Shiva's Messenger

Harrows for a Sparrow

Chapter 4

Harrows for a Sparrow

‘I’ll print out this picture you sent me and put it beside my bed.’ Lyra looked at the image again. “See cuddles,” she held a stuffed teddy bear at the monitor and whispered in it’s ear, “his boobs are almost bigger than mine.” The photo seemed as an overweight schoolgirl’s body with a baldhead pasted on with retouching software. “I also really like that skirt you’re wearing.”

‘It’s called a kilt,’ the older man Lyra was keyboard chatting with was quick to note—but slow to type out, ‘and before you inquire of the purse in front—that is called a sporran.’

‘If I looked into it, what would I find?’ The girl keyed swiftly and then sat back to read. She was much faster with her fingers than any of the men she corresponded with.

‘In the sporran or under the kilt?’

‘I hope you have a healthy supply of condoms in the first because I’ve heard a true Scot has nothing under the second.’ The young woman laced her fingers together and waited for the slow response.   “I’m hoping that his sporran also has some cash in it and I want it from him today?”

‘When I’m thinking of you nothing isn’t as I would describe it.’

‘LOL. You nasty old coot!’ Lyra did find it funny and she chuckled.   The clever girl also envisioned a juicy opportunity dangling underneath. ‘I want a kilt to wear for you in the real Scottish style.’

‘If I buy one for you will you email me a picture?’ The man’s answer came back after an extra-long delay. He had typed ‘send you the money for one’ before backspacing to say ‘buy one’. The young woman had software that allowed her to view his composition—even before he hit the enter key.

‘My sad blue eyes have tears because I must wait for a package to arrive.’ Lyra’s eyes blew to her clothes closet of costumes where she had a plaid schoolgirl’s skirt: it could be easily modified to appear as traditional highland attire. ‘A store here sells stuff like that. I could buy one sooner but I haven’t enough money so I suppose must be patient.’

‘Can I see what you’re wearing just now?’ He urged.

‘Sure.’ Lyra smiled at the request. Just getting to the point of being able to ask this question had already cost the Scot some cash: first, he sent money for her to buy the camera and then needed extra to hire an expert to install the software for her. Half a dozen other men have also paid for the same equipment and installation. ‘Wait while I put some clothes on.’

‘You don’t have to be shy with me.’ Seemingly, the man would have preferred her undressed as he typed out several forms of the sentiment but he didn’t send it.

“My net boyfriend is in a quandary.” She spoke to the computer screen while awaiting his tediously slow reply. “He is uncertain of how to ask to see me naked. I can help him out with that dilemma.”

‘I’m back’. She turned on the camera to show that she had on a pair of low-rise jeans and a skimpy top that bared her slim midriff.

‘What I can see of you looks sexy as always.’

‘If I did have a kilt,’ she stood and moved the camera from the monitor top to the desk level where her lower torso and thighs were mid screen, ‘how far down would it go?’

‘There.’ He watched the streaming video as she slowly slid a flat hand down her legs and replied when it was positioned just above her knees.

‘I wish I could be wearing it right now.’ She sat and put her feet on the edge of the desktop: her hand remained at her knees to show where the hemline would be. ‘I would have it on in the Scottish way.’

“Do you envision what you would be looking at?” Lyra looked at the camera view window on her monitor to ensure that her pose was perfect. If she were wearing a kilt, without her panties on, the man on the other end of the chat would have an ideal view of her female gender.

‘Wee nede to gst you one,’ his impulsively moving fingers fumbled.

‘I can’t afford one on my small salary.’ Lyra smiled inwardly, her trick in getting men to send her money was in her never directly asking for cash. She always thought of ways like this to maneuver them into offering.

‘I’ll send you the money to buy one.’ With his offer, the man proved that Lyra could talk a Scotsman out of his kilt. ‘Should I send the money to the same place as before?’

‘Yes and remember that I can’t buy as cheaply as you can there because it’s imported to a specialty shop.’ The young woman heard a toilet flush in the master bedroom. That meant Dmitri was finally awake. ‘I’ll sleep now so I can get up early. I’ll collect the money in the morning and next time we chat, I’ll be all decked out in my kilt.’

