me and I realized —

Tears streaked his perfect face. He'd been crying. His flawless makeup (just the usual eyeliner and a touch of mascara) ran muddily down his cheeks. He blinked a few times, caught his breath with the softest of sobs —

— and gazed down into my eyes, his own eyes so very full of starlight, all blissed out on our sweet and torrid sex. "Oh, love — my sweet Ari."

My heart ached so hard and my cock was still so hard and aching inside him, I came right then, hot and fast inside of him.

He gasped and shuddered and flung his arms around my shoulders and sighed with satisfaction as he lay there against me on the great bed, sexed out and sated at last.

For now, anyway.

Atop me, he murmured something too faint for me to hear, rhythmic like one of his lyric-spells.

"Freddie?" I said.

"Mmmm—I love you," he said sleepily.

—So I just lay there as I slowly went soft inside of him, holding him in my arms, slowly undoing the tangles in his dark hair, stroking the line of his spine down his back with gentle fingers as I stared vaguely up at the glittering rainbow light above us.

Finally, when his breathing had slowed from hitched sobs and soft hiccups to something more normal, when my cock had slid out from his asshole again, I said quietly, "Freddie, where are we?"

"Mmm—" He sighed and straightened up. Instinctively I reached for his lean fit thigh and he caught my hand gently in his. "Give me a moment, darling —" He blinked a couple of times and murmured a lyric-spell under his breath. The mess on his face exploded into phantasmal glitter and was gone.

I waited, watching him. I didn't mind waiting and watching him at all.

Finally he said, "This is —" He paused and said, "It's a place of hope. Or I want it to be. It overlaps your new temple on my level of the astral, so when you sing there, I take the power and —"

"Wait," I said.

He paused and glanced down at me. I sat up in the bed. "This is your astral realm's analogue to the ☾rescent?"

"Well, yes," he said.

—The ☾rescent Lounge was a venerable institution up on the hill, one of the city's very oldest extant gay bars (they claimed to be the oldest in the entire state, but that was a matter of some debate). The important thing, to me, was that they hosted karaoke every night. I went there once a week or sometimes more, when I could, to sing my heart out to my new Queen of Heaven and other spirits I might want to contact.

More to the point —

"We just fucked on — where did we fuck?"

He glanced around us. "The bar? The bar, love." He paused and looked at my flushed face. "Oh, love, the other pagans and witches there aren't that sensitive. They can't see what I don't want them to see." He smiled. "Well, I don't mind — but I understand your shyness."

"Still," I said.

He laughed unrepentantly.

"Why did you bring me here?"

"I told you," he said. "I brought you here so you'd fuck me senseless. Which you did, darling, it was very good, thank you."

"You know what I mean," I said. "Here specifically."

"I'm scouting ahead for you," he said. "I want you to see."

"What?"

He gestured at the windows. "I'm on the banks of the great river," he said, "that runs through the astral map of your heart, dividing —" He paused. "What do you want to call it, darling?"

"I don't know," I said. "I haven't settled on terminology yet."

"Well, I'm shit at naming anything other than bands," he said.

"And cats," I said.

"What? Oh, of course. Stop dodging the question, dear."

I was silent for a little bit, and he glanced casually between me and the darkness beyond the windows. "Well, what's on either side?" I finally said.

"That's what I'm asking," he said.

"No, I mean —" I hesitated. "I don't know yet," I repeated. "What's the line the river makes, Freddie? Is it between life and death? Light and dark? Civilization and wilderness? Heaven and hell? The real life and just fantasy?"

"Yes and no," he said. "It's just the line between." He paused. "It's your line between," he said.

I finally let my gaze drift out the huge windows. Now that the beam of light wasn't spinning, it no longer sent a focused beam out, so there wasn't much to see out there. Just the faintest of shadows and rippling water, far below somewhere, sending back the slivery silvery light of a tiny fragment of moon.

"The other side of my astral world is beyond that river," I said. "It's the line between here and there." He frowned. "This side and the other side." He tapped his fingers against his palm impatiently. "The Hill and the Underground."

"Ah," he said. "That'll do."

"Why?" I said. "Why do I need to name them now?"

"The Underground is gathering forces against your heart," he said. "You have to know that by now. You've been giving them so much ammunition, darling, your life is an awful mess."

I grimaced. His tone was sympathetic but it still wasn't fun to hear. "I know."

"I was trying," he said, "to see if I could learn what lies ahead. So I could warn you." He tilted his head back and looked up at the light above us. "But you showed up and I got distracted."

"You didn't exactly protest at the time," I said.

