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Chapter 31 - Marriage
Margery's life was suddenly spinning out of control. Claude had proven impossible to get back and now her credit stream from Find-a-loo@Air-ones&twos had inexplicably dried up. Worse, when she tried to use her interface to the App an alarming monster appeared in her screen in 3D and surround sound, shouting that it was the God Shiva come to take revenge on behalf of Mohandas. Had Mohandas planted time bomb in the event of his death? She got out the source code and showed it to Woodsman but he's an incompetent fool and could find nothing of that sort. It was like Mirror-Mirror all over again.
The bottom line is no bottom line. Circe, her VPA, keeps telling her that she can't take things from stores due to insufficient credit.
Claude is now seeing this woman Zaire. At least she can break them up and then get him back to support her lifestyle. All she needs to do is to catch him alone. Otherwise it's back to work to pay the power bills and building fees.
The other thing occupying her mind is eliminating the threat of Bianca. She has no idea that her two problems are related. She's been unable to find out anything about Bianca recently. So she is unsure if her plan to rob Bianca of her future happiness with Mohandas by sacrificing him has worked. Now she also suspects that Bianca used Mohandas as bait to lure her into her witch's trap.
She'll give Woodsman one last chance to redeem himself. When she used Mohandas' password to put the evidence of his stalking her onto his work computer, she'd taken the opportunity to upload his local drive to a folder in The Cloud. It's meaningless mumbo-jumbo to her but Woodsman can look and tell her if there is anything in there that she could use.
Woodsman got annoyingly enthusiastic about some brilliantly written 'functions' in there and insisted on telling her about the boring project that Mohandas had been working on. Margery had just given it up as a dead end when Woodsman remarked that it was a pity that it was unfinished, because for the week before the Christmas Party, Mohandas had spent all his time looking for a security leak.
"So what," thought Margery, until he added that someone called Bianca McLeish had unauthorised access to the system and he was investigating how she had got in.
"That little witch! She did dangle him in front of me. But not as bait, as food!" she told an uncomprehending Woodsman.
"She deliberately gave me the App idea and then handed me Mohandas to work on it in breach of his contract. She wanted him sacked. She's been playing me all along. I bet she wasn't even upset when I made him suicide. She was probably relieved that the investigation was over when I'd stupidly hoped that it would destroy her life. I've being playing right into her hands."
There had been a memorial service for Mohandas. Margery found the video in an online shrine to Mohandas that had been constructed for his parents. She examined the mourners. There was Bianca, calm and looking quite stunning she thought, comforting a young woman whom Margery had never seen before. The young woman was quite hysterical with grief. Her name was listed in the attendance register: Mary Lords. Circe quickly identified her. She's a sex-worker specialising in the disabled but she hasn't turned a trick since Mohandas died. Margery felt terrible for the poor girl, she had inadvertently hurt an innocent bystander.
Contrary to the confident image Margery portrays to the world, there have been many times when Margery has felt herself a victim and not in control of her life. She went from an abusive uncle to a manipulative and evil teacher who controlled her every thought. In between she had lost her baby boy when Greg had lost his temper with her. Even her control over her Bishop wasn't her idea, she was as much a pawn as he. To this day she has no idea why Morag wanted to have a 'sleeper' in the Catholic Church. Now she's been manipulated yet again. And her attempts to harm this new witch in her life have done nothing but harm her. She's twice sacrificed lovely Mohandas with whom she had become very fond. The first time was in an attempt to burn Bianca alive. Then Bianca had somehow fooled her into believing that she loved Mohandas. But now after sacrificing him a second time she's discovered that Bianca was indifferent and tricked her yet again. She was probably pleased to be rid of him.
Margery had made a terrible mistake, Mohandas was poor Mary Lord's true love. Mary reminds her of herself when she was that age, turning tricks for a living. Seeing how that other girl loved him Margery felt jealous. She could have made Mohandas her husband. He had truly loved her and might have made a life with him in his palatial apartment, had she not been chasing after Bianca's red herrings. She found herself grieving for Mohandas - or what might have been.
She realised that one reason that she'd not imagined Mohandas as husband material was that he was the same age as her lost baby boy. Instead of his age opening her heart to Mohandas, it had made him seem too young for a serious relationship and a plaything. It also caused her to resent him and his comfortable privileged life: living in that luxurious apartment and doing whatever amused him, like writing code for a living; not caring about credit as long as he had enough to allow him to build his toys and equip his beloved work room.
In contrast, her life had been one long struggle. It started early, when her mother turned out to be on her uncle's side when little Margery was first abused by him. Rather than protecting Margery, she had connived to give her brother easy access to her young daughter. Then she'd accused Margery of being a terrible liar when she appealed to her father and their priest for help. Both were right under her mother's thumb anyway. So in turn Margery had turned to seduce her brother, as had her mother a generation earlier.