“~If you had known you would be so thirsty today,” she arrived in the kitchen in time to see Dmitri standing at the open fridge and guzzling cold water directly from the pitcher, “~you could’ve drank more last night.”

“~I planned on having two drinks.” He grinned sheepishly. “~Those were the first one and the last. Those between don’t count.”

“~It’s your liver.” The girl rubbed his neck with her one hand to show that she wasn’t angry. “~I have some money coming in from Scotland.”

“~I’ve got Pavel’s worm up and running again.” He ignored her news in favor of his. “~I was celebrating that accomplishment last night.”

“~That’s marvelous.” Lyra tried to hold the sarcasm in her voice to a minimum. She had been hearing about this fabulous worm since she and Dmitri finally hooked up. The highly touted virus hadn’t produced a dime but it monopolized the young policeman’s off-duty time.

“~Pavel used it to extract valid traveler’s check numbers from the issue company’s computer.” He excitedly recounted the tale—yet again. “~He had a forger print up some good looking paper and when we cashed them, the computer net verified them as real. It was a totally brilliant scheme.”

“~It’s a shame that the tsunami washed the phony checks away.” The young woman finished the rest for him. Lyra had heard it often enough. For a law enforcement person, Dmitri has a cavalier attitude towards his brother’s, and his own lawbreaking.

Neither that scam, nor Pavel’s other moneymaking schemes survived long and a junior policeman’s salary didn’t cover the same expenses. Had Lyra not discovered her knack for convincing foreign men to send her cash, the couple would’ve long-since defaulted on the apartment rent.

“~I’m sure the worm will do the job now.” Dmitri consoled.  “I’ve already tested it on some smaller computer networks.”

“~Let’s just have some tea.” She changed the subject to avoid having this talk devolve into another argument.

“~Why did you change your mind about me in Bangkok.” Dmitri saw her backing down as an opportunity to delve into another contentious issue.

“~I’ve told you a thousand times.” At least she had told him part of it. “~You showed me that of all your faults, jealousy wasn’t one of them.”

“~What really did transpire in that man’s hotel room?” The young man had also tried to ascertain this previously, but her answer was never full.

“~We had sex for money.” Lyra poured the Orange Pekoe tea.

“~You never did it again though.”

“~That you know of.” The girl offered a truth masked in a mysterious voice to conceal the authenticity.

“~Are you ever going to tell me about that Bangkok experience?”

“~Why don’t I show you with a snake break.” She closed one eye and looked at her fixedly with the other. The look was their private visual cue for sex: it simulated the view that a one-eyed trouser-worm has.

“~Oh alright.” His feigned sigh was as if the upcoming pleasurable duty was a nasty chore. “~This is an unfair way of evading my question.” He griped in vain, while unbuckling his belt.

“~Where will we play this time?” As she stripped off her blue jeans, the female looked around for a place they hadn’t used lately.

“~How about standing on the balcony?” Dmitri asked as he put a cd into the player: he saw her nod and head in that direction. He cranked up the volume to be heard from outside. “~I’ll grab the afghan so our nosey neighbors can’t watch us this time.”

Lyra felt her standard trepidation as she stepped out onto the narrow veranda. She glanced down at the ground—fourteen floors below and her knees went to rubber. Oddly, it wasn’t a fear of dying that gave her chills: she had been briefly dead once and that was a pleasurable experience. She always pictured herself falling, but her eyes invariably scanned the trees and other objects that might partially break her fall. The mental image of how badly injured she would be on surviving is what scared her the worst.

On the other hand, body sensations stirred up by mild acrophobia also lent for an improved chance of her climaxing during the sex.

“~I’m the king of it all,” Dmitri intoned, “when we do it out here.”

‘One night in Bangkok and the world’s your oyster’. As the coupling got started, the lyrics from an old song by Falco ran through Lyra’s mind. I did have my night there. Dmitri’s inquisition had reminded her of her first foray into prostitution—that thrilling evening had started out with her expectation of finding her oyster’s pearl.