He grinned.

"Did you learn anything?" I asked.

"Oh, yes," he said.

I waited. When he said nothing more I prompted him, "Well?"

"Well what, darling?"

"Did you learn anything you want to tell me?" I said.

"Oh, that's a good question," he said.

"You're a tease," I said.

He reached out and set his hand on my cheek. "Ari," he said softly.

I shivered and fell silent, looking at him.

"I love you," he said. "I want the best for you. But I can't do it alone. You have to be in this with me."

"I want to —" I began. Then I stopped. "I'm trying."

"Oh darling, you know what that miserable wrinkly little green muppet says," he said.

I groaned. "Star Wars reference number one…"

"I'm serious!" he said. Then he paused, relented: "I know it's hard for you, love." His thumb stroked my jawline for a second and then he began to stroke my hair. "I feel the cracks in your mind and I don't understand and then I do understand and I'm frightened for you. You're strong but I need you to give more, love."

"What should I do," I said, after a long moment. "You can't just say 'give more.' That doesn't mean anything to me at this point. I'm already giving so much."

"You are," he admitted. Then: "I told you. You need to finish your prayer to your holy mother. Just as I did all those years ago. Yours will be very different, of course. That doesn't matter. Make it anyway."

I exhaled slowly. "Okay," I said. "I promise, love, I'll do it as soon as I can."

He looked at my face quietly, earnestly, and I looked back. Finally I reached up to my face, took his hand in mine, and turned it; I brought his knuckles to my lips. I said, very softly, as I kissed each one: "I swear it, my lord, my love, my queen, by my love for you and your power — I will complete this prayer. For your sake."

He tipped his head to one side and looked at me mercilessly. He said: "Not that, love."

I paused. Then I said, "For the sake of my own heart."

"Better," he said. A beat and he sighed. "Oh darling I love you. I want to save you so badly it hurts and I thought I'd left hurting behind some days."

I blinked quickly. "Freddie," I said. "I know you — I know you want to help me but I don't understand why."

"You saved me, my darling," he said softly.

I went still.

Before I could say anything more he'd pushed me back down to the bed and sprawled out over me, arms around my shoulders, fingers casually stroking the tangled not-quite-curls of my hair. "Of course," he murmured, "I'm a god and I have so many mortals out there worshiping me so passionately. They hold festivals in my name. They leave flowers at my idol every day of the year. They lament for me on the day I died still."

"Yeah," I said. "So why —"

"How many of them will open their mind's eye and look at me, love?"

"Well," I said. "Bri — I mean, uh — damn. He says he still feels your presence."

"It's not the same," he said quietly. "That — the man who was his soul brother is dead. I can watch over him, and I do, but there are some things he won't ever see and I won't ever make him see. Besides —" A flicker of a smirk. "I'm not planning to jump on that dick, now am I?"

I blushed. "Well —"

He kissed my cheek. "I touch mortality through you. I remember who I was beyond just the stories. I live again. And you give it to me without a second thought, all you want is to make me happy, and it's not because I'm what's become of a great celebrity —"

"That is exciting," I admitted.

"It's not why you love me, though," he said.

"It's not," I admitted. "It's because you were there for me before I knew who you really were, when you were just my Mystery goddess shimmering somewhere on the astral plane, coming to me veiled and in shadows in my dreams —"

"Great tits, though, wonderful hot tight cunt, you can't deny that," he reminded me.

I blushed hot again and he laughed. I went on, "You were there for me when I needed you and you taught me to believe and I felt your love even then and it hit me right in the soul like a missing piece." I hesitated a second, then reached up to stroke his face. "My sweet Maenad Queen," I murmured, "my Mystery goddess, so fierce and full of absurd queer love and silly jokes and affection and power like the cosmos is at your stiletto-clad feet. I feel like I've always loved you, these days, or at least like I was always meant to love you."

He shivered. "You'll make me cry again," he murmured. "I love you so. I missed —" His breath hitched once more. "Everything you give me. Before you reached out to me I didn't hurt and I had no regrets but it was so lonely being a god out there in the cosmic sea all alone. I felt cold and you warm me again like the sun."

I leaned up and kissed him slow and sweet.

"And —" He sighed as he pulled away from me. "It's not just that, you know. You are so brilliant. You —"

I shook my head. "I don't —" I swallowed hard. "I can't hear it right now," I said. "Everything's still too sharp and jumbled up in my heart right now. I know I'm terrible."