Margery got her revenge some years later when she lured the man to a dangerous beach. Her mother was grief stricken when her beloved brother drowned. Then there was Greg. Most of what Margery had told Bianca was true. She'd looked for a boofy protector on-line and ticked gullible Greg into thinking she was sixteen. But then she got pregnant and after seven months she could no longer hide it from her mother, who immediately saw an opportunity for blackmail. She demanded that Greg transfer his entire credit and sign over his future earnings to her or she would have him charged with carnal knowledge of a minor. That was when eighteen year old Greg realised that he'd been trapped and now he could be a criminal or a pauper.
Margery had no affection for Greg. His main utility was sexual, she now had a considerable appetite, and as her on-call thug. She was often intemperate when speaking to him, belittling him at every opportunity. Her advice, when he came to her in tears and punching everything in sight was:
"Tell the witch to go to hell you moron. She'll shop you in the end anyway. You might as well get it over with now and take your medicine like a man. You're pathetic!"
After he'd punched her in the stomach and she'd lost their baby, he was pathetically sorry. But he had to go; almost in the way she'd told Bianca.
A social worker dealing with rape victims told her of a haven for girls like her. It was a property in the country. The haven was run by Morag. Soon she was doing tricks to pay for her board and lodgings and tuition fees.
"That witch has so much to pay for," she shouted, and began to sob.
Woodsman looked at her in alarm. Even Margery was not sure which witch.
Obviously Margery is without a job and her new 'friends' have turned out to be Claude's friends. There's something wrong with her Cloud access. It's very cloudy indeed. It seldom seems to work properly. In spite of his so-called expertise with this annoying technology, Woodsman is no help.
"Pull yourself together," she told herself. "You've been down before. Pick yourself up and try again."
She formulated a plan. Once she's reunited with Claude she'll regain her strength and get everything back on track. First she needs to have that chat with the Bishop about spilling the beans to Claude and then use him to get Claude away from Zaire. Maybe she can kill two birds with one stone.
Margery imagines that the Bishop approached Claude. She doesn't know that when Claude had spoken to the Bishop about his past, before the debate, the Bishop had been devastated. There was no way the he would have revealed a thing. "How widely is this known?" he'd desperately wanted to know.
He prayed all night and in the early hours knocked on Claude's door. Claude assured him that it was all over. There was to be no blackmail and he was not a person to pass judgement, particularly as the poor man was clearly the victim. The Bishop was amazed. How could an atheist be so forgiving? He knew his fellow churchmen wouldn't be as understanding. The rape might well have been staged but the girl was under-age. He'd engaged in the foulest sexual acts with her since; and she'd recorded it all. Most recently she'd even recorded the actual feel of his organ entering her, in the most vivid sensual detail. All the while he'd been preaching abstinence and counselling younger priests on the need for celibacy.
He considered a visit to a VE clinic, a mortal sin, as a way of avoiding exposure as a rapist and a paedophile.
Yet nothing happened. Claude was as good as his word. There wasn't even a hint of ongoing blackmail to change his public statements on the Creation. Who knows if it was out of fear or not but the Bishop examined his conscience in any case and decided that his concluding remarks in the debate had not been coerced. He'd had an epiphany and this was now what he truly believed. God's plan was not a mere 4,000 years old but over three million times greater; and all the more wonderful for it.
Just as he was feeling comfortable and almost happy Margery paid him a visit. She asked him what he had told Claude. He said: "Nothing that the man didn't already know." Even when she presented her witching ring that enchanted him when he knelt, he gave the same answer. It was the first time that he'd seen her lost for words. She couldn't begin to imagine how Claude had discovered any of this. Had she left evidence in her apartment? No, everything is safely in encrypted files off-site in The Cloud.
The Bishop found that he had no option but to give her pleasure in a most undignified way. She made him 'eat humble pie', as she termed it.
After she had asserted her authority. She demanded that he ask for a meeting with Claude and that Muslim girl. He was to suggest that they get married, with the blessing of Mother Church.
"You will offer to convert her and to overlook his atheism."
He objected that neither of them was likely to agree.
"But that's the whole point," she said.
The meeting duly took place with the predicted outcome. Claude was very nice about it because he was beginning to like the Bishop. But on the way back to Claude's place Zaire asked if it was ever likely to happen.
"What?" he asked.
"Marriage," she said.
He was evasive. He had almost proposed to Margery without knowing why. Now he was under similar, if more obvious, pressure.
Zaire was angry and demanded that he take her to her new hi-rise apartment near Bianca instead of going to his place.