“Like two sparrows in a hurricane.” The Russian policeman sang a line from the song playing on the stereo: he pumped his hips in tune with it. “Trying to find their way.”

He’s continually finding ways to put us out-of-synch with one another. The music running in each of their minds seemed to scribe a trouble clef in their lovemaking rhythm as well. He was banging her snare on a country & western baseline but the melody in her mind was the throb of rock & roll. Through an instrumental riff, they didn’t speak but the metronome of the sex act was a mental catalyst.

‘One night in Bangkok makes a hard man crumble’. Another line from Falco’s song had come true for her first sex client. Even that night’s final event was a memorable occurrence. Conversely, she couldn’t recall even one night with Dmitri as standing out prominently from the tedious blur.

“~I could spend whole my life like this.” The Slavic boy cooed the words in time to his music, but they weren’t actually part of the real lyrics. Dmitri Kosloff and Lyra Droski had cohabited for some time now and for him, bliss was a whirlwind he hoped would never blow past.

“~I won’t continue on like we are forever.” The passion fires ignited in her memories were suddenly dashed with a quenching bucket of humdrum from her current existence. I don’t usually need to fake my orgasms, but I always must play act that my entire life isn’t terminal tedium.

But words can be badly misconstrued. Dmitri had been concentrating on trying to time his sexual dance with a beat emanating from the speakers.

“She’s got his ring and he has the key to his heart.” The Russian man sang with another of the song’s English lyrics and the words provided him with illumination. He pulled his face back to examine her expression.

Lyra tried to avoid his eyes as she listened to him sing the next line.

“It’s just a matter of time: they’ll find their wings and fly.”

I need a new gust under my feathers. The girl made up her mind. Then she saw a look of inspiration flash over his face. Don’t say it!

“~When Pavel’s worm starts paying off,” Dmitri believed he knew what she wanted, “~we can finally get married.”

“~Finally?” Lyra guffawed. “~Are you on glue? That issue has never even had an initially.” She had a twinge of regret over her less than subtle refusal, but he had popped the question so stupidly. “~When your revered brother’s precious virus starts working, I’ll push my life’s reset button and start again at the point where I made the wrong move.”

“~I thought—uh—girls always wanted—uh.” His long-absent stammer resurfaced as a rusty exercise wheel in the young man’s skull-cage spun into overdrive: it was like a gerbil in his brain was on amphetamines.

“~Sex is the one thing we do together.” Lyra glanced down at their two bodies performing. She suddenly felt some freedom and translated it into a renewed vigor in her lovemaking session. “~I want more.”

“~I—uh—what—uh—why? He sensed finality in her statement but it didn’t mesh with the physical reality of their current pelvic affiliation.

“~Shut up!” The female felt an intense orgasm building. She locked a heel behind his butt and wildly bucked. Even if Pavel’s worm doesn’t hit pay dirt, I’m still digging my escape tunnel.

She needn’t have worried about whether Pavel’s digital worm worked: it did. Instead, her concern should’ve been if it did the job too well. As a hacker, the young brother didn’t inspire much awe but the older sibling had truly been brilliant. Any hack artist can write a malicious virus but Pavel’s intent was to make money with his. He had installed many delimiters to ensure his worm only delved where it would produce monetary results. He set tight parameters to keep his program operating under-the-radar.

Dmitri’s bragging about getting the worm running again wasn’t quite accurate. All he had really done is to haphazardly pull out Pavel’s safety measures. The small test runs had actually performed far in excess of what he had seen. Pavel had evaded the radar, but Dmitri had registered on the equivalent of a seismometer: the worm had shocked the Internet Ocean’s floor and now a tsunami of a different sort was headed ashore.


Four hard men flowed like a tidal surge from the opening elevator door. Their shoe heels clattered on the hallway’s parquet flooring, but they did not utter a word. Their uniforms were simple black slacks and white shirts with shoulder holsters. They looked like thugs, and that’s what they were, but the leader had disciplined them into performing as a paramilitary force.

