There was a book.
Hidden behind a row of seemingly unrelated hardcovers, a secret compartment of sorts. A secret place where his most precious tome could rest, unnoticed. Reverently, he withdrew it, drawing it close to him as I tried to inconspicuously take it in. Despite the worship he clearly held, someone had not been particularly kind to the book, a dozen dog-eared corners bulged the worn edges of the pages and made the cover warp unevenly. A heavy crease left a white scar across the front, with similar lines along the spine where repetitive visits had worn the binding down.
I wasn’t certain how long it had been since my last breath, so I took one. He laid the book gingerly on the smooth, dark wood of the television stand, replacing the line of volumes that masked his hiding place. To call it a Bible felt accurate, though the contents weren’t the standard fare. It was the umbilical cord from which he drained the universe of its energy, his tether to the world as both God and Son alike.
“And in all things you ask for in prayer, believing, you shall receive.”
The confidence that had radiated so coolly from him felt increasingly sinister. I couldn’t be sure if the lights had dimmed when he’d spoken, or if my vision were playing tricks on me. The barest curl of a smile touched the corners of his thin lips, like the long, skeletal finger of a witch beckoning me into the darkness. I felt the draw of him, magnetic. No, not a magnet. A black hole. To own me was his right, per the word of his Lord. In desire, my energy belonged to him. My matter. My soul. It was what he wanted, thus the universe must kneel to his will.
Such beliefs appealed to him, to his greed. An insatiable hunger for that which he rightly must deserve, for to believe otherwise was unthinkable. Ten of us held audiences with him in his private chambers, one, sometimes two at a time. Silently, we were drawn from the festivities with a hushed whisper, brought to rest on the bed of pillows laid out on the carpeted floor.
“Watch this film with me. Just us,” he would murmur. Not a hot breath, but an almost icy one, not burdened with lust but with a heavy air of truth. “You are different from the others. You… will understand.”
The film was hypnotic. Mysticism cloaked in pseudo-science that pulled you underwater with carefully timed music and whispered promises. This was… his religion, I suppose. You could be part of it, he promised, as part of him. Everything you have ever desired, it could be yours, and he wanted that for you.
He would move to touch you.
To kiss you.
Our minds were heavy with murky fog, a dozen games he’d hosted having playfully coaxed liquor down our throats and the promise of food ‘later, later’ leaving our stomachs void of resistance. Fear clutched at my chest. Carbonation in my empty gut fizzled painfully in my protests. He was twice my size, at least, and the pillows made for an uneven terrain that I felt would leave me with a twisted ankle rather than an escape. None of us had a vehicle. I wasn’t even sure what town we were in, though I was fairly certain of the state. How many houses were on this street? Had I seen any on the way in? How many of us hadn’t resisted at all? How many had he gone through tonight?
My mouth responded far more quickly than my brain did, and I began to wax poetic about the content of the film. I begged to know more, to be taught this divine truth. I enthusiastically crooned, oh, how our atoms called for one another, that I was a part of him just as he’d said. I was drawn to him, yes, yes, I knew before I knew, you know?
He changed then.
About The Author
A new layer of shell peels away year by year, and despite everything, it’s still you. Ghosting from moment to moment and name to name, Emil – if that’s what you call him these days – has always come back to making sense of reality with the written word. A trans man living with his patient partners and beloved cat somewhere he’ll never find him.
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