The villagers bolted for their houses. There was pandemonium as they violently shoved each other in an attempt to be the first to not be eaten alive. I didn’t actually know what the monster would do once it got here, but by the level of panic I was witnessing, and the sheer lack of community spirit, it would be nothing good.
Claire had mentioned the children were at risk, but no one seemed very concerned for their welfare at the moment. Some were grabbed and dragged along, but many were left to fend for themselves. Those who got trapped underfoot were unceremoniously kicked out of the way.
We hapless three, Maurice, Dudley and I, watched them run around without any sense of decorum, in some cases running in the wrong direction and having to correct themselves and run back the way they’d just come. We did our best to stay out of their haphazard paths.
The monster’s roar, which was like a howl that went on longer and with more modulation than a Mariah Carey live performance, carried on over the top of the villagers’ antics. They disappeared into their homes, diving in through windows and slamming doors behind them.
The last few stragglers were kids who had been left behind and were bawling uncontrollably. Nervous heads poked out, made sure the coast was clear, then ran out to yank a kid into the air and ran back with the kid trailing behind like a kite on a very short string.
Within a minute or so, they had all gone. The howling continued, carried on the wind.
The seven naked women were still there, though. I wouldn’t want you to think just because I hadn’t mentioned them, that they’d run off, too. They hadn’t. Still standing proud. Still naked.
“Oooh,” said Flossie.
“What is it?” yelled Dudley, rushing towards her.
“Ah need a wee.”
Not surprising, they’d been up there all day. You would expect women to be much more leaky than they are. After they have children and get a bit older, things do get a bit more loose, I believe, but I’m not really an expert. There’s a vulva and a urethra and that’s more information than I know what to do with.
“I’ll get you down,” shouted Dudley. Maurice was right behind him.
“No!” said the priestess. She leaped in front of the girls (still naked, by the way) and her followers did the same. They formed a ring around the girls. A ring of nudity. Then they began gyrating.
You might think it would be quite sexy, a bunch of women with nothing on, shaking their bits in a big circle. It was more awkward than sensual. Especially with your girlfriend watching from on high.
Some people are into the sort of thing. Outdoor sex and orgies. Confident in their bodies and eager to perform in front of others. I can’t say I’ve ever found the idea appealing. It’s like lending someone my toothbrush. Urghh.
However, as a way to stop a couple of nerds from charging to the rescue, it was very effective. Maurice and Dudley stopped in their tracks, unable to defeat the wall of vulva. They held up their hands and looked away before they were turned to stone. Or wood.
“We shall keep these women safe,” said the priestess, her arms going up and down as her hips went from side to side. “You must find and eliminate the monster.”
There were seven of them, but they didn’t have any weapons (unless they were very well hidden) apart from the suspiciously shaped staff the priestess had planted into the turf as she got her groove on. I could see her groove from where I was standing, and it was definitely in the on position.
We could rush them, use our superior masculine strength to get to the girls and cut them down. Dudley had his bow out, ready to snipe a couple. Once they lost one or two, they’d probably run for it.
Couple of problems with that strat. First, our superior masculine strength wasn’t all that superior. These women looked like they’d been working out. Naked yoga is nothing to sniff at.
Second, they had the look of women who had something up their invisible sleeves. There was no concern that they’d be overpowered by the likes of us. Nothing convinces you that you ain’t shit like a bunch of naked women staring at you like you ain’t shit.
A real man would have ripped off his own clothes and convinced them otherwise. Conan and James Bond and Dirty Harry wouldn’t be intimidated by a couple of exposed nipples. But then real men are hard to find.
We still would have tried to force our way past the women and our own inhibitions, but there was a third and much more convincing reason to stay where we were. The dancing women raised their hands to the dark skies and lightning fell in seven streaks.
The ground around us cracked open where the lightning struck, sending up dust and dirt. If they had hit the piles of wood around the girls, they would have been ignited instantly, although they probably wouldn’t burn the girls; they’d already have been obliterated. Not even Flossie’s bulging bladder would be enough to put out that fire.
“Go meet the monster as the One True God has commanded,” said the priestess. “If you fail, only the sacrifice of these women will appease him.”
There’s a point when female nudity goes from being alluring to annoying. I’m not quite sure when it turns, when the giant billboard of a model in the shower trying to seduce you into buying shampoo transforms into an obviously cynical attempt at tricking you into associating a plastic bottle of chemicals with doe-eyed lust. Is it familiarity? Age? I know that exposure to the naked body when you have no business seeing it is a power move on someone’s part. I’m pretty sure Photoshop has something to do with it.
Even before that, the idea you can cover imperfections with makeup and corsets and bras that make pert out of pancakes, led to a strange shift in reality. What attracts you isn’t what you get left with. Love and disappointment as a package deal.
The seven naked women who could call down lightning were not giving any of us a hard on. I had no desire to throw dollar bills at them. I’m not sure what the equivalent in British strip clubs is. We don’t have one pound notes anymore, just pound coins. I don’t even want to guess where strippers expect you to put them.
The howling increased in volume, somewhere outside the village.
“Go!” commanded the priestess. We went.