The squad sergeant quickly found the desired door and the men formed a semi-circle around it. One man drew a sledgehammer and poised it over his back, for a two handed swing.

Silently, the captain held up three of his fingers. Two, he crooked a knuckle to start the countdown. In one-second intervals, he curled each of the other fingers. On zero, the hammer hit the deadbolt housing. It took only one strike to send the door’s bolt through a shattered lintel.

The men pouted into the apartment. Three had their handguns already drawn and the fourth readied his weapon after the wrecking tool was cast aside. A rapid series of silent indications sent some squad members into other rooms, to quickly survey for occupants. The grey-haired but ultra-fit assault leader entered the living room, where he espied the coupling young couple: they were unaware of the unexpected audience.

Called ‘The Anaconda’, for his cold-blooded ruthlessness and one other unspecified reason, the master ruffian watched the erotic scene outside the glass doors while terse seconds ticked by. He waited for his men to finish a reconnoitering. Normally frozen as an expressionless block of ice, the man’s angular jaw clenched as the girl shifted slightly and revealed her face. His tightly clamped teeth pushed the hinge muscles into knots behind the gaunt hollows of his cheeks. Hatred dilated his pupils and his eyes became flat black and reptilian, as the snake he was named for.

“~Now!” A side-glance showed that two of his team had reassembled. Anaconda regained his unimpassioned demeanor and ripped the French door aside. The ex-commando reached out and grabbed the concealing blanket: he jerked heavily on it.

Suddenly jolted, the twosome tumbled in a jumble of flesh onto the carpeted floor. The girl scrambled to cover herself with the spread but the leader stomped his foot onto the material. She sat nude, with knees drawn up in an attempt at modesty as the old man stared at her with cold malice.

“~Are you Pavel Kosloff?” The lizard-like man hissed.

“~Who wants him?” Dmitri’s voice was high pitched.

“~I’m asking the questions.” The man nodded to his underlings and hands from either side gripped the nude boy’s arms to jerk him erect. The villain leaned so close that the words came complete with a gust of breath. “~You are advised to answer honestly. Did you initiate computer attacks targeted on our client’s software?”

The alphabet soup of Dmitri’s confusion had no answer floating in it.

“~When I ask,” without a twitch to telegraph it, the enforcer brought a knee up to connect solidly with the boy’s crotch, “~you promptly respond.”

Dmitri convulsively doubled up in reaction to a vicious shock in his most sensitive nerve ganglia. His feet jerked off the floor but the men on his arms tightened their holds and kept him aloft.

“~I found these in the bedroom.” The last goon to return brandished Dmitri’s gun and badge.

“~Leave us be,” the young policeman saw the tools of his job as his salvation, “~or you’ll be charged under the law.”

“~With the law as your umbrella,” Anaconda scoffed and stepped into Dmitri’s chest, “your hair still gets soaked in the rain.” His iron-fingered hands grabbed the youth painfully by the skin at the sides of his belly.

“~Pavel Kosloff is dead.” Lyra tried to stand but was pinned by hands on her shoulders, from behind.

“~I’m not speaking to you yet.” The squad leader cast the words down without a side-glance at the female recipient. The subalterns on either side released their grips and the incredibly strong leader took the boy’s weight. “~Dead fingers don’t play on keyboards. Now, is the virus yours?”

In terror and torture, Dmitri flicked his eyes to his ex-girlfriend. His memory traveled back to the phone-stealing episode in Thailand when he had acted wrongly. The policeman dipped into his seldom tapped well of courage and spat into the cold-blooded snake’s face.

“~Tell him everything!” Lyra reacted first to the defiant act. They can get what they want without a sacrifice!

“~Unless you can bargain for your life,” the middle-aged mobster had spent half his adult lifetime in the Spetsnaz forces and the rest in one of the world’s most brutal criminal organizations: he’d killed many men and one more cop presented no difficulty, “~you’ve just bought a death sentence.”

