Shortly before Halloween 2005 Drake posted a message on the Petrification Parlor Two Yahoo! Group: “It's been too quiet of late!...Let's all get busy and produce some new work. Halloween should be the season for Medusas, monsters and slick and sexy soceresses.”
Well, I don’t know about that, but I did have an idea for a kind of science fiction ghost story that I’ve been wanting to use for a long time, so here it is, brought to you, as they say, at great expense and at the last minute.
NB Zyrra, Yanni and Vrytha are in the Earth equivalent of their late teens and in their final school year, old enough to be considered responsible and sexually mature by the standards of their society.
It only happened because I wanted to have sex with Yanni.
I’d reached the age when I had begun to be acutely aware of my own sexuality, and almost overnight I had ceased to see Yanni as a skinny little geek and begun to see her as an incredibly beautiful young woman. I had caught some all-too-fleeting glimpses of her body in the school bathhouse, and I had been filled with such an intense need for her that I had almost had an orgasm on the spot.
From her slender articulate toes, her long, supple legs, her gracefully curving buttocks, her flat stomach and small but perfectly-formed breasts, her long neck and delicate heart-shaped face, her long, flowing blue hair, even to the small tufts of hair at the tips of her ears, her body was perfect. It was the body of a goddess. In fact, she was the most stunningly attractive female I had seen since the last time I looked in a mirror.
It took me a while to pluck up courage, and for a long time I had no idea how I was going to ask her. Finally I just decided to come right out with it, and I confronted her after school one evening.
“Yanni,” I said, “I just want you to know that I think you’re the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen, and I’d love to have sex with you.”
I think I must have blushed a little as I said it. Well, probably more than a little if I’m to be honest. But at least I’d finally said it. The worst she could do was refuse.
Or so I thought.
She looked thoughtful for a moment and then looked at me with an odd expression. “Ah,” she said at last. “I thought I’d noticed you looking at me. But Zyrra, what makes you think I’m interested in girls?”
I felt my face reddening. I had poured my heart out to her and now she was just stalling me. It was almost unbearable.
“Two moons ago I happened to be walking through the meadow north of town,” I said. “Suddenly I heard noises coming from the bushes. You’d concealed yourselves pretty well, but from just the right angle I could see everything through a gap. You were having sex with Vrytha, and from the look and sound of it you were both enjoying yourselves a whole lot.”
“So in that case, how do you know Vrytha isn’t my steady girlfriend?” asked Yanni.
“You haven’t spoken to her in over a moon,” I said. “Besides, she’s got a boyfriend now.”
“Oh, that’s just for show,” said Yanni. “He’s got a boyfriend, but he doesn’t want his parents or teachers to find out, so she’s agreed to be seen with him. They’re not lovers.”
“Right,” I said, “and you’re not her regular lover either. Oh, come on, Yanni. You made her scream. Why can’t you do the same for me?”
“Well, to be honest I’m not sure if your heart could take it,” she pouted.
I probably wasn’t concealing my frustration very well as I turned to walk away.
“Maybe you’re right,” I muttered. “You wouldn’t be any good for my heart.”
Of course she had to wait until I was walking away before purring: “All right. I’ll do it.”
My heart was pounding as I turned back to her. Was she serious, or was she just stringing me along?
It didn’t take long to find out.
“I will have sex with you - on one condition,” she said.
“What condition?” I asked, fighting to keep my voice steady.
She pointed to the sky. The sun had already set, and even in the glow of the awakening streetlights the pale form of the Whirlpool could be seen rising in the east.
Yanni said, “Tomorrow is Soulsnight, when the Whirlpool will be directly overhead at midnight. On that night the souls of the dead who reside within the great spiral are said to commune with the living, for good or ill.”
“I know all that,” I told her. “I haven’t believed in ghosts since I was a very small child, and the Whirlpool isn’t some mystical resting place for souls, it’s just a huge collection of stars and planets. If you believe the scientists, it may be inhabited by quintillions of intelligent beings, some of them very much like us.”
“I can’t imagine any alien creature being remotely like me... or you,” she said. “The point is, I’ll sleep with you if... if... you’ll spend the whole of Soulsnight in the old cemetery. Alone. Oh, and naked, of course.”