He flinched and bit his lip. "Don't —"

"I'm sorry," I said. "I'll try —"

He kissed me again. I sighed and relaxed into his touch. "You don't need to apologize," he murmured to me, "but I know it's — it's better than some of the other things you could do when those feelings take you. I love you. There is nothing you could do," he added, his tone cool, calm, but firm, "to make me stop loving you."

I breathed out slowly. "Thank you," I said.

"You silly man," he murmured. "Don't thank me for that. It's all your fault anyway that I'm a full-grown apotheosis with a vast contingent of lovers notched on my bedpost and my heart skips beats like some innocent maiden's when you say my name."

"Freddie," I said.

He bit his lip and ducked his head. "You're unfair," he said.

"Life isn't fair," I said, "love isn't fair, and neither is your face, honey. You're too fucking cute."

"Kiss me," he said.

I kissed him again, and for a time we lay quietly in each other's arms on the lunar-white bed with its shimmery sheets and soft pillows, hands in each other's hair, touching each other with affection.

I lapsed into half-sleep after a time. It was dangerous to dream too much on the astral plane — you could easily slip somewhere else entirely through something that didn't even look like a door. But I trusted him to keep me safe, so at his side I dozed, soaking up the love he radiated even in my dreams. Eventually I became vaguely aware that he had gotten up; I half-awoke as he started playing the piano again.

—It was an old song when he started out, I think. A famous one. Something lamenting lost love with impossible sweetness.

Somewhere along the line he began experimenting with new chords. I half-listened from my half-dreams.

—Footsteps. His voice, speaking, not singing. The playing became uneven, stopped —

There was a sharp crash. I wondered if he'd gotten frustrated with the song. Then cold wet air blew right over my naked body and I jerked upright and awake. "Freddie?!"

He was nowhere to be seen. The bench of the piano was cracked, and the glass of one of the great windows was shattered. It lay in pieces around the floor and atop the piano. The rainbow light above crackled and sputtered and flickered dimly.

I pulled myself hastily to my feet, looking for my clothes — there, I pulled my pants and socks and shoes back on quickly and ran towards the scene of the crime. It must have been a crime; he was gone.

The wind danced along the strings of the open piano and played a faint tune. I couldn't make out which one it was, it was too distorted. "Freddie? What happened?"

—"He's not here anymore," said a voice behind me.

I turned around quickly.

A hooded figure, slight and not quite child-like, sat upon the edge of the bed like something out of a roleplay campaign or badly-plotted video game. I couldn't make out features. The voice had been just faintly female-leaning in sound, but that didn't mean a lot.

I looked at them for a long moment. Then I walked over to one of the endtables by the bed and picked up a bottle. "Want a drink?" A beat. "Are you old enough to drink?"

Nothing from the intruder.

I said, "Penny for your thoughts."

"Make it two pennies," they said, "and you will have yourself a deal."

A coin over each eye, like in the old customs. "You're from the underworld," I began. Then I caught myself, hesitated a second, and corrected: "The Underground."

"We grew tired of waiting," they said. "My Lady has him. Come visit us with the prayer and she might let you have him back."

I stopped. I opened my mouth. I closed it again. Finally I said, "Is this really necessary?"

I felt a huff of annoyance in the air and then the messenger was gone as if they'd never appeared.

There wasn't much more I could do. I put the rest of my clothes back on and —

I was going to leave but I stopped at the piano. I hit three notes and said, "Freddie, is this real? Or just...some game you're playing?

The strings inside the beast of a piano hummed and gave me no answer.

"Are you really in danger or is this a show you're putting on for me?" I asked the air around me, cold as it was. I didn't even know what it meant for a god to be in danger. But my heart ached and beat too fast in my chest now.

I turned to go. I took two steps, then another —

Music spilled over from the piano behind me. Faint, but definitely there. It took me just a few notes to recognize the song and I spun around —

— no one and nothing, and in that sudden instant of surprise my treacherous mind lapsed and I forgot which song it had been and why I had cared.

I needed to get back to the real world. I couldn't just jump out the window and swim off to rescue him — if rescuing him was even what I needed to do. He was a fucking god now, he could take care of his own damn self —

Still it was a trial to drag my feet down the stairs, to trace my way back to reality —

I stepped back out into the real life with a heaving gasp and the world reformed around me.

My cat was screaming again. The dishes were undone. I had work tomorrow morning.

Allegedly, if the obvious take on events could even be trusted, my astral lover (who happened to be the apotheosis of a famous dead rock star) had been kidnapped by the darkness inside my own soul.

I opened the window and reached for my pipe. I was just one man in the face of all this, and it was no time to be sober.