“~What do you want?” Lyra asked and her eyes fixed on the mobster. In comparison to Dmitri’s scrawny body, the man was a Greek god. He is holding Dmitri aloft and the man’s biceps don’t even seem fully strained.

“~You’ll know when I’m talking to you,” Anaconda tersely spoke to the young woman, but again it was without making eye contact, “~because I’ll give you a hard beforehand slap, to gain your attention.”

“~I won’t do any more viruses.” Dmitri’s voice was squeaky.

“~You might’ve considered cooperating before spitting.” Anaconda’s eyes flicked down at the nude female. “A promise of good behavior can’t commute a death sentence. Give me your cute girlfriend as my hostage?”

“~Yes.” The pain from the skin pinch compounded with the prior groin injury had the young policeman ready to offer anything. His tortured brain also recalled her threat of leaving him just moments before.

“~I’m not an object for barter.” Lyra tried to stand, but a thug held her.

“~Then we have a deal and the woman is now mine.” Anaconda set the young man back on his wobbly feet and relaxed his grip. Dmitri was now between him and the open veranda door.

“~If you take her,” Dmitri flipped his decision as the hurtful grasp was removed, “~my department and I will hunt you down.”

“~No,” the vicious lead thug quickly lifted his hands to the flesh under the young Russian’s armpits and carried him to the balcony, “~you won’t.” The Anaconda paused. “~Was that hesitation sufficiently long to prove my actions as purely in cold blood?” Then, with muscles as grapefruits under his skin, the mafia man channeled his strength to heave fast and hard.

The stricken boy’s thighs contacted the metal as his upper body flew out over the rail of the fourteenth floor terrace. Dmitri’s arms flailed as his fingers sought in vain to catch a purchase in the air. Gravity reached irrepressible tendrils to grasp a fragile life precariously suspended and time seemed in macabre slow motion.

The lecherous goon restraining the girl had slid his fingers down for a two-handed groping of Lyra’s chest. She bunched her feet under her body and jumped up quickly. As a well-struck cue ball on the eight, the back of her skull careened off her captor’s bulbous nose. With a yelp, the ruffian snatched back both hands to grab at his pummeled face.

Lyra dashed outside to witness as outward momentum tore the boy’s legs over the upper bar. His one knee curled desperately around the railing but the Anaconda quickly flipped the doomed policeman’s heel over too.

“Dmitriiiiiiii!” The girl’s long shriek trailed off as her lungs ran out of air to sustain the wail. Her volume matched Dmitri’s diminishing scream as he plummeted past the thirteen balconies below. A wet-sounding smack on the pavement punctuated the end of his life.


“It doesn’t take a crystal ball to unerringly predict what Wall will do to this Low-Key upstart.” Stryker didn’t have a disk: he had downloaded the program from the net. “The better question is what should I do about it.”

“I have more on Bob’s recent doings.” The intern tasked with Wall handed over a thick file: he knew better than to query or comment on his tractable employer’s self musing. “An American expatriate lawyer in Kiev also has some information for sale.”

“I’ll buy it as usual.” Bernard neither asked the price nor particularly cared about the information’s value. Stryker could generally derive profit from his information and when he couldn’t, the fact that a seller sold it, had its own later uses. “Track down all the data on this ‘Low-Key’ Systems. I might wish to contact them.”

“Yes sir.” The underling had already begun to do that, but his saying so prematurely would have disastrous career effects. “That’s all I have.”

“Then on your way out,” Stryker offhandedly waved him away, “send in the next.” The Stryker Group’s espionage and information gathering was without peer. Its capabilities outstripped even the CIA and FBI, as top sources in those organizations kept Bernard appraised of what they knew.


Sergey Yanderiev scowled as a GAZ 3110 Volga with a badly wrinkled fender pulled up to his mansion in a suburb of northern Kiev. His derisive look turned to a grimace, as filthy men emerged.

“~That was a perfectly good car when you left.” Often called ‘The Obshina’, for the Chechen gang he hailed from, Sergey ruled a Mafia sub-culture in the Ukraine capital.

“~She barfed in there.” Max’s face was a mess of clotted blood from his nose and crusted vomit.

