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Chapter 29 - Revelations
Bianca was down to breakfast first and was having coffee when Claude and Zaire appeared, very touchy-feely. When Claude went to order them omelettes Zaire gave her two thumbs up and a huge smile then realised that Claude had seen her and was smiling too.
At that moment Burma came in with a rather plain Bogan girl who was obviously Flower. She was a radiant bride and he looked very proud, if a little worse for wear. Bianca was very pleased with herself. It had been a win-win-win situation. They were taken to a table across the room.
Zaire was sitting with her, having collected two glasses of juice, wanting to share her experiences when Claude arrived with two breakfasts and said:
"I'm afraid I have to do some work today. I have to debate some fundamentalists about the age of the Universe."
"That's odd. Who is this guy?" wondered Bianca.
"How come?" she asked.
"They're ignorant buffoons."
"No, I know that. How is it that you have to debate them?"
"I'm thought to represent the scientific, rationalist point of view. Would you like to come to the debate? It's stacked with their followers. I'd like to have at least one friendly face in the audience."
"What about me?" said Zaire, I'm coming too. Then she giggled.
"OK that would be great! Two friendly faces! Wait a minute."
He went away.
Bianca looked across to where Burma was waiting for an omelette and saw that he was gazing in her direction.
"Whoops," she thought. "Maybe he just wonders why I resemble the angel in his dreams. He's not supposed to recognise me at all."
The alternative was that he'd been fully aware the whole time and just pretended to go along with her. In which case, she may have broken-up a marriage; created a stalker; and/or launched a sexual predator.
Then Zaire decided to top-up her plate and Burma's head turned to follow her.
"The naughty boy, he's still sinning in his thoughts," Bianca said to her empty table. "Let's see what we can do about that."
She got up and casually walked over to him. Now he was ogling her. When she got up close she touched her index finger to her lips and suggested in a low voice that Flower was so sexy that he should take her in his arms, right here in the restaurant, and fuck her. Then she touched her nose and walked back to her table as a commotion broke out across the room.
Bianca was suddenly overcome with horror when she remembered that this was exactly what Margery had told Mohandas to do. My god, was she becoming another Margery?
If Burma was just playing along, it was a very good act. Flower was screaming at him for trying to do that in here and he was saying he didn't know what had got into him, she was just so sexy all of a sudden. The wait staff had no idea what to do. Throwing Burma out seemed the best option but he was about twice their size and obviously fit. The other Breakfast patrons had been highly amused and a couple of them gave him a cheer and a whoop; whoop; whoop. To quiet a rowdy dining room, management eventually accepted his sincere apologies let him sit back down. After all it was their honeymoon.
At that point Claude came back with two tickets looking bemused.
"What just happened? Oh, it's just Bogans!" he said.
That was when Bianca read the ticket details and realised who he was. He was that Claude, not some Claude.
"Oh My god! Thank goodness I didn't sleep with him. Margery's hand-me-down!"
"Was your ex-girlfriend called Margery?" she asked, already knowing the answer.
"Do you know her?" he asked.
"Oh yes, very well. She tried to murder me and frame me for another. Then she managed to do away with a man I was caring for. She also exploited a valuable idea of mine. Now I look at who you're debating and I see the guy she calls her Pet Bishop."
"Are you serious? You have to tell me more. I knew that there was something seriously wrong. That's why I've ended it."
But now Bianca had a terrible thought. Had Claude become one of Margery's victims? Had he been unconsciously enchanted as she had just enchanted Burma? Was Zaire in danger? Maybe he was expected to choose her last night? Was Margery lurking here somewhere, manipulating her pawn to finally deal with her rival?
Claude seemed alright. She needed some way of testing him.
"Start with what you know for certain," she thought: "The Bishop."
So she said: "It's a very long story. I'll tell you everything later but there's something that might help you in the debate."
She briefly told him about the Bishop's youthful indiscretions and how Margery had used them, one upon another, until she had him well and truly by the balls.
"She trains men, using Pavlovian conditioning, until they will even expose themselves in public on her command," she told him, not mentioning The Craft.
"You say she has a recording of him raping her and the medical certificates to prove it?" he confirmed.
"Ok. That's very useful," leave it to me.
Before the debate all the participants went to have their hair done and in some cases make-up applied. Claude made sure he sat next to the Bishop.
When the debate started Claude was particularly persuasive. It seemed that the Bishop was intrigued by the possibility that the universe could be just two hundred years old. The other fundamentalists got drawn in. Well yes, maybe the gospels were quite new and fresh, direct from the Creator's hand. All arguments about who might have written the Gospels or the Torah or the Koran would be redundant. The Creator made them in a flash together with all recorded history and the geological and evolutionary and cosmic evidence and human memory just two hundred years ago. It was a very attractive proposition. Everyone was happily in agreement until someone said:
"Or two hundred seconds ago. Since human memory is also evidence of the past. The Creator is all powerful."