“The old cemetery?” I cried. “Are you crazy? It’s dark there. No streetlights nearby. You never know who might be hiding out in there. Going there naked would be suicide.”
“No it wouldn’t,” she said. “Nobody hides there at night. Nobody will go near the place any more. They say that even the most hardened criminals are afraid to enter it. You may not believe in ghosts, but everyone who’s lived or worked within twenty blocks of the place says it’s haunted. They hear weird noises coming from the grounds at night, especially on Soulsnight. Screams and wails like the cries of the damned, they say. It’s said that people have been driven mad just by hearing them.”
“Oh, so you want me to go mad, too, is that it?” I said.
“Not at all,” she laughed. “I’m sure you’re mad enough already that you can’t possibly get any worse.”
Oh, she was infuriating. I didn’t know whether I was going to laugh or slap her.
As it turned out I did neither. Instead I heard myself saying, “All right. I must be crazy to accept such a stupid wager, but I’ll do it if only to prove I’m not superstitious. But if I do this you’d damn well better keep your end of the bargain.”
“Don’t worry about that,” she said. “If you go through with it my end will be waiting for you.“
The next evening Yanni called for me after dinner, carrying a bag on her shoulder. I’d told my parents we were going out to celebrate Soulsnight. They naturally assumed I meant at one of the many Soulsnight parties that were being held in our district, so they gave me the usual warnings about drinking too much and taking drugs. Then they kissed me farewell and wished me a good time.
If only I had known those kisses were the last I would ever have of them....
Yanni led me along the brightly-lit tree-lined streets for a while, past houses where ghostly apparitions made from old bedsheets fluttered in the breeze in the front yards and the sound of music and laughter came from within.
I sighed. Instead of spending the night enjoying myself like everyone else I had allowed Yanni to talk me into spending the night in a cold, dark graveyard. Was her body really worth it?
The thought inevitably drew me back to the sight of her in the communal shower, and my body answered my question for me by becoming unbearably aroused. Yes: I would do anything, even this, for just one night with her.
After a while the music and laughter faded behind us and the streetlights became fewer and dimmer. We had entered the old part of town where few people lived. The streets were deserted, the trees sickly and bare, the pavements cracked and overgrown with weeds. Ancient wooden houses leaned against each other for support, looking ready to collapse at any moment. I didn’t know why the whole neighbourhood had not been ripped down years before instead of being left to decay like a diseased tooth.
Finally we came to the end of a street, and also the end of the streetlights. Faintly visible in the light of the rising Whirlpool was a set of rusty iron railings, behind which I could just make out the shapes of marble slabs and headstones. There was a chill breeze that seemed to be blowing from the cemetery itself.
We made our way along the railing until we came to a gate. It was not locked, but it was so corroded and overgrown that it took us quite an effort to push it open wide enough for me to slip through.
“All right,” said Yanni. “Time to get ready.”
Taking a deep breath I nodded and slipped out of my party clothes. Yanni folded them neatly and packed them in her shoulder bag. She had agreed to let me wear sandals to protect my feet from the hard ground, and any sharp objects that might be lurking in the dark, but that was it.
I was committed. There was no going back now.
“Well,” Yanni said, “you’ve been brave enough to go along with my challenge, I’ll give you that.”
In the dim light it was impossible to read her expression, but them she reached forward and gave me one long, lingering kiss, sliding a hand down my back from my shoulders to my thighs.
“You do have a nice body, Zyrra” she purred. “I think it could be interesting exploring it with you after all.”
“Yanni....” I began, but she pulled away.
“We’ll talk about this tomorrow,” she said. “Tonight this is your home.”
She pulled the gate shut behind me and threw the bolt with a clang. The bolt was surrounded by solid iron panels so that it could not be reached from inside, almost as if whoever designed the gate had expected an invasion of the dead. Or perhaps they had merely wanted to symbolise the impossibility of escape from the grave.
In any case, Yanni had made escape impossible for me too. There was no way I could climb over the high, spiked fenceposts, especially naked as I was. Even if I could escape the cemetery, I’d be naked on public highways in the middle of the night. Assuming that didn’t get me raped or worse, I would be publicly humiliated and Yanni would never let me live it down.
Of course I hadn’t ruled out the possibility that Yanni might decide to make me walk home naked in the morning, but I would just have to deal with that as it came.