The other two were reluctant, but I led the way, giving them a look that said I had a plan. Which I did. Not necessarily a good one, but something to keep us busy.
We hurried out of the village, Maurice and Dudley looking behind them with anxious faces, like they were more afraid of what would happen back there than what we were heading towards.
“Are you afraid lesbians are going to steal your girlfriends?” I asked them, trying to jolt them out of the daze they seemed to be in.
“Yes,” said Maurice. “Eventually, someone will. Could be them. Could be anyone.”
That kind of insecurity in a guy is something women see as cute. Sweet. Adorable. Right up to the point where they fuck the guy at work who everyone thinks is a giant douchebag.
I’m not sure what drives women to do it, but there’s no doubting that evolution arranged for something in the female genetic code that makes them want a taste of poison dick. They know they shouldn’t, that it won’t lead to anything good in the long term, and that many others have drunk at the poisoned well before them and many more will after them, possibly later the same day, yet they cannot resist.
Insecure penis does not hold the same appeal. Confident lesbians are more of a grey area.
“I’m not sure we should refer to them as lesbians without asking first,” said Dudley, also nervously looking over his shoulder. “Seems a bit presumptuous. Rude, even.”
“It’s not meant in a derogatory way,” I said. “It’s just that organised religion has always been a way for persecuted groups to hide themselves in plain sight. That’s the whole basis of the Catholic Church. Gay men didn’t want to get married to women they had no attraction to but didn’t want to stand out. So they made up a crazy rule about God not wanting them to hook up and everyone was like, Fair enough. You’re a forty year old bachelor with no interest in pussy, but I guess you just have phenomenal self-control. Of course the problem was other less savoury types saw how well it worked and thought, Aye, aye, that’s a good trick. We could hide there, too. And all the paedos piled in, ruined it for everyone.”
“I’m not sure that’s exactly how the Catholics see it,” said Maurice, adjusting his glasses. “Some of them might find your views a tiny bit offensive.”
“Yes,” I said, “but they’re Christians. They have to forgive me. That’s the whole fucking point of their religion.”
There was another long, eerie howl somewhere to the left.
“Shouldn’t we be heading that way?” said Dudley.
He’d noticed we were heading away from the howling rather than towards it.
“We’re not going to fight the monster.”
“Where are we going then?” asked Maurice.
“Well, the way I see it, if the man in Wizard’s Tower is the monster, then he isn’t at home. Perfect time to drop in for a visit. I think there’s more chance of finding a way to stop him at his place than trying to take down some invisible entity we don’t know anything about.”
“What about the girls?” said Dudley sounding alarmed.
“We’ll have to hope it’s only an experimental phase.”
We made our way back to the woods. It’s not that easy finding a building in the middle of nowhere even when you’ve been there once. It was a clear night with stars filling the sky. It wasn’t much light but enough to see by and only occasionally trip and fall. I was reluctant to use magic to light our way in case it drew attention from our howler.
“There,” said Dudley, his sharp eyes able to see in the dark, too, it seemed. The tower rose up before us.
Maurice wiped his glasses with a corner of his shirt and put them back on to get a clearer look. “Looks quiet.” It had looked the same last time, so that didn’t mean much. “How do we get in?”
I walked up to the door and gave it a shove. It was locked. I pulled and banged and looked for a keyhole or lock of some kind. Then I tried to open the small slot the man had looked through. It moved.
By pressing hard and sliding it along it slowly shifted. I wasn’t sure what good it would do to have such a small opening to work with, but it was a start.
As I got it halfway across it moved a lot easier and slid aside with a bang. Two eyes appeared on the other side.
“What do you think you’re doing?”
I jumped back. “Ah. Oh. You’re in.”
“Of course I am. Not going out with that all going on, am I?” There was another howl. “No thank you. Those nasty women making all that racket.”
The little slit slammed shut.
We stood there.
“I don’t think he’s the monster,” said Dudley.
“No shit.” I banged on the door. “Hey!” There was no response.
“We could smoke him out,” suggested Maurice.
We were the three pigs trying to get inside the Big Bad Wolf’s house. Who wasn’t as bad as the stories had led us to believe.
“Probably set the whole thing on fire if we did that,” I said. “Not a bad idea.”
The slot banged open. “You clear off, now. Not safe starting fires in the middle of a forest.”
Howls drifted towards us on the night air.
“That noise, that’s the priestess?” I asked him.
“Why did she tell us it was you?”
“Who knows? Women are like that, aren’t they? Always stirring. Once they get what they came for, they’ll go off until next month. Stay indoors and wait for it to blow over.” The small opening slammed shut.
If it was the priestess who was responsible for all the howling, what was the plan? Why get us involved and what did she really want?
“We should go back,” said Maurice. “I have a bad feeling about this.”
“I concur,” said Dudley.
We headed back to the village. There was the crack of lightning in the distance, over and over. We began running. I lit a ball of light so we wouldn’t fall, not caring about the monster finding us.
It always seems quicker on the return journey. We ran into the deserted village, to the green. There were three empty stakes in the ground, firewood piled high around each. But no sign of the girls and no naked women. Lesbians had stolen our girlfriends.