After his initial argument Claude had said almost nothing. To wind it up they all had a last word. He was second last and he said:
"Well we've all agreed that the Creation could have been at any time in the past, from two hundred seconds to two hundred billion years ago or longer. I for one prefer to act as if it happened, for this Universe alone, in accordance with the physical evidence we have found. It's like a photograph that gives you evidence of a dead ancestor. All that evidence indicates that it was created around 13.8 billion years ago."
The Bishop was last and expected to finish of a creationist note. Instead he said:
"Professor Ball has convinced me. I agree with him. We should rely on the evidence that the Lord has given us."
Most of the audience protested incredulously and began to file out, except for two good looking young women who stood and whooped and clapped, dominating the soundtrack, as the credits rolled over the emptying theatre.
Bianca was now happy to go into more detail about Margery's misdeeds. Claude, for his part, told her about her burglar device.
As at the end of an Agatha Christie mystery, they soon filled in the missing pieces of the story. Isis was able to talk to Claude's VPA and together they broke into the BoganVillia database to confirm that Mohandas had purchased the components in the cloaking device.
When he learnt that Margery believed herself to be a witch, Claude was surprised but he'd already suspected that she'd been lying about being a Christian. It was much of a muchness to him.
"That explains why she's drawn to wearing black clothes and to riding her hover-bike at night. Like a witch on her broomstick. It always seemed at odds with the sophisticated image that she generally likes to project."
"If that doesn't worry you I have some more bad and some worse news for you," said Bianca. "Around the time Margery moved in below you, someone put a Cloud trace on my movements. I have software to detect and prevent such intrusions and killed the App. But I was interested in who'd done it. I traced it back to a developer called Woodsman so I installed a surveillance bot at his apartment. Guess who it reported?"
"It certainly was. My surveillance bot recorded a lot of interesting video detailing Margery's training methods. The bad news for you is that she was doing the most indecent things with Woodsman, when she took her 'little flights of fancy' in the evenings, at the same time that she was playing the demure girlfriend and potential Mrs Ball with you."
Claude was nonplussed. He thought she went to the gym or to work related functions. She often came back glowing from the exercise, like men who pretend to go for a run in the morning. He'd been totally deceived.
"Is that the only bad news? What could be worse?"
"Do you remember 'Cindy Sins and Sins and Sins', that movie featuring Cindy and Hank, that circulated soon after Cindy left you and you became Margery's boyfriend? Well, Hank was actually Phillip, Margery's previous boyfriend. By then, thanks to Margery, he'd fallen far from the family tree. Phillip is, or was, old money, from a very posh family."
"She likes to claim that she has spent intimate time with royalty. So that's him? Where's Phillip now?"
"It's a long story but in brief, after his romps with Cindy, Margery suggested that his movies were a bit tame and predictable, like thousands of other porn movies. If he wanted to be really famous he needed to break new ground. The resulting video: 'Hank Learns Animal Husbandry', went mega-viral, as Margery had promised him. It's still out there in Cyberspace attracting millions of views."
"He's that Hank. And he was previously with my Cindy? That was my Cindy? The porn star!" Claude said, wondering what he'd missed out on with Cindy.
Bianca was slightly put out by his evident nostalgia for a opportunities missed with Cindy and pressed on.
"When Phillip's family and friends received invitations to the preview they were less enthusiastic. Their revulsion, followed by condemnation and ostracism, was so great that Phillip was 'persuaded' to hold a death-day party at the VE Cathedral. Those who attended reported that he died happily, despite the Cathedral refusing to play a medley of his best scenes, singing the praises of the seductive Dark Lady who inspired his movies and made him a mega-star around the world."
"I remember it. It was one of the great celebrity funerals of the year. That was my Cindy! Wow!"
"The message is that when her men are of no more use to her, Margery doesn't take prisoners," Bianca persisted, getting annoyed at his sudden retrospective interest in Cindy. "I hope for your sake that you haven't been with her for too long. Has Margery ever shown you her silver ring or the pretty gold cylinder that she sometimes wears around her neck?"
"I've seen the ring and the other thing is familiar, yet I don't remember her actually showing either to me. At least I don't think so."
"That's not good news. She's enchanted you and told you to forget. That means that when you're in the appropriate frame of mind she can re-enchant you with a predetermined word or gesture. If she came to you now do you think you could resist her?"
"Oh my god, I was about to propose and I don't know why!" Claude admitted. "Maybe she could make me go to a VE Clinic."
"Not against your will. But she has ways of making you want to. For example 'a little something in you drink' might cause a temporary painful cramp. Then she might suggest that the pain is ongoing and getting worse. You would indeed be in pain and not just imagined. Just as pain can be eliminated by hypnotic suggestion or similar mind-altering practices, it can be induced. She might then suggest that you have cancer and need to end your life before it gets worse; and off to the Clinic you would go," Bianca suggested, realising that she had just described how she might go about it using her new skill. "In the meantime you should have your friend Ocker sweep your apartment for bugs, concentrating on your bedroom and toilets. Margery loves her little cameras. He will find several. And put any device with a camera in it in a draw."
"And if I were you I wouldn't even take a message from her," said Zaire, who'd been listening quietly in amazement.