I walked slowly along the path between the graves. As my eyes slowly adjusted to the darkness I became aware that many of the graves had stone figures lying upon them. Taking a closer look I saw that the statues all depicted young women, nude or semi-nude, reclining in attitudes of melancholy or despair, or draped over the headstones as if embracing them in lieu of their loved ones.
It was just possible to read some of the less-weathered inscriptions. Most of the graves, at least in this part of the cemetery, seemed to belong to women who had died before they were twice my age, and all at about the same time.
Then I remembered an old history lesson about the plague that had struck our country 140 years before. I recalled that most of the victims had been young women, and I realised I had found their resting-place.
A sudden chill went through me that had nothing to do with the cold night breeze. If this was a plague cemetery the bodies might still carry it. I told myself that they couldn’t infect anybody as long as they were safely buried, but still I could not help but be nervous.
Nervous or not, I couldn’t resist running my hands over the statues. They did not seem to have suffered any erosion at all despite their age, and I let my hands play over them, imagining that the smooth marble breasts, thighs and buttocks I was caressing were Yanni’s smooth flesh instead. My other hand was soon busily caressing my own smooth body, and in this way I kept myself occupied for what felt like hours.
Eventually I looked up and was surprised to see the Whirlpool directly overhead. Could it really be midnight already? All over the land Soulsnight parties would be coming to a climax with feasting, drinking, dancing and lovemaking, while all I could do was indulge myself and fantasise about tomb sculpture.
Suddenly I became aware of a movement behind me. “Who’s there?” I said.
A figure stepped forward. It was a girl, not much older than me, wearing a short, plain dress. It was impossible to tell the colour; in the dim Whirlpool-light it looked dark grey, but it might have been maroon, blue or purple for all I knew.
“When the voices of the Whirlpool call us we have no choice but to listen,” she said in a half-whisper.
“Who are you?” I demanded. “Did Yanni send you?”
“I don’t know this Yanni,” she said, “but I think I should like to know you.”
“You don’t seem very surprised to see a naked girl walking through a graveyard at night,” I said.
“I know why you are here,” she told me. “There is always a reason for these things.”
As she spoke she stepped forward and placed a hand on my arm. I swallowed. Her eyes seemed to be holding me, and I couldn’t pull away.
“The Voices of the Whirlpool have awakened me,” she said. “It is they who led you to this place. We are destined to be together.”
“I don’t know what you mean,” I said. I seemed to hear my voice as if it were echoing down a long tunnel. “It was Yanni who led me here on a dare. It wasn’t fate. And anyway, the Whirlpool is a natural part of the universe. It doesn’t contain the souls of the dead.”
“Ah, but Zyrra, the universe contains many things that mortals cannot truly understand,” said the girl. “The reasons why we live, and why we die, to name but two.”
“How... how do you know my name?” I breathed. “This is some prank of Yanni’s, isn’t it? Is she hiding behind one of the gravestones, just waiting to leap out and have a good laugh at my expense?”
“Be calm, Zyrra,” she said. “Yanni is not here. There is only you, and those whom the Voices have awakened.”
I was feeling lightheaded and disoriented, and I seemed to be having trouble making my body obey me. I had no idea what could be happening to me.
“What... what do you mean... awakened? Voices...”
“It’s all right, Zyrra,” she said. “Don’t try to talk. Just follow me.”
She turned and walked along the aisle between graves, and I had no choice but to follow, scanning her bare legs and back with my eyes. I couldn’t remember seeing her remove the dress, yet it was most definitely gone, and the sight of her buttocks and thighs was arousing me far more than my fleeting glimpse of Yanni’s nakedness ever had.
After a short while we came to a grave that had no accompanying figure, and she lowered herself onto it as if it were the most luxurious divan ever made for an empress. Her breasts were bigger than Yanni’s - and mine - and I could scarcely draw my eyes away from them.
“Come,” she said. Discarding my sandals, I climbed on top of her body so that my nipples brushed hers, sending a ripple of pleasure through me. Our lips were almost touching.
“Zyrra,” she said, “what made you come here tonight?”
“A challenge,” I heard myself tell her. “Yanni said that if I were to spend the night in this graveyard she would let me have sex with her.”