“~Then Max spewed onto my neck,” the driver added, “~and that made me swerve into a parked truck.”

“~It smelled awful,” Max defended, “and her last meal gushed from her like a sealed bag of leftover stew exploding in a microwave oven.”

“~If you hadn’t drank vodka all night,” the Anaconda emerged from the front passenger side: his face and clothes were also drenched in barf, “~and then swallowed your nose blood, you might’ve kept your stomach.”

“~I don’t need a retch by heave description.” Sergey kicked the car’s fender—and it fell off with a clatter.

“Is this an example of panache?” The Obshina was younger than the Anaconda by twenty years. He was shorter by six inches but outweighed his chief enforcer by half again. While speaking, he stroked a dark brown stubble beard. With his weak chin dipped downwards, the double rolls of fat under his jowls looked like he was wearing a turtleneck dickey of coarse wool. Bristly hair on his round head was only marginally longer so it was as if the material continued up to his bald spot with cut out holes for his ears and his upper face.

“My conduct was exemplary.” The Anaconda matched the language change. “My team has one member who is worthless.”

“Blood is thicker than brains and we both know why I must put up with his incontinence.” The Obshina turned back to the sedan’s cabin. The girl was dragged out, wrapped a puke-coated blanket.

“Incontinence is an inability to control the bladder.” Anaconda almost laughed. “That’s funnier in this case than if you had said incompetence.”

“~Who is she?” Sergey ignored the comment: he didn’t understand it.

“~According to her passport,” the Anaconda switched back to Russian too, “~she is Lyra Droski. She was the hacker’s brother’s shack-up.”

“~His brother’s?”

The mob chieftain, Lyra noted, starkly contrasts his men in the quality of his clothing. While the others wore vomit-splattered white short-sleeved shirts, their employer was attired in an expensive tailored suit. At least, she assumed it was tailored but it could’ve been off-the-rack at a hefty man’s clothing shop because his box shape needed no darts to make it fit. One can put an orangutan in a tuxedo—but it’s still just an ugly ape.

The weather at the downtown apartment had been overcast and humid. Here, higher in the Dnepr valley the clouds were down to the ground. A backdrop of grey mist was as an off white wall behind a mug shot photo. The only item missing was a bar with prisoner numbers held at his chest.

“~The real hacker won’t be doing viruses against your client anymore because he previously died.” Anaconda gave his recounting added punch, by suddenly ripping off the girl’s blanket. He stared with a slight smirk. “It seems your source gave poor information. The younger was attempting to digitally resurrect his revered sibling: I rid us of that problem as well.”

Lyra tried to speak but her emotions were in flux and she had no voice. The boyfriend she didn’t love was dead at the hands of a man she found physically attractive, but morally repulsive. Nakedly, she shuddered: her flesh was as a plucked chicken’s—it prickled with the attentions of his eyes but also recoiled at being looked at by him. Her mind also wavered as poultry might when the farmer who fed the bird—arrived with an axe.

“~Take her to the basement and you men can have some fun.” Sergey wagged a finger. “~Be careful though. I don’t want her marred.”

“~Don’t start until I’m there.” Anaconda nodded and two men rushed to grab the girl’s arms. As the goons dragged her away, the grim lieutenant waited. He correctly sensed his boss had private instructions.

“I want her looking succinct for video work.” The Obshina switched back from Russian to English.

“After my men have shattered her spirit,” Anaconda answered in the same language but his command of the tongue was much better than his employer’s, “she’ll still be succulent beyond wasted words.”

“By contrast, my tender attentions should be like splendor.”

“I had assumed this much.” His dictionary is seemingly open on the ‘S’ pages but ‘bliss’, ‘heaven’ or ‘paradise’ would’ve been a better choice of words. This time, Anaconda declined correcting the improperly usage: he wasn’t overly thrilled by Sergey’s recent use of him as a language tutor.

“You know me too well, my friend as I know you.” Sergey flashed tobacco brown teeth and moved to take his subordinate’s elbow—but he reconsidered. “Will I delight your loyalty with a less precious lady?”

