Darker then Amber
Amber would later realize that she had underestimated George. She had been careful when she made contact but George’s lack of intellectual curiosity had lulled her. He had seemed singularly uninterested in learning, an accurate perception on her part. But she was young herself, only thirty-one, and she had made the near fatal error of believing that lack of awareness meant lack of guile. She had forgotten, or never known, that to be unaware is to be unrestrained.
And she didn’t know about George’s former background as a hitman. Her ability enabled her to locate other gifted ones, carefully honing in on the little lights that shone into her world. When she had walked near the plaza she had known. There was a bright light and a dim one, both from above.
The bright light was as expected, one she had seen many times. She didn’t know what to make of the dim one. It puzzled her, but she pressed on.
There was a knock at the door. It was just after eleven am and George had only been up a few minutes. He was still in his robe, about to take a shower. Five had been preparing his breakfast while seven readied his shower and there was a knock at the door. His mother never knocked unexpectedly. All deliveries were expected in advance. This was not just a knock, it was a mystery, a visit without provenance, a knock at the door.
George pressed the Source button on his TV remote and flipped over to the hallway camera. The visitor was a young woman, seen from above and to the side. She was average height and build, with straight black hair in a page boy cut. She wore slacks and a blouse, but George was intrigued by her large breasts. He had never been with a large breasted woman.
Even as he watched she knocked again, and the sound came from both the door behind him and the TV in front of him. He pressed on the customized remote and spoke uncertainly into the microphone.
“May I help you?”
She turned and looked up, to face the camera where his voice came from.
“Actually, I believe I can help you.”
She asked to come in to speak with him. George was wary. He had never actually had a true and normal relationship. He simply did not know how to proceed. He was not fearful of her or cautious to admit her. He was simply uninterested and was about to dismiss her when she said, “You don’t have use of your gift anymore, do you?”
That got his attention but it was a guess on her part. She had never seen a dim light before and she was guessing what it might mean. She suggested that they could meet in a local restaurant. George didn’t leave his penthouse. She knew about gifts. But what clinched the deal for George was the idea of seeing those breasts, albeit still covered, but live and close-up.
It was agreed she would return with lunch at 1 pm. George slipped an hundred dollar bill under the door and said into the remote, “Make it a good one.” He watched her briefly frown on the TV but she took the money and left in the elevator.
George made the girls clean the apartment then shooed them across the hall to his Mother’s. She objected until he peeled off some more bills and said, “Get lost for today.” She sneered at him, and a moment of hesitance, and she almost said, “What are you up to, George?”
But instead she took the money and left in the elevator a few minutes later. He told the entertainment to stay in the other suite until he called for them. In no circumstance would they come back until he called for them. They didn’t care; they both welcomed being out of his company. George was completely unaware and unconcerned – they would be gone
Amber arrived just before one and knocked again. George opened the door, an uncertain smile on his face; he seemed shy. He had nervous tics. He was often awkward and tongue-tied. These were traits she interpreted as endearing and influenced her to overlook the creepier aspects of his personality. Still, the way he kept staring down at her breasts made her skin crawl. She was accustomed to this from men but she still didn’t like it. But as time passed and they talked over the course of the afternoon he did it less and less until by late afternoon he was making steady eye contact.
And the tale he told, halting at first, about life with his oppressive mother. She used her gift to enrich herself and to force George to do her bidding. She could not be resisted. He just wanted to help people. Her powers of certainty and doubt were ineluctable. George just wanted to help people but his mother did not care at all. She physically and mentally abused George. As he had grown he had been more and more insistent with her until one day she used her gift to turn his off. He could no longer help people; he was visibly upset by this. His sorrow moved Amber to tears and when she cried he joined in. She resolved to help him.
It was all a lie, of course, and George was no better at deceit than honesty. But his story was animated by passion and therefore more convincing than if objectively told. Amber had no way to know that that passion originated in grievance rather than injury.
Ellen Bailey had checked into a downtown hotel. She would return home tomorrow. For now, she would try to sleep and to escape her thoughts, just for a night. She had ordered room service, but when the food came she could eat none of it. So many what ifs and should have beens. But at the end of the day, she had failed her only son, and he had failed the world. You killed people, Georgie, and therefore, I have killed people. And I…can’t live with that.