“But Yanni is not here,” she said, “and I am, and I will have sex with you here and now.”
“Yes,” I breathed - although to be truthful, I was not certain she was offering me a choice in the matter.
Gently she began to caress my back, just as I had caressed the backs of the statues, and I began caressing her in return.
“Oh, you’re so cold,” I said.
“But now I have you to warm my body,” she said. “The Voices have drawn you to me, as I knew they would.”
”I don’t understand,” I said. “The Whirlpool is just stars. It can’t possibly contain departed souls.”
“But are souls in the Whirlpool” she whispered. “Not those of the dead, but of the countless beings who inhabit the great spiral of stars. It is their Voices, their thoughts and emotions, that we can hear whispering faintly across the chasm of space that separates our small sun from the galaxy, and we can only hear them on this one night of the year when our world is in perfect alignment with the Whirlpool. Of course there have always been those who were sensitive to the Voices, hearing them in their minds and believing them to be the whispers of the dead, and so centuries ago this night became associated with the souls of the departed. Soulsnight.”
“And... and do you hear these Voices?” I asked.
She kissed me. “Yes, Zyrra. I hear them even now. It was they who awakened me tonight.”
She sighed - whether in reverie or in response to my caresses, I couldn’t tell.
“They speak to us of vast numbers of worlds and peoples, of scientific marvels and natural wonders beyond comprehension, and of worlds more beautiful and more terrible than any of us could ever dream of. To visit even one of those worlds would be a journey of discovery beyond anything the great mariners of the past accomplished.”
She sighed once more. “But none of us will ever get to see those worlds. The universe has played a cruel jest upon our world. The galaxy contains millions of inhabited planets, yet our race had the misfortune to evolve upon a planet whose sun had been ejected from the galaxy by some ancient gravitational encounter.”
“I... I’m not sure I understand,” I said.
“Zyrra,” she sighed, “Our world is half a million light years from the Whirlpool. We can hear the Voices of its inhabitants but we can never reply. In a sense they are the Voices of the dead, because it has taken half a million years for them to reach us at the speed of light.”
I suddenly had a vision of our world as a tiny island, cut off from a thriving empire by a vast and unnavigable ocean. I felt very cold and alone.
Yet not completely alone. The girl was still stroking me gently, and though her hands were cool their touch was arousing a passionate heat within me.
“Well, then,” I said, “If we are alone in the universe we must make the best of this world and take comfort in each other.”
“Yes,” she sighed. “You are a comfort to me, Zyrra. I have been alone for too long.”
“I don’t even know your name,” I said. “Won’t you please tell me?”
“My name is Shenza,” she said, gently caressing my eartips.
“Shenza,” I replied, savouring the sound of it. ”It’s a pretty name. A little old-fashioned, though. My grandmother told me she once had a distant cousin named Shenza, but she died when she was quite young. I guess it was the pla -”
“Please,” said Shenza, “let’s not talk of such things here and now. We’ve talked too long already. This night is for love.”
She stroked my ears again and kissed me fiercely, slippiing her tongue in my mouth. Aroused beyone endurance I slid one hand up her thigh and into her crotch, using the other to return her ear-caress. At the same time I was sliding my tongue over hers. It felt strangely cool, like the rest of her body, but her passion was making me hot.
A moment later I felt her hand enter me and we spent what felt like an hour mutually pleasuring each other, our sensations slowly growing more intense until at last I felt that I was about to climax.
In that brief moment before I came, I happened to glance over her shoulder at the gravestone. Until that moment it hadn’t occurred to me that what we were doing might be considered disrespectful to the dead, and it was far too late to do anything about it now. But for a brief moment, in the light of the Whirlpool, I thought I briefly glimpsed a part of the inscription:
And then I wasn’t able to think about what it meant, because my body flared into orgasm.
Oh, it was everything I had dreamed it would be. It was like all the stars of the Whirlpool exploding inside me at once. I could hear myself moaning, and Shenza was moaning too. But the strange thing was that I seemed to hear others as well. There was moaning and wailing coming from all around us.
My own moaning intensified as another burst of ecstasy washed over every nerve in my body, followed by another, then another, and another, and another, and another...
I couldn’t speak. I could barely think. I couldn’t even moan any more. I couldn’t move a muscle. I couldn’t do anything except let the incredible pleasure consume me.
In that unbelievable ecstatic paralysis I seemed to feel the light of the Whirlpool beating down upon my naked back, and I fancied I could hear the Voices of the Whirlpool whispering to me across half a million years of emptiness. There were secrets in those Voices, secrets that no mortal could ever know, yet which could teach the spirits of the dead to rise up on this one night of the year and lure partners to them....
Gradually my ecstasy faded, though it did not stop. Ripples of ecstasy continued to pulsate through my body as Shenza gently turned me onto my back and began licking my moist vagina. I tried to sit up, but still my muscles would not respond.
“Shen... za...” I managed to gasp. Even speaking took an enormous effort now, as if my mouth and throat were slowly hardening. “Shen... za... it... can’t... be... true. It’s... im... poss... i... ble.”
After a moment Shenza removed her mouth from my crotch and moved forward to kiss me, giving me a taste of my own womanhood.
Then she said: “It’s true, Zyrra. I am the same Shenza who died of the plague, one hundred and thirty-eight years ago. I was just one of the many who died too young and were buried here in a forgotten corner of town where we could be forgotten. All our friends and loved ones just abandoned us, because they were afraid our bodies might infect them. They were fools. The plague spores could not survive more than a few years in our dead and decaying flesh.”
A shudder went through me that had nothing to do with the way Shenza was caressing me.
“Once a year on Soulsnight we would be awakened by the Voices of the Whirlpool. Gradually we learned from them how to take physical form for this one night of the year, and we gave each other what comfort we could. But we realised that the only way we could ever end our loneliness and experience true pleasure once more was by attracting living partners to us. It took many decades before one of us succeeded, but finally we were able to draw partners to us, one by one, and take them as lovers each Soulsnight.”
She chuckled softly. “Some of us would prefer male partners, but until now we have only ever succeeded with other women. Ah, well. I don’t mind that at all, Zyrra. I’m very happy to have you here at last. Last Soulsnight I was able to reach your friend Yanni’s mind and plant the idea of bringing someone to spend the night here. Of course I didn’t know it would be you, but I was certain that in the mind of one so young and impressionable the suggestion would take root, and after a year it blossomed, and here you are.”
“The... statues...” I gasped. “The... statues... are... the... women... you... lured... here.”
“That’s right, Zyrra. Once Soulsnight is done their flesh takes on the appearance of stone. They lie still upon our graves as we lie still within them, and when this night is over you will join them in that stillness. Neither living nor dead, they are our bridge between life and death. Only on Soulsnight do the Voices restore them to flesh and blood, and only for the sake of our pleasure.”
“And... is... this... your... re... venge?” I croaked. By now it was becoming almost impossible to speak, but I could not leave my question unasked. “Is... this... your... way... of... pun... ish... ing... the... peo... ple... who... ab... an... doned... you?”
“Revenge, Zyrra?” she laughed, gently kissing my lips. “Oh, I wouldn’t call it that, exactly. Haven’t I already given you more pleasure than you have ever dreamt of? Only we and those who become our companions can ever experience such pleasure, Zyrra, and I promise you that what you have felt so far was only the beginning. There are many hours before dawn, and I will make every second of those hours an eternity of pleasure for you. Surely giving up your dreary, mundane existence is a small price to pay for such bliss.”
I wanted to answer, but I couldn’t even whisper any more. My body was nothing but a doll in her hands, and I couldn’t do anything to prevent her from inserting her tongue into me once more. Unable either to help her or to resist, I could only lie there as my pleasure slowly grew and grew once more. Out of the corner of my eye I seemed to see other female figures fondling and caressing the other tomb statues, and I wondered how many years the statues had spent trapped in this state.
Slowly Shenza’s articulate tongue brought me to another incredible climax. If anything it was even more prolonged and intense than the last, and I could think of nothing at all except how beautiful the experience was. I couldn’t moan with pleasure, but Shenza and her companions were moaning, wailing and screaming so loudly it was certain that anyone hearing them outside the cemetery would think them the cries of the damned.
The pleasure that I experienced that night can scarcely be expressed in words. The Voices had taught Shenza and her fellow souls the arts of pleasure from a thousand worlds, and using them she gave me such pleasure that I thought my mortal flesh would melt away. I couldn’t move, couldn’t escape, but who could have wished to escape the throes of such god-like ecstasy?
But at long last the Whirlpool began to sink into the west, and as the Voices faded so did Shenza’s physical form.
“Farewell for now, my beautiful Zyrra,” she said, kissing me like mist. “Until next Soulsnight.”
And as she faded away in the first light of dawn I had one final orgasm that lasted for hours and hours.
I woke in the cool morning, lying upon the stone slab with my head propped against the headstone. At first I thought it had all been a strange dream, until I tried to move and my body remained still. I tried again, and again, but still couldn’t move a muscle.
Looking down at my torso, I saw that my flesh had the appearance of white marble, just like the statues on the neighbouring tombs.
No, I thought, it can’t be true! It can’t!
But no amount of denial could make my stone limbs move. It was true. The night had not been a dream.
I was a statue.
I was going to remain a statue forever.
And even as that realisation dawned, my senses flared into a spontaneous orgasm. I might be stone on the outside, but on the inside I was very much alive and capable of feeling. This climax was not nearly as intense or as sensuous as those I had experienced with Shenza, but it was just as prolonged, and it had not ended by the time I caught a glimpse of movement out of the corner of my eye and heard familiar voices.
“Remind me what we’re doing here again, Yanni,” said the first.
“Well, that’s the funny thing, Vrytha,” said the other. “I was absolutely certain that I had to do something here this morning, but I couldn’t for the life of me remember what.”
Vrytha and Yanni! So Yanni had remembered to return for me. The only thing she had forgotten was me. I had no doubt that during the night the souls who dwelt within the cemetery had used the knowledge of the Voices to make her forget all about me. And not just her, but everybody who ever knew me.
It was as if I had never existed.
“And that’s not all,” said Yanni.
Their voices were coming closer. Of course I couldn’t turn to look at them.
“I opened my bag this morning,” Yanni went on, “and just look what I found.”
Vrytha whistled. “Great clothes. Who’d you steal them off of?”
“That’s just it. I can’t think how they came to be there. Maybe I robbed a dress shop and lost my memory. I mean, this stuff would fit me just nicely, and I’d love to wear it, but suppose the real owner recognised it?”
Vrytha laughed. “Yeah, that would be pretty embarrassing.”
I could see them now. They were walking along the aisle, following more or less the route I had taken last night. I wanted to cry out to them, Yanni! Vrytha! Help me! But of course I could do nothing but lie mute and helpless upon the stone.
Suddenly Vrytha stopped and bent down to pick up something at the foot of the grave.
“Well, look at that,” she laughed. “Looks like you’re not the only one who’s finding stuff today.”
“Why, what have you found?” said Yanni.
“A pair of sandals,” said Vrytha, holding up my sandals for her to see.
“Weird. It’s like someone’s been discarding their clothes all over town.”
“Well, one thing’s certain,” said Vrytha, running a hand up my stone leg. “These ladies discarded theirs a long time ago.”
“Yeah, they’re really cute,” said Yanni, fondling my stone breasts.
Not surprisingly, their touches were giving me another internal orgasm, and it was obvious from the way they were looking at each other as they stroked me that orgasms were on their minds as well.
“Want to take me up to the meadow again?” said Vrytha. “Those bushes are nice and secluded. No one will see us.”
Yanni looked thoughtful. “No, we’d better not go there again. from just the right angle you can see everything through a gap.”
“How do you know that?” asked Vrytha.
“I...I don’t know,” said Yanni. “I seemed to remember someone telling me, but I can’t remember who or when. Don’t suppose it’s important.”
As they turned to leave, Vrytha looked around the cemetery.
“You know,” she said, “this place is creepy enough in the daytime. I bet it’s really scary at night.”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right. How about next Soulsnight you and I spend the night here and see just how scary it is?”
“Hah. Think I’d be too scared? That’s going in my diary right now, and I’m going to make sure you don’t try to get out of it either.”
So Shenza and her friends had planted the idea in Vrytha and Yanni’s minds, so that next year they would enter the cemetery and be seduced as I had been, joining me in eternal, stony silence.
I couldn’t warn them. But as my conscious thought began to dissolve in another series of endless climaxes, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to warn them anyway.