“You insult my perversion.” Anaconda construed delight as treat and precious as valuable but refused the offer. “A masochist begs for a beating but the true sadist says no. Killing a dilapidated female gives her a release from torment. That’s often my job but it’s seldom for my true pleasure?”

“Victor Rasputin,” Sergey brought a ghost from the closet of memory, “the legendary lover but with a fatal affliction.”

A younger Victor Rasputin was a prized henchman in the mob Sergey’s father controlled. He had been wounded through his act of poor judgment. Though still a teenager, Sergey Yanderiev had the foresight to invent an excuse to allow the man’s recovery time. By keeping the secret from his father and especially from his older brother, the ambitious young mob boss had bought loyalty. The reemerged Anaconda was in himself, as strong as a battalion of thugs and that tenacity had fueled the Obshina’s building a Mafia empire in Kiev.

“That name no longer applies to me.” Anaconda’s jaw tightened at the mention of his former name. “After that one lapse my personal discipline is no longer subject to compromise.”


Propelled down the steps, Lyra steeled her resolve for the worst. At aged sixteen, her mother was taken as a prostitute slave of the Russian mob and became hooked on heroin. How sadly prophetic it seemed the same fate was destined for a second generation, still, there were differences between the mother and her child.

Lyra knew the poignant tale of her mother’s fall from grace in detail. Jinder Stryker had been pristine virginal, innocent, cherished and coddled away from the evils of the world. When a plummet into degradation came, it was a plunge into horror that devastated her. Though she held back on speaking of the father, Jinder had told all details of both her abduction and the retaliation she had inflicted on the main perpetrator. Conversely, the daughter had streetwise savvy and some experience as a prostitute.

I also have my father’s eyes and that might count for something. The girl thought of her father in the Gandalf mental image. Were he here, these goblins would be quickly slain. Her mind pictured Bilbo’s adventures in the misty mountains and this dingy hallway could’ve been an orc tunnel.

Lyra tried, but failed at shutting her senses off the stench. The ambient aromas equaled the values of cloying sweat, excessive tobacco, stale beer and festering refuse. These variables were multiplied by the time since the last janitor’s visit to this part of the house.

The stinking hallway ended at a bedroom where the furniture consisted of a sagging double bed with a stained sheet and a chest of drawers. The overpowering smell in this room was rancid lust that blotted out the other mingled stenches.

Max, the vomit encrusted, fleshy man with a blood-smeared face had first groped her in the apartment. He freely copped a feel while waiting for the Anaconda but that wasn’t enough: he roughly pushed her onto the bed.

That nose looks tender: I wonder if I can accidentally bump an elbow into it during the throws of some pretended passion. The captive ignored the invasive hands and observed the men instead. Max was near to forty: his body was almost as an overweight female in a full-term pregnancy. His belly could’ve held healthy triplets and his flabby man-breasts were big enough to lactate a feast for those babies.

Two other goons were standing back at the doorway.   In late twenties or early thirties, they might even be brothers. The difference was that one suffered from acne and the facial pimples ranged from blackheads to white sores: ripe with pus. She need take care of those or some may explode.

These men will rape me and I’m powerless to prevent that, Lyra took in her full realization of her situation, but I can employ passive resistance. Protecting her body from the abuse would be impossible but she might mitigate the mental harms by reducing the pleasures men found in her.

Lyra’s mother had begun her life in India, where she was raised in a meditative retreat of Tantric philosophy. Training had given the girl a solid grounding in the art of physical love then prostitution and her time with Dmitri had perfected her moves. Now, the girl could use her mother’s wisdom. Skills intended to enhance delights can also be reversed.

Her mother also told of the fragile male psych, as a prostitute can best know. I can deflate their egos with subtle hints of disappointment in their equipment and stamina. She could fake yearning for more when she knew they had nothing left. The men will rape me but I can figuratively do the same right back to them.

Hers was a decent strategy but as Sun Tsu suggests: ‘battle plans are effective only until the first contact with the enemy’.


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