She picked at the cooling lasagna and forced herself to take a bite. These last weeks, since she had shut down his gift, she had known what must happen. She couldn’t face it. At least, not all at once. And so she had tried to approach it by degrees. She did not know who the strange young woman was who had appeared today. But this change, this odd break with routine, George receiving a visitor, could only be bad news.
Everything about George was bad news. He had used his ability to possess that dog a dozen years at the birthday party and he had killed another boy. She knew this; she couldn’t prove it but she knew it. He would sit on the porch when he was a boy and make people passing by stop and give him money. She didn’t have to prove anything. Everything about George was bad news. And that cheerleader, just a few years ago…George had not killed her but he had caused her death.
She had not liked the glint in his eye when he sent her away today. Something was happening. More bad news, more sad news for someone. She had avoided what she must do. But she could no longer.
Tomorrow when she returned home, George would have a terrible accident and she would spend the rest of her life helping others. She would spend the rest of her life making amends and aching to forget. She was able to take another bite and even enjoyed the lasagna. I cannot change what has happened but I can change the unwritten future. She turned on the TV and gazed through some nameless movie and slept deeply and dreamlessly until morning.
George texted Amber when his mother returned the next day. He intercepted Ellen in the hallway and told her he would be sending his girls over again. She appeared defeated. He sneered at her, “Did you have a good night?” but she waved him off.
The two naked girls entered a few minutes later. Ellen hated the sight of them. Everything about them made her feel sick and ashamed. George’s interpretation of sexuality was a perversion of intimacy. His reduction of two young women to mere sexual appliances, and their willingness to be reduced for such boorish reasons as money was a coarse and cruel twisting of connection. Everything about George was bad news. Ellen pointed to the back bedroom and they scurried out of her sight.
A few minutes later there was a knock at the door. Ellen had a growing sense of foreboding, but she answered.
“Mother, I would like you to meet my new friend Amber.”
The younger woman held out her hand in greeting. Ellen reached forward. It was odd to shake another woman’s hand. Amber held the grip and Ellen couldn’t pull away. She took a step backward but this pulled the younger woman toward her. She could not break the grip. She felt something emptying out of her. Then Amber released her hand.
She was unsteady. She almost fell. She watched as Amber put her hand on George’s forehead. George smiled.
“What did you do?”
She heard her own voice, a despairing wail.
“What did you do?”
“She transfers gifts, Mother. That is her gift. She has taken your abilities, stripped them out of you and put them into me. Permanently.”
He turned to Amber.
“Go wait for me in my apartment. Get undressed. Kneel on the floor – knees apart. I want to see those big boobs.”
Amber realized her mistake. In a rush she knew that everything George had told her had been a lie. Her eyes widened with fear. When she transferred powers she felt the ability. And what she had just transferred into George was the power of command. His mother had not ever fully disclosed the scope of her ability. And now it was his. Any command he issued would be obeyed: jump off this bridge, rob this bank, stop breathing.
As she started walking she felt her fingers unbuttoning her blouse. She wanted to vomit. Whatever he said…she would obey. There was no choice. Disobedience was impossible. As she walked into the apartment, removing her blouse, she realized that she was the perfect weapon. He could use her to find and steal the gifts of others. Oh, god, please don’t let him realize that…
Bra off, pants undone, her mind reeled as she began to truly understand what had just happened. She slid her underpants down. The power had informed her as it passed through her. His ability to command others was absolute. He could command anything humanly possible. He couldn’t change the laws of physics or biology. But he could demand total honesty, total disclosure, and total obedience. At least a slave could rebel. She could not.
He could make her remember things that had not happened and forget her best memories. He could command her emotions. He could change who she was. She would have to think as he commanded, believe as he told her. This would be a rape far more complete and total than merely sexual. Even if he didn’t use her as a leech on other gifted he would never let her go. As she knelt naked on the floor, as commanded, she began to comprehend what her new existence would be and she wanted to die.
Suddenly the two lights, one bright and one dim, became two bright ones as George used his mother’s stolen power to reactivate his own gift.
Ellen whispered, barely audible, “Please kill me quickly, George.”
“Thank you, mother. Thank you for everything. I have had fantasies and desires I couldn’t explore even paying the girls. But I don’t need to do that anymore. Now I can just tell them. Every fantasy…my harem. And I have a beautiful new slave – a very useful one with big tits. But my happy household will need a maid, of course. That’s where you come in – maid Ellen.”
“Please, George